We Need International Rescue

OF THE last nine matches straight after England international Boro have lost eight and drawn one. One point from 27! No matter how you look at it that is abysmal.
And it gets worse. In 15 games hot on the heels of the England sideshow in the Southgate era, Boro have won just one. One! And drawn three. So, six points from 45. That is more than just a statistical freak. That is a self destructive habit that must be quickly broken before it wrecks Boro’s lofty ambitions of top half status.


Jet-lag from sitting in the jump seat on the red eye, heads turned by Big Time Charlie glamour, sophisticated continental injuries, unfairly savaged by long distance bigots and boo-boys, tropical disease and a lack of preparation time back at the ranch for the next game… whatever, the coitus interruptus of mid-season international fixtures has left Boro’s season shattered.
Just when the team gets into a groove, builds up a bit of momentum and gets somewhere near a settled side with a shape and tempo that works the main components get shuttled around Europe to adopt a different style, pace and philosophy then limp back for the people who pay their wages with their heads in a whirl .
This season Boro have lost all four games immediately after the international pauses.
Worse still, they have lost eight out of the last nine games after these breaks, the other being a 2-2 draw at home to Newcastle back in August 2007.
And going right back over Southgate’s reign Boro have lost 11 out of 15, drawn three and won just one measly game – a 2-1 home win over Everton thanks to a Yakubu penalty – after one of these pesky pauses. That is catestrophic.
This term’s untimely interruptions have been followed by defeats at Liverpool and Portsmouth and at home to Chelsea then, the latest, to Bolton. At Liverpool – relatively early on and with the season barely underway – Boro battled superbly and were the best team for 85 minutes and were unlucky to get caught late on with a fluke deflection and a late sucker punch to lose 2-1. But the other three were, in truth, pale performances.
Against Portsmouth off-key Boro caved in under second half pressure, in the Chelsea game they were systematically taken apart and in the encounter against Bolton the game was effectively over before they decided to join in.
The Portsmouth game came after a cruel international break in September which magic man Tuncay, the mercurial link between midfield and attack and arguably the most important cog in the Middlesbrough machine, was injured. The Turk picked up a shin injury in a friendly against Belgium that left him sidelined for a month in which a Boro side bereft of his creativity lost four games out of five.
For the next break, Boro were dealt different problems that hampered the build up to the Chelsea Riverside rout. Stewart Downing had been left demoralised after failing to appear in the Belarus and Kazakhstan games, a hangover from his scapegoat status after the previous game against Andorra, and played with his chin on the floor.
Meanwhile distracted David Wheater looked like a man who had made a physically and emotionally draining – and totally pointless – midnight mercy dash straight after the Under-21s game to join England’s squad only to watch from the stands against Borat’s boys.
After that Boro put their season back together, the walking wounded returned and they built a five game unbeaten run that took them into the top half and prompted signs of rash optimism on Teesside. Naturally it all came apart again after another inexplicable round of midweek international friendlies.
Ironically, this time it was after midweek games in which Boro’s two brightest and most potent talents – Downing and Tuncay – put in pundit-pleasing performances and should have come back buzzing. Of course it is not as simple as that. Having played on Wednesday and flown home straight after both would have missed training on Thursday and so a day of tactical preparation was written off.
But it is the same for both sides, right? Hmmm. Bolton had two players who had been on international duty too but Gardner, who played for Jamaica, and Smolarek or Poland started on the bench. And plenty of other Premier League sides had key players jetting around the continent – and some even further afield – without such a spectacular record of caving in after every international break… although there were some strange results at the weekend and all the top four failed to score.
Players are drilled week in, week out in particular tactical nuances, moves and ploys. It becomes second nature. To suddenly be taken out of that environment and told to do something different, take up a different position, adopt a different shape can be disorientating. It is not unusual for player who excel at club level to be fish out of water for their national team, not neccessarily becuase they are exposed as poor players but more often because they can’t quickly enough adjust to a different mentality. And the same adjustment, not so marked admittedly but maybe enough to take an edge of their next game, has to be made in reverse when they return to their club.
That said, players good enough for international football should be adaptable enough and fit enough to focus and deliver in a club game three days later.And no-one would suggest we don’t want players at Boro who not considered good enough to be put to that test by being called up.
Besides, against Bolton Downing and Tuncay were among Boro’s better performers.
It was a collective failure to perform that cost the points and that has been the repeatedly self-destructive pattern now for two years which suggests the problem is mental as much as anything.
The disruption to routine raises practical questions about preparation. Having two, three, four or more key players missing makes it almost impossible to work on specific set-plays, to sit down and watch the videos to highlight the chief threats and then to get out on the training pitch and practice ways of countering them.
Internationals, not just the games but the different and unfamiliar training routines and preparation, seem to bring with them a higher than usual body count. We may be more acutely aware of our own club’s woes but these games seem to bring with them a disproportionate number of injuries. Or maybe they just sting more.
Losing Tuncay for a month in a friendly was a major blow. It is nice for the profile and the players’ self esteem but I actually hope our lads don’t get picked so as to minimise the risk (although with some you suspect they would still get crocked in a freak airport carousel accident). For Boro this is more important than most because the squad is too small to cope if players comes back with a knock or clearly jaded.
And the fixtures may be a factor too. Of the 15 games following the breaks in Southgate’s reign seven have been against Champions League sides – we have played Chelsea and Liverpool three times each and Arsenal once and taken just one point.
Another of the games was a derby with Newcastle, which was a 2-2 draw at home.
And two others were away at West Ham and we don’t have a great record down there.
Among the rest was Southgate’s very first game in charge, a 3-2 defeat at Reading immediately after an England friendly win over Greece in which Stewie had sizzled.
But that is just making excuses for a shocking sequence that defies any logic and has ripped a hole through Boro ambitions to be a top half team.
The over-crowded international calendar is not going away any time soon no matter what we club-centric international refusniks want (and personally I would scrap all mid-season friendlies and restrict competitive qualifiers to odd numbered summers) so this is a pressing problem – tactical or mental – that must be urgently addressed.
Boro can’t afford to write off six games a term and can afford still less to have precious and fragile momentum halted so easily.
BORO GAMES AFTER ENGLAND INTERNATIONALS
2006-07
Aug 19 A Reading L 2-3
Sept 9 A Arsenal D 1-1
Oct 14 H Everton W 2-1
Nov 18 H Liverpool D 0-0
Feb 10 A Chelsea L 0-3
Mar 31 A West Ham L 0-2
2007-08
Aug 26 H Newcastle D 2-2
Sept 15 A West Ham L 0-3
Oct 20 H Chelsea L 0-2
Nov 24 H Aston Villa L 0-3
Feb 23 A Liverpool L 2-3
2008-09
Aug 23 A Liverpool L 1-2
Sept 13 A Portsmouth L 1-2
Oct 18 H Chelsea L 0-5
Nov 22 H Bolton L 1-3
Total:
P 15 W1 D3 L11 F12 A35 Pts 6

