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Middlesbrough News


A New Manager, A New Season, A New Hope?

Sorry for the long delay in updates, I've been busy at University. Anyways I'm back now and will hopefully be updating semi-regularly, I'm thinking bi-monthly. Speaking of changes there've been loads at the Boro camp, as suspected out went Bryan Robson and suprisingly Gordon Cox with him. Chairman Steve Gibson was unable to sign Terry Venables to a contract, but did manage to bring in a guy you may have heard of. England assistant manager, Mancester United number two, the UK's most promosing coaching prospect and all around nice guy Steve McClaren. With him came a slew of the best and the brightest in the coaching world (Bill Beswick, Steve Harrison etc.) as well as radical changes to the way in which Middlesbrough F.C. worked.

Out went Christian Karembeu, Alan Moore, Keith O'Neill and Brian Deane, and in came Szilard Nemeth, Gareth Southgate, Jonathan Greening, Mark Wilson and Allan Johnston. Gary Pallister retired due to injury and interestingly of our old friend Fabrizio Ravanelli has signed for Derby County.

Recent results have been mixed, McClaren started out slow but his Boro seem to be picking up stem and are very impressive defensivly, only time will tell I guess. Enough about what missed in the updates here is my very late:


My Boro Awards 2000/2001

Dons Do it Again

Boro played out 0-0 draw in the fourth round of the F.A. Cup against legendary giant killers Wimbledon F.C. The hard fought game was a good result for the dons who had come under a lot of pressure during the game and never really looked winners. There prize was a home replay the following week. Before that though Boro had to play an Aston Villa side that had flattered to decieve in recent weeks.

Ex-Villa defender Ugo Ehiogu had a point to prove and prove it he did producing a man of the match performance and scoring the second-half equaliser to cancel out Steve Stone's opener and maintain Boro's unbeaten record under Terry Venables. "You're just a greedy b-----d' and 'You'll never play for England' were the chants aimed in his direction from the Holte End where he was a hero with the fans for nine seasons. But he silenced them with his third goal for Boro since his £8million move earlier this season. The 1-1 draw means Boro are unbeaten in 12 League and cup games under Venables and have collected 16 points from a possible 30 in the Premiership.

The fourth rounds replay was it unlucky 13 for Terry Venables and Middlesbrough as Boro crashed out of the FA Cup. Ugo Ehiogu who had been the shineing knight of Boro's resurrection in recent weeks epitmoised the day, gaving away the penalty that Neal Ardley converted to force extra-time, and was later dismissed. Hamilton Ricard had put Boro in front seconds before the interval but Wimbledon broke down Boro's defence with goals from Jason Euell and substitute Jonathan Hunt in the extra half-hour. 3-1 the final score and Boro's dreams of europe vanish again...



Boro Remain Unbeaten For TEN

Boro picked up after a weeks lay off with a tough draw agianst an Everton side in danger of being sucked into the relegation dog fight. In recent weeks Everton have been crippled by injuries in turn thier form has suffered, but the game against Boro saw the return of many key players including the first time recently recovered Big Duncan Ferguson (you may remember he injured himself fighting of burgulars) would play alongside Kevin Campbell. The game was, as expected, a tough encounter with boro receiving SIX yellow cards to Evertons one. Vickers (21), Gordon (22), Schwarzer (50), Ince (77), Ehiogu (80), Cooper (90) the accused. Boro struck first through Hamilton Ricard only for Everton to equalise just after half time. The goal, a very controversial one, Schwarzer was clearly fouled in the box by campbell allowing Naysmith to slot the ball into an empty net. Schwarzer ran half the length of the pitch to "discuss" the incident with the ref and was booked for his troubles. Cooper put the Boro back in the lead with his first goal in two years, with 15 minutes remaining, only for Tal to equalise on 80 minutes. Boro 2-2 Everton, the score, one point for boro, 9 games unbeatan.

Only four days later the Boro and the Riverside Stadium played host to Manchester City, who were two places and just three points behind us. And now.....ther're still three points behind us but have jumped a place to 18th. Kanchelskis starting his first game for City started very very brightly forcing Steve Vickers to score an Own Goal. Determinded Boro fought back and scored through..guess who...COLIN COOPER, his second goal in four days!!!! Another point for Boro, Boro 1-1 City the score.



Eight In A Row Unbeaten!

Terry and Bryan continued Boro's fine run of form with a solid display agianst Liverpool, extending their unbeaten run to eight games while taking a fourth point of the season off Liverpool. In a week of replay games from the christmas schedule the Middlesbrough lads produced a display worthy of a top six club, drawing 0-0 with Liverpool in the progress. Gerrad Hollier used his entire quartet of stirkers but failed to find a way through the boro's organised defence. Micheal Owen was especially useless I might add, missing a hat-trick of sitters and picking up an injury, Emile Hesky also picked up a injury. Jari Litmanen, making his home debut and Robbie Fowler, coming off the bench, both played well for Liverpool. The men of the match for Boro were Dean Gordon and Paul Ince.



Boro Blast Out Of Relegation Zone

Middlesbrought F.C. took take on Jim Smith's boys at Derby County at the Riverside last week and produced Boros best performance this season. The game was a crutial relegation six pointer and neither team could afford to drop points.

Boro went into the game with a proud defensive record, they were unbeaten in their last six games but had also failed to score more than one goal. Derby County had also solved thier defensive problems recently, with the arrival of Nigerian Taribo West. Eight clean sheets in their last 11 league games & Mark Poom, the Derby 'keeper, on breathtaking form (he has made more saves than any other goalie in the top flight). Luckily for Boro fans West was away on international duty and Mawene replaced him. Before the game Jim Smith had been quoted as saying that he felt Alen Boksic wass the best striker in the top flight, his only failing the question mark over his fitness over the course of a full season.

History too was on Middlesbroughs' side, in the past the Boro had put a record number of goals past Derby. They'd won one game by six goals, three games by five and five games by four. The six of course was in March 1997, Ravanelli hitting his third hat-trick of the season, but two other players making their home debuts played a crucial part. Vladimir Kinder produced what was to become his trademark, at least when he managed to get a game, a thunderous thirty yard strike from the right flank.

