Gate’s Century: Dawn Of A New Era?

IS 100 GAMES too soon to judge on Gareth Southgate? It is not completely unknown for some Boro fans to take a whole 100 seconds to make an assessment of a player but the evolution of an entire philosophy, the creation of a balanced unit and the ability to get all the parts working in harmony is a different issue. For one thing, at least there is the possibility that some people may change their mind.
Gareth Southgate has just clocked up his century of games in charge but his team is still a work in progress. It has taken him two summers to clear the deadwood, trim the wagebill and reallocate the resources to rebuild his squad and get in the players that suit the high-tempo creative style he wants. Until we see that team really tested it would not be fair to judge.
That said, we are rapidly approaching ‘make your mind up time.’

The boss had admitted that this is the season he must deliver. The two terms of rebuilding and fine-tuning have shown glimpses of a side capable of flashes of brilliance as it has been feeling its way forward to a refreshing, eye-pleasing style delivered within the confines of a prudent financial model. That bodes well for the future and fully deserves support.
But the two campaigns have also revealed recurring problems – inability to score, late goals conceded, brittle on the road – seemingly going unaddressed which have undermined any obvious progress up the table or certainly any prospect of Great Leap Forward. Those must solved this term if the Southgate project is not to disintegrate, floundering in lower mid-table while supporters – still largely supportive – slip back into the downward cycle of bickering, grumbling and eventually deserting.
Looking back over the first 100 games under Southgate it struck me how, despite the team playing “good football” and trying to get forward and entertain – that is become the very antithesis of the essence of discredited McClarenism – there were so very few obvious highs. The team has played well in spells, often for up to 70 or 80 minutes in games, only to crash and burn and make impotent the good work in a short period of costly chaos.
The highs, games like the 5-1 thrashing of Bolton, the 2-1 Riverside win over then unbeaten Arsenal and the 8-1 hammering of Manchester City or a string of spirited draws against the big boys, are far out-mumbered by the depths of games where it all unravelled or where the team simply never competed:; games like the 4-0 home mauling by Portsmouth, a 3-0 tonking at West Ham, those late kicks in the teeth to Sunderland and worse of all, the sickening rock bottom FA Cup exit to Cardiff when the door to Wembley was swinging temptingly ajar.
I remain supportive – I still believe that Boro are two, maybe three, players away from being a very good side and that the shape and style ticks a lot of boxes and that the team are playing the kind of football we all want to see, with pace and passion and a commitment to creativity – but recognise that crunch time is coming and unless there is tangible progress this term that the popular support for Southgate could start to fade rapidly and that we will be treading water again. And if you stand still in football you go backwards.
And as a final note here is the team that Southgate started out with in August 2006 in 3-2 defeat at newly promoted Reading, a game that Boro were two up in after 19 minutes but contrived to lose with a spectacular collapse. Would we win that game now?

68 thoughts on “Gate’s Century: Dawn Of A New Era?

  1. Matt
    It is highly unlkely to miss 27 chances and draw a blank again. To miss gilt edged chances and then implode is achievable and just to prove it is no fluke we can do it at will.
    The debate is largely about what to do to get points on the board without going back to dreadful football – and we havent got the players to do dogged and dull. Looking at who we let go during the summer is irrelevant because we were giving goals and points away when they were here.
    Gate will be judged on the basis that he will have turned it round or not. Some people think he doesnt have the skills, others think it is a matter of time. All of us want him to do it.

  2. Jiffy, you hit on something i said in my lengthy rant above – Liverpool and Man Utd were both bought through money borrowed from hedge funds.
    This is very dodgy ground to be on, as more than any other clubs, Man Utd and Liverpool have to consistently qualify for champions league group stages. This will keep their Asian exposure high and ensure big revenues from prize money and merchandising.
    If they do not qualify for group stages for say 3 seasons, the profits are no longer there and perhaps the owners don’t like paying back the hedge fund loans from their own pockets and so assets will be sold. Therefore making CL qualification harder, so more assets are sold and so the club struggles further. Therefore the owners will have much reduced income, don’t fancy paying the money back from their own pocket and so put the club into administration.
    The question is for all those people that have been slagging Gibson and calling for mystical foreign investors that are apparently straining at the leash to buy Boro, do you want the existence of your club to be decided by American gamblers out for pure profit or by a local guy who helped save the club from extinction by ploughing much of his own cash into it and bringing, in relative terms, success to the club.

