Mountain Problems For Fragile Boro

SEND for a NASA numbercruncher! With form, fixtures and the upward trajectory of teams nearby and below, Boro’s already slender play-off prospects now exist only in the rarified realm of theoretical mathematical modelling.
Tony Mowbray admitted his side now had “a mountain to climb” after Wolves. It was a fourth successive defeat to poor teams frantically clawing their way out of the relegation zone. Expect Boro to run out wearing crampons on Tuesday against a revived Peterborough who have just completed a double against Cardiff.

It was a crazy game in a crazy league that is totally unpredictable. Well, not quite. It is becoming not just predictable but mandatory that Boro dominate teams for long spells but fail to kill them off. Mandatory that they will spurn chances, Mandatory that they will get caught on the break, be punished for slack marking at set-plays, allow free headers, fail to mark, fail to clear. Just fail really. Depressingly predictable.
Wolves fans and press were laughing with glee at the end. They thought they had “got lucky” because in the first half they had ridden their luck in what had been a very scrappy half. Boro were poor but they had the best of the game.
At the break they had scored both goals, rattled the woodwork three times and missed two, maybe three sitters. Boro were really going for it but Hoyte and Carayol hit the bar (as did Leadbitter but his bounced down and in, just ), McDonald failed to connect 10 yards out, Jutkiewicz drilled an angled shot straight at the keeper and a cross hit Adam Reach and spooned wide. One more goal from that lot and Boro may well have run riot and a poor Wolves team would have folded.
Then three minutes into the second half Wolves carved Boro open, a Ebanks-Blake backheel sending Sigurdarson skipping through to dance past McManus and round Steele and slot home and suddenly Boro wobbled and disintegrated. Yes, they pulled another back through a second Leadbitter rocket but the momentum was gone and around him the team was imploding into a shapeless, fractured, fragile collection of individuals and revived Wolves were asking all the questions.
Steele had to make a string of saves to keep Boro in it and George Friend cleared off the line. But a a glacial defence dithered and eventually cracked, allowing Kevin Doyle time and space to punish Boro with a free header after a long throw was flicked on and dropped into a packed box. It was woeful. But predictable.
It is easy to retro-slag the boss and talk about formations but the shape was not the problem. The formation ‘worked’. Boro created a dozen chances and six really good ones but just could not score. And at the other end they easily contained a limited side for 48 minutes then disintegrated.
That’s not about tactics or tempo or shape or set-up. That’s about poor play from flawed individuals who are suffering from a lack of confidence after a nightmare riun and who crack under pressure. That’s what we were told to expect from Wolves too.
So; six points adrift of the play-off and even with the gerousity and ineptitude of our peers it would take a freak sequence of results to keep the door open much longer. And, panic fans, just nine points from the drop zone with some tough fixtures looming.
Still, Schadenfreude is the official beer of the football fan so at least we can take some secondary comfort from the far more spectacular implosion of Sunderland and the end of the ‘Party with Marty’ and the enhanced prospects of a derby game next year.
Everest the hard way. Pass the oxygen.


42 thoughts on “Mountain Problems For Fragile Boro

  1. “And, panic fans, just nine points from the drop zone with some tough fixtures looming.”
    Lets not joke about that just yet… :/

  2. Three things
    1. I agree with BabelFish…don’t tempt fate; let’s keep looking up not down
    2. I don’t know if Boro employ a sports psychologist but, seriously – if they do they should make a change now, if they don’t they should bring in the best now
    3. We all know that the difference between success and failure is measured in inches. Sometimes success can appear miles away when in fact it is actually incredibly close
    The same team looked strong and resilient earlier in the season. Now the confidence has gone and they look fragile. I don’t know how united the squad still us, or whether there are personality problems behind the scenes, but strength is acquired through adversity: some of the players will learn and grow through this experience, others might not and will go, but I’m confident TM will learn, adapt and improve next season
    We have to be patient, persevere and play our part by getting behind the team when they need our support the most

