Faust, Glory And The Fear Of Relegation

WOULD you trade Boro’s Premiership place for FA Cup glory? I would. After all that is what all those playground dreams were about weren’t they? Climbing the steps, wiping a sweaty hand across a mud-spattered shirt before shaking the queen’s mitt, then raising aloft the famous old trophy to ecstatic cheers, not playing out the season in grey spirit-crushing mediocrity but with a massive cheque for surviving the annual top flight cull. It is about heroes not accountants.


The Gazette posse talked about the key dichotomy in the modern game – sporting success versus financial success, or more accurately the fear of the spectre of financial failure, and how a club like Boro can square that circle – with famous football fundamentalist philosopher Bernard J Slaven on the long haul back from London after the Arsenal game.
I recognise the vital need for clubs to compete financially, to have their noses in the TV trough or be left behind, to exploit every possible revenue stream and to be inside the Premiership money bubble at all costs but there is an equally compelling dynamic in that clubs must give supporters a reason to believe, they must offer hope, ambition and excitement and for the crowd there is little to stir the heart in water-treading number-crunching.
To that end, losing against Cardiff was an unmitigated disaster that could yet be an epoch defining moment. Having been teased with the glint of glory and come within hotel booking distance of a childhood dream come true, a mid-table finish and the chance of another next year and the one after and so on and so on ad infinitum until Boro morph into Coventry, cemented into 12th spot for eons will be hard to sell as a vision of success.
If the surrender to Cardiff snuffs out the narcotic flame of passion then thousands could walk away, disillusioned and infected fatally with the corrosive cynicism that gripped a lost generation after the defeat at Wolves in 1981. It is a problem that the club must think seriously about now and tackle head on in the summer.
Fans need the prospect of glory. That is what will electrify the crowd, stir hearts and help the club push on. The die hards will dig in through the mid-table marathon of a league campaign in any division but it is only the realaistic prospect of silverwear and tangible success that will set Teesside alight with passion and bring back the Riverside Roar. Which is why missing out on Wembley is such a kick in the teeth. I wrote as much in the Big Picture column in the steam-driven paper Gazette this week.
“Only a late ‘handball’ shout at Villa denied Boro a win at the UEFA Cup hopefuls then an Arsenal corner that should have been a Boro free-kick led to the Gunners’ leveller after an inspirational defensive display at the Emirates. With two industrious performances and two bonus points Boro have restored some pride, taken a step towards rehabilitation and raised hopes of not just avoiding the drop but doing so with ease.
But I would still willingly trade the two restorative displays for victory over Cardiff. In fact, I could easily have accepted bruising defeats in those two games had we now been gleefully planning a semi-final trip to Wembley.
And – yes, I know this is heresy in an era when a turgid 12th place in the money machine of the Premier League is the Holy Grail of Boro sized clubs – I would go so far as sealing a Faustian pact with the devil and trade relegation for a guaranteed FA Cup final win.
After all, the pre-Cardiff big cards display spelled out exactly what the club should be about – and what chairman has repeatedly said it is about – the pursuit of “Sporting Gloryâ€?, not ‘Annual Survival By The Skin Of Our Teeth’. Ultimately, it is glory that supporters want. They are willing to put up with the interminable years of failure, under-achievement and habitual mediocrity if that pergatory is to be rewarded by the moments of ecstacy that come with success, to be there as history is shaped, to have a ‘Cardiff moment’… when that meant a good thing.”

