Tag Archives: Steve McClaren

The Clubs: Middlesbrough

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
574 165 169 240 648 794 -146 661 14

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Mark Schwarzer 332
Stewart Downing 211
Robbie Mustoe 197
George Boateng 181
Gareth Southgate 160
Colin Cooper 159
Steve Vickers 155
Franck Queudrue 150
Curtis Fleming 146
Ugo Ehiogu 126

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Juninho 30
Hamilton Ricard 30
Mark Viduka 26
Yakubu 24
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 23
Szilard Nemeth 23
Alen Boksic 22
Brian Deane 18
Stewart Downing 18
Massimo Maccarone 18

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Middlesbrough 8-1 Manchester City 11th May 2008 2007-2008
Middlesbrough 6-1 Derby County 5th March 1997 1996-1997
Middlesbrough 5-1 Derby County 3rd November 2001 2001-2002
Middlesbrough 5-1 Tottenham Hotspur 3rd May 2003 2002-2003
Middlesbrough 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 20th January 2007 2006-2007
Middlesbrough 4-0 Coventry City 7th September 1996 1996-1997
Middlesbrough 4-0 Sheffield Wednesday 3rd October 1998 1998-1999
Middlesbrough 4-0 Derby County 13th January 2001 2000-2001
Blackburn Rovers 0-4 Middlesbrough 16th October 2004 2004-2005
Middlesbrough 4-0 West Bromwich Albion 23rd April 2005 2004-2005

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Arsenal 7-0 Middlesbrough 14th January 2006 2005-2006
Middlesbrough 1-6 Arsenal 24th April 1999 1998-1999
Chelsea 5-0 Middlesbrough 5th February 1996 1995-1996
Everton 5-0 Middlesbrough 17th February 1999 1998-1999
Middlesbrough 0-5 Chelsea 18th October 2008 2008-2009
Aston Villa 5-1 Middlesbrough 17th January 1993 1992-1993
Liverpool FC 5-1 Middlesbrough 14th December 1996 1996-1997
Arsenal 5-1 Middlesbrough 20th November 1999 1999-2000
Portsmouth 5-1 Middlesbrough 15th May 2004 2003-2004
Chelsea 4-0 Middlesbrough 3rd April 1993 1992-1993

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Lennie Lawrence 1 19th May 1994
Bryan Robson 5 6th December 2000
Terry Venables 1 12th June 2001
Steve McClaren 5 11th May 2006
Gareth Southgate 3 20th October 2009
Aitor Karanka 1 16th March 2017
Steve Agnew 1 9th June 2017

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Middlesbrough 0-0 Liverpool FC 22nd November 2003 35,100 2003-2004
Middlesbrough 2-0 Norwich City 28th December 2004 34,836 2004-2005
Middlesbrough 1-0 Newcastle United 5th March 2003 34,814 2002-2003
Middlesbrough 0-0 Leeds United 26th February 2000 34,800 1999-2000
Middlesbrough 1-1 Sunderland 6th November 1999 34,793 1999-2000
Middlesbrough 1-0 Liverpool FC 21st August 1999 34,783 1999-2000
Middlesbrough 3-4 Manchester United 10th April 2000 34,775 1999-2000
Middlesbrough 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur 7th May 2005 34,766 2004-2005
Middlesbrough 2-0 Liverpool FC 20th November 2004 34,751 2004-2005
Middlesbrough 1-0 Liverpool FC 9th November 2002 34,747 2002-2003

 

Intro

Middlesbrough have featured in 14 Premier League seasons and have often been an entertaining side. Their debut season was at Ayresome Park which ended with relegation but moving into The Riverside Stadium in August 1995 gave them the platform to become a regular mid-table team. A controversial relegation in 1997 did set them back but Boro bounced back quickly and remained in the elite until 2009. The fans have had the likes of Juninho, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Gazika Mendieta and Yakubu to enjoy during the Premier League Years.

 

1992-1993

Middlesbrough had won promotion in the previous season to become among the 22 founder members of the Premier League. They started well, winning four of their first seven games including a 4-1 victory over reigning champions Leeds United. A 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace just before the New Year though saw the club go into freefall from a mid-table position. They won just three matches after the turn of the year, collecting a meagre 10 points from 54. They were relegated on the penultimate weekend and finished second-bottom, five points adrift of safety.

 

1995-1996

This was a record-breaking season for Middlesbrough off-the-pitch. They moved into their new state-of-the-art Riverside Stadium and beat Chelsea in their first match at the ground in August 1995. Two months later, player-manager Bryan Robson managed to persuade the Brazilian Footballer of the Year Juninho to join the club which briefly turned the town into scenes that matched the colourful Rio carnival!

