Middlesbrough 2 Portsmouth 0: Southgate vows to toughen up in wake of Boro survival

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Two men, two managers with too much to think about for their lives to be comfortable: Harry Redknapp, 61, and Gareth Southgate, 37, may be at different ends of the managerial spectrum, but as each spoke after a tame game at the Riverside, it was clear that 90 minutes of indifferent action was not the only thing on their minds.

Redknapp sucked in his breath when asked if it had been a difficult week – Pat Lampard, mother of Frank, was Redknapp's wife's sister – not to mention having a distracting FA Cup final on the horizon; while Southgate declined to accept "congratulations" for Middlesbrough's survival. Southgate actually went quite a bit further than that. Using words such as "compromised", essentially he said that the polite, considerate Gareth we have come to know these past two decades is no more.

"I think this is the time to say: 'I am no longer Gareth Southgate the footballer'. That has always been a difficult thing because when you play with people and then your relationship changes because you have to manage them, it is very hard. The end of the season is a good cut-off point to say, 'That is it'."

Like all managers worth their weight, Southgate frets. However, what he has grown to dislike is that because he is open about self-doubt, others – his players in particular – seem to think they too can express doubts about Southgate's doubts.

"Everybody has questioned me because I am a young manager," he added. "If more senior managers make decisions regarding leaving players out, substitutions, they are just accepted. I have an open door policy, I might have to review that." Southgate's mood was not boosted by pre-match statements from George Boateng and Gary O'Neil that they are on their way out. As they are likely to be followed by several others, a summer of reconstruction awaits. Chris Riggott's future is also uncertain. He was recalled from loan at Stoke last Thursday and scored the opener.

Southgate then admitted, perhaps too publicly again, that he did not deal with Riggott appropriately during the season.

Riggott's goal shortly before the interval was followed by one from Tuncay Sanli shortly after it. Both were headers from corners but Redknapp said that was "an aberration, not a pattern." But Cardiff will have taken note.

Goals: Riggott (40) 1-0; Tuncay (53) 2-0.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Young, Riggott, Wheater, Pogatetz; Boateng (Cattermole, 88), Rochemback, Arca, Downing; Tuncay, Alves (Aliadière, 61). Substitutes not used: Turnbull (gk), A Johnson, Taylor.

Portsmouth (4-4-2) Ashdown; G Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson; Mvuemba, Diarra, Diop (Davis, 67), Kranjcar; Baros (Nugent, 67), Defoe. Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Lauren, Hughes

Referee: P. Walton (Northamptonshire).

Booked: Middlesbrough Arca; Portsmouth Diarra.

Man of the match: Downing

Attendance: 24,828.