Dyer Boro In Ipswich Surrender

By Anthony Vickers on Feb 4, 13 09:14 AM

THE presence of Boro's pay-as-you-play debutant made the tabloid headlines painful and predictable. Dyer-bolical. In Dyer Straits.

And it was hard to argue with the easy puns. Boro really were dire. The meek surrender was their worst display of the season so far

Ironically the pre-emptively much maligned Kieron Dyer - perma-crock football pensioner and so an easy target - was one of the few positives on a dark day for Boro.

It may have been that he was making a poignant return to his home town club - he was greeted with warm applause in stark contrast to the tape-loop booing of Grant Leadbitter - but Dyer, signed on deadline day, showed plenty of desire. It was hard to look at that midfield and pick him out as the busted flush.

He demanded the ball, zipped around, got into tackles (it was a heart in mouth experience) and retained and recycled possession sharply and in the second half particularly tried to find a way through.

His animation and emotionally energy was in stark contrast to a stodgy and laboured Boro that were second best in every department.

Off the boil Boro's pathetic performance at Portman Road was the worst of the season.

It was far more traumatic than the 4-1 thumping at Blackpool in Boro's Black September when they lost three away games in a row.

Then Boro were clinically dismantled. A shapeless side were ruthlessly carved open by the mechanical forward thrusts of Ian Holloway's on-song side. It was embarrassing.

But that undoubtedly bruising orange crush came at the hands of a rampant side right at the top of their form. Blackpool were rattling goals in a purple patch right then with Holloway still at the helm. It was the wrong team at the wrong time and a Boro side still finding its feet were walloped. No excuses. No complaints.

There was no shame in losing to them and despite being monstered Boro kept battling.

Boro's defeat at Millwall was a set-back too but in that game they were on top for an hour but just could not find a cutting edge, and besides, it was early days and the team was just finding its feet.

There have been other bad days. At Birmingham Boro let slip a commanding two goal lead and to lose was a crushing blow - but you could come away arguing that they should have had it in the bag long before a pivotal penalty.

The only other game that really challenges Ipswich for the mantle as 'worst' display was the lack-lustre New Years Day drubbing at Derby. Then it was not the score but a passive acceptance of defeat by a more motivated side that hurt - and rang alarm bells.

That game was the start of a run of four successive league defeats that have thrown the season into the balance.

It been possible to take positives from losses to Watford and Leicester, both decided by 'fine margins'. But it would take some very creative spin to salvage anything from the wreckage of Portman Road. It really was dire.

Not so much the result - although that still smarts - but the powerless performance and the failure to seize a golden opportunity. It was a display that raises questionmarks over the mental strength of the side. Do they want to get promoted or not?

If they do, then they should be ruthlessly throttling basement battlers in games like this.

Yes, it is a tough division and every team deserves respect. But if Boro are to succeed in securing promotion they must be brutal at times.

After a week when all the results had gone their way the fixtures offered up a golden chance to put their January jitters behind them and regain the initiative at the top.

But they meekly surrendered. A fragile looking side folded without a fight and in quite abject fashion.

It was alarming and depressing in equal measure. Boro fielded a strong side on paper but it was ripped up as the toothless team simply failed to engage with the game.

They were torn apart by a demoralised Ipswich that were in freefall, fourth bottom and had not won a game this year. But one of the lowest scoring sides in the division easily put four goals past Boro - and they could have more but for a couple of good blocks by Jason Steele.

They sat deep, left Boro to enjoy fruitless possession in the middle third and then hit on the break with devastating quick balls forward. It was text book Mick McCarthy football.

It was frightening that a strong Boro defence could not cope with one of the weakest attacks in the Championship.

The central defensive pairing of Jonathan Woodgate and Andre Bikey were poor. They were positionally confused, failed to get a grip of Town's movement and looked lost as deadballs were floated into the box.

The full-backs were just as bad. Worse. Rhys Williams is struggling badly after his return from injury and looks a shadow of the Rolls Royce player he was last season. He may well play right-back for Australia but Ipswich are far better and far sharper than Western Samoa and Oman and he was found wanting.

And pin-up George Friend too had a 'mare. He was robbed repeatedly and one casual mugging led directly to a goal while he was also beaten in the air for one of the headers. The cavalier forward runs are exciting and offer an outlet but first and foremost his job is to help Boro keep clean sheets.

It was frightening too that the midfield was swamped and out-fought by a limited but spirited Ipswich engine room. Sustained spells of 'windscreen wiper' passing failed to find a way through a tight defence then when the opposition broke out they swept through almost unopposed.

Lightweight Ledesma and error prone Haroun conceded possession far too cheaply and in dangerous areas and while industrious Leadbitter buzzed about fire-fighting he can not do everything himself. Arguably it was a game for Nicky Bailey or Richie Smallwood who can add some bite and consistency to midfield.

Boro have a lot of 'quality' players and put the onus on slick crisp passing and movement but in a lot of games they will need to earn the right to play that fancy football. They need to be able to stand up to and bully the opposition if neccessary.

And up front Boro were poor too. Lukas Jutkiewicz headed over but that aside Boro never really troubled the goal.

The Juke beavered away but was isolated and seldom fought his battles in the box while Marvin Emnes was a passenger for long spells and his occasional flashes of trickery were in harmless areas.

Boro never looked like scoring. They always looked like conceding. And they certainly did not look like an assured team of promotion contenders. It was scary and sobering stuff.

Yet amazingly, despite four damaging defeats on the spin, Boro are still in play-off spot.
That is a huge indictment of the quality of the Championship and the failure of the teams immediately around Boro to take advantage.

We should take heart that Boro's play-off rivals are equally flawed and fragile and they too lack the killer touch. That gives hope. Boro are still in the chase. But the wriggle room has been eroded. There is no more room for error.

Boro now have two home games looming and an away trip to stuttering Palace. It is make or break time. This team need to now show they have the quality and desire to barge back into promotion contention.

There can be no more soft surrenders like Ipswich.

***APOLOGIES for the technical problems which left the blog up on bricks in a lay-by over the weekend. The system ground to a halt on deadline day night - as did Twitter, its not just us - and took some time to repair. "Normal" service is resumed.


