Signs Of Optimism Amid The Wembley Debris

WELL, we all arrived home knackered, emotionally drained, hungover and gutted by the result – but the better team won on the day so there can be no complaints.

They did to us what we did to them. Twice. They were sprint starters and subdued Boro were sluggish and were punished for it then never had the nous, energy or penetration to claw it back.  Norwich played well when it mattered  and good luck to them next year.


We were numb and dismayed on the whistle and had the heart-ache of trudging away empty-handed from Wembley for a fifth time – but once we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and regain some sense of sober perspective it is clear there are still plenty of positives to take from the campaign as a whole.  And as we sift through the debris of Wembley there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic for the future.

Wembley – and the play-off against Brentford – was a fantastic and galvanising experience after a season of solid progress. And that has raised the bar for the team and the fans.

Boro have only lost three times at home (and in two of those games have battered the opposition) and thumped all three of the other teams in the play-offs by four goals at the Riverside;  they went away to three Champions League teams (W1 D1 L1) and did ourselves proud;  had the best defence in the division –  in the entire Football League! – by a mile; have played some brilliant football and scored some sublime team goals;  and the manager has reshaped the squad and dramatically improved almost every player he inherited through the creation of a demanding culture of excellence.

We know that Boro need to improve overall and be more clinical and score more goals if they are to be promoted next season, no one would deny that, not least the manager.  But Boro were not woefully short. It was agonisingly close.  Boro fell just four points short this time with a tally that would get you promoted nine years out of ten.

We can all pick out two or three games or decisions that could bridge that gap. Defeats at Bournemouth and Watford maybe. Or draws at home to Blackpool and Wigan. Or the disallowed goal at Leeds or the foul on Dimi at home to Blackburn. Or August.

Football is about fine margins and closing those gaps by incremental improvements.  Boro will need to up their game and improve their points return next season by just 2.5% next term to get promoted – and I believe we will. I believe the will and resources and the staff are there to  do just that. To continue the upward momentum of the past 18 months.

I am absolutely certain that after a full campaign to learn the nuances of the Championship, observe closely strengths and weaknesses of his squad and to work out exactly what skill-set he needs, that Aitor will demand and achieve that extra oomph.

And I am absolutely certain that once again Steve Gibson will back his man to the max to bring in the players needed to complete the jigsaw, especially up front.

This season has seen a lot of the elements of a vibrant and successful club start to emerge, not least a positive and passionate fan-base.

A massive positive from this season has been the on-going evolution of a new mentality among the supporters, only now coming out of the cynical cold shadow of relegation and relearning the importance of shared experience and their pro-active role.

Boro fans were awesome all weekend from Trafalgar Square to the stoic aftermath of defeat and being part of that spine-tingling spectacular will be main memory for most of the 40,000 strong Red Army who descended on London.

1red square

 Red Square: Boro fans set up a boozy base camp in London 

But that awesome support wasn’t a one off. It has been growing in size, volume and intensity all season.  The colour, noise, unity, the pride and passion showed in the last few weeks and months, the new songs, the impressive sonic stereo in the Riverside plus the experience of travelling en masse and enjoying it and routinely turning the matchday volume up to 11, will be the building blocks of a bigger, better atmosphere home and away next term that can help drive the team onto success..

Layers of lapsed loyalists have returned re-energised to the fold in the run in after years of estrangement and apathy.  Thousands of first timers and kids have caught the bug and are now entangled in the experience, they’ve had a taste of the narcotic buzz of a big crowd and are now eager for more.  Many who were just occasional fans- “part-timers” –  are now thinking about the compelling logic of Season Tickets. Which is good.

And while it is easy to denounce ‘glory-hunters,’ the Brentford and Wembley ticket frenzy was based on a genuine upsurge in interest in Boro for the first time since relegation. There is a wider public awareness  in the area about the team now.  Friends and family and colleagues who haven’t mention Boro in five years are now chatting in animated terms and taking an interest . That is fertile ground for a sustained growth if Boro make a couple of exciting signings over the summer to keep the momentum alive.

Those people, potential partisans,  should be welcomed and encouraged, their interest nurtured. If a third of those extra 20,000 who have been ignited in the past month can be cajoled and convinced to come back on a regular basis it will boost the Riverside roar and boost the coffers enough fund new two players for the next big push.

