Friday, June 9, 2023

Sorry, I can’t avoid writing about Steve McClaren anymore!

The wally with the brolly

I have tried really hard not to write about Steve McClaren this season, really I have. Prior to last season I had written any number of articles lambasting him for his horrible, horrible tenure as manager of England. Then, after he took over at FC Twente in the Eridivisie I attacked him for talking English with a ridiculous Dutch accent. I just think the man is a comedian, not deliberately, not a football manager.


Then McClaren went and won the Eridivisie and I had to eat my words and shut up! In fact, in fairness to me, I did give credit where it was due. I accepted that he had done a great job at Twente but maintained that the man must have been lucky or had an exceptional team, because I still didn’t think he could manage his way out of a paper bag!

Well I’m afraid I could fight the desire to write about him again no more.


McClaren made the move from The Netherlands to Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga. The ambitious German club, a subsidiary of car manufacturer Volkswagen, saw McClaren’s success in Holland and thought he was the man to take them to the top in Germany.

After finishing eighth last season Wolfsburg spent around £35 million on players in the Summer in an attempt to take them back to the heights of their Bundesliga winning season the year before. Most German commentators fully expected them to be title contenders.


The minimum target that McClaren was expected to achieve was to finish the season in a European qualification place. In fact, the BBC inform us that World Soccer magazine predicted before the start of the season,

“McClaren is a far better coach than his England critics claim and, provided his German lessons go well, he should be able to achieve European qualification.”


Spanish daily sports newspaper Marca went one step further in their Bundesliga preview,

“Bayern should be champions again as coach Louis van Gaal has complacency as his enemy but Wolfsburg could battle them for the title.”

It hasn’t turned out like that. Could it be that the English critics were actually right?


Last time out, on 19th December, Wolfsburg drew 2-2 at home to Hoffenheim courtesy of a last minute goal. That result meant that they went into the winter break on a run of eight games without a win. They sit thirteenth in the table, just three places and four points above the drop zone. They are some twenty-four points behind runaway leaders Borussia Dortmund after just seventeen games. They have won just four of their seventeen league games under McClaren.

There has apparently been a rebellion by some of the players against McClaren’s tactics and training methods and it is reported that some fans in the stands at the ground have watched games with umbrellas up as a protest against the man famously nicknamed the ‘wally with the brolly’.


In amongst their dreadful run in the league, Wolfsburg were also eliminated from the cup by second division Energie Cottbus. After that game McClaren admitted that they had ‘hit rock bottom’.

Former Germany player Dieter Hoeness is the General Manager at Wolfsburg and he made an unambiguous statement on the club website.


“We have got some cleaning up to do. We told the team eight weeks ago that their basic attitude must change. We did not get a reaction so now we have got to react. The fans do not deserve to see what they are seeing on the pitch, particularly given the exemplary way in which they supported us against Cottbus. We expect the coaches to act consequentially and to punish bad behaviour both on and off the field.”

It would seem then that Hoeness is suggesting that McClaren is failing to manage his players both on and off the pitch. Indeed, McClaren himself has referred to ‘problems in the dressing room’.

For reasons best known to Hoeness, he has kept McClaren in the job for the time being but that may not last for very much longer.


They are about to sell their best player, Edin Dzeko, and they have a really tricky run of games when they return to league action. First up they take on Bayern Munich who have recovered from a poor start to look like title contenders again. Then they travel to Mainz who are currently second in the table and then it is the runaway leaders Dortmund.

It is fairly likely therefore that Wolfsburg will go on a run of eleven games without a win and could find themselves in the relegation zone. Surely if that happens it will be time for some other unfortunate to take McClaren off their hands?

I think World Soccer magazine should be forced to apologise to English critics!!


Graham Fisher



Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Live Scores


Betting Guide Advertisement


Become a Writer
More More
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x