Brittle Boro Strike Brum Note

BUGGER! Brummie Bull Ring botherers bully brittle Boro in scrappy slapstick swearmageddon soft-centred show lacking heart, energy and teeth. Grrrrrrrrr.
Three defeats in a row to bottom eight sides of limited ability but far more functional form. Three lack-lustre and low-tempo and low-thrills shows from a side lacking confidence and any sign of a spark. Grrrrrr.

Looking back, for all their empty huffing and puffing, Boro had some good spells of sustained pressure and plenty of chances. Scott McDonald twice got into the box but failed to hit the target, a siege of second half corners couldn’t force a way through as George Friend put one looping header onto the roof of the net and Jonathan Woodgate had another blocked at the post. Then Adam Reach – “the dissidents’ icon”- sent a speculative ball bouncing through the box that sent Butland scrambling across to tip from the far top corner. Plus one that went in but was offside. Grrrr.
Birmingham were just as bad but several times caught Boro on the break, took advantage of some comical/suicidal defensive errors and forced two good saves from Jason Steele before a player who shouldn’t even have been on the pitch scored. High rise hitman Nikola Zigic had already been booked when he committed a deliberate handball which caused the ref to go and talk to him but he somehow escaped a second yellow. Naturally he was the one that stumbled the ball home soon after. Grrrrrrr.
It was very, very diisappointing – as much for the apparent lack of passion and drive and urgency as the defeat – and any play-off hopes are disappearing rapidly over the horizon for a side that has shrivelled into mediocrity in a matter of months. And no doubt the frustrated spleen-venting will intensifyas we have a festering two week international break now to tear ourselves apart in. Grrrrr.
“Sprinkle some ra-ra fairy dust on that [expletive deleted], Vickers” I was challenged on twitter. I won’t be doing that. There is very little that can be said in mitigation after such a poor show. But the result and the continued slither away from the play-offs – and the anguish of seeing a season of early promise evaporate – doesn’t change the big picture.
The chairman will continue to back the manager because the club are midway through a long term rebuilding project which is, recent results aside, making steady and important progress off the pitch. The foundations are slowly but steadily being rebuilt, the finances have been restructured and the key people in the club share a perspective for the short to medium future. A kneejerk bout of emotional demands for dug-out blood-letting as an appeasement for fans frustrated at the fizzling out will not serve the club well.


64 thoughts on “Brittle Boro Strike Brum Note

  1. Without a plan there is always chaos, so we have to believe in the long term re-structure give or take 5 years from Mowbray’s appointment. I can buy into that.
    What irritates is the form in the first half as against the form in the second with the same players and same, apparently, gung-ho dressing room moral. Somebody isn’t being completely honest regards this dressing room because my thoughts are by now we would be out of this nose dive.
    The Leeds and Cardiff results were evidence of what Boro are still capable of. The will to fight for each other; how does this get turned on and off so easily? Don’t profess to be as clued up as others just puzzled, and irritated.
    **AV writes: You often get that in unbalanced sides that are mentally weak in some areas. Look at the Boro team that got to two Wembley finals but also got relegated. They would raise themselves for some games for others. The same things happens to a couple of teams every year.

  2. This season is almost like a compressed version of the boom years. Up until Christmas (at least this season) we possibly played above ourselves and if the general consensus is that the squad look tired, then that may possibly be the problem.
    Maybe Mogga over reached his resources early on, if the current points tally had been reached on a more consistent basis then maybe people would be more accepting of where we are.
    What non of us can predict is the effect of the FFP rules, this affects every team. Our Academy has to be in a strong position because if the chat is that homegrown players cant get a look in at the bigger academies then that leaves the Boro in a position to at least be an outlet?
    Thje one variable in all this is the on field performances and how that attracts (or not) bums back onto seats. If one thing the ticket offers have shown is that people will come back for a cheapie, only with a faint hope of the team winning, so that must be a pointer.
    I do think there have been some valid points about SG’s learning curve as well, but maybe we should give Mogga more than a fair shout to turn things around. He doesn’t inspire with passionate latino outburst, but then again he is from Saltburn.
    He isnt infected with the Teesside apathy or bag of chips on his shoulders as the rest of us, so let his dour no nonsense approach see if it can gringd out a positive future for the club, because thats what it needs, someone with proper backbone, a rod of steel to keep going no matter what, he has been the only manager in recent history that has exhibited that trait.
    He has stripped down and rebuilt, no-one since Rioch has had to do that, and I know he was a folklore fave, but he was limited in what he could and would achieve.
    If one thing is needed now, its for the fans and supporters to take a long look in the mirror – use two of them, have a look and see if you have the backbone as well. Stop being the victim. If you feel guilty about the amount of cash your spending on the team, dont blame them for that.
    Apart from a few good years, Boro are around abouts their natural position, get used to it, people of a certain age know this to be true. If you’re a true supporter then whether you come or not, this is your team. If the current team embarrasses you or doesn’t fullfil your glory quota then you picked the wrong team to support.
    The post Christmas slump….is that real or do we sometimes over achieve in the autumn? Or is something said at the clubs’ Christmas party that plants the seed of defeat? It happens often enough for someone to investigate, sports psychology is a complex subject built around simple solutions, somebody somewhere is talking up defeat…..who is it?

