Cut And Paste/ Repeat To Fade

[**CUT AND PASTE**]
THE CONSENSUS is that the Championship is totally unpredictable. Not when Boro are playing it isn’t.
Boro’s frustrating defeat to Brighton could have been a cut and paste from any of the familiar failures in the sorry slither from the summit. Sickened spectators will know the script off by broken heart by now: blunt Boro boss possession and win the stats but fail to take their chances and then are punished by a more clinical side.
For Brighton read Birmingham. Hull. Millwall. Huddersfield. And, as they say on the various artist compilations, many, may more.



Straight off the template, Boro passed and probed and picked their way forward and back again then sidewards a few times then forward and back again and repeat to fade in a low-tempo first half.
They created the better of the chances in a tentative opening period without ever looking convincing or clinical or dynamic or dangerous.Richard Smallwood fired a low angled shot at the keeper that was routinely saved full length, Scott McDonald skied one and Grant Leadbitter sent a sizzler over then Andy Halliday lashed wide.
It was “alright” without causing any pulses to race. Teesside tiki-taka is an admirable trait – so long as there is an end product. But as so often in the New Year nosedive, there wasn’t.
Boro dominated possession but lacked zest and pace and width and creativity and for all the ball they had they never really seemed to worry well organised Brighton. They probably haven’t had as comfortable a game all season.
Gus Poyet said after the game that the first half atmosphere was flat, that the lack of noise in a nervous stadium had got into his players heads and feet and that he told them to go out after the break and create their own passion, make their own atmosphere. And they did.
Bubbling Brighton came out after the break and looked sharper, faster and more dangerous. Predictably, mono-paced Boro failed to match the sudden change in tempo and style and suddenly looked very vulnerable and chaotic at the back.
Brighton had a couple of good chances scrambled away before they scored what was a perfectly well executed but straight-forward training ground goal as unmarked Orlandi stroked home. And that was that. This Boro side don’t come back.
Boro didn’t give up. The beavered away. They pressed and probed again. They tried.
Then as toothless Boro committed men forward and laboured away en masse without much conviction 30 yards out, the compact Seagulls sat deep, strangled space and stifled any incursions into their box then Lopez struck a text-book second on the counter. Game over. Season over. We hope.
Boro are now eight points off the play-offs – although it feels like light years – but more urgently, they are just six points off the drop zone… Boro couldn’t could they? No. Surely not. No. Almost certainly not. It would take a complex and spectacular series of results to see 12 teams claw above Boro in the last four games.
The bookies think it unlikely and are offering an average of 66-1. If you really think Boro will go down get your money on now. You can’t blame more pessimistic Boro fans thinking it though. After all, the final fixture is Sheffield Wednesday away and that’s an ill-fated date heavy with history for supporters of a certain age. Boro have been dragged through the trapdoor twice before on the final day.
Boro will stay up – but it could a tense finale unless they can stop the rot quickly and rack up a few points somewhere. Right now that doesn’t look as easy at it sounds. After eight points from 51 with confidence visibly draining away by the game it could come down to other teams failing to punish their woeful form.
After months of all the results going the right way above us, we are now anxiously glancing over our shoulders hoping for the same behind us.
This broken season can’t end soon enough now. Four dead rubbers left. Four chances to restore some battered pride. Four chances to shift season tickets and offer some thin shards of hope.
Meanwhile former sublime striker Alen Boksic was in the directors box. What must he have made of the languid and plodding affair? Boro are exploring the possibility of using his contacts in Croatia, he is assistant coach, to tap into the as yet unexplored market. Croatia join the EU in the summer so work permit restrictions will be lifted: we may finally get Robbo’s ‘next big thing’ Igor Cvitanovic. Or his modern equivalent.
That and similar mooted link-ups in other countries may help find undiscovered talent on the cheap in the summer and help in the continued drive to improve the side against a backdrop of belt-tightening and looming Financial Fair Play.
With this season making creaking metallic scraping sounds and grinding to a halt, Boro are already planning for the next campaign.
Mogga said after the game he wasn’t a quitter and had no intention of walking away. He was a Teessider and was digging in and Steve Gibson shared his DNA and approach and understood the circumstances and limitations. And the chairman underlined last week that he was not sharpening his axe. Mogga is his man.
That may not go down too well with a now firmly hostile section of the Riverside crowd but ‘it is what it is.’ There has been chuntering and cyber-squabbles but amazingly very little vitriol aimed at the dug-out during the long bleak slide. Booing on the whistle yes, and understandably so. But very few outright calls for Mogga to go. Partly he may be shielded by sentiment. Partly too because, for all the frustrations, most people see the limitations of the finances and the squad and are aware of the political landscape.
There’s no mileage in demanding his head. And to fair, for many it has gone beyond anger and recriminations. The atrophied season has ushered in widespread apathy. Which is maybe harder to deal with.
The club are already planning for next season. The wheels are already in motion for a complete revamp of the failed squad so a promotion push can be carried into the business end of the season.
Next term will need to be far better than this one – and it will need get off to a bright start – if the viral disillusionment spreading through the crowd is to be contained.
There is now a layer of fans who have declared themselves against Mogga. It will take something special and sustained next season to get them back behind the boss.
This season has disintegrated along with morale and belief off the pitch. Putting that back together in the summer could be as big a job as player recruitment.

