Teesside Steel Forges Win At Wigan

By Anthony Vickers on Oct 6, 08 09:28 AM

TEESSIDE steel! That was the key as industrious Boro forged a first away win of the year and a first clean sheet this term. It was far from pretty but after weeks of aesthetically pleasing but frustratingly fruitless football - and relentlessly mounting political pressure - even the hardline purists were ready for a bit of rough.

So it was back to basics as a makeshift Boro side sacrificed sexy and stylish for perspiration and pragmatism. While the hallmark of the season so far has been fluid forward movement and silky skill creating chances by the lorry load, the win ugly trip to Wigan was built on shackling the opposition, gritty defending and getting a lot of bodies behind - or at least in the way of - the ball.

And in a delicious twist after weeks of being left reeling at the death, the outcome was that Boro soaked up the pressure then landed a late sucker punch that left the opposition manager, players and furious fans feeling they had been mugged. Result.

The plaudits rightly go to the scratch defence, a unit that had never played together before and would not have been anyone's dream team selection at the start of the season. With Andrew Taylor injured and Emanuel Pogatetz banned Jonathan Grounds was recalled from a loan spell at Norwich to make his first start of the season while perennial stand-in Chris Riggott was promoted from the second string after perma-crock Robert Huth turned an ankle in training on Thursday. Justin Hoyte has shown signs of being a good footballer but had not played on a winning side in the league for Boro yet while David Wheater, a sensation last season, had been off colour in recent weeks.

These last men standing were lined up in front of a rookie shot-stopper who last season would only play in the event of a dire injury crisis but who the boss has taken a gamble on - one that so far has paid off.

Yet the back five put in a display of tungsten toughness to comfortably hold at bay an in -form front-line of the Premier League's top scorer Amr Zaki - Mido's Egypt strike partner - and Boro's long time tormentor Emile Heskey plus a lively midfield that got forward quickly in numbers. Valencia and Palacios were fast and direct and surged forward at every opportunity as Wigan attacked with real intent.

But Boro coped well. The defence cvoncentrated and were alert, they closed quickly, were tenacious in the tackle, held a disciplined line at the back and made the correct decisions as they switched to cover for each other. The well organised unit were completely unphased by Wigan's neat movement. Even in a rocky spell of intense pressure midway through the first half when a goal looked inevitable they did not crack.

In fact having put so much into that flurry Wigan soon faded and in the first half they were being restricted to long range efforts - some spectacularly inaccurate - that rarely tested Turnbull. They had the bulk of possession but looked incapable of making it count.

After the break the home side stepped up the tempo and pushed more men forward but for all the pressure they could still not break through and as they got more frustrated and frantic they increasingly resorted to high balls pumped into the box which Wheater and Riggott relished. It looked like heading practice for them.

On the few occasions that Wigan did manage to find a way through, the fast-improving Turnbull was magnificent, pulling off a string of superb saves, going full length to twice deny Palacios and then bravely charging out to put his chest in the way of a close range Heskey effort late on.

It wasn't always pleasing on the eye. It was scrappy and untidy and at times there were so many men rushing around and going toe-to-toe it was as congested and chaotic in the Boro box as an inner-city riot.

But while they deservedly took the praise for the clean sheet, the defensive grit was not exclusively at the back. The whole team got stuck in. Boro's engine-room duo of flu victim Gary O'Neil and Mohamed Shawky hared around flying into tackles, snapping at heels, closing down across the middle third and blocking runs.
Shawky in particular was putting himself about and ended up battered and bruised and raked with stud marks after being on the wrong end of yellow card tackles from Zaki and Lee Cattermole.

The former Boro boy deserves a passing mention as the stage was set for him to embarrass his former boss and show that it was a mistake to let him go. In fact Hurricane Catts quickly blew itself out after a fast and furious first ten minutes and in a passage of play late in the first half many will find familiar he was hustled off the ball by O'Neil as he failed to control then in an attempt to recover the situation charged after Shawky and stetched into a tackle he was never going to win, tweaking his dodgy hamstringand picking up a yellow card to boot. After that he was rarely involved in the action.

The strikers helped out too. They may not have been a constant threat in the Wigan box but off c olour Afonso Alves - who played long spells as a holding midfielder out on the left blocking the marauding full-back and leaving Stewie in a free role through the middle - and towering targetman Mido often chased back to defend and both made decent tackles on the edge of their own box.

In fact, at one point in the second half, when Boro were under the cosh, Mido was playing so deep he slipped into the George Boateng destroyer role, patrolling in front of the back four flying into tackles he had no right to make. He seemed determined to be the best Egyptian on the pitch. Unless, as one cynic suggested, he was out to impress would-be boss Steve Bruce.

That the strikers were so deep explains why Boro had so few chances and why they found it so hard to relieve the pressure. There was no obvious outlet when the ball was played forward and clearances were falling to Wigan players and coming straight back. Sitting back is a high risk strategy that has cost dearly in the past, not least at Liverpool.

This time it paid off. Wigan over-committed men forward and in the closing spell Boro several times broke out to threaten before Jeremie Aliadiere got a last gasp winner aided and abeted by Didier Digard, whose timely arrival in place of Shawky helped change the shape of the game, and a neat cushioned header from Downing. The winner, when it came, was celebrated with admirable gusto and an intensity that suggested the players were well aware exactly how important it was.

The spirit, the work-rate, the mentality, the strength and the steel at the back all deserve praise and we should not under-estimate how important it was to go back to basics to stop the rot... but you wouldn't want to watch it every week.


Mac in Baku said:

Oh yea of little faith - yes I'm talking to you Tony Black.
The defence were heroic, our "dodgy" goalie played a blinder and it was nice to get a bit of luck coming our way for a change.
Delighted for Aliadiere and the whole team.
Gareth was right when he said we had played better football in the previous 2 games and lost. Will take the three points and enjoy bragging rights in the Garage for the next 2 weeks sitting above the Mackems and Skunks.

Ian Gill said:

The basis appeared to be a defence that held a higher line under pressure. That was what was crucial in the Turnbull save from Heskey. He wasnt hindered by a shop full of replica shirts in the six yard box so could come and block the effort.

It is also why most of the saves Turnbull had to make were of the routine variety. Yes they had to be made but they were not of the 'clawed out of the top corner' variety, just in the right position to do what he is paid for. That will do for me.

As I posted in the last thread the passing was poor but we kept going. Bringing on Digard brought renewed energy as did Jinky. half expected Emnes to replace Aliadiere but just as well he didnt.

As John Powls mentioned in the last thread, Stewie has been called up for England. As we are off to the match we have gone into twice a day training sessions. Downing - boooooo!

james emmerson said:

Did anybody else notice perhaps the most amazing thing about Saturday?

...No yellow cards for Boro!

AV, do you or anybody else know when the last game was when that was the case? A sight longer ago than our last away win methinks!

Richard said:

It's points that make prizes!

Ask Brucie!

tim from sa said:

I going to say we should leave the back four alone now they deserve another chance, well that has proberbly sorted itself out due to injury.
Not pretty stuff but the end result great. Well done Boro.
Ali was in the position he should be for the goal but we persist to play him on the right he would be far more effective up front with one of the other two.

Aberdeen Brian said:

Sometimes you just have to win ugly - I'll take those just as much as the silky smooth wins.

Plus there was the double bonus of the boot being on the other foot for a change, and a clean sheet.

