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McClaren silencing critics with FC Twente

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Phil Minshull | 10:30 UK time, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Steve McClaren is making the clouds go away at FC Twente.

It's worth saying quietly as he was probably the most derided England manager, possibly ever, certainly since Graham Taylor. Nonetheless, McClaren has been one of the unsung success stories in European football this season.

After taking over at Twente Enschede back in the summer of 2008 after, as the Independent put it in one of his few interviews with the English media since moving to the Netherlands, he left England under a rain cloud, he has revitalised the club from the rural Eastern part of the country.

He will be forever remembered for the damning image of him watching impotently from beneath his umbrella at Wembley as England's chances of qualifying for Euro 2008 were washed away by Croatia.

Former England boss Steve McClaren>McClaren was sacked from the England job in November 2007

But if Twente do lift the Dutch title for the first time in 83 years, he might be able to hold his head up high back home again.

Twente - or the Tukkers, as they are nicknamed - last won the Eredivisie in 1926, when they were known as Sportclub Enschede. The closest they had come to repeating that feat before McClaren's arrival was when they finished runners-up in 1974.

In his first season at the club, McClaren again took them back to second place, while they also got to the Dutch Cup final and were very unlucky to miss out on making the Champions League group stages, losing out on away goals to Sporting Lisbon.

This season, Twente are currently on top of the Dutch first division at the halfway point - as they have been from three games into the campaign - and are unbeaten in their 18 matches.

So how has McClaren done so well in the Netherlands when he was such a disappointment during his 16-month stint in the England job?

Well, there are obvious differences in scale between being the coach of one of the world's leading football nations and a club in a league that is arguably only the sixth most prestigious or powerful in Europe - after the big five of England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.

Nevertheless, given Twente's resources, with the club historically overshadowed by the likes of Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV, McClaren has done a remarkable job, akin to his achievements at Middlesbrough, and gained huge respect in the Netherlands for his tactical astuteness.

He also realised that Twente still lacked a little creativity and firepower up front last season, despite their exploits, and managed to snatch Costa Rican international Bryan Ruiz from under the noses of Dutch champions AZ Alkmaar, as well as acquiring the Slovakian midfielder Miroslav Stoch on loan from Chelsea.

The pair have scored 13 and eight goals respectively so far this season and have arguably been the best signings in the Eredivisie this season.

Credit should also go to Twente's seemingly ageless DR Congo-born Swiss international Blaise Nkufo, who has been scoring prodigiously since he arrived at the club in 2003. The 34-year-old striker has also bagged eight goals this season.

If Twente do manage to hold off the challenge of PSV, who are also unbeaten this term, then history might subsequently be a little kinder to the man who has been cruelly dubbed "the wally with the brolly".

McClaren signed a one-year extension to his contract in October, which means he is tied to Twente until the end of next season, and has made no secret of the fact that he would like to lead them in the Champions League group stages.

However, he has also been open about wanting to make a return to the Premier League sometime soon.

And it would come as no surprise to see a club pay good money to bring him back to England this summer.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Other questions on European football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week. I don't need your full address but please put the town/city and country where you come from. Thanks.

From last week's postbag:

I was just wondering about how TSG Hoffenheim are doing after an amazing first season. I can see them doing reasonably well being eighth in the table but has the squad changed much or anything else important? Is Europe a realistic target for them?
Lukas Roper

In the last six weeks or so, Hoffenheim have been struggling with injury problems and they now haven't won in five games. With the long winter break in Germany, that means they haven't actually got three points since their 4-0 away win at Koln in November. Europe is still a possibility if they can turn things around, but I'm pessimistic. For the 2-0 loss at Bayern Munich, Hoffenheim were missing two key players: Nigerian international striker Chinedu Obasi, who has got five goals this season but who is at the Africa Cup of Nations, and the impressive Brazilian midfielder Carlos Eduardo, who has a knee injury. In addition, Tobias Weis, Mathias Jaissle and Prince Tagoe are all also injured at the moment.

It seems as though Italian teams have lost their way a little bit over the last couple of years in Europe. Is this maybe a temporary slump in the standard or quality of Italian football, or is Italian football going down a sorry road?
Andrew Keirs Kesa

I definitely don't think that Italian football is going down a sorry road. Italian teams haven't dominated the Champions League in the last couple of years, with Spanish and English teams in the ascendancy, but these things tend to go in cycles. Remember AC Milan won in 2003 and 2007 and look as though they are starting to get into their stride once again. Inter may have not been quite as impressive in their Serie A matches in recent weeks as they were at the start of the season, but they are still a danger. The forthcoming last-16 matches, with AC Milan v Manchester United and Inter v Chelsea, could very conceivably see Italian sides assert themselves at the expense of the current top two in the Premier League. Juventus and Roma could also progress a long way in the Europa League. I wouldn't be surprised to see one of them win it, despite Juve's recent problems (see last week's blog).


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  • 1. At 11:15am on 19 Jan 2010, MGUK82 wrote:

    Credit to McLaren for his efforts over there - he's starting to remind me why I backed him to replace Sven in the first place. His achievements with Boro proved himself to be a damn good manager at club level and could still do a job in the Premiership.

    However he must still take the brunt of the blame for our failire to qualify for Euro 2008 - if it was the fault of the players then Fabio wouldn't be able to do anything with them either.

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  • 2. At 11:15am on 19 Jan 2010, Cuzza10 wrote:

    I bet most Middlesbrough fans would like to have him bacK!!!!!

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  • 3. At 11:16am on 19 Jan 2010, Ginger wrote:

    Hiya Phil,

    Not read the blog yet but as far as I'm concerned SM is a ... I can't say it he just is.

    He owes me and the rest of the country something that can never be replaced and if he comes back to this country I would only be happy if he was in charge of Liverpool, Cidy or Leeds.

    I could have got that team though to Euro 2008 and so could you.

    Well done on his success in Holland, please stay there.

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  • 4. At 11:16am on 19 Jan 2010, BerlinLondonMark wrote:

    Thanks for posting a message about a British Manager plying his/her trade in a foreign country. Trying to find other articles seem to be tough. Do you reckon that McClaren would be better off heading to Germany before stepping back to the Premier League?

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  • 5. At 11:16am on 19 Jan 2010, pidgeGULL wrote:

    A good blog Phil, McClaren is doing well to rebuild his reputation, I wouldn't be shocked if his career were to take a similar form to that of Roy Hodgson, he's a good coach with a solid foundation in tactics, he just got the big job far too soon. I don't expect him back in the premiership for a while, but I could be wrong, I'd expect him to get a few more jobs across Europe first.

    While he was boss of England he irritated me as in some of his press conferences he was trying too hard to play the defiant leader (or something along similarly contrived lines) and it just rang false. But since getting the boot he has been open and honest about just how hard that period of his life was, which I respect. Shame that for the tabloid idiots he'll be a joke for as long as they can string it out for.

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  • 6. At 11:19am on 19 Jan 2010, Ginger wrote:

    Now just read it, I don't care he can stay there as far as I'm concerned, at least for another 10yrs.

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  • 7. At 11:20am on 19 Jan 2010, CardiffGull wrote:

    A decent read again Phil.

    I'm really pleased to see Stoch doing so well. Despite a few good substitute appearances last season, he was unlikely to get a good run in the current Chelsea side. How do you see his development and is it going to be difficult for him to lure him back to England where he may yet again be bereft of opportunities? He is likely to feature strongly for Slovakia this summer so many clubs may be interested in him.

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  • 8. At 11:21am on 19 Jan 2010, Cuzza10 wrote:

    I bet most Middlesbrough fans would like him back. Especially the one that throw his season ticket at him.

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  • 9. At 11:22am on 19 Jan 2010, UptheArsenal wrote:

    He is undoubtedly a quality manager with a lot to offer. It must be incredibly difficult to manage a football team that you spend barely any time with as McLaren did with England. I think although there is a lot of skill required, also luck and injuries will always play a bigger role in international management. Bad luck and the inability to instal more confidence into his players led to England and McLaren's demise.
    He had proven at Middlesbrough, a team now in the Championship and struggling to get easy promotion back up, that he was worthy of a bigger job. Unfortunately, he took on the biggest managing job in football. Very difficult to succeed.
    I'm happy for him that he is once again proving his critics wrong and it would be good to see him back in the premier league soon, maybe Liverpool should think about bringing him in. Would be an interesting appointment.

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  • 10. At 11:26am on 19 Jan 2010, Riggadon wrote:

    For me, this just highlights the differences between whats required at club level management and internation level. They are two totally different roles, and being successful in one does'nt automatically qualify you for the other. I am glad that McLaren has found his niche.

    In my eyes, the one English manager that is going about it the right way is Stuart Pearce. Instead of staying in club management, he is picking up invaluable experience at international level and I am convinced he will be the next England manager. To be an understudy to the current incumbent is the right way to go.

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  • 11. At 11:27am on 19 Jan 2010, sportingpunter wrote:

    Regardless of what he achieves in Holland, it will not alter the fact that he was a disaster as England manager. It was not his fault that he was apppointed - he was bounced in by the media on the back of a couple of miracle comebacks with Boro - with weak FA management. But he was shocking - totally unable to manage the high-profile 'celebs' of the squad. Very odd when you consider his background with Man Utd. Perhaps simply too early for him. Crazy how a couple of fluke results with Boro can make you England manager.

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  • 12. At 11:28am on 19 Jan 2010, arnoldmuhrenshairpiece81 wrote:

    I went to Twente's last game a very hard fought away point at improving FC Utrecht. It was a team performance that Middelsborough fans might fondly remember. Well drilled , playing as a team and with wide men told to cross at every opportunity. Brian Ruiz came into the game on an 11 match scoring streak , tieing the Dutch record but received few chances and the game finished 0-0. PSV look favourites to snatch the title but 15 wins 3 draws and no defeats show exactly how well McClaren has moulded a side to his liking. He is highly respected here in Holland and rightly so, 2 of the big, 3 Ajax and Feyenoord have wilted under Twente's machine like consistancy. I can see a big English club coming in for Steve next summer , well done Phil for giving some praise and attention to an Englishman abroad. Mc Claren is quietly shaping a very impressive club.

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  • 13. At 11:32am on 19 Jan 2010, LABSAB9 wrote:

    Shteve Maclaren - Wally with a brolly

    He thought he was great coming into England job and telling Beckham he was no longer required, what a joke!!!

    I am just glad we have now got someone in place who knows what he is doing.

    PS Shteve Maclaren please explain what you were thinking when you did that interview with a dutchlish accent??? funniest interview ever (what a plank!!!)

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  • 14. At 11:33am on 19 Jan 2010, pidgeGULL wrote:

    UptheArsenal, surely manager of Brazil is the biggest job in football. All the pressure of England manager, with even higher expectations, stylistic expectations and with over 190 million fans to satisfy.

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  • 15. At 11:34am on 19 Jan 2010, Ottski wrote:

    Didn't he give a press conference in a very dubious "Dutch" accent? Outrageous!

    Glad he's doing well and rebuilding the reputation that was in tatters after his England tenure. Once touted as Sir Alex's successor, a long way to go before he would be anywhere near that level methinks.

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  • 16. At 11:36am on 19 Jan 2010, UptheArsenal wrote:

    haha @ 13... 'Shteve" McClaren. I bet he hit a few coffee shops before giving that interview.

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  • 17. At 11:38am on 19 Jan 2010, Matt H wrote:

    I think a large part of his success here and failure with England is due to his relationship with the players.

    With England, he respected the players too much. By being far too friendly with them ("JT" and "Stevie-G"), the players were always in their comfort zone. As a result, the players didn't respect him nearly enough as they respect Capello. A good enough coach for us, but he wasn't cut out to be managing the team.

    He couldn't make the big decisions either, because he was scared of what his star players would think (think splitting up a very successful midfield to accommodate Lampard in a 4-5-1 in the ill-fated Croatia game at Wembley).

    Basically, he couldn't handle the big names. Now he is in Belgium working with players he wouldn't have heard of before taking the job. So instead of trying to be pals with the superstars, he's been able to get on properly with the job. And hats off to him, he has done an outstanding job.

