Steve McClaren (born Fulford, May 3, 1961) is a decent enough club manager who became a laughing stock when he ballsed up the England job and mistakenly thought he could speak Dutch.
An average footballer, who played somewhere in the midfield for teams like Hull City, Bristol City and Oxford United, McClaren had old-fashioned hair and a ‘good footballing brain’ and was always likely to be become a coach.
Amazingly, his first post came at global superpower Manchester United where he was made assistant to surly red-faced trophy magnet Sir Alex Ferguson.
The appointment was a surprise to everyone, including United owner Martin Edwards, who introduced an awkward McClaren to the press as ‘Steve McClaridge.’
Unlike predecessor Brian Kidd, whose only contribution was to fetch whisky for Sir Alex when he rang a bell, McClaren helped with tactics as well as keeping his boss’ hipflask topped up.
McClaren’s first chance to manage a side for himself came at silly North-Eastern outfit Middlesbrough where he replaced great player turned shitty old manager Bryan Robson.
The flame-haired northerner made an immediate impact when he won the 2003-04 League Cup by beating Bolton 2-1. Although the game had a TV audience of just 86, most of whom were waiting for Midsomer Murders, it was the greatest triumph in Middlesbrough’s mediocre history.
Middlesbrough’s 2005-06 UEFA Cup run was the most exciting thing ever to happen in the north of England, with the possible exception of the Revolt of the Northern Earls in 1569.
McClaren’s side reached the Final despite going at least three goals down in every game of their run. They then tried the same trick against Sevilla in the Final but were dry-humped 4-0 by the Spaniards, who ‘didn’t seem to have read the script.’
Even though he was the most successful manager in the club’s history, Boro fans never really liked McClaren that much and the 500 or so that could be bothered to attend games at the Riverside Stadium often booed him, even after their heroic wins over Steaua Bucharest and FC Basel.
Despite helping Sven Goran Eriksson heap shame on English football at World Cup 2006 as his assistant, McClaren managed to take over the Three Lions hot seat.
Most better coaches, including Luiz Felipe Scolari and Martin O’Neill, had already turned the job down and the FA were days away from advertising the job on Monster.com.
McClaren was entrusted with the task of ensuring England’s qualification for Euro 2008. Rather than do that, he ensured that England didn’t qualify for Euro 2008.
The pivotal night of ignominy was a 3-2 home defeat against Croatia on November 21, 2007 on a miserable rainy night.
Rather than pace the sidelines like the vulpine Slaven Bilic, who prowled around with wild eyes howling instructions to his equally fired-up players, McClaren opted to crouch under an umbrella.
That decision earned him ridicule in the nation’s press. The Sun labelled him ‘The wally with the brolly.’ The Mirror called him ‘That stupid fella with the umbrella’ and The Sunday Sport dubbed him “An arsehole with a parasol’ and ran a topless centrefold of the hapless boss.
Although McClaren had performed badly, the heart of the problem was that for some reason people assumed that Croatia wouldn’t be better than England at football.
Journalists lined up to point out that Croatia has a population of just five million and that the European Championship needs England. These people were repulsive human waste who displayed the kind of arrogance that caused many English football fans to kind of hope we went out.
McClaren left the England job complaining that, like Graham Taylor, he was the victim of a media witch-hunt. Sadly, like Taylor, McClaren was a bit of a silly bloke and it was all too easy to imagine him getting his anniversary wrong or forgetting where he’s parked his car.
Very Dutch chairman Joop Munsterman handed McClaren a managerial lifeline when he offered him a post at Eredivisie side FC Twente.
Troubles with Dutch language
Dutch, although a funny and impractical language, is different from speaking English with an accent.
McClaren seemed to think that over the years, the likes of Martin Jol and Ruud Gullit had been speaking Dutch on English TV and before Twente’s game with Arsenal he gave an interview in a bizarre pseudo-Dutch accent.
Strangely, McClaren seemed to have forgotten how to speak English in just a month in the job. He used the phrase ‘I thought one of them we would draw’ and did classic foreign manager things like referring to his team in the third person and forgetting the definite article before Champions League.