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Boro’s Southgate gets another chance. Does he deserve it?
Most people agree that sacking a manager after a few weeks or a handful of matches is ridiculous, but sometimes chairmen go to the other extreme and exhibit reserves of patience that would be beyond most fans.
Given the frantic pace of the soccer industry, Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate can consider himself an extremely lucky man after a season that brought the club just seven league victories, 28 goals and relegation.
Boro chairman Steve Gibson said in a BBC Radio interview this week he was backing Southgate to get the club back in the Premier League next season, vowing not to make the former England international a scapegoat for the club’s relegation.
A lot of people will be wondering why not.
In January 2008, Southgate brought in record signing Brazilian striker Afonso Alves for 12.7 million quid from Heerenveen and let captain George Boateng and fellow midfielder Lee Cattermole go in the close season.
This campaign, Boro struggled to compete in midfield and could not score goals. Alves managed just four all season and despite this problem Egyptian international Mido was allowed to leave on loan, along with another Southgate signing, Marlon King.
Gibson showed similar patience with former England manager Steve McClaren and Bryan Robson. While it is an admirable and rare virtue in football, it certainly has not done Gibson many favours to date.
Can Southgate prove the chairman’s faith is not misplaced by bringing Boro straight back?
PHOTO: Gareth Southgate kicks the ball during Middlesbrough’s Premier League match against Sunderland at The Stadium of Light, April 26, 2008. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis