McClaren joins Newcastle: fans unimpressed, journalists angry
Former England boss tasked with getting Magpies into the top eight and winning a trophy
Steve McClaren has been unveiled as the new manager of Newcastle United, but his reign has already encountered turbulence with fans underwhelmed by his appointment and some media organisations upset by the way the club handled the announcement.
The former England, Middlesbrough and Derby boss, whose CV is best described as "mixed", has been given a three-year contract at St James' Park and "ordered to rebuild the side into a top eight outfit and challenge for trophies", according to the Daily Mirror.
McClaren has also been given a seat on the Newcastle board, as owner Mike Ashley steps down. Chief scout Graham Carr has also been given a seat in what the Mirror calls a "surprise move" that amounts to "a takeover by the Magpies' football brains".
The new manager told the Mirror he was under no illusions about his role. "You want to know what the objectives are, and straight away there was the objective: Top eight and win a trophy.
"We are talking an initial three-year contract. I want it to be eight. If it goes beyond three, we are being successful."
For McClaren to make it beyond three years will represent something of a triumph. He had success early in his career during a five-year stint at Middlesbrough and won the League Cup, but lasted only 15 months as England boss. He was fired in 2007 after England failed to qualify for Euro 2008 and he was ridiculed for patrolling the Wembley touchline with an umbrella during a crucial game against Croatia.
He rehabilitated himself during two seasons with FC Twente in the Netherlands, but failed again at Wolfsburg and Nottingham Forest. A return to Twente did not work out and he eventually took over at Derby in 2013. McClaren guided the Rams to the play-offs in 2014 but was fired after missing out on promotion this year.
Newcastle supporters are aware of his history it seems. "McClaren is not the first man to take over as Newcastle United boss to a lukewarm reception," says the Newcastle Chronicle, which notes most fans wanted a figure like Patrick Vieira or even Jurgen Klopp at the helm. "Since Twente, the bad has outweighed the good. That he keeps coming back for more shows a desire to restore his reputation as a top-flight coach.
"He has the talent to make the most of a difficult job at Newcastle, but without the support of the public, he will certainly struggle," the paper warns.
McClaren is not the first former England boss to lead the Magpies, notes The Guardian. Newcastle icon Bobby Robson did the same and "he would surely have been delighted to see a man with whom he shared so many footballing principles take charge at his beloved St James' Park", says Louise Taylor.
"Much depends on whether Mike Ashley, Newcastle's owner, really has learnt his lesson and is prepared to provide the investment an alarmingly slender squad craves. If so, McClaren could be provided with the perfect canvas on which to showcase the coaching ability which has won him widespread respect within the game."
Ashley's press relations team do not appear to have learned any lessons, however, and a year after they were accused of striking a deal with The Sun, several journalists were angry about the way McClaren's appointment was handled.
"Sport journalists accused the football club of allowing just one newspaper and one broadcaster exclusive interviews with its new manager," reports The Guardian, "claiming the Daily Mirror and Sky have agreed a deal to get preferential access from Newcastle".