Punk Psycho Leaves Gate Feeling Pretty Vacant

“STUART Pearce once took Gareth Southgate to a Sex Pistols concert”. I wish Alan Parry hadn’t reminded me of that just before kick-off at the City of Manchester Stadium because it sent me off on a bondage-trousered nostalgic pogo through a chaotic two chord thrash of a game that was more about noise and energy than finesse and artistry.
Of course it wasn’t a real Pistols concert, splashed with adrenaline, creative juices and a naive zest to smash the old order they went to. It was one of those tacky ‘tourists are money’ soulless paunchy punk anniversary revival tours, a pale imitation of what the fans know and love and still deep down belive in and aspire to, a cynical imitation of the real thing starring millionaires going through the motions. A bit like the shiny new football.

Just mentioning it got my back up, suddenly sneering at proceedings through a Pavlovian punk prism. City had Thomas Cook across their shirts and I heard the stomp of boots and the power chord thrash of Holidays In The Sun... ‘a cheap holiday in other people’s misery’…. here’s a Pistols compilation of impressions.
No Fun…. it was a game with little to cheer for the Boro fan. No pace, no passion and no punch. Not a single attempt at goal in the first half and apart from a lively opening five minutes when Downing put in two good crosses there was little to trouble City at all. To have Neil Warnock condemning you at half time hurts but it would be a brave – and delusional – Boro fan who questioned his harsh assesment: the team were poor, they had failed to put any sort of pressure on City and were losing battles in every area of the pitch.
After back-to-back wins had artificially raised expectations of some pre-ordained rise into the top half this was a stinging reality check. Boro were out-fought and out-played by a struggling side and it was not pretty. It was only in the last desperate few minutes that Boro even troubled the City box and even then never had one effort that forced a save.
Submission… Boro have a problem with teams that get in their face and rough them up. The commitment to passing and crisp, elaborate movement is laudable but unless they can also counter the challenge of robust, high-tempo sides that set out to hit them hard and early then they can not build a platform for the pleasing pretty patterns.
Boro capitulated to physical Portsmouth and Blackburn and struggled but were finally swamped by 100mph Sheffield United. They have gone some way to countering that threat with the double sessions and fitness work but are still short in some areas, noteably lacking a snarling, nasty terrier of a forward who can unsettle defences and a similarly spikey midfielder with real pace who can intimidate the opposition and play a bit.
Bodies… Stuart Parnaby limping off after 18 minutes of his first match back after a spell on the sidelines underlined the problem at right back and probably opened the door to Abel Xavier’s sheepish return from a year in the cold after overdosing on the Lemsip.
But it was a bruising game that could leave Boro nursing a few knocks. Manu Pogatetz got accidentally head-butted after he obstructing Dunne and the lumbering own-goal specialist – naturally transformed into clinical dead-ball targetman for the visit of Boro – clocked him. The hard as nails Austrian went down writhing and clutching his face and I feared the fractured eye socket he picked up from the flailing elbow of Kevin Davies had gone again.
And George Boateng seems to spend a growing proportion of each game hobbling. Certainly he seems to limp heavily out of the changies every week. Partly it is because he is brave and goes in for 30/70 challenges he has no right to make but increasingly there is a suspicion he is making them because he was caught out of position or short of pace in the first place.
Did You No Wrong… in return though powder puff Boro rarely leave the opposition pole-axed and debilitated. And that is not a plea for vicious foul play – especially from you Mad Dog – although few fans would raise objections should the likes of Paul Dickov get clattered. It is more a case of Boro being ready to put in the kind of full-blooded bone-crunching tackle that sends out the signal that they are no soft touch, that they will shed blood to win.
Robert Huth sent Andy Johnson sprawling into the North Stand hoardings and out of the game against Everton. We need more of that uncompromising physical presence, especially in those games against the ten teams or so who rely exclusively on brawn and work-rate.
Substitute…. Massimo Maccarone got into more threatening positions and had more chances in the last five minutes than the rest of the team produced in the rest of the game yet despite twice being given a golden chance to salvage a point and stake his claim for a starting place in the absence he twice hit the woodwork. Therein lies the Massimo dilemma. Some fans love the Gladiator because he runs, chases lost causes and gets into threatening positions. Others think he is a donkey because when he gets there – stoppage time in big European ties excepted – he invariably misses.
