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Deal's done!

Byline: Philip Tallentire

Steve McClaren will finally sign his new contract over the next few days after agreeing to a three-and-a-half year extension that ties him to Boro until 2009.

The long-running saga will at last be concluded to everyone's satisfaction and McClaren can now concentrate on guiding Boro into the top half of the table.

The manager and chairman reportedly shook hands on the contract in June, but it's taken five months to finally wrap up the loose ends and ink the deal.

The Gazette understands the contract also secures the futures of McClaren's trusted management team, including recently appointed assistant manager Steve Round, first-team coach Steve Harrison and goal-keeping coach Paul Barron.

Completing the deal will be seen as a major coup for Steve Gibson, who has constantly reiterated his faith in a manager who brought Boro their first major silverware when his side won the 2004 Carling Cup.

He's also the first manager to take the club into Europe thanks to that Cardiff victory over Bolton and the first to qualify for the UEFA Cup via the league in May.

That's the kind of sustained success the chairman has been desperate to see and he clearly believes retaining the services of one of England's up and coming managers will ensure it continues.

One cloud on the horizon is the possibility that McClaren will be chosen to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson when he Swede parts company with the national team.

If Boro have a good campaign in 2005/06, perhaps landing domestic silverware or breaking into the top five - and given his current coaching role in the England camp - McClaren's claim on nation's top managerial job will become hard to ignore.

Eriksson's contract runs until the conclusion of Euro 2008 and if England win the World Cup in Germany next summer there will be a huge clamour to make sure he serves out his time.

But if the team underperform and are eliminated early, the Swede is almost certain to move on, probably at the FA's insistence.

It's unclear at this stage whether or not McClaren has a get-out clause in his new contract, but no English club has as yet stood in the way of a manager who's been asked to take on the England job.

When McClaren replaced Bryan Robson in the summer of 2001, retaining his coaching role with England was something he insisted on.

BORO fans are reminded that there are still a number places remaining on the official club flight to Alkmaar for Thursday's UEFA Cup tie.

The deadline for the Crystal Palace ticket offer is Wednesday.
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Title Annotation:Sport Boro
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Nov 18, 2005
Words:434
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