It as an achievement in itself that Middlesbrough have reached Christmas with their eyes on continental horizons rather than the safety net at the foot of the Premiership. To make it into the Uefa Cup would be an achievement of historic proportions for Steve McClaren, but to make the push back up from mid-table his side will have to rediscover some of their early-season sparkle. They have slipped from third place since October, though they remain unbeaten at the Riverside. They have two obvious Achilles heels. With McClaren favouring the deployment of two forwards and an attacking support player, his three-man midfield can be over-run. He also could do with some more goals from his first-choice front men. Massimo Maccarone has not scored since September and Alen Boksic has scored just once.
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