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Dino's Juninho Tribute
Dino's Juninho Tribute
Man, or a God? Athletico's gain is Boro's loss - I'm just thankful he pulled on a Middlesbrough shirt and I was there to see it.
-Dave Roberts.


Contents





Middlesbrough Premiership Status

LAST MATCH
Middlesbrough 3 - 0 Sunderland
Premiership


NEXT MATCH
Everton - Away (Sat 14th)
Premiership


LEAGUE POSITION
6th (8 points from 5 games)
"Soccernet" League Tables



I accidentally reset the counter so Boro's new stadium capacity is only

Boro

"Middlesbrough's relegation is sad. Partly because it will mean that Juninho will no longer grace English football, but also because the club's flawed adventure brimmed with excitement and daring. Only the top four in the Premiership scored more goals and, even if they only belatedly found time for the dull art of defending, Boro contributed more toward the Premiership then, say, the team that sent them down."
-Rhys Williams, Evening Standard, 1997



First Month Ends With Derby Win

Boro opened their campaign with disappointing goalless draw away to Southampton, fans had little time to worry about Maccarones ability though as he scored two great goals against Fulham the following week. Unfortunately Boro let the game slip and Fulham scored twice in the final minute, 2-2 the final score. The game against Manchester United was then postponed and Boro's luck changed for the good as they scored an arguably unwarranted winner, courteously of Job, in the dying seconds of the game at Blackburn 1-0. The Boro defense then turned in a fine performance against United at Old Trafford and it required a penalty to give United a 1-0 win. Against local rivals Sunderland Boro and Nemeth (scoring twice) in particular shone and cruised to a 3-0 victory, Maccarone getting his third.

SOCCERNET:- McClaren has Boro firing on all cylinders
A year can be a long time in football - just ask any Middlesbrough fan. This time last season, Boro were in danger of sinking without trace after losing their first four games in disastrous fashion. The ultimate humiliation came in a 4-1 hammering at the hands of north east rivals Newcastle United at the Riverside. Steve McClaren has worked tirelessly to turn around a team that was leaking a multitude of goals and win over supporters who, at one time, questioned his appointment. Comparisons were made between McClaren and Brian Kidd, the former Blackburn Rovers boss. Kidd failed miserably at Ewood Park after stepping out of Sir Alex Ferguson's shadow at Manchester United, and many speculated that McClaren would succumb to the same fate. Boro had become stale after so many years under the guidance of Bryan Robson, and a short spell with Terry Venables at the helm served only to increase uncertainty over the club's long-term future. Chairman Steve Gibson kept the purse strings quite tight in McClaren's first season, with reduction of the wage bill the primary aim. But this summer, Gibson has backed his manager - just as he did Robson - with multi-million pound signings. McClaren has come on in leaps and bounds, expertly combining his job at Boro with his role alongside Sven Goran Eriksson as part of the England camp. It could be argued that McClaren's involvement with the national team has helped attract his summer signings. After all, he was one of a small band of Premiership managers who actually bothered to make the trip to Korea/Japan in the summer. McClaren has now turned one of the Premiership's worst defences into a formidable force. Even Manchester United struggled to break down Boro at Old Trafford, needing a penalty to overcome the resistance. After conceding 11 goals by this time last term, the table now shows only three against. Memories of last season's catastrophic start are a dim and distant memory, and the comfortable 3-0 victory over Sunderland will have banished the derby day disgrace firmly from the memory. Switching to a three-man back-line has worked superbly, and McClaren's decision to reunite Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu at the heart of the defence must rank among the best transfer moves of last year. The former Aston Villa defenders have built up a fine understanding with Boro stalwart Colin Cooper, enabling the wing-backs to push forward to great effect. The permanent signing of Franck Queudrue from Lens was the final piece in the defensive jigsaw. A hard-working, pacy, left-sided wing-back, Queudrue has proved his worth both in defence and attack - his superb free-kick created Massimo Maccarone's goal against Sunderland.

Robbie Stockdale is perhaps one of the more surprising names to come to the fore under McClaren. After being well and truly out in the cold two seasons ago, culminating with a loan move to Sheffield Wednesday, McClaren has shown great faith in the player - leading to Stockdale's international recognition with Scotland. To be deprived of legend Juninho to a cruciate ligament injury days before the start of the season was a major blow, but the impressive form of Jonathan Greening, George Boateng and Joseph-Desire Job has tempered the loss of such an inspirational figure. Goals were hard to come by last season, and they haven't exactly flowed this time around either. Boro are yet to find the back of the net away from home, which is a worry, but the Riverside is becoming a fortress and a place few teams wish to visit. Boro used to sell out every home game when they first moved to their current stadium, but the downturn in fortunes and the lack of flair on the pitch has seen crowds dwindle. That will change rapidly should current form last. The signing of Massimo Maccarone was one of the most interesting of the summer. Costing 8.15million from Serie B side Empoli, it was easy to compare him to Blackburn's Corrado Grabbi - who made a similar move in the summer of 2001. The difference here, of course, is that people had actually heard of Maccarone. The Italian starlet had already terrorised England both as an Under-21 player and at full international level. The 23-year-old may still have a lot to learn about the English game, but his raw talent has shone through, with three goals to his name. Boro have performed admirably so far this season, and McClaren has moulded one of the more complete units in the Premiership. With Juninho available, that extra creative spark could have seen the side in an even stronger position - only time will tell how badly he will be missed. If the first month of the season is anything to go by, few would back against Middlesbrough making a push for a place in the UEFA Cup. This side can only get better, and if Gibson continues to provide the funds there is the scope to make Boro a permanent top six side. The trouble then, of course, will be keeping hold of McClaren.
By Dale Johnson



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