'Working with Sir Alex Ferguson was the ultimate' - ex-England manager McClaren

The FC Twente boss insists that his time as England manager has made him a better coach and feels he is lucky to have learned his trade from the Manchester United boss
By Jordan Halford & Adam Cottier

FC Twente manager Steve McClaren has called working with Sir Alex Ferguson the “ultimate” experience, while also revealing his time in the England hotseat taught him a number of valuable lessons.

The 51-year-old cut his teeth in the coaching industry under the Scotsman at Old Trafford, where United clinched the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, among other honours, during his time as assistant manager.

McClaren then moved to Middlesbrough in 2001 to take his first job as head coach and guided the club to a League Cup triumph two years later, before a highly impressive run to the Uefa Cup final the following season.

And McClaren has branded himself “lucky” to learn from the Manchester United boss, telling Goal.com: "Working with Sir Alex Ferguson was the ultimate.

"He is the ultimate, that is top management. Working with Sven for England was great, it was very interesting, we had three tournaments with England.

"I have been lucky when I reflect and I hope this continues."

Domestic success led to an ill-fated 22-month spell in charge of England, which saw the Three Lions fail to qualify for Euro 2008 and thus miss out on their first major tournament in 14 years.

McClaren insists, however, that the learning curve he experienced during his spell as national coach was highly informative for his later years and concedes the opportunity was ill suited to him at the time.

"A lot of my managerial experience and all the lessons I have learned were whilst I was working with England and being involved with England," he continued.

"It was too early for me, I was young and ambitious, I felt I could do the job but my inexperience and some bad luck, it just came a little too early.

"But I have no regrets, it has given me opportunities. As an ex-international manager I can pass on my experiences to others and other coaches around the world."

McClaren sought to redeem his damaged reputation at FC Twente, and took the club into the Champions League before winning the Eredivisie title in his second season.

And the 51-year-old believes his successes abroad are down to his previous failings elsewhere.

He added: "The pleasing thing was just to come here [FC Twente] and do well in my first two years, get Champions League in the first year and the championship in my second.

"That ruthless ambition I once had has decreased a little and I’m more realistic and more experienced now, I feel I am a better coach now than I was a few years ago and I am grateful for the opportunity with England. It just didn’t work out."