Angry - But No Time For A Mob

By Anthony Vickers on Sep 23, 09 10:09 AM

WAS only half joking when I suggested the Gazette should have a "angry mob special" with free pitch-fork and burning torch for every reader.

In the wake of the shocking on-the-field implosion there was bound to be a passionate backlash from furious fans left shell-shocked by the debacle. Naturally as tempers boiled over there have been renewed demands for Gareth Southgate's head and servers crashed as the message boards went into hyperbolic overload.

But put down the crude effigy and the rocks. Extinguish the fuse on the Molotov cocktail. Now is not the time to storm the Riverside Stadium.

Distraught supporters are steaming and rightly so. Brittle Boro capitulated with alarming ease after leaking two killer goals in 12 first half minutes then were given an embarrassing runaround by the only team to finish below them in the Premier League last year. That has got to hurt.

Boro disintegrated in their first real psychological test. They lacked shape, spirit, passion, pride and any semblance of coherent team structure as they descended into disarray and crashed to a damaging 5-0 defeat that dented those early euphoric hopes that promotion would be a formality. And that is hard to take too.

Having rashly built our hopes up with a string of polished performances it was a real size eleven square in the teeth. Let's be blunt: Boro were rubbish. It was probably the worst home display, and after the big build up certainly the biggest disappointment, since the catastrophic Cardiff City quarter-final cup crash.

So the furious reaction from fans as we crawl from the wreckage is understandable. And predictable. The stakes this season are so high that the impact of any set-back will be magnified ten fold, more so as the finishing line looms.

But predictable too because, as discussed at length on here before, there are a large and dedicated anti-Southgate faction who are perpetually simmering just below the trigger point for spontaneous combustion. For them the Baggies battering set off a chain reaction that ended with an explosion of emotions suppressed since the start of the season by Boro's bright start and has them screaming in triumphant vindication.

We knew from before the big kick-off that each and every defeat would be a political stick to beat him with and would recruit new layers of dissidents. They have been handed a Godsend of an early branch and will not waste the chance to wield it.

But back-dated vitriol bubbling to the surface violently now shouldn't cloud the reality of the table nor be allowed to de-rail what is still very much a realistic promotion push.
Internecine squabbling right now over sacking the manager would be a ludicrous and damaging distraction in what is the most important league campaign in decades.

If Boro don't get back up this season then the finances will really bite, the few remaining crown jewels will be sold off and we face the prospect of being locked at this level for the foreseeable future. Or even slip back further, who knows.

It would be strategically stupid to change managers now - and politically disruptive and unrealistic to press for it. If Steve Gibson was going to axe Southgate he would have done it last January when there was still hope or in May when relegation was confirmed. He didn't. He stuck by his man and has given the strongest possible signals that that position will not change so long as Boro in with a shout in the promotion race.

Gibson is a full fledged stubborn Teessider. He wasn't swayed by last term' record run of 13 awayday defeats nor by the powerless slow motion slide towards the drop so he is not going to panic now away one defeat when the team are third in the table.

And that is the reality. Yes, Boro were monstered and it was embarrassing - but it was just one defeat. We don't get disqualified from the league.

Boro slipped back to third but are still well placed to push for a swift return to the big time.
The team is still the one that ground out a 3-1 win over Ipswich - a team bossed by a man who many of the antis would prefer because he has a scary scowl and shouts at his players till they cry. And it is the same team who last week had the fans purring as they came from behind to rip open Sheffield Wednesday.

In fact it isn't the same team. It is that team plus two new current Irish internationals added in defence and up front in Sean St Ledger and caleb Folan, players yet to bed in but who can only add to the strength of the squad.

Be honest, at the start of the season if we had been offered 16 points from the first eight games we would have snatched it.

Two points a game is a fantastic average and 14 goals from that is a good return.
The team - and Southgate - are probably ahead of the expectations of all bar the most wild-eyed ra-ra fringe... and certainly ahead of the dark warnings of a relegation spot and Leeds/Charltonesque plunge issued by the doom-mongers.

We were clinically taken apart by West Brom - but maybe that is no surprise. While Boro have been ruthlessly filleted of Premier League first team regulars from last term Albion have kept most of theirs.

The Championship so far has demonstrated that last season's relegated trio are clearly a cut above. In an ordinary division their superior quality, fitness and technique has shone through in games. And while Boro may struggle against evenly matched Albion and Newcastle that is only two teams - there are 21 others to play who have nowhere near the resources we do and that is where the battle will be won or lost.

Bar the Albion game, a stuttering opener against Sheffield United and a 20 minute spell at Bristol City Boro have generally played well, pressing high up the pitch at an impressive tempo, closing quickly, passing crisply and defending well. There are some good signs there that the team, while still lacking experience, bodies and real teeth up front, has developed some steel and spirit.

So, despite the short term sting of Saturday, Boro's trend is still forward and upwards. We are far from out of it. Ask the bookies. Even after the Albion hammering Southgate's side are still strong third favourites.

And no matter how painful the defeat was, it is far from a knock-out blow. In Boro's last two campaigns in this tier they have suffered real thumpings and still gone on to secure promotion comfortably.

In 1997/98 - the Merson year when Boro were the biggest spenders in the division by far - they were crushed 4-0 at eventual champions Forest then four days later were thrashed 5-0 at QPR but bounced back with a 6-0 mauling of Swindon. And in 1994-95, Robbo's first fairytale season Boro were shot down 5-1 at Luton but bounced back.

It is the bouncing back that is important. Boro need to respond in style at Coventry of Saturday and win to put the season back on track. prop up morale and head off revolt.
If they don't win the next home game against Leicester will be a powder keg.

Not ideal when many in the crowd will be carrying torches.

***The above is a remix of the Big Picture column as part of my enhanced service for those living outside Steve Gibson's five mile magic circle of Greater Gazetteshire.


"I STILL Love Boro, me...." Steve Gibson speaks exclusively in the Gazette today about Gareth Southgate's future, the club's finances, why he won't be selling the crown jewels and how he still has a burning ambition for success.

You can read part one here.

And here's part two.


Smogonthetyne said:

Cheers for the added detail AV. As SG mentions we turned down bids for Wheater and Johnson. Can you put any flesh on these bones?

Just reading some of the posts of the last few days, we have to go up. Should promotion not be achieved I can see the fan base splintering. A new club would rise up and play in Flavio Briatore’s Euro League. Great.

C’mon Boro.

redcartim said:

I have read the first part of SG's interview. Just a re-hash of the Radio Tees interview as far as I am concerned. I think SG does care and does want the club to get promoted. AV, will the second part tomorrow say anything we have not heard already since relegation?

Another article today was Colin Cooper's. It is a real eye-opener (or not) - I cannot believe how clueless our management team are. Does this mean another set of lessons to learn, how dare Zola/Di Matteo have more knowledge of football management!

I'd like to be positve, honestly, but I am incapable at the moment....I think I will have to accept that under this management we will be a sub-standard football club.

brentford Boro said:

Good God man, have you ever considered a career as propagandist for a totalitarian regime!? Never read such apologist gush in a long time. Well not since here last season.

Practically speaking, Boro do not have a manager. The good performances have been due to a sprinkling of Premier League talent that the poor teams we have beaten simply could not cope with. We never looked organised or well drilled. The minute a decent team roll up, they roll us over. And the idea that we are in a Big Three is rubbish. We have to play teams in the six or seven places beneath us yet and have not got results against the three good teams we have played.

It's not a point of people being belligerently anti-Southgate. I do not care if he stays or goes, it's not personal. What I do want is a good manager at Boro. In three years he has not shown the slightest sign of being well disposed to the job. Every element of management has stumped him and anyone who does not admit that is either too ignorant, too nice or too timid.

I could sit and make a list of previous managers good and bad points. With Southgate, I honestly cannot think of single good thing he has achieved, even if we believe the propaganda about the particularly difficult position he was put in financially, which always conveniently ignores the Alves signing. He may have been in a tough position (I don't think he was in comparison to half the Premier League) but he has never risen to the challenge.

**AV writes: It is not about being an apologist. It is about assessing the balance of political forces at and around the club. So long as Steve Gibson is backing his boss -and he has given every indication that he is stubbornly doing that no matter what the disaffected fans say nor how many their number - then agitating against the boss is pointless, and worst, disruptive.

As I have said from long before the season started the real struggle this season is not on the pitch (Boro should be good enough to be get a promotion place at least because of the relative quality of the squad). The real struggle is keeping a fractured fanbase together, to prevent a civil war.

It is quite clear that EVERY defeat, and most draws will see fans at each others' throats again with the battlelines already drawn. By my reckoning 35-40% of the fans are overtly and determinedly against Southgate with maybe a similar number having major doubts. Keeping winning and staying in the promotion chase to keep the waverers onside is the club's only hope of heading off outright revolt.

There are now significant numbers of fans who actively want Boro to lose because they hope it will end Southgate's reign. Personally I can't get my head around that. If wanting Boro to win - and thinking they can- makes me an apologist, so be it.

