Steve McClaren's European Exodus Can Repair His Battered Reputation

Nick DaviesCorrespondent IAugust 19, 2010

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 06:  FC Twente Manager Steve McClaren shows his dejection during the UEFA Cup Group A match between Manchester City and FC Twente at The City of Manchester Stadium on November 6, 2008 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a second to destroy it, or so the saying goes. Steve McClaren had himself a steady reputation as a competent manager, but his infamous spell as England manager saw this shattered and saw McClaren's name become synonymous with incompetence.

Now believe it or not, I am of the minority which felt sorry for McClaren. To my mind, England's failures could not be placed squarely at his door. He struggled to gain the respect of the dressing room and the FA didn't help by announcing he had not been first choice.

This doesn't matter because the vast for the vast majority he was the scapegoat for the dismal failure to qualify for Euro 2008 and he was largely hounded out of the country.

McClaren found himself at FC Twente in the Dutch league, and it was here that his badly damaged reputation slowly began to rebuild. McClaren broke the Dutch monopoly at the top of the league and finished runner-up, then won the Eredevisie title in his two years at the helm.

Still, the British public were wary regarding his victories, the seeming idea "it's only the Dutch league" which are both unfair and inaccurate is fairly common, and the infamous "accented" interview did not help to change a common perception of a buffoon. 

McClaren has now embarked on a new challenge in the German Bundesliga with VFL Wolfsburg, a team who massively underperformed last season, but who have the infrastructure and player quality to challenge for the title, with the right manager of course.  

Here McClaren will work with Edin Dzeko, one of the best strikers in Europe, Grafite his striking partner, craft playmaker Misimovic, and solid defender Arne Friedrich fresh off an impressive World Cup.

If McClaren can make a splash over the next few seasons—and Wolfsburg are capable of winning the title despite some very stern competition—then perhaps, just maybe, he will be able to hold his head high again in England. After all, an English manager hasn't won a top flight league since the early '90s, a fact which puts his accomplishments into a rather chilling perspective. 

Steve McClaren suffered at the hands of the "poison chalice" of the England managers position (the strength of its poison is starting to be noticed by Capello who is palpably no longer the media's darling), but he will now be a stronger and better manager for his experiences good and bad. Football fans have notoriously long memories but he is doing the right things to rebuild his reputation, which may even return to England enhanced if he could return with a title or two.