Mittlesburg-am-Rhein: The Strange Case of Boro And “The German”

AS TIRED tiki-taka falls to Teutonic efficiency and mighty Germany sweep stuttering Spain aside and march towards Champions League glory (and to mark my own commitment to recycling) here’s another chance to see a previous epidode of retrospective navel-gazing from last summer…. on Boro, “the German” and what might have been.

As previously discussed I am a keen admirer of the German game – indeed, a founder member of the feared tongue in cheek ultra group the “Teesside Krauts” – so must declare an interest. Last time I mentioned that I was denounced as Middlesbrough’s Lord Haw Haw and told to go back to Berlin. LOL, as I believe the young people say.
So I don’t do that “two world wars and one world cup” or “ten German bombers” thing. I grew up in Germany and used to go and watch the mighty DSC Arminia Bielefeld. They like us. They don’t reciprocate that “bitter international rivalry” we have with them. They save that for the Dutch. And hey, stereotype fans, they have a good sense of humour!
There are a lot of similarities between the two nations and two games (something the English do not like to admit ) except in German they can also boast safe-standing, a vibrant terrace culture, strong governance and fan ownership. It may hurt to admit it but for us at least, there is much to learn. Read on…
SIX years ago, in the wake of Steve McClaren’s timely exit, Boro found themselves locked in a bitter war of words with the League Managers’ Association over the appointment of badgeless boss Gareth Southgate.
Gareth is now a respected TV pundit dissecting the tactical machinations of teams in international and Champions League games and has enjoyed a spell as FA supremo of all FA youth development programmes so must be considered to have passed his exams – although his on the job training at Boro wasn’t entirely successful.
Many will still point to his troubled tenure as the starting point of long sickening slide backwards for Boro that has taken the club from the glories of Eindhoven to treading water in the Championship.
But the time to knock Southgate is long gone.
I only raise his stewardship because apart from Southgate – and Martin O’Neill who couldn’t agree terms and conditions or a transfer kitty with Boro and was keen to persue his ambitions at a big club – one of the other candidates for the job was “the German.”
Teesside was buzzing as news spread that a top German coach with an incredible CV but had put in a written application for the Riverside hot-seat citing his desire for the challenge of managing in England.
The German, who it was whispered had won the Champions League, was setting out a battleplan to transform Boro – then on the back of a recent trophy win and successive years in the UEFA Cup – into a major European power. How exciting was that? It was like an episode of Dream team. But it was TRUE.
The name was never publicly revealed back then. It was widely rumoured at the time to be Ottmar Hitzfeld who had won the European Cup with both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern and no-one in the club would deny this. Or confirm it. They just obliquely referred to “the German.”
Boro big wigs later told us in passing that “the German” was in fact Felix Magath, an experienced and successful coach with an unimpeachable record. He was a Bundesliga winner with Bayern Munich who had run out of steam in Bavaria and was under pressure from above and from the fans – and the players were said to be not to keen on his old school discipline and emphasis on athelticism either. He was actively looking for a new club and a new challenge.
And we was seriously considering Boro. He had plans. Ambitions. He wanted to test himself in the Premiere League. He thought he would be a good match. It never came off and instead he went to Wolfsburg – one of German’s middling clubs outside the Magic Circle – and guided them first into the Champions League then later to the title.
For a second a radical departure was possible – but Steve Gibson promptly back-heeled the move and chipped the CV into the wastepaper bin. He said he didn’t want to turn the club into “Middlesbrough am Rhine” with an army of German speaking Teutonic coaches and nutritionists and scouts invading Hurworth and reshaping Boro along continental lines just as the Academy was starting to hit top gear.
