Steve McClaren can once again find redemption abroad
Steve McClaren, one of the most successful English managers recently, is once again unemployed after resigning as Nottingham Forest manager.
He remains judged by his failure as national manager by fans in England despite being regarded as a good coach within the game and his success as Middlesbrough manager.
McClaren rebuilt his career in the Netherlands after accepting a difficult challenge to manage FC Twente. Following that success a spell in Germany with VfL Wolfsburg ended after just 21 league games as he was sacked following disastrous results.
The Yorkshireman may have needed redemption at Twente after his England failure but he showed a willingness to manage abroad which is a commendable attitude not shared by some of his colleagues.
McClaren should consider a return to the Netherlands, where he remains highly regarded, although all the top jobs in the Eredivisie are unavailable at this time. Having moved abroad to find employment and success before, it would not be a surprise if he accepted a challenge in Europe’s major leagues if another job in England fails to materialise.
His critics would see a return to managing in Europe as a solution to a lack of job offers in England rather than commending a manager willing to learn in a new environment. McClaren told FourFourTwo magazine: “Why not go abroad? When foreign managers come to England, they often come with experience of winning things abroad.”
He landed the Twente job in the summer of 2008 despite his failure to ensure England qualified for the European Championships in Austria and Switzerland.
On his new challenge McClaren said in an interview with The Times: “A lot of people said it was a risk coming here. I spoke to people in Holland and they warned it was a small club. They said it was already punching above its weight, overachieving. I knew we would need to sell our best players and we’ve done that every season to generate funds.”
Twente chairman Joop Munsterman believed appointing McClaren would be a positive step for his club despite fan protests: “Ninety per cent of fans think why him? But he is used to working with top players.”
Twente finished second in the Eredivisie behind AZ Alkmaar in his first season, finishing ahead of the traditional big three in the Netherlands – Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord. McClaren nearly led his new side to success in the KNVB Beker (Dutch Cup) but they lost on penalties in the final to Heerenveen.
In his second season McClaren led Twente to the league title for the first time in their history which also ensured a dream was fulfilled for the Dutch side who gained automatic qualification into the group stages of the Champions League.
McClaren on that success: “Last season, we finished second and they wrote a book about it called ‘It’s A Miracle’. We are champions and that’s more than a miracle!”
McClaren is one of the few Englishmen to win league trophies abroad along with the likes of Terry Venables (Barcelona) and Bobby Robson (PSV Eindhoven, Porto).
After his title win with Twente, he said: “Winning a title in a foreign country with foreign players and coaches feels very special.”
He took the Wolfsburg job in the summer of 2010 but found himself dealing with a number of issues including possibly working with players who had lost their hunger after a claiming the championship in 2009.
The speculation surrounding star forward Edin Dzeko, who was sold to Manchester City in January 2010, did not help McClaren settle into his new job. Finally a difficult relationship with managing director Dieter Hoeness was unlike the harmonious set-up he was used to at Twente.
He was sacked after leaving his side in 12th place, just one point off a relegation place after a disastrous start. Wolfsburg continue to struggle to regain their league title winning form, as they are currently in 13th place after just two wins in eight games.
McClaren will once again need to recover from disappointment in his career. On his England spell, he said: “You need failures to make you stronger. I had a massive one.”
Picture:Getty ImagesTagged in: football, Nottingham Forest, Steve McClaren, Twente
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