Mayday. Listing And Adrift

BUGGER. Holed below the waterline by a glorified Championship side with one weapon, a ballistic freak of a throw; left needing snookers after yet another predictable away day defeat in which Boro did well enough tactically and technically to edge the game and carve out enough chances to win but failed abysmally where it mattered in front on goal and then were undone by one late slip to a set-piece we all saw coming.

It is disheartening writing the same thing every week on the road as the season slips from our grasp. Eight away defeats on the bounce, seven of them goalless. And how many chances to win have gone begging in those games? How many chances to seize the opportunity to shape our own destiny? And the string of winnable home games that offered salvation – bar one freak result – all fizzled out into inadequate draws.
Over the past few weeks we have been treading water and staying afloat courtesy of the typical Boro win over Liverpool and the others obligingly stuttering in their own survival battle. But we could never rely on results going our way every week. There was always going to come a week when things swung ruthlessly against us. And it did. Now our own powerlessness and inadequacies are exposed.
Now it feels like it beyond us. Now it will take two wins just to haul ourselves back into the pack even if the rest of the weak who are limping over the horizon don’t pick up any more points along the way. And then we will need another two to make serious headway out of danger. And after one win in five months and fewer goals than Elgin City what is there to suggest there will be a sudden upturn? Bugger. Bugger. Bugger.
Southgate had warned his players they would face a wall of noise and hostility at the Britannia Stadium – but they probably didn’t expect the high volume vitriol to come from their own fans.
After weeks of simmering anger and dissent by proxy the dam finally broke at Stoke. In what could prove a watershed moment, for the first time there were direct calls for the head of Gareth Southgate.
The tunnel at the ground is in the corner near to the away end and as the team trudged off dejectedly they had to troop disconsolately past an angry mob of travelling Teessiders who taunted and jeered “you’re not fit to wear the shirt.” Another group gathered to barrack the team coach with several taking off their shirts to wave angrily.
True, it was a minority, but a vocal and, crucially, one that seemed largely unopposed. There was no Lennie Lawrence fisticuffs between the factions, no PRG/ARG split that marked the crumbling last year under Bryan Robson. There are very few loyalists ready to stand up for the Southgate camp now as a season that promised so much unravels rapidly. Instead there is resignation and limp surrender, on and off the pitch. On the whistle at Stoke there was a tangible feeling that we are at the end game.
The frustrations of the fans had a profound impact and the rattled and world weary boss made the now undeniable presence of widespread dissent the key part of his post-match comments. It could hardly be avoided.
And the frustrations are understandable. Boro fans have kept the faith. They have been remarkably patient through a long bleak winter and largely stuck vocally by the players as they beavered away with little reward.
But Stoke was one ‘must win’ game lost too far so perhaps it is no surprise that the simmering tempers boiled over. It was the line in the sand. It was the point at which the stats that had been stacking up swung the balance of probablities against us.
And Stoke! Of all teams. Stoke are the ONLY team in the bottom half that Boro have beaten so far this season, back in that sunny August of hope and expectation.
Defeat to Stoke underlines all the problems that have weighed Boro down this term. They are by common consensus the most technically limited side in the league, a glorified route one Championship side well aware of their own ‘ugly’ nature and unapologetic that they play to their strengths.
They are the very antithesis of the highly technical passing at pace philosophy espoused by Southgate – but while Boro have rarely been able to deliver their Arsenal-lite, panache Stoke are more than capable of making their style count.
They are a well drilled and highly motivated bargain basement outfit that play with steel and determination and are greater than the sum of their parts and with the full unequivocal backing of their crowd, everything that softe-centred Boro are not.
Stoke are also the template for a direct no-frills football that beckons on a weekly basis should Boro go down. And that dark future is looming large.
Viewed in isolation it would be harsh to crucify the team for the Stoke failure: they were the better team, played the better football and lost because of one lapse in concentration. In itself that is forgiveable.
But the cumulative corrosive effect of a string of spirit-sapping reverses in the Groundhog Day tailspin towards the trapdoor has been to leave Boro a fragile and vulnerable side and the crowd resigned to what now looks an inevitable relegation.
Boro can still escape – but the Stoke result has stacked the odds against us. The form, the fixtures, the gap are all conspiring to leave Boro with a massive task. It means Boro must now throw caution to the wind, cast off the shackles of fear and be ready to go down fighting rather than meekly capitulate.
Faint-hearted Boro have had a string of chances to shape their own destiny and have been too scared of the prospect of failure to take them. Against Sunderland, Blackburn, Wigan, Portsmouth and now Stoke – high stakes games that could each have lifted the team out of the drop zone – they have set out to avoid defeat rather than tried to win.
The time for such caution has gone. It is win or bust.


