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Battered Boro Left Shell-Shocked

Posted by on October 18, 2008 4:25 PM | 

"HUMILIATED.... humbled.... like rabbits in the headlights.... we lacked belief... never really got at them... everything that could go wrong did go wrong... our weaknesses exposed live on national television... an horrendous day... their class exposed us.... we were poor and there are no excuses... we weren't in the same league as them today... they have injuries but so did we only the people they can bring in and the people we can there is no comparison... it's a young team and it showed because they couldn't do anything to change what was happening on the pitch... a massive gulf in class... we were poor, we know that.... "

That's the edited highlights of the Gareth Southgate post-match press conference after Boro were taken apart by Chelsea. He said much the same to the cameras. To be fair, there is not much you can add other than say the squad is so thin that it left very few options, tactically or in selections... but we knew that at the start of the season and it was always going to come home to roost at some point.

We started with a young lad drafted in to play out of position at right-back because injuries and suspensions meant our first choice emergency cover there - jet-lag Wheater - was needed elsewhere... then a teenager had to come in to make his debut in that debacle to cover there later on.

We had Johnson starting on the right when we have been told for weeks that Aliadiere and Downing were almost unrivalled as wingers in the league, with the Frenchman moved alongside Mido and the £12.7m record buy sat morosely on the bench, alongside Digard, probably the only midfield spark. Should it have been a five across the middle? And whatever the shape shouldn't Boro have got in their faces?

The game was lost in the first five minutes but there seemed little will or ability to even manage a damage limitation operation. It puts wobbling Boro in a vulnerable position with the home form disintegrating, the flowing football and flurries of chances a fast fading memory and some hard games coming up. How big a result does the smash and grab and Wigan feel now?

Comments (127)

Ian Gill wrote...

Plenty of time to contemplate the match.

One has a sneaking suspicion that the ever honest Gate may have talked the players out of belief.

I missed the match because of a promise to take my daughter off for the day on a weekend back from UNI. Listened to the early part and it sounded like a cavalry charge at the Boro goal and that was just those in red shirts!

Watched the recording of the match and the only time we showed any pace was when I fast forwarded the tape.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | October 18, 2008 6:53 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

Plenty of time to contemplate the match.

One has a sneaking suspicion that the ever honest Gate may have talked the players out of belief.

I missed the match because of a promise to take my daughter off for the day on a weekend back from UNI. Listened to the early part and it sounded like a cavalry charge at the Boro goal and that was just those in red shirts!

Watched the recording of the match and the only time we showed any pace was when I fast forwarded the tape.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | October 18, 2008 6:54 PM

deka wrote...

Well... no heart... no passion... no tactics or managerial nous... no good Gareth, you have had three years and learned nothing. Even the back to basics excuse has not worked. Time for a change I think.

It's a good job Chelsea had a lot of injuries otherwise I think we might have lost by eight or nine goals... shades of Robbo's era returning...not good enough...oh dear!!!

Posted by: deka  | October 18, 2008 6:59 PM

Richard wrote...

Gareth Southgate may not be many things, but he’s honest!

Boro were outplayed, out-thought, out-skilled, out everything.

I’ve never seen a poorer performance by a Boro squad at home against one of the top four in any season of the last 10.

It was dire. Boro were dire.

Chelsea showed us how it ought to be done. Possession football at its very best. Accurate passing. Little triangular movements. Choice of targets. One touch football. Constant economical movement. Always looking for space to put the ball into. Knowing that an attacking colleague would be there to fill it.

On that last point, the only piece of genuine class that Boro demonstrated all afternoon was when Adam Johnson left his marker for dead in the first half and played the most delicious and tempting ball into EXACTLY the right place for an oncoming Boro attacked to strike it. Nobody came! Nobody stayed back to run onto it. They were all in a huddle in the centre, had gone far post or stayed back and not moved forward to support the attack. Johnson picked out the best possible option and should have been able to rely on somebody to anticipate that gap appearing.

It was the one occasion in the entire match we had Chelsea on the back foot and we blew it big time. It spoke volumes of the difference in footballing intelligence between these two sides. And that’s before we compare skills and physicality. Had that been Chelsea’s chance, you could see Lampard on the end of it and you can’t help but feel that it would have been another goal.

That singular movement was the only piece of genuinely good football from Boro all afternoon. The rest was chasing shadows. Huffing and puffing and blustering to no avail. Aimless punts upfield that Terry and Co had no problems dealing with whatsoever. Ross Turnbull had no targets to pass the ball to directly when in possession. Contrast that with Cudicini who didn’t punt a single ball all match.

He put the ball into play directly to a Chelsea defender and they progressed upfield with little triangular plays with at least once player in support providing a “line of sight” passing opportunity and usually, there were several players finding space – leaving their Boro counterparts to zone-guard. Trouble was, that’s exactly what they were doing – guarding zones. And it was zones with nobody in them! Because Chelsea found the spaces that Boro weren’t guarding. And they were always making more.

When Boro actually had possession, it wasn’t for long. Chelsea closed them down so rapidly and Boro didn’t have the guile to emulate them in finding alternative spaces to run or walk into to offer alternative outlets. And when they did, their passing and understanding between each other was so poor as to beggar belief. Twice in five minutes Gary O’Neil passed the ball out of play anticipating reasonably, that Jonathon Grounds in the first instance would have been where he, Gary O’Neil, placed the ball and secondly, Stewart Downing on the other side of the pitch did exactly the same thing. On each occasion, Gary O’Neil apologised! It wasn’t his fault! He played the ball into the space that each of them ought to have been moving into but wasn’t! Boro left their brains behind in the dressing room today and it was unbelievably frustrating.

We maybe went into this match not expecting much, but we surely didn’t expect as little as we got.

The gulf between Chelsea and Boro was so vast it was depressing. Chelsea were sheer class. Boro, frankly, were third class. They didn’t deserve to be in the same division and if they continue to play like they did today, they won’t be for much longer.

Posted by: Richard  | October 18, 2008 7:38 PM

Mal Pearson wrote...

Although we had injuries that does not excuse a dreadful performance.

There was a complete lack of closing down. Before the season started Gareth should have brought in some pace at the back ,most of our defence are too slow. I do not rate Andrew Taylor at all, he is always getting caught in no mans land.He is not the only one of course, our defence were all over the place.

There have been too many performances similar to this and Gareth should only be given till Xmas to turn it around. Also the decisions to get rid of Boateng and Cattermole are looking bad at the moment. There is a distinct lack of bite in midfield and O'neil is running around like a headless chicken.

Many more tame surrenders like this and we are dead ducks.Gareth and the players should be ashamed of themselves. If there needs to be a change at the top I hope Mr Gibson brings in some experience, something he has never done before. If not I hope he stands down himself. My own opinion and those of my pals seems to be a complete change as the club is stagnating.

Posted by: Mal Pearson  | October 18, 2008 7:47 PM

Andy, Oslo wrote...

Afraid to say the chickens are firmly in the coop after our U14s took on the might of Chelsea. We can say that we can't compete with Abramovich's billions, and that is patently true, but the really depressing factor in this was the inevitability of it all, summed up beautifully by Jamie Redknapp in his pre-match estimation of the Boro.

'Middlesbrough just need to keep plodding on' says son of 'arry, quickly returning to revise the word 'plodding', in an attempt to spare the watching Boro faithful - he's an honourable chap after all.

The painful truth is that he was right the first time. Plodding is about the best we can expect from this current Boro squad, thinner on the ground than my tonsure.

Without Tuncay there is barely a jot of creativity. Without Mido today, we could have been in even deeper trouble much earlier. Otherwise, our much trumpeted Academy lads were completely and utterly out of their depth. Quite what Southgate thinks he is going to glean from conversations with them on Monday I don't know. 'I didn't know what to do Gaffer, I thought I could play football' might be the best he could expect.

For their part, Chelsea are of course a team (or two teams) of expensive superstars and perhaps today was not, as the commentator speculated, a good time to play them; rather, a rather bad time to play them as some of their second team set out to impress Big Phil.

This chastening experience won't happen to Boro every week by any means and I'm sure Gareth will bring the best out of some the boys who suffered so today. But I go back to the inevitability of all this. It is depressing to think now that unless Chelsea and their ilk suffer a complete aberration or perhaps a severe bout of dysentery, there seems to be absolutely nothing teams like Boro could do to win a game against them. But that's today, next week will be different...hopefully....

Posted by: Andy, Oslo  | October 18, 2008 8:14 PM

robin mitton wrote...


As I gaze out towards the path the (high class as yet) ramshackle caravan driven by Steve Gibson is being drawn along...I am left with a singular thought: GORMLESS NUMPTYS!

As long as the club is owned by only one person thus will decline accelerate.

I hope to God I can find a willing investor within the next year or so or we'll be following the stock market's steep decline.

Good job Keith Lamb good job...

Robin Mitton

Posted by: robin mitton  | October 18, 2008 9:29 PM

steve h wrote...

"no good Gareth, you have had three years and learned nothing. Even the back to basics excuse has not worked. Time for a change I think."

"There have been too many performances similar to this and Gareth should only be given till Xmas to turn it around."

Is this the same Gareth that won manager of the month recently?

So Chelsea are better than us...hardly a surprise is it? Their left back is England's left back. His replacement for England is also his replacement for Chelsea. That's just one example. You could go through the whole team like that. We are not in their league. We are still good enough to finish top half though.

Posted by: steve h  | October 18, 2008 10:48 PM

Neil M wrote...

Alarm bells ringing for me now. That shapeless, spineless surrender had relegation written all over it.

I'm not a whinger. I don't expect top half and I don't mind losing (over the years I've had plenty of practice) but I expect passion, effort and a bit of fight and we didn't have that today.

We have to face some unpleasant truths that add up to this team being in serious trouble:

1) our squad is too thin and too weak. The first XI is good but two or three injuries/ suspensions (which is the norm) and we are deep in trouble. We can't rely on kids to come off the bench and bail us out.

2) some big players are not performing. Downing is flat, Wheater is suffering second season syndrome and Alves is starting to look like Maccarone

3) the summer spending was pointless. Digard looks the best of a bad bunch in midfeild but isn't getting a start and Emnes has slipped off the radar.

4) Southgate can't change the game with his substitutions. We haven;t got the quality on the bench and he hasn't got the nouse to change the tactics enough to have any impact at all.

5) we haven't got any money. The net deficit in spending in the summer and the trimming of the wage bill and the sale of Luke Young because it was 'a good deal' have been admitted. That means we will struggle to solve the problems in January.

6) form has collapsed. After a good start when we played well and created a lot of chances we have drifted badly. Four defeats in five. Three very poor displays in the last four. If it wasn't for that late goal at Wigan we would be deep in trouble now.

7) January won't be kind to us. Mido will be away, who knows maybe Downing too. And who will come in? Harper?

8) Unless Tuncay comes back and kick-starts the season, Downing and Wheater remember they are international class, unless Alves remembers he is a "goal machine" we haven't got a hope in hell of a top half finish and even safety will be a big ask.

9) southgate is in danger of losing the fans. In fact it may be too late. The next three games will decide that.

Posted by: Neil M  | October 19, 2008 12:43 AM

BoroPhil wrote...

It was humiliating, and circumstances did conspire against us somewhat, but Gareth did not help himself with a baffling team selection.

Why is our £12m striker sitting on the bench against Chelsea? Now, I know we don't see what goes on in training, but surely these are the games he has to play in or what is the point in him being here?

Ultimately though, we did not expect anything from this game and we didn't get anything. Forget about it, move on, and let's look to the Blackburn game.

Posted by: BoroPhil  | October 19, 2008 1:07 AM

mark_76 wrote...

Was anyone seriously hoping to win this game? Chelsea are a great side. They have at least 3 excellent options in each position. Im trying to think even in the Big Four or Europe who can compete with the spending power and squad of Chelsea.

We were on the wrong end of very fluid future league and european champions day.

However 5-0l hurts home or away, no one wants us to look like mugs. I was hoping for just 2-0. Yes we didnt compete and it exposed our thin squad. Pogi not being there didnt help. But I know for certain we will not be the only team took to the cleaners by Chelsea this season.

Knee jerk reaction is understandable after a mauling like that. But we are not as bad as the boo boys claim and not as good as the foam hands claim we are. We are somewhere in between. Let us remember what our goal was this season mid table safety top ten finish dreamland. We are still on course for that. Mid table that is.

Mal I understand your frustration but the Gibson out thing??? I cant get my head around. Explain the alternative: some fat cockney milking the club then leaving with a nice profit, and no stability? Or an Icelandic banker who is now broke leaving us with no transfer funds? Maybe a Formula one boss who has promised lots and delivered nothing? Maybe get a new experienced Spanish coach in who has won the UEFA Cup but will make sure that sell our best players in the bottom 3?

Dont mean to have a go Mal, but our club isn't stagnating. We fight above our weight. and Gibson is the best thing thats happened to this club.

You can tell how sucessful he is by the expectation we have now as a Boro fans
Thats why we are so gutted about yesterday. Look at the stability of our club and look at Southampton, Sheff Wed, Leeds. I know what side my bread is buttered and whose butter'd it these last 15 odd years

Posted by: mark_76  | October 19, 2008 2:21 AM

Phil Bruce wrote...

Love it, get beat off the best team in the league - a team that did the same thing to Villa the other week but just couldnt put the ball away - and people get on even Gibsons back!!

Come on, what do you want like, an investor from down South putting a few quid into the club and tells us he's going to take us forward? Im sure Ive heard that somewhere before not far form the Riverside!!

Today we were missing experience from the side and it showed, I will admit i think GS got it wrong today but i dont think he expected such little fight from his players. A manager can get his players fired up as much as he wants if they dont show that on the field what is he to do??!!