“I looked at a German coach,” said Gibson. “He wanted to bring in a German fitness coach, German masseur, German players. We were going to become Middlesbrough-on-Rhine. It didn’t feel right. We had all these kids coming through from our academy. An outside manager might not recognise that, but Gareth knew.
“He is a good man, with integrity and fantastic football experience. He will make mistakes as he’s inexperienced, but he has the intellect to learn from those mistakes. That is why we went for Gareth over more experienced people.”‘
You can see the chairman’s point: a individual club culture is a fragile construct full of nuance and wholesale importation of an alien approach has rarely worked. At Chelsea under Mourinho maybe. And at Liverpool under Benitez maybe. Both both were backed with vast wads of cash. Boro were just entering a period of belt-tightening and it was unlikely that an experiment would be backed with the resources those two clubs could muster when it came to recruiting the players the new boss wanted.
But watching Germany’s steady revival on the international stage to Under 21 titles, and in the last World Cup and Euros with a young team playing precise penetrating football to an atheltic and attacking template, and watching their club sides slowly inch towards ascendency in the Champions League again you can’t help wonder ‘what if?
Germany failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the Euros in 2000 and immediately the national federation launched a nuts and bolts radical review of the entire structure from club academies up and instituted far reaching changes in youth development (similar skill-centred moves were afoot in Spain at the same time) which were taken seriously, backed by a determined FA and taken up right across the Bundesliga.
German football has been on the up since then with a fresh crop of hot-housed talent sweeping England aside first in the Under-21 European Championships and then the senior squad at the 2010 World Cup. Now German club sides look set to usurp Spanish and English clubs in European club competition. Watch out.
“The German” would have arrived at Hurworth with that cultural revolution in full swing and fully aware of the burgeoning talent in his home country.
If you squint a bit you can just see a scenario where a re-engineered Boro may have signed the likes of Schweinsteiger, Ozil and Podolski. Kroos or Gotze. Or if not them, starlets of similar ability, attitude and athleticism.
Sigh. Where could we have been if we had taken a different route away from the debris of Eindhoven? That’s the kind of thing I muse about while watching the Euros and Champions League on the gogglebox..
The English – or at least the patriotically blinded and proudly parochial one – may hate to consider this, but we have a lot to learn from Germany, and not just on the pitch.
German football has community and fan-based ownership models and strictly regulated governance models at clubs that ensures a Portsmouth or a Blackburn couldn’t happen.
Yes, they have their big clubs and the “50+1 ownership model” is not perfect – dominant Bayern are a Manchester United juggernaut financially and culturally and are similarly widely hated among ‘real’ German supporters nationwide – but the football economy is not completely distorted. It is a competitive league that has produced a string of different winners in a spell when the Premiership has become a closed cartel that has priced out ambitious challengers.
And it has a vibrant fan culture with engaged groups involved in club affairs, with massive safe standing terraces in well designed and engineered fan friendly new stadiums that help create a real atmosphere. As opposed to an opaque, unaccountable structure that freezes supporters out of all but the most trivial areas of the game. Sit down, shut up and give us your money.
And even at the top they have affordable pricing structures – and integrated free matchday transport systems – that do not price out ordinary supporters. Much in the German model is to be admired. And emulated. Certainly it has far more progressive elements within it that the current English model of naked profiteering by clubs eager to milk alienated fans of every penny possible, a model seemingly beyond control.
And with a little twist of fate Boro may have been ahead of the curve.
If only….


