UPDATE: McClaren pays the price for England failure — your views

November 22, 2007

McClaren watches England from the touchlineSteve McClaren has been sacked as England coach after a 3-2 defeat by Croatia at Wembley saw his team blow a final chance to reach Euro 2008.

McClaren had said immediately after the game he had no intention of resigning but the FA took the decision to terminate his contract after a board meeting in London’s Soho Square on Thursday morning.

“The Board have agreed that there will now be a full root and branch examination of the whole England senior team set-up, which will begin with immediate effect,” the FA said in a statement.

The axe fell on McClaren — and his assistant Terry Venables — after the coach’s bold decision to bring in an inexperienced goalkeeper backfired in spectacular style, as a mistake from Scott Carson played a big part in the defeat.

Were the FA right to sack their coach? Do you think some of the senior players should be held responsible? Or is it time English football recognised more fundamental problems in the game? Please give us your views in the comments below.

PHOTO: McClaren watches during England’s defeat by Croatia at Wembley, November 21, 2007. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty   

SLIDESHOW: Check out this page for more photos from England’s miserable night at Wembley.

UPDATE: This post was updated at 1000 GMT after FA confirmed McClaren had been sacked. Thanks for all the early responses, and please keep ’em coming.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

The FA must put McClaren out of his misery.


An average club manager who only achieved mediocrity with Steve Gibson’s millions at Middlesbrough, McClaren has been out of his depth as England coach from day one.

The crude, 1970s brand of football he champions owes much to his own playing days at Hull City and Oxford United. Unfortunately England are now enjoying similar success as those lower league perennials.

Goodbye Steve McClaren and lets pray the England kingmakers can get it right this time.

Posted by bemused expat | Report as abusive

Forgot to mention: Check out this post from Martyn Herman from last week on why failure to qualify might not be such a bad thing:
http://blogs.reuters.com/soccer/2007/11/ 14/failure-to-qualify-could-be-blessing- in-disguise-for-england/

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

McClaren should be sacked for such a bad performance though out the qualifying campaign.

And england as a whole should realize it by now that they are not a great team. Great teams win trophy’s they not only qualify for them. England only won the worldcup once thats also on there soil. And they never won the EURO tournament. this is not the statistics of a “great” team.

Posted by ismail faisal | Report as abusive

if he hasn’t able to motivate them for euro 2008,when is it going to happen ?

Posted by tony | Report as abusive

What the england team and their hapless trainer seem to have forgotten is that they are wearing an England shirt on the pitch and its an honour when they play for their country. I feel betrayed as an Englishman when I watch and read about their performances. We all want them to win, with that strange feeling in your gut. Will they make it? One goal more than you was never enough for England, who just seem to go for the minimum requirement, and then get ‘surprised’ when they lose. Don’t they feel it anymore?

Posted by Neil Carter | Report as abusive

The mood in the pub where I was watching changed over the course of the game from anger at McClaren’s goalkeeper decision, to despair at the abysmal performance of the England team and finally a resignation that they did not deserve to qualify. I think that McClaren should go, but also that this raises serious questions about the way in which English players are developed.

Posted by fiona | Report as abusive

Obviously McClaren has to go. The question is whether some of the players deserve to go with him. Gerrard in particular has been found wanting in the important games.

Posted by London | Report as abusive

The FA and the players are just as culpable.

The FA botched the process of appointing the manager the last time round, and the players to me have recently seemed like they couldn’t care less.

Perhaps we should borrow tactics from Austria’s Eurovision Song Competition policy wonks and withdraw altogether, as we have no chance of winning.

On the bright side, the WAG weddings for next summer can now be booked.

Posted by Wesh Goth | Report as abusive

I remember watching McClaren´s Middlesbrough get taken apart by Sevilla in the final of the UEFA Cup a couple of seasons back and the warning signs were all there – tactically incredibly naive and there was no “plan B” when things started going wrong.

Even if England had qualified they should have sacked McClaren and brought in Mourinho on a short term contract just for Euro 2008, but now they have to think again and get someone with more tactical nouse.

