With Newcastle playing at West Ham tomorrow night and Steve McClaren and Slaven Bilic being the respective coaches at the two clubs, it brings back memories of November, 2007 when they were managing England and Croatia respectively.
Croatia beat England 3-2 at Wembley, and therefore England failed to qualify for Euro 2008 the next year, and days after that game Steve McClaren was sacked as the England manager.
We needed a draw to qualify, but we also had some of our top players missing through injury and suspension.
Slaven Bilic – on the touchline at Upton Park
It was a really low time for Steve McClaren in his career, and he has talked so well of Bilic in his interviews leading up to the game tomorrow night.
McClaren has called Bilic a real gentleman and that he is perfect for West Ham as the new manager.
Steve has also met up with the Croatian since that England defeat.
Bilic has returned the compliment today in his interviews, and he has called McClaren a quality man and still thinks he is an excellent coach.
This is what Bilic has said in an interview leading up to tomorrow’s game:
“I wouldn’t say we are friends but I met him a few times and he is a quality man,”
“First of all I think he is a great coach and a great manager, and nobody can deny he is one of the most polite people in football.”
“Criticism of him is totally unfair, all the way back to the England v Croatia game.” “They had so many injuries that night and suspensions. Rooney, John Terry, four or five or even six were out.”
“Back then, we qualified three days before and so that was the relief we needed. Going there needing a point to qualify it could have been completely different.”
“I remember saying to my boys. You have to use a level of politeness. They lost, I went to take some shirts to sign for my sons and they didn’t change their attitude.”
“They showed class. Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham. They lost, they were gutted but they signed and smiled. That is what I liked about it.”
Steve McClaren was assistant to England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson when the Swede left the job in 2006, and McClaren was surprisingly appointed the manager, after first choice Phil Scolari turned the job down.
It was after becoming England manager that Steve left the job of managing Middlesbrough and this is his first return to the Premier League since 2006 – a long nine years before he accepted the head coach position at Newcastle in June.
It’s good that Steve is back in the big time, and we are hoping he can become a great head coach for Newcastle and lead us to some success in the future.
It would also help if we can win the game tomorrow night at West Ham.
What do you think?