24 thoughts on “Mittlesburg-am-Rhein: The Strange Case of Boro And “The German”

  1. The irony is that we now seem to be heading for Europe on Tees with Mogga bigging up the scouting of Europe’s lower leagues to find low cost diamonds.

  2. if only indeed.
    The Riverside Revoloution just seems like a dream!
    i’ve woken up and we are right where we always where (except no Holgate)

  3. AV
    Having watched the last half hour of the game last night I noticed that there was still fencing behind the goal housing safe standing. Clearly it isnt the same stuff we had to house the thugs in the 70/80’s but it is fencing all the same.
    Is that the sort of thing required for safe standing in England? Is the angle of the terraces shallower than in seated stadiums?
    There seemed to be a lot more room than in the middle of the Holgate end!
    **AV writesI I think their fences are for well engineered and for safety rather than thrown up for containment. No razor wire though. There are very detailed articles on German stadium architecture on the web if you are interested in rake, capacity, sightlines and footflow figures..

  4. AV –
    Not that interested but it looked fairly decent from the TV pictures.
    I remember being on the Holgate when John Hickton equalised against ManU in the cup. I saw him strike the ball from the left edge of the box but was so wedged I never saw it enter the net.

  5. Very interesting bit of writing AV. Thank you.
    I watched the match and wanted Bayern to win, as did my kids.
    I think people get bored of Barca’s mass midfield possession/passing game.
    Once a Barca player had passed his man there was no point in a cross as they are all tiny so a nice passs back to the middle over and over. YAWN or well done Bayern for pressing and tackling deny ing the pass merchants time to bamboozle.
    I felt sorry for Pique [ the only big lad on the pitch for Barca] watching his Lilliputian mass passing midfield teammates playing a ‘ no one in the box style’ that reminded me a bit of Boro.
    Pique finally got hold of the ball and charged forward only to run into a German only area that was the final third.
    As far as a German manager goes…. Im all for it!
    Dont mention the war. [ sorry]

  6. Sorry to change tack here, but I heard about this whilst listening in the car to BBC Tees this afternoon. Just put into Google “Ironborough + film,” and you will bring up something of interest to most of us.
    From the 1940’s, a black and white fictional account of how an illustrated story gets into a “Picture Post” style publication, and about 18 minutes long, it is a short film. No surprise which town turns out to the fictional city of Ironborough! And you’ll see several parts of the old town, some of which are still there including where I work).
    It’s like a quick tour around “All our Yesterdays”, but forgive the clipped middle-class received pronunciation. Thank you, BBC Tees.

  7. Different Strokes for different folks, so long as it works and achieves the intended aim. Whether it is the pure Spanish style or the determined, organised and athletic German methodology its all fine by me.
    From a Boro perspective we need to find out why the tika-taka isn’t working. I suspect because the profile of the current squad despite new acquisitions in the Summer is now a hybrid, a kind of lightweight Teutonic ability being coerced to play tika-taka and failing badly.
    Out of the two styles the determined Teutonic method is the easier I believe to instil but not as attractive on the eye. It’s results that count at the end of the day, nobody remembers (or cares) about the gallant also-rans for their sterling efforts.

  8. That black and white newsreel is quite apt really.
    We could have “Apathe News” featuring the latest opinions on MFC.

  9. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…or words to that effect. For me one of the biggest failings of our Premier League years was not taking advantage of the global profile that the PL gave us
    In the Academy we have a priceless asset. In most developing countries across Asia, and Africa, there has been a demand for professional/elite level coaching and in Asia particularly there have been boys, coaches and clubs, able and prepared to pay for that. To give you some idea, Brazilian club Cruzeiro are generating in the region of USD2m a year from these activities
    The opportunities are much broader but here especially I feel we’ve really missed out (and continue to do so). The ‘small town in Europe’ self-perception is debilitating. It cripples our capability by limiting our vision as to what is possible
    What makes it all the stranger is that we trawled the world for players; in fact had it not been for the infamous ‘three points and you’re down’ fiasco the speculation was that we would have had a team the following season that would have made Real Madrid’s galactico’s look anaemic (AV as we’re looking back at what might have been I’d love to know the reality behind that speculation – just what might the team have looked like?)
    If you add to this the fact that Steve Gibson’s Bulkhaul transports to all corners of the world it becomes more difficult still to square the parochial mindset that doesn’t even stretch so far as Stockton
    Having a global interface doesn’t reduce the club’s ability to focus on its fans within its core market it just opens up additional possibilities and potential revenue streams – at a time when we’re desperately short of resources we need to re-evaluate our assets and legacy
    I watched the Bayern and Borussia Dortmund games, and yes perhaps the German’s have found the way to unhinge the supremacy of the Spanish game and as you say not just at club level.
    I agree with the points you make about the business structure and ‘football-fan first’ approach in Germany which again is the antidote to the antiseptic Premier League product that is starting to look and feel more than a little weary. the Germans broadcast matches internationally in English, they provide pre-match preview and post match highlights etc again in English…they’re catching up fast
    To some extent it’s self-destructive to ask ‘what if’, especially at times such as we’re enduring now, however it also helps sometimes to look back and re-evaluate our belief system as to what is possible in the future. What if we’d played the game at Blackburn, what if we’d appointed Magath, and what if we consign the ‘small town in Europe’ ideology to the bin…