Hiddink´s comments after the Russia match were very revealing – England need to look at themselves and the way they play he said.

Having said that, the players themselves should take their share of the blame.

Posted by Simon | Report as abusive


Posted by Martin | Report as abusive

Give Gordon Ramsey the job – he’s got huge pride in his work rate and will grab these overpaid “stars” by the throat and tell them they’d better have the balls to put in the effort otherwise they’re out

Posted by Iain Mac | Report as abusive


Posted by Martin | Report as abusive

Graham Taylor was the Turnip and it seems the media have labelled McClaren ‘the wally with the brolly’. That will be such an enduring image. Martin O’Neill would have been jumping up and down on the touchline yet McClaren was under an umbrella with a hot cup of coffee! Such courage!
Unfortunately though it doesnt matter who is manager…the facts show England as a team are no good at football. There is so much pressure from fans and the media that they will always crumble, even with a great boss at the helm.

Posted by Mark Meadows | Report as abusive

The question is not whether McClaren had to be sacked or not. The real question, to me, is: “What is English football worth ?”
I think, like Martyn, that England’s failure is “a blessing in disguise”. France failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup and went on to win the 1998 WC and Euro 2000.

Posted by Julien Pretot | Report as abusive

I know McClaren wasn’t up to it, but at best the team he has is made up of bit parts players in the premiership, players that are usually outshone by their overseas teammates week in week out- no technique, no teamwork, passing ability, no intelligence to read the game. The Croatians (basically a poverty stricken post war country) taught us a lesson. We need to re-format our whole thought of the game

Posted by William Chaplin | Report as abusive

Of course McClaren had to go. Just a shame they kept him for so long. But how many millions will he get? Disgraceful. Just as shocking as the dismal performance is the sight of grown men crying over it though. And I not sure if I can face Mourinho taking over.

Posted by Madeline | Report as abusive

Last night’s appauling performance can be firmly placed on the heads of certain players and an inept management team, not only Mclaren (Although he takes ultimate resposibility) but where does Venables go now? You would have thought that he would would have at least had some idea, Sadly apparently not.Of course ultimately the blame lies with the FA they are the ones that allow our top sides to play in our leagues with only one or two English players in the side. If that continues our young players will never be allowed the experiece to show the true potential and become true world class footballers.

Posted by Bob Walsall | Report as abusive

MCLAREN should be sacked long time ago and be replaced by MOURINHO.
Come on Mourinho this is a job for you

Posted by Rey | Report as abusive

Headline “McClaren pays the price for England failure”. What about the quoted circa £2million payout, more than a pensioner will ever receive in state pension in their lifetime, more than the average workers wages over 40 years. How can such failure be rewarded by such excess, does this not set a bad example to others by advocating that failure is no longer to be considered as a “crime”. We have dumbed down education now we are dumbing down success.

Posted by John Platt | Report as abusive

While it was the players and not McClaren who under-performed for the best part of the campaign, McClaren had to pay the price for several howlers in the key match: choosing Carson, leaving Beckham on the bench and playing for a draw with one striker. But ultimately, England fans must realise they are unrealistic in expecting a vastly overrated team to be up there with the world’s best vying for honours. Qualifying for Euro 2008 was a minimum of course but the failure to do so should also teach many people a lesson not to underestimate nations they might struggle to find on the world map.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

You can compare the England squad with our civil servants, with abject failure they will still get paid for doing nothing.

Posted by Richard Vanbergen | Report as abusive

Good point about the huge pay-off, John and Madeline. It seems incredible that you can walk away with so much after having acheived basically nothing.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Clearly, player attitude is a problem and the comments above about the English Premiership players being bit-part players at their clubs rings true.

Personally, I would seriously consider players from the lower leagues. Some of them are not much less skilled than their premiership counterparts. After all, the problem here is a coherent team – not individual skill. Als, not being mult-millionaires they may actually have a passion for wearing the England shirt.

Look at Leeds United this season – if an England side had half of that passion I would watch them – win lose or draw.

Posted by Kieran O’Connor | Report as abusive

Put a picture of Gorden Brown, Alistair Darling and Steve McLaren next to one another and ask ‘who inspires you most’….or are they all from the same mould!

