Building Blocks For Survival

BORO battered Bristol City to put down another couple of crucial building blocks in the battle for survival.
The emphatic 4-0 win took Boro’s league run to four games unbeaten including two teams in the top four. They made it three games undefeated away, including at Leeds and at Bristol, teams with among the best home records in the division.
They collected a first morale-boosting clean sheet in five games. And they clawed four points clear from the drop zone.
It was a day of marked progress.

After the banana-skin blow-out at Burton’s Pirelli Stadium there were squeals of dismay that the recent revival had ended wheels up in a ditch. If Boro couldn’t beat a League Two side we really were still deep in trouble.
But Boro’s long awaited rampant display of goal power at Bristol was a significant step forward that should reassure and inspire as the basement battle reaches a pivotal point.
Four goals away from home is an impressive performance no matter how you look at it. There have only been eight wins on the road by four goal margins in the last 50 years.
And it was no fluke. Boro played well. It was an enterprising and confident display, although it would be hard to judge from a 90 seconds we now merit on the Saturday night highlights blur.
Boro were creative going forward with prodigal left-back Andrew Taylor recast as a midfielder playing a key role. He linked up well with Joe Bennett on the flank, showed some deft touches and found some excellent defence splitting passes that helped put Bristol on the back foot early on.
Boro were clinical in front of goal. Leroy Lita had his usual stormer against a former club – if only he could do it every week, or if we could hypnotise him into thinking every team in the division was a one time employer he had a point to prove against.
But Lita he wasn’t the only one having a crack and football pensioner David James had a torrid time. He was twice forced to save well from Gary O’Neil then watch a good Taylor effort deflected wide before he sent teenage debutant Cameron Park tumbling for the penalty.
Boro were industrious in the middle with O’Neil, Nicky Bailey and Barry Robson working hard to win the right to play more expansive football.
And the defence – an all Academy back five after Tony McMahon came on for injured Justin Hoyte – dug deep to hold out when Bristol piled on the pressure, especially just before the first two goals when the home side enjoyed good spells of probing possession.
Those back in Teesside may have been left questioning their hearing as the results came in: Boro winning 4-0 away? Surely some mistake.
But it has been coming, slowly and surely, a shape emerging from the fog and confusion as Mowbray reshapes the debris of Gordon Strachan’s reign.
The boss pointed out that while the result would catch the imagination of the fans and raise the confidence of the team, it actually wasn’t that far removed from the kind of display that Boro had been putting in over recent weeks – but with added goals.
Boro had dominated at Coventry only to lose out late on; had dominated at Doncaster only to be caught cold at the death; had the edge at Leeds only to be hit by a sucker punch. Then Burton. 
It is easy to dismiss the result as a freak, a one off: “it’s just one game”. But in fact it is four games in the league now, a run of games against the sides at the top and the bottom to test Mogga’s men tactically and mentally. And it has been four games of inching but concrete progress.
With each game, the new shape and spirit has been evolving and been fine-tuned. There is more composure on the ball, more purpose going forward, more solidity and belief. And it is starting to show where it matters, in results and in the table.
The Bristol result was a massive one. After Burton there was a threat Boro would wobble and slip back as they have so often in recent years. In-form Bristol were unbeaten at Ashton gate in eight league games so it was a real test.
Boro came through it in style and now the small positives are starting to pile up.
The team have now gone three unbeaten on the road. Gareth Southgate did that in September 2009 but wins at Sheffield Wednesday and Reading either side of a draw were punctuated by dismal and ultimately fatal home defeats to West Brom, Leicester and Watford.
Gordon Strachan managed three unbeaten away in March and April 2010, draws at Derby and Watford followed by a win at Plymouth – and that was matched by four unbeaten at home too but by then the rot had set in. After Plymouth Strachan did not manage a win away and that saw him off.
Bristol meant Mowbray has already clocked up three away wins in 13 games – as many as Strachan managed in  a year and 23 matches.
Mogga’s men have won five, drawn three and lost five in his 13 games and taken 18 points – a marked improvement in the return. Strachan’s last 13 games brought just 12 points – and the graph was heading downwards.
And crucially, while supporters have been left frustrated by against high-fliers Leeds and Norwich, the new steely Boro have shown they have the strength to win the games that really matter against their relegation rivals.
The wins over Preston and Bristol were classic ‘six pointers’ that have twisted the table back in our favour.
At one point during away day Christmas clash at Preston led, and with other results swinging against us, they clawed above Boro and dumped us on the bottom.
Boro play Preston again on Saturday and if they can win we will be TWELVE points above them. That is the scale of Boro’s slow but steady upturn in the past month.
Now the next trio of Titanic tussles pit Boro against the current bottom three, Preston and Scunthorpe at home then Crystal Palace away.
We have already beaten all those three teams this season – and all three times since the arrival of Mowbray. If we can repeat those victories it will transform our season.
We still won’t be safe – a spectacular rise up what is a poor division still looks beyond what remains a thin and limited squad yet to feel the effects of the transfer window. The play-offs are well beyond Boro. A 70 point tally for sixth place will mean taking two points a game and we are not strong enough to hit those heights and the priority remains survival and ensuring we don’t slip back.
But in the coming spell of basement battles we can hole our relegation rivals below the water-line and open a yawning gap behind us. We can take a huge step towards safety.
That will give us a breathing space and time to continue to rebuild. For next year.
MEANWHILE, as requested by some of those outside Gazetteshire, here’s the bit on Boro bribe scandal that rocked football and brought the club into disgrace – and torpedoed theri title challenge -100 years ago this week.