135 thoughts on “Mayday. Listing And Adrift

  1. Most of the people on here slate GS and some are stating categorically that the man is not a legend at Boro. They are probably the same people who say that Mogga is a legend.
    I once read an article where Mogga said that he would be mad to risk his legend status by managing his home town team. He can walk down Linthorpe Road with his head held high.
    I wonder if GS feels he should not have accepted the job because without doubt, if the last three years were erased he would have the same status as Mogga, probably more so. And what if Mogga had taken the job with the same financial restraints as GS? I wonder what the mood is like on the i.c. brummie website?

  2. A Tottenham Hotspur Fan.
    Comical Ali ‘ GARETH ‘ is back and , in full song I see . I am however concerned as to why Gibson continues his services ,does he hold some deep dark secret .
    Look the bottom line Boro fans , is Southagte should’ve gone a long , long time ago. He hasn’t got a flaming clue . I hope you stay up for you and your clubs sake, coz your not a bad old lot .

  3. Well that will get troops putting their lives on the line eh? Pretty much a waste of time and an admission that we are going down and he is prepared for it. Still ‘One of Us’ is he?

  4. Now the rising water has reached the bridge, the Captain states the obvious in that it’s a bit too late to start bailing. Shame he didn’t listen to the paying passengers (and former players) who have been heading for the lifeboats for over the last two years.
    Why has it taken him this long to come out and speak?
    Why did he appoint Southgate in the first place?
    Why has he persisted with him when the evidence of his inability to do the job has been paraded week-in, week-out – for nearly three seasons?
    Does he believe we will survive? If yes, then what is it that gives him that belief? (We already know about his blind faith) If he doesn’t believe that we will survive, what is he going to do about it?
    The excellent post by Richard Foy (Boro Banter) sets the scene for the decisions made by Gibson on how the club had to be structured financially and the strategy of fast attacking flowing football delivered by energetic, ambitious, youth-full acquisitions and academy graduates. But he needed to recognise that the managerial bar had been raised.
    This has been recognised from the top of the premiership down, but perhaps has been typified by clubs like Wigan, Fulham, Bolton (and latterly) Blackburn, who have turned to experience to solve their problems. West Ham opted for a rookie manager, but spent heavily to ensure that he had a very experienced and respected No.2 to guide him.
    Gibson has failed to learn the lessons of the past and see what was happening around him and the hope that we would always better than the promoted sides has backfired because of the wily stewardship of Messers Brown and Pulis (even Mowbray has managed the double over us).
    It was quite clear that his strategy needed a manager with both the graft and the craft to realise it and no matter how professional Southgate appeared as a player he never exuded the qualities required for this job. Judging his performance to date and a quick glance down the list of his potential counterparts in the Championship next season, doesn’t give any confidence of a turn-around in our fortunes. What is more worrying is Gibson’s impotence!

  5. Werdermouth said:
    – at one point I had convinced myself we were being managed by Bob Dylan but eventually realised that MOTD kept showing profile shots of the Gate with his ever-growing locks blowing in the wind.
    LOL! That’s the funniest thing and actually cheered me up through all this mess. Actually, his bobness can’t put a foot wrong at the moment, bring him in as manager! At least he has a million song quotes to dip into at half time to inspire the players. Can’t be any worse than what Southgate is using at the moment! Workingman’s Blues indeed! Bob could have had Boro fans in mind. Anyone think of another appropriate Dylan song title….??
    **AV writes: Shelter From The Storm?

