Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Case for the Defence

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Case for the Defence

Article excerpt

Byline: By Bernie Slaven

We're getting it sorted at the back at last.

Now a third consecutive clean sheet against Grazer AK tonight should be good enough to put us into the next round of the UEFA Cup.

If we bring 'em back here all square, then we can stuff them at the Riverside.

After all Rangers beat them 3-0 in the group stages and Rangers didn't even qualify for the third round.

But if we do get past the Austrians, then the going will get really tough.

As far as I am concerned we have had it pretty easy so far.

Banik Ostrava were no great shakes, Egaleo were hardly a team worthy of Europe, while Lazio looked no different from Coventry. They even played in Coventry's strip.

Villarreal was the toughest so far, and that's when we really found out what Europe is all about.

But Grazer AK are no Villarreal, and we can beat them.

Then we will really have to battle because it doesn't really matter if we get Feyenoord or Sporting Lisbon in the next round, because they will both be difficult.

The main thing at the moment is to keep building on the last two results and put together a couple of good performances against Grazer.

I don't know whether Steve McClaren will stick with three central defenders tonight, but it certainly worked well at Bolton.

Chris Riggott was back at the Reebok and he had a great game.

The papers were saying last week that he is an England possible, and why not?

He is still behind players like John Terry and Sol Campbell, but he's as good as Ledley King.

Riggott has bided his time and when the chance has come he has taken it.

He's shown that he is a very good player.

He is elegant and he is the best defender when coming out and passing the ball.

I'm sure that Gareth Southgate was delighted to see him back because the captain has had a lot of extra responsibility over the last few weeks.

McClaren also played Franck in the middle and I thought he did well.

He looked as though he had been playing centre-back for years.

The wing-backs did well, too, but it wasn't just about the back line because Bolton got through on a few occasions. …

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