Repeat Prescription: Last Gasp Goal Is Sickener

I FELT physically sick as brittle Boro suffered a cut-and-paste sucker punch at Rotherham.

Seriously. It was as much the gut-wrenching historic inevitability of the enamel shattering kick in the teeth as the possible consequences in the gruelling months to come.


You could feel the fear bubble through the cracks in our suddenly fragile front. Again.

It was a templated torpedo straight out the Big Boro Book of Bitter Disappointments. It was an echo of Bristol City away.

You know the script: Boro were well on top in a fluid first half and pummelled the relegation battlers. Again.

But for all the liquid football up front and big ticket swagger they spurned a string of golden chances. Again

Gaston Ramirez hit the post from a sweet free-kick, David Nugent went one-on-one and scooped his shot over and headed one wide among a clutch of decent efforts.

Then were left looking second best as an archetypal Championship long-balled them, dramatically upped the tempo and tenacity and bombarded them – Warnocked them – and tried to turn it into a route one scrap before finally forcing a late, late winner. Again.

And they missed a golden opportunity to seize the promotion momentum. Again. Jeez.

That’s how it feels after months of frustrating flailing. If feels like the entire second half of the season has been spent in stomach knotted, nerve shredded nausea.

It hasn’t, because in three of the four previous games Boro were playing some neat stuff and it is only a few days ago we were purring about Gaston Ramirez.

Boro were top at half-time as Burnley trailed at ‘Ross McCormack’s Fulham’ so that is how agonisingly close it is. And that is what makes it more frustrating.

Then, as the door opened for a solo stroll, it has been slammed on our feet. The only wonder is we don’t suffer a collective broken metatarsal. Why do they do this to us? Why do they do it to themselves?

In a season when Boro have left smashed hoodoos in their wake – Hillsborough, Forest, Wolves, Ipswich – you’d have thought they would have seen off basement battling Rotherham. It should have been a shoo-in.

But that is without the spectre of Neil Warnock. Again.

Boro have never beaten a Warnock side on his own turf in 37 years. That’s incredible. Alright we haven’t played him that often but all Boro’s five wins in 16 games have been on Teesside.

Boro beat him in the first meeting, a 1-0 Division Two home win over Notts County in September 1990 with John Wark scoring.

And Boro beat Warnock in the last full meeting too, Curtis Main netting late on in a 1-0 Championship home win over a snarling Leeds in February 2013.

Boro also won the last time one of his teams was at the Riverside earlier this term, a 1-0 win over QPR when he was in interim charge but he didn’t travel for personal reasons so clearly his hex wasn’t at work. Don’t under-estimate that.

It must be said Boro’s record against Warnock sides has not been great. Over 25 years we have gone toe-to-toe with his mixed martial arts sides 15 times and been grappled into submission by his shock-and-awe approach.

Boro have won just five of those. Apart from the book-end successes at beginning and end, the only other victories came during Warnock’s six-year street-fighting spell at Sheffield United.

Boro clocked up a 3-1 Riverside triumph over Sheffield United in the Premier League in January 2007 with Mark Vikuda netting and Yakubu adding a brace.

And in February 2008 keeper Paddy Kenny fumbled home an extra-time own goal as Gareth Southgate’s side won 1-0 in an FA Cup replay.

Still, P16 W5 D2 L9 is not a great record. All the wins and the draw came at home. And many of the defeats were painful ones so you can see how the myth grew.

This one at Rotherham can be added to the list. It may not be terminal to Boro’s hopes – there’s 11 games left and we ARE still second with a game in hand – but it still bloody well hurts.



THE RED Army’s Long March takes us to Rotherham tonight as this season of promise enters a pivotal week. After ending the winter wobble with three wins out of four our heroes are handed a golden opportunity to tighten the screw at the summit with two away games on the bounce against teams in the bottom three.  At this stage, with these stakes we couldn’t ask for more. But we must make these games count.

It was a jittery January. And a fraught February. It was ever thus. But now it is time for Boro’s spring offensive. One last push and we will be within touching distance. But this week is massive. Six points now will cement a top two spot before the visit of Hull to the Riverside. Even four points would probably give Boro a marked advantage. Anything less and it will be a very tense scrap after Easter in an atmosphere of hysteria.

Boro have looked polished in the last few games with fired-up string-puller Gaston Ramirez looking like the natural  number 10 the system needs to work at full efficiency. He looks like the final piece Aitor Karanka’s promotion jigsaw.1jigsaw


So Rotherham… Boro haven’t lost to Rotherham since New Year’s Day 1966 when soon-to-be-player-manager Stan Anderson got a consolation in a 4-1 defeat. Boro had won the reverse fixture 4-0 that season and went on to be promoted. Since then Boro are unbeaten against the Millers in a dozen fixtures and they have won the last six on the spin. They eased to a 3-0 win there last term – it was “the Wildschut match” – and ground out a functional 1-0 win at the Riverside earlier this season. What could go wrong.

