Losing The Battle For Hearts And Minds?

By Anthony Vickers on Oct 5, 10 11:00 AM

GORDON Strachan is losing the battle for the hearts and minds of Boro supporters.

Under pressure as his team struggles to overcome its "fundamental flaws," he has scored a PR own goal with his churlish 'take drugs and drink' quip that - whatever the intention - has handed frustrated fans a stick to beat him with.

As if they need another one!

Repeated routs on the road have left a season in which pre-season title favourites Boro were expected to deliver teetering on a knife-edge.

Despite the biggest summer spending in the Championship, Strachan has not arrested the slump in fortunes that began in the Premiership and saw Gareth Southgate's side slither through the trap door.

In fact, the same fatal flaws have been evident - and some dangerous new ones have been added in - while if anything, results have been worse.

And despite a decent return at home - only one defeat since Christmas in the league - a year of distinctly average, soul-sapping displays at the Riverside have prompted a massive crisis of faith, a collapse in confidence made unavoidablly visible by a steadily spreading rash of empty red seats.

The club seems gripped by a creeping paralysis. Belief is seeping away. Morale is at rock bottom. Doom-mongers and Chickenrunners now rule the roost and the once triumphant rose-tinted ra-ras are conspicuous by their absence. The airwaves, cyber-space and the underpass chuntering are all dominated by dissenters.

Even Boro's Foam Finger In Chief, Alistair Brownlee, is struggling to maintain his institutional upbeat optimism in the face of the relentless emotional erosion the fan base has been subjected to by an alarming four years of decline since Eindhoven.

The Premiership party is over, the star names have been flogged off in a desperate bid to balance the books and we find ourselves treading water in the Championship in a new age of austerity. The club has been in reverse for years and having slithered backwards to the square one of the mid-90s it feels as if it could just as easily keep going for another decade as accelerate confidently back up the table.

No wonder then that fans are nervous, tetchy and disillusioned and that confidence in the leadership, direction and stability of the club is more fragile than at any time since liquidation. It is a time of heightened sensitivities and raw nerves.

So against a turbulent backdrop coloured from a vivid palette of deep disappointment, broken dreams and bitter recriminations there is absolutely no room for comments which throw petrol on the flames.

And the last thing the manager needs is to hand another recruiting trump-card to the rapidly growing opposition.

Yet that is exactly what he is in danger of doing with his cultivated hostility to the media management side of the job.

And this at a time when the fans are crying out for inspirational leadership and a clear vision they can believe in.

Clearly Strachan is uncomfortable with the media side of the job and does not like cameras and microphones. You can appreciate that - but he has had 15 years in the dug-out to learn to deal with an aspect of management that there is no escaping from.

Even in the Championship there is the constant scrutiny of 24 hour sports TV, the club's own website, local and national press, cameras and radio and cyberspace too. Trial by exposure is something every manager must face.

Strachan's media persona is far from engaging. He himself admits he doesn't like what he sees on TV and you must have sympathy for anyone reluctantly thrust into the limelight . His body language is a shield of antagonistic bristling, there is little eye-contact and his replies rarely engage with the questions except on the most perfunctory level.

Given an opportunity he will duck or deflect a question or respond with a barbed
comment as part of his defence mechanism when under pressure. And to be fair he is far more relaxed and open when the microphones and cameras are off.

But customer relations, PR, marketing, "spinning" and salemanship are as much a part of modern management of the football "industry" as delivering on the pitch and he will be judged just as harshly on that as on performances. It is an area that can make or break a manager with the public.

And the post-match interview is key to that. Especially when it is given to the local radio. It is one of the few times he gets to speak directly to his own club's supporters unfiltered by a reporter's subjective opinion or the edit suite or a national hack's paper's agenda.

This key interview comes before people have read websites and newspapers or seen the blipvert highlights on the television that will soon create an indelible impression of the game. It is a chance to praise or criticise, explain or mitigate. It is a time to set a game in context or point out a key moment. It is an opportunity to shape the agenda.

A well articulated explanation of what has just happened can colour the tone of the post-match analysis in pubs and clubs, on the phone-in and across the blogosphere. It can buoy loyalists and help mobilise the waverers behind the team. It can sell tickets.

Not to take that opportunity is self-defeating. It is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

The post-match interview is about winning friends and influencing people; about creating a positive atmosphere around the club; about putting context on a result that will be otherwise twisted to suit the political agendas of the tabloid rumourati and the domestic knee-jerkers; and crucially at a time of falling crowds, it is about persuading the waverers sat at home to come next week.

Why would people be motivated to pay to watch the next game when the manager barks that he is "not interested" in explaining what has just happened? How could they be inspired to come back to the Riverside when the boss admits there is "something fuundamentally wrong" and that he doesn't know - or not prepared to say - what it is?

The post-match interview is a window on the world of the club and right now it isn't a particularly attractive view.

The manager - stood in full view in that shop window - comes across in various degrees over the weeks as disinterested, spiky, sarcastic, powerless, enigmatic, angry, rude, bullying, arrogant and evasive and at times it appears he is trying to take out his obvious frustrations out on the poor hapless soul asking the questions.

Now, you can say "ask better questions" but that is to miss the fundamental point of the post-match interview. It isn't about penetrating interrogation aimed at finding a deep philosophical insight into the psyche of the boss. It isn't Paxman grilling a cabinet minister on public policy. It is just a way of teeing him up for a free advert.

I don't understand why he thinks that is a confrontational situation. It isn't. It is a PR open goal he repeatedly spurns, preferring instead to be frosty, enigmatic or glib.

And I don't understand why it appears to be a personal duel between the manager and the reporter. It isn't. Generally the reporter probably couldn't care less what the Strachan thinks but just wants his interview on tape or on air before the deadline.

Ultimately the reporter is just holding the mic and giving the manager easy cues, and acting as a conduit for the public. And when the boss is rude or dismissive or abrupt to their proxy, whatever the intention, that ire is aimed indirectly at the armchair audience.

And the public sense that, hence the switchboard melting down as irate - and insulted - listeners rang in from home or from the car-park fuming at what was taken as a slight.
On Saturday, after the Five Live reporter was also given similar short shrift, even fans of other clubs rang in to the national phone-in to complain! That takes some doing

Now clearly the throwaway line was a joke. He wasn't really advocating heavy use of opiates, disco biscuits or hash as a healthy alternative to the pressures of watching Boro from the dug-out. Or the seats.

But the time for levity is when you are looking down the table from top spot, not when your team have gifted two points to a side who had lost all their previous away games and not when fans are already angry and emotional and worried and looking for something to unload their frustrations on.

Fergie can be brusque because he has delivered in spades but when your team is failing and serious questions are being asked about results and performances and league position or about the bosses' tactical ability and team selection then an abrupt, dismissive and disrespectful approach to perfectly legitimate questions does not help.

It just offers angry and frustrated supporters another stick to beat the club with. It widens the chasm another few feet at a time when the club desperately needs unity and a shared sense of direction. It adds another line to the lengthening charge sheet to be reeled off in every heated argument over the qualities and prospects of the boss. And those arguments are raging across Teesside right now.

At times of crisis the valid questions being asked by concerned supporters can not be shrugged off with a brusque "not interested" or a quirky one-liner. Not without expecting a backlash anyway.

Just ask Steve 'magnificent' McClaren or Gareth 'lessons learned' Southgate about how public pronouncements can quickly become a weapon to be used against you when results are going badly.

The club are losing the battle for hearts and minds. They have been for years if the truth is told. Whenever a senior figure opens their mouth in public now they seem to put their foot in it. From Keith Lamb saying the club were "relaxed" about losing season ticket holders to Steve Gibson casually insulting half of his fanbase by saying everyone in Stockton supports the Mackems to the cack-handed letter dished out to passionate fans telling them not to cheer so often or so loud... and every time what passed for a very begrudged apology had to be practically extracted under torture.

Let's be honest, it isn't the smoothest of spin machines. That isn't Gordon Strachan's fault. Neither is the immediate history of the club that has left supporters emotionally raw. But nevertheless, it is his problem to deal with. Whether he is interested or not.


THIS IS a remix of this week's Big Picture column in the old school steam driven paper Gazette. There is also a new bit on the backlash which you can read here.


redcartim said:

Good read AV. Please email to Steve Gibson for the sake of this club.

SteveB said:

Well all of this really helps everything doesn't it

scoredraw said:

Having just read the transcript of the interview all I can say is that the best you can come up with? I thought Gordon's responses were marvelous. Anyone who phoned in and complained about the interview has nothing to live for.

It's an embarrassing to think that that some sensitive, inadequate, needy idiots felt impelled to ring in and complain. Football fans aren't what they used to be.
It's alarming to think that some Boro fans are so fragile and needy.

Why should Gordon take the journalists seriously nobody else does? The post match interview is the perfect illustration of everything that's wrong in football. It's phoney, predictable, unnecessary. Having said that I do look forward to Gordon's - he's interesting.

Neal (New Jersey) said:

Scoredraw -

I think AV's point was well made. Regardless of what people think about journos they are just teeing up the questions so that the fans can hear the manager's thoughts from the horses mouth.

When WGS says he's "not interested" then good for him, but as a Boro fan I AM interested and I want to hear what our manager thinks. His churlish responses while the club I love continually underperforms (understatement) seem all the more grating.

Powmill said:

I think that reads very well and very objectively AV.

SteveB - anything presented in a well-balanced, intelligent, non-antagonistic manner can help. Of course that depends very much that the subject(s) of the piece be interested enough in wanting to improve themselves not only to read such an article, but also to comprehend it (properly).

The point is very well made, that Strachan should be grown up enough to be able to conduct his media interviews in a civil and respectful manner. That he chooses to respond in a banal manner, even if he considers the interrogator's question or proposition banal, does little to raise him above the interviewer. A truly intelligent interviewee (or should that be a truly interested interviewee) should easily turn the tables on any banal reporting or banal interviewing he faces.

As always AV, I understand from your piece that you care deeply for the Boro and that you are not in any way intending to beat the club with a cleft stick yourself. Only pointing out that the clubs actions leave it open to such a beating from many others.

**AV writes: Let's hope the club see it that way.

Ian Gill said:

Scoredraw -

I listened to the interview live and have re read transcript.

As you know from my previous posts, unlike others, I dont think all that he has done is wrong. I have also found some of his comments funny in the past. It wasnt the just the words but the tone and style they were delivered in.

I listened to the phone in via BoroWorld - I pay for that so I expect something from it. My subsequent post represented what I heard from Strachan and
and the subsequent callers.

The tone of the programme changed instantly on Saturday. I wasnt personally horrified but amazed at what had just taken place. That is why I posted the words that appeared on AV's blog and in the article in the actual paper.

In a shop full of pointed sticks there is no need to keep whittling away. There is just no need for it.

It is hardly mending bridges with the deserting fans.

yerjokinarentyerpal said:

We all knew what we were getting before Strachan came here, and his limited patience with reporters and journo's.

The point is, as made by AV, that if we were at the top of the league, then no-one would really care. Strachan could, more or less, say what he wants and get away with it. Sadly, that ain't the case, so he gets panned for it.

I agree totally that he has lost the fans, and that is the most concerning aspect of all this for the powers that be at Boro. Do they ever read this blog?

**AV writes: Oh yes....

halifaxp said:

Another beautifully cogent argument that makes a very strong case for Strachan to get with it and learn, and learn fast, to deal with the media far better.

I don't think he will; I don't think he can; I think he is one of those people who is what he is in a rather belligerent way and would feel threatened by any suggestion he re-define himself.

I still find myself wondering whether Strachan (with his ill-advised flippancy on the use of inebriation to deflect pressure) may actually have, even if inadvertently have been showing us fans what may be going wrong in our club, and showing us more clearly than Sir Gareth ever did with his humility and open-mindedness in post-match interviews.

His kind of arrogant bristliness is not usually seen in people who do not care, but in people who are trying to cover up and deflect attention from their sensitivities, sensitivities they do not quite know how to manage.

I could easily believe that Strachan is emotionally quite confused at the moment; perhaps he feels let down by his new signings; maybe he mistrusts us, the Boro faithful; and he may not really know how to weld together the inherited players with the new ones.

