New Year, New Era?

NEW YEAR, new era of openness, communication and engagement? All the signs are that after several aloof years of damaging ivory tower estrangement, Boro may be inching towards a new healthier and more productive relationship with their supporters. And about time too.
Prompted by the inescapable visible impact of the spreading red desert of empty seats the club appear to be now facing up to a key question that could yet determine the future of “the Riverside Revolution”: how did the club fail to cash the PR blank cheque after Cardiff and Eindhoven? How could the long awaited, totally unprecedented and undoubtedly glorious high points of a long Golden Age be followed by such a profound crisis of faith and the mass desertion of so many vocally disenchanted Red Bookers? And how can the tide be turned?
The latest move towards a post Fordy Glasnost is the news that Boro are to hold a fans’ vote on the possible return of the White Band, a exercise in consumer democracy that is revealed today exclusively in the steam driver paper ink and paper format Evening Gazette.


My feelings on the iconic and eye-catching branding device have been made clear time and again (much to the annoyance of club commercial chiefs) and have been widely echoed by marketing savvy supporters and sentimentalists everywhere – but whatever the pros and cons of the shirt design the mechanism that has been chosen is a major step forward.
The shirt colours are highly symbolic and strike an emotional chord with supporters and clubs who are cavalier with such things face a backlash, as the club know from their mailbag after dropping the band without consultation or explanation.
In the past the club offered supporters a programme poll on the colours of the away strip, giving the chance to choose between a selection of lines from the Errea catalogue that had little relevence to the history of the club and which were then apraded around the pitch by the latest batch of Boro Babes and Beefcakes. This year, at the depth of the beleagured club’s isolation from the public, even that sop was denied.
So the notion of running a poll on such most fundamental aspect of the HOME shirt is a significant political development. Of course we can quibble: maybe a design competition among schools and colleges (possibly linked to projects on the cultural history of the shirt) may tick a few more boxes and offer a longer running PR campaign that reaches beyond the readership of the programme but that is for the future. For now this is a most welcome thaw.
Slowly the club are opening themselves up to the notion that the supporters have a stake in the club, an emotional investment of incredible importance and the powers that be are tentatively acknowledging that there are compelling commercial reasons to let the supporters have a voice in some aspects of the operation.
We all know the background to the current dysfunctional stand-off. Layer upon layer of small individual quibbles from shirt stocking shortfalls to Eindhoven tickets, some classic foot-in-mouth PR own goals, commercial cock-ups, the frosty relationship with the media (and especially the crucial local media), the perception of a club that does not acknowledge its mistakes and does not value the fans builds up into a mosaic of discontent and offers supporters a string of excuses to walk away, excuses that are invariably taken when the quality of football is poor and when the club really need them most.
The simmering discontent and feeling of alienation has left fans feeling estranged from the club they love – a contradiction described on here as loving Boro but hating MFC – and in the heightened emotional arena of football the smallest frustrations have become magnified into grounds for divorce. That is why long time diehards have walked away and wrapped in their Red Books – even the old precious S and Ts – citing as the deal-breaker what should be peripheral issues like the quality and tardiness of the shirts, kiosk prices, the smoking ban, queuing for away tickets, the seemingly arbitrary change of badge, the purging of populist dissident Bernie Slaven and, yes, the sudden disappearance of the white band.
The club to its credit has started to realise that not only do they have a responsibility in the breakdown of those relationships but they are the only ones with the power to repair them. And there have been some very encouraging signs of late that they are ready and willing to do that.
They have brought in new marketing guru, chief operating officer Neil Bausor, to review the entire ‘customer facing’ club structure with a brief to sharpen up the commercial and customer relations aspects of the set-up and bring in some elements of best practice from other business sectors. His first major decision was to prune Garham Fordy and advise the club to become more pro-active in its approach to the supporters who are the lifeblood of the club.
The first indication was the on-line poll on the coitus interruptus abomination that is goal celebration music. Again it was flawed – it was limited to the cyber constituency, there was no ‘don’t know’ option, there was no debate on the issue or comment on the grating choice of “Chelsea Dagger” of all things to prompt fans to react to a Boro goal, and it produced the worst possible result of a “yes” but by less than half a per centage point – but it was a start.
Then there was the move towards a new type of viral marketing with the release of the David Wheater ‘passion’ video e-mailed to 25,000 supporters, advertising that was not selling a product but a concept, asking not for cash but for commitment.
There will be more developments too. In a recent Hurworth meeting between Gareth Southgate and a delegation from fans’ group the Twe12th Man the question of what it would take to get the fans excited and engaged again was raised and in a far reaching discussion that covered a lot of points raised repeatedly on this blog over the years, Bauser was scribbling away on his club crested notebook. He will have had plenty of food for thought.
Ultimately whether Boro are a success and whether there is a good matchday atmosphere comes down to what they do on the pitch but whether there is a healthy, flourishing and dynamic relationship with supporters comes down to what they do off it. We must hope that Boro have resolved to deliver on both fronts in 2008.
Happy New Year.

