Steve Agnew will return to former club Hull hoping his inside knowledge will help secure a priceless Premier League victory for struggling Middlesbrough.
Agnew, who left Boro for the KCOM Stadium in 2012 to become Steve Bruce’s assistant, remembers his time on Humberside fondly having helped to steer the club back into the top flight and reach the FA Cup final.
However, he will hope to get one over on his former employers tonight when, in his role as Boro’s interim head coach, he heads back to familiar territory.
The Tigers have collected a hugely impressive 13 of the 15 points they have contested at home since new manager Marco Silva was installed in January, but Agnew is hoping to dent the Portuguese’s record.
He said: “I know a lot of the players who are still there and I had a good relationship with them. I know their strengths, I know their weaknesses and I have a feel for the club because I had good times at Hull.
“They’re on a good run of form, certainly at home. I think they have won four out of the five games for which Marco Silva has been in charge, so it’s going to be a really difficult game.
“But again, with my knowledge - and I’m not going to give too much away - and understanding of Hull, I think that’s an advantage for us.”
What is not an advantage for Boro is their form heading into a game they simply cannot afford to lose and probably need to win if they are to get themselves out of trouble.
They are without a league victory in 12 attempts since December 17 and have added just five points to their tally during that period, leaving them four adrift of 18th-placed Hull with only derby rivals Sunderland worse off.
Agnew said: “I think we need to win the game. It is a big, big game for us and we need three points. But I’m quietly confident and so is the group of players.
“What I can tell you is, not just from myself, but a group of staff and players, we are determined to keep Middlesbrough Football Club in the Premier League and we will be doing everything we possibly can to make sure that happens.”
Agnew was asked to step in after Aitor Karanka parted company with Boro last month, with the Spaniard’s meticulous planning and beliefs about how the game should be played having failed to pay dividends in the pressure cooker atmosphere of the English top flight.
The former assistant knows it is points which now counts above anything else.
He said: “We need to win and find a way to win. We have technical players, we have good wide players, we have big effective strikers, so I think we have got enough variety at the top end of the field to score us a goal.”