Opening Day Defeat Is No Disaster

BORO may have lost the opener but there’s no need to write the season off just yet.
Going into the game amid a deep defensive crisis and an unprecedented air of doom and gloom over ticket sales, Keith Lamb’s comments, transfer activity seen by many as well short of ‘spectacular’ and abrupt radio silencefrom Ali and Bernie their were low expectations. Many expected a Boro side with a makeshift backline to be battered by bogey team Blackburn.
In fact Boro sparkled for an hour, deservedly took the lead and showed promising signs that the new attacking mentality was taking root before two defensive slips in concentration cost them the points in 15 minutes of madness.


Of course, you don’t get points for bright approach play but the movement on and off the ball of new boys Tuncay and Aliadiere and the way they combined crisply with Stewart Downing – last season’s only creative outlet – and galvanised frontman Yakubu was encouraging.
Several times in the friendly against AZ Alkmaar then again against Rovers incisive four man passing moves involving the mobile frontline cut into the box only for Aliadiere to just fail by a fraction to connect with killer balls from the Turk, much to the delight of the crowd.
Meanwhile the young defence – Chris Riggott at 26 was the elder statesman with Davies, Wheater and Taylor all recent products of Boro’s academy – acquitted themselves well on the whole while George Boateng’s vastly improved showing was welcome.
One worrying aspect was that Boro faded in the closing spell, this despite the oft-repeated media mantra that the team “are fitter than ever before.” Boro’s pre-season was far from ideal – Schalke was a tough opening and injuries have disrupted preparations so Southgate has been nowhere near a first choice team – and they need to get up to speed quickly.
But a little fine-tuning – and the addition of the physical presence of a Mido figure rather than lightweight Lee Dong Gook coming off the bench to add punch when chasing a game – could see Boro take shape as a potent counter-attacking outfit, especially when under-pinned by the solidity of a fully fit first choice defence.
But that development must take place quickly. Going into the season the initial run of fixtures looked generous but Boro must make them count – and Gareth Southgate must hold his nerve and stick by his vow of high energy entertaining play.
The trips to Wigan and Fulham are crucial. Both sides, among the strugglers last term, played well in their opening day defeats and like Boro will feel they are not far short. Also like Boro they will be desparate to make up lost ground in what already feels like an tense campaign in which mistakes will be punished ruthlessly. It may be ridiclously early to talk about “must winâ€? games – or “mustn’t loseâ€? games at least – but Boro can’t afford to fall behind so early or it will be a long hard and unforgiving season.
The danger is that if the pieces don’t fall into place quickly that Southgate will retreat into a more defensive approach and the prospect of an overtly attacking three up front and a cavalier mentality will gradually mutate into the harsh reality of five across the middle and a renewed sense of caution being sold to the punters on the basis of solidity.
It is notoriously difficult to judge on the basis of the opening day (although that won’t prevent any kneejerk reactions), especially when Boro have such a poor record in the curtain-raisers. Boro have never won an opening day fixture at the Riverside in the Premiership in seven attempts so losing to Rovers was surrendering to historic inevitability as much as anything.
Here’s that glorious Riverside record in full:
1996/97 Liverpool 3-3 (Ravanelli 3)
1998/99 Leeds 0-0
1999/00 Bradford 0-1
2001/02 Arsenal 0-4
2004/05 Newcastle 2-2 (Downing, Hasselbaink)
2005/06 Liverpool 0-0
2007/08 Blackburn 1-2 (Downing)
*Boro did win at home in 1997-98, beating Charlton 2-1 with goals from Festa and Ravanelli.

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41 thoughts on “Opening Day Defeat Is No Disaster

  1. i wouldnt say they ‘sparkled’ against blackburn tbut they did look solid and comfortable. lik eyou said th edifference was that they brought two lads off the bench that changed the game.when you look along our bendch thare wasnt anyone to do that.
    i thought george was good but also wheater looked very handy. big strong lad at the back and gets forward a bit too. had four decent chances. he is the player huth was supposed to be.
    i hoep boro dont get mido. because if the do then it looks like the yak is off. he has looked ok v alkmmar and balckburn. good movement. he’s the only one weve got that we know can actually score. no point selling him to a rival.

