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Boro Batter Sven's Men

By Anthony Vickers on May 11, 08 11:04 PM

AS FAR as 'papering over the cracks' goes, you can't do better than that. An 8-1 hammering at home will certainly send the supporters home smiling, even it is only in bemused disbelief at the on-going perversity of a side that has averaged less than a goal a game at home signing off with an avalanche of net-busting action to send the anoraks rifling through the record books.

Yes, it was against ten men. Yes, it was against a crisis club with a manager and board at loggerheads and the fans in open revolt. And yes, it was the last day when there was nothing to play for and with no pressure on. Who cares! It was a glorious goal glut the memory of which will be handed down in Teesside folklore for generations, with each and every strike getting better with every telling. It offered sublime skills, magical movement, a string of sizzling goals - and it offered hope that next year can be far more rewarding than this.

It was all nicely set up: City arrived divided and distracted and with a UEFA Cup Fairplay lucky losers wildcard at stake they were not likely to be looking to mix it. Rocky crunching Benjani after just five minutes and Luke Young's version of the Nutcracker Suite played out on Petrov's undercrackers not long after probably mentally swung the game Boro's way. Richard Dunne walking on 20 minutes for some stupid minimal contact almost certainly sealed it. The red card and the uproar at the end among the fans may even see City's Fairplay backdoor slammed.

The City fans had been brilliant all game - noisy, funny, passionate and essentially good natured - so the scenes at the end were shocking and totally out of kilter with the tone of the day. There is no excusing seats being ripped up and thrown, boozed up XXXL semi-retired terrace warriors wobbling down from the back row to join the scrum, fat lads in Hawaiian shirts grappling with police and the sight of grown men in six foot comedy banana costumes throwing punches in an outbreak of hand-to-hand Fyfeing have no place in the game.

But, remember, it is only a couple of weeks ago that Boro fans were on the wrong end of some indiscriminate heavy-handed tactics at Sunmderland that sparked similar scenes that were widely condemned by Boro fans and the media. We all know that when it comes to policing fans all too often the first instinct is to go route one.

Whatever is said about the City fans now it should also be mentioned that their eighties retro Imre Varadi inflatable tribute and some lively chanting helped raise what could have been a very flat last day atmosphere. The chant to the tune of Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick In The Wall' ("We don't need no Phil Scolari, We don't need Mourinho, Hey! Thaksin! Leave Our Sven alone!") is sheer genius. To be fair, Boro's response whenever Sven appeared in the technical area - "sacked In the morning, you're getting sacked in the morning" - was very funny too.

Some stats and facts:

Biggest win at Riverside ever

Biggest Premier League win since 1999 (Man U 9 Ipswich 0)

First time scored eight since a home win over Sheff Wed in 1973-74

First time scored eight in top flight since an 8-0 home win in 1950 v Huddersfield

Alves hat-trick was the first since Hasselbaink away at Blackburn.

And the first at the Riverside since Branca in a 6-0 v Swindon in 1998.

It was the first hat-trick at Riverside in top flight since Ravanelli v Derby in 1997.

First time this season Boro have scored three goals - avoiding an unwanted record of being the first season EVER the club have failed to score that many goals even once.

What is it with the Riverside micro-climate? It was tropical when I set off from Acklam at 1.45pm. I'd naively slapped on the factor 15 and brought my shades and given the shirt-sleeve order of the fans mooching outside listening to the band by the Ayresome Gates, everyone else had been bussed in from sunnier climes too. Yet as soon as we walked in the ground the temperature dropped, the wind chill factor kicked in and at one point in the second half as the mist started to creep over the East Stand roof I thought we were set for a repeat of the night at Ayresome park when a match against City was played out in eerie muffled foggy mystery. Brrrr.

The enigma of Fabio Rochemback is deepened. A brilliant display of hard work, incisive passing and excellent assists topped off with a sizzling free-kick fit to grace any stage. Now he does it! Just when everyone is resigned to him zipping off back to Sporting. By taxi, naturally. It has probably come to late to rehabilitate him though. There have been far too many poor, frustrating performances of sloppy distribution, over-elaborate and wasteful fancy-Dannery and costly cheap free-kicks conceded in dangerous areas. But if he goes at least he goes with a bang.

Likewise George. Another sterling display from one of Boro's great servants. Great industry, some sublime passing and - as usual - a moment of totally unorthodox control, this time a flying ninja touch of mid-air kung-fu high kicking in which the Boat sprung eight foot in the air, twisted and extended a leg out behind him to pluck a high ball down in a move that defied gravity. And defied logic too as it was going harmlessly out for a Boro throw.

If he leaves - and I for one hope he doesn't as he clearly has another year in him as a squad player before leaving for Feyenoord on a lucrative Bosman - it will be those moments (dropping to his knees at Arsenal to chest down a low ball that he could easily have stayed upright and controlled calmly with his feet was another) and his forthright microphone style that will be missed most.

Finally the parade.... kid watch report.... Mark Schwarzer and Boateng saluted the crowd with nippers in tow, which as we know is always a sure sign that the getaway car is revved up by the exit door. Worryingly, the boss had his kids out there too and Emanuel Pogatetz was also accompanied by a child - gulp! - although with the Mad Dog there's always a possibility that the ankle-biter was just a high carb, raw meat post-match snack.

****

BORO LEGEND Frankie "Bam Bam" Boynton made his return to the Riverside after a long illness. The Bam, a vocal, colourful and highly visible character who has kissed and cuddled every individual who has ever stood on the Holgate, died for eight minutes, was in a coma for two weeks and then was nursed back to health deep in enemy territory in Newcastle. He has missed most of the season while convalescing but was back to see the hammering. It will be a great tonic. Welcome back Bam!

164 Comments

Redcar Red said:

Its so obvious that Man City rolled over in protest of the likely departure of Sven Goran Eriksson.

This result was a protest against Thaksin Wotsisname by the City players so too much should not be read into this freak result.

Malc said:

A lot of you spoke to soon. Foolish. Roll on next year

Jordan said:

I can't believe it. Todays result was immense. I feel proud to be a Boro fan today and just a bit gutted its overshadowed by the relegation battles and of course the title race.

I didn't go to the game as I'm at Lancaster Uni and I had an essay in so a bit gutted I didnt go. I wish I had.

Ian Gill said:

Well, what about that. Serves me right for missing the match.

God knows what BBC will do with our match when they have title, relegation and UEFA qualifting issues to be resolved.

Could this be the first nine goal match to get no air time whatsoever?

rick said:

What spoilt the game for me is that Citeh were obviously not trying at all, for whatever reason. Its like they wanted the Boro to win. They should be collectively ashamed.

James said:

Sweet Jesus!

I don't care about the poor season. I don't care if Man City didn't care today. I don't care about misfiring strikers and underperforming players. I don't care about any of that.

The fact is, today we scored 8 goals. 8 GOALS! Oh my god. I'm going to get hammered and sing a lot. Wahey!!!!!

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

KEEP ROCKEMBACK!

I have been saying it before his wondergoal and Brazilian display against city. He finally got the freedom to come forward today and what problems he caused, he can play the holding role too and is Alves's mate, and one of the few who still tried to the end against Cardiff.

I am not saying dont buy better midfielders to add to the squad but I think with the right partnership in midfield he is a good player to have in your squad.

Our squad is too thin to start off with and Rocky should not be sacrificed as we dont know who wants to join us in our bid to stay mid table again.

Keep Riggot too.

As for the Sunderland fans who were on here braggin after they sneaked another late goal against us t'other week, Look at the table - Nufsed!

DAVE CONNOR said:

What a way to finish a season BRILLIANT no need to say nothing to play for, it is hard enough to score goals in the premiership, so give credit where it is due. WELL DONE.

The match was not on here in Kazakhstan, however, I waited eagerly for the report on BBC WORLD SERVICE TV "FINAL SCORE" and guess what only the score given in the results not even a mention given by the commentators.

Just what have the BORO got to do to get a little credit. I dont know what was on MATCH OF THE DAY but no doubt 9 goals were put into two minutes.

All the best for next season, and AV I will still read and comment during the close season. THANK YOU for good reading for all of us expats so far away

Dave Taylor said:

What a game though I do believe that City's heart was not in it. That does not take away the quality of the goals. Great to watch and also put to bed a few memories from a couple of months ago.

Allan from Bahrain said:

It was the new strip, we should have had the white stripe all season. everytime we come back to it we do well.

tonyblack said:

"Yes, it was against ten men. Yes, it was against a crisis club with manager and board at loggerheads and the fans in open revolt. And yes, it was the last day when there was nothing to play for and with no pressure on. Who cares! It was a glorious goal glut the memory of which will be handed down in Teesside folklore for generations, with each and every strike getting better with every telling."

100% Spot on. Couldn't agree more AV! Fantastic end to the season which will hopefully continue into next.

Eight goals merits only an utterly positive post.

Well done all. Job's a good'un!

TB

Harry Basset said:

I enjoyed the match and result, no problems at all with that side of things. I am concerned that there are some members of Cleveland police who welcome a chance to wade in against anyone who attends a match.

The way the police dealt with a young lad earlier in the season is still under investigation, I hope yesterdays incident will be thoroughly investigated too.

Ian Gill said:

Whilst Citeh's minds appeared elsewhere we should bear in mind

1. Their captain and inspiration was sent off after 16 mins. Some may have thought it harsh but the ref had little choice, Dunne caught Tuncays heels when he was clear through on goal. Intent isnt an issue and you could see the ref was apologetic as he sent him off, apart from the fact we got a penalty I am sure even our players felt sorry for him but he had to go.

2. As the organiser of their defence that then left them open to attacks through the middle, something we did ruthlessly.

3. The floodgates didnt open until nearly an hour gone after Stewie's superb volley, after that there wasnt much they could do to stem the tide.

4. They also suffered a deflection and a wonder free kick, things that happen once your luck is out.

5. Footballers have pride and the Citeh players wouldnt want to be thrashed, they would want Sven to go out on a high not like this letting him, the fans and themselves down.

As other posters have mentioned scoring 8 goals doesnt happen every week, there are legions of stories of brave rearguard actions by ten men, where teams with nothing to play for seem inspired with little fear.

Whilst this may be a bit of a fluke lets enjoy it. A great way to end a poor season, and the white band is back. Even the BBC didnt put us on at 11.58, OK the programme finished at 11.50 but there were matches after us and we did get our own mini segment.

Nigel said:

Fantastic result and a great way to end a season that is best forgotten. Having scored eight goals we now have the best home scoring record in the bottom half of the table!! Ironic or what.

A great way to sign off for the summer.

Martin Wilson said:

The reaction of their goalkeeper at the end of the game showed at least one of them cared, he threw his shirt and gloves onto the pitch and walked off in disgust...possibly because of the failure of getting into Europe with the red card. A great display from the Boro.

geoff delaney said:

As a non fan I just have to say my life in wolverhampton ( living next to the Moleneux!) is going to be a joy now wearing my Boro shirt.

Oh! deep joy :-)

Ian Gill said:

PS The result still doesnt hide the problems that need addressing but we can still enjoy it.

Jaguar Boy said:

What a wonderful way for some of Boro's long standing players to sign off what could be their last games for us. Thank you to Schwartz, Boateng and Rocky (and possibly Arca too.)

And to those who suggest we should keep these players - if they were capable of playing like that every week, we would be keeping them, and thy all have had more than enough time to prove that they could.

I would love to see them stay on but I think that wage expense would mean that Boro couldn't afford the level of replacements needed.

Besides, I don't think any of them would be happy to stay and play a bit part - George in particular has made this very clear in the press, and maybe Rocky will have the time on the ball to show his abilities shine through more playing in a league where the opposition don't pressure you so much.

It will be an interesting summer, now lets hope we can sign players BEFORE the European Cup, when their prices double.

More performances like this next year please, and I'm looking forward to reading all the hot gossip in this column during the close season

(P.S. - A.V. I'm sorry to point this out but Man City did actually score against us, rather than the 8-0 you suggest above, although it was easily missed in all the excitement!)

**AV writes: D'oh! I was too busy watching men dressed as giant bananas wrestling with police dogs by that point.

bradinho said:

Excellent I was hard at work in Manchester yesterday....enough said !!!

AV I think that due to excitement, disbelief and sheer joy I will forgive all the typos in this piece !

