Season Over? Cardiff Again!

BLOODY Cardiff again! Game over? Defeat has left Boro hopelessly adrift, five points behind the Welsh side and having played two more games. And with rampant Newcastle to come next week. And West Brom and Leicester still to play away. Making the play-offs isn’t impossible – yet – but it would take a dramatically improved Boro beating the Geordies and then embarking on a spectacular winning run to force our way back into it with seven wins, maybe eight wins, from the last 11 games.
And on the evidence of the frustratiing display at Cardiff I wouldn’t put money on it.


Cardiff were there for the taking: a bitterly divided club with chairman and manager at loggerheads, fans in open revolt against a board that has taken them to the brink of administration and a team in the middle of a recent wobble that has left them vulnerable to their annual play-off bottle job. But Boro could not take advantage of that brittle mindset by piling on the pressure.
Boro knew that it was a decisive match, that they had to be organised, motivated and focussed from the start and they had to win. And once again against Cardiff, when the moment came and the stakes were high they simply failed to deliver, either a display or a result. In truth, it was over after three minutes.
The first half was as poor a performance as any under Strachan. Disorganised from the off, lack-lustre, without spirit or spark or creativity. There was no coherent shape, no tempo, no drive and no response to the sickening and cheaply conceded early goal. For all the recent signs of growing mental strength, it was a shambolic 45 minutes in which there were no leaders visible in the team and as individuals they lost every personal battle in every area of the pitch.
Yes, Boro improved after the break. Yes there were chances: Leroy Lita headed over with a close range header, Wheater’s goal was ruled out because Lita stuck his hand up vaguely in the flightpath of the ball then in a fast and furious final ten minutes Marshall made two excellent saves from Gary O’Neil and one from Barry Robson and arguably they should have got something – although Cardiff could counter by saying they should have had a penalty and then they hit the bar in a stoppage time break.
But for Boro it was too little, too late. They had conceded the early goal and the initiative and in a game they really needed to win and there was no way back. Not without a cutting edge, For an hour after the goal they looked totally bereft of ideas, inspiration or quality. It was poor fare and does not bode well for the run in.
Three demoralising away defeats in a row to play-off rivals without scoring a goal suggests this team is well short of what is needed to make it to the knockout out phase or make progress should by some miracle they get there.
And worse still, it could be Newcastle that ram the last few nails into the coffin next week.
Oh well, there’s always next year.

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142 thoughts on “Season Over? Cardiff Again!

  1. Come on, it’s easy to look back in hindsight and say we shouldn’t have spent silly money on stars like Tuncay, but at the time we were loving it. We can’t really bash the club now, when we all know if they hadn’t made signings like that they’d have been bashed for that instead. Again, they simply can’t win.

  2. Stewart Flaherty:
    Please, stop the “get on with it” stuff.
    Disagree with me or not, thats kind of the whole point … But dont do that rhetorics thing, please. I could turn it around, but I wont.
    An incident which ocurred just a few months ago involving the whole squad and club is quite relevant, isnt it? So, lets keep on discussing it. For a broader view lets even descuss it more, the long Riverside-lines and beyond.

  3. GHw: Wait a minute. You aren’t seriously suggesting that if I get through the tunnel… and the wire… and case everything out there… and don’t get picked up… to turn myself in.. and get thrown back in the cooler for a couple of months.. so you can get the information you need?
    Squadron Leader Bartlett: Yes.
    GHw: What about Von Lamb?
    Squadron Leader Bartlett:We’ll worry about him later.
    De der.. de der.. der de..dede de de

  4. I didn’t realise that GHw had an internet connection in the understairs cupboard, but I suppose the objective was to punish by removing his freedom to move about, put on the kettle, cut another slice of cherry cake etc. Nice idea about the soundproof tape and turning the stereo up to 11 though!
    How about a compromise? If he promises not to loiter about the 100-mark all the time (maybe to do some of the donkey work in midfield every now and then and perhaps slide a nice ball through to us other youngsters toiling up front but without much service), and if he agreed to share some of that cherry cake, could we think about letting him out soon? Maybe after the Man Utd v Milan game?
    Surely he hasn’t got a TV in there, too?

  5. Chris from Beverley … Lethargy? You’ve been in the mexican sun too long! Welcome back – your fiver is waiting for you in Navi on Saturday!
    As for me .. can’t wait for next season. No Ali or Lita .. I’m getting excited! Two more ex Southgaters out of the club!
    BTW . . yes, if by some miracle we did get promoted via the Wembley route, better to be in the Prem than out of it. As for history, ye who don’t secure promotion at the first attempt,shall ye suffer further. Corinthians Chapter 1 V25.

  6. Image rights? Is that something from the old fashioned, snail mail, paper Gazette? I’ll be sick if it is, as today is the first one in a couple of weeks (apart from Sunday) I didn’t get the darned thing – what with the Telegraph collected every day and an Independent for a change, I thought there might be a news overload in prospect.
    Actually, if I remember correctly, it isn’t only overpaid Premier League players who receive the misnamed image rights. Wasn’t good old Lee Trundle one of the first in the UK to receive a substantil payment for image rights when at Swansea? Or was I dreaming?
    But realistically, for the profit on how many shirts, or photos or CD’s on which the player’s image might be seen, would have to be sold to recoup that outlay? For Tuncay alone probably more than Boro’s entire merchandise sales.
    I accept it might be different for a club like Man Utd with their world wide fan-base, but for clubs like ours any such figures would be a complete fiction. A made up figure to justify a large figure plucked out of the sky, into a player’s foreign bank account/hedge fund/pension!
    Maybe we should start a thread asking how contributors would describe the “images” of, say such luminaries of the game as Joey Barton from Newcastle or, since we wouldn’t wish to appear subject to bias, Duncan McKenzie, Frank McAvennie, Lee Hughes and a few others? On second thoughts, perhaps it’s better not to. We don’t want the Blog taken off the net.
    **AV writes: When he was convicted of his latest act of thuggery Barton had to give a submission of his income and assets to court. It revealed that he earned £675,0000 a year in image rights – that’s £13,000 a week …. even while he was in jail. That’s some brand power.