Not forgetting the part played by young Turnbull either! He seems to be settling down a bit now he's had the chance of a run of games. Mind you it would be nice to see a settled defence in front of him, but the players who have stepped up to the mark aren't doing so bad.

Could have done without Chelsea as the next game, but it will be a test of how far we've come. Watched them on MOTD yesterday and they destroyed Villa - not many teams will do that this season.

I'm a bit concerned over the medium-to-long-term injury list. With the size of squad,(plus the age demographic) we are a bit short on seasoned players.
Having said that, we haven't had a lot of success over the past couple of seasons even with seasoned players in the team.
Maybe it's fate stepping in to allow younger players to force their way into the team and have their head. I'm thinking of the young Leeds team that David O'Leary put together before it all went wrong because of Peter Ridsdale's management strategy.

Anyway, for the time being I'm just going to enjoy the good feelings of the moment.


'Ignorant' of Boroland said:

Aliadiere saves our bacon! With lots of help from Turnbull, Weater and Riggot.

Mido or Alves may look like better bets to top our goal scoring charts but I think we need a speedy player to partner one of them up front as we will stretch defences more and get in behind.

Alves pointed to this when he said he enjoyed playing next to Tuncay. This may upset Mido or Alves [ whoever is benched] but I think it would improve the team play which is more important .
Emnes or Johnson could cover on the right.

Great result against Wigan !

tonyblack said:

Mac in Baku wrote...

Oh yea of little faith - yes I'm talking to you Tony Black.

No problem my friend. It was a great result and one that we needed.

I have absolutely no problem with your words as at the end of the day if GS and co do well then what's the problem??? I'll end up with egg on my chin, but so what, we will be doing well !

Long way to go though !

What I found refreshing more than anything else was seeing GS celebrating at the end which such passion and can only wish that he adds this to the way he communicates from the touchline when needed.

I LOVE these outbursts and was at a total loss to understand why he stopped doing it when he was captain.

He needs to impose himself a lot more from the touchline and he needs to be able to give the hairdryer treatment or the overwhelming passion and rallying call when required, rather than just clapping and applauding as he so often does.

So, yes, a great win and so much needed confidence that we can take into the Chelsea game where at the very least we want to be giving them a run for their money so that they know that they have to battle to beat us.

Teesside steal ?

Great !

MORE PLEASE and MORE of the same passion and heart Gareth that you showed at the end of the game.

Well done all.


P.s. Well done all. Something that I have ALWAYS added to my posts when we have won and I am only too happy to continue to do so and to be proved wrong.

But let's just see where we end up at the end of the season eh ?

Stew said:

Oh how nice it is to see the other side of the coin!
How many Boro games could be summed up as follows:
"started brightly"
"attacked with intent"
"faded away"
"sucker punch"
"manager, players and fans feeling they had been mugged"

I'm not about to start waving giant foam hands, but the team's performance on Saturday suggests to me that GS and the team are learning. The Wigans of the PL are the teams that we need to take points from, to push towards the top half of the table and away from flirtation with the bottom three (like most of last season).

GS was spot on, we played much better in the previous two games, but sometimes you need to win ugly. I think the management have done well, as the pressure was building on the team the longer the losing run went on. Defeats against Wigan and Chelsea and we'd have been pretty close to the bottom three.

I agree with Ignorant, I'd prefer to see Alves or Mido partnered by Aliadiere (at least until Tuncay returns), I think it would give us more options up front, bringing us back to the "who plays right mid" scenario. Emnes and Johnson are the obvious choices, but Jinky seems to be limited to brief substitute appearances and Emnes must be getting splinters in his backside by now! I find it strange that we haven't seen more of him, considering he finished last season in seemingly fine form (with 8 goals in 10 games if I recall correctly).

Full credit to the makeshift defence (and the other 6 infront of them) for a hard-working performance and a deserved win and clean sheet.

Here's hoping the international break is kinder to us this time around!

Trev.Jones said:

Wish Tony Black would (being polite here)..go away and support the barcodes or some other team,what a morbid knocker,wonder if he's ever played the game (apart from Redcar beach) It was a fantastic result, a tremendous team effort. He even has to get his little snide remark in....".wait till the end of the season" What a wally!!

Incidently, where are the Gibson out, Southgate's rubbish, need a goalie,(did you see the Fulham keeper in action,two clangers,two goals?) faction now? I've never heard knockers in the away support, maybe Tony might like to air his moans on an away game. Yes, I know he has the right to an opinion,but come on,every bleeding week,it's depressing.... Up The Boro !!!

paul bell said:

I see Alves only got 3/10 in the People on Sunday. Is the man going to perform or not?

By the way have you seen the next 6 games for MFC? I still think the squad is to small, and as i have said before , not spent enough in the transfer market. Will be lucky to escape relegation this season, if not it is only a matter of time, as SG, does not seem to have the finances these days, so all you fans getting carried away with the Wigan result, be wary, be very wary.

**AV writes: The other paul bell will be along in a minute to complain about this post....

g.dagger said:

The team spirit at Boro is very strong when you look at the players' celebrations when that goal went in. I don't think there's anything to worry about as far as Gareth's leadership and the bonding between the players is concerned.

In light of the seriousness of Huth's ankle injury and the forthcoming international fixtures, my biggest worry at the moment would be whether or not the already paper-thin squad will be reduced further during the coming weeks.

Hopefully, like on Saturday, luck will be on Boro's side during the coming weeks. Unfortunately though, rather than "luck", I would like to see them relying upon something a little more tangible.

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Turnbull and Wheater got in Garth Crooks team of the week-
Incidentally Chris Riggot was immense against Pompy as anyone who was there will tell you and should never have been dropped after that.
Him and Wheater infront of Ross Turnbull are my first choice.
Come on Gareth you should be loyal to performances on the pitch. Riggot and Aliadiere [ up front playing off Alves\Mido] are trying to tell you something!
Wasnt it aAliadiere's 2 assists that enabled Alves to score 2 against Man U in the snow?

Geoff said:

Who care's how you win as long as the points go on the board. Yes we were pushed about and made too work hard, but sometime's thats all it takes. The way the league is the quicker we get the points the better, maybe then we can watch the big team up the road suffer. Turnbull is starting to look the part, as I have seen in the reserves.
Wheats and the old man of the team Riggot looked the part and did there job on the strikers.
Just hope the internationals dont leave us with more injury's, it would be just typical if we do get them.

Forever Dormo said:

Come on, boys, let's stop being mean to each other. It was a great result and we should all enjoy it together.

I do agree that Riggott should get his start with Wheater even if Huth were to make a miracle recovery for the next game. And nobody I have heard has suggested Grounds wasn't up to the job despite his youth and relative inexperience.

As regards Emnes and when we might see him start a game I understand the view of some at the club is that he is a little "lightweight" and, although fast, still has a lot to learn. On the other hand, if you don't try him, you'll never know, and he might turn out better, sooner, than those doubting voices suspect. Faint heart never won fair lady as they used to say (or "who dares wins"). Must be worth a gamble on the right?

And finally...another gap in the schedule for the international games. We really could do without suffering some injuries whilst the players are travelling abroad.

I did have a discussion with several Boro supporters as we waited at Cologne/Bonn airport on our way to the almost mythical Eindhoven game. Given the choice of a Boro UEFA Cup win or a win by England at the World Cup the selection was overwhelming - bunting flying with enthusiasm as the Riverside waved home its heroes and England could go hang! We cannot afford injuries to our thin squad, whoever the lads are playing for. Keep the fingers crossed.

