Mogga’s Exit Is Sad But No Surprise

MOST supporters will have been saddened but not surprised at the departure of Tony Mowbray.
The manager was axed last night by chairman Steve Gibson who feared Boro were drifting towards relegation danger in a season that was supposed to be one of upward trajectory.
His exit – exclusively broken by the Gazette on-line – now may salvage a strangely shrinking season and should also protect a thoroughly deserved reputation as a club legend that was quickly becoming tarnished.
Large sections of the crowd had declared against the boss and there is no putting the genie back in the bottle. Mogga going now will prevent the agony of seeing him roasted for weeks and months by a hostile and divided crowd before leaving with his reputation in tatters. For that we should be grateful.

The sound of booing and chanting at Barnsley aimed directly at the lunar leader who led Bruce Rioch’s side from the abyss to the top flight should hurt anyone with the slightest emotional investment in Ayresome Park or who fell under the dark shadow of the liquidation crisis.
Mogga was the inspirational figure on the pitch as that Boro shaped an unlikely football fairytale and climbed from the brink back to the top flight and then on to Wembley for the first time during an important period that galvanised the crowd, rebuilt the foundations of the club and under-pinned what was to become the Riverside Revolution.
It should also hurt anyone idealistic enough to reject route one hoofball pragmatism and yearn for a platonic football played with principles and striving for a utopia of quick passing football on the deck and a fluid expansive, attacking outlook.
That may be hard to achieve on a Championship budget but it is a laudable aspiration that many claim to share.
His exit should also sting those of proud parochial perspective who value a set-up that speaks with a Teesside accent and is staffed by people who share our DNA, who know the central role Boro play in shaping our identity, our pride and passion, people who understand that the club is the cultural glue that holds the town together.
Again, that may seem naïve and rose-tinted but those intangibles are an important part of how many people set out their relationship with the club.
And after three years of pain in the wake of Gordon Strachan’s ill-fated and vastly expensive Great Jockification it seems almost perverse to swing the axe now, just as the manager who dealt with the debris and worked on a shoestring was starting to see his own team take shape.
So there was much to admire in Tony Mowbray, a man for who the Boro job seemed a dug-out destiny. But sentiment can’t shield even an icon from the harsh realities of a results-driven business.
And the results have been poor. No-one would deny that. Least of all Mogga himself who has been tortured in recent weeks over his failure to deliver victory, especially in games the team have dominated for long spells.
In the past year the all important indicators – crowd figures and points return – have been on the slide.
The pressure on the gaffer has built steadily while results shrunk meekly through a stuttering 2013. We all know the damning statistics that swung the narrative against Mogga. The second half slump of last term turned into a stuttering start to the new campaign despite a major summer investment and overhaul in personnel.
And gates drifted slowly downwards too as frustrated fans failed to be inspired by a team that teased and hinted and promised but could not deliver, showing flashes of attacking intent and creative cameos but hampered by a fatal fragility at the back.
Like most fans, Steve Gibson has been agonising in recent weeks over the strange lack of spark this season and scratching his head as to what to do about it.
It was a tough call because at times it really seemed Mogga’s new look side were going to click. They played crisp football going forward that carved teams open almost at will and created a flurry of chances and they actually scored goals. Lots of goals.
