Boro Need Catts’ Bite

WHEN Lee Cattermole crunched into Didier Digard to show he was top of the crops it was a pivotal moment in a crucial game.
The bone-juddering tackle that led to the influential Frenchman being stretchered off was robust, full-blooded and fiercely committed and was just this side of the law. It was an old school challenge that showed passion, steel and a ruthless will to win: qualities that soft-centred Boro could do with right now – and that they were displayed by a local lad so recently wearing a red shirt just served to underline that painful fact.


Be honest, for all the wincing, momentary sense of outrage and demands for cards and retribution, don’t you just wish it was one of ours putting in that kind of take-no-prisoners successful challenge?
It could have been the galvanising moment that ignited the atmosphere and sparked a defiant, united performance that launched a revival, a symbolic act that showed we had the bottle for the battle, we were ready to shed blood and scrap our way to safety.
Instead it was a typical Boro moment: the prodigal son marked his Riverside return by doing to us exactly what we had cheered when he had been doing it to others. You could have scripted it in advance. The only saving grace was that he didn’t add insult to injury with a late winner.
That moment changed the dynamic of the game. It took out Boro’s midfield kingpin and disrupted what had been a promising start to a match most fans had pencilled in as one of the five wins Gareth Southgate says we need to secure survival.
And with Digard out for six weeks or more it will weaken what is already a thin and fragile unit. It could well be a tackle that has serious implications for Boro’s top flight status and Southgate’s future.
That Cattermole was the story heaped the political pressure on Southgate as much as the toothless display and the stark statistics fast piling up.
His exit raised questions about the bosses’ ability to manage headstrong characters and also the role of the academy while his subsequent flourishing at Wigan has been in stark contrast to the spluttering of Boro’s ailing engine room.
The tough-tackling midfielder terrier had his limitations here and in truth was never going to live up to the early hype that suggested he could be Boro’s Steven Gerrard.
His tackling was often rash and costly, either in terms of free kicks conceded or yellow cards collected. And his eagerness to chase the ball could leave him out of position and Boro exposed as attacks came through the holes he left.
But he did have a burning pride, chest-bursting passion, endless energy and a willingness to go in where the boots were flying to win the ball – all qualities we are crying out for in midfield right now.
Yes, he was a handful and at times he spilled over from the back to the front pages but there is an argument that stronger management could have curbed those excesses and channelled them into improved performances on the pitch. Had we kept Cattermole and harnessed his energy there is no doubt he would walk into the current team.
His exit also set off alarm bells over fears that Boro were fast becoming a selling club. Wasn’t the academy supposed to supply talent for the first team? The sudden sale of a first team prodigy suggested it had gone from production line to shop window.
Now, we shouldn’t over-egg the pudding with Cattermole. He wasn’t a Paul Ince and he isn’t a political exile. When he left punters and pundits alike were divided. He had as many weaknesses as qualities and the majority saw his departure as sound business that was as beneficial for the individual as for the club.
The real issue is not so much that Catts was allowed to leave – or forced out, depending on your perspective – but that he, along with George Boateng and Fabio Rochemback, was never really replaced.
Had Boro brought in better players, more experienced players to fill those gaps in a threadbare unit the problems would not have been so glaringly exposed by his return.
Exactly how far Boro have slipped since he was shipped out was illustrated when Digard was carried off to be replaced by mini-me Catt-clone Josh Walker who is an exciting prospect but with only four Premier League outings under his belt he was never going to save the day.
That said, we should not let Cattermole distract us from a far more serious worry.
Wobbling Wigan arrived on the back of a run of six without a win and three straight goalless draws and reeling from the January window exits of Emile Heskey and Wilson Palacios. They were there for the taking. That match should have been one of the five wins we need to stay up.
Yet conservative Boro started with one up front, as they did against Sunderland and Blackburn, previous home games against vulnerable visitors where a win was not only realistic but imperative and games that fizzled out into scared stalemates. Even when Wigan showed little attacking intent Boro did not turn the screw and go for the win.
We have now gone 14 games without a win – a damning new club record – and 495 minutes without a goal… time is running out fast.
*****
MEANWHILE Boro have shown their impeccable sense of timing with a crazy cack-handed crackdown on fans trying to create an atmosphere.
The letters dished out to vocal supporters in the South-east corner – the self proclaimed Red Faction ultras – are a PR own goal of monumental proportion that offer an excuse to the national pundits to pour derision on the club and will divert our emotional energies into a bout of internal squabbling when we really need to be focused on survival.
It is a crazy demonstration of an internally divided club that is not singing from the same team-sheet. The boss and the players have spent weeks making pre-match rallying cries urging fans to play their part, to generate a noise that can power on the team and intimidate the opposition – while the behind the scenes jobsworths are preparing to threaten those who respond with ejection.
Now, no one would question the club’s need to be mindful of the need to meet the safety requirements of their licence. The stewards do need to curb any dangerous or illegal persistent standing so long as the current legislation is in place.
But to go in with both jackboots at a time of heightened anxiety and with such a cavalier disregard for the most dedicated supporters’ sensibilities is self-destructive to the point of stupidity and to do it with such a crass, badly constructed and frankly comical letter (apparently you are only allowed to make a noise once in nine games!) is a text book example of customer service worst practice.
Naturally, after retrospectively realising the PR impact of this surreal sledgehammer/nut scenario the club launched a damage limitation exercise long after the horse had bolted. There was website apology and Dave Allen was wheeled out on Radio Tees to explain the misunderstanding. It seems fans need educating in how to read a letter.
But it just raises more questions. The website rationalisation insists there had been complaints (just how many is not yet clear) about banging on the back of the stand AND standing blocking the views of others. That doesn’t add up. If they are at the back how can they obstruct anyone’s views? And if they are obstructing views they must have long arms to do the banging. I can hear the tannoy announcement at the West Ham game now: “If there is a Mr Tickle in the ground can he contact the nearest steward please.” .
I think they should just stop digging.
More on this later.

