Boro 'too young' admits Gibson

Chairman claims a lack of experience cost Teessiders in their battle to beat drop

The Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has admitted the team lacked experience as they fought in vain for their Premier League life.

Manager Gareth Southgate was charged with the task of reducing the age profile of the squad and the wage bill when he succeeded Steve McClaren in the summer of 2006.

Southgate, who swapped the captain's armband for the manager's hotseat, has since moved on the likes of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Ugo Ehiogu, Ray Parlour, Abel Xavier and Gaizka Mendieta, while Mark Schwarzer, Mark Viduka and George Boateng have chosen to leave.

With transfer funds limited last summer, the Teessiders opted to rely heavily on their Academy graduates, and Gibson believes with hindsight, that may have been an error.

He said: "We were probably too young this year and we lacked experience. One of the first things Bryan Robson did when he joined us was bring in a leader in Nigel Pearson, and one of the first things Steve McClaren did when he joined the club was bring in Gareth Southgate.

"When we lost Nigel Pearson under Bryan Robson and we were relegated, we brought in Andy Townsend. We have perhaps missed that experience and the vacuum we perhaps had with older players leaving – and in making him manager, we lost Gareth from the changing room – we haven't replaced that.

"That's one of the things we have talked about and we think we need a solution to that. We need to bring in more experienced players. The age that we have gone this year, we will not do that again."

Southgate acknowledged the lack of experience with his squad all season, but was convinced that in players such as Stewart Downing, David Wheater and Matthew Bates, he had potential future leaders among the ranks. However, injuries to older heads Emanuel Pogatetz and Julio Arca robbed him of some of his key squad members at vital points in the campaign. Southgate and Gibson are currently assessing what needs to change at the club in preparation for life in the Championship, and there is certain to be an overhaul of the playing staff.

But no matter which players take the field on the first day of the new season on 8 August, Gibson is confident they will be up for a very different fight. He said: "We have learnt our lessons and we do need to toughen up, we need to be tougher. Gareth recognises that – and there weren't many tougher players than Gareth Southgate playing at centre-back for 57 England caps."

Gibson's comments came as he answered fans' questions on a BBC Tees phone-in, and he was doing his best to look forward rather than back. He said: "We can talk about the past forever, but what we have got to do is focus on the future. We have had some great times at Middlesbrough Football Club, and I don't want anyone to believe those times are in the past.

"We are going to seek to bring those good times back, we are going to seek to be successful. We have taken a knock, but it is not terminal. We will be back in the Premier League as soon as it is possible to do so, and we have plans for this football club."

Gibson defended the club's decision to smash its transfer record to land striker Afonso Alves. Boro paid Heerenveen £12.7m for the Brazilian in January last year, and after seeing him score six goals in six Premier League appearances as the 2007-08 season drew to a close, had high hopes for the new campaign. However, Alves managed only four league goals as Boro struck just 28 times during the season and dropped out of the top flight.

Gibson said: "He would be the first to admit that the season hasn't gone the way he would have hoped. It hasn't been through lack of effort, it hasn't been through lack of commitment to the club, it's just not happened for him.

"Every supporter I speak to sees something in Alves, that there is a talent in there, and it is whether we can get it out. We felt he could do it in the Premier League. He showed signs of that with his goals in the latter part of last season.

"It hasn't worked out for him. He has got himself into some great goalscoring opportunities, but he has only scored four goals. Now, I don't want to talk about individual players, but for any striker in the Premier League, four goals is not enough. Before that, he has scored 45 goals in 39 games for Heerenveen, and he got six in six for us last season.

"When we signed Alves, we had worked very hard on him. We had watched him play, but there is always a gamble in asking players to move here from the continent. If you look at every club in the Premier League, they will have a story to tell on players who haven't worked out."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits