Boro Babes Need Help At The Back

BORO’S rookie defenders faced the flak after a sickening late slump against Swansea.
The consensus was that Boro had frittered away a commanding lead and three precious points because of naive defending by the youngsters and that the chief villains of the piece were the central defensive pairing of Seb Hines and Jonathan Grounds.
After seeing his team implode the frustrated gaffer pointed to individual errors in defence and stand-in skipper Barry Robson rummaged around in the big bag of football cliches and added that he wasn’t naming names but pointed to ‘schoolboy’ stuff at the back.
But Robson and Co need to shoulder theri share of the blame. The kids needed help from the senior players in the team – and it didn’t come.

There can be no mitigation for the disjointed display by the young central defensive pairing, or by both the full-backs who were butchered by Swansea’s flying flankers, or by a suddenly shaky looking rookie keeper who made a string of errors.
No doubt all of them will feel shell-shocked by their collective nightmare. It was terrible. It was well short of the standard needed to survive and flourish in the Championship and they will all know that. It was “a shambles” said gutted Joe Bennett on his Twitter.
Inexperience told. It was always going to at times. Hines has played just 11 first team games and Grounds has made only 30 starts, many of them at left-back – and the duo have played together as a unit just three times in the first team. Even for veterans that is nowhere near enough pitch time to form a functioning relationship. And it showed.
The fledgling pair struggled all day with the fluid movement, pace and penetration of the Swansea strike force and were repeatedly exposed. The made mistakes as individuals, as an ill-fitting partnership and within the creaky back five as a whole.
There were individual moments of madness that will give them nightmares, notably the lapse for the first Swansea goal when Hines opted to defy playground lore and dribble out of defence and across the face of goal only to lose the ball, miss the tackle that could have won it back and leave a gaping hole where he should have been.
That ball should have been played safely back to the keeper, or inside to a team mate to retain possession, or quickly down the channels for a runner moving forward, or, if in doubt, whacked into row zed. But he will learn.
Behind them Jason Steele, one of the biggest plusses of the season so far, put in a jittery display and was at fault for Swansea’s leveller when he came out to collect but failed to either catch or punch clear under pressure from Luke Moore and allowed the ball to go spinning to the back stick where in a moment of black comedy Hines and Tony McMahon got in a tangle and it was weakly nodded into the path of Ashley Williams.
Having come out the keeper should have thumped the ball with Hayemaker and more than cleared the box and clattered Moore into the bargain.  But he will learn.
Having asset-stripped the team which has then been hit with injuries we have been forced to blood the kids in greater numbers and far earlier than intended and we must recognise that carries inherent risks. They are learning on the job and they will make mistakes. It is part of the process.
Normally those mistakes, that process would be out-sourced and they would be learning harsh lessons out of harm’s way on loan at a lower league club. Now instead they are doing it in the full glare of first team games with high stakes and little tolerance for errors.
Yet the pivotal moment of the Swansea game came not from a slip by one of the rookies but when one of the most expereinced players on the pitch – and one of Boro’s best performers this term – made an horrendous error.
At 3-1 up Boro were on the rack after Swansea made a shrewd double switch and took off their two most creative schemers and put on more solid and direct players to beef up in the midfield – there were a string of crunching tackles that really rattled Boro’s engine room in a pivotal five minute spell – and they gradually pushed deeper and dangerously towards the box. The defence was being swamped.
The youngsters at the back needed help. Cool heads were required from the senior members of the team. The experienced players had to lead by example, to win and retain possession, to take the sting out of Swansea’s surge and help take the pressure off the wobbling back-line as Boro defended a two goal lead for the final 30 minutes.
Only Julio Arca will know what he was thinking when he made such a clumsy tackle from behind and through the legs of  Allen in the box when Joe Bennett was between the Swansea man and the goal. It was crazy and totally unnecessary.
The resulting penalty threw the visitors a lifeline, intensified the pressure on the creaking defence and sparked the familiar jitters that spread quickly through the team.
Even at that point Boro should have won and it was down to the senior players to take control, steady the ship and the nerves and stop Swansea playing. In that, they failed.