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49 thoughts on “Boro Need Catts’ Bite

  1. Wonder what the next chants will be? ‘Sit down, if you love Boro. Sit down if you love Boro’ ‘We cant sing a song for you, we cant sing a song for you’ ‘Were supposed to be at home!’
    Maybe our lack of attacking is trying to silense the crowd but I must admit I thought that was an away tactic. In a seemless link that brings me on to the striker debate.
    Playing with a lone striker requires a player who is a brute and bullies, has a high work rate, has sublime skills or is a lethal finisher. He also needs players to be swarming forward to join in play. I think I will rest my case, for now. No, Columbo like, one more. I thought it was me who said points come from unexpected sources, now it is Gate. Why not try getting some from expected sources before the tricky stuff?

  2. I have to say I’m feeling very apathetic about it all now. Where once would have been a feeling of anger and frustration there is now a slightly depressed acceptance of our situation.
    I’m ummed and ahhed about GS long enough, I am now convinced that we won’t be anything other than perennial strugglers under his stewardship. The problem is, you simply can’t sell the job of “club on a shoestring budget needs manager to help us survive” to all but a select band of the desperate and the “another crack at the whip” group of failed PL managers (Souness, McCarthy etc). So, we either have GS or another inexperienced head.
    Not that this debate matters, because we will have GS even if we do go down. The thing that strikes me about GS is the palpable feeling of desperation. He looks like he desperately wants to find a winning combination. Against West Ham he got a good performance and (almost) a win. So you can see he’s clutching at this tactical discovery as perhaps the way to save our season, and repeats the tactics again.
    I realise that there is an established theory that a settled side and settled tactics are best, however you should also try to play to your strengths and the opposition. Setting yourself up to draw your away games and maybe nick a win is fine, only if you’re setting yourself up to win your home games that is.
    Hull, Stoke and Brom have shown more attacking intent than us this season. Brom are only below us because it took them until January to actually get a decent striker. Another case in point is Bolton. Megson may be dour and unpopular, but in the last 2-3 home games they have raced into 2-0 leads early on. Sometimes they have been pegged back, but the game was their’s to lose due to a positive start.
    If you reckon on 37 points being the benchmark this season we need 14 points from 12 games. 6 home games, 6 away games. Home to: Liverpool, Portsmouth, Hull, Fulham, Man Utd, Villa Away to: Tottenham, Stoke, Bolton, Arsenal, Newcastle, West Ham. I remember early in the season that Phil Brown (AV’s favourite Hull manager) said he’d basically gone through the fixtures and identified the winnable games etc. He’d forecast out a points tally and knew whether they were ahead or behind at any one stage.
    Maybe we will, as GS says, get points in unlikely fixtures. But we also need 1 point or more in the Portsmouth, Hull, Fulham, Stoke, Tottenham and Bolton games. If we win 4 out of those 6 we should be safe. But right now we’re almost already relying on favours. Let’s just hope that like this weekend the teams around us have negative results too…

  3. While I hope that Boro can turn it around, the realist in me looks at the stats. We’ve won (I think) 7 points in our last 14 games. So needing 14 points from the last 12, having shown little improvement, just ain’t gonna happen.
    Like many pointed out at the start of this season, we have no experienced heads now that can grab a game and get everyone to pull their fingers out. Although in saying that, the players shouldn’t need a lot of motivation, they’re bottom of the league, if thats not motivation enough i dont know what is.
    What I want to know is, what has happened to Tuncay?? Funnily enough I was just looking at his Wikipedia, his old boss, none other than Zico, had this to say: “Tuncay has been a great loss to us, he was the one giving us the soul and the hope. Now that he is gone we miss that piece of soul and hope.”
    Irony?