38 thoughts on “Building Blocks For Survival

  1. AV – Agree with all of that.
    On reflection, I think the other reason for Tayls rather than Arca may have been to counter the pace on Bristol’s flanks – if so, it worked.
    Just a couple of other points – Cameron Park’s ‘cool’ when he found himself on his own and bearing down on Jame-o was commendable. It was a nailed on pen that the lad won but I was amazed (but also delighted) to see the big keeper get red – it was a yellow; no goalscoring opportunity. But what the hell….
    The appearance of Emnes and then how he and Lita tore the last semblance of City’s defence to shreds with pace and movement only served to point up even further what a waste of space Boyd was on the day. The only (continuing) disappointment in a team and subs that would all be 8+ on the day.
    Same score for Mogga and Veno too for thinking this one out successfully.
    Amen to your closing paragraphs, too!
    The news on Thomo is very poor – but hardly unexpected, given the track record at what we’re not supposed to call ‘Crockliffe’. It could be serious for the lad’s career and if was him I’d be looking for my own second opinion!

  2. Pinch me please, am I dreaming was the score really Bristol City 0-4 to Boro?
    Sorry and apologies however you can’t blame my scepticism with all that has transpired in the last season or three since that fateful announcement ‘the boy Southgate appointed Boro manager’.
    Slowly does it Mogga, steady away and lets take results one at a time. Don’t want to be a killjoy, however when we Boro faithful smell a little optimism, we usually get a smack round the head – hence is Preston a big smack round the head waiting to happen ?.

  3. Lumbering, inaccurate, costly, error prone waste of space. Mido? Boyd? No the Smogonthetyne Match predictor © ™.
    It took all day Sunday to heave that heap of junk into the skip. And as for Digital radio, mine’s on the blink, crystal clear my jacksie. At one point in the commentary on Saturday it sounded like Ali B said Bristol City nil Boro 4. Pffff modern technology eh?
    The reason for Saturday’s victory was simple – we scored when the opportunities arose and kept a clean sheet. A nice combo, it really is a simple game. If only it was this simple – but why were we better than Bristol and by such a margin?
    Leaving aside that the same starting XI for Bristol were beaten 3-0 at home last week by Sheff Wed, you get the feeling this Boro team and especially the management team study the opponents in depth. Our Formation and tactics reflect the manager’s ideas on how we can best nullify the opposition and how can we exploit their deficiencies. This is a marked change from Strachan’s stance of “we are playing like this, come hell or high water”.
    Also Andrew Taylor in his post match interview was obviously happier under this manager, but it must be the same for all the players, and that will help winning games too.
    Undoubtedly progress is being made, but our efficiency in both boxes on Saturday pleased me the most. Clean sheets win matches, how many can we keep from now until the end of the season?
    Current estimates show we are on course for 55pts, which was good enough for 16th last season, eight points above third bottom. Sounds about right, if we come through the next three games OK.
    Also have to say, tremendous support again. When the second went in, it sounded like the home team had scored. I’m pleased the travelling fans are starting to get some reward, long over due.