  2. we will be the new spurs..remember them a couple of seasons ago without any goalscorers? creating plenty of chances but no one to put them away. players like tuncay,downing and aliadiere will spend too much time playing deep and making runs
    **AV writes: Maybe, that’s why it is important to either keep the Yak or make sure of a very good replacement.

  3. For once I acually saw the game…unfortunately the holiday in Costa-del-Redcar ends this week. I have a few points to make:
    1) We played well, and a draw would have been a fair result. We were the better team for 60 minutes, and they basically scored with their only two shots of the game. It is foolish to be pessimistic at this point. The new boys’ movement and work-rate was excellent. Midfield and defence looked solid (obviously, bar the two lapses).
    2) Blackburn are a decent team who will be challenging for a UEFA spot.
    3) The atmosphere at the Riverside was appalling. I went to the game with my two daughters, aged 11 and 8. They had been to the Alkmaar game and had enjoyed it, but I warned them that the atmosphere on a match day would be special. I taught them some of the songs that are sung at the games, and I tried to describe what a feverish 20 / 30, 000 Boro crowd used to sound like when I watched the Boro at Ayresome Park.
    In the event, we were outsung by a few hundred Blackburn fans. Other than the goal celebrations, and the opening “da da da da,” the ground was subdued. The players and the manager deserved more.
    4) “…galvanized frontman Yak”…if that’s true, then we are in trouble. His feet didn’t leave the floor once in the game — his marker won every header. His work rate was nothing like Alliadiere’s or Tuncay’s. I wasn’t that impressed with him.
    5) I hope we have a good season. In a league saturated with dodgy dealings and overpaid divas, it’s refreshing to see a team with a majority of local lads who are clearly proud to wear the Boro shirt.
    Downing played well. Taylor looked very solid at the back. Wheater looked solid, and he looked very dangerous going forward. Davies was solid, and Cattermole and Johnson gave useful cameo appearances.
    All in all, it was disappointing loss, but the only table that matters is the end of the season one. There’s no reason that there should be such a malaise on Teesside.
    Keep the faith!

  4. There were plenty of positives from the game and we shouldnt forget them.
    The matches against Wigan and Fulham will tell us a lot about our season. If we welcome Toon with nul points then we are in for a very long season indeed because it will be weeks before we have some first line defenders back and if we cant outscore Fulham and Wigan we will not worry harder tests to come.
    I am not being a neg head because I was pleased with much that I saw Saturday in the first hour but without reinforcemnts during the window we are very thin in the attacking department.

  5. AV
    Your summing up after the Blackburn game left nothing amiss. I think overall, a draw would have at least been a creditable result given the full picture.
    But, the pieces you have touched upon must be seen immediately, because our comfortable looking start could turn out to be a very mental drain.
    Hindsight favours GS at this moment in time, so I hope he see’s sense and gets rid now.
    Yakabu might as well be given Roary’s outfit, because he’s no-more than a slow pain up front.
    We need Mido rapidly, because he is a combination player and his work rate is non stop.
    Young Wheater was magnificent and he had more efforts on goal than you Yak, because he loves our club and his heart is a Mountain of Red and White.
    People were worrying about the young Rookie, but not me, because 10 more with his attitude and you fill the ground.
    Get him out and let’s up the pace Keith rapidly.
    **AV writes: Yak has pace and an eye for goal but his first touch is not really his strong suit and if we are to play at a high tempo, on the ground and on the move then that could be where the system breaks down.
    There is a strong argument that if the Southgate system is to be effective then he should be replaced by a more fluid forward with good close control and vision.
    But is Mido that man? Or do we still need AN Other?

  6. AV
    If what you say is true on The Yak then the alternative is to let him go, bring in Mido to lead the line and use the rest of the cash to get Gudjohnssen from Barca with the huge wages but small (if any) fee.
    Just the sort of blend of ‘club and rapier’ that would go well with the supply provided by Stewie and Tuncay with Aliadiere raiding from the right.

