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Shot Shy Boro Drag Out The Agony

By Anthony Vickers on Apr 3, 13 07:52 AM


IMPOTANT Boro struck a bum note as they found themselves in a cow/banjo situation.

They bossed possession against Peterborough and created maybe a dozen decent chances and three or four very good ones... and one or two sitters - but the flaccid front-line failed to take a single one.

Boro's poorly calibrated players queued up to screw it wide, scoop it high over the bar, take airshots six yards out, get the ball tangled up in their feet and drill it well wide, high over or straight at the keeper.

Between them the shot-shy shambles blasted it from just about every distance, angle and velocity known to football physics and barely forced a save out of the Posh keeper.

It was a mis-firing masterclass of multi-marksman mediocrity and they should all hand their heads in shame.

You would laugh at the penalty box slapstick if it wasn't so serious. It was a golden opportunity missed. With the play-off pretenders stuttering above and around Boro, somehow a season that should really have been put out its misery a month ago is still twitching and showing signs of live.

Victory was there for the taking. But time after time blunt Boro spurn the opportunity to climb up off the slab and stage a revival. After four defeats on the spin against basement battlers a point should have been welcome to stop the rot but instead it was a taunting reminder of how poor this team have been at the crunch.

They were at home against the second bottom side and with everything to play for - professional pride, a crowd that deserve more, a somehow still viable play-off push, their futures at the club, win bonuses - but could not find a goal.

It is not for the want of effort. In the past few games - Birmingham, Wolves and now Peterborough - Boro have worked hard and for long spells have had a clear edge.

There is an argument they could and should have won all three games. If only they could score when on top. They beaver away and get into positions. They get width and stretch play, pass and probe, get behind defences and put the ball in the box.

They are creating the chances. Good chances. Really good chances. Sitters. But they just can't hit the target. A combination of poor timing, poor luck, a lack of confidence, a lack of hunger and a lack of ability makes them a toothless attack.

Against Peterborough Boro did well up until the final fraction of a second. No, really. Yes, the result was deeply disappointing and the on-going slide to obscurity is frustrating if predictable - but the way the team set-up and functioned was fine. It panned out just was as planned. Until the moment of truth.

The 4231 shape worked. Sammy Ameobi, behind the lone striker Ishmael Miller, ran riot, carving open Posh with sublime trickery, unpredictable long-legged twists and turns and some divine short passes. Behind him Josh McEachran and Grant Leadbitter worked hard to win and keep the ball, recycling possession and switching the direction of play and passing crisply. That unit worked.

The trio was well balanced and looked detenmined and assertive. They dominated play in the opposition half and picked and probed with considerable success. It was where the bulk of chances were created.

Later on Mustapha Carayol came on to streak down the left and fire in cross after inviting cross into the danger zone with great effect. The chances were there.

But some of the finishing was sickeningly woeful. Scott McDonald is Boro's top scorer - the top earner usefully wears a shirt with the number 27 to give us some indication of the ball park figure of his rewards - and he is hard-working enough. No one can deny that. He buzzes about looking to link up. He has played out of position and done well.

At Wolves he was a orthodox midfielder and against Posh he played in a wider role. And he was effective in both - until he got into his natural territory in the box where right now he couldn't hit a barn-door with a blunderbuss.

Twice he had a clear sight of goal with time and space to pick his spot. It is what strikers are supposed to thrive on. But he blazed a routine 10 yard half-volley well wide after being perfectly teed up by a Miller knockdown.

Then he screwed another close range effort wide after snatching at his shot.

And Faris Haroun twice failed to make contact six yards out when passes were squared teasingly across the box, once with either of his left feet. Then when he finally did hit the ball eight yards in acres of space, with time frozen and with just the keeper to beat he skied it high into the stands. Another erratic, hurried shot from inside the box screwed off wildly closer to the corner flag than the target.

They were the worst offenders but they weren't alone. Miller and Justin Hoyte spooned wide and over and after coming off the bench direct Curtis Main twice surged into good positions but mistimed his approach and couldn't unload and the ball bobbled away.

It wasn't all mistimed ineptitude. There were some laudable efforts on goal too. Josh McEachran carved open Posh with a neat one-two off Ameobi to burst through and drill in stinging shot that brought a good full-length save.

And Ameobi clawed a loose ball back into play in with a sublime drag-back, dummy and reverse nut-meg - ProEvo skills that the young people refer to as "good tekkers" - then cut inside to rifle a low angled effort that was also well saved.

And Leadbitter - who obviously has a taste for an exocet now after his double at Wolves - sent a sizzling effort scorching just over after good approach play.

