Forward To Promotion!

IT’S SATURDAY 11th August 2007 and a new look Boro “that Teesside can afford” start their Championship campaign at home to Leeds. There are just over 19,000 in the ground thanks to 2,000 or so visitors boosting a slimline Red Book army of 14,000 plus a few thousand hopeful pickers-and-choosers coming along curious to see Tony Mowbray’s young lions in action.

The team is very different from the one that lost one too many “must win” matches at home to Fulham on the final day of the Premiership season: Mark Viduka has gone to Newcastle, Yakubu back to Champions League Portsmouth, George Boateng on a free to Feyenoord, Jonathan Woodgate to Chelsea via Real Madrid and Stewart Downing has joined Manchester United to replace Ryan Giggs amid a hue and cry of parochial hate at his treachery. The money raised will cushion the blow from leaving the cashcade but little has been spent on players.
Mowbray has brought in snarling striker Paul Dickov for £2m from Manchester City up front plus £2m Scott Brown from former club Hibs and £500,000 new skipper Graham Kavanagh from Sunderland to beef up what is essentially a side of academy graduates plus transfer-listed keeper Mark Schwarzer.
Team (4-5-1): Schwarzer, Davies, Taylor, Pogatetz, Bates, Morrison, Johnson, Cattermole, Kavanagh, Brown, Dickov. Subs: Jones, Riggott, Christie, Euell, Porritt.
It could happen. But it’s not the end of the world. It’ll be just as much fun: new teams, new grounds, a decent chance of winning a competitive league, a chance to relight the flames of passion. If it comes to pass, well, bring it on!


43 thoughts on “Forward To Promotion!

  1. AV
    I think there were a few thinking along similar lines by 8.45pm.
    The concern is that we could be deep in the brown stuff by the time the window comes round. The momentum may have built up as our two year slither gathers pace so that we are mentally unable to fight back.
    The window may become irrelevant as far as recruitment is concerned, in the worst case scenario it may be time to realise assets before they become devalued – Derby is a classic case in point where they turned down 7 or 8 million for Riggott from Liverpool and then had to sell in a cut price deal with us.
    That is the darkest picture we can paint but what if we go on a run and survive the Xmas virus. Beat Charlton and SheffU, get away points from Everton and Blackburn, get through to the 4th round of the cup and then get our first away win at Charlton.
    You do fear for the future but it wont be a disaster. What happens to starving Africans is a disaster.

  2. It will not happen because Leeds will be in Division One
    **AV writes: I wondered when someone would spot the central flaw in the hypothesis.

  3. We have been treading water in the lower half of the premier league for a few years now. Will fans lose total interest if this carries on for another 10 seasons?
    Getting relegated wont be a disaster and would clear out all the big earners and let the local young lads get their chance to progress.
    The world will not end without premier league football. Premier league football is over rated, full of diving, moaning footballers,time wasting and general cheating.
    Championship is a lot more exciting and players go out to win games and are more honest. prices are cheaper. more aimed at kids and developing a local fanbase
    Ask yourself what really is so good about the premier league and what would you miss you cant watch on sky? Will we ever be a top 4 team.
    It will be disappointing to get relegated but wil we miss that much and a season in the championship would be quite exciting and bring back the feel good factor

  4. I was at the Fulham game last night and the team played well. Tthey put Fulham under pressure early on and with a bit of luck could have scored.
    Then we were unlucky to concede a penalty and the defence went awol for the second. If we had been able to field two of our three best centre backs my guess is we wouldn’t have conceded either goal.
    My feeling is that your article AV is not going to come to pass but without doubt we are going to spend the season fighting to stay up. The team has the ability what they need to do is maintain the positive attitude. Even when 2-0 down they kept going, heads didn’t drop. Despite losing I enjoyed the game it was a decent performance
    I also believe that if the worst cam to the worst and we went down we would have a strong squad, despite the inevitable departure of the big names.

