McClaren faces final hurdle as he aims to make Twente history

Euro Zone

The renaissance of the English football manager could continue tomorrow as Steve McClaren's Twente go in search of a victory that would win them the Dutch Eredivisie title.

After Roy Hodgson led Fulham to the Europa League final, McClaren could book his place in next season's Champions League if his side can match whatever result Martin Jol's Ajax manage in the last game in the Dutch league.

There will be no fancy Premier-League style helicopter hovering between grounds, so with Twente top with a point more than Ajax, the genuine silverware will be at the Rat Verlegh Stadium for their game against NAC Breda. And a copy of the trophy will be at the Goffertstadion where Ajax play NEC Nijmegen, just in case Twente slip up.

McClaren knows all about falling at the final hurdle: he was, of course, the hapless rain-drenched manager who looked forlornly on as the England team were beaten by Croatia 3-2 at Wembley in November 2007, ensuring that they failed to qualify for Euro 2008. Twente will not have it easy against a NAC Breda side who can still get into the qualifying rounds of next season's Europa League if they can pick up the three points.

McClaren's opponents will also have a massive financial incentive to do Ajax a favour. In the Netherlands it is not illegal to offer other teams a cash bonus to win their matches and Ajax have all but confirmed they plan to pay NAC Breda if they can beat Twente and deny them the title.

Dutch neutrals have been split by an historic allegiance to the country's most famous and most popular club and a soft spot for McClaren who is seen as an English gentleman of the game in much the same way that Bobby Robson, the last English coach to win a league abroad with Porto in 1996, was viewed when he coached PSV.

Ajax have a vastly superior goal difference, boosted by having scored 102 goals in 33 matches so far this season and conceded only 19. But without being anywhere near as spectacular, Twente have been ruthlessly efficient, losing just two games all season. A win tomorrow would be the first trophy in the club's history and be very bad news for fallen giants Ajax, who, by contrast with their rivals, have won 29 Dutch titles and been champions of Europe on four occasions.

Second place in the Netherlands condemns a side to two daunting knock-out rounds before the Champions League proper begins. Twente were runners-up last year but could not get past Sporting Lisbon, who in turn failed to beat Fiorentina, underling the intense nature of the competition before the group stages of Europe's premier competition have even begun.

Not contesting the European Cup is a fate fans are desperate to avoid because they know a lack of Champions League football next season would probably see the Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez move on in the summer, although Jol is expected to stay, with the club keen for him to build on a spectacular second half of the season and not be compelled to change coaches for a sixth time in the last four years.

Winning the league would put McClaren, who will be 49 on Monday, back on the radar of a host of English clubs although the lure of leading Twente into their first-ever Champions League campaign might be too much to walk away from.

Messi aims to bounce back on tough trip for Barça

Barcelona take their fragile one-point lead over Real Madrid to Villarreal tonight, a venue where they have lost five of their last seven encounters. Leo Messi, who hasn't scored for three games, will be looking for his first goal against a side who need a win themselves to secure a European place for next season.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week