Baggies, Boo-Boys And Poggi’s Tackle

A FORTNIGHT ago the news had just broken that Gareth Southgate had been handed the manager of the month gong, Boro were celebrating their best start in the Premiership for nine years and there was some awkward shuffling at the unaccustomed media love-in. Now it is scapegoat city.


Our best and most creative player is starting to get stick after two average games in defiance of his out-standing contributions in recent years; Hoyte has been written off after a couple of hours action in exactly the same way Luke Young was last year just before he stepped up a gear to become the most consistent performer of the season; Alves is being slated for not being up to it even though he scored six in six at the back end of last term; Jinky – who became an icon and saviour in waiting by not playing – is now being denounced as not up to the job; it is open season on Aliadiere; Digard, prematurely pronounced a proto-Zidane so recently is now a water-carrier; and cult hero and leader by example Pogatetz has been downgraded to a headcase again…. on no, we’re all going to die.
That bickering is a reflection of how fragile the belief in Boro is. The questions raised in the summer about the depth of the squad “by design” – Tom Craddock was on the bench at Old Trafford – are back with a vengeance while a lot of people are back-pedalling furiously as they are embarrassed after getting a bit too carried away after the good start and they are now trying to rebuild their credentials as dyed-in-the-wool Teesside cynics by putting the boot into a random victim.
Which makes the visit of West Brom a politically crucial encounter. After a wobble and three defeats in a row on the road (all courtesy of two late goals leaked) it is vital that Boro get back on track at home. If the Riverside record of three wins in three is dented too the jitters will really kick-in.
And West Brom also come with ready made sticks to beat Boro with. Mogga has long been regarded as a manager in waiting and a yardstick against which Southgate will be measured in some quarters and if he tactically out-thinks the gaffer it will not go down well while many believe James Morrison should never have been sold, that he was a better bet on the right than any of the makeshift widemen used there last term and that he would be more creative and score more goals from that position than Aliadiere. And Jonathan Greening… the concourse consensus was that he was rubbish when he was here so if he were to hurt Boro it would set off alarm bells. Those judgements may not be correct but in the current climate there is no doubt that they message boards will be crackling with them if the result goes the wrong way.
****
THIS may be as late as Rodrigo Possebon’s attempts to get out of the way of Middlesbrough’s tough tackling skipper’s lunge, but here’s some observations about the way the Emanuel Pogatetz story developed.
First it must be said that I don’t condone “horrific”, “disgraceful” or “vicious” assaults – take your pick of the emotive descriptions used in the tabloids – and I winced just like everyone else but the ball was there to be won and Pogatetz had every right to go for it. Yes, it was an uncompromising challenge but it is a contact sport and it is a central feature in the game, and one that fans and managers prize highly. To say every challenge where somewhere gets hurt is reckless and build a retrospective case that it is somehow evil and unacceptable is to edge further down the road towards a de facto ban on tackling.
Secondly it must be said that I am biased: Emanuel Pogatetz is the nicest man in Europe and that’s official. They held a poll and Poggy beat a former nun in Belgium that bakes cakes for local orphans and rescues kittens to the title. When you talk to him one on one you are instantly drawn into an envelope of warm, sincere, good-humoured and engaging niceness. You want to take him home for tea and to introduce him to your mam. Southgate in defending him rightly said he was “a good human being,” a moral measure which we should perhaps all aspire to even if very few achieve.
When the tackle first went in, in real time, the immediate press box consensus was that the sending off was ‘harsh.’ A few people did that ‘ouch, glad it wasn’t me’ laugh/wince we do when a bone-juddering tackle flies in. Writing a live runner on the gazettelive website I said: “Boro were dealt a blow on 67 minutes when skipper Pogatetz was sent off. As the ball rolled loose just inside the Boro half the defender went flying into a crunching 50/50 challenge with Possebon and although he took the ball he sent the United man spawling and needing several minutes treatment for a gash to his leg.”
I stand by that. That is what happened. All the hyperbole and moralising about intent and the Poggi backstory was added in the feeding frenzy that followed.
When the monitors showed the replays it looked a bit more robust, especially from some angles. Possebon was clearly injured and those who had said ‘harsh’ quickly upgraded it to ‘a bit naughty’ then when the red card was flashed the ball started rolling. Everyone in the press box has a laptop and internet access so immediately started googling Pogatetz for some background and the first things that popped up helped colour the way the story unfolded: the story of the 24 game world ban from the leg-breaking tackle in Russia, the nickname ‘Mad Dog,’ the pictures of our hero grappling with Kevin Davies with blood smeared across his face. The impression was clearly that he was an animal. If you Google him now they have been pushed right down to page 17 behind the welter of hysteria over the Old Trafford horror.
“So how many times has he been sent off for Boro?” was the question buzzing around the national lads and we had to disappoint them (and surprise ourselves I must say ) by scratching our heads, having a bit of a think and then checking Soccerbase and saying ‘er…none’. He had an extensive collection of yellows for the usual occupational hazards of being a centre-back but not a single red in domestic football. But that didn’t sit well with the story that was developing.
The press corps at Old Trafford was represented by writers who usually cover United and the big four rather than the North-east contingent who were all on their home patch covering Sunderland. These lads were not familiar with Poggi and had never interviewed him so don’t know he is a ‘good human being.’ They just saw the Mad Dog, some kind of shaven headed psychotic agricultural hatchetman from a no-mark side.
Even before the final whistle the word went around that Possebon’s leg was broken and the keys started to tap with self-righteous fury (these are remember men who every other week praise Terry, Vidic, Rooney, Eboue and Gerrard for similar whole-hearted tackles, label them ‘hard but fair’ and laud the perpetrators as committed competitors with a commendable will to win) as the deadline loomed. Most of the early editions were written at this point, full of colourful condemnation but short on detail or quotes.
After the game Alex Ferguson was indignant and lashed out angrily. But he doesn’t talk directly to the written press but instead issues his post-match edicts via MUTV and so the scribes were instead forced to stand in an undignified scrum holding dictaphones aloft to the monitors constantly tuned to the in-house propaganda machine. In a normal press conference reporters have the chance to question a manager, ask him to elaborate on incidents and pick him up on some on the contradictions raised in his bluster.
More pertinently they could maybe ask him to maybe compare the offence with some his own players had committed in the past, like say, the Roy Keane retribution dished out to Alf Inge Haarland, an incident of which Ferguson said his man – who admitted in his autobiography it had been deliberate – had no case to answer.
As Ferguson spoke immediately after the game his comments framed the debate. He got to set the parameters of the story. He said it was horrendous, which most people probably agreed with having watched it a dozen times in slo-mo by then, divorced from the context of the action but each time looking worse. He said “the thing about challenges like that is that the opponent always claims he has done nothing wrong,” incorrectly giving the impression that Poggi was callously denying it was a foul or refusing to accept responsibility and adding to the sense of moral outrage. He also said Southgate had apologised and understood it was an absolutely terrible tackle thus painting the Boro boss – at that time still down in the tunnel area talking to BBC Tees and the MFC website – into a corner.
Hilariously and hypocritically he also said Poggi should just have ‘walked’. What, like a United player would? Poggi was more surprised than outraged with the decision and was protesting his attempts at playing the ball (football’s universal mime symbols were employed) but he was not berating, insulting or intimidating the ref. And Boro players rans over to add some mitigation but they didn’t form an angry mob around the ref, jostling him, pushing him or screaming in his face, a practice United have form for.
While the situation developed on the pitch red-faced Fergie was down in the Boro technical area making his own contribution to the ‘Respect’ campaign, jumping up and down with steam coming out of his ears and furiously pointing and bellowing at Colin Cooper. Did he think Coops had done it? Did he think such a confrontation would somehow make the injury less painful to his lad in some mystical, shamanic dance of deflection? Was he advocating some kind of Nazi-style collective punishment, that anyone wearing a Boro kit was somehow a legitimate target for retaliation, their families should be rounded up and banned from football for life and their houses reduced to rubble? He had to be dragged away by the fourth official before his emotional incontinence got the better of him and boiled over. Chill grand-dad.
That was the air of hysteria that had set the agenda. In that atmosphere no one in the press room was going to suggest that “he was only going for the ball”, or that “we’ve seen worse”. No clearly this was the crime of the century. Worse than Matt Taylor on Eduardo. Worse than Guthrie. Worse than Barton. Worse than Keane on Haaland. There were people tapping out demands that the FA ‘throw the book at this thug’ and ridiculous musing about a ban as long Possebon was on the sidelines. Utterly ridiculous kneejerk responses by people swept along on a wave of hysteria.
By the time Southgate got up to the press room most of the stories were written and Sky Sports News had their little snippet of footage on a permanent tape loop of condemnation. The next day it quickly became clear that Possebon’s leg wasn’t in fact broken so the really vicious follow-up articles demonising Poggi that would no doubt have followed in the Saturday and Sunday supplements were never written – but don’t expect any sober re-assessments though.
The incident is now added to Poggi’s poison pen-picture and will be wheeled out again on his return (and Possebon’s return) and with every yellow card for the next year. The danger is that it also colours future official’s perceptions too and that his first red card card in domestic football won’t be his last.
There is no getting away from the fact that, even if it was made in good faith and with no intent other than to take the ball, it was a crunching tackle that verged on the reckless and that when the follow through sent Possebon spinning through the air Poggi was always going to get sent off.
And the really worrying thing is that if it was Vidic on Johnson, Fergie would still have shaped the story only it would then have been a vindictive blast at a weak referee who had never played the game and didn’t know a firm but fair tackle when he saw it, that he only reacted because their lad was injured and a paranoid moan that if it was Terry or Gerrard it wouldn’t be a red. And the press would still have reported it uncritically.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2008/sep/23/arsenal.premierleague3

