Southgate braced for departures

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate expects to lose his top players in the wholesale changes that will come following relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate expects to lose his top players in the wholesale changes that will come following relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

Boro crashed out of the top flight following yesterday’s 2-1 defeat by West Ham at Upton Park and Southgate, who wants to remain as boss, is bracing himself to sell the likes of Tuncay Sanli and Stewart Downing.

Downing’s situation has been complicated by a long-term ankle injury, while Afonso Alves could go but would be unlikely to fetch the £12m Boro paid for him.

“Inevitably, there will be big changes to the playing squad,” Southgate said. “There will be personal agendas and as a club we will have to bring some money in to go forward. There are also situations I want to change.”

Southgate hopes to be given the opportunity to get Boro back into the top flight.

“I have to accept there will be a large percentage of fans that would want a change of manager and this is a tough time for this football club but I am determined to see this fight through,” he said.

“As far as I’m concerned, you don’t walk away in difficult times, you stand firm and fight back. We’ll do that as a club.

“The chairman decides what happens ultimately but I would not contemplate turning that challenge down.

“Nothing has been discussed with the chairman, we have to sit down this week and plan more definitely what is going to happen. It will be a tough challenge and we’ll have to improve.

“We’re ready to make those changes because it clearly hasn’t worked this year.”

Southgate has not got a big wage bill – most players will remain on their current contracts if they stay – and he feels the club could return financially healthier.

“We might end up stronger for making sure we get our finances in order over the next few months,” he said. “It might leave us in a healthier position to move forward.”

Boro’s fate was sealed after Junior Stanislas’ shot squirmed through Brad Jones.

Southgate’s men had earlier given themselves hope when Gary O’Neil cancelled out Carlton Cole’s opener.

While Southgate expects players to leave Boro, Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola hopes Lucas Neill will sign a new contract at Upton Park and he is confident Matthew Upson will also stay despite missing out on European football.

“In the next few days there will be meetings and something will happen, I’m sure it will be something positive,” said Zola on the prospect of Neill committing his future to the club.

“Matthew looks happy here to me and he wants to stay so it shouldn’t be a problem.”

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