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Venus to remain in charge despite Blackburn defeat
MARK VENUS will remain in charge of Middlesbrough for this weekend's home game with Watford despite suffering his first defeat as caretaker manager at Blackburn on Saturday.
Venus watched Jason Lowe's second-half wonder strike settle a scruffy affair at Ewood Park, and check at least some of the momentum that had been generated by the previous weekend's emphatic home win over Doncaster.
The caretaker boss is effectively on trial for a permanent position in charge of the Teessiders, and The Northern Echo understands a solitary defeat will not see him dispatched from his temporary role.
Venus will continue to take charge of training this week, before presiding over this weekend's game with a Watford side who have won just one of their last five matches to drop out of the play-off places.
After Saturday, there is a two-week international break before Boro head to Leeds for their next fixture, and that period is likely to be pivotal in terms of chairman Steve Gibson appointing a permanent boss.
Gibson has received more than 100 applications and expressions of interest for the position, and is willing to consider some of the candidates as potential alternatives to Venus.
The likes of Aitor Karanka, Mike Phelan and Stuart Pearce have been discussed, but Gibson has not initiated talks with anyone other than Venus, who remains the favourite for the post.
“We'll see what happens,” said Venus, who looked to have guided his side to a decent away point before Lowe struck from long range with 14 minutes left. “From my point of view, it's always been a case of business as usual and that's how I'll be thinking about things.
“Irrespective of win or lose, the general mindset has to be the same. I'll just keep doing what I think is right with them until someone tells me something different.”
Whereas Venus had adopted an expansive mindset against Doncaster, fielding two out-and-out wingers in an attacking formation, he revealed a more circumspect side to his style at Ewood Park.
Jozsef Varga replaced Mustapha Carayol to strengthen the midfield, and the ploy largely worked as Blackburn were restricted to a handful of chances despite boasting the leading scorer in the Championship in the shape of Jordan Rhodes.
Carayol and Lukas Jutkiewicz were introduced from the bench in the second half as Venus looked to open the game up in search of a winner, but his plans were wrecked when Lowe hammered home what turned out to be the only goal.
It was a much more robust away performance than Boro had produced under Tony Mowbray at Barnsley or QPR, but Venus was still dissatisfied with his side's sloppiness in possession and failure to carve out too many chances.
“I think, at times, we have to be better with the football,” he said. “The players have to put demands on each other and be better in terms of doing the simple things like controlling and moving the ball.
“When they're on the ball, they have to make the right decisions when it comes to passing it. I was a bit disappointed with that side of our game.
“I told the players in the dressing room that they have to work on the basics. This league demands that you do the basics well, and we have to do the basics things better than we're doing at the minute. If we don't do that, we'll just keep on losing games, or winning one here and there. We won't ever be a consistently good football team.
“I'm not knocking how much any of the players put in, I thought they all worked really hard. There are a lot of tired limbs in there. While I'm here, I just have to put the demands on them that I feel is right. Hopefully, that will make it better and make it easier to win games.”
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