Middlesbrough start search for new manager
Middlesbrough have launched the search for Steve McClaren's successor after he was appointed England head coach.
Chairman Steve Gibson, the man who handed McClaren his first job in management five years ago, will target a man who can build on what his predecessor has achieved and take the UEFA Cup finalists into the Champions League.
Chief executive Keith Lamb paid tribute to the job the Yorkshireman has done, wished him well for the future and admitted he will be a hard act to follow.
He said: 'Whilst we are sorry to lose Steve, we are delighted he is leaving the football club for such a prestigious role.
'It's an honour for Middlesbrough that our manager should become the new England coach.
'We're grateful to Steve for all he has achieved with Middlesbrough over the past five years, including helping to bring us first major silverware, which will hopefully be topped next Wednesday night in the UEFA Cup final.
'We wish Steve and his family all the very best for their future and the challenges that lie ahead.'
McClaren will leave the club on May 16, six days after the biggest game in the club's history, and Gibson faces the task of finding the right man to take on his mantle.
The bookmakers immediately installed former Celtic boss Martin O'Neill as favourite with Alan Curbishley and Hibernian manager Tony Mowbray high figuring prominently in the betting.
Lamb continued: 'Of course, as of May 16, Middlesbrough will now be without a manager so Steve Gibson and I will turn our attention to finding a replacement.
'We will be take some time to consider our options in this matter, but can assure Boro supporters that any decision will be made with the intention of continuing to take the football club forward, building on the work that Steve has carried out over the last five years.
'Over the last few years, we have enjoyed major honours, cup finals and European qualification.
'We will be looking to achieve more of the same in the years ahead, with a qualification for the Champions League remaining our ultimate target.
'Steve's replacement will need to be someone we believe can help us to achieve those aims.'
But for now, all the club's fans are concentrating on Wednesday evening's UEFA Cup final clash with Sevilla in Eindhoven, and Rob Nicolls, editor of the fanzine Fly Me to the Moon, hopes the events of the last few days have not disrupted preparations.
He explained: 'I'm a Boro fan first and an England fan second, and I'm disappointed as a Boro fan to be losing Steve McClaren - and I'm even more disappointed all this is happening the week before we play the biggest game in our history, the UEFA Cup final.
'That's first and foremost, and I hope it doesn't detract from the build-up to that. It's shocking timing.
'But then as an England fan, I think he can go on to be a great England manager.
'He's got all the attributes. He's English, he's forward-thinking, he's a great coach who's always learning from his experiences, and I think he's learned a great deal this season which will stand him in good stead for the future.
'He's also got a lot of experience in the England set-up. He's going to have to learn a lot in his new position, but he will do it credit.
'He will be very dignified and I think he will excite fans because he will try to create a really good winning side.
'He will probably do what he's done at Middlesbrough, which is build on youth, and that can only be good for the whole game.'
Nicholls, like everyone else on Teesside, has heard the rumours of clandestine meetings with O'Neill, but his choice for McClaren's successor would be former Boro defender Mowbray.
'I personally always go with my heart rather than my head, and my heart says Tony Mowbray coming back as the new manager,' he said.
'I would want him to have Gareth Southgate as his captain and his assistant while he's on the pitch.
'Gareth has to be a really big part of this club. He's far and away the best club captain I've ever see here in terms of his all-round capacity. I don't want to lose that.'
Gibson admitted losing McClaren was a blow but said plans to replace him were well advanced with a number of applications for the manager's job having already been received by the club.
'I'm disappointed for us but I'm pleased for Steve and I always felt if Steve McClaren got the England job it was because he succeeded here and he has succeeded here. He deserved the job and I wish him well,' he said.
'I think he is up to it. There has been an awful lot of things written about whether he is capable or not but it is about winning games of football and if he wins those games his popularity will soar.'
The upside of McClaren's high-profile departure is that more people are interested in replacing him at the Riverside.
Gibson told Boro World: 'We have had a lot of calls and a lot of people putting their names forward.
'Five years ago when Bryan Robson left I had a limited number of people interested in the job - this time I have a greater number of people interested and I think that is a measure of the stature of the club, so we have a lot of available options open to us.
'We have a shortlist and a strategy and that will unfold hopefully soon rather than later.
'It was difficult to approach anybody too strongly because we didn't know whether Steve was going to get the job or not but we have structured the club in such a way it is not dependent on one individual.'