Looking Forward



Premier League

Saturday 28th September 2002

While Middlesbrough have never really set the pulses racing, it is true to say that they are undergoing a bit of a revival.  Under the management of Steve McClaren, they are picking up points and making a move up the table.

Gone are the days of big money, older continental players coming in to boost their pensions, but now it is more judicious spending of chairman Gibson's money, with Maccarone and the loan import Geremi, two good players have been melded into the side.

The defence has always been Boro's strength and with Southgate due to return, he will line up alongside his former Villa team-mate Ehiogu; both players were said to be targets for Tottenham in the recent past.  Festa has moved on and Colin Cooper finds himself down the queue for a starting place these days, especially with Aussie Tony Vidmar being brought in as another defender.  This is the strong heart of the defence, but on the flanks there might be some room to profit, with Stockdale and Queudrue both attacking minded and leaving space behind them as they go.  Behind them, there is the good shot stopped Schwarzer, who, for a big man, is surprisingly poor on crosses.  It was seen in the game at the Riverside stadium last season that there can be chances created by low crosses into the box too.

In midfield, Boro have been strengthened by Geremi's presence.  He is a strong runner, who breaks into the box and also a player who can break up attacks before they get started.  Boateng is a similar player and might be added to the team, with Jonathan Greening providing more running with some smart passing to set the forwards up.  Others who might be included in the midfield are former striker Noel Whelan and Argentinian Carlos Marinelli, who is very skillful, but not that keen on the hard work part of the game.  Former Man U man Mark Wilson might feature if injuries strike, but with more emphasis on trying to pick up points away, the midfield will no doubt be predominantly defensive.

Up front Alen Boksic is to be chosen alongside new Italian wonder boy Massimo Maccarone.  Boksic might not have the legs of his younger years, but he's still sharp enough in his head to cause problems for any defence.  If Tottenham can prevent him getting near the ball, then they could eliminate him from the game.  Maccarone might be harder to quieten.  He has very good movement and is an expert in the finisher's art.  With many injuries in defence, we will need to maintain our concentration to make sure he is not left alone.  Joseph Desire-Job and Szilard Nemeth are both capable to notching goals, as they have done this season, if they are called on.

This is a match that will see Fergie's number two face our team just a week after we lost to Manchester United, so it will be interesting to see the differences in approach by the two managers.  For Tottenham, it is important to keep picking up points while we can, but with the unlucky 13 injuries, the side more or less picks itself.  It would not surprise me to see Blondel given his first start if Ziege doesn't make it against his old team, while Robbie Keane will be anxious to get off the mark ,but will not mind if he doesn't and we still win.

A tight game, but Boro have been unsuccessful on their travels and even with a reduced squad to choose from Tottenham should just edge this one ... 

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham 2    Middlesbrough  1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.

Not too sure, but this might be the first time Chelsea fan Poll has officiated at WHL since he denied us a penalty in the Worthington Cup Final. If you get a chance, you might just want to mention this on the site before the game tomorrow.



Tottenham  0   Middlesbrough  3   (Half-time score : 0-1)
Saturday 28th September 2002
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Warm, bright sun, some cloud
Crowd : -  36,082
Referee : -  G. Poll (Herts)
Teams : -  Tottenham : -  Keller; Ziege (Doherty 13), Thatcher, Richards, Davies; Bunjevcevic, Etherington, Iversen (Acimovic 67), Redknapp; Ferdinand (Sheringham 46), Keane
Unused Subs : - Hirschfeld, Ricketts

Middlesbrough : -  Scwarzer; Syockdale, Ehiogu, Southgate, Quedurue; Boateng (Wilkshire 88), Geremi, Job, Greening; Boksic, Maccarone
Unused subs : - Crossley, Cooper, Whelan, Marinelli

Colours : -  Tottenham -  White shirts, Navy blue shorts, White socks with navy blue turnover.

Middlesbrough -  Red shirts, red shorts, red socks with white turnover

Scorers : -  Tottenham -  None

Middlesbrough - Maccarone 32, Geremi 55, Job 58

Cards : -  Tottenham -  Davies (foul) 75

Middlesbrough - Queudrue (foul) 86

With a good run behind us ended by defeat at Old Trafford, this game was one to get ourselves back on track, but Tottenham ended up derailed by a rampant Boro side.

There should be no disgrace in losing to the team put out by Steve McClaren, as they passed, moved and tackled like they meant it.  Spurs didn't.  When you look at our performance, the crossing was poor, the movement was statuesque and the tackling was non-existent.  Boro deservedly own for doing all the simple things correctly and Tottenham didn't have an answer to that.

Although Spurs had a few chances, Boro had more and the scoreline was not accurate in reflecting the play of this match.  With better finishing, it could have been three by half time and six by the end.  No wonder Glenn Hoddle called it the poorest match under his management here.  Why was Ziege chosen, when he had only returned to the club in midweek and then limped off with seemingly the same injury that ruled him out last week ??  While the injuries are hitting the squad, would it have been better to play a defender at right back than Simon Davies, who might have added some bite to our tame midfield ??  Would it not have been more advisable to play someone else up front than Ferdinand, who surely played into the hands of Boro's Ehiogu ??

Doherty hit the post from a Sheringham corner and Keane headed over from Acimovic, while Etherington had a shot saved and both Redknapp and Keane shot wide.  There were the two penalty appeals which Mr. Poll waved away in his usual perfunctory manner when Tottenham are involved.  Apart from that, Spurs rarely got in the box to get anything on goal or get brought down.  Schwarzer could hardly have had a quieter game in the 199 he had played for Boro leading up to this one.