The result of the game, Curtis Fleming's 250th, Boro 4 - 0 Derby. A stunning team display, easily Boro's best all season, where it was impossible to pick a man of the match, was too much for Derby. Alen Boksic scored a penalty late in the first half after a tense fourty minutes with both teams playing for keeps. Ugo Ehiogu headed a Karembeu cross to make it two and finish Derby. Bocksic grabbed his second with a brilliant move before Hamilton Ricard finished the rout on 90 minutes from the penalty spot, Boksic missing his chance for a hat-trick because he was taken off. The game was Middlesbroughs' biggest win since 1998 thanks to stand out performances by Festa, Vickers, Ehiogu, Okon, Ince, Karembeu, Ricard & Boksic. I name so many because they all deserve Man of the Match.



Fourth Round Here We Come

Boro streched thier unbeaten run to six games in all competitions and progressed to the Fourth Round of the F.A. Cup last night with a scorcher from Hamilton Ricard. I havn't seen the goal yet but I've heard it's not unlike the one I currently have up (Cruyff), excpet for the first touch of course.

The 1-0 win over Bradford meant that The Boro face either Notts County or Wimbledon in the next round, but neither should be taken lighty as anything can happen in the F.A. Cup.



Whelan Scores His Last Goal For Coventry & Leeds result

The irony of last night's game is not lost on either Boro or Coventry supporters. Whelan who found it hard scoring goals for Coventry while he was their gifted them a first half lead through a bizarre own goal. In the 42nd minute David Thompson took a Coventry corner, Mark Schwarzer dived left leaving Whelan defensively exposed at the back post. A Dangerous Swing of his right boot Whelan delivered Coventry their goal with spectacular power and accuracy. And not only did he score for his old club, he scored on his 26th Birthday and his 200th league game, but Boro never gave up giving Whelan a hat-trick of opportunites to make amends but sadly it wasnt to be his night. Late in the game on came Boksic who scored four minutes from time to save Whelan blushes. 1-1 the score and one point a piece.

Boro's first goal conceded in three games and a result that extends there unbeaten run to four games, not bad El Tel. Boro move up to 18th with 19 points ahead of Manchester City on goal difference and things are looking up, we may get out of this yet.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

And as a little bit of a New Year's pressie I've uploaded a rare mpeg of what has to be one of the greatest goals ever scored. Cruyff for Ajax vs The Hague (5mb)

UPDATE: Thanks to a superb goal by Alen Boksic, his second in two games, Boro earned a valuable point 1-0 agianst Leeds. Roobie Keane scored his first goal for leeds through a doubious penalty.



Foreign Army Flop, But Boro Get Points:-)

A sad day for those of you with a soft spot for Mr. Ranieri but a happy day for those of us following the fortunes of Middlesbrough F.C. 1-0 the score compliments of second half substitute Dean Gordon. With eleven key players suspended or injured Venables was forced to strech his team to the limits even calling up 18 year old defender Ian Hudson.

Although the game was largely dominated by Chelsea both sides had chances and should have scored. Mark Schwarzer put in an impressive performance as did Boro's defence, the game showed much promise for the future as Boro played some of the best passing and most inventive football they've played all season & to top it all off no one the defensive lapses the have plauged Boro recenetly were no where to be seen.

The win is Boro's first first-half clean sheet, clean sheet and home win of the season and it moves them off the foot of the table to 19th on 14 points. Coventry are 18th with 15 points and Derby are 17th on 16 points

UPDATE - Latest news on the injury front has Marinelli out for six weeks not the four originally stated, the good news however is that it now looks likley that Boksic will play agianst spurs



I'M BACK!!!

Hello again all. I've been away for a while and thus was unable to update the page but I'm back now and everything should go smoothly henceforth. First up a quick recap of what happened since the last update, where to start? Okay Karembeu, Okon, Boksic, Whelan, Job and Ehiogu all signed for under a little 20 million pounds and have done jack all!! After a 3-1 opening day win agianst Coventry (Boksic double) our beloved Boro are filtering with relegation again, this is in large degree to injuries, the absence of a home win in 5 months and below par defending. Enter one Ugo Ehiogu for a boro record 8 million pounds, 7 minutes and two touches later he's out for 6 weeks (that makes him the worlds most expensive player in pounds per minute of play!!!). Robbo has since said that if results don't turn around he's gonna bugger off, I personally think things will only get worse if this happens. Gone the other way are (among others) Zeige and Gazza, Zeige left for a paltry 5.5 to Liverpool while Gazza left on a free to join Walter Smith at Everton and has since got back in the reckoning for England (who are having problems of their own). Lord only knows which division Boro will be playing in next year, but I'll tell you this its gonna be a heck of a ride getting there! Next up my yearly Boro end season review (I know its late).

My Boro Awards 1999/2000

Player of the Year, Karembeu & Hasselbaink

Former AC Milan defender Christian Ziege has been voted Middlesbrough's Player of the Year The 28-year-old Ziege has impressed in a wing-back role following his £4million transfer from Italy last season and has earned a reputation as a free-kick specialist. Manager Bryan Robson said: "Ziege has made an impact in his first season in the premiership. He is and outstanding competitor." Ziege was the fans' choice in three rounds of voting spread over the season. Skipper Paul Ince won the Supporters' Club Player of the Year award last month.

According to the media, Robbo could be preparing to make a bid for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink now that Atletico Madrid have definitely been relegated from Spain's top division. Hasselbaink, who has been linked with a move to the Riverside on several occasions this season, is reported to have a clause in his contract that allows him to leave Atletico if they are relegated. It's been suggested that Robbo has already told Hasselbaink's agent that would like to bring him back to England, but Atletico's price tag of £14 million could be the biggest problem in any potential deal. It's possible, however, that Atletico may have to settle for less because of their financial plight.
In fact, other press reports suggest that Robbo may put in a bid of £10 million for Hasselbaink which would be a new club record, eclipsing the old record of £7 million Robbo paid for Fabrizio Ravanelli. However, Robbo may have a hard time convincing Hasselbaink to move from Spain. The player was quoted as saying: "I would like to stay with a Spanish club. I am very happy in Madrid." There's also the small problem of Real Madrid, who are also reportedly interested in the player. Real president Lorenzo Sanz has allegedly already held talks with Atletico and is rumoured to have put in a bid of £19 million.

Paul Gascoigne is going Down Under in one last attempt to resurrect his footballing future. Middlesbrough have agreed the deal with the Western Australia State League side, who will pick up Gascoigne's wages of more than £20,000 a week, in the hope that a change of scenery will help 32-year-old Gazza bounce back from a miserable season. Both Boro and Gascoigne feel it is in his best interests to escape from the glare of the English scene in an attempt to repair a career which has looked in terminal decline.

