Derby County manager Wayne Rooney has revealed Steve McClaren will focus more heavily on the club’s academy in his new part-time role, after stepping down as Technical Director yesterday evening, speaking to Derbyshire Live.
The former England manager, who has managed the Rams himself on two separate occasions in the past, was last in management with Championship rivals Queens Park Rangers but was sacked in April 2019 and hasn’t returned to a coaching role since.
Instead, he was appointed as Technical Director of the East Midlands side last November, enduring a very difficult first season in the role as Wayne Rooney’s side narrowly avoided relegation by a single point after rescuing a draw against relegation rivals Sheffield Wednesday on the final day of the 2020/21 campaign.
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There was no respite in bad news for the 60-year-old though, being restricted in what he could do with manager Rooney in the summer transfer window after being placed under a transfer embargo, losing a catalogue of players and only being able to tie six down in return.
And amid the Championship side’s entrance into administration, McClaren took the decision to step down as Technical Director yesterday evening, although he remains as a senior adviser to the club in a part-time capacity.
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For such an ambiguous title and the need to save money, this may have been a source of concern for many fans despite the 60-year-old’s resignation from a bigger role.
But Wayne Rooney has detailed his new brief in a pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow night’s clash with Reading, saying: “Obviously he is very experienced, I worked with him before at England.
“He has stepped down as technical director, he is going to be in on a part-time basis more so to work on things in the Academy, not so much the first team.
“So he’ll use his experience in terms of how we move forward with the Academy.
“It is my first job in management and we are a young group, but more than capable of working.
“Sometimes you feel like you need someone to give you that experience, especially managing up, but it has been well-documented over the last few weeks it was very difficult for anyone to help in that in terms of managing up.
“It is something I have really had to figure out for myself, and I will continue to try and do that.”
This was probably an ideal move to be able to cut costs, something that Derby County desperately needed and still need to do in their current situation, so they had no choice other than to accept his resignation.
However, he will still be a valuable asset to the Rams with his experience and remains as a great footballing man to have behind the scenes, especially supporting a young coach in Wayne Rooney who has a limited amount of experience in management.
The academy could be a vital asset to Derby if they can find a buyer and survive, because they have a reasonably young squad already and they may need to call on a few of their younger players to step up if they continue to find themselves under an embargo for the next transfer window or two.
McClaren will help to bridge that divide between the academy and the first team, decide who’s ready to step up, who should be sent out on loan and who hasn’t got a future at the club.
If Derby can find a new owner(s) and some stability with that though, you wouldn’t rule out the 60-year-old being re-appointed as Technical Director because he could still be heavily involved in the academy whilst keeping an eye on first-team affairs as well.
He certainly doesn’t look like he will be going anywhere anytime soon though, which is probably one of the only certain things at Pride Park right now.