Saturday 22 July 2017

I understand fans' unrest - Agnew

Middlesbrough 1 Southampton 2

Steve Agnew could not save Boro from relegation. Photo: PA News
Steve Agnew could not save Boro from relegation. Photo: PA News
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Middlesbrough fans resorted to gallows humour after a performance in keeping with their meek Premier League campaign - a frustration head coach Steve Agnew fully understood.

Monday's defeat at Chelsea confirmed Boro's relegation back to the Championship after a top-flight campaign devoid of excitement. It was somewhat fitting that the final top-flight match at the Riverside was so drab, with Jay Rodriguez and Nathan Redmond securing much-changed Southampton a deserved win on Teesside.

Jay Rodriguez, left, celebrates his goal with Sofiane Boufal. Photo: PA News
Jay Rodriguez, left, celebrates his goal with Sofiane Boufal. Photo: PA News

Patrick Bamford's goal - his first in 760 days - was a welcome consolation on an afternoon when the fans' disillusionment was clear, chanting former manager Aitor Karanka's name and calling for their own goalkeeper Brad Guzan to be sent off after giving away a penalty, which was missed by Shane Long.

Put to Agnew that he would have to be deaf not to have heard the fans' unrest, he said: "I didn't really [hear it]. But I understand the frustration from the crowd, they've had a really, really disappointing season. We have to accept responsibility for where we are and understand the frustration from the supporters."

Boro chairman Steve Gibson spoke about the "heartbreaking" campaign after the match and confirmed that a decision had been made on the managerial situation, saying "when we're ready to announce that, I will".

The owner wants to "smash" the Championship next term and the fact he did not confirm that Agnew was staying in charge could be telling.

Middlesbrough's Patrick Bamford celebrates scoring their only goal. Photo: Reuters
Middlesbrough's Patrick Bamford celebrates scoring their only goal. Photo: Reuters

"It's about the club and I've said it before," said Agnew, handed first-team reins on a short-term basis in March. "It is about the club, it is about how we now bounce back. It is not about my situation, my position."

Speculation also continues as to whether Southampton could also be looking for a new manager. Saints reached the EFL Cup final and enjoyed a few memorable moments this term, but a sense of drift has crept in under Claude Puel.

Talk of player dissatisfaction puzzles the Frenchman. "I don't know where comes this speculation because I didn't see anything at the training sessions," Puel said.

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