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Discussion Starter #1
Preview: Middlesbrough v Man Utd

Danny Mills looks set to push for a place in the Middlesbrough squad to face Manchester United after a bout of flu.

Mills' fellow defender Ugo Ehiogu is looking to make his first start since April after tearing his cruciate ligament

Manager Steve McClaren could decide to draft Ehiogu in for Colin Cooper.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is facing a defensive dilemma, and Quinton Fortune will replace hamstring injury victim John O'Shea at left-back.

But, with Mikael Silvestre (knee) rated extremely doubtful, Ferguson must decide whether to use Roy Keane or Gary Neville in central defence or recall Wes Brown, who has yet to make a first-team appearance since his second cruciate knee ligament operation in the summer.

Keane, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Phil Neville should all return after being left out of the starting line-up to face Everton.
 

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12/27/2003. BACKGROUND: Middlesbrough may have slightly fresher legs going into this one due to the postponement of their game with Birmingham form the 20th of December. This however, may be evened out by the size of the United squad which allowed them to rest many of their stars in the Boxing Day encounter with Everton.

Steve McClaren will fancy his chances against his former club as he has often proved a thorn in the side of his former boss Sir Alex, since his move up to the Teesside club. Victory over them at Christmas time last year, as well as a win in the FA Cup have all showed the apprentice's ability to outwit his mentor.

The match will give a few of the cast a chance to size up the clubs that they may be joining in the near future. Ferdinand's ban has led to speculation that Gareth Southgate may make the move to Old Trafford, with either Nicky Butt or Diego Forlan going the other way.



CURRENT FORM:
Middlesbrough: WDDDDD
Middlesbrough's miserly defence came unstuck slightly conceding two on Boxing Day, but they matched that by scoring two. Five draws on the trot show the solidity of the side, and they will be confident of shutting United out, if not troubling them at the other end.

Man United: LWWWWW
The unfamiliar line up that saw off Everton was full of young pretenders that highlighted Fergie's strength in depth. Another win was added to the board and United are sitting pretty at the top of the table, yet to all around the club it doesn't feel as though they are playing well yet, something which suggests trouble for the rest when they do click into gear.


TEAM NEWS:
Middlesbrough: Doriva is again absent for McClaren's men, but Danny Mills may well return after a cold. Ugo Ehiogu could return for his first game of the season in place of Colin Cooper. Juninho is likely to continue in the side after his goals on Friday.

Man United: John O'Shea is definitely out of the game and Mikael Silvestre is a big doubt. Wes Brown could be the man to fill in after overcoming cruciate ligament damage, with Quinton Fortune slotting in at left back. The big guns, Scholes, Keane et al are all expected to return for this tough away clash.

PLAYER TO WATCH:
Middlesbrough : Gareth Southgate
Southgate has been one of the Premiership's most consistent performers down the years, but has never had the opportunity to move to one of the big clubs. Rumours that United may see him as a replacement for Rio Ferdinand will ensure that all eyes are on him on Sunday. His ability to handle Van Nistelrooy will give a good indication of his ability to perform at the highest level of European competition.
Man United : Wes Brown
Without Brown's horrendous injury record, Rio Ferdinand's absence form the England team would be little more than losing a squad player. For sheer defending ability, Brown's potential far outweighed that of the £30 million man. He is strong in the tackle, quick over the ground and strong in the air. When Eriksson first took the England job it was the young Mancunian and not the flash Rio who he turned to as the partner for Campbell. Brown's return will be welcomed by all United's fans who will keep their fingers crossed for his future health.

PROBABLE STARTING XI'S
Middlesbrough : Schwarzer, Mills, Southgate, Ehiogu, Queudrue, Mendieta, Boateng, Downing, Zenden, Juninho, Ricketts

Man United : Howard, G. Neville, Brown, Ferdinand, Fortune, Kleberson, Keane, P. Neville, Giggs, Scholes, Van Nistelrooy
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Its not gonna be an easy game for us. We will struggle, but I think we will come out with three points from this game. I predict a very tight 2-1 win.
 

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Hopefully Brown is match fit. If not, then we have to play Keano in defence, with Butt/P Neville and Kleberson in centre midfield and Giggsy and Ronaldo on the wings.
If our defence don't **** up, then we will win but its going to be interesting. I also predict a 2-1 win
 

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you won by a lucky deflection against a clueless boro :rolleyes:

certainly no football to worry anyone around Europe,probably the best player was Fortune and that says it all. :howler:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
FT: Middlesbrough 0 Man Utd 1

Manchester United survived the 64th minute sending-off of Darren Fletcher to stretch their Premiership lead to four points with a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.

Fletcher was dismissed for a second bookable offence after a rash challenge on Bolo Zenden in his own half.

But United rode their luck, which began in the 14th minute when Quinton Fortune's cross was deflected past his own keeper by Middlesbrough defender Danny Mills.

Despite their bleak home form Boro started brightly, with Juninho almost sending through Gaizka Mendieta in the ninth minute.

But Boro's fine start ended through ill fortune in the 14th minute when Fortune's low effort caught Mills in the chest and wrong-footed goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to give United the lead.

