Spyin' Kop: Middlesbrough (H) 23/08/08

Posted by Rhi on August 21, 2008, 08:57:35 PM

After a good win courtesy of a cracker by Fernando Torres (who else?) at Sunderland comes our first home match of the season - Middlesbrough. Last season’s corresponding encounter saw a superb Torres hat-trick and a somewhat undeserved sending off for Aliadiere late on. A similarly tough match can be expected on Saturday from an improving Boro side who started the season with a good win over Spurs.

Barclays FA Premier League

Saturday August 23rd 2008
Kick-Off: 3pm

Middlesbrough Honours:
League Cup
Winners 2003-04
Runners up 1996-97, 1997-98

Runners up 2005-06

FA Cup
Runners up 1996-97

Football League First Division
Champions 1994-95
Runners up 1997-98

Football League Second Division
Champions 1926-27, 1928-29, 1973-74
Runners up 1901-02, 1991-92

Football League Third Division
Runners up 1966-67, 1986-87

FA Amateur Cup
Winners 1894-95, 1897-98

Anglo-Scottish Cup
Winners 1976

Zenith Data Systems Cup
Runners up 1990

I spoke to the guys at smogchat to get their thoughts on the upcoming fixture. Many thanks to shefsmog, markyah1983, borocooper and boromuda for their answers.

Usually one of the first questions we ask is ‘how is the season shaping up so far?’ … but since that seems a little redundant this early on, how do you rate your pre-season preparations?

Shefsmog: Pre season went well, only lost once, to a team in the CL qualifiers. Good start against the spuds. There is room for improvement, but it’s promising at the moment.

Markyah1983: Preseason seemed very positive. The friendlies don't mean a lot but we got rid of a lot of older players who weren't really contributing and bought in younger players who seem promising.

Borocooper: Pre Season was pretty good IMO..we looked capable of grabbing goals and our kids put on a good show when they were called upon. There was definitely reason to be optimistic, which isnt something we're used to.

Boromuda: Pre-season looked good. Lots of goals towards the end of it against some fairly decent opposition.

And your new signings? Are you pleased? How are they settling in?

Ss: New signings – difficult to judge as Digard came on as a late sub. Did well seems to be comfortable on the ball, Emnes wasn’t used, but by all accounts they’ve had good a pre season.

M: The new signings have been bought for the future but seem pretty good and may have some contributions to make now.

Bc: Happy with most of the new signings..have seen little of Emnes, only youtube vids of goals at Sparta but he looks promising, good dribbler, good shot and pace to burn..look forward to seeing more of him.
Digard the same..havent seen much but seems a solid defensive midfielder with a bit of a brain and a good shot.
Not to sure about Hoyte..the jury is out on that one.

Bm: Digard looked really solid when he came on. I liked the look of Emnes on the right in pre-season...seemed pretty quick and offers us more option going forward.

Our own problems between boardroom and manager are well documented, how are things behind the scenes at Boro? Are you happy with the job the manager is doing? Are you happy with the backing the board have given him?

Ss: Boardroom – Gibson is a true legend, never hogs the limelight and only speaks out when he feels he needs to. AS for GS, I’m happy enough at the moment but I’m looking for some real improvement this season.

M: Boardroom - Gibson is fantastic, it would be nice if he was richer I guess but wouldn't swap him for anyone. Kieth Lamb the chief exec was disliked on Teeside for many years but I think has done a decent job and recently is becoming more popular i think.

Bc: Gareth is doing a sound job as far as im concerned..he's had his ups and massive downs since he took over and I was calling for his head around the middle of last season but he's picked the team up, brought in some good young players and Alves to score us some goals. This season has to be the season where he pushes on though..The board have backed him well. Gibbo is still the best chairman in football.

Bm: What else can you say about Gibson...best Chairman in the Premier League. Just wish he has Abramovic's cash!!

What are your expectations for this season?

Ss: Expectations – top 10

M: Expectations. As long as we stay up i'll be happy enought but I don't see any teams outside the top 4 who are that much better than us. Midtable is probably where we'll end up.

Bc: I want nothing less than a top 10 finish..top 8 would be brilliant. Bottom half of the table again would dissapoint me no end..

Bm: Expectations - mid table in the league and hopefully a couple of good cup runs with maybe an appearance in a final.

Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

Ss: Most important players – downing, alves, tuncay, pogatetz

M: Most important players. Downing - much better than the majority of people give him credit for. Alves - the only really natural finisher we have. Brad Jones - if he can prove himself to be Premier League quality it should mean that at the very least we can shut down a game and grind out a result if needed. Huth - if he can stay healthy he's immense.

