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McClaren finds life tough at Wolfsburg

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Phil Minshull | 09:00 UK time, Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Steve McClaren is still the boss at Wolfsburg and on Monday the former England manager was keen to show it to his players and an accompanying horde of spectators which included some of his most vociferous critics from the German media.

At the club's Marbella winter training retreat, McClaren led his players - including the apparently Manchester City-bound Edin Dzeko who might have been wishing his transfer had progressed a bit more quickly - on a 30-minute dawn run before breakfast.

This was a prelude to two further punishing training sessions later in the day, during which McClaren was reported to have reminded his players on several occasions: "This is not a holiday, we have lots to do, we are not here to have fun."

It has not been much fun for McClaren or anybody else involved with Wolfsburg this season.

The Wolves started the current campaign as a Bundesliga title contender in most people's eyes after spending about £35m - by coincidence, roughly the amount that City are expected to have to pay for Dzeko - on six players during the summer.

Wolfsburg also lured McClaren across the border from Dutch champions Twente Enschede, where he had resurrected his coaching reputation after his torrid time at the helm of England.

Wolfsburg coach Steve McClaren watches his team warm up before their German Cup match against Energie Cottbus

McClaren has had a torrid time since moving to Germany from Twente. Photo - Reuters

McClaren had a minimum target of getting the 2009 German champions back into Europe after they finished eighth last season and failed to qualify for the Europa League.

"McClaren is a far better coach than his England critics claim and, provided his German lessons go well, he should be able to achieve European qualification," predicted World Soccer magazine in its preview to the German season.

Spanish sports daily Marca went even further, forecasting: "Bayern should be champions again as coach Louis van Gaal has complacency as his enemy but Wolfsburg could battle them for the title."

However, it has not turned out that way.

After a disastrous November and December when Wolfsburg went eight games without a win - a streak which included six successive draws in the Bundesliga and an embarrassing German Cup defeat by Energie Cottbus of the Second Division - McClaren is under immense pressure to produce results.

Wolfsburg - a subsidiary of car manufacturer Volkswagen - have slid to 13th place in the Bundesliga, just three places and four points above from the relegation zone.

"The first half of the season was not good enough. I am disappointed, frustrated. We have problems in the dressing room, problems on the field. We have hit rock bottom," said McClaren after that Cottbus defeat.

Wolfsburg general manager Dieter Hoeness called McClaren into his office the day after the Cup loss for a three-hour crisis meeting and subsequently gave everyone, players and coaches included, a public dressing down on the club's website.

"We have got some cleaning up to do. We told the team eight weeks ago... that their basic attitude must change. We did not get a reaction so now we have got to react.

"The fans do not deserve to see what they are seeing on the pitch, particularly given the exemplary way in which they supported us against Cottbus.

"We expect the coaches to act consequentially and to punish bad behaviour both on and off the field," said the furious former German international striker, who played in the 1986 World Cup final.

The core of the problem has been a rebellion by some players, notably Algeria's World Cup midfielder Karim Ziani, to McClaren's coaching methods and tactical decisions.

Hoeness gave McClaren a stay of execution at their meeting, possibly because of the lack of viable alternatives, but Wolfsburg start the second half of the season with an unenviable schedule.

They play host to a resurgent Bayern Munich, who have won five of their last six games, on 15 January - the deadline for Dzeko to sign for City - before travelling to second-placed Mainz ahead of a meeting with runaway league leaders Borussia Dortmund.

One reason why McClaren's level of job security has shrivelled even further since Christmas - it is an open secret that, barring a miracle, he will be handed his cards at the end of the season - has everything to do with Wolfsburg's sudden willingness to sell Dzeko in the January transfer window.

Before Wolfsburg agreed a deal to sell Dzeko to City, Hoeness had consistently said that the Bosnian striker would stay until the end of the season, but the German club's general manager has clearly decided to start preparing for next season sooner rather than later.

So if McClaren follows Dzeko out of the Volkswagen Arena in the near future, who could be his next employer?

A Premier League club is the obvious answer, especially as McClaren has always said he would like to return to the English game.

Dzeko's likely transfer to City could also have a knock-on effect elsewhere in Europe.

Real Madrid were keeping tabs on Dzeko but, with his asking price inflated by City's interest, the Spanish club ceased to be serious contenders for his signature a while ago.

However, with Karim Benzema still failing to convince despite a few good games recently and Gonzalo Higuain requiring back surgery, coach Jose Mourinho looks set to go into the market for an out-and-out number nine in the coming weeks.

Emmanuel Adebayor's name is the one that is getting pencilled in by pundits and the public alike as Real's big winter transfer winter acquisition.

Mixed messages have been coming from the Real offices in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium regarding Adebayor, with club officials clearly looking closely at his price tag and a salary of about £170,000-a-week.

Stories have been appearing regularly in the Spanish media over the last month saying that Adebayor is at the top of Real's shopping list, but there was an interesting change in direction over the weekend when unnamed Real officials were cited as saying that his wages were too high even for them.

Is this a negotiating tactic to get Manchester City to chip in with a contribution to his wages in order to get him off their hands? In the infamous words of Francis Urquhart, "You might think that, but I couldn't possibly comment."

Struggling La Liga side Malaga, which was bought in June by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Thani - the first Arab owner of a Spanish professional football club - have also entered the race to sign Adebayor.

Several stories have appeared in the Spanish media saying that Malaga would be prepared to gazump Real and pay serious money for Adebayor.

In similar fashion to the way Sheikh Mansour dived into the winter transfer market six months after he bought Manchester City - when he paid a record British transfer fee for Robinho - Al Thani has taken stock for a few months and seems now set to whip out his cheque book.

Al Thani unceremoniously sacked former Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira after a poor start to the season and brought in Mourinho's predecessor at Real, Manuel Pellegrini, in much the same way that City replaced Mark Hughes with Roberto Mancini.

Adebayor could potentially be the first of a series of big name signings by Malaga in the next six months, which could lead to them making a surprising challenge for a place in Europe next season.