Anyway, here’s a bit did on Boro’s next few fixtures and those of our rivals. I’m going for a routine 2-0 win tonight after getting to grips with Arch-pragmatist Neil Warnock’s route one aerial assault.

Over to you. Usual drill, predict away – scoreline, how the game will pan out, goal-getters, yellow card collectors, crowd, temperature, whatever you want – and then all back here later on to swap notes.



274 thoughts on “Repeat Prescription: Last Gasp Goal Is Sickener

  1. Look folks, this is football.

    Dennison, Carter, Anderson………..Robson…..Southgate……..Aitor. I am still supporting and the club is still here.

    1. Ian

      Exactly, managers will always come and go but we remain.

      Over the last 8 games Burnley have amassed 20 points, Brighton 15, Hull 14 and Boro 12 points, over the last 4 games Burnley have collected 12 points, Brighton 8, Boro 6 and Hull 5. Extrapolating those current form figures we look destined to miss a top two spot unless something drastically changed.

      Its not the change I wanted or indeed thought but we couldn’t keep stubbornly doing the same thing in the belief that our 2015 form from September through December would suddenly reappear when it was becoming clear from results it wasn’t happening. Something has deteriorated and we were blipping, slumping (or coughing and spluttering at least), a change of sorts had to come somehow, it looks like it has albeit a bizarre one.

  2. I want it to be known that I didn’t want AK to go. I wanted to see him finish the no he’d started and get us to the premier league.

    His strengths as a manager far far outweighed his weaknesses and he has probably been the best manager we have had in two decades.

    However, with rose tinted specs, a lot of the outstanding work he has done will remain long after he’s gone. A really talented squad of players with the potential to be playing top flight football very very soon. A top global scouting network. An increase in supporter interest and crowds in general. And from an outsiders view one of the best managerial hot seats you could dream of having. All the hard work has been done for you.

    In fact what I consider to be AK’s few weaknesses are the things that may have been stopping us getting over that finishing line. Tactical inflexibility, a struggle to man manage certain key players. A lack of a plan ‘b’.

    As I posted a few days ago nobody could have done the job AK has done over the last couple of years but a great number could have got better results than those accrued over the last ten games. We only need someone to get us over the line. A fresh face if AK truly had lost some of the players may very well be needed to get us up.

    Sad? Yes! but terminal? No!

  3. Never saw this one coming. Very sad, but now is the opportunity for the players to stand up and be counted if they had a disagreement with the way things were going. good luck to AK, he has the potential to be a top manager. I expect nothing less than a complete mauling ofCharlton tomorrow.

  4. Interesting article on itv saying that AK turned up for training on Saturday ready to apologise for his part in the bust up and was turned away by the club.

    If this is true it tells me he’s lost the players. The club obviously felt there was no way they could allow him to take charge without alienating the players further. It’ll take some amazing mediation work by sg to turn this one around or it may just be a case of you’ve walked out, you’ve lost the players and unfortunately there’s no way back. Maybe if it were September and not ten games before the end of the season, every game is of mammoth proportions.

  5. It does look increasingly likely that AK’s time in change will be over. It’s unexpected and disappointing news though I accept not everyone feels that way.

    As Ian and RR suggest, our loyalty is always with the club above all else so all that really matters in all of this is how the Boro will fare.

    My own journey with AK has been a turbulent one. Regular posters may recall my fairly frequent posts in AK’s first season about my concerns over the style of football and level of entertainment on offer. To me, it felt like we were about to embark on a journey of joyless, negative football.

    I maintain a little of that now but my stance has softened. Whilst never fully bought-in to AKBoro, my worst fears have not come true and overall I have very much enjoyed last season and this. Results have been good (against my personal expectations) and the football on offer has been far more enjoyable than I expected. I’ve gained a greater appreciation of collective defending.

    I don’t think I could ever have been a true believer in the AK way but I do respect the man and his footballing principles.

    Recently I frequently find myself defending Karanka. Not though an complete about turn on my view of him but just because I feel the criticism of him has been over the top, or, to borrow a phrase from AV, divorced from reality.

    So despite my initial concerns and some persistent misgivings, I will be disappointed to see AK go and especially in this rather sad manner.

