Charlton: A Fitting Frustrating Final Home Fixture

BORO did well to salvage something from the wreckage of what was probably the worst first half this season at the Riverside. And that is among some stiff competition.
Seven years to the day since the fantastic UEFA Cup fight back against Bucharest, Boro again came from behind – but that is where any similarities with the ‘Spirit of Steaua’ end.
Boro were carved open for the opener after 29 seconds and I’m sure at that point there were some people actively considering leaving at an earliest ever ‘here we go again’ moment. Boro should have had a penalty against them soon after as the rapidly depreciating Rolls Rhys hacked recklessly from behind to trip Fuller in the box – what did he think he was doing? – but somehow got away with it thanks to a generally poor referee waving play on. Then after 17 minutes they were two down thanks to a sloppy own goal off hapless Williams at the near post and if felt like an impending implosion. Plenty more considered an exodus right tthen I’m sure. It half crossed my mind.
At that point Charlton’s official club twitter feed was asking if anyone knew off the top of their head what their record away score was. And I don’tthink that was arrogance. It looked a genuine prospect. I considered tweeting them that we had lost 6-1 to Arsenal at the Riverside if they wanted a target to aim at. It looked bleak.
Boro were shambolic at the back, disjointed and lightweight in midfield and inept in attack. The youngsters that the disaffected ranks had been calling for – Adam Reach and Curtis Main – proved to be not Messiahs nor even naughty boys but just largely ineffective raw prospects looking still well short. The only real threat of the first half came when innocent bystander Marvin Emnes lolloped forward 60 yards from a quickly cleared corner looking more surprised than clinical sharpshooter only to get hacked down for what looked a stonewall penalty just before the break.
Boro were roundly booed off at the break which is both unsurprising and completely understandable. The frustrated deep seated jeering, the product of weeks of powerless dicontent, was interspersed with the odd audible angry expletive-peppered rants directed from the gentile West Stand Upper at the manager, which was a first. At that stage everyone was pretty much resigned to defeat. There were few signs of life. It was awful. We were faced with completely recalibrating the direometer.
Yet somehow in the second half they clawed back. That is not to say it was a markedly improved performance. It wasn’t. Not really. If anything it was Charlton who levelled the playing field with a markedly worst showing. Maybe they thought the job was done and took their foot off the gas. Maybe they suddenly remembered they were playing in the Championship so by defibnition they were rubbish too. Maybe Boro realised they couldn’t get any worse and relaxed a bit.
Boro did most of the attacking after the break (although they still nearly got caught on the break a few times) and gradually forced their way untidily back into the game. It was scrappy and laboured and until the double switch – McDonald buzzed about and started to take pot shots from anywhere and Ledesma added a bit width and creativity – it was toothless for all the potent but pointless probing of the lively Mustapha Carayol.
Then out of the blue Emnes stretched hopefully and shinned home a teasing chip into the near post from Ledesma (it was the first goal Charlton had connceded on the road for five games) and after some more huffing and puffing McDonald headed a late facesaving equaliser from a Ledesma corner. Hurray! We didn’t lose.
It still wasn’t great. After the game Mogga said he was angry despite the fightback – who can blame him – while on the whistle fans were left confused: they didn’t know whether if they applauded the fightback it would endorse the first half ineptitude, or if they booed it would seem churlish after the team crawled out of the wreckage. The “Lap of Honour” was a strained, muted, polite but not passionate affair with an almost tangible sense that the players were as glad as the fans to see the back of the Riverside for this campaign.
One more. Then we can draw a big black line under this season.


44 thoughts on “Charlton: A Fitting Frustrating Final Home Fixture

  1. I feel an awful sense of impending doom for next season, but then I would, wouldn’t I? I fail to see how this manager and his ne’erdowell backroom buddies can possibly save Boro from relegation despite all his seagulls/trawlers/pebbles/diamonds speak.
    After all, the football will be the same, the tactics and team / positional selection likewise – and who knows what quality of squad we’ll have? What will Gibson do should we find ourselves 10 games into the season with barely a point our name?
    Will the ‘project’ be terminated or will he simply put his fingers in his ears and whistle while Mogga fiddles and Boro burns?

  2. The game ironically reflected Boro’s season in reverse, one abysmal half and a much better half.
    It was amazing that a mass walk out did not occur after half an hour such was Charlton’s domination. It took a full 41 minutes until our first shot. The fact so many remained is testimony to their resolve.
    If the opening 4-1-4-1 line up was a complete mystery to me (but at least Mogga was being consistent) it looked an even bigger mystery to the red shirts out there. Defensively Bikey and Halliday had mares, Williams looked jittery then in the middle Smallwood and Leadbitter were headless chickens, Reach and Hoyte looked to be under instructions not to push forward so the game stalled when it came near them.
    Emnes in midfield was absent for the first 45 and Main looked a very lost and dejected figure all on his own against the two dominant Charlton CB’s who had their pipe and slippers out.
    Those 45 minutes were as disjointed and as bad as anything I have seen under the two GS’s or even towards the end of Robbo’s tenure. When in possession Boro assumed Statue tactics, stand still, don’t make runs, and make the player in possession have to create his own angles in order to pick out a pass.
    At half time Mogga was finished, abuse was building and clearly audible, Gibbo was being backed into an impossible corner. The start of the second was just as bad and it was only when Scotty came on to fight, scrap and battle that things changed.
    A shot, yes thats right a shot within seconds of joining the fray and another shortly afterwards lit the fuse, and so it was, Scotty saved Mogga’s blushes and Gibbo’s “plan” to stick with his man was very tattered but just about still intact.
    Standard 4-4-2 and playing the ball up the park instead of tippy tappy non progressive nonsense and Boro looked a different team. If only Mogga had changed tactics in the second half of the season instead of the second half of the season’s second last game.
    Hopefully this spluttering second half revival taught a lot of people a lot of lessons at the club. Make no mistake the “Plan” was looking very unsustainable at 55 minutes. Big changes, realisation and a lot of reflection needed this Summer.
    At the final whistle there was tacit appreciation for the effort made in the last 20 minutes which staved off an embarrassing end of season protest but it was clear both on and off the pitch that nobody was fooled.
    One final thing, for next season can someone please unplug Mark Page? Ot at least install a volume control knob. That atmosphere killer he insists on playing immediately after the run out music irritates immensely, nobody joins in or claps.
    At half time the fans were still on the ref’s back for the Emnes penalty appeal with the Boro players surrounding the ref. There was of course well deserved booing directed at the bench but there was also continual abuse from the crowd towards the official which could possibly have unerved him a bit putting more doubt in his already bewildered and confused mind.
    Then Mark Page deafens us with a low tech, low quality, cringeworthy advert for a local college blasted out at ear splitting level, completely oblivious to what was going on around him. Somebody needs to remind him he is the compere for amateur school age support acts, not the self indulgent main event.

