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Not again: McClaren’s second Derby tenure ends same as his first

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DERBY, England (AP) Derby County has fired former England manager Steve McClaren for the second time in less than two years and delivered a damning critique of his reign.

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The second-tier League Championship club says there has been a “significant, unexpected and persistent decline in results, team unity and morale.”

The 55-year-old McClaren returned to the central England club in October, following his May 2015 dismissal. Derby has won once in nine league matches and is 10 points from the playoff places with nine games remaining.

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Chairman Mel Morris says “the heartbeat, commitment, focus and passion has been lacking something fundamental.”

McLaren is the last England manager to fail to qualify for a tournament, losing his job after 18 months in 2007 after missing out on the 2008 European Championship.

17 months later, McClaren returns to Derby County as manager

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DERBY, England (AP) Former England coach Steve McClaren is back as manager of Derby County, 17 months after being fired by the club for failing to secure a return to the English Premier League.

Derby announced the appointment on Wednesday, with McClaren saying he was “delighted at the prospect of finishing what we started.”

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After leaving Derby, McClaren was hired by Premier League club Newcastle but lasted just nine months before being sacked.

McClaren, who coached England from 2006-07, took charge of Derby for the first time in September 2013 and led the team to the League Championship playoff final that season, where it lost to Queens Park Rangers. The following season, Derby was top of the second tier with two months remaining but a poor run of form saw the team finish eighth and miss out on the playoffs.

The 55-year-old McClaren said “I regret how my time at Derby ended back in 2015 and I am very motivated to put things right for the club and our supporters. My ultimate aspiration remains exactly what it was before, to take Derby County back to the Premier League.”

Derby was last in the Premier League in 2008.

McClaren has signed a deal until 2018 as the replacement for Nigel Pearson, who left last week following a suspension and a club investigation into his conduct.

McClaren confident he would have saved Newcastle from relegation

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Steve McClaren was sacked at Newcastle Friday morning as the Magpies sit in the relegation zone with nine matches to play.

The 54-year-old Englishman lasted only nine months at St. James’ Park, a tumultuous time that saw him under heavy pressure from the moment he took charge.

[ MORE: Newcastle appoint Rafa Benitez ]

McClaren started the Premier League season without a win in his first eight matches and was never able to recover. Despite losing 16 of his 28 league matches in charge, McClaren still believes he would have been able to keep the Magpies safe from the drop.

I am obviously very disappointed with the decision.

I appreciate any frustrations relating to the team’s results and the club subsequently finding itself in a battle to avoid relegation.

I remain confident, however, that we would have stayed in the Premier League with a view to building for next season.

While McClaren sounds confident now, his side surely hasn’t shown that confidence on the pitch. The club has stumbled through the season with three separate three-match losing streaks, leading to public comments from McClaren about how frustrating they were to manage.

[ VIDEO: Analyzing the Premier League’s relegation battle ]

Newcastle spent big in both the summer and January transfer windows, although results have not followed. Now it is all up to Rafa Benitez, who has nine matches to keep one of England’s most historic clubs up in the Premier League.

Steve McClaren fired as Newcastle manager

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Steve McClaren has finally been put out of his misery.

On Friday morning Newcastle United announced that McClaren, 54, has been fired as their manager with the former English national team manager lasting just nine months at St James’ Park.

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McClaren (who was also on the board of directors at Newcastle) has overseen a dreadful season so far for the Magpies  with just seven wins from his 32 games in charge in all competitions.

He leaves them in 19th place and battling against relegation with 10 games to go, despite spending over $115 million on new players which makes Newcastle the fourth-highest spenders this season. McClaren has won just four of his last 15 PL games in charge and the writing has been on the wall since their 3-1 defeat at home to Bournemouth last weekend.

In a statement released on the club website, Newcastle had the following to say:

After the defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday the Club has spent some time considering its position and has today concluded that Steve McClaren’s employment with the Club will end with immediate effect. We acknowledge that reaching this decision has taken a number of days and that this has caused uncertainty for everyone involved, in particular for Steve and the players, for which we apologize. However we felt that this time was necessary to ensure the right decisions were reached with the best interests of the Club at heart.

Lee Charnley said: “I would like to thank Steve personally for his services to Newcastle United. He is a man of integrity and class and he has conducted himself with great dignity during this difficult time.

“Steve worked tirelessly to try and bring success to Newcastle United. He has the utmost respect of all the players, staff and management and he leaves with our very best wishes and sincere thanks. We feel that a change is now needed in order to give the Club the best possible chance of securing its Premier League future. A further announcement on a successor to Steve will be made in due course.”

The heavy favorite to replace McClaren is former Real Madrid, Liverpool and Valencia manager Rafael Benitez.

The talk around Benitez is that he will initially take charge on a 10-game contract between now and the end of the season as he aims to first keep Newcastle in the Premier League, and if he manages to do that a three-year contract will kick in.

Newcastle have not commented about Benitez directly, but it is believed his representatives have already spoken with the club and he will tie up his move to the North East later on Friday.

Benitez’s first game in charge, if he is appointed, would be at leaders Leicester City (Watch live, 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) on Monday.

Shelvey says McClaren “doesn’t deserve” to take brunt of Newcastle abuse

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Newcastle United has been a mess for some time, and this season’s tumult is reaching a breaking point. The team remains in the relegation zone and Steve McClaren is reportedly headed for an exit.

Jonjo Shelvey has only been at the Northeast club since late in the January transfer window, but has impressed McClaren enough to be given the captain’s armband when Fabricio Coloccini went down with injury.

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Now, with Rafa Benitez rumored to be on his way in and McClaren still waiting to learn his fate, Shelvey is speaking out.

From Sky Sports:

“It’s obviously a sticky situation and Steve is at the forefront of it, which he doesn’t deserve to be honest. But it is what it is,” said Shelvey.

“I feel as if I’ve let the club down because I’ve had the captain’s armband twice and we’ve lost but it’s lovely to be made captain.”

Shelvey has actually been exceptional for Newcastle, and that adjective carries double meaning in that he’s one of the few players to visibly show passion on the pitch as the team fails to make the most of its relegation rivals’ losses and draws.

McClaren may not deserve to keep his job after digging this historic mess, but at least one player is on his side.