Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey - Preview Middlesbrough (H) - 28.09.02
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Preview Spurs v Middlesbrough, 28.09.02

Here is Brian Judson's preview of the game

Full Record of Spurs -v- Middlesbrough

Prem          Pl  W  D  L   For- Ag  Pts
Home           7  2  3  2    8 - 10   9
Away           7  2  3  2    7 -  7   9
Total(Prem)   14  4  6  4   15 - 17  18
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)   14  4  6  4   15 - 17  18
Total(Div 1)  50 18 10 22   87 - 92  49
Total(Div 2)   2  0  0  2    2 -  8   0
Grand Total   66 22 16 28  104 -117  67

If Tottenham are serious in wanting to qualify for another attempt on winning a chance to play in Europe next season, this week's match provides the sort of opportunity for them to prove conclusively that things are indeed looking up. Middlesbrough have no serious claims to fame as their only major honours board listing is winning the FA Amateur Cup on two occasions at the tail end of the Victorian era. However, in recent seasons, Middlesbrough have thrice battled their way to Wembley, only to fall at the final hurdle.

Middlesbrough's best days in the top flight were around the start of the 1950s when they had a side that chased Tottenham home to the League Championship in 1950-51 but could not sustain their challenge. They were unlucky enough to be relegated from the top flight on a number of occasions, once being accompanied by Tottenham in that most freakish of seasons, 1927-28. Usually 38 points, under the two points for a win system, was enough to guarantee safety but neither Spurs nor Middlesbrough, who had 37, were safe. Yet Derby County, who finished 4th, only accumulated 44 points.

Like many clubs, Middlesbrough have had their financial problems and were forced to reform in 1986. At one point, they were locked out of their ground and manager Bruce Rioch was forced to perform training sessions in a local park.

Middlesbrough are probably best known as the club Brian Clough began his career with. Most of his football was played in Division 2. I never saw Clough Senior play as far as I can remember. By the time Sunderland returned to the First Division at the end of season 1962-63, I think he had already sustained the injury that ended his career. although he did not call it a day until the summer of 1964.

Over the years, Spurs have usually beaten Middlesbrough at White Hart Lane. The worst defeat I can recall us sustaining was the League Cup tie on the day we finally became aware that Bill Nicholson had tendered his resignation following our awful start to season 1974-75. We were dreadful that night, totally dispirited and lacking in fight. That was Middlesbrough's first season back in the top flight after a long absence.

Another home defeat that sticks out in my mind was the one we sustained on the opening day of season 1979-80. Hoddle scored the only Spurs goal in our 3-1 defeat. The Spurs side that day was Daines; Lee, Gordon Smith, Yorath, Lacy, Perryman, Pratt (sub Chris Jones), Ardiles, Falco, Hoddle and Villa. Look how many of those had vanished within two years when Ossie's knees had gone all trembly!!! Colin Lee is, of course, manager of Walsall these days but, Hoddle apart, I don't think anyone else is employed in a footballing capacity in the UK. And, yes, I haven't forgotten Ossie has gone home to be a manager!

It is instructive to note the side that played Middlesbrough in October 1980, just 14 months later. It was: Daines; Gordon Smith, Hughton, Yorath, Lacy, Perryman, Ardiles (sub Taylor), Archibald. Villa, Hoddle and Crooks. And it was Archibald, Villa and Crooks who scored in the 3-2 victory. The side that won the Cup still hasn't achieved its final shape as Roberts had not yet made his full debut and Daines was still preferred to Aleksic.

Since Steve McClaren took over at the Riverside, there has been more organisation and more tactical awareness about Middlesbrough's play. They are no longer a side who can be pushed aside with consummate ease and they are clearly trying to build a side that will win honours in the not-so-distant future. If Middlesbrough continue to progress like they have done, McClaren is clearly going to be a candidate for the succession to the England coaching position once Eriksson has had enough.

George Boateng hopes to be fit for Middlesbrough's trip to Spurs on Saturday. He has missed the last three games after picking up a hamstring injury in training. His comeback was then delayed when he caught flu. Spurs have not yet made any announcement about their squad.

Saturday's match will not be an easy game and I suspect that we may well have to settle for a point, given our inability to sustain our game over 90 minutes.


Cheers, Brian

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