Damned By Proxy Praise

THE UNITY of fans and team almost fractured into unseemly sniping for a minute there but don’t worry, it was just the boos talking.
For all the crunch time rallying cries and talk of sticking together through ten cup finals, when the pressure is on people will react emotionally. That was certainly the case against Portsmouth as fans voiced their dissent at a poor display – overtly and in code – and the manager responded with a post-match pop.

Wide sections of the crowd moaned and groaned and screamed in fury as the sloppily conceded Pompey opener went in and they booed the team off angrily at the break after a woeful first half.
They grumbled and fidgeted and shouted out in frustration as time ran out in the second half without any increase in tempo, zest or desire before finally sparking an outbreak of popular dissent by proxy that earned an uncharacteristic rebuke from the gaffer.
The Trojan horse discontent took the form of singling out one player for praise.
Talismanic Turk Tuncay’s sudden omnipresent Juninho-lite perpetual motion, powering a header at David James at one end then racing 30 yards to launch a sliding tackle at the other, making runs and snapping at Pompey players’ heels at the other, helped galvanise the rest of a languid team into a belated urgency and lit the fuse on an unlikely revival.
It also prompted a chant of “we’ve only got one man” from the North Stand – which given the run of one win in 17 in the league and the lowest goal haul in English professional football is hardly the most militant expression of angst.
There could have been widespread booing, attacks on the short-comings of individual players or outright calls for Southgate’s head. There could have been demonstrations with badly spelled bedsheets calling for a ‘boycoutt’.
At some clubs the crowd would have reached tipping point long ago but Boro fans have been incredibly patient. They remember Southgate was a great player who lifted the cup at Cardiff and led the charge through Europe and generally, understand the financial limitations he works under and that have left the squad so thin. There is a stockpile of goodwill there that has insulated him and his team during a bleak winter.
Besides, given the stakes no-one wants to further damage the fragile recovery or undermine the players’ morale going into a crucial run of massive games with indiscriminate booing.
Instead, there was highly political praise for one player that as a sub-text emphasised the perceived lack of industry and passion from the rest.
But that didn’t go down well with the boss.
“Some of the chants were disrespectful to the team,” said mildly miffed Southgate.
“I’m going to get slaughtered for this whatever I say so I am going to say what I believe: for them to say we have only got one player is hurtful.
“The crowd are right to laud Tuncay’s efforts but we win and lose as a team. The other lads may not have been as eye-catching but they made important saves, blocks and interceptions. We showed character and resilience to come from behind and get what could be a very significant point.
“We survive as a club and as a town by everyone pulling together. It looked for while as if some people had given up on us there. We need everyone behind us all the time.”
And Southgate does have some valid points. Tuncay was not the only one putting in the effort: Adam Johnson did his bit to change the game while the likes of Tony McMahon and Robert Huth also had an impact when it mattered.
And the team did keep going right to the death, they did pull something out of the bag to peg back a rival and they did keep their survival hopes alive. Slimmer, but alive.
And yes, the team will need everyone right behind them as the further twists and turns of the relegation battle work their way to a conclusion.
There will be set-backs along the way as we battle for top flight survival and we can’t collapse into collective anxious squealing at every one. It is a time for steely nerves and unwavering commitment off the pitch as much as on it.
It also needs pointing out that Tuncay is far from being a one man team. Not only was he as poor as anyone and guilty of some woefully misplaced passes in an ineffective first hour or so but he also disappeared for long spells in his winter hibernation when others carried the torch with their own less publicised endeavours. If blame for the current plight is to be apportioned at any point then the Turk must take his share.
But the boss also misses a major point, which is that Tuncay was singled out for praise because in a massive game that looked to be fizzling out into a costly defeat, the Turk was the one that stepped up the work-rate, chased and harried and looked to make things happen when other looked to have accepted the outcome.
It was a response to yet another occasion when, as with Sunderland, Blackburn and Wigan, the team appeared reluctant to try to win a game was there for the taking. Rather than protecting the hurt feelings of the team, the gaffer may better advised to rebuke them rather than the crowd.
There is no room now for half-paced, half-hearted displays and we can not rely on the opposition to retreat, stumble and collapse to gift us the points in every game.
And if they want to get the crowd rocking then they should go for the jugular from the off, as they did against West Ham and Liverpool.
If we stay up it will be through steel, fighting spirit and hard work and the sooner they realise it the better.
And there is no room for pique either. To say we need to all pull together is absolutely correct but to parcel that up with a veiled criticism of supporters who have stayed loyal throughout a dismal campaign – and longer back than that if we are to be honest – threatens that alliance.
If the boss thinks the players find the situation hurtful he should talk to some of fans left emotionally scarred by last term’s cup capitulation to Cardiff, who travelled to the mauling at West Brom and have been dragged along the slow-motion slide from the heights of Eindhoven to a widespread resignation that the club are going down – but who still shell out good cash to back the team every week.
It is never generally a good idea for manager’s or players to have a pop at the crowd. Ask Steve “they need to be educated” McClaren. At times of tension it is invariably seen as a provocation by the critics.
It may have been wiser to say nothing. Given the impact of the last attempt by the club to communicate its feelings to fans making noise that was off message and ‘driving people mad’ you would think he would have held his counsel.
We all need to take a few things on the chin right now: the crowd need to accept that not every game will be brilliant but that they still need to rally round while the players and the boss needs to realise that supporters must be given a real reason to cheer and to believe and that as the pressure rises in the run-in there will be times when frustrations and fears are directed the team’s way.
There are nine games left and although time is running out fast we are not yet cast adrift and survival is still in our own hands. We can still do this but the need for unity is equally pressing on both sides.
Keep the Faith.


