Zemmama’s the Daddy…..

ZEMMAMA’S the Daddy! Well it’s a headline writers dream and I might as well get it in now and beat the rush. The pocket-sized play-maker – the \Moroccan Juninho – was a game-changer: a sublime slotted pass through to the feet of Scott McDonald teed up the Aussie to blast Boro into the lead then a deft bit of close control to bring down an awkward on the flank and a pin-point cross into the box dropped beyond the defence to let Leroy Lita head home the winner.

The two sparks of instinctive creativity were eaxactly what Boro have been missing for years. They brought the best out of McDonald, who had been too deep and pushed around by the monster Millwall backline, and out of Lita, who has the first touch of an elephant and who left to his own devices and given time always takes it too wide before shooting.
So, do we have a new icon on our hands? After the original diminuitive dreamweaver (see last blog) and then Benito Carbone he can be TLF III. Let the hype machine begin to roll: if only he had a decent nickname. I hereby give notice that over the next few weeks I intend to roll out “Zemminho,” “the Maradona of the Maghreb”, “the Lion of the Atlas” and “al-little fallaha” … as well as trying to jam contrived phrases like “terr-Rif-ic”, “operation Berber-rossa” into the paper.
But we should be wary of expecting too much, too soon. He is not long back from a cruciate, he is acclimatising to the physicality of a league that is a war of attrition and he is new to the club and the team. The management plan to blood him slowly – although they will now find themselves under pressure to start him.
Zemmama was great… but don’t let that overshadow the incredible performance of Andrew Davies. In the first half with the defence in disarray and Millwall roaring forward and snarling at the jugular, second time debutant Davies held the team together through sheer determination and a frenzied one man all out assault on every ball that came in the box. He headed what seemed like hundreds of high balls and threw himself in front of shots and crosses, blocking goal-bound efforts with his feet, knees, back, shoulder and ear.
It wasn’t the most cultured of displays. At times it was chaotic, ragged and scrappy and twice he was a fraction away from turning low balls into his own net but escaped bya fraction as they looped over the bar. And Boro needed him. In a one-sided first half Seb Hines and Jonathan Grounds were bullied into submission, left out of position by Millwall’s speed on the break and looked brittle beyond belief. Without the whirlwind defending of Davies Boro could easily ahve been four or five down at the break.
Mogga gave them a rocket at the break and it was a different side that came out for the second half with a better shape and a higher tempo and they finally started to hurt MIllwall. “Dead ball specialist” Tony McMahon – his words, not mine – sent a beauty in to equalise and shift the balance of the game Boro;’s way.
Enter Zemmama and Boro pushed home the advantage and even though Millwall clawed one back, a newly fired up team held on, grabbed the winner then dug in through a very long six minutes added on for a riot stoppage.
That came when Millwall were rattled by Boro going ahead – the McDonald goal which was a tight offside decision – and the animals in the crowd were suddenly off the leash, shouting and throwing missiles and surging down to the front of the Dockers Stand where the police and stewards went into a containment corden with a sigh and with practiced ease. The local press people said it was a depressingly regular occurance.
Bottles were thrown at a linesman and then at Jason Steele and the refereee seriously considered taking the players off the pitch. There was a debate between all four officials and the managers while the stewards tried to quell the pathetic posturing.The crowd were baying for blood. There was no real contentious decision or foul to spark the anger, it was uncontrolled set-piece bile from a section of a crowd who have been allowed by their own club heirarchy to play up to their own Danny Dyer ‘pwopa nawty’ stereotype of intimidating violence. The tension continued after the game as Boro players had to be held back in the ground until a hostile crowd could be cleared by police and it was safe to get on the bus..
It was a great result against an in-form team. Millwall had won seven in a row at home and leaked only one goal. It was Boro’s first win there since 1973 when Malcolm Smith scored, and only the third win in 16 trips. It was also the first time Boro had scored three goals in back to back games for 18 months. So plenty of positives.
Naturally there will be some renewed exciteable talk of the play-offs. It is the Boro way. Forget it, we are 17 points adrift. Even with title form we would need results to go our way to scrape into sixth. Let’s just concentrate on staying up.
Two tough games coming up against QPR and Forest. If we can show the same determination and resilience and if we can engineer some goals then we may scrape some points from those games. If we do it should be considered a big bonus – but there is still a lot of work to be done with an anorexic squad after that to guarantee safety.