On the other side of the coin, Boro hit the post twice, there were three good blocks in front of goal, two crosses went across the six yard box with no-one there to apply the finishing touch and Keller made four decent saves to keep the ball out.  And that was all on top of the three goals they did score.  Maccarone tapped in from close range at the second attempt after the ball ricocheted around the Tottenham six yard box, almost in slow-motion.  After the break, Maccarone broke on the left and squared the ball into acres of space, where Geremi picked his spot and fired past Kasey.  Then a few minutes later, Job was presented the ball when Boro broke from a promising Spurs attack and the Cameroonian striker beat Keller one-on-one.  Straight from the kick off, it was almost four, when the Italian forward was set through and Keller parried the ball sideways and Doherty had to hack clear.

With some difficult matches coming up with our depleted squad, the need for some fresh legs is uppermost.  With the transfer window having been slammed shut in August, there is no option, but to use those players at the club and this might mean giving some of the younger players their head until the recovered stars return.  Also, it might mean not playing players, just because they are established stars even though obviously not fit.

Whatever happens, the results cannot be allowed to undermine our decent start to the season and that might mean some hard lessons for the team, as I hope Hoddle sounded out to them in the hour he had them in the dressing room after this match.


Mark Scarth




For a few games now, Tottenham have gotten away with it.  Today their luck ran out as they were over-run by Middlesbrough.  They are words I never thought I would say, but Boro were well worth their three points today, so much so that Tottenham were not even at the races.

Coming home on the radio, Lawrie McMenemy was propounding his theory that Robbie Keane should be played deep as that is his best position and that Hans Segers had said that Keano was not the best finisher at the club. As the caller begged to be informed "Why did we sign him then ?"  Robbie played up front for Leeds and does for Ireland, so why should he suddenly change position when he plays for us ?  He was bought to give us something different up front and we all hoped that was someone who would score goals.  I am sorry, but he ain't gonna do that from way inside his own half.  We want him to be in and around the box, where if he is not scoring, he is causing enough problems for the opposition defence that they are bringing him down in the area or leaving other players unmarked.

Many comments were laid at the feet of Massimo Maccarone, who was supposed to have caused us problems all afternoon.  Well, given the amount of space that our defence awarded him, I could have caused us problems.  It was not that he did anything amazing, just utilised what was there to the best effect.  The real concern was the way our midfield failed to win the ball and failed to close down others.  The players who really affected the outcome of this match were Geremi and Boateng.  Two players who were available this summer, but ones that Tottenham overlooked.  Both players who can pass the ball well, but mainly after they have won it themselves and then they made runs to give options to their team-mates.  We had nobody like that in our side today.

There were too many under-par performances from the white shirted players and while a lot of stick was pointed towards Thatcher, this was mainly for him getting caught on the ball.  This was due to three things.  One, he was not skillful enough to beat his man and make a thrilling run down the wing.  Secondly, he was given the ball in a poor position, meaning he had a man right on top of him within seconds of receiving it.  Lastly, he had no option in who he could give it to.  This is the most worrying, as the players who did not have the ball mainly failed to make an angle for Ben to pass it to them, thus leaving him to thump it away or try something, which today ended with him losing the ball to his marker.  I'm not saying that he was blameless, but his colleagues didn't make things easy for him.

It was symptomatic of the need for fresh legs, as the players looked jaded and there was no stand out performance from anyone in the side.  Keller made some good stops, but everyone else had bad games.  Without wanting to single people out, Richards and Doherty looked slow in their minds rather than their feet, in reacting to any danger that occurred, while Bunjy played out another match without making a noticeable contribution.

Blondel was not in the sixteen, Ricketts was on the bench, but not called on, even though he might have been a bit of a biting midfielder.  Ronnie Henry, on the bench last week, was missing again and with Johnnie Jackson, who might have filled a left back berth, on loan at Swindon, there was little alternative than to field the team Hoddle did.  However, it might be nice to give players their positions in the area of the pitch that they are accustomed to.

Boro showed what could be done with a bit pf pass and move.  It is something we should know already, but if not, it is something that they should learn from quickly.  After all, it was what won Tottenham the 1951 First Division championship !!

Peter Grantley



Other scores this weekend :

Birmingham City  0    Newcastle United  2 
Bolton Wanderers  1    SCBC  1
Charlton Athletic  1    Manchester United  3   
Chelsea  2    West Ham United  3   
Everton  2   Fulham  0   
Leeds United  1    Arsenal  4   
Manchester City  0   Liverpool  3  
Sunderland  1    Aston Villa  0  
WBA  0     Blackburn Rovers  2  (Monday)


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Arsenal 8 6 2 0 21 8 20
2 Liverpool 8 5 3 0 18 8 18
3 Middlesbrough 8 4 2 2 11 5 14
4 Manchester United 8 4 2 2 9 6 14
5 Chelsea 8 3 4 1 15 11 13
6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 8 4 1 3 11 12 13
7 Leeds United 8 4 0 4 11 9 12
8 Fulham 7 3 2 2 12 8 11
9 Blackburn Rovers 8 3 3 2 10 8 12
10 Everton 8 3 2 3 11 11 11
11 Newcastle United 7 3 1 3 10 8 10
12 Aston Villa 8 3 0 5 6 9 9
13 WBA 7 3 0 4 6 11 9
14 Birmingham City 8 2 2 4 8 10 8
15 Manchester City 8 2 2 4 7 12 8
16 Sunderland 8 2 2 4 3 10 8
17 Bolton Wanderers 7 2 1 4 9 13 7
18 SCBC 8 1 4 3 4 8 7
19 Charlton Athletic 8 2 1 5 7 13 7
20 West Ham United 7 1 2 4 7 14 5

Back to homepage