West Ham vs Newcastle throws up intriguing subplot eight years on from England disaster

West Ham - Upton Park: Boleyn Ground

When West Ham United entertain Newcastle United in the Premier League on Monday night it throws up one of the most intriguing subplots of the season.

Sky have chosen to broadcast live from the match at Upton Park, and cynics would suggest it is more because of the men sat in the dugouts than the teams on the pitch.

Both clubs appointed new managers over the summer, West Ham bringing back Slaven Bilic and Newcastle giving Steve McClaren a surprise return to Premier League management.

Ever since the fixtures were announced, an eye was cast to the first meeting of the two managers - which comes eight years on from a match so important it has shaped the reputations and career paths of both men ever since.

Revenge, no matter how much he says otherwise, will be high on the agenda for former England boss McClaren who suffered his biggest failure at the hands of his Croatian counterpart in 2007.

Bilic broke the hearts of the nation and ruined the reputation of a man when his Croatia side beat England 3-2 at Wembley to deny them a place at Euro 2008.

The making of the 'Wally with the brolly'

Dubbed the ‘Wally with the brolly’, McClaren lost his job after that defeat and was effectively hounded out of the country.

Even when he re-established himself as a club manager by leading Dutch side FC Twente to their first ever Eredivisie title, McClaren was mocked back at home for an infamous interview in which he tried to speak with a Dutch accent.

A failed stint at German side Wolfsburg followed, but his reputation had recovered sufficiently to earn him the respect of English clubs once again.

Spells at Nottingham Forest and most recently Derby County hardly enhanced his CV.

But Mike Ashley was impressed enough to bring him to St James’ Park, where he now takes on his nemesis still searching for a first win in charge of the Magpies.

The coveted, cool rock star boss

Bilic, who played for West Ham as a defender for a year between 1996 and 1997, was the polar opposite to McClaren.

The Croatian was the rock-star, cigarette-smoking manager who wears a suit with a beanie hat and sports fashionable beards.

He was coveted by Premier League clubs, including the Hammers, after his brilliant job with the national team where he brought through a whole generation of young players while playing fantastic football.

It brought success too, propelling Croatia to their highest ever FIFA World Ranking of third and winning them respect as well as their players contracts with some of Europe’s top clubs.

An unsuccessful stint at Lokomotiv Moscow followed for Bilic, but he too repaired the damage by taking Turkish side Besiktas to the brink of the Super Lig title despite operating under difficult financial conditions during his two years there.

A quick search on YouTube to find the video of Bilic being carried into the airport on the shoulders of adoring Besiktas fans when he left in the summer speaks volumes.

McClaren has never been afforded the same hospitality since his days at Twente.

All eyes on the dugout

The cameras will be trained on the dugouts to capture the first exchanges between the pair, whose lives have never been the same since that fateful and wet day in 2007.

But fate has brought them together again and while the hopes of a country don’t rest heavy on their shoulders this time, there’s still plenty at stake.

With West Ham having lost both their opening games in what is the last ever season at their beloved Boleyn Ground to Leicester City and Bournemouth, Bilic is desperate for a first home Premier League win.

He does at least have excellent wins away to Arsenal and Liverpool to fall back on so far.

McClaren, meanwhile, finds himself in the familiar situation of already being under pressure after failing to win any of his first four matches.

Bilic vs McClaren II commences on Monday night.

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