  5. Should we get relegated it could be a blessing in disguise. The life has slowly been squeezed out of the club playing in a Premiership where we have paid beyond our means to be cannon fodder.
    The fans have become divided between the deluded constantly dreaming that next season will be the big breakthrough into the big time and the cynics demoralised and disillusioned by cautious football against equally scared teams playing for a draw.
    The spirit and passion has gone. The Premiership is not a competitive environment and all we get out of it is frustration and the feeling we are being used to make up the numbers.
    “We can’t afford to go down”. “Its a finacial disaster”. The Premiership has been afinancial disaster for fans, funnelling more of our money every year straight into the pockets of averagely talented millionaires who don’t care.
    Football is not about finance. It is about ‘sporting glory’. If the aim of the club is 14th every year what kind of future is that?
    At least being back down there would give some supporters a reality check, let the club bring some reason to the wage structure and let us relearn the joys of a competitive league.
    And if we are winning and prices are lower then gates might even go up – especially because every single match wouldn’t be on live in the pubs.

  6. As I said to my Derby friends when they were relegated just think what a bargain a season ticket will become, buy 19 get four free!
    Udayan, I dont think any of us want to be relegated but as AV states it is a realistic possibility.
    I was banished to the local with my son last night and watched the match with some other Boro fans. They are going back for the New years day match, we will be back for Charlton. Whilst we will support the Boro whatever there appears to be a growing doubt about our premiership future.
    The parallels with Derby, Leicester and Forest are quite frightening. The fans I know say what is happening to us is how their clubs slipped down the table and got relegated. It was as if whatever they tried didnt matter, all the 50:50 decisions go the wrong way, a penalty in your box is play on at the other end, the woodwork at one end keeps the ball out and merely acts to guide the ball past Swarzer at the other.
    It doesnt mean we dont care passionately about the club but the next couple of weeks are likely shape our future. The stats now say 82 points from 74 games.

  7. Red_rebel is right. Relegation is not a disaster. Just look at birmingham now. All that happens is you ship out the over paid players and rebuild which we have to do anyway. Surely we won’t be in a worse mess than now if we got promoted back up. I dont think i could cope with another 10 seasons of finishing 12-14th. Its bloody boring
    The club have forgotten what football is about as they are too busy focusing on the money bags of the premiership. Championship football is about football in the community which is what boro like to promote sometimes.
    I just wish those fans who didnt go to football pre premier elague days would take the blinkers off.
    Barnsley away here we come. I cant wait for the real football to come back!

  8. Seems to be an air if inevitability that Boro will go down.
    The Championship will probably become PL2 if Boro get relegated, some billionaire will buy Crystal Palace and another will buy Forest. The competitive league will become a two horse race and Boro will be fighting for a play off place.
    Looking to the Championship crowds last weekend, even Leicster v Barnsley drew bigger crowds than Boro have this season in the PL.
    The way to attract the crowds is to have a successful side playing attacking football, like others have said, to many PL sides are more worried about losing as than winning, and as such games end up unentertaining and drab.

  9. For a while last night I was excited. Could Boro break the away hoodoo, could we have a display to be proud, could we at least get apoint. And for a while we could. But then…. yes we have heard it all before, commitment, new players, defence not played together the usual blah.
    I am ashamed to say it but it has now got to the point where it hurts being a Boro Fan too much. wint someone put me out of my misery please

  10. Don’t even joke Anth.
    But it’s good that you raise it because judging by some of the message boards a lot of fellow fans have their heads in the sand about how devastating relegation would be to the club.

  11. AV
    If Mogga is the Manager is his best mate Bernie the number 2 ? Also if Viduka has gone to the barcodes was’nt the initial thought when that story came about in the last window that Milner would be coming here as part of the deal ?
    Not convinced about Dickov, young Craddock would get my vote. If the nightmare does come true at least the kids will sweat blood to get us back in the big time .

