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Are Boro In A Basement Battle?

Posted by on November 4, 2008 10:49 PM | 

BORO salvaged a draw against West Ham which by my reckoning makes it five dropped because it was officially the first six pointer of the season. The first but definitely not the last. Oh no, this is going to be the longest, most gruelling, emotionally draining, tense, fraught and fractious white-knuckle ride of a season that is more likely to bring Boro fans to the point of fisticuffs than any since Robbo's final chaotic campaign.

With ten games gone the cut-throat relegation war of attrition has been declared earlier than ever before with the Premiership table tighter than ever and positions thrown into flux with every form-book ripping result. Stoke beat Arsenal and leap from the drop spots to within a point of the top half, Newcastle edge nose past Villa and leap from rock bottom to 14th and one win away from sawing the top off the double decker bus of expectation.

Boro are in eighth but only three points clear of the drop. Everton are one point and one place better off but have won just one home game and look very poor and Hull are above them after a fairytale start but if reality bites they could dragged in too. And with no team looking likely to "do a Sunderland" as Derby did last year we are in a division with 14 teams involved in the dog-fight and it will fluctuate wildly by the week. This campaign will not be one for the faint hearts, although the polemicists from the two traditionally diametrically opposed ideological camps will be in their element.

Pretty much every game every week for as far as the eye can see to the horizon of eternity looks to be a six-pointer. No team can afford a slip. Certainly not two in a row. And while the boring squabble for position in the pre-determined top four will consume the Murdoch machine and its sycophantic spinners the real action, the tension and drama, will be down in the lower reaches as every fixture between the mass of mid-table makeweights will be played for high stakes and in a state of heightened emotion. The super-sized basement battle is where it is at.

Look at the fixtures this weekend...

Saturday:
Arsenal v Man Utd
Hull v Bolton
Liverpool v West Brom
Sunderland v Portsmouth
West Ham United v Everton
Wigan v Stoke

Sunday:
Aston Villa v Boro
Blackburn v Chelsea
Fulham v Newcastle
Man City v Spurs

Arsenal v Man United looks the least important game of the weekend. Any ground lost there - and chances are it will be a tetchy dull draw dominated by whingeing myopic managers, petulance, posing and sickening uncritical fawning - will be made up by routinely crushing the next unfortunate sacrificial lambs to the slaughter. The real urgency and absorbing action will unfold in the rest of the fixtures where the true sporting essence of uncertainty of outcome oozes.

And next week it is Six Pointer City too :

Arsenal v Villa
Blackburn v Sunderland
Bolton v Liverpool
Fulham v Spurs
Man Utd v Stoke
Newcastle v Wigan
West Brom v Chelsea
West Ham v Portsmouth
Everton v Boro
Hull v Man City

It is important we do not panic when results seem to swing against us, which at times they no doubt will in what is sure to be a sweat soaked season in which it will be beta blockers all round. As the campaign unfolds the weak will be worn down and we must ensure we are not among them. Boro must show steel and determination and the crowd must share that resolve. Getting tetchy and looking for scapegoats on or off the pitch may release some tension in what will be an excruciating trial of endurance but it won't do much for the team at a time when every little helps.

It is easy to see problems in the fragility of Boro's position - three points from a drop spot is an incontrovertible fact no matter what your natural disposition when it comes to judging the contents of a glass - but there are a dozen teams worse off and they face a tough uphill slog of unforgiving fixtures too.

Boro now have two tough away trips coming up to a pair of the teams immediately above us - Villa then Everton - from which a pathetic sounding two points will actually be a good return and three a fantastic one (although arguably two draws and the building of a long unbeaten run will be of greater psychological benefit .)

After that though comes the run of four six pointers in five games in the run-up to Christmas that will decide whether we are scrapping to stay just ahead of the merciless mid-table pack or battling anxiously to get back into it. Coming up are Bolton and Newcastle at home, Hull away (hopefully after the adrenaline has faded to be replaced by fear and vertigo) then after Arsenal visit the Riverside we go to Fulham.

All the teams currently below us have similar demanding runs. Some will climb above Boro with mini-revivals but some will fall by the wayside. The tight table will spread out and a couple will be tailed off. If we are still then just three points above the drop spots it may be time to locate the panic button. Until then, enjoy the tension.


