Boro in ‘180 Minutes From Wembley’ Shock!

FORGET my earlier wild speculation based on random bits of paper pulled out of an Ayresome Park mug by primary school children…. it’s a Riverside reunion with cardiff and with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, possibly the only man in football who could realistically wear Mido’s shorts without them flapping like a tea clipper in full sail.
Yes it would have been nice to draw Bristol Rovers or Barnsley – realistically they have shot their bolt – but come on, Boro playing a mid-table Championship outfit at home for a place in Wembley. What more can you ask for? If Boro hold their nerves and play to their potential now we can realistically think about Wembley. I know you shouldn’t because it may put the mockers on and the Blades could yet spoil it but go on, dare to dream.

Here’s the wild speculative bit I rattled off yesterday. It’s exactly the kind of perceptive, scientific and uncannily accurate stuff I get paid for …
BORO will travel to Barnsley in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Exclusive. If we see off Sheffield United in the replay Boro face a fourth successive away day with a semi-final trip to Wembley beckoning. No, not just wishful thinking. That was the generous way the folded bits of paper came out in a tense mock draw staged at the plush Vickers Towers headquarters of the Acklam FA. It is as scientific as you can get. Picture the scene:
“Elizabeth, you will draw the home teams. William, you will draw the away teams. William, can you have a little feel of the balls and assure the viewers at home that they are of equal weight and size and that none of them are either excessively warm or cold or have any magnetic or other qualities making them easy to distinguish? Then we’ll begin…
“These are the numbers you will need to keep an eye out in this exciting draw for the last eight:
1 Bristol Rovers
2 Cardiff City
3 Sheffield United or Middlesbrough
4 Barnsley
5 Manchester United
6 Portsmouth
7 West Bromwich Albion
8 Chelsea
“With just two of the big guns in there, two Premier League also rans and four obscure teams from the depths who could cause the TV bean-counters to have a coronary, anything could happen. Anyone who avoids Manchester United and Chelsea will fancy their chances of at least one trip to Wembley…… Elizabeth…
“Number 5 … Manchester United ….. (no, no, no, please no) … will play…. number 1…. Bristol Rovers (well, they are out but it’s a big pay day for them and that is one hot spot avoided.)
“Number 2 …. Cardiff City…. (don’t fancy that, long trip and retro hoolie fans plus JFH with a point to prove) … will play…. number 6…. Portsmouth.
“Number 2…. Barnsley …. (come on, come on, come on)… will play…. (come on) …. number 3 (YESSS!) Sheffield United or Middlesbrough (get in, Wembley here we come!)
“And finally… (who cares) number 7… West Brom… will play … number 8, Chelsea (Come on Mogga). And that concludes the draw for the sixth round of the FA Cup. Thankyou children.”
**Please note, this mock draw is not a contract and neither this blog nor the Evening Gazette will accept any responsibility for transport arrangements or large wagers entered into on the basis of the information contained within. It does however show how easily the Road To Wembley could open up for Boro if only the FA can come up with the same pairing.
In truth, so long as we can avoid number 5 and number 8 then anything the draw throws up is winnable. The next hardest is Portsmouth away and we’ve won there already this season. The banana skins might be Tony Mowbray’s West Brom, we played them twice last season and only just squeezed through so they will fancy their chances, especially James Morrison. We’ll see what the real balls serve up.


85 thoughts on “Boro in ‘180 Minutes From Wembley’ Shock!

  1. London-based Boro fan wrote…
    It’s very frustrating that there’s no way of editing inadvertently inaccurate posts on here before they appear!
    ” **AV writes: Yes it is, especially if you have made a little mistake or want to tidy something up or events overtake you but is a relatively simple system. If it gets any more complex it becomes too time intensive for me and I’ve got to have a life. ”
    Why don’t you make it forum based blog ?
    That way you could also have some moderators who would lighten the load for you in the legal dept e.t.c., leaving you more time to possibly comment more on the discussion.
    In time as the blog grows more and more popular it’s going to become impossible for you to run the show on your own anyway!
    Just a thought…..
    **AV writes: The Gazette has a forum. Forums can be an unstructured free-for-all and while they can be fun they can also be a bit of a zoo. That’s not really what I want.