  7. How did we lose that one? For most of the game we were much the better side, in fact it was the long delay which brought disaster.
    We did it all last year and it seems we havent learned yet – AFTER TAKING THE LEAD WE MUST CONCENTRATE TILL THE FINAL WHISTLE.
    But overall the signs were good much sharper than the last few years and the young’uns are a credit to the club. The whole of the team looked good but forget about a new striker How about a keeper who will come offhis line and make the box his own?

  8. AV
    We have been saying for ages that Yak is not good at holding the ball up, linking play or provide an aerial threat. But we have no one else. Most of the clubs outside the top teams have to compromise with what they have available and make do.
    Mido will bring something different to the table if we tie up the deal. What we dont know is who else is available, nor who will be the sacrificial lamb to allow him to play.

  9. the mIdo thing makes me laugh. for starters paying £3m too much for him. We said one of the reason we werent fussed about losing viduka was because the style of play will change..so now we are buying a player similar to mark viduka, big and lazy but a lot more moody and has a habit of falling out with people

  10. If we manage to complete the signing of Mido i would then like us to bring in either by buying/loan a midfielder with a bit of pace who could play anyway along the the midfield just to had a bit more cover and give further options.
    Furthermore a defender who can play anyway along the backline to provide cover.

  11. Gareth said “Pace was going to be the new ingredientâ€?
    We have it in abundance, but it only takes one lamp post to stop the traffic. If those newcomers down the A19, beat us to a signature, what then?
    We had Blackburn on the rack and one further injection of pace, would have sent them home empty handed.
    When the Blackburn player picked the ball up prior to scoring their second goal, that particular player had only two options open, because he was on isolated ground.
    1) To wait for reinforcements and square the ball.
    2) A shot to the far corner – syndrome.
    Mark Schwarzer was off his line. Therefore, he gifted that player the freedom of the far corner, because the perfect right curl cannot fail to hit the bull’s eye.
    If he had stretched his left arm out prior to that shot, then he would have sent a signal to the player that his mind was on all tricks. It’s not knit picking, it is commonsense, because football is a mind game.
    I am sure we will put things right against Wigan and once again I take me hat off to young Wheater, because you were trully superb son.
    Finally, I think Keith Lamb will be ever so busy at the moment and the Gazette should hopefully have some brighter news today, to report back to us.
    YUK OR YAK





take thy pick?

  12. “If we manage to complete the signing of Mido i would then like us to bring in either by buying/loan a midfielder with a bit of pace who could play anyway along the the midfield just to had a bit more cover and give further options.
    Furthermore a defender who can play anyway along the backline to provide cover.”
    I heard the bionic man is available
    **AV writes: And he’ll only cost $6m

  13. ” the mIdo thing makes me laugh. for starters paying £3m too much for him. We said one of the reason we werent fussed about losing viduka was because the style of play will change..so now we are buying a player similar to mark viduka, big and lazy but a lot more moody and has a habit of falling out with people ”
    I couldn’t agree more Alf.
    I agree he’s got talent and scores goals but it’s his attitude that worry’s me, especially as he does have a habit of falling out with people as you rightly say.
    Maybe being a bigish fish in a smallish pond will suit his ego more and so he may well fit in and produce the goods, but I’m not so sure, especially at that price which I think is a big risk.
    But we’ll see and just have to hope that he’s a changed man and that he’s eager to prove his doubters wrong.
    RE Viduka – Whilst he was here and doing well he was the business and everyone was raving about his strength and hold up play saying he was the best in the business at it, and now that he’s gone everyone wants to rubbish him.
    Thanks Vids. Your goals helped keep us up last season, especially when Yak wasn’t producing. All the best mate.
    TB

  14. ” Mido will bring something different to the table if we tie up the deal. What we dont know is who else is available, nor who will be the sacrificial lamb to allow him to play.”
    That should be no problem, by the time his work permit is through/and he’s match fit it will be nigh on Xmas and we’ll have lost half the forward line to injury.

