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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 15, 2006

Boateng: Players want Southgate

Middlesbrough skipper George Boateng has urged the Premier League not to throw the club into turmoil by refusing Gareth Southgate permission to remain as manager.

The Teessiders are seeking special dispensation from league bosses for the 36-year-old to remain in charge for the rest of the season until he can enrol on the required UEFA Pro Licence course next summer.

Boro are hopeful the Premier League Board will approve their application at its meeting on Monday, and Boateng is backing the cause.

He said: 'We are very happy. Speaking for the team, what we do not want at this time is to have a change of heart with the manager.

'That would be a dramatic change for us and it would cause too many problems.

'It (the situation) does not affect us, the players are not bothered by it. We do not even talk about it because for us, it is not a big issue.

'We are happy with the manager and so is the chairman. That is all that matters to us.'

Southgate was thrown in at the deep end during the summer when he was asked to replace Steve McClaren.

The transition from club captain to manager has had its difficulties - Boro have beaten high-flying Chelsea and Everton, but have lost to promoted trio Reading, Sheffield United and Watford - but Boateng insists his former team-mate is the right man for the job.

He said: 'In the beginning, it was very, very difficult because the respect you have for him as skipper has changed.

'But now, the team, the club, everybody is fine with it. Everybody has moved on, everybody has accepted him.

'It is just people outside criticising him over whether he is qualified enough to do the job.

'He is the same manager who got us the victories against the big sides as when we lost the games against Watford and Manchester City.'

The debate over whether young managers should learn their craft in the lower leagues before earning the chance to take charge at a Barclays Premiership club is one which is ongoing.

However, Boateng admits Southgate has handled the pressure with few problems.

The Dutch international said: 'He has found it quite easy. The only thing that has been very difficult for him is the results.

'We as a team are enjoying him being the manager because there is this trust among us.

'Some managers get upset and make personal choices, but because he has been here before, he knows everybody.

'The young players were very happy he had become the manager and still are because they are going to get games.

'If you analyse the last game against West Ham, we had Lee Cattermole, Jonathan Woodgate, Andrew Taylor, Andrew Davies, Stewart Downing and James Morrison, and they are all from the area.

'I do not think those players would have played if Gareth was not the manager because the new manager would have wanted to bring his own players in.

'The pressure is actually coming from outside. Inside the building, inside the team, we are all very well aware we had a very, very bad week where we played two games (against Manchester City and Watford) and one game affected us to the next game.

'Besides that, there has not really been a lot of pressure on the manager or on the team.'

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