From England Manager to Championship Manager

It has been quite amazing to see the nation welcome back the ‘Wally with Brolly’ with open arms … oh that didn’t happen? Why not? Because he is one of the most unpopular England managers of all time. You have to hand it to Steve, he has some balls coming back and taking on a job in the Championship, probably one of the toughest leagues to succeed in anywhere in the world, in front of a media that will scrutinise and criticize at any given opportunity. Here at Football Rascal we thought it was only fair to take a look at the facts about McClaren before condemning appointment or not.

McClaren seems to be the king of the manager faux pas and has put his foot in it more times than a farmer has stepped in cow sh*t. But if you actually take the time to look at the facts about McClaren, it is impressive reading. Here are a few things you may not know about big Steve:

  • In his first big role as assistant to Jim Smith at Derby in 2005 the team were successfully promoted to the Premier League. He was only 34 at the time
  • He was hand-picked by Fergie to become his assistant. In his first year the team won the treble and whilst McClaren was there, Man United won the league title every year
  • He won the Carling Cup at Middlesbrough, took them to their highest league finish and reached the UEFA Cup final. His achievements during his time there made him the most successful English manager of the 21st Century
  • He became England manager ***gloss over*** made John Terry captain, a captaincy that still stands today
  • Took FC Twente to 2nd place in the Eredivisie in the 2008/09 season, and to the Dutch Cup final
  • Won the Eredivisie title in the 2009/10 season becoming the first Englishman to guide a team to a top-level continental title since Bobby Robson in 1992 (Barca and later PSV)
  • Picked up the Rinus Michels Award as manager of the year. Former winners are Guus Hiddink and Louis Van Gaal

When you actually take the time to look at McClaren’s CV, it is quite impressive. He has some significant achievements and when you add the fact he has experience in European competition, has first-hand experience of both the Eredivisie and the Bundesliga, it sets him apart as there are no other English managers that can boast this.

I think the problems with McClaren previously stem from his persona rather than they do his coaching skills. In the personality stakes McClaren is in League 1, especially when you consider him to someone like Ian Holloway, but then again most people are! For me McClaren has made life hard for himself, the ‘wally in the brolly’ incident came about because he needed to make some notes and there was no shelter, but in such an important game, when your troops are out dying on the battlefield, it sends out the wrong message. So wrong he is still known by this name today.

But when you learn about McClaren’s background and how he is a traditional Yorkshire boy with working class roots, it puts the brolly incident in context. We can all look back and laugh at this incident now and even McClaren himself takes it on the chin after several of his friends sent him umbrella’s at the time. He could well be one of the biggest banter hounds ever after the Dutch accent incident. It is a pity it was met with ridicule in this country at the time – McClaren was still a public enemy at this point and an easy target.

Personally I have always thought of Steve McClaren as a pretty average manager, but what do I know, Alex Ferguson obviously rates him! I feel that McClaren is a great coach and a good number two, but he doesn’t have the man management or motivational skills to be a ‘great’ manager. Whilst at Twente he took a good team and made them better and it was a great achievement, but the language barrier means there was always distance between him and the players-this worked in his favour. Over there he was seen as just a nice guy, but sometimes nice guys come last on a level playing field – England.

In my eyes McClaren’s move to Europe was a stroke of genius; on the continent they only know basic facts about McClaren: Manchester United, England Manager, took Middlesbrough to the UEFA Cup final. This fresh start helped rebuild his confidence and in turn he made the players at Twente believe they were good enough. In their minds it was “if the former coach of England tells me that, it must be true”. As well as this he was able to play to his strengths; raw coaching on the training ground and teaching a team to be organised and hold on to any lead they have.

I think that Nottingham Forest appointing Steve McClaren is a huge coup and this is one thing I really like about McClaren – he wasn’t scared to take the role and more importantly he saw it as a massive opportunity rather than a step-down in class. McClaren has a real chance to re-establish himself in this country and Forest are a great opportunity for him to do this; a huge club with a big history. They belong in the Premier League and if McClaren can take them there, he will also be “back”. McClaren has developed and nurtured young talent before and this can only be good for a team like Forest who do have a good academy and good young players in the first team. He will bring the latest coaching techniques, tactical and organisational skills and more importantly a winning mentality.

Forest striker Dexter Blackstock (@dexblackstock23) has already tweeted “Now it’s time for everyone to get behind Steve McClaren and go one step further next year and get promoted #NFFC”. The players are clearly excited about it.

I started this article with a different opinion about McClaren, but you cannot argue with his achievements. If anything he struggles with the public face of management. If he can overcome this then the future looks bright for both Nottingham Forest and Steve McClaren.

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  1. Paul Forest says:

    I think McClaren will take us up we have the squad and now the manager. if he can make our players believe like it says he did at twente we will smash it.

  2. Gaz says:

    Pity about Billy, liked him, good manager…not too bad having the ex-england manager in charge though is it!

  3. Simon NFFC says:

    Forgot how good that video is, we have a legend at the club!

  4. Pingback: Steve McClaren: “I bought into Doughty and Arthur’s dreams and vision” | eighteensixtyfive

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