Steve McClaren has been given a character reference from one of Sunderland’s most illustrious managers.

In 1991 Malcolm Crosby was assistant to Denis Smith at Roker Park and when the mackem sacked their manager, Crosby got the job.

The period coincided with the rise of Newcastle United under Kevin Keegan and whilst Sunderland finished 18th in Division Two in 1991/92 and then 21st in the second tier the following season, NUFC bounced back from near disaster to walk that league in 1992/93 and match into the Premier League.

Meanwhile, Crosby was sacked in February 1993 and Terry Butcher just kept Sunderland up by one point.

Malcolm Crosby was christened ‘Willy Wonka’ by Newcastle fans due to his Gene Wilder hairstyle and it was an entertaining episode in Tyne/Wear rivalry.

Moving on though, Malcolm Crosby has now just been named as Gateshead’s new manager and not surprisingly given his former boss and mate a decent character reference:

“It will be good having Steve (McClaren) just over the water because obviously we worked together at Oxford and Middlesbrough, he’s a good man and a good manager.

“He’s certainly one of the best coaches I have worked with because he organises teams well and gets the best out of players.”

Crosby hardly has the most glittering CV so ranking Steve McClaren as one of the best he has worked with, hopefully isn’t the clincher for Mike Ashley to hand him the job.

Good luck to Gateshead with their major changes and let’s hope Steve McClaren proves he’s a good manager and  a good coach, being a good man would be a bonus.