Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Netherlands: McClaren should stay to further Twente cause

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 4, 2010
Steve McClaren

Steve McClaren was ridiculed as the "wally with the brolly" after England's defeat to Croatia

Steve McClaren’s transformation from “wally with the brolly” to championship manager is now complete after his FC Twente side won their maiden Eredivisie title in the Netherlands this weekend. But almost immediately the press is in overdrive with reports that the former Middlesbrough and England coach is being sought after from other European clubs with former Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg the favourites, in some quarters, to get their man. Although McClaren must be flattered to finally receive the recognition that his achievements with the Enschede based outfit deserve one should really advise him to stay with the newly-crowned Dutch champions and further the club’s ambitions as a serious competitor in the UEFA Champions League.

After England’s failure to qualify for the UEFA European Championship in 2008 McClaren was turned into a joke figure from people who saw him standing in the rain with an umbrella as symbolic of a man whose reign as national coach was as equally as damp as the weather which ultimately subjected him to much ridicule. After news came through later of his move to a little known club called FC Twente many people doubted that he would ever find footballing credibility again. This view seemed further enhanced after a now (in)famous interview in which he spoke English in a mock Dutch accent to a female interviewer from the Netherlands who spoke arguably better English than he did. After that comical episode McClaren had to do more to make the doubters eat their words but, little by little, he did that in a way which has won him many admirers for effective attacking football coupled with strong defence.

In his first season, not only were FC Twente outclassed in the UEFA Champions League qualifying round by Arsenal FC, coach McClaren was unlucky to see his side finish as double runners-up in both domestic league and cup. FC Twente would’ve been champions in the 2008-09 season had it not have been for an AZ Alkmaar side which was flourishing under the stewardship of Louis Van Gaal and which eventually strolled to win its second league title by eleven points. The disappointment was doubled for McClaren having lost out in the KNVB Beker (Dutch Cup) final against a Heerenveen side who took them all the way to a penalty shoot-out and defeat McClaren’s side from spot kicks. Thankfully for McClaren his team had gained some useful experiences which they would learn from in his second season plus he would make two inspired inclusions into his side in the form of Costa Rican striker Bryan Ruiz and Miroslav Stoch, a loan signing from English side Chelsea FC. These two players came up some many important goals throughout the campaign to keep the Tukkers one step ahead of the competition in the Eredivisie. McClaren steered his team to a near-perfect home record of 16 wins from 17 games at home, their only blemish was a 1-1 draw against PSV Eindhoven as far back as August, and they lost only two games in the league all season. Despite the heartbreak of another cup defeat, this time in the semi-finals to Feyenoord Rotterdam, McClaren kept his players motivated and they sealed their destiny on the final day of the campaign with a 2-0 win away at NAC Breda.

Steve McClaren FC Twente

Steve McClaren shows off the Eredivisie trophy after FC Twente's 2-0 win over NAC Breda

Now, though, is where the hard bargaining for Steve McClaren’s services begins. Although the German Bundesliga is, without doubt, a higher quality league than its Dutch counterpart one should encourage the Englishman to remain where he is for the time being despite the temptations of a better contract and higher transfer funds elsewhere. After all FC Twente now have guaranteed UEFA Champions League football next season whereas in his first two seasons his team has been just short of qualification, having to make do with the UEFA Cup or Europa League instead. Secondly the chairman of the club Joop Munsterman showed faith in him when everybody else was ridiculing him, allowing McClaren all the time in the world to create a good football side. Finally if he can replicate this success again and prove that it wasn’t a one-off then that will surely bring in the interests of much bigger clubs than VfL Wolfsburg in the future. You never know he may well make a return to the rain-soaked football grounds of England, only this time he will be a winner rather than a wally.

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