Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Steve McClaren won the title in his first spell at Twente and the club are in the hunt again this season.
Steve McClaren won the title in his first spell at Twente and the club are in the hunt again this season.

Steve McClaren and FC Twente make a happy fit in the Eredivisie

Back for a second spell in Holland, the former England manager is restoring his reputation at a club where he is adored by the fans.

Nobody knew where the FC Twente coach Steve McClaren had disappeared to during his side's 4-1 victory at Vitesse Arnhem last weekend.

The English coach, in his second spell at the club, was in the players' tunnel viewing the television replay of a foul. He returned to tell the Arnhem coach that his player was innocent and should not worry.

To McClaren, it was a sporting gesture. But the Dutch Football Association consulted Fifa on whether it was appropriate behaviour.

Twente fans are conditioned to the eccentricities of McClaren, 50. He returns to his bench two minutes after the commencement of the second half, a superstition rooted, he says, in a late return that was greeted by a goal. Such actions irritate some, but McClaren is hugely popular in Enschede, a city of 150,000 on the border with Germany.

Twente may be fourth in the Eredivise, but they are just three points off leaders PSV Eindhoven with a game in hand. They also boast the best goal difference in the league, a figure boosted by the win at seventh-placed Arnhem.

If results go their way this weekend, Twente could top the league for the first time this season.

Twente have also reached the last 16 of the Europa League, where they will meet Shalke.

Life at Twente is a happy fit for the Englishman who was pilloried as "the wally with the brolly" as his country's national team coach before accepting an offer in 2008, on the advice of Bobby Robson, to manage the first-division Dutch side.

McClaren was not lucky with England, but he inherited a solid squad at Twente built by the current PSV coach, Fred Rutten, a Twente legend as a player. Rutten left for the brighter lights of Schalk, with McClaren inheriting a team who had finished fourth and reached the Champions League qualifiers.

The ambitious chairman Joop Munsterman oversaw an increase in stadium capacity from 13,000 to 30,205 by 2011. The crowds filled it and Twente, no longer mid-table regulars, became title challengers in one of Europe's most competitive leagues.

"McClaren filled in the gaps in Rutten's team," said Thijs Slegers, a writer for Voetbal International. McClaren finished second in his first season and then won Twente's first title, in 2010.

That success re-established his battered reputation as he became the first English coach to win a title outside his home country since Robson two decades earlier.

McClaren quickly accepted a more lucrative offer from Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga.

"There was sadness when he departed, but relief that some of the players he'd bought would no longer feature," Slegers said.

"McClaren is perceived to be a good coach, a good tactician who knows how to form a winning team, but he had a lousy record with buying players.

"In his first spell at Twente he bought a useless player from Iran, a guy from Azerbaijan who did nothing, a South African who was very poor and a Brazilian who was nowhere near good enough for the Dutch first division."

One of McClaren's best signings was the sport psychologist Bill Beswick, who had been with him through his time at Manchester United, Middlesbrough and England.

Beswick worked with McClaren in Germany, but it did not work out, nor did it as his next job in charge at Nottingham Forest in June 2011. He resigned after 10 games and returned to Enschede last month.

Slegers said: "As well as being a good coach, he's popular because he's a normal guy who comes across well in interviews, unlike Co Adriaanse [his predecessor] who thinks he's a god."

If McClaren wins a second title at Twente, he might be perceived as Adriaanse wishes he had been.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Chris Burch will play fly-half as part of a new-look back line for the UAE national rugby union team that will face Singapore at The Sevens grounds in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National

Chris Burch to lead UAE’s charge against Singapore

he UAE’s bid to safeguard their place in the second tier of Asian rugby against Singapore next week will be piloted by a player who was contemplating retirement from the sport at this time last year.

 Seiichi Shimomura, centre, is part of a Japan squad that is the gold standard for sides such as the UAE, here in a Asian Five Nations rugby match at Dubai on May 10, 2013 and Singapore aspire to reach. Marwan Naamani / AFP

UAE and Singapore are rugby teams with a similar tale to tell

The UAE versus Singapore in rugby: a battle to see whether our expatriates are better than their expatriates, surely? Well, maybe not for much longer.

 Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr is pictured before the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, on March 1, 2014. Glyn Kirk / AFP

New Southampton owner leading club’s resurgence from the shadows

Katharina Liebherr keeping with family tradition and letting others dominate the spotlight

 Sharjah Cricket Stadium's colorful past was never like this – the IPL match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils was loud, raucous and commerical. Pawan Singh / The National

No need for rose-coloured glasses when Sharjah Cricket Stadium host IPL

Sharjah still plays well as India's home away from home when it comes to big-time cricket, but the commercial overtones were in overdrive.

 Jorginho accepts the challenge that lies ahead for Al Wasl's improvement, and the club says it will give him time ... if they see results.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Wasl will give Jorginho time but results in Arabian Gulf League are needed

Al Wasl officials said they will provide Jorginho, their new coach, sufficient time to change the club’s fortunes while also warning that his fate ultimately will depend on results.

 Mickael Barzalona riding Sudden Wonder, left, to victory in the Tattersalls Millions Trophy at Newmarket racecourse on April 17, 2014 in Newmarket, England. Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images

Godolphin boosted by performances of two fresh horses at Newmarket

Be Ready underwhelms in Craven Stakes during otherwise successful day for stables

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National