Brittle Boro Lacking Teeth And Belief

By Anthony Vickers on Feb 23, 13 09:41 PM

*SIGH* [expletive deleted] Oh well....there's always next year.

Two more self-inflicted wounds at the back. Another timid display lacking teeth and belief by a team visibly wilting. Another brittle, simmering atmosphere teetering on the brink. Another couple of very costly very poor decisions swinging the odds against us. But we can't keep blaming bad luck, poor finishing, individual errors. Whatever the position in the table, the unity of the club - on and off the pitch - is more important in the wider scheme of things and it is that which is currently fracturing under the pressure.

Crunch time for the season. And the project. Yes, Boro have been on a bad run but it was still a very disappointing gate given the price, the high stakes and the fact that the last home game - Leeds - was great entertainment with a fantastic atmosphere. Gates like that will make it very hard to press pricing arguments on a cash strapped club.

There is a real shroud of gloom around the club now. You watch, Boro will beat Chelsea on Wednsday now. Typical.

More later....


Andrew H said:

Does the manager belief any of the post-match faux optimism he comes out with? I know he needs to sound positive, but he needs to balance it with some realism.

A team that has accumulated 4/27 points this year and is completely devoid of confidence is highly unlikely to muster up the two points a game needed from here on in to secure a play-off place.

Referencing injured players is a bit rich too, Parnaby is hardly a 1st choice, and Woodgate's lack of fitness wasn't exactly a hidden secret. What's more worrying than the lack of form is the demeanour of the team. There is no leadership on the pitch, and heads seem to go down too quickly.

The quality in the league is poor, and Boro are at the bottom of the heap form-wise at the moment. I imagine the relegation threatened teams due up after Cardiff can't wait for the chance to take on Boro.

nikeboro said:

It's not a lack of belief. The players know, better than we do, that they are not good enough. Resulting from that depressing realisation, what we are witnessing are dispirited, resigned performances. The team also knows that the club is not about to recruit help any time soon.

We're all just treading water until the summer in the hope that further team building will give us a sustainable chance next season.

Andy said:

Please refer to previously submitted comments. Nothing much more to say really except that this is a dispirited, shapeless and largely talentless bunch with a manager powerless to do anything about it.

Oh, and some vastly overrated players, notably Williams. Not 'classy' by any means, 'Rolls Rhys'? More like a Lada...and the ground so empty you could hardly hear the boos at full time...

Nick from Brisbane said:

Stick with Mowbray - it will come right. UTB

nikeboro said:

Of course, we've all been waiting for Boro to come good. We've been hoping to see the performances we saw before Christmas and to see the team pushing upwards again.

But what if this is as good as it gets? We've been assuming that the form of September-November was the 'real' Boro. What if that was over-achievement? What if the succesful period was an illusion and the current dire form is closer to our actual capability?

**AV writes: That may be the case. I don't think it is definitive though. I think the early run and the resulting heightened confidence glossed over the flaws in an (above) average flawed Championship side - and the recent run and dampened confidence has exaggerated them. Long way to go yet.

angry_pirate said:

Can't see us beating Chelski somehow.

Forever Dormo said:

You'd better get your tin hat on Vic, because there will be some serious incoming after that performance...

The first half....? Lack of shots on goal against a team with five successive defeats on their recent form list? I was at the game and ended up listening to the rugby on the radio. We cannot expect to do a great deal in this league if we only "play" in the last 15 minutes.

spartakboro said:

Stick or Twist?

Cometh the hour cometh the man - can Mogga do the unbelieveable and turn this around or will the management pack be shuffled and new faces introduced?

As I gaze into the crystal ball I see us finishing mid-table, writing off this season, selling those whom we can next summer (one J Steele moving on)and then hoisting up the shorts for another puff and blunder.

Most importantly Mogga and his team will remain in the driving seat primarily due to financial controls i.e. lack of money to change (unless of course he does a GS2 and then anything can happen), and ultimately we're not going to be relegated this season, so where's the crisis?

Hopefully we can enjoy the game against Chelski and do an 'Oldham' and surprise them in the last ten minutes with a goal from McD in the six yard box.

You may have noticed the laissez faire tone of the comment. Well this 'Cassandra' is out of energy trying, in weeks past and seasons past, to highlight the warning signs.

It will need a change of fortunes of gigantic proportions now to get into the Prem League. Still, if the players have any sense of professionalism, they will need to show some self pride now. We may even see more of Zemmama, who knows?

ron in the delta said:

Boro to beat Chelsea........don't think so.

It's no good trying to play this "flowing" football and trying to emulate Barcelona or even Arsenal in the way we deliver passes near the opponents goal. What is needed is players with the mentality, the ability to make those split second passes. Boro don't have that kind of player. Curtis Main looked threatening, scored a good strikers goal and just missed out on a second...Miller!! MacDonald came on too late as the dye was cast.

Just how many goals has Friend given away now, I make it six. Millwall looked lively and could have had more than the two.

Like it or not Boro lack the mental strentgh to make it through the season, once again off to a cracking start and then the back legs go.

LeninBelgium said:

Shocking, we made Millwall look good. I know we didnt play well, but was I the only one shaking my head at the 0-2 score line.

When McDonald scored, for the first time EVER i didn't jump up, shout or get even the slightest bit excited. It really is in our own hands now, with the Forest growing fast and Brighton in the form they are i think its over for the season. What now for Mowbray? How low can we go?

**AV Writes: There is no pressure on Mogga from inside the club. Everyone supports the medium term plan to rebuild the club and despite results of recent weeks the overall jub he has done - one and off the pitch - has been exceptional.

r00fie said:

More than a "wobble", the body language of the players, the pointing fingers and the angry faces, suggests there is simmering discontent in the dressing room.