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  • 18. At 11:38am on 19 Jan 2010, Emmon wrote:

    I've got to agree with pidgeGULL. At the time I said it and still stand by those claims, he took the England job too early.

    To the poster who said he was wrong to drop Beckham, must politely disgree. At the time, we had a lot of promise there with Lennon, Wright Phillips, Bentley and to a certain extent Walcott. If Beckham had played on the other side, I can understand then there was no reason to discard him as we have a dearth of players in that position. It's not Maclaren's fault that none of those guys stepped up.

    Anyway, good luck to him. I'm glad he's doing well. Why would he want to come back here to our rabid tabloid press. Stay over there, establish yourself. Who knows, he might one day get the England job again, when he's older and more experienced.

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  • 19. At 11:39am on 19 Jan 2010, Andyj247 wrote:

    Good luck to McLaren out in Holland, if he wins the Eredivisie, that is no mean feat considering that PSV have dominated until last season.

    Its a bit sad some of the posters on here can't seem to get over the fact that he didnt get England to Euro 2008, move on people its old news.

    I wonder if McClaren will come back to England to coach anytime soon or if he will folow Bobby Robson and Roy Hodgson by managing in europe for a number of years. It certainly healed the scars for Bobby Robson after England and it looks like the same for McClaren.

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  • 20. At 11:40am on 19 Jan 2010, UptheArsenal wrote:

    to pidgeGULL, I agree to a degree, however Brazil have a lot more strength in depth than England and therefore the job is easier. English fans have huge expectations of their national team, and as much as there are less of them than Brazil, I think the expectation is more unrealistic here than over there. I suppose it doesn't necessarily make it the bigger job in world football, but certainly one of the hardest.

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  • 21. At 11:41am on 19 Jan 2010, neeskensreturns wrote:

    Can I as a Twente fan just point out that Twente weren't 'lacking firepower' last season. We had Elia on the left wing (chosen as Dutch talent of the 2008-09 season and a regular starter for the Dutch national team) and Marko Arnautovic (currently at Inter and nicknamed the new Zlatan) on the right. It's not like we got rid of these players because we thought they were lacking in firepower. We lost these players because we have modest financial resources. I'm pretty confident we won't be able to hold on to Ruiz long either, and then again it won't be down to his lack of firepower.

    Much as I respect McClaren, a great manager and a gentleman, it also bothers me that the English media reporting on him being the architect of Twente's success. First of all, no other Dutch club outside the traditional top three has finished in the top three as often as Twente. It's not like this is a small club (to Dutch standards). Second, the architect of Twente's current success is the chairman, Joop Munsterman, who following the near bankruptcy of the club initiated a new and highly ambitious five year growth strategy for the club. It's thanks to him that we've expanded our stadium and dramatically increased revenues. Managers like McClaren will come and go, our chairman ain't going anywhere any time soon. But well done to McClaren for identifying that this was a great place for him to revive his career, and I think he's a pretty good club manager.

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  • 22. At 11:48am on 19 Jan 2010, Benjamin Ingram wrote:

    McClaren is a top coach. He did a good job with Middlesbough, measured further by their form since his departure. And lets face it, he pretty much coached the England side during the reign of Sven too. A win against Croatia at Wembley and it could have been so different. Should we really give him such a hard time? I'm pretty sure he'll come back to the Premier League and be very successful. Its refreshing to see a British coach have some success for a change.

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  • 23. At 11:49am on 19 Jan 2010, LABSAB9 wrote:

    18. At 11:38am on 19 Jan 2010, Emmon wrote:

    To the poster who said he was wrong to drop Beckham, must politely disgree. At the time, we had a lot of promise there with Lennon, Wright Phillips, Bentley and to a certain extent Walcott. If Beckham had played on the other side, I can understand then there was no reason to discard him as we have a dearth of players in that position. It's not Maclaren's fault that none of those guys stepped up.

    Fair enough but my point was that it was foolhardy to come in and "make a statement" by disregarding a player who had been our captain for a number of years and not just that but our most influential/productive player at the 2006 world cup.

    Squads of players should be picked on who is playing the best in their relevant positions regardless of history (just as Fabio does) people should not be dismissed because they have history Maclaren should not have dismissed Beckham so quickly as i stated before i believe he was trying to "give it the big one" for want of a better term!!

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  • 24. At 11:54am on 19 Jan 2010, Capt_Whacky wrote:

    So Macca is shining in a sixth rate league! Big deal!

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  • 25. At 11:55am on 19 Jan 2010, richwebb101 wrote:

    another good blog Phil.

    Mclaren got a really hard time at England. Our players were as much to blame as he was. For how long now have they been letting us all down? The only players who show any commitment to their country these days are Rooney and Terry.

    He is a good manager and he is doing a great job at Twente. Its sounds like a Football Manager story!

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  • 26. At 12:07pm on 19 Jan 2010, crash wrote:

    '24. At 11:54am on 19 Jan 2010, Captain_Whacky wrote:

    So Macca is shining in a sixth rate league! Big deal!'

    He has taken Twente to the top of a league which PSV have ruled for years. If Blanc gets good credit for making Bordeaux French champions then so must Mclaren for this one.
    Well done to him for moving on an doing well at this job. Who knows, maybe he'll move to a higher club - athletico might do well with him - and then maybe in 10/15 years time he'll take the england job again. WHo knows really.

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  • 27. At 12:13pm on 19 Jan 2010, RubberNutz wrote:


    Whilst in hindsight the decision to drop Beckham wasn't the correct one, at the time the media and the fans thought it was the right decision. Mainly due to his untouchable status under Erikkson so I think you're being a bit harsh. His real mistake was applying for an International job when he had nowhere near enough experience.

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  • 28. At 12:14pm on 19 Jan 2010, Sir Alex Ferguson dried my hair wrote:

    Decent blog Phil. But I think you are wrong in making statements like "silencing the critics" or "proving the critics wrong". McClaren hasn't proven any one his critics wrong. How could he? He could win the Champions League with Twente and it wouldn't change the fact that he was an absolute catastrophe as England manager.

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  • 29. At 12:30pm on 19 Jan 2010, Ray Silvester wrote:

    He has done well but what are all those interviews in 'Dutlish'(a mix of English in a Dutch accent) all about.....he sounds like the Dutch policemen from 'The Fast Show'?

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  • 30. At 12:33pm on 19 Jan 2010, Simon wrote:

    Thanks Phil for putting McClaren back in the spotlight.

    I am an FC Twente fan since 2000 and it always surprises me how disrespectful English people (or those who are just watching Premier League) are about football in Holland. Reading comments like sixth-rate made from people who just do not know anything much about the game in Holland is just not right.

    First, what McClaren has done is good, but he has built on great foundations laid by the last manager. However, credit must go to Joop Munstermann, Twente Chairman as if people think that the Eredivisie is sixth rate, then look to the first class way that Joop runs the club (in a very similar way to Steve Gibson - so no surprise that Steve ended up in Enschede) as Twente lose players every season, yet STILL manage to invest wisely and bring out the best in players.

    Everyone needs TIME in football, which you dont get elsewhere. Twente finished 2nd last season. That was McClaren's first season and it carried on from the previous year. Given that players were sold and even before a ball was kicked, it is how McClaren has instilled not only the work ethic into the team, but allowed them to play flowing football, is the impressive thing.

    I saw one of his very first matches, which was aginst Arsenal in the Champions League Qualifiers in Arnhem and saw a Twente team, not with much or any European experience, systematically run Arsenal off the pitch for 70 minutes until the Euro-savviness of Arsene Wenger saw Arsenal poach two late goals.

    Sadly, chasing a two goal lead was too much at the Emirates, but Arsenal showed on that night why they would have taken any team apart. They were sensational and I got the feeling that Arsenal took it for granted in the first game, thought as many do that the Dutch league is "second rate". McClaren had a habit of reminding them it was not so.

    I also saw how he developed the team when they played Schalke 04 in the group stages of the Europa League. The strong backbone that was not always present had been built by McClaren and you can see the influence of his time working with Sir Alex, Twente play a system very similar to United, which is to be founded on a strong defence and have devastating attacking players to do the damage.

    Twente is a young club - only formed in 1965 and besides a handful of Dutch Cup victories, I think that the best we have done is get to a European Final (UEFA in the mid 1970s) and finish 2nd in the League then also.

    When McClaren leads us into the Champions League, I for one will have eaten all the humble pie I can take as he is quite simply a very gifted coach. I also thought he was not going to be good for Twente, but how wrong I was.

    Many may notice I have not mentioned the England job, because it is not what this article is about. The Dutch League may not be as strong as some other leagues, but for a country the size of Holland to have created as many teams who have won European competitions at Club level and been in three major international finals, winning one, I have to say that this achievement is as good as anything that England have achieved, so respect is indeed due.

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  • 31. At 12:33pm on 19 Jan 2010, MartinRichardson wrote:

    Hi Phil, ok blog, although strongly disagree with McClaren coming back to England and being a success. Depends on how you measure success nowadays. Can't imagine United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal rushing out to try to get him to manage their respective teams to european glory! Although I may not be the biggest Dutch football follower I think I know enough to say that the teams of Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord, are not the teams they used to be and I don't really know if there are that money 'world class' players in the Dutch League.

    I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that Steve McClaren has not really proved anything yet in his football coaching career worthy of a blog dedicated to him!

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  • 32. At 12:35pm on 19 Jan 2010, WallWriter wrote:


    love all the folk still moaning about McClaren and the inability of the england squad to qualify; don't you lot maybe think that the players had something to do about it!?
    Don't you think that perhaps the 'Golden Generation' started believing their own hype a bit too much!?

    I bet half of them looked at themselves as the saviours of british football because they earned a fortune and had pretty girlfriends, so surely they must be good players!?
    Stevie G, JT, Cashley and Co all reading the sun etc etc and actually thinking that they were England '66/ Brasil '72/ Holland '74 incarnate!?

    Man oh man, it took the humiliation to get that one out of their heads, and people still saying it was solely McCLaren's fault....

    And then i haven't even mentioned to fact that Croatia was/ is a relatively new country, so their players were actually fighting for something.....instead of the headlines of the Sun's/Mail's/ Mirror's celeb pages!


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  • 33. At 12:38pm on 19 Jan 2010, Capt_Whacky wrote:

    The title of this blog is "McClaren silencing critics with FC Twente". I dont think anyone has critisised McClaren's acheivements or ability at club level. In fact had he not taken the England job and stayed at club level then he could well be still in the Prem. He was criticised for his very poor display at international level. To argue that he is silencing his critics by using the acheivements of a small club in the Dutch league is ridiculous. If McClaren were the current manager of the Dutch national side then that would be a different matter!

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  • 34. At 12:42pm on 19 Jan 2010, LABSAB9 wrote:


    Untouchable status under Erikkson?? he was Captain mate, Captains are first name on teamsheet surely?

    I agree with your point about the media influencing the decision but how can that be right? do you think that Fabio will be influenced because a few of the red top journalists start a witch hunt? the answer is no because he knows his own mind and will make decisions based on fact and logic, he will not make decisions to please others or to make statements.

    In other words he won't cut off his nose to spite his face which in my opinion Shteve Maclaren did when disregarding the services of one of Englands best players.

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  • 35. At 12:43pm on 19 Jan 2010, Sam Gillies wrote:

    post number 3 "not read the blog yet"

    Brilliant...comment invalid then

    "I could of got that them to Euro 2008"

    Another arm chair pundit probably who think's Stuart Pearce would of been the best manager due to his 'passion'

    Mr.Mac undoubtedly did a terrible job with England, but taking a challenge abroad and making a huge success of it shows what a good manager he really is, of course only at club level now!

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  • 36. At 12:46pm on 19 Jan 2010, Capt_Whacky wrote:

    #30 Simon
    Reading comments like sixth-rate made from people who just do not know anything much about the game in Holland is just not right

    Phil's words not mine!

    "Well, there are obvious differences in scale between being the coach of one of the world's leading football nations and a club in a league that is arguably only the sixth most prestigious or powerful in Europe - after the big five of England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France."


