DEPARTING Barry Robson failed to sign off in style but the outgoing Middlesbrough midfielder is confident Tony Mowbray can deliver the good times to Teesside – provided the backing arrives from above.
Robson’s two-and-a-half year stint in the North-East ended in disappointment when Cardiff City held on to the fourth and final play-off spot in the Championship on Saturday.
Boro’s 2-1 defeat at Watford ensured Cardiff City, who extended their gap to seventh to five points by overcoming Crystal Palace, have a twolegged semi-final with West Ham United to look forward to.
Middlesbrough now plan for a fourth successive season in the Championship, as Mowbray faces a summer of change with ten of his players out of contract.
Arguably the biggest loss will be Robson. The Scotland international agreed to join Major League Soccer outfit Vancouver Whitecaps.
But the 33-year-old, never afraid to speak his mind, feels chairman Steve Gibson has the man in charge capable of bringing Premier League football back to the Riverside.
“The manager will still be here and that’s important,”
said Robson. “He will want to try to bring in his own players, that’s for sure.
“He has been trying to bring some fresh faces in, some fresh bodies and I hope somebody backs him because he has done a good job this season.
“He has been good for this club. He knows a good player when he sees one so I’m sure they will kick on next season if he is allowed to bring more of his own men in.”
Mowbray will hold a number of meetings with players today before his squad have an extended break ahead of a pre-season training return in early July.
A failure to secure a topflight place means further cost cutting plans and those set to become free agents this summer are the most vulnerable.
Mowbray has already significantly reduced the club’s wage bill during his 18 months in charge and it remains to be seen what shape the squad will be in come August.
Robson, though, is just frustrated they failed to deliver their primary target this time around – and he highlighted a lack of goals as the main reason.
“We had the squad there to go up this season, definitely,” he said. “I have not seen anything out there in this division that has been miles better than us.
“Injuries and suspensions have taken their toll this season. That’s the frustrating part. But I don’t think I have ever been in a team that has missed so many bloody chances!
“The first half of the season we were pushing on to try to go up automatically, but in the end we just fell short, it wasn’t to be.”
Robson, who scored 19 goals in 90 appearances for the club after Gordon Strachan made him his first permanent signing in January 2010, is looking to a new challenge.
After a short holiday in a few weeks’ time, he will begin a course for his A licence coaching badge before heading to Canada to join the Whitecaps half way through their MLS campaign.
The former Celtic man said: “I obviously came down to play in the Premier League and it’s never quite happened.
“The fans have been fantastic, the manager, the coaching staff, everyone at the club have been great with me. But it’s time to move on.
“I wanted to leave the fans with promotion, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to leave knowing the club was moving forward. It’s just a shame we couldn’t do it this year.”