Middlesbrough (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 3rd November 2007


Gareth Southgate says that the club's appointment of Juande Ramos will not have any short term impact that would be down to the manager, but just down to chance.  The players seem not to have much to do with it as far as he sees it.

Well, Tottenham have a lot to prove, both to their new boss and to themselves after failing to impress in their opening eleven games.  Boro are not over-flowing with confidence either, coming into the game with a record of six losses out of seven matches.  Therefore, it will be a bit of a dour game, with both sides needing the points and both needing a result rather than an attacking performance.

Tottenham's former Egyptian forward Mido would have been odds on to score against his old team, but will not feature as he has a groin injury and that leaves the Teeside side lacking a goalscorer outside of Aliadiere, who is just finding his first regular starting run at a club.  The lack of goals will hinder Boro and the sale of Viduka, followed by the failure of Korean Lee Dong-Gook and the falling out of favour of Tuncay means Southgate needs midfielders to chip in with goals to supplement the tally.

With players like Downing and Cattermole being attacking midfielders, they should be netting more than the eleven goals they have so far.  Set up in a defensive mode, David Wheater is a player who has broke into both the Middlesbrough side and the England Under-21 team, but looks a little shaky at times in defence.  Player such as Chris Riggott and Jonathan Woodgate have a lot of experience, but there are some members of the team who lack confidence or, in Rochemback's case, fitness.

Having a crop of talented youngsters is not always the best mix, unless you have some older heads in the side to give them the guidance they need when things are not going well, as Tottenham have found this season.

With Ramos having had a full week with the team, it will be interesting to see if the work he has done with the back line (and the others, because we all know that defending starts from the front) works in stopping some of the soft goals Spurs have let in so far.

With it being the first league game in his reign, I am sure Ramos will want to keep things as tight as it is possible for Tottenham to do, but he might just coax a performance out of the side to start changing around our away form ...

PREDICTION : -  Middlesbrough  1   Tottenham Hotspur   2

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


MIDDLESBROUGH :  - Mido (groin); Robert Huth (ankle); Emanuel Pogatetz (knee); Julio Arca (knee); - (-); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (knee), Ricardo Rocha, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Anthony Gardner (all ankle); Gareth Bale (foot); - (-); - (-);


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Middlesbrough   1   Tottenham Hotspur    1      (Half-time score : 1-0)

Premier League
Venue : -  Riverside Stadium
Saturday 3rd November 2007
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   25,625
Referee :  Mike Dean (Wirral)
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.
Weather :  -
Teams : - 
Middlesbrough :


A. Taylor

Rochemback (
G Boateng 78)

Aliadiere (D G Lee 78    )
  (Hutchinson 72)

Unused subs: 

Tottenham Hotspur :


Y P Lee

K P Boateng (Zokora 63)

Bent (Berbatov 58)
Defoe (Keane 58)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)


Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  

Young 52

Tottenham Hotspur

Bent 35

Cards : -  

D G Lee (foul) 90  


Tottenham Hotspur 



Match Report : -  
If it's not a goalkeeping gaffe or a defensive error, you can put money on a goal against us being a contender for Goal of the Season.  So, when the law of the Ex struck against Tottenham, it looked a though it would be a Goal of the career for Luke Young, as he drew Middlesbrough level and earned them a point in the process.

No blame could be attached to the goalkeeper and only a slack bit of tracking back by Chimbonda, when he chase back into his own area, could attract criticism for the defence.  The howitzer that came out of the blue from 25 yards and rocketed into the top of Robinson's net was typical of the way things have been going for Spurs, but a point from this trip was enough to lift the team out of the bottom three, so Ramos' first objective has been achieved.

But it was a shock that greeted us on our arrival at the Riverside, when we discovered that Berbatov and Keane had been replaced by Bent and Defoe.  The new coach had said that everyone would get their chance to impress and he was living up to his word.

Bent certainly looked up for it and probably realises that he needs to seize the opportunities that come along to show what he can do, as, so far, he has failed to do himself justice.  He almost had the dream start, as he nearly got a decent touch to Lennon's low cross.  And it was a low cross at the other end, which almost saw Boro score, when O'Neil slid a firm ball across the goalmouth and Downing was a yard away from it, as Chimbonda went in with him.

