Post-Strachan Years (2018-2020)

Following Gordon Strachan's departure, the names mentioned for the Scotland manager's job were David Moyes, Paul Lambert, Alex McLeish, and even Sam Allardyce. Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes, and Kilmarnock's Steve Clarke were also mentioned. Following Northern Ireland's defeat in the play-offs, Michael O'Neil became the strong favourite. Following talks with the SFA, he ruled himself out, even although it looked like the SFA had put all their eggs in one basket. Following this, the media was mentioning Walter Smith, but he also ruled himself out. This meant that ex-boss Alex McLeish was appointed on 15th February. McLeish's second tenure started with four defeats out of five, with Scotland only scoring one goal in a 1-0 victory over Hungary. The maiden Nations League started with a 2-0 victory at home to Albania, followed by a humiliating 2-1 defeat to Israel in Haifa. After only 2 competitive matches, fans were already calling for McLeish to go. When the next international break came round, 9 players withdrew from McLeish's squad, making people wonder what was going on with McLeish. An impressive 4-0 victory in Albania meant that Scotland needed a victory at home to Israel. After going behind, a hat trick by James Forrest, which was 5 goals in two games, put Scotland in a strong position. A late goal by Israel made Scotland hold on for a tense last 15 minutes. This lead to qualification for the Euro 2020 playoffs and also promotion to Group B.  Scotland had a disasterous start to the Euro 2020 qualification campaign, with a humiliating 3-0 defeat away to Kazakhstan.  This was followed by an unconvincing 2-0 win in San Marino.  Less than a month later, the SFA decided to end Alex McLeish's second reign as manager.

James Forrest completes his hat-trick against Israel.

Following McLeish's departure, there was talk about a caretaker having to be put in charge for the Cyprus and Belgium qualifiers before the end of the season.  As the fixtures got closer, the three names being linked to the job were Steve Clarke of Kilmarnock, Aberdeen's Derek McInnes, and under-21 coach Scot Gemmill. Steve Clarke was appointed on 20th May, after guiding Kilmarnock to European qualification.

Clarke's reign began with a 2-1 victory at home to Cyprus, followed by a 3-0 defeat away to Belgium. The following season began with a 2-1 defeat at Hampden to Russia, after leading 1-0. This made automatic qualification for Euro 2020 unlikely. Scotland's next two games saw them concede 8 goals and score none. First a 4-0 defeat at home to Belgium, followed by a 4-0 defeat in Moscow, that ended Scotland's automatic qualification chances. A 6-0 victory at home to San Marino followed, with John McGinn scoring a hat-trick. The campaign ended with a 2-1 win in Cyprus, and a 3-1 win over Kazakhstan at Hampden.

Three days after the campaign ended, the draw for the play-offs had Scotland drawn at home to Israel, in a one legged play-off. The winner would then travel to Norway or Serbia, with the winner of that game qualifying for Euro 2020. Ten days before Scotland were due to play Israel, the country went into lockdown on 16th March due to Coronavirus, and all football was suspended. This game was rescheduled to October. The draw for the 2020-21 Nations League saw Scotland drawn with Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Israel, meaning that Scotland would face Israel five times in two years.

John McGinn scores his second goal in the 3-1 victory over Kazakhstan

Ten and a half months after their last match, Scotland started the 2020-21 Nations League campaign. Due to Coronavirus, every game was being played behind closed doors. The first was a 1-1 draw at home to Israel. A Christie penalty was cancelled out by an equaliser by Zahavi. A few days later, Scotland travelled to Prague to face a Czech side that had tested positive for Coronavirus. Because of this a whole new squad and manager had to be called up on short notice. With Scotland now strong favourites, the Czechs took the lead. Lyndon Dykes, and a Christie penalty gave Scotland a 2-1 win. The following month Scotland had a triple header, with the first match being the Euro 2020 Play-Off Semi-Final against Israel, that was rescheduled from March. Armstrong tested positive for Coronavirus, and as a result, him, Tierney and Christie had to miss out. After a dull goalless draw, after 90 minutes and extra-time, it went to penalties, for Scotland's first ever penalty shoot-out. McGinn scored Scotland's first, before Marshall saved from Zahavi. McGregor, McTominay and Shankland scored Scotland's next three penalties, while Israel scored their next three. Kenny McLean then stepped up to score Scotland's fifth, and send Scotland to the Play-Off Final, 5-3 on penalties. Three days later Slovakia came to Hampden for the Nations League, and a Lyndon Dykes goal gave Scotland a 1-0 victory. That was followed by a 1-0 win over Czech Republic thanks to a Ryan Fraser goal. A month later, Scotland were to play away to Serbia in the Euro 2020 Play-Off Final, as they had defeated Norway in the Semis. This would be Scotland's biggest game in 13 years (since Italy in 2007). Christie gave Scotland a deserved lead just into the second half, but Jovic equalised in the 90th minute. Scotland held on in extra time, for another penalty shootout. Both Scotland and Serbia scored their first 4 penalties, with Griffiths, McGregor, McTominay and McBurnie scoring for Scotland. Kenny McLean then scored Scotland's fifth to make it 5-4. Serbia's talisman, Alexsander Mitrovic then had Marshall save his penalty, to send Scotland to their first finals since France '98. In Scotland's final two Nations League matches, they only needed two points to win the group and gain promotion. A 1-0 defeat in Slovakia, followed by a 1-0 defeat in Israel ended these chances.

Scotland celebrate qualifying for Euro 2020 after defeating Serbia on penalties