Steve ‘under the umbrella’ McClaren not interested in Hammers
West Ham’s plan to lure Steve McClaren back into English football appears doomed to fail because he was the club’s second choice behind Mark Hughes.
The Hammers have identified former England manager McClaren as the man to replace Gianfranco Zola at the end of the season after ex-Manchester City boss Hughes rejected an approach.
McClaren is currently in demand from some of Europe’s most prestigious clubs after his success at FC Twente, an unfashionable club he has taken to within one win of the Dutch title, playing adventurous and entertaining football.
The 48-year-old has only a year to run on his contract and looks set to move on this summer, but he appears in no hurry to return to England, despite the fact his family still live here.
Sporting Lisbon and Hamburg are among those tracking him, but he will choose his next step carefully, knowing further success abroad would boost his chances of landing a job with a big English club.
West Ham have made no formal move to speak to McClaren or Twente but have made their interest known through agents.
Zola is expected to remain in charge until the end of the season but his fate appears sealed, with co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold keen to instal an experienced British manager in the summer.
Hughes has already been sounded out, but the Welshman’s demands proved too expensive, both in terms of salary and the huge backroom staff he wanted to bring in with him.
The former City manager, sacked in December to make way for Roberto Mancini, also believes his stock remains high enough to command a bigger job if there is a managerial reshuffle in the summer.
West Ham’s clear preference for Hughes does not impress McClaren, who can boast more coaching experience and more success, and the pecking order supports the argument that modern English football values style above substance.
McClaren won the Treble as a coach at Manchester United and the Carling Cup as a manager at Middlesbrough. He reached the UEFA Cup final at Boro and introduced talented local players into the first team, like Stewart Downing, Lee Cattermole and Adam Johnson.
Hughes did a good job at Blackburn and may have been unfortunate to lose his position at City, but he has yet to win a trophy.
McClaren’s two years in charge of England did not go well as the team failed to qualify for Euro 2008, but he has rebuilt his confidence and his career in Holland.
‘I’m not frightened of failure any more because after the failure with England I’ve seen the ultimate,’ said McClaren last week. ‘It didn’t kill me and I thought: “Well, what more can they throw at me?”‘
Twente are a point clear of Ajax, managed by former Spurs boss Martin Jol, at the top of the Dutch league, with one game to play.
A win at NAC Breda a week on Sunday will clinch the title and a place in next season’s Champions League. It also means McClaren will become the first Englishman to win a major European league since Sir Bobby Robson won the Portuguese title with Porto in 1996.
Such an outcome may complete his rehabilitation from a national figure of fun, but McClaren has no intention of rushing hastily back to the country which ridiculed him. It would take a massive charm offensive and a lucrative offer for McClaren to change his mind and join West Ham, the club he rejected when he embarked upon his managerial career in 2001.
McClaren opted for Boro, citing the advice of Sir Alex Ferguson, who told him not only to choose a good club but to choose a good chairman. That advice will still ring true when he considers his options at the end of the season.
It will not be lost on McClaren that Zola has been regularly undermined by public comments from West Ham’s co-owners.
After Monday ‘s 3-0 defeat at Liverpool, Zola apologised to West Ham fans. ‘None of us are pleased about this performance,’ he said.
‘I’m sorry we couldn’t offer more and it’s vital that we don’t make the same mistakes on Saturday. We all know how important the Wigan game is. We will be ready. We have four days to prepare and we will be doing it in the best way possible.’
West Ham have Scott Parker back after suspension and Luis Boa Morte fit to face Wigan, although Carlton Cole is a slight doubt.