Comments (59)

Mike wrote...

Whilst this makes for an exciting season for 14/15 teams, the ultimate outcome of repeated such seasons will see the departure of Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Liverpool to a European League. We will all end up the poorer. Isn't it time that the Premier League looked to North American Football and Baseball for some guidance? Michel Platini has some good ideas which could democratise European Football but will the big boys listen? I doubt it.

Posted by: Mike  | November 5, 2008 6:26 AM

ashcrofts afro wrote...

i was amazed at the table after Sundays games and can see this continuing right through the season. Teams will be taking points off each other left right and centre, because teams seem to be so much closer this season.

Makes for an interesting season in my eyes and a bun fight for pessimimistic among us.

Game On..............

Posted by: ashcrofts afro  | November 5, 2008 7:58 AM

Ian Gill wrote...

Mike

All went fine until I read Platini.

This the chap who went from France to Juventus because of the lure of playing in the biggest league in the world. He of course refused the huge wage that was offered.

This is the chap who gets upset at the transfer fees and salaries the premiership pay then says £60m and £160,000 a week for Ronaldo to go to Real is fair and ManU shouldnt stand in his way. The premier league has only caught up with Spain and Italy.

He doesnt like the lack of competition in the premiership whilst in France Lyon have won the title for as long as I can remember. Barca and Real have almost total dominance in Spain, the Milans, Juve and Roma in Italy

He doesnt like young kids leaving their mummies in France to come to the UK but has no problem with half of Africa going to play in France. Wasnt it the French who had a dicky fit when Drogba had the cheek to play for his home country instead of France.

Lots wrong with the premiership but I will accept Platini moans about money and its evils when the draws for UEFA competitions take place in a school gymnasium.

Sorry about that but hypocrsy and cant wind me up.

As for the gist of AV's article it will make for an exciting season. Now we are out of the Carling Cup lets hope one of the top four win it and cascade the UEFA cup place into the premiership. Same with the FA Cup, if we cant get to the final then let champions league qualifiers contest the final.

Then we will all have something to play for, most matches will have something resting on it. just as long as we dont get sucked into a relegation battle.

Just digging into my memory banks and I seem to remember AV stating last year that we were not in a relegation battle. Mmmm!

Posted by: Ian Gill  | November 5, 2008 8:54 AM

Shaun Hannon wrote...

Anthony,

There is no such thing as a six pointer game. Come on keep it real.It has be one of the worst phrases used in football. It stands out like the phrase 'revenge game'. Again there is no such thing either you win, lose or draw.

Posted by: Shaun Hannon  | November 5, 2008 8:59 AM

tonyblack wrote...

" BORO salvaged a draw against West Ham which by my reckoning makes it five dropped because it was officially the first six pointer of the season. "

Haha ! Oh ye of little faith Mr Vic - LMAO !

That's your opinion Vic and one that I don't share. I didn't view the West Ham game as any six pointer or points dropped. I viewed it as 4 points from a possible six and about as good as we can hope for.

We beat Man City which I don't think anyone expected and so I think that these 6 pointers are all a load of rubbish.

I think when you start to view games so early on in this way it's because you have little faith in either the team, the manager, or both.

I have a fair bit of faith in the team.

I sincerely hope that Gareth doesn't subscribe to your point of view as I think the phrase alone puts unwanted and added pressure on things. For me these are all just games that are worth 3 points like all the rest and that we set out to win each and every one absolutely thinking we can and then think about the next.

Gareth said judge me on this year, so apart from the usual week to week debates we have in here then I'm happy to stick to that until the end of the season to be fair.

I do like Gareth, even if he's not my cup of tea as a manager and I do actually feel sorry for him because he is trying his very best. I think he's been very unlucky because if the overhead kick from a few games ago doesn't wrongly get called off side then I think we would all be talking rather differently now.

For me, Gareth's main problem has been that he didn't pick a stronger backroom team. Had he not gone for Coops and Co and put in a couple of more experienced people who would give him a few more options then I think he would have done rather better.

