Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Priority Is Points Not Entertaining; Schwarzer Says Boro Fall into Pretty Football Trap

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Priority Is Points Not Entertaining; Schwarzer Says Boro Fall into Pretty Football Trap

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jack Pickering

GOALKEEPER Mark Schwarzer insists Middlesbrough will not repeat the mistake of trying to play attractive football and being relegated.

The 34-year-old is the only survivor from the 1996-97 side which, with Juninho, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Emerson playing, thrilled crowds.

Under Bryan Robson, that team reached the finals of both domestic cup competitions but lost each time and were relegated.

Ten years and three managers on, Gareth Southgate has vowed to bring the entertainment back to the Riverside Stadium.

However, he will not do so at the expense of points, and Schwarzer agrees. The Australian international said: "The big question is do you entertain and not get results and get relegated at the end of the season? We did it in 1996-1997.

"That was a hell of a team that entertained unbelievably and many people would say it was probably the best entertainment they had ever seen at Middlesbrough.

"But we were relegated. That does not help anyone -and you end up losing player s.

"You have to find that balance and more often than not, it is not going to be as entertaining as you would like it to be.

"As players, you want it to be more entertaining than it is, but sometimes it just does not go that way.

"In the end you would much prefer to grind out a 1 -0 result, get three points and move away from the bottom of the table than have a massively entertaining game and lose 3-2."

The entertainment debate has gathered pace in the wake of Boro's last three league games, a grinding 1-0 win over West Ham and hard-fought draws with Liverpool and Aston Villa.

It will take a similarly gritty performance against in-form Manchester United today if they are to maintain that record and stand a chance of repeating their stunning 4-1 victory over the Red Devils last season.

Schwarzer is aware of the dangers posed by England's Wayne Rooney and Frenchman Louis Saha.

He said: "Wayne Rooney is a top-class player - whether or not he is world-class at the moment is open to debate, but he is top-class and scores many great goals.

"Saha has had a long time out through injury but has come back and started to score a lot of goals. …

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