Steve McClaren will announce his England squad to face Spain today in the wake of a bizarre personal attack on him by his former Middlesbrough striker Massimo Maccarone who yesterday went to extraordinary lengths to settle scores with his former manager.
The Italian contacted national newspapers to describe the England manager as "the ever smiling Steve 'Magnificent' McClaren the most two-faced and false person I have ever had the misfortune to meet in football" after completing a free transfer to Siena last month. The remarks were made in a fax written by Maccarone in which he attacked his treatment in England.
In 2002, McClaren paid £8.1m, Middlesbrough's record transfer fee, for the Italian after he starred in the Under-21 European Championships but Maccarone never fulfilled his promise in the Premiership.
While McClaren is not the only target for Maccarone, who also criticised Boro's new manager, Gareth Southgate, he bore the brunt of the Italian's frustrations yesterday. "Only in England could they appoint someone with such limitations to become national coach," Maccarone said in a four-page missive.
He added that McClaren should have concentrated on "his own players' mentality instead of wasting so much time trying to understand the English Press. I was shocked and disgusted by the way he treated me. In the month before the  Carling Cup final he told me that I was being rested and not playing so that I was ready for my starting role in the final.
"He told me that I was his No 1. I played zero minutes in that final and when it was over all he could say was 'I know, I know'."
Maccarone said Boro training was "25 years out of date" and berated the nutritionalists for simply giving him vitamin tablets. He criticised the standards of medical care and said he was the subject of "ridicule" when, as a substitute, he requested a hot water bottle.
Kieron Dyer and Jonathan Woodgate will be named in McClaren's squad, but it will be the left side that proves most problematic in the absence of Ashley Cole and Joe Cole. It could be here that McClaren experiments with untried names.
The England Under-21 Leighton Baines is favourite for a call-up as an understudy to Wayne Bridge at left-back and Aston Villa's Gareth Barry would also be a possibility for the role. Villa's new £9.65m signing Ashley Young is an outsider. It is a measure of the shortage of established English left-backs in the Premiership that Celtic's Lee Naylor has also been mentioned.
The call-ups of Dyer, 28, and Woodgate, 27, mark a reprieve for two unfulfilled talents, who made international debuts in 1999, but whose careers have been littered with injuries.Reuse content