But at the back they over-played it. They tried high-risk touches in dangerous areas, did elaborate drag-backs in the box, got caught dawdling looking for a deft out-ball when in truth a quick hoof into Row Z would have been far more effective.
Getting the blend right is always the difficult bit.
And the blend hasn’t been quite right.
There is a widespread belief that the team as it stands is less than the sum of its parts.
There is also a feeling that it is too cautious, too meek, and that they too often set out nervously to stifle and counter the opposition no matter how limited when a more assertive and attacking approach may have paid dividends.
The failure to turn domination into victory and the habitual nervous implosion under pressure had led to an alarming evaporation of the refreshing hope and optimism that the initial arrival of Mowbray had prompted.
That slump in morale was reflected in the Riverside crowd. Not just in the tetchy atmosphere and increasingly obvious hostility towards the manager but numbers shrunk by the month and a new low for the once vibrant ground was recorded for the visit of Yeovil. That figure rather than the 4-1 win was probably the important figure that day.
Under the new Financial Fair Play regulations clubs spending is severely restricted and gate income is king. It funds the wage bill. It pays for signings.
Attendance now directly determines transfer spending and if Boro are to have any ambition of competing with the top half-dozen clubs who have post-Premier League parachute payments then they need crowds to be considerably higher.
With thousands drifting away declaring their opposition to Mogga and frustrated at results, there was mounting pressure on him. And with a spreading crisis of faith beyond the Riverside hardcore there looked little prospect of reversing that.
Something had to be done. And Steve Gibson has done it.
He counts Tony Mowbray as a good friend and a hero of 1986 – but the chairman is also a ruthless businessman.
We must hope that those who cited Mowbray as their reason for turning their backs now return.
And we must hope that whoever replaces him as manager, the crowd unite behind him and the club and rebuild a sense of unity and belief.
The season is far from over.
And whoever comes in will benefit greatly from the largely unseen and under-appreciated work that Mowbray has done behind the scenes in three very difficult years.
He restored a sense of unity and direction after a disastrous few years and set about reshaping the club.
He was the first manager under Steve Gibson not to have a hefty transfer kitty – in fact his main financial pressure was to sell.
Against a background of financial belt tightening and the parachute payments running out he turned the club around and rebuilt on the hoof but still managed to first avoid the drop with a team that had look doomed.
Then, with a combination of loans, free transfers and inherited players he would not have chosen, he managed twice to get into good positions before fading from the play-off picture.
He has balanced the books, trimmed the squad of over-paid flops and rebuilt a backroom infrastructure of scouting, medical science and conditioning that had fallen into disrepair and was patient as the club restructured and prepared for Financial Fair Play.
And he has brought in the core of a decent side. It is just a couple of defenders short of being able to challenge and won’t take much tweaking.
He may not have been a Jack Charlton figure – but he may turn out to be a Stan Anderson, a man who did a lot of groundwork and shaped the basis of a good squad, a manager who built a strong platform for a future boss to work on.
If Boro go on to success he deserves some credit.
Even if they don’t he deserves thanks and appreciation for getting us through a difficult few years unscathed.
And he deserves respect.


