When you think of Steve McClaren there are a number of words that spring to mind: boring, teeth, lucky and inexplicable being but a few. But prior to the England manager's befuddling statement about the rainbow in Tel Aviv 'surreal' was never likely to be one of them. Surveying the events since last year it is surprising it was not a more obvious moniker.
Everything about McClaren's short time in the England job has been lacking in normality, starting from his comical appointment by a boss who blatantly wanted someone else to do the job. Add McClaren's decision to have tabloid rent-a-gob Venables as his number two, his numerous unfounded bleatings to the media about England's potential and his subsequent ability to see positives in the most congenitally awful performances and it suggests that he sees the world in a different manner to us normal, rational people.
This would explain why he believes Phil Neville can be transformed into an international class left-back, like one of Dali's clocks being magically bent around a tree branch; as Franz Kafka's Gregor Samsa was an insect, Steve McClaren's Steven Gerrard is in fact a left sided midfielder. Judging by his 4-3-3 against Spain it appears Steve, like Picasso and the other surreal cubists, believes in creating forms from objects that are broken up, analyzed, and re-assembled in an abstracted form. He probably has Andre Masson wallpaper in his Soho Square office.
His creative mind is at its most potent when it interprets history. England's 35 years of utter failure with the odd lucky break is to him a rich garden of achievement, liberally peppered with great players of whose legacy this generation are the inheritors. Under Steve's guiding artistic hand they will reach the heights that his staid, functionalist predecessor could not achieve.
You see, unlike Steve, Sven was a stuffy old realist who interpreted everything literally. He saw England's stifling lack of creativity, composure and tournament pedigree as reasons to be resolutely functionalist. He created a dull monolithic sculpture with a strong base, a weaker middle and a top so unimportant he could pick Peter Crouch. This behemoth could sneak results against teams who could actually pass to each other, and this would be enough for the quarter finals and £4m a year.
Portuguese and Italian league winner Sven had obviously not spent time on the Carling Cup winning Middlesbrough training ground and heard the talk of rainbows amidst the smog and mediocrity.