Friday, April 07, 2006

Time for Teesside

Much as there's no real rivalry between us and Middlesbrough (when we play you, Smoggies, it's NOT A DERBY, understand?), I wanted them to lose in last night's UEFA Cup quarter-final - primarily because if they persist in believing themselves our rivals then I wouldn't want to disappoint them by cheering them on in Europe.

So it's only grudgingly that I concede their 4-3 aggregate triumph (4-1 on the night with a last minute goal) was some performance, and a very enjoyable evening's entertainment.

Now I'm wondering what bearing the result might have on how Sunday's non-derby clash at the Riverside pans out. When the fans have finally stopped waving their foam hands and pogoing to 'Pigbag', how will the team respond? Well, call me foolish, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the onlooking Glenn Roeder will think it plays into our hands.

Not only will they be tired and ripe for a Cup hangover, but they have their eyes on a big prize now, not to mention the FA Cup quarter-final replay against Charlton which follows next week. Sunday's game is easily the lowest in terms of priority - a little bit of grit, determination and quality and we can return with the points from a ground that Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd have all left empty-handed this season.

Of course, let's just hope I'm not tempting fate. After all, if there's a Premiership defence that knows how to collapse as spectacularly as Basle did last night, then it's us...


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