Could Steve McLaren Be The Next England Manager?

Sports WriterCorrespondent IApril 18, 2010

LONDON - AUGUST 12:  England manager Steve McLaren watches from the stands during a Pre Season Friendly Match between Tottenham Hotspur and Real Sociedad at White Hart Lane on August 12, 2006 in London, England.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Warren Little/Getty Images

Who was the last English manager to win a top-tier European league title? The answer is Roy Hodgson the winner of the Danish Superliga in 2001. Ever since Howard Wilkinson's Leeds won the league title in 1992 there has been a dearth of successful English managers at the highest level of the game.

There has been no shortage of unsuccessful English managers in the Premiership, Bryan Robson, Peter Reid, Gareth Southgate, Roy Evans, and Stuart Pierce have all been tried, tested, and ultimately found wanting.

At even the slightest suggestion of an Englishman enjoying Premier League success the FA comes a calling. First Terry Venables, then Glenn Hoddle, then Kevin Keegan, and finally Steve Mclaren. Of these men Venables was the only one to have actually won a league title as a manager. Many of the others were appointed by virtue of being the best of a bad bunch with English nationality often appearing a prerequisite in the selection process.

Apart from Venables, none of them enhanced their reputation with their stints in charge of the National Team and none of them would enjoy any success as a manager after managing England. That is until Steve Mclaren was surprisingly appointed as manager of Dutch side FC Twente two years ago.

Already vilified by the UK media for his disappointing stint in charge of England, McLaren was widely mocked for an interview he gave soon after arriving in Holland in which he spoke in broken English, appearing to have adopted a Dutch accent.

Once the newspapers had finished ridiculing McLaren they forgot about him, the FC Twente job being about as significant as the Tranmere job in the eyes of the English media. A spell away from the spotlight seems to have been the making of McLaren though. FC Twente finished second in the Dutch league in his first season in charge and reached the final of the Cup, only losing to Heerenven in a penalty shootout.

The team has progressed even further in McLaren's second season and they currently sit at the summit of Dutch football on course for their first Eredivisie win since 1926. It would represent a remarkable achievement for McLaren, who has been credited with introducing a more patient style to the side's play.

It would also make him arguably the top English manager in the world. Roy Hodgson deserves a a lot of credit for taking Fulham to the verge of a Europa Cup final and Harry Redknapp has been a huge success at Tottenham, who are on the brink of Champions League qualification under his guidance. Both these commendable achievements would pale into insignificance though if McLaren could lead FC Twente to their first Eredivisie title in almost 80 years.

McLaren was not ready for the responsibility of International management the first time around. Leading mid-table Middlesbrough to league cup victory and a UEFA Cup final did not give him the necessary experience for arguably the most demanding job in the footballing world.

With the England debacle behind him, a hugely successful stint in Holland has elevated his status immeasurably. It appears the lessons he has learned from his unhappy England experience have made made him a much better manager. 

The top clubs in Europe will be watching his managerial career with increasing scrutiny and success in Holland will eventually leave to bigger and better things for McLaren. Could his first stint as England manager prove not to be his last? The man the English media made into a laughing stock might well be about to have the last laugh.