Most of all, I sense that what we are seeing in the manner of his unfortunate media interviews could well be exactly what is confusing and de-motivating our players.

scoredraw said:


We knew what we were getting when Gordon was appointed well I did at least.
We knew he had a penchant for irregular behaviour with the press.

My advice is don't sit by the TV waiting for a "we've got to learn from this ...." comment and phoney respectfulness because it's not on the menu with this fella.

Who on earth takes the post match press conference seriously when things have gone wrong anyway ? Are you really interested in what he's got to say immediately after the match? Or are you looking for another way to stick the boot in ?

You don't need to wait for a slip of the tongue by the manager or do some textual analysis of his comments - just stick the boot in if you don't like what's going on - I do!

We hired Gordon so let Gordon be Gordon. Can't you remember the post match offerings with the last bloke - christ knows why you look forward to them ?

Powmill said:

But never forget, that above all else, whilever he is in charge of the Boro, we want him to succeed.

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Stracks comments are from a man under tons of pressure. The team on paper should be doing a QPR.

This all reminds me of England when Capello talked about trying to get the lads to play for their country as they play for their clubs and after he identified the problem performances got worse. The team selections were also Strachanesque.

Fair enough BORO have injuries and viruses and no left back but the feelings are the same. What is this strange curse? When our players go to other clubs they suddeny show what they can do as if a weight is lifted and a new lease of life is within them.

Let's not all fall out here, although this is our precious BORO we are talkin about here, but that is what the ginger manager is on about, fundamental flaws....

That pressure once again showed when Baz Robbo chinned a Pompy player.
No excuses though , he is paid enough to take an elbow in the neck for the team if it means three points.

The sooner the team start enjoying their footy on the pitch matchday the sooner they will start winning and entertaining . Can it be done though? this is not the first time we have seen this.

Oh and by the way , I am sick of all these players coming out and giving it we will work harder gear. Begs the question....are you not workin yer socks off anyway?

Smoggy In Exile said:

The most worrying comment I've read above is that Strachan has lost the fans. Unfortunately I completely agree.

So what do the club do about it? For me, if the fans aren't behind the Manager - he needs to go.

But more importantly than that, the time has come for another of Gibson's Radio Brownlee fireside chats. He needs to be honest and open about the future of the club, the ambitions of the club, and his personal opinions on the last few years and the next few years. We need to hear him be honest. I don't care if he tells us that there's nothing left in the coffers and we have to sell to buy etc - I just want to know, as a fan, where we stand.

The club also need to re-think their whole PR approach. They need to stop treating the fans like sulky kids, stop thinking that they can pull the wool over our eyes and stop trying to manipulate or trick us. There are so many people posting just here who have excellent ideas to engage the fans, that the club are really missing a trick by not directly tapping into it.

What we absolutely don't need right now is a Neroesque period of fiddling by Gibson.

glenn said:


I urge as many people to get to the Riverside against Leeds Utd and cheer the team on. It is our club and I think the time has come to get out of this crisis now (and it is). The club and team need support in bundles . Lose this game and I think its time Mr Strachan went and I do like but enough is enough.

If results dont get better fast I think the answer is Tony Mowbray, a former player and legend and a worthy manager in his own right

adymac said:

Superb article AV. I wish you were on the board of directors, at least the club might be in touch with what we want. We can cope with failure, we are used to it more often than not. People make mistakes and I can forgive that as soon as they are honest enough to admit it, however that is unlikely to happen.

I remember earlier in my career receiving a one way conversation from my boss for not doing the job right, I just faced the music and accepted I cocked up, to which he calmed down immediately. It is hard to be angry with someone when they are genuinely sorry.

I think my point is that if Steve Gibson came out and said to us fans "Sorry guys, we have really messed up across the board here, but we need you more than ever now to try and put things right" I might not feel as angry as I do now.

Changing the manager would also make me feel happier providing the right choice was made this time.... NOT, I repeat NOT, Souness or Ince. I would prefer someone who would stir my interest again, like Queiroz or Keegan. O'neill I also think would be great for us but I cannot see him being remotely interested in coming to us now.

Kev B said:

Great article AV, very thoughtful, and shows clearly just how much you, like most posters on this blog, care about our club.

Its just unfortunate that our leader, Mr. Gibson, chooses not to come out and make a real open and honest statement about our current plight, our poor start. Especially when we started 10 games ago with such optimism.

A real leader in any industry, would not sit back. A real leader should come out and restate his case, or at least try to instill some calm amongst the public. Especially when he really does need to somehow coax a huge majority back to what they once enjoyed.

I implore Mr. Gibson to speak out in this two week period, and try to reach into the hearts and minds of ordinary, hard working Teesside people. In business,it seems he was following Lewins change model; he has created and communicated the urgency for change, made the change, and is now in the freeze stage. He seems to have no urgency for the next stage, the unfreezing, so he should clearly be communicating his vision of where we are as a business to the people. Do it now.

Tees Exile said:

Reading that purple prose I am so glad that I don't live on Teesside any more as it is obviously in the grip of some cataclysmic football Armageddon!

Seriously AV (and other knicker wetting chicken running hysterics) things are not that bad. Yes, we got relegated. It was a blow but it was not the end of the world. It's happened before and we survived. We had to sell players but everyone who goes down does. And yes, we didn't go up first time. Again, it was a bit of a blow but it's no reason for public wailing and mourning.

Boro supporters need to grow a set. Accept that we are back where we probably belong historically. We have had a great 15 years of unprecedented glory and now we are slowly reverting to type. No one is to blame. It is not a massive scandal. Nobody died. Outside the dwindling crowd no-one even cares that much. Until we realise that reality we can't really move forward.

Too many Boro fans are actively looking for things to be upset about just so they can get a long list of completely unrelated gripes off their chest. It is not Gordon Strachan's fault we lost at Eindhoven, bet the farm on Alves or that Keith Lamb sometimes says some stupid things. Why bring all that into an argument that ultimately is about the last few results.

And fans have to be wary that they do not whip themselves into a frenzy over trivia. Too many people on Teesside have let football assume far too big a role in their personal and cultural life and have elevated it to a position where their expectations of the game can never be delivered. Don't turn into a self-important mob of Geordiefied moaners.

Sometimes we need to remember it is just a game. After the match we need to just walk away and forget about it until the next week. Not everything needs to be dissected and deconstructed. Not everything is of world changing significance.

It's just a game. Go or don't. But don't turn it into an emotional crusade.

Holgate Ender said:

How offended you are by Gordon Strachan's smartarsery is directly related by whether or not you want to see him sacked.

If you do then any dropped blob - a result, a quote, an injury, a signing not doing it - may be used as evidence against him.

If you don't then this is all a storm in a tea-cup whipped up by whingers.

I'm reserving judgement for a while yet to see if things click, Boyd starts scoring and if resulst pick up. I won't make my decision based on his interview technique.

richard.evans said:

I imagine this will be the only time I ever agree with Scoredraw (5.57pm) but he is right in that we knew/should have known what we were getting with Gordon.

I too have limited interest in what any manager has to say immediately the game has ended, there is little substance that will ever arise here given that tensions and thinking is still all over the place.

That said, AV in a great article, clearly points out the way it is and that Strachan has to learn and adapt.

My greatest worry however is that the 'interview comments’ argument we have now moved onto will detract from Strachan’s appalling managerial tenure on the pitch.

Surely we cannot lose sight that he has to go, and now? He has been an unmitigated disaster and it gets worse every match. Eight points dropped and eight goals conceded against average opposition in the last three games. Nice one Gordon.

No-one seems to like him, indeed he doesn’t give the impression of liking himself much, we’re leaking money and points faster than a BP oil spill yet still he remains in charge. Why?

I appreciate Steve Gibson felt we needed a root and branch overhaul post Gareth but he made a wrong and foolish choice of the new boss.

He possibly feels it easier to persevere with GS2 than start from scratch again with the incumbent upheaval and costs. The irony is that, should we ever achieve promotion with this team will need to be ripped apart anyway to sustain PL status.
This is not a team built for longevity, it was designed for promotion only.

Who on earth could we trust to play well for us in the PL from the current players? Very few and out of loyalty to the youth ethos, it’s these players I’d stick with. O’Neil too and maybe hope that Boyd and Thomson come could. All of Gordon’s other signings will have to go and be replaced with experienced PL professionals.

Miller, Bailey and Kink are not up to it while McManus could not organise a kids five-a-side match let alone a professional defence. He didn’t improve the defence last season so why we then spent £1.8M on him is beyond belief. Individually he might look ok but as the senior defender he is in charge and has failed. Not a PL possible certainly.

Robson too, and sadly, will not cut it in the PL. He wasn’t a star in Scotland, nor the Championship this season, and will be 32 next month.

Come on Steve, public and media opinion has gone too far and won’t come back, so act now.

AV – do we know whether Strachan is on a four year deal and if so, why were so many fans, me included, under the impression is was three years? Any chance of a clause that both sides can reassess after one year is done?

**AV writes: It was announced at the time as a four year deal but there were no details as to exactly how it is structured.

gt said:

Just watched on UTUBE a 6 part documentary from 1981 called "City"(first time id seen it). It revolves around the Malcolm Allison second reign at Manchester City, it gets into the inner sanction of the goings on inside a club. It's all actual footage,its very good and actually parallels what is going on at Boro, see for yourself.

Ian Gill said:

A frightening headline on the front of my morning paper 'McClaren in the frame to replace Capello'.

No doubt some would have him back at Boro.

tim from sa said:

The fact that GS made certain coments in an interview dont worry me too much as it was something he felt like doing himself tongue in cheek.

What worries me is his general attitude with the press could be the way he handles the dressing room and that realy scares me as that could be the whole problem. Scared players worried about making a mistake and not willing to take risks.We have seen several players putting in a shift trying to change things then next week dropped.

Hope I am wrong but the only players comenting on the manager are the ones that are getting a second chance ie Bates. Why would he want a new manager? He wouldnt be played at full-back and would have to wait for an injury or drop in form in the centre. Just a different take on the problem ON THE PITCH.

Chris from Beverley said:

Watched Charlton on TV. last night in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

Ever get that sinking feeling in the gut, when you are thinking that you are looking at the future? Same size club, same colours, different league.

Good job I woke up..... Phew!

Powmill said:

Holgate Ender won't make his decision based on Strachan's interview technique.

The point is that no-one but Steve Gibson will make a decision. That is one of the things that are so good about this forum, that everybody has the chance to express an opinion, give a verdict or make a suggestion.

However, it's easy for all of us to do so, because none of us has to take any responsibility for expressing that opinion, or verdict or suggestion.

In my opinion, everything that Steve Gibson has done for the Boro he has done with always the best of intention and I have to trust that whatever he decides now, he is doing so because he believes it is in the best interests of the club.

He's in the middle of it all. We are all on the outside, looking in through the lace curtains and catching glimpses of some of the things on the inside, but none of us has the whole picture. That has to be part of the interest. It enables us to speculate.

Will Steve Gibson get it right? Has he always got it right? We can honestly never know, because what has been done has been done and no one can know what might have happened if it hadn't been done. The club hasn't been liquidated, sent into administration or otherwise folded. We are still in existence and we still have a perfectly realistic chance of promotion this season.

For the record, I didn't really want to see Gate get sacked and I was concerned about Strachan's track record in England when he was appointed. But, he was chosen as the manager, so I have been behind him, because to be behind him is to be behind the team.

Do I think he can turn it round? Well given his track record in England and his record over the last twelve months 
.. No I don't. Do I want to be wrong? You bet. Does my opinion really matter that much? Well it does to me, but I’m big enough to live with the reality that others (including Steve Gibson) may have a different opinion. Hats off to a local boy who is prepared to take the responsibility for all of us and I, for one, will be behind whoever is manager.

Will I have an opinion or a view or a suggestion to make? Absolutely. So hats off to another local boy that gives us all the opportunity to express those opinions. To me (even though I profess to have some foam hands kicking around somewhere at times and at others to enjoy running with the chickens) all that matters is that we all care about the Boro and even though we have many shades and differences of opinion, we have more in common than not and that is also something we also have in common with Steve Gibson.