  12. I have been pondering a similiar scenario myself. The Championship is not all fun and frolickss sad to say. I think we have been spoilt too long to remember playing the likes of…. who is in the Championship these days anyway?
    Relegation will also lead to yet more foundation laying and other misplaced architectural metaphors. We will miss out on the big tv money of next year which could mean newly promoted Colchester will turn up, equipped with a big cheque book, ready to make us offers for our best players we can’t refuse. Plus, our best footballing moments will be ruined by ITV’s inept handling of football.
    I still think we’l stay up as long as the fans and the players can turn out as they did at certin points over the past two years. If we can turn the Riverside in to the couldron it was in the Uefa and league cup we can still escape. I still believe!

  13. Just read last comment (red label) and ive changed my mind. Remember Hendrie tomenting defenders, Fuchs goal rush and Pearson singing Vera Lynn? However, if we are to experience success it means we have to come back to the Premier League only to experience the whole damn fraught nightmare again…. It’s catch 22. Perhaps we could go one further: get relegated twice and bring Rioch back.

  14. Championship not a sporting disaster – get a grip guys.
    I know we were not going to make top 4 any time soon in the Prem but if the right decisions had been made when The Ex left we could have set ourselves for the next stage of our development – always top 10; often in a UEFA slot; occasionally a thrilling Everton/Bolton/Pompey type pursuit of a Champs League berth; Realistic chance of winning the UEFA Cup and more domestic cups.
    Wouldn’t that be worth having? Isn’t that a better prospect than none of the above and the occasional flirt with a promotion or play-off in the Championship?
    And it’s also worth paying for. All the evidence is that if you give the public a product worth paying for then they’ll find the money. The problem is we’re not and we haven’t for the last season and a half.
    If the Championship is so good why are teams/clubs striving so hard to get out of it?
    And – as they say with investments – the only way in the Championship isn’t up. Ipswich, Wolves, West Brom, Sheff Wed, Sheff Utd (until the last 2 seasons), Leeds, Notts Forest!!!! etc etc. Should we carry out a straw poll of their fans and see where they would rather be? Don’t think that’s really necessary, do you?
    It’s not just a financial disaster. The reason that that is important is because the finance is a reflection of sporting success or otherwise and the key to sustaining it.
    And the reason that both of those are important goes wider than just the sport or the finances of the club – it’s about the development of the town and the area generally.
    Haven’t we had enough of second best and decline? God knows, I have and I resent how meekly the current regime appears to be drifting down to what will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if we’re not careful. Incredible when you remember how much everyone, in their different ways has invested. I’ve had 35 years of putting up with that, my Dad and his Dad longer than that – I’m b******d if I want to go back to it.
    We should never be meekly accepting our fate. If we do nothing or not enough we will go down. We must demand the sort of effort to secure players in the window that our club deserves.
    We should be demanding performance from the retained playing staff and not colluding with the trying hard (if you believe that) and being unlucky (even less credible) mantra – that’s not good enough for our club.
    We must be demanding of Gate and Coops and if they can’t cut the mustard yet then we should be demanding more and better support for them or demanding their replacement by people who are what our club deserves. Good intentions are all very well but they pave roads with destinations we’d rather not go to.
    This is a results business like all professional sport. Our club isn’t some kind of academy for trainees and novices to run and it doesn’t matter if that runs us into the ground. This is real life, here and now – not a rehearsal.
    We must be demanding of Gibbo and Lamb. Their decisions are what have got us where we are. They must do what is necessary or stand aside and let others do what our club needs. Whatever Gibbo has put in it doesn’t make our club his private trophy or plaything like some kind of downmarket Abramovich which he can allow to drop a league because he can’t be bothered enough to prevent it.
    He must surely remember he’s a fan too and do what our club needs, including helping create a supporters trust which can invest in the club and take a seat on the Board.
    This surely isn’t what the rescue in 1986 was intended to lead to. Has he had a look at the anniversary insignia on the shirt and the club website lately? Is this how he and we want to celebrate our 20th anniversary?
    Mr. Lamb needs to remember that he’s our employee and it isn’t his business to tell us what we deserve – it is his job to help organise the delivery of what we actually deserve and we’ll buy in.
    We mustn’t let any of them believe that anything less is OK by us or that we’d settle for it. We should be angry about what is happening to our club.
    We’re not second rate fans and meekly accepting our ‘fate’ is what second rate fans would do.
    And the Gazette shouldn’t collude either – better, it should lead the fight not to have second best for our club and for our town.

