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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

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By ESPN Staff

Boro await decision on Woodgate loan switch

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate is expecting an answer from Real Madrid defender Jonathan Woodgate inside the next 24 hours over a loan move to the Riverside Stadium.

The 26-year-old England international was on Teesside today to discuss the proposed deal, but left having asked for time to think over his decision amid speculation former club Newcastle are also interested in him.

Speaking after tonight's 4-0 drubbing home by Portsmouth, Southgate said: 'We have had discussions with him and he wants time to think about what he wants to do.

'Hopefully he has not had the television on while he is thinking about that. But we should know something in the next 24 hours. He wants to be sure of what he wants to. But I am quite hopeful.

'We have done everything we can to try to make it happen, so I hope we have some positive news on it tomorrow.' Boro have found themselves at the centre of a whirl of transfer speculation in recent days with their efforts to sign Chelsea's Robert Huth ongoing at the same time as they are attempting to fend off Tottenham's pursuit of England winger Stewart Downing.

Southgate said: 'Stewart is very happy here. I have had a long chat with him. He does not want to move.

'That, for me, is all I needed to hear and I do not need to respond to anything from the other end.'

Southgate will step up his efforts to find reinforcements tomorrow, and he will do so knowing they cannot arrive quickly enough after seeing his side ripped apart by Portsmouth.

Nigerian striker Kanu fired the visitors into the lead after just seven minutes and - after Benjani Mwaruwari had added a second five minutes after the break - claimed a second on 57 minutes.

Substitute Svetoslav Todorov completed the rout in injury-time to leave the Boro boss wondering where the side which defeated champions Chelsea just five days ago had gone.

He said: 'I have learnt a lot about the team over the course of this week. We were not able to match the highs of Wednesday night.

'I have got to look at myself first and foremost because I pick the team and it's my responsibility.

'Tonight was not acceptable, everybody is aware of that. I do not need to tell the players that because they know it themselves.

'The most disappointing thing is being unable to follow on what was such a high and grind another result out.

'I do not expect us as a club to crumble in the way that we did.

'But sometimes a heavier defeat can teach you more lessons than a narrow one.'