The rapid transformation from a team full of optimism, drive and silky skills, to the disjointed rabble we saw yesterday, is beyond belief. Players out of position and Tony`s comments about "chasing" games in the second half, suggests he has the cart before the horse.

Current results are relegation form. Struggling against mediocre mid - table teams, Burnley and Millwall, suggests we are well off track for any tilt for promotion. We have been consistently awful since Christmas. Four points from nine games would see the taxi waiting for any other manager.

**AV writes: Unless there is a general perception they are doing a good job with limited resources: Kenny Jackett for instance.

Pedro de Espana said:

Managed to watch the match, and see at first hand them play since the two Christmas games at home.

It appears to me that they have very little self belief or confidence, and wonder which defence is going to turn up in each game, even Steele does not look his previous assured self, but then that is to be expected with what is happening in front of him at this moment.

The link up play was very poor, with the forwards quite isolated, and getting little support. It is obvious how much difference McDonald makes when he is in the team, and this showed yesterday when he came on.

One observation for me is although Leadbitter works very hard, and always puts in a shift between the boxes, we seem to rely of him too much. He takes all the corners, lots of the free kicks, and does try to shoot at the goal ( normally from distance ). However his deliveries and end result are poor in the main, surely somebody else can be tried, for variation and to take some of the pressure off.

McEachren disappoints me, and I would have preferred one of our own younger players to be given a chance, especially now that the chance of the play offs has almost gone, and we have to look to next season, assessing who may be good enough.

Can Mr Mowbray solve the problem he has got right now? That is going to set the benchmark for his future.

John Bowman said:

Well there we have it. Another incomprehensible team selection set the tone for a miserable evening. I fear that the players are now as confused as the fans by Mogga's constant tinkering and their performance and belief relects that confusion.

McManus is preferred to Hines or Williams at centre back even though he had no future earlier in the season.

The brittle and disaffected defence is crying out for support from a hard tackling holding midfielder. Mogga gives them McEachran who is not renowned for defensive skills. Further up the pitch we were crying out of for his creative streak but he was held back.

Smallwood must be wondering what he needs to do to convince Mogga to start him and Williams, who was totally ineffective in a creative role, could have played in front of the back four if not in the centre of defence.

When we are crying out for width Adam Reach can't even make the bench. Mogga prefers to start the hopelessy out of sorts Emnes.

Mogga's choice of strikers was limited but Millwall must have huge grins when they saw we were set out 4-4-1-1 with the unproven Dyer linking a pedestrian midfield with Main.

It's understandable that Scotty wasn't thought ready for a full 90 minutes but he would have had more value shooting us into a winning position inthe first half than coming on when we were chasing the game. Even then he was arguably the most committed Boro player.

Now I don't think that the confusion and distraction created by Mogga's tinkering are the only reasons that the team seems peculiarly demotivated and bereft of skill in the second part of the season but it will be a significant factor.

Beyond that the owner needs to look at the atmosphere and expectations which he creates around the club. Is he seen as a good pro or a hobbyist? Does he demand the best or accept that 'it is what it is'? Is the luxury of Rockliffe creating a falsely extended comfort zone?

It seems clear that there is pattern of souless performances which have afflicted teams from Robbo, McLaren, GS1, GS2 and now Mogga. Boro seem to be the archetypal Jeckyl and Hyde - Mogga's biggest challenge is to understand that and sort it out. That's what managers are paid to do.

Geoff Young said:

I agree with one thing you say AV. This is and always has been just an above average mid table team who did overachieve early on.

People are asking why we are collapsing like last year? Well over achieving sides in whatever league have always done that for as long as I can remember. Those who had us as the best team in the championship were to put it mildly deluded.

It is easy for a team to play well with confidence when there is no pressure at the start of a season but it takes real quality to keep it going. Maybe a couple of quality additions in January would have kept us going but we couldnt afford it. I am to be honest quite depressed as I dont see TM will change his management methods or that we will be able to attract better quality players in summer.

In fact I think some of our best players will leave for financial reasons. So we need to start playing our good young players giving them experience and hopefully in two or three years we may bve in a position to challenge for promotion in a sustained way. That is the best we can hope for.

nikeboro said:

It's looking unlikely that we'll gain promotion this season. So, to next season: what can we expect from team building in the summer? In my opinion, this team lacks a spine: no commanding CH, no MF general and, most of all, no predatory scorer. However they don't come cheaply and there's no sign of an injection of money.

Of the big earners, Thommo is gone and McManus will join him in the summer. McDonald is another matter. I imagine Woodgate has a good contract but I believe he has a couple of years left. So, considerable progress in reducing these outgoings but still with some legacy issues to be sorted.

However there is ample scope for clearing deadwood: Parnaby, Zemmama, Arca. If we are to build a squad of promotion quality, then there have to be question marks on Bikey, Ledesma and Haroun. It pains me to say it but Woody is also looking like a liability.

That doesn't seem to offer much more headroom in the wages budget. I can't see much alternative to raising money by selling one of our better players but very few would attract significant bids.

So the prospects are for slow, incremental improvement. Meanwhile what will the opposition be doing?

Of course three opponents will be gone to promotion. However they will be replaced by the relegated teams and there are usually one or two of them that are immediate threats. Of the current contenders, you'd expect most of those that miss out to be a threat next year.

Blackburn are well resourced and, with a new manager, show signs of recovery. Davies is having an impact at Forest so they'll be in there. Leeds continue to flounder but, with that support, sooner or later they will click. Finally Bolton and Birmingham are big Championship clubs with the advantage of umbrella payments and one or other will be pushing again soon. Finally, we often see one of the teams promoted from League 1 continue their momentum.

Taking stock: one of the relegated clubs; a couple of the current top 6; Blackburn, Forest and at least one from Leeds, Bolton, Birmingham and the promoted teams.

That's the top 6 or 7 sorted. If we've only made incremental progress during the summer, there's not a lot of room for Boro there, is there?

