STEVE GIBSON claims Middlesbrough will be looking to “smash the league” when they return to the Championship next season, but has refused to confirm whether Steve Agnew will be retained in his current position as head coach.

Boro’s relegation was confirmed when they lost at Chelsea on Monday, and their miserable season continued this afternoon when they crashed to a 2-1 defeat at home to Southampton.

Having been promoted 12 months ago, they will return to the Championship after just a solitary season in the top-flight, but Gibson is optimistic about their prospects next term.

The chairman insists the club are in a financially healthy position, and has pledged to spend a significant sum in order to ensure they are capable of mounting a strong promotion challenge.

“There’s only one place I want this club, and that’s in the Premier League,” said the Middlesbrough chairman, in an interview with BBC Tees. “We’re going to work our socks off to get back up there.

“We’ve got a great opportunity in terms of resource. The club is well run and we are in a good stable financial position. We should have more resource going into next season than any other club.

“There can be no other objective – we want to smash the league next year. We want to go up next year as champions.

“You need to bring in a certain type of player if you’re going to do what I’ve just said we’re going to do. We have a core of players here who we feel are more than capable, but we need to add to them. There needs to be more flair in the team, and more pace in the team, and that’s what we’ll try to do.”

Whether Agnew is overseeing that overhaul remains to be seen, with Gibson refusing to be drawn on the head coach’s position until Boro have completed their final game of the season at Liverpool next weekend.

Agnew is keen to remain in charge in the Championship, but has claimed just six points from ten matches since succeeding Aitor Karanka.

“I’ve got thoughts (on the manager situation), but I’ll keep them to myself,” said Gibson. “When we’re ready to announce that, we will.

“We’ve got some great people here at Middlesbrough Football Club, and I has been painful since Christmas for all of us, but we’ve got to be tenacious and take it on the chin, and we have to move on. We have to get fired up now and start what we want to do for next season.”

Karanka’s exit was clearly a key point in the season, and Gibson admits the Spaniard’s departure proved a disruption at a pivotal moment of the campaign. However, he also accepts his share of the blame for Boro’s relegation.

“Many things have gone wrong,” he said. “Our recruitment policy wasn’t what we would wish it to be, and we had some disruption on the management side during the season and it’s affected the players on the pitch.

“You can talk about last season forever – what we have to do now is examine what we are going to do moving forward. That is what our fantastic fans will want to hear.

“The decision (on Karanka) made itself over the passage of time. It’s very easy looking back on a relegation and the tough season we’ve had to look for scapegoats, and I don’t want to do that.

“There is a collective responsibility as a club, from me as the chairman right the way through the club. We’ve failed and we know that. It hurts, and we have to correct that. We have to correct the hurt.

“Our plans have to be to change all aspects of the club. We’ve spent the last month looking at what we’ve done, how we’ve done it, and how it can be better.

“I’ve got to be careful in what I say because it affects others who are currently within the club and it affects others who are currently not at the club. I think the fans will want me to deliver rather than talking about potentially delivering. We have to get it absolutely right.”