Boro Must Take Advantage of Euro Hangover

BOLTON’S eye-opening result in Munich was a disaster for Boro. Not only did they get a creditable 2-2 draw against mighty Bayern but they did so with a spirited show of industry and unity of the kind that had helped them defy football gravity in recent years and which been markedly and almost fatally missing under Little Sammy.
The return to a those direct battling qualities – we all know how Nolan, Hunt, Davies play, just ask Poggi – were given a reward as Bolton weathered a storm then snatched a late equaliser for the second game running and that will have been a massive morale booster that makes Boro’s task in Sunday’s basement battle that much more difficult.


We laughed with a mixture of relief and Schadenfreude when relegation and dressing room split specialist Gary Megson was appointed and Bolton fans were staggered at what they saw as a suicidal move. The consensus was that they had confiormed themselves alongside Derby as one of the deadmen walking giving a statistically significant welcome leg-up to the rest of the half-dozen or so trapdoor dancers.
The gritty 1-1 draw at West Ham, again courtesy of a late leveller, was seen as a ‘dead cat bounce’ that would soon be negated by the true enormity of the ‘Megson factor’. It still might kick in and drag them down amid squabbling and crowd protests but that and the steely show at the awesome Allianz Arena may galvanise them enough to spark a brief upturn and that is bad news and bad timing for Boro.
On the plus side, Bolton must now battle a European hangover of the sort that has dogged many a team over recent years, not least Boro as we know only too well. Chelsea and Newcastle have both gone through recent seasons where midweek European games were inevitably followed with poor results and displays and even Manchester United saw the effect enough to prompt Fergie to demand easy home fixtures in teh aftermath as the very least the Premier League could do to help English teams in Europe.
It is not about being ‘tired’ as such, more about the impact the travelling time has on the ability of a team to prepare properly for a specific tactical challenge. Being in transit before the game eats into the training routine while flying back straight after the match then driving home in the early hours effectively writes off another day. It is a major drain on the delicate balance of mental and physical resources and no matter what Megson says about the six-pointer with Boro being “the big one” players who were buzzing with Euro-phoria against Bayern will feel the comedown to mundane normality against Boro.
The fans often suffer a hangover too… probably literally in the case of the 4,000 who made the trip to Bavaria. As we know getting back to the soulless amtosphere-lite of the bread and butter games straight after the emotional excesses of a midweek dream trip to one of the game’s giants can be a bit of chore and the crowds are often flat and uninspiring.
Boro must take advantage of that. After the unmistakable rocket they will have got from the booing last week there will have been much soul searching and hopefully a new resolve to make sure the jeers can be changed to cheers. That should have been aided by a few days unwinding at a light-hearted outdoor pursuits break where (injuries permitting) they have recharged their batteries mountain-biking and white-water rafting and doing touchy-feely exercises in trust and team-work and who knows, giggling and telling ghost stories after dark in a spooky dorm.
We must hope the bonding shows at Bolton and Boro a fully-fired up team show some unity of purpose, real determination and a willingness to battle for each other because unless they can match the home team’s physicallity early on they could be overwhelmed. If they can start at a high tempo and sustain those levels of commitment and endeavour throughout then Bolton’s demanding midweek match will start to take its toll on brains and bodies.
Boro may be more tailored to silky possession football but this is a game where more functional skills will be needed. They must be direct, powerful and robust but also mentally strong and totally committed and focussed. Defeat is unthinkable.

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24 thoughts on “Boro Must Take Advantage of Euro Hangover

  1. Without appearing to jump on any ‘I told you so bandwagon’ – I did predict an upturn in Bolton’s performance on this blog a few times.
    Afterall, a team that finished 7th last season can’t be that bad – especially since they ditched little Sam – who for whatever reason decided to throw big Sam’s baby of a footballing system out with the considerable gallons of bath water he no doubt left behind.
    Having said that I agree 100% with your judgement that a club returning from an european game should be there for the taking – So providing we don’t have wobbly mountain bike legs we should be able to have a decent go.
    Though, I’ll refrain from any score predictions after my poor delusional effort last week.

  2. If our back 4 stays strong against Bolton we have a chance but the central defenders have not played together week in week out.
    Wheater is in form and it might be Pogo next to him?
    Here is a look at the team that beat Bolton to the 2004 Carling Cup to compare against todays team or dream of a younger fit Zenden ,Juninho and Mendietta wearing Boro shirts.
    Mark Schwarzer -Aussie
    [still,in more ways than 1]
    DF 4 England Ugo Ehiogu
    DF 15 England Danny Mills
    DF 3 France Franck Queudrue
    DF 6 England Gareth Southgate
    MF 7 Netherlands George Boateng Booked after 23 minutes 23′
    MF 20 Brazil Doriva
    MF 10 Brazil Juninho
    MF 14 Spain Gaizka Mendieta
    MF 27 Netherlands Boudewijn Zenden
    FW 16 Cameroon Joseph-Désiré Job
    Up the Boro!

