The relationship between United and the FA has been poor for a while, several incidents especially over recent years pushing the two further and further apart. This summer was the icing on the cake, when Sven was determined to play United’s wonder boy earlier than the club wanted. As an integral part to our first team, there was no way the club were happy with Sven’s attitude concerning Rooney, with the worry that him coming back too soon could make the injury worse. Afterall, Sven, (who is happy to gamble when the stakes are high, if his World Cup squad selection is anything to go by) wouldn’t be left picking up the pieces if Rooney had worsened his condition.
Good riddance to bad rubbish, and former United number 2, McClaren, stepped up to the plate. Steve McClaren had a big job on his hands when joining United and replacing Brian Kidd, the man who had scored in our victorious European Cup final in 1968, the man who had helped guide United to the phenomenal success in the 1990s (and the man who later went on to fuck up Blackburn and Leeds! Which United fan could ask for more?). McClaren didn’t fail to impress though, winning the Treble in his first season with United.
If ever there is a time that United could start building bridges with England, which has been seemingly impossible, it is now. You would think it was imperative for any England manager to respect Ferguson, and try and keep him happy, considering United have provided the national team with so many key players over the past decade or so. McClaren took the time and effort to join United in the pre-season in Amsterdam, and got Ferguson’s backing, which spells a positive future relationship between the two.
After Sven’s crazy squad selection, McClaren has announced his squad for the approaching England vs Greece game. He’s given Wes Brown a much deserved place, ahead of Sol Campbell, as well as calling up Richardson and Foster, two great United prospects (and of course, the expected Neville and Ferdinand, with Rooney serving his suspension), who have become more experienced and promising recently. Now, this isn’t to say that everything is going to be sweetness and light in the future, but finally we are approaching a less hostile scenario between them and United.
Of course, not everyone is happy. With the omission of David Beckham from the squad, there are several England fans calling for McClaren’s head already. McClaren, who has told Beckham he is looking to build a squad for the future, but that the door isn’t closed on his England career, is still not match fit, however, some people can never be pleased. If Beckham had been included, cries for McClaren to move on and not cling on to the past would have been heard. Whilst browsing the internet football forum toilet, 606, I came across this remark, “Doesn’t matter who’s playing – McClaren is tactically inept, can’t motivate and will fail.”
McClaren has taken on one of the hardest jobs in the world. As Scolari said, who rejected the England manager job position, there is something up with our culture. There’s something horribly depressing about the way the media builds up their legends, only to tear them down (as United fans will be most familiar with in the extreme cases of David Beckham and more recently, Wayne Rooney), and, in a way, wish that England fail so they have something to write about. It pains me more than I could convey, but I actually agree with Oliver Holt (who would be out of a job if it wasn’t for Manchester United. My favourite article of his being the one where he blames Ferguson for the fact England’s World Cup hopes have gone down the pan because of Rooney’s injury)’s stance on the McClaren situation. “I don’t see any reason to assume McClaren will be a carbon copy of the Swede just because he was his deputy. I’d prefer to think he has seen close up the mistakes Eriksson made and that he’ll make damn sure he doesn’t repeat them. His determination to appoint Terry Venables as his assistant says more about his character than any manoeuvring by Max Clifford ever could. It says he’s not afraid to have a brilliant coach at his side and he’s strong enough to listen. It says that tactically, McClaren’s going to make Eriksson look like a gimp in a strait jacket.”
I want McClaren to do well, and his squad selection today, as well as his captain choice, are just the first few steps he’s taken to right the wrongs of Sven. Only time will tell if he can help replicate the massive success he brought to United for England. My Greek Cypriot roots will leave me supporting his opposition on Wednesday, but it wouldn’t be all bad if McClaren’s tactics and team bought him some time from the press, baying for his blood, with him recording a victory on his match.
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