IT WAS A disappointing but fitting end to the season. When chances presented themselves Boro could not score. They had a good first half but faded in their second and when the pressure and stakes rose in the final stages they lost their shape, their composure and their way. When they were on top they could not score. Then when they were chasing the game they were caught napping.
GO ON then…. give me your apocalyptic ‘typical Boro’ D-Day double decider scenario. There’s literally hundreds of possible permutations of calamitous cock-ups, creative chipped shoulder conspiracies and poor innocent victim of the shifting sands of football fate to chose from. Here’s mine:
TYPICAL Boro! Leave it until the last game of the season to deliver a fiesty explosion of hope and excitement after a season of home-o-phobic freezing and frustration why don’t you? Twist the knife and shatter our dreams against Doncaster and dump morale on rock bottom before delivering the performance of the season when all seems lost. What a cruel and perverse team, torturing us and dragging out the agony.
As usual Boro, the team through the Looking Glass, do everything the wrong way round. Stumble to relegated Rovers after failing to deal with the expectations of being favourites, then when it all looks hopeless, take apart the rampant side that battered Boro down at their place and who were coming here as a formality. As at Cardiff last term, we are at our best as party poppers when we are underdogs.
And on telly too. Fantastic. Mission Impossible is back on. I’m still buzzing.
CAN Boro still do it? What do you think? Four points adrift, two to play, rampant Rugby League-alikes Southampton up next to play a demoralised and toothless Boro who can’t score past a team who have shipped 77 goals this season and who are one paced and one dimensional at home, live on TV and with the season possibly terminated before kick-off. In front of a cynical and seething crowd who are looking for scapegoats and even starting to chunter at the manager. I’m not really selling it to you am I?
We needed to tear into them from the off, crush them ruthlessly and show we had the bloody killer instinct with a display that would win over a far from convinced Riverside crowd and launch a do-or-die final assault. Instead we got a meek and flaccid display that lacked not just creative
CURTIS Main’s Derby Rams raid could be the spark that ignites an explosive final flourish to a stuttering season.
Certainly, if Boro now manage to claw back into the play-off shake-off in the last three games, Main’s electric strike will go down in terrace folk-lore as the Roy of the Rovers moment that revived a flagging campaign.
THE ANNUAL Riverside fashion shoot took place this week. The players reckoned most likely to be still here next year and so eligible for the catalogue picture but least likely to annoy the punters because of their performances, injury record or reputed wages – that Venn diagram sub-set is maybe LukeyJuke, Bennttinho and the Dormo Destroyer plus Steeley for the keeper’s kit – modelled the trendy new look Boro shirts for next season. Okay, it’s not Mrs Karembeu but that’s where we are as a club these days.
My guess is that the home kit will be predominantly red with some prominent white fashion feature currently available on an Adidas template and that has a little bit of an echo of our historic Above Average White Band. Or possibly a yoke. Or epulettees. Or lightning flash. You know the drill. And I’m guessing the away kit will be something that isn’t black.
While we are waiting for the traditional well sourced leak from a bloke who knows a players’ brother, the grainy badly lit phone camera snatch picture and the series of mock-ups of mooted merchandise sponsored by Cleveland Cable, Virgin or Irn Bru, here’s something to play with – and one I did earlier.
BORO went from heroes to zeroes in a damaging defeat at Hull.
From a commanding position they let a limited side on a nightmare run – in this case five defeats on the spin – wriggle off the hook. They lost their fluidity, their shape, their focus and gifted a goal to let Hull back in it then naturally, we all know the script, were caught cold with a sickening late strike. Which has been the story of a frustrating season.
They took zero points in a pivotal pair of play-off battles with fellow outside promotion pretenders over the crucial Easter weekend.
They have a damning zero goal difference after the familiar flaws at both ends reared their heads to add up to flat-lining stats.
And, to judge by the heavy post match sigh of resignation on the Teesside street, they are now seen as having zero chance of extending a wilting season into May.
BUGGER. And I wasn’t going to swear. After the massive build up with rallying cries and bold statements of intent and big talk about mental toughness and natural winners who could handle the big games in the play-off pressure cooker, brittle Boro just wilted.
It was an opportunity to ignite the flagging season, galvanise the home support and launch Boro back into the play-off frame. And it went begging. Boro may just have missed their best chance to shape their destiny and ensure the season finished on a high.
THIS WEEK’S Big Picture column discusses why Boro can’t afford to take a chance on a £10 ticket and number-crunches the increasing role gate money plays in the club’s reduced revenues in the Championship. It has some interesting facts and figures in it about the fixed costs of running the matchday operation, the take per head per ticket and the delicate balance between season ticket income and walk up crowds.
Obviously, as usual the paper platform is exclusively downloadable at newsagents across Gazetteshire today but I’ll reformat it, polish and tweak it and stick it up on here later in the week. In the meantime here are some questions to mull over and get you in the zone on ticket prices and attendances. Have a go at one or more.
*Realistically, what is the optimum ticket price for Championship football?
*Realistically, what is Boro’s current fan-base in the Championship?
*Realistically, how many bums on seats would be added by a price reduction?
*Realistically, what ticket/price/package initiatives could the club try that would significantly increase gates as more than just a one off?
*Is the current fall in crowds about price or about the lowering of status?
*Are results and perceived ambition more important than price?
*Is there a missing generation of post-Juninho Riverside Revolutionaries just waiting to be lured back? And should we pander to them?
*What size club are the current Boro? What level SHOULD we be operating at?
*Has the dramatic post-Premier League fall in income been successfully managed? Could it have been far worse? Are we now stable and ready to push on again?
*Has Teesside now got “the club it can afford?”
UPDATE: Read on for this week’s Big Picture column…