  3. Coming soon, an Elizabethan drama of the first order: THE RIVERSIDE CASTLE TRAGEDY in which the ghost of Graham Fordy can sometimes be heard cackling as he scrats around the stadium in early hours for bits of pies and left over beers!
    The script is being written even as Page decides whether or not to pay his builder…
    Robin Mitton
    NO PAY FOR WORKERS OF ALL NATIONS

  4. AV
    In your responses to John Powls you state that some of the players rested during Notlobs honourable draw at Bayern were solid and reliable.
    Fair point but it also highlihgts that the players who replaced them were also solid and reliable – look at who we have as back up, could they have done the same job?
    I agree with your other comment in that we can win the game, if we cant we are deep in relegation trouble. I have some news for you, we are deep in relegation trouble – I believe being one point above the bottom three with 8 points from twelve matches is not battling it out for a champions league place unless I have misread the situation.
    The other crucial issue is not whether we can or cant win the match but whether we WILL win it. We will have to win the physical battle first. They have shown they are up for it by their last two matches coming back to draw and playing some good football.
    Put simply if we dont get something out of the match then the consequences are dire. We could be looking at a couple of points gap from safety plus a poor goal difference worth another point.
    But like all fans I feel that we are about to turn a corner, just dont know what is around it.

  5. The game will be brutal. McCann is particularly hard, Davies is the most unpleasant player in the league and what Nolan lacks in mobility he makes up for in physicality.
    With Anelka and Diouf out our biggest concern should be being ‘kicked out’ of the game. We need Cattermole at his most ‘Middlesbro Macho’.
    I fancy Gary ONeil to win it for us, he is too quick and agile for their midfield and at 20/1 to score the first I’ll be investing £25.
    I sense a win on the horizon and a profit in my waters !!

  6. well this is it boys and girls,the big showdown with our relegation rivals bolton.we have had a good 8 days to prepare as well as a team building break in the lakes(no expense spared for our lads eh!).
    we should be chomping at the bit to show our true colours,bolton could be a little travel weary,we hope,and i’m sure it will be a tough competetive game.
    there can only be one outcome as far as we are concerned , any result other than a win will prove what we all fear(or already know)
    i am sure the manager and coaching staff have prepared the team in the correct way and that we shall see the fruits of their labours transposed on the pitch.
    BORO, YOUR PUBLIC AWAITS.

  7. Im sorry to say it but Boro and the Gate have no excuses this weekend..simple!!
    Some have said that its a game we must not lose, a bit negative i think, its a game we MUST win at all costs! Bolton have played in Europe, we have had 8 days off we also have couple of players back (Pogy/Huth)…its all set up for us to win…or is it?
    Bolton have looked a more than useful side in Megsons 3 games and certainatly look higher in confidence than the Boro boys.
    Also i word of caution is that Boro have played Everton, Spurs and Blackburn this season all of which have been involved in Europe and picked up a grand total of 1 point (a good point that we can build on according to some ,ha).
    Some come Boro lets have a reea go tomorrorw get straight at um with some high tempo stuff!! And hopefully we will be writing about a great win on Monday morning.

  8. Just listening to Derby v West Ham. The ‘Ammers have 12 first team players with sick notes and on their bench? Lljungberg and Camara. That is a measure of our problems, how thin we are up front.
    Still Sunday is another match and whilst it is difficult a chance to make some headway.
    Hopeful but not expectant.