  7. Ex-star Tuncay Sanli and agent sue Boro for £900k
    Smogonthetyne – “£Sum$” up today’s game – also glad we are getting out of the circus.
    As for the PL – stuff it – until the FA wake up and kick out the likes of Sky and have all clubs battling it out at 3pm every Saturday on an equal financial footing the beautiful “game” will remain nothing more than a “business” with it’s own rules!
    Darn right HM Revenue should be getting tough!

  8. De der.. de der.. der de..dede de de
    De der.. de der.. der de..dede de de
    De der.. de der.. der de..dede de de
    De der.. de der.. der de..dede de de
    Haven’t we mentioned Nazi’s twice now?
    New Blog please. Maybe one looking at great derby games that haven’t taken place for a while like Stoke V Port Vale, The Bristols as it might be a while before we have a tees tyne and or wear derby
    **AV writes: You say that but I’ve got Sunderland pencilled in for next year. And what the hell, Newcastle too. It’s a funny old game.

  9. The Shawkyshank Redemption
    Red: [narrating] In 2010, Grove Hill wallah escaped from Shawkyshank cupboard. All they found of him was a muddy set of prison clothes, a bar of soap, and an old rock hammer, damn near worn down to the nub.
    I remember thinking it would take a man six hundred years to tunnel through the wall with it. Old GHw did it in less than twenty posts. Oh, GHw loved The Boro. I imagine it appealed to his meticulous nature. An ice age here, million years of disappointment building there.
    Supporting the Boro is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes really, pressure, and time. That, and a big goddamn poster. Like I said, in a cupboard a man will do most anything to keep his mind occupied.
    Turns out GHw’s favourite hobby was posting the 100 comment during his time on the blog, a few posts at a time. I guess after promotion was becoming unlikely, GHw decided he’d been here just about long enough. GHw did like he was told, buffed those shoes to a high mirror shine. The stewards simply didn’t notice. Neither did I… I mean, seriously, how often do you really look at a mans shoes?
    GHw crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of foulness I can’t even imagine, or maybe I just don’t want to. Five hundred yards… that’s the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile. He surfaced in Rockliffe, and that’s the last I heard.
    So far anyway….

  10. All this talk about finances within the club is a joke. We are the wealthies club outside the Prem by my calculation counting the sale of players, parachute payment, season tickets, walk up tickets, sponsorship etc.
    Since the end of last season we have taken in close to £50m. The sale of Oneil (over rated) and Wheater in the summer another £12-14m plus Parachute £11m will enhance it even more. Get a grip, its rank bad management from the top team is the reason we are where we are. NO MORE EXCUSES PLEASE

  11. Dormo, the Tuncay article only appears online in the News section of the Gazette and not the Boro FC one.
    But the concept of Image Rights is probably better seen as a sweetner since as many have pointed out it is extremely unlikely that a players outside the global branded clubs could possible achieve the extra revenue in merchandising sales.
    But awarding these massive tax-free incentives always seems to be given to so called foreign stars to induce them to come to the club.
    For example, I can’t imagine Downing was in receipt of £3m in Image Rights despite being a more consistent and effective player than Tuncay – let alone Mido who was also on strike last summer because he believed he wasn’t being paid his image rights (even though he didn’t want to play for Boro) – though it could also be argued that Tuncay was mentally on strike after his reported transfer failed to materialise last January.
    We can regard ourselves lucky that Stoke needed someone to warm their bench so that we could recoup some of the outlay – very few clubs rated Tuncay and saw him as a player who covered a lot of grass but rarely had an end product and was somewhere between a midfielder and striker.
    So whether you agree with Strachan or not, at least the type of players he is bringing in are here for the right reasons and not because we gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse.
    This former strategy has continued to fail and has only succeeded in making a few players unbelievably rich, regardless of their performances on the pitch, despite the club not having the income to afford such deals.

  12. AV… you keep having sly digs at the Mags, Joey Barton… derby next season… among others.
    As you so rightly state.. “Football is a funny old game”… how’s this for ‘funny’…
    A team in Division One hits top form and surges into the play-offs. Wins said play-offs and enters the championship for next season. The REAL derby day for the Boro ensues… HARTLEPOOL UNITED v MIDDLESBROUGH!
    … now that would be ‘funny’.. but a REAL DERBY for the Smogs!
    Getting back to the Mags… Stoke went up with 79 points in 2008, Brum with 83 last year. Mags at present stand on 72. So let’s be conservative and say 84 points will do it. Home games to come Scunny, Ipswich and Sheff U… 9 points, Forest 1 point, Blackpool 0 points. That’s 10 points at home.
    Away games include Peterborough and Plymouth both draws and 2 points
    That’s 12 points from those games and promotion!
    plus… worse case scenario Other away games… all defeats… Bristol, Donny, Reading, QPR, ok and yes… the Boro!
    Just a thought… if Boro win THIRTY THREE – NIL on Saturday our goal differences will be reversed… still leaving the Mags on +7 tho!
    .. yes, as you say… funny old game this football.
    PS.. I know you are not looking forward to the game on Saturday, I am, but with a hint of trepidation… however, let’s hope for an entertaining game with both sides looking to win it and serving up a classic, in what may be the last ‘derby’ between our two sides for quite a few years.
    **AV writes: Don’t be so touchy. The barton reference was because he is one of the few footballers who has actually been forced to reveal his image rights payments and that is what we discussed. And the derby I hadn’t ruled out for next season was Sunderland. Other than that… carry on.

  13. Werdermouth
    The whole picture about footballers pay is set in sharp contrast at Portsmouth where 85 employees have lost their jobs and many have offered to reduce hours to cut costs and others have wages deferred.
    Meanwhile one or two players have offered to take a pay cut. As one of the dismissed employees said, he gets paid a year what some players get in three days. May not be accurate but we all get the gist of the situation.
    I know footballers careers are short but so were some of those who were employed at British Steel and Leyland (as were) and lost their jobs.

