AS soon as Erik ten Hag was given the Manchester United job, it was always a question of when, not if, Steve McClaren got a mention.
It was hardly the toughest joining of the dots when the guessing game began over his backroom team.
Erik ten Hag will take over as Man Utd boss in the summerCredit: Rex
Man Utd icon Wayne Rooney is likely to stay at DerbyCredit: Getty
Ten Hag had, after all, worked alongside McClaren at Twente and the two have remained close ever since.
And given McClaren’s background — two years as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant in the glory years — it was something of a no-brainer to many.
Even Fergie himself said the man who went on to become England manager was a key figure at the time. But the key word in that is ‘was’.
Of course, it’s easy to see the benefits of Ten Hag having ‘insider’ knowledge alongside him, as he gets to know his new employers and the sheer enormity of the place. But without decrying McClaren’s qualifications, isn’t there a more obvious candidate out there?
Someone whose Old Trafford links are a lot more recent than the two decades that have passed since Steve was in the dugout?
A man now carving his own impressive reputation on the coaching side, hugely respected for all he achieved as a player and winning a new set of admirers in one of the toughest jobs in football.
What United need now more than ever is to be moving forward. A club desperate to create a new pathway, a new future, hopefully a new dynasty,
So wouldn’t it make more sense for Ten Hag to pick up the phone and ask Wayne Rooney if he would be interested in joining his coaching team?
Talking to United fans, there are certainly plenty out there who think the former England captain would be a perfect addition to the club’s new backroom staff.
Yes, I’m well aware that Rooney is on the record about how he wants to stay at Derby County and lead the club back into the Championship and beyond.
And there’s no doubt they want him to remain, having inspired such a fight to stay up despite that huge points deduction.
But for all Roo’s commitment to the Rams right now, don’t forget that is still dependent on the club being taken over. And although that is getting closer, it hasn’t happened yet.
Of course, as it stands he hasn’t got a decision to make regarding United at this moment, either.
Well, why not give him a decision to make?
Wayne has made no secret of the fact he would love to manage the club at some stage. But that is still some time off — he knows it as well as anyone — and there is much learning to be done first.
Well, where better to learn it than inside Carrington, working alongside one of the brightest coaches in Europe?
From Ten Hag’s point of view, Rooney is clearly a good coach. Results at Derby are proof of that.
There would be no doubts about whether the players would listen to him either.
One of the biggest and most damning accusations against the squad has concerned attitude. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer never totally had it, Ralf Rangnick even less. And as much as Ten Hag plans a rebuild, he can’t get rid of everyone in one hit. Some will remain.
Yet with Rooney out there on the training ground with them, that certainly wouldn’t be an issue. And the new manager wouldn’t be bringing in a man who was immediately hovering over his shoulder, waiting to take the job the minute a couple of results went against them.
He’d be laying the foundations to United’s very own bootroom, like the one that served Liverpool so well back in the day.
Grooming a man ready to step up when you do eventually decide to move on.
Yes, McClaren was a great servant to United, and I’m not suggesting he’s a busted flush. But what I am saying is there are better choices.
And the best move would be to call Rooney and see if he fancied it. I don’t think there’s any doubt what the answer would be.
Just keep it real, Jamie
AT the risk of being labelled an old sourpuss, is it just me or is the punditry role on Sky especially becoming a joke?
I’ve no problem with using people who clearly have allegiances to one side or another.
We all know who Graeme Souness, for example, wants to win if he’s covering a Liverpool game. But that doesn’t mean he drops the professionalism.
If only you could say the same for the rest of them. Last week we got the worst example ever, when Jamie Carragher made Divock Origi man of the match for his half-hour off the bench for Liverpool.
Fair enough, he got the clinching second goal — a nod into an empty net from a yard — to keep up his record of scoring against Everton.
Jamie Carragher named Divock Origi as his Merseyside derby man of the matchCredit: Getty
But the star performer? Above Andy Robertson’s opener, a block at the other end to save a goal and a great all-round display? The irony is Carragher is a fine pundit, one of the best. His more forensic analysis on Monday night football showed that.
But on Sunday he almost became a caricature.
Cheerleading pundits have become as annoying as Martin Tyler’s play-to-the-gallery screaming “And It’s Live” before kick-off.
One thing, Martin . . . it’s not about you, mate. Give me Clive Tyldesley every day of the week.
Silva will have to prove he’s solid
THERE is no doubt Marco Silva has done a great job rebuilding his reputation by bringing Fulham back into the Premier League.
And credit to him for dropping down a division to restore his standing in the game that took such a shredding when he was Everton manager.
But now the hard work begins — and in many ways for him even more than the players.
Fulham won the Championship with a cavalier style, one that will see them finish the season with more than a century of goals.
It is an approach that would see them taken apart in the top flight, and Silva won’t need telling his biggest job now is to sort out the backline. And to show doubters he has learned the lessons and knows how to defend.
Because there have been plenty of questions about that wherever he’s been in the past, be it Hull, Watford, Everton or now at Fulham.
It’s up to Silva to prove he has that in his armoury. To show that the squad is better equipped than the previous Prem collection under Scott Parker.
Fulham will spend — but they’ll have to because that backline makes you tremble, for all it was good enough in the Championship.
So salute the manager for this season, by all means. But don’t hail him as the new Messiah just yet. It’s up to him to prove he is solid Silva and not fool’s gold.
NO ARGUMENTS with Mo Salah being voted player of the season. But special mention has to go to a man whose mere appearance on the teamsheet used to have his own fans spitting fury.
When Joelinton was playing up front for Newcastle, he had more chance of serving the wine than picking up a prize at the players’ awards.
Since Eddie Howe arrived and moved him into midfield, he has been a revelation. If he keeps this up next season, he’ll be a contender, believe me.
FANS’ chants have been in the spotlight and it’s true some have been totally unacceptable.
But as non-PC as it was, I did chuckle at how Manchester United supporters greeted Romelu Lukaku in Thursday’s draw against Chelsea.
As Lukaku warmed up on the touchline, they clearly got the impression he’d bulked up since his days at Old Trafford.
It would explain their rousing chorus of: “Get your t**s out for the lads!”
Even the Belgian had half a smile at that one.