Phew! Safety At Last.

PHEW. Job done. Pompey seen off in a fixture that could so easily have been staged at Wembley if the season hadn’t taken a frustrating and disappointing detour. Still, two good goals – ironically from set pieces and against a poorly executed man marking system – after a jittery start and the full three points that make the table a less painful read. Sighs of relief all round.

And what could have been a major dropped clanger with the recalled Riggs – the underpass consensus was that he would be never able to motivate himself having been called back from the chance of promotion glory at Stoke – proved a managerial masterstroke as the Emmerdale lookalike defender got his Easter Island head to a superbly delivered corner on 40 minutes. That was his first goal since the Steaua semi-final so he knows when to deliver.
And Tuncay also got in on the act, scoring another from early in the second half, making a well timed run from 12 yards out to get to Stewy Downing’s in-swinger. Boy can he celebrate. He loves every single goal and has a smile as wide as the Transporter when he hits the net. That took him to eight, level with Downing as top scorer (a fact that may just take a little bit of the pressure on Stewy to both create and score).
Tuncay worked his nuts off. He runs and harries and scampers all around the pitch, following the path of the ball and closing in and yapping around defenders’ ankles like a hyper-active Jack Russell in Albert Park. He must have been knackered after the game. His relentless energy and willingness to chase lost causes forces the opposition in mistakes, unsettles them, puts them under the kind of pressure that they should really – but rarely – get from Boro’s slo-mo midfield. No wonder he is adored by the supporters. With a season under his belt and a beefed up engine-room behind him he can finally be ‘spectacular’ next season.
It was a strange game. Boro started slowly: the midfield was the least pacy possible option and given the way Boro had ripped into Bolton in the last home game it seemed crazy not to start with Aliadiere on the right and opt for steady and solid Boateng instead. And on the left Mad Dog seemed out of sorts in the left back role – a string of early Portsmouth attacks scythed through that area and twice Baros went close leaving the Riverside crowd groaning inwardly and there were some audible yelps as the nerves kicked in.
But after 15 minutes Pompey suddenly realised that this wasn’t the cup final and decided to save themselves for the real thing. No matter what professionals say, or their manager’s insist, you can’t tell me that two weeks before the FA Cup final these lads will risk getting crocked or sent off in a 50/50 challenge in a nothing match. And having done enough in that opening spell to assuage any guilt about lack of effort they eased off just enough to let Boro take control.
The players relaxed. The crowd relaxed. And Boro actually played some neat football at times. Downing looked lively on the left, Young was getting forward and over-lapping the Boat on the right to put some good balls in, the ever-frustrating Rochemback had one of his better games and was playing his high-risk flicks and tricks on the edge of the right box and Tuncay and Alves looked to working well together, although despite that Boro still struggled to either pick a way through with the final ball or beat the Land of the Giants backline when crosses came in.
After Riggott scored there was only ever one outcome.Tuncay’s second capped it and there should have been what would have been a delightful third as Tuncay and Rocky combined to pick out Downing in space in the box on 78 minutes but his low shot was well held.
A word for the ref. The officials have taken some stick in recent weeks (and the man in black got his share of the mandatory boos yesterday too, not least when he sent Wheater off for treatment leaving Boro to defend a corner a man down) but he let the game flow, played the advantage law at all times and there was a commendable outbreak of common sense in the second half as Downing and Mvuamba grappled on the by line after the Pompey man had blocked a cross. The ref started running to intervene almost before they hit the ground and by the time the legs and arms started flying he was there to drag them apart. Five yards slowly and one of them could have landed a haymaker.


35 thoughts on “Phew! Safety At Last.

  1. Pheeeeeeeeeeeeeeew indeedy !
    That safety was worth 62 million according to the BBC.
    p.s. wasn’t that the first goal we’ve scored all season from a corner or am I just way too drunk to remember?
    p.p.s roll on Euro 2008 and Forza Azzurri !!!

  2. Done and dusted. sat at home with my wife and daughter watching a DVD and had a nice bottle of wine. Even pleased we were on so late on MOTD.
    That second goal in a match is crucial, scoring in both halves and a clean sheet is a real collectors item. Arca said after the match that it was a 90 minute performance, something we have wanted for a while.
    Lets get the boring last day over with and we can start debating ins and outs.

  3. Nice to feel relaxed, even if it is only for one more game.
    It seems odd that our first goal came from the type of build up that has created us such problems lately.
    After reading the current media comments it may end up being more interesting as to who will stay rather than who will come in. I hope the rumours about Wheater, O’neil, Boating prove incorrect.