  3. It is clear that the majority view in here is against me, but I note that it isn’t unanimous.
    The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. So, so far my view holds more water than the majority view as the league table doesn’t lie, as it didn’t lie last year.
    Time will tell and I agree that it’s early days, but no one can deny that with so few games gone we are allready talking about a must win game against Wigan which isn’t very good, is it ?
    Then we have some very, very tough games and if we lose the next three we are in deep touble.
    Vic, I fully understand your point of view and where you coming from as you are deep rooted fan, although I do take issue with the fact that you only put up topics that you agree with as I don’t think this is fair.
    Given the choice of a more rich Gibson or a foreign investor I’d take the more rich Gibson every day of the week for all the reasons that you state. But as he’s not on the cards we will just float about and simply exist because Gibson has done all he can and can’t do anymore.
    So although I again say that I fully understand where you’re coming from, for me personally it’s not enough and I would like to go to another Eindhoven before I die as it was simply amazing.
    My point of view is simply that with the likes of GS and the limited money that Gibson provides that we will probably not seen another Eindhoven for some time.
    But like I’ve said before, unlike most of the people in here, I could quite easily be wrong and I absolutely look forward to being proved wrong at the end of the season.
    This doesn’t make me Schitzo, a fool and idiot or a raving lunatic. It just makes me part of the minority view, that’s all.

  4. TB – minority views are still valid views. They may be right or they may be wrong, but this Blog is not a one-party state. Minorities are tolerated and sometimes they grow and become the majority. However arguing Steve Gibson should go (with which, for the record, I do not agree) is as likely to be as popular as a Conservative Party candidate in Port Clarence.
    SG is not God, though. He probably doesn’t expect to be above criticism, but he has done so much good for the club, and acquired such a Mount Everest of brownie points that he would have to embark on a long series of follies and massive own goals before a majority of voices would be raised against him.
    As to your views on Gareth Southgate, again you are in a minority. I think most of us were surprised and, if we were honest, a little disappointed when he got the job. Yet another rookie manager when it would have been great to have an experienced head to deal with the dressing room, and to make tactical changes when needed to change the course of a game!
    But actually he seems to show signs he might have it in him. He is articulate, more often sees the same game we saw than his predecessor (who sometimes must have been on another planet), he seems a likeable guy. I do not think he “has to go” at this stage and I hope he can turn it around. There are green shoots poking through: we just have to hope the frosts in the next couple of months don’t kill them off.
    I agree starting the season without an experienced goalie was a gamble, so we don’t differ on everything. It is a gamble I would not have taken, bearing in mind that keepers seem to be both the cheapest of the players in the team and yet the most important. But it is possible Turnbull might prove good enough and I don’t write him off at this stage. Anyway I would PREFER to have players coming through the ranks, IF they are good enough.
    So we want different opinions, so long as they are not abusively expressed. (I suppose a heap of abuse will now come my way….).
    To deal with recent comments from contributors about billionaire investors – they have their pros and cons.
    It would be great to have enough money available to be able to afford a Steve Gerrard to boost the midfield (actually, if he wanted, he could be the main striker and I bet he’d get 20 goals a season), or a Messi or a Casillas. Of course they’d have to share the dressing room with a leavening portion of local academy products. It would be nice to have a few top of the range Mercedes S Classes and Granturismo Maseratis alongside our home grown Range Rovers, but to pay for the high running costs you would need the deepest of pockets.
    The downside is the vulnerable position the club would then be in. Frankly, even if all 20 Premier League teams were owned by multi billionaires or sovereign wealth funds, only one team could be crowned champions at the end of the season, only three others would qualify for the Holy Grail of the Champions League, and only two could win the cups (and they might well also be in the top four, with teams doubling up on the prizes!). On the other hand most would still have won nothing at the end of the season, and three would be relegated, whether their owners had invested £100M, or £5B.
    I suppose in the case all teams were owned by the mega-rich, there might be a suggestion there should be no relegation at all. But who believes a man (or nation) rich enough to invest hundreds of million, or even billions, in a football club, would be satisfied to finish potless and seventeenth in the league?
    The rich benefactors would no doubt become bored, might want to take up a new pastime or follow up a new fashion. The poor unskilled worker may be citizen of the UK, but the very wealthy are citizens of the world and go where the opportunities lie. At the moment it seems quite a few Russian plutocrats live in London. In future, if the economic or social climate changes, it might be that Spain, or France (or even South America or Asia) would be more attractive.
    Look, chaps, it isn’t too much of a flight of fantasy that Spanish or Italian clubs might in a few years become the desirable new rich man’s toys. The weather might often be warmer and wouldn’t it be convenient to berth the 200 foot yacht in the Mediterranean marina for a home game? A little more attractive than parking the Mirror at Paddy’s Hole, or even at Hartlepool?
    But what if Putin or his mate decides to sequester the assets of an Abramovich? The club would go downhill at the speed of light and the debts and interest payments couldn’t possibly be sustained out of income. Players wages would be a lead weight around the neck of the club without access to the funds which had kept its head above water. Players would have to be sold in a buyer’s market…. Look what happened to Leeds United.
    The only people who really care about a club, for life, are the fans. We have a rich fan at the helm of our club. He isn’t able to compete with the billionaires. But he isn’t likely to get bored with the club as a wealthy Johnnie come Lately might, and then drop the club for the next fashionable toy (a cricket franchise in Mumbai anyone, a man-made island off Dubai, or maybe, say, Santos or Vasco da Gama in one of the fastest growing economies in the world?).
    It would be great if SG were a billionaire. But I would prefer him at the helm than someone who has turned up from, say, India looking for a club to buy, but who hadn’t heard about Middlesbrough before, yet alone knew it had a football team.
    Stick with what we have got, lads. It’s pretty good, and it’s ours.
    We do, however, need to get a result on the field pretty soon. A win last Saturday against WBA would have set most nerves to rest. Winning all three home games but losing the away games, and then continuing in that fashion, would have been a distinct improvement on last year. But we can’t go on being “unlucky”. A jammy, undeserved, win against the run of play would do me fine.