Ian Gill said:

Fence posts lead to splinters in the bum but never mind.

TB is right to hold Gate to his request to be judged at the end of the season just as are those who are delighted at the Wigan result can sniff their foam hands

The fact is we dropped points in previous matches because of poor displays in a crucial area of the pitch. If you defend properly you stand a chance of a point and maybe better from a game.

I am an advocate of Gates more attacking philosphy but you still need to defend a high line and mark people. If the win on Saturday was a result of a concerted effort to defend higher up the pitch then well done to the squad and coaches. If it happened by chance then we were lucky.

I believe it was the latter but gate and co have the chance to make me look a bigger fool than I already am.

I am also going to pay credit to Wigan and say their football in part caused us to defend more than we would have liked allied to an off day in our passing.

But, if we end up near the bottom at the end of 38 matches the judgement will be made on the performances of the team. As Richerd said, points make prizes.

Holgate Ender said:

Pretty attacking football is a blind alley unless you can afford the players to make it work like Arsenal and Man U.

We have been getting above our station with this illusion we can play like Arsenal and Man U when the players are not good enough or consistent enough.

That is why we cant beat ordinary but hard working sides like West Brom and the Mackems, not luck.

And that is why we can beat the likes of Wigan when we abandon the fancy ideas and get down and dirty. I want to see more of the steely scrapping and less of the over elaborate fannying about.

The time to play fancy dan stuff is when you are three up with ten minutes left.

bob said:

Well that's a relief and should allow the more faint hearted of us to put the razor blades back in the bathroom cabinet for another week or two.
The game seemed to have most of the things people were looking for:
- a clean sheet
- an away win
- a solid display from the inexperienced goalie
- a goal for a non-scoring forward
and of course 3 more points.
I was going to say 'a late goal in our favour for a change', because that was my perception, but I had second thoughts and looked up the facts, which surprised me.
Goals conceded in last 5 minutes which cost us points:
- 85 min and 90 min vs Liverpool (3 points)
- 86 min vs Portsmouth (1 point)
Goals scored in last 5 minutes which gained us points:
- 86 min vs Spurs (2 points)
- 85 min vs Stoke (2 points)
- 89 min vs Wigan (2 points)
So we've gained 6 points from late goals and lost 4. If you extend the definition of late goal to the last 10 minutes then you could add another lost point from the game at Sunderland...the first (decisive in terms of points) goal went in on 81 minutes, but even with this we're still ahead.
This suggests:
(1) we have a psychological strength in scoring late goals to set aside our much more heralded psychological weakness, and/or
(2) at least 3 other teams in our league share our psychological weakness of leaking late goals, and/or
(3) goals can fly in at either end at any time and have nothing to do with psychology!
Who knows!!
Agree with a few posters - I have a feeling our defence performs better as a unit when Riggot plays. That's a selection poser!

Richard said:

Holgate Ender: Right on the button with your comments about pretty and fast football. Well, I was with you right up to the last sentence.

Trouble is - and this is where the theory and practice are at loggerheads and why I can't see your last sentence being applicable to anything other than a team of Cybermen or Superman clones - if you've played fast, attacking, pretty football for 80 minutes to go three up, a) why would we want/need to play more of it and b) where would we get our energy from?

If you can be bothered, go here for more on this:

John Powls said:

Despite the views of his Mrs. I have been pleased that Gate hasn't taken either lucky/unlucky, when offered this season.

He doesn't take it again in relation to the current - or is it usual - crop of injuries. But he does say that 'that's football'.

But, clearly, he identified the problems of last season with lack of fitness, too many injuries and slow recovery from injuries as an issue - and said so.

Many of us welcomed that admission and also that he'd re-jigged the Hurworth regime and brought in Frank Nuttall to help change all of that.

Gate would have known that keeping the majority of the squad fit and available most of the time was vital anyway but even more when he chose to go with a small squad, inexperienced and young in many areas.

It was for the same reason that he also made his views known on last season's disciplinary issues so that we lost less 'downtime' to suspensions and spent less game time with players 'egg-shell treading' because they were on a yellow.

So, he obviously thought that it wasn't just 'that's football' and that something could be done about both issues.

I don't know - and I should - how we stand to date on our disciplinary record this season as opposed to last.

What we do know is that, seven games in, the team Captain is missing for three games (which would have been longer if many people in the media and FA had had their way) on a suspension.

And the treatment room at Hurworth is full with a bumper crop of injuries - a few that seem to be long term, including some like Huth that are worrying and frustrating recurrences and happened in training; the old 'curse of Hurworth'.

The 'hip flexor' - no, me neither - that's troubling Tayls was the same injury that marred Stewie's pre-season.

The only thing that's keeping them from going to a three shift pattern on the treatment tables is that players are being farmed out all over the world for assessment and treatment! What's that all about?

And this is before the dreaded International break where the only ones who are safe are the ones already injured!

With so few left to train after this midweek and time to draw breath, wouldn't this be a good time for Gate to pop in to see Frank Nuttall and gently enquire how he thinks things are going after his first three months in post?

Come on TB - I've just presented you with an open goal.....

Ian Gill said:

Defending properly and playing attractive football are not mutually exclusive.

When you have the ball, players move into space and pass to a red shirt.

When you dont have the ball you try and defend outside the box and mark people. If you end up with seven players in the six yard box but not marking or picking up anyone that means there are opposing players free to score.

I know I am making it very simplistic but attractive football doesnt mean all 10 outfield players charging into the opponents box.

The team Jack built was labelled defensive but playing a midfield three of Sounness, Armstrong, Murdoch with Hickton, Mill and Foggon up front was hardly replete with holding players. If they had the ball they attacked, if not they defended.

Trying to play attractive football is not a licence to defend badly and vice versa.

Nigel said:

A great result on Saturday, we can bask in the glory for two weeks now!

Ross Turnbull is starting to show to us why yet again Gareth Southgate is proving to be an astute maanger and decision maker. I for one am very happy to eat a large slice of humble pie!

I agree with Ian playing attacking football and being defensively sound are not mutually exclusive. Its all about the players being disciplined, maintaining concentration and tracking back when an attack breaks down to maintain the teams shape. We have the players to do it.

I reckon to have any chance of making the top ten this season we need five away wins, so one down and four to go.

BoroPhil said:

Is it too early for me to ask people to tell me I was right about Ross Turnbull?

seriously though, a vital, vital win which has just about put us back on track.

and Huth injured again? I have a horrible feeling he is never going to be consistently fit.

Chris from Beverley said:

How bizarre is football at times ?

Boro go to Wigan and win ugly (the new vogue).

Wigan go to Hull City and score 5, The Tigers then beat the mighty Gooners and the Cold Spurs away.

Without a doubt an odd condundrum.

Life is hell living amongst the amber and black barcodes at the moment. I keep telling them it won't last, only for them to win again !

I can't even use the old chestnut of 'you haven't played anyone yet'.

Looking very much forward to Boro's visit at the KC in December, when hopefully the league placings will be reversed and we do a wigan on them.

Come on Boro.

Chris from Beverley said:

David and Victoria Beckham have launched a £300m bid for Newcastle United.

The interest came after son Brooklyn asked for a Cowboy outfit for Christmas.

Sorry guys - couldn't resist it....

tonyblack said:

Trev Jones wrote...

Wish Tony Black would (being polite here).. go away and support the barcodes or some other team. What a morbid knocker, wonder if he's ever played the game (apart from Redcar beach) It was a fantastic result, a tremendous team effort. He even has to get his little snide remark in....".wait till the end of the season" What a wally!!

