Cards Earn Credit For Boro Cult Heroes

EMANUEL Pogatetz has picked up 23 yellow cards in his short time with Boro. The Alpine hardman was voted supporters’ player of the year. The two are not unconnected. The crowd love a player who is willing to take a few knocks – and dish a few out – in the service of the shirt.
No matter how much you try to sanitise the game as a fluffly foam fingered family entertainment there remains a brutal kernal of primeval conflict about it and our innate tribalism demands a champion ready to shed blood for the cause. In Mad Dog we have such a man.

Alongside Jonathan Woodgate the battle-scarred Austrian stopper has completed a dramatic transformation from a suspect left back barracked for his rash tackling to rock solid central defender hailed for his all action style. He has put his head in where the boots are flying, dived in to 40/60 challenges at great personal risk and thrown himself in the way of thunderbolt shots where lesser players would bottle it.
We knew he was hard. He arrived with a world wide six month ban hanging over him for a leg breaking tackle in Russia and at first that seemed like the inevitable result of his recklessness, a fatal flaw in a poor Steve McClaren purchase that could only harm the team by conceding stupid free-kicks in dangerous positions.
But from a blood spattered bust-up with Kevin Davies to six stitches at Old Trafford shrugged off as an occupational hazard Pogatetz has shown himself to be totally committed and won over the crowd with his passion, enthusiasm and bravery. The end of season stats showed him to have put in more tackles, more blocks and more clearances than any other defender so the rough stuff is crucially allied to an increasingly important player too.
To be fair, there has to be some moral reservations over a player that can pick up 23 bookings in 79 games, mostly for very physical challenges some of which are enough to make even hard men wince. He is already the fifth most booked player in the Riverside era, which against some stiff competition isn’t bad going. And if you go through them there are few for wimpy offences like encrouchment. It is all good, “honest” hard-as-nails tackling and in what is still nominally a non-contact sport easier to far easier for a no-nonsense working class crowd to rationalise than the foreign infections of diving, feigning injury and shirt tugging.
So Manu Pogatetz has become a fans favourite with his card count a visible measure of his commitment and, of course, that is a part of a time honoured terrace tradition. There have always been tough tackling enforcers who struck a chord with the darker parts of the fans pysche, players who would tackle their nana, two footed, throat high and from behind. For all the crowd pleasing mercurial magic of the Fancy Dan forwards it is the broken nosed bruisers who do the dirty work that earn the right to play and who dig in when the pressure is on that really press the buttons of the crowd. A crunching tackle from Boam, Souness, McAndrew, Mogga, Glover, Hamilton, Pearson or Ince is every bit as inspirational as any dribble. It gets the blood pumping and sparks an instinctive reaction from the crowd.
A creditable card count is the quickest route to football cult status. Getting booked on a regular basis – or even better, getting sent off – can be a tangible measure of total commitment to the cause that a partizan crowd demands.
Pogatetz has filled the void left by the previous champion Franck Queudrue. French Franck had his critics but there was no doubting that his willingness to launch himself into a tackle that was barely legal was popular with whole layers of the crowd. Queudrue’s commitment could also be measured: in his five years he picked up 33 yellow cards and a club record six reds – including three in one crazy campaign. Leaving the team with ten men may be a tactical nightmare for the team and unforgiveable for a coach but it seems to play well with fans as he twice won the supporters’ player of the year as well as building a massive personal fan base.
Before Franck the crowd’s card collecting cult hero was Gianluca Festa. The tough-tackling Italian martial artist picked up 35 yellows and four reds in his spell, including a sending off at Sunderland for “clearing the blood from his nose” all over Kevin Phillips.
The booking count seems directly related to popularity. Dean Glover, Ian Baird, Paul Ince, Andy Townsend, George Boateng have all enjoyed a spell as the team’s destroyer and revelled in the worship that comes with an ability to trip, kick, spoil and break up opposition play. If you can shed blood and limp off along the way, all the better.
Here’s some stats to play with, but don’t dally on them because here comes a two footed lunge:
Festa 34 Y 4 R
Queudrue 33 Y 6 R
Ince 30 Y 1 R
Boateng 24 Y 2 R
Pogatetz 23 Y 0 R
2006-07: Cattermole 12; Pogatetz 11; Boateng 7 (2 reds – one later rescinded)
2005-06: Pogatetz 12; Queudrue 7; Rochemback 7
2004-05: Parlour 12 (1 red); Zenden 8; Boateng 8; Queudrue 7 (2 reds)
2003-04: Mills 11; Boateng 10; Zenden 6 (1 red); Queudrue 6 (1 red)
2002-03: Boateng 6; Greening 6; Queudrue 5 (3 reds)
2001-02: Ince 12 (1 red); Queudrue 8 (1 red); Greening 7; Festa 1 (2 reds)
2000-01: Cooper 10; Ince 9; Summerbell 6
1999-00: Ince 9; Ziege 9 (1 red); Stamp 7
1998-99: Gascoigne 13; Townsend 10; Festa 9
1997-98: Festa 9 (2 reds); Townsend 8 (1 red); Emerson 7
1996-97: Mustoe 11; Cox 10; Festa 8


