Southgate eager to repay Gibson's faith

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Gareth Southgate is desperate to reward Middlesbrough's biggest fan for his backing by keeping the club in the Barclays Premier League.

Chairman Steve Gibson, like chief executive Keith Lamb, emerged from among the ranks of the Boro faithful and has played the leading role in the club's efforts to establish itself in the top flight.

Southagte said: "We want it to work for them and for the rest of the fans - because Keith and the chairman are fans and we want to pull through it for all the supporters."

With three games of the season remaining, starting with Monday night's must-win derby trip to Newcastle, Boro are odds-on with most bookmakers to plunge back into the Football League.

But where other struggling clubs have changed their managers this season - notably the Magpies, Sunderland, Tottenham, Blackburn and Portsmouth - Southgate continues to enjoy the steadfast support of the man who appointed him almost three years ago.

That has taken a huge amount of pressure off Southgate's shoulders, but has simply served to make the sense of responsibility he feels for the club's welfare even more intense.

The former England defender added: "It is great to have the support of the chairman, of course, but I want to achieve for the football club and also to repay that faith.

"Everybody on the staff, in particular, feels that debt towards the people at the top.

Southgate has never been in any doubt as to the debt of gratitude he owes to Gibson, who fought for permission to install him as Steve McClaren's replacement without his coaching qualifications, and who continues to leave him to do his job without interference from the boardroom.

The manager said: "He is very supportive when he needs to be, and he trusts us to get on with what needs doing. I don't need to run to him every five minutes for clarification on things. I know his support is there and that's all that matters."

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