But good, bad and indifferent, they wouldn't go in. Even the deflections fly just off target.

And that has been the story of the season. Certainly it has been a frustrating fatal theme running through the steady slither from the summit.

Yes, some terrible goals have been leaked and the ever changing defence would not stand up to close scrutiny right now. Let's be honest, they have been woeful too and have conceded some sloppy goals that must leave old school defender Mogga mortified.

Failing to mark, failing to pick up signalled movement, failing to make simple headers, cut out crosses and failing to block shots and make tackles. It has been a poor fare.

But the fact remains that had Boro taken one of their gilt edge chances against Posh, one of their three or four first half sitters at Wolves to wrap it up before the break, one or two of their great opportunities in the Birmingham game, then we would not be squirming in frustration and looking anxiously over our shoulders wondering what happened to the Autumn optimism and the nailed on promotion.

Given where we started 2013 it is embarrassing and infuriating that we should even have to contemplate results and movement in the lower half.

It would take some bizarre results to drag Boro much further down - no one has ever gone down on 55 points before - but that it is actively being talked about and real calculations being made by the more cynical and jittery sections of a deeply discontented crowd speaks volumes of where most now consider the team to be.

Some are already talking of the historical inevitability of a nervous final day trip to Hillsborough, the scene of two previous heartbreaking relegations on seasons that started well and were still healthy at Christmas.

But, in fact, despite the despondency, this punctured season may have some mileage in it yet. With four of the teams above them to play Boro could - could - still gatecrash the end of season shootout. Crazy.

That is not me 'spreading ra-ra fairy dust on the wreckage'. That is the league table. Our peers are not good enough to pull away. Our teams are faltering too. Amazingly it is still there for Boro if only they could find a spark.

The kind thing would be to put us all out of our misery but this team - aided and abetted by the incomptance of others - could yet drag out the agony through another six games and take it right to the . In this league anything seems possible.

But to make that increasingly surreal scenario a reality Boro must start scoring. And quickly. They must start whacking beef bum with banjo.

36 Comments

Cassandra said:

Season over - I prophesy an appearance in League 1 in August 2014...

redcartim said:

I'm afraid AV that if you believe there is mileage in this season (in a positive sense) you are sadly wrong. Forget mathematics, Look at the run we are in, the failures so far in 2013 to score and defend. The run continues and shows no sign of ending - this is why more people are now talking of relegation and not play-offs.


I'd rather us start preparing for next season by cancelling the loan contracts and playing a team of players who are under contract with the club next term.


**AV writes: People only see what they want to see. I slam the team, them inept and mediocre, outline the bleak financial landscape and bemoan the corrosive effect of the death of optimism... then get branded king of the ra-ras for pointing to the reality of the statistical data that is the league table.


Unlikely as it sounds, this bungling Boro ARE still in the play-off frame. You may not want to acknowledge that, believe that it is possible, or see a way of that lasting much longer and I may share your scepticism. But for now it remains true.

Jarkko said:

First-team coach Fabrizio Piccareta, goalkeeping coach Domenico Doardo, fitness coach Claudio Donatelli and physiotherapist Giulio Viscardi have all moved to Wearside after working with Di Canio at Swindon. So the Italian job was completed at Sunderland.


Oh, and we did get a clean sheet yesterday. At least the captain is back with some form. Finally.


As our Friend got injured, it looks like the back four will be now: Hoyte, Rhys, Bikey/Woodgate and Halliday. I hope we can get some results now to boost the morale before the close season.


Up the Boro!

Redcar Red said:

I said to John Powls on Boro Banter before the game that I anticipated another midweek 0-0 disappointment similar to the Doncaster non-event of last season and sadly I was spot on. I also said that the only reason to get myself motivated to go was to see what the Tinkering Messiah was going to permutate out of his dressing room lottery team selection.


Our best "Fox in the box" is Scotty but he was out wide left. Now Scotty scraps and battles with the utmost tenacity but a creative wing man he ain't. On the other side we had Faris (who to be honest I'm not sure what his supposed best position is, and under Mogga I don't think he does now) who is anything but a wide man, he couldn't beat an egg with a king sized Kenwood.


So there we had it, on Saturday the game changed with a woeful substitution of Carayol and Reach so rather than revert back and admit perhaps a minor error we abandoned that tactic totally to square peg different players.


Amazing but by now very sadly predictable because I am now hardened to accept the mantra that under Tony "it is what it is" and that's what we get from game to game, confused, disheartened and begrudging footballers doing their best under the instructions they have been given.


