Kilmarnock: Steve Clarke continues to excel as manager

Kilmarnock Steve Clarke
Kilmarnock have had much to celebrate since Steve Clarke's appointment

When Steve Clarke was appointed Kilmarnock manager the club were bottom of the Scottish Premiership having amassed just three points from eight games.

Avoiding relegation was the former West Brom and Reading manager's clear target.

Not many would argue that he has not achieved that already although the man himself refused to concede it following Wednesday's 2-0 win over St Johnstone.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Highlights: Kilmarnock 2-0 St Johnstone

Clarke didn't take charge for the 2-0 win over Partick Thistle in mid-October that saw them rise to 11th place.

But his influence since has been overwhelmingly positive with the Ayrshire side currently fifth on 40 points.

It has been an astonishing turnaround.

Resilience

In Clarke's first match in charge they secured a point with a last-minute equaliser against Rangers.

It was against all the odds - the Ibrox side missed a late penalty and Kilmarnock flew up the park and netted. It was a sign of things to come.

Three days later, they trailed 1-0 away to Celtic but found another equaliser and another point.

It was the perfect platform to build on. Since then, the squad has demonstrated a proven ability to overcome significant obstacles.

On six occasions in the 19 league games under Clarke's management, they have come from behind to earn points. That's 10 points from losing positions.

They notably came from behind to beat Rangers 2-1 at home in December.

Kilmarnock Kris Boyd
Kris Boyd has been in prolific form with 18 goals this season

Against Dundee, down to 10 men and trailing 2-1, they somehow produced a thrilling 3-2 victory. Away to Ross County they were two down after an hour and took a point.

Two down at home to Hibernian after 10 minutes, they were level after an hour and turned a likely defeat into another draw.

It seems Clarke has instilled a 'play the full 90 minutes' attitude into a squad that looked beleaguered before his arrival.

Scottish Premiership top six
Kilmarnock are now challenging for a top six place with the threat of relegation a distant memory

Consistency

In those 19 league games Kilmarnock have lost just three times and amassed 34 points.

They've beaten Celtic, Rangers and Hearts alongside crucial wins over bottom-six sides.

Strikingly, Kilmarnock have picked up five more points than third-placed Aberdeen during the same spell. And they are only seven points worse off than Celtic during that period.

Statistics often do not represent the full picture but these do.

Kris Boyd goals

Attacking threat

They've scored in every game bar two under Clarke. The last time they did not net was in November against Dundee.

That goal threat is steadily delivering points.

Kris Boyd only had two league goals prior to Clarke's arrival. He's added 12 in the Premiership since and earned an extended contract.

The balance between attack and defence seems to be working with an ability to adapt when faced with adversity.

Offering greater support to Boyd has paid dividends. He is not the most mobile but given service he is a proven goalscorer.

Kilmarnock Jordan Jones
Jordan Jones has been increasingly effective under Steve Clarke's management

Improved squad

It's notable that the majority of Kilmarnock's success has been delivered by a squad Clarke inherited.

Eamonn Brophy had made little impact early this season but now looks a player full of confidence. They all do.

Jordan Jones is increasingly effective.

Clarke's reputation, after a highly successful playing and coaching career in England, has allowed him to make unlikely acquisitions.

Youssouf Mulumbu is the standout but even without him Kilmarnock deliver. Aaron Tshibola is also beginning to contribute.

Kilmarnock Steve Clarke
Clarke has overseen a remarkable turnaround in fortunes at Kilmarnock

Clarke seems to have excelled in all areas of management.

He is getting the best out of players who were underperforming. He has made key additions. He has his side extremely well organised and they are adaptable to the situation they face.

There is a confidence about Kilmarnock that has been non-existent in recent years.

Mangers often point to players as being the main source of success.

In this case, Clarke must take full credit and is surely an outstanding contender for the manager of the year awards.

Top Stories