Mowbray: Promotion remains Gibson’s target

HE may have missed out on landing Danny Graham on deadline day, but Tony Mowbray thinks the late move for the former Swansea City striker shows just how hungry chairman Steve Gibson still is for Middlesbrough to be back in the Premier League.

Middlesbrough head for Ipswich Town this afternoon knowing the need for a return to winning ways is much-needed after three straight defeats in the Championship.

The slip in form has left Boro 13 points behind leaders Cardiff City and six shy of second-placed Leicester City, who have played a game more.

Mowbray has added experienced midfielder Kieron Dyer to his ranks since losing to Leicester but he would also have liked Graham to have joined the promotion push.

But after being beaten to the striker's signature by neighbours Sunderland on Thursday, the Middlesbrough manager thinks the mere fact Gibson sanctioned a late part-exchange deal involving Marvin Emnes highlights how much the club still means to the man at the top.

"After 11 years in the Premier League it must be frustrating for the chairman to now see, with respect, the Barnsleys or whoever coming along in the Championship and playing his club," said Mowbray.

"It's a great credit he has still got the passion in this club to try to get Teesside enjoying their football. He helps when he can. His business goes up and down and it is a bad time in the world for everyone.

"The fans understand they have a chairman trying to be very supportive of his manager, the town and his club.

"Had the Danny Graham deal come off I'm pretty sure it would have been a stretch, a push for the chairman.

"He does it because he wants the people of Teesside to be supportive of their team. He wants those supporters to be looking forward to the likes of Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal coming from the Premier League again.

"It's the only reason he does it. He doesn't do it to spend money. I can feel it in his voice sometimes that it is a stretch. He wants to help. Sometimes things stretch beyond where it makes sense.

"I don't ever clamour favour from him. I get on with my job. People will have a perception of which managers are doing a good job, who is punching above their weight. I think the chairman knows the scenario where we have been working in the last two years. The bottom line though is that we all want success."

Mowbray has been the first manager under Gibson's chairmanship that has had to significantly reduce the wage bill at the Riverside. In reshaping the squad, admittedly with less money, he has impressed everyone on Teesside.

But with Middlesbrough sitting sixth in the Championship and in with a genuine chance of promotion he is hoping supporters stay supportive of what they are trying to do rather than dwell on missing out on Graham. He also hinted that a failure to return to the big stage could result in further cost cutting in the close-season.

"The Boro fans should focus on helping us over the line as they have done over the year," said Mowbray, whose January plans to land Stewart Downing never really got off the ground because he returned to favour at Liverpool.

"There is still an adjustment from where we are. We still need to reduce a bit. If we are still in the Championship next year then expect the salaries to be less, the squad to be smaller because we have to work within our means.

"If we could have had Danny Graham come through the door he would have helped us win more matches and got us closer to where we want to be. Those are the gambles you take. Every club is in the same boat. We have a budget."

Had Middlesbrough fared better since the turn of the year they would be sitting nicely in second spot ahead of today's trip to struggling Ipswich. Mowbray is, though, unconcerned.

He said: "They showed during December we can win back to back games. Can we do that again? I'm sure we can. We need to keep going.

"We have got two home games on the back of this and then in a couple of weeks time we could be in a really strong position again. We are looking forward to the challenge of a run of games we believe we can win.

"The way the season has gone we should be confident at Ipswich, even though we know Mick McCarthy's team will be determined and focused. If we can win three games on the bounce and then push on, who knows?"

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