Of course it is hypothetical. The FA won’t let us do the trade – but if we could would you? So far posing the question has brought responses falling into two distinct camps: either “yes, of course, I would willingly give up my right testicle to see Boro win the cup” or “no, don’t be a doyle – if we go down we may never get back – look at Forest and Leeds.”
I understand the fears and appreciate that the club big wigs will see that the preservation of top flight safety and the continuation of the generous revenue streams it brings is the priority – but that does not quicken the pulse does it? For supporters having the money to have another tilt at 12th next year is not ‘Sporting Glory’.
Again, it is hypothetical. I don’t want the club to go down. I don’t want to play Barnsley in the league. *Shudder*. I am not one of the puritanical faction that would welcome the Championship as an antidote to the Mammon of the top flight, some kind of spiritual born again simplicity. No thanks.
But if such a a relegation came with a copper bottomed promise of winning under the iconic arch come may then I would certainly accept the consequence in return for glory. It is NOT the end of the world. After all, we are all battle scarred survivors of relegations past. We have been there before and come back and powered by Premiership parachute payments the odds would be stacked heavily in our favour.
But we have never won the FA Cup. We have never had our name engraved on the knockout trophy that we fantasised about on the playground. We haven’t tasted that particular glory.
Life outside the Premiership may be frightening but it does exist. And there is no saying that it would not be the galvanising, inspirational moment the club need: the FA Cup in the cabinet, Thursday night UEFA Cup football and exotic trips abroad again and the almost unknown quantity of playing week-in, week-out in a competitive league and one where we were actually among the big boys. A saluatory spell outside the myopic Premiership may have recharged the batteries, given us a fresh perspective and relit the fires of passion.
Or maybe I am just a romantic fool.

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44 thoughts on “Faust, Glory And The Fear Of Relegation

  1. Too right. I’d take the FA cup and relegation any day. I’ve seen many relegations, but remember that without relegation there can be no promotion.
    My greatest footy highs have been promotion days. Dickie Rooks, John Hickton, O’Rourke. Oxford obliging again. I even supported Boro the first time they were in Div 3, and that was a cracking season culminating in a great escape.
    In fact I’d almost sign up for an FA cup win and then dying from a heart attack. My life will be complete the day Boro lift the FA cup. And yes, black Sunday hurt like hell.
    I was surprised when Gareth said it felt like a death in the family. I didn’t realise he felt as I did. Anyway, can’t change past history. But the future is still to be written.
    The team will be forgiven black sunday – the day they lift the cup. Cheers.

  2. Steady on AV – after giving up your right testicle for a FA Cup victory what would be next? giving up your left testicle for a place in the Champions League?
    Though at least in the future you’d be more comfortable sitting on the fence when commenting on the Boro.
    However, I think Mrs Vickers would call you more than a romantic fool after examing the trophy cabinet.
    BTW: For the record I wouldn’t swap a modern devalued FA Cup for a place in the Premier League.

  3. AV – whilst I understand and emphathise with your romantic notions,I for one would not trade FA cup glory for relegation.
    The reaction of Boro fans against the awful defeat against Cardiff is now beyond melodramatic. It was a truly awful defeat but no one died. We live to fight another day and to claim another chance.
    I watched Sports Relief on Friday night and saw true pain and suffering (and i am not referring to Chris Moyles on a treadmill). We lost an important football match. Yes, perhaps one of the most significant in our history but as far as I am aware nobody died of malnutrition (not even Mido) or Aids. We messed up big time but we need to stop harping on about it and get a sense of perpective.
    The most pivotal moment of our history was winning the Carling Cup but has that led to increased success for Boro? I think not.
    The fan base has actually dwindled and whilst it was without doubt one of the happiest days of my life I don’t think it has really changed anything at the club.
    Fans now have higher expectations and the club simply cannot meet them. The relationship between fans and the club has deteriorated. The plus points from winning the Carling Cup are that the opposition cannot taunt us with our lack of success, we can ask geordies what it’s like to win a cup, and of course, the UEFA cup run.
    However THE UEFA Cup run the year after was not gained by winning a cup. It was gained by achieiving results week in and week out in the Premiership. This is where we need to be.
    Cup success is 15 minutes of fame, relegation to the Championship would be a long journey into oblivion. Look at the likes of Coventry and Southampton Vickers and be careful what you wish for!
    COME ON BORO!!

  4. We should have done both AV, we should have beaten Cardiff , we will stay up anyway as we are playing well enough to stay up .
    Win the cup and go Championship , win it again and go div 2 and so on . No ta.
    It was great to see us do Arsenal at the Riverside and nearly again at the Emirates.
    With our team playing better against the big boys what would we do in the championship where the highlight of the season is playin bleeding Hull. Sorry Hull fans, I had to pick someone, you are not Man U and you never will be!

