Mogga Exit: One Year On

NEXT WEEK it will be a year since Ayresome hero Tony Mowbray was axed.

It was a sad but inevitable exit after a large contingent of the travelling Tees army at Barnsley turned on him for the first time in numbers and volume during and after a chaotic 3-2 defeat at rock bottom Barnsley. The sound of booing sharpened the mind of a stony faced Steve Gibson watching at Oakwell with Boro’s high command.  By the Monday evening he was gone, a significant departure that opened the door to a seismic change as Gibson opted for Boro’s first foreign boss and a cultural revolution.

In the Gazette next week we’ll be looking in more detail at Mogga’s impact, achievements and legacy at his boyhood club. To refresh your memory, to set the scene, to give you a head start in the agenda setting debates looming and to offer you something to chew over as the international break stretches on and on, here’s “another chance to see” the blog bit I did in the emotive aftermath of  the exit of a man who remains a club icon and who in time will be seen to have been an important factor in rebuilding a broken club.

                                            MOGGA’S EXIT: 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 helped drive 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.


                                         Barnsley Chopped: Mogga under fire at Oakwell

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 – although he was denied the chance to play – 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.


                                          “Tony, Tony Mowbray (clap, clap)”

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, revenue 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 and maybe a striker short of being able to challenge and won’t take much tweaking. A new eye, a new voice and some reorganisation and it is not far short.

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.


132 thoughts on “Mogga Exit: One Year On

  1. Grovehillwallah –

    Interesting but very misleading survey

    States cheapest season ticket is £430. I paid £370 on renewal and it was also the early bird price for new supporters until 1st July.

    Doesn’t take into account the family area and how cheap it is for a family to attend.

    As usual Journalists can twist things to make them look worse than they are. I’m sure every other club on the list can claim it’s not accurate information too.

    **AV writes: I think the survey is seriously flawed. Some of those prices are for tickets that effectively are not available (not just the Boro £21 one, which is in the family zone and only available if you also buy a child’s ticket too) or are for areas that are already sold out or for categorised games and so are only at that price for three or four games a season. I think the way the survey is structured doesn’t take into account the nuances of each individual club structure. For instance, the BBC said the cheapest season ticket at Boro was £430 – which it would be if you bought it the day before the season kicked-off – but the vast majority of people in those seats actually paid the ‘early bird’ price £370… and got a free drink worth up to £3. (And, as the survey context is ‘the rising price of football’, it should be said the price has been frozen for nine seasons now.)

    There is no question that football is vastly over-priced across the board. That is a direct result of massive wage and transfer fee inflation driven by TV money over the last 15 years. Clubs in the Premier League are exploiting their fans (or “pricing to meet the market demand” as they would no doubt say with their 90% plus full stadiums) but clubs at lower levels are primarily pricing to raise the money to meet their costs. They are acutely aware of the problems that causes by creating a barrier to new fans/customers.

    You can argue that their costs – almost entirely wages – are too high but the main demand from fans/customers is for clubs to “show ambition”, “buy better players” and “challenge.” Very few supporters are on phone-ins and message boards insisting that the chairman show more prudence, buy cheaper players and balance the books.

  2. Staying clear of statistical analysis and a firm believer of the Disraeli viewpoint on the subject our next three games are Brighton, Wolves and Watford. I’m optimistically hoping for 7 points from that lot despite two of them being away from home.

    If we can beat either Wolves or Watford and take a point from whichever one we don’t beat and pick up three points at Brighton on Saturday that would not only be a great return but seriously state our credentials and I would guess see us at the top of the pile at the end of the month.

    We couldn’t pick up nine points could we, or is that just Typical Boro rose tintedness of the extreme Brownlee variety and my £40 stake talking?

  3. I can’t help but think that the obscene commercialisation that is the PL is unsustainable. It strikes me as a juggernaut that nobody can stop, few people believe in but, for as long as it lasts, everybody will cling on for as long as they can.