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36 thoughts on “We Need International Rescue

  1. AV:
    I’ve just read your informative piece on Boro performances after Internationals.
    Your closing paragraph is, “Thankfully the next internationals aren’t until March.” So, when Boro aren’t in a European qualifying league position next March, what will we be blaming it on then?
    Although the International statistics suggest the possibility of an influence, other than starting a bandwagon of anti-international protest which may take a day or two to get off the ground and may just be met with something less than modest enthusiasm at UEFA and FIFA, let alone our own FA, what might Boro do to circumvent these effects if they are, in fact, real?
    THOSE are the things that Boro have to focus on – the things that are within Boro’s gift to exert controlling influence. Without wishing to unduly state the obvious, or unnecessarily wishing to denigrate the abilities and efforts of current personnel, a few small matters that could be addressed might be:
    1. Improve the quality of the squad.
    2. Increase the depth of cover in all positions.
    3. Bring in top quality coaching staff – and I mean proven Champions League quality people (otherwise I feel we may as well stick with those we have).
    4. Make the team perform more consistently – better of course! (Which one would expect would result from a combination of 1,2 and 3 above anyway!)
    1,2 and 3 probably mean spending money we probably don’t have. For 4, a number of things can be attempted and, one has to assume that, of course, everything being done at Rockliffe is aimed at precisely that.
    I and others shouldn’t have to try to teach Granny Southgate how to suck eggs. The guy has much more practical footballing experience than I have and I would have thought that the Chairman, Steve Gibson, with his corporate industrial background, should have access to all of the corporate support consultancy input that may be invoked to enable the players to work on their own approach to personal and team performance improvement, including personal coaching and motivation.
    In fact, those players who really want to try to improve themselves above and beyond what the club is already doing, might pursue extra-curricular support in this regard.
    I suspect that these young men haven’t had the exposure to the possibilities that such personal support may offer and therefore few have ever considered it – because they accept the regime offered by the club and naturally enough, consider it adequate. And perhaps that’s exactly what it is – adequate, but not stretching enough?
    Some of them may benefit from some such personal coaching exposure as is sought and retained by individual performers like tennis players and golfers.
    I’ve never worked in a football training environment (and the above may make that obvious) and therefore don’t know if such matters are routinely addressed.
    But where the best of industrial practice can be brought in to beneficial effect, it ought to be at least considered. Some may point out that the origins or roots of personal coaching are in sport and that industry and commerce has been a late adopter of practices developed in a sports environment.
    It would be reassuring however, to know that the important psychological facets of player development were actually being addressed and that personal coaching regimes were being used optimally within the club.
    It’s a relatively inexpensive approach to making the most of what you’ve got.

