What’s It All About, Alfie?

ENIGMATIC Afonso Alves is a striker crying out for a goal – if only to appease a fidgeting faction anxious to get on with the lynching.
Some have already made their judgement: the Brazilian is a lightweight no-hoper, a latin Lee Dong Gook who freezes in front of goal, a dopple-ganger for Massimo Maccarone who, weighed down by a record transfer pricetag, is quick to tumble under a challenge, who can’t head the ball and who is not up to the hurly-burly of the Premiership. Get shot!


It seems a harsh assessment but that kneejerk view has been gaining currency on Teesside as Boro’s lack of goals has led to growing impatience and frustration.
And there is a superficial case that the critics may have a point. “Alfie” is easily brushed aside and has squandered some golden chances in a demoralising barren run and given his status as club record buy that is not acceptable to many. For that kind of dosh you expect a goal a game. At least.
afonsoface.jpg
Recent weeks have done him few favours as time after time incisive passing movements have played him into the box with time and space only to see him collapse under what appears only routine contact from stronger, quicker defenders who were second favourites to even reach the ball. It is not even as if he is looking for a free-kick because so often he does not even appeal.
Against Aston Villa, Everton and Bolton he has been muscled out of good positions in the danger-zone and left trudging dejectedly back upfield as an isolated figure as the ball is hoofed clear and action switches to the other end.
Meanwhile he has also missed some golden chances, the most glaring one the six yard tap in that he spooned wide at Villa Park, a gaffe lovingly replayed in slo-mo by all the highlights shows and cruelly dissected by disbelieving pundits and punters alike. As a striker who arrived with a £12.7m fee to live up to and an awesome YouTube gallery of goals prompting high expectations that must have hurt.


As a result of a string of set-backs his confidence has clearly dipped. Instead of playing on instinct in front of goal – the very deadly asset that Boro shelled out for – he is taking one touch too many when he makes his move in the box thus giving defenders an extra fraction of a second to intervene and the keeper extra time to check his angles and the self-conscious shot when it eventually comes is from a less favourable position.
His free-kicks too have been affected. From an early array of stinging, dipping, curling dead-balls that threatened the keeper every time he has declined to the sad sight of wayward shots screaming high over the bar, more a danger to the taunting “Goal Machine” banner high in the East Stand than the opposition net.
Obviously then he is never going to make it.
But not so fast. Remember fans have a poor track record here for making snap judgements on players who start slowly later blossom: Zenden, Pogatetz, Young and Hoyte to name but just a few. A slow start in a new team, in a new system and at an unaccustomed tempo do not help anyone make an instant impact but when the transfer fee is so high the period of grace is far shorter.
And remember also that Alves has started just 20 games for Boro – a relatively short spell and one broken up by the summer, international breaks, a succession of striking partners and also a midfield in flux just behind him. Plenty of big name players have struggled in their first 20 games: Ronaldo, Juninho, Bergkamp, Henry… no one is saying Alves is any of those players but we don’t know and won’t know until he gets into his stride. We have yet to see the best of him in a settled side that plays to his strengths.
And remember too, most importantly, that he is the best striker on the books – and that is borne out by the stats. Despite the four game run without a goal the Brazilian goal-getter still has a more than respectable goal ratio.
Alves got six goals in seven starts last term with two classy finishes in the 2-2 draw against Manchester United and a hat-trick in the last day 8-1 hammering of Man City.
He has added three more in 13 starts this season – a sizzling free-kick against Stoke, a cracker against Blackburn and a penalty against Man City – and arguably would have had two more had he been taking spot-kicks from the start.
That is a decent record of nine goals in 20 league starts or almost one goal in two games. Even if you throw in his five substitute appearances, nine goals in 25 is not bad.
In contrast, his main rival Mido, the people’s choice to judge by his rapturous reception whenever he appears, has scored just three in 12 league starts – one in four – although the injury-jinxed Egyptian hitman has more than proved his worth as an impact sub with an awesome record of three in seven off the bench.
Tuncay, got eight in 27 league starts last term and has added three in nine this time out for a tally of 11 goals in 36 games, just shy of one in three. He too had a sluggish start and was written off by many before finding his feet and becoming a firm gavourite.
Alves’ early return stacks up well against other recent frontmen too. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink got seven in his first 20 games, Mark Viduka eight and only Yakubu bettered Alves’ start with 11 in 20. So even just looking at the bare numbers Alves is worth his starting place – but there is more to it than that.
Clearly he is not at his best right now, he will know that more than anyone, but to his credit he is continuing to work hard, make good runs, take up the right positions and, despite his blanks, is still ready to have a crack if he sees the target.
And there were signs against Newcastle that he is edging back towards his best, or at least a level of display that presents a genuine threat. In the first half of a tetchy, high-tempo and robust derby game he got little change out of the impressive Sebastien Bassong at the back. Twice he was barged aside, and then a little nudge prevented him getting a contact as he went up for a header.
But after the break he looked sharper, more hungrier and bigger and started to impose himself on the game. He proved the knockers wrong when he actually connected with a header, a diving one at that, to put a Stewie Downing cross just over then he went on a weaving run to cut in from the left and skip past three defenders before putting a 20 yard shot just inches over the bar.
And he was cruelly denied what would have been a galvanising goal when he rifled home a low 15 yard effort after David Wheater nodded a cross only for the flag to go harshly up against Tuncay who wasn’t interfering with play.
But it will come. Alves is a good player and we know from both his cyberspace greatest hits video and the evidence of his spell so far at Boro that he has a fine array of tricks and talents to hurt teams with.
The idea we should sell in January – even “take a hit” on the price – and bring in a less prolific striker like Kevin Davies or Marlon Harewood is ludicrous.
We need him firing on all cylinders if we are to play out the season in the top half and we need to keep the faith. Goal Machine? There’s time yet.
(*This article is a remix of today’s Big Picture column in the Gazette)
DERBY DAY fall-out… in what now seems an annual occurance, Newcastle fans are under the microscope for their party-piece bile directed at Mido and the FA are investigating. Meanwhile their finest legal minds have been at work on the message boards and phone-ins defending the use of paedophilia chants as ‘banter’.
Last year I wrote:

