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McClaren – wally with a brolly or coaching king?

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Steve McClaren

Holding an umbrella when it’s lashing down would seem a smart move to most.

Being harsh, some might say sheltering himself from the rain as England spectacularly bumbled their chances of qualifying for Euro 2008 was just about the only thing Steve McClaren got right on the night of the costly 3-2 defeat against Croatia in November 2007.

At least the ‘Wally with the Brolly’ headlines that followed took the attention away from playing an untried goalkeeper in Scott Carson, who subsequently allowed a hopeful shot to squirm through his nervous grasp in the home loss.

But do the images of McClaren standing on the touchline unfairly define a man widely regarded as one of the best coaches of his generation?

Cutting his teeth and learning from a legend

After retiring as a player came a brief spell on Oxford’s coaching staff, before McClaren joined his former club Derby in 1995 to work as assistant manager to the vastly experienced Jim Smith.

Four years with ‘the Bald Eagle’ and a promotion to the Premier League later, he was appointed as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United.

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He was a relative unknown, but United legend Ryan Giggs said McClaren was soon making a big impression.

“Steve is incredibly ambitious and demands the same from his players,” Giggs said at the time.

“I always thought United would struggle to replace Brian Kidd. Brian’s knowledge of the game was second to none and he had the respect of all the players. But he is just like Brian with what he knows and the innovative ideas.”

Middlesbrough marvel?

McClaren’s first management job came in 2001 when he took over at Middlesbrough and his time on Teesside brought silverware, European football and a growing reputation as one of the sharpest tactical minds in the game.

Here was an English coach who was quick to embrace new methods and ideas, train and then blood youngsters, as well as make bold and crucial decisions in big games.

But, despite his success, Boro fans did not seem to lament McClaren’s exit.

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Analysis, BBC Tees Sports Editor Paul Addison

Steve McClaren is the most successful manager in Middlesbrough’s history yet bizarrely far from the most popular.

He guided Boro to their historic League Cup win over Bolton Wanderers at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in 2004 – the only major trophy they’ve won – and kept them in the Premier League with mid-table finishes season after season.

That led to two successive Uefa Cup campaigns, which culminated in defeat by Seville in the final a decade ago. But few Boro fans lost any sleep when he left to manage England.

Perhaps one of the reasons is McClaren’s naked ambition and his desire to take over the national side. It is something which has been repeated several times throughout his career.

England reigns

When McClaren was appointed England manager in August 2006, there was a hint of jingoistic satisfaction after Sven-Goran Eriksson’s failure to win anything with the ‘Golden Generation’.

But there were also plenty who felt it wasn’t about naming a young English coach with a bright future, simply a matter of there being a dearth of available English talent.

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Analysis, BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty

McClaren was greeted with a wave of indifference when he succeeded Sven-Goran Eriksson following the 2006 World Cup. The Football Association had failed to lure Luiz Felipe Scolari, who won the trophy with Brazil four years earlier.

He was not a popular choice but his reign actually got off to a promising start with a 4-0 win in a friendly in Greece followed by a 5-0 victory over Andorra in England’s first Euro 2008 qualifier.

But McClaren never captured the public imagination and the cracks started to show in the Euro qualifiers double header in October when England could only draw at home to Macedonia before losing 2-0 to Croatia in Zagreb.

The honeymoon, if indeed there was one, was well and truly over.

In England, it rains

England and McClaren were on the ropes as the Euros group progressed but were thrown an unlikely lifeline when Israel beat Russia to leave only a draw needed in their final game against Croatia to qualify.

On a rain-lashed London night, England produced a performance – and their manager an image – by which his reign will always be defined.

McClaren gambled wildly on replacing Paul Robinson with rookie Scott Carson, who gifted Niko Kranjcar an early goal as Croatia raced into a 2-0 lead – while the manager stood helplessly in his technical area holding an umbrella to shield from the rain.

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The infamous headline ‘The Wally With The Brolly’ will haunt McClaren forever.

England got back on terms and were heading for Euro 2008 but somehow contrived to still lose 3-2 in a game they only needed to draw. Croatia had already qualified.

He was, with grim inevitability, sacked in the following 24 hours.

Twente’s historic title double top

McClaren’s escape route after England arguably provided his greatest achievement, winning the league title in 2009-10 with unfancied Twente in the Netherlands.

QPR boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who played for McClaren at Middlesbrough and then worked with him at Nottingham Forest, is a big admirer – and says that view is shared in his homeland.

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Hasselbaink told BBC Sport: “He has a big, big reputation there. It was a huge achievement winning the title. When he did it nobody expected it. Normally it’s Ajax, PSV or Feyenoord. They are the ones with the most money and the biggest support.