  4. Now that Boro are safe from relegation, lets hope that he fans are spared from any more of Southgate’s wittering on about “learning lessons” by getting rid of him.
    He is at best a very average manager and Gibson should have “learned his lesson” that Southgate is just not good enough to manage a Premier League team.

  5. Great to be still in P.L. but the reality is that there has got to be big shake up in the management and backroom set up because the club can’t afford the damage sustained as a result of such dreadful home performances this season.
    The midfield is also a key area that needs rejuvenating but whatever the personnel next season the management of them has to be better. It’s the basics of organisation, physical and mental toughness/fitness, finishing, set pieces etc. that needs much more work.

  6. I’m with you all the way Rob, but Gibson loves the national praise that comes from everyone, especially MOTD, about him standing by his managers and I think he does it to further his own ego, rather than to further the club.
    Of all the managers in all the leagues why him??? Can someone please tell me why him? I just don’t see what he sees. Are we a club that just merits rookie managers? Aren’t we good enough to expect more?
    The simple fact of the matter is that he’s a poor rookie manager learning on the job at our expense.
    The facts are clear. The league table doesn’t lie, neither does the FA Cup bottling, or that under his tenure we’ve become one of the clubs that you would tip for relegation or to be thereabouts.
    Is it any wonder why people stay away? I certainly aint paying for him to learn as he goes thats for sure.
    But he thinks we haven’t had a bad season so that’s ok and that he’s building for next year – SHOCKING.
    **AV writes: To be fair Boro have only finished in the top half of the top flight six times in 60 years. Historically a mid-table finish and an FA Cup quarter-final means it hasn’t been a bad season in statistical terms but that is very difficult to sell to people who have sat through the dirges like Reading, Derby, Cardiff, West Ham, Sheffield United and watched a side who are set out to be attacking managing an average of a goal a game.
    The problems for Boro are managing expectation and justifying the hype and the price.

  7. Ok safety at last after a very poor season. That was probably the worst ever, oh and where was the fast flowing, entertaining, goalscoring football Southgate promised???
    Time to go:
    Not one of the above is Premier League class. They are average and not the sort of players to take us into a top 8 finish.
    Oh forgot to add another name to the above list:
    Gareth Southgate!!!
    Time to go Mr Southgate, inexperienced and too naive to be a Premier League manager at the moment.
    Gibbo get you hand into your pocket and buy out Tony Mowbray’s contact as West Brom. He is ‘the man for the job’.
    Just my two pennys worth.

  8. I’m glad that we’re finally out of the relegation mire. It’s going to be an interesting final day.
    I’m wondering what everyone makes of the reports that the Man City owner is ready to fire Sven…or that Avram Grant’s job is not 100% secure.
    Boro and those “foreign-owned” clubs seem to occupy opposite ends of a loyalty spectrum, with Gibbo willing to stick with his man through thick and thin, and the others being a little too trigger happy for my liking.
    Next season must surely be make or break for Gate. The team is now one that he has pretty much assembled. I think most of us agree that we HAVE to improve our midfield. I think that there are cheap(ish) players out there that would be great signings…Michael Tonge, Jason Koumas (still can’t understand why we never bid for him)…
    One last point…rumours on some websites suggest that several of Man City’s stars want away from the club.
    Tony Black, what do you think of City’s situation?

  9. Well sat in the South Stand through a very nervy opening spell yesterday until Riggot delivered the goods. Not sure if the fans nerves transmitted to the players or vice versa.
    Anyway full marks to Riggs who was back to playing at his best with a supremely confident display so much so that I think Gareth should consider keeping him and offloading Huth. Cometh the hour cometh the man! Well done and thanks Riggs.
    That said there was still the same old frailties from the same old usual suspects struggling away in midfield. We desperately need an overhaul in the middle of the park come the summer.

  10. Trying to excited about next season but can’t.
    If Pompey had not been in the cup final and therefore going for final European spot in the league I dread to think how Boro would have fared
    I think the southgate experiment should be stopped now really. I know there are well argued reasons of our lack of progress under Southgate but i do believe that our back room staff is fundamentally flawed. Coops and whoever I do not believe have the capability to take us to the next level. at a start get some decent back room staff in to help GS, preferably a nice attack coach, fitness people etc.
    And also get rid of the underperforming and inconsistent players ie Bad Jones (why is he still here), Boateng (past it), Arca (mackem), Mido (parmo), Rocky (frustrating), O’Neil (could be controversial but I dont think he is a premiership player, bit like Alan Smith tries a lot but no end product), Schwarzer (age).
    We then need 2 goalkeepers, or one, a box to box midfielder, a creative midfielder, maybe a right sided one but could try Aliadiere there, another striker… pace, power, poise and creativity are what we need.
    I know this may seem too much wishful thinking but hey why not…….

  11. You’re right Vic , about that being a relatively successful season historically for Boro.
    I don’t know what Southgate has done to upset some people. He’s had 2 seasons. We finished both seasons in the league exactly where we’ve nearly always finished recently. We reached the quarter finals of the cup twice in a row. Have we done that before?
    We will stick with Gareth and progress in the next 3 seasons.

  12. Let’s get these guys OUT: Schwarzer, Jones, Mendi, Bates, Cattermole and possibly Mido. Will free up wages to buy Robinson, Huddlestone, Sidweel, and SWP.
    As for Southgate, he’s a well spoken middle class gentleman. Maybe that’s why the boro fans don’t like him.

  13. **AV writes: “To be fair Boro have only finished in the top half of the top flight six times in 60 years. Historically a mid-table finish and an FA Cup quarter-final means it hasn’t been a bad season in statistical terms but that is very difficult to sell to people who have sat through the dirges like Reading, Derby, Cardiff, West Ham, Sheffield United and watched a side who are set out to be attacking but managing an average of a goal a game.
    The problems for Boro are managing expectation and justifying the hype and the price.”
    AV, I do understand where you’re coming from, but must we really have to justify our post Eindhoven efforts by looking back 60 years?
    Do we really have to look back 60 years to justify Gareth “Rookie” Southgate?
    I don’t have unrealistic expectations. I just want a decent manger who at the very least has half a chance of doing something and I just don’t think that that’s too much to ask.
    There are managers in the Championship, who have done miracles with what they have and I just want a proper manager who can do something like that here.
    That isn’t being unrealistic, in my opinion.
    As long as we keep banging on about the past or keep banging on about the fact we went bust or that we’re just a small town in Europe we’re not going to get anywhere.
    I don’t expect CL football or to be in Europe every season or to win endless cups, I just want to be in there with a shout and when we do lose to lose because we just weren’t yet good enough and not because we bottled it or because bloody Southgate is learning valuable lessons for his mammoth rebuilding for next year.
    Yes, to be fair being established in this league is great and it’s a really great move away from the past, but then we’ve moved on from the past – tasted Eindhoven and just want a little bit more now, not a lot, but just something to be able to get excited about.
    Has Gareth produced that since he’s been in charge?
    I said from day 1 Gareth was the wrong man and I think that the facts clearly prove that and I know that next season will be much of the same.
    Get rid of him.
    Get rid of Barnsey.
    Get rid of H.
    Get rid of Coops.
    All simply just NOT good enough any more.

  14. I think if we are going to keep Gareth Southgate, Stevie Gibson should bring in an experienced manager for him to learn from for the next couple of years. Someone like Luiz Felipe Scolari, or Sven if he leaves Man City.
    I would prefer he got rid and brought Mowbray back though.
    I mean, it even looks as if QPR are capable of attracting a high profile( granted, no experience) manager. Why the hell can’t we???
    It was inevitable we would score with headers after the last blog where everyone was saying we haven’t scored many. So hear goes… We will never make it into the top six next year. Hopefully that will do the trick.
    C’mon the Boro!

  15. I cant believe all this sentimental claptrap about Mowbray. It’s simply because he is a respected ex-player. He has done a decent job in 2 inferior leagues-so what? I dont see anybody wanting Tony Pulis at Stoke.
    Southgate inherited a squad with problems. He had to replace himself and get rid of big earners that were too old [Jimmy, Parlour, Ugo and Mendi]
    He also had to deal with the loss of our two main goalscorers at the start of this year.
    As a paying customer I am not happy with performances at home overall this season.This has been aggravated by a number of vastly improved performances away from home which I have seen on T.V. Back at the Riverside these have by and large not been repeated.
    I don’t expect miracles and I know that we are having to go toe to toe with teams that have had massive cash injections in the last 12-18 months. What I would say is that we must see better results and performances at home next year.
    So Gareth its over to you to produce a visible improvement next season. This should be Steve Gibson’s minimum mandate to him. If he cannot deliver then his time will undoubtedly run out.