“The sight of phlegm-flecked faces contorted in hate and hurling invective at a stranger was disturbing. It was as crass, stupid, socially backward and morally bankrupt as throwing bananas and making monkey-noises at black players ever was.
“And just as racism was back in the dark ages, it will be defended by the perpetrators as being “just banter”. But this goes far beyond banter – and beyond the pale. It is just about the most offensive thing you can think of and to make it a calculated set-piece within your repertoire plumbs new depths.
“What kind of person thinks smearing people with most horrific crimes against children imaginable passes as ‘just banter’ and anyone who is offended should ‘lighten up’? “

Sadly nothing has changed since then. Neither FA nor United officials, nor campaigning bodies active within the Newcastle crowd like fanzines and supporters groups appear to have challenged this despicable behaviour that brings shame on the club.
http://anthonyvickers.boroblogs.co.uk/archives/2007/08/pollock-pride-a.html

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35 thoughts on “What’s It All About, Alfie?

  1. Maybe THEIR “finest legal minds have been at work on the message boards and phone-ins defending the use of paedophilia chants as banter”.
    OUR finest legal minds are having lunch. I know because I have seen a few in the canteen, and there are no computers in there. One or two might have mobile phones, but nobody seems to be using them at present, so the chaps on TalkSport must be having a rest.
    Some things can’t be defended, and that includes chants about paedophilia. Mind you, I am not particularly interested in supporters (and that inlcudes our own) shouting about the sexual behaviour of referees, or the supposed antics of Victoria Beckham and others (as if that is something likley to be known by a bloke sitting in row 15 in the North Stand!). I suppose the good news for Victoria is that, now her husband plies his trade abroad, the fans have at least laid off her recently.
    Look lads, the referee might make mistakes, and maybe he should go to SpecSavers, but my friends attending medical school all those years ago have confirmed many times that it has nothing at all to do with what he gets up to in private. Shape of the eyeball, whether the retina is in good condition, the ability of the muscles to retain their strength and flexibility – all relevant; what the referee does on his own – nothing at all to do with it!
    Time for a sandwich…..

  2. Alves must be retained as our first choice striker in my opinion, he is obviously a good player and I am certain the goals will come. I have watched us play a lot since he came to the Riverside and I think we are a better team with him in it than when he is taken off. The runs he makes and his workrate are very good and his confidence is the problem and that will not be helped by dropping him, he must believe that the team has faith in his ability and he will come good. I have long since believed that we are going to spank somebody soon because we have played some good football and not got the results, Sunderland comes immediately to mind.

