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Last Updated: Friday, 11 August 2006, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
McClaren restores the passion
By Paul Fletcher
At the Landmark Hotel, London

England coach Steve McClaren faces the press on Friday
I'm not so much making a statement - these are my ideas

Steve McClaren

Steve McClaren repeatedly denied that his first squad as England manager was a signal of intent but the evidence suggested otherwise.

McClaren unveiled a 25-man squad without Sol Campbell, David James and, most significantly, former skipper David Beckham at a news conference in London on Friday.

Sven-Goran Eriksson seemed unwilling to even substitute Beckham, let alone drop his captain, but McClaren has probably brought to a close the Real Madrid player's 94-cap England career.

McClaren insisted time and again that the door was always open for Beckham and the other senior players omitted from his squad.

But in one rare false move in an otherwise polished performance, McClaren ushered a Freudian slip when he said "the door will never be open."

When asked whether Beckham was not still the best right-sided player at his disposal, McClaren replied: "That is to be proved."

McClaren insisted that he was facilitating a period of "evolution not revolution" but the decision to drop Beckham, who had made it clear he wanted to continue his England career, is a sure sign that he will do things his way.

The school of thought that suggested McClaren would be little more than Eriksson Mark II might have to revise its thinking.

McClaren's first 11 days in the job have seen three senior members of the squad jettisoned, Sammy Lee depart, Under-21 coach Peter Taylor told a permanent appointment will be made for the post and Terry Venables named as his new assistant.

The return of Venables is sure to be a popular move with the press - and the 63-year-old seemed delighted to be back.

Tanned as always and unable to stop grinning, Venables gushed: "I feel wonderful to be involved again."

Indeed, the over-riding countenance of coach and assistant seemed to be one of purring delight.

When one journalist asked Venables whether, as such an influential figure, he might overshadow McClaren, the head coach's reaction was to break out into an enormous smile.

Furthermore, McClaren, Venables and new skipper John Terry's repeated use of the word "passionate" hinted at a change of direction for a team so often accused under Eriksson of lacking the bullish brim and vigour characteristic of the English game.

Terry Venables (left) with head coach Steve McClaren
Venables (left) and McClaren were all smiles

The motionless demeanour of Eriksson on the touchline at crucial junctures in England's recent fixtures hardly endeared him to the supporting masses.

McClaren might never directly criticise his former boss but talking of the need to build a team "the fans can be proud of" suggested the end of ice-cool England.

He said that he had learnt lessons from the World Cup but that he was "not going to share them".

606 VIEW
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Terry's first sentence contained the word "passionate" twice and if the early signals prove correct McClaren intends to restore some much-needed pride to a team that has so often failed to inspire.

The England captain was asked how he had reacted to the news of his appointment.

He was having a massage at the time and simply staggered. McClaren said his new skipper "never said anything".

McClaren promised to develop a squad capable of challenging at Euro 2008 and insisted on building a team to "start winning and start winning well".

The 45-year-old said all the right things and did so with a smile on his face - suggesting that his much-publicised media coaching is paying dividends.

He outlined a case that subtly suggested he is very much his own man, that he will run the team his way.

But McClaren, like all who have come before him, will soon learn that the only performances that count for an England manager take place on the pitch.



SEE ALSO
McClaren ends Beckham England era
11 Aug 06 |  Internationals
Verdicts on Beckham
11 Aug 06 |  Internationals
Beckham timeline
11 Aug 06 |  Football
Ashton receives England call-up
11 Aug 06 |  Internationals
Beckham's England captaincy in photos
02 Jul 06 |  Internationals
Terry named new England skipper
10 Aug 06 |  Internationals
Venables named England assistant
11 Aug 06 |  Internationals


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