Ahead of tonight’s ‘clash in the cold’ we got the chance to interview Yorkshire Post cartoonist and big Middlesbrough Fan Graeme Bandeira about all things Boro.
Firstly how long have your affiliations been with Boro?
A few vague recollections from the early 80's but my first full season was 1984
Favourite ever players for Boro?
Juninho is the greatest player I have ever seen in a Boro shirt. He was sensational. Bernie Slaven - who is now a good friend, was a hero of mine and more recently Gareth Southgate who captained us to our first major trophy.
Memorable era or season which sticks out more than most?
The successive promotion seasons under Bruce Rioch and captained by Tony Mowbray after the club was liquidated in 1986.
Also the rather eventful season under Bryan Robson when we had Juninho, Ravanelli and Emerson and managed to get relegated after being docked 3 points for failing to fulfill a fixture. We also lost both cup finals, one on a replay after extra time! Some of our attacking play that season was breathtaking but defensively we were Sunday league.
Games with Leeds that stand out? (my first was the game in 1974/75)
That fateful day when we were relegated and Juninho was sat down contemplating his future. We needed to win on the final day but could only manage a draw.
Garry Monk...Bad appointment or not given the time he needed?
I don't think Monk was given enough time. I thought it was a hasty decision by Steve Gibson particularly after a good win at Hillsborough.
However I also believe that the players weren't fully onboard with Monk's philosophy or his aloof ways of dealing with players so whilst out of character I understand why the chairman acted in this way. We were falling below the expected levels of achievement but things sometimes take longer so I would have been happy for him to see out the season.
Tony Pullis...Is he the man to finish what Monk started?
Not really. They both have very contrasting styles and whilst we look to play with more aggression and purpose results are still erratic. I'd put this down to the personnel that we have rather than management. On the plus side we have a manager with a wealth of experience and he rules with a bit of fear and he seems to be getting more effort and concentration from players. I think he needs a full pre season to assess things and bring in his own type of players.
Is Paul Heckingbottom the man to stop the ‘revolving’ manager’s door at Leeds and your opinion of the appointment of the ex-Barnsley boss?
I think it's a good appointment. Underwhelming but steady and probably the right way to go. He did well at Barnsley. My only concerns would be how he works with Victor Orta and whether or not he is allowed to form a team of his own making. That could be problematic if the owner allows the Director of Football to dictate. With any process like that you end up with conflict and mixed messages and a team is not allowed to form and flourish.
Two to go up automatically and the team to go up through the playoffs?
Wolves and Cardiff look good bets right now to go up automatically and I really like the look of Fulham. I think their manager is exceptional.
Three for the drop?
Sunderland, Burton and Barnsley.
Score and Scorers for Fridays clash in the cold?
1-1 Bamford and Alioski
We’d like to thank Graeme Bandeira for taking the time to do our interview and wish him the best of luck for the season.
By Keith Ingham