Blunt Boro Picked Off By Big Guns

STRACHAN had predicted it would be water-pistols against machine guns. If fact it was a much more even fire-fight but he was still right – Boro were firing blanks when it mattered in front of goal while City’s big guns hit the target.

The goal came from one of Boro’s few deviations from what was otherwise a shrewd and largely effective tactical approach. With five across the middle they played at a high tempo, closed, snapped and hustled and never let the City slickers play a passing game and when they got the chance they switched it wide quickly for the lively Jonathan Franks, Adam Johnson (until he was injured) and the over-lapping full-backs to get down the flanks and get crosses in for Bent and the supporting midfielders
The City goal came when that plan broke down briefly, Justin Hoyte coming inside in first half stoppage time to try and pick out Marcus Bent through the middle. Bent was muscled off the ball and it was pushed forward quickly for Petrov to run unchallenged from the halfway line to slot neatly between two defenders for Benjani to ghost in on the right of the box and rifle it home. Gordon wasn’t best pleased.
Apart from that there was arguably little between the teams for long spells (although you got the impression that had City really needed to step up a gear they could have) . Boro’s endeavour and energy helped grab a foothold in the game and they got the ball into the box often enough. If the team had a cutting edge we could have won that one.
And there’s the rub. Without goals and the industry produces little. And once City netted there was probably no way back because this is a side that struggles to score. In the second half there was a lot of huffing and puffing and the odd scramble of two but Shay Given barely had to make a save of note.
Yes, we should/could have had a penalty when O’Neil was sent flying by Sylvinho (who has scored more goals for Boro than Bent will) early in the second half and Barry got a knee in the way of another goalbound effort but that happens when you are in a slump.
Meanwhile, how low can we go? The crowd was what was to be expected when a club detached from the economic and political realities of their support slap a premium on a game that is not as glamourous as they think and in the middle of a crisis of faith. Especially as Steve Gibson has made much play about the harsh economics of Teesside when making populist gestures to the gallery over the impact of the Corus closure.
For North Stand season ticket holders a normal game costs £16. To charge £26 today was madness. Whatever City think they are not Real Madrid yet. And to be fair, even if it was Madrid the club wouldn’t have shifted the tickets at those prices given the recent form and low morale. The club got it disastrously wrong, ensured a low gate and offered an open goal to those in the national press who want a stick to beat us with.
There were 2,900 City fans there and but for the police who stopped 2,000 more from crossing the Pennines as the M62 became dangerous early in the day it could have been very embarrassing indeed. Or more embarrassing anyway.
On a team sheet note…. the return of Boro’s mystery midfielder Shawky from his gap year to appear on the bench may have been a huge neon sign spelling out ‘Not Wanted’ for Andrew Taylor, dropped even from the matchday 18 with a right back and two left backs on the bench ahead of him.


65 thoughts on “Blunt Boro Picked Off By Big Guns

  1. “City are now where we should be”
    Oh dear, such smug arrogance indeed from the land of the trophyless.

  2. MIDDLESBROUGH manager Gordon Strachan will today swoop for Celtic trio Gary Caldwell, Barry Robson and Willo Flood – and hopes Rangers’ Kris Boyd will join them at the Riverside before the end of the week.
    Record Sport can reveal Parkhead chief executive Peter Lawwell will meet Boro counterpart Keith Lamb today to thrash out a deal for all three of Tony Mowbray’s men. And Strachan is hopeful an offer of £1.5million will be enough to tempt Celtic into doing business immediately.
    We also understand Strachan, who was back in Glasgow on Sunday to watch the 1-1 Old Firm draw, has made contact with Rangers to ask about Boyd and is ready to weigh in with a bid in the next 48 hours.
    The former Celtic manager is desperate for reinforcements after being struck by a crippling run of injuries and has already pencilled the names of Caldwell, Robson and Flood into his plans for Saturday’s clash with Swansea.
    Initially, Strachan had also targeted Scott McDonald but Lawwell’s £3.5m price tag has priced him out of a move.
    The Boro boss has now set aside £1.5m to capture Caldwell and Robson and hopes to secure Irishman Flood as part of that deal – 12 months after taking him to Parkhead from Dundee United in a cut-price £50,000 move.
    Caldwell is out of contract in the summer and after failing to reach an agreement on an extension with Lawwell is desperate to team up for a second time with Strachan.
    And, at 31 Robson is also keen to move south and pocket the most lucrative pay packet of his career. Flood is another who will jump at the chance of a move after failing to hold down a place in Mowbray’s team.
    If a complex three-way deal can be put together at today’s meeting between Lawwell and Lamb all three could be heading south this evening to put pen to paper.
    Strachan will then turn his attention to Boyd and lodge a bid of around £1.5m for the hitman – who is out of contract in July – and hope the bankers in charge of the Ibrox club’s purse strings are persuaded to take the money and run.
    And he could team up Boyd with former Celt Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink in a loan switch for the Hull City striker.
    **AV writes: The wheels are certainly in motion regarding the Celtic business but the Boyd one is complicated because Birmingham are also interested and former boss Alec McLeish can not only top whatever Boro offer wages wise but also offer the reality of the Premier League rather than the challenge of getting there.