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76 thoughts on “Cut And Paste/ Repeat To Fade

  1. I dont normally use my phone to post but mcmoses? No thanks. Forget Robbo it was Macs spending on players with no resale value or shelf life that started the slither.

  2. Robson did it for a while – largely because he had access to loads of money.
    McClaren did it for a while – largely because he had access to loads of money.
    Southgate did it for a while until the cuts that started the season he took over, resulted in imbalance, leading to knee-jerk “emergency” bad buys and relegation.
    Strachan couldn’t do it – as the rot had already set in and despite a modest injection of financial support, via the Highland Clearances, the desperate Scottish Experiment wasn’t enough to effect the substantive change. At least under Mowbray, League One football was avoided.
    Mowbray hasn’t been able to do it (yet) – because he’s had little money and to a large extent he’s been hog-tied by the legacy of the panic measures of earlier years and the pattern of decline.
    To state what I personally think is obvious, Boro are working their way through the aftermath of a serious, major downsizing and it sounds like that will bottom-out this summer. Then, and only then, can Mowbray work with a “clean sheet” and build a team that is fit for purpose.
    And it’s important for ALL concerned that the “purpose” is well-defined and understood – otherwise, there’ll be more and more disaffection as people will, once again, feel betrayed. The stated “purpose”, must be predicated on a true sense of what’s realistically achievable. Never mind all this, “We’re a Premiership Club!” rhetorical nonsense.
    It’s only fair and I, again personally, feel it’s important that Steve Gibson faces up to the reality of life in the world of league football and that he shares that reality with those stakeholders called supporters.
    Gibson did well through the nineties and early noughties. And was ploughing enough money into MFC to justify publicly-declared high ambition – which, in my opinion was well-delivered. (The club and its supporters had some GREAT times!). The retraction was, for me, where he lost it. Now he has a chance to regain credibility and recalibrate the local sense of reality.
    If the club is to be run for the benefit of the community and the area, modest ambition commensurate with the club and the area’s status must be faced up to. That’s not to say we should have no ambition. That’s ludicrous. And it flies in the face of competitive sport, as well as business.
    For the Boro faithful, it must feel quite hellish at present and there most certainly is a mountain to climb. But now we have a real opportunity to start a new project, clear of the baggage of recent seasons’ slides for which various parties have taken the fans’ stick, but throughout which, there has only been one continuous executive presence – the Chairman.
    I hope that Steve Gibson puts his head above the parapet before much longer and that it’s Steve Gibson who tells us, “It is what it is!” and “This is what it is – ………….”
    It would be good if Steve Gibson could give the supporters (and potential supporters) something to believe in again. But it needs to be REAL. Because the mood of the support is such that blind faith really is a premium commodity!
    I hope Gibson doesn’t do to Mowbray, what he did to Gareth Southgate. Changing the manager at this time would be wrong. I suspect that Mowbray’s an intrinsic part of the “project”. I don’t believe it’s going to happen – unless Mowbray himself gets sickened by his local town turning on him and decides it’s not worth it.
    But, I personally hope he’s bigger and mentally stronger than that.
    **AV writes: Good post. That’s how I see it too. I think this summer will be the first time that Mowbray will be able to shape a team rather than patch one up.