11 thoughts on “Cards Earn Credit For Boro Cult Heroes

  1. I would make pogi captain next season. He has all the attributes. He is the no nonsense tough captain we have been looking for. He has grown in stature this season and does all the physical stuff for woodgate. to think steve mac saw him as a left back-think he was the only one who saw that

  2. Interesting reading, in dull matches it is often the crunching tackle that gets the crowd going, a pleasant change from some bland non contact football we see.
    Lawro sometimes speaks tosh, mostly in his predictions about the Boro, but he is right about the old fashioned derby matches where the ball was throw onto the pitch after half an hours play, there was real atmosphere.
    Looking at the list it is interesting that Greening appeared as a serial offender yet he won chicken runner of the year in his final season.
    Here is a daft thought, as we are seeking balance to the team and the Baggies are not coming back up, why dont we bring him back then we can have a target on both flanks for the chicken runners.
    It is much easier to boo a player on your side of the pitch, it would be like surround sound as a cross field ball from Downing to Greening would have boos sweeping across the stadium. We have until 31st August to think about it.

  3. about time you back av. why no gazzete yesterday?
    you are right that the hardest dirtiest player is always the hero not the fancy dan. bernie tells it that he was the legend but in fact we slagged him off forbeing offside and the legends were deano glover, gary hamilton and mogga, lads what got stuck right in and cause mayhem.
    wiping out the others lots stars is brilliant. lok at when mozza crunched divinho, what a cheer. hero of the hour. i just wish it was pogo what had wiped him out. he wouldnt have landed yet.
    **AV writes: There have been unprecedented technical difficulties which crashed our entire computer network.