For what it’s worth, I do think that postings in this blog are sometimes just as "interesting" as Gordon Strachan's interviews!

Adam Harbron said:

"I urge as many people to get to the Riverside against Leeds Utd and cheer the team on."

You pay for me and the family then because I'm not wasting my own money watching that tripe. (£130 will do nicely)

Werdermouth said:

AV - I think you may have identified the problem as the key people at club being being somewhat aloof, arrogant and more or less dismissive of anyone who questions their ability to take the club in the right direction.

This is quite simply the effect of not needing to be accountable to the fanbase - Strachan feels he only needs to be accountable to Steve Gibson, as do Keith Lamb et al.

Of course, Steve Gibson isn't accountable to anyone - he owns the club lock stock and barrel and gives the impression he believes nobody else knows any better than himself.

Perhaps this is why PR doesn't seem particularly high on the club's agenda - though I agree that everytime someone from the club speaks something resembling contempt is the message normally imparted.

So all this has left the vast majority of fans not trusting or believing what the club has to say. Also, why should they place their trust in Strachan when he glibly declares he has no idea what the problem is.

Maybe it's time Steve Gibson lived up to his carefully constructed image as the altruistic guardian of Middlesbrough's football club and it's community - It's time the club had a board of directors that had representatives from all interested parties (eg supporters, local media) - plus perhaps an experienced director of football.

Otherwise, it would be hard to see how the club and fans will once more move forward together - then perhaps the manager and team will feel they have the fans behind them and not be paralysed by fear of losing.

Nigel Reeve said:

AV - I've sent a couple of posts in the last two days that haven't appeared?

Ian - I'd have McClaren back tomorrow, why not? I dont like him much, but he's the best manager Boro ever had, he's pragmatic but we can't have everything. Being back in the Premiership and established would be well worth the price of playing the McClaren style surely?

I bet the fans of FC Twente think he's the best thing since wooden clogs too.

**AV writes: I'm not aware of any posting problems in the system at the mo but then again, I don't usually to know until someone accuse me of pro-club censorship.

Ian Gill said:

Nigel - Several points about McMoses.

His coming back may not take us back to the promised land. The mantra of never going back holds true who ever it is.

Secondly, it should be remembered that in the last 18 months of his reign the league form and results were dire, Gibbo and Lamb had to go on radio Brownlee to calm the masses, season ticket gate took place on his watch.

The cup runs were great but not tactical triumphs, going three 3-0 through being over cautious, then playing 1-1-8 and scoring four to win is not in any coaching manual I have read! I havent read any to be honest which is why I talk about daft things like left backs at left back.

Thirdly, the need to cull the wage bill was ging to take place whether he joined England or not. In my view he would have left the club anyway in that summer.

A thought on the Strachan interviews, whether what was said and the way it was said offended people or not, the fact is he was probably unwise in what he did in the current environment.

BoroPhil said:

Having McClaren back is a no-brainer. Who wouldn't?

BBB said:

yerjokinarentyerpal 5.19 -

"... the powers that be at Boro. Do they ever read this blog?
**AV writes: Oh yes...."

Well, they clearly filled in their Appraisal Forms. See the “Excellent” percentages.

Colin said:

Messrs Round and Harrison should have been given the job when Mclaren left.

Ah, but good coaches do not good managers make I hear you say.

What is a manager and what is a coach ?

Chris from Beverley said:

After the published article in today's Gazette, I can't see how GS can possibly carry on as the Middlesbrough manager.

He must have the hide of an elephant to overcome such a scathing and poor appraisal from the fans who participated, if he is to succeed in turning around the club's fortunes.

Good luck Gordon, you certainly need it.

jiffy said:

Or to look at it another way:

Strachan has publicly stated he has no idea how to put things right. His mate McAllister has deserted the sinking ship - didnt take him long so suss out that his reputation was not going to benefit from a prolonged stay here.

Strachan wont quit but maybe desperate for the sack to release him from his own nightmare here. Since Gibbo wont dispense with him despite results, performances, crowd desertion etc nothing will happen unless he forces Gibbo's hand.

Powmill said:

Now, the EG is a little naughty in publishing percentage figures like this, without a context. 223 people out of 250 would make 89.2%, but would only mean 223 people out of potentially tens of thousands of readers thought the same thing and were bothered enough to respond. But, 223 individuals doesn't make the same sensational headline as 89.2%!

So, any idea on what was the actual number of (unique) respondants, AV and what the average readership is of the Gazette?

**AV writes: I'm not sure of the exact figures (the sports desk had little to do with it) but I believe it is around the 800 mark, well above our usual on-line survey response rate and our third biggest poll ever (after the big post-sacking Gareth Southgate analysis one and the Tees Identity one earlier this year.)

There are protocols that govern how we use results on such surveys and it is well above what would normally be regarded as an acceptable sample size.

Of course there are some methodological problems in that it is on-line and so the sample is self-selecting ... but do you think the results would have been markedly different had we sent the clip-board pollsters out and about? And it is only fair we try to gauge public opinion in some way as the stakes and pressure rise.

One thing that that has struck me about the current climate is that unlike past periods of pressure on the manager there is very little middle ground, very few don't knows. When McClaren was under-fire there were always a sullen majority (sizeable majority?) of pragmatists who still supported him as long as results were ground out. Southgate had a large residual faction of backers who admired his principles and thought he was a nice and personable bloke and maybe he had been given a poisoned chalice. Even Robbo had a few diehards who backed him through a mixture or gratitude and pity.

With Strachan there seems little pool of goodwill because of a successful back-story at the club, little support for his style of play and no results to fall back on.

P2 said:

Hello AV

Can you say how many fans completed the Strachan survey please?


John Bowman said:

It will be very revealing to how, if at all, the club responds to Strachan's appraisal. They can't just ignore it .... or can they?

Colin said:

I wish I had a reputation for being overly clever.
I blame my particle physics tutor.

braveheart1 said:


how many took part in the gazette poll

Norbert Reevalinho said:

Ian -

I agree with you that going back is never a good idea, my point really was that looking back he was far and away a better manager than either of GS1 or GS2, or indeed Robbo.

As for league form in those last two seasons, how much of that is attributable to running two UEFA cup campaigns?

I also think that to say that we were 'lucky' to reach the UEFA cup final because we 'chucked everyone forward' is doing him a huge dis-service. He managed the UEFA cup campaigns, we went from never having played in Europe to reaching the quarters and then the final in succesive seasons.

It was his management that got us to a position where we could be 'lucky' in the quarters and semis. Its also true that the 'comeback' in those matches had started before he made the decision to throw the kitchen sink at it. By making the tactical changes that he did he took advantage of the momentum that was building, which galvanised the crowd and players. You may not like him much, most of us didnt, but credit where it is due.

And finally.....He took over the season after we flirted seriously with relegation at a time when Venables wouldnt take the job because he believed the squad wasnt good enough to stay up, he stabilised the club in his first year.

The facts clearly show he is Boro's best manager, I was glad to see him go because I'd been seduced by the same dream that a lot of other fans had, that having been to a UEFA final we were capable of being a bigger and more exciting club. I was wrong.

Colin said:

In some ways I sympathise with WGS with regards to his immediate post match attitude towards the media.

In these days of 24 hr blanket coverage of sport, the media's craving for immediate comment, pages to fill, deadlines to meet, Brownlee goes off air at 6, lets get an immediate reaction, "sorry to stop you there Mike from Stockton, stay on the line as we have Boro manager Gordon Strachan at pitchside".

In the days when the Sports Gazette was your only chance of post match review managers never had a microphone thrust in front of them immediately after a game. (Cliff Mitchell was far too busy phoning his report in for the 5pm deadline for that) Those that did were few and far between, maybe sports report on Radio 2 (way before five live) even local radio stations never hung around long enough to quiz all and sundry and ask for micro dissection of what had just happened.

But in the age of football phone in's, angry or delighted callers phoning from the A66 on their way home..or Dr Browns in the town to comment, "reaction and all the views from the Riverside...NEXT "! is de rigueur these days.

I think WGS was upset and angry at what he had just witnessed, I think he started the interview off well, what I don't think should have happened is the needless pressing IMMEDIATELY after an event for his feelings and inner mood.

"Tell me Mrs have just lost all your possesions in the recent do you feel?" Lazy lazy journalism.

There are some of course,schooled in PR, who revel in such circumstances, Strachan is not one of them. Strachan is a say what he sees kind of bloke, some say he doesnt suffer fools gladly, his perogative perhaps, some might say it isn't.

My guess is he was livid with Robson, and the "not interested" comment meant that he had no wish to speak to Robson after what he perceived to be a stupid stupid reaction on the players behalf, thus costing us points.

The drugs and alcohol et al was another good response in my opinion to a dumb question. What would GS1 have said ? Something along the lessons learned route I'll wager. Oh thats all right then, put away the knives lads! Lessons have been learned, roll on next week.

It also seems that this is the latest stick in which to beat him with. For my part I couldnt care less if he spoke in Albanian at immediate press requests. I have no interest in the sensational need to know his every thought within 30 minutes of a result. Its a PR exercise he has to go through with and one that he shouldnt be subjected to.

I would much rather have him in the changies laying into Robson than trying to swallow his anger and disappointment and come up with something coherent and Ra Ra ish for the fans to take solace in.

The time for reflection is not immediately after a game. Not for people like him,
maybe we should hire GS1 to give the post match comments, that may placate the masses.

Ian Gill said:

''AV said: With Strachan there seems little pool of goodwill because of a successful back-story at the club, little support for his style of play and no results to fall back on.''

I beg to disagree with the honourable member for Pyongyang but Strachan has plenty of results to fall back on. They are the type that caused honourable soldiers to fall on their swords.

Mrs GHw said:

Dear Mr AV,

Several days ago the wallah went into the front room with some black bin liners and masking tape. Since then he only allows the door to open enough for me to pass his dinner and tea in.

If I put my ear to the door all I can hear is the following...

Poole Pirates win speedway title. Hmmpphhh!
Europe beat the Yanks in Golf...Harumpphh!
Surf report...Arrghh!

He seems to be expecting something else??

Do you have any advice? I was quite looking forward to watching the X Factor.

Ian Gill said:

Norbert -

Fair shout. I am being a bit unfair but I stick by the fact the decline didnt start with Eindhoven, it started after Xmas the previous season. The football in the league deteriorated over that time.

I actually posted that we could do a Leicester, West Ham, Southampton, Leeds etc where clubs had a good spell close to the big boys then drift away.

It wasnt all McClarens fault that we had an ageing expensive squad. I dread to think how little we recouped from the players brought in.

Still, it all seems so long ago and from what John Powls is saying we have a state of the nation speech coming up.

Chris from Beverley said:

Bit of a gamble from Steve Gibson opting to speak on Radio on a day after the Leeds game has been played.

The fact that Boro fans want to know what Steve is thinking now, not in ten or eleven days time, when the result of the Leeds game could influence the fans mood and perhaps soften or sway the content of the questions.

Not that any difficult questions would be allowed anyway, as the BBC will choose and censor the callers and what they want to say.

In a nutshell, one asks oneself - is it all worth it....

kev B said:

Chris my mate from Beverley .. it is worth it, despite waiting so long to say anything.

As I have stated, he should be saying it now, but probably wants the oasis of the international break to allow fans to cool down. It may just backfire if we lose to Leeds, which is highly likely, despite such a good home record for recent times.

Which stirs a memory in my deteriorating brain ...I seem to remember that during maybe John Neals era, we went a whole calendar year conceding just three league goals at Ayresome.. can you confirm my memory AV or was I dreaming?

**AV writes: Three? Can that be right? That is incredible. Can anyone remember?

angry_pirate said:

'The club are losing the battle for hearts and minds. They have been for years if the truth is told.'

Yes the 'fans' have been deserting since Bryan Robson left.

Given that a). the club has since experienced a golden era (and by implication has hit a steeper decline in fortunes than few other clubs could match) and

b). football culture generally is now on a downslope in the UK, the prospects of reversing this trend in the near future are remote, but at leaat we are now getting close to the bottom of the seabed in terms of attendances.

The club can only do so much to win people back - the wider fanbase has to regain an enthusiasm in going to the games, regardless of ticket prices.