  6. Whoever is responsible for the fall out between AK and the players, the result is a disaster.

    I can imagine some players are cheesed off with AK , Ayala for being’accused’ of not playing when ‘fit’, Stewie for perhaps not being allowed to express himself etc etc. But it is only that, my imagination.

    Wherever the truth lies this level of disruption and distraction at this stage of the season is more likely to have a negative impact than positive. There is a chance that as a result of the blow up we’ll see a more motivated dynamic Boro appear, let’s hope so.

    AK walking out of a team meeting is most damaging for him in the long term, the reputational damage will be significant.

    He’s finished at Boro, whether he leaves now or at the seasons end.

    As for Boro’s season, that may be finished to.

  7. So it’s reported in the Guardian, quoted in the Gazette, that AK turned up to take a light training session this morning but ‘his presence was regarded as too divisive and Boro executives told him to go home.’ This suggests that AK has not necessarily finally decided to leave.

    If it’s accurate, it might be that some sort of squad statement from all the players affirming their full support for him might make a difference, but I can’t see that happening or him staying from the point things have reached.

  8. Nice post, Andy. Your “journey” has been similar to my own.

    I always feared that AK’s brittle brand of authoritarianism was likely to end in tears, in spite of AV’s assurances that the players had all bought into it.

    But every Boro fan should be grateful to the degree of commitment, preparation and professionalism that Aitor brought to the club.

    I think he deserved better than for it all to end like this, and I wish him well.

  9. I don’t recall ever hearing before a manager being told to go home the day before a game – a player yes, but the guy in charge being told his presence was deemed too divisive?

    Not sure where it goes from here but it doesn’t sound promising – especially given the majority of coaching staff and scouts seem to be Spanish speaking Karanka men.

    I thought the new model under Karanka was being assembled piece by piece and the methodology and tactics were aimed at moving up to the PL and Boro upscaling seamlessly into a capable top tier outfit.

    In such circumstances players stepping out of line would be sent on gardening leave – the fact it’s the manager being sidelined appears to show where the blame has been placed.

    I hope it gets sorted over the weekend but my gut feeling is Gibbo will be thumbing through his little black book for the number of David Moyes – he’s probably quite suited to the current setup and besides a staring competition between him and Grant Leadbitter would be something to immediately bring everyone sheepishly into line.

    Anyway, very disappointing news that those wheels on the rollercoaster appear to have come off before the April ride had even started!

  10. The most important thing at the moment is securing three points tomorrow,uniting the players and getting them focused on doing that and it makes sense after yesterday’s events to keep Karanka away so as not to inflame the situation and jeopardise the result.

    Whether or not he returns remains to be seen but it would seem very unlikely. Things look like they have been brewing for a long time and it was inevitable it would come to a head. If it was just one player he had fallen out with it wouldn’t be so bad but from what I’ve heard it’s been quite a few. At first we all embraced Karankas hard line approach with players but it seems he’s gone too far now.

    How many players has he fallen out with since he arrived?

    Jason Steele was the first,sent off in his first game in charge in the November and only made one more appearance before being shipped out the following summer.
    Earlier this season in the home defeat to Bristol City,Wildschut had a good first half but for whatever reason was the half time scapegoat and not long after was loaned out and eventually sold to Wigan. The same scenario for Reach too.

    His fallout with Higgy just two days after he heaped praise on him because Higgy apologised to the fourth official for Karankas temper. Instead of pulling him to one side after he had calmed down and telling him not to speak for him in future he got rid,no second chances for Higgy despite the good work he did with the players. Ironically Karanka may not get a second chance either with SG now.

    Mejias was out of favour for six months after his clanger at home to Leeds.

    Adomah has had a couple of spells on the naughty step.

    After the recent Blackburn defeat he suggested some fans would still be happy because we played with two strikers and now the rumoured fall out with Rhodes Ayala Downing and Woodgate.

    The pressure has obviously got to Karanka and he hasn’t dealt with the situation at all well. His my way or the Highway style of management has sickened the players off. How can they be expected to perform to their best when they know one mistake and they have a spell on the bench,nobody can question anything he says or does. Players appear to have lost all respect for him.

    After the alleged Valencia interest it did cross my mind that Karanka deliberately created this situation to give him an excuse for walking away rather than just ditch the club. After all it’s pretty naive of him to publicly criticise players and then expect everyone to be happy,it was as if he was provoking this reaction.

    Whatever will be will be. No individual whether it be a player or a manager is bigger than the club. As far as I’m concerned I couldn’t care less who is in charge or who is playing, the most important thing for me is securing the three points tomorrow and get focused on winning promotion.

