Middlesbrough weigh up their options

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MIDDLESBROUGH are expected to make a quick appointment in replacing the sacked Tony Mowbray.

Boro owner Steve Gibson removed the former centre-half from the hot-seat last night with the side 16th in the Championship.

Assistant boss Mark Venus has taken over from the 49-year-old, who has been at the helm since 2010, until a permanent successor is appointed.

Mowbray, the former West Brom and Celtic boss, has been unable to guide Boro out of the Championship in his three seasons in charge.

He finished 12th, seventh and then 16th last season, while things are panning out little better during the current campaign.

Boro have won just two of their opening 12 league games, and were also knocked out of the Capital One Cup by League Two strugglers Accrington.

They went down 3-2 at struggling Barnsley on Saturday and host Doncaster on Friday night.

Nigel Clough is a contender for the hot-seat, and would seem a good fit if he were to go to the club where his dad Brian made his name.

His recent dismissal at Derby County was something of a surprise, given that he was in a difficult position of having to cut the wage bill and after two solid, if not spectacular, seasons around the midway-point of the league.

The bookies favourite, though, is Tony Pulis – the former Stoke boss who used a long-ball style to help establish the Potters in the top flight.

But Pulis did have money to spend in his years with Stoke, and whoever takes over at Boro will have very little to spend.

Former Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill is another linked with the role, but it is unlikely he will want to manage in the second tier.

Younger managers in the running include Karl Robinson, whose MK Dons side have an attractive style, and Bradford’s Phil Parkinson, who has guided his team to the top end of League One after gaining promotion in a season that also saw their historic run to the Capital One cup final.

Gibson, though, might consider more of a gamble, in an attempt to get fans excited again.

Former Brazilian star Juninho could be an option, while another ex-Boro hero Fabrizio Ravanelli is currently in charge at French League 2 side Ajaccio.

Other options might be Neil Warnock, if he can be tempted back from retirement, or former England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce.

For Mowbray, though, his time with Boro is done – though he will retain his legend status, from his playing days.

The powerful centre-half first pulled on the captain’s armband in 1986 at just 22 years old and helped to lead the club back from liquidation.

As a manager though, he was unable to achieve the holy grail of promotion to the Premier League, and the slump this year clearly led Gibson to the decison that a change was needed.