  3. No doubt there will be hoots of derision when posters read this particular article, they’ll be stating Alves is useless, GS should be sacked because he signed him, we paid over the odds etc etc etc.
    I think Alves is a very good player in a good team which is evolving into an even better team.
    Alves and Tuncay are a good combination, with Arca and Digard in midfield the opportunities for Alves should increase and with Aliadiere and Downing on the wings we have the players with the ability for us to be a potent force in the second half of the season.
    We are well set, after a solid start, if our number one striker starts to fire on all cylinders the New Year could be exciting!
    Hull next great chance for three points and an Alves goal or two……..
    PS – Excellent article in the Independent today on the financial state of the English prem. teams, I wouldn’t want to be a Liverpool, West Ham, Fulham, Everton, Newcastle supporter right now, there is a real chance that a ‘big’ club could hit the financial buffers.
    The more I read the more I’m grateful for the way Steve Gibson runs the Boro.

  4. It seems that the national sport is not football but being personally offended or even worse being offended on the behalf of someone else.
    Are we all being driven to political correctness of fundamentalist proportions by tabloids and media – or has any joke bordering on tastelessness become the cause celeb of the self-righteous.
    The TV is full of programmes having a go at anyone from the Queen, politicians, celebs, the Scots, the Welsh, the Germans, the French, old people and even the Geordies are often portrayed as simpletons by mainstream comedians like Harry Enfield or Catherine Tate.
    The genre of bad taste jokes is what most of us grew up on and some of them are even quite funny.
    So come on everyone if you’re on the wrong end of a bad taste joke it’s just your turn in the comedy spotlight – so take it on the chin and leave your indignant pens in your pockets and if you’re genuinely offended then maybe you should get a life as there are plenty of ‘real’ issues in this world to get your blood pressure going.

  5. I know it’s not viewed as “good form” to be critical of one’s own team’s fans in general, but when it comes to patience and taking a bigger view of things, many of us are seriously lacking.
    Such fans are often described as “passionate”, as though to portray it as a completely justifiable and standalone positive trait. Well, passionate we may be, but, though passion and impatience clearly have their place in the wide array of human characteristics, they don’t, as a general rule, equate with good judgment.
    In acknowledgement of the frustration that lies behind growing reservation, half a term CAN feel like a lifetime in a game where winning is everything, and where instant gratification is the only measure of success. That’s understandable.
    But it’s also inappropriate to make premature (and immature) judgment on the basis of single a statistic, such as goal return rate over a relatively short period. Until Boro visited Goodison a couple of weeks ago, Yakubu had gone 11 matches without scoring. And we sold him to Everton for £11M!
    Yet here some are, baying for Alves’s head already!
    No one would disagree that goal return rate is an important measure – for a striker in particular – but to condemn outright a player who does show a range of good individual qualities and an awareness of where the goal is, and who has demonstrated goal-scoring capabilities at Premiership level, last season and this, says more about the fans making the condemnation judgment than it does of the player himself.
    It’s easy for people to be critical. It’s less easy for a player who knows why primarily he’s been bought by his club, who is being closely marked by defenses who also know he’s got a nose for goal and who is in the process of adapting to life in a foreign environment.
    The “Goal Machine” banner, however well-intended, is part of the fans’ problem. And expectation is the enemy of both achievement and fulfillment.
    Like AV, I’ve seen enough of Afonso Alves to believe that he’s got a lot to offer Boro – including goals.
    Admittedly, I’d love to see him bag a few more sooner than later, but nobody’s going to help that cause by making him feel like he’s an abject failure. We need to give the guy a break, and be as supportive to him as a substantial cross-section of the Boro fanbase is towards Mido.
    We’re on the same side after all, although sometimes I do wonder!

  6. I wrote a long post but it was mangled.
    basically:
    – he was excellent 2nd half on Saturday
    – he is clearly quality and will score goals – as AV points out he could easily have had 2 on Saturday – the comparisons with LDG are insane, Alves has more chances in 1 game than the Korean had in his entire Boro career
    – the management have faith, the fans should have as well
    Unbelievable that some of our own ‘fans’ should be trying to force out our record signing after almost a goal every other game in his first 20 games for us. He can only get better.

