BORO are a stuttering side that look demoralised by a run of just one win in 13 and appear demotivated after their bitter FA Cup Old Trafford exit. They are in freefall and hampered by a troublesome injury and suspension list – but they won’t go down.
They may have have taken their foot off the pedal, got the deckchairs out and are flicking through the brochures for flights departing DVT on Monday 14th May much to the frustration of the paying public but they will still be reporting back for Premiership duty next term – or most of them will anyway. But survival won’t be entirely through their own efforts. Boro seem to be on track to scrape just enough points to stay up but the bloody carnage below them as the teams in the basement go at it tooth and claw in a debilitating series of cut-throat fixtures should ensure that no one will take advantage of their slump.
Don’t take my word for it, Christ no. Have you seen my bookie’s car? No, use your own skill and judgement plus a cocktail of unscientific skills like hunches, prejudice and irrational dislikes of particular teams and individuals (yes that’s you Warnock and Curbishley) to weigh up the likely fates of the various Dead Men Walking in their remaining fixtures then write them down in this handy computer generated BBC Premiership predictograph and hey presto – Boro stay up.
I’ve tried it half-a-dozen times and only once got Boro relegated – and that took some serious manipulation. Twice I took it very seriously and weighed up the form of every fixture, historical nuances and local rivalries, the financial imperative of staying up or pushing for Europe against mid-table complacency then factored in the effect of other previous predicted results on morale and urgency, media and crowd pressure and even went all mystic meg and tried to take account of players being rested for bigger games coming up (the so-called Southgate Variable). On both occasions Boro stayed up.
Once I took an optimistic outlook and started from the notion that the boss, who “didn’t see that coming” against West Ham swiftly becomes more prescient and has the team fired up against Watford to claim a nerve-calming victory in double-quick time. Add to that a win at Wigan and draws against Villa and Fulham and it gives Boro eight points from the final seven games, a final tally and enough for 14th place in a tight table. On that model Wigan went down.
Then I put my Chicken Run head on and did itagain, with mainly just the Boro results changing. A catestrophic defeat to Watford combined with a Charlton win at Manchester City the night before edged the Addicks within three points and made it squeaky bum time on Teesside but a ‘typical Boro draw’ at Old Trafford was the only logical counterbalance to that along with other points against Villa, Wigan and Fulham. That gave a stingy four points from the last seven and a tally of 40 which just scrapes into the safety zone prescribed by Lennie Lawrence’s Iron law of Survival (points = games played +2). The extra point gained by Wigan in the second scenario was enough to keep them up on goal difference at Charlton’s expense.
I tried to get Sheffield United down just to prompt football’s nutter on the bus into an emotional meltdown but they have too many games that put their fate firmly in their own hands and in straight scraps at home to West Ham and Watford and away at Charlton and Villa you have got to fancy them to get two wins and pick up a draw elsewhere to just stay up.
Go on, give it a go and let me know how you get on. As Doctor Who has just restarted I expect some colourful pseudo-scientific explanations of rips in the space-time continuum that lead the quarter-fulls to get Boro to finish bottom and the ra-ra tendency to edge Boro into the Intertoto.
The bookies, rarely wrong, agree that Boro will not go down. It is easy for we in the hot house of on Planet Boro to become inflamed with anger at the obvious picture of impending doom our short-sighted subjectivity paints so sometimes it is useful to take a glimpse from the unflustered clinical perspective of the professionally objective.
Here are the latest Oddschecker collated prices on Premiership relegation. Boro vary between 25-1 and 50-1 to go down. If you think that it is likely get a tenner on now at Totalbet. It’ll more than pay for your Championship season ticket next year. If you prefer to stick with favourites then get your cash on the current bottom three but don’t expect a big return because the bookies have even revived Charlton as odds on to go down. My money is on them being right again.