Anyway please give him a chance get off his back and lets see where we are at the end of October, if we are still playing like we did today thats the last you will hear from me!

Posted by: Phil Bruce  | October 19, 2008 3:34 AM

tonyblack wrote...

An utterly inept performance against an utterly sublime Chelsea display.

Even on our best day I think we would have lost, but that's not the point.

We didn't get at them, we didn't close them down with any sense of urgency and we didn't show any kind of fighting spirit. These things for me are the biggest let down.

Why is it Vic that one week you write a column about the " Teesside Steel " and the a couple of weeks down the line it just doesn't get off the bus?

What is it Vic, talent aside, that effects this team to such an extent where they just don't seem to want to even try and have a go?

Yes, we are Middlesbrough and not one of the top four and so it's normal that we can't always win and that a win against the bigger clubs is a rarity and that's OK. But why is it that, talent aside, our will to try just seems to come and go like a British summer?

You can excuse the fact that we are not Cheslsea and that we have a limited budget and a young team who will make mistakes and again that's to be expected and again that's fine. But what is totally and utterly inexcusable however is the fact that we didn't give 110% for 110% of the game. We just didn't look like we were up for it at all which is baffling to say the least, just like our FA Cup exit last season.

Can this team just not handle the pressure ?

Does this team just lack the man management and the team motivational techniques?

Whatever people think of GS and Co, for me the fact of the matter is that a more established and well respected manager would have done better, and that for me remains the key issue against GS and his team and why we are always in this position.

Look at England under Capello. The WGAS have gone, the stupid nick names have gone, the mobile phones have gone, the agents have gone, the friends of friends have gone and the discipline is in.

Perhaps this is at the root of our in and out ability to try and have a go no matter what. Again, I just say, " have a go " as I am not saying or talking about skill and talent. I've seen more desire, more heart, and more self pride in many of the lower league teams.

Perhaps playing at a lower level and wondering how you will survive and feed the family post football is the what differs.

A bad day at the office all round and I think the quicker we put this behind us the better as the next 5 weeks will be the ones that define if we are to look up or look down for the rest of the season.

The only good thing about a result like this is that GS will be so mad after such a poor poor display and either react and once and for all impose himself on these players where it's his way or the highway, Capello style, or he will get the boot.

The first option is what we all want. I want it as well. All I don't want is this drifting along where we end up going no where fast.

Eindhoven is what we want again. It may not come around for a long, long time and that's the way it is. But what people demand at the very least is to see that there is " hope " of at least starting out on that road every now and then.

All is not lost Gareth as the table clearly shows. But it's now or never for you. We all know you've got the passion and the pride and that you were always a 110 percenter and a born winner when you played. So if you want time to learn then you've got to at least be able to transmit what you had to those who you manage and train.

If you can't at least do this then I can't see why you should even be given a chance, do you?


Posted by: tonyblack  | October 19, 2008 10:08 AM

Beamish Boro wrote...

Proof that Gibson must sell up to a billionaire and get rid of the hapless Gareth Southgate was evident or all to see after yesterdays feeble showing.

Posted by: Beamish Boro  | October 19, 2008 10:36 AM

stockton red wrote...

I've had the time to calm down [a bit] before writing this. Nobody minds losing but having your nose rubbed in it is hard to take. All the papers are rattling on about Chelsea's absentees.The problem is that they have top class replacements in every position that would walk into our team not a bunch of academy kids.

Southgate has to take responsibility in that

1. His team selection was wrong - Johnson and Grounds on the right? This is a joke

2.His gameplan was wrong. Everybody knows Chelsea play with one forward and 5 in midfield. He starts of 4-4-2 with O'Neill and Shawky against Lampard Mikel and Belletti. Outnumbered and outpassed we never had a chance of getting a foothold. Surely he had to match up with them and play a third midfielder to deny them space.

3. Only 1 down at half time we still had half a chance to make a game of it.He had to make changes then not when we were 4 down. Why wasnt D igard on to try to stop them running the middle of the pitch?

I can go on and on. Why against a team with one of the smallest goalies in the league is every corner swinging away from the goal instead of into him? Why is neither he or Cooper sat in the stand in the first half so they can see the shape and pattern of what's going on rather than both being on the touchline where you get little perspective of the play? If Hoyte was injured on Thursday why wasnt our other right back recalled from Sheff Wed?

Only Mido appeared to carry any self belief onto the pitch and although I dont like to criticise individuals I cannot recall a worse pair of full backs in a Boro shirt on that display.

I'll leave it that for now except to mention that even those who had little time for Rochemback must wish he was back because he was light years in front of those playing centre midfield now.

Posted by: stockton red  | October 19, 2008 10:59 AM

Jarkko wrote...

Not a match to tell about to your grand children. GS was really embarrassed in the interview after the match. But he was honest and offered no excuses.

But this can happen in football. Remember Arsenal a few years ago. And the Boro went on to the UEFA cup final ...

So we are chocked - we the fans. But this is football and we are still in better shape than - say - Newcastle.

We may be worried but we still have a very promising team. We are not playing Chelsea every week and we were Ok just a month ago. Let's put things in perspective!

Hope we have Tuncay back at Blackburn and then we have our captain back, too. These are two senior players we really need at times like this.

Up the Boro!

Posted by: Jarkko  | October 19, 2008 11:08 AM

Richard wrote...

Gareth Southgate needs to give his head a shake - he really does.

I mean, you have Alves, Digard and Emnes all on the bench but Digard should of played instead of Shawky. Emnes should be given a chance to play in a Boro Shirt and Alves must be kicking himself. Gareth Southgate spends all that money on those players and it seems as though it is money frittered away by Middlesbrough FC.

Southgate is playing players out of position. You had Grounds at right back when he is really a left back and Johnson on the right hand side of midfield.

I don't go for square pegs in round holes. Yes, your Manchester United's etc can rotate players around but the top four are an exception.

Personally if it was me, I would throw the book at them all and ask them if they want their P45's handed to them.

I will be so glad when Manny Pogatetz is back.

Yes we have the likes of Tuncay, Hoyte and Huth all out but on Saturday we gave Chelsea too much respect.

In time Middlesbrough need the following:-

A decent right back, a goalkeeper and a centre half to play alongside Digard provided he is given the opportunity.

Posted by: Richard  | October 19, 2008 11:31 AM

Peakster D wrote...

Chill out fellow smogs, we were playing chelsea for heavens sake. Every one calling for GS's head, Fair enough if stoke hammering us 5-0, but how'way.

We'll get a reaction next week against Blackburn,easy peasy ha up the boro

Posted by: Peakster D  | October 19, 2008 11:48 AM

Pat Mc, Dubai wrote...

I have posted previously on the subject of playing Adam Johnson and Stew Downing in the same team. In my opinion, at this level it cannot be done, without depleting team strength, balance and drive elsewhere on the pitch. Even against an average PL team, never mind Chelsea. Two of a kind just doesn’t work.

Surely this game cried out for O’Neil, Shawky and Digard in the middle. Digard to sit in front of the back four to protect them from Lampard’s incisive runs through the middle, and to close the kind of space afforded to Belleti when he scored Chelsea’s second goal. He was in acres in of space.

Instead we were tortured through midfield where O’Neil and Shawky tried desperately to defend the territory while our two wide men…remained wide.

It appears to me that Gareth, took an opportunity to play Johnson in order to accommodate him, ultimately to keep the player happy rather than the team. Too much press in recent months suggesting “I’m off if I don’t get first team football”. It was a disastrous decision as Chelsea revelled in wide open midfield spaces as though it was a testimonial match.

I’m not suggesting for one moment that we would have held Chelsea with Digard playing from the outset but I feel we would not have been completely overrun. We played right into their hands.

One more point, would someone please have a word with Mido, our best player yesterday, and inform him that if he is to play a lone striker role, he simply cannot be seen in the left back and deep midfield positions?

His over-enthusiastic, energy sapping runs away from his rightful position, whilst admirable from a work ethic point of view, ultimately do nothing for the cause.

Posted by: Pat Mc, Dubai  | October 19, 2008 12:20 PM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

Any of the Chelski reserves would grace our team if we could afford them and they would come to the Boro.

However letting our best players go and replacing them with academy lads is risky if you want to stand a chance against the big 4.

Stockton reds comments on Rochenback are very relevant . We could have done with him inbetween Digard and O'Neil once Gate realised the 4-4-2 was no good.

To be fair I thought 4-4-2 was brave and attacking with as much pace in the team as we could afford [ financially, injury and suspension wise] going forward.

The lack of heart from a lot of players [ Cardiff revisited ] was the main problem together with left and right backs not being up to it in getting forward and starting attacks , holding the ball or defencively.

-When we had Luke Young I wanted us to buy a left back Luke Young type to shore up the defence. We could have done with Luke Young together with Hoyte as well to replace him if injury strikes, we just cant afford to do that

I didnt expect us to beat Chelsea as Scolari has them playing great this season and they will turn over other teams even if they dont help them out like we did.

If we havent got the money then we need to learn to pass in neat triangles or into space for our players to run onto and when we havent got the ball TACKLE and close players down! Does zonal marking work against intelligent skillful players?

I mentioned about the lack of depth in our squad and the daft sale of Luke Young and Rocky before a ball was kicked in anger, I just wondered how long it would be before we got exposed due to injury and suspension.

Incidentally , it was Rochemback who persuaded Alves to come and as a fellow Brazilian they had an understanding on the field and were friends off it . Now Rocky has gone Alves seems to have lost his Mojo!

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | October 19, 2008 2:35 PM

jc wrote...

I went to the pub here in Scotland to watch the game and did something I've never done before: went home at half-time.

I didn't expect us to beat Chelsea, and having the small depleted squad we do wasn't going to help. But I thought we might be able to compete, perhaps for just a 10 minute spell, and give them something to think about. Instead, all we managed was a catalogue of unforced errors.

It wasn't that we capitulated (maybe in the second half!), or that we were denied possession. In fact, we had the ball quite a lot but, frustratingly, kept passing too short, or straight into touch, or just kicked the ball towards their goal area hoping that someone in a red shirt could teleport themselves to the penalty spot. Or we kicked air.

I left the pub because I hadn't had even one microsecond of pleasure or excitement watching it, and even though it was only one-nil, it was obvious that things could only get worse.

Yes, Chelsea played well, though not as brilliantly as some would like us to believe. An Arsenal team in full flow would have put 10 past us without breaking sweat. It's hard to square our technical ineptitude with the team that were tearing apart the likes of Villa last season (albeit often not putting away our chances).

I hope the players are forced to watch that game again - maybe if they watch Chelsea enough they might learn how to pass.

Posted by: jc  | October 19, 2008 2:36 PM

Werdermouth wrote...

It was certainly a day to forget - though it was where our lack of experience from top to bottom was exposed.

We were out-numbered in midfield and played two left-side players at right-back and right-midfield - Add to that Taylor was playing his first game after injury and Wheater was looking like he needed resting - plus Downing is still out-of-sorts and Ali is not a top class striker and rather worryingly neither is Alves.

The outcome was very predictable and don't be fooled by the notion that Chelsea were fielding an understength team - as no such thing exists at Chelsea!

What puzzles me most is not that having let most of our midfield go we only bought 2 players to replace them - it's that these replacements are still not deemed ready to start games - Surely Boro should have bought at least one finished article?

The good news is that we won't play Chelsea every week and hopefully Tuncay and Pogi will be back for the next game and it's probably time Emnes got a run out and Maybe Downing needs 'resting'.

So at the moment Southgates gamble on a small squad doesn't look like it's paying off - though was he given any choice?

Perhaps the only bet worth making in Today's Premier League is 'how many games it takes for the Big 4 to occupy the top 4 places'? It's taken 8 this year and the excitement for the rest of us is once more over - Now it's 3 from 12 to avoid the drop!

And if Spurs, Newcastle and Everton get their act together we'll need start picking up points ASAP - did somebody say DON'T PANIC!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Werdermouth  | October 19, 2008 3:25 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

I must admit I thought Lawro had the likely scoreline at 2-0 but it wasnt even a capitulation, you have to turn up to capitulate. It reminded me of the unopposed rugby training we did at school.

Pre-match the talk on the boards was of getting in their faces. My view was to play Digard and Shawky and push O'Neill out right, to put Aliadiere in the hole to try and keep Mikel busy.

The injury to Hoyte was a blow, playing a square peg in Grounds was not a good idea - replacing him was sign of an error, to play a second square peg in front of him compounded the problem.

It was unforgiveable. It wasnt the cause of all our problems but it hardly contributed a to a feeling of solidity. O'Neill is hardly a dog of war but Jinky is lighter than lightweight.

What effect it has on the season is another matter. What is of concern is that we had so much money sat on the bench that Gate didnt use. We do not have the luxury of time for these players to sit and watch such a mess.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | October 19, 2008 3:42 PM

gt wrote...

chelsea 5 - joe waltons yc 0 what else can you expect,although the real joe waltons might have kept it closer,

Posted by: gt  | October 19, 2008 6:34 PM

Dave, Thornaby wrote...

Time to go Gareth this display was appalling. I always thought that to win matches you had to score goals, so why leave your record buy goal scorer on the bench?

Look at how the team ran out for the second half. THEY DIDNT RUN OUT. EVERY PLAYER WALKED ON TO THE PITCH. Not one of the 11 ran out onto the pitch. That says it all. GOOD-BYE GARETH.

Posted by: Dave, Thornaby  | October 19, 2008 7:21 PM

M. Sebastian T. wrote...

I have to object regarding the sentiments summed up by Beamish Boro "Proof that Gibson must sell up to a billionaire and get rid of the hapless Gareth Southgate ...".