As an impact player he is lacking in that ability to change games. That is why he has rarely started games. In fact Boro’s squad is now alarmingly thin and looking down the bench most week who is there who can change a game?
Liar… the ability of players to genuinely believe they are the injured party despite clearly having just committed a blatent foul never ceases to amaze. Joey Barton came from behind to stamp his studs into the back of Rochemback’s standing leg calf when he had no chance of taking the ball on 65 minutes. Rocky quiet dramatically went up in the air before belly-flopping in pain while Barton, clearly guilty and rightly shown the yellow card, fired a stream of invective at the ref then started on still wincing Rocky accusing him of feigning.
Seventeen… excellent crosses put in by Stewart Downing, Boro’s only real creative threat. The much maligned winger continues to be the main attacking threat. Late on he showed superb control to bring down a Morrison then picked out Huth to head over, drifted into the middle to scoop up a loose ball then superbly picked out Massimo to rattle the post and twice put dangerous crosses into the box that sparked scrambles but Boro could not profit.
Downing has been back to his brilliant best in the past few games yet still has his critics. He beats his men, gets down the line and crosses, too often perfectly into spaces that should have been attacked by team-mates. Yet until he is getting on the end of his own crosses and firing home or breaking his leg charging back to tackle some people will still complain.
Problems… where to start? Pogo does not look as accomplished on the left as in the centre. The move may have solved a political problem but it is far from perfect. Huth several times got caught napping against City and has yet to demonstrate he is a better partner for Woodgate than the Austrian is. Rocky staring in the middle is a major risk. He has flair but he too often drifts leaving gaps for the opposition to exploit and he too often gets caught for pace and is robbed in possession. Jason Euell has shown promise as an attacking midfielder but playing behind Yakubu he has was anonymous. The Nigerian is lightweight played as a lone striker. Without Viduka there is no one to hold the ball up. The lack of creativity on the right leaves Boro unbalanced. And right back remains a glaring problem too.
None of these problems are insurmountable providing Southgate has his full squad to pick from but even a few injuries or suspensions will leave Boro weak in key areas. A major reshuffle is needed in January if he is to make progress with this squad.
No Feelings…. the thing that hurts fans most, especially those that have splashed out their hard earned cash to actually travel to games that they could watch for nothing on the box, is the perception that there is a lack of passion. Fans are fired by passion, it is the currancy of the terraces. So to see opposition players charging about snarling and shouting, busting a gut and going in where it hurts while Boro appear to be cruising, or resigned or complacent really stings. No one Is innocnet. It is the root cause of most of the frustration, anger and insults directed at the pitch. Wishing you had a Paul Dickov is a bad sign.
Whatcha Gonna Do About It…. victory against Watford is vital. Having already lost to promoted Reading and Sheffield United failure against a Hornets side yet to win would bring an embarrassing typical Boro hat-trick and once more spark relegation fears, recriminations and questions over Southgate’s leadership but victory would mean three wins out of four, calm nerves and push Boro safely into the mid-table comfort zone.


23 thoughts on “Punk Psycho Leaves Gate Feeling Pretty Vacant

  1. Watched the Man City game on Sky here in Aberdeen – wish I hadn’t!
    Not a shot on target the whole game, the closest being Maccas hits against the (same) post late in the game.
    That was the dreariest, most inept performance I have ever seen in over 40 years of following Boro – the club should hand back the Sky fee to be refunded to all those who had to endure that garbage.
    We were fed a first half of long balls up to the front men which were gratefully accepted by City and then returned with a lot more bite than Boro could muster.
    At half time I thought “great, at least the manager could give the team a bollocking and change things around” – no such luck.
    Lack of talent, lack of ideas and lack of leadership. I’m writing this the morning after the game and I’m still fuming and disgusted at the whole shambles. Tthe Geordies and Mackems in the office are going to have a field day with me over this and I can’t blame them because I have nothing to defend.
    Can I ask just one favour of the players – when you pass the ball will you make sure it goes to one of your own team mates.
    When the transfer window opens I hope the chairman is prepared to buy 7 or 8 new players – preferably players who realise that the object of the game is to pass the ball to your own players and then hold on to it long enough to be able to have a crack at goal.