In late October, Middlesbrough peaked in fourth place after beating Queens Park Rangers 1-0 but they couldn’t keep up with their early tempo. An eight-game losing sequence saw Robson’s side plunge down the table but they still finished a creditable 12th, five points above safety.

 

1996-1997

In the summer of 1996, Middlesbrough recruited heavily as they signed Brazilian midfielder Emerson and Champions League winning-forward Fabrizio Ravanelli. Ravanelli sparkled instantly with a hat-trick on his debut against Liverpool FC in a 3-3 draw. Boro lost just twice in the opening two months and sat fourth but a 12-game winless sequence followed which would be very damaging for the club’s survival prospects.

In deep relegation trouble before Christmas, Middlesbrough failed to fulfil a fixture away at Blackburn Rovers due to a severe injury and illness crisis. Blackburn were incensed at the postponement at such short notice and the FA sided with them. In January, Middlesbrough were docked three points and fell seven points adrift of safety.

They went on a decent run afterwards but a fixtures pile-up saw them run out of steam in the closing weeks, despite going unbeaten in their last four matches. A 1-1 draw on the final day against Leeds United condemned them to relegation, despite herculean efforts from Juninho. Had those three points not been docked, they would have survived.

Two cup final defeats added to the agony for the supporters in what was a rollercoaster season that ended with a very nasty bump.

 

1998-1999

After one season away, Middlesbrough returned to the Premier League in 1998-1999 and achieved their highest top-flight finish in over 20 years. Bryan Robson’s side started very well and even enjoyed a 3-2 victory at Old Trafford over Manchester United in December which meant they were sitting in fourth place on Christmas Day. They lost just three games at The Riverside Stadium all season and claimed a final finishing position of ninth, drawing 15 of their 38 matches.

 

1999-2000

Although Middlesbrough fell three positions in the final standings compared to 1998-1999, they achieved one more point to finish with a new Premier League high of 52 points. Three wins from their first four games had Boro into the dizzy heights of second spot. They couldn’t quite maintain that position and even fell as low as 16th after a 4-0 loss on Valentine’s Day 2000 to Aston Villa.

A strong run of just two losses from their final 12 matches took the Teesiders clear of any relegation danger. For the second successive season, Hamilton Ricard was the top goalscorer for the club, scoring 12 times.

 

2000-2001

The 2000-2001 season was a frustrating one for Bryan Robson, Steve Gibson and everyone connected with Middlesbrough. Eight defeats in nine games saw Boro hit bottom spot in the table in mid-December and Gibson decided to act. He brought in former England boss Terry Venables to joint-manage the team alongside Robson. It worked as Middlesbrough recovered to finish 14th, despite just four home victories all season. A 3-0 away victory over Arsenal was the highlight of the campaign – a result that handed the 2000-2001 championship to Manchester United.

 

2001-2002

This was Steve McClaren’s first season in-charge of Middlesbrough after he left his post as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United. Things didn’t start well as the club lost their first four Premier League matches. However, a 2-0 home victory over West Ham United started a much better run of form. Just two defeats in their next 11 games took the Teesiders away from danger. McClaren’s side beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on their way to a final finishing position of 12th.

 

2002-2003

In early October, Middlesbrough peaked in third place in the table. Early victories included a 3-0 triumph at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur. The summer arrivals of Geremi, George Boateng and Massimo Maccarone had made the team harder to beat. However, a 1-0 loss at Charlton started a dreadful run of form away from home, which saw them lose eight successive away matches without scoring.

A 5-2 home defeat to Aston Villa in late January saw McClaren go on a deadline day splurge, signing Michael Ricketts from Bolton Wanderers and the Derby County pair of Malcolm Christie and Chris Riggott. Middlesbrough eventually finished in 11th and beat Manchester United and Liverpool FC during the campaign. However, it was a slightly disappointing result given their bright start.

 

2003-2004

Middlesbrough made an appalling start to the 2003-2004 campaign, losing four of their first five matches and collecting just one point in that period. It looked like a patchy season ahead but an unbeaten eight-game sequence in the winter months took them away from danger. For the second successive season, Boro finished in 11th place so it was another mediocre league campaign.

It was a historic season though for the club. For the first time in their 128-year history, they claimed silverware, beating Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in the League Cup final.

 

2004-2005

With Middlesbrough about to embark on a European campaign, there was plenty of experienced arrivals with Ray Parlour, Mark Viduka and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink among the summer acquisitions. The club enjoyed their best-ever Premier League season, finishing in seventh position.

They found themselves up against Manchester City on the final day of the season with a point required to secure European qualification via the league. In stoppage-time, City won a penalty but Mark Schwarzer saved the spot-kick from Robbie Fowler to seal the point required that earned the club another season in the UEFA Cup.

