Yakubu And The Zen Of The Former Goal Hero

WHAT are the odds on Yakubu scoring against Boro at Goodison? About 7-4 if you believe the bookies but most battle-scared cynical survivors of reunions past will have him down as a stone cold certainty to rattle one in.
There were volunteers queuing up with offers to personally give the enigmatic August-January hitman a croggie all the way to Merseyside after one of those Nigerian internet scams actually hit pay dirt and Boro pulled off the transfer coup of the Summer. He is already widely regarded as a lazy waste of space by Everton fans and he was dropped for the match with Aston Villa last week because boss David Moyes thought he wasn’t pulling his considerable weight in training.
So it’s nailed on then?


It happens with a depressing regularity. Look back to the ding-dong derby with Newcastle and consider the air of inevitability as the ball rolled to Viduka in the box. Putting aside the contrived righteous anger on Teesside about his departure under a cloud of cash and the transparent playground attempts to spin a line like a teenager who has been chucked that we didn’t fancy him now anyway, how obvious was it that he would score? Bitter experience underpinned the knowledge that he would stab us in the heart. They always do.
The one time hero scoring against his former faithful is a given. They’ve all done it: Ravanelli, Souness, Peter Davenport… we had better hope we don’t get Cardiff in the cup because Hasselbaink is a shoe-in to score if we do. There must be something about balancing the equilibrium of the intangible motive forces of football going on, some weird cosmic karma that insists on order being restored.
Meanwhile Yak has had an undiplomatic pre-match pop at Boro, Gibbo and the club’s lack of ambition (and made his move into the gallery of ingrates to be forever castigated as a legitimate boo-boy target on Teesside in doing so) and insists that if he does stick one in he won’t be doing one of those consciously muted non-celebrations a la Julio Arca or Viduka as a show of respect to his former faithful. Oh no. I think he is planning cartwheels and back-flips and will expand more kinetic energy than the whole of last season.
Should Yak score – and hey! Pessimists! You can get 18-1 for a hat-trick – the net-bulging slap across our collective chops will no doubt reinforce the notion currently abroad that suggests that Boro are the most “unlucky” side in the Premiership. Research by top scientific soccerologist boffins this week suggested that a higher proportion than is healthy of Riverside regulars consider themselves and the club “cursed.”
Cursed? Get real. Where have they been over the past decade? Boro have never had it so good with Wembley, silverware and Europe – and luck has played more than its fair share in shaping that glorious Age of Chance. Throughout the dark days of gypsy curses, mirrors broken in trade quantities and the team bus running over black cats by the dozen, for all the iconic figures who played for the club our forefathers never had a sniff of silverware even back when money did not rule the game entirely.
But in the past decade spawny Boro have had 128 years worth of good fortune, luck, kismat and fate heaped outside the Riverside Stadium in ridiculous quantities. Not only did Steve Gibson strike it rich and decide to gamble his fortune on a wild vision to raise this shabby provincial makeweight of a club to the top table but also the tides of fate have changed so markedly that some fans now expect Europe, the top six and staple diet of glory.
Ask Chesterfield fans if they think Boro are cursed. They must still feel sick at the thought of being robbed at Old Trafford. And talk about jammy? That season Boro got to the semi-finals of two major knockouts and were pitted against who? Man U? Chelsea? Arsenal? No. Mighty Chesterfield and the fabled Stockport. Were they the easiest semi-final draws ever? And that after seeing off Hednesford, Chester and Hereford.
As Napoleon said, it is better to have a lucky general than a good one. Boro’s real Great Leap Forward came under the sometimes chaotic guidance of Steve McClaren, a contender for the luckiest manger of all time. Under McClaren tactical blunders were immediately mitigated by injuries that forced changes that would later be hailed as genius: the moving of ineffective Zenden inside and the promotion of unwanted Stewie Downing to the flank was a watershed moment in the club’s history but it only came about because Mendieta got crocked. (See also England’s momentous recent revival.)
It is easy to pick out decisions that go against you and moan but look at the ones that go for you: a Ugo handball that should have been a penalty in the closing minutes at Cardiff, a delightful dive by Jimmy that won a crucial penalty at home to Roma, a harsh sending off for Mastrojovich that changed the game against Basel… we get our fair share.
But don’t be blaming luck or any ancient curse on Ayresome if Yak scores. There are far bigger forces at work there. Besides, every knows you make your own luck in this game. I will be attempting to do just that by putting my daft quid on him as last goalscorer at 5-1.

