Former England manager Steve McClaren outlined the vital ingredients needed to be an elite level manager when he was the headline speaker at a recent UCFB postgraduate taster evening.

McClaren, who was assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson when Manchester United won their famous treble in 1999, spoke to applicants during a unique event at the UCFB Wembley campus, inside the iconic Wembley Stadium.

Speaking to those who’ve applied for the MSc Sport Management and MSc International Sport Management programmes, McClaren said that in order to be an elite level coach an individual must be a role model, know their own strengths and weaknesses and be prepared to work outside their comfort zone.

He also advised that dealing with the media was a huge part of the role at the top level, quoting his former boss Sir Alex: “You’ve got to win on the field but you’ve also got to win in the press room.”

Describing the qualities needed in a modern day manager, McClaren said: “I think the main thing they’ve got to have is a personality. They must be a role model, they must be an exemplar and they must exemplify the work ethic. That was always the first thing that was taught to me, especially working at Manchester United – work ethic. You’ve got to be first in, last away, and always working, always learning, always improving and then taking that forward.”

Following his time with the England team McClaren joined Dutch side FC Twente, where in his second season he led the club to their first ever title. Asked what motivated him to move abroad, McClaren joked that he couldn’t get another job in England following his sacking from the national side, but taking the job in Holland took him outside of his comfort zone and helped him improve as a manager.

He said: “Going to Holland was very difficult, it took me six months to a year to adapt, and that’s one thing everybody in life has to do. Step out of your comfort zone and adapt to the new environment.”

McClaren added: “I was helped a lot by the people there, and then once I got a hold of that I brought my English mentality to it and we were quite successful. So my message to all students is I think you need to step out of that comfort zone and you need to put yourself in an uncomfortable position, adapt, and eventually become part of the culture, environment and thrive from that.”

Lastly, the former Middlesbrough boss said the most important aspect is being surrounded by a good team who believe in your methods. He said: “You need to surround yourself by people who are like-minded. There’s nothing worse than you having a passion, setting a work ethic, and all those around you are not following. That gives you confidence and that gives you the belief in the job that you’re doing.”

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