We did however have a tricky and speedy wing man in Ameobi who we played in the middle behind the most one dimensional carthorse performance I have seen in a long while that was Ishmael Miller (and I'm normally defensive of the big fella).


Granted Ameobi did dance around and cause havoc but that was the problem, nobody else was sure of their starting positions or how or where to receive the ball so everything got muddled, congested with nobody dragging defenders and creating openings and so we were treated to the comedic, bungling attempts at scoring, trying to get some power from a standing start usually with the ball bagatelling about or trickling through someones legs at the last minute.


The performance in its entirety didn't look very professional or disciplined (with the notable exception of Rhys and Bikey). From where I was sat it resembled a pub team with a hangover trying to clear their heads.


Best entertainment of the night was the equally comedic refereeing and lino, together they were priceless. The ref for stopping the came with Boro well on top for a head injured leg cramp and a corner not given when the ball was six feet behind the line that the lino and ref failed to spot.


Second most entertaining aspect was the crowd attendance, I suspect they must have borrowed Mogga's Lottery team selector balls for that one. The worry is that those attendances will become the norm and we will get the team we deserve (or the remaining die hard 8-10,000 will get the Team) and that crowd won't even cover Ali and Higgy's half time Carrot and Coriander soup.


Why was the game not played on the Bank Holiday Monday when more Posh fans would have been able to travel and more Boro fans "hopefully" would have turned up? I see no point in a league where attendance is the main cash stream not taking advantage of a Bank Holiday.


Did we overachieve earlier in the season or are we not as good as we thought we were? Is Jason lucky to be an U21 regular, is Grant a below average midfielder in this division? Was Scotty just lucky when goals went in for him previously in his career? Is Rhys not really International class and was Emnes just a fluke? Are Reach and Carayol just not that good?


Maybe so in all those and many more cases or maybe eight points from 45 (which would be definite relegation by a country mile if extrapolated over a season) is not a collective reflection of the squads abilities either. Its not getting any better and based upon last nights impotence its just bumping and barely scraping along the bottom.


We may not have the best squad in this divison but are we really collectively so much worse than Peterborough, Bristol, Huddersfield, Millwall etc? I don't think so.


Unfortunately what the diminishing paying customer thinks appears to be irrelevant and in that lies total madness and no future, regardless of wage culling and Financial stability models because Financial stability for this club will not have been based on a bottom 6 finish next season (and more likely rock bottom 20 point adrift if this continues) and gates well under 10,000. Something has to change and soon, I hope its Mogga's tactics and game plans first.

Mr Average said:

Maybe I am just getting old but I can’t get as angry as some of the guys on here and on FMTTM and the ones on the phone-in who need any sharp objects and belts taken away.


No one is ‘happy’ that the early promise has fizzled out but I don’t think the ONLY reaction to the situation is this constant state of frenzy and demands for drastic action NOW! I haven’t got the emotional energy to keep up that level of intensity and ability to be angry at the players, the manager, the chairman and any other fan who isn’t foaming at the mouth. I'm not making any demands or threats to walk if they don't match my expectations.


Seriously, have a word. Calm down. It's not good for your heart or sanity. Look, Boro have just left a golden age when we had a fantastic time and I enjoyed every second of it but I'm not daft, I know it was a freak spell in our long history of upper second tier mediocrity and we just fell lucky that Steve Gibson put a lot of money in during a short window of opportunity. But it didn't make us football giants and now we are finding our level again.


And that's isn’t a national tragedy or scandal. It isn’t a personal insult. I haven't t been robbed, cheated or murdered by the chairman. It is the natural life cycle of football. Look around. There are loads of clubs our size (and bigger) in exactly the same position. Leeds, Derby, Forest, Sheff Wed, Wolves, Leicester to name a few. We don’t have a RIGHT to be in the Premiership. All those teams want it and expect it and some of them have more money and bigger natural crowds than we do,


Every season we don’t get up isn’t a huge disaster or a betrayal of your birthright. It is just football. Sorry if it makes me a heretic or a weak for settling for second best or just not that good or serious a fan or whatever, but at the end of the day I’m not going to stake everything in my life on the next result and where we are next year.


I go to the game with my son, I support the team (I don’t chant these days but I hum along and tap my feet and I’ll stand and cheer a goal along with anyone) and then I go home and we talk about it and have a laugh over a beer. I enjoy that. I don’t want it to consume me completely like it does some people on here.


I’ve renewed already for next year whatever division, whatever manager ( I hope its Mogga), wherever we finish, Liverpool, Blackpool or Hartlepool, I'll be there.