Bc: Downing is our most imporant player and was easily our best last season. Alves is obviously imporant too as he's the man to score the goals, but he cant score without chances and Downing is the main source. Also hoping to see more from Tuncay.

Bm: Most important players - Alves, Downing, Tuncay, Wheater

Your worst player(s)?

Ss: Worst players – Arca

M: Worst player - Not a fan of Arca, most the rest are pretty solid if in some cases nothing special either.

Bc: Definitely Arca...im not a fan of Brad Jones either.

Bm: Worst - not sure if he is the worst but I'm always worried when the ball goes near our keep (whoever it will be), haven't got much confidence in either of them.

Do you have a particular memory of any previous meeting between our clubs?  Say something that happened to you that day or a decision you disagreed with?

Ss: Memories – obvious was the 3-3 draw, Ravanelli’s debut and hat trick

M: Memories - Coca Cola cup semi in 98 when we went 2-0 up inside 4 mins.

Bc: Anything we might have disagreed with? The Aliadiere sending off obviously : P Also the 3-3 game with Ravs hat-trick. Was my first game as a season ticket holder

Bm: Memories of games - has to be the semi final when we were 2-0 up in 4 minutes aswell....I was living in Liverpool at the time and got chased out of the Finch and Firkin on Smithdown Road by a bunch of angry Scousers then stopped by the police for running down the middle of Smithdown Road with my shirt over my head Ravanelli-style!

Any young up and coming players in the squad that we might not know about?

Ss: Up & coming – we keep producing them, unlike some teams who just buy in and claim as their own. Graeme Owens (midfield), Josh Walker (midfield),

M: Up and coming - Rhys Williams could potentially be the perfect foil to Wheater, Josh Walker in the middle is the reason Cattermole was expendable, many others who while they may not become stars are able to do a job without looking too out of place.

Bc: Well..if you dont know Adam Johnson, you need too. Josh Walker had a cracking pre season and I expect for you to bid for both of them in the next 2 years.

Bm: Up and coming - Loads of them, the reserves are packed with home grown youngsters , any of whom could get a chance in the first team in the next year or so.

What sort of line-up will be put out against us?

Ss: Line up for Saturday – I’d stick with the one from last week, solid in the centre, but with some attacking flair.

M: Line up - I expect it will be same again. Personally i'd but Hoyte in at right back and shift everyone over and put Taylor on the bence. Its possible Digard may start if Southgate opts of a bit more of a defensive lineup.

Bc: Same as last week...I guess there's a chance Hoyte might come in at right back meaning Wheater will move back into a central position in place of Huth or Pog..

Bm: Line-up - pretty much the same as the Spurs game. Maybe debuts for Hoyte and Emnes too.

Do you have any favourite/best chant(s) and perhaps any that require an explanation?

Bc: "Lets go f*cking mental, lets go f*cking mental..na na na na na oo" Creative isnt it?

Bm: Chants - none or ours are too cryptic really.

Where do you expect yourselves, and Liverpool to finish in the Premier League?

Ss: Top 10 finish for both teams, you’ll probably get into top 4 again

Bc: 9th for us would be nice...4th for you.

Bm: Finishes - Boro hopefully top half 8-10th, Liverpool 3rd, I reckon Arsenal are going to struggle a bit this season and slip to 4th, with Man U and Chelsea 1st and 2nd.

Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?

Ss: Torres – can get something from nothing

M: Torres - a class apart in the Premier League. Gerrard is good but to often seems to try and win a game on his own for you.

Bc: Torres after the way he battered us last season...and Robbie Keane.

Bm: Liverpool player - has to be Torres, dangerous anywhere near the goal.

Care to predict the score?

Ss: In our predictor I’ve gone for a 2-1 to Liverpool, but I think we can get something out of the game if keep Torres quiet.

M: I'll go for a 3-1 Liverpool win but I could see anyscore from 5-0 to you to 3-0 to us happening.

Bc: 2-2

Bm: Score - 2-1 to Boro to continue a good start to the season for us.

Finally, who are your predictions for the winners of the following?
Premier League
FA Cup
Carling Cup
Champion’s League

Ss: Prem – Man Utd
FAC - Everton
CC – Boro
CL – AC Milan

M: I think liverpool will come 4th. (Unimagnative i know but the other 3 are better and everyone else is worse).

Prem - Chelsea
FAC - Man U
CC - Arsenal
CL – Chelsea

Bc: Premier League - Man Utd but Chelsea will take them all the way again
FA Cup - Chelsea
Carling Cup - Us would be nice
Champion’s League - Inter..they've got to be good in it one year

Bm: Prem - Chelsea
FA Cup - Villa
League Cup - Liverpool
CL - Inter

Thanks again to the guys at smogchat for their answers

© Rhi 2008

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