This Is Steve McClaren’s Achilles Heel As A Manager

There is a lot more to being a good manager in football than simply being brilliant on the training ground with the players.

Some of this is team selection, when to make substitutions and change things during a game and maybe most of all whether you can inspire your players to play at their best.

That´s something that is part of the all important man-management skills – something the great Sir Bobby Robson was so good at in his management career.

Danny Mills, the former England and Leeds United right back and now a pundit, has been interviewed on talkSPORT and he says that while McClaren is great as a coach on the training field  he lacks good man-management skills and maybe that explains his abject failure as Newcastle manager this season.

steve mcclaren man united

Steve McClaren – poor man manager

The 38 year-old former England right-back was on loan at Middlesbrough back in 2004 when McClaren was the manager there, but Danny had refused to play against Leeds United, his parent club.

The Middlesbrough hierarchy were not too thrilled about that and decided not to sign Danny permanently that season and Mills eventually signed that summer for Manchester City.

But when Danny talked to the Middlesbrough manager McClaren about his Middlesbrough future – Steve said Danny was still part of his plans – even though he must have known the club would not be signing him permanently.

Not exactly being truthful with your player.

This is what Danny Mills has told talkSPORT:

“I worked with him obviously when he was coach of the England side – and he was phenomenal, absolutely fabulous.”

“A brilliant coach. Man-management; well, not so good.” “Of course when I was at Middlesbrough I should have signed there, but the deal fell through at the last minute.”

“I sort of walked out, and refused to play – I was on loan from Leeds at the time and I didn’t want to play against my parent club when you could do that back in the day.”

“But it was towards the end of the season, he pulled me into his office just before the European Championships in Portugal in 2004.”

“He was then going back to be England coach, asked me about whether I thought I’d be in the national team, to which I went: ‘Surely you’ll have a better idea than I have?’”

“But he sat there and told me he was part of my plans for next season, as far as he was concerned I was going to be the right-back, I was in for the foreseeable future, blah, blah, blah.”

“Of course there are no secrets in football, I knew that they have already tapped up Michael Reiziger for Middlesbrough and that he was already signing.”

“So you sit there and think: ‘Hmmm, man-management skills maybe not the best’.”

“He should have just been honest and said: ‘Look, you’ve upset the chairman, you’ve upset the chief exec for what you did in January. I’d like to sign you, but they don’t.’”

“Then we’d all move on.”

It´s been obvious all season there is a flaw with Steve McClaren management skills somewhere – and maybe Danny has hit the nail on the head.

If it isn´t man-management skills then it’s something else,  because Newcastle should be doing a lot better than we are with the players we have in the squad and the £81M that´s been spent this season on eight new players.

If things don´t improve soon and the Newcastle Board fail to act like they did last season, then Steve McClaren could be taking Newcastle down to the Championships this season – things are that bad.

Comments welcome.

11 comments so far

  • lesh

    Feb 28, 2016 at 12:03 AM

    Comment #1

    From another blog site but these damning statistics say all there is about the state of the Club.

    And Charnley says the Club believes in stability. Yes he’s achieved that alright – at all levels we’re rubbish!

    But, and for all Ashley said he’d leave matters football to the so-called board, his indifference to the malaise is there for all to see. He could and he can act to do something about it by getting rid of those apparently responsible, he hasn’t and that in itself speaks volumes.

  • Premiership Manager

    Feb 28, 2016 at 12:15 AM

    Comment #2

    Ed I wish you’d knock it on the head, it’s getting to be like a stuck record. It’s very obvious by Mills statement that he still holds a grudge, just like he used to on the pitch if somebody kicked him up in the air.

    As for McClaren ask yourself this, when the club has been in free fall, Shearer couldn’t stop it, Carver couldn’t stop it and neither could Pardew.

    There are some fundamental issues at the club that undermine the good work being done. They start in the board room and continue through to the dressing room.

    McClaren is doing his best with his hands tied behind his back. If he had 11 fit first team players, a proven LB and CF and cover in each position we would not be in this position. We’ve had bad buy after bad buy, that disrupts the dressing room, especially when player A who have just been bought in gets paid more than player B who tries his hardest. Then player A decides he can’t cut it and asks to go back to France.

    And just to make things worse McClaren has to sort it out and keep the dressing room happy. You can be the best coach in the world but when politics and money are involved it doesn’t matter how good a mangers you are because unless you have control, you are powerless to sort it out.

    Who out of all the good managers would come to NUFC, not one with any sense. So where does that leave us.

    I’d prefer to keep McClaren than have any money grabbing mercenary you could care to name who doesn’t give a toss about the club.

    As for the blog it’s gone rapidly down hill, posts like this and some of the idiots posting those repetitive stupid posts with would be lyrics .

    If you want to post something constructive, do some research and look into the youth academy and tell us how many players have come through the ranks. Tell us what has happened with all the would be Lee Clarkes and Pauls Gasgoines etc. Are Taylor and Carroll the only sucesses in the last ten years. Why, answer that and you’ll be looking at some of the problems at the club.

    And what about Penfold and Car, what have they cost the club, in transfer losses, wages and revenue.

    There’s a great deal you could write about but for once give it a knock on the head regarding McClaren as he’s here until the end of the season regardless of whether we stay up or go down.

    By the way, todays results haven’t helped much because that gap 2 places above relegation is growing.