  14. The Portsmouth players who have refused wage cuts are a disgrace to modern society. Especially given that the ‘cut’ is effectively temporary as the majority of them will change clubs in June.

  15. **AV writes: You say that but I’ve got Sunderland pencilled in for next year. And what the hell, Newcastle too. It’s a funny old game.
    AV… you wrote the above!… and I am getting ‘touchy’ … aren’t you with just a couple of days to go before kick-off?
    Looks like you may be in for a treat… heard on the grapevine that both Enrique and Routledge are going to be fit!! Look out for Jose Enrique… if there’s a better left back in this league, I have not seen him.
    His link up play with Spiderman has been pivotal to our success this season. He walks like John Wayne (remember him?… ‘Get off your horse and drink yur milk’) he struts about like he’s on holiday, looks like he couldn’t catch cold…. but he really is quick …. very quick!

  16. Strachan article from Glasgow paper:
    Scottish football has missed Gordon Strachan. His acerbic wit, his withering one-liners, his ability to take a team to three SPL titles in a row and the last 16 of the Champions League.
    But, 10 months after he announced – and considerably longer since he decided – he no longer wished to be manager of Celtic, does he miss Scottish football?
    Listening to him holding court in the splendour of Middlesbrough’s training complex adjacent to the magnificent Rockcliffe Hall Hotel, which Boro owner Steve Gibson has put together in a little village just outside Darlington, it does not take a degree in psychology to establish the answer is a resounding no. At 53, he is in a happy place, in every sense.
    Sure, it would be even better if Boro had beaten Cardiff last weekend to put themselves into a play-off spot instead of dropping five points off the pace.
    But the prospect of this weekend’s pseudo local derby against table-toppers Newcastle can take the edge off that particular pain.
    In the course of the past year, Strachan has been manager of a Celtic side chasing a fourth consecutive title, a full-time husband and travel companion to wife Lesley, and boss of a side expected to bounce straight back up to the Premiership, even if it was a challenge which had to be met on a something of a shoestring budget.
    So, on reflection, can he say he is content? “I’m content with the three things that I’ve had in the past year,” was the carefully considered reply as he settled into a one of two dark sofas in his large office.
    “You are proud to be the Celtic manager. It’s a great honour and a great club to work for. It’s also nice to be where I was in California, driving down the Big Sur highway with my wife, going around the West Coast of Ireland, and doing all those things.
    “This is different. It’s real hard work, but I’m all right with it.”
    The previous occasion he walked away from the game, electing to vacate the manager’s chair at Southampton, it took 15 months to get back on board the merry-go-round.
    When his guard is dropped, he will admit the latter part of that time was spent worrying the game had moved on without him. Until Celtic called.
    This downtime was always going to be shorter. “Yes, I overstretched it the last time,” he said ruefully. “I wanted to get something I really wanted to do. Then, after a while I thought, ‘I’ve turned down some really smashing jobs a lot of people would like. Are you being an arrogant sod here, Gordon?’
    “It was not that I thought I should have a top-level job, it was just that I wanted something different.”
    Celtic provided that, in spades. “It was probably one of the most exciting, stressful, intense, fulfilling, call it what you like, jobs in the world. If I got one like that again, I’d know how to deal with the stress and the pressure and the hopes of millions of fans.
    “But the jobs that looked as though they would be on the horizon this time were the second-bottom-of-the-league-type. And I’ve done that with Coventry and Southampton and didn’t feel I wanted to do it again. This is different altogether. At Middlesbrough, the expectation is that, having come down, you have to go back up.
    “But there’s always expectation wherever you go. You can’t find a job that’s well paid with no stress. The more you are paid, you tend to find the the more stress you will get.”
    If it was stress that gives him his football fix, why walk away from Celtic Park? And is the lasting frustration not that he did not do so on the back of another title win, as he could have done 12 months earlier.
    The answer is unequivocal: “No. I’d have loved to have done that. But I can look back and point the finger only at ourselves. We had a few injuries which affected the firepower, but it was just about scoring goals. In that last season I thought we’d played some of the best football in the four years I was there.
    “We went to Aalborg in the Champions League, and played as well as we played anywhere in Europe. We should never have lost that night. We went to Villarreal and faced a good side and played really well there, too.
    “We got to the League Cup Final, took on Rangers, and played them off the park. So, I thought there were some things going which were good. We just dried up on goals, especially in the last two games. If we scored one at Hibs, and we made so many chances, we win the league. That was it.”
    No conspiracy theories, agendas, accusations of referees failing to be impartial. Just an admission it should all have ended on a much happier note.
    As it was, while Rangers celebrated their first title in four years, Strachan and family headed for the haven of their holiday home in Spain while the club prepared to confirm he was not coming back.
    It was not a knee-jerk reaction, however. He was quitting, title or no title. But how far from the finishing line had he made the decision?
    “Long before the end of the season people already knew,” he revealed. “The players didn’t, which was good because I’d seen what happened at Southampton when the news came out I was leaving, though that wasn’t my fault. It was leaked by someone in the Press.”
    He had mulled over calling it a day 12 months earlier, in the dark days after Tommy Burns’ death and the clinching of the first hat-trick of titles since the days of Jock Stein.
    Regrets? “No, because I’d not have beaten Rangers in the League Cup Final, the first time in 20 years Celtic had won an Old Firm final. A lot of the football was nice, and I loved watching these good players.”
