Ferdinand says Steve McClaren was ‘ahead of the curve’ following United links

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Former England manager Steve McClaren has been linked with a surprise return to Manchester United this summer in a coaching role. McClaren would come in alongside new manager Erik ten Hag, with the two having worked together previously. 

At FC Twente, where McClaren won the Eredivisie in his first spell, ten Hag was assistant to McClaren as referenced by the Daily Star. Having coached at Manchester United for three years at the turn of the century, McClaren would be a valuable source of experience and local knowledge for ten Hag.

Speaking to those rumours on his FIVE channel, Rio Ferdinand was positive about the idea of the move.

“He’s coming in as a coach, a shoulder to lean on, and somebody who can give advice at the right times.”

“In terms of judging him from his management in previous years, I think it is probably irrelevant. What you do get with Steve McClaren is somebody who is a football man who loves the game, who is so enthusiastic and meticulous.

“He also cares about the details, not just from a football point of view but also mentally, and he understands what it takes at Manchester United to win.”


“He had a sports psychologist called Bill Besic who was a sports psychologist, and this was quite before its time really. McClaren bought heavily into that so he was always ahead of the curve.”

“I liked his bravery in that because at that time a lot of players would have thought ‘what’s all this about, he’s like a lunatic sitting there talking to me about football, he’s never played football in all his life’. That could have been the response from many players but Steve McClaren was brave in bringing that element into the team.”

Ferdinand didn’t cross paths with McClaren at Manchester United, arriving the year after the former Middlesbrough coach left. Yet he did coincide with him during his team with England. With a coaching career spanning nearly thirty years, that experience of English football could be helpful to ten Hag – whether he is likely to still be ahead of the curve is doubtful.

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