  10. Well with the Champions Final just about guaranteed to be between the top Teutonic teams where does that leave Boro and the tippy tap…tikki tak or whatever football blue print being put in place?
    Personally I’m all for the German style of play and size of players. I would have had no problem with a German manager as against the wee one!! We have another quote where some unfortunate player is dragged to the front and says how he wants Boro to finish in style for the fans. Yeah right. Holidays already booked I think. Apologies for my cynicism.

  11. Interesting article in my paper this morning talking about football in Germany.
    The way the game is run is far better than here as mentioned regularly. What is intriguing is the fact there are concerns that there may be a big two developing and even worse total domination by Bayern.
    Thinking about it, there is a distinct possibility that the governance of the game could make stratification of the clubs worse than in England.
    They have a new TV deal coming which isn’t as generous as ours but is getting there. It seems to be distributed in the same way, top gets twice the club at the bottom unlike in Spain (I thought the top two getting 17x the bottom club but the report says it is 12x)
    Everything seems to be working in the favour of the top clubs. Overseas billionaires cant ‘distort’ the pecking order.
    Lots of other interesting stuff in their but an interesting view about tippy tappy football. Whilst the German teams play pass and move they were more progressive than their Spanish opposition. It isn’t possession for the sake of it, the intention is to go forward.
    There’s a thought for those who have watched the Boro and listened to Higgy bemoaning the fact we don’t play forward passes or get players in to the box.

  12. Dormo –
    Many thanks for the film reference. It’s a great find. There is a splendid essay on the film by David Walsh on the People’s Republic of Teesside website.
    The dubbing is dreadful, and of course you never get to hear a single Middlesbrough voice, in spite of the fact that the well-meaning theme is the importance of listening to the people. And the great Tom Hopkinson and Bert Hardy are both in the film, though it looks to me as though even their voices have been dubbed by actors. Stylistically the film is in the great tradition of the GPO Film Unit headed up by John Grierson and fellow Marxists and socialists in the 30s.
    AV’s current work in establishing and running this blog is part of a long and honourable tradition, and that is just one of the reasons it should be cherished.
    And AV, when was the last time an editor said to you, “Go out and try to get a story, and if nothing comes of it, enjoy yourself.”
    **AV writes: I’m not sure but I’ll have been wearing a trilby with a card marked ‘press’ tucked into the headband when I went out on that scoop.

  13. Steve Gibson said: “He (Felix Magath) wanted to bring in a German fitness coach, German masseur, German players. We were going to become Middlesbrough-on-Rhine. It didn’t feel right. We had all these kids coming through from our academy. An outside manager might not recognise that, but Gareth knew.”
    I am a big fan of SG and I accepted his point not to appoint an outsider when Steve Mac left us. But the answer above and reasons for Southgate’s appointment did not sound correct when appointing McStrachan. Wasn’t McStrachan an outsider? His appointment sounds even more weird now!
    Up The Boro!
    **AV writes: At the time the watchword was ‘continuity’ with a subtext about creating a Boro boot room that would build on the success of the McClaren era.
    The club were anxious to keep in place the professional and scientific structure that McClaren had built: the sports science department, the highly respected badged up specialist coaches, nutritionists, bio-metrical computer analysts etc. That was all seen as integral to the success under McClaren. They were worried that they would lose that skills base and have to start with scratch if “the German” arrived with his own people whereas they knew that Gareth would keep them and work with them.
    Within a year or two most of those specialist had left anyway. When Strachan arrived he had an obvious old school disregard for science and got rid of the extraneous elements he had no time for, including the sports medicine and scouting set-ups. He said he would rather spend the money on wages. That meant when Mogga arrived there was next to no infrastructure at the club.

