McClaren back with new perspective
Steve McClaren has returned from his ill-fated spell in charge of Wolfsburg raving about the technical development of young players on the continent and insisting England need to learn the lessons.
McClaren was sacked as Wolfsburg manager last week after only 21 Bundesliga games, a huge comedown after he led Dutch club FC Twente to the Eredivisie title last season.
He claims he could have turned the side around given more time, but accepted that it was better for the club and himself to part ways.
But while the job may not have worked out, the former England manager has returned from Germany with a new insight into the approach to development used in Germany.
“The emotion and the excitement of the game is here, but there’s also a great seriousness about learning and understanding football,” he said.
“Coaching is a profession. It’s harder to get the same qualifications out here, no doubt about it. It’s twice as much work. A young coach has to shadow a club for a year, writing reports on every training session, every game, like a silent assistant.”
The players learn very differently too, he said.
Describing a conversation with a 21-year-old player in front of a tactics board at Wolfsburg, McClaren said: “I told him about our opponents, their formation and strengths, and asked him what he thought we should do.
“He starts moving the pieces around the board, explaining to the coaching staff how we need three at the back operating without the ball, where we need to press, how we need to drop the man back on the left.
“It’s like he’s read all my notes. I asked him how he knew all this and he said, ‘It’s how we’ve been taught since we were 12.”
Now McClaren sees lessons for coaches in the UK.
“I’ve seen how Holland and Germany have put so much work and thought into their coach development and youth programmes,” he said.
“They needed to. Holland had a kick up the backside after failing to qualify for the 2002 World Cup finals and Germany realised they were falling behind ten years ago.
“We should be doing much more of it in England.”