 

2005-2006

After five years and 250 matches’ in-charge in all competitions, Steve McClaren left his position as manager at the end of the season to fill the vacancy as boss of the England national team. His final game saw the team compete in their first-ever European final, losing 4-0 in the UEFA Cup final to Spanish club Sevilla.

The league season was a major disappointment, finishing in a lowly 14th position, hurt by a succession of injuries and deep runs in three cup competitions. There were home victories against Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea but also defeats to the three newly-promoted clubs.

 

2006-2007

Club captain Gareth Southgate was appointed as McClaren’s successor for his first job in club management. His first home match in-charge was a memorable 2-1 victory over Chelsea whilst one of their most impressive displays came in January as top-four contenders Bolton Wanderers were well-beaten 5-1. However, poor away form hampered the ability for the club to escape the reaches of mid-table. Boro achieved just two away successes and finished 12th, eight points off the European positions and also eight points clear of any relegation danger.

 

2007-2008

The 2007-2008 season saw Middlesbrough play in their 4000th league game when they played Reading in March. They broke their transfer record in January to sign Afonso Alves for £12 million. Middlesbrough finished in 13th position and unrest seemed to be around the camp with three permanent captains appointed during the season. George Boateng, Julio Arca and Emanuel Pogatetz all took it in turns to wear the armband in a fairly unremarkable campaign for results.

 

2008-2009

Middlesbrough started the 2008-2009 season with their first opening day victory in eight years as they defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-1. Two wins from their first three games hinted at a more positive season in the Premier League. In mid-November, the club were sitting in the mid-table positions but a 2-1 away victory at Aston Villa was their last success in 14 games. A shock 2-0 win over title challengers Liverpool FC stopped that sequence at the end of February. However, relegation was looking more likely as the season developed and just one more victory was achieved with the club’s 11-year Premier League tenure ending on the final day of the season.

 

2016-2017

After several seasons in the doldrums in the Championship, Middlesbrough managed to win promotion back to the top-flight in 2016. However, it would turn out to be a very tricky and ultimately, unsuccessful return to the Premier League. Despite having a strong defensive record, the attacking line-up was blunted by a lack of creativity. Middlesbrough scored just 27 goals in 38 matches which was the fewest of any of the 20 clubs in the campaign.

A run of 10 games without a win saw Aitor Karanka sacked as manager in early March after a 2-0 defeat to Stoke. Steve Agnew took interim charge until the end of the season but he couldn’t revive their fortunes. Relegation back to the Championship was confirmed by a 3-0 loss to eventual champions Chelsea on 8th May 2017.

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Premier League Files: Bryan Ruiz

Premier League Career: Fulham (2011-2013)

Eight goals and 16 assists from Bryan Ruiz during his 68-game Premier League career are solid figures for a player who is considered as a national treasure for his country, Costa Rica. Ruiz is the current captain of the international team and will be skippering them in the 2018 World Cup finals this summer in Russia. He is still playing club football at a high level too, figuring prominently in the Portuguese league with Sporting Lisbon.

The left-footed attacking midfielder made his early mark in 2003 for Alajuelense in Costa Rica. This is where he built his reputation as a formidable playmaker and a regular goalscorer. It was form that he managed to transform onto the European stage when he transferred to KAA Gent in the summer of 2006. In 2007-2008, he became captain of the team and finished as their top scorer too, notching a hat-trick against Lokeren along the way.

He was one of Steve McClaren’s key signings in 2009 when he turned up at FC Twente. It was here where he arguably played the best football of his club career. By the time he left Twente in 2011, he finished with excellent figures of 35 goals in 65 league appearances. He scored in a phenomenal 10 successive matches during the 2009-2010 season and is on the list for scoring one of the quickest hat-tricks ever seen in world football. In a match against Sparta Rotterdam in March 2010, Bryan scored in the 46th, 49th and 50th minutes as Twente won another match and held off a late challenge from Ajax to become Dutch champions for the first time in their history.

He won the Dutch Cup in the following season before switching to English football on transfer deadline day in August 2011, joining Fulham for an undisclosed fee. He made his debut two weeks later against Blackburn Rovers and his first significant contribution was to earn the Cottagers a point at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day with an equalising goal. His debut season ended prematurely when he sustained a fractured metatarsal against Bolton Wanderers in April 2012 which required surgery and kept him out for 10 weeks.

Bryan’s best form at Fulham came in 2012-2013, chipping in with five goals and nine assists as Fulham finished 12th in the final standings. This was despite a constant thigh problem that kept him sidelined for eight matches. He scored twice in a home defeat by Reading towards the end of the campaign and claimed two assists in an exciting 3-3 draw with Arsenal in November 2012.