InSfax said:

Just read part 1 of the Gibson chronicles. Whilst stopping short of "blind faith" it's nothing new. Keeping the home grown crown jewels is a bit rich though considering the list that could be compiled to beat him with.... Still, we should support him in what he's attempting to do in these trying times.

Come on you Reds (insert Cyans when applicable).

Neil, Marton said:

C'cmon AV, you cant compare the west brom game to the 4-0 v Forest and 5-0 QPR - that was down to Dibble and Robson said so.

This was much much worse and just highlighted a poor manager and a poor team. All the other games just papered over the cracks.

We are wasting our time with Southgate in charge and change is needed, albeit still far too late but better late than never

Ernie Oglesby said:

The most damning indictment of mismanagement at the club is the consistent weakness of central midfield which has been allowed to go on for years.


You need a midfield to control the game, feed and support the strikers. This is why we scored no goals last year, why every striker we ever sign end sup being rubbish as they are starved of service and give up. We see loan signings for defenders, strikers, but the weakness in midfield remains untackled (pardon pun).

Werdermouth said:

Sorry, but all I hear when I read the latest offering from Steve Gibson is yet more political spin - it doesn't enlighten me any further nor does it galvanise me into thinking this guy really knows what he's doing.

He says "The thinking football fan, and we have a lot of them here at Middlesbrough, understand what we are trying to achieve."

How nicely patronising of you Mr Gibson, but the problem is not knowing WHAT but HOW you plan to achieve this goal - as our previous method of gaining relative success was achieved by outspending our closest rivals on transfers and wages, which is now no longer the plan.

You could quite easily argue, given all the money spent, that we only had one good year in ten and not one bad year - not to mention a fair slice of luck.

If as you say AV that around 40% of fans are overtly anti-Southgate, then how many do you think are overtly pro-Southgate against those who are just indifferent.

If Southgate is deemed the source of the division then surely he should go rather than see the club split down the middle - afterall on what basis does he deserve to stay other than by the owners patronage.

**AV writes: I think very few are actively pro-Southgate in the way that even at the height of the anti-McClaren movement there were always people ready to articulate a positive defence of his footballing approach and tactics.

But I think a lot (it is hard to put a figure on it because they are far less vocal) who either back the manager ex officio, or back Steve Gibson's judgement as a default, or even possibly are not that vexed by it and just go to the game come what may. That group may be 40% too. Who knows. After a couple of wins it seems quite high but after days like Saturday it becomes less visible.

That is why the waverers are the important ones. Like the couple of thousand voters in key marginals at general elections they can swing the balance in terms of public opinion and consensus... but unlike that case, this is not an exercise in democracy.

The only vote that counts at Boro is the top man and he is still very much behind his manager. Therein lies the political problem. Gibson is convinced Southgate can get Boro back up and that he buys into the new prudent perspective. Only results as the season unfolds can decide one way or the other if he is right on that.

I think the situation is clouded by the past too. Under McClaren there was a mass movemnet that argued the football was dross, his PR was poor, we were locked in a spiral of decline and crowds were collapsing as a result - but Gibbo went into bloody-minded Park End mode to insist his man was staying and Boro went on to win the Carling Cup, record a highest ever Prem place and get to the UEFA Cup final. Who is going to tell him he is wrong now when last time he feels he was vindicated?

Smogonthetyne said:

AV sorry to pester but who did we turn down bids from for Wheater and Johnno? If they from a club of any size could the players be asking to talk to them in January (not to mention Johnsons contract ending)

**AV writes: I don't think specific clubs have ever been named but we know at least two top flight clubs who had problems in central defence in early August.

mark_76 said:

The only reason I will stop following the Boro is not to do with SG or GS. Its the fans I have to sit next or whinge all the time on here. It holds us back. They actively want failure and cant stand success.

What do they want? Let's be honest, what have we ever been as a club? Non achievers. One trophy and longest spell in the top flight just gone.

The ability to turn everything into a negetive kills me. People are entitled to their opinion but if it you're that unhappy just dont go. Follow a glory team. Because nothing has changed at Boro since I staretd following Boro in 85 as a young un. We are a team who will punch above our weight do well now and then and let us down now and then in equal measure.

You had thought the world had ended oh no we are in third and look in good shape to do well in this average league.


Werdermouth said:

AV, This democracy lark is all greek to me but if getting the best out of meagre resources is the plan then a manager with a track record of doing so would surely be the road to go down.

If there's one consistent thing about Gibson then it's his bloody-mindedness, but surely his history of backing managers beyond their sell-by-date has not proved him right - Robson was sneaked out of the back door after being baled out by Tel and I'm sure the FA's hands were snapped off whilst still holding the compensation package (unless SG believed attempting to come back from three 3-0 defeats to win the UEFA cup was part of a McClaren's masterplan)

Neil M said:

People keep on demanding that Steve Gibson comes out and speaks publicly and then when he does they slag him and say it is spin, nothing new and insulting their intelligence.

Really, what do they expect him to say? Do they think he is going to put the boot into Southgate, rip the players to bit and say that the gold course has been a disaster then offer the club to the highest bidder?

What do they want him to say? Sorry? For what? Delivering 15 years of a Golden Age then running out of money? And then trying to sort out the finances as best as he can?

Unless Gibbo comes out as says "yes, I agree with scoredraw and Bernie" and forms a lynch mob to string up Southgate and Lambie in the centre-circle they will never be happy.

Redcar Red said:

Surely when things are in a mess in any given situation people look to their Leadership to provide direction and lead the way to the Promised land (or insert Premiership). More "Blind Faith" spin and hype just isn't going to cut it any more.

SG needs to give informative, factual and intelligent direction otherwise "The Peasants are revolting!" which ever way he looks at it.

Nobody expects him to part the River Tees at Stockton to allow the Mackems to escape back to their beloved Boro but grant us with a bit of wit and intelligence please.

Nobody wants to be a downer on the club, nobody (perhaps excluding Scoredraw) wants us to actually get beat but too many people have been pointing out the errors and inadequacies for far too long now and those points keep coming back again and again giving the Slavenista's the pitchforks and the torches as per the above illustration!

The fact that we are supposed to be content because we haven't as yet done a Leeds or a Charlton just cements the frustration and anger. Just a few Premiership months ago a home tie against the Baggies (no disrespect to them) would have been viewed as a "three pointer", now we are supposed to view them as akin to Barcelona.

Just how far would we have slipped if the Slavenista's hadn't started to complain over two years ago? As well as stubborness would we have had complacency as well?

Lord Ken of Portrack said:

AV Caleb Folan's loan deal was delayed so that he would be available for the game against Newcastle in December.

Is he still available now that the game has been moved to Sunday 20th December?

**AV writes: Good question. I will ask.

Werdermouth said:

Neil M, I think you're are missing the point - Steve Gibson doesn't actually have anything to say because he's got no plan on how Boro are going to get back into the PL and compete with the other eight or nine clubs without mega-riches.

All he's saying is be patient and have faith because I too would like to be back in the PL - we are not in the Championship because he ran out of money as there's no evidence to show he has put money personally into the club. The club has just spent its PL money badly and the banks will no longer allow us to operate with an unsustainable debt.

I know many people regard Gibson as a saint but he has been living off 1986 kudos and Boro having a bit of luck (as you need to) in a couple of good cup runs for quite a while now - Our league finishes have only once been in the top ten and the entertainment on offer has been on the whole dire for about eight years.

As with all leaders that have been around for a while I think he's run out steam and lacks any coherent vision of how to get the club moving forward - plus I would say his judgement of managers is not his strongest suit.

The problem is that there is no obvious alternative to SG but that doesn't stop me having a view on the situation - or indeed wanting Boro to do well.

John Powls said:

Have you been Gibbo-ed, AV? It's a lot like being Tango-ed, only redder!

If the revelations aren't in the next chapters of the Gazette's exclusive then there's nothing more from Gibbo than we had in 'blind faith' - but I didn't expect anything else. What else could he say?

Seriously, there's a lot in what you say above, of course.

But there are some things that would make all the difference to this season - in other words, make us serious contenders for a top two finish and not just amongst best of the rest and a play off spot - if that's what is seriously intended, taking Gibbo at his word.

Ernie's absolutely right about the central midfielder and also about why that lack hasn't been addressed. It could be addresssed by a loaner now. We're also short of the 'leader on the pitch'. If that could be the midfielder, so much the better - but still needed, if not.

If Folan doesn't turn out after he's had his chance then we should cut our losses and send him back rather than sign him up whatever he does. He can then be replaced. With Coyne retained in goal that would stiffen the spine of the team in more ways than one.

I, too, was somewhat taken aback by the naivete of the Coops interview - but I suppose I shouldn't have been.

Even if the coaches were capable of fathoming 'playing the West Brom way', without the experienced and stiffened spine I described above and the leader on the pitch Boro haven't the players to deliver it.

