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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 28, 2006

PR guru Clifford to offer help to McClaren

Public relations guru Max Clifford believes he can help new England manager Steve McClaren avoid the embarrassing gaffs of predecessor Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Clifford is set to act as an advisor to the company, Key Sports management, which represents McClaren, who will officially take charge of the national team on August 1.

The 63-year-old has worked with many high-profile clients in the past - including The Beatles, Simon Cowell of X-Factor fame, as well as Freddie Star and OJ Simpson.

More recently, he also advised Faria Alam, the secretary whose affair with both Eriksson and then Football Association chief executive Mark Palios sent shockwaves through Soho Square.

Clifford is confident his input can help ensure McClaren, 45, does not have such a rough ride when the former Middlesbrough manager officially takes over.

'I have been in the industry for the last 40 years and I do my best to play the game by journalists,' said Clifford, who has already worked successfully with McClaren earlier this year when helping him to manage news of an affair while he was temporarily separated from his wife.

'You have to be open and approachable and build relationships.

'One of the first things Steve needs to do is sit down and have lengthy conversations with members of the media and get to know them,' he said.

McClaren was said to have taken certain reporters into his confidence after England's disappointing World Cup campaign, with stories emerging of the likely make-up of his new-look backroom coaching team.

Clifford, however, maintains no such 'inner circle' exists.

He told BBC Sport: 'What Steve wants to do is build as wide a relationship as he can.

'It is important that you always tell it as it is and that there are no special favours. You treat as you find.'

Clifford insisted: 'He doesn't have an 'inner circle' of favoured journalists - it does not exist.'

McClaren had been assistant to Eriksson for a large part of the Swede's controversial reign.

Many feel the former Boro boss - appointed to the top job after Brazilian Luis Felipe Scolari turned it down - must soon stamp his own mark on the England side.

That is something which Clifford feels could work in McClaren's favour.

He said: 'At the end of the day, Steve was not running or selecting the team when Sven was manager.

'Obviously it is going to be important to make it very clear that, although he was his right-hand man, it was Sven who made the decisions, picked the team and dictated the tactics.

'In a matter of time that will come across.

'He does not need to hammer it home, but I do think he needs to make it very clear that they did things Sven's way and now they are going to do things Steve's way.'

Despite all of the attention which goes with the job of England manager, Clifford is confident McClaren will be aware of what he is walking into.

'Sven thought all he had to do was manage the England football team successfully, but he quickly found out that was only part of it,' reflected Clifford.

'He learnt from conversations I had with him, but it was never something that came easily to him.

'I think it is frightened people off the job and, admittedly, dealing with the media is like walking through a minefield.

'I will do my best to make it as easy for Steve as possible.'

As for helping guide McClaren in the right direction, Clifford insists for him it is not such a daunting prospect.

'Although the attention is massive, I would say I have had 50 more difficult PR cases to deal with,' said Clifford.

'I represented OJ Simpson when he was accused of murder, which was certainly a bit tougher.'