Middlesbrough owner Steve Gibson has warned Stoke City and their relegation rivals that his side will “fight every inch of the way” in the race for Championship survival – starting with their encounter with Nottingham Forest this evening.
Boro play host to Sabri Lamouchi’s Reds at the Riverside knowing a win would lift them out of the division’s bottom three.
Michael O’Neill’s Stoke have not been in the bottom three themselves since their defeat by Jonathan Woodgate’s side in December, a loss that was followed by a run of five wins in eight games.
But tonight a win for Middlesbrough, shock entrants in this season’s fight for survival, would see the Potters fall below the dotted line once again, only hiking the anxiety at the Bet635 Stadium ahead of the final ten games.
The mood at the Riverside has been as equally frustrating in recent weeks with the club without a win since New Years’ Day.
Gibson, speaking exclusively to Teesside Live, has refused to promise supporters that they will be able to win their fight against the drop.
“Am I worried? Of course I am. I would be a fool not to be concerned at where we are in the league,” he said.
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“I’m not a worrier by nature but there have been a few times when I have had sleepless nights after games.
“And I know the fans are frustrated and I understand that. I am a fan and I go to games and I know why fans are anxious.
“I share those frustrations and for me it is magnified tenfold because I am the one who will have to shoulder the potential consequences of relegation if the worst happens.
“We don’t want it to happen and we will be fighting tooth and nail to make sure it doesn’t.
“But this is football and there are no guarantees. It can happen. It has happened to some big clubs: Leeds, Wolves, Norwich, Southampton, Leicester have all been in League One in recent years and Sunderland are there now.
He added: “We will be fighting every inch of the way to make sure it doesn’t happen to us.”