Steve McClaren is undoubtedly a well-known name amongst British football fans.
Whether that is from his short tenure as England manager, the second shortest in history, or from his impressive Carling Cup triumph with Middlesborough back in 2004. It was certainly a shock for most fans when he was appointed as Erik Ten Hag’s assistant manager this season, but judging from recent form, it was certainly a good choice.
The English journeyman has already had incredible success with Manchester United as an assistant manager as he was Sir Alex Furguson’s hand-picked right-hand man from 1999 to 2001. During that time, he helped United win three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and who can forget the 1999 Champions League trophy – completing the infamous treble. His first spell at the club was full of success and he won the league in every season while he was there.
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Unsurprisingly, it did not take long for McClaren to be given a managerial role and Middlesborough soon came knocking. While in charge of Boro, he became the first English manager to win a major title since 1996 with his League Cup victory in 2004. Then he was appointed as England manager – for 18 games. After he was sacked from his international position, it was a rocky 15 years which saw him manage four Championship sides.
One major explanation for McClaren’s appointment is his history with Ten Hag himself. They worked together at FC Twente, except this time, Ten Hag was McClaren’s right-hand man. The pair guided FC Twente to a respectable second-place finish in the Eredivisie and qualified for the Champions League.
While Ten Hag would go on to leave that season, the Englishman won the title next time around. Clearly, he earned the respect of the new Manchester United boss.
McClaren has a reputation to be strict and disciplined, which is an ideology that Ten Hag is noticeably trying to enforce with his new team. He is a manager that is certainly not afraid to change things or challenge ideas, as shown by his decision to leave out former captain David Beckham from his England team despite nationwide disagreements.
Marcus Rashford was recently dropped for a game after turning up late to a meeting, despite being in great form which shows that Ten Hag and McClaren are making United a serious and cohesive team. He has also been known to challenge those above him, as shown by his decision to resign from Nottingham Forest after finding that he had not been given the resources he was promised. Ten Hag has certainly avoided hiring a ‘yes man’ and he will no doubt be subject to honest and brutal opinions from his old boss.
McClaren also has a history of inspiring an unparalleled level of fight and determination in his players. Not only was he a part of the historic comeback for Manchester United in the 1999 Champions League final but he guided Boro to two miraculous comebacks against FC Basel and Steaua Bucuresti in order to reach the UEFA Cup final. The fight required for historic comebacks is a requirement engrained in Manchester United history and Ten Hag has been after that level of heaty all season.
Without a doubt, Steve McClaren’s greatest asset is his psychological understanding of his players. It is a major part of his game which has helped him bring the absolute best out of his players, he has shown that with his management of Juninho from that famous Middlesbrough side. Combined with the tactical prowess of Ten Hag, McClaren can turn good players into great players – and that usually ends in trophies.
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