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Preview Spurs v Middlesbrough, 27.10.01

Here is Brian Judson's preview of the game

Full Record of Spurs -v- Middlesbrough

Prem          Pl  W  D  L   For- Ag  Pts
Home           6  1  3  2    6 -  9   6
Away           6  2  2  2    6 -  6   8
Total(Prem)   12  3  5  4   12 - 15  14
Football Lge
Home(Div 1)   25 15  4  6   62 - 40  36
Away(Div 1)   25  3  6 16   25 - 52  13
Total(Div 1)  50 18 10 22   87 - 92  49
Football Lge
Home(Div 2)    1  0  0  1    2 -  5   0
Away(Div 2)    1  0  0  1    0 -  3   0
Total(Div 2)   2  0  0  2    2 -  8   0
Total(Prem)   12  3  5  4   12 - 15  14
Total(Div 1)  50 18 10 22   87 - 92  49
Total(Div 2)   2  0  0  2    2 -  8   0
Grand Total   64 21 15 28  101 -115  63

Brian's full preview can be read below. On the face of it, this should be a home banker, and Spurs should consolidate their position in the top half. However, as you can see by reading "Declan's Last 5", Middlesbrough do not often get a "form" result at White Hart Lane. They got a useful 2-0 win against North-Eastern rivals Sunderland on Monday night, with goals from Boksic, and new boy Queudrue (on loan from French club Lens). Although Paul Ince was sent off, he will still be available this week.

Middlesbrough still have a goal difference of -7, despite having ex-Villa defenders (and England hopefuls) Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu in their side. Spurs will not be able to call upon Tim Sherwood, who must serve a one match suspension following his dismissal in the Worthington cup clash at Tranmere. A greater concern though will be Taricco's fitness. If he is unavailable, who will fill the right wing-back slot? My guess would be for Simon Davies to continue where he admirably left off on Sunday at St. James Park.

Spurs have won both their games in the North-East this season, and despite the possible upset, I do predict a convincing win at the Lane for the Lilywhites, and a continuation of the kind of form that will have even the potential champions at Elland Road a little worried about the next game on Sunday November 4th. Then the countdown will begin for a certain little fixture we have been keenly waiting for - on November 17th!

Brian's Preview

This week's match is between two teams that have changed their manager and their playing style this season. When the clubs last met in December of last year, Middlesbrough had effectively sacked Bryan Robson as Manager, though he lingered on into the summer and Terry Venables took the helm as Chief Coach with the mission to avoid the drop. When Venables left to take up his appointment as a pundit with ITV Sport in the summer, he had achieved the target that he had been set. Robson, by contrast, was a sad and forlorn figure as he had to watch Venables deciding the tactics and picking the team. Spurs, of course, had their own problems last season, which are well known and need no further rehearsal here. With the minimal of changes, both sides have improved their playing squads and have started to ease out players who have nothing further to contribute.

Middlesbrough have no pedigree of success in their history and can only point to successes in the late 19th Century and a couple of appearances at Wembley in the late 20th Century. Unlike Newcastle United and Sunderland, Middlesbrough have never attracted the headlines. Their best season in the Championship was as long ago as 1950-51 when they finished 6th after leading the championship in the autumn. They have had famous goalscorers such as George Camsell, who twice scored 5 goals in a Football League match, and Brian Clough, old big 'ead himself, who scored 5 goals against Brighton in 1958 in a 9-0 thrashing. Camsell scored 59 goals for Middlesbrough in season 1926-27, which was a League record until Bill Dean scored 60 for Everton the following season.

Spurs and Middlesbrough share the unhappy distinction of being relegated from the old Division One with the most points in season 1927-28. Spurs had 38 points and Middlesbrough 37. Derby County were 4th with 44 points.

Because Middlesbrough spent so much time outside top flight football following their relegation with Liverpool at the end of season 1953-54 (before I started to attend WHL matches) and their return to the top flight in 1974, I do not recall seeing many matches between the two clubs at Tottenham. Those I do recall were usually horrors, including that infamous 4-0 thrashing in the Football League Cup in September 1974 in the wake of Bill Nicholson's resignation as Manager after 16 years. Spurs were horrible that night and Middlesbrough ran rings around us.

A few seasons earlier, we played Middlesbrough three times in the Third Round of the Football League Cup. We snatched a draw at Ayresome Park, thanks to a goal by Jimmy Pearce. In the replay at Tottenham, we sat through two hours of fumbling football without a solitary goal. A fortnight later, we had a second match at Tottenham and this time we won 2-1, although, again, the match went to extra time. Gilzean and Peters scored the goals that enabled us to play Millwall two nights later. We went on to beat Norwich City in the poorest Final I have ever seen Spurs play in.

Over the last few years, of course, Middlesbrough have been a bit of a yo-yo team, not good enough for top flight football but too good for the Football League. However, Steve McClaren seems to be changing things at the Cellnet Stadium (will they rename it mmo2 if the BT demerger goes through?) and I suspect Middlesbrough will soon be challenging for a place in Europe once McClaren has sorted his squad out and paid off the old timers.

I take Spurs to win as their confidence will be higher than Middlesbrough's but it won't be a walkover. I suspect, too, the goals will be late in coming ......


Cheers, Brian

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