  4. There’s a difference between ‘hard’ and just lacking technique.
    Pog was definitely in the 2nd category when he arrived. It wasn’t only The Ex who saw him as a left back, Alf, he was a left back. And he was awful.
    Leave aside the leg-breaking tackle (trying to be hard without any technique) he lacked pace and if you watched a couple of Austria international games when we were said to be interested in him, as I did, you’d have been stunned to see how embarrassed he was for positional play, defending and attacking. And then there was the lack of technique.
    Scharner was obviously the pick of the bunch but The Ex and our marvellous scouting system couldn’t see that – and he hadn’t played against us and the magnificent strength that was and is our right flank.
    Pog was brought here as a left back and when he played there, (surprise, surprise), he was as bad as many of us had seen.
    It is to the lad’s enormous credit and, I think, to Harry’s (especially so, since along with Arca – another failed left back – they are the only 2 examples I can think of in recent years when our coaching system at first team level has actually brought a player on that we’ve bought in) that he re-invented himself as a passable centre-back.
    If he can keep improving he can doubtless retain the mad-dog glint in the eye and the reputation but better the technique so he remains a feared opponent and a fans fave but spends less time suspended. That’s why I wouldn’t make him captain, Alf. He needs to concentrate on his own game.
    Woody must be captain next term.
    Ian – I think I’d take a lot longer than 31 August to think about Greening…or maybe no time at all!!! And most of it laughing.
    On the subject of The Baggies we can now turn our attention to Gera. He didn’t have a good game yesterday but aside from his storming runs down the right, crossing and tracking back he can also head the ball and offers a presence for that in both boxes. At a pinch he could come inside and double for a box-to-boxer and maybe even operate as a wing-back, if we wanted a 3-5-2 option. Bet we don’t nail him any time soon, though.
    As to Kamara – he’s not on any of my ‘wanted’ lists. I could explain why at length but Ian Gill summed it all up once when he said ‘he’s a tart’.
    Koumas isn’t what we need and failed last time up in the Prem. Curtis Davies would have been an excellent buy to replace Woody if he had gone but we’ve no need of more centre-backs.
    Interesting train of thought in some of today’s newspapers. they suggest we will fail to get ‘nasty, with technique’ Joey Barton (implication: we can’t compete with the others who are in for him.This may be true but it will more be won’t than can’t, given our ‘pathetic’ [Gadgie] performance in the market) and thus will go for Brown from Fulham who is going to be surplus to requirements because they are going to get Stephen Davis from Villa.
    Talking about mad dogs who lack technique – and in this case who also are genuinely nasty – step forward Mr. Brown! I know he comes from Hartlepool (’nuff said!) but Brown isn’t for us.
    Stephen Davis, ‘technique, spirit and drive, gets stuck in but not nasty’, from Villa (where, like us, they school their kids the right way) is a much better and younger alternative if, as seems, he is available.
    Forget the other Davis (from Pompey) too.
    But for goodness sake, get on with it!!

  5. John
    You can add Gera to the long ‘we were interested in him but he signed for someone else before we could speak to him’ list of players.
    Our apparent lack of activity in the market may be a cover for the behind the scenes negotiations which we dont know about resulting in several good signings ready for pre season.
    Gates statements about being hamstrung and Gibbo and Lamb phoning Veruka could be a smokescreen hinding stealthy moves in the transfer market and represents a master stroke of MFC PR.
    The last two blogs by AV could be lulling us into a false sense of depression before the club reveals major progress just before season ticket deadline day.
    On another topic I notice that the two minor glitches to the blog have morphed into ‘There have been unprecedented technical difficulties which crashed our entire computer network.’ Dont say I didnt warn you, the site will be off to USA next for an exploratory operation.
    **AV writes: Oh no, I’ll need a complete rebuild using a dead man’s cartlidge before I can blog properly.

  6. Cards have been cheapened by refereeing inflation. Some of the worst tackles seen today wouldn’t have even merited a stern lecture back in the seventies when brutality was widespread.
    You need to devise some kind of definitive Foulometer scale to compare the relative “hardness” of a player who gets 12 cards a season now to the 11 Mustoe got in 1996-97 or the six or seven a season Glover and Baird used to get before Year Zero and maybe two booking that Souness got before cards were even invented.
    Putting Souness at a 10 I’d have Glover at about 8, Pearson an 8 and Pogatetz maybe a 7. Cattermole would be about a a 3. He’s not hard, he just makes a lot of rash tackles because he is out of position.