I still believe that Boro would be better off and more likely to succeed in a top two finish with a changed manager, back room and boot room but I know we're not going to get that - short of the sort of sustained disaster that none of us want.

I think that the existing incumbents - with all the existing players - can get us to the play-offs. But that's as far as it goes. So, if we get to the play-offs as we are, we wouldn't get promoted that way.

If we keep the incumbents and the sacred cows and GO'N get sacrificed in January then we can forget play-offs too.

Smogonthetyne said:

AV could do with a bit of help. What’s a ra-ra? A Foam hander is that Johnny cum lately? I think I maybe one of these

Ian Gill said:

Powls beat me too it, I was going to suggest some aftersun if AV's face was too red after basking in Gibbo's glow.

What is true is that if Gibbo sacks Gate then it will mean we are in a bit of a mess, far worse than a defeat at the hands of the Baggies.

I have read Coops article and have come up with a masterplan to cope with similar situations. Pass to a red shirt.

The weakness in central midfield has been aired before in this very medium. Denuding central midfield with replacements was a gamble waiting to fail, sorry it wasn't a gamble because there is always a chance of success whatever the odds in a gamble.

What we cannot do is rip the club apart to try and get gate out. As I said above we will be in a mess if Gibbo sacks him. Who will then come in with a squad in trouble and no money to change it? Which experienced, succesful manager will come in those circumstances?

If they are promised and given a war chest then Gibbo will open himself up for ridicule and abuse for misleading and letting the fans down. For all his faults - I do not class stubborness in a fellow Teessider as a fault but an inalienable birthright - I do not think Gibbo would go through the misery like the rest of us just to keep money back.

As I said in a previous post remember ManU last year. Bottom of the top four league but won the title by beating the beatable teams. It is still possible for us but the evidence makes it unlikely.

Play offs look likely but hard work. But no booing from me, nor will I but hoping we lose. By the same token turn out dross like last Saturday and expect a kicking

Gary said:

It seems that the Southgate debate will go on and on with a win providing him a brief respite and a defeat resulting in demands for his instant dismissal. All parties (on this board) have stated their positions and are determined to stick with them.

If Gibson isn't willing to publicly state his own mid-season criteria for success, (and I don't blame him for not publicising it as long as both he & Southgate know it privately) then I suggest we make our own. How about Boro in top 4 at Christmas? If we're there we're still on course for promotion, if not, Southgate has to go to allow a manger to come in and do something during the January Window.

I realise that we actually have no say in this, but setting objectives, if only for the purpose of this board, allows all to measure success without being swayed too much by single results, good or bad.

Until then we support the team, enjoy the wins, contemplate the defeats and discuss the games as football matches rather than using them to justify our oft stated entrenched positions.

Come on Boro!!

CHRIS said:

The question is if we get promoted would we honestly be able to stay up?

I seriously doubt it as i think we only really have a few players of genuine premiership quality i.e Johnson, Wheater, O'neil the rest i feel are mediocre. Therefore we would have to spend money I feel we don't have as I can't see us having the fighting qualities such as a Stoke to stay up or a management team who can gain points through tactical masterstokes.

This is just a thought and i wonder what others fans think.

Another splendid piece of contentious journalism AV, this one is bound to get the debaters juices flowing.

I find it quite interesting that SG has taken this week in particular to come out from behind the PR screen to defend his principles. No one doubts his loyalty to all that is MFC, but why does it have to take a debacle of a home game to wind him up.

He could have come out and said all this after two 3-1 wins on the bounce. I have to agree to earlier postings however, that this is just a re-spin of his Radio Brownlee speech. But then again, what else can he say, he is hanged if he does or hanged if he dosen't.

The blind faith he has in the current management team is quite incredible. I have to agree to the earlier comment with regards to Colin Cooper's article about Zola and Di Matteo. Supporters with any ounce of football knowledge must be left wondering what our lot actually do know. Quite incredulous to say the least.

Perhaps it is time for Alan Smith to step forward and take a more hands on role at this club..... Another avenue of debate.

**AV writes: To clarify things, Gibson spoke to Phil Tallentire long before the West Brom game. Phil grabbed him during the Save Our Steel at the Ipswich match but we agreed to hold it back so it did not detract from the political message.

Nigel said:

Up the Boro!!
Keep the (blind) faith.....

deka said:

I wonder how Bruce Rioch would have handled it Coops? I don't think for a minute he would have tread carefully so as not to upset all you young lads. Mind you he was a proper manager,and its a long time since we had one of them.

As for gibbo's interview, it seems to me the same as the pre-season gee-up,the blind faith in Southgate is as far as I am concerned totally misplaced,a return to the prem is a long way off ,and as for the sacred cows, read...Morrison...Cattermole...Downing.

Malc said:

Good post, Vic. I agree with your sentiments.

Grove Hill wallah said:

Stuart Pearce, successful with young players.

Possible new manager? You never know!

Stevo said:

Brentford Boro said,

''Practically speaking, Boro do not have a manager. The good performances have been due to a sprinkling of Premier League talent that the poor teams we have beaten simply could not cope with. We never looked organised or well drilled. The minute a decent team roll up, they roll us over.''


''What I do want is a good manager at Boro. In three years he has not shown the slightest sign of being well disposed to the job. Every element of management has stumped him and anyone who does not admit that is either too ignorant, too nice or too timid.''

The most honest and accurate wording ever written on this blog.

Forever Dormo said:

In the background on the TV I can hear discussion about Gordon Brown's speech to the UN. I suspect we need the UN Peace Envoy to get Scoredraw and Brisbane Phil together for a quiet chat, on the basis that all weapons of mass destruction are left outside.

Obviously it would be better if we were all rowing the boat in the same direction, but is is possible to have a debate about the route to be taken without ending up fighting on the rocks.

I think the bottom line is that an experienced manager with some nous, and an ability to motivate, would have kept us in the PL, even without money to spend (though only 17 months before relegation we spent nearly £13M on a centre-forward, so clearly there was SOME money there). How many Emile Heskeys or Crouches would that have bought ? And, even though they may not be "prolific" surely they would have both scored more and made more goals than Alves and/or Marlon King did.

But we don't have that experienced manager, so we will have to get behind the team and the backroom staff we have. Certainly while the team is playing - though I accept it is not unreasonable to have and to express doubts about the backroom staff and how things are going, and to give vent to those feelings after the game and in blogs.

We can still do well and get promoted from this league. However that means the management will have to "learn the lessons" without delay, and get the most from the players on the field. Really that must start now.

Not to put too fine a point on it, even though GS may have started out as a management virgin 3 years ago, in that time university students with no prior knowledge of a subject can qualify with a first class degree (eg in Law or Medicine). It would be nice to think our backroom staff has got beyond its GCSEs. Now in his fourth season, GS should be starting on a postgraduate qualification (off to Law School, or a doctorate?).

And finally I think there was reference early on the last thread to some posters on this blog having gone missing, just as the Riverside crowd was diminishing. TB and Richard got a mention. Richard certainly returned with a bang (some might say an avalanche) in an attempt to steal away the much sought-after 100 prize. I bet he was a goal-poaching striker as a young lad - no running around the pitch but loitering upfield, until the ball arrived in the area, then whilst almost offside, giving a sly flick of the foot to turn in the winner from one yard out.

It's all about getting into the right positions. I'll bet on the training pitch that is his office, Richard regularly hits the woodwork, and gets there or thereabouts even if "100" sometimes eludes him. But unlike Alves, he also frequently ruffled the net. An e-mail Brian Clough or Jimmy Greaves of our time.

Heworth Smoggy said:

There is a lot to like and admire about Steve Gibson. There is no doubt whatsoever that the last 10 years have been easily the most successful of the club’s history and there have been many highs along the way; most notably a first major trophy and two seasons in Europe including a European final. Dreamland stuff during the barren eighties.

Listening to the chairman doesn’t make me angry but it does make me sad. I fear that ultimately Gibson’s legacy will be one of ‘squandered opportunities’. It has been good but just how great might it have been if he had entrusted the management of the team, just once, to a really good manager.

Robson was a disaster whose inadequacies were masked by the power of the Gibson millions. Look at his track record once he left Boro and nobody would touch him with a bargepole now (excepting the Thai FA apparently).

McClaren at least came close to realising the potential of the Gibson largesse but was never popular due to the perma smile and negative tactics. Southgate, unfortunately, is the worst of the lot. Three years of decline, a team that couldn’t score, Robson’s feat of relegating a Gibson funded team emulated and his ineptitude continually exposed whenever his credibility is tested.

We may never have had a Capello or a Wenger, maybe not even an O’Neill, although he was clearly interested, but we could have attracted someone of Moyes calibre like a Hodgson or a Hughes. I even convinced myself during the summer that I would wake up to the news that Steve Coppell had been appointed as Boro Manager or, at the very least, in the consultant Alan Smith role. But no, on we continue up the road to nowhere.

