Forever to be known as “The Wally With the Brolly”, Steve McClaren’s faltering career took another turn for the worse today when he was sacked as Head Coach of Newcastle United. Speculation regarding McClaren’s future has mounted since The Toon’s 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth at the weekend. The club unveiled Rafa Benitez as their new manager. As tradition demands they also thanked Steve McClaren for his tireless work.
Steve McClaren as Newcastle Head Coach
Steve McClaren was appointed as Head Coach of Newcastle United in June 2015. It was an unusual appointment. McClaren’s managerial roles at Derby County, Wolfsburg, Nottingham Forest and as England’s top man ended in sacking or resignation. Many had him marked as damaged goods. His ability to bring glory to one of the best supported, yet success starved English clubs was in doubt. Those fears were well founded. A transfer war chest of £80 million was poorly spent. In 28 league games McClaren managed just 6 wins and secured only 24 points. Newcastle United currently languish at 19th in The Premier League table. Only the hapless Aston Villa are below them.
A Career in Decline?
Although Steve McClaren enjoyed managerial success with Dutch club FC Twente and Middlesbrough FC many would argue that his best days came in roles as an assistant manager. At Manchester United and as England Assistant Manager he was allowed to bask in the reflected glory of both Sir Alex Ferguson and Sven Goran Eriksson. In spite of his success at Middlesbrough, some have since cast doubt on the extent of McClaren’s influence. The Middlesbrough side had many senior experienced players. Observers have credited those, rather than McClaren’s management skills for their success. Perhaps Steve McClaren is a square peg in a round hole. He is a technically astute coach. He was one of the first to adopt video analysis and sports psychology. Elsewhere his professionalism and integrity are undoubted. Unfortunately in the wider role as club manager or head coach, McClaren’s competence is now in question.
What Next for Steve McClaren?
Whatever role McClaren chooses next we hope that it is one that more accurately fits his footballing skill set. He deserves to leave a legacy befitting the undoubted contribution he has made to the modern game. It will be a shame if our enduring memory of Steve McClaren is as the “Wally with the Brolly” or as the pseudo Dutchman with a dodgy accent.