Southgate still aiming high

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Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate sends his side into Monday night's daunting Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford insisting they can still turn their ailing season around.

A series of miserable defeats including the Boxing Day loss to Everton have seen Boro slump to the brink of the relegation zone and increased the pressure on Southgate's shoulders.

Southgate insisted: "We are trying to improve and get back in the top 10. That is still within touching distance, but it is a hell of an achievement if we can do that."

He added: "It might not be enough for people outside the club but we understand how long it takes for things to progress and there has to be reality about your objectives and how quickly they can be achieved.

"We had cup success in the past under Bryan (Robson) and Steve (McClaren) and both of them had one year finishing in the top 10. It's hard and we realise how hard it is going to be.

"We have got some players in our squad that we have got to get the best out of and if we get the best from our squad, then we might be able to achieve something."

Despite controversy blighting recent clashes between the two teams, most recently Emanuel Pogatetz's controversial challenge on Rodrigo Possebon last September, Southgate is full of praise for Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

And he admits his own ailing team have plenty to learn from United in terms of the leadership qualities required in order to lift a team into contention for the major prizes.

Southgate added: "People are always looking for leaders, but they are at a premium at the moment. If you went into any club in the Premier League, they would probably say the same.

"Sir Alex has got a different situation because he has got the likes of (Ryan) Giggs and (Gary) Neville and (Paul) Scholes, who probably run the dressing room there. Everyone wants that situation, but I suspect very few clubs have got that."

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Rodrigo Possebon
Premier League
Manchester United
Emanuel Pogatetz
Gareth Southgate

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