Vice squad. Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke with fellow vice-captains Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn and captain Jose Maria Olazabal. Photo Colum Watts/www.golffile.iePaul McGinley and Darren Clarke will have to battle it out for the 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy in Scotland.

But if world No 1 Rory McIlroy had his way, he’d give Clarke the job in America in 2016, indirectly backing McGinley to take over from Jose Maria Olazabal at Gleneagles in two years’ time.

McIlroy said: “I’ve always said I think Clarkey would be a great captain over here in America.

“I think the crowds really love him here and I think he would be great, so maybe save Darren for 2016.

“And then for the captain next time around there are a lot of guys who have a chance to do it. Whoever ends up doing it would be a great captain.

“Paul was fantastic at the Seve Trophy and he was a fantastic vice captain. As Jose Maria said, all the vice captains this week have all got their own opinions but collectively they are very knowledgeable.”

Clarke has made no secret of the fact that he’d take the job at Gleneagles if it came his way.

But McGinley is prepared to take his chances when it goes to a vote of the Players Committee in Dubai in January with Chairman Thomas Bjorn, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez and 2010 skipper Colin Montgomerie also in the frame.

All five are on the Committee and McGinley said: “It’s not up to me, it’s up to other people. I’ll just wait and see what happens.

“I’ve done five Ryder Cups now, three as a player and two as a vice-captain and I certainly have enjoyed them.

“I’m on the committee and obviously won’t be at that meeting. Anybody whose being considered for the captaincy will not be.”

Given his pedigree, McGinley must be regarded as the best man for the job in Scotland following two winning vice-captaincies at Medinah and Celtic Manor as well as two stints as the winning captain of the Seve Trophy team.

Like Chicago hero Ian Poulter, the Ryder Cup and team play has been the highlight of his career.

And he’d dearly love the chance to put his vast experience into practice in Scotland in 2014.

No-one could accuse him of not having belief in European golf following his Sunday morning heart to heart with skipper Jose Maria Olazabal in the locker room.

McGinley revealed: “I said ‘Ollie, we’re four points behind, we’ve been battered for two days, if Seve is in heaven and he’s trying to write a script, sitting with the best Hollywood scriptwriter, and he was asked what way do you want Ollie to win a Ryder Cup, it would be that for two days you get battered, blitzed by birdies and good golf, and your team hangs on by the skin of its teeth. Just hangs on.

“And you get a character like Poulter being the main guy, that just keeps you within touching distance. Then you come strong and win in the last match. That’s what he’d write and maybe that’s what our script is today.’

“Honest to God I said that to him in the locker room just before we went out. Just the two of us.”

Explaining why players like Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell played in the first three matches before being dropped for Saturday afternoon’s crucial fourballs, McGinley said: “Because he’s Lee Westwood. Same thing with Graeme.

“He deserves the right to have a go again. But it was quite clear on Saturday morning that he was off his game.”

Then along came Poulter with those five birdies alongside Rory McIlroy on in Saturday’s fourballs that changed the momentum of the match.

Paying tribute to Poulter, McGinley said: “He’s great. He just loves it. He’s built this image of himself, of what he is, and he plays to it.

“He’s like an actor getting into character – he puts on a costume and turns into this guy.

“And this guy he creates is awesome in Ryder Cups. He never misses putts and does it when it counts in Ryder Cups. That’s the personality he adopts and it’s great.”

McGinley knows that Davis Love will be second guessed for his decisions but points out that Ryder Cup captaincy is a fine art and that momentum can scupper the best laid plans.

He said: “It is intriguing. You’ve got the tactics, the man management and the form of your player. They’re the three things that, for me, it all revolves around.”

Having an inspired player like Poulter also helps.

Like McGinley he hasn’t won a major, but winning Ryder Cups means as much or more to them.

Poulter said: “I’ve got more pride and passion to play in the Ryder Cup than I have to win a Major.

“I want to win a Major, don’t get me wrong, I’d like to win all of them. I’ve been close and who knows today might be that little changing factor to get me over that line.

“But if I don’t win another golf tournament from here, today will go down as the highlight of my golfing career.”

As for what drives him to near insanity in the Ryder Cup, Poulter said: “That’s me. That’s who I am. I want to be the guy that’s contributing to the team.

“In football I always wanted to be the guy that scored the goal, just to do his bit, just do enough to make a difference.

“I like to give it 100 per cent, if I go down, I’m going to go down in flames.”