Manchester United have now completed two sensational returns to the club in consecutive summers. Cristiano Ronaldo re-signed for United last year and Steve McClaren’s return was sealed last month. Ronaldo’s return, as you might have expected, made more headlines.
McClaren is no stranger to Erik Ten Hag either. The pair worked together at FC Twente in McClaren’s first year in the Netherlands. McClaren had arrived in Holland without any of his own coaching staff and Ten Hag remained at the club after working as an assistant under the previous manager. They immediately built a relationship and Ten Hag impressed McClaren with his meticulous planning.
Such was the relationship they built in the Netherlands, Ten Hag has reunited with McClaren in England. McClaren and Mitchell van der Gaag were in attendance at United’s final game of the season and they’ve been appointed as Ten Hag’s assistant coaches.
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McClaren won the Treble, two more Premier League titles and the Club World Cup during his previous stint at United. He left the club in 2001 and managed Middlesbrough, FC Twente, Wolfsburg, Nottingham Forest, Derby, Newcastle and Queens Park Rangers.
It’s probably best not to mention McClaren’s time as England manager, but he was always known for his work on the training ground, rather than to his man management skills. The decision to appoint McClaren raised eyebrows at first but it makes sense.
Ten Hag will appreciate his knowledge of the Premier League and his previous experience with United. McClaren has also clearly followed United’s recent fortunes and he had something to say when asked about Marcus Rashford in January
“Body language is so important and that was the criticism of United players in the last few weeks, but Rashford has probably had this [concern] throughout his career in terms of questioning his attitude, “McClaren said.
“He gets deterred too easily and doesn’t fight through bad moments. He doesn’t stay in the game. If he’s not having a good first half, he’ll never have a good second half. Somebody needs to give him the tools to come out of the bad times. “
It was hard to argue with McClaren’s assessment of Rashford and the player memorably proved the 61-year-old was right versus Chelsea in April. Rashford went viral on social media after that 1-1- draw for all of the wrong reasons.
After the full-time whistle, Rashford swiftly made his way from the bench to share an embrace with Thomas Tuchel and that was the moment that caught fans’ attention. They joked that was the most Rashford had run all match and they weren’t far from the truth.
Rashford’s performances were disappointing last season, but the most worrying aspect of his displays was an apparent dip in his commitment levels. That will have to change under Ten Hag and McClaren could be the man to help him get his career back on track.
McClaren even doubled down on his comments this week. “A lot of people now, body language, arms up in the air, you’ve got to react to get that ball back, win that ball back. Whatever situation, react quick, don’t think about it, “he told the McClaren Podcast.
“You’ve got to accept the rules, the conditions, you’ve got to accept the consequences if you do things wrong. You’ve got to commit, you’ve got to be a class act, especially in today’s football. “
McClaren identified what many fans have said what fans have been saying all season and it’s hoped Rashford will respond.
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