Steve Clarke's 2017-18 Press Comments
May 20th 2018 Where Steve won the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Manager of the Year: “We’re certainly not in the same league financially as Celtic — their budget is probably 20 times ours. We did very well this year, we competed in every game we played. When I went to the club it was on its knees, it wasn’t a happy place. The players were low on confidence and they didn’t have any guidance. All I did was give them a little bit of direction. I looked at what I had in the squad and found a way to play that suited the players. Their confidence picked up and suddenly they were winning matches and felt good about themselves. We finished the season in a really good place. The problem I’ve got as the manager of Kilmarnock is, financially speaking, other clubs can come and take my better players. We can’t stand in their way. Any money the club needs, we’d have to accept bids. It’s very difficult for me to sit here and say we’ll challenge again for the top six next season, although I’d like to think we will because we’ve got the nucleus of a good squad. If I can keep them together and add one or two over the summer then I’d like to think we’d be very competitive again next year. We also need Rangers to be better. Aberdeen will improve and I think Hearts and Hibs will too. So hopefully we get a more competitive division. Six out of six is pretty good. They had the Invincibles season last year which was incredible. I don’t think the clubs in Scotland were going to allow that again and there was a better resistance against Celtic this year.
May 13th on the Hearts Post-Match: "I'm not crazy on stats but it is another little notch for us, It is nice for this group of players to get that recognition from a very difficult start to the season. They have managed to put together a great run. They have managed to end up with 59 points. I did set them 60 so they have come up short! It was important for us to get the win. The pressure was on us to get the win although we didn't do it in any great style. There has been a positive atmosphere around the club and it was important we didn't send the fans home disappointed with the result. Over 6,000 people for the game is a step in the right direction."
“The ambition is to be clever and creative in the transfer market though I’m not sure I can find another Youssouf Mulumbu. You never know. The Mulumbu episode has worked well for both parties and shows you can come here and showcase your talents. I’m sure everyone has enjoyed seeing him playing in the Premiership. Maybe we can find another one but if not we will need to look elsewhere as the biscuit tin is empty. “ - Match Recap -
May 11th on Planning for Next Season: “You have to keep moving forward. You have to keep pushing. That was the jist of what Neil Lennon was saying the other night. He said it in a way only Neil can say it, but that was the jist. We don’t have the budget. Celtic has one which is 20 times ours, but we have to find a way to compete. When we go to play Celtic, Rangers, Hearts, Aberdeen, Hibs, teams with bigger budgets than us, I try to install into the players the confidence that they can go and compete with these teams. We’ve managed to do that and all of the teams will improve. Motherwell will improve, St Johnstone will improve, St Mirren might come up with a freedom and a confidence from having been champions. It’s going to be another big, big challenge but it’s something I’m looking forward to. What we have done since I came to the club is compete and they’ve been better than seven teams in the league. Not quite as good as three teams above us and certainly not better than Celtic, who are still in a league of their own. But the gap from the pack towards has closed a little bit. They are not so dominant this year, but they have the capability to go out this summer and make themselves even more dominant next year. We don’t have that but we have the capability if we do our work wisely to go out and find a way to be competitive again. We’ve come further than I thought we would in a short space of time. I fully expected to be involved in the relegation fight, but the players have been absolutely amazing. I might take a lot of the plaudits but the players have been first class. The most pleasing fact is the supporters are back on side. There’s a good connection between them and the team. Everything is better than when we came here in October and it has been rewarding. The town was negative about the club when I came, but we’ve managed to dispel that negativity and hopefully it has gone away forever. Yet, you just never know what the future holds. I’ve done my best to try and tie up as many players as possible. We’re going to have to try and be clever in the transfer market because we don’t have the budget. We are probably waiting on, and I use the word in inverted commas, the scraps to try and find the little nuggets we need to make us a better team next year.”
On the Hearts Pre-Match: “Everybody wants a positive result last game of the season because you want to carry it through the summer. One point or a win would get us another milestone in a great season, so we’ll try for that.”
May 10th on the Celtic Post-Match: "If you look at the majority of what Brendan said, ( "It wouldn't matter if you put 11 firemen that deep on a pitch. It is always going to be very difficult) it was correct and proper - but that line wasn't really befitting of a Celtic manager, It wasn't so much disrespectful, it was just a silly line to use in what was quite an honest post-match analysis of the game. We don't have to go there and play the way Celtic want us to. We went there to play the way that is best for us to get a result. It's my job as a manager to set my players up in a way that gives us the best chance of getting a positive result and that's what we did." - Match Recap -
May 5th on the Rangers Post-Match: "I said post-split would be difficult for us, but we’ve played all the teams fighting for second place, Aberdeen, Hibs and now Rangers, and we’ve been competitive in every game. That was the third time we’ve been here this season. If you get the rub of the green, the bounce of the ball at the right times, better refereeing decisions, fairer referees, you have a chance. It was disappointing to lose a late free-kick but my players can be proud of themselves. We had a chance with Aaron Tshibola. It was a good second save from the goalkeeper because he spilled the first one. It was close and Aaron couldn’t get it up and over him. That was a big chance."