I don't know why he doesn't do it now to be honest. Even if he keeps Coops and Co because he likes them or thinks they're good e.t.c. I still think that he could freshen things up a lot more with a stronger head of physiotherapy and a new nutritionalist e.t.c. just to bring in a bit more quality and a few more new and different ideas, that's all.

After all, if he's willing to hire a man to give the lads yoga, then I think he can do even more.

I'm not just anti Gareth, I'm anti the lack of changes in many areas and if Gareth showed he had the strength of character and understanding to strengthen many more areas then I think that a lot more people would give him a bit more breathing space.

I also think that Gareth needs to hold a few more press conferences to actually talk to the fans about what he's actually doing to make changes to the club as opposed to just talking to the media about events of the day.

He could have told us all about this new yoga guy that he's hired for example and what this guy is specifically trying to achieve. Maybe he's there to help concentration levels - Great. I'm asbolutely all for these things and absolutely commend him for doing them, but why not let us know rather than leaving it to the grape vine which often makes a mockery of such things ?

He could tell us a bit more detail about the new fitness guy they brought in and explain what the differences are, what's changed and what his objectives are.

Now, if he said that because we seem to have so many injuries I done this, that and the other and so on, again I think it would give him a lot more credibility as someone who is actively trying to steer the ship and alter its course as opposed to the ship just allowing it to sail along.

Obvioulsy he is doing things and all i'm saying is that he just needs to be a lot more vocal about these changes so that we can all actually get a very clear understanding of what's going on.

Of course what happens on the pitch and the size of the squad matters the most. But at the end of the day we can see all of these things and judge them. As Gareth is a new manager then anything he can do to get us all on board his vision for the future so that we have faith in what he's doing can't be a bad thing.

TB

Posted by: tonyblack  | November 5, 2008 9:39 AM

Smoggy In Exile wrote...

AV - you got this much right, it's going to be one hell of a rollercoaster season.

At the moment I can't see a weak link, or links, in the league. Just when I was thinking that Bolton looked down and out they beat Villa 2-0 at home. If only we can match that result at Villa Park on Sunday...

Stoke look to be strong and confident, if a little lacking in finesse for the football purists (although youtube "Rory Delap" and watch his throw ins compilation and I'm sure you'll be impressed), and West Brom showed resiliance to come back from behind last weekend against Blackburn. And Hull - well, Man Utd got the fright of their lives last weekend.

So, no lambs to the slaughter quite yet, no obvious "out of their depth" sides like Derby, Watford, Sunderland in years gone by.

The table is exciting from 3rd place down for me. Chelsea and Liverpool (the luckiest team in the league this year?) look like top 3 sides, and Man Utd will probably make up the 3. After that Arsenal look even shakier than last year, and I wouldn't bet against Woodgate's crew from storming up the league now somebody's figured out how to line them up.

Fingers crossed that the cups are won by Liverpool/Chelsea/Man Utd as Ian Gill says, and then we'll have some real excitement.

My worry, Boro-wise, is that our goal difference is already pretty poor. This could lead to us getting a draw or a 1-0 defeat and sliding several places down the table, which psychologically won't be good. As long as we can stay upwards of 14th I won't be too worried, but lets just hope the players don't start thinking about their Christmas holidays as usual...

Posted by: Smoggy In Exile  | November 5, 2008 10:33 AM

jiffy wrote...

The difference in the nature of this season's dogfight compared to past seasons is the subject of an article in todays Telegraph reproduced below.

IT is unprecedented. Never before have so many teams been separated by so few points at this stage in the season. One win could prove all the difference between a survival scrap or a battle to secure European football.

Small wonder, then, that this campaign is already the tightest since Division One morphed into the Premier League.

That things are already so congested does, at least, suggest neutrals are in for a fascinating relegation dogfight.

The mathematics speak for themselves. Going into the 12th round of matches of the latest instalment of the world's richest league, 11 teams, from eighth down, are within three points of each other.

Occupying that eighth spot, Middlesbrough should be quietly satisfied with their steady start to the season. They lie just a point behind Everton, ideally positioned for an assault on a European spot.

Newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion, meanwhile, are just one place from the foot of the table, deep in the relegation mire. Yet Tony Mowbray's men are only three points behind Middlesbrough despite being separated by half the division.

Should West Brom record a shock win at Anfield on Saturday, and Boro lose at Villa Park 24 hours later, they would likely leapfrog Gareth Southgate's side.

Last season's soccer soap opera ended in final-day drama as Reading, Birmingham and Fulham fought to avoid the drop, yet Everton were some 12 points ahead of 19th-placed Bolton at this stage of the campaign.

The season before, when West Ham, Fulham, Wigan and Sheffield United played out the final heartbreaking act, things were scarcely more open as Guy Fawkes' night approached. Liverpool's poor start to the season saw them eighth, but nevertheless nine points and 11 places ahead of Newcastle.

In 1995-96, the lines between the top and bottom of the table were already drawn so starkly as to be insurmountable. Leeds, chasing hard at the top, were 14 points ahead of Coventry, just off the bottom.

Only one Premier League season has come close to a mass relegation battle in the way that the current season is seemingly shaping up, the inaugural campaign in 1992.

Then, in early November, eighth-placed Ipswich were just six points ahead of Southampton. It was a year which saw six teams finish within three points of relegated Crystal Palace. Yet the evidence suggests the finish to this campaign could be even more tense.

It is certainly safe to say that no side in the division, the fabled 'Big Four' and Aston Villa apart, can be entirely confident they will have Premier League status this time next year.

Among the most worried will perhaps be the world's wealthiest club, Manchester City, a Wigan side boasting the league's leading marksman, Amr Zaki, Newcastle and West Ham and Sunderland, who have spent almost as much as Chelsea over the last two years.

Tottenham must have been especially concerned until new manager Harry Redknapp's miraculous intervention. Spurs are two points adrift at the bottom but unlikely to stay there if Redknapp maintains his Midas touch.

Should the former Portsmouth manager's luck hold and Spurs secure another three points against Manchester City on Sunday, they could find themselves in a comparatively safe 14th place, assuming results elsewhere go in their favour.

Last term, had Derby managed a win in the corresponding round of fixtures at this point in the season, they would have found themselves no higher than 17th. But even the magic of Redknapp will not necessarily exempt the fans at White Hart Lane from the pain of a fight for survival. History is against them.

Of the last 12 sides that were relegated to the Championship, only two, Reading and Birmingham last time out, have been more than three points off the bottom when the bonfires are lit. A long, hard season lies ahead.

Posted by: jiffy  | November 5, 2008 10:35 AM

Rob wrote...

Anthony,

Can you tell me when a flick is not a flick? Barton get off scott free for flicking his hand at an opponents face on Monday. Last Season Aliadiere get a three match ban for a very similar incident and when the club appeal the FA impose a further one match ban. Or is Barton getting an easy ride after his past crimes.Seems to me the big clubs still get favoured by the FA.
Rob

Posted by: Rob  | November 5, 2008 11:37 AM

ITALIA RED wrote...

We are in a very false position , as long as Southgate is there we will struggle ..
We will be behind Newcastle after Sunday..

Posted by: ITALIA RED  | November 5, 2008 12:23 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

Jiffy

I read the aforementioned artcle just after I had ranted about Platini. I must admit I posted on AV's last thread how tight it was compared to previous seasons. May well need 40+ points to be safe.

Elsewhere I posted would we be looking upwards or over our shoulders after the 10 match test. My view was Typical Boro and both.

Sadly the Spirit of Rockcliffe has breathed on Tuncay and now he is talking about europe! Ground Hog day all over again.

But it will be exciting for a while yet.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | November 5, 2008 12:31 PM

Aberdeen Brian wrote...

I also think it will be a hell of a season - "hell" being the operative word at times, for all Boro fans.

Yes there are going to be euphoric highs, matched by gut-wrenching lows as the Boro bandwagon rolls along the rocky path. But I'll tell you something - it will be happening in the Premier league, not in the Championship or worse.

Look at the likes of Leeds and Notts Forest and tell me their fans wouldn't swap places like a shot.

Certainly I'd love to be confident that Boro are more likely to win every game than not, but with the Premiership much more open this season I'm going to be in the same position as fans of any of the other clubs around us.