**AV writes: yes, once we got past two it was all a strange and confusing environment.

Nigel said:

The last time Boro scored eight, they were wearing the white band, the following season they finished seventh in the top division, i'll take some of that!!

Never Happy said:

Well done Boro for finishing the season with a bang.

Good to see GS saying that the performance will not 'paper over the cracks' from last season.

Big changes need to be made

A new keeper

A new LB

A new CB, rumours about Huth leaving, will Riggott stay?

At least 2 midfielders, will O'Neill grow up and accept that home is a short plane ride away, Rocky and the Boat on they way out.

A new striker, possibly 2 if the pie man leaves.

New players need to be bought and in the squad for preseason. Please GS and Mr Lamb short out who is leaving and don't make holidays and the Euro's an excuse for not being able to sign new players.

With our worldwide scouting network that was introduced last summer the transfer targets should already have been identified and signed ASAP

C'Mon Boro!

Redcar Red said:

Superb performance, at the end of the bday you can only beat what's in front of you and Boro did it with style and some to spare.

Just shows the power of the white band!

note to AV: we appear to have 2 Redcar Red's on the board now...........don't know who the mischievous copy cat is above?

**AV writes: We do indeed. Th eother has a different e-mail address but there is nothing to suggest it is a malicious cloning or attempt to besmirch your good name.

Unfortunately the current software doesn't prevent multiple uses of the same ID - we have several Neils, a trio of Daves and a couple of Richards - but I will look out for it in future to avoid confusion.

Maybe you could rebrand as "the Real" or "Classic" Redcar Red to denote your prior claims to the name?

John Stone said:

Man City.

As good as it gets !

Some stunning goals.

If Alves gets the ball to his feet,he will get the goals.

Extend the "Boats" contract by another year so he will be with us for another two.

Rocky is the real "enigma - on his day atop class midfielder but can he be bothered enough ? Very few of his type around I would chance it and take up his 2 year option.

Tuncay,is proving to be top class and Alladiere gives you something different.

No need to sign any defenders, keeping Riggott is a must .

I would offer Scwharzer 2 more years,yes he has his moments but good keepers are like "Hens Teeth".

We need two top class midfielders and another goalscoring striker.

I would sacrifice Mido,Huth and Arca, all saleable. First two are rarely fit and Arca has never been the same since his injury against Sunderland

But,what do I know ? at least I,ll have the memories of yesterday !

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Match of the day- *8-1 and we hardly got any coverage apart from the goals and Lineker sayin it was 1999 when Newcastle did it last [ wink at Shearer who scored 5]

If it was Arsenal then it would have been analysed for half an hour!

BBC RUBBISH!!!!

Shaun Wilson said:

Yes we know Man City had other things on their mind, but it was nice to see us keep our foot on the pedal for the full 90 minutes. No thought of easing off and showing mercy, especially with the likes of Alves chasing his hat-trick.

Nice stats by the way Vic, the 8th goal was also the 500th Boro goal to be scored at The Riverside.

Also I have to make reference to the 'hand-to-hand fyfeing' quote! Very good!

Heres to next season!

**AV writes: Also, did some number-cruncher say that Alves' third was the 1,000th Premier League goal of the season?

Ian Gill said:

Ignorant

I think the BBC were reasonably fair, we had our own little slot with a summary rather than being tagged on as 'our last two matches are...'

The BBC were right to focus on the title and relegation issues as those were the main topics of the day. We got the same treatment as Everton who were going for the UEFA cup.

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

No Way Gilly !

I want the Beeb to cut to Samba style festivities every time Alves scores.

Downings Volley was a peach and Rockembacks free kick rivals Ronaldo's one. What about Alliadierres 'No Look' pass for Alves's third. Weeeeee !!

Keep off the Earl Grey Gilly and get a couple of cans of Tizer down ye and stop siding with the Beeb!

Like every team scores 8 in one game regular like!

I have mates who like Man U , Arse and Chelsea and they always take rise about Boro . Well the 8-1 is ammo for me now and I will not shut up.

White band magic !

PS. keep Riggot

BoroPhil said:

Outstanding. Forget the motivation of the opposition, to put eight past another team at this level is a fantastic achievment, especially as the quality of most of
the goals was so good.

Despite our relative lack of goals this season, we have been treated to some crackers. I've been saying all season that one day everything would click, all our chances would fly in, and we'd hammer someone. Shame it took until the 38th game!

Rochemback showed how good he is with a bit more time on the ball - despite his inconsistency, he has had a good season overall and I'd sign him on without a second
thought if he wants to stay.

The thought of Tuncay and Alves next season is mouthwatering. Aliadiere and Mido as back-up/rotational strikers looks strong. Downing can only get better. O'Neil has a summer to settle in. Even Arca played a lot better yesterday than he has done recently. The defence looks strong, though it looks like we will need a new keeper.

Massive changes or an overhaul is not necessary. A little bit of tinkering to the midfield perhaps, and we have a top 10 squad there for next season, no doubt about it.

Roll on August!

steve said:

AV - good stuff! Only last top flight Riverside hat trick was actually in 1997 - same player (super Rav) but in a 6-1 demolition of Derby County ;o)

malc said:

Mad dogs meal of his kids you say is high carb, you mean high protein. Another typo but on magic goal day who cares!

**AV writes: It depends if he sticks them in a sarnie or two.

Never Happy said:

AV when are you going to start a rumours, who been spotted at the airport or tontine link?

A few that are flying round at the moment are:

Schwarzer to a CL club.
Huth to Ajax.
O'Neill to Fulham.
Boateng to Celtic.
Rocky to Sporting Lisbon.
Jonno to Spurs.
Cattermole to Wigan.

C'Mon Boro!

Nigel said:

I too hope that The Boat stays for another year, he's definitley a good squad player, but I guess he'll want a guarantee of first team football, so maybe holland beckons. Thank you and good luck to him if he goes. He has been a star for us no question.

As for Rocky, I've said many times I like his style, but I've got to agree with AV he hasn't done it often enough. So it probably suits both parties for him to move on now.
I
'd be happy for Schwarzer to stay for another year, he's sound enough. Someone mentioned a rumour of Huth leaving, where would he go, 'The Emergency Ward 10 crocks 11?!'

I can't see Mido going either, he's worth a lot less than he was a year ago, we've got to hope he is fit come August and has the mental strength to challenge Alves.

I'd like to see two new midfield players, three if O'Neil goes.
That should give us a good enough squad for a top ten finish next year.

Chris L said:

I drove 280 miles return (on my own) to sit and watch a meaningless end of season game in cold weather at the Riverside - Great Decision!!

Stewart Downing's volley made the journey worthwhile on its own.

jc said:

Ian - you're right that MoTD gave us a fair slot and showed a reasonable bit of the match, but then they always show all the goals so they had to set a few minutes aside at least!

But Ignorant is right after that - they spent two minutes debating Sven's future and 10 seconds to tell us how Newcastle fared nine years ago.

They just can't bring themselves to get the least bit enthusiastic about the Boro. Remember the montage they did at the start of the 06/07 season? Twenty minutes showing all the salient points of the previous season, not a single mention of Boro's UEFA Cup campaign.

In fact, the only mention of Boro at all was of McClaren getting the England job.

But, it doesn't lessen the joy! Just wish I knew some City fans! (Then again...)

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

I would put Rochemback's thunderbolt and Downing's volley in for goal of the season together with the two previous goal of the months we had .- Tuncay volley from Downing assist [ volley ] v Derby and Luke Young's Rocket from a mile out. Gerrin !

Elano's goals for city against us have been superb too- buy him!

Ian Gill said:

Iggy of borolandy

I take it all back, I dont know which was the greater shock. Boro scoring eight or appearing before 11.58.

I still think that with the issues I mentioned earlier and even Sven we did as well as could be expected. The summarisers even paid Gate some compliments.

Nick Hill said:

I have been a fan of Rocky's and im glad he finally hit a 35yarder into the top corner. It had to happen sometime, lord knows hes had enough practise at it.

I think many fans do him a disservice and overall he has had a good season. Anthony, even yourself has praised rocky many times this season and I feel that only because of a really poor game against Cardiff and then the next few games on the bench that many fans have now decided he suddenly is a bad player.

He is a really good passer of the ball and can really pick out a through ball, people criticise him for trying stupid things and losing the ball but he is on the ball so much that not every pass can work out, he always goes looking for it and trying to make things happen.

Technically he is probably our best centre midfielder and its a shame we get rid of players like him whilst keeping players like Cattermole who quite frankly other than doing a few bone crunching tackles looks out of his depth.

stockton red said:

Tend to agree with you Nick Hill about Rocky.It seems to me to be incredibly poor business to let a player leave for nothing when at 26 and at his peak he clearly has a transfer value.

He is a lot better than Arca and as much as I love Cattermole for his commitment technically he is not fit to tie rocky's boots.

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Nick Hill ,your comments on Rocky are spot on and I see that he enjoys playing on the same team as his old mate Alves as they are from the same country.

Alves spoke to Rocky before coming to the club and Rocky has helped him settle in too so there are other reasons to keep him aside from his form , which I think is a good enough reason on its own.

Anyone slating him is out of order and blind. What , oh yeh thats right Rockys rubbish as we are gonna sign Lampard and Gerrard to sort out the midfield. Not every player wants to come to Boro as we are not top 4.

So many of our own fans are down on our own players. I think the midfield has been unbalanced for most of the season and that is Southgates fault.

Gilly, its not you mate , its the Beeb, until we get Juninho and Pamela Anderson on the panel of match of the day there will no truth.

Jarkko said:

What a result against City!

The current Boro team are one of the most exciting ever. We all know we might need a new midfielder or two, etc. But remember all the injuries we have had - the season was not easy.

We had far too thin squad - especially the strike force was light when the season started. Now it's corrected - Alves and Tuncay have proved themselves.

The team are still very young and lack on numbers if the injuries come. Most of the players will be vastly better next season and a year older. Perhaps this will give some needed consistency.

Be patient - I really think the Boro are on the right track to be top 10 team soon.

Up the Boro!

International Man of Mystery said:

It was a very good game and I'm pleased that Boro won 8-1. It had much to commend it. It was a very cold afternoon, but I was warm inside.

Other than brevity (or lack of it) was it something I said (or didn't)?

**AV writes: ?

peterboroangel said:

Southgate asked to finish on a high and that's what they did. Credit for that.

I was at Eton Rowing College yesterday watching my son win a gold and silver medal. Apart from during his races he wore his Boro cap - before, during and after the game.

We were proud of his performance yesterday, but could also hold our heads up high because we are Boro fans.

A great day!

Clive Hurren said:

Typical Boro! We have 15 shots on target but can only score 8 of them! Story of the season, really!!

Brilliant. Stunning football. Stunning goals. Delirium! Rochemback outstanding. Everybody else fantastic. Driving back to Lancashire past all the City coaches was a joy - the poor lad who stuck two fingers up at me got 8 in return, and his face was a picture!

And now, please, can the boo boys finally lay off criticising Stewy? He's been simply brilliant all season. I'll take that volley to heaven with me.

Eccy said:

After witnessing the chastening defeat at the hands of City earlier this season, I said to my Scottish City friend - "Some team is going to pay a heavy price for all the chances we're missing just now."

Looks like I was right......eventually!

You weren't wrong when you called this team perverse AV.

I would describe that game as a goal ejaculation, after an incredibly frustrating marathon of tantric-like fumblings, but that's probably a bit rude.

Neil (USA) said:

Great win. My best mate is a Citeh fan, so I shot him a quick e-mail after the game...

Alves...6 goals in as many matches. I don't think he's been 100%, but the guy knows where the back of the net is.

"International Man of Mystery"...you make Ibby from oldham look coherent!

brian b said:

'Worryingly, the boss had his kids out there too and Emanuel Pogatetz was also accompanied by a child - gulp! - '

Please let these be true - rid us of a manager who will never hack it & lose a trier - nothing more.

Winning a practice match against 10 men means nothing .

Ian Gill said:

Good to hear plaudits for Rocky, he is a talented player.

In some ways he reminds me of Carrick, not in the way he plays but his effect on the team. Carrick is at his best when ManU are on the front foot so he can pick his passes in the opposition half. Rocky is the same, when we are on the front foot he is a destructive passer of the ball.