  3. 1 clean sheet in 2013, the fragilities at the back exposed as early as New Years Day, Hastings and Aldershot both bagged goals at the Riverside, Barnsley got 3 and the Tractor Boys eased 4 past us at Portman road.
    In response we sign (drum roll please, drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr dum tsh!) Dyer and Ameobi. A stroke of genius don’t you think? They should patch up the more than leaky defence. Hmmmm…..
    Perhaps the worst Boro team in nearly 30 years? Discuss……
    (Happy Easter by the way)

  4. Forgot to add to my last post the daftness of the laws.
    Leadbitter got a leathering and the Wolves player a deserved booking. The Boro player has to leave the field following treatment so we take the free kick with ten men on the pitch.
    Wolves clear it and break past Grant still stood waiting to be signalled to come back on. Once Wolves were attacking our area the ref waves our spectator back on. Barking.

  5. So good I read it twice.
    We played ok for 30 mins and even then couldn’t take the lead. Then we were outplayed, outfought by a very poor team. What does that make us?
    We look like that twitching mass on the side of the road. Somebody please put us out of our misery. Unofficial sources have indicated that should we lose on Tuesday it will be the worst run if form in Championship history.
    Still, always nice to be in the record books

  6. Its looking a more likely reality that we will be relegated with the highest ever points tally rather than scrape into the play offs if current form continues.
    Without being an Aaorak, I would put my house on that we have collected more points with Hines and Bikey at the back that any of our “first choice” pairings.
    Perhaps the North Stand might appreciate Seb’s odd lapses now that they can see what else is available. The defending yesterday was as bad as it gets, from Reach exposing his defence with an immature and inexperienced lunge when he should have ushered him and pushed him wide to Steele not coming out for crosses (predictable and by now standard Boro keeper coaching) through to central defenders not attacking the ball.
    Its all basics and for the first time I accept that Mogga can’t do much about his “experienced” professionals defending like 13 year olds on a Sunday morning.
    Mogga should now play play those who will be here next season and start the rebuild process early, lets face it there is nothing to lose so he may as well get a head start. Who knows they may even collect enough points to avoid the drop.
    Its also a good opportunity to give Leutwiler a run and give Jason a break bearing in mind all his U21 games look to be catching up with him. Lets see Smallwood, Reach, Main, Luke W and co. given an extended run.
    Whats the betting on Neil Lennon for the Mackems?

  7. Ian Gill said: Watched a bit of mackem misery at the ground and on th the TV it showed us lining up in a 352 formation. I ventured the text to john that if we also played split strikers it could in effect be 370.
    I nearly fell off my frozen perch when Bikey lined up in midfield to shield the back four. The match was actually entertaining with Chuckle Brothers defending.
    The goals we conceded all came from poor play by ourselves with collective mistakes. AV is right, we should have been out of sight by half time. Their keeper was far busier than Steele.
    The start of the second half was a joke as we played like a set of cones in a training excercise as they scored their second. Not to be outdone their defence then played statues as Leadbitter was given the freedom of the Black Country.
    Then came their winner courtesy of sloppy play on the left conceding the throw in. The biggest sin was allowing the flick on, as many a better team than us found with Stoke no matter how hard you practice it is devilish to defend.
    The subs changed the shape of the game, the introduction of Ameobi and Dyer took the sting out of our game. Sami had a cameo shocker.
    The Parmo army were not even very angry. Home fans couldnt believe they had survived the first half but were pleased with the second and the result.
    O’Neill sacked. Who on earth are the Mackems going to bring in with seven games left? They must have somebody lined up

  8. Two pointers to a successful Boro season must include both of these:
    If our manager wins manager of the month: totally refuse it at all costs!
    Cancel Christmas.
    We must be the only team in existance on planet Earth who fall foul of these factors.