Clive Hurren said:

What is it about Boro? Why do we periodically 'fail to turn up'? Over the years we can all name embarrassing, pathetic, limp defeats where collectively the whole side has a 'mare', for example:-

Cardiff at home in the Cup quarter final (it still hurts)

4-1 loss away to Bolton in Gate's relegation season;

3-1 away to Watford under Strachan when Danny Graham scored after 17 seconds;

Derby away and Ipswich away this season.

Name your choice. I'm sure you can all remember plenty of others.

So what is it then? I'm sure other sides have collective nightmares, but I wonder how many experience this all-too-regular wimpy, gutless lack of application and drive? Is it something in the psyche? In the water? In the way the tea-lady makes the tea? Or is it something in the way the manager prepares the team?

There are plenty of people on other message boards bemoaning Mogga's team-selection and tactics - is that it? Were Boro able to adapt to whatever system Mowbray had devised to counter Ipswich? Were they all familar with their roles? Did they actually have belief in what they were asked to do, like the mystifying split-striker system Mowbray apparently used again? Were some square-pegged?

From all the reports it sounds as though Danny Graham wouldn't have made much difference, not on his own anyway. I'd like some answers, because like many others I'm sick of frittering away points. Points mean prizes; we seem as if we want to throw away the biggest prize of all. Again.

One thing I do know - if Nicky Bailey had been playing it probably wouldn't have been so bad. We might have lost but we would have gone down fighting. From now on, I'd like him as the first name on the team-sheet.We know we're going to have to grind out plenty of wins if we're going to make the play-offs, with the emphasis on 'grind'; now may not be the time for the pretty passing game.

So please build the team around the fighters, Tony. And if the team doesn't appear to be bothered about a weak-livered performance, then try a good old-fashioned rocket or play some of the keenest youngsters - Smallwood, Reach, Luke Williams have rarely let us down.

timfromsa said:

Agree this game cried out for a Bailey in the.
So did the last three.
Really dont know what to say very very poor.

Denis said:

I am beginning to understand why Mogga got sacked when at Celtic. His inability to motivate, complicate, tinker and worry more about the opposition than the strengths of his own team.

Why are we repeating the bad run of form we had last year.My answer is team selection. Why was Bailey left, criminally in my view on the bench throughout the match?

Since when has Haroun become a holding, defensive central midfieder? Why ,oh why does he persist with Ledesma who has been out of form for weeks instead of Reach who is in form.

Sorry, as much as I like Mogga, he deserves criticism because he invites it over his team selection and tactics.Matters are made worse by playing Williams at right back instead of centre half and we are suffering because we have a part- time defender in Woodgate. We seem to have lost the resilience we had last year,a quality the teams above us seem to have in abundance.

I have mentioned this before but the similarities are becoming uncomfortably close, Mogga is another Stan Anderson, nice guy, had us up there but lacked the guile and edge to get us promoted.

Worryingly Mowbray is falling into that category. We need real leadership on and off the pitch.

Grove Hill wallah said:

After reading the above, all I can say is welcome to the club AV. This was not a one off, nor one of a few. This is how the team have been playing for several months. The quality of players is sub standard for a promotion hopeful winning team.

Until we get a good scouting network and sign good players we will continue to struggle.

AndyR said:

Technical problems, AV? I thought you'd put your fingers in your ears for a few days and who could blame you? Quite right though - it was the worst performance of the season and, quite frankly, an embarrassment.

I'll leave the finger pointing to others but I do think it might be time for TM to put his quest for "good football" to one side for a month or two and try to give us some substance. Four quick-fire defeats is not a crisis but it could very quickly become one if we're passive and don't proactively address the issues.

We can start with Rhys and Marvin. Both are woefully short at the moment and we can't afford the time to play them back into form. Certainly not together.

Ledesma shows some wonderful touches at times but he doesn't look the sort for a fight - maybe time to sacrifice him for a while as well I think.

Nobody wants to hear positives in the aftermath of a dispiriting defeat but the last time we left a match red-faced - Blackpool away - we lost only one of the next ten league games. We could do with that again.

Pedro de Espana said:

Arguably our strongest defence in TM´s eyes. But once again,chop and change to accomodate Woodgate, and once again leaves the pitch injured.I would rather play McManus, even for some consistency.

All the rhetoric of trying to sign Danny Graham because we do not score enough goals is not really believable. I thought the idea was to get rid of the high earners not add to them.

Still, if SG has found some money it should have been spent on sorting out the calamity defence and limited midfield. However it does not help when TM makes what most supporters believe are poor team selections.

Haroun in the MF holding role,and Bailey on the bench beggars belief. How can he pick Emnes, when he was willing to get rid of him, and also his current form is, well best not said.

If the manager does not get his act together, we will miss out even on the playoffs, then it will all end in tears.

david hutchinson said:

An excellent article. The truth hurts, but I agree with your forthright honesty in reporting our local football team.

Please remember our youth and don't leave them festering until they finally decide to leave. We have battlers in reserve. They are just not played.

simon in stockton said:

The only bit you got wrong AV was saying we have "quality" players. We don't. We might have a few decent ones, thats about it.

Mowbray is doing all he can with what's available. I think its going to be at least another year before we can do what Cardiff are currently doing.

Unless someone comes in with a big money offer for one of our players,(to provide spending money) then Mowbray is going to have to continue wheeling and dealing to slowly improve what he has to work with.

He told me himself that he has players with whom he is waiting for their contracts to expire before he can shift them.

I expect those to be Bailey, Mc Manus and some others. Then he can continue to shape his team into what he wants, and hopefully one that can get promoted.
In the meantime we will continue to get days like Saturday, lets just hope we can beat Leeds.

Nigel Reeve said:

A self inflicted capitulation was what I saw from Boro on Saturday, it was my first visit to Portman Road but given we've now lost four in a row and with such an abject performance it wont be my last visit. I think any ideas of a top two finish are gone now and if something doesn't change fast we'll struggle to make the top six.

Ipswich are nothing special but in the first half we never looked like breaking them down, Ledesma was woeful and Emnes is either suffering a crisis of confidence or doesn't want to be here. Either way I wouldn't want to see either of them back in the team anytime soon. Playing with nine men made it doubly difficult.

