Date:Friday December 1 2006
Another away fixture which might show how much United have improved over the course of a year. Last season's corresponding encounter was in the middle of Fergie's darkest days as manager and it pretty much a disaster with Middlesbrough tonking us 4-1.
Boro are still as unreliable as a year before, they beat Chelsea in the midweek game then lose 4-0 at home against Aston Villa. You never know what to expect of them. But I know what to expect of United.
Sir Alex will surely wheel out the big guns after the fringe players crushed Everton and with Chelsea not in action due to European cup games, we should open up a six-point gap at the top. Middlesbrough, like Blackburn, were something like a bogey team for us in recent years so beating them away from home, just as we beat Blackburn, would be significant.
We area much better side than we were a year ago and I'm sure we won't be outclassed once again. However, losing by the odd goal can never be ruled out at the Riverside as Mourinho would surely tell us, having lost here with Chelsea in August. We will not slip up, will we?
Sir Alex Ferguson feels Middlesbrough manager should get his coaching badge before he would be allowed to manage a team in the Premier League.
'Once the door was opened by (Newcastle chairman) Freddy Shepherd, Middlesbrough were completely correct in giving the job to Gareth Southgate under exactly the same principle as (Newcastle manager) Glenn Roeder got it,' said Ferguson.
'But Gareth is different from Glenn in the sense he was a player, then the next day he becomes a manager when the job is thrust upon him.
'Managers and coaches should be completely qualified if they want to raise the standards of our game but the door is open now. How you close it I don't know.'
Gary Neville wants United to maintain their good form in the league.
'We're in a run of fixtures which saw us slip up badly last year.
'We have started in a decent way, now we must go up to Boro with the right determination and attitude.'
Southgate might have some problems in attack as Malcolm Christie and Mark Viduka are unlikely to start the game. In fact, the Australian's attacker's chances of even getting to the bench are slim. Christie is struggling with a groin strain.
The Nigerian is always a handful so Vidic and Ferdinand must be at their commanding best to stop him.
Sir Alex has no injury problems ahead of the clash (apart from Solskjaer and Park, of course). Rio Ferdinand and Cristiano Ronaldo have both recovered from minor knocks whilst Nemanja Vidic's jaw is in perfect condition now even though Fergie blasted Drogba for causing damage to the Serbian's face.
He had a 'rift' with Fergie - that means he was rested on Wednesday but should be back in the starting line-up now. He hasn't scored for a while now and I hope he'll hit the net tomorrow.
Cristiano Ronaldo have scored United's 1000. Premiership goal in last season's corresponding fixture. Shame it was in the 93rd minute with Middlesbrough leading 4-0.
Boro-United 1-2, Giggs to score.
What a week coming up! First, a crucial home game against Benfica in the Champions League then the Citizens visit Old Trafford - they are bound to get a good thumping now after all the frustrations they've caused us in recent years.
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Date:Friday December 1 2006
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|Aston Villa||1||-||1||Man Utd|
|2. Man City||22||14||5||3||23||47|
|4. Man Utd||22||11||7||4||15||40|
|7. West Ham||22||10||6||6||10||36|
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