Steve McClaren has been branded mental and nuts by the British press after he ‘cracked up’ after persistent (and quite possibly justified) pressure from Fleet Street. Stevie Mac has claimed that the press have tried to drive a wedge between himself and his right hand man, Terry Venables.
Well, with McClaren pointing a finger, and no Max Clifford to help him out, the honeymoon period is well and truly over. A remarkably bad-tempered press conference in Amsterdam has seen the
declaration of open warfare between the England boss and the press.
The Sun has claimed that McClaren ‘cracked up’ while the back page of
this morning’s Mirror simply leads with a headline of
‘Nuts’ before asking ‘What The Hell Is Going On With England?’ McClaren appeared totally unprepared
for a hostile line of enquiry following the debacle of Zagreb.
The press have not been able to interrogate McClaren since the Euro
2008 qualifier defeat and were further incensed when he indicated he
would prefer to discuss the Three Lions’ "exciting future". Is it any wonder people are miffed after seeing his Under 10’s side being touted ahead of tonights friendly?
The press conference descended into a niggly exchange of views and an obviously aggravated McClaren spat his dummy out when it was suggested that he and El Tel were at odds over the reason for Stewart Downing’s omission in Zagreb.
While McClaren had claimed that the Boro winger was dropped for tactical reasons, Venables wrote in a newspaper column that he was omitted because media criticism had "destroyed" his confidence.
"It was a private matter between myself and Downing," McClaren eventually responded. "We’ve drawn a line under it. He knows me and I know him. We’ve worked together for five years now. We move on and that’s why I included him in the squad. The Croatia game is gone."
Steve was then asked if he’d seen Venables’ article in the News of the World, with a niggly McClaren replying "Some newspapers I read and some I don’t. I don’t have to answer every column. I didn’t read that. I can’t comment on something I’ve not read. But I wasn’t embarrassed by it. If that’s the question, then no I wasn’t. I’m answering no more questions on Stewart Downing. Why are you trying to separate the players and myself or even the staff. That’s ridiculous. We’ve got a game tomorrow and we shouldn’t be sat here talking about problems and trying to divide."
‘The affair, which surely need not have been allowed to seem so significant, has revealed McClaren struggling to cope with the scrutiny that many predecessors in the post, including Venables, have weathered’ said The Guardian. This seems to be largely true. Many have seen McClaren’s appointment as a bit of a let down, with many questioning his ability to keep afloat in possibly the most demanding job in football. With McClaren’s toys well and truly flung on the floor, it would seem that fans’ worries were correct. It’s already been discussed on these very pages that McClaren’s camp is descending into farce, and this very public display of sulkiness and surly snapping sees a manager who has gone from managing an average side, to being thrust in over his head. Tonight, we’ll see if the England boss has the resolve to provide a response to the critics with an exciting friendly match… but I wouldn’t hold your breath.