Forever Dormo said:

Chris at 2.47pm - I'm not going to comment on whether it will be worth it, but I have to admit I'm not very much looking forward to the Leeds game. Now, of course, if the team bucks its ideas up and wins the game it might be a different story....

Redcar Red said:

Lets be honest does anyone actually care what spin Gibbo will espouse on the "Brownlee love in"? It will be absolute disjointed, disconnected remote Tosh which 93.8% will not believe or buy into.

He needs to instil trust, confidence and belief and we all know what that requires and we all know what he is not going to do or say.

Still I'm sure the ex-pats will be listening on line with sentimentality, eager to hear the things that makes them think of home the way it used to be!

Smogonthetyne now in nunthorpe said:

Fffffffffffffffff. The start to this season has not been what was hoped for. But the only thing worse is these infernal international breaks. Complete apathy has taken over. At least when we get stuffed I can get angry. And we all know anger is indeed an energy.

If I was asked about England I would reply "Not interested". This is hardly likely to cause a media furore as A) no one ask's me anything and B) no one listens to me anyway.

24 hours later and still no respite for GHW. Mrs wallah, I'd forget about the X Factor, I fear the tv could be out of commission for the 2012 olympics.

If only there was a massive game for the boro around the corner ( consults fixture list) . ....... CMON BORO!!!

Clive Hurren said:

Tees Exile - "Don't turn it into an emotional crusade. "

I think you're missing the point. Because this is football, and more precisely, our Boro, with whom we all have a deep emotional attachment, it really does matter in the grand scheme of things.

OK, so it's not a human disaster and as you say, nobody died, but my emotional attachment goes back 44 years since I first watched them beat Workington Town 3-2 in 1966. Every other fan has similar attachments to their club gong back eons.

So, suggesting that I put a defeat to the back of my mind till next Saturday is all well and good, but I can't go on doing that week after week as we've had to do now for 3-4 years.

This IS an emotional crusade. It is, as ever with Boro, an emotional roller-coaster. But right now the car is stuck at the bottom of a bloody great depression with precious little chance, it seems, of climbing back up to the next peak. Shall we all get out or will somebody give us a push?

Mr Lonely, Upper West Stand said:

Clive Hurren:

Maybe we should all get out, get behind the vehicle, take responsibility for our part in it and help push it up the hill?

Although maybe Dormo, Powmill, GHw, AV. me and a few others, after a few drams of the golden nectar could do a fair impression of the AA, I doubt if we'd constitute critical mass in getting a reaction going at the Riverside! We'll still have to depend on Paul Daniels, sorry, Gordon Strachan, to light up our Saturday evenings.

I feel a headache coming on!

FeelingABitGinger said:

Smogonthetyne -

I agree with your comment about the international break. Having two weeks between the Portsmouth and Leeds game just prolongs the agony and disappointment. When the games come thick and fast there you have less time to dwell on the last match and the hope raised by the next game kicks in.

Ian Gill said:


Is the computer in the room? If it isnt just slip a note on his food tray saying Forever Dormo has just done post number 92. That should at least get him to come out.

Make sure you have the Boro DVD's at hand but cancel the subscription to BoroWorld. The last thing you want him doing is watching the video clips from this season and no match coming up.

I hope this helps.

Kris Boyd said:

Hey Doll Face (Mrs GHW),

I’m at a loose end tha nite too. Why don’t ye get yoursell oot on the town with the big mon. I’ll gi yee all the attention ye need.

I look forward to ye reply

Kris ‘Bang Bang’ Boyd

Smogonthetyne now in Nunthorpe said:

A stricken tanker in the English Channel is in danger of sinking!!! The immediate concern is of leaking gas out of Uranus. How do you stop gas leaking from Uranus?

Now you may think this is highly childish humour and of no relevance at all to football in general or to the Boro. And of course you would be right. I just though it may cheer Wallah and the other faithful up a tad.

11 days to go.

Percypieblocks said:

Ian -

Counting the posts? Now that's really sad. You've got to get out more. I'm not that bad yet when there's no games but I'm getting there.

Dr Alimantado said:

"Let the fury have the hour, anger can be power, do you know that you can use it?"

Note to MM Page. Could you bash this one on before the Leeds game?

**AV writes: Ha! Gitalong! Gitalong!

gt said:

Tried to reply to Boro Banter but kept getting error, So through this blog:

How about: Narcasistic Incompetance

Where you hire a manager,and he thinks hes King Canute

John Bowman said:

All seems quiet on the loan front even though the window opened on September 8th. Any good rumours out there?

Or on lighter note. After the Portsmouth match the following was heard in the tunnel:

Boyd: "I had an open goal but still didn't score. I could kick myself."

Strachan: "I wouldn't bother. You'd probably miss."

**AV writes: Andy O'Brien was mentioned a few days ago but I think he is injured.

jiffy said:

It just seems to me that the club now are in their rightful place in the hierarchy of English football. Why do i feel that way? Because its where they have been for the greater part of my life.

I was born late 1953 but the first time my dad took me to a game was that long drawn out cuptie against Blackburn in that hellish winter of 63. Following that I saw a few more games with him that season starting with a 6-0 rout of Grimsby so I got off to a cracking start.

But by the end of that season I had pretty much decided that boro were an ordinary club barely making halfway in the second tier of English football. they won a lot of their home games but rarely threatened the clubs that were at the top of the divison and rarely picked up anything on their travels but that didnt matter to most fans in those days because very few went to away games.

A couple of seasons later we went to the opening league game - a night one against Man City and I said to my dad they're going down and so they did.

The following year in Div 3 my mum was in hospital for long periods in the General and we started going to games again when visting hours on a Saturday were up till 3. Just nip next door and watch the game. I started going on my own that year and it was a brilliant one that fired me up for many years to come.

The following seasons under Stan Anderson were pretty good ones with Boro finishing about 4th regularly but there were no playoffs in those days. It was fortress Ayresome then and we were a good side to watch and if we only played a bit meaner away from home and won dirty then we would have been in the top two positions.

That was as far as Anderson could take us though and he left the platform for big Jack to add the final touch in the shape of the gifted passing of Bobby Murdoch. Once in the top flight he had us - playing top flight football the way the big clubs played it which even then was as exciting as chess and I actually drifted away from the game totally.

John Neal was a breath of fresh air and I returned to watch but for every player he brought in to improve the squad we financed that move by selling one of our best. Eventually he moved on and our chairman sold every asset we had and we plummeted like a stone (ring any bells Gibbo?)

Once back in our home from home in the bottom half of Division 2 it was inevitable we couldnt fight off the drop year after year and would eventually succumb. But then Rioch came in and was another Stan Anderson and the cycle began again with remarkable similarity.

Yet again we flirted with success under Steve McClaren and finally achieved it - a cup win, a European qualifcation on league position - (a rather forgotten achievement and arguably the best) and even a european final. All under another manager who played top flight football the way the top clubs do and thus drove many fans away with bordeom.

I lost interest with one up front at home to Portsmouth in the 3rd game of the season. I stopped going that season and have not been to a game since. Not one under Strachan nor Southgate who was a disgraceful appointment IMO.

Do I miss it? What I miss is the days throughout the season where the week at school or work was survivable merely because you looked forward to the game at the weekend.

Again we sold off the family silver and find ourselves back where we belong - below halfway in the 2nd tier and still falling. In the past we have only ever got out of this kind of rut by falling down another tier but where is the Stan Anderson/ Bruce Rioch messiah going to come from this time? There dont seem to be that many of their ilk about these days.

Steve Gibson rescued us back in 1986. He is now leading us right back where we were then. He has only one question to answer next week. If this is where he wants the club to be why on earth did he bother rescuing it in the mid 80s at all?

May as well have let it die then as oversee it fading away now. It seems worse when you have dangled success in front of the fan's faces then just take it away with same old same old failure.

FeelingABitOfGinger said:

Stricken Out

Ian Gill said:

John Powls

Shouldnt that be 'whether his knee and ankle NOT ok enough for a loan to happen'?

GJC82 said:

A great read AV. You have managed to sum up the feelings of the fans very well. I cant justify paying to go and watch them anymore.

I dont blame Gibson for the appointment of Strachan as it seemed a very good move. However Gibsons loyalty to managers should now be considered a weakness rather than a strength.

Strachan is now in a position that he cannot win the fans back and the time has come again sadly for change.

Smogonthetyne now in Nunthorpe said:

Wee Gordie mentioned the bad luck affecting the club, was karmic retribution for misdemeanours from a previous life. AV quite rightly asked ‘Crikey Gordon, what did you do?’

Well after extensive research of a host (one) Internerd sites I can bring you the truth.

Gordon Strachan Born February the 9th 1957.....

Walther Wilhelm Georg Bothe born 8th January 1891 died Feb the 8th 1957.
Walther was a brilliant scientist in the third Reich. He built the first operational cyclotron in Germany. Where he tried to master gravity, but failed. Furthermore, he became a principal in the German nuclear energy project, also known as the Uranium Club (come on you U’s), started in 1939 under the supervision of the Army Ordnance Office. He also saw service during the Great War. Most notably of all he was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1954, but most worryingly he was also awarded the Max Planck medal in 1954. Worryingly because Max plank would be a fair description of the last 12 months performances at the Boro.

So Walther wasn’t really that bad, but if we delve a little deeper,

Died on the 7th January 1891 was the English cricketer William Wild. This innocuous character only played one first class game, scoring 10 and not taking any wickets. He was susceptible to the dipping delivery, often beaten by Gravity alone. This distinctly average career was marked at the end of season bash with the Max Plank award for non descriptness. It is worth noting that Willy was born on the on the 21st Feb 1846. This is 111 years before the birth of Wee Gordie. And as all cricketers know 111 or Nelson as it is termed and multiples off are unlucky.

Anyone notorious die on the 21st of Feb 1846 I hear you cry


Died on the 21st February 1846, I give you Emperor Ninko of Japan. Not a tremendously exciting period in Japanese history but notable for two points.

1. A decline in Ninko’s tribal power

2. The rise of western influences in Japan. Unfortunately not enough evidence to suggest if these were of Scottish origins

3 Unable to beat Gravity

The emperor was born on the 16th March 1800

Died on March 16th 1800, Daines Barrington and English Naturlist and lawyer. Most famous work = Tracts on the Probability of reaching the North Pole (1775) which included the line, ‘I deduce the maximum weight the supporting beam could carry to be equivalent three gross and a hoggs head’. This was known amongst the wannabe Clarkson and May’s of the era as the Max. Plank load. Alas this was a rudimentary gauge and gravity always won in the end.

Daines was born in 1727.

So who died in early 1727, which foul deeds they commit so that 300 years later Middlesbrough Football club would endure such torturous luck.

Died 31st March 1727, I give you Sir Isaac Newton.

As we all know he invented Gravity. Therefore every time an opposition shot dips in just before it hits the bar, or the ball falls right at the feet of the opposition striker, or an opposition player falls to the floor at a rate 9.4m/s a second, after being walloped by an irate Scotsman in the Boro box, it is all the fault of Sir Isaac. His scientific witchcraftery is what is to blame for our poor start to the season. It is this force that is pulling shots into our net.

Gordon it is most definitely your (previous lives) fault. Now is the time for you to invent a force to stop balls from flying into out net


**AV writes: Excellent nerdery! The Geeks shall inherit the Earth.

Ian Gill said:

A post appears to have gone missing.

Percypieblocks, I was not counting the posts because we are on 75 now. If you look carefully I suggested Mrs GHW to tell GHW that Forever had just posted number 92.

This was merely to help entice the poor chap out of his hermit like existence by prompting some sort of Pavlovian response, to rekindle his desire to poach around the 100 post mark.

It is the least one could do to a fellow Bosco stand red card holder.

I trust you will recognise my efforts at humanitarian aid especially on the day the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded.

BoroPhil said:

Here are some good stats about the excessive tinkering.