If you look north to the even more hapless lot at Womblecastle on the Tyne you will see that a billionaire buyout can have its pitfalls.

Today looking south only as far as Hull, you could witness what a bunch of blokes who just play honestly in the Big Sam Alardyce mould can achieve.

Boro are a club that needs to recognise that doing okay as a middle of the table team that works hard is what is a reasonable goal, and one that fits with Teesside as a whole (good old Sunday game in the park style).

My submission is that Boro have gone wrong by not recognising that success equals being honest make up the numbers clubs like Wigan or Bolton. Chasing unrealistic dreams is the downfall of well meaning Gareth, not to mention “King Kev” and many others.

The silver lining for Boro this season is that there are a lot of underperforming teams in the premiership. Staying above three of the likes of Newcastle, Stoke, Fulham and sliding Everton and West Ham is quite achievable.

My expectation is that Boro will finish about 15th with Newcastle, Stoke and Fulham going down. Everton and Spurs will just surviving, probably after both have changed managers. Hull will finish about 12th in the end (after as is inevitable reality catches them up).

The big question for Boro, about what to do with Honest Gareth, will not get addressed until after the drop is avoided. Perhaps it is time to send Gareth to Toon and bring Big Sam to Smogville.

This is all good advice from Poolside.

Posted by: M. Sebastian T.  | October 19, 2008 7:50 PM

Forever Dormo wrote...

They were good. We weren't.

Their players break forward at speed. Ours don't.

They pass to each other, finding little triangles in the event they come across players standing in their path. Our players did't do that. Our passes very often don't find the man, and too often find touch.

They had a team of players most of whom were not necessarily first choice players, but still international class players who were all desperate to impress their manager in the hope of retaining a place in the team next week. Many of our players who had poor games know they will be picked for the next fixture because our teamlist is much more threadbare than theirs.

In short, they have a squad of players who are amongst the best, the most expensive and highly paid in the world. We have some players who are good, and are highly paid relative to MOST people but not relative to Top Four teams (nor even to Spurs or Newcastle players, but look how good that is doing them, so far this season!).

Basically they are amongst football's elite, but we are amongst those who dream to join the group which is chasing the elite.

We should not lose sleep over losing to Chelsea. Most teams will this season, and I expect them to win the League and possibly to go one better than they did last year in Europe last season. I suspect that some of the players might, however be concerned that their performances dipped so far below what they would have expected for themselves and seemed to be lacking in fight, in discipline.

I don't hold to the view that this defeat means we are doomed. But it does mean the squad must look at itself in the mirror and try to put things right. Good organisation and hard work will not make poor players good ones, but it can make a team a better one, and one which is much harder to beat, and impossible to take apart.

An oligarch may be needed to pay for the best players in the world. Hard work, organisation, team spirit, and a determination to do their best and not to let anyone past, doesn't require that wealth. The Greek players who won the last-but-one European Championships was patently NOT composed of the best, the most expensive, players, but they were the champion team at the end of the tournament. So it can be done without money. Can we try to do that?

And if Gareth does read this (as had been speculated in the past) I would urge him not to take too seriously the "Gareth must go" (let alone the "Gibson must go") views some hold. He can still do what is needed. But it might be a very hard road, and with people shouting from the sidelines as he travels it. Some of us have faith. Please try to instil some faith in the players, though.

Posted by: Forever Dormo  | October 19, 2008 10:10 PM

James Emmerson wrote...

Memories of the Cardiff FA Cup shambles came flooding back watching that quite excerable display.

Although I like GS his lack of tactical nous and his seeming inability to motivate cost us then and it cost us - in front of big TV audience to boot - my, how it has cost us.

It just doesn't seem to matter that much - which is why Boro will always be mid table / lower mid-table / relegation scramblers. When we beat Chelsea 2-1 in his first home match, John Terry allegedly smashed up a water cooler in the changies, so apopletic with rage was he about losing (two games into the season and it mattered that much to him).

If GS had have come out yesterday clearly fuming and saying "this lot are going back out to train now and they'll be in again in the morning and we are going to get this sorted", that kind of thing, it sends a message.

Instead we just get the "see you on Monday lads and we'll have a chat" from someone who clearly didn't expect to get anything out of the match.

Such impressions are what will lend weight to the 'GS Out' brigade, I point I know has been made on here before.

Posted by: James Emmerson  | October 19, 2008 10:14 PM

bob wrote...

Well the inevitable happened briefly on Saturday night and no doubt will be repeated in a short while. After only 8 games, the top 4 of the PL read
1. Chelsea
2. Liverpool
3. Arsenal
4. Manchester United.
How utterly, utterly depressing.
Fortunately Hull managed to delay the inevitable for another week or so with another marvellous win...how they must be enjoying themselves...but the writing, once again, looks to be on the wall for this season.

Posted by: bob  | October 19, 2008 11:08 PM

Markboro wrote...

I find it strange that people think we were playing 4-4-2. If we were playing this system can somebody tell me where Aliadiere was playing? Was he actually aware that we were playing 4-4-2. To me it looked like we he wandered between a lone striker in Mido and the rest of the midfield.

Shawky is having a poor time at the moment and Digard needs to be playing instead of him. O'Neil is also playing poorly and I have never really rated him. He runs around a lot but other than that he offers nothing else. However at the moment we don't really have any other alternative to him. I agree with some earlier comments that Rochemback would be a better option in midfield rather than either of these current 2.

I would also like to point out that everyone thinks that Boro's academy is great at producing young players that progress through to the first team. At Boro these young players will be given a chance. All very commendable, but it's the actual quality of these players that is starting to concern me. Fine for Wheater, but looking at the likes of Taylor, Grounds, Downing etc... They aren’t exactly setting the world on fire. That's not the opinion from one bad game against Chelsea either.

Posted by: Markboro  | October 20, 2008 12:20 AM

david connor wrote...

Well I come home today and get to watch the BORO live for a few games whilst home. But I ask the question is it worth it after this performance against a team made up mainly of CHELSEA RESERVES? There was nothing at any time in this match from BORO and all of the writngs above are correct without doubt.

I have not been an Alves fan, and still dont believe he was worth the money we paid for him, however, last season his 2 best displays were against Chelsea and Man U so maybe he is only a big game player. To leave him on the bench at all beggers belief.

I am of the opinion that Southgate tenure has run its course, I am sorry Mr Southgate but for me it is time to depart, we need a manager who knows how to motivate a team, and you certainly do not

Posted by: david connor  | October 20, 2008 7:26 AM

John Powls wrote...

Said all I was going to say in my post match Boro Banter column.

But then I made the mistake of reading the Monday's - the quotes from which will have been gathered at the same post match press conferences at the Sunday's.

Amongst the worst of it it in George Caulkin's 'lipstick on a pig' piece of MFC ingratiation in The Times.

He quotes Gate as saying "The lack of experience is something that has stood out for a little while now."

Well, yes - since Gate sold or let go all of our experienced midfielders (not something many of us disagreed with) and then didn't replace them effectively (something which most of us disagreed with volubly). So how can Gate be allowed to get away with such a detached view as though what had happened was just something that he'd noticed and not something he created.

Perhaps if Mr. Caulkin had maintained some journalistic objectivity he and others might have raised that challenge.

Gate then went on, apparently, to say "I don't know what we'll be able to do about that in the transfer window, but it's something we really need to look at."

You don't say, Sherlock.

I want Gate to succeed in all aspects of what he is trying to do with Boro. I like and respect him. But it doesn't help the cause to try to airbrush events like last Saturday and what led to it.

I haven't yet heard Gate (or his backroom staff) taking any responsibility for last Saturday's debacle - and he needs to.

Quite a lot of what happened results directly from decisions he took in the close season, before the end of August and before and during the game.

Talking about it as though it had nothing to do with him just won't do and doesn't chime with his usual honesty.

For all those above who say - well it was Chelski, what else did we expect? It wasn't the defeat it was the manner and scale of it.

Posted by: John Powls  | October 20, 2008 8:28 AM

Chris D wrote...

No knee jerk reaction this - we are now almost a quarter way through the season and its not looking good. And as for those like Steve H who believe we are good enough for a top half finish - what planet are they on?

Yes everyone outside the top 4 expects to lose or struggle against them at home - but the expectations change depending and what class of team you are i.e:

Those fighting for Europe - at best a draw, worst a defeat by the odd goal
Those in 11th-15th place - at best a defeat by the odd goal, worst by a couple of goals
Relegation Candidates - at best defeat by a couple of goals, worst stuffed by 5-6!!

Guess what class we fall into!!

Squad too thin, management too inexperienced. Fully respect Steve G and what he has done for this club and I actually like GS, but I think its time they all moved on before we find this backward trend gaining more momentum and we end up in a Leeds situation!!

Posted by: Chris D  | October 20, 2008 9:46 AM

BrisbanePhil wrote...

I'm Absolutely gutted, but it wasn't the scoreline - this Chelski team are on fire at the moment and would have put 4 or 5 past almost everyone in the Premier League- no, it was the performance which just makes me so mad!

Where was the passion? where was the desire? Where was the total and utter pride in the shirt, the badge and the club? I play in a local comp on a Sunday afternoon and if we put in a performance like that our coach would have us running for an hour after the game - and we pay to play!!

Over paid and over pampered, that's half the story, the rest is some are just not good enough. There has to be praise when things are good - and early season we looked good. But equally there has to be consequence when we are poor, but all GS says is lessons to be learned and we were humiliated etc etc.

Where's the anger? Did any waterbottles get thrown around? Did anything get broken (no stitches on Downing's eye after half time!) No doubt Chelsea are good, and no doubt many on the field had something to prove, but where was our right side? Where was the flying tackles? Except for Mido (and Digard when he came on) no one looked interested.

Where is our bottle? Who wanted to get stuck in? The back ups are just not premier league quality. Yes let's give them a go but now we know that some are not good enough, what's the plan B? Over to you Mr Southgate...

Posted by: BrisbanePhil  | October 20, 2008 10:09 AM

Nigel wrote...

The manner of the defeat to Chelsea is hard to take, but the result itself was the one I expected. Better to put in a dismal performance against a team like Chelsea than against a team you expect a result from.

Such a performance comes along once or twice a season. There are no easy answers I'm afraid. Look at Spurs they hired a top class manager (allegedly), spent a load on players and they have two points from 24. There are no straight forward answers.

We need to put this behind us and focus on Blackburn.

Posted by: Nigel  | October 20, 2008 10:28 AM

David Morrison wrote...

The one thing result shows is we have no leaders on the pitch.

Downing as captain just dosnt work, he has no get up and go and he dosnt talk to the rest of the team. We have no one in this side that will go up to a player and give him a good shake. We have no one that will arouse aggression with a crunching tackle or no one that will grab the game by the scruff of the neck.

Boateng would walk into this side right now and although I wasnt to sad to see him leave I so wish we had replaced him with a younger natural leader.

Chelsea where awesome but we were so bad its untrue, there was no fight, no passion, no skill, no control. O'Neil had a shocker, Shawky looked off the pace and how it was only five I will never know.

Its a tough league and i wouldnt bet on us not getting something at Blackburn on Saturday. We need tuncay back and we need him back this weekend.

I also want us to get to january in a good position and go out and get sum natural aggression in our side. we need 4-5 good players in the transfer window. the squad isnt bug enough and it has been exposed in the last few games.

Bad game but we can move on from it and put it right next week

COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: David Morrison  | October 20, 2008 10:37 AM

CHRIS wrote...

With regards to Alvez.....18months ago he made a "come and get me " plea to Boro and at that point in time the asking price was 5 million euro. We didn't, the transfer window closed.

A few months later he did a precontract with another club and then we got involved last January by which time the he was then valued at £12.5 million. It was the january window and players were short on the ground of any quality.

The point is at 5 million he would have been a good punt but at £12.5 m we were robbed! Sad but true and it was due to slow moving that cost us £7.5 million more.

Similar with Digard.... he was bought for 2.5 million euro by PGS then 12 games later (he only played half a season due to injury) we pay £5 million. No one can tell me that in those games he played he was ripping up trees with his bare hands. No, we just paid too much!I do actually rate him...but he is not a finished product.

Aliadere and Hoyte both came from Arsenal, obviously were released due to it being decided they were not good enough there. My point being we are buying second rate players because that is all we can afford. If a player makes an impact in a season then the big boys buy them...fact...Tevez, Berbatov, Anelka....and so on. So all we are ever going to be able to buy is either unproven youngsters or mediocre premiership also rans.

No suprise then that the same teams win the league every year becouse they buy all the best players if they make an impact in a season.

Saturday was shocking but what could we expect? Passion yes ,heart yes....we never got it that is down to man management I am afraid. I was never a pro Southgate for manager fan and I do not believe he has actually achieved any move forward for the club. We just play prettier football when we lose against teams we should beat. I am not saying we should beat the big 4 but the teams we are mean't to be on a par with.....

Posted by: CHRIS  | October 20, 2008 10:41 AM

Dave Earl wrote...

I can understand the "excuse" that we obviously were missing some senior players... Pogz, Huth, Tuncay, Arca.. and yes, I'm sure that they would probably have made a bit more of a fist of it.

However I found the fact that we didnt show any motivation to press and harrass them quite worrying. It was apparent from the kick off what type of game we were in for and nothing changed as the game wore on. There is simply no excuse for that type of performance.

We can and must do much better than that...come on Gareth, lets get them going !!

Posted by: Dave Earl  | October 20, 2008 11:43 AM

Colin L wrote...

