Robson happy to keep on talking
GORDON STRACHAN will be relieved to learn Barry Robson escaped unhurt after jumping into a paddock with a few over-excited donkeys yesterday, but the Middlesbrough dressing room has not been as fortunate in avoiding the stand-in captain's lip. Robson, one of three Boro players to have visit Stocktonon- Tees' Daisy Chain Farm, was signed by Strachan during the January transfer window to deliver a few home truths off the pitch and stir up a few performances on it. And while his displays, and goals, have proved to be a large contributory factor in Middlesbrough's end of season resurgence in the Championship, he has also been satisfied to hear the squad's longer-serving members hitting back. David Wheater admitted in the aftermath of Saturday's 1- 0 win over Sheffield Wednesday that before the Scottish lads had arrived there were very few cross words exchanged between team-mates. That is no longer the case, with Robson revealing honesty between the squad has proved the driving force behind Boro's turnaround in fortunes after extending their unbeaten run to eight matches. The manager here will not have a go at you for telling players how it is, that's the way the manager is and that's the bottom line, said Robson. It's not about having a go and falling out with each other, it's about trying to get a reaction. We have tried to do that for the football club and show everyone we do care. You can see that. We can have a few arguments between ourselves, but it's nothing against any players. That's just us wanting to win matches. There are a lot of players in that dressing room now who want to win football matches. You sense that when you are in there. The problem is, if you sit there quiet, don't say a thing, letting games pass you by, the manager will probably put those players out first anyway before anyone else does. You need to make sure you are heard and doing the right things, that's what is driving this team. Asked about his role as captain, he claimed to be merely filling in for Gary O'Neil while the saga over a £1m payment to Portsmouth rumbles on. If O'Neil is sold this summer, Robson will no doubt succeed him on a permanent basis. Much will depend on what league Boro are playing in next season, and Robson believes three wins from the three remaining games against West Brom, Coventry and Leicester will be enough to close the four-point gap to the top six. We still have a great chance of climbing into the play-offs if we win our games, he said. The club has been going through a period of transition, but everyone can see the manager has been building from the very bottom. He is a top manager, I know that from my experiences at Celtic, I know the job he did. When you consider the injuries we have had and the players we have lost, like Adam Johnson, and those out of contract, it's been very hard but the manager has settled everyone down and we are starting to get results. Even during matches Robson has not been afraid to air his views to his players when things have not been going to plan and, in Stephen Mc- Manus, Middlesbrough have another player integral to the turnaround. McManus, unlike Robson, only has a loan deal keeping him at the Riverside until the end of the season and his former Celtic team-mate hopes for movement on that front. I hope he goes back to Celtic, his patter is rubbish, joked Robson. I know what Stephen is like, I have played with him for a while now. He is a good player, a good guy, he's a top man to have in the dressing room. The better players we have the better chance we have got next year, whatever division we are in. He is good to have around and he has done well since he came down. He has enjoyed it, but a lot depends on the two clubs agreeing fees. I hope he stays. During Robson's visit to Daisy Chain farm which provides holistic support and respite care for families across the Tees Valley who have children with autism he was one of a handful asked to climb a fence to feed donkeys who had been jostling for space. And while Boro striker Lee Miller declined, Julio Arca joined Robson inside the pen despite the threat of suffering a kick that could have reduced Strachan's restricted midfield options even further. Robson joked: I wasn't nervous, Lee was a bit scared of getting in mind. Getting in with the donkeys was a breeze when you work with Gordon Strachan. He added: It's hard when you come to places like this, and you have got kids of your own, and you see how unfortunate they are, it preys on your mind. If we can give kids something to smile about for five minutes then it's great.
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