  2. The Bolton game is gone, get over it. Boro will lose again at home this season and they will also win. The same can be said for away games.
    Be realistic, for a club the size of Middlesbrough to spend 11 consecutive seasons in the Premiership and be sitting in the top half is pretty good going in my book.
    Ask the fans of the 30 odd ex premier league clubs if they would swap places with us.

  3. This article has left me confused AV – for every paragraph that supported your theory you managed a paragraph that convincingly countered your argument.
    I think you managed to prove two things:
    1. If you stare at statistics long enough a pattern will emerge.
    2. The existance of a phenomenom known as “Typical Boro”
    **AV writes: I don’t really have a theory on this, it is more a case of thinking aloud about some of the possible explanations for what is really quite a stark sequence or results that covers several years, lots of personnel and a variety of formations.
    It can’t just be a random can it? I might extend it back to see if the same syndrome was present under McClaren and Robson or look at how many players were involved on each occasion or if ‘similar’ clubs have the same problem.
    Any contributions on this – more questions as well as any answers and any suggestions for pertinent data – are very welcome .

  4. Grove Hill Wallah makes a lot of sense, just take a look at the size of some other towns/cities “less fortunate” in Footballing terms than ourselves!
    Middlesbrough Pop 142,000
    Barnsley Pop 250,000
    Coventry Pop 300,000
    Sheffield Pop 640,000*
    Ipswich Pop 138,000
    Southampton Pop 228,000
    Peterborough Pop 168,000
    Northampton 200,000
    Norwich Pop 132,000
    Bradford Pop 290,000
    Bristol Pop 411,000*
    Swansea Pop 170,000
    Derby Pop 230,000
    Oxford Pop 151,000
    Wolverhampton Pop 250,000
    Leicester Pop 285,000
    Nottingham Pop 288,000*
    Reading Pop 143,000
    Plymouth Pop 250,000
    Blackpool Pop 143,000
    Milton Keynes Pop 184,000
    Swindon Pop 155,000
    Brighton Pop 156,000
    Huddersfield Pop 146,000
    Bournemouth Pop 163,000
    Leeds Pop 443,000
    11 consecutive Prem years is some achievement. Only Ipswich and Norwich from that lot are smaller but if you include the wider catchment areas then they too are larger. As Lambie said we will get the Club we can afford.
    That said I still think we are underachieving and capable of more though. If only we could sort out the half dozen or so repetitive problem issues!