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73 thoughts on “New Year, New Era?

  1. You gone on holiday vic or just lazy? 🙂
    Anyway let Boateng go he’s old and there’s plenty of cover…and save the wage….he is really excess to requirements. we need a a guy who can hit the barn door remember….
    **AV writes: Yes, I’ve been on holiday. And I’m lazy. But I’m back now and normal service is resumed.

  2. John powls and redcar red -I do take on board what you say about ambition.
    It is my personal belief that Steve Gibsons ambition is as bright as ever-where I think mistakes have been made is that poor communication and lack of involvement with supporters have left us in the dark about what we are trying to achieve and how we are trying to go about it and as a result people feel that the club has lost contact with them.
    Petty public slanging matches with former players are undignified and unnecessary and suggesting things are going to happen when they do not are clearly undermining a lot of belief amongst fans.
    IT’s a change of approach that is needed

  3. Tony Black:
    The in depth textual analysis of my contributions is not much fun for the rest of the readers. You need to remember I’m firing off an e-mail based on my expert opinion it’s not meant as Phd to be marked by an eminent professor.
    My point in a nutshell is :
    By all means go to another team and ‘fill your boots’ but don’t make out you were forced out by the Boro’s lack of ambition or that you are leaving because of some principled disagreement. It’s about money, nothing else. They should leave quietly and gracefully and be eternally grateful for the fantastic living that the club and the people of Middlesbrough gave them.
    Must get back to my voodoo doll. If the fat fella collapses in agony around 3:10 clutching his ‘buster browns’- you know it’s worked !
    I’m thinking £10 on Arca to score first and into the hat no probs.

  4. Richard
    My underlying point is that the club have refocussed their ambitions to reflect changing commercial realities which are undermining the club’s ability to compete in the PL, including falling attendances.
    It has often been stated by the club that they would not allow a return to the 1986 situation and so they will not be overeaching themselves a la Ridsdale.
    At the height of local interest the club talked about being confident of pulling in regular crowds of 35,000 and acted on this by expanding capacity. At the time this may have been realistic – given the club’s catchment area it is, on the face of it, certainly feasible if the club is succesful and the team is good to watch.
    But this reckons without the ingrained culture of apathy, pessimism, cynicisn and indifference and yes, the limited ambition which seems to describe a significant proportion of Teesside’s indigenous population and is certainly in part responsible for what has happened since.
    The falling gates during by far the club’s most successful period sent a loud message to the club that continuing levels of support could not be relied upon and this must have been a kick in the nuts for Gibson in the circumstances. 21,000 against Sporting Lisbon in the QF stands out like a beacon in this respect.
    Hence the club will cut its cloth accordingly and ‘Teesside will get the team it can afford / deserves etc’.
    **AV writes: It is hard to argue against any of that.

  5. Score Draw, your reply is just a cop out and you know it.
    Much of what you said was just plain wrong and you shouldn’t post if you don’t want people to pick apart what you say.
    I’m no professor, just joe public who has taken issue with what you wrote that’s all.
    Like I’ve said before, that’s just my opinion and yours is yours, both are equally valid.
    Your opinion centres all around the dollars, where as mine does not.
    Zenden and Yakubu went to bigger clubs where they could / might have a chance at experiencing new things. If they got more money I’m sure that this was the icing on the cake.
    Juni and others just didn’t want to play in the 1st division and quite rightly left, who wouldn’t have done ?
    Yakubu was spot on and everyone with two seeing eyes is well aware of the fact that MFC has lost its drive and ambition in recent years and the fact that they have wheeled out a new PR guru to paper over the all too evident lack of ambition is just pathetic in the extreme.
    On line polls about white bands ? PR videos ? What an absolute joke. Get in a PROPER manager with a PROPER team, win some games and play until you collapse every single game, even when all is lost and you will soon see people come back.
    Paul Ince is a fool. GS was the wrong man for the job as we aren’t some mickey mouse club and whilst he learns as he goes we all go into freefall with ever lower attendances and fans who have had enough of being taken for granted and treated as second rate.
    It’s time for Gibson to either really be ambitious or to go once and for all. As we are now we are adrfit and just going further out to sea.
    Cheers.
    TB