That is because his clever passes and flicks are on the edge of their box. John Powls coined the phrase the Tippy Tappy Twins for Rocky and Arca for their tendency to be clever in the wrong areas of the pitch. That started within 25 minutes of them being on the pitch together in the infamous 3-2 defeat at Reading.

So how do we get the best out of him. A younger Boat with better distribution would be ideal along with a right footed Downing plus playing further up the pitch.

We are clearly lacking in pace in midfield without O'Neill. Boat, Tippy and Tappy are a poor combination from that viewpoint. Two out of three in central midfield creates the same problem.

The problem may well be out of our hands anyway as most seem to think he is off to Portugal, I would rather see Arca off to the mackems but Gate seems to rate him highly so there we are.

Cunners said:

Sorry to put a dampener on things...

Anybody else slightly worried at Tuncay storming down the tunnel after he was subbed, ignoring GS? He was pretty much a spectator to the parade, walking around the outside on his own, didn't look part of the team, or like he wanted to be.

**AV writes: I saw what looked like a very warm and genuine hug between Tuncay and the gaffer while they were waiting for the bobbies to quell the feared Citeh banana crew.

BLT said:

Well the whingers have had their say. Ten men. Exhibition game. City rolled over. Meaningless end of season match...blah blah blah. The same people would be going mental if Boro lost the same 'meaningless' game and using it as a stick to beat the club.

It is easy to say that City were downbeat because Sven was leaving and they didn't care but you could just as easy say he wanted to sign off with a win to stick two fingers up at Thaksin and the players needed to impress their new boss who was no doubt watching.

Ten men? We all know it is "harder to play against ten men". And this is a full strength City side higher in the Prem league than us and that the likes of TB have been telling us all year are light years ahead of us. It wasn't Derby. We still had to beat them.

Why can't people just admit that Boro played well? Every goal was well worked and would have still been excellent against 11 men. Even the penalty was a brilliant ball over the top from Riggs and a neat chest down by Tuncay.

Sometimes I despair when I hear so called "fans" who can't take a bit of pleasure in an eight goal win with brilliant play and a good atmosphere.


David Morrison said:

ROCHEMBACK IN PORTUGAL TO SIGN FOR SPORTING!!!

I'm happy that he is going, a good player on his day but far to many times games pass him by and he dosnt get the space he needs to have an influence.

Lots of clubs look like they are splashing the cash early this summer. Lets hope Boro have ready made replacements for the departing players and we aren't scrambling around on the last day of the transfer window.

I want to see 4-5 quality players coming in during the summer - 2-3 midfielders with pace and energy plus a utility player at the back and possibly a striker if the pie man doesnt come back fit and thin.

I cant think of any premier league players i would take that would be available, certainly not from the relegated clubs and the teams below us arnt exactly blessed with great players. i think the nucleus of the squad is good and with better players in there it will be a lot stronger than this season...

COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Never Happy said:

BLT - this board would not be a 'Boro board' without the whingers.

If we finshed 2nd in the PL the whingers would complain because we did not win it.

Carling Cup - should have been the FA Cup

FA Cup - The big four did not try

UEFA Cup - well its not the CL

CL - well that might please them all, then again?

C'Mon Boro!

John Powls said:

BLT

You are absolutely right. Everyone should take pleasure in the win, the performance and the atmosphere (leaving aside a few Manc disgraces) from the Citeh game.

Put it together with getting over the safety line against Pompey the previous week and you also have something worth having - a good finish to the season gone which helps prepare for next pre-season and the new kick off in August.

What we also need, amongst the understandable euphoria, is what Gate said in his Gazette article yesterday, what AV refers to above and what some above have forgotten - some perspective.

On the 38 game season perspective that those 2 games completed the win on Saturday was an unexpected, beautiful, joyous, thrilling and very welcome anomaly.

I wouldn't agree that any match is meaningless, particularly at the end of a season like we've had and at home where fans have more often been tortured than pampered.

But, to paraphrase AV it mustn't be used to try to paper over cracks that are more grand canyon than anything you'd tackle with polyfilla.

And as Gate said - and I hope he repeated in the session he had with the team - we all need to keep our feet on the ground after the unaccustomed feeling of floating on air!

The real and difficult issues need to be addressed and some of what needs doing requires radical action in the squad, where we need a new first choice goalkeeper, a rebuilt centre and right midfield and possibly a new striker - for starters and off the field.

There Gate needs a new assistant to replace Crosby (who? Precisely) who has complementary man management skills and can coach attacking play.

Together, they need to put in place the style of play and the discpline and motivation of the squad that Gate wants - without the near-fatal compromises he says he has resorted to in the season just gone.

Also, he needs to sweep away the fitness and conditioning coaching and injury treatment regime at Hurworth and replace with a group who can actually use the tools and facility that Gibbo provided properly.

If we get those changes then - on the back of the way we finished the season - I'll be more optimistic that we can have a season of progression rather than transition (again!!) next season.

None of us (well, most of us who don't sniff the foam hand) are unrealistic about our prospects.

But we should be able to look to a season without undue relegation worries, a finish in the lower reaches of the top ten and good cup runs to set the basis for the year after and another crack at UEFA through league position then.

Anything else would be a bonus.

If, however, the changes aren't made I would be less optimistic and see us struggling again with only the prospect of a last minute reprieve and another season of 'survival is success' to look forward to.

I sincerely hope it's the former.

Never Happy said:

So the annual Schwarzer bluff and counter bluff has started once again.

He has been a good keeper for the Boro, but in my opinion its time for Boro to move on and sign another keeper.

Release Schwarzer and Jones. Sign a new keeper and make Turnbull the number two choice.

I still believe that with a fresh challenge Robinson can still be a top keeper. Should be available for a minimal fee and his wage demands should be no higher than Schwarzer's

I also read that Ramos is after swapping Jinky for Huddlestone. Huddlestone could be the new George with better passing skills.

GS does not seem to rate Jinky so this might just happen.

Pennant from the Scousers could resolve our right sided problems. O'Neill if he stays could move in one to centre midfield.

Come on Boro!

Tees Exile said:

BLT

You are right to point out that the habitual ingrained moaners couldn't control their emotional incontinence even after such a brilliant display.

For me it is that attitude that is the biggest brake on Boro's long term ambitions. Ambition, vision, long term planning are all rejected by so short sighted Teessiders who prefer to retreat into the "it can never change" attitude that has held them back for generations.

Luke Young, Tuncay and Alves look excellent acquisitions... but when they were signed they were all slagged off as has-beens/unproven/over-priced/ won't settle/only passing through.

The attempts to get the ball down and play were written off early on yet the crowd also moan about 'hoofing it' or McClarenesque defensive play.

What do you want? Do you want Boro to have a crack at changing their style and their status and dare to dream of progress and success or do you want to sit back in a bubble of backward fear moaning like your forefathers did and wait for relegation so you can all say "I told you so" and not have to confront change and a new menatlity.

It is time to stop the moaning and start supporting. That doesn't just mean clapping like a seal or joining in with songs - it means sharing the ambition and pulling in the same direction even when there are set-backs.

Fell free to slag me off now. I know that is what you do best on Teesside.

**AV writes: Oh-oh. Tin hats time I think...


Captain K said:

Well, I am gutted was considering the match but chose not to go! My last two matches were Sunderland away and Cardiff, which may have coloured my decision...

White band magic? I think so!!!!

Just heard rocky has left Boro on Sky Sports News so next season our team should look something like this

? denotes player to be signed

?
young huth/pog wheats/riggott tayls/pog

?/aliadiere ? ? downing

tunc alves


peace

Dennis Wilson said:

AV: please please please tell me the link with Alan Smith is some sort of 'old' April Fools joke. He is appalling and not worth playing in the Derby squad this season.

Well done to all at Boro, what a great result, yesterday I was in Halifax and would you believe what I saw as I walked happily around in my Boro shirt? Another Boro fan with his shirt on! the 8-1 has given us all a bit of pride

cmon Boro, (and dont buy smith!)

Ian Gill said:

Well that has settled the debate about Rocky, what we dont know was whether we were going to offer him a contract or not. Whatever, I wish him, Mendi and Simba the best in their careers.

International Man of Mystery said:

AV:

Is there a block on posts from our mutual acquaintance? He's tried 3 times over the last two days or so to post to the blog after the City match and it hasn't appeared?

The unanswered email is understood because of busy, busy, busy. But the post seems to have been swallowed up by the ether monster! Problem?

**AV writes: I don't think there's a problem. I'm not in work today but from what I can see there doesn't appear to be any technical issues with the blog. Hang on in there IMM.

John Powls said:

Well, we knew about Mendi and Simba but the club have just confirmed that Rocky is on his way. Great news (though I know some on here won't agree).

I'd be happy to see Arca follow his heart back to The Mackems and for Catts (who I don't think has what it takes for the Prem) to move on too, if suitable fees can be got.

That will leave Gate free to rebuild the centre and right of our midfield as I suggested in my earlier posting and with the wage headroom to do it.

If we can add Prem quality - e.g. Sidwell, Darren Fletcher, Gera (if he is still unsettled at Baggies) - to Stewie, Johnno, Shawky, O'Neil and have The Boat play out his last season as a squad player we will have the makings of a mobile, driving and creative midfield with flexibilty to cover in all areas that can also cover our back four, retain the ball and continuity pass.

David Morrison said:

I don't really understand why we are wanting to keep schwarzer?

He is 35 and this season has shown frailties and looked slow when you would expect a keeper of his calibre and history to be getting their comfortably.

Yes his experience is invaluable and maybe his good points outweigh his bad but he is 35 and can you teach an old dog new tricks?

I think a younger keeper who commands his area and has quality distribution is a must as it will surely benefit the way we are looking to play.

Robinson for me is the perfect choice, hes got something to prove and he might be taken in by the chance to move up north again.

I'd also look at Ben Foster from Man Utd and also Kirkland who has surely proved himself this season at Wigan.
Matt Murray as well looks a good keeper and with Wolves not getting to the play offs could surely be tempted by the premier league. Also another possibility would be keeping faith with Turnbull?

We will find out anyway where Schwarzer sees himself and i think its a good tactic from Boro to publicly state they have offered or looking to negotiate a contract.

COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BoroPhil said:

100% spot on Tees Exile.

Bomber H said:

Alan Smith to come to the Boro...please nooooooo. How many goals has he scored for the Barcodes? Exactly. Let's concentrate on a decent passing midfield instead.

If Schwarzer stays, perhaps over the summer he could practise kicking the ball to one of the guys with a band on his chest

Peter Collins said:

Tuncay is activating his £5m get out clause and is joining the barcodes in a swap deal for Alan Smith.

Cant say that I'm too happy about this.

**AV writes: Good one. Maybe we can swap Alves for Carr too.

John Powls said:

Just when I'd started to enjoy the good news comes the rumour about Alan Smith.

I will join with the others who have so far said a resounding 'YER JOKIN' ARE'N'YA'.

Whilst I'm on I was also a little disquieted to read that we're talking to Schwarz.

That would be the lazy, unthinking choice on both party's parts. The time is right now to make the break and bring in a new first choice 'keeper. And like others have said Brad Jones should go too - just to remove the temptation for anyone to think about playing him at any point in the future.

I'd go for Robinson too. Unhappy where he is, eager to get his Eng-er-lund place back and unlikely to object to coming back North.

We've all seen him play - including against us - when he was confident and in his pomp. I can recall a few games when he robbed us of 3 points almost single handed.

Another plus point for him is that he will be playing behind a better defence than at WHL and with more Eng-er-lund colleagues.

With the greatest of affection for Pearsy, I don't see being coached by him as a reason to come. And Robinson needs his fitness and lack of lard to perform. Our 'fitness' coaches don't have a good track record where that's concerned either.

Talking of surplus timber, I wouldn't let Johnno go at all and certainly not as a swap for Huddlestone. Yes, he passes well sometimes and is a big lad but he's a younger, English version of Rocky - no pace, too much lard and inclined to get robbed of the ball in the wrong areas.

Now if Jenas was on offer that would be different.

David Morrison said:

Please please please dont buy Alan Smith.

It was in the paper on Sunday he was on £62,000 a week at the barcodes. Please please dont sign this sorry exscuse for a player. I would rather bite off my arm than watch him in a boro shirt. Keep Dong Gook hes scored more goals..

COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!!