  5. So, AV, we tend to lose Premier League games which follow on from International matches?
    I seem to remember we also had a poor time of it after the UEFA Cup games for those two, heady, seasons.
    Maybe our players can’t cope with games that involve any foreign connection. Even home games in the UEFA Cup or home international games (for players who might be British).
    Of course if we were to be relegated, to have to sell our international players because in a lower league we would no longer be able to afford their wages let alone their purchase prices, we would not be at risk of qualifying for European competitions.
    We could then be confident of putting our poor form (after international games and UEFA Cup games) behind us, couldn’t we? But I suspect we would then find some other excuse for losing games.
    It will be back to my wearing the wrong underpants again, or going up the wrong set of stairs to my seat in the ground, or failing properly to say goodbye to my wife before setting off for the match. I get the blame for many things in life. Boro’s hiccups might as well be down to me as well. It certainly gets the players off the hook. It’s got about as much logic behind it as any other theory.
    (I hate to raise the subject again, but for a small fraction of a Premier League player’s monthly pay cheque, I would be prepared to undertake a scientific survey of games. Results could be plotted against the various combinations of my wearing different sets of underwear, taking different routes to the ground, using the right staircase etc. When the best combination is achieved, and for maybe a slightly larger fraction of the pay cheque, I would then guarrantee to stick to the tried and tested successful combination.
    Maybe that is why Manchelarsepool are so successful. They have squads of fans who undertook their research years ago and have been applying the results ever since. And we foolish souls thought it was down to having the most money and therefore being able to build a squad of the most talented players!).

  6. All I did was mention that we had lost 8 out of 9 after internationals and look what happens.
    When I posted about it I said it should have no effect and looking at the extended list of fixtures shown above the vast majority will have even more players on international duty.
    It is down to our players and coaches not being prepared properly or not good enough. End of story
    A quick hand grenade into the stats. What about cardiff in the cup last year?

  7. That is a shocking statistic, make no bones about it.
    Yes, there will always be an element of “you win some, you lose some” but this run defies the laws of probability.
    The key point however is not the defeat itself, but the performance. After most UEFA games and international games, and this has got worse under GS, we have a complete lack of motivation.
    This needs to be addressed. I think the last game I remember us having a good start was Wigan at home when we won 1-0 (although we almost did a typical Boro and caved in for an equaliser). We simply don’t do this often enough. Even though I hate to admit it, watching Liverpool, Man Utd and also Hull & Stoke shows teams that are well up for it and get going right from the first whistle.
    Where as for some reason we usually take 10mins to get going and then switch off for the last 10. Then when you factor in 5mins either side of half time when they look sluggish, we’re getting around 60mins of effort from the team. Not good enough.
    I don’t mind us getting beat, I’m used to it, but what I HATE is limp performances where it’s obvious to everyone that the players need a giant kick up the backside. Unfortunately GS has consistently proved he is NOT the man to do this.
    I think it is definitely time for a review of the coaching team.

  8. Looking at the fixtures, perhaps a more simple explanation is Reading, Newcastle, Everton and Bolton apart, we were playing teams that were better than us!
    For the 4 above, Reading were ‘up for it’ playing their first ever PL game, N/Castle is a derby and anything can happen, Everton is always a really tough game and Bolton was typical Boro. I look at the remainder and think ‘Oh Dear’!

  9. “but if you include the wider catchment areas then they too are larger.”
    Ohhh, shut up about catchment areas. People from Stockton watch Boro as well and Stocktons population is approx 187,000. That makes Boro’s catchment area massive

  10. Smoggy In Exile-I think your comments are way off the mark and originate from a belief that we are better than we actually are. Apart from one season when we finished 7th our normal finishing place is 12th -13th. This means we are a lower midtable side and will lose more than we win.
    The league table tells you there is very little to choose between 15 teams in this league so that’s why the results are up and down. On Saturday we gave a bad goal away then the second was very smartly taken. As far as I could see the players put in a full shift to try to turn the game around but it just did not happen. They WERE motivated but on the day were not good enough.
    I dislike it intensely when people say ” We should be beating the likes of whoever”. It is based on an illusion of superiority that has no basis.

  11. Richard –
    I would support the idea of professional footballers using a personal coach (as opposed to a sports coach), in the same way that it could benefit anybody. My gut feeling is they are probably not used by Boro.
    But surely, as I guess you are aware, using a coach to work on your ‘mental’ game as it were only works if you are receptive to the idea? And I suspect that in the same way that sports psycologists are often dismissed as a waste of time a coach to work on your psycological ‘fitness’ would by a lot of people be also dismissed, unfortunatley.
    I suspect the stat. highlighted by AV may be coincidental, given the high number of instances when Boro played a top four team after an international, when we would expect that a defeat was a likely outcome anyway.
    I suppose GS and his staff could analyse that stat. but I’m sure there are more beneficial ways they could spend thir time improving the teams performance.

