Middlesbrough must reflect on relegation, says Steve Agnew

Stewart Downing shows his dejection last night.
Stewart Downing shows his dejection last night.
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Manager Steve Agnew was tight-lipped about his future after a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge saw Middlesbrough relegated to the Championship.

Agnew took over when Aitor Karanka was dismissed in March and while he brought Boro a first Premier League win in 2017 against soon-to-be-relegated Sunderland, that has been his only triumph in nine games.

Attention will now turn to bouncing straight back up like North East neighbours Newcastle but Agnew would not be drawn on whether he is the man for the job.

“I think the most important thing in a moment like this is the football club and it’s a terrific football club, that’s what it’s about,” he said.

“It’s not about my situation, it’s about how we reflect over the summer.

“Finish the season strong, firstly, and then reflect and make sure that Middlesbrough Football Club can bounce back to the Premier League very, very quickly.”

He added: “We’ve had 36 games and we have two to go and it’s been a really tough season. That’s a disappointment, it wasn’t just this evening, it’s been ongoing for as long as the season has been with us.

“We haven’t scored enough goals and ultimately you have to score goals to win football matches.

“We were reasonably well organised, but at the same time we didn’t get a foothold in the game for long enough.

“Chelsea have top players and are a top team, very much on the front foot to push us back.

“At half-time, conceding two goals the way we did was disappointing. From a defensive point of view we gave ourselves a mountain to climb.”

The Blues now know that one more victory will bring the title back to Stamford Bridge - possibly as early as Friday night when they travel to West Brom.

Diego Costa put a dominant Chelsea 1-0 up from close-range in the 23rd minute before Marcos Alonso found the back of the net via a deflection off Brad Guzan’s legs 12 minutes later.

Cesc Fabregas had been in sensational form all night and when he set up Nemanja Matic for the third with 25 minutes to play, the game was ended as a contest.

Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz (Terry 84), Cahill, Moses, Fabregas, Matic, Alonso, Pedro (Chalobah 81), Hazard (Willian 72), Costa. Subs Not Used: Begovic, Zouma, Ake, Loftus-Cheek. Goals: Costa 23, Alonso 34, Matic 65.

Middlesbrough: Guzan, Da Silva, Chambers, Gibson, Friend, de Roon, Clayton, Forshaw (Leadbitter 56), Traore (Bamford 57), Negredo (Gestede 83), Downing. Subs Not Used: Konstantopoulos, Bernardo, Barragan, Guedioura. Booked: Da Silva, Bamford.

Att: 41,500 Ref: Craig Pawson.