Gift Wrap Opportunity v Struggling Spurs
By Elise Brunton
Tuesday 15 Jan 2008 20:32:51
Browse all Match Previews articles
Some friends and I came up with a theory the other night that Boro have just had their legendary Christmas slump a little early this year, and will therefore be brilliant (and successful) over the festive period. Perhaps it was the aftershock talking, or maybe we are just living in winter wonderland, but Boro returning to form would certainly make my Christmas come early. 

Lets not kid ourselves here, Middlesbrough are in serious trouble, I could quote the statistics about games lost and missed opportunities here, but we all know them and besides it is far too depressing.  

But eternal optimist that I am (and a few more wouldn’t go a miss in the Boro stands) I still think we can get out of it.    

This depends largely on if we are willing to fight, it wasn’t the fact that Chelsea beat us, or that Sunderland snatched a draw from us, that was so very disheartening, it was the fact that we did absolutely nothing to stop them. 

They came to our ground expecting a battle and we just didn’t give it to them.  

Up next is Tottenham, they are having a bad season and have more injured defenders than fit ones. Sound familiar? 

Yes we have plenty in common with tomorrow’s rivals but we must show that we’ve got something extra. Maybe that special something will come from our local youngsters, or our seasoned professionals, or our new pacy French striker, it doesn’t matter. Where the extra something comes from is not important, but we need something special to pull us out of our slump.

 Spurs are not spectacular opposition at the best of times, and this season they are keeping us company in the bottom half of the table with good reason.  

 The unnamed editor of the Spurs fansite would have you believe that Tottenham are a fantastic side who are just not playing well this season, whereas Boro are just a poor team. He/She (who knows?) said: “Unlike Spurs, Middlesbrough are not in the bottom four because they are woefully underachieving – they are simply a poor side once again this season”.  ( 

Well to the no-doubt lovely people at the Cockerel, remember pride comes before a fall. 

 Are we a poor side? We are an under-strength side, we are a side full of injuries and we are a side where a few of our players are just not playing as well as they should be. 

Woodgate looks lacklustre at present, Downing will no doubt get some stick from the fans for his bad decisions and generally poor play against Man Utd, and we are seriously missing Arca. 

On a brighter note, Aliadiere has got his first goal for us (you see, all you doubters I told you last week that he’d score) and will be brimming with confidence against his old London rivals.

He said: “The goal has taken a bit of the weight off my shoulders.

“It was a relief. In my head, I was beginning to get disappointed and wondering when the first goal was going to come."

And he is happy to be playing for Boro, rather than waiting in the wings at Arsenal.

Aliadiere said: “I didn't feel that I was really involved in what was happening at Arsenal, Just because you help them win a few games in the Carling Cup doesn't mean that you feel properly involved in everything that's going on.

“This season, I feel totally involved in what's happening at Middlesbrough. I play in the team every week and I feel more like it's my club.

“This is the most settled I've ever felt. I'm very happy to have found a club where the manager gives me an opportunity to play every week. He lets me show what I can do without any restrictions.

“I am free to play and that is great for me.” (Northern Echo)

Fellow striker Tuncay also looked more settled and proved much more effective last week, even assisting in Ali’s goal. With Mido out once again, it will fall to these two to provide goals.

 From Spurs point of view, they have a new manager, Juande Ramos, three defenders missing, Ledley King, Anthony Gardner and Gareth Bale who scored against us in the Carling Cup defeat, and Younes Kaboul, a player so poor in his last game against Blackpool that he was taken off amid a crowd of boos and insults.

  This is a team we can beat and we need to believe that. 

There are the usual bloodthirsty fans calling for Gareth to get the axe, but Steve Gibson seems to have once again pledged public support to his struggling manager. According to The Independent today, a ‘source close to’ Gibson said: “If this is a tough year, then it's a tough year, but nobody's getting sacked.” 

Rumours are also flying that Gibson will give Gareth a cash injection to help him sign a new striker come January (The Times). 

We would appear to be sticking with our club manager (at least for now) but MFC have let commercials manager Graham Fordy go after 14 years at the club.

 The statement read: “Graham leaves the club with our best wishes and thanks for his work and commitment in leading our commercial team at Ayresome Park and through our first 12 years at the Riverside.” 

The official line is ‘by mutual consent’ – isn’t it always? - but Fordy’s departure will make some of the MFC staff nervous. Let’s just hope the mood doesn’t transfer to the players. 

We need Woodgate to play like he did last season, everyone to be on form, and a few more tackles wouldn’t go a miss (I’m talking to you Mr Downing, amongst others).

Oh yes and we need goals, Spurs shoddy defence is begging to be ripped apart by Ali’s pace and Rocky’s power. 

 A gift-wrapped opportunity to bag some points before Christmas.    

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