  14. Nigel in Pattaya:
    Good points! They were made on this blog even before their circumstances became retrospective! It’s a regret that no notice was taken or that they weren’t acted upon at the time.
    The following may resonate with some in this connection – “You can take the boy out of Pallister Park but you can’t take Pallister Park out of the boy!” I found it almost incredulous that SG & KL (that’s clearly not Singapore and Kuala Lumpur!) didn’t seem to see possibilities beyond the five-mile radius either.
    That said, because of more fundamental realities, I’ve come to realise that any profile raising that attempted to create and ride a global wave, for the likes of Boro, would probably have been unsustainable over time. But I agree it would have been fun being part of expansive ambition for a while longer! SG’s focus was closer to Hurworth, however. Not even Stockton, let alone Singapore!
    As a personal aside – I’ve got happy memories of evenings in Tim Bar, dinners at Ruen Thai, shopping at Mick Mall & Big C and getting Honest Gems to manufacture an 18ct gold pendant for my daughter, to a back-of-fag-packet design I knocked out one evening while staying at Royal Garden Plaza, while my laundry got done for 12 baht at a little place on Post Office soi.
    Great days – never to return. Hmm!

  15. I can understand the logic in SG wanting continuity and appointing Gareth rather than ‘the German’, however I find it ironic that when appointed Southgate dumped the best of his academy players, so not much continuity there.
    I doubt that an experienced manager such as Magath would have wasted the clubs money on Mido and Alves. I also doubt that Magath would have allowed himself to be part of a three man ‘management committee’ as GS allegdly was alongside Lamb and Gibson.
    It really is well past the time to consign that era to history, it makes me shudder when I think of it.

  16. On a completely different note, did anybody spot this report in the Scottish Herald? Talking about Thommo (now playing for nothing at Hibs), it was very critical of Boro and was conceivably defamatory:
    ‘It is scarcely believable, in this day of forensic sports science, that he was the victim of such medical shoddiness while in England.’
    “Middlesbrough was different. In my first season there I played 19 games, and 17 of those were with a broken leg. It was dreadful, really. In my second game I fractured my fibula but tried to come back after about six weeks. The specialist told me I was fine, that I could play, but my leg was agony.
    “There was one week when the club said they were desperate for me to play, that they were short of midfielders, so I trained all week and tried to come back again, against Norwich, after a couple of months [in October 2010]. This time I lasted 43 minutes before my [broken] leg took another crack.”
    Having played on with an unseen fracture, Thomson was then carried off in a game against Leeds United …’
    So much for Strachan getting rid of the sports science section. Does this explain the injury plague?

  17. I think Ian Gill’s post (Apr 26 at 10.56 PM) above is spot on.
    Instead of employing Sport Scientists the Club simply needs to employ someone’s Mum. Take any Teesside mother whose son or daughter is not feeling very well and watch the doc’s and medical “experts” fob them off.
    Its not just Middlesbrough FC that suffers this malaise, Industry in general seems to have spawned a management generation where common sense seems to be almost dirty words (cite entire countries bankrupt). Considering SG’s entrepreneurial rise to wealth it’s surprising that he let himself be bamboozled by such “hangers on” offering very little value but no doubt huge salaries.
    Strachan may have been a little too basic in his hands on approach to Sports Science but its not hard to see why he came to the conclusion he did especially as purse strings were being tightened.
    It doesn’t of course in any way excuse the incompetence that Tommo suffered but the pain he must have been continually in would have the rest of us go down to the Family GP if not A&E, had he brought his Mum along with him I’m pretty sure he would have got sorted far quicker, along with a note excusing him from games.
    I often smile when I watch exec’s go headlong into issues and then exasperate at the incredulity that it didn’t work because it was “someone else’s” incompetence at carrying out their often very contrived and complex instruction which inevitably never got remotely close to addressing the causes let alone communicated effectively.
    “Tracing back to source”, “draining the swamp” whatever its dressed up as its all just plain old fashioned common sense which Mums seem to have in abundance.
    **AV writes: Love it. A mam on the bench would soon sort out a heavily rattled shin with a ruffle of the hair, a swish around with a tissue and little kiss on the forehead.

