Sink or Swim For McClaren at Derby

Steve McClaren is the man synonymous with pictures of umbrellas and videos of him speaking with a Dutch accent, but now with Derby County could be facing a defining point in his career.

Since taking Middlesbrough to the UEFA Cup Final in 2007, a run which helped persuade the FA he was the right man to replace Sven Goran-Eriksson, the former Middlesbrough manager has seen his career stall.

After working as an assistant at Derby, Manchester United and England, under his predecessor, McClaren gained an excellent education in coaching and was seen as one of the best upcoming English managers for years, something that is becoming more and more scarce with the influx of foreign coaches on these shores.

Following on from being sacked as England head coach the York-born Englishman looked to move abroad to further his footballing knowledge whilst proving he had what it took to manage at the highest level.

A move to FC Twente in the summer of 2008 was next though he was still struggling to be taken seriously back in England, especially when that interview emerged of the former Three Lions coach speaking with a Dutch accent, which he seemed to have developed almost overnight.

Success did arrive with Twente when he guided them to their first Eredivisie title in 2010, becoming the first English coach to win a Dutch League title since the great Sir Bobby Robson, who in fact had help convince McClaren that a move to the continent would be wise.

With the wind in his sails the title-winning coach swapped the Eredivisie for the Bundesliga in 2010, setting a record by becoming the first English coach in the league, though unlike his time in Holland McClaren was never remotely close to success with Wolfsburg before leaving in February 2011.

His excursions on the European front did give the former Derby County midfielder recognition and he was credited for going where very few British coaches have been in order to widen his horizons and also to gain more of a footballing understanding.

For the Derby fans though it will not be about whether he was a former player or assistant manager but about results. Especially as many are angered with the sacking of Nigel Clough, who after four years in the job seemed to be building towards a return to the big time with the Rams whilst operating on a tight budget.

At Derby there is a real influence on youth and it will remain to be seen how McClaren can tutor and nurture through the club’s promising academy starlets, something he did well at Middlesbrough which will also be key with the club’s board so  far reluctant to spend since their own arrival in 2008.

McClaren’s stand out achievement is his success in Holland but since has failed to replicate it, even trying his luck back in the football league with rivals Nottingham Forest; coincidently the same club Nigel Clough lost his job against last weekend.

There is a real possibility this could be the last straw in terms of management for the 52-year-old at a high level, who is no longer seen as a manager with potential but one who’s career is at breaking point, despite being held in high regard due to his coaching abilities with even FC Twente turning their back on him after an unsuccessful second spell at his former side.


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