  5. Richard – I very much enjoyed your “rant” from 11.16pm and agree with much of it. It wasn’t there when I started to type a post I’ve just sent down the line, but that is probably a function of my typing speed and the fact that I have been keeping one eye on the TV and dealing with other interruptions.
    Surely at 2am (here) there must be some Boro fans in Peru, or New Zealand, sharpening their keyboard skills. Or as Zebedee used to say, “Time for bed”.

  6. Richard
    I think we all agree with your sentiments. I can think of only one flaw, two actually, in your article.
    I dont think using Blatter and Platini as moral justification is valid. They most certainly have misgivings about the English premier league but moral they are not.
    Platini went to play in Italy for money and the fact many top players went there because of the money and the transfer fees they paid. It was the top league in the world. He had no qualms about it then. He had no qualms about about Spain and Italy dominating europe and paying silly salaries and transfer fees that even Manu and Chelseas would think twice about. He had no qualms about the obscene fee that Real were trying to tempt Manu to part with Ronaldo or the wages for that matter, in fact he stated he should go.
    He doesnt seem interested about the institutional violence in Italian football so eloquently described by AV in the past. Nor the routine racial abuse in parts of Europe. If he thinks money is obscene why doesnt he hold the draws for his competitions in a Luton school hall?
    Blatter is no better, he thinks Ronaldo honouring his contract is slavery. He is like Platini, he doesnt care how Spanish and Italian football are run, he had no qualms about the transfer fees and salaries in those leagues. He certainly doesnt squirm at the stench of corruption at international level of the game. Given half a chance he and his cronies would hi jack the 39th game and rebrand it in some form as a FIFA tournament.
    I agree with what you write but not using those two characters to back up your argument.

  7. Pat Mc – Great post I agree with everything you say.
    Richard – another great post, you’ll have AV looking over his shoulder if you keep up that level of post!
    I for one think we’re extremely lucky to have SG as owner/chairman of Boro, he’s not above critisism, in fact he got plenty of it the summer before last and he responded, a new club management structure, improved PR, creative pricing and as ever the backing of the manager in the transfer market.
    However the biggest asset he gives the club is stability, every manager he has employed he has given them time to build a team and to deliver success and so far they all have delivered success.
    My only worry is that SG isn’t immortal!

  8. Hey Ian! Things are looking up! Only 5 words (and 2 names, granted) to really object to out of that long post?? Brilliant! Wish I could transfer that strike rate to Boro’s front line!
    You’re right – it only takes one little slip to spoil an otherwise decent performance. Look at Boro’s last home match!
    But maybe that was more a case for the defence? Speaking of which…..
    Forever Dormo – at 2am (!) you’re clearly not Forever Dormant! Crickey Jings – and I thought I was alone in the world! I really enjoyed your parallel posting too. And speaking of postings, are you resident overseas now or does “here” really mean in the same time zone as Dormanstown?