"There was an elbow on Stuart (by Alfredo Morelos) dealt with by a yellow card, which I'm not sure is the right card. There was also a punch to his groin later on. He gave a free-kick to us, so he saw the movement - but no second yellow. I don't want the lad Morleos to be cited or dealt with because it doesn't help us or this game. But it shows a little bit, for me, the level of the refereeing performance today. Referees have to be fair to both teams, that's all I ask for." - Match Recap -
May 4th on the Rangers Pre-Match: "We go everywhere with respect but we don't go anywhere with fear. We respect our opponents but they have obviously had a really disappointing result last weekend. They have also had a difficult week after and so you'd expect from a team with that calibre of player that they will look for a reaction against us. We will therefore need to be on our guard."
Apr 28th on the Hibs Post-Match: "It's a disappointing result because we didn't defend as well as we normally do. The game was too open second half. It's not a style of game that suits us very well, which you could see in the goals we conceded. The lads were completely committed, we played some good stuff going forward. I don't think there was much between the two teams and if we got the right breaks at the right times then maybe we could've had a different outcome today. I had a little chat with the referee at half-time and he decided that I'd over-stepped the mark and asked me to watch the second half from upstairs." - Match Recap -
Apr 21st on the Dons Post-Match: "We were a little bit hesitant first half. We got caught on the counter attack and everybody just retreated to the edge of the box and allowed Kenny McLean to have a free shot from distance. It was a good strike but we should've defended better. The reaction second half was good. We started the second half on the front foot, we created one or two chances, a little bit unlucky not to score. And then we get done on a second set play. It wasn't a free-kick but it was a good delivery into the box and we didn't defend it well enough. No big complaints, I think Aberdeen probably with their first-half performance, getting their nose in front, probably just shaded the game. We've got four big games left, which we are looking forward to. We want to secure fifth place and we will try and claim as many points as we can between now and the end of the season." - Match Recap -
Apr 14th on the Accies Post-Match: “When the team is playing well and picking up results week in, week out, the supporters will come. I knew if we could get a good connection between the players on the pitch and the supporters that they would come back. They like their club, they’ve had a difficult few years and I think they are more than entitled to enjoy this little spell. It’s great to see them here in such big numbers. Hopefully, post-split, we can get two good crowds at Rugby Park for the games against Hearts and Aberdeen. It would be really important for the club to get good home crowds. You know the away supporters will be there because they’re the daft ones! This is a difficult place to come. You saw that last week when Celtic came here". - Match Recap -
Apr 12th on Winning His Third Manager of the Month Award: "For us I think it's just to continue what we're doing," said Clarke after picking up a third Premiership manager of the month award in a row. "Finishing fifth would be great, fourth would be unbelievable. I think we're too far away from fourth to have such a big chance of finishing fourth," said. "But even if we finish sixth it would still be a big achievement for the club. When I came in here in October the only expectation was to stay in the league and we've managed to do that comfortably. Since I came to the club we've been looking at what we've got, what we don't have, how to improve the squad, It's an ongoing process you're always looking at games, watching players. I've got people out all over the country having a look at different people. Hopefully over the course of the summer some deals will fall into place and we'll be able to improve the squad again."
On Stephen O'Donnell: "As far as international football goes it's always the same, If you do well for your club and are performing well for your club at a really consistent, high level then the international manager will have a look. I'm sure at some stage Alex McLeish will have a look at Stephen and see what he's doing and see if he can fit into his plans."
Apr 7th on the Jags Post-Match: "Tough game today and we knew it would be. First half we were the better team but second half Thistle probably shaded it. I thought Kirk Broadfoot and Stuart Findlay were excellent second half. The players have shown great character and dug out another result. This time Stuart Findlay's goal was a proper header because his last one at St Johnstone was a little bit iffy. It was good quick thinking on the free-kick. The least said about the celebration the better. We'll just keep tallying up the points and at the end of the season we'll see where we are. We hope to be able to bring in quality additions in the summer but the best bit of business we've done in recent weeks is to sign up the vast majority of the squad and we'll continue to get one or two of them on longer contracts. We'll try to build something here at Kilmarnock." - Match Recap -
Mar 31st on the Accies Post-Match: “It’s nice to keep winning. It’s a really good habit the boys have got just now. It wasn’t a classic. It wasn’t a great game. It was a bit scrappy at times. But, I think when the game required a bit of quality we showed that quality and it was enough to get the three points.”
On Catching Hibs: “It’s not within touching distance," says Clarke. "We need Hibs to slip up. Hibs have got a nice comfortable cushion on it just now. They’re a good team. I’d be very surprised if they do slip up. But we have to make sure we’re in a position that if they do slip up, we’re there to capitalise. That’s what we’re trying to do.” - Match Recap -
Mar 30th 2018: "I wouldn't say I was over-confident of keeping Youssouf (Mulumbu). He came up here to put himself back in the shop window and I think he's done that with his performances. That's been great for Youssouf and it's been great for Kilmarnock. I said to the supporters that they just had to enjoy him while he was here. And I imagine a bigger club will come in for Youssouf in the summer as he's a free transfer. If that happens, we wish him well. If that doesn't materialise and he wants to stay here, he knows all he has to do is chap my door. The players this year have done very well for us so we're delighted to get those three players [McKenzie, Power and Kiltie] tied up and we're working on other contracts as we speak, The club has used the international break wisely to sit down and discuss contract situations with a lot of players that deserved a new contract. The more players we can sign up before the summer the better as it gives us an idea of what we'll need in the summer and what we won't need. I'd like to go into the summer with the nucleus of the squad already in place, which means that come that time we can be a bit more selective with who we bring in and not find ourselves in a mad rush trying to sign 10 or 11 players. If we have the majority of guys in place it means we only need to bring in three or four who can add that bit of quality."
