Boro Show Teesside Steel

EMANUEL Pogatetz came on as a substitute just before the half hour of the goalless draw at Bolton and almost immediately crunched into the ribs of Danny Guthrie as they chased a ball running out of play then barely a minute later Boro’s Terminator wiped out his old sparring partner Kevin Davies with a sliding tackle and left the striker in a heap.
The ref called the Alpine hardman over – eventually – and sensibly dished out a stern lecture accompanied by the international sign language palm down gesture for ‘calm down’. Two minutes later Pogatetz touched the ball for the first time.
It was a perfect game for the imposing Austrian to return to action ahead of schedule to a no-quarters-asked encounter in which battling Boro matched the robust challenge of possibly the most physical and direct side in the league. It wasn’t one for the purists but it was a game in which Boro stood up to be counted in the kind of scrap in which they are usually muscled out.


A point away from home is always a good one, even when it could be argued that cautious Bolton were there for the taking. The first clean sheet on the road all season was a handy bonus too for a side that has looked all too porous in recent weeks. But the real plus from the day was the determined, steely show by the entire team in the face of a resurgent Bolton side that looked far from fired from their midweek UEFA Cup exertions in Munich and were on a high of sorts having been inspired by ‘the Megson effect’.
Boro were under the cosh for long spells but dug in and battled and rode their luck at times and while it wasn’t always silky or cultured it was effective. David Wheater was immense in the opening spell, a one man wall that blocked and tackled and barged Bolton men aside, closing down crosses, hooking away dangerous balls into the box and picking up a ridiculous yellow card for what was the best tackle in the game.
Lee Cattermole ran his bollocks off for a second successive game, closing down all over the middle third, flying into tackles, pushing, pulling and getting into people’s faces in uncompromising fashion… George Boateng was back to his best, especially in the second half as crunched into Bolton, unsettling their midfield and breaking up any attempt at a passing game and also setting up arguably Boro’s best chance of the game with a delightful slotted pass into the box… Chris Riggott put some recent wobbles behind him to make some vital interceptions and headers (although a misplaced one gifted Davies a glorious chance just before the break)… boo-boy Stewy Downing put a difficult week of barracking and transfer whispers behind him to work hard, tackle back and show his commitment in exactly the kind of game his critics say he usually disappears in. He even resisted the chance to pull a Cruyff turn in the box and showed he had learned his lesson with an agricultural clearance.
Even much maligned Mark Schwarzer looked solid. It would be easy to say he was never really tested – Speeds free-kick curled into the side netting, Davies blazed over and a few free-kicks fired straight him aside he never had a save to make as such – but when he was needed he was there. He came out to collect balls, barging people out of the way, he came racing off his line to put in a sliding tackle on the edge of the box after a underhit Poggi backpass almost played McCann in, then at the death he reacted well to save a close range Campo header.
It was chaos at times, not least in a frantic final backs-against-the-wall ten minutes when at times it was Keystone Cops defending and bodies got in each others’ way, but the industry and commitment never dropped throughout. And this in the kind of game where Boro in the past have proved fragile… think back to last year’s trips to Watford, Manchester City and Sheffield United when they wilted in the face of no-frills route one assault.
That is something to build on. Boro have not turned the corner, indeed, the indicator is not even on yet – but they have showed that they know which direction they must take. To get out of the hole we have found ourselves there will be a need for naked workrate and physicality as much as finesse over the next few week. Boro must stop being a soft touch if they are to claw themselves away from the dangerzone and push on.

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78 thoughts on “Boro Show Teesside Steel

  1. Ken, you are the only Boro fan to dislike O’Neil.He is doing a great gob in Midfield . He should be skipper on merit!
    Bring back A Johnson from Watford NOW!