Come on Boro.


**AV writes: OK, calm down, calm down. Don't come on here being all militantly level headed and moderate. Interesting post.

Ian Gill said:

At least my garden trellis has dried, I brought it in and watched it whilst listening to the football.


Redcar Red or Mr Average?


Both are right. We are back where we have been for much of my time supporting Boro, from Holiday to Haliday.


That should not stop us looking at what takes place with constructive comments. They don't have to be filled with bile nor Mogga love-fests. Redcar Red articulates what many of us think. People can agree or disagree, that is what this forum is for.


AV hits it on the head with his own articles swinging from obvious frustration to realism to Moggaphile.


In the final analysis the final judgement belongs to the paying public. Each one will make their own decision.

Mick said:

And how long have we been so bad in front of goal? When goals were coming from throughout the team, this masked the fact we don't have a proper goalscorer.


Then, we started dominating teams and were unable to finish them off. If we'd had a proper goalscorer, how many games that we lost but should have won would have taken at least one (maybe three points) from?


Mowbray seems reluctant to buy a proper goalscorer. We could have had Kevin Phillips for nothing!


At least Brian Robson knew the value of a proper goalscorer. To help our promotion drive in 1997/98 he bought THREE in one go (i.e. Ricard, Branca and Armstrong). In 1994/95 after a turgid 1-1 draw with Grimsby at Ayresome Park and Boro in desperate need of goals, Robson brought in Uwe Fuchs. I need not go into how well that went.


I have been saying it for months, we need a proper goalscorer. Someone who may do nothing else for 90 mins, but convert at least one opportunity into a goal. If they did that consistently, who would care that that is all they do?


I remember a time that we battered Tranmere at Ayresome Park. We had seventeen corners and couldn't convert several opportunities. Tranmere had one opportunity that I remember; a counter attack towards the end of the game scored by John Aldridge, who did nothing else for 90 mins, but had the ability to convert one opportunity. What would we give for a John Aldridge right now? Someone who will get us draws and wins that we don't deserve (like in the game mentioned)?


When was the last time Boro signed someone who can do that?


**AV writes: That will have been when we had money. Goal scorers cost big bucks. Phillips was being offered around in the summer and if I recall correctly wanted £30k a week plus a big signing on fee. That's out of our league.

Never Give Up On Boro said:

I think last nights game just typified our season, had the bulk of possession but failed miserably in the final third and in front of goal! Only thing missing was the sucker punch goal from the opposition at the death to condemn us to defeat!


I agree with Redcar Red,MacDonald wasted out wide, our only striker who looks like scoring in the wrong position.


Big Ish was terrible last night. I still don't think he's as bad as people say, his one good moment came when he won the ball and raced down the wing and put in a decent cross. That's where he should be out wide,he's better delivering balls in than being the recipient and has created a few goals playing out there.


Williams looked better than of late and I presume it's him and Bikey/Woodgte pairing injuries/fitness permitting for the rest of the season?


I think it's a blessing Friend is now injured, he's getting turned and left for dead far too regularly match after match, give Halliday a run for the last six games and lets see what he can do.


Couldn't believe Haroun started let alone finished the game, that miss from six yards out that cleared the crossbar by twenty feet alone deserved being substituted.


Comedy of errors again in front of goal, chances and half chances we have had and not put away is unbelievable. We should be comfortably in a play off place we are not picking up points when the others are dropping them - but then again I'm sure there are several other teams saying the same thing!!


Size of the crowd poor again,an optimistic 13,000. I haven't a clue how we can attract people back again,when we were on our good run there was never more than 16,000/17,000 except for the offers. Even if we were in the Premier League,how many would come back? And for how long?


What would people expect us to do? Likelyhood is we would be in the bottom half and most likely fighting relegation,be no better than Sunderland, Newcastle, Reading,Norwich etc. We need to go back up for the money but we couldn't commit to spending big money on players and wages like last time.


We would lose or draw more than we would win! How many people would keep coming if we were regularly getting hammered.


Unfortunately I see the future for MFC up and down between the Premiership and Championship assuming we can ever get there!!


Shame we couldn't get a goal for Werdemouth!!

gt said:

OK, unless we win six out of six, its all ove.


I think what fans want to hear now from the hiarachy is have they recognised their mistakes? Have they recognised which players can handle it or not? Have they put a budget in place for next season? Is it competitive - or average?


Do they have a wish list as far as possible signing,or is it wait and see?


Are there things in place as far as selling anyone?