Mar 17th on the Rangers Post-Match: "When you consider the schedule we’ve had recently with seven games in 21 days it is a big ask for the players and I think you saw a little bit of fatigue in the first 20 minutes. The last 15 minutes we were digging in but I haven’t got words that can praise this group of players enough. They've found a way to get results, the run of matches and wins we’re on and the way we compete with the top teams must be great for the Kilmarnock supporters to come and watch. I know as a coach standing on the sideline that I’m really proud of the players. They should be proud of their efforts as well. We rode our luck a little bit with the one off the bar and I turned to Alex Dyer when that happened and said ‘you know what, it might be our day today. It’s always good when you get those little breaks but the players worked hard to get them. Every game you have to analyse and I felt today was a game for two strikers (Brophy & Boyd) whereas the midweek cup tie against Aberdeen I felt was for one striker. Every game is different and you have to read the game and try and find a way to give your players the best chance to win. With Kris Boyd and Eamonn Brophy up front I knew we’d cause Rangers some problems and that proved to be the case, which is good for me and even better for the players. I don’t take any credit, I give credit to the people I work with. My staff are excellent, the players have been magnificent and the crowd have been great as well. There may not have been so many of them here but you could hear them screaming in the background and getting excited and trust me when your two brothers are Kilmarnock fans you know how excited they are getting at the moment. It’s good to see and it’s a good time for the club." - Match Recap -
Mar 16th on the Rangers Pre-Match: "When I signed my contract to come here in October the team were 12th, We're now fifth. We've come a long way in a short space of time. The progress has been good. We don't get carried away because we've actually achieved nothing. We've pushed up the table. We've done well. If we could secure a top-six place I think it would be a great achievement from the players. If we get the win on Saturday and it proves to be enough then we can have a little celebration by giving the players a few days off in the international week. After that we can reset our targets and decide what the target would be after the split. Rangers are favourites. They're on a good run of form as well. They've done really well since Graeme [Murty] took over [in October]. They played well last week against Celtic, ran them close [in Celtic's 3-2 win]. They'll be hurting a little bit and looking to bounce back as well so we have to be ready for that. Most people would call it as a Rangers win. That's just the nature of the beast here in Scotland. We go there with confidence."
Mar 13th on the Dons (Cup Replay) Post-Match: "I just felt towards the end we looked a little bit jaded, mentally and physically, We had six games in 18 days, it's a big ask to play extra-time. That's why I am proud of the players, I thought they were magnificent. Aberdeen in the same period of time played three games. Maybe towards the end that was just a crucial little factor in the outcome. So, thanks to the fixture panels and the Scottish league and the SFA, we have had a hell of a run of games. It's a great little reminder for everyone around Kilmarnock, everybody around this part of the world that we're a decent club. We're a club that if we can get it right on the pitch, we've shown with the crowd tonight that we can get it right off the pitch and we can be regulars in the top six and in the latter stages of the domestic cups. That's got to be the ambition for everybody here. Tonight is a little step in the right direction. The more often you get to quarter finals and semi finals the more likely that you progress in the tournament so that's what we have to do." - Match Recap -
Mar 10th on the Staggies Post-Match: "Excellent performance I thought we were very good almost from start to finish. We switched off a little bit in the last five minutes and if you switch off at any level in football you tend to get punished and that's what happened. Maybe a little bit of mental tiredness as we've played a lot of games recently, we had good control of the game from start to finish and we should ignore the last five minutes and look at the positives - I thought we were really good. That's what they get paid all the money for - I keep saying the strikers have to score the goals. It's good I managed to get all three on the pitch at various stages today.
On whether Kris Boyd should get a Scotland recall: "That's for [national head coach] Alex [McLeish] to decide. I'm just delighted that Kris is playing the way that he is for us. We've found a system and a way to play around him that allows him to do what he's good at which is get the ball in the box and score goals and long may it continue." - Match Recap -
Mar 9th 2018: Kilmarnock's Steve Clarke has won February's Scottish Premiership manager of the month award.The Ayrshire side beat Celtic, Dundee and Motherwell and knocked Brora Rangers out of the Scottish Cup. Killie also drew with Hibernian and Hearts.: “February was a good month, we picked up a lot of points and stayed in the Scottish Cup. I’m the guy who stands in front of the cameras and gets his picture taken with the award but it’s for everybody at the club, all my staff and players who have been outstanding.”
On Alex Dyer: “Alex has a different personality to me. He is bright, cheery and happy every day! I’m only like that sometimes. He is a good coach who has a good rapport with the players. Alex understands the role of an assistant. If a player’s a little unhappy with me, Alex has the skills and capability to speak to that person and re-assure him. It’s a crucial role. I’ve done it myself so I understand how crucial it is. I came across him at West Ham many years ago, when he was working with the equivalent of the development team. He worked with a lot of the senior players who dropped down to train with his group and I noticed they didn’t complain or moan about it. They were always happy to go and work with Alex and that spoke volumes because senior players who drop down to work with reserve players can be very difficult. It’s important that the assistant manager isn’t a stereotype of the manager and Alex and I are different. It’s part of the reason things have gone well, one of a number of very small reasons".
