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Ranking Africa's Premier League flops

By ESPN Staff

McClaren signs new Boro deal

Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren has signed the new contract which will keep him at the club until 2009.

Chief executive Keith Lamb revealed on Tuesday this week that McClaren's contract had yet to be signed, despite the club announcing in November that it had.

The `minor technical detail' which had been holding up the completion appeared to have been resolved, however, when McClaren, 44, began a press conference this lunchtime by signing the contract.

McClaren refused to be drawn on speculation associating him with the vacancy which will come up after England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson vacates his position in the summer.

He was looking towards tomorrow's FA Cup tie against Coventry, an important match for Boro whose prospects of qualifying for Europe next season through the league look effectively to have been extinguished.

They are battling relegation after a run of nine Premiership games without a win, and currently have only a three-point cushion over third-bottom Birmingham.

However Boro are confident McClaren, who also serves on Eriksson's staff for England, remains the man to turn around their fortunes between now and the end of the season.

He has been in charge at the Riverside Stadium for four and a half years and a 3-2 home defeat by Wigan last weekend added to McClaren's woes.

Boro finished seventh in the Premiership last season and qualified for the UEFA Cup, however Lamb admitted this week they had involuntarily found themselves in a state of transition.

'We expected that with the players we brought in last summer, we could finish higher than seventh. It hasn't happened, but we are not trying to apportion responsibility or blame. We are trying to improve the position,' Lamb said on Century FM.

'We recognise we are in a relegation fight. We will take stock when we have done that and see where we are.'