  7. oh – and putting him in the reserves is quite frankly a ridiculous idea, which will do nothing but totally destroy his confidence and thankfully is something Gareth would not even consider.
    Even when Alves is not scoring, we look a much better team than with Mido in the team.

  8. Boro fans have always been far too critical of their own players.
    Look at AV stat’s – 9 in 20 is not a rubbish non-league player who is not up to it at this level. Who else has scored 9 in 20? Anelka, Defoe and Torres. Anyone else?
    Over the years we have had some poor center forwards – Ricketts, Christie, Dean – so we know what they look like. Alves is NOT one of them. He is a quality player who will go on to score a lot of goals here… unless the idiots drive him out.
    People should start to appreciate what we have got and support the players with the shirts not whinge because they are not Henry, Juninho and Pele rolled into one.

  9. JP, I’m not necessarily saying you are panicking, but there are many in the crowd who seem to be. Of course we all want to see improvement but in Alves’ case he isn’t doing that much wrong apart from the final touch of putting the ball in the net (which I appreciate is quite a crucial part).
    If we start over-analysing him and trying to change what he is doing, we could end up taking the good things he is doing away and he wouldn’t even be getting in the good positions.
    If the reserves isn’t punishment, what is it? Motivation? I don’t think sending a striker low on confidence to play a reserves game at Billingham is going to do any good whatsoever. We have two reserve games before xmas, what happens if he doesn’t score in those? Do we write him off til January? He needs to score, and to do that he needs to be in the team with the backing of everyone.
    By the way AV, sort out the paragraphs!
    **AV writes: It is on my latest list of gripes. Grrr.

  10. I thought playing football is what most footballers want to do, and surely playing a game for the Reserves must be better than attending training?
    I guess Alves wants to score goals, too. Whetever gets him back into the groove (whether it is playing for The Stiffs, seeing a Portugese-speaking sports psychologist, a hypnotist or a “goal scoring coach”), if it has the result of his scoring goals in the First Team then surely everybopdy would be pleased with that result.
    I don’t think anyone in the club should be above playing for the Reserves. Playing there shouldn’t be seen as a punishment. It is a game of football. It will get the player out of a serious training session that day, and he will get some match practice.
    We are supposed to be a “team”, a “squad” and in it together. Reserves should not be treated as if they were the Unclean, and the First Team squad should not be treated like Gods. A few goals for the Reserves and maybe the confidence will come flowing back.
    I actually think the Reserves should be seen as more important than may have been the case. The games are useful for any number of reasons – for “out of form players” hopefully to regain their touch and confidence, for unfit players recovering from injury to get back into competition rather than throwing them into the deep end of a Premier League game, for young players to gain experience as they climb up the squad ladder, for players to retain sharpness and fitness after a spell of matches when they might have been sitting on the First Team bench with little time on the pitch etc.
    It would seem a good idea for all the teams in a club – Firsts, Reserves and junior teams – to play to the same basic pattern. Then when a player is called up into the senior squad due to injury of, let’s say the right full back, the promoted player will just slot into the position as he knows exactly what is expected there.
    I hope that Alves will come good.
    I don’t regard Holland as having a “Mickey Mouse League”. It may not be as strong as the leagues in England, Spain, Italy or Germany but it would hold its own against any other European leagues, surely? I have heard some suggestions it isn’t up to the level of The Championship (a pompous title if ever there was one!). That cannot be right.
    I appreciate people might say that PSV, Ajax and Feyenoord are much stronger than the rest of their league, but for several years we had a league with only 2 serious contenders for the title (Man U and Arsenal) and even in the last few years we only have had four. Does that mean the PL is a Mickey Mouse league? Would WBA or Stoke be guarranteed success if they moved to Holland? I think not.
    Last season we beat Man City, and this season Chelsea have beaten both us and Sunderland a lot easier than European teams have been able to beat PSV.