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  • 1. At 10:24am on 05 Jan 2011, U14357625 wrote:

    I've never been a huge fan of McClaren but I hope he is able to turn it around in Germany. He was a disaster for England but at least he had the bottle to go abroad and try to restore his reputation.

    He took another brave decision in leaving Twente when he did. He could have remained and lived off his title win, instead he decided to take on another challenge.

    As for Adebayor, surely one of the most overrated players in the game.

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  • 2. At 10:40am on 05 Jan 2011, Vox Populi wrote:

    1. At 10:24am on 05 Jan 2011, footballfutbolfitba wrote:

    As for Adebayor, surely one of the most overrated players in the game.


    I think he's a useful player for Real Madrid to acquire on loan for the rest of the season. I do find it strange that he has not found form or consistency at Manchester City but I do believe he's an excellent target man on his day.

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  • 3. At 10:43am on 05 Jan 2011, Bergysdeftflicks wrote:

    McLaren had the courage to try his luck abroad but i think hes a small Club boss in truth. Should have stayed in Holland.

    As for Adebayor, hes useless. Its frankly incredible that Clubs still seek his dubiuos services and reflects the madness of football that is leading many long standing fans like myself to be grsually turning our backs on the sport. Make no mistake, many feel this way.

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  • 4. At 10:57am on 05 Jan 2011, Deeeemarles wrote:

    Why hate on Maclaren for trying in a different league. How many english footballers have tried to stretch themselves abroad?

    As for Adebayor, the player has talent. Its a case of the player finding the right club, and the player sorting out his attitude. (remember Anelka and the wilderness years before he turned up at Chelsea)

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  • 5. At 11:09am on 05 Jan 2011, Its in the ether wrote:

    With regard to Robinho, you have a short memory. He was possibly the most sensational last minute signing of a SUMMER transfer window and was an immediate statement of intent from Sheikh Mansour immediately following his purchase of City. He most certainly was not a winter signing 6 months after the takeover.

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  • 6. At 11:09am on 05 Jan 2011, David Jahngir wrote:

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

  • 7. At 11:11am on 05 Jan 2011, Radar wrote:

    Maclaren is an excellent coach but a poor manager.

    That's the sentiment that you get from the vast majority of players he's managed. His personal skills just aren't right, he'd tell a player what they wanted to hear only to go back on it straight away.

    He can do well at a small club but when you have big ego stars this just doesn't wash.

    I wish him well, being from the North East I was around with the excitement of Boro's first trophy and their European run (he did exactly the same as Roy Hodgson but didn't get the same recognition?) But I think even this job is too big for him.

    I applaud him for going abroad, so few English players or managers do this, and hopefully it improved him, maybe it would be best for him to return to Holland.

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  • 8. At 11:13am on 05 Jan 2011, Chriso wrote:

    Completely disagree - Adebayor just needs a bit of love. Admittedly he was a bit dodgy when he first came to Arsenal, but his last season there in particular showed he had developed into as mighty a presence as Drogba. He has scored in virtually every game he has played for City this season in the Europa League and would have provided a good partner for Tevez had Mancini shown faith in him (or a two striker system). He is lightyears better than Jo, so I'm assuming he must have really narked the man at the top considering how many games he's played.

    As for his wages - can you blame him? If you were getting in excess of £150k per week for doing nowt you'd be tempted to stay put too.

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  • 9. At 11:16am on 05 Jan 2011, Harry Hotspur wrote:

    I'm from Middlesbrough originally and I remember the glorious time McClaren spent at the Riverside. He was a great manager for a team like Boro. It's just a shame for him that he took the England job, where promising careers go to die. He should try his luck in some of the other second-tier European leagues, I think. Portugal, maybe, or Denmark or Switzerland. I think he'd go down a storm in any of those.

    Whereas Adebayor would go down in flames in any of those. A mediocre player with ideas well above his station. He had one good season and now believes he's worth £170k a week. Nobody's worth that much. I remember when Scott Carson had a great season. Wonder how much he earns at West Brom now...

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  • 10. At 11:19am on 05 Jan 2011, JamTay1 wrote:

    I respect Steve McClaren for been that rarity in the English game, an Englishman who has the bottle to go abroad and try and improve themselves. Perhaps some of the whinging English Premier League managers who complain that they never get offered the big jobs (whilst staying put in their comfort zone) should take a leaf out of McClarens book. However with that said, as Woy Hodgson continues his destruction of Liverpool, perhaps it shows that English managers are just plain not good enough.

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  • 11. At 11:31am on 05 Jan 2011, In Off The Ghost wrote:

    I admire Steve mcclaren for being brave enough to rebuild his career after the England debacle. Not sure why it has gone so wrong for him at Wolfsburg.

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  • 12. At 11:32am on 05 Jan 2011, lesrosbifs wrote:

    McClaren may not be a good manager, as someone above alluded too, but in Germany he is the coach. Mr Hoeness is the manager. Therefore, the problems lie in the way the players are responding to McClaren's coaching methods, rather than his managerial style. There are infinitely more egos to deal with at Wolfsburg than there were at FC Twente.

    In an ideal world, McClaren would be given more time to get the team how he wants them. I suspect this isn't going to happen. On an aside, I did select him as Coach of the Year for my website:

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  • 13. At 11:42am on 05 Jan 2011, goodwill_the_blue wrote:

    The person doesn't exactly inspire confidence, does he.
    Seems to stumble when things go wrong, not knowing where to turn (thinking of England especially)
    Don't bring him back to the premier league, give younger upcoming managers (Simon Grayson, Nigel Pearson etc) a chance rather than another failed manager on the failed manager merry go round.

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  • 14. At 11:50am on 05 Jan 2011, Vox Populi wrote:

    9. At 11:16am on 05 Jan 2011, sheffieldharry wrote:
    Whereas Adebayor would go down in flames in any of those. A mediocre player with ideas well above his station. He had one good season


    Adebayor's career record shows that he has scored 119 goals in 333 games.

    That's more than one good season.