    But, signing off with that entry into the history books. Surely that would have been preferable?
    “That doesn’t matter. I’m not interested in that kind of thing,” came the stern reply.
    So, why go? What tipped the balance? “Lots of things,” he smiled. “I thought we could get better and it is hard to give it up when you feel that. But there are times when you think to yourself, right, I think people have had enough of me here now.”
    He qualified that: “I’m not talking about people within the club. Dermot Desmond was not having it, right up until the last minute. But I’d made my mind up. The people at the club are fantastic. I just thought, what am I now, 52? I need another break, I want to see other things. I thought Lesley and me needed a bit of time on our own again.
    “People think it’s strange, but it’s not. We do everything together. And, in the short time I was not in work, we packed in a lot of things we could not have done if I’d still been a manager.”
    Now the good life is being led in the north east of England, just off the M1, though Strachan does confess there are aspects of life in the Dear Green Place which he misses.
    “You miss the humour, the madness of it,” he explained. “But here I’m not so much on my front foot waiting for confrontation when I go out, that’s for sure. I can walk with my head up looking at people instead of trying to avoid eye contact.
    “Having said that, I think Glasgow would be a fantastic place to live – so long as you’re not the manager of Celtic or Rangers. That’s because every-one wants to talk to you and shout at you. You don’t mind speaking to people. But, in Glasgow, they don’t just say hello. They will come over and give their opinion on everything in life.
    “A lot of it was supportive, which was good, and I met some smashing people there. Some great characters.”
    The irony is Strachan is more appreciated now than at any time he was domiciled in the city. But, how would he like to be remembered? For once, the answer does not come right back at you.
    “I really don’t know,” he admitted, the brows furrowing. “That’s hard. Someone who took a real pride in being the Celtic manager and who had a sense of humour. That’s about it really.”
    And who delivered six trophies? “Yes, but in life forget what you’ve won and what you’ve done. You have to be judged at the end of the day by how you are as a person, how you deal with people round about you.
    “I’ve said to players, when you finish playing, there will be nothing better in life than sitting down with your team-mates and them saying, I played with him, what a good lad he was.
    “That’s better than winning nine or 10 medals. To be judged as a person is much better – because there are some real backsides who won medals and who are idolised.
    “It’s only a small part of your life being a football player. But you are judged as a person, and that can only really be done by people who know you.”
    I understand why Paul said no going back
    Gordon Strachan knows all about the madness and mayhem which can surround you while you try to live your life as manager of Celtic in the goldfish bowl of Glasgow.
    Paul Lambert has gone on record as saying that, if a vacancy ever occurred and he got the call, he would not subject his family to it.
    Having learned to handle all that comes with the position during his four years in the hot seat, Strachan is well placed to evaluate the rewards – and the costs.
    He said: “I can understand what Paul means. But I’ve said to lots of people I meet, guys like Alan Curbishley, Steve Bruce, Mick McCarthy, that if you ever get the chance to take this job, you have got to do it.
    “Where else are you going to get the opportunity to stand at the Nou Camp and the San Siro, wondering how you are going to stop Messi or Kaka from playing?
    “Or where else will you get that feeling when you are winning an Old Firm cup final or leading a team to another title?
    “In Paul’s case, what I agree with is that his reputation is such he does not want to damage it and not be able to live with the memories of what he achieved.
    “If you go back to a club, as Mark McGhee has done at Aberdeen, all the great memories can get soured by a couple of bad results and a few morons screaming and shouting at you.
    “That can take away all the happiness you had. It can chew you up and leave you asking, ‘What have I done to deserve this? I’m one of the guys who has helped you to have history of which you are proud.’
    “I was all right, I didn’t have a history at Celtic as a player.
    “But if I had to go back to Leeds, or Aberdeen, then that might wipe away a lot of the great memories you hold.”
    Of course, in the case of McGhee, it is more than memories that have had to be wiped away. When the Dons lost at home in the cup to Raith Rovers, one spectator spat at the manager as he walked to the dressing room.
    It brought back bitter memories for Strachan who revealed: “There’s an unfortunate similarity between Coventry and Aberdeen in that you have a long walk from the technical area to the tunnel at the end of the pitch.
    “I had an incident at Coventry when a supporter came onto the track and threw his shirt down at my feet.
    “But, do you know, when I took Celtic to Coventry for Richard Shaw’s testimonial a few years ago, that same guy approached me again. He said, ‘You won’t remember me, but I’m the ‘backside’ who threw the strip at you. I can’t apologise enough.
    “That was good enough for me because, when we, as supporters, see what we think is our club going down the tubes, we get nervous.
    “And, when we get nervous, we do silly things.
    “Mark has had to do that walk at Pittodrie. And I know what it can be like.
    “When I went back there with Celtic, the abuse I got took me aback.
    “I thought, ‘Where’s this coming from? I was someone who played for seven years at the club, my family grew up here, I worked so hard with my team-mates to give you a bit of history. But, when I come back I’m this and I’m that. Honestly, it’s just a job.’
    “So I can see why Paul would not want to go back because his relationship with the Celtic support is so good he wants to preserve that as a memory.
    “If every Celtic fan said, ‘Right Paul, come back and we will never ever give you abuse and we’ll never write into the papers or call phone-ins about you,’ then he could come back.
    “But that will never happen.”
    **AV writes: Good stuff.