Bryan Robson is tonight believed to be closing in on a player who won a European Cup and World Cup winners medal within the space of seven weeks. Christian Karembeu could well be on his way to Middlesbrough in the summer after his present club, Real Madrid, agreed, in principal, to an offer, believed to be just over £2m, for the 29 year old right sided midfield player.
Karembeu will remain with Real until the conclusion of the Champion's League as he chases his second winners medal in the space of two years. Real, winners in 1998, will play Valencia in an all Spanish final in Paris later this month, after which the French World Cup winner is expected to join Middlesbrough. Negotiations between Boro and the player are believed to be at an advanced stage and Karembeu could sign a pre - contract agreement to become the first of what Robson hopes will be at least four international class signings over the next three months.

John Toshack was sacked as manager of Real in the middle of last November and Karembeu has not managed to figure greatly under Vicente Del Bosque, who is in charge until the end of the season. Karembeu has, this season, played 874 minutes in the Primera Liga, 282 minutes in the Copa Del Rey ( The Spanish Cup ), 284 minutes in the Champion's League - scoring one goal - and 267 minutes in the World Club Championship in Brazil.



Juninho

If the last two games are anything to go by, prolonged bench duty appears to have done Juninho the world of good. But as the season draws to a close, it remains to be seen whether Bryan Robson decides to reach for the chequebook come mid-May and make the Brazilian’s second stint on Teesside a permanent one. A month ago, the chances of Juninho staying at the Riverside looked bleak to say the least. At the turn of the year he started eight games in succession but his hopes of impressing were hardly helped as Boro suffered their traditional New Year hangover. Robbo raised a few eyebrows by dropping him from the team that beat Arsenal on March 12, and he was limited to a mere 13 minutes at the Stadium of Light in the 1-1 derby draw. Juninho failed to impress after being handed a recall at Sheffield Wednesday, and, as Boro’s form took a turn for the better, he was left out of the side for four games on the trot.

The signs that he was keen to prove a point to the manager surfaced in the seven-goal thriller with champions Manchester United. Thrown into the fray with just under 20 minutes left, he caused immediate problems for the United rearguard and, after swinging in the corner which led to Paul Ince’s goal, he found the net himself after cutting in from the flank. But despite this cameo, he was restricted to 39 minutes in the 2-1 reversal at Coventry, and was left kicking his heels in the dug-out for the 1-1 draw at Chelsea. The signs weren’t good, and it wouldn’t have taken a rocket scientist to assume Robbo was highly unlikely to shell out £6m for a player struggling to get into the side. However, a recall at West Ham resulted in a determined display with more than a few flashes of the skill the Riverside faithful became accustomed to in his original spell. And Robson’s faith in his No 23 was rewarded with arguably the Brazilian’s most productive display since returning to Boro. The tide, at last, was beginning to turn. His one clear chance resulted in the opening goal, and his jinking runs caused more than a few problems for Newcastle’s defence. His distribution was, in the main, spot on, with 11 of his 15 passes finding their targets. Juninho was constantly busy at the fulcrum of Boro’s play.

And while his short passing to team-mates was neat and tidy, he also showed he had the confidence to spray the ball across the park and sliced open the visiting rearguard on more than one occasion with inch-perfect through balls. His running off the ball was also a feature of his game, and with darting runs more often than not taking a defender with him, there was plenty of space created for Andy Campbell and Hamilton Ricard to run into. There’s no doubt whatsoever that in the eyes of the vast majority of fans, Juninho can do little wrong. But it’s Robson’s job to make the decisions, and the onus is now on the Brazilian in the final games at home to Watford today, then at Everton on the final day to continue to produce the goods. If Juninho can maintain his form in those games, Robbo may just be prepared to take a gamble. But if he fails, it could be a case of Thanks for the memories. Juno - it’s over to you.



Boro Draw & Robbo Slams FA.

Bryan Robson has reacted angrily to the news that Middlesbrough have been charged with Failing To Control Players by the Football Association. The charge arises out of an incident during the game with Manchester United at the BT Cellnet Riverside Stadium, when Boro's players surrounded a linesman towards the end of the game after he had allowed a strike from Quinton Fortune to stand when he clearly looked offside.

The linesman was subsequently proven to be spot on with his judgement and Boro have been charged under FA Rule 24 which states that a club is responsible for the actions and behaviour of its players and officials. " I find it incredible that the FA can charge us," says Robson, " the lads did contest the decision with regard to offside, but they had been wound up by the fact they had had a perfectly good goal ruled out in the first half and that always plays on your mind. " From the sidelines I was asking the lads to calm down, which I thought they did and got on with the game. So I find it incredible that after the events of Old Trafford where Manchester United weren't charged, that they can even consider trying to charge us. " Knowing the way the FA seem to go with this football club we will probably be deducted points.

"It is worth noting that the FA are not acting upon the referee's report, he did not mention the incident, rather they are acting upon video evidence watched by the FA's disciplinary committee. Robson feels that the the way the game is going it is no longer a man's game. A feeling engendered by the fact he is to receive a personal charge following remarks made to a linesman and referee Neale Barry following the game at Coventry last week. " I've said for a long time that they are trying to take it away from being a man's game," storms the Boro boss. " Football is a man's game, but you know in certain rulings they are trying to take that part of the game away. I think people should look at themselves in every area, not just players and coaches, to see if they are making the right decisions within football. In matters on the pitch Boro drew one all with Chelsea scoring there first goal at the Bridge in 21 years, Come On you BORO!



United Too Powerfull, So Are Coventry (WTF)

Sorry about missing an update, I'll make it up I promise. So two games since the 3-2 win at spurs both of which we lost, so say goodbye to that run we were having. A 4-3 loss to United and a 2-1 loss to Coventry have seen Boro slide down two places to 13th but all is not lost (no pun intended) with the teams directly ahead of us having nothing to play for now (much like Boro) they are not going to get many more points so if Boro produce a run half as good as the last we could easily end up top ten! But judging by the Coventry game which we could and should have won that's not gonna happen. Come on you BORO!

