Much to the delight of Blackburn Rovers, the most despised ex-England manager since… well… the last one, has decided to rebuild his reputation abroad.
Former England boss Steve McClaren has been appointed as the new manager of Eredivisie outfit FC Twente on a two-year deal. McClaren was interviewed for the managerial vacancy at Blackburn Rovers in the past few days, but has now elected to take up the role in Holland. [Sky Sports]
This is an intelligent move by a man who would have had difficulty winning over fans of any English club. Given that he was not chosen for the Ewood Park job, it is likely he would have had to look at teams in the bottom half of the table or even the Championship. Nothing wrong with that you may say, but what would he gain from taking over a Fulham, Bolton or a Stoke?
Like him or not, McClaren won the treble as assistant manager at Manchester United, won the League Cup for Middlesbrough, guided them to their highest-ever league position of 7th, and reached a UEFA Cup final. He has had much success, but he is never going to get a top four job, so he would rattle around the lower echelons of the Premier League. One bad job does not a bad manager make.
The number of English coaches abroad is pitifully low, and so McClaren’s opportunity is one not available to most of his contemporaries. ‘But the Dutch league is rubbish’, I hear you say. Provided he manoeuvres past the initial qualifying round, he will taste Champions League football with FC Twente. In the current climate he will probably never get a chance to coach an English club in the Champions League.
The Dutch are regarded as one of the most technically gifted nations in world football, and their managers are held in equally high regard. How many English managers have got big club jobs in the last decade? Some recent appointments from the Dutch Eredivisie include Frank Rijkaard (Sparta Rotterdam to Barcelona), Ronald Koeman (PSV to Valencia), Co Adriaanse (AZ to Porto) and Henk ten Cate (Ajax to Chelsea). And who will be McClaren’s rival managers? Marco van Basten at Ajax and Louis van Gaal at AZ, two of the game’s best.
In qualifying for the Champions League, FC Twente are effectively the second team in Holland this year in what is recognised as a three-team league. Could McClaren realistically hope of ever breaking into the Premiership’s top four? No. Steve McClaren will not repair his reputation overnight, but his future’s bright, his future’s orange.