  17. Talking of money the cub has/hasnt got ,I would sell Wheater and O’Neil for £11,12/14m whatever we get,and use £10/11m of that to sign these players I believe would make us a stronger team,
    Davis Glasgow Rangers 3.5m
    Kilgallon Sunderland 2.5m
    Adam Blackpool 1.5m
    Gosling Everton 1.5m
    Mcmanus Celtic 1.5 m
    Killen free
    We get Creativity in midfield,Strengh and speed at the back,a scoring winger

  18. brian hewitson – Yeah it is a funny old game, I’ve never seen a geordie lift a cup! (apart from in the colours of another team). However I have seen them throw away a twelve point lead in the past and that was hilarious!!

  19. One major boost for Boro is the return of Australian international Rhys Williams – who been resting a pelvic problem in recent weeks.
    “It’s huge because we’ve only got four recognized midfield players,” said Strachan.
    Yes, only four. Why don’t we get a loan player from PL?
    Anyway our luck with injuries is horrible. Absolutely. I think GS2 has said all alone he likes to field the same players week in week out but there has been no chance with all these injuries so far. Horrible.
    Up the Boro!

  20. Stewart Flaherty:
    No problem:
    “1. Southgate said he had no money yet signed Dong-Gook, Mido, Emnes, Alves, and Digard for £20-30 mill. Stoke spent £5 mill on James”
    Well, if you remove Alves from this there isnt much left, is it? Of course he did mistakes in the transfer market, no one i disputing that. As Ferguson did in the late eighties with Man U. We all know Alves partly was a result of pressure from way over Southgates head.
    Emnes need time and I still believe he can be quite good. But as hes not getting the minutes, its hard to discuss. Dong-Gook was a joke. I believe Strachan did a major mistake in offloading Digard, he is a talent beyond most of our own players.
    “2. You talk of attractive, enterprising and attacking football. Who is better at that, Adam Johnson or Julio Arca?
    Oh yeah, Ive been frustrated with Arca lots of times myself, and never more than after Strachan decided hes top notch… Do you seriously suggest Gareth should have dropped Downing for Johnson last year or the year before???
    “3. We played West Brom and lost 0-5 at home. The captain was interviewed and stated at 0-2 it felt like “one of those days”. If that mentality and weakness had set in the manager takes responsibility.”
    Yeah, and? Since you attack my “love” for Southgate lets agree to basic facts: we were one point from the top when he was sacked, right? or do you actually deny this.
    Losing games along the way is something happeing even to Barca or United. Singling out a single game, whats the point?
    “4. How many late winning, or equalising goals did we concede late? Either mental weakness or lack of fitness, some of Southgate’s defeatist post match interviews where he repeated the same thing, much like you do, suggests the latter.”
    No disagreement here. Lots of questionable things about Southgates management, but how many fresh managers kick off with perfect decision making in the first three years? Show me someone, please.

  21. AV – Can you help me out. I notice Portsmouth haven’t been docked their 9 points yet. I thought it had been confirmed that they had gone into administration, and that the PL rules were clear. Or are the PL trying to bend the rules?
    I have nothing against Portsmouth, and feel for their fans. But like most football fans, I am very concerned about those that run the Premier League. Do I smell a rat?
    **AV writes: The points deduction was suspended pending the Revenue’s legal challenge to the club being put into administration. The Revenue have now accepted their case for administration after a new package was put forward today (including the 85 redundancies) so the PL management committee will now meet to comfirm the deduction, probably tomorrow.

  22. And the weekend is just around the corner. I’m not really sure I want it to arrive at all.
    One thing is for certain – the game against Newcastle is a lot less important than our recent games against the likes of Cardiff City, Nottingham Forest and Swansea City were, and we lost those games. We WERE in direct competition with the other three (hoping to get into a play-off place) but we havn’t been in competition with Newcastle for ages.
    Let’s be serious! Newcastle on 72 points and top of the table are almost out of our sight (as we languish on 47 points – a massive 25 points behind). They are almost in another league to us, and probably will literally be in that other league in a few weeks’ time.
    So three points against Newcastle, unlikely as it now seems, would be little more than a temporary diversion – it wouldn’t derail their likely outcome any more than it would get us into a play off place.

  23. AV – didn’t he apologise, and therefore earn his freedom (or is he lurking there, ready to pounce on 150?).
    And on that subject, bearing in mind our relative positions, it is a surprise that Geordia Lurker hasn’t poked his head above the parapet recently.
    *AV writes: Yes, and the Paul Bells 😉

  24. interesting article
    “GORDON STRACHAN admits failure to secure promotion could result in some of his best players leaving this summer, but reassured supporters that star striker Scott McDonald will be at Middlesbrough next season.
    Victory over Championship leaders Newcastle United on Saturday would re-ignite Boro’s stuttering bid for a play-off spot and Strachan remains convinced his side are still capable of securing a return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
    But the manager acknowledges that the prospect of a second season in the Championship could see some of Boro’s most prized assets fall prey to top flight clubs.
    David Wheater and Gary O’Neil are among the players Strachan would struggle to hang on to should their promotion bid fail.
    With Emanuel Pogatetz, Jeremie Aliadiere and Chris Riggott among those out of contract at the end of the season the club are set for another summer of upheaval.
    But news that former Celtic forward McDonald will remain at Middlesbrough next season is a massive boost ahead of the Tees-Tyne encounter that could prove crucial to their fate this season.
    “If we don’t go up this summer then we could lose some players,” admitted the manager. “I am aware of that but it’s part of football. You get on and try to replace them or manage without them.
    “We didn’t want to lose Adam (Johnson) in January but you understand for all parties that it was probably time to move on. That might also be the case this summer, whichever division we’re in.
    “All of us want Middlesbrough to be playing in the Premier League next season.
    There is a chance that if we don’t go up there will be players who’ll attract interest from Premier League clubs. It’s a fact of life.
    “One of the things that convinced Scott to come here was the chance to play in the Premier League. But am I concerned he could leave if we’re not promoted? No, I trust him. I trust all of the boys I brought down from Celtic.
    “I trust him to do his job and honour the contract. Saying that, it’s a four-year-deal and someone may offer £20m for him and he’d be out of the door in a flash!
    “Is any player totally committed to their club? There are no cast-iron guarantees but I’m confident Scott will still be here next season. I think I know Scott quite well and when he puts his mind to something you cannot change it.”
    Strachan will put the £3.5m marksman through his paces on the training ground before selecting his starting XI to face the Magpies but he’ll resist the temptation to unleash McDonald on the Newcastle back-four if he has any doubts about the player’s fitness.
    Strachan said: “He told me he wasn’t totally right when he first joined us but he wanted to play. I knew how important just having his presence on the field would be so he played.
    “He’s a hard taskmaster with his team-mates and even if he’s not at his best I knew that he’d be demanding the players around him were on top of their game. He is no shrinking violet believe me.
    “He got away with it the first couple of games but then it started getting a bit worse. That’s life. Sometimes you try something with the best intentions and it ends up turning out bad.
    “People talk about players being fully-fit but when I played I can’t remember being fully-fit after I was 26. You deal with wee knocks and bruises. I even had what Scott’s got. I had three hernia operations and managed to play afterwards.
    “In my day you needed around six weeks before you recovered from a hernia op whereas nowadays doctors are claiming you’ll be okay two weeks later. Sometimes it’s best to take the medical guys propaganda with a pinch of salt.
    “It’s like when they sell you anti-wrinkle cream to make you 30 years younger, we all know it’s bumpf but we fall for it. It’s the same sometimes with operations. The first one I had kept me out for six weeks but I came back right, Scott has rushed back after two and we’ve paid the price.”

