Robson finds sentiment in short supply from Boro protégés Middlesbrough 4 - West Bromwich 0
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Steve McClaren was highly animated on the touchline as his team reclined on the luxury of a well-plumped three-goal cushion.

Steve McClaren was highly animated on the touchline as his team reclined on the luxury of a well-plumped three-goal cushion.

Bryan Robson stood deeper in the neighbouring technical area, barely moving, perhaps hoping the dug-out would swallow him up. The team Robson had led for seven years had tidily tucked away three goals in nine minutes. Szilard Nemeth, Robson's last signing for Boro, scored two and created another for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. "Robbo, Robbo, give us a wave," sang the home fans.

"The last two months had gone really well for us," Robson said, "both the way we've performed and the others' results. Now it's how we respond to the setback."

Tomorrow, West Bromwich play Blackburn before finishing against Arsenal, Manchester United and Portsmouth. "Tomorrow's massive," Robson said. "We will be out of the bottom three again if we win."

Nemeth said: "I met Robson when I came to sign here in the May [2001] but when I came back for training in the July he was gone, which was disappointing. I wanted to sign for him because I knew what a good player he was. I'd like to see him stay up because he brought me into English football."

There is little room for sentiment. Beyond three cup finals and two promotions, Robson's finest achievement at Boro is the superb training facilities he persuaded the chairman Steve Gibson to finance. In the 93rd minute, the youngster who has benefited most from those facilities, Stewart Downing, curled a beautiful free-kick into the top corner.

Three-nil is a bad enough beating; four-nil is a confidence-sapping drubbing. Robson must have feared that the momentum had been lost.

Goals: Nemeth (27) 1-0; Hasselbaink (33) 2-0; Nemeth (37) 3-0; Downing (90) 4-0.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Jones; Cooper (Davies, 37), Ehiogu, Southgate, Queudrue; Downing, Doriva, Boateng, Zenden (Parlour, 65); Nemeth (Graham, 87), Hasselbaink. Substitutes not used: Knight (gk), Wheater.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Hoult; Albrechtsen (Inamoto, 45), Gaardsoe, Clement, Robinson; Gera (Horsfield, 79), Scimeca, Wallwork, Chaplow; Campbell (Kanu, 45), Earnshaw. Substitutes not used: Kuszczak (gk), Moore.

Referee: H Webb (South Yorkshire).

Booked: Middlesbrough Downing; West Bromwich Albion Gaardsoe.

Man of the match: Jones.

Attendance: 32,951.

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