In case you missed it...

" Untypical Boro is a lively topical blog... "

I am a very lively Boro fan, even if my posts are all a load of rubbish to you. If we all agreed on everything all the time it would make for a very dull blog and debate!

Ian Gill wrote...

" TB is right to hold Gate to his request to be judged at the end of the season just as are those who are delighted at the Wigan result can sniff their foam hands... "

Thanks for that Ian.

In case people missed it...

tonyblack wrote...

Mac in Baku wrote...

" Oh yea of little faith - yes I'm talking to you Tony Black... "

No problem my friend. It was a great result and one that we needed.

I have absolutely no problem with your words as at the end of the day if GS and co do well then what's the problem??? I'll end up with egg on my chin, but so what, we will be doing well !

Long way to go though !

John Powls wrote...

" Come on TB - I've just presented you with an open goal... "

Unless my information is wrong, and perhaps Vic could enlighten us, GS has just hired a Yoga coach at the training ground.

OK great, I'm all for this as it may well help with concentration, which is what we need especially late on. So, nice one Gareth.

However and I raised this point an eternity ago, when is GS going to hire a statistician in order to compare our levels of injuries over the last 5 or 10 years to see if we are the same as other clubs or if we are above other clubs and by how much?

I think this is a sensible idea as we can once and for all tell the ever questiong fans how we fare. This obviously comes after the main advantage of knowing that if we are indeed above the Premiership average that we can then take a look at how we train the players in order to see if we can improve training so as to eliminate some of these injuries.

I don't know if Vic will allow this to be printed, but, " HYPOTHETICALLY ", I would suggest by starting to take a long hard look at a contraption in some football clubs gyms that has been taken from American Football and adapted to our game. It's purpose is to increase strength and power but it is well known to be lethal for causing injuries.

As I have been invited to comment by John powls I would also add this.

How many injuries come from players coming off the bench and then being injured ?

Perhaps this comes from muscles that are not warm and not warmed up properly and not ready for the pounding that is about to come, especially deep in winter where temperatures plumet and the ground hardens.

Perhaps we could finally get the heated seats that all the top clubs have and perhaps we could look into this idea...

If Vic will indulge me in the interest of advancing the injury debate, although this idea is taken from my good friend, I think it's a cracking idea and one that "may" help our injury list "if" it's true.

Warming Up By Running Up And Down The Pitch Before Players Come On Is

Ensuring that players coming off the bench go through the very best warm up, stretching, and mental preparation procedures before they come on is absolutely essential in terms of their own individual performance output levels, whilst ensuring that they remain as injury free as possible, and for this they should have every move they make supervised and controlled by the head of sports science instead of him being sat on the bench doing precious nothing. After all, what exactly are they being paid to do ?

The current trend around clubs in Europe is for an exercise bike to be placed by dugouts and used to warm up players, an idea taken from the world of rugby and one I posted on my old web site years ago for use in football clubs where there are no funds whatsoever. Although this is a step in the right direction it's only a half hearted attempt to do what's required, and it underlines the out of date mentality that many clubs have regarding, " True" attention to detail.

Better than only allowing players to run up and down the side of the pitch a couple of times when they warm up before they come on as subs, which is simply not enough, an exercise bike before this is still not the ideal choice because it doesn't take into account specifity of training, i.e. it doesn't exactly mimic the actual mechanics of running. As a result the Groin Area, Quads, Hamstrings, Shoulders, Knees, Calves, Achilles Tendon, and Feet don't receive as good a warm up as possible, and so the body isn't prepared for the pounding it's about to receive from hitting the floor as the player runs.

Far, far better would be to install treadmills in specially enclosed areas that have been adapted with a length of the very latest rubber that modern five a side pitches use as their turf which is added on top of the rolling carpet, as this would allow footballers to directly warm up on them with their studded boots on, in a far better, much more progressive and controlled way, thus reducing the risk of injury, before then continuing their warm up along the side of the pitch.

In an era where money rules the sport, and results matter more than ever, preparing subs properly and keeping them as injury free as possible is an absolute must.


**AV Writes: I did a bit in the paper last year about the number and severity of injuries and Boro were (typically) to the top of the bottom half of the crock shock table. West Ham, Chelsea, Man City and Newcastle were way out in front, although there are no easily comparable stats on how many more 'influential' players are injured (that is purely subjective) and, of course, the raw numbers are compounded at Boro because of the relatively small size of the squad.

My impression was that far from having a cursed training ground Boro were in fact just average and the myth of our 'injury jinx' is mainly created by tunnel vision with fans not being aware or particularly caring what was happening elsewhere.

Mohammad Abdullah said:

I find it rather disturbing that those of us who voice an honestly held opinion about the merits or perhaps demerits of the manager (I am in the Tony Black camp by the way) are thought to be delighted when the Boro get beat and bitter and twisted when they win.

Nothing could be further from the truth, I feel every defeat as keenly as any one on this board and I delight in any win, they are difficult enough to come by in the PL goodness only knows.

I can understand the joy and even the hysteria over the win at Wigan expressed on the board,, but put things into perspectiver, that was our first away win since last year at Pompey and our first clean sheet, since I do not know when.

I do not remember TB or myself for that matter coming on the board and glorifying in any defeat, yes I get frustrated by what I consider to be for an example an injudicious substitution or defending too deep, or naive tactics and I say so just as others point out positive signs such as the emergence of Turnbull

Although I do not agree with all that is said by the pro GS brigade I do not feel the need to name call (wally) or belittle (ye of little faith) their opinions as I respect them as being honestly held and in most cases eloquently expressed.

Should I be wrong in mine and others be correct in their assessment and GS does ciut the mustard I will be delighted as it will mean that the Boro will be in a better state than they have been for several years.

Please respect differences in opinion rather than just denigrating them

John Powls said:


Gate clearly didn't think it was a myth - otherwise he wouldn't have done and said what he did.

No-one is saying that no-one else has injuries but Boro's case is made the more acute by the choice to go with a smaller squad.

Tunnel vision? Don't care what goes on elsewhere (though I do know)? Damn right - my focus is on Boro and the rest can go hang!

And if plans are put in place to improve things in an issue that the manager has identified and they don't bring about an improvement I think 'Why?' is a perfectly legitimate question to ask.

BoroPhil - yes, it is too early to claim victory on Turnbull. Let's see where things stand at Xmas as the window is about to open.

But, so far so good and I, for one, will be glad to give you the pat on the back in due course.

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

The injuries would not hit us as hard if we had a slightly bigger squad.

I think Gate new that Cattermole needed to move away from the area to concentrate on his footy- too many local distractions.

James Morrison should never have left!

Harper from Reading maybe looked like a good idea now if noone else wants to come to the beautiful Riverside.

If we are thinking about strengthening the squad [ WE MUST BE ?] then moves behind the scenes should be ongoing .

Lambo has been rather quiet of late folks?

Also players are more likely to come if we are not floating near the bottom of the table.

Huth is knackered again, no surprise.

So what we still have SEB HINES.

John Powls said:

Just wanted to pick up on a point that TB raised about a statistician.

I think that's valid and presumably goes along with the interpretation of pro-zone and the other analytical aids that are - or should be - used to support team and individual development and selection.

You may not need to employ someone specifically either. There are many, many services that supply such stats across the net.

Many of the stats that are produced are easily analysed by most folks - and Gate's not just most folks - by simply employing the 'standard eyeball test'.