  3. If we do manage to get any two from Scott Mcdonald, Kris Boyd, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink or Jemaine Beckford then we may be able to start looking upwards in 2010.
    However, if more players are to follow then surely this would indicate that players will be sold – though which players are sold may not be the ones we want to sell – hopefully we can get our business concluded early to reap the benefit asap.
    A downsized club is no doubt here to stay, but despite the short-comings of Boro having a cash-strapped Steve Gibson, we’re probably going to be better off in the long-term than Portmouth, as by all accounts their owners are no great sheiks.

  4. Regarding Beckford, he is a talent no doubt, good finisher. However when I watched Leeds recent FA Cup clash with Man Utd Beckford may have gotten the goal that grabbed the headlines (and credit where its due, it was a good finish) but I felt his first touch and control was a little off.
    The Leeds team was able to pull of their feat by also communicating well and sticking to the gameplan that manager Simon Grayson had given him, Beckford for me looked a bit out of touch due to his abiltiy to communicate with team mates on the pitch.
    He has only proved himself in League One Level and I starting to wonder would he really be able to make the step up where his flaws will surely be exploited more. More so if Beckford were to move to Boro with our current set up I just can’t see him scoring the goals for us.

  5. halifaxp, Andy (Hants), jarkko – all great posts, brightened my day no end!
    The implication I take from one of AV’s comments above is that Steve Gibson will only ‘go public’ with a statement of some sort when he can do so within a positive environment, ie on the back of some good results or some good transfers in.
    Leadership, surely is about standing tall in adversity and inspiring those around you. Steve Gibson ‘where are yer?’

  6. halifaxp, The point was I was making was “Questions must be asked about ticket pricing for this game and how the bond can be restored between club and town” Which I believe is fair and just, whether it comes from a local reporter, national reporter, or supporter. Gibson needs to show his face and speak instead of hiding behind Corus and politics.
    I’m not totally convinced that promotion is the aim of the club now, maybe we want to “consolidate” (term used by the club for years) our position in the Championship before pushing on.
    Shame Birmingham are in for Boyd I think he would do the business in this division.

  7. Gutted, I agree completely with you on the substantive points you were making. Sorry if I jumped on your text in a way that was unwelcome to you. That wasn’t my intention. I thought you might have found their comments embarrassing or hurtful.
    I regularly find the arrogant, supercilious tone of some of the national press intensely irritating, especially when allied to large measures of poor research and blinkered or biased match viewing, and, although football may, for them, be about money and what are loosely termed “personalities”, it seems to me that most Boro supporters see a broader picture. (Simon Barnes is excepted from this.)
    I have kept two national press clippings in my Boro scrapbook. One celebrates the time Boro won the Championship with the headline “Bolton Miss Out…” (which completely nullifies any point there may have been in that season’s competition!)
    In another, I have an account of Boro’s comprehensive defeat of Manure at our place which has a picture of Mendieta, yes, but the text concerns nothing much besides Fergie’s mood swings. I don’t know if anyone recalls last year’s home game against Spurs, but I wish I’d kept the national report which named David Bentley as its man of the match!!
    I guess it doesn’t matter how the national press treats us really (because our club has such a high percentage of fans with local connexions; they therefore offer us zilch and cannot really hurt us either), but I did hate to see our fans, who have more loyalty and love for the club and football than many of these people can even imagine, being shown such disrespect. I think it would be cool of us to charge Daily Mail reporters for entrance to the ground and car parking in future, though, and any others who are as rude as them.
    Incidentally, it would have been slightly more courageous of them if, instead of saying our support was pathetic, they said everyone in the area of Middlesbrough who did not attend the Man City game was pathetic! (Oh, but they might lose some income if they said that, so it becomes preferable to insult those who did go!)
    Sky Sports also said that those 1,000+ of us who went to West Ham Utd last game of last season were pathetic support or some such, when it was a similar case of us expecting nothing really in return for our devotion, but we got rightly applauded at length by the Hammers fans, i.e. real football people, people who understand such things.
    **AV writes: Another thing concerns the geographical double-think. Obviously North is uphill and so it is considered laudable that “over 500 hardy Spurs diehards have made the long trip up from London today” but somehow laughable that “Boro have brought barely a thousand down to White Hart Lane.”

  8. halifaxp
    I have often made comments about my regular paper (Daily Telegraph). Of their journalists Herny Winter is generally very good but I always get worried if the report on Boro, be it in the Sunday or weekday versions, has a picture of the journalist at the top.
    Invariably the report includes the fact the match was played out under leaden skies even in the midst of August, factor 30 and drought.
    They also have an inability to look over the stands to the beautiful hills of North Yorkshire but they can see a wisp of steam from a flarestack which is entirely responsible for the carbon footprint of the northern hemisphere.
    They can also see large ships moored in the Tees but cannot make the link between river and port. They rarely mention football.