  11. Playing in the reserves is not punishment, its an opportunity to play without the pressure of thousands of groans and moans, Its an opportunity to take a 30 yard pot shot and not have to hang your head in shame if it goes 20 yards over the stand roof.
    It is an opportunity to drop your shoulder and cut inside beating two defenders and enjoy the euphoria of seeing a despairing keeper scrambling in vain to prevent a perfectly weighted lob curling into the back of the net.
    It is an opportunity for Johnson, Walker and Emnes and co. to prove that they can provide the service required to make our record signing a world beater and lift themselves into the reckoning.
    Its an opportunity for an unknown and unnoticed 16 or 17 year old to link up and get themselves noticed because a talented genius playing up front can read the through balls or the movements off the ball dragging defenders wide that the regular 2nd 11 front men can’t or don’t.
    More importantly if gives the relief that you haven’t lost your touch and means you don’t have to wait for another 7 days hoping for your hoodoo to end.
    All successful businesses invest in training and development of their top people. Being sent on a training course or a refresher programme is seen in modern industry as investment not punishment, the same should be true of professional footballers. Arsenal and Man Utd send their fringe or struggling players out on loan due to their strength in depth, this gives them opportunities.
    Just look at the Tony McMahon who has just returned to us compared with the unfit, injury prone lad who looked good a few years ago but had lost his way. Now he is back, raring to go and gives Gareth another headache. If a run out in the reserves gives Afonso a rebirth then I’m all for it!
    In the meantime what is abundantly clear is that here is a lad a long way from home in a strange country and culture who needs a lift, a collective 26,000 hug! Whilst its frustrating to see him barged off the ball or failing to chase and harry in the opposition half, a confident Afonso will be past the defender before getting pushed off the ball.
    Anyone who was at the opening game against Spurs will remember Alves chasing all over the park, full of vim and vigour and up for it. A far cry from the forlorn figure who lacks confidence, self belief and an eye for goal.
    As hard as it maybe at times lets give him a rousing reception and applause and cheering him on even when he has fluffed a sitter from two yards out. The only thing we have to lose is £12.7 million!

  12. Redcar Red:
    Well sed Red!
    Might be a good idea in the first instance to ask him if he thinks he might benefit from a couple of reserve matches with a personal coach alongside him in the “technical Area” to discuss how things are doing – instead of instructing him to do join the second string at Synthonia.
    One way is coaching, the other way is coercion and will be construed as punishment – which would be utterly counter-productive and designed to ruin the guy’s self-esteem.
    However, I feel sure that Gareth and the coaches will go about the whole matter the right way. We have to have SOME faith in our professional staff surely?!

  13. It’s official. Forever Dormo and Redcar Red are in agreement (me at 1.38pm and him at 10.16pm). Must be due to geographical proximity.
    In order to prevent an outbreak of unanimity, I think the Hull game is a – the only -Yorkshire Premier League derby. (That should blow it!).

  14. Alves to bag at brace in the Yorkshire Derby!
    AV what on earth is going on with the IT bods, the links from the Gazette site is for last months blogs and you have to go via Seaton Carew and Northallerton to get into Untypical Boro’s December’s blogs.
    Give them a good cyber kick from me, the Gazette seems to have employed the Lee Dong Gooks of the IT world!
    **AV writes: It is run from our secret Smersh style undeground global hyperhub in London. I’m not sure I have security clearance to get close enough to administer a kick but my list of concerns have been passed on.
    I think the best bet for now is save the home page in your favourites then click on my face to refresh all the latest entries.

  15. AV, Thanks for the technical workaround that you gave to Redcar Red – though I’m having problems clicking on your face as I don’t know where you live…

  16. And the Lord said, “Click on my face!”
    And there was clamour and jostling for the privilege.
    And behold, his face was clicked a hundredfold, but the writing on the scrolls remained stubbornly embedded and somehow appropriately as, “We Need International Rescue”.
    Not even divine intervention nor that of the Tracy Family could overcome the corrupting power of The Trinity-Mirror Software!
    But the people had faith that an angel from on high would come to Canary Wharf and say, “ Lo!, I mean, Hi! You’re fired!” to the IT Manager.
    And so it would come to pass that on the passing of the IT Manager, he and other demons would be cast out of Canary Wharf and all outlying villages and the great exorcism would restore peace and order to the communities and all over the Earth as it was then in Cyberspace.

  17. First of all, good to see the blog is back!
    More importantly I’ve only quickly scanned what posters have written above, but I get the gist I think.
    To add my bit to the Alves debate, he’s currently ‘off colour’ where scoring goals is concerned that said his form is better than any other striker on the Boro books, so as GS picks players on form then it is sensible for him to be in the first eleven, Mido on the bench (when fit), job done!
    Assuming Heskey quits Wigan in January, we’ll be under pressure no doubt to sell Mido, I trust GS holds his nerve and keeps him until the Summer.