  9. Downing says he may be driven out by the Boro boo boys, reports BBC SPORT.
    WHAT A SHAM. Driven out ? More like BAILING OUT.
    This is the problem for me.
    Downing needs to be talking about fighting to survive and how he will prove people wrong by coming back even stronger than ever before. He should be talking about how the team is united in the desire to prove us all wrong.
    We need to hear these things and we need to believe in them 100% if we are to avoid relegation. End of story.
    He should be called into the office about these comments and he should be told that wherever his future lies that his one and only priority for the time being is to help stop us going down.
    His comments help no one and smack only of a spoilt child and a player who thinks he’s bigger than the club and better than he is. Downing IS good, but he’s NOT THAT good.
    I don’t think it’s fair to say that he’s been driven out by the fans, especially now when people really are fearing what’s to come.
    I know that he gets stick but then I think that many other players do as well and that not everyone reacts in this way. Many players simply role their sleeves back up, got back to work and go that extra mile in training for their own pride and for their team mates, manager and coach’s.
    When he’s on form he’s a key key player and so his head needs to be HERE and not thinking about giving out coded come and get me interviews.
    Nothing gets to me more than this. I hate this kind of attitude with a passion.
    I have absolutely no problem at all with players leaving because they think that they can better themslves elsewhere. But I passionately believe that there is a time and a place for this and that this is most certainly not the time or the place.
    In my opinion he should have come out and said that the boo boys don’t help anyone and that he’d prove his doubters all wrong. He should have called for fans to be united and to support the team and he should have kept his future intensions to himself.
    We need rallying cries from EVERY corner of the club and we need to show a totally united front in our determination to drag us kicking and screaming out of the relegation myre.
    We need a win tomorrow and we need to get to saftey a.s.a.p. Then we can see who wants to stay and who wants to go.
    We give the ” home grown lads ” their shot and so it’s only fair that they stick around and repay this debt before they move on to new pastures and do all they can whilst they are still here.
    When they’ve done this if they want to go then they will have my blessing.
    TB

  10. AV,
    If Boro are to overcome Bolton, they cannot afford to take anything like the perspective your article illuminates.
    No Premiership side can afford to go into a game with an attitude based on the hope that the opposition have an “off day” for whatever reason -“European jetlag” included.
    If they do, they increase their chances of losing!
    I’m afraid that’s entirely the wrong focus ahead of a match!
    They must focus on their own game, their own belief in their own abilities and each to their own 100% commitment to the win!- Irrespective of the opposition.
    Anything short of that won’t do!
    If they think, even for a second, that Bolton may be suffering a bit through travel and/or injuries, they’ll mentally adjust for it and hold something back.
    We cannot afford that kind of attitude.
    We, the supporters, require them to show Bolton the utmost respect and we should expect that Bolton will come out of the blocks playing like they’re potential Champions of Europe.
    And we’d better be prepared to at least match them in attitude. Otherwise, the game’s lost before it’s started!
    It may be OK for supporters to recognise these possibilities, but if this is translated into player attitude, we’ll be undone.
    Let’s hope Southgate can provide the appropriate focus and instil confidence and belief and not have to rely on a “weakened” opposition.

  11. will somebody tell gareth that we have shortage of class midfielders and there is one rotting in the reserves!!! get mendieta on goddamit!!!! I SHOULD BE THE GAFFER!!!

  12. Dear Tonyblackandwhite,
    I am sure Downing will be sleeping easy now that he knows he has your blessing if he wants to leave.
    Seriously though you say “we gave local lads a shot …. and it’s only right that they repay their DEBT”
    What sanctimonious gibberish, and what a laugh you giving him lessons in discretion and diplomacy!
    He hasn’t been one ounce of trouble since he first played for the Boro, he’s been a great for Middlesbrough FC in every sense.
    The Boro fans have never been fair to players who come through the ranks. if you come from Pally Park, Brambles Farm, South Bank …. you are expected to be grateful for the privelige of playing for the Boro.
    If you are a greedy and mercenary like Hasslebaink, Viduka, Boskic, Zeige, Zenden the average Boro fan kisses their butts so much that their lips are chapped !!!! (Anthony don’t edit this).
    Hasn’t it dawned on you that in that last few years we have given a fabulous living to Doriva, Karembeu and that phoney Dutch full back from Barcelona ?? And the best you can do is give Downing a hard time and question his commitment and integrity. If anyone could justify the saying ‘tats’ to the Boro it’s Stewart Downing.
    If Downing goes, we will put young Johnson in his place and he’ll probably do well, he looks a good player. But the minute Johnson hits a poor run of form the same army of windbags will start saying, “he’s not tough enough”, “he’s a lightweight” , “he’s not passionate enough”
    These are the same ‘fans’ who were begging for us to shovel more money into Zenden, Boatang, Viduka’s, Hasslebainks,Townsend, Schwarzer’s pockets so that they would stay.
    Stewart Downing cares more about the Boro than all of those players put together.
    Actually I wouldn’t mind if he leaves I’d be pleased for him – I like to see Boro Boys do well.
    There will be a queue of clubs wanting to sign him and all of them above the Boro in the league.

