McClaren 'not bothered' by personal criticism
England coach Steve McClaren insists he is not bothered by personal criticism.
McClaren has been dodging the flak ever since the disastrous Euro 2008 qualifying defeat in Croatia last month but he emerged from his bunker in Amsterdam last night to see his side start to rebuild their battered reputation with a 1-1 draw against Holland.
The result should have been even better for McClaren's men but, after they had failed to find a deserved second after Wayne Rooney had put them in front, England were eventually pegged back four minutes from time by Rafael van der Vaart.
Yet there was enough in a much-improved performance to take the heat off McClaren until England's next outing against Spain at Old Trafford on February 7, although the former Middlesbrough boss claims he has not been affected by the negative comments anyway.
'I am not bothered about the criticism, all I am bothered about is the team, the performance and the result,' he said.
'What other people say about me is not a concern. My only concern is this job, ensuring England perform like they did last night and win football matches.'
Even though England were ultimately unable to record their first win in the Dutch capital since 1969, there were many plus points to take out of the game.
Pressed further upfield than usual on his first appearance under McClaren, Joe Cole was at the heart of all England's most inventive moves.
Rooney's goal broke an international drought stretching back 12 months, while 18-year-old Micah Richards enjoyed an encouraging debut after becoming the seventh youngest player to appear for England at senior level.
'Micah has come into the squad and not been fazed,' revealed McClaren.
'It seems like he has been with us for years and I had no qualms about picking him.
'When you play Holland, you have to defend well in one-on-one situations. He did that, as he has always done for his club. He handled Arjen Robben and Rafael van der Vaart very well.'
The one area of concern for McClaren was be the way his defence failed to deal with Robben's long throw in the build up to Van der Vaart's equaliser, allowing Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink to flick it to the far post where his young team-mate was waiting to fire home.
'That is the one disappointment from the night,' he admitted.
'Obviously, we don't like conceding goals and we have to find reasons for that.'
McClaren should certainly have left Holland in a far more contented mood than when he arrived.
He remains upbeat about England's chances of reaching Euro 2008 even though away wins for Croatia and Russia earlier in the evening nudged his side out of the two qualifying berths.
'We are three points behind Croatia but we still have to play them at home, while Russia are one point ahead and we have to play them twice,' observed McClaren, whose side's next qualifier is in Israel on March 24.
'I don't think this group will start until there are three or four games to go and I believe it will go down to the wire.
'I never thought it would be a breeze for anyone. Whoever thought that was silly. But it is up to us and I still say we are in a very good position.'