  25. Talking of being locked in the cupboard AV. I can assure you that Shogun Teatime has been put back in there and will never be allowed out, not even under the most extreme provocation.
    I could do with some help though. If the worst does happen on Saturday, what is my best line of defence on Monday morning? Feign apathy?
    Or if his merciful lord blesses us with three points, how shall I behave?
    **AV writes: I find a combination of adult decorum, self deprecating humour and a thin veneer of world weary cynicism works well.

  26. Gutted….
    will the Championship winner’s cup in April count? You know, that cup the ‘stable’ Boro would lift this year with committed owner and manager, Huth, Tucay, Johnson, Alves (will score goals for fun in Championship). Jawdees in disarray, nutter for an owner, no manager, top players leaving and, according to many smogs, destined for Division 1.
    Football really is funny….
    ‘Joke’ club Jawdees now stable, more committed owner, great manager, committed players, big crowds… winners. Smogs now in disarray, less committed owner, manager changed mis-season when 1 point off the leaders, huge turnover in players, low crowds … loosers.
    ‘Joke Club?’ …. if the cap fits ….
    **AV writes: Where would we be without football’s fickle pendulum?

  27. Anlov
    The biggest problem for Gate was in the 2008 window when the whole of central midfield left plus Swarzer.
    Bringing in Digard and Emnes for the future was not the issue but the fact it was instead of recruting for the there and then. That took out the engine room of the team, the element that controlled the football. I am not saying we should have kept Boat, Rocky and Cats but done some replacing.
    From then on we were either attacking or holding on for grim death. If you look back at the games, like Liverpool away, it seems like we were robbed but in reality we were under the cosh for long periods with twice as much possession and shots for the opposition. We were running out of steam in matches, something had to give and we started drifting before Xmas.
    As the window approached, instead of looking to bolster central midfield we were told by Gate he was doing a Blondie by hanging on a telephone waiting for bids for Downing, O’Neill, Wheats, Tuncay etc.
    The message was sent out there was no money and we were downsizing. Gate sounded and looked more and more like Eeyore. Teams knew they just had to ride out the Boro storm to nick the points, as the season drew to a close it became easier for the opposition as belief dissipated.
    The summer came and went without strengthening central midfield but now we could pass the poor teams to death. The more organised teams with a bit of skill turned us over.
    I wont even dwell on the keeper situation or Young being replaced by Hoyte.
    Gate’s departure was inevitable.
    Will Strachan turn it round? We will have to wait and see.
    Can we now put the Gate issue to bed? He was a great servant to the club and we are in danger of it dragging on forever.

  28. I’ve noticed lately (the last month) that the Northern Echo seem to be getting some interesting inside “scoops” with the manager et al, as opposed to the weekly roll out of a player whose turn it seems to be that your paper gets. Have you and yours fallen out with somebody? Has someone said something out of turn? Have you been a naughty boy?
    **AV writes: Scoops? Print schedules mean that after the weekend’s match and after the routine Weds/Thursday pre-match press conference that the Echo can publish before us but if everyone has the same quotes is it really a scoop?
    This week there has only been one Boro scoop – that is, a fresh hard news line that nobody else has – and that was the Tuncay High Court writ over unpaid cash story. It was exclsuive in the Gazette.

  29. I submitted my last post prior to braveheart1 posting his “interesting article” which is from none other than the Northern Echo. Interest is purely a personal thing I know but the daily articles that come out from EG are really tedious at times. I’m not including the subject matter in this blog by the way, he says, slightly grovelling…
    **AV writes: Not being picky, but didn’t we have the same quotes on Tuesday? Which kind of illustrates the point. Generally everyone has pretty much the same quotes because press conferences are limited and formuleaic. But because the Echo/Journal/Times don’t have to have a Boro story every day they can put them all together in one big piece on a slack day (when they aren’t leading with a Newcastle story). We tend to break them down into several bits over the week.
    We, the Gazette, also get a private one-to-one with Strachan where we try to get a couple of news lines to break into bits and the odd ‘exclusive’ that add something to packets of quotes that everyone else has. Occasionally one of the nationals will arrange a one-to-one with the boss to do a feature where something nice (the John Wayne or X-Factor things for instance) will come out but it is only very, very rarely that anyone has quotes or news that we don’t have.

  30. Brian Hewitson – agree. I think most Boro fans and Newcastle fans were thinking that at the start of the season and it has been mirrored more and more as the season roles on.
    The problem with the Boro is that we were led to believe that we would be keeping most of the ‘bigger’ players and adding to them (bar the loss of Downing) to make us a ‘stronger squad than last season’.
    All of that talk from the club was just not true and the squad is as bad now as it was in August, or even the August the season before. We all accept the financial situation to a certain point but where will it end.
    I am not bothered about the game tomorrow, the season finished last weekend.

