Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ehiogu Predicts Rosy Outlook for Boro Fans

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ehiogu Predicts Rosy Outlook for Boro Fans

Article excerpt

Defender Ugo Ehiogu believes good times lie ahead at the Riverside this season.

The arrival of players like Mark Viduka, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Ray Parlour has got Middlesbrough's players buzzing as much as the fans.

Ehiogu, who played the second 45 minutes of Boro's comfortable victory at Deepdale on Saturday, said: "This is the best squad of hungry and competitive players I have known since I came to Middlesbrough.

"It's pleasing to get a group together who have been able to share similar experiences and can gel.

"Everybody knows everybody else from playing against each other and we have a mutual respect and a willingness to achieve things.

"You only have to look at the quality of players like Viduka and Hasselbaink. That's what we have needed and that's why I came here in the first place."

Steve McClaren has insisted he needs a large squad to prepare for Boro's first incursion into Europe but he has also amassed a lot of quality.

He was able to make nine changes in the second half at Preston and still field a side which looks capable of holding its own in the Premiership.

In fact, with Juninho, Massimo Maccarone and Szilard Nemeth in action after the restart, Boro looked a better side going forward in the second period.

It means selection headaches for McClaren and Ehiogu said: "You can see that we have so many good players so I don't know what the manager is going to do.

"He has to find the best 11 players and then try to mould things around that. With this squad we have to look to try to win every game."

Preston provided limp opposition on Saturday and the only surprise was that Boro didn't win by more.

They took the lead in 14 minutes thanks to a glorious finish from one of the few home-grown players in the squad.

Viduka led the ball back to Teessider Stewart Downing, whose volley gave goalkeeper Andrew Lonergan no chance.

Ironically Downing was in the side because Boro are awaiting the hoped-for signing of Dutch international Bolo Zenden this week which will further add competition for places. …

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