Rudy Gestede backs Steve Agnew to be a success at Middlesbrough

Steve Agnew

Steve Agnew

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Rudy Gestede is backing interim head coach Steve Agnew to steer Middlesbrough to Premier League safety.

Agnew was handed the reins by chairman Steve Gibson on Thursday following Aitor Karanka’s departure, and he presided over an improved performance, but ultimately a 3-1 home defeat, against Manchester United on Sunday.

However, striker Gestede, who scored Boro’s first goal in 510 minutes of league football after coming on as a substitute, believes he deserves the chance to see out the season at the very least.

He said: “I hope he stays until the end of the season now. Why not? He deserves his chance. He knows us, and I think it would be very hard for another manager to come in for the last 10 games. He is the right appointment.

“It has been a tough week for all the players. I will always be very grateful to him (Karanka) because he brought me into the club and gave me the opportunity to play in the Premier League again.

“Now, we are all behind Steve. We know he can bring some fire into the team because he has amazing spirit. He is trying to share that spirit with the team. He was here from the start of the season, so he knows us very well. I think it was natural for us to be under his management.”

With 10 games remaining, Boro find themselves in 19th place and five points adrift of safety.

Perhaps more worryingly, they have not won in the league in 11 attempts dating back to December 17, and that has to change and change fast if they are to avoid the drop.

Gestede said: “We want to stay up, so we have to go for it and win games. That has to be the attitude no matter who we face.

“Manchester United are a good side, but we knew we had to play our way and that will be the same whoever we face in the rest of the season.

“We went with two strikers after I came on and made sure we put the ball in the box whenever we could because that is how you will score goals.

“We have no choice - if we want to stay up, we have to win games. That has to be our approach and we have to play to make sure that we score more goals than the other team. That has to be the only objective.”

l Manchester United have confirmed they will tour the United States this summer. They will play in five cities including Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Santa Clara and Washington DC.

No details of dates or opponents have yet been confirmed but it is expected that some of the games will be part of the American leg of the International Champions Cup.

Previous reports have suggested Manchester City, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus could also be involved in that tournament.

United could face City after their planned fixture in Beijing during pre-season last year was called off following torrential rain.

Outside of the ICC games, United could make up the rest of their two-week tour schedule with fixtures against Major League Soccer or other teams.

Further details are expected in the coming days but United’s commitments may raise eyebrows given manager Jose Mourinho’s recent complaints about fixture congestion.

Mourinho recently claimed United must have “lots of enemies” because of the intensity of the schedule they have been burdened with as a result of prolonged progress in the EFL Cup and Europa League.

Former United captain Roy Keane claimed Mourinho was talking “garbage” and “utter nonsense” and suggested the club should also not embark on long pre-season tours.

It is not the first time that point has been raised. Mourinho’s predecessor Louis van Gaal was critical of the club’s summer schedule in 2014, when they also visited the US. As a result, United’s tour the following summer was shorter.

Of the latest plans, chairman Ed Woodward said: “Visiting North America will give the team the best possible preparation for the new season, using top-class training facilities and playing in some great stadiums.

“We have witnessed first-hand the passion and support for the club in the US in recent years, so naturally it is something that everybody is very much looking forward to this summer.”

City recently confirmed they will travel to the US in the summer but no other details of their plans have yet been given.

City’s chief commercial officer Tom Glick said: “It is an incredible soccer market and a growing soccer market and that’s one of the reasons that we will be back there this summer.”

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