While we are still smarting from another bruising Wembley defeat, Boro are in a good place.  The club and the team have earned a lot of respect this year inside the game. The defensive record, the string of televised wins over our rivals, the display ay Manchetsre City – that Tomlinho turn! – have all caught the eye. The pundits know this is a fledgling side with great potential.

And Aitor has carved out a reputation for being more than just a Mourinho mini-me. He has gained a reputation for meticulous preparation, for creating a ‘team,’ for tactical awareness and crucially he has showed that he can markedly improve and develop players:  that and a good finish and the prospect of another tilt at the title will make it easier to recruit in the summer, either permanent signings or good loans.

And the players have bonded through this season too. Don’t under-estimate the importance of that both to increasing output on the pitch and  to giving players an incentive to stay. The players all love it here. They love being part of the club and have forged links with the fans.  The spirit in the camp is incredible. You can see that sense of unity among them, the cameraderie in the celebrations and in cyberspace.  They WANT to play for Boro. That is why so many have signed new long contracts this season.

And the promising youngsters in the team are a year more experienced.  Ben Gibson and Dani Ayala have been outstanding and a crucial component and they are both in their early 20s for example. The group has been together barely a year. The core are still learning to play together and are improving as individuals and a unit. And they will get better. And while new players must be grafted in, they will join a side that has a solid platform, a cohesive football philosophy and mentality and a great team spirit.



And usefully Boro have made a few bob from the big away days in the cup runs and from Wembley. The sides agreed as a courtesy that the loser took ALL the gate receipts and that will add somewhere close to £2m to the bottom line of a club who only had revenues of £8m last term.  So Boro will have a bit more market muscle to put on the pitch.

And – crucially – Boro are already making detailed plans to improve. Having talked to both the manager and the chairman on the evening after the game I can assure you that both are clear about where they fell short,  both are absolutely committed to the project and they are united in a determination to do whatever it takes to be better, stronger and more successful next season.

Getting to the play-offs this term was, on balance, a success. Next season it will be a failure. Next year Boro are going up automatically.

Seriously, next season we will storm this league.



203 thoughts on “Signs Of Optimism Amid The Wembley Debris

  1. It’s heretical to suggest to AK but a 352 would be the best way to exploit Tomlin’s passing ability. Sitting him in the middle of the 5 would give him Leads and Clayts to protect him and 2 runners ahead with a runner either side to hit with passes.

    As AK would never build a side around a player because of injury, form and suspension and and a general undermining of his team ethic/inter-changeable squad principal it’s a moot point.

    I’ll be happy to continue with the same strikers as last year as long as AK could remove our occasional sluggish starts from games.

    Someone above (sorry but I can’t remember who and haven’t time to check) pointed out correctly teams today move around the pitch in units – we do this mostly very well but against Norwich we didn’t thus leaving Vossen and Bamford isolated and feeding off scraps. If we’d moved up the pitch twenty/thirty yards collectively they may have had a happy hunting time.

    I’m not sure it matters who we sign (on our limited budget) if AK doesn’t address these two points. He’s probably working on them right now.

    Please don’t misunderstand – I am a supporter of AK.

  2. Would anybody here have Ryan Taylor and/or Jonas Gutierrez join the squad?
    I see they’re leave the Barcodes and I’ve always been a fan of Gutierrez, think he would fit into Karanka’s style of play.

  3. Rossi!!!

    I’m not sure about the fitness levels for either Taylor or Gutierrez and I also suspect that the wage demands, certainly of the latter, would be problematic for us. They would also have limited, if any, sell-on value.

    What about Matt Lowton from Villa? Young(ish), mobile, apparently unwanted at Villa and possibly affordable. We need a right-back.

    1. Fair point Andy. The sell-on value is something I hadn’t taken into consideration.

      If Lowton is going to be available, I’d definitely be happy if he were to come to Boro. Kalas would be my first choice, but he’d only come on loan, so would take Lowton as our player as a long term option.

  4. Wondering AV, we hear Gibson is great to work with as far as a Chairman of a football club goes but I was wondering, does he just sit back and allow his manager to get on with it? Or is he capable of ripping some one a new one if he felt some wrong decisions were being made or if he had doubts about certain directions a manager is going – and I’m not talking about results. In other words would he voice his concerns in a forthright manner?

