Steve Agnew determined to show his managerial credentials at Middlesbrough

Luke Edwards
Steve Agnew is in interim charge at Middlesbrough following Aitor Karanka's dismissal  - PA Wire

The opportunity is unexpected, the departure of his old boss Aitor Karanka, sudden, but Steve Agnew is adamant it is still the right time for him to move into management as he looks to lead Middlesbrough away from relegation danger.

Middlesbrough chairman, Steve Gibson, wants to give Agnew the head coach role on a long-term basis, even though the vastly experienced former Holland and Chelsea manager Gus Hiddink is available and interested in the job.

Agnew certainly does not talk like someone who is merely keeping the seat warm until Gibson can find a more experienced manager during the international break and having seen Craig Shakespeare thrive in similar circumstances at Leicester City, he is confident Gibson will not regret trusting him.

Agnew is well-respected as a coach and having served as a number two to Steve Bruce at Hull City, as well as Karanka, the 51-year-old revealed he has been waiting for an opportunity like this to come along.

Despite rumours the dressing room has been divided by Karanka’s dubious man management, Agnew claimed everyone is now pulling in the same direction and confirmed that former England international Stewart Downing will be recalled against Manchester United after a training ground row with his predecessor.

Karanka was sacked by Middlesbrough on Thursday Credit: Rex Features

“It’s always difficult to decide when you go into management, when to take over the key role,” said Agnew, who has been told he will be in charge until the end of the season. “Probably over the last year, the desire has stayed with me. I’m very, very confident carrying out my duties.

“Of course, this is an opportunity for me. And it’s something I’m determined to make a success of. I had a very brief conversation with the owner he said ‘enjoy it, get on with it’ and that’s what I’ve done."

Asked if there were any lingering problems in the dressing room, Agnew replied: “Not at all. They’re probably the best group of players I’ve worked with in terms of their attitude and application to all they do.

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“Togetherness is something we’ve used all season. In my opinion, that’s never gone away. The group is strong, is committed, fully behind each other on the back of promotion.

“We all knew how difficult the Premier League would be and it has been proved to be, but now there is positivity, togetherness, energy, spirit all that.”

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