Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Project Emnes Back on Track; the Bigger Picture with Anthony Vickers YOU BEAUTY: Tony McMahon Shows His Appreciation after Marvin Emnes Scored Boro's First Goal

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Project Emnes Back on Track; the Bigger Picture with Anthony Vickers YOU BEAUTY: Tony McMahon Shows His Appreciation after Marvin Emnes Scored Boro's First Goal

Article excerpt

Byline: Anthony Vickers

AFTER three years, three managers and a couple of false dawns, Project Emnes is nearing completion.

When Marvellous Marvin turned sharply in the box and sweetly rammed home Boro's opening goal of the season against Portsmouth, there was a popular Riverside roar of gleeful approval and considerable critical acclaim.

He had a couple of other good efforts saved too and carved out a string of opportunities for team-mates on a day when enterprising Boro looked lively picking their way forward despite torrential conditions.

The damp post-match underpass analysis was that Emnes is Boro's biggest attacking threat and crucial to the prospects for the new campaign.

His lightning pace - he was a Dutch schools sprint champion - and a deft touch terrifies Championship defences.

But he is not "just a runner", as Gordon Strachan once sneered dismissively. His off the ball movement down the channels and exquisite close control means he can interchange passes quickly and he links up well with not just strike partner Scott McDonald, but also Boro's fluid midfield unit.

Emnes was also impressive as Boro did a solid job in the business end, the first 45 minutes of the friendly with PSV Eindhoven and alongside the Aussie helped Boro carve out an encouraging two-goal lead against a Champions League side.

He has toughened up too. A player who once was brushed aside with embarrassing ease showed against a very physical Pompey side that he can stand up to a cynical pummelling and scything tackles to punish teams.

He even got charged with violent conduct for an off the ball equaliser at street-fighting Sheffield United late last season. He is now seasoned in this league.

Emnes is now seen as a gamechanger.

So much so that the news last week that Tony Mowbray had tied him up for the next four years to keep him out of the clutches of Premier League suitors Swansea was greeted as one of the most important bits of transfer activity of the summer.

That would have been hard to believe just a year ago. Then the Dreadlocked Destroyer looked a forlorn figure. He was peripheral to the squad and regarded as an expensive mistake that would be difficult if not impossible to sell. He was seen as part of the problem, not part of the solution.

His rapid rehabilitation both as a pivotal player to the team and as a popular figure among fans is testament to the liberating approach of Mowbray.

Under Gareth Southgate Emnes had plenty of pitch time but flattered to deceive. He showed flashes of talent then disappeared for weeks.

He was signed for pounds 3.2m from Sparta Rotterdam in the summer of 2008 as "a project" and played 21 times in Boro's Premier League swansong season and scored twice - but not in the league. He netted in a 5-1 Carling Cup romp against Yeovil then again in the FA Cup at Wolves but in the bread and butter games he struggled.

Under the less indulgent Gordon Strachan he was given the blink of an eye to impress, failed and was promptly discarded. Banished to first the bench, then the stiffs and finally exiled in Wales. His future at Boro seemed bleak.

Strachan valued workrate, physicality and alert zealous tactical rigidity. He had little time for a laid-back cavalier trickster. Especially one who trailed in last in the La Manga assault course. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.