  6. The writing has been on the wall for a very long time. Boro watchers may remember Big Mac playing (was it?) 11 locals at West Ham in virtually his last game and saying that this was the future of the club – he should know, having really put the skids under the club.
    Just think where they would have been if Maccarone had never been signed, or Mendieta, how many millions was that ? Or Viduka ? Yes, he signed Southgate and a few others, but reckless gambles (with hindsight) were made and rubber stamped by the chairman, who was also silent when Juninho was disgracefully ejected just so Big Mac could play the Big I Am. And where is the Big Mac now ? Or Robbo for that matter.
    So don’t take it out on Southgate, who has honourably shouldered what Gibson himself described as the poisoned chalice. And they have done well without the results they may have deserved (no such thing in football). The season could have been so different but for a few minutes here, a great number of marginal decisions there, significant injuries at crucial times. Yes, other clubs get some too, but with far greater resources than poor choices at Boro has created.
    Then there’s the team, whose greatest strength is its defenders, but who have tried to commit to attack, without a midfield to either support the attack or the defence. Much is being made of the lack of goals, but why blame Alves (who can play)? Downing got 10 plus last season, Tuncay a few more, even some from Mido, some more from ‘the midfield’, and how many from defenders ? Where have all those goals gone this season ? Isn’t it said that all the successful clubs and teams begin with a strong defence ?
    So what do the players get ? More booing and jeering. There’s nothing new in this. More than 50 years ago as a young kid I was sick to hear it, I could not understand why people paid their money only to boo and leave 15/20 minutes from the end, when a couple of kicks could transform a match in moments ( Brian Clough used to do it regularly).
    I can’t understand why people pay the money they do today to behave in the same way. Sure they’re disappointed, but where’s the backbone, even in the face of failure? And to pay even more to travel to Stoke and humiliate themselves in front of real supporters, well they need their heads examining as well as their hearts. Are these the same people who roared them on against Liverpool ?
    As long as 60, even 70 years ago, Brian Glanville was recounting in his books the ‘harsh’ nature of Boro ‘fans’ who made Ayresome Park a graveyard especially for young local players, so it must be the inbred nature of the area and its inhabitants (where did they all come from ?).
    We have always said there was the 15000+ hard core of real supporters, and when you got larger crowds (which everyone wanted) the extra were the ones who would turn and jeer and walk out, the marginal supporters if you like. But don’t forget either that there are boo boys at Newcastle and Sunderland, supporters who are described as wonderful ! Let’s hope they are booing at the end of the season (how negative is that!)
    There’s a long, carefully crafted piece in Boro Banter regarding the financial plight of the club; sounds like someone has been picking my brain, but it’s far too academic. Football isn’t academic ! The ‘business model’ (jargon) he describes is in fact necessity, Southgate has said so on a number of occasions – they do what they do because they have to.
    Let’s hope they can keep the bulk of the squad together for next season, add the three experienced players (or more) that are needed ( money from ?), and let the players develop and build confidence with good results (many of the squad players have Chamionship experience…) And let’s see everyone learn from their past experiences, on and off the field, hopefully in the Premiership.
    And for Southgate, the footballing principles are fine, but you need POWER on the field, especially midfield and a striker. Arsenal only really succeeded when they had big, powerful players who could also play. Supporters have even been booing them this season.

  7. To say that this will all end in tears is an understatement. Sadly though the writing is on the wall and the Fat Lady hasn’t even entered the stage let alone started to sing!
    My biggest concern whilst watching MFC disembowel itself is watching Boro fans reach new levels of despair, frustration and anger. At what point will the people supposedly responsible for running the club adopt the very basic business management principle of forecasting?
    Now I don’t mean forecasting results or tactics (its far too late for that) but indeed forecasting human emotions and behaviour. History has repeatedly told us that the Peasants are revolting. It has also taught us that when the Peasants did revolt it often involved scenes of rebellious acts and mobs shouting abuse at the reigning Sovereigns. I desperately hope that SG wakes up before “the revolution”, the signs are there for all to see, sticking his head in the sand is not an option because in the history books Sovereigns ultimately lost them!
    I sincerely hope we do not witness Boro fans turning their bile on one another or taking their angst out on symbols of misplaced idolatry (e.g. Goal Machine banners). Any more proclamations of trivia and insulting trite emanating from people at the club who should know the Middlesbrough public better need to be tempered with a huge dose of reality and quickly.

  8. John Powls;
    I’d rather stay up, of course, but I’m sick of the mediocrity. The point I was making is that the acadamy players need time to get confidence and mature. Had we got relegated last season maybe we wouldn’t have sold Morrison and Cattermole?
    Incidentally, isn’t it strange how peoples opinions change towards Schwarzer and Boateng. They were slated at times last season. It’s a case of you don’t appreciate what you’ve got ’til they’ve gone!