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  • 37. At 12:55pm on 19 Jan 2010, borophil wrote:

    cozza 10 (year old?) yeah we're missing him so much you said it twice...
    I said when he left that history would judge mac well and so it has proved. and as for a couple of lucky comebacks...we beat some decent sides - roma over 2 legs! we won the CCC and finished in a league qualifying spot for uefa cup...he's a great tactician and can build a team to avoid losing...he's a modern manager with a good approach to traning and diet etc...his big failing at the boro was his relationship with the fans and communication - "magnificent they were today" - when we knew and he knew they were crap...he won't have that problem at twente with his fluent dutch!

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  • 38. At 12:57pm on 19 Jan 2010, Alex wrote:

    People often say that you don't know what you've got until it's gone. As a Middlesbrough fan this is certainly the case with Mclaren.

    After two seasons with Southgate at the helm it had become apparent to me what a difference a manager with an understanding of tactics can make. At the time the football seemed defensive and boring, even in the seasons when we qualified for Europe. Looking back from the position we are in now, with the team bereft of leadership and mental strength this seems a ridiculous opinion to have had. His demise and the subsequent years have certainly taught me to have more patience and to see beyond the opinion of the mob.

    However, comparisons with Southgate and Strachen could be said to be a little unfair given the differences in resources available to them. McLaren certainly had access to a much deeper well of finance and he most certainly used it.

    I can't help but feel a little bit sorry for McLaren with regards to his decision to take the England job. Given that he had already been involved during the Eriksson reign and added to that the fact that a manager coming from a team like Middlesbrough ensured that the job was an impossible one from the outset. Hostile fans and an even hostile media meant that he didn't have a chance to build his own team and style.

    I hope he doesn't come back to England for a while yet as he will inevitably be met with a blinkered response from English fans. I'd like to see him continue to expand his knowledge of different football cultures by taking a job in a league like Serie A. I wish nothing but luck.

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  • 39. At 12:59pm on 19 Jan 2010, jamesmcconnell wrote:

    What a sad, miserable person you are.
    Credit where credit is due.He has proved what a good club manager he ( McClaren )is.Yes, he made a lot of mistakes as the National manager, but a great proportion of blame for failing to make the Euro Finals must be attributed to the so called GOLDEN GENERATION.Lampard, Terry, Gerard etc.
    Like you Ginger, a sad bunch of spoilt individuals.Over rated and VASTLY OVERPAID

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  • 40. At 1:00pm on 19 Jan 2010, I82People wrote:

    "being the coach of one of the world's leading football nations "

    A airly outlandish statement isn't it? England needs to arn a place at the highgest table of fooballing nations. 66 just isnt a right of passage anymore. That's part of what the problem was when McClaren was manager, everyone in England assumed England deserved a place at major championships. At least Capello has taken that idea out of the player's thoughts (not the public's yet however!).

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  • 41. At 1:00pm on 19 Jan 2010, JDP wrote:

    Well done Maclaren.

    Completely deserved. He was poor as England manager but he came in at a difficult period and the players really let him down.

    I think Maclaren is a great club manager who really builds a bond with his players and gets them playing for him. i think as an International manager he didn't get the same amount of time with players and the opportunity came to soon.

    Maclaren can still go on to manage at the highest level (whether that be a big team in the Prem or around Europe of even National level) again.

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  • 42. At 1:02pm on 19 Jan 2010, Retirethenumber17shirt wrote:

    Ah well, they say hindsight is Twente Twente vision!

    The fella was fast tracked through the system - Fergie's assistant, Boro and then the big job. The FA thought he was the next Alf Ramsey and he ended up the next Alf Garnett.

    The vetting process for England manager looked as flawed then as the vetting process for "fit and proper" ownership of a club does now. The Glazers are ripping off Man Utd like the dodgy glaziers that did me Gran's kitchen window! The Yanks are busting Rafa's Reds with their big promises, short arms and long pockets. The Pompey ownership shambles is a sick joke - pay the tea lady at least. As for Briatore, Formula One's panto villain, how does this fella get away with it?

    Thank God someone saw the light and figured Fabio could be the answer.

    I know he also conducts interviews in a funny accent - but I'll forgive him anything when JT lifts the World Cup.

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  • 43. At 1:02pm on 19 Jan 2010, Chris Dean wrote:

    I'm with Riggadan (10) and matt-h88 (17): PackaMac is a good manager of good players but doesn't have the clout to get the best out of top players at the top of their game.

    As Hughes' demise at Man City has once again shown, only a very few managers have what it takes at the very highest level. Ferguson ticks all those boxes and, thankfully for England, so too does Capello.

    Who else? Wenger, Ancelotti, Hiddink, Guardiola? Maybe...

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  • 44. At 1:05pm on 19 Jan 2010, Thoughtsonfootball wrote:

    Until McClaren has a sustain run of success in a league with better players then his quality will always be questionable. The Dutch league, least we forgot, is the one that had Alfonso Alves as a top striker. It is not what it once was and whilst it might be competitive that does not necessarily breed quality.

    Also, tactically McClaren seemed flounder in England and for England. I remember him going a few goals down and then throwing on as many strikers as possible. His 3-5-2 against Croatia looked good on the chalkboard but at home he should never have adjusted to counter the strengths of the opposition.

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  • 45. At 1:08pm on 19 Jan 2010, First Gooner on the Moon wrote:

    Arsenal's Jack Wilshere has been linked with a loan move to Twente. Do you think he would make it to the starting eleven of Twente? And does Twente's style bear any similarities with that of Arsenal?

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  • 46. At 1:12pm on 19 Jan 2010, Matt wrote:

    McClaren and Graham Taylor have some stark similarities, and the most potent of these similarities is the fact they both, by their own high standards "failed" with England. Yet, as a Watford fan myself, Graham Taylor took our club to heights never before seen...or ever again to be honest! and for that i am truly grateful and i think everyone will agree that Graham Taylor was a great manager, and i definitely think that the same will be said about McClaren in the future, even if he doesn't make his name with Watford!

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  • 47. At 1:12pm on 19 Jan 2010, Sir Alex Ferguson dried my hair wrote:

    #32 WallWriter

    England fans are still moaning because they have a good reason to moan. McClaren's inept management ruined the summer of a lot of people then he even had the cheek to go on TV to offer his 'expertise' in international football to the public. People have every reason to be angry at him, even if it's been a while. Those things aren't forgotten in a moment you know.

    And yes, the players had to take part of the blame for the team's woeful failure which they did. But it does not mean the manager is blameless. The so-called golden generation were arrogant and egocentric for a simple reason: because the management allowed to be. It has required an appointment of a hugely expensive Italian to do what should have been done a long time ago, to install a no-nonsense, disciplinarian approach to the England national team. The exact same bunch of players who according to you were only chasing headlines two years ago are now a tight-knit, disciplined team because Capello has done what McClaren did not have the ability to do. If you really think McClaren is blameless for the Euro fiasco then maybe you should look at how much better the same group of players are playing now.

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  • 48. At 1:19pm on 19 Jan 2010, Davey Bones wrote:

    McLaren is by a long way the worst manager England have ever had. That's saying something when you think of Erikson and Taylor. What McLaren might do in an obscure league like the Netherlands doesn't matter a jot.

    I will never forgive him and the idiots that appointed him for the harm they did to English football. I hope he stays in Holland and never comes back.

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  • 49. At 1:25pm on 19 Jan 2010, YaBoo wrote:

    Ok a bit of credit - Hes top of the league and thats all he can do BUT - and its a big but, the Dutch league is probably at it weakest in my living memory. Ajax and PSV are not the teams they once were and the league doesn't have any real CL contenders at the moment. Before Ajax were one of the great teams and even after they fell PSV were still competetive - But not anymore.

    I have never rated McLaren, could never understand why he was so highly regarded and considered one of 'the best young managers around' - and a little success in a currently very weak Dutch league does nothing to convince me otherwise.

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  • 50. At 1:28pm on 19 Jan 2010, Matt H wrote:

    r.e. McClaren and Beckham

    At the time, I thought it was right to drop him, though not from the squad. We had exiting players coming through, and he had just seen another tournament where an injured/unfit Beckham had underperformed again (despite the assists).

    But McClaren then insisted on playing these players on the left. Lennon is not a left winger!

    Then, when Beckham came back, McClaren said he was the best right midfield in the world. If he thought that, why did he drop him? As I said, too much respect for the players.

    But, he did stumble across a balanced midfield. SWP-Gerrard-Barry-Cole behind Owen-Heskey produced some good football and scored plenty. Pity he then insisted on shoving Lampard and Beckham back in.

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  • 51. At 1:32pm on 19 Jan 2010, WallWriter wrote:


    First of happened a fair few years ago and this blog is about the McClaren the club manager so no, you lot don't actually have a reason to moan anymore.

    But that aside, you make a valid point about the management and blame; something which i don't's just the majority of the comments regarding your 'euro-fiasco' seem to solely blame McClaren, and i asked the valid question if the players' inflated sense of entitlement had something to do with.

    Also, the blame regarding the management lies more with Erikkson (another hugely expensive foreigner) who allowed this to happen.., and even tho McCLaren was part of that team, he was more (field)coach then manager (of overall affairs).

    And, regarding the current state of the team, yes they have seem to have a more humble air around them; but are you seriously laying all that down with with Capello!? (Disciplinarian he may be...)

    And not, perhaps, maybe, with the fact that these bloated ego's, as you so eloquently put it, ruined the summer of a lot of people??


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  • 52. At 1:34pm on 19 Jan 2010, Garry Nelson Is A Legend wrote:

    Well, the only big decision Steve Mclaren made as England gaffer was to drop David Beckham, which was a big mistake. England needed Beckham then and still need him now, he brings so much to the game. Then Mclaren realised he made a mistake and brought im back for the last two games, too late.

    I'm glad he´s doing well now, it was just a wrong decision by the FA.

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  • 53. At 1:36pm on 19 Jan 2010, Ginger wrote:

    This man cost our country a summer tournament through his ignorance and incompetence. He made poor decisions consistently and should have been sacked before the Croatia game.

    Jose was free and should have been paid to take us to the Euro's.

    Sorry if I am not in a mood to forgive him. His UEFA cup run was due to him throwing on a load of strikers when losing a game, he was lucky and nothing more.

    Was he in contention to replace his successor at Boro? No, Gibson wouldn't have him back.

    Would you want him at your club? Maybe in Division 1.

    SM, well done in Holland as I said in my earlier post but you are not welcome here.

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  • 54. At 1:38pm on 19 Jan 2010, Steve wrote:

    "Wally with a Brolly"?! He should be grateful for this nickname - imagine what he would have been called if he had been wearing a hat!!

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  • 55. At 1:42pm on 19 Jan 2010, buymespresso wrote:

    Nice to see McLaren doing miracles abroad. Question is, why would he want to come back to Britain or a bigger league? Enschede's a nice little family town (he and Kathryn have three boys), Holland is a brilliant place to live, the locals love him and smile at him when he goes to the shops ... if I was in his position, I'd be in no hurry to leave. (Though I do hear he's been linked with La Liga.)

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  • 56. At 1:45pm on 19 Jan 2010, Thomas wrote:

    Many past legends have had their careers presumed over and then revived them and gone on to do great things. Despite the past nobody has the right to deny Steve his career revival. He is definatly more than one step away from managing a top 10 premiership club again how ever his achievments can't be taken away from him. I think a fully accomplished Champions league spot, a moderate effort in the group stages and perhaps a cup or league title and mclaren may be ready to move on. If not to england to another european club where he can gain more vital experience and ofcourse make new contacts with regards to foreign talent. :)

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  • 57. At 1:46pm on 19 Jan 2010, frozenis wrote:

    As an Englishman living in the North of the Netherlands, I have frequently spoken to football-mad Dutchmen about the prowess of Ajax, PSV etc. Their league may perhaps be sixth rate, but their national team certainly isn't. If I am not correct, the Netherlands is ranked higher than England (despite its first-rate league) in the FIFa rankings and the last time we beat the Dutch may have been the 4-1 thrashing handed out at Euro 1996. Most of the Dutch footballers, who admittedly ply their trade in the supposedly better leagues abroad, are nurtured and thus noticed at their home clubs. So calling the Dutch league sixth-rate is perhaps nothing short of a slur on a country that enjoys a fine footballing tradition.