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44 thoughts on “Baggies, Boo-Boys And Poggi’s Tackle

  1. Excellent stuff as usual AV!
    AaaH! Sir Alex Ferguson, the doyen of the flapping gums strikes again with his ignominious soundbite of brusque bile and bullshit.
    I could just imagine those sycophants from the Fleet Street Fergy Love in Society hanging on his every Jockanalian vowel ready to liken Poga to Stalin, Hitler or Vinnie Jones.
    Good hard tackle in my opinion, the fact that Possenbon, the dozy inexperienced sod didn’t have the sense to get out of the way and ride it wasn’t Pogo’s fault after all he did get the ball.
    BUT as we all know spin is king and Mr.Red Nose Moandeer would use any avenue to deflect press away from United’s iffy form.Up until that point United were looking at extra time and maybe even penalties.
    Never mind,look on the bright sidee and stay positive as this will give Huth and Wheater a chance to re-establish their partnership. Then when Poga comes back after his ban we should play al three at the back in a 3-5-2 formation.
    Did you ever see Fergy play, one of the dirtiest buggers ever to pull a pair of boots on!
    Funny that!

  2. Right on cue skysports are talking about Pogo and tackles. I may be shouted down but my view is that Pogo got the red card he deserved for a reckless tackle. But the actions of Guthrie were worse, he kicked a player then ran after him to leather him from behind.
    As for tomorrow, a win is essential.

  3. Right on cue skysports are talking about Pogo and tackles. I may be shouted down but my view is that Pogo got the red card he deserved for a reckless tackle. But the actions of Guthrie were worse, he kicked a player then ran after him to leather him from behind.
    As for tomorrow, a win is essential.

  4. Good article AV. I was “watching” the match through the live text of the BBC website, constantly pressing the refresh button. Emotions went from joy (Jonno’s equaliser) to despair (Pog red card) to indignation when a Man Utd fan texted in to say it was “disgraceful” and he should be “banned for life”. I mean really – banned for life?
    We live in the age of 24/7 news where it’s easier to hurriedly write a condemnation than get the facts. Purple nose is highly skilled in manipulating the media – his recent outburst about Chelsea getting preferential referee treatment was a classic case in point, immediately putting pressure on refs to give his team the benefit of the doubt (witness Ferdinand not getting done for the Drogba challenge) whilst also saying it in such a way, that you can never bring a disrepute charge.
    Poggy was unfairly painted by the media, but did we expect anything else? As Boro fans, we were naive if we did.
    Onto Brom. A must win game in my opinion. There have been a lot of comments on here about how GS isn’t up to it, and a lot of defences trotted out about “young team” and “playing the right way”. Well, this season is a watershed for GS – if there’s no improvement upon last year, can we say he’s the man for the job?
    We must beat Brom, simple as that. It would silence the pro-Mogga crowd for the time being, and give a fresh impetus before 2 tough games against Wigan (Clattermole’s superior side don’t forget) and Chelsea who will doubtless have Deco and Carvalho returning.
    Oh, and one other thing we need. A clean sheet. Infact, I’d just settle for a clean last 10mins – we’ve conceded 5 goals in the last 5mins this season – which puts us, so far, top of the PL table at least in that respect.

