/ 22 November 2007

Press pound England boss

Britain’s newspapers savaged Steve McClaren on Thursday after the England manager failed to guide his team to the 2008 European Championships.

McClaren was expected to be sacked within hours of going to print as the national press put the boot into the Yorkshireman following Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat to visitors Croatia here at Wembley, when a draw would have been enough to qualify.

The Sun‘s front page was filled by a picture of a punctured England football lying in the gutter.

Britain’s biggest-selling daily talked of McClaren being axed in the past tense as it laid into the former Middlesbrough manager and his team.

”England taught the world how to play football. Sometimes it seems we’ve forgotten how to do it ourselves,” its editorial read.

”The World Cup in South Africa is only two and a half years away. We need to rebuild, and quickly.”

Besides McClaren, it was time to show the ”blazered buffoons” running English football ”the door of their sumptuous offices”.

Shaun Custis wrote: ”Useless, pathetic, insipid, spineless, desperate, rubbish. England are the joke of European football.

”McClaren has somehow taken the so-called golden generation backwards from the Sven-Goran Eriksson era.

”Let’s have Sven back. We can only dream of three successive quarterfinals now.”

The front page of the Daily Mirror read: ”England disgrace”.

”Furious England fans turned on Steve McClaren last night [Wednesday] after a pitiful defeat by Croatia dumped us out of Euro 2008 … on one of the most disastrous nights in our football history.”

McClaren avoided being lashed by the rain by using a huge umbrella.

However, there was no escaping the lashing he got from the newspapers for doing so.

”What a bunch of losers,” said the Daily Star‘s front page.

”McClaren … looked a fool and it is the first time I have seen a coach using an umbrella on the touchline. It gave out the wrong messages,” while the soaked Croatia boss Slaven Bilic lept about barking orders,” wrote Brian Woolnough.

The Daily Mail said: ”Great leaders inspire their men to glory. Steve McClaren will be remembered as a wally with a brolly.”

He seemed to be ”auditioning for Singing in the Rain. Was he trying to summon the insouciance of Fred Astaire?

”Again and again we confront the painful truth that countries a fraction of England’s size and with infinitely less cash produce technically superior football that shows up the clumsiness and panic of some of our players when pressure is applied.”

”Hopeless, hapless, helpless” said the Guardian‘s sports section.

Richard Williams said the crowd booing Croatia as they kept possession in their own half ”was a minor example of the kind of ignorance that has held English football back for half a century”.

The Times had a picture of McClaren looking glum under his umbrella.

”On the darkest night in the recent history of English football, the multi-millionaires of the national team suffered their greatest humiliation as their European Championship qualifying campaign ended in failure and angry scenes,” wrote Oliver Kay.

Matt Dickinson said a search for a new England manager would send fans crawling back under the duvet.

”You will remember the last one as a farce that concluded with the appointment of Steve McClaren. Didn’t that turn out well.”

Newspapers mostly gave poor ratings for the players, with striker Peter Crouch seemingly the pick of a bad bunch. Goalkeeper Scott Carson and left-back Wayne Bridge generally got the worst marks.

The papers ran the rule on possible contenders to replace McClaren, recalled the highs and lows of his time in charge and named and shamed the 36 players who took part in the failed campaign.

The Daily Star advised fans to look forward to golf and snooker tournaments to keep themselves entertained. – AFP