Two losses the first against the current European Champions Manchester United and the second against relegation fodder Coventry, which were not going to talk about, all you need to know is we lost and we sucked. Oh and that Paul Ince scored the first own goal of his career. Now the game against United was a great game, sure we lost but what a game. We started out the as equals on home ground going ball for ball, shot for shot although Cooper was injured after two fine tackles, he was replaced by Festa. The game looked set for United to start edging when with an amazing chip Ricard set up Campbell for a volley through Bosnich's legs to score 1-0. United were in disbelief and only minutes later Ricard's put one in the back of the net himself with a header (now here's where it all went wrong). Only the linesman saw things differently he judged the goal disallowed due to Deane holding back Stam, something even Stam was and is surprised about. Half Time.

The second half started more wrong then right, within minutes Giggs had pulled United back to 1-1 then Cole finally got things right making it 1-2 and you wouldn't believe Scholes goal on 74 minutes making it 3-1, and it all looked over. But never count your goals till the daft linesman blows or something. Zeige and Ince rallied the troops and pulled one back through a header courtesy of one Paul Ince on 84 minutes giving Boro renewed hope of only momentarily, United's forth four minutes later made it 2-4 but the highlight of the game was yet to come. Juninho the Brazilian magician had come on for Moore on 70 minutes and produced the games best goal weaving past two United defenders and curling a shot from the left touchline twenty yards out into goal making it 4-3. The goal evoked memories of days gone bye and names like Emerson and Ravenilli, a few more goals like that and no Boro fan would let Juninho go back. The game was a 10/10 for Fans and 9/10 for neutrals.



Boro Shine at White Hart Lane

Middlesbrough went away to Spurs at the Lane and came back with a solid win, I was there to watch all the magic and Boro's first away win since October. Last season Boro won 3-0 away to spurs thanks to two goals from Hamilton Ricard, this year we beat them 1-0 at home thanks again to another goal from Ricard. And this game was no different two goals from Ricard and an own goal from Carr gave Boro a deserved win over a team that were odds on to win the game and even went up 1-0.

According to reports in the media, Robbo could be preparing to make a summer move for Bryne's Norwegian U-21 skipper Ragnvald Soma. Bryne were promoted to the Norwegian top division last season but the Stavanger club have confirmed that they won't stand in the way of the talented defender if he wants a move. It seems that Bryne need the money the sale of Soma would generate, and the player is keen to come and play in England.

As for Europe despite Monday night's win, Robbo has conceded that Boro will not be competing for a European place this season. With only 7 games remaining, Robbo feels there is not enough time to make up the ground and grab a European slot. Boro have applied to enter the Intertoto Cup but to qualify they will have to finish 6th or better. Robbo feels there are not enough games left to achieve this.



NEW BORO DEFENSE?

The media report that Boro could be lining up Torquay United's talented 20-year-old central defender Wayne Thomas as a summer signing. Thomas has been a regular in the Torquay line-up since he was 16 and has built up a reputation as being a solid defender, who has also attracted the interest of several other top teams. It's reported that Robbo had the player watched last Saturday when Torquay lost 2-0 at Hartlepool. If he gave a good display then Boro could make a move for him during the close season. With many of the current first team defenders - such as Colin Cooper, Gary Pallister and Gianluca Festa - all well into their thirties, Robbo is apprently attempting to bring some younger faces into the squad.

It's no secret that Boro have a number of curses, there's the Wembley curse (which no Boro fan will ever forget), the newly founded post Christmas slump curse, the New Years day curse, the Mid-Week fixture curse and the live on Sky Sports curse. The last two of which Boro had to face at White Hart Lane. As well as the fact that we haven't had much luck there ever. Sure we won in 98 but look for a win before that and you'll have to go as far back as 1929! So with Boro's 3-2 win they put aside childish superstitions and picked up 3 valuable points to put themselves equal on points with Newcastle and Tottenham and extending their unbeaten run to 7 games, bring on United.

The media are speculating that a possible move by Boro for Torquay United defender Wayne Thomas could result in Steve Vickers and Gianluca Festa departing the Riverside in the summer. Vickers is reported to have already admitting that he is looking to leave Boro in the summer after finding his first-team chances limited. Darlington were suggested as a possible interested party.



Transfer News

Robbo faces an anxious couple of days as he awaits the outcome of his latest attempts to strengthen the squad. Juninho, as expected, has initially been refused a work permit after agreeing a short-term contract which would see him return to Boro, and now club officials will travel to London on Friday for an appeal hearing at the Department for Education and Employment. Boro have so far remained silent on the matter apart from confirming that the initial application has been refused. The media also report that Boro officials have been preparing their case for the appeal since agreeing the deal with Juninho. In another development on the transfer front, Boro are hopeful of resurrecting AC Milan midfielder Ibrahim Ba's proposed move. The club announced last week that Ba had agreed to join until the end of the season, but their hopes appeared to have been dashed on Monday when Ba was widely quoted in the Italian media as saying he had turned down the move.

But Boro apparently remain hopeful the deal can be rescued. Robbo was quoted as saying: "Ibrahim has a problem with Milan and he wants to iron out a few things before he comes back to me. I have to wait and see what develops." Robbo would not comment further on what developments he is waiting for, though he did indicate negotiations were continuing with the player's agent. Ba had been due to link up with Boro on Sunday but went to Paris instead because his mother was ill. In other news, Argentinian teenager Carlos Arturo Marinelli is due in the North-East this week for a medical before completing his move. The 17-year-old has agreed a five-year contract after Boca Juniors accepted Boro's £1.5m offer.



Back At Boro - Juninho

I know its been said before but this is official, in fact I was waiting till I had conformation and just got it!! Juninho's coming back on loan till the end of the season. He's waiting for a work permit which he may qualify for but its likly to take two weeks. The deal states that if boro like what they see they have option to sign him for 6-8 million pounds.

Also boro have loaned Ibrihim Ba from AC milan to join Zeige. the 8 Million pound star is likly to come in at the same time Juninho does but doesn't need a work permit. i'm still waiting on conformation on this though. Robbo and Anderson will then fly to Argentini to look at Marinelli. Oh and we lost 1-0 to Villa. Bastards!!!

Robbo, who will fly to Argentina this week to hopefully complete the £1.5 million signing of 17-year-old Arturo Marinelli, rates the youngster very highly. Speaking about the deal, Robbo said yesterday: "The clubs have agreed a fee and I am taking advantage of the break in the league programme to see the player and his parents. He is one of the most outstanding 17-year-olds I have ever seen. He has great ability and I think he is a bit special."



