Clarke hints at Killie farewell

Steve Clarke appeared to say goodbye to Kilmarnock fans following their final day victory over Rangers at Rugby Park.

Clarke has been heavily touted as the man to replace Alex McLeish as Scotland manager and he looks set to depart his role at the Scottish Premiership side now.

Killie's 2-1 win over Rangers guaranteed them a Europa League spot next season, but their 55-year-old boss dropped a heavy hint he might not be in the dugout when they return to European competition for the first time in 18 years.

"The most important thing in any football club anywhere in the world is the supporters, and when I came here we didn't have so many," Clarke said.

"We had a disconnect between the support, the board, the players. There was nothing, no togetherness, I said this when I came in: together we are stronger.

"In my time at Kilmarnock Football Club, I'm sorry I didn't win you a trophy."

Clarke has won the Scottish Premiership's Manager of the Season award as well as PFA Scotland and Scottish Football Writers' Manager of the Season awards having guided his club to third place behind champions Celtic and Rangers.

He says supporters of the Ayrshire club should be proud of what they now have.

"This is Kilmarnock, this belongs to you. And the most important thing, I said no trophy – for me, I take this. This is my trophy, thank you," said Clarke, pointing at the cheering supporters.

Celtic meanwhile are 4/11 to win Saturday's Scottish Cup final against Hearts. The Jambos are 15/2 while the draw is 15/4 for their Hampden Park showdown.

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Clarke keen to manage Scotland

Steve Clarke admits that he hopes to manage Scotland at 'some stage' but he refused to be drawn on the possibility of becoming the successor to Alex McLeish.

The Scottish Football Association is on the hunt for a new national team boss after McLeish was sacked on Thursday, just 14 months into his second stint at the helm.

Scotland topped their UEFA Nations League group to secure a Euro 2020 play-off place but their qualifying campaign got off to a horror start with a 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan in the opening Group I match last month.

Victory over San Marino wasn't enough to appease the critics and the axe duly fell on McLeish.

Clarke has enjoyed a positive stint back in his homelands since taking the reins at Kilmarnock.

His side face Aberdeen on Saturday and he was asked if he had the desire at any stage to manage the national team at his press conference.

"Yes, at some stage," he said.

"Whether it is now or not is a matter for you guys to talk about and speculate. I am fully focused on finishing the season well here at Kilmarnock.

"I don't speculate, there is no point in doing that. I know how football works. I am fully focused on this job here."

Whether or not the SFA choose to go after the former Reading and West Brom boss remains to be seen. Clarke has, in the past, been linked with managerial vacancies at both Rangers and Celtic.

Kilmarnock are 8/5 to be Aberdeen on Saturday. The Dons are 7/4 while the draw trades at 11/5.

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Clarke cautious despite top spot

Steve Clarke has played down the importance of his Kilmarnock side having taken top spot in the Scottish Premiership by virtue of a 2-0 win over Livingston.

Greg Stewart scored both goals as Killie took the honours at Rugby Park on Wednesday evening, which meant that they took over at the top as both Celtic and Rangers slipped up.

However, Clarke refused to get carried away by such a lofty position, especially with a meeting with Celtic next on the agenda on Saturday.

He told reporters after the win over Livi: "Listen, it's nice for the supporters – they'll have enjoyed the night and looking at the league table, but for us it's just another three points.

"(The players will) look at the table and realise that if you work hard and are a good group of players you'll pick up points in this league.

"And if you pick up enough points then sometimes you get quite close to the summit, but there's nobody getting carried away. We've got an awful lot of work to do.

"At the end of the season we can tally up the points and see who's where and decide if it's been a good season or not.

"But, in December it's difficult to do that as there are so many games to come."

Killie are 10/1 to top the Scottish Premiership this season if Celtic are excluded, with the Rugby Park outfit 25/1 to lift the Scottish FA Cup, having last done so in 1997.

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Killie’s form thrills Clarke

Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke thought his side could easily have beaten Hibernian more convincingly at Rugby Park on Saturday.

Eamonn Brophy scored twice and, after the match was interrupted twice because of floodlight failures, Greg Stewart made it 3-0.

The victory leaves Killie second in the Scottish Premiership table and they are 21/20 to win their next match against Livingston on Wednesday.

Hibs are winless in six games and are eighth before their midweek meeting with second-bottom St Mirren, a match Neil Lennon's team are 2/5 to win.

Clarke said after his side's comprehensive victory: "I thought we were good, especially in the first half. Neil Lennon came with a little bit of a different side but we got the early goal and that was crucial.

"In the second half, we invited them on a little bit. If we had been a little bit more clinical we could have had a bigger scoreline."

Kilmarnock have only lost three of their 15 first league fixtures of the campaign and are one point behind leaders Celtic, who have two games in hand.

Meanwhile, Dundee remain rooted to the foot of the table with just one victory and five points from their first 14 matches this season.

Killie expect Clarke to stay put

Kilmarnock majority shareholder Billy Bowie expects head coach Steve Clarke to remain at the club next season, having helped engineer a major upturn in fortunes.

Killie have lost just twice in 22 games in all competitions since the start of November, with Clarke having taken charge at Rugby Park a couple of weeks earlier.

That surge in form has seen Clarke linked with bigger clubs both in Scotland and south of the border, but Bowie is confident that the former Reading and West Brom boss is going nowhere.

He told the Daily Record: "Let's nip this in the bud. There's been a lot of speculation, but Steve signed a two-and-a-half year deal and as far as we're concerned he will be here next season.

"There seems to be all this talk as if he's definitely going here, there and everywhere in the summer, as if it's a done deal. Far from it.

"I understand people might be looking at the job he is doing, but we are trying to build something here and Steve is a huge part of it. He has never once mentioned anything about going anywhere and is completely focused on his job."

Killie, who won 1-0 at Rangers last time out, are back in action on Saturday 31st March, when they play host to Hamilton Academical.

The two sides met at Rugby Park in late August, when the visitors scored twice in the final 18 minutes to secure a share of the spoils.

Killie are 4/5 to win the game at the end of the month and are 15/2 to do so by a 2-0 scoreline, with the hosts 4/1 to win by a two-goal margin.

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