  18. Alves or Mido.
    As Hull are excellent at set pieces both in delivery and execution I suggest maybe Mido might be the horse for this course. With the best will in the world Afonso is not going to outmuscle or outjump someone like Turner, in fact I wouldnt let him mark my daughters rabbit at a set piece.
    It may sound like I am having a go at him but I am not. He just isnt that style of footballer, Gary Linker and Jimmy Greaves were not renowned for their defensive capabilities.
    Hull are a well drilled team and good in the air at both ends. Stewie can deliver crosses all match long, if no one got on the end of them against Toon there is fat chance against Hull unless something changes.
    Maybe it is time for Alves to come off the bench when the game opens up and he can run at defenders. 45 mins as a lonely battering ram would do no good for his confidence.

  19. Can you hear me now?
    Its time to put Tuncay next to O’neil or Digard and put Alves up front next to Mido if Mido is fit and when Mido gets injured push Tuncay back up and bring on Arca.
    With Tuncay and Mido on we could really be buzzin!
    Mido and Tuncay could be an incredible partnership as they are both high energy players. Have they even played together this season?

  20. Untypical Boro? Our biggest broblem is with the IT. Just up the road at Magpies and ‘Underland they don’t have any full time managers.
    Typical North East football – Gibbo rules!
    Up the Boro!

  21. If Mido is fit? He doesn’t decide until an hour before kick-off does he? And when he does play he only plays for himself not the team, running all over the shop ripping up any shape, shooting from daft positions and not passing to people in better positions.
    If he plays again this month he will only be doing it prove his fitness for Steve Bruce.
    In all the media froth about the chanting and his comments about it to Eygpt TV we seem to have overlooked his quotes about a transfer about he knows Wigan are interested and HE will decide in the transfer window.
    The guy doesn’t give a toss, he wants out and TBH the sooner we get shot and bring in a fit, team player who knows the PL (like Kevin Davis) the better.
    People talk about Alves being a waste but what about Mido? £6m quid and how many games has he played? 15? 20? In two seasons. He has been a massive disappointment.

  22. At Hull, a point on paper would look good. But both teams appear better away from home. Surely we go for three points? But if George Boateng (God bless him!) hits a 30 yard screamer into the top corner we will know that God truly hates us. At the Riverside people in row 20 have only just got rid of their safety helmets, quickly donned when he got in sight of goal.
    Two – one to the Boro (and if that isn’t a hostage to fortune nothing is).

  23. Off topic but important and aview I support about the Mido chanting. A piece from BBC is copied below.
    ‘Piara Powar, director of anti-racism campaign Kick It Out, believes the authorities should be able to identify the culprits via closed-circuit television footage and has called on football supporters to help “self-police” any racist incidents on the terraces.’
    Totally agree.

  24. Ste Mac (Mido)”only plays for himself not the team, running all over the shop ripping up any shape, shooting from daft positions and not passing to people in better positions”
    Have you actually seen him play Ste Mac or is such a rant about a top international striker based on your view he wants away and doesn’t give “a toss”?
    However, like us all, you are entitled to your view. My concern with what you say is that you seem to think that because of the above, we should not be concerned about the disgusting racist chants aimed at the player a small section of Newcastle fans. I wonder how many of those ignoramuses have their names on the recently published list of BNP members.
    Football is a very important part of life to many of us, but it remains just again in which racism should have no part and should never be tolerated whatever the circumstances. Finally, please read the excellent comments by Pat Mc, Dubai, who says it all and much more clearly than I.
    Cmon Boro

  25. I do think its funny how people write afonso off so early! Right, he hasnt scored in 5 games, but, he is still working hard, its not as if he doesnt care! You can see when he plays that he is desperate for a goal, but the stupid chanting and booing isnt going to get him a goal. I have a sneaky feeling he will get a couple of goals today.
    Two main reasons. The first is that in the second half on the Newcastle game, he showed what he is about. He can cut inside, he has pace, and he can definately shoot! He did it against chelsea last season! hit the bar twice, and had a few opportunities.
    People started to write him off then, saying he hadnt scored in so many games, and when he should have scored, he missed. Then in the next game against Manchester United, he nets 2 brilliant goals, and the fans are back behind him. You cant have the fans changing their mind about a player who clearly has immense ability every week when he misses an opportunity.
    The other reason i have a feeling he is going to score is that he isnt playing infront of 26,000+ boro fans who are going to boo him if he misses!
    Another thing, wayne rooney didnt score in 7 or 8 games, and not many people booed him when he played and missed opportunities. But he got a goal the other day, and now looks full of confidence! Give this guy a chance, guarenteed he will come good.
    2-1 boro today. Afonso double!!!