  15. Just to say a quick hello to my old mate ‘Vic Vomit’ from Marton College days back in the 80’s, and yes, AV, I can quite see your prediction coming true, and I don’t think it would be the worst thing that could happen. Mogga would certainly be an extremely popular manager.
    People will say “but there’s 20 games left”, however considering we have to go to Chelsea, Liverpool & Portsmouth (where we rarely / never win), also to Man U , and host Arsenal, there are five games we are unlikely to get anything from, maybe three points tops.
    In other words, the ‘real’ season remaining is 15 games, of which I think an absolute minimum of 8 wins, more like 10, will be required to stay up, and when was the last time Boro managed a win ratio of that order?

  16. All premier league is about is the money. And all that money ends up going in players and agents pockets and extortinate transfer fees.
    At the moment the club is stuck in a rut in the bottom half of the premier elague for nearly all of last 11 years. Its too boring. Even if we stay up that sky money will just be absorbed into the club to pay wages and bonuses and transfer fees to bring in more highly paid over rated players.
    Lets be realistic, we will never challenge the top 4 or 5 whatever happens with money being chucked at the club.
    Getting relegated will have a minimum impact on our club when you look at english football in general
    Football did exist pre sky and premier league
    Its jsut so dull playing in the premier league …

  17. Some good points in this article, but make it 13,999 Red books because I won’t be renewing.
    I have better things to do with my dwindling spare cash than spend it on such over paid under acheivers.

  18. Unfortunately, there IS now a huge possibility of relegation.
    However, I still believe with a bit of luck we can get points on the board and drag other teams into it. In reality the league is very tight, and I am at least 70% sure that we can get out of it.
    We have finally started to create chances. If the ‘luck’ factor and the concentration factor come into play we would have been winning or drawing a large proportion of the games that we have lost recently, especially the dubious and soft nature of the penalties conceded.
    Its not acceptable, I know, but at least we’re coming away from games annoyed that we should have gained points. How long before we resort to ‘going back to basics’ though?

  19. When you look at our remaining away games they are very tough. Newcastle,manutd,liverpool,portsmouth,chelsea,everton. the key to staying up will be to win our home games starting with sheff utd and charlton.
    its going to go to a photo finish. but alteast we are at home to fulham on the last day so have a good chance of staying up

  20. Give me prem. football everytime. The championship is the second tier and second rate. There would be some exciting games but a lot of drab ones too.
    I’m with JP on this it is not an unrealistic expectation to aim for the top 10, a cup final once in a while and maybe a tilt at the top four once in a blue moon. Other clubs the size of Boro do it every year.
    All the negative comments above are ‘typical Boro’ supporters – come on be positive. If the team and management think like that we’re finished

  21. Nigel
    I have said in the past that I think we will survive but the current situation is now causing grave concern. A decent haul of points over the festive period would dramically change the outlook.
    In Av’s article elsewhere on this site he has highlighted the slide that afflicted several clubs, he named a couple, I have named a whole bunch of them in the past. A major difference is that Av said 18 months whereas I say the drift started Xmas 2004 with 20 points from 18 matches to end the season.
    The plus side is that Everton, Villa, Blackburn, Toon amongst others were in the same pickle and turned it round. There is no reason why we cant but as JP highlights the nettles have to be grasped.
    The better form has been encouraging, just need to convert some of play into goals and points. Lets hope it starts on Saturday, Charlton are truly dreadful at the moment, lets get at them.