  4. “The play-offs are well beyond Boro. A 70 point tally for sixth place will mean taking two points a game and we are not strong enough to hit those heights and the priority remains survival and ensuring we don’t slip back. ”
    Too negative. 70 points might not even get us in the play-offs based on the current table, but it’s a good target to aim for and one we should believe we can reach.
    What an opportunity we have now in the next four games, Saturday is classic Typical Boro territory – if we win that, then we really might have turned the corner.
    Agree with JP, that was the most bizarre red card you’ll ever see. Park had turned away from goal, half the defence was on the line and we were 3-0 up in the last minute. Plenty of reasons not to send him off.
    Great to see Barry Robson play such a prominent role. If he can have a similar second half to this season like last year, it might be ‘like signing a new player’.

  5. Good article AV, fantastic and timely result for us.
    Bearing in mind that we have to sell before we can buy in this transfer window, do you think it’s worth bringing anybody else in (if we can help it) now that we’ve got some solidarity in the team?

  6. So much for the Engineering Works…this is the fourth time I’ve tried to post!
    What happened on Saturday? The gates to the BJS were locked….just found out the result this morning, brilliant. I bet Mogga was praying we didn’t score another one after announcing on Friday there’s no way we’d beat anyone 5 or 6 nil!
    **AV writes: I don’t know what happened to the Live Blog – it just wouldn’t open. I don’t really have the tim eto go under the bonnet if it doesn’t work. Typical… best away win since the Crimean War and the bloody thing doesn’t work.

  7. Interesting that Mogga’s publicly bigging up Bristol City’s winger Albert Adomah. Potential target – if any resources get freed up?

  8. Really missed the live blog on Saturday AV. Kept thinking it was my laptop !
    Its funny but when you can’t have something. Its a ‘bugger’.
    Did other things in the house while keeping a watch on SSN.
    Great Result.

  9. AV: its been a year now with our new Bhoys and some girls. I remember a blog you wrote, and a line of T Shirts, extoling the virtues of Willow Flood. Now I dont think T SHirt sales will be going well in Austraila (I Love Flood) but what of the little Irishman? Any sign of a return to first team action soon?
    **AV writes: He’s still a couple of months away I think. He’s doing light work now but not full contact or heavy impact stuff. Anyway he is old hat now. Vic (heart) Bailey now. I’m such a slag.

  10. Ger in there Boro! That’s more like it.
    I thought the live blog had gone into administration… padlock round the gates of the BJS. Keep up the good work A.V

  11. My heart sank on Saturday when Gary (fine chap) Gill mentioned the Thommo scan.
    It took me back to poor Malcolm Christie complaining that his broken leg hurt, two aspirins and run it off didnt seem to work.
    It appears poor Thommo has suffered the same fate. Is there any chance we could find out which leg was put in plaster the first time or whether they kept scanning/xraying the wrong leg.
    I trust all those who posted critical comments about him and/or his lack of bottle will come on here and apologise. Maybe they should look him in the eye and tell him he isnt a man. Playing in that condition is in sharp contrast to some of the wimps who have occupied the treatment room.
    Back to the footie and a great result. I pondered to John Powls that maybe whilst Bennett is a better attacker than Taylor Mogga was also making a statement that Bennett was the left back.
    Good to see Lita showing what he can do rather than sitting on his bum but he still showed his less focussed side by waving his shirt about and getting booked. I know it is a daft law but no dafter than taking your shirt off whilst the law is in place.
    Good to see Robbo ploughing through the middle and scoring those goals we have been missing from midfield.
    **AV writes: Mogga has told Taylor that Bennett will be the first choice left back – but that Taylor is “my kind of player” and that he sees him as a creative midfielder with superb control and an attacking instinct. He wants to resign him and Boro will make him an offer that will be better than Watford’s (although still well down on his current Premier League package.)