  16. OK, Lads and Lasses! What’s it to be? Open, attractive, flowing football, or results?
    We are in a “buying competitionâ€? for playing resources.
    We don’t have the same financial clout that teams above us do. (That’s why we finish where we do, season after season).
    We brought in TLF and Ravanelli and played open attractive football and everyone loved it

.for a season!
    McClaren was brought in, shut up shop, established Fortress Riverside and after three seasons we’d won the League Cup, achieved our highest league position ever, we were in Europe, and after four, we were in a European Cup Final. Playing, for the most part, closed, defensive football – except when our backs were up against the wall (they were replaced by four strikers actually!) and we simply had to do something different or go out of the UEFA Cup.
    The popularly voiced public view, paradoxically, was that many couldn’t wait to get McClaren out. An opinion repeatedly expressed on these pages since his departure. (This is something that I shall struggle with to the grave to fully understand!)
    However, it seems to me that, as a general rule, the only way to compete with clubs who can afford to spend lots more than you, is to make it very hard for the opposition to break you down defensively and aim to win by the odd goal (or two – from dead-ball set-pieces. Hmm?!).
    This makes for a lot less attractive football – unless you’re a Manchester United or an Arsenal and can afford to buy the best and therefore, do both, i.e. defend like the Trojans and attack with speed, flair, individual skill and potency (like Muhammad Ali at his best).
    The Premier League order is established and will NOT dramatically change. That’s because the system is now fully in place to perpetuate it.
    There will be minor adjustments and some diffusion across the mini-league boundaries each season. But I believe that we’re about to find that Newcastle will re-establish themselves higher up the league. Tottenham will do likewise. Aston Villa and Everton will cement themselves in the second tier group beside them.
    Assuming Shinawatra isn’t a bubble about to burst causing an unexpected abatement of Manchester City’s resurgence, Citeh will be thereabouts also. Because they’ll all spend a lot of money to remain there or get better.
    Blackburn, West Ham, Wigan, Sunderland, and all others including Boro, from mid-table downwards will spend less and scrap it out in their own finely-divided mini-leagues.
    And they will be more of a lottery, based on a reducing share of the season’s points total, with their league positions increasingly dependant on the vagaries of referee’s decisions, some of which will actually decide the fate of some of these clubs.
    These, I believe, are the realities of the Premier League.
    The TV networks have won. The city teams are established pretty-well in the dominant positions that Sky wants them to be, to maximise revenues both nationally and globally.
    There are a few from higher centres of population density that are still to feel the full benefit of Sky’s osmotic pressure and themselves diffuse up the league – which they will do over time, but broadly, we’re getting there.
    So, lads and lasses, as you go through your annual torment of whether to decide to renew those Boro season tickets or not, be aware of exactly what it is you’re getting into, or of which you’re choosing to remain a part!
    Whichever you choose, should you decide to continue to support Boro either via season ticket or by matchday ticket, I think you owe it to yourselves, and to the club, to recognise the reality of what may reasonably be expected by and of Boro, resourced as it is, and therefore ranked as it is, in the Premier League.
    And I do think that some soul-searching by those who would oust Southgate, should be considered. They might like to consider if they’d rather have the McClarenesque style or that which aspires to be more like the first Keagan era at Newcastle or like Boro’s relegation season under Robson. If Southgate can deliver the style of the latter while even approximating the results of the former, he’ll be a major success story as a Boro manager in this Premier League. The man has an almost impossible task to do both, however.
    It is my suspicion (contention even) that as a relatively small club, you can have one thing or the other in this ill-divided Premier League. Attractive, pretty, open football that’s great to watch but gets punished in term of results, or less attractive, but more effective results-oriented football.
    You want both? Well, you’re extremely unlikely to get it in any way consistently by letting Boro into your soul! So, perhaps you should go support a top four club!
    But if you do

.don’t come back!
    Keith Lamb was so, so right when he stated a couple of seasons ago that Middlesbrough will get the club it can afford. It’s principally, his job to keep it afloat as a business in the marketplace in which it is able to compete.
    If the fundamentals for competitive growth are no longer with Boro as the Premier League further polarises, then frankly, we cannot expect miracles. Irrespective of how much we want it to be otherwise!
    And because of the relative weighting of the major factors affecting season-upon-season performance, I don’t believe that a change of manager is either appropriate or warranted. In fact, I believe that at this time, as Southgate’s squad comes together, it would be detrimental to the club, certainly, in the short to medium term to change the manager and possibly, for the longer term also.
    Because if internal disruption ended up in relegation next season, it’s very doubtful that Boro, with its limited resources, would find a way back in next time round.
    Times they are a-changin’.