Posted by Alan | Report as abusive

England are a great team – and mcclaren was a crap coach.

Posted by Shah Khan | Report as abusive

I feel that Englands failure to reach Euro 2008 is merely the product of a badly run and outdated organization – the FA. While the Premier league have gone from strength the strength the FA have gone backwards and failed to keep up with modern day international football. I hope that now we have some time on our hands that the FA will have a major shake up all the way through it to make it leaner and better run organization. But alas, what I expect will happen is firing McClaren will shield what really needs to be done and allow the press and public to focus on McClaren as the scapegoat and allow the FA to continue to blunder there way through the management of our football.

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive

Unfortunately the reason that we have mediocre managers for the England job is that nobody wants this job.It is that simple!
Not only do good premiership managers not want the poison chalice but they contribute to it by ensuring their players are “injured”, don’t run themselves ragged or are otherwise too busy. After all, what is the point of having your best players damaged in an England match and unable to get points for your team on a Premiership fixture?
Oh by the way, did anyone notice Venables sitting next to McClaren last night? For all his suggestions on how to win every game when he was a tv pundit he seemed distinctly out of ideas last night!

Posted by nick | Report as abusive

Yes, McLaren should be sacked … but then half the England squad so go as well. The only one making any effort was (and I hate to say this) Beckham. He seemed like the only player in an English shirt who could be bothered.
In future, leave the superstars to their fast cars and let’s recruit English players who have the desire. And, as Kieran said above, look to the lower leagues as well. David Healey was a star for his country last year and he has only just got in the Premiership. I want to see players who are hungry and proud to represent and give their all for their country. You can keep the prima donnas who won’t risk an injury in case they miss out on a league match. Give me Joe “Run till I die” Bloggs from Accrington Stanley in an England shirt over Joe “Don’t mess my hairdo” Bloggs from Chelsea!

Posted by James | Report as abusive

James, thanks for your interesting comment. You may want to check out this piece my colleague Mitch Phillips has just filed:
http://blogs.reuters.com/soccer/2007/11/ 22/we-cant-just-keep-blaming-the-manager -can-we/

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

My self I am just so fed up with watching these over paid footballers, the whole football system is just so awash with punters out to make money, nothing to do with sport, or representing their Country. The manager gets the sack and is given £2,000,000 ……. for what , he laughing all the way to his retirement ……. oh well at least our magnificant footballers can put their feet up this summer, watch the Euro tournament without them, on the tele, and if they get bored with that they can accompany their lovely wifes out shopping

Posted by Karl Pitwon | Report as abusive

The FA and the next coach need to ask themselves why so many of our top players underperform or are injured on England duty. The egos in the squad need a disciplinarian – look at the success that flowed for Man Utd after Ferguson got rid of the drinkers and the gamblers. England need to do the same. Remember the Taylor refuelling comments on Gazza and the infamous dentist’s chair and plane wrecking exploits ten years ago. Some of those just departing the current England set-up presided over that infamous era when another golden generation could have won Euro 96 but didn’t….if the next England coach doesn’t address the issues of nutrition and other off-field behaviour he’ll be as much a fraud as other recent incumbents…

Posted by Paul Paynter | Report as abusive

England need someone who will really clean house, shake things up and who will not be intimidated by the old rules and old ways. Germany had a similar situation in 2002 and lucked out with Juergen Klinsmann, who used up a lot of capital fighting the system and got a lot of enemies along the way. But it was exactly what Germany needed then and, I think, what England need now.

Posted by An England fan | Report as abusive

guess you guy’s just got brought back down to earth,surely very few English fans really thought they were good enough.you need some Scottish passion in your players as well as the backing of the tartan army.for too long now you have had the rub of the green the genie is tired out

Posted by scotty | Report as abusive

i hate him

Posted by apex | Report as abusive

England not good enough this time, but getting rid of a McClaren is a step in the right direction with the next World Cup in mind. It’s time to let half the team go as well, bringing in a few players from outside the top six or seven clubs (and Spurs).

Posted by Dave x | Report as abusive