September 2008 Archives
IS 100 GAMES too soon to judge on Gareth Southgate? It is not completely unknown for some Boro fans to take a whole 100 seconds to make an assessment of a player but the evolution of an entire philosophy, the creation of a balanced unit and the ability to get all the parts working in harmony is a different issue. For one thing, at least there is the possibility that some people may change their mind.
Gareth Southgate has just clocked up his century of games in charge but his team is still a work in progress. It has taken him two summers to clear the deadwood, trim the wagebill and reallocate the resources to rebuild his squad and get in the players that suit the high-tempo creative style he wants. Until we see that team really tested it would not be fair to judge.
That said, we are rapidly approaching 'make your mind up time.'
A FORTNIGHT ago the news had just broken that Gareth Southgate had been handed the manager of the month gong, Boro were celebrating their best start in the Premiership for nine years and there was some awkward shuffling at the unaccustomed media love-in. Now it is scapegoat city.
YOU'VE got to take your chances. It is no good creating six or eight good opportunities a game with crisp, incisive, flowing football if you don't take one or two of them - especially if the other lot create just two or three but score them... which is starting to become a very bad habit away from home.
Losing to Sunderland hurts; not just because it is a derby with all the parochial baggage of dented pride now thrown angrily in a heap in the corner where the dog is cowering, but also because they are exactly the kind of limited but industrious mid-table team that the new-look enterprising Boro were supposed to be able to pass their way through, to patiently pick apart with pace and guile, exactly the kind of team they were now supposed to be able to beat and leave burnt out behind us on the road to top half glory. That Boro have failed must be a massive reality check.
IS THE Sunderland game a derby? Only if we win.
A victory either way will prompt metaphorical jubilant hand-gestures from an aural open topped bus parade on the Three Legends on one side and furiously feigned indifference on the other. If either team take the three points it will spark either bouts of gleeful triumphalism or a series of history and geography lessons proving conclusively the result is irrelevant. We all know the script; the scoreline just determines who plays which role.
WELL there was an air of inevitability about that wasn't there?
Having been slipped the black spot of the Manager of the Month award didn't help - we have enough problems without having to shoulder the burden of history and superstition. More importantly the injuries to Tuncay and Shawky disrupted the continuity of early fluid displays and enforced some changes from the team that has started the season so well while Downing played with his chin on the floor after another demoralising outing as England scapegoat. Throw in the unforced change of Riggott for Wheater and even with a goal start Boro were always going to faced a battle against a fired-up Pompey looking to make up lost ground.
POOR ADAM Johnson is getting some stick on the message boards. "Is he moaning again? Why doesn't he stop whingeing and just leg it if he isn't happy?" Well, to be fair I don't think he moaning again. Yes, there are some quotes floating around cyber-space's network of salvage sites but they appear to be stripped down, reconditioned, polished and recycled versions of things that he said a fortnight ago rather than a serial strop .
TYNE Tees rang and asked if someone from the Gazette could do an interview on the soap opera shennanigans at Sid James' and in the interest of spreading brand awareness of what is now, after all, a multi-platform 24 hour operation (and the chance to score a few easy banter points) I agreed.
So, 6pm, tonight then. Sky Plus it. If you missed it or it was edited down to show 20 seconds of cynical gloating (although I doubt they'd need that as they had already done a vox pop in Sunderland) here are the high-lights of what I said:
THE FORMER agent of Boro star Stewart Downing has been arrested by fraud squad officers, police confirmed today. It is understood the arrest of Ian Elliott follows a complaint by Downing himself regarding the way his financial affairs have been handled.
HERE we go again with a 24 hour rolling news style service to take you right through to panic o'clock. And by 24 hour rolling news I mean passing on unsubstantiated tittle-tattle on a loop and occasionally offering some real concrete developments to be relayed on the official yellow scrolling ticker-tape.
So get the beers in the fridge (we'll practice downing them in one Ashley style when it gets boring) get the Parmoteria's number handy for later on and let's go... but don't expect much action from Boro. I know we like to usually take it right up to midnight and beyond but this one looks set to be quiet. We have quizzed Gareth repeatedly and at length and he insists straight-faced he is not doing business and unfortunately the NUJ code of conduct forbids us from trussing him up and administering a dose of CIA truth drug sodium pentathol although water-boarding is considered acceptable if deemed in the public interest.
But here's a good rumour to start you off........