  13. Score Draw,
    whether you think I’m sanctimoniously talking utter rubbish or not doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Now is not the time for these kinds of comments.
    As a product of the academy where the club spent a great deal of time and money developing his talent, my opinion is that players who come through this system owe a greater debt to the club than players bought in from other clubs.
    You may see it differently and you’re perfectly entitled to that view.
    We have massive games coming up, especially today, and we need the points desperatley and so we don’t need these kinds of distractions.
    Stewy has been all the things you rightly say and I merely point out that with the current state of affairs that his comments are ill timed and that they do not show the steely determination and fight that is now required for us to stay up.
    Todays game is going to be a battle of who wants it more and for me his comments show that we are not ready / not up for it as a unit.
    Now is a time for unity from all quarters of the club, especially from the players, and it’s time for GS to take complete control of the situation like he used to do as club captain and ensure that every single player is on message and focused only on winning.
    Dis-unity only serves to give the opposition the upper hand by making it seems as if the players have lost belief and are coming to accept the inevitable. It also has a negative effect inside our own dressing room.
    The stronger the message that every single player gives out and the more they make everyone know that the team are not going to lay down and die for anyone.
    That’s how I see it anyway.
    Let’s just get a win today and have something positive to talk about for a change.
    4 points out of 6 would be a great, great platform to build upon and it would do us all a power of good.
    TB

  14. I see downing is the latest player to have a go at slagging off the fans, maybe if he spent less time djing and putting the effort in then he would have a case to answer for.
    The PR coming out of the club is terrible. Players and manager need to concentrate on doing it on the pitch. We are in a battle and the players have to grind out results and work hard. We will not stay up by passing the ball around in midfield all day. I
    t is time the players stopped blaming our position on the fans and take a look at themselves. Until they do that we will be lucky to stay up.
    We have to win at bolton, need at least 4 points from next 4 games. If we faith to win any of them games then it is going to be an uphill struggle.
    If that happens then if i was southgate then come xmas i would seriously consider my position if i have the clubs best interests at heart. Maybe it is too big a job to take on with no experience.

  15. Richard
    It is not AV’s article that should worry you, it is the fact Gate articulated the hangover argument himself. That will get to the players far more than any old blog thread, they have just spent two days away with the coaching staff!
    Whatever, a good result please to cheer us up before the international break.
    Interesting that according to BBC the News of the World has now come up with the ‘Gate has two games left’ story that ran in the People two weeks ago. Must be a rolling two weeks until we either pull up or drop down.
    Also havent noticed Jewell rushing back to Wigan despite Whelan putting out a public come home message.

  16. well, we all waited for this must win match, against a team that was there for the taking. And we got the same, a display lacking in all the important areas.
    We were on top from half way through the second half and didnt make one decent chance. The Downing debate will rage on, the whole of the section around me booed his every touch. He shows all the signs of a player that hasnt anything left to give the club,
    He has always thought himself a big player, but simply doesnt step up when its needed. We need rid of Downing now so that we can start to play all over the field, instead of everything going down the left if its possible.
    Cash in now Southgate and lets have players that want to play for the club. The commitment from young and o’neil is 100% more than that of Downing. Let him go and lift the spirit of the fans.
    Failure to do so will only futher reduce the crowds, and serve to maintain the damp atmosphere that is even now affecting our away days. at least we have a week off next week.
    **AV writes: I made it two really good chances in the second half – one of them for Downing, who I thought played well enough in the kind of physical game that is not supposed to suit his style.

  17. Tony black,
    Score draw is right and we all should get behind Downing, he is not a robot he is a human being but the booing might have kicked him into gear a bit?
    Adam Johnson and Downing can play together in the same team folks even if Johnson is left out of the first 11 he should be at least on the bench before Dong Gook.
    And Yes ,Viduka was a greedy lazy bloke for a lot of the time but I would like to see him up front for us still instead of Dong Gookster.
    We need to get some points Quick as we are not moving up the table.

  18. The US President Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy. The US President Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln. And so forth, you can look up the rest.
    The most overrated player in the history of the Premiership was a Boro player named Keith O’Neill. He worked really hard, and was a good lad, but he had empty space underneath his hair.
    Now, the most overrated player in the Premiership is a Boro player named Gary O’Neil. He works hard, and is a good lad, but he has empty space underneath his hair.
    Since his fee is based on appearances, if he is benched for the rest of the season, Gibbo could save enough to buy a real Premiership player.
    **AV writes: You may well be right about Keith O’Neill but you are are wrong about Gary O’Neil. He is a fantastic player and far, far more than just a workhorse.

  19. PPS Adam Johnson had a MOTM performance for the top club in the Championship. I’d be happy to see him starting for Boro instead of Downing.