44 thoughts on “Damned By Proxy Praise

  1. Thanks for posting the article, a good read.
    For all our sakes lets hope that the we get a good performance from the team at Stoke. Spoken to a fan I know and they are all up for the game. In their hearts they think we may be a soft touch – cant see where that idea came from!
    I must admit I dread to think what the fans response will be if we get another ‘West Brom’.
    Gate thinks we are all in it together. We are, but when the players and coaching staff have gone we will still be Boro fans. If we go down the players will be off to further their careers elsewhere, those who stay will exploit the opportunities created by those that left.
    The coaches will either stay or move into other football jobs.
    We will be left with a club on the slide. The fans sense and fear it.
    There are plenty of points to play for and many of us just want the players to give it a go.

  2. Good article.
    I think are best chance for safety will be by winning our away games rather than our home games. The reason for this is not that it is a burden playing in front of home fans, but that the teams visiting the riverside who are also facing relegation, will only ever target one point from the game (but hope to get a last minute winner in the red zone).
    On the other hand, when they are at home the match becomes must-win, therefore more expansive and suiting the talents and set-up of Boro. I think Southgate knows this which is why consistently talks of their being no single must-win games.
    That said, Portsmouth were expansive and attacking in the first half and it was only when they retreated in the second did they come under pressure. However, this I think will prove the exception. The task is to make visiting teams know that if they want any points they are going to need to score. Does the crowd have a role here? I’d say saturday proved conclusively yes.
    I hope there is a silver lining to the midfield injuries which puts Tuncay in the middle with Ali and Alves up front.
    Up the Boro!

  3. Southgate couldn’t possibly have been upset because the fans were praising one player. That’s nonsense. Does he spit his dummy when the crowd sing David Wheater is ‘one of our own’ because it might be hurtful to the other locals lads? Don’t be daft.
    He just gave the press that line to take attention away from yet another a rubbish display at home to a team we needed to beat.
    You can see it now, when Boro go down having won one game in the last 26 and failing to beat all their relegation rivals and with the lowest goals scored in the division THEY WILL BLAME THE FANS.

  4. Southgate can not keep playing Arca and Pogatetz . The time has come to try Grounds/ and Walker with Tuncay in the hole. Alves and King up front.

  5. Southgate was out of order slating the fans. The players are sleepwalking to relegation and it is simply not on.
    As a club I think we are too nice. The fans trust Gibson to do what is right and therefore hold off slating the manager or players.
    This year though looks like being one season too far. It didn’t need to be though. Bad decisions, wrong players picked, wrong tactics in games have got us here.
    Southgate should fess up, acknowledge he has made mistakes and praise the fans for going so easy on him.

  6. Here’s a thought…
    If the club are serious about galvanising support for the team in this time of struggle. It may sound like a gimmick but I’m convinced it would rally everyone together.
    Forget Terry Venables. There is a Boro icon currently available to come to the Riverside for a short term contract,in a coaching capacity until the end of the season. I can hear it now……
    “Brucie Rioch’s Red and White Army”

  7. More news from the “Poisoned Lamb”.
    Firstly, the habitues are competing with each other in their demands that THEY are the Jonah, whose very presence at the game is a guarantee of disaster. The problem is that if everyone who believes he (or she) is responsible for the performances does as promised, and decides not to turn up for the next home game, the stadium will be empty. No doubt the manager will be quoted in the press as saying the lack of support was disrespectful to the players.
    Secondly, we are given to understand the scouting network has been set to work identifying targets suitable for playing in the Championship next year. Silly me for thinking we had no Plan B. To me it all seems pretty B… Stupid not to be busting a gut to get our existing players to perform to capability in an attempt to prevent the drop in the first place.
    If we all ran onto the pitch at the next home game, would the club and the Police be seeking 22,000 Football Banning Orders against us? It might be a kindness in the long run, and it would avoid the need for those in the south east corner to seek a noise abatement order against those who interrupt their sleep by so thoughtlessly singing football songs.
    Actually the club might then benefit by reducing its wage bill – we wouldn’t need the stewards, the cleaners, the food outlet staff, and we could reduce the number of bar staff to the bare minimum required to service the Boardroom, the Players’ Lounge and the no doubt luxurious Press Facilities (“I’ll just have one more Pimms please, before I file my 750 word colour piece”). It would also help to reduce traffic congestion in Middlesbrough in these difficult times for town-centre shops. Saturday afternoon cookery courses might suddenly become popular.
    We must look for the silver lining to this cloud.