  17. AV
    you recently had a blog refering to the Zen of Boro. I think it boils down to, if the Boro had 59 pts and the third bottom had 30 pts with 10 games to go, some people would still think were going down

  18. I feel impelled to pop up and put in a word for Mido.
    If you look at his record, it is pretty good (including 11 goals in the season where Spurs finished 5th). People who say “parmo” don’t remember that he fasted for the whole month of Ramadan, so he clearly has plenty of discipline.
    So, the supporters ought to give him a chance to entirely heal from his injury.
    Oh, and you could use that goal by Riggott in an instruction video, in the “how to attack the corner kick” section.
    It’s not the first time he has scored in a critical situation, and I think that by itself is enough to warrant keeping him at MFC.

  19. When I heard the team for Saturday I posted on the blog not impressed with the line up and that it would lack pace. We would struggle getting forward down the flanks. If Pompey had scored early we may have struggled big time FA cup or not. Luckily they didnt so we took control.
    We are certainly lacking in midfield. Come to think of it there are weaknesses throughout the squad. We are not going to be a regular top six team but we must get away from flirting with relegation.
    When we compete with other teams for players they wont come just because we have Parmos, other teams are bigger, better funded and look better prospects. It will take a lot of work to get in better but we will have lots of time to
    I am not going to waste my virtual breath on debating Gate in or out as he is staying. We do need some fresh blood in the back room staff to help with motivation and preparation. We need to play for 90+ minutes, even Arca commented the same after the match. We need to score that second goal to take the pressure off.
    All for now, no doubt we will find Sunday more relaxing than we feared.

  20. Hello,
    I cant understand why people want GS out. It takes time to build a squad/team. It took Sir Alex 3 years to win anything. That is with the backing of the biggest club in the world.
    David Moyes everybody wanted his head after Everton coming close to relegation now look. Harry Redknapps Pompey havent always been cruising in the league. It shows to me that loyalty and time work which there is precious little in football nowadays.
    There is no magic wand to change things overnight. What would happen if GS did go. A new manager who would want to put his own stamp on a team. Then he would say ‘this not my team’ new players a different style again all takes time.
    Gibbo has it right belief and trust in his manager. This can only be a good thing and the best atmosphere to work. I know there has to be pressure. Im serving in the Army and believe me ive been under pressure. But on calls ive had to make I know I had the backing of my boss this makes me work better.
    GS should be given at least another year or two. Defence we look decent and upfront we have options. Its the centre of midfield thats the weak point. That is where we need to improve.

  21. As usual Richard a very accurate view of the state of the game.
    If somebody was asked to start up a sporting competition of 20 teams in whatever sport who in their right mind would create a situation where only 4 teams had a chance year in year out with the rest making up the numbers.
    This is the reality of the English Premier League.
    I dont care what rubbish is spouted by Richard Scudamore the chairman or the likes of Andy Gray this predictability is not good for anybody with the wider interest of the sport in the long term.
    Oh and I agree with your view of the manager situation at this point in time.You just use more words to explain it than me!!!

  22. In an effort to try and create some atmosphere apart from the monotone and dreary “come on Boro” halfheartedly mumbled at corners and free kicks how about our own anthem to rival “You’ll never walk alone” for next season.
    To the tune of Londonderry air (Danny Boy)
    Boro Anthem
    Oh Middlesbrough, the Riverside is calling
    From Eston Hills, down to the River Tees.
    Ayresome has gone, and memories are fading.
    ‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and we must bide.
    But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow
    Or when the Holgate’s hushed and white with snow,
    It’s here we’ll be in sunshine or in shadow.
    Oh Middlesbrough, Oh Middlesbrough, we love you so.
    And when you come, and all the flags are flying
    Forget FA pain and hurt of points all three.
    Ye’ll come and find the place where we are dreaming
    And stand and sing in praise of glory be.
    And I shall cheer, to see red shirts below me,
    My heart and soul will fill with hope to see,
    We shall not bend and support Boro before me,
    Our history was forged in Teesside Steel

  23. Massive relief and glad its nearly all over. The only thing left to achieve this year is to remain ahead of The Mackems, and I think Arsenal will see to that rather than Boro.
    A season that has been like so many, with great effort and relish against the big teams and total lacklustre and laziness against the rest – more than anything next year we need new midfield players and a strong disciplinarian at the club – look at how Moyes treats Yakubu to get the goals he never got for us.
    Anyway – Relieved and hoping we make big changes on the pitch as well as off it.