  3. AV –
    Where did Mogga fly to yesterday? He said in public he was flying out to Europe to see a player after the match. Surely the Gazette put a reporter on the airport to see his destination?
    At least the close season has started nicely now as Arca and the loanees have “left” already. So at least something to look forward to after a disappointing second half of the season.
    Still I don’t think we can say Mogga has become a bad manager overnignt. He took us to safety after Strachan and then to the second place in the league at Christmas. And he is a manager who is committed to the cause of Boro where as McMoses was looking for a better job all the time. So let’s give Mogga more time.
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: They were all flying to different countries: Mogga, Venus and Proc. We are not sure where but Boro have been scouting extensively in France, Holland and Belgium this season and have had some inside track information from Croatia. So take your pick.

  4. Garbage,Embarrasing,a Joke !!
    I spent the first half talking to fellow Boro fans about how poor we have become, There was a lot of debate, with only one fan desperately defending Mowbray. The rest of us pointed to him losing the dressing Room, I said this had happened for me after we got slapped 4-0 at Ipswich. Oh and have a look where thy are now with a new manager.
    Anyway the general feeling is one of survival in this average league!!. Especially with the current manager and coaching staff at the helm. We are flat footed in midfield, When you watch us go forward we plod, Charlton came forward with their midfield SUPPORTING The forwards. We do not do this.
    I klay the blame at Mowbrays mis manmanagement and the players sacking off a GREAT Oppurtunity at the start of the year. I have not renewed , I will pick games as I see fit. But make no mistake this club and team are not fooling anybody!! If it was a pet you would have put it down by now. A major overhaul is required,
    Many managers would jump at the chance to manage our club. I feel for Mowbray he is a Boro Legend, He just needs to walk away like Strachan and let somebody else try. His tactics have been shambolic this year and why take Emnes off after scoring ??? Surely he could have waited another 5 mins while we had the momentum and actually looked like doing something. Anyway what do I know ?
    One player who I tipped to come good was Carayol , but fear his time with us will be wasted, as he will surely go onto bigger and better things with a different club as we will have to sell him at some point, perhaps when we are top one season and we off load him to say,,, Man City for £7m ? Ring any bells ??. Anyway rant over. My club is a joke at present . And I can’t see a change coming anytime soon.

  5. Respect to the 15,000 or so fans that turned out for the last home game. I hope Mogga finds the winning solution next season, whatever that might be. Spare a thought for Wolves fans right now, at least we managed to steady the ship..

  6. It was good to see Boro bounce back for once. Generally, once we go behind, you fear the worst. It seems to me that we have too many players whose confidence and form are brittle and dependent. They can only give their best surrounded by sound players in a team that is on top and playing well.
    Rhys Williams is a case in point. All too often, he looks fragile and erratic and is too easily dominated. However he can be impressive and look like an imperious Rolls-Royce – but only when in a succesful team and surrounded by the right players.
    Emnes is an even better example. His searing pace can be invaluable but, in the dross that has been the second half of this season, he has been an invisible passenger.
    Understandably, most of the younger players also fall into this category, which might explain Mogga’s reluctance to play them.
    We have very few players who can rise above the mire and give the team a lift. How often, this last couple of seasons, have we seen somebody take a game by the scruff of the neck, lift it out of bogged-down ineptitude, and transform a match?
    Every team needs resilient players of inherent character and experience who don’t get dragged down by prevailing mediocrity and can have a positive effect on those around them. Boro lack leaders on the pitch and this needs to be addressed in the summer to have a chance next season.
    **AV writes: I think two of those – one at the back, one in the engine room – are top of the summer list.

  7. nikeboro –
    Good post. I agree wholeheartedly.
    I would only add that what makes it worse is that the few leaders we do have seem to use their influence to disrupt.
    A clean slate with two or three hardened Championship performers added to the mix could make all the difference for us next year.