  8. Teesside steel, fighting spirit and hard work are missing at present.
    grove hill wallah has a point….. “Brucie Rioch’s red & white army”
    Oh, and he might need someone to fly in the cockpit with him!
    Come on Boro

  9. I couldn’t believe the brass neck of Southgate with them comments. That display was a complete embarrassment. Another game that we had to win but made no attempt to right from the off, just like Blackburn and Wigan. No wonder people are booing.
    We only got out of jail because they say back and decided there was no way we would score as Paul Hart admitted later (and at least he had the good grace to put his hand up and admit it was his fault)
    Boro are sleepwalking to relegation. This is my club not his. The players will all bail out in the summer and we will be left next year to pick up the pieces yet we are slagged off whatever we do.
    When fans make a noise and get behind the lads they are slagged off by the club. When we boo we are slagged off by the club. Now we can’t even cheer for the one player on the pitch who is actually putting in a decent bloody shirt without the well paid manager getting all precious that his well paid players are a bit upset.
    They are a bit upset! What about us daft gets who pay their wages. They are upset? I am upset but I don’t bleat to the press.
    I am upset that we have wasted £20m plus on strikers but have scored less than Elgin City. I am upset that we went four months without winning and nine games with one goal. I am upset we can’t defend corners despite having two international centre backs in charge.
    I am upset that Lamb thinks this is “the best squad we have ever had” when we have been turned over by every team in the bottom six. I am upset that every team in the league think we are a soft touch.
    I am upset that the Geordies are having their worst season in a decade, their board room is a circus, have got through three managers in a year, have bought a bunch of crocks who want out and they and look like going down but can still turn round and laugh at us.
    I am upset that the club take our money every year promising top eight and a decent crack at Europe but don’t deliver and have the gall to have a pop at us when we dare complain. I am upset that NO ONE – not Southgate, not the players, not Lamb, not Gibson – seems in the slightest bit worried that the entire club is going down the pan.
    If we go down and they blame us in any way then I am finished with this club.They will get the fans they deserve.

  10. “edinboro said:
    As a club I think we are too nice. The fans trust Gibson to do what is right and therefore hold off slating the manager or players”.
    Okay, Pop Quiz. With all the trust he receives, what has Gibson done in (fairly) recent(ish) times that is right?
    Think hard, Chaps, this one maybe harder than you think!

  11. The club should track down Bruce Rioch and give him a seat in the stand for the next home game. The lift to and from the fans would be enormous.

  12. I am not a manager, and some people think that others in charge are not managers either, but its plain and simple. WE ARE FIGHTING FOR OUR LIVES!
    No point in aiming all our frustration on the team and management cos it just wont help our cause,no matter how good it may make us feel.
    So what should Gareth do?
    1. We are too light weight up front. Solution is to put Wheats up front with Aliadiere. Tuncay in the hole. Long ball, typical Bolton tactics but always a source of relief for the defence, who you have to admit are sometimes two seconds behind the forward their supposed to be marking.
    2.Poggy is not a left back. Wheats up front, allows Poggy to play alongsigde Huth. Taylor in for Poggy.
    3.We dont have a midfield. Arca plays because he sometimes can play a decent ball and with Wheats up front, that ball wont have to be that accurate. Walker in for Bates. Johnson/Oneil on the right. Stewwy left.
    This may be a tactic when we are losing. But in reality, we cant afford to be in a losing position half way through a game. We need wins. It always amazes me how when were losing we push forward, players try that little harder etc etc. WHY?
    Before we get on the pitch were losing. So these very well paid players should be busting a gut and trying to win from the off! Not when were one down. We will draw at Stoke 1-1. We will go one down afetr another hopeless display of self belief before we push forward and play the last ten minutes like a rejuvenated team.
    Some one posted a while back ” I dont care how we win, as long as we win!”. Now is the time to play bully football. Long ball, physical, not pretty football.

  13. My biggest regret this season has been that in the Middle East all the matches are shown live without exception and I have been forced through childhood loyalty to watch every single one of them.
    What a pathetic season this has been so far and I still have to suffer another nine games ! There hasn’t been any display of grit and determination for as long as I can remember – the Liverpool and West Ham games were not that good – the opposition didn’t turn up!!
    I shall watch all nine games but I have that sinking feeling in my tummy ( again).

