Agnew aim­ing to add to pres­sure on Wenger

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL - DAMIAN SPELLMAN

STEVE AGNEW will go head-to­head with Arsene Wenger, the em­bat­tled Ar­se­nal man­ager, ad­mit­ting the French­man’s plight shows just how dif­fi­cult Premier League man­age­ment can be.

Wenger and his side will ar­rive at Mid­dles­brough tonight scrap­ping to keep them­selves in the race for a top-four fin­ish.

The Gun­ners’ chief is fac­ing con­certed calls for his head even with his track record af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing cam­paign by the club’s stan­dards, and Boro’s in­terim head coach be­lieves that sim­ply demon­strates how tough life at the top can be.

Agnew, who des­per­ately needs a first vic­tory of his fledg­ling reign against Ar­se­nal, said: “Ab­so­lutely. The game is re­sults-driven, we all know that, and he’s had 20 years at Ar­se­nal, which is an amaz­ing achieve­ment.

“Of course they’re in a dif­fi­cult mo­ment, cer­tainly away from home. But they have got top-qual­ity play­ers through­out the team, so we have no doubt it will be a re­ally, re­ally dif­fi­cult game.

“It is a chal­lenge be­cause he’s got top, top play­ers through the squad. It’s full of in­ter­na­tion­als and Arsene Wenger, in my opin­ion, is one of the most tal­ented coaches there’s been around for many years.

“Of course it’s a chal­lenge, but one I am very much look­ing for­ward to.”

Agnew was in­stalled as Ai­tor Karanka’s tem­po­rary re­place­ment last month, when he was handed the chance to make the job his on a per­ma­nent ba­sis.

Four games in and he has two draws to his name, but finds Boro six points from safety with time fast run­ning out.

The pres­sure is grow­ing by the week, al­though Agnew says: “A play­ing ca­reer is some­thing that you never want to end. You pre­pare your­self for the game within the team. But, ob­vi­ously, coach­ing is dif­fer­ent, com­pletely dif- EN­JOY­ING THE CHAL­LENGE: fer­ent, be­cause you now have a 25-man squad to man­age and to work on. But it’s some­thing I have al­ways en­joyed do­ing and I’ll con­tinue to do so.

“I’m en­joy­ing it. It is and it con­tin­ues to be a chal­lenge, but one that I’m en­joy­ing and rel­ish­ing. The re­sponse from the play­ers and the staff has been first-class.”

Agnew has been boosted by the re­turn of Ge­orge Friend and Gas­ton Ramirez from calf and an­kle in­juries, re­spec­tively,. Calum Cham­bers is in­el­i­gi­ble to play against his par­ent club un­der the terms of his loan agree­ment.

PIC­TURE: PA

In­terim head coach Steve Agnew is aim­ing to gain his first win in charge of Mid­dles­brough tonight.

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