  9. Never mind, lads, no doubt the Gazette will headline some prescient senior player advising us they know they have “Seven cup finals to play before the end of the season”.
    Has any club EVER won seven successive cup finals, or even got to seven successive finals? Even Manchester United, Liverpool et al, going back to the Wanderers or Old Etonians? I suspect Wanderers might have won five in a row, but that takes us back to the 1870’s. And I’ll bet they had a much better team than us, relative to their opposition!
    A mountain to climb? Let’s get real here. We are not talking Roseberry Topping. But in our current form, climbing our local peak would seem like climbing Everest.
    Look, lads. On Tuesday we are to climb K2, next Saturday it’s Kanchenjunga, next Saturday it’s Annapurna, then we get an easy one in Mount McKinley followed by Mount Elbrus, then its off to the Karakhorams for Broad Peak before we take a jaunt into the Andes and finish off with Aconcagua. Now, scale that lot, one after the other, and people WILL sit up and take notice.
    Being realistic, however, we are more likely to read a report in the paper saying something along these lines:
    “People don’t realise that Cairngorm is a serious mountain, especially at this time of year. It was our misfortune that the cloud ceiling was down to 2,000 feet and the funicular railway was closed. We abandoned the climb when one of our team turned over an ankle on a ridge at 2,500 feet when it became clear it was just not going to be our day. Pity really because we started out brightly until we got into the clouds and were making good speed.
    “Somebody had also mixed up our meal rations. On other climbs we had cheese and pickle sandwiches and little pork pies, so it was a surprise that someone had put anchovies in with the cheese and we had Cornish pasties (though none of us like potatoes or swedes). I think the anchovies didn’t work well with the cheese and pickle and kept repeating on us, but it was different…. It might have worked but we just weren’t used to that combination.
    “Anyway, we are not downhearted. We are going to hit Ingleborough next week. You’ve just got to realise that all mountains must be treated with respect, even when, at ground level, the weather looks good. There is no such thing as an easy mountain. But we will be fully kitted-out and will approach that climb with confidence, then it’s off to the Himalayas.”
    I am sure that most of the followers of MFC have exactly the same level of confidence as the players at this stage. Maybe next season we can start off with modest ambitions? A trip up Cat Nab for starters, then Eston Nab, then maybe a climb up Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook’s? At that stage we might better assess how realistic it would be to attempt higher climbs any further afield.

  10. Why are we playing Tuesday evening? I would have thought Monday afternoon would attract a bigger crowd.
    The manager’s comments are starting to reflect his body language.

  11. Game over. Apathy.
    Of course will win on Tuesday and get to within three points of the play-offs. Game on!
    Cruel game.

  12. A more thorough report would’ve pointed out that Leadbitter’s first goal wasn’t over the line and we were very lucky to get it given his embarrassing finish with an open net from about eight yards out.
    Mogga’s refusal to play Bailey and the continued selection of the awful Jutkiewicz continue to baffle.

  13. Listen up people – Mowbray will still be in the chair next season and the rest of the seasons that follow. This is Gibson’s plan – small town in Europe, small club in the Chumpionship or lower. The best you can hope for so get used to it..

  14. I don’t know about having a mountain to climb but Mogga needs to do ‘summit’ soon to stop the descent down the table.
    I’m actually over here on rare visit this week and will be going to the Peterborough game on Tuesday. Rather amusingly, I discovered today that the sibling I’m staying with is also a blog contributor (NeverGiveUpOnBoro) who attends all games home and away with yet another familiar name on these boards (CarltonP – formerly HalifaxP) who I met yesterday.
    Anyway, they’ll be taking me to the Navi before the game (probably around 6:15pm) to meet a few other bloggers – so if any of you good people would like to pop in and say hello then feel free to join us.
    **AV writes: Beer! I can see that going down well with some of the regulars. Feel free to come and say hello to me up in the press box.

  15. Although I didn’t hear the post match interviews on Radio Brownlee, I gather Grant Leadbitter made reference to “certain players who didn’t want to be here should be shown the door”. Any ideas who these players are?
    **AV writes: He didn’t quite say that. He said something like: “we need people who want to play for Middlesbrough. It’s a great club. We need people who will work hard on the pitch and every day in training.” No mention of doors… although it is easy to read between the lines. He was very intense.

