Middlesbrough 2 Reading 1

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 8:14 am    Post subject: Middlesbrough 2 Reading 1  Reply with quote   

February 26, 2007

MARK VIDUKA must have thought he was on for a standing ovation when he walked off after this stunning match-winning display.

Instead, when he got in the the dressing room, the Aussie striker, 31, got the mother of all ribbings from his side — and it is going to get worse.

The source of amusement? Step forward Fame Academy runner- up and Boro nut Alistair Griffin, who has written a catchy little number about his favourite player.

Based on the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujah, ‘Mark Viduka’ has already become a smash-hit at the Riverside.

And it was belted out by Gareth Southgate’s men after this deserved win. Viduka was not all that happy though.

He sat with his head in his hands and news of the ditty hitting Down Under and a video on the way added salt to the wound.

Boro’s Aussie international keeper Mark Schwarzer said: “It’s a great song. He’s already copping some stick about it and I’m going to make sure he gets some more from the Australia camp — I’m going to make sure they get to hear it as well.

“We played it in the dressing room afterwards and were a bit unsure about it to begin with but the chorus is pretty good.

“We all sang and I think Mark was a little bit embarrassed by it but I think he enjoyed it.

“That’s the type of guy he is. I don’t want to point my finger at anyone but I think Colin Cooper had something to do with it.

“Somehow I don’t think the song will be a serious rival to Kylie back home — even if he does do a cameo in the video. Then again, no one rivals Kylie.

“This is the first I’ve heard of there being a video and we should start a rumour right now!”

Viduka was certainly hitting the right notes for Boro and when the big man plays like this, there is no one better.

His impudent back-heeled goal got things rolling on seven minutes, then followed a masterclass in holding up the ball.

He was a brilliant foil for Yakubu throughout and set up the Nigerian’s cracking killer strike after 69 minutes.

If Viduka’s set-up was superb, then the Yak’s finish was even better as he crashed past Marcus Hahnemann for his 16th goal of the season.

Boro boss Southgate knows how key it is to get Vid to sign a new deal and added: “There’s no question of how important it is to keep Mark.

“We’ve even taken to singing to him in the dressing room. He’s been such a big player for us for the last two or three years and I don’t see age being an issue because of the way he plays, he’ll improve with age.”

As for the post-match sing- song, Southgate added: “We got a copy of the song in the dressing room and Coops and myself were belting it out in the hope Vids will put pen to paper. We’ve no shame here.”

Viduka may have been wowing the Riverside with his stonking display up front but at the back, Jonathan Woodgate was just as good.

Ex-Boro schoolboy and Royals skipper Graeme Murty saw his homecoming spoiled by both but was not complaining.

He said: “If Woodgate keeps playing like that, there will be a lot of interest from the top Premiership clubs.

“He was superb. He’s quick and strong and reads the game very well. And let’s be honest, you don’t go to Real Madrid unless you’re a top player. If he becomes available, there will be a massive scramble for his signature.

“And Viduka is an absolute tank. You just can’t get round him because he’s that strong.

“For a start you can’t see the ball and he bullies you out of the way, then throws these turns in. When someone that big turns so sharply, you can see why he’s been a top player for such a long time.”

This may have been Reading’s first defeat of 2007.

But nothing can take the gloss off what has been a stunning first season in the Premiership — even if boss Steve Coppell seems as excited about it as a Bernard Matthew’s turkey heading for the slaughterhouse.

Royals improved drastically after the break and deserved John Oster’s late consolation.

Murty added: “We’ve had two-thirds of a good season. If there is any secret to our success it has to be belief and the manager’s great in that respect.

“He’s not a ranter or a raver. You’ve got to listen and you know he’ll give you the technique you need.

“Defending as a team and attacking as a team is as much a technique as bringing a ball out of the sky.”

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