November 22, 2020 6:00:00 AM
Steve McClaren was sacked as England manager on this day 13 years ago.
England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008 meant the writing was on the wall for McClaren, who was lampooned as the ‘wally with the brolly’ following the decisive 3-2 defeat to Croatia at a soggy Wembley.
Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick made a personal apology to England fans for the team’s inability to reach the European Championship while chairman Geoff Thompson said it was embarrassing.
Having had 18 matches in charge, McClaren was at the time of his dismissal the shortest-serving permanent England boss in history – although that record went on to be eclipsed when Sam Allardyce resigned after one game in 2016.
“First of all can I say this is one of the saddest days of my career,” McClaren said.
“Eighteen months ago (when he was appointed) was the proudest day of my career and I was honoured to be the England head coach and for 18 months I’ve enjoyed every minute.
“It is a sad day to have been relieved of my duties but I understand the decision of the FA.
“It is not an impossible job. It is a huge challenge but it is also an honour and I would not regard it as a poisoned chalice at all.”
Indeed, McClaren felt he had improved as a manager despite going through so much trauma during his time in charge.
Against Andorra in Barcelona in March 2007, McClaren was subjected to vitriol by England fans and while the reaction to the Croatia defeat was not as bad, it was apparent he had lost any support remaining on the terraces.
And, while he initially refused to resign, claiming he had “never walked away from anything in his life”, he knew the call from Barwick informing him he had been relieved of his duties was inevitable.
It came at 9.30am, 15 minutes before the FA informed the world.
“I believed I was up to the job when I took it and I still believe it now,” McClaren added. “But obviously, you are judged by results.
“I said right at the start I would live and die by results and results haven’t gone my way. In that sense we have failed. I take full responsibility for that and I have paid the price.”
While England would turn to Italy’s Fabio Capello to revive their fortunes, McClaren rebuilt his managerial career at Dutch club FC Twente, improbably leading them to the Eredivisie title in 2010.