Gibson fears losing McClaren

Middlesbrough’s chairperson Steve Gibson fears eventually losing his manager, Steve McClaren, to the call of either the Premiership’s top trio or the national side in the future, though he envisages him remaining at the Riverside for the time being.

Victory in Sunday’s League Cup final saw McClaren claim the first trophy in the club’s 128-year history to reward Gibson for £110-million he has invested over the past decade. Boro have now qualified for Europe for the first time, with McClaren to continue his own development as a manager in next season’s Uefa Cup.

‘We know Steve might get called at some stage,” said Gibson, who handed McClaren a five-year contract in 2001 to replace Bryan Robson. ‘He’s ambitious and, if the right club came knocking for him at the right time, I couldn’t chain him. We both have common goals here and want to be successful, but we’re realistic as well.

‘We know we can’t compete with England or Manchester United but, beyond that and maybe Arsenal and Chelsea, I think we can match the rest. Steve’s almost three years into his managerial career and still has a lot to learn, but unless one of the top four clubs come in for him he’ll still be here.”

Middlesbrough’s victorious players will take part in a victory parade through the town on Sunday.

The timings and route have yet to be confirmed. ‘The mayor [Ray Mallon] has already mentioned to me that the town might want to do something and, of course, we would love it,” added Gibson. ‘This was very important for the town.

‘I keep saying that the population of Middlesbrough is 120 000 so to sustain a Premier League club and to get 24 000 season ticket holders, shows the passion and the love that the town has for football. We like to be seen as the flagship of Teesside, so hopefully our success goes right through the town. To get into the Uefa Cup is tremendous. It raises the status of the club and, at last, perhaps we’re seen as a serious contender. That’s important.” —

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