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Middlesbrough damaged by England selection, chairman says

Written by: Staff

LONDON, May 5 (Reuters) Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson says his club has been damaged by the protracted selection process that led to his manager Steve McClaren being appointed to England's top job.

In a radio interview today he also criticised David Dein's role in the choice, suggesting the Arsenal vice-chairman, who sits on the FA board, had shielded his own coach Arsene Wenger from being pursued for the post.

Gibson, whose club play Sevilla in the UEFA Cup final next week, must look for a new manager before the start of next season.

''It has taken so long. Has it damaged our football club? Definitely,'' Gibson told BBC radio.

England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson told the FA last January he would be stepping down after next month's World Cup. McClaren was appointed yesterday.

Several candidates were interviewed more than once with Portugal's Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, David Dein's first choice, rejecting an approach last week.

''The FA is there for the good of English football but was Arsene Wenger interviewed? Why was he protected?'' Gibson asked.

''I think the structure of the FA makes their life difficult. I think there are some great individuals -- and I would not want to be critical of them -- but I would be critical of the structure.

England striker Michael Owen said he was delighted by McClaren's appointment. ''The whole country would prefer an Englishman in charge,'' he told Sky Sports.

McClaren has worked as a coaching assistant to Eriksson with the England side for the last two years Fellow-striker Jermain Defoe, said: ''I think he's the right man because he's been with us, has a relationship with us and all of the boys are behind him.'' REUTERS PG BD1646

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