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04.05.2006 International

McClaren named as England manager

McClaren named as England manager

Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren has been appointed the next England manager, ending months of speculation over Sven-Goran Eriksson's successor.

McClaren had looked set to miss out to Portugal manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, who was offered the post by the Football Association in April.

But when Scolari ruled himself out of contention the FA turned their attentions to the 45-year-old McClaren.

Eriksson's current assistant has agreed a four-year deal starting on 1 August.

McClaren insisted that he was not bothered by the lengthy process, which took almost three months and gave the impression he was not the first choice.

"I knew the process from the very beginning and I was quite comfortable with it," he said.

"It didn't affect my job at Middlesbrough and it didn't affect the players. The outcome was the important thing.

"I don't see it as a case of first choice or second choice. I am THE choice and I sit here as the next England coach.

"I am results-orientated and I'm here to do a job, win matches and make sure England over the next four years win a major trophy."

And FA chief executive Brian Barwick also maintained that McClaren was the first choice.

"It's been seen by many as a torturous process," conceded Barwick. "I think we tried to appoint a senior person in a major industry.

"We hit the target early today. It started in early March and it ended up in May. We have had a job to do and it's taken us as long as it's taken us.

"It may have been tedious from where you were, at times it's been tedious from where we are, but it's taken as long as it has.

"I saw Felipe Scolari on three occasions. There were potential developments. He then declared he had no interest in the job. We never offered him the job.

"Steve did two fantastic interviews. He was my first choice, the FA board's unanimous choice.

"My first choice was always Steve. That might be difficult for people to get their heads across."

McClaren made his way to London from his Yorkshire home on Thursday and arrived at the FA's Soho Square headquarters at 1540 BST.

He was immediately rushed inside through a media scrum before an official announcement was made at 1620 BST.

And together with Barwick, he signed his deal in front of the assembled media at around 1640 BST.

His first game in charge will be the friendly against Greece at Old Trafford on 16 August.

"This is the biggest honour that any coach can have, and is obviously the highlight of my career," he said.

"It's a massive challenge and one that I welcome. I have hugely enjoyed my time at Middlesbrough and am very grateful to the club.

"However, this was an opportunity I couldn't refuse and I'm probably the proudest man in England today.

"To manage your country is the greatest honour which can be bestowed on anyone.

"My immediate priority is next week's Uefa Cup Final with Boro, and then working with Sven and his coaching team to achieve success in Germany this summer, before I turn my thoughts to the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign."

McClaren has been involved with the England set-up on and off since becoming Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United.

His silverware during five years as team boss at the Riverside Stadium, however, has been limited to the Carling Cup two seasons ago, although he has led Boro to the Uefa Cup final this year.

"He has an excellent reputation in the game," said Barwick. "He's been involved in big matches, has worked alongside footballers with big reputations, has experienced big competitions and this is now his big opportunity.

"He has been involved in major international and top-class football in his role alongside Sven, for England, and Sir Alex Ferguson, for Manchester United.

"With Middlesbrough he won the club's first ever trophy in 2004 (the Carling Cup) and this year reached the FA Cup semi-finals. Next Wednesday they are in final of the UEFA Cup.

"Steve believes in the nurturing of young talent - and especially young English talent - and giving those players an early chance."

Speculation over Eriksson's successor was rife when the Swede announced in January he would be stepping down from his role as England manager at the end of the World Cup.

Former Celtic boss Martin O'Neill was the initial bookmakers' favourite, while McClaren was not heavily fancied as Middlesbrough suffered heavy defeats to Arsenal and Aston Villa around the time of Eriksson's decision.

But after turning around Boro's fortunes, McClaren became the reported front-runner of a shortlist including Scolari, O'Neill, Alan Curbishley and Sam Allardyce to the extent that Boro started their search for a new manager.

However in a late change, reportedly instigated by Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein in his role at the FA, Scolari took over as favourite only to dramatically pull out of the race.