  2. Just to clarify about my comments on O’Neill and Arca, I am actually a big fan of both. I was merely referring to current form, of which both are currently way off their best. On a lighter note does Arca remind anybody else of the Waterboy?
    **AV writes: Arca is the absolute spit of The Count from Sesame Street.

  3. In reply to some of the Gam£ 39 posts…
    I remember posting last year on the possibility of 2 foreign-owned clubs deciding at some point to play one of their fixtures abroad – it’s a bit disconcerting to realise how quickly this possibility is now becoming closer to reality.
    Having said that, people who bemoan the big 4 exploiting other teams in the league to their own advantage have short memories – I remember how when Liverpool were top dogs they would regularly pick off the best players from other clubs (remember David Hodgson and Craig Johnston?).
    Also the idea that the money-men are suddenly controlling the game is about 15 years out of date from when Sky entered the scene – all we are witnessing now is another step in the arms race.
    The power of the big clubs increased further 10 years ago when the Champions League was opened up to clubs who didn’t win their leagues – with further TV money being injected. Football exists in a symbiotic relationship with TV in the same way horse racing and bookmakers exist.
    It’s also no surprise, given the globalisation of our jobs, the products we buy and even the food we eat, that somehow football can be immune from these forces.
    Though as much as I don’t agree with the principle of where the game has moved, I’m also a realist and I’m not expecting the government to stump up billions of pounds to nationalise the game.
    Look at it from this point of view: Boro is probably around the 30th richest club in the world – which considering the size of Middlesbrough is quite amazing. This has only been achieved through successful commercial operation by Steve Gibson and long-term ssuccess on the pitch.
    So as AV said earlier, clubs can’t suddenly decide to opt out of the arms race if they wish to enjoy top-flight football (and I’m in that camp) – unfortunately we live in a today’s fast-moving world and not a romantic ideal world where everything is fair and equal.

  4. Further to my post to Richard and AV, it is instructive to observe what is happening in India at this very moment.
    Players from all over the world are being bought at auction to play for teams in their twenty20 cricket competition, the proceeds going to the Indian cricket board – Mohindra Dhoni went for £1.3million, someone tried to get Simmonds and Harbijhan in the same team following their spat in the test match. A year ago when it was announced the world said it would never happen. Now it is being run by the Indian cricket board and the local equivalent of sky (Star I think).
    I dont for one moment think it will happen in football but it just shows what can happen when people start whispering sweet nothings to each other.
    Beware of Septic Bladder, even Platini might come down from his Gallic moral highpoint once the moneymen start talking.
    To the tune of the Red Flag:
    ‘the working class can kiss my a***,
    I’ve got the foremans job at last.’
    Onto forum or blog, I prefer the current format where we can have reasoned debate. We have AV moderating, so to some extent the content is controlled but on most of the forums it appears there is more abuse and less debate – a bit like the old message board.

  5. Horace – surely the ‘only a small town’ tag is used as a source of pride by Boro fans rather than a negative.
    Middlesbrough is a small town which has produced a relatively ‘big’ and succesful football club, something we are all proud of. I think most Boro fans are aware that there are many towns and cities in England with far far less succesful football teams than Boro.
    However the fact is the size of the fan base ultimately determines how much cash the club has and therefore limits the success it can achieve.