  5. Swap this for that.. Can’t stand the argument!
    What we need is for the players to approach each game with drive, determination and hopefully creative footballing expression!
    Titles, trophies & medals! That’s what we want & it’s what the players should want too. The premier league is media hyped, it’s only good for the 3 clubs challenging for the title. The rest it’s just a plod & that’s why the football is so poor. It keeps players in big cars & houses and the fans pay for the privilege of mediocrity.
    Even Gibbo said we’re not going to win the Premier League or Champions League. Maybe Mogga is unrealistic to try & recreate Ipswich, Forest, Wimbledon style campaigns.
    Gibbo may be right, I hope not, myself I’d rather have drive & determination and a will to win than accept we’ll never compete. Porto won the Champions League, Greece won the Euro championships. Titles & trophies can be won, it needs quality management with drive & vision.
    The competitive Championship would offer a better spectacle, and as you say, relit the fires of passion.. That burn feebly in both fans & players in the uncompetitive, unsurprising and underachieving Premiership.
    League Cup, FA Cup & sporting glory has to be chased each and every game! Because if it isn’t why do we bother to turn up? To, as Dive Kitson said, retain Premiership status over the FA Cup?? Why to keep the players in bling?
    What do Boro do next season? Use all the TV money to give the underachieving payers more money or pass some of that cash to the fans by creative season ticket prices?
    If you think you’ll end up 12th, you might just get relegated! If you play to win, you just might!

  6. Come and live with my wife AV she will have your right ball for nowt and you can forget the cup!
    **AV writes: That wasn’t the deal on the table.

  7. The Olympian ideal is not the winning it is the taking part.
    Well folks, we did neither in the Cardiff match and that is what got people angry.
    I have weakened in my resolve not to go to the Derby match, let us hope the players do the same and actually turn up for a change at the Riverside.
    Another abject capitulation would at least save the cost of posting out season ticket renewal forms.
    See what you have done AV, made me angry again. I can cope with losing matches in any competition, a disaster is when the crops fail in Africa or a tidal wave sweeps a Pacific island. Failing to turn up to play a game we dreamt about as kids was a disgrace.

  8. I’d take a win at Wembley any day.
    Actually, one of my best seasons supporting Boro was when we went down last time. Trips to grounds I’d never visited – Bury anyone when we went top?
    To win the FA Cup would be out of this world. The best day I ever had in football was at Cardiff with my daughter when we won the Carling Cup. How ironic then that it was Cardiff who ended this year’s dreams.
    Football is more real outside the PL – we won’t ever win the title and we all know it – to get into Europe again would be great but I’d settle for doing it by winning the FA Cup.
    When we lost to West ham in the semis it was bad enough but for Cardiff to do us in the quarters is the equivalent of Devon Lock falling with the post in sight.
    I may never recover – I should have quit after the Carling Cup win!

  9. Of course you dont get a choice but if we did then like you I would choose to win the FA Cup every time.
    How can you be a fan and not choose to win a trophy? That’s the whole point. I cant believe people who would pick 12th place over winning at Wembley. Haven’t they got a soul?

  10. No I wouldnt swap the cup for the premiership. I sort of take pride that our club is in the top league, always having hope we can break into the higher level.
    We also get more coverage in the top league, has anyone even heard of Charlton since 06/07? Where would we be without the classic 11.55pm Boro highlights on Match of the Day?
    The FA Cup would have been fantastic but going to e.g. Colchester, Swansea etc on a cold wet Tuesday evening on a regular basis next year isnt something I would enjoy even if the FA cup was the trade.
    Plus Championship football is absolutely awful, you cant sit through 10 minutes of the games, not to mention the 10k attendances we would get.

  11. That people would even consider a future of long-term mid-table mediocrity in a rigged competition more desirable than an unforgettable moment of glory shows that the money men have won: some supporters have started to believe that financial results are what matter.
    The Premiership is a racket designed to pour vast sums of TV money into the coffers of the already super-rich elite in which clubs like Boro are complicit.
    The also rans turn a blind eye to being systematically shafted in return for the chance to squabble over the crumbs from the top table.
    To think that success, or glory, or integrity can come from finishing relatively higher up in a rotten, uneven competition that is skewed by the differences in resources is shameful.
    Success is wanting to win things. It is living not just existing. Yes, just being up there is something to be proud of, but to what end? Finishing 13th for ever is the recipe for stagnation, sterility and a shrinking crowd with no motivation, no vision, no dream.
    Sporting Glory.