  5. AV
    As usual – spot-on, especially the comments about “Sir” (?) Alex Ferguson. You Tube has a catalogue of Roy Keane’s more full-blooded challenges and you don’t see him walking off the pitch. On the contrary Ferguson has backed the disgusting behaviour that has now filtered down to school level.
    Ferguson’s team has an enviable record over his 20+ years in charge, but his mouth and attitude should be confined to the back streets of Glasgow, not gracing our TV screens as an example of how to behave and represent football in this country.
    It’s about time that those who awarded him that title reminded him what it stands for, or simply take it away.

  6. We all know Ferguson is always right when he’s wrong he just twists it to suit! Remember the Ronaldo penalty ….he said it was a definite penalty….When shown the replay with no contact he decided that there was an intent to foul so still a penalty and reason enough for Ronaldo to fall over!I hate the way he spouts off to the press all the time…winding other teams up before games and then after moaning about things that do not go there way.Not a nice person in my opinion and not a part of how the game should be played.Football is about playing the game not using mind games and intimidation to get the result you want…that in my mind is just plain cheating and he should take a page from wengers book on how to act as a manager.

  7. Vic,
    I’m prompted by Ian Oliver’s post.
    Your assessment of the media reaction to Pogatetz’s tackle seems balanced and well-considered after taking many different factors into account. You have also had the benefit of 36 hours of deliberation and reflection using your not inconsiderable cognitive skills (ahem!).
    What follows is intended to be value-adding and I acknowledge is certainly not straight out of the Nick Robinson school of cynical journalistic interpretation. Indeed, any readers who are graduates of that virtual establishment will no doubt hurl accusations of naivety should they choose to read further. However, the sting is in the tail of the tale!
    The howling wolves if the media at Old Trafford didn’t have the benefit of reflection that you’ve had before posting your admittedly very good article – which I enjoyed reading.
    Nor, I guess, did they want it! They were there to do what journalists do – report, sensationalise and use whatever human reaction they can to make a story as big as possible. Most of them aren’t there to provide a balanced summary of events. And even if they were, it would take the coolest of heads under those circumstances to put together such a report, that wouldn’t be received with any great enthusiasm by an audience itself already fired up emotionally in the immediacy of the incident.
    So much for them though. Moving along to another Principal in the pantomime.
    I’ve been a critic of Sir Alex Ferguson many times. Just because someone has granted him permission to place three letters in front of his forename doesn’t lift him into the deity category. He’s still human, and subject to the same emotions that many of us felt when Amdy Faye two-footed Mohammad Shawky a few weeks back. And Shawky got up from that fairly quickly.
    I repeat, I’m no great fan of Alex Ferguson, principally because I believe he IS quite hypocritical in his preparedness to interpret the rules when it’s to his club’s advantage. But hell, that’s also human! He’s fighting his own corner. And one has to admit, albeit grudgingly, he can do it rather well!
    However, his immediate reaction at the time of the incident was not untypical of well-engaged passionate managers and coaches. What I saw in his post match interview, after he’d had a few minutes to calm down (a bit) and in hearing Gareth Southgate’s acquiescence that it had been a bad tackle and that “our” position wasn’t in defending Pogatetz just because he’s one of ours, but that the Red Card was justified. He heard no self-righteous indignation from Southgate and presumably, no heated backchat to stoke the embers of further resentment, as he possibly got back from parts of the Boro bench at the time of his pitch-side rant.
    By the time he conducted his post-match interview, although still angry at the challenge that had left one of his lads well-crocked (and let’s face it – he was well-crocked) my impression was that he was still in a cooling-down period and he was still thinking his way through his own red mist. I heard him adjust what he was saying and even concede (if you read between the lines and his body-language) that Pogatetz’s intent wasn’t vindictive and that it was a result of poor judgement.
    I don’t believe that the hysteria is of Alex Ferguson’s making. It is the media escalation and opportunism and the need to compete in a world where the expectations of media bosses is that you’ll deliver the best story that the circumstances can possibly justify. All in the pursuit of ratings, which ultimately translate through to increased turnover.
    I can hear the cries of righteous indignation from Fleet Street and Canary Wharf now. “We’re only doing our job!”
    Yes you are! Just like the paparazzi in the Paris road tunnel were doing their jobs! Just like the short-selling traders in the stock market were only doing their jobs! Just like Northern Rock and Lehman Brother’s executives were doing their jobs!
    In the view of one who has learned some lessons from the Nick Robinson virtual school of cynicism, though I may not yet have graduated, I don’t consider that Sir Alex Ferguson is the main villain in all of this.
    PS On the analysis of incident itself, I agree entirely with John Powls’s and your assessment of the incident and can relate to Pogatetz being out of position and knowing it. His assessment of having to make that challenge and win it was probably correct, for the reasons you and John have mentioned. I think his footballing judgement in making it was therefore probably correct. The “execution”, if I can call it that without being too inflammatory, was perhaps a trifle “enthusiastic”.
    Finally, a word about the “victim”. As John posted, Possedon’s engagement in the tackle was equally committed. His engagement technique however, was I’m sure, intended to leave him in possession ready to exploit the same open space behind Pogatetez that Pogatetz also knew had been created because of him being out of position. That’s the risk you run and it’s the difference in approach between attackers and defenders. Defenders can often gat away with spoiling play, but attackers generally need to keep their feet to gain advantage. I think we can all wish for Rodrigo Possedon to make a speedy and full recovery. However, I now consider him to be an unfortunate victim of an occupational hazard, rather than of thuggery. Unlike Guthrie’s victim.

  8. Either my eyes or my screen must be going funny because I’m sure I’ve just read that Joe Kinnear is the interim Newcastle manager. Dennis the Menace and My Cashley strike back!
    I know this is a Boro blog but it helps to have a bit of perspective going into tomorrow’s West Brom tie. Things really could be so much worse…
    I think we’ll win 3 – 0 with Johnson and Alves the key men.