  6. Dave you’re right you’re not really an eejit, and you are entitled to your opinion, no offence taken hopefully.
    If you watch the Boro on TV it does show a completely different picture to live games. You won’t get a feel for what Rocky does off the ball and the hard work he puts in.
    I think people just expect him to be spectacular because he’s Brazillian, he’s more like Dunga, gets through loads of ground work and is then reliable with the ball. He rarely wastes a pass (have a look for his OPTA stats) and in his first couple of seasons he suffered more than most due to a complete lack of mobility throughout the team.
    Now with Downing, Tuncay, Arca, O’Neill, Ali, Mido and Alves we have movement in abundance and his performances have improved in line with this.
    So much so I can’t remember his last bad game. I also see all home games and a fair few away games so I’ve seen enough for an informed opinion.

  7. TB, the blog is fine as it is. If it ain’t broke, etc…
    What next, will the top 4 bloggers want their own special blog site just for themselves or howabout a global blog where they can join the top bloggers from Spain, Italy, etc?

  8. AV, don’t change the blog i used to contribute to the old have your say which i still miss. I have used the forums very little since its inception and agree it is like a zoo.
    Keep it up i enjoy reading and contributing and i see a lot of the old contributors are comming back
    **AV writes: There is no intention of changing anything. It was just a suggestion from someone for a tweak.

  9. Gary O’Neill, slipped my mind Clive. Maybe Gary for Boeteng.
    I have just watched Liverpool struggle against a ten man Inter Milan team in the Euro Cup. What struck me about the Liverpool tactics against a retreating ten man team was that they retained possession for long periods but went nowhere.
    They passed the ball between players without creating any holes in their opponents defense, this was because they passed the ball before drawing an opponent out of position. You do not need great skills to play in this manner.
    The difficulty is getting close to your opponent and releasing the ball at close quarters so that the man directly in front of you is now out of position when you pass the ball into an open space for a team mate to run on to and do the same to his marker.
    This might sound like telling Grand Ma how to suck eggs, but it was apparent this Liverpool team lacked direction in the basics of football. No wonder they are looking to get rid of their Manager.
    If Liverpool play in this manner against the Boro next week, I can see us getting three points as Gareth will exploit this obvious weakness.

  10. Further to Nigel’s comments re the ‘small town’.
    I’ve taken a flag with ‘small town in yorkshire’ all over the place outside of England. The reason I took to it was simply because the gormless geordies always sang it at us as if it was somekind of insult rather than a statement of fact (depending on when you were born): Middlesbrough IS a small town in Yorkshire – and I for one am proud that it is.
    This certainly doesn’t mean that I and many others (the club included) have a small town outlook. It’s just something that I identify with, I certainly don’t identify myself with this smoggy cobblers that some people seem to like, but each to their own, don’t read too much into things…

  11. Werdermouth:
    A well-positioned and well-reasoned post, that last one on Gam£39. Nicely argued. But………
    you make the point, “Football exists in a symbiotic relationship with TV in the same way horse racing and bookmakers exist.”
    I don’t think so!
    That description of the relationship between TV and football is surely NOT the same as bookies and horse-racing?
    Football and bookmakers already have a similar relationship!
    Symbiosis requires that the relationship benefits, in sustainable balance, both organisms.
    Perhaps it’s in the definition of “Footballâ€? as one of the organisms that my objection lies to your comparison or claim, that the relationship between TV networks and “Footballâ€? is, by nature, symbiotic.
    Some aspects, components, sub-organisms, organs even, call them what you like, are undoubtedly benefiting big-time from the relationship. But there are others which are being eroded or disadvantaged. And unless we are prepared at some time in the future to redefine what we call “Footballâ€? then we’d better remain alert to the changes which this, in my view, pseudo-symbiotic relationship is likely to produce. Like Gam£ 39.
    I take a more cynical view of this relationship than you clearly do.
    I veer towards intrinsically “Parasiticâ€? rather than symbiotic. Parasites can exhibit symbiotic characteristics (resulting in AV’s turkey’s voting for Christmas)! But once the parasite has extracted what it needs from the donor organism, it will move on to the next, to sustain its growth!
    Or as Anthony says, it has used pseudo-symbiotic characteristics to gain position but is really that Trojan Horse which once inside and influential, is going to change the fundamental nature of the host organism. And it doesn’t care one jot what debris it leaves in its wake. It has no conscience.
    Clearly, some entities and people are like that. But personally, I prefer a cleaner world!
    (Damn! I spoilt it at the end! And I was working SO hard to stay emotionally detached!)