    I'm not picking on you in particular but why do people resort to nonsense and hyperbole when they decide to lead a backlash against certain players? It can't all be bitter Gooners which would be understandable but I sometimes wonder what game people are watching. Adebayor may well be overpaid but so are all other players at the top level.

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  • 15. At 11:54am on 05 Jan 2011, lamejorliga wrote:

    Phil, nearly every blog I read from you has a quote from Spanish newspaper Marca. This is clearly a sensationalist, trashy rag which is even derided by many Real Madrid fans. No idea why you continue to do this.

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  • 16. At 12:06pm on 05 Jan 2011, LeeTUFC wrote:

    I think Steve McClaren has a bad rep in this country because of his failings with England counting against him. Yes, he didn't perform well while in charge of the national team, but at both Middlesbrough and Twente he's shown himself to be more than a compentent coach/manager.

    There aren't many English managers who would move abroad to try and resurrect their careers, and then go on to perform so well. Admittedly now he's struggling but he's only six months in and could turn things around. I still think he should be commended for what he has acheived so far. There aren't many english managers around who can say they've won a major trophy in england and a major european league. One bad spell in charge of england and a six month blip at wolfsburg do not make him a bad manager.

    I would like to see Sam Allardyce test his abilities abroad. Whilst i am a fan of his, he does have an inflated opinion of himself so i would like to see him prove that he is a great manager by doing something other than rescuing a team in trouble in the EPL.

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  • 17. At 12:08pm on 05 Jan 2011, hackerjack wrote:

    McLaren is a decent coach with limitations.

    I would trust him to build a team and work with players to improve them. I would not trust in his ability to turn around a bad situation.

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  • 18. At 12:15pm on 05 Jan 2011, VAMOS wrote:

    You can't question Adebayours ability, he scored plenty for City when he first arrived and did well for Arsenal. His problem might be his mental attitude but he is not getting any games either, who's fault that is I don't know. If Jose could give him a regular place, it would do him a lot of good. He is also 100 times better than Chamack and Bendtnar, if you are going to use the cliche of "overrated", there are 2 examples of players that wouldnt make the Bolton first team and yet play for a big club.

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  • 19. At 12:20pm on 05 Jan 2011, VAMOS wrote:

    He has joined a team, league and culture he knows nothing about, it's not as if he moved from one mid table prem club to another. Don't know how his German is either, you can see why he is finding it hard, hopefully he will get a bit longer to find his feet.

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  • 20. At 12:27pm on 05 Jan 2011, jcb211 wrote:

    Arsenal fan here - Adebayor developed into an extremely good player while he was with us and was the main man for some time. he enjoyed some success, but what he never managed to do was connect with the fans. Although for some this is unimportant, when the fans don't think you're trying (when it wasn't going his way he was sulky and we effectively used to play with 10 men) they are less understanding when losing. He left for greener (in both senses) pastures and the same has happened. Good player, bad attitude, and unfortunately the number of players who have fallen at this hurdle is staggering. Real Madrid would be unwise to buy him, or even loan him. He needs to be the big fish (think blue whale in the goldfish bowl), and Madrid would not offer this. Perhaps somewhere like Spurs.... (sorry, couldn't resist a gentle dig!!!)

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  • 21. At 12:29pm on 05 Jan 2011, blueexile wrote:

    As a commited City fan I do have a degree of sympathy for Abebayour. What is clear is that he not wanted by Mancini, with even the very average Jo geting in ahead of him.
    Has to be remebered that he was not a Mancini signing and as with a number of players from Hughes tenure, is seen as surplus.

    He is clearly a talented player who needs to find the right club and coach and I wish him well. It should not be forgotten that before his experience in the African Nations cup he was a major part of City's plans, but since that episode he has looked a lost individual and as such a move would be the best option, both for him and the club.

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  • 22. At 12:51pm on 05 Jan 2011, messien wrote:

    i tend to agree with the views of mclaren as a limited coach. he was at boro at a time when they had good players - but look where they are now. obviously he made a mess at england (which i enjoyed btw), and took twente to a league title at a time when ajax, psv and feyenoord have probably their all-time worst ever squads. and now he's managed to lead wolfsburg to the bottom of the table.

    for me, if he wants to prove himself he should take the boro job now, but dont see anything like that happening.

    finally, people have said how he had the 'bottle' to go abroad... i dont really get this point, as no one in england would have taken him, so he probably had no choice. plus holland's league isn't the most daunting one to enter.

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  • 23. At 1:02pm on 05 Jan 2011, tridiv wrote:

    Correction: Wolfsburg was and is NOT a Bundesliga title contender, not for football fans and pundits in Germany. McClaren had the entire first round (17 matches) to build a functioning team and has failed miserably. He had a lot of sympathy with the fans in the beginning, but with the results even a strong manager like Hoeness is having great problem holding on to McClaren. He had benefits of doubt more than any other Bundesliga trainer, but if things do not change radically he will certainly be the causality in the second round. Wolfsbug's goal is Europa league, but with present form they are nowhere near it, they are just bad. Interestingly Hoffenheim parted with its trainer, and Ralf Rangnik is definitely a very interesting prospect for any Bundesliga side. I wonder if its going to bring an early closure of McClaren phase in Wolfsburg

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  • 24. At 1:11pm on 05 Jan 2011, Mikey wrote:

    Surely this Ziani guy should also be shipped out as well then?.. if McLaren wants to stamp his authority on the small nod of approval he has had from the clubs hierarchy he should come down hard on the players he has hinted at causing trouble...

    hope he does well.. especially due to the ill feeling that was directed towards him after the England job.. I am sure there are still a few bitter individuals who will relish him struggling abroad..

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  • 25. At 1:13pm on 05 Jan 2011, truebluegunnergooner wrote:

    In similar fashion to the way Sheikh Mansour dived into the winter transfer market six months after he bought Manchester City - when he paid a record British transfer fee for Robinho - Al Thani has taken stock for a few months and seems now set to whip out his cheque book"

    I'm sorry but that is completely wrong. Robinho was bought on the SAME DAY that the Abu Dhabi gropu finalised their purchase of Man City. Not 6 months later.