I though the first three goals all came from defensive mistakes, the first, Bikey gave away a cheap corner by over running the ball, all around me I could here screams of kick it out for a throw. When the corner came over Steele seemed to back away to get round an Ipswich player which left the goal wide open, it was a soft goal. The second goal killed us, Friend can be forgiven for the error but the timing couldn't have been worse, but the worry for me was that we gave up at that point.

McEachran should have been on from the start he added some energy and determination when he came on as did Reach , Dyer was Boro's man of the match but that was an easy achievement.

Whatever Mogga says in public I hope he roasted his players afterwards, if it was me I would have made them make their own way home. It was the worst Boro performance I have seen in years.

We've lost seven out of the last eight away now I think, maybe Mogga needs to rethink his away tactics, reverting to last years counter attacking style might be the answer. I'd also drop Haroun and get Bailey back in.

Looking on the bright side, maybe my son's dream of seeing Boro at Wembley in the play off final is becoming a step closer, or maybe we're gonna do a Bradford and make the FA cup final, clutching at straws? Moi?

Sandy said:

I have no faith in the team and shudder when I look at the scores on Saturday or mid week as I kind of know what to expect. This is not a promotion chasing team and all of you rose coloured glasses brigade need to accept this.

Mogga is still in team building mode and as painful as this is, I do not believe this current team is anywhere near one which can challenge for a play off slot.

Yes we have our good games where we dominate and lose (and also win), however I defy anyone to tell me we are looking at promotion material

Smog On The Tyne said:

Disgraceful yesterday, on almost every level.

At the start of the season I thought we had a team similar to the previous campaign so did not expect a better league finish. So to be in touch with 2nd place going into Jan was a nice surprise as I hoped I had underestimated our quality.

However watching the Blackburn game I took my dad who can't get too many games. I was explaining to him that we win games but only just. Having seen every minute of our home games far to many games we have just got over the line. Blackburn was a great example. We should have been 1-0 after a minute.

So yesterday after three straight league defeats, we should have been a wounded animal. Desperate to put things right. Fight for every ball. Stop the rot at all costs. It would require a performance of men. What did we get? A team more concerned about possesion statistics than actually doing the job that was needed.

Again goals conceded from set plays and a different set up information and personnel. All the fine tuning and hours spent on the training pitch. What a waste of bloody time. How about training non stop at defending set pieces. Drill after drill after drill. It should now become a matter of pride and principle. No more goals from set pieces. Yesterday in every respect was wrong.

Somehow we are still in the play off places, which is above my expectations in August. So I don't want to be overly critical but now is the time for the team to show the fans the pride they have in their shirt. Do that and together we can achieve something here.

James Emmerson said:

Emnes' shocker of a penalty at Leicester looks even more costly, doesn't it!

peterboroangel said:

I consider myself as being one of the least reactionary posters on here, but that performance was depressing. There seemed to be little desire or fight.

I know lots of Ipswich fans around here, so thanks for nothing!

peaeye said:

You go to the pressers AV. Has TM been asked why he is reluctant to play Bailey?

**AV writes: He has and he says is isn't. He picks a team to suit the match and right now Bailey isn't generally part of his first choice midfield in most systems, esepcially when he plans to pass it about quickly in the opposition half. He is still a regular part of the matchday squad though and features occasionally.

carltonp said:

That cold wind blowing through our section of the ground just added to our pain at Portman Road.

You are right, AV, that Kieron Dyer was about the only one of our team who looked decent until Josh McEachran came on. Josh was very well received at the Supporters Club meeting on Monday, a modest and pleasant young man who showed that footballers can have their feet on the ground despite abundant blessings of talent and wealth being showered on them.

Why was he not starting instead of....well, anybody except Dyer or Steele really, but certainly instead of the woeful Haroon, or the half-hearted Emnes or the inconsistent Ledesma?

I hope the players noticed that a substantial numbers of the supporters were still singing their hearts out for the lads with five frozen minutes of hopelessness to go. They could learn from their fans!

Redcar Red said:

Instead of going off like a firework after that disgrace I have attempted to taken a step back to look at things objectively (admittedly tinged with a hint of hurt and frustration).

I think we are looking at a classic managerial conundrum. As a manager you develop a style and methodology of management that works and has brought success but now times have changed and the things that you used to do so routinely and so successfully just don’t seem to work any more so you try harder and work harder, you intensify but still the rewards and results are simply not there.

Its not a unique scenario or an unusual one in the wonderful world of management indeed its just one of those challenges that managers face in their careers from time to time.

The cure is to firstly realise where you are and to identify what once worked and what and why it no longer delivers. It could be that a major competitor was going through a difficult phase and you just happened to hit a window of opportunity by being in the right place at the right time and your efforts were perhaps fortuitous rather than a measure of your true ability.

It could be that you were way ahead of the game and that the competitors have simply got wise and caught up and your modus operandi is outdated and stale or a mixture of several things culminating in an impasse or hiatus in being able to get things performing again.

So what to do then ? Well you don’t throw everything out and start again with a blank sheet because clearly not everything has gone to seed, but you do need to analyse the cause of your shortcomings, ignoring or denying them is folly and can only end in one scenario.

A style of play with a particular group of players may have worked in a different league or a different division in a different decade with a different set of tools and equipment years back but that’s not to say that its shelf life is infinite.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that whatever has been the driving force or the Mogganaut plan is no longer working or spluttering at least. Its not working collectively or as individuals and its clearly not galvanising the playing staff or the supporters. The fans are not buying into it and its becoming clear that several of the playing staff are either just plain lost and confused by it or like the red plastic seats are not buying into it either.

Reflecting on the season as a whole rather than one isolated game I’m guessing that there was a reason for Tommo whenever fit instead of Bails (or Smallwood for that matter), I’m also guessing that the implosion of Emnes runs deeper than mere loss of form, Rhys shoe horned in at RB is making a few uncomfortable both on and off the pitch (I seem to remember that he didn‘t like playing there in the past because the more intense twisting and stretching playing out wide caused a flare up of a pelvic problem and considering he is just back from a long lay off would you be happy?), I’m guessing that the mystery with Scotty early doors this season is somehow tangled up in the beautiful game philosophy.