  22. This may be the worst of all possible seasons to get relegated since the Premiership started because the money that’s about to come in is going to create an even bigger gap.
    If we go down now we will end up doing a Sunderland/ leeds and maybe even a Notts Forest. Sure, in 5-8 years we might get a good team back together again but we’re going to be swapping bottom-feeding in the Premiership for midtable mediocrity in the Championship.
    We’ll still be suffering sickening losses against Watford, Sheffield United and so on but it’ll be one division down and there’ll be no glorious overturnings of Chelsea or Arsenal and so on.
    I didn’t want Southgate appointed; no matter how good he is, the learning curve is just too steep. Problem is, now it’s too late. I can only hope that the coaching clear out has worked. Thing is, if you look at the pattern of events, everything about us looks like a club that will need to be lucky to avoid relegation.
    If we lose to Charlton then, and only then, I think there should be a complete clear out of staff, including Sir Gareth but only if Gibbo has someone tested and who has a big, big personality to come in and has it virtually a done deal because right now what we need is a short term fix.

  23. Ian – I totally agree we are in a perilous situation, but I for one do not believe being relegated would be a good thing. I just can’t see the logic there.
    I also agree with Bruce. Whatever the outcome of the season, appointing GS as a manger was a mistake, simply because of the steepness of the learning curve.
    It was a very high risk strategy which I believe was uneccesary, I just hope GS pulls it off

  24. Nigel
    Relegation would cast us into a bleak short term future with no guarantee of a swift return. It is the same with people saying sell Downing anyway because he is rubbish, the downside of both scenarios is the assumption things would get better.
    As for appointing GS as a manger, very topical and he may be better suited to that than for the role of premiership supremo – sorry couldnt resist it even though I make my fair share of banana fingered typing errors.

  25. will people stop banging on about boro would miss the sky money. It makes no difference to the majority of the clubs in the premier league.
    Just look where wigan,reading and sheff utd are without spending much money. the money just disappears into the players pockets. If boro had assembled a squad costing a fraction of the current squad more than liklely we would be no worse off.
    All that happens with more sky money is you waste it on dodgy foreign players who cant settle into english football.

  26. I dont care whether we miss out on the sky money as it never gets passed on to the fans and if the sky money was there we are unlikely to win the league anyway.
    Only time i would be bothered about missing the sky money is if season ticket holders got paid a dividend each summer depending on the clubs revenue and income.
    As a token how about 10% of revenue each year is given back to season ticket holders. thats not much and probably only mendieta and rochembacks wages for a season

  27. AV and Nigel
    It was never MacMoses strong point either, some examples below
    Magnificient – boring
    Unlucky – c**p
    On another day – we had a shot
    Educate – brainwash
    one of them games – we lost
    Controlled the game – flat back ten.
    Entertain – errrr, no!
    OK, it isnt all spelling but time for some humour, or an attempt at it.

  28. At the moment MFC is like an old car, that isnt running healthy is running rich on fuel and expensive to run. Get the engine replaced with a cheaper,more healthy and efficient one that is cheaper to maintanin. In the end the new engine will make the car better on performance than the old more expensive car.
    lets get rid of the over paid players and get some younger fresher players in and look to wigan and reading to acheive this

  29. If somebody said to me 18 months ago it was time for sir gibson to go i would of slapped them silly but now it’s me who is saying it. for every thing the man has done god bless him i think he has taken the club as far as he can.
    Our last 3 managers not one of them proven in the job how can you expect to be successfull when you have somebody learning there trade leading the team! why didn’t Gibbo let Martin O’neal take the job? I got told it was becouse he wanted to bring in his own back room staff who could blame him.
    But that would of ment braking peoples contracts and paying compensation so he chose Garath instead who would of had more influence on the pitch than he does as manager. Who turned it around for us last year when we looked dead and buried? GS. But as captain not manager.
    No seriously as hard as it is to say i think it is time for mr gibson to say good bye to the club and let somebody else have ago with fresh ideas and money to spend as gibbo’s as obvisally dried up or we would have o’neal as manager now and not southgate. hope we stay up but i think the writting is already on the wall.