  26. Good fighting and spirited performance but woeful up front again. Most of our attacking moves came from our right side rather than Stewy!
    We had most of the possession but most of the play was in our half! A bizarre result made all the worse by a soft penalty (that should have been offside for us in the 1st instance). It was simply a big bloke outmuscling a smaller bloke which wouldn’t even have merited a free kick in the middle of the park. A howler from Ross prior to that just capped a “Typical Boro” performance.
    There were some lovely moves from us, Digard had a good game along with Arca again in the middle. Hoyte, Ali and Tuncay played well but silly errors at the back are costing us. I doubt we will contest Wheater’s sending off (The FA would probably ban him for life and deduct 10 points from us as we are their favourite whipping boys) so that leaves us short at the back for the next few games.
    Just how do we solve a problem like Afonso?

  27. It is hard to defend Alves. Boro are playing with ten men week in week out with Alves in the team.
    I like many others have seen the wonderful array of goals he scored in Holland on U tube, but that player does not seem to be the same player turning out week after week for the Boro.
    Surely the time must come when we have to reassess the situation and maybe give Emnes a chance as I have seen some great goals scored by this player, and what is wrong with Mido being given an extended run as first choice?
    I am afraid Alves is coming to look like a repeat of the Macaroni experience, where because the club have paid such an astronomical price for a player they have to keep faith with their original assessment of the player and pick him every week, no matter how poorly he performs.
    Alves performance in this latest match against Hull City was pathetic and he seems to be going backwards. He is light weight and is easily brushed aside by players smaller than himself, which is very disheartening, he also seems to spend a lot of time on the ground, appealing for free kicks as defenders go away with the ball.
    There is no doubting that Alves has a very strong shot and can score goals given a clear shot at goal, but the way he goes about getting these chances leaves a lot to be desired.

  28. Come January we should sell alves back to the dutch league…..but will they pay 13 million …not on your life!
    We need management change….we are not a brilliant club with lots to spend…but Hull have taught us a lesson and many others also this season…with mediocre players but good strong management you can do well in this league…..i really wish everyone would stop bigging up southgate generally becouse he is another guy ready to fall becouse his job would have been long gone in any other team but the boro!
    Keane has gone and curbishley and allardyce are fighting each other for the job….i would take either at boro!

  29. AV/GUYS/GALS
    Can somebody please tell me what on earth is going on with the Boro at present?
    How come we have a centre forward, who as many posters on here say, cannot dribble, cannot head a ball, is brushed off the ball easier than a fly and yet plays week in and week out?
    Where is Mido, not even on the bench yesterday, why is he not getting his game? Was it another injury in the warm up?
    Why do we bother to take substitutes to a game, when they are never going to get on, or when they do, it is far too late?
    Why do we play the same players who make the same glaring errors every week, Taylor -far too slow, poor in marking, poor distribution, Downing/Alliadiere – one goal between them; Arca – so slow, can we not at least try a youngster; Grounds for example played perfectly adequately when called for; but lost his place immediately a “senior” became available?
    Why did we pay 4 miiliion for Emnes, simply to be a benchwarmer?
    Why isn’t Jinky given an opportunity from the start?
    Why do we accept this garbage and look for excuses, “he’ll be scoring soon”, we’ll be moving up the table”, “our eye is on Europe” and other similar empty rhetoric, to say nothing of Taylor’s puerile “alleged” “E” mail.
    Please do not label me a moaner, I am not, nor a pessimist, I am not, indeed if like a lot of you on this board I was shelling out a hell of a lot of money a year for the privilege of watching them, I would expect a damn sight better, rather than cheap statements such as “you will get the club you deserve”.
    My position is clear, I do not rate Southgate, but I sympathize with him for not being in full control, my concern is that we will carry on drifting as we have done for the past four seasons until we are washed up on the shores of the Championship.
    Ah well rant over, at least I am thousands of miles away from it all, I am sure to those of you who are close at hand, it all makes a lot of sense!