  9. Took me forever to read the comments on this page and it’s exhausting, demoralising and depressing to see how many people feel the same way – almost resigned to our plight.
    To be totally realistic, I have decided to revise my predictions for these final eight crucial games which will decide our fate and send us plummeting the way of Saints and Charlton (absolutely no doubt about that then).
    Where other teams in this situation realise just how serious their predicament is and make an effort to pull out all the stops and start going on unbeaten runs n (even if they are just draws as opposed to wins) – see Blackburn, Portsmouth, Tottenham this season, and of course, West Ham, Fulham, Bolton, and Portsmouth again in previous seasons – Boro simply submit like a punch-drunk boxer that has had the wind knocked out of its sails and continues to flounder.
    This Achilles Heel has been our undoing for uncountable seasons now: I mean, when was the last time we went on a winning run of four, five or even six consecutive wins in the league, for example? Never!! Trying to win two on the bounce is a Herculean task in itself in recent campaigns, let alone the even rarer
    occasions when we can string together a hat-trick of wins….
    So, on that premise, the prospects for the run-in are bleaker than ever, and I won’t even bother supplying a disclaimer with this set of predictions now:
    [okay, not in exact order of chronology, mind…]
    Bolton 3 Boro 0
    Boro 1 Hull 1
    Boro 0 Fulham 2 (OR Boro 1 Fulham 1)
    Arsenal 6 Boro 0
    Boro 0 Man U 4
    Newcastle 2 Boro 1 (OR Newcastle 1 Boro 1)
    Boro 1 Aston Villa 3
    West Ham 3 Boro 0
    This means the only away game where Boro’s lightweight lame ducks have any chance of scoring a single goal is probably at St James Park!
    This gives a total of 3 points from 24 at most – from a maximum of three draws…..with ZERO wins, meaning Boro’s miserable, feeble, futile, listless, directionless top flight campaign for 2008-2009 has yielded only one win in 26 games (Sunderland 2002-3 / 2005-6 and Derby 2006-7 anybody???) with a total of only six wins to their name and a paltry 30 points. Perhaps, even worse, the Boing Boing Baggies may overtake the Boro and end up relegated in 19th place whilst we slump to rock bottom…..
    Alternatively, I can also see Boro bucking the trend and winning at least one of these home games but then losing every single away game into the bargain. And drawing maybe only one or two more at home – five points from 24 and 32 points in total from 38 games will probably still see us finish in 19th place and down.
    Whatever the outcome, it’s going to be a long grim journey down into the dark wastelands of the second tier. We’d better prepare ourselves now, because if Southgate is to stay then even God might not be around to help us anymore (whatever shape or form He might take)…..

  10. In the midst of all this, I’m reminded of a few lines from chapter two of Keane: The Autobiography:
    “Some of our players felt this stuff was beneath them. This was not The Dream that they were born to live. You could see the resentment…”
    How accurate are those words today? Except substitute “players” for “fans”. Or the majority of fans, anyway.
    I couldn’t agree any more with Mr. Average. I felt like throwing in the towel myself at the final whistle at Stoke, but what is the point of booing the team for the rest of the season? Why not get behind them while we still can? And yes, we have strung a run of wins together recently, even under Southgate…3-1, 3-1 and 5-1 in January ’07 if I’m right. Back then I was foolishly starting to dream of Europe again.
    ‘Boro are always ‘Boro. A bad result and we feel like giving up on the team. A great result and suddenly we’re world beaters. It’s always been the case.
    I guess the main reason for the current uproar can only be the fact that since after we came back up in ’98, we’ve never really had to fight to the death for survival. In ’01, City and Coventry’s late slip-ups ensured we were safe with a game to go. In ’07 and ’08 we ensured our safety by the penultimate game.
    Is it impossible to do the same again? The answer is a resounding “No”. Let’s not forget that the 1996/97 outfit were seemingly headed for the point of no return at the start of March. 5 points adrift at the bottom, the equivalent of 1 win in 20…and then along came four consecutive wins.
    Okay, circumstances were different back then, but don’t tell me we don’t have the players to get out of it. It’s all about attitude and backbone – alas, the latter is something we’ve sadly lacked this season.
    My point at the end of all this?
    I understand everyone’s frustrations, but remember that it ain’t over ’til it’s over…

  11. Steve Gibson quote from yesterdays interview:
    “once the game kicks off at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon any manager is limited in what he can do to influence the result. And the result is everything.”
    What total bull! A manager can influence a game before and during a game by his team selection, tactics and substitutions. I am seriously worried Gibbo has lost the plot and wants to drag us into The Championship.
    My BIG worry is that Gibson keeps Southgate in charge should we get relegated. We need to bring in an experienced manager, who i don’t know, maybe Alan Curbishley?
    Bloodly hell, Boro heading into The Championship!!! a mixture of Southgate, Gibson and Lamb have done this. The unthinkable is about to happen and those 3 should be ashamed on themselves and resign.