    It will be interesting to see if Agnew goes with the same formation and players as Karanka does. If not then it’s safe to assume Agnew had no input into the matchday selections and tactics and they were in the middle of a divorce as I suggested it looked like at Rotherham on Tuesday.

    I look forward to my trip to Charlton tomorrow (I think)


    Can you imagine what Ali would have made of all this??

  11. So the lunatics have taken over the asylum..?

    SG has invested so heavily in this project that he is prepared to let other people, players to dictate what THEY want?

    For his faults, AK swept the team he inherited of the deadwood and untouchables.

    He should be supported, not sent to the lepers colony.

    Of course no one is bigger than the club, but he is SG appointment and should be endorsed every step of the way, even denting egos who cannot match AK track record of a player or an honourable human being

  12. Gutted at this news, …..why oh why do we make it so difficult for ourselves. I don’t buy the he can’t man manage argument – he’s the manager it’s not a popularity contest! Can someone explain to me what exactly is wrong with dropping players if they make a mistake or don’t follow the game plan. The guy hates losing I think we can all agree on that and is incredibly passionate. I agree that he should keep his emotions in check on occasion but I would much prefer that than the grey cardboard managers that we see nowadays, he has been a breath of fresh air on that front.

    I also disagree with the comment that this has caused him reputational damage, really? If he does indeed leave he will be snapped up quickly. Perhaps we should be more concerned at the reputational damage caused to the club if it is true that he was sent away from training when he intended to apologise to the players.

    Hopefully 3 points tomorrow but I can’t shake the nagging feeling that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone!

  13. If/when Karanka is confirmed as having departed, it will be interesting to see who goes with him.

    Prior to his appointment, we were talking about building a surrounding structure that wasn’t reliant on the manager – a Swansea-style model that appoints managers to suit the system and isn’t overly disrupted as personnel comes and goes.

    Since then however, a number of what would appear to be Karanka’s men have taken positions in the club.

    Presumably Leo would go but what of the others? What would it mean for Victor Orta who has been with us all of five minutes?

    And most worrisome of all, what will become of the La Bamba song?

    1. In the short-term my worry is about the ability of the players to re-focus on their task at hand – but yes the long-term consequences and upheaval of Karanka leaving could leave the club back at the drawing board stage and we have no idea how many of his coaching and scouting staff are at Boro just to work with AK.

      The civil war in the Boro dressing room has raised a lot of questions – do we now need a new model army or will a more cavalier approach get us the crown?

  14. If this is player power and the Gibson ,gives in I’m done with this club, I’ll say now we have no chance of promotion,the Spanish lads will support AK, the others who have never played under a different method and think they know better will play just like they are second level ability.
    There is this fallicy that Steve Gibson doesn’t interfere , of course he does ,he has an investment to look after, he has signed players over the managers head before, if this situation isn’t sorted and we don’t go up,Steve Gibson will get what he deserves.
    Hope I haven’t commited sacrilege

  15. No one has asked the question as to why it got so far? Why didn’t someone step in before the situ developed to a crisis? What the hell was the senior management doing? Fingers on the pulse? Hardly!

  16. Then again it’s all the fans fault. No it’s the players fault! No it’s the manager’s problem. No it was SPARTAK!!! He did it!
    What on earth was senior management doing all the time? Reports say this has been going on for sometime. Did they leave AK to face it on his own? What exactly do they get paid for- counting ticket receipts?

  17. I know, let’s not make waves. No point in having an inquest. Attributing blame gets us nowhere. It won’t help our promo push. Best leavce it to the end of the season and then we can simply forget it!!!

    There job done!

  18. Oh dear.

    I have never known a player/manager clash end happily when the players win. It seems to me that the problems started when they got on the bus to Bristol, to recap, they would have been nine points clear with one, or was it two games in hand, and Bristol were in free fall. Did they decide it was now or never, to get rid of him? Because their behaviour has been shameful. A very pleasant interlude of organisation and steady progress as a club ( crowd average up from 15000? To 24000?) all wrecked by a bunch of oiks who are frightened that their cushy life will end when we get in the prem.

    Can we just realise that players are not allowed to run the club, that way lies madness. Just in case anyone thinks we will be promoted, give your head a shake, we won’t even make the play offs. It doesn’t matter how many of the players set their lip up to him, they should have received their marching orders. All the fans who decided to return to the club this year have been treated with contempt by these players. The big question they should be forced to answer, ‘ why didn’t you go on and cruise the league when the manager got you in a most wonderful position?’

    1. Plato

      (Spartak shakes head in disbelief)

      Don’t you read my posts?

