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Mac's back with a hat-trick aim

2 October 2013

By Tony Leighton

Steve McClaren has taken over the managerial reins at Derby County for his third spell with the club and aims to complete what would be quite a hat-trick.

Having helped the Rams gain promotion to the top flight as a player in the 1980s and then as assistant manager to Jim Smith in the 1990s, the former England boss is now hoping to lead the club back up to the Premier League.

"I always dreamed about managing here," said McClaren as he took over from the departed Nigel Clough with Derby sitting 14th in the Sky Bet Championship table.

McClaren watched but did not initially take charge of his new team's Tuesday night with Ipswich Town. But with the Rams 4-1 down at the interval, he entered the dressing room to give what proved an inspirational half-time talk and re-arrange the line-up to spark a fight-back that brought a 4-4 draw.

It was Derby's first outing since Clough's dismissal, which ironically followed Saturday's defeat at East Midland rivals Nottingham Forest - the club that sacked McClaren after just 13 games as manager two seasons ago.

"I've proved I can be successful but I've also proved I can fail," said the ex-Middlesbrough, FC Twente and Wolfsburg manager candidly.

He was a success as Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United before becoming a manager in his own right at the Riverside Stadium. But, he noted: "When I went into Middlesbrough everyone said I was hopeless.

"It took me three years to get a handle on that job. But for me, coming into management was all about building a team and winning something.

"I was fortunate at Middlesbrough to be an English manager winning trophies and getting to a UEFA Cup final. And I went abroad to Holland and won a title there. I also had the experience - good and bad - of the England job."

Unfortunately for McClaren it is the bad part of the England job for which he will almost certainly be remembered, the now 52-year-old manager being handed the infamous 'Wally with the Brolly' tag after the national team's Euro 2008 qualifying demise at the hands of Croatia at a rain-sodden Wembley.

"That's football," said a philosophical McClaren when reminded of the jibe, adding, "it's getting worse. [Arsenal manager] Arsene Wenger gets unfair stick and he's top of the Premier League. And the England job is magnified 10 times more than club football. Time heals though, and it has."

McClaren has also had to recover from the wounds of a sacking at Bundesliga club Wolfsburg and the reluctant resignation that ended his second spell at FC Twente, his last job before joining the Queens Park Rangers coaching staff in July.

Now he has returned to Derby and is determined to also make a return to winning ways in management. "I could have stayed abroad," he said. "I feel my reputation is better in Europe than here, but I wanted to come back to England.

"It didn't happen in the summer and [manager] Harry Redknapp was fantastic to give me the opportunity to coach at QPR. Now I have the opportunity at Derby. I played here, I was assistant here and I always dreamed about managing here."

He has signed a contract to the end of the 2015/16 season and he added: "I am thrilled, excited, and it's a big challenge ahead. I know that I can't change things rapidly, it's about looking at everything and saying we have two-and-a-half years to build this club up to get it challenging to go into the Premier League."

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