  9. The only good thing to come out of the pogi sending off is that it deflects the attention away from how we have again conceded late goals in the last 2 games and how poor our away form and how our midfield disappears in games. Also how poor downing is on our travels

  10. Isn’t it marvellous how eyesight improves with age?
    Ferguson spent all those years defending his roaming assassin Roy Keane with phrases such as “passion” and “commitment” but get rather tetchy when an opposing player has the temerity to match this passion and commitment.
    Like most people I don’t condone savage tackles – if that’s how Pogi’s can be described – but whenever I hear Ferguson’s rants about the opposition, other phrases spring to mind. Phrases containing the words “pot” and “kettle” for example.

  11. “So far, I’ve kept away from commenting on the ‘Carry On’ at Sid James Park but, I’m sorry, – Joe Kinnear!! LOL I think is the text version.”
    Comments like the one one from John Powls amaze me. I must assume that Sky Sports and the internet has made football fans stupid for them to come out with comments like LOL for an interim appointment or even slagging the man off for taking the job for a few weeks as some NUFC fans are doing.

  12. greame souness would have been banned sine die if he was playing today him and terry yorath had an ongoing war,get in there pogi ,come on boro ,dont let the b********* get to you,we need to let other teams know starting on saturday this is “our house” and get ready for a rumble

  13. Dave
    Downing sometimes plays badly away – but then again don’t they all? If we could solve the enigma of our away form we really would be challenging for Europe again.
    At Old Trafford he was one of our best players – not perhaps a great recommendation on a night when not much went right and several players had mares – but true nonetheless.

  14. Regards the tackle and the press:
    Why is it time and time andtime again that we get such bad press? Its like they are waiting for some minor mishap and then they pounce like waiting hyenas?
    The ball was ther to be won – when Possebon realised ge wasn’t gonna get it why didn’t he pull it out? If he wasn’t gonna go in full blooded then why bother, it is then when you get hurt and that is what happened.
    Without getting too much into accusations can I say that it seems as though (from reading many comments on various websites) that people are waiting for Pogga to fall of the wagon and even and EVEN tar him a brush that has been soiled by a certain Austrian over half a century ago just because he has his hair a certain way or just because he listens to a certain type of music……
    Bottom line it was Possebon’s fault he should’ve pulled out
    **AV writes: What, he listens to Wagner? The hair is a moot point. A colleague told me of a full-blooded player at another club being ordered to grow his hair because he was getting too many bookings and the gaffer believed his crop and tattoo combo made him look like a thug and refs were reacting in that too. He grew it to a respectable length and his card count tumbled so it bears thinking about.

  15. Southgate is too soft when it comes to players, refs and the press. He should take a lesson from rednose who always defends his players in public no matter what. He wouldn’t apologise or admit it was a bad tackle would he?
    Gate should have said it was a 50-50 and Poggi was only going for the ball, whether he believed it or not. He should have said problem that Possebon bottled it. He should have slagged the ref for bottling it too, scared of the big crowd, big club, big manager.
    If the FA had taken extra action he has already hung out Poggi to dry by admitting what he did.
    For refs if it is a close call on a decision and it is a toss up between being given the hairdryer and monstered in the press by Fergie or a hint of polite mild criticism from Southgate which would you rather face?

  16. Feel sorry for the lad who got injured but i blame Fergy and all the other managers that treat the cc as a second rate compo. After all i was always told this is a mans game and if they want to play inexperianced kids they should also take the rough with the smooth.
    If Pogi had backed out of that tackle he would have had another section of the public after him headline skinned by a kid would not lie well with him.
    On to todays game,The constant moving of Wheater around to accomadate players i think is causing mistakes at the back, the two UNited scored for example.
    I also dont think Mido and Alves should play together If Mido is fit Ali should play up front with him with Alves coming on last 20 mins.

  17. Completely agree about the Poggy and that although the tackle was horrendous that its was a mistaken tackle born out of passion, desire and the will to win from a really nice guy as opposed to being a horrendous tackle by a dirty player.
    Don’t care a hoot about what Ferguson has to say. Never have. Never will. All he cares about is Man UTD and that’s it. He just wants to win at all costs and so his reason and judgement and fairness simply doesn’t exist. So stuff what he has to say.
    Southgate’s response was spot on.
    For me the next Six games are going to tell us where we are. For “real turned the corner progress” to be claimed to have been made we should really be beating teams like West Brom and Wigan and West Ham and then give teams like Blackburn a good run for their money with a draw.
    2 wins from these 6 would be ok I suppose along with a couple of draws, so let’s start with a good three points against West Brom so that we get back on track.
    Here’s hoping…
    TB

  18. I think it speaks volumes on where Boro are compared to the “Big 4” when it comes to intimidation, one upmanship, maipulation and control over media and more worryingly officialdom in the game.
    After the “3 points” scenario we still haven’t progressed very far in getting a “fair” deal, witness the Aliadierre at Anfield incident only a few months ago and the ridiculous ban. We are too nice, too polite and too courteous.
    Boro were showing “respect” way before the FA came up with the idea. I’ve said on here many times previously how we get descisions against us and how the “Big 4” get decisions (and associated vital points) through clever manipulation of situations.
    I’m not sayin Pogi’s tackle wasn’t a sending off I have no issue there but the Manure pantomime which followed was expertly controlled, in fact almost scripted. It is this very level of detail which sets them and us apart both on and off the field. I wonder which part of the FA badges teaches this to such a “Doctorate” level?
    With regards to fans “Fragile belief”, it is indicative of the fans wanting to believe but then exasperated by sticking with the “Typical Boro” same old, same old. Rather than getting on Stewies, Alves, Aliadieres back or GON’s we want to see a response from the bench. We want Stewie, Aliadiere and co to be given a break to give them some hunger and hopefully assist in rehabilitating them in restoring confidence.
    Emnes, Jinky, Walker and even Craddock are entitled to a crack after some recent under par displays from the big or bigger names. I don’t for one minute believe they are better than “the names” but a 100% display from one of those may be an improvement over a well below par offering from one of the “chosen few”.
    As fans we do not want a return to “big name” syndrome at the club and witness Primary level players being shoe horned into 11 starts at the expense of formation, tactics and the secondary level players (Taylor, Riggot etc.) let alone the Tertiary level lads (Walker, Craddock etc.).