  3. Urghhh have we hit rock bottom yet?
    What’s that, you say? Who’s coming to town tomorrow?
    Could this get any worse. A couple of thousand East Midlanders, and only about five or six thousand Boro fans will make for the worst atmosphere ever at the Riverside.
    If there is anyone out there has bought a walk up ticket for tomorrow, I applaud your lunacy.
    Tomorrow will be rock bottom. For those who will be there to share it, shall we get some commemorative t-shirts knocked up

  4. I have just realised boro play Sheffield wed on the last day of the season , We were relegated from the the old first division some time ago when we played Sheffield Wed on the last day of the season and Boro captain that day was Tony Mowbray. Will he do the same this year as manager? I fear it may be so. Let’s hope I am wrong .

  5. You all need to give your heads a shake if you think Steve McClaren could come in and change things around!
    When he was here before he had Viduka, Hasselbank,Yakubu, Mendieta, Zenden, Schwarzer, and the rest. He would hardly be taking over and buying and working with players of that quality.
    You only have to see how long he lasted at Forest without quality players and money to spend. Personally I think he sees himself managing a better club than Boro. We were only a stepping stone to better things last time. Remember how he tried to become the Leeds manager whilst he was still under contract at Boro.
    **AV writes: And Newcastle. His head was upside down at the prospect.

  6. As Rafa Benitez would say, it is time for some facts….
    .
    The players TM have signed are not good enough.
    He has disregarded the youth players.
    I realise that SG reads this blog, but that doesn’t mean he should get an easy ride.
    MFC are like a boxer scrabbling around on the canvas trying to find their gumshield, like Mike tyson vs Buster Douglas.
    At the moment we are a shambling, shambolic shambles. I hate to say this because it is like kicking a guy when he is down, but after a complete season Mowbray has to carry the can. These are his players, and to say they ae wanting is kind. I can still see his body language on the touchline, and to be honest, I don’t think he is up for the fight.
    I would love to be proved wrong. So come on Mogga, prove me wrong, get this rag, tag and bobtail group of no hopers to play a game that will at least give the crowd something to cheer.
    Boro fans will get behind eleven triers, whether or not they are good enough, doesn’t matter. As long as we can see they want it as much as we do.

  7. Just like the inmates in San Quentin,a lot of us have been banging the cell bars with our tin cups. Frustration and anger has poured out over the fact the warden has asked us to be patient once again,he’ told us conditions are going to get better, although be prepared for limited parole, the food to be cheaper and less desirable, no more cable TV, less exercise time and very little visitors expected,
    However plans are in place ,for things to improve in a few years time,it is what it is
    YES I’m being facetious
    But having put a little thought into Boronation Street (as someone stated)
    I really believe this is a critical time in Steve Gibson’s tenure as the Clubs figurehead, None of us doubt his commitment and love for the club and the area,no one doubts his passion to get us back where we all want to be. But for me Steve has not always made the right decisions regarding the actual football side of things,the hiring of coaches,managers,giving the ok on signings etc
    .
    And that’s why I believe over the next month he has to sit down ,and really assess that side of things: the good ,the bad and the ugly, I think this off season is the most critical in 30 years, He cant afford to get it wrong I’ve always said potential and loyalty when your on a slide is the quickest way to failure,
    I hope he does that,he takes the blinkers off and if it means a clean sweep ,then do it. If not then I hope he comes out and gives a little more than he has regarding his thoughts on his decision to stand pat.

  8. AV:- “People yearning for Steve McClaren strikes me a bit like middle-aged blokes cheesed off in their stagnant current relationship checking up a former teenage girlfriend on Facebook.”
    Class statement

  9. Andy R said April 15, 2013 4:11 PM: “The club is part way through a long-term rebuilding process and whilst the squad needs to be ripped up and rebuilt it would be suicide to discard the plan with it. McClaren is not the order of the day. Heaven knows we don’t need more short term thinking.”
    Totally agree with this. And this is very important, so I repeat – we don’t need more short term thinking.
    Richard (April 15, 2013 6:21 PM) – excellent post. I have nothing to add to that. We need to give Mogga more time.
    Perhaps the “instant” success at Sunderland in changing a manager is causing some extra debate to oust Mogga. But the statistics say the change does not usually help. It the long term vision and goal setting of the WHOLE club that does the trick. Not one manager or a player.
    Smogonthetyne –
    I feel for you. Cannot see much light in the tunnel yet. *hopes for untypical Boro tonight*
    Up the Boro!

  10. Amidst the gloom at the Riverside and football violence at least we have achived something. We have taken fan control a step further. Individualised fan segregation. Each fan has his personal space.
    Smog –
    Brave of you to come out, I am over in Nottingham the next couple of days.

