Being an England coach seems one of the most challenging jobs in sports. The scrutiny can be unrelenting and the pressure maddening. Duncan Fletcher will know it better than anyone. He was their cricket coach for eight years before the experience turned sour in 2006-07.
Around the same time, the manager of their football team, Steve McClaren, too was going through the most turbulent time of his career. McClaren served as manager from August 2006 to December 2007 and was sacked after England failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championships.
Fletcher lost his job following the Ashes defeat and England's World Cup flop show. The two were vilified by the media and became favourite targets of hate campaigns.
The other one
Quite similar to Fletcher — who took over the job in ’99 and lifted the team from the bottom to No 2 in Test ranking — it was an uphill task for McClaren as well before ’06-07. He was assistant manager to Alex Ferguson when Man United won the Treble — Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League — in 1999.
McClaren's reputation as one of the most tactically astute coaches in his country was further enhanced when Man United won the Premier League title in 2000 and 2001 as well. What followed was a job in the coaching staff of the national team in October 2000. He was England’s assistant manager at Euro ’04 and held that position at the ’06 WC before the script went wrong after promotion.
Incidentally, this week, both were in Nottingham, trying to resurrect their coaching careers. The football club and the cricket stadium stand opposite to each other on the banks of river Trent. Fletcher was at the Trent Bridge ground, trying to prove a point against his former team, England.
McClaren has taken over the Nottingham Forest Football Club (NFFC) last month, returning for the first time to English football after his unceremonious sacking in ’07. His campaign starts with a home game on Aug 6 against Barnsley.
As it is, the pressure is on McClaren. “He is the biggest name to come here since Brian Clough (who guided NFCC to two European Cup titles) and Frank Clarke. We have a lot of expectations; after all he's got the experience of working with Ferguson. Hopefully, he will turn things around and get us back into Premier League," said Ian O'Keefe, a Forest supporter.
“He has done well in the Dutch League, but he's got to prove himself here,” said another Forest faithful, A Woloen.
There's a lot at stake for Fletcher in the Nottingham Test. His new team, India, need to win or at least draw to stay alive in the series. Both McClaren and Fletcher have their task cut out this season.