  6. It may have been touched on already but may I raise the point regarding the treatment of Boro Supporters arriving and departing in buses and cars.
    The waiting after the game is absolutely horrendous. It’s as if they don’t want us to return. 10 years+ that stadium has been there and the transport in and out has not improved a great deal.

  7. Lovely second goal. Good result.
    All in all a great day for me because we managed to win while at the same time ‘you know who’ that feeble excuse of a player managed to demonstrate for all to see what a long streak he is.
    When I watch the Boro it reminds me of the playground when we played ‘rush goalie’. In other words we didn’t take position seriously which clearly the Boro don’t.
    I’ve reached that plateau where I’m actually enjoying his performances. I have just replayed their first goal. Have you ever seen goalie dominate his 6 yard box as well ? A mountain of a man !! I can’t work out who he reminds me of Peter Schmeical or Kylie Minouge ?
    AV: You must have some contact with him and were something of a ‘fan’ in the past – could you or someone tell him that the phrase “let the ball do the work” doesn’t really apply to Goalkeeping.

  8. Tony Black-what cheeses me off about your unending criticism is that whatever anybody says or does at the club you can find a reason to knock it.
    I see you are now criticising the appointment of a new PR employee. think most even minded fans would say the club’s PR in recent years has been poor.Perhaps the club have identified this and are trying to address it.
    No doubt if they did nothing you would find a reason to criticise that. No matter what happens in your eyes it is wrong.
    And finally back to Yakubu – this weekend’s result left me amused and presumably left you upset.

  9. Stockton Red,
    do you ever read my previous posts ? Obviously not.
    The appointment of a new PR guru is to be greatly applauded and I have said that any idea they come up with at the club is better late than never. I’m all for new ideas and trying new things at every single level.
    However, the problem is that PR issues, important as they are, are secondary to all else.
    For the PR to have any worth the club itself needs to first clearly set out it’s short, medium and long term strategy.
    We need to know exactly what money there is available and will be available in the future, and we need to know exactly where the money we did have has been spent.
    I’m not a basher of all things just for the sake of it, as you say. But I’m of the opinion that these things that the club try do to are very ill thought out and that they are almost worthless as the fundamentals haven’t yet been put in place, as I see it.
    Keith Lamb for starters needs to clarify his way of working so as to explain why it seems to take and eternity to sort out contracts and why we seem to always leave it to the last minute when it’s too late.
    Downing, Zenden, Viduka, and Schwarzer have all made very clear public comments as to their frustrations on this matter and so whether they are right or wrong the position needs clarifying to the most important people of all, US.
    Fans will not simply come back because the club sent them an email video or did an online poll about a stripe. These are things that will be the icing on the cake, but they aren’t and never will be able to paper over what we all in here know is missing.
    So I’m afraid to say that this PR is just window dressing for the sake of window dressing and it’s extremely sad that the powers that be think that we will all buy into this, as many won’t, hence the droves of empty seats.
    They will come back ONLY when they see that people like Yakubu are wrong when they say that we are a club without ambition.
    Are we a club with ambition ?
    Let the Chairman clearly spell out his vision for the future and how he’s going to get there. Let him clearly tell us the financial state of the club and what is being done to improve it.
    He MUST be the one to talk positive and to look to the future and he MUST NOW let the past remain firmly in the past so that we can slowly but surely move on.
    When will he stop using the excuse that we went bust as his justification for everything that’s going on ?
    To simply exist in this division simply isn’t good enough any more as he has given us all a taste of the finer things and so we rightly want more.
    If he can’t give us that then he needs to go.
    He knows better than anyone that there is no sentiment in business and so as harsh as it seems he has to go as at the end of the day it’s not about him, it’s ONLY about the club.
    I’m all for him staying put if he can deliver, but you know as well as I do that he MUST now deliver more.
    He set the standards and so now he must continue you to raise them, or go.
    But as I’ve said before and this is where GS is wrong, ambition IS NOT just about money.
    Ambition is also a state of mind, an attitude, a never ending self belief in oneself and a way of working.
    Our players DO NOT give 110% in EVERY game. Sometimes they turn up and sometimes they don’t. It’s been said in here ad infinitum. There’s an obvious problem here and it doesn’t involve money.
    Players need to be inspired. They need to have a never ending desire to wear and represent the shirt they are in 24 / 7 with no excuses.
    GS and Coops are unable to provide this.
    As for you cheap jibe it isn’t worth answering.
    TB