    If it eventually implodes under its own greed, I fear for what we will be left with. In Darwinian terms these natural selection adjustments happen all the time but the unintended consequences could be huge. Pompey’s fate could be a microcosm of what we might see writ large for the top division or two. Our descendants would never forgive us.

    The Bundesliga got it so right that it hurts and it was so simple it is embarrassing. When you add the way they tackled their national team to eventually win the WC, it makes you squirm. Compared to that, our football execs and administrators look like bumbling dolts.

    Coming closer to home, I’d be content with 5 points from the next 3 matches. Any more would be a statement of intent.

  4. Nikeboro

    Werdermouth would be the right person to know but a while ago I read an interesting article about German football complaining that Bayern had too much muscle financially.

    It also mentioned that the league was splitting in to haves and have not’s.

    I wish I could remember more but it isn’t only in England that the market is distorted, Spain is even more one sided financially, in Italy the AC Milan president is calling for wild cards in to the Champions League for the big clubs.

    The main problem is we are stood on the platform as the gravy train speeds through.

    1. Jurgen Klopp interesting on that. When asked last year if German football was now like Spain with two big teams and the rest, he said no – that it’s more like Scotland since Rangers were relegated, ie a foregone conclusion.

      That said, doesn’t seem to have hurt attendances there, and the likes of Eintracht, Mainz and Freiburg have all finished high up the league in the last few years. Personally I think Germany has most things right.

  5. Brighton Boro –

    The gates in our Premiership are decent and as it is a one horse race in Germany, Bayern win, someone has to be second because it is a league!

    The rest of the league will be like Arsenal, their trophy is getting in to the Champions League. In some ways it is worse than in England because nobody can challenge Bayern because no one has the financial might. They can hoover up any player from any team in the Bundesliga, there is little chance of resistance.

    In addition, the very structures of ownership in Germany that we laud in this country just make Bayern stronger because there is little chance of inward investment. The rich just get richer and richer, the system is institutionalising the status quo.

    I suppose one benefit is that the league is flattened below Bayern so more clubs can win by failing. As Jose says, experts in failing.

    This is only my perceptions from a few articles, I am only Grasshopper to Werdermouth’s Master.

  6. Sorry to disappoint Ian, but I don’t regard myself as any kind of expert on German football, my limited free time focuses mainly on English football – especially as Werder Bremen have somewhat fallen from grace in the last five years, regularly flirting with relegation and currently sit bottom this season.

    OK, Bayern are the richest club located in the rich south but other than the last two seasons when they won the league at a canter by 20 points, they haven’t had it there own way, with the likes of Stuttgart, Wolfsburg and Bremen all winning the league or making it a close contest.

      1. Ian –

        In the last 11 years of the Bundesliga, Bayern have won 6, Dortmund 2, Stuttgart, Bremen and Wolfsburg 1 each. In England over the same period, it’s Man U 5, Chelsea 3, Man City 2 and Arsenal 1.
        Bayern are the most successful club because they have the most money, but they rarely dominate for any period of time. Last season was the first time they’ve won successive titles since 2004 and 2005. Maybe it’s changing now and Bayern will just continue to blitz everybody. Maybe they won’t.

  7. Werdermouth

    Going back to the stats I put forward I wonder if a reasonable case for comparing McClaren and Mowbray’s win percentages can be made.

    The stat itself is a just a number, meaningless without context. But it can, perhaps, aid the process of coming to an informed view.

    It is naturally a harder task to win games in the Premier League but to play Premier League games you of course have to be in it in the first place, which suggests you must have a decent squad.

    I think we can all agree that McClaren’s squad and resources were far greater than Mowbray’s, so does that negate the difference in standard of opposition to some degree?

    I think a comparison can only be made based on expectation. For me, a reasonable expectation of both managers in their respective times and leagues would be a top half finish. That changed towards the end of Mowbray’s reign when he was expected to mount a promotion challenge but that was only the final few months (I think).

