Sir Alex Ferguson told Steve McClaren to “sit down” during 1999 Champions League final

Incoming Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is hoping to appoint Steve McClaren as his assistant… a man who knows all about winning trophies Old Trafford.

Former England boss McClaren was Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at United between 1999 and 2001, arguably the most successful period in the club’s history. They won six trophies during that time, including three consecutive Premier League titles.

United’s biggest achievement during McClaren’s first spell at the club was winning the treble in 1998-99 – becoming the first English club in history to lift the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in the same campaign. No club has achieved the feat since.

The final piece to the treble puzzle was the Champions League, as United faced Bayern Munich in the final at the Nou Camp. With the German giants 1-0 up heading into added time, Ferguson’s European dream seemed over.

Yet last-minute goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer snatched the win for the Red Devils. Few Hollywood experts could’ve produced a script so dramatic, although the tale may have never been told if Ferguson listened to McClaren’s advice.

“I remember the European Cup Final,” McClaren told Sky Sports in 2020. “We equalised and I said, ‘Look come on lets get back to 4-4-2’ and he said, ‘No sit down Steve, this game’s not over yet’ and as we all know it wasn’t.

Steve McClaren tried to give Sir Alex Ferguson some advice during the 1999 Champions League final
Steve McClaren tried to give Sir Alex Ferguson some advice during the 1999 Champions League final

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“I was kind of the coach, he had more experience. If he asked my opinion then yes, I’d give it to him, but the majority of the time I was learning and learning quickly. He was just experienced and had that instinct to tell someone to warm up, to say ‘come on we’re putting him on’. It was just a case of he knew best so follow his instructions.”

McClaren is expected to be announced as Ten Hag’s assistant in the coming days. The Dutchman was finally confirmed as United’s next permanent manager on Thursday, signing a three-year deal. Ten Hag was McClaren’s assistant at Twente in 2008-09.

Speaking to The Telegraph earlier this year, McClaren recalled his first meeting with Ten Hag. “I said to Erik, ‘Have you got our first day organised?’ Over the next two hours he talked me through six weeks of pre-season work,” said the Englishman.

“Every last detail was accounted for. Every document ready. Every drinks break planned. He would say, ‘There is 20 minutes here for you to do your specific session and then we do this’. I had never seen anything like it before or since.

“For both individuals and for the team the work was the best I had seen. The detail was logged even down to what the coaches would be wearing each day, and that we would all come out together. He had planned what equipment had to be carried out and when it had to be brought back in.

“I would occasionally say to Erik during a session, ‘We just need that goal moving to the halfway line’ – and he would ask every player in the squad to do it. All 22 players. Everyone goes. That’s the way he likes it.”

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