Jaguar Boy said:

Cheers to Rocky and Mendi for their hard work an good luck in the future, and farewell DGL, poor bloke must have lost a fortune coming to England to try his luck - being paid on appearances. I wonder how much it made Boro in Far Eastern Sales?

Lets move on - we have a gaping hole in midfield that needs filling, and like others in this blog, can't see many players in the Premier League that I'd want, that would come to Boro. For the quality we need, I think it's going to be big team players who aren't getting a game (and I don't mean Alan Smith - no! please, no!)

We have had luck previously with Barca cast offs maybe worth looking there? I can't see many Italians coming though, not after the bad mouthing that Marco Branca may have been doing, who's now a prominent agent.

Anyone (AV included!) that can come up with some names that will excite but are actually feasible?

Or do we put hope in the scouting system? lets face it, we didn't see Tuncay coming, (or many of our better players over the years) maybe there are some more great players that we don't know much about that our scouts have found and can give us the midfield we need.


Never Happy said:

AV - Surely the Smith link is a wind up.

He has been crap for the Skunks all season, picked them instead of us and seems to be on a downward spiral as far as his career concerned.

JP - I would like GS to keep Jinky and play him more, however as he didn't after bringing him back from Watford I get the feeling he does not rate him.

I have not seen enough of Huddlestone to make a true judgement of his ability, but of what I have seen he looks a decent player. Then again LDG probably looked good on the DVD Boro viewed to buy him.

Good luck to the outgoing players, lets hope Boro show the same alacrity in bringing in some new ones, but not Alan Smith

**AV writes: Smith is on the 'out' list at Newcastle and the first club his agent would try to link him with would be the one who tried hardest to sign him all last summer. It is natural for the Smith camp to see it as a possible way out but I can't see it as a goer from Boro's point of view.

BoroPhil said:

I'm sure John Powls is on some great elaborate wind-up. You'd rather have Gera or Fletcher than Rochemback?

And please, stop trying to convince us that Gareth and you are saying the same things. He'd agree with about 1% of what you post on here.

John Stone said:

Alan Smith ?

Simply not good enough for us. He,s failed to score goals at Man.Utd and Newcastle and would do nothing for us.

Forget this guy unless Newcastle will put him out on loan with them picking up two thirds of his wages. Give Tuncay, Adam Johnson and the "Boat" a game before somebody like this.

I hope this isnt the idea of our new "Worldwide Scouting Team" if so disband them now !

Never Happy said:

I have just been reading the Skunks blog and can not find a good word to be said about Alan Smith. Plenty about how poor, rubbish, not fit to wear the shirt type comments.

Plenty of get some mug to buy him comments. Well lets hope the mugs are not Boro.

AV - please ask MFC if these rumours are correct, hopefully it is all just paper talk. Smith has not been the same player since his broken leg against the scousers.

A while ago I read an article by Oliver Holt that slated Smith and his agent. If he is not good enough for the Skunks we don't want him at the Boro.

C'Mon Boro!

David Morrison said:

The rumour mill is in full swing.

AV any ideas on how much Boro have taken off the wage bill with Mendi, Rocky and Dong Gook going? (I think its in the £80,000 - £100,000 a week bracket?)

Sidwell to Boro £50,000 a week - I'd pay him that rather than Alan Smith. I think Sidwell would be quality for us and a season at Chelsea in the champions league with games under his belt surely must have improved him as a player.

If we can get him to the form that made chelsea buy him then i will be very very pleased.

COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!

tim from sa said:

I was at the Shef Wed game all those years ago it was a great game the fact we were going up was also there.

This game against City was just what we needed and to all the guys that suffered Cardiff, Reading and Bolton enjoy.

Schwarts, if we need the money to get the quality in midfield I would keep him as this is definitely the area we need to work on.Rocky would have been fine with the right players around him. Please not Smith.

Bring in Tuncs mate Appiah.

stockton red said:

Alan Smith- this is surely a wind up or a pathetic attempt by the Geordies to drum up interest and find a buyer.

A striker that makes Aliadiere look like a goal machine and a total nonentity when played in midfield because he's not a midfield player. Since his badly broken leg all he's proved is that he has very little left to offer.

Surely this is a joke?

Tarek Elnoury said:

Adra Turan! Please buy this Turkish right winger. Skillful like Ronaldo and Tuncay will help him settle!

Or get out of favour Pennant! would be an excellent addition on right with downing on the left

Pedro de Espana said:

Well the clock has started ticking, three out and one rumoured in. Like others I cannot believe we could still be interested in Alan Smith, and I am disappointed that we have let Rocky go, and have received nothing for a 26 year old, that must be at least 2 million lost, when we have limited money.

I still believe we need a left back, and I am guessing that with other players needed in midfield, Schwarz is looking like a cheap option in the overall budget??

Hiro Nakamura said:

I am very proud of Boro! Really hope we break in top seven and qualify for Uefa Cup. This is my ultimate dream.

I think signing the likes of out of favour Pennant and Sidwell from Big clubs will be a great addition to compete for Europe next year. Robinson would be good with new challenge.

O'Neil then could be moved in centre. And i like the Huddlestone rumour. I hope we can get some of these as everything is hard to happen

Malc said:

Please tell me the Alan Smith story is a wind up? I knew he was crap before the Mags got him and he proved that to any doubters ten fold. To add salt to the wound he even turned us down first time. Just when things were looking up. God no!

Malc said:

John Powls- Jenas plays well one in ten.

Never Happy- I liked your post. Spoke sense.

What would anyone even consider signing Alan Smith for? His off-field history? His high wages or his on-field (lack of) exploits? If you had to compile a list of players NOT to sign, he would feature highly. Let's hope this is a joke, but it would be the Geordies who would be laughing.

Would have no problem with Robinson but I could understand it if, with money hopefully to be committed elsewhere, he was given a short (final) extension to his contract.

I thought Hiro Nakamura might be from a TV programme but I agree with him in his earlier post that Sidwell would be a good signing. I am not so sure about Pennant, though. I thought we were going to look at players' characters and background before signing in the future and, in any event, I doubt he would want to come here.

I also note that Franck has been interviewed in terms suggesting he will be away from relegated Birmingham, although I don't know the "real reason" he was transferred out in the first place - maybe there was an undiclosed reason or maybe it was because the club was confident that Arca would be a 38+ games a season solid success at left back (which seemed doubtful at the time and ridiculous now). That was, of course, before a pre-injury Taylor burst upon the scene.

At least one ball-winning midfielder and one playmaker will be needed. Cattermole isn't beyond redemption, but now is the time for him to mature on and off the field. He has not made the progress we had all hoped for. I have not included him in the two midfielders I referred to earlier.

I really would hope we could persuade Boateng to do another season. With all the intended comings and goings in midfield we will need someone who DOESN'T need to "settle in" next season.

Another concern is that we do not jettison Josh Walker who seems to have done well on loan at Aberdeen, as goalscoring midfielders are not exactly pouring out of the Riverside seams.

We had seemed about to offload Downing during his loan spell at Sunderland until his outstanding performances there made it clear that was a non-starter. That would have been the mistake of a generation.

I know we have a new world-wide scouting network. I hope it proves a success. But I wonder how many times and by how many different people (watching blind - that is without knowing that the first scout "thinks player X looks outstanding/rubbish") each player is watched.

You would think it would be easy spotting the potential in a young Pele, Maradonna, Bobby Charlton, Cruyff etc. But really good players such as Peter Beardsley, Ian Wright and others slipped through the net initially and we would be delighted to have either of the last two at our club!

Finally I am not surprised some people have found it possible to criticise the 8-1 crushing of Man City. The truth is that we played exceptionally well and, at the same time, they played poorly and collapsed in the second half. That is why the score was so exceptional.

Derby County is now officially the worst ever Premier League team, but I don't think anyone managed to put eight past their keeper this season. The team's show was an example not of a PINT but a QUART pot being full. What a good memory with which to start the summer.

Redcar Red said:

Alan Smith, please no! overrated and over paid. He would add absolutely nothing to our squad. We moved out Danny Graham and James Morrison and have Kennedy on loan at Darlo, what would Smith bring to the squad that any of the above 3 haven't?

He is one of a long line of "nearly men" footballers that never reached their full potential. This summer we need to be very judgemental and critical about who we bring in. On paper we have the potential for great achievements next season, we cannot afford to blow it by bringing in the likes of Smith.

If we can afford (or are stupid enough to pay it) Smith's wage demands then surely Sidwell is a far better option.

We need to rebuild the midfield more than the front line and Smith is definitely not of the calibre or personality required for either role.

On the Schwarzer debate I would give him the 2 years and use it to groom/bring in another Keeper. Regardless of whether he stays or goes the remaining options of Jones or Turnbull are non starters at Premiership level.

Consider the reserve Bolton keeper Al Habsi and his performance at the Riverside versus Jones and Turnbull's efforts to date.

In fact considering Al Habsi maybe is not such a bad idea!

Further to posts about potential signings:

1. Tarek Elnoury (who, from his name, may know about these things) mentions Arda Turan. A quick bit of research suggests he is a young player (I think he is 21 ish, but can't be bothered to go back to confirm it!) from Galatasaray whom they refused to contemplate selling "at least until the summer" as the team was in the Champions League. I see he scored a hat-trick against Sivas in G's penultimate game of the season on 4th May.

He is said to have spoken to Emre and to Tuncay about the possibility of coming to England, so he may be interested if asked. He is said to have been described as Turkey's answer to Wayne Rooney and also compared to Georghe Hagi (but if he is half as good as those two, we couldn't afford him). His own agent thinks he is more of a winger. He must be worth a look, though.

2. How about Crewe's 21 year old Nicky Maynard, whose strike rate as a goalscorer in Division 1 is very good, and who has recently come back from a broken leg suffered in the season's opening game.

For most of his youth he came up under the tutelage of Dario Gradi, and if you had to create a short-list of coaches ideal to spot and bring the best out of young players, and to bring them up playing good football, it would have Gradi near the top. Worth a look, on the basis that if you can score goals in any league you must have something?

Nigerian Red said:

Everyone in Africa asks why Shawky isn't playing, they assume he is injured! If we need a left back, how about Riise?

John Powls said:

BoroPhil

No wind up. There is a very long list of players I'd rather have than Rocky. In fact it would be quicker to list the ones I wouldn't!

Doubtless others will disagree with the names I've put forward - that's fine; it's all about opinions.

But, forgive me if I've got this wrong, aren't Boro known to have had a longstanding interest in Gera and didn't we try to buy him last Summer? And would you say that Gera - taking the difference between leagues into account - has had a better or worse season than Rocky?

As to Darren Fletcher, I could ask you this question. Would Sir Alex swap Fletcher for Rocky as a squad midfield player for ManUre? And if he would, why hasn't he rushed to secure his services?

The fact that there are better midfielders than Rocky to be had is, however, one thing that Gate and I clearly agree on since he's pretty quickly let him go rather than extending his contract.

So far as me agreeing with Gate is concerned, I wouldn't hazard a guess as to what the percentage is. Your 10% may be too high.

All I'm simply pointing out is that I occasionally make a point that gets me a slagging off from the various PollyAnnas and foam-handers on here.

I then go to the Gazette and find quotes from Gate which say the same thing.

I don't claim it happens all the time - or even most of it. But I sometimes say so when it does.

If you don't believe me - read the Gazette site or listen to recorded interviews and what Gate actually says.

Malc - if Jenas plays well 1 in 10, that ratio puts him ahead of Huddlestone. And if I am to pray managers in aid then clearly Juande Ramos favours Jenas over Huddlestone because that's the order he picks them in.

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Rocky has gone for nothing after Southgate said' he has had his best season for us'

No central midfielder has played better this season so why is he going ahead of Cattermole , Arca and Boat?

He has been integral this season spraying the ball out wide and into the channels and splitting defences with passes.
Gate should have partnered him with O'Neil in the centre to get the best out of him.

Southgate and some of our fans fail to appreciate players like Rocky and even Johnson and I can tell you if they felt wanted we might get more out of them as we want them and in return they want to play for us!

Anyone complaining about his 10 yellow card disciplinary record? Well most of those were made when the opposition attack were about to exploit our team being out of position and stopped their attacker breaking through.

Will Liverpool get rid of Alonso coz he doesnt score enough goals? Its what he brings to the team as a whole!

