Sheffield Wednesday: Gray plans to put McClaren friendship on hold

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Sheffield Wednesday boss Stuart Gray has praised the job former England chief Steve McClaren has done at Derby County.

McClaren came within a whisker of guiding the Rams to promotion last season. Gray watched on at Wembley as Derby suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat to QPR in the play-off final.

But the Rams regrouped over the summer following that near miss and are currently third in the standings, just one point adrift of table-topping Middlesbrough.

Their attractive, eye-catching football has led to McClaren being linked with the managerial jobs at Newcastle United and Aston Villa in recent weeks.

Gray told The Star: “Steve hasn’t stood still. He has improved the team. He has been backed and I would think their budget has probably gone up from what it was last season. What probably frustrated Steve last season was they didn’t have that quality in depth but now they have got that.

“Steve has done great. He seems to be linked with every job that comes available whether it be in the Premier League or elsewhere. He’s a quality coach and manager. You don’t work at Manchester United or become England manager on the back of a poor CV. Steve has got a very good CV and is well respected in the game.”

Gray is a good friend of McClaren’s but insists their friendship will be put on hold until after tomorrow’s match.

“I know Steve very well,” he said. “Our paths have crossed many, many times.

“He’s a good friend but that will stop at 3pm and start again at 5pm. We will have a beer after the game but hopefully after a Sheffield Wednesday win!”

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