Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

In the Right

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

In the Right

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Paylor

Steve McClaren today defended his decision to rest nine players after Boro missed the chance to take all three points at Charlton Athletic.

The Boro boss was keen to keep his squad fresh for the big UEFA Cup clash in Rome on Wednesday which could open the door to Eindhoven.

Only Mark Schwarzer and Emanuel Pogatetz survived in the Boro starting line-up at The Valley from the team which met Roma last week, but Boro's much changed side still dominated against the Addicks.

The selection policy should have paid dividends because Boro have only themselves to blame for not winning the game, and McClaren told the Evening Gazette: "We made the changes but everybody could see that the team was capable of getting the result yesterday.

"We weren't peppered. We weren't under severe pressure. In fact we dominated the game.

"Concentration is something that you must produce over 90 minutes and we weren't ruthless enough in our defending, especially once we had equalised."

McClaren is well aware that, if Boro can beat Roma over the two legs, then they have every chance of going all the way to the UEFA final.

This could yet turn out to be a massive, massive season, but only on the cup front, and that's why McClaren is keen to put the emphasis where it matters.

He said: "I have to look at the bigger picture. We have big games coming up and we can't afford to take risks.

"We need fresh players for the return with Roma and we will need fresh players for the FA Cup quarter-final when we go back to Charlton.

"It's a squad game, and we used the opportunity to play players at Charlton which will keep them match fit and help the squad as a whole.

"We played well at Charlton, but we are in the results business and that's why we are bitterly disappointed today."

One of the brighter aspects of the defeat was the display of the younger players.

Adam Johnson enjoyed a sparkling game on the left flank, while Andrew Taylor played in midfield for the first time and enjoyed a busy afternoon. …

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