Steve McClaren, whose career as England's manager ended with the failure to qualify for Euro 2008, has endorsed "absolutely" the Football Association's recent announcement that the next England manager will be English, but also that he should have the skills that he himself is currently acquiring – which raises the intriguing possibility that he could return to the job one day.
McClaren said he loves club football, and working daily with players, but in a discussion on the subject of the England job, and prompted to talk about his own name cropping up as a contender, he did not rule himself out for good.
McClaren lost the England job in November 2007, and the FA replaced him with Fabio Capello, who has confirmed he will step down after Euro 2012. McClaren spent two seasons with FC Twente in the Netherlands, taking them to the first Eredivisie title in their history, in May, and bagging himself a new job in the process, with Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga.
McClaren told The Independent over the weekend that he believes "absolutely" in the principle of the next England manager being English. "I think you can learn a lot from other countries, but it is adapting to the culture, adapting the way the English players are [that's hard for a foreigner]," he said.
Expanding on the qualities needed in England's next manager, he added: "I do think the person needs to be experienced, needs to win things, needs to have experience of Europe. People over the next couple of years will have to try to achieve that because international football is a different proposition to club football. You've seen it with even the top club managers – it's difficult job."
McClaren has not had the best of starts in Germany. Wolfsburg lost 2-0 at Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, having previously lost 4-3 against Mainz (from 3-0 up) and 2-1 to Bayern Munich thanks to a last-minute goal.
McClaren, 49, who built his reputation as a successful coach at Derby and Manchester United before managing Middlesbrough, was asked if he was aware his name is being talked about in regards to England. To which he replied: "What I'm doing is I took a big challenge in Holland and enjoyed that, and I took a bigger one here. At the moment, it's not going so good but I look more long-term. As a coach, trainer, it can still benefit me [working in Germany]."
Of Capello's confirmation that he will leave in 2012, he added: "That's an interesting announcement, that in two years he [Capello] will go. So everyone is clamouring, and you [the media] will all be discussing the subject, but in two years there will be somebody new, some different names."
Three defeats from three put pressure on McClaren going into next weekend's home game with Hannover but a decent season or two and perceptions would rapidly change. The FA does not have too many English candidates who tick all the boxes of being successful and having international experience. Roy Hodgson and perhaps Harry Redknapp (with a good Champions League campaign) would arguably be the strongest candidates but as McClaren said, things can change considerably by 2012.
He also said he thought a winter break would be a positive step for English football overall. "I do think it will help if you ever get the rule for a winter break. Because everywhere I've been – Holland and Germany have one – and you see the benefits. I saw the benefit in my time in Holland just to have that break.
"Even if it's just a week over Christmas, you clear up injuries. It helps, I'm telling you. It really does."