Transfer News

It's official!! I've been waiting for it to finally be official and now it is, look at the picture! Paul Ince and Christian Zeige have finally signed!! Added to the signing late last season of Keith O'neil and the recovery of Boro's greatest youth prospect Andy Campbell, Boro now have four new players to add to their campaign. Things are definitely looking good. I've also got to mention that the last pre season friendly went great. BORO 5 - 2 Huddersfield. That's right, our boy Campbell got three (haven't I been telling you he's amazing) Ince got one (yup on his debut) and Gazza got one (a diving header if you'll believe that). So click on the picture below to see the new signing's and click on the one next to it to see the Middlesbrough F.C. team photo 1999 - 2000.



New Signings

Middlesbrough F.C. Team Photo 99-00








Odds & Sods

I've been away for a while and havn't been able to update therefore a lot of news has been missed. I'm just gonna quickly recap what's happened over the last month or so. Firstly Bryan Robson has stated that he no longer has an interest in Robbie Keane as Keane took to long to come to an agreement and his wage demands were to high. Secondly Middlesbrough F.C. have stated that they have no interest in Juninho at this time. On the bright side Boro are clost to signing Liverpool's midfield captain Paul Ince. As well as A.C. Milan's Christian Zeige though he still has a lot of contract talks to carry out. Also Boro have not fared well over the course of there pre-season frendlies (draws and losses).



My Boro Awards: 1998-1999



Emmo's coming back?

According to the media ex-boro star Emerson is on the verge of making a comeback to the riverside. I for one have always been a great fan of emmo's and believe he'd be a great addition to the current squad (better than Ince anyway). Emerson has recently divorced his btich wife and promises total loyalty to the boro cause. Media reports suggest that Chief executive Keith Lamb has flown to Spain on Monday to assess the Emerson situation which means the deal pretty close. Emerson has gotten on and matured tremendously since his last stint at the club and is nearing his peak, Robson has admitted an interest in Emerson if the price is right.



Year End Recap

Middlesbrough finished the season with a 4 - 0 loss away to West Ham and finished 9th in the table. West Ham managed to beat out boro and Aston Villa to the Intertoto Cup place (let em have it sucks anyway) and Manchester United Won the Premiership beating Arsenal to it on the final day of the season.

Arsenal have beaten out both Middlesbrough and Newcastle (who claimed to have him in the bag) to Dynamo Kiev captain Oleg Luzhny. This is a big blow to boro who have been chasing him for sometime. There is also some action on the Juninho front with speculation that Villa will once more try to sign him, more as that comes in.

All in all the 1998 - 1999 Premier League season has been won of Middlesbrough's best season ever, certainly their best in recent history. It has had both its highs and lows with the 3 - 2 win at Old Trafford the 4th placing before Christmas and the chance to beat the longest unbeaten at home record. As well as the dismal form after Christmas that sent us plummeting the 5 - 0 loss at Goddison Park and 6 - 1 drubbing at Highbury.



Deadline Day

Two important transfers where completed this month the first of which was the signing of Norwich's higly rated midfielder Keith O’Neill for the cut price of £700,000. Despite an alleged 11th hour bid by Celtic the winger has completed his move to the Riverside. O’Neill is reported to have agreed to a 4-year deal which will keep him at the Riverside until the summer of 2003. Robbo was quoted as saying: "Keith is strong and very quick. He is also a useful utility player in that he is equally at home wide on the left or at centre-forward. Given a good run, we feel he has the ability to become an excellent player because £700,000 for a player of his ability and potential is a great price considering Norwich turned down a £4 million bid from Newcastle a couple of years ago.

The second major transfer is the departure of Mikkel Beck to Derby for £500,000. Derby boss Jim Smith made a last-minute transfer-deadline day move and signed Mikkel Beck yesterday. Beck, who scored at Derby in December, has signed a four-and-a-half-year deal at Pride Park after the Rams paid Boro a nominal fee - reported to be about £500,000 - for his services. Apparently, Derby have been interested in Beck for some time, with Smith reportedly failing in an attempt to sign the Danish international last year. Smith was quoted as saying: "I asked how much they wanted before Christmas but was told they weren't selling. They were doing well at the time and didn't want to lose players, so I just kept track of things. I asked again this week and was told 'you're on'. Beck's a striker and you can't have too many of them. He's also young, left-sided, an international and he has good movement. We're delighted to get him."



Transfer Speculation

Robbo has been linked with a swoop for two midfielders currently playing at Rangers and Celtic. Rangers' German Jorg Albertz and Celtic's Phil O'Donnell are the players in question and according to the media it seems that, since both play in the same position, Robbo would be interested in bringing either one or the other to the Riverside Stadium. 28-year-old Albertz is a left sided midfielder with a very powerful shot. He has scored 18 goals in 42 games for Rangers and would reportedly cost Boro around £5 million. The big problem for Boro on this link is that the player himself has pledged his future to Rangers, and the club are very keen to keep him. Albertz held talks with Rangers chairman David Murray on Tuesday because he thought the club wanted him out after they brought in Neil McCann from Hearts and he heard the club had been listening to offers from other clubs for his services. However after the clear-the-air talks Albertz has been assured the club do want him to stay. Albertz said: "I'm as happy now as I have ever been and, as long as Rangers are happy with me, I am not interested in moving."

Meanwhile, Robbo stands a much better chance of capturing O'Donnell from Celtic Park. The 26-year-old left-sided midfielder is out of contract on the summer so would be available for free, or a knock-down price before deadline day. Once labelled in Scotland as the 'new Bryan Robson,' O'Donnell scored on his Celtic debut following a £1.75 million move from Motherwell in the 1994-95 season. He is a tough-tackling player who likes to get forward and chip in with a few goals - he currently has five in 21 games for Celtic - and would seem to be a perfect replacement for Andy Townsend when he eventually retires. It's strange that O'Donnell hasn't been offered a new contract at Celtic Park because he is supposedly on the verge of a Scotland call-up from Craig Brown such is his ability. Perhaps Celtic's loss may prove to be Boro's gain?



The Horse Coming To Boro?