  31. We seem to have a couple of barcodes on this blog which is good to see for the banter. Much more light hearted than some of the dull geordie blogs I glanced at from newsnow, think they must be the usual demented souls that believe Kevin Keegan is a god.
    Anyway, carry on…

  32. Stewart Flaherty and Ian Gill:
    Lots of good points. I think we all agree that its a bad idea to hire unproven managers. But that being said I grew to admire Southgates philosophy and approach, obviously a bit (lot) more than the average fan.
    To be hounest I didnt enjoy McLarens time much, because of the style of play. I supported, cried, screamed and celebrated, of course. But there was something missing from the days of Robson. The magic, or to be precise: the WILL to magic.
    Robsons team had bad days, not to say years.. Southgate had his 08/09, which was unimpressing. But regarding what Gill mention about losing almost every key element in the squad, that was surely not Souhtgates choice.
    The likes of Boateng, Schwarzer, Viduka, Yakubu (on and on), couldnt stay, because of high salaries. We all know that. But then again, selling Cats was a different story.
    I do agree to the Southgate-critics calling him soft. Cause, when you have disciplinary problems as a young player like Cats, a manager with proper balls should do whatever it takes to set him straight BEFORE taking the easy way out.
    In my eyes selling Cats and not replacing Schwarzer with experience was Southgates biggest mistake (in desicions which he had a say). Im not sure that Southgate was the main drive behind the transfer of Alves, though i remember us fans going bersek with optimism, myself included.
    Regarding the 0-5 loss to WBrom. If Strachans 0-3 to Blackpool or 0-1 to Cardiff is any better, I dont know. But the amount of goals in one single match doesnt seem too relevant.
    One point from the top still remains as a fact. If you like or dislike Southgate as a manager. My main argument is that Southgate did a really good job this season, and the one-point-from-the-top thing proves it.
    The fact that so many fans argues that the squad he had was very, very weak, his table position is even more impressing.
    Try and compare Strachans stats with Southgate, and youll get my point.

  33. Brian Hewitson:
    Fair play the bar codes are doing well this season. Boro less so.
    I am sure you will be singing the praises of your owner to all your own fans. Happy to stand up and be counted that Big Mike is a top bloke who you would happily go drinking with and been seen in public with. Especially at kick out (in) time.
    The £30m he has been required to invest in order to keep the club afloat this season, must surely impress you and the fans greatly. I am sure we will see banners of “Cheers for the £30m Mike. You are the best thing that has happened to our club since Bobby Robson”
    In this modern age of huge football invest when, in warmer economic times, he could not sell the club at a loss let alone a profit. His shrewd decision to buy the club without checking the accounts possibly hindered his ability to sell but not to buy bubbly on the evening of King Kev’s sacking. Now with a further £30m of personal debt I am sure his departure from the club is all the more closer with the hugely appreciative crowd that colourfully sing his name.
    With your books looking more and more stable by the week I am sure that the giddy days of Kevin Keegan could well be back soon – depending on the small print from the contracts he signed after he sued you last time round. The cash he took out of the club probably wasn’t needed to help you stay up in the first place. He is a hero in all our eyes.
    I am looking forward to the weekend. It should be a great game.

  34. As you are stuck on 153 since 10.40am I suspect a new thread is on the way. Will we be also be getting a pre toon video preview?
    And are we sure Mosso is up to speed and had no reaction follwing Cardiff?
    **AV writes: I’ll dig out some footage.

  35. The Munchkinurian Candidate…
    Gazette Towers basement…
    Mrs Lamb: It has been decided that you will be dressed as a Steward, to help you get away in the pandemonium afterwards. Coops will give you a two-piece Soviet Army sniper’s rifle that fits nicely into a special bag.
    There’s a spotlight booth that won’t be in use. It’s up under the roof on the West Stand Upper. You will have absolutely clear, protected shooting. You are to shoot Strachan through the head. And Steve Agnew will rise gallantly to his feet and lift his body in his arms, stand in front of the microphones and begin to speak.
    The speech is short. But it’s the most rousing speech I’ve ever read. It’s been worked on, here and in Rockliffe, on and off, for over eight years. I shall force someone to take the body away from him and Steve will really hit those microphones and those cameras with blood all over him, fighting off anyone who tries to help him, defending The Boro even if it means his own death, rallying a nation of television viewers to hysteria, to sweep us up into the Managers office with powers that will make martial law seem like anarchy!
    Now, this is very important. I want him to be dead two minutes after he begins his pre match speech – depending on his reading time under pressure. You are to hit him right at the point that he finishes the phrase, “Nor would I ask of any fellow Celts in defence of his freedom that which I would not gladly give myself – my life before my liberty.” Is that absolutely clear?
    Mrs Lamb: I know you will never entirely comprehend this, Gareth, but you must believe I did not know it would be you. I served them. I fought for them. I was on the point of winning for them the greatest football victory they would ever have in this club. And they paid me back by taking your soul away from you.
    I told them to build me an assassin. I wanted a killer from a world filled with killers and they chose you because they thought it would bind me closer to them.
    [Puts her hands on Gareth’s face]
    Mrs Lamb: But now, we have come almost to the end. One last step. And then when I take power, they will be pulled down and ground into dirt for what they did to you. And what they did in so contemptuously underestimating me.
    [Kisses Gareth on the forehead, then his cheek.]
    Gareth: [taken slightly aback] You’re joking, of course?
    Mrs Lamb: Mr. Gibson makes jokes, I do not.
    AV: You’re seriously trying for the manager’s job, for Gareth?
    Mrs Lamb: No, we couldn’t make it. But he has a good chance for the second spot. Now, I’ve answered your question, but you haven’t answered mine. Will you block us?
    AV: Would I block you? I would spend every penny I own, and all I could borrow, to block you. There are people who think of Gordon as a clown and a buffoon, but I do not. I do not despise Keith Lamb and everything that Lambism has come to stand for. I think, if Keith Lamb were a paid Geordie agent, he could not do more to harm this club than he’s doing now. But to assassinate Gordon in front of 28,000 (16,340) witnesses is just madness.
    Mrs Lamb: Think carefully AV, there is a reason The Northern Echo is getting all the top stories….
    [Mrs. Lamb leaves without a word, the discussion clearly over, for the present]

  36. “FT Maxwell
    Having not done so for 5 years, maybe Wenger should win some trophies before he starts comparing them.”
    better 5 years than never as in your clubs case. hur hur!
    2-1
    FTM

  37. Hi Smoggy, just trying to stoke up a tad of passion and a bit of banter prior to the game tomorrow, but believe me I would rather we were battling it out for top spot and both on the threshold of promotion.
    Boro Doug & redcartim… I couldn’t give a naf who owns the club, who the manager is, or KK for that matter. All I want is to see entertaining and, hopefully, winning football… that’s what we all want isn’t it? Just so happens it’s our ‘time’ at the mo… but as we all well know, Boro’s time will come around again… sooner, rather than later, we hope.
    …. but NOT tomorrow – eh?
    PS.. it will take me 10 minutes to get to the Riverside tomorrow.. 40 mins for a home game! Used to support the Boro… Eric McMordie, Stuart Boam, Alan Peacock and all… in fact I still have a signed Jim Platt jersey!

