December 2007 Archives
NEW YEAR, new era of openness, communication and engagement? All the signs are that after several aloof years of damaging ivory tower estrangement, Boro may be inching towards a new healthier and more productive relationship with their supporters. And about time too.
Prompted by the inescapable visible impact of the spreading red desert of empty seats the club appear to be now facing up to a key question that could yet determine the future of "the Riverside Revolution": how did the club fail to cash the PR blank cheque after Cardiff and Eindhoven? How could the long awaited, totally unprecedented and undoubtedly glorious high points of a long Golden Age be followed by such a profound crisis of faith and the mass desertion of so many vocally disenchanted Red Bookers? And how can the tide be turned?
The latest move towards a post Fordy Glasnost is the news that Boro are to hold a fans' vote on the possible return of the White Band, a exercise in consumer democracy that is revealed today exclusively in the steam driver paper ink and paper format Evening Gazette.
BATTLING BIRMINGHAM gave Boro the blues and clawed over them and up towards safety by showing a more ruthless streak in front of goal. And therein lies the problem. Boro had the bulk of posession against Brum and 16 shots but bar a second half piledriver from Tuncay that brought a good one handed save never really looked a threat.
It was the same story against West Ham when Boro created enough going forward to win comfortably yet somehow contrived to lose because the visitors - who had before won at the Riverside - had a striker who knew where the goal was.
The catestrophic lack of a cutting edge threatens to drag Boro down. A team now firmly entrenched in the relegation zone is in desperate need of firepower if it is to escape - especially if they can't grind out crucial points by keeping clean sheets.
THE IMPORTANCE of the win over Derby can't be overstated. It was psychologically and politically important to keep the dark forces of "typical Boro" at bay by ensuring victory so as not to squander the either the points or the goodwill gained by the inspirational win over Arsenal.
Nothing could have been more calculated to kill off the stirrings of a spiritual revival at the Riverside than to follow a galvanising victory over the top of the table by slumping to defeat to the team at the bottom. That nightmare scenario would have declared open season for the cynics and thrown the club back into crisis so, it may not have been pretty, but job done.
Now we roll straight on to the next "season defining game" against West Ham with exactly the same high stakes. All the teams below us are facing a string of Christmas crunch six pointers so there will be a lot of points up for grabs immediately below us. We can't afford to slip up now or we will be back in the brown stuff and all the good work will go to waste.
BORO'S beautiful win ugly 1-0 victory at Pride Park has eased relegation fears and bought some much needed breathing space while some of the key elements of the system now looking to be working in harmony.
I'll write something about Derby - the goal, the cross, the handball that wasn't and the one that was, the crowd, George Boateng's bizarre drop to his knees to control a low ball with his chest -later. But for now over to you. Are things looking up for Boro? What do we need over a tough Christmas programme to pull away from the strugglers? Is Tuncay the new Juninho? The new Tevez? Has David Wheater secured his place ahead of Huth? Have you seen a better goal this season? What do you think?
NOW THEN! In a perfect moment of art-imitating-life advertising synergy David Wheater would have added the word "gadge" to his hook-line or invited season ticket holders round his Mam's for a parmo. That would have landed his media message perfectly on the demographic button. Even without that though it is the club's most overt identification with the local accent since Phil Stamp's cameo on the 1997 FA Cup final record. Swear down.
THE MEDIA consensus was that relegation bound Boro were going to get battered by an imperious Arsenal who wouldn't be muscled out of victory in the far North a second time in a week. But what do they know? The real cognescenti were the ones waving their betting slips at the end, the few Riverside regulars who threw the compelling logic aside and gambled on Boro's historic perversity.
Boro to win... 11-2; Boro to win 2-1... 25-1; Downing first scorer and Boro to win 2-1... 225-1. Result. And everyone who put their money where my doubt was deserves the kudos that goes with queuing at the payout window. I was sat with a coupon that had a quid on Boro to win 3-0 at 100-1 in my pocket at the insistence of my wife. How we laughed. No chance I sneered. It was more ritual dance than conviction. Yet after the second went in she never stopped texting with a mixture of gloating at facing down the form book to call it right and anxiety that they had eased up and were showboating. Stop fannying about and get the ball forward - there's money riding on this!
IS IT TIME for some tough decisions at cash-strapped Boro? With January looming and the smoke signals from Hurworth suggesting there is very little in the transfer kitty, Boro may well be forced to sell before they can buy.
IT IS now three months since a win. Three months! The last time Boro tasted victory was the polished 2-0 home win over Birmingham on September 1st.
Since then the whole barren expanse of September, October and November - the spell when seasons are shaped - has passed by empty handed. Six defeats, three draws.... three poxy points from a possible 27. Goals against 17, goals for a miserable five. Not even a travesty of justice spawny win snatched with a scrambled stoppage goal bouncing in off someone's arse.
A good 44 minutes here, a decent hour there and the odd gutsy draw do not fortify fans for the coming harsh winter. We need a win....NOW. It is time for the players to deliver and show they have the zest, steel, hunger and fierce competitive edge to take something whether or not they are the better team through sheer will to win. It is time to earn those wages, time to justify the hype, to stop feeling sorry for themselves and to prove they are worthy to wear the shirt. No more excuses.... it is time to deliver.