Lot's of interesting stuff hits you in the eye.

I'm sure Gate - being the kind of guy he is - will have seen it but the importance of stats in top class sport (particularly if you're not going to compete with your bank balance) is brilliantly dealt with in Michael Lewis's spectacularly bestselling 'Moneyball'. Worth a look.

Ian Gill said:


I have been bleating on about injuries for many a year.

I accept we dont get more injuries than other clubs and have even stated maybe I an looking too closely at Boro.

My gripe is, and always has been, the number of injuries that start out as an eyelash out of place and end up with diagnosis of a cruciate knee injury. Poor old Christie complained about pain in his broken leg, played on to find it was broken again. Ugo sent away with a swollen knee only to come back in the pre season to find cruciate knee injury.

Huth, Boat, Downing, Arca, Taylor etc. Time after time someone has an injury and we joke on here that we hope they have operated on the correct ankle only for AV to quip that at least it was an ankle not an elbow.

Why do we cringe and laugh at Ricky Gervase in equal measure? Because we recognise the truth of what he is doing. The same goes for the bits of fun we poke at the club about injuries.

David Morrison said:

Surely regards injuries it is the players you buy?

Look at west ham: Dyer, Ashton, Parker, Upson, Ljungberg, Faubert, etc etc.... its the players you buy with these reputations and as Boro are in the mix to compete to get good players then we have got to take a risk or two.

Man Utd may look at a player and see he has a dodgy thigh and because they have so much riding on champions league places a £10m player out for 3 months is to high a risk. Boro come in offer £4m and take a risk saying oh well if he plays 20 games then thats great incorporating maybe appearances into the fee.

Footballers get injuries, same as swimmers, athletes, rugby etc... its part of the game and I understand that doing everything possible to reduce this is important but its the make up of the player and the genetics not the training methods or equipment.

Training should be organised to go with players needs and I'm sure at MFC they are doing this and probably to a very advanced level.

Heated seat hey Tony, are these the same ones used at Tottenham and Newcastle and probably Chelsea? At the end of the day footballers have it good enough without heated seats to keep there bums warm on a cold day and with the type of material used in strips these days plus the tracksuits, coats etc they should be warm enough if not there is the good old tried and tested method of sum deep heat. ooooooow feel the burn.

Also why stop at a treadmill? If you want an all round work out for the lads lets get a swimming pool for them before they come on at the end of the day it is the only sport to use every single muscle, well nearly all..... ; }

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

James Emmerson said:

tonyblack wrote...
How many injuries come from players coming off the bench and then being injured ?

Another point of order that has been hinted at by posters since your last submission, Mr Tony Black...

Nobody comes off 'the bench' these days, this is part of the tiresomely outdated football-speak that mystifyingly remains part of everyday parlance. Subs in fact come off the comfy seats in these poncy 'technical areas' - benches have long since been dispensed with. And is it just me or do these comfy seats look like they're actually the front seats out of scrapped cars?

Subs used to come off the bench at Ayresome Park with injuries more related to splinters and protruding six-inch nails.

Perhaps AV could enlighten us why people keep referring to 'the bench' when it's long since disappeared, just like proper dugouts. And, while we're at it, what about the infamous 'row Z' as in "the big lad should have put into row Z, Gary..." - does anybody know of a ground with an actual row Z, because I'm sure I've never been to one.

And why don't goalies wear the same colour shorts and socks as the outfield players....actually I'll save this one for another time.

Forever Dormo said:

TB - that was a monster post. I agree that a quick couple of sprints up and down the touchline may not be enough preparation before coming on as a substitute.

Having said this, I once played in a team (not footie, but that's another story) that was joined by an England-capped indoor player. He started taking the team through a warm-up routine before the games. In the very first one, I tweaked a muscle during the exercise! After that, whilst he "warmed up" the rest of the team, I did a few jogs, then sprints and a few stretches of my own, before spending some time flicking and smashing the ball at our keeper in order to warm him up. I never had a problem after that, and I was then in my thirties.

One lesson here is that the player should know what is good for him and his body. If he is a professional sportsman, unlike amateur little me all those years ago, that must be the case.

I would have thought the Manager should be sitting down with Frank Nuttall, as John Powls suggested above, for his views as to what might be best be done to warm up the players with least risk of injury to them. But we might also be contacting the sports science people at somewhere like Loughborough University for the most up-to-date research on the subject. It might cost us a few quid but firstly I guess the University would value the commission and the opportunity to work with a Premier League club in an area which might be of useful general application, and secondly if it avoided a star player being absent from the team for a couple of months it will have paid for itself several times over.

As to AV's article in tonight's Gazette, I am not sure too many people were saying before the season that the keepers weren't up to the job. I think many posters were saying that neither keeper had much first team experience and therefore had no chance to prove their capabilities at Premier League level. On that basis, and bearing in mind the relatively modest price (in football terms) it might have cost to buy in a keeper with Premier League -indeed international - experience, many posters felt that the Manager was taking a gamble in relying on the untried keepers "coming good".

If the club was satisfied that Jones and Turnbull were likely to prove good enough, why didn't they get a game at the close of last season when our Premier status was assured and it was clear "Skippy" wasn't staying at the club? When you've played only a handful of games at the top level, every additional game, especially one without pressure of relegation resting on the result, would make a difference.

I am sure every supporter would be delighted for either or both of our keepers to prove themselves. We would be happy to listen to the "I told you so's". It is just that it might have seemed like an unnecessary gamble when the stakes are very high.

For the record I always thought that, of the two, Turnbull looked the most likely candidate. I will be really pleased if another academy alumnus makes a mark on the game and puts the inital (I would say understandable) concerns to bed. I hope he can become a fixture in the team, but understand the club also thinks Jones might be able to prove himself given the chance.

Jones was unlucky to be injured in the warm up (oops!) at Liverpool, but luck plays a big role in sport. Imagine if the Munich air disaster had not happened. Wouldn't the youngster Duncan Edwards, already an international and Bobby Charlton says one of if not the best he ever played with, have been captain of the World Cup team in 1966 instead of Bobby Moore?

I believe the club has high hopes for Jason Steele, too, but he obviously has several years to go. Maybe in a short while we will be awash with goalies!

tonyblack said:

Dear MFC and the powers that be.

David Morrison wrote...

" Heated seat hey Tony, are these the same ones used at Tottenham and Newcastle and probably Chelsea? At the end of the day footballers have it good enough without heated seats to keep there bums warm on a cold day "

If it's good enough and IMPORTANT enough for the likes of AC Milan, Real Madrid and Barca e.t.c. then we should have it as well. Simple as that.

To suggest that players have it too good is just out of date and an all too easy swipe at player wages, which I would agree are insane, but then that's not the point is it?

Let's take the wages out of the equation and I think that you will find that your comments don't stack up.

What footballers did in the days of the amazing Wilf Manion and the like was incredible. But those days are long gone. Just are the 70's and 80's and 90's

This is how I personally see it.

Football is now a global game where the difference between winning and losing can be between those who embrace this mentality and are always looking for modern technology and new methodology in order to give them an advantage and those who do not.

Liverpool train/play in an altitude chamber pitch.

Milan have Milan Lab.

Can we compete with this? Of course not as we don't have that kind of money. But what we CAN do is to strive to do it and to do the very best we can with whatever we've got as our own budget, no matter what it is.

So, why don't we get a top clinic like Bimal in London to come up here and to tell us if we are taking longer to heal given injuries than we should be doing and what we need to do to become better. I can't see that braking the bank.

