Boro take risk on unqualified Southgate

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The Independent Online

Middlesbrough are still basking in the reflected glory of Steve McClaren's appointment as the next England manager but the Teessiders are already preparing for the day when the new man at the Riverside helm will be poached by the Football Association.

Gareth Southgate, the former England defender, was yesterday confirmed as McClaren's successor despite lacking the requisite qualifications and, many would argue, experience to coach at the highest level.

And a bullish Keith Lamb, the Boro chief executive, predicted that his club's new manager would one day follow in his most recent mentor's footsteps and move seamlessly into one of the most demanding jobs in international football.

"Potentially Gareth can be one of the great managers of his generation," said Lamb, following Southgate's decision to sign a five-year contract. "Maybe we will provide England with their next manager after Steve McClaren. What a coup that would be for Middlesbrough Football Club."

What a coup indeed. However, first Boro must pull off an equally notable stroke in successfully having Southgate's appointment rubber-stamped. Premiership managers are expected to possess the Uefa pro licence for coaching, the qualification above the Uefa A licence, and Boro's new man in charge holds neither.

The League Managers' Association chief, John Barnwell, has already opposed the move, which follows Newcastle United's decision to employ the similarly unqualified Glenn Roeder. The Magpies successfully brokered a deal with fellow top-flight clubs to keep Roeder.

Lamb is confident he can do the same after discovering that Boro have until 12 weeks after the League season kicks off, on 19 August, to argue the case for Southgate. "If we need a two-thirds majority [of Premiership clubs supporting the 35-year-old] I'm sure we'll get that," he said. "A lot of chairmen would be sympathetic to us. We've spoken to the people at the top of the Premier League, the FA and the LMA and will discuss a solution that we'll all be comfortable with.

"Our desire to produce English footballers, players and coaches should be music to the ears of the governing bodies. They will help us find an amicable solution to this. It's not our way to pretend Gareth is the manager but have someone else signing the team sheet. We're not going to find a compromise or fudge it. We knock on the front door to see if anyone's in - we don't sneak in the back door to check it out first."

Boro did, nevertheless, check out Martin O'Neill and Terry Venables before turning to a player who won 57 caps for England and who, after accepting his first managerial role, will now retire as a celebrated Premiership centre-half.

"The ideal scenario would have been to have a couple more years working towards the [A and pro] licences but chances like this don't come up too often," said Southgate, who joined for £6.5m from Aston Villa in 2001 and has made more than 200 appearances.

"I've spoken to people whose opinion I respect. I don't want to go into names but there are several people I trust and they were all very positive. It's nice to have a bit of reassurance.

"I was sitting on the beach [in Florida] last week enjoying myself and my wife said, 'That's the end of our holidays, then', because she knew I'd want to go for it."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his decision to retire and his many years spent marshalling back fours for club and country, Southgate is expected to make two central defenders his first signings as manager. Chelsea's German international, Robert Huth, is understood to have agreed personal terms. And the United States international Oguchi Onyewu was in the North-east yesterday hoping to complete a move from Belgium's Standard Liège.

Youth leaders: Young managers

Paul Jewell

(Bradford) Appointed in January 1998, aged 33

Chris Coleman

(Fulham) Appointed in April 2003, aged 33

Adrian Boothroyd

(Watford) Appointed in March 2005 aged 34

Gareth Southgate

(Middlesbro') Appointed in June 2006, aged 35

David Moyes

(Everton) Appointed in March 2002, aged 39

Chris Casper

(Bury) Appointed in September 2005, aged 30

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