I have criticised them, moaned about them, argued about them and defended them, but in 43 seasons I have never felt ashamed of my home town team until Saturday.

Posted by: Colin L  | October 20, 2008 12:07 PM

Holgateoldskool wrote...

Our best possession was when the ball went in the North Stand - and was not returned instantly!

Says it all really........

Posted by: Holgateoldskool  | October 20, 2008 12:39 PM

Peter Thompson wrote...

Batten down the hatches, it is going to be a long hard winter. I am a GS fan and want him to succeed but now I simply do not understand his team selection and his tactical awareness has to be seriously questioned.

I have said before in previous blogs - anybody who has coaching qualifications at the highest level and the experience he has gained in his professional career, he should be getting this team to perform to at least an acceptable standard and not a heartless, unorganised shambles which is now embarrasing.

I am seriously concerned that this could be the season we drop and I do not envisage any quick return. Yes players have to be motivated but how the hell do you motivate millionaires (have we lost sight that ALL premiership players are or will be be millionaires in a modern game geared for tv and not the normal fan on the street.)

God I miss the days watching Boring Boro in the 70's, Rioch's youngsters in the 80's and the start of Robsons reign in the 90's. The Mac years were even better than this. I wonder in years to come what my opinion will be of Southgates teams - lets hope it is not Southgates Sad Souless Silhoettes of our founder teams.

Posted by: Peter Thompson  | October 20, 2008 12:48 PM

Charlie Johnson wrote...

Southgate's comment that we are all still learning including himself is starting to become a bit stale.

Let's look at the team as a whole, firstly Turnbull has one glaring weakness his inability to position himself to take a ball on the ground coming straight to him with pace. Taylor I am afraid is slow, does not mark properly and is a poor passer of the ball. Wheater looks a bit like a carthorse when it comes to keeping an eye on both ball and opposing player which should be instinct for a central defender. Grounds too inexperienced as was evident on Saturday. The two central midfielders simply do not cut it with me, Shawky is not premiership standard and O'Neill is not physically strong enough to make a contribution as a central mid-fielder. I can't understand why Emnes and Didier are not playing-why did we bother signing them. Alliadiere is not a goal scorer.

What's left? I suggest Riggott and Pogatez as the central defenders, move Wheater to full back and bring back McMahon from Norwich for a start. Sign two new central midfielder in the transfer window as a matter of urgency. Mido and Alves will be OK but will need support which they are not getting with the current crew.

Posted by: Charlie Johnson  | October 20, 2008 12:55 PM

Paul, Walton-on-Thames wrote...

I don't think Chelsea played any better on Saturday than they do most weeks. Yes, their passing was fluent and precise which carved us open time and time again and at times it looked as if we would never get the ball back.

However, I don't agree that they would have scored 5 against most teams on Saturday, which is what quite a few people seem to be suggesting.

As much as Chelsea are a class team, I've seen them knock the ball around like that loads of times, without finding themselves creating chance after chance after chance.

I think the result (which could have easily been 8 or 9-0) said more about the way we defended. Chelsea found themselves with far too much time on the ball in our half and with options of teammates in space to pass to all over the place.

If you give any Premier League team that much room on the ball, and then back it up with a disjointed and static back four who looked like they hadn't seen each other before, you're gonna be in trouble.

Thankfully it wasn't our first choice back four representing us. I'm sure once everyone's back we can get ourselves organised and put this nightmare behind us.

We've shown in the past that we have the fight in us and enough quality to give the top teams a tough game. I'm sure Chelsea would have been expecting it, given what has happened at our place against them in recent seasons.

At the end of the day though, you don't get minus points for being stuffed. The important thing is how we react to the humiliation. Last time this happened (Cardiff), we went on a good run of form after. Fingers crossed!

Posted by: Paul, Walton-on-Thames  | October 20, 2008 1:08 PM

stockton red wrote...

Just at the time my blood pressure was returning to normal I read Southgate's quotes this morning and I totally agree with John Powls above.

I presume he's referring to a lack of experience in midfield. Well he was the one to allow Boateng and Rochemback to leave without replacements. If these two were at the club they would be playing because they are vastly superior to O'Neill and Shawky.

Saturday's team selection, gameplan and lack of use of substitutions at half time contributed to the scale of the defeat. I admire Southgate for his efforts as a player and his decency and honesty. He has to galvanise a response and a determination from his players to prove people wrong.I sincerely hope he can do it.

Posted by: stockton red  | October 20, 2008 1:20 PM

stevo wrote...

Chelsea played superbly. Boro were appalling. Im generally pro-Southgate, but that team selection and formation, the lack of tactics, motivation or response to the completely one sided first half, show that he was as out of his depth as Robbo was eventually found out to be. Even our mam would have had more of a clue. Not to say Boro would have got much out of the game anyway, but we might have been coming away saying at least we ''had a go''....

Posted by: stevo  | October 20, 2008 2:27 PM

John (The Smug Smoggie) wrote...

"It was the worst performance since i took over as manager" said GS, No GS Cardiff was and saturday opened all wounds from that day back in April. Same old heartless, gutless, no comittitment, no bottle,approach etc etc.

But i would like to throw something else into saturdays no show, the away fans. GS said on MOTD after the home defeat to WBA that he "was getting sick of the opposition scoring in that end." Yes GS & SG how many teams over the last few seasons have scored in that end,dozens and dozens.

We the fans have approached MFC, GS&GS about this issue, but they refuse to move them into the South East corner. Could someone from MFC please look at this again as this will continue this season and will ultimitly cost more and more points as the opposing teams attack towords thier own supporters.

One final thought, where do Boro fans sit at Chelsea, Liverpool, Man. U, Arsenal,Aston Villa, Sid James's Park, Everton and Spurs.....in the corners. Are thse big clubs right or wrong?

Posted by: John (The Smug Smoggie)  | October 20, 2008 2:37 PM

Nigel wrote...

Stockton Red - Don't tell me you didn't think Rocky and The Boat should have been let go? Both players were slammed consistently on this blog last season, replacing them with better, experienced players is not something Boro can do because they cost too much. Therefore GS bought quality, inexperienced players with potential.

As for your critisism of O'Neill, that's a laugh because loads of posters on here were arguing for him playing in a central position, now he is there is.....silence.

We were well beaten by a better side who caught us on a bad day, its happened before and it will happen again, the world won't end and neither will Boro's run in the prem (not just yet anyway!)

Last season we were well beaten by a championship side, that was a disaster, in Mac's last season we were ripped to pieces by an average Villa side. On Saturday we were dismantled by a team who will finish first or second and could easily be champions of Europe come May. What we need here is some perspective.

Posted by: Nigel  | October 20, 2008 2:42 PM

Denis wrote...

The devastation wreaked by Chelsea was complete. It was bad literally from ko, no atmosphere in the ground, lunch time kick offs do not work. Southgate got this badly wrong with his team selection. He had,two left backs and three wingers in the team ,all playing out of position, no aggression in midfield.

Add to this, mistakes in passing and marking. There was no determination nor purpose in the team and the manager must accept responsibility for this He did not change things until it was too late.

I was so embarrassed, less by the result but more by the lack of effort and will. The gulf in money between the teams is obvious but the gulf in class was made wider by own abject display.

Some focused anger would now be welcome from Southgate. His rational, calm, detached view of the teams failings are beginning to wear thin, especially as he is now relying on the old chestnut we must worker hard and roll up our sleeves. That should have happened on Saturday. Oh and he should stop pandering to Downing!! Let him go and join his buddy Woodgate.

Posted by: Denis  | October 20, 2008 2:59 PM

paul f wrote...

Gareth Southgate is an absolute disgrace as a manager. Mr Gibson has to hold his hands up and tell us all that his experiment has failed if not we are going to lose our prem status.

Every season has seen decline, his buys always injured, his tactics non exsitant, subs use abysmal, motivation skills nil, the whole club has lost it mental toughness it once had and which got us to several finals etc. Southgate comes across a nice sincere person but you obviously require more than that to manage a team that hopes to improve in any way.

Been a season ticket holder for 20 + years and can say hand on heart this manager is the worst yet, no other in history of the club has ever had the facilities, resources, class of playing staff this man inherited - yet every senior professional he has had has chosen to leave, good quality youngters (born boro fans!) have been needlesly sold. Come on Mr Gibson...PULL YOUR FINGER OUT!!!

Posted by: paul f  | October 20, 2008 3:05 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

Posted earlier but is appears to have gone missing, lost in the virtual world along with our marking, guts and effort.

John is right about the midfield, Boat's eratic passing and Rockys eratic being Rocky needed replacing. Cat needed to go, Mendi arguably past it.

What we needed were not players for the future, some here and now would have been useful. The calculated (being generous) gamble over the squad looks to have been a trifle optimistic. Lambies cutting the cloth has the look of the Emperors Clothes!

I am going to repeat what I said at the same stage of last season (and no doubt previous seasons as well) Our problems will largely have to be sorted with what we already have.

We may get new players in the window and 1st Jan will be involved but there will be a 3 in front of it.

The players we will get in will probably be players who cant get a game and/or they will probably not be match fit. Just look at recent signings as examples, Alves, Mido, young, Emnes, Digard. They may well pick up knocks as they try to catch up. It may well be march before they have an impact but I can already hear the 'they will benefit from a pre season' coming out of MFC.

So like it or not the present squad is what we have and it will remain the same for the bulk of the season unless we get in someone who has already been found wanting and ditched.

What we need is a response as after the Cardiff match and us to get behind the team. But we should not be in this position yet again.

I might well save this post for next season.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | October 20, 2008 3:29 PM

Graham wrote...

What worries me is there is no 'Derby' this season. I think Spurs will get out if it (money to spend in Jan) and I also think Newcastle will escape because they will have a new owner and money to spend.

The world and his wife knew the squad was too small and devoid of quality but we did nothing about it.

I said when Southgate was appointed that we would be relegated within four years. Hope to God I'm wrong!

Where we really in a UEFA cup final two years ago? Really?

This is Gibson's fault; his obession with this 'boot room' culture and academy needing to bear fruit is going to lead to relegation. Then what?

Time to be worried, especially when the mananager stands on the touchline biting his nails!!!

Posted by: Graham  | October 20, 2008 4:00 PM

Jaguar Boy wrote...

It's always nice to watch a big team like Chelsea play, but couldn't someone have told our players that they weren't just supposed to stand and watch whilst pretty football happened round them?

Well it was horrible to watch for the rest of us, but not surprising. Boro gained a reputation for the occasional dragon slaying by having a team full of overpaid big game players who couldn't be bothered putting the effort in week in week out.

We then get rid all these type of players in the summer and swap for cheaper younger players who will put effort in more of the time, but then get surprised when we lose big games.

Yes Rocky and the Boat would probably have put the effort in vs Chelsea and it may have gotten us a better result, but would it have got us more results across the season?

Almost a shame, as the few times I most enjoyed watching Boro were the rare times when we turn over the big 4 with spectacular football, and I fear that won't happen any more.

We were poor, and our full backs were ripped apart spectacularly by a combination of inexperience, lack of talent and poor cover from the wingers, along with world class full backs coming forwards on the overlap. Can we have Luke Young back please?

Midfield was easily passed around, and the lack of closing down and bite in the tackle (was there a tackle?) from Shawky and ONeill was particularly galling.

The accommodation of Downing and Johnson is as obvious as it is annoying, (it's one or the other and Jinky should be given more of a chance when Stewie doesn't look up for it and start the next match if he did well, or be allowed to go elsewhere.)

As are the times when Digard comes on and immediately our midfield looks better for it, but then starts on the bench next game. And where is Emnes? is he any good? why did we buy him?

The £12m Brazilian benchwarmers best position is just there at the moment, when his only source of service is injured (come back soon Tuncay) and Mido was the only bright spark for Boro in the game. The only brave yet sensible decision by GS going on form for a change. Alves is a finisher, and has no intention of being anything else, so only worth playing when the rest of the team can give him something to finish.

And our brave central defenders really go missing when there isn't a thinking leader in amongst them - Southgate made Riggott look good when playing together and Huth and Woodgate made Wheater and Poggi look good, but you need a combination of brains and brawn for it to be effective, along with a keeper with enough self belief to shout at the men in front of him.

Let's be thankful that these painful yet obvious lessons were taught to the manager and team in a game we wouldn't have expected any points from anyway, but why does it always have to be on TV for the rest of the nation to see?!!

At least we're not Spurs... although come the end of the season they will finish above us no doubt.

Posted by: Jaguar Boy  | October 20, 2008 4:05 PM

Chris from Beverley wrote...

A right Hornets nest this blog, that's for sure.

I am not normally known for giving players stick publicly, however, I am going to have a gripe about Gary O'Neil.

A lot of people were asking why Harry Redknapp let him leave Pompey. HR being a wily old fox obviously knows a good thing when he sees it, and letting him go to Boro must have been a dream come true.

O'Neil covers a lot of ground with a lot of huff and puff but the end result is more often enough wasteful.

I think the guy needs to visit 'Specsavers' and get his eyes tested.

We are currently calling him Eli (from last of the Summer Wine) or Mr Magoo.

I think the West Brom game was the first time he has actually got a shot on target. Normally it ends up going in the direction of a corner flag.

Come on Gary prove me wrong and start finding the back of the net...
You know you want to.

Posted by: Chris from Beverley  | October 20, 2008 4:09 PM

Mikey D wrote...

After our sale of Luke Young I sent an e mail via the club web site asking about our transfer strategy, I received no reply so I ask again.

We got rid of an experienced prem keeper and left our selves with two inexperienced keepers, we were told to prove themselves, well apart from making good saves which all keepers will do (thats why they are pro keepers) they are not up to it and the defence know hence the lack of confidence.