Has this happened before? I think it has with Mogga (just think how many ex Hoops we signed as a job lot from him). He now faces the challenge of addressing, accepting, understanding and changing those absolutes which have historically served him well at times (but have also been equally called into question) but are now looking decidedly uncomfortable, forced and misfiring with increasing regularity.

Square pegging, favouritism, out of favouritism, passing to death, no pace, split strikers, slow tempo, sitting back, perma crocks, not giving youth a chance, poor defending, tactical paralysis and confusion, all of these and more have been levelled at the poor bloke and the likelihood is that somewhere amongst the views, observations and opinions there is a grain of truth.

Opposing managers of course are also very much aware of the above Achilles heel and how Boro will play. Our positional set up will no doubt be a surprise at kick off and even a shock at times to them but then the delivery is pretty much predictable and pretty much because of the reasons mentioned on here many times before.

During his tenure at the Hawthorns and their fall from the Premiership it was often said that the Baggies were poor in both boxes, can't defend and can't score goals, sounds familiar!

Fast forward to now and the last few weeks have been similar to the scenario at Celtic when the fans who once revered him grew frustrated and exasperated at what they were seeing before their eyes. A defence that couldn’t defend, too soft letting in too many goals and a refusal to accept that his beautiful game only worked in the middle of the park. Ironically it was a 0-4 away defeat to relegation fodder at the time St Mirren that ended things up the road for him.

Its time for Mogga to have a period of reflection and to try something new. Patterns and programs that are familiar and comfortable are difficult to break but in order to grow as managers we have to experiment and embrace change and shake free those limiting beliefs.

Football has a legacy of short term successful managers, managers whose stock rose phenomenally and then burnt out slowly, the Taylors, the Coppells, the Keanes, the Keegans, the Erikssons, the Wilkinsons, even Dalglish or our own Ste Mac or Robbo.

These were managers who had a certain something that worked for a while and lived off its reputation but whatever it was it didn’t have longevity and it never repeated. They didn’t evolve enough and keep on adapting and instead stayed within themselves repeating the same tactics, formations and ultimately mistakes.

Contrast that with Fergie for example, love him or loathe him but he done it with Aberdeen, done something different with Utd (never win anything with kids) and keeps evolving with the decades despite the Liverpools, Arsenals, Chelseas and now City all having their peaks and attempts at toppling him. His tactics, selections, formats have altered sometimes subtly sometimes not so subtle but he adapted, shaped, formed and continued to grow and for those of you too young to remember the Man U at the time of his appointment was in disarray.

As the saying goes the only insane thing is to keep on doing the same old things in the same old way but expecting different results, but when you no longer do what you have always done you can no longer get what you have always got. Its time for Mogga to realise that what we have got is just falling short in several key areas of the business right now.

Sickasabustard said:

Sandy -

need to get into manager building mode more like. Mogga is clueless - he is replicating his tenure with some of his previous clubs, without any of the good hoper as far as I'm concerned...

Never Give up on Boro said:

Disgraceful performance on Saturday,beaten by a team who hadn't won in four games at home and struggles to score goals!

1. Why was the ineffective Haroun playing in midfield instead of Bailey or Smallwood?

2. Why was Ledesma starting after weeks of poor games instead of Reach?

3. Why start Woodgate if he isn't going to complete 90 minutes,it's a waste of a substitution replacing him especially when we were chasing the game and needed an attacking player on.

4. Rhys has been awful since he came back from injury,he's never a right back. It doesn't say a lot about Mowbrays opinion of Parnaby either not to play him, Rhys still doesn't look fit and is doing the teams cause no good at all.

5. Why is Emnes even playing when it's so obvious he doesn't want to be here, play, or have any intention of rolling up his sleeves and giving 50% let alone 100%?? I don't believe in booing our own players but you can't blame the supporters for it or cheering his substitution for the second game running after that dismal display. Mowbray has to take total blame for that selection,he was trying to offload him earlier in the week,he knows the fans are on Emnes back,he was doing him or the team any favours at all.

6. Surprisingly Dyer (and maybe Steele and McEachran) was the only player to come out of the game with any credit. Doubts about his fitness were unfounded, he never stopped running and trying for 90 minutes looking much fitter,hungrier than any other Boro player, throwing his hands in the air with exasperation at his team mates awful passing,decisions etc

Barnsley on Saturday have improved in recent weeks,another potential banana skin waiting to happen. Players who are up for the fight and who are fit needed in the team this weekend, hopefully not Woodgate, Rhys, Ledesma,Haroun and Emnes!!

J Coulthard said:

Sadly I believe Tony Mowbray has lost the dressing room.

We have so many systems of playing the players are totally confused. Ask them.

As a manager he is very negative, worrying about the opposition. Let them worry about us for a change. The body language says it all. Just look at Rhys Williams last two performances, he is just not interested in playing right back. We have at the moment a team of players who are'jack of all trades masters of none'

Just as important we do not have a leader in the team. Woodgate as captain? A joke. Oh for a Nigel Pearson, he understand the game and as manager of Leicester knew how to change the the tactics without changing the team. Result a one nil win for them.

Why leave Baily out ? To sicken him off because he is a high earner? Haroun as a midfield defender? Who is kidding who? Sadly I have seen it all over the last 46 years as a ticket holder.Yes we have had the good times and I have enjoyed them but if we do not get promoted this season it will be nigh impossible in the future with the war chest of cash the relegated teams will have.

Forever Dormo said:

Sorry Vic, but I had to get it off my chest. I didn't realise your Blog's wheels had come off, so I posted this to your last blog thread. I will just add it here. I didn't count to 10,000 before typing it, and I do realise that might sometimes be the best policy. But anyway, here it is, transplanted from the Transfer Window Deadline thread.......

"Maybe this will be on the wrong thread, but here goes:

When we take a 4-1 win in the FA Cup against Hastings, that doesn't make us the best team in the world. When we lose to Leicester that doesn't make us the worst team in the world. Sometimes we have to keep some perspective, and it might be best to wait a while before sending a post (especially after a 0-4 defeat).

