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Southgate is backing Mowbray
DESPITE suffering the financial implications of losing Premier League status, former manager Gareth Southgate has backed Middlesbrough to challenge for a play-off place this season – and believes Tony Mowbray is the right man to lead them back to the top.
Southgate was the last manager to lead Boro in the Premier League before his side were relegated at the end of the 2008-09 season and the following campaign was their first out of the top flight in 11 years.
Now, Boro are competing in their fourth Championship season and boss Tony Mowbray has had to contend with cost cutting measures to ensure the club’s long-term security.
Parachute payments for being relegated out of the Premier League ended last year and chairman Steve Gibson remains wary of the club’s financial state the longer they remain in the Championship.
The Teessiders have had an indifferent start to the new campaign, but Southgate believes they are still possible contenders for a play-off place.
“Each year they’ve been out the Premier League is bad financially and you have to cut cloth,” Southgate said.
“Tony, I thought, was the only appointment they could make. Supporters will be right behind him and the way he likes the team to play is good.
“It’s such a tight league this year, you look at the table and at the moment there doesn’t seem to be one outstanding team so it’s very much in the mix.
“I wouldn’t see Boro as one of the favourites to go up, but there’s no reason why they can’t make the play-offs.”
Southgate was also manager when Boro were filling the Riverside and crowds in recent years have been disappointing.
However, the former Boro captain understands the current financial climate is making it difficult for supporters to follow the club on a regular basis.
He said: “It is an area where living is tough. People have got to be careful they way they spend their money and that will have an effect on crowds.
“The club will do what they can and if they get the team winning then crowds will lift.
“Midweek matches are always difficult, because people are more likely to go at the weekend.
“Last week they had a Saturday home match and then a Wednesday night home match and not a lot of people can afford to go to both – that’s the reality.”