Ruiz claimed two further assists in October 2013 during a fine Fulham away display at Crystal Palace, where they won 4-1 but it was his only significant contribution to a disappointing first half of the campaign. He joined PSV Eindhoven on-loan in January 2014 and although he did return to west London to play in the Championship, Ruiz never looked comfortable playing in a lower division. He switched to Sporting Lisbon in summer 2015 and has been a figurehead of their challenge to FC Porto and Benfica on the Portuguese domestic scene.

On the international football stage, Ruiz recently won his 100th international cap for Costa Rica, having made his international debut for them in a friendly against China in 2005. He scored twice during the country’s shock run to the World Cup quarter-finals in 2014, including the winner in the group stages against four-time champions, Italy. Ruiz will be looking forward to showcasing his skills again this summer in Russia.

The Managers: Jim Smith

Premier League Clubs Managed: Derby County (1997-2001)

Jim Smith was an experienced-hand in football and managed in every single main division in English football. He spent four relatively successful seasons as a Premier League manager with Derby County and served as Harry Redknapp’s assistant at both Portsmouth and Southampton. Now aged 77, Smith earned himself the nickname “The Bald Eagle.”

Toiling as a player

Smith grew up in Sheffield and was a Sheffield Wednesday supporter as a youngster. In terms of his playing career, he toiled around in the lower leagues but he did make over 370 league appearances between 1959 and 1973.

Although he was a Wednesday fan, it was Sheffield United who signed him up as a professional, though he didn’t make a first-team appearance for the Blades. He was transferred to Aldershot Town in 1961 and would go on to play for Halifax Town, Lincoln City, Boston United and Colchester United.

By the time he’d retired as a player, Jim was already making his first strides into management. He took charge of both Boston and Colchester, guiding the Essex club to promotion from the Fourth Division in 1974.

A year later, he left Colchester for Blackburn Rovers which would be the first of seven clubs he’d take charge of on a permanent basis over nearly 30 years. Blackburn were a Second Division side at the time and Smith consolidated them initially before leading them to a promotion push in 1978. However, he wouldn’t see the season out as a new challenge awaited in the top-flight.

Being a part of transfer history

In March 1978, Birmingham City were struggling near the foot of the First Division table. England’s World Cup winning manager Sir Alf Ramsey decided to step down, not fancying relegation on his CV. Smith accepted the challenge but couldn’t keep the Blues away from the drop.

He would eventually take charge of 182 matches at St. Andrew’s and was part of football transfer history as he allowed Trevor Francis to leave and join Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest. In doing so, Francis became the first £1 million player in transfer history. Smith was allowed to re-invest the money in the rest of the playing squad and guided Birmingham back at the first attempt to the First Division.

In early 1982, Ron Saunders controversially walked out on Aston Villa; the team he’d led to the First Division title a season earlier. Birmingham sensed an opportunity and decided to sack Smith and replace him with Saunders at the end of the 1981-1982 season. Smith would later say in his book that he believed the decision to axe him was made on the team coach on the way home from the last game of the season.

Oxford United picked him up and he led them to the Third Division title in 1984 and actually achieved back-to-back promotions as they won the Second Division crown a year later. In most cases, that should give you a job for life but unfortunately for Jim, the owner of Oxford at the time was the controversial media mogul, Robert Maxwell. Maxwell refused to enter discussions for a new contract, so Smith left after the consecutive title success to take the job at Queens Park Rangers.

Maxwell got his revenge on his former boss in 1986 as Oxford beat QPR 3-0 in the League Cup final. After three years in west London, he made the move to manage Newcastle United in December 1988. Like many before and after him, he found the going very tough on Tyneside and by March 1991, with little progress being made and a power struggle in the boardroom at St. James’ Park, he resigned. Later, he claimed Newcastle United are “unmanageable.”

Near-miss with Pompey

In the summer of 1991, his next port of call was Portsmouth where the 1991-1992 season saw a near-miss in the world’s oldest domestic cup competition. Pompey reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup before losing a penalty shootout to eventual winners Liverpool FC.  A year later, they came within an inch of automatic promotion to the Premier League but missed out to West Ham United on goal difference, then losing in the play-off semi-finals.

Star player Guy Whittingham was sold to Aston Villa in the summer of 1993, following the likes of Darren Anderton and John Beresford who were transferred away from the club a season earlier. No money was made available for adequate replacements and in January 1995, he was sacked and briefly had a spell as chief executive of the LMA (League Managers’ Association).

In the summer of 1995, he returned to the dugout as manager of Derby County, bringing in Steve McClaren as a first-team coach. He finally made it to the promise land of the Premier League. Derby beat promotion rivals Crystal Palace 2-1 in April 1996 to secure the runners-up spot in the First Division behind champions Sunderland.

He added the likes of Croatian defender Igor Stimac, midfielder Aljosa Asanovic and the unheralded forward Paulo Wanchope and Derby finished a comfortable 12th in their first Premier League season, beating Manchester United 3-2 at Old Trafford along the way.