In 12 games we've used 7 different CM partnerships:

Thomson/Bailey 2
Walker/Bailey 1
Robson/Bailey 3
Bailey/Tavares 1
Robson/Tavares 3
O'Neil/Tavares 1
Thomson/Robson 1

(bearing in mind it's actually quite tough to remember who played where at times)

And 10 different back fours:

Hoyte-Bates-Wheater-Mick 2
Hoyte-Bennett-Wheater-Grounds 1
Bates-Kilgallon-Wheater-Mick 2
Hoyte-Kilgallon-Wheater-Mick 1
Bates-Robson-Wheater-Mick 1
Hoyte-Arca-Bates-Mick 1
Hoyte-Arca-Wheater-Mick 1
Bates-Arca-Wheater-Mick 1
McMahon-Arca-Wheater-Mick 1
McMahon-Bates-Wheater-Mick 1

That includes 5 left-backs, none of whom is our most recognised, Andrew Taylor.

How ridiculous is this? GS2 - I'd suggest this is the root of our problems. Settled side please.

John Bowman said:

Possible loan signings.

**AV writes: Andy O'Brien was mentioned a few days ago but I think he is injured.

That would be Andy O'Brien the Bolton centre back.

Let's hope the rumour was wrong. If it wasn't then clearly Strachan hasn't figured out where the problems lie.

Full back; yep. Creative mid-fielders, tick. A pacey right winger, spot-on. But another centre back? For goodness sake.

Gutted!! said:

"However Gibsons loyalty to managers should now be considered a weakness rather than a strength." - GJC82

Absolutely agree!! Hope this gets put to him on BBC Tees.

Neil M said:

AV... I'm not the biggest Strachan fan but the attacks on him this week in the Gazette have been over the top. It was only a draw! It is very harsh to go for the jugular like that when they have only lost ONE at home this year.

The survey you have conducted was well naughty and designed to put the boot in while Strachan is down. Why not just be honest and call for him to be sacked?

That said, for me he is fast running out of time. Defeat against Leeds live on national telly and it will be very hard to stop the revolt. After what you've done this week how would you react after that?

**AV writes: Gordon Strachan didn't come out of the survey very well it must be said but that is more down to recent results and performances and a groundswell of popular opposition than any sinister design on the Gazette's part.

It has been suggested (ironically on Radio Brownlee who have milked the listener reaction to the contentious interview all week) that the Gazette were "opportunist" in conducting a survey after a poor run of form but it doesn't work like that. These things aren't produced at the drop of a hat and politically and diplomatically there is little to gain for a local paper to have a pop at a manager in that fashion.

The "appraisal" survey was planned several weeks ago. In one of our regular briefing we were looking ahead to the international break and discussing what to do to fill the yawning gap. In the last one we did a "Talking Boro" for instance.

This time we decided to review Strachan's first year and an annual performance review style approach was suggested. We all do one in our jobs. The first anniversary is looming so it seemed timely and appropriate We thought that format would allow readers to separate the things they thought were good and bad and produce an interesting statistical snapshot of the current thinking.

It should be stressed that when the idea was floated and the survey drawn up Bore had just won two games in a row at home and were going into what looked two fairly gentle away games then a home game against the side with the worst record in the division on the road. Had Boro taken three or four points and put in some good performances from those away games for instance (or even two!) the results have have looked very different indeed. And the we would be under fire from the antis for being rose-tinted over claims that Boro had turned the corner.

Obviously the results were damning and the comments scathing but what should we have done? Scrapped a survey that had been very publically trailed for weeks because the results were politically explosive? We have a duty to reflect what the supporters - our readers - are thinking. We can't censor or manipulate the results. There is no way of sugar-coating statistics which make concrete what is apparent to everyone outside of the ivory tower... there is now a massive majority of supporters who are deeply discontented with results and performances, very little middle ground and that very few fans now ready to defend the boss. .

The Gazette have not created that situation. We have not stirred it up, manipulated it or taken advantage. For us, commercially and politically, the best thing is a winning team, a buzzing atmosphere and a sense of optimism. If fans are angry or apathetic we lose. We want a winning team and a successful club.

Smogonthetyne now in nunthorpe said:

AV, was that your longest ever AV writes in reply to Ninko M? Do we get access to your annual apraisal or can we run our own survey?

By the by my man Boyd has not returned by his midnight curfew. He'll be fined!

**AV writes: No, I've done far longer than that. With Tony Black sometimes the replies were longer than the original pieces.

Ian Gill said:

AV -

Was calling the team Bore in your response to Neil M a clever play on the way we have been playing or a wayward digit?

Maybe it was your subconcious taking over?

**AV writes: What would Herr Freud say?

scoredraw said:

There's a good photograph of Barry Robson lashing in the penalty on the On-Line Gazette. Classic arched body shape, balance maintained by perfect positioning of the arms. Eye on the ball until AFTER contact is made. Beautiful.
Reminds me of me.

Jarkko said:

I think Tony Black is missed. He wrote a couple of times recently but we want more!

The international break is horrible. At least Kinky scored last night. Up the Boro!

Jarkko said:

I think the following sums up quite well how I see the situation is at Boro currently:,24015,16976_6433474,00.html

Nothing really needed to be added there. We have seen worse times and I think the players must start to react (play well) now.

Up the Boro!

Ian Gill said:

Is it possible to have a virtual match this afternoon. We could set the team out in one of John's BoroBanter virtual formations playing Bennett at left back and Robbo central midfield.

We could have a virtual loan player on the right with pace and trickery.

We could have a virtual manager.

We could have virtual man for man marking and keep a virtual clean sheet.

The manager could give a virtual presser that is informative and reasoned.

Somehow I sense a virtual postponement.

**AV writes: I've been to Norton: a crowd of 1500, standing, singing drinking in full view of the pitch, loads of untreated banners, people smoking and a couple of good-natured pitch invasions. The Riverside safety committee would spontaneously combust with anger. Norton did well for 75 minutes then wobbled and the Man United of the pyramid scored three late on to win 5-2. Good game.

Ian Gill said:

As the total stands at 90 I am hoping GHW will come out of solitary confinement, surely Mrs GHW has warned him that Dormo is doing stretching excercises.

Nikeboro said:

Losing the battle for hearts and minds? I've lost all heart and I'm in danger of losing my mind.

kev B said:

AV about my memory that we once went a whole calendar year only conceding 3 league goals at home
 I have raked through my books and found that actually it was 4 league goals in a calendar year. The year was 1975, Jack Charlton was manager, and it spanned two seasons obviously; 1974/75 and 1975/76:

Jan 18: Arsenal 0.0
Feb 08: West Ham 0.0
Feb 22: Leeds Utd 0.1
Mar 01: Stoke City 2.0
Mar 15: Spurs 3.0
Mar 18: Everton 2.0
Mar 29: Burnley 2.0
Apr 05: Derby 1.1
Apr 19: Liverpool 1.0
Aug 23: Wolves 1.0
Aug 26: Birmingham 2.0
Sep 06: Stoke City 3.0
Sep 20: QPR 0.0
Oct 04: Aston Villa 0.0
Oct 18: West Ham 3.0
Nov 01: Liverpool 0.1
Nov 15: Leeds Utd 0.0
Dec 06: Man. Utd 0.0
Dec 20: Spurs 1.0
Dec 27: Everton 1.1

That’s 20 league games and only 4 goals conceded with an iron central defensive partnership of Boam and Maddren of course.

**AV writes: Fantastic. What an achievement. Can you imagine the press that would get now? Can you imagine how quickly the big boys would buy up the defence who could do that?

Mrs GHw said:

Dear Mr AV,

We have come to a compromise, the wallah is now in the garden shed. I have rigged up the portable and a DVD player.

When I say compromise I mean I laid a trail of press cuttings saying David Goodwillie signs for...but left the club off, and had the Steaua game playing full blast in the shed. When he went in I slammed the door shut and locked it.

I'm quite looking forward to watching that nice Cheryl Cole tonight.

**AV writes: Who does she play for?

Forever Dormo said:

Imagine you'd been born, not a Boro supporter, but a Barcelona one. (Obviously an English speaking one - as well as Catalan and Spanish - and surprisingly with a taste for real ale, malt whiskies and a good fried breakfast).

Two years ago winning the Champions League with glorious football and last year looking good all the way but losing in the final to Mourinho's Inter Milan! With a decent chance of going all the way this year, too.

For them a good year is to be the best in the world. A bad year is either to finish second in the league of the best football country in the world (at present) or to fail to win the Champions League.

How do you measure pleasure? It was GREAT to win the League Cup, and great to get to the UEFA Cup Final. Did that feel as good to us as Barca's fans felt winning the Champions League by murdering Man Utd 2-0? Or measure misery? At the end of last season, beaten in the Final, did Barca's fans feel like we are feeling at the present?

Are there grades of pleasure? Is it affected by previous experience? Would a Darlo fan, in the event of their achieving promotion to the Football League this season, have the same experience as the Spanish fans when they won the World Cup this summer?

You may turn over your papers. No talking. You have two hours.....

**AV writes: I was talking about this relativism at work on Friday. For me the real depth of the crisis of faith at Boro has been caused not by where we are - we have been mid-table in the second tier with crowds of 14,000 many times before and outside of the Riverside generation have all been schooled in long spells without any real success - but how far we have fallen in such a short time.

Looking up from here now we can see exactly how high and how steep the rapid fall has been and if we crane our necks we can just about see the heights of glory where we were so recently. It hurts more because while for us it is so vivid and real and recent for so many observers outside Teesside it is such a vague, dim and dusty half-remembered mirage. Did it really happen? Our moment of glory has been reduced to the answer in the sports round of a pub quiz.

Percypieblocks said:

AV -

You commented on the defence in reply to KevB's letter. I still get annoyed now regarding the almost contemptable way they were treated by the press. Not just the defence but the whole team, they were never given any plaudits by the press, just boring Boro/ dirty Boro.

There were players in that side who were far superior to players who were chosen to play for England but were never ever mentioned. Look at the caps Greenhoff collected because he was Jimmy Hill's pet player and of course because he played for Manchester United who were on Match of The Day every week, we usually received 1 minute (on a good night).

Remind me again how many caps Maddren, Boam and Craggs were given.

**AV writes: T'was ever thus.

Forever Dormo said:

Is there a broadband connection in GHw's garden hut?

**AV writes: Well soon find out. We're at 98...

Herr Freud said:

I post therefore I am.

Number ein hundart!

Danke schurn

Smogonthetyne now in nunthorpe said:

Yeah widdacombes on! Down Boyd! down!

Relativism at Gazette towers? Whatever next?

Anyway Saturday night, no defeat, no late goals. That'll do me

**AV writes: Relativism? Pah! This week we have covered subjects as diverse as the Albigensian Crusade to crush the Cathar heresy, William Morris, German cinema, Medieval property rights, the cultural cleansing of areas of social housing in Middlesbrough and the direct correlation between hair style/length and drug of choice. Bloody hippies. It's either that or football. That's 100 by the way.

Forever Dormo said:

Boo Hoo! Got called in by me Mum for tea and by now we'll have had the 100 up.

Richard said:

Jarkko at 9:44 on 9 Oct:

Whoever "Dan" is, the author of the post to which Jarkko supplied the link in the above post, he (Dan) got it absolutely right, square in the middle. His post deserves to be read by every level-headed supporter and needs to be read by those in the other camp. I wonder why he didn't post it on here?

His thinking and articulate writing would add positively to the abundance of talent already exhibiting on here.

Come on in Dan, the water's a bit icy!

Richard said:


What's happening now is that we're all re-calibrating: Re-adjusting to events outwith our control.

What many of us are feeling, are shrinking pains! No, I don't mean contractions. More, the antithesis of growing pains!

**AV writes: yes, I agree. That is exactly what is happening. And the club are ahead of the downsizing curve by about two years on the fan base. Until we are all back in alignment I don't think we can move forward. That cultural/emotional time lag is the biggest political problem that the club face right now.

Mrs GHw said:

I must say that nice Cheryl Lloyd was quite good.

**AV writes: Awful, inane, bland dumbed down television karaoke in which desperate and disposable poor people are systematically broken down, drained of individuality and artistic integrity and made to jump through hoops then poured into "pop star" moulds to make pliable commodities tailor made for explotation for cynical svengalis in the name of enterainment. The one with least spark of resistance always wins.

Forever Dormo said:

As for talent shows on TV, get off the fence, AV. You're protesting too much.

