Thursday 19 October 2017

George Friend hints at behind-the-scenes troubles at Middlesbrough

Defender George Friend, pictured, is coming to terms with Middlesbrough's relegation from the Premier League
Defender George Friend, pictured, is coming to terms with Middlesbrough's relegation from the Premier League

Middlesbrough defender George Friend has hinted that the club's bid for Premier League survival was harmed by issues within the dressing room.

The full-back and his team-mates are contemplating life back in the Sky Bet Championship after just one season in the top flight following Monday night's 3-0 defeat at Chelsea.

Boro will hold an inquest into what went wrong once the campaign draws to a close, and chairman Steve Gibson faces a big decision over whether or not to retain the services of Steve Agnew as head coach after asking him to fill Aitor Karanka's shoes back in March.

But Friend believes the players too have to look at themselves.

He told BBC Tees: "You have to have a reaction, you have to give it everything for the last two games and then over the summer, you have to review what's gone wrong. A lot of that is above my jurisdiction.

"I have to look at myself personally and perhaps my team-mates, but there are things that need to be reviewed and we need to find out what they are and make changes so these things never happen again.

"We need to do better than we have done this season, that's the honest truth. I have been disappointed with certain things in the dressing room. I don't really want to elaborate, that's all I'll say on that matter.

"But things have to be looked at and we go from there."

A season which had started promisingly gradually spiralled out of control with Karanka criticising a section of the club's fans, the hierarchy, the recruitment team and even some players, while midfielder Gaston Ramirez's attempts to force through a January move to Leicester did little to create a harmonious atmosphere.

In the end, the club slipped back into the Football League with something of a whimper, and that is a source of intense frustration for Friend.

He said: "Last season ended with so much anticipation and excitement that's it's only felt disappointing that we haven't achieved what we all hoped for.

"But we have to learn from it, there's no other way now. It's done. It was all done in a bad manner, but we have to learn from it - that's the only thing we can do - and make sure the same mistakes don't happen again."

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