And most of all,has Gibson had strong words with Tony regarding expectations?


If fans are given an idea of the direction the clubs intentions are (no more rhetoric) maybe it might ease some of the pain we are all in.

Phil,Norton said:

Williams man of the match , surprise surprise. Our captain has his best game in his rightful position. Hardly rocket science was it Mogga? One day AV you might ask our manager why our best centre half has been played anywhere on the pitch except his best position? If anything sums up Moggas inept tactics and team selection this does .

**AV writes: Mogga has been asked a couple of times about Williams. We can only ask the question, we can't make him answer it in way that people like. He has always said he sees Williams as a centre-back but when he came back he was first drafted in to deal with the right back crisis and then moved into the middle to patch up injuries there. His form and fitness wasn't great and to be fair, for a couple of weeks he wasn't doing enough to justify a start at all.

Denis said:

Well, progress of sorts. I did see small signs of cohesion and fluency with the ball but our forward play in the 18yard box is chronically wasteful.


Haroun, all he can do is run, what Mogga calls athleticism.His relationship with a football is random. McEachran can play until he is pensionable age, stop, slow, square balls all night.McDonald, disgruntled and out of sorts, Miller plays football as if he were wearing flippers.


You could go on, however the defence benefited from Williams being in his best position and generally was competent. My reckoning, whatever the fate of this season is we have nine players out of contract and repeating that over used football cliche,'heading for pastures new.'


Any one seen Emnes by the way?


**AV writes: I think he is on the naughty step. With his big headphones on.

Forever Dormo said:

Can I say I agree with Ian Gill at 12.03pm. We might disagree with others' views, we might agree with them, but most of us on here try to be constructive and try not to fill our posts "with bile, or be Mogga love-fests". We all want the same thing, a successful, well-supported football club.


Sometimes a little quip might be made, sometimes humour may have been stretched a little and a sharp remark posted, but hopefully not more than that.


Mind you, it was so cold at the ground last night that I couldn't send more than a couple of tweets (fingers were freezing) and anyway a little period of quiet reflection is better than firing off an angry post to the blog.


**AV writes: Give your in-box a little shake...

Paulista Park said:

So, after our Easter fixtures the verdict is clear:


1. Boro have the makings of a very good team indeed.


2. I love the way the Boro play.


What!, they cry,a pint of what he's had ! The sad ramblings of a deluded ra-ra. Another apologista letting "Tinker Tony" off the hook. In Mogga-don we trust! Well, yes I do actually but don't blame me for the plaudits.


The first quote comes from Bill Howell, seasoned sports hack from the Birmingham Mail following the Wolves defeat . The second from Darren Ferguson both pre and post the Peterborough match. Strange isn't it how it takes someone outside the parochial battleground to give us a "glass half full" perpective on our own team.


What a contrast to the all out war and unapologetic hatred on the Fanzine Messageboard. The anti- Mowbray witch hunt there reads like a cyber "Lord of the Flies"; how apt that last week a poster by the name of "specky(get)" was being persecuted!


Things are far from rosy of course and it was another missed chance caused by missed chances. However, it was gratifying to see us at least dipping our toe into the pool of expansive, possession based football. The first half especially was easy on the eye at times and a pleasant contrast to the high ball, channel surfing of the Brum match. A much better brand of football all round.


After a torrid time I see some shoots of recovery. We have progressed considerably from the nadir of the Bristol City game and Mogga's embarrassing post match lament that "perhaps we had the ball too much".


For us to progress further, both this season and beyond, the brand of football is key. A brand based blueprint was brilliantly set out in AV's "Swansalona" tribute. I urge anyone who hasn't read it to do so, it deserves to be "hoofed" ad infinitum.


There are so many positives about a future based on an expansive, possession based brand. It dovetails perfectly with our Academy and its emphasis on technique, it should ensure better focus in player recruitment and wiser spending and perhaps best of all it's exciting and new. Major trophy- tick, European football- tick, established in premier league- tick, world superstars - tick but we have never really had a possession based brand. Even those famous Euro victories were gained through the direct approach - a bit of up and at 'em.


A sophisticated style, neither welded to, nor dependent on, a Premier League existence can be achieved but it needs the club to buy into it AND sell it to the fans. As we stand renewals are set to drop but, if the club are bold and set out their moral vision of playing " The Right Way", hearts and minds can be won.


We need Gibson, Bausor and Mowbray on the radio, online and in the local press to frontline it. If we are fully committed, patient and positive we have a chance for a bright and exciting future.