The team was as ‘experienced’ as it had been for a while. At Palace seven Academy graduates started; against Swansea it was just five. With Arca, Robson, Nicky Bailey, Scott McDonald and Leroy Lita in the team there should have been enough nouse there to see out a game and hold a 3-1 lead. 
But the older heads failed to protect the kids. There was a distinct lack of leadership. There was a vacuum. Arca ran around to no avail, Lita and McDonald disappeared and it was no surprise they were taken off, while Robson lunged into missed tackles, was dragged out of position and spent a lot of time on the deck appealing for decisions. The senior players need to take responsibility and earn their corn when the heat is on. Even Bailey, generally the best on the day, should maybe have used his nouse to bring down Sinclair 30 yards out as he weaved towards the box for the winner. A judicious foul, a
free kick or even a booking would have been a good trade for a point at that stage.
If Boro are to get the best out of the next generation of starlets they need to be protected and mentored in the heat of battle and too often that is not happening.
In an ideal world Boro’s kids would be blooded gradually, brought in to a balanced, fully functioning and preferably winning team and surrounded by older heads for a spell. Then taken out for a breather.
But it is far from an ideal world. Boro are down to the bare bones. Every department is stretched to breaking point and ravaged by injuries. There is no cover. We are operating with a very thin squad and that heaps a lot of weight on young shoulders.
Jason Steele probably needs a breather more than anyone. Shipping goals – especially late goals – must have dented his confidence after a bright start to the season and all those early plaudits. He has been a fault for a few goals conceded of late and ideally would be taken out of the firing line. But there is no alternative. Danny Coyne is out for the foreseeable after a disc injury that will need surgery and Connor Ripley, just turned 18, hasn’t played a minute of senior football.
Likewise the centre-backs; who replaces them? Unknown quantity Maxi Haas has one reserve game under his belt and the gaffer is saying he still needs time to adjust to the environment (which raises the question of why he was brought in during January and not the summer with the wages instead spent on a journeyman stopper). While Haas may yet turn out to be a star, thrown in right now he would be a risk. He will need to acclimatise to a new team, a hectic new league, and a new (raw) partner all at once.
Meanwhile Matthew Bates is a month away and Stephen McManus maybe six weeks at the soonest – and when they return they will need games to get up to speed.
That is long time to rely on mixing and matching an untested trio, especially through a run of tough games for a still vulnerable Boro side with just a five point cushion from the drop zone, and with several of those below us due to play each other and gain points.
The kids at the back need help. If they are to realise their potential and not be crushed by responsibility in the weeks to come we desperately need to bring someone in to beef up the defence.
Boro are crying out for a commanding, battle scarred brute of a Championship seasoned centre-back: a leader, a battler, a no-nonsense warhorse who will take out physical strikers and who will have no illusions about sophisticated ball playing and will hoof it and head it clear and take no prisoners
It may not suit the long term strategy of playing neat possession football with cultured passing from the back – but any such plan depends on survival in this division first and foremost and to do that we must shore up the defence with a player who can cope with the rigours of the Championship and teach the kids the facts of life.
They also need a journeyman keeper for a month or two to take the heat off Steele.
Boro are working to a very tight budget, we know that and Mowbray knows it too… although the full extent of the belt-tightening may only just be becoming clear to him now. The club have made it clear space must be cleared on the wage bill by an exit before there can be any in-coming loans and January showed there were no takers for our luxury players on big bucks. Part of the problem was sat on the bench.
But while a prudent approach to finances is neccessary -most appreciate that – taking such a rigid stance at a time when the squad is so threadbare and the team precariously placed in the table is a massive gamble. The same gamble was taken in the Premier League relegation season and it failed catastrophically leading to a disastrous three year slide and our current parlous state.
Boro need some big gaps plugging. Now. Somehow, somewhere they need to find the funds or juggle what they have and quickly. Ideally it would come by easing out big earning Boyd or McDonald. It may be that Taylor needs to be loaned back out to Watford, even at the risk of undermining the bid to persuade him of his long term future.
But this is not an ideal world. It is time for the powers that be to look through the books and down the back of the settee. The funds must be found somewhere and somehow
Mogga should be banging on a few doors round about now.