    Therefore I think you can make some of comparison between McClaren and Mowbray’s win percentages and it’s interesting that the most successful manager in our history has a marginally poorer record than the much maligned Mowbray.

    I am not suggesting for one second that Mowbray’s time was more successful than McClaren’s. Perhaps we only tend to remember the major highs and lows whilst periods of general satisfaction are forgotten.

  8. Werdermouth and Andy R

    The articles were talking the way ahead as well as the current situation – I believe the Germans had just signed a big TV deal as well.

    Currently Bayern sit four points clear after seven games, I suspect it will be a runaway again.

  9. Damn, cunning plot foiled.

    I was going up to Rotherham – one of the few grounds in the northern half of Britain I haven’t visited, get Mrs G to drop me off and go to Meadowhell, then pick me up after the match.

    All 2600 tickets sold.

    Off for some voice training tha knows. There’s only one Arthur Scargill………..

  10. I’ve just realized what Karanka is doing and it makes perfect sense. This league is about battling it out and he is saying we are going to be physical. We won’t worry about getting cards because we have cover everywhere hence another player in for midfield.

    In the past if you lost players through the odd suspension it hurt your chances. Its clearer by the day


    1. I hadn’t thought of that perspective, or point of view, gt.

      I just hope that the serial offenders don’t keep on getting bans because the bans will get longer and longer and the hard man replacements will be working their way towards the same fate.

      I suppose substitution strategy helps here, particularly if the side is well drilled and understands the managers tactics and subscribes to them, which the team seem to do.

      Either way a good point to make.


      John R

  11. Good link GHW to a good article – If you live in England you are probably subliminally conditioned to think everything needs to first satisfy the business side rather than putting the needs of people as the driving force behind how things operate.

    Perhaps the Thatcherist ideology that pervaded into society long after she left and you now wonder whether people exist to serve the needs of business rather than the other way round. Shops in Germany are still closed on Sundays and most close half-day on Saturday and even Wednesday as the need for family life is valued.

    The power of banks with the credit culture and the obsession with the need for house inflation to ‘feel’ personally wealthy are the false markers of success in the UK. Not to mention the false belief that the NHS is still the best health care system in the world – believe me it’s not even close to the German system.

    The Germans also pride themselves not on first making money but working out the best way to do something and it is this that in the end leads to creating wealth that more people get to feel the benefit of.

    So football in Germany is run as a sport for the fans and it seems that has not been a hindrance for the success of it’s clubs or national team. Whether the cultural differences of the people make that easier is hard to say but a sense of fair play is not just a cliché over here and people like to do right thing and feel part of society – which I think Thatcher tried to say didn’t exist.

  12. Werdermouth:

    Thanks for the insight into the German Psyche. The legacy of Thatcher is evident in our society.The German aproach to family life, shops closed on Sundays, doing things the right way, etc. harks back to a time that some of us can relate to and does seem attractive. How strange does this seem as we fought two wars against the far right Germany. Maybe lessons are learned by some cultures? Football does, to a certain extent, mirror the values of the country concerned, e.g. The PL and greed.

    As for Boro, I would settle for five points from the next three games but seven or nine would be great. UTB.

  13. Thatcherism doesnt explain the financial power of Bayern, Real, Barca, AC Milan etc. Too simplistic to blame one deceased lady.

    Going back years, players went from Boro to Spurs, ManU, Chelsea, Liverpool. It was nothing to do with with Thatcher, it was all to do with football, they played in a higher division.

    Thatcher isnt alive in Germany so players want to go to Bayern. PSG dont have Thatcher as a vice president.

    Barca are the pillar of a modern caring club. Oddly they have a sponsors name on their their shirt at the same time Quatar won the World Cup. Real are broke and can spend millions on players. The shareout of TV money is fair worse in the rest of Europe. Stop blaming the Premiership for everything. Stop blaming owners with money because our’s doesn’t have as much.