  2. I like Southgate but suspect he doesn’t have the confidence to spend the money he as been allocated.
    He made a big fuss about McClaren not focusing on the Boro’s needs while he was angling for the England job. He criticised his poor planning in the transfer market – yet his own attempts to secure replacements have been marked with hesitation and fear.
    He’s been very successful securing some high quality players like Arca, Young and O’Neil but strangely cautious about Goalscorers and Goalkeepers.
    Established goalscorers in particular are hard to secure, so if you are a Boro manager you have to take risk and go for someone who is not yet established or pay over the odds. Either way you need to be decisive.
    Regarding Lee, Tuncay, Mido, Aliadiere I sense an element of caution and fear in their recruitment. He’s frightened of getting another Ricketts, Boksic.
    I think he will act more confidently in the transfer market now that it is clear to everyone he must secure a Goalscorer i.e. hes being forced into it.
    I’d go for Bent at Spurs – he’s not my ‘cup of tea’ I prefer the more graceful, ‘slick’ goalscorers – but I think he would work well for the Boro.
    Regarding the Goalkeeping situation Gareth needs to be hauled over the coals. We are in position where we rely on a discontented, less than convincing 36 year old. The situation is the sole responsibility of Gareth Southgate.
    He should take some comfort from the fact that replacing him is the easiest and most riskless of decisions because he is the worst goalkeeper in the club and any number of goalkeepers from the SPL or Championship would be a vast improvement.
    The recent comments describing Schwarzers efforts as “dominating his box” are very worrying. Who is he trying to kid ? He saunters across the box (the slowest feet I have ever seen in prof football).
    Now that Barron has gone hopefully we won’t have to put up with the posturing choregraphed halftime exhibitions on how to catch a floated ball. Gareth – if you find it hard to ‘get shot of him’ – just remember:
    (i) He can’t wait to leave.
    (ii) He’s had 10 years of fabulous wages.
    (iii) Our defence will improve immediately.
    I promised to ‘lay off’ Schwarzer but I didn’t anticipate Gareth trying to persuade us that he’s a good goalkeeper.
    No more ‘flannel’ Gareth – just replace him or he’ll be your downfall.

  3. tonyblack,
    great blog really hits home and i truly agree that the fans voice has been muted through the media of late
    .
    Critisism of SG i feel is unfair tho as u can see what he has helped build over the years. The acadamy, the stadium top class training facilities to sugest but a few.
    We as fans are never going to know what happens behind the scenes and this i feel is frustratiing the fans because we get mixed stories and spin from GS, KL and SG every other day it seams.
    Without SG this club wouldnt exist let alone be in the premiership. I believe we have got the best platform to build on outside the top 4 but its using this platform to get the fans back onside and give a clear vision of what we are trying to achieve.
    Middlesbrough FC have never had a style of football over the years so lets start by setting a plan for how we want to play and buying players and nurturing players into this style so that we are clear on our ambition.
    Gs says he wants attack minded football but then SG says we cant compete so why try to play that way in the 1st place? SG needs to back GS in january and back him big. There are players out there and they will come because they are interested in one thing £££ and we have all seen it over the years.

  4. just been watching some of Dong gook Lee’s goals before he joined the Boro on youtube.com and alright half of them are against midget unorganised defences and poor goal keepers but there are a lot of 20yard volleys and drives from all over going in top corners.
    He needs putting in the reserves to get some goals and confidence back maybe?
    Can’t we loan him out to Watford….
    **AV writes: Maybe we can do a swap deal for that young left winger they have there?

  5. Gareth Southgates choice of striker in the summer was poor – hope we dont get more of the same come Jan.
    Bent or Defoe have points to prove but they will want a wagon full of bullion for their trouble. I bet if the lazy Yak was still here he would have scored some goals though.
    Goalscorers cost money and I’m not sure if we can afford it.
    One things for sure , Viduka and Yakubu have not been replaced.