Mar 7th on the Saints Post-Match: “I thought Lee Erwin was outstanding but Jordan will get the headlines. He’s a player I’d pay to watch because he’s exciting and he’s direct. He tries to make things happen and he’s been good for us. Jordan got smashed in front of their dugout and Tommy thought he went down easily. But when he stood up and he had a split on his lip I think it was pretty obvious he had been caught. “It was good from start to finish. We controlled the ball really well. When they went down to ten it was easier to control things. But before that we had a lot of good stuff and maybe missed one or two more goas" - Match Recap -
Mar 6th on the Saints Pre-Match: “St Johnstone have picked up a bit recently. They have been a good role model for clubs like ourselves in that they have always been in the top six, and always challenging. They have been very consistent under Tommy Wright. We can’t get carried away with what we have done, we are only focusing on this game.”
On the Scottish Cup draw: “The draw makes no difference to us until we get into the next round. Aberdeen’s a difficult place to go, but we deserved the draw and we look forward to the replay".
March 5th on Derek McInnes Suggesting JJ is a Diver: "I thought he was out of order, I thought it was a cheap shot. Of course I am not happy. Why is he allowed to come out and infer that Jordan Jones dived? "I don't understand why he gets away with that. Surely the authorities have to ask him to explain himself? They should remind managers of their responsibilities when they speak to the press after the game, Most times managers are responsible when they speak to the press. If you are going to make an accusation like that without evidence then it is disappointing. It was a clear penalty. The referee was 10 yards from the incident and saw it clearly and there was no reaction from the two Aberdeen players involved in the incident. I saw the television replays that Derek said showed there was no incident. Everyone has watched the replays and the general consensus of almost everyone in the country is that it was a clear penalty."
Mar 3rd on the Dons (Cup) Post-Match: "The fans were marvellous. I knew they would be here because they’ve been excited about the team, they’ve enjoyed watching their team play and you see the performance today, the lads have given everything. When supporters see that their players are giving them everything then they’ll always get behind them. The Kilmarnock fans today made a magnificent effort to be here and I’m sure they’ll turn up in big numbers for the replay.
On the Penalty: "Sometimes you get them, some times you don't. We're not here to criticise referees, we're all here to help them. It was a good performance. It was always going to be a difficult game, and the surface didn't help either team. It made it hard to play good football - we tried. It was disappointing to go behind, but as always my players responded. They've got great character, great belief, and more than deserved a replay. We had chances to win. We kept plugging away and always looked like a threat." - Match Recap -
Mar 2nd on the Dons (Cup) Pre-Match: "If the game is on then the supporters will be there. I know they’ll get there. The fans are excited, which is good because it means the team has excited them over the previous weeks. It’s massive. It’s a cup quarter final and with two wins you are at Hampden Park for the final. Once you get to this stage you can start to smell the final and that’s good for everybody. The match looks as though it will go ahead, the only doubt would be any travel problems for the supporters to get to the game. I think the main roads are pretty clear now so hopefully it goes ahead. Aberdeen will take care of the pitch and stadium and we look forward to a good cup tie. We want to play the game, there’s no substitute for matches. We’ve played a lot of games recently but the players are enjoying it. I’m sure Derek and his team won’t underestimate us. He knows that they had to work hard in both games to beat us and there’s a lot more pressure on them than Kilmarnock. If our cup run stopped with an away defeat to Aberdeen in the quarter final, we’d be disappointed. If Aberdeen’s cup run stops with a defeat at home to Kilmarnock in the quarter final then they’d be more than disappointed."
Feb 27th on the Hearts Post Match: "We're not allowed to talk about the pitch at Kilmarnock. We get a lot of stick for our one, but the pitch was difficult tonight. Their goal was a catalogue of mistakes and a big slip from Stephen O'Donnell which was definitely attributable to the pitch. We had a number of chances to win it towards the end, but probably the draw was fair. That's what your goalkeeper is there for (penalty save). I'm pleased because it keeps our little run going, pleased because it keeps a bit of momentum going into Saturday's game away at Aberdeen. It was a good attitude and good effort from the players." - Match Recap -
Feb 26th on the Hearts Pre-Match: "When you're brought into a club and told this is your brief - 'Guide us away from relegation' - then you have to follow that brief through until it's no longer an issue. When it's no longer an issue, then you can re-adjust your targets for the season. So at the moment the targets are still to get as far away from the bottom as possible. We're up against a very strong Hearts side. They don't give much away and since they've gone back to Tynecastle they've had a very good home record. It will be a tough game. They are a physical side but have a sprinkling of some very good players and they will cause us problems. Hopefully we can cause them problems. We go there with no fear and with confidence and we'll work as hard as we can to get another three points on the board."
