Boro caretaker boss Steve Agnew confident of Premier League survival

Steve Agnew and Aitor Karanka
Steve Agnew (left) was assistant head coach to former manager Aitor Karanka for the past two and a half years

Middlesbrough caretaker boss Steve Agnew says he is a "creative coach" and has a "clear view" of how to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Agnew, 51, took charge after Aitor Karanka was sacked on Thursday.

Boro are currently 19th, three points from safety with 11 games remaining, as they host Manchester United at the Riverside on Sunday.

"I'm capable of drip-feeding ideas into the group that will pay dividends," said Agnew.

Boro are winless in their last 10 Premier League games and are the league's lowest scorers with just 19 goals.

"I have a clear view of exactly what's needed and that's what I aim to deliver - I do believe we will stay in the Premier League," added Agnew.

"It would be the biggest single achievement of my life - I'm capable of delivering it, the players are capable of delivering it."

Did Karanka jump or was he pushed?

Media playback is not supported on this device

The stats which led to Karanka's sacking

Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has denied Karanka was sacked, instead saying the 43-year-old Spaniard "sacrificed himself" for the club in a mutual decision to step down.

"We did agree that change was required, we did accept that the team hasn't evolved since about Christmas and not only have we not gone forward, we've probably slipped backwards a bit," Gibson told The Times.

Gibson added Karanka was "tired" after three and a half years at club and that they both concluded "he perhaps wasn't the guy at this point in time to deliver that change."

Agnew said Karanka's departure was a "difficult and very emotional day" but did not think the former manager was tired after doing an "incredible" job, including securing promotion to the Premier League last season.

"In the end, football is about results, but I would never have a bad word to say about Aitor and what he's done," he added.

Agnew also denied there had been a rift between Karanka and the players, including a reported training ground row with Stewart Downing, adding his side are "the best group of players I've worked with in terms of their attitude".

Mourinho weighs in

Aitor Karanka and Jose Mourino
Aitor Karanka was Jose Mourinho's assistant manager at Real Madrid

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has criticised Boro's decision to split with Karanka, who worked under the Portuguese at Real Madrid, claiming he "knows the names" of players who contributed to Karanka's sacking.

When asked about Karanka's departure, Mourinho sarcastically answered "he deserved to be sacked".

He added: "In the first year he arrived, the team was going into League One and he saved the team. In the second year, he took the team to Wembley to play the playoff final. In the third year he had direct promotion, I think in the fourth year, he deserved to be sacked."

Served his time?

When asked if he wanted the job on a permanent basis, Agnew insisted he was solely focused on Sunday's match but added taking charge of the first team was a "massive opportunity" and that he had "served [his] time" as an assistant, having worked under Karanka for two and a half years.

Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare was recently appointed until the end of the season, having been in interim control, and Agnew said: "If I can do what he has done we will all be pleased."

Gibson has hinted that Agnew may be placed in charge until the end of the season, stating there is a "bit more steel" to Agnew than people realise and he "could be a surprise number one".

"That may disappoint those people who want glamour and somebody to come in ready-made, a sexy name, but that's not what we need at this point - he's more than a safe pair of hands," said Gibson.

The club have also appointed former Portsmouth, Tottenham Hotspur and QPR coach Joe Jordan to support Agnew during the run-in, with the interim boss expecting Jordan to have a "big impact" on his players.

"[Joe] lives in Bristol - when I made the phone call, he was in the car and was here six hours later, that tells you all you need to know," said Agnew.

Top Stories