    Sorry to get cross. As I posted earlier the biggest problem is we are not getting our share of the spondoolies.

  14. Ian –

    We never will get our fair share because football in England is more market-driven than in Germany (I can’t speak for other countries) – despite getting huge revenues from Sky TV, clubs in England still need to price many fans out of the stadiums because they still don’t have enough to pay the market-rate for their players over-inflated wages or service their debts – plus many clubs are run to maximize revenue.

    As the article GHW linked to, clubs in Germany by law have to be owned by at least 51% by their members (i.e. supporters) – the likes of Abramovich or the Glazers would never get a look in or any other mega-rich owner looking for a business opportunity.

    Because of demand, Dortmund could charge their fans a lot more for their tickets and beer etc – but choose not to as it would not be of benefit to many of their fans.

    Thatcher believed that leaving everything to the market was imperative and society didn’t really exist – subsequent prime ministers including the ‘socialist’ party leaders have not reversed this philosphy – Germany chooses to keep the running of it’s football regulated for the benefit of the supporters.

    OK Bayern are a rich club but that’s probably because they are in a rich area and have been in the Champions League every year – plus they may get much more income through sponsorship and merchandising. It’s not illegal to make money in Germany – it’s just not the main purpose of everything.

    **AV writes: The ironic thing is that despite being given vast cheques every year and charging over the odds for everything and operating as rapacious businesses, so few Premier League clubs actually make a profit. I think in the last few years only Arsenal, Stoke and Swansea have been in the black. This year Burnley will join the. Three years back Blackpool did. And as we know, all the Championship sides are vastly in debt (internal or external) and very few come anywhere near meeting their costs So whatever the business model is in England, it isn’t working.

  15. Werdermouth –

    First of all I am as hacked off as anyone else with the bloated nature of football across europe, I also think the prices we pay are a nonesense.


    The Premiership is a collective much to the chagrin of the EU who want a free market approach where each club negotiates it’s own deals.

    They have been battling for years to break up the way the TV money is distributed and would prefer a match to match approach. That would just create the scenario as in Spain where the top two get 17x the money of the bottom club in La Liga against the 2x in our top flight.

    In a free market there would be no parachute payments, the likes of Stoke would get diddly squat. TV wouldnt buy Stoke v Burnley, they would want all the big matches. You can forget us getting much and the likes of Pools and Burton would disappear.

    The model in Germany has always been different, our clubs have always been in private hands. Thatcher didnt sanction the Alf Common transfer.

    Lots of foreign owners who are not here to make money from football but chasing glory both in football and/or reflected glory for their organisations.

    As the story goes ‘How do you make a small fortune in football, start with a large one’. Ask Steve Gibson, Randy Lerner.

    It does seem we were not so bothered when we had our trotters in the golden trough. It may stick in people’s craws but much as I would like the German model that cant happen here, I certainly dont want what the EU wants.

    **AV writes: To say the PL is “a collective” gives it an altruistic and almost socialist veneer that doesn’t stand up to reality. It is more like a cartel. Or at least a cartel within that dominates the revenue, the financial strategy and the political direction and a group of hangers on within their gravitational pull who vote for the chance to get the crumbs from the top table. It’s not healthy.

    1. TV money in Germany is distributed along similar lines to the PL with teams getting a share of the collective deal with an increment less for each position in the League they are – the formula is a bit more complicated as it takes into account the last three seasons to determine an overall rank. So first place only gets around €25m with last place about half that.

      As to who gets what in a free market depends on whether you judge the ‘League’ as the seller of the TV rights or the individual club – you could argue that the individual club can’t exist without the others to play against so should they have sole ownership of their games as they would mean nothing outside the context of the League competition.

  16. Oops! Applogies Ian. Didn’t want to fire up a political debate. I’m no Leftie Labourite but it is a fact that the biggest change in Society in recent times coincided with the Thatcher years, some good, some bad and there’s no going back.