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  • 26. At 1:22pm on 05 Jan 2011, Storm of Swords wrote:

    Adebayor only plays for money. Arsenal fans know this from his last few months at the club and he hasn't looked at interested in any of his City appearances. Mourinho should leave him alone and leave him at City where he belongs with all the other money mercenaries.

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  • 27. At 1:25pm on 05 Jan 2011, BlueEyedBoy wrote:

    @ #15 Calum: Marca is not a trashy rag. It is in fact the best selling daily newspaper in Spain, a fact all the more remarkable because it is aimed squarely at sports news and sports only. Its writing style is higher register than you would find in British "rags" such as The Sun, The Star or The Mirror but lower than in the old broadsheets such as The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian etc... and its readership is very broad.

    Finally, it is heavily biased towards football and particularly towards Real Madrid, so much so that it is often regarded as an unofficial news medium for the internal ongoings at the club. I know of no Real Madrid fans who deride Marca for keeping them informed of what is happening at their club, much to the contrary in fact.

    Marca's two main competitors are AS (Madrid based and loosely affiliated with Atletico Madrid) and Sport (Barcelona based with a consequential heavy bias towards FC Barcelona). Perhaps it would be nice for Phil to read those from time to time and quote from them to give more of a balanced opinion, or better still, maybe quote from the broadsheets El Mundo, El Pais and La Vanguardia.

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  • 28. At 1:43pm on 05 Jan 2011, AnalMcAnal wrote:

    jcb211 - i know what you mean. If someone like Tevez or Rooney are having a bad game they make up for it by putting a shift in. When players like Adebayor or Berbatov are having a poor game it stands out because of their lazier styles.

    I think Adebayor is the ultimate confidence player. When he gets an injury free run in the team and has his tail up he's a really good player. However, when his confidence is low and he's in and out of the team he looks very poor.

    "He had one good season and now believes he's worth £170k a week" - its not his fault City offered him an obscene wage. Having said that, you would have thought he'd be willing to take a pay cut to go somewhere where he's going to figure more prominently.

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  • 29. At 1:44pm on 05 Jan 2011, DATB wrote:

    McClaren was possibly the right England manager - but probably at the wrong time. Remember though the vast majority of fans, plus the written press, wanted an englishman in charge and he was the best at that time. I hope Steve McClaren will return to the Premier League but I fear he is destined to be like Don Howe and Malcolm Alison to name but two, in being a great coach but an average manager.

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  • 30. At 1:47pm on 05 Jan 2011, joe strummer wrote:

    Adebayor is good but unfortunately the move to City and subsequent 170k per week wages has removed any desire he had to play football. Players with questionable commitment will always get worse when someone throws a ridiculous amount of money at them.

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  • 31. At 2:02pm on 05 Jan 2011, 1978 Shoot league ladders wrote:

    I watch the Bundesliga MOTD weekly and I noticed the Wolfsburg fans sporting brollies en masse as a kind of protest, but so far there has been no 'McLaren raus...'
    My gut feeling was that it would not work and it isn't. Dzeko leaving is even worse news for them.

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  • 32. At 2:06pm on 05 Jan 2011, Martyn wrote:

    Some interesting points from McClaren's 'peers' in here. How on earth anyone on here can suggest he is 'limited' is simply laughable. Then there are others who suggest they get a 'feel' from players he has managed that his man management isn't up to much like they are best buddies with some of those players - gimme a break!

    Looking at the facts, MaClaren was Ferguson's number 2 at Man Utd, I'm no red but there's no way he would have employed him if he had any of the character traits being suggested here. He did 'fail' with England but anyone would have, the current chap is proving no better and he has ten times the medals MaClaren does. England's problem isn't the coach its the mediocre players with big ego's and low ability. Like Ferguson I dont believe the FA would have given him the job if they had doubts - for all their failings they do take advice.

    Twente are small provisional club but to win the Dutch title ahead of Ajax 'the bank' Amsterdam, Philips Electrics Sports Assocication Eindoven and Feyenoord etc is nothing short of outstanding. It would be like Bolton winning the Premier League if you want a comparison. You would have to be a seriously good coach/manager to achieve it.

    Adebayour - one good season at Arsenal and sold on for a fortune, another piece of genius transfer dealing by Wenger. I can't think of too many players that have left Arsenal and gone on to bigger better things - more money yes but achievements not really. I think other teams would be mad to buy players from Arsenal when Wenger wants to sell as he doesnt appear to get rid of quality - only the bad eggs.

    McClaren appears to be having some issues with players and unfortunatly having transfer windows, general economic difficulties and the impending financial fair play regulations is going to make it difficult to ship out the trouble and bring in the players he would like. As seems to be the case with most succesful clubs standing by the manager will reep the benefits, Wolfsburg should give him time to turn things around.

    Perhaps McClarens real failure was not checking out Wolfsburg properly before accepting the job.

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  • 33. At 2:17pm on 05 Jan 2011, VAMOS wrote:

    Adebayor only plays for money. Arsenal fans know this from his last few months at the club and he hasn't looked at interested in any of his City appearances.


    Every player only plays for money, you think anyone would play for free? Do you do volunteer work instead of for a salary?

    Arsenal fans know nothing, they were as much of a catalyst for Ade's poor form and eventual sale as Ade himself. They got on his back far too quickly and even booed him when he needed support, I can see why he lost motivation.

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  • 34. At 2:19pm on 05 Jan 2011, SirMouseburger wrote:

    You could argue that Maclaren's fortunes echo those of Hodgson at Liverpool, they both repaired their reputations but then take on the job of rebuilding an ailing giant. Wolfsburg were in decline last season too (like Liverpool) and needed someone to come in and steady the ship.

    However, if Maclaren becomes available, then maybe the expected vacancy at Anfield at the end of the season might be tempting for both club and manager.....

