TONY PULIS has mounted a staunch defence of his record as Middlesbrough manager, and insisted the current campaign has been a success whether his side make it into the play-offs or not.

Boro head to Rotherham United for their final fixture on Sunday knowing they still have a chance of clambering into the top six. Pulis’ side are a point behind Derby County, who finish with a home game against West Brom, and a point clear of Bristol City, who travel to Hull City.

At the start of the season, the Teessiders were second-favourites to win the Championship title, but while they flirted with the top two in the early part of the campaign, they have not really featured in the race for automatic promotion since Christmas.

A run of six successive defeats jeopardised their hopes of making the play-offs, so while Sunday offers an opportunity to keep promotion ambitions alive, some supporters will regard the season as a failure even if Boro finish in the top six.

Pulis feels that would be unfair, and claims Boro’s performances on the pitch this season have to be assessed in parallel with an acknowledgement of what has been happening off the field. Since replacing Garry Monk almost 18 months ago, Pulis has overseen a major cost-cutting exercise that has seen a number of high-profile players depart.

When asked whether the current campaign had been a success or not, Pulis said: “It all depends on which way you look at it. If you look at it from a financial point of view, then we’re £40m in profit from sales since I came to the football club, and we’ve cut the wage bill by a quarter or a third.

“The playing staff have been reduced by about nine, and that’s got us into a position where we’re in line with all the Financial Fair Play regulations. We’ve done all of that, and still have a chance of getting into the play-offs.

“If you look at the other side, Derby have spent a fortune and Aston Villa have spent a fortune. Lots of other teams in the division have spent loads of money.

“We played Nottingham Forest the other week – we’d sold players for over £50m, Nottingham Forest had bought players in that squad that played us for over £56m. So there was a £100m deficit in what the two clubs had done this season. But nobody talks about that. That’s fact.”

Pulis intends to talk with Steve Gibson once Boro’s fate is sealed, and insists he is still to decide on his future.

His current contract is due to expire in the summer, although an automatic one-year extension clause could be triggered if all parties agree.

Pulis said: “I haven’t made my mind up until I speak to Steve. If people want to take that a certain way, that’s up to them. I’ll be talking to Steve. I have tremendous respect for the chairman, as a chairman and a as a person. So I won’t be discussing it with anyone else – not even my wife at the moment.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Steve. I find him a really honest and genuine person. The money that he’s put into this football club in his time here is just extraordinary. And into the area.

“He’s a local lad who’s made good, and he wants to invest and reinvest in this area and this football club. The supporters should realise how fortunate and lucky they are to have someone like Steve.

“My respect has always been for the person who has been doing all this, and that’s Steve Gibson. I’ll speak to Steve before I make any decision.”