IT WOULD take seven coupon-busting results including Boro failing to take a single point from their last two and West Ham winning at Old Trafford to conspire and drag Boro down. It is virtually unthinkable. But that won’t stop Boro fans with a pessimistic streak as wide as the Transporter from believing it is almost inevitable.
The pundits have dimissed it. Reason suggests the vital point at Manchester United helped Boro limp and collapse over the line like a jelly-legged marathon finisher. Woodgate’s signing and the renewals forms going out suggest the players and the club think the issue is dead.
But look, hey chickenrun cynics! You can still get 259-1 on Boro going down at Betfair. And given the number of times Boro have been caught in a fatel pincer movement of their rivals’ last gasp revival and their own end of season ineptitude there might be quite a few takers. As an insurance against disaster it is worth a daft quid of anyone’s money.
It will take all six results coming up to put Boro down:
West Ham MUST win at home to Bolton. The pessimist will add that Bolton are safely in Europe now and may be unpredictable after the departure of Fat Sam.
West Ham MUST win away at Manchester United. The pessimist will suggest that with the title in the bag easy going may be resting players ready for the FA Cup and Champions League final and besides, the Hammers are nailed on to win a penalty on appeal.
Sheffield United MUST beat Aston Villa on Saturday to go above Boro. The pessimists will say that when it comes to a bare knuckle scrap Neil Warnocks boys are bound to knock seven bells out of already safe Villa.
Wigan MUST beat Boro. Say no more. The pessimists will tell you our Deckchair and Sombero ensemble are useless away (and indeed at home) and may as well not travel.
Wigan MUST then beat Sheffield United on the final day. The pessimist will say that the Blades will be demob happy after securing safety against Villa and then will put their cynics hat on and hint darkly that Warnock will want Boro to go down after that furore over Southgate resting players for the Manchester City game.
Fulham MUST beat Liverpool. A draw is not good enough because they have a far worse goal difference to Boro and the pessimist will say that with Liverpool safely into the Champions League final they will ease off whil Lawrie Snachez needs a win to have any chance of the keeping the job full-time.
And Fulham MUST beat Boro on the final day. It could all come down to that one game and the ‘typical Boro’ faction will already have Franck Queudrue pencilled in to score the winner.
So, seven results all to go against Boro. Those who went to Hillsborough on the last day of the Bruce Rioch top flight season in 1988/89 will perhaps be edgy. Then Boro were seventh bottom and four points clear two games from the end and travelled to Sheffield Wednesday not even in the bottom three and knowing that Boro would have to lose and four other big results go against them for the relegation trapdoor to happen. And it did. So the nightmare scenario is not beyond comprehension and you can understand the dark fears of those battle scarred veterans who can feel the icy hand of fear tightening around their heart.
The seven result accumulator of the nightmare scenario could fall at the first hurdle though and a series of results could instead just go Boro’s way.
Boro COULD win or draw at Wigan. Even a draw is enough for a Boro team that must now be concerned for their fat Premiership wages and should be motivated by fear of the unknown if not fear of Gareth. That would make Wigan prime candidates to be caught by West Ham.
West Ham COULD lose or draw at home to a Bolton side out to impress new boss Sammy Lee. If the Hammers fail to win then Boro can not go down.
Sheffield United COULD lose or draw at Villa Park. If that happens then they can only overhaul Boro by beating Wigan on the final day – and that would mean the Latics can not escape.
So, Boro can only go down if SEVEN events all happen in an unbroken sequence but they only need any one of six possible outcomes from nine on Saturday to stay up. And if things go against them there is a similar sequence of resulst demanded on the final day. If you fancy the six result accumulator you can get the tempting 259-1. Stick ÃÂ£2 on and if it comes up you have your season ticket for an exciting Championship play-off push covered.
Of course, it is an absolute disgrace that it has come to this, calculating other teams results and totting up the chances of survival two games from the end and less than a year since we were planning our trips to the UEFA Cup final.
No matter what happens on Saturday the club need to launch a serious far-reaching inquest into the technical, tactical and mental failings of the squad and the entire set up to ensure that it does not happen again and that next year brings immediate marked improvement. Or the relegation odds will be far slimmer next term.