After six months of searching for a new head coach, Newcastle are set to appoint Steve McClaren in the coming days according to a number of media sources, including the BBC who rarely report anything lacking substance. McClaren isn’t the appointment that many Newcastle fans were hoping for, but he comes with a great recommendation from Graham Carr and it is believed he will be backed substantially in the transfer market over the coming months.
The former England manager arrives after being sacked by Derby County in the Championship, but Alan Pardew was brought into St James’ Park after being fired by League 1 Southampton, therefore it isn’t surprising that Mike Ashley overlooked McClaren’s sacking by a club lower in the league ladder than Newcastle. Many expected Derby County to be serious challengers for promotion last season and they were for a significant portion of the campaign, but won only two of their last 13 matches, which left the club seeking a different approach for next season.
McClaren has been the frontrunner for the Newcastle job from the start and turned down the post two times prior to the season ending. The speculation linking him to St James’ Park may have played a part in Derby’s fall in the second half of the season. Newcastle have struggled in the second half of the season themselves in recent seasons and fans will be worried about McClaren’s abilities of preventing that from happening again given his final season with the Rams.
The Englishman has had a very odd managerial career to date with Middlesbrough being the only club he has managed in the English top flight, while there have been more failures than successes on his CV. Only his time on Teeside and his first spell in charge of FC Twente can be counted as complete successes, but his spell at Derby showed promise until the beginning of 2015. One of McClaren’s strengths is his coaching ability and he is admired by many in the game for his choice to develop as a manager outside of England, something that few Englishmen do. This job at St James’ Park is likely to be the one that will either make or break his career. It’s clear that he is well liked in the Newcastle boardroom and he will be backed, but he must now show his ability as a top class coach and repay that faith.
He has had big jobs in the past having managed England and Wolfsburg, but he failed to impress in either job and it does cause concerns about his ability to manage big characters. The Newcastle job is a difficult one due to Mike Ashley’s unwillingness to invest substantially, the current mood of the fanbase and the lack of character in the current squad. However there is potential and its fair to say that Alan Pardew didn’t do as well as he should have with the players he had, especially during the 2012/13 campaign when he nearly led Newcastle to relegation.
If as expected McClaren gets the job, he will be coming into the job with a better CV than the last 3 Newcastle managers (Chris Hughton, Alan Pardew and John Carver), but there are still several question marks surrounding his ability as a manager. His role will be head coach and that will suit him better than a traditional manager due to his impressive coaching abilities. Moreover, he had a good relationship with the North East press while at Boro and that should stand him in good stead at Newcastle as Pardew wasn’t helped by his poor relations with the Newcastle press pack. After a poor end to the season for both Newcastle and McClaren, he needs to lead the club to a quick start next season to get the fans on board, or it could be ugly viewing on Tyneside.