    The Financial Institutions gave birth to the greedy element but that has filtered through to a lot of areas of Society, Football being one. I think that we’re all trying to say the same thing, i.e. that the Elite few will always look after their own interests with little regard for those at the lower end of the spectrum and it seems that there is nothing we can do to change that.

    Thank God the football returns tomorrow.

  17. Werdermouth

    The EU view appears to be the clubs do it themselves which is why they have tried to end the system in England.

    Don’t get me wrong, I wish it were different, I wish we had ownership like in Germany, I wish we had fans on the boards.


    It isn’t healthy but that is how it is. If the bottom teams get the crumbs how would you describe what the Spanish clubs get?

    Do I wish it was different, I certainly do but you have to acknowledge what is there. Bizarrely, as the TV deals are broken up to keep the EU happy the League is getting more and more money.

    I don’t remember many people getting all uppity when Gibbo was bringing in TLF and Rav, we were not very popular with clubs like Derby and Leicester because we were distorting the competition.

    We cant ignore what happens in Germany, it is great but the league is being and will be dominated by Bayern. By the same token you cant ignore how football finances work elsewhere.

    1. Simon, I was disappointed it didn’t work out as I’m sure most people were, it would have been great to see a club icon have success with his local team. I think SG was right to let him go, to me Mowbray looked stubborn in his approach and unable to produce the results we wanted on a consistent basis

  18. Slaggy

    No problem, it isn’t political, I just don’t think it is to do with Thatcher, the big clubs were hoovering up the better players long before she came in to power. The really big money started to come in during the Blair years and I don’t blame him.

    It is like blaming Strachan for all our ills, too easy and populist, it started before him and continued after.

  19. OK. Let’s leave the politics aside. Perhaps I’m just bemoaning what I see as a declining moral standard, which, on reflection, every generation thinks is worse than what’s gone before and I’m trying to link it to Football, which I shouldn’t. Accept that we benefit from having an owner who is stil prepared to “splash the cash” (relatively speaking) but it would still be good to think that,some day, the elite clubs wake up to the fact that just a little of the money they squander could do a lot to ensure the survival of some of the smaller clubs, for the benefit of Football in general. As we’ve said before, that seems like a pipe dream at present.

  20. If I do enough of these and very little else, do I get to call myself a legend? To be mentioned in the same breath as Mannion, Hardwick, TLF and Anthony Vickers?

    **AV writes: Never mind the quality, feel the width. It’s all about results.

  21. Tommorow whoever is playing left wing,high balls to the far post, I’d even think of playing Bamford on the right,and tell him to get to the post on crosses

  22. Disaster for tomorrow !!!! Andy D’Urso is the referee, remember Shef Wed last season, we have lost 10 of the last 12 away matches he has been in charge. Every game he is in the middle becomes the “D’Urso” show, a sacked premiership ref with a chip on his shoulder and he has sent off 6 Boro players.

    Come on BORO.

    **AV writes: Good stat: name them.

    1. I remember being told by stewards to curb my abuse towards Mr D’Urso against Blackburn at the Riverside many years ago. He was absolute garbage that night, Damien Duff would have picked up a gold for diving at the Olympics yet D’Urso repeatedly missed it all and couldn’t see the wood for the trees and kept giving them free kicks.

      Looking back I suspect he deliberately did it to wind me up the more the game went on as eye contact was made between the two of us on more than one occasion prior to the Stewards intervention.

      Some refs just seem to attract controversy and even enjoy it loving their time in the spotlight, a refereeing version of MMP. Lets hope tomorrow he concentrates on the game and not his own imaginary starring role.

    2. D’Urso, what kind of name is that? WEll he needs to be taken out with a ‘thunder bastard’, I think that was AV’s magic description of a golden bullet.

      If he starts the ‘D’urso show’, well he’ll get away with it. Who is on the line? Please don’t say the ‘schoolboy’ again.


