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Brittle Boro Bottle Big Cardiff Crunch

By Anthony Vickers on Apr 7, 12 07:19 PM


BUGGER. And I wasn't going to swear. After the massive build up with rallying cries and bold statements of intent and big talk about mental toughness and natural winners who could handle the big games in the play-off pressure cooker, brittle Boro just wilted.

It was an opportunity to ignite the flagging season, galvanise the home support and launch Boro back into the play-off frame. And it went begging. Boro may just have missed their best chance to shape their destiny and ensure the season finished on a high.

Leaden and laboured, stilted and stuttering, they started with their now customary low tempo and were swiftly punished by a side that - after a nervous and erros strewn first few minutes of their own - quickly seized the initiative.

Cardiff punished Boro's chaos at the back by first plundering the obligatory goal from a sloppily defended corner then, with the rar guard in disarray Joe Mason turned Joe Bennett and Steve McManus inside out twice before sweeping home a second that was greeted with jeers, groans, sighs and the long hissing sound of a season deflating.

And it could have been worse. Jason Steele could easily have gone after he clattered Kenny Miller after three minutes. It was a poor touch back from Bailey that forced him to charge out but Miller definitely got a touch on the ball and was away when Steele wiped him out. He never got the ball. He was the last man. It may easily have been red. And with no keeper on the bench we could have been talking about a massacre.

As it was they clipped the bar and had a fair few other chances in a nightmare first half in which, let's be frank, Boro were rubbish. They were awfu. It was a disastrous first half. It was a shapeless mess. There was no cohesion, no tempo, no conviction, no spirit, no movement, no penetration. Passes were going astray, the first touch was terrible, crosses were wayward, clearances were weak. It was rubbish.

The defence were being ripped open with embarrassing ease with Joe Bennett in particular struggling to deal with routine diagonal balls. But he was the worst of a bad bunch. The midfield were just as bad; they were pedestrian and lacked imagination or urgency or enterpise. Up front it was laboured and toothless. Not one player came out the first 45 minutes with any credit. No wonder they were booed off.

The second half was better - plenty of pressure, more enterprise, everyone was pushing on with a cavalier urgency and there were a flurry of half-decent chances although mainly from distance and three times the woodwork was rattled - but the damage was done. There was no clawing it back. We didn't deserve anything. The only real pivotal moment was the Hammill shot against the post early in the second half. Had that gone in, who knows what may have happened. After that, for all the possession, it became more frantic and less convincing.

And it must be said the change in th egame was as much down to Cardiff changing their tactics as anything Boro did. They surrendered the ball and sat back and you got the impression that had Boro scored they would go back on the offensive. As it was they still had a couple of decent chances on the break. They did us good and proper.

After the game Mogga was downbeat despite his attempts to convince us that we are still in the mix while smarting skipper Barry Robson growled through two minutes of surly Strachanovite simmering and snapped at a question about being baited by the crowd at half-time. Both remain confident Boro can do it. Few people chuntering away after the game share that conviction.

We are still in the mix. You can't rule anything out in this crazy division and for all the gloom after that massive dent we are only one point outside the play-offs. But now there is no room whatsoever for error. One more defeat and it is probably game over.

We are where we are because other teams have repeatedly failed to punish our slips. In the past few weeks that has changed as Blackpool, Cardiff and Birmingham have all stepped up a gear and improved their form just when it matters. In contrast Boro have flat-lined. No wins in seven. Four points from 21. That's not good enough.

Home displays have been icreasingly pedestrian, predictable and unprofitable. And in every big match bar the cup clash with Sunderland the side have frozen. For all the good, progressive things that have happened this season, very few have been at home and that has fed directly into an atmosphere of frustration and dismay. That malaise as much as anything makes the Cardiff display a disaster. It was a chance to clear the gathering gloom. Riverside regulars are losing heart.

If Boro are to somehow squeeze into a play off place they must get at least two wins from the next three - Hull and Derby away then rock bottom Doncaster Rovers at home. One of those wins will probably need to come on Monday at Hull or the stats could shift against us and a big gap could open above that will be hard to claw back.

It would be fantastic to make the play-offs and to some extent an over-achievement given the limitations of the squad and the budget and where we all expected to finish when we kicked off in August. If we fall short now after being among the front-runners for so long it would be a major disappointment - but not a surprise given recent form.

But wherever we finish, we need the season to finish on a high. If we want to reshape with confidence in the summer - and shift season tickets - this campaign can't be allowed to fizzle out without giving it a good crack in the last five games.

39 Comments

arniemar said:

Budget? Didn't Boro spend more than £1m on a new striker in the transfer window?

Redcar Red said:

Here was a major moment in our season, a victory defining moment in the making, three points and we would be well on our way to the play offs. The time for caution and monotonous negativity was behind us. This was it, this was to be Mogga's finest hour to date - but before kick off there was shock, moans and disbelief when the team was announced.


A midfield of Tommo and Bails crashed and burned last time, but here it was being repeated, Robbo as a wide player? Yer jokin arn't yer? No Julio who had played his part last time out, no Richie who had added a bit of zest in the middle.


What followed was predictable. A mixed up mono-paced muddle in the middle so deep they should have had snorkels, meant no support whatsoever for Juke and Mac. Joe Bennett managed to take his woeful post Xmas form to an unbelievable headless low, at least his booking now means Mogga has to take his head from his ostrich stance in at least one position.


Why did I pay good money to sit and watch a disgusting, clueless, spineless, inept, spiritless, negative and disgraceful display? Before the game my twelve year old son and his best friend refused to go, yes refused to go, saying they have had enough of being bored, exclaiming "they are rubbish and aren't bothered" and they would rather play on their PS3's.


