QPR coach Steve McClaren has fondly remembered his time at Middlesbrough ahead of this weekend’s clash at Loftus Road.
McClaren is arguably Boro’s most successful manager in their history after a memorable five-year spell at the Riverside which saw the Teesside club reach two FA Cup semi-finals, win the League Cup, achieve a seventh-placed Premier League finish and reach a UEFA Cup Final. And all in the ex-England bosses first job as a manager.
“They were good years,” recalled McClaren in the build-up to Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship fixture.
“Steve Gibson was a tremendous Chairman to have and the whole set-up from top to bottom was very good. It was a professional environment with a Chairman and staff that supported what we were doing.
“Steve wanted to field 11 local lads in a Premier League game who had come through the Academy. That was the target at the start of the five years and we achieved that.
“They were great years, probably not appreciated whilst we were going through them. We had a lot of ups and downs during that time with a lot of backing from Steve and the fans, and I think in hindsight we will look back and say they were great years.
“Considering it was my first job going there from Manchester United and the critics doubted if a number two could become a number one, it was great to prove that wrong.”
McClaren has plenty of highs to pick from in his coaching career considering his success as Sir Alex Ferguson’s number two at Manchester United.
However, he points to his League Cup Final win against Bolton Wanderers in 2004 as being amongst the best.
He told www.qpr.co.uk: “The Carling Cup was my most special memory. It was the first trophy for the club in 128-years. The scenes of winning that with the open top bus and seeing old men of 70-years-old crying, I never thought I’d see that. Achieving that for the Chairman, fans and everyone involved with the Club is still in the top three achievements in my career.”
The 52-year-old hopes he can enjoy similar memories with QPR working with manager Harry Redknapp.
However, he remains cautious of getting carried away despite Rangers solid start to the season, using Middlesbrough’s plight as a case study.
“Coming out of the Premier League Middlesbrough have had a couple of goes to go back but are really just under the threshold at the moment,” he said referencing Middlesbrough’s four unsuccessful attempts to gain promotion since they were relegated from the Premier League in 2009.
“Only three can go up and the competition is very strong. There is a distinction between clubs with big budgets but that doesn’t mean anything as we have seen big teams go down to League One.”
Despite leading the Championship table the R’s have come under fire from quarters about their lack of goals this season.
Having won six and drawn two of their opening eight matches the R’s have only hit the back of the net on eight occasions.
It’s a concern for the management team but not one that can’t be addressed.
Steve said: “We’re not firing. There’s more to come from this team, it has to get into a rhythm that we have not got into. We’ve ground out results and we are delighted to be where we are but we need to improve week on week.
“The lack of goals is a concern. It would be to anyone. That’s understandable as we have lost two forwards and we are bringing back players we need to get fit, but scoring goals is imperative. We will improve and get better and during this spell where we are not all fit and firing we have to pick up points, which is what we are doing.”