Explaining the morale-building exercise the gaffer said:
“The videos were something we did as a group of staff to remind us of quality that’s still there – it doesn’t go. Sometimes when you’re on a run of failures, missed chances and saves, you need to remind yourself of scoring, playing your best. They’re useful exercises. This was just a compilation of all the goals, with the sun shining and people celebrating. Football should be fun but it’s less enjoyable when you’re not winning.”
People celebrating? Is that allowed? The idea of pyschologically reinforcing good habits is a sound one but it should probably be at leisure rather than amid a crisis. The players will have too many distractions right now, what with their top flight employment prospects and wages under threat, the club a laughing stock and worrying about whether or not they have left the keys in the ignition.
On the plus side, the compilation will be a short one and so won’t eat into too much Xbox time. Ten minutes tops. Including slo-mo replays. We’ve had longer slots on Match of the Day. Of course, had they done all Alves’ missed chances it would have been continued onto a second tape.
Boro have scored 18 goals in 26 games to make them the least prolific outfit in the entire professional game. Before last weekend they could boast that there was one team in Britain even more shot-shy but Scottish division three part-time cellar dwellers Elgin City pulled off a shock 1-0 win at home to Bernie’s old boys Albion Rovers so they have 18 too… although they have only played 21 games.
Boro have now gone 495 minutes (not including stoppage time, that makes it some much more fiddley to calculate) without a league goal. That came at the end of the first half against Sunderland on January 10. For the one before that (Arsenal in December) you have to go back 871 minutes…. that’s 14 and a half hours!
Thankfully the 495 barren minutes is nowhere near being a record yet. The national all time honours naturally go to Hartlepool who went 13 games without a goal in 1992-93 while the top flight leaders in ineptitude in front of goal are Everton (639 minutes, 1994-95), Derby (777 minutes, 2007-08) and Crystal Palace (836 minutes 1994-95… and guess who was their skipper).
It is hard to remember the goals this season. Not only was the last one in the league six weeks ago but the majority of them came in a flurry early in the season when the sun was shining and optimism was high. Southgate was basking in plaudits and had a Manager of the Month gong on the mantelpiece.
And of Boro’s 18 league goals only ten have come from the 13 games at home. For those of us who no longer have access to video (I think there may be a dusty Betamax up in the loft alongside the squarial, the vinyl and the cup final programmes) here’s a quick review of those moments of net-busting action:
August 16: Boro 2 Spurs 1
71 mins: Downing fires a half-cleared corner back in and when Alves flicks the ball onto the bar from the nearpost and Wheater stabs home the rebound.
86 mins: Digard cuts in from the right to drill a low ball into the box and Mido breaks forward to stretch and toe-poke home from ten yards.
August 31: Boro 2 Stoke 1
38 mins: Alves fires an unstoppable free-kick into the top right corner.
85 mins: Digard drills a low ball into the box for Tuncay to trap, turn and rifle home.
October 29, Boro 2 Manchester City 0
53 mins: Wheater takes a tumble on the edge of the box and when the ref awards a penalty Alves cracks it to the right of keeper Joe Hart.
94 mins: O’Neil burst forward with the ball and keeps on going after finding Tuncay and when the Turk wins a tussle with Onuoha and flicks the loose ball into the box the midfielder arrives to lash it home.
November 1, Boro 1 West Ham 1
84 mins: Lively sub Mido powers a low 20 yard free-kick through a poor wall and in.
November 22, Boro 1 Bolton 3
77 mins: Wheater nods on a Downing cross into a scrum of players at the far post and Pogatetz cracks home from eight yards.
December 13, Boro 1 Arsenal 1
29 mins: McMahon blocks an attempted Clicky clearance and alert Tuncay whips the loose ball into the box for Aliadiere to arrive with a glancing near post header.
January 10, Boro 1 Sunderland 1
45 mins: Alves collects a Mcmahon throw and sends Downing down the right then the Brazilian bursts to the edge of the box to reach the return and rocket in a shot.
Of course, that doesn’t include cup goals at the Riverside. So far there have been five of those against Yeovil and two against Barrow – let’s hope that there are a few more to add tonight and Gareth can start work on an extended director’s cut.
Sorted. The only question now is what to put on the sound track. Some anodyne vaguely uplifting inoffensive identikit indie guitar by numbers dirge like Coldplay or Elbow? Or a bitch slapping, pig icing phat ghetto rap turf war battlecry? Men Of Iron?