Lee Clark: I think Steve McClaren could end Newcastle’s trophy drought of almost half a century

Steve McClaren
Steve McClaren
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Lee Clark believes Steve McClaren could end up having a statue in his honour at St James’s Park – by leading Newcastle United to silverware.

McClaren was appointed as Newcastle’s new head coach a fortnight ago after a long search for Alan Pardew’s permanent successor.

The ex-England boss has been tasked with leading the Magpies into the top eight – and ending the 46-year wait for a trophy.

Not since the 1969 Fairs Cup have Newcastle won a cup, but former Magpies midfielder Clark believes McClaren could end that barren spell.

“I know people who have worked with him and everyone holds him in high regard,” he said.

“I hope he does what he did at Middlesbrough and wins a trophy. I certainly think he can.

“The next man who does it will get that statue built for them outside St James’s Park or in the city centre.

“The manager who brings the next bit of silverware will be revered around the football club.

“Whether it’s the League Cup or the FA Cup, it wouldn’t matter.

“Newcastle should go for all cup competitions and, with the right resources, get into the top 10, and then who knows after that.”

Clark knows McClaren well after pitting his wits against his Derby County side in the last two seasons, first with Birmingham City and then Blackpool.

Derby’s season fell apart in the last month, and they ended up missing out on the play-offs after finishing eighth – with McClaren getting sacked as a result.

But Clark insists the 54-year-old is the right man to take Newcastle forward.

“In terms of a British manager, I think Steve fits the bill perfectly,” he added.

“I had a few discussions with him, coming up against him in the Championship.

“He produced a really exciting Derby County team. They had a couple of key players missing at the end of the season and just missed out.

“Derby were one of the best teams all season. They had excellent players, played at a high tempo and played good football, but losing two or three players when they did meant they just missed out on the play-offs and automatic promotion.”

Clark played more than 200 times for Newcastle in two spells with the Magpies, before going on to the coaching team under Glenn Roeder, and then working as reserve team manager.

And he has kept a close eye on events at St James’s Park since he left in 2007 – and admits he will be back as a fan once his career in management is over.

“Once you’ve grown up as a Newcastle fan, it’s in your blood forever,” Clark added. “It never changes.

“The day I stop being in football in a professional capacity I will come back and watch with the fans, season in, season out.”