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By ESPN Staff
May 10, 2006

McClaren happy to be UEFA Cup final 'underdogs'

Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren goes into his 250th and final game with the club tonight insisting they are the UEFA Cup final underdogs.

However, he is revelling in that status and determined to end his spell at the Riverside Stadium by seeing off fancied Sevilla to lift the trophy.

'Sevilla are favourites for the game,' said McClaren, England's next head coach.

'They have a good pedigree in Europe and are doing very well in the Spanish league.

'I have seen them a few times and they have a very good team. They were one of the favourites at the beginning of the tournament, so they must enter this game as the favourites.

'But we don't mind being the underdogs, we will relish that.'

Sevilla have a number of recognisable faces - on-loan Barcelona striker Javier Saviola and former West Ham and Tottenham hitman Fredi Kanoute are perhaps the best known - but Boro have repeatedly overturned the odds during their run to tonight's final in Eindhoven.

Few fancied the Teessiders to beat Stuttgart, Roma, Basle or Steaua Bucharest on their way to the biggest game in their history, but they have done so to illustrate the progress they have made under McClaren.

He took charge in 2001 and says: 'It has been five years which I've thoroughly enjoyed.

'We have made great progress and to finish in a final and to win would be very, very special. That's what we are aiming to do.

'We haven't just got to this final to appear here - we have come to win it.'

Boro booked their big date against the Spaniards courtesy of remarkable fightbacks against both Basle and Steaua, although McClaren will not accept that their name is on the cup.

'You make your own luck,' he said. 'It comes with preparation and opportunity - we have prepared, we now have an opportunity and we have to put the two together.

'We have to make sure the defining moments are ours. You have to do something to win it. We have got to make sure we do the right things.

'We have got to make sure we trust the players. They know what to do, they have got the experience, they know how to win football matches in Europe.

'We have to trust them and get out of the way.'

Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer will play, just 17 days after fracturing his cheekbone in the FA Cup semi-final defeat by West Ham, provided that German referee Herbert Fandel has no objections.

And having rested most of his senior players since defeating Steaua, McClaren has virtually a full squad at his disposal.

Skipper Gareth Southgate will return as long as he has suffered no reaction in training after resting a hamstring problem, and there could also be a major role for experienced midfielder Ray Parlour.