96 thoughts on “Mogga’s Exit Is Sad But No Surprise

  1. AV at 11.17 you alluded to a director of recruitment being needed. I was wondering if, de facto, Peter Kenyon was fulfilling that role or is he a more general sounding board?
    Certainly the days of an overseeing manager with no direct support from above seem numbered. There’s just too many dimensions to the job.
    I still would have liked Mogga (now AN Other) as DofF with Phelan as Coach. Home town passion and proven coaching skills could have been a powerful combination. Maybe Mike Ashley could offer some guidance on who to appoint.

  2. I was genuinely gutted when my lad txt’d me the news, I was never fully convinced on Moggas appointment, far too much to go wrong I thought at the time, poisoned chalice etc etc, but I was won over by everyone else’s argument.
    I am afraid the thing I always worry about with a local lad is that …..well, we are Teessiders aren’t we and in the past I have spoken about what that can foster, a sense of negativity and lack of belief in success, even as it happens, I think its endemic in our DNA, I have even seen traces of it in some of our more famous exports in sport and music,
    I just don’t think we are cut out for that BS zone of unfailing self-belief, we are destined to be the catalysts for others success, not the architects of it.
    With that in mind the only name put forward that has made me raise my eyebrows has been Mike Phelan, this in the same way as McClaren’s did, now I was a big supporter of McLaren until he got the job, I found his body language and after match guff difficult to swallow, he didn’t convince me and I think many saw through him, a great coach he is, but a manager? Nah they are a different breed. If he had been head coach under someone different we may well have gone onto even greater things.
    But if Phelan has real managerial qualities, he may well be the man for us.
    I agree that a lot of the names trotted out should be avoided, Martin O’Neil is a spent force, Clough, nah, as well as the Curbishley types as well…………and how McLeish gets his name on any list must be down to the best PR company in the world (we should sign them!)
    Steve Gibson has been criticised by many over the years, I have had the odd pop, but here’s the rub, he is the guy in charge, so what he does next is very important, I wrote many months back that the whole situation reminded me of that lurching towards administration in the 80’s, very similar, all worthy efforts and big talk masking what actually happened ever so incrementally.
    Gibson won’t allow that to happen, unless world events un settle his personal foundations, but hey no one plans to fail….or do we, us Teessiders?
    The next move is massive, it is the biggest, every other time, from 86 onwards, has been reactive and Gibson has shown flair in that, but to be pro-active needs a different approach, Teessiders aren’t very good at that, reactive means we will win you a war, but it’s now time for us to move on from the victory of 86 and make a better brighter sustainable future so we don’t get sucked back into our comfort zone of conflict…it’s time for us all to grow up.
    **AV writes: The difference between now and the early 80s is that back then the chairman was taking money OUT whereas Steve Gibson is putting it IN.
    In may seem hard to fathom because of results on the pitch in the past year but the club is actually healthy. It got through the financial double dislocation of the credit crunch and relegation without imploding, has worked through its wages blip, is debt free and has an owner willing to spend ‘up to the max’ and who is actively looking for ways to creative in the transfer market in a post FFP landscape.

  3. Paulista Park –
    I’m sorry, but that last post of yours was just romantic tosh! It’s time now to get real.
    Whatever we think of Mowbray and his local hero status, whether we think the club might be partially to blame or not, he had his time and blew it.
    This is his team, performing extremely badly, and a million miles from where we all believe we should be. Mowbray may be the best thing since sliced bread to you but to many others he has failed in the one thing he had to get right – performances on the pitch.
    None of this ‘long-term’ guff; – he’d had three years, and for the best part of 12 months has hardly won a game! There are plenty of other good managers out there, and if Gibson gets it right this time, and I expect him to, someone talented will take us onward, and ultimately upward.

  4. Uxter –
    I see what you mean. But there have been a few succesful managers from Boro. I think a certain Brian Clough and Revie were resonably successful managers.
    Clough did not have sense of negativity and lack of belief in success – or himself. Also Harold Shepherdson was a good example of a successful coach.
    But I don’t mean the next manager must be local. Quite excited about a foreigner and director of football. Fresh ideas and the same playing style as now.
    Up the Boro!

  5. Mike Phelan seems to be getting a general thumbs-up across the message boards. Slightly surprising given that he has no managerial experience – a sure sign that there really aren’t any standout candidates knocking around at the moment.
    I’m surprised by the equally general thumbs-down for Holloway, who for all his quirks and clownishness at times does have a record of success in the Championship whilst playing an entertaining brand.
    Does Peter Kenyon know who the next Pochettino is?
    **AV writes: That is a good question.Probably not… but he may know people who do. I’ll ask next time I get the chance to talk to the big boss.

  6. AV –
    Back to footie, any news on ticket sales for Friday?
    **AV writes: It went through the 16,500 barrier mid-afternoon. We have some good stuff in the paper tomorrow that may give it another little nudge towards 20,000.

  7. Uxter-
    Great post, particularly the last paragraph. Time to get real indeed.
    Forget about Mowbray and who replaces him. Who the manager is shouldn’t be the main concern or focus. It’s only in this country that we are so fixated by it.
    We appoint a guy, build him up, expect him to reinvent the wheel and then, when the team falls back to its natural level, call him a failiure. Then the next guy is appointed and so ad infinitum.
    A club needs to find its identity and decide on a blueprint to progress. One that’s realistic and achievable. It might be academy based or involve establishing links with other bigger clubs. You find your own style and stick with it. You put structures in place; scouting, sports science, director of football.
    Importantly the structures have to be independent of any manager or coach that comes in. You also have to sell it to the fans rather than leak it out to bloggers in occasional clandestine meetings.
    Almost the last thing you think about is the head coach because if you have an established style and workable systems in place choosing the next coach should be straightforward. A natural progression rather than a revolution.
    Expecting one individual to work wonders is a waste of time and money and a huge gamble. For every Wenger there are a hundred Strachans.
    Let’s plan for long term sustainable success and for goodness sake let’s tell everybody that’s what we’re doing and be proud of it.