    Most football-mad Dutchmen have heard of Steve McLaren and despite my moaning of how bad an England manager we once was, McLaren has commanded nothing but respect and admiration from Dutch fans. Bobby Robson was a great manager, who took the helm at PSV Eindhoven after the disappointment of Italia 90. There, he won two the league two years in a row before leaving to seek pastures new. The Dutch experience helped him recover from England's World Cup failure, so no surprise why McLaren may have sought to follow suit. He may have have made mistakes, but by no means is he a bad manager. Perhaps it would be prudent to reserve judgement and see if Twente win the Eredivisie, and then to see how they fare in the Champions League. Only time will tell if a team from a "sixth-rate league" can cause an upset and dump out an English team; how sweet that would be for McLaren.

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  • 58. At 1:46pm on 19 Jan 2010, YaBoo wrote:

    Will someone tell me when McLaren was a good manager? At Boro he spent an absolute fortune and acheived little. A Carling Cup doesn't hide that, even if it was Boro's first trophy as i'm betting they've never spent that much before. He only finished in the top ten of the PL once (7th - 04/05).

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  • 59. At 1:55pm on 19 Jan 2010, shoogle wrote:

    Hello Phil,
    Given your recent article on the success of Twente Eschede, I'd be interested to hear what you feel the reasons are for the apparent breaking of the Ajax/PSV/Feyenoord monopoly in recent times.
    I'd also be rather curious as to whether these lessons might be applied to leagues in Scotland and Portugal, where similar problems exist. Or even the to the English Premiership, wherein we see a lesser manifestation of the same problem, with a predictable top four.
    Moreover, could any of this sort of thinking be of utility to Russian and Ukranian leagues, trying to establish their status as equal to the traditionally glamorous championships in Europe?

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  • 60. At 1:59pm on 19 Jan 2010, MasanBranch wrote:

    I take umbrage with you, Phil, and many others who claim that the Dutch league is inferior to the Frenc league. On what basis is the French league stronger than the Dutch league? How many European titles have French clubs won? Hmmmm. And how many have the Dutch clubs won? Portuguese and Belgian clubs have won more European titles than French clubs. Pathetic for being the so called fifth strongest league.

    Otherwise a good blog.

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  • 61. At 2:00pm on 19 Jan 2010, Mr George Banjo wrote:

    I give credit to McLaren

    He bounced back well and took a risk

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  • 62. At 2:05pm on 19 Jan 2010, bobbieflowers wrote:

    I don't give mclaren much credit for his achievements over in holland...if anything his success over there is a sad inditement of how poor their league must have become.

    I know several middlesbrough fans and i think everyone of them would rather pull their own teeth out than have him back as manager. How many other managers have so enraged the fans that someone felt it necessary to march right round the pitch and throw something he paid alot of money for at the moron who has caused him so much distress?

    The point some have made about him not being ready for a big job is not a theory I believe many big clubs will be trying...ever.

    Anyone who wants to argue for mclaren needs to remember...

    Croatia away...biggest game of his england career and far and away the hardest fixture of his qualifying group...and what does he do...puts england out in 3 5 2 - a formation they hadn't played since hoddle and one we never ever look comfortable in

    Croatia at home....second biggest game of his england and the second hardest game of the group...he plays a keeper who has never started an international game for his country

    contrast his tenure with england to capellos...capello immediately tackles the gerrard, lampard issue...plays a set formation, plays players in their best positions...and MOST important of all...has the respect of his players

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  • 63. At 2:16pm on 19 Jan 2010, Estesark wrote:

    McLaren for England!

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  • 64. At 2:22pm on 19 Jan 2010, harveyjohnny1967 wrote:

    'one of the world's leading football nations'.

    I assume that you are referring to the nation that hasn't seriously troubled the closing stages of a major competition for 20 years at least. The same nation whose domestic league is so distended with insane finance and unsutainable spending that it has virtually destroyed European football with its 'south sea bubble' game of chicken with television companies. The nation in which pretty much every one of the 'big four' are mired in debt? The nation whose media buffs it up as world champions before a ball is kicked at every World Cup, and who then usually get slapped around after a series of utterly forgettable performances?

    Is that the nation to which you are referring?

    Just checking

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  • 65. At 2:41pm on 19 Jan 2010, Artilleur wrote:

    Credit where credit is due. As I recall, he wasn't bad for Middlesborough either. I think he failed politically with England. The assertion that he played an untried keeper at international level is a load of rubbish. Premier league football is much tougher than international football.. It's Capello's grasp of the Lampard/Gerrard issue (amongst other things, the fact that he demands respect is another) that has won him the matches...

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  • 66. At 2:42pm on 19 Jan 2010, DutchParr wrote:

    McClaren has clearly made a very clever choice. The foundations at Twente were excellent when he stepped in, made by the chairman (Munsterman) and the previous manager, Fred Rutten, who is doing very well at PSV Eindhoven at the moment. He also had the guts to go abroad, something more English managers should consider.

    Some comments here are quite disappointing. The Dutch league is by no means poor, it has simply become a development league for top players. However, because of the growing influence of money in football, it is impossible to keep hold of your best players long enough to compete at the top level in Europe. However, PSV were 2 minutes away from the Champions League final a few seasons (under Hiddink) as were Ajax from the semi-finals a few seasons earlier (when they knocked out Arsenal in the second group stage). So success is possible, but more difficult to achieve because as a club it is impossible to keep hold of your best players.

    However, you do still the influence of the Dutch league around Europe. All big clubs have players which have either been trained by or developed at Dutch clubs. Just a short list here:
    - Barca: Maxwell, Ibrahimovic
    - Real Madrid: M Diarra, RvN, Drente, Van der Vaart
    - Inter: Chivu, Sneijder.
    - AC Milan: Seedorf, Huntelaar.
    - Juve: Grygera

    And then, of course, in England:
    - Arsenal: RvP, Vermaelen.
    - Man Utd: vdSar.
    - Chelsea: Alex, Kalou.
    - Liverpool: Babel, Kuyt.

    Not as good as Engeland, definately. A 6th rate league? Don't think so.

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  • 67. At 2:51pm on 19 Jan 2010, Ketakev wrote:

    Good on Mac for achieving what he is with Twente... but it doesn't cancel or make up in the sightest for the Euros...
    sure there is the fault of the players, but rather than their skill it was definitely their attitude and mental state. It seemed way too laissez-faire, just turn up to training, do something and leave for the match .. at international level you have to have a tight reign on the players especially considering the big egos..
    The culture shock when Capello came in was welcome and a long time coming. Strict control over who does what, when and no favouritism. I only wish he was here four years ago to take maximum advantage over this team..

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  • 68. At 2:51pm on 19 Jan 2010, Stevat wrote:

    You think Milner's best position is left back? Capello is quality, tactically astute and tough as nails. Players know they are ultimately expendable under Capello, if Gerrard hasn't been fully fit and isn't playing every week for Liverpool in the run in to the World Cup he won't go, and rightly so. We have players to cover each position.

    McClaren is tactically astute as well, a very knowledgeable football man, I would have him as our manager at Newcastle in a second. It amazes me how many people in England are unable to form their own opinions, and are entirely controlled by the tabloid press. He was appointed to that role, he tried to control the egos and failed - that isn't his fault. Hopefully he has learned from that and with more experience will be capable of handling the maniacal, egotistical spanners that seem to think the world revolves around them.

    All the best to him, he made a couple of mistakes when in charge, but for me the blame for missing out on Euro 2008 lies entirely with the players. I don't understand the mentality of some people in castigating a man for trying his best at the time. He will no doubt continue to prove himself a good manager and hopefully get a chance on a higher plain soon.

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  • 69. At 2:54pm on 19 Jan 2010, Roondog wrote:

    Good Blog!

    Firstly I'd agree that given FC Twente's background he has done a good job there. Sadly I have to agree with the majority of people who comment above. If you can remember rightly England were a 1st seed team, In a pot above, Italy, Germany, Spain and Croatia. During qualifying we lost games to Croatia twice, Russia and drew games to both Israel and Macedonia! Which to be quite frank was appauling. He was definately not good enough for the England job and personally Big Sam would have got the nod in front of him.

    What I would like to say to Simon is that sadly, the Dutch league is 6th rate in Europe. You only need to look at the quality players in their national side and to look at how many of them actually play in the Dutch league to see the standard in Holland is no where near that of England, Spain, Italy, Germany or France. Having played there myself on a number of occasions i can vouch that the facilities and grounds Dutch teams have are immaculate, however, their football does not reflect this, their game is much slower. I have been to see Barnsley F.C a few times this season (a mediocre Championship side) and when i watched Feyenoord vs NAC last season i can safely say the Dutch Premier teams are about the equivilant of lower end Championship sides. Maybe McClaren would do well at Plymouth or Peterborough who are struggling this season!!!

    With regards to other comments, I think if anyone can enable England to win things i think its Fabio. Rooney, Gerrard and a fit Rio (England's spine) would walk into any international team!

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  • 70. At 2:55pm on 19 Jan 2010, Ketakev wrote:

    64. At 2:22pm on 19 Jan 2010, harveyjohnny1967 wrote:

    " The nation in which pretty much every one of the 'big four' are mired in debt? "

    Sorry... Arsenal run on a slight profit, chelsea have pretty much paid off their debt, as have man city... and ManUres debt is solely due to the new owners who have used the club as a loan rather than as an investment, where even the profits from signing can't be used, not to mention they fill a 70000 stadium every home match in three competitions ??

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  • 71. At 2:57pm on 19 Jan 2010, Demoremda_AJAX wrote:

    i doubted wether mclaren could train a continental club, but he s proved me wrong, hes doing very well at twente, ok he did get a team from ex coach rutten that was allready well balanced, but hes made the right transfers and makes his team play tight, and from what i can see in interviews he s a gentleman aswell, respect to him
    ssstt i kinda like that the dutch league is seen as weak, keeps our starplayers hopefully playing a bit longer for our teams

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  • 72. At 3:03pm on 19 Jan 2010, Ketakev wrote:

    68. "he tried to control the egos and failed - that isn't his fault." .. If the relaxed attitude off the pitch was his way to control the egos, then yes, yes it is his fault. If that was him trying... he's not good at doing that job.
    There are plenty of managers that are capable of dealing with big egos ... and even as an arsenal fan I can see that Wenger isn't that great... soon as one challenges, they're out, but his overall system is in place that there is a replacement within the next season ... whether he could control an international team ? Only if his reputation can control it, I don't think he would command a team that has limited players zhich he can't just let go / kick out.. Ancellotti, Capello, and Ferg seemed to have proven they can, and that coupled with tactics is what makes a great manager.

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  • 73. At 3:06pm on 19 Jan 2010, Roondog wrote:

    . . . . . . Further to my comment . . . He also ruined David Beckham's career! How anyone can pick Downing, Wright-Phillips, Bentley or Young infront of arguably the best passer of the ball in the world completely bemuses me!!!

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  • 74. At 3:12pm on 19 Jan 2010, collie21 wrote:

    It's beyond how you lot think it's human to treat your national manager the way you do and you always treat the players like gods. They were lazy good for nothing over paid primdonna's and yes the manager should have dealt with it, but the abuse he got was unreal. I blame the players on the field every time.

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  • 75. At 3:24pm on 19 Jan 2010, Aarfy_Aardvark - bring back 606 wrote:

    I bet most Middlesbrough fans would like to have him bacK!!!!!


    Well yes and no. He probably should never have taken the England job but then again he probably should have, seeing as we were on the slide and it gave him a chance to start afresh somewhere else.

