Gibson stresses: The future's bright at Boro
Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson took the pain of UEFA Cup final defeat squarely on the chin to herald the beginning of a new era on Teesside.
Wednesday night's 4-0 drubbing by Sevilla in Eindhoven saw manager Steve McClaren's reign draw to a disappointing conclusion in his 250th and final game at the helm.
But as he started his search for a replacement for England's new head coach, Gibson was able to see beyond the wreckage of his club's European dream.
'I expected to win, but we haven't, and that's football,' he said in the immediate aftermath of the game.
'I don't want us to get used to losing. We want to be winners.
'We won one trophy under Steve McClaren and we want to win the next one as soon as possible.'
It was Boro's successful Carling Cup campaign in 2004 which launched their love affair with European football, although last night's defeat means it has come to an end after just two seasons.
They reached the last 16 at the first attempt and were within 90 minutes of going all the way after astonishing fightbacks against Basle and Steaua Bucharest before the Spaniards tore up the script.
McClaren's side were trailing 1-0 when Australian striker Mark Viduka saw a 52nd-minute shot saved by goalkeeper Andres Palop at point-blank range.
German referee Herbert Fandel turned down Boro's desperate penalty appeals for Javi Navarro's 76th-minute challenge on Viduka, but within two minutes, it was all over.
Italian midfielder Enzo Maresca struck after Mark Schwarzer could only parry substitute Fredi Kanoute's shot, and then made it 3-0 with six minutes left to play.
Kanoute completed the agony on 89 minutes to leave Gibson devastated, but adamant that the foundation would be built upon, a message he delivered to the players minutes after the final whistle.
'We wanted to win it, we are disappointed not to have won it, but we can't complain about the result,' he said.
'It wasn't a game we deserved to win. I spoke to the players after the game and I told them I'm very proud of them and the town is proud of them.
'We are very proud of the fans and we are a proud club, and what we have to do is learn from this experience. We have to take it on the chin.
'Steve McClaren has gone now and we have to move on to the future.
'The players are devastated. I have been into the changing room and there wasn't a word spoken.
'Steve spoke to the players and thanked them for the service they gave him.
'Then Steve left and I spoke to the players and said we now move on. Our ambition hasn't diminished. This has been a big learning process for us. The club will progress and move forward.'
Once the dust settles, Gibson and chief executive Keith Lamb face a series of challenges.
The main one will be to identify and appoint McClaren's successor - they have spoken to Martin O'Neill, while the most recent speculation has thrown Terry Venables' name into the mix alongside that of Hibernian's former Boro defender Tony Mowbray.
In addition, there are several contractual issues to be resolved - midfielder George Boateng is yet to put pen to paper despite talks spanning almost a year, while Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink seems certain to leave and Mark Viduka and skipper Gareth Southgate are entering the final year of their existing deals.
However, Gibson's hopes will be pinned on the continuing excellence of the club's Academy, which was launched under Bryan Robson but blossomed during McClaren's time on Teesside.
All 16 of the men who represented the club at Fulham last Sunday were English, and 15 of them were born within 30 miles of the club's training headquarters.
'We are very proud of the Academy and the players that have come through,' said Gibson. 'We saw a big glimpse of the future at Fulham.'