    **AV writes: Gibson lets his managers manage and by all accounts is nothing but supportive, financially and personally. He will have input in the shape of a yearly review/strategic/budget planning summit and will have a major say in the business side of transfers, ie he won’t sanction a deal he doesn’t think the club can afford, but in footballing terms he keeps his distance. I think he does all the dealings with agents too to shield the manager from the distractions and nuts and bolts. Every manager that has left has nothing but good words to say about him. Which is unusual in football.

    1. I know there are two months of inactivity ahead but even contemplating, let alone debating (not you AV, good riposte) Steve Gibson in any shape or form is crass in the extreme. Pathetic really.

      Gibbo has been at the heart of everything positive about this club over the last 30 years. Sometimes he doesn’t get it right but it is extremely rare. The man has a nine figure net value and patently is no shrinking violet.

      Who would you rather support ? Steve Gibson in charge of a Championship club or the PL champions funded by a Russian of very uncertain means? Or Ashley and others.

      Right now, we have an awful lot still to be happy about.

  5. gt –

    I’m not sure about now but in the past I think Gibson has been guilty of giving his managers too much freedom, allowing them to run down the scouting department for instance.

    There appears to be a vision now.

  6. CroydonBoro –

    Interesting the debate about formations, personally I think it is the approach that matters.

    Whatever way teams line up it is what they do when they cross the white line that matters. You can be defensive or attacking. Many like 442 but how often do you get the ‘lined up with two banks of four’ with a striker dropping back in to the hole? or 352 ‘playing with a back five’, 4231 ‘lone striker’, 433 ‘five in midfield’.

    Apart from 352 most of the systems are only a tweak on each other. The key is playing at tempo high up the pitch with lots of movement, do that and the formation doesn’t matter.

    Where it does help to have a ‘formation’ is as a fall back position when under pressure or not playing so well.

    I remember Taarabt at QPR with Arry as manager. He banned the players from passing to him in their own half.

    1. More informed people than me (that’s a lot of people!) have argued that the formation is the defensive structure and that it is only the starting positions for an attack.

      I agree that tempo and movement, allied to the technique and awareness required therein, are the important factors.

  7. It will be interesting to see whether FIFA is capable of coming up with somebody even worse than Mr Blatter.

  8. What about 2-3-5.? Couldn’t somebody give that a go? Seriously, as we keep saying, the formation is largely irrelevant. Organisation is the key. Play the football in your opponents half. Attack is supposed to be the best form of defence, so why not try it?

  9. Signs of Optimism? Well, I feel a lot more optimistic now that Blatter has indicated he is to resign (or has resigned?).

    Any chance of now seeing the Garcia report?

  10. Call me a pessimist but he hasn’t gone yet… but, in the words of The Beach Boys – Wouldn’t it be nice?



  11. BoroPhil –

    We should be grown up about it but I am sorry I just a pet lip and sulk at the thought.

    Anyway, saw a tweet by Shearer, Blatter for Toon is what I say, a perfect match if Schteve opts for FIFA.

  12. Call me cynical, but Blatter’s is an operator and a little bit Machiavellian so his apparent resignation is probably designed to head off a UEFA breakaway at their generally meeting that is due to take place,

    The date of his resignation seems to be conditional on FIFA organising a new general meeting to hold an election (that would normally only take place next May). Blatter also said we need plenty of time to get to know new candidates before a vote (very much the length of a piece of string).

    He’s also proposing that delegates should be elected on fixed terms, which also has a possibility to throw in a delay, plus any outstanding legal cases involving delegates may lead to further postponements – especially if they have to stand down and be replaced.

    Since Blatter plans to stay until a successor is elected he could string this out a very long time – probably until the draw for the qualification groups for Russia has been done and European clubs no longer have enough time to organise a rival tournament.

    Even when he’s removed as head he’s still planning to stay to continue in his quest to ‘clean up’ FIFA – probably as the puppet master of the new incumbent.

  13. Werdermouth –

    From what I have heard it would be impossible for UEFA to form a breakaway group or tournament, I had heard that 8 teams had voted for Blatter, now reports are suggesting up to 18.

