McClaren's new four-year deal gives lift to Boro

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The Independent Online

Steve McClaren has set his sights on bringing more trophies to Middlesbrough after yesterday committing himself to the club until 2010. McClaren, who achieved the only major success in the club's history when winning the Carling Cup in 2004, has signed a four-year extension to his current deal which had been due to run out next summer.

In revealing that the extension had finally been signed, McClaren said: "I'm absolutely delighted to be committing my future to the club. In my mind, there was never any doubt. It has been as good as done for a long time now. But people kept asking me whether I had signed and I've done that now. The paperwork has taken time to sort out but it was never anything more than formalities.

"I've always had fantastic support from [the club chairman] Steve Gibson and [chief executive] Keith Lamb. We've kept moving forward year on year and we think we can get better.

"What the contract extension means is I can now concentrate fully on taking Boro forward."

McClaren arrived at Boro in the summer of 2001 after serving his apprenticeship as assistant manager at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson. He signed a five-year contract at the time and set about revamping an ageing squad.

In fact, McClaren took Boro to the semi-finals of the FA Cup in his first season. But the major breakthrough came in February 2004, when Boro beat Bolton Wanderers in the Carling Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium to win the first trophy in their 128-year history.

Since then Boro have gone on to qualify for Europe two seasons running, while last season's Premiership placing of seventh was their highest ever. McClaren said: "We've come a long way over the past four years or so and the Carling Cup and qualifying again for Europe have been real highlights.

"But my feeling is that we can go much further. Middlesbrough is a club going places so it was never even a question of whether or not I wanted to stay. I'm ambitious, so is Steve Gibson and everyone at the club, so there's no danger of setting our sights too low."

Boro have so far failed to repeat the consistency of last season and will be disappointed with their current placing of 11th.

But the knee operation to key winger Stewart Downing has proved a major problem, allied to the departure of goalscoring midfielder Bolo Zenden to Liverpool last summer. But McClaren's men are still firing on three fronts and will be looking to improve their all-round situation in the run-up to Christmas.

McClaren said: "The challenge starts right away. Just look at the next seven or eight days - the chance to reach the Uefa Cup's last 32 again, to grab another league victory and build on the Fulham result, and then the opportunity to qualify for the last eight of the Carling Cup.

"The big games are coming thick and fast but that's the way I like it, it's what the players are in the game for and I'm sure what Boro fans want."

McClaren's part-time work on the England coaching staff under Sven Goran Eriksson will continue, and he will be heading off with the squad to the World Cup finals in Germany next summer.

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