  9. Forever Dormo,
    for me the Gibson issue isn’t one of wanting him “OUT” because he’s a bad chairman.
    I have said time and time again in here that he should be given the freedom of the town for what he’s done and that he’s done more to put Boro on the map and to regenerate the town more than any politician has or could ever do.
    As a man, as a chairman and as a fan he’s been truly first class and fully deserves an MBE / OBE / Knighthood.
    He’s a truly class act and I don’t have anything bad to say against him.
    However, my contention is merely this, and although I don’t agree with what the Birmingham chairman said about the club I do whole heartidly agree with the sentiment.
    My contention is that Gibson doesn’t have the money to take us to the next level, and whilst I fully understand all the points Vic and you all have clearly stated about foreign momey it’s sustainability, the fact of the matter is that it’s out there and we ain’t got it. So the rest will kick on to places that we simply cannot afford to go.
    Whilst I would dearly love a lifelong fan and not some rich Arab who has just learnt of the clubs existance, like the guys who just bought Man City, how are we ever going to compete with the other clubs that go down that line when we don’t ?
    My personal view is that we have to get it if the preffered option of a wealthier Gibson is not available.
    I went to Eindhoven and I had the time of my life, even though we lost. What an amazing ride and day that was.
    I want that again and all I merely suggest is that with the current state of affairs of the billionaire club owners invading the Premiership, whilst we remain as we are the likes of Eindhoven will probably never come again and that for me as a fan is simply not acceptable.
    Why do we bother to sack managers ? Because they are either bad or because they have been in the job long enough and done what they can. So we get someone else in who has the credentials to take us to the next level.
    We accept that this is how it is for managers and coaching staff e.t.c., so why is the chairman any different ?

  10. We wouldn’t even be considering sacking Southgate or Gibson at this point in time if we’d have won the games we lost. If we had won all the games we lost we’d all be saying how amazing we are and that we are now in contention for a Uefa Cup place.
    Truthfully, we have only deserved to loose 2 games this year though. That was against Pompey, as we only had 1 shot on target which was the goal. And the other game we deserved to loose was against Man United because we were out played by their range of young talent.
    Liverpool had luck on their side when they beat us, as did Sunderland and West Brom. If only luck had been on our side. Soon our luck will change and the chances we create will go in.
    For all those against Southgate, you wouldn’t dare have said you wanted him out when you found out he was manager of the month. Stick by the man, he has a unique style of management and has a great vision for what he wants from his team, and if the team don’t play as well as he’d like he never gives up or packs in unlike a lot of managers would do nowadays.

  11. I never called for any heads to roll in any prior posts as with a win today, and let’s bloody hope so, we can shoot back up the table.
    It is early days and every post prior to this topic I have been at pains to say so.
    This was a specific topic about GS first
    100 games in charge and it asked if it was a the dawn of a new era and so hence my answers.
    No reason at all why we can’t win today. Hopefully the recent losses and the slowly mounting pressure will galvanise the team and managemnt into producing what we all know we can.
    With a great win here we then go onto the Chelsea game full of confidence and all guns blazing.
    Boro win 2-1. Alves to score both.
    COME ON !

  12. One of the points from unusual sources games.
    Were we lucky, not really. We didnt play well, our passing was poor (64% vs 80% for Wigan) but we defended better. If you are not playing well going forward rhere is no law that says you have to roll over.
    Turnbull and the centre backs will get loads of praise but they were doing their jobs. There were no clearances off the line, no woodwork getting in the way. Wigan were made to play in front of us.
    Our attacking was limited but it will be if you have an outbreak of Boatism, if you cant pass to each other then the other team will keep coming at you.
    It says 1-0 to the Boro in my paper, end of story.