    If the original reports of France and Spain voting for him plus the idea of Germany voting not to defend the trophy then it becomes even more unlikely.

    The very public nature of what is now taking place will make it difficult not to reform, as the FBI and other investigating bodies start progressing up the food chain we may find people distancing themselves from the stench.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if nothing is traceable to Blatter on a need to know basis, it could be he just developed the power base and deliberately distanced himself from anything below him as the people he empowered abused their positions. He is so powerful he possibly didn’t need to get invoved.

  14. Werder

    Having just posted the above well considered analysis comes news Septic is being investigated by US officials.

    I should imagine it is going to be difficult for him to exert control over what happens next.

  15. Ian –

    Yes, I’ve just heard that the FBI hearing today may shed light on the evidence and who’s likely to have wider involvement – perhaps the Chuck Blazer wire may have picked up some interesting comments.

    I still think Blatter’s announcement of his resignation is designed to buy him time whilst he sees how the land lies and wrong foot his opponents – it will be hard to put together a coalition to undermine FIFA if it is believed he’s on his way out – it will encourage a year of wait and see and perhaps by that time the strength of conviction of many of his opponents will have waned.

    If he’s found guilty of something (by no means certain) then he’d have to go anyway – this his is attempt to manage the situation and possibly find a successor he can ‘work’ with.

  16. Werder –

    I doubt there will be a coalition to undermine FIFA now, South America seems to be acting against corruption, that view may well spread.

    From what you read there is little chance of a European candidate winning, the legacy of a European dominated FIFA seems to have scuppered that. There should be enough decent people to ensure a shakedown, the way the FBI seem to operate, the fact other jurisdictions are getting involved should cleanse the process.

  17. I would be very surprised if this investigation begins and ends with just FIFA. I suspect FIFA is just the tip of the iceberg and there could be ramifications much further down the food chain once “evidence” starts to unfold. We would be extremely naive to think that there will be a clean break with FIFA and all other bodies, organisations, clubs, agents and individuals unconnected.

    FIFA certainly has a lot to answer but their membership and the history of those involved cannot be viewed in isolation. That could perhaps explain or shed some light on any seemingly unfathomable voting or support issues prevalent amongst other organisations or countries.

    Corruption sadly is rife across all sectors of business and society, in the world of football I doubt very much if it will start and end with just FIFA. The FBI have just started to peel away at a football onion, once they get down into the layers I believe there may well be far greater shocks and surprises in store.

  18. Ian –

    I meant a European coalition that was threatening to set up an alternative tournament to Russia 2018 – it seems Blatter’s announcement has had the desired effect as UEFA have cancelled their emergency meeting to discuss how they will react to Blatter’s re-election.

    The fact that the FBI have now named Blatter as a potential suspect could make it difficult for him to continue for any length of time – but then again some people are slippery survivors and it will probably be a long investigation and case – unless people resign and admit guilt it’s going to be hard to clear out even the delegates. Plus suspects are facing jail if found guilty so I’d expect many to claim innocence and try to tough it out.

    Whether Blatter will offer to revisit the awarding of Russia 2018 or Qatar 2022 as part of his new ‘clean up’ campaign is debatable – though crossing Putin may prove far more dangerous than the FBI. I suspect he’ll advocate the need to re-elect all delegates before a clean president can be elected by them.

  19. I think that one point with all of this has been overlooked. World Soccer is not just Europe and South America. Imagine a world cup without the drama of the cannon fodder or the giant killers? So we need the 200 odd smaller nations to maintain an international relationship with soccer.

    Then where do the players come from that drive the European leagues? How many are from developing countries? A fair few I guess.

    So it is sour grapes, this animosity towards FIFA in my opinion looking from the outside.

    I also think that British Sports crying foul over corruption or dodgy practices is also very hypocritical. The Brits abroad are just as adept as everyone else and just as dirty – even the Royals, so lets put it into perspective.

    The USA and “White European ” model of clean makes me laugh, I deal with international contracts and believe me the Brits, Europeans and the Americans are well versed in how to wriggle around legislation, how to set up dummy companies and transactions and it would appear to me the FIFA guys are only guilty of sloppiness and stupidity, and not much else.