Even better was to come for the Derby faithful as the 1990s drew to a close.

Feeling Pride at Pride Park

1996-1997 was Derby County’s final season at The Baseball Ground and they would move that summer into a new stadium. Jim would feel great pride at being the first Derby manager to coach at Pride Park. The first game against Wimbledon was abandoned due to a floodlight failure but he made them very difficult to beat at home.

Derby beat Arsenal 3-0, held Manchester United to a 2-2 draw and crushed Southampton 4-0. They remained unbeaten on home soil until Leeds United picked up a 5-0 victory in mid-March. That loss did take the life out of the Rams season but they still finished a creditable ninth in the table.

They improved a season later to eighth, with another scalp being a 2-1 triumph at Anfield over Liverpool FC. Smith had made Derby an attractive side to watch, with the creative talents of Wanchope, Dean Sturridge, Francesco Baiano and Stefano Eranio matched by the grit of goalkeeper Mart Poom, defender Chris Powell and midfielder Lee Carsley.

The next two seasons were a much bigger struggle, with the club finishing near the lower reaches of the Premier League table. After winning just one of his first seven games in 2001-2002, Derby decided to make a change. They offered Smith a Director of Football position but he turned it down and as a result, tendered his resignation in October 2001. Colin Todd would replace him.

He said: “I appreciated the chairman offering me the position of Director of Football, but felt I had more to offer the club. I will always appreciate Derby County and their magnificent fans for everything they have done for me and my family.”

Becoming a no.2

After his exit from Derby, Jim Smith became an assistant manager for the majority of the rest of his time in football. In January 2002, he was made assistant to Roland Nilsson at Coventry City but was sacked three months later as the Sky Blues failed to launch a challenge for a play-off place.

Harry Redknapp added him to his staff at Portsmouth and Jim played an important part in the south coast’s side promotion as First Division champions in 2003. The pair remained together until November 2004 when Redknapp resigned following a row with owner Milan Mandaric over the appointment of a Director of Football. A month later, Smith would rejoin Redknapp a few miles down the road at Southampton but they couldn’t save the Saints from sliding into the Championship. He was made redundant in a round of job cuts following their failure to preserve their top-flight status, much to Redknapp’s chagrin.

He returned to the main hotseat of one of his former clubs, Oxford United in March 2006, holding the role for 18 months as Oxford struggled in non-league football. He also took a seat on the board before severing his ties with the club in 2009.

With 34 years’ experience in the game, Jim Smith was one of the most respected and well-liked personalities in football and put Derby County well and truly on the Premier League map in the late 1990s.

The Managers: Steve McClaren

Premier League Clubs Managed: Middlesbrough (2001-2006), Newcastle United (2015-2016)

Steve McClaren is hoping to follow in the footsteps of managers like David Moyes, Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce, all considered being past their sell-by-date as top-flight bosses but who have managed to return to the Premier League dugout in 2017-2018.

McClaren is currently out of work but is hoping this will change. His most recent role was as a coaching consultant with Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv. He guided Middlesbrough to a UEFA Cup final in 2006 and took FC Twente to a surprising Dutch title four years later. However, his dreadful reign as England manager seems to have scarred his reputation with both chairman and the media for good.

A loyal assistant

His playing days were nothing special to write home about. He played for Hull City, Derby County, Lincoln City, Bristol City and Oxford United before injury forced him to retire in 1992.

After retiring from playing, McClaren began his coaching career as a youth and reserve team coach at Oxford United, before moving back to Derby County in 1995, where he served as assistant manager to Jim Smith. Together, they won promotion to the Premier League and they established the Rams as a consistent top 10 side in the Premier League.

In early 1999, Manchester United were looking for a new assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson as his long-time no.2 Brian Kidd had elected to take the managerial post at Blackburn Rovers. McClaren got the role and his first game next to Ferguson saw the Red Devils win 8-1 away at Nottingham Forest. It was a wonderful first few months in the role with United winning the treble, consisting of the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. Another two Premier League titles followed in 2000 and 2001 and he was one of the first to embrace the new technologies of using sports psychologists and video analysis to enhance player performances.

In 2000, he combined his Manchester United role with a position on the coaching staff with the England international team. McClaren served as assistant to Sven-Goran Eriksson from November 2002 all the way until his departure after the 2006 World Cup finals.

Boro breakthrough

In the summer of 2001, Steve elected to move into management, realising his chances of succeeding Ferguson as Manchester United manager as slim. Southampton and West Ham United both approached him but he turned both clubs down and was appointed Middlesbrough manager after impressing owner Steve Gibson in an interview.

His first two seasons at The Riverside Stadium are solid, if unspectacular. Middlesbrough finish 12th and 11th in the table respectively and make the FA Cup semi-finals in 2002 before losing at Old Trafford to Arsenal.

