Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Success on Paper, Dull on the Pitch; STEVE BROWN, Who Followed Steve McClaren's Middlesbrough Reign Closely, Looks at What Toon Fans Can Expect from Their New Boss

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Success on Paper, Dull on the Pitch; STEVE BROWN, Who Followed Steve McClaren's Middlesbrough Reign Closely, Looks at What Toon Fans Can Expect from Their New Boss

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve McClaren's

CHARACTER, attitude, commitment. Character, attitude, commitment. Character, attitude... There were Saturdays covering Steve McClaren's Middlesbrough for the Sunday Sun when I actually contemplated copying his postmatch quotes and pasting them into the following week's paper.

Win, lose or bore. Character, attitude, commitment.

New to management then after forging his reputation as a coach, whether those words came from McClaren's head, heart or a Pro-Licence manual, they were instant whitewash over the performance just viewed, papered over the dearth of dash and derring-do in his football, repressed on an altar of pragmatism, and came to sum up his five-year spell at the Riverside.

The first major trophy in the club's history. Ergo, their most successful manager ever.

Boring, boring Boro. Teesside, still split.

It had all begun in a much breezier mood. Presented at the forefront of a backroom staff comprising Bill Beswick - "not a shrink," the sports psychologist told me, "a stretch" - there was openness and optimism.

Later over lunch once, he was engaging, less guarded than he had, by then, become. Told us 6/10 for every defender, every game, made him happy.

That was the platform, and the problem.

Gareth Southgate was a great, first, marquee signing. Set an example, set standards. Solid and dependable. No frills.

So the football followed. McClaren's first game in management was a 4-0 home defeat to Arsenal, the first of four straight losses culminating in a 4-1 Riverside reverse at the hands of Newcastle United.

By then, McClaren had switched from 4-3-3 to 5-3-2 and eventually, patchily, results started to come together. It would almost always remain, in terms of tactics, performance and form, just as inconsistent.

Occasional wins against the big boys, including something even of an Indian sign over Manchester United. Then less impressive displays and results against lesser lights. …

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