  7. The RED and YELLOW card count I think is misleading.
    Boro are seen as an unfashionable club not only by the national media but also by the REFs,cards are often dished out to our players for minor offences.
    Yet when its Man.Utd, Arsenal or Chelsea the players often get away with numerous fouls before a card is produced and the constant berating of the referee by so called Star players is too easily tolerated although they are scared to death of upsetting Ferguson,Wenger and Jose to referee impartially.
    PS.Forget Gera,he is no better than what we have got. Zenden and Geremi are available,probably on frees and would be a better bet.
    **AV writes: Congratulations, you are our 3,000th customer. *champagne cork pops*

  8. John Stone
    Zenden and Geremi – yer jokin aren’t yer? Are you sure you’re not Don Mackay? “We only sign players who’ve already played for us or who played well against us in one European game.”
    Who, exactly, on the right side our midfield would you claim is as good as Gera?

  9. While Tough Tackling enforcers are loved up in these parts, how he can get player of the year is beyond me. Perhaps most improved player, but definately not player of the year.
    I think we all remember when he first came, The Ex claimed he would be our first choice left back for years to come and was better than we had at the time.
    I think Franck would have something to say about that, and me in fact. When he played he was awful going forward and worse when defending, his positional awareness was terrible, he was caught out of position more times than i care to remember! His tackling was atrocious and leaked a brown substance when anyone with any pace ran at him. Basically, he wasnt good enough!
    As i have mentioned previously on this blog, it is all down to Woody. When Woody was at The Barcodes, he made Titus Bramble look like an absolute world beater. His positional sense was fantastic, his tackling was impeccable and he was even mentioned in the same breath as the England team on a couple of occasions! Can you imagine the outrage if he was now?
    Once Woody left for the sunny delights of Madrid, Bramble turned back to what he was at Ipswich, a “run of the mill, too good for The Championship, not good enough for The Premiership” player. His tackling, positioning and awareness all took a massive tumble to the point where he has now been released.
    I think the same has happened with Poggy.
    Oh and AV, Andy Townsend popular?? I cant stand the guy, the only thing he does when hes comentating on any of our games is ridicule us and take the proverbial. Ive even read articles where the sole point of it was to put us down! All of this from a former captain of our club, it makes me sick!!

  10. I think Pogatetz has improved this term, but I’m 100pc certain that Woodgate has played a pivotal role in his development.
    The pair compliment each other but I still feel Pogatetz lacks some of the more important qualities to be a great centre-half capable of peforming at this level week-in, week-out.
    It takes more than committment to be a top player. Pogatetz may well throw himself at anything, but his disciplinary record must improve. In terms of the overall progress of the team, silly free-kicks, bookings and red cards cost you at the top.
    Bigger clubs can afford the odd their player the occasional dummy-spit or bad tackle because they have the cover in their squads to replace. We don’t, that’s why his discipline is so important.
    I think he has improved immensely towards the back end of the season. His challenges have been timed better and when he wades into a tackle he is winning the ball a lot more. Hopefully his progression can continue.
    Calls to make him captain next year are ridiculous. A captain is the figurehead for the team on the pitch, not someone who makes the biggest tackles. If he spends 6/7 games a season suspended, what good is that to us? Woodgate has the footballing ability and knowledge to lead the team. He will wear the armband next term, I’m sure.
    I was fortunate enough to be at Wembley for the Derby West Brom game. Greening did all he ever does. Beats his man, turns back and tries to beat him again, does, then turns back and tries to beat him again… and fails.
    I was unimpressed with Gera. Not just his contribution with the ball, but off it as well. He looked sidetracked and didn’t seem interested.
    As for Kamara. I’ve watched him a few times this season and he had chances against Derby. He has raw pace and a real ability. Is that enough for Boro to take a punt? I don’t know…
    Koumas? I think he would be a real addition. He was fantastic against Derby and really unfortunate to be on the losing side. He went missing a little towards the end of the second half but as has already been mentioned, he flopped in the Premiership before and it might be too much of a risk for us.
    Pogatetz knows it himself. In an interview a few months back he stated laid his progression down to playing alongside Woodgate.

  11. woodgate is too much like pallister to be a boro captain. Pogi is more like mogga and pearson and he will grow in stature the more games he plays. already you can see him encouraging other players. Pogi is the sort of bloke who would lead you into battle from the front.

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