  30. Interesting. I would rather see the Boro stay up than go down. There is potential and quality in the squad that would be lost forever, and expensive to replace.
    I have no idea why we chose to stick by such garbage players and retain pure rubbish. We bought Rochemback after we stinged on Zenden. Buying Pogatetz caused Quedrue to leave. We kept Doriva and let the other little Brazillian go. We couldve had Mills but settled for Reizger instead. We could have had Geremi for 8 million but wasted most of our money that year on Maccarone.
    We couldve had Martin O’neil but Gibson wanted to stand by our Coaching staff. Months after Southgate’s appointment Round repays Gibson’s support by leaving anyway.
    We now have a manager who hasnt got enough confidence to be critical of his players when most of them are in some of the worst form of their careers.
    We’re Finished.

  31. “Interesting. I would rather see the Boro stay up than go down. There is potential and quality in the squad that would be lost forever, and expensive to replace.”
    you mean our current squad that cost about 50M the assemble and cost 30m in wages per year. Ever thought that we might be able to do a reading,bolton,wigan and get better scouts and dont get sucked into buying expensive foreign players?
    YOu could give mfc 200M to spend in 1 season and we would waste a lot of it still remain mid table

  32. You have to realise gibson wil always go for novice managers or peopl ehe can trust. He doesnt like outsiders who want to come in and change things and be in control.
    I think we never went for O’neil as he is quite outspoken and isnt afriad to stand up for himself or disagree with the chairman.
    Gibson likes to have full control and be able to mould the manager how he want him to be and lean on him to do certain things. hence why he didnt want a foreign manager

  33. Blimey Mitch its Christmas cheer up!
    I agree with spoff that the way forward is to build a team of players who are young dynamic and commited.
    We have the resources to do that. The young players are there in abundance but they are inexperienced and to create a prem. team from young players takes time.
    It’s also important that we have the experienced players such as Woodie, Boateng, Viduka to help them along give them confidence etc etc. But this all takes time and thats the rub. Can it be done this season and at the same time prem. status be retained? Its a tight rope.
    I strongly disagree with the idea of Steve Gibson selling the club, he’s the best chairman there is bar none, he’s a supporter which is fundamentaly important to the well being of the club, he doesn’t take cash out of the business unlike the mickey takers up the A19
    He may have made a mistake appointing GS but he is human, he’s not Brian Clough he doesn’t walk on water!
    His previous managerial appointments have been very succesful, Robbo got us into the prem, and into three cup finals and brought world class highly entertaining players to the club, that was unprecedented succes for which I will always be grateful.
    Mac won us our first trophy, our highest prem. finish and a UEFA cup final. This is the Boro. Those things simply never used to happen here. Now we’re cheesed off that we’re not fifth in the league. That’s huge progress and its all down to Gibbo.
    One other thing while I’m on my high horse Robbo created the academy that has produced Downing et al and won us the FA Youth Cup!
    PS Can’t be bovvered to check me spellin!

  34. Small point to make…it is all well and good having young players with ambition/prospects but we are playing teams who are scowering the world for the best they can find.
    If we restrict our team selection to being born in a 50 mile radius of the ground how in the world do we expect to compete in the future?
    This is not putting down the young lads but maybe 1 or 2 will be good enough the rest will fall away and play in lower leagues and the ones that are good enough will be cherry picked like they are trying to do with Downing.
    The only way forward is a strong experienced manager and a combination of top/higher class 25+ years old players and the best of the youngsters, not 5 or 6 but 1 or 2 as more will kill the side and we will end up getting results like when we tried it at arsenal last year.
    And no more contracts to 32/33 year olds past there sell by dates!!!! But lower league football no thank you!!

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