Date: 12th August 2010 at 8:39pm
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Middlesbrough are the first visitors to the Walkers Stadium of this season’s Championship campaign, looking to avenge last season’s pair of defeats to the Foxes.

Both sides are looking for their first points on the board after first day defeats away from home, but with cup wins secured midweek both Gordon Strachan and Paulo Sousa will be looking to maintain their winning mentality.

We pick Middlesbrough fan Chris Narey‘s brain about his thoughts prior to the match.

1. So, beaten comfortably on the opening day, what are the feelings going into Saturday?

I’m keeping my chin up. I keep telling myself that it’s just a case of the players needing to ‘gel’, perhaps naively. Middlesbrough fans have been getting more and more pessimistic since our decline from the lofty heights of the UEFA cup final, so it was a pleasant surprise over the summer when a growing sense of optimism appeared from nowhere. Ipswich didn’t quite kill it but I think its make or break for a lot of our fans on Saturday.

2. After a disappointing campaign last season, do you feel Middlesbrough can kick on for promotion this year? That favourites tag has got to have its burdens, right?

I think so, I hope so. Last year was a bit of a write-off with a new manager coming in together some very different ideas. We let Strachan off and probably rightly so, but now we want to see results. With the money we have spent we should at least have a good go at it.

There is also a feeling of ‘it’s now or never’ – the parachute payments end this season and I think a lot of our players see this as the final push before they jump ship should it all go wrong again.

3. Is Gordon Strachan the right man to lead you to the Premier League once again?

My life as a ‘Boro supporter started under Bryan Robson, so I can remember the appointments of McClaren, Southgate and Strachan.

I can say with confidence out of those three appointments Strachan was by far and away the one I was most pleased with. For the first time in my life ‘Boro were getting a manager with experience. I still have the faith. He has his own team now so it’s time to make it happen.

4. How were the pre-season preparations?

Good. Apparently we started pre-season training before last season ended. We have had problems in the past with fitness and I think Strachan has done a good job of addressing that. We were undefeated in the friendlies but I don’t think anyone thinks that counts for much.

5. It’s been a summer of ‘ins’ more than ‘outs’ with noticeable money spent – do you think the new arrivals will have the right effects in the Championship?

I think so. Strachan showed he knew what he was doing in the transfer market in January when he went on his first raid of the Scottish clubs. With the exception of Lee Miller who makes me want to cry, every player has improved us.

If Southgate was after youth and flair Strachan is after experience and determination. I think in this league that can go a long way. Again, they have to ‘gel’ first though.

6. Are there any areas of the team that you feel need strengthening while the transfer window remains open?

Yes yes and yes. The problems lie out wide and between the sticks. Against Ipswich we played central players on both wings and at left back.

We brought in two wingers over the summer in Kink and Halliday but both have made a huge step up in the level of football they will be playing so I don’t expect them to be starting.

If we keep playing 4-4-2 I think it is essential we bring some width and some pace to the team.

The keeper situation looks like it will be resolved. Brad Jones looks like he is off to Liverpool which I can’t say I am upset about. I’d be worried but we are being linked to Speroni who I rate highly and we’ve just debuted our highly rated young keeper Steele in the cup and I thought he was fantastic.

7. Who should we be looking out for in particular from the Middlesbrough lineup?

Well the pundits will be pointing at Kris Boyd probably but I’d be more wary of Scott McDonald. He has a lot more to his game than Boyd. He is quick and despite being about 5 foot and is also strong on the ball. I think he has got 5 goals in his last 7 games so I would keep my eye on him.

In midfield it will be interesting to see how Kevin Thomson gets on – Rangers were not happy to let him go and I’m expecting big things from him.

8. And who would you love to ship off to their next club?

Mido, without a doubt. He is on massive massive wages but still doesn’t think it warrants being fit. If he decided he was interested I have no doubt he could tear this league apart. He has been seen in the Middlesbrough casinos more often than then training ground, and I’m not joking.

9. How do you feel Leicester will fare this season?

Well. You were a good team last season and one I looked out for due to the Pearson connection. He’s moved on now but I think you have bought in a good replacement in Sousa.

If I remember rightly it took him a few games to get it right at Swansea so I’m just hoping he has that problem again tomorrow. I think I would be more surprised to see you guys out of the top six then in it come the end of the season.

10. Finally, how do you think the match will end up?

Two games played each, one win and loss apiece and 19 goals in total in those games. Wow. It could be exciting couldn’t it?

I’m expecting a tight contest, and given our recent results I can see both teams scoring. I’d love to have the confidence to say Middlesbrough but at this stage in the season I really don’t know what to expect.


Thanks again to Chris for taking the time out to speak to us.