Ian Gill said:

One thing seems obvious from our recent games.

When we play narrow with no pace, patiently passing amongst ourselves like those pre match routines we witness, then we are toothless and ineffective. Last night McEachran spent a lot of time between the centre backs. That is where the opposition wanted Gazza to play.

We pass the ball around just inside our own half and eventually make a mistake and give away possession or a free kick.

It is only a matter of time before the opposition scores. Any team playing like that eventually concedes, no matter the division or quality of players. That is why Bradford beat Arsenal and Villa.

Once a bit of tempo and width is introduced we look a different proposition. It isnt kick and rush, it is still a passing game but with movement and tempo. We play further up the pitch, we get the opposition worrying about us instead of waiting for us to implode.

All is not lost but is taking some finding.

Grove Hill wallah said:

What a shambling shambolic shambles. So, where to go from here?

Forget about The Championship. There comes a time in a clubs season where you say, yes, that was the pivotal point. In our case this could well be the cup game against Chelsea.

Leeds aside, the team is in complete disarray. The fans are wavering, the managers position is being questioned and sad to say, so is the chairman's. If ever a club needed to grasp an opportunity to kickstart what was once a promising tilt at the Premiership, then this is it.

Everything should be geared to winning this tie. Throw caution to the wind, go "all in " against our nemesis and secure a place in the Quarter Finals. It's up to the fans to fill the Riverside, get it rocking and show the team that, if they want it, the fans will back them to the hilt.

So come on, lets get this season back on track.

Redcar Red said:

After five minutes it was clear the midfield was an incoherent and disjointed mess yet again, up front (or maybe he wasn’t, who knows) Emnes wasn’t great but he at least had a semblance of interest which is progress for the time being at least.

Curtis Main along with Friend for me were the only two that showed fight and endeavour to be joined in that by Scotty when he came on late in the 2nd half. The difference Scotty made was obvious from the off when he chased back and put in a tackle on the edge of his own 18 yard box. His involvement marked an immediate up turn in our mono paced effort to that point.

It was refreshing to see Curtis bulldoze and upend Shittu rather than be pushed over Juke style and fall to the floor with his arms dejectedly in the air.

Our movement off the ball for a so called passing team was non existent. We got possession, had three touches, everyone stood still with no one making any runs at all to drag defenders, lose their markers or to create openings, simply statuesque soul sapping.

Our set pieces were even worse, every single corner consisted of Leadbitter humping the ball into the six yard box for an easy catch for the keeper. Now traditionally Boro Keepers are drilled not to come for crosses but to rely on that premise being universal and having no alternative I find incompetent, free kicks were much the same withy no tactic to deceive and predictable in the extreme.

What do these professional footballers do in training all week? Is any attention paid to improving their skills individually/collectively and to set play tactics in order to gain an advantage?

It seems to me that there is an overwhelming almost paralysing paranoia towards what the opposition are going to do to us to the point where there is no time spent on us doing things better and to greater effect.

Williams had some neat flicks and fancy footwork but in isolation and usually as a means of trying to gain possession, Dyer I think was playing up front possibly but was running around with nobody in a Red shirt even noticing he was on the same side. Mogga obviously realised the same by switching them both out at half time but the worry for me was what on Earth were the tactics supposed to be in the first instance?

If Scotty remains fit and with Main looking to be the real deal, the two of them may yet rescue our Season, but and it’s a very big but, is that because of Mogga or in spite of Mogga?

The Players look dispirited and lacking belief in what or how they are supposed to achieve or carry out their instructions. The diminishing fans, (15,000…….really?) are also rapidly losing belief and the totality of the two equals relegation material. Thankfully we should have amassed enough points already to avoid that for this Season at least.

We can make excuses that they are only an average Championship side who have overachieved or we can ask why they are bottom of the form table because even an “average” side would not be bottom of the form table.

I don’t buy the “average” label, it is an easy cop out covering up what is an implosion caused by single mindedness and an innate inability to mature, grow and develop in the role of management and not for the first time in his career.

There are too many players who have already proven themselves at this level to suddenly be all out of sorts and off the boil simultaneously. Leadbitter, Williams, Emnes, McEachran etc. etc. and even Friend and Steele at times have all looked a shadow of their former selves, this isn't a case of an average side being found out, I think its more a case of an average manager stuck in denial and refusing to learn and embrace new skills in his chosen profession.

Werdermouth said:

So following a season of austerity and the failure to address the points deficit, Mogga's triple-A rating has been downgraded by the moody crowd.

Is the solution going to be more austerity? It seems we have litle choice - though perhaps the Bank of Bulkhaul can print more money in an attempt at a quantitative easying of the stagnating supporter's suffering.

With team confidence all but evaporated, I think most people now regard our playoff ambitions as beyond hope - though I recall hearing after the match that one deluded individual believed we just need to win the next four or five games and we'll be back on track.

Also, there is a rumour that many of the Red Faction are now contemplating staying put next season in order to experience the game from behind the new big screen - unless of course a giant sofa can be found to place in their new location behind the goal.

kev B said:

Don't Dream: It's over. more later....

Paul said:

We lost that game, not because of having worse players, but because of one reason and one reason alone. Rank bad management!!

I wrote on here a few weeks ago about fielding a side that the fans would like to see and the response was that if you do that as a manager then you have already lost. Now three weeks later and another terrible performance you have to ask who does know better the fans or Mowbray?

His selections yesterday were mind bogglingly stupid. Kieron dyer effectively as a lone striker. No width anywhere on the pitch. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to play balls solely through the middle when we are up against a man mountain in Danny shittu clearly does not know what they are doing. The result tells you that.

I have resisted slagging Mowbray off but if you asked me could another manager do a better job with the same squad of players for the first time the answer to that is yes they could. Most managers would be capable of getting this squad of players to play better than they currently are.

