Steve McClaren steps into St James Park for the first time in 11 months.

The former Newcastle United Head coach returning this time as a Manager with Derby County.

Great timing really, Steve McClaren having taken the job at Newcastle back in summer 2015 on the understanding he would be a stooge and have no say on transfers, whilst last (Thursday) night saw claims that Mike Ashley was now trying to move the goalposts with Rafa Benitez.

The owner allegedly having blocked Rafa from signing transfer targets in January and reneging on promises of the Manager having control of transfers.

Away from the never ending politics at St James Park though, Steve McClaren is keen to point out just what a great place it is to play football.

A sold out 52,000+ crowd – McClaren saying that ‘players want to go to places like this and play their football’.

The former NUFC Head Coach describing the Newcastle supporters as ‘fanatics’ and that football is ‘like a religion’ on Tyneside.

To be able to be a success as a player for Newcastle. Steve McClaren believes it takes a ‘certain mentality and be a certain character’.

Maybe that applies at least as much to Managers and Head Coaches, as it does to players…

Steve McClaren speaking to the official Derby website:

“I know all of the players want to go to places like this and play their football.

“Of course, we want to do it in the Premier League. On Saturday we will play in front of a huge crowd in a big ground and be in action before an atmosphere which could be intimidating.

“It will be a taste of what we want in the future, as it was against West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City in the FA Cup. We handled both occasions really well.

“We have to handle what comes with Saturday. We have to believe and have the confidence we can win.

“It’s what the players have to adapt to. We want to go up there, show great courage and attitude to do our work.

“We need to play our game, be professional and do the job. This weekend is a real test of character for us.”

 “They have massive support at Newcastle and they are fanatics. It’s like a religion, it really is.

“The expectation is there and it’s a big shirt to wear – you have to have a certain mentality and be a certain character and player to be able to handle that.”