  12. Are you re building your bridges with Bailey AV?
    **AV writes: Yes, I’m trying to span that gap. Maybe invite him around for a game of cards….

  13. Maybe James said something out of turn about the penalty decision? Who cares anyway? Their problem.
    I well know how dangerous it can be, when supporting our beloved Boro, to sound too upbeat – and I have been caught like this time after time after time. Cost? A red face!
    Nevertheless, we did annihilate Doncaster 1-2 – and also Leeds, 1-1! The progress under Mogga has been solid, sensible, logical progress (much of it attained by following a strategy that everyone but WGS thought was solid, sensible, logical and remarkable obvious); but the players have showed more passion too, and someone was surely going to get a battering if our strikers started to strike.
    Two points a game? I will be disappointed if (when?) we don’t get 9 from the next 3 games. If we do, and the lads begin to feel really good about themselves, then why should we be so lacking in confidence as supporters? With the team playing as it is at the moment, we can beat QPR, Cardiff, Norwich, Watford, Swansea, Nottingham Unmentionables, any of them. We really can!
    This is not unrealistic. Nor are statistical extrapolations from a club that has recently been so singularly mismanaged particularly “realistic”, as these are based on a past reality, a reality that is thankfully real no more.
    Importantly, it might help the absent friends to start showing their mettle (and the colour of their money) if they believe there is something to turn up to the Riverside for. That might encourage Gibbo to be daft in his financial backing again!
    So, let us diehards all be prepared to show a more unrestrained belief in this Mogga revolution! There are 60 points to play for, nine of which we really should get. We have 29 already, so we could end up with 89. We should soon be on 38 with 51 to play for! We are on an unbeaten run against top and bottom teams; why should that stop?
    We have supported our lads at away matches like (admittedly delusional, perhaps, until the last few games, but) true believers; let’s do it home and away now!

  14. Agree with Halifax-P that we are now demonstrating that we can take points off any team in this division. I’m realistic enough to understand that that also doesn’t mean that we are about go on some kind of record breaking run taking maximum points for the rest of the season.
    Still, its nice to read a few more positive posts than after the Burton game, but as I posted then, one result in the cup in January, does not a season make. By the same token, neither does a 4-0 humping of Bristol City in January.
    What will make our season should be the growing self belief that we really can beat any team that the fixture list has before us. We have to take that self belief into the next three games and get the momentum of a healthy un-beaten run going. If I was at Preston, Scunthorpe or Palace I would be very worried about taking on Boro just now.
    Come on Boro.
    PS. Had a couple of Guru Meditations again this mornning. Did the ingeniouseers finish the upgrade work at the week-end, or are we still going to expect more interuptions to normal service?
    **AV writes: I think the server upgrade is complete but they are still finetuning and debugging. They start at the top and work down so it could be a few days before they get around to the far reaches of the Gazetteshire Bugle.

  15. Great performance on Saturday, I had a feeling we were going to turn them over on the way to the ground.
    However does Justin Hoyte really have pace? Is it just some misguided fantasy everyone seems to have or is he just incredibly lazy? He was second to every ball, often when he had a head start. Myself and others around me were happy when we saw him pull up and McMahon took to the field.
    Must also agree with John Powls, the injection Emnes gave to the team was massive, the Robins couldn’t cope with him. BBC Bristol was an interesting listen on the way home. City were locked in the dressing room till 5:50pm.
    Changing the subject completely – who is responsible for allowing Thomson to play with a fracture? It’s been obvious for sometime that something wasn’t right. Did they only do a scan last week?

