Can Steve McClaren handle the pressure of Newcastle?

The 54-year-old is reportedly set to be named manager on Tyneside next week but questions remain over whether he can handle the role.

There is no doubting the credentials of Steve McClaren, a man who has been in and around football management since becoming assistant to Jim Smith at Derby County over 20 years ago and one the BBC are reporting will be named as the new manager of Newcastle United at some point next week.

The Fulford man has won silverware both home and abroad in a managerial career which has taken him from the North-East, with stops in Holland and Germany in between, and back again. Whilst his stint as England head coach was an unmitigated disaster, the fact McClaren was chosen over the likes of Sam Allardyce, Alan Curbishley and Martin O’Neill confirmed his status as one of Britain’s brightest bosses.

Yet despite his apparent wealth of experience, the constraints that may face McClaren at St. James' Park may provide a test that he has never encountered; a strict transfer policy, a hard-headed owner, and rabid fans desperately looking for something to cheer after a dreadful and nearly devastating season.

The role at Newcastle United is like no other. The atmosphere, not only in the stadium but encompassing the city as a whole, on game day is hard to find anywhere else in football. A one-team town, members of the Toon Army are not just fans, they are disciples.

McClaren has demonstrated in his stints at both Wolfsburg and Nottingham Forest that when the pressure is on, he may not be able to take the weight of expectation thrust upon him.

When speculation engulfed his position at Derby County, McClaren found his side slumping from the top of the Championship to missing out on the play-offs altogether. The former midfielder needs only to look at his predecessors, John Carver and Alan Pardew, to see how uncomfortable the Newcastle hot-seat can become when the going gets tough.

Even if his appointment is not exactly what fans had hoped for, many are prepared to throw their weight behind the former Middlesbrough boss and give him a chance. The bar has been set low following the standard of the 2014/15 campaign and so any progress McClaren can make will be seen as a step in the right direction.

With this in mind, what McClaren achieves during the summer transfer window will crucial to how he is perceived. Owner Mike Ashley has made it clear there are funds to spend, and how McClaren spends it not only will be received as a signal of his intent, but also an example of his clout behind the scenes.

The 54-year-old declined to take on the role twice in January and May, feeling the time was not right.

Now with a blank slate and the certainty of Premier League football, Steve McClaren has the opportunity to show he is the man who can not only handle the pressure of managing Newcastle United, but that he is right man to bring back the days of glory that the Geordie’s so desperately clamour for.

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