Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The Latest Football News and Opinions From 90 Minutes Online

Dutch rehabilitation for Yesterday’s man

With just over a year passed since England relinquished their place at Euro 2008 to Croatia, the national team have clearly made much progress towards repairing their damaged reputation. The unexpected joy that followed England's 4-1 defeat of Croatia demonstrated how significant a result it was. The new yardstick of improvement under Fabio Capello clear for all to see.



Meanwhile the much derided Steve McClaren has been getting used to life away from the spotlight of being the England manager, and similar to England the parting of ways seems to have had a galvanising effect. After the inevitable sacking from the FA last November following his failure to qualify England for Euro 2008, McClaren was left looking for a way back into management and it didn't appear to be one littered with opportunities. There were inevitable rumours in the press that linked him with the vacant Blackburn Rovers post during the summer, but Paul Ince was given the chance instead. Whilst Ince had thus far been on an upward curve after his successes with Macclesfield and then MK Dons, it was clear that McClaren's stock had fallen and that his reputation had been severely damaged after his failings with the national team.



Indeed it became increasingly clear that McClaren would be linked with nearly every available managerial post in England from the Championship up, and yet no firm offers were to materialise. Stories then began to emerge of McClaren having met with the board of FC Twente, the Dutch Eredivisie side, these were quickly denied but eventually on June 20th McClaren was officially revealed as the clubs choice to succeed the successful Fred Rutten.

The appointment of the former England boss was a bold move on the part of both parties. Fred Rutten had managed to lead FC Twente to successive fourth placed finishes in the Eredivisie, a very impressive record for a club that is not usually regarded as one of the Netherlands top teams. With McClaren as Rutten's replacement there were early signs of fan dissatisfaction in the appointment and it appeared that the very public England debacle had left McClaren with a shorter settling in period than would be usual. Likewise the decision to take a post in the Netherlands after the end of his England tenure, saw McClaren mimic and take the advice of his predecessor Sir Bobby Robson. Whilst Robson's move away from the England management was ultimately under a hero's banner following the 1990 World Cup semi-final, it was a move that helped him to shelter from the constant glare of the England spotlight to a more serene and yet very competitive setting at the helm of PSV Eindhoven. In this way McClaren too has found a setting that is both challenging and yet enables him to rehabilitate his managerial career away from the media spotlight back in Britain.

So far, as we almost approach the mid-point of the football season, it is fair to say that Steve McClaren is moving in the right direction to resurrecting his reputation. Despite the early disappointment of being eliminated from the Champions League in the third qualifying round, this was admittedly as firm underdogs against the experience of Arsenal. The current Eredivisie table shows that FC Twente are fourth after the opening thirteen games and are very much in the mix for finishing higher than they did under the popular Fred Rutten. As well as this, the group stages of the Uefa Cup have been successfully negotiated after Wednesday's victory against Schalke 04 of Germany. What makes this result all the more sweeter for McClaren is that Shalke 04 are now managed by none other than Fred Rutten - it is hard to think of a better self endorsement than to have earned further Uefa Cup passage at the expense of his predecessor.

So, with little over a year since what Steve McClaren described as "the saddest day of my career", life appears distinctly more rosy for the man who was so venomously chastised with England. He would be wise to continue this new path and ignore any rumours that are quickly linking him with the vacant managerial post at Sunderland. There is certainly no need to be tempted to become Roy Keane's successor, instead it would be far more beneficial to continue in the footsteps of Sir Bobby Robson. By achieving acclaim on the continent as Robson did before him, McClaren can prove himself in territories where many British managers usually fear to tread and earn himself some form of redemption, it may not be so fanciful after all for him to follow in the footsteps of Sir Alex Ferguson as he once courted.

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