March 14, 2013 by Made In Brum
In the opposite corner this week is Jon Firby, who is a season ticket holder at Middlesbrough. I asked him a few questions on Middlesbrough and this is what he had to say…
Your manager, Tony Mowbray, is obviously a club legend. He was Middlesbrough born and bred, played for you for 9 years – captain for 6 of them – you’ve even named your fanzine ‘Fly me to the moon’, based on a quote about Mowbray. But having been in charge here for 3 years, what are your impressions of him as a manager? Do you idolise him as much a manager as you did when he played for you?
He’s a good, honest, loyal bloke. We pride ourselves at Middlesbrough of our local roots and are proud to have a local ex captain in charge. As a manager he does like to tinker with his team but when he was doing so at the start of the season we didn’t complain. I have questioned a few of his decisions (the dropping of McDonald at the start of the season) but overall he is currently the right man for the job.
You’ve had a couple of good runs in the UEFA Cup, and of course reached the final in 2006. Did you go to any of those European away games? If so, which was your favourite trip and why?
I was lucky enough to get to a fair few European away trips, including the final, and despite losing 4-0 I would say the final was my favourite trip. It was a gloriously hot day and there was a party atmosphere like I’ve never experienced before. Obviously the game was disappointing but there isn’t many supporters who can say they watched their team in a European final.
Who would you say are your main rivals?
Currently for me, being a Yorkshire lad, it’s Leeds United.
When you were relegated in 2009 under Gareth Southgate, did the fact that you were relegated alongside Newcastle make it slightly more bearable?
I don’t think it was ever bearable with the success we had the previous few seasons. Newcastle were good enough to go back up, we weren’t. That bit hurt quite a lot.
If you could select an all-time Middlesbrough team and manager, who would you pick? You may expand on your choices.
Out of the players I have seen I would chose: Schwarzer, Queudrue, Woodgate, Mills, Southgate, Boateng, Juninho, Emerson, Mendieta, Viduka and Ravanelli. When you list them like that its quite amazing some of the players we have had at the club. I’m sure I’ve missed some obvious choices but these 11 jump straight out at me. Manager? It would have to be Steve McLaren. He has his critics but he managed us through our best ever spell in our history.
When he could have gone to a top European club and you had just been promoted in 95 I think it was, how the hell did you manage to persuade Juninho to sign for you?!
I think Bryan Robson was the key in getting The Little Man to sign. At the time he was a massive name in football, and obviously Middlesbrough area is easy to sell to Brazilians due to the climate, women, food (Parmo) and the fans.
It’s certainly fair to say you’ve hit a rough patch in your season, having lost 9 of your 12 games since the turn of the year. What do you put it down to?
I don’t know if we overachieved early on or if we have been found out. We seemed to have struggled defensively all season, but now the goals have dried up everyone in the team is under pressure to perform.
On the other hand, you’re also just 3 points off the play-offs. Could you see yourselves turning your form around and starting to challenge for a play-off spot again, or do you think you’ll totally capitulate?
To be brutally honest, I think we have little chance getting into the play-offs. We are struggling in all departments and every chance we have had to turn our season around we spurned. After playing well against Chelsea and beating Cardiff I thought we had turned a corner but alas, we had not.
For us Bluenoses making the 3 hour trip up to your place, what pub would you recommend for a pre-match drink?
Middlesbrough is a decent town for a pre match beer. You can mix with the home fans and there is never any bother. I would recommend Dr Browns followed by some pre-game roasties from the nearby Good Food Joint. And don’t forget after the game to try a Parmo!!
And finally, your prediction for Saturday…
Like I said, we are struggling. I’ll go for a 1-1 draw
Questions by Gabriel Sutton.
My thanks to Jon Firby for his answers.