FORMER Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren makes his first return to the Riverside Stadium this afternoon and admits it will be a strange experience sitting in the opposition’s dug-out.
Boro’s competitive season may be effectively over, but McClaren’s Derby side are still in contention for automatic promotion.
Barely a half-full Riverside Stadium is set to witness McClaren’s return, a far cry from the heady days of his era when he took Boro to Carling Cup glory 10 years ago and a UEFA Cup final appearance in his last game in charge before leaving to manage England in 2006.
McClaren said: “I had five great years there and worked for some very good people and a great chairman in Steve Gibson.
“Teesside is a region that needs its football and a successful team. The club is the heartbeat of the place.
“It will be pretty strange for me being in the opposite dugout. I had five great years there.
“I still live in the area and so I know the people.”
Boro could have a shock representative at this summer’s World Cup, with Greece monitoring the form of veteran goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos.
The former Hartlepool player, standing in for Tomas Mejias, made his only appearance for Greece three years ago in a Euro 2012 qualifying victory over Malta.
Boro head coach Aitor Karanka said: “It’s good that he has been noticed by Greece.
“That’s the good thing about football. In one season, you can be the fourth ’keeper and by the last game you can be at the World Cup.
“You can be forgotten and then you can be the main man.
“In football it can also be the opposite. You could be Rhys Williams. You could be looking ahead to the World Cup then suffer one injury and face a fight to go.”