The relief of finally getting somebody who wasn’t John Carver, has given Steve McClaren significant breathing space that he might not otherwise have got.
Six months of a worldwide chase eventually brought us to an out of work recent Championship manager who lives 30 miles down the road.
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McClaren reportedly having already turned Ashley down twice and the reality being, that if Derby had won promotion then he wouldn’t even have considered Newcastle.
Of course I want Steve McClaren to do well. After all, I was desperate for Graeme Souness, Sam Allardyce and many others down the years to bring Newcastle success, even though I felt physically sick when they were appointed.
The thing is, as Newcastle fans…if you are of a certain age, we have seen a decent amount of Steve McClaren and in particular his Middlesbrough team of 2001-2006.
I hate to say it but I can’t remember a single person back in the day saying ‘You know what, that Boro team are great to watch, if only we had Steve McClaren…’.
It’s not like Middlesbrough were the poor neighbours of Newcastle at the time, whilst McClaren was there, the club owner Steve Gibson continued to pour money into the team, as he had done with Bryan Robson
It brought little reward in reality apart from the League Cup, though there again anybody can put together a handful of matches to win a cup sometime….apart from Newcastle United of course.
The five Premier League seasons under Steve McClaren at Middlsbrough brought the following placings in the league, with Newcastle’s position in brackets:
2001/02 12th (4th)
2002/03 11th (3rd)
2003/04 11th (5th)
2004/05 7th (14th)
2005/06 14th (7th)
When Steve McClaren was named as England boss he’d fought off tough competition form the likes of Sam Allardyce and Alan Curbishley, after Luiz Felipe Scolari had turned down the chance. His time in charge of the national team was of course disastrous.
Back to Middlesbrough though, what legacy did Steve McClaren leave them?
Well as I said earlier, significant money was spent in his time at Boro but I wonder if Mike Ashley has really looked at what Steve McClaren did just down the road.
The following 11 players all played a part in Steve McClaren’s final season at Middlesbough, 6 of them played over 40 matches each that season and the other 5 players had 88 appearances between them.
The player’s age at the end of that 2005/06 season is in brackets:
Gareth Southgate (35)
Mark Schwarzer (35)
Michael Reizinger (33)
Abel Xavier (33)
Ugo Ehiogu (33)
George Boateng (30)
Gaizka Mendieta (32)
Ray Parlour (33)
Mark Viduka (30)
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (34)
The reality is, Steve McClaren’s only experience of building a team in the Premier League was to use the club owner’s money to pay over the top wages for proven players who had no resale value.
Could you possibly have a greater clash of philosophies with how Mike Ashley sees a football club being run?
I hope I’m proved wrong but I see Steve McClaren and Newcastle United coming together through desperation.
An out of work manager whose last two jobs were failure at Championship Nottingham Forest and then sacked by Championship Derby County.
As for Newcastle United, most of us have the definite impression that the club’s name is poison throughout football these days, with no credible manager giving the club serious thought.
Out of this car crash of an arrangement can success really be the result?
What will Mike Ashley be willing to do differently and what will Steve McClaren be able to do differently, compared to what both have shown in the Premier League previously?
I keep looking at the club now as a bit like a jigsaw with too many missing pieces.
Ashley and McClaren had better start a frantic search down the back of the sofa for them, or else last season might appear almost enjoyable compared to what could be coming next.