Writer: J P Fear
Date:Saturday February 4 2006
1) So what is going on at Boro, you seem to be in free fall?
I don't believe we are in freefall. We have been blighted with injuries over the past two seasons to key players such as Mendieta, Downing, McMahon, Queudrue to name just a few. Its the view of Critics and Pundits alike that a full Middlesbrough squad 'on paper' would be a top six team, and I fully agree with that.
2) What is your impression of McClaren? He seems an over rated and very poor manager to me.
To say Steve is over-rated and poor is I think, a bit harsh. Of course we haven't had the best of seasons, but he has delivered our first major trophy which allowed us to compete in Europe, and then delivered our second European campaign the following season by helping us to finish seventh in the Premiership. By all accounts, McClaren has proven himself to be the most successful manager in Boro history.
3) Would you guys like to swap Steve Gibson for Doug Ellis?! From an outsiders point of view it looks like Gibson is the perfect chairman, keeps faith in his manager, puts his own money in and doesn't make embarrassing public statements like Old Dougy boy. What do you think about your chairman?
I do agree that Gibbo is one of the best chairman in the league. Gibson is an all out Boro fan who would stop at nothing to help our club succeed and he has proven this since 1986 when he rescued us from Administration. It may not be well known, but Boro certainly aren't capable of competing, at least financially with the likes of Newcastle, Tottenham and other clubs we are supposedly challenging for honours, but our Chairman always dips into his own pocket to help even the odds and sign players well out of our price range. As for the press, you are right. Gibbo doesn't really disclose information to the press as much as the likes of Allardyce, Mourinho, Ferguson or O'Leary, but he does say things when necessary to defend his club's position. I wouldn't swap Gibbo for a Russian Billionaire
4) Who do you fear most in the Villa squad on Saturday?
Villa have very good players, and I believe every one of them will pose a threat on Saturday if we are not up to scratch. I am particularly fond of Liam Ridgewell who is capable of moving forward from his defensive position. Steven Davis and Gareth Barry have proven themselves to be key players this season and will most likely make life difficult for Boro. Milan Baros is doubtful, but he has proven himself, although not playing in a lot of games so far, he can hit the back of the net. The same with Kevin Phillips, who I have always had respect for.
5) Who should Villa fear in your squad? Yakubu is due back to the starting line-up, who has also proven himself to be one of the best strikers in the league over the past three years. The only person to score more goals than him in the league during that amount of time is Thierry Henry.
Youngsters such as hard tackling Cattermole, the return of wing wonder Stewart Downing, who has assisted three goals in two games and the likes of Mendieta and Hasselbaink will be more determined than ever after our 3-0 win over Sunderland in mid-week. Its time that our more experienced players started to show their worth, rather than our youngsters playing magnificently and being let down by our older players.
6) Are you worried about relegation, or have you got the quality to pull you out of trouble?
Of course our League position would suggest we are in for a fight, but I believe we have the quality to stay up. Once we have a full squad, on paper, we are capable of beating the best. Previous results such as Arsenal, United, drawing with Liverpool and our undeserved loss against Chelsea would suggest this. The problem is we have also labelled ourselves the scape goat for the weaker teams in the league.
7) Where do you think you'll end up in the league?
If we can salvage a full squad with at least 8 games remaining, I believe we can at least achieve a mid-table position. We need to get a run going, and with a full squad I don't see why we can't. The challenge will be to prove we are more than a mid-table team in the following season by keeping our better players, keeping injuries to a minimum and starting to show our true potential as we did last season.
8) What is your prediction for the match on Saturda?.
Boro and Villa are both under-achieving this season. I cant really see Villa beating Boro on Saturday, although they will no doubt be determined to hand over an upset. A 2-1 victory to Boro or a 1-1 Draw are the more likely scorelines.
2-1: Yakubu, Hasselbaink and Steve Davis.
1-1: Yakubu and Steve Davis.
Date:Saturday February 4 2006
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