  8. **AV writes: I think two of those (leaders on the pitch) – one at the back, one in the engine room – are top of the summer list.
    Well, OK – but that’ll only work if the one at the back gets to lead a settled back line and the one in midfield has a partner sorted in the engine room – presumably Leadbitter with Smallwood as back up.
    The settled back line is only going to work if it doesn’t include Woody. Half of the season only – if you’re lucky – and then only half of those starts lasting more than some proportion of the first half won’t cut it in the ‘settled stakes’.
    And if you look beyond the reputation and judge him on this season’s performances even when he has been on the pitch, he shouldn’t command a place and has shown no evidence of being a ‘leader on the pitch’.
    Mogga is on record as saying that if he could find a settled back five he wouldn’t change them unless injury forced his hand. So, let’s see that next term – please.
    He’s said much the same about the two in the engine room and the first choice pairing up front. So, we may be closer to knowing the midfield two – assuming a ‘leader on the pitch’ can be brought in – but who are his front pairing?
    And will he play them as a pair or persist with the non-effective daftness of ‘splitting’?
    Answers on a postcard.
    With Carayol, Reach, Luke Williams and Ledesma (though I think he’s got to be treated s the ‘project’ he was, allegedly, brought in as rather than the ‘overplayed until the flaws overwhelmed him’ fixture he became) there’s the beginnings of some ‘flair and pace’ options out wide in either a 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1.
    But I’d still be looking at the likes of Adomah from Bristol City or Antonio from The Owls to supplement them.

  9. Another staggering display of managerial and coaching incompetence ! And this is the guy we are going to trust to take the club forward next season. Where is the evidence that he is capable ? That’s 12 points out of 50. Beyond belief!
    Juninho must have wondered what things had come to. What a sad, depressing decline from his time and little hope of improvement alas.

  10. John –
    Interesting listening to Higgie last night as they discussed next season.
    He hoped we would focus on what we were doing rather than setting out to match up the opposition. Go out and play, obviously be aware that certain players can pose problems but play our game instead of how to stop the opposition.
    Be more progressive has been his constant message. Same as Gary Gill really.

  11. “At half time Mogga was finished, abuse was building and clearly audible, Gibbo was being backed into an impossible corner.”
    Do you really think Mogga was gone if we lost what was ultimately a meaningless game?
    Again, I thought (bar the HT booing which you expect) the crowd was incredibly patient and got behind the team well in the 2nd half. Maybe it’s where I sit, but I didn’t detect any particularly anti-Mogga stuff.
    I think most sensible people realise he’s only half way through a rebuilding job and needs to be allowed to continue it next season.
    Ledesma looked more like the 2012 version than the 2013 version when he came on and a front six of Smallwood/Leadbitter/Carayol/Ledesma/Emnes/Jukebox would be a match for anyone in the division if they all are fit and have their heads screwed on right.
    If we can add to the squad as well once McManus, Bailey and maybe even McDonald are gone, then we’ve got every reason to be positive about next season.
    I fear we are stuck with McDonald however, though he did have one of his better games yesterday and actually found the net for once. Too little, too late. Mogga must be thinking about exiling him every few weeks next year, after that was the only time we got anywhere near enough out of him.

  12. ‘Total Speculation!’
    You may have heard about it, you may not, still I look at the season passed – it has passed hasn’t it? Please tell me that it’s passed – and have concluded that we have a sorry case of Moneyball gone badly wrong.
    The dignitaries at the Riverside Stadium I believe have some time since decided in their wisdom to initiate a program, a strategy, that would maximise team performance for the minimum of outlay.
    Unfortunately this strategy requires a modicum of belief so that the projections and the personalities can come through to the end and success. At no point in time can you simply, through lack of belief, pick the bag up and shake it rapidly thus turning it on it’s head ie., the team loses all sense of direction and confidence.
    “So Spartak”, I hear you say, “what’s the solution?” Well in true mercenary style I can reply “Tha gets nowt for nowt!” You want the solution you’ll have to pay for it.

  13. BoroPhil –
    Where I was sitting there was a stunned disbelief when the 1st goal went in but a pronounced silence at least, no knee jerking at that point.
    As the first half wore on and we were completely outclassed to put it mildly and the second went in and the stonewall penalty we got away with plus the cheers from the Charlton fans as they passed the ball around the pitch in total freedom things around me became very despondent.
    Ardent Mogganista’s were in shock, people who have defended Mogga resolutely were muttering that this was a joke beyond belief and how they could no longer defend the indefensible.
    Remember the ironic jeers when we had a shot in the 41st minute? Emnes’s burst down the middle and scything down fortunately muddied the half time response allied by a Big Brother style Mark Page blast of a 1970’s style college advert blaring. At that point had the performance continued in the 2nd half there would have been plenty of dissent at the end of the game.
    Now I’m not saying Wolves type kicking advertising hoardings or Geordie lets trash our own town but the honeymoon with Mogga was finished. We have discussed on here before about what level of disaffection there is towards Mogga, some say 40% some say 60% and some well over 80%. Where I was sitting at 16.00 on Saturday it was well over 95% without a shadow of a doubt.
    The genuine fear was we were staring at a Charlton team that looked to be heading for a repeat of their away day drubbing of Barnsley. Anyone who is in any doubt just think back to what happened when the Boro players entered the pitch for the second half, no standing fans, no clapping, nothing, there was a collective indifference except for the Charlton fans.
    The arrival of Scotty changed the game (fair play to Mogga for making the switch) along with Ledesma. We suddenly looked like we were at least going to go down fighting and the rest as they say is history.
    At the end of the game the torrent of frustration which was building up steam changed to recognition of the effort made in the comeback but if anyone at MFC think otherwise then they are seriously deluded.
    No doubt Gibbo would have stayed behind Mogga and backed him regardless to save face but Saturday was very nearly the tipping point, even before the game there was no clear indication of whether there would be a lap of honour at the end. In fairness the players done themselves proud by applauding the few remaining fans and giving their shirts away.
    Mogga the Teesside legend has had more support during the worst management points tally in living memory (2013) than any Manager or Chairman would have dared to hope for. On Saturday Scotty gave him a final get out of Jail free card. There are a lot of under 30’s fans who have never seen Mogga play or too young to really remember him. There is not the same level of sentimentality as there is with the more mature fans, all they see is a demoralised Team that looks dysfunctional getting beat week after week.
    This summer Mogga has undeniably the worst budget of any Boro manager since Lenny Lawrence to dabble with, his signings of Carayol, Leadbitter and Friend give us some hope but equally there are some other signings who have been poor to date and very poor at that in certain cases.
    How he stops the rot before August will be interesting, if he manages to stick to his footballing ideals and principles and produces a half decent side then fine, if current 2013 form continues into October then regardless of sentimentality, space ships or pure blind faith the shrinking crowd will become more restless and more vocal in their dissent.
    Personally I’m not convinced that Mogga’s beautiful but tactically confusing footballing ethos is the answer based upon what I have witnessed thus far and his recent management history but I’m happy to be proved wrong.

