Venus admits he's on a knife-edge - but pledges to do all he can to earn permanent Middlesbrough post (From The Advertiser Series)
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Venus admits he's on a knife-edge - but pledges to do all he can to earn permanent Middlesbrough post
MARK VENUS accepts he could be one defeat away from the managerial scrapheap, but the Middlesbrough caretaker is determined to do all he can to remain at the top of Steve Gibson’s shortlist.
Venus will take charge of his second game as interim boss when he takes his side to Blackburn Rovers tomorrow looking to build on last weekend’s morale-boosting 4-0 win over Doncaster.
Gibson has promised to give the boyhood Middlesbrough fan every opportunity to earn a permanent position, and even if things do not go to plan at Ewood Park, there is unlikely to be a kneejerk reaction or immediate rush to look elsewhere.
Spaniard Aitor Karanka continues to tout himself for the vacant positions at both Boro and Crystal Palace via his agent, Jorge Mendes, and Gibson is aware of the former Real Madrid assistant’s interest.
Ex-England under-21 boss Stuart Pearce is another lively contender, but it increasingly appears as though it is Venus’ job to lose, and while his fate will ultimately be determined by results, the 46-year-old will be doing everything in his power to persuade Gibson to agree to a permanent deal.
“I haven’t spoken to the chairman,” said Venus, who has no new injury worries to contend with ahead of the trip across the Pennines. “But I have to understand the situation I’m in. I’m not in a comfortable position, am I?
“I’m a bit on the edge of a cliff really – one or two bad results away from possibly being out of work. But I also understand the situation and the job I’ve been asked to do.
“I’m enjoying it and look forward to doing it every day. Hopefully, I can produce the things the chairman thinks I can and that the club would like me to do.
“From there, the chairman will then have a decision to make, and from my point of view, the more we win and the better we play, the harder the chairman’s decision will be. That’s all I’m trying to do.”
By guiding Boro to only their third win of the season last Friday, Venus has lifted at least some of the gloom that had engulfed the Riverside in the latter stages of Tony Mowbray’s reign.
There was a brightness and vitality to Boro’s play against Doncaster, matched by a much more upbeat mood emanating from the club’s biggest home attendance of the season.
It felt as though a corner had been turned, but it is worth remembering that Mowbray’s final home game as manager also saw his side put four goals past a team struggling in the bottom half of the table.
That win over Yeovil was followed by a disastrous first-half display at Barnsley that ultimately brought about Mowbray’s demise, and for all that some optimism has returned in the last fortnight, this is no time to start getting complacent.
“One result doesn’t make a season for the players,” said Venus. “They have to try to work as hard as they did on Friday in every game. They’re going to get some disappointments and some successes, but they have to keep improving and doing better than they had been doing at the end of last season and the start of this.
“They’ve been really good in the last week. They’ve carried on from where they were in the couple of days I had them before we played. They’ve worked really hard, and they should all be looking forward to Saturday.
“It’s important to get back-to-back wins. If we’re going to do anything at all in the league, we have to start winning two or three games in a row. We’re working on things, and we’re going to be trying hard to do that.”
Boro have not won back-to-back league games in the whole of 2013, with their last double success featuring a 1-0 win over Blackburn on Boxing Day.
Venus made a number of changes last Friday in an attempt to address this year’s failings, and the majority paid off in style.
Daniel Ayala made an impressive debut at the heart of defence, while Mustapha Carayol and Marvin Emnes returned to cause havoc in attack, but perhaps the most notable move was the promotion of Richie Smallwood back into the engine room at the heart of midfield.
Preferred to both Dean Whitehead and Jacob Butterfield, Smallwood controlled the game alongside Grant Leadbitter, and the ‘Dormanstown destroyer’ is set to keep his place against Blackburn.
“Richie came on against Barnsley when we were losing 3-0 at half-time and showed a great attitude to the task,” said Venus. “He shows a great attitude every day in training, and epitomises what I like in footballers every day he comes to work.
“I was never going to stop him playing on Friday. I think he deserved it, and I didn’t think he let anyone down. If he keeps up with what he’s doing, and keeps producing and trying to do what he does, then I’ll pick the players who I think can win us the games and he’ll be at the forefront of my mind.”
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