Steve McClaren claimed he was not on the brink of the sack after rowing with a journalist who said he was “out of his depth”, writes Miles Starforth.
Newcastle United’s beleaguered head coach was yesterday involved in a heated exchange with a reporter.
McClaren attempted to discredit a written journalist who once worked for the club when asked about speculation about his job in front of the TV cameras.
But the reporter in question confronted him about his ill-judged comments as he attempted to leave the Press conference room.
McClaren – whose side are second-bottom of the Premier League with 11 games left to play – was later asked if he felt like he was “on the brink” just nine months after his appointment.
“I don’t, no,” said McClaren, who apologised to the journalist in a private meeting.
McClaren’s future has been the subject of speculation for months given his team’s dismal form, and there have been calls from fans for him to be sacked.
“I think there’s been there (speculation) all season at certain times,” said McClaren, whose side take on Bournemouth at St James’s Park this afternoon.
“After Leicester and Crystal Palace, there was a huge debate that I was on the brink or whatever. Then even more on the brink.
“We’ve just got to ignore what’s going on out there and control what we can control and that’s what we’re trying to do.
“We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. We’re taking it one game at a time.”
McClaren had been angered by a story which claimed he and his backroom team were “losing the trust of their squad”.
The report also alleged that senior players expected the 54-year-old to be sacked if the team lost to Bournemouth.
Asked about speculation about his future by a TV journalist, McClaren said: “I’ve heard there have been one or two articles – probably one main article – and as I say, I don’t read it.
“It doesn’t help me win football matches, and my concentration and focus are purely on Bournemouth and winning that game tomorrow.
“Someone told me about it, and unfortunately it’s done, obviously, by a journalist who for the last 18 months has written nothing but negative things about Newcastle ... a journalist who used to work at this football club and who four or five years ago, was released from this club.
“Whatever that journalist writes, I’m afraid I don’t read it.”
At the end of the TV segment of the Press conference, the journalist in question approached McClaren as he headed towards the exit door.
He said: “Steve, don’t you dare accuse me of having an agenda. You are second bottom of the league.
“This is a new one, Steve. Is this your latest excuse, is it? It’s a new one, I’ll give you that. I’m not the problem, Steve. You’re the problem, not me.
“Don’t you dare suggest I’ve got an agenda against you. Walk away Steve, smile and grin again. He has been out of his depth since the minute he walked in.”