    He did well for us but some of his achievements at the club masquerade some of the abhorrent low periods during his tenure (blowing a 4-1 lead in the final two minutes at Carrow Road, the 7-0 pasting at Highbury etc.) Yes we won the Carling Cup (thanks to two penalty shoot-outs, playing Arsenal reserves and a last minute goal in extra-time against Brighton in the first round.) Plus we also reached the UEFA Cup final (again thanks to losing the first legs pretty comprehensively and the second legs for pretty much two thirds of the games.) Plus he go us to our best ever finish off 7th in the Premiership, again thanks to Robbie Fowler missing a penalty in injury-time on the last game of the season. And of course there is his final match in charge… Curiously some of the dourest games we played under him have ended up in high scoring matches (I think a 5-2 defeat against then winless away from home Aston Villa after clawing it back from 2-0 and an equally pathetic showing against Leicester, again coming back from 2-0 down.) There seems to be this false resonance whenever I think of McClaren at the Boro. Who knows, if the cards had been played differently he might still be managing us in the Championship and this conversation would be moot as we'd all be moaning about England not being in South Africa.

    I still hold McClaren in very high regard, as I doubt we will achieve those giddy highs again (I remember those seasons when we hardly lost at the Riverside) but a lot of his success portrayed to those outside of the club was slightly precarious when you consider the intense luck and a hell of a lot of patience he had from us fans (especially in the first two seasons.) In many ways, I think he has taken on a similar Middlesbrough project in Holland although without the massive gap in ability between top and bottom and without the intense pressure of coaching a club with a rich history of winning things. I think it's a good level for him.

    I still think he has a lot to learn as a manager though, which is why I think we bounced so high and fell so low when he was manager at the club but hopefully he will learn the curbs whilst at Twente and whilst managing in the Eredivise. It looks like he is doing that right now. Oddly, I think the England job seems to have humbled him and certainly give him some new perspectives and experiences which he is now using so well in Holland.

    I would probably want him back at my club though. Not because of these years of 'success' we had under him but because I think he would be a better all-round manager than we had before. Same level of success but less of the negatives which caused so much polarisation of opinion between the Boro fans during his years in charge.

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  • 76. At 3:25pm on 19 Jan 2010, ihatetabloids wrote:

    As another Englishman living in Holland, I have to say Steve was very clever in chosing to come here for the next stage in his career. Despite the horror show he had with England, the guy does know how to coach a football team.

    Saying this, he is hardly the reason behind twente's ascension. As others have said, they have a smart chairman and relative to many of the other eredivisie clubs, available financial resources. The owner of AZ and the bank behind them was declared bankrupt last year, throwing their continuing rise into serious trouble.

    Mclaren has organised the team well and made some smart signings, but, in general terms has very little competition at the top of the table.
    I've got a season ticket at NAC Breda, unfashionable southern club who've enjoyed modest success in the last few years.

    They made the Europa league playoffs, just missing out on the group stages after losing to Villa Real (heavily), and have finished in the top three here recently. However, despite enjoying Dutch football and supporting Holland whenever they aren't playing England, I have to say that the standard of the league here isnt good. Outisde of Ajax, PSV, and an improving Feyenoord, Mclaren's well organised lot have got no competition. Many of the teams that come to NAC, including the (probably unheard of) likes of Roda, Willem II and NEC would get a hiding from most championship sides.

    The Dutch league really is way behind the premiership, la liga and serie A. The Euro results from earlier in the season prove it. The Bundesliga is also superior although Im not sure about France. Over the course of a season, very few players have stood out on my visits to NAC - PSV's Affelay was comfortably the most impressive that I saw in action. He's a full Dutch international and undoubtedly destined to be shipped out if he continues to play well. Wenger was purportedly interested but perhpas doubted if he was robust enough for the premiership. The general standard is such that Ex prem players like van Bronckhorst, Tommasson, Ooijer etc seem to be far and away the most composed players in a side.

    This should however not be taken as a slur against Dutch football. The reason the sides here are unable to mount a comparable challenge to other european teams is that the young talent gets stripped out and sent abroad to generate revenue. There's relatively very little TV money and the quality of player development here is excellent. The 'jong oranje' (Dutch u21) were Euro champs not long ago. If young talented players could stay in Holland, you soon see Ajax winning a Champions League again. If FIFA bring in player nationality restrictions to european ties, it won't be Holland that struggles. However, to say that Mclaren's success here puts him right back up there is incorrect.

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  • 77. At 3:35pm on 19 Jan 2010, Ketakev wrote:

    @ 74. At 3:12pm on 19 Jan 2010, collie21 wrote:

    "I blame the players on the field every time."

    I'm sorry but MacLaren outranks the players on the pitch.. next is the captain and then the rest of the players. That's the responsibility of being the leader.. When things are good, you praise everybody... when everything goes wrong and the targets are not being met... its your ass on the line. Just how it is... also before people start pitying him for the absolutely incompetant job he did, let's not foget the extremely tidy sum he got for failing.
    .... what a nice bonus for such a right banker.

    Rant over.

    Good luck to him when he's not managing England.

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  • 78. At 3:38pm on 19 Jan 2010, CJE wrote:

    #30 "Twente is a young club - only formed in 1965"

    The article says they won the league in 1926 - might be a different name but still same club....

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  • 79. At 3:47pm on 19 Jan 2010, Stevat wrote:

    Ketakev, it wasn't his fault if he was incapable of controlling egos, he didn't appoint himself. If someone gives me money to work on your car and I have no idea what I am doing, is it my fault or the fault of the person who tried to get someone under-qualified to do the job?

    He tried his friends of the players approach for England, but oddly I think his managing abroad has made him a better manager. He can't communicate with the players as easily in their own language and is so isolated in a way and more capable of making objective decisions. Tactically I don't think anyone can question his credentials, he's worked in the game for years under some of the best people going. If he can marry that with sterner man management skills then he could go far, maybe even into international management again.

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  • 80. At 3:49pm on 19 Jan 2010, Aarfy_Aardvark - bring back 606 wrote:

    What I would like to say to Simon is that sadly, the Dutch league is 6th rate in Europe. You only need to look at the quality players in their national side and to look at how many of them actually play in the Dutch league to see the standard in Holland is no where near that of England, Spain, Italy, Germany or France.


    Still doesn't really explain why players like van Bommel, Schneider, Van der Vaart, Van Nistelrooy, Huntelaar etc stuck around in the league long enough before making the move to one of the bigger European leagues. If it was indeed Championship standard as you so rightly say, they would have moved away when they were teenagers not when they were reaching 23 or 24.

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  • 81. At 3:52pm on 19 Jan 2010, DeGuzman wrote:

    I rate McClaren as a good manager. Think he did very well at Boro. His period for England certainly wasn't flawless. For exapmle the away match v Croatia was a tactical disaster. But I think he also suffered from the over-inflated ego's of his own players & the media-hype against him.

    By the way van Gaal is rated a very good manager throughout the world, but he also didn't deliver with arguably the best Dutch team ever. He made far more serious errors than McClaren, for example when 0-2 ahead v Portugal away he threw on a 4th striker, because 'we were so close to scoring a 3rd'. So one shouldn't judge a manager on a single job.

    On McClaren at Twente. First of all his choice of club was a very good one. The previous manager Rutten created a very good team, which he inherited & the club is very well managed (in general). When Steve started he made the very wise decision to change as little as possible (countless managers would have tried to make the team play their way). So far he has proven to be a great motivator / people manager & he got the results. What helped him a little bit is that they hardly had any serious injuries to key players. On the signings during his period in charge, I'm not sure if they're 100% McClaren's or that the club's very good own scouts had a say in that too.

    Whichever EPL club signs him in the future will have made a very good decision.

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  • 82. At 3:54pm on 19 Jan 2010, DutchParr wrote:

    @ 69:

    "Dutch Premier teams are the equivalent of the lower end Championship sides."

    I strongly disagree with that. Firstly, there are some good teams. Twente, AZ, Ajax and especially PSV have proven in European matches that they are propably on par/or slightly better than teams as Aston Villa, Everton or Spurs.

    Secondly, Feyenoord last season, was probably the worst Feyenoord-team ever. They were mid-table all season and even failed to make "the left half" (top 9) which you gives a European play-offs place. Also to judge a league on just one game is wrong, how would the PL be judged after some matches from the last weekend (Stoke-Liverpool and Villa-West Ham spring to mind).

    Also, the tempo, as you mention, is much lower. However, this is compensated by other qualities, like some individual or passing skills, which makes the Dutch league quite fun to follow.

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  • 83. At 3:55pm on 19 Jan 2010, Rolf McHarris wrote:

    Plenty of opportunities in Europe for ALL of the following:-

    i. Mangers
    ii. Coaches
    iii. Players
    iv. Even fans!!! Houses cost less (as does booze!) and plumbers are plumbers are plumbers all over the EU.

    If only the likes of the Daily Mail would stop ridiculing British membership of the EU and accept that we are - in every sense - a part of Europe, much more could be made of it!

    Good luck to McLaren - be nice to see more Brits making the footballing-step across the channel!

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  • 84. At 3:57pm on 19 Jan 2010, DutchParr wrote:

    @ 80: Good point there. I already mentioned earlier that all the top teams in Europe have players with a lot of history in the Dutch league. Can't say that about to many former-Championship players.

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  • 85. At 4:04pm on 19 Jan 2010, diamondronaldinho wrote:

    Actually McLaren is coaching a much better team in Twente than that of the English National Team. If a player does play good in all the leagues and with different clubs he is a great player doesnt matter if the team has to be great, similiar to coaches, he is been a good coach all along the line, It was the not so good English team that let him down, Even under SAF the English team will fail...SO BE IT

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  • 86. At 4:07pm on 19 Jan 2010, der verlorene Sohn wrote:

    I agree that McLaren should get a shot at managing in the Premiership again simply because he wasn't awful at Boro (nor was he particularly good). Also, his time as England manager but more importantly as FC Twente manager would have undoubtedly matured him and given him vital experience - key for any manager.

    But this article almost sounds like it was written by a member of McLaren's PR team!

    The Dutch league isn't even arguably the sixth best league in Europe: According to the UEFA League Rankings it is ranked ninth this year but will be eighth next year.

    It is also a bit of an overstatement to suggest that he alone has revitalised the club. McLaren joined a team that had qualified for the Champions League (albeit through the play-offs); prior to his arrival they had finished fourth in two consecutive seasons. This of course isn't amazing, but it's hardly underperforming.

    But as you rightly point out, not only has he sustained that level during his tenure but he appears to have taken them up a level - providing we assume that the quality of the opposition has remained the same.

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  • 87. At 4:14pm on 19 Jan 2010, Ketakev wrote:

    @ 79. At 3:47pm on 19 Jan 2010, Stevat wrote:

    If someone gives me money to work on your car and I have no idea what I am doing, is it my fault or the fault of the person who tried to get someone under-qualified to do the job?

    ... The FA did screw up RE: Appointing Svens replacement, which as I remember was quite muddled, even alienating good replacements, Big Phil for example.. and eventually the blame does fall to them, but given the opacity of the dealings and what really went wrong, I'm sorry but there's a lot you can throw at McClaren.
    Whether you can blame him for taking the post given that it was offered to him... I cant think of a logical reason to blame him at the moment.. if they offered it to me.. I think I'd take it together with the inevitable flak that would follow given my vast footbal managerial background ranges from Premier League 2 -> PES6 season mode.. (even though my trophy cabinet is bulging, I dont think there's the don't save-restart option in real life for crucial games)...

    OK.. I will accept he was given an opportunity he couldn't realistically refuse. The only thing I would hold against him is if he pût himself forward for the job... but I can find no evidence for that.
    His tactical ability is very good, it's just he lacks that leader's spark and drive.. with big players, he makes a good deputy, youè would have hoped he would have learned something in that area from SAF though...

    I just cringe every time I remember that tournament...

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  • 88. At 4:15pm on 19 Jan 2010, Roondog wrote:

    #80 & #82

    The match that i watched represented the quality that of a poor championship game. So my opinion is based on that. I agree that the top 4 teams would be an exception but read the comment of #76.

    I would agree that top teams like PSV and Ajax are on a par with the likes of Villa and Spurs, the rest of the league is Champoinship standard.

    What i will add is that McClaren connot silence criticts by doing well with a flush Dutch team who were already on the up

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  • 89. At 4:29pm on 19 Jan 2010, BCOXFORD wrote:

    Apart from looking at the Twente goalscoring charts, what research have you put into this article? Any football fan could have written this.