37 thoughts on “Boro Babes Need Help At The Back

  1. AV said “while Robson lunged into missed tackles, was dragged out of position and spent a lot of time on the deck appealing for decisions”.
    He is struggling against the top sides in this division. A penny for his thoughts about his decision to come down here, I’ll bet my penny he didn’t think it would be this tough! Of course he would never publicly admit to that.

  2. InGabon –
    I agree partly about Robson. But we need to remember he’s had a lot of injuries this season. On Saturday he had just come back from the doctor, again.
    So injuries is our biggest problem. We still have a reasonable squad for Championship level. But I must agree that a experienced loanee as a centre back would do nicely. But again the loanee would need time to settle in. So why not give the time to Maxi in the first place?
    I agree with AV that we need leaders on the field. Somehow I don’t see Lita as a leader of the attack. Thommo or Robson should be leading the midfield by example, too. But both have been injured and out of the team. And we miss Bates – at least he is the most experienced CB he have. And he has played in the PL level, too.
    Hard times but I agree with Dormo here. One match – or fight – is lost but we have not lost the war (I know it was the second defeat in a row). But we’ll survive in this division.
    Up the Boro!

  3. Andrew Davis, anyone?
    He knows the club. The 27-year-old, who can play in central defense or at right-back, was highly rated as a youngster at Middlesbrough and he went on to make over 50 appearances for the Teessiders, as well as winning an England Under-21 cap. But he has made just 118 starts in all.
    Up the Boro!

  4. Age is an excuse.
    The only player I can forgive from the three stooges on saturday was Grounds.
    Steele has been making mistakes all season, and its only now people are seeing without rose tinted glasses. He will be as pilleried as Bad Jones from now on.
    Hines just doesnt have it. I never rated Wheater, he needed a good defender next to him to look good. He looked great with Huth, Woodgate or Bates. pathetic next to Riggott, McManus and St Ledger.
    Hines just looks bad full stop, at least Grounds with Bates would be half decent.
    These three are never going to be good enough, Boro’s overrated youth academy strikes again.

  5. Our kids are being ruined. Dave Parnaby must be despairing as he watches his protoges being exposed and abused.
    Many of our home-grown ‘youngsters’ are in fact early-mid 20s and have been playing in the first team for several years. Grounds debuted 3 years ago and it’s 6 since we first saw Bates, McMahon and Taylor. The fact that they have established a regular playing spot until the current emergency strongly suggests they are not good enough. Downing and Johnson and Wheater did.
    Even if they were of the right calibre, they have had little chance to realise their potential. They have come into a depressed, unstable squad that is struggling and very much on the slide.
    As the article highlights, there have been fewer and fewer experienced ‘rocks’ of players to rely on and learn from. What wouldn’t we give now for a wise old owl like Southgate or Pearson to shore up these kids and guide them?
    The Boro is at risk of frittering away an entire generation of academy graduates and, perhaps worse, blighting their careers.

  6. I went out with “our lass” on Saturday. Nice burger, then the pictures. Didn’t even look at the result until 6 o’clock.
    What do we expect just playing the kids and few useless has-beens? If him upstairs wants to run us into the ground, I’d suggest he passes MFC over to someone else.
    We cannot keep stripping away at the team and not replacing them…all this talk of getting more out before we can even loan anyone in. Total rank bad management has led us to this. Good old Gibbo eh?
    I feel for these academy kids, keep you chins up lads

  7. Just watched the goals, oh dear.
    In my opinion we have had no leader on or off the pitch for years. Finally we get one to manage the team but he can’t find one on the pitch because the previous managers wasted millions buying rubbish. I want to swear but I won’t.
    It is clear to all that unless reinforcements arrive we will be sucked into the bottom three within five or six games. I am past getting angry, I flicked to SSN and it was 3-1, then suddenly 3-2. It was easy to predict at this point that we would end up losing 4-3, too easy.
    I have had no confidence in this team/club for many years and just as I think it can’t get anymore embarrassing along comes a display like that.