But for all that I'm still optimistic and all the moaning minnies needn't bother me with their whingeing - Boro are in the Premier League on merit, punching above their weight at times - and long may it continue!

COB

Posted by: Aberdeen Brian  | November 5, 2008 12:49 PM

Werdermouth wrote...

Outside the Big 4 there doesn't seem to be any standout squads and it's all on the performance on the day along with a bit of luck.

We could easily be sitting pretty on 20 points - likewise we could be bottom.

But we've already had our mini injury crisis and just about got through but other teams may start to struggle with their squads in the coming months.

I'm hoping Villa will be suffering from a UEFA cup hangover on Sunday as psychologically it's very important to hang in there at the top half of the table.

As for Sunday's team it may well be the time to rest Downing and I'd be tempted to play Tuncay on the left so that we can accomodate both Alves and Mido.

As for central midfield - start with Digard and GON with Arca coming off the bench again.

Also will Southgate risk splitting Riggott and Pogi or will Wheater now play left back as Hoyte had a decent game.

Posted by: Werdermouth  | November 5, 2008 2:19 PM

stockton red wrote...

By the New Year everybody will have played 20 games and we might have a clearer idea of which way the land is lying.
Tuncay's comments today along with Downing 's last week dont impress me one bit.I'd rather players did their talking on the pitch.If after 28 or 29 games we have reached 40 points then by all means start shouting that we're going all out for Uefa qualification.Until that happens please dont bother.

Posted by: stockton red  | November 5, 2008 5:33 PM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

If you ask any supporter from Everton down then they will say they have had a rocky off on start to the season and thats where we fit in too.
What a kerfuffle.

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | November 5, 2008 6:26 PM

Redcar Red wrote...

There are 16 teams in a relegation battle so far. At least that makes us no worse than most and indeed thus far this season better off than most.

What really rankles me is that when we consider what we have screwed up this season through our own ineptitude where could we be sitting right now?

Liverpool, Sunderland, WBA, Blackburn and West Ham are all games we could have taken more from and be plus another 5 to 7 points better off! more importantly perhaps is that with the exception of Liverpool those "Relegation" clubs would individually be 1,2 or 3 points worse off!

The mediocrity of the Premiership this season has kept our hopes and fears alive in equal measure. Our inability to capitalise is something that we must put to bed and quickly. I doubt Gareth will have a better opportunity than this season to make his mark in Management.

This has to start on Sunday and I want to see a performance from a Boro side wanting and believing in 3 points against a much travelled, weary and bruised Villa side.

There is a saying, "once is an accident, twice is unfortunate but three times is deliberate!".

An inept performance against Cardiff was accidental, versus Chelsea unfortunate so West Ham presumably was deliberate? Now I won't go so far as to say 60 mins of headless chicken tactics was deliberate as his substitutions did pull it round but there cannot be a repeat of those "Rabbits in headlamps" demotivational Southgate team talks pre kick off.

4 points from our next 2 away games is possible and will define our season by distancing ourselves from the pack and nudging closer to the big 4. Question is has Gareth got the savvy and courage to do what is needed. Will he sort out the left? Will he sort his midfield? Will he inspire and lead? Will he stand up for himself and actually complain to officials about offsides, bookings etc.? Will he succomb to his own brand of "Big Name syndrome" yet again?

He has some big decisions to make come Sunday, lets hope he calls it right or at least the "Big Names" repay his misplaced faith in them. Lets face it they owe it to him in abundance!

Posted by: Redcar Red  | November 5, 2008 9:23 PM

Pedro de Espana wrote...

After reading the above excellant posts, I thought I would just check out the fixture list, as I will be back in the UK at xmas. Then scrolled down to see the following matches, until I got to the last five. I am panicing already after seing those, and as AV has written above, not for the faint hearted.

Posted by: Pedro de Espana  | November 5, 2008 9:28 PM

Steve T wrote...

Boro have been in a basement battle every year bar one since we first came back up to the Premiership.

Posted by: Steve T  | November 6, 2008 10:30 AM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

Its interesting that one of Downings reasons for his dip in form is that he feels he sees less of the ball now Fabio Rochemback has gone.