Why don't we put in heated seats? That can't be that much either.

Why don't we get the head of our Sports Science to PUT our players through a set warm up procedure before they come on so as to GUARANTEE that they do it right EVERY SINGLE TIME? That's cheap too as he's allready getting paid. I bet many people can recal the incident where Viduka was just going through the motions and doing very little indeed as he stood and watched the game. At the time we all noted it in here and we went mental.

I could go on and on and on.

It isn't about money. It's about saying this is what we can afford, what can we do? How can we do better? What are other clubs doing?

All it takes is a little bit of effort, an open mind and the desire to make it happen.

It's just about attention to detail, that's all.


David Morrison said:


Why dont my comments stack up? It's my opinion they stack up in my mind thats why I wrote it.

Heated seats are a luxury end of. If they seriously helped then every club would have them from Premier League to League Two, simple as that.

The reason why they dont is due to cost and probably sponsorship. Look at Man Utd seats they have Audi logo on. Is that any coincidence that they are also a sponsor so probably installed them for free or even paid man u for the privilege?
Also the suggestion that footballers have it too good is out of date... why is it when it was a comment based on the fact that they are a luxury and the the clubs you have mentioned are luxury clubs, or think they are?

At the end of the day you dont have a clue what goes on at MFC regards trianing, you dont know what technology is used, you dont know what methods are incorporated into players sessions, diet or schedule.

MfC has one of the best training facilities in Europe and I know for a fact they worked closely with top clubs so that Hurworth would be up ther with the likes of Man U, Chelsea, Milan, Madrid etc...

Facts are it isnt the training its the players you buy and in my last post I think I explained why this is....

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

Nigel said:

TB - Despite having taken the mickey in the past over your suggestion of heated seats for subs. and Massimo's hot water bottle, I do agree that they are a good idea and that a 'proper' scientific warm up for the subs is important and you're right the details are important.

I also believe that GS knows that the details are important, he has done his coaching badges, has been a pro. for years and is clearly an intelligent man, however I would argue that since his appointment he has had to look at big issues and deal with them first and will in time address the detail.

Last summer amongst other things he created a new sports injury dept. so he clearly is aware that injuries are an issue (how could he not be?)

Boro lead the way on academies and youth development in the prem. demonstrating it is a club which plans carefully there is no reason to believe that this philosophy is not applied in all aspects of the clubs operations. Change takes time and an awful lot has changed since GS took over.

We now have a manager planning for the future where as previously in Mac we had one who was after (and achieved) instant success because his ambition was to leave asap for a bigger club or England, his wish was granted, which gave Boro the opportunity to re-assess the clubs strategy, which has been clearly demonstrated in the actions of the last two seasons.

james emmerson said:

Changing the subject ever so slightly, today's Daily Telegraph reports that Boro have a debt of £84 million! All the Prem clubs have enormous debst according to this list, but both Newcastle & S'land are quite a way below what we are in debt to the tune of.
How is this so? Any comments AV?

**AV writes: The figures currently doing the rounds are from the Deloitte review of the financial year ending last April so are at least 18 months old and only portray the picture of one part of the Gibson-O'Neil empire anyway.

Since then there has been an aggressive trimming of the wage bill and transfer spending has been reined in dramatically, there was a net profit this summer, so the current spending position is relatively healthy.

In fact, the balance sheet also shows a lot of assets too. Most of the players are worth significantly more than their cost to the club (a situation that hasn't existed since about 1990) and as most are relatively young and on relatively long deals they should have a decent resale value, a reversal of Boro's biggest problem in recent years.

On top of that is the value of Hurworth and the potential added asset value and revenue generation from the new golf/leisure/spa hotel plus greater yields from other areas of the operation (the Garmin sponsorship for instance is far greater than any previous shirt deal).

There are debts, some to the banks but mostly internal borrowing from other areas of Bulkhaul which legally must be listed as debt. The ones to the bank will require payments on the interest but the wages saved on Mendieta should cover that while ones from over parts of the company are notional ones at minimal rates of interest and are used to balance the books in the most tax efficient way and are certainly never going to be called in.

While other clubs have been borrowing against future Sky income Boro have had the foresight to cut back. Now after two or three years of belt tightening and prudent corporate reshaping Boro are stable and working within a sustainable model with a low cost-base and a manageable debt.

My understanding of Newcastle is that Ashley found significantly greater debt than £40m - well over £100m - and has inherited an old and over-paid squad (Mark Viduka - three years on £70k per week plus signing on fee!) and a crazy economic model. For instance the massive season ticket income has been committed to the bank for years to come to pay off the costs of the last main stand rebuild so can't be counted as operational income.

beamishboro said:

Well great result on Saturday, but a shocking performance. Apart from his goal Aliadiere was very poor. It is about time Adam Johnson got a game ahead of him. I am sick of the foreigh players getting in ahead of the local lads.

If we beat Chelsea then I mioght consider coming back to watch the Boro. But at the moment I am torn between Boro and Sunderland. I rate Roy keane and wish Gareth Southgate was as strong character as him.

I get sick of Southgate keep talking about learning lessons.

Forever Dormo said:

Dave Morrison at 10.25am - I agree that much depends on the players the club buys.

Very good players cost a lot of money and you would expect a Mercedes car to perform better and more reliably than a Vauxhall Astra (but with higher running costs). As a club we might unearth a rare diamond in the transfer market, but most of the Mercedes are snaffled up by the richer, bigger clubs. Even BMW's and Audis are expensive these days. That's why our academy may adopt an even more important profile in the future.

In an ideal world Middlesbrough would be able to afford to buy a few Ferraris, Mercs and Range Rovers each year. We would be able to pay for their fuel and associated costs, and we would be able to afford the best mechanics, the best garageing that money could buy, so as to ensure our valuable assets are kept in tip-top condition. We would have the best telemetry and the best drivers and backroom staff, to ensure we finish on the podium at the end of the season.

But all this costs so much money! Just a few days ago one of the Formula 1 teams pulled out of the competition because its figures couldn't match up and it couldn't compete.

On the other hand, if you buy a car that is damaged and off the road, you take a risk on the cost and success of the necessary repairs. Sometimes they make the vehicle uneconomical.

Huth was injured at the start and, although when he is fit he can look the part, he seems to be off the road most of the time and then reintroducing him into the team when he returns after a lengthy delay might unsettle the players around him. I hope it will work out for Huth because he can be very good and is still young, but his injury track record is not encouraging in the long term.

With an unlimited budget to be able to afford world-class players, the best backroom staff, sports science and even the snazziest heated seats - we would be Manchester United or Chelsea. We obviously have to compromise - some players coming through the academy ranks, a few "bargain buys" (maybe taking a little risk on a promising but as yet unknown player) and the odd relatively expensive purchase to add a bit of class and complete the squad.

If we get the recipe right, we can make a reasonable team, competing with our peers and occasionally shocking the Big Boys. Of course if we get the recipe wrong, leaving the older players in the oven too long or exposing the youngsters to flavours they cannot yet handle, we look bad.

Hopefully we can get it right, but cooking is an inexact science (or is it an art?). Sometimes a gourmet meal, sometimes something just filling, and on occasions a disaster - bought the wrong ingredients again and tried to mix and match flavours, but failed!

Football clubs as cars or Formula 1 teams, or as cooks.....must be the Prosecco again. I'll start having dreams of cup glory soon.

Holgate Ender said:

Last year there were three PL sides in the semis of the Champs League and two in the final. Four PL sides have been in the final in the last three years.