  16. And so to Tuesday and the potential “perfect storm” that is the Peterborough game. Total disillusionment at a season in meltdown meets a poor away following, record low Easter temperatures and no mitigating ticket offer.
    If you can bear to look through the hands covering your face you will get a sneak preview of our foreseeable future. Slow paced, turgid football in front of an quarter full stadium, where apathy has long since squeezed the life out of any lingering anger and resentment.
    Of course the inevitable voices will be heard ” our worst team in living memory”, ” an embarrassment to the town”,” a club on its last legs” “it’s never been as bad as this”. Utter rot of course, it’s been much worse as anyone who has been following the club for more than about five minutes will testify.
    As fans it’s part of the same coach trip we’ve always been on. The drivers change, some of the passengers are different,the locations alter as does the fare we’re charged but fundamentally it’s the same journey .A cyclical ride revisiting the same old places; youthful promise, blossoming talent, pride and passion,success and euphoria before the inevitable overspend, mass sell off, relegation, austerity measures, fan desertion and financial “meltdown” before we build again.
    I started to take my eight year old to home games in the first season after our premier league relegation under Southgate and coincidentally my dad first took me in the the season after Murdoch’s side were relegated from the first division in the early 80s. We have all been sold the image of a glamorous modern era with a super stadium, state of the art training facilities and exotic foreign stars . As a club we are meant to have moved on but what strikes me is how familiar it all feels and how my son’s experience mirrors my own all those years ago.
    I lamented the sale of Johnston, Proctor and Armstrong as he did the departure of Downing,Johnson and Huth. Isn’t injury prone but classy Woodgate just this era’s Irving Nattrass? The defensive promise of Darren Wood is mirrored by Rhys Williams. Is not Luke Williams just a tee total Stephen Bell?
    The recruitment policy of employing bad Scotsman is alive and well – my son cursed Kevin Thomson as I did his namesake Bobby. No, for all the trappings of progress it’s all very much as you were.
    The crowds are dwindling alarmingly now, as they did then. All we need is Rockliffe Hall to become the white elephant that was the Warwick Street sports hall. We can then call in the administrators while some wag scribbles “Why us ?” on Wilfie’s statue.Yet back then somehow we came through,indeed stronger than before.
    There’s no doubt these are dark days. This calendar year has been particularly cruel because of the hopes built up in the first part of the season. Grant Leadbitter’s post match hint of bad apples in the camp just add to the fans’ frustrations. Yet our current woes are not unprecedented.
    Despite our desperate run and the pessimism that surrounds the club at the moment my son loves going, he wouldn’t miss it for the world,and neither would I. And,if he has a son I know he’ll be the same. The eternal circle of generational commitment to Our club is a wonderful thing and its fuelled by the the hope, perhaps even the promise, that better times lay ahead.
    **AV writes: I agree completely.

  17. Everybody can see all too easily that this squad is not good enough. But just how poor are they?
    One of the intriguing mysteries of this Boro is: how can the same set of players be so good until Xmas, and play some good football, and then be so very poor for the next three months? Which is the true Boro and the more representative form?
    Were they over-achieving last year? Were they in fact never better than a mid-table team? Was it just a matter of time before a slump came?
    Or, in contrast, are they actually much better than their 2013 form? After all, this is nailed-on relegation form – so how could a squad as apparently bad as that do so well previously? Are their abysmal recent performances merely the result of a lack of mental resilience, brittle confidence and undermined morale?
    Will the real Boro stand up? Time will tell but, as a student of human nature, finding the answer will continue to engage my interest into next season.

  18. Apathy – just the right word to discribe my feelings yesterday. A defeat too much to get to the play-offs now. How on earth we can play worse than anybody else in the league (and like Hartlepool BEFORE Xmas). This is not real.
    Anyway nice to hear Werdermouth will be visiting the Navi (and Riverside). Say my greetings to all bloggers you will see over there. And especially so to Carltonp and Nevergiveupboro.
    I wish I could be there, too. This apathy has struck me so I don’t think I’ll make the annual April visit to see Boro. Moreover I was at Derby when this rot started in January. So I try to keep the golden memory of a home win against Blackpool in my memory (last match of 2012). Those where the days!
    Anyway, at least we have Mogga still in here. Think about somebody replacing Martin O’Neill WITH Paolo Di Canio! *shudder*
    So things could be worse. Up the Boro!

