YESTERDAY’S revelation from Aberdeen vice-chairman Dave Cormack that his manager, Derek McInnes, would not accept the Scotland job if the SFA were to make him the offer significantly reduced the governing body’s options.

Indeed, it already looks as though the blundering occupants of the sixth floor at Hampden have once again pinned their hopes on persuading one man to answer their cry for help.

Kilmarnock’s Steve Clarke is the last man standing and, while he has already claimed that it would be “an honour” to take charge of the national team, his response came with more caveats than Jeremy Corbyn’s support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

For one thing, the aspect of his job which the 55-year-old enjoys most is working with his players on the training ground. He is as much a coach as he is a manager and he has made no secret of the fact that his preference is for hands-on, daily involvement.

Then again, like Gordon Strachan, he would have the opportunity to do the job while returning to his family home in England, solving the “personal v professional” dilemma he has wrestled with at Rugby Park.

It has also appeared at times this season that Clarke has been hell-bent on a collision course with the SFA and much may depend on the outcome of his latest hearing at Hampden today over his criticism of match officials. His tendency to speak truth to power on that and other subjects have garnered much popular support but the blazers tend to bristle when their methods or competence are called into question.

Should chief executive Ian Maxwell and president elect Rod Petrie manage to put their differences aside and persuade the people’s champion to assume the position, what kind of man will they be getting?

Clarke is perceived as dour but regular exposure to him reveals a dry, almost arid, sense of humour and a refusal to take himself too seriously, although that is a description which could never be applied to his work ethic.

“Football management and enjoyment are two concepts that don’t really go together,” he said yesterday. “It’s difficult to enjoy management. You can maybe do that once you’ve left a particular club and you can look back on the job you’ve done there but, when you’re actually in it, you’re too busy to enjoy it.

“You prepare for the game, you win it and the players and supporters can enjoy it. But, as a manager, you’re already on to the next one.

“Who’s up next? Who’s injured or suspended? Enjoy it? I’m not sure. But I do take a lot of satisfaction from it.

“Don’t get me wrong, at the end of the season, you can sit back and reflect on what we’ve done, but not for long – because then it’s on to next season.

“You have people chapping your door about new contracts, players wanting more money or wanting to leave, players who want to run their contracts down; you’re on the phone all the time looking to find suitable additions or replacements.

“It’s time-consuming but I always try to get at least a week away to switch off.”

Living on his own in Ayrshire, Clarke does not have hobbies with which to distract him from the pressures of the job and one gets the impression that he would regard them as an intrusion in any case.

Asked whether he binge-watched box-sets to wile away the hours, he responded with a puzzled look, saying: “I don’t do anything to get away from it during the season. I watch football.

“The other night I watched Aston Villa and West Brom, a bit of Inverness v Dundee United. Then it was Leeds against Derby. It’s my life. It’s what I do.”

It is not so much the consistently excellent results and performances Clarke has wrought from Kilmarnock during his 19 months in charge which make him the outstanding candidate to lead his country than the fact that he has effected such a reversal of fortunes with, largely, the same group of players he inherited.

“The squad that was already assembled here was one of the factors why I took the job,” he said. “I looked at who was here and thought I could maybe get a bit more out of them.

“Maybe I just gave them a direction to go in. ‘This is what we want to do, this is how we’re going to do it.’ By and large every player bought into the vision of how [assistant] Alex Dyer and I felt we could take the team and how we could play.

“You have to sell them your system of play. You have to tell them what’s achievable and what’s not achievable.”

The standard of refereeing remains a bugbear for him and Clarke insists that VAR will not be a cure-all for inept officials.

“Everyone is talking about VAR, which is great; it will help the referees no end,” he said. "But if you’ve got VAR in place and VAR becomes the referee I’m not sure that’s good for the game.

“If the referees are making five or six serious mistakes in a game and we’re always reverting to VAR, and it’s two minutes to resolve this one and three minutes to resolve that one, suddenly you’re going to lose what football is - a spontaneous game where things happen off the cuff.”