  8. I’ve never felt so nervous about the clubs future as I do at the moment and agree with Paulista; this could end up being a disastrous short sighted decision that send us into an abyss. However I know little about pro football or running a club and must trust to those that do.
    Anyway as a bit of a nerd, consuming all things Boro on the net, I am absolutely gob smacked to find out Peter Kenyon is so involved on our club. When did all this happen, and why is he interested in a club like us? I didn’t even know he’d been to one game let alone all of them.
    Can anyone tell me why have we signed a CB on 3 months loan when we haven’t got a gaffer. Ayala was on Mogga’s list, or does this show that he wasn’t in control of transfers in. A new boss is surely likely to want his own signings?
    Let’s go get Steve Agnew

  9. Its interesting what has been going on with the manager merry go round in recent weeks,The football league is a small world,and I’m sure chairman know what’s in the wind regarding other club moves,
    Hence after our game at QPR, Derby make their move, Sheff Utd theirs,now Palace. I’m wondering did Gibbo talk to McClaren after that game and that have a snowball effect pushing other clubs to jump in before they wanted to,
    **AV writes: At a guess, I’d say ‘no’. The current spate of moves is not because there is a hidden apparatus in football carefully planning and manoevering. It is because it is late October and we’ve reached the 12 game mark, the traditional first spate of sackings as the table takes shape and targets go out the window..

  10. Hey y’all –
    First post for a long time and its good to be back.
    Unlike Gazza my full fitness ain’t too far away so it’s time to post again. And I’ve missed you all so here we go with my first post since the long thread about how much Alan Willey resembled his name… Or did I dream that in my hospital bed in Manila ..?
    But I digress…
    It seems fortuitous that Fridays game is labelled ‘spirit of Teesside as a huge lump of that spirit, like Elvis has just left the building. Never tease I agree that this club is at the biggest crossroads for yonks.
    My money is on Mike Phelan. We have a strong Old Trafford connection and history and Gibbo likes his managers young, bright and to an extent careful not to criticise… But what price Phelan with Fergie coming back as Director of Football.. Just a thought, mind!
    But for his own sake he HAS to get it right this time… History will never accept the last 3 appointments were owt but abject failures…
    **AV writes: Welcome back. You had us worried. The way the crowd is dwindling we can’t afford to be losing any willy-nilly.

  11. Given that Steve Gibson reads this blog, can we all start with a disclaimer please that all Mike Phelan talk stops now.
    I know we’re all down at present, but Phelan…
    If we thought Mogga was uninspiring, then Fergie’s stooge is a whole new league again, the consummate and stupefyingly dull yes man.
    There’s a reason he hasn’t had a job since leaving Utd and he is not the man to revitalise Teesside, or any other club I suspect. It would also be nice to think outside Manchester United too, we can’t compete with them but we are belittling ourselves as a club to continually take in staff they are happy to let go. It’s a bit too cap in hand and I don’t like it at all.
    That said, Gary Neville would be good but he has other and bigger plans as many of the better coaches will do.
    JFH is intriguing. He came here as a so called ‘professional player’ i.e. one who constantly moves for the money, but was committed and vibrant and of course, a class act. Whether he’s the man I don’t know but he might be worth thinking about.

  12. Welcome back martin, hopefully your return will mark a similar upturn in our fortunes though I some sure yours is more important.
    Paulista Park –
    I hope we dont rip up the work that has gone on and we continue to play football.
    Maybe simplify things a bit and play further up the pitch. You can play passing football without going sideways all the time.

  13. Nobody has answered Masham Wiggy’s excellent question re Ayala.
    Surely an addition like that, presumably with a sizeable loan fee, would have to be approved by the new manager. Otherwise it would be potentially a total waste of time and money.
    Either Venus is more long term than we imagined or, God help us, Doogie Bausor is the new director of recruitment.