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28 thoughts on “Yakubu And The Zen Of The Former Goal Hero

  1. I presume you meant 5-1 to us!!
    Anyway, whatever you write Vic, I’ll be wearing my shirt backwards, chewing my lucky brand of chewing gum, and I won’t be texting my son during the game (I’m in Baku) regardless of what happens, we stopped doing that after the 4-4 draw at Norwich, it’s BAD LUCK!!
    0-1 to us will do nicely tomorrow, however as usual Southgate is still practising foot in mouth syndrome, and usually when he talks of “we are looking for three points” we get nowt. It’s BAD LUCK!!
    But I am looking forward to counting the number of times the Yak falls on his backside claiming fouls and penalties and the like.
    He will not score against us, there, I’ve said it ! Is that BAD LUCK ??

  2. I was interesting to note that after a stuttering debut (in which he scored) and few lardy efforts in training diddy David Moyes blasted the Yak in the press and told him unless he worked harder in training then he wouldn’t get a sniff of the first team then backed it up by dropping him.
    What a shock that must have been to Yak. He had got away with cruising at Boro without a peep. If he strolled around and disappeared in games and fans were getting edgy we were told “look at his goals record”, “that’s just the way he is”, “he is naturally laid back”. What a load of tripe.
    He always needed a rocket up his pants. That he never got it at Boro maybe explains why he went six months without scoring. No wonder the players ended up at his throat, it is always galling when you are putting a good shift and some other waster is getting away with murder like that.
    I was absolutely staggered when Boro got that much for Yak. I laughed out loud. On his form he wasn’t worth £4m. The last laugh will be on us (and it will raise questions about the club’s own man management) if Moyes can get him back to being a goal machine just with a bit of critical shouting.
    And yes, he is a cert to score.

  3. So onto Everton.
    Following on from the debate about Spurs and who to play in what formation it looks like Woodie and Mido fit, On’Neill back after being cuptied. I am guessing Tuncay wont quite be ready.
    If he chooses Gate now has the people to play 451 properly or 442 as he wants.
    The back four and keeper look after themselves.
    We could go with a 451/433 formation with a midfield of Downing, Cat, Rocky, Boat and O’Neill with Mido upfront. ONeill, Downing and Rocky can attack and link up with Mido safe in the knowledge that Cat and Boat will hold the fort. That is a far better line up than at Spurs, puts pegs in the right shaped holes and could be deployed effectively.
    The alternative is a 442 with either Lee or Craddock partnering Mido. The midfield 4 likely to be Downing, Boat, Rocky, O’Neill.
    What we do know is that Everton are a hard working and honest team, Would not be surprised if Gate goes down the 451/453 route.
    I have probably got it all wrong and he will play 352!
    **AV writes: I’d prefer a 4-5-1. We need to stop the rot and we desperately need a clean sheet so we need to keep it solid and hope we can nick one on the break.
    I wouldn’t like to see that every week at home and with the first XI fit we have the ability to play a more expansive style but away we need to start picking up points.

  4. red_rebel, couldn’t agree more, and it isn’t just the Yak, there are few more that need a good kick in the rear end at times.
    Not all players need it that’s true, but some do need to be let’s say, “managed”, and one I believe needs this type of close quarter micro managing is the “boywonder” Downing.
    Now there will a few who will get on their high horse about this, but there are games when he just appears to be doing enough and nothing more, and he has yet to show me a lot more before I will see him as a super star. The only thing he is consistent at is being inconsistent.
    For tomorrow, the news that Tuncay is not fit fills me with pessimism, because Everton have a good back line, and with Lee in the frame Mido will not be able to do it all himself.
    Best we can hope for is a battling draw.
    But I still don’t think the Yak will score, at least not from open play.

  5. I guess this is me getting on my high horse.
    What more can Stewart Downing do before some Boro fans rate him. For me he has been the standout player this year, he’s playing better now than he ever has done in a Boro shirt.
    He’s not just providing quality balls into the box, he’s actually dictating the game. He’s no longer afraid of taking people on, his cutting inside has been much more effective, his shooting is improving tenfold and he’s even scored with his right foot. The guy has been a revelation this year.
    Thanks.