78 thoughts on “Zemmama’s the Daddy…..

  1. I will bring my wife over to England in April, too. In total that is around £1,200 without tickets to matches or any food or drinks – for two persons. She will join me to matches, of course.
    Up the Boro!

  2. I have just watched the Boro get slaughtered by Portsmouth 4-0 06/07 season and I now realise why we were relegated – the difference between the Manchester United win and the loss to Portsmouth was dramatic.
    The only TV time Boro are getting in Australia at present is in these classic match flash backs to bygone years, but at least it shows why we are no longer a Premiership team.
    There are many teams in the Championship who are playing good attractive attacking football and we will do very well if we can eventually work our way to the top of this league. A quality ball playing mid fielder is a must and I hope Zemmama can fill the bill in this regard.
    Boyd may at last start to score if supplied by a quality player able to pass the ball into the open space with a weighted ball, rather than the long ball method which does not suit his style of play.
    When we bought Boyd it was known that he was not a worker only a goal poacher, so if we can afford to play Boyd with Zemmma we may yet see the best of him.
    When I think of the way Boyd plays he reminds me Jimmy Greaves, Jimmy would be missing from the action for most of the match then pop up and score the winner on numerous occasions. So if we can accept this style of play from a striker, he may come good.

  3. After the Palace match, which I hated and swore enough’s enough, I ventured to the New Den and after about 20 mins or so wished I’d stayed at home. What an exciting second half though and a tremendous if unexpected result.
    I might now travel along the coast to Pompey in March. Nice to see some genuine ball playing skills from Zemmama and I thought Davies did ok. You know what you’re likely to get with him. And in fairness, I didn’t think he was that bad in his previous stint at Boro, at least until he was forced to play out of position at full back as I recall.
    First trip to the New Den, last time I was at Millwall was to see Brighton thrash them at the old Den back in the 70’s. Great day because Sussex also won the Gillette cup the same Saturday.
    I remember the club (Brighton) advising fans not to travel, so awful was Millwalls reputation then.
    There was only a dozen or so Albion supporters there and as it happened no trouble.Seems little has changed at the club, they really are as bad as any supporters in the country.
    I note the Gazette today is asking for any supportes known to have been causing trouble on Saturday to be banned sine die. Hopefully that includes the idiot of a manager Kenny Jackett who all but condoned the behavior.
    Anyway, for the most part an enjoyable Saturday in south London. Up the Boro.

  4. Haven’t seen any words of praise for young Steele amidst the incidents at Millwall but apparently he had the final say on whether the players stayed on ior went off.
    Press coverage has tended to concentrate on the missiles thrown at the linesman but say Steele was on the receiving end too and he was more exposed than the linesman. How bad was it where he was?
    So credit the young man for standing up to them and seeing us through to the right result in the end.

  5. Well done Boro, third time of asking. Hope you can achieve what we did at beginning of year and go nine better, 15 games unbeaten. We could be the ones who silently creep up to a final play-off position,while the top six are concentrating on each other.
    Let’s have wins against QPR, Forest and reading. NO FEAR! Well done to all players who played and passed and conquered at The Den. Bring on the next teams and start looking too finish the season on a winning positive mentality.
    Well Done Mowbray And Venus and the rest of the back room staff! You’ve made me eat my hat!

  6. Benny Brown –
    Dont blame it all on Strachan. Gate, Gibbo and Lamb deserve their fair share of the praise.
    Stricken didnt exactly cover himself in glory as just not halt the slide. Think of all the money wasted that had to be recouped when we went down. Mismanagement got us relegated, all Strachan did was continue the process.
    Gate got rid of a lot of the local lads plus experience to bring in expensive flops. Strickens failures were relatively cheap in comparison.

