May 2006 Archives
IS STEVE Gibson planning to add an Anfield style 'bootroom' to Hurworth? Is it the main man's grand vision to lay down the foundations of a coaching culture that can foster a golden age of sustained success? Are we to cultivate our own leaders and managers as well as our own players? Certainly that appears to be the picture emerging from the smoke that surrounds Boro's dug-out dynamo recruitment drive.
There has been no public comment on the managerial position from the club at all but while that might fuel the rumour mill and send the jumpier element of the crowd into a Pete From Big Brother style bout of emotional Tourettes, the pieces that have come to light make the outlines of an interesting picture.
It seems that Gibson is being very specific about the criteria his prospective manager must meet and is setting down strict structural parameters that many established bosses may find it hard to work within. That is a high risk strategy - but the potential rewards if the gamble comes off could transform the club.
GAMBLE: financial speculation, a calculated risk on a game on chance, a wager on one of several possible outcomes.
Now, I like a daft quid on the correct score or the Grand National as much as the next man (unless the next man happens to be Paul Merson) but I don't take it too seriously. I wouldn't for instance let the way the bookies frame their odds influence my own judgement on any major issues of the day.
But it seems plenty of Boro fans are getting overly excited by the fluctuations in the betting market and are starting to confuse the troughs and peaks in a would-be manager's price at the bookies with a real prospect of them becoming the new boss. Some may even think that at a tasty 12-1 there is a realistic prospect of Bernie Slaven taking the job.
RUMOURS always start when someone insists they have had a text off their cousin who insists they have seen Roberto Carlos or David Putton at Teesside Airport, the Tontine or Crathorne Hall. How we laugh. As if.
But what about when someone on the sports desk swears down dead they have seen a top Boro target driving past Coulby Newham? What if the sighting flies in the face of logic and all the available evidence? What if the club deny any possibility? Do we still write it ? Because that is the dilemma today at the Gazette.
IT IS COMMON practice in the media to do retreads of old stories and dress them up as brand spanking new exclusives so let's get a bit more mileage out of my musings on McClaren, spin and new media issues touched on yesterday and a few of the barbed comments in reply.
First let me make it clear that the point of 'Cautious Mac Shuts Up Shop For Scribes' was to explain, not complain. The Gazette Sports Massive get asked constantly about things that were said or weren't said by the club and why they - and we - don't just "tell the truth."
But truth is relative. One man's greatest manager ever is another man's toothsome numpty. And for many, unless the opinions in the press reflect exactly their own ingrained perspective then they are clearly either part of a systematic sycophantic snowjob or part of a dark conspiracy to unseat the manager.
AMID the 'England Go Large With Big Mac' frenzy that neatly destablised Boro UEFA Cup preparations the Gazette Sports desk was bombarded with pleading phone calls from the likes of Radio Five Live, Sky Sports and TalkSport, or Radio White Van Man, as I like to call it. They all wanted one of us to do their job for them and fill loads of airtime with views and analysis of Steve McClaren's time at Boro and what England could expect with Mac in charge.
Generally I refuse point blank to assist them, especially Radio WVM, a organisation assembled from ratings chasing second divisions shock jocks and which seems to have in it's charter a clause that insists any mention of Boro must be inserted into a script constructed entirely by rummaging around Alan Brazil's big bag of derogatory cliches.
But one of them, while so far wide of the mark as to put a six yard sitter out for a throw, inadvertantly touched on a very important dimension of our everyday working practice with a poorly researched question. "So, Steve is leaving," he said. "I bet all you boys in the local press are gutted aren't you?" Er ... how long have you got?
IT GOES against the grain and it feels alien and dirty but I am backing Leeds in the play-offs.
No, I haven't developed a yearning to show solidarity with the lads from the North Midlands or forgiven them for leaving Juninho sobbing on the Elland Road turf. I just want the comedy £1.8m payment for Micheal Ricketts to be triggered.
Yes, wonder of wonders, the financially challenged idiots who ran Leeds into the ground not only agreed to take old Lardy in part-exchange for Mark Viduka but they also agreed a string of ludicrious clauses that could land Boro a massive windfall if United beat mighty Watford at Cardiff.
BORO NOSTALGIA overload! The Gazette library is the single biggest depository of old images of the Boro in the known universe. Back in the Dark Ages before football's Year Zero and the wall-to-wall coverage we now take for granted, the Gazette were the only organisation that bothered to turn up week in week out to take pictures of all the players and scenes at Ayresome Park. It is a fantastic chronicle of the club's history.
Just about every striking old picture you can ever remember seeing of Mannion, Hardwick, Clough, Hickton, Souness, Maddren, Jankovic and Paul Sugrue are all Gazette images. The padlocks on the gates, Bernie up on the fence, Mogga leading the lads out at Wembley, Juninho sobbing on the turf at Elland Road... all amazing Gazette pictures. As are many of the photos that pop up in the programme and club publications like Doom To Boom and almost all of the images out there skipping through copyright law in cyberspace.
And I have just spent a fascinating week lingering lovingly over thousands of them. Big piles of brilliant, unique photographs that are crucially important artifacts and revealing snapshots of our cultural history, many of them never even published. And soon YOU are going to get a chance to see some of them too.
NOW the dust has settled it is time to think the unthinkable when it comes to season tickets and big match priority... it is time to scrap the glamour game monopoly of the S and T patron prefix.
And the rest of the letters must go too. It is time to move to a comprehensive and transparent loyalty points system that rewards season ticket holders but allows the younger home and away diehards with less years on the clock the chance to work their way to the front of the queue.
SEVILLA beat Real Madrid 4-3 tonight but were edged out of a Champions League place because Osasuna won as well. I was gutted for them, the team and the fans. That can't be right.
Sevilla battered Boro four nowt in the UEFA Cup final. They ripped away our Eindhoven dream, stole our destiny, humiliated us on the biggest stage and handed our rivals a supersize stick to beat us with. We should hate them with a passion. We should spit at the very mention of their name. We should brainwash our children into despising them, locking them into a generational spiral of irrational hostility. We should never eat another orange again.
But in fact I watched the game on the box and was urging on the players who ripped us apart. How does that work?
SO we jump off a head spinning season and straight onto the managerial merry-go-round. It's definitely Martin O'Neill. It's El Tel. It's a Mogga and Bruce dream team. It's Ray Winstone. Well, he's better than David O'Leary
Boro are at a crossroads. With the club poised for a great leap forward, a mouth-watering array of young talent coming through and the vast capital of goodwill garnered in the UEFA Cup win just willing to be ignited, this appointment is crucial to the future of the club.
Get it right, as Gibbo did with Bryan Robson, the big name manager needed to attract the big name players that kick-started the Riverside Revolution and lauched a dream, and Boro can aim at the stars.
But get it wrong and the entire project could fizzle out and stagnate. Or worse.