The international team endured a bruised and exhausting final international window when they suffered World Cup elimination at the hands of Ukraine and then crashed 3-0 to Republic of Ireland in the League of Nations in Dublin.
Two wins brought some comfort but could not overshadow the more serious ramifications of the two losses.
Even Clarke himself said the players failed in their main goal of reaching the World Cup. “Two wins against Armenia won’t make this international camp a good match – because it wasn’t,” the coach said.
Maxwell had more time to apply some perspective. Although Clarke came under heavy criticism from some quarters earlier this month, the chief executive, who celebrated four years in the role last month, said “there was no conversation to have” on the question of the future of the manager.
The manager has a running contract until after Euro 2024 qualifying and has already said he would love the opportunity to take Scotland to the World Cup final in 2026.
He has now received the unequivocal support of the SFA boss.
“There’s no conversation to be had, there’s really no conversation to be had,” Maxwell said. “Nothing has happened that leaves me in any doubt that he’s the guy for the job.”
Speaking after the SFA general meeting and for the first time since Scotland left the World Cup qualifying equation, Maxwell revealed the governing body had recorded record turnover of £48 million.
“A big part of that is the men’s participation in the Euros and hosting the Euros,” he explained. “It’s probably a little off because we’re not quite out of the pandemic and there’s a little more activity to come back before we get a truer picture, but it just shows you the advantage of qualification.”
Maxwell has revealed there is now an all-time high of 38,000 Scottish Supporters’ Club members, 29,000 of whom have purchased a five-match package for March’s friendly against Poland and matches this month- this against Ukraine and Armenia as well as two upcoming Nations League clashes with Ukraine, again, and the Republic of Ireland.
Scotland earned around £8m from qualifying for Euro 2020. According to Maxwell, there was no financial cost to not reaching this winter’s World Cup as it was unbudgeted.
The chief executive says Clarke’s future as Scotland manager doesn’t necessarily depend on qualifying for Euro 2024 in Germany.
He added that he had “no doubt” the manager was getting the most out of a group considered to be the most talented since the 1990s.
“If he doesn’t make it to the Euros, we’ll have to look at the bigger picture and see what’s happened over that period,” Maxwell said.
“It’s not a title” if we don’t get to the Euros, Steve Clarke won’t be the manager, “it’s not a title” if we get to the Euros, Steve Clarke will be the manager “We have to assess things in the moment and see what is best for the national team.
“You can’t do a knee-jerk reaction because then you are constantly changing due to the size of the country we are and the standard we have,” he added. “We are not a Germany, but even then Germany, France and England all lost games in June and none of them sacked their coach as far as I know.”
VAR in Scottish football: Update given on start date and ‘education’ required