  4. Will they be handing out letters to the 3500 scousers on Saturday asking them to sit down? Probably not.
    “sing when we’re scoring, we only sing when we’re scoring etc etc”

  5. AV – you mention that time is running out. Surely time was running out when we hit those “must win games” of the last two months, none of which we have won, which now means time HAS run out.
    I note GS reckons there are plenty of points left to fight for. Yes there are, but the evidence of recent weeks indicates we are unlikely to put up much of a fight for them.
    What can we read into the silence from SG – the man who appointed and supposedly backs the person who is going to take us down to the championship. SG has done great things for thsi club, but sadly I fear all he is going to remembered for are decison that may take us down to the championship.
    Although we would no doubt be favourites to come back up, I doubt we would acheive that. Stoke and WBA will go down and keep the same squad who have a benefit of premier League experience. Boro will have a squad ripped apart when the majority leave to maintain their earnings and will have to make do with a team made up of average free transfer championship players and young players.
    Doom & Gloom I know, but the only future that can be realistically forecast at present.

  6. Telling supporters to keep it down is NUTS.
    No I will not be quiet-
    Gate plans to get 11 nil nil draws and 1 win to keep us up, a risky masterplan . Madman or genius?

  7. Dread to think what Wednesday’s crowd is likely to be following the latest PR scoop by the jobsworths. Does Neil Bausor have any involvement in this?
    They really are out of touch with the fans. When you add in Shawky’s comments, Tuncay’s body language it looks like the club are going to implode.
    Whilst not like 86 I sense a long period in the wilderness as MFC gets the number of fans it deserves. Sorry Mr Lamb, as before, I deliberately separate the two entities of Boro and MFC.

  8. How can the club go a record number of games without a win yet still stick with Gareth Southgate? That record itself tells us that all previous managers have been sacked for less worse records. I scratch my head in utter disbelief.
    What we have is a rudderless ship heading for the championship with no senior figure at the club willing to make anyone accountable. Its and utter disgrace and a shambles.
    In the last 32 games at the Riverside, Gareth Southgate has managed a measily 10 wins. Any other manager, at any other club in the world, would have been sacked with that pathetic record. Why do we continue with this debacle? If this is supposed to be the entertainment business, which part of the product currently offered is entertaining?
    Gareth should do what is best for the club and let someone with experience save us from relegation. Clearly Gareth is not the right man for the job.

  9. I’d have no problems with us going down if we at least had a go at teams. Playing one up front at home when you need goals clearly isn’t working.
    Let’s see what Emnes is made of over a four-game run, either down the right or up front with Alves. 442 or 433 and take the game to the opposition. GS might get a few fans on side that way.

  10. I agree with Chris D and said it myself earlier. STEVE GIBSON, you should come out and let us know what is going on. Get on the 3 Legends Phone in, talk to us. We don’t care why you’re doing it, you’re the boss, just keep us informed because it doesn’t make sense. If its the Credit Crunch on your business then let us know, just say something.

  11. The tackle was dangerous and it depresses me to hear those connected with the game, particularly reporters and ex players ‘coming out’ with mealey mouthed excuses.
    You get a sense that there is ‘professional denial’ in full flow when you see the term “he got the ball” used to describe the incident. They don’t say it was a good tackle or even a fair one – they simply say “he got the ball”. Praising and encouraging Cattermole won’t help him. If he does that to a Man Utd or Liverpool player he’ll be drummed out of the game.
    With the Nolan incident at least Moyes was true to his character – he likes a few bruisers in his team. But isn’t it sickening to hear him trot out the same old tripe and absolutely baffling when you consider he was talking about a foul on his player? “There isn’t bad bone in his body……..” “Anyone who knows XYZ knows he wouldn’t mean to hurt….” Absolute BS. These managers haven’t got the courage and honesty to tell it like it is.
    They way they talk you would think football was a unique profession which has managed to find a way to recruit those who ‘don’t have a bad bone in their body..’ that they have managed to screen out the violent and the cynical.
    Last year Arsenal’s season was ruined by a player ‘who doesn’t have bad bone in his body’.
    Anthony that was a poor article (bit of change from all the ass kissing you get on this site ?)

  12. Gareth’s response to the Cattermole tackle was predictable – FEEBLE.
    Oh dear another unfair setback….. a lesson we can learn from ..
    He has begun to look and sound like a victim and the league is treating him like one.