  16. I remember Gary Gill injuring his leg against Southampton and Tommy Johnson telling him to go for a paddle at Redcar then “run it off”.Turns out he had broken it!.
    Pleased to see Bailey doing well,I think he will be a good player for us this season,especially if Gary O’neil goes.

  17. SmogontheTyneNowontheMoon:
    “Undoubtedly progress is being made, but our efficiency in both boxes on Saturday pleased me the most. Clean sheets win matches, how many can we keep from now until the end of the season?”
    Hasten to differ Smog. Clean sheets (in a footballing sense), at best, get you draws. It takes goals to WIN matches.
    Maybe you’re confusing the condition with your youth, when you stood a better chance of scoring if your sheets were clean? 😉

  18. The league performances continue to improve and there is nothing to suggest a backward slip (Transfer window permitting). Under Mogga and Venus Boro look like they are slowly, surely and steadily building week on week.
    Its no coincidence to me that Tayls gives his best performance in a Boro shirt probably in years yet in an unfamiliar position. Bailey still keeps improving and if Robbo can repeat his performances from January to the end of the season things will (along with points/game ratio) continue positively.
    The Leeds and Norwich results were dissappointing but what would you have given for our chances in those games had Strachan been in charge (and probably now 6 points adrift from Preston)?
    If the progress continues at the same steady and crucially sustainable pace then an average of two points a game will not be far off. Probably not soon enough for this season but good enough to reach the top half and have a platform for next season. It will also give Gibbo the confidence instead of blind belief to try his hardest to support his Management Team in the Summer.
    If Mogga can instil the same belief and improvement with Mido as he has done for the rest of the squad then it could be a steamy, short lived four month affair full of passion and scoring for fun which could suit all parties.
    No doubt there will be some banana skins between now and the season’s end and it won’t all be champagne stuff and we need to bear that in mind. Meanwhile it would be good to see some of the crowd come filtering back to be a part of the Riverside Renaissance.

  19. take2….
    Very encouraging result and performance. After watching recent games on tinternet I think this result has been coming. Who knows what a bit of extra confidence will do?
    Emnes again added flair. With the addition of the academy kids returning from their loans we can start to build something for next season.
    However, we must keep those players with their hearts in the club.

  20. A fantastic result to go with the performance.
    I must admit I would have been quite content with a point from Ashton Gate. A quick check of the Racing Post’s form league on Saturday morning showed that Bristol City had taken 13pts from their last 15 at home (the form table only went back that far – I think it was actually eight unbeaten at home) and whilst our league form is slowly improving week on week I wasn’t expecting a win. Certainly not a thrashing.
    I was hoping for seven or eight pointss from the run of games we’ve got against the fellow strugglers but I think that’s been upgraded to 10 now. A huge pat on the back for Mowbray, his staff and the players.
    Andrew Taylor’s inclusion in midfield adds an interesting new twist to that conundrum. I think I’m right in saying that he was a left-midfielder as a junior so perhaps that is his natural position. Mind you I think Joe Bennett was a midfielder too.
    Like John Powls I noticed TM making some pretty unsubtle glances towards Bristol’s right winger. Is he looking at him if any money becomes available? It is a position that we need filling.
    I’m with AV on the play-off chat. Put it out of your minds. I refuse to contemplate it until we’re in the top half (which would be a massive achievement in itself).

  21. Great result on Saturday.
    Even better for HalifaxP because he very rarely misses a match, and his prose is so Stuart Hall.
    Taylor, Mido, Cameron ‘Ji Sung’ Park, Boro’s season saviours? – ooh, you just couldn’t make it up. Come on Rhys, crawl out of the anitpodean woodwork and make an appearance too.
    Come on Boro.

