Under-fire manager Gareth Southgate has been told his job is safe by Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson.
Gibson’s decision to publicly back Southgate is remarkable given that the Teessiders have won just one of their last 18 Premier League games and are second from bottom, four points from safety.
A dismal 1-0 defeat against fellow strugglers Stoke at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday was the last straw for many disenchanted Boro supporters, but Gibson does not subscribe to the theory that a change at the top at such an important juncture in the season will help.
“The magic wand in our situation isn’t sacking Gareth Southgate,” Gibson told the official club website.
He added: “I take on board the views of the fans because I care as much as they do. But if I was to sack Gareth Southgate at this stage, how would it help the situation?”
Gibson did cave in to fans’ fears during the 2000-01 season when he appointed Terry Venables to work alongside then-manager Bryan Robson and the pair masterminded a successful fight for survival.
But the Riverside supremo has said Southgate alone will be charged with the task of steering second-from-bottom Boro to safety.
He also aimed a veiled swipe at the players by insisting they too must share the responsibility of securing the club another season in the top tier of English football.
He added: “It doesn’t matter how much preparation is put in, once the game kicks off at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon any manager is limited in what he can do to influence the result. And the result is everything.”
Gibson’s hopes will be put to the test when Middlesbrough travel to take on Bolton on April 4.
Nick Walsh writes previews and features about football betting for Betfair.