  20. Just a quick one!!
    Yes same old,same old….a point well won etc!!
    Though i have a question if the point against Spurs was a “good platform” and the point against Bolton was a “Battling performance and a good point”…then when as a paying Boro fan who goes to 90% of games should i expect to play a team we should be beating??, if we are happy to get 2 points from 2 games against teams in the bottom 3 (not including games against Wigan/Sunderland) i would love to know what games we are expecting to win?
    Over to you Gareth or anyone else who can help.

  21. Having watched MOTD I just don’t see where the quality or the goals are going to come from.
    I know that some people won’t like to hear this but I’m sure Mendieta would bring some much needed quality into the midfield, or at the very least it would be wise to keep him on the bench and give him another chance at some point. It’s not as if we have any better options at the moment.
    I realise that he isn’t part of GS long term plans but he is costing us a small fortune and I’m sure that his talent would shine again given half a chance, or that it would come out at least by him being in the shop window if nothing else.
    I’ve always rated Schwarzer and think that he’s been a good solid keeper over the years, and quite excellent at times, but he does seem rooted to the spot of late and quite restricted in his movement when it does eventually come.
    Today he seemed very Elvis 77 esque.
    I don’t know what the answer is to be honest. SG seems intent on sticking to his guns with regards GS and Coops but that does leave us with the fact that the team seems lacking in overall quality, very flat, demoralised, lacking in ideas and just not with it at all.
    GS says that the team bonding worked well and that the players took aspects of it onto the pitch today. I have to say that this seems a rather strange thing to say about a quick bonding session in the lakes and that from what I saw on the TV that I didn’t see any of this. I realise that the TV can give you a warped view of what actually happened, but it all looked very lacklustre to me.
    At the moment I doubt if we’d be anything other than a mid table team in the Championship.
    The only plus point and it is a big one is that there are a group of teams above us on the same points.
    It will soon dawn on Boro fans that the ONLY way that GS and Coops will go is if they are FORCED to go by a mass demonstration from fans at games.
    People in here will no doubt curse me for saying that but we will have to face the harsh facts at some point. Unless the results improve quickly we are in serious, serious trouble, that we may not be able to recover from because sooner or later we simply won’t be able to rely on other teams being as bad as we are at the moment.
    If we can’t beat teams like Bolton, Sunderland or Wigan who then can we beat?
    Reading and Derby soon and these simply MUST be 6 points from 6 or else it’s goodnight Vienna and will the last one out turn the lights off.
    I AM TRYING NOT TO BE SUCH A PESAMITIC DOOM MERCHANT I REALLY AM, but I just can’t see any way to stop the rot any time soom – SORRY.
    Huth, Pogatetz, Downing, Mido, Boeteng, and Woodgate won’t be sticking around should we get relegated. Just something to think about. Getting out of the Championship is tough – real tough.
    The icing on the cake was to have to then see that smug, arrogant, fool Shearer say he had absolutely nothing to say about the game and then to see his idiotic smiling face away. What a prize chump that guy is and what I wouldn’t give to smack him one.
    SOUTHGATE – OUT
    COOPS – OUT
    MOST OF THE BACKROOM STAFF – OUT
    A.S.A.P.
    THERE’S NO OTHER WAY.
    TB
    VERY DEPRESSED….

  22. Ken – Im sorry I couldn’t follow the Lincoln-Kennedy- ONeil thread.
    Gary ONeil is a superb player.
    Now if you want to see an overated player – just look at Zat Knight from Villa. Poor touch, indisciplined, slow, not very clever. Complete mystery how he ever became a professional footballer. He’s so bad its changed my view on Martin ONeil. What on earth can he seem in him ?
    I didn’t see the game – was it my imagination or did Mark Schwarzer not have a save to do – hence the clean sheet ?

  23. AV: Ottmar Hitzfeld? You mean the current manager of Bayern Munich, twice World Coach of the Year, one of only two Managers to win the European Cup/Champions League with two different clubs, the guy with 16 major trophies in the bank, who transformed a Borussia Dortmund side from a Boro-esque position to Champions of Europe?
    You mean this is the guy – arguably the most successful manager the world has ever seen – who was deemed not suitable for an interview, and not rated as having even the same managerial potential as Gareth Southgate?
    Now here was a guy who could have taken us to the next level and beyond, who could have capitalised on the potential of Eindhoven, and who could have filled the stadium with optimistic legions of the red and white…
    If ever there was an illustration of the tragedy of ‘small-time’ insular thinking this has to be it – what an opportunity we’ve lost for Gareth and others to learn from – I’m gutted and gobsmacked

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