  12. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but on balance I think 2 points against Villa and Arsenal is a better return than a win against Cardiff.
    I’m for the longer term and staying in the PL. A cup chance will come again if we continue our forward momentum, although it’s unlikely we will ever have a better chance.
    I have to admit that from the moment I woke up on Sunday morning and read the overnight results from Blighty to find Man U and Chelsea knocked out my guts started churning – I don’t think I would have played well on the Sunday either!
    I do wonder how things would have turned out back in the days before TV bought football and all teams kicked off at the same time on the same day – certainly the extra psychological pressure would have been off.
    It’s also important to remember that a win against Cardiff still left us only in the Semi’s – some of the recent comments on this blog suggest the cup was as good as won if we had beaten Cardiff. I’m sure an ex-Captain of ours would have had some different ideas, amongst others.
    Anyway, I’m back on board – and no Faustian pact for me. Three points for the Boro on Saturday and WBA for the cup!

  13. Wembley, Cardiff, Eindhoven. Just about all my memorable high-points in 30 plus years supporting Boro have been in cups. There’s no doubt that the money shot is in getting to finals. That is what excites us and gets the town buzzing.
    But football is a business too. In fact, these days it is a business first and TV money in the Prem has paid the wages of all the big name stars that got us to Wembley, Cardiff and Eindhoven and if we go down and lose that money there is no guarantee we will ever get back.
    For me the real question is not what the fans want but what Gibbo wants. If he thinks survival in the big league is better long term for Boro than winning the cup that is good enough for me.

  14. Walmsleys
    I was at Bury that day we went top, mate! Mikkel Beck – gerrin! “We are toptheleague, say we are toptheleague!”
    Aye it was an exciting season, but also a nerve-racking one, and I often wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. I suspect we might have gone into a downward spiral a la Coventry or Wednesday.
    Instead we went on to become the highly respected Prem club we are today, with a very positive and enviable record in Cups (Cardiff notwithstanding) and Europe.
    So more seasons in the Championship (a misnomer if ever I heard one) are not for me – it’s an incredibly hard league to get out of. Just look at Wolves.
    Besides I like seeing Boro featured every week on MoTD and given a high profile nationally ( if we think the media is against us, what must it be like to be Stoke or Burnley?).
    I like the fact that we’ve given Arsenal a bloody nose and made a few people sit up and notice. I like having our players playing for England, and I like the fact that we are able to attract very talented international stars to Boro.
    I do want to win the FA Cup, but I want to stay in the Prem more. And I’m not talking about endless mid-table finishes. That’s defeatism. We’ve been in Europe twice and we will be again. We should be aiming for it every year; there is no reason why we can’t be better than Pompey, Villa or Everton. And there’s no reason why we can’t win either the FA or Carling Cup.
    So Come on Boro!

  15. Even in the hyporthetical sense, it’s Premier League status for me, hands down.
    I would have loved to have at least got to the FA Cup Final, but not at the cost of big league survival.
    I have absolutley no desire to watch “real” football, as someone put it, at places like Sheffield, Watford or anywhere else.
    Apart from the fact it would be a financial calamity, I fear we would not get back into the top league for many years. The club could implode.
    I enjoy us being seen as big scalp for teams like Cardiff, although I did not and will never understand nor fogive the manner of that defeat.
    I like being in there with the big boys, turning them over now and again, that feeling would disapear completely should we drop a league along possibly with a another large chunck of our fragile fan base.
    So a resounding no from me Vic.

  16. Yes AV.you are a romantic fool !
    The defeat against Cardiff left all of us angry and bemused but to get relegated would be a disaster.
    We have waited a generation for regular top class football,have some great young players and with some proven Prem player signings in the summer can get about the top teams and regular top ten finishes.
    We have the best chairman in English football. I dont see a queue of investors at the doors of the Riverside willing to cover a £10m loss every year. Just imagine how Gibbo felt after Cardiff !
    We need more support not less. Look at our North East neighbours Newcastle and particularly Sunderland. If either of them had our record since 1997 they would be extending the capacity of their stadiums to 60,000 +
    Cardiff was a humiliation but so was Barnsley for Chelsea. Let’s get over it and channel the anger into support !
    Investors like Gibson come once in a lifetime lets support him and the lads !

