By Richard Clarke in Arnhem

Arsène Wenger has praised the ‘bold’ re-branding of Steve McClaren.

Tonight the Frenchman leads out his side against Twente in a Champions League qualification round first leg tie at Arnhem. It will be McClaren’s first competitive game since he presided over England’s 3-2 defeat against Croatia on that rainy night at Wembley in November 2007. The loss saw the former Middlesbrough manager unkindly dubbed ‘the wally with the brolly’ and he was removed from his position the next day.

The move across the North Sea was interesting as it was unexpected but, as a man who went halfway around the world to continue his coaching career, Wenger admires it.

“I think it was a good move,” he said. “Maybe he needed to get a change away from England. To position yourself as an international coach is always a very good move for the rest of your career.

“It is a little bit similar to what Sir Bobby Robson did when he moved out of the England job. I don’t say they have achieved the same things but I say they have chosen not to wait for a job in England but moved away. I think it is bold.”

That is not to say McClaren will be insulated from criticism. As Wenger points out, any overseas talent arrives with its own special pressure.

“When you go to a foreign country it is always expected that you do better than the local people,” said the Arsenal manager. “If you do the same as local people then they don’t need you. The expectation level is higher.”

Tonight, however, the expectation is all on Arsenal.

Still the omens are good. The last time Wenger met a McClaren side they famously won 7-0 and if you want another sign of success tonight then here goes:

It has been raining in Arnhem this morning.

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13 Aug 2008