  11. Superb post from Richard, what a useful aide memoire when tackling the ABM fanatics.
    The lopsided wage bill is not Mowbray’s fault hence Gibson’s patience. The next stage is replacement of the overpaid flops with better yet much cheaper alternatives. That’s difficult but it can be done.
    FFP will mean a harsh reality check for a lot of Premier League players out of contract in the summer. Many will face huge wage cuts or unemployment. Some could offer the kind of experience and guidance we so badly need.
    Mowbray has to perform a tricky balancing act of reducing the cost and size of the squad whilst adding the essential elements that can make us genuine promotion contenders. No easy task but he deserves to be judged on his ability to carry it out. He shouldn’t be thrown to the lions at this stage, as a convenient scapegoat for the failings of others.

  12. A few thoughts before tonight.
    The players havent just crumbled at the Riverside where there are so few fans. Our away support is magnificient and the players have been bereft on the road.
    Mogga going wont solve much but what he has to do is put the spade down. A common gripe is that he sets out to nullify the opposition, eg the split strikers. It doesnt work.
    Our best performance s have been when we have got on with doing our own game.
    All he is doing is reinforcing the views of those who want a change.
    He was the best manager in the world with his own players. This was a stronger squad in a weaker league. It was the view peddled by many.
    Now he is either a rubbish manager or the players someone recruited were rubbish, weak willed and need to be cleared out.
    Neither are right but something is wrong.
    Mogga, put the spade down. It might help.

  13. Havn’t got time read all previous posts.
    We would be mad to get rid of Tony Mowbray the dream partnership with Steve Gibson. The club needs stability going in to our fifth Championship season. Mogga is our third manager in our time since relegation. I believe he get right he’s one of us lives and breezes the club.
    It’s hugely frustrating and I can understand the anger at the moment. Certain things have gone wrong which will be discussed largely in the summer. I think signing Dyer was one them.
    At start season I would loved us to get Lansbury who be playing against us tonight he been an ideal buy one for now and one for future.
    We must get a win or two to take into next season. Summer is going bring a lot of change! It’s hard right now but think we will learn from mistakes next season. Less expectation on us next season could be a good thing and more levelled team. UTB!

  14. Very good summary Richard and I think nikeboro is so close to the truth that the boardroom may be being swept for bugs.

  15. Ian –
    Maybe your idea of everyone at the Riverside having ‘space’ around them could be adopted by the club as a positive marketing opportunity, along the lines of buy a seat and get another to put you free pint on or put your feet up, a la air line business class!! The central section of the East stand could be designated ‘business class’ and curtained off from the ‘plebs’ at either end. lol.

  16. Nigel –
    Maybe the directors box could have those fancy lie flat seats. South Stand could be renamed the Ryanair and when there are any complaints an Irish entrepeneur could tell them to shut up or push off – words to that effect. The North Stand could be the Easyjet where they are a little more customer focussed.
    Sadly it will still look as deserted as Durham Tees Valley.
    Other airlines and airports are available.

  17. Some excellent posts on here as always (Richard, nikeboro).
    Patience is a virtue, lost in the eyes of many a Boro fan. I count myself guilty as charged, I gave up on the season about a month and a half ago after one too many defeats and insipid performances.
    Nobody really knows the real reason for the slump. Perhaps it’s coincidence, but there will have been quite a few players in the squad, older more highly paid players, who would have been sat down in December/January time and told that they weren’t been offered a new contract. Or, perhaps in the case of Scotty, touted around other clubs.
    I blame the transfer window. I blame our nemesis – the FA. Surely it’s another Borocentric conspiracy, or is that my Boronoia working overdrive again.
    Anyway, the Mogganaut stutters on. It’s been up on chocs for a few months, rumours of a few parts being on order from Eastern Europe, not due for another few months yet, but it should still see us over the finishing line.
    Anyone getting misty eyed about the McClaren years needs to have a word. Look at the players he had! Southgate would probably have won the UEFA with that lot! We may look back fondly on his era with rose-tinted spectacles, and we should always be thankful for the delivery of our first ever piece of silverware, but getting back with your ex rarely works out and usually ends up with bitter recriminations of beautiful times that should have stayed in the past.
    Perhaps I’ve bared too much of my soul there, but we move on.
    Let’s stick behind Mogga, give him the summer to do his work and judge him by the end of this calendar year. One things for sure, gone are the days of a quiet Boro summer – it will be ins and outs galore this year! Exciting times.

