Leo Percovich will remain in charge of Middlesbrough for weekend game at Millwall

Interim manager Leo Percovich guided his Middlesbrough side to a 1-0 victory over Birmingham City at the Riverside Stadium last night
Interim manager Leo Percovich guided his Middlesbrough side to a 1-0 victory over Birmingham City at the Riverside Stadium last night

LEO PERCOVICH has been told he will remain in interim charge of Middlesbrough for Saturday’s game at Millwall, with the club’s search for a new permanent manager set to extend beyond the weekend.

Percovich’s temporary spell in charge got off to a dream start last night as Chuba Akpom’s first-half strike secured a 1-0 win over Birmingham City and lifted the Teessiders out of the Championship’s bottom three.

The Uruguayan is leading a coaching team that also features Craig Liddle, Mark Tinkler and Lee Cattermole, and the quartet will remain in place for the next three days, taking charge of Saturday’s game at the Den.

“When everything happened on Monday, they told me to take training on Monday, prepare a team for Wednesday and also for Saturday,” said Percovich, who stepped up from his role as first-team coach to take interim charge following the dismissal of Chris Wilder. “So, we already know we need to get ready for Saturday.

“We will be working on tactical videos, and also trying to keep boosting the players’ confidence because they need to feel comfortable with the ball.

“I like to play with the ball. I like my players to move the ball and hurt the opposition, but this was just the first step. We needed a win. Now, we need to keep the heart and emotional high to keep another clean sheet, but then also try to build our play in a better way.”

Boro showcased their attacking qualities as they claimed the lead before the break, with Akpom sweeping home from a close range after a corner sparked a scramble in the Birmingham box.

The hosts had to dig deep as their opponents rallied in the second half, and Percovich was delighted with his players’ commitment and resolve when their backs were to the wall. Not, however, that he ever doubted they would respond positively to his urgings.

“In football, you always say you will take a 1-0, but it can be really suffocating until the final blow of the whistle,” he said. “But that is why we came here tonight – to get the three points and move up the table.

“In the second half, it was all about the emotion. A lot of things happened this week for the players, and it’s hard for them when you are playing with a heavy backpack, but you need to keep running and thinking under pressure.

“The attitude and character were there, and the heart they showed today won’t change because that is what they have. We know they have too much talent to be where they were (in the league table) – they will be absolutely fine, I am sure.

“I have been proud to represent them. I know how they feel. They know that I will always be supporting them – every time we lost and it was painful, I have always been there for them. So tonight, they stood up for me and made me feel the most proud coach in the world.”