By Coral Barry
Steve McClaren had an extraordinary argument with a journalist at Newcastle’s press conference on Friday.
The Newcastle boss was answering questions ahead of the Saturday clash with Bournemouth when he launched an attack on one particular reporter present at the media briefing.
A story in the Daily Mail on Friday morning claimed that McClaren’s players are amazed that he has not been sacked yet after four defeats in five league games leaves the club teetering on the brink of relegation.
McClaren was asked specifically about the story and he responded angrily, accusing the journalist Craig Hope of harbouring an agenda.
“I’ve heard there have been one or two articles – probably one main article – and as I say, I don’t read it,” said McClaren.
“It doesn’t help me win football matches and my concentration and focus are purely on Bournemouth and winning that game tomorrow.
“Someone told me about it and unfortunately it’s done, obviously, by a journalist who for the last 18 months has written nothing but negative things about Newcastle, a journalist who used to work at this football club and who four or five years ago, was released from this club.
“Whatever that journalist writes, I’m afraid I don’t read it.”
McClaren was later asked if he would be seeking assurances from managing director Lee Chanley, but opted instead to return to bashing Hope.
“That article that appeared is half-truths and half-lies and destabilises what we are trying to do in that dressing room.
“We have to ignore it and we have to know what we are doing, and we do.”
With the press conference over, the heat was turned up again when Hope furiously approached McClaren.
“Steve, don’t you dare accuse me of having an agenda. You are second bottom of the league. This is a new one, Steve.
“Is this your latest excuse, is it? It’s a new one, I’ll give you that.
“I’m not the problem, Steve. You’re the problem, not me. You’re the problem, not me. Don’t you dare suggest I’ve got an agenda against you.
“Walk away Steve, smile and grin again. [Turning towards colleagues] He has been out of his depth since the minute he walked in.”
Hope subsequently revealed himself late on Friday night and published an article detailing his row with McClaren.
— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) March 4, 2016
In the article, Hope says that he and McClaren apologised to one another after the bust up but he has left the Newcastle manager in doubt about how he feels.
He wrote: “I wanted to point out that I did not believe I was to blame for Newcastle’s demise. That fault lies with McClaren.
“The exchange continued, when I admit I accused him of being ‘out of his depth’. McClaren can prove me wrong by going on a winning run and keeping his job.
“But as things stand, Newcastle cannot continue like this. McClaren cannot continue like this.”