  15. I thought Wheater had a great game and could easily have scored two. Having a centre back who is also a big threat at set pieces is a bonus and I hope he continues to play well enough to give GS a real dilema when he has Woodie/Huth fit.
    The attacking play was good to watch to and aliadiere was unlucky not to score, he didn’t look lightweight to me.
    I’ve done a u-turn on Mido , I think he could be an asset after all providing GS can keep him focused and he doesn’t get the ‘viduka’ syndrome that Alf refers to.
    The ongoing Yak wil he go won’t he speculation is interesting, for certain he can’t be released unless a replacement is lined up first, in addition to Mido that is.

  16. I thought the first 60 minutes (and last 4 mins) were entertaining and despite our “fitter than ever” claim the heat certainly left us leggy and weary for the last 25 minutes and gifted Rovers the game.
    There were more positive aspects than negatives, Aliadiere, Downing and Sanli had fans out of their seats more than has been the norm at the Riverside of late. Wheater I believe will establish himself at CB meaning that Pog and Riggot will have a battle on their hands with Huth I suspect leaving in January if he can walk or crawl by then.
    I thought Yak looked for much of the game as though he was impersonating a cross between Michael Rickets and Alen Boksic, nuff said there.
    I would cash in my chips with him, bring in Mido and take Vassell of Man City for a token fee. Vassell would offer us the pace and ability to link up with the new fast flowing style and slick interplay.
    The Yak can only attack a ball running onto it at full steam, excellent for a struggling team hoofing the ball up the pitch to a lone striker but no use in close control situations or in meeting crosses fizzing in from the flanks.
    The defeat was disappointing but Gareth got more right than wrong on the day and needs to hold his nerve and dish up more of the same and in return the disillusioned 6,000 or so will return quickly.

  17. Redcar Red – Vassell!!! I nearly choked on my Twix when I read that one. If we sign Vassell I’ll switch my aleigance to Synthonia forth with.
    Vassell is to use a technical term cr@p and even Villa fans thought so when he manged to put in a couple of good performances in for England. If we need another striker there are a shed load available that are better than Vassell.
    I’m off for a lie down…….
    TB – You continue to amaze me, you say Mido has talent and scores goals but his attitude worrys you! Would you be satisfied if we signed Drogba? Presumably you would moan because he dives too much!!
    If a player has talent and can score then its up to the manager to keep him focused, a job I have no doubt GS is more than capable of.

  18. Boro did look better at the weekend and the increase in pace was great to see. What I don’t understand (it’s probably because I’m a girl) is why there has never been a Boro team in my memory that can apply pressure for the full 90 minutes.
    It seems to be ingrained in all Boro squads that you take your foot off the pedal at some point in the game. It was annoying that the McCarthy injury affected us and not them – maybe we should have done as Blackburn did and regrouped with the manager rather than watching the Physio do his stuff.
    I do feel that Yak has become a bit of a whipping boy for Boro’s failings. I thought he had a good first half and the second half we resorted to the long ball up to Yak who was up against a 8′ 10″ defender – you try and beat that in the air !!!
    Still think that we are lacking down the right side – where both goals came from. Tuncay looked pretty good with his movement and passing but didn’t cross one ball into the area from the right hand side.
    Hope Messers Southgate and Lamb are still working on this as this is one area we need to improve.

  19. Neil from the USA wrote….” The atmosphere at the Riverside was appalling. I went to the game with my two daughters, aged 11 and 8. They had been to the Alkmaar game and had enjoyed it, but I warned them that the atmosphere on a match day would be special. I taught them some of the songs that are sung at the games, and I tried to describe what a feverish 20 / 30, 000 Boro crowd used to sound like when I watched the Boro at Ayresome Park”.
    Welcome to the cold reality of the Premier League mate. The geordies will out-sing our lot at the next home match and we will out do them at Sid James’s when we go there. That is just the way it is these days! Now wheres me prawn sandwiches!