  19. 3 POINTS TO THE REFEREE
    Just got back in from the game. Well if I wasn’t sure about the existence of “Big Name” syndrome I am now!
    Why was Stewy not replaced by Jinky (I know Jinky eventually got a game) and Emnes for Aliadiere. We ended up with two left footed wingers (unbalanced again) not to mention a Striker who couldn’t score in Amsterdam. Surely Craddock would have been worthy of 20 minutes if only to show Gareth has something in his undercrackers?
    Why was Mido the only one with Fire in his belly?
    Why when we break out did we run up the pitch and then stop and look to pass sideways rather than keep running and running carving the opposition open (the return of the Tippy and Tappy mentality)?
    Why were the crowd on the Refs back but the Boro Coach/Coaches resembled a pensioners bus outing to Scarborough O/D’d on Prozac?
    Why was Coops or Gate not sent to the stands by their over the top protest at blatant incompetence by the man in black? I guess its difficult to pull your jacket off and throw it on the floor not clicking your tank top whilst Coops, 2 stewards and a Copper pull you back from the 4th official.
    Oh by the way I hear Manure got a “dubious” penalty today, can’t think why they always get lucky with the match officials? (quote from Sir Alex after their game “Last season Rob Styles turned down 4 or 5 penalties for us” uncanny coincidence that he gave a non event then today, Sir Alex even managed to avoid winking at the end of it!)
    This is not an attack on Stewy, Aliadiere or Alves etc. its justifiable frustration at incredulous management decision making which has been repeated on here too many times and yet we still see and still end up saying the same things.
    For me the choice of Captain for the next game is an easy one. Give it to someone who gets angry, someone who ruffles a few feathers, someone who upsets the opposition and gets the fans whipped up, someone who looks as though they don’t want to be on the losing side, someone who fights and battles and scraps to the bitter end, someone who looks like they will bust a gut to win…………..suggestions on a postcard please to Gareth Soutgate c/o MFC!

  20. AV wrote:
    ” The only one who is really a shoe-in is Downing. You are not suggesting playing in the stiffs and giving, say, Emnes a start there are you? ”
    Johnson, Digard, Shawkey, Emnes
    across the middle would be worth trying.
    Downing is the Teesside Rochemback.
    He does something once a month that makes people say “oooh” and then misses all sorts of opportunities for the next few matches.

  21. The more i watch this league the more frustrated i get…Man u win 2 -0 …a penalty that wasn’t then a goal that should have been offside.They use all the weapons to win…good sportsmanship….no….but they intimidate and fight before every game…Boro have a gentleman…manager don’t know…but the guy we wanted originally won so….

  22. Getting fed up of boro now. The goalie has got hollow legs and along with Wheater is making vital mistakes every game.
    This club is going no where but down. We are only 2 points better off than the joke club at Sid James and they have about 10 players out with injuries and suspension.

  23. That game was very similar to the Sunderland match with the opposition keeper being man of the match. If west brom had a chopra they would have had another goal at the finish.
    We had a tonne of shots on target, Alves alone could of had 4 goals. He had a great second half . His and Midos best chance was one and the same and they got in each others way in desperation trying to score from about 2 yards out – unlucky.
    Mido worked his socks off as did O’Neil but from where I was sitting I couldnt see what sparked off the west brom fans to circle mido and push him around as the Ref did nowt!
    The ref pulled us back too many times for a free kick when we had the ball and the advantage was lost. I know a chant about the Referee and we all know how it goes….
    PS Alves needs a goal from open play to fire him up as he didnt look fired up in the first half , in fact the first half looked a bit like a warm up!
    Wigan will be a much tougher prospect.

  24. Boro Beamish wrote…
    Getting fed up of boro now. The goalie has got hollow legs…
    But Southgate reckons that he never bought a new keeper not because he didn’t have the cash but because there weren’t any better keepers outhere.
    I can’t agree with this.
    Agree with “Ignorant”, we did have endless chances which is very exciting and very promising. But we simply can’t go on having loads of chances and losing games as we edge ever closer into the…
    We simply MUST win against Wigan. Win this and we steady the ship. Lose and we’re probably in the bottom three with Chelsea, Blackburn and City on their way and talk of crisis and yet another relegation battle seeping out of every orifice.
    Now COME ON BORO.
    I’ve always wanted GS and CC out, but it would be nice and at the very least the very minimum that you would expect from the lads that they try to save and repay their managers trust and faith.
    Whatever I personally think of the management team the players have a duty to fight and fight and fight for them tooth and nail to the bitter end, and to be honest, I haven’t seen this happen yet so it’s about time it did.
    We are right to blame managers, but at the end of the day the players must also take part of the resposibility and blame because if nothing else they should be at the very least be playing and fighting for their own slef pride and worth and for the shirt that the entire stadium of home fans would simply die for in order to play just one game.
    We can surprise Chelsea as we have always surprised the “big four” in the past but if we want to have any chance of doing this we need to beat Wigan convincingly so that we go into the Chelsea game full of confidence with all guns blazing.
    No reason why we can’t, none whatsoever.
    TB