Just consider what could have been achieved had the Gibson spending power (at least in the early days) been married with the acumen of a proven manager. I am convinced we would have enjoyed success well beyond that achieved during McClaren’s reign. Even now, this season, I am sure we are good enough to go back up if only we were being properly led.

Rookie managers has become policy. We can speculate as to why this is; my own theory is that Gibson simply can’t face working with a manager that might want to influence the way the club is run. He fell out with McClaren who was the only one with the nous to make such demands. Gibson has been lauded in the industry for his loyalty to the men he appointed. But when it is patently not working it smells like 'blind faith'. Funny that.

Steve Gibson’s governance of the club has shown us the promised land but his stubbornness in recruiting, and then refusing to sack, inept managers has prevented us getting there.

Typical Boro really.

Gutted!! said:

"Gibson is a full fledged stubborn Teessider" - unlike the people of Stockton who are Mackems?!! Has Gibson ever apologised for that comment? See he wants the town and the surrounding areas to get behind the club..... Sunderland?

I really think Boro should have promotions for every home game this season if they don't want to see empty seats.

John Bowman said:

Can I start by quoting a comment from Mansfield4Boro5 in response to Steve Gibson's 'Roar us to Promotion' plea?


"Steve Gibson was quoted as saying:

" we want people’s patience and we would hope that what we have achieved in the last 10 years hasn’t been forgotten about because we’ve had one bad year."

"I'm afraid that this statement demonstrates how remote Steve and probably KL/GS have become from the fans. Most fans, I believe, would say that the club has been on a downward trend since Einhoven and that's three years. What Steve has, so far, failed to get across is what he has done to arrest the trend.

"The 'thinking football fans', he refers to, expect more than 'blind faith'. Anything else would insult their intelligence. So come on Steve tell us all what changes have been made to improve the product."


It seems that Mansfield has hit the nail on the head by inferring that Communications from the club are still poor.

At no point has Steve Gibson come out and told the fans what HE has done to arrest the post-Eindhoven decline. We have had a lot of insubstantial waffle instead. Human nature being what it is, people will be led to assume that he has done nothing and that the fans face more of the same.

Come on Steve, be open. After relegation you promised a thorough investigation of what went wrong. Why not build bridges with the fans by sharing the results of that investigation and tell us about the actions which have been taken to sustainably improve performance? As a stakeholder in the business, I feel I have a right to know.

Tosh said:

Does this mean another set of lessons to learn, how dare Zola/Di Matteo have more knowledge of football management!

An observation well made by redcartim. How incredibly ironic is this crass comment by Colin Cooper in the context of Steve Gibson's apparent baffling xenophobia; eg "Germany on the Tees" and other unexplained nonsense that has eminated from Gibson's gormeless gob in recent times.

The other infamous quote in context of the foreign influence/element, came just before the Southgate appontment and after the promise of a "managerial appointment from the top drawer"

It went something like this - We don't want a foreigner as the manager because British managers understand the P.L. better. Did this completely irrational thought process develop immediately after he repulsed Otto and his merry band and their attempted putsch at the Riverside.

Just for the record,at the time if of this ill informed, irrational outburst, 5 of the top 6 in the P.L. were managed by foreigners. And of course since then Fabio Capello has completely transformed the fortunes of our national team.

These unintelligent utterances and the appalling performance on the Tees radio interview convinced me more than ever that he, ( in the words of taunting terrace tune), doesn't know what he's doing.

The discussions about our squad and their various credentials and potential for delivering success this season are futile because the Southgate regime has seen off many a quality player only to be replaced by inferior quality.

It's the manager, stupid! Whilst we are saddled with this millstone, we are on the road to nowhere. How much more evidence is needed before people grasp this simple truism.

I hate to see the debate on our fall from grace being reduced to one of emotive personalisation; Im anti-Southgate me like, just like when I was anti-Robbo.

Im a Southgate supporter me like, and if you criticise him you are "stabbing him in the back" - and by extension "the best chairman in football."

No we're not. We just want the best for our beloved football club because we know we can, and should have done much better.

We want some leadership, direction and inspiration from Steve Gibson, not empty headed patronising, platitudes, that effectively reflect a massive u turn in philosophy from the hubris of onwards and upwards, watch us go version, to a non can do, small town in Teesside, excusing failure indocrination: which is designed to cover up and excuse major failure.

Clive Hurren said:

Ernie Oglesby: "The most damning indictment of mismanagement at the club is the consistent weakness of central midfield which has been allowed to go on for years."

Whilst this is undoubtedly a serious indictment, it's not in my view the most damning one. That has to be the all-too-frequent lack of fight and passion we see from Southgate's teams, the lack of "get-stuck-in", full on commitment.

We saw it far too many times last season, and went down with a whimper as a result. Most teams facing relegation scrap for everything; we rarely did. I'm scarred for life by the atrociously pathetic performance I saw at Bolton, and there were too many others.

And we saw exactly the same issues against the Baggies on Saturday. The squad may be good enough for promotion, but have we got the bottle? Will Iain Duncan Smith be able to rally the troops often enough to get us up for the fight?

For proud, stubborn Teessiders raised on Mogga, McAndrew, Jack Charlton, Souness, Rioch, Andy Townsend and George Boateng, this simply isn't good enough. We need our Boro to play with passion and, appropriately, STEEL. I remain to be convinced that Southgate can deliver that.

Now may not be the time to rock the boat, AV, but most of us would feel a little less seasick if we had confidence in the skipper.

Brisbane Phil said:

Dormo -

though you could hear Gordon Brown, I bet you weren't listening!!! On your other comment, I'll accept any peace envoy who turns up with a carton of beers !

So here's my reality position.... If we have 20+points when i get back from me hols (Oct 6th) then GS will be proving himself to be capeable, and his stay of execution will be extended (which might be forever if we keep in touch/in pole position)

BUT BUT BUT to keep the waverers onside for God's sake Gibbo if we lose the next two and have only 16 points after 10 games, then follow through with your rationale of "Promotion is everything" and get rid of this manager.

As I said before I think he had little bottle as a player (bottle is not stepping up for a penalty, it's scoring!) and he now has a team of players with no bottle. Lose and that is emphasised.

Win and redeem yourself Gareth. A very big week in Middlesbrough FC is upon us - let's all sing from the same hymn sheet. (and find some steel for midfield please)

Finally, scoredraw , hello are you out there somewhere? I thought this topic would have you smokin' by now!!

Guy Bailey said:

I am amazed by people like Mark_76 who blame the fans before the players, manager, coaches and executive staff.

Considering the utter Sierra Hotel Indigo Tango Echo we have had to sit through for the past three seasons (with added catastrophes like Cardiff and West Brom thrown in for free) - I'm amazed the support has held up as well as it had.

We have had precious little to cheer over this time and the "thinking football fans" that I agree with gibbo we have - are fearing for the future if we somehow scrape back into the EPL, some £30m poorer and a year behind the likes of Stoke, Bolton, Sunlan and the other alsorans who are cementing their places from 13th to 17th inclusively.

Put simply - you saw what West Brom did to us, what do you think Everton or West Ham would do? Take a good look around the Ricoh this saturday, especially at their bench because this is where we are heading, we are the new Coventry City and Southgate is already the new Chris Coleman.

That said, I'm a fair man and believe Gareth should have a chance. Promotion this season takes us back to where we were when he took over, now all he has to do is win an FA Cup Final to make up for the Cardiff debacle and I'll call us equal.

Ernie Oglesby said:

Clive, midfield is where the battles need to be won. I was brought up on Bobby Murdoch, Graeme Souness, David Armstrong, Mark Proctor, Craig Johnston. They were all battlers, and they could all play a bit.

We've minced around with a variety of players in midfield since, but rarely of the same calibre. Since we let Hignett go, who have we had of a similar nature? Emerson was allowed to implode, and Juninho was a one-horse band.Merson couldn't stand being around Gazza, and Carbone wasn't retained.

The club has since preferred utility players, journeymen, jack of all trades (master of none) in the middle of the field. The current preference is to play defenders in midfield, leaving proper midfielder like Walker on the bench. We have had no playmakers for years.

We have had ONE WINGER, whom McClaren was FORCED to play. Then Johnson came along but unfortunately played in the same position. Morrison was the nearest thing we had to a right winger, but the club sold him.

Boateng was bought to add steel to the middle, if little in the way of distribution, but age caught up with him. Cattermole should have been a straightforward replacement, but weak management couldn't discipline him, and he was also sold by the club.

Rochemback was over the hill and only played in patches. Mendieta was over the hill and only had one good game for us. Arca was bought as a defender, and has only had a couple of adequate games in midfield-the rest of the time he's too slow and gives too many fouls away.

All these players aren't good enough. Look at any successful team. They have strong midfields, while ours just gets walked over. Apart from Johnson, and occasionally Yeats, we have few outlets to our striker. It's always punts out of defence, rather than through balls for our strikers.

Good teams have a solid spine, from keep to forward. Our team is spineless, in every sense of the word.