The big breakthrough came in the 2003-2004 season. Despite another mid-table finish in the Premier League, Middlesbrough claimed silverware for the first time in their 128-year history. They knocked out Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal before defeating Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in the League Cup final.

This meant European football would follow in 2004-2005 and McClaren was able to attract the likes of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Mark Viduka and Michael Reiziger to the club in the close season. Middlesbrough made the last-16 of the UEFA Cup before bowing out to Sporting Lisbon, who will go on to make the final. There is progress in the league too. Boro finish in seventh position which is their best finish in the top-flight in 30 years.

His most dramatic season at the helm was his last one on Teeside. Middlesbrough struggled to 14th position in the league with some disastrous results; including a 7-0 beating at Highbury away to Arsenal. However, they achieved far better success in the cup competitions. They reached the FA Cup semi-finals before losing to West Ham United and enjoy some stunning nights in the UEFA Cup. Both FC Basel and FCSB of Romania hold four-goal leads during the two-legged ties and will be eliminated in dramatic conclusions to these matches. For the first time in their history, Middlesbrough reached a European final but they are no match for Sevilla in the showpiece event, losing 4-0.

He left at the end of the season with the biggest job in international management ready for him.

The England nightmare

When Luiz Felipe Scolari elected to turn down the position of becoming England manager, McClaren got the job in May 2006, edging out Sam Allardyce to the position. Many England fans were unconvinced by the FA’s choice and that was further outlined when he decided to leave national treasure David Beckham out of his early international plans. John Terry was appointed captain.

Qualification for EURO 2008 was meant to be straightforward but the first signs of problems occurred when England were held to a goalless draw at home by FYR Macedonia. Days later, the Three Lions lost 2-0 to Croatia and another defeat in Moscow to Russia left England’s qualification firmly in the balance. He didn’t help his relationship with the press after walking out of a press conference following an unconvincing 3-0 victory over Andorra, saying: “Gentlemen, if you want to write whatever you want to write, you can write it because that is all I am going to say. Thank you.”

Victory at Wembley Stadium over Croatia in their final match would guarantee qualification. Anything else would likely lead to elimination as on the same night, Russia were playing no-hopers Andorra. It is a night Steve McClaren will probably never be able to erase from his memory.

First, he was photographed on a filthy, wet evening in an umbrella to protect him from the elements. This earned him the nickname; “The Wally with the Brolly!” Secondly, he dropped experienced goalkeeper Paul Robinson for rookie Scott Carson and this backfired when Carson allowed an early Niko Kranjcar shot to spill through his fingers and into the net. Lastly, England lost the game 3-2, despite recovering a two-goal deficit in the second half. Russia beat Andorra, so England failed to qualify for a major tournament for the first time since the 1994 World Cup.

A day later, McClaren was sacked. His tenure is the second shortest in history of managing the England national team. His reputation and creditability had been completely destroyed.

Rebuilding himself

Steve moved abroad and took a job in Dutch football with FC Twente. He spent two seasons with them, making them a strong force in the domestic game. In 2010, Twente saw off challenges from perennial title winners Ajax and PSV Eindhoven to become Dutch champions by just one point. He became the first Englishman to win a league title abroad since Sir Bobby Robson had won the Portuguese league title with FC Porto in 1996.

He admitted this was his best achievement in football, saying: “Winning the Carling Cup with Middlesbrough was special but this is pretty much right up at the top of anything I’ve ever done. To win a championship in a foreign country with foreign coaches, I think it’s made me stronger.”

He left after his achievement and tried his luck in the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg; it didn’t work out as well as he hoped. Poor results saw him dismissed by the 2009 German champions in February 2011. After an unsuccessful spell at Nottingham Forest, McClaren returned to FC Twente for a second time in January 2012. However, he couldn’t rekindle the spirit of his first stint there and resigned a year later.

Following a stint in-charge of Derby County, McClaren returned to the Premier League in 2015; nine years after he left Middlesbrough. He succeeded John Carver as manager of Newcastle United. He was on the backfoot from the outset. Newcastle went eight games without a win at the start of the season and although there were brilliant victories in December 2015 over Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur, it always looked like he was fighting a losing battle on Tyneside.

With the club in the bottom three, a damaging 3-1 home defeat to AFC Bournemouth in March 2016 left him firmly in the firing line with the Geordie supporters. He was sacked five days after this loss to the Cherries.

He had a brief second spell as Derby County manager and is aiming at returning to management in the near future. Whilst he waits, he is currently working as a pundit for the EFL television coverage on Sky Sports. Hopefully, he won’t react as dramatically as he did when working for Sky after England’s shock loss to Iceland at EURO 2016!