According to the media, Boro are poised to beat off competition from a host of other Premiership clubs and sign Dynamo Kiev's highly-rated defender Oleh Luzhnyi for around £1 million. The 30-year-old's towering performances in the Champions League against Arsenal earlier in the season alerted Spurs, West Ham and Sheff Wednesday to his outstanding ability, but Boro have allegedly won the battle to capture him. Robbo, who is keen to strengthen his defence, was reportedly involved in detailed talks with Luzhnyi's advisers throughout last week and is aiming to complete the signing once Kiev's Champions League run comes to an end. Last night an insider said: "Luzhnyi is one of the best right backs in the world and Robson is desperate to sign him because he rates him so highly and knows that other clubs are interested in him. Although a lot of clubs have been after him, Luzhnyi wants to move to Middlesbrough and the deal should be completed once the Champions League is over."

Nicknamed 'The Horse' because of his surging gallops upfield, the Ukraine defender was a thorn in Arsenal's side during their two Champions League encounters earlier in the season. His athleticism and attacking prowess have made him a wanted man. Benfica manager Graeme Souness lured Luzhnyi to Portugal for a week-long trial this season, but the club were unable to come up with the money to buy him. The only possible doubt Robbo might have as he ponders a deal would be the difficulty which East European players have experienced in reproducing their best form in England.



Bernie's Bum

Former Boro striker Bernie Slaven had little choice but to fulfill a rash promise when Middlesbrough beat Manchester United 3-2. The 38-year-old, who now covers the club for Boro TV, attracted a crowd of 2,000 Teessiders as he went through with his vow to show his backside in the window of Binns department store in Middlesbrough if Bryan Robson's side achieved their first win at Manchester United in 68 years at the weekend. Boro duly produced a stunning display to race into a 3-0 lead at Old Trafford, and there was no escape for Slaven despite a late fight back as Alex Ferguson's men recovered to lose only 3-2. It all meant that yesterday it was Slaven who found himself exposed at the back as, decked out in a kilt, he carried out his cheeky promise in front of thousands of Christmas shoppers. Slaven evealed his emotions as he watched Saturday's events at Old Trafford. "At 3-0, I thought it'd definitely have half a cheek out, but at 3-2 Andy Cole went one-on-one and I thought 'Come on Andy'," he admitted. "But he didn't hit the net, and I knew then that I was going to have to flash my backside. For pictures click here.



I Saw These At Riverside Reds & Had to Put Them Up

Gazza Story The Tabloids Don’t Publish - Thanks to Mailing List member Andy Smith for this story about Gazza… Apparently on Saturday night, who was on the train going back to London with MSSers from the West Ham game? Paul Gascoigne. He looked fit and healthy, and had a great time signing hundreds of autographs for West Ham and Charlton fans. He happily chatted for ages with anyone who wanted to talk to him. You won't read this in the tabloids but everyone who met Gazza was bowled over by him.

Rumour Corner - This is one of those "friend of a friend of friend" stories, so don’t take it too seriously. Anyway, it seems that this guy’s solicitor also just happens to be the solicitor for Boro chairman Steve Gibson. Allegedly, Gibson visited the solicitor the other day and instructed him to apply for planning permission to expand the Riverside Stadium to 45,000. Upon hearing this request, the solicitor is supposed to asked Steve Gibson: "Are you sure you will fill it?" Gibson’s alleged response was: "We will be signing two players next month. One of them will guarantee that we fill the stadium." So there you have it. I know it’s only a rumour, but if it did turn out to be true, which player do you think would guarantee a Riverside sell-out? Perhaps someone currently playing in Spain…



Deane Signs

Boro have finally completed the 3 million pound signing of Benfica striker Brian Deane. Deane's move was put on hold on Wednesday after the intervention of soccer's world governing body FIFA over accusations by Deane's previous club Sheffield United that they had not received full payment for Deane's move to Benfica. Benfica issued a statement later on Wednesday saying that they had settled 500,000 pounds ($852,200) in unpaid fees owed to Sheffield United the previous week.



Boro In Top Three

Boro moved into third place today, just behind Manchester United and Aston Villa, after convincingly beating Sheffield Wednesday 4-0. Goals from Beck, Ricard and Gazza helped put boro in the Premier Leagues top three. Robson said that he was pleased witht he result but hoped for an average finish to the season.



Coventry Sign Froggatt

Wolves winger Steve Froggatt has completed a £1.9 million move to Coventry City. Following talks with the Sky Blues and Boro, plus a late bid from Derby County, the former Aston Villa star eventually opted to join Gordon Strachan's men. The decision came as a blow to Robbo, but he remained philosophical about it, saying: "It is a disappointment because Steve would have been good cover for us. He would also have given us a bit of extra pace, but as one door closes we will make sure another one opens. Steve was impressed with the club but I think at the end of the day he wanted to stay in the Midlands."



Villa Pay Arm And Leg For Merson

Villa manager John Gregory completed the 6.75 million pound signing of Paul Merson from Boro today. Merson is due to finalise the details of his move to Villa Park in time to make his debut at home to Newcastle on Wednesday night. Gregory said: "Middlesbrough have conducted the negotiations very well and have been helpful in us securing Paul's signature subject to a medical. We are absolutely delighted. One or two minor items needs to be tidied up but I don't see too many hitches. If we can get everything completed in time, Paul will wear the number 10 shirt against Newcastle."



Merson Gone?

Paul Merson is expected to hold talks with Robbo today, after admitting he almost quit Boro on three occasions last season. Merson is allegedly desperate to leave the Riverside, with Aston Villa one of the favourites to land him. Merson cites a mixture of unhappiness at Boro's lack of ambition, and fears he may return to drinking and gambling, as his chief reasons for wanting to quit the north-east. Merson said, "I'm not happy with a lot of things behind the scenes at the club at the moment, and it's going to be sorted out on Monday. It would be right to call them showdown talks, and it looks as if I will probably be on my way. There is also loads of personal stuff which I need to sort out and talk about with Bryan Robson. A lot of the players like to have a drink and a bet. The situation is too much for me - the danger signs are there. I know if I keep on being exposed to drinking and gambling I am in danger of going back to my old ways. I made Bryan aware of my feelings in a conversation from Sweden on Friday. But this isn't an overnight decision on my part, which has come out while I'm away with England. I had three meetings with the club last year about getting away and no-one ever knew about it. Things were sorted out behind the scenes and everything was kept hush-hush. That's what I wanted to do again this time, but now the whole world knows." Villa's manager John Gregory is keen to land Merson, as the player he has been looking for to link up between midfield and attack. If Robbo does sell, he will be looking to at least recoup his 5 million pound investment in Merse, but Villa may well feel that is an unrealistic fee for a player past his 30th birthday. Merson explained: "I feel as if I have got to get away. Something has got to be done. Paul Gascoigne's name has been blown up as the reason why I am going because he is going to sell papers. But I'm not just blaming Gazza. That's just one thing that's been picked up on." Merson added that Boro's apparent lack of ambition was affecting his decision. "There are other things relating to the club. I went there to be part of a team that wanted to get back in the Premiership, but was also told I'd be part of a team that would win trophies. The fact they have not bought players and strengthened in certain areas of the team is a big part of my decision. Middlesbrough are not going to win anything this year."



