Monthly Archives: October 2007

Decline The Billionaires’ Indecent Proposals

SOME BORO fans are getting jittery as the global carve up of the Premiership continues apace and their cash strapped local club are left behind. American club owners were in town for the NFL Wembley beano this weekend and discussing their exciting plans for the future of the Premiership and it was a party to which Boro weren’t invited.
As foreign billionaires slice up the TV rights cash cow amid vows to buy Ronaldinho, Messi and Jermaine Defoe, some anxious Teessiders look on with jealously and fear. Jealousy at the thought of the £50m splash that seems to be the post-takeover norm for even a middle-ranked club – and fear that the stakes on the Premiership table will rise beyond Boro’s budget and cast us into the Championship abyss.
Now many are even starting to mutter the ultimate heresy and are talking about cashing in local hero Steve Gibson for a foreign billionaire businessman that can help them “competeâ€? in a league now almost entirely shaped by spending.

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Signs Of Hope In United Mauling

BORO were steamrollered by a rampant Manchester United at Old Trafford and on paper the scoreline will have confirmed all the dark fears of the growing legion of jittery supporters in a pre-panic state of anxiety. But while Boro leaked four goals to last week’s two against Chelsea they were not twice as bad. Far from it.
Boro looked far more spirited, resolute and efficient as a team. They defended with dogged determination against a team chasing a century old net-busting record and for an hour looked to have their measure; they held their shape and discipline well and looked focused throughout; they got forward with zest and at times ran United ragged; a string of key players put in excellent displays that bode well for the future; and there were spells of impressive fluid interplay, crisp passing and incisive movement . It sounds daft but I came away from a four goal defeat – a fifth reverse in succession – lifted and far more confident that this team can still gel and flourish, and I’m sure I am not the only one.
But of course, they still lost, are still in a precarious position and time is pressing. Troubled Boro now go into a run of four games that will shape the season and will need to apply the best bits of the United game over the full 90 in every one of those and beyond. Some observations:

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Boro Stutter To The Ten Game Mark

GOING down? Far from certain. But vulnerable? Of that there can be no doubt. Gareth Southgate’s stuttering side have equalled Boro’s worst ever start to a Premiership campaign to prompt widespread relegation fears, mutterings about the manager and, right or wrong, even the first stirrings of audible protest against the main man.
There has been much talk of the “ten game test” on this blog and elsewhere. Well it is time to apply it – and the results are deeply worrying. Boro’s current tally of eight points after ten games equals the low water mark set by Steve McClaren back in 2003-04 as the worst opening in 13 Premiership seasons. Incredibly, even in the two relegation seasons Boro had more points in the bag at this stage.

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Ton Up Taylor Comes Of Age

THEY GROW up so fast these days don’t they? If fast maturing left-back Andrew Taylor plays against Chelsea – and let’s be honest if he doesn’t who will? – he will clock up a quickfire ton of first team appearances. That’s not bad going for a lad most still regard as a new boy.
And it has been an impressive first ton too. While the first 20 or so were ticked off on loan at Bradford, the Hartlepool-born defender has played the bulk of those games in the Premiership but can also boast outings in the FA Cup and UEFA Cup semi-finals, high-water marks that most seasoned professionals can only dream of. On top of that there have been appearances for England at every level from Under-16s upwards while at Boro. Great things beckon.

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Talking Boro….

SOME of Teesside’s finest football minds from a broad range of professional perspectives have been harnessed to bring you an incisive, no-holds-barred analysis of Boro’s season so far. That’s what it says here anyway!
With ten games under our belts the international break seems a perfect point to assess the pros and cons of what has been a stuttering start. To that end the Gazette assembled a Question Time style “Talking Boro” panel to tackle the big issues of the season so far – injuries, squad depth, failure to score, leaking goals, falling crowds – and had a civilised, productive and provocative two hour chin wag over a pannini or two at Sassaris.
Here’s the first instalment. And here’s the second. And another one. And one more. Oh, go on then…. See what you think. Any questions for the next one?

Woody’s Annual “Don’t Panic” Message

WOODY’S MESSAGE to Teesside: Don’t Panic!
After a nightmare start to the season that has left Boro dangling just above the drop zone, frustrated fans may gnash and wail at such advice. The Manchester mauling has sparked an outbreak of fear and loathing while from Saltburn to Sedgefield tin hats are being donned for a long, hard winter of trench warfare. During a morale-sapping bleak slide down the table the last thing fans want to read is banal platitudes about “we’ll get it rightâ€?, “working hard in trainingâ€? and “there are no more excuses’.

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City Slump Deepens Boro Woe

A DISAPPONTING result at rampant Man City but it was to be expected. Injury crisis. Away day hoodoo. Sloppy at the back. Dropping one of the better players so far this season for one that lacked match fitness. Toothless up front. Slack in midfield. “Bad body language.” Lack of cover in some key areas leaving Boro permanently just two or three injuries away from a crisis. Cheslea and Man United coming up…..

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Blatter v Brussels Comes To The Beeb

EUROPEAN football’s sinister Mr Big Sepp Blatter will leave his Bond villain style Swiss mountain lair to appear on Football Focus on Saturday where, possibly stroking a white cat, he will lecture Ray Stubbs about the intricacies of continental power politics.
Ostensibly Blatter is there to discuss the findings in a BBC commisioned survey into the feelings of English supporters on some of the topical issues in the game, and specifically to push his latest bandwagon, a restoration of a quota system for foreign players in the game.
In fact he is launching what passes for a ‘charm’ offensive in the cynical and murky Machavelian world of the soccer suits. He is networking and recruiting political allies as he prepares for a crunch European fixture as UEFA goes head-to-head with Brussels.

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Boro Must Prepare A Case For The Defence

BORO must quickly prepare a case for the defence if they are to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle. Boro have stuttered through a generously gentle opening set of fixtures that were scripted to set up a campaign fought in the top half to find themselves uncomfortably close to the drop zone – and now the fixtures take on a far more intimidating complexion.
After the tough trip to Everton, Boro must go to Manchester for clashes with revitalised City and awesome United either side of a home encounter with Chelsea and unless they pick up some bonus points from that sticky sequence the scene will be set for an uncomfortable autumn.

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Champions Boro Lift The Silverware

ALISTAIR Griffin! Sign him on! He can’t do any worse than Dong Goal Less. He lacks the pace and first touch maybe but he has showed he can handle the physical stuff and carpet burns and that he can slot the goals away when the pressure is on.
Griffin got the winner and earned forgiveness for ‘Hallellujah’ as mighty Boro lifted the first silverware of the season – and some of the glum from Goodison – with a spirited display in a 3-1 victory over West Ham in the Premier League All Stars final. Yes it is contrived celebocentric Murdoch circus, Sky Sports flimsy Americana with a clunky pro-am format and incongruous powerplay and sin bin concepts borrowed from ice-hockey but blimey, it was entertaining!

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