  12. It’s not rocket science. If you have a team full of defenders (or defence minded players), you’re not likely to score many goals. Yes you might limit the oppositions chances, but what else. It’s not good enough.
    Come on Southgate, go for broke. Get two attackers up top… Alves and King. Play Tuncay too. We have enough ‘workers’ in the team with O’Neil, the statues at the back and whichever central midfield pairing you pick (which generally means a defensive midfielder and a central defender).
    I’d rather see us go down in a blaze of glory than in dour ‘we surrendered at Christmas’ fashion.

  13. Sadly Gibbo’s address to the Boro Nation again was made up of words that didn’t really say anything, or at least anything that Boro fans didn’t already know.
    But what did we want him to say, that Gareth, and his back room staff are a complete set of plonkers who are tactically inept and have no idea on how to motivate the players?
    Let’s be realistic, even if privately Gibbo thinks that, even if he does sack the lot of them at the end of the season, drop or no drop, he isn’t going to publicly slate them if there is the slimmest chance that they can actually turn things around is he?
    What I think Gibbo should have been saying was how much the club need the fans, and how he will be trying every trick in the book to fill the stadium for every home game left, reduced ticket prices, dad & lad combo’s, whatever, just do it. And never mind if the season card holders get all riled because they’ve paid full whack.
    This is our club we are talking about and it is heading into oblivion so the gloves have got to come off, and that Gareth means on the park as well as off it.

  14. Sorry Stubbsy but despite revising your predictions I still think you’re being far too optimistic.
    For a start I’m sure Bolton will be already 3-0 up at half-time and I’m sure there’s room for a 10-0 drubbing somewhere in that list, preferably at home so that thousands of boro fans can then head back to your place so that they can join you on your window ledge – maybe you could even charge them so that it will at least pay for your season ticket in the championship next season.

  15. AV
    You were right about choking on the starter. It wasnt that it was something indigestable it was just like a Ryvita with nothing nothing on it. In other words dry, with no substance but difficlt to swallow. If the rest are blander, God help us.
    It told us nothing we didnt already know or expect. As other posters have commented he wasn’t going to slate the squad or coaches.
    The previous occasions when Gibbo and Lamb spoke to the ‘nation’ it was much earlier in the campaign when Mac was alientating the fans despite his (Mal from Inglebys words) ‘bold substitutions’.
    Other clubs have got out of similar pickles but they scored goals to do so. (It was good to see Alves keeping his hand in last night in the 1 0 dfeat by ManU reserves, some things remain constant in these troubled times.)
    Where those goals are going to come from is the problem.
    But that is next weeks story, today is part two of the Chronicles of Gibson. I dont think they will be made into a series of films.

  16. First of all I totally agree with Steve Gibson that sacking Southgate now would be pointless. If it had been me he would have gone at Christmas but at this stage a resounding no.
    How many gutless spineless cowards post on here that have chucked the towel in? We are at the end game of a dogfight. It’s not about pretty football but dogged determination to win four games out of eight and save ourselves.
    Some on here would no doubt simply advise the Premier League that we are not going to bother fulfilling the fixtures and simply record them all as 3-0 defeats to spare us the embarrassment.
    The reason he should stay for the last eight games is that there is no man on this earth that wants those four wins more, nobody who cares more and nobody who knows the players better at this stage. Somebody like Keegan would have spat his dummy out and cried off long before now.