When I challenged them that this was a big game and we would be more exciting as we had to win my son looked at me and said "Dad we will do nothing except be boring for the 1st half as usual, Joe Bennett will give the ball away like he always does and then it will be too late".


Now if a 12 year old can predict Mogga and his tactics well before kick off and be unnervingly accurate then I think its time for a change.


There will be three more red plastic seats at Doncaster and Southampton. Like my son I have had enough of this drivel. I don't expect us to go unbeaten at home, losing to Cardiff is acceptable but the manner of the defeat was not and never ever under any circumstances will be.


Mogga has to be applauded for turning around a club that was heading to League 1 but that’s where it ends. His blind and bloodyminded desire to kill what little enthusiasm and support I have by making incredulous continual negative team selections with tactics that we hoped were confined to the era of the GS's has finished me for this Season at least. If I'm being totally honest at this moment in time I doubt I will return while he remains in charge, there I've said the unthinkable!


To witness one of our own players being booed when he touched the ball was a very sorry and dispiriting event, then to have it followed up with ironic cheers and jeers when Tommo was subbed illustrates the Mogga love in bubble well and truly exploded today.


I doubt there will be more than 10,000 to watch Doncaster Rovers be made to look like Brazil and probably 13,000 against Southampton to witness the final humiliation.

Anguished of Angola said:

It is now my firm opinion that MFC does not want promotion, and given the calibre of players in the 'squad', who can blame them?


A sound thrashing every week in the Premier League would not bring the crowds back, in fact I believe the crowds are gone forever, disillusioned with the abject mediocrity, and worse, of the last several years and burdoned with diminishing income. No money and no prospect of money with Gibson at the helm all serves to paint a gloomy picture.


I have supported this team for more than 40 years through thick and thin and yet, for the first time ever, I find myself becoming disinterested after various periods of depression, anger and frustration. Somehow, the 'thin' of yesteryear did not seem as dark as it feels now, even in 1986.


I fail to see how Middlesbrough FC is going to survive another year in the Chumpionship, given the £14m bail-out by Gibson O'Neill and the startling monthly losses. Gate receipts, such as they are, are now virtually the sole source of income and failure to get promoted will only exacerbate a reduction in that income (and by the way, if I was O’Neill, I would be seriously cheesed off!).


Average £25 a head per ticket, average 14,000 punters through the turnstiles - as the Yanks say, do the math!


Football, as anyone knows, is not a viable business and Boro is, in my opinion, heading once more towards the abyss...

pete said:

Steve Gibson has done all he can for the Boro. It would to everyone's benefit if Steve now sold the club to some one who can put serious cash in for decent players. He's been a diamond but now he should bow out, sell the club to a wealthy who ever.


We all know no one with serious cash is going to be as loyal to boro as he has been and how he feels about the town but surely he can see how fed up we all are. Surely he would love too see the club once again in the top flight with a decent chance of doing something other than be the prems whipping boys.


I'm off to bed anyway, sick as a Redcar donkey.


**AV writes: Who is going to buy Boro and put serious cash in for players? There are far bigger clubs than Boro who can't find the mythical Arab billionaire. Plenty of chancers about though. Maybe one of those might try?

Martin Narey said:

I sense a massive loss of proportion here.


Yes, we were awful in the first half and there should have been substitutions much earlier. But in the second half we were much better and were dreadfully unlucky not to have scored. They couldn't clear a ball and if one of the four rattles of the woodwork had, instead gone in, then Cardiff might well have caved.


I thought at the beginning of the season that to be in touch with the play offs as the season ended would be a good outcome. That's where we are and if we finish eighth or ninth that's not a disaster. Not least because the team has a key disadvantage.


We may well have the best away support in the division but we surely have the worst home support. Just as with the Bristol City match we turned on the team as soon as we were behind.


Finally, if we win on Monday, and we have a good chance, we will be back in things once again. But if we lose, it's still been a good season.

John Breckon said:

Our home results and performances have killed our season and place the whole future of the club of at risk. In five seasons we have a 38% home win ratio, that's one in three.


Whilst the Riverside and Teesside faithful don't believe in the team, in Mogga and the club we must forget Premiership ambitions.


Unless the pain of a visit to The Riverside is exchanged with pleasure then sadly we are watching the slow death of a football town.


The only fans who have seen the potential of our team and the revival under Mogga are the away supporters and this is a great shame. The Riverside is a nightmare to watch football for home supporters I'd like to suggest some configuration changes.


Close the Upper Tier - for home fans, stick the away fans in a corner of the Upper. (as far away from the pitch as possible). Move all home fans down into the lower tier, deal with the Red Book/loyalty issues we simply cant have groups of three or four people sitting alone in blocks of 100s of seats.


Seat Boro fans behind both goals. We must ensure the away team keeper and defenders know they are in a game. Ask yourself how easy it is for a visiting keeper to defend his goal in front of an empty stand? The fans must feel they can impact the result/game/performance, at the moment they don't.


Forget tinkering with pricing for next season, fans will find a fair amount to support their team IF the match day experience is worth it ie the team is performing and the fans are really supporting the team. A visit to The Riverside has to become a special event not just routine.


As I've said on Twitter I fear the the Mogga reign is the last throw of the dice for Mr Gibson. The Riverside is a stale and depressing place. Unless something changes and regardless of what happens in the next five games the crowds will go down next season.


Never mind save our season, we are talking about something a bit bigger.