Coopers Back

The Mirror has reported that Robbo is bringing old boy Colin Cooper back home to Boro in a 2.5 million pound deal. Cooper was reportedly locked in talks with Boro officials last night after Nottingham Forest agreed to sell him to the club where he learned his trade. Robbo plans to re-unite Cooper with Gary Pallister, another old-timer who has returned to Teesside for the Premiership battle ahead. Robbo stepped in for Cooper in a surprise move to take the tough defender away from Forest where he has been unsettled for some time. Cooper had been in talks with West Ham earlier this year but decided to stay at Forest, although the club are keen to sell because his contract is running out. Cooper was a big favourite at Boro before his old boss Bruce Rioch took him to Millwall. A one-time England squad member, Cooper's career was on the up at Forest until the last couple of seasons when he has been in and out of the side. However, Cooper's toughness and experience will be invaluable to Robbo.



Boro Legends In Top 100

Several Boro stars past and present are a prominent feature on the The Football League's commemorative list of '100 League Legends', which was drawn up to celebrate the organisation's forthcoming ceremony. Steve Bloomer, Alf Common (the first 1,000 pound signing in 1903), George Camsell (holds Boro's record for most goals in a season with 59), Wilf Mannion (legendary Boro wing wizard, George Hardwick, Nobby Stiles, Graeme Souness, present Boro manager Bryan Robson, and Paul Gascoigne.



Hanson Signs

Boro have handed a long-term contract to highly-rated local boy Christian Hanson on his 17th birthday. The centre-back, who has been selected for England squads at U16 and U18 level, has signed a four-year deal. Hanson is the sixth young player to be handed a long contract recently and Robbo said: "I want these kids to put pressure on established names."



Gillespie A No Go

On Sunday Boro would have completed a 3.5 million pound move for Newcastle winger Keith Gillespie. Robbo had agreed the fee for the Northern Ireland international, ending his long chase for a wide man. Gillespie's contract talks with Newcastle broke down and that prompted his move to the Riverside. Keith Gillespie's 3.5 million pound move to Boro has fallen through after the Northern Ireland international failed a medical. The latest twist in the deal comes following Newcastle boss Kenny Dalglish's anger at the announcement of the signing prior to the friendly clash between the two sides yesterday. Gillespie could now re-open talks with United over a new deal to stay at St James' Park. The player's agent, Ian Elliott, admitted that the deal fell through because the former Manchester United man would not be available for the start of the new season after failing to shrug off the ankle injury which kept him out of the FA Cup final in May. Gillespie was only half way through his medical before the deal was scrapped. A scan revealed damage to the ankle he injured at Tottenham in April. The injury will not threaten Gillespie's career but he will not be fit for two months.



Gordon Signs For 900k

Promoted Middlesbrough have signed Crystal Palace defender Dean Gordon on a four-year contract to clinch a £900,000 transfer. The former England Under-21 International will compete for a place as a central defender or left-back. Bryan Robson said "He is strong, powerful, quick and versatile. He has a great left foot and will a score a couple of spectacular goals a season. Dean also has Premiership experience.



Pallister Back At The Boro

Gary Pallister has completed his £2.5million move back to Middlesbrough from Manchester United. The 33-year-old former England centre-half has agreed a three-year contract with Boro nine years after he left Teesside in a then British record £2.3million switch to Old Trafford. Robson has needed an experienced defender to strengthen his defence following the departure of Derek Whyte and the retirement of Nigel Pearson. "I'm sure Pally will be a great signing" he said.



Juninho's Coming Home

Yes, it's true, well according to The Independent anyway... Juninho may be on his way back to Boro!! The paper reports that Robbo is in advanced negotiations with Atletico Madrid for Juno, who only left Boro in order to boost his chances of World Cup selection. Sadly, the little fella failed to make France 98 because of a broken leg. Boro chairman Steve Gibson reportedly has the 6 million pounds available it would need to bring Juno "home', and Robbo believes Juno's affection for the people of Teesside and the area in general would be enough to tempt him to return, possibly by as early as next week!!

Reports continue to surface that Juninho could be set to make a return to the Riverside. Apparently, the key factor is the managerial change at his present club Atletico Madrid. Arrigo Sachi has taken over the reigns at the Spanish side and has hinted at a clearout. Juno is still uncertain of his future after suffering a broken leg which led to him missing the World Cup, so if he is offered a move, then Boro's 'first option' clause comes into play. Juno has hinted he would favour a return to Boro, and reports have suggested that Robbo may get his man for as little as 6 million pounds, half the value he was sold for.



Gazza Left Out?

PAUL Gascoigne’s agent has accused Glenn Hoddle of being "brainwashed" into dropping the controversial England midfielder from his World Cup squad. Mel Stein went on to say that by leaving Gazza out of the final 22 for France, England coach Glen Hoddle has ruined his side’s chances of progressing from the group stages.

Stein said: "Personally I wasn’t very sure if we were going to win it even with Paul, but I think we had a real chance of getting to the quarter-finals or semi-finals. I think we will be lucky to get out of the group now. But I think they have destroyed England and I think Glenn Hoddle has been brainwashed by what he’s seen and what he’s heard in the media as much as what he’s seen and heard from Paul. Maybe when the next World Cup comes along, a different manager may take a different view. He may be the most experienced head in the next World Cup... there’s another European championship coming along and one hopes he’ll take part in that. He’s got Middlesbrough in the Premiership to look forward to. I’ve spoken to Bryan Robson, who’s obviously very concerned for him."



