Now at the helm of Wolfsburg, another side who recently claimed their first league title, McClaren has completed a remarkable turnaround and is once more revered as a successful European manager, one who has – uncharacteristically for an Englishman – prospered outside of his native land. Even so, for Trevor Brooking to publicly hypothesise “Could Steve do the England job again? I am sure if he continues to be a success his name will be in the frame again”, is little short of sensational. McClaren’s Dutch exploits may have revitalised his continental reputation, the majority of English football fans still view him as the “wally with the brolly”, the latest in a long line of England managers summarily demeaned by pithy headline writers.
Indeed, were the FA to make the bold decision of re-appointing McClaren, he would presumably be greeted with unanimous condemnation rivalling that meted out to Keith Andrews upon his signing for Blackburn. “If you think”, continued Brooking, “that he will be a lot more experienced this time around and he has learnt his lesson, then why not? I wouldn’t rule out anyone. I think it would be very unfair to do that.” As suggestive as Brooking’s comments are, the chances of McClaren being given a second stint remain quite remote. One would assume that the Wolfsburg manager would be behind Harry Redknapp and Stuart Pearce in the pecking order. Redknapp’s desire to manage his country has been well-documented, yet Pearce seems far more reticent to figuratively throw his hat into the ring.
When asked about his aspirations of potentially succeeding Capello, Pearce replied said: “At this moment in time I feel I don’t have enough experience to be the England manager. I enjoy what I do, being in charge of the Under-21s and having the experience with the senior squad…If I am still in charge of the Under-21s tomorrow night, I will be delighted.” The former Manchester City manager, however, did not rule himself out completely. “That experience is getting enhanced day by day”, he claimed, “in a year’s time I will be a better manager than I am today, that’s for sure.” Redknapp and Pearce may not have the track record that Capello does, but if either of them were to succeed the Italian, one would imagine that they would have the support of the English populace. While his credentials are by no means inferior, Steve McClaren’s failure to guide an objectively strong England team to Euro 2008 will not be forgotten by the fans who turned on him two years ago. He may have the backing of certain members of the FA, but – arguably more tellingly, he lacks the popular support of the fans a manager requires to make his position tenable. This, more so than any managerial failings on his part, will ultimately prevent him from having the opportunity of managing his country again.