Stuttering Start Stat Attack: Boro’s Past In Numbers

MORE NUMBER-crunching: Boro have just 11 points from 11 games after a stuttering start and Teesside is getting twitchy. But how does that rank against other years?
Since Boro’s return to the Premiership they have twice before had 11 points at this stage, last season and in Steve McClaren’s debut campaign, and once had just ten, in the Robbo’s final Tel-assisted term – but have always recovered to claw away from the dropzone. Here’s hoping the new boss can make it a Houdini hat-trick.
Here’s the list of points and position at the same point in previous seasons:

After 11 games in the Premiership:
1995-96 6th – 21pts
1996-97 15th – 13pts
1998-99 4th – 17pts
1999-00 11th – 15pts
2000-01 17th – 10pts
2001-02 15th – 11pts
2002-03 6th – 18pts
2003-04 11th – 11pts
2004-05 5th – 18pts
2005-06 11th – 15pts.
Surprisingly the highest ever points tally, if not position, came in that first year at the Riverside, before the superstars arrived. Or maybe not surprisingly, as that is the last time Boro had a team comprising robust honest pro’s working their nuts off, with the Midget Gems, Robbie Mustoe and a defence scared into performing by Big Nigel Pearson.
How does the present plight compare to the three other poor starts? Well the worst came in 2000-01, Robbo’s ill-fated final season. After 11 games Boro were fourth bottom with 10 points and ahead of Southampton on goal difference alone. They had won just once since opening day at Coventry (away at the Saints) and had lost the last three and gone out of the Worthington Cup to Wimbledon.
They were five points ahead of bottom dogs Derby and three ahead of Bradford. Derby were to claw up to fourth bottom by the end of the season and Southampton finished safely in mid-table but Bradford never escaped the bottom three all term while Manchester City and Coventry slipped into the drop spot over the Christmas period.
Boro hit rock bottom with a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland in December prompting the phone call to Terry Venables and a reorganised side ground out enough points to clim out of the relegatioon zone, although they were cemented in fourth bottom for two months before a run in that included wins over Arsenal, Leicester and West Ham lifted them to the giddy heights of 14th in the final table. It wasn’t pretty but it was mission accomplished.
Boro had 11 points from 11 games in Steve McClaren’s debut campaign too, although after a nightmare opening sequence of four successive defeats, 11 points from seven games represents a healthy return for a team being hastily rebuilt on the hoof.
It was a relatively healthier position in the table than Robbo/Tel’s team too. Boro were sixth bottom, six points above bottom club Leicester and four above Derby and Southampton in the other drop spots. Although Boro had just lost 2-1 to Spurs that followed a run of only one defeat in five. The next game was a 5-1 thumping of Derby and that sparked another run that lifted Boro nine points clear of the relegation zone. The panic was over and Boro inched slowly into the top half before a run-in of four successive defeats saw them slump to finish in 12th.
McClaren racked up just 11 points again in 2003-04, a frustrating season but one that would have the erratic league form airbrushed from history by the glory of Cardiff.
Boro took just one point from the first five games and until a tense 1-0 home win over Everton were locked in joint bottom spot with Wolves. A win at Southampton and a crucial win away at Wolves either side of defeats to Newcastle and Chelsea eased the pressure and nudged Boro up to that familiar 14th place but still only three points above the hot spots where Leicester, Blackburn and Leeds were locked on eight points.
But six games without defeat (including three tedious goalless draws) lifted Boro into mid-table where they bobbed around before finishing an pedestrian 11th.
So we are no strangers to this current position. In the three cases above there was no spectacular lift-off as a good team suddenly clicked, rather it was a case of going back to basics, shoring up the defence – often with five at the back or in the middle – and grinding out points with what was at times quite turgid football.
There is a lesson to be learned there. Right now Boro need to forget about pretty passing football and start scrapping to draws with an ugly utilitarian approach.


12 thoughts on “Stuttering Start Stat Attack: Boro’s Past In Numbers

  1. Boro seem to have been on the slippery slope to oblivion since winning the Carling Cup. I know we got the the UEFA cup final but that was more through luck than judgement.
    Our PL form or lack of it has been a disgrace for to long.
    Steve Gibson needs to wake up and quickly, if he thinks the fans are happy he may have been spending to much time inside one of his haulage tankers and as such must have been made high on the fumes. He can not of got any buzz from Boro’s performances on the pitch.

  2. Anthony,
    Boro fans demand entertainment! Sod league positions. They pay their money and demand a product. That’s why Mac went (oops! that’s not right.)
    And Southgate promised entertainment.
    So, if you’re right we need to drop the entertainment to survive. Boooo! “Southgate’s a liar and McClaren in disguise.”
    Or we try to play fancy stuff and go down. Booo! “Southgate was the wrong man and we’ve paid the price.”
    So I hope you’re wrong. Otherwise, Southgate’s between a rock and a hard place. Poor guy.
    All this assumes he get’s the nod at the LMA….

  3. A choice of scrap or play attractive football?
    The problem is we are doing neither. The last two matches were not a thoroughbred Boro being bullied by brutish thugs. Citeh and Watford just tried.
    What we do know is that we havent got a dominationg front man to lump the ball up to and live off the scraps. So we are going to have to play attractive football, truth is the top clubs scrap to earn the right to play good football.
    I dont know why we keep posting the same points but a settled side with people in the right positions would be a good start. If the players are comfortable they will get stuck in and make it work.
    I have said many times and still believe it, the players dont want to play badly. They dont want to be booed, they want to do their best. The club have to provide the framework for the players we have to get back on a decent run. If we keep ‘Mac’ing about it will not get better.
    Gate led a dressing room revolt, let him lead another one. Ditch the Mac like tactics. Do something simple like play a settled team in a sensible line up.