If and when the club introduce changes try and think about the bigger picture.


Up The Boro

Forever Dormo said:

I thought it would be better to allow some hours to pass before posting, or I might say something intemperate.


Some of the 5 posts already to be seen here at the time I type this contain instructive comments. Redcar Red has clearly come to the end of his tether. "A mixed-up mono paced muddle in the middle..." was as alliterative as it was accurate. I'm sure no-one who paid to see the game would have expected a midfield of Bailey & Thompson to produce anything positive, and Robson starting out WIDE...why? His best work is at centre-mid but, whilst there might be an argument for him behind the striker(s), he is no wide-man.


I wasn't too keen on the booing that sounded out in the second quarter of the game when the ball went to Bennett, but that will be a game he will want to forget. Thomson's substitution was cheered loudly (and more of him later...).


If youngsters would prefer to play their console games, and can predict what will happen, as Redcar Red indicates, we'll have a real problem in the future. And if people like RR are contemplating not returning to the next home game we have a problem NOW. It will have to be fixed NOW as well.


Anguished doesn't think the club wants promotion. I don't agree with that. I accept we would be a very poor Premier League outfit even with the extra money that promotion would bring, and that we would be heavy favourites to come down with one of the lowest points totals in recent years. But we would be able to keep some of the playing staff we want to retain at this stage, and we would then have four years parachute money to use prudently to plot a quick return and gradually to strengthen the squad in the manner of WBA after a bit of yo-yoing.


I think we all realise that Gibson doesn't have the money to be able to afford to continue to bale the Boro out financially.


Pete acknowledges that point, too. But if Everton can't find a buyer (with its unbroken history of top-flight football) how can we expect a Sheikh or some oligarch to decide to invest a few hundred millions in our club. Actually, for a few hundred millions, he could probably have the whole TOWN of Middlesbrough, and maybe throw in Stockton as well, not just the football club. *#OK, I saw the ball drift across the goal line and couldn't resist poking it in, unlike some of our players against Cardiff#*


Martin Narey is this Blog's conscience, the little voice at the back of your mind telling you to keep a sense of proportion. I see where he comes from. We WERE awful in the first half, we DID improve in the second, if only one of our woodwork bound efforts had gone in.... I take his point about the home as opposed to the away support and, yes, we are still in with a shout of a play-off place.


On the other hand, the club sells HOME season tickets not away ones and at the end of the season it is likely one would have difficulty filling the fingers of one hand with League home games that were a good way to spend an afternoon.


The fact we were awful in the first half is getting to be a serious issue. We always start slowly - why can't we do something about that? If WE could set about other teams with gusto in the first 15/20 minutes, maybe score a couple of goals and knock the heart out of the opposition, the game could be won, not lost, by half time and we could all then enjoy 45 minutes of entertainment in the second half.


Is it now 11 games (ie almost a quarter of a season) since we scored a first half goal? Why is that? No team can expect to be successful if they only compete for half a game. You could almost understand it if it was a fitness issue and players were flagging in the last quarter, but to be cold and seemingly unprepared in the first quarter is fast becoming Boro's USP.


No-one thought Thomson & Bailey, together in the middle, was a good idea. It would be good if the idea were not repeated, but I fear it might. Smallwood for Thompson, surely!


Thommo will not want to put that game on his CV when, as surely must happen, the club tries to move him on in the summer. I believe he is on one of the very highest wages in the club - maybe six or more times as much as Smallwood for example. You'd get more games per season (if picked) out of Smallwood. Thommo rarely passes the ball forward and against Cardiff misplaced passes or failed to control balls played to him fairly regularly. He is an unlucky player and we need all the luck we can get at the moment.


Someone in the West Stand suggested after the game that Thommo had started 10 games this season and we had lost every one of them except one - and in that game he was sent off! I haven't checked the records but if that is correct, then it would be a good idea not to pick him again, don't you think? It would be better for the team to win a few of the remaining games, even if we don't get into the play-offs.


Anyway this isn't meant as a "have a go at Thommo" piece. There were several players in that team who played poorly. Most teams in most games will have players who do very well, some who are OK and some who perform less well that particular week. It's just that, when most of the team seem off colour together, the result is inevitable. Against Cardiff, the game was virtually over after 20 minutes.


I know we struck woodwork three times, but they also struck woodwork, missed some chances that could have made it very embarrassing at half time and we could (as AV says) have been a goal down and without a goalkeeper for most of the game. Cardiff could then have declared at half time and still won.


I have spent better afternoons than that. There were comparisons being made about this performance against Cardiff being worse than THAT (cup quarter final) game against Cardiff but both had the same result.


To win games, a team needs hard work and commitment from the players towards a common end. Bickering between players, whilst once in a blue moon might be a sign of "spirit", is more often a sign of division in the camp, blaming others for one's own failings etc. For example a stroppy blond Scots midfielder misplacing a pass yards behind its intended target so the ball goes out of play, then berating the team-mate for not being in the "correct" position.


There is a clue there, mate! Use your eyes. If the player isn't there, don't put the ball into that empty spot so that it inevitably runs into touch and surrenders possession.


All in all, a fairly depressing afternoon. On the other hand, McMahon's status has improved as a result of not being tainted by that performance. And if the end result of all this is that there is a realisation most of the highly paid players who joined the club under a previous regime really are NOT worth the wages, and that we'd be better off playing a group of hungry, committed young players who want to play for us and can improve with experience, then that will be a silver lining to the cloud.


