Voices on the game... Middlesbrough replay
Tue 14 January 2020, 12:21|Tottenham Hotspur
We lock horns again with Middlesbrough this evening (8.05pm) in our FA Cup third round replay at the new stadium, just over a week since we played out a 1-1 draw at the Riverside.
For our regular 'voices on the game' feature, we turned to George Caulkin, Senior Writer at The Athletic and North East football specialist, for his thoughts alongside Jose Mourinho, Davinson Sanchez and Jonathan Woodgate, the former Spur returning to N17 for the first time as Middlesbrough manager.
Senior Writer, The Athletic
"Middlesbrough played really well against Derby (a 2-2 draw on Saturday) and were unlucky not to win. They are in really good form, four wins and a draw in the Championship and obviously a draw in the first game against Spurs as well. They are in form and full of confidence, which is some turn around. That’s down to a couple of things and I think the biggest is that they’ve stuck at it. Even when they were in the bottom three, the entire club were behind Jonathan Woodgate and Steve Gibson (chairman) made it very clear that they would be sticking with him. Everyone talks about atmosphere and good team spirit, but I’ve been around the club a lot this season and there has been a buzz and a spirit, and everyone says it - Woodgate, the players, the directors. The mood has not reflected where they were in the table and there was always the belief that things would turn around. It was always meant to be a transitional season, they weren’t expecting to be near the bottom of the table, but they’ve certainly benefited from having that belief in what they’re doing.
"In terms of the replay, Boro put out a strong team in the first game, and I would imagine it will be more of the same. They are in good form and a lot of the nervousness around the team when they were in a difficult position, that should be gone now. Obviously, they also have a game at Fulham on Friday night, which isn’t an easy turn around, but Jonathan will want to showcase the club, the team and both he and Robbie Keane are back on familiar ground, albeit at a different stadium. They will want to have a go. I don’t think it’s a shot to nothing for them exactly, but no-one will expect them to go through, so why not have a go? I’m sure that will be his mindset."
Head Coach, Tottenham Hotspur
"Championship teams, we know what they can do. We know what Fulham did to Villa, we know what Leeds almost did to Arsenal, we know what Middlesbrough did to us. It’s a difficult match and in our situation we are in our limits – (it was) an incredible effort against Liverpool, players were brought to a level of intensity in that game that they are not used to because Liverpool are really strong at that level, the players gave absolutely everything and to imagine that people have to play (tonight) and then Saturday again, it’s really hard. For some reason it was so difficult for us, the first game (at The Riverside), and that’s the priority, (to win)."
“I’ll learn a lot from my players in this game, especially the young ones – how do they cope with it all? It’s a big game and hopefully we can cause an upset. They’ve got an unbelievable team with an unbelievable manager, so the odds are stacked against us. Upsets do happen so you never know. It’s a fantastic stadium, a fantastic chance for our fans to go down there also to see it and experience the atmosphere as well."
Defender, Tottenham Hotspur
"It’s very important to win this game - it’s about confidence, we know that. We need some wins and then our quality is going to shine through. We can’t say that we’re going to win the FA Cup now - of course, we are thinking that - but it’s game-by-game. If maybe the result last week against Middlesbrough wasn’t good or didn’t give us the opportunity to play again at home, it means we cannot think about that. Tonight we have to do the job and then we’ll see what happens."