Feb 24th 2018 on the Hibs Post-Match: "We didn't start the way I expected us to start. Conceding in less than a minute showed we weren't quite tuned in, then we gave someone a free header from a set play, Other than that, I thought we were the better team for the afternoon. We bossed the game, their two goals came out of nothing. My overriding feeling is disappointment, I felt we dropped two points. We were the better team and I told them that at half-time. I asked them to go out and rectify that, which they did. We've got character in abundance at this club. The players are in a good moment, they're working hard and they're just as disappointed as me that we've dropped two points at home. We'll get them patched up and ready to go again on Tuesday [for an away game against Hearts]." - Match Recap -
Feb 17th on the Well Post-Match: "First half was pretty even. We maybe just shaded, got the goal. Second half, Motherwell were a little bit more dominant. We looked a little bit jaded last 20 minutes. You have to say the character of the players at the moment is unbelievable. Dug in, got the result. It's nice to take three points back to Ayrshire. I thought the back three, the three central defenders were excellent, dealt with a lot. Jamie [MacDonald] was good, his handling was good - had to be because there were a lot of balls flying into our box. When they had to, the players put their body on the line, they blocked the ball, they got it away. It was a good strike [by Stephen O'Donnell]. I thought his positioning in the first half was good. He picked up a lot of ball in there. He drove forward with that one and it was a great finish right in the corner. We've taken another big step away from the bottom. We'll stay focused." - Match Recap -
Feb `13th on the Dee Post-Match: "Tonight I’m thrilled with the fact the players showed great character and courage to come back and get a result from a really difficult situation. It keeps the run going but it is not important. The run will end someday, it could have ended tonight. The overall picture in the way the team is evolving and working you can tell they feel good about themselves. They keep working to pick up points and that’s all I can ask of them. It was always going to be difficult with ten men but we are never dead and buried with this group of players. It was a strange game tonight. We didn’t start very well even though we went 1-0 up, I thought Dundee were much better in the first 30 minutes. We shuffled it about a bit in the second half, actually conceded the 1-2 when we were probably the better team again and lost Gary Dicker. You saw the rest. I put young Iain Wilson on for his first appearance for a long time and he helped to change the game for us. Lee Erwin came on up front and showed everybody what he’s shown me in training for the past six weeks. It was nice to see. When I came to the club everybody told me he [Wilson] was a really good player and a big prospect and I think you got a glimpse of that tonight." - Match Recap -
Feb `12th on the Dee Pre-Match: "It is a chance to get further away from the bottom, that's the way I look at it, not at the top six. It is getting the distance between 12th and 11th, and getting as far away from them as possible as quickly as we can. You have to look behind. Dundee will be looking at the game as an opportunity to close the gap on us so we have to be on our guard and approach the games the way we have approached all the games recently, take the good form into those games and keep picking up points. This is a very important game for the club. Three points would be a massive boost to our chances of staying in the Premiership and that's what we have to focus on."
On the Dons Cup Draw:"My one concern about the cup game is that we get a decent kick-off time, a kick-off time that allows our supporters to go in large numbers and give the team the backing they deserve. The Kilmarnock supporters have shown since I came here anyway that they are prepared to travel in numbers to support the team and I am sure the trip to Aberdeen will be no different. The two (league) games are in the past, I will be able to use those games hopefully to come up with a solution to beat Aberdeen but before then is four very important league games."
Feb 10th on the Brora Cup Post-Match: We spoke at half-time that if we got the second we had to get the third and the fourth, That's how you respect your opponents; you keep going, don't switch off and don't stop, just keep going. It was always going to be difficult, you have to give Brora a lot of credit, they came here and made it difficult and we knew they would. We just had to keep chipping away at them to get the goals. The one before half-time was a big bonus. It was nice to see Greg (Kiltie) back and he can give us a lot in the second half of the season so it is a big plus for us. The last ten minutes Brora had a few corners and put us under a little bit of pressure so I’m pleased for Leo [Fasan] that he got a clean sheet in his first start. "We’re on a good run of form at home. We’ve got Dundee coming to see us here on Tuesday night so that will be another tough one for us and we’ll work hard to get the three points." - Match Recap -
Feb 9th on the Brora Cup Pre-Match: "The message is to respect your opponent, always respect your opponents the same, Brora Rangers deserve to be in this round of the cup. They have had some great results to get here and we give them every respect. We were obviously very confident going into the game last week. You see that by the way they played. We showed Celtic the respect they deserved. We will show Brora Rangers the same respect and if the players go in with the same confidence and the same ability and we play to a similar level, hopefully we can get a good result. The pressure is on us, we have to be the team to be on the front foot, We have to be the team that gets forward and commits the opposition and hopefully create a lot of chances. We have to be on our guard for counter-attacks. I watched their two games against Stranraer and East Fife, so I have an idea of how they play. They are a good solid team, they have a threat going forward. We have to be 100 per cent professional, 100 per cent ready and I'm sure we will be."
Feb 3rd on the Celtic Post-Match: "We kept our shape, we believed in what we were trying to do and when we grew into the game we started to play some really good stuff, When you look at the game overall, there's not too many people that would grudge us that win. It's easy to do it on the training pitch. The hardest thing is to take that level of quality into a big game like that, against the best side in the country by a distance. I've got belief in these players. If we can continue that in the coming weeks then we can have a decent season." - Match Recap -
Feb 2nd 2018 on the Celtic Pre-Match: "I think we have improved as a team since my early days and I think it's a reflection of the way the players have bought into our ideas and what we want to do. It is always difficult to play against the top teams as we found out last week. I thought we did ok against Aberdeen at Pittodrie but we made small mistakes in the game and got heavily punished for it. I think it'll be the same tomorrow and if you make mistakes against the top teams you get punished so as much as possible we're looking to play a match without mistakes. When I came into the club they said we couldn't win here at Rugby Park, we've proved that wrong and turned it around. We're playing against the top team in Scotland and I think it would be wrong to say we're definitely going to win the game but we're going to be very, very competitive."