Now we need a central midfielder who has good delivery on set pieces and has the vision to pick a pass, to tackle back and to get forward, no older than 26 who has a South American touch. Fabio Rockemback fro free anyone!
BAD BUSINESS!

Southgate needs to deliver now and not at the 11th hour in a Alves/Herveeren style stare out contest.

Huddlestone puts on weight faster than Mido and will not suit our quick attacking style. I like Zarate and Elano although theese boys are both expensive.

Get Sidwell and get him soon as he has not played for ages and needs full pre season.

**AV writes: It is not to do with ability though. Rochemback wanted out and wanted to go back to Lisbon and has made that clear for the best part of a year. You can't keep an unhappy player against their will, even if you think his one good game in three ratio was worthwhile.

The sulky schemer's displays have inmproved of late because he has been demob happy but activating the extended option now may result in an expensive misfit brooding on the bench for the next two years which would be madness.

Terry Simpson said:

We should sign Alan Smith. He is good and does a good shift and is not a lazy get like most of the Boro team are.

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

You have a point there AV, I smell change . Come on Gareth lets get a red hot central midfielder , we have not seen much of Shawky yet either , like the feller in Nigeria said.

Richard said:

Fabio's Agent: "Hey, Fabio! How're they hangin' boy?"

Fabio: "I'm fed up Fabio's Agent! I'm cold and miserable here at Boro. The fans are indifferent to me and it's hard to get motivated and keep it going."

Fabio's Agent: "Oh, my boy, I'm so sorry to hear that! Maybe a change of club when your contract break point comes up would do it for you?"

Fabio: "Maybe! Got anybody in mind? I liked it in Portugal! It was warmer and people loved me there. What d'you think Fabio's Agent?"

Fabio's Agent: "I'll do a bit of sniffing round Fabio, my son!"

Four days later-

Fabio: "Hello Fabio's Agent. How're you doin'?"

Fabio's Agent: "Guess what Fabulous Fabio, Portugal's calling!! I've put it out there that you might be interested in going back - nothing certain you understand because Boro have got that further 2-year pull-down on your contract.

"Also, Sporting haven't seen you play for a while because Boro haven't been in Europe and they'll need convincing that you still have it! I didn’t want to give them too much ‘eagerness’ either Rocky Baby. The old "hard to get" routine's still very important to me because I need the money! I'm not a rich footballer!"

Fabio: "OK, what do I need to do?"

Fabio's Agent:" Get yourself down that Rockcliffe Gym and get into shape. Get yourself picked for as many games as you can between now and the end of the EPL season and put yourself about a bit. If you can score a screamer on the last game of the season - so much the better. I'll make sure Sporting have people watch you, so that you can show them how hard you're working!

"Also, you shouldn't smile! When Southgate talks to you, cry if you can. A good flood of crocodile tears and a chubby little sad Fabio face will bring out the best in Southgate and he'll recognize that you're unhappy. He won't want to extend your contract because you're not a happy bunny - sad little Fabio."

Riverside Stadium, Sunday, 11 May 2008 -

Sporting Scout (on phone, live): "Fabio's playing well!" What the hell's wrong with Boro that they can't see that and don't want to extend his contract?"

Sporting Chairman: "Is he fat?"

Sporting Scout: "Nope, He's stocky. Wow! He's just bounced off Benjani!"

Sporting Chairman: "Has he hurt himself?"

Sporting Scout: "Nope. He's hurt Benjani though! Maybe even cracked his ribs! Fabio's acting nonchalant and walked straight past the ref with the innocent air of a toddler."

Sporting Chairman: “Who’s the ref? Oh never mind, they’re all blind over there anyway! Hmm! Can he dive? We need a diving diva in this league, Manchester United nicked the best one we ever produced and it hasn't been the same since he left? As though Drogba wasn’t enough for the EPL! No wonder their league gets all the TV money! They get two sports for the price of one!"

Sporting Scout: “Dive? Dive? Apart from Ronaldo, Fabio’s one of the best I’ve seen. If he doesn’t succeed in ripping the shirt off the other guys back, he’s over. Dive? His agent tells me he as good as invented the trailing leg!

"Oops! That was clever! He looked one way and kicked the ball sideways in the opposite direction. It went to a Boro player! It was funny too – he’s got eyes like Marty Feldman when he does it!â€?

Sporting Chairman:â€? Who’s Marty Feldman? Who does he play for? Is he available?

Sporting Scout: No, no, no no, Sporting Chairman, you misunderstand. Feldman’s rotten. The eyes thing’s not important any



"Wow! A screamer! What a bloody free-kick that was! Was it Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink? Was it Ronaldo? Nope it was Super Fabio! What a goal that was Sporting Chairman! He’s convinced Alves that the Bambi factor won’t work in this situation and decided to hit it himself.

"And wow! Did he hit it or what? He must have been practicing that technique for hours and hours on the training ground. He must have scored loads for Boro like that over the past three years. I must look up the stats!�

Sporting Chairman: “Never mind the stats! Never mind the stats! I’m sure you’re right! Listen, get him on a plane over here within 24 hours! I want that boy!â€?

Subsequently



Fabio’s Agent: “Hey my lucky, lucky, boy! Good game yesterday! I see you took my advice about the screamer?â€?

Fabio: “Hey! Fabio’s Agent! Good to hear from you! The screamer? Oh yeh! How’d that happen? I’ve been practicing that in competitive matches for Boro for the last three years and I can’t remember the last time it actually came off! Actually, I did what Afonso told me to and it seemed to work. What news?

Fabio’s Agent: “Great news son! Great news! Looks like I’m going to get a fee, erm

YOU’RE GOING HOME, SON, YOU’RE GOING HOME!â€?

Fabio: “Eh? You mean we’ve done it? We’ve actually done it?

Fabio’s Agent: “Yep, I have son. I’ve actually done it! Get your affairs sorted out and get yourself over the Lisbon. They want to wire you up and see if you’ve got a heart.â€?

Fabio: “Hey, Fabio’s Agent, you’re not supposed to know about my affairs! Well, some of them anyway! (Chuckles). Hey, Fabio’s Agent, there’s a flight to Lisbon this morning. I’m gone! Sod the affairs! How much do I ask for?

Fabio’s Agent: “Just you leave those troublesome matters to me Fabio, my son! Have I ever let you down before?â€?

Fabio: “Erm


bye! I’ve a plane to catch!â€?

*AV writes: Very good.

Never Happy said:

AV - Shawky looked good for Egypt and promising in the couple of games he played for the Boro. Do you think GS might play him as his holding midfield player next season?

Sidwell would be a good signing, however would he come to Boro? GS has / will find selling the club to young upwardly mobile players difficult.

Hopefully the new scouting network already has potential signing identified.

However if these signings turn out to be average PL players eg: Alan Smith, Steve Gibson has tried to pull the wool over the fans eyes or is not getting what he has paid for from the scouts.

At least the club have not come out with the mega signing jargon to try and sell ST yet.

Most people I know who STs are holding back before they renew, those who had South Stand tickets have already said they are going to go on a match by match basis as they are dissapointed to lose their seats.

How many clubs do MFC think will sell out the South Stand?
One that would Man U will probably get their ticket quota cut for refusing to sit down.

Does not seem to be the best thought out idea from MFC.

C'Mon Boro!

**AV writes: I think maybe Man U. Newcastle and Sunderland would take an extra allocation.

But more importantly I think the South Stand is being cleared so that for the "lesser" games the club have big sections of seats together so tailored one off taster ticket promotions.

It will give them the flixibility for example to try for the Wigan game say, Dad and lad for a tenner, or for Hull, every school in Teesside offered 50 seats together for a bargain bucket fiver a head.

BrisbanePhil said:

Richard... and now for one on Schwarzer please !! That was the best laugh since .... well god knows really. All these smiles and it's only Wednesday, how will this happy goal-filled week end?

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Good one Richard!

Its great for young English players to get a move to a top 4 club and earn a lot of money sitting on the bench while the national team rots and they lose their match fitness and confidence, then years later try and get a move to actually play while wondering what in hell happened to their career.

Well ,at least the agent got a new Ferrari [- and the rest] out of it.

Sidwell , Come to Boro.

Bororob said:

If we sign Alan Smith I will be asking for my £782 back (£2 "booking fee" - for the club doing nothing - what's that about?)

I was happy last year when we didn't sign him, and particularly happy that he has proved me right this season with the skunks.

I really don't see what he will bring to the team - he is not (and never has been) a striker, his main talents seem to entail spending 90 minutes whingeing at the referee and having ridiculous hair.

Alan Smith proves the rule "never buy a player from Man Utd" - Ferguson is not stupid and only lets players go who he knows are not up to it; added to this is the mentality of ex-Man U players who feel that they are taking a step down; There are very few former Man U players who have gone on to become top players with other clubs (in fact I can't think of any).

I really hope this is paper talk, as GS is not only in danger of looking like a fool chasing a player who has already snubbed us once but of adding to his reputation for making indifferent / bad signings.

I don't think Smith will give us any more than Boateng or Arca in midfield and if he wants to play him as a striker he'd better get in the queue behind Alves, Tuncay, Mido and Ali. The midfield is somewhere we desparately need to strengthen over the summer but Smith - NO.

Never Happy said:

Very good Richard

Bororob - what about Peter Davenport!!

C'Mon Boro!

International Man of Mystery said:

Vic,

I've re-submitted Sunday's piece as "the other me". Since I've managed to get the other piece through this morning. Thanks for your email. Dunno what's happened to the previous transmissions of the Sunday piece because I received the "Thank you for commenting" auto-response from your website, implying that it had arrived/ had been received.

Rhetorical question - does anyone else do your moderation at the weekends in your office absence?

IMM

**AV writes: No, I take my work home with me because I am an obsessive saddo but if anything goes wrong I can't do much as the geeks all go home to play on-line Halo.

Forever Dormo said:

1. Yes, this really is me, but using my home rather than the "my office" e-mail address.

2. Richard's piece must win the gold star award for the week. It must have taken ages to type, unless he has a willing secretary. I agree with BrisbanePhil - a piece in the same vein about Schwarzer would be great.

3. Without wishing to belabour the point PLEASE NO ALAN SMITH - not after I've gone and renewed the Season Ticket.

4. I tried the club website to renew my ST last Friday, but the system did not work. The lad who sits next to me also tried to renew via website and a family of three with ST's in the same stand did the same, on the Friday/Saturday before Sunday's game. None of us got through.

We all had to make separate journeys to the stadium to ensure we got the applications in on time for our early bird discounts ( I only found out at the match that we had all failed via the website method, and none of us wanted to wait until the Man City game itself as we thought it was likely to be Bedlam with a massive queue to renew).

I sent a very polite e-mail to the club ticket office, admittedly late on Friday night, both from my "office" and my "home" e-mail addresses, to ask a couple of questions. To date, I still have not received a response.

Come on Lads! We are customers trying to spend our money with the Club (and probably a total of over 2 Grand!) so it would help if the club didn't make it so difficult. Or maybe there are 30,000 people out there who have made requests for 3 year Season Tickets, so the Club knows it doesn't have to rely on us for renewals?

I eventually renewed without the answer to my questions so I am hoping everything will be OK, but I will be more than upset if I only find out there is a problem after the deadline for renewals has passed.

5. Many people in the queue want to apply for tickets and have queries to raise, cheques to hand in or a credit card to "swipe" at the counter. Others simply want to hand in their completed renewal forms.

Would it not be simple to have a temporary post box of some kind either outside or at the door of the ticket office with a notice attached? A sign saying something like: "Those wishing simply to drop off their renewal forms can post them in this box rather than wait in the queue to see our assistants at the counter".

That would save people waiting in a queue when there is no need and would avoid the cries of "Oi, mate, don't jump the queue!" Basically we are all on the side of MFC, so there is no point in trying to annoy your would-be willing customers, or is this part of some Cunning Plan?

6. I have it good authority that AV has the entire summer off until the new season starts, and that an imposter will be going to non-league cup finals, and other jollies over the next few months in his place. Maybe someone else will be tending the blog when that sunny beach calls. How will we know it is you? "The blog being impersonated whilst its owner is drinking Sangria".

**AV writes: The blog that's wearing shades and flip-flops?

john sully said:

Alan Smith??? We do not need Newcastle's outcasts. it's midfielders we want and real quality ones: Deco, Gattuso or maybe more realisticly.........Albelda and Zarate.

malc said:

International man of mystery is so enjoyable. Only his overly ambitious stringing together of words beyond his comprehension exposes him as a regular Teesside Joe.