However we are hoping to be promoted and we have now lost 12 games (if I have counted correctly) in the League and we are just into February. Middlesbrough FC is on the crest of a slump. Unless there is a massive turn of fortune, we are NOT going to be promoted.

I really don't care to hear players saying we are not in a "wobble" (when we plainly are) or that they are confident we will win automatic promotion. I think someone else has said "Talk is cheap". I'd rather they did their talking on the pitch. Is that too much to ask?

I am tired of hearing that the other team was "honest and hardworking" or "difficult to break down". Does that mean our team is full of dishonest shirkers and that we are easy to break down (which the last four results would seem to imply)? If that is right, shouldn't that be addressed?

We don't have the funds the club had whilst in the Premier League. We can't afford the really expensive very skilful players. But surely being "hardworking" doesn't cost anything. You can't blame a player for not having been given the technical gifts of a Messi. But you can blame him if he doesn't appear to put the effort in.

Good organization (I'll use a "z" to stop the computer complaining) doesn't cost anything. like having the players take up a particular role to defend corners or free kicks, for example. "Bill, you come back for corners, Rob you stay at the top of the D, Mike you stay on the far post..).

I accept that if you have a spate of injuries, so that players have to come in and out of the side, that may disrupt things. Mind you, if you intentionally buy players with a very poor fitness record, you make that scenario almost inevitable. For example I accept Woodgate is very talented but his moving into the side for a game here or 50 minutes there, means having to rearrange the defence to accommodate him. If he could play 46 games a season the club wouldn't be able to afford him, but if he can only play every now and then, can the defence afford him?

I have heard people on the radio commenting that there was no passion at Ipswich. Passion doesn't cost anything. Amateurs in a Sunday league team can show passion. No commitment, no organization. If that is correct, it really is unforgiveable.

Has Smallwood ever let us down or shown lack of passion or commitment? Has Bailey ever shown a lack of passion or commitment? I suspect either or both of those would have stiffened up the team at Ipswich. There would have been no doubt as to their hard work. Does anyone think Adam Reach would have improved the team, as well? He tends to make things happen, and to "work" the players he is up against. It all helps.

I hope we don't get many of the "bad day at the office" responses by way of explanation. After all, it isn't one bad day, is it? This year we have won at home in the FA Cup against Hastings and Aldershot (when a defeat or a draw against either would have been a major sporting headline) and we have lost in the league to Derby County, Watford, Leicester City and now Ipswich. In this results game, maybe a bad five weeks in the office?

The important thing is to make sure it doesn't grow to be a bad six weeks, then seven weeks or more, because then the whole season will have been a write-off. There is a limit to the number of times the other teams around us can avoid taking points from their games and, eventually, if they play each other ONE of them at least must get some points, so we would slip further behind if we continue our current form.

We do NOT need a team that has players in it that are booed off for perceived lack of effort. If we lose, we lose, but it should never have been because of lack of "bottle", effort, commitment or whatever other words one might use. That should be a given for every player, every week, whatever the opposition.

Some hard work is needed to put this right. You might play well but lose 1-0. You might be unlucky. But it would stretch credulity to suggest we were unlucky to lose 4-0 at Ipswich. It sounded as if we were lucky to get nil.

February 2, 2013 7:19 PM"

I still think it applies today, so maybe counting to 10,000 would not have effected any changes to it.

Percypieblocks said:

A few people have stolen my thunder on this one, I did write this morning but it wasn't accepted. (My fault apparently).

What I did write was regarding team selection, why isn't Bailey in the side, I think our poor run coicides with his omission. I'm not for oe minute saying that he is the greatest player in the world but we are a far harder side to beat with him in the team.

We are a far better side playing the two holding midfield players, which if we are to play Carayol and Dyer out wide, we will need.

My other concern is the Woodgate situation, surely we cannot continue picking him for one game out of three or four only for him to come off half way through the game. We need a settled back four and we are not going to have one whilst Woodgate is continually injured.

I realise he has been a great player but at the minute he is a liability and the sooner we have the middle two sorted in both midfield and defence the sooner we will start to win games (or at least not lose them).

I'm not even going to mention the situation at centre forward as for some reason we don't play one.

Something has to be done soon before it is too late, we have the players to compete in this league as previous results have proved but unless we play a settled formation, we'll be in this division for quite a few more years.

nikeboro said:

We've been found out big time. It took a few months but managers have sussed out how this Boro plays and have spotted our weaknesses.

McCarthy is astute and you can just hear his team talk: 'Boro can look good but it all leads nowhere. They can't hurt us. They don't get at teams much and, when they do, they don't convert their chances. Let them play their pretty stuff, it's harmless, then hit them on the break. Their defence is leaky so wait for your chances and fill your boots'.

nikeboro said:

Far worse than the 4-1 drubbing at Blackpool? Jeez, they had to hide the razor blades after I'd been to Bloomfield Road.

nikeboro said:

AV said: 'That is a huge indictment of the quality of the Championship and the failure of the teams immediately around Boro to take advantage.'

So this league is an exercise in finding out which team is the least crap?

God help any of us that stagger into the Prem. Don't tell me about the umbrella payments when relegated. Once you get used to being hammered most weeks, it's a hard habit to break.

Yes, the likes of Newcastle and W. Ham managed to use their extra resources to bounce back. However far more relegated teams go into freefall - just look at Wolves and Bolton - and soon find themselves asset stripped.

BoroPhil said:

I've never read so much rubbish in my life than some of the posts on here. "Lost the dressing room" is the best bit.

Saturday was awful, no doubt about that.

But - can I just ask where people expected us to be in early February at the start of the season? I would have absolutely snapped your hand off for 6th place.

As far as I can see, we've had three nightmares this season - Blackpool, Derby and now Ipswich. All of the other defeats have been games where we should have got something from.

We've played well and lost recently and that always has a habit of turning into playing badly and losing. Confidence seeps away. Of course that gets called spineless and the players don't care, so we boo them, confidence ebbs away a bit more and the spiral continues.

Our home form is still superb. Four out of the next six are at home. Let's see where we are after them. And whatever happens, Mogga has performed absolute miracles to even have us in contention for promotion, and are people seriously starting to suggest that we should consider getting rid of him?

Absolutely unbelievable. Have a bit of faith and maybe a bit of backbone yourselves.