  8. I will repeat what I have said before, previous academy graduates tended to come in alongside experienced players. Full back alongside the likes of Southgate, wingers with Boat in midfield. The previous golden generation were playing against the Premiership academy and reserve teams.
    Last week we had a mix of more experienced and academy players in a reserve match. Opposition? Gateshead reserves. I am not maligning our academy or Gateshead reserves but it is asking a lot for young players to come in and do a consistent job.
    Strikers and midfielders can make all sorts of mistakes at the other end of the pitch. A mistake from a defender can prove fateful. We have an all Academy back five but it isnt the same one as three weeks ago. Bates and Wheater have much more experience but we were still leaking late goals.
    Bringing in cheaper experience to replace the expensive flops made sense, bringing in ‘men’ to help the yougsters made sense but there have been few successes amongst them. Most of them ended up in the treatment room.
    It was always a big ask for this current crop to fill the team. They need time and patience but the former is in short supply and the latter will wear thin in certain quarters.

  9. ‘Suddenly shaky keeper’ – what have been watching for the last 2 months??!
    Frankly what worries me most about the situation (and I don’t expect to be backed up here) is the decisions from the manager.
    The substitutions on Saturday were farcical to say the least. And AV I totally agree with you on the Maxi Hass issue, just WHY was he brought here if he’s not ready to play football? Does the manager understand that we need results now. I’m not sure he does as he’s been testing out different teams each week no matter what the previous week’s results.
    As this is Boro of course we will gamble, why would those in-charge change a habit of a lifetime, gambled in 2009 and gambling now, it’s a absolute joke. Utterly ridiculous way to run a club and no wonder people have walked – for the record I still go to games though presumbly due to sins in a previous life
    And AV if Boyd and/or Macdonald had gone in the window just who would be playing up front? Given the fact that we’re at least a defender and keeper short any other money would simply go into the sorting the debt
    **AV writes: I am led to believe that had either of those two gone in the window then on loan Roman Bednar would be playing up front now.

  10. It is easy to come on this blog and be critical and attribute blame to players. I am as guilty of this trait as anyone else and in the immediate aftermath of a match. It is a natural reaction to a self imposed defeat as on Saturday.
    The hard question is what to do? It looks as if the same defence is going to trot out at Millwall as faced Swansea.There may be a change of personnel elsewhere, Smallwood for Arca I would suggest, not as a punishment for his mistake but he took some heavy tackles on the day.
    The game was too open against Swansea, should we defend tighter higher up the pitch? Should we play with two holding midfielders Smallwood or Robson? We have to be very pragmatic this weekend by filling spaces, when we defend, the old two banks of four if necessary, play percentage football that is play safe and out of harm’s way especially in the last five minutes.
    We need to avoid defeat at all costs to stop the rot. The back four should be protected by a defensive midfield of five alternating to four if McDonald plays.We cannot be expansive and allow the ball to directly reach our central defenders and for them to make decisions in unsafe ares of the pitch.
    They need better protection further up the pitch.We also must have a delegated leader, or shouter in the back four, that ought to be Grounds, even if things go wrong there is one man nominated to rally the defence.
    Failing all of the above, pray that the match is postponed owing to bad weather and rearranged for April when we should have McManus and Bates back.

  11. AV I think I liked your Saturday night piece better. I’m getting fed up with patience!
    On Saturday night I fired a tweet off in Higgy’s direction (apologies to the over 40’s) asking ‘do good players continually make silly mistakes? He said ‘no, they learn from them.’ And you can’t argue with it, only time will tell if they will learn though.
    Anyway the Smogonthetyne promo predictor © ™ makes for some grim reading.
    With roughly a third of the season to go we are ten points down on results of the corresponding fixtures last year. If we were to only match last year’s results from now on, we would get 52 points. Palace survived with 49, squeaky bum! But if we are ten points down after 2/3 of the season then, would it be fair to say we will be 15 points down at the end of the year. That would give us 47 points, Sheff Wed went down with 47 points and a -20GD, even more squeaky squeaky!!
    So to avoid a disastrous end to the season we have to at least match last years results. These included a victory over QPR, a point against both Forest and Millwall’s equivalent (P’boro).
    These look like five unattainable points at the mo (especially Forest!!)
    At the very least we need another 15 points. After the Forest game we have six home fixtures left, Derby, Leicester, Watford, Coventry, Barnsley and Donny. We must win at least three of those and a couple of away games, but where and when, who knows. Every point is precious; making the five carelessly spilt recently all the more galling.
    It’ll be exciting, but then so is putting a half starved Ferret down your trousers.