I feel better for that. Thanks for humouring me. I had intended to send some Tweets during the game. I think I managed one or maybe two. It just became too grim an experience after that to share with the wider world, so I kept my counsel.


Hey ho! Hey Ho! It's off to Hull we go...

richard evans said:

AV - what are these limitations to our squad and budget you say are holding us back?


Yesterday’s starting line up included seven players nearly all other clubs in the Championship could not afford: McManus, Thomson, McDonald, Robson, Bailey, Jutkiewicz and Hoyte all cost more than a million.


I can’t be bothered to look but I doubt any Championship team matched that financial output yesterday.


And what about the remaining four paupers on the pitch at 3pm? All have played for England at some level. Yes, even Adam Hammill.


And on the bench. The £3.2m Marvin.


I know only Juke was a Mogga signing, but you’re the manager Tony, deal with it. You’ve got a better hand than most others in this league but are having an off year. You’re also paid a lot of money to do a good job, far more than your contemporaries, but it’s not happening.


2012 has been an on-field disaster but it’s not just results.


The play is smothering all joy and creativity, there is no feeling of belief or expectation. Where is the Mogga West Brom fans loved, with his expansive and forward looking and playing approach?


What’s happened to you Tony? Caution has taken over. If the Academy kids aren’t ready, get rid of them. Otherwise play them or it’s a lost opportunity. Remember Adam Johnson. Held back and held back, and then he was off, and understandably too.


And budget constraints. Most clubs are suffering badly here and we’re doing an admirable job to rectify past mistakes, so live with it. Others do. Steve Gibson doesn’t have a bottomless pocket but he always seems to pull out the cash when we need it. Hence the Juke. There is no better owner.


And, no manager the fans would love more to do well than Tony Mowbray. But you’re slipping Tony. Gareth Southgate was a equally a brilliant team captain but lost his halo eventually and was, shamefully, derided by the fans in his last days.


I don’t think that will happen to you, but as Redcar Red notes, the love-in is over.


And finally Tony, please shut up about the play offs. How can a team faring as badly as the Boro ever hope for promotion? You need to win three play-off games effectively, for that to happen, which is all we’ve managed in 2012 anyway.


And what would Premier League football bring us now anyway? It won’t be any easier to reshape in the Premier League than it is now in the league below.


We’re fast becoming first, rather than distant, cousins to the Geordies with this degree of delusion.

Back to AV. You tag Barry Robson with ‘surly, smarting, Stachanovite and simmering’ in the post match interview. It’s a fair assumption then that these personality traits, and the Strachan influence by proxy, are still at large, at Rockcliffe during the week, in the dressing room and on the field. And they’re not working.


‘Barry’s a leader’ we’re often told. Well lead him to the door and now.


A final fling with Smallwood, Williams, Reach and Park would do more for next season than any spurious dalliance with the play offs.


**AV writes: One of the limitations on the squad is the inability to move on players who were brought in by the previous manager and who in one way or another have been found wanting who are not wanted but whose wages mean no-one will take them and whose wages mean there is nothing else in the coffers to buy or play new players. Of the starting line-up yesterday only Jutliewicz and Hammill were not available to Gordon Strachan. There's the problem.


The boss has spent 18 months systematically clearing out as many players as he could to reduce the wage bill and filled the gaps with short-term make weights but is nowhere near the squad to play the football he wants in the shape he wants and yet despite that is still getting better results and performances out of them.


Sandy said:

'We won't crack under the pressure of the play-offs' - you're aving a larf Mogga, you've bottled it again.


Home displays increasingly pedestrian - sorry AV, they've been pedestrian all season mate, however you are right on the mark they are certainly predictable.


Said it before, let's have a reality check in that this current Boro squad will not get into the big league, we are kidding ourselves. To gain promotion you have to be consistent and you have to make you home ground a fortress, we are neither consistent and then there is the Riverside, enough said.....


Mogga, you've worked a minor miracle son to raise this phoenix from the ashes of the Southgate/Strachan debacle, however pinch yourself mate, getting back to the Premiership requires consistency both home and away and a few bob from the tea lady's biccie tin to buy some quality. Until that happens we are a mid table championship team - sorry rose coloured glasses brigade that's reality

ron in the delta said:

What a differnece a season makes. Last season we were all big grins as we de-railed Cardiff's expected promotion place. While revenge will be tasting sweet for their supporters they didn't exactly derail ours this time but Boro have done everything these past four - seven games except wave the white flag.


How on earth can you start a game as important as this was flat, show no method or real desire?


The conspiracy theorist in me says this comes from on high, do Boro really want to get promoted just now when the restructering is not over? Surely Mowbray's mandate was to survive well this season trim the wage bill again and see what 2012-13 brings.
Do we want to see Boro limp into the play offs, who knows even maybe win it and worry from game one in the Premiership?


On a more positive note Boro have more away games than home games .......


**AV writes: It is ludicrous to think that Boro don't want to go up. They could then restructure on the gravy train and even they got battered they would come down with four years parachute money.


Jarkko said:

Terrible to see people so negative here. I was shocked with the result and performance yesterday, too. But I haven't seen Redcar Red so negative yet, so this is alarming for the club.


So even I couldn't listen to the first half on radio Ali. I felt that low. But luckily there are people like Martin Narey who saves your day. Yes, we still have a chance for the play-offs!


Still after our bad run of Jan and Feb, I was thinking that we just need to get up to our normal form of the year 2011. And with a bit of luck that could have meant even automatic promotion. That was our normal performance level last year - the whole 12 months.


So I will be disappointed that we have to fight for the play-off place. And our current form does not show great belief in winning those play-offs either.