  12. About these lists of wealthy clubs – I wouldnt look to deep into them. A few years ago Sampdoria where in the top 10,a year later they where bankrupt and then relagated,
    **AV writes: The lists also show Manchester United as the first or second richest whereas in fact they made a record £60m loss this year because all the revenue is going straight into servicing the massive debt loaded on the club as part of the Glazer’s leveraged takeover.

  13. Rocky is like eating a packet of Revels you just don’t know what you are gonna get next, one minute he is beating a couple of players and hitting a 30yrd pass to a team mates feet. The next he fluffs a easy 4yrd square pass…very strange!!
    I do think however that he has improved 10 fold on last season…but still not fully convinced….and without having a go the lad is dreadful at dead balls, why does he keep taking them??…he must do something in training.
    Anyhow jury still out (after 2 seasons) so I’m not gonna give the lad stick as he is now a translator for the Fonz..”happy days”..sorry poor pun ha.

  14. Si, Dave Connor and the other Si
    When Rochemback first joined us, and for most of last season , my brother used to call him the Brazilian from Hartlepool, as his talent was obviously much more Pool than Flamengo. (With apologies to Pool fans.)
    However, this season he’s been a revelation. I never thought I would see the day when Rocky was played as the main ball-winner / holding midfielder, but it’s happened.
    He clearly merits his place against Boat and the Catt. Sheff Utd wasn’t his kind of game – he certainly couldn’t spray his passes around – but boy did he get stuck in! Reminded me of Jamie Pollock!
    So whereas I once wanted shot of him, I’ve changed my mind. He is for me Boro’s most improved player, and I can see him feeding loads of delicious through balls to Alves’ feet.

  15. Richard
    Without straying too much into a biological argument – I still think the relationship between TV and football is symbiotic as parasites do not generally offer any benefit to the host.
    Most football clubs now receive the majority of their income from TV deals – plus other sponsorship deals have increased primarily due to the TV exposure the companies gain.
    In addition, TV companies like Sky and more recently Setanta gain either a majority or substantial percentage of their income from football related subscriptions.
    So take away the TV money and many clubs would quickly go under – Take away football and subscription TV companies would no longer be in profit.
    And I can’t agree with the idea that TV companies are in it for the short-term before moving on to the next sport – Football is the biggest sport on the planet and they know it.
    Professional football today is a Darwinian struggle of the survival of the fittest – opting out from the commercial side of the game would leave teams like Boro bouncing along between League 1 and 2.
    Of course that doesn’t mean I agree with a money-driven system of football – it just means I realise that the genie is not going back into the bottle any time soon and each club must choose to either compete or lay down and die.

  16. Soccer/Football is as you all know big business and will dictate where to it will go.Global it has to be, just a matter of when not if.Here in Oz it will be welcomed by many I have converted lots of locals here in Adelaide into Boro fans.Liverpool on their recent form pose no threat to us on Sat.Then Shef Utd Cardiff and yes another final beckons.

  17. Clive
    Allowing for a little bit of poetic licence this is part of an email sent to my scouse colleague
    ‘If Rochemback and Arca play well we may torture your back four with pace and movement, if they play like they can do they will be trying dragbacks and flicks just outside the box – ours -and we will get battered.’
    That I think sums up the problem with the Latin Likely Lads. At their best they really drive the team forward but when they are bad they are a real liability.
    They are a sort of poor mans Paul Scholes without real top notch players around them, they certainly went to the same school for tackling. Sadly they didnt include ahootung on the curriculum.
    Boat of course simplifies things, his passes tend to go straight to the opposition without any need for fancy footwork. Cat has better distribution than boat but also has a more ‘energetic’ approach to tackling.
    I am predicting a Lawro prediction of 2-0 to Liverpool.