  13. Our club is in real trouble, both on and off the field. It is said that familiarity breeds contempt and the players certainly are contemptuous of Mr Southgate. Why else would they consistently turn out pathetic performances like that?
    It is said that there is a collective togetherness in the squad. I dont see it. And who was that bald guy next to gs shouting out instructions which nobody appeared to take notice of? Perhaps he was asking them how many sugars in their half time cuppas.
    I fear thats it. I cant see us scoring five goals never mind winning five games. We have only scored 2 goals in a game 4 times out of 26, we have not scored more than 2 since last season, we have not come from a goal down to win for over 18 months, we have scored 1 goal in 9 and havent won for 14 games…yes we are going to have to get points in unlikely places…but i fear we will not.
    We are a rudderless ship and Southgate stands on deck like Captain Ahab applauding and clapping like a demented seal,will someone please put him out of his misery.

  14. The words of the club’s safety manager Sue Watson has ridiculed the fans and closed the season down. It was 100% stupid. Was Steve Gibson aware of that letter prior to it being handed out?
    If she doesn’t get the public bullet, along with a letter of apology channeled through the Evening Gazette it proves the club have lost totally the plot.

  15. Several issues touched on in this article that just sum up the total lack of leadership at the very top of the club. The people at the top Gibson & Lamb may be good business men in their field but football is clearly not their field!
    The PR of the club is a joke, they simply do not understand the paying football customer. Almost every time Keith Lamb opens his mouth he manages to alienate another section of fans. Now we have this letter asking people to be quiet unless celebrating a goal, you really could not make it up!
    Boro FC is in the football business for pities sake, yes that’s right FOOTBALL! Look it up in the dictionary if you don’t know what it means. It’s embarrassing! How about employing people in the club who actually know the business?
    The same two some insist on employing senior people on the management staff with no experience, to have a small inexperienced squad needs a bloody strong experienced management team. That’s the same in any business not just football! Surely that’s not hard to grasp!
    The man management of players is farcical! Pretty much every player to have left us in recent times has slated the club as soon as they get out. Shawky can’t even wait until he’s left! Its also obvious players we struggle to manage are handled better by more capable management & coaching teams. Something is blatantly seriously wrong! How about taking action to fix this? Yeah right, dream on.
    The debt which is crippling us is self inflicted. Most of it comes from buying ageing has beens on big money & getting no resale value from them. The same goes for gambling big money on unproven players who flop & again have no resale value.
    I am sick to the back teeth of the hero worship thrown at Steve Gibson. Best chairman in the league? Do me a favour! Most loyal yes but that could also be described as most stubborn. Maybe most over rated chairman would be an appropriate title. Let’s face it for all the huffing & puffing we are nearly back at the point we were at 20 years ago ie nowhere & a yo-yo club at best!
    This club is now about to implode. There’s one person responsible for that, arise Sir Steve Gibson. One of us.

  16. After looking through the premier league stats in the sunday paper two things became obvious. Of the 5 league wins, 4 were achieved by scoring 2 goals and if we scored 2 goals we always won the game.
    So for me the solution to winning a game is obvious and simple. Score 2 goals by playing with 2 forwards, 2 wingers, 2 wing backs, 2 central defenders and 2 central midfielders. If things aren’t going 2 plan don’t wait until 2 minutes before the final whistle to make 2 attacking substitutions.
    Come on Gareth, nothing to lose now by reverting to the attacking football you promised us all. It’s not 2 late yet.

  17. Yet another PR stunner from Boro! Great anti-chants above from Ian and Graham. I suggest the North Stand sing “South Stand, South Stand, give us a song” on Saturday in solidarity. Then we can all sing, “Southgate, Southgate, give us a wave.” Ideally, from the next bus leaving the town.

  18. Last two attempts to submit a comment on previous blog failed, despite using the ‘mozzarella’ engine. Is there something wrong with the trans penine cable or what?
    A briefer summary then. Such a poor day on Sat, they even ran out of pies in the east stand at HT. Don’t know if this was the club trying to starve me into silence, or if Mido beat me to the bar.
    Arca’s tippy tappy side shuffling round the pitch is an absolute liability. Nice guy, but his contribution is redundant at best. Unfortunately the Digard injury will no doubt mean his continued inclusion
    Allfalldown Allways must be the most ineffective striker the Prem has ever seen. His confidence is absolutely shot and he’s become a laughing stock. His dive when he was in an attcking position was disgraceful
    Emnes – When we sold Catts, who is now blossoming, we reinvested the money in
    Emnes. WHY OH WHY OH WHY doesn’t he get a run? How bad do we have to be before this kid gets a chance? Whenever he’s played he’s done well. GS says we are converting him to a striker. Surely a part of this must be some match practice. He surely has to get some sort of run on wednesday, and can’t do any worse than the present incumbent.
    Pogi, – great bloke but not a left back, and didn’t offer an overlap once. Why have we sent all the fullbacks on loan.
    GS – I have supported him on here before, don’t know if this is out of blind loyalty or sheer madness, but he must now realise he has to throw caution to the wind. Bemused me on his radio Tees interview talking about the team being like a bucket with holes, and how when you plug one, another opens up! Sounds more like the description of a holed and sinking ship to me. One things for sure if things don’t change he’ll be kicking his.