**AV writes: To clarify things, Gibson spoke to Phil Tallentire long before the West Brom game. Phil grabbed him during the Save Our Steel at the Ipswich match but we agreed to hold it back so it did not detract from the political message.

Thanks for the enlightenment AV. Coincidences can have strange outcomes and I think in this case, it has probably had a negative affect on SG. Good for the EG and your Blog though !

John Bowm,an said:

Oh, dear. I fear we might be in for another Mackemgate. Just read in today's Gazette that:

"Explaining why he felt the need to embark on such an ambitious project (Rockliffe Hall), the chairman said: “Because we’re Middlesbrough Football Club, because we represent the town, which has 120-125,000 people.

"Because of that, we were the most under-resourced club in the Premier League, and that includes Wigan, Blackburn, Bolton and we’ve got to punch above our weight, we know that."

According to Wikipedia, Teesside has a population of around 365000. If I lived in, say, Ingleby Barwick, I'd wonder why the club felt it didn't represent me and, by extension, why they thought I should support the club. The danger is that this narrow (almost xenophobic) view can easily alienate a significant chunk (around 65%) of the local fan base. Given how tight resources are that's not a risk I would want to take.

My guess is that this was an off the cuff comment but given how tetchy fans are the club really should try to be more sensitive.

**AV writes: In his interview with Ali Brownlee Gibbo said there were 135,000 in Middlesbrough. Oh no! We've lost 6,000 off the gate and 10,000 off the population since May! And they're not stepping foot back inside the five mile magic circle so long as Southgate is in charge.

Ian Gill said:


A minor quibble about the Gibson stories. Whilst I understand the material came from a conversation with Phil, would it have been possible to present in a single piece rather than having separate pieces. It just makes it difficult to get a feel for the content in its entirety and context.

**AV writes: I might agree with you but that would be running counter to the prevailing trends in the world of newspaper layout and design.

redcartim said:

Just read the second installment and it must just be the transcript from the Radio Tees interview. More under-resourced than Blackburn, Wigan et al, GS still learning and has been brave. The last one made me chuckle.

So nothing new and what now, do we wait for the next installement of papering over the cracks at Coventry on Saturday?

The club are still being small minded, it grinds on me that the club still see themselves as a small town in europe but I think this is old ground.

I think the main issue now is that a change of the management team is needed. As far as I can see no real changes have been made at the club since relegation, Crosby out Smith in. However even if we fail with the promotion bid, I fear there will be no change.

Craig said:

From all the posts on here the underlying thing is that we are all Boro fans. Whether we are ranting at the club or part of the foam handed ra-ra brigade the club is in our blood, born out of a passion that everyone outside the Teesside area - not the 5 mile Riverside radius previously quoted by our chairman - is against us.... the opposition, the national press and tv.

So for so called fans to come on here and to be wanting the Boro to lose matches in order to hopefully achieve their ultimate goal for them to get a new manager/owner whoever else in to take charge is totally alien. (Before anyone starts thinking I support GS I don't).

Surely it doesn't matter whether we live locally and go to every game or we live on the other side of the world like Brisbane Phil who attend as and when he is back in the UK. (Would happily meet up in the Navigation next time your over by the way Phil as I am also from Doggie, used to live in Thornton St.) Its our love of Boro that counts, not wanting them to fail. Does anyone agree/disagree.

John Bowman said:

AV, this may be slightly off topic but a few years ago I worked for a large local company who had the luxury of their own PR department. Obviously, their main job was to protect and project the preferred image of the company but they had one person to see how the company was perceived by its customers and other stakeholders.

This involved, amongst other things, trawling the media (TV, radio, local press etc) for comments and views. Findings were precis'd and included in the weekly directors report and, where relevant, used to tune PR output.

Many of the posts here and Gazette Boro News Comments suggest that club communications are a major issue so I'm wondering if this sort of thing happens at MFC? Or are the triumvirate blissfully unaware of prevailing views? Based on their ability to wind up, at least, a section of the fans I fear the latter. Any ideas?

**AV writes: My understanding is that members of the PR department do take the temperature here and in other places and that the key points are digested, written up and passed on to the powers that be.

Ian Gill said:


What trends are these? I take it you mean having things suitably dumbed down in the belief more than a couple of paragraphs is beyond our attention span.

I suppose MFC sunbscribe to the same ethos in their PR in the vain hope we will forget what they said previously. Or more worringly they cant remember what they said before.

**AV writes: There is market research that people only 'graze' in newspapers and read the first four paragraphs but I'm not sure that really applies to sport where every word is deconstructed and analysed to destruction.

It is more about the current design trend to spread a feature over two pages, use several pictures of different sizes and shapes, bring one part of the text out into a separate box (often in a different colour) and use multiple headlines in different sizes and fonts. The point is to make it it more visually arresting and break it into easy to digest chunks. The text has to fit around all the bits of page furniture and so it is easier to split it in a rational geometry. Look at all those TV and celebrity magazines that make your retinas bleed. That's the shape of things to come.

I have been resisting it on my column because I believe that readers are bright enough and focussed enough to read 2,000 words (some of them big ones) of a coherent argument without needing a little factfile in a box at the side to remind them exactly what the point was. I'm old fashioned like that.

Grove Hill wallah said:

**AV writes: I might agree with you but that would be running counter to the prevailing trends in the world of newspaper layout and design. "

Plus, the more page clicks the better the advertising revenue.

**AV writes: How cynical. I refer the honorable gentleman to my previous answer.

Forever Dormo said:

AV - concerning your response to Ian Gill at 2.18pm - I am with you. I HATE the splitting up of articles, the putting of some text in little boxes and the various tricks you mentioned.

I just want to read the article, whether it comprises a list of facts or amounts to comment or a debating position. I don't have a problem with the odd photo, but then again I have a rough idea what SG, KL, GS and most of the players look like. Goodness! Another photo of a pensive/worried/angry/happy manager standing on the touchline (jacket on one week, jacket off the next, but invariably with his smart shirt and tie)...

Actually I also hate the way newspapers top and tail match reports - though maybe this is diminishing these days. If I watch a film, watch or listen to a play or read a book, I prefer to go through the action chronologically, starting at the beginning and going through to the end. That really is the best way to tell a story.

I accept a sentence or two at the top might be needed to set the scene, and a summary at the end, before any comment part of the story, whether it is positive or critical.

Didn't it used to be the best advice to make sure the readers knew who, what, when and - if possible - how and why (ie give us the facts)? We don't need comics.

Some of us are adults out here who can read books, even ones with long words in them! In fact look at the size of the various volumes of closely packed text (without photos) in the Harry Potter series of novels. They sold in enormous numbers to YOUNG readers as well as old, so it isn't just adults who are happy to read longer articles without the "tricks".

**AV writes: At least we haven't gone down the route of TV yet where simple explanations of what happened are not enough and some form of "dramatic reconstruction" is needed. Or inane comment from a celebrity.

deka said:

It seems SG has total belief in the ability of GS to ressurect our club, Where this belief stems from is a mystery to me. I do believe that GS is a truly honest and thoroughly decent guy ,and i am sure he thinks he is doing as good a job as he can with whats available.

I also believe that SG has not grasped what all the fuss is about, We all like GS as a bloke but thousands can see he is lost on tactical and motivational ideas. We have had 11 years of rookie managers Mr Gibson.

And we live in a catchment area of over 400,000 - a hell of a lot more than Blackburn, Wigan et please do not insult our intelligence any further. We need action from the top not more rhetoric...remember Steve you thought Robbo was going to take us to the top,and we all know what happened there. Southgate for THAILAND.

scoredraw said:

Doesn't Steve Gibson talk some rubbish for a St Mary's College boy ?

To be honest I stopped reading and listening to him last year. Yeah we know we are not as rich as Chelsea, don't have the world wide support of Man utd. Yeah we know it's a small town for christ sake ! We live here ! (except for Brisbane Phil, Billy Berk, BakuTony .... and all the others on the run)

But what we have got that all those clubs don't have is : soft fans, a stubborn (vain?) chairman and a rubbish manager.

It might be bit painful for some of you to want the other team win but surely last year for the last 30 games you picked an opposing player when you were doing your 1st player to score lucky 15 ? Don't tell me you picked King?, Aliadiare ??

All together now Come on you ..........Bl.......

Join the bed wetting, foaming, whingeing , unhappy , angry non -attenders !!

Jarkko said:

I cannot see the comments about papering the cracks. That only one game means all and the other results don't matter. Come on - only the next few games will show where we are. Still 38 games to play and we are third!

Secondly, I feel that the role of a soccer manager is greatly exaggerated. I think the players are more responsible for a performance on a match day and the whole club heararcy for signings, etc. Don't think B Clough would make a successful manager in modern day - ask Mark Proctor!

Let's concentrate on the next two or three matches. I trust we know more then. And please support the Boro team in between.

Up the Boro!