Forever Dormo said:

Boro Phil at 11.39pm -

I must say I was surprised to read the "lost the dressing room" quote from J Coulthard.

The reality is that none of us on this blog are part of the dressing room and therefore we will never know what is really going on. I just hope that the management DOES know what is going wrong, and can put it right, because we can't afford to carry on in the league as we have been all this year.

gt said:

AV -

There is something not right at the club,something smells fishy. I know you are a big admirer of Mogga,and thats commendable, but I think your holding back.

Come on, Players being paied off, internationals playing for the U21s, Mysterious injuries that never seem to clear up (Huth hasnt missed a game for Stoke he couldn't walk when he was here), players obviously not trying.

I'm not saying the club wouldn't prefer promotion,but everything they are doing indicates it doesn't matter, maybe the losses are a right off ,I dont know,

The window is shut but you can still move players around. We could swap loan deals,one of ours for one of theirs, whatever, I'm aware its easier said than done,but there are ways if you really want to

All I know is,it sure smells like a bad Fish and Chip supper

**AV writes: The only thing you can smell is the kneejerk jittery paranoia of those conspiracists who always seeks some dark reason whenever things go wrong. The reality is simple: Boro are flawed and inconsistent like every other side in the Championship. They are having a wobble.

That doesn't mean the dressing room is a hotbed of insurrection. It doesn't mean the club are trying not to get promoted as part of some mysterious elaborate financial machination. It doesn't mean the manager is having a meltdown. It just means an average side is having a run of bad results. It happens.

Werdermouth said:

I'm with BoroPhil, I think people need to take a deep breath and accept Boro are just going through a bad spell - probably because too many players are either returning from injury and not fully match fit and a few key players are out of form.

Most sensible countries would have had a winter break in order for the players to recharge their batteries and get over the little niggles they start to carry. The reason Boro are still in the playoffs is because nearly every other team is struggling for consistency and form with their own bunch of jaded players, exceptions are Leicester who had their bad run earlier and Cardiff who have sneaked quite a lot of games and are under no pressure.

I don't see how if Mogga was the man who knew how to get Boro promoted a few weeks ago he isn't now. I came back from holiday to hear a few people calling for his replacement and it seems to be becoming a bit of a bandwagon for the disappointed.

If Boro can get their team playing well again then they've got every chance of going up. If they don't then it means Mogga still needs time to get the right players in on the tight budget he's working under.

There is no point fluking promotion (other than for the cash cow of course) with a team that's not ready - though I wonder how many of the players see themselves as part of a Boro PL team should that happen.

Perhaps that is the mental block for those players who don't have belief in their ability and think promotion would spell the end of their Boro career.

**AV writes: Football's collective attention span is getting smaller every season. It starts in the hysterical Premier League hot-house where ever y mistake is rerun a dozen times and where two defeats is a crisis that prompts a phone-in special on the future of a manager. The focus of crisis flits from club to club by the week.

It has filtered down the leagues so that Championship teams - despite being necessarily comprised of less able players and less balanced because of finance - are judged by exacting standards that Barcelona would struggle to meet.


Nigel Reeve said:

Why does there have to be a conspiracy theory or a catastrophic break down between players and manager to explain poor form? All teams hit a bad patch. My concern is that Boro's bad patch has lasted too long to be able to sustain a tilt at automatic promotion. Which was/is a long shot anyway.

We can all see I think that Boro are still an incomplete team, not quite good enough for a sustained realistic attempt at automatic promotion, I see players such as Ledesma and Bikey as weak links and curently Emnes, others see a semi-permacrocked Woody as an issue. But the picture is clear to us all, the squad isn't quite good enough.

But I think progress is being made, Mogga will get us there eventually. Despite the recent bad run and Saturday's car crash, I enjoy watching Boro compete at the top of the Championship. Although it would be great to be back in the premiership we should be careful of what we wish for, when we get there it will be a grind.

timfromsa said:

Its fact that last seasons January flop happened partly to the injury of Bailey.
This time we have the same thing but he is available. Our back four is not strong enough without him or somebody like him in front of them.

We need to get back to what we were doing whilst on the good run. All those players are still on the books. But then as mentioned above with five out of our starting eleven on Saturday out of form how could we expect to compete never mind win.

Smoggy In Exile said:

Typical Boro post-Christmas slump alert!

To be honest, I don't know why we expect any different. We'd all feel a lot better if we just wrote off January, and the first half of February and just assumed the team were going to lose but cheered them on anyway. A pessimist is never disappointed. Although 4-0 away to Ipswich would test even the hardiest and most resolute pessimist's disappointment threshhold.

I digress. The Bailey situation is very puzzling. I understand AV's comments about ball retention and recyling, but, and perhaps I'm stretching a point, if we aren't Barcelona (as AV reminds us, and is clear), then in order to recycle the ball and pass it around, you need to WIN the ball.

To win the ball, and disrupt the position of the opposition you need players who are ball-winners. Especially in that third of the pitch nearest your goal, because that's where letting the opposition have the ball becomes most problematic.

So, surely, we need Bailey? or Smallwood? They can pass it onto someone else to do the fancy stuff. The archetypal Nicky Butt at Man Utd role. I seem to remember them being pretty successful....

John said:

It seems to me we are suffering from the same problem as last season.

We have gone through the first half of the season, up to Christmas, playing reasonably the same way, give or take a few changes here and there that saw us play poorly and lose. But we were consistent enough to keep picking up the points. Pretty much the same as last season.

Then came January, the Juke and we fell apart trying to fit in a new player.

This season, our poor form generally coincides with the return of Rhys Williams. Yes he was forced into an early return due to other injuries, but the team has also been structured to fit him in since he has been available.

And let's be honest, he is a shadow of the player he was last season. I've never seen him have a good game at right back for us and I also seem to remember us struggling with set pieces early this season before he got injured and then that problem disappeared.

I don't know why we have changed the way we play or whether anyone sees it as I do. But we had a tried and tested system which was relatively successful and we seem to have changed it. And I don't buy into these being enforced changes at all.

