McClaren: English bosses need European experience

Former England manager Steve McClaren believes most of the country’s coaches would benefit if they followed his lead and chose to ply their trade elsewhere in Europe.

The chronic lack of top level young English managers has become a hot topic in recent years. Only five of the 20 Premier League clubs are coached by Englishmen, and both of the leading contenders to succeed Fabio Capello as England boss – Harry Redknapp and Roy Hodgson – are in their sixties.

McClaren left English shores in 2008 after a disastrous spell in charge of the national team, and has since managed to restore his reputation by winning the Dutch Eredivisie with FC Twente last year.

With domestic opportunities thin on the ground, he believes the continental European leagues provide a unique opportunity for English coaches to hone their skills. Speaking in an interview with Yahoo, the 49-year-old said:

“I was lucky in going to Holland because it's renowned for producing world-class players and coaches, and it is a football country. When I looked, there were over 100 Dutch coaches working around the world, whereas there are only a handful of English ones.

“I learnt a hell of a lot in my two years there, and I think everyone would benefit from such experiences, broadening horizons and seeing how other people and other countries work.”

McClaren also revealed he was inspired to pursue his ambition to manage abroad by the late Sir Bobby Robson, who managed with distinction in Holland, Portugal and Spain.

“I came into football with lots of experiences in the Premier League with Derby, Manchester United and Middlesbrough, but I think the biggest thing which has expanded my experience and knowledge was coaching clubs in European competitions,” he added.

“Whenever I used to speak to Sir Bobby Robson about his experiences of coaching in Holland, Portugal and Spain he used to say much it expanded his knowledge of the game and opened his mind up. Eventually I wanted to do that, and I got the opportunity of doing it in Holland.

“It was ideal as the majority of people speak English, it's close to home and the quality of Dutch football is renowned across the world.”

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By Liam Twomey