  19. Good one, Paulista.
    And, Spartak, if we had a general like Scipio Africanus…. But we hear that Mogga is something of a student of military commanders. The fact is that at the end the vast majority, even the best, lose a battle, a war.
    Something along the lines of “…all political careers (unless cut off in midstream at a happy juncture) end in failure…”. I have a feeling that was said by Enoch Powell – which seems ironic bearing in mind the date and the latest football news – but unless you are Sir Alex Ferguson, even the greatest sometimes overstay their welcome. And give the Old Man a little more time…
    Those of us on the outside obviously know a lot less than those in the dressing room or the boardroom. Explanations for the dramatic change in form could be many, or a combination of many.
    1. Basically a good squad but short of the real quality in front of goal to turn possession into goals, and sadly injury-prone so that changes in the line-up hindered essential continuity? The “reserves” weren’t able to fill the gap?
    2. The basic squad is fine but players are not being used consistently to best advantage, square-pegged, and thus don’t perform to their ability.
    3. Manager has “lost it”?
    4. The players have “lost it”, can’t get themselves up for most games (the odd Cardiff and Chelsea game apart)? In a rut and now expecting to lose?
    5. Players (with maybe a couple of exceptions) were never really that good, and were buoyed up by an initial force of their manager’s will, which could only resist gravity for so long?
    6. Players, whilst flawed, were good enough to make an early challenge for promotion, but not good enough to sustain that challenge, whoever led them?
    7. Players, at least enough of them, were and remain good enough to contend for promotion but some “bad apples” have polluted the dressing room atmosphere so badly as to derail the promotion project? In a boat, unless everyone is rowing in the same direction, it won’t go anywhere?
    8. In the absence of a bunch of exceptionally talented players all coming through together, basically the most successful teams are those which have the money to buy and pay higher wages for players better than their competitors, and Boro are no longer in that category? (Having spent poorly the last of the money that MIGHT have seen us get up).
    9. We have somehow been “unlucky”? (“We murdered Cardiff, but just couldn’t put the ball in the net….” etc).
    10. It’s down to the fans? (The Riverside is usually like an empty library these days and as soon as we concede a goal the crowd gets on the players’ backs, as if their confidence wasn’t fragile enough already).
    It may be that others can identify another 20 points not listed above. But the only one I’ve listed, in which we as supporters can have any influence, is number 10.
    Unfortunately it seems as though the team has been caught up in an avalanche. As if there is nothing we can do until the flow stops but to hope that we are not swept over that looming precipice.
    We hope when it does stop, as all avalanches, volcanoes, tsunamis (or any other disastrous metaphor we wish to employ) do in the end, we are sufficiently undamaged as to be able to dig ourselves out.
    At least we are hoping for better tomorrow night. Aren’t we?
    **AV writes: I would add maybe:
    11) Rival coaches have spotted the weaknesses (primarily the ever changing defence’s inability to defend set-plays and high balls) and have exploited them and the manager does not have the personnel to adapt.
    That was key last year when week after week the opposition would aim high diagonals from the right straight at Joe Bennett knowing he was vulnerable to being turned by a ball behind him and that he could not head the ball.
    Would anyone care to add other possible factors?

  20. Paulista Park said: “Isn’t injury prone but classy Woodgate just this era’s Irving Nattrass?” Top class! I loved it.
    Up the Boro!

  21. Fully agree with nikeboro about Jason Steele
    No matter how hard you dril your defence if the ball gets to the six yard box the keeper has to deal with it more often than not.
    I hate hearing goalkeepers described as good shot-stoppers. if you arent a good shot stopper how can you play in goal? Surely thats the bare minimum for a keeper. What it means is that he keeper is clueless at every other aspect of his game – dealing with crosses, marshalling his defenders and overall charge of his box. Steele is inept and the biggest problem at the club is our goalkeeper coaching.
    Full backs in modern day football play the part that used to be played by wingers. We choose our fullbacks on how they attack not how they defend and that is totally wrong.