  24. Re Redcar Red:
    Good idea to have a boro song although I do think the Danny Boy theme will bring tears to the eyes and is rather slow, like the liricks though.
    I have just got back from holiday and was having the same thoughts about a boro song, listen to a song called the Galway girl.. very suitable. I will let you put your boro words to it.
    I was suprised to hear how much the Boro are detested by rival fans and the momentom is growing in the media especially listening to the snipes from various pundits re the size of the home crowds.
    Over the years the boro supporters have allways turned out in their numbers for two things if they were vast underdogs and to see magical forward play ie Mannion, TLF, Merson, pity we could not somehow weld the two together even when we are playing the lesser lights Sunderland etc.

  25. People forget when Mido broke into the Ajax side a few years ago he was touted to be one of the best young players in Europe. Better than Ibrahamovic.
    You dont lose ability some kids at times lose there focus but I believe if he finaly realises he has found a place he’s wanted he could be a massive help.
    Reading between the lines Gareth has hinted some players havent been buying into what he wants. I do hope he sorts them out. Im sick of so called rumours sent out obviously by player to agent in order to flag other clubs they want out (Downing, Oneil, Rochemback, Boetang, Woodgate, Schwartzer, Morrisson,and others in the past)

  26. Portsmouth.
    Solid performance and a deserved victory.
    Riggott was outstanding and must be kept.
    Huth looks very good when fit,but that is the problem. I would rather have a reliable Riggott than injury prone Huth.
    Schwarzer is worth another 2 years. Yes, he has his moments but no more than other keepers in the Prem. remember David James is pushing 40 and is in the form of his life.
    Apart from Stewy Downing we need a new midfield,Rocky hasnt improved and appears disinterested Arca has gone backwards since his injury against Sunderland. O Neill works like a trojan but he doesnt score goals or set many up.
    The “Boat” has recovered his form and is worth another two years. Mendis contract is up and will go (cant help feeling he was never given a chance by Southgate, and at £60k a week and star man every week in the reserves what is going on?)
    We also need a proven goalscorer,not so easy to find and attract to us.
    So we are going to need at least 5 or 6 Prem.quality players to improve next year. Not easy to find , and this is a major overhaul not just tinkering with the squad that GS has hinted at.
    If Liverpool want Cattermole we want Crouch as part of the deal !

  27. I have to agree with Redcar Red – keep Riggott and let Huth go [if theres anybody willing to take the risk].
    Also with Stockton Red, Southgate inherited a load of problems not so much with the players but more so with the backroom staff steeped in the negative style of Mr Magnificent.
    For mine Gate has done a fine job for a man so new to the management side of the game. It can’t have been easy to let Jimmy go after the job he did for us and an even harder call for him to let Dukes and the Yak leave knowing we were thin on the ground with strikers.
    It took guts to do that but it shows hes not afraid to make decisions and I for one applaud him for that.
    Now on to this season. We started off in good style but played without an ounce of luck, I mean the bounce of the ball never seemed to go our way at all.
    Mido came in and looked to be the goods but after about three games he hasn’t figured has he? £12 million for him and Huth for a return of a combined starts of maybe six or eight games.
    OK, OK I know we let our heads fall a bit but we came back and we are still in it for next season and I truly believe that G S has what it takes to be a good manager.Two seasons is nothing in time, when it comes to learning a new trade.
    I would however like to see him:
    10 Instill some discipline and eliminate the amount of yellow cards.
    2) Arrange tougher pre-season friendlies punt Scarborough and West Hartlepool.York City etc etc.
    3) Be brave and give the youth a chance when the need arrives, Johnson did’nt get nearky enough time to show what he can do.
    And finlaly 4) Sign a new keeper, one who can command the box, along with a ball-carrying half back
    In closing I would like to say how wrong I was about Luke Young his form has been tops all season long after my poor assessment of his early games

