FORMER Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson has recalled how a ‘statement of intent’ in the transfer market after relegation during his time in charge proved the catalyst for a promotion charge the following year.

And as chairman Steve Gibson, who backed him on that front 20 years ago, prepares for a similar summer this time around, Robson is convinced the man at the top will be doing everything he can to repeat that success.

Gibson has already indicated how he wants to smash up the Championship after the costly fall from the Premier League, although first of all he has to make his mind up on who will be in charge.

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Garry Monk and Nigel Pearson are the two main contenders, while Steve Agnew is still in with a chance. There is also understood to be a fourth contender who is under consideration.

Once the head coach has been confirmed, it will be down to Gibson to help make the necessary adjustments to spark a promotion charge at the first attempt.

Robson, who has every sympathy for the predicament the club finds itself in now, recalled what it felt like when he was in charge after relegation in 1996. Gibson stood by him that year and he orchestrated an immediate return to the top-flight.

He said: “In my time as manager we did it in 1997/98 when we made a quick return in just one season following our relegation, and I still remember the fall-out trauma it caused myself, Steve and the supporters - but it can be done.

“Signing Paul Merson was a real statement of intent in that summer and gave the fans a huge psychological boost and sent out a real positive message.

“The fans and town rallied behind us and with those special days inside the Riverside and we were back where Middlesbrough Football Club should be - in the top-flight, at the very first attempt.

“Players like Juninho, Ravanelli, Ince, Boksic, Gazza and Merson will always evoke lots of fond memories for the fans. It was fantastic to be involved in those memorable seven years as manager, and I still have a great passion for the club and the fans - Boro is a result I always look out for every game, - without fail.”

But Robson, who was in charge for seven years after taking over in 1994, is strongly convinced Gibson is exactly the man to deliver a quickfire promotion once more – once the new boss has been decided and installed.

The ex-Manchester United man was back at the Riverside recently for an event hosted by BBC Tees presenter Paul 'Goffy' Gough when he discussed his eventful period on Teesside – and he still holds Boro close to his heart.

“It has all been very painful for Steve and for the fans as we all had high hopes at the start of the season,” said Robson. “I spent some time with Steve during the Manchester United visit to Boro recently and I know how hard it has been for him.

“Steve, he will be fired up and determined to make it a rapid return. Boro will be very strong in the Championship next season and for sure the chairman will be driving it forward to pre-season to make sure the spell away from the Premier League will be very brief.

“It's a difficult time for them as I know how very excited the town was this time last year after the Brighton game at the Riverside which clinched the Premier League return.

“My phone was in constant use that day with my many pals on Teesside enjoying a most memorable day following the lunchtime kick-off.

“I was truly made up for them as I know what the club means to them all around town and I'm devastated that they will not be with us in the Premier League come August.”