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By ESPN Staff

Ferguson backs McClaren for England hotseat

MANCHESTER, England, May 4 (Reuters) - Steve McClaren's expected appointment as England's next manager has been backed by Alex Ferguson, his former boss in club football.

McClaren had a three-year stint as assistant to Ferguson at Manchester United before leaving to become Middlesbrough manager in July, 2001.

'I think it's a good appointment,' Ferguson told reporters on Thursday. 'He knows the players and he's had a good apprenticeship.

'He's been at Derby, he's been with myself and he's had his own tenure at Middlesbrough for five years.

'That's good for anyone to manage a club for that period. He's won the League Cup and hopefully he can win the UEFA Cup next week.'

Ferguson believes the continuity of promoting McClaren from his role as Sven Goran Eriksson's number two, as well as McClaren's coaching ability, will be beneficial should the 45-year-old Yorkshireman replace Eriksson after the World Cup.

'They (England) have a good set of players, an experienced back-room staff and Steve knows all that,' said the Scot.

'Steve has a knowledge of that staff and of the players so I hope he does well because it's not an easy job.

'He's always been one who has had visions for developing things. When he was at Derby and I spoke to two or three people who had worked under him they said that he is a very progressive coach and that's what I found with him.'

Ferguson believes that, despite their earlier efforts in courting Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Football Association has done the right thing in selecting an English manager to lead the national team.

'I feel you have to support whoever is appointed but I could not see why you should not pick an English coach,' Ferguson added.

'I think there were two or three candidates. I thought Sam Allardyce and Alan Curbishley had good credentials but I think it's a good choice.'