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Agnew understands fans’ criticism - but will he be in charge next season?

Patrick Bamford wins a header for Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Patrick Bamford wins a header for Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Middlesbrough fans resorted to gallows humour after a performance in keeping with their meek Premier League campaign - frustration head coach Steve Agnew fully understood.

Last Monday’s defeat at Chelsea confirmed Boro’s relegation back to the Championship after a top-flight campaign devoid of excitement.

It was somewhat fitting that the final Premier League match at the Riverside was so drab, with Jay Rodriguez and Nathan Redmond securing much-changed Southampton a 2-1 win on Teesside.

Patrick Bamford’s goal - his first in 760 days - was a welcome consolation on an afternoon when the fans’ disillusionment was clear, chanting former manager Aitor Karanka’s name and calling for their own goalkeeper Brad Guzan to be sent off after giving away a penalty missed by Shane Long.

Put to Agnew he would have to be deaf not to have heard the fans’ unrest, he said: “To be honest, I didn’t really (hear it).

“I think to stand in the technical area is something that I feel is my responsibility.

“And I understand the frustration from the crowd, they’ve had a really, really disappointing season.

“We have to accept - always we have to accept - responsibility for where we are and understand the frustration from the supporters.

“We’re disappointed with the result because it was a game that we wanted a strong finish for our supporters more than anything.

“Obviously going a goal behind in the first-half performance, we didn’t show any real threat and that was disappointing going into half-time.

“I think obviously the goal comes at a bad time and we’re all disappointed, but I think when the second goal goes in then it is a real test of character for the players who’ve had obviously a very, very difficult season.

“I have to say the penalty miss was probably the moment that gave everybody a lift in a strange kind of way and then we took the initiative from that penalty miss to get the goal from Patrick.”

Boro chairman Steve Gibson spoke about the “heartbreaking” campaign after the match and confirmed a decision had been made on the managerial situation, saying “when we’re ready to announce that, I will”.

The owner wants to “smash” the Championship next term and the fact he did not confirm Agnew was staying in charge could be telling.

“It’s about the club and I’ve said it before,” said Agnew, handed first-team reins on a short-term basis in March.

“It is about the club, it is about how we now bounce back. It is not about my situation, my position. The most important thing is the future of Middlesbrough Football Club.”

Middlesbrough: Guzan, Da Silva, Chambers, Gibson, Friend, de Roon, Clayton, Forshaw (Leadbitter 60), Bamford, Negredo, Downing (Fischer 60). Subs Not Used: Konstantopoulos, Bernardo, Barragan, Stuani, Traore. Booked: Clayton, Gibson, de Roon. Goals: Bamford 72.

Southampton: Forster, Pied, Caceres, Yoshida, Bertrand, Clasie, Romeu, Hojbjerg (Davis 74), Long (Austin 87), Rodriguez, Boufal (Redmond 46). Subs Not Used: Ward-Prowse, Stephens, Targett, Hassen. Goals: Rodriguez 42, Redmond 57.

Att: 28,203 Ref: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).