Relegated side will come out fighting

HE grieved last night and knows some would have him sacked, but Gareth Southgate will remain manager of Middlesbrough and has vowed to do his utmost to restore their Premier League status.

HE grieved last night and knows some would have him sacked, but Gareth Southgate will remain manager of Middlesbrough and has vowed to do his utmost to restore their Premier League status.

The Teessiders were relegated yesterday, and asked if he wished to stay in place to guide the challenge out of the Championship, Southgate said: “Yes I would. I think I’ve proven (myself) for the first two-and-a half years here. I’ve never felt like walking away. I have to accept that there will be a large percentage of supporters who would want to see that happen, and want a change of manager.

“Supporters will know we have been through worse, the newer ones won’t have experienced this. They’ll be the ones who are angry but anyone who has followed Middlesbrough longer than we’ve been at the Riverside will know that the majority of its life has been spent outside the top division. We’ll be desperate to get back into it.

“It’s been a tough, difficult time to take over but I’m determined to see that fight through. You don’t walk away from difficult times, you stand firm and fight back.

“We’ll do that as a club. It’s the chairman’s decision ultimately but I wouldn’t even contemplate turning that challenge down. I want to succeed for the chairman, he took a leap of faith in appointing me.

“Nothing else has been discussed with the chairman, regarding my future. I’ll talk with him this week, plan more definitely what’s going to happen but it will be a tough challenge. We can’t assume that what we’ve got now will be good enough to get us out of the Championship. We’ll have to improve. We’re ready to make those changes.

“We’ve flirted with relegation over the last five years and we’ve had to reduce everything each year, so it’s been a delicate situation each season. Unfortunately we’ve been punished for it.

“There will be personal agendas that come to the fore now, we have to bring some money in and there are situations that I want to change.

“This has been looming for a few weeks so I’ve got a clear idea of what we need to do, and how we need to play to get out of the division below. That process has started already. Inevitably there will be big changes in the squad.

“Tonight we’ll grieve but tomorrow we come out fighting.”

Southgate was supported by West Ham opposite number Gianfranco Zola who hopes the former England defender will stay at the Riverside, adding: “I’m sure he will bounce back straight away, he is a very good manager and a very positive person.”

 
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