We sold the best and most experienced defender Luke Young and replaced him with someone who had not proved himself in the Prem. We sold our midfield Rochemback experienced Prem and Euro midfielder, Boateng similar and Cattermole who at least will put his foot in and was gaining experience and replaced them with two young euros who had not even proved themselves in their own country.

The result the youngest squad in the prem but oh boy are we lacking in someone who can lead and motivate especially if Huth, Poggy and Tucay are out.

I am afraid I fear the worst the management team have messed up big time and if we go down I doubt the club will be able to recover.

Posted by: Mikey D  | October 20, 2008 5:12 PM

Malc wrote...

One thing keeping me smiling is the fact Woodgate is playing for "proper manager" Juande Ramos. Foot in mouth syndrome from one of football's doziest.

Posted by: Malc  | October 20, 2008 5:28 PM

Lagos Loon wrote...

Come on people. A certain other small team in Yorkshire, now lying third in the table, got battered 0-5 at home by the mighty Wigan. Things can, and do change..... Chin(s) up chaps!

Posted by: Lagos Loon  | October 20, 2008 6:13 PM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

When the writing was on the wall against in the Cardiff match two of our players fought on still wanting the ball to try and fight back - Luke Young and Fabio Rockemback who was starting to enjoy his footy at Boro more with fellow Brazilian Alves signed.

Where were they against Chelsea or where were their replacements? Boateng and Cattermole would have helped the cause more as our midfield was overrun by Chelsea. To get rid of so much experience , players who have already LEARNED LESSONS is fatal at this level.

'If they are good enough they are old enough' -are Grounds and Taylor good enough?

Man U are gonna pay 30 mil for Tevez to add to 30mil Berbatov to go next to Rooney and not to mention C.Ronaldo. and the top 4 will never change until Man City spend to buy A and B teams full of internationals.

Its not just about wonga though- we didnt even fight. Is Gareth too nice to make the squad get some pressure on the opposition and rollock them if they dont. We are playing like Spurs and by the time some of the youngsters LEARN LESSONS it will be too bloody late as their learning is at our [BORO's] cost!

I suggest some sharp loans in Jan. Players who are playing for a contract so we dont have to rely on Southgate's motivational skill. I imagine that Gareth's team talks are like a session with a marriage guidance counsellor.

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | October 20, 2008 8:39 PM

Richard wrote...


The same thing occurred to me earlier this evening.

Woodgate, the "big-time Charlie" glory seeker, with his "proper manager" propping up the Premier League is one side of the coin.

The other is George Boateng, as honest, modest and hard-working a professional player as you're likely to come across, working his guts out for Phil Brown and lying third in a Champion's League spot (currently) with Hull City.


If only it was sustainable and if the Premier League was actually a reflection of more robust values than the colour of money!

Regretably, I fear "Big Buck" will ultimately win again! It'd be good if he didn't though!

Posted by: Richard  | October 20, 2008 8:51 PM

Craig Donald wrote...

In your bit in today's Gazette AV (which I agree with entirely, the squad IS thin and we always knew that but Southgate got the shape completely wrong too and made it worse) you said that if nothing else that Gareth Southgate was honest.

I have always been taken with Mr Southgate. He has appeared articulate and thoughtful and he put the case for Boro's new cut-price reality well. I had him down as media savvy and intelligent, which seems a rarity in football.

But his comments to Mr Paylor in today's Gazette begger beleif and have forced me to question whether he is bright at all.

He must have known that what he was saying would throw petrol on the fire. It has added insult to injury after a spineless display that was unacceptable.

"Part of it is down to the personnel and the lack of experience in the squad and these are things we have to think seriously about. We may have to do something in January."

He says that as if he had nothing to do with it, as if it is something shocking that he has only just discovered.

He may be in denial of the past but he is mistaken if he thinks we are too. We know that he has spent two years getting rid of experienced players because it cost too much. He has said as much. As has Steve Gibson.

Now that policy is being exposed for the dangerous false economy it is. We are short of experience all over the pitch because proven players have been sold or allowed to leave and replaced by naive youngsters not up to the job.

Now he thinks it may be something they have to think about. The time to think about it was last May. And in August when it was clear where we were short.

Why is it very fan and pundit knew that teh lack of depth would bite us on the bum but the manager is surprised? That worries me.

Another thing that worries me is he keeps on saying "we need to learn from it." It has become his "magnificent", a reflex catch-phrase that grates with fans and turns them off in droves.

If they don't learn soon it will be time to consider if we need a new teacher.

Posted by: Craig Donald  | October 20, 2008 10:57 PM

Tees Exile  wrote...

Boro fans must be among the worst in the country. The Riverside is a morgue. The only sound you can hear is whinging and tutting and the odd mobile phone (the ring tone is always Pigbag because they are diehard fans but they sit chatting for 20 minutes about where they are going drinking or who battered who.)

I was embarrassed at people leaving in droves after an hour. When you are being tortured and are three, four, five down That is when the team need support not to see the crowd streaming out.

They say it is because Boro are losing but the same people leave early "to beat the traffic" even if we are winning or if it is a fantastic dramatic game.

We will get the team we deserve and a crowd full of fickle, whinging, glory seeking, post-Juninho bandwagon jumpers and plastic Sky fans deserve a team that can't be bothered either.

Posted by: Tees Exile  | October 20, 2008 11:22 PM

beamishboro wrote...

I am getting fed up with Southgate and the players who don't care about the club anymore.

no wonder I left the area and spend my saturday shopping.

Bring back ayresome park!

Wish we had Roy Keane as manager.

Southgate is too soft. I probably won't go to a match until Southgate Quits and we get people who care about the club. We should get Big Sam in to sort out the deadwod

Posted by: beamishboro  | October 20, 2008 11:32 PM

ruislip al wrote...

This result and witnessing the game has had a profound effect on me and I have had plenty of time to think about it driving back down to London.

I agree with much that has been posted already regarding the fact that Boro just did not compete, certainly we were poor but actually in my view this is much bigger than Boro putting in a poor performance.

It truly is a reflection of the huge gulf between the elite clubs and the other Premier league 2nd/3rd/4th tier teams. I actually laughed on Saturday when Chelsea brought off Lampard and replaced him with Deco - oh to have that sort of talent sat warming the Boro bench!

Saturday did make me realise though (maybe I have been a bit slow - ever the Boro optimist!) that the gulf is wide and getting wider which is sort of leaving me feeling a bit disenchanted with Premier League football as a whole.

As an aside did anyone else think that the match atmosphere was very poor - there was virtually no singing (granted not much to sing about as the match went on!) but even as the match kicked off there was nothing except the Chelsea fans singing throughout.

Whilst I am at it can we also ditch the whole holding up the cards thing during Pigbag, it stifles the atmosphere and prevents the whole stand from clapping along to Pigbag and just makes it a little less intimidating for the visiting side. A small thing I know but hey when your playing the top 4 sides at home every little helps.

Some brave souls did try and get the singing going but it just did not happen and whilst the players need to reflect on their performance on Saturday dare I say it perhaps the fans (and I include myself in this!) need to as well.

Posted by: ruislip al  | October 20, 2008 11:41 PM

Forever Dormo wrote...

The comment of Lagos Loon at 6.13pm is interesting. Do you think our backroom staff will be pointing out the Hull v Wigan score to our squad, and then comparing what Hull have done subsequently? And then challenge our players to do the same.

Maybe they will ask the Boro players whether they think, man for man, they are better than our Yorkshire coast neighbours. They could compare the effort and commitment shown by the Hull players with some of that shown by our team. Hull might come out smelling of roses in that comparison.

The problem here is that we take a short term view. Knees jerk. We had a gutsy performance against Wigan and a great result. We had the expected result against Chelsea but a very poor performance to go with it. Even a good performance against Chelsea might have seen us lose 2 - 0, but we would have ended up wih the same points from the game (ie nil).

The important thing is to put right the apparent lack of commitment (George, bless him, never lacked commitment, and Cattermole would have put himself about a bit, but it is unlikely to have changed the destiny of the points). You can get a player fired up for a game but obviously you can't make a poor player into a good one, at least not overnight!

(At this point I did a paragraph about how devastating some Test Match cricketers could be if highly annoyed or motivated - think whether you would like to bowl to a seriously annoyed Viv Richards, or face a miffed Dennis Lillee - but then I realised I was talking about cricketing Gods and that it would be ridiculous to compare the players in our Boro team, to those giants of cricket).

I still think our players could sometimes be better prepared and better motivated for the game ahead. Grief, we are only asking them to play the game they love - and which we would love to be good enough to play - for 90-odd minutes once or twice a week. It shouldn't be too much to be motivated for that, should it?

Commitment, effort, spirit - whatever phrase you prefer - might not beat a Chelsea very often, but it will get the crowd going and becomes infectious. Suddenly players start to believe in themselves. Then we should at least have a good chance of winning the games that really count, ie against teams like WBA, Fulham, Bolton etc. If we can get it right for those types of games we can still be alright.

We could still sneak the odd surprise against the Top Clubs, but that would be the icing on the cake. The bread and butter games are against the lesser lights. They are likely to be "up" for those games against us, so we must be "up" for the games against them. It is possible and it is the least that must be expected of the players and the backroom staff who prepare them for the games.

It is not the end of the world. It would be grim to perform as badly against the Fulhams, the Boltons etc of the Premier League though. The half-full side of me thinks this might be a useful wake-up call to everyone at the club. They are not as good as we would like them to be, and as they might think they are. More effort is needed to put things right.

Posted by: Forever Dormo  | October 20, 2008 11:59 PM

Smoggy In Exile wrote...

Make no mistake - we're in trouble alright. An interesting point - after an August that surpassed most fans expectations, GS comes out and says:

"We're actually behind where we want to be" - i.e. he wanted a draw out of the Liverpool game.

I would hate to see how "behind" we are now! Whatever we're behind must be how far Hull are "ahead"!

Ah Hull, a team of modestly assembled grafters and some experienced heads. Boro - a team of modestly assembled youngsters, with a sprinkling of expensive front men. Notice the slight difference? I noticed the difference in the summer when I worried about our lack of experience - GS seems to have just noticed now!

We are a one man team. Tuncay = Boro. Without him we look completely clueless and completely uncreative.

I would like to see GS be brave, stick Tuncay in midfield alongside Digard, shove O'Neill back out to the right, Downing/Jinky on the left and bang Alves and Mido up front. Tuncay can play ANYWHERE without weakening the team, so lets strengthen it by keeping our goal poacher and "big man" in the team as well.

Oh, and wouldn't it be nice to see Emnes make an appearance? I'm beginning to get the feeling that the lad is a bit shy...

Changes needed:

- freshen up the midfield
- buy/loan as least one experienced player in January - I'd even take Park Ji Sung from Man Utd - infact I'd snap their hands off.
- remind Wheater that Don Fabio won't come calling if he continues to look a bit wishy-washy

Posted by: Smoggy In Exile  | October 21, 2008 8:45 AM

Werdermouth wrote...

I think there is a lot of undue pessimism on these boards, which I think is based on the assumption that Boro should be better than they are.

Given that we are in a group of 12 clubs that have won less than half of their 8 games then on this basis most Premier League fans must also be feeling pessimistic - especially the likes of Man City, Spurs ans Sunderland who have spent massive amounts of cash on transfers and wages with no discernable improvement in their fortunes.

If you take away the Chelsea game in which Boro played their weakest team of the season against the strongest squad in the league, we've been only a fine line from winning all our games.

So get over it everyone - beating Chelsea is not the norm - and spending £100m on average players will not give us anything but the certainty of going out of business.

The return of Tuncay and Pogi will see a big improvement and if Downing and Alves can find their form, plus if Digard and Emnes can start playing 90 minutes, then it will make us the good side commentators were rating us at the start of the season - does anyone remember August?

Posted by: Werdermouth  | October 21, 2008 8:46 AM

Nigel wrote...

Ian - You're right you will be making the same post next season and the one after etc etc, but its not because the manager/club doesn't learn.

Its because Boro compete in a demanding league with teams two or three of which are the best in europe maybe the world. The team that got ripped up by Chelsea is the same one that frightened Liverpool to death at Anfield.

We will get a good stuffing from someone every season because that is the nature of the sport, even in the '74 season when Boro were dominant in the second division we were stuffed by Forest. One heavy defeat proves nothing, it was a bad day, players were played out of position, we had a stack of injuries, it was frustrating to watch but it wasn't symptomatic of an under lying malaise at the club.

We have a young inexperienced side with potential who occasionally will get a good pasting, if they are wise such occasions are an opportunity to learn.

I saw the odds for relegation last night Boro weren't even shown on the list of seven 'most likely' to go down, the bookies are rarely wrong.

We're two games away from the magic ten, which will give us an idea of how the season will pan out, we're doing okay so far.

Posted by: Nigel  | October 21, 2008 9:58 AM

Simon Hopper wrote...

Lets get in a Real manager who can install self belief and passion !!!

Lets face it Southgate is an honest type of guy, but iam sick of the same excusses. Your honymoon period is over !!

Lets get tough Mr Gibson it is time he was shown the door before its too late !!

Posted by: Simon Hopper  | October 21, 2008 10:25 AM

Smoggy In Exile wrote...

Nigel - but are we doing okay so far? Really?

Newcastle have been an absolute laughing stock this season, some poor defeats at home, Joe Kinnear (!!!) in charge, and yet how many points are we ahead of them?


Not many is it?

The most worrying thing is that despite GS changing things round, trying to change the way we play, we still went on a 4 match losing run in September, just like similar runs in every season for the past 5. I'm sure other clubs go on bad runs - but no club seems to do it as spectacularly as us. And you have to wonder why?