  10. A good solid result yesterday, the match was a potential banana skin if ever there was one. The 3rd round is always a potential minefield as several premiership teams found out .
    TB – You are constantly slagging off GS and saying he should go, that is an easy statement to make, why not try being a bit more constructive and suggest who Boro should have as manager? Presumably someone who likes a warm seat to sit on?!
    I’ll also say this the Boro players are inspired by GS, he has leadership qualities in abundance, he also has the support of those who bother to go to the Riverside as I heard first hand on New Year’s day, something you wouldn’t be aware of.

  11. we have 17 games left.only 4 against opposition below us,last 2 games portsmouth and man city.imperative we start picking up wins

  12. TonyBlack:
    My point is simple. Yakubu, Viduka , Hasslebaink et al were priveliged to play for Boro and were extremely well rewarded. They should be grateful and leave with some dignity.
    Wy can’t you grasp that very simple point ?
    Feel free to do the textual analysis but believe me when people see your e-mails (which are like a Castro speech) they will probably scroll to the last sentence because it is too intense for consumption.
    My voodoo doll worked a treat – did you see lardass miss that sitter against Oldham ?

  13. Patrick Steele & AV:
    Most of my previous contributions to AV’s blogs have majored on precisely the points you make and I concur entirely with what you say.
    Absolutely no argument, whatsoever.
    However, there seem to be opinions being expressed on this blog which question (rightly) what the club’s true ambitions actually are.
    And there would appear to be also a considerable amount of residual expectation (fan ambition?) of a revival from where we are currently, to the heady heights of Cardiff and Eindhoven achievement.
    The purpose of my post was to highlight the possible gulf between some expectations and what Steve Gibson and Co believe can be realistically achieved with their view of the Premier League world.
    The vehicle I chose was a rhetorical question/challenge to Steve Gibson as the head of a corporate body, to make HIS intentions and expectations known to the other stakeholders in the club – the fans.
    Otherwise, just like you, I remain in the dark about how ambitious he and his board are for footballing success.
    What YOU have pointed out is the current commercial reality – which we know about already and upon which I have given myself a bad case of repetitive brain injury in previous postings.
    What I’m now asking for publicly, is either confirmation that Steve Gibson will continue to accept the current reality extending into the future – or is he prepared to think out of the box and seek ways of enabling Boro to compete with the new and growing elite?
    My post was an attempt to focus on the current uncertainty of future intent, evidenced by the feelings of club-fan disconnect on these pages.
    If continued acceptance of mediocre low-to-mid-table Premier League finishes, or worse, is to be Boro’s fate, by financial default, I for one want to know about it earlier rather than later.
    Because if that’s the future, I’m increasingly likely to go off to follow an alternative, more exciting future where I feel less frustration and which doesn’t feel quite so much like I’m subsidising Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City’s grip on the upper echelons of the Premier League!
    And I believe I’ll only be following thousands of previous defectees who’s discretionary disposable income or their patience ran out before mine!
    **AV writes: With regards to the chairman outlining the and exactly where and how he intends to take the club from here… well, I might have some news for you on that soon.

  14. TB:
    “We need to know exactly what money there is available and will be available in the future, and we need to know exactly where the money we did have has been spent.”
    Dream on TB!
    No businessman will ever let such information be known publicly-especially projecting forward and particularly in a bidding environment like modern football!
    Where I agree with your sentiment however, is that it would be reassuring if Gibson and Co would get off the pot and let Boro punters know what kind of club we are likely to be in the future.
    That’s what my recent previous posts have tried to highlight. I would also like to know what kind of club Boro will be in the future.
    I think we may all need a dose of reality however! And Patrick Steele has provided the most recent illustration of that.
    I’m challenging Gibson to share his true ambition for the club with the public. If his ambition for the club doesn’t live up to people’s expectations, then they will have to consider whether they wish to continue to support him and his club strategy or if they don’t!
    The future is what Season Ticket holders buy into. If they don’t like the future product suite, then either Gibson needs to change it, or his business continues to shrink.
    When other Premier League clubs are forging ahead on the back of new, big money backers, what are Boro doing about it?
    It bothers me that we’re apparently tinkering with shirt design and goal celebration music! For heavens sake!! Now THAT’S going to make a whole shed-load of difference to our footballing performances! – NOT!!
    **AV writes: I refer the honourable gentlemen to my previous answer.

