Are Boro In A Basement Battle?

BORO salvaged a draw against West Ham which by my reckoning makes it five dropped because it was officially the first six pointer of the season. The first but definitely not the last. Oh no, this is going to be the longest, most gruelling, emotionally draining, tense, fraught and fractious white-knuckle ride of a season that is more likely to bring Boro fans to the point of fisticuffs than any since Robbo’s final chaotic campaign.


With ten games gone the cut-throat relegation war of attrition has been declared earlier than ever before with the Premiership table tighter than ever and positions thrown into flux with every form-book ripping result. Stoke beat Arsenal and leap from the drop spots to within a point of the top half, Newcastle edge nose past Villa and leap from rock bottom to 14th and one win away from sawing the top off the double decker bus of expectation.
Boro are in eighth but only three points clear of the drop. Everton are one point and one place better off but have won just one home game and look very poor and Hull are above them after a fairytale start but if reality bites they could dragged in too. And with no team looking likely to “do a Sunderland” as Derby did last year we are in a division with 14 teams involved in the dog-fight and it will fluctuate wildly by the week. This campaign will not be one for the faint hearts, although the polemicists from the two traditionally diametrically opposed ideological camps will be in their element.
Pretty much every game every week for as far as the eye can see to the horizon of eternity looks to be a six-pointer. No team can afford a slip. Certainly not two in a row. And while the boring squabble for position in the pre-determined top four will consume the Murdoch machine and its sycophantic spinners the real action, the tension and drama, will be down in the lower reaches as every fixture between the mass of mid-table makeweights will be played for high stakes and in a state of heightened emotion. The super-sized basement battle is where it is at.
Look at the fixtures this weekend…
Saturday:
Arsenal v Man Utd
Hull v Bolton
Liverpool v West Brom
Sunderland v Portsmouth
West Ham United v Everton
Wigan v Stoke
Sunday:
Aston Villa v Boro
Blackburn v Chelsea
Fulham v Newcastle
Man City v Spurs
Arsenal v Man United looks the least important game of the weekend. Any ground lost there – and chances are it will be a tetchy dull draw dominated by whingeing myopic managers, petulance, posing and sickening uncritical fawning – will be made up by routinely crushing the next unfortunate sacrificial lambs to the slaughter. The real urgency and absorbing action will unfold in the rest of the fixtures where the true sporting essence of uncertainty of outcome oozes.
And next week it is Six Pointer City too :
Arsenal v Villa
Blackburn v Sunderland
Bolton v Liverpool
Fulham v Spurs
Man Utd v Stoke
Newcastle v Wigan
West Brom v Chelsea
West Ham v Portsmouth
Everton v Boro
Hull v Man City
It is important we do not panic when results seem to swing against us, which at times they no doubt will in what is sure to be a sweat soaked season in which it will be beta blockers all round. As the campaign unfolds the weak will be worn down and we must ensure we are not among them. Boro must show steel and determination and the crowd must share that resolve. Getting tetchy and looking for scapegoats on or off the pitch may release some tension in what will be an excruciating trial of endurance but it won’t do much for the team at a time when every little helps.
It is easy to see problems in the fragility of Boro’s position – three points from a drop spot is an incontrovertible fact no matter what your natural disposition when it comes to judging the contents of a glass – but there are a dozen teams worse off and they face a tough uphill slog of unforgiving fixtures too.
Boro now have two tough away trips coming up to a pair of the teams immediately above us – Villa then Everton – from which a pathetic sounding two points will actually be a good return and three a fantastic one (although arguably two draws and the building of a long unbeaten run will be of greater psychological benefit .)
After that though comes the run of four six pointers in five games in the run-up to Christmas that will decide whether we are scrapping to stay just ahead of the merciless mid-table pack or battling anxiously to get back into it. Coming up are Bolton and Newcastle at home, Hull away (hopefully after the adrenaline has faded to be replaced by fear and vertigo) then after Arsenal visit the Riverside we go to Fulham.
All the teams currently below us have similar demanding runs. Some will climb above Boro with mini-revivals but some will fall by the wayside. The tight table will spread out and a couple will be tailed off. If we are still then just three points above the drop spots it may be time to locate the panic button. Until then, enjoy the tension.

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56 thoughts on “Are Boro In A Basement Battle?

  1. What a great result, and how good it is to see us getting the rub of the green again.
    The next four games could really see us push on, everton a, bolton h, newcastle h, hull a, 9 points plus isn’t unrealistic.
    And – we still aren’t obviously playing to our full potential, there is more to come from most of the players.

  2. Stop the world! Something must be wrong. Positive comments and a few little video clips in praise of Downing by the pundits on Match of the Day.
    If Lawro starts tipping us to win games then I’ll know it’s serious. Maybe the Beeb has been knocked off balance by the Ross/Brand kerfuffle.
    Perhaps normal BBC service will be restored next week.

  3. I criticized Downing and Tuncay for talking about Europe and they have spoken on the pitch . So if we do get into Europe we will definitely need a bigger squad.
    Or is reality obscured by the over sized foam hand I am waving around in glee .
    Even though Alves changed his boots he still couldnt find the ones he wore in Holland, the search continues!
    I would still play him unless Mido is fit as he could yet catch fire, maybe its too damp for him weatherwise ?

  4. Being a Boro fan for the past 40+ years (30 of them living in South Africa)I have never been so optimistic than this season. I was on holiday in the UK in October and had the rare opportunity and privalage to see the Boro play at home against Chelsea. So what, they got beat 0-5, we are not the first team or the last team to be well beat by one of the 4 “untouchables’. Maybe it is what was needed to kick start a good season for boro.
    I agree with Nigel, I can’t see any other team out side of the top 4 being better than the Boro, on a good day, they have and still can give the big 4 a run for their money
    I am predicting a win at Everton

  5. Ian Oliver, I agree with you we could beat Everton. Saha must be marked as he is in top form with an assist followed by 2 goals all late on in their last match.
    If we can stay calm and pass the ball around we could score a few goals on the counter attack with Everton being the home team and coming forward.
    I will even go so far to predct Alves as first goal scorer followed by the mighty TUNCAY.
    I think Everton will get a goal but hopefully it will be too late and we will have already wrapped the game up.
    Hows that for positive thinking.

  6. I dont think we can get carried away yet with all this Europe talk and a few good results. We are 8th in the league but 5 points of the bottom 3 thats just 2 wins away from being right back in the brown stuff.
    Everton is a massive game for Boro and if we can come out with a draw then it will make the villa result even more satisfying. I didnt expect us to get anything at villa but expected to turn West Brom over at home so could you say that evens it out?
    The points we have dropped so far, Liverpool, West Brom, Blackburn, Sunderland (8 possibly from the positions we where in) still live long and just because we win at villa dosnt mean that the mistakes in those games have been irradicated.
    The test comes in the short term over 5-6 games and in the long haul the season 38 games. 11 points from the last 7 doesnt seem to bad but can we say that should be 19 from 7 and looking up rather than over our shoulder at the melee below us.
    It’s very very easy to get carried away but it only takes one bad result to upset the apple cart and Everton isnt a place Boro have a good record at. A point at Everton which will be amazing followed by a result at home to Bolton and the slaughtering of Newcastle would be perfect and then maybe we can start looking at what might be.
    If Boro put so much in against Man City and were lame against West Ham then how much did they put in against Villa? I’d be happy with consistency and good performances and building a platform to build on rather than a one season wonder.
    COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!!

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