  18. So Tony is off to the continent with no money in his pocket to secure a few more half hearted rejects. He also wants to bring in more loan players next season despite their failure this season. More kids who disappear when the going gets tough, or donkeys with dodgy knees who keep better players out of the team.
    PLEASE TONY NO NO NO, NO MORE. I will not go and support that ethos.
    My son will not go and support that ethos, our family members, 14 in all (four season ticket holders) will all stay away,
    Why? We want to see the Boro kids in the team. I am truly sorry for Tony. However we don’t want to see his loan players,his European rejects or his has-been mates.
    WE WANT TO SEE A TEAM OF BORO KIDS supplemented with a few others. Preferably Brazilians sent to us by the little fellow,
    Tony is killing our Academy, our youth system and our hearts, NOT ONE SINGLE DEBUTANT FROM THE ACADAMY THIS SEASON. Also it looks certain that Tony will ditch Baily as he did Bates and Tony Mac, all committed players the fans loved.
    Tony, its time for you to go to the beach and re-think everything you’ve done and what your thinking of doing.

  19. “There are one or two areas that need strengthening”, said the manager.
    Who is he trying to kid. The defence was awful once again by all accounts.That will need more than one or two changes in itself.
    Then to talk about Josh McEachran being “high quality”, I do not think that the majority of the fans will agree with that. An attacking midfielder and not one goal to his name. Not much quality in the department.
    TM had better find a magic wand when he is looking for his diamonds, he is certainly going to need one.

  20. Arminia Bielefeld…
    Happy days approx 1 million years ago when I based down the road from there at RAF Gutersloh in the mid to late 80s.
    Saturday morning trips to the McDonalds there. Romantic meals with the first missus at the Korean resturant, and the occasional leaving do ending at the, erm, gentlemens club.
    Happy days indeed…
    And didn’t Uwe Fuchs end up playing for them? – the football club, not the gentlemens club…
    **AV writes: Yes, he was part of a legendary euphemism powered poaching front ling alongside Stefan Kuntz. Christian Ziege was manager in a disastrous six month spell that saw DSC dip into the third tier the Oberliga and BFPO derbies with the likes of Herford and Lippstadt.

  21. I looked at a German coach,” said Gibson. “He wanted to bring in a German fitness coach, German masseur, German players. We were going to become Middlesbrough-on-Rhine. It didn’t feel right. We had all these kids coming through from our academy. An outside manager might not recognise that, but Gareth knew”
    OMG. Steve that is exactly what we needed then and desperately so now.
    This for me is the most egregious of the many mistakes Gibbo has made during the “Riverside Revolution” years. I remember the renewed excitement I felt at that time when Gibbo promised us a managerial appointment “out of the top drawer”.
    This rejuvenated sense of optimism in me was somewhat deflated when shortly after he somewhat randomly announced that he did not want to appoint a foreign manager because a British one would understand the Premier League better.
    I could not believe how crass this view was, on so many levels. I checked on the top six of the PL at the time I noticed that five were managed by foreign managers and the other of course being Alex Ferguson.
    In general terms what a silly mentality to narrow the field down of potential candidates on such flawed rationale.
    Surely a boss appointing somebody into a very senior management position in any organisation would want the very best available ie one with the very best track record, whether they hailed from Dortmund or Dormanstown.
    AV thank you for confirming some of the detail on what has been rumoured over the years – a superb bit of journalism and I share your abject frustration of the club’s repelling of this particular German invasion, and I believe this point in the Boro’s contemporary story was a watershed moment that has cost us very dear indeed.
    You mention belt tightening post Eindhoven and Gareth Southgate’s reign was characterised by the selling of good players to be replaced by lesser ones.
    And the remarkable thing that struck me about Gareth Southgate was that he never seemed to have definitively planned a career in management and was just in the right place at the right time. I never, ever felt he was comfortable in the role and he seemed to lack confidence in his own abilities.
    I believe he should have been given his marching orders after the debacle of the FA Cup defeat at home to Cardiff – pound for pound the worst Boro performance I had witnessed in my 45 years as a fan.
    I always predicted that it would be his first and last job as a manager and that he would end up on a cosy couch, in a TV studio being an expert summariser – and who could blame him? Alan Hansen et. al. in the words of the great Ali, are not as dum as they look.
    By the way the start of the “belt tightening” would seem to have coincided with the onset of the worldwide credit crunch, and heavy investment by the club in its leisure industry diversification at Rockliffe.
    **AV writes: The belt tightening had started in the January of 2006 when McClaren wanted to bring in a defender on loan (I think it was Abdullay Miete) and was told there was no money and that he would have to wait until the summer – and would have to fund it by sales. That may have been when McClaren, always a very shrewd operator, decided to get out.
    With the club on an historic high, with a huge profile and still in the PL (and before the cuts started to bite), that was the perfect stage for a Great Leap Forward. It was huge historic missed opportunity.