Now, Ann Widdecombe, juggling with flaming torches whilst balancing between two bearback dancing horses on ice at the same time as singing that AWFUL Whitney Houston number.... Yes, I can see there might be a future in talent shows. No fiddling the telephone vote though....

Mrs GHw said:

**AV writes: Awful, inane, bland dumbed down television karaoke in which desperate and disposable poor people are systematically broken down, drained of individuality and artistic integrity and made to jump through hoops then poured into "pop star" moulds to make pliable commodities tailor made for explotation for cynical svengalis in the name of enterainment. The one with least spark of resistance always wins.

Is this another Freudian slip AV? You could be talking about the whittling down of the crowd at the Riverside.

Ian Gill said:

As Richard and AV say we are having to readjust a new reality.

At Liverpool we have a situation where one of the big clubs could be deducted nine points for going into administration.

The situation there is merely a reflection of what has happened to many clubs.

The list of clubs who reached the peaks of what they could achieve only to falter is extensive. Whether it is Champions League, Europe, top half doesnt matter it is the same slither. In Liverppol's case it is likely to be very temporary.

Southampton got into the FA Cup final, played in Europe, had a new stadium then started sliding. I dont know the details but the wage bill was probably too high, bought players who didnt perform and no matter what the did the spiral downwards continues.

Down to the third tier, same as Leeds and Leicester and Charlton and Forest.

Some manage to avoid the drop through two tiers, Toon and Derby and WestHam.

Some manage to retain prem status and rebuild, Bolton qualified for Europe in the league, Blackburn won the League Cup, both bobbled around relegation and managed to regroup.

Villa and Everton have had good spells then wobbles.

Further down the pyramid York and Darlo struggle.

If you dig deeply the symptons will probably be the same. A financial structure based on income that is unreliable, poor utilisation of resources available and probably a bit of bad luck.

Liverpool under Benitses spent an absolute fortune on some real tosh, one or two good players came but some of the others were sold at huge losses, players left who were not effectively replaced.

We can see a similar situation at Boro, the difference is that a similar fall results in Liverpool not being in the Champoons League and us in the scond tier.

The fans of all these clubs look inwards and suffer various shades of despair even though it is only football.

The only thing that remains constant is that the cycle will be repeated across football.

Forever Dormo said:

It’s difficult to disagree with much of Ian Gill’s post at 10.03am today. Football operates in cycles though sometimes those cycles might be broken.

But it’s not just football, is it? All life operates similarly. Great empires grow up and flourish, but then tend to die as they are supplanted by others. Some shine brightly for a brief period then fade, others may last centuries, but eventually all crumble.

The Persian empire, the Romans, the Maya, the Mongols, the Aztec and the Inca, the Portuguese, the British... How long have the American left, and after them the Chinese and Indians?

And in football, whilst the big clubs may look as if their grip on the game is unbreakable, will it look the same in 100 years? Where is Hungary (and, no, I don’t mean geographically!!) now compared to the incomparable team of the 1950’s? Look at the FA Cup – where are Wanderers now (winning 5 cups, the last in 1878) or the Royal Engineers (played in four cup finals, five if you count the replay they won in 1875 –and no jokes about their being in Iraq, please) or even Bury (two wins – last in 1903)?

Or, if winning the Cup might only take a streaky run of a few winning games (and before you go there, remember the Boro has never won the FA Cup), the League has been won three times by Huddersfield Town (who also finished second three times), which is more than “big city” Manchester City or Spurs can manage in their histories.

So teams that have been great in the past may wither away, sometimes never to worry history again but sometimes they return to greatness (might that be Wolves or PNE a little further into the future, or Cardiff City?).

I accept that the big city clubs, especially those funded by rich sovereign wealth funds or sugar daddies may cement their positions near the top, buying up squads consisting of some of the best players in the world.

But, as has been mentioned before, however rich are the people behind the Premier clubs, only one can end up champions, only another three will play in the Champions League, and even if different teams win the FA and League Cups, and two others qualify for what used to be the UEFA Cup, the rest of the teams will win nothing and three will be relegated. Even if they are owned by Bill Gates or Saudi Arabia.

Bear baiting was a big sport once. Where are the big chariot races these days? Sports will come and go.

We don’t know where mankind will be in 100 years, let alone 1,000. It’s a fair bet they won’t be playing football in the 4th Millennium (whether that’s on Earth if it’s still inhabitable, the Moon, Mars or wherever).

Imagine some archaeologist in 10,000 years coming across a “fossilised” football. What would he make of it? Or some flattened silver cup found buried in the rocks under what is now Wembley Stadium? What was “football”? Were the winners given garlands and were the losers fed to the lions (if there were any left in the 2050’s)?

And thanks for the link, Adymac at 10ish this morning.

borobythesea said:

Regarding adymac above, a good question to put to Steve Gibson me thinks.
Southgate was nothing if not honest in my view, so it might be interesting to hear Gibson's response.

Likewise, I know Digard never seemed to be fit, buy when I did see him play, I thought he was ok, certainly better technique than whats running around now in midfield.

Nigel Reeve said:

Just back from a weekend on Teesside, yes bad planning I know, no match to go to!
Rumour of the week from the Nunthorpe paper shop is that GS2 has resigned but has agreed to stay on until a replacement is appointed! Have we had that rumour already? If not you heard it here first!!

And....what's more I am assured the information came from someone at the Riverside who answers to no one except Gibbo......of course.

**AV writes: Ah yes, the rumours. It has been knocking around in one form of another since after the Watford game. One version has Vialli already in charge. Another Tony Mowbray. another says they have to wait until Southgate's year long gardening leave/rolling contract is up before they have the funds to pay Strachan off (although they could also use the Mark Viduka hip insurance money of course). In the end most rumours are just plausible sounding wishful thinking.

gt said:

To Ian Gill -

Whilst your comments are fair regarding the history of some football teams, and yes finances can be a problem, I have a different spin on success and failure.

I believe its as simple as the eleven against eleven for 90 odd minutes each game.

ANY club can be succesful, hence the rise in recent years of Fulham, Wigan, Hull, Bradford, Barnsley others,who rose from the bottom tier to the top in a short period

Its ALL about the players (your players are better than the other teams).

A good manager,recognises and signs players who are skilfully, physically,and mentally up to all the challengers every situation brings. He organises them, doesnt mess with their heads so theyre confused as to whats expected, he encourages the players with high skill levels to express themselves, stroke them if needed, get the best out of them, they will lift the lesser player.

A bad manager cant recognise these players. Some managers and scouts are just not very good. A bad manager cant make the right decisions in training or matches because:

(1) he doesnt know and then panics and
(2) so the team has three or four changes everyweek.

So getting back... its the players a manager signs, adding and subtracting at the right time to sustain the level of success. There has been many good managers at the lower level who've done well with no money, many who started the teams I mentioned on their upward path, only to be disgarded for names

* footnote

If Gareth Southgates comment on transfer dealings is really true,then Steve Gibson and Keith Lamb have gone way down in my estimation,and deserve everything thats happening at the club now. The fans deserve an apology.

Forever Dormo said:

There would have been a much bigger audience for the planned "Chairman answers your questions phone-in" on Radio Brownlee, had it been held a year ago. The sad thing is that many may have stopped caring.

John Bowman said:

Ian Gill said:

As Richard and AV say we are having to readjust a new reality.

Sorry but I have to disagree. It is the same reality of incompetent managers squandering funds. And all the rest. Square pegs. No backbone. No tactical flexibilty etc etc.

The real frustration for a fan is KNOWING that we could and should be doing better than we are.

gt said:

My peeps have told me,

"forget about the Mowbray thing"
These are the names to look for if a change is made

Gus Poyet
Phil Brown,
Lee Clark
Gary Neville
Tony Adams

you heard it

Sandy said:

Lots of comments many of which are right on the mark, one or two things to ponder and sorry for going back over old ground, however it needs to be said;

1) Can anyone advise the rationale behind appointing GS1 following Steve McClaren's departure, the ensuing catastrophe has left a disaster of mammoth proportions. Why oh why was an untried and untested 'rookie' given the reins of a successful top 10 business. Would Mercedes, Coca-Cola or even Asda appoint an inexperienced manager ?

2) Unless Strachan knows something we don't, this disjointed gathering of a team ain't going anywhere and Strachan will get the bullet.

3) What is worrying, is that following the departure of Strachan, we will be left with his team, no money and another two to three seasons out of the big time, on the assumption the new guy coming in is a messiah and miracle worker.

Mogga coming in ???. We need an experienced, sensible guy with a track record who can shore up the defence, put in place a midfield combination of creativity and guts and an attack who know where the goal is. Simple eh?

Ian Gill said:

GT and John Bowman

I agree with you. Mine was a generalist view but if you have a look again one of the links in clubs falling away is getting the players wrong and wasting precious resources.

At most of those clubs, fans would point to exactly what you are saying as one reason why their club started the dreadful slither. The break up of a succesful team, often experienced. They will complain about poor selection, square pegging, all the things we complain about.

Living in the East Midlands I am surrounded by fans who, to some extent, have experienced the same sort of slide we have.

I agree it isnt a new reality to me but those fans who came on board as the Riverside loomed will not have experienced it before.

My frustration is that in previous slides we didnt have the money squandered this time. My biggest gripe is how much we frittered without addressing the fundamental problem in midfield.

Digard, Hoyte and Emnes replacing Young, Boat, Cat and Rocky was folly of the highest order. If we had brought in a 'Barry Robson' I think we would have been far better equipped to stay up.

Werdermouth said:

Isn't the article where Southgate said he wasn't responsible for signing Alves just old news? I recall in an interview that Keith Lamb did many months ago that he already admitted to signing Alves.

Anyway, I note that Southgate has not denied signing Mido, Emnes, Hoyte and Digard - which have cost the club twice as much as Alves since we did actually receive a £7m transfer fee for him in the end.

I should also add that his failure to play Adam Johnson may have cost the club considerably more after he decided not to extend his contract with us - he's probably worth £20m+ now (not to mention the fact he may have been able to score the few goals we needed to avoid relegation in the first place).

But despite all those 'rookie' errors Gareth has still out-performed the much more experienced Strachan - which probably says it all really!

Smogonthetyne now in Nunthorpe said:


Professional footballer, last seen near a penalty area in February. Likely to be found curled up on a bench. Answers to the name of ‘Big Mon’ and Millery.

If you think you have seen or found Lee please contact the RSPCA (Rushed Striker Purchase Cheaper than Alves) Who will come and collect.

Reward 5 Match tickets or cash equivalent £5.00

scoredraw said:

I was pleased to hear that Gareth Southgate is giving Steve Gibson the credit for buying Alves.

I know it would be hard to persuade most fans that Alves was a good player and had the makings of a good goal scorer but I always felt he was both of those things. He came to Middlesbrough like Maccarone and served under a manager who didn't have the nerve or knowledge to get the best out of him.

King, Folan, Mido ... those are the players that I think of whenever I see Gareth on the 'Telly' giving us benefit of his wisdom.

Gareth's agent has obviously told him he needs to be more pro-active in getting a job. Blame Gibson ? Not sure if that's the right move. The absence of humility is fascinating.

**AV writes: That his year's gardening leave is almost up may be a factor.

scoredraw said:


Gareth inherited a 'good team', got rid of some good players (Morrison, Cattermole ...) refused to use some very good players (Johnson & McMahon) almost ruined a great player (Downing).

He was in charge of the club when it was relegated and left Gordon Strachan a 'poisoned pissoir'.

Gordon has bought good players with the money he was allowed to spend. The problem in front of Gordon is very real - he needs to get the players to play half as well as they are capable of.

Gareth had 3 years (not counting the years he had as captain). Has Gordon had a year yet? Gareth spent more on Mido than Gordon spent on (pick any 4 out of 10).

redcartim said:

I suspect if the gardening leave story is true then we may here a few more things from Southgate before the year is up.

Anyway, unless he tells us he wasn't picking the team, setting the tactics and buying all the other dross then it doesn't change the fact he was a poor manager.

What still concerns me however is that I expected Strachan get us in and around the plays-offs last season and he has been a disaster.

AV, any comment from the club on Strachan's annual appraisal?

