Former Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate claims he was told after he was sacked that Gordon Strachan had been lined up as his successor more than two weeks earlier.
Southgate was relieved of his duties as Boro boss late on Tuesday night, just hours after guiding his team to a 2-0 triumph over Derby - their first home win in four attempts - which left the Teessiders one point off top spot in the Coca-Cola Championship.
"(Chief executive) Keith (Lamb) was quite open in telling me he had interviewed Gordon Strachan in London for my job more than two weeks earlier, on the night before we beat Reading (October 3)," the ex-England international told the Mail on Sunday.
"Apparently, I was going to get the sack then but we'd played so well that (chairman) Steve (Gibson) decided he couldn't do it. I found it bizarre that Keith should tell me all that. I didn't know whether I should applaud him for being so honest or get angry for taking the mickey."
Gibson hopes to unveil Strachan as the club's new manager on Monday.
Southgate, meanwhile, admits his exit from the Riverside came completely out of the blue.
"It didn't sink in, it was so unexpected. I was too stunned to mount a defence. I regret now that I didn't say a few things, like the fact we were only one point off the top of the table," he said.
"It wouldn't have changed his mind but it might have made me feel better.
"I've heard different reasons since then for my sacking - low crowds was one. I understand that Steve might feel a new manager could lift the fans at this stage but the reason I was given was poor results, which is surprising.
"I got a text from someone pointing out I'd only got one point less than Chris Hughton and he had been offered the manager's job full-time at Newcastle United."
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