LONDON - Former England coach Steve McClaren was hired as Newcastle United manager on Wednesday, taking his most high-profile English club job after spending eight years rebuilding a reputation that was tarnished by his troubled spell with the national team.
Newcastle announced the appointment of McClaren on an initial three-year contract — that could be extended to eight years — as the permanent replacement for Alan Pardew, who quit the Premier League club in January. John Carver had a five-month stint as interim coach, which nearly saw Newcastle drop out of the top division.
McClaren’s 18 months in charge of England ended when the team failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championship, setting back a coaching career that was on the rise after success as assistant coach at Manchester United and then at unfashionable Middlesbrough, which he guided to the UEFA Cup final in 2006.
He picked up experience abroad in the Netherlands, with two spells at FC Twente, and in Germany where he coached Wolfsburg. McClaren has also been the manager of second-tier clubs Nottingham Forest and Derby since 2011, but Newcastle is his big break — and also an enormous challenge as he is tasked with reviving an underachieving club under the stewardship of often-criticized owner Mike Ashley.
Newcastle hasn’t won a major trophy since 1955, but has a huge, loyal fan base and regularly attracts around 50,000 supporters to its home games.
“This is a big club with a wonderful heritage,” McClaren said. “St. James’ Park is like a cathedral on a Saturday afternoon, a symbol for the city . . . the supporters are some of the most loyal, passionate and devoted in the world. Despite everything, they maintain their faith.
“This club has waited far too long to win a trophy,” McClaren added. “That’s one of my primary objectives here.”
McClaren was fired by Derby last month, after the team plunged from the top of the League Championship to missing out on the playoffs altogether. Its downward spiral coincided with McClaren being linked with the Newcastle job.
Ashley has been criticized by fans for failing to invest in the squad and showing a lack of ambition in terms of winning trophies, but suggested at the end of last season that he will be prepared to release significant funds ahead of the new campaign.
“A club the size of Newcastle should be winning cups and finishing in the top eight of the Premier League,” McClaren said.
Carver spent the second half of last season as Newcastle’s caretaker manager, but won just three of 19 league games in a chaotic interim spell during which he accused one of his players of getting himself sent off deliberately.
The 50-year-old Carver had hoped to stay at his hometown club, either as permanent manager or as assistant coach — the role he has held since 2010. But he was released from the coaching staff early Wednesday in advance of McClaren’s hiring, so the new head coach can bring in his own assistants.
“John loves Newcastle United,” Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley said, “and no one could have worked with more passion and enthusiasm than he did.”
Former England international Steve Stone has also left his role as a first-team coach.
McClaren has been also added to the club’s board of directors. Newcastle said it is the only club to have its head coach on the board of directors.