New favourite remains comfortable in his own Boro

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The Independent Online

The man who has taken over as the bookmakers' favourite now that Portugal's Brazilian coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, has rejected the chance to be England manager is playing down his chances of following in Sven Goran Eriksson's footsteps, even though he is the only one of the candidates who is already part of the national team set-up.

The FA appear to be in no rush to reassess and will wait until their board meeting on Thursday before making their next move. McClaren was asked after his Middlesbrough side had lost at home to Everton yesterday if he had just taken charge of his last Boro match.

He said: "I hope not. I'm certainly enjoying it here. The last couple of months it's been a roller-coaster but we're close to achieving what we want to achieve. What we've got to look forward to is a Uefa Cup final in 10 days' time."

The latest descent on that big dipper came yesterday with newspapers carrying reports of his affair with a secretary at Boro. "You have to cope with a lot of things. My private life's my private life. I've said all I'm going to say. The matter is closed."

Fortunately for him, the Football Association think the same, but perhaps they cannot afford to be choosy after their first choice turned them down. The FA "feel let down" by Scolari backing out. The feeling of being let down is one that many football fans will have become familiar with themselves during this sorry saga.

The Brazilian's decision was a severe blow to the FA and, in particular, to David Dein, the vice-chairman, who had been behind the introduction of Eriksson and had championed Scolari's cause. He had swung the rest of the board charged with the task of selecting the new manager behind his man after Martin O'Neill, McClaren, Sam Allardyce and Alan Curbishley had been interviewed.

Curbishley's resignation yesterday after 15 years in charge at Charlton makes him available for the England job, but asked about the race for that role, he said: "I don't think I was ever in it."

Perhaps after the FA's board meeting on Thursday, O'Neill will find himself back in favour. He was the preferred choice of Brian Barwick, the FA's chief executive. But in multiple choice there is usually the option to tick "none of these".

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