      There is a ‘collective’ responsibility here. It starts with SG and works it’s way down. If the players are disgruntled for whatever reason, then they can speak to the Captain of the team and he can speak to AK (the manager as was). The manager then can speak to the senior managers and discuss how best to progress. If they don’t know they can speak to SG and then the executive decision comes back down the line.

      That’s what should happen in a healthy well balanced fully functioning organisation. It obviously didn’t to such an extent that the then manager AK has been told to go home by the ‘senior’ management. That should never have happened. The problem should have been nipped in the bud some time before. The manager should have been given 110% support to deal with the operational side of the situation, end of. But that has not been forthcoming – that’s why as things presently stand he’s on gardening leave.

      I wonder if people wonder why Martin O Neill came saw and left.

      In effect, AK has been left to bear all the flak. SG and the executive should have signed off on his overall strategy and tactics. The players coming in should have been aware of what was expected of them within that overall plan. If they felt they couldn’t fulfill their role then they shouldn’t have been signed coz they didn’t fit the remit. If the plan had to change then the manager should have been included in the necessary readjustments but if there was such a change he obviously wasn’t.

      Conclusion … come to your own. I’m not yer bloody organisational management consultant and I’m not being paid for my experience, knowledge and wisdom.

      I thank you!

  19. How many of those complaining about Players complaining are members of a Trades Union, you know those people who band together to support one another during difficult times especially if individuals are being victimised as opposed to merely disciplined? If it happened in their workplace to a friend or colleague what would they do?

    Bullying in the workplace I think the Unions would call it. So if Players are being “talked about” as is alleged (or leaked) or naughty stepped, should they kowtow in fear or eventually rise up and say enough is enough. Likewise if the workers are revolting why should AK put up with it? Imagine coming home from work and telling the Mrs you’ve been naughty stepped at 28 years of age!

    Higgy was previously brought in to provide a balance to AK’s directness but even Higgy was subjected to some cold hard steel (and SG backed AK then) himself. At what point does a business owner step in and become accountable for activities in his own business or does he wait until a general strike and tools are downed (points deducted)? Legally, like any employer SG is responsible for his business and its employees whether it is Bulkhaul or MFC.

    Now of course there are two sides to every story and AK may be the unfortunate victim here and we have to bear that in mind. Regardless, an employer has to keep his business ticking over whilst ensuring all incidents are thoroughly and fairly investigated which is why we may see AK back after an internal investigation or not as the case may be. We may of course see AK leave regardless of outcomes and indeed we may also see some players depart or have their contracts terminated (mutually or otherwise).

    Whatever the outcome I don’t think this is a one off incident. It has probably been brewing for a while and like as not has probably been spoken about and addressed internally before now. What can be said is that it is unprofessional and unbecoming behaviour in any business what SG has to do now is figure out who done what to who and who is in the right and who is in the wrong and what action to take if any but most importantly how on earth it got to this point.

  20. Stewy Downing has been named in dispatchers regarding player power. Let me just say I’m a fan of Stewy, I think he has great ability and is a big asset to any team, however, and this sounds a contradiction in terms, he does have a tendency to drop off in the second half of seasons. He’s done it in the past,last season at W Ham he was flying before Christmas, back in the England team, then he basically disappeared. Let’s hope it’s all a storm in a tea cup


    1. All due respect GT, this is more than about one player or one manager. This is about a dysfunctional organisation that can’t get the basics right. IMHO

  21. Golden Shotgun taken out of the Keith Lamb Cabinet, in the Charlie Amer room. Handed to “Senior Players” who collectively pull the trigger and shoot the football club.

    Club suffers traumatic injuries which it finally succumbs to 10 weeks later.

    “NO TRUTH IN THE RUMOUR CLUB SHOT ITSELF” Scream the Gazette headlines.
    Injuries were not self inflicted.

    Meanwhile in a dramatic twist, rumours are circulating tonight on Borough Road that the players may have been contract killers hired by disgruntled supporters known as the “442 Gang”

    There is mounting evidence that certain players, unhappy at even the thought they might be crap at their jobs allowed themselves to be radicalized by this “extreme” group.

    Certain elements of the fanbase are sought in connection with this terrible tragedy”,Detective Inspector Lamb of the Rockliffe CID was quoted as saying.

    ” I have maintained for years now, that the People of Teesside will get the football club it deserves” he continued, “That has now been proved to be the case and I am fully committed to bringing these people to justice”

    An Individual who cannot be named due to Mental age restrictions but is believed to have been involved in the Coup gave a brief statement claiming responsibility for the attack before adjourning to a nightclub in Leeds.