  18. The wheeze of the Premier League to play a 39th game every season on foreign soil was dressed up as a diplomatic mission to sell our game abroad, but the key word here is “sell”. Having seen gridiron American football attract a full house to Wembley, the elite of English football dreamed of exporting their product in turn.
    The Saudis are keen – so long as each agme features at least one of Man utd, Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea, and preferably 2. What they really want is a kind of football Harlem globetrotters – and who ever recalls the opposition from those games.
    Actually it was a regular supporting cast masquerading under a different fictitious club name every so-called “game”.
    Football in England is approaching another transformation. The biggest clubs are now so big as to render continued competition increasingly less relevant. Previously charismatic events (the FA Cup, the Carling Cup) are becoming less and less important. The Champions’ League is becoming, de facto, more important than any national contest. And ordinary fans are being priced out of their seats by a passionless corporate crew.
    But history shows that dominant sports do not always remain dominant if they overlook the interests of their spectators.
    Fifa are only in charge of world football because they say they are, and their concerns are driven by self-interest. The same is true, on lesser scales, of Uefa and the FA. None of these bodies seems likely to act in the best interest of ordinary fans so long as the money and the votes keep rolling in.
    As regards Game39 the FA can be bought off simply by the PL agreeing a sweetener to pay for the National Coaching Centre which the FA are struggling to fund now over the soaring costs of replacing Wembley.
    And what do the main clubs of the world care about FIFA and national “governing bodies”? Already the clubs bicker about compensation for players going off to play for their countries and threaten to boycott international games and even FIFA competitions as major as the equivalents of our Euro championships in other continents.
    Kerry Packer showed with his cricket circus that when it came to the crunch TV would sponsor any breakaway which featured the leading world players and leave the self-proclaimed governing bodies high and dry. The Premier League itself was set up in the face of FA opposition and initial sanction or recognise the breakaway from the Football League.
    The big clubs leaving their national bodies for a World series style competition of their own making played wherever will pay to host them is inevitable. Its just a case of when.

  19. yes rocky has improved greatly this season, largely due to the fact he is being played in his best position finally, so to me its no surprise case of square pegs and that
    think he won either portuguese player of the season or sporting player of the season two years in a row in his current position.

  20. Scott Jackson , I was one of the people saying Aliadierre was not a striker and should be played on the right wing but I have changed my tune and think his along with Tuncay’s and Downing’s pace is very effective.
    I also agree about the great developing partnership between O’Neil and Young down the right you mentioned.
    What with Rochenbach’s improving form its just a case of what might have been this season ,if those injuries had not disjointed the team so much then who knows.
    Apart from the bun fight at Bramall Lane we have been playing some great football which was diluted slightly by Tuncays hamstring against Blackburn.
    Looking forward to the Liverpool game!

  21. Dave Conner, yes we are all entitled to our opinions and that why i didnt speak down to you in any way. I am just making my point on Rocky.
    You arent a big fan of Rocky, thats fine but dont you think calling him one of our worst players is a bit harsh?
    As many others has backed up how good and how valuable he has been this season. As someone said, on Sunday it wasnt a game where rocky could have time on the ball because of the quick closing down of sheff Utd (arca struggled a lot more with this) but Rocky got stuck in and it meant we werent overrun in midfield.
    I have always liked him because of the talents that he clearly had, now he is showing them a lot more consistently, the amount of ground he covers in the game is great, he is a workhorse but has the ability to open teams up aswell. Heck even his name gets chanted at nearly every game now.

