Middlesbrough puts Cooper in charge for Saturday

Middlesbrough has put first-team coach Colin Cooper in temporary charge of the team for Saturday’s League Championship match at Preston.

With a permanent successor to fired manager Gareth Southgate yet to be appointed, Middlesbrough said Thursday that former Boro defender Cooper would be assisted by fellow coach Steve Agnew and goalkeeping coach Stephen Pears – another former Middlesbrough player.

Gordon Strachan, who has been out of work since quitting as Celtic manager in May, is rated the overwhelming favorite to succeed Southgate by British bookmakers.

The northeast England side fired Southgate on Tuesday despite a 2-0 victory over Derby that put the team back in the race for promotion to the Premier League.

Chairman Steve Gibson said he had started to look about for a new manager after deciding to fire Southgate three weeks ago.

“Our five home games had brought in seven points,” Gibson said. “That will not get us promoted. And promotion is the only objective for the season.”

Southgate oversaw Middlesbrough’s relegation last season with just 28 goals scored in 38 games. After a strong start of three wins and a draw, losses to West Bromwich Albion, Leicester and Watford confirmed the team’s worst run of home games without scoring for 77 years.

“When I sat down and considered our start to the season, I felt that the league table was actually more favorable than some of our performances,” Gibson said. “Then I looked at the important games against the teams immediately around us, and took those results into account.

“In general, the results and the performances have not been to the level I would have hoped for.”