Anyway, we need to fight as long as we have a chance. I am sure the players will know that this might be their only chance they will get to get promoted to the PL. And every footballer must dream of doing that, mustn't them?


I seems that we cannot score a goal at the moment. But still I will jump on the plane next Saturday morning and I will be there at Derby to rally Boro for the play-offs. And at the match against Doncaster - surely we must score a goal against them, mustn't we?


So a bit disillusioned still. But we - the fans - must keep on supporting the team until the the end. We just might - might - still do it. Let's give it a try.


Up the Boro!

Bishops Waltham Boro said:

I had naively thought that our first home-game of the season would have differed from the usual fare you have been subjected to. How wrong I was.


In what seemed like a re-run of the Leeds game we handed the initiative to the opposition straight away with a number of suicidal under-hit passes and poor defensive clearances. All that Miller's early departure did was release Mason to terrorize the defence which had already missed the elephant in the room as man-mountain Turner had the freedom of the six-yard area for his opener.


Things improved with the introduction of Emnes and Martin but we never had the wherewithal to finish off the good moves. One more bad result or two and I think Tony needs to give up on this season and give us a taster of next

The Voice Of Reason said:

Its time to forget about promotion and for Mowbray to ditch his "favourites" and start picking the next batch of young 'uns.


In the unlikely event that we were promoted this season, we would be mullered week after week in the Premier League with this current team we have. Never mind the money, getting beat week after week will not help the next crop of youngsters we have to develop.


Its time to ditch the likes of Arca, Robson, McDonald, Thomson, McManus, cash in on Emnes and start playing the likes of Smallwood, Park, Reach ,Main (and co) every week to give them the experience they will need for next seasons ".promotion push"

Smogonthetyne still in the Championship said:

Please can people stop talking about the play offs. We will not finish sixth. Not the end of the world. We would not beat Brum or Blackpool.


What I am worried about was that performance was totally unorganised. How many times were our players arguing with each other. And it's not 'it's good to see that sort of passion.' That team looked at odds with each other. Something is not right.


Roll on next year


UTB

Percypieblocks said:

Well that was bad man bad, so why am I not spitting feathers, god only knows. We have made it extemely difficult for ourselves but I still feel (hope) that there will be a sting in the tail and knowing the Boro there's a good chance of that.


Disappointed that Robbo was moved out of the centre and that players who performed well the last couple of matches didn't start.


It must be an age thing with me as I've been through all the ups and downs for longer than most others on here and I find myself looking at the positives more than I would have done as a younger supporter.


The positives: Although it will be a right kick in the bails if we don't reach the play offs after being right up there all season, we are further forward than I expected at the start of the season.


We have a manager who wants the same as us , who feels the same way as us about the side and the area who must be given the opportunity to bring his own players in, even if that means selling the likes of Williams, Bailey and anybody else he can get money for. Everybody has to realise that he must be hurting as much as us.


Finally we have 'The Chairman' Talk of somebody else coming in is an insult to him after all he has done and indeed is still doing and as AV has stated who else is going to come in, take over the debt and put further monies into the club?


There I've tried being positive now I'm going to curl up in the corner and cry. Finally as Yogi Beara the baseball player once said. 'It ain't over till it's over'.


Onwards and sidewards.

Jeffrey Wood said:

The line up told the story: sit back and look at them for the first half our and assess.
Well Tony the game was over in the first half hour whilst you were assessing the game.
Everyone knows you will sit for 30 mins. So they come and take you apart


Sort yourself out, come out of the traps as if you meen it and pick an attacking team


LAST CHANCE THIS SEASON TONY

John Powls said:

A few extracts from my post-match Boro Banter piece -


This was a totally misconceived endeavour by Mogga compounded by poor execution by the players. Would that this had been a blip in this Riverside season both by the manager and players.


But, if you always do what you've always done........


If you pick a team with Monday in mind (which is what Mogga was talking about pre-match) why expect Saturday's version to turn up?


Thomo and Hammill back in with Robbo on the wing again? Yerjokin'aren'ya? Smallwood benched - never! Arca not even in the sixteen after a few decent performances? Hmmm.....


It is alleged that all is far from harmonious in the dressing room at present (beyond unhappiness with form and results) and there is a significant group of players who aren't happy with how things are being run at Middlesbrough, have already made up their minds to go in the summer, whatever happens, and are openly saying so - and I don't mean Robbo. I'd have to know who all of them were to know whether I was bothered about that or not for next season but what effect is it having on this?


What does bother me is when the team don't turn up on any given Saturday - and especially one as important as this.


Have you heard the same things, AV?

John Stone said:

Whimper,Whimper.... clueless.


Do some of the team not want to reach the playoffs?


Close season, time for a clearout. If you cant pass the ball forward 10 yards, get regularly booked for dissent, can't cross a ball, are forever injured, sorry but you will have to go.


Time for big decisions Tony!

Werdermouth said:

It's certainly puzzling how Boro continue not to be able to perform at home. Surely it's down to Mogga to pick a team and choose tactics that put Boro on the front foot from the start to get the crowd behind the team and unsettle the opposition.


OK, you can say that Mogga hasn't got his players to be able to play the way he wants - but I disagree with this excuse as surely the manager has got to be flexible enough to play in a way that works for the players he has. Also apparently we were the best team Brighton had seen this season so we must have some decent footballing players.


Everyman and his dog knows that Thommo hasn't found any form or match fitness since he arrived and Robson always plays better in the centre. Also McMahon plays with a lot of conviction and drive, plus he has a decent shot on him, but seems to be frozen out - what does Mogga see differently?.