**AV writes: I agree that the club need to be pro-active and really bang a drumfor what their vision is. We need a Red Manifesto backed up with a new realtionship with the fans. They are putting feelers out and that's good but it will take something bolder, clearer and confident to make it really attractive. And a few good results to dissolve the current layer of cynicism.


Forever Dormo said:

I'd rather watch Boro win than Real Madrid.

And, yes, I did give the inbox a shake. I'm not square. I'll be there. Reply sent..

Jarkko said:

Interesting what PaulistaPark said above about the praise from elsewhere for Boro's performances over the Easter period. Perhaps we have reached the bottom now.


Think if our strikers suddenly would start to score (as they usually will one day)!


I would play the team something like below at home:


Main (or Lukas)
McDonald(or Miller), Sammy Ameobi, Carayol
Leadbitter & McEachran
Halliday, Rhys, Woodgate (Bikey), Hoyte
Steele


Quite attacking minded but should bring a goal or two. Perhaps that needs to be adjusted for an away match when we should go for counter attacking format more.


Up the Boro!

Ian Gill said:

Peasepudding

Well said.

Andy R said:

Some interesting posts above as always.


Redcar Red asks "are we really collectively so much worse than Peterborough, Bristol, Huddersfield, Millwall etc?" On ability, no. On current confidence levels and other intangibles, I think we probably are. Maybe not much worse, but worse.


Is Scott McDonald out on the left wing a crime? Not as much as his continued profligacy. That he remains our best finisher tells much of the story.

boro1953 said:

The reason for our demise is in the stats,only two teams have lost more games than us and let in more goals and they are both in the drop zone, which doesn't auger well for next season.


Mogga i believe is on a one year rolling contract and it looks like Gibbo is retaining his services for now but obviously it depends on the start we have next season which brings us to the question of will Mogga survive and for how long.


It is hard to believe some of the things we are witnessing game after game defensively ie poor marking,not attacking the ball from set pieces, full backs not stopping the endless stream of crosses into the box which leads to the question of players frailties or bad management/tactics.I believe its a mixture of both.


When Terry Venables came in to assist Robbo(laughs)we had a similar run to now ie 11 points from 17 games and T V managed to get the same players organised defensively and saved us from the drop.


It seems that Mogga is either not conveying the right messages to the players or they are not listening to him which must call for action from Gibbo for a change in direction sooner rather than later.

uxter said:

"Look on the bright side, though, there’s no risk of him invading Poland in his present post, Sunderland have no chance of getting in to Europe in my lifetime!"


Hahahahahaha quote of the month that one, a well wrung out lead up to the killer punch, I would say though that the Communist dictatorships you mentioned did stray amazingly far from real socialist/communist agendas in pursuit of their empires whereas Chaplin and Alexie Sayle did stick to their scripts a lot closer, you have to admire the way the fascists and indeed the the Tories, stick to their cruel manipulative, poor crushing empire building.


Just saying

kev B said:

It is what it is. It must be, 'cause that's what Mogga says. Frequently. Great post by Mr. Average by the way. The future is level headed supporting! I'm gonna try it for a while, at least until next season's Championship campaign starts!

steveh said:

The season is defintely not over yet. Anthing can happen.


Brighton in 6th have 61 points from 40 games. That's about 1.5 points per game. It's therefore not unreasonable to assume that they will continue that form and take nine points from their last six games. So let's say they win their home games and lose their away games. That would mean they would go into the last game of the season with 67 points.


If we win our three home games and take a point at Bolton then we go into the last game of the season with 65 ponts and still with a chance of going up.


That's just one example. There are thousands of combinations. Don't give up yet.


Keep the faith.

nikeboro said:

Of course, Mr Average is correct. A very sensible and well-reasoned case. And I'm livid about it.


Call yourself a fan? Here I am, gnashing teeth and foaming at the mouth (not easy at the same time) and you're being all mature and calm. Damn it man, it's a betrayal of football supporting heritage.


Like Ian Gill, I've followed the Boro from Holliday to Haliday and been frustrated and furious for most of that 50 years. If people are going to expect me to do deep breathing and be level-headed instead of opening an artery, then I'll go and support Di Canio. It's grown-ups like you wot are taking all the fun out of football.


All joking aside, you're absolutely right of course. It's just doesn't work for me.

Mythbuster said:

Paulista Park wrote:


1. “Boro have the makings of a very good team indeed.”


2. “I love the way the Boro play.”


I didn't think these two out-of-context “quotes” would convince anyone, but Jarkko seeems to have swallowed the bait. So let's have a closer look.