  6. Mark j dont talk rubbish and thinking that your booing and the rest of your boo boys had anything to do with the display. Ive said before booing inspires no one

  7. Quote: “He’s frightened of getting another Ricketts or Boksic”.
    It’s ridiculous to equate those two. While at Boro, Boksic had the highest scoring percentage of any striker in the Premiership. He rarely missed chances. The big problem was that when he was at Boro, we were creating virtually no chances at all.
    But back to 2007, people seem to clearly like O’Neil, as they are coming up with irrelevant excuses for him.
    “Remember he is not a striker”. But if so, ** then he should not shoot instead of passing the ball to Tuncay or Aliadiere **
    People are talking about Spurs, but he had a great opportunity against Bolton where he could have made an easy pass to strikers in good positions, yet he tried to play at being Ronaldo and get past several defenders, but instead just managed to bog things down and lose the ball. In fact, this is exactly what Medieta did that caused him to be benched permanently.

  8. Gary O’Neill is a quality player who will make a first class captain. A born leader, experienced captain, well respected by the players and fans at Pompey, wears his heart on his sleave, leads from the front.
    The fact that he didn’t pass to A,B or C when he should have is a ‘barrel scraper’ of an argument; funny in its flimsiness. ‘The wisdom of the fool is such that he alone is sane’.

  9. In talking about individual players we musnt lose sight of the fact it is a team game and the reason for where we are in the table is collective. The current players and coaching staff have to get us out of the current pickle.
    I had a quick look at the current table and the one from two matches ago. You can clearly see that clubs from Reading down are now being cast adrift.
    Of those in the bottom section, Bolton and Spurs look to be starting to move, Wigan are in freefall, Derby arent worth worrying about (the fans dont know where their next points will come from but I have a shrewd hunch). The rest are basically holding position.
    So what will we get from the next three matches. I would be happy with four points but Villa – difficult to beat at the moment, away from home tend to draw, have real pace and will be very organised. A point wouldnt be a bad result
    Reading away – difficult to see us getting anything, very hard working and play some decent football. A point would be a good result.
    Arsenal at home – beyond us.
    That is not a cheery prospect but all the club can do is have a go. Good to see Mido back in training after his break. Arca looks to be closer to a return. What is needed is a flash of brilliance, a stroke of luck, to get in front and the other team to chase the game.
    Only time will tell if we are up to it or whether our slither down the slope that started in Dec 2004 will end with us dropping off the cliff.

  10. Mark 76,
    read some of my previous posts on booing and you will find I am against it during the match as it gives the opposition a physcological edge. I went as far as calling it suicide!
    My point was the action [ booing] got a reaction [ the players performance against Bolton]. But the thing is Southgate should be able to inspire performances anyway
    Pre match at Bolton he could use the booing at the previous game as motivation to the players to go out and prove that part of the crowd wrong.
    Also Mark 76, I do not operate a faction of boo boys towards my own team -Boro – and in fact have never booed the Boro although I have seen some woeful performances – just so you are not getting my stand point confused okay.

  11. Ken, interesting info about Boksic -‘Boksic had the highest scoring percentage of any striker in the Premiership’ and he would have scored more if we created more chances.
    He certainly was good one on one but that hardly appened too often due to his Torres like pace? I understand what you are saying though.
    Your comment-‘I still think that the biggest impediment to MFC this season is Gary O’Neil.’ going on to say he shot and missed when he should have passed as he is not a striker –
    Most of the team have missed numerous opportunities this season yet have not grafted as hard as O’Neil [tackles, possession ,passes made] Therefore shouldn’t you be saying most of the team is the biggest impediment to MFC.
    We all like stylish attacking midfielders who score goals but versatile understated midfielders are not irrelevant.
    Have you seen Claude Makelele?
    Should we give Mendieta a chance from the bench in the second half? If he is partnered with someone like Cattermole or a fit Boateng to give him the freedom to do what he did against Man U on Saturday, October 29th 2005
    Okay everyone before you all go jumping down my throat I know it was 2 years ago ,I am just looking for an option for the last 30 minutes of matches were we usually run out of ideas.
    Other substitutions have made little impact and we are struggling in the last half an hour even at home.The last 3 games are proof enough ,its been the case all season.
    **AV writes: The Mendieta option is a non-starter. The club are against it come hell or high water. Even if there was a coach crash wiping out half the team he wouldn’t make the bench. Me, you and lambie would play first.