This is the season where we can fairly judge GS on his performance. Forget the first two - this is now HIS squad. No excuses - he can't blame inexperience, injuries, bad referees - the first 2 are his own design & squad choice, the third generally even out.

So, judgement season. Will we see an improvement? Or will we see another season flirting with relegation? I'm giving GS until Christmas to show me whether we've turned the corner, in respect of:

- playing style
- passion
and ultimately...
- results

If we're in the bottom 4-5 by then, Gibbo should be having a long sit down and think.

Posted by: Smoggy In Exile  | October 21, 2008 10:48 AM

Nigel wrote...

Smoggy in exile - we're three points ahead of the barcodes after 8 games, if that trend contiues we'll be out of sight come May. We're also just two wins away from a champions league place, it is too early to be interpreting to much from how many points we have.
Simon Hopper - maybe we should employ Juande Ramos, he was the 'Real Deal' wasn't he?

Posted by: Nigel  | October 21, 2008 11:48 AM

italiared wrote...

Enough is enough , Southgate has had over 2 seasons & there is NO improvement .
In fact when he took over we were a club who had finished mid table, got to the final of the UEFA cup & were FA Cup semi finalists .

He should have been chased after the Cardiff debacle. How much more of his drivel do we have to listen to ??? Sorry Mr. Gibson but not taking O'Niell & giving the job to Southgate was a howler.

We need to bring in a manager with a bit of experience & nous . It pains me to say it but Fat Sam is probably the best available to put the plug in an increasingly leaky ship.

Posted by: italiared  | October 21, 2008 12:12 PM

paul bell wrote...

Well what is there to say about Saturday. GS might as well put 11 cardboard cut outs on the pitch. No passion,no aggression,just like GS himself, a passionless cardboard cut out.

As for the atmosphere in the ground, apart from the Chelsea fans, MFC might as well stick 26,000 cut out fans in the seats.The atmosphere is an embarrasment. For God's sake, Teesside is suposed to be a mighty industrial area. Where are all the passionate supporters?

And please SG, get rid if GS and bring in Ravanelli as manager.i have read he wants to come back and coach the club. If not please back your bags and leave with GS.

By the way Blackburn will trounce Boro 3/4-0 on Saturday.

Posted by: paul bell  | October 21, 2008 1:16 PM

Captain Parmo wrote...

Get yersels to Blackburn Satda, your Captain doesn't see Boro lose away !!

As Shakespeare wrote: "Men abed in Boro will feel accursed they were not here this day"


Posted by: Captain Parmo  | October 21, 2008 1:25 PM

Stew wrote...

I'm not going to add any more comments on the Chelsea game as it's pretty much all been said already. Instead, I'll look at a point which has been mentioned several times and I guess is most fans wish - the purchase of a creative midfielder in January. I think its a safe assumption that we won't have mega-bucks to spend, which is going to limit our options.

Reports link us with Defour of Liege, who isn't a player I know a lot about, looked useful in the games against Liverpool and Everton, but now Arsenal are being linked, if this is the case then I can't see him choosing the Riverside over the Emirates. Plus his fee seems to be increasing every time he's mentioned, so he'll soon, if not already, be out of our price range.

Jimmy Bullard is a name who's been linked with the Boro for some time, at 29 he's got PL experience, and I think is out of contract in the summer, if so may be available for £2/3m. I've liked what I've seen of Bullard, but he's come back from a bad injury, and doesn't seem to be hitting the same heights that he was before.

What other suggestions do people have, who are in our price range, and would be willing to come to the Riverside?

However, we've still got over 2 months until the window opens, so we need to make do with what we've got, and get some people off the treatment table and onto the pitch.
Arca (when he returns from injury), if its the Arca before he got nobbled by Sunlun may provide creativity but lacks pace in the middle. So no real improvement to our team there.
Moving Downing inside to accomodate Jinky on the left has also been suggested in the past, but I don't agree with this, square pegs and round holes and all that.
One idea that I do like the sound of is Tuncay central. He played there for Turkey, and his workrate is tremendous.

My team (if everyone's fit) would be:

GK Turnbull (better than Jones)
RB McMahon (seems to have recovered from his injuries...touch wood)
CB Wheater
CB Huth (or Pogi when injured)
LB Pogi (or Taylor, as above)
RM O'Neill (but i'd like to see Emnes given a chance)
CM Digard
CM Tuncay
LM Downing (rotate with Jinky to keep them fresh and hungry)
CF Alves/Mido (whichever one's in form)
CF Aliadiere (won't score many goals but pace causes problems)

PS: I don't agree with getting rid of GS and bringing Ravanelli in as manager - he has no experience and will take 2/3 years to make the team his own, so in 3 years we wouldn't be any better off. We have a young squad lacking in experience, but with plenty of ability. Survive this year and our squad will grow stronger together, and we'll be looking upwards rather than down.

Up the Boro!!!

Posted by: Stew  | October 21, 2008 2:19 PM

Simon Hopper wrote...

Nigel, how long do we give this guy before its too late ?? Lets face the facts here 1 away win in the whole of 2008, an inexperenced keeper crisis and a wafer thin sqaud.
This whole keeper thing is going to bite us on the back side !! And as for the rest of them no passion no sod all else come to think of it !!!
Get him out now before we are in the championship !!

Posted by: Simon Hopper  | October 21, 2008 2:55 PM

Ian Gill wrote...


I didnt post to have a go at our recruitment but to try and focus minds. The reality of our situation as a mid sized football club in the premiership
is that we are not going to get first choice of players.

It is unlikely there will be cavalry arriving 1st Jan and the lot we have will just have to sort themselves out. It is no good people looking to the transfer window for solutions because the points are needed now to give us a decent season.

The problem with such a dismal performance is that it normally takes place during the post Xmas slump not before trick or treat.

Gate and his team will just have to get the troops fired up for Saturday. They will also have to look deep inside themselves to undertand what went wrong, they will have to be brutally honest because unless they take ownership of the situation why should the players. You cannot have such a dismal collective failure and it only be the players or the coaches fault.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | October 21, 2008 3:04 PM

Forever Dormo wrote...

Paul Bell at 1.16pm - You're Joe Kinnear aren't you?

Ravanelli? Maybe as a striker 12 years ago, but as manager, now? Think how often he would be misquoted by Uncle Eric or by Vic in the Gazette. "The performance was execrable" ("No! I told the reporters the result was excuseable. He must have written it wrongly"). We won't even go down the route an Italian's pronunciation of "cheat" might be misinterpreted.

No, far too risky. It was bad enough being criticised in newspapers in Rome, Turin or Milan. At least we didn't have that thrust in front of our noses every evening and now it would be on our computer screens, too.

Posted by: Forever Dormo  | October 21, 2008 4:08 PM

Pat Mc, Dubai wrote...

Stew, you ask "what other suggestions do people have, who are in our price range, and would be willing to come to the Riverside?"

My suggestion, posted previously and shot down by one or two, is Kevin Nolan. He seems to have been around for donkeys, but no-one can deny that he knows what the PL is all about.

Nolan is full of drive and commitment, great captain, scores goals, has presence, good engine...and he's still only 26. He looks like he needs a new challenge (and to lose a few pounds maybe) to hit the heights of two seasons back, but once there he would be perfect to bring on and command the young lads in our squad.

Posted by: Pat Mc, Dubai  | October 21, 2008 4:17 PM

steve h wrote...

I despair. Some people are seriously suggesting we should replace Southgate with Allardyce! Or Gibson with some mystery billionaire...

We are 1 point off 9th. A top half finish will do me this season. We have a young side with the potential to improve. Anybody that goes on about the team that Southgate inherited should have a look at the age of many of the players in that squad.

Calm down. It was CHELSEA!

Posted by: steve h  | October 21, 2008 4:26 PM

BLT wrote...

Kneejerk city on here again. A Boro side with an injury crisis lose to the richest club on the plant and all hell breaks loose. There are a lot of critics and very few supporters these days. Faint-hearts.

A think a lot on here must have been among them that started streaming out after an hour just when they needed support.

Some of them who slag players for a lack of passion need to look at themselves.

Posted by: BLT  | October 21, 2008 4:58 PM

Paul Bell wrote...

Nutty Nigel wrote....
"Smoggy in exile - we're three points ahead of the barcodes after 8 games, if that trend contiues we'll be out of sight come May"

If it doesn't we will be relegated. This is by far the most likely outcome.

Posted by: Paul Bell  | October 21, 2008 6:08 PM

malc wrote...

It was a one-off thrashing. Southgate is the man for the job, give him a break.

Posted by: malc  | October 21, 2008 6:08 PM

Richard wrote...

Those who fancy a move for Steven Defour aren't alone seemingly. You're in good company.

At least Boro have been acknowledged publicly with expressing an interest.

But if Arsenal are serious, our chances are probably compromised somewhat!


Posted by: Richard  | October 21, 2008 6:35 PM

allycat wrote...

I agree with BLT with regard to the fans streaming out - that sends out completely the wrong message and is embarrassing.

However i don't fully agree with his apparent view that it wasn't such a big deal losing to Chelsea. If we had played with a bit of guile, heart and belief, but still lost then fair enough. But to give up at the first whistle the way we did, with players looking like they had never played before or had adopted a Boksic/Mendietta approach to simply be happy to be picking up their money(apart from Mido)and the complete lack of any kind of self belief was unacceptable.

Someone needs to get hold of the players and give them a rollicking, then build them back up again. Also, we cannot continue with a young, inexperienced back 5 along with a young, inexperienced manager. You could get away with one or the other,but not both.

We need a leader at the back -Wheater undoubtedly will become one, but not yet-and a manager that makes bold decisions. I am not calling for Gates's head, but he needs to pick players on performance and needs to learn quickly.

At the moment Downing is not playing very well, so bring in Emnes. After a few games as sub, Downing may return to form and if Emnes/Jinky are on form as well, what a great situation, if not rotate.

Same as Digard, what has he done not to get a shout ahead of O'Neill who is also struggling. Just do the right thing and drop the players that are out of form, its a competitive game and competitiveness should be of paramount importance within a squad.

Posted by: allycat  | October 21, 2008 7:28 PM

Ste Mac wrote...

A couple of weeks ago we were laughing at Newcastle on here and praising Gibbo for sensible housekeeping, keeping the wage bill under control and giving the kids a chance. I still think that is generally a good thing.

If go down that route then we have to accept there are down sides. A small and young squad mean that a few injuries or suspensions then you are going to have to throw a couple of kids in. It is not ideal but that is where we are at.

You don't get to choose your games. It is just unfortunate that it was Chelsea when we had a defensive crisis. It can't be helped. I don't think we should beat ourselves up over it.

The important thing is how we respond. We need to prove a point now and bounce back with a good run. We have Poggy, maybe Tuncay, possibly Arca back for some very big games coming up.

My real worry is Alves. What is going on there? We need to get him back up and firing quickly or we are stuck with another Maccarone.

Posted by: Ste Mac  | October 21, 2008 10:56 PM

Forever Dormo wrote...

Another way of looking at things is that we will (probably) not have to worry about the Champions League next season.

With all the financial problems looming, I am not sure flights to Madrid, Moscow, Milan and Marseille would escape Management scrutiny. Ones to Barcelona, Basel, Bucharest and BATE (and where exactly is that?) would fare little better. Lvov, Lyons, Liverpool and Lisbon anyone?

Would the Champions League be more fun if all groups were organised alphabetically like that? Maybe the remnants, for whose initial letter there weren't enough teams to fill a group, kept as near to each other as possible eg Warsaw, Xanthi, Yalta and Zagreb. It must be getting late.....

Posted by: Forever Dormo  | October 21, 2008 10:58 PM

Benny Brown wrote...

We should put the Chelsea game in to perspective. If we are honest we will agree that Chelsea would have beaten just any other Club or International team in the World on that display, everything went their way and they exploited the situation to he limit. Let us see how Roma compete against Chelsea in the EUFA Cup on Wednesday.

We should not be to worried about this result as the Boro will pick themselves up and compete against lesser opposition well in the remaining games in the Premier League.

We will never ever be on equal terms with the top Four teams in the Premier League and will battle to gain a spot in the top ten. Let us be grateful for small mall mercies when we look at other ex Premier Teams who have fallen from he Premier League recently. ie Leeds, Southampton Leicester, Notts Forrest, Coventry, and many others who are in dire financial and status positions.

Look on the bright side Boro fans we are still up there with the top club teams in the world and doing OK.

Posted by: Benny Brown  | October 22, 2008 8:56 AM

John Powls wrote...

Getting the badly needed creative midfielder in?

There's not a hope in hell of us getting Defour - even if the alleged opposition wasn't A. Whinger of the Gunners.

Despite his tender years, Defour's captain of his club and country, with twenty plus caps to his name; his club are sitting at the top of their domestic league with every prospect of Champs League again next season and will likely top their UEFA Cup group by Xmas with a more than good chance of winning it.

Warming the bench at Whitby the North Riding Senior Cup in February as another 'one for the future' might not have the same allure!

Even if, by some miracle, he could be personally persuaded, £8m is the least of it. His lesser ex-colleague, Felainie, joined Everton from Standard in August for £15m.

I think it will depend on where Arsenal are by Xmas whether they pursue him in January because he will be Euro cup-tied for most of the rest of this season - but may be 'one for the future' for them.

As I've said before, if we're thinking of raiding the Standard midfield - and we could persuade any of them to leave for Boro (why would they?) - then Axel Witsel and especially the right winger Dalmat are much better bets.

Other potential targets - well, I think Bullard could be good and got fairly reasonably but would he come North again?