  20. Tonyblack- you call Viduka your “mate.” He scored them goals for himself not us as proven by his defection to our arch rivals.
    As regards the comment by someone about Schwarzer making up Derbyshire’s mind, bravo. Schwarzer rarely makes big saves in games (yes I was at the Man City game) and compared to say Jaaskelainen just strolls through games. He has no control over what is meant to be his area.
    Mido will likely do okay but 6.8m should have been no more than 4m. At least he’s much more talented than Smith, though i’d have taken Santa Cruz for just half of Mido’s fee, and that was before he showed the Riverside faithful he had talent.
    All in all though, if he scores goals who cares? We got 40m from Sky yet the club pocketed most of it. I’ve always worried about Boro chucking around money (LUFC in the memory) but now I’m past caring as we seem incapable of sniffing out bargains.
    Wonder how long the work permit will take though? And the African Nations cup toll? Oh well, lets win tomorrow please lads.

  21. all this buying southgate’s done since he arrived means he has little faith in the youth academy. He will end up with a reputation like keegan to bin the kids and buy players in. add int he comments about playing attacking football

  22. For an hour we looked more solid, concentrated and fitter and in 15 minutes we were back to square one. There were too many similarities from last seasons failings for me to be convinced by G.S.s rhetoric .
    The goals were plundered due to bad organisation and basic defenceive lapses. The first was caused by Downing being outstripped by Bentley on the right, which begged the question were was Taylor? He could be found in the penalty area marking fresh air. Riggott was poor in defending the cross.Swartzer could have reacted better, his reflexes are not those of a top Premiership keeper
    When Downing attacked on the flank he was faced by 2 sometimes 3 Blackburn players determined to compete.
    The second goal was mainly hesitation by Davies getting caught on the ball, but Derbyshire then had room and time in the penalty area to pick his spot.
    A very promising start spoilt by the usual failings of losing concentration, lack of basic defensive organisation within the team as a whole, poor finishing and an overrated egotist in goal.

  23. Boro Girls
    When Jack Charlton was manager we had a team that could apply pressure, but I cannot remember another since.
    Many a team has applied lots of pressure on the crowd’s nerves though.
    That guy who marked caterpillar Yak would have been shown a Yellow Card against any player
    with pace and talent. That’s the name on the ball these days, because its either back off, or risk being sent off!
    You ladies know a lot about football, because I married one, and she too, knows her footy.
    TB
    Mido is a very skilful player with ample pace and he is a superb header of a ball.
    However, the Yak will score against Wigan and end up Man of the Match, because I think Wednesday is egg on faces day.
    If he spent a few hours keeping pace with the Gazette production lines he could possibly end up catching rabbits.

  24. Can’t say I agree with the Neil from America. I thought the atmosphere from the 25000 crowd on Saturday was superb.
    As for the game the things which stood out for me was firstly David Wheater’s display. He was excellent, he has all the attributes to be a good centre half. Commanding and he has good pace.
    Secondly, George seemed to be back to his old self after having been a bit patchy last season. Early days I know, but if he can keep that up it will be great boost for the side.
    Lastly, despite all the stick Yakuba has been getting about him being lazy etc. I thought he had a good game on Saturday and his link up play, particulaly in the first half, was excellent.
    One final think I’d like to say. Malc says Boro are incapable of sniffing out bargains. What about Luke Young? A 28 year old England international for £2.5m. A bargain! Can’t wait to see him in action.

  25. it might sound daft but how about diouf of bolton for wide right bit moody but agood player heard he is out of favour. good game on sat