  17. In Boro Banter, one commentator, Stu, says:
    “Boro’s Gibson pledges faith in under-fire boss – DIFFICULT TO ADMIT YOU WERE WRONG..isnt it Gibson? As for the hard work Gareth puts in, nobody disputes his application the bottom line he is not a Good Manager. He is a novice who should of managed lower league teams to bank all HIS LESSONS LEARNT, well weve learnt the hardest lesson….”
    And John Powls summarised the situation well in his post here at at 9:05am by saying,
    …..”That speaks to a confusion between cheapness and good value which is at the root of much of what ails Boro now in the squad.”…, when commenting on what amounts to squad quality and depth.
    Both these observations point to a common theme.
    Regretably, the playing side of football is not an exact science and there’s plenty of scope for getting judgement calls wrong, as well as getting risks to pay off.
    Boro’s moves over the past three years, probably necessitated by greater financial prudence, while perhaps helping to bolster the accounts, have eaten just a bit too hard into the playing capability. The balance hasn’t been quite right and hasn’t left enough in the tank for an acceleration out of trouble.
    Scotty’s view: “The engine’s’ll no tak’ it Captain!”
    Let’s hope James T Kirk’s leadership, “unflapability” and guts to go for it will coax the power units of Starship Boro to Warp 17 and maybe yet we’ll conjure an escape from the gravitational pull of the “Championship” black hole.
    Oh, for a Hollywood ending!
    But even Steve Gibson’s reaching for Harry Potter’s wand and is possibly rueing having made just too many compromises. It was always going to be a delicate balancing act, especially with the presence of “wild-card” clubs like Stoke and Hull making predictability all the harder.
    Sticking with Southgate is the honourable thing to do. It was in the full knowledge of a change of strategic emphasis that Gareth Southgate was appointed. It was in the full knowledge of Gareth Southgate’s novice status as a manager. It has been a fully complicit partnership, and a team game-plan to take Boro in a direction less dependant on high-cost “experience”. It would be unfair and unethical for Steve Gibson to do anything other than back Gareth Southgate at this time.
    Unlike some executive knee-jerkers, Gibson will not hide behind or shaft a loyal acolyte who’s done his genuinely level best with the resources he’s been given. When you sponsor someone as a leader or manager, it’s more the “character” than the skill-set you back. Skills can be acquired through learning and experience. “Character” has a genetic source.
    Personally, although disappointed in the club’s position, I’m genuinely heartened by the attitude and behaviour of the club executive at this time. Including, and perhpas especially, Gareth Southgate. Sure, maybe his skillset isn’t yet fully honed, but the man’s got integrity, sincerity and balls!
    Those honourable human values are rarely demonstrated in the usually cut-throat and greedy, self-serving world of football. And that alone, in my book, is deserving of continuing support.
    I actually believe that next season could be more enjoyable than this one! Let’s face it, judging by the comments on here alone, that wouldn’t be too difficult.
    If we do go down, provided Steve Gibson finds a way to manage the consequential gaps left in the finances, I hope that the maturing youth coming forward will see us able to compete for an early return to the top flight.
    If not, we’ll have found our new level – dictated by degree of financial clout.

  18. stockton red –
    I understand your frustration at those who are already resigned to relegation, but to call them “gutless spineless cowards” was a bit harsh.
    As we all have, they simply have seen us win 1 in 18, and see the task ahead as at least 3 wins from 8 very very unlikely. Where is the sudden change in form likely to come from??
    Disappointed in SG’s statement. So he can’t see what replacing GS now would achieve? Well, it may just give the team the kick up the back side it needs to make that unlikely target of survival a reality. Surely its worth a gamble??? Portsmouth and Spurs did it, and they are in a far better looking position than we are.

  19. I cant understand why most of you lot are so upset at Boro’s plight, after all most of you lot dont even bother to turn up to watch your team do you?

  20. Everyone is missing what Gibson really said,and that was Im not sacking Southgate right now (Too Late) but look for something to happen in the off season – although it would be interesting as to who wants the job considering the financial restrictions he would be under. We know O’Neil turned us down because of it.
    Names to consider: Martinez (Swansea), Penney (Darlo), Coyle (Burnley). These guys have had success managing clubs with limited resources, they also have had the ability to get the maximum performance out of their players.
    **AV writes: As with any statement like this, people will read into whatever suits their own perspective. Part two is up on gazettelive now by the way.

  21. O.K. Chris D, maybe i did go in a bit strong but look at it from another point of view. How after one win in 18 do we still have a realistic chance? It’s because there are some equally bad teams at the bottom.
    I’ll give you a couple of examples.The mighty Geordies have won one in 14 and equal our seasons total of 6 wins to date. The equally mighty Hull have won 2 in 20.
    Now why do you assume these teams for example are going to win games?
    Yes we start at a disadvantage but would anybody in there right mind have put money on Boro to beat West Ham and Liverpool 2-0 in four days? There’s a lot that can happen yet mark my words.

  22. To Stockton Red
    Sorry mate I don’t get it. The team have won one in the last 18, only six in all and only Elgin City have scored less goals and there is not the least shred of evidence that the management of the club are going to do anything about it. Indeed the Chairman has just issued a statement so banal it just about defies belief. Therefore I would say it is simple common sense to realize that the club are going down.
    That’s not being gutless, spineless etc it is being a realist, far better than Gibson et al who are obviously in denial. If AV had not assured us that it was not correct several times I would be convinced that Mr Gibson is determined to take the club into the Championship (and perhaps beyond).