The first comes from a seemingly inebriated Birmingham journalist. The article says very little about the Wolves game and a lot about chocolate. Not worth reading, unless you like chocolate.


A more sober report from the Wolverhampton Express and Star said: “Wolves were playing against a Tony Mowbray team and that meant an afternoon of ridiculously open football which was lapped up by the galleries. That both teams looked capable of scoring and conceding almost within the same instant made for great fun but the realists will know more gruelling battles lie ahead”.


Not exactly praising the Boro, is it?


The second comes from an opposition manager trying to line up his excuses before and after his side’s failure to win a game. Nothing wrong with that. It’s par for the course. But you shouldn’t take it too seriously.


Tony says similar things about the opposition. Watford “are probably as good as anybody in this league”. Ipswich “are a decent side and have got a potent threat” etc. Darren Ferguson didn’t actually say what you claim, anyway. He said: “Middlesbrough are a good side. They play football the right way”. You could probably replace the word Middlesbrough by Huddersfield and get his pre-match interview for Saturday.


Nice try, but you’ll have to do a lot better to persuade the doubters that our erratic team is universally admired throughout the Championship.


**AV writes: I see the post-match interviews in the press room home and away and exchange superficial chit-chat with opposition journos every week and can honestly say that it if not the norm it is certainly common for both to include voluntary praise for Boro's style and approach.


Of course that could often be because they have won. It could also be because most other weeks they have faced attritional hoofball grind. Or it could be that, genuinely, they are pleased to see a team try to pass and retain possession.

Smogonthetyne now in the boardroom said:

Dear Boro,


Recently, and maybe for a bit longer, being a boro has been a bit of chore. I'm sure you feel the same, especially on that trudge away from the Riverside. Well you are not alone. I feel it, you feel it, our chairman and manager feel it.


I was lucky enough to spend some time with Steve Gibson tonight and what a thoroughly enjoyable experience. A very honest chairman gave full and frank answers to a range if questions.


But I left excited about our futures and it's been a while since that happened. There will be sone interesting developments in the coming weeks. Keep the faith. We have a Boro fan as a chairman and a boro fan as manager.


'he's going nowhere!'


With tony Mowbray were going up!!!

Andy R said:

I second Smogs post at 9.04pm.


There is a lot to be proud of, and a much to be hopeful about.


Well worth the 240 mile round trip. I haven't thought that too often lately.


Forever Dormo said:

Well said, Smogs at 9.04pm.

Bob said:

It would be so funny now if we actually did qualify for the play-offs. Highly unlikely I know, and yes, I know I will be considered deluded for describing it thus, but AV's right...the mathematics of the situation means a few spawny wins at the right time could still get us there.


Some people wouldn't know what to do. Would they be delighted and excited at the prospect, or feel cheated that their version of doom and gloom hadn't been correct?

Ian Gill said:

Bob -


It is the hope that does it.


I think we will all be delighted if we spawned the play offs, it is not written in the laws of football that we cant be spawny. The last time Derby went up they probably had an average under one shot on target. Lots of own goals and spawny ref decisions.


I wouldnt care if we went up and came back down because of the benefit to finances of the club.


Now something else to smile about - Taylor and the pen last night. His antics pretending a sensitive part had touched the ball brought tears to my eyes, totally of laughter.


For once in my life I am going to stick up for Platini and the goal line assistants. For once they worked.


I am going to be Mr Sensible until tomorrow when my wife will lock me away next to the computer to listen to points from unexpected sources.


At Rockcliffe the balls go in to the bags. Bag one contains the formations and will be drawn by Mark Proctor, Bag two contains the players who will be pulled out by Mark Venus in position order.

Nick said:

AV, I'm sorry but you mentioned Kevin Phillips wanted 30k a week? I cannot believe that for a second. Blackpool are known for small wages and keeping to a budget so I highly doubt Phillips, who mainly worked from the bench was earning 30k a week and the same goes now at Palace. I read that we are still the third highest wage budget in the league, well if Palace and Blackpool are doling out 30k a week to their players how could that be?


I'm not trying to be ignorant or naive but it just seems like we are forever using money as an excuse. Surely 15 other championship clubs are in the same position as we are, the other eight or nine have parachute payments or a rich owner but lets be honest money doesn't guarantee anything, ask Wolves or Blackburn. League 1 has been riddled with these teams in the recent past.


Is it not possible in the summer to make our first priority a goalscorer, whether that is from the championship or league 1 and 2, just anybody who has 20 odd goals to their name for a couple of years (Ricky lambert esc at Bristol Rovers).


