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Weekend Premier League predictions

Premier League
By ESPN Staff

McClaren 'one of the best' - Hargreaves

Owen Hargreaves has hit back at the criticism of England manager Steve McClaren by calling him 'one of the best managers I've ever had'.

McClaren was the victim of a stinging parting shot from former Middlesbrough striker Massimo Maccarone last week, who said of the man who brought him to club: 'Only in England can someone with such evident limits become the head of the national team.'

But Bayern Munich midfielder Hargreaves, who has been named in the squad for Wednesday's friendly with Spain having just made his comeback from a broken leg said: 'I think he's one of the best managers I've ever had.

'The amount of effort he puts into the training sessions, you can really see that we're extremely well-prepared whenever we go to games.

'The amount of time we spend on the opponents and on ourselves, the combinations and tactics - set-pieces - I think is something I've never experienced under any other manager.

'I think he does a fantastic job.'

Hargreaves also echoed McClaren's belief that Joey Barton's maiden call-up will not cause any friction in the England camp.

The Manchester City midfielder criticised players for cashing in on autobiographies in the wake of last summer's dismal World Cup performances.

But Hargreaves believes Barton will not be treated any differently from other squad members, adding on BBC Radio Five Live: 'I think everything is forgotten when you go on the pitch.

'We're a team and everybody wants to do well.

'It should be a great moment for him.

'Hopefully, he can adapt to the squad and prove a player to help us in the future.'