  14. Time for the manager to go. That first half was terrible! Worst of the season. Charlton could have been 4-0 up by half time. McDonald might have saved Mowbray’s job for a few month at least. its not going to get any better next season.
    The announcement that the manager is off to europe scouting on monday is a joke. Its just PR spin before the season is out. why tell the world you are off to watch a match. if it was serious you would want to keep it quiet so other teams don’t get to hear about it. Maybe Gibson wants you to go while he looks into a new manager.
    Next season is going to be no better. The better players wil be leaving and replaced by players from a European experiment. By Xmas we will be saying they need time to adjust..another season will be written off.
    Let’s change the manager now so the new man has all summer to get players in. It wil be a mess when we have to sack Mowbray in November and the new manager will have nothing to work with apart from some poor cheap foreign signings

  15. The Curious Incident of The Mogg in The Night-Time
    On discovering his team dead on the pitch at The Riverside, our intrepid hero sets out to find out who is responsible. Unfortunately he has a disability…Blind Faith; however this is not going to stand in his way.
    After reading an old newspaper he finds hidden in his Father’s bedroom he realises this could all stem from an incident that led to a three point deduction. Armed with this information he sets off for that there London.
    During his journey he learns that there were many subsequent mitigating circumstances. A shadowy figure, that speaks with a dodgy Dutch accent. A young inexperienced manager who watched in vain as some bigger boys came and walked all over his plans, resulting in an unexpected relegation. Then finally a deranged Jock, who tore the club to pieces, before almost disappearing up his own backside.
    The wreckage was re-assembled but the damage was done. This was not Scrapheap Challenge, cobbling together a team from cast off items was never going to work. If it is in the scrapyard, then there is usually a good reason for it.
    No, this would call for a much bigger rebuilding job. Plans were set in motion to use spare parts from untapped foreign climes.
    Will he find the culprit, or can the team be miraculously revived? Who knows, but time is running out…..
    **AV writes: Excellent spoofage. I can’t wait for the next exciting episode.

  16. Matt A –
    I saw the interview Scott McDonald gave and it was clear he included himself in that comment.
    I think Mogga did right to give Reach and Main more time on the pitch. They should have had more earlier last season and this. No point playing loan players who are not going to be here.
    Craig Hignett made an interesting comment. He said it looked almost like Reach had been instructed not to go forward. He also said he wasnt the worst player on the pitch and it was possibly unfair to give him the hook.
    It was also revealing listening to Mogga about Emnes. I believe I read some time ago that Marvin has had some problems. His style of play is so languid if he isnt spot on mentally he can look awful.
    Someone like McDonald can look busy, even if he is missing chances he can link play. Even so he lost confidence in the bad run like everyone else.
    It will be good to move on at seasons end.
    As an aside, in the debate about Mogga, colleagues here in the East Midlands cant understand how he is still in a job. That is not my view so you cant shoot me for mentioning it.
    **AV writes: No-one from outside can understand it – but then, you wouldn’t expect them to see, appreciate or care about the crucial remedial work underpinning the foundations on a tight budget going on behind the scenes.

  17. There seems to be as much vitriol directed at Scotty on various Boro blog sites as there is towards Mogga himself.
    Whilst Scotty’s goals scored may not be a great attraction for any prospective purchasers it should be noted that in a lot if indeed not most games he wasn’t played as a striker but someone out wide who was supposed to offer width, pace and cutting inside to score. That being an irrefutable fact perhaps his goals tally would be better compared with Wilfried Zaha rather than out and out down the middle strikers like Austin or Murray.
    Then contrast how many penalties Scotty has taken and how many the Championship top scorers have taken and scored (seven in the case of Murray) then take a look at the amount of goals scored from coming on as a substitute, Scotty heads this one with the most goals (probably because other sides actually play their best strikers rather than tinker with them sat on the bench).
    To balance the argument Scotty has missed the target an awful lot more than some of the other top Championship strikers in percentage terms which indicates he does snatch at things from time to time and blast them high wide and handsome.
    Having said that what type of service did he receive when trying to score because here for me is the source of the real problem. Slow predictable side to side passing which by the time he got the ball in the box he was smothered by opposition defenders who could read the build up very easily (the recent Brighton game is testimony to this when he blasted one wide and then took a touch too many in another attempt when surrounded by two central defenders on his toes blocking his route to goal).
    Don’t even start me on Boro set pieces when a Striker should be in his elemnet, disastrous and poor supply even by Pub Team standards!
    Could he have done better? Perhaps, but his overall workrate whilst on the pitch puts at least half of the squad to shame. Prolific scorer maybe not but impossible to judge until he is played to his strentghs and not to accomodate some failed tactical mess to counter a different opposition every single week. Is this perhaps why Mogga got rid of him at Celtic? Is this perhaps why there was a “difference of opinion” earlier in the Season and conforming to tactics which he sees as unworkable not his strong point along with another individual at the club?.
    The result overall was less than it could and should have been and as a consequence everybody has suffered, club, fans, manager, chairman and the player himself. Blame, yes definitely but it needs to shared out and not looked at in isolation.
    Maccarone or Alves cost three – four times more, then there is the great Dong Gook Lee in the recent history of great Boro Strikers or away from Boro, Andy Carroll or even Torres for that matter, didn’t RVP go through a quiet spell this Season when he couldn’t score.
    With regards to a previous comment by another poster about Mogga playing the youngsters, fair point but to play an inexperienced starting line up and then to go 4-1-4-1 with them supported by a comedic defence (supposedly the most experienced part of the side apart from Halliday) is not what the fans were asking for. Main up front on his own against two big strong, disciplined and organised defenders who had not conceded in how many matches?
    **AV writes: You forget ot compare his wages with Austin, Zaha and Murray. You could forgive a lack of finishing prowess or an average goal return and be happy to keep him on that basis if he were on average wages but when he is on top whack you need a match of the match display and tearing up the division pretty much every week. I know the wages “aren’t his fault” but that particular inescapable problem is at the heart of the cloud of frustration that surrounds him.