  12. As a Watford supporter I read this thread with something approaching astonishment.
    There is no doubt that Andrew Taylor is a good left back in the Championship but he is not top draw and you have at least three viable options for that position. Also, whereas he may be (as Mowbray says) useful in a midfield role, that is at best a stop gap – surely you are going to have cover there when new signings and the short term injured return ? And to make matters worse for love (he has a southern lass in tow) if nothing else – he unlikely to sign up again before summer !
    Watford’s last offer was c. £300K. The inside track says that Taylor wanted to come and Lamb was ok with it. It was Mowbray who vetoed the deal. You would have had £300K plus around £15K in weekly wages to invest in the loan market.
    Serious misjudgements can have serious consequences !

  13. Now that the emotion of losing a 3-1 lead has died down there is no point moaning and blaming this, that the other, the CEO and the Chairman. We’re in the mire, half the squad is injured and the other half is inexperienced. As fans all we can do is rally round, be as positive as possible and keep supporting the team.
    I find it hard to believe that we cant ‘afford’ two loan players, what would they cost? £5000 a week? Thats around £120,000 to see us through to the end of the season. Surely the truth is we cant afford not to get a couple of loan players in.
    We need a keeper on loan to give Steele who is clearly talented a breather and a centre back who is as hard as nails and takes no prisoners, anyone know Stuart Boams number? Or maybe Mogga should get those 80’s shorts out of the draw!
    Its gonna be a rocky ride through to May.

  14. Dennis –
    You struck a chord with me about how we played. Before the match I suggested playing them as you would Arsenal. Press tham and give them no time on the ball, dont allow them to pass you to death.
    We have played Arsenal the open way and were tonked, used the pressing game and got results. Even ManU use the pressing approach when they play the Gunners.
    Swansea are the Championship Gunners. So did we press or play open, the answer is in the score.

  15. AV is absolutely right that the team needs an experienced centre back and goalkeeper to help the youngsters who are going to have to form a significant part of the team for at least the next month or so.
    Without an injection of experience the risk that Boro will be playing League 1 football next season will be substantially increased.
    However, it seems that management of the club has decreed that there can be no incoming loan players without some players going out first. This makes it crystal clear to me that the financial situation of the football club is absolutely desperate.
    The management splashed out money on Strachan and the dross that he bought in the hope that he would take us back to the Premiership (although any scrutiny of his track record would have told them that the chances of this happening were remote) and the failure of that strategy has left the club completely broke.
    However, surely the management can see that relegation to League 1 would accelerate the club’s downward spiral – more players leaving, smaller crowds and declining revenues leading to an even more desperate financial position – but even if they can see this they can’t find what in the overall scheme of things is a relatively small amount of money to bring in a couple of loan players in an effort to ensure that relegation doesn’t happen.
    So what next? The club is clearly in crisis both on and off the pitch and the loyal fans are extremely worried about the future. Gibson must surely recognise the extent of the fans’ disappointment at what they see on the pitch and their deep concern about the club’s ongoing financial viability and it’s future.
    He should therefore give the fans an honest appraisal of the current position and share with them his plans both to survive the current crisis and, over time, to begin moving the club forward again. He got the club into this appalling mess and he owes it to the fans to tell them how he is going to get out of it.

