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Venus has first chance to impress Boro chief
STEVE GIBSON will take his time to find the right man to succeed Tony Mowbray so caretaker boss Mark Venus could be in charge of Middlesbrough for longer than just one Championship game.
Gibson and Boro chief executive Neil Bausor have been inundated with applications for the manager’s job at the Riverside Stadium, but any suggestion that a new permanent appointment is imminent is wide of the mark.
Ian Holloway, who left his post at Crystal Palace last night, and former Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan have both seen their odds with the bookmakers tumble in the last 48 hours sparking claims they were set for the role.
Former England Under-21s boss Stuart Pearce, ex-Aston Villa managers Alex McLeish and Martin O’Neill as well as former Middlesbrough players Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink and Fabrizio Ravanelli are also thought to be interested. Former Derby County boss Nigel Clough, meanwhile, took over at Sheffield United yesterday.
The Northern Echo understands Gibson, whose strong links with the foreign game could lead to an overseas appointment, is merely assessing all of the available options and remains in no immediate rush to bring a new face in.
There has been a lot of talking, but there has not thought to have been any interviews conducted while Middlesbrough assess the merits of those to have been in contact about the job and any other candidates.
Such a situation means Venus has an opportunity to stake his own claim on a full-time basis. The Hartlepool-born former Ipswich and Wolves defender has been at Mowbray’s side since stepping in to management at Hibernian in 2004 and he will be assisted by Under-21s coach Jamie Clapham as well as Mark Proctor and Stephen Pears.
But Gibson turned to Venus in the immediate aftermath of the manager’s sacking on Monday afternoon to ask if he would fill the position on a short-term basis and he accepted.
The boyhood Middlesbrough supporter has been leading training this week and will be in charge for tomorrow night’s visit of Doncaster Rovers to the Riverside.
Venus has never ruled out stepping in to frontline management and will hold his first press conference as caretaker boss at lunch-time today. He is yet to reveal whether he wants to be considered for the position on a full-time basis.
An indication of the early trust there is in the new man holding the reins from the boardroom was shown by Gibson’s willingness to push through the deal for Daniel Ayala on the caretaker’s say so yesterday.
In Venus’ first meeting with Gibson on Monday he was asked what area needed immediate strengthening and he indicated the defence could do with a different option after leaking 21 goals in their last 12 league games.
Middlesbrough moved quickly to set up a deal for Ayala on Tuesday and a three-month loan was confirmed yesterday morning.
The 22-year-old has been a long-term target of the Mowbray regime and came highly recommended by Venus, who had watched the player play a number of times.
The centre-back joins former Norwich team-mates Jacob Butterfield and Kei Kamara on Teeside and has already trained with the rest of the Middlesbrough squad.
Ayala, a former Liverpool and Sevilla defender, has been close to signing for Middlesbrough a couple of times only for a deal to breakdown at the last minute.
He originally moved to Norwich in a £1m deal from Anfield in 2011 when Paul Lambert was strengthening his squad in the hope of turning the League One champions in to a capable Championship outfit.
Two injury-hit seasons, though, restricted Ayala’s playing time and under Lambert’s successor Chris Hughton he has found opportunities even more limited. He spent last season on loan at Nottingham Forest.
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