**AV writes: No. Not yet. I think they would have to go through HR.

Holgate Ender said:

Tees delta bluesmen? How about Blind Lemontop Wheater?

**AV writes: Very good. Barry Rob-Sun House?

Ian Gill said:

Lee Miller, more like Lee Evans although i have never seen Miller sweat.

Miller could be put in the same bracket as Dong Goal Less, Jason Euelluseless and Caleb Forlorn.

The whole Gate/Lamb name calling is merely a squable who is the most culpable. In this reality TV show both should be evicted.

I see that Digsoft has also had a go at Stricken. If the one legged Frenchman had managed to get in some pitch time we might be better off.

tim from sa said:

Well we have all been at each others throats for a few months now. Now the cast offs are having their say and the count sneaks past the post before Gibbo gets going tonight.

Welcome to the worlds big custard fight guys.

Think it may be a bit of a ploy from Lamby to take the heat off Gibbo on gs2 tonight. Dont fall for it fellow Boro supportors. Ask questions about the future we cant change the past. Dont waste the time finding out who bought Alves hes gone.

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Why not play Emnes even if later in the game . We need some pace lads, He has got to be better than Halliday.

Scoredraw said:

This weekend will see the emergence of Gordon Strachan's team. The tension that has hung heavy over the team will be removed by the distracting presence of 5000 opinionated "Dr White-Breads".

The ugly belligerence that follows Leeds United around will add to the atmosphere and ironically reduce the inhibitions of the Boro team which will allow them to physically relax and play fluid football. We may even win with a couple to spare.

Leeds have some very talented players (Snodgrass, Johnson..) but their defence looked static whenever I watched them last year.

When we do win - it's important that Gordon captures the optimism and feelgood factor and doesn't ruin it with some over the top Scottish work ethic, punishment camp, training hell on the following Monday/Tueday. The Boro started favourites to win the League because they are a good collection of players - they need to feel good about themselves to start an ominous climb up the table.

That's me posted out for the week unless someone says something mean about me, Gordon or of course Anthony McMahon.

PS Shame Stewart Downing didn't tell Capello to shove his cap up his papparazzi.

Powmill said:

Scoredraw says it is all about the team feeling good about themselves .... I see we are coming back around to Karma.

Ian Gill said:

Scoredraw -

Leeds have a static defence? That means we have to exploit our pace and width, nuff said.

CHRIS said:

Looks like Gibson got stage fright tonight....not on ....and no mention of him or why he is not on....wonder why.....Hmmmmm

**AV writes: Isn't it next week?

Forever Dormo said:

Don't know why so many of us were confused, but the Chairman on Radio Brownlee IS next week. Better be a good result against Leeds then!

Werdermouth said:

Perhaps Southgate needs to keep off the grass during his gardening leave as according to Lamb his memory is not what it used to be - I think I believe Lamb's version of events.

On this occasion i've got some sympathy with the club - On paper Alves looked a good signing (if somewhat over-priced) and it was generally met with approval on these boards and beyond.

The question with Boro is why players never seem to play to their potential - academy graduates seem to do better once they leave us and big money signings never seem to recapture the form that gave them the price tag.

Sounds to me that either our managers or coaching staff are failing us - or is there another reason?

Mrs GHw said:

The wallah is still on back garden shed leave.

Had the nice man from DodGi SKYE round today. He put a dish on the side of the shed, as far as I'm concerned the wallah can stay where he is now that he is online. I see that nice young man Adam Johnson will be playing tonight. I hope he wears those lovely pink boots. I think Simon Cowell would make a good manager for MFC, he can spot talent alright!

stockton red said:

The fact that Mr Lamb has popped his head out above the parapet to comment on a transfer nearly three years ago says it all really. It is completely irrelevant to what is going on at the club now.

Funny how he remains silent on this years performances, the current league position and points tally, the position of the manager, the dealings by the manager with the media. Is this just a smokescreen so we forget about the rest?

In a few days Mr Gibson will be heard on the radio. Go back a few years and every Boro fan would hang on to his last word. Now plenty couldn't care less, some are sceptical at best and plenty dont even have the slightest confidence in his judgement any more.

These are very worrying times for the club. They have a manager in charge who is unpopular across the board - a man who has zero rapport with the fans and an owner and co-director who become more estranged by the week both with the fans and apparently with reality.

Percypieblocks said:

Will be pleased if Kevin Davies collects his first cap tonight. If anybody deserves one he does (in my opinion). How many caps would he have now if he had played for a more fashionable club? I appreciate he doesn't score a lot of goals but that never held back Heskey's international career did it?

Werdermouth said:

I'm still not convinced we get the best out of players - HalifaxP, there's now probably quite a decent Academy XI floating around the top two divisions - though AV, I'm not sure of the stats but why do most of our buys turn into hapless confidence drained disasters? I think I'm with John Powls on this one.

Maybe Boro are just not very good at motivating players - if a player arrives who thinks he's too good for the club (but heck the money is good!) then he probably expects to play every week regardless of his performance and doesn't feel he needs to give everything.

However, when the player is dropped he sulks and can't be bothered, tries to engineer a move (fill in your own favourite offender here) and the club is stuck with paying wages to an unhappy player who isn't performing.

I'm sure it's quite an art for a manager to know the best methods to suit individual players - OK you won't win them all but surely we can do much better in that department - Gareth seemed too accommodating sometimes, Gordon seems the type who thinks he's an expert psychologist but is probably just irritating (sorry Scoredraw).

**AV writes: I think anyone who has come in post-Eindhoven has joined a club that is on the slide. I think that would encourage ambitious players to want to move on once they discover which direction the club is moving. Conversely you could argue that those that stay have shown their own willingness to live with decline. Presumably that was the logic of the Strachanovite Year Zero cull, to clear the decks of those who had accepted the creeping decline.

kev B said:

Please say get well soon to fellow blogger Chris from Beverley who was hurt in a RTA on the Whitby road on Sunday. Still laid up in Scarborough hospital. Get well soon mate, and hurry back ... the Navi and Boro need supporters like you.

**AV writes: Ouch. Get well soon mate.

Smogonthetyne Now In Nunthorpe said:

So the Riverside is heading for its largest attendance of the season? Due in no small part to four thousand Leeds and fans and if some stories are to be believed a lorimor in the home areas. I predict a riot. The atmosphere isn’t helped with Boro fans being disgruntled and uttering ‘Everyday I love you less and less’ . But alas this is the modern way and come Saturday night, and if the boys can find a team mate we could win our first Riverside ‘derby’ since 2005?

So these fans umming and ahhring as to weather to watch on TV or come to the game, come 17.30 on Saturday night I know where I’d Radabe.

**AV writes: LOL... yours truely, Angry Mob?

halifaxp said:

Absolutely, Kev! We need him back asap.!

Ian Gill said:

Kev B -

Too true, we all wish Chris a speedy recovery. Maybe three points on Saturday may help.

Watching England and, after 40+ plus mins, the commentators said maybe the left footed Johnson on the left and right footed Young on the right may be worth a try.

I agree with switching players but how do you create width against a disciplined team if you play narrow? I dont have a coaching badge but I do have nearly 50 years of watching football to fall back on.

Forever Dormo said:

Come on lads! If you had professional coaching badges, and had played the game at a high enough level, you'd realise that left-footed players should ALWAYS play on the right. It's just as clear that you should play anyone under 5 ft 6 inches in goal, and under 5 ft 4 inches at centre half.

Honestly! Some of these supporters need educating.

Forever Dormo said:

Sorry, I forgot to mention it but best wishes to Chris from Beverley. On a motorbike was he? If so, and on the basis he's more shaken than stirred, perhaps we should be grateful it wasn't worse.

Get well soon.

Jarkko said:

Best wishes from me to Chris from Beverley, too. Get well soon.

I just wonder if the Crockcliff disease spreading to the Boro supporters now. Perhaps this is the reason for low crowds at Riverside...

Up the Boro!

brian hewitson said:

Few questions for you . . .

Mike Ashley or Steve Gibson?
Gordon Strachan or Chris Hughton?
Sol Campbell or Steve McManus?
Shola Ameobi or Kris Boyd?
Peter Lovenkrands or Scott MacDonald?

Mrs GHw said:

I see that nice youg man Kyle Naughton has gone to Leicester on loan. Wasn't he at MFC before? I expect we already have plenty of those full back thingy's.

Mrs GHw said:

I hope Chris was wearing his leathers. Get well soon.

Don't forget everyone...


Chris from Beverley said:

AV and fellow Bloggers -

True friends, many thanks for your best wishes.

Latest injury count is three bust ribs, fractured pelvis, sternum, thumb, bruised right lung and collar bone.

I was shunted from behind whilst stationery in traffic, so didn't see it coming. Ouch is the operative word, I don't bounce well at 52 !

Thanks again guys, Chris

**AV writes: So long as your one typing finger is working....

Ian Gill said:

Forever Dormo -

Remiss of me but I dont have any badges.

Last night was like watching us against Leicester and Watford last season but the gap between us and them is much narrower than England and Montenegro - still could have won.

With teams who stay very compact you need to stretch play, get the defenders turned and facing their own goal. Johnson looked like Englands brightest player but when he beat a man, nearly always jinking inside he ran into traffic or laid the ball off. Young had the same problem the other side.

If they cut outside the defender another player would have to come out of the middle.

But we have been here before and we are not football people. In the words of McClaren we need educating, the words of Gate or Strachan are no better so at least we have consistency across our managers.

Our thoughts can now turn to Saturday, wonder what line up GS2 will come up with as he does without Robson and Thomson?

Smogonthetyne now in Nunthorpe said:

Whilst I extend get well wishes to Chris, I can’t help but wonder why he needs the adrenalin kick of a motorbike? Surely his weekly dose of the Boro is enough excitement for anyone?

I believe I am right in thinking that a certain East Midlands team is unbeaten in 25 home games. And a certain North Eastern team has not won away since Easter. Could the footballing gods be lining up a surprise treat

.I think not.

I have never felt so pessimistic about a Trent – Tees clash. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Anyone else going down next Tuesday night? I don’t think ticket sales have been brisk.

Powmill said:

Get yourself well soon Chris from Beverley. Will they let you watch the macth on the TV on Saturday?

Re Mr Naughton on loan to Leics. City ..... what would we need a left back for now ...

Not feeling optimistic about Saturday, so hope I'm wrong.

borobythesea said:

Belated best wishes and a speedy recovery to Chris fom Beverley. Liked Jarkko's reference to Crockliff, very amusing.

Brian Hewitson - thanks for that;reminded me that things could be much worse..Mike Ashley...Yuk!

Werdermouth said:

So the England display will have acted as a precursor for the big game on Saturday. Well you can't expect our Italian coach to be able to fathom out the tactics to defeat essentially a well organised Championship side - afterall he's only paid £6m a year!

It's a bit of a joke really - the FA are showering £24m onto a man who doesn't seem to know how to organise a team to get past a team who's intentions were clear before the game had begun. Anybody could pick out-of-form players and show a lack of insight and imagination - you don't need to pay them that much.

Anyway, on the subject of excitement - Is it just me or is prospect of watching 33 men being brought to the surface (sorry I mean a wheel turning on the surface) over 30 hours is probably the most mind numbingly boring TV that anybody could dream up.

OK, it's great that they're being rescued - but who thinks it's remotely a spectator event! And the commentary was just... well imagine describing the longest lift journey in the world and multiply it by 100.

So let's hope the entertainment on Saturday is better - also a speedy recovery to Chris!

Ian Gill said:

Chris from Beverley -

Good to see you are still posting. It just shows how risky travel can be. Luckily all my damage in years following Boro has been of the mental variety.

I dont know whether to say I hope you will be able to watch the Leeds match. It is a bit like the sign I saw in a Gas showroon in the mid 80's, 'Aids for the disabled'. Amazing how much care must be taken with the written word.

Smog -

I will be going though most of my visits have been fruitless i have garnered a couple of draws.

I am invoking 'points from unexpected sources' to help our chances. Last year I did suggest to Vic that he could run a collection to give an offering to the God of unexpected points. No one contributed and as the saying goes, the rest is history.