  16. Ian Gill said:
    “We have played Arsenal the open way and were tonked, used the pressing game and got results. Even ManU use the pressing approach when they play the Gunners.”
    There’s a common sense logic in that, but there is surely a flaw: we didn’t get tonked. In fact, we would have won with more decisive defending.
    Ultimately, I don’t think we lost due to bad tactics.

  17. I remember a transfer window far, far away when we moved out experience to be replaced by ones for the future. In true Question of Sport traditions, ‘What happened next?’.
    Mogga was a wise appointment, he will get far more time and understanding than any other manager. Time will tell if the two new players were good buys but maybe that was all he was allowed.
    To show how serious people are taking things, Smog is mentioning the F word.
    But it is only football, there are far more important thigs in life.

  18. Hmm, strange that people comment on the inexperience but what is Arc’s excuse? The bloke must be a complete idiot making that challenge that got them back in the game!

  19. This is a Public Service Announcement.
    This Blog apologises to all readers and contributors, but it will be temporarily out of service whilst the Blogmeister surrenders to commercial and cultural pressure on 14th February.
    Due to circumstances beyond normal control, there is a pressing need to buy red roses and chocolates, and to organise a romantic meal for Mrs Blogmeister, who would otherwise be incandescent with rage should the Blog be updated at the usual hourly intervals on this particular evening. Replies may rest in the ether until tomorrow whilst domestic duties are performed by your Blog host.
    Say no more…
    And to those who might think your contributor a heartless, unfeeling monster -let it be known that a suitable seasonal gift has been purchased for Mrs Dormo. A blue Boro away shirt that she can wear with pride. I know, call me a softy…..
    **AV writes: Pah! I blogged in between courses.

  20. Well, the mistakes came from the sidelines as well. Lita and MacDonald should have been taken off when we were 3-1 up, not at 3-3.
    We have the team we can afford, to steal a Lamb line, but it’s not all bad. It’s just that the kids need time – which we haven’t got – but I’m sure we have enough to stay up.
    Pity we won’t get 12 points ahead before the end of the season so that we could use the administration route that a lot are chatting about in the pubs and on the terraces (so to speak). Keep calm, we will survive. I promise.

  21. Time for a re-think, Sir Steve!
    For years you’ve bankrolled our club. We owe you an enormous amount of gratitude for saving us from oblivion in 1986, for all the Premiership years, for Juninho, for Cardiff and for Eindhoven. And we realise of course that you’re now trying to run the club on sounder, sensible financial lines, so that we still have a club to watch and support in years to come.
    But your lone ownership of the club is no longer working; you no longer have the millions at your disposal. We’re skint. The barrel is being well and truly scraped.
    We want you to stay as our Chairman, one of our own. But surely now is the time to seek further investment in MFC, from Britain or abroad? And yes, we know we’re not a very attractive proposition, given geography, fanbase, league position, debts, quality of playing squad, chances of returning to the Premiership.
    But look at what we do have – a fantastic stadium, brilliant training facilities, a great manager, a passionate chairman, great goodwill locally and fans who will return when Boro get it right on the pitch. So surely now is the time to find a partner or partners who can provide a small amount of dosh to fund some better players? Surely there must be some local (or international) millionaire who would join you to put a couple of million into the kitty? I can’t believe that with things the way they are right now you’re not considering this as a serious option.
    It would be very nice to hear what you think again soon about how to fix the mess we’re in. How can we find the funds to build a better squad fit for a promotion fight next year, if you’re not going to seek partners?

  22. Lots of good posts guys, shows we are all fervent in supporting this football club.
    Once again after giving this lots of thought and struggling badly to glean any positives out the very deep ‘brown stuff’ we are in.
    We have the ‘engine room’ consistentently at the doctors and off sick, the defence is bereft of any real quality and experience and this has started to show (or was Swansea an off day) and apart from Swansea, we don’t score goals with Lita, Boyd and McDonald consistently firing blanks. Can someone please tell me where the hell are the positives in this ?.
    What is very sad and distressing is there are +30,000 Boro fans out there willing this team to show some consistency and structure generating hope for the future.
    Perhaps my rose coloured glasses need a polish so that I can see better, or more to the point just maybe I can see clearly and see its just not there is it !!!