On Jan Transfer Window Squad Changes: "We got one or two of the younger ones out on loan, which was good and a little change in the goalkeeping department, which I needed. Cammy (Bell) was spending a lot of time in the treatment room and we were a little bit light there. We addressed that one with two good signings, Leo and young Jasko will do well for us. We needed cover at right back and I managed to get one from Wolverhampton with Aaron Simpson, who will add to the squad. Aaron Tshibola came in a little earlier in the window so we’re in good shape. It’s always difficult to balance your squad in January, the aim is to ensure you are not caught short in the second half of the season.. I’ve known Aaron for quite a while and I worked with him at Reading and Aston Villa and I know the qualities he’s got and what he can bring to the squad. The summer will be the time to balance the squad properly and hopefully build an even stronger squad
Jan 27th on the Dons Post-Match: "We started a little bit slowly. Aberdeen had a little bit of pressure on us early on, but then we got into the game and got ourselves probably a fortunate goal. But we got ourselves in front, and I thought we were quite comfortable after that. And then we had a crazy little spell in the second half. A little bit unfortunate, we lost a goal off a deflection off a header from a corner. We were disappointed to lose that and then it was compounded very quickly by a wonder strike from the lad McKenna, top corner. After that I thought we reacted quite well. We tried to play good football. We had them under a little bit of pressure and we were starting to look as if we could be a little bit of a threat to them. Unfortunately Gary Dicker made a mistake in the middle of the park and on the counter attack they got the third goal which made it a long way back." - Match Recap -
Jan 20th on the Staggies Cup Post-Match: "We were poor by our recent standards today, but I felt that we just shaded it. As for the penalty, it looks like we may have got the rub of the green, which you need on days like today, if you are going to progress. I'm delighted for Lee [Erwin]. He’s been working really well since we came back from the winter break so we’ve have a couple of good weeks training.
"Lee has shown up really well so I don’t know what’s happened over the break but he’s obviously gone away and re-assessed himself. He’s come back and shown his qualities in training and that’s what I told him before I put him on. I said ‘go on and do what you do in training’ and don’t get too uptight about it. Hopefully that goal will start the second half of the season for Lee and he’ll do better in the second half than he did in the first half. He’s a striker and strikers live for their goals. They don’t think about missing, they just think about getting a hold of the ball. Kris Boyd our regular penalty taker was off the pitch and Lee had the confidence to take it, which is good." - Match Recap -
Jan 15th on Kris Boyd: "You need good experience in your squad but you need good experience and I think Kris is a good example of that, His record's there for everyone to see. If you put the ball in the box, and it falls to Kris, nine times out of 10 it's going to end up in the back of the net, which is a good thing to have. But he's also important to us off the pitch; we've got quite a lot of young players here, we've got players from all over the country and Kris is one of the key personnel in the dressing room for pulling that squad together and making sure everyone's working properly."
Jan 11th on Potential Squad Changes: “Nothing. I said in one of my press conferences before the end of December that there had been one enquiry for one player and that is still the case. It’s not the player that everyone thinks it would be. He’s a valuable player of the squad but it’s not the player you’d expect. In terms of looking around, for me, I think the squad I’ve inherited has done very well for me. I think it would be wrong to bring in five or six players to put into the squad. The players don’t deserve that. They deserve a little bit of loyalty from me and that’s the way I will approach it. As I sit here now, if nobody left our squad I don’t really think I would bring anybody in.”
On the Winter Break: “I think the concept of the winter break is good. I’m not sure the actual execution has been great. We played seven games over 28 days in December and then you get enough space to give them a week off. Then you have to do a week’s training and you have a normal week leading into a game. After that you have five games in two weeks which seems a little bit frantic after giving them a rest. You flog them in December, give them a week off and then flog them in January. The concept is alright but I’m not sure they’ve quite got it.”
Dec 30th on the Hibs Post-Match: "I think we will take the point. It was a tough game for us. If you can ever score a goal too early I think that was the one. I think the players, after they scored that goal, thought they had started the game well when the game hadn't really started. It took us a little bit of time to get into the game. Hibs gave us a torrid time for about 15 or 20 minutes in the first half but we dug in. We showed the character we have been showing in recent weeks and we ground out a point.
Jamie MacDonald is a goalkeeper and understands the life of a goalkeeper. He understands that if you make a mistake like that you are going to get the spotlight on you. The good thing for me was he recovered really well from the mistake because after that there were a lot of crosses whipped in under the crossbar. There were a few fouls on him, a lot of bodies around him so he responded well from that mistake.