  14. I arrived back from Australia late on monday and spent yesterday morning working my way through the MOTD and FA Cup highlights. As I had decided to avoid all things Boro whilst away it was going to be an ‘interesting’ morning.
    The Wigan game looked poor and typically Clattermole took out our best midfielder for what looks like the rest of the season – still at least we looked solid and avoided defeat.
    Next came the West Ham replay – very encouraging, we are starting to look a side again – Downing looks useful.
    Then comes the predicted ‘Typical Boro’ performance as we end Liverpool’s title hopes – is this the same Boro I left behind a few weeks ago? We’re on our way up the table at last.
    Oh well that didn’t last long as we are completely thrashed by Spurs – have the players got an eye on the Quarter Final?
    Thought we were going to make it into the semi’s for a while but Everton turn it around – not a big surprise but at least we can concentrate on the league now.
    Time now for the latest ‘must win’ game against Pompey – we seem to have lost the momentum gained against West Ham and Liverpool and are starting to slump – The team selection looks championship class – can’t believe Bates was sent off but it seems to turn things around for us.
    I can’t help myself shouting at the TV as Alves shows why some of the top clubs in Portugal are denying trying to steal the rusty Brazilian goal machine from us – maybe Gibbo should go round to his house and start checking if we’ve got his twin brother playing and the real Alves is tied up in the airing cupboard.
    So the usual rollercoaster of being a Boro fan all rolled up into one morning – I don’t think I’ll try that again – still at least we are still in with a shout instead of stranded with the baggies.
    Who knows, a win at stoke may see us on the way to safety as we’ve proved we can still play and win games. However the squad is looking thin with all of Southgate’s recent signings looking either unable, incapable or incapacitated – Arca still looks a liability and King looks like a last 20 minutes gamble player.
    Hopefully the rest will take a leaf out of Tuncay’s book and work their socks off for 90 minutes – as anything less will end in failure.
    **AV writes: That’s the matches covered but you have also missed the foot-in-mouth fun of “Lettergate”, two short lived upsurges of optimism and atmosphere, a brief flurry of “has he quit” Gate rumours and suspended betting by the bookies, a mysterious game of dug-out musical chairs between Coops and Agnew and a renewed bout of squabbling between the foam-fingers and Chicken Run gallows builders. It’s great being a Boro fan.

  15. The answer to Chris Marton’s question about what has Gibson done right recently is easy. NOTHING!
    The whole mess we find ourselves in is one of Steve Gibsons making. He could have took action to correct the blatant lack of leadership in the management team, he didn’t.
    He could at least attempt to unite the fans with a statement of intent, a rallying call, an explanation. He hasn’t.
    The financial mess we find ourselves in is one of his making too. Our transfer policy has been flawed for too long. Times & time & time again we waste millions on a gamble on a unproven player who leaves with no resale value. We hear the same whinge that we can’t afford proven talent. We’ll guess what one proven talent in place of every five or six foriegn flops would have us in a more comfy position than we are now both in the league & financially!
    Steve Gibson is living off what he did in the early Robson years. He was a giant for us then, I accept that but since then though his leadership of the club has completely lost direction.

  16. After another diabolical but expected performance against Pompey one incident summed the whole Boro attitude up for me. With Boro one down Cooper, wandering out with his hands in his pockets, slouching around the players area.
    Contrast that with the passion and fire he used to display on the touchline and you have a another indiction the club from the top to the bottom have just given up.
    Then to come out and have a shot at the fans is becoming a well known Southgate trait to deflect his own and his teams abysmal performance onto somebody else.The next thing will be that for those fans who continue to attend the Riverside for the rest of the season will find printouts on their seats telling them what they can and cannot sing on pain of ejection. No, not pain – relief.

  17. It is unthinkable to lose on Saturday. If we come away from Stoke with no points then it is game over we are down. I think that the last five games are to difficult and that the points we need should have been on the board after games against Wigan, Blackburn and Pompey.
    Three points for Stoke gives us a mountain to climb and with other key games around the premier league we cannot go into the run in fighting for the last available place (17th).
    It is going to be close and with teams like sunderland and newcastle not able to buy a win we have a very slim chance but it is very very slim. this game on Saturday is more important than the other eight we have to play. If we can nick it we will no doubt come out of the bottom three with a win and with Newcastle playing arsenal its a great chance to get above them.
    Southgate’s comments about the crowds reaction to Tuncay’s effort on Saturday was shocking to say the least. Pulis has blasted his players for their 1st half display against Everton on saturday yet we cuddle them and tell them its ok.
    Wake up Gareth its not ok we are in the bottom three, we are in the mire, the ship is sinking and the life boats are on the horizon will you give us enough time to be rescued?
    I’m expecting a great atmosphere on saturday and i cant wait for the game I expect Stoke to get at us from the off but we must be ready for it. Keep the ball early on, get our passing going and defend high up the pitch to accomodate their long ball game. Shortening the passing distance will help us and any throw ins we conceed must be half way line minimum…..
    Let’s go for it. This is our Mayday call…..
    COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. As mentioned in my previous post, its not just GS blaming the fans that gets me, but its the first time all year he’s actually been ANGRY!!! What he also failed to see was that the ‘only got one player’ line was, in some way, an attempt to get something more out of the rest; Something he has been unable to do all year.
    Agnew stating in the gazette today that the number of chances that Allfalldown Always has missed this season is ‘unbelievable’ is, whilst obvious, another OG that will undermind the fozberry flopping brazillian’s confidence further
    I’d play him on sat, in the hope that he trips on a bit of invisible pottery, taking out Shawcross, and clearing a path to goal for someone else.

