So McClaren has finally gone. His departure is probably not a big disappointment although the manner will inevitably be seen as unbefitting of a great club.
 

McClaren did have some credentials for the job. As a coach at Manchester United, after all, he did win 3 Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy, picking up an FA Cup on the way. He served a worthwhile apprenticeship under Britain’s most successful manager. 

His start in management wasn’t bad either. Of English managers, only Harry Redknapp has won a major domestic trophy since his League cup triumph in 2004. McClaren himself was the first English manager to win something since Brian Little in 1996. He can also claim a UEFA Cup final. 

Like Terry Venables and Sir Bobby, he can also be proud of being one of the few Englishmen to win a league title overseas, this during his time at Twente. As with those other 3, he also became England manager. His time was not as successful as the others, however, failing to qualify for the finals of a major tournament. 

Since that win at Twente, McClaren’s record left more than a little to be desired. Since he says he does not quit, we can only assume that he now has his 5th pay off since 2011, having failed at Wolfsburg, Twente in his second spell, Nottingham Forest and Derby. 

So came his chance to succeed other England managers, Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby himself. McClaren admitted that he had turned down the chance to manage Newcastle 3 times previously, whilst at Middlesbrough, Twente and Derby. 

Looking back, had he taken one of the first two opportunities, McClaren might have done better. The Premier League was different. English managers were capable of riding relatively high. Since then, it has become a different place, more cosmopolitan and with the very best coaches from Europe and indeed South America at the helm of clubs. 

He could have learned from his time at Derby that he wo0uld not compete again at the top level in this country. After reaching a play off final leading the Championship, he was overtaken by the likes of Jankovic to miss out on promotion. Miles ahead of him in the Premier League were those like Slaven Bilic who had ruined his England hopes. 

Perhaps the Championship is where McClaren’s next step is, to take on board what he has learned. It would certainly seem that the powers that be at Newcastle United have learned that to appoint seasoned failures in English football is not good enough in the current era. 

To look at his record at Newcastle, it was distinctly unimpressive. Charged with a top 8 finish and a cup, he was bounced by Sheffield Wednesday reserves and by a Flores inspired Watford in the cups. In the league, he achieved a mere 6 wins out of 29 with a mere 7 goals away from home. 

There are some things to his credit. Following Pardew, another serial failure, he did not make promises which he did not keep. He improved communications with supporters through his emails. In his few victories, he also maintained a dignity which was lacking from his predecessor. 

Perhaps his greatest achievement is what he did behind the scenes, in challenging the club’s policy of buying players. His successor can now boast top young English talent. The purse strings were certainly loosened under his tenure with some fine players from overseas too. 

His failure comes down to failing to harness that talent into results. Like his immediate predecessor, he employed a turgid brand of football with overly defensive formations but without the organisation to match. With a variety of left wingers available, there were only 6 starts in 29 games of a left winger on the left wing.  

Opponents found us predictable, knowing that any attacks would come from our right hand side or down the middle. Our flanks became our defensive weakness. 

It is not McClaren’s fault that he was appointed. Almost any manager would welcome a shot at the Premier League. It is a challenge for the Football Association to seek to remedy the paucity of talent among English managers. 

He should also be praised for his stoicism. The last week must have been barely tolerable. However, he may have had greater motivation and insight into the depth of feeling in the North East had he not commuted from his Cleveland home and socialised in the relative tranquillity of his home city, York and the surrounding countryside.

 

We must stress that this was the right decision, despite McClaren’s own persistent pleas to be judged at a later date. He could have been pushed out at any time from his 10th game. The Chelsea debacle was bad enough. After being comprehensively beaten by Bournemouth, the first of several winnable games at the tail end of the season, there could be no confidence that he could turn things around. 

He does depart with a famous victory, a tribute to his character. His shocking treatment drew an apology from the hierarchy at St James’ Park. Having been told the decision by phone, we wonder if, like Ryan Taylor and Jonas, he has to pass it around to Simpson, Black and Schoenmaker. 

No, he shouldn’t have been here in the first place, he should have gone sooner but we can thank him for restoring a little dignity to a club whose image has been badly tarnished during the Ashley years. 

Good bye and good luck.