I don't know if there's been a transformation. I can only judge them since I came to the club. They've been great on the training pitch and they've taken on board every message we've given them and transferred that to the pitch. The results are there to be seen. You can tell by the run we've had. I think that's only two defeats since I came to the club - that's good. But as I said to the players, there's still a long way to go and results today make sure you're always looking over your shoulder in this league because it's very difficult to move away from the bottom when you've only picked up three points from the first eight games. I think we'll suffer for that for the rest of the season." - Match Recap -
Dec 26th on the Accies Pre-Match: "For the supporters it is to enjoy the moment, I think it has been a while since they’ve had such an enjoyable month but for us the month is not finished. We’ve still got two very difficult away games. We focus first on Hamilton, which I think will be a real test for us having played in front of a big crowd at Rugby Park. We’ll go away to Hamilton’s stadium and there won’t be such a big crowd there and it is a similar surface to our own. They are a better team than their results suggest and they are a team who are dangerous because when they need a result, they usually get it.
I’ve been watching them (Accies) on video the last couple of days, even on Christmas Day I had the laptop out and sat and watched the full game against Partick Thistle. They have a good balance, they have a lot of big boys in the team who can be quite physical if they need to be and they’ve also got one or two clever, bright footballers. They’re going to ask us a lot of questions and we’re going to have to be at 100% to get a positive result.
On Kiltie's Status: "When you come back from a long period out injured, especially with a serious injury, you always pick up little knocks and niggles on the way back. Unfortunately, in training last week Greg picked up a little niggle in his hamstring. If he'd been fully fit he probably wouldn't even have felt it. We decided to take him out for four or five days and settle down. We’re hopeful he’ll be available again for the Hibs game but the Hamilton game will come too quickly."
Dec 22nd on the Rangers Post-Match: "I'm pleased for the players They got what they deserved. We had good control of the first half and were disappointed to go in behind. Their second half performance was the best since I have got here in terms of keeping pressure on a team. For a little while it looked like it wouldn't be our afternoon but I don't think anybody in the stadium would grudge us that win. They played even better in the second half and created lots of chances. Youssouf Mulumbu has been good. Don't forget about the players that were already here. He gave them a lift, he's a high-quality performer and as he said himself, once he gets fit he'll be even better. We want to get as far away form the bottom of the table as possible. The players will be in tomorrow for a warm down, the ones who weren't involved will work hard. I've given them Christmas off". - Match Recap -
Dec 21st on the Rangers Pre-Match: "I don't plan on making too many changes because the squad I've had have worked very well for me and I've picked up a lot of points, If they continue to do that in the next three games, the need for so many changes would be less."Clarke added he would be "very surprised" if Sebastien Bassong joined the club.
Circumstances can change. I don't know if anybody's going to come and take any of my players. I don't know if any player is going to become available that I think will improve our squad. The players are confident, We've been on a decent run. It's a good match to look forward to. It's nice to win the last two home games. It puts to bed a little bit 'we can't play here, we can't win here'. We'll aim to continue that at the weekend. Their [Rangers'] recent results against Aberdeen tell you how good they can be on their day. We have to be wary of them and certainly treat them with respect but not respect them too much. Is it a game we can win? Yes, Its it a game we have to play very well to win? Yes. If we can play to our maximum, then yes we're more than capable of winning the game. For me (the aim) when I came to the club was to get away from the bottom of the table; that's still the focus. It would be wrong of us to take our eye off the main goal, which is to get away from the bottom and try and make life after the winter break a little more comfortable."
Dec 16th on the Well Post-Match: "Motherwell made us fight for everything, as we expected. It was a scrappy goal but it was one of those games that a scrappy goal was always going to win and I'm pleased we got it. Jamie MacDonald has been good since I got to the club and today, when we needed him, he made some great saves. We're getting the rub of the green, the wee bounce of the ball that probably wasn't going for us before I got here. I said to the players that when you are in a moment like that it's important to maximise it and pick up the points." - Match Recap -
Dec 15th on the Well Pre-Match: "I thought we approached the game a bit casually on Tuesday night so we have to get back on the front foot. We have to be aggressive in the press, get the ball forward and look a threat like we did in the home game against Partick Thistle. If we can get that level of performance again then we look forward to a good game against a tough Motherwell team. Scott (Boyd) did well, it shows the value of having a squad that is fit and ready to take their opportunity when it comes. I always say to the squad players who aren’t involved week in, week out that they have to be ready for their chance. Scott came off the bench and did well as did Greg Taylor. The team improved in the second half so both of them did themselves a lot of good."
Dec 12th on the Staggies Post-Match: "Second half, we were by far the better team, Disappointed with the first half. "We conceded two terrible goals from set plays and it made it a more difficult night than maybe it should've been. Obviously, losing the two defenders as well disrupted us and we lost concentration a little round about that time, which maybe influenced the fact that we didn't defend set plays because by and large this year we've defended set plays really well. Gordon had felt something in the warm-up. Hopefully, it's not too serious but he had to come off. Stuart Findlay fell over, gave himself a knock. To lose two defenders at that stage of the game was obviously disappointing and to lose two big defenders against a team that are good at set plays. You know if you get the ball in the box in and around Kris, you'll always have a chance of scoring and thankfully it turned out that he got the equaliser for us. He's been terrific for me. Young Eamonn's on a good vein of form, tired a little bit towards the end but you see with his quality, his strike, he can score left foot, right foot and when you've got goalscorers that are scoring you've always got a chance. We'll take the point. We're on a good little run." - Match Recap -
Dec 11th on the Staggies Pre-Match: "This will be my first visit to Dingwall to play my first game against Ross County and I look forward to it. They have come a long way so credit to the directors, the owner, the people who have set it up and got them to the position they are in. If people are prepared to put in the time, the effort and money, and these teams can prove they deserve to be at the top level then that's great, that shows a good level of ambition. We are looking to keep building. If we can continue the level of performance hopefully the points will keep coming."