  26. This board is full of nutters !!!
    ” TB – You continue to amaze me, you say Mido has talent and scores goals but his attitude worrys you! Would you be satisfied if we signed Drogba? Presumably you would moan because he dives too much!! ”
    Mido has got the talent and he does score the goals. But he’s a well known moaner and groaner and tends to turn up when he can be bothered and I just can’t stand these type of players, that’s all, especially when they get paid in one week what most of us don’t get paid in a whole year.
    “Tonyblack- you call Viduka your “mate.” He scored them goals for himself not us as proven by his defection to our arch rivals. ”
    Viduka only went to those tophyless fools down the road recently and until he left he wore the shirt and scored some vital goals for the Boro when Yakubu had long since shut up shop. Without Vidukas goals we’d have gone down the swanny and into the Championship and so I don’t think that it’s too big a deal to say cheers mate.
    Clubs don’t show loyalty when players are past their sell by date and yet we somehow expect players to show loyalty and stay, or not to go to arch rivals.
    If I worked for Vodafone and BT offered me more money and they had better prospects ( as he sees it ) I know what I’d do.
    TB

  27. Tony Black
    We have only played one game, so cool down and enjoy life.
    All the posts are brill and it’s our club..OK?

  28. Re the impact of the Duke last season. Viduka had scored 6 league goals by March and then banged in 8 goals in the last few weeks of the season, mainly in games that did not really matter. Not really keeping us single handedly is it!
    Funnily enough he started scoring and playing well during contract talks – pretty much what happened last time his contract was up for renewal.
    I am glad to see the back of him, especially when we started offering him really silly money to stay. Although i can see why people compare Mido to Viduka, i have a feeling that Mido will become a good signing and does offer a different option to what we have now.
    Having said that, if we are going to pay nearly £7 million for a spurs forward, i would much rather it was Jermaine Defoe!

  29. Regarding the atmosphere at Saturday’s game: I’m dating myself. I grew up supporting Boro in the late 70s and 80s before the Hillsbrough tragedy, so my memories of games involve screaming and jumping in the Holgate End.
    As Bertie B pointed out, things are a bit different now. Anyway, the girls and I still had fun. My point (which my have been lost in the hyperbole) was that I felt the atmosphere was a bit muted.
    As for Yak…I hope he proves me wrong. On Saturday he was the only player I wouldn’t have given an “A” for effort. He also seems too much of a one-trick-pony. Sticks his bum out out when the ball is played to him and then either loses it or lays it off. Like I say, I hope he makes me look stupid by scoring a bucket load of goals tonight.
    Remember…it’s early days yet. Or maybe we can make some broad generalizations from the first week’s action. Tottenham are locked in a relegation dogfight. Man Utd will struggle to qualify for the UEFA cup. Sunderland are going to “do a Reading”. And Everton are Champions League material.
    Onto Wigan…

  30. Malc
    Like many people you have posted about all this money we have got from Sky, I am sure that doesnt all appear 1st August 2007. The club wont have pocketed £40m. It is a bit like getting a £10,000 per year pay increase, great news but you havent had it until the first year has finished.
    Now I often have a pop at the club but assuming Mido arrives that means we will have spent about £18m on Woodie, Aliadiere, Tuncay, Young and Mido with £1.5m coming in for Morrison. That is a big chunk of money we havent got yet with hopefully more to come. It may be Yak leaves and we have money to reinvest.

  31. “Viduka only went to those tophyless fools down the road ”
    Trophyless???? down the road??? arch rivals???
    I’m getting quite a clear picture of who the fool is on this blog!

  32. I hear what you say allycat and agree that viduka started playing better than usual as his contract was up for renewal. But all I’m saying is that I wish him well and thanks and that’s it.
    He was here a while, scored some important match winning goals, didn’t cause any trouble off the pitch as far as I’m aware, got on well with people and helped the cause and for that I’m grateful.
    I too can’t stand this ” turn up when I want ” attitude that Viduka has always had and I would have preffered not to sign someone in the same mould and who is possibly worse, as Mido also has the reputation of falling out with too many people for my liking.
    But here’s hoping that he’s here to prove that he’s a great player and not the trouble maker or moaner that many people seem to think he is.
    TB

  33. Just to point out it was Alf mentioning the atmosphere at the ground on Saturday. Neil (USA) actually is in er the USA!
    Carry on

  34. Tottenham – to break up the big 4’s domination was the pre-season forecasts from many pundits.
    Wigan to finish as the basement team came in the same drift.
    We also got many a mention, but I can’t remember one single word other than, struggle!
    It is a massive game for us tonight.However,if our energy levels match that of our overall talent, then surely ?
    We could not have a finer stage to lay down our season.
    I am delighted to see Mido on board and Keith Lamb deserves praise for taking a positive step in the right direction of the field.
    In fairness to Keith Lamb, if we signed Rooney, some people would moan, by saying “He’s nowt but a troublemakerâ€?.
    ACCORDING TO ME FOOTY CALENDAR
    We should be able to field our elite first team when the Easter Eggs are on the shelves.

