Scunthorpe: A Lifetime Ago

LAST TIME we went to Scunthorpe was a lifetime ago. It was the second week of the season, it was shirt sleeve order and we were bubbling with August optimism. The Berlin Wall and Redcar Rock looked impregnable, Jinky was sprinkling magic in his trail and Tuncay was warming up ready for his devasting cameos. Emnes and Aliadiere were ripping defences apart with their pace before falling over and the consensus was that if we could keep the quality in the squad together then we were a shoo-in for promotion and we could swagger through these little grounds in a patronising and arrogant Premier League Billy Big Balls on tour season of partying. Oh dear.

Now just over a year later we are emotionally battered and bruised, in the basement battle and coming to terms with the fact that our squad is seriously unbalanced and woefully lacking in key areas, there are few stars or saleable assets, the club is borassic and we have come bedraggled through a traumatic year that has seen two managers bombed out and ambitions, morale and crowd collapse.
But we are all still here, digging in for the long haul. This time we go to Scunny with no illusions, expecting a battle, probably as slight underdogs with the bookies (the last away win was Plymouth at Easter after all) and hoping to get something – anything – that will keep us talking about positives under Mogga.
Here’s what we said after last year’s trip to Scunthorpe . Let’s hope after tonight we are still optimistic, even if it is from a far lower base.
MEANWHILE, here are Tony Mowbray’s comments from yesterday’s presser on the headache that is less than industrious goal-getter Kris Boyd.

“Kris needs support and I will give him as much as he need. I can’t, though, stick the ball in the net for him. If chances drop he has to do that.
“He has to work hard, he is part of a team and while he is at Middlesbrough he has to show the supporters, his team-mates, the manager, that he has to work hard for this team.
“At Rangers it probably wasn’t always the case because they would have so much of the ball that he could stand around the penalty box and smash it in when it came in to the penalty box. He is very talented at doing that.
“Until we get to the point where teams are afraid of us in this league, and teams are dropping off us, then he has to be part of a team and work hard.”

Very rarely does a manager say something that is so concise, balanced, nuanced, perceptive and constructive and that is 100% bang on the money. It gives a message to the fans (‘get behind him’), it gives a message to the player (‘start producing’) and it gives a message to the squad (‘the team is paramount’).
If you deconstruct that statement it is clear that there is something in there for everyone. Wherever you stand on Boyd – I still think he will be Boro’s top scorer this term and once Mogga tweaks the team and his head he can still justify the hype – there is an element in there you will be nodding your head at. Even those that want to ‘get rid’ will note the subliminal eqivocation in the phrase “while he is at Middlesbrough.”
Mogga is quickly proving to be a brilliant instinctive political operator, understated but clear and determined and using plain language that is inclusive and populist and draws people towards unity around the things they can agree on: the team, the need for results, we are all in this together, you have a role to play.


20 thoughts on “Scunthorpe: A Lifetime Ago

  1. Well, I’m back in full-on foam hand-sniffing, Tony McMahon-style ‘play-offs are in sight’ optimism mode (doesn’t take much), so I’m expecting a free-flowing victory tonight.
    I’d bring Bailey in for Mick and leave the rest unchanged. Maybe Lita in as well, but I think I’d start with Boyd and if it’s not working, make the same change again. Save Tarmo for the last 25, regardless of the score. I’m sure he’d be equally effective coming on if we are in front. No need to rush GON straight back in.
    Oh, and I had to google borassic. Very good.

  2. Had a chance to watch the Palace game for a second time and I think it usually gives you a slightly different perspective when you do.
    What was evident, we did push forward and the ball retention was much better,and although Arca and Bailey are not everyones cup of tea, they dont hide and are always wanting the ball.
    On the negative, we did leave alot of gaps when we lost the ball,and better more organised teams would hammer us. Bennett was positive but I wouldnt play him in away games when the opposition do more of the attacking.
    Overall,we have to play more compact,especially away. If we do, as Ive mentioned in the past, we have a decent bench, which could be vital late in games.
    At the end of the day its wins that matter no matter how.
    **AV writes: I think you are right. Mogga said after the Palace game he had taken a risk pushing the full backs up so high and wide and twice on the break they almost punished us. Better teams would have.
    It was an indication that the team could play in that way if the circumstances were right but not an indication that we would do it in every game.

  3. The fullbacks can be a little move cautious away from home but I would rather have McMahon and Bennett than any square peg. Even away from home it is the pace down the flanks that compensate for lack of pace elsewhere.
    Bearing in mind the problems we have had with non left backs at left back and the goals leaked in that area as people vacate to go to centre half or midfield playing Bennett would be an inprovement.

  4. Mogamania will rule, I have heard more common sense coming out of Mogga than Strachs and Gareth. He is simply the finished article, served his time and serving the team he genuinly loves. Lets back him to the hilt

  5. McMahon will never play against a left back again that will stand so far off him,that said,I’ve got foam hand-itous and are going to scunnie tonight.

  6. As Middlesbrough lose Stephen McManus to ankle injury what is the situation of Kilgallon’s injury? He should be on the bench as he is on a season long loan to Boro.
    AV, please give a call to him or Boro’s medical staff. Up the Boro!

