Scotland: Steve Clarke convinced to keep Scott McTominay in back three by players

Scott McTominay (second left) in action for Scotland against Czech Republic
Scott McTominay (second left) has been deployed in a back three for Scotland

Scotland's players talked Steve Clarke out of changing his tactics during their Euro 2020 qualification campaign, the national team coach has revealed.

Clarke considered switching to a back four before the play-offs, with midfielder Scott McTominay at times exposed as part of the defence.

But he was convinced to stick with a back three, and led Scotland to their first major finals since 1998.

"The players wanted that system to work," Clarke told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Scotland navigated their way through the play-offs, winning penalty shoot-outs in the semi-final against Israel at Hampden and the final in Serbia.

Clarke had raised eyebrows by playing McTominay on the right of a three-man defence in Nations League games against Israel and Czech Republic in September.

But despite some haphazard early performances, the decision to stick with him has been vindicated.

"It was a big call, but Scott was comfortable enough to go back there and play," the manager said. "And having those two games probably helped us just to bed him into the position.

"He got caught under one cross against Israel at Hampden but it happens. I've seen top, top class central defenders get caught under a cross. But that was pointed out as a big mistake.

"And then we gave the ball away in a terrible position in the Czech Republic and Scott was exposed one v one and got done on a little one-two, and he got the blame for that as well.

"But I could see what I was looking for on the pitch. I could see the ideas that we had.

"We [Clarke and the players] spoke afterwards about whether we would stick with it or go to a back four, and the players were comfortable with the formation so we decided to go with it."

The best feeling I've ever had on a football pitch - Scott McTominay

Top Stories

Around Scottish sport