McClaren 'sacked' by spin doctor Clifford

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The Independent Football

Things went from bad to worse for beleaguered England manager Steve McClaren last night when it appeared that he had been axed by legendary spin doctor Max Clifford.

According to reports, the media guru has dropped McClaren from his client list, arguing that it is a hopeless task to advise a man with the " impossible job".

Clifford's decision to cut short his £200,000-a-year commission to help McClaren after just three months comes on the back of McClaren's cancellation of a media-related trip to Seattle to study the methods of an NFL coach.

Clifford said: "It's a shame as I was convinced there were aspects of the job I could help him with but I find myself unable to do so.

"The America trip is a perfect example. When we first spoke, Steve told me he would stand up for himself at the FA and not fall into the same trap as Sven. But then this trip is off. How can it suddenly be the wrong thing to do? It illustrates the FA are calling the shots so there is no point me being involved."

McClaren also came under attack from the unlikely source of former Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, who claimed that McClaren dumped David Beckham from the England team because of "a personality clash". Bosnich was an Old Trafford team-mate of Beckham when McClaren was a coach there, the trio being together at the club from 1999 to 2001.

Bosnich said: "From my days at United I know there is a personality clash between McClaren and Beckham and it's more to do with McClaren. At the end of the day, he is the England manager and he has got to do the best for England. He should put that aside, and [Beckham] should have been involved. Six months ago he was captain of a team that was tipped to lift the World Cup and now he is not even getting in the side."

Bosnich added: "Alex Ferguson always said that you don't have to like all your players. There is a midfield crisis and [Beckham] is still one of the best midfielders in the world yet he is not even mentioned about getting picked, that's not right."

Bosnich is only 34, still of a playing age for a goalkeeper, but he has been out of the game since 2002 when he was sacked by Chelsea after testing positive for cocaine. He has since been involved in Sky TV's The Match.

Beckham was dropped for McClaren's first squad in August and has remained out of contention even though Steven Gerrard, Owen Hargreaves, Aaron Lennon and Joe Cole were all unavailable for the midweek defeat in Croatia.

However, since Beckham himself has not been able to gain a starting place at Real Madrid, his omission has not been controversial. He is, though, expected to start tonight when Real visit Getafe.

There is no previous evidence of a problem between McClaren and Beckham despite their working together, at United or England, for most of the last seven years. However, in his autobiography, Beckham is somewhat scathing when he recalls first noticing McClaren in a match at Old Trafford when McClaren was a coach at Derby. Beckham wrote: "I can still see him, perched on the edge of the dug-out with his notebook. He was scribbling like mad at the same time as chattering away non-stop. I played wide on that side of the pitch for one half and could hear everything. Blimey, mate, do you ever shut up?"

Elsewhere, Beckham is more effusive but given the book was written while McClaren was England's assistant coach, he was hardly likely to be candid.