    As for Adebayor, i have never been a fan, and don't see why he is so heavily rated - if Real Madrid are seriously thinking about him as a player then they have gone down in my estimation! He is not a world class player by any stretch, he is gangly and lacks coordination most of the time - reminds me of a slightly more adept version of Peter Crouch.

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  • 35. At 2:30pm on 05 Jan 2011, leftbackviews wrote:

    Maclaren is definitely having a torrid time at the moment. It is interesting that so many of the players seem to disagree with his tactics, there were no problems at Twente, could it be the Germans resistance to having an English coach.

    have a look at our article on the Maclaren situation.

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  • 36. At 2:31pm on 05 Jan 2011, niro_d_wolf wrote:

    I honestly think Mclaren should have stayed with FC Twente for 1 or 2 more seasons, but he obviously wanted to take on a club in bigger league and with Wolfsburg having recently won Bundesliga and their profile boosted considerably it would have been an attractive but risky move.
    And if it is some players who are openly rebelling against the manager because they dont like style of play, they should be disciplined by the club board and get on

    Not to go off topic, but the reason why so many people have a dislike towards Adebayor is his attitude. He feels that it is a god given right that he should be in the starting XI and cannot understand if you dont play well and work hard you will not get a spot.
    And when you criticize fans of not showing you enough "love" to keep you at a club that is never going to go down well.

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  • 37. At 3:14pm on 05 Jan 2011, PabloPiatti wrote:

    Wolfsburg should let Dzeko go, he is one of the many 'off the field' problems that they have and because of these problems they are suffering on the pitch!

    This blog post 'Wally with the Brolly' adresses why Wolfsburg are having the problems they are having.

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  • 38. At 3:47pm on 05 Jan 2011, Bellion-Wonderland wrote:

    It wasnt a good time for him to go to Wolfsburg who having experienced an unexpected title win and immediately lost the coach who delivered it are now on a downwards curve with players wanting out. They'd need to hit a bad patch before the rebuilding can begin and I fear the board won't have the patience to let him be the man to do it.

    At Twente they were on an upward curve which he managed to harness to deliver the title. It's that kind of club he should be looking for. If he was to come back something like Blackburn where a new owner is looking to build would be a good bet.

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  • 39. At 4:02pm on 05 Jan 2011, SirMouseburger wrote:

    In response to post 32 by Martyn.

    I think people can rightly level some blame on him as a manager; the manager is ultimately responsbible for getting the players to play to the best of their abilities.

    Just because Ferguson chose him as his assistant does not automatically elevate Maclaren to being a competant manager. Think of other number twos that Ferguson has had; Brian Kidd - didnt do much as manager at Blackburn did he? Carlos Quieroz - dodgy as Real Madrid manager (although i admit that is a poisoned chalice) and sacked as Portugal boss.

    That is not to say these people are not good assistants at all, indeed Brian Kidd was a great assistant manager to Ferguson, as was Queiroz. However there is a big difference between being an assistant manager and a manager.

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  • 40. At 4:09pm on 05 Jan 2011, Aarfy_Aardvark - bring back 606 wrote:

    You have to credit McClaren for going into a job and doing the exact opposite that a lot of English managers abroad would do in the same situation, and even foreign managers in the Premiership. He has gone into the position without speaking German and is working alongside a backroom staff who aren't English and has even resisted that banal cliche of buying second rate English players to put into the side. (Souness at Benfica anyone?)

    I think he is trying to go about this the right way and is clearly a very good example for young English coaches wanting to work abroad but the step up from the Eredivise to Bundesliga is huge. I don't think he has prepared himself well for this even though he has always gone into it with the best intentions.

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  • 41. At 4:14pm on 05 Jan 2011, der Retter wrote:

    @ 34. At 2:19pm on 05 Jan 2011, SirMouseburger

    Wolfsburg are hardly an ailing giant! Until 2009, they hadn't won the league or the cup...I don't think they had even won the second division.

    Everyone thought that they were a team on the up, but last season they badly underpeformed. That being said, it was always going to be hard for the new man to follow Magath's triumph.

    But this season they spent quite a bit of cash for a Bundesliga side. Wolfsburg have brought in the much-courted Simon Kjaer from Palermo, 70-plus capped Arne Friedrich and Bundesliga-proven Diego.

    For me, Mclaren has failed miserably so far. The only thing that stops him looking disastrous is that the other traditional heavyweights are also underperforming: Bayern Munich, Schalke, Hamburg and Werder Bremen.

    You are right to compare these two managers though, they are both of mediocre stock. As for Mclaren ending up at Anfield, you must be joking. How you think that might be tempting for Liverpool is beyond me. Perhaps you're a rugby fan...or a Man Utd fan!

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  • 42. At 4:15pm on 05 Jan 2011, Holloway2Holland wrote:

    32 Martyn.

    Excellent post and I agree with most of what you've written.

    I think S Mac bit off a little more then he could chew when taking on the Wolfsberg job. He'd done an excellent job here in the Lowlands and I personally think he should of stayed on a year. He had qualified for the league stage of the CL (many managers dream) and he gave that up for a bigger challenge in Germany. Fair play to him for trying and I think it will only make him better, as coaches go he's still relatively young and I'm sure there are many teams in Europe who would be willing to give him a chance.

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  • 43. At 5:01pm on 05 Jan 2011, SAKH wrote:

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

  • 44. At 5:41pm on 05 Jan 2011, mynewporch wrote:

    Fair play to McLaren for giving it another go and trying to rebuild his career. It's hard for a manager in England who gains themselves a name as a failure to come back and get another decent job - just look how long Phil Brown has been out of work, it can't be that he was the best thing since sliced bread one minute and then he loses the plot a few months later.

    Good luck to Big Sam to end up with a decent role once he's enjoyed his time off and eaten Steve Bruce's share of the pork pies!

