Former town players back McClaren

STEVE McClaren faces his defining moment as England manager against Croatia on Wednesday.The former Middlesbrough manager has indicated the fans' reaction to him at the end of the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign will determine his future.

STEVE McClaren faces his defining moment as England manager against Croatia on Wednesday.

The former Middlesbrough manager has indicated the fans' reaction to him at the end of the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign will determine his future.

As speculation continues to mount over whether he should stay or go, The Evening Star asked a selection of former Ipswich Town players if McClaren is still the right man for the job, regardless of the Croatia result.

Roger Osborne, who scored Ipswich's goal to beat Arsenal in the 1978 cup final, said: “We keep chopping and changing and it doesn't seem to do any good. We still end up with the same players.


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“I don't think his tactics are much different to anybody elses. I think some of the players went through a phase where their Premier League games were more important than their international games. Any manager who comes in would have the same pool of players and would he make them play any better?”

Town legend and former England defender Kevin Beattie said: “I think they should stick by him. I don't think he's done a bad job. He's had a couple of slip-ups, but you don't sack a man for a couple of slip-ups. He's a good coach and nice man and you should give him a chance. I understand the players are behind him.”

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Jason Dozzell, who became the youngest player to score in the old First Division when he came on for Ipswich as a 16-year-old against Coventry, said: “I think every England manager should get the job for at least four years. It's a long, drawn out process if you want success. Who else is there out there anyway?”

However, former Ipswich and England captain Terry Butcher, who is now manager of Brentford, believes McClaren should go.

In his national newspaper column yesterday he was quoted as saying: “The appointment of Steve McClaren was sporting suicide. It has been so painful. Thanks to an unlikely defeat for Russia there is now every chance England can scrape through. But have we evolved or moved on? Give me a break.”

Phil Ham, editor of Ipswich Town fanzine TWTD and a columnist for The Evening Star, also thinks McClaren's days are numbered.

He said: “I don't think he was really qualified for the job in the first place. You have to have done something more than taken Middlesbrough to around seventh in the league.

“There's inevitability about him going if England fail to make Euro 2008. I'm sure he's a good coach, but the job probably came too early for him.”

Ham believes there is no outstanding candidate to replace McClaren among the present ranks of English coaches and feels the FA would have to look abroad, with former Chelsea and Porto boss Jose Mourinho being his choice.

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