'Players should be proud of what we achieved,' says McClaren

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The Independent Football

An experience that would "only make him stronger" was how Steve McClaren described defeat by four goals to Seville in the Uefa Cup final last night as he brought the curtain down on five years and 250 games at Middlesbrough and readied himself to take over as England manager after the World Cup finals.

McClaren said that the defeat would not affect his memory of five "great years" at the club although he described the last two months as a "steep, fantastic learning curve". "I will move on and be far stronger than I was before for the experience," McClaren said. "I've had five years in management and I have enjoyed it a lot. It's the finale of my Middlesbrough career and it ends on a bad note but that's football," he added. "I will reflect on it for a few days but I know I have left them in a good condition to go on. They have got a good chairman with good resources. I will move on and start a new chapter in my career."

McClaren said that he was "proud" of his players despite their defeat. "When I reflect on our run in the Uefa Cup, it has been a terrific season," he said. "We had 38 games last season to qualify and then another 14 to get here and along the way we have had some exciting games. I am so proud of my players and they should celebrate a major achievement. This was a great night for Middlesbrough, the players, supporters, staff and chairman but it wasn't to be."

McClaren said he did not know what had happened to his side in the first half in which they failed to break through Seville's well-drilled defence. "I don't know if the occasion go to my players because we did not perform," he said. "We played with a bit of nerves and we didn't have the same freedom. We did not perform as we can. We opened it up in the second half and [had] three glorious chances but it wasn't to be. The players should not be down, they should be proud at what we have achieved. We have proved that we can live with the best but at the last hurdle we have fallen. Three months ago we weren't doing that well and we have turned it around. The last few weeks have been a real roller-coaster of many highs and many lows but we have got on with it. I cannot criticise the players of the club because we have had some fantastic occasions. Seville got on top of us. I am so proud to be manager of this club."

Midfielder George Boateng said: "We had our chances but we did not take them, that is the only difference. You can see how good [Seville] are, they played really well but if we had taken our chances we would have won the game.

"There is a big question on Viduka, whether it was a penalty or not," Boateng added.

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