  14. Holloway has admitted the Palace start to the season has left him exhausted. Which rules him out from the Boro job straight away. We need a man full of energy and drive, Holloway needs a break.

  15. **AV writes: It went through the 16,500 barrier mid-afternoon. We have some good stuff in the paper tomorrow that may give it another little nudge towards 20,000. ”
    So I followed the usual gazette Boro link to see what news was going to enthuse and up pops a story with the Chuckle Brothers pictured.
    I thought we were going to get a new management team in to get away from Chuckle Brother defending. Clearly progress is not on the cards

  16. Good, interesting interview with Gibbo (the chairman!)in the EG.
    I totally agree there should be a queue of the manager elects behind Gibbo’s door. Most of the managers know his and the club’s reputation. Really we should be in the PL soon (or by now).
    So I feel a lot more positive now. But boy, I was shocked by Mogga’s departure. Let’s hope we find a “big Jack” to follow Mogga’s work. Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: The club are in a good place and will no be rushed into an appointment. They will take their time to get exactly the right man.

  17. richard evans –
    Gary Neville would be good but Phelan is rubbish? How do you work all that out? Where are Neville’s coaching/management credentials? I’ll tell you where, nowhere, he doesn’t have any. I have no idea how good or bad Phelan would be but he’s clearly got more experience and a better cv than Neville.

  18. I like the idea that Gibbo is in no rush to appoint a new man and is going to make a considered choice. That’s a sea change from the approach taken when Mr. Lamb bumped into Mr. Strachan in the loo’s at the Ricoh.

  19. AV –
    good point about the 80’s scenario about the chairman fleecing everyone, but I still have that feeling in my bones, maybe its the mid term effect of the present government making me worry about all things outside of privilege.
    My point about the Teessider in Teesside is that even after time away, a Teessider will usually go native in the time it takes to cross Newport Bridge, Teessiders flourish in different spaces, our qualities admired and useful in a world where numpties are increasingly prevelant, however those qualities are nullified back at home, cos it like err, thingy, y’know wharra mean like….could be worse

  20. First off what is the crack with Gibson talking in the third person in today’s paper? “We have a local owner who is prepared to put money into the club to keep it competitive.”
    It is quite clear he/the club are on a political march of saying “local” at every possible moment “local people”, local economy” – steel shipped over from Germany.
    It’s good that they’re trying to re-unite the town and the area, but to me it just all feels so false and fake. They seem to do these exercises each so often, I remember a Mogga and a Wheater video doing the rounds and then nothing and now it’s all “local” and hashtag spiritofteesside.
    Gibson should get him self into the local media and I mean every outlet, not a select chosen few and speak honestly and openly with the town and its people and answer tough questions which he doesn’t ever want to answer. I believe if he does this he and the club will have much more respect than they currently do. If he could do a Niall Quinn and visit the pubs and clubs then even better.
    I’m also very shocked that you state Mogga didn’t lose the dressing room and the squad are tight knit despite for a chosen few. If we’ve been witnessing players playing for each other then its worse than I thought.
    I am surprised Venus is being given a chance, I would’ve imagined that Gibson would have already have spoken to his chosen man before the sacking of Mowbray – maybe he has and it’s Venus.
    I hope we play with true spirit on Friday, all I want to see is, when we haven’t got the ball we close down quickly and get it back as soon as possible and when we have got the ball we attack – simple. Play the best eleven also and stick to it.
    New song. We’ve got Venus, Your our Boro, We play with desire” (Tune of the lady’s Venus advert).

  21. A very positive outlook from Steve Gibson today and reinforces my point about Boro not being the poor men of the Championship – he put us in the league’s top six resourced teams.
    Add to that Boro are debt free with state-of-art training facilities and Category 1 academy, then I agree that we should be an interesting proposition to any ambitious manager looking to make their mark.
    Now is not the time to go for an old familiar name who’s looking for another attempt to resurrect their career – it should be about getting the right fit to move the club forward that better reflects the resources available.
    Though I suspect the new manager’s remit will be to hit the ground running with more or less the same players. I can’t see Gibson will want to give them this season to chop and change and experiment to find the right blend, perhaps he’ll even want to retain Venus to help with the continuity – especially if he wins a few games.

