TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh previews Middlesbrough ahead of their FA Cup clash against Arsenal and explains why there is much to admire about the North East club…
Last season, Middlesbrough made the rather brave managerial appointment of Aitor Karanka. While a refreshing change from the same old names on the British managerial merry-go-round, Karanka had never managed a league game before he arrived on Teesside. His credentials were based on his time coaching the Spain U-16s and three years spent as Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Real Madrid. His Real appointment was even something of a surprise for Karanka, who had never worked with Mourinho before. The recommendation had come from former Bernabeu teammates, Luis Figo and Clarence Seedorf – high praise indeed.
One year on and Karanka is doing an excellent job at Boro. His first season was one of stabilisation and ensuring the club didn’t slip further down the table. They were in the bottom half when he joined but he guided them to a 12th place finish. This season has been a different story, however, and Karanka is beginning to put his own stamp on the club. Middlesbrough are top of the Championship following their defeat of Blackpool on Tuesday night and are now 10 games unbeaten. Continue reading →
TFN’s Chris Francis continues his run down of the top 50 players outside the Premier League…
40. Jason Lowe (Blackburn)
A rangy, strong midfielder who has caps for England at U21 level, Lowe has firmly established himself as a Rovers regular having made his way through their youth system. At the age of 22 he is approaching 100 league starts for the club, and already has a full Premier League season under his belt. One of those that Gary Bowyer needs to build his side around to get Blackburn firing properly again.
39. Franck Moussa (Coventry)
Moussa is not a big man at all, but he combines excellent technical ability with high energy. He has been central to a superb season for a homesick Coventry City in League 1, contributing 12 goals from an attacking midfield position already. Continue reading →
TFN’s Chris Francis runs down his top 50 players outside the Premier League…
50. David Nugent (Leicester)
You either love this guy, or he’s never played for your club. The Nuge continues to show that is a better player than many give him credit for, as his work-rate, persistence and finishing continue to impress. He is a senior professional now and he is an example to the younger members of Leicester’s title chasing squad. 16 goals so far this season.
49. Gary O’Neill (QPR)
O’Neill is a highly experienced box to box midfielder who has played for most of his career in the Premier League. He is tireless, and has been strong this season as QPR have ground out rather than dazzled. A wise head as we move in to the tough stuff towards the end of the campaign. Continue reading →
TFN Editor Hugo Greenhalgh argues that the globalisation of the Football League can only be a good thing for the national game…
“This is a real change for our club but football is global now…and we were searching for a first-class coach”
In a year when the future of English football has been debated as intensely as ever, Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson’s comments last week made for interesting reading. Gibson was speaking to the media as he unveiled former Real Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka as Boro’s new manager. By his own admission, he was breaking out of the mould of the “little Englander” in appointing the first non-British manager to the Teesside club. Gibson carried on, “Greg Dyke’s got his self-interest which is the FA and I’ve got my self-interest which is Middlesbrough Football Club”, referring to Dyke’s recent speech bemoaning the lack of English coaches as a contributing factor in the decline of the national game.
The FA Chairman may have had a point that the presence of foreign players and managers can stifle the progress of their English counterparts. However, if handled responsibly, a foreign influence can surely only bring benefits to England’s archaic football convention. Not only is Karanka an exciting appointment for Boro fans, it is a move that hints at a developing symbiotic relationship in Europe’s football landscape. Whilst the English leagues have much to gain from continental involvement, it would appear that European managers themselves are keen to coach in this country. Continue reading →
Chris Clarke, editor of Can They Score, takes a brief look at Possebon…
Hailed as the real deal upon his arrival from Internacional in January 2008, Possebon was considered a player of immense promise for Manchester United. Eligible to sign so early thanks to his Italian passport, Possebon was considered one of the finest passers of the ball at the club. During his time at the club, he caught the eye of many in the Reserve set up and even earned himself a call up for the Italian U20 side. Continue reading →
Michiel Jongsma of Opta Johan and BeNeFoot remembers Afonso Alves’ prolific spell in the Netherlands…
When a player is a Brazilian international, has shown he can adapt in Europe, has racked up 45 league goals in 39 league games for his previous team and, at 27, is entering the summer years of his career, chooses your side to play for and he comes with a price tag of 16m, you’re bound to have expectations. Middlesbrough were a team on the slide after impressing in both national and continental cup competitions and Afonso Alves brought back hope. Hope that they could compete in the top half of the Premier League. One and a half years later, hope was gone.
John Nicholson of Football365 looks back at Doriva’s unremarkable stay on Teesside…
Dorival Guidoni Jr, or more magnificently plain old Dave, as he was known on Teesside, arrived on these shores in his early 30s and with a decent career in Spain and Italy behind him. He’d been in the 1998 Brazil World Cup squad so obviously had no little amount of ability and was used to seeing fat lads having a fit, so he was instantly at home on Teesside when he signed for Middlesbrough. But when it came to playing football the most you could really say about Dave was that, well, he was there. Neither very defensive and combative nor especially creative, its hard to recall what Dave actually did on the pitch other than run around with the undemonstrative hair cut of a proper man. But this was enough for Steve McClaren to give him a contract and because Dave was a starter in Boro’s League Cup Final winning team in 2004 he will always be a Teesside legend.
He was often called a model professional, which on Teesside merely meant you could be relied upon to turn up for training with a relatively low blood alcohol level and not get photographed with a lady sitting on your face outside of a night club. Continue reading →