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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 May 2006, 07:34 GMT 08:34 UK
A sad farewell
By Chris Bevan
BBC Sport in Eindhoven

Sevilla players raise the Uefa Cup
Sevilla celebrate their win in Eindhoven
A nation watched expectantly on Wednesday night as Steve McClaren took charge of Middlesbrough for the final time before becoming England manager.

But Boro's 4-0 mauling at the hands of Sevilla in the Uefa Cup was not the swansong McClaren would have envisaged after five years at the Riverside.

McClaren's men were out-played and out-thought in the biggest game of his managerial career to date.

There is nothing wrong with a football manager possessing a degree of caution, but McClaren's tactics invited Sevilla to attack them from the start - and they did not need asking twice.

Even Boro striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink seemed frustrated by McClaren's happiness to see the Sevilla full-backs pick up the ball from Palop and advance unchallenged into the Boro half.

It was a platform that Juan de la Cruz Ramos's side exploited fully, with Luis Fabiano's opener originating from that route.

Before half-time Boro's response was non-existent. A series of high balls were aimed towards Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Mark Viduka which were meat and drink for centre-backs of the quality of Julien Escude and Javi Navarro.

Sevilla were clearly well on top but McClaren waited until half-time to change his approach.

Massimo Maccarone replaced James Morrison and immediately pushed as far forward as possible on the right flank.

Long balls

In the Italian striker, McClaren finally had someone on the pitch able to get on the end of the long balls his side were still playing while on the left Stewart Downing also began to get involved for the first time.

Boro at last created some chances - but that did not last and the tide had long since turned back in Seville's favour before the flurry of late goals that sealed their victory.

So could McClaren have done more to change the course of the game, and earlier?

He is not one for fist-pumping histrionics in the technical area but he is not afraid to gesticulate to his players when needed - and did so on Wednesday far more than Eriksson ever has.

If the Football Association had been after the most animated manager then Stuart Pearce would be taking up the reins and McClaren's cool and collected approach did him no harm here.

Sadly the same cannot be said for his substitutions.

Although you can appreciate McClaren's intentions, is the best course of action when you are 1-0 down to take two men out of midfield, throw two strikers up front and launch the ball forward?

It did not work in Eindhoven and is surely too primitive to trouble the world's best teams. It should be a last option, but it appears to be McClaren's only get out when his side is behind.

Post-match performance

That particular aspect of his game plan still needs refining - more polished is his performance in after-match interviews.

It is unclear whether his sports psychologist Bill Beswick had influenced McClaren's answers on Wednesday but it must be difficult to find a more positive response to a 4-0 thumping.

Perhaps the best people to gauge McClaren's abilities though are those who have been watching his sides for the past five years - Boro fans.

Despite his relative success in bringing silverware to the Riverside, tellingly they seem ambivalent at best about his departure - Steve Gibson is apparently the key to their success, not McClaren.

At least there is an element of symmetry about McClaren's time at Boro - he began and ended his reign with 4-0 defeats, the first one coming at home to Arsenal in August 2001.

But he will not be signing off at the Riverside with the silverware he craved.



SEE ALSO
Middlesbrough 0-4 Sevilla
10 May 06 |  Europe
Heady days and hard nights
11 May 06 |  Middlesbrough
McClaren tries to console players
10 May 06 |  Middlesbrough
McClaren reign pleases Southgate
11 May 06 |  Middlesbrough
Uefa Cup final clockwatch
10 May 06 |  Europe
Build-up as it happened
10 May 06 |  Europe


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