Robson's Boro farewell

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The Independent Online

Middlesbrough are hoping to announce Steve McClaren as their new manager by the weekend, after Bryan Robson yesterday confirmed his seven-year tenure at the club was over.

"I have spoken to Steve McClaren quite frequently in the last week or so," the Boro chairman, Steve Gibson, said at a news conference at the Riverside Stadium, where it was confirmed that Robson's assistant, Viv Anderson, would also be leaving by mutual consent. "The matter isn't concluded, but we hope to have some news. Steve is presently on holiday in the States and we hope to be able to offer some news at the weekend."

Gibson insisted Robson had been heavily involved in the discussions on the way forward and knew that his position would become increasingly untenable as talks with McClaren progressed. "Bryan brought his own personality and charisma into the club and he has been a giant figure who has left his imprint," Gibson said. "The last seven years have been unprecedented in the club's history and the contribution he and Viv have made will not be allowed to be forgotten."

Robson, who joined the club as manager in May 1994, said an adverse reaction from supporters following the last game of the season, a home win over West Ham United, had finally convinced him to leave. "I have had a terrific seven years here, but I just felt at the last game of the season the fans made my mind up," Robson said. "The reception I received at the end of that game meant it was time for me and the club to both move on.

"For the first few years I had a great rapport with the fans, but when you lose that I think that's the time to move on."

The former Manchester United and England captain, who twice guided Middlesbrough to promotion and guided the club to the 1997 FA Cup final and the 1997 and 1998 Worthington Cup finals, said his one regret was that he had not brought a major honour to the club. "Things have happened very quickly since we first gained promotion to the Premiership in 1995," Robson said. "My aim was to break the history books of Middlesbrough Football Club and win something and unfortunately I haven't been able to do that."

The Chelsea striker Mikael Forssell is a £3m target for the Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart after he scored twice for Finland in their World Cup qualifier against Germany at the weekend. Stuttgart's general manager, Rolf Russman said: "Forssell fits in well with our plans. He is young and he can also speak German as he was brought up in the region."

The Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, is close to signing the French centre-half Djibril Diawara from Torino in a £2m deal. Diawara made his name in France with Monaco but also had a wild-man reputation after some off-the-field incidents.

Parma last night confirmed that Manchester United, among other clubs, have contacted them about the availability of Lilian Thuram. However, the Italian club's £24m valuation of the 29-year-old French international defender would appear to preclude him from a move to Old Trafford at present.

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