The former Riverside Stadium coach talks all things Boro with HITC Sport.
Middlesbrough got a taste of the high life again last season, with the notable scalp of then reigning Premier League champions Manchester City secured in the fourth round of the FA Cup, before Arsenal proved too strong at the next stage.
Boro also pushed Liverpool all the way in their League Cup tie at Anfield, with the Reds eventually prevailing at the end of an epic penalty shoot-out which ended 14-13.
More of the same will be expected at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening, with Manchester United the next top-flight outfit thrust into the path of a potential banana skin.
Middlesbrough, of course, have plenty of Premier League pedigree, but they have been outside of the elite for some seven seasons now, and have not knocked on the door all that often since slipping into the Championship.
They were, however, to reach the play-off final in 2014/15, before coming unstuck against Norwich City, and the hope is, with investment made over the summer, that the path back to the big time is opening up once more for the North East outfit.
Viv Anderson knows what success means to the Boro faithful, having formed part of Bryan Robson’s coaching staff during his stint at the helm, and he believes the Riverside Stadium will be playing host to top level football again in the near future.
Anderson, who was speaking at GameChangers Football as part of his role as ambassador for the Nottingham City of Football project, told HITC Sport during a phone interview: “They’ve done a good job. They were close last year and I think it is only a matter of time. Whether it is this year, I’m not really sure. They have strengthened again forward-wise, but losing (Patrick) Bamford was a big blow to them – they couldn’t buy him and he had done really well for them. But, they have started reasonably well.”
On Boro rolling the transfer dice again over the summer, with big money invested in the likes of Stewart Downing and David Nugent, Anderson added: “You have to look at the rewards of getting in this year. They are not alone there in gambling and putting money in, a few other teams in the Championship have pumped more money in to try and get themselves back up into the Promised Land with the big money next year. It’s big for everybody. That’s why managers and owners are panicking with the ones at the bottom, because they can’t come out of the Premier League this year because the loss of finance will be severe to them.”
Steve Gibson is the man who continues to make that money available, with the long-serving owner/chairman seemingly as committed to the cause as he has ever been.
Anderson believes he ranks among the best in the business when it comes to the successful running of a football club, with the right balance struck between offering support when required and leaving those charged with the task of generating results on the field to get on with their job.
He said: “For me, I think he’s the best. He lets you get on with it. We were there eight years and I think we had a board meeting twice, and that was in the pub!
“He’s very hands on, not in the sense that he meddles, he’s hands on in the sense that if you want anything, he’s always at your beck and call. He’s brilliant, I think, excellent. He’s built a great stadium there, he’s built a second-to-none training ground and I think he should be applauded.”
Gibson certainly deserves plenty of praise for the work he has overseen, as does current manager Aitor Karanka.
It could be that both are strutting their stuff among the elite next season, with clashes against the likes of City and United no longer restricted to cup competition as the cream of English football prepare to add Teesside to their travel plans once again.
Viv Anderson is an ambassador for the Nottingham City of Football project and was taking part in GameChangers Football with GameCity. For more information and to find your football go to http://www.city-of-