Step up from playing to managing was tough, says Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate

Last updated at 14:40 10 May 2008

Gareth Southgate admits the transition from lining up alongside Middlesbrough's players to managing them has been one of the toughest parts of his job.

The 37-year-old will complete two seasons at the helm when Manchester City bring down the curtain on the Barclays Premier League campaign at the Riverside tomorrow.

Boro go into the game having secured their top-flight status with last

weekend's 2-0 win over Portsmouth, a result which sparked a huge sigh of relief

on Teesside.

Southgate, however, was quick to reflect upon the difficulties of his second

campaign and indicate that changes would be made before the start of the next


One of those changes will be the distance he establishes between himself and

the dressing room from which he emerged so recently.

He said: "Probably the biggest thing has been the difficulty of going from the

dressing room to managing the club.

"You play with players and its very difficult to immediately change that

relationship with them.

"I have felt a need to prove myself, that I can survive in this division as a

manager, if you like.

"But I have done that now and two years on, the relationship now has to be

manager/player rather than ex-team-mate/player for the ones I have played with.

That goes for the younger ones and the older ones.

"You are constantly battling with decisions and how they affect people, but I

have got a clear picture in my mind of what has to change for next season in my

eyes now.

"Another 12 months down the line, there will be different things that need

changing, but I certainly know where we have fallen short this season and what

needs to be done to correct that."

Southgate has faced difficult decisions this season - there was a difference of

opinion with long-term colleague George Boateng at one point which put a strain

on their relationship - and has emerged a wiser man.

But throughout all the traumas of a campaign which saw striker Mark Viduka

leave during the summer and then Ayegbeni Yakubu follow him just a fortnight

into the season, while injuries have continually blighted team selection, he was

at least able to rely on one constant.

Chairman Steve Gibson has proved a stout ally of all his managers, but he took

a gamble on elevating Southgate from club captain to manager, and has never

wavered since.

The former England defender admitted this week that there were times when if

Gibson had decided to sack him, he could not have complained.

However, he insists he never feared that scenario.

Southgate said: "No, because when we have had difficult results, he has always

been totally supportive and understanding of the situation we were in.

"Internally, I never felt that would be the case. But if it had been, I could

have understood it on the basis of what other clubs were doing, not on the basis

of what either of us felt was right for this club.

"What I am grateful for is the opportunity and the leap of faith he took in

giving me that opportunity.

"He knows the inexperience of the situation at the start, but he has got that

faith that I can do the job.

"I think I have repaid that faith in terms of surviving in the division for

two years and all the requirements of reducing the wage bill and that type of

thing that we have had to do.

"That's been an incredible learning experience, but I intend to continue to

repay that faith by working as intelligently as I can over all the hours that

are sent to try to improve things further."

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