Maximum Impact 07.07.06

WHAT he achieves remains to be seen, but Steve McLaren has enjoyed the perfect preparation for his role as the England manager.

On the pitch he has the unique experience of a long full-scale dress rehearsal for the job, something no previous England manager has been lucky enough to go through. He therefore should know at first hand exactly what has worked and what hasn't in the England set-up, and the strengths and weaknesses of the entire squad.

He has been at Sven's right hand for several years and therefore has had the wonderful opportunity to learn from the experience of others. Off the pitch he's had the chance to know exactly all about Sven's problems with the media and can easily avoid making similar mistakes.

Time will tell, but I believe that Steve has a far more practical understanding of the workings of the British media, and this hopefully will prove mutually beneficial. Steve approached me for media advice a couple months ago, my fees together with opposition from the FA may yet prove a stumbling block for a continued relationship between us. But whether I'm involved or not, Steve knows the vital importance of achieving a much better working relationship with the media than his predecessor enjoyed.

David Beckham's decision to resign as England Captain was definitely the right move from a PR perspective. Apart from one glorious free kick, he had a disappointing World Cup and I'm sure he would have been only too aware that his decision to step down would save him from a great deal of media attack.

Several sports journalists I know would have been telling him to call it a day and hand over his Captain's armband having pointed out his failings during the World Cup. Smart move David, who by confronting his own disappointing performance has avoided the kind of intense and critical media scrutiny which was about to happen, and that might have damaged even his superstar status.

I've been asked to comment on the Wayne Rooney sending off and his future for radio, press and TV this week. In my view, Wayne has very little to fear from the media. As long as he continues to demonstrate the tremendous talent that makes him our most gifted footballer, the media will continue to support him and justify his excesses— no matter which ball he kicks on the pitch. He's the best we've got and therefore most sports editors and journalists alike will be sucking up to him most of the time, as they all know the vital part he will play in the success our national side so desperately needs.

SIMON Cowell's new show America's Got Talent has gone straight to the top of the US TV ratings. He's also managed to clone himself to produce a new Mr Nasty in the shape of Piers Morgan. So far Piers has resisted the temptation to raise the waist band on his trousers, but Simon told me this week, during a celebratory dinner at Cipriani's, he's starting to understand how Dr Frankenstein must have felt. Don't be surprised if this talent show soon appears on our screens — Paul Jackson and ITV are extremely excited.

The fee for this column is donated to CHASE (Christopher's)

Children's Hospital

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