McClaren sees bright future for England
LONDON, May 5: Steve McClaren will start his reign as the next England manager brimming with self-confidence and the belief he can lead his team to trophy success.
Brushing aside the FA's abortive talks last week with Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and his unpopularity with England fans in polls, McClaren was in bullish mood after being named as Sven-Goran Eriksson's successor yesterday.
The Middlesbrough manager cited his experience as an assistant to Eriksson and previously to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United as key elements of a CV that has won him a four-year contract starting on Aug 1.
''I've got the knowledge, the experience, I've taken part in big games, won big games, been successful at whichever club I've been to and I've worked with the top players.
''And I think that's essential for this job,'' he told reporters.
''It doesn't guarantee success, but I think it's essential going into it to have that experience, knowledge and confidence of working with the top players at top tournaments in top games -- and knowing what it takes to win.
''I believe I've developed that, and have had great help along the way, to make sure I sit here with the right credentials to take the job, to take it forward and to be successful.'' McClaren, who was at United when they lifted the 1999 European Cup in their Treble-winning season, clearly had an edge over his English rivals, Sam Allardyce of Bolton Wanderers and outgoing Charlton Athletic boss Alan Curbishley.
It was of no concern to the 45-year-old that, given the FA's pursuit of Scolari, he may not have been their first choice.
''The FA had to pick the right man for the job and I believe they have,'' he said. ''That's all that matters.
''This is the proudest day of my life...once the opportunity came, there was no way I was going to turn it down.'' Dismissing polls which indicated he was not a popular choice among England fans, he said: ''It's not an issue for me.
''You have ups and downs, good opinions and bad opinions, and it changes week to week, game to game.
''But overall, I am very proud of my record as a coach, as a manager and I have that self-belief that I think you need to bring to a job with a stature like this.'' There was only one way to deal with those sceptical of his appointment, McClaren said. ''Win football matches, do well in tournaments and over the period of my contract win a major tournament.
''We do have a possibility with this squad over the next four years of winning a major tournament. I definitely believe that.'' McClaren, who has guided Boro to next week's UEFA Cup final against Sevilla and is helping Eriksson prepare for the World Cup, recognises those who have helped him.
Though he has learned from being Eriksson's assistant for several years, he said: ''Working with Sir Alex at the the top level for three years was the breakthrough for my career.
''Working at that level, with the top players, gave me the belief and the confidence to work with those players...with England, in big tournaments and big games I've learnt so much.'' Though he revealed that the job had been offered to him on Tuesday, ahead of yesterday's FA Board meeting, McClaren gave few insights into how he would shape his England.
He would not be drawn on David Beckham's future as England captain, though his endorsement of the Real Madrid midfielder was hardly ringing.
''That is something I don't want to discuss here, I don't think it's right to discuss here,'' he said. ''We've got a World Cup coming up....and he's captain at the present moment under Sven.'' McClaren's appointment ended a difficult week for the FA, whose chief executive Brian Barwick was mauled by sections of the press over his handling of Scolari, who pulled out of the race on Friday citing media intrusion.
''It made for a couple of difficult days for us, and then we moved on,'' Barwick said. ''He was a person we had a great deal of interest in but we also had a great deal of interest in several other candidates...we never offered him a contract.'' Asked if the criticism had made him consider resigning, Barwick said: ''Of course, I didn't.
''It was quite tough to read some of it. It was definitely full-on criticism of the Football Association over the weekend, and by association, my tenureship as chief executive.
''Some of he stuff was very pointed, very difficult to read.
Some of it was unfair and some was probably fair.''