  22. I guess the articles on Steve Gibson are the ones that you expect to boost attendances.
    You hope they would, it just depends on how people view him nowadays. I have the utmost respect (I hope he reads that bit and forgives any previous indiscretions) but maybe some less so (Unbelieveable Jeff – slipped a bit of Kammy in there).
    Maybe the Chuckle Brothers were the real story.
    Hopefully heading up towards 18-19,000 with a rush tomorrow to break through the 20,000.
    **AV writes: We have had a lot of interesting briefings with the chairman over past year and jhave talked extensively about the financial structure, the investment in a vastly improved scouting system, plans to set up links with a network of big clubs across Europe and the framework of a new club fit for a post-FFP era.
    In most of those meetings we have tried to persuade him to go public, to speak officially and try to explain to the supporters where we are and where we are going rather than let doubts and fears and rumour and mischief fill the vacuum. Me saying these things is one thing – “there’s no quotes, it’s just Gazette BS” – , the chairman saying it is another.
    Today the Beeb and the Echo got 10 or 20 minutes with him talking about the managerial situation but me and Phil got the best part of three hours, most of it on the record. So expect quite a lot of very interesting, detailed analysis with extensive quotage over the next few days. Very interersting, very positive stuff.

  23. I’m noticing a slight upbeat air amongst some the latter posts. Maybe its just me but I can’t say I feel or think much different to last weekend. Myself and others were flagging things eight months ago and to have been raising the same things in October as was highlighted in February still leaves me with a raised eyebrow.
    I don’t get this “Spirit of Teesside” thing. Inept performances, dreadful spirit out on the pitch and us just getting rid of one of our own (albeit almost entirely down to his own stubbornness) just days earlier doesn’t fill me with much spirit at all. I felt Mogga should have gone a long time ago but the agony and the drawn out aspect of it certainly doesn’t gladden me any.
    Due to the exact same feelings I had last Saturday evening plus the sheer frustration that its taken this long to arrive at the conclusion which mercifully came to an end this week leaves me flat.
    Eight months ago I witnessed delusional attendances being announced, a DJ trying to drown out the disaffected and then came the positive spin last spring about a supposed root and branch analysis over the reasons for the slide after Xmas (of which we were told nothing, which in itself probably spoke volumes).
    Shortly afterwards I witnessed the Gazette “Big Boro Survey” Poll results which had Mogga supposedly getting a vote of confidence from 16.4% of the respondents while the largest group of “Unsures” 33% were just conveniently ignored, ConDem politics came to mind.
    I wonder if the Donny game was a normal 3.00PM Saturday kick off and the TV slot was a scheduled 40 seconds at 25 minutes past Midnight sandwiched in between a Millwall mauling and Wednesday woes would Mogga have still been in-situ?
    “Spirit” ………hmmm time will tell, you can fool some of the people some of the time and all that!

  24. Nigel Reeve –
    If we really believe Mike Phelan is the man, then God help us. I have met him, a long while back now, and he is seriously uninspiring. He reminds me of the bland Phil Neal in the Graham Taylor England documentary, all ‘Yes boss’ and little else. I think he was a trainer in effect at MU. There’s more to being a manager than setting out the cones.
    He is inarticulate and dull on television and sadly we’ve been down this route too many times in the past. He doesn’t look or act part and as with know with Mogga, these things count against you when it’s not going well on the pitch.
    How many current or former MU players have you heard praising Phelan as a coach or person? Or fans? Is he working? Has he been offered jobs post MU? Says it all. It’s small minded thinking along the lines of Phelan that will keep the club where it is now.
    Gary Neville. Well, he has his coaching badges and a coaching experience with the England set up Phelan doesn’t have. He is innovative, a thinker, a fighter and polarises opinion which is no bad thing thing re bonding when he’s on your side. And he’s respected at large, the man is a credible option and would be a breath of fresh air.
    Phelan would start out stale and it would stay that way. I honestly don’t believe Gibbo would countenance Phelan, it just staggers me that some people on here think he might be able to do a job for us.