  12. Hi Anthony
    Smoggy is dead right about the 60 mins of effort. I’m not keen on West Eym after the Tevez lark got Sheff Utd relegated, but their work rate is great (as Boro and Sland found out)
    I still shiver when I remember Citeh 0-2 a couple of seasons back.
    Tear into them from the first whistle Boro!

  13. To disnmiss those statistics as in some bizarre way coincidental is the sort of half-job it would appear Boro’s coaching staff seem to excel at.
    Maybe we did play some of the top sides amongst that list but I thought we were supposed to be one of the few sides outside the top 4 that give those a tough game normally.
    One can draw just one conclusion from those stats.
    When a sprinkling of players are away on international duty Boro’s coaching staff would appear totally incompetent at making any form of preparation for the next game – or maybe just cant be bothered.
    Just pick the 11 that started last week if available – they did ok didnt they?
    Unfortunately that is the exact formation that our opponents hope for as that is the easiest to prepare themselves for.

  14. Smoggy in Exile:
    ‘The key point however is not the defeat itself, but the performance. After most UEFA games and international games, and this has got worse under GS, we have a complete lack of motivation.’
    It MAY have got worse under GS. But I’m not sure that GS is the root cause. Other factors have changed. The squad is younger and less experienced. Youth doesn’t have the benefit of much hindsight or learning opportunities that older people have.
    There is an enormous focus on the physical development of players capabilities, but you have (correctly, I believe), identified the issue of motivation – which is (partly) a mental condition. I say “partly”, because one’s physical condition and body chemistry does, undoubtedly, affect motivation.
    However, the ability to concentrate and to read the game, deploy yourself and make decisions optimally are all part of turning in a good performance. And all are related to mental approach.
    That’s why, in my response to AV’s original article, first published elsewhere in the Gazette, I attempted to highlight the one area of development that would cost little, yet possibly yield individual and team improvements.
    The biggest “cost” would be in player’s effort and application – and isn’t that what they’re supposed to do anyway and be paid very well for doing it?
    But if the club doesn’t have it in its regime, they’re unlikely to seek it out for themselves. These young men need guidance and help to be the best they can be. And they have a relatively short career time-span in which to do it.
    An investment by them in their own personal development could benefit them in their careers and equally importantly, throughout their lives outside of football too.
    In the meantime, they would be better able to contribute to the team they form part of by being more aware and in control of their own contribution.
    When he came back from Berlin, who took Stewart Downing to one side and discussed how he felt about the match, the performance, what it meant to him personally and how he felt about going into the Bolton match and what he needed to make him perform as well for Boro as he did for England?
    Who did the same for Tuncay?
    Who brought the team together and, in acknowledging the individual international performances, put Saturday’s match into focus and perspective? And who helped make it clear that they were playing for Boro as a team – for each other – on Saturday?
    And this is on top of any strategic and tactical discussions?
    You would hope that these things were actually being done as part of team development, but nobody ever speaks of it. I’m therefore left wondering if everything that could be done to improve performance is in fact being done. Because after Bolton, one IS left wondering!

  15. Stockton Red:
    I think the issue is with the first 10 minutes of Saturday’s match.
    I agree with you that there was a lot of effort put in to try to recover from the damage. I also agree with you that we weren’t good enough to do so.
    But we ought to have been good enough from the off, to avoid being in that disadvantageous position in the first place.
    That’s where there’s clear room for improvement.
    The early in-match psychology was wrong. It was there to see in several examples of play by Downing, Digard & Pogatetz, to name but three.

  16. It is about squad size. Some clubs can rest their internationals or stick them on the bench but we don’t have that luxury eg we had to play Wheater after his air miles trip to Kazakstan because there was no one else except a 17 year old with no PL expereince.

  17. Now then AV, I’m not having this! OK, so the stats don’t lie, but to suggest that this is somehow related to players going to play for England or Turkey or whatever is just specious. These are fit, talented young athletes!
    Stewy and Tuncay were among the best players on Saturday v Bolton but the team as a whole didn’t perform. What’s that got to do with 2 or 3 being away?
    All managers moan about mid-week mid-season internationals, but I don’t see Villa or Everton or Pompey suffering similar bad runs. It might suggest that our preparation post-internationals is wrong, but it might also suggest that actually the opposition played better than we did, or that we were unlucky, or that Thierry Henry played an absolute blinder, or that Forever Dormo had the wrong underpants on again. To suggest otherwise is to offer excuses, and we don’t need that. We had enough of that under McLaren.
    This regime, happily, isn’t about excuses. Forget Bolton and forget international calls.I want GS to get stuck into the squad before we meet the Toon on Saturday and I want him to get the positive, aggressive response he’s looking for from the off.