  6. AV
    I must admit 451/433 would suit who we have available. I put the 433 part in because that is the bit that makes the best use of players when you have the ball, the wide men must be given licence to bomb on when we have the ball. That fluid system brought great success to Chelsea and Arsenal.
    What it does require is the ability to keep the ball. We have already discussed Boats passing (for want of a better word), he needs to keep it simple, probably alongside Cat and Rocky. Rocky will be key and be the one to step forward from the middle three. No showboating, do the clever stuff at their end of the pitch, balls for Stewie and ONeill to attack, Mido to hold up and bring people into play.

  7. With Tuncay missing tomorrow it looks likely that Gareth will probably opt for 4-5-1. Not sure if this is for the best as Mido is only just recovering and being up front alone needs a lot of effort and chasing. Hopefully our wing men will push up and contribute with attempts on goal.
    I would prefer to stick with our normal game plan with two strikers (please not Dong Gook Lee) to give Mido more space and time rather than having to deal with two Central defenders on his own. Not only will Mido struggle on his own but it will enable one of their defenders to push up putting more pressure on our midfield.
    For me we definitely need to go with two strikers and preferably Craddock alongside Mido, lets face it Wheater has been a real find in defence this season why can’t Craddock sieze his moment in attack.
    On the sujbject of Yak, well he might score as its before Xmas and he still puts a shift in but I’m more interested in seeing Craddock and Mido have a go.

  8. I’d have Moyes here like a shot. When he took over they were relaegation fodder and now they are in Europe every year. It is not pretty but they always fight every inch of the way. He gets his players fired up and working for each other.
    I cant believe he wanted Yak. He likes workers and no one would say Yak was that at Boro. If he can get Yak working and scoring it would be a right kick in the teeth for us and a black mark against Southgate.

  9. Dear Anthony,
    Such is the rapidity with which our fame is beginning to spread that we feel it incumbent upon ourselves to share with you and other BORO Bloggites this news: we are now to be known as SIR ARTHUR HASBEEN BITTERN and SIGNOR EURO KUNG FU of the Salamanca region.
    We are going to do our best to devolve any talent or genius we may have to you AV hopefully acting as the happy conduit to getting very important information to Chairman Lamb, the Father of Teesside.
    All this we do in order that we may be able to help BURRO which is our new pronunciation of the club. We must keep things very secret from now on as soon we will be in a position to pass on highly sensitive analysis and prognosis of the club.
    Therefore BURRO Bloggites please keep stum otherwise cheeky monkeys like the Mackems will steal our expertise and use it against us!
    We stand with you fellow BURRO Bipeds ALWAYS,
    Sir Arthur Hasbeen Bittern & Signor Euro King Fu of the Salamanca region.
    **AV writes: Surreal Madrid.

  10. Robin, have you been on the sauce mate?
    I like the Chairman Lamb of Teesside though, I can see him with pig tails, the eyes and tache, kneeling at the feet of Emperor Gibbo the Great, the Sun God.
    Anyway, James, fair answer mate, and I hope that wonderboy does his stuff today. I wasn’t having a dig at his obvious talent, just his workrate, and the boot up rear comments. If he could put in as much work as Arca he would be the real deal, maybe he needs to work on his stamina, or drink more Lucozade Sport?
    On to today’s game, 4-5-1 must be the way to shape up, we have a potentailly strong midfield even without Julio, so let’s play to our strengths. We know DGL is not the man up front to support Mido, and with only young Craddock available I can’t see what else Gate can do.
    But if nothing else he is his own man, and might have a tip at 4-4-2 which could be our undoing, he mustn’t be afraid to let the spectre of McClaren haunt him, if it needs 4-5-1 then play it.
    We will need to outwork Everton today (James take note of Stewy’s graft levels in protecting Tayls) and we might come away with something.