  2. Vic
    It was poor, sadly I have a ticket for Watford and it is a trip of little expectation but points can come form the unlikliest situations
    One small passage of play in the second half summed up the match. Boat dispossessed Euell in a promising position 30 yards from their goal and immediately gave the ball away, thirty seconds later he surrendered the ball 30 yards from our goal.
    We were second to nearly everything. The only ceativity came from Downing. His job is to create chances from crosses and his great passing ability. Sadly it is a bit like just before Merson left where he had to win it in midfield, pass it out to himself on the overlap and cross it to himself in the middle.
    What we are suffering from is a lack of tempo and attacking their box. Many of Yak’s goals are by running at the defence with the ball or chasing balls into the opponents half. When was the last time any striker gambled at getting in front of the defender to attack a cross and nick it in? When was the last time we had someone on the edge of the box to score from a cut back?
    The defending from set plays is also a worry. For their goal we had four centre backs on the pitch who lined up 12 yards out. They had three or four basically unmarked on the edge of the box. As the corner is taken we dropped back in the box then jumped. Their attackers ran and jumped. Correct me if I am wrong but in the last Olympics the high jump was won with a run up and no one attempted a standing jump!
    Whole sports build their defence on strategic placement of defenders to interfere with runners – you will see the masters of it when the All Blacks play England. As I have repeated before I believe zonal marking is about defending space, neither zone nor space scored but the unmarked Dunne allowed a free run did.
    The problem we have is that there are no more players available. I dont even think we played badly, we just didnt play at all. We were frozen in the headlights until the last fifteen minutes.
    It was reminiscent of that string of one nil defeats we had away from home several seasons ago. It also reminded me of the mind numbing keep it tight and go for it later approach so favoured by a previous master tactician.
    Solutions, someone right side with get up and go, a striker to attack the box and ball, pace in midfield. Not too dificult then!

  3. I think you are right about stadium rock and new football having a lot in common.
    Old football and small sweaty club concerts were exciting and passionate and the new packaged football and stadium rock are definitely not.
    There is a massive difference between being down at the front being caught up in the excitement and actually particpating in the mosh pit or EIOing in a frenzied collective surge down a terrace on the one hand, and being trapped in plastic seat in a soulless stand of an identikit stadium whether you are watching as a passive consumer of Boro, City, Oasis or U2 or whoever on the other.
    The modern entertainment experience is a slick exercise in relieving the consumer of cash with booking fees, expensive programmes and tour t-shirts and over-priced portion controlled franchised food.
    It is totally devoid of any way for supporters/ fans/customers to be actively involved. If you show too much passion in the ground nowadays you get thrown out because you are disturbing people texting and eating their Boroburgers.
    For all its faults I prefered old football – and old gigs – when they were cheap and cheerful and about passion and participation rather than the alienation of the modern industry and its ‘sit down, shut up, give us your money’ approach.
    I don’t want to talk about the game right now. It has got me thinking we might be ‘The Damned’.

  4. i decided to go out with my son on mischief night instead. Good decision. pity they didnt hand out eggs to the 12thman boys at man city to chuck at the players.Those money belts must be making them run slow on the pitch.