  18. Ian Gill said:
    “He was the best manager in the world with his own players. This was a stronger squad in a weaker league. It was the view peddled by many. Now he is either a rubbish manager or the players someone recruited were rubbish, weak willed and need to be cleared out.
    Neither are right but something is wrong.”
    Love it Ian! Basically, you not sure what the issue is but everyone else is full of it. “Lol”.
    I agree with some others that have been more very good posts on this thread and the last. We’re better in a crisis.

  19. On August 25, 2012 AV wrote, in an article entitled “A Team Shaped In Mogga’s Image Is Finally Starting To Emerge”:
    “But Mowbray – more aware of the pressing problem than anyone – has spent the summer engineering a radical structural change in his squad in a bid to build a team that more accurately reflects his football philosophy.
    “Ten new signings and the promotion of a raft of talented teenagers to the first team squad have given Boro a new look: faster, sharper, more hungry and with a flash of teeth but still committed to and capable of playing a patient passing game on the deck and using space and width.”
    On April 13, 2013 AV wrote:
    “We have had a long and difficult three years of slash and burn and downsizing and Mogga has performed wonders with both arms and one leg tied behind his back. This season the wheels have come off. It hurts. But the club already have the squad up on the ramps and are planning for a major revamp. It will be the first coherent squad building after two summers of patching it up ad hoc. It may not seem like it right now but things are happening that could make Boro stronger and more competitive next season.”
    Explain.
    **AV writes: The last lot looked good in the August sunshine and when they played with early energy and zest (and did incredibly well until Christmas) but were found wanting over a long attritional season. That much is obvious.
    The job needs doing again this summer only this time the component parts need replacing with better and stronger (and at least one price bracket up) so they can maintain it throughout an entire season.

  20. The Gazette said: ‘Ledesma to miss the rest of the season.’ With a bit of luck he’ll miss the rest of next season to.

  21. I think Boro adopting the Ryanair model has legs, Gibbo could charge extra for going to the loo, having a soft cushion to sit on etc. He could then offer a discount to those willing to stay to the end no matter what the result and if anyone had the temerity to demand good quality football he could charge them £75 a seat and give them a ticket for the Emirates…..

  22. nikeboro –
    I agree with you that Gibson and Mowbray put the foundations of the club ahead of squad building for this season. And I agree with them that that was the best thing to do – but I don’t agree that the full extent of the current weaknesses were realised.
    I think the depth of the slump has come as a big shock to all.
    Last August the squad certainly looked a little deeper and better balanced than the previous season’s. I suspect that, taking everything into account, the chairman and manager were happy with it but it hasn’t worked out. The fragility either wasn’t spotted or wasn’t given enough attention.
    Some fans feel that retribution is required for that. Some just want any retribution.
    I’m looking forward to seeing what Mowbray can do with some kind of scouting network and a little bit of spending money. No-one will be more aware than him of what is now required.

  23. Andy R –
    Nail on the head. Havent a clue what is wrong but something is. It isnt just the players and it isnt just the manager. The final responsibilty lies with the manager.
    Sadly it is not Lol, it is whimper in the corner.
    I envisaged us ending the season like the one where Mogga took over and having a good top ten finish without really threatening the play offs. Cliffs and falling off never entered my mind even though there is plenty of space between the ears.
    Tommorrow half of east midlands will hate me and the rest think I am a hero (unless we draw)

  24. Here is a thought, some people think Gibbo doesnt want promotion.
    He doesn’t want a minimum £50m revenue from prize money plus TV rights, plus bigger gate receipts then getting £60m in parachute payments over four years if it went belly up.
    Not quite certain I agree with them.
    **AV writes: I don’t get the way the mental furniture is arranged on that idea.

  25. Those that want McClaren have very short memories. The football was tedious and take away the cup final all he did was get a very expensive and experienced team almost relegated,
    Too many of our players since Christmas havent showed up. The likes of Marvin have been invisible. This has given the young lads no support at all. Mogga needs to sort out the guys that only show up when the teams playing well and get rid. Its a pity that will probably only leave us with around 10 players. So a major rebuild is needed

  26. Phew…. I can go to work tommorrow but where did the Fergie time come from?
    Not the best performance but feel the three points. Do I care. Nay, nay, thrice nay.
    We could have been a few down at half time but a couple up at the end.
    yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!

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