Holgate Ender said:

AV... saw your article in the Gazette yesterday looking back over the season and it reminded me how much chaos we were in at the start of the season... uproar that Viduka had gone to the Barcodes, Yakubu tipping the toys out the pram, Bernie and Ali kicked off the commentary, all the defnders crocked Lambie having a total unneccessary pop at season ticket holders. After that we have finished relatively upbeat.

Then I started to wonder exactly where is Lambie? At the start of the season he was everywhere. Now you never see hide nor hair (which is no bad thing.)

Has this Bauser fella had him bumped off? Is he hand-cuffed to Eric Paylor? Has he refused to come into work until Mendieta gets back in the first team? I think we should be told.

**AV writes: I hope we see him next at a press conference to announce some 'spectacular' signings.


Richard said:

Bororob: I don't know if your last sentence was intended or constructed subconsciously, but your use of "desperately" rings true if there's any genuine truth in the reported Smith interest!

Much as we all just love Trinity Mirror Group newspapers, (don't we chaps?) it was herein, in the Mirror, that it was supposedly reported. (Of course, there's always the occasional rogue journo in any well-kept organisation, I suppose!)

However, has anyone else noticed the pattern of reports of interest from "smaller" clubs in the discarded dross of the tabloids' favoured, larger, city-based clubs?

It was the same at the start of last season when Yakubu was linked by News International with Everton. They wouldn't let it go! And I remain personally convinced (that's admittedly, possibly a bit like Mohammad El Fayed convinced) to this day, that they were instrumental in stoking up the climate to make the move happen.

Such moves always seem to favour the larger clubs. The useless has-beens get talked into the lower echelons and the "bright young things" are earmarked for "them up there"! It would be a refreshing change if the tabloids would take an alternative stance and do their bit for restoration of a level playing field for once - rather than support the widening gaps!

Smith? If our money wasn't good enough for him last season, his failure isn't good enough for us this season! Come on AV - get your mates at Canary Wharf to talk up his move - to Southampton or back to Leeds, whom he helped into oblivion! Or even better, get Newcastle to keep him!

It's an interesting question, but I don't think that Sir Alex Ferguson would take him back even at zero cost. And if Newcastle - a club that finished 1 point and 1 position above Boro in the league - don't rate him enough to play him routinely, why should we be interested in bringing him in only to have him produce the same for us?

No thanks! Surely it's only just press speculation? Tell me that's it's only just press speculation! Please!

**AV writes: I think it is just his agent testing a few possible escape hatches for when he gets bombed out at Newcastle. That's the agents's job, to alert clubs to the possibility of their boy's availability - and where better to start than with an easy link to a club who had flirted so outrageously with him last summer.

Must go now, it is almost time for the flag-raising and collective singing of the Trinity Mirror company song.

Ian Gill said:

Off the gazette presses, two consecutive paragraphs.

'After failing to find the net for Newcastle, Southgate will be hoping to sign Smith in a cut price deal if he decides to firm up his interest. The likely fee would be in the region of £3-5m.

After signing Afonso Alves in January, Steve Gibson indicated that he had also tried to sign a second striker in the transfer window, suggesting he believes the club is short on firepower.'

Mutually incompatible springs to mind. Smith does bring sone flexibilty, he is equally competent in midfield and attack. He would however replace some of the attributes lost when Rocky departed, namely giving away senseless free kicks, yellow cards and an inability to score. Sadly he doesnt have the plus points that the departed Greggs Twin provided.

Which links nicely to the other Greggs Twin, Midough (oh how I gnash my teeth that I didnt coin the phrase, Midriff is but a poor and distant second). I note we are being linked again with James Beattie. If true I think it unlikely we would have both on the books, a striking department of Tuncay, Alves, Aliadiere, Mido and Beattie looks a bit top heavy, literally in certain cases.

We do not have the number of games to carry five strikers though our esteemed state of the art training centre can soon remedy the number of fit players.

In my eyes Beattie coming in would mean Midough going out. Alves is a certain starter, that would mean Tuncay, Beattie, Aliadiere fighting for the starting role (Tuncay and Aliadiere could play wide right). We also need a slot in the squad for say Tom Craddock or another youngster, they dont necessarily have be to on the bench every match but have to come into the reckoning if we are going to benefit from the academy.

Ste Mac said:

Please will people stop panicking and picking next year's team now based on snippets of agent imspired tabloid crap. All the rumours in the papers and websites at this time of year are just cut and paste pub gossip.

Jarkko said:

Hello!

I hope either Egypian Shawky or Joshua Walker is not over looked next season! The former had some great matches for Boro but could be better next season after a proper pre-season under him.

Has anybody any news on Josh? He played in Europe during his loan to Aberdeen. A new David Wheater next season?

Up the Boro!

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Beatie and Smith, what a joke!

Mauro Zarate looked good for Brum and is only 21yrs old.
We have had a Juninho, Merson, Zenden ,Mendietta and Sometimes Rocky as I know he is not as good as the others at their best but it is this position that needs filling without a doubt.

We have plenty of holding central midfielders, I think Rocky has gone so that we can better him, and I think news might be scarce until we get our man so not to alert other clubs of what we are up to. Thats what Lamby told me yesterday lunchtime over a boiled sheeps brain anyway.

Did someone say Deco is out of favour at Barca?

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

PS. Gary O'Neil has been played out of position all season on the right. If we still have him next season then he should be moved inside. His understanding on the right with Luke young is not a good enough reason .

Ian Gill said:

Ste Mac

Remember that if you panic early you can avoid the rush.

Truth is that we are facing a black hole of true information and following our glorious former leaders success with our national squad a glaring absence of football for several months.

Got to do something to keep ourselves occupied. I suppose I could try work, or decorating.

I thought of going on one of the Rockcliffe tours when up seeing my brother but as I am self employed I cant afford to go in as a fan and come out an NHS waiting list statistic

Richard said:

IoB:

You're looking to get some goal contribution from your inside midfielders. Are you sure that on the finishing performance that Gary O'Neil has demonstrated so far, that he's got it in him to make that particular contribution?

Moving him inside might give him more opportunity, but it's what he does with the opportunities he gets that would bother me on the evidence to date.

He's great in other ways, is Gary. Brilliant energy and enthusiasm and a quick burst of pace too. Fights like a terrier and his positional sense is good.

I really want him to stay, but the main aspect of his game that's weak for me, is the killer ball - his finishing. He needs to seize whatever opportunities he gets and convert them. He may not have had too many such opportunities, but so far, it hasn't happened and when you're requiring some goals input from midfield, in the absence of the front men doing it for you - well, it's a gamble.

Perhaps with Alves and a fully fit Mido option up front we could bring Gary inside - just when we (hopefully) don't need that goal contribution so much! But then it's the final ball isn't it? (Ironically, in the last two games Rocky played he played some of the best "final balls" of his Riverside career - a bit like Viduka upping the ante just before he left!)

However, Gary's linking role with his pace may be the value-adding contribution that may also be missing.

Stephen Gerrard rolls all of those functions up into one package! Maybe we can source one like that from Uzbekistan or Mongolia or from Mumbai United? Some undiscovered diamond that only the resources of the new global scouting network stands any chance of finding? I wish!

David Morrison said:

After watching the UEFA Cup final last night a few of zenit's players caught my eye.

I'm no scout but the guy Tymoshuk in their midfield was runnig the game, every ball semed to go through him and everything they created came from his passing. He found time and space even though Rangers were harrying and bighting at his ankles. Unsure if he would cut it in 38 games of the premier league but surely only one way to find out.

Denisov and Arsharvin also looked cool under pressure, good 1st touch and showed great distribution when given time and space. Maybe russia is an upcoming country for talent and we should be looking at it with closer detail.

It seems Man Utd have got 1st dibs on any one coming out of Portugal, Liverpool on Spain and Chelsea on Africa so we have the rest of the world to play with.

I like the fact that the rumour mill is starting early, i wanna see players in before the championships in the summer.

OME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!!

Captain K said:

Marco Bresciano from Parma, I like him.

Kapo from Brum think he done alright this season.

Left back Nicky Shorey?

Appiah

More when I think of them

Malc said:

James Beattie makes Alan Smith look like Kaka. The only light on the horizon is newspapers make a habit of simply making things up.

Captain K- Shory would cost too much and likely want to stay down south.

David Morrison- Russians don't do well outside their own country. Vorinin, Rebrov and Shevchenko being three of many examples. And yes, I know the last two are Ukranian but it's practically the same thing.

Chris L said:

BoroRob

What about Peter Beardsley and David Platt? Man Utd got it wrong big time with Beardsley (1 game after leaving Carlisle for Utd)

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Well maybe O'Neil has got to go too. I am wondering if we will end up with not one but two attacking midfielders as Southgate does a total overhaul of the two in the middle.

I would like someone with pace who can break with the forwards as I think that together with a good touch and goal scoring ability is what we really lack - apart from Downing, and thats why teams double up on him as we are too predictable/ordinary in midfield.

Gary said:

Pearson, Ince,Townsend, Southgate & JFH. Recent Boro players who were leaders, captains and hated losing. There was no hiding place if you were on the pitch with them. We desperately need one such player next season.

The trouble is that in the climate of massive wages for just sitting on the bench very few players come to mind. If we can identify them, that's the player we should break the bank for. Their impact across the whole team would be immense.

I'm convinced there is a lot already right about this team, there are just times (at the end of each half) when the team needs dragging over the finish line by character not necessarily skill.

PS

First post, but veteran reader.

**AV writes: I agree completely. That is exactly what Boro need, a player who can change the shape, tempo and dynamic of a game by force of will, can stop that "sub-conscious" retreat when Boro are defending a lead and who can drive them on when they are chasing the game.

Welcome aboard.

Nigel said:

Malc - I wouldn't tell a Ukranian that he's practically Russian, that's a bit like telling a Scotsman that he's practically English!

Ian Gill said:

Gary is right we need a leader on the pitch. Boat certainly has the energy but his own game is of the headless chicken variety. It is the blend of drive and keeping their heads that makes the Keanes, Inces etc so different but they dont come along that often.

Of the existing players I hoped Clattermole would have come on more but he has time on his side. Wheater is one who will captain the side in due course.

Chris L

Talking of Beardsley I seem to recall we nearly went for him but backed off for some reason. All clubs have their tales of players who got away or the wrong one was bought.

John Powls said:

Gary

Good points as AV says.

It will cost a bit, but Sidwell may be that man.

Glad to hear Gate rubbishing the rumours about Smith. I hope that puts the Beattie rumours in the same place, given what he said about strikers overall.

The only caveat was the aside about Mido. Gate was absolutely right of course - Mido has it all to do. But was it intended as a 'put up or ship out' message in public?

If so, how will Mido react? His track record suggests move rather than stick. So we may need a striker (who can head the ball and hold it up) after all.

Just to add to Gary's comments - the other things we need in our midfield are pace and passing.

To return to an old theme of mine, one way of getting that would be to bring Stewie inside one into the old Bolo role with Johnno on the left wing and make up the 4 with a Sidwell (or similar) and O'Neil.

We could still do with another right sided passer/crosser to give competition to O'Neil and to cover the gaping gap that was left when he got injured late in the season.

But, with The Boat, The Shawkster and Catts that would give us a very handy and flexible midfield with cover in all positions.

The none mention of Arca is deliberate. I think he's surplus and his lack of pace and drive would be even more exposed in the company above.

I'd still like to see us replace Skippy rather than give him a new contract. I think we've reached the end of that road.

It was good to see the four Boro lads in the U21's last evening. But it did leave me wondering about Catts.

Why is it that, without damaging his appetite for work and the occasional bone cruncher, he can produce such a controlled performance as the fulcrum of Eng-er-lund's midfield and continuity pass with the best of them - and yet we see that style from him so infrequently at Boro?

If he'd exhibited anything like that on the occasions he had a chance in a Boro shirt in the season just gone he would surely have become a fixture there.

David Morrison said:

Cattermole is a waste of space. His off the field distractions are getting in the way of his progress as a footballer. This kid could have been up there with the gerrards and fabregas's if only he had the application and dedication to to go with his ability.

