Blogs & Opinion


Championship Spotlight:

Battling Bailey

As part of Sky Sports' Championship spotlight, Graeme Bailey catches up with Middlesbrough's Nicky Bailey.

Championship Spotlight - Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @skygraemebailey Posted 26th April 2012 view comments

Graeme Bailey caught up with Middlesbrough's midfield lynchpin Nicky Bailey ahead of this weekend's crucial final game of the season.

Boro have endured an up-and-down campaign, at one point sitting on top-of-the-table before dropping down to the edge of the play-off picture.

Last week seemed to sum up their indifferent term. They were held to a goalless draw by already relegated Doncaster Rovers, before pulling out a brilliant 2-1 win over promotion candidates Southampton.

Bailey grabbed the opening goal in the win over the Saints, his first ever strike at The Riverside.

The one-time goalscoring midfielder has been converted into a more defensive battler, but he was delighted to get off the mark last weekend.

"It was a bit of a lucky goal, I have hardly had a shot this season but it is good to score," he told Sky Sports.

Boro now face a crunch game at the weekend against Watford, but they go into the match at Vicarage Road knowing that they need other results to go their way.

For Boro to break into the play-off party they need Cardiff City to lose at Crystal Palace and then claim all three points from Watford.

Bailey admits that Boro go into the match with a buzz about the squad following on from their win over Southampton.

"We go there in great spirits," insisted the former Charlton and Southend ace.

"It is going to be hard game but Cardiff have one equally as hard.

"We go into this game with no pressure on us and we need to try and put some pressure on them.

"There is a real buzz about the place at the moment after the win against Southampton.

"We are still up for this - everyone is going to want to play as it is the last game and everything is riding on it. But we are confident we can go and do the job we need to.

"After the Doncaster result most people thought it was all over but we got the Southampton win and now it is back on. We are going into the last game in a position we probably didn't think we would be in, so it is a bonus if anything."

Changed man

Bailey himself is in his second season with Middlesbrough, but he is a different player to the one which arrived from Charlton in a £1.4million deal in June 2010.

Gordon Strachan signed him as one of the best goalscoring midfielders in the lower leagues but he is now regarded as one of the finest holding midfielders in the Championship after being converted by Tony Mowbray.

"There is not as much running involved as I was used to but you have a set role to break up the play and just try to keep them quiet, and help us play," he said.

Bailey is one of the players in contention for Middlesbrough's Player of the Year, to be decided at the club's annual dinner this weekend.

The 27-year-old, though, bemoans the fact he missed around six weeks of the season with a knee injury, which hampered his form.

"Before I got injured it was much better than what it has been lately but that is just due to the time of the season. You just have to battle and get on with it," he continued.

Indeed Bailey's form has been so impressive that he has begun to attract interest from the Premier League in his new role.

With just over 12-months left on his current deal, Bailey insists that he does not get involved in transfer speculation.

"Obviously there have been things said but I am concentrating on Boro," he said.

"Those things are not up to me - we are going to speak to the manager about a new contract but I can't really say anything about that - it isn't really up to me.

"I just have to get on with my game, if people are impressed great - but Middlesbrough are my focus at the moment."

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Andy Walker

Walker: Celtic 'shocking'

Ronny Deila’s hopes of winning over the club’s fans took a big blow in Poland, says Andy Walker....

Guillem Balague

Balague: Barca training tough

Guillem Balague says Barcelona’s stars will suffer gruelling double sessions during their week at Burton....

Ray Wilkins

Wilkins: Rooney for captain

Ray Wilkins says Wayne Rooney is the "standout candidate" for the England captaincy....

Latest News RSS feeds

Live transfer updates

Tottenham agree to sign Sporting's Eric Dier, West Ham take Carl Jenkinson on loan and Juan Quintero's Arsenal link is played down.

Slovakian stalemate for Hull

Tom Huddlestone was left to rue a bad miss as Hull drew 0-0 away to AS Trencin of Slovakia in Europa League qualifying.

Game of the season

Vote for the best Sky Sports Premier League game of 2013/14 – and we’ll replay the best ones on air.

Jenkinson joins West Ham

West Ham have signed defender Carl Jenkinson from Arsenal on a season-long loan.

Quintero link surprises agent

The agent of Porto's Juan Quintero has played down reports linking the Colombia star with an imminent move to Arsenal.

Features

A number of Premier League teams look set to embrace the 3-5-2 once again after its success at the World Cup

A number of Premier League teams look set to embrace the 3-5-2 once again after its success at the World Cup

The World Cup has a long tradition of sparking innovation. The Miracle of Berne may have prevented Hungary lifting the trophy in 1954 but the Magnificent Magyars and their 3-2-3-2 discovered the way to outfox the WM formation.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has his philosophy but there are still lessons to learn from Jose Mourinho

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has his philosophy but there are still lessons to learn from Jose Mourinho

"Jose is happy to work that way and play that way and he will probably show his CV and say it works but it's not my way of working. I like to take the initiative in games and let players express themselves.

Southampton situation is a sad one despite club claims

Southampton situation is a sad one despite club claims

“When I said that it wasn’t our intention to sell any players, that was correct – it wasn’t our intention to sell any players.” These were the comments made by Les Reed, Southampton’s executive director, to the Southern Daily Echo last month. Semantics at their finest.