Robson criticises 'unfair' treatment of chairman

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The Independent Online

The Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, has admitted that he will consider his position at the end of the season if he does not manage to turn things around at the Riverside stadium.

The Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, has admitted that he will consider his position at the end of the season if he does not manage to turn things around at the Riverside stadium.

The former England captain has been disappointed with Boro's stuttering start to the new campaign and, while he knows he and his players must accept the supporters' frustration, he has jumped to the defence of his chairman, Steve Gibson.

"I know the chairman has been getting nasty letters about the way he's running the club and I think that's really unfair," he said. "The work that the chairman has done for this club is unbelievable. I think fans should remember where they were when the chairman took over.

"What I've said is that, with the support and the backing that I get from the chairman and all the staff at this club, we need to be achieving things, and that's why I came to Middlesbrough. That's why I did say if things haven't improved and we don't have a good season, then I might have to look at the situation and see if the chairman might be better off looking elsewhere to improve the club."

Robson made a similar admission during a mid-season slump last year before Boro went on to finish in a comfortable mid-table position, but while he knows that he is under pressure, he has no intention of walking away from the challenge.

The Teessiders, however, were yesterday plunged further into crisis when it was revealed that their inspirational captain Paul Ince has had to undergo surgery on an infected knee.

The 33-year-old England international will definitely miss the important trip to Ipswich on Saturday, after a wound which had been stitched several weeks ago became infected over the weekend.

Coming just a day after it was confirmed that Boro's record signing Ugo Ehiogu will be out for at least three weeks with a slight calf muscle tear sustained just five minutes into his debut at Charlton, the news heaps yet more pressure on Robson.

"Paul had four stitches after the Southampton game three weeks ago," Robson said. "On Saturday, he just opened the wound slightly and we didn't really think anything of it.

"Unfortunately, he got an infection in there over the weekend. When he reported yesterday, it was badly swollen and we knew that it was quite a serious infection. He ended up having an operation and having the knee cleaned out."

Ince joins Ehiogu, the midfielders Keith O'Neill, Robbie Mustoe and Phil Stamp, and the Croatian striker Alen Boksic on the injured list.

Coventry are confident of winning their appeal to the Football Association over the sending-off of their rookie goalkeeper Chris Kirkland during Saturday's six-goal defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Kirkland, making only his second Premiership start, was dismissed by the referee, Stephen Lodge, for bringing down Chelsea's striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. But video replays indicated the 19-year-old goalkeeper had played the ball first.

Coventry's manager, Gordon Strachan, is hoping Lancaster Gate will rescind the red card after watching re-runs of the first-half incident. Hasselbaink scored from the resulting penalty and Chelsea went on to win 6-1 as the City on-loan goalkeeper Alan Miller had a debut to forget.

Strachan said: "Chris got to the ball first. You could tell by the direction the ball travelled after he had pushed it away. Hasselbaink has been reported as saying Chris got to the ball first, everyone I have spoken to has said the same, so we are confident of winning the appeal."

Meanwhile, the Coventry captain, Paul Williams, is backing his side to move away from relegation trouble despite the daunting programme facing them in the next few weeks. After Saturday's trip to Sunderland, Coventry then have to entertain the Premiership leaders Manchester United and visit in-form Liverpool.

Williams said: "We must dig deep but we tend to do well against the big boys. We have taken points off the best in the past and it is important we do so in the next few weeks."

The Norwich striker Gaetano Giallanza is set to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. The Swiss-born Italian damaged cruciate ligaments when he fell awkwardly during last Saturday's 4-2 win over Sheffield United at Carrow Road and is unlikely to play again this term.

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