STEVE McClaren last night revealed his burning desire to become England manager.

The Middlesbrough boss, who is negotiating a new deal at the club, admitted he has never hidden his long-term ambitions to manage the national side.

"It is the pinnacle," said Sven Goran Erikkson's No 2. "I have always wanted to be a coach and when I was coach of Oxford, to say I was going to be England coach was a million miles away, but I achieved that.

"So while I am managing Middlesbrough and being successful why can't I dream of becoming England manager?

"I have to make sure I have continued success and keep taking this club forward and one day the door might open.

"Inside me is a driven person and I am not satisfied with what I have achieved."

McClaren has come under fire from Boro fans this week for using the club's participation in the UEFA Cup as an excuse for their poor league form.

A good result in Europe followed by a poor performance in the Premier League was a common occurrence for the club last season, and it seems to have emerged again this term.

Boro followed their 2-0 victory at the Riverside against FC Xanthi with a disappointing draw with Premiership new boys Wigan at the JJB Stadium.

McClaren, however, insists he is not making any excuses.

"We had ten games in Europe last year and won only one in the league immediately after them," said the Boro boss

"Liverpool had something like 14 games in the Champions League and won one back in the league.

"The evidence is there - you cannot get away from it and we know what an effect that can have. It's not an excuse, it's a reason. When you look at other teams in Europe, they all suffer.

"Rotation keeps you as fresh as you possibly can be. What you can't do in the Premier League is have an off day and be less than 90 or 95 per cent.

"If you are 80 or 85 per cent you can't expect to win games, not at Boro - maybe you can if you are Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester United.

"We have to make sure we progress in Europe and the Premiership. To do that you can't field the same 11 players.

"That is why we are playing the youngsters and giving them experience. We got a good result against Xanthi and four points against Arsenal and Wigan.

"I think we would have taken that at the start of the week."

Boro are one of the clubs who have suffered from the recent fall in attendances.

Only 14,191 turned up to see the UEFA Cup clash with FC Xanthi, and Boro drew just over 28,000 for the visit of Arsenal - 7,000 down on the capacity.

On Tuesday the club suffered the indignity of having travel firms cancel scheduled flights for Boro's away leg in Xanthi due to a lack of interest.

Despite this McClaren confessed he has nothing but praise for the Boro faithful.

He said: "I've got full admiration for the 14,000 who turned up against Xanthi."

"Look at the support we had against Wigan away from home it was absolutely magnificent and we enjoy that support.

"It is difficult for fans to keep forking out the money to watch a football match.

"But we have got fantastic support - and we will need it over the coming months and especially against Sunderland."