  22. Ian
    I like your e-mail to the Scousers! Let’s hope the real Arca and Rocky turn up, as this game is our biggest challenge for some time. I have great confidence in the back-four, and I can see them holding Liverpool, but we’ll need Arca and Rocky to keep a tight rein on Gerrard and Mascherano. They might be too busy holding the midfield to be very creative this weekend!
    Personally I’d have a go at Liverpool, cos they won’t be expecting it. I would certainly go 442, with Aliadiere and Mido up front, and Tuncay and Alves on the bench to provide extra fire-power and pace if we need it.
    No sign of Lawro’s predictions yet, Ian. You’re right, he will definitely go for a home win. But it’s always a joy to see just what a crap tipster he is!
    By the way, ahootung wasn’t on our school curriculum either! (Sorry!)

  23. Clive
    Liking Boro wasnt on Mr Pickersgill’s curriculum at school either. The whole rugby squad got locked in the gym and lambasted for asking if we could play in the morning so we could watch Boro in the afternoon.
    As for spelling mistakes, 40 years ago I couldnt spell enjinear now I is one, though no longer doing it for a living.
    There is a danger in wishing the real Rocky and Arca turn up because nobody knows which is which.
    And Lawro’s prediction was 2-0 to Liverpool though predicting that wasnt difficult. If we were practising attacking corners at Rockcliffe he would still predict us to lose 2-0.

  24. A question for Robin Mitton:
    Since you are based in France, do you do courses in French (or any other language for that matter, other than the obvious) for people like me who are already fluent in English?
    Just a thought, as most people in this country haven’t a clue about foreign languages. Quite a few aren’t very good at English! I think it would be worth putting some courses on for this.
    There is a chance I may work abroad in the future, so knowledge of a foreign language would be of benefit to me (if I ever do work abroad).

  25. From the BBC Gossip column:
    Keeper Mark Schwarzer is set to leave Middlesbrough in the summer after 11 years at the Riverside. (Sun)
    Any truth in this gossip? Is he under contract? Lets hope Southgate is already on the case for a replacement, I’d love to see Steve Harper, though for some reason he seems content to earn his thousands sitting on the bench every week.
    **AV writes: Schwarzer is out of contract in the summer. The club made an offer some time ago but Schwarzer wants a three year deal and the club only offered two so it was rejected. Then there was some ritual dancing. As far as I am aware that offer is still on the table.

  26. **AV writes: That will rebound on you when we get PSG in the UEFA Cup next year.
    Do you realise that Paris are probably even worse than the Geordies at this moment in time. Cross that “exotic” city off Boro’s European adventure next season.

  27. AV
    Wow, I can understand why the Geordie Lurker keeps of your post – he is baffled by this talk of pseudo symbiotic relationships. Mind the only one I can think of between Kevin keegan and his hair!
    I feel that this 39th game business is a sprat to catch a mackerel. The big teams want their own Super League that they can export around the world. Wherever it is played Boro versus Wigan is not going to put many bums on seats, whereas Real Madrid versus Bayern Munich followed by Man Utd versus Inter Milan would.
    The sooner this happens the better, the top four have it all their own way, no penalties allowed against them, play an extra ten minutes to allow Man Utd to get the equalizer, ball almost in the back of the net but not over the line etc.
    A Super Championship could be formed with player salary caps, no transfers during the season, limited TV coverage and watch the crowds flow back. It won’t happen of course

  28. All teams have strenghts and weaknesses even the big boys.
    As JP stated sitting back at Anfield will invite pressure which would suit Liverpool down to the ground. If they have a relative weakness I would look at the back four. All defenders hate pace and Liverpools are not the quickest side in the premiership.
    I believe Carragher is suspended and Agger may come in. So play Midriff up against Agger who has good movement and pace but is not the most physical of players. Play Aliadiere off Hypia’s shoulder into the channels to exploit his lack of space.
    The rest is a matter of denying possession and territory, being economical with the ball. Plus a large helping of good luck.

