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Strachan set to become Middlesbrough boss

Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson was today finalising his move to appoint Gordon Strachan as the club's new manager.

The 52-year-old Scot is expected to be confirmed as Gareth Southgate's replacement within the next 24 hours and could be unveiled at a press conference tomorrow.

Boro confirmed today that coach Colin Cooper, assisted by Steve Agnew and Stephen Pears, will be in charge of the team for Saturday's Coca-Cola Championship trip to Preston, although Strachan could watch the team for the first time from the stands at Deepdale.

Gibson is keen to bring a swift conclusion his search after admitting he had put a strategy in place to find a new manager several weeks ago.

Detailed talks took place yesterday following a series of earlier enquiries and it is understood agreement in principle has already been reached.

Strachan has been out of the game since leaving Celtic at the end of last season following a four-year stint which brought the club six major trophies, including three successive league titles.

Gibson turned to him as he brought Southgate's three-and-a-half-year spell in charge at the Riverside Stadium to an end within hours of Tuesday night's 2-0 league victory over Derby.

It would be the first time the Boro chairman has appointed an experienced manager - he has previously handed Bryan Robson, Steve McClaren and Southgate their first steps on the ladder, although he did draft in Terry Venables to work alongside Robson during the latter stages of his seven-year reign.

Speaking on BBC Tees last night, his message to the club's fans was a positive one.

He said: "Let's try to enjoy this season because I think that with the right appointment, we have a great chance, a great chance, of getting promotion in the top two this season.

"Gareth has left us in a great position - we are one point off top spot - and I thank him for that.

"We have a splendid opportunity. I see it maybe as a four- or five-, maximum, club race and if we are all united and we are all together, we can do this."

Boro currently lie in fourth place in the table, just a point behind leaders West Brom.

Edinburgh-born former Aberdeen, Manchester United and Leeds midfielder Strachan launched his managerial career at Coventry and guided unfashionable Southampton to the 2003 FA Cup final.