How many of them warm-up their players in thermostatically controlled portable gyms?

Sensible use of sports science can be a big benefit to teams and individuals (nutriotion, prozone, recovery periods, tailored training) but you can't get lost in it like McNegative did.

At the end of the day it is about getting better players and getting them well organised and motivated. That's more important than putting average players through a better warm-up.

Nigel said:

beamishboro - Surely you can see that Aliadiere is a good player? Okay so he had a poor game on Saturday, he wasn't the only one, the attacking part of the team was lacking for sure. That said he had one goal scoring chance, took it and won us the game, not bad for a poor performance. Dropping him sounds something of an over reaction.

You have clearly read Southgate wrong, just because he is articulate and doesn't rant and rave like the bloke up at light bulb park doesn't make him a soft touch. Southgate is a hard headed manager who is ruthless when it is required.

As for being un-decided about who to support how does that work exactly?

Holgate ender - I think TB is simply making the point that attention to detail such as warm seats for subs. may reduce the risk of injury, nothing wrong with that is there? It's nothing to do with luxury or 'spoiling' star players, its all about trying to nick a competitive edge in a very competitive league.

paul bell said:

Gate has dropped an enormous boo boo signing Justin Hoyte because he is not of the required standard.
I was gutted that we sold Like Young because he was the best right back that we have had at the club since Keith Nobbs, (who should have played for England by the way!)

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

BeamishBoro, cut that I am torn between Boro and Sunderland stuff out. You are either Boro or you're not mate. Keane may end up to be a more successful manager than Southgate and Sunderland may finish above Boro with all their late goals- but I dont want that as I am A BORO FAN! are you?

I will split the difference with you on the Aliadiere\ johnson thing though - I am right behind the local lads, Adam Johnson deffo deserves a game as he is a good player and will score goals for us.

However Aliadiere should be playing behind Mido or Alves to inject pace into our attack, we are not getting the most out of his abilities out on the wing and Alves and Mido up front together is nice and slow for the opposition.

All players will have poor games and I would be over the moon if our whole team had a poor game if they all scored. Aliadiere's goal did win us that match by the way and if he was up front we would make more chances.

Tuncay and Aliadiere's pace against Blackburn last season created tons of oportunities in the first 35mins until Tuncay went off injured.

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Southgate said about Riggot -“Sometimes the biggest problem is himself and having belief in himself.

“Last year I made the mistake of taking him out of the side after a winning performance.

“The Portsmouth game this season was different because we lost and I was entitled to make changes."

I think its no wonder Riggot has a self belief problem, Southgate dropped him after a sterling performance at Pompy, a thousand of us saw he had a really solid performance worthy of a guarenteed place on the next team sheet.

The more Riggot is played the more match fit he will become and we will see even greater performances from him. Southgate should be looking at performances on the pitch on match day for a test of form.

Riggot is not gobby like Mido as its not in his nature. Instead he has a cool head ideal for making good defencive tackles and positional defencive headers.

I am enjoying most of what Southgate is trying to do but it does get me going when players are not given a fair crack.

Just coz we lost at Pompy doesnt mean we should make changes.

Defoes first goal came due to the ref not letting Digard back on and once Crouchy had elbowed Mido in the face they had 2 more players in an all out attack , we all saw the goal coming but the ref was at fault and until the goal their fans were silent.

Mike said:

I've recently been following the debate over the debts of football clubs. In total it is reported that all the clubs owe about £3billion. The media seem to be concentrating on clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and even West Ham. I'm curious to know where Boro are in this situation. AV or others, could you please kind of clarify all this up for me? As I really don't know much about Boro's financial situation and whether we owe anything like as much as the likes of the top four clubs owe.

tonyblack said:

Nigel Wrote...

"I also believe that GS knows that the details are important, he has done his coaching badges, has been a pro. for years and is clearly an intelligent man, however I would argue that since his appointment he has had to look at big issues and deal with them first and will in time address the detail."

Nigel, I understand where you're coming from, but it only takes two minutes to say...

"Hey, Head of Sports Science (or whoever) from now on I want you to put the subs through their paces before they come on as subs. We've got a small squad and we've got to do everything we can to reduce injuries and get the very best out of the guys we have."

Why hasn't he done this yet, or why hasn't Coops? Badges aren't all there made out to be if you can't see the wood for the trees. There's more to coaching than a few FA badges.

Nigel wrote...

"Holgate ender - I think TB is simply making the point that attention to detail such as warm seats for subs. may reduce the risk of injury, nothing wrong with that is there? It's nothing to do with luxury or 'spoiling' star players, its all about trying to nick a competitive edge in a very competitive league."

I couldn't put it any better.

At the end of the day you have to do the very best with what you've got and with what you can afford, so I absolutely agree that money is the key factor here and that GS isn't a magician. At the end of the day you can only do so much. But that doesn't mean that you just sit back and accept that that's your lot.

There are endless things that can be done "IF" you know what to do.

FA badges teach you what they teach everyone. Yes, by all means do them, but you won't come up with anything new by doing your badges. You will learn more new things by going to see how they work in France, in Italy and in Brazil.

I once read an interview from ex Boro boy Xavier who said that whilst others went on their summer holidays he asked a football team in Brazil (I forget which one) if he could train with them for two weeks and so off he went. He said it was the biggest eye opener of his life in terms of training methods.

That speaks volumes to me and for me personally it's the best way to learn new things. Others may take a different view.


bob said:

I'm suspicious of Beamish'Undecided'.

He/She strikes me as a wind-up merchant. How can you be undecided about the football club you support? It's a ridiculous notion.

I think his comments are entered specifically to illicit a reaction. This is the final reaction he will get from me.

malc said:

Mike- vic explained the boro's finacial status very clearly about six posts before yours. Scroll up.

Beamish "boro"- keane has always been a whinger and has carried it into his magerial career. He's spent 5times what Gate's spent yet we finished above them last year and will likely do so again this year. Jump ship if you want, we don't want part time fans.

jiffy said:

To answer Mike's question about Boro debt versus rest of PL - taken from Independent article earlier in the week.

Premier League of debt
1 Man Utd

Owners: Glazer family

Debt: £666m

"Comfortably serviced by strong cash flows" says a spokesman, citing large annual pre-tax profits.

2 Chelsea

Owner: R Abramovich

Debt: £578m

The club is dependent for survival on its owner's cash, both in loans and capital.

3 Liverpool

Owners: T Hicks, G Gillett

Debt: £350m+

Bought club with borrowed money. Now the Americans are struggling to fund a new stadium.

4 Arsenal

Main shareholders: D Fiszman, A Usmanov (24 per cent each)

Debt: £318m

Have accrued debt to fund an asset - the Emirates Stadium - that will be profitable in the long term.

5 Fulham

Owner: Mohamed al-Fayed

Debt: c£180m

Wholly reliant for survival on Fayed, who would sell if he could recoup losses.

6 Man City

Owner: Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed al Nahyan

Debt: £170m (imminently or already cleared)

City are now the plaything of one of the world's richest men. What is debt?

7 Wigan

Owner: Dave Whelan

Debt: £54m

Whelan remains one of the last of old-school, local businessman-benefactors - for now.

8 Middlesbro

Owner: Steve Gibson

Debt: c£50m

Gibson will remain a long-term financial supporter via his profitable parent company.

9 Bolton

Owner: Eddie Davies

Debt: £37m+

Owes cash to parent company that cannot sustain indefinite losses. Davies would sell.

