McClaren hails ‘unbelievable’ Twente League triumph
FC Twente manager Steve McClaren has described his side’s Eredivisie success as ‘unbelievable’ after they were crowned champions following a 2-0 victory against NAC Breda yesterday.
The former England boss’ side secured the title with a comfortable victory and in doing so created his own segment of history, becoming the first English manager to win a European title since Sir Bobby Robson in 1996. Furthermore it marks FC Twente’s first Dutch Championship crown in 45 years.
“It’s fantastic, we deserve it,” said McClaren after being carried aloft by his players. “Ajax have been coming but we kept winning. It’s unbelievable. We got better and better after finishing second last season.”
McClaren’s side travelled to southern Holland knowing the title was in theirs to lose. Twente’s closest rivals for the Eredivisie title were Ajax, who under the stewardship of former Spurs manager Martin Jol, finished one point behind the champions with a staggering +86 goal difference having scored 106 goals compared to Twente’s 63.
In 2004 McClaren led Middlesbrough to a Carling Cup success and in 2006 a UEFA Cup final. This achievement, however, eclipses both cup runs and has unquestionably helped rebuild his profile in England and Europe after the blotch left on his CV after a disastrous spell in charge of the English national team.
And it is FC Twente’s consistency throughout the course of the season that has proved a decisive factor, losing just two games in 34 matches.
Since McClaren arrived two years ago Twente have steadily improved finishing runners-up in both the League and domestic cup final last season.
“Last season we lost the cup final and finished second in the League but we kept growing and growing and today it proved that we are more experienced after all our big games in the Europa League,” added the Englishman.
FC Twente’s president, Joop Munsterman, heaped lavish praise on his coach. “What Steve has done with these boys is huge,” said Munsterman.
“It is the most beautiful thing that ever happened to the town of Enschede and to this club. I am shaking, I still can’t believe he has pulled this off.”