CURTIS FLEMING’s Riverside roots were the key reason behind his appointment as a first-team coach at Middlesbrough earlier this week.

Fleming was appointed to Tony Pulis’ backroom team after leaving his previous position at QPR, and will be in the home dug-out when Boro entertain Reading this afternoon.

The former Republic of Ireland international spent more than a decade with Boro as a player, making more than 300 senior appearances and contributing to three successful promotion campaigns as well appearing in two League Cup finals and an FA Cup final at Wembley.

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He has worked in coaching or assistant managerial roles at Crystal Palace, Bolton, Hartlepool and Livingston, but it was his deep association with Teesside that made him such an appealing candidate when Pulis was looking to strengthen his backroom set-up.

“I just wanted another person at the football club who could relate to the area,” said the Boro boss. “I’ve brought Woody (Jonathan Woodgate) on board, and he’ll work between the first team and the Under-21s in the academy.

“So we’ve got a link in there, and there’s no ‘us’ and ‘them’ situation that can sometimes happen at football clubs. Woody will be our glue between the youngsters and the senior pros.

“When I first got the job, I said to Steve (Gibson) that I wanted someone from this area who would come in and work with us. I wanted someone who understands the area, the people and the football club. Curtis certainly understands the area and the club.”

Pulis approached QPR to request Fleming’s services last week, and found himself prising the former defender from one of his closest friends, Ian Holloway.

“I spoke to Olly (Holloway) and said I’d had a word with Steve and we were looking for that type of character and that type of person,” he said. “If Curtis was available, and he wanted to come, then we said that we’d like to speak to him. Ian was brilliant, he never stood in his way at all.”

Fleming has been working on the Rockliffe Park training ground this week, with Pulis admitting it will take him some time to get used to his methods, just as it is inevitably taking Boro’s players a while to get to grips with what their new manager is demanding.

“He’s a good lad,” he said. “He’s looking at the work we do, and how we do it, and getting used to the way we work. I think that’s the same for the players as well really.

“We’re different. We want different things from them, and expect different things from them. All managers are different, so Curtis is getting used to the way things work at this football with myself, Kempy (Dave Kemp) and Gouldy (Jonathan Gould), and people like that who have worked with me for a long time.”