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Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League
By ESPN Staff

Uncertainty for licence-less Boro boss Southgate

Middlesbrough will continue discussions with the Premier League and the FA this week over Gareth Southgate's position as manager.

The 12-week period during which the 36-year-old is allowed to be in charge of team affairs without the UEFA Pro-Licence expires on Saturday, when the Teessiders attempt to bounce back from successive defeats by Manchester City and Watford against resurgent West Ham.

Further talks are expected to take place on Thursday when Boro chairman Steve Gibson joins his counterparts at their regular meeting.

The Premier League chairman are understood to be considering a rule change which would help top players move into management more quickly.

Southgate has been unable to enrol on the A Licence course, let alone complete his Pro-Licence, because there are so few opportunities to do so.

It is understood the chairmen will discuss a proposal to allow a manager to take charge as long as he is in the process of gaining the licence, something they gave Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder special dispensation to do in May.

That, however, is a separate issue to the one facing Middlesbrough, although they privately remain adamant Southgate is their manager come what may.

Gibson, who handed his former club captain a five-year contract when he appointed him as Steve McClaren's successor during the summer, will hope for a breakthrough this week.

A Premier League spokesman confirmed: 'We are in ongoing discussions about Gareth Southgate with Middlesbrough Football Club and the FA.'

In the meantime, Southgate will concentrate of the task of raising his players for a vital Premiership clash with the Hammers after the most difficult week of his short reign to date.

The 1-0 defeat at City on Monday came courtesy of a below par performance which left Southgate asking serious questions of his players.

But while there was a slight improvement at Watford on Saturday, the former England international admitted after a 2-0 defeat at Vicarage Road that his side got exactly what they deserved.

That defeat left Boro sitting in 16th place in the table and Southgate in philosophical, if undaunted, mood.

He said: 'You cannot look at any fixture in this league and say it is a guaranteed three points. It is that tight.

'Lots of teams will have come into matches with us thinking they would get points and we have beaten them.

'We have got to make sure our commitment and our attitude are spot on first and foremost, and then we have to make sure the quality we have comes to the fore.

'There is very little to choose between 12, 14 teams in this division, so it is a case of putting a string of results together.

'It is a very, very tight division and I have said all along this season there will be highs and lows along the way and a bit of pain.'

England winger Stewart Downing, like his team-mates, knows only too well Saturday's performance was simply not good enough, and has warned the consequences of repeating it could be dire.

He said: 'We were not at the races. It was not good enough, especially when you look at the players we have got on the field.

'We are working hard on the training pitch, but it is no good if we do not put it into practice on a Saturday.

'We look to be in a little bit of trouble and we need to get out of it.'