Josh walker has proved himself at Aberdeen so why not ship Cattermole out and see what it does to him, see if it changes his mentality and gives him a kick up the backside.

On the transfer front, Silvestre might be a good buy, struggled with injury but id still have him over Taylor and we know if he is injured we have a good replacement.

Sidwell is the best of whats currently available so id go get him and maybe Davis from rangers who i think is there on loan from Fulham. We are never going to get a lampard or gerrard so it might be getting someone in and converting them to the goal scoring midfielder role.

I think tuncay can do the job but it meens changing the system so we wil have to wait and see how it goes.

COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Never Happy said:

JP - As Boro fans we can all go over the top when it comes to supporting or defending our team.

Prehaps this is the reason for Cattermole not being as composed for Boro as he was for the U21s

I do not think he has produced the goods for the Boro since he burst onto the scene. Perhaps a bit more maturity and he may turn into the player we all hoped he would.

C'Mon Boro!

Mrs Cattermole said:

"Cattermole is a waste of space. His off the field distractions are getting in the way of his progress as a footballer."

Lee may be a waste of space in your eyes but his bank balance says otherwise!

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Here is what I think regarding our lad Lee Cattermole -
The main point goes back to a comment by jinky Adam Johnson who tells us of wanting to get a run of starts to show what he is capable of.

Johnson said that coming on from the bench the odd game is disruptive and said that he often tried too hard to prove himself and keep his place on the pitch.

He said that over 90mins you could settle into the flow more and play your natural game.

I believe Cattermole is suffering exactly the same dilemma , maybe without the vocabulary to express exactly what he is feeling. After all he is a young lad and loves the Boro.

Downing had a dip in form early this season but Southgate kept the faith [ despite the boo boys ] and Downing shone through and ended up being top scorer and playing some fantastic footy.

The England U21s call ups and matches mean he is going to play yith people of his age where he is a bigger fish in a small pond - sorry England fans!-

Trying to get into the Boro midfield is more difficult and playing against top prem clubs could be more testing too.
I am talking about Presure , Composure and Experience here and Cattermole needs a run in the team and nurturing into what could be the Stevie G of Boro.

The lad certainly has commitment and hates losing and he has scored a few good goals for us. It depends how much he wants it, we hear about Wheater and Downing being the first ones to arrive and leave the training sessions.

I think Cattermole needs technical attacking lessons that will, together with his natural fight, make him into a diamond as he is still uncut and rough at the mo.

Lee is 20 and I think will develop into a really decent player as he matures, the question is how decent ? Is he going to get the coaching he needs to bring him on quicker? Have Boro got the staff to do this? Signs from the academy are good but what after that?

I guess the real question is not about the player its about the Technical training that is or isnt going on with the Boro squad itself.

**AV writes: I think there are several elements here.

One is that when young players first burst onto the scene they are fired with enthusiasm and adrenaline and are raw and fearless so they do eye-catching things and show incredible energy and passion and that is indulged and excused.

But as they get a score of games under their belt weakness aren't excused so much. They are expected to be more part of the team machinery and play in a coached, controlled way that is beyond their experience and also their own naive energy fades. It is 20 games in, during their second season that the faults tend to appear.

Also supporters are far less likely to forgive mistakes 20 games in than they are in the first half dozen. Remember back in his first few games the clattering tackles were applauded as passion and were seen as just what the team needed. Now they have people groaning about rash challenges, cheap free-kicks and too many bookings.

It is important that management get promising young players through that difficult spell or they get frustrated and downhearted and get itchy feet. For every Stewie Downing that makes it there are a dozen Summerbells or Ormerods who never reach their potential.

Next season is massive for Cattermole. And Taylor. And even Wheater. They need supporting on and off the pitch if we are to see the best of them.

David Morrison said:

Mrs Cattermole,

Exactly, but my point is think of the thousand he is wasting by not performing to his best. its easy to say I earn £10,000 a week by being average but I'd rather earn £50,000 by giving my best, setting an example and behaving in the right way.

At the end of the day it is the club who fund his bank balance and that money comes from the fans, the very fans that post on here and go to games and have to put up with the over inflated egos of average footballers.

**AV writes: If it really is Mrs Cattermole she is gonna knack you.

David Morrison said:

AV,

if it is then I'll be able to see her coming and side step it while she flies on by..

Captain K said:

Reading the Gazette apparantly GS has said if Schwarz leaves then he will promote bad jones or turnbull to first team? Bad Jones? Please tell me its a joke.

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Well AV, lets hope for us and the rest of the Boro faithful that these young lads step up and achieve the maximum standards within their capability and more with the help of the club and further coaching.

I love the fact that local lads not only play for the Boro but England to boot! I totally agree with you that next season will be a big one for these lads.

Its a shame you edited out my beer drinking suggestions from the previous post AV but I can see why.

Richard said:

The little exchange between David Morrison, Mrs Cattermole and AV highlights one of the serious personal challenges that our society presents to everyone these days.

It's interesting that "Mrs Cattermole" would defend her progeny in terms of measured financial success. And it speaks volumes about what modern youth and society in general seemingly considers more important than anything else! Money and status!

Well, I've got news for you! In the end, we're all dead anyway! And with that long term perspective, we're essentially all equal. And in a civilised society, equally entitled to respect and fair treatment by others for the duration of our passing.

The problem we have here is one of values. And our personal values tend to developed and change with time. For most of us, maturity of outlook, generally, comes with age and experience.

However, the guidance and counselling that young, gifted and "never mind their colour" (that's for the PC people out there!) people get along the way, can steer them to a life of advantage, or can lead them, in the worst of cases, to frustration and possible ruin.

For example, the regime created and maintained by Sir Alex Ferguson while Beckham, Scholes, Giggs & the Nevilles were all coming through the ranks strikes me as having been particularly successful. There was club support for them and one presumes, the families, in the form of advice and maybe even the occasional kick up the backside for a few of them. It didn't do then any harm as they've all gone on to achieve brilliant careers and, as far as I know, stable and successful lives outside of football.

There are of course examples of it going wrong too. Gazza and George Best being high profile cases in point.

However, those whose lives are long-term success stories seem NOT to focus on the money they were paid, or the status they enjoy by publicly flouting their "celebrity" status or their ""do you know who I am" attitudes.

Flashing cash in Yarm bars or acting like they and their kind own the world - or the attitude that has the likes of Jonathan Woodgate "making gifts" of £100 to an Academy lad (who's mother was subsequently done for possession and intent to supply!) (all in the public domain) doesn't do anything for either their own development, their public image or the image of football.

And adherence to such attitudes and values will only increase the rifts between the game and many supporters.

So, "Mrs Cattermole", as you purport to be, and I most certainly doubt that you are:

If your aspirant footballing prodigy genuinely wants to succeed in life, more broadly than as a footballer - as a man - perhaps it would be more appropriate if you would coach him on a set of values that is more aligned and focused on the contribution that he can make to MFC, and to the community, rather than emphasising what it is that he takes from it!

John Powls said:

Captain K

Dead right. I was just beginning to think Gate was moving in the right direction with the three leaving and rubbishing the Smith rumour.

Made Pogo captain - well earned - and said that he wants to get the new recruits in early and improve fitness and discipline. All great.

But if he thinks Turnbull is ready or that Brad Jones will ever be ready to step up to replace Skippy full time then he's taken leave of his senses.

I was also sorry that he seemed to say Boro wouldn't be going after Robinson from Spurs.

**AV writes: Don't you think it could be "mind games" to either put pressure on Schwarzer or the agents/current employers of prospective alternative keepers?

Ian Gill said:

Captain K

It isnt too long ago that some bloggers were telling us that Schwarz should be dropped and replaced by Jones.

In my view he is more like Corporal Jones than a goalkeeper. Every time I saw him he commited some blunder or other - rushing off his line against Nuneaton and missing the ball, standing still at the Baggies as the ball rolled by trying to catch the snail it was chasing.

Schwarz has made his share of blunders but we have had good service out of him and it is time to move on. Like many I think Robinson would be a good move as long as he doesnt replace Rocky at Greggs counter.

Captain K said:

My concerns over the goalkeeping situation are that Robinson is available so why not try and sign him, rather than keep Schwarz for another season and have a headache trying to replace him.....

long term vision is whats required GS

John Powls said:

AV

**AV writes: Don't you think it could be "mind games" to either put pressure on Schwarzer or the agents/current employers of prospective alternative keepers?

**JP writes: No.


Well, to explain more, if that was the schtick then the line would have to be credible.

Schwarz, for certain, knows it isn't and so does anyone who has ever seen Brad Jones play (including other goalies/agents) or anyone who has read most of your recent blogs where you've waxed lyrical!

malc said:

Mrs Cattermole- all this talk of bank balances doesn't exactly make it easy to like the lad with boasts of his wealth.

Pat Mc,Dubai said:

Regarding the debate over the virtues of Lee Cattermole. The fact is, he hasn't been the same player since the boo boys got to him.

The same treatment destroyed James Morrison's Boro career. He burst on to the Boro scene with innocent and fearless attacking play. One disastrous game spelt the end for young Morrison, that being the appalling team performance when we lost at home to a hapless Sunderland side two seasons ago.

I was in the South stand when Morrison tried a speculative shot from outside the box, which went into row Z behind the Mackems fans. Typical exuberant young lad thinking he could score from anywhere.

Unbelievably, the crowd booed an 18 year old local lad doing his best. I witnessed, at close quarters, his whole demeanour shrink as his confidence was shot to pieces. I swear he was never the same player since. He was afraid to express himself.

I believe Catt is suffering from the same effect, emphasised by his sense of 'freedom' whilst playing for England.

I think it unfair to judge him until he is given a lengthy run in the first team (alongside Sidwell?), then maybe we will see the best of him, if the boo-boys behave themselves, and we may save a fortune in the process.

It seems he has plenty of admirers in the football world, including Stuart Pierce and probably Fabio Capello.

Given our obvious need for central midfielders, I would not be happy if Cattermole moved on, was given a fair chance, and became a regular PL player with a rival team (but I would be happy for the lad himself). That would be a very poor reflection on our club and our fans.

Malc said:

Vic,

Richard's post on Cattermole and a lack of values was superb. Don't bother posting mine as I look intellectually redundant or just plain lazy. David Morrison spoke well on the subject too.

Now, lets go for Sidwell and Paul Robinson. Jones and Schwarzer must go.


Richard said:

Malc:

You managed to say, in one succinct sentence, everything I did! I just like the sound of my own keyboard!

Your point is well made and straight down the middle chum. Wish I could do that!

PS. Don't EVER trust AV NOT to publish your posts! He's got a mind of his own - so I've discovered! (And so have you!)

Keep doin' it!

Neil M said:

I'll be doing the garden tomorrow. I can't bear to watch the FA Cup final thinking we could have easy been there. I'm still gutted. This will go down in history as "the Cardiff season". I hope they do it then at least we went out to the eventual winners.

New topic now please AV.

**AV writes: Yeah, maybe I'll write something tomorrow. I've been taking a few days off to let the dust settle and recharge the emotional batteries. That said, you all seem to be getting on well enough talking among yourselves.

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Maybe Cattermole needs a run in a championship side next season if we have enough midfielders come the window closing.

Isnt Huddleston another holding midfielder with hardly any pace? I am not against signing the robust player with a good range of passing etc. as long as he doesnt become a Newboulds gold card holder with Mido once he arrives.

I know Ramos has had those lads on diets , so I guess thats his natural physique ?

Only when Southgate acts will I stop prattling on about an ATTACKING MIDFIELDER WITH PACE to link up with the forwards. It seems obvious to me, the only player we cant really comment about in the squad is Shawky as he hasnt had a run in the team despite a great performance at Pompy - although I am sure Mrs.Cat will maybe rightly say Lee has not had a run in the team either.

Today I will watch a bit of the cup final and like everyone else after the demolition of city will be thinking it should be ours. But that is the attitude that lost us the game against Cardiff so all in all I think I am over it now and I dont really care who wins.

What a disjointed season we have had, Southgate has claimed he will try and get the players in early so as to benefit from a full pre season.

I hope so Gareth!

Captain K said:

PS, see the Cardiff keeper had what I referred to as a "Bad Jones Moment" TM for Pompey's goal

And I really should write this essay I have been putting off for ages now, 1500 words more and I finish Uni forever!

