Steve McClaren has returned to English football, as a coach at Queen’s Park Rangers, for the first time since he left Nottingham Forest in October 2011, with his long-term aim being the England Under-21s manager’s job.
McClaren met Harry Redknapp last month after the QPR manager decided he wanted some fresh impetus among his coaching staff following relegation from the Premier League last season. His two stalwarts, Joe Jordan and Kevin Bond, are still working with the first team, although Steve Cotterill, only a temporary appointment last season, has now left the club.
McClaren, 52, has not worked since he left FC Twente in February following a less successful second spell at the Dutch club. Despite being the last English manager to win a European league title – the Eredivisie with Twente three years ago – he has struggled to shake off the stigma of his time as England manager.
Taking the England Under-21s job having managed the senior team would be an unusual move, but it is a role that McClaren feels his skills as a coach are suited to. After the dismal performance of the Under-21s at the European Championships under Stuart Pearce this summer – they lost all three games – the new appointment has become a significant decision for the Football Association.
The governing body does not expect to make a decision until Greg Dyke, the new chairman, is well-established in the job. The Under-20s’ group stage elimination at their age-group World Cup finals last month has added to the debate about the strength of England at junior levels. Another former England manager, Glenn Hoddle, has also suggested he would be interested in the Under-21s role.
In the meantime, McClaren said he regarded the QPR post as a way of keeping in touch with the game. He said: “Whilst it still remains my ambition to manage again, this gives me an ideal opportunity to stay involved and work on the field with one of the top managers in this country and a very ambitious club. Rest assured, I’ll be doing all I can for Harry, the club and the fans to help QPR return to the Premier League.”
QPR centre-back Christopher Samba is on the verge of rejoining Anzhi Makhachkala for £12m. The 29-year-old was signed from the Russian club in January but just six months on, Samba is understood to be close to a return for the same fee.