Opponents in focus - Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough FC, also known as The Boro, were formed in 1876 and play at the Riverside Stadium set on the banks of the River Tees. Prior to The Riverside, their home from 1903 until 1995 was the Ayresome Park ground which hosted its first match on September 12th 1903 against local rivals Sunderland.
In 1904/05 Middlesbrough shocked the football world by paying a then wallet busting fee of £1,000 for Alf Common from Sunderland, a gamble that worked with Boro securing their status in the top flight.
Their highest placed league finish was achieved in the 1913/14 season when Middlesbrough finished 3rd in the First Division although they have won the old 2nd Division (Championship) title on 4 occasions. Major honours have also proved to be elusive, with their only major trophy being the League Cup which was won in 2004, although they have appeared in 3 League Cup Finals, one FA Cup Final and the UEFA Cup Final in 2006.
Like ourselves, Middlesbrough have in the past experienced severe financial difficulties. In April 1986, the club called in the administrators and were subsequently liquidated and the gates to Ayresome Park were padlocked shut. It looked at this time that the club would cease to exist permanently until current chairman Steve Gibson put together a consortium, and with just 10 minutes to go before the Football League registration deadline Boro submitted their registration to compete in the 1986/87 season.
Boro then climbed back up the league and despite continued promotion to and relegation from the top flight, they were founder members of the FA Premier League in 1992. Since this time, the club have continued to move between the top two flights and after relegation from the Premier League in 2008/09, they finished their first season back in The Championship in 11th place.
Middlesbrough are the current favourites for The Championship with odds of 8/1.
Kits, made by Adidas, are the ones that will be worn by Middlesbrough for the 2010/11 season with the home kit the traditional red and a blue away one.
At the present time the club do not have a shirt sponsor for the upcoming season.
Following relegation from the Premier League at the end of the 2008/09 season, Middlesbrough began the 2009/10 season under the stewardship of Gareth Southgate in the Coca Cola Championship.
After a good start to the season, 3 wins in the first 4 games, results started to turn with many games being lost or drawn resulting in a poor league position when expectations were that the team should be challenging for an instant return to the top flight.
The man in charge, Southgate, and his football consultant, Alan Smith, were relieved of their duties with immediate effect on the 20th October 2009, following a 2-0 home win over Derby County. The new manager, Gordon Strachan was appointed on the 26th October and he finally led them to an 11th placed finish in the league.
Middlesbrough struggled in both cup competitions, losing 2-1 in the second round of the League Cup (after a first round bye) to Nottingham Forest after extra time. They also exited the FA Cup at the first stage, Round 3, losing 1-0 at home to Manchester City.
The top scorer for the 2009/10 season was Adam Johnson with 8 goals in total, 7 of these in the league. Johnson left Middlesbrough at the end of the January transfer window moving to Manchester City for an undisclosed fee.
Head to head
Pompey and Middlesbrough have met 79 times since 1938/39 with Middlesbrough holding the advantage over Pompey over these meetings.
Played - 79
Won - 26
Drawn - 22
Lost - 31
Win % - 33%
The last time we met was in the 2008/09 Premier League season with Pompey winning 2-1 at Fratton Park on the 13th September. Middlesbrough took the lead on the 24th minute through one time Pompey target Mido, with Defoe scoring twice in the second half (59 and 86 minutes) to send the blues home with all 3 points.
The reverse fixture at The Riverside on 14th March finished 1-1 with Peter Crouch giving Pompey the lead on 30 minutes, with Marlon King equalising for Boro in the final minute.
League Standings/Cup Runs in last 5 years
Coca Cola Championship - 11th
FA Cup - 3rd Round
League Cup - 2nd Round
FA Premier League - 19th (relegated)
FA Cup - 6th Round
League Cup - 3rd Round
FA Premier League - 13th
FA Cup - 6th Round
League Cup - 3rd Round
FA Premier League - 12th
FA Cup - 6th Round
League Cup - 2nd Round
FA Premier League - 14th
FA Cup - Semi Final
League Cup - Quarter Final
UEFA Cup - Runners Up
Our first meeting with Middlesbrough is the away fixture which takes place on Saturday 2nd October, kicking off at 3pm. The return fixture at Fratton Park takes place on Saturday 12th March, again kicking off at 3pm.