  19. Already too late? My foot.
    14 games is a looong time to go without a win, all the way back to November, if you can remember that far. But by the same token there are still 12 games to go, so there’s a looong way to go yet. Admittedly, finding 5 wins from those 12 games sounds like a difficult job, but look at this way: we only need to do slightly better from now on in than West Brom, Stoke and Blackburn (or if you like, WB, Stoke and Hull), and they are all just as rubbish as us.
    Footie is all about confidence, morale – the no-hopers we’ve got now are the same XI that we were a bit smug about in November. A few lucky breaks would bring back some belief, and then we can still squeeze into 17th or even higher.
    So, what did this letter say exactly?

  20. I made my prediction of Boro reaching 35 points several blogs ago….and I still stand by it.
    Not enough to remain in the Prem but then quite frankly we don’t deserve to be.

  21. As a fan who tries to be fair I must add to my previous comments about the singing.
    My lad, Alex, pointed out that I have complained about the abusive language from fans before. He also said that the banging on boards could upset fans in that part of the ground. He also said it has been poorly handled by MFC.
    Having taken note of his comments it still begs the question of joined up thinking.

  22. One statistic I’ve noticed over the years is that the form improves with the weather. In other words, when we feel the heat of the spring sun, form miraculously improves (remember the season ticket throwing incident v Villa – then beating Chelsea the week after and the march to the uefa final!).
    Pray for a very early heatwave!

  23. I don’t wish to add further to the general gloom, mates, but Spurs won at Hull tonight. That’s starting to look like three from WBA, Blackburn, Stoke and Boro for the trapdoor, because of the gap opening up. Now which of those sides will fight all the way, do you think? And which has the least fighting spirit? I know what you’re thinking……
    OK. So there are 12 games to go. Others could conceivably drop into it – especially Hull and Pompey. But unless we start scoring goals (ie being more adventurous from the start), the gap is very soon going to be too big to close. It probably is now. We’re already five and six points behind these sides.

  24. Sadly …this is not the blind leading the blind… it is the poor leading the poorer..
    We have Southgate because we cannot afford to sack him. A basic truth! If he is sacked he gets millions we don’t have. Thats not to mention the backroom staff! They also would cost lots to get rid of. If you cannot spend £3m on a midfielder you cannot spend £4m + paying off a manager and entourage. You know were we are!

  25. Cattermoles tackle was legal in England but in almost any other jurisdiction he’d have been sent off. As he would have been when he put Beye out of action for the season, and Barton for several weeks in earlier games.
    This is precisely the kind of thuggery that needs to be removed from English football to give us a chance to compete on the international stage. It’s got to the point now where players would rather give away the ball than be tackled by Cattermole.
    I’m not sure how anyone can see that as a good thing to have in the game. If Cattermole is allowed to continue in this fashion, he’ll end up destroying his own or someone elses career.
    As for Southgates reaction. It’s about time the man gave an outward sign of this strength of character he’s supposed to have. He should have torn a strip of Cattermole in his interviews, and given Steve Bruce a few words for encouraging his protege to stick the boot in.
    Get rid of Soutgate and give Agnew the job. At least it seems like he has a bit of passion. As it is we’ve lost probably our best midfielder for 12 weeks and almost certainly condemned the team to relegation.

  26. Didier Digard faces 12 weeks out – so that’s the end of the season for our most important player. We are lacking power in midfield and never replaced Boat or Rochemback as AV said above.
    But we must think positive – there is still games to play for this season. We are not downs just yet! We need to get Tuncay playing well, for example.
    Didier’s injury is a blow. This means a chance for Walker. But this was the worst scenario for us as our midfield is not creating enough chances for Alves. A loan needed perhaps – but who as the window is closed?
    Up the Boro!

  27. Neil,
    The possibility is that Pompey and Hull will come here knowing that a defeat wouldnt be terminal to their chances of staying up and that a draw would likely consign us to the drop.
    What is more we have to go to Stoke and Toon, the former will be a battle but the latter wont have Given. Sadly beating Toon isnt our strong suit.
    That is the problem, it is no longer in our hands. We are reliant on other teams results.