  23. Clive Hurren at 11:06 PM
    We couldn’t even get a sponsor earlier on in the season and I know someone who was offered the whole season for 200K!! There’s no-one out there.

  24. Andy R
    Maybe I didnt put it well but I didnt say we were tonked but maybe were too open in our play.
    As AV said it was a team failure rather than just a few young defensive players.
    Maybe Swansea were just a bit too good for us, only just, but enough.

  25. Ian Gill –
    Yes I am mentioning the F word. Walking away from the City Ground in October, I reconciled my self to the fact that I don’t think I will ever see us beat them. It was quite liberating.
    However I still don’t like them very much, and would appreciate fellow Boro fans not bringing them up in conversation unless we are approaching the fixture like we are now. There are some out there who it would appear take great delight in highlighting pummelling’s at the hands of the old enemy #onthisboroday.
    But credit where credits due, we will not be playing them next season, regardless of the outcome of our relegation battle. They will go up, possibly as chimp champs or a very close second.
    Before the start of last season Forest spent big, very big for a championship club. They had narrowly avoided relegation but had ended the season putting together an unbeaten run but with a lot of draws.
    They spent net of £5m, bringing in experienced players such as part time hypnotist Paul McKenna, part time bull dozer Dele Adebola and some promising young players, Tyson and Madjeski. It puts our recent spending into perspective.
    What Davies has done well is provide a platform for the emerging young talent in the squad, notably McGugan, by having chimpship experience around them. They have an imposing centre half in Wes Morgan, who makes Darren Moore look sprightly.
    Forest are not the passing machine that they once were, but they compete in every game. They do not fold and are very, very tough to beat. They can cancel out almost all teams in this division and then with a little bit of magic from McGugan or pace from Earnshaw they can get goals.
    This is the style of football I want to see the Boro adopt, especially in this division. I think Mowbray’s style while laudable and easy on the eye will fall short at this level as the players are not good enough to carry the plan out effectively. Even Arsenal can’t win trophies playing that way.
    Strachan’s philosophy was too much the other way but to illustrate my point I’ll use Swansea as an example. They were great to watch on Saturday, better than us where it mattered but I don’t think they will go up. The bigger, stronger more direct teams will prevail.
    Next season will we be better than Swansea were last week? I doubt it, so let’s take a little cheeky short cut and get some beef in the team.
    We have the basis of a decent Chimpship squad. If a Roman Bednar type could be played up front we could be OK for a top half position next year.

  26. Would League 1 really be that catastrophic? The more unfolds of our plight, the more we are Leeds all over again, a team that punched above its weight through funding for a few years and were left to reap the disaster this caused.
    Leeds dropped to League 1 as did Newcastle this gave them a winnable season of kids playing football gaining experience, these kids would return to the Championship in 2013 -2014 season with 50+ games under their belts and high on confidence after winning promotion and theres no real doubt many of them do have the talent for a higher level.
    Wins bring back the fans. A promotion season brings back the fans and steadys the ship. I’m increasingly more becoming of the opinion we still have to go backwards to move forwards.

  27. Sandy and redcartim are looking for positives.
    Well, this is something that came up a few weeks ago but the major positive is that we’ve got hope again, and that’s why these narrow defeats like Swansea hurt as much as they do.
    For any neutral football fan anywhere in the country, Swansea, a very decent Championship side that are pushing hard for automatic promotion, should be winning games against relegation battlers like Boro. The result will not have raised any eyebrows whatsoever around the country, only the scoreline. As a struggling team at the bottom end of the league we have to expect defeats.
    What hurts is not the defeat itself – we’ve become quite used to those – but the manner of the defeat, the feeling that we’re throwing points away.
    As I said a couple of weeks ago, we’re so close to being a decent Championship side now (a huge improvement on where we were under Strachan) but just can’t quite get over the line.
    That we’ve got some hope again, that we’re competing in games against all-comers, that we’re so close to being a respectable Championship side now, and all of that against a backdrop of cost cutting and selling just about any player for whom we’ve received an offer, is a major positive in my book.

