Steve Agnew spoke to the media at Rockliffe Park ahead of Boro’s final home game of the season, against Southampton at the Riverside.
On Boro’s relegation, and looking forward:
It’s been tough because after the result [at Chelsea] we lost our Premier League status, which we worked very hard for. It was difficult to accept.
The first season back in the Premier League is always very difficult but we felt we were ready for it, so we’re bitterly disappointed.
Ultimately, we haven’t done enough – but we’ll be better for the experience and there’s a determination that comes from that.
We have to move on very quickly. We know where we’re at, and we have two massive games to come. We have to finish the season strongly.
The initial disappointment was there, but the response the players have shown in training has been terrific.
On Boro’s task of regrouping in the summer:
We have 23 or 24 contracted players, and we’re fortunate in many ways because we also have 12 or 13 players with a promotion on their CV.
Like any club, there’s always going to be movement in the summer. Our core has always been built on spirit and that’s something we want to keep together.
From that point of view everyone is together, and we’re looking forward. We’ll remain focused.
I think after the disappointment of the other night, it’s been emotional and I’m no different. There have been positive aspects, such as the reaction of the players when I came in and the home performances, as well as disappointments like those at Bournemouth and Hull.
I’ve made mistakes of course, and there are things I would have done differently, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. I feel responsibility, and I’ll take that because I’ve enjoyed the challenge.
Now is not about my future or situation, it’s about Middlesbrough Football Club and how we regroup.
We want to be in the fight to get back to the Premier League.
On Boro’s fans:
The supporters have been magnificent home and away. They didn’t stop singing the other night.
That’s appreciated by every single player and member of staff.
It was a surprise [that Antonio Conte applauded the Boro fans], he has a very big job on his hands, but he took the time to do it and it was very much appreciated from us as a club.
The last home game is something we should approach in a positive manner. More than anything, we want to put in a performance for the supporters.
On squad fitness and availability:
Victor Valdes’ rib injury is still ongoing and he is struggling to make it, as is Gaston Ramirez.
Dani Ayala has started jogging again but I’ll don’t think he’ll make it.