  22. Sky Sport are quoting a ‘source’ as saying Karanka told the players after Rotherham that he didn’t want to mange them anymore.

    Two things spring to mind. If he did say that he’s definitely done at Boro. And whoever was in the dressing room when he said that and passed it on to Sky needs to be kicked out of the club asap.

    The results fell kindly for us yet again today, if we win tomorrow that will help ease the tension, but make no mistake our season is on a knife edge.

  23. Surely there’s no way AK can come back from this. If he’s not on the bench at Charlton then that is the end.

  24. There are two ways this can go, for better or for worse. I am sure I have heard those words before!

    As I posted earlier it is never one part’s fault but lets look at some facts. Lets ignore mumbo jumbo management speak, I have done enough in my time.

    I am not picking on individual players, I am only mentioning what I have seen in the public domain. After the play off defeat Clayts was only too happy to show pictures of him and his partner off to Dubai on a plane. Where did 40,000 Boro fans go?

    Please, please, don’t use this as ammunition. I am not picking on Clayts, I like him but I cant be bothered going in to twitter and facebook and look at the other examples because I don’t care about those media.,

    The only non work time I have seen of Aitor is visting Flamingo Land with his kids and that was posted by a fan.

    Maybe his intensity didn’t match that of his players. That may well be history.

    In front of the players is a challenge. Have you taken your feet of the pedal, were you too comfortable and Aitor correct in saying you didn’t want it enough?

    Or was Aitor wrong and are you going to play with freedom and romp to promotion.

    If they don’t do it the finger will be pointed at them because they have rebelled and not risen to their task. 26 months of Aitor saw us top, clear and chopping the top off the 262/263. Fail to go up now and it will, in Cluedo style, be the players, in the meeting room with inflated egos.

    Huge challenge tomorrow, not from Charlton but an inner one. Don’t win and continue not doing so then the players may be advised to adopt a low profile.

    Fans are a bit wary of players paid more a month than they get paid in a year.

    Just saying like. copyright Spartak.

    1. That’s a nice bit of spin you’ve got there Ian, I’d be quite proud of that one myself, except of course you’re simply pointing a finger in one direction, with one example ie Clayts.

      You fail to mention how on earth it could be allowed to get to that point in the first case.

      Who buys players? Who fails to back the manager? Who puts in place as his number 2, a man who gets such a diamond studded contract that even Steve Bruce is envious? Who….?

      Strangely I don’t really want an answer to the questions

    2. Spartak,

      The whole hype is wearing thin and the fans are getting weary, well this one is. If AK has gone and they are in charge tomorrow prove how right they/you are and how wrong he is/was.

      Over to them. They’re probably paid more in a week than my pension for the year.

      This could be the end my friend.

      Meanwhile despite the lunatics being on the grass,



  25. I feel desperate about this situation. As ever, at the heart this is about human relationships. As humans we like hierarchy, but we also like to feel that our leaders listen to our opinions. I haven’t got a clue what has happened but our position is too good for AK to walk away from. Eleven to go and second with games in hand? This is about more than a training ground flare up. This is deep rooted.

    I work as a leader in education. Let me tell you, I have to suck up a lot of (unpleasantness). All leaders do. Leadership is a complex mix between what you want (the vision) and what you can get (the reality). Looking at Boro’s position it feels like the vision and reality are almost aligned. Sure results have been rocky recently, but that is when the manager (the leader) is most called on. This is AK’s time. This is his moment. The pressure is on, the doubters are crowing, the players are stuttering. Now is the time for him to get a grip of the situation. For him to get in the ears of the main men to motivate, cajole and enthuse.

    So why are we hearing that he has had a difficult meeting and stormed off in a huff?

    Seriously? Stormed off saying I don’t want to manage you any more? What sort of set up is this?

    I don’t know where to begin with my feelings about it all. There are 11 games to go with glory easily within reach. Relationships can be repaired, anger can be vented. Leaders need to suck up the (unpleasantness) and lead, not storm off in a huff. This is serious. There are a lot of people who really care about this stuff. Those that have fallen out need to get in a room and sort it out. Then make up. Then get out on the pitch and aim that emotion onto opponents rather than each other.

    If AK leaves now he will do so under a huge cloud. He will create real doubt in the minds of future employers too. “He did well at Boro until the pressure was on, then he stormed off and flicked the v’s at everyone.”

    I hope the horse hasn’t bolted. I hope those that need to can make friends. I hope this won’t stop us getting promoted.

    I so hope we beat Charlton. UTB.

  26. Spartak

    There is no spin in what I have written, I expressly said I didn’t want to appear to pick on Clayton who from what I have seen and read appears a great bloke. I can only use examples I know of. The only twitter I read is on this blog.