  28. The situation at the moment smacks of the last time that relegation was a possibility (and turned out to be a reality) when we needed extra investment in the squad to ensure that we were going to be safe and nothing was done.
    SG stated that he couldnt see relegation coming the last time and I hope he hasnt reached the same conclusion this time because it makes no sense not to invest a small amount (wherever it comes from) to make sure we dont slip further down the leagues and lose revenue as a result.

  29. The extent of the appalling mismanagement of this club in recent times is becoming clear and in any other business the CEO would be shown the door. Its been obvious from September that we haven’t even had the financial leeway to bring in a loan player or two.
    Questions I’d like to put to Mr Lamb:
    a] Strachan had never managed at this level and had been totally out of English football for five years [and had spent six months on holiday]Why select him? It was patently obvious from day one he had zero knowledge of this league,the teams ,the players, what players could do a job etc
    b] I read that two years ago the average wage at this level was just under 5k. Could I ask you to explain the following.
    c] McDonald was signed for £3m and is under contract till 2014. My guess is he’s on over 15k per week. Justify giving players that sort of wage [and length of contract] in this league.
    d] You made the call to extend O’Neil’s contract for two years on £30k per week. Why? What on earth would we have done if West Ham hadnt come out of the woodwork to sign him?
    e] Boyd and Thomson signed in the summer £2m and take out £40k per week between them -the majority on Boyd. Justify giving those wages in our predicament. What happens if Boyd decides to sit out his contract until summer 2012 and drain the club?
    f] As an accountant Mr Lamb please give us the rough costings as to how we were going to cover the wages you had committed us to over a whole season since it was blatantly obvious that we had massively overstretched as early as September. We’ve already concluded that Wheater and O’Neil sale is doing nothing but try to meet the rest of the wage bill.
    I have a lot of time for Tony Mowbray and I’ll continue to give him my support as I will the remaining players.
    The heirarchy of the club meanwhile hide, silent in their underground bunker. Quite frankly as a fan of over 40 years I’m sick of the shambles that Gibson/Lamb have presided over. Somehow, something has to happen to change things.

  30. Mogga says:-
    “Maxi has his attributes but he needs to understand the intensity of the game here before we bring him into the team.”
    This can only have come about by his performances in training. Has anyone seen or heard anything “on the grapevine”?

  31. 3-1 up against one of the leagues better teams shows where we could be with this group of players. (With multiple decent players out)
    3-4 by full time shows us where we are as a team.

  32. So AV are you off to Rio to see Juninho? Its a tough life!
    **AV writes: It is a tough life for we poor wretches left back shiverring in Teesside taking up the slack while the gaffer jets out on a Samba break.

  33. themightyboro said: “Would League 1 really be that catastrophic?”
    Yes, especially if we would spend a few years there. How can you say we will get promoted from there? Or league 2 is not that bad either if we don’t get promoted from Div 1, either.
    We must stay up. We would have had a good team WITHOUT all the injuries we have had. Mogga is all we need. UTB!

  34. I fully agree with stocktonred’s observations – exactly the conclusion I’ve come to over the last 3 years. I also though Clive Hurren was right on the money (to coin a phrase) in his plea to SG for new investment.

  35. Where is SG, with all this mess going on?
    He was never one to miss an opportunity to voice his opinions, he’s the owner, the custodian of the club, which he claims belongs to the people of Teesside, yet when the going gets tough, he disappears, even the Count, who loves the limelight, is suspicious by his absence.
    People are leaving in droves, the team is a strugling mish-mash of youth and inexperience, coupled with journey men and mercenaries, there’s no money, Mogga has to work with what he has and the Chuckle Brothers have disappeared.
    Isn’t it time that the EG interviewed SG, to see what his long term plans are and what he’s up to. Or are you also being treated as the great unwashed masses, barred from the 5 * Hurworth golf club, for daring to ask what is happening to our club?
    UTB – Though I think it’s probably down to Div 1 :o(
    **AV writes: We have asked for an interviiew with the chairman. We are waiting for him to get back to us.

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