Lets not pull any punches the last two months we have been the worst side in this league bar none and if it wasn't for the points before Christmas we would be relegated. Does Mowbray have the talent and nous to turn it around on current observations I would say most definitely no. Over 30 games into the season and not a clue as to what is his best team or formation that says a lot!!

from a very disillusioned fan, who still goes to the games but is finding less and less motivation to do so!!!

Denis said:

I admit I took the easy way out and watched this on TV rather than subject myself to a200 mile round trip on a cold ,raw evening.

I was feeling raw after watching this insipid display. Disappointment is an easy word to use but disillusionment is creeping in as this malaise has gone on for too long.

Two questions characterise my growing disenchantment

Why did we play so narrowly against a big ,rough-hewn, uncompromising team like Millwall? Mogga could have had Reach out wide,a player in case we have forgotten, understandable too, as he has disappeared from view, but one who is fast, direct, and has a good shot on him. Then at some stage in the match be replaced by Caryol.

Why do we play so slowly, our tempo,is pedestrian, allowing teams to get back and fill in the spaces.

I have a great deal of respect and support for Mogga, but no person however powerful, is beyond reproach.

He has 12 games left to salvage our season,should we fail again and abjectly then his position should be reviewed by Gibson.

Mogga is beginning to acquire that haunted look that failing managers develop. mind you so am I after watching this collapse for six weeks

Never Give Up On Boro said:

Millwall previously lost five in a row and the last game hammered 5-1 at home by the bottom club so you would expect them to be low on confidence. Mowbrays answer to that was to start with prolific non scoring Dyer up front supported by waste of a shirt Emnes which resulted in a poor first half,no attempts on target and rarely even venturing into Millwalls box.

Should have started with Miller and Main up front and Caryol on the wing like we finished at Burnley and got at them from the off,instead it's the usual pedestrian tentative tippy tippy football with no end product!

Does anyone ave the courage to shoot? How many times did we get to their box have a chance to shoot but then pass sideways to duck responsibility??

At least Williams was hauled off at half time after yet another awful display of cant pass,can't shoot,can't tackle! I hope that's the last of him for a while.
McEachran,can't tackle,can only pass sideways,won't shoot,get rid!!

Apart from Main and MacDonald when he came on there was no urgency to get moving.

I hope this new loan signing is a right back. Get Bailey back into midfield with Leadbitter with Miller and Caryol out wide and play MacDonald and Main up front and go for the game from the first minute instead of waiting until we are one or two nil down,we need to win 9/13 games left to make the play offs. Not looking likely!!

I'm sick of hearing the same post match comments from Mowbray

"It is what it is,we move on to the next game"

John Bowman said:

With the news that Sammy Ameobi is our loan signing I looked at how Mogga bigged it up: “Just something to give some players a lift, to create some competition, to see if he makes a difference.”

If I were Luke Williams or Adam Reach (both better players and committed to the Boro) I'd see it as a kick in the teeth. It just doesn't seem a move to ingite or unite a despondent dressing room.

LeninBelgium said:

SAMMY AMEOBI!!!??? AV surely even you will struggle to justify/defend this one

john mckenny said:

As a season ticket holder who is going to renew next season I would like to analyse the season so far and question some of the decisions made by management.

In my opinion this squad of players are not good enough to reach the play offs.
We should have made loan signings in the January transfer window to boost our chances of the play offs as the warning signs where there but went unheeded by the management

I also question the tactics employed by TM. He over analyses the opposition, I can understand that if we are playing Man Utd but not v Ipswich , Barnsley or Millwall.

This is not a criticism of Mr Gibson but the future looks bleak.Our better players will leave in the Summer. This will necessitate a massive overhaul of the squad if we are to challenge for the play offs next season. As there in no finance available I can only see a long stay in the Championship


adymac said:

Thanks John Bowman 5.17pm for the link on Mogga, it certainly did strike a chord and sadly it looks like he is heading down the same route with Boro.

I thank Mogga for saving us when it looked like we could go down but the fact is we haven't progressed at all from where we at two years ago. I feel irritated by his post match comments and get the impression he thinks the fans are idiots. He repeatedly asks us to judge him at the end of the season, er no, no one else gets that sort of freedom in their job when they are not producing so why should he?

I am not questioning his desire and effort but he must accept he is doing something wrong and look at ways to get it right. Maybe he should ask the players how they feel about his methods and act on the feedback? Maybe he is trying too hard and expecting the players to understand complicated instructions?

I am bitterly disappointed but we will survive as I believe we have a great chairman in Steve Gibson, who I think has made quite a few mistakes but has the club at heart and will get it right eventually. I wonder when the penny will drop that yet again we have the wrong manager, maybe he knows already but likes Mogga too much to give him the boot. I like Mogga too but I don't rate his ability to take us where we want to be.

I think Forest have got it right by appointing Billy Davies, would like to have seen him have a crack at the Boro years ago but the opportunity has gone.....

David of Redcar said:


Free tickets would have made no difference on Saturday.

It was a very cold Feb night in a seriously cash deprived region, we have two games a week to pay for here and a cup run (LOL). With the team playing like zombies and the game live on TV !! So what do you expect?? (in fact the ticket price did attract a new dad and lad combo who will go again)


I am not a natural optimist (born in Whinney Banks) but I do believe we have bottomed out on our luck and performances. If the rest of the season is like the 2nd half we will go on to win 1-0 every game till April


We have 50 points - we are safe, 6th spot will be ours - i saw a snow drop the other day - spring is on its way

Redcar Red said:

John Bowman's link just reinforces what I have been saying for weeks that rather than learning and progressing as a Manager Mogga is where he is and not for changing.

