Slaven Bilic relishing reunion with Steve McClaren – eight years after THAT England defeat

Steve McClaren
Steve McClaren

Slaven Bilic is relishing a reunion with Newcastle United head coach Steve McClaren at Upton Park – almost eight years after guiding Croatia to a famous win over England.

McClaren’s side take on West Ham United on Monday night in a televised game.

Slaven Bilic

Slaven Bilic

And West Ham manager Bilic, writing in the Evening Standard, has opened up about his relationship with McClaren.

Croatia’s 3-2 win at Wembley in November 2007 ended England’s hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008.

Then-England coach McClaren famously used an umbrella to shield himself from a downpour at the national stadium.

Bilic, appointed Sam Allardyce’s successor at West Ham this summer, wrote about the respect he has for “gentleman” McClaren, who lost his job as a result of the defeat.

We will both remember that night with contrasting emotions, but that was then and has no relevance to our jobs now.

Slaven Bilic

Bilic said: “I’m looking forward to our match against Newcastle on Monday at Upton Park.

“The lads are buoyant after that great win at Liverpool. We did some terrific business on transfer deadline day, and we’re desperate to sort out our home form after two defeats.

“I’m also looking forward to seeing Steve McClaren again. It will be the first time we’ve stood in opposite technical areas since that evening at Wembley back in November 2007, when we were coaches of our respective countries.

“We will both remember that night with contrasting emotions, but that was then and has no relevance to our jobs now.

I have had the opportunity to meet Steve since. When I was Croatia coach I made sure I watched our players for their clubs, no matter where they were.

“I paid a visit to Wolfsburg, then managed by Steve, to check on our striker Mario Mandzukic.

“We had a chat for a couple of hours and I thoroughly enjoyed his company. Steve is a very good coach, as he has proved in Holland, where he guided FC Twente to their first league title, but just as important he is a real gentleman and I like him a lot.

“I look forward to meeting him again on Monday and, of course, I hope I will be happy again. But it will be a tough game, Newcastle have good players and need some points, as we all do.”