      John R

  23. Len

    Your finishing reminds me of Desi Clough (Brian’s brother I believe), I saw him at the end of his playing career on the playing fields off St Mary’s Walk. He played in the same team team as my brother, Park Rangers in the Teesside League – the team, my brother wasnt called Park Rangers.

    Even then he exhibited a deft touch and a master of being in the right place. magic finishing.

    I blame Thatcherism for the opportunism showed by yourself.

    Watched some of the first half of Rotherham and Smallwood is only on the bench.

  24. Ah AV, in Lewes……great place, I hope you get around some of the pubs tonight, they’re pretty characterful and full of good beer (provided you like Harvey’s of course!)……..welcome to proper darn sarf!!

    **AV writes: I’ve been quite impressed. Started in the John Harvey near the brewery and it was seriously Olde Worlde -1790 – and the beer was fantastic. Then meandered up the High Street via an above average Italian and ended up playing pool in a real ‘local’ back street pub. Excellent night out. Lewes is nice. Just need the points tomorrow now to make it a great weekend,

    1. The Brighton supporters are pretty down at the moment, talking big to me of course but then I remind them of what happened earlier this year……..fingers and toes crossed!!!

  25. But wasn’t it D’Urso who gave us a penalty at Old Trafford when Stam brought down TLF?. It was the first pen. given against United at home in years. Poor old D’Urso was almost lynched, the United team shoving and abusing him en masse at his effrontery.

    An outrageous decision, obviously.

    I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for Andy ever since.

    1. Len

      It couldn’t possibly have been the notoriety that appealed to D’Urso’s inner self, Back Page headlines. Sky News reports just in, of course not it was Andy just simply refereeing a game at Old Trafford in an unobtrusive and fair minded manner. There is a reason he is in the Championship today.

      He loves to antagonise the Home support and be the focus of attention, the epitome of a Prima Donna Ref. There are some extremely poor Refs in this Division which we have to suffer but I will be amazed if there isn’t an “Andy moment” In the Brighton game. something special to remember him by.

      1. RR: I think the most likely reason he gave it is that it was a nailed on penalty. In that situation, at Old Trafford, history shows that most refs would have bottled it. I’m prepared to give D’Urso a bit of credit for his courage. Surely you wouldn’t have preferred him not to give it. In which case he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

        Most refs tend to be homers. Those that are not,do antagonise the crowd. On the whole they tend to be not the worst refs but they are the most maligned,their motives impugned simply because they do not go along with the partisan majority.The slurs they attract are generally nonsense, as are accusations that they are biased against this or that team. But they antagonise managers (Fergie was incandescent about D’Urso which is certainly to his credit) and therefore don’t make tend to make it to the top.

        I know what you mean about show-off refs. We have had some very close to home. I haven’t seen much of D’Urso, but he is no authoritarian strutter. His demeanour seems more modest than most. You’re very fair minded generally, but in this case it sounds like you have already made your mind up, and Mr D’Urso is on a loser whatever he does this afternoon.

        Having said all that ,he’ll probably have a stinker.

    2. I was at Old Trafford that day, I remember it well as D’Urso was corralled by the United Pack right in front of me. The decision had been made, therefore it wasn’t going to be changed, however, they rattled him so much he neglected to give Stam his marching orders via a Red Card. So I suppose they managed to achieve something.

  26. Len

    Luckily the penalty was saved or we would have been in a one sided penalty shoot out with Andy re ordering retakes until we missed.

  27. ‘boy in the bubble and the baby with the baboon heart’- ( stay with it!)

    So it seems Mr. Gibson has come over all open like and professed to being in something of what could be termed a ‘bubble’. All respect to him for actually admitting that there was something of an alternate state of reality going on at the Boro, with Mr. Gibson cut off, more or less, from the outside world.

    Might have something to do with and contributed to the distinct failure of Mogga to achieve our mutually desired goal for promotion to the higher echelon’s of what could be termed the financial pig’s trough that is the Premier League.