  28. Mark 76 – There’s a very big difference between Ferguson and Southgate. Ferguson when he went to Man UTD was already a success and he built upon that. He knew what he was doing from day one.
    Southgate’s a rookie, a total novice and so you just cannot compare the two. He’s trying to learn as well as build and that’s one job too many for my liking.
    I’m all for giving qualified and successful, proven managers time, but what I will not do is support the fact that we are giving time to someone who may well prove to be rubbish.
    So far all the signs are that he’s not the best man for the job.
    Mendieta is a case in point. Not given a fair chance as he was often played out of position when he was played. Others have had poor seasons and yet they have been given endless chances.
    Rochemback’s been out of shape for ages and yet he’s played over and over. How many times did Lee come on? I’d have stuck Mendy up front every single time ahead of the Korean who couldn’t hit himself in the face never mind hit the back of the net.
    You simply cannot put Cattermole ahead of Mendy. If we wanted to just have people who are powerful, full of rage and are only good on the whole for putting the boot in then we should be buying rugby players.
    Perhaps we should concentrate more on skill and actually trying to play football as opposed to having the midfield full of big headless chickens.
    Our best football, in my opinion, came when we had more skill than guts in the midfield, whereas now we have mainly the guts, which on its own won’t win you anything.
    I think it’s also the case that Downings best football came when Zenden spoon fed him so that he could work what he does best. No one since has matched this.

  29. Dave, I tend to agree about the tune of Danny Boy being a little slow and dirge like but so is “You’ll never walk aloneâ€? and “Rule Britanniaâ€?.
    After giving it some thought I figured the tune needs to be instantly recognisable otherwise can you imagine trying to get 20,000 fans in unison let alone have a snowballs chance in hell of even getting them to join in, especially at the Riverside.
    I also thought it needs to be fairly slow otherwise we would lose half of them part way through as crowds and tempo are notoriously difficult to keep in rhythm.
    That said your Galway Girl option is a brilliant tune, just not sure if all the crowd will recognise it and trying to get an anthem off the ground will be the hardest bit of all. Better still if we can come up with a few songs/tunes
 anything’s got to be better than our “Come on Boroâ€?.
    It gets a bit embarrassing when away fans taunt us and all we can respond with is “Whose that Team they call the Boroâ€? then back to “Come on Boroâ€?.
    Not that I’m knocking either of them but it does get a bit repetitive and uninspiring and I think that’s part of the reason why the fans find it difficult to express themselves and the atmosphere can be a bit flat.
    Our repertoire compared with other teams supporters is a tad limited in the originality department (apart from the tongue in cheek banter with the away fans in the South Stand).

  30. Hi AV,
    I’m glad we’re finally safe and looking forward to next season but looking at this seasons performances I feel changes are needed.
    It looks like Schwarzer is on his way out which is a bit of a disappointment because he has been a fantastic keeper for us whilst he’s been here, although there has made a few blunders. Seen as though he is on his way I think Paul Robinson could do a great job for the Boro.
    I think the defence are playing brilliant, the reason our goal difference is so low is because we’re simply not scoring enough goals. That’s why we need at least 3 new midfielders who can supply our strikers with a great through ball, cross or pass etc.
    The midfielders I think that we should sign are Jimmy Bullard, he is a must buy. He’d be brilliant for us and the fans would love him. Steve Sidwell would be a great signing as well as he can score goals which is what we need in a central midfielder, he’s also a realistic signing as he never seems to get a game at Chelsea.
    Another good asset would be Giles Barnes, looks a good prospect with the right players around him. Finally, I think we could do with another striker.
    I’d love to see us put in an offer for Wagner Love of CSKA Moscow as he would be the perfect strike partner for Alves. He could cost us alot of money however but he could be the difference of us finishing mid-table or top 7…
    P.S. Who do you think we should sign in the summer AV? You haven’t said who you would like to see us bring in yet?

  31. Mark 76
    I agree with everything you said, mate! This is not the time to go banging on about getting Southgate out. He’s kept us in the division. Again. He needs time, and I for one am happy that Gibbo will give him it!
    And let’s think of some of the aternatives – Allardyce, Curbishley, Souness, Hoddle, McLeish, Coppell, Jewell, Megson (plenty of experience with those last 4, but look where their teams are!) No thank you. Roy Keane was a “rookie” manager wasn’t he, but we don’t hear the Mackems asking for him to be replaced.
    Your last post was complete rubbish. As I have pointed out on here before, GS is no longer a rookie manager. He now has 2 years’ Prem experience under his belt.
    Mendieta had just 4 good games for Boro; all season long we’ve complained about lack of pace in midfield, yet you want him to play every week!
    And your view that Downing played better when Zenden was around is clearly the garblings of someone from a different planet. Stewy has been a revelation this season and has been the club’s most consistent performer. Isn’t it time you got a fresh view of Boro from the stands rather than your sofa; it might help you make more sense.
    Finally, the songs. Well done lads for trying new things. We really need that next season. Anything to improve the atmosphere at the graveyard.
    The Boat’s “You’re indestructible” is the best Boro song for years, and at away games we’ve heard some good ones too, especially about Aliadiere, and “David Wheater is a red, he hates Geordies!” Anyone come up with good chants for Tuncay and Alves, please?