    We don’t like corruption because in the UK the public view [mistaken by the way] is that people who accept bribes are stealing money from someone, and stealing is morally wrong and against our Christian values. [That’s not playing the white man!!]

    Well believe me the white man is more dirty that the others, so maybe that is the hatred towards Septic Bladder because he shouldn’t behave that way. But he has an international business to run with the aim of growing the football business and his people need to be rewarded as in any company. Also he didn’t let us host the world cup so our pride was hurt.

    So lets look at the money. Countries benefit from hosting a tournament organized by FIFA. The process is simple and is an auction, all the Countries vote for the venue they think would best serve their own agenda. FIFA has an agenda too, it needs money to grow the business from grass roots up to glitzy tournaments. Their business model passes this money to the host country by way of investment for the tournament and other developing countries to develop the sport. So the country which offers the best deal gets the venue. The voters combine their home country agenda with FIFA’s agenda and pick a contender.

    Votes are always bought in any voting process, you think the MPs didn’t sell something or that there was no quid pro quo in the last election. You think that our own MPs don’t take bribes? You’re very naïve if you think that bribes are just money. In the UK it is called compromise, politics, arrangements and expenses.

    So who has been stealing money in FIFA and whose money was it? If FIFA want to pay some Ali Bin Flip Flop Sheikh, or some Flight Lieutenant Cocoa Dictator to develop their FA and in return secure their votes in choosing the FIFA preferred venue then so what. The money comes the TV rights and is another auction and goes to the highest bidder. They don’t care what happens afterwards so long as they have the glitzy TV rights.

    I am sorry to see Sep go, I thought he enhanced World Soccer, gave back some of the profits from the greedy Europeans to the developing countries where the market is about to explode with Soccer in China and India [ who incidentally still only have 1 vote each] and he had the balls to guide the tournament towards Qatar to extend the reach of World Soccer to everyone – to show that no one is excluded. So what if Qatar helped a few delegates make up their mind, in this part of the world and many others I might add, ” help” is the social security network that prevents a country descending into chaos. Very often feathering your own nest is the only way of surviving.

    Finally, Qatar was UEFA’s preferred venue, does that mean we should pull out of all International Soccer and send the PL back to their home countries?

    Can’t wait for the football to begin.

    **AV writes: There is an argument that Blatter has “delivered” in terms of growing the global game and developing the structure of football in poor countries. The money poured into grassroots football infrastructure – pitches, equipment, coaching and refereeing courses, admin support etc – and the opportunity to play in the finals by expanding the competition explains why he was genuinely popular and repeatedly won votes in Africa and Asia. That is, as you say, just shrewd politics even if it has tipped the balance against our own vested interests and led to squeals from Europe that sound at times like post-Imperial pique.

    But there is another side to FIFA’s operation which is as a global off the pitch business machine and that is where the crook shave been operating in a way that is clearly criminal: in skimming from TV deals, ticketing operations, branding and merchandising, “legacy” payments, publishing and media rights… none of this helps develop the game or can be explained as routine business practice in countries where more naked forms of corruption exist. This is part of a modern, slick, electronic European based, global financial paper chase through offshore banks, holding companies, secret accounts and tax loopholes. Much of it is outright criminality – and that is why it is being brought to book by the Feds and not the FAs.

    1. I am not sure whether or not allan in saudi** is employing irony here.

      I don’t suppose too many FIFA delegates have ever had to put their hands into their own pockets to buy a round of drinks, or had to worry about the size of the bill from the 6-star hotels they frequent all around the world. Not since joining that “elite” anyway. Must be hard being ferried around the world to check the credentials of the “technical bids” of the various candidate countries who had hoped to host the World Cup.

      I can see an argument for a WC in a footballing “giant” like Russia, for all that there are issues in that country – racism, institutional corruption, lack of human rights (try to “come out” in Moscow, let alone in less metropolitan areas of the country), annexing part of a sovereign European country, and just basic freedoms, for example – but it is at least a country that has a football heritage. It has had teams qualifying for several WC tournaments and has performed well in some of them.