  25. AV – I enjoyed your piece and largely agree with what you said about Poggi’s tackle, about the approach adopted afterwards by Alex Ferguson, and the attitude of the fourth estate as they sent their reports downline.
    On reflection, Poggi was worth a red card and three game ban for the recklessness of the tackle. I have no doubt he didn’t mean to cause injury, and I know he got the ball first, but a neutral observer would have thought a red card justified. At first I thought the tackle was 50/50 but I must admit I winced a bit when I saw the replay in graphic slow-motion.
    If the tackle had been on, say, Downing we would all have expected the opponent to be sent off (though for someone wearing a red shirt at Old Trafford, maybe a yellow).
    You mentioned Guthrie who fouled first but didn’t have the desired result. He therefore ran a few more yards for a “second go”, where the ball wasn’t the target and was hardly in the frame as he booted the opponent’s leg from behind in what used routinely to be called a cowardly attack.
    There could be no suggestion of an accident, a miscalculation. Negligence wouldn’t be remotely accurate. Recklessness would have to be redefined to cover it. The correct description is intentional and no doubt it will feature in Guthrie’s autobiography in years to come. Now that WAS a red card that justified an extended ban, but didn’t get one.
    I had a chat with a Judge in the concourse at the WBA game about it – the judicial view was that Guthries assault would have got at least 6 months. A non-lawyer might be surprised at the leniency but, of course prisons are currently full and it was only one leg that got broken….
    But it was so outside the laws of the game that, for once, the much overused description “criminal” was appropriate.
    The views of the Seer of Old Trafford are of no surprise. Nelson was less one-eyed. What almost amuses me is the way the BBC and others pander to him. He gives no interviews. He will not talk to the press he doesn’t like. He sends out his “authorised version” through his own preferred channels. If we hadn’t already gone past 1984 I’d be worried.
    Some students are probably typing up their PhD theses at this very moment on the way some dictators in the 20th Century tried to manipulate the news to make it acceptable, to find “good days to bury bad news”, to fix the agenda, to pull the wool over the people’s eyes. Some were not dictators, not even leaders, some not even elected politicans.
    Just by chance I have been looking at Alastair Campbell’s Mirror blog of 02.09.08 in which he refers to himself as having been the “media antichrist of the Blair years”. I know Campbell professes to be a Burnley fan, but bearing in mind the political leanings of the aforementioned Seer of Old Trafford, his handling of the media and the gong that is given on political recommendation, has anyone seen AF and AC together, in the same time and in the same dimension? Perhaps the Good Knight is on autopilot, receiving his instructions from elswhere?
    Do you remember seeing an editon of “Have I Got News for You?” a few years ago on TV? The one where the (then) Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott – it has been suggested Hull’s “finest” since William Wilberforce, though not many agree with him – pulled out at short notice and left the show short? The show went ahead with the two teams as usual, but with a tub of lard sitting in Mr Prescott’s seat. It didn’t get many answers correct, but brought great hilarity at the expense of the Honourable Member.
    Instead of interviewing a stand-in, as the BBC does on Match of the Day, why not simply interview the opposing manager to get his take on the game and leave Machester United’s case remain unsaid? Would we miss it?
    Do you think the Manchester United sponsors would be happy to have their expensively paid-for logos worn on the shirt, cap, or background, missed by the BBC cameras and audience (much bigger even for the edited highlights programme than for Sky’s live coverage)?
    Actually, and whilst warming to the subject, does anyone here get as tired as me by the sycophancy shown in football interviews? The friendly tossing-up of a lob that the manager can smash back over the net. The “Well, I suppose a point has to be a good result, Bob?” type question posed to the manager after the game.
    It might ignore the fact that the opposition was from two leagues lower for this home cup-tie, that the manager decided to “rest seven of his normal first-team, thinking the balance of the squad would still have more then enough for the lowly opposition”, and that he had gone out with a revolutionary “oak tree formation” that no one in the history of football had seen before (without having been under the influence of Class A drugs), and that the team had been one down until the ball was delected into the opposition’s net by the referee in injury time.
    Would it be more fun to see Paxman have a fireside chat with Ferguson instead? Thirteen times asking the same question as the worm wriggles on the hook – “I know you said after the game that didn’t see incident, but we have now shown you it on video. Would you condemn your goalie’s karate chop on the Referee’s throat as failing to show the respect towards officials which the authorites have been trying to encourage?”
    Look, he’s a big boy. If he can’t take the questions, that should be tough on him. Man U must have some real supporters, ones who might have visited the ground and seen the odd game (not pot-hunters, those who once watched a game on TV and rather liked the fetching red shirt and the way it ruffled so pleasantly as Ronaldo bent the laws of physics by tumbling to the ground without any contact from the opposing player). Surely those fans are entitled to hear what the manager has to say? After all, those fans have bought the T-shirt.
    It is one thing if the fan chooses to pay for extra web content or Sky or Fans TV channels, but if he can’t afford that, in a sport, an entertainment, should it really be in the power of a manager to decide to take his own ball home and not to talk to the fans by the only means they have to hear him (ie by the BBC or the written press)? Would the sponsors of the team be happy if, in response they failed to get the expected coverage in those sections of the press that the manager was ignoring?
    In fact their shirt sponsors are obviously beyond caring now as their business was collapsing around their ears before being taken under the wing of the USA government. Does this mean, with AIG and Northern Rock, that next season the advertsising on the shirts of Man U will be paid for by the US taxpayer and the advertising on Newcastle shirts will be paid for by UK taxpayers?
    You might recall a little rumpus some time ago, started in Boston Harbour with the spilling of much tea. If I remember correctly, the phrase was “no taxation without representation”. If I am paying towards the upkeep of the companies (I am a UK taxpayer and, if that were not enough, also the payer of massive business insurance premiums to AIG!), then I think I am entitled to hear what the companies are doing with my money. I should be able to hear from the top man. Stand still, Alex, whilst the mike if fixed to your lapel, Mr Paxman will be here shortly….
    Anyway – what a weekend! The sun shone for what must have been the third time this summer. Boro lost at home in what many contributers to this blog had earlier referred to as being a “must win game”. Newcastle have a new manager. Sunderland go ahead yet lose. Tottenham remain bottom of the league. We hear the Bradford & Bingley is about to be rescued by the government and brought into public ownership. Apparently every one of the building societies floated as banks have within a few years either been gobbled up by others or have crashed – though as mutual building societies many had safely served savers and borrowers alike, many for over a century – it’s not only “short-sellers” on the exchanges who might feel guilty but also those carpetbaggers investing in societies with a view to a windfall if the society were to have floated. Yorkshire avoided relegation on the last day of the County Championship.
    The final messages are simple. A football team must score to win. Good approach play might be interesting to watch but games are not won, or even drawn, on approach play. Effort and commitment should be a given in every game but scoring chances have to be taken. If a team doesn’t keep clean sheets, the strikers have to have to score even to get a draw. If several goals are conceeded, the team’s strikers will need to be world class, or very lucky, it the team is to win. Do we think our strikers are lucky?
    If the regular practice is to concede goals in the second half of games, even in the dying minutes of games, surely if the players aren’t a couple of goals up by then (as, thankfully, we were against Spurs and Stoke) then they must know what is going to befall them in the last few minutes. They look more frightened than we are!
    The cycle must be broken, and this is why unrealistically large salaries are paid to football managers – on the basis they might have an idea how to stop a trend becoming an unstoppable avalanche.
    It is just a real pity that 3 points have been surrendered by our team, not to Champions League clubs like Liverpool (and no doubt later to the other Big Four Clubs), against whom we are not really competing, but against Sunderland and WBA – who are our real competition. It would be nice to win a few of the fabled “six-pointers” which should be the bread and butter. A good result against the Big Boys would be like icing on the top of a cake, but you can’t live on icing, and in any event it is cancelled out if we follow it up by losing to a Fulham, or a Hull City etc.