Five Fresh Faces For Boro

Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson has told local papers that he wants to sign five players, but is refusing to disclose thier names. The list of potential targets is huge. Among the names is Chealsea's Welsh international striker Mark Hughes, who has supposedly already began talks. He is expected to be made available on a free transfer this summer, as there is no place for him at the Blues' since the arrivals of Pierluigi Casiraghi and Brian Laudrup.

Manchester United's £5m-rated full-back Phil Neville is also linked to Middlesbrough. The word from Old Trafford is that United are ready to cash in on Neville, who was an omission from the England World Cup 22.

Another player who has been linked to Boro is Croatian international Davor Suker. Suker has struggled to establish a regular place in European Champions Real Madrid's recent line-up, and Spanish papers are linking him with the Boro.

Boro are reportedly intersted in Dutch International Patrick Kluivert, who could be made available this summer for around £8m after failing to make an anticipated impact in Serie A.

Unsettled Dion Dublin could lead to Robbo making a bid. Boro were willing to pay up to £5m for Dublin last season but the player decided to stay at Highfield Road. The figure this time will most probably be the same.

Manchester Uniteds' English defender Gary Pallister is set to sign for Middlesbrough once the World Cup is over, assuming that Japp Stam is not injured.

And the list goes on other potentials include Stuart Ripley, Stephane Guivarc’h, Moreno Torricelli and West Broms' Kevin Kilbane.



French Connection

Middlesbrough have renewed their interest in French ace Stephane Guivarc’h. The 27-year-old striker was on Bryan Robson’s wanted list throughout the promotion campaign, but he could not persuade Auxerre to part with their star man. Robson thinks the lure of Premiership football could be the key to snapping up the £6m rated striker - a vital part of the French World Cup squad.

Boro hope he can score goals in the same way as Fabrizio Ravanelli - but without the detrimental affect on team morale. A source said: "Guivarc’h is like Dennis Bergkamp - only stronger. He gets in the box quicker than Bergkamp and often to better effect. Boro have rivals for the player’s signature, possibly including Newcastle and Liverpool.

France have a strong team, but are short of clinical finishers, which is where Guivarc’h comes in as he is rated one of the best in the county. Robson is keen to have the deal done before the World Cup, as he doesn’t want a big money scramble for the player.



Boro Spending Spree

Gary Pallister is at the top of Bryan Robson’s list of targets. Boro’s promotion to the Premier League has guaranteed Robbo a multi-million-pound spending spree to strengthen his squad for the top flight. The move to try to bring Pallister home could come quickly, because Manchester United have just signed central defender Jaap Stam. The arrival of the £10m Dutchman at Old Trafford could tempt Alex Ferguson to part with former Boro defender Pallister, who is likely to replace retired Pearson.

Another player who continues to be strongly linked with Boro is their former Brazilian superstar Juninho. The magical midfielder has made a dramatic return to the Spanish First Division with Atletico Madrid after making a remarkable recovery from a broken leg. If Juninho proves his fitness in France, then Boro are bound to be interested in bringing him back - especially as the Spaniards probably still owe a large amount of cash on the transfer deal, which would make it easier to come to an agreement.

A further player who has been strongly linked with Boro interest is Sheffield United’s highly rated left-back Wayne Quinn.

Apart from these players Robson will be watching the international situation very closely. One of his previous targets, Gabriel Batistuta, has indicated that he will be leaving Fiorentina this summer. Italian skipper Paolo Maldini and defender Alessandro Costacurta and midfielder Demetrio Albertini are all expected to be part of a massive clear-out at AC Milan.



Dean Gordon and Co. not on shopping list

Boro have been linked with Crystal Palace full back Dean Gordon, who may wish to leave Selhurst Park now Palace have been relegated. This is unlikely though as Boro have watched him for some time without making a move, and are unlikely to do so now as Robson will feel he can bring in better players now.

The Brazilian utility player Fabio, brother-in-law of Emerson, has already returned to Rio. And goalkeeper Andy Dibble will be leaving the club at the end of his short contract.



Nigel Pearson is hanging up his boots

The 34 year old inspirational defender played his final match in Sunday's massive promotion showdown with Oxford. He has decided to call it a day after struggling on with a persistent knee injury.

Pearson was one of Bryan Robson's first signings, at £500,000 from Sheffield Wednesday four years ago He has led Boro to two promotions and three Wembley finals. Leading Boro to another promotion was a fitting end to a marvellous career.

Pearson is almost certain to step into coaching or management and will make a decision in the summer. Robson said today: "Nigel has managerial potential and is bound to get a job in the game. Stoke City are reported to want Pearson as manager. Sheffield Wednesday are believed to be ready to offer Nigel Pearson the role of assistant manager.



Sheringham Denies Move

Teddy Sheringham is apparently determined to stay with Manchester United, refuting reports yesterday that he was looking at a move to Boro. Sheringham said on Monday: "The first thing I knew about these rumours was from reading them in the papers, just like everyone else. It's news to me if I'm supposed to be going to another club - as far as I'm concerned, I want to stay at United next season. I'm very happy at Manchester United." - Too bad :-(



Boro Player Of The Year

The Boro Supporters Club player of the year award went to the Italian defender Gianluca Festa last night. It was the first of the season’s major awards ceremonies, which took place at the Cellnet Riverside Stadium. Festa, who has enjoyed a terrific season, topped the voting by the supporters’ club members. He received his award from David Fieldhouse. Craig Harrison’s remarkable progress this season was recognised when the 20-year-old left-back received the young player of the year. And Boro chairman Steve Gibson was there to receive a special award from the fans.



Branca

Robson's new signing from Inter Milan. He cost Steve Gibson about $3 million pounds, seems like a bargain when you look back to Fabrizio Ravanelli or more recently Paul Merson. He scored the winner on his debut to send Middlesbrough to their third cup final in two years, and got two more in his league debut against title contenders Sunderland. That makes three in his first two!! His character has yet to be seen though, lets hope he takes more of a shine to Juninho than Ravanelli or Emerson.



The Three Points

What do I think about what happened at the end of last season to Middlesbrough? I think it has to be the most un-sportsman like things that has happened to English football in the last decade! After having all our keepers injured, fights between players (Rav and Fleming), Fabrizo complaining about training and recovery facilities, Emerson not playing up to scratch and having to play a Coca-Cola cup replay as well as two finals we still had more points (thats including the points we should have got from the replay of the Blackburn game which the English FA told us to miss because we had too many players were out sick) than six teams. Four of which are currently playing in the Premier League. So what do I think? I think it SUX!



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