The man in charge
Born in Edinburgh in 1957, Strachan began his playing career at Dundee before moving to Aberdeen where he started to make a name for himself over a seven year period from 1977 to 1984. It was then he moved to Manchester United where he played for 5 years before moving to their rivals Leeds United where he remained until March 1995 before he took up a player/coach role under Ron Atkinson at Coventry City.
He made his first step into management in 1996, replacing Atkinson who moved up to become Director of Football, and saved Coventry from relegation at the end of the 1995/96 season. However, in 2001 he was unable to save them from this fate and Coventry were relegated after 34 years in the top flight. He was then dismissed early in the 2001/02 season.
Within a few days, Strachan was back in management at St. Marys Stadium where after a seemingly doomed season he guided Southampton to an 11th place finish. Finishing in 8th the following season, Strachan also guided them to an FA Cup Final where they lost 1-0 to Arsenal and into the UEFA Cup in the 2003/04 season.
After announcing his intention to quit at the end of the 2003/04 season, Strachan left Southampton in February 2004 in order to spend more time with his family. This did not stop him being linked with other managerial positions including Scotland and of course the hot seat at Fratton Park.
It was not until June 2005 that he returned to management at SPL side Celtic. During his 4 years at Celtic Park, he won the SPL title three times, the Scottish Cup once and the Scottish League Cup twice, before leaving the club in May 2009.
He was then out of work until 26th October 2009 when he replaced Gareth Southgate at Middlesbrough, guiding them to a final position of 11th place in the Coca Cola Championship.
In both his playing and managerial play, Strachan has won numerous titles, the full list being:
Scottish Premier Division winner: 1979-80 and 1983-84
Scottish Cup winner: 1982, 1983 and 1984
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup winner: 1983
UEFA Super Cup winner: 1983
Scottish League Cup runner-up: 1978-79 and 1979-80
FA Cup winner: 1985
Football League First Division runner-up: 1987-88
Football League Second Division winner: 1989-90
Football League First Division winner: 1991-92
FA Charity Shield winner: 1992
FA Cup runner-up: 2003
Scottish Premier League winner: 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08
Scottish Cup winner: 2007
Scottish League Cup winner: 2006, 2009
SPFA Manager of the Year: 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2008-09
In recent times it would seem that The Riverside is quickly becoming the place to be with numerous Scottish players joining since Strachan took over in October last year. Indeed, with Boro being favourites for the Championship in 2010/11 there are a number of players who it would seem will be key for the upcoming season.
To date, 5 players have arrived in the close season, these being Andrew Halliday from Livingston, Kris Boyd from Rangers, Nicky Bailey from Charlton, Stephen McManus from Celtic and Kevin Thomson from Rangers. More signings are promised before the season start.
These new players will be joining established players including Julio Arca, and a name familiar to Pompey supporters, Gary O'Neil who after 174 appearances and 16 goals for us moved to Middlesbrough in 2007. Rumours persist that he is set to leave the club this summer with Stoke identified as a potential destination for O'Neil.
These players, new and old will be key to them living up to their billing as division favourites for the upcoming season.
Built in only 32 weeks (and how long have we been waiting!), and situated on the banks of the River Tees, the Riverside Stadium opened on August 26 1995 and replaced the old Ayresome Park ground which had been used since the 1903/04 season. The first game resulted in a 2-0 win over Chelsea with Craig Hignett scoring the first goal at the new ground.
When built, the stadium was the biggest new football stadium to be built since the end of WWII and the first to be built under the recommendations of the Taylor Report following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
Initially called the Cellnet Riverside Stadium as part of the clubs sponsorship deal, the ground has a current capacity of 34,988 and there is permission to add a further 7,000 seats to this capacity should the club wish to do so.
For those travelling to the ground by car, the postcode for your sat-nav system is TS3 6RS.
Middlesbrough have only ever played two seasons outside of the top two divisions of the football league (1966/67 and 1986/87).
Written by Alty Blue.
The views within this article are the views of the individual who wrote and submitted this piece, sometimes solely theirs. They are not necessarily shared by the Vital Pompey Site Journalists.
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