Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Alan Green: Southgate simply had to leave

Much has been made about the timing of Gareth Southgate’s dismissal as Middlesbrough manager given that it came after a home victory which, then, left them only a point off the top of the Championship table.

The critics are wrong.

There is no more enlightened, progressive, supportive chairman in the whole of English football than Steve Gibson. Indeed, the ‘timing’ emphasised that this was no knee-jerk decision. It emerged from weeks of careful consideration, thought that will have been very painful for Gibson.

It was the last thing he wanted to do but he did it because he put the club’s interests first.

Southgate had over three years. Not everything that went wrong was his fault.

He had to sell so many players to ease pressure on club finances and that led to an over-reliance on youth.

But some big buys, like Afonso, like Mido, were poor. Some recent results were flattering and, alarmingly, club gates were falling.

Change was required. Southgate, as a manager, isn’t remotely finished. He’ll have learnt a lot for his next commission.

The hope is that Gordon Strachan will get the club going again and up into the Premier League.

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