  19. Loved (and fully sympathise with) the rant from Neil M at 9.54pm yesterday.
    It was also good to hear again from Werdermouth. Not so good to be reminded about the past several games (Liverpool and West Ham apart). As to AV’s comment “It’s great to be a Boro fan” I suspect someone from Teesside must have done something VERY bad in a previous life and that we are all being punished for it.
    Once upon a (very long) time (ago) I played a different sport. I had watched the Boro every now and then as a child, but at 16 took up active sport as opposed to watching. After a lengthy interregnum I started again to follow the Boro in person as I put my sporting gear away and replaced it with a Boro Red Book when the Riverside opened. I was too old to be chasing fit young university students as they ran up the wing, and a heart attack trying to catch them didn’t appeal to me.
    The other sport was a laugh, and sometimes very enjoyable. I can remember what seemed to be years of defeats, interspersed with the odd draw (but accept that memory might be playing a few tricks). Eventually we began to draw more games, and then the odd victory came along. What a feeling that was!
    Eventually the wins and draws greatly outweighed the defeats and my club began to climb the table; cup runs and then promotion followed, then tournament wins (in one glorious week we had simultaneous wins with different squads sent to tournaments held at Bridlington and Whitehaven) and then a climb to what would – in football – be a Champions League position in the Premier League.
    When you have experienced defeat after defeat, when you face an uphill task against better opposition week after week, but begin to turn it round, it feels great. Victory tastes sweeter in those circumstances. Later on you realise that it was the hope of that heady rush of pleasure that kept you going through the poor times. That was, however, the enthusiasm of playing amateur sport, for the pleasure of it, and with friends and colleagues – fighting for each other each week and hopefully improving.
    That is not professional sport, though. Realistically any professional team that goes 16 or 17 league games without a win before an admittedly outstanding performance against Liverpool, then drops back again to previous levels after that brief “Riverside Spring” cannot expect to survive.
    Fans pay (good) money to support their team. They are not upset to lose games, but they are VERY upset if it appears there is a lack of commitment from ALL the players on the field, and are VERY upset if it looks as though little is being done to change things.
    The supporters don’t want the ship to hit the rocks, and it would be nice if it looked as though something was being done to change course. Many of the players and the backroom staff may jump ship or hope for a Premier League club lifeboat if the worst comes to the worst, but the majority of the supporters will go down with the ship. We will not tranfer out, if the club goes down.
    It would be helpful if some people at the club could do some persuading that something positive is being done to avert the looming disaster, rather than having a (veiled) go at the supporters. Or another one of the players dragged before the hacks to spout the usual lines – “We are confident we can get it right. We are up for the next game” or “Player X vows to let his feet do the talking” etc.
    Otherwise it’s a bit like the Master and Crew of the Titanic having a go at the passengers for the ship hitting the iceberg. Maybe if someone else had been given some time on the bridge, or had hold of the wheel, the collision might have been averted? Would Brian Clough have been blaming the crowd?
    The stupid thing is that the iceberg is still ahead of us. We have not yet hit it. We can alter course by a few degrees (points) and that will be enough to avoid the collision. We don’t need Champions League form, we don’t need a U-Turn, at this stage if we take action now, we just need to get a few more points in the run-in than the teams immediately above us.
    If we do go down, the club will be more culapable than the crew of the Titanic, who might not have known there was an iceberg in the way. In our case, most of the Boro’s passengers have been shouting about the ice, but the crew hasn’t been listening so far.
    Lunchtime! Where did it go?
    **AV writes: The Titanic…. too good to go down!