A tenner each isnt too much to ask and I would be only to pleased to, er, deliver the offerings personally.

gt said:

My team for Saturday: (4-2-3-1)


Mcmahon, Wheater, Mcmanus, Arca

Bates, Tavares

Bailey O,neil Mcdonald


Bench,,, Coyne,Boyd,Kink,Hines,Halliday,Lita,Bennet

This system has two holding and protecting the back four, allowing the three higher midfielders to attack more, the three of them are mobile enough. I'd play Emnes upfront and tell him to work the their back four for sixty minutes, where I actually think the bench could provide the winner if used at the right time.

I think we will win on Saturday and I predict Oneil will have his best game,
Without Robson(overated) in he will be allowed to play his normal game.

jiffy said:

Werdermouth -

Re events in Chile. Caught the emergence of the 4th rescuee on the news before setting off for work this morning. Tasty wife he was coming back to! there could be a mini baby boom around there next July!

It was just crying out for a Peggy Mount (showing my age now!) style wife to be waiting with a rolling pin and a "where do you think you've been for the last 10 weeks? Your dinner is burnt and where's my housekeeping money?" Oh and a rent man waiting for payment. The comic possibilities are endless!

But for me the look on the Chilean president's face when he was handed a Bolivian flag to wave was priceless!

Suirprisingly Boro managed a couple of wins while they were stuck down there.

Nigel Reeve said:

Chris -

Get well soon and keep up the typing, good physiotherapy I'm sure.

I didn't see last nights England game as my SKY box decided to go on strike, fortunate timing it would appear. Mr. Murdoch has promised me a new box for Saturday!!

sick as a parrot said:

4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1... we all know it will be the standard 4-4-2 with at least two players being played out of their best position.

At least there should be a good atmosphere at the game. I am still very suprised that the police have allowed this match to kick off at tea time on a Saturday.

But not as suprised as I will be if the ginger one changes his set in stone tactics.

C'Mon Boro!

Richard said:

Chris from Beverley -

Sorry to hear about your mishap. I hope you got his/her number! It's good to know your mind and at least one finger still works! Hope you're fully restored and well soon.

Werdermouth -

I don't often disagree with your posts, but I do on this occasion. I don't know if "it's just you or not", but I found the tension and drama of the build up to and the first part of the miner's rescue utterly captivating.

Because I could, without serious consequence, I sat up and watch until just gone 4am this morning - until just after the first miner had been brought to the surface. I had the sound turned right down, because I get irritated by commentator repetition (and my wife gets irritated by noise in the night!). Matt Frei and the other guy had a tough job trying to find new stuff to say and I wouldn't do their job even for a pension. (I couldn't anyway, because I couldn't speak Spanish - I was impressed by that in them I have to say).

The technical challenge was immense. The Chilean TV coverage was impressive and intriguing and frankly, refreshing, in that such close-up exposure to a real life unfolding drama is rare. The Chileans are to be acknowledged on several fronts for :

1) Exposing their rescue efforts to realtime scrutiny and immediate judgment by the world

2) Conducting a professional rescue from deep underground while controlling a media circus

3) Elevating human life to be primary over cost (although we can argue the political ramifications or motivations for that)

It was fascinating to watch the players in the drama perform also. The political interventions by the President and his wife - including having a live camera always strategically available to capture them in suitable video opportunities at critical stages of the project/process; the media briefings and updates by the Minister of Mining; the technical explanations of what was happening; the positioning of cameras at principle points of interest, including the miners' family camp locations.

But especially, it was sensational TV capturing the point of breakthrough, the first arrival into the underground workshop cavern by the Phoenix capsule carrying the mining expert and being able to watch from underground, the departure of the first rescued miner and then the 10-15 minute wait, while the winch slowly brought him to the surface, was more tense and consequential than any bloody football match I've see in the last four years!

Beyond that, the drama diminishes markedly, until all miners and rescue personnel are out - unless at some point, we have an "Apollo XIII" moment and suddenly the world sits up and takes notice because it becomes non-routine again.

I considered it far better TV than the 95 minutes of England v Montenegro, with MUCH wider human interest. But then, the life of a relatively poor Chilean miner means as much to me as that of a multi-millionaire footballer. In fact, probably more so, because his life is spend in hard honest toil in dangerous conditions to almost literally scrape out a living for him and his family - for all of his working life. By comparison with

.. no contest!

In 5 years time:

Q1. Where were you when England drew with Montenegro in a no-scoring draw?


Q2. Where were you when 33 Chilean Miners were rescued from two kilometres underground having spent 69 days trapped with no means of returning them to the surface, the first 17 days of which they didn't know if anyone were even looking from them, and nobody knew if anyone was still alive?

A. I was watching them both on TV. But only one sticks in my min(e)d!

Richard said:

Nigel Reeve -

There's life outside of SKY you know!! It was on ITV!! You didn't miss much though!

tim from sa said:

Speedy recovery Chris -

Mac and Lita up front for me if we play three then Kink as well. Would start with Bates and Mac central with Wheats on the bench. Boyd on the bench to replace Mac last twenty mins.

scoredraw said:

So pleased to see England stutter and splutter. The England setup is polluted by a variation of the 'old boy network'.

Stewart Downing was treated very unfairly by the management. One minute Capello is saying that Downing is "the player who has impressed him most" the next minute he disappears without so much as a nod of recognition. Clearly a place needed to be 'freed up' to accommodate Lampard, Terry and Ashley Cole's buddy and team mate Joe Cole! Personally I think Joe Cole could have been selected on merit but not as left midfield/winger.

In moments of real partisanship I used to think that Ashley Cole wouldn't pass to Downing. After last nights game I now realise it's because his touch is so heavy he can't control the ball and this affects his passing and consequently ANYONE who plays in front of him. Hence the constant 'problem' with the left sided midfield. Cole has impressive sharp and mean, defensive qualities - I don't think he has an equal at the painful and spiteful tackle but God help whoever plays alongside him.

The reason I like Tony McMahon so much is because of his 'completeness' he can tackle, he can pass, he TAKES CARE of is team mates, he's brave both physically and mentally. All that with Geordie genes - it's a miracle !

When Downing, Johnson and McMahon take up their rightful positions in the England starting line-up I'll start wishing the team well but until then I'll enjoy the clumsy, awkward, disconnected efforts that they offer us. Thats a balanced and principled stance isn't it ?

"Gareth Barry is CRUCIAL to our success" quote from Capello.

And did I hear a commentator say that Wright -Phillips had 30 caps ?

Take me now Jesus I'm ready !!!!

Nigel Reeve said:


Unfortunatley if my SKY box isnt working then my TV doesnt work, I'm afraid I've been sucked in by the Murdoch machine!

Kevin Thomsons interview in the Gazette made me smile (weakly), he states Boro have a squad of talented individuals who are good enough to win this league; not this season mate.

Jesus said:

Your time as not come yet scoredraw.

You still have plenty of good work left to do.

Jarkko said:

Scoredraw -

did you mean the England team and Boro are as good - or they are just played similarly...

ronmarg said:

Interesting time to have the Brownlee / Gibson interview.

No doubt after the best gate of the season so far, and hopefully / fingers crossed / lucky rabbit foot in place after a positive result against Leeds, the hope will be that the feel good factor will mask the failings of this team and coaching staff.

The players are as good as any in this division but this team needs a switched on coach, how many games is it now where Boro look good until the oposition suss them out and retake control. A situation Boro have not been able to recover from.
McClaren had his faults but his coaching team were well capable of overturning the oppositions game.

scoredraw said:


I was getting some satisfaction out of England's failure because of the shabby way they have treated Boro players over the years.

Watching a bad tempered (and that's his main problem) Rooney stomping around cheered me up and took my mind off the Boro momentarily.

When Wright -Phillips came on I really had good laugh. The thought of playing him or Lennon in front of Stewart makes me smile so much.

I particularly like to see England produce a grim performance at Wembley - because I can't stand the place but I particularly despise the crowd there (all of them !!!). Everything about that stadium is paskalla or as they say in Middlesbrough "rubbish!"

I walked on the gulf of Bothnia once - near Pori. It was in March, I could hear the ice straining and cracking (not because of my weight before you ask).

Werdermouth said:

Jiffy, I don't think even the entire chilean engineering team would be able to rescue Boro from the deep hole they're currently in.

Richard, no doubt the logistics of the rescue were amazing and it was probably quite interesting up until the first or second man being brought to the surface.

But I defy anyone to watch all 33 men being rescued - at 8.00am this morning I saw the spinning wheel turn as the 3rd man came up and then having just turned on the news at 6.30pm to watch the spinning wheel once more as the 17th man arrived - it's not news, it's a soap opera with a very thin plot.

Forever Dormo said:

The quality of the participants, let alone the readership, of this Blog has gone to an entirely different level. The post at 3.53pm explains.

It would be a little cheeky to have asked for a result on Saturday against Leeds, but maybe keeping an eye out for Chris from Beverley would have been a better use of His powers.

**AV writes: If his advertising slogan is for real, get him in goal.

chris from Beverley said:

Guys -

Amazing what you can do with one good thumb and a blackberry !

Very touched by all your kind messages, bored stiff in hospital already, hope to go home tomorrow.

Just hope the players can make smile on Saturday as much as you guys have.


braveheart1 said:

Seeing there is a few comments on here about England, can I level things out and say what a brave marvellous display from Scotland against the European and world champions Spain.

Although we got beat it was a great performance to come back from 2-0 down
not like England who were playing a bunch of waiters from Montenegro and could only draw with them.

2-0 to Boro on Saturday, goals from Scotland's Kris Boyd

Smogonthetyne now in nunthorpe said:

I'm with the big J. Scoredraw is always good value, I can't wait to read his response when Tarmo Kink is picked at right back.

I wonder if with J's apperance he might be working on a miracle. Water into wine, no problem. Boro win on Tuesday. .........Halelujah!

Mrs GHw said:

**AV writes: If his advertising slogan is for real, get him in goal.

....But Boyd gets the rebounds!

Percypieblocks said:

Kevin Thompson states: 'All the players are behind the manager'.

Well that's approximately 20 against 20,000, including Gibbo and Lambie.
If only the 20,000 were union votes.

For the first time in my life I'm not sure who I want to win this Saturday, now that is sad. Unfotunately I'd bet not being the only one. Don't get me wrong though, if 'The Ninger' can take us on a winning run, I'll get behind him but can I see that happening? Not really.

Smogonthetyne now in Nunthorpe said:

AV - would I be right in thinking you might have had a little chuckle to yourself over Liverpool’s plight?

It still staggers me that some Boro fans want rid of Gibson. He might not have made every decision 100% correct and has stopped throwing million after million into the club. But is this a crime? No way. without Gibson I dread to think where we would be.

It’s not great at the moment, and has been tough for the last few years but could anyone of done any better? Would we prefer Madcap Mandric appointing seven managers in six seasons then selling out to a Malaysian consortium?

It’s Middlesbrough Football Club. Run by, run for and the benefit of the town and its environs and at the moment we are only good enough for 38th best in English Football. Sulking, whinging and woe is me’s is not going to improve that stat.

Let’s deal with it and move on. Eindhoven was over 4 years ago now. It was great, remember that.

**AV writes: Oh yes, a chuckle... we have been swigging the odd foaming pint of Schaudefraude and doing "calm down, calm down" gestures at the grieving "Teesside Reds" at Gazette Towers all week.

Nigel Reeve said:

Werdermouth -

I agree the Chilean Engineers would have quite a task in rescueing the Boro team from the deep hole they find themselves in. Not least because the population which would spring up around the rescue shaft would be shouting 'Oi! let the buggers stay down there, they're all bloody useless'.

In addition there would be The Ninger insisting that the Pheonix rescue capsule was of square design and had to be forced down the round hole at all costs and finally rather than bring them up in a 1-1-1-1-1 formation, no doubt he'd insist in bringing them up in a 4-4-2!!

Anlov said:

«I decided this man could not be trusted an inch - I would not want to expose my back to him in a hurry » - Alex Ferguson, about Mr. Strachan.

**AV writes: Ouch. Although to be fair, Fergie doesn't have a good word for too many people. Especially after they have left.

Leave a comment

 Energy Efficient Windows and Conservatories Ltd


Follow Untypical Boro on

Untypical Boro's Twitter

Sponsored Links