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Friday, January 18, 2008
McClaren: England stint made me better boss

Steve McClaren believes his time with England made him a better manager, and he is now itching to prove it.

After appearing at a coaches' convention in Baltimore, America, McClaren claimed the lessons learned during his 18 months in charge of the national team will only make him stronger.

'I learned fantastic lessons and had a great experience, positive and negative,' McClaren said. 'I went through some adversity and had some good times like in every job. Not a lot of people experience that.

'I think as long as I reflect and learn, which I have done, I can come back more determined the next time around, whatever the challenge is.'

It is two months since McClaren was sacked in the wake of England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008, and the 46-year-old wants to get back into the game as soon as the right opportunity presents itself.

'I'm not one for lying on the beach,' he said. 'I've taken a vacation, had some rest and a holiday with the family, but it's a new year and a new beginning. I'm keeping myself busy waiting for the next challenge, whatever that might be.

'Who knows? It might be tomorrow, six weeks, who knows in football? I'm just waiting for the right one and making sure I'm prepared.'

McClaren said he is 'not restricted' on where in the world he goes next, but admitted he would prefer a return to the Premier League, where he managed Middlesbrough after a spell as first-team coach at Manchester United.

'I've coached (in the Premier League), I know the players and the league inside out,' he said. 'My record at Middlesbrough shows that I know what it takes to stay in that league, to achieve in that league. It's a great league, the most popular in the world.'

Impressed by the set-up he has found during a number of recent visits to the United States, McClaren even suggested Major League Soccer would be a possibility.

'I'm not dismissing anything and I wouldn't,' he said when asked about the league. 'Football is football and I think the experience is beneficial, whatever country it is in.'

However, McClaren made it clear he is hoping to land a job with a club that can contend in whatever league it is playing in.

'I'm not going to rush into anything. I want to make sure it's right and the right thing is someone who is ambitious and who can challenge for top spots, whether that's in England or anywhere,' he said.

'A lot of people are talking about English coaches and their experience in Europe,' he added.

'I've been very fortunate in my career that I have that experience, both coaching and managing, and at international level as well, so that stands me in good stead I think.'

McClaren wants Fabio Capello to hand David Beckham his 100th cap when England play Switzerland next month.

'I sincerely hope he gets it,' said McClaren. 'He deserves it, he's worked hard. He would have achieved it already but for injuries at the end of the campaign.

'It's a friendly, he knows the manager. I think the whole country would like to see it as well.'

McClaren controversially dropped Beckham for his first game in charge of England and it seemed it was the end of the midfielder's international career. But in an attempt to revitalise England's ill-fated bid to qualify for Euro 2008, Beckham was recalled by McClaren, giving him the chance to reach the landmark of 100 caps.

The former England manager was speaking after appearing at a coaches' convention in Baltimore, where Beckham has been a constant topic of conversation as US fans await the new season and, hopefully, a fully-fit Beckham in action for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Much of the hype created by Beckham's move to Major League Soccer last season was lost as the 32-year-old was sidelined by ankle and knee injuries, but McClaren expects big things of Beckham this year.

'I've said it to him and I've spoken to other people - it's like a new signing all over again,' said McClaren. 'Although you've had the furore of David Beckham coming over off the field, now you get David Beckham on the field and that can only be good for MLS.'

Beckham's move to Los Angeles last July caused McClaren to take a closer look at the burgeoning American competition, which continues to grow at a rapid rate as it enters its 13th year of existence.

McClaren sees all the signs of a league ready to make its mark on the world stage.

'It's certainly building,' he said. 'I think with David Beckham coming, its profile has, certainly in England, shot way up.

'I think it's still got a lot of developing to do before it becomes a major force, but knowing the Americans, their ambitions with what they want to do and what they've done with other sports, they're going to be trying very very hard to make MLS competitive and attractive.'

McClaren said he made the trip to Baltimore because he feels a responsibility to aid the development of young coaches and give back to the game.

'I'm just waiting for the next challenge, wanting to get back in, and now I'm working for myself and staying in football, being able to help other coaches - I see that as one of my responsibilities as a coach who has come through the system,' he said.

McClaren's hopes of a return to the Premier League have been boosted by another former England manager, Kevin Keegan, taking over at Newcastle, while McClaren's predecessor Sven-Goran Eriksson impresses with Manchester City.

'It just shows that ex-England managers are not dead and are better for the experience,' he said. 'People have got to realise that and I think they are doing. Certainly after leaving England, Sven has used his time well and it has served him well.

'With (Newcastle's) fanbase, they love their football, and if Kevin Keegan is the man that can bring them what they've been craving for, then good luck.'

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