FA set to confirm McClaren as England boss
LONDON, May 1 (Reuters) - Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren will be named as Sven-Goran Eriksson's successor as England coach by the end of the week, according to newspaper reports on Monday.
McClaren, who also works as Eriksson's assistant, moved to the top of the Football Association's wanted list after Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari decided last week not to take his interest in the England job any further, the reports said.
Citing media intrusion that comes with the job, and which by Scolari's standards was already in full swing, Brazil's 2002 World Cup-winning coach pulled out of a deal that could have earned him several million pounds a year.
McClaren did his England prospects no harm on Thursday when Middlesbrough produced a remarkable comeback to reach the final of the UEFA Cup.
Middlesbrough came back from three goals down to defeat Romanians Steaua Bucharest 4-3 on aggregate, setting up a showdown with Spain's Sevilla in Eindhoven on May 10.
McClaren will be granted a clean and quick break from Middlesbrough after their UEFA Cup final if the Football Association offer him the job.
McClaren signed a new contract at the Riverside in January, committing himself to the club until 2009.
The subject of a possible England approach, however, is covered in the contract and Boro chairman Steve Gibson has always told his manager he can leave to manage his country with his blessing.
The FA's selection panel appear set to plump for McClaren after they were snubbed last week by their number one choice Luiz Felipe Scolari.
The panel's decision will be ratified at an FA board meeting on Thursday and, if there are no further complications, the contractual negotiations can start.
If it is McClaren, the FA must decide whether to make a swift announcement and parade their new man or wait until after Middlesbrough's UEFA Cup final against Sevilla, in Holland, next week.
McClaren's case has not been championed by any individual on the selection panel but has won support as the process has evolved.
Middlesbrough hit form at the right time, making it to their first European final and the FA Cup semi-final.
McClaren has managed to keep the England question at arm's length and dealt impressively with revelations that he had an affair last year with a secretary at Middlesbrough.
The Yorkshireman's safe and unfussy personal style has taken on new significance since Scolari pulled out of the job in dramatic circumstances on Friday.
Scolari's behaviour served to stress that a foreign manager might be tempted by the prestige and money on offer but cannot be guaranteed to have the same sense of duty an Englishman might.
McClaren and Sam Allardyce are both desperate to succeed Eriksson after the World Cup and confident of their capabilities.
Allardyce made his final plea to the FA after Bolton's defeat yesterday at Spurs and has not been ruled out of the running.
Like McClaren, he would leave his club with the chairman's blessing after re-establishing them in the upper echelons of English football.
Allardyce is admired for his innovation but loses ground on the basis of international experience.
McClaren has a Champions League winners' medal tucked away from his days as Sir Alex Ferguson's number two at Manchester United and has five years of England experience.
He has witnessed the unique environment of the modern England team and the problems faced at big international tournaments.
Originally, he was brought into the England set-up to offer top-level coaching to the players, with a view to one day becoming manager.
That day is now closing in. He will be 45 on Wednesday but his favourite birthday gift could come from the FA, 24 hours later.