  11. Hi ever optimistic Boro fans
    First i have to say that Yak will score on Sunday!! it always bloody happens, But i find it amazing that Moyes thinks hes not working hard enough…he never does or ever has done so why should he change?? He is a goal scorer and that’s what he does best!! Did Fowler, Owen, Cole and er Bernie Slaven (sorry he is a hero) get a reputation for being workman like..no!
    As for the Downing debate…i find it a little strange but i am going to defend him. I have spent the last 3-4 years saying to my mates that he is very over rated, but he along with Arca has been our best by a mile this season(and goals), although what is going to happen to Jinky Johnson?
    Johnson is ripping up defences in the champ and being tipped as a future England winger..well done son, he’s a different type of winger to Downing, all most old school in style and he can go outside and in (Downing take note).
    The Watford experience should do him the world of good…remember Downing at Sunderland? it made him and ended with half a dozen teams wanting to buy him. but i fear that we will probably sell Jinky for £2m next month knowing us.
    Tactics? I don’t think we can complain about 4-5-1 away from home, i don’t think we have the players or mind set to play 4-4-2 away and beat teams , we look way too open (West Ham).
    Last of all hopefully we will be reading about a win at Goodison but I’d take a draw, I really think we can learn a lot from Moyes and Everton they are always around the top 8 and don’t really spend that much money,maybe 1-2 signings a year and they have a great team/work ethic….I am now off to put a 10 quid on Yak ha.
    And one last rant….What the hells happening with Huth? Is this guy Boros worst ever singing?? When is he fit?? will he ever be fit?? Chelsea sold him to us injured and he’s not been right since. I only hope he’s worth it, even more so as we now have Wheat and the Pog coming back.
    How is the Gate gonna keep them all happy? and does he have a Center half fetish?..who do you lot out there think will be first choice?? I would go with Woody (also Capt) and the Pog, I feel sorry for Wheater but he would be first choice back up as well as he’s playing its easy to forget just how well the Pog played last year…..a rock!!

  12. AV
    Glad to be back on your Blogs.
    I cannot even tempt the thought of Yakablue scoring today, such is my anger at what he robbed both our club and our fans of.
    He has no heart for a battle and is simply a tap-in merchant. Everton soon saw the light, because he was their 11 million quid, bench warmer.
    Well done to Keith Lamb for keeping a straight face when the transfer papers were signed.
    Whatever happens today, Teesside has a Premiership club and a magnificent future, because our Academy kids reign supreme and are all giving everything in every game.
    A little bit of luck will come our way, which is now a little overdue.

  13. What on earth is going on with Gareth and DGL? Surely he is not totally blind to the fact that DGL’s inclusion is tantamount to playing with 10 men.
    How Psychologically damaging is that to the players going out of the dressing room running onto the pitch knowing that they have a passenger in their midst.
    Worse still what does it tell the young players at the club and those sat on the bench? It also affects the optimism and support of the fans which in turn feeds back to the players creating ever increasing circles of inevitability of defeat.
    Tactics were discussed on here over the last few days prior to the game and the dangers of playing a barely fit Mido up front on his own (for me we played 4-4-1 as Lee cannot be seriously considered as a player) yet it took 72 minutes for the penny to drop with the bench.
    Surely Gareth isn’t that blind or naive, he must surely see what we see. Why on earth then does he continue with a well worn path to eternal disapointment with DGL? If for no other reason it is totally unfair on DGL himself.
    Surely only Directors signing players and picking the team happens at Chelsea?

  14. Put that defeat down to one word.SCHWARZER!!!!
    If he’s a goalkeeper then I’m a Zookeeper.First attack and were one down GREAT MORALE BOOSTER!!.
    I fear a long hard season

  15. We looked enterprising at times today but the lack of a quality frontman to partner Mido is really beginning to show.
    And I’m sorry, but Send-me-back just isn’t good enough. I know a lot of people have come out in support of him after he put in a couple of half decent performances recently but he just doesn’t make the grade. For a start, he must be carrying about two stone too much.
    At least Yak didn’t bag. I bet Moyes has been rummaging around his trouser pockets for the receipt for Yakubu. He’s looked awful on the three occasions I’ve seen him turn out for Everton now.
    The football was really good at time but we were sucker-punched. A session on finishing must be top of the order at training tomorrow.

  16. Phil ex warrenby- agreed, Schwarzer is total garbage. Lets get him out and Sorensen in at Crimbo.
    Apart from that, no finishing and no luck. Darn it.