  22. 12. Confused players as they lose confidence in themselves and what they are being asked to do.
    13. Focussing on what the opposition might do as opposed to what we could do – fairly poor at the moment.
    14. Typical Boro.
    Lets stop there.

  23. Pity the poor pilgrim who drags his weary bones along to watch what is probably the worst team in the Championship results wise in 2013.
    I listened to the match on R5 and was totally bemused to hear that Bikey was playing in front of the back four. Yet again I ask what is happening with Bailey? I am not a “knee jerker” and I am not calling for TM to be sacked but I fear that he is just not up to the job.
    Take a look at our four remaining home matches – who would bet the farm that we will get more than three points. Peterborough are on the up and I fear that tomorrow night could be very tricky.
    I was about to turn the telly over after Channel 4 news on Friday night when the announcer said “From Middlesbrough, questionable food and entertainment that might not be suitable to everyone…” Flipping heck I thought, I know we are bad but surely it hasn’t reached the stage when the Boro’s woes warrants a programme on Channel 4, and our pies aren’t that bad are they?
    But no, not car-crash football, just a car-crash reality food programme, it was that awful I was glued to the screen! You have to laugh.

  24. Lose against POSH and I will be fearful for the rest of the season. Luckily we might already have just about enough points, but the way it’s going who knows?
    POSH had a fantastic victory and great performance against Cardiff on Saturday so they will be high in confidence.
    I am not convinced we will win.

  25. In what other industry would a manager be able to get away with this ?
    Even forgetting the results….
    “It is what it is”
    If I’d said this to my manager I’d be laughed at then sacked. If I’d said this to my customers I’d be sacked even quicker. Let’s not forget who the customer is here.
    Really Mogga… if you know the problem, tell us, if you don’t, you don’t deserve to be manager… what could be more simple.
    **AV writes: To be fair, in most modern industries you can get away with upsetting a large section of the customer-base (especially one who little alternative, think of the utilities) so long as you hit all your key financial targets.

  26. Pretty much spot on Nike Boro, a.consistent theme this season has been a failure to convert enough of the chances we create. This inevitably creates pressure on the defence.
    On Steele, he’s a carbon copy of his coach Pearsy. Blonde, receding hair line, magnificent shot stopper, too quiet, and not great on crosses.
    I firmly believe Mogga’s the man for the job. Whatever we say about the team and tactics, there have been too many occassions where those selections were fine and the players let him down. Saturday was a prime example. However, decisions such as subbing Carayol and Reach on sat do not help his cause.
    And why didn’t Mark Drury ask him that?!?

  27. I have to agree with Jiffy and question the goalkeeping coach, Wasn’t he sacked once? As someone who played a little in goal (I know ,I know) however I was told the six yard box was mine and I’d better take care of it,
    Another thing I cant understand is goalies closing down shots 10, 11 yards off his line. Surely with the speed of the shots these days and the ball moving around you’d be better say four or five yards off, giving yourself more time to adjust.
    Another I was told, on corners stand on the far post so you can see the flight of the ball and also the players around, when the ball is played in you can then mover towards the ball instead of tumbling backover. In open play you should never be on the near post on crosses, you stand in the middle, body lengh for both sides of the goal
    My pleasure Steely.

  28. Now we are 7 points from relegation and 6 from the playoffs, as this form continues we need to try and stay up first before thinking about going up.