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  • 90. At 4:30pm on 19 Jan 2010, bannedgunner wrote:

    Talk about a nation collectively masking their humiliation by hanging on man; and in denial that their team was just overrated! Poor Mclearan. Reality will hit the English fans and pundit hard and quick in WC.

    You realize you topped a group where your main threat was from Ukraine!
    No not the Ukraine that reached the QF of WC; but the old and worn out Ukraine that finished 4th behind those two "has beens" France and Italy, and Scotland. This Croatia team is older and weaker version that knocked out England in 2008. Other than Rooney, Cole, and Defoe England are weaker in every other position then they were in 2006. Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham, Terry, and Rio are older and were better shape in 2006. Owen Hargreaves was better than any of his current replacement. Keeper position has not necessarily improved. Johnson at right back is a mixed blessing.
    Only imporved area and players are Roony provided he stays fit, if selected Defoe, and A. Cole. The remaining position with Wallcot, Lennon, SWP is a toss up as far as whether it will be an improvement over 2006.
    So by my reckoning, England are weaker in 6 positions, stronger in 3, and uncertain in 2 positions. Despite of gushing over Capelo, he has shown to fail and fail badly in his stunts when he didn't have team of all stars.

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  • 91. At 4:37pm on 19 Jan 2010, TerryFBH wrote:

    Really pleased for him.
    But the problem with McLaren is that the footy was on most occassions dull. Effective but dull. And like that for a long time. And, regardless of that, yeah I wish we had him now!!! Dull or not!!!

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  • 92. At 4:37pm on 19 Jan 2010, Noctis wrote:

    Mclaren showed his tactical astuteness during the 3-0 win against Russia and was very unfortunate not to qualify for the Championships. Mistakes from Paul Robinson and Scott Carson cost England the chance of qualifying in two crucial games against Croatia. David James should have been chosen above both Paul Robinson and Scott Carson as their consequent success showed. With Scott Carson playing in the Championship and PAul Robinson sold by Tottenham to a struggling Blackburn with neither being close to Capello's first choice goalkeeper.

    Mclaren is one of the more talented coaches to come out of England and should have been given another term as manager of the national side.

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  • 93. At 4:42pm on 19 Jan 2010, ab wrote:

    McLaren is a muppet and only good for a pub team

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  • 94. At 4:56pm on 19 Jan 2010, Telling It As It Is wrote:

    to PidgeGULL. Regarding the Brazil part, having lived there for 5 years I've seen first hand that football in Brazil is not just a sport, it is part of the culture. Yeah, there is strength in depth, but, even if the team wins but doesn't play stylishly then the country is calling for the coach's head, the President even get involves. There are 191 million Brazilians vying to be footballers, no wonder they're the best! Pressure in Brazil is much worse than in England, Brazil's coach has the whole world looking at him, in England it is just the English supporters.

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  • 95. At 5:07pm on 19 Jan 2010, Paul wrote:

    I say let him stay there we don't want him back. SM didn't deserve the England job in the first place the F.A just wanted a yes man. I still have trouble believing they pick that over Martin O'Neill. You should be ashamed of your self by trying to convince us all he should be allowed back here, sorry Phil I think you may have gone barking.

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  • 96. At 5:17pm on 19 Jan 2010, kingbigdave wrote:

    Yes - good article. I think it just shows the difference between the Premier League and the Eridivisie. The pressure to succeed in England is enormous and this is where McClaren falls down and makes mistakes. He would make a good Championship or First Division manager but not the Premier League.

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  • 97. At 5:24pm on 19 Jan 2010, wednesdaymorgs wrote:

    Nice to read something positive about McLaren. He gets a lot of undeserved flack. Yes we failed to qualify for the Euros but people understimate the difficulty that was our group. Russia and Croatia were tough nuts to crack which involved two very difficult away games - Moscow in sub zero temperatures has caused many a team difficulties and Croatia's home record at the time was second to none (I believe they hadn't lost a game since 1991 or something incredible which included playing the likes of Brazil). To put it in perspective, FIFA Rankings ranked France and Argentina lower than these two nations and losing on their patches or theoretically failing to qualify from a group involving those two in a World Cup wouldn't cause nearly as much commotion. The fact remains when it comes to international football, the average football fan knows very little and Steve McLaren was lambasted for failing to qualify at the expense of these so-called 'minor' footballing nations. Looking back it's easy to pinpoint to the fact Capello took England to Croatia and thrashed them. However, this is a naive argument as Croatia are nowhere near the team they were. Moreover, McLaren often gets stick for his decision to play 3-5-2 and this is often cited as being one of the reasons why England have to play 4-4-2. Firstly, with the likes of Rio, JT and Carragher at his disposal, you can't blame him for opting to find a formation which would include three of the best centre backs in the world at the time. Secondly, this argument again shows naivety as we probably would have lost with a 4-4-2. England's reluctance to try out alternative formations and ultimately what amounts to a plan B, is going to be the undoing of yet another manager when England fail to impress this summer. Capello will be given more time no doubt about it due to his so-called prestigious name, but I am confident in saying that until this current 'golden' generation (comparisons with the Portugal team of the 90s can easily be made) make way for the next batch, we are only going to be left disappointed when it comes to the international stage.

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  • 98. At 5:56pm on 19 Jan 2010, Magic_Arsenal_thefinalcountdown wrote:

    remember that alves guy who played for boro? yea the one who wouldn't make it into liverpool's striker force right now. yea he'd scored 7 goals in one game in the dutch league.

    nuff said?

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  • 99. At 6:01pm on 19 Jan 2010, packersftw wrote:

    Ultimately, people in this country will never like McLaren. It''ll take an incredibly brave Prem chairman to hire him.

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  • 100. At 6:39pm on 19 Jan 2010, Peter D wrote:

    The difference between club and international management are manifold, at club level a manager has the world to choose from, need a technically talented dribbler, there are many Africans, South Americans and Europeans, as manager of England, well there is Joe Cole and that is about it.
    Need a goalkeeper who can catch the ball, well there are umpteen from around the world, we had Robinson, Kirkland and James, though Robert Green or Ben Foster were slightly better alternatives.
    The trick for International managers is to work with what you got (think Greece Euro 2004)and McClaren was unable to mold them. Roy Hodgson of Fulham seems to be able to do that, but he always acknowledges that it is the challenge (note he rarely goes into the transfer market, but works with what he's got), and that comes from managing International teams, such as Switzerland.

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  • 101. At 8:04pm on 19 Jan 2010, john wrote:

    It is very interesting to see how well he is doing. It is also worth noting that this comes at at period when Dutch league football is in a cycle of decline - they are still producing great players, but the likes of Ajax and PSV are certainly not what they used to be.

    Persnally, I always felt the england job was a job too soon for Mclaren and I hope that he continues in the role and can finish the job there. Unfortunately, knowing the english press, he will start to be linked to jobs again shortly. But it will be much better for him to stay there at Twente add some success to his CV.

    Its also worth poitning out that for all the 'success' of the english league, there are very few englishman plying their trades overseas and even fewer with success. Many players often go out to places only to return after six months (one wonders where Jermaine Pennant will be come February the 1st?). The attitude and success he is applying is clearly being appreciated and he should be applauded for that back in England.

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  • 102. At 8:24pm on 19 Jan 2010, Albert Heijn wrote:

    No right minded person would compare the Premiership to Eredivisie. The TV deal with SKY is giving English league football a financial cushion. Then you have the population of England and the Netherlands to consider. For every Dutchman there a four Englishmen. Most players in Eredivisie are Dutch, yes there are foriegners but they are the minority.
    I find the league just as entertaining as the premiership. No hoof-ball teams and clubs like Ajax and Feyenoord often end up with a bloody nose. Good young players, playing the game the right way and trying to entertain the public. It's not about knocking the ball 50 yards, long throws or greyhound like speed merchants who can't pass a football.
    I was never a fan of McClaren but he's doing a fine job in Enschede, for that I give him respect. He will leave for a bigger club eventually but not necessarily the premiership. Twente are probably on par with a mid table premiership team and that's not easy without a SKY handout.

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  • 103. At 9:06pm on 19 Jan 2010, neeskensreturns wrote:

    The people who belittle the Dutch league are hopefully aware that the standard of Dutch football managers is unquestionable, as is the quality of management, tactical intelligence and youth development in the Netherlands. Dutch football managers are wanted everywhere. Can we say the same about English football managers? The premiership itself prefers Dutch managers to the English or so it seems. In the Netherlands by contrast, there are only a couple of foreign managers, and the Dutch national team wouldn't dream of getting a foreign coach in. Even Robson was looked down on and generally foreign managers are ridiculed. So no matter what you think of the Dutch league, at least concede that it takes a lot for a foreign manager to get respect from the Dutch football community full stop. For that alone McClaren deserves your respect and maybe you can even try to feel a bit proud of him. We've forgiven Van Gaal. Maybe you can do the same with McClaren.

    By the way, I'll point out to the shedload of premiership scouts who visit every Twente game how rubbish the Dutch league is. It seems they're not aware of it.

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  • 104. At 9:42pm on 19 Jan 2010, In Off The Ghost wrote:

    I think it will help McCLaren to improve as a manager and serve to put a bit of distance (both metaphorically and literally) between him and England.

    He clearly needed it because 'McClaren' had become an umbrella term for failure, tactical incompetence and an inability to cope with a bit of rain.

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  • 105. At 9:59pm on 19 Jan 2010, nick wrote:

    93. At 4:42pm on 19 Jan 2010, ab wrote:

    McLaren is a muppet and only good for a pub team


    Firstly, such comments show a lack of depth. Some people only choose to remember the disappointment at missing out on Euro 2008.

    Yes, McLaren had to take the fall for that.. but even at the time I placed my blame elsewhere.

    The blame for Euro 2008 I place with the English FA. Afterall, his CV was far too short for him to acquire the job in the first place. His role as an Assistant, with England and Man United was impressive. Standing on his own, he had only managed Middlesbrough.
    Since when had taking over at Middlesbrough - which at the time were a lower-mid table team - and maintaining there position in the league for five years been enough to acquire the National position?
    Yes, he did great to win the Carling Cup in 2004, and he did a solid enough job, but still that's just 5 years in charge or a top flight team, and a Carling Cup. Hardly enough to acquire the England Hotseat.

    That said, I'm sure a lot these people who claim they could have guided England to Euro 2008 - those sounding the phrase "I could have done better!" - would not turn down the England job if it was offered, so why would Steve?

    It wasn't his fault for talking the job and falling short. It was the FA's fault for giving it him 20 years before his time.

    I was still located in England during his time at Middlesbrough, and I highly rated him. I expected him to work his way up the clubs, towards taking over at Liverpool, or Man United - one of the big guns - when he was ready.. and I had him pinned for the England Job closer to him being 60, or 65.

    Alas it didn't work out that way.

    What I couldn't see happening back then, was him moving to the Netherlands - or me moving here either. But, alas.. for very different reasons we both found ourselves moving across the North Sea around the same time. Thus I have followed his progress at Twente Enschede.

    At first I thought, and often said that it was a bad move by Twente. As the style of football they played before his arrival was not close to the style of play that I was used to with McLaren, and of course I was remembering his England years more than his years with Middlesbrough.

    However it seems he learnt a hell of a lot as Sir Alex's second, as the style of play he has Twente playing reminds me a lot of the Manchester United team of the mid to late 90's. He has them playing very different football to what he has his Middlesbrough side playing, and he is enjoying it, and he is learning a lot.

    They can pass and cross, they play with width - but they can also adapt. When they come across another team that uses it width, they will mix it up, and beat them in the center of the park instead. They are fluid, and are currently the best team in the League, and by some distance too.

    I truly hope he can win the Eredivisie this year, and I hope after a few more jobs around Europe he'll be able to arrive back in management in England with open arms.

    I can tell he has learnt a lot over the last decade, and I hope he can learn twice as much over the next ten years... maybe sometime around his 60th or 65th Birthday he'll once again be offered the England job - at the age and the time in his career that he was always going to be ready for it.

    He has re-captured the opinion I had of him before he took the England job, I hope he can go on working up the ladder across Europe, and we'll see if he gets a shot at the England job again - once he has actually proven he is good enough.

