On Taking The Boro Job

“Really it was Steve [Gibson], the chairman, who rang me if I could help out. He just wanted to change things for the run-in.

“I didn’t look at the game at the weekend. You have to accept, he owns the club and is a very loyal owner. That must have been a difficult decision for him.

“I’ve always got on really well with him and liked him. He’s one of the best owners, and the club itself. I’ve always enjoyed playing against them – I don’t think I’ve lost against them yet!

“When he rings and asks like that, I’d more or less retired in my own mind but I thought what an opportunity – eight games with nobody booing me!

“I had offers when I first left Cardiff.

“My chief executive kept telling people I was taking this job and that job.

“I had a great time at Cardiff, one of the best in my life. If it wasn’t Steve Gibson ringing me up I’d have thought twice, especially the six and a half hour journey at my age.

“It’s nice to put something back when somebody needs a bit of help. At this moment in time I couldn’t resist the opportunity.”

On The Challenge Facing Boro

“When you are down there you are down there for a reason, you can’t pull any punches.

“There are some big clubs in there but big clubs have gone down before, so it’s a really precarious position. But having said that we’ve got eight games, some cracking games.

“We’ve had the first session today and the lads have responded, I’m very, very pleased with how that’s gone. It’s trying to get the results to keep you up – that’s what it is until the end of the season, trying to get enough points.

“It’s difficult but other clubs have difficulty as well.

“Six or seven clubs are in trouble. There are a lot of points to play for and it’s surprising. You think this game and that game is the be all and end all.

“The run-in is really difficult for everyone, every team has something to play for. There’s a lot of pressure on and it takes it out of you.

“It’s OK saying we’ve got loads of ability but that’s not what wins you games. You need a bit more in your locker and I’m hoping to instil that.

“There are eight games and we’ve got to crack on, not worry about the odd setback, and get enough points to have a good late summer. Then the club can build for next year.”

On The Facilities At Boro

“I said to the groundsman, some of the clubs I’ve worked for you have to shovel something off the pitches before you get started.

“But this looked like Wembley all over again. I’ve never seen anything like it.

“If I can get my turf at home anything like that I’ll be a happy man.”

On His Motivation

“That’s why I’m still in it – I love the challenge.

“I’ve always got on well with the fans up here. It’s an opportunity to put a little bit back.

“I’d like to see Middlesbrough stay in the division and build for the future. I wouldn’t have come if the answer was no [to being able to keep Boro up].

“I should be called the Red Adair. I always get troubleshooting jobs but I do enjoy that.

“That’s what you need in these jobs, something on the edge, and that’s what I’ve missed in the last few months.

“I love training with the players, the rapport and i’ll be doing my best to get results.”

On His Two Coaching Additions

“I’m bringing in Kevin Blackwell and Ronnie Jepson.

“I said to Steve I can do it but I need my lieutenants there, they know what we do.

“Everywhere we’ve been we’ve worked together. That gives us the best chance.”

On His Experience

“I’m told I need 11 games to reach 1,500.

“But they don’t count the 17 Play-Offs! So I think I should be already past that mark.

“That wasn’t the reason I wanted to help out – I could have stayed where I was in Cornwall. I’ve nearly managed Middlesbrough on a number of occasions and it’s not come off for one reason or another.

“They seem a good group of lads, obviously lacking in a bit of confidence at the moment.

“We’ve got a few days yet before the battles start.”

[How valuable is that experience so you can hit the ground running?]

“I’ll tell you after the last game of the season, if you are still interviewing me!

“The last two games are quite tasty: Cardiff home and Sheffield Wednesday away. It’s a good job the fans aren’t in.

“It’s really exciting. Everybody can beat everybody in the Championship, that’s why its such a great league.

“The old cliche, let’s worry about Stoke first and everything will take care of itself.”

On ‘One Last Challenge’

“I wish I had a pound for every time someone asked me that!

“When you get to my age you don’t worry about what will happen in a few months, who knows what’s around the corner, especially at a time like this.

“It’s been a horrific time for the country, and I’m so glad that football’s back because it gives us opportunity to talk about different things.

“We’ve all missed that. That talking point has lifted everybody.

“I have missed the dressing room environment, and when I spoke to players before training I still got shivers down my back.

“It’s stressful at times but I am going to enjoy it and want the players to enjoy it, working hard for me and getting the right results. We should think ourselves lucky.”