Strachan keen to tie Pogatetz to new deal
GORDON STRACHAN admits he is desperate to make Emanuel Pogatetz part of Middlesbrough's promotion bid next season and is optimistic a deal can be struck to keep the Austria international on Teesside. Pogatetz confirmed this week he's keen to extend his stay with the club he joined in 2005, despite continued interest from Greek side Panathinaikos who hope to land the 27-year-old when he becomes a free agent this summer. But the defender has been earmarked by Strachan as a potentially crucial figure to ensure the club avoid a third successive season of failure. With Middlesbrough's playoff bid no longer a distraction, the Scot is focusing his energies on moulding a core of reliable characters who can hit the ground running at the start of next season. It's like Nick Faldo redesigning his swing so that he goes from being an OK player to a top golfer, said Strachan. I think that's what we are like. We have been alright but I want this team to have a swing you can trust. David Wheater, who has one year to run on his current deal, is another player whom Strachan wants to tie to a new deal. But the manager accepts the prospect of another year in the Championship could prompt some of his most coveted performers to consider their options. We want to keep Poggy at the club, said Strachan. He sets a good standard in training. He is a good player and is versatile. We are desperate to keep him and he wants to stay. That is a good starting point. If we really want to get together and make it happen then we make it happen. How do I persuade them to stay I just talk to them like men. If a top club comes along and offers £15m for somebody than I imagine they will say I want to go' and we will deal with that. But there are important people here we'd like to keep. David (Wheater) is one of them, a terrific lad with a lot to learn. This would be a great place for him to do that. He'll get time on the coaching field. We don't sit back and hope you'll be a better a player we try and make you better. We'll try and rejig the squad. There are players here that need a bit of help. I think what we're looking for is when the season starts is making sure we're not doing what we did this year. We were unfortunate with injuries, we had to bring in a lot of loan players and had a lot of players in their last year of contract. The squad needs to be more solid, he said. Tomorrow afternoon's encounter against Coventry City offers Boro's players a chance to play for pride alone after last Saturday's feeble performance against West Brom. And the manager is still struggling to sum up his feelings following the Hawthorns debacle. Its more than disappointing. Disappointing is when you don't get the Christmas present you were after or your steak comes medium when you ordered it well done, said Strachan. It's way beyond that.We have had two years now where it's been way more than disappointing for any supporter. I don't want to feel like that again. We can't have three disappointing seasons on the trot. We have to do something about that. Rhys Williams is fit to face the Sky Blues and when asked if Gary O'Neil was available Strachan replied: I think so, I hope so.
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