  17. Was there something wrong with the comment I left last night, Vic? Was it the word “bugger”?
    Yours confusedly…
    **AV writes: I can’t see any comment at all from you last night on here LJ. Are sure you pressed the right button? Or posted it on the right board?

  18. The Premiership is not all it is cracked up to be. The quality of games is poor, I reckon 80% of games have been rubbish over the last five years.
    To say we have to stay up or we will all die is nonsense. If we stay where we are for another five years we will all be brain dead watching the same rubbish in front of 15,000 crwods.
    I for one would rather have a moments glory at Wembley and be able to tell my grand-kids I saw Boro win the FA Cup than be stuck in this mediocrity for ever.

  19. I think it’s time for everybody to do themselves a favour and put the Cardiff match to bed.
    It’s pointless harping on about it as neither the result or the performance is going to improve. It’s just one in a long line of missed opportunities over the years-Wolves Orient etc
    I can even remember under Rioch as a top flight team when we lost at home to Grimsby who were in the bottom league with an appalling performance. This is what happens in cup competitions.
    I am not going to give an answer to the question but make a comment as to why the question is being asked. If you check the bookies odds at the start of next season for the league you will find you can back any team but the so called big4 at virtually whatever odds you like.
    It is a closed shop with only four runners -everybody else is making up the numbers. In the cups you do have a chance because its only six games and some of them can be against lower opposition. That is why it hurts so badly.
    We need to stay in the top flight in the sense that we have more of a chance in the cup competitions with top flight players and better players than without.

  20. Heart felt article AV and I would love to win the FA Cup. I dreamed of it when i was a kid and watched religously from 8am on a saturday as the teams left the hotels and weaved there way up to the wembley gates in the coaches with hoards of fans by its side.
    However Championship football can not be and must not be contemplated. The premier league is the best in the world and we must be a part of it.
    Yes it is tedious and un competative at times but it still fills my heart with pride to see us on MotD on a saturday nigth parmo in hand. you dont get that in the championship.
    And if MFC were to go down what type of players could we attract? Yes we would be in europe but how would we qualify for it the next season and what type of campaign would it be with the sole ambition promotion?
    Europe was a fantastic achievement but the best way to get back is by being in the premier league, we must stay in this league and continue to build and improve.
    I believe of any of the teams outside the big 4 in the next few years MFC will have the best chance of playing Champions League football.
    You might think im loosing the plot but the type of football we are trying to play and the number of good performances this season where we have battered teams but not scored give me hope and optimism.
    We can succeed we must be patient and must want the team to achieve its potential.
    COME ON BORO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Like Dave Morrison I grew up in the days when the FA cup coverage started with teams leaving the hotel.
    There are a lot of tedious matches in the premiership but things havent changed. I was at Leeds as a student in the early seventies and watched a fair number of matches played by the ‘great’ Leeds team of that time.
    Many Boro fans supported Leeds as their second team then lo and behold the team that Jack built get promoted.
    People had been fed a diet of top flight football where the producers cut out the dross. I was one of those who had watched plenty of top matches as a neutral and realised how sterile it was. I remember many were disappointed when Leeds came, Sniffer Clarke scored a very good breakaway goal after 30 mins then they shut up shop.
    Many matches were dire then so in some ways many things havent changed. What has changed is that teams like Derby and Forest will never win the title again.
    We can strive to get into the top half and push for europe, to get to next years finals. To ensure we do so lets have three points from Derby.

  22. Just a quick PS.
    I have decided not to post about Cole’s challenge from last night because it wont do any good. I certainly wouldnt want our players to surround and berate officials to help deflect attention, much better to just to take the three and four match bans.
    What a reflection on our game and I truthfully dont want our palyers to harrass officials.
    Did I ever mention what they do in rugby?