  20. Well, yet another “must win game” looms. Cup Final number two in a series of 10. Boro lost the first on points. Even a point at Stoke, though welcome, may not be enough. We need to drag them down into the mire. It’s obvious though that time is running out, we can’t go on not winning our must-win games without the inevitable consequence.
    Two things will decide this game, in my view.
    One- the lads all turn up and have a real go from the kick-off. We know Stoke will, and we know their fans will. But an early onslaught from Boro and hopefully an early goal, will quieten them. No prisoners, full-on get-stuck-in. Passion and 100% commitment. If we don’t, they’ll steam-roller us into submission with their heavy-handed tactics. Thud and blunder. Maybe not a game for Alves?
    Two – we field an attacking line-up with two up-front. We have to score, probably twice. We won’t do it if Gate plays one forward. My fear is he will play one up front, though (and uncle Eric seems to suggest this today), then try to nick something with an extra striker late on. Caution will prevail. WRONG!!!
    By that time, we may well be chasing the game and it will be too late. Again. And this is Stoke, not Barcelona. They may be an aerial threat, but they’re not that wonderful on the ground. Play two strikers, and play football on the ground -that’s the way to beat them.
    Come on Boro!!!!

  21. I saw a good part of the Hull v Arsenal match. There was something for Gate to reflect on from the officiating.
    I am not taking sides because I am not a fan of Phil Orange (his name from journo’s apparently) nor of his opponent Arsene Whinger (a brilliant cartoon in one of the papers showing two fans passing a billboard declaring Fabregas says he didnt spit, one comments to the other that Wenger didnt see it so it must be true).
    All the first half Hull were making it difficult for Arsenal by fair and not so fair means. Whinger looked like he was chewing a wasp and was in the fourth officials ear all through the first 45 minutes.
    Second half, Riley (fine ref and not loved by Brown) booked six Hull players and he and his officials awarded an offside goal.
    I am not impuning Riley’s integrity but it does beg the question that, if you dont fight your corner you are doing yourself no favours.

  22. Scott, a Tottenham Hotspur Football Club Fan…
    Is it just me or does Gareth have a hint of ‘ Comical Ali ‘ about him lately.
    Remember the war tyrant , who even though tanks ,explosions , and bombs were cascading all around him, indicating he and his troops days were numbered still he remained steadfast and convinced , however clearly deluded , that he and his cause were indeed winning the battle.
    On every occasion he gave a theatrical ‘ spin ‘ on events insisting there were good things to be learnt and taken form this battle, in order to progress to the next phase. Well we all know what a load of crap he spoke, ring any bells Boro Fans?

  23. No matter what clever words Southgate says the fact remains that Boro have squandered too many games now, and with the midfield virtually depleted as of now there is even less chance of survival being pulled off, sorry to be pessimistic.
    Here’s my predictions for the last nine games INPO (as I almost had thelast one down as a defeat/draw – and was proved right again!)
    Stoke 2 Boro 0
    Bolton 3 Boro 1
    Boro 1 Hull 1
    Boro 1 Fulham 2
    Arsenal 4 Boro o
    Boro 1 Man U 1
    Newcastle 1 Boro 0
    Boro 0 Aston Villa 3
    West Ham 3 Boro 0
    No wins, two draws = TWO points.
    Boro are finished.
    End of story.
    I wish now that this will be wildly wrong!

  24. Scott, a Tottenham Hotspur Football Club Fan… said
    “Is it just me or does Gareth have a hint of ‘ Comical Ali ‘ about him lately.
    On every occasion he gave a theatrical ‘ spin ‘ on events insisting there were good things to be learnt and taken form this battle, in order to progress to the next phase. Well we all know what a load of crap he spoke, ring any bells Boro Fans?”
    It rings loads of bells………….
    Along with all the lessons we haven’t learnt over the last few years………..
    I’m not usually cynical but i’m afraid i am becoming more so, especially towards Southgates helmsmanship. Let’s hope i become less so by the end of the season.

  25. Scott; it’s just you mate. We all want to see Gates tell us we’re crap and we’re going down. That way we will all be tremendously motivated, it will instill a renewed sense of vigour and belief into the players, in turn motivating the crowd and uniting us all behind a single cause.
    North London; two teams, one successful, one desperately trying to be, but in reality the ‘Geordies of London’. Which to support; a tough choice but lets take ‘all talk’ over ‘substance’. Ring any bells Spurs fans?

  26. I’m starting to get it Andy: tell your fans not to be too loud, nice and quiet in fact! Subconsciously translates to rallying behind your team while all along building support and confidence. You speak as much twaddle as your clubs gaffer .
    ” Come on you Spurs ” !

