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The Tyne Tees Derby - 02/11/2002

The Tyne Tees Derby
Maccarone - pasta expectations
   Ugochuku Ehiogu
   Joseph-Desire Job
   Massimo Maccarone
   Gareth Southgate
   Szilard Nemeth
   Alen Boksic
   Titus Bramble
   Nikos Dabizas
   Aaron Hughes
   Andy O Brien

We were given the day off yesterday, but with the Boro game on Monday night, we’ll be in for training today and Sunday (when the squad will be announced). We’re expecting a tough match as Steve McClaren has put together a really well organised team with a few players who are capable of turning any game. They’ve built from the back and with Southgate and Ehiogu, have two highly experienced centre-backs who know each others game inside out. Geremi has been a great loan signing, and although he normally plays in defence, he’s spent a fair time in midfield…and scored a number of goals. Whereas Boksic had been the main hope up front, Maccarone has come in and is living up to his much hyped potential. Then there’s the two other strikers who seem to have come on another stage this year, Job scored a couple against us in the reserves 2-2 draw at Gateshead, and Nemeth has put a few in the back of the net when he’s been called on.

That’s Boro, and whilst we respect them, it’s fair to say that our form – excepting the Blackburn game, has been very good. Our much criticised defence has been chopped and changed through suspension and injury, but disregarding the Blackburn game, the unit has done well. We’ve conceded less than a goal a game in the last six or seven games – and that includes two fixtures against Juventus. With doubts over Titus Bramble and to a lesser extent OB, and Dabi suspended, Aaron will probably play centre-back. I’ve played in that position for the reserves, but OB should pull through and I expect the two of them to start.

I don’t know many of the present Boro players, but I first met my good mate Neil Cox in a Tyne Tees derby. He came in for a tackle that nearly broke my leg, it actually snapped my shinpad. I wouldn’t care but he only apologised years later when we met up after I signed for Bolton!

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