  5. Vic and other bloggers
    You’ve said it all – but haven’t we all before and who listens.
    Gate summed up in his Marvin-like post match interview what we were all feeling – no-show, lifeless and unacceptable. A reversion to what we saw in the worst of last season and this. The difference is he’s supposed to be able to do something about it. But will he?
    He is talking about preparation for away games, whatever that means. But Ugo on Sky last night gave part of the game away before kick off when he said that the game plan was to keep them quiet for 20 minutes and frustrate them and the crowd. My heart sank.
    The trouble we always have with that sort of instruction – just as when The Ex used to talk about ‘patience’- is that our teams equate that to negative, backward looking, defensive, pedestrian and passionless – not ‘in your face’ and persistent pushing back and pushing on.
    Once you’re in that mould it’s hells own job to get out of it – and we didn’t until 10 minutes before time when they got tired and bored.
    So what to do?
    This emphasises – yet again – the need for a creative right sided midfielder and a decent 3rd striker. Until the window we should at least give Arca a try instead of Rocky and give him the old Bolo role with an instruction that he’s only to pass forwards – either on the diagonal to a striker or wide ahead of Stewie.
    At present we have The Boat, Rocky and Catts who are essentially 3 variants on the same worthy, necessary but dull theme of holding and graft.
    Like Ian, I’ve got tickets for Watford – as yet without a win in the Prem – as Warlock (well, it is Halloween) said on Sky last night – they must be licking their lips watching the video from last night. Oh dear.

  6. I’d rather have been watching some sadd old 70’s revival band last night than the dross I witnessed at daft-o’clock this morning in Baku.
    Of all the comments above, all of which I agree with in some form or another, one of Ian’s is probably the most damning; “The problem we have is that there are no more players available”.
    Southgate has tried them all in a variety of formations and quite simply we just do not have enough quality in the squad, we don’t look fit, we are without doubt upended every time we play a team that get’s in our faces, something I have harped on about Boro doing to other teams for yonks.
    Good teams with real quality expect to be put under pressure by teams of lower standing, but in most cases they have the quality to rise above it and still come out winners at the end. But we simply cannot compete with teams that are prepared to slug it out toe to toe, we don’t have the physical presence nor the skills, particularly in midfield, to deal with it.
    Hence we have Boateng and Catermole running around like headless chickens, Rochembach moping around the pitch unable to tackle, run or place a decent pass to a colleague for the whole of his 70 odd minutes, and defenders who know the midfield is a voided space so they launch long balls to a lone striker who couldn’t trap a bag of cement who is surrounded by 3 or 4 defenders.
    Psycho knew we had nothing on the right so he ignores that side and concentrates on snuffing out Dowining, who to be fair to the lad STILL managed crosses into a penalty box devoid of anyone else in a red shirt.
    I genuinely fear for us this season if we do not find a method of play that allows us to compete against the 12 or so other sides who play like Citeh did last night.
    The January window will be too late if we are in the bottom 3 at Xmas.

  7. If they fed that junk to school kids for dinner, Jamie Oliver would go ape! You order steak and get a slice of haslet. Offal. We lacked everything.
    City were better all round, and they are not up to much. At least they tried, and looked fitter and sharper. It was another Sunderland performance, they turned up and we did not.
    Our passing was both poor and sluggish. We played like a team of strangers, who disliked the look of each other. At no point did we get even a gentle grip of the game.
    Gareth says he will have a look at the preperation. He needs to have a good look at the basic ingredients.
    At least the turkeys from the school canteen have a twizzle, our turkeys came with nothing.

  8. As much as I am proud of the “graduates of the club’s fantastic youth academy” (copyright every journalist writing about the Boro) I am now realising that not all of the young guns are of sufficient quality for the first team at Premiership level.
    I think only Cattermole, Taylor and maybe Johnson are the real deal. Morrison has not fulfilled early promise and whose progress has stalled alarmingly. As for the rest (Kennedy, Bates, Wheater etc) are no more than half decent Championship plodders.