  27. Just did the BBC predictor, in my reckoning the game between us and Newcastle is the decider, we win we stay up and send them down and vice versa. I think thats the silver lining everyone’s looking for.
    Up the Boro

  28. JP + AV at 2.49pm – just how annoying is that? You do realise that the whole of blogging Teesside is now racking its collective brain to work out what might have been in Mr Powls’ post. I’ll bet it would have raised a smile (and perhaps a knowing nod in the direction of “there must be a basis of truth in that”). The cloud of dust and cobwebs pouring out of Teesside ears is quite a sight.
    The bad news is the suspicious folk of these parts are now imagining all sorts of sad, weird, terrifying and downright scurrilous comments that might have made up the “snipped” JP post. And we can imagine some very libellous things when we want to. (Actually the thought that briefly flitted across the mind whilst I was typing the previous sentence would have been worth a sum in damages sufficient to pay for a really good proven striker. I won’t tell you what it was because I fear the “snip”).
    Of course, if we allow them to remain in the imagination, and don’t go on to publish the comments, they don’t amount to libel at all. But you knew that all along didn’t you?
    **AV writes: …… no, best not.

  29. Scott; you’re really not mate. Gates never said that and you referred specifically to him!!! I’ll give you one thing you; you certainly know your twaddle. Bit of an exponent or so it would appear. Dont come to a gun fight armed with a water pistol.

  30. For what it’s worth, I really rate Southgate and his ideas and philosophy for how the game should be played. I just think he became the manager of the Boro a few years too late. I think it is inevitable that we will become like Nottingham Forest , Leicester etc now. Maybe not this season, but soon.
    I am of the generation where Steve Gibson is the King of the Boro, but I listen to my sons talk and they have a completely different view. They see a chairman unwilling/unable to spend more money than the promoted clubs, a chairman who promises a great deal but delivers nothing.
    My question to you all is, at what point do we question Steve Gibson? Are we all going to be singing his name while in the championship or lower. In my view what he did for this club was unquestionable, but what he can do for the club now is.

  31. It seems Lawro has developed into a bit of a Boro foam-hander whilst I’ve been away – he’s predicting a 2-1 victory at Stoke with the following comment:
    “I think Middlesbrough have enough good players to withstand the barrage that they are going to get at Stoke and come away with all three points.”
    I sincerely hope he’s right as that will be one of the four games we’re going to need to win.
    In contrast Stubbsy’s predictions have us been thrashed on a weekly basis – move away from the window ledge mate and get a grip – if we beat Stoke then we’ll probably be out of the bottom three.
    Also I see that Gareth has received another vote of confidence from the Count. I’m still catching up AV but when did the suspended betting on Southgate being sacked happen? Also is Agnew the new number two or does he share the post with Coops?
    BTW, I presume John Powls make a Titanic jest – was it along the lines of someone at Boro actually aiming for the iceberg? I think you should start a new competition called ‘Guess the post’.
    **AV writes: The betting suspended flurry of speculation was on Monday and it prompted Lambie to appear on Sky Sports News to give the vote of confidence. We think the bookie took a single big bet (possibly in the Harrogate area) and so routinley suspended the market while they laid it off and recalibrated the odds(they had done the same the previous week with Benitez) but you know what Teesside is like for wildfire rumours. Full scale wild west saloon bar brawl I heard.
    There has been no reshuffle. Agnew took a spell up stairs watching from next to Gibbo armed with the call centre head set then he and Coops switched. I don’t think there was anything sinister, just trying a few things differently to see if they could get a different perspective on games. Aggers appearance shouting and pointing on the touchline coupled with the two wins naturally set tongues wagging but there was no palace coup or anything.
    The most interesting thing is that since his reappearance in the technical area Coops is wearing a full, sensible tracksuit ensemble rather than that over-grown mascot shorts, socks and shinnies get up he favoured before. Small steps.

  32. Soz Werder, but it’s hard to feel positive this far into this woeful season, besides, I think we can safely blame that bloomin’ Mark Lawrenson for cursing Boro yet again.
    Every single time he tips us for big things we do awful, likewise, every time (or most times) he tips us to lose then usually we confound his expectations and do the opposite. Examples? Okay – the season we finished 14th but made the UEFA cup final only to be thrashed 4-0 by Sevilla, he tipped us to finish 6th – one place up on 7th the previous. If only!!
    This season he tipped us to finish ‘comfortably’ in the top 8 [regardless of the fact that our threadbare squad lacked the experience which has now come back to haunt us big time] and has been inexplicably been very charitable towards us most of the time in his reviews. This leads to me to suspect either he is being deliberately perverse and ironic and is playing secret mind games with us or he really HAS started to enjoy Boro’s style of football. In which case, we are probably doomed from the start as it looks like we might finish 18th this time round at best.
    He has also likewise tipped us to win games on his predictions which have all, with one exception (Man City at home I think it was), turned out to be anything but! So maybe HE is the person who has caused Boro to have such a wretched season this time!!!
    But back to the here and now and being absolutely realistic, I really cannot see how we are going to dig ourselves out of this rut, what with the midfield missing yet again through injury, it makes us alarmingly lightweight in that department. And if we have trouble scoring goals as it is, think of how less we’re going to be able to cope missing the likes of O’Neill, Digard and even bates through his suspension.
    Judging by our terrible away form (nine successive defeats and counting?) it’s going to be a Stoke win, no bones about it – then the same is going to happen at the Reebok where Boro have NEVER won to date. Sorry…. but I wish this was all a bad dream and that we were actually 15th. Honestly.