10 Aston Villa

Owner: Randy Lerner

Debt: £37m

Unlike others, Lerner has not followed a "leveraged" buyout and has spent his own money, mostly.

11 Sunderland

Owner: Drumaville Consortium

Debt: £35m

Irish owners have speculated to accumulate Premier League stability.

12 Portsmouth

Owner: Alexandre Gaydamak

Debt: £31m

Millionaire owner who would happily sell to a billionaire.

13 Everton

Owners: B Kenwright (37.2 per cent), R Earl (34.6)

Debt: £26.4m

The latest club to ask sell-off expert Keith Harris to find them a billionaire buyer.

14 West Ham

Owner: Bjrgolfur Gudmundsson

Debt: c£25m

Gudmundsson's troubled Landsbanki initially took on £20m of Hammers' debt.

15 Blackburn

Owner: The Walker Trust

Debt: £20m

The Trust would happily offload the club but will fund it moderately in the meantime.

16 Tottenham

Owner: ENIC

Debt: £17m

As a listed company, needs to be more transparent and prudent than most.

17 Stoke City

Owner: Peter Coates

Debt: £5m

Premier League income will comfortably cover low-level borrowing for now.

18 West Bromwich

Owner: Jeremy Peace.

Debt: c£3m

Another club that can boost its coffers in the top flight, if restrained with its spending.

19 Newcastle

Owner: Mike Ashley

Debt: Negligible (almost cleared from £110m+)

Ashley paid £110m to reduce debt, but now wants that back in £300m price tag.

20 Hull City

Owner: Paul Duffen (main shareholder)

Debt: Negligible

Premier League status means financial dreamland, if (and it is a big 'if') the club can control their spending.

Nigel said:

TB - We're pretty much in agreement on the importance of warm ups being done correctly etc and your dead right that coaching isn't just about getting your badges.

Ironically Mac was a big exponent of learning from other clubs/countries/sports different coaching methods. But I doubt that GS has had much opportunity to visit other countries etc to learn different approaches to coaching in the time he has been manager. So I will cut him some slack on this one but surely he will know the importance of the correct warm up procedures?

I recently completed my level one FA coaching badge as part of my involvement with a kids footie team and even on that very basic course the importance of the correct warm ups was emphasised and how not to warm up ie jogging up and down a few times.

The course was fascinating because the coach running it was the ex Arsenal youth team coach, he had coached in Denmark, Holland, Sweden and Nigeria, has his UEFA pro badge and had been a fringe player in Brian Clough's Forest team in the late 70's early 80's so his knowledge and experience were extensive and he was happy to share some of it.

He tried to explain to us the tactics/strategy the Arsenal team play to even down to the level of detail such as how when one player makes a pass the rest of the team react depending on whether the pass is forward, back or sideways. It really is a game of chess and I realised that what look like random movements are in fact drills.

I also realised that coaching at that level is a seriously demanding and involved job. For GS to pick this all up in a short time is nigh on impossible and I can see now the arguement for needing an experienced coach, that said I think GS and Coops. are fast learners and despite the inexperience have my full support.

2 Otterburn Gardens said:

Charlton Athletic have been taken over by a very rich Middle eastern gentleman and will qualify for the Champions League before we ever do

Holgate Ender said:

Time for a new topic Vickers...

**AV writes: Yes, but only if YOU come and scrape the rest of this wallpaper off.

Ian Gill said:

Totally off Boro but here is a comment about thoroughness and planning.

Met up with John Powls for the Ingerlund match. Unlike many fans we actually sat and watched the warms basically to have a look at Wembley - an alternative was to spend £8 plus in fish and chips!

Usual set up with both sets of players doing warm ups and the goalies doing their catching of crosses. Nudged John and said watch the kazak goalie. They were throwing crosses to him and they had somebody jostling and jumping with him to simulate what they expected and feared to happen.

England steadfastly refused to fall for the trap and kept ball well away from until Lampard made the error of plonking a corner into the xix yard box and Ferdinand headed home after the keeper flapped followed by an own goal from a free kick delivered into the same area.

How much are the coaches and staff paid?

Forever Dormo said:

I tried to send a message in the early hours but it got "lost". In short, then, at least with Downing not getting a game for England at the weekend he avoided the usual Press criticism. Maybe Ashley Cole wishes he could have swopped places with Stuart?

And why are England playing Kazakhstan in a World Cup qualifying group? The last time I looked, Kazakhstan was in Central Asia. It shares its south eastern border with China, for goodness sake!

If we are going to mix and match the groups, why not go the whole hog. How about a qualifying group (first goes through automatically, group runners-up go into a play-off) comprising, say, Argentina, England, Cameroon, Mexico, South Korea and Fiji? It would at least rack up the air miles.

Nigel said:

AV - You need one of those 'steam' paper stripper thingy's, paper will be off in no time then, unless your removing woodchip of course in which case you're in for the long haul. Still its better than watching paint dry.............

'Ignorant' of boroland said:

Fabio Capelos strategy to try and bring the Borats out and creat some space was to pretend that we are scared and hopeless unless its a set piece.I thought most of the squad caried those instructions out to the letter until we accidentally scored.
The suare play I had seen until we did score knocked any passion out of me anyway and I thought Rooney didnt celebrate as he thought we were playing like tripe aswell- then I saw it was an own goal-
God ,I cant wait to see some flowing Boro attacks to stem the misery.

Nigel said:

A couple of thoughts after the England game, Upson's poor performance must enhance Wheaters chance of making future England squads.
Gerrards poor performance (again) means his place is under threat for the Belarus match. That said if gerrard is dropped Capello will need a left sided player in his place assuming he plays 442. Joe Cole is injured so that leaves Downing. I'd love to see Stewie play, but I can't see even Capello dropping Gerrard and replacing him with Downing.
He's a brave manager, but not that brave.
Finally, it was good to see Wheater and Jinky score for the U21's.

david connor said:

My previous message also went missing somewhere along the line.

The 5-1 scoreline covered over many deficencies in the England team.

I have watched Kazakhstan on many occasions and this was a different team alltogether. It was a team mainly made up of under 21 players and they gave England something to worry about on more than one occassion. The Goalkeeper gifted 3 goals in my opinion. The firsat half was a bit of a shambles.

The answer to why the crowd booed Cole was obvious. NOBODY THOUGHT KAZAKHSTAN WOULD SCORE A GOAL. All bets were lost.

This England team is still very disjointed. We had a big centre forward and hardly a good cross was put into the box, and when we did cross we got goals. I think we will struggle against Belerus. but I will watch in the early hours of the morning.

I am home next week and I look forward to seeing the BORO LIVE and also going to the Riverside for the 1966 reunion AYRESOME ANGELS what a night to look forward to a TEAM THAT GIVE ITS ALL. Not like the present day prima donnas.

Ian Gill said:

Dave Connor

Read my post above, the Kazak goalie was being put under pressure during the warm up with a player jumping at him as the coach crossed balls in. They were preparing for a barrage.

In the first half the corners were largely on Walcotts side of the pitch. Not once did Barry (as good at setpiece delivery as anyone else in the team) trot over and drop it into the six yard box. Every time it was swung out away from the keeper.

It beggars belief that these players are on mega bucks but at least they had an excuse because they were doing their own warm ups. What about the highly paid backroom staff? We kept muttering away until the players stumbled on the solution.

If John and I could spot the warm up exercises as punters just below flight BA3407 from New York why couldnt our own coaching team?

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