    Anyone know if there is a press conference from when McLaren joined Wolfsburg where he is putting on a German accent like he did when he joined Twente? It vud be hilarious to zee

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  • 45. At 5:44pm on 05 Jan 2011, Drooper_ wrote:

    I admire Steve Mclaren for pushing himself on to higher goals, but he was the depressing classic compromise choice as England manager, where saying all the right things, or more correctly, not saying the wrong things, or preferably nothing at all, is regarded as more important in the selection policy than the actual football your teams produce. Just like Roy Hodgson with Fulham, he got Middlesboro to a UEFA/Europa League Cup Final (and was their a League Cup success in there as well?), which seemed to be the impetus for him to become England boss.

    This reminds me of selections for the England overseas cricket tours of the 70s and 80s where you would hear a commentator say a Man of the Match performance in September's Gillette/Nat West Trophy had to warrant a place in the squad. But how had the player performed in the bread and butter of the season as a whole?

    Bob Stokoe won an FA Cup with Sunderland in the 1970s, John Sillett one with Coventry in the 1980s, and in recent years, Dennis Wise has taken Millwall to a Final, and last year Avram Grant did it with Portsmouth. Should they have been considered for the England job for arguably one-offs. Of course not, what they were doing week in week out was a fairer reflection of their ability.

    When Steve McLaren took over at Middlesboro they were the nouveau riches. They'd been able to attract the likes of Juninho and Boksic. Admittedly, a lot of managers have failed with such riches, but at least SM hadn't had to work his way up the divisions like. And fair play to him, he'd brought Middlesboro to those finals, but what about his league record? A higher level than where they are now, but I seem to remember it was getting less and less anything to write home about, and getting a real footballing lesson at Arsenal (good luck to City tonight by the way) sticks in my mind.

    After the England disaster, it looks like no major/big/biggish English clubs wanted to let him anywhere near their money,and I don't think he fancied a drop down the league ladder, where I don't believe he would shine, and possibly worse. So was his decision to go Twente Enschede brave or more calculated?

    Congratulations to him and Twente on their Dutch League Title, where his skills are obviously appreciated, and work, but I don't think he'll be reciprocating the success in Germany or England. In light of this, I wouldn't be surprised to see him follow in Roy Hodgson's steps and become a European journeyman in less fashionable leagues, and possibly sneak back to England when everybody's forgotten like they forgot about Roy's time at Blackburn. Who knows, he might come back and take an unsuspecting Bury or somebody of sucxh ilk to a Europa League Final (which they will lose), enough to convince the Glazers that he is the messiah they've been waiting for all those years, ever since Fergie left?

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  • 46. At 5:53pm on 05 Jan 2011, Drooper_ wrote:

    PS Adebayor might have scored those goals, but in which games? He hasn't been getting a look in for a reason. The last league game he was involved in was possibly the 2-1 loss at Wolves. That tells a story.

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  • 47. At 6:11pm on 05 Jan 2011, alex01 wrote:

    Although McLaren has to be admired for taking on a job in another league and culture (something that wouldn't occur to most British managers), I wonder if he really knew much about Wolfsburg and the German set-up before taking it on.
    Firstly, I would disagree that Wolfsburg is one of the top German clubs. The reason they became Bundesliga champions was down to one person: Felix Magath. When Magath left his first successor as trainer Armin Veh didn't do any better than McLaren. Both successors have had to create the successful team spirit created by Magath.

    However, McLaren's limited ability in German must be a major handicap. Germany is a bigger country than Holland, and the expectation of players and media is that you communicate in German.

    He would probably have been better staying at FC Twente, where he was able to profit from the foundations successfully laid by his predecessor Fred Rutten. In the Dutch context Twente is probably the fourth biggest club in the country,and given the problems encountered by particularly Ajax and Feyenoord in recent years, most trainers would have found it easy to be successful with Twente.

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  • 48. At 6:14pm on 05 Jan 2011, Surreybloke wrote:

    These blogs end up getting used as advertising space for other peoples' blogs - so tiresome. We're here to read this blog, not have every man and his dog touting their own. Places like Twitter, etc are where to make your blogs more popular, not on here.

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  • 49. At 6:18pm on 05 Jan 2011, ukdutchman wrote:

    He went for the money VW is huge there and great sponsorship Twente he made champions in holland for the first time in their history and yes big accomplishment; the grass is sometimes greener in cash over the border but think he made the wrong decision; englisch and dutch works fine but englisch and german is often a disaster in business and in sport

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  • 50. At 6:22pm on 05 Jan 2011, FBNTP wrote:

    I Think several of you are getting Dieter Hoeness mixed up with Uli Hoeness Dieter was manager at Stuttgart (no success) Hertha Berlin (no success) and now Wolfsburg where the success came under Felix Mcgath. Everywhere Hoeness has been Manager there has been a lot of infighting and malingering by players. It could be that is what is happening now in Wolfsburg as McClaren had not had a real chance with his own playes

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  • 51. At 6:47pm on 05 Jan 2011, JTGunner10 wrote:

    Steve McClaren did the right thing when he left English football after he was sacked as England manager.The English media attack all England managers so much, whether they are currently in the job or recently left the job. so nobody can blame him for trying his luck in other countries. He did very well at Twente but so far, not so well at Wolfsburg. Hes the coach of the team, not the manager!The main problem applies for him as it does with all foreign managers, the language barrier. I doubt he was fluent in German when he took the job and in interviews after games i havent seen him speak a single word of German (much like Beckham trying to speak spanish while in Madrid). Things havent gone well for him so for and the selling of their best striker is definetly not going to help his cause!He is an established coach, maybe not manager, as many of you have said.
    Now onto the topic of Adebayor. As an Arsenal fan, i hate his mentality, but you can't say hes a bad player. He had one great season for us, then there was a lot of talk of him going to AC Milan (whether it was AC trying to get him, or his agent saying this and that: Adebayor never came out and said he wanted to stay; instead he flirted with the idea a little too much!). After this great season, we gave him a higher wage contract and from there on his performances gradually got worse and worse. Someone by the name of "VAMOS" has commented saying that the fans constant booing of him led to his downfall. There is some truth in this, but as a fan, if a player is given a new contract worth much more money and then puts in no effort, surely its in your right to boo. I cant say i was one of the people booing, but i could definetly understand it (i for one dont agree with booing a player of the team you support). Adebayor has all the attributes required to be a top player: good finisher, strong and powerful, good header, he has some skills (as he showed against arsenal when playing for city), his only problem is that he needs to feel love and appreciation; not only from the fans but also from the manager. I think a coach like mourinho can fill him with confidence, but if he doesn't start his supposed madrid career with a bang, then the fans will definetly get on his back!Fans in the Bernabeau are not the most forgiving!
    In my opinion, Adebayor will not suit the style of play that mourinho has installed at Madrid. I think he is better off staying at City. If he doesn't get games, then he should leave in the summer (as he would get a good pre-season in with his new team). He has had a few niggling injuries this season which hasnt helped him cause, but Mancini constantly playing with the 3holding players doesnt help either. Even when he puts Jo on, he usually operates on the left flank rather than as a striker. I think a combination of Tevez and Adebayor upfront could be a very potent attack

