McClaren's Roller Coaster Ride Lands Him at Wolfsburg

11 May 2010

German side VfL Wolfsburg have appointed former England manager Steve McClaren coach, reports said on 11 May 2010. McClaren, who has just led FC Twente to the club's first Dutch league title, has agreed a two-year contract with the 2009 Bundesliga champions. (Credit Image: © EPA/
One thing is certain, Steve McClaren loves to do things the hard way.

On Tuesday, the first English manager to win a European title since Sir Bobby Robson confirmed what many had thought, but I was secretly wishing he wouldn't do: join Wolfsburg on a 2 year contract. After a relatively successful time at Middlesbrough, where he won the club's first trophy and made an UEFA Cup final, he fell flat on his face as England manager. He landed at FC Twente in hopes of reviving his managerial career, but ended up doing more than that. In his two season in charge of the Dutch club, he finished runner up in his first season, and won the club's first Dutch Eredivisie title this past season.

Now, McClaren has been given the chance to rebuild Wolfsburg into a potential title winning force. After winning the title two season ago, Wolfsburg's 2009-10 campaign was rather tame. The team won their first two matches of the Bundesliga season, then proceeded to lose their next three on the trot. If that wasn't bad enough, Wolfsburg did not gain a win from November 21st to February 21st; only picking up four points in ten matches during that time, which included a month off for the traditional German winter break. They did close out the season strongly, getting 25 points out of a potential 36, but the damage had already been done. In Europe, Wolfsburg crashed from the Champions League down to the Europa League and were then knocked out in the quarter final stage by Fulham.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that McClaren is leaving Twente at a time where they could guarantee him Champions League football to go off in hopes of building up another side. Twente was about as close to a dream position for him; it was a place where his strength of coaching players fit like a glove. He was able to increase his tactical awareness, and in the process bring the club to heights they never previously achieved. Why not give yourself one more year to enjoy the fruit of your labor while building up your profile through the Champions League and another sustained league run.

But I guess when you are at the peak of your success, and you still feel you have to rehabilitate your career, one has to move on and look for greener pastures. Wolfsburg is an incredible opportunity, but there are some issues McClaren has to quickly address. Can he keep the partnership of Edin Dzeko and Grafite together? Considering some of the offers being rumored for Dzeko, that is going to be a tough ask. The right side of the field needs some work, particularly in the midfield. The defense also needs shoring up after allowing seventeen more goals this season than they did in their title winning campaign. It might not hurt either to see if they either have a reliable number one, or if they need to look for one in the transfer market.

When it's all said and done, I think this move may have come a year too soon. While I understand McClaren wants to eventually build himself up for a move back to the Premier League, and that Wolfsburg will be a good opportunity to show what he has learned from his days in Holland, he will have to put too many pieces back together before this squad is capable of challenging for the Bundesliga title. This is at least a two season rebuilding process. Hopefully Wolfsburg have the patience to see this whole process out. Sadly, I don't see that happening.


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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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