By Emma Sanders

Steve McClaren has claimed that he was sacked as Derby manager last year because he failed to quash rumours he was to become the Newcastle manager.

McClaren believes his failure to deny rumours at the time made it possible for the club to sack him.

McClaren returned as Derby manager this week for his fourth spell at the club just 17 months after being sacked.

Derby failed to make the Championship play-offs under the former England boss in his most recent spell before he was sacked in May 2015.

The 55 year-old was linked with a job at St James’ Park at the time and amid speculation, his side’s promotion challenge faded.

Fans became impatient with the manager after he failed to announce his commitment to the club and he was subsequently sacked shortly afterwards.

McClaren did join Newcastle but his tenure was short-lived and after an unconvincing reign from Nigel Pearson, Derby hope their former manager will deliver the goods this time around.

“My mistake was not quashing that [Newcastle speculation,] not dampening that and not committing. That is my fault and I apologise for that,” said McClaren, as quoted in the Shields Gazette.

“By the time I had committed to the club, the club had every right to sack me and they did. I could have no qualms about it.

“I failed to calm that, and that was my mistake. I did not do it quickly enough and in the end, it was too late.”

McClaren succeeds Nigel Pearson at the iPro Stadium. Derby are 20th in the Championship ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Leeds.

In other Leeds news, this senior star could miss the clash against McClaren’s side to give them a boost.