  15. Richard Wrote…
    ” No businessman will ever let such information be known publicly-especially projecting forward and particularly in a bidding environment like modern football! ”
    Agreed. But we could quite easily be told that we have funds for ” x ” amount of quality players in order to give us some indication of what’s going on, as opposed to being told that the clubs skint.
    Skint ? I bet they still role out the old chestnut that Pele’ will be signing when it’s renewal of the season ticket holders day.
    ” I’m challenging Gibson to share his true ambition for the club with the public. If his ambition for the club doesn’t live up to people’s expectations, then they will have to consider whether they wish to continue to support him and his club strategy or if they don’t!
    The future is what Season Ticket holders buy into. If they don’t like the future product suite, then either Gibson needs to change it, or his business continues to shrink.
    When other Premier League clubs are forging ahead on the back of new, big money backers, what are Boro doing about it?
    It bothers me that we’re apparently tinkering with shirt design and goal celebration music! For heavens sake!! Now THAT’S going to make a whole shed-load of difference to our footballing performances! – NOT!! ”
    I’m with you all the way and agree with you 100%. When this does eventually come then my posts will become more positive as there will be actually something more positive than PR spin to be positive about.
    Nigel wrote…
    ” TB – You are constantly slagging off GS and saying he should go, that is an easy statement to make, why not try being a bit more constructive and suggest who Boro should have as manager? Presumably someone who likes a warm seat to sit on?! ”
    In my opinion he’s rubbish and so is Coops. I’m sorry but nothing I see or hear has convinced me otherwise.
    When people start to ditch the famous ” small town mentality ” and embrace the fact that we are in fact a BIG club they will begin to consider the fact that only an maniac would have put such a big club in the hands of people who are learning as they go and making mistakes along the way.
    Gibson has made a massive mistake and he’s just too proud to hold his hands up. He’d rather see us all burn in the Championship than admit that he’s got it wrong and I simply will not be silenced by anyone.
    These people may well be great one day but it certainly won’t be now barring the wildest stroke of luck and the majority of fans know it and that’s why they don’t turn up anymore – FACT.
    I understand fully why you have a go at me, honestly I do, and I don’t take it personally. I know that my posts are in the main negative but that’s just because I don’t rate these people unlike you do.
    At the start of the season I pointed to Sven and many people in here mocked me. Well they aren’t doing so now. Agreed he has more money but you simply cannot deny that he is a very good club manager who knows exactly what he’s doing.
    We passed up on O’Neil in the name of backroom ” continuity ” and so this is the price we all pay.
    I’d employ someone like Martin Jol any day of the week.
    TB

  16. As much as i hate to say a toon barcode is correct and intelligent….this is Mike Ashley in response to sacking Sam Allardyce and replacing him with Shearer.
    “A senior source close to Ashley told The News of the World: “Mike wouldn’t employ an undergraduate fresh out of business school to run one of his companies, so why would he trust Newcastle to a rookie?”
    Perhaps Mr Gibson should read that!!! Southgate is certainly a rookie managing something he is incapable of.

  17. TB – Maybe SG did make a mistake in appointing an inexperienced manager, we do not necessarily disagree on that.
    However once the mistake is made there are two alternatives, one is to change the decision, ie sack the manager, with all the upheavel that brings. The other is to make a ‘wrong’ decision into the right one, which is where I think we are.
    GS to me has all the attributes of a good manager. Managing/coaching a football team is not rocket science, it requires strong leadership and a consistency of approach, and buying good quality players, because at the end of the day, it is the team with the best players who wins.
    My belief is (despite a wobble a couple of weeks before Christmas) that we should stick with GS.

  18. White socks definitely improve red kit.
    White band is horrible, amateurish (just like the embarrassing new badge!) and makes us look like a rugby team. Let’s go for blue & black stripes as our home kit – then we would be unique!