  23. Nearly two weeks have passed since the cardiff debarcle, time to move on AV. I know its not an easy thing to forgive and forget but it must happen. Its a cliche to say theres always next year but its true.
    We have been truely blessed with some incredible cup runs over the last few years and the club is going in the right direction.
    In answer to your question would I take relegation and the cup? Yes I would but that is hypothetical situation and these sorts of questions are not helpful.
    Yes we stuffed up but thats part of being a football fan, we take it on the chin and move on. Im sure bolton fans are still kicking themselves for losing in the final to us.
    There will be plenty more opportunities in the future and I am looking forward to seeing how we perform for the remainder of the season, getting to as many games as I can.
    All in all Lovin your work AV, keep up the good work
    **AV writes: It is not something that is reallly eating me up, it was just a hypothetical discussion to kill time on the long journey back from Arsenal.

  24. David Morrison – I agree with you. I think this is all Mr Gibson has been planning. The plan why Boro have the academy and GS, ect.
    Please respect what Gibbo is doing and trust him. I am sure Boro will be in Europe soon – through the League or the Cups! Listen to what Mr Wenger is saying about GS and Gibbo!
    The last hurdle is to win matches against the likes of Derby, Reading and Sunderland. If we’re frightening the Arsenal and Man Utd’s already …

  25. I just had a go on that predictor that some of you have been talkin about and with a prudent set of results I got us in 12th with 44points 7 points behind west ham in 11th.
    Man U top then Chelsea and then Liverpool putting Arsenal in 4th down to goal diff.
    Sunderland just stay up with Wigan and although Fulham leapfrog Bolton both still go down with the Derby-I am not predicting a Derby revival which starts at the Riverside!

  26. Like one of the earliest responses on this thread I agree the “prize” of relegation is the renewed surge of the opportunity for promotion.
    There is no equivalent within the Premiership where the prizes (CL places) are won before a ball is kicked.
    The opportunity to get into the UEFA is a bit like the playoffs for other divisons – virtually everyone else reckons they have a chance to make it but there again there is only 1 place to go for in reality unless the cups go to the big boys.
    Would I swap relegation for an FA Cup win – too right I would. Frankly I would swap another cup final defeat for relegation like the only other time.
    I still rate getting to that FA Cup Final as a bigger schievement than winning the Carling Cup, and reaching the UEFA final as the 2nd biggest day in the club’s history.
    But then so many fans seemed to think it was enough to just make up numbers at those finals and I certainly dont want to count myself with them – I mean just being there on the day with the chance to win even if the players in most cases were as absent as they were against Cardiff.
    Some people say would we want to be like Coventry and Southampton or Leeds and Forest. What is wrong with being non-Premiership? Is it any wonder the media think that football begins and ends with the Champions league quartet when fans talk like this.
    Only the players really benefit through that extra PL money as it all ends up in their pockets and higher admission charges disappear out of the fans pockets to pamper them. The club gets precious little extra out of it.
    My two favourite seasons in over 40 years of Boro watching would be the two spent in the 3rd flight of English football.
    The promotion seasons under Robbo, Jack and Lenny are probably next plus that great two finals season. Sometimes it isn’t just clubs that benefit from a drop in status to get their heads back focussed on what its really all about – the fans need a reality check too.
    The fans of Darlo and Hartlepool dream of being where Coventry or Southampton are today or even of the status of Leeds and Forest. York dream of where Darlo are, the 2 Harrogate clubs of being where York are and the likes of Guisborough and Marske and the two Billingham clubs of being where Harrogate Railway are. This is what football is really all about – not the Premiership.
    Who are the happier fans today, Derby County or Durham City?

  27. David Morrison; like you I think the club is heading in the right direction but realise the gut wrenching disappointment of Cardiff will linger for a long time.
    Perhaps my/our expectations are tempered by the footballing wilderness that we inhabited for the majority of my lifetime.
    I most certainly dont want to ever retutn there, like Coventry and Wimbledon have following one fleeting glorious moment many years ago.
    We need to entertain at home and score some goals in the last few games. People wont renew with the current paucity of goals scored, and I personally would target the Carling Cup as the one to win, just because it seems so much easier to get to the final!
    The Champions League comment makes even me look like a doom- and- gloom merchant David so excuse my wry smile at that one!
    Yes I do get cheesed off, annoyed, frustrated, even bl**dy angry at the team (dont we all) but to me its more than just a club; its a way of life. Sounds crap, but I know many on this board will identify with that.

