Neil Warnock’s defiant message to Middlesbrough fans ahead of Stoke City game

Middlesbrough’s new manager Neil Warnock is relishing the challenge of keeping them in the Championship – starting with Saturday’s game at Stoke City.

Boro turned to the 71 year old after sacking Jonathan Woodgate following last weekend’s 3-0 home defeat to Swansea.

That left the club outside the relegation zone only on goal difference with eight games to play, so hoping Warnock can use his experience to guide them to safety.

The manager has the record for the most promotions in the Football League, with eight, and hasn’t been relegated from the Championship since 1999.

Speaking at his first press conference as manager, he said: “We’re down there for a reason, you can’t pull any punches.

“Big clubs have gone down before, so it’s a really precarious position. We’ve got eight games, some cracking games.

“We’ve had the first session today and I’m really pleased with how that’s gone.”

Time is limited for him to turn things round, but he said: “It’s difficult but other clubs have difficulty as well.

“Six or seven clubs are in trouble. There are a lot of points to play for and it’s surprising. You think this game and that game is the be all and end all.

“The run-in is really difficult for everyone, every team has something to play for.”

Asked about how valuable his experience will be, he said: “I’ll tell you after the last game of the season!

“The last two games are quite tasty: Cardiff home and Sheffield Wednesday away. It’s a good job the fans aren’t in.

“It’s really exciting. Everybody can beat everybody in the Championship.

“Let’s worry about Stoke first.”

He revealed he’d had offers since leaving Cardiff in November but the Middlesbrough job particularly appealed because of owner Steve Gibson.

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Asked what had tempted him back, he said: “Really it was Steve, the chairman, who rang me if I could help out.

“I’ve always got on really well and liked him. He’s one of the best owners, and the club. And I’ve always enjoyed playing against them.

“I don’t think I’ve lost against them yet.

“I’d more or less retired in my own mind but I thought what an opportunity.”

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