GARETH Southgate has admitted Sven-Goran Eriksson's low-key management style is a big hit with most of his players despite famously labelling the Swede as more "Iain Duncan Smith than Winston Churchill".

Southgate's Middlesbrough face Manchester City at Eastlands tomorrow with Eriksson's Premier League surprise packages boasting a 100 per cent home record.

The Boro boss famously remarked about the Swede's performance at half-time in the World Cup quarter-final defeat against Brazil in Japan in 2002: "We were expecting Winston Churchill and instead we got Iain Duncan Smith."

Former Conservative party leader Duncan Smith's attempts to play on his "quiet man" moniker failed miserably and he was dumped in 2003 after leading the opposition for just two years.

It appeared Eriksson's qualities may have also ended up in the wilderness after a year out of the game following England's World Cup quarter-final exit in 2006 before new City owner Thaksin Shinawatra earmarked him as the man to turn the club around.

His renaissance has astounded many, with City currently lying third in the table and boasting a derby win this season against United.

And Southgate has labelled his time with the former England boss as a learning process.

"He was quite quiet but players in the team responded to the way he brought a different approach to it," said Southgate, who is sweating on the fitness of three of his strikers ahead of the game.

"He had a very calm manner and players felt that took some of the pressure off them when they were playing.

"For me it was the first foreign coach I worked under so it was a completely different approach but lads in the squad at Arsenal and Liverpool said it was similar to what they were experiencing at their clubs.

"It was different in the way he delivered his team talks or didn't speak immediately at half-time. It was an interesting learning process.

"With England he tried to keep it as simple as possible because he only had the squad for three or four days but at Manchester City he has more time to implement his ideas."

Those ideas have brought an immediate turnaround in City's fortunes and Boro go into the game as massive underdogs.

A record of just one point from the last nine has pushed Southgate's side toward the bottom-three but the Boro boss is refusing to lose focus of his long-term aim so early in the season.

"We don't panic here," said Southgate. "There are circumstances beyond our control but it is about dealing with those things and keeping an eye on the bigger picture and not being bogged down.

"I am determined about where I want us to go and how we will get there but I don't get overly down about it.

"We are ahead of our (points) tally for last season, we have more points away from home than this time last season and we have to make sure we stay ahead of our targets.

"I am more relaxed because I have been through a season of it and dealt with these problems before. I know the problems we have, some have more immediate solutions than others and some we can deal with, others we can't because the personnel are not available."

Middlesbrough's injury list is, if anything, potentially worse than last weekend, with decisions on the fitness of Mido (hamstring), Tuncay Sanli (fibula) and Dong-Gook Lee (back) to be made today, with Tom Craddock in line for his first Premier League start.

Mido managed just an hour at Goodison Park and Southgate has admitted he may have to be more ruthless with his Egyptian striker.

"I think he (Mido) felt last weekend that, because of the injuries we had, he didn't want to let the team down and declare himself unfit," said Southgate, who will also have to decide whether to release the former Tottenham man for Egypt's game against Botswana next week.

"Sometimes I might have to take that decision out of his hands because his enthusiasm to get out there can put him in a situation that doesn't help him.

"He missed a lot of pre-season and I've got to be careful with him. He had a fantastic impact when he arrived but we knew he was short of fitness when he first came and at some point we have to make that up.

"We need to get a lot of training into him and I don't want to go from game to game just trying to get him fit from injuries."

Tickets for Boro's league match against Chelsea at the Riverside on Saturday, October 20, are on sale priced £24-£32 adults, £15-£22 concessions.