  12. The argument we’re having about Mendy – and I’m absolutely in the “not on your nelly” camp – boils down to the fact that the squad is woefully thin.
    The bench we’ve had to put out in recent times, due to injuries, has been a joke. And it won’t get any better with the amount of yellow cards we’re stacking up. We need to buy 3 or 4 quality players come January.
    In the meantime, we absolutely MUST bring back Jinky from Watford. I can’t believe we haven’t recalled him already. When’s he due back, AV? Any inside info on this from Boro?
    **AV writes|: We ask every week. Boro are constantly monitoring his progress and are delighted with the way things are going at Watford. They were not able to recall him for the first 28 days but can now. As it stands they are “keeping their options open” on the question.

  13. Ignorant
    No one is going to jump down your throat about the Mendi comment.
    Like many I have always posted Mendi had his best games in a midfield 5 (as does Rocky) and that day we played 352. They were up against a midfield four of Fletcher, Smith, Scholes, Park and passed United to death.
    Between then and now two years have passed, he has suffered injuries and in the outings I have seen has cut the mustard.
    I have nothing against Mendi, I just dont think he could cope physically. JFH played in that match and look how quickly his performances have slipped. Others who have gone backwards from the first team squad are Ugo, Gate, Parlour. Even Boat is showing signs of wear and tear.

  14. Gate is reading this blog.
    He has decided via The Gazette to let me and anyone else who dares to suggest a Mendi return know where he stands on the matter.
    Simple, Mendi is a definite non-starter in the squad, team, even in Teesside. He’s a goner.
    So debate over chaps, shame.

  15. Beeline, are you going down the personal route or financial? Could it be that if a player plays ‘x’ amount of games for a club then that club has to pay them an extra ‘y’ amount of cash? It could explain why a player doesn’t appear on the bench of a club that is hardly blessed with strength in depth. Just a thought…

  16. I wonder if the equally if not more experienced Mendietta has a few ideas about an attacking football style that differ from Southgate’s and Cooper’s and Lamb’s.
    Maybe it is because Southgate[Crystal Palace, Aston Villa] feels undermined by Mendi [champions league final twice with Valencia,48million euro move to Lazio, Barcelona] who knows about going forward in the final 3rd.
    We will never know what goes on as Mendi is professional as he says ‘I believe that I am still able to play for Boro. I aspire to be in the starting 11 and the season is long.’
    The day Mendietta signed for the Boro was great as he was my favourite Spanish midfielder and I have seen some great stuff from him in a Boro shirt before his exile and this is why I question the Great one’s who run the club so well.
    Unless of course Juninho2 is a done deal on Jan the first .
    I think we are already short on midfielders nevermind with our injury record and yellow cards adding up for Cattermole Boat and Rocky….

  17. Mendi isn’t playing because GS thinks he’s past it, he’s the boss, seems fair enough to me. If he started making decisions based on what we post then I think I’d join Diablo Derek and become an arm chair Man Utd ‘fan’.
    GS wants him out because he gets paid a shed load of money, Mendi won’t go because no one else is daft enough to pay him a bucket full let alone a shed load. He was a great player who is now comfortable collecting his pension and we are paying for it.
    By the way, AV, ‘Ignorant’ and Lambie playing for the Boro? Would that be in a Christmas tree formation with a light weight fairy on top?

  18. Okay Nigel Reeve, good to see you come out and back Southgate in a Gibbo style.
    Ivan Campo is the same age as Mendi and played the full 90 minutes against us and even cropped up to have a couple of chances which he missed.
    A fit Mendi would have put one away mate-are you not following his movements in the reserves? Allardyce would be getting the best out of Mendi if he were at the wheel.
    We are not Man U or Chelsea and this is why we get players like Mendietta , Boksic,Jimmy Flloyd and the like towards the end of their careers.
    Boro like Bolton has not got the pull or wealth of bigger clubs so we have to pay big money in January if we buy a top quality striker as he will not come cheap if he is any good.
    Complain all you like about my warped views by all means but don’t put me in league with Lambo , thats below the belt. Ouch!