  22. I for one will be buying into the Mogga revolution. Put me down for a half season ticket in the BJ stand. Yes yes I know, profligacy at it’s very worst in times of such austere measures, but i got my bonus this month despite the tabloid outcry

  23. Yes, it was indeed a shock when I read that the result was 4-0 to the Boro…… never expected that in a month of Saturdays. So it was our biggest tonking away from home since last season’s deliriously unexpected 5-1 thrashing of current table toppers QPR (to think we actually doubled them last year on an aggregate of 7-1 is hard to believe right now!)…..very satisfying.
    All that remains to be said is that Boro MUST now keep focussed on maintaining form and stopping resorting to the usual habits that have cost us so many points already: clean sheets and consistency are the keywords to climbing further up that table and away from danger.
    Amazing to think that there wasn’t a typical Boro Christmas slump this time around….. this is without doubt our best ever ‘festive’ period points haul for a decade: four unbeaten: two wins and two draws, and crucially no defeats. Can we keep it up? It’s up to the players to make sure of this now every week, otherwise it’s all back to square one again….

  24. Satisfying, very satisfying,for once an emphatic result and the welcome re-appearance of the phrase ‘a clinical performance’ in post match descriptions of the game.
    Let us not forget this league consists of mediocre and poor teams to which we have been unduly generous to a fault. I hope that trait has now ceased and there is no reason why we cannot make further progress up the table.
    That will depend on keeping Taylor( I am assuming Wheater, regrettably, is on his way). If he should choose Watford ,then how low has our status as a club fallen?
    Has anyone else noticed how the clutch of so called failures under Strachan such as Bennett, Lita, Arca, Emnes and now Taylor, if not thriving under Mowbray are improving.
    Slowly but surely each week we hear from a player of Strachan’s ineptitude, this time it was Taylor. We cannot estimate the damage done by this man of small statue and equally of small mind to a group of players who appear to have had their self esteem and confidence shredded.
    Mowbray has patiently restored that confidence and self belief which is why despite evidence to the contrary, he can get something out of Mido.
    Mowbray is shrewd enough to realise that football wise, Mido is better than Boyd and Lita. He knows if he is fit and remains so he can score goals in this division with the fast paced attack he is developing.
    A sensible financial deal is not impossible and can be mutually beneficial to club and player. Unlike Southgate who was too lenient and Strachan too dictatorial, Mowbray is intelligent and skilful enough to manage Mido. He is a gamble but then we thought Boyd was going to be a ‘cert’,nothing is predictable in football.
    On a sad note for those of my generation it was sad to read the death of Nat Lofthouse today. As an eight year old I can still see him vividly bundling Harry Gregg and the ball into the net for Bolton’s second goal in the 1958 Cup Final against Man Utd.
    **AV writes: My Big Picture column tomorrow is on the theme of rehabilitation and how discards, boo-boys and fringe figures have been transformed under Mogga.

  25. AV: Posting Box…….. He Loopy! He broke again! Site, he velly slow to make betta. Like Thomo leg.
    **AV writes: Yes, there are a few bugs still to be ironed out. Adopt Apache attack cache varnishing protocol. Save those gems before pressing the button.

  26. AV – I’m reposting, the server keeps crashing! Sorry if you have already received this….
    LOL Halifax Pete I need to sit you down in the Navi on Sat and give you a stern talking to! You are getting far too upbeat! But it’s understandable when we pull out such a good win.
    AV, that’s a very interesting stat only the 8th four goal victory in 50 years on the road, amazing. So that sort of makes it special. But Halifax Pete makes a good point, we could start to rack up the points, but I agree with AV that survival remains the goal.
    Lita needs to start to demonstrate some prowess in front of goal more often, rather than being simply “Lita the lash”. Composure is not really part of his make up as far as I have seen. And taking your shirt off is really just stupid isn’t it?
    I hope this is the turning point we have been waiting for, and that some good entertaining footy takes us to mid table mediocrity. But with such an alarming lack of goals I have to reserve my natural tendency for getting excited, and I’m not getting carried away just yet!

