McClaren: “The weirdest thing Fergie ever made me do as his No.2? Manage the Manchester derby!”
The Yorkshireman, who began coaching at Oxford United and Derby County, became the Red Devils’ assistant manager midway through the 1998/99 season and was soon helping them win the Treble.
Then 18 months later, McClaren found himself promoted to the role of first-team manager for a day.
Fergie told me at the start of the season: ‘My son’s getting married out in South Africa and that day it’s the Manchester derby, so you’re going to have to take it’
Speaking in the March 2018 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, McClaren explains: “[Fergie] told me at the start of the season: ‘Steve, my son’s getting married out in South Africa and that day it’s the Manchester derby, so you’re going to have to take it.’
“Thank goodness we won 1-0 – David Beckham scored a magnificent free-kick early on. So my win record as Manchester United caretaker manager is 100 per cent!”
McClaren also reveals that, having spent the bulk of his playing career at lower-league Hull City, proving his coaching credentials to the Red Devils' squad remains his biggest ever challenge.
“Did I have to prove myself? Wow, did I!” he says. “My first five months were the toughest five months of my life – from January 1999 to the end of May when we won the Treble. Every night I would be up until 3am, planning a session for the following day knowing it had to be perfect.
My first five months at Old Trafford were the toughest five months of my life, still to this day. Every night I would be up until about 3am
“I’d start putting cones out and Teddy Sheringham was the worst. He’d say to me, ‘Steve, did you have a glass of wine too many last night? Those cones aren’t in a straight line!’
“For everything it was, ‘Why are we doing this, Steve?’ I had to have all the answers. Eventually, I was accepted because sessions were bright, intense and competitive. I had to make it that way, so the players knew it would be difficult but enjoyable. They were all competitive – it could have been a war zone every day, because there were so many winners within that squad.”
Read the full One-on-One interview with Steve McClaren in the March 2018 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, which features exclusive chats with Liverpool's new King of the Kop Mo Salah, Spurs' South Korean star Heung-min Son and Manchester City keeper Ederson. Plus, we preview all eight Champions League last 16 ties and experience Man v Fat football, where losing weight is the secret to winning matches. We also spend a week with former Leicester manager Nigel Pearson in Belgium, learn how Gennaro Gattuso made a career from harnessing his inner rage and hear from Michael Laudrup about life in Qatar and his fears for former club Swansea. Order a copy now, then become a subscriber!