  7. So what did Mowbray do at Half-time? My mole* tells me ‘he didn’t scream and shout, just looked us all in the eye and asked ‘are you capable of doing this?’
    Think about that. You are in the dressing room, getting beat after last weeks late shambles and your boss says ‘are you capable of this?’
    Some week pea hearted teams my have thought ‘no we are not’ but we came out in the second half a different team. AV do you have anymore in sights into Moggas mental machinations?
    What a great effort, you should contact the fanzine, Fly me to the moon, the club and the er

.what’s it called

the local paper. Sounds like a good story. I think you should contact the club they might offer a freebie of a tour or something.
    Whilst you are over here I hope you have some other cultural delights lined up as no doubt the football will probably disappoint.
    *my source: EG’s deadly rival the Echo


  8. Very efficient management by Tony Mowbray: one free transfer and one loan signing filling two gaps to great effect. Further more we are starting to look formidable away from home.

  9. While Lita continues to score we’re not going to see Boyd are we? If we have a striker who puts in as shift and scores every second game boyd is redundant I would have thought.
    jiffy –
    You’re right, Steele deserves a lot of praise, not only for standing up to the bottle throwing idiots but also for playing so well and not letting last weeks criticism effect him.
    Good to see Davies play well to, some on here might not rate him, but as a stop gap he seems pretty decent to me.
    I’m not sure by the way that Mogga’s tactics are to out score the opposition, I dont think he’s that gung ho. At the moment we have an inexperienced wobbly defence, fortunately we seem to be scoring a few to compensate.

  10. I predict a draw against QPR but Forest will give us a good hiding, they always do. I remember 0-5 for Big Jack’s team,and they have that Earnshaw guy who loves playing against us.
    Saw Grounds a couple of times playing for Hibs (where he got dropped),he was awful, too slow and too small, He will never make a centre back,in any league he plays in
    On the positive if we can get some of the injured players back they will be fresh for the important run in. That’s the time when teams start getting tired and if you have a small squad could end up in trouble

  11. Those of us with long memories will recall Arsene Whingers response in the season we were deducted three points.
    I seem to remember hime being posed the question about ManU (and us) having four games in eight days to finish the season and replying along the lines of ”stop moaning and get on with it”.
    His memory is nearly as short as his eyesight.

  12. Yeah nice one gt. Have you been reminding AV. Every other tweet of his #onthisboroday seems to be a chronicle of defeats against them. There was another one over the weekend!!!
    Serously if you are not on Twitter, get on and just read AV’s updates it’s all the football news you need
    or check me out @ihateruddyforest
    **AV writes: twiitter.com – @untypicalboro …. for all your ‘f’ word needs.

  13. When are Celtic going to thank us for financing their resurgence? You’d think they would at least have a “Boro Day”, where at least the Boro Mascot could lead them out

  14. Jarkko –
    a report on the Aurora in due course would be great. Here about Teesside the sky has been grey and cloudy for a few days, so even in the unlikely event of a particularly southern Aurora, you wouldn’t get to see it!
    The north of Scotland is much more likely to get a show than the north of England – the top is maybe 400 miles north of Teesside as the crow flies (ie in a straight line) – but the weather forecast up there for the next week is cloudy and rainy!
    Good to hear you are coming to England for some games in April. The best place(s) to see Boro fans before a home game? I suppose that would generally mean one of the pubs in central Middlesbrough itself.
    And as regards places in and around the ground for an immediately pre-match pint (or a post-match one), I have no doubt fellow posters on here will provide the details in the next day or so. I tend not to drink in central Middlesbrough or near the ground itself because I (and a couple of mates) drive in together from North Yorkshire and therefore have a quiet pint in one of our local pubs before the journey in, and we come back to the pub for a debrief after the game.
    In order that the beer/wine/lager/foodie cognoscenti on this blog can provide the information you require, can you let us know:
    1. The town/village where you will be staying (you might want a drink, or a meal outside the centre of Boro during your stay).
    2. What is your favourite tipple? Lager (ie a yellow, coldish, sometimes gassy “beer”) or real ale (ie can be a range of colours but often more brown, less cool and not gassy – a “live” product)? Or maybe wine and/or spirits like a malt whisky?
    3. Some pubs from outlying towns have a coach coming into Boro for the game, so drinkers can meet in their favourite pub for a few drinks, then be transported in for the game, and back again for a pint or two to “warm down” after the game before heading off home (or out for the night). You might have to pay a few quid for the pleasure but it means you can have a drink and not have to worry about driving.
    If you can answer 1 + 2 above, it may be that contributors can provide some suggestions for your April visit, and depending on the town where you are intending to stay, they might suggest a pub or two that organises transport to the match.
    **AV writes: Maybe it would be a good excuse to arrange a blog beano? I think we are getting to know each other well enough to share a convivial ale or two.