      But Qatar? A football heritage there? A football infrastructure there (like any stadia apart from those being built now on the dead bodies of imported cheap South Asian labour)? That’s not exactly a country which will be holding out a hand of welcome to gay female fans who might like a bottle or two of Bud (one of big football’s regular sponsors), is it? And to hold a competition for a tournament in the summer, only afterwards to decide to change it to a winter tournament (without giving that later option to the other candidate countries)?

      I agree that there is a benefit to spreading football to new areas, rather than just Europe, South America and the USA. Australia almost certainly had a great technical bid and could have put crowds into stadia in its big cities – Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart, Canberra. Good transport links, a free and open country which would open its arms to visitors, Press and communications technology to enable the whole world to enjoy the fun…. Football hadn’t ever been to Oceania/Australasia before, so that would have given a new continent which could be “ticked” off. How many boxes would have remained unticked there? None – apart maybe from being willing to buy votes by stuffing money into grasping hands?

      The WC has visited Asia before, and recently (Japan/S Korea), so Qatar didn’t tick that box. A WC in Qatar in summer would have been criminally irresponsible. A WC in Qatar in winter is not the question the voters were being asked, and is so ridiculous that there can only be one, corrupt, explanation for it.

      Let me make it clear. I am not arguing from a “Little Englander” perspective that sees all foreigners as inferior. I don’t even support England (apart from at cricket – at the risk of a yellow card from AV!). I don’t even argue this from a “European is best” point of view. But I think if you run a competition between competing countries for the right to hold a WC, we have the right to expect the rules of the bid to be followed (technical bids should be considered technically), that a bid should not be chosen and then the basis of the bid that others joined in should not subsequently be changed, and that the decision is made for footballing reasons and NOT on the basis of how much money changes hands.

      Obviously everyone involved knew what was going on was wrong. There could be no honest explanation for it. The FBI are investigating this in the same way as they investigate large-scale organised crime. And that’s because that is what it was.

  20. Ian Gill –

    I agree very much, without the correct attitude any formation will ultimately resemble the Maginot Line.

    Regardless of formation, it’s interesting to imagine a team resembling a flower – I don’t mean wilting in August or hibernating in January tho’ clearly that applies all too readily to Boro.

    Every team should retreat collectively around the hard seed of their 30 yard line when defending then when attacking spread out in all directions when on the offensive; expanding and contracting in (speedy) response to the prevailing sporting conditions.

  21. Allan, you played the devil’s advocate very well. Yes, you are faced with a dilemma if you try to do business in a country where corruption is endemic. Some people will always be tempted to play along.

    If you do it’s short term gain opposed to to long term well being. The evidence appears to show that there is a strong correlation between probity and the prosperity of a country.

    People will always try to cheat, even in our modern democracies, that’s why we have laws and rules to attempt to prevent it.

    If you are a citizen of a country with a robust tradition of the rule of law and you cross the line, you risk being punished. There are plenty of examples in business where that has happened.

    The case of FIFA seems to illustrate problems with Swiss law on not for profit organisations and on freedom of contract. The way this enabled Blatter and possibly Havalange to act with such impunity, is leading to some soul searching among Swiss legislators right now.

    I think you illustrated very well why the current bidding process for World Cups is inherently corrupt and corrupting.

    Leaving aside the obscene waste of time and money wasted in preparing bids. The inducements by which a bidder seeks to persuade a delegate to give their vote are already corrupt even if no money changes hands. Private education or goody bags anyone?

    I think we need to take the politics and graft out of the process. That means taking the bidding and the voting away.

    One way of doing this might be for the decision making body to prepare a public specification.

    That could contain elements such as for example:

    Transport links
    Stage dates

    The bids could be sent to an inspector to be validated. All valid bids would go to an open lottery.

    The winner would be monitored and if it failed to meet any of the stage dates, its bid would be invalidated and if necessary the tournament allocated to a country that already had all the infra-structure in place.

  22. Zealous convert that I am to all things Karanka I’m on us for next season’s championship at 12/1 (£25 e/w). It’s my “get back the Wembley outlay” bet, inspired by RR’s punt last season.

    Fixtures are out in 2 weeks – it soon comes round again.

  23. Alan –

    Maybe the UK should bid for the rights to the baseball world series. Would we get new stadiums and infrastructure to help grow the sport here? And how much under the table exchanges will it it take?