Boro's frustration began to tell in a game which became increasingly ill-tempered as the minutes progressed. Mills was somewhat fortunate to escape with just a yellow card from referee Matt Messias in the 20th minute after his stray elbow almost caught Giggs.

Zenden had Boro's first chance in the 29th minute after Roy Keane fouled Mendieta on the edge of the United box. Zenden stepped up to curl a left-footed shot inches over Tim Howard's bar.

The first half ended furiously when referee Messias waved play on after Keane's stretching challenge on Juninho and moments later booked George Boateng for a similar tackle on Paul Scholes. Juninho was also booked for protesting while Keane hobbled to the touchline for treatment.

Boro looked bright at the start of the second half, but Zenden failed to take advantage of a dangerous free-kick chance after Scholes had fouled Boateng and Mendieta could only steer a loose ball into the side-netting after Howard had missed Mills' long throw.

Keane escaped a caution after fouling Mills in the 54th minute before another Zenden set-piece came to nothing.

Schwarzer denied Scholes United's second with a brilliant fingertip save in the 56th minute. Ruud van Nistelrooy knocked back Giggs' cross into Scholes' path and he let fly with a rising right-foot volley which the Boro keeper tipped against the underside of the crossbar.

Then Giggs hit a left-foot effort high and wide, before being denied by a fine saving challenge from Ugo Ehiogu in the 64th minute after he had raced clear onto Gary Neville's long through-ball.

Fletcher saw red in the 64th minute for a second bookable offence after fouling Zenden in the United half.

Boro valiantly attempted to make the most of their numerical advantage by throwing on Italian striker Massimo Maccarone for Jonathan Greening, but they were unable to break their drought, with the two best chances falling to Michael Ricketts, who headed each wide.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Ferguson furious with Fletcher red card

Sir Alex Ferguson blasted referee Matt Messias for sending off Darren Fletcher during his side's 1-0 win at Middlesbrough.

Fletcher saw red for a 64th-minute challenge on Bolo Zenden, having received his first caution four minutes before half-time.

Ferguson sprang to the defence of his young star who made his way forlornly up the tunnel as United won thanks to a Danny Mills own goal.

Ferguson said: "The first booking was ridiculous and going by that there should have been four or five sent off.

"The referee made a rod for his own back. The young boy made two tackles and he was sent off. He is not that sort of player and he never has been."

Ferguson professed his delight with the way his side broke through Boro's miserly defence to stretch their lead at the top of the Barclaycard Premiership table.

He added: "I don't think they (Boro) made a chance in the whole match and I don't think Tim Howard had a save to make.

"We started the first half fantastically well and in fairness to Middlesbrough they worked really hard and were tigerish to get something out of it.

"When you see Boro's record of the last few weeks their goals against column is fantastic so we have done well to get a result," Ferguson told Sky Sports 2.
 

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We were very lucky to get all 3 points. In the first 20 mins we dominated and thankfully to that defelcted goal we went ahead. Then Middlesbrough starting taking more of the possesion.
In the 2nd half, their keeper made a superb save to deflect scholes's shot to the bar, but still scholes should have scored imop. Then giggsy also was one on one with the keeper, but he tried to be too clever, by turning the defender and lost the ball. If we took those two chances we would have gone 3-0 up, and then it would have been game over, while instead we were hanging on till the final whistle. I loved that scholes move on the 70th minute, when he made 2-3 defenders looking like fools.
The red card on fletcher I think was very harsh:fero: ....the 2nd booking was correct, but for the first one, he never should have got a yellow for that....thank god that didnt cost us any points today.
Fortune,Rio and Silvestre were great. Has anyone else noticed how rio has raised his game, since the drugs ban? Too bad that just when the partnership is becoming great, rio will be out for 8 months:(


Btw what do you think of fergies decison to play Kleberson one game and then drop him in the next??I think from his performances the guy more than deserves his places on the starting line up. He has been very creative and also very dangerous, (a great crosser and a link up man.) I know that fergie wants ronaldo and fletcher to get games and experience but surely its better to start with the guy that has been performing superbly since his comeback from injury. He playing on the right with scholes on the centre and giggsy on the left, all on like free roles behind ruud, is working great, so I dont know why he keeps changing it. He should do what he did in the beginning of the season, by putting ronaldo on, like the 60th minute to run at tiring defenders, and then also fletcher in centre midfield to gain experience in his future role. Btw why doesnt he ever put fletcher adn ronaldo on the same bench......when one plays or is on bench the other aint in the squad.


Midfield:

---------Butt/P Neville Keano
--------(sub Fletcher)

Kleberson Scholes Giggs
(sub Ronaldo)
...............Rvn (sub if winning Bellion)
 

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I agree with everything Trimi said about how our formation/starting line-up should be. I was quite shocked to see that Kleberson wasnt in the starting line-up today. He should be playing. A few days ago I would say our midfield should look like this:

Ronaldo------Kleberson---------Keane-------------Giggs
-------------------------Scholes
---------------------RVN

With scholes, giggs and Kleberson playing in a free role right behind RVN.

However, considering Keane's age and the imminent ban of Rio, I think it is gonna be difficult for Keane to help the defenders all by himself. Considering that, I think Trimi's team formation is the best we can do for the rest of this season.
 
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