Luckily for Tottenham, that chance went begging and the lack of a potent goalscorer in the home side became painfully obvious, as they may have got more out of the game with a recognised striker.  Fortunately, Aliadiere is a player without the goalscoring touch and almost all the chances fell to him and he failed to grab them.  Not only that, but he must be the most injured player in football history, as he hit the deck more times than any average footballer does and needed treatment most of the times too.  Rochemback hit a 25 yard effort well wide as the game approached the twenty minute mark, but the game was too bitty and there was little quality on show.

Spurs had given Kevin-Prince Boateng a league debut, as Ramos was keen on the player when he was with Sevilla and the German youngster showed that his presence can be a useful one, with some tough tackling and good use of the ball.  This was complemented, as Defoe and Bent were linking well together ... perhaps something that might be useful to England in the near future ??

In the 32nd minute, Steed Malbranque put out a leg to take the ball from Young and played Bent in down the line on the left.  Taking the ball towards goal, the striker ran at Chris Riggott and from 20 yards out let fly, with his early shot beating Schwarzer at his right hand post.  It was a fine strike and one which will give the forward some confidence, which has seemed lacking up until now.

That confidence showed just before half time, when he and Jermain linked up and Defoe's low cross was glanced only just wide with an open boot as Bent ran in to try and glide it into the far corner.

In between, when the ball looked to be going out for a corner, Robbo tried to keep it in play and knocked it down for Downing to cross to the far post, but Michael Dawson rose to deny Tuncay a scoring opportunity. 

The break came and went, with Spurs starting as they finished, as Lennon had a shot blocked.  However, from a free-kick harshly given against Boateng, Wheater got his head to the ball and glanced it across the Spurs keeper, but Robbo dived to push the ball out for a corner.  Dawson got that away, but when the ball was played in from a throw-in that resulted, a pass to Young saw him find the goal he perhaps always thought was in him.

In truth, Boro scarcely looked like scoring and a bolt out of the blue like this was the only way they might have got one ... and even then, Robinson wasn't that far away from it.   

Spurs retaliated when Kaboul struck a 30 yard free-kick with ferocity, but it flicked off a defender for a corner.  With the forward pairing having lost their impact, Ramos made a double switch bringing on Keane and Berbatov to try and win the game.  Shortly after, he replaced the debutant Boateng, as he had faded from the action, bringing on Zokora to push on from midfield.

Dawson almost gifted Boro another goal, when he slipped on the ball, leaving it for Aliadiere.  The hapless striker took the ball wide instead of going for goal and his cross hit the Spurs central defender on the hand at his side and the referee was not interested in the penalty appeals.

With fifteen minutes left, Spurs were given a reprieve, when the poor Aliadiere was taken off and replaced by the even poorer Dong-Gook Lee.  Even his own fans booed him when he came on !!

As the game came to a close, Spurs pushed for a winner.  Berbatov hit one over, Jenas put a low ball into the area which was too far ahead of Dimitar and a close call five minutes from the end saw Lennon's shot hit Wheater and Riggott before just going wide of Schwarzer's goal.

While Tottenham had the bulk of the first half, a draw was perhaps the right result and Young's goal was one which would grace much better games than this.

Tottenham looked more compact and knocked the ball about well at times.  At other times, their passing was a bit off and the defence still has to concentrate fully, while learning to stop being jittery every time the other side attack.

Ramos showed that he is willing to change his tactics and personnel to suit the need to test the opposition, with big names left out if he feels that others offer a better option.  And while this was a worse result than we got at Boro last season, a point on the road is something that was welcome.





Reaction : -



It would have had to be an ex-Spurs player who scored Boro's equaliser, wouldn't it ??  I must admit that if Mido had been playing, my money would have been on him to score against us to show us how wrong we were to sell him, but his groin injury kept him out.

At least he had an excuse, as Ramos shuffled his pack and hoped to show what a lucky Jack he was.  Leaving Keane and Berbatov on the bench was a brave move, but sometimes in Jol's reign, he did not recognise that a more robust and direct approach might prove necessary for certain opponents.