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  • 52. At 6:51pm on 05 Jan 2011, try_to_be_fair wrote:

    Rumour had it, at the time, that McLaren went to Twente after taking advice from the late Sir Bobby Robson, who felt that he could better re-build his career and credibility at that level and away from the spotlight of the British media. Events would seem to indicate that Sir Bobby was right.

    Unfortunately, it seems that McLaren began to get ideas above his station after some success with Twente and, no doubt also keen to increase his salary, believed he could step up a level to Wolfsburg.

    Oh how many managers have so deluded themselves (witness Allardyce after Bolton, as just one example). It's just a pity Sir Bobby wasn't still able to be consulted. Better "a big fish in a small pool" sometimes!

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  • 53. At 7:39pm on 05 Jan 2011, Jamin82 wrote:

    As a Boro fan I'm glad to see Steve Mc trying to resurrect his career. I was probably one of the few that liked him as a manager and would have him back now.
    Drooper - Steve Mc facts will show he was the most successful manager in our history. His success was built year on year. The season he took over he had to stabilise after the season before. Then the 2003/2004 season he won us our first trophy to qualify for Europe for the first time. Where the next season we finished in our highest league position ever of 7th to qualify again for Europe, which we also had a decent run in in that season. That then lead to the next season of going all the way to the final of the UEFA Cup. Though league position was compromised due to the cup run. We were also not the nouveau riches at the time as the majority of the squad were loans and free's. Though he did splash out a times often to disastrous effect i.e. Maccarone. As for the leason taught by Arsenal one game does not make a managerial career as he actually had a very good record against the top teams. The problem was the inability to kill games of and not concede silly and late goals.

    At the time he was also the best of a bad bunch as I seem to remember people, possibly like the people on here, and the press making a call for an English man to be in charge. Some people need to be careful what they wish for. You cant complain when you get what you want and it goes wrong.

    Try_to_be_fair - how is he deluded by trying to better himself? Is that what not we do in life? Especially footballers wanting to play against bigger and better teams by aiming for promotion or getting a transfer? What is wrong with him as a manager wanting to do that instead of going stale and stagnating?

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  • 54. At 8:47pm on 05 Jan 2011, Nickynak wrote:

    Shteve Mclaren is a coach more than a manager, as a few commenters here have pointed out.He doesn't get respect from a lot of big-time players as his experiences at England and Wolfsburg are proving.

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  • 55. At 11:11pm on 05 Jan 2011, Dave Stewart wrote:

    I'm really not sure it would be a good idea for Shteve McClaren to come back to England. Regardless of the fact that so many England fans haven't forgiven him, I'm not sure anyone would understand him anyway. His Yorkshire/Durch accent was confusing enough; throw in a touch of German, and I'm truly lost.

    #18 - you are the written word's answer to David Pleat. Adebayor, Chamakh and Bendtner

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  • 56. At 12:34pm on 06 Jan 2011, inoffapost wrote:

    Came to this blog a bit late, but better that than never.
    To give some perspective, as a fan, living in Germany, it' worth noting that the man under whom Wolfsburg had their greatest success - Felix Magath - has had a similar struggle with Schalke this year. They were even bottom for a couple of weeks, but he now has them moving up the table.

    Magath insists the players do things his way, and he is in sole control. Schalke, Bayern, Hamburg and Bremen have all had poor first halves of the season. During this time some of the less fancied clubs - Frankfurt, Mainz and Hannover have flourished.

    So Wolfsburg are not alone. Mclaren is not alone. Stuttgart are trying their 3rd trainer this season, in just 17 games!

    Wolfsburg were a logical next step for Mclaren and I was interested to see him do well there. It hasn't worked out. There are a number of 'prima donna' footballers in the Bundesliga and W-burg have more than their share. If Hoeness had the bottle he should stick with Mclaren. He is not a bad coach. His methods will bear fruit. He has been quoted time and again here that the players do not play as they have been instructed to. Maybe it is a language problem, but I doubt it. W-burg have a number of foreigners and it is normal for English to be the common language.

    Wolfsburg is not a 'big' club in the true sense. Well supported and well funded but by no means a major player. They have had some success and now they have lofty expectations when realistically top half table finishes should be the norm.

    Right now they are not performing to that level, but removing the dissenting influences in the dressing room would be a good start. Many blogs here have said Mclaren is a good coach but a poor manager. That shouldn't be an issue here then because his only role here is the coaching one. It is Hoeness' job to manage the players and the clubs affairs.

    I for one wish Mclaren well in the second phase of the Bundelsiga season. I hope he can turn it around and get Hoeness to rethink his longer term plans. Mclaren should be the right man for W-burg.

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  • 57. At 1:24pm on 06 Jan 2011, Roondog wrote:

    A few points to make about the other comments made about this blog. Firstly I would never question a signing by Mourinho, I also think Adebayor is a class player - In the right team can be one of the worlds best and this was shown at Arsenal, who have yet to replace him.