  26. Forever Dormo – off topic I know but if you’re paying massive premiums to AIG for your commercial insurances then you need a new broker!
    For a while AIG havebeen known for being just about the cheapest in town (name your price seems to be how their underwriters work!)in an effort to grab a piece of the SME market.
    They sponsored MU to get their name better known in the Far East rather than over here although I understand that all staff in the UK (well certainly in Manchester)were given a brand new MU shirt when the deal was first signed.

  27. Forever Dormo
    That was a good read though it is the last part that I will post about.
    There is a striking similarity between Rioch’s babies and the current team. A young, talented squad playing attractive football with pace. Regular plaudits from opposing fans, players and management alongside a heartfelt thank you for the three points.
    We are only six games in so plenty of points to play for yet. BUT the Graham Taylor 10 match watershed approaches. If we are only a couple of points clear of 18th at that point we will be in for a long haul.

  28. Same old, same old: games we should win lost.
    My earlier post suggested Mido and Alves should not play together well they both had chances but they also got in each others way.
    Mido and Ali were very effective before Mido was injured last season.
    As for the other end of the pitch if their forward wasnt so greedy they would have had two more and of course the goal went through the keepers legs.We are definatly missing the Turk. The foul on Hoyte was definatly a pen but Stewy proberbly would have taken it anyway.
    What to do? PRAY

  29. Disappointed and angry kind of sums up how im feeling about the result and performance against WBA.
    At the end of the day the football we are playing is good to watch but it isnt getting results. For me we arnt moving the ball quick enough and letting teams get back with men behind the ball.
    For this type of football we need movement all over the park and if alves is gunna stand there and watch then it is going to break down because he is the focal point of the system. When the ball goes forward it needs to stick so that midfield can get up and support, its not, so we get caught pushing up and give the ball away.
    We can compare the football being played to Arsenal however arsenal have world class players who are technically superb. We have 2 – 3 max that can control the ball and pass it 10 yards. the only simalarity is keeping the ball on the deck.
    We have got to start playing more in triangles making space and passing the ball quicker and switching the play to allow downing and alliadiere to get balls into the box for alves to come on to.
    We have missed a whole host of chances but this is down to the pressure of knowing we must take them and that if we concede its more or less game over. i cant remember the last time we went a goal down and came back to win.
    We are only 6 games in but from the games we have played i wanted more points on the board no matter how we have played in them before the season started i think we shud have beaten WBA at home.
    I hope we as fans can be patient and hope that we start gettng the breaks sooner rather than later. watched wigan yesterday and if they play like that against us we will loose because they didnt stop working and harrased city giving them no time on the ball.
    COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Saturday was a big disappointment.I dont think overall we deserved to lose same as Sunderland and I expect a neutral would have enjoyed the game.
    There are a couple of issues which need to be sorted.Aliadiere will never be a right sided midfielder for as long as he lives.His impact in that position lessens by the week and he does not help his full back defensively.To me he either plays up top or is on the bench.
    Alves really needs a midfielder or a midfielder/forward that can put him in with balls along the floor.At this moment in time both such players are injured-Arca and Tuncay.If he is not scoring he’s not contributing a lot.
    Turnbull should be forgiven his first Schwarzeresque moment for the winning goal as generally he’s done well.It was little consolation on Match of the Day to see Schwarzer cost his team the game with two mistakes.
    Wigan are a good side with a few players who take the eye and this game will be difficult.I like Palacios in particular.We need to be solid and match their workrate.My team for Saturday-Turnbull Hoyte Huth Wheater Taylor Oneill Shawky Digard Downing Mido and Aliadiere with O’Neill back on the right.We then can bring on fresh players Alves Johnson Emnes to go for it in the last half hour when the game opens up.
    I’m not sure why we have seen so little of Emnes.In the preseason game against Celtic he played on the right wing and looked good with excellent close control and pace.He also tracked back and helped his full back.
    One thing for sure we need a result and a clean sheet and a boost to morale.

  31. All those people making fun of Newcastle.I don’t think they will be where they are at the end of the season the same goes for Spurs,unlike Boro who will be,if they carry on like this.Relegation will be a possiblity,i don’t think the quality is there,GS should have bought an experienced GK, think this may be Boros downfall,i have said it before,to even stay in the premireship now,you need to spend the money.If SG hasn’t got it ,then he has to find someone who does

  32. Predictable…both the result and our style of play. Southgate cannot make tactical changes, it is always like for like, result opposition sus us out and snuff us out. Its no good playing well and losing, or should i say playing well without an end result.
    Downing struggling…fact. Aliadiere wasted playing wide right…fact. Too slow moving out of defence…fact. No creative midfield players…fact. Slipping down the table after a promising start, fact.
    Mind you the only 2 teams weve got points against are both struggling worse than we are. We need a leader on the pitch and i’m afraid its not Stewie. We also need a bit more originality when attacking so if the present crew can’t provide it,bring in someone who can.

  33. Forever Dormo….point of order, you got confused mate, it was Woy Hattersley, not John Prescott, who was replaced with a tub of lard on Have I Got News For You.
    Speaking of tubs of lard brings us on to the latest flop on Saturday…the last time we won on the opening day was when Robbo was in charge and we gallumphed to a 3-1 win at Coventry. This was followed up by a home draw with Spurs which put us top of the Premiership. We then failed to win another game until well into the season, losing eight in a row at one stage and finishing up in our annual relegatory scrape.
    Notice any similiarities anyone?