  28. Plenty on here looking on the bright side and picking off the clubs above us as “catchable.”
    You have to win a game to do that.
    You have to score a goal to do that.
    Three teams are now adrift at the bottom. Hull are six points clear of us, Pompey Spurs and Newcastle five. How on earth can anyone realistically see us clawing back that gap? Even Stoke at two points above us are currently out of sight.
    We need 2 more goalless draws while they lose games to get up to them. And in the meantime both WBA and Blackburn have to lose too. Its not going to happen.
    At least we could theoretically scrape a result at Stoke and overtake them that way but Pompey are out of reach even if we win our home game against them – thats a big if in any case. Same goes for Newcastle, Tottenham and Hull. Dont you think each of those clubs are targeting their game against us as their survival lifeline and will prepare accordingly?
    Frankly our best chance of a result in the remaining fxtures probably lies on the closing day when West Ham will already be on the beaches and we will be dead and buried long before.
    Plenty of fans are no longer behind Steve Gibson. If that doesnt change then this club is probably 14 games and 1 season away from a repeat of 1986. Will he walk away or will they desert him?
    Disillusioned fans have started their own clubs in the last few years – Man u liverpool and Wimbledon fans most notably. They have had to start way down the Pyramid. Perhaps Boro fans should start to plan for that now.
    The Northern League has stated in wants to expand by two more clubs at the end of this season. But the FA are planning to forcibly relegate a dozen or more of their clubs unless they do some major ground improvements by the end of March and they cant find the money so theer is an opportunity for a new club to get in there.
    It might be the only club in Middlesbrough in 2 years time.

  29. Dare I say, I actually miss Steve McClaren. At least he consistantly got us scoring goals, defending decently and brought exciting players to the club.
    Under Southgate we have been going backwards every season, so far back were pretty much relegated already. Ive had a lot of faith in Southgate, but I must admit Im feed up now. He promised exciting football? Well im yet to see it.
    We lost Yakubu because he insisted on playing Lee Dong Gook who is probably the worst player ever. Luke Young for Hoyte, Woodgate was the only reason Wheater played well, he gave him motivation to play well. Boateng, Rochemback, Cattermole would all have been very handy right now. Instead weve bought Digard who is a very good player, and Emnes who doesnt play!!

  30. Forgive my ignorance but since when has making a noise in a football stadium been a safety issue? What on earth has it to do with a safety officer?

  31. “The Letter”
    Who cares anymore? The people who run the club are obviously “Brain Dead”.
    This “Demise” all started with the poor treatment of Juninho and has just got worse.
    The next announcement will be the renaming of the Stadium. The “Riverside Morgue” sponsored by “The Co-op Funeral Services” how about them for a new shirt sponsor !
    Get a grip Gibson ! We are going down without a fight and no momentum to bounce back ! its unlikely there will be a “Merson” available this time around !

  32. Why doesnt Gareth Southgate do the decent thing and step down? Money thats why. With Spurs winning last night we are down, as simple as that. He might as well play the youngsters in every position there is nothing to lose is there. GS made a mistake when he made Pogi Captain as he has to play him and he aint a left back

  33. Ive just done that predictor thing, quite sensibly and have us 3 wins 4 draws 5 defeats finishing in 16th place. Wins Pompey (H), Hull (H), Fulham (H),
    Draws Stoke (A), Bolton (A), Newcastle (A), West Ham (A)
    Defeats place us just above the drop with Stoke Blackburn and WBA relegated. I think they have tougher fixtures and I think with our current shut outs maybe, just maybe it is possible. Everyone else have a go

  34. Interesting comments on the “missing McClaren” front, and questioning whether we have gone backwards. I decided to avail myself of the Guardian’s Interactive Chalkboards feature to check.
    Just as a quick comparison I compared the shots we took from Saturday’s game with the Wigan Home game 2 seasons ago, 9th December 2006, which was in GS’s first season.
    Then: 14 shots, 7 on target.
    Now: 7 shots, 3 on target.
    I know that there are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics, but you don’t need stats to tell you that despite our “attacking football” we are making progressively fewer shots and scoring progressively fewer goals.
    Many people lay this at Alves’ door, however there is no law (unless GS has imposed it) about having a go. What have you got to lose about taking a shot from 20 yards? Any of our outfield 10 could do that if they wished. Infact, you often see that teams who constantly shoot from all distances create more pressure on the opposition, and if you’ve got Schwarzer in goal you might even get one dribbling in.
    As Ian Gill says above, we are now in the position where our fellow strugglers will come here looking for a draw as they have a nice points cushion on us. We’ve given ourselves it all to do, and unfortunately, unless we get three points soon the pressure and potentially the gap, will be wider.
    I’d love to think that we’ll stun everyone with a backs-to-the-wall 1-0 win against Liverpool at the weekend (Alves, goalmouth scramble), but something tells me we may just give their title challenge fresh momentum, rather than the nail in the coffin. We’ll never get a better chance though with their eyes all on Real Madrid.