Making the playoffs is going to be very difficult now as we probably have to win one more game than Cardiff - who's run-in is a lot easier than ours appears on paper - I think we'll need a minimum of 11 points, which essentially means winning the next three games and drawing the last two - Any takers?

peterboroangel said:

Bang on! It would be disappointing to miss out on the play-offs after being top 6 for most of the season. I think there is only 6th place to play for.


I also agree - as I've stated before - that there has been over acheivement this season. I know this opinion is certainly not universal.


I'm lucky enough not to have to watch Boro at the Riverside, so can maybe speak a bit more objectively. Would I go to the games if I was local?

Redcar Red said:

A close friend from north of Hadrian's wall sent me this little gem this morning from the Telegraph, Jan 2010 (to reinforce his original view at the time that Mogga would not deliver what we hoped for when he suceeded GSII).


"Concern is growing among the support over Mowbray's ability to turn things around at their club, as witnessed by the fact that their stadium was only three-quarters full at the weekend."


"The evidence is there. We're not far away from being a team that can win consistently. I see us dominating matches and not being able to kill the opposition off but there are enough positives to think the team can erode the gap and make it interesting."

"His Panglossian view is not widely shared by an increasingly disillusioned support. Celtic have won only seven of their 16 home matches thus far."


I really hope that Mogga takes a long look in the mirror this morning and realises that something has to change and immediately otherwise he is recreating the same scenario that seen him usurped at Parkhead.


Another clueless and inept performance from his "favourites" this season will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of those of us who desperately want him to succeed. Its time to attack from the off, bring in Macca at RB for his never say die exhuberance and push Hoyte wide right. Play Robbo in the middle with Bails and probably Arca at LB for his experience and Reach or Emnes wide left.


Martin should be in the middle for creativity if he insists Robbo has to be played wide, anything but the sterile negative desert that is currently described as a midfield.


We know the defence is lacking Rhys and Bates so all the more reason to play higher up the pitch and attack rather than sit back inviting continous pressure on them. If Hull come at us from the off tomorrow and we sit deep with the usual two geared midfield then its clear to me that either Mogga doesn't have it anymore or he has completly lost the plot. For all our sakes I hope he changes the recipe because the cake's well and truly gone stale.

boroininowa said:

It comes down to expectations. We started with lower ones then we went out and did what we did during the first half so everyone raised those expectations.


Mogga has had his hands tied with the money situation, we saw that with the keeper situation. Steele is a good keeper but has a long way to go. As a keeper you need to walk on the field and have that physical presence and be commanding, which Steele can't do yet.


Then we had key players get hurt and we had no quality replacements. Mogga has done a great job with what he has and we are still in contention, but this is the question we need to ask. what would happen if we go up? Can we afford to strengthen the squad enough to stay up?


We have to be realistic and it is frustrating and I don't even get to go to any games to see some of the displays that most of you have had to watch this season. Boro forever

johnMc\c said:

As an exiled BORO fan in Nottingham I have managed to get my two lads to support the Boro (effective brainwashing !) but after taking them to the match yesterday ( and spending £55 plus petrol!) I can understand why they sometimes wonder why they support dad's team!


First half was one of the worst I have seen - and I have seen a few bad ones ! No passion, no urgency and no skill . Come on Tony give them all a massive kick up the backside ! ( and please DO NOT play Thomson again !)

Smoggy In Exile said:

Oh dear.


Three points dropped, and three points handed on a silver platter to promotion rivals. As soon as it went to 2-0, and the similarities to "that" FA cup game were stacking up, I just knew that's how it would finish.


Surely Mogga must realise that his tactic of sitting back and working the opposition out is broken. In fact, it's never worked at home. And I don't understand, and indeed refute, Mogga's assertion that we don't have the players to take the game to the opposition. Utter rubbish. Do Coventry, Barnsley, Hull, Doncaster have those players? No, of course they don't.


The Championship is an attritional battle of mostly limited teams, sprinkled with a selection of better players. Those with good home form are the ones who get stuck into the visiting teams and give their home fans something to cheer. Boro, have not done this. The whole tactics at home need to change. Assuming we don't get promoted, there are realistically 3-4 teams who are "better" than us, and where the tactics at home warrant that caution. Otherwise, attack, attack, attack!


Onto our promotion charge this season. It's out of our hands now. The pressure, in a way, is off. To stand a chance I would say we need to win the next three. Nothing less than three wins in a row will do. Let's see what happens. But we must start with a win at Hull.

ke said:

When Dylan wrote the words “mixed up confusion, man it’s a killing me” he probably didn’t have in mind the supporters of a small provincial industrial town such as Middlesbrough. But it perfectly sums up the confusion that the home only supporters have with this two faced Boro team.


Dynamic and dare I say, fairly slick away from the Riverside, at home they turn into a weak willed sorry excuse for a team that is chasing the play-off dream. And a dream it is becoming, more and more with each passing game.


No wins now in seven, right at the business end of the season, when rivals Blackpool, Birmingham and Cardiff are slipping into top gear. Yesterday’s abject first half display was the most miserable and sad excuse for a performance this side of the Mogga revolution.


I say that because the words in the press, spoon fed to the fans all week were ones of resolution; words that suggested we won’t wilt in the face of play off pressure, words that suggested that the experienced players, you know the ones - the overpaid ones - had seen it all before during their glory days of Europe or Scottish Championship pressures (don’t laugh).


