Unfair to blame Scottish contingent says Robson

Last updated : 15 January 2011 By Northern Echo

It was an influx that was supposed to herald the start of better times on Teesside. Promotion

Certainly. If not in the first five months, then undoubtedly in the following campaign. Aggressive, winning football All but guaranteed given the Old Firm pedigree of the players moving south. Success on both a personal and team basis Robson certainly suggested as much in his introductory press conference.

I am here because I want to play in the Premier League,

said the former Celtic midfielder.

I am confident that will happen with M i d d l e s - brough.


T w e l v e t o r t u o u s m o n t h s on, and Robson's c o n f i - dence has been dispelled.

Instead of c o m p e t - ing in the P r e m i e r L e a g u e , Boro are battling to avoid relegation to L e a g u e One. How does the S c o t l a n d i n t e r n a - tional feel a b o u t such a d r a s t i c turn of events

When I c a m e here, I genuinely thought there was a good chance we'd go straight back into the Premier League, said Robson, who won a Scottish Premier League title and a Scottish League Cup during his time at Parkhead.

We were mid-table at the time, but although we pushed on a little bit and got close to the play-offs, we didn't quite make it.

I was frustrated that we never quite got there. I thought that this season would be totally different. But when the season started, myself, Kevin Thomson and Gary O'Neil didn't really kick a ball for the first two or three months. We were all missing and that was a huge blow.

We also had some new players trying to settle in and maybe we got ourselves into a bit of a rut early on. We weren't winning football matches and everything snowballed from there. When you get into a rut like that, it's hard to get back out again.

In the wake of last weekend's FA Cup humiliation at Burton Albion, it is fair to say Middlesbrough are still attempting to emerge from their trough.

So much has gone wrong in the last 12 months, from Strachan's zealous dismantling of the side he inherited from G a r e t h S o u t h - gate to his misguided attempts to mould a squad of winners' in his own image, it is difficult to pinp o i n t where exactly the rot set in.

In the eyes of s o m e , however, the blame lies north of the border. In the space of seven m o n t h s , Strachan s i g n e d five players from C e l t i c , two from Rangers and one from Aberdeen.

Having previously managed in the SPL, the former Boro boss clearly felt the Scottish top-flight was of a commensurate standard to the Championship. Results would suggest otherwise, but having listened to some of the less complimentary comments about Boro's Scottish contingent, Robson feels it is unfair to pin too much blame on a small section of the underperforming squad.

There weren't many Scottish players playing last weekend, were there he said. I came down here and got a Player of the Year award last season, and I'm Scottish. Does that mean I've been a failure as well in the eyes of the fans

It's easy to blame Gordon Strachan for signing players from Scotland. Yes, there are Scottish players here, but I don't think you can just pin the blame on us.

There are players here who have been at this club for a long time as well we're all in it together.

You can't pin the blame on just a handful of players and I certainly wouldn't blame the Scottish lads, just as I wouldn't blame the English boys either.

I would blame us all.

What does Scottish boys mean anyway We've got Scott McDonald, who is Australian, Willo Flood, who is Irish, and last year we had Chris Killen from New Zealand. Are they Scottish I don't think so. People can say what they like, but it's water off a duck's back for me. I don't think it's that much of a problem.

What is a concern, of course, is Boro's league position ahead of this afternoon's trip to Bristol City. Tony Mowbray's side are just one point clear of the bottom three, but having been released by Rangers as a youngster, Robson insists battling against adversity is nothing new.

I've had difficult times before,

said the 32-year-old, who has shaken off a thigh injury to take his place in the squad for today's game. At the start of my career, I had to go and play in the Scottish Third Division just to get noticed.

I spent a bit of time playing down there and it was all about character, proving people wrong and getting to where you thought you should be playing.

It was a long road. But I never want to shirk a challenge like that and I won't be shirking anything here.

Source: Northern Echo

Source: Northern Echo