  35. Does anybody mention to Southgate what he is doing wrong because he seems to make the same mistakes every single week. Against Blackburn it screamed out for King and Alves upfront but instead Alves was dropped for Tuncay who everybody knows doesnt get forward enough and left us short like always of attacking options.
    Against West Ham the 4-4-1-1 worked because they were the home team, they are expected to come at us and attack and we were able to exploit the holes they left.
    The next week at home to Wigan it screams for a change in formation, a 4-4-2 and really go at them. Instead he for some reason decided on the same team, but one problem, Wigan are now the away team which means they as many away teams do come with a plan to sit back and mope up any danger.
    It means our one striker is just isolated and no chance of any real efforts on goal. He should have played 4-4-2 with possibly Alves partnering Emnes (I keep wondering what would have happened if Emnes had started games instead of southgate favouring non-strikers in his position)
    4-4-1-1 against three average teams at home is a joke, he should have realised after the sunderland game that a 4-4-1-1 just doesnt work at home to teams whose whole plan is just cautiously sit back and eat up pressure.
    So again does anybody actually tell Gareth this because the message doesnt seem to have got through. He favours 4-4-1-1 at home over strikers like Emnes (you know, the guy who cost us half of our season budget and hasnt ever started a league game for us) and that 4-4-1-1 is a big reason why we have scored 18 goals in 26 games and have won just 3 home games all season.
    Why doesn’t Southgate play Downing in the Bolo role and have two up front but I guess that would be just too attacking for southgate to get his head around.
    **AV writes: I think Southgate is taking a Two Ronnies Mastermind sketch approach and using tactics to answer the question that was asked in the match before.

  36. Gareth Southgate said “Goals not just down to Alves”.
    Who does he expect to score the goals then? The ball boys? Or perhaps the tea lady? No one has scored since the Euro was introduced, or has the cold weather affected my tally. The whole issue is now becoming farcical Anthony.
    The Gazette sport supplement was a great addition to the paper, but how the hell can one keep writing without goals to report? Maybe it should be called “The Near Miss” edition

  37. Ah the Emnes Enigma.
    If ever you want a sign that GS has lost the plot, this unfortunate young kid is it. He must spend every training session sat on his bum or scoring pointless 40yard screamers when he could have passed sideways. Why else wouldn’t he get a crack at it?
    I question the logic of saying that he’s not ready for a start. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but you start a game level, then you try and win the game. Why don’t we give our talented youngster, high on confidence after his U21 showing, a start? You never know – he might just score us a goal!
    And if he isn’t fit/strong enough – take him off later on and put on someone more experienced to take the pressure – Tuncay or Ali for example. Unfortunately for all of GS’s tactical barrel scraping, he hasn’t hit upon this one yet.
    I’m crossing fingers that he gets a start tomorrow, preferrably alongside Alves. Give Emnes a chance ey GS?

  38. I really fear we are doomed. Wigan will never present a more ripe target and we missed out again! I really think that we will be relegated, big earners will leave, and any funds raised plus parachute payment will leave us scrabbling out of the championship with only the kids from the academy.
    Are people in the club already resigned to this? Where’s the fight, where’s the goals, where’s the points? Where’s Venables when we need him??????

  39. Clive:
    How about
    ‘Atmosphere? You’re having a laugh!’
    Or on Saturday, in honour of Rafa, ‘Keeping schtum, and thats a fact!’
    Sadly the story is starting to appear in the media. I suspect there may be reference to it in reporting at the West Ham match.

  40. Keeping up the Two Ronnies theme I wonder when the worm finally turns? So far despite bleating to the contrary from the club the fans have largely been vocally behind the team (well before it was banned at the Riverside).
    We all love Boro but MFC appears to be totally alien to us and I for one am getting sick of watching MFC fiddle while Boro burn.
    No leadership on the pitch, no leadership off it and sadly the one thing I thought I would never say during SG’s era, no leadership from the boardroom. If nobody accepts responsibility for leadership and takes effective action then this will end only one way; with the fans turning their vocal disapproval towards the bench, players and boardroom in that order and most probably in the next four days for the first two of those.
    I suppose if we ever score again (lets face it even Dong Gook Lee looked more composed than Alves) the tannoy will blast out Bjork’s “its oh so quiet”. The psychotic siege mentality being illustrated yet again by MFC is totally in contrast to the love, concern and support for the Boro we all have.
    I personally now find it very difficult to shout “Come on Boro” at games (just as well as I’d probably be turfed out). I honestly struggle to see my Boro anymore and only see MFC with their Hogwarts badge and a complete indifference to the people of this town who work hard and pay their hard earned cash (even harder earned in the present climate) to watch clueless, dispirited, indifferent, insipid, spineless and insulting embarrassments disguised in Boro shirts.
    Surely my Boro is still in there somewhere or is that too much to hope for?