The worry is that despite it being spelled out many times in many ways he is to say the least intransigent. Interesting that after some very poor Celtic performances where he had lost the dressing room and the terraces after his departure the same players went on an unbeaten run until the end of the season. Are we currently witnessing a silent players revolt or are they just punch drunk with tactical overload?

The next three League games will be defining ones in MFC's future, the short term needs must outweigh any fanciful long term Mogga dreams of the beautiful game. The Chelsea Cup game is irrelevant for me as is the Man U game to follow if we do a "Typical Boro". The financial rewards of the Premiership are too great to have a long term plan based on questionable footballing ideals.

The Ameobi link tonight I find puzzling on several counts, firstly he isn't nearly 40 with a dodgy hamstring; secondly I don't see the point in obstructing Luke W and Reach with another of the same ability and at additional cost unless of course Mogga is going to play him at RB (hopefully not). With Dyer already failing to impress the Ameobi thing has the look of Juke/Hammill to me from last year. Surely we desperately need a RB bringing in on loan and not another lightweight (literally).

lenmasterman said:

John Bowman, Thanks for the link.

I see that the lad who is critical of Mogga thinks Strachan is a good manager, and that he rates Lennon because he just lets the players get on with the game, instead of coaching them. Not a particularly reliable source, then, on this basis.

Ian Gill said:

John Bowman -

I saw the article last week but didnt post the link as I suspect there may be dark forces seeking my address as it is.

Up until Christmas we had the stronger squad, weaker league mantra pedalled as we did well. Suddenly it is a flawed squad under financial constraints in a tough league. I just wish they could decide which option they want.

My view pre season was that I thought we would take time to gel and miss out on a play off place but end the season playing well. Next season would be the year.

It hasnt turned out like that but there we are. It is what it is, we cant rewind the season, only move forward.

Andy said:

15K fans to a game when tickets are 1/2 price? A town gets the team they deserve.....

Jarkko said:

Earlier the season I posted here that let's just enjoy the season and see where it takes us (I was dreaming about Premier League, I must admit). But at the moment the season show very little to get excited baout!

So depressing times. So I just quote what the BBC wrote yesterday:

"Boro's form since the turn of the year has undone a fine run in 2012 that at one stage saw them record a nine-match unbeaten run.

Mowbray added: "I can understand the frustration, but if that's how we've won the games that got us there, we have to continue to do that."

At least we cannot be relegated any more. Let's give Mogga some time to turn the season around. Personally I cannot see that Emnes nor Rhys have become our worst players overnight. There must be light at the end of tunnel even we cannot see it now.

Hoping that the light comes against Chelsea. Up the Boro!

timfromsa said:

The reason we have took until March to drop out of the top six is really due to the other teams not going on a run.

Again the Foxes dropped points and well Hull looked like the deal for second place until Saturday.

Cardiff have missed three chances in three years to go up via the play offs. So a mid table team we are and will continue to be until we change the way we play and stop buying light weight players and crocks who cannot make it in this league.

For example Main is not a great player but is big and strong he plays for the shirt which already makes him better than the rest up front.I would put Scott in that category too.

ron in the delta said:

My take is Boro didn't make any loan signings in January with Main and Carayol due back in the squad but anyway who would have predicted the wheels would have fallen off after the New Year. Now typically it's doom and gloom about a young guy from a Premiership 1st team squad.

I reckon we have the right manager and if not this year then next. Just glad we're not third: the team that finishes third usually fails in the play offs

Ian Gill said:

Ron in the delta -

I have nothing against Amoebi, I dont know enough about him to form a judgement.

My concern is that the youngsters get pushed down the pecking order yet again. I suppose Main's punishment for three in three will be the bench at best on Saturday. If he scores against Chelsea he will be out on loan to Ross County.

Of course he could to Siberia with Reach and Ivan Denisovitch.

Percypieblocks said:

The team that finishes 3rd; gets in the play offs, a team that finishes 10th does'nt.
Which would you prefer?

Andy R said:

No-one can seriously argue that Mowbray has not taken the club forwards. We've taken great strides off the field to put ourselves in a reasonable position to compete. The alternative would have been a catastrophe.

I completely reject adymac's assertion that "the fact is we haven't progressed at all from where we at two years ago". On the field that is debatable, but Mowbray has had a far bigger job than that.

This season, however, could be the first in TM's reign when we don't progress on the field as well as off it. To do both is a big expectation but I'm afraid that is what the manager has to deal with from his *cough* adoring public.

But we can't objectively judge the manager until we see how he goes with the shackles off. Unfortunately, that time may never come.

My feeling is that whilst our best 11 players (whoever they are!) are no better or worse than last season's, the squad is better balanced and more competitive, and so it was reasonable to expect us to improve on last year's total of 70 points. Right now you'd have to say it's difficult to see where another 20 points are going to come from.

I'm not chucking the towel in though. Despite our form and whatever is said on here and elsewhere we are still well placed to get into the play-offs. I am an adult, and can handle it if we fall short so there's no need to write-off our chances now when we are only one point adrift. Frustrated? Yes to put it mildly, but the sense of entitlement from some supporters (not so much on here I should add) is sickening.

Sammy Ameobi? Like all Mowbray's signings to date bar Juke, it seems to be a case of "worth a go, it's not costing us much if it fails". It is symptomatic of the times. I have to agree with others though - if he's worth a go so surely must Adam Reach? I accept, however, that we tend to overestimate the abilities of our academy products because we want them to succeed.

**AV writes: What he said ^^^^^^^

LeninBelgium said:

Why are we signing Sammy Ameobi loan? It really does not make sense.

Even IF the deal doesn't go through (as I type its not finalised) why are we considering it? Play our youngsters. I watched him in an England U-21 game here in Belgium last year and he was awful. It doesnt add up on many fronts.