  25. I don’t know what opinion other people have on this but I am not happy with Venus.
    Tony took him everywhere with him and he was loyal to him,now Tony is sacked and Venus is staking a claim for his job. Surely they were in it together and he should have gone too??
    I find it a bit distasteful that Venus has come out and said he gave Tony his advice and opinions about the players but ultimately he was the manager and made the decisions but insinuated they weren’t the same as he would have made. Disloyal if you ask me!
    Now he is appearing on radio with Gibson and putting his hat into the ring for Tonys job and Gibson seems prepared to give him a chance to get a run of good results to show he is good enough.
    I wonder how Tony feels about that?
    I hope Gibson isn’t hoping Venus gets a few wins so that he gets a replacement on the cheap. Promoting number two’s to number one very rarely works. You only have to look what happened at Wolves when they gave Terry Connor the job after Mick McCarthy was sacked.
    A new person not connected to the club with new fresh ideas is what we need not the same old same old!!

  26. Had a few days to think about it, If we don’t go out of the box (foreign,which I’m not against) I think a man with the experience and right age is Darren Ferguson

  27. ‘The club are in a good place and an attractive ….’
    Really!!! Their’s nowt like a bit of northern honesty. Just sacked the manager(local hero) had senior players dragged across the carpet for producing well below expected performances (for which they are paid £100k’ s per year) and an executive that are all fingers and thumbs where the best actions are words.
    Beggars belief!
    **AV writes: In a division full of teams that are deep in debt, don’t own their own grounds and don’t know who or where their owners are, a debt free club with Boro’s facilities and a bit of money to play with is a very attractive proposition.
    Outsiders don’t examine every cough and spit with the intensity of forensic scrutiny we do. They see a club that has done well over the past few years to trim debts while having a couple of good pushes for the play-offs before dropping off and who have since spent to strengthen. That’s not a bad little number.
    I think Gibbo is making it quite clear in public that in recruiting his new manager he not looking for a book-balancing, fire-fighting merry-go-round – journeyman happy to tread water in the bottom half. He wants someone with a higher ambition.

  28. richard –
    I have no idea whether or not Phelan will make a good manager or not, just as I had no idea whether McClaren would make a good manager when he arrived. Your evidence based on a conversation you had with him and clearly didn’t like him seems a little weak.
    I had a conversation with Wilf Mannion once, after it I couldn’t have given you an opinion as to whether or not he was a good footballer. What I do know is that Phelan has experience of coaching, Neville on the other hand is the man that Hodgson employed to be the link between him and the players. He wasn’t employed because he’s a coaching genius. Being a pundit on Sky and speaking with authority and knowledge is a world away from being a good manager. There are loads of examples of impressive pundits who failed as managers.
    I want to see an experienced manager come to the club, I doubt it’ll be Phelan, if it is I’ll shrug my shoulders give the bloke my support and hope he proves to be the right man. If someone with no experience like Neville turns up I’ll be disapointed, but he’ll still get my support.

  29. AV –
    with all due respect, l as a supporter couldn’t give a fanny adams about debt or wonderful behind the scenes facilities.
    l want to see the team l’ve supported for decades in the Premiership trouncing the likes of the mackems and barcodes so’s that l go to sleep at night with a big fat smile on my face and wake up bouncing. lf you get it right on the pitch with the first team then all else can follow.
    BTW thanks for putting up the posts l send in, their not all rosy but l try to tell it as l see it.
    **AV writes: I know that supporters don’t really care too much about debt and financial structures and the Red Faction won’t ever be chanting in support of good accountancy – but funding is the single biggest factor in the modern game.

