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By ESPN Staff

McClaren is 'good choice', says mentor Fergie

Sir Alex Ferguson has backed the appointment of his former assistant Steve McClaren as the new England head coach.

It was Ferguson who first exposed McClaren to high-level combat when he plucked him from relative obscurity as Jim Smith's number two at Derby to replace Brian Kidd as the Scot's right-hand man at Old Trafford.

After joining United midway through their historic 1999 treble-winning campaign before going on to be part of two more runaway Premiership title successes, McClaren eventually left - with Ferguson's blessing - to take over from Bryan Robson at Middlesbrough.

During his time at United, McClaren proved himself to be a revolutionary and innovative thinker, impressing Ferguson with his willingness to try out new ideas.

And, while the United boss also claimed Sam Allardyce and Alan Curbishley also had excellent credentials to replace Sven-Goran Eriksson, on balance, Ferguson feels the Football Association have probably got the right man.

The Scot said: 'I always thought Jock Stein was the perfect example of an international manager, someone who had done it all.

'But England do not have a Jock Stein and probably never will, so you have to look at your best available options.

'Sam Allardyce and Alan Curbishley both have good credentials but I feel this is a good appointment.

'He has always had a vision of how he could develop things and he has always used a lot of technology.

'He is progressive with his ideas and at 45, he is still on the young side of maturity.

'His time at Old Trafford will certainly help when it comes to the goldfish bowl of being England manager.

'He had to deal with top players here as a young coach and that is bound to have helped him.

'I don't know if anyone is ever prepared for the pressure of being England manager. It certainly is not an easy job but I hope he does well.'

Seven days ago, when Ferguson was asked for his opinion on Luiz Felipe Scolari, who at that stage seemed certain to be installed as Eriksson's post-World Cup replacement, the Scot sidestepped the question, insisting he would be willing to work with whoever the new England manager turned out to be.

It now transpires there was a good reason for Ferguson's reluctance to offer a public statement. Not for the first time in his long career, he could not understand what the Football Association were doing.

Ferguson said: 'I didn't say so at the time because you have to support the England manager but I could not see why you should not pick an English coach to manage England.

'Peter Reid made a good comment the other day when he pointed out that to coach in the Premier League you need to spend £7,000 getting a UEFA licence.

'Then, when you have one, you find you cannot manage your country. That seems a bit silly.

'England have a good group of players and a lot of experienced staff. Steve knows all that because he has been part of it.

'He has served a good apprenticeship, at Derby, with us and at Middlesbrough.

'He has won the League Cup and next week, I hope he wins the UEFA Cup as well. I think he is a good choice.'