  • willowdalerez

    Feb 28, 2016 at 12:15 AM

    Comment #3

    Win at Stoke that’s all that matters now. Get a win and build on that. Too late in the season to hmmm and haah about the manager since only Mike Ashley will have a say on that. Personally I am at fault for thinking Macca should get those 10 games early on in the season (judge me after 10 remember that comment) and after that that maybe he could turn things around after a solid Jan transfer window (even without the CB / LB signing it was a good window and we have a damn sight better squad then in the last 4 seasons) but since then it became obvious to everyone but the owner that he wasn’t getting much out of the players but now it’s probably too late for a mgr change to do any good so we just have to ride it out so my word to the lads if I were the Mgr would be “get in there lads if only to avoid embarrassing yourself and ruining your own career”.

  • Munster Mag

    Feb 28, 2016 at 12:21 AM

    Comment #4

    Rotunda, in my defence i only ever said pardew was an average or below average manager. I never said he was good, and i dont think he is good. That said, some of your comments on him are looking very accurate and fair play to you for that. U may not believe it but i am v happy watching palace struggle. I have friends and in law who are palace fans. And seeing ian wright eat his own jocks is never a bad thing. Also tbe scouse journalist who ludicrously asked why pardew wasnt being considered for man u must feel like a tool now.

  • Munster Mag

    Feb 28, 2016 at 12:26 AM

    Comment #5

    I think Mills has got it right, but wasnt he bigging up SMC when we got SMC as manager ? Schteve seems good on the training ground, and he is a slick PR man, but he is not a good manager, he is not a good motivator, and he is not good tactically . All that adds up to a bloke who really shouldnt be good enough, and isnt . That said, he presides over some some serious chancers with attitude problems , scouted by an overrated pensioner. If we survive? Sack him, and get the Southampton manager, and a few new scouts. Keep spending the money Ashley, and watch us climb the table.

  • willowdalerez

    Feb 28, 2016 at 1:15 AM

    Comment #6


  • lesh

    Feb 28, 2016 at 1:48 AM

    Comment #7

    Prem Manager

    You’re right in saying that the Club’s predicament is the product of inadequate board level management and that McClaren’s working with his hands tied.

    However, when McClaren was appointed I was told by someone who had had inside knowledge of him at Man U and his spell with England, that he was an excellent coach but a poor manager. The comment was not born of sour grapes.

    Now doesn’t that chime with what Mills said?

  • willowdalerez

    Feb 28, 2016 at 2:30 AM

    Comment #8

    @Premiership Manager // Feb 28, 2016 at 12:15 AM

    I agree with much of your post about the need to deal with systemic problems that plague the Club (Charnley, Carr the academy etc.). However, you are letting Macca off too easily. The fact is taking the players in a given squad and dealing with the personal rivalries and big egos to create harmony in the dressing room (or at least on field cooperation and drive) to get the most of your squad is the job of the Mgr and unless you believe the Toon belong in the bottom 3 and can do no better than (as noted by Ed) our historic worst record to date, all fingers are pointing at Macca and rightly so.

    If, in fact, you believe our squad is that bad and this is the best they can do, then Macca is off the hook, but in that case we will have to agree to disagree because, in my view, this is (with injuries and even glaring holes at CB and LB) our best squad since we came back up (both in fact as compared to our past squads and relative to the quality of the other sides in the Prem this year). Whether we are in fact a top 10 quality side (as asserted by Ed) is more debatable but in my opinion we should be no worse than 15th.

    It is no answer to any mgr in any workplace to have an underperforming workforce. They can recommend changes to address a poor apprenticeship program, difficult personnel etc. but at the end of the day it is no answer to mask subpar performance by claiming A is envious of B, C and D dislike each other, everyone thinks E is an overpaid jerk and that their offsite boss is a twit.

    As for other posters some may annoy, even be offensive but at the end of the day we all support the Toon and as for Ed’s blog he covers every last development and sometimes quality may be sacrificed for quantity but I get my Toon fix here and am more than happy for his work and dedication.


  • Premiership Manager

    Feb 28, 2016 at 6:56 AM

    Comment #9

    The problem is in any business or sport if you fail to plan correctly and cover your contingencies you will fail before you start. How many managers do we have to go through or players before we have the right balance. If you produce 100 units a week at work and get paid £8 an hour what happens when a director brings somebody in who produces 60 units a week but on double the pay? You go see the manager, he tells you his hands are tied and he can do nothing about it. You fall out with the manager, fall out with the other worker and get pissed off with the company. Your productivity goes down, you start looking for another job and hope something comes along.

    Your manager kicks your arse for not performing and the relationship gets worse.

    That’s the situation McClaren is in all from the incompetence of the board.

    You’re right he is partly to blame but is he accountable for the predicament of the club when it is outside his control?

  • posada

    Feb 28, 2016 at 12:16 PM

    Comment #10

    That’s a good post at 2. From Prem Manager.

    The club is incredibly superficial. Charmless, an accountant reports to an absent owner and an absent Chief Scout/Director of Football or whatever Carr is.
    A proper board would consist of 8 to 12 people with a wide range of experience. They would be difficult to fool and would hold senior employees to account.
    With this lot you only need one person to loose the plot and you have trouble.

    Having said all that I still don’t rate SM.
    When SBR took over we were in crisis. We had players from 3 failed management regimes.
    Yet his great skill as a manager had an immediate impact.

  • Teamstoof

    Feb 29, 2016 at 10:28 PM

    Comment #11

    We need Steven Taylor against stoke.
    Remember this??
    There’s only one Steven Taylor…


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