  23. at the end of the day Steve Gibson cannot come out and say Southgate is sacked at the end of the season and Boro will be relegated. He would not and can not come out and say what we want to hear.
    The time to act was in January when there was enough time and the transfer window was open and bringing in an experienced manager to wheel and deal could have got us out of trouble. I’m not saying that was a guarantee but surely we would have had a better chance than what Southgate is serving up.
    One win in 18 games no goals scored and looking vulnerable at the back is a recipe for disaster. Gibson may as well have stayed quiet and said nothing because what he has said is meaningless in my eyes.
    Is he telling us anything new? No. Is he trotting out the party line? Yes. Is he in denial? Maybe.
    I cannot see how we are going to get out of this mess. If we were getting beat 4-3 then yes you could say shore it up and we will score but that the point we cannot score. Alves in the reserves last night had some great chances and didn’t score again. what more can we do?
    There are no more options we must go for broke in the next three games, get at teams from the beginning, open the game up and go down in a blaze of glory. Forget the last 30 games – our season is about eight games. Eight games to save our club and its existence…!

  24. Steve Gibson is not going to publicise his true thoughts and start the recriminations over the appointment of Southgate at this late stage of the season and at a pivotal time when our fate is not yet sealed.
    Consequently a message is given which is so vacuous, it can mean anything to anyone, the necessary platitudes to supporters who are ‘knowledgeable’. However I did detect a sense of resignation, he has played his hand regarding Southgate and like us has to trust Southgate to deliver.
    In many ways the game is up for us, we have lost ground financially and there have been some excellent, perceptive blogs which details how this has happened.
    We are a stable club but poor judgement on and off the field and the recurring point of inexperience in the coaching and playing staff casts a long shadow over Gibson’s leadership. Certainly the halo around Gibson has slipped in recent weeks.

  25. Steve Gibson’s halo slipped for me when he promised us all a big name signing as the new manager then to everyones surprise appointed Southgate.
    I would also add to the list of prospective new managers Gary Johnson of Bristol City who has done well with them and prior to that Yeovil Town – so he knows the lower divisions!I believe that he also was team manager of Latvia at one time.
    My local club, Pompey, appointed their director of Youth football as boss in place of Tony Adams who swiftly brought in experienced coach, Brian Kidd. Surely it is not too late for Gibson to bring someone in especially to show the “strikers” how to do it. Just think what a help Mr.Slaven would be then we all know that would never happen as Bernie does not toe the party line.
    I travel up from Hampshire for most games to enter the Riverside “Punishment Block” but each journey I am thinking ‘what is the point?’ After this season I shall be picking and choosing my games.

  26. Ian,
    It was mentioned on here as far back as october about the striking coach or the lack of one. JFH was available, wanted to (and still does) get into coaching /management and would have come here without doubt to help us out I’m sure. We didnt act on it, failed to spot the opportunity and let slip the chance to change the course.

  27. Does the use of ‘b—-r’ in various writings (a legal noun, verb and adjective) mean that I can say ‘bull shit’ as it is the phrase which always springs to mind when I think and occasionally write something about the Boro of the last 11 or 12 years?
    **AV writes: As it is an academic question you can use it just this once. In general I think I would sub it down to ‘bull’, not because I am a prude or against the odd earthy colloquialism but because I want to set a tone on here of considered and structured debate and avoid more colourful language creeping in – and to be honest that is the case. I very rarely have to take out bad language.
    I realise I am open to charges of hypocrisy but I reserve the right as author/ editor to use the odd emotive phrase for dramatic or creative effect.

  28. Pat Mc, I fully agree with your hopes for the last 8 games, I only wish there was a Snowballs chance in hell it might happen!
    The reality is that we will play with a Donkey up front on his own, Downing doing his best on the left, and 8 defenders plodding around, confused, dazed and lost. We will concede goals from set pieces and definitely at least one goal conceded in at least six out of eight of those games in the last 10 minutes.
    Gibson’s halo has slipped so far it has become a noose around the throat of MFC.

