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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Feb 8, 2007

Top clubs 'not helping' McClaren - Gibson

Steve McClaren is being asked to 'perform miracles' as England manager, according to his former chairman Steve Gibson.

The Middlesbrough supremo has hit out at what he sees as unfair criticism of McClaren following last night's 1-0 defeat to Spain, England's fourth straight match without a win.

Gibson believes the entire structure of English football is to blame for the current malaise that has beset the national team and insists McClaren is being hamstrung by the tools at his disposal.

'What we're asking Steve to do is perform miracles,' Gibson said on BBC Radio Five Live.

'He might be able to perform one or two but he's not able to perform them forever.'

Gibson claims English football is suffering the side-effects of having arguably the most successful league in the world, where club agendas often conflict with national concerns.

This includes providing the quality and depth of player qualified to play for England.

'Steve can only work with the tools that the country gives him and at the moment those tools aren't good enough,' Gibson said.

He added: 'I think Steve needs to be judged at the end of his term, not less than one year into it after five or six games.

'I don't see how things will be improved if we say Steve McClaren will be out of a job if we don't qualify for [Euro] 2008.

'There's many, many other reasons why the English football team isn't working. It hasn't worked successfully since 1966.

'So anybody who thinks it's going to be turned around immediately is really fooling themselves.

'It's not just the players. Our whole set-up towards football at national level needs some thinking.

'The Liverpools and the Arsenals, what do they contribute at national level?

'If we're going to improve our game at the national level, we need to involve the clubs - the clubs have got to have a willingness.

'We've got to start at looking not just at the head coach, but at the whole structure.

'We do have an enormously successful Premiership. It is exciting, it's great to watch, it's great to be involved in.

'But I see this march we've had over the past five or 10 years of clubs appointing foreign coaches, foreign assistants.

'What chances are English footballers getting at our major clubs?'

McClaren's Boro were renowned for giving young English players their big chance, a trend that has continued under new manager Gareth Southgate, who is also English.

Gibson said: 'If we're the last club to fly the flag of St George, we will. We're going to stay English.'

He also had some choice words for Massimo Maccarone, who departed the club with a bitter parting shot at McClaren last week.

'I think Massimo's a fool,' Gibson said. 'He came to this football club with a tremendous opportunity. He wasted that opportunity. His comments afterwards were foolish.'

Gibson also revealed his pride at seeing Middlesbrough-born Jonathan Woodgate represent his country for the first time in almost three years last night.

'It was a proud moment for me, it was a proud moment for everybody at Middlesbrough,' Gibson said of the on-loan Real Madrid defender, who is contemplating making his switch permanent.

Gibson added: 'We will work our socks off to keep Jonathan at this football club.'