  18. Back to the Scottie debate.
    He scores 1 every 192 minutes. It isnt bad.
    He can trap a ball, that puts him way in front of Miller and Juke.
    He can see a pass and play a pass, that puts him way in front of Miller and Juke.
    He can hold the ball and buy time should midfielders decide to wander forward – forget that one. No point having the skill if it is wasted.
    But he should be because he has played international football.
    Forget the wages, there again he can do at least two things Miller and Juke cant. The main thing he has in common is missing sitters.
    His barren spell largely coincided with us not creating chances and that shot everyones confidence.
    One has a sneaking suspicion Scottie = Strachan in many supporters eyes. Any fool can win the title in Scotland.
    It isnt all Scottie’s fault, it isnt all Woodie’s fault.
    It certainly isnt all Mogga’s fault.
    There are loads of areas to improve. Our dead ball delivery is nearly as bad as our dead ball defending.
    The squad isnt stronger than last season, certainly in feistiness. I think we have missed McMahon and Robson not least for their set piece delivery. I am not advocating they should have been kept at all costs.
    Robbo’s age was against him. No doubt I will get the fact he wasnt defensively disciplined enough. Pah! It couldnt be any worse than what we have. It was probably time for Macca to move on as well.
    They were not replaced and from what AV says it looks like Mogga will be looking for players in those areas.
    The list is endless and I have to catch the post.

  19. Would anyone care to investigate how many goals per game McDonald has scored under Mowbray’s tactical incompetence compared to how many he scored in his favourite position under Strachan? I suspect his rate is better under Mogga.
    Following on from nikeboro’s post re players who look good in succesful teams but fade when the going gets tough – a Villa fan at work thinks that extends to Downing, whilst we both agreed it applies to Adam Johnson as well. Coincidence? Probably.

  20. “**AV writes: You forget to compare his wages with Austin, Zaha and Murray. You could forgive a lack of finishing prowess or an average goal return and be happy to keep him on that basis if he were on average wages but when he is on top whack you need a man of the match display and tearing up the division pretty much every week. I know the wages “aren’t his fault” but that particular inescapable problem is at the heart of the cloud of frustration that surrounds him.”
    My guess is that he is probably on three times what those guys are on at least. If someone offered me three times my current salary I and every single other attendee at the Riverside Stadium would break their new employers arm off let alone snap their hand off.
    He clearly had a very good agent and Boro are poor at contract negotiation and whilst one would hope to get a return commensurate with what they paid out I doubt if I or anyone else could give any potential employer a threefold improvement in anything other than commitment.
    How many goals would he have to score to justify his commitment and salary and at what level of service quality should he expect to receive from team mates in order to provide those returns?
    Lets take a look at some of our recent goalscoring greats and their total Middlesbrough record,
    JFH – 58 games and 22 goals average 2.63 games/goal
    Viduka – 72 games and 26 goals average 2.76 games/goal
    Ravanelli – (highest paid Premiership Footballer at the time) 35 games and 17 goals average 2.05 games/goal
    Boksic – 68 games and 22 goals average 3.09 games/goal
    Hickton – 415 games and 159 goals average 2.61 games/goal
    Slaven – 307 games and 119 goals average 2.57 games/goal
    Scotty – 115 games and 37 goals average 3.10 games/goal
    Scotty this season its 31 games and 12 goals which is 2.58 games/goal.
    Scotty’s record is on a par with Alen Boksic who cost £7m, was paid probably double (allowing for inflation) yet he is seen as one of the Boro greats and recently given the red carpet treatment.
    Scotty’s efforts for this season are on a par with Bernie’s (and better than all except Ravanelli), unfortunately I can’t find stats for blades of grass covered compared with Bernie but I think we all know the answer to that one.
    If Miller hand’t nicked (and in my mind Miller was right to ensure it went in at the time) Scotty’s goal earlier in the Season Scotty would be at a 2.38 average year to date. If the rest of our squad had shown the same level of improvement we would have walked the league.
    Viduka, Hasselbaink, Ravanelli and Boksic on a transfer fee/wages paid/per game should then have been scoring at least a third more if not double their tally compared to Scotty or conversely Scotty should have only scored half of his goals based upon their costs/salaries.
    I hear all the Mogganista’s shout “but they were in a tougher division” but they were paid and cost handsomely more than Scotty is. Hickton and Slaven played most of their football at the same level or thereabouts yet they are elevated as almost immortal (and quite rightly) in Teesside legend.
    Admittedly things like cups or injuries and substitute appearances can slightly skew those figures but not to any great extent except with the exception of penalties probably (and all that will mostly work against Scotty).
    I go back to my original post above where I believe that if Scotty had started more and also been played as a conventional striker (anyone remember Hickton or Bernie on the wing? thought not) then he would have scored even more goals for us but despite being the most inconvenienced striker in recent Boro history (how many penalties did the others take?) his goals per game record is not that bad considering the Team he is playing in has been one of the poorest tactically set up for any striker.
    Hope he doesn’t score on Saturday because that would really improve his ratio and have the Ra Ra’s telling us he only turned up for the last few games of the season (not that any of the above greats ever done that of course, coughs aside loudly). Lord help us if he scores four at Hillsborough because that would better Ravanelli’s strike rate (guaranteed to be benched now at best!).
    Like him or loathe him his record is not that bad and as regards his salary “it what it is” despite him never playing alongside a settled partner (unlike most of the above) or being paid what most of them were paid (with the obvious exceptions of “Olde world money” Hickton and Bernie).
    I think some Boro “fans” need to remove their heads from that “cloud of frustration” and see whats going on in front of their eyes.