  29. ” Nigel wrote…
    Horace – surely the ‘only a small town’ tag is used as a source of pride by Boro fans rather than a negative.
    Middlesbrough is a small town which has produced a relatively ‘big’ and succesful football club, something we are all proud of. I think most Boro fans are aware that there are many towns and cities in England with far far less successful football teams than Boro.
    However the fact is the size of the fan base ultimately determines how much cash the club has and therefore limits the success it can achieve. ”
    I hear what you say mate and do think that this is how it started out, and quite rightly so. But of late I’ve always thought that this phrase was used by many as justification for the ambition we lacked over the last few years and our inability to communicate with fans and make fans feel ” inclusive and integral ” to the club.
    I am however over the moon to see that the winds of change are blowing and that the good ship Boro is getting back on track.
    I do agree wholeheartedly with the second part of what you say and I am VERY PROUD of what has been achieved.
    My only concern remains GS and his ability to deliver. I’m not yet convinced that he’s the man that will deliver what we all want. But let’s hope I’m wrong.
    That said, the FA Cup may well be a massive feather in his cap and I am really starting to get excited about the possibility of a final place, which would be an truly extraordinary achievement if it can be done.
    Here’s hoping. We have a great chance as long as we take one game at a time and focus and truly give 100% each and every time.
    I really do hope we can pull it off as a final spot would be such a lift to the whole town and area.
    GOGOGO BORO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. There’s nothing to loose tomorrow from taking a positive approach and it may just pay off in the form of one or three points. Anfield is one date on the calender where I pencil in ‘nul points’ I cant remember when we last won there – was it when Alan Foggon was up front?

  31. I like Rocky and it winds me up when some fans slate him without even watching what he contributes although I guess some people just have to put the boot into a player or theres no point going the match.
    He struggled in his first season because there was no pace so no one made the runs to pick up his killer balls. When Juninho did that people said the rest “weren’t on his wavelength”. Now more people are on Rocky’s wavelength, they are making runs and far more of his balls are hurting teams.
    With Alves and Tuncay on the pitch as well as Ali, Downing and O’Neil there will be loads of movement up front and Rocky should look even better.
    I just wish people who stop slagging Boro players for TRYING to do something a bit different because we need that to unlock the other team and bring the best out of the good players we got.
    Danny G

  32. I like Rocky and it winds me up when some fans slate him without even watching what he contributes although I guess some people just have to put the boot into a player or theres no point going the match.
    He struggled in his first season because there was no pace so no one made the runs to pick up his killer balls. When Juninho did that people said the rest “weren’t on his wavelength”. Now more people are on Rocky’s wavelength, they are making runs and far more of his balls are hurting teams.
    With Alves and Tuncay on the pitch as well as Ali, Downing and O’Neil there will be loads of movement up front and Rocky should look even better.
    I just wish people who stop slagging Boro players for TRYING to do something a bit different because we need that to unlock the other team and bring the best out of the good players we got.
    Danny G

  33. I see in todays “Standing up To The Big Boys” article 23rd Feb, Steve Gibson says
    “Teesside’s finest are able to punch above their weight largely thanks to their Rockliffe Park training ground and Riverside Stadium.
    “Since the end of last season, Boro have been able to attract highly-rated Turkey international Tuncay Sanli and Brazilian hotshot Afonso Alves.
    “Two seasons in Europe significantly lifted the club’s worldwide profile, but Gibson has highlighted the role the training ground and the stadium played.”
    Nice to see Steve Gibson shares my views about Boro being quite a high profile club these days.
    I just wish that the “we are a small club, small time charlies” would come round to the same way of thinking, and preferably lose this newly found and ridiculous obsession with Newcastle.
    Most of the time these obsessives appears to make Boro the club and the town look like it has an inferiority complex.
    Maybe the small town small club, geordie obsessed brigade of Boro fans DO have some sort of inferiority complex but there certainly is no reason to have one.

  34. My GOD!!!!
    Manchester and Chelsea out of the FA Cup with only portsmouth to worry about!
    Hopefully its ours this season!!!

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