    Steve McClaren is a decent manager at club level but this proves he cannot make it work with a top team. Lets be fair - this guy chose Stuart Downing, Jermain Jenas, Keiran Richardson, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Micheal Carrick instead of David Beckham for the 2008 Euro's!!! Plank!!!

    He included the 2nd tallest player in the competition in his squad as a striker and then left out the best dead ball player in the world. Where is the sense in that????

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  • 58. At 3:37pm on 06 Jan 2011, Martyn wrote:

    @ 39 I agree being a good no 2 doesnt make you a good no 1, my point was merely to suggest that what other posters were alluding to about McClaren couldn't be true as there is no way Ferguson would have employed him if they were.

    @ 57 Arsenal have never replaced Henry! Adebayour certainly didn't. Chamahk looks a better all round prospect. Not taking Beckham does seem odd, at least one of those alternatives you listed could have made room for him. However, it was the European championships so a good place to try and give younger players experience of international tournament football. Perhaps this was McClarens brief. Perhaps he knew England had little chance of winning it anyway.

    It will be interesting to see what will happen with England at the next Euro's as Beckham won't be the only player past his best. Will the same old 30 somethings be put on the field to face the German's, the Dutch and the Spanish or will Capello do something similar and leave the 'big' names at home. Will the proven Capello be given the same treatment by the media as McClaren when England are played off the park by everyone?

    As in my previous post, I believe it is totally wrong to draw conclusions about the managerial ability of anyone who has managed England over the past 12 years or so as the players have not been good enough.

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  • 59. At 3:39pm on 06 Jan 2011, Scott Jones wrote:

    Wasn't Robinho signed on the last day of the SUMMER transfer window?

    As for Anelka's wilderness years, what you mean 90% of his career? Like Adebayor, regardless of their dubious talents and the goals they score I wouldn't want my club to touch a player like that even with a very long bargepole.

    On the subject of Shhteve Mclaren, I regard him as a top manager and I think the question that proves is talents is 'Who was the last English manager before him to actually win a top flight league title?'

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  • 60. At 4:38pm on 06 Jan 2011, SportsFan wrote:

    I think it will good for him if he gets sacked at Wolfsburg and return to the premier league in England. From the matches last night in the premier league, it looks like there will be 3 managers losing their jobs soon and McClaren is a good enough managee to replace any of them

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  • 61. At 6:44pm on 06 Jan 2011, gpmurtle wrote:

    @57 Think you must be mistaken somewhere regarding Euro 2008 seeing as England didn't qualify!!

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  • 62. At 02:43am on 07 Jan 2011, Cannons of Rhetoric wrote:

    Hope everything goes well for McClaren in the second half of the season...Adebayor to Malaga please, anywhere but the Premier League

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  • 63. At 09:03am on 07 Jan 2011, tomefccam wrote:

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

  • 64. At 09:09am on 07 Jan 2011, tomefccam wrote:


    It is amusing to see the Arsenal fans undermining the ability of Adebayor. Just because he left the club and didn't "connect with the fans" does not make him a bad player. I have even seen suggestions that Chamakh is a better prospect. At an older age than EA and with less achievements I seriously doubt this is true.

    Yes there will be bitterness in how he left and goaded the Arsenal fans but this does not make him any less able. Step into the real world. Adebayor was never an Arsenal fan and saw professionally that his loyalty would be with the employer who paid him most.

    At Everton we had a player in Wayne Rooney who was a massive Evertonian, yet continues to rile blues fans every time he plays against us. This despite his family being Everton season ticket holders!

    Does this make him a bad player? Certainly not.

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  • 65. At 12:04pm on 07 Jan 2011, Council Juice wrote:

    I hope McLaren manages to turn it around at Wolfsburg. He deserves to show alot of his critics in the English game that whilst he endured a torrid time as Englands commander and chief he's a fairly good coach and his teams gnerally try to play attacking attractive football. I think his reputation in England will always be tainted by the famous umbrella stance during the woeful and fateful (in his case) performance against Croatia at Wembley. He doesn't get the credit deserved for having the bottle to drop Beckham who was both out of form and out of the team at Madrid. Perhaps he could have got him back in sooner (Beckham played some of his best ever football during his final months at Real) but the fact he had his own mind, and done lets face it, what most fans and pundits were pleased with at the time (until it didn't quite work) shows that he has some positives even during that ill fated reign.

    Even putting all that aside, who can forget his transitional dutch accent (you should find it on youtube) Hilarious!

    I think Man City are on to a winner with Dzeko, despite the hefty price tag. The player is tall, strong and quick with a good eye for goal.
    I've never really rated Adebayor, even when he playing his best stuff at Arsenal (Im no Arsenal fan) He's very much what I've come to describe as a fair weather player. He'll bang in a few against a couple of lower end Premiership teams and in some "easier" European games but when the big team come calling or the team or himself are not in top gear he goes missing. I could never for the life of me work out why Man City were willing to part with £24 million for him (or £14m for Toure for that matter) when he offers nowhere near that value for money. Real Madrid would be better hanging on to their misfit Benzema than splashing out on something much worse in Adebayor.

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  • 66. At 1:16pm on 07 Jan 2011, Epic Bale wrote:

    McLaren is a typical example of a 'quite good' football manager. He was good for Middlesbrough, horrible for England, good for Twente and now seems fairly disastrous for Wolfsburg. Time and time again we see managers find success at one club and fail to find it at another - it is a rare thing to see consistently successful managers (Mourinho obviously, but the likes of Coyle, Bruce and Redknapp ought not to be discounted).

    Personally, if I was Steve McLaren and I'd found the success he found at Twente, I would have been tempted to stay there. Look at Ferguson and Wenger in the Premiership - their loyalty combined with success, even taking into account Arsenal's five year trophy drought, has made them virtually unsackable. By contrast the ruthlessness of Roman Abramovich and potentially Sheik Mansour means that clubs like Chelsea and City have the potential to make, but also break a manager's reputation. The England job should absolutely be included in that bracket, though to 'make' your career you'd surely have to win an international tournament!

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