  4. Utter rubbish Never Happy. A slide since winning the Carling cup? Its you thats high!A 7th place finish in the league, A Uefa final and an F.A. Semi. Have a word.

  5. Udayan
    The ‘league’ slide started Xmas 2004. since then we have averaged just over a point a game. Yes we finished 7th but we got 20 points out of 18 matches. Yes we had a great time in the cups but were poor in the league.
    I have posted often enought about teams who went from hero to zero not to repeat it but we were in a relegation battle for a part of last season.
    I am no half empty person and posted often enough about points coming from odd situations, never happy may have got the starting point for the slide at a different point in time to me but a slide it is, his point is still valid and the fact is we are in tricky position.

  6. Udayan
    The cups have been a blessed relief from the abysmal PL performances. Do you think we are OK and are doing well in the PL?
    We have even been knocked out of the Carling Cup by the mighty Notts County, so possibly the one comp we had a chance of winning has been and gone.
    Face reality, Boro are in a relegation battle.
    The sooner all at MFC realise this the better.

  7. Our league form in the premier league has been pretty average at best. not much difference in robsons and steve mclarens records.
    Its been debated many times but there is a thin line between success and failure. had we wont he league cup 1997 and decided to turn up at blackburn we would have stayed up and been in europe.
    had ugos handball been given int he carling cup final, then we may have lost the games and not got into europe.
    Unfortunatly for robson we came up against chelsea and zola in 2 cup finals so we were always under dogs. Ironically from january 1997 to may 1997 was one of our best run of form in the premiership we have ever had.
    We more often than not start out of the blocks slowly. Maybe the pre season training needs loooking at.or is it because new signing come in at the last minute?
    we need new coaching staff so we can shake of the shackles of cautious football. its now ingrained in some players

  8. AV, why do you assume that a team can’t battle and scrap but also play attractive football?
    Battle and scrap is what you do when you do not have the ball, play attractive football is what you do when you are in possesion. If we do both we will have a decent season.
    To echo what has been posted we need a settled team, players in the right positions and some belief and determination.
    The present team has far more quality players in it than the three teams who were in a similar position in previous seasons. The fact is the team are under performing. There are various reasons for that which have all been covered
    recently Football is a simple game, we aren’t trying to fly to the moon (!)

  9. For me the slide started when we failed to get Zenden to commit to a new contract – it wasn’t just the loss of a very influential player it was also a statement of limited ambition that went out to players and fans alike.
    Now, like everyone else here, I want to throw my full weight behind Gareth Southgate and believe that Steve Gibson has made the right decision in choosing the Gate and continuity over O’Neill and change – this is actually the single most important factor (having the right man in charge), because everything else follows from that.
    On the positive side Huth and Woodgate are excellent signings. Conversely Arca and Euell are average and I wouldn’t have signed either of them. Same goes for Beattie – I hope it’s just paper talk. Taylor is a brilliant prospect, needs to be in the side and will only get better with games – he’s a better attacking fullback than Mad Dog who is an excellent centre-half. Since being made captain the Boat has lost direction – his influence has diminished and he seems to lack a rudder – do any of the team know where they’re supposed to be going??
    One of O’Neill’s former players was saying that he never asks his players to do something they’re not good at, they all understand what he wants from them individually and collectively, he’s consistent and tactically he’s spot on
    As a consequence they play with belief. It’s when players lack belief that they look as if they’re not trying. This explains why the past form of Boro (and now England) is so indifferent.
    For me our players are still confused and they lack belief. I think the Gate is unsure of his back room team, of his own philosophy, and of his own judgement. He is an honest, intelligent man with a passion for the club and its fans who finds himself unprepared for the decisions he’s having to make. He has shared the field of battle with his players, he knows them from the ‘inside’, and if he doesn’t know by now who can do the job (and which job) and who can’t then he never will.
    Whatever happens, like O’Neill, he has to have absolute belief in himself and complete conviction about his own football philosophy. If he doesn’t have these – and if his coaching staff don’t share these as well – then the team will continue to fail irrespective of who he brings in, how much he spends or which Division we’re in.

  10. Nigel from Mumbai, the slide started before Zenden left, Xmas 04 to be precise. The form in the second half of that season was masked by Uefa Cup matches and our requalification for europe by the league. We ended up with 20 points from 18 matches and a lot of the football was dire and defensive.
    Zenden was a free agent and however we dress it up he was offered a chance to go to the champions of europe, to play in the champions league, to be at one of the best clubs in europe. And that was in his late twenties in the season before a World Cup. There was no way in the world he would turn that chance down to stay at the Boro.
    The story afterwards is much as you said. What worries me is the fact we have two home matches where we would be delighted with four points, ecstatic with six but would use my money betting on either. That was the same before the last two home games.

  11. start with the empty seats and work backwards
    cause and effect
    it’s dull, it’s inept, basic skills are missing
    until GS gets his own backroom team it’s more of the same…
    “meet the new boss…same as the old boss”

  12. Of course we’re in a slide this season,and in the league at times we were indeed abysmal. Our league form, apart from last season, starting from March 2004 was much better than normal. We have always been very average in the league. We improved hugely in 2004 following the Carling cup win, that is surely an undisputed fact.
    Of course we’re playing rubbish this season, and indeed last season. However as of last season it is as poor as is is every year.
    The comment that we’ve been on a slide since winning the cup is still rubbish however as the following season we were challenging from Champions league for a large proportion of the season.
    Do I agree that we’re in trouble? Yes.
    Do I agree that since Zenden left, we’ve been at best average? Yes .
    Do I Agree that we’ve been on a slide since winning the cup? Absolutely, categorically not.

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