  38. 24
    (Plus whatever time the referee decides to add on)
    Jack “Gibbo” Bauer: I know you think you’re doing the right thing,
    [raising his voice]
    Jack “Gibbo” Bauer: but this is not going to happen.
    Gareth: Somebody has to do it!
    Jack “Gibbo” Bauer: Someone will, not you!
    Gareth: [raising his voice] I’m the best match!
    Jack “Gibbo” Bauer: [raising his voice even more] You’re not a Manager!
    Gareth: I have a EUFA Pro licence. This is easy work. Strachan’s’ people won’t even come close to me.
    Jack “Gibbo” Bauer: [shouting] Gareth, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Even If everything was to go right in this scenario. Which is not a chance, I’m willing to take!
    Gareth: [shouting] You’re not taking it! I am!
    Jack “Gibbo” Bauer: [grabs Gareth and puts him up against the wall] The reason why you got this job, [shouting] the reason why I GAVE you this job is so that I could make sure you’d be safe!
    Gareth: [voice breaking] I took this job because I wanted it, not because you wanted me here. I know that this is hard for you, but this is not your decision. This is my job; better yet, my duty. I’m gonna be safe.
    [crying): Jack “Gibbo” Bauer: Gareth I want you to live your life. I want you to be happy. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I want you to try and grow up to be the kind of person that would’ve made your mam proud. Okay?
    Gareth: [sobbing] Oh, God.
    Jack “Gibbo” Bauer: Promise me that.
    Gareth: I promise.
    Jack “Gibbo” Bauer: Gareth, I’ve got to start focusing on what I’m doing up here, I’m running out of time, okay? So -I’m gonna have to say good-bye. I love you more than anything in the world and I’ll always be with you, okay? Remember that.
    Gareth: Oh. I’m proud of you, and I love you.
    Jack “Gibbo” Bauer: I love you too sweetheart… Bye.

  39. Riverside Dawn
    Lieutenant John Chard: The Boro doesn’t like more than one disaster in a day.
    Bromhead: Looks bad in the newspapers and upsets civilians at their breakfast.
    Colour Sergeant Bourne: A prayer’s as good as bayonet on a day like this.
    Lieutenant John Chard: I came here to build a Temenos.
    Pte. Thomas Cole: Why is it us? Why us?
    Colour Sergeant Bourne: Because we’re here, lad. Nobody else. Just us.
    Reverend Otto Witt: One thousand Boro soldiers have been massacred. While I stood here talking peace, a war has started.
    Pte. Henry Hook: Riversides Drift… It’d take a Scotsman to give his name to a rotten stinking middle o’ nowhere hole like this.
    Lieutenant John Chard: What’s our strength?
    Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead: Seven players including 1midfielder, 5 Left Backs and 2 Strikers ; wounded and sick 36, fit for duty 4 and about 3 Tea Ladies. Not much of an army for you.
    Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead: Damn the Tea Ladies… Cowardly Physios!
    Adendorff: What the hell do you mean “cowardly physios?” They tried on your side, didn’t they? And who the hell do you think is coming to wipe out your little command? Doncaster Rovers?
    Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead: Sixty! We dropped at least 60, wouldn’t you say?
    Adendorff: That leaves only 3,940.
    Colour Sergeant Bourne: It’s a miracle.
    Lieutenant John Chard: If it’s a miracle, Colour Sergeant, it’s a short Lita in the box miracle.
    Colour Sergeant Bourne: And a bayonet, sir, with some guts behind.
    Lieutenant John Chard: Mr. Bourne, there should be 12 more men working on this redoubt.
    Color Sgt. Bourne: They’re very tired, sir.
    [Chard whirls around]
    Lieutenant John Chard: I don’t give a damn! And I want this wall nine feet high, firing steps on the inside. Form details to clear away the Geordie bodies, rebuild the south stand, keep ’em moving! Do you understand?
    Color Sgt. Bourne: Yes sir… very good, sir.
    Surgeon Maj. Reynolds: You know this boy?
    Orderly: Name is Emnes, sir. He’s a work in progress.
    Surgeon Maj. Reynolds: Well, he’s a dead work in progress now.
    Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead: Now there’s a bitter pill. Our own damned supporters!
    Surgeon Maj. Reynolds: Orderly, Damn it! Will you keep the posts away. Fan it!
    Damn you, Chard! Damn all you journos!
    Private Henry Hook: [after being ordered to help prepare for the Geordie attack] What for? Did I ever see a Geordie walk down Linthorpe road? No! So what am I doing here?
    Bromhead: If 11 men couldn’t hold a defensive position this morning, what chance have we with 8?
    [Bourne calls the roll after the battle]
    Colour Sergeant Bourne: Wheats… Wheats, I saw you. You’re alive.
    Pte. Dave Wheater: I am? Oh, thanks very much.
    Boro 3 Newcastle 0

  40. GHw at 6.48pm yesterday (particularly) and also 9.07pm: this is getting surreal for a football blog!
    When you ate those mushrooms in the dark understairs cupboard, before your release by AV, were you able to take a look at them? If you can tell me the colours and their markings, I could look them up in a book I’ve got…..

  41. Well it is billed as Untypical.
    Mind you, without the editorial excellence of AV, it wouldn’t be printable. Nor many other posters I suspect.

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