It only picked up after the interval, and improved further with just 30 minutes left, when Mogga finally saw the light, removing Thomson from the glare of the arena, and replaced him with Emnes. I appreciate that Mogga sees something in Thomson that we the fans don’t, but whatever it is, he doesn’t work (literally either) in a midfield alongside Bailey.


Have we blown our chances? Well, really, for the first time this season since we started, I do believe that we may have. Failure to win at Hull on Monday will be the nail that seals the play-off window firmly shut in my opinion. And even if we do limp home, can you really see us beating either, West Ham or Birmingham, (the likely opponents waiting for any 6th place finisher?


Your last post AV on the mythical £10 ticket was a quite superb piece of journalism, worthy of a higher and bigger readership. Maybe with Premiership football back, we would increase attendances by 5000, and a further 5000 on those days we play any of the top six clubs.


I also believe that the price is just about right already, when you compare the price of football across the country. But the truth is that this season’s Riverside “performances” have left many fans laughing at the thought of ever coming back, and those that still do go (myself included, I renewed yet again last week for a 26th consecutive time) basing that not on the prospect of seeing a good game of football, but on the prospect of having a good day out with friends.


I desperately want to see my town back in the Premiership, even if we only survive one season. Simple economics tell me that even one season is worth it to pour money into my club. But with performances from the players such as yesterday’s first half disaster, we won’t be seeing it for some time yet.

gammondagger said:

I responded to a text and email from the club asking me to come and show my support. As I work away, I only make it to about half dozen home games a year and all in all it cost me over £30 with parking etc.


Is it any wonder the place is half empty when fans such as myself turn up to watch performances like that? In fact, with the exception of the Birmingham victory at the end of summer, the games I have made it to this season have been pathetic 1-1 last ten minutes capitulations. Season ticket holders, I respect you all. Working away provides me with an excuse not to have to make such a painful decision!


To say yesterday was bad is an understatement. It wasn't all that bad though was it? Although the first half was abominable the second was completely different. After Emnes replaced the woeful Kevin Thomson I honestly thought we could get a goal and then maybe a lucky equaliser. I thought MacDonald played well with Jutkiewicz and one of them was sure to score.


Shortly after the shameless time wasting (cramp ten feet from the touchline) episode by Cardiff though, I realised it was all over. The ball just wouldn't go in the net. We could quite easily be talking about saving a game after making such an awful start and almost throwing it away.


As it happens though, we did throw it away. Despite having four strikers on the pitch and throwing everything forward there was no Maccarone there to save the day. The bottom line is, we can't score goals. We had more possession and had twenty-two shots on target to their eight. If you watched the team's shooting practice during the warm up, you will have seen it for yourself.


This season and the best chance of promotion we will have for a long time will be wasted, for the most part, due to a dearth of goals.

BoroPhil said:

The first half was absolutely disgraceful, Cardiff were clearly nervous themselves, yet we managed to mess up their attempts to hand chances to us on a plate and seemed eager to return the favour.


The first was the end result of one of many misplaced Thomson passes. I've tried to be patient with him, I really have, but his display yesterday was shocking. How he lasted as long as he did, I'll never know.


Cardiff were poor. We gave them two goals, then they sat back and let us have umpteen chances to get back in the game, maybe in the knowledge that we wouldn't take them. We were unlucky 2nd half, but it was too late by then.


Bennett needs to be taken out of the team; the booing of him was wrong, but he seems totally brainless - he repeatedly didn't track his runner in the first half and his cross across the box in the second when he didn't look up was an example of his generally awful crossing this season. I'd move Hoyte to LB (Mogga did this successfully v Sunderland, why did he not continue it?) and McMahon in at RB.


We have overachieved this season, but on Dec 31 we were 1-0 v Peterborough and heading for the top two. Drawing that game might turn out to be the turning point of the season, it took us over a month to get the two points we dropped back. Having been in that position, it will be a massive disappointment and a failure if we don't get in the playoffs.


As for the club, what on earth are they playing at with ticket prices? Bristol City reduced prices to a tenner and got a sell out. Why aren't we doing the same? Who cares who it upsets? If the club really aren't coming up with any new offers in fear of any backlash, they need new leaders with some backbone.


The current offer on the website is £10 for last season's strip. Wow. Last season at the same time, they were offering last season's strip for £10 so it's hardly the deal of the century.


Despite all that moaning, the future on the pitch is still bright, Mogga will get the chance to bring in more of the players he wants in the summer, but the question is, how many will be at the Riverside to watch them?

halifaxp said:

Doom and gloom all round, eh?


The first half was pants, of course, and everyone knows that. The second half was better, but not enough to worry Cardiff excessively. Very disappointing, BUT...


Did no-one but me notice that, in the midst of the chaos and cluelessness, Seb Hines played a really great game?


I watched him very closely, as I am inclined to seek out the positive whenever such things can be found: with the entire left hand side of his defence (Bennett, Thomson and McManus) having three real 'mares, I carefully calculated that Seb made no more than two wrong defensive moves in the entire game! (A couple of his long balls failed to miss their target, but that's normal for a defender's punts.)


Other than those two defensive mis-steps, he won every ball, every tackle, defused every danger that came within his purview. Unless I am very much mistaken, we have a Pallister-quality defender here (for now, that is, until Man U or some such twig to him).


Hoyte, Jutkiewitcz and Steele all did OK, but Hines, for me, because of the rubbish around him, played really, really well. On the Boro website, only about 5% voted for him as man of the match. I must live on a different planet!

