Steve McClaren still looking for consistency to his career

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Steve McClaren has long polarised opinion.

For every success he has enjoyed, there is an abject failure to creep alongside it. A success as Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant and at Middlesbrough, but an abject failure with England. Indeed, as England boss, the national side failed to qualify for Euro 2008. Then he achieved success abroad with AZ Alkmaar - followed by failures elsewhere.

No more clearly could this Jekyll and Hyde managerial career be shown to the world than in McClaren's time at Derby County. He joined the club with a remit to take the Rams back to the Premier League, where they could avenge their record-low points tally in the top flight in their last campaign there.


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Things began smoothly for McClaren, who took Derby to the top of the Championship in his first season there. However, his side were pegged back and finished in the playoffs, where they were installed as favourites for promotion early-on.

They romped through their semi-final and faced QPR in the final. This was a curious game, as Derby ran riot for 89 minutes and ended up against just 10 men, only for the score to remain 0-0.

It was the most one-sided 0-0 a supporter could hope to see, but then in a cruel twist of fate, with less than a minute to go, Bobby Zamora condemned Derby to another season in the Championship with a late winner for QPR.

Derby were promptly installed again as favourites for promotion to the top flight last season. They led the division for a time, only to collapse so astonishingly that they failed to get into the playoffs. The talk was that the side's downturn in form coincided with press linking McClaren to the job at Newcastle. His head was turned, it was believed, and this lack of focus wrecked Derby's season. Whether or not this is the case, it frames the discussion of McClaren's time at Newcastle now.

This Jekyll and Hyde coach can enjoy success, but is also prone to struggles in his career. He had coveted this top-flight job at Newcastle for a little while now, and will be disappointed with the start he has made.

Newcastle sit at the foot of the Premiership after five games, having collected just two points. It is a shocking start, and it adds to the feeling that perhaps McClaren cannot arrest the slide this time.

He has always previously managed to land somewhere that he can forge intermittent success. But the stats now show that the manager has won just two of his last 17 games with Derby and Newcastle.

This record suggests a coach in decline, and the longer the slump goes on, the more fans will feel that this up-and-down manager is not the man for the job.

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