ChrisMarton said:

The bottom line is, whether we like it or not, you cannot run a, even relatively, successful football club in this day age with people like Steve Gibson, and, even more so, Keith Lamb, in control - regardless of who the manager is!

steve h said:

If I was Steve Gibson, I would stop giving interviews. Little, off the cuff phrases, get blown up out of all proportion and disected on the internet for months afterwards. The real message gets ignored.

The reason we got relegated last season was because we didn't score enough goals. The defence was as good as the previous seasons. We actually created more chances than the season before.

The reason we didn't score enough goals was because of the attitudes of Mido and Alves. If they had given anywhere near the return of investment, then we would have finished comfortably mid table.

Since we were relegated, Steve Gibson has steadied the ship. We have a squad full of young local talent that can challenge for promotion. At the same time we have offloaded the mercenaries, cut the wage bill and recieved about £30 million in transfer fees.

We are now financially rock solid and are one of the favourites for promotion back to the Premiership. Give him some credit for achieving that!

Clive Hurren said:


I enjoyed your response to my post, mate. It was entirely rational and hit a number of spots very precisely. Interesting that a number of the midfielders you quote since Hignett have been high quality creative players, and you're absolutely right that we have missed that kind of player in midfield for some time.

Tuncay might have come close if he'd been used properly. GON is about the closest we've come for ages, and he's not that creative, is he? Interesting too that the players / managers I quoted were all the hard-men type, ball-winners, get-stuck-in merchants.

We're both right of course; we absolutely do need flair in midfield, but we also need to be much more in your face and far less prone to lying down when the going gets tough, as it surely will in the Champo before too long. Your description of us as "spineless in every sense of the word" is brilliant.

AV:- Never mind all the latest trends! Please keep the column just the way it is. And I bet I'm not the only one to think so.

Holgate Ender said:

I like the idea of the gazette sports team doing 'dramatic reconstructions'. You should scrap Uncle Eric's wooden video clips on Monday after the game and instead you, him and Tallentire could recreate the key moments. A Gazette Pheonicx From The Flames.

**AV writes: I've seen them both play. We'll have no problem recreating missed sitters.

Forever Dormo said:

Jarko at 8.05pm - Brian Clough would have made a good manager at ANY time, not just now. That's because, although he may not have had a lengthy formal education, he had intelligence and an understanding of the psychology needed to get the best out of players.

There is no doubt he would have adapted so as to do whatever was needed in any era. The same could be said of Herbert Chapman and Alex Ferguson and, maybe in a while, we might say the same about Mourinho and a certain England manager.

Ernie Oglesby said:

Boro's attitude to paying over the odds for over the hill players, has been their downfall.

How many of such players has actually earned their money at Boro?

The reason Charlton's team was so successful was partially because it was full of good players playing in their rightful positions, a good mix of youth and experience, and also they had the determination to go out there and win games that the media didn't want us to win. They gave it a go in every game they played. They were consistent. They also had a no-nonsense manager, who commanded the respect of the players.

We need those sort of players again, ones who will go out onto the pitch with the determination to WIN the game, not just turn up to earn their money. Mental attitudes are just as important as skill.

We still have too many players at the club who don't fit that profile. We need to get rid of a lot more, and replace them with the type of players we do need.

We need to offload (if we can) Arca, Emnes, Aliadiere, Digard (unless he proves his fitness) and Shawky (why is this man still here when he is refusing to play for the club? Why are we still paying his wages?).

We need steel, skill and passion throughout the team. Anyone who can't provide such input needs to go and go quickly.

Werdermouth said:

Steve H, Can we actually give Steve Gibson credit for selling off the so called mercenaries?

From what I understand Mido and Alves made it very clear that they had no intention of playing for Boro again - Downing and Tuncay were granted their transfer requests last christmas whilst we were still in the PL if they stayed till the end of the season - Perhaps with only former captain Huth was a decision actually made.

But any decisions to cut the wage bill and generate income from transfers was not some choice made by some far-sighted individual - it was determined by the banks wanting their money back.

Get ready for more 'decisions' in January - If Johnson fails to extend his contract by then would Boro throw away several million pounds if some desperate PL club comes knocking? I think not as it would mean losing him for nothing and being forced to sell other players if Boro failed to get promoted.

AV, I wonder if you know the answer to this question, which always seems to be used by Boro fans as evidence of him being untouchable - is there any evidence to suggest Steve Gibson has given his personal wealth to MFC rather than just having acted as a loan guarantor?

**AV writes: I think in the early days, yes it was quite common for an unexpected bill to come in or a transfer target to be lined up and if the money wasn't in the pot then Gibson would write out a personal cheque for it. Obviously back then you were talking in 'just' tens or a few hundred thousand pounds.

Since then the game has stuck a couple of noughts on prices though and it is not practical to conduct business like that although for a spell much of the transfer spending power was funded by Bulkhaul in the form of 'loans' and whichever way you look at it, that is coming indirectly from the same source. The money loaned could have been earning interest or invested elsewhere to reap dividends and no doubt his accountants were far from pleased at such crazy inefficiency.

The question of "loans" is an interesting one. Bulkhaul has loaned the MFC football division money at times but not in the sense that banks loans. These are interest free and have no redemption date or penalties. In effect they are gifts but for legal and accounting reasons they have to go down in the books as a 'loan' because where there is a debit somewhere else (ie in another Bulkhaul division) there has to be a credit somewhere, a forensic paper trail that adds up... otherwise corrupt businessmen could just gift profit out of a company to avoid tax.

Maybe an accountant on here could expand on that.

, and besides with the club now part of the Bulkhaul structure there are legal limits on how much money can be put

redcartim said:

There seems to be a lot of in-fighting between our fans at the moment on this board and on the article comments (anyone posted on them - it seems like an angry version of our debate).

Ok we all have different opinions and views on how the club should be run and taken forward but I don't think calling each other names and the like is a good use of energy.

AV, I will look forward to the re-creations of game incidents - can I suggest that West Brom's second goal is the first to be recreated. You could also carry them out in various locations - how about Redcar beach?

**AV writes: I think this has got legs. I'll suggest it.

John Powls said:

I'll be at Coventry for tomorrow's game.

I'm less than pleased - and even less confident than I might have been about the game - that Gate believes that the reaction to last Saturday's debacle was 'overboard' and that the team and dugout have 'learned the lesson'.

The only ray of light is that it looks like GO'N will play.

Now, if we can just keep The Corporal and Hoyte on the bench....

Andy (Hants) said:

Bore Draw; SG stretches it a bit but he still has a long way to go before he is in your league. My bet is you're one of those Stockton Mackems!

Jarkko said:

steve h at September 24, 2009 10:26 PM

You are just right. The line between failure and success is very small. In our case it was two strikers not succeeding in scoring. Really we could have finished mid table if either of Mido or Alves had scored a few more goals between them!

Jeremie Aliadiere has recovered from a hamstring problem and is expected to start against Coventry. Digard played last weekend but Gary O’Neil’s return will allow Southgate to rest the French midfielder at Coventry. So a near full squad - great!

Up the Boro!

scoredraw said:

My name is Scoredraw and I'm a non-attender.

During the night I had what can only described as a religious experience. From now on I will think only good thoughts about Gareth and the Boro.

To start with let's look at the positives of last Saturday:

We now know what it feels like to get a 'nailing' at home in the championship - an experience we had missed out on until then.

I have thought of something positive about Gareth - he doesn't swear (a vastly overrated virtue as far as I'm concerned but valued by the puritans of this blog)

Come on Gareth I've seen the light - I'm right behind you mate. Tomorrow is another day. Come on the Boro !!!

I've also decided to eat only celery (in various forms).

Ernie Oglesby said:

What's all this latest spin about Shawky? Apparently turned down a move to Sheffield Utd because he wants to remain on Teesside??

He has publicly come out and stated quite clearly that he does not want to play for Boro. Does he fancy a move to Hartlepool? It's about his level (sorry Pool fans).

As regards his Egyptian commitments, why are we allowing him to play for Egypt when he refuses to play for the club that pays his wages??

FFS Southgate, grow a pair! Fine him two weeks' wages EVERY week until he leaves or we've made out money back on him. We cannot let the club be held to ransom. Time to get tough and show the players who's boss.

John Powls said:

Presumably the grade A tosh about Shawky was some sort of response to a journo's question about 'where the hell is he?'.

It's clear that he isn't going to pull on a Boro shirt again and I don't know anyone who wants him to - and that must include evryone at Boro since he's been effectively excluded - and rightly so - from any involvement with the squad.

But is there any reason why he can't go out on a loaner pending his January move? If he isn't going to contribute then at least that would relieve us of at least some of his wages.

Andy (Hants) said:

Top draw Score Bore; I'm feeling the love shine through! Why not treat yourself to some oysters with that celery?

eskvalleyred said:

Sorry lads, but I have been away for three weeks, and I missed the transfer of Alves.
Is it true that we got 12 million euros for him? Can't believe it is true, but great news if confirmed.

