survival sunday

Southgate determined to stay on at Middlesbrough

May 22, 2009

Gareth Southgate is determined to remain as Middlesbrough boss and prove his critics wrong even if the club is relegated on Sunday.

The Teessiders will bring down the curtain on a difficult Premier League season at West Ham knowing even victory might not keep them up.

Indeed, Boro have effectively been written off as Newcastle, Hull and Sunderland battle it out for the unwanted prize of the final place in the bottom three.

However, even if his third campaign as a manager does end in his club slipping into the Championship after 11 years in the top flight, Southgate has no intention of walking away.

The former England defender admitted earlier in the season that the trials and tribulations of the past few months have simply confirmed in his own mind that management is what he wants to do with his life, and no matter what happens at Upton Park or anywhere else in the Premier League on Sunday, he wants to continue to do it at the Riverside Stadium.

Southgate said: "Yes, definitely. You become even more determined to try to prove yourself. As the manager, inevitably when you have difficult times, you are the one who has to carry the blame.

"The reality is for the club to be in the position we are in, lots of things haven't been right.

"But you then are galvanised to try to put things right, and you also have a better idea of what hasn't worked and what has worked and the reasons I feel we are where we are.

"I have got a very clear picture, whichever division we are in - and there are obviously two very different scenarios there in terms of how you would have to play and who would be needed to play and who could take you to where you want to be - I have got a very clear picture in my mind for both of those scenarios.''

Southgate is refusing to throw in the towel until the final ball is kicked, although he acknowledges Boro face the toughest task of the four remaining contenders if they are to escape the drop.

He knows too that mistakes have been made, and with the benefit of hindsight, admits he would have done some things differently.

He said: "Yes, of course, because otherwise you would be an idiot. But hindsight is the key word. We always judge everything with the benefit of hindsight, apart from those who are involved in events as they happen.

"But you have to go through those processes to gain that experience and gain that knowledge. We will all do that, everybody at this football club will benefit from that. You never stop learning.''

Southgate was booed by sections of his own supporters after last weekend's 1-1 home draw with Aston Villa which left them with only a theoretical chance of survival, but bristles at the suggestion that modern day players do not care as much as the fans.

He said: "I think that's nonsense, I have to say. When I hear people say the players and staff don't care as much as the fans... we have nothing else in our lives, nothing else at all.

"Our hobby, our love is our work as well, so you live with it 24 hours a day. The supporters, they may not like the jobs they do, but they do something else as well. Football is their switch-off, and there is family as well.

"But for players and staff, you live with it all the time, it is constantly in your thoughts. Of course, unless you have ever played or coached or managed or been involved in a football club, you won't understand that.''

Meanwhile, Southgate confirmed Stewart Downing is unlikely to be fit before the start of pre-season training after undergoing surgery today to pin a broken bone in his right foot.