The long ball was used to get the pressure building up on the home defence and to use the strengths of Darren Bent to their maximum.  He won balls in the air for Defoe to feed off and as always, Jermain needed no second invitation to shoot when shown the whites of the goalposts.  Today, he was too often crowded out, but when Darren got the chance, he cut inside and let fly finding the bottom corner past Schwarzer's outstretched hand.

If he had converted Defoe's low ball into him just before the break, I am convinced that Tottenham would have gone on to win, as Middlesbrough rarely looked like scoring one, let alone two.  As he turned his foot on the ball, he just over-did it and the ball and the chance slipped away past the post.

The team were pushed back a bit by Middlesbrough in the second half, but still had chances, but when things are not going your way, it shows in many different ways.  The equaliser was a quality strike and when people say a shot was unstoppable, this is probably as close as you would come to seeing such an effort.  It ripped past Robinson and I doubt if a Middlesbrough player, let alone defender Luke Young, has caught one so sweetly for many a year.

Robbo almost gave Boro a helping hand by presenting the ball to Downing, as he tired to stop the ball going out for a corner (advisedly, the way we defend corners), but fortunately, his cross was well defended by Michael Dawson, who had a much better game - apart from one slip that let the rubbish Aladiere through ... but he fluffed his opening, as he did throughout the match.

Kaboul looked shaky again and tried to play too much football in places he shouldn't, but short of moving Chimbonda to centre-half, Ramos is left with little option than to play Younes because of injuries to others.  He looks a good prospect, but needs to learn fast to hoof the ball out rather than try and beat men on the edge of his own area.

Jenas' return gave Spurs a good engine in midfield and he does make a difference to the side when he plays well.  Malbranque worked hard and the first league game for Kevin-Prince Boateng showed he can be a useful player to have in midfield, but his lack of match fitness showed with a pale second half performance and his substitution followed.

Bent and Defoe showed they can play together as a pair and it will mean that Ramos can change the pairing when he needs to.

A draw might not have seemed the best result after a first half when Tottenham dominated, but they need all the points they can get at the moment.  There were still passages of loose play and these will be punished by better sides than Villa, but with Wigan up next in the league, it will be a game we need full points from, as the programme in the run-up to Christmas is quite testing.


Didn't see too much of the Boro game this weekend, but once again a long range shot has hit home. 

Unstoppable from Robbo's point of view, but - and I think I'm right on this ! - once again the nearest defender to the scorer makes a lame attempt to block the shot, back turned or partly turned to the ball and leg pushed out in a half-hearted attempt to block the shot. 

OK, I may being a bit harsh here, but this has been the same v Man U and Arsenal when long range efforts sailed in.  I know it's easy from the stands, but I thought defenders are there to defend.

Defenders - men or mice?  





Other scores this weekend :
Arsenal 2 Manchester United 2 Saturday
Aston Villa 2 Derby County 0 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers - Liverpool - Saturday
Everton 3 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Fulham 3 Reading 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 1 Portsmouth 4 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 0 Chelsea 2 Saturday
West Ham United 1 Bolton Wanderers 1 Sunday
Manchester City 1 Sunderland 0 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 11 8 3 0 24 9 27 +15
2 Manchester United 12 8 3 1 21 6 27 +15
3 Manchester City 12 8 1 3 16 13 25 +3
4 Chelsea 12 7 3 2 18 8 24 +10
5 Portsmouth 12 6 4 2 25 13 22 +10
6 Blackburn Rovers 10 6 3 1 15 9 21 +6
7 Liverpool 10 5 5 0 17 6 20 +11
8 Everton 12 6 1 5 19 14 19 +5
9 Aston Villa 11 5 3 3 16 13 19 +3
10 Newcastle United 11 5 2 4 18 17 17 +1
11 West Ham United 11 4 3 4 13 10 15 +3
12 Reading 12 4 1 7 15 26 13 -11
13 Fulham 12 2 6 4 16 18 12 -2
14 Birmingham City 12 3 2 7 12 18 11 -6
15 Sunderland 12 2 3 7 12 21 9 -9
16 Middlesbrough 12 2 3 7 12 23 9 -11
17 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 12 1 5 6 19 24 8 -5
18 Wigan Athletic 12 2 2 8 10 19 8 -9
19 Bolton Wanderers 12 1 4 7 11 18 7 -7
20 Derby County 12 1 3 8 5 27 6 -22




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