    After all you seem to be saying what’s a little corruption here and there

  24. Back to Boro, the form table for the last eight games of the season shows top three of Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford. We were tenth with a GD of -1. Are there any suggestions on this, tiredness etc? Could the squad have been utilized more? Or maybe in some eyes certain players not good enough?

    I know you can blow certain stats away but is there a table of crosses into the box, by teams in our league. I’d be interested to know if there is a pattern

  25. AV

    Read your piece about what we have to spend, I was hoping that one or two of the grubby gentlemen from FIFA had tucked some brown envelopes down Gibbo’s sofa.

    I must admit when I did some fag packet maths I had turnover up by about £7m but without taken any costs off so your figures make sense. Attendance was up from just under 16,000 to 19600ish.

    Do you think the wage bill will go up or stand still this year because as you say many times, these players have to be paid.

    **AV writes: The wage bill will have nudged up to £20m over the past season but a lot of that will have been on loan signings and that can be reallocated easily. Of the players who have been released there were not many big earners – Hines, Ledesma etc – although Woody and Whitehead will have been on well over the divisional average and that’s not good for an occasional cameo defender and fourth choice midfielder. That can be redirected onto the pitch. I don’t think the wagebill will – or can – go much higher but it can be more targeted.

  26. I lobbed the ball into the penalty area from very wide and far out. I did it in such a way (a very long post), to give the “usual suspects” the chance to sneak in, sending a group of short, punchy posts, so as to hit the Big 200.

    I am tempted to quote the Blessed Delia: “Where are you….?” etc. Come on, lads, I am doing my best. I just refuse to hang about the six yard box for too long these days. I get a nosebleed being so far up-field.

    Son and heir has invited me and Mrs Dormo to what he would like to think of as the Eastern Wing of the house, so watch another episode of “Game of Thrones”. Not the current series being shown on Sky, but the 4th Series.

    Drinking, back-stabbing treachery, leadership disputes, dwarf sex…’s an everyday tale of FIFA folk. But don’t spoil the fun for me. I don’t want to know what has happened more recently in the series, which I have yet to see. I may be back later to see which of you goal-hangers has poked the ball over the line.

    Good Luck, Trabbie lovers.

    **AV writes: I’ve just published a new blog in a bid to play everyone offside. *steps up, arm aloft*

  27. I don’t like Trabbies. I wait for the 300th or 400th posts. But we did not reach such height – not evn after a Wembley lost. How I remember the days when we lost at home to Cardiff in the Cup.

    Perhaps we can blame AK for this optimism? And a new blog after 193 posts. Seriosly, AV?

    Up the Boro!

    **AV writes: I got the impression people were getting bored and needed a new subject so I thought I’d move things along by looking at the summer budget.

  28. Oh dear,

    The ground is deserted and there’s still 6 minutes on the clock – wait there’s some one on the ptitch, and the whistle hasn’t gone!!!

  29. He picks himself up and dusts himself down and, as if out of nowhere, a ball comes bouncing out the heavens and lands at his feet.

    What no crowd? Why is the clock still running? Is it night or dat.

    The open goal beckons . . . .

  30. There was a time when you had to be a gentlemen, goal scrounger was a slur not a compliment. Well here at Boro we don’t care, goals are goals aren’t they?

    And in any event we need the points otherwise we don’t go up do we?

    Do we really want to go up?


  31. He rolls the ball to edge of the box at a slow steady pace and rounds Dimi’s bottle bump, . . .

  32. Looks up into the stand to see if the ozzy contingent is here? Anyone out there?

    How about the Delta, surely you guys are at work?

    What about New York you haven’t gone to bed yet?

    Flicks the ball into the air George Best style on the edge of the six yard box…….

  33. . . .and in it goes EIO EIO!!

    Now we can forget about Wembley and concentrate on next years league.

    The final whistle has gone and a double trabbie for the Arab Contingent [#CUinQatar?]

    Lets close this thread Vic, and have a new beginning. Wipe it from our consciousness.


    **AV writes: If you score a goal and no-one is there to see it, does it still count? Bloody right it does!

  34. What offside? No way…… this is discrimination against the Middle East. Sour grapes etc. Just because we were in bed in our tents. Not allowed.

    Can I slip you some “help” to override the linesman?

    I’m having my ball back . . . .

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