*raises arms*

Any jobs going at Gazette HQ AV?

**AV writes: I believe we do have a vacancy. Is your degree in tea-making?

Captain K said:

Ha Ha, yes, and politics and media studies!

**AV writes: You sound over qualified.

John Powls said:

Milner's a good idea, whether or not O'Neil goes.

Sidwell would be good too but, as ever, we seem to be moving too slowly to capture him.

Forget Huddlestone - the last thing we need is another lumbering midfielder with a tendency to lard who thinks he can pass. Just got rid of one. Pace and drive is what is needed - along with the ability to pick a pass.

Scary that Gate thinks that we can buy young players for the first team squad and 'develop them at Hurworth'.

All the evidence is that the only development at Hurworth is done by Dave Parnaby at The Academy. Once they've got into the clutches of what passes for our first team coaches and 'fitness' coaches the only directions are backwards or downwards.

Change the backroom staff and we may have a chance to improve our play and bring on the talent. If not, forget it.

Talking about going backwards or downwards wasn't it nice to see Simba saying he had no regrets over his time at Boro. Well, that makes one of you, pal.

tim from sa said:

Earlier post says Southgates signings have been poor.

O neil played out of position but puts in ninety minutes.

Alves i bet a few managers were wondering where the scouts were when he was available after two gems against Man U.

Young has been the buy of the season

Mido maybe a mistake has not played enough to judge started very well.

Tuncs and Ally both great buys on the whole most have been to the benefit of the club.

Woodgate we got our money back no problem.

BoroPhil said:

Typical that some people can put a negative spin on Gareth's comments about bringing young players in and developing them. This is definitely sonmething we should encourage.

Huddlestone could well be the answer to the holding role in the middle, but we'd still need someone to be more advanced - unless Gareth is looking to give Arca that chance at the start of next season.

Never Happy said:

So the Scousers are now being linked with Downing.

Scousers value Stewy at £12m but have the audacity to value Crouch at £15m. GS should tell them we we only give them Stewy for a staright swop for Torres

C'mon Boro!

Ian Gill said:

Here is a horrible thought. Huddlestone in and Downing off to Liverpool! Arrghhh.

Huddlestone will eventually move to centre back which is more suited to his build and style. He would not be the solution to our need for pace and a box to box midfielder.

The Downing rumour is a second option for Lpool if they wont ante up the £18m that Villa want.

Both of these are only the start of the rumour mill and must be treated with caution.

AV and Captain K

From what my son said, formation drinking was a compulsory module at Uni. As he only left last summer surely this is still the case? He never mentioned tea making.

BoroPhil said:

Downing to Liverpool is a worrying link. If the interest was serious, I think Downing would be quite right to be interested and we would be wrong to stand in his way. For the right money of course, £15m at the very least.

London-based Boro fan said:

"BoroPhil wrote...

Downing to Liverpool is a worrying link. If the interest was serious, I think Downing would be quite right to be interested and we would be wrong to stand in his way. For the right money of course, £15m at the very least."

But would he be right to consider going from being a big fish in the relatively small Boro pool to being a relatively small fish in the Liverpool? ;)

John Powls said:

BoroPhil

I don't argue with Gate's comments about wanting to bring in younger players and develop them. He's right.

All I was saying was there would need to be a major uplift in coaching for the first team squad before that sort of investment would make sense.

Maybe that's coming. I am most heartened that the comments that many of us on here have made about 'the curse of Hurworth' and the performance of the 'fitness' coaches seem to have chimed with what Gate was thinking.

On the club website today his comments are very encouraging as are the actions he is putting in place.

BoroPhil said:

JP - I've never seen the Boro coaches or fitness staff in action so I'm unable to comment on their level of competence. I assume that Gareth and Gibson would have more expertise in the area of deciding whether the coaching staff are any good so I back their judgement.

London-based Boro fan - No, Downing probably wouldn't be better off - but I wouldn't blame him if he wanted to find out.

Nigel said:

The Downing to Liverpool rumour is a good reflection of his excellent form this season. Up until now he has only ever been seriously linked with Spurs, now its a champions league club! Of course if he went to Liverpool he'd be an automatic shoe in for the England left winger spot!

Others post its a worrying development, why worry? This is the silly season, I doubt he'll leave but if he does we'll have £15m in the bank and Adam Johnson on the wing.

As ever GS is talking a lot of sense, bringing in young players and perhaps giving Ross Turnbull a chance are great ideas. He also clearly thinks he can reduce the level of injuries we suffer from, so good news there too.

Having reduced the 'foreign legion' by three though hopefully he'll make it four and ship Brad Jones out, with all due respect to the guy we all know and have said he's not good enough.

I see that parliament is voting today on embryo research so there is still a chance of my idea of a cloned Graham Souness in midfield may come to fruition!

Ian Gill said:

The Downing for Liverpool rumour is an obvious concern. Liverpool have previous with enticing players, we have enough experience of it without recourse to the blatant leaking of information about Barry.

They are a different kettle of fish to Spurs with the lure of champions league football. How he would take to being rotated is another matter, Rafa is the only person in football with his own website devoted to management - fantasyrafa.com - where people have to guess his line up every week.

The other concern is the fact Liverpool tend to be a defensive line up heavily reliant on long balls into the channels for Torres with Gerrard linking up. Downing may not fit into that set up

Werdermouth said:

Although Gareth Southgate appears publicly to be playing down the importance of this transfer window, I think he realises it is a critical point for Boro now.

We’ve been moaning for the last couple of years that we didn’t build on Eindhoven, but I think GS has finally moved on most of the players he’s wanted to and is ready to finalise his squad.

It’s vital that Boro show some early intent in the transfer market in order to create a momentum that will encourage other ‘harder to get’ targets – 2 good early signings could decide whether 2 ‘spectaculars’ come as well.

I think the move for Milner is a good one and I’ve also been touting Sidwell for a couple of months now - This would then allow Southgate to allow O’Neil to head south.

I would also move out Mido as I don’t think he’s going to play an important role for Boro – then make a bid for Crouch with the offer of a regular starting place with Alves and service from Downing and Milner.

Regarding the goalkeeper, Schwarzer’s time is over, his ‘make me an offer I can’t refuse’ just emphasises that he needs us more than we need him – Robinson would be a more than adequate replacement.

All this would give us a hungry group of proven up-and-coming English players with a complement of overseas flair and promising academy players to push for places.

So does that sound like a squad that could challenge for a top 6 place?

Richard said:

Nigel:

Even better than you imagine - Souness Mark II could have four legs!

John Powls said:

BoroPhil

No, I haven't seen the fitness coaches in action either. What I have seen, like all of is, and can judge is the outcome of what they do - and don't do - on the field and in the condition of the players in general fitness, injuries and injury recovery.

I know Tony Black has views, some personal experience and his own expertise to fall back on and has often waxed lyrical on the topic.

Gate clearly agrees and is going to do something about it - good for him. Glad you back his judgement.

London-based Boro fan said:

Been meaning to ask: anyone know whether MFC has any plans to release a DVD of the "Citeh" match? The title would be simple enough: "8-1" & I, for one, could be persuaded to part with some hard-earned cash & invest in a copy!

P.S. Now that the rumoured bid for Alan Smith rumour has been officially dismissed by GS himself, please add my name to the list of those pleading for Jones to be shipped out & a new shot-stopper brought in as a full-time replacement for Schwarz (pleased to see that I wasn't the only one speculating on the desirability of buying Ali Al Habsi after he effectively won the game for Bolton at The Riverside!)!

Nigel said:

Richard - Souness with four legs? Presumably he removed the other two from an opponent!

DAVE CONNOR said:

Great to hear a name from the past Souness, what about Armstrong and Murdoch... now that was a midfield.
Ah memories, but great players who gave there all.

Ian Gill said:

Not overjoyed by the prospect of Alves going to the olympics.

I can understand him wanting to do so but it seems a bit harsh that top clubs will refuse to let their players go. That then puts unfair pressure on clubs like ours with players on the fringe of the Brazilean national team.

They will be desperate to go and do well to enhance their future chances. I would be hard pushed to deny him the opportunity to go to the olympics.

We need a solid pre season with our best players present. It takes no stretch of the imagination to see him coming back injured and not just missing the first three matches but a couple of months. Even if he comes back fit we will be rejigging the team.

Far from satisfactory but that is the penalty of bringing in overseas players.

Richard said:

Sorry everyone! I know this is not really the place for raising matters concerning Manchester United, but does anyone else see the resemblance of the main photo on the following linked web page, to mild-mannered Clark Kent?

He might be quick, but "faster than a speeding bullet"?

Next time - get the Kryptonite out!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/default.stm

I wonder of the hairstyle is intentionally cultivated! It wouldnt somehow surprise me! Egos abound on that particular Daily Planet!

Never Happy said:

On the MFC website Stewy is talking about next season with the Boro. Does not sound like he has any intentions of leaving.

Maybe his agent will need to devise a new plan to earn his cut of any transfer fee.

C'Mon Boro!

Nigel said:

I agree with Ian, the prospect of Alves playing at the Olympics doesn't fill me with joy.

It will disrupt his and the teams' pre-season prep. as well as leaving us without him for the first few matches, which are so important in setting the tone for the season.

tonyblack said:

A new fitness coach!!! Better late than never and if it's true a massive, massive step in the right direction if Gates gets someone really good in.

Alves to the Olympics is understandable for him to want to do it but I'm gutted as it just means more chance of a bad start to the season. It isn't what you want to hear after just avoiding relegation by one game.

Transfers? How about the Italian lad at Siena who's got 13 goals and Siena's record goal tally for goals in their top flight league - LOL!

TB

Nigel said:

I read on the BBC website that Joey Barton has been jailed for six months for assault. Maybe I'm being cynical, but presumably with good behaviour he'll be out in three months, that three months just happens to coincide with the 'close' season.

So he'll miss pre-season, and be playing for the Barcodes again by the end of September. It just seems like too much of a coincidence to me that his jail term coincides with the summer break.

**AV writes: He will be out in time for pre-season training. Guilty plea, good behaviour, spent the last six months in behavioral therapy... he'll be out in six weeks.

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

.. Tonyblack

I think you are right about Maccarone and we could have done with him for all of the season not just the start. Three diving headers late on to beat Cardiff followed by 3 more in the final.

Its no joke, the lad has proved himself in Serie A with 14 goals, I think its 15 as there is a pen missing from the list.

I cant see anyone coming in for Mido on this seasons form, so I hope he gets himself fit and makes use of himself .

The fans will love him if he produces for us.Keep of the pie and pint diet , hopefully the new fitness coach will do the job!

Ian Gill said:

I believe Joey Barton is also due to appear in court over the alleged assault on his Citeh team mate, Ousmane Dabo, last May. Previous good behaviour will no doubt be taken into account.

He is obviously a troubled young man, in some ways he is lucky that many of the other players who got into scrapes have left Toon for pastures new. The thoughts of Bowyer, Bellamy et al and Barton together is frightening.

Nigel said:

Joey Barton '....out in six weeks' I'm not going to comment on the length of the sentence, this isn't the place but the timing is disgraceful.

Ian Gill states Barton is a troubled young man which is undoubtedly true, as are all the other young men who resort to violence etc. They don't get priveliged treatment though do they?

**AV writes: Of course not, you need to be very rich and be able to afford the best lawyers then have a compelling reason through your employment to have your legal matters scheduled so sympathetically.

Ian Gill said:

Nigel (and AV)

I have a sneaking suspicion that even if Barton is found guilty of the next offence the sentence be such that he will be in pre season training with the rest of the squad.

As you rightly say there are many troubled young men, few will get the counselling and advice that Barton will and have received through the PFA and Sporting Chance.

One doubts they will be so leniently treated either but luckily I have no experience of the courts so cannot claim to be an expert.

Never Happy said:

Sidwell to Villa this week?

It will be interesting to see if this materialises, after reading GSs comments that we will have to be patient before we sign any new players.

C'Mon Boro!

Geoff said:

Captain K with reference to Bad Jones, I watch most reserve games and everytime four of us pick up on the same things.

1) he flaps at corners

2) no control of his box.

3) at 26 if he is not ready by now when will he be ??? If he is the best we have got then all I can say is help.

AV I'm good at tea making how much do you pay?

**AV writes: We pay? I think you misunderstand the arrangement we had in mind.

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