McEachran for me has been an integral part of our midfield and both he and Leadbitter form a midfield partnership that for most games provides us with a platform on which to build attacks. Yet since Christmas, it seems McEachran has been used in a different way, playing in a far more advanced position forcing our strikers deeper instead.

The bit I don't get is why? Why have we suddenly changed style? Does anyone else see the same thing? Is anyone else particularly worried about team selection, where we seem to be trying to fit as many players on the pitch in unfamiliar positions rather than playing them in their best position?

Why is it that up until January, we looked capable of scoring goals and since January we've made hard work of it.

And what is going on with the team spirit? I see a lack of it at the moment. Against Aldershot, Jutkiewicz didn't pass the ball once in the first half, instead electing to try and dribble from the half way line on his own, time and time again. In the second half, Emnes went off and suddenly the Juke started to pass the ball. Is there a problem there or am I reading too much into it?

If I were a manager, I'd be furious with Juke for trying to do it all on his own when he has simple passes which would allow him to turn and get into the box. And frequently I see that we've had up to 20 shots in a game, per the statistics.

But that's no good if over half of those shots are from 25 yards when we've got people in better positions. What happened to the patient build up? Everyone seems to be swinging their boot the moment they have sight of goal and wasting good opportunities.

For those of you who believe our squad just simply isn't good enough to make it, let me tell you that I haven't seen a single side this season with anything to truly fear. Yes our squad is made up of players with weaknesses, but so too is every other squad in this league. Are our players top quality? No. Are anyone else's? No. There can be no excuses that our players aren't good enough.

They've proven they are good enough in the first half of the season. I just want to see us get back to that form from now on and stop this constant tinkering and shifting of players into all sorts of positions and stop playing into the oppositions hands.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it! Too late for that now though cos it IS broke now!

lenmasterman said:

Bad result on Saturday. We need to change. Couldn't Messrs. Gibson and Mowbray give us a bit less stability? That is clearly part of the problem. Shouldn't we at least try to be a little more like Forest and Blackburn?

Andy R said:

Borophil, Werdermouth, Nigel Reeve and Len Masterman are right - there is no need for panic and I said before four defeats is not a crisis.

Whatever is said in the heat of the moment the team have shown character before - a long unbeaten run after the Blackpool result shows that.

We will find out who the leaders are in the next game and see who shows the desire to get us back on track.

I may come to regret saying this but I strongly fancy us to beat Barnsley on Saturday, regardless of their recent improvement. The Ipswich defeat could be the call to action we have perhaps needed.

I still think we need to look at "resting" one or two out of form players though. As much as taking them out of the firing line it gives an added incentive to those currently on the sidelines.

Forever Dormo said:

A few cheeky little Tweets tonight. A bit of work to do in the next few days, too. But my wife has delivered "Beyond a Boundary" by CLR James to my desk, and I am going to reward myself by starting it at the weekend.

She must have been reading one of the threads a few weeks ago (in which a selection of sporting books were offered as suggested reading) and decided to hit the bookshop. Aren't wives a good idea?

Of course I might start sending Trotskyist posts with a distinctly anti-colonialist hue next week. Might have to follow it up with something by Winston Churchill...

**AV writes: I think I recommended that in our book club thread. It's the only cricket* book I have ever read.

*where cricket = a cultural vehicle for the politics of class and identity in the colonial West Indies, from a Marxist perspective. Howzat!

lenmasterman said:

Dormo, Who needs the colonies? Or even servants, when a wife can deliver books to your desk? Whether husbands are a good thing in such circumstances is probably a more interesting question.

Enjoy old CLR. It's a classic.

Werdermouth said:

Mogga was reported yesterday in saying there would need to be outgoings to make space for any incoming loan players. Does that mean there is little prospect of any loan deals?

I would deduce from that statement that Kevin Thomson must have been moved out to accomodate Dyer's wages. Also the failed Danny Graham bid must have been totally dependent on Emnes going.

Everyone knows our attack needs a shake-up, which would probably help take the pressure off the rest of the team and help revive our form - so it's probably worth a small investment - we can't be absolutely broke as in theory Boro are debt-free.

I'm not sure what a loan deal for someone like George Boyd would cost Boro but I'm sure he's capable of playing a blinder every now and then.

**AV writes: Yes, Graham would have been largely funded by Emnes exit. That would pay have the wages with the other half covered by the exit of McManus/Arca in the summer and the chairman picking up the balance in the interim, as well as writing out a cheque for the first instalment of the balance.

There is nothing in the budget for extra spending on wages. The club continue to lose £800k a month which Steve Gibson is picking up. It is all very well people saying get Player X in but that may add another £50-80-100k a month. Unless gates start to rise that is not going to happen. Basic economics.

I've heard people say they are not going to games anymore because "Steve Gibson is not showing any ambition" meaning he is not sticking his hand in his pocket but he is stumping up ambition to the tune of £12m a year.

Nikeboro said:

My vote is we have a winter close-down in January. Boro have been doing it for years! If everybody followed suit, it would be worth an extra 10 points to us by season's end.

Denis said:

I think reading through the responses to our present slump, the general reaction of bloggers has been concern, frustration, anger and occasionally silliness.

I try to keep some perspective on where we are, fully realising that we will come out of this at some point. That does not mean we should not question Mogga, his style of management, tactics and selection. He is accountable to the club and to

The questions we have raised here are valid, constructive and sensible. We do not know what goes on behind the scenes, the feuds, the rivalries, fallings out and pettiness that may ensue in the squad.

When things are going well, two factors stand out: stability and unity. I have not seen much evidence of either since the turn of the year.

In whatever walk of life, it is normal to reflect and review on what is going right and what is going wrong. Recent tactics and selections would suggest the team is not functioning as it should. Therefore it is logical to suggest; to use the right players in the right position, shore up the defence and in effect start afresh.

Nothing suggests to me that Mogga is not a thinker about the game. One assumes he is open and receptive to new ideas, different ways of working and flexible. If he is not we have a problem.Should that be true, it explains our current predicament

John Dobson said:

Dressing room.... I am sure this is where our problems lie. Come on Mogga, sort it,. You are a man of stature and we all support you. However, now and again, we start to wonder if the massive stature is hiding a wimp. Action is required to send the trouble makers into oblivion. However, you do need help from the top to swing your axe. So come on Mogga.

