Middlesbrough - a look ahead.

Last updated : 02 January 2004 By Richard Brown

Form (last six): L-D-D-D-W-D

2002/03 Finish: League; Premiership; 11th

FA Cup: Third Round

League Cup: Third Round

2002/03 Top Scorer: Massimo Maccarone - 9

2002/03 Discipline: 50 yellow, 5 red

2003/04 Top Scorer: Juninho - 4

2003/04 Discipline: 32 yellow, 0 red

Steve McClaren
Under normal circumstances, an FA Cup Third Round trip to Premiership Middlesbrough would be about as good as it gets. But when you’ve been to Chelsea and back, its thunder is as good as stolen.

However, a road trip to Middlesbrough is still not to be sniffed at as it is no secret that an extended cup-run can boost not only the players’ morale, but also the cheque book of the club as getting to the Third Round of a domestic competition, or in this case two, can seriously help ease a clubs financial troubles. And after seeing off two non-league opponents to reach the Third Round, County will now have their work cut out against a Middlesbrough who, under the watchful eye of ex-Manchester United no.2 Steve McClaren, have been transformed in recent seasons as McClaren begins to turn the club around as their league position begins to improve.

And with such big names as Bolo Zenden, George Boateng, Massimo Maccarone, Danny Mills, Gaizka Mendieta and club legend, Juninho all having been tempted to the sleeping giant on Teeside by one of the younger breed of Premiership managers who has laid solid foundations for the club to build upon as he lifted ‘Boro to 12th and 11th in consecutive seasons (2001/02 and 2002/03), things are certainly looking up for 'Boro.

McLaren's highlight as boss was leading his side into an FA Cup semi Final in the 01-02 season, where they lost 1-0 to eventual winners Arsenal, thanks to a Gianluca Festa own goal.

***Star Man*** - Gareth Southgate

Is he the one who missed that penalty?
With Gaizka Mendieta currently back in Spain , the obvious replacement in my eyes for Boro’s top player is one of the most sought after centre-halves in the country at this moment in time, the infamous Gareth Southgate.

With half-a-century of full International caps with to his name, Southgate has established himself as a firm favourite amongst the ‘Boro faithful whilst still managing to force his way to the clubs Player of the Year award (2001/02) and the captains armband the following year.

Southgate has again been impressing week-in week-out, gaining rave reviews from many of the big-name football pundits. But perhaps the biggest compliment he can possibly be paid at this moment in time is McClaren’s refusal to sell the 33-year old to Manchester United.

***Odds Checker*** - with William Hill bookmakers

Middlesbrough – 1/6

Draw – 9/2

Notts Co – 11/1