    Having potential for being a great manager is never enough for the national job - one's potential has to develop and be delivered on first.

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  • 106. At 10:31pm on 19 Jan 2010, Anthony Doolan wrote:

    I think Steve McLarens appointment in the first place was a strange one. Despite his experience as number two at a number of clubs including Man Utd, he had only being a manager at Middlesboro. There is a big differnce between being the manager and assistant manager.

    On top of this he enjoyed relatively little successs with Middlesboro. I don't think that a couple of top ten finishes and a League Cup counts as success. Managing at international level requires years of experience, particularly experience of winning titles. You only need to look at how well Fabio Capello has done or how close Trapatoni came to leading Ireland to the World Cup with a relatively poor squad. (In fact now that I think of it there are alot of similarites with the appointment of the previous Irish incumbent, Steve Staunton, and Steve McLaren)

    Overall McLaren was fast tracked into the job too soon and he and the England team paid the price.

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  • 107. At 10:45pm on 19 Jan 2010, chickencurry wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 108. At 10:50pm on 19 Jan 2010, chickencurry wrote:

    Can't really see why my previous post was not put up....didn't contain an bad language or was not offensive......guess i'm not allowed to form an opinion that doesn't support 'the mighty england' winning the world cup?

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  • 109. At 11:23pm on 19 Jan 2010, GinstersParadise wrote:

    It's nice, but worryingly similar to this article..

    even the picture is the same!!

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  • 110. At 11:34pm on 19 Jan 2010, The-pen-is-mightier wrote:

    I have to disagree with the "in a league that is arguably only the sixth most prestigious or powerful in Europe" comment.

    What would that be based upon Are we talking about progress in European club competitions over the last X years? Perhaps I have fallen into an inadvertent coma, but Dutch teams have been anonymous in Europe for a good number of years now. The last time a Dutch team won a major European tournament was in 2002 when Feyenoord won the UEFA cup. No appearances in major finals since then. Portugal have gotten to 3 finals (and won 2) since then. If we want to become silly then even Scotland have made 2 since then!

    I don't dispute the comments about Dutch technical ability (the national team examples). I'm less struck on the "Dutch managers are sought after" comment (there's more Scottish managers in the EPL). I'm even less impressed by the Dutch players trotted out - I believe all of those players play outside Holland.

    PS - well done Steve, stick it to the haters!

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  • 111. At 11:40pm on 19 Jan 2010, goldenbales wrote:

    I think Mclaren was too immature in his england career and was too easily led by the fa star players and succumbing to the pressures of media. The current way football is an england manager has to have a stern hand and I dont think he could command that key respect to do things his way.

    Being out of the limelight in a club where expectations are moderate was the perfect thing for him to do and he's proving it.

    I wouldnt be surprised if Mclaren becomes a top manager managing some big teams and winning some trophies in his career, england came to early for him but a lot changes in a decade and he certainly has the ability to climb his way up

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  • 112. At 11:46pm on 19 Jan 2010, tractors-r-us wrote:

    Just have a look at this link

    We had just won our fourth successive Euro 2008 qualifier 3-0 and were about to inflict the same scoreline on Estonia. The team was buzzing.

    Was it McLaren's fault that Steven Gerrard missed a sitter that would have put us 2-0 up in Russia and sealed our qualification? Unfortunately, we reverted to type in that match, trying to defend a 1-0 lead for an hour and having Wayne Rooney concede a penalty, but we should have put this match to bed before then.

    Of course, the media had it in for him, and then he gave them the ammunition by picking Scott Carson against Croatia. Presumably he thought that Croatia, having already qualified, would just turn up and roll over, but that wasn't to be the case. With Sol Campbell in defence for us and Nico Kranjcar up front for Croatia, the sensible choice would have been David James, who played his club football with both of them and might have known about Kranjcar's shooting, but he decided to give Carson some big-match experience and both of them have never lived down that match.

    History is being absurdly unfair to McLaren, a talented coach whose time will come again - and may already be.

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  • 113. At 01:33am on 20 Jan 2010, rufc_dean wrote:

    Mclaren was hugely succsesful at boro...winning them the league cup i think? and getting to the uefa cup final...losing to a fantastic sevilla side..then came the england job..we didnt make it to the euros...but take a look at the sides who we had to take on....russia....semi-finalists,destroying holland and losing to eventual winners spain and crotia...outclassed germany in the groupstages and then lost on penalties in the quarters....we had no right to automatically assume we should qualify in that group at all..the team as a whole didnt work hard enough and thats why we didnt get through...obviosuly all the blame goes to the coach and the media baloons it all up and turns a nation against a coach...hell be back.....

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  • 114. At 01:46am on 20 Jan 2010, nick wrote:

    @ 110 stramash_city:

    You make some good and bad points towards the state of the Dutch league, though I assure you that the league is of a much hugher standard then the Scottish league.
    We all know that there are only two teams in that league, and the fact those two have got further in Europe means nothing, two teams don't make a league.

    We all held the English league as the third best in Europe through the 90's, and we didn't make a single final in the Champions League or Uefa Cup until 1999. Beacuse we based our opinion on our league, rather than our teams progression in Europe.

    Which is the same reason many people still hold the Spannish League in higher regard than the EPL, even though the English clubs have dominated the Champions league for the last five years.

    The sumit Dutch League matches the stanard of the English clubs playing for Europa League spots in the PL, and the Dutch clubs don't consume anywhere near the level of cash of our English clubs.

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  • 115. At 07:20am on 20 Jan 2010, Phil wrote:

    Ridiculous! He's the worst manager England have ever had, and that's saying something!

    Blimey, just because he's having a brief period of luck in Holland suddenly the BBC think he's the worlds best again!

    Anyone who's seen the clip of him speaking in a Dutch accent willhave a pretty good idea of his IQ.

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  • 116. At 08:19am on 20 Jan 2010, FLETCH_DUBAI wrote:

    If Steve McLaren wasn’t English do you still think he would have got the job of England manager?

    Seems like a decent chap but frankly I’d much rather have the current Italian manager who knows what he’s doing and gets more out of the players.

    With pretty much the same set of players, compare the two performances against Croatia under McLaren (0-2 and 2-3 defeats) and the two in the very next qualifying campaign under Capello – 4-1 and 5-1 wins.

    Why can’t we just admit that while there are some decent English players out there, we just don’t make very good managers? The reverse appears to be the case in Scotland.

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  • 117. At 08:54am on 20 Jan 2010, halfbear wrote:

    I think Ginger needs to get rid of that chip on his shoulder - how can one person be so angry at one man? It's people like you that give the English a bad name..

    so we missed out on a tournament... so what? We have come back stronger for the next one, these things happen and it's part of football!!

    Since when has sacking people been the solution to anything anyway? Stick with a manager, be loyal

    I am so pleased he is back in club management and doing well again - good on you SMcC!

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  • 118. At 09:23am on 20 Jan 2010, EatSleepCantona wrote:

    Steve McClaren is a top coach.

    Does anyone remember that he had Boro in a Uefa Cup Final? Do they remember the League Cup win? I am astounded at the sheer disregard for the qualitites that he displayed to be able to manage a mediocre Boro side to such success. Boro fans need to remember where they were when Steve was in charge and where they have ended up since!

    England fans need to stop looking for a scapegoat for failure to qualify for a major tournament. The players were to blame, not the coach. All the England players loved him when he was assistant to Sven, it's just a pity that they are all overpaid and didn't try very hard to beat an overated Croatia Side with a couple of Good players. Lets hope they respect Cappello enough to try and get out of the Group Stage in South Africa or we'll be having the same conversation about how Fabio ruined the chances of England Winning the World Cup.

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  • 119. At 09:41am on 20 Jan 2010, clr_fox wrote:

    I said it when Steve McClaren was England manager and this has not changed.

    He is a pretty good club manager. Long term (2 examples: Man. Utd. and Middlesbrough) was obviously his thing. Having players short term was never going to work for him hence his awful England stint.

    Stick to club management Steve...

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  • 120. At 11:13am on 20 Jan 2010, GinstersParadise wrote:

    Moderators please can you sort my previous post? (no. 109) ta

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  • 121. At 11:27am on 20 Jan 2010, FC Amsterdam wrote:

    Good blog, Steve McClaren is pulling off a very decent job in Holland at the moment, and is rightly so earning respect for that. Although FC Twente were already very much on the way up at the moment he stepped in, he has been able to continue that progressing line, despite losing seemingly invaluable players (Elia, Arnautovic) at times to bigger clubs. But for the better picture, current PSV manager Fred Rutten coached them already to the 3rd place in the league before the summer McClaren stepped in, and last seasons' Cup final wasn't exactly their first in the past decade. But instead of the much expected decline after Rutten's departure, McClaren has been able to continue making progress with Twente, for which the chairman/club management deserve as much credit as the coach. Obviously, McClaren knew very well where he was stepping in. And even though the Dutch league isn't in its very prime, if he manages to keep up Twente's current unbeaten run up till the end, that would be a big big performance. And his away win at Fenerbahce in the Europa League is probably the best demonstration of the quality of the job his doing at Twente. Not particularly the easiest of games, Fenerbahce away.

    Of course an unsuccessful nations manager isn't necessarily a bad club manager. Just look at Louis van Gaal. Coached Ajax (which of course is still Holland's pride) in the nineties to pretty much every possible trophy, incl CL. Coached Barca to two league titles and CL semis, however failed to qualify with Holland for the World Cup in 2002, with a squad which reached semis at both WC98 and Euro 2000. Last season, he coaced AZ to its second Dutch league title ever. Dare call him a bad manager..

    By the way, McClaren's Twente has lost its top of the table position to PSV yesterday night, and given PSV's current form it's gonna be some challenge for Twente to make a serious trophy challenge. However, this doesn't make their current league performance any worse, cos being unbeaten for almost 20 games now is some performance. Even in the Dutch league.

    Which brings me to the next point. Obviously, the Dutch league isn't exactly in its glory days. The list of succesful players which have been raised in the Dutch league still shows there's quality, but usually quality in the making. Players are bought by clubs from bigger leagues before they reach their prime. Hence, clubs making a serious challenge for a Europian trophy is almost an incident. Apart of Ajax in 02/03 and PSV about two years later, Dutch clubs fail to impress in the Champions League. This in contrast with previous decades, which brought at least one European Cup to Holland each since the Seventies. Looking at the stats, Ajax is still Europe's fourth succesful club, with only Liverpool being able to brag about more European Cups in its trophy cupboard. Of course I don't even have to mention the likes of Chelsea in this respect, they're still in football's primary school. Despite the waste of billions of pounds of some silly Russian.

    Because obviously, the absolute financial mismanagement in the so called big leagues is the major cause of the current state of the Dutch league. While Europe's dominating clubs barely still have an idea about the size of their debts, Dutch clubs are forced to be financially healthy. Which means, no irresponsible spending on transfer fees, wages, etc. While the dominating clubs keep spending and spending, no matter how big their debts, Dutch clubs are kept on a reasonable budget and being controlled by their association, and lose their best players season after season to sides from England, Italy, Spain and Germany.

    Hopefully Platini has the guts the carry on with his plan to rule out clubs which have major debts. That would mean no European competition for at least half of the clubs from the Premiership who are likely to qualify, not even talking about our amigos from Spain.

    With a fair competition, clubs from other countries will be able to take part in the competition as well. And then I mean, take seriously part in it.

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  • 122. At 12:29pm on 20 Jan 2010, veneztiger wrote:

    Time to come home to Hull City, we need a manager who knows how to use and get the best from his players, Phil Brown is a deteriment to our survival and future success !

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  • 123. At 2:25pm on 20 Jan 2010, neeskensreturns wrote:

    To whoever made that comment about Scottish managers v Dutch managers: you might want to check how many Dutch and Scottish managers coached a team at the 2006 world cup. Where are the Scottish managers coaching a major football nation or a major continental European club? Do you want me to make a selection of the list of 200 Dutch coaches currently managing a foreign professional side, whether club or country?