  30. Sadly my morning paper says 2-1. End of story.
    My thoughts of Mido starting and Alves coming on as the game opened up proved to be somewhat wide of the mark, so wide the length of the A19 separated Mido from the squad. The commentary boys didnt mention why whilst I was listening. One suspects a his groin flared up again (I recall my groin flaring up but it is a distant memory).
    It would be unjust to suggest he threw a wobbbly and is hankering after a move so I wont mention any such thoughts.
    Overall Hull had more of the game and more shots. We can complain about luck but if Geovanni had taken some ofhis chances it might have been different, same goes for ourearly pressure.
    We look to be in a similar situation as this time last year with an permacrock Egyptian and a non scoring main striker. Illuminating that Geovanni is as good at heading the ball as Alves, wonder if they had the same coaches back in Brazil.
    Arsenal coming up and a chance for a good performnace against one of the big boys, the Gunners are due a good performance but lets hope it is not against us. Gates comments that gaps would develop in the table are coming true with us on the wrong side of them.

  31. Its frustrating Iknow not getting the goals
    but Alvez will come good.number one he isn’t
    getting the service he needs …AT HIS FEET.
    and when he gets a rare ball less than waist high its often delivered so quick that he has to rush it and the chance is gone. To compare him with Maccarone is
    silly because his confidece was ruined by
    persistantly dropping him and then playing him out of position. He came as a centre forward and fom memory scored two against Fulham?then was dropped soon after by Mr Magnificent.dont let the same thig happen again.I would like to see some thought given to putting stewie in the middle
    front as he can shoot with both feet this would open the door for Jonson on the left wing also I would like a look at Emnes for
    a bit longer than 5 mins, and surely we must have more options at right full back

  32. Just about to clean out my daughters rabbit, she is off at University and apparently is not allowed a rabbit in her room.
    It is sat on a rug in the hall hopping now and then, occasionally attacks a bit of brocolli, makes the odd run then just sits on the floor. Left a tennis ball on the rug but he didnt seem to know what to do with it. Tried nudging it with his head but it didnt budge. When it is at his feet he looks startled, as if he has been caught in the headlights. He is called Simba, coincidence or what? Wonder if the Boro would take him on trial?
    Anyway, wonder if Gate has asked the ref to review Wheats card. Night be dangerous because the FA might add another match for frivolous thinking of an appeal.

  33. Downing… pushing for Europe? Will someone tell our players to do their talking on the pitch? Lets be honest, Hull city have a better chance than we do of qualifying for Europe.
    One point from the last 3 games is a very poor return, especially as the three teams were considered of lesser quality than us. The good away performances at villa and everton seem a million miles away now.
    We have won one home game in the last three months and only taken 5 points from the last 6 games at home… and Gareth’s call to arms lets make the riverside a fortress… maybe that will take a tad longer than expected mr southgate.
    Nevermind theres always a good cup run to take our minds off the league form… Barrow should not present too much of a problem….should they?
    Let’s ship a few out in January: Mido, Arca, Taylor, Huth – and bring in a couple of hungry players, preferably British, to beef things up a bit. No more tempermental foreign superstars please.

  34. We will not get all three points much when we cant score more than 1 goal a game.
    We have proved that even the bottom clubs can score against us so more Goals are bloody essential !
    Gary O;Neil finally hit goal scoring form and scored a couple and is now replaced by Arca.?
    ALVES!!! looks weighed down with expectation and is not buzzing , it seems he almost expects something to go wrong – and of course it then does.
    If we can score 2 goals or more in a match then it doesnt matter if the ref messes with the program.
    Arsenal are coming and I would like to see Riggott back in the squad as well as Gary O’neil and Maybe the big stage of playing Arsenal might lift Alves. I would like to see Johnson on like many of us and if its as a sub then Pushing Downing inside might be an idea.
    God knows what has happened to Emnes , can we not put him on for 20 minutes?

  35. Getting off point and just to ramp up the ‘Boronoia’ a bit…last seasons FA Cup beaten 2 0 by the Bluebirds, any chance of a repeat from Barrow Bluebirds this season!

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