  34. James Emmerson – You are correct on its being Roy Hattersley rather than John Prescott who was the Tub of Lard in Have I Got News for You. Apologies to all who love the great city of Kingston Upon Hull, and the former Deputy Prime Minister.
    This shows, James, that you have a good memory, as it was more than 15 years ago, on 04.06.93. It was apparently the third time Hattersley had failed to turn up at the last minute, hence the annoyance on the part of the programme makers and the Tub making its appearance. Doesn’t time fly? And it is evidence that even fondly remembered incidents can be wrongly recalled.
    On the point of which….didn’t Hull do well this last weekend? Nobody is realistically going to suggest Hull will end the season challenging for a Champions League place, but at least they are “giving it a go” in the Premier League. Sometimes fortune favours the brave. If you are going down, at least you can go down fighting.
    They may well give themselves a chance of staying up, and at least they have put points on the board, as a hedge against the weekends they play poorly and get soundly beaten. When they play us I bet they will not be overawed but will get stuck in and chance their arm. I hope they can stay up, providing it isn’t at our expense.
    We might all have reason to be nervous in the coming months. A win against WBA would have steadied those nerves. It would not have meant supporters feeling confident of finishing in the top 6 or 7, but it might have meant it felt more probable we would have the comfort of a position somewhere between, say, 10 and 14. We would all have preferred that.
    Who do you reckon is most disappointed in the way things have turned out recently? The supporters, the Press, the players, the management team, Steve Gibson himself? I bet it will be like this in 30 years time!

  35. Keep eharing it over and over again:
    GS should have bought a keeper
    Midfield not good enough
    Defence give away sloppy goals
    No creative attacking midfielder
    All totally irrelevant.
    If the keeper and defence were not performing adequately we should be shipping lots of goals. If anything the 2 keepers have done better than we expected them to.
    If we had no creativity in midfield we would not be creating a hatfull of chances every game. Last year Downing chipped in with a lot of goals from a wide midfield but we shouldnt need a midfielder to be top scorer.
    No its one problem and one alone – strikers who cannot score and look unlikely to score however simple the chances are presented to them. This is not new – we were under threat of relegation all last season because of it. Nothing has been done to fix that so its no surprise we are struggling again.
    Aliadiere – if he played every minute of every game of the season up front I doubt he would score 5. Playing him out wide right just weakens the midfield.
    Alves – whoever rates him as 12m wants his head examining. Must be one of the clubs worst ever buys. His “purple patch” at the end of last season was against teams already on the beach. this season he looks back to the way he did on arrival – way out of his depth.
    Mido scored twice when signed and has just had a little run which brought him a few – doubt he will get the same amount before Xmas but at least he has a vague idea what he is supposed to do. He should manage double figures over the course of a season – but the number of chances we are creating someone in the side should be well into the 20s for a season not struggle to 10.
    Tuncay chips in with a useful contribution but is not an out-and-out striker. Away from home however last season he did look to have a decent partership with Aliadiere capable of worrying opponents on the break and bringing the best out of Aliadiere too. The latter did score a few times in partnership with Tuncay – now he looks less likely to score than the keepers do.

  36. Stockton red is spot on with the comment about midfielders needing to play it to Alves’s feet. The guardian gave Carson man of the match as did I but the Times gave it to Alves. You cant do much when the keeper has a blinder and James Morrison is stopping Alves’s bullet header on the line.
    We was robbed and everyone at the ground new that. WBA defended for their lives and hung on, although I dont know how .A very exciting end to the match- but without 3 points it does nothing for us.
    I dont want to see us win ugly every week 1-nil and I think our luck has to change.
    I think the Alves Mido partnership could be amazing- would it be too attacking to suggest Tuncay or Alliadiere behind them in an advanced midfield spot.
    It would mean O’neil having to sit as a holding player infront of the back 4.

  37. Of course the tackle by Poggi seemed worse to observers by the dramatic sight of oxygen bottles, half a dozen medics and a stretcher appearing. Not saying he was feigning injury by any means, but nowadays there does seem to be a over reaction for the cameras. How many ‘worst tackle ever’ will we see this season?
    And Fergie, you just have to know how close he is to New Labour to understand his constant spinning!

  38. Saturday’s match was frustrating to say the least. Personally I hope Boro continue to play the same style of attacking football as they have so far this season. Another couple of dodgy results and it will be tempting for GS to be more conservative in his tactics, which will give us a dull dull season yet again.
    We have the strikers to score goals, we’re making plenty of chances, all that is needed is a change of fortune and most importantly for the defence to tighten up, concentrate for the full 95 minutes, not concede daft goals/late goals etc etc.
    It will come right, we need to be patient and brave!

  39. I’m quite heartened by the number of posts on here from the likes of Jiffy, Nigel and ‘Ignorant’ who despite seeing the points return fall away dramatically in the last 3 league matches remain upbeat about the prospects for the longer term.
    In previous seasons, I imagine there could have been a veritable flood of awfully negative postings calling for the manager’s head already. However, although a few are making warning noises, on balance, there seems to be a more patient resignation in the air based on an appreciation of the style of football that Southgate’s trying to make work and the direction he’s been taking with the squad reconstruction, albeit we’re a bit light in certain areas.
    Having done some numerical goal-time analysis, I agree with those who have mentioned already on the basis of match observation and gut-feel, that the main cause for concern is our inability to convert the chances we’re making.
    However, what the analysis throws into focus is a suspicion that to create those chances, we’re having to play a relatively high-energy game from the off. And because we’re not building that goals cushion earlier in matches, when we weaken – and we HAVE weakened badly in the closing stages of most matches – we’re conceding enough goals to do serious points damage. One is usually enough to drop two points and two almost certainly enough to see us leave pointless, because of the small margins in our matches to date.
    I’m not sure what Southgate means when he says we must “get back to basics”, but worryingly, that was Steve McClaren’s stock-phrase for public consumption when defence consolidation was on the cards.
    I’m not saying this is a wrong approach when winning ugly or scraping draws is required, but some of the ‘flair approach’ may have to be sacrificed if energy is to be conserved a bit so that Boro can be a 95-minute competitive side, instead of the 80 minute side they have been in most matches so far.
    The judicious use of the bench to substitute for ‘spent legs’ in high-mileage positions is also a tactic to employ.
    However, I’m sure that all of these issues are well-recognised by Boro’s management and coaching team and that it’s only a matter of time until they’re appropriately addressed!!
    Also, anything that can be done, such as close personal coaching of individual strikers, to sharpen up the chance conversion rate performance of the strike force would be a welcome piece of attention.
    It needs to be remembered that it’s not skittles. The idea is to avoid hitting the goalkeeper, the crossbar, the post, either corner flag and the guy on Row 23 of the North Stand!

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