Midfield/Striker is not an emergency position. Play our youngsters, use them, they will of course be much favourably received, rather than a Geordie who not better than anything we currently have. I really hope that Curtis Main does not go out on loan IF Ameobi arrived (this was his intention for Main not so long back remember)

Come on Mogga, whats going on, you appear to have lost your way. I know you've had a lot of injuries to contend with and a higher than average mistakes leading to goals being conceded, but your tactics and team selections are going against the grain and a set against you is beginning to take shape - a travesty I know.

But its a results game and even in the Championship you would struggle to hold onto your job. Below 6th for me I think, we MUST beat Brighton and Forest at home to stand any chance.

John Bowman said:

I don't (as yet) get the sense that the doom and gloom merchants want Mogga out. What I do detect is a frustration with Mogga's selections and tactics which are costing us points.

At half time, in the pub, at work a damaging consensus is emerging that constant tinkering and over-complicated play is confusing the players and damaging our play-off chances.

Now it could be that the consensus is wrong but we fans would need an understanding of why we're seeing such downtrodden performances. Mogga has been noticeably quiet about this but needs to convince the sceptics that, firstly, he knows what's gone wrong and, secondly, is able to manage with it.

At the moment he's resorting to blaming the absence of fringe players like Parnaby and Woodgate. Treating the fans as idiots can only reinforce their frustration and constantly restating that he won't change a previously successful style has the danger of coming across as stuborn pride. Mogga might have forgotten the pain of last year's slump but for many fans it's still an all to vivid present.

In an earlier post I quetioned the owner's role. Gibbo is characterised with letting his managers get on with their job with little or no interference. This is OK when things are going well but he kept Robbo well after his sell by date, let GS1 drive the Boro train into the relegation bumpers and GS2 spend us into a position where promotion HAD to be achieved. Maybe Gibbo should break with tradition and have a guiding chat with his manager.

**AV writes: Maybe he has and they agree completely on the long term strategy.

Nigel Reeve said:

The catastrophic run of results has destroyed confidence both among players and fans. If Mogga can reverse the downward momentum and get us into the top six this season he'll have worked a miracle. He's still the right man for the job, Rome wasn't built in a day we have to grit our teeth and carry on.

Friend shouldn't be blamed for the first goal at least he was in the mix trying, which was more than McManus was, he was stood watching while three strikers climbed all over his left back. What's more Friend was the architect of the secod half improvement, he was Boro's best player in the end.

The only way to get out of this trough is to grind out results, that way confidence returns, but even if form improves I doubt we'll be able to make sixth spot now, anyway I don't think I could stand to watch this squad of players play in the Prem, it would be carnage.

John Bowman said:

My post at 11:53 "Maybe Gibbo should break with tradition and have a guiding chat with his manager."

**AV writes: Maybe he has and they agree completely on the long term strategy.

Vic, I'm sure you're right about a common long term vision. Most fans would probably buy into this too - look at how little grumbling there is about money for new signings.

What we're talking here is short term team management; selection, tactics etc. This where Mogga is losing the fans (and the matches). My point was that Gibbo's hands-off style has damaged Boro in the past and may be now.

Ian Gill said:

Why is Mogga the best man for the job?

1. You wont get better at the level we are at.

2. He has the club at heart and it will be hurting him.

3. He has the full backing of the Chairman who has the clubs best interest at heart.

4. We can disagree between ourselves about his tactics at times but he will be given time to get us up.

5. No one is going to inject another £50 million in to the club in addition to Gibbo propping us up.

That doesnt mean we cant debate how he sets the team out, who he selects and who he buys.

Thirty years ago I think I was the only Boro fan in Cirencester so had no one to mull over the Boro, now we have the modern media available so the discussions available to all those living on Teesside are open to the rest of us.

Long may it continue.

Phil,Norton said:

Simply the most inept, shambolic management I have seen in over 40 years as a Boro fan . For those of you still blinded by our managers acheivements as a player 25 years ago, ask yourself this question if his name was Gordon Strachan would you still want him as manager? Answer no. For gods sake Gibbo get rid now and at least give us a chance of making the play-offs.

Finally AV who did we sell Adam Reach to in the transfer window , I must have missed that one

**AV writes: "Most inept management in 40 years?" Ah yes, the wonderful protective powers of selective amnesia.

It's not even in the top two worse spells of management in the last 40 months.

nikeboro said:

ron in the delta said at 9.53 am: "'who would have predicted the wheels would have fallen off after the New Year?'

I would predict that every year and would be mostly correct. In my 50 years of following Boro, I estimate there has been a similar collapse in at least 30 of the seasons.

Winter always follows Autumn and Boro almost always struggle around Dec-Feb. It's a law of nature.

Barnard said:

A little boy phoned Childline and told them because he did not want to live with his parents anymore.

The kindly lady asked him: "So why don't you want to live with your dad?" "Because he beats me" said the little boy.

"Why don't you want to live with your mum then?" she asked."Because she beats me as well."

Thinking quickly the lady said "Well who would you like to live with then?" The little boy replied" I would like to live with the Boro, because they don't beat anyone!!"

**AV writes: Baddumtisssh!

nikeboro said:

Mogga said about the Ameobi signing: 'Just something to give some players a lift, to create some competition, to see if he makes a difference.”

Inspirational. Not exactly Churchillian is it? No shades of 'we shall fight them on the beaches'.

This smacks of desperation. It's not a position we need and it will solve none of the team problems. He's free so it's worth a daft punt. Is that what we're reduced to?

paul said:

Caryol, Emnes, Bailey, McEachran, Leadwellies, Halliday, Thompson, Park, Ledesma, Zemmamma, Luke Williams, Haroun, Smallwood. Reach, Rhys Williams

People on the books who can play or have played in midfield for the Boro. Nowt against Sammieobi but whats the point in having a youth system if you are just going to borrow players from another teams' youth system?

Werdermouth said:

I heard Mogga was contemplating fielding a weakened team against Chelsea but unfortunately he couldn't find one...