Can anyone confirm/refute!

Up the BORO

**AV writes: Keith Lamb said £7m... and also agreed that he was the 'numpty' who paid £12m in the first place.

Transporter Bridge said:


Is there any truth in the rumours that Steve Gibson has resigned from Bulkhaul? I believe this happened in June. If true, does he remain a major shareholder and would we still be able to take advantage of future 'loan' finances through them?

**AV writes: My understanding is that he has resigned as a director as Bulkhaul's main UK holding companies as part of a corporate restructure and reduction of his personal exposure as he prepares to take a tax holiday in the Channel Islands but that he remains a director of the main international group and still very much the main man. I don't think it is anything sinister or even particularly unusual for very rich people to reshuffle their paper empires occasionally to reduce costs and take advantage of 'tax efficient' accounting methods.

Again, if there is an accountant on the board with a knowledge in cross national tax law mechanics, please elaborate.

Ian Gill said:

Steve H and Jarko

Alves and Mido certainly did not help our cause with their inability to contribute in the goals for column.

Alves problem was that he was almost like a goalkeeping coach knocking in shots for the keeper to save. Mido had other problems, he scored quite regularly when fit and playing but he wasnt there often enough mentally or physically.

We were in the bottom three because we were poor, it wasnt just the strikers.

What is true is that in many, many matches we had much less than 50% possession. We were incapable of controlling the football. In most of the matches the opposition had more shots than us, when you look at top finishers they score 1 in 4 chances at best (penalty takers aside)

We could mark zones but were useless at marking players.

Jarkko said:

BBC: "Despite their mauling against West Brom, Boro have still made their best start to a league season in 15 years."

Looking forward to Saturday. Up the Boro!

Kev B said:

Come on AV, please remove scoredraw from future blogs, because he really isn't adding anything to the ongoing debates, unless he changes real soon.

He doesn't even bother to go the game! Armchair fans really don't count in my book, (unless they are extradited and really cannot attend, those working hard away from home for instance)and he cannot even bring himself to use his own name, hiding behind a pseudonym. Shameful!

Simply throwing a few comments in designed to provoke are childish in the extreme. He should continue his contributions on some of the rather less intelligent blogs around!

**AV writes: I don't do bans and censorship unless people are repeatedly offensive to other posters or are persistently libellous even after warnings.

Although I think scoredraw is fast becoming a parody of himself I do believe he is actually representative of a significant section of the Boro support. There really are people (I know because they phone me and e-mail me) who are so enmeshed in their own personal anti-Southgate agenda that they sincerely believe it would be better for the club to lose games in the hope he will be sacked than to win them and be up there and chasing promotion.

Forever Dormo said:

I suggest for the next home game we put our resident Egyptian on the bench. Management can then tell him to go out and warm up at regular intervals. We can then BOO! as loudly as we can, so he knows in how much respect we hold him, for all the efforts he has shown throughout his lucrative contract.

How long would he hang around then? I understand in some societies "face" is counted very highly. We might find that he discovers a pressing need to go on loan (or be transferred) out of Europe. This could have benefits to our cashflow.

Forever Dormo said:

Ken B at 6.53pm - I quite enjoyed the last post by scoredraw at 10.55. Very amusing - although the surreal last sentence made the eyebrows go up. Even that sentence caused an intake of breath - my wife is allergic to celery (until I married her I hadn't realised that bland celery actually had a taste at all).

Just goes to show that "it takes all sorts".

scoredraw said:

"My name is scoredraw (scorebore) and I'm a non attender:"

That's it Kev B - I'm going to the match tomorrow. Where's that blue scarf ?

But seriously what a pitiful, shameful and cowardly attempt to prevent someone from having their say. You go against the spirit of blogs. You would like your own little blog with everyone agreeing with you - wouldn't you ? Well it ain't happening so get used to it. And don't be so pompous.

AV: Actually I would think that the overwhelming majority of Boro fans agree that Gareth has had a fair crack of the whip and should go.

I like Gareth Southgate - honestly! I suspect he's a decent bloke but he's had three years and I don't think he's made for management. It's not accurate to infer I am part of an eccentric bitter minority consumed with hate.

Andy (Hants) I prefer my oysters 'au naturelle' and with nothing on. And by the way there are no mackems in Grangetown, apparently it's something to do with the air.

**AV writes: I certainly never inferred you were part of an eccentric minority consumed with hate. In fact I said you were sincere. I have no doubt whatsoever that peopel who have taken your position have thought long and hard and genuinely believe it is for the good of the club. I think you are wrong but I would not question either your motivation or your right to your opinion and position.

And I'm not sure it is "an overwhelming majority." It is certainly a large minority - maybe more but it is hard to say. I have been actively trying to quantify it for a while now and I don't think it is clear cut at all. I think like the cat food ads it may be a majority of those "who express an opinion" - that is the message boards and phone-ins ... but I think those forums are a magnet for the disaffected at the best of times and a release value for frustration at the worst and not neccessarily representative of the wider fan base (at least, I hope not.) .

As I suggested before I think maybe 30-40% are consciously anti-Southgate and maybe the same figure again are waverers who have major doubts but who are prepared to be persuaded. The doubts weren't much in evidence after the Sheff Wed game but were hard to escape after West Brom so I think maybe that group will vaciliate wildly from week to week with results.

I think because we on here are so completely engaged with all thing Boro and maybe over analyse every twist and turn we sometimes forget that a signfificant section of the fanbase - which could easily be a third - are not so obsessively animated. It sounds crazy but there are some people out there who just see it as a game, something they enjoy on a Saturday, and which does not consume their life. For them a lot of things discussed on here are not even a factor.

John Bowman said:

**AV writes: There really are people (I know because they phone me and e-mail me) who are so enmeshed in their own personal anti-Southgate agenda that they sincerely believe it would be better for the club to lose games in the hope he will be sacked than to win them and be up there and chasing promotion."

Yeah, I also know a couple of long time supporters like that, both season ticket holders who should be the bedrock of support. They are absolutely convinced that Southgate will fail eventually so it's worth taking short term pain for longer term gain for their beloved Boro. I may not agree but can understand their views.

Smogonthetyne said:

Ah the last refuge of the scoundral. The wife has put 'Strictly' on. If we thought the Boro had a propensity to bore, disappoint and enrage this pile of cack takes the biscuit. But I like the voting.

Scoredraw. I like your energy, perspicacity and ability to provoke. But I have doubts that you really feel what you write. 5

Mark 76 and Mr Average for your pro Boro attitude and trying to unite Boro fans in these troubled times I must give you 7.

Ian Gill for your beautiful Foxtrot and elegant dress. 7. For a fellow East Midlander I was very proud .

AV, Poise, elegance and drama are all words I wish I could have used. However the ability to maintain order in the chaos . 7 Can do better.

Strictly Does Boro

Baldy Forsyth = Count Lamb, Uncomfortable to watch, unfunny and hard to believe anything he says

Tess Daly = Shawky ,wooden, unattractive best used as understudy to Josh Walker

Any others?

**AV writes: Insert your own Arca/John Sergeant joke here....

peterboroangel said:

The hand that feeds us is being biten more and more often.

Continue at your peril. One day soon Gibson might decide to call it a day, and I wouldn't blame him.

As the saying goes, 'you don't appreciate what you have 'til it's gone!'.

Steve said:

Dammed if you do, dammed if you don't !

SG was asked to make statements to the fans for several months and was cursed that he didn't. Soon as he opens his mouth the dogs are baying again.

He doesn't have to ask permission for every single thing he wants to do, but you'd think from some of the comments here that referendums are needed for everything. I don't agree with the decision to keep GS, I think if he'd been replaced last year we wouldn't have gone down and we certainly would have had a stronger squad but we are where we are now and there's games to be won.

The club has been on a roller coaster ride for 15 years, it's been great; be honest, we're a proud lot, stubborn as hell and we've been having a good time, all paid for on the credit card. None of us here pay the bills, we contribute to the income that's for sure with gate receipts and shirts, but it's not enough to exist on and it'd take an awful lot of shirts sales to pay a decent players wage for one week these days, possibly the profit from every single shirt would pay 1 week or maybe 1 month of Tuncay's wage. That's the reality. Life and football has changed and so the club must adapt.

As you say peterboroangel "Let's not bite the hand that feed us" ! Because we've been in worse positions most of the time the club has been in existence, time for some optimism, GS can't make a complete hash of things all the time can he ?

SG no longer has the financial muscle to enable us to complete to get into the top half of the PL, in fact there are very few clubs that can do it and the amount of billionaires lying around who can kick in 100million to move a club up a few places are few and far between. But the club has the foundations for the future, decent young players coming through, great stadium, excellent training facilities so I put my overall trust in SG - he wants what we want but his plan doesn't suit us all. I'd like to see him being more ruthless on the underachievers but we don't know what's going on behind the scenes.