“His research is second to none. He is always looking for the next thing, looking to get better and challenge himself – even though he has been in the game so long. He still wants to learn.

“His sessions are always different and interesting. And you play football all the time. Footballers always want to play. He gets the best out of players; he coaches and he makes good players better.”

Forest’s land of confusion

Reputation seemingly restored, McClaren left the Netherlands to take over at Wolfsburg in May 2010 – but was sacked after 10 months.

And he lasted just 112 days in his next job as Nottingham Forest manager, resigning after a 3-1 home loss against Birmingham City.

Eight points from 10 Championship games was hardly the start anyone anticipated and Reds fans booed the team off after the miserable performance in the loss against Blues.

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Analysis, BBC Radio Nottingham’s sports editor Colin Fray

McClaren’s time at Nottingham Forest won’t be looked back on fondly. He was in charge for only 13 games, winning only three of them.

Replacing Billy Davies, McLaren’s summer squad building saw big money spent on wages for players like Jonathan Greening, Ishmael Miller, Matt Derbyshire and George Boateng, while he also oversaw Andy Reid’s successful return to the club.

The side never settled, and there were some horror shows on the pitch – like a 2-1 defeat at home to Derby, who were down to 10 men from the second minute.

Well regarded as a coach, the side’s disorganisation came as a surprise, with awful defending contributing to some heavy defeats – most notably a 5-1 thrashing at Burnley.

Coaching King and Wembley heartache

After a second stint as Twente boss, McClaren accepted an invitation from QPR manager Harry Redknapp to join his coaching team. And he ended up effectively being interim manager because a knee replacement operation meant Redknapp missed much of pre-season training.

Rangers had just been relegated from the Premier League and were plagued by dressing room unrest. McClaren was credited with installing a much-needed sense of togetherness during those crucial weeks.

And it proved to be a springboard for a good start to a season which ended, ironically, with a play-off triumph against Derby – the side McClaren left QPR to manage in September 2013.

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Former QPR midfielder and current Cambridge United manager Shaun Derry recalled McClaren’s impact at Loftus Road.

“Steve arrived on the first day of pre-season and when he arrived Shaun Wright-Phillips just said ‘this man is a top, top coach’.

“And he absolutely went on to be in the short time I was there. What a fantastic coach but a real nice guy as well.

“He is inventive, he is creative and is unbelievably organised. The message he puts across is that you train with an enjoyment. He really is the full package.”

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Reluctant Ram

Derby continued to impress under McClaren the following season, and were top of the table in February 2015.

But a shocking run saw them win just two of their final 13 league games and miss out on the play-offs after a 3-0 home defeat against Reading on the final day of the season.

Analysis, BBC Radio Derby’s Owen Bradley

McClaren started with a dramatic half-time intervention to save a 4-4 draw against Ipswich, prompting a surge up the table, and ultimately heartbreak in the Championship play-off final.

It was McClaren the coach at his best, squeezing every last drop out of his players, and taking both individuals and the team to a level no-one thought possible.

He had Derby in a strong position to win promotion the following season too, before McClaren’s ambitious side took over. Understandably flattered by interest from Newcastle, Derby’s challenge started to wane and ended in disaster.

Derby undoubtedly enjoyed the absolute best of McClaren, and that’s been enough to convince the club he deserves another chance.

Testy Toon times

Sacked by Derby in May 2015 and installed at Newcastle in June in one of the most predictable appointments in the history of football, it seemed McClaren had got his way.

But that stay was a miserable one and he left after managing only six wins in 28 Premier League games in charge.

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Analysis, Mark Douglas, Newcastle editor for the Chronicle, Journal and Sunday Sun

Newcastle gambled on McClaren to be the perfect fit for the management model they had concocted after Alan Pardew’s departure – and lost big.

Managing director Lee Charnley envisaged McClaren operating as head coach while Graham Carr, the chief scout, signed the players for him to work with. McClaren – desperate for a return to the Premier League – willingly signed up, despite knowing that his power was diluted.

In effect it meant he was doomed from the start. He couldn’t even get his introductory press conference right – the club’s decision to only let in preferred media partners meant he was on the back foot from the start.

He tried to do what he could but Newcastle fans were unconvinced. He was the wrong man, at the wrong time and in the wrong situation.

Return of the Mac

On returning to take over at the iPro Stadium earlier this month, McClaren was quick to apologise for the mistakes he made when leaving just 17 months earlier.

But he needs to build bridges as well as a team capable of challenging for promotion.

With two clean sheets and four points from two games, it’s been a decent start. But have McClaren’s wandering and wondering days gone and will Rams fans forgive and forget?

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Source: BBC Football Read Original Article: McClaren – wally with a brolly or coaching king?

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