Derby County manager Steve McClaren admits England scars

Pain of national team failure still hurts high-flying Derby manager but, he tells Richard Rae, it was part of a learning process

On the day of the 2014 World Cup draw, Steve McClaren can talk about his experience as England manager with a certain equanimity. That he is able to do so, he adds with the awareness of one accustomed to criticism, is more a function of the passage of time than in any transformation he is effecting in the fortunes of Derby County.

“England left its scars and you have to get over that as an individual,” he says. “Many people forget and move on, but it’s still there. I went abroad and had great experiences and lost myself for a couple of years, but I wanted to come back to England, not to restore my reputation, purely to coach.

“Now I’m just getting on with my job. Through experience I know it’s not the lows that count, it’s how you come back from them, and that’s the message we are passing on to the team here, that we will have disappointments but you just have to get back on the horse. That’s what I’ve done each time and hopefully with success here at Derby.”

In that respect, McClaren appears to have come to terms with the fact his 18 games in charge of the national side, incorporating as they did a miserable failure to qualify for Euro 2008, will probably always  colour people’s opinions of his abilities.

Harder to gainsay, however, are his achievements in domestic football, though it does not stop many trying. Thus the Yorkshireman had little to do with Manchester United winning five major trophies, including the Champions League in 1999, during his time as assistant manager to Alex Ferguson. Winning the League Cup with Middlesbrough and taking the Teesside club to a Uefa Cup final in 2006 was down to chairman Steve Gibson funding a series of expensive acquisitions. He may have guided FC Twente to their first ever Dutch league title, but he failed at Wolfsburg, Nottingham Forest and then on his return to Twente. And so on.

Even now at Derby, where the Rams have won six and drawn one of the eight games they have played since he took over, and moved from 14th to fourth in the Championship, success is being achieved on the back of the work done by former manager Nigel Clough.

Statistics, however, suggest otherwise. Clough’s Derby may have been the division’s top scorers but they conceded goals for fun. McClaren and assistants Paul Simpson and Eric Steele have tightened them up at the back to such effect that in the last four games, all of which have been won, they have conceded only twice.

“Goalscoring is clearly a strength and it comes from different areas, it’s not just one player getting them all, which is a huge thing,” says McClaren. “But we were in the bottom three for conceding and you achieve nothing when you do that, so we’ve tried to address that, to get the balance right.

“As of late we’ve been defending well and that’s the platform. Even in a poor game against Middlesbrough on Wednesday we got that right, while at the same time playing enough football to win.”

“The change [in management] was a big shock for the players, they’ve been asked to adapt very quickly, and to their credit they’ve done that. They’ve taken on board what we’ve asked of them and they deserve all the credit.”

While most Rams supporters would be happy with a play-off place, the rapidity of recent progress has led others to start talking of automatic promotion.  McClaren says he understands the “buzz”, but the nature of the Championship should make everyone cautious.

“We’re nowhere near that stage, absolutely nowhere near. All clubs in this division are capable of going on a run and then falling away, and Derby County have been the same. It’s an inconsistent division and we’re trying to provide and build consistency. If we’re still in this position in March and April, then you can say we are genuine contenders.”

Noting yesterday’s World Cup draw, his reaction tended to the practical. “I was fortunate to do 2002 in Japan [as assistant to Sven Goran Eriksson] when we were based in Kobe for the majority of the tournament, which was a big help.

“Then for the quarter-final [against Brazil] we had to go to Tokyo, it was a full day’s travel and we never recovered from it. At the start of the second half we had no energy.

“There are many facets to a World Cup,  but the one thing I know is the [England] organisation will be top, no detail will be missed. Roy [Hodgson] will have no qualms about that, it’s purely managing the players as individuals, and the team, the energy and their attitudes.”

Which is where his critics will say McClaren fell down, with England at least. At Derby, as experienced defender Richard Keogh acknowledges, the McClaren touch is proving altogether more astute.

“We always had quality in the group brought together by the former manager, and he recognised that. He’s explained where we can improve, changed a few little things, and it’s come together well.”

Well travelled: Mcclaren’s career

1979 Joins Hull from school

1992 Retires after spells with Derby, Bristol City and Oxford 1995 Returns to Derby as assistant to Jim Smith, helping them reach the Premier League

1999 Becomes Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United 2000 Takes on role as coach with England

2001 Moves to Middlesbrough, leading club to 2004 League Cup and 2006 Uefa Cup final

2006 Replaces Sven Goran Eriksson as England manager

2007 Sacked after failing to reach Euro 2008 (below)

2008 Appointed Twente manager, leading them to the title

2010 Takes over at Wolfsburg, but only lasts nine months

2011 Unsuccessful stint at Nottingham Forest before returning to Twente for 13 months

2013 Takes over at Derby

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game