A sexy name is not what we need - Boro chairman extols Agnew's virtues

Steve Agnew has been described by Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson as the "safe pair of hands" the club needs following Aitor Karanka's departure.

It was announced on Thursday that Karanka and Boro had parted company after three and a half years, during which time the Spaniard returned the club to the Premier League with promotion as Championship runners-up last season.

With 11 matches of 2016-17 remaining, Boro sit second from bottom, three points from safety, ahead of Sunday's home fixture with Manchester United.

Agnew took charge of Boro against Charlton Athletic last season when Karanka reportedly fell out with some of his playing staff and was absent for the game, and Gibson says the down-to-earth approach of Karanka's former number two is exactly what the club needs for their relegation fight.

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"I've known Steve a long time," Gibson told The Times. "He's a very good coach and a very good number two. There's more to him than people know and a bit more steel.

"Steve could be a surprise number one. That may disappoint those people who want glamour and somebody to come in ready-made, a sexy name, but that's not what we need at this point.

"I want to find out about Steve. My phone hasn't stopped.

"I've had agents offering me obscure individuals and I've had some surprises too; at the moment Steve is going to get all the support we can give him. He's more than a safe pair of hands."

Gibson also revealed that Karanka's fatigue was the primary reason behind him and the club parting ways, the chairman insisting the Spaniard was not sacked.

"I've had a lot of discussions with Aitor since the weekend," Gibson said. "We agreed that a different approach is required.

"Aitor is tired, he has worked so hard for our football club over the last three and a half years and the tension surrounding the end of last season would have taken its toll on anyone. Then we had a very busy summer.

"He was working his socks off trying to bring players in and he hasn't really had a break since the minute he walked through the door. What we concluded - he and I - was that he perhaps wasn't the guy at this point in time to deliver that change.

"I know people are cynical when you say that a decision was mutual, but he wasn't sacked. He sacrificed himself. He's in a good frame of mind. I think he's relieved.

"He has been enormous for our club. He has progressed us and he will have learnt an enormous amount from this experience. He's got a wonderful future in football - I really think that."

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