Memorable Matches: Middlesbrough 4-3 Bolton Wanderers (March 2006)

Goalscorers: Stelios Giannakopoulos 3, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 8 PEN, 47, Mark Viduka 30, Jay-Jay Okocha 58, Radhi Jaidi 81, Stuart Parnaby 90

Teams:

Middlesbrough: Mark Schwarzer, Andrew Davies, Ugo Ehiogu, Stuart Parnaby, Emanuel Pogatetz, Franck Queudrue, George Boateng, James Morrison (Lee Cattermole 62), Fabio Rochemback (Stewart Downing 83), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Yakubu 73), Mark Viduka

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Tal Ben-Haim, Ricardo Gardner, Radhi Jaidi, Joey O’Brien, Gary Speed (Abdoulaye Faye 85), Kevin Nolan (Hidetoshi Nakata 72), Jay-Jay Okocha, Stelios Giannakopoulos, Kevin Davies, Henrik Pedersen (Jared Borgetti 53)

Referee: Howard Webb, Attendance: 25,971

On Mothers’ Day 2006, Middlesbrough faced Bolton Wanderers in what turned out to be another pulsating afternoon at The Riverside Stadium. Boro had already featured in exciting encounters with Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan Athletic and the home crowd were going to be treated to seven goals, last-minute drama and plenty of errors from both teams.

It was reported that both Steve McClaren and Sam Allardyce were in the running to succeed Sven-Goran Eriksson as England manager after the 2006 World Cup finals, so there was a bit more incentive in this one for the two managers. Bolton were enjoying the better season domestically and took the lead after only three minutes. From a Jussi Jaaskelainen goal-kick, Middlesbrough had at least two opportunities to clear but didn’t and Stelios Giannakopoulos punished them to give the visitors the early lead.

Middlesbrough recovered quickly and by the half-hour mark, they were leading. First, Joey O’Brien was spotted by Howard Webb handling the ball from a free-kick and corrected awarded a penalty. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s spot-kick was not his finest but he just squeezed it underneath Jaaskelainen to find the equaliser. Then, Mark Viduka was played onside and latched onto Hasselbaink’s knockdown to earn Middlesbrough a half-time lead.

Both defences were looking ropey and the pattern continued into the second half. Middlesbrough went 3-1 ahead on 47 minutes. Hasselbaink latched onto a long pass and got to the ball before the onrushing Jaaskelainen. He dinked his effort over the Finnish goalkeeper to put clear daylight between the sides. It was also Middlesbrough’s 500th goal in the Premier League.

That should have finished Bolton off but they produced a stirring comeback. Five minutes after his arrival from the bench, Jared Borgetti was fouled by Ugo Ehiogu in the penalty area. Webb awarded his second penalty of the afternoon. Jay-Jay Okocha’s penalty was poor and Mark Schwarzer guessed right to deny him but only momentarily. The Nigerian was sharpest to the rebound to score and bring Allardyce’s side back into the match. Nine minutes from time, they levelled proceedings. Okocha’s cross found an unmarked Radhi Jaidi and the Tunisian centre-back made no mistake with his header to beat Schwarzer.

Despite it being 3-3, there was a sense that one side would snatch all three points and it was Middlesbrough who ended up on the right part of the scoreline. Substitute Yakubu put in a decisive ball into the danger area and defender Stuart Parnaby was in the right place to make the contact required. Jaaskelainen was beaten and so were Bolton Wanderers. McClaren also beat Allardyce to the England vacancy by the end of the season but Bolton did finish six places higher in the final table.

Premier League Files: Cheick Tiote

Premier League Career: Newcastle United (2010-2016)

Cheick Tiote had a very impressive football career. A title winner in the Netherlands and part of the Ivory Coast squad that won the 2015 African Cup of Nations, he spent seven seasons with Newcastle United and always gave his all to the club. He was a fans’ favourite and he will be dearly missed by so many in the game.

He arrived on Tyneside in the summer of 2010 after impressing for Anderlecht in Belgium, then being part of the FC Twente squad that surprised Dutch heavyweights Ajax and PSV Eindhoven to win the 2009-2010 Eredivisie title. Steve McClaren was in charge of the club at the time and he would recommend Tiote to the Newcastle board before signing on at St James’ Park. On joining the club, he told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle: “It’s a great thrill for me to be joining such a famous club as Newcastle United.”

His debut was an impressive one at Goodison Park against Everton. Newcastle won the game 1-0 with a brilliant strike from Hatem Ben Afra but it was Tiote’s control of the midfield that won many plaudits. He achieved a 100% pass success rate, was successful in every tackle he made and even managed a shot on target, which wasn’t one of his main strengths.

In February 2011, he went down in Newcastle folklore with his one and only goal for the club. Tiote hit an unstoppable 25-yard volley to complete the club’s amazing comeback in a home match with Arsenal. Alan Pardew’s side were 4-0 down at half-time but came back to claim an unlikely and heroic draw. Tiote’s goal was voted in the Premier League’s top three strikes of the season.

