The former England manager’s exact quote coined the term “cultural architect” – a phrase he may have first been introduced to while he was part of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Three Lions backroom staff in 2002. Eriksson consulted a a Norwegian sports psychologist by the name of Willi Railo before the World Cup later that year.
McClaren’s appointment ahead of next season marks his return to Old Trafford 21 years after he first left the club. He has discussed how Ten Hag may assess the situation surrounding the club captaincy given there has been intense speculation suggesting current skipper Harry Maguire could be stripped of the armband.
As captain, Maguire oversaw United’s worst ever season of the Premier League era as the Red Devils finished sixth and scraped Europa League qualification on the final day due to other results going their way. He came in for serious criticism throughout the campaign.
Towards the tail-end of the abysmal nine month effort, Maguire was actually dropped from the team and taken out of the firing line by interim boss Ralf Rangnick for the final few games of the season.
McClaren has kept his cards close to his chest as to whether Maguire will keep the armband and instead simply discussed the collective effort required for efficient leadership. “Going into Manchester United, straightaway in my mind is who are the cultural architects?” he said on the McClaren Performance podcast.
“Who can you build this team around? There’s not one leader, there’s not one captain, there are a few lieutenants and they’re all connectors and connected to each other. Some through their status, some through their talent and some through their attitude to make each other better.
“But it’s up to everybody – if they are a cultural architect – to make others better.” McClaren clearly wants to help Ten Hag create the kind of harmony from within the United dressing room that was so clearly absent last term.
Instead of making each other better, there were relentless reports of in-fighting from within the United camp – many of which were allegedly leaked to the media by a mole from within the squad.
There have even been murmurings that the United squad will hold a vote before a ball is kicked next term to determine who the most popular candidate is to enjoy the status of club captain – with Cristiano Ronaldo thought to be a favoured alternative among the group.