Nolan - as suggested above - has some of the qualities needed but, again, would he move from the North West for Boro?

So far as I know, Stephen Appiah is still a free agent. I suspect that many of the big clubs he might aspire to will not want to take a punt until he's proved his fitness after injury and he may now be tempering the massive wage demands he is alleged to have in favour of actually getting a game and putting himself in the shop window with a club where he wouldn't be cup tied for Europe.

An appropriately flexible contract might secure him now rather than having to wait until January. Then, who knows.

But, attracting players is also influenced by how Boro are playing and where they are in the Prem. Last Saturday was not something that anyone in their right senses would want to put themselves into the middle of.

So, the stretch of eight games coming up is doubly important - both to get Boro back on track and to make The Riverside a more attractive proposition for players we need to bring in.

Just so long as the geniuses in the scouting fraternity don't get back into the James Harper rut.

Posted by: John Powls  | October 22, 2008 9:35 AM

Nigel wrote...

Paul Bell - Personal insults is it? Very impressive.

Posted by: Nigel  | October 22, 2008 9:59 AM

Paul Bell wrote...

"personal insults", get a backbone laddie, besides there was only one :D!

Posted by: Paul Bell  | October 22, 2008 10:39 AM

nick, brisbane wrote...

The dust hasn't even settled on his Manager of the Month award and the knives are out once again. Having watched the match with the lads in the Pig n Whistle we were again devastated to watch an inept display - not seen since .. well actually since Cardiff last year.

Does the man not learn ? Did he give another poor team talk? Poor prep for the match ? After half time the players came out laughing and joking. Whats is going on?

Rumour has it that Gary O'Neil was Man of the Match - surely not? He was useless, running around like a headless chicken , with no idea what to do with the ball when he actually got it.

No subs for the beginning of the second half, no, wait till its 4-0 must have been the message through Coops earpiece- who was he talking to? Or was he listening to Brownlee on the radio so gaining a "clear" view of the match?

We have to learn is the message - didnt we learn after Cardiff? Even Wigan should have beat us.Yes lets learn the lesson that we should have had O'Neill as Manager.

I dont expect Champions league qualification. Mid table, security by March and a good cup run every now and again is a realistic ambition - but worringly we dont look like we will even achieve that.

Posted by: nick, brisbane  | October 22, 2008 11:31 AM

jc wrote...

If every third pass goes astray, you will struggle against any team.

I read today that our "new signing" Bates just needs 20% more lungs. Can I suggest that while MFC are procuring those, they look into O'Neil's need for 50% more eyes, Huth's 50% more feet and ankles, and Mido's 20% less... just less.

I also read that Bill Crosby thinks that “Afonso has had chances and he has not scored. But he does get in the box and that’s where you want your strikers to be." If only I'd known that that's all you need to do as a PL striker, my future would've been secured!

Posted by: jc  | October 22, 2008 1:35 PM

John Powls wrote...

Boro seem to be on every agent inspired 'being linked with' story at the moment but, interestingly, more about strikers than midfielders.

Amazingly, with the Alves experience and that Gate et al don't fancy Emnes, one of those being touted is the latest leading scorer in the Dutch league.

The other seems to be some hotshot who's banging in goals in that well known hotspot for top notch talent - the Austrian league.

Are they wondering if Boro know that the powers that be are thinking of removing 'gullible' from the dictionary?

I see that Malcolm Crosby says that the coaches have faith in Alves.

If what Mr. Crosby - that proto Invisible Man - has to say has as much weight with Alves as it does with everyone else then we shouldn't be looking for the Brazilian to net anytime soon.

It would be useful in helping us all focus on the coming game at Blackburn if the club would say something about where things stood on injuries.

Will Hoyte be fit? If not, when?

The fact that it's 'all gone quiet over there' again on Tuncay may indicate that he's not as close as we were told he was.

Not much new on Arca yet either. Less of a loss in my view - but at least he's an option.

That's before we get onto any crop of new injuries from this week.

Good to see young Bates making a return but I was mystified not to see Hines - who has also played right, as well as centre, back in the first team at least on the bench against Chelski.

Any idea why AV?

**AV writes: Hines has been out a long time with a few different injuries and is well short on fitness. He played most of the ressies last night but won't be a contender for a while and while he has been out the likes of Grounds, Williams, Johnston have nudged ahead in the pecking order. He will need to work hard to get back where he was.

Posted by: John Powls  | October 22, 2008 2:26 PM

Barwick Bob wrote...

One thing the last few games has showed is exactly how important Tuncay is to the team.

He is the one who links up a plodding midfield with the attack, makes the runs for Downing and Ali to look good by slotting passes through, plays well with Alves.

The sooner he is back the better.

Posted by: Barwick Bob  | October 22, 2008 3:24 PM

Ian Gill wrote...


MFC website stated Tuncay was in light training. Loosely translated 'dont really know' in true Mavis fashion.

Good to see Bates get a run out and interesting that though he sees himself as a centre back he recognises there may be an opportunity at right back. Wonder what the collective noun is for square pegs? Makes the selling of Young look a bit unwise not that anyone has noticed we are a bit lacking in experience or right backs.

Maybe Alves or Emnes can play there.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | October 22, 2008 3:28 PM

jc wrote...

Collective noun for square pegs...An Incongruity? A Jumble? An Incompatibility? An Eccentricity? A Cacophany?

Thesauruses are great, aren't they?

**AV writes: A Pro-licence?

Posted by: jc  | October 22, 2008 4:12 PM

Jon Finland wrote...

First time on here...

I live abroad so had to let the season ticket go a few years ago, i do see most of the games live on TV now though. The Chelsea game was embarrasing...

I agree with all the comments about lack of passion (apart from Mido), if you cant raise your game against the top teams then there is no hope!

I think a lot of this sits at GS door, I really don't think he can motivate, and he has had long enough now to prove this.

I think he should have played Mido and Alves on Saturday. Why has he paid the best part of £7 Million for Digard and Emnes and does not play them? Our strikers cant score with poor service!

Downing captain? Why? i did not see him once trying to raise the lads on Saturday..
Downing should be given a rest from the team anyway.

We should have signed an experienced keeper....if you defence is young they need the confidence behind them.

I watched Boeteng for Hull on Saturday, his legs may have gone but you can still see him work like hell and hold the midfield together...

I really hope Saturday is better, this is the biggest test ( after Cardiff) for GS.

Up The Boro

Posted by: Jon Finland  | October 22, 2008 4:21 PM

Nigel wrote...

Paul Bell - There is nothing wrong with my backbone, what you wrote was simply un-called for, end of.

Posted by: Nigel  | October 22, 2008 4:49 PM

Ian Gill  wrote...


How about a plethora?

The pro licence is very good, I must admit it has been noted and commented upon that as Gate progresses towards his licence he is seeming to become imbued with manager speak and traits such as square peggism.

Even the most senior managers are prone to outbreaks of this curse. It would be interesting to work upwards from grass roots football to see if this is a pavlovian response to coach education. Maybe they have a lobotomy before they can get the pro licence.

One suspects that at 'uncoached coach' football teams they will play the players in the positions best suited to the skills of the players. Johnny is left footed and tricky so we will play him on the left side of the pitch, Dave is tall and good at basketball so goalie may be okay, Jane is not lightning quick but has the knack of being in the right position so may be good at centre half.(sneaked some political correctness in there)

As they progress up the coaching pyramid then ideology takes over, at the apex square peggism becomes the norm. Even Sir Alex has now admitted Rooney is best at playing behind the main striker, something his aunt Dorothy would have known instinctively. Maybe the kicking of water bottles, swearing, chasing all over to kick people and trying to get the ball plus not scoring are not sufficient clues.

Just a theory and apologies to all qualified coaches because I havent got a clue what they are taught.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | October 22, 2008 6:03 PM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

Bring on Blackburn, The Chelsea [ result?] is motivation enough for the lads. The game cant come soon enough to get rid of this stale smell.
Nigel and Paul Bell are going on like Harry Enfields scousers- Now ey, ey , ey , ey, now ey.
I agree with some comments about the silent supporters who cant wait to beat the traffic being soft, but that display reminded me of when I stayed till the end 2 seasons ago to watch Pompy or Kanu urinate on us.
Celtic fought well the other night but it didnt stop Man U putting 3 past them.
The gap between the top 4 and the rest is a country mile. End of-

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | October 22, 2008 6:12 PM

BR14 wrote...

Anyone who has watched Chelsea under Scolari must recognise the transition.

It's hard to believe, but Chelsea are significantly better than they were under Mourinho, and now play an attractive pass and move style that is impossible to beat for mere mortals.

All the more amazing then, that our manager decided to play a four in midfield against the Chelsea superstars.

There were times against Chelsea when our midfield were run ragged against the effortless movement of Lampard, Belletti and Mikel.

Any manager in the bottom 16 watching the Chelsea game against Villa will have realised the pointlessness of an attacking style against todays Chelsea.

I can only assume Mr Southgate hadn't done his homework.

Pity his young charges in defence had to pay the price for his lack of preparation.

Posted by: BR14  | October 22, 2008 7:07 PM

Richard wrote...

Maybe time for a bit of light relief from all the post-Chelski emotional fallout:


Posted by: Richard  | October 22, 2008 7:54 PM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

Ian Gill, who is this Jane you speak of? we could do with a decent Keeper.
Too be fair Ross Turnbull didnt stand much of a chance as it was a shambles in front of him against Chelsea. We must have tired them out for Roma as they didnt score many.

I dont want to hear about learning lessons from Gate after Blackburn!

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | October 23, 2008 8:48 AM

Ian Gill wrote...


It would easy to pick on Turnbull but the shambles in front of him would affect anyone. He made one mistake but the game had already long gone. I am happier with Ross than Jones.

The match certainly affected us fans, I have had a dreadful week amongst local fans - 'are you Derby in disguise?'

Got to get us fired up for the rough and tumble of Blackburn.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | October 23, 2008 9:52 AM

Ian Gill wrote...


Just noticed that in response to John about injuries you didnt mention Tuncay.
Was that a slip or do we not have any news on him?

Like many players who are absent, they improve markedly when they are not playing.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | October 23, 2008 11:31 AM

Bomber wrote...

I think it is fair enough for fans to leave early after suffering such an inept performance from Boro. If the team can't be bothered to turn up, why should the fans be subject to further frustration and misery? Afterall, they are paying consumers and are entitled to vote with their feet. This mauling reminds me of sitting through the 7-0 defeat by Arsenal in 06 (memorably sitting with the home supporters!). Hopeless men against boys stuff. The difference this time is that we allegedly have a better team now than we did on that day. Let's hope this is a statistical outlier but unless the team starts playing as a team and Alves finds his shooting boots soon, the season is going be very disappointing

Posted by: Bomber  | October 23, 2008 11:31 AM


It's St Cripians day Satda, get yersels to Blackburn, Sheakspeare wrote for this date, Oct 25th, though he got the battle and the year wrong (Agincourt 1415)
"men abed in Teesside will think themselves accursed they were not here this day" what he actually meant was the Battle of Ewood 2008,

Posted by: CAPTAINPARMO  | October 23, 2008 12:54 PM

Werdermouth wrote...

Looking ahead to the Blackburn game, I'd like to see a more solid performance from the team - which is going to mean making a few changes.

Grounds looked out of his depth at right-back and Hoyte is yet to convince - given his experience on the right, I would be tempted to move
O'Neil there.

Also out would go Taylor to replaced with Pogi.

And if Alves was deemed worthy of being benched then so does Downing, to be replaced with Johnson in his natural position.

I'd also bring Arca into a three-man central midfield with Digard and Shawky, with Ali on the right and starting with Mido up front.

So the team would be:


O'Neil - Wheater - Riggot - Pogi

Ali - Shawky - Digard - Arca - Johnson


Subs: Alves, Downing, Emnes, Taylor, Hoyte

Posted by: Werdermouth  | October 23, 2008 1:03 PM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

Ian Gill,

Dreadful week is right old boy, I have had my kids saying they want to support Arsenal for gods sake. I felt like ashamed when I sent them out to football training with their Boro strips on. Its payback time for the team as they owe us a performance- that is if any of them care.
Hope you are reading Gareth, getting it wrong is part of being human [ should have tried to change it though] ,but no motivation at this level with these wages is beyond belief mate!

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | October 23, 2008 1:46 PM

Stew wrote...

A management of square pegs?

An En-ger-lund midfield of square pegs?

I don't have any coaching qualifications either, but with qualities like that I'd have played Jane up front...

I've got a nice little stat for the optimists amongst us - from the last 6 games against Blackburn, we've gained a total of...1 point!!
But we're due a performance against Rovers, and the team owes the fans big time after last weeks shambolic effort, so I might have a dabble on a 1-0/Aliadiere double...

And I wonder what the odds on Wheater at right back are...

Posted by: Stew  | October 23, 2008 1:49 PM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

Stew, this Jane sounds like a bit of alright mate- 'Jane is not lightning quick but has the knack of being in the right position' Fwwwarr

Viz style jokes aside, we already have enough Janes on the pitch ,we need Tarzan. And playing Grounds at right back , well you may as well play Cheetah.

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | October 23, 2008 4:26 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

As the inventor of Jane I should remind you she is a fictional character and bears no resemblance to any Jane living or deceased.

Besides, the problem is not Jane's but we have plenty of Mavis Wilton's in the squad and coaching staff, ask a question and the response is likely to be 'I dont really know'

Posted by: Ian Gill  | October 23, 2008 6:34 PM

ian Gill wrote...


Many thanks


Posted by: ian Gill  | October 23, 2008 8:12 PM

Forever Dormo wrote...