  18. Thanks for those figures Mr Vickers, I knew the results were bad after internationals but I had no idea it was as calamatous as that!
    I seem to remember we had similar problems under Robsons management. If other teams can cope then why cant we? Something wrong somewhere,you cant put it all down to bad luck.The management have to look at this and get it sorted quick

  19. Clive
    The problem lies at the clubs door. The international stuff is nonsense. My only concern is the return to having to ‘learn lessons’ and gate ‘looking for a response’
    It is a the cycle of ‘Typical Boroness’, along with ‘post Xmas slump’. it has defined our existence for years but we must not forget we are doing it in mid table of the Premiership not the Championship. For all the faults the club continues to do well.

  20. I can’t believe the Gazette has’nt gone with the headlines ” Boro go back to basics” yet. There are still Thu & Fri to go though I guess.

  21. We are always slow from the off at home as there is a fear of making an early mistake that will so easily turn most of the fans silent and the fact that we rarely score more than one goal in a game.
    The fans at away games have been great and performances echo that as we have never been destroyed away and many times just didnt get the win as the home team steps up its efforts and we have not got enough quality on the bench to keep up ours.
    I dont know what can be done to get the Riverside rocking like its Europe all over again. Positive, aggressive starts would go some way into waking some of the fans up. The International break this time round should not be an excuse at all.
    We should just stop giving away free kicks close to goal, at Bolton -Pogger was covering for Taylor who had gone missing. SOMEBODY GET ON THE BACK POST! If lots of us have spotted this as a weakly defended area then you know that Kinnear who is not daft will have the same idea.
    Bolton have made a blueprint in how to win convincingly at the Riverside and Southgate now has to change the locks otherwise we will be burgled again.
    We all remember what the geordies were chanting at Mido when they first saw him play at the Riverside. That is why if he is fit he will need no extra motivation against them and should be played from the off.
    Newcastle held Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and we couldnt break down Bolton at home so Im not sure what to predict here. We need a performance.
    I didnt fancy Harper from Reading as I thought Rockemback was better, now we have neither so maybe Harper in Jan would be a good idea as we have not got the troops for a full 90+ minutes .
    Dear Santa, I have been a good boy, please could I have Wayne Bridge and Steve Harper in Boro colours for xmas.

  22. I would like to see an offer go in for Bridge also come January but after todays statements from Lamb and Southgate i doubt we have the money or desire to bring in an established player… .more likely a one for the future and a mentality of ‘make do and mend’.
    I understand the mind set of buying ‘prospects’ but to try and field a team of them is in my eyes suicidal in this league. You always need the seasoned pro’s in the team to cover and help the ‘new kids’.

  23. With the economy toasted and all clubs under increasing financial pressures, it is surely only a matter of time before player valuations drop. May be Harper and Bridge will be cheaper in the January sales. We still might not have enough, though

  24. Hi Anthony.
    As Ignorant says, “we are always slow from the off at home”
    Other teams will have noticed this, if they tear into us straight away we struggle. We sit back “to see how the game pans out” then oops, we’re 2 down.
    We must LEARN!

  25. Yes ur right Vic we paid almost 3 times what we could have got him for in the summer….good busines me thinks 😉
    I think we all know you rarely get a bargain in January but we can hope!

  26. While I’m sure there is truth in Keith Lamb’s assertion that the days of signing world class players are gone, we knew that anyway didn’t we?
    I also suspect that AV has hit the nail on the head, the rumour mill is in full swing ahead of the January transfer window and Boro are no doubt drawing up a Christmas list of transfer targets.
    So it makes sense for Lamb to make a statement that money is tight etc. He’d be a fool if he came out and said ‘oh yes we have £15 million to spend and we intend to splash the cash’. Then every selling club would be rubbing their hands.
    There is a huge chasm between not being able to buy ‘world class’ players and to be only able to sign players on a free, I’m sure GS has several millions available, the only question is exactly how many and hopefully we won’t know that until the ink is dry on the cheque.