    I am not defending Aitor, far from it, I have questioned his tactics often enough. What I have never done is post views on players or staff based on supposition. I have never appointed blame on any party.

    Go back and read my posts over all the years of this blog.

    A line has been drawn in the Redcar sands. Go up and the players have some evidence on their side. Don’t go up and the reverse is true.

    If we didn’t go up under Aitor then he would get the flak along with the players. Having been so far clear, the form since has been poor, Aitor has complained about the players, the players have a had a revolt, then if we don’t go up without Aitor then the players have to stand up.

    If we go up it will have been a good squad built up by Aitor but the players saw it through. Praise the players.

    Forget everyone else in the club. That is emminent common sense, the players have to put their performances where their revolt is.

    I am looking for the best squad in the league to get us up. Managers and players are temporary, fans and Boro are permanent. The table never lies.

  27. Besides the ongoing investigation and summarising of findings and conclusions there is perhaps the slim possibility that some sort of emotional meltdown has occurred for reasons connected or unconnected (or partly both) with the club which is why things have been left on simmer.

    An understanding employer would factor in that if say Great Aunt Agatha who raised young Kratchitt from when he was knee high to a grasshopper had passed away after a long, protracted and painful illness this week then rationality is understandably blurred and insignificant to real time events. Proud men hide their feelings, problems and emotions until something just pricks their balloon usually. I am sure we can all think of a long list of other events which could cause a certain level of irrationality in day to day life.

    If such an event was in part a reason for unrecognised behaviour then there is a high degree of understanding which needs to be factored in. That may explain the limbo period and also why tomorrow’s game is considered by the Club to be unimportant in the scheme of things to AK and also perhaps why he would have been told this morning to go home.

    No doubt there will be more developments and they may not necessarily mean that AK has left the Riverside just yet. Conversely of course it may have been one of the players that was struggling to come to terms with something and AK happened to be the pin to prick the players balloon unwittingly and then all hell was unleashed with all sorts of pent up angsts, frustrations and trivia hurled back and forth and possibly backed up by sympathetic team mates.

    That may explain how something needs a little more time and talking through to allow for apologies, misunderstandings, anger and emotions to settle.

  28. Just a thought. If the plan is to bring AK back after the game then it may make a big difference to the team Steve Agnew puts out.

    If he feels he’s got full autonomy he might be quite revolutionary with the line ups and tactics. If, on the other hand, he knows AK may be back next week he may feel he has to stick to the template. Will be interesting to see how he does line the boro up. That in itself might tell us a lot.

  29. A very good point, Paul. Will Agnew make significant team changes or even change the formation (but maybe too soon for that).

    But how often do we hear of a manager not taking the team and then coming back later (unless he’s ill)? How much authority could he have after himself walking out, and leaving everyone else to get on with it, and Agnew to do all the training this week.

    If a player lets the team down by not doing his job – for example allowing Frecklington a free run into the box to score the winner – no-one expects the manager to give him a kiss and cuddle afterwards. But if mistakes are consistently met with a harsh reaction, tensions will build up. You can’t go on time after time hammering the same people because eventually someone will snap and answer back.

    After the bitter disappointment last year, we are ripe for high levels of frustration and disappointment after games like Rotherham, and the inconsistency has meant that the ‘sickening’ moments – a word AV has used – have happened too often. It looks like it has all become too much after AK said that the players don’t have enough desire (remember Phil T has specifically said that’s an unfair comment).

    In the end it depends how many players are unhappy enough to not want AK back. It isn’t as if the players have run a campaign to leak rumours about being badly managed, or have not been trying in order to undermine AK, I don’t think it sounds like a player revolt, it sounds like AK felt he wasn’t happy with the team and how they were responding to his methods. He himself decided to leave the meeting, rather than send out one or two players if that’s all it was challenging him.

    As for managing things from the heirarchy, we generally react badly when we hear that the owner is interfering in the dressing room. Did anyone up top even know that things were anywhere near this bad before the last few days? I’m sure AK has been given the authority to manage and to deal with odd player unhappiness – the Albert transfer request for example – but now it’s suddenly emerged that a lot of players must be unhappy, or why didn’t they shout down a few malcontnets, why did AK end up being the one who stopped taking training and walked out of the meeting?

    I’m looking at negatives here – it hasn’t escaped my notice that we are still in a very strong league position. We seem to do better the days we don’t play… A bit of calm, common sense management might just steady the ship.

  30. There are more rumours than facts now. Let’s concentrate on the match today. I hope NGUB enjoys the match and we get a good result.