  7. Mogga’s looking good, he’s articulate and intelligent and tuned in, lets hope he’s the right man in the right place at the right time.
    I’ll be in the Bosko Jankovic stand tonight, could be a struggle to sip a glass of Leffe wearing the foam hands but I’ll give it a bash!

  8. Now after all the distruction from SOUTHGATE and STRACHEN – 2 managers that did not have a clue how to look after and improve a carefuly built team – , we have a A MANAGER, A LEADER, A BORO BOY. Now once again I find joy following the team I love.
    To all the good folk back home I say your support is vital get behind Mogga and chear boro back to the promiced land. Nice to see Pearsy back good good move

  9. Nice article AV. Too early to tell – but like a good leader he has surrounded himself with people who he trusts and I certainly wouldn’t be put off by an ex-academy back line.
    Good luck to him and the Burra,and BoroPhil you’re a lucky one if you’ve never been borassic in your life !!! (and may you never be ).

  10. Something not about us…..
    I work with a Stoke fan who has been moaning about decisions going against him. I have just watched a clip on Sky and it has been truly shocking.
    Reminds me of when ITV had a Monday night programme and after about six weeks showed the five worst decisions in terms of consistency in the season thus far. McCoist showed incidents from five pairs of games and the totally different refereeing decisions.
    No surprise to us that we featured in three of them, even less surprise that we were on the wrong end of them.
    My mate has my sympathies.

  11. Get ready for incoming…..
    A happy article for AV, and LOADS of ecstatic posts from Boro fans. So much seems to have changed in such a short time. Thank God.

  12. Nice analysis of our intelligent manager’s political nous; he also shows football nous a-plenty too, it seems, to judge by tonight’s performance.
    The players were sharper, more inventive, moved the ball forward more, wide more and into space more; they closed the opposition down the way others have been closing us down; and they were talking to each other throughout, Bates to Bennett, Wheats to Tony Mac, Arca and Thomson forcibly organising the midfield – and that is not to mention the captain! He played his best game for a long while.
    Our goalkeeper was great again. Boyd and MacDonald earned their corn; Hoyte was a reasonable winger even! The degree of improvement in team mobility, incisiveness and cohesion is truly amazing for the amount of time Mogga has been in charge. And how the 1000+ supporters rejoiced.
    If we can have the first half from tonight’s performance and the second half from last Saturday’s, we can beat Swansea!) It’s time to believe again, folks!

  13. Great result, another win and a clean sheet. Well done to the team and well done Tony, a very encouraging start.
    On Boyd, I’ve been a bit surprised by how quickly people seem to have turned against him. I think that’s 5 in 13 or so games. That’s a goal every 2 or 3 games, in a team performing well below par. It’s a long time since we’ve had a striker that has held that kind of record.

  14. Ahh, for the sweet taste of the necktar of success after the stomach churning fast that was the Boro. Now we see the metal that we were once reknown for.
    Remember Souness in his hayday biting and chomping at the legs of the oppositions midfield, the absolute determination not to give an inch (aka J. Charlton). How many yellow cards for the Boro last night? I like to see the yellow beside the name because it means committment.
    Mowbray carries it with him where ever he goes that much we know. Thank heavens he is able to transfer that to his team, to our team. It means belief, it means effort, it means success. Bring it on!!!!!

  15. No need to repeat what Pete from Halifax said above. Just fantastic. I think a draw from Swansea is now possible but a defeat won’t be the end of the road either.
    Positive. Up the Boro!

  16. Last night followed a similar pattern to last season with the same result. Even the stats were almost the same.
    A good performance first half followed by a disciplined one in the second half.
    Keeper had to make some good saves but that is what he is paid for, withstood some pressure but shots mostly from distance and off target.
    Relatively settled line up, formation that uses players to their best advantage, pegs in the correct holes, common sense really. That way we will find out how good the players brought in really are and get the best from all the squad.
    Tougher test coming up on sunday away to the Swans.
    Master stroke by Strachan sending out our secret weapon on loan to Swansea, getting him settled into their team as a focal point then us pulling him back just before we play them. You couldnt make it it up could you? Oh yes you can!

  17. Wow. Is that our best away performance for almost a year (QPR)? Can we stop knocking Boyd and McDonald now and get behind them? If we are going to do anything this season they are going to have to score a lot of goals.
    You just get the feeling Boyd will score a lot – he doesn’t seem to be anywhere near top form yet keeps picking up goals. A very good habit, and one we haven’t seen in a striker for ages.

  18. BoroPhil
    Interesting that we have attacked the byeline in the last two matches and three of our goals have come from that route as well as a host of chances.
    What we may well find is that Kink and Lita are best suited coming off the bench after 60mins or so to run at tiring defences and keep them honest.
    But we must remember that all we have done is beat two teams we should be beating if we want to make an impact in the division. We are still in the relegation battle.
    When we have had a run like the team by the Trent and Blackpool enjoyed last season then we can start feeling excited.
    Relieved and pleased are the emotions at the moment tinged with a tad of optimism. Enjoy it while we can.

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