NEIL WARNOCK is confident he will embellish his reputation as a footballing firefighter by guiding Middlesbrough to safety in the final eight games of the season.

Warnock’s appointment as Middlesbrough manager was confirmed on a dramatic day on Teesside that also saw him take charge of his first training session a matter of hours after Jonathan Woodgate’s departure was announced.

Woodgate was informed of his dismissal shortly after arriving at Boro’s Rockliffe Park training ground yesterday morning, with chairman Steve Gibson having decided to take decisive action in the wake of Saturday’s disastrous 3-0 home defeat to Swansea City.

Warnock, whose initial remit only extends to the end of the season, travelled to the North-East to meet Gibson on Monday night, and will take charge of his first game when Boro travel to one of their relegation rivals, Stoke City, on Saturday afternoon.

The 71-year-old is embarking on his 18th managerial job, and has earned a reputation for guiding teams away from trouble in the closing stages of the season.

His most remarkable piece of escapology came in 2016, when he led Rotherham United to safety despite inheriting a seemingly impossible situation with just over two months of the season to go, and while Boro have dropped to within a place of the bottom three, he is confident he can achieve similar success in the next eight games.

“Can I keep Middlesbrough up? I wouldn’t have done it if the answer was no,” said Warnock, during his introductory press conference, which was staged remotely on Zoom. “I should be called the ‘Red Adair’ – I always get jobs (at) clubs in trouble, but I do enjoy that.

“I think you need that bit of something on the edge, that’s what I’ve missed in the last few months. I love training with the players and I’ll be doing my best to get results.”

Warnock has been out of work since leaving Cardiff City last November, and claims to have turned down a number of offers to return to management.

He rejected a previous opportunity to lead Middlesbrough, and admits he might have said no again had it not been Gibson asking him to help out.

“I had offers when I first left Cardiff,” said Warnock, who has been accompanied to Teesside by coaches Kevin Blackwell and Ronnie Jepson. “My chief executive kept telling people I was taking this job and that job.

“I had a great time at Cardiff - one of the best in my life – and if it wasn’t Steve Gibson ringing me up, I’d have thought twice, especially with the six-and-a-half hour journey at my age. But it’s nice to put something back when somebody needs a bit of help. He owns the club and is a very loyal owner – it must have been a difficult decision for him.”

Warnock insists he has not thought about what might happen beyond the next eight matches, but he will almost certainly be offered the chance to lead Middlesbrough into next season if he guides them to safety by the end of the current campaign.

“When you get to my age, you don’t worry about what will happen in a few months, especially at a time like this,” he said. “When I spoke to the players before training, I still got shivers down my back.”

Woodgate left his position after just over a year in his first managerial job, with Saturday’s first-half capitulation having persuaded Gibson he had to act to prevent Boro crashing into League One.

The former skipper won just nine of his 41 matches in charge of the club – a win ratio of just over 20 per cent – and is understood to have been offered a chance to remain on Boro’s books as part of the backroom set-up. His assistant, Robbie Keane, has also left his position, although Leo Percovich and Danny Coyne have been retained to work under Warnock.

“Today was a day that I hoped would never come,” wrote Woodgate on Instagram. “But I’ve been in football long enough to know that these things happen.

“To be given the chance to manage my hometown club - the club that I love - is something that I will never forget and I will always be grateful to Steve Gibson for the opportunity. There is no one more disappointed than me at how things have gone.”