Gibson urges Venus to stake a claim for the Middlesbrough manager's job (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Gibson urges Venus to stake a claim for the Middlesbrough manager's job
STEVE Gibson has challenged Mark Venus to make the Middlesbrough manager’s job his own and revealed that the current caretaker is a leading contender for a permanent position.
Venus will take charge of Boro for the first time when Doncaster Rovers visit the Riverside this evening, having been temporarily promoted from his role as assistant following Tony Mowbray’s departure on Monday.
The boyhood Boro fan admits he would like to move into frontline management, and this evening’s much-changed starting line-up is expected to highlight his willingness to step out of Mowbray’s shadow in order to develop his own playing style and team.
Gibson has been approached by a number of interested managers in recent days, but while the likes of Mike Phelan, Alex McLeish and Stuart Pearce remain viable contenders, Venus will be afforded an opportunity to stake a claim for the post.
“We believe that the squad we have is better than the results we have obtained, and we’re going to give Mark Venus a chance to turn this squad into something approaching what it should be in terms of results,” said Gibson, who is understood to be lukewarm about the respective merits of the out-of-work Tony Pulis and Ian Holloway.
“While that’s going on, we will search for a new manager, with the hope that Mark can put his case forward to us with the results he gets and the type of football he plays. We want him to put that into our thinking.
“Everybody who has put their name forward is a serious contender. We will decide how serious and what weight we put on it, but if Mark has the responsibility of the team, then he has to have the authority that goes with it.
“I’ve given that authority to Mark. Until he’s not manager, he’s manager with all the authority and power that entails, and that we would place on any other manager.”
Tonight’s game will clearly have a major impact on Venus’ long-term prospects, with Boro taking on a Doncaster side who have claimed just one away win all season and who shipped four goals at Reading last weekend.
Lose, and it is unlikely the 46-year-old will still be in temporary charge when Boro travel to Blackburn a week tomorrow.
Win, however, and there will be some momentum behind his candidature, with Gibson, who appointed from within when he gave Gareth Southgate his first managerial position, keen to take his time over what he admits is a crucial decision.
“We ask a lot of our managers,” said the Boro chairman. “We ask them to live up to our dreams and expectancy, both as a club and as fans. We want more than we can get sometimes, but my philosophy with football managers is to make the environment as productive as it possibly can be.
“We have a history of giving managers time here, and we have a history of giving them resources, whether that’s finance or everything else that’s needed to run a successful football club.
“It is attractive. A lot of people I have on my list are confidential because they have to be, but everybody who’s applied will be treated with the utmost respect and we’ll work our way through that list.”
“We’re not looking for an appointment in a day or a week – we’re looking for an appointment to be made when we are sure we have the right guy. This is a hugely attractive job.”
Venus, who has completed all of his coaching qualifications, worked alongside Mowbray at Hibernian, West Brom and Celtic before teaming up with his former colleague again on Teesside.
Born in Hartlepool and raised in Seaton Carew, he went to Ayresome Park as a youngster to watch a Boro side containing the likes of Graeme Souness, John Hickton and David Armstrong.
As a player, he primarily made his mark with Wolves and Ipswich, and while his coaching career has been closely linked to Mowbray’s managerial journey, he is generally regarded as a more pragmatic and confrontational figure than the person he worked alongside.
He avoided direct questions about his desire to take over permanently at Middlesbrough yesterday, no doubt out of respect to his close friend, Mowbray, but was willing to concede he harbours managerial ambitions at some stage in the future.
“I think everyone who goes into coaching and becomes an assistant manager probably wants to be a manager somewhere down the line,” said Venus. “This is an experience for me, how long it lasts, I don’t know. I’m going to have a look at this experience and get a feel for it.
“I was asked to look after the team. I’d like to think I’m a true professional in everything I do, so here I am. I supported this football club as a young boy and used to go and watch the games. My dad’s a Middlesbrough fan. I am proud to take charge of this football team and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”
It was Venus’ suggestion to sign Daniel Ayala on loan from Norwich on Wednesday, and the centre-half will go straight into the squad for tonight’s game.
“We tried to get him in January,” said Venus. “I asked the chairman if he could help me, and he has, which I’m entirely grateful for. I think the club needs some help in defence, and hopefully he’s going to come in and give us a hand.”