  13. Richard – not resident overseas, just awake at some ungodly hours, and still in the same timezone! I spent the weekend getting severely rained on in Hutton le Hole, whilst listening to the commentary on BBC Tees (Friday night was frigid as well, but at least the sun came out today before we returned home). The things you have to do to keep the wife happy.
    What a good result!
    I had received a text message a couple of days ago: “Are you having strange unaccountable desires to go to Wigan?”, from the maniac who sits next to me at the Riverside (and who has clearly built up a mountain of brownie points to be able to go the game). Told him I had agreed to go camping. He wondered whether there might be some nice camp sites near Wigan so that two birds could be killed by the same stone. In short – no! So he went on his own.
    Imagine the gloating text message I received after the game. I think I recently suggested I’d be happy with a jammy one-nil win, with a goal off the ref’s backside. Well, one-nil at Wigan is just fine. And suddenly the world looks so much sunnier.
    Next week I will be back at the Riverside and there are only about 4 more weeks to go before the camping season ends and full attention can be given to the footie. It is a real bind travelling back to camp after a home game when the game has not gone well. The trip back to a site near Ayr, when we had thrown away a two-goal lead in injury time against Fulham, was a particularly grim one.
    So we have won again. Hopefully no more “we have turned the corners” and no more “on this basis Europe is not out of the questions”. Time for a bit of realism. Hopefully a rest from the “Sack the Board, we are going downs”.
    I haven’t yet seen the game or the highlights but it sounded like a good rearguard action, a welcome clean sheet, and a forward scoring a goal. That is a good start and whatever the result against a very strong Chelsea team next week, I feel much better about our finishing somewhere near the middle of the table at the end of the season. Gentle good progress would be fine by me.
    And it’s also beginning to look as though Turnbull might well have it in him to be a good keeper at the top level. It was a gamble and it is still early days, of course, but I am sure Gareth Southgate would be happy to see a line of several thousand supporters all waiting their turn to say “Sorry”. We would all be delighted to see one of our own between the sticks, if he proves good enough.
    That glass is looking suspiciously half full again!

  14. Says gt: “Southampton have a younger team than we have but their one touch football was outstanding and I see a brighter future for them. We still play too square.”
    gt, I don’t even need to look up Soton’s stats to know you’re wrong. The oldest player in our squad is Riggott who turned 28 4-weeks ago while our squad’s average age is 23. Also, what league are they in? See yeah.

  15. A.V.
    I am entering the fray a little bit late I fear, a lot of what I would have liked to have written has already been posted. In the main the debate has been polarized for or against, with some good observations in between.
    Your initial question I believe was, is one hundred games too soon to judge Mr Southgate’s performance, but has not GS himself asked us to judge him on this season, if so that is what we will have to do.
    As my previous posts have indicated I was not in favour of the appointment of GS, I was disappointed and thought that the time was ripe for us to go for an experienced manager.
    However with hindsight (what a wonderful gift) I realize that such a manager was unlikely to come given the restrictions that were to be imposed on the club by the Chairman, it was therefore necessary to appoint from within and GS was in the right place at the right time. Correct me if I am wrong but I had never heard GS make any statement about wanting to be a manager, yet suddenly the job was his.
    Therefore we got a manager who was not even a qualified coach, not often one can be given a job and be told that one can apply for the necessary qualificatios at a later date!
    That led us to two seasons of treading water, no progress in terms of league position and constantly looking over our shoulder.
    In that time further restrictions have bee imposed on the manager, does he really have full control over new signings, (goal keepers for instance) I doubt it, or who should be allowed to leave, obviously not.
    So GS has to be judged in terms of the conditions imposed on him.
    Without making any judgemeet I see some positive signs, young players, a good work ethic, players wanting to impress.
    I see negative signs as well, playing “name” players when they are not performing, playing individuals out of position in order to keep “names” in the team, naive coaching (getting oufoxed very easily by Arry and Keano) and injudicious or ridiculous substitutions (Taylor on with Walker on the bench, because he used to play midfield in the juniors).
    To conclude, it would seem that the measure of success at the club now, is to simply survive in the PL and if that happens then GS will be judged successful, not by me, but by the Chairman, who appointed him on the first place.

  16. David Connor
    Do not post about injuries because you will only get me going. I dont want to post about injuries occuring everywhere but that we seem to constantly to have injuries escalate from a flu virus to cruciate ligament injury, a sprained wrist to hamstring, back in 4 weeks to see you next season following the third operation, having at least two ‘just like a new signing’ in each transfer window.
    So dont get me going and I wont do a Richard and chop down a virtual forest! (no insult meant Richard).

  17. Just going back to people being against gibbo, the cutting back on wages and bringing financial stability in the current climate was a must.
    A football club should be self sufficient, just look at gretna green in scotland, they relied on a cash happy chairman and now they cease to exist. The platforms being laid to prevent that, or a repeat of 1986 when we were nearly no more.
    Gibbo is central to the future and we should trust him, he is widely considered one of the best chairmen for good reason. I agree with us trying to build a young team and utilise our academy, but we need one or two experienced campaigners come january, they might just help eliminate some of the basic errors we make, and help with the youngsters development.
    Wayne Bridge and either Bullard or Nolan should be attainable and just round the squad off. Rob Green would also be a good buy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s