    Like I said earlier, think of the Dutch league what you want. In terms of coaching standards though, from the lowest amateur levels all the way up, the English can learn a thing or two from the Dutch. And again good for Steve that he recognised that this in turn might help him become a better manager himself.

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  • 124. At 5:27pm on 20 Jan 2010, Gooner wrote:

    No matter what he achieves outside the Premier League, or maybe back in it at some stage in the future, he cannot reverse his awful decision to axe Beckham. He was out of his depth at international level and no matter what he achieves in the Dutch league, it will not mean he has reached that standard.

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  • 125. At 5:30pm on 20 Jan 2010, GinstersParadise wrote:

    Thank you for posting the link of post 109, appreciated.

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  • 126. At 5:55pm on 20 Jan 2010, dmc4manu wrote:

    It is interesting to read these comments about how good or bad the Manager is or was on a certain level, may it be club or country.

    Success for a country like England: A club Manager winning the Uefa league is equal to a National Manager winning the World Cup.

    A club M winning the Uefa Cup is equal to the National M winning the European Cup.

    Only Alf Ramsey has won the World Cup with England, the rest are failures, on that level. How good or bad the manager was in the build up, ain't relevant.

    Capello has had huge success with us in the qualifying campaign, let's say we go out in the quarters or semi's, he would still be a failure. We need to win it.

    We have the team and the talent to take this one, South Africa's winter is a fine summers day for us.

    I live in Bloemfontein, and yes, it gets icy cold in the winter, -8C, but, that is 12:00-04:00AM and always warms up to about 20-25C, which will be when the football is played. Do not fear the hype about low temps, it will be fine. (by the way, England are not playing in Bloem, so no problems)

    See ya in SA. Go England.

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  • 127. At 6:17pm on 20 Jan 2010, dmc4manu wrote:

    Anyone thinking that Steve was the worst we ever had needs to check out this link:

    He is in the top 7 of 15 managers we have had since the 40's.

    Nice to note that in the good old days managers had 110 games+, time to prove what they could do. Will never be seen again.

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  • 128. At 7:36pm on 20 Jan 2010, Phil Minshull wrote:

    Many thanks to everyone who has responded to this week's blog. I can see that the subject of Steve McClaren still raises the pulse for a lot of people.

    A lot of comments looked back over his brief stint as the England coach. Yes, I have to agree with many of you and say that it was hugely disappointing and well below expectations that England didn't qualify for Euro 2008. McClaren has to take some of the blame but there were other things (especially crucial injuries at critical moments) that were out of his hands.

    However, I'm not going to get into any further analysis of his time as England coach because acres of space has already been devoted by pundits to cause ever since he resigned. After all, the blog was about the resurrection of his career and reputation at Twente Enschede.

    crash (and also Captain_Whacky) “So Macca is shining in a sixth rate league!” I didn't call the Eredivisie 'sixth-rate', I called it the sixth most prestigious or powerful in Europe. Referring to it as 'sixth rate' tends to suggest I was being derogatory about the state of Dutch football, which is far from the case. I was just putting its relative position in perspective.

    A number of people (128people, harveyjohnny67 among others) took a negative view of my opinion that McClaren was "the coach of one of the world's leading football nations." Without, hopefully, being accused of myopic patriotism, England were fifth in the FIFA rankings when McClaren got England the job on 1 August 2006 and 12th when he was sacked on 22 November 2007. He presided over a bad run and a drop of seven places in the rankings but, nevertheless, England were and still are one of the world's leading football nations.

    Neeskensreturns, Simon and DutchParr all made the point about the impact that Joop Munsterman has had as the chairman at Twente. You are absolutely right, having talked to several people about the club being declared bankrupt in the 2002-03 season and the situation prior to Munsterman';s arrival, there's no doubt that his financial rescue and restructuring of the club paved the foundation's for McClaren's success on the field in the last two seasons.

    sambranch: “I take umbrage with you, Phil, and many others who claim that the Dutch league is inferior to the French league.” Well, we can argue about the relative merits of the two leagues until the cows, presumably Friesian, come home.

    In one respect you are right, historically Dutch teams have lifted six European Cups/Champions League and five other European titles. By contrast, Marseille's 1993 Champions League win is the only French triumph in the Europe's premier club competition, and the only other French win in Europe was by PSG in the now-defunct Cup Winners' Cup.

    However, no Dutch team has made the last-16 of the Champions League since PSV made the quarter-finals in 2006-07. In that time, Lyon has made the quarter-finals every year and this season both Bordeaux and Lyon have made it through to the knock out stages. It's an inexact science but I think the French league is generally in the ascendancy at the moment.

    stamash_city made a good point about the recent achievements of Portuguese teams but, realistically, we are only talking about Porto, who won both the titles mentioned, and the Lisbon clubs. IMHO the depth of quality of players and clubs in The Netherlands is greater than in Portugal.

    MartinRichardson: “Can't imagine United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal rushing out to try to get him to manage their respective teams to european glory!” No, I can't imagine those teams trying to bring him to England either but he might be the sort of coach that would interest the likes of Wigan, Blackburn or Wolves, if they are in the Premier League next season.

    Cardiffgull: “I'm really pleased to see Stoch doing so well.... How do you see his development and is it going to be difficult for him to lure him back to England where he may yet again be bereft of opportunities?” I think Twente will want to hang onto him and, as there is unlikely to be many playing opportunities at Chelsea, it wouldn't be a surprise to see his loan deal made permanent. Alternatively, a Premier League club may put some tempting amount of cash on the table to bring him back to England in the summer.

    Shoogle: Some of your queries might be better answered via the post bag. Can you resend your comment to and include your name and the town/city and country where you come from?

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  • 129. At 1:11pm on 21 Jan 2010, der verlorene Sohn wrote:

    crash (and also Captain_Whacky) “So Macca is shining in a sixth rate league!” I didn't call the Eredivisie 'sixth-rate', I called it the sixth most prestigious or powerful in Europe. Referring to it as 'sixth rate' tends to suggest I was being derogatory about the state of Dutch football, which is far from the case. I was just putting its relative position in perspective.

    This is still unfounded and not based on the UEFA League Rankings!

    The Dutch league has been rated 9th this year and next year it will be ranked 8th based on the UEFA Coefficients!

    Why do you keep saying 6th???

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  • 130. At 3:37pm on 21 Jan 2010, Phil Minshull wrote:

    Now I Have A BBC iD:"The Dutch league has been rated 9th this year and next year it will be ranked 8th based on the UEFA Coefficients!"

    You are absolutely right but the UEFA coefficient is determined only by the results of a particular league's clubs in UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League games over the past five seasons. It doesn't take into account the strength and ability of clubs that didn't make it into Europe.

    By the same analysis, back in 2004-05 the Dutch league was ranked fourth in Europe, ahead of France and Germany and just a fraction behind Spain... and that wasn't right either! I have been generally refering to the overall strength of the league but I'll admit, as I said before, it's not an exact science.

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  • 131. At 4:53pm on 22 Jan 2010, der verlorene Sohn wrote:

    You're right it is not an exact science.

    However, to suggest that the Dutch league has somehow been prejudiced by fact that the UEFA League ranking system "doesn't take into account the strength and ability of clubs that didn't make it into Europe" is misleading.

    In fact it has probably worked in the Dutch league's favour!

    After the typical qualifiers of AZ, Ajax, PSV and now Twente—who have done VERY very little in Europe over the past few years—I can't think of a team that would put up anything resembling a good show in Europe. Feyenoord are doing alright this season, but have been poor of late.

    And as for teams like Heracles, NAC Breda, VVV-Venlo and Gronigen...well...let's just say it's not hard to see why a player like Alfonso Alves (also Kezman!) could hit 30+ league goals in a season!

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  • 132. At 09:57am on 25 Jan 2010, Ben Green wrote:

    Correct me if I'm wrong, didn't Mclaren finish 14th in his final season at Middlesbrough? I know he did get them into the UEFA Cup by winning the Carling Cup, but it's not like he didn't get much money to spend on players and couldn't afford to pay players high wages. Eventhough I do not think they would've done a better job, I always felt Curbishley and Allardyce's achievements wwere more successful than what Mclaren.

    I know it is said by many inside the game tht he is a great coach and his best achievements were in cups, which is, bar qualifying, what England would play in. Had he qualified with England, maybe they would've been more successful, however reports were that Venables did a lot of the coaching on the field, as a no.2 does and Mclaren stood by and assessed and then managed. So you had a man who's best assest was coaching, not coaching but managing and then a man who's a proven manager, not managing but coaching.

    For his confidence I hope he does succeed, I think we need to see more British coaches moving abroad, to gain experience of other styles. I'm sure he's seen a lot in Holland, especially about their youth systems that he could in time bring back home.

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  • 133. At 10:42pm on 25 Jan 2010, ugiagbe wrote:

    possibly one of the most ridiculous interviews i've seen anyway. He's always been a talented manager. I know many Boro fans who still sing his praises and rightly so.

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  • 134. At 12:29pm on 26 Jan 2010, OranjeRotterdam wrote:

    We will gladly keep McLaren here in Holland as he is a great coach to have in the league. A guy with insight who lets his players get the best out of them. And he is not afraid of an attacking mentality. Which most other English coaches clearly lack.

    Truth be told: the England squad he coached was quite rubbish. Overpaid players, most of whom won't hack it in international competitions, especially the defence.

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  • 135. At 6:31pm on 26 Jan 2010, Maxi-D wrote:

    First of all, Greetings and Congratulations for a wonderful Blog-

    Which is much needed to educate that there is more to football than the premiership-


    In response to the Stevie McClaren post; Fair play. I have been a fan of the Dutch league for a few years and find it as enjoyable as many other leagues throughout Europe. I see that although the funding is not that of the premiership, the ethic is there. With limited resources, scouting takes even more importance- with all due respect it is ideal as a "Transitional League" for players looking to go to the "Bigger Leagues" across Europe. Many many players have been plucked from the Eredivisie and become world class- notably Seedorf, Bergkamp, Makaay, Van Nistlerooy, Kanu(debatable) as well as countless others Chivu ect. In my humble opinion We can take a leaf from their book in terms of youth academies and focus on development through becoming a player before finding ones position.

    On the Subject of youth development- Who do you think can make the transition from the Eredivisie into said "Bigger" leagues?

    I'm a particular fan of-
    And of course Suarez (who I would love to see in the Premiership)

    Any Views will be greatly appreciated-
    Kind Regards

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  • 136. At 10:22pm on 30 Apr 2010, Ritchiesrightboot wrote:

    I wish FC Twente and Steve McClaren the very best of luck on Sunday, to win the dutch league is an awesome achievement and Steve McClaren is an ex Bristol City player so,All the best Steve and I hope FC Twente come away with the win they require.

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  • 137. At 9:05pm on 02 May 2010, DrCajetanCoelho wrote:

    Congratulations to Steve McClaren and Dutch Ere Divisie champions FC Twente.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

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  • 138. At 09:24am on 03 May 2010, bozbontins wrote:

    Wally suggests useless loser which McCaren has now disproved.The real wallies was the incapable team, that no coach could have improved.
    Fabio won't be able to do anything with them anyway coz they're all overated except for rooney.

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  • 139. At 06:47am on 04 May 2010, Roland22 wrote:

    I can understand people still being upset about McClarens failure as England national manager.But sometimes even the best managers just don't work out in a certain job.Louis van Gaal had been a very successful manager and is currently leading Bayern Munich into the Champions League final and has practically won the Bundesliga.But back in 2002 he failed to qualify with the Dutch national side for the world cup.But no one would argue now or then that he's a bad manager.It's just his style of coaching.You need a certain kind of manager to take all those spoiled millionaires every few weeks and make them perform with the limited time you have,some take and need more time then others.It's very different from being a manager at a club where you can have the players with you on a constant basis and you can really get them to play the way you want and be successful in doing it.
    Congratulations to Steve McClaren and FC Twente for winning the championship!

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  • 140. At 00:59am on 02 Jun 2010, ugiagbe wrote:


    possibly one of the most ridiculous interviews i've seen anyway. He's always been a talented manager. I know many Boro fans who still sing his praises and rightly so.

    This boy is a genius.... Also 134 should get a pat on the back as well

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