LONDON, England -- England coach Steve McClaren has been dismissed in the wake of their humiliating exit from the European Championships following a 3-2 defeat to Croatia at Wembley on Wednesday night.
It never rains it pours. McClaren reflects on England's defeat to Croatia.
McClaren was shown the door after an emergency meeting of the English Football Association (FA) in London on Thursday morning.
His assistant Terry Venables has also had his contract terminated.
FA chairman Geoff Thompson told a hastily arranged press conference that the decision to fire McClaren had been "unanimous."
"Like every England fan, we are all bitterly disappointed that we have failed to qualify for Euro 2008, and I know that Steve feels that.
"Of course we have no divine right to play in major tournaments, but it is quite right that qualification is expected," he added.
Thompson said that the hunt for a new head coach would begin immediately. "We will do everything to get the right man for the job."
The FA board has also sanctioned a "root and branch" examination of the whole England team set up, led by FA chief executive Brian Barwick, whose own position has been questioned in the wake of the team's failure to qualify.
McClaren told a press conference later on Thurday that Barwick had phoned him to tell him off his dismissal. "It's the saddest day of my career, but I can understand the decision by the FA.
"I take full responsibility, results haven't gone our way, I've paid the price, I'm hugely disappointed we failed to qualify," he added.
The former Middlesbrough manager had been in charge since the departure of Sven-Goran Eriksson following the 2006 World Cup finals.
At the start of his rein, McClaren asked to be judged on the results of their qualifying campaign for Euro 2008 and his team's spectacular failure signaled his almost inevitable departure.
The speculation will now turn to his successor with Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill installed as the early favorite, with other names such as former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and Italy's Fabio Capello also being touted for the job.
Whoever succeeds McClaren, who is reported to have received a pay out of approximately $5 million, will face a difficult task in turning around the fortunes of a footballing-mad nation which has not won a major competition since the World Cup of 1966.
The defeat to Croatia, with only a draw needed, marked the first time that England have failed to qualify for a major finals since the World Cup of 1994. E-mail to a friend
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