  27. Forget Bridge chaps. Excellent acquisition though he would be it has been widely reported in the North West press that Citeh have been warned off a bid for him by Abramovich himself.

  28. Stockton Rojo
    If you include Surrey, Middlesex, Glos etc ManU have a huge catchment area.
    On to the Wishful Thinking discussion, the last big money January signing hasnt settled in yet and they have a histroy of taking ages to settle if at all. Wonder what Michael Ricketts is doing?
    The season will be two thirds over before we have someone settled so as usual the players we have will have to it for the bulk of the season.

  29. Off on a tangent – I was on Youtube last night and found some excellent clips of Boro vs Sunderland from the 70’s, one showed us at Roker, with the full Jackie Charlton team giving Sunderland a beating. Away strip of black and blue stripes, Souness, Hickton, Foggon, Armstrong, Mills etc etc.
    Hickton took a penalty just as I remember him doing, his run up started about five yards outside of the penalty box ‘D’ and when he hit it it stayed hit!
    There was no grass on the pitch either!
    Those were the days, proper men playing proper football and not a mention of not being able to sign foreign superstars! Who would have wanted to anyway with the likes of Souness, Maddren, Armstrong and Hickton in the team……….blimey I must be getting old!

  30. Just suppose Spuds come in with a £15M (£11M is a joke!) offer for Stewy and Wigan come in with £8M for Mido?
    With Jinky to slot straight in and a small profit on an injury prone absentee striker, I think Lambie, Gareth and co would find it hard to turn down. Say there was £5M in the “January fund” this would swell the coffers to £28M, a considerable warchest!
    That would be enough to at least attempt to bring the ilk of Bridge and Bullard plus say Doyle from Reading and Beckford from Leeds on board with some loose change.
    Tempted?
    **AV writes: I would be tempted by that cash for Mido (I’d take £6m to be honest). He is our most effective striker but doesn’t play often enough and his habit of declaring himself unfit an hour before kick-off is infuriating, medically inexplicable and destabilising for the team.
    But I wouldn’t be tempted by an offer for Stewie unless it was “silly money”. He is our most potent creative force and could not be easily replaced, certainly not given the restrictions on who is available in January.

  31. Just a quick word of caution….Pogatez + Downing going no where in January…Hmmmm……I think we all learned that lesson with Luke Young….If the price is right the pair will be boarding a flight from Teeside to spain or wherever and we will be told ‘It was an offer we couldn’t refuse and good business’….

  32. Okay , I have allowed my thoughts to settle and I now have an idea of the score at the final whistle against Newcastle.This has been a difficult one to predict but after levitating for half an hour the future has become clear.
    Alves scores a brace [ both set up by Tuncay]leaving the scores at 2 a piece before Tuncay grabs a late winner- over to you Lorro, is that a tash under your nose?

  33. Interesting comparisons to other Towns who are not in the Premier League. I think we Boro supporters must take the view we are a small Yorkshire Team playing in a Big League and we are punching above our weight.
    The Premier League is the best and most competitive in the world for Club teams and here we are in the middle of the table contesting it with the best club teams in the World.
    We are never ever going to win a Premiership but we will beat most of the teams in the league at some time or other. So let us rejoice at our position and not be too critical when we lose a match.
    I remember in the fifties when we never won anything but we were always known as a team that played good football and were a joy to watch. The only blemish on our history was McClaren, with his dour unattractive style of football.
    It has taken Gareth many months to rid the club of his influence in our play, but thankfully he has succeeded and Boro now play a very attractive style of football reminiscent of Wengers Arsenal

  34. International Rescue are on the way.
    Thunderbirds are go to fix the Typical Boro blog. I can just see John Powls sat behind the wheel of a pink Rolls Royce. Now who is the geeky one with glasses?

  35. Keane runs away like the childish quitter he is. Spent 70million on 33 largely rubbish players. What do the Boro fans who prefer him to middle-class Southgate have to say now?

  36. JP
    Keep your eyes on the driving and your hands on the wheel.
    I’m sitting in the back pulling the strings taking care of business so to speak with M’Lady!

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