  30. Didn’t Mourinho start off as Robson’s assistant?
    I’m not sure Venus would be my first choice, but I think we are all pretty much agreed that we have at least a top half squad in place and there isn’t that much that needs to be done to turn us into a winning team. We really don’t want wholesale changes again and if Venus can do that, why not? Gibson will know better than any of us that’s for sure.
    There’s a lot of luck involved in doing well in this league, momentum is huge, so if Venus gets off to a winning start I’ll have no problem if we stick with him.

  31. ‘Funding is the biggest single factor’
    Quite right AV- and if that is the case you’d better get it right on the pitch otherwise the customer/ supporter will vote with their feet and you’ll have an outstanding stadium that’s half full on a regular basis with depleted incomes – oh dear what am l saying, hasn’t that already happened.
    **AV writes: Exactly: #rock/hard-place.

  32. Phelan is a hugely uninspiring choice, Neville is a non-starter due to his lack of experience and Ferguson Jnr would be divisive.
    If Venus wants to keep the job (I suspect he won’t be in charge for long regardless) he’ll need to have the team ripping into Donny from the off.
    A full house at home with practically the whole squad to choose from. What could possibly go wrong..?

  33. I hope we hear a chant in support of Mogga tonight, he deserves it.
    I hope the players have taken his sacking as a big kick up the backside and raise their game significantly.

  34. I would wager that, “We gave him as much time as we could before it almost became suicidal for us”, probably won’t be one of the quotes printed on the back of Tony Mowbray’s autobiography.

  35. It used to be that Boro fans supported the club with a sense of hope. Unfortunately, other than the hard core, recent support has been based on expectation. Therein lies the problem. If the fans can’t see where the club is going, then every manager will be under pressure to bring instant success.
    Hopefully, at least tonight live on TV, the players will show some professional pride and put in a performance that will demonstrate that they are capable of a lot better than they have shown so far this season.
    **AV writes: Blimey, GHw has popped up. We must be getting near the ton are we?

  36. BoroPhil –
    I would find no hardship if Venus turned out to be successful. I suppose it depends on what differences of opinion he had with Mogga.
    Not big enough to fall out over but small things make a difference. A more broad brush approach to the game.
    **AV writes: Its there! Look at his face, JUST LOOK AT HIS FACE!

  37. Gosh didn’t realise we were that close to 100.
    It would seam a shame if Mogga’s departure should lead to 100 plus posts. Some of us are the Robbie Mustoe’s of the blog.
    Coughs discretely

  38. Irrespective of everything that has happened during the week I would hope that the big lesson to come out of the Barnsley game is that Richie Smallwood must start tonight.
    Would echo the hopes of Nigel Reeve and others that we prove ourselves to be the fundamentally decent and civilised lot that I think we are and Mogga gets the support of the crowd tonight. Nothing will ever top the response to Brucie’s first game back but a similar sentiment would be appropriate.

  39. ‘A rock and a hard place.’
    l hope that’s Redkerr rock yer talkin about AV!
    But in all seriousness there lies the problem, The solution is to get the right man in the manager’s job with the best resources you can muster.
    And to add a bit of controversy to the debate, what about a bona fide supporter’s representative on the interview panel.
    What a progressive club we would then be!

  40. Actually, I do care that the club is in sound financial shape and that we have wonderful behind the scenes facilties because those two things drive success on the pitch and what’s more they give me hope.
    Do you think Birmingham FC supporters currently have any hope?
    **AV writes: And Portsmouth or Coventry… and as they say on the compilation albums, many, many more.

  41. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who posted on the blog.
    What is more it looks like a good crowd in there tonight. 20k+? Any news AV?
    **AV writes: I think it passed 20k this morning. I’ll have a guess at 21,098.

  42. While some were lurking around the six yard box, others were busy working….
    Hopefully a big crowd this evening. Had expected a soaking on the way to the match, but there is blue sky and sunshine in Stockton (and has been for a few hours now).
    Almost getting nervous…..

  43. My guess for tonight is 22001, with Boro winning 3-0.
    Ayala and Woodgate as centre backs, George Friend dropped. Smallwood and Varga in midfield.
    **AV writes: Not a bad guess… (*winky thing*)

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