  41. I was disappointed to read the actual letter (was sent to me by a mate who is usaully in the south east stand) but I’m not getting in to that.
    So many of the posters above seem to have consigned us to relegation, doom and gloom, and to be honest they have a good chance of being right this time.
    However, im not giving up to that just yet. I think we can still get to safety, to say it would be a walk in the park would be lying to myself, God and everyone else. Im not giving up and only when it is official, be it last day or sooner, I will believe there is a chance, a small chance is still a chance.
    We dont know how things will turn out, we could lose another six and have a game of 20 without a win, but then right after win six. We dont know til it happens, and accordingly Im not losing my faith.
    Anyways there will be life after relegation, maybe not as good as in football terms but I also have a job and studies to worry about. life does go on.
    C’mon Boro

  42. I’ve been away for a few days so I’ve quickly scanned a few recent posts to get a feel for where we are at, as it were. A couple of observations…
    I was at the Wigan game and my feeling was that in the first twenty minutes or so we were on top if not dominant, Downing and Johnson looked a threat. Digard looked superb and looked like he had control of the game, without doubt he is a far better midfield player than Cattermole, though the truth is we needed as AV has pointed out both Cattermole (or similar) and Digard in midfiled on Saturday.
    I was close to Cattermole’s tackle but these things happen so quickly its hard to assess the legality or otherwise of it at the time. Having seen it on TV it was clearly a tough tackle but within the law. At that moment Cattermole knew Digard had the upper hand and took his opportunity to stamp his authority, although I’m sure there was no malice intended. Once Digard had gone so had Boro’s chances of winning, we were clueless there after.
    Digard’s injury may well be the nail in the relegation coffin as the midfield alternatives are not even close to premiership class, Arca? Shawky? Walker? Light weight, light weight, too inexperienced. It is THE key position in a football team and we have no cover.
    I also found Saturday’s line up puzzling, one striker at home against an average side with limited ambition? Alves is no good as a lone striker, he looked out of his depth and his challenges for the high balls were non-existent. He needs a partner.
    Finally, I’m an optimist by nature and have in the past been accused of being a ‘foam hander’ and yes its true we’re not relegated yet, but I see no evidence that this team is good enough to stay up. The players are talking the talk but they are not walking the walk on the pitch.
    How many clear cut scoring opportunities did we create on Saturday, a couple of long range shots from Downing and a half chance or two was the sum total of a poor performance. I can’t see us surviving, there are no green shoots, no evidence of significant improvement, no sign of a glut of goals coming.

  43. Our failure to strengthen the team in January by refusing to sell Downing, who will not save us from relegation despite SG’s unfounded belief, to the only team to have ever shown an interest in him is coming home to roost!
    Why is no money available? Could it be down to our “financial guru”, the teflon coated Lamb? His reported failure to follow standad business practice and build in £/€ exchange rates into purchases and players wages contracts is crazy.

  44. Middlesbrough have watched videos of goals they scored earlier in the season in an effort to lift morale as they have gone 14 Premier League games without a win. (Daily Mirror)
    Well that wouldn’t take much time out of their training schedule!

  45. I agree 100 percent with what Jwm367t said: “However, I’m not giving up to that just yet.”
    Boro can survive! Please support the team now! Remember how well the same players played in August and September. It’s the players who matter – luckily they seem to believe Boro will survive.
    If we are just thinking about going down we might end up in there… I still trust Mr Gibson to know these things – hence he supports GS.
    Alves needs service from the midfield – so don’t blame him only. It’s a team sport.
    Anyway, there is life after May – in any case.
    Up the Boro!

  46. Looking forward to tonight, surely this is an opportunity to play Aliadiere right wing, Emnes up front with Alves, Downing left wing, O’Neil and Walker central, with Saturdays defence.
    Huth I thought was superb on Saturday his reading of the game and timing are superb and when all else fails he isn’t frightened of the rufty tufty stuff.
    As others have posted above, Pogi is a great bloke and a decent centre back, but he’s not a left back, he’s too slow and cumbersome, playing him there takes away a significant part of Downing/Johnsons left wing threat because there is no support. However our squad is so small and lacking in cover that there is no credible alternative.
    We have two games coming up today and Saturday where we have little to loose and an opportunity to make some small gains. It’s time to dust off Mr. Rioch’s trumpet and employ the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ tactics. We may get slaughtered but at least it would be glorious!

  47. I am taking no chances at tonight’s match. I am wearing slippers and am taking a spoonful of cough mixture to battle the night air.
    The laughter which has come from that letter has been a tonic. The Dave Robson feature in last night’s Gazette was side splitting humour and who couldn’t fail to laugh at that? Passion can’t be taken away and it should be a great night.
    I am still sticking with Hull, Stoke and West Brom to go down and feel my bet is safe. Do you think Hull are likely candidates Anthony?
    **AV writes: I have thought Hull were going since we played them at their place. They were awful. Easily worse than Boro and I still can’t believe we contrived to lose that game. They have been in free-fall since Phil Brown lost the players with that stupid stunt of a ranting half-time team talk on the pitch. If we can’t overhaul them we will deserve to go down.

  48. GO GARETH GO!!!
    Bring back Steve McClaren, all is forgiven!!!
    (the sound of a supporter tearing his EYEBROWS out in desperation!!)

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