    I admit that this could be the end for AK. But I really liked him and the results.

    But I wonder if we know all. Knowing that AK thinks about football 24/7, it could also be a situation that he needs rest. I know you Englishmen are a bit (!) traditional especilly anything about football. But this could be just that the boss needs a rest. A bit of burn-out, perhaps.

    I know there are many who thinks that a football manager can never be tired or in need of help. I remember how Robbo’s help in Venebles was seen as an end.

    But in modern organisation it is different. But of course I could be wrong and there is something totally wrong. It all depends if he has lost the believe of the players.

    So all we can do is wait. I know I hope AK to continue. But as said it depends on the players and his relationship with them. Is it damaged or not.

    I hope to see a 0-3 win today. We need to get promoted this season. Up the Boro!

  31. Jarkko

    It is difficult to see how Aitor could come back to manage the team but that is only based on what we hear..

    Intriguing that AV tweeted yesterday morning that had he and Phil missed something? As events unfolded during yesterday we became well aware that the Gazette knew of the situation through Friday, possibly throughout the week.

    Does the Gazette stand accused of a Pravda style cover up or not wanting to inflame the situation any further and wait to report in a more balanced way.

    I will go for the latter.

    I believe we have a football match later, I wonder what Agnew will do?

    I think he will go for 4231 as that is what the players have been drilled in. The interesting questions surround the likes of Ayala, Rhodes and Downing.

    A fit again Dani would raise some eyebrows! Cant see it happening.

    My front four? Rhodes up top backed by Adomah, Gaston and Stewie.

    The holding midfielders? You can see Grant coming back to reintroduce snarling in the midfield but who would partner him? Either Clayts or Forshaw missing out would seem harsh.

    Clayton and Forshaw is my preference but I think we will return to our normal pairing.

    Three of the back four would appear to be Nsue, Gibbo and George. Who partners Gibbo? Fry, Kalas, De Laet or Lazarus?

    Come on Boro, three points puts Hull and Brighton under real pressure.

    **AV writes: As you can see from the way we cover transfer windows, we never just chase the gossip or regurgitate rumours and twitter tattle. We check and report facts.

  32. My tip is that we will play with , Nsue, Gibbo, George and Fry at the back. Then Clayton Forshaw Downing Ramirez Adomah Rhodes. It will be a routine 3-0 win Rhodes getting on the score sheet along with Adomah and Forshaw.

  33. I suspect whilst the situation is still in the air with reconciliation still one possible outcome then Agnew will probably continue with 4-2-3-1 (or 4-4-1-1 as an acceptable variation).

    He will probably not risk publicly trashing Karanka’s methodology and burning all bridges – unless of course he sees this as an opportunity to stake his claim to the Number One role.

    Likewise, if Downing is central to the bust up then he should also be rested as he’ll probably not be 100% focused and it will again give the impression that Karanka has unfairly treated him lately by placing him on the bench – In some ways I agree with AK that Stewie hasn’t brought his A-game onto the pitch often enough to make him untouchable.

    Despite the rumours of unrest in the camp over several weeks it is surprising that Adomah is now back to his very best – so no sign of a split with AK for him. Also Rhodes has had his opportunity to shine but has been unusually profligate in front of goal – but my view is he’s still getting into the right positions and perhaps he feels under pressure to score to keep his place.

    I think today could go either way depending on how the players react to this week – I hope they see it as a chance to prove something – I wonder if any goal celebrations will reach out to Karanka and lead to an amicable resolution tomorrow? Will they be hastily printing Paulista Park’s old Gravitar onto T-shirts (I [heart] AK)?

  34. So much for the Gazette having their fingers on the pulse on all things Boro, and even when quotes are available they doff their caps to the national press and delay publication.

    To outsiders it must look like running a club as a shambles is a NE thing.

    If as is looks likely that the Managers position has become untenable, then he should be closely followed out of the club by the poisonous apples that engineered this sorry state of affairs.

    If that results in a failed season, then so be it.

    **AV writes: There are quotes available? From the club?

  35. We are jumping to conclusions if we think there are any poisonous apples. Have rumours been leaked by players to the media? Have agents spoken out? Have people gone to Gibbo to complain? Have any players obviously lacked desire or effort? The usual signs of player revolt don’t seem to be there.

    I for one am very interested to hear AV’s take on what has happened – let’s see what his analysis is.

    But surely there is no way back for AK. We may simply be witnessing manoeuvres to position themselves between AK and the Boro heirarchy as to is it a resignation or a sacking – remember there will be a big payout if AK waits to be sacked, but AK hasn’t struck me as that sort of man.

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