  35. Thats about as bad a performance tonight as Portsmouth last year and Villa the year before. Heartless, spiritless, lacking belief and in the second half running around like schoolkids all chasing the same ball.
    Sadly typical Boro except that deep down in my heart I suspect its even worse than typical Boro. If my staff ever performed in their work like that I think I’d be sacked for my reactions, I didn’t see any aggresion or leadership from the bench which is probably why we didn’t see any on the pitch.
    In an earlier post I suggested we should consider signing Darius Vassell, I now think it should be Darcy Bussell…………..she at least has more stamina and b*lls than the entire squad combined.

  36. What a diabolical mess tonights game against Wigan was. Embarrassed to be a boro fan.
    I know we have to field a make shift defence, but it looked like half the team were still playing footy on the beach in the summer holidays, rather than the Premiership. They need to start firing on all cylinders now, or they will find themselves permanently in the bottom three by Christmas, our traditional slump period.
    We need to shore up the defence, until some of the experienced lads are back, get rid of the Yak, who is not trying and looked like he couldn’t give a toss tonight and push Alliadere into the middle with Mido and get Tuncay spraying crosses in from the right, like Downing was on the left, though he messed up more than he got right tonight
    George is getting too slow for a full game, he needs to play the first half and add the bite, before giving way to the Catt, who can finish the second half.
    Afraid to say they looked like a doomed team already and only the local lads looked like they were trying.
    Looks like Steve G and Keith L have got the team they deserve, but not the fans and there is no bloody Bernie and Ali on the radio to drown out the dross of Sky commentary!!!

  37. Ok, despite some preseason optimism I am now a little worried.
    Watched the game on Sky tonight and Wigan definately desereved to win, we just didn’t realy compete apart from a few brief spells. Their goal was scrappy but take nothing away from Wigan, they were the better team by quite some margin.
    We couldn’t break a defence down which contained Titus Bramble! Yakubu might as well have not been on the pitch, his first touch seemed to be even worse than normal.
    There were some encouraging signs, Tuncay was a threat going forward for one, so why did Southgate take him off and replace him Johnson at the same time he replaced the ineffective Yakubu with LDG? Surely it would have made more sense to take Yak off, bring Johnson on and move Tuncay, a natural forward, up front? Am I the only one who thinks that that was a tactical blunder by Southgate.
    Thought the Boat had a good game, seems to have sorted out his distribution a bit from last season.
    One final point, one of Wigans main threats came from Koumas, why didn’t we go in for him? as far as I am aware he can play anywhere in midfield (please correct me on this if I’m wrong) and is the sort of box to box midfielder we have needed for a very long time and didn’t actually cost the earth. Another missed opportunity I feel.
    We MUST get a result on Saturday at Fulham or this really could be our winter of discontent. I really hope I’m wrong though, only time will tell.

  38. Just to add on the Viduka comments, I deal with Leeds Utd football club and talking to people there, they were glad when he went – mercenary, wanted % of gate reciepts in contract negotiations, said people only turned up to see him play, he was the superstar.
    Good player, but greedy, thanks, bye and good luck, hope the winters aren’t too cold up there, as he seemed to be ill all the time when winter came round when playing for the boro

  39. Despite the changes to the playing staff the Boro malaise of spineless, don’t care football releived only by mysterious injuries continues season after season.
    Maybe we need to look elsewhere for the problems – especially in the structure and management of the club. But does Steve Gibson have the desire to look that deep or just keep Boro as his hobby?

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