Ian Maxwell wants Steve Clarke to be the Scotland national team manager for a “long time to come”.
Pre-Euro 2020, the SFA chief executive expressed his desire to extend the head coach’s contract beyond the World Cup qualifying campaign.
And now that the Scots have exited the tournament with one point from their group, he hasn’t changed his mind.
”As Steve said last night he wants to take us to Qatar with this squad and we are delighted with the unity and trust he has fostered with the squad and vice versa,” said Maxwell.
“We are obviously absolutely delighted he is our manager and we want him to be the manager for a long time to come.
“I’m sure he feels the same because he wants to keep getting Scotland to major tournaments.”
Clarke’s pragmatism came in for criticism after the Hampden Park defeats to the Czech Republic and Croatia but the former Kilmarnock boss is fulfilling the job description after he took over from Alex McLeish.
“I remember saying to the media at the time we appointed him that we needed to make a pot four team a pot two team to qualify,” said Maxwell.
“The journey is ongoing and this was a significant milestone, one that should refuel our World Cup campaign and give those players invaluable experience for their futures at their clubs and of course for the country.
“Remember, we came up against a team which was in the 2018 World Cup final and have some of the best players in the world playing for them.
“When you take a step back it’s about keeping perspective.
“The heartening thing for me was that when you listened to the manager and players after the game it wasn’t a case of: ‘It was great just to be here’.
“It was more a case of now we’ve been here and had a taste of it, we want to come back as soon as possible.
“We’ll be better prepared with more experience and understand how tournament football works.
“I definitely sensed a determination from the players and manager to build on this and not just an experience to look back on nostalgically years from now about the time the men’s team qualified for the Euros.”
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) June 23, 2021
Meanwhile, Maxwell is content that all Covid-19 protocols were adhered to before and after two Scotland players – John Fleck and then Billy Gilmour – tested positive.
How can that happen?
“Absolutely,” he said. “You take a step back and when Billy has his positive result everyone looks at it and thinks: ‘How can that happen?’
“But when you look at his movements just as part of his involvement with the team he is in a hotel in Middlesbrough on Thursday.
“He is then on a bus, a plane, another bus, another hotel and into a stadium and onto another bus, another plane and so on.
“That’s the difficulty of coronavirus.
“It really doesn’t need very much at all and you can contract it purely from touching the wrong thing at the wrong time. It’s so difficult to manage.
“We are well versed in the protocols, we know exactly what the risks are and we have kept the players as secure as we can with a virus which is so difficult to manage.”