  29. Has there been a football match? I thought this was a financial forum. Good to be able to talk about football again, even if the result was another bad one.
    Funny really, we often talk about the need for consistency…well we’ve certainly got that now. When I got back from my Easter break and looked up the scores, for the first time I found myself looking at the team in 22nd and counting how many points behind us they were (it’s Huddersfield, and it’s 7 points).
    Even a draw in the next match would be welcome, we need to start picking up points or we are well and truly in it.
    So, anorak time to help me forget about the grim news. AV…were these Leadbitter’s first goals for the club? How many individual scorers does that make…I think 22 or even 23. Amazing.
    Poor old Martin up the road, he must be wondering how he gets a job like Tony’s. Sunderland’s run of form is nowhere near as bad as ours.
    **AV writes: No, he scored one away at Birmingham in the 3-2 defeat. He was also credited with a ghost goal at Bury by PA & the BBC (and hence by just about everyone) but it was actually Ledesma that got that one.

  30. The Boro faithful have probably put the grim in pilgrim this year – still these weary bones are hoping there’s something left in our skeleton squad to resurrect the Boro corpse into life – if only we can somehow ghost into the box and put away some of those early chances and stop the zombie defending.
    This is a team very low on confidence and I wonder at what point in a season does the mindset of some players, who know they’re leaving at the end of the season, shift from putting it on the line for the team and move towards self-preservation in order to ensure they’re available for their next contract.
    BTW AV, I’m guessing (hoping?) that you’ll probably be too busy after the final whistle on Tuesday trying to interview all our goal scorers – so would half-time be a good time to pop up and say hello? Also Thanks Jarkko – I’ll pass on your greetings.
    **AV writes: Yes, on the whistle I’ll be very busy. Before kick-off is best, I’m all bright and bubbling and optimistic then.

  31. Masham Wiggy – ‘I firmly believe Mogga’s the man for the job.’
    Blimey, mate, I wish I had rose-coloured specs as good as yours!
    We now have 19 defeats this season. Only two other sides in the Champo have worse records than that. We haven’t won away since Lord knows when, regularly lose to sides at the wrong end of the league, and now boast seven glorious points from 42. Unbelievably poor. It’s just a very good thing that we did so well in the first half of the season, otherwise we might be well adrift at the bottom by now.
    After Derby’s win at Leeds today we are now 10th. So let’s assume we finish round about 10th, 11th, 12th – which will still require us to win two or three more games, so is not guaranteed. Last season we finished 7th. If we now finish mid-table, five or six places lower, could we claim that we have progressed?
    We all know about the cost-cutting and the inevitable bargain-buys Mowbray has had to manage, and maybe if we’re being realistic a mid-table slot is as good as we might have expected given that scenario. But I would argue that whatever progress has been made off the field, precious little has been made on it.
    Currently, this is palpably a worse side than last season’s. The manager has presided over one of the worst runs I can ever remember in my 47 years’ supporting Boro. He clearly has failed to get the best out of his players since December and has clearly failed to rectify the side’s many flaws.
    I’m sure Mowbray will be our manager at the start of next season. I’m sure, too, that life financially will be even more challenging and that we can expect many more trips to the Poundshop for our new signings.
    But for me, Mowbray has to do much better with the limited resources at his disposal if he is to convince me he is still the man for the job. At the very least he has to be able to motivate his players – HIS players – to fight for the shirt. I’m not convinced they all are doing so right now.

  32. For those going to the Navi –
    sadly I can’t make it this time. I am taking my wife to the game (it’s my gift to the club, but a potentially damaging mistake as regards the marriage). And that is after being at work, so there will be no time for a pre-match drink.
    I do hope it will be better than we fear. On the one hand, we might get stuffed by the team that has just beaten runaway league leaders Cardiff. On the other hand, with them having won that game, we might do an “untypical Boro” job on them, securing our Championship status before returning to a consistent run of defeats until the end of the season.
    Either way, there must be a more rewarding “hobby” than this….

  33. The fact we have lost games is not too much of a problem but its who we keep dropping points to. We on paper should have had the easiest run in the last four or five games playing all the relegation contenders we lost them all.
    We must forget all about the top six and look at clean sheets and draws . If that in the end propels us into sixth then so be it.
    Look at the bottom two in the Prem.