David of Redcar said:

Ground hog day. It is obvious to me and to everyone except Mogga that Bailey-Thomson do not work, they never have, they didn't last time at home and they never will. Leaden and laboured, stilted and stuttering, Bailey and Thomson. It's one or the other but never both.


When driving in and I heard the line up my heart sank, in part because It was not going to work but mostly because my faith in the Mogganuat deflated even before the ref blew the whistle. So please help me AV, please ask, please consider, please reply - why???


I am convinced if the middle two tick the rest of the team tock, the tempo, the style, the aggression, should radiate from these two ( or three ). Against Bristol it was so obvious he changed it at half-time, I was stunned, when they both started.


That decision has cost us our play off place - strange - I will forgive him for after all - he is one of us.

mickymac said:

I think you've summed it up Vic.

Nikeboro said:

As an exile, I mainly get to watch away matches. Having seen fabulous early season games at the likes of Barnsley, it was hard to believe it was the same team when I saw the first home game: from Brazil to Darlington ...


I said last year that our poor home form threatened our promotion chances. Since then we've worsened. We lost our unbeaten record and lose more often than we win. However this is not a recent problem. It goes back at least five years and spans three managers.


Promotion is almost always based on the home ground being a fortress. Therefore, until our long-standing problem is rectified, the odds will be against us gaining promotion. There is no sign of this happening in what is left of this season so TM must make this is priority for next.

Nigel reeve said:

Didn't the wheels come off our season when Rhys Williams and Matthew Bates were injured?

Forever Dormo said:

If you are correct, Nigel Reeve at 9.05pm, the club has been very lucky indeed. With their 2 career histories so far, Boro had no right to expect that Rhys Williams and Matthew Bates would stay fit until most of the season was completed.


If they had been injured together in, say, September (and bearing in mind the past that would not have been an earth-shattering development) we must conclude the team would have been in a relegation fight on the basis of current form. Eek!

Chris from Beverley said:

Disgraceful, not so much the game itself, though it left a lot to be desired; but the mindless racist chanting from the Cardiff fans when Emnes came on. Hang your heads in shame boyo's....


**AV writes: It wasn't racist chanting. They were calling him a "Jack" B******d. Jack is the derogatory term in Cardiff for anyone from or associated with Swansea. It is the equivalent of using Mackem.

Pedro de Espana said:

When it was first mooted that Boro were interested in Tony Mowbray as manager, I was against it. Why? Not that I did not think he could do a good job in the Championship.


It is correct that people say he is one of ours, and I believe that is right, but what worries me is that it will all end in tears.


You have to remember as I have stated before, the majority of fans at the present time have no allegiance to him, they where not here in 1986. He is just a Manager that has to produce results, and where it matters, at home he has failed, miserably.


We cannot score goals yet we had three strikers on the field that cost us £8m. Hit the woodwork how many times? I would have thought it was easier to hit the goal.


Next season I do not think TM will get the same leeway as he has had to date. I think we have one last throw of the dice, in that we have to cash in on the two or three players that will bring a fee.


Let him spend the money wisely. It will then be truly his team and no excuses.

John Dobson said:

Oh dear, I have just read all the latest posts sitting here on a wet Easter Monday. I too feel the gloom which is hanging over us but what as changed. "Typical Boro" has become a much worse expression than what it was meant to signify.


It's now time for praying, not for victories, though that would good but for the coming of the revolution. That is the Parnaby revolution. All his good kids have long since flown the nest, time to blood some more.


By the way, what has happened to Len Masterman. I used to love his nostalgic bits at times of strife.

Nikeboro said:

This season feels like the difference between snatching a late goal to gain a belated point and the opposition grabbing a last-minute equaliser. In the first everybody is delighted & relieved and it feels more like a win. In the latter instance, everybody is gutted, 'we wuz robbed' and it feels more like a defeat.


In the summer I predicted we'd finish about 8th, having flirted with the top-6 but made no concerted challenge for the play-offs. I saw that as positive then, having just escaped relegation, and very encouraging through showing real progress that had the potential to come good next season.


It looks like I won't be far off in my prediction of our finishing position. However it feels very different to anticipated.


In the event, we have done much more than flirt with the top six. We have been in the top six nearly all season and, for the first third of the season, Boro looked likely to gain automatic promotion. Until the last month we seemed bound for the play-offs.


It is now entirely possible that we'll miss out on the play-offs. If we had languished in mid-table for most of the season and then surged to the fringe of the top six, we would all be delighted and looking forward to further progress next season.


However, like the opposition snatching a win, it feels a real let-down. There is genuine progress compared to last season but it now feels like a disaster.


Expectation management.

Nigel Reeve said:

Forever Dormo -


I dont think Mogga had any expectation of challenging for promotion this season, I think the team has performed beyond his expectations and that is partly due to the form of Bates and Williams. I agree it would be foolish to expect either of them to go injury free all season, although William's injury can happen to any player any time.


Pedro de Espana -


It will be Mogga's team next year which can only be a good thing, I doubt he'll need excuses. For me out of all the quotes, comments etc from players and the manager this season the most pertinent was that of Rhys Williams when he signed a new contract and he said the manager had told him the team would be much stronger next season. I expect that to be the case and it will be much stronger on a lower cost base.


We all know our current team lacks pace and guile which is why we cant win at home against teams who come and defend in depth. I expect that to change next season, my son informs me our 'new man' from Ipswich, Leadbitter(?) is very good and fast. I'm sure he won't be the only player Boro sign this summer who fits that description.


I'm looking forward to Mogga's rebuilding; this summer is the first time he's been able to do it without operating with the constraint of players on premiership salaries restricting what he can and cant do.

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