Robson faces up to his first crisis
Monday 15 January 1996
Middlesbrough 2 Arsenal 3
England expects what all of Teesside fears, judging by the latest pronouncements on the identity of Terry Venables' successor. And Bryan Robson's denial of interest has hardly been unequivocal.
"I'm fed up with talking about England," he said, after Saturday's setback at the Riverside Stadium, before deciding it was less painful to discuss his own position than Middlesbrough's fourth successive Premier League defeat.
"Terry's decision took me by surprise, but rather than try to find a new man it would be better to try to talk him round. I'm quite happy here at Middlesbrough, but I'll be speaking to Terry and the FA to find out the position."
The latest theory sees Robson taking control, but with either Venables or Howard Wilkinson on hand to offer advice. It is something he could do with right now, as he faces the first hint of a crisis in his 18 months as a manager.
Shorn of four key defenders and his second-top scorer, and unable to play himself because of a recurring sciatica problem, Robson lost two more first-teamers - Jamie Pollock carried off, Alan Moore sent off - and all three points to a side finally emerging from their winter hibernation.
Juninho's dazzling runs from deep provided most of the excitement, but too often he lacked support, and his colleagues gave away possession with infuriating regularity. Arsenal, in control after Paul Merson advanced on to John Jensen's through-ball and coolly volleyed them into an early lead, briefly lost the script either side of half-time.
While Tony Adams appealed, with some justification, for offside against Juninho, the Brazilian seized on Jan-Age Fjortoft's backheel to crash home his second Premiership goal, and then sent in Philip Stamp shortly after the resumption.
Two defensive lapses in three minutes put the Gunners back in front, however, with David Platt mopping up after Ian Wright's header had come back off the post, and Glenn Helder finally breaking his duck after Nigel Pearson's desperate clearance had set up a chance even the Dutchman could not miss.
The game ended acrimoniously, with the substitute Moore planting an elbow on the chin of Arsenal full-back Gavin McGowan as the pair chased a routine ball. Whereas the Dixon-Ginola spat called for a second opinion, referee Graham Poll ordered an instant adjudication.
"If you raise your hands or arms you will be ejected from the field," quoted Bruce Rioch, adding, a little peevishly, "what does surprise me is that managers get the blame for the incident. The elbow has been used more often in the last three or four years than in the period I played." Terry McDermott may disagree, but that is another story.
Goals: Merson (7) 0-1; Juninho (38) 1-1; Stamp (56) 2-1; Platt (59) 2-2; Helder (62) 3-2.
Middlesbrough (5-3-2): Walsh; Liddle, Pearson, Vickers, Whelan, Blackmore; Stamp, Juninho, Pollock (Moore, 41); Barmby, Fjortoft. Substitutes not used: Moreno, Wilkinson.
Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Adams, Keown, McGowan; Merson, Platt, Jensen, Helder; Bergkamp, Wright. Substitutes not used: Linighan, Dickov, Clarke.
Referee: G Poll (Tring).
Sending-off: Middlesbrough: Moore.
Bookings: Middlesbrough: Barmby. Arsenal: Wright.
Man of the match: Juninho.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
Latest in Sport
World Cup 2014 final - Germany vs Argentina preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more
Germany vs Argentina World Cup final 2014: Five reasons why Argentina will win the World Cup
Thomas Vermaelen to Manchester United: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger thwarting Louis van Gaal over transfer
World Cup 2014 final - Germany vs Argentina preview: German team ethic tests Lionel Messi's ability to meet the challenge
Brazil vs Netherlands World Cup 2014: Arrogant Brazilian team may never be forgiven by the fans
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 5 Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...
£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...