I wonder if he ever reads our posts?

**AV writes: If he does I'm sure he will sometimes shake his head in disbelief.

London-based Boro fan said:

Werder @ 10.27 am (final paragraph):

Given that Boyd's projected move from Posh to Forest fell through at the last minute after he apparently failed an eye test, I've no doubt that he is capable of playing the odd blinder! ;)

Mardy Bum said:

John Dobson 09:27:

It was only a matter of weeks ago that the group were lauded for their togetherness and team spirit. What can have changed since then? They're just on a bad run and there's a number of things that could have contributed, not least the injuries.

*Shakes head in disbelief*

Redcar Red said:

The Barnsley game should be interesting to see if there are any changes to line ups or tactics. Stick to the same old same old and win 3-0 and all is back on track for the time being.

Alternatvely struggle to a draw or worse still lose with Nicky Bailey on the bench, the rest square pegged and the usual suspects failing to deliver again and the Riverside mood may start to turn.

Lets hope for a decisive victory banishing all fears otherwise we may hear calls for Nicky Bailey similar to when TLF's name was being chanted at Ste Mac. If that happens then nobody at the club wins. Diffcult Management conundrum for Mogga!

**AV writes: Don't get me wriing, I love Nicky Bailey and in general hail the robust, unfussy industrial grafters like him (if anyone has every seen me play they will know why) but the idea of his name being chanted in pursuit of a decisive victory is a little surreal. #GingerMessiah

Andy R said:

A thumping defeat and yet we're nowhere near 100 posts? Most unusual. Perhaps the blog being up on the blocks for a day or two took the sting out of the backlash.

Any word on possible loans, AV? If they're dependent on outgoings then they would seem unlikely - not just for the fact that someone would have to take one of ours, but also because it would potentially leave us short of a big player if we can't find the right replacement.

On the plus side, sad as the manner of Kevin Thomson's exit was, we do now look good for a clear deck next summer. With McManus, McDonald and Bailey out of contract that is presumably all of the unaffordables gone (or retained on manageable terms?). Presumably Arca will be respectfully ushered out the door too.

Any idea how much that will cut Gibbo's monthly bill before replacements, AV? My guess would be in the region on £250k a month. That still leaves us vastly overspending though...

**AV writes: McDonald still has another year. I would guess (back of fag-packet) that Thomson was on £18k. That plus the exit of McManus £12k, Bailey £12k, Arca £8k probably means £40k a week off the wage bill. That's £2m a year.

I think if we don't go up then Mogga will get half of that to spend on wages but only a very small transfer kitty (maybe the other half if he puts up a convincing case to bring in a specific player.) Any incomings on a fee beyond that will probably be funded by out-goings.

Forever Dormo said:

Don't any of you lot have beds to go to? (Just asking....)

Redcar Red said:

AV -

I don't mean that the masses who booed Emnes will be chantng for Bailey to come on and rescue a game more a point of soildarity and opinion expressed to selection and tactical issues. Or in simpler parlance a sign of attitudes swaying and changing towards "total belief and trust" in the management without directly engaging in the type of stick Robbo and Viv endured towards the end of their tenure.

It appears that Moggga has thankfully taken stock of what they have been doing versus the results they have been getting and has acknowledged a change in preparations for tomorrows game.

Barnsley are revitalised under Flitcroft who has done an excellent job with them. My concern is that they are not the bottom of the table fodder they were a few weeks back and are capable of an upset.

A scenario of Emnes misfiring, split strikers, Ledesma giving the ball away, Woody hobbling off after 20 minutes and a negative scoreline would be enough to prompt verbal discord aimed at the bench. Hopefully it won't happen and we will be looking at a reinvigorated Boro and the recent past is put behind us quickly.

**AV writes: I quite like it when the crowd speak as one in condemning turgid football and making quite explit demands. "Attack! Attack! Attack-Attack-Attack!" That was always quite invigorating.

I remember once in the dying embers of Steve McClaren's reign (before the UEFA run took off, in the days when he used to skulk in the tunnel to avoid the booing over playing one upfront at home) when there was a sudden angry and frustrated chant of "Four Four Two! Four Four Two!)

Phil, Norton said:

Conor Whickham on loan to Sheff Wed,
where the hell were Mogga and Gibson
when that deal went through

Nikeboro said:

This is the time of year when Reading clicked. Having been adrift, they surged through the last third of the season. We're starting from a higher position but, if we are to secure automatic promotion, it's got to start very soon.

I thought last week's game at Ipswich was the make-or-break for ending the bad run. We didn't so much break as disintegrate.

If we are to turn things round, it's got to be one of these consecutive home games. However it's difficult to see past tomorrow. After all, if we can't beat Barnsley you wouldn't fancy us against Leeds.

Smogonthetyne said:

Just about calmed down from last saturday. Hope we can turn it around asap.

Quick quiz question.

Smog jnr is attending his fifth game on Saturday. It's the first time the opposition does not have a W in their name. Can you name them?

Is this a first in the world of football fandom?

Should I be asleep? Yes.

**AV writes: Four teams with a 'W' in their name... anyone?

Forever Dormo said:

Does anyone else on here watch BBC4 on a Friday evening? Worth the licence fee.

As for the game against Barnsley, I bet even Mogga himself wouldn't put the weekly housekeeping money on the result. We might turn it round and show we are a team to be reckoned with. We might surrender meekly, as we have done in the league all this year.

I really hope it is the former. Wife has been threatening to hide all the sharp implements in the house, before I get home, if the result goes against us. The thing is that the whole weekend takes on a miserable feeling if we lose. On the other hand, if we win, the stars shine brighter in the sky on Saturday evening and everything seems to be more cheerful. (Fingers crossed).

**AV writes: Don't despair. If Boro lose there is always "When Albums Ruled the World" on BBC4 at 10.45pm.

Smogonthetyne said:

Utterly pathetic. No redeeming feature whatso ever.

Beaten by a long throwin to the box? Seriously? A team of professional athletes that will have worked in training all week to defend properly.

Beaten by a 37 year old guy hurling a ball into to the box. Really? Really?

Give up and go home you spineless shower of .......

Pass pass pass pass pass

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