THE FAT Lass is gargling and doing scales backstage. Supporters are actually enjoying and looking forward to games again. A demob happy massed Red Army is making plans to meet up for a pint of Trapdoor Dancer at the Riverside Bar in Sheffield’s Mowbray Street and the bookies have made Boro far flung 50-1 outsiders to go down.
Someone tell the Gazetteshire public.
The excellent and informative (I’m legally obliged to say that) gazettlive.co.uk asked on Monday in its ‘poll of the day’ the simple question: Are Boro safe?
Incredibly, despite Boro’s recent resilience and enterprise taking them safely into upper mid-table of the form table, a healthy ten point cushion, a game in hand and far superior goal difference plus by far the most generous fixture run-in from the bottom half, almost two thirds of the emotionally battle-scarred, habitually cautious, half-empty cynical voters slipped gloomily into the Chicken-runner default and clicked ‘no.’
At the time of writing the on-line results were: Yes, safe as houses, bring it on, chillax 35.5%; No, we’re all going to die, typical Boro, you watch,Hartlepool here we come 64.5%
Now, I’m no ra-ra. I know the limitations of the squad, understand the financial limitations and see the weaknesses quite clearly and have pointed them out here and in print more times than emough this season. At times I have laboured under the weight of the dark cloud of nagativity myself and give them a real hammering. In the traumatic last few weeks of the disintegrating ancien regime I was convinced that trying to swim wearing the Strachan strait-jacket had only one outcome. Send for the frogmen.
But those days are long gone. Under Tony Mowbray it is a different team. The football is better, results are better, there are more goals, the team can win away, it can come from behind and it can dig in. There is shape and spirit and belief on and off the pitch while the walking wounded are starting to return. We can hold our own in this league now. We can mix it with the likes of Millwall, Portsmouth and Leicester.
And the teams below us are all truely awful. It is a very poor division. Most of those who seriously think the new improved Boro are relegation fodder are suffering from selective myopia and only looking at their own teams flaws (and possibly measuring them the fast fading Premier League highwater mark) while willfully ignoring exactly how woeful are the teams around us.
We said months ago that the Championship survival mark is generally agreed as 51 points. Only once in a decade – from 30 relegated teams – has anyone gone down with more than that.
A couple more points is needed for absolute belt and braces but 51 will do it. Do you really think this rejuvenated Boro can’t clock up six points in eight games? Really? With our form and Barnsley, Coventry and Doncaster – all in the bottom third – to play at home? And Sheffield United and Hull away? Really?
More to the point, do you also think Sheffield United and/or Preston can overhaul a 10 point gap? That they can suddenly, inexplicably hit title form and win four games more than Boro do in their last eight? The chances of that freak upturn happening to most objective observers would be very slim. But if you think it is possible, or probable, get your Danny Graham winnings on at 50s. Easy money.
Here’s the BBC predictor for you to play with, to invent bleak scenarios and do mathematical models or possible points permutations.