  21. Whilst being pleasantly amused at the spankings given to Alan Partridge and the Mackem Mussolini’s boys this weekend, I hope for Boro’s sake that neither of these clubs or Villa for that matter get relegated.
    Getting promoted next season will be hard enough as it is, without having any of those three clubs joining the mix.
    **AV writes: I don’t know… poor sides, massive debts, summer of chaos, financial dislocations, fan revolts – whoever comes down now need to be mentally strong and united and willing to take the financial risk to bounce back. There are no guarantees that the parachute will open.

  22. BoroPhil – “a front six of Smallwood/Leadbitter/Carayol/Ledesma/Emnes/
    Jukebox would be a match for anyone in the division if they all are fit and have their heads screwed on right.”
    That’s one very big IF for the last of those three!! Emnes hasn’t had his head screwed on all season, it seems to me. And where is Juke anyway? Is he on the naughty step? Is he injured? Or has his complete lack of skill and form shoved him way down the pecking order and into the ressies?
    A comment on the awful Charlton game. Rolls Rhys? Nah, more like Rhys Pudding. He was playing tippy-tapioca for the whole of the first half! And even creamed one into his own net.
    And finally, on the Scotty debate – if only he had taken the penalty at Leicester. Not only would that have improved his average (ta very much for those fabulous striker stats, Redcar Red!), but it might also have re-ignited our promotion push if we’d equalised. Instead, a shot-shy Emnes, sadly lacking in confidence, took it and missed. The rest is history.
    I’m not going to Sheffield.Just can’t be orsed.Roll on the end of the season. I’m going to drown my sorrows, lie back and enjoy the cricket. Maybe, round about August time I might just manage to generate some enthusiasm for another 46 game weary trudge through the Championship. Then again, maybe not.

  23. The retention list should comprise of Steel, Hoyte, Smallwood, Main, Leadbitter, Carayol, Reach and Gibson. The rest have shown to be inconsistent or injury prone.
    The before mentioned list perhaps should be the core players Mogga refers to. Yes more core players are needed to provide stable and consistent team selection. Mogga needs to forget about this rotation policy as this has proved to be a recipe for disaster.
    Also Mogga appears to have an inability to recognise how to assess a players strengths and weaknesses. Football is not a science and I think managers get carried away with a lot of technical stuff which is beyond the brain capacity of a lot of players.

  24. Andy R –
    It interesting to look at Scotties goals per minutes because he only had 24 starts out of the 31 appearances this season. That gives him one every 192 minutes, basically one in two.
    Paulista Park –
    The performances of young players will go up and down as the learn. The problem we have is that they are probably undercooked. They got very few chances last season and not many more this. It takes time for them to come through but they wont if they don’t get any pitch time.
    It is a tricky balance.

  25. Redcar Red –
    Great stats and I agree that Scotty must be rated more at Teesside. I have a feeling that he and Juke will form our strike force also next year – together with (possibly) Emnes. Not a bad strike force on this level (if we can keep Emnes fit).
    The real problem has been the defence and midfield. Imagine if Rhys were not injured or Carayol either. We would have been in the play-offs by now. But that is history and let’s concetrate about the leaking defence this summer and put some steel(e) in the midfield for next season. Carayol will be the best player in the Championship next season!
    Clive –
    I am sure your appetite for Boro is back for next season. I know your passion behide your friendly character. The season cannot be any worse next season. We will get up next year as we were in front of the timetable this season. Patience, mate.
    Up the Boro!

  26. If Boro has had a difficult year in 2013, what about Newcastle then? A real home hammering by Liverpool and they are now 4th from bottom in the PL. And the manager in on a seven year contract. Neither the manager or owner are locals. See where they have dropped from (last season 5th or something and in Europe).
    Boy, I am rather a Boro fan (as ever). And keep Mogga for an extra year under Steve Gibson. Up the Boro.
    PS. If we talk about our Academy, how about Ben Gibson for a centre back for next season? He was virtually a ever-present at Tranmere before his injury (and Tranmere’s fall from top of the division).

  27. McDonald scored plenty earlier on in the season coming in off the wing. He actually played very well there before Xmas. Put him up front and the ball often bounces off him because is control is generally terrible so I can understand why Mogga does it.
    Fact is, the only time he was performing this season was after Mogga gave him the kick up the backside. For the 2nd half of the season, normal service has been resumed. He is a total waste of space and comparing him to Ravanelli and others is utterly ridiculous.
    **AV writes: The bottom line is, like him or not, whether he plays wide, deep, up-front, split or as rush-keeper, the club are hamstrung by his presence on the wage-bill. It is not his fault, but he is a legacy of a crazy splurge and the failure to move him on strangled recruitment last year and could do again this year.
    That will still apply even if this manager goes and a new one comes in. People can dress McDonald’s stats up any way they want (and the stats show he is a 12-14 goal a season striker in the Championship which makes him alright but no world-beater) and put any spin on his position they want. They can use him as a stick to beat the boss with if they must- but the finances remain the same.