  19. Nigel, that’s fair enough mate and you may well be right in the end. Who knows ? I don’t have a crystal ball. But I just don’t see it, I really don’t.
    However, good buys ? Really ?
    Lee
    Euell
    Woodgate the terminally injured
    Huth another terminally injured
    Alidaire is not a striker and so for me was a bad buy as we needed to replace our stikers and never did.
    Mido the unproven and a risk that may or may not come off, but a risk never the less.
    For me that leaves two good buys.
    My point is that the bad buys, which I absolutely accept can also be about fitting in etc., are also down to the fact that he just didn’t have a clue and is yet another example of a man learning as he goes at our expense.
    This is my main gripe. He may well one day be an amazing manager and I’m not for one moment saying that he won’t be, but as it stands he IS learning as he goes and IS making lots of mistakes which is reflected by where we are in the league table.
    For me it just shows the mistake of Gibson to put him in.
    Gibson IS a legend and rihgtly so, but he has lost his way of late and shows no real sign of changing.
    Mate, GS had 25 million to spend and I just don’t accept that he bought well.
    We ARE a big club but Gibson doesn’t talk as if we are and he just doesn’t act as if we are and as long as this continues we ain’t going nowhere.
    Get a new manager in and put GS as his number two, and then one day he can take over when he’s learned the ropes PROPERLY. If he doesn’t accept this then adios.
    The loyalty is with the club and not the people in it.
    TB
    **AV writes: Woodgate and Huth ‘terminally injured”? Jesus wept, that is a blow.

  20. Ig – blue and black stripes unique, are you sure??
    TB – Your ‘fact’ that the majority of fans don’t attend is a little off the mark isn’t it? The Riverside these days is 2/3 full so in other words the majority of fans do attend.
    While we are at it you describe Boro as a big club, what’s your definition of big?

  21. Hi Nigel,
    Admittedly my point about the majority of the fans not turning up wasn’t what I meant to say and you’re quite right to pull me up on it – sorry.
    My idea of a big club is one that has been in the top flight for number of years and is regarded as one of the ” regulars ” and one that has attracted quite a few top quality players.
    Zenden
    Jimmy Floyd
    Viduka
    Yakubu
    Woodgate
    Arca
    Juni
    You could quite easily add quite a few names to that list.
    Huth would be very good player I think as well, but he seems to be another injury prone player and so I personally would never have bought either him or Woodgate, just as I would never buy a post Liverpool Owen as we simply cannot afford to gamble our limited funds on these types of players.
    I personally don’t rate the ” bigness ” of a club by the size of the weekly bums on seats as we don’t live in that big a place and money doesn’t grow on trees either.
    It’s time that Gibson and Co talked up the club instead of constantly talking about the past, the size of our cloth to fit e.t.c. and all that other ” we’re skintsville, small town in Europe ” stuff.
    I just really feel that if he was a lot more positive and talked us up instead of down that this would filter everywhere and that we’d be far, far better off as a result.
    Why would any player want to come here now when all they hear is this negativity ?
    On this 1 point Yakubu was right.
    I’m not interested in talk of hotels and golf clubs, I just want to hear about the plans for the academy and the club and the future.
    If he had a clear vision and spelled it out, even if I didn’t agree with all of it, I’d be much more on board as I suspect that many others would be too.
    There’s far too much doom and gloom coming out of the club and there has been for ages.
    A PR man won’t change this, it can only come from the main man down.
    Same goes for Southgate who’s his own worse enemy. Even before the FA Cup tie he has to talk how the other manager is far more experienced than he is.
    Don’t you think that this hands an advantage to the opposition when they hear this ? It just makes him sound such a novice and so weak and it’s all sadly self inflicted.
    He looks and sounds like a loser and that just can’t be good.
    I just don’t want to hear this. I want to hear about tactics, preparations, and what changes he is ACTUALLY doing so that I can back him.
    I want to hear fighting talk an not excuses even before the game begings or after.
    All you ever get is him saying that he’s learning as he goes, or that the players will learn from that. It just isn’t the way to talk.
    That’s how I see it mate. Thanks for the interesting debate.
    TB

  22. Nigel re blue & black stripes – Quick check shows no English side above Conference in this kit; Inter is in Milano & Atalanta is in Bergamo;coincidentally Errea makes the Atalanta kit, so they might have a few spare!!

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