This season will be more interesting than the last few, the standard is nowhere near the PL but what the hell, we'll win a few more games, winning away from home for a change, we'll be at the top end of the table and the players and fans will enjoy winning more than losing for a change. We might even enjoy not getting beat in the 4th or 5th minute of extra time by a Liverpool, ManU, Chelsea or Arsenal, after the 2 mins of extra time were up.

The PL had become predictably boring, and it's turned into the Scottish PL which was a joke. We can sit down at the beginning of the season and basically work out within a place or two where each club will be at the end.

So maybe we should just enjoy this season and start cheering the boys on.

As for the people who've been slagging BoroPhil - it's not easy heading for a pub at 3-4-5am on a Sunday morning to sit and watch a game with 20 other boro fans in Brisbane all moaning about getting beat as it was last year but we turned up week after week to do it. As much fun as beating your head against a brick wall but us sad buggers did it.

We're spread all around the world and many of us buy season tickets for our families so they can go even if we can't. But try watching a live internet stream on Iraqi TV at 3am so you can cheer on your home team ? That counts as being a supporter in my book and being born in Normanby and spending the best part of twenty years going to games home and away gives me just as much right to comment as anyone else. We do make pilgrimages home and they always coincide, amazingly, with the football season so we can catch a few games and buy some kit from the shop.

BTW unfortunately sitting next to a West Brom fan in the office in New Zealand this week was a miserable experience. The only good part was there's a Leeds fan next to me and think how miserable they've been recently !

The glass is half full...let's stop spitting the dummy.

david connor said:

In response to JOHND49. Is this sour grapes because I wrote against one of your comments previously "why would they want supporters like me?" Well let me tell you. i HAVE BOUGHT TICKETS FOR 50 YEARS and my father bought them for me as a child. I have given more money than you ever will to this club.

I have made donations to this club. I have given memrobililia to this club. So I have every right to say what I feel. I am not a rose coloured glasses supporter. I say it as it is. So in closing this comment board is for everybody to have their say. I will continue to have mine wether you like it or not.

Ian Gill said:


Has that John Powls spilled the beans about my frocks?

Now for Coventry City and a chance to put last weekend behind us. I for one am hoping for a win and if not that to avoid defeat.

There is no percentage in Gate failing because we will be in a mess that would force the decision to part company.

Who would then come in? It would be someone out of a job (normally for a reason) or another young manager who wanted to prove themselves. Probably with little money to spend, probably with more of our better players gone.

I dont facy that but must admit I am uncertain whether Gate will succeed at Boro. I am also concerned that whatever he does an element will be against him as it was with Robbo and Mac. The difference is that the vast majority actually like him.

scoredraw said:

My name is 'wor draw' and I'm a non-attender.

Get the gazette to commission a well constructed and well worded poll. One that is fair to Gareth.

1. "Do you think the Boro (club and fans) have been fair to Gareth" ? Y or N

2. "Do you think Gareth has done a good job in his 3 years as manager considering the circumstances" ? Y or N

3. "Will there be a queue in the Post Office" ? Y or N

Test your theory that you and those that agree with you, are part of a 'quiet' thoughtful majority and the others , let's call the them the 'Parodies' are just bunch of 'single interest loud lary yobs' It would only take 10 minutes even for your Web Monsters to knock up an online poll.

Don't be fooled by the fact that people are happy that the Boro have won.

If your intellect is nimble enough it is possible to be happy that the Boro are doing okay but know that things need to change.

If your intellect is sharp you can like Gareth but want him removed, respect Gibson even though he doesn't know what he's talking about and want the Boro to lose because it's good for them.

If your critical faculties are parked in the 1980's you'll curl up, pull the blanket over your head, go back to womb pretend that everything is okay "enjoy beating Scunthorpe ... relish a battle with Doncaster ... look forward to Gillingham away " and wish all these belligerent trouble makers would go away (to Old Trafford or Sunderland)

That Kev B has got a nerve, he thinks I'm out my depth , 'moi' ! The cheek of some of these posters. Thank God for his sake and mine I'm not sat next to him at the Riverside. He'd ask the stewards to eject me for not knowing the words to "Amazing Gareth".

If a poll was carried out, I believe we the 'non attending, foaming, bed wetters' would be expected to forget the fact that we are in the majority and accept that Steve Gibson has to have his own way. Based on my rich and colourful life experience that is not a recipe for harmony or success.

Come on Coventry - but I fancy Wheater to score first. Oh dear what to do ?

Redcar Red said:

I had to laugh at Smogonthetyne's post at 9.21pm last night.

How about Alesha as Gareth? More than a few ironic similarities in their respective roles!

Allan in Bahrain said:

I see we are on the Sat TV again - for those expats you can try the following link which shows all European and MENA broadcasts.

All you need is a dream box and an internet connection.

Suffice to say I shall try and watch it on one of the channels and yet again be a glutton for punishment, awaiting the "Boro Bounce Back"


uglybugly said:

been away from the blogs etc for a few days, gutted to find GS and SG still around and now spouting more rubbish. All the posts saying what a nice bloke GS is, take a hike. Who cares what he is like? It is his record on the pitch that matters and his record stinks.

The only thing saving GS's bacon at the moment is the fact that GON needed a hernia never got sold and is available till January, if he goes we are in trouble.

At the risk of repeating myself SG still isn't watching the same games as the fans , this is the man who was 'shocked' by relegation and thinks GS is STILL the right man for the job. It will be interesting to see what it will take for SG to sack GS,

All this rubbish about who would come here with the state the club is in blah blah any manager with drive and ambition will give his right arm to join a club with the set up we have in place.

Next two games could be crucial for the morale of the squad as GS is incapable of geeing them up. It may well be players like GON get us promoted in spite of GS and SG. Dread to think what would happen if we did get promoted.

Kev Bouttell said:

Well done Score draw I knew I could provoke a response! But you failed to spot my tongue very firmly in my cheek!

Actually, I understand exactly where you are coming from. I used to run a Boro website which was one of the very first, and very successful it was too! So I do understand both sides of the argument, and have done since before the www was born.

Today's scandalous throwing away of 2 points should inspire even further debate. Especially when we played so well for 80 mins or so....

Werdermouth said:

Before we move on, as like our former goal machine the games come thick and fast, I would like to thank AV for some interesting responses both to my post of 25 Sep and that of Transporter Bridge.

I think you're right, we do need an accountant to help us make sense of the financing of the club and what it actually means - I wonder if anybody at the Gazette has ever felt like writing a feature on this subject? Or perhaps it's just a too sensitive an issue to embark upon.

Behind the smog and mirrors used by accountants on behalf of their clients it becomes almost impossible to decide if the club is financial stable or not (after all the club's debts seemed to have shifted from £90m to £25m at the stroke of an accountants pen) - the lesson of the credit crunch was that it seems not even the directors in charge knew what their true financial state was as the complexity increased.

It seems particularly relevant to me that SG is no longer a director at the company that is usually cited as the source of 'loans' to MFC. Also what is a 'tax holiday'? I've looked on Teletext and I can't find any of these holidays on offer to the general public.

For me it's part of the contradiction of Steve Gibson - As well as being revered by many he is capable of upsetting large swathes of fans with ill-judged off-the-cuff comments.

How does a proud patriotic man like SG, with a strong sense of community spirit, square the circle of thinking that his semi-bankrupt country doesn't need his taxes at a time of rising unemployment and cutbacks?

Also, is it true when he says that the income from the Rockcliffe Hall project will prove greater than that provided by the supporters at the Riverside? I'm no expert but once the setup and running costs have been covered it sounds extremely optimistic that it will generate £10m a year for use by MFC. Plus does that imply that it's financed and owned by MFC, with the associated risks attached?

For many this will sound like I'm attempting to undermine our unquestionable benefactor but like I said before it's ultimately our club - I prefer to know the facts and judge people not on what they say but on what they actually do - plus I don't do the blind faith thing.

As Peterboroangel said, Steve Gibson might just decide to call it a day - if he does I'd prefer to know now how the clubs stands and not wait for any surprises later.

**AV writes: I think you are right there are ethical questions that come with big finance from just about any source - imagine if we were taken over by a mega-rich magnate from a despotic medieval theocracy for instance - but I think we have to bit the bullet on Gibson and assume that the tax efficient mechanics of his corporate structure do benefit himself personally (or why else run the business) but also acknowledge that they free up considerable funding for Boro.

If there has been an restructure - either enforced by the global economy or advised by his accountants - again, we have to accept that is something we are bound by. So long as the club is owned by one entity we are enmeshed in it.

There is no queue of billionaires waiting to buy Boro and take on the debts even if the club was for sale and the finances are beyond the means of a trust or any grassroots investment even at a peripheral level. So where to from here? Unless someone knows of a mug with £100m plus to spare and Boro in their blood Gibbo is the only show in town.

Whenever I have asked people who know about financial affairs and shown them Boro's accounts they have regarded them as entirely routine and the things that exercise supporter as perfectly normal business practice.

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