    Now don’t get me wrong, everyone’s entitled to a fair hearing and no one gets to jump on life’s roundabout with all the knowledge and experience you need to be immediately successful. However, a few points have come to mind since Boro’s attempts to balance the books after McStracon’s collapse came about.

    1. In this modern era of multiple choice multiple nationality team selection it pays to have someone in charge who knows who’s who in the international sphere. With this one Mogga never stood a chance- Hibs, West Brom and Celtic do not represent ‘international’.

    2. It benefits whoever is in charge to have one up on the rest of the competition. If this means a core of foreign players brought in by the manager to provide ballast for a promotion push then so be it – it’s the mix that counts and after a period of forced ‘He’s one of our own’ mania, I don’t hear/read to many unkind words spoken about our very own group of ‘guest workers’ – and so should it be.

    3. Finally, Mr.Karanka appears to have been given a substantial amount of autonomy as to who he picks, when and has the nous to play according to how he believes the opposition can be beaten- I’m still carrying around the grief and frustration that what did for Mogga was a defensive line-up that was so dysfunctional that they didn’t know whether to kick the ball, head it or pick it up and run back into the changing rooms with it.

    Well time passes and thanks to the Universal Spirit that watches over the game of football, it seems that the essential cogs are now in the machine and are purring along nicely beside each other. Long may it last!

    One last thought – I’d like to think now that all is going well and hoping promotion comes along that the team that’s been put together, and I include the whole management set-up, will continue together for some years to come. Mr. Karanka doesn’t need to rush things and spring off to fields afresh as there’s plenty of glory to be had right on his doorstep. He has the potential (potential mind you) to reach European finals just where he is- Don’t forget the Boro’s pedigree may not be as glorious as some but it shines all the brighter for the fans he’ll come to know and love.

    1. “…distinct failure of Mogga to achieve our mutually desired goal for promotion”.

      I think that line highlights the difference between those sympathetic to Mowbray and those thoroughly opposed to him.

      If you consider that Mowbray’s job throughout his three year term to be to get us promoted then yes, he was a distinct failure. But was that top of the priorities given to him?

      Anyway, the football’s back today so we can leave it behind (for a while).

  28. Spartakboro

    I think the crucial difference between Mogga and Aitor seems to be the fact Mogga set his teams up to nullify the opposition, Aitor to impose ourselves on them.

    It doesnt always work out.

  29. Shouldn’t the Mogga/Karanka debate have been less about them as individuals and more about the widely differing models of what the club is, the values it embodies, and how we see its future that their appointments and tenures implied?

  30. Leaving the Mogga debate behind, there’s a football match today so has anybody got any predictions?

    I’ll go for 1 – 2.

    AV, Harvey’s produce a fine pint, I hope you enjoyed it/them.


    John R

  31. Len

    I dont think there is much difference in what the club is and it’s attitudes.

    It is a football club and it’s attitude should be to finish as high as it can.

    Mogga certainly doesnt have a history of developing academy players, the team he had at the Baggies had more Boro youth players than ones who shopped at Toys am We, easy to have more than zero. The kids were gulaged, I think I worked out that in his second season, apart from Main, the academy prospects got two starts and two sub appearances in an entire season.

    The academy looks to on an upward curve again with players coming through, no ones fault, it is cyclical. The academy will remain central to our future, Gary Gill and Higgie are in the management group for the first team.

    We look to be getting better loan players in, I cant see anything wrong with that. Ken and Bamford or Ameobi and Dyer? Nor do I see a problem with developing links with top flight clubs. Nor for that matter having the contact book of Kenyon and Mendes or the personal contacts of Aitor himself.

    Youngsters are getting time on loan, it worked for Gibson and Reach, hopefully it will work for the rest.

    Aitor has brought in some overseas players, Adomah, Carayol, Ogbeche, Haroon and Martin didnt come from North Yorkshire.

    If the club closed the academy, Higgie and Gary left the club, if Aitor did a Rafa and publicly stated he wanted to de localise the club I would be concerned.

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