Saturday, June 10, 2023

The ‘wally with the brolly’ is back!

The wally with the brolly

So, the ‘Wally with the brolly’ is back in the English game as a manager. Steve McClaren has been appointed as the new boss at Championship side Nottingham Forest. Former manager Billy Davies was sacked yesterday after leading the club to two consecutive play-off campaigns ending in failure.


It had been rumoured that McClaren may have been first choice for Aston Villa but that fan unrest had led them to look elsewhere. I’m afraid that McClaren’s pitiful spell in charge of the England national team has left his position as a manager as untenable to a large group of English football fans.

Of course, that is hugely unfair. McClaren enjoyed great success as a coach at Derby and alongside Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. He was reasonably successful in club management at Middlesbrough where he led them to a UEFA Cup final and went on to win the Eridivisie as manager of FC Twente. His last role was a disappointing short spell with Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga.


Despite his relative success, it is that qualifying campaign for Euro 2008 and particularly that awful rainy night at Wembley when England lost 3-2 to Croatia and failed to qualify, that most fans associate with McClaren. It is also the strange spectacle of McClaren speaking English with a Dutch accent after he had been at FC Twente for a few months that added to the ridicule in which he is held by many.

That ridicule is largely brought on by McClaren himself and he can blame nobody else for it. However, he can point to what has been a decent career in his defence. He was United’s coach in their treble winning season in 1999 and he led Middlesbrough to the League Cup and a UEFA Cup final. That achievement can be seen for what it was by looking at where the club are now. After his humiliation with England McClaren didn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself. Instead he took on a new challenge of managing overseas and achieved remarkable success at Twente.


He then challenged himself again by moving to Germany, but that unfortunately didn’t work out.

Now, it seems that McClaren has had lucrative offers to return to The Netherlands but has chosen to take less money to try to resurrect his career in England. I say, ‘fair play to him’.


There has never been any doubt about his ability as a coach. He has been much sought after and players and managers with whom he has worked could not speak more highly of him. The doubts creep in when discussing his ability as the main man. Despite some of the things he has achieved as the manager, he still has many people that he needs to convince.

I admire him for coming back to England and if I was a Forest fan I think I might be cautiously quite excited by his appointment. The jury is out, but I wish him well.


Graham Fisher



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