  28. Jiffy:
    How could getting to the final of the FA Cup without playing a single top-flight club be regarded as a great achievement?
    In fact, this season we could have even won it without playing a top-flight club.
    Even the lower-ranked Premier League sides (and even some Championship sides) field weakened teams these days and only really start to take it seriously when they reach the QF stage.
    Lets face it, Boro were pretty ordinary in their cup run and were lucky to get past Sheff Utd before blowing it against Cardiff.
    So I don’t think many outside Teesside would have hailed Boro as being great achievers – especially as many were bored to tears by our live games and we were generally seen as a poor team.
    Let’s just beat Derby on Saturday and then we can start looking to build a team that’s going to both entertain and win games next season – afterall, that’s what we were promised post-McClaren!

  29. Ian – ref Cole Tackle
    The Football Association cannot take any further action over Ashley Cole’s challenge on Alan Hutton because the Chelsea star was booked for the tackle.
    Referee Mike Riley cautioned Cole for a late and high tackle on the Tottenham defender during Wednesday’s 4-4 draw.
    An FA spokesman told BBC Sport: “The referee saw the incident and dealt with it. We cannot re-referee matches.
    “The player was shown a yellow card at the time and the decision is not then looked at retrospectively.”
    However if the FA want to they can take further action as was in the case of Ben Thatchers assult on Pedro Mendes
    Manchester City defender Ben Thatcher has been charged with serious foul play by the Football Association and suspended by his club following his horrific challenge on Pedro Mendes.
    The ex-Wales international was only booked by referee Dermot Gallagher after hospitalising Mendes with a forearm smash during City’s goalless draw against Portsmouth on Wednesday.
    That would normally have been enough to prevent the FA taking any further disciplinary action, but officials of the game’s governing body felt compelled to act because of the serious nature of the incident.
    I am not comparing the two incidents, however Cole tackle was much worse than many seen this season that have resulted in red cards.

  30. Never Happy,
    The FA are so inconsistent it stinks, I was meant to come on here a week or so ago after believing there was a conspiracy going on.
    Anyway , luckily my alcohol fueled attack on the FA and certain Ref’s was lost when I pressed the wrong button or summut. Either that or AV found the whole thing far to abusive to show?

  31. Hmm….
    interesting article, however i would not trade premiership status for the FA cup, as much as i would love to see us win it.
    As many have stated away trips to Burnley instead of the Emirates would be depressing.
    Anyway, when we go play one of the big boys it is in a sort of way a little cup final for us. Four points from Arsenal this year, when we beat Man Yoo 4-1, Chelsea 3-0 are all examples of why top flight footy is paramount.
    I also study in Newcastle and work in a bar on Gallowgate and could not face the Geordie regulars with their small sneering eyes and smaller brains to match.
    i dont know if this is true but i did read somewhere or on the “grapevine” that Southgate is getting £20-30 million to spend in the summer…
    i would courteously advise Gibson to spend about half or a third of that on a manager and back room staff with proven credentials and experience.
    Last three managers all rookies and I think that is why we are probably one of the most inconsistent teams in the premier league. Too long have I heard comments as “it depends which boro will turn up”.
    Black sunday merely serves to compound this theory as against lower league opposition in the QF of the cup, Boro simply failed to show up. Surely a more experienced manager would have got the players motivated and added more bite to the midfield.
    Hmm….

  32. Not much to shout about in the premier league these days, apart from celebrating staying up again. Fans are becoming bored of the league and crowds are falling.
    Cup games has always brought out the best at the riverside. The FA Cup this year had breathed new life into it.
    I would trade a relegation to win the FA Cup with Boro

  33. Nowt whatsoever to do with this excellent thread, but BBC website is reporting that Roy Keane has brought in Bill Beswick to boost the players’ confidence as they fight to stave off relegation.
    Did Keane never watch Boro when Beswick was here? What price the Mackems for the drop now?