  9. Following on from other blogs on the current theme, one of the points made some weeks ago was consistency of selection and effort.
    The former has been hampered through injury, the latter as John Powls pointed out was holed under the water line with Ugo’s fateful words about keeping the crowd quiet.
    Now I know we dont have the skills of Man U but I believe we can run, especially after our double training sessions. How did Manu put Bolton, a better team than a nervous Citeh, to the sword? They set the agenda from the first minute. They put out a message of intent to win the game.
    Accepting the fact that Boat, Roch and Cat are water carriers doesnt mean a go slow, and Euell is not a Rooney, he is a squad player who couldnt get a game for a team even worse than us.
    By the way, I am not criticising the players, they are what they are with the skills they possess and can only play to their abilities. The team is picked, coached, motivated and instructed by other people.
    I made a comment to someone that I am now thinking the unthinkable. If we are not going to play in the manner that gets the best out of Downing we may as well sell him before Boro – not Downing’s – displays half his value. He can run, beat his man and cross all day but it is utterly pointless if there is no one there to attack the crosses.
    What to do? With what we have it should be Morrison on the right. With injuries it looks like John Powls favourite player, the PP, may be at right back. Centre mid is a real problem at Watford because they will make Citeh’s midfield look like a rest cure, John has talked about Arca alongside Boat. Up front? Somebody has to make runs and attack the ball, Graham or Maccarone are what we have unless Christie makes a miraculous return to full fitness.
    Whoever is chosen, unless we are up and running at 3.00pm on Saturday it will be a long drive back from Watford with my seasons 100% record of defeats to poor teams intact. And because of where I live I do not appreciate my making the effort to be there for all the match when the team dont.
    People critcise the fans for leaving early to avoid the rush, it is better than turning up late if at all or leaving at half time like the Boro have been doing at matches I have attended.
    Final moan, anyone going to post that Taylors 10 match rule is rubbish as it was branded when I mentioned it at the start of the season – not on the Blog but the message board.

  10. This is the real boroboy75,please stop impersonating me! At least reveal yourself and stop hiding behind the internet. You are a bit sad!
    **AV writes: Yes, impersonating people to score points elsewhere is not big and it is not clever. I have spiked a few obviously mischievous ones but some will sneak through.
    Anyone who feels agrieved can e-mail me and we will install some kind of safeguard.

  11. Boateng again showed why he should not be in the team, He jumps into pointless tackles often giving away needless fouls, getting booked and hurting himself.
    He cant seem to pass the ball more than 3 yards unless it is straight to a player on the other team. Time for him to be dropped and to bring someone else into the middle of the park to boss the game

  12. PJE. OK We’re all down. OK we’re looking for solutions. But to blame the youngsters is pathetic. Yes, Morrison is disappointing at the moment. But, by all accounts wide right is not his position.
    But to savage Kennedy, Bates, Wheater etc without seeing them do it (or not) week in week out is to base your arguments on nothing. Bates is a Central Defender so don’t even think of judging on last night’s performance.
    People were getting a bit too excited after back-to-back wins, but let’s not go to the othe extreme after losing one game.
    Itll take a couple of seasons more before the bulk of our youngsters are really ready to be regulars. In the meantime, THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT!

  13. John Powls hit the nail on the head – by using the tactic of ‘keeping them quiet for 20mins’ ie playing defensively it sets a negative tone for the whole match and the team cannot adopt a posotive attitude and raise a head of steam.
    Poor tactics by Gareth, hopefully he will realise his mistake and not do it again. The way to subdue a home team is to attack them and compete physically. Attack is the best form of defence.
    Also playing Yak up front on his own just doesn’t work and as for Euell I’m just not sure, surely Massimo for all his faults is a better bet, at least he knows where the post is!!!