Dec 9th on the Jags Post-Match: "It was nice to get a home win. It’s been a hoodoo around us. It’s nice to win back-to-back games, nice to score five, nice to sit on the bench at the end feeling comfortable. It was a really good performance from start to finish. I thought we were always slightly better. We spoke about a quick start. Thistle coming here were under pressure being bottom and trying to close the gap. So we felt we could be on the front foot and cause them problems and we did that. Kris takes the pens. He made the point you don’t see too many players running for the ball when you’re 1-0 down". - Match Recap -
Dec 2nd on the Saints Post-Match: "It wasn't the prettiest of games but we knew beforehand we'd have to dig in at times and we did that. We got a break when Wotherspoon's shot came back off the post but I think we'd earned that by that stage. We had pure dogged determination to stay in the game. The quality came from us in the second half. The winning goal was a good example of that."
"He's [Brophy] fine, he just picked up a little bit of cramp, he hasn't been involved that often this season. He's been good in and around training. I always had it in the back of my mind that he was due a start, similar to Dominic Thomas. I thought Eamonn did very well and grabbed his chance. Dom was good, he ran out of steam a little bit in the second half. But I think it's nice for the squad players that they can see we are looking at everybody, we are not just looking at the same 11. It's important for squad players to know that, when they're working hard and doing well in training, that the manager and the coaching staff are looking at them and we will give them a chance." - Match Recap -
Nov 26th 2017 on the Dons Post-Match: "The start of the game was disgraceful. It's nothing to do with the game plan, It's about the attitude of the players who went onto the pitch. Performances by and large have been pretty good. For some reason we decided we weren't going to start the game well today. After  minutes the game is over. We gave a good team a two goal start and you can't do that. When you take over a team at the bottom of the league you know it's going to be difficult, There's going to be good moments there's going to be bad moments. We dust ourselves down, we come back and work even harder and try and do better next week." - Match Recap -
Nov 18th 2017 on the Dee Post-Match: "A lot of honest endeavour from both teams. It looked like a game between two teams that haven't had the best of starts to the season. Probably a little bit of a fear of losing for both sides. The first half was pretty much a non-event. The second half opened up a little bit and obviously we're disappointed that we missed one great one-on-one at the end and young Eamonn Brophy came off the bench and had a good header that came off the crossbar, so maybe we're feeling a little bit hard done by that we could have nicked the three points." - Match Recap -
Nov 17th 2017 on the Dee Pre-Match: "It is a big game but they are all big games. When you pick up three points out of your first eight games, it means you have left 21 points behind and you spend the rest of the season trying to catch up those points and that's what we are trying to do at the moment. We are maybe disappointed that we didn't get more points from a good run of games where we played really well. But overall, I'm reasonably content with what we have done so far."
Clarke on DR Congo midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu, (who played under him at West Brom) "He has been sitting on the couch at home doing nothing," he said. "I got a phone call to ask if I would give him a little bit of training time and that's what I've done. It is going to be difficult to attract somebody like Youssouf here. If we could get something done I would be surprised but you never know. We haven't really spoken about it."
Nov 5th 2017 on the Hearts Post-Match: "I'm delighted from a selfish point of view to get my first win as manager, It was important for the team on the back of some really good performances since I came into the club that we got that win. We went behind at Ibrox and got a point, we went behind at Celtic Park and got a point and, when we got pegged back here, it would have been easy to fold, especially on the back of a difficult physical game in midweek against Hibs," said Clarke.But the lads showed their character, dug in and got the winner and I think, overall, over the 90 minutes, we deserved to win this game."
"Scottish people are very good at running down their own game and I think we should be a little bit more positive about it and try to push the game. I think the levels are okay, Let's talk up the good things about Scottish football."Basically, that's what the English Premier League do - they sell their game all the time, I've seen some bad Premier League games as well and it's the same in Scotland - you'll get a lot of good games at a weekend, you might get one bad one and everybody highlights the bad one." - Match Recap -
Oct 31st on the Hibs Post-Match: "I thought we started really slowly and I think that was a consequence of two really difficult away games. So we expended a lot of effort to get two good points. We allowed Hibs to get in front and from there it was always going to be a difficult night for us. Credit to the players they knuckled down and got back into the game. Kris had a header that came back off the crossbar and that would have made a difference to the game.
"And we had a great chance early in the second half and if we get the game back to 1-1 I think we would have got something from it. I thought the crowd were absolutely terrific tonight. The fact they stayed until the end, clapped the team off the pitch was just a measure of how hard the lads tried on the pitch. We certainly made some mistakes, the first two goals were very, very poor goals to concede and the third is a consequence of chasing the game to get back in it. The crowd got right behind us, I think they recognised the players gave it everything and we played some good stuff. We had a spell at the end of the first half and beginning of the second where we were by far the better team but we couldn’t get the crucial goal to make it 1-1, which I think would have changed the night". - Match Recap -
Oct 30th on the Hibs Pre-Match:“I saw the players against Partick Thistle and they were good on the day, they were good at Ibrox and again at Celtic Park. We have to look to build on that with a home game against Hibs, who have been very impressive. There is a
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