  15. Ian Gill –
    Strachan destroyed the confidence of the young Academy players by telling them they were only boys in a mans world. Strachan replaced the players on the books who were doing quite well before he arrived with a group of Scottish players who were not up to Championship standards.
    Strachan had been out of the game too long and when he was in the game he was not what you could call a top notch manager by any stretch of the imagination.
    The first principal of a successful manager is one who can make his players believe they are better than they actually are, Strachan’s total disregard of these principals was a recipe for disaster and we found ourselves in the worst position we have been in for the last twenty years or more.
    So please do not make excuses to me about this useless manager, who has set himself up as TV pundit. The TV stations must be crazy to employ him in this roll, when considering his record of running a football team.

  16. Shame we wont be playing Tottenham Hotspur when the beano arrives.
    A pity Hodgson isnt atill at Blacburn because he could have been Roy of the Rovers.
    Let us just hope we are Victor(s)

  17. Blog beano? My vocabulary don’t know what is ‘beano’ but from the content I would say yes. In fact honored. So I would be delighted to meet a few fellow bloggers and the great blogmeister himself.
    Traditionally all beers are lager over here. But my stomach don’t like more than 2 to 3 pints a night so I usually switch to vine after a few. I don’t know real ale very well – but willing to learn! I love Belgian ales that are light in body – and called sometimes “white beer”.
    I used to stay at a friend in Great Ayton several times but as he has passed away I need to find a new base. I have found a B&B in Yarm. I have never been to Yarm before but there seem a nice High Street and some shopping facilities for Mrs Jarkko. Anyway she’s keen on footy and seen Boro a few times before.
    Up the Boro!

  18. A Blog Beano? That would be fun, we could sit in the pub and debate whether or not the glass was half full or half empty! I’d be up for it, depending on when Jarrko was around in April.

  19. Benny Brown –
    Strachan was like my nether end, best covered up. He turned out to a very poor manager.
    To blame it all on him is wrong.
    Lamb, Gibbo and Gate got us relegated with a mountain of debt.
    The same motley crew disposed of a lot of academy kids and replaced them by high earning, high fee, wastes of space.
    Strachan deserves all the kickings you can give him and I have dished a few in his direction myself but our current plight isnt all his fault. That is all I am saying.
    If you want I will list the criticisms I have levelled at him during his disastrous tenure but as with the Unholy Trinity I only level criticsms they deserve

  20. I agree with Benny Brown’s accurate criticism of Strachan. Ian Gill, as ever, you are are reasonable and perceptive in most of your comments on this blog, but Strachan deserves the harshest criticism because of the sarcastic and often sexist way he went about to alienate supporters and journalists, asking genuine questions about the club and the team.
    I cannot think of one redeeming quality or action he brought during his tenure at the club. He belongs to the past and should be discarded as such.
    Of course in his unreconstructed view of the world of football we have to thank Mr Lamb for this appointment aided and abetted by Gibson.They are both good judges of character!! I think not. No wonder Tony is carrying the club on his own, the other two have seen their credibility shredded

  21. Dennis –
    Dont get me wrong about Strachan being very poor but there is a danger in letting people off the hook. When he was really rude to the reporter I was the first to voice criticism of his style and could see no way back.
    To just blame Gate for relegation would be unfair because Gibbo and Lamb were the experienced shoulders that he wa supposed to be leaning on.
    MacMoses was allowed to fill the squad with ageing expensive players that meant gate was given the poisoned chalice.
    The mismanagement of the club is the root cause of our current situation. Strachan didnt appoint Strachan. That was the point I was trying to get across to Benny.

  22. Denis –
    agree with you 100% but one thing Gorden did do was walk away without taking the money. In our current state i think this was the only way we could afford TM.

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