Many believed his best season came in 2011-2012. Despite a knee injury in October that sidelined him for two months and international commitments, Tiote made 24 appearances in all competitions and played a major role in the club’s outstanding season. His shielding role protected the defenders and enabled the creative talents of Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Papiss Cisse to sparkle. Newcastle went into the final day still with an outside chance of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. A 3-1 defeat to Everton ensured they would finish fifth but above Chelsea and Liverpool FC. Two seasons after returning to the top-flight, life felt good for the Geordie faithful.

Tiote was linked to several Premier League clubs that summer. Manchester United and Arsenal both made tentative enquiries but Newcastle insisted he wasn’t for sale. 2012-2013 was a disappointing season for player and club and saw him pick up the only red card of his Newcastle league career in a Tyne & Wear derby against Sunderland.

Pardew noted his leadership qualities though in the dressing room and when Fabricio Coloccini was ruled out of a game against Liverpool FC in October 2013, Tiote wore the armband for the first time in his Newcastle career. In January 2014, he scored a fantastic goal against Manchester City which was controversially and wrongly disallowed by the officials. Tiote was already celebrating what he thought was only his second goal for the club but Mike Jones chalked the goal off. He believed Yoan Gouffran had interfered with Joe Hart’s vision of the strike. It was an extremely harsh decision.

Injuries started to take their toll and when Pardew left to fill the Crystal Palace vacancy in January 2015, Tiote’s form tailed off. He was linked to moves abroad but despite interest from Russian and Turkish clubs, no formal bids were made. In 2015-2016, he often had to play back-up to Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum and he couldn’t stop the club sliding back into the Championship.

With the likes of Jack Colback and Isaac Hayden now part of the Newcastle midfield choices; Rafa Benitez elected to keep Tiote for the 2016-2017 campaign but only as a squad player. He came off the bench in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa and featured in both FA Cup third round ties against Birmingham City in January 2017. However, his days at the club were numbered.

He was sold to the riches of the Chinese League, joining Beijing Enterprises in February 2017. He appeared in every league match for the side including a 4-2 win on Saturday, 3 June against Yingli Yitong in a 4-2 victory.

On 5 June 2017, Tiote suffered a suspected heart attack in training with his Chinese club and collapsed. He was rushed to hospital but despite the best efforts of medical staff, he died later in the day. He was just 30-years-old.

Whilst at Newcastle, he discussed about his upbringing, mentioning: “Growing up in Abidjan, I knew what I wanted to do and made sure that this was going to be my life. But I worked and worked and worked for it and it is because of that hard work that I have managed to make it.”

Cheick Tiote leaves behind many memories for Newcastle United fans. His death is a sad end to a strong and combative career which provided moments many won’t forget – especially that goal against Arsenal.

My thoughts are with Newcastle United, Beijing Enterprises and Cheick’s family and friends.

Cheick Tiote – 1986-2017

TRIBUTES TO CHEICK TIOTE

Rafa Benitez (Newcastle United manager): “It is with great sadness that I have this afternoon learned of Cheick’s death. In all the time that I have known him, he was a true professional, dedicated, talented, and above all, a great man. Our hearts go out to his family and friends at such a sad time.”

Alan Pardew (Newcastle United manager – 2010-2014): “From the moment I arrived at Newcastle, Cheick was a wonderful presence around the dressing room and his performances on the field often defied belief. None of us will ever forget that incredible day when our Newcastle team came from 4-0 down to draw an unbelievable Premier League game against Arsenal, with Cheick’s incredible goal in the final moments of that game one of the iconic moments in Premier League history.”

“To hear the news that he has passed away at the age of 30 breaks my heart and my sympathies go out to all his family and friends who will be devastated by this news. Life if not fair sometimes and I will remember Cheick Tiote as a giant of a midfielder who I loved to managed. I loved him. He’s everything that you want in a Newcastle player. He has the quality, and of course you’ll never underestimate the fact that he wants to win.”

Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace player): “May God watch over you! Words fail me to describe my sadness…I’m really devastated. We will all miss you.” #RIPCheicky

Lynsey Hipgrave (Newcastle fan and presenter of the Football League show on Channel Five): “So shocked & saddened to hear of the passing of Cheick Tioté, so so young. Thoughts with his friends & family. #nufcfamily

Siem de Jong (Ex-Newcastle teammate of Tiote): “Terrible news, R.I.P. Tiote. Always enjoyed sitting next to you in the dressing room my friend.”

Paul Dummett (Newcastle United player): “Gutted to hear the news. A real nice guy. He helped me a lot as I was breaking into the first team so I can’t thank him enough.