  3. I really am at a loss to explain the current form. If anything, we actually have more key players fit for action than we did pre-christmas.
    The obvious answer to the sudden defensive frailty would be the lack of anything approaching a settled back four. Of course, this has been a problem since last summer and we managed reasonably well up until the turn of the year. Individual errors have been widespread of late, but there is no real reason why it should effect half a dozen players collectively.
    I do wonder if these people calling for Mogga’s head of late were of a similar opinion last season. I refuse to believe that a manager with his experience has suddenly become terrible at his job, anymore than the same 20 odd players who looked so good for the first few months of the season are now nailed-on relegation candidates as some of the “doyles” would have us believe.
    There are a couple of people on here who have questioned Mowbrays signings so far. So let’s have a look:
    Carayol and Friend were signed for a combined fee of around £270K. To put that into perspective, GS2 spent £0.5M on Tarmo Kink….
    Players brought in for free ? Leadbitter, Ledesma, Haroun, Bikey, Woodgate, Main and Dyer.
    GS2 brought in Killen and Flood on free transfers, both on old firm wages. I would suggest that Mogga has done quite a bit better there as well.
    Mogga has only been given a big sum to spend on a player once. Jutkiewicz cost around £1.2m and has 10 goals this season. Macdonald cost £3.2m and has 12 so far. Considering that the Juke is probably on a third of Scottie’s wages, that looks like reasonable value to me.
    My point is that while none of Moggas signings would walk into the Chelsea side right now, he has done well with limited resources. I’m sure that we could easily sell on Friend, Carayol or Main for a considerable profit should the club have the inclination.
    There are fans on here and other forums that accuse the club and it’s staff of living on another planet, while at the same time expecting every signing made by the club to have the impact of a Michu. I’m sorry guys, but you need to accept that there is no guarantee with recruitment. Some will be a hit, and others a miss.
    If we look at the recent signings on a purely value for money scale, it’s hard to argue that any have been a real disaster. If you disagree then I will throw a few names your way. Mido, Alves or Digard anyone ? Nope, suddenly we are not doing too badly after all !
    Next season will see further upheaval. McManus, Arca, Bailey and Dyer will all be out of contract, and it is highly unlikely any of those will be here at the end of the summer. If those big wages are released and they are replaced by guys of equal talent (and on similar wages) to Friend, Carayol and Main then we will not have done particularly badly. The squad may not have been significantly strengthened, but equally, I would argue that it will not be significantly weaker either.
    I’m fully aware that none of those guys are world beaters, but neither are £3.2m McDonald or £1.5m Bailey in all honesty.
    I actually think a squad of less prominent names will be a blessing to the club. It is a lot easier for the crowd to forgive someone like Main for putting an easy chance over the bar from 10 yards, than it is someone like McDonald earning over a million pounds per year.
    As others have pointed out already, the club tried to play down expectations over the summer and have been a victim of their own (relative) success so far. Would we be seeing the same hostility towards the manager and club if they had started the season badly, then improved into the form shown pre-christmas ? I would doubt it.
    No idea if I will be seen as a ‘Ra-Ra’ for adding a little reasoned realism to the blog, much like our esteemed blog author. When I see a blog pointing out how rubbish the last display was, only for Vic to be accused of being the club’s mouthpiece by some contributors on here, I wonder if they even bother reading it prior to adding their comments !

  4. Ian Gill –
    In over fifty years of watching Boro, I still say Souness was the best player ever to wear the shirt,and I say that because apart from his brilliant passing ability and his influence on the team ,the rest of the league where frightened to death of him,
    Also, since 1960, I’d been watching clobber then kick and run. He was probably the first to get it down and use the ball intelligently. The only one anywhere near him before that might have been Ian Gibson

  5. Steve McClaren might not have been everyone’s favourite Boro manager but he was by far the most successful we have ever had. Also IIRC his teams did not suffer from post-Christmas slumps. I wonder what might have been if England had not come calling at such an unsettling time.
    Football never ceases to surprise. So far this year our surprises have been of the kind we would not have wanted.
    I am not putting any money on Boro winning what would be 9 out of the last 11 games and returning to the Premiership but sequences like that are built one game at a time. Here’s hoping for a win at Wolves.

  6. gt –
    I concur, Souness is certainly the best player I’ve ever seen play for Boro in the 40 years I’ve been watching. I would say that in that time he’s the only world class player to play for the club. I’d pay £350 just for one ticket to be at the dinner just for the privilege of meeting him.