  33. Oh dear ,oh dear Andy , I see the Hants air has dimmed your bulb more than usual!
    Lets clear this up once and for all , in an interview on Sky Sports News , Gates as you call him agreed that the noise at home games was causing a problem , that to me says it all .
    Now I think initially on reading my piece you have clearly taken the ‘ Comical Ali ‘ to heart and personally , maybe you should vent all your anger and frustration in to a positive energy and get behind your team , instead of a pointless slanging match at me .

  34. AV
    Spill the beans, stop being a flirt, stop being all coy, stop being a tease. What did JP post about? We wont tell anyone, honest!
    Worth a try but back to our current situation. Three points tomorrow will make us all perky for Mothers Day and be able to smile as we spend money.
    If we dont win, then unexpected sources had better come good.

  35. Also have completed the “predictor” and agree that the Newcastle game is a key game. However, the Stoke game is also key as my predictions had us going down on goal difference, level on points with Stoke.
    If we can win those two, we have a chance, if not I think we may be doomed, no matter how well we do against the others.

  36. Dont understand whats coming from GS ” we will handle all that they throw at us”. Why not throw down the gauntlet at say we are going for a win and Stoke will have to handle us.
    Its so sad that before the team is named we know as supporters that we will have one up front AND WE NEED A WIN.

  37. Looking forward to the game tomorrow, there seems to be a air of optimism from the camp with quotes about must win games and knowing what we have to do being thrown around.
    I really do hope we have learnt from our mistakes and we can go there expecting a fight and being up for it.
    It is going to be tough to get anything from the game but i am really looking forward to it and going down to stoke with 2000+ fans the players should get a major boost.
    If we go there having not learnt from our past mistakes we will be beaten end of story. we must be confident going into the game and we must get the ball down and pass is.
    I would like to see Tuncay in midfield but not in a set position. I’d like us to sacrifice the right side as we have no one out there anyway and play Tuncay just tucked in in front of O’Neil and probably Arca. King and Aliadiere front if fit. We have to go for it, no use holding out for a point we need to get above them and we need the win…..
    Its showtime…. lets get ready to rumble!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Come on Boro!

  38. AV, what precisely is wrong with wearing over-grown mascot shorts, socks and shinnies in the technical area? That’s my standard attire every week for my U12’s, and standing in the technical area (i.e. the part of the touchline not gloyed in 12 inches of mud) I have overseen 7 wins out of 8 this year alone! The boys love it!
    As our old PE teacher at Hustler School used to say “if you can’t play, dress up”.
    More power to Coops I say! I wish GS would either do likewise OR go the whole hog and wear an obviously cheap-and-nasty leather/sheepskin overcoat a la Jack Charlton.
    Also may I ask that all bloggers here click onto the FA’s website and follow the ‘Respect’ campaign links to watch the Ray Winstone video aimed at junior football parents. It makes some excellent points (unlike Boro will this weekend I fear) and needs to be seen.

  39. Just checked the net. Stoke v Boro live on Sho Shasha – the Arabic comedy channel!
    I hope we are not in for a fun filled debacle of an afternoon – or just a comedy of errors, starting with the team selection. What has happened to Emnes?

  40. A sunny morning in the Midlands and sunglasses may be needed when the aerial bombardment is unleashed at the Britannia Stadium this afternoon.
    This begs the question of which tactics will we adopt. We could be very compact and defensive and rely on our world renowned set piece defending to keep us out of trouble. Play with no outlet and hope to nick a goal safe in the knowledge of our capabilities of defending balls into the box (stop sniggering at the back).
    Maybe not. It might to be better to keep the ball and pass it, use our movement to keep Stoke away from our box as much as possible.
    Lets wait and see.

  41. We have beaten only one team in the bottom nine this season Stoke! The chances of us doing a double over them are slim statistically speaking but its now or never. There are not enough games left, there are no more excuses or lessons to be learned, today is the day for Gareth to deliver or “get off the pot”.
    Everton are doing it so far against Pompey, 3 points this afternoon could give us a last gasp springboard. Please no more keeping it tight at the back, or one up front. Tuncay in midfield with G’ON and two up front. At least if we go down, go down fighting and with dignity!

  42. Er Scotty old son, he really didn’t say that did he now? No anger or frustration here; life is just to good for that. What isn’t needed is a ‘London Geordie’ making crass statements and trying to be witty in the process. A slanging match; oh I dont think so. That could become unpleasant and besides I prefer the word banter.
    Anyway, I’ll leave you to think of something witty to post. Have you not thought of posting on the Spurs board where you can all fantasise about becoming the best team in North London?

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