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  1. ITV Report

Agnew not feeling the pressure at Middlesbrough

Steve Agnew. Photo: PA

Steve Agnew insists he has hardly lost a wink of sleep since being handed the task of dragging Middlesbrough back from the Premier League precipice.

The 51-year-old was asked to step into Aitor Karanka's shoes for the final 11 games of the season when the Spaniard left the Riverside Stadium on March 16 after almost three-and-a-half years in charge.

He did so with Boro deep in trouble and a game into his reign, the club are five points adrift of safety and facing a seemingly pivotal week during which they will go head-to-head with fellow strugglers Swansea and Hull inside four days.

However, Agnew is relishing the opportunity and is refusing to be bowed by the pressure of the situation he has inherited.

He said: "I genuinely don't feel the pressure. The pressure is something I enjoy and because I enjoy it, then you get through it.

"When I go home, I'm quite relaxed. I'd be lying if I said that at 4am, something didn't come into my mind, of course it does. But I'm getting more and more sleep and I'm quite relaxed about the situation.

"If you feel any pressure, then you shouldn't be involved in the game of football. It's a fast-working industry, it's something I have been involved in for a number of years and I enjoy it.

"I don't know, it doesn't feel like a pressure to me. I know we have to start winning football matches, but for me, that's an enjoyable pressure."

Boro have not won a league game since December 17, when they beat the Swans 3-0 on Teesside, and have collected only four of the 33 points they have contested since.

Swansea were similarly afflicted when Paul Clement was parachuted in as Bob Bradley's replacement on January 1, and he has since guided them to five victories in 10 league outings to give them genuine hope of escaping the drop.

Agnew, who may need a similar return to keep Boro up, said of Clement: "I've been really impressed.

"I've not really come across Paul much in my coaching career, but obviously as coaches, you are always looking at other coaches, how successful have they been and who have they worked with and which club did they move to?

"He's had a really good coaching career and he's and English coach who I think is really, really talented. At a time when there's a lot of criticism towards English coaches, I hope - after Sunday - he becomes really successful.

"We're on a points total at the moment where we know we have to gain points, and the quicker the better. There's no target set, but if we can perform well on Sunday, then I'm sure that would be a positive towards the rest of the season."