  28. Jarrko –
    Thanks for the words of encouragement, my friend! At the moment I feel more like watching the synchronised swimming.More excitement! I’m sure you’re right though – come the new season I will no doubt drag myself up to Teesside again in the hope (rather than expectation) of a successful season. I hope you can get there sometimes, too – we always seem to do better when you’re around!
    Simon Fallaha –
    Nobody has ever complimented me on my puns ever before. (I know that’s hard to believe!) For many years, I’ve just been used to accepting the inevitable groans of people suffering from my sense of humour.
    It’s a bit like watching Boro – many more groans of exasperation than whoops of ecstasy. After a while, your confidence takes a knock.I’ve tried to read between the lines of your post to spot the trenchant irony, but your sentence is too short. I have to take it at face value and accept the compliment.
    So, many thanks for the vote. My confidence has been fully restored- I now feel like Marvin Emnes after shinning a jammy goal on Saturday. Over the moon!
    Whoa – what’s that? My number on the sub’s board? Yer jokin arnyer? I’ve just scored a belter and he takes me off!
    **AV writes: But we have seen your big white teeth and that’s a big positive for us.

  29. AV –
    People are wrong to use McDonald to beat Mogga over the head. The wage bill is a problem and he is a big part of that.
    By the same token his wage shouldnt be used to beat him over the head. Whilst he is a member of the squad he should be treated as such.
    I actually like watching him play. I also like watching Emnes when he he is playing well. I am one person who hasnt called Emnes a waste of space. His loss of confidence has a big effect on the way he plays because of his style.
    McDonald’s loss of confidence meant he missed chances. Same goes for Juke and Miller. It is the same problem for all of them. The defence clearly has lost confidence which is why we are so leaky.
    You cant heap blame on one person be it a Strachan import, a work in progress or the coaching staff.
    Friend looks a far better defender now he is in the treatment room. Main becomes a prolific score, Rhys becomes the answer to all our problems. Collectively they have had a mare since Christmas.

  30. “…they didn’t know whether if they applauded the fightback it would endorse the first half ineptitude, or if they booed it would seem churlish after the team crawled out of the wreckage.”
    That’s the basic problem with your boo – not very versatile as a noise. And, like its linguistic near neighbour the grunt, unless it’s deployed clearly and unequivocally (see B Robson’s final ‘lap of honour’) it can easily be misconstrued.
    My advice, kids: practise safe booing – keep it for X Factor.
    **AV writes: I think you are right that the problem with booing iis the lack of nuance.
    I’ve never really “got” it. I see no point whatsoever in indescriminately targeting an individiual. Even if they realise it is aimed at them it won’t make them play better and is more likely to damage morale and performance. Personally, I wouldn’t respond to booing me writing. I would just think anyone doing it were morons who didn’t appreciate what I was writing or why. I can see a case for booing a team collectively after a really abject display and I’ve done it, usually ironically while laughing but generally I’m more likely to mutter and swear under my breath .
    The one that really puzzles me is booing a substitution. What is it intended to convey? Are people booing the player going on or the player going off? Or are you booing the manager? Even if you don’t know if a player coming off is injured or if one going on is part of a pre-arranged attacking switch? Maybe it is a pre-emptive philosophical condemnation of a presumed subtle tactical change that only the jeernoscenti can see? Booooooooo.

  31. I’m amazed at the criticism of our academy
    players particularly Reach and Main .
    It’s now 2years since Reach made his goalscoring
    debut against Doncaster , whilst he didn’t
    possess the jinkyness of Johnson or the pace
    of Downing , I still thought we’d unearthed
    a gem . Fast forward to present day , we have a kid devoid
    of confidence and self belief , likewise Main . 15 months
    ago he didn’t look out of place against Sunderland in
    the cup replay , scored quality winners against
    Derby and Millwall , yet found himself benched or
    not in the squad soon after. This season he
    single handedly took on the Leeds defence and
    won us the game , next game he was available
    he was benched for Emnes ! Thankfully Smallwood
    has shown recently he still has the same drive and
    passion he showed when he ran the Cardiff midfield
    ragged in the 3-0 hammering two years ago .
    The lack of progression to the next level is down
    to Moggas poor man-management , bizarre
    team formation and inconsistent player selection

  32. Maybe I can ask a question? Looking through the squad, and comparing the players now to how they looked at the start of the current season, which of our players have improved in their performances on the field and/or their value on the transfer market?
    **AV writes: Steele has done enough early on to beef up his price-tag. Hoyte was a free last summer and must be worth respectable money now. Friend could put together a half decent highlights video (although he could really do with a ‘worldie’ in there to push up his price) and Muzzy Carayol is worth more than we paid.
    What do other readers think?

  33. Phil, do you sit in the West Stand Block 7? I think you were one of the Reachettes sitting behind me!
    The alternative to your theory is that these young lads aren’t actually that good, not yet at least. Mowbray would like to play them more but they’re not ready. He sees them every day in training and is uniquely positioned to judge their development. Of course if he played them regularly and they failed he’d be accused of flogging a willing horse.
    I stand by my comment that we’re experiencing an Academy lull; that, along with a lop-sided wage bill and the absence of a scouting network has made Mowbray’s job very difficult. We should cut him a bit of slack.
    Great question from FD but I got a bit depressed thinking of an answer. I calculate that the over the season the depreciation in value of our two prize assets (Emnes and Williams) is probably greater than the current net transfer value of the whole squad. Not a great start to an era of Financial Fair Play.