  34. AV –
    I dont think we will need many more points – if any – to be safe, it was more of a muse than a question.
    I note Woodie’s comments, the problem is not us giving up on the team. The evidence of our eyes is that the team has given up on itself.
    There appears to be something wrong but who knows what. From afar we don’t have the local gossip as a source of information.
    It has certainly gone beyond problems with tinkering and matching up the opposition unless what was alleged took place at Celtic is correct where eventually the players didn’t know whether they were coming or going.
    Still, another game tonight. When I looked at the points tally at the foot of the table I was shocked then I realised most have recently played us!

  35. Neil Warnock left Leeds Utd about two hours after Monday’s 2-1 defeat by Derby, a loss that left Leeds well adrift of the play-offs and just five points clear of the relegation zone. Perhaps he did not believe they will get to the play-offs any more.
    Now Boro have two points more than Leeds – and Mogga’s team have a game in hand. At least we still have a chance (even I doubt that).
    Up the Boro!

  36. How about Steve McClaren making an El Tel appearance at Rockcliff to help us to safety? But that could mean SG does not trust in Mogga anymore. Just a thought as there is just a cycling distance from Yarm to Hurworth …
    Or who was the famous sports pyshcologist we used to have in the SMc era?
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: That will be Bill Beswick of flying geese fame.

  37. As its Easter I of course like the rest of you have been immersed in all things “Easterish” this weekend. One thing struck a chord with me whilst I was browsing: “He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy”!
    In my despair the profound irony made me smile for a short while before “Typical Boro” reality kicked in again.
    Speaking of naughty boys, lets see what Di Canio now does for the Black Cats, I suspect he will invigorate a bit of fun, excitement and belief in their squad which in turn I suspect will make for a cracking derby against the Barcodes.
    Oh well “it is what it is” as the Messiah sorry Mogga said, (sighs deeply and gets back to work).

  38. Just got a call from my boss. I will get a nice bonus from last year after all. Shall I fly in to see Boro at Riverside? Or Wembley?
    AV, do you still have your booking on at a Wembley hotel? How late they can be cancelled without costs – at 16:00 on arrival?
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: It’s a Premier Inn. Can be cancelled up to 24 hours before.

  39. Redcar Red –
    Things Easterish. I was applying wood treatment to some trellising yesterday and on the bucket it said do not apply below 10C. In the words of Mrs G, we cant wait until August!
    Brassic Easters takes me back to Stan Anderson days. We had no game on Good Friday so a group of us went to watch Pools vs Workington. I think the sleet left Jarrko at ten feet above ground level and arrived at the Victoria ground shortly afterwards.
    After an 85 minutes so tedious it made McClaren seem exciting we left. Sure enough the only goal went in as we got to the car.
    On the Monday we lost 2-0 at Charlton and that was promotion gone for another year. Top at Christmas then the lights came down.
    Some things in life remain constant.

  40. Very bad article in the Evening Gazette on Tuesday relating to the appointment of Di Canio at Sunderland. It was very political and all old hat stuff.
    Give the man a chance on the football pitch. It seems that every football manager will have to submit to the FA, his political persuasions and leanings.( if we believe in fairness etc for all – democracy etc.) This word Fascist will probably apply to more local people then Mr Vickers imagines.
    If you want to comment on serious stuff etc and not football, change your features Anthony. In all my long years of reading the gazette, Ive never seen so much tripe about Di Canio. Talk about kicking a man when he’s down!! They may also be more so called facists etc in the North East then you can ever believe.
    **AV writes: I’m sure there are plenty of fascists knocking about the North-east. Not many of them will have to front a ‘Kick It Out’ event very often though. And not many will have been pictured at work making stiff armed salutes.
    The article was not about any attempt to block the man getting a job, or ‘kicking him when he is down’ (if down is being handed a £5m deal). It was firstly about the myopic morality of supporters and their willingness to defend almost anything and anyone at their club in the pursuit of success and secondly about the inept way Sunderland have handled this PR hand-grenade.
    And if you are surprised that I comment on politics and serious stuff you must be a fairly new reader. Welcome aboard.

  41. Stopped the rot last night. A clean sheet and a point that is 100% better than previous four games and I think we moved up a place as well.
    What’s wrong? The roses are in my eyes again.

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