Ian Gill and Ignorant of Boroland - I am seriously miffed here. Yesterday,
before sitting down for what turned out to be several hours of work, I typed out a fairly (well actually very) long piece for this blog. Made the cardinal error or not saving it and cutting and pasting into this box before submitting it.

Result - a message saying something along the lines of "You have attempted to post too many messages in too short a time. Please try again later".

Two issues here for AV. Firstly how many posts are allowed (or is it a secret, and I am on tenterhooks as to whether this message will arrive)? Secondly, has anyone checked the number and frequency of the IG and Ignorant posts above? Maybe someone is out to get me after all.

Are the good-looking guys on here being penalised unjustly?

**AV writes: Hey, I don't know how this thing works you know. I've never had the bonnet up. Maybe it is not so much number of posts per hour as words per post that the system can't deal with.

I'll ask the question. Is anyone else still having problems with using the blog?

Posted by: Forever Dormo  | October 23, 2008 10:08 PM

Forever Dormo wrote...

It has taken a while, and a lost post, but can I hark back to Ian Gill at 6.03pm on 22.10.08, when he was referring to the Pro Licence and “square peggism”?

I sometimes wonder whether some of the “modern techniques” in professional football are necessarily beneficial. I sometimes wonder whether this is an Emperor’s New Clothes situation. Imagine the position that might apply in 100 years time, when the Sports Academy Principal begins his (or, because we are also aware of political correctness here, her) first lecture to the students. Might it go like this:

“The most popular sport a century ago was football. We know much about it because our historians have spent time researching the relevant source materials, including the written media and particularly the blogs written by many of the sport’s most fervent followers. The information given in ancient times to those in management and training positions seems to our modern minds rather amusing. Let me remind you.”

“There was a time when much thought was given to the advisability of whether to have players warm up on the sidelines using cycle machines; there was a time when discussion was held over whether to have heated seats for substitute players as they awaited the call from the coach. There was even a time when it was thought acceptable for players to “refuel” their athletic machines using alcohol, and players in certain regions enjoyed particular diets that hadn’t been meticulously researched. Players on Teesside appear to have developed an unaccountable taste for a local delicacy called the “Parmo”, with consequent effects on some waistlines, and some on Merseyside must have taken to their local dish as they appear to have been nicknamed “Scousers”.

“Some clubs thought it sensible to try to save money on players by purchasing those who were injured or at least had a long history of injury before the purchase. Even then substantial fees were still paid and the players were put on good contracts while the medics and the trainers got to work on the new additions to the club. The situation existed where some supporters went away to college, returned, got married (when that was still popular) and had children, some even worked until retirement before seeing the cut-price players on the pitch for consecutive games.”

“Some managers had been schooled in the practice of selling experienced players and then putting youngsters into the gap, out of position, but on the basis that they “had played there in the under 14s”. To be fair that wasn’t something tried by too many of the successful managers in those far-off times, but the more successful ones hadn’t been on the Pro Licence course but had learned their trade the hard way in the lower reaches.”

“Of course football suffered in due course for these and other ideas. The position was made worse by the way in which the finances of the game progressed. Football went mad. Ticket prices went up so that fewer could afford them. TV took over, paying large sums that were almost all immediately passed on to the players, but meant that games were often played at times inconvenient to the supporters. The game was hyped, all games were said to be vital and exciting in this “World’s favourite League”, and there was an endless succession of Super Saturdays, Super Sundays, Judgement Days, Double Headers etc.”

“As reality broke through, crowds diminished and supporters took to staying at home or watching with friends at establishments where the matches were incidental to the sale of alcohol. Gaps started to appear on the terraces, and the TV companies began to dub crowd noises onto their match commentaries in a bid to beef up the atmosphere. This was a trick that failed to survive the notorious incident when repeated choruses of “There’s only one Kevin Keegan” and “Get rid of the Cockney Mafia” were heard at a West Ham v Spurs game. In 2009”

“Seeing potential problems, the larger clubs left the domestic leagues to play in the ten European Champions Leagues. However since none of them could bear to be considered less than pre-eminent, each league was a Premier League, a Primera Liga etc (each of the other eight leagues having a similar name in other European languages). Each of them wanted to be first among equals. People were not fooled.”

“When supporters, who could no longer raise the mortgages required to pay for season tickets, decided to cut their losses some went to follow teams in the lower leagues and at first were pleased to see “real football, with real challenges and without players rolling on the ground in apparent agony after brushing against an opponent”. The teams in the lower leagues at first benefited from increased media payments but it was noticeable that their players tended to arrive for games in their own (and only) Merc or Porche, rather than the personalised helicopters of the Premier League and European League team players. It all ended in tears.”

“You may be aware that with the reduction in popularity of the games, and with the large number of foreign owners deciding after the financial crash of 2017 to take out their money, and with TV audiences in terminal decline, not only the Premier clubs but also the lower leagues began to fail, and by 2019 the whole edifice collapsed. The game was bankrupt – which is why we are here!”

“Audiences for blindfolded pig sticking and for pro-celebrity Macrame have shown a healthy upsurge for some decades. New forms of relay and underwater Macrame began to take hold, whose rules were standardised by the approved schools and prisons which specialised in these pastimes. Of course there were eventually problems when those teams preferring to maintain an amateur status (Union Macrame) separated from those for whom payment of players was necessary to make up lost wages (Macame League), but they have both built up an enthusiastic following.”

“Having learned the lessons of sports past, we are here today to assist you in learning the proper management of Macrame teams, so that the pastime can move from success to success and avoid the pitfalls that befell football. So we have set up a series of workshops dealing with issues of diet, proper diagnosis and treatment of injuries, warming up so as to avoid injury, the art of good team selection (for which we have set up a matrix to help those who have difficulty telling the difference between a square and a round peg, and where we explore a number of other interesting shapes), and we will spend time considering the vexed question of whether we should consider the interests of the paying public. We will help you drive our favourite pastime forward….……..”

Well, it could happen. Couldn’t it?

Posted by: Forever Dormo  | October 24, 2008 12:41 AM

Richard wrote...

FD: A cracker that, man! Was it you who head-hunted MY secretary? You must have been typing with stumps at the end if that! Worth it though. A beezer!

Posted by: Richard  | October 24, 2008 1:43 AM

Ian Gill wrote...

Forever Dormo

If I had feelings you would have hurt them, why do you think Ignorant and I are not good looking?

I must admit I have had the same message even when I havent posted for a couple of days (believe it or not). I toyed with idea it was MFC intercepting the posts and trying to airbrush items from history but as AV has kindly reassured me that the Gazette is not infiltrated set that theory aside.

There are occasional difficulties in posting to Boro Banter - I wonder if the low number of responses is because you cant post!

There appear to be several issues with the systems and yours is the most frustrating, you shouldnt need to copy and paste items, if it doesnt allow you to post the software shouldnt just delete your message.

By the way, an excellant piece.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | October 24, 2008 9:11 AM

Richard wrote...

Forever Dormo:

"Are the good-looking guys on here being penalised unjustly?"

Definitely! But that goes along with suffering with Boronoia!

But look at it this way - Downing can't hit the spot, either , so we're in good company! Hey, too many more of these failures to (even hit the) post and there might be promotion in it for us! Fancy an armband?

Posted by: Richard  | October 24, 2008 11:35 AM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

Forever Dormo, The way this blog works is a bit like a woman, its a mass of contradicting emotions. I could go on like 'Swiss Tony' but I will leave it.

As far as good looks go , I was looking like a Picasso portrait from the 40s-during the Chelsea display- my left eye moved over next to my right , both of em tearful on one side of my head.Then my mouth started to shrink and recede [ like I had been chinned non stop] I may as well have been wearing a painterly womans hat!

There is a comparison between the Riverside and the Picasso museum in Malaga, both are cheaper to get in than some other places in the same league. However the work on display inside is often of a lower standard and paintings\players that should feature are often out on loan or even damaged. Both establishments have also had to sell some of their prize assets to balance the books.

**AV writes: Cultured readers or what?

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | October 24, 2008 2:09 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

just been thrown out for too many in a short time, thrown out last night due to 'not putting name and email'. both wrong.

I must be a real good looker

Posted by: Ian Gill  | October 25, 2008 9:52 AM

John Powls wrote...

Can you believe it!

Didn't bring back McMahon from his 'Blue (and White) Period' when Hoyte was injured before the Chelski game - a very blue period for Boro.

Now that Hoyte is on the way back and McMahon is just starting a three game ban Boro bring him back.

My prediction - McMahon is injured in training just before he completes his ban and Hoyte succumbs to a recurrence of his injury at the same time at the 'Guernica' that is Hurworth.

Also see that TLF wants to come back for a pre-retirement, last hurrrah in a pre-season game for Boro.

That would be one pre-season game (against Athletico Madrid perhaps?) that there would be no problem hosting at The Riverside!

Whilst we're on the topic, if TLF has ideas about coaching attacking play then he could be back at Boro for longer than one game.

Posted by: John Powls  | October 25, 2008 11:02 AM

Forever Dormo wrote...

In the long post from 12.14am (above) mention could have been made of the recent incidence of players who are injured going abroad for medical assessment and/or treatment. When did the medical facilities in, let's just say, Argentina and Egypt overtake those in Europe? I mean, we are not talking NHS for our players, but Harley Street or its regional equivalent!

As to good looks I think Ignorant has hit the nail on the head. There used to be a TV makeover programme where women had some work done with the objective of making them look 10 years younger. Watching some of the games at the Riverside has the effect of adding a decade to even the most baby-faced supporter, and it does nothing for the health of your follicles. You know it's not good for your health to follow Boro but you feel compelled to keep going - it must be an addiction.

Anyway, and to keep this short - we need a show of commitment and organisation today at Blackburn. Where there's life there's hope and I would be more than happy with a 1-1 draw. A win, however, would go some way to wiping out the nightmare that was Chelsea, but it might cause the glass to overflow.

Posted by: Forever Dormo  | October 25, 2008 1:15 PM

Redcar Red wrote...

Don't know if this post will appear as my last few have disappeared just as Boro's defence does in the last 5 mins!

AV, I have been getting messages saying I have over posted in a short timframe and been rejected. I'm starting to get symptoms of Mendietaitis!

Posted by: Redcar Red  | October 25, 2008 8:34 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

name - check
email address - check
last post - 9.52am on 25/10 - check

I would have settled 1-1 before the match. The offside goal and injury time equaliser are blows.

Not as solid as at Wigan. What is of concern is 61% passing success, no wonder possession, territory and shots stats are so poor.

It cant help that defence and midfield are pick and mix selections. We need some continuity.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | October 26, 2008 9:24 AM

Nigel  wrote...

A good result yesterday, even if it was disapointing to conceed in the last couple of minutes yet again.
I would have taken a point before the game without a doubt. In the last three games we've played two away and Chelsea at home and have a return of four points, again I would have taken that three games ago.
We're reasonably well placed with two home games to come in the next week, six points may be a little too much to ask for but four has to be the minimum target, which would leave us mid-table after the magic 10/11 game mark and set us up for a season with the potential to finish in the top ten which would be good progress over the past couple of seasons.
Finally, it was good to see Alves score, lets hope he is boosted by that and scores a few more in the coming games.

Posted by: Nigel  | October 26, 2008 11:03 AM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

Nigel, there is no way Alves is gonna score more unless the rest of the team get the ball to his feet in and around the 18 yard box .
Yesterday it happened twice the first he curled just wide and the second was , 1st touch to trap the ball second to quickly play it out from his and the defenders body and the third - get in you buggar! Back of the net.
For nearly almost all of the game we were overrun in midfeild like we had a player less. Downing looked like he didnt want to be there and never took the defender on to try and get passed him. Aliadiere on the other hand fought valiantly and tried to dribble past Blackburn and pass forward. He was more than a handful and Blackburn resorted to fouling him. The rest of our midfield hardly even kept the ball and stray passes forward or back to Turbull to lump forward were just giving Blackburn the ball to pass through us constantly and get into the final third.
It appears we as zonal marking and most teams like Chelsea are just passing into the space.
Good to see Tuncay back and a shame that his goal was ruled out as it was not offside .However being fair ,Taylor did a hand of God clearing header as he knew he was beaten once again by Emerton in the area. Lucky to get away with it as it could have cost us the match . I never want to see that type of thing again.
Taylor is working hard but I wonder how many other prem teams he would get in?
The squad is paper thin, no competition for places and so the players will be picked no matter what their form, how many more abject performances from Downing before Jinky gets a start?
We need to buy/loan a central midfielder with some attacking vision to get up and support the attack.Every good team has one and I am starting to agree with me of the posters who say play Tuncay in his position for Turkey and put him next to Digard , move O'Niel back out to the right [ even though it was me begging for him to be brought inside]and play Aliadiere up front with Alves.
Southgate is not at all canny in these interviews and his honesty seems naive.

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | October 26, 2008 7:21 PM

malc wrote...

I'm so angry at the match officials and our players. Tuncay was yards onside and with that in we'd likely scored a few. Seconfly, it's not southgate's fault our players lack the necessary backbone to see a game through to its conclusion.

Posted by: malc  | October 27, 2008 4:27 AM

John Powls wrote...

The Monday’s, besotted with Scousers and ‘Arry only carried Gate’s Monday’s quote on why Boro concede late so often.

Apparently it’s 1) loss of concentration due to tiredness and 2) anxiety because they are worried about conceding. Oh, yes?

Well, I could add 3) a chronic inability to defend corners.

And, oh, by the way – two of the three should be remedied in training and if this problem hadn’t gone addressed so long they wouldn’t be anxious, poor dears.

Posted by: John Powls  | October 27, 2008 8:32 AM

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