  14. Jay – I was not having a go at the youngsters merely stating an opinion from what I have seen over the last few weeks. I wasn’t implying we’ll go down either as there are at least 3 worse teams than us in the division this season.
    My comment was not particularly aimed at any individual further to last night’s abject toothless performance. On the subject of which it is abundantly clear problems exist with simple football coaching basics ie: keeping possession, passing the ball the a colleague in a red shirt and working the opposition goalkeeper. A non-league team could have offered up more of a threat for the first 80 minutes.
    The team invite pressure on themsleves when surrendering possesion from a Schwarzer hoofed goalkick 8 times out of 10. The number of times we fail to win headers on the end of one of his regular punts upfield beggars belief. The other team jump, win the ball, play it along the floor in a forward direction and we end up defending like mad men again only 10 seconds after the ball has been in Schwarzer’s hands.
    Regards my previous past that seems to have offended you, all I am doing is stating my opinion that I think the majority of the youngsters coming through Parnaby’s nursery are not as good as the Pravda-esque Teesside media have you believe.
    Harrisson, Stockdale, Ormerod, Baker etc. Lest we forget former shining examples of clubs youth policy.

  15. Robbie Keane’s been linked with Villa for 5 million- that would be the steal of the century. He’s the vital piece of the jigsaw we’re missing and would give us a young and pacy frontline that would always score goals.
    I know Gibbo isn’t a bottomless pit but with Keane we’d have a young squad that would not need stregthening for a couple of years and we’ll soon have Ugo, Parlour, Mendi and Vid off the books. Have a word in the Gates ear about Baby Irish would you Vic…i’m begging you!

  16. PJE. Again I ask you on what basis are you comparing Kennedy, Bates, Wheater etc with Harrisson, Stockdale, Ormerod, Baker etc. They have hardly played yet you write them off as a group.
    You have to address the arguments being put to you not bring in new (relevent?) points.
    BTW where in my posting did I say we are going down. I said we are all down meaning feeling unhappy.
    Please observe carefully before making strong judgements. Our kids deserve a fair crack of the whip.
    ‘No future! No future for you’ – PJE

  17. The kids may or may not come through. The best chance for them is a settled system of playing and putting them in the correct positions.
    Morrison’s preferred and previous position may not be right side midfield but he is the best we have got for the moment. Cat came in there due to injury and it worked for a while. As there is no alternative Morrison must play there until there is one.
    That is just one position. We are still tinkering, Gate will have to settle on a style and formation and leave it to bed in as was debated endlessly last season and this.
    Eueull needs to be on the subs bench. The Taylor/Pogo, Huth/Gate/Pogo, right back, central midfield, up front someone alongside Yak to attack the ball, all need to be decided upon then given a run to settle down.
    Most of all we need to start at the first whistle and play with tempo. As Boat is central to the team (rightly or wrongly) trying to play tippy tappy football is pointless as will be the Boro.

  18. Talk of the Academy and who and who will not make the grade for me boils down to one thing.
    If one player per season comes throught the Academy and establishes himself in the first team then the Academy can be deemed a success.
    Average players from the Championship and Overseas cost four to five million pounds plus wages, this is what an academy player can save the club.

  19. Euell on the subs bench…good idea but preferably not the Boro’s!
    We have a good first eleven and a decent squad who are currently underperforming because they don’t believe. The team needs an injection of motivation and belief they can win away matches to.

  20. I haven’t anything much to add except why do we waste so much from free possession? How many times do we do simple stuff wrong… like on throw-ins deep in opposition half when we throw the ball BACKWARDS to the half-way line instead of FORWARDS DEEPER INTO THEIR HALF where we can at least put some pressure on?
    I often think we should DECLINE to take any free kicks or corners given, to save the embarassment of our inept efforts…better just to let the opposition have a goal-kick out instead… then we’d have at least SOME chance of the ball reaching one of OUR OWN players!)
    It’s this kind of negative and boring basic stuff that sets the wrong tone and then gets us roaring with relief and mis-placed optimism when at last Macca comes on to do his headless-chicken runs …why can’t we start like that and hit the post a couple of times in the 1st FIRST five minutes instead of waiting till the end?
    Then at least those that have to leave early wouldn’t have to miss out on the only excitement in the game !!
    ps in a way i’m glad watford won…they deserved it and, just maybe, the fall-out will spark some real passion in the Boro dressing-room like the 4-0 home defeat by Villa….

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