'Manchester United and Derby never prepared me': Steve McClaren on the challenges of management and Middlesbrough's season so far

Steve McClaren managed Middlesbrough between 2001 and 2006.Steve McClaren managed Middlesbrough between 2001 and 2006.
Steve McClaren managed Middlesbrough between 2001 and 2006.
Former Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren thinks the club will move away from the Championship relegation zone when the football season resumes.

Boro are just two points above the bottom three in what has been a difficult campaign for the Teessiders and new head coach Jonathan Woodgate.

Like Woodgate, McClaren was handed his first managerial role at Boro, following spells as an assistant coach with Derby County and Manchester United.

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And despite his previous experiences in the dugout, McClaren says nothing can prepare you for the challenges of senior management.

“That was my first job,” McClaren told the Mail when discussing his time at Boro. “I had four years at Derby County and experience at Manchester United so I was ready for that situation.

“Going into a club when it’s your first managerial club is huge, nothing prepares you for managing, even my years at Derby and Manchester United never prepared me. It’s a huge responsibility and a huge task.”

Before a 1-0 win over Charlton earlier this month, Boro had gone 10 league games without a win, yet chairman Steve Gibson publicly backed Woodgate.

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McClaren received similar support during his time at the Riverside, which ultimately led to a successful period in the club’s history.

When asked about Boro’s season under Woodgate, McClaren said: “It was a difficult summer and he’s coming to grips with it, it will only take time to come to grips with it.

“Fortunately Steve gave me that time, I think the first four games we lost every one of them but I certainly had his backing all the way through.

“When football resumes Middlesbrough have got a tough task but they’ve got the players and the squad to not be involved in that relegation fight.”

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One of the positives for Boro this season has been the progression of players from the academy to their first team.

McClaren has been following the club from afar and picked out midfielder Lewis Wing, Djed Spence and Hayden Coulson as players who have caught his eye.

“I’ve been impressed with the young players that have been coming in,” McClaren added. “I knew Wing from last year, Spence at right-back and Coulson. I’ve been very impressed with them.”