  27. After a fairly busy few days and a very early start on Saturday (trying to get my boys’ pitch water-free from a game that was ultimately postponed)I ended up dozing off in front of Soccer Saturday with the score locked at 0-0.
    Woke up to see 3-0 and as I did news appeared of the red card and pen for 4-0.
    Best Saturday afternoon I’ve had in quite some time.
    Mowbray is the man – it just feels right with him back at the club, doesn’t it.
    ps saw Strachan opining at a Sky game recently and was surprised to feel myself getting really angry with his presence there. The damage that unless dolt has done to this club will still take a lot of undoing.

  28. Greetings all and happy new year. Been away on my summer holidays so not been following the blog for a while, and only catching the results in the paper next day.
    Have spent the morning skimming through match reports and recent blogs and it appears the boys have been doing very well. Four games unbeaten in the league. Three wins, two draws and only one loss in the last last That’s form. Long may it continue.
    I notice from one of the blogs this view is of course a matter of opinion, with many arguing that the Leeds and Norwich draws represent lost points, but I’m happy with the return.
    As a few have pointed out, Preston on Saturday has ‘typical Boro’ written all over it. I’d be happy with a point even though we should be hoping for all three. Four points from the next two would be excellent.
    I’m not too fussed about the Cup. These things happen and we weren’t the only one by any means.
    I’m pretty happy with the way football in general is going at the moment. I sense that the importance of money in the game might be starting to drop away. The leagues are more competitive.
    This time last year, the gap between top and bottom in Div 1 and 2 was 34 points in each. This year it’s 25 and 29. Big, moneyed clubs are starting to fall by the wayside. Liverpool well down the league, Chelsea dropping off. Villa in relegation trouble (poor Stewie!). Promoted clubs are doing better.
    Transfer windows are characterised by more prudent spending. I think the ‘product’ is losing its lustre. Billionaires will get bored and look for new toys. Rather than look for new investors to inject cash into Boro, or ask Steve Gibson to yet again put his hand in his pocket, I’d rather carry on counting the pennies, stabilising the clubs finances and let the pack come back to us…which they will.
    Whisper it quietly but we may be on the verge of getting our game back.

  29. Having had a very early start on Saturday – all in vain as it turned out, trying to get my boys’ pitch ready to play in driving rain, eventually postponed – I was feeling the effects of all this exertion and fell asleep in front of Soccer Saturday at approx 3.05pm.
    Sometime later I saw 3-0 appear on the latest scores, then saw news on the teleprinter about DJ getting sent off and the pen going in. Convinced I was still dreaming – what a dream! When I realised no, I was actually awake – what a feeling!
    Mowbray is the man, no matter what – it just feels right with him in charge. I was quite surprised how angry I felt myself getting recently when I saw Strachan as a Sky pundit – just how the heck that useless, inept, inadequate dolt has the brass neck to appear on TV talking like he knows anything about football. It will still take this club a long time to recover from the damage he inflicted upon it.
    Anyway back to Saturday and a result at Bristol City that at last surpassed the magnificent 2-1 win there in Dec 1976. MOTD somewhat reluctantly screened the game – Boro had a reputation as 0-0 merchants – and the disbelief when Peter Brine whacked home a Boro second was palpable!
    And of course the classic Jack Charlton ‘ey up, that’s knackered it’ when the TV light fell over and smashed during the post-match interview. Great times – and hopefully hopefully more to come with Mowbray – the man!
    **AV writes: This must be the 12 inch remix.