  22. And emulated. Certainly it has far more progressive elements within it that the current English model of naked profiteering by clubs eager to milk alienated fans of every penny possible, a model seemingly beyond control.
    For me that is an accurate summing up of the Keith Lamb school of how to run a football club. He would not have dreamed of considering the need to treat the fans with any type of consideration or appreciation at all; especially in the light of season ticket sell outs.
    The measures being introduced for next season should have been in place when the house full signs were a regular feature.
    In contrast now these measures smack of desperation. The German way was not the Keith Lamb way but I reckon we needed desperately to have exactly that approach.
    Why? Because we have a narrow fan base and a perceived inferior brand – like a flower bed full of delicate plants that needed careful handling and nurturing.
    What we got was a cack handed gardener that left those in his care out in the cold on frosty nights, and then added insult to injury, trampled all over them the next day, without any semblance of remorse whatsoever

  23. As much as I enjoy and agree with your peice young man (thats wot you wrote nowt else unsavoury…just smiling at that Uwe Fuchs and the other guy) I cannot help thinking its just going to make those that are a little bit peeved even more peeved….which is one in the eye for those that accuse you of sucking up to the club…..steady.
    Anyhow, it does add fuel to the fire of Steve Gibson the “enigma”. No-one can doubt his commitment. Every mistake would seem to have some thought trail behind it. Personally I didnt think I would have much of a chance to a tourette like reference to old Lamby, but I do…get him out…oh he’s gone…hasnt he?
    Of course he has and the club is moving forward in the only way it knows how, with the wind in its face, Poundstretcher sails and a grumpy bag of soggy chips on its shoulders.
    The boro is like Danny Boyle..stay with me, when he was given shed loads of cash to splash on a film or two, he was out of his natural position, he didnt know what to do with it all and by his own admission made some porkers of films, when he was reduced to his mend and make do strategy we got 28 days later and Slumdog Millionaire…make your own connections.
    When we were booming, we made mistake after mistake after mistake, all masked by the full stadiums and some dodgy loans from Ramsdens** (how did you think they got so big?)
    Come on, be honest, you werent comfy on them trips to Wembley or having to go around vaguely happy all the time were you? and the PL is dull, over rated and costly.
    So yes, the Cherman experiment will go down in folklore as a bigger mistake than the three points, as each year goes by it will become satans talisman reaching the mythical status of when George Best was going to sign, but we have to let it go, we have to let it all go, because the game is going to change.
    Even if we had got the Rhinelanders in we would still be out of contention for the bigger splits coming in the game and unless the economy hadn’t suffered because we had gone all successful, gates would still have fallen and possibly to a level that would not sustain a loftier, but more precarious position.
    I once came third in a 1500m race behind Steve Cram, if he hadnt been so far in front and a better runner I could have come third in that race….sometimes your in your rightful place, sometimes your not, but going backwards isnt the right way forward.
    OK I admit it, I havent a clue what I am talking about, but I didnt start it!
    ** I possibly made that bit up

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