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Middlesbrough News

2002-2003 Season Fixtures

The fixtures for the 2002-2003 season are out,boro begin their campaign Southampton on Saturday August 17, the longest trip of the season. Beswick thinks we've got a great chance to get off the mark here. "This year we look at those opening four fixtures and have got to believe we will be several points ahead of where we were last time round."

Fulham are the first visitors to the Riverside the following Saturday, with a visit to Old Trafford on Wednesday August 28 the toughest game of the opening month, on paper at least. December could be the hardest month of the campaign, with home games against West Ham, Chelsea and Manchester United and trips to Arsenal and Aston Villa.

On the Transfer front Middlesbrough have abandoned their latest attempt to sign South African international striker Benni McCarthy. McClaren pulled the plug on a deal of around 6million which would finally have seen McCarthy's move from Spanish side Celta Vigo go through 10 months after they first attempted to sign him on loan. Boro's decision came as they prepared to unveil Italian Massimo Maccarone. Many have speculated that McClaren thought that McCarty was too similar a player to Maccarone and that he's after Malcome Christie for around 6m to play alongside Maccarone. Looks like Boksic is on his way out, he's reported to have said that he will defintily play in England next season but not sure if it will be for Boro. Its too bad he hasn't played well for us or at the World Cup it may have got us a nice transfer fee. Personally I'll be sad to see him go but as good as hes bee he hasn't lived up to his wages.

Transfer News:- Maccarone & Juninho

Two Boro stalwarts have left the club, Paul Ince and Robbie Mustoe both left on free transfers at the end of thier contracts this week. Steve McClarenw offered Ince a two-year extension but the midfielder has decided that the travelling from his north west home would be too much. He has spoken in the past about his desire to finish his career back in Serie A, where he enjoyed two successful seasons with Inter Milan, but the reasons behind his decision to leave Middlesbrough suggest he may now remain in England. McClaren told the club's official website: 'In an ideal world, we'd have liked Paul to stay. He was terrific for me last season and gave excellent service to the club for three years. Paul Ince added: 'I would like to thank the Middlesbrough fans for all their fantastic support during my three years as captain of the club.' Gareth Southgate has since been named Middlesbrough captain.

Only 24 hours later Boro had to say goodbye to Robbie Mustoe and this means that MccLaren has a huge gap to fill in central midfield. The 35-year-old was offered another 12 months at the club, but decided instead to end his 12-year association with Teesside spanning 454 league and cup games. Mustoe is a free agent, and although he is yet to commit himself to another club, both Derby and Leicester are understood to have been monitoring his situation. On the upside the departure of both Ince and Mustoe will further reduce both the wage bill and the age profile of the squad, two key constituents of the manager's remit when he took the job.

Bringing back memories of the big-spending Bryan Robson days Steve McClaren broke the club record transfer fee to land 8.15million Empoli striker Massimo Maccarone. The player, whose goals helped Empoli win promotion to Serie A last season, and his agent agreed a five-year contract weeks ago, but until all the financial mechanisms for the payment of the fee, were in place, Boro could not confirm the move. 'I'm absolutely delighted we have signed Massimo, especially as so many other clubs were interested in signing him,' he said. 'We beat everyone to his signature. A number of top Italian sides were interested in Maccarone but the lack of actual cash in Seria A this season meant they couldn't follow up thier interest. 'He is strong and quick, plays off the shoulder of defenders and, most importantly, he's a goalscorer. He's a good, all-round centre-forward and has the potential to develop and become an even better player.' Maccarone, who scored both goals for the Italian Under-21s in their 2-1 victory over England at the European Championships in Switzerland during May, was on target 24 times in 68 league games for Empoli after scoring 20 goals in just 28 games for Prato during the 1999-2000 season.

And the biggest news of all.... Middlesbrough has launched a shock bid to re-sign World Cup winner Juninho. Chief executive Keith Lamb brokered the Juninho deal after flying to Spain yesterday to meet officials from Atletico Madrid, and now the club will enter into negotiations with the 29-year-old and his representatives in a bid to push home their interest. Brazil midfielder Juninho is optimistic that a deal will be reached to secure his return to Middlesbrough. "I want to join Boro and I know the deal will be made, we agree on everything and it's just a matter of putting pen to paper, I will always be happy to return to the Premiership." "Ever since we came here, I've known about how much he's adored by the Boro fans,' McClaren told the 'We've followed his progress with Brazil throughout the year. He's back to full fitness and we decided he would be a tremendous asset to this football club. 'I know what kind of player he is and we've watched him very closely. He's a player who can do a similar job to (Benito) Carbone for us last year. I'm excited and hopefully it will come off." McClaren did not reveal how much the agreed price was for the player but it is understood that the fee involved is in the region of 6million, half the figure Atletico paid Boro for the player's services back in 1997. The signing of Juninho would go some way to filling the gap left by Ince and Mustoe. In his first stint at the boro he scored 15 goals. He was the Supporters' Player Of The Year, the Premier League Player Of The Year, he scored the club's Goal Of The Year and he was runner-up to Gianfranco Zola in the Football Writers' player of the year voting.

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