There were rumours (just using an example) of Kevin Davies leaving Bolton, we shouldn't go anywhere near players like that, not only will their wage demands be quite high but he doesn't score 15-20 goals. If the CV doesn't have that on it then we should look elsewhere. I'm sick of these Ishmail Miller signings where you know before they step through the door they will get you five goals.


**AV writes: That was the word when he was being touted about. Free transfer, short term deal, excellent goals record and Blackpool had Premier League parachute money to spend.


And yes, Boro do have the third or fourth biggest wage spend in the division but the problem is the bulk of it is tied up in a handful of players, none of who are delivering value for money. Most of those are out of contract in the summer and that will give the club wriggle room to invest in five or six good players in key areas. I would expect something like 10 out six in.

beeline said:

Mr Average. Lovely post.

Fulani O'Hall said:

steveh -

Would be nice to hit a good combination, as you said and never give up!!

nikeboro said:

AV said: 'that will give the club wriggle room to invest in five or six good players in key areas. I would expect something like 10 out six in.'


Wow! I had no idea. That's not wriggle room, that's significant turnover and squad rebuilding. Having recently, belatedly had it dawn on me just how bad a position we're still in (with the talk of 'rebuilding foundations'), that's cheered me up no end.


Which 10 to go? I'm assuming that number does not include the current loanees: McEachran, Miller and Ameobi. The most important departures will be the higher-paid who are at the end of their contracts: McDonald, McManus and Bailey.


Then there are those that are past their sell-by date. We know Arca's time is up and I'd add Parnably and Dyer. For my money, neither Zemmama not Ledesma has made the grade and probably are not worth retaining even as squad players because they will block places for youngsters.


If we have half-a-dozen better quality players to come in, then the spine of the team needs to be addressed. With Scotty and Bailey gone and replaced with the much-needed reliable goalscorer and defensive MF, what about central defence? We probably need two new CB regulars. I think Bikey has done a job but either drops down the pecking order or is released. Woody's fitness prevents him from being even close to a regular so would he be preprared to be third choice?


Finally, if there is another to go then it should be either Haroun or possibly a youngster who has fallen short.


Powmill said:

Peasepud...LOL

paul bell said:

Well I am astounded.After the 0-0 draw with Peterborough,i would have thought Mowbray would have been sacked,or he would have had the decency to resign but he is still at the club.


Only 2 wins in 2013. It's a disgrace. How can a club capiltulate in such a quick time? Must be big problems at the club. Forget about promotion, next season as well.If he is still in charge


i agree with a few other comments ,the cub will be relegated. Let's face it, if the club is not promoted this season,the crowds will be down to 10-11 thousand next season and in a 35000 capacity it will be like a morgue. I am sure it is now,as Boro fans must be the least fanatical fans in the country,the Riverside is boring,no atmosphere.


Plus you need money now,even in this division and if Gibson hasn't got it i even think the club will eventually go out of business. Gibson will not keep pumping money into a failing club,with poor support.The future I think is bleak and while he is still manager,people who live away from Teesside will never return. Believe me you need those fans ti retun ,to fill the stadium.Forecast for today Hull 3-Boro 0


**AV writes: Mowbray won't be sacked because he has been central to a project to rebuild the entire structure of the club that is halfway through. Everyone from the top down is disappointed at the way the season has stuttered and drifted but equally, everyone belives the work behind the scenes will bear fruit next season..

Vic wearmouth said:

I have not said a word against Tony Mowbray since his appointment which heralded a new beginning and all went fine at first.


We seem to be like a overhyped film: promising much but failing to live up to the hype. It is time for something drastic to happen.


As much as many people regard Steve Gibson as a great saviour of the club, the parachute payments have dried up, and all Mogga has been doing is getting rid of his best players, "to cut the wage bill".


It is far too easy to turn the knives on someone who has done his best, but has seen his assets go and replaced with loan signings and crocks like Woodgate.
Put the world's best manager in charge, and you wouldn't get much difference in the outcome.


I compared Boro's 16 league matches in 2013 with the bottom club Bristol City who have:


Won 3 more
Drawn 1 more
Lost 4 less
Scored 6 more
Conceded 11 less
Points 10 more
Clean sheets 2 more
Failed to score 2 less


This is a direct comparison with a team who are currently bottom of the Championship and seven points behind 23rd team Peterborough.


I am sure that some Arab or Russian mafia boss may be interested in pouring a few million into his new plaything. Steve can retire and say that he did his very best.
For once, Mogga will be able to get some decent players and let the crowd bask in a whole new world instead of worrying about the cost of players salaries.


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