Anyway, it's looking all a bit desperate now and it seems there's an ever-growing number of disgruntled fans joining the queue for giving Mogga a kicking.

Though it seems people are falling into two camps, one that says the team over-achieved earlier in the season and aren't good enough for the playoffs - and another that says the team is under-achieving and should have easily made the playoffs but Mogga isn't able to get the best out of the players.

I think the real problem is the format of the Championship - too many games for teams that can't afford a decent and large enough squad. I'm not sure why it needs to be 24 teams - less is more when it comes to quality.

It's just a lottery - how else can you explain the teams at the top getting hammered quite frequently. How can a team properly prepare for a game every 3-4 days? They can't and don't.

That's probably why Mogga's detailed philosophy falls down - it's probably not possible at this level to maintain high-level concentration with depleted squads and inexperienced players.

Perhaps Boro need to decide if their objective is to play with style or play with purpose (i.e. promotion) - I'm not sure if both is ever going to be consistently possible on our budget.

Ginger Graham said:

I agree with Phil from Norton. He is most definitely the worst manager I have seen in my time as a supporter. Even Einstein would have had trouble trying to work out that formation on Saturday.

And, Vic, you talk about a long term strategy for the club. If that includes Mowbray then expect so see crowds around the 7,8,000 mark because NOBODY I know rates Mowbray at all!

**AV writes: You must be mixing in different circles to me then. Or listening to the phone-in. Most people I know, once the frustration subsides, accept that he's doing a decent job in difficult circumstances. And most can remember where the club were heading when he took over two years and £20m of cuts ago.

Percypieblocks said:

Very kind of Les Miserables to loan us Sammi Ameobi.

What I've seen of him is that he very raw but also exciting, could be a good loan signing. At least we will have somebody to blame if we fail to get into the play offs.
Myself I'd have thought a right back might have been the prefered option but hey.

peterboroangel said:

We are fortunate it's the 2nd half of the season that has started the way it has. Imagine if it was the 1st half of the season and the fall-out from that!

Very disappointing on Saturday!

boromadloon said:

The first half summed up our recent form quite nicely I thought - well on top in terms of possession, shaded the number of shots, and went in 2-0 down thanks to some wasteful efforts and poor luck.

Our second half was much improved, and so if we could play like that for the full 90, we should be able to drag ourselves back into contention for the play-offs. The ability of the players and staff is there, we just need a little more fortune and confidence.

As for the anti-Mowbray sentiments, I don't get them at all. Look at what we've had - Southgate took a safe, mid-table Premiership side, and amidst major overhaul, cost-cutting and inexperienced decisions, we dropped down a division.

Strachan then took this well-prepared Championship side, and expensively dismantled them into relegation battlers. Mowbray, amidst further cost-cutting, has dragged them back up to being play-off outsiders. How is that not progress? How can we criticise him for (so far) replicating last seasons performance on a smaller budget?

RE: Ameobi - we're not scoring enough goals. Signing a striker on loan seems like a good idea to me.

Masham wiggy said:

Ian G at 12.52 -

5 excellent points and I'd add a 6th, - has achieved more for a lot less and deserves some support and loyalty from the fan base in a difficult period.

Richard said:

Werdermouth @ 3.04PM :

It's not! So be sure. Be very sure!

These days, you've got to be a big boy to play with the big boys. Funny that - the principle works at club AND at squad levels, it seems!

Phil ,Norton said:

Ok AV , I'll take Bobby Murdoch and Willie Maddren out of the equation as regards to worst management in 40 years

What hurts most is the squad Moggas put together was good enough to finish in the top two . We outplayed Cardiff on their own patch , won at Watford and Brighton . At home we should have beaten Leicester and made Hull look like relegation fodder. We went top of the league in the middle of a supposed injury
crisis ,

I feel sorry for Rhys , everybody knows his best position is centre half , but Mogga refuses to play him there . Remember Millwall had lost five on the the bounce and 5-1 to Peterborough in the previous game , yet he starts with no recognised wide men and the most defensive midfield he could have picked .

I want Mogga to succeed more than any manager I can remember but unfortunately I think he's lost the plot

ron in the delta said:

Mowbray has lost the plot, or we should have got Billy Davies or anyone else!!


Well I definitely don't in any way profess to be as clued up as some but give me a break; Mowbray's appointment was and is a master stroke. What has been achieved since the ginger nut left is nothing short of incredible given the resources and cash flow issues.

Of course now all sorts of experts with all the knowledge are saying how they knew it wouldn't work out, Mowbray was a bad choice!! Boro always stumble in January. Well like others I am a 50+ year supporter and know only too well the ups and downs.

Boro have hit a slump, last season they did the same but really who actually thought they would make the play offs after the mini re-build? This season we all, AV INCLUDED, expect at the least to make the play offs and as the saying go's it's not over until it's over.

So let's keep calm, as tough as that can be, and watch the Chelsea game unfold. I'm overseas so it'll be through one eye as the nerves hit. Then it's back to nitty gritty.

Hope Ameobi doesn't do well, or score goals - what will the doom mongerers have to say then........

**AV writes: Watch out for later in the day when all the people who ran Steve McClaren out of town in a pitchfork waving boofest (after reaching the UEFA Cup final!!) queue up to demand we bring him back.

Ian Gill said:

Masham Wiggy -

Fair shout on th sixth point.

I would say dont confuse my support for Mogga with my view he does create some of his own problems.

I wont reiterate my previously posted views.

Anyone seen Adam Reach?

**AV writes: Reach should be back in the squad for Saturday. Had a 90 minutes run out in the ressies after two weeks out with an ankle knock. Or, storming out , depending on where you stand on the truth/conspiracy spectrum

Never Give Up On Boro said:

Where are people getting the idea we haven't scored enough goals?