  9. AV, can you get your hands on the official numbers of away fans stats. I am sure we would be second in the Chimpship.
    And I guess we would stack up very well with premier league teams. Then if you divide the number of fans by miles travelled we might have a stat to throw back at these monkeys
    PS. Is it snowing badly in Boro at the moment? Need an excuse to leave Tyneside based work early.
    **AV writes: Hey, that’s a great idea for a column. I’ll see what I can do. We can use it next week after the Swansea game gets snowed off. Yes, it is polar on Teesside, get yourself home.

  10. AV I thought given the lurch from euphoria to depression it was bipolar on Teesside.
    Anyway, it’s also not been above zero over here in Bremen for about three weeks with no sign of it changing for the next two weeks – luckily football is having it’s winter break in germany.
    Well time to go outside for my late afternoon walk – I may be some time…

  11. AV … I was hoping you would give your thoughts on the recent refinancing that Steve Gibson has done with Barclays banks.
    Towards the end of December paperwork was filed with Companies House detailing a charge the bank has now got on Gibson/ONeil,MFC and Rockcliffe to the tune of £77m and the club are not allowed to sell any assets or purchase any players without written permission of Barclays bank.
    Now wasnt it Steve Gibson who said in May that he had reduced the clubs debts to below £30m which was prior to our valuable players being sold then we get told by Lamb post these transfers that we are still in debt of £30m.Now through Companies House we can see that we are infact in £77m worth of debt. Why cant the club be truthful for once?
    **AV writes: Is it £77m of debt or is an agreed overdraft facility up to £77m. I’ve seen the reports but am unclear as to what it actually means. Is it actually a remortgage to cover the final phase of the hotel complex? Again I am unclear. And as for not being able to dispose of assets without permission, I would have though that was normal practice for secured loans or dodgy firms could raise loans then just sell the property/assets they were secured against and do a runner.
    This is an area for an expert accounts analysis rather than me feeling around in the dark. It is not an area anyone at the club are usually prepared to (or maybe are even in a position to) answer questions about and Steve Gibson is very guarded about the mechanics of the wider Bulkhaul operation.
    Any accountancy experts around who fancy giving an overview?

  12. AV …Barclays Bank registered a mortgage against Boro on 5th November 2009 – By the looks of it it’s in respect of 2 facilities owed by Boro £62m and £15m which have been re-financed as 1 facility of £77m. The document is a debenture over all the assets of Boro, plus any TV, Prem and Championship income. It also stops the club buying or selling any assets without the express permission of the security holder (Barclays)
    the MG01 Particulars of Mortgage or Charge was logged with Companies House on 17/12/09 Ref: 372169/143 between Baukhaul and Boro FC and Barclays Bank (Security Agent, Total Commitments being £77m. Securities listed the shares of Middlesbrough FC and its Holding Company
    **AV writes: You would presume the facilities are Rockliffe Hall/Hurworth and the stadium/club. So accountants…. is that unusual? Routine? Risky? Significant against the total turnover and value of Bulkhaul? What about repayment rates, terms and timetable? I think we only have a few pieces of the jigsaw?

  13. Since these figures, haven’t we recieved £30m transfer fees, £11m relegation money, season ticket sales? Considering liverpool owe about £500m. Whats the big concern?
    **AV writes: No, this arrangement is after all those things have come in. I think this is just a reshuffle and tidy of the various debt to consolidate into one and arrange a more advantageous repayment rate and schedule. But I don’t know that.

  14. Latest from scottish press
    Gordon Strachan’s New Year raid on Celtic was put on ice last night after the big freeze wiped out a planned transfer summit in Gretna Green.
    Record Sport revealed yesterday Parkhead chief executive Peter Lawwell and Middlesbrough counterpart Keith Lamb had set up a face-to-face meeting to thrash out the terms of Strachan’s triple swoop for Gary Caldwell, Barry Robson and Willo Flood.
    But those talks were scuppered yesterday morning when heavy snow in the north of England caused chaos on the roads and shut the trans Pennine A66 which is the main route out of Tees-side.
    Rather than shake hands on a deal Lawwell and Lamb conducted talksby phone but failed to strike a deal. It’s understood the two could not agree a combined fee for all three players – and that last night Lawwell was holding out for an increased offer.
    Ex-Celtic boss Strachan had hoped to land the trio with an all-in bid of around £1.5 million and have them in his squad for Saturday’s Championship clash with promotion rivals Swansea.
    However, the clubs were continuing to barter at the close of business yesterday .
    A source close to the talks insisted though “progress” had been made Boro’s offer was still “nowhere near” meeting Lawwell’s demands.
    Strachan, meanwhile, faces competition from an old rival in his attempt to lure Kris Boyd from Rangers .
    Ex-Ibrox boss Alex McLeish has spoken to his old club about Boyd and made it clear he would consider joining the bidding should a decision be made to listen to offers for the prolific striker this month
    **AV writes: Or ‘snow joke as big freeze puts icy bite on Boro’s cross border triple tartan raid’ as we say. Yes, we are aware of that. We expect quite a bit more haggling before the deal is done. By phone if neccessary.

  15. No agreement reached on Celtic trio Lambie must have tried to buy them with monopoly money.
    See Man City had losses 90 plus million and still make it sound like its not a problem what a strange world we live in i think football is in serious problems.

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