  29. I’m not sure Steve Gibson could have said much more than he did in his interview could he? This is not the time for highlighting past mistakes or discussing what happens in the Summer.
    There are plenty of posters blaming Gareth Southgate for Boro’s situation but as Richard pointed out its not that simple. football is unpredictable which is what makes it exciting and frustrating.
    The reason for Boro’s demise is quite simple, we bought a prolific striker from the Dutch league in the hope he could transfer that form and ability to the prem. sadly he hasn’t been able to.
    Perhaps the level of expectation was too high or the fact that he is the clubs only goalscorer of note was too much pressure, what ever the reason for his failure to score, the result is we are at the moment more than likely to go down. If Alves had scored 10 or 12 goals this season then we would almost certainly have stayed up.
    Of course we still have some hope, although its diminishing fast.
    As for Gareth Southgate, I like him a lot it seems to me he has all the attributes to be a good manager and leader, his down fall has been lack of experience and consequently too many mistakes have been made.
    Premiership football is the only business sector I can think of that appoints completely inexperienced people into senior management jobs, its a completely potty idea, it makes no sense at all.
    That said Southgate now has three years of experience so I would be happy for him to continue next season, alternatively there are plenty of experienced managers around who would love to manage the Boro, who even in the Championship would be an attractive prospect.

  30. Nigel
    I’m glad you pointed out that Gate is now an experienced manager – 106 Prem games under his belt to be precise plus quite a lot more in the Cups. He is in fact one of the longest serving managers in the Prem(4th, I think, after Old Beetroot Nose, Whinger, the Spanish waiter and the excellent David Moyes.)
    He was a rookie when he started, but for two seasons kept us in the top flight. And at the start of this season Boro started off fantastically, let’s not forget. Something like 21 points from 12 games. So he has in the past definitely shown the qualities necessary to keep us up and take us forward.
    But it’s all gone pear-shaped, of course. Gareth’s had to trim the sails to get the team Teesside can afford. But there’s also been a combination of poor tactics, poor transfer dealings especially as regards strikers (not all of them down to purse-tightening – Alves, Lee Dong-Gook, King, and even the attempt to turn Aliadiere into a main striker), poor defensive coaching, an inability at times to play the right players in the right positions, and most crucially of all for me, the inability to kick players up the bum where necessary and get them motivated for every minute of every match. How about playing for the last 10 minutes as well today, lads? This last one’s been a worrying trend throughout his reign – remember Watford away, Cardiff, West Brom and Fulham this season?
    I am most fearful because we don’t score goals and I’m not sure some of the players will be up for it in a scrap. I’m not sure Gate will be able to get them up for it, however hard he’s working and however hard he’s hurting. We’re hurting too. Are the players?
    And all of this is why I think Gibbo should have taken a more decisive stand. Whatever Gate’s many admirable qualities, it has been clear for some time that he doesn’t know how to turn it round. Wins against West Ham and Liverpool should have been the launch-pad for a daring escape act, but instead Boro went back into their shells.
    One win in 18 cries out for something radical. That’s why I would have gone for an assistant, a new Venables, someone who could give the dressing room the vital lift it so badly needs. Sadly it doesn’t seem as if Gibbo is contemplating that option, for whatever reason.
    Not down yet, though. I’ll be at Bolton shouting for the lads. A spawny win there could be the spark…… but Gate, we must go for it, and you must get them up for it from minute 1 to the very end.

  31. In the bigger scheme of things, this club has been going backwards for a number of years now and blaming Gareth for the current situation only provides a scapegoat for those in charge of the club who are now becoming well past their sell by dates and who are ultimately to blame for the predicament we find ourselves in.

  32. In these depressing times at Boro, what a wonderful distraction it was last night to indulge in the nostalgia of seeing and hearing Cloughie.
    Having watched him for four seasons as a kid, scoring goals virtually in every home match you just pine for a NO 9 who plays down the middle, like he did and was there in the penalty box to convert half chances.
    Then as a manager you equally pine for someone with his abrasive intelligence and deep understanding of what makes a footballer tick. The passing of time makes you realise how great he was and what we as a Club are missing at the moment

  33. Wingbacks? Seriously?
    I’ve been away on my jollies and so wasn’t subjected to the usual “refresh” on the internet to see the Stoke goal go in. Good job too, I think the computer would have gone through the window.
    But seriously though, Wingbacks?
    That one word alone says that GS has lost it. Crikey, you used to be able to rely on him sticking with the same tactics, what happened to the Ali/Tuncay strike partnership and Downing down the left?
    The key fact is that there are probably 17 other PL managers I would rather have in charge than Southgate, leaving out Jokin Ear and Ricky Scrabble. How did the North East clubs end up with these 3 jokers in charge?
    It’s gotten so bad I’d even welcome Megson with open arms. He may be boring as hell, but you can bet he’d figure out what the best team is and just stick to it.
    The Bolton game is bigger than a must win game now. It’s a REALLY, ABSOLUTELY, WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT GET 3 POINTs game.
    I’ll be hitting refresh whilst hiding behind my fingers.

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