  34. Don’t understand all the McDonald haters on here!
    What you get from him is 110% for every minute he is on the pitch,he never stops running and trying and for a small guy wins a very high percentage of headers. Yes he misses clear cut chances but so does Torres and look at how much he cost and earns.
    Compare him to £20k a week Emnes who trots around, doesn’t look interested, would rather dive than shoot, and watch him close when challenging for a header. He doesn’t. He never has his eye on the ball. He half heartedly jumps and pretends to challenge for it. I’d rather have a committed £35k a week McDonald than a lazy £20k a week Emnes!
    Smallwood,Reach Main and Williams!
    Smallwood! Another hard working player who with regular game time can only get better and pop up with the odd goal or two.
    Reach! Flatters to deceive and not as good as everyone thinks he is. Never seems to do well when starting and only good as an impact sub that scores the odd wonder goal. Reminds me of Tarmo Kink!
    Main! I’d give him more game time,he’s strong,quick and has a good eye for goal!
    Williams! A bit like Reach, flatters to deceive. We were told at a recent supporters club meeting by a player that he needs to work harder and recently he had come bottom in a gym test that all the players had done,so that seems to explain why he hasn’t had any game time!

  35. It was heartening to hear Mogga pay tribute to Dyer’s professionalism, especially his quiz organising skills. Jesus wept. Tongue in cheek?..

  36. I don’t think you always do get 100% from McDonald. He turns it on at times, and he is the type of player who plays best when he is fired up. Mogga got him fired up at the start of the season, and he played better.
    But really – for £35k/week surely we expect a bit more than running around a lot?
    It’s easy to say Emnes is lazy. He’s clearly a confidence player, and he obviously lacks self-belief. It’s up to Mogga to get the best out of him and it obviously hasn’t worked this season. I’d love the real Emnes to be back next year, but equally I wouldn’t be upset if he left now.
    Where has it been confirmed he is on £20k/week? I’d be a bit surprised at that considering he re-signed relatively recently.
    **AV writes: I wouldn’t be surprised if he was on that. He arrived as a ‘project’ and while he won’t have been on “silly money” then it would have been decent as a £3m signing and a Premier League squad player, say £8-10k to start. Then it will probably have had built in annual pay-rises (20% is not unusual) and maybe increments based on appearances. Four years and 100 games in I think he would have been nudging well up into the upper teens even before he signed a new deal with Swansea lurking.

  37. If he is on £20k, then if we reckon our weekly wage bill is about £300k then Emnes, McDonald, Bailey and McManus probably make up almost a third of that – 33% of the entire wage bill on people who Mogga doesn’t want, didn’t sign and/or haven’t performed.

  38. Paulista Park –
    I don’t know how good Reach or Main are , they could be the next Owen Magee , Paul Proudlock or Ian Arnold (early nineties teenage hopefuls who fell by the wayside ). Or they maybe better.
    Downing had nowhere the initial impact that Reach had yet he went to the Mackems on loan , came back and within three years of making his debut we had a £15m rated player getting an England call up .
    The point I’m making is that under Mowbray we don’t know. They have one bad game and their discarded to the bench or dropped altogether , for players
    who aren’t any better.

  39. AV, do you have a fag packet calculation for staging an August pre season friendly at The Riverside please?
    **AV writes: Unless they can line up a team that will put bums on seats (or unless Juninho is willing to play again) I can’t see it. They cost more to stage than they make on the gate. I’d prefer “home” friendlies at places like Synners, Billy Town, Marske, Thornaby and Guisborough like back in the day.

  40. Grove Hill wallah –
    A free friendly/fete day. That’s a great idea, perhaps there could be a stall where ex players/managers sit in the stocks and have wet sponges thrown at them? I’d pay a tenner to throw a wet sponge at Billy Ashcroft any time!

  41. If and when Bikey and McManus leave, we need a CB quickly to have competion for places in there. Gibson and Hines can be competing but we need a leader in there together with Woody and Rhys.
    I think we also need a right back even if Hoyte signs for another season.
    We have still quite a strong attacking department in Scott Mc, Emnes (remember last season?), Jutkiewicz and Main. Perhaps another striker to go, though.
    But the midfield is where we are the weakest now as Arca and McEachran have already left. We have Carayol, Reach, Smallwood, Leadbitter and Haroun – but we still need steel and experience over there. Especially so if Bayley leaves after his contract is out. Zemmama still has a year left but we still might need three new midfielders.
    So we need a minimum of a CB, RB, three midfielders and possibly a striker, too. And that is without any player leaving with a fee! It is gonna be a busy summer again for Boro.
    Up the Boro!

  42. Quote: I’d pay a tenner to throw a wet sponge at Billy Ashcroft any time!
    He’d get concusion and go on to score with the sponge!

  43. Never mind the squad rebuild how about doing something with the blog?
    Not the content but the trials of getting on it and posting.
    AV have you tried it as an ‘outsider’ on a reglar basis?
    It is a real pain in the nether regions with constant pop ups and adverts only to have a post turfed out. Last summer we were promised a Mogga squad to take us to promotion and a blog fit for an awarding winning journalist.
    At least the team has only been crap since Christmas.
    **AV writes: The new integrated website/blog system should be live in a month, I’m getting “training” on it next week. Future proofed bells and whistle. New lappy. The works. I can’t guarentee the content will improve mind.

  44. AV, I think the links and updates (new posts) has been much better on this blog recently. Or we have got used to using this funny old blog.
    So it is all new for this blog during the close season. I hope you will have all the new bits and pieces in place soon as well as Mogga should have new players installed quickly.
    I hope for a superb season in here as well as on Riverside come August. Up the Boro (and EG)!

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