We have scored 52 goals,Cardiff have only scored three more, Hull have scored six less and look where they are. Only four teams have scored more goals than Boro. 52 goals scored should take us to a comfortable play off position or better!

The problem has been in defence 52 conceded only five teams conceded more and they are at the bottom end of the table.

Doesn't take a genius to work out where the problem lies,remember all the terrible defensive mistakes that have cost us points, excluding Jason Steele. If it wasn't for him the goals against tally would be a lot higher.

Werdermouth said:

Good point NeverGiveUpOnBoro but it doesn't alter the fact that Boro are currently having problems scoring this year with only seven goals from goals games - though admittedly conceding 19 goals during this period hasn't really helped.

I can't believe Sammy Ameobi has been brought in to score goals as he has yet to score a first team goal - would any team ever decided to get a striker in on loan who has never scored?

Talking of post-Christmas slumps, I see Steve Van Claren has left FC Twente following a long winless run - will the Mogga-beaters now be demanding for the return of the Messiah? No No No No!

BTW Richard I think it must be time for you to give us one of your insightful posts about the current situation.

Nigel Reeve said:

Losing seven games out of nine is not a good rerason for sacking a manager, no matter who he is or which team he is managing.

Any reasonable person who has within their gift the ability to hire and fire football managers wouldn't look at results over a period of a few weeks or a couple of months. Managers should be judged on what they achieve over seasons, ours has stopped us being relegated to league one, got us into play off contention and stopped the club going bankrupt (again) by slashing the wage bill.

Mogga is the right man for the job, form is temporary, the team will recover from the current rut. We may not make the top six this year but we'll get there eventually.

Phil from norton -

If you think Mogga is so bad, why didnt you say so when we were second? We had the same manager with the same ability at that point didn't we?

And by the way, were Maddren and Murdoch the worst managers Boro ever had? How would they have performed if they'd had the millions to spend that Robson or McClaren had? They both managed a club which was in near terminal decline, its hardly surprising they failed. If memory serves me Maddren put together a large part of the team Rioch got promoted with.

I have no idea what the lad from up the A19 is like, but I can see why Mooga wanted a winger. Against Millwall there was little width, with Friend being the only player to get down the flanks and whe nhe did we scored and almost got a second.

Carayol isn't up to speed yet after his injury, so we're short of wingers. It cost us the game on Saturday, arguably. Bringing in a winger might just help, nothing to loose. As for the academy players, presumably Mogga doesn't see a winger amongst them who is good enough/mature enough to try at this stage.

Mogga is doing an excellent job, I hope he's still Boro manager in ten years time.

gt said:

I hope our new centre Forward Keiron Dyer is fit for tomorrow,or what chance will we have?

My Prediction: Boro 1 Chelsea 5

**AV writes: I'm going for a gritty 0-0 with Torres missing a last minute penalty.

Carltonp said:

Is Mogga the best man for the job? Do we have options? Or does Steve Gibson have options? Do we have options about our chairman? That is, effectively, the same question as, do we have options on whether Mogga may be the best man for the job?

We don't, really, of course! It's a parlour game we bloggers play.

Contrariwise, Mogga and Gibbo do need to deal with the realities of our painful transition from employers of Juninho, Boksic, Branca, Viduka and Ravanelli to being an unfashionable club in a less wealthy area of Britain during a time of recession.

Mogga has agreed to work under these circumstances, which is in itself a strong reason why he is the right man. His eyes have been open from Day One. We need a manager with his eyes open and also one who is not too concerned to let others, including bloggers, tell him what to do.

He has seen that there has been an uneasy mix of players whose careers are on the way up alongside players who may have believed themselves to be elite performers but may now feel demeaned by their current situation. In and amongst are those who are scratching out a few last performances from their frail physiques. Such a squad may disappoint supporters who equate reward with good performances, but surely Teessiders are used to harsher realities, and to looking them squarely in the face? We should be used to that by now!

We have looked weak, irresolute and not very skilful in six out of the last seven games. Millwall, for example, looked as if they wanted to beat us quite a lot, so they did. Ipswich and Birmingham and Leeds away all beat us because they wanted it more. Burnley were less feisty and let us draw. In short, the players have let us and themselves down, individually and collectively. They have not looked as if they cared enough.

Our reactions to adversity as supporters are too volatile, too extreme, irrational hope swinging into equally irrational despair.

We have recently expected too much from such as Woodgate, Jutkiewitz, Rolls Rhys, Friend, Reach, Luke Williams and McEachran. We have perhaps at times expected too little from (or have undervalued) players such as Steele, Hoyte and McDonald. Mogga can drive us mad by his belief in such players as Haroun and Emnes, but he does see far more of them than we do, and I, for one, find it hard to believe his judgments on teams and set-ups are less balanced than my own.

That said, it has been boring recently, and I have wondered why so many of us still bother. At Burnley, for example, one of our most stalwart fans wore dark glasses after a recent eye operation but attended nevertheless. Another sat and suffered with acute tummy ache, seeing little of the game, but was there for the club, caring passionately about the Boro. Another will attend the Chelsea game despite a foot operation yesterday.

Mogga understands this irrational love for the club, and so does Gibbo, and they are by virtue of that understanding, the right people to take the club forward.

This summer, big wages will be lost from our books and I hope some greater sense of common purpose and desire will be the result. We need a team of players whose careers are like Swansea's players, all on the way up. I, for one, will always support that kind of team and such a team will respond hungrily to supporters like the three above mentioned.

**AV writes: What he said, too ^^^^^

After the inital spleen venting and demands for blood I thing there is some morning after measure and sanity starting to spread now. That's Boro.

Pedro de Espana said:

AV -

I hope your are wrong with your prediction against Chelsea. We do not need another match to confuse things. However, I think we will get a result. Typical Boro.

John Bowman said:

carltonp at 1538.

Excellent post!

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