It is interesting to note that here in Holland, McLaren enjoys a certain degree of respect, even affection amongst the normally stolid Dutch. He has found his spiritual home not in Rotterdam, Amsterdam or Eindhoven. He could not be as far removed from the madding crowd if he tried. Enschede is the Dutch equivalent of Perth or Dundee, a small town in the East of The Netherlands, very close to the German border. Enschede was a former textile town, but now suffers from above average unemployment and the reputation of being one of the most boring towns in the country. Its most recent claim to notoriety was an horrendous fireworks explosion which killed 23 people in May, 2000.
In terms of sporting excellence, there was none prior to McLaren’s arrival. Dutch football may not be what it was, but in relative terms McLaren has achieved minor miracles propelling a provincial club to the League Championship against the giants of Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord.
Much was made in the Dutch media about his ‘kick and rush’ approach to football. They were therefore pleasantly surprised that his team thus far has played attractive passing, flowing football which appeals to the Dutch with their glorious past. He has built a squad from nothing, with absolutely no money and has quickly established an excellent team spirit within a group of decidedly average players.
The Dutch are hyper critical of the traditional ‘British’ game, which they still regard as primitive and devoid of any real thought. They see an over emphasis on sweat and effort, rather than technique. McLaren has managed to combine the best elements of both countries and in the process has developed as a coach.
He is at the right age to cope with the pressures of Scottish football, and has the added experience of coming in from abroad. Celtic might want him, but would he want Celtic? It is very unlikely in my opinion that he would ever wish to return to English football given the amount of vitriol he received as England manager. Frankly he does not need the money. Celtic might just present him with the sort of challenge that he would relish. In terms of quality and money, the Eredivisie is much closer to the SPL than the EPL. However, I am sure now that he has resurrected his career he would like nothing more than to fully rehabilitate himself within the English speaking media. Celtic would tick many boxes for him. He would be coming into a club in crisis, where resources might not be great, but he would be coming to a club with vast potential.
McLaren might still be regarded as a figure of fun by many, however given recent events, I don’t think Celtic are in a position to laugh at anybody. I would say that he would be an excellent candidate for the vacant Celtic position based on what I have seen these last two seasons. Given the mauling he has received in the past from Wapping’s finest, the provincial scribblers from the West of Scotland would not overly tax his elephant-like hide. I commend him to you.