  32. I don’t understand the growing faction that want Southgate out. It makes absolutely no sense.
    We are a club built on stability and Gibson wont change that mentality. We are a 14th placed club fact, points, attendences, finances they all show it.
    Just because we had a few good seasons with over the hill players doesnt mean we can sustain it for a period of time. Look at Leicester, Bradford, Sheff Wed, Leeds, Southampton … they all tried to sustain there spending and look where they are now?
    Would any one like to swap Man Utd for Colchester? Thought not.
    southgate has adone a good job and he publicly comes out and says he is learning and he is still after only 2 years. last season he had to use what he had this season he has changed a few things but his hands where still tied to an extent.
    next season is his season he will be in his 3rd term so lets see where we are come ths summer and see what signings he makes.
    Southgate to Stay
    COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. So words from two of the North East managers.
    Kevin Keegan tells us all that Toon will not get near the big four in his time at the club. No great surprise to the rest of us but I wonder about Toon fans views on such matters. I guess they are like the rest of us fighting over the scraps.
    The top four have more matches against better teams to keep the squad happy so their squad players are better than the rest. And as we have debated endlessly the cycle is maintained.
    Then we have Gates view on things, he is to be tougher on the players, make them realise 14/15th isnt good enough, stop massaging egos.
    I suppose it is the old good cop, bad cop scenario. One ruffles the feathers, the other smooths them down. In Coops and Gate we have too eminently likeable chaps. As we are unlikely to be shipping either out I suppose we need a terrier in there, someone to tell them on the training ground to do it again, someone to question what they are doing and how they are doing it.
    We clearly need a shake up and not a tinker, what is difficult is knowing what effect any changes have. If we pick midfield and create a dynamic set up will that suddenly make us more effective and the goals start coming, start playing further up the pitch and reduce pressure on the defence, stop defending so deep at set pieces and then have outlets.
    Enough of this for now, Citeh first.

  34. Well, it was all pretty comfortable in the end, and it didn’t really matter as the unlikely set of results below us didn’t occur and we would have been safe anyway. I hope those who seemed to be panicking so much felt suitably relieved.
    Rocky played very well and I’d still like to see him at the club next year. When he performs like that he’s a big asset.
    Tuncay was simply tremendous, and that goal celebration, especially as we are pretty close to that corner, was something else. He must be a great character to have around the training ground, his enthusiasm should be infectious.
    Alves again managed to have two decent efforts on goal without playing particularly well which bodes well for him after a good pre-season.
    Good to see Riggott come back successfully, but let’s not get carried away and ignore two average seasons – a fit Huth is still a much better bet.
    I’d definitely give Schwarz a two-year contract extension if he wants to stay.
    Finally, good to hear Tony McMahon has been given a one-year extension. I suspected he would be on his way out in the summer, he has obviously impressed Southgate after returning from his injury nightmare. Hopefully he can keep Luke Young on his toes next year, it’s amazing to remember the Guardian reported he was on the verge of an England call-up for their USA trip in the summer after he made his debut, and he’s hardly played for us again since.

  35. Richard; very well said mate.
    Despite witnessing the at times, gut-wrenching disappointments at some of the home displays this season, I cannot agree with anyone who is calling for Southgate to be replaced.
    Replaced with who exactly? Is there anyone out there who will dramatically improve the fortunes of the club in the next two years?
    I’ve heard people talk about van Gaal, Advocaat (would not come here; we are too low profile), managers from the lower leagues (too damn risky) and Mogga (will never come as he will not jeopardise his status as a Boro legend (Hoddles failure at Spurs).
    I can see that Gate has made mistakes but he is an intelligent man who no doubt realises this. We all have opinions but the reason why we are not managers and he is is that he knows a lot more than we do.
    He sees the likes of Mendi everyday in training and has formulated his opinion based on this. Next season is the one where he can really be judged.
    On a final note; our song repetoire is crap. A new song after 30 years of the ‘same old’ would be good!

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