  19. mark j. i agree with you. it is painfully clear that our bench is a joke. and to have a former champions league finalists rotting on the reserves is a scandal.
    has southgate got personal issues with mendy??? was it the same with jimmy floyd??? i think it is about time southgate started to listen to fans views because we can see where this club is heading…….down.

  20. No – much more pragmatic than that Billy. The club obviously want him off the books as soon as possible (and have done for a couple of years as stated in the article), and fear that even the merest hint that he may win back his place would be seen as encouragement. Hence Southgates categorical statement.
    Belts are being tightened all over the club, and both Lamb and Southgate must be praying that they can convince Mendieta to go before the transfer window opens. They need desperately to free up more cash to tempt a decent striker, which is not going to be easy in our present position.

  21. GS’s comments about rumours, half truths and chinese whispers emanating from website blogs would have been believable if it had come from a young naive teenage entertainer just caught in their first ever faux pas by a tabloid paparazzi.
    Who on earth is handling the clubs PR these days? Even teenage starlets have a “Max Clifford” somewhere in the wings advising them on the “correct” thing to say and when to say it and more importantly when not to say it.
    A club which has cornered the market in “Home alone” footballers should either make damn sure nothing remotely embarassing repeats itself or immediately counter expose’s with a professional but believable PR spin. Once is an accident (Emerson), twice (Viduka) is unfortunate but three times is deliberate (or incompetence at worse).
    As if that wasn’t enough why on earth start a Mendieta vendetta at the same time. Here is a world class footballer who has never slagged off the team, the town or the people yet the club’s attitude smacks of the “with us or without us” mentality we are witnessing all too often.
    Now maybe behind the scenes there are “issues” with Mendy that would taint our views of him as an individual or his contract at the very least but there is absolutely no excuse for a Manager in any organisation to say somebody who is in their employ has “no future” in the organisation.
    More disturbingly comments like that do not sound like the Gareth Southgate we all knew. In fact it sounds a lot more like someone else in the clubs hierarchy pulling his strings. You would almost think he did actually reads the blogs he vehemently claims he doesn’t.
    I learnt a long time ago in business that if you have nothing worth saying then say nothing! Least said soonest mended.

  22. Mendietta is a luxury that Boro can not afford.
    It has been estimated that he’s on 40K a week (ie 2 million a year) – So given that Gibson said this week that we only take 8 million pounds a year through the turnstiles – Then a quarter of all supporters are paying for someone who can’t even make the bench.
    He won’t go because he’s not even going to get half that money from anybody else – but that’s always the problem with big names and big contracts.

  23. werdermouth. wages is not the issue with mendy. granted he might be rich but that is football and class always earns the dosh. but if you were the gaffer, would you keep a player of mendys class in reserves? in my case, no.
    he would be given a chance and he,s performances would do the talking. remember gs has dumped jimmy and massimo and brought in lee and ammmmmm NOBODY!!
    THE SQUAD IS WEAK AND IGNORING SQUAD MEMBERS IS MAKING IT WORSE.

  24. Final word on Mendi??
    I am sure it is more for financial reasons than for football reasons that Mendi is being told to get out of town.
    I can understand that, as getting a much needed striker in is probably Gate’s priority (at least I hope so) and he needs the extra money.
    It’s another sign that all is not well financially at MFC, and we are finally seeing the age of the “the club Teesside can afford” coming to bear.
    On the footballing end of the debate, I still believe that Mendi has something to offer, even in the short term, however that is now immaterial.

  25. “If he started making decisions based on what we post then I think I’d join Diablo Derek and become an arm chair Man Utd ‘fan’.”
    …..Ah hem not an armchair fan and meh name is not Derek…..
    You sir are clutching at straws, a bit like “wot” your hapless manager is doing.

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