  34. Orange Dave sums up the source of the our dichotomy perfectly: we love playing teams that give us time on the ball and press up; we hate playing teams who close us down and defend deep (note: don’t get your hopes up too much for Saturday).
    And Pat Mc sums up my feelings on your false dichotomy. FA Cup or Prem survival? Kind of ignores the fact that we got to the QFs by beating lower league teams (just), and we still had to beat two more teams after Cardiff… we really weren’t that close after all.
    Plus, the FA Cup comes around every year. Prem status at least gives us a degree of financial clout that means we will keep our best players, be able to attract good new players, and give us a chance of progressing in the cups next year, and the one after, and the one after that…. hopefully.
    If we were relegated, even had we won the cup, all we would have are the memories. I personally like to watch the Boro. I’m far less interested in what some Boro team in the past achieved than I am in what this Boro team is doing right now. And I like it that they are doing it against Arsenal, ManUre, Chelski – not an option when you’re in the Championship. It’s the journey, not the destination.

  35. So:
    8 magic of the FA Cup romantics
    15 hard-nosed Prem Cashcade at all costs realists
    3 existentialists who want to argue the basis of the proposition
    5 who didn’t engage with the question
    1 who thinks I am just stirring it
    1 who misplaced answer
    and
    1 glory-fan gloating.

  36. Stay in the Prem and have another go for a cup or 2 next season. I dont care what some tool in Costa del Darlo says about us not winning a cup of any note.
    The Carling cup started a surge into Europe for the Boro.
    Diablo’s lost his MOJO, he will be tellin me that the Riverside 4-3s to the Boro were dull next. So Blankety Blank mate!

  37. I would never, ever even consider swapping the FA Cup for Premiership status. We are now (or at least should be) an established Premiership club, with a European pedigree to boot (albeit rapidly waning at present).
    This years FA Cup was a once in a 100 year opportunity, never ever to be repeated in our living memory. The manner of the sheer unprofessional exit will rankle for a lifetime and yet another sorry “Typical Boro” tale will be handed down to generations such was the anticlimax.
    Rather than consider swapping our Premier status I expect as a minimum next season a top 8 finish and two good cup runs. This will only be achieved by a radical overhaul of on and off field organisational activities during July and August.
    Top 8 (or even top 6!) is not unrealistic, we have several Internationals in our squad and others starting to shine like Aliadiere and Wheater. Tuncay will have had a season under his belt and hopefully Alves will have assimilated to life with the big boys. This week the Scouse press are touting Cattermole to Liverpool as the new Steven Gerrard! We don’t need much more, on paper at least.
    Anticipation, Inspiration and Motivation, (AIM) is what I and thousands of other Boro fans will be looking for in the coming summer months from the Riverside!

  38. We got the vital points today which is the most important thing from todays game. It should have been more than one nill because i’m always biting my nails at the end!
    I would never swap the premier league status for the FA Cup. Any team in a lower league would love to be in the premier league and we should be glad we are in it.
    It would be great to win the FA Cup, but the reason players love the fa cup from lower leagues is because they get to play against the best players. Like we do every game in the premier league ( most games!)
    Just a thought!

  39. Re: Cardiff game.
    The fault of defeat lies totally with GS.
    Wrong midfield selection. George B should’ve been in there ‘at ’em from the start.
    And just like his predecessors SMc laeving out Massimo in the Euro final and BR leaving out Craig H for Gazza in the other final we could have won.
    Typical Boro management!!!!!!!!!! Bring on Fabio Cap. after his England stint!!!!!!!!!

  40. Werdermouth:
    You asked:
    “How could getting to the final of the FA Cup without playing a single top-flight club be regarded as a great achievement?”
    Sorry for delay replying been away for easter.
    1) Who cares what the rest of the world sees as an achievement I’ll apologise afterwards!
    2) Thats the luck of the draw mate. If you get it its not your fault now is it.
    3) Only 7 Premiership sides have been put out by other Premiership sides – 12 by lower league opposition.
    By that statistic meeting a lower league side every round would paradoxically this season be a tough route to Wembley. We could have pointed to the draw and said we succeeded where everyone else failed.
    I would dispute these days whether the Carling Cup really is the easier one these days. With the big guys & the UEFA Cup entrants getting a bye to the last 16 it means its getting harder for the non-European contenders to get through the latter stages. Also the lack of a replay means no second chances if you get a tough draw away from home.
    I think its a much closer call these days.

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