  17. An exact repeat of the dismal performance at West Ham and, predictably, almost the same result.
    We’re easy to beat away from home – can’t score and wide open at the back if we push forward; can’t score and get penned back in our own half like we did in the first half at Spurs if we try to pack the midfield.
    For the same reasons we’ve drawn games at home that we should have won and ended up with closer wins in others when we should have romped away.
    Citeh away next. The style they are playing at present is set up to give us a tonking if we play this way again.
    Then it’s Chelski and ManUre.
    The 10 game test (where you are after 10 is a strong predictor of where you’ll finish) is almost upon us. I fear that this is a test we’ll get D+ ‘Must do better’ in!
    If Gate plays Lee next week – no matter how many forwards we have injured – then I’ll be sure he doesn’t have a clue what to do.

  18. Sadly yesterdays result was predictable, because Boro are predictable, Southgate is however not so.
    Wrong starting formation for me, leaving us far to open to a very strong and hard working Everton midfield.
    The defence is a shambles, and I don’t see much in the way of organisation by Woodgate, supposedly a great defender, my aunt nelly he is. At the moment he is purely average.
    Flapper Schwarzer, if you are going to come for the ball son, come for it with intent, don’t make a half hearted flap at it, knock your defenders out of the way. Watch some videos of Schmichael.
    Mido, well done son, the only one up front who had any idea, DGL, no more to be said I’m afriad. Stewy did well first half but we’d accepted defeat in the 2nd.
    No doubt this is another lesson learnt, “so we dust ourselves down” do we, we “take some positives from our first half performance” do we?
    And whilst we are doing that the rest of the premier league passes us by.
    Oh dear, oh dear!!

  19. Malc
    I was at the Hammers game too. I don’t call missing a hatful of chances and conceding 3 to their only 3 chances (eerily like what we did yesterday) anything other than dismal.
    There’s nothing clever about losing games you should have won or drawn – however bright your play seems.
    We’ll never progress whilst people are happy to get beaten 2 or 3 nil.

  20. Congrats to Bernie, Higgy and the guys for the win in the Sky/Prem League All Stars last night.
    It must have been great to win anyway for legends, fans and celebs but doubly so with the 2 hospices getting £50,000 each.
    Made up a little for the disappointment earlier in the day.

  21. My original premise was 451 but it is clear we have striking problems.
    1. Fitness. Mido is nearly fit, Aliadiere and Tuncay are not fit, Lee is not fit for purpose – a trip to trading standards is called for.
    2. The second striking problem is the word used in its other context. There are clear failings. The three clear chances of the first half fall to professional footballers. Doesnt matter if they are strikers, sweepers or keepers. They are paid sums of money that fans can only dream about.
    A couple should have been buried. You wont have chances falling to strikers all the time. We ask for midfielders to join in, get into the box, when they do so we expect them to make the trip worthwhile.
    At the back? poorly defended corner, no need to pick anyone out, all deserve a bollocking. Lescott had the freedom of the six yard area, it appears we have solved the problem of defending around the penalty spot by not marking up at all.
    Luckily I could turn over and watch the Irish (ps no personal insult ment but I give the Celtic nations all the support and encouragement they give England, cant be fairer than that)
    Where now? Mido will probably have aggravated his injury by the look of it. Boat is past it, Cat should take over. Rocky did his best. Lee will never make it.
    The confidence will start dripping away, we cannot shut up shop because with our current striker injuries we are not going to get much from upfront. That means midfield have to join the attack, we need to put away chances.
    A resurgent Citeh next followed by a wounded Chelsea and ManU about to spank somebody which asks the question any Hope? Bob and no spring to mind.
    But, knock in a couple of chances and things change quickly.

  22. AV – Do you think that Downing could do a Zenden and move accross one in the midfield?
    He lacks a yard of pace but is our best passer of a ball.
    Johnson could be recalled and played as an out and out LW.
    As Mido is our only recognised CF he can play up front on his own with support from Johnson, Downing, O’Neill.
    So a 4 -5- 1 becomes a 4-4-4 when attacking.
    2 holding midfielders to protect the defence.
    Just a thought that this might work until we have a fully fit squad to choose from.
    As asked above whats the news on Huth? as I have posted before Douglas Barder was on back on his feet quicker than Huth

  23. typo – should read 4 – 2 – 4 when attacking.
    AV – Whats the news on Huth?
    **AV writes: Boro’s £1m a game man is still injured but due to start running and light ball work “soon.”

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