  7. Souness for me too. He wasn’t with us for that long so, if the measure was how much he contributed to Boro, then I would pick several players ahead of him. But, mainly judged by what Souness achieved after leaving Boro, he was the best to wear the shirt in my 50 years.
    I saw Wilf Mannion but that was just a testimonial (Gordon Jones?) so can’t be counted.
    I remember seeing Souness in his later years with Rangers and his passing range was phenomenal. If he was that good then, what must he have been like at his peak with Sampdoria? He was great at Liverpool but I think Italy stretched him and he found new dimensions to his game. No pace and not much of a header but long passing, short passing, tackling, shooting – he had it all.
    Another one down to the great club servant Harold Shepherdson. Souness arrived from Spurs as an ‘inside forward’ (remember them?) and it was Jack Charlton who realised his potential by playing him deeper.

  8. From the Gazette website…
    TONY Mowbray believes he’s got the full backing of chairman Steve Gibson.”
    Believes? Doesn’t he know? Or is Guy fishing for the dreaded “Vote of confidence?”

  9. Gt –
    Third attempt as they keep disappearing.
    Sounness was the best player of his era, no doubt about that.
    Like NikeBoro I only saw Mannion in testimonials so not a fair comparison. After Wilfie, Cloughie’s scoring record is remarkable. Modern fans would say TLF.
    All top players but Souness had that dog of war allied to great skill.
    Now as for why I mentioned Souey, it was because I had read sundry mentions about Mogga’s future elsewhere on the Gazette site and clicked on to MFC and up popped ‘Souey’s boro return’
    Difficult across the generations.

  10. A couple of days away in London lends some perspective to our plight.
    Enjoyed reading all the comments, shrewd, perceptive but no one touched on the rumours Iheard circulating the ground on Saturday that player disruption, disharmony are the reasons for this prolonged slump.
    As they are rumours they will be denied or ignored but whilst football teams of all shades lose a sequence of matches this decline has been too prolonged for such an explanation not to be considered plausible.
    We will never know but looking at the body language of players last weekend they are not a happy bunch and in need of something stronger than the dour realism that Mogga has to offer.
    As for gt, spot on regarding Ian Gibson and Souness- exceptionally talented midfield players in their days.You just long for someone now with their aggression and ability. Alas no.
    **AV writes: Of course the players are not happy.They have lost 10 out of 13. They are not getting win bonuses. They are all blaming everyone else rather than accept they are also responsible for the team playing rubbish. There’s no need to embellish it.
    Whenever a club is struggling supporters trade in ever more lurid rumours – partly out of anxiety, partly out mischeif, partly just off a need to connect to the zeigeist – and they are almost always clearly nonsense.
    Never mind, we’ll be alright when the Viduka insurance money comes through.

  11. As a multi sports fan I rely on other sports to give some relief when Boro lose.
    Driving back, the test match looked like a draw but at least I had the choice between the phone in and Wales v England on the radio.
    Neither provided any comfort, both wilting with little fight. Listening to radio 5 tonight with the England rugby team I found out who was the sports trick cyclist who helped with preparations.
    Roll of drums, clash of cymbals. None other than Bill Baldrick.

  12. OK we’ve tried to rationalise the problems Boro have faced and will face but still whatever angle or spin we put on 2013 it’s still a shocking sequence of results.
    Even if the final points total only falls a little short of pre-season expectations we can’t really put the dismal run to one side. Let’s face it, even relegation form would have probably just about seen us make the play-offs. In reality our form equates to roughly 25pts for a whole season and no team is ever that bad, especially one with a £16m wage bill (minus win bonuses of course).
    Unfortunately Mogga still can’t put his finger on what has happened but believes he has the confidence of Steve Gibson to rebuild (deconstruct?) for next season – but he first needs to decide the reason why previous recruits failed to deliver when it counted before he starts shopping (bartering?) again, otherwise what will stop the same happening for a third year?
    Perhaps he’s just being diplomatic and knows more than he’s prepared to say. I’m not saying there’s a conspiracy to speculate on but I’m sure, like with Kevin Thomson, many of the players he hoped would do a job have not passed the test.
    Right now he’s in a difficult position as many supporters no longer believe in him . So if he decides to pick a team with next season in mind (by which I mean more Academy kids) and the team starts winning he will also be damned for seeing the light too late. So what does he do? I can only think it makes sense now to see if the youngsters are ready, plus give them some experience together – he needs to know now what they could do next term.
    In theory the next two games against relegation fodder would normally be winnable but do the players have any belief left? Does anybody? I’m afraid it’s still up to the management to show they can pick a team to do so. Despite it’s failings it should be possible to start afresh and pick players who have the spirit to win – otherwise where is the value in paying £16m if it doesn’t retained even a fraction of it’s worth.
    **AV writes: It comes down to the players, not in belief, but in actual practice. Had Scott McDonald put either of his one-on-ones in the box away Boro would have beaten Birmingham. That is not a tactical problem but a technical one.

  13. AV –
    More pertinent than McDonald putting one of his one on ones away is why we have created so few such opportunities since Christmas. Suarez, Van Persie et al all miss them. No striker scores more than one in four chances.
    More pertinent is the lack of tempo in our play, our poor defending at set pieces, our brittleness, our lack of penetration, our lack of recognisable shape and structure.

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