  30. AV is right, there are certainly green shoots of recovery starting to break through now at the Riverside. As has been said on here before, with the chances we were creating & the forwards we have at our disposal, it was always likely that someone would be on the end of a good stuffing at some point. Bristol City were just unlucky that the honour fell to them.
    I can honestly say that I was not one of the doom mongers who saw the Burton result as any kind of major setback, or sign of impending doom. Burton was a game that we controlled completely & looked every bit the better side. That they scored with the only two decent chances they had was simply a freak.
    Just look back at other FA Cup “giant killings” over the decades. The minnows very rarely win against better opposition by controlling the game & showing superior ball retention or skill to their opponents. They win by getting ten men behind the ball for most of the match & relying on nicking a goal from a set play at some point. Sound familiar ?
    The next couple of games are very important to me. Not necessarily because of the points on offer, but because two of my closest workmates are a Preston fan & a Scunny fan. I really don’t need the grief that would come with a poor display against either. As AV pointed out, we have beaten both already this season, so coupled with the last display against Bristol City, we should have the upper hand confidence wise.
    I am a little concerned by the lack of noises coming out of the club, about replacing our seemingly exit bound talent. While Wheater (Bolton probably) O’Neil (Stoke ?) Boyd (Rangers/Turkey ?) & possibly others seem poised to be offloaded, I worry about whether sufficient time is being dedicated to identifying suitably talented (but not too expensive) replacements ?
    I’m not so sure that O’Neil will be replaced, should he be sold though. Bailey, Robson, Thomson & Flood are all similar types of player to O’Neil, so I don’t think getting in another similar player will be a priority. After all, Bates & Rhys Williams have both played centre mid (holding) roles successfully enough for us in the past when the need arose. Strachan seemed obsessed with having a squad full of identikit, plodding, one paced, defensively minded, non-scoring midfielders who offered no width. Well……. job done !
    One thing that has been dragging on far too long now is the Wheater situation. If it is frustrating me, I cannot imagine how Mowbray & the club executives are feeling. It seems that Bolton reneged on a deal to pay the asking price, after initially agreeing to do so verbally, in order to get permission to talk to the player. Am I about right there AV? Talk today is of an expected clinching of the deal in the next few days. Well is that not exactly where we were 10 days ago ?
    We all know that business is rarely concluded early & swiftly in the January transfer window, but this is getting ridiculous !
    **AV writes: Bolton agreed a price with adds on that was around £4m then did some sums – signing on fee, wages over four years, agents fees, VAT – and got cold feet over the total size of the package and changed their mind. We’ve all done it. They’ve thought about it for a few days, asked it there is any chance of a discount or they will look elsewhere and decided to go ahead anyway. We are hearing it is expected to be done before Bolton’s next game.

  31. What does retraining consist of Werdermouth?
    Watching re-runs of the:-
    UEFA/FA CUP finals?
    Cardiff FA cup surrender?
    Any game from the first 2 months of the season?
    What am I thinking…? How can I be so negative after a smashing victory?
    Green shoots- like the snowdrops in my garden – are finally visible. I shall be winging my way up to the Riv on Saturday with quiet confidence.
    Long live the Moggavite revolution.

  32. AV – I’m reposting, the server keeps crashing! Statement returned from your server: Guru Meditation: XID: 722400359. Sounds like a good pseudonym!
    Sorry if you have already received this….
    LOL Halifax Pete I need to sit you down in the Navi on Sat and give you a stern talking to! You are getting far too upbeat! But it’s understandable when we pull out such a good win.
    AV, that’s a very interesting stat about only the eighth 4 goal victory in 50 years on the road, amazing. So that sort of makes it special. But Halifax Pete makes a good point, we could start to rack up the points, but I agree with AV that survival remains the goal.
    Lita needs to start to demonstrate some prowess in front of goal more often, rather than being simply “Lita the lash”. Composure is not really part of his make up as far as I have seen. And taking your shirt off is really just stupid isn’t it?
    I hope this is the turning point we have been waiting for, and that some good entertaining footy takes us to mid table mediocrity. But with such an alarming lack of goals I have to reserve my natural tendency for getting excited, and I’m not getting carried away just yet!

  33. Over 24hrs without a comment.
    I’m worried about vic. Anyone in the Seaton Carew area seen a lone canoeist?

  34. Is the site down? Or is it so shocked by the Gazette news Mido is going back to Egypt, that all concerned with the Blog are currently in the pub, celebrating?

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