Can anyone remember a game this season where one of our central midfielders has put Downing in down the channel? Maybe Arca slid a ball wide left for Stewy to run on to? Once the passes dont come you stop making runs and possession is lost.
I still think we have not replaced Fabio.

Talk of europe at the mo by some players is a joke, we didnt win a game in September even though we should have won three. Plus we dont have a big enough squad to remain progressive for 38 games, thats been proved already.
I hope Stewys form improves as we need him.

I will settle for a draw away to villa but if we start slow me may not even get that.

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | November 6, 2008 2:31 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

Ignorant

We seem to play mostly down the right at the moment.

There may be a couple of reasons. One is that Downing is nearly always double marked anyway so there is more room on the right.

The other could simply be the balance of the team. Without a playmaker we are struggling to control games. We have
been talking about a creative midfield player with an engine for what seems like years. Oh to blend O'Neill with either of Rocky or Arca!

A possibility is that he is just out of touch.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | November 6, 2008 3:12 PM

Malc wrote...

"This campaign will not be one for the faint hearts, although the polemicists from the two traditionally diametrically opposed ideological camps will be in their element."

Overwritten, Vic. You can do better than this verbose nonsense.

Posted by: Malc  | November 6, 2008 6:24 PM

steve h wrote...

Why all the negativity? Why not see it as a 14 team race for Europe?

I think that the big 4 have now become so powerful that the rest have levelled off into anybody can beat anybody. A lot of players that you would usually expect to play for the likes of Villa, Spurs and Everton in the group behind the CL teams have now joined the big 4, which is almost a big 8 as they could probably all field 2 teams that would finish above the rest of the league.

It means that there are no outstanding teams in the race for the Uefa cup. We are closer to 7th than we are to relegation. That got us into Europe last time...

Posted by: steve h  | November 6, 2008 8:22 PM

Rchard wrote...

Malc, intentional or not, that last post was very sharp & witty!

"This campaign will not be one for the faint hearts, although the polemicists from the two traditionally diametrically opposed ideological camps will be in their element."

I rather liked it, Vic.

146 characters (171 with spaces), 26 words. Average word length 5.6 chars.

Version specially for Malc:

"I'm half full, you're half empty. It'll be tough but only one of us will be crapping it!"

73 Characters, (90 with spaces), 18 words. Average word length 4.0

Sorted!

How's that Malc?

Oh, and by the way, in case anyone's wondering, a polemicist isn't a type of lap-dancer! (So I'm told)

**AV writes: OK, I've subbed it down:

"Ra-ras, moaners: at each other all term"

39 characters (including three punctuation marks and spaces), seven words, average word length 5.5.

Posted by: Rchard  | November 6, 2008 9:42 PM

BR14 wrote...

"Isn't it time that the Premier League looked to North American Football and Baseball for some guidance"

Eeek! Thats the last place to look. Obviously you've never experienced the intense boredom of profit making clubs that couldn't care less about being competitive since there's no relegation.

If the big four leave, rather than being poorer, the rest of the Premier League would be vastly more interesting and we might even have some competition for top spot.

Posted by: BR14  | November 6, 2008 9:52 PM

BoroPhil wrote...

Why are some people getting so upset that our players are talking up our chances of getting into europe? Are they the same people that shout people down who call us 'a small town in europe' for not having the right mentality?

Some people are just determined to be negative and strangle any sort of positivity than emerges from the club.

We are 8th, not 18th. We may be 18th in the future, but then again, we may be 5th.

Stop worrying so much and try and enjoy it a bit more?

Posted by: BoroPhil  | November 6, 2008 11:15 PM

David T wrote...

I'm dreading it. Not the football, that will be the same so-so grind as usual.

I'm dreading the wails of outrage every time Boro drop a point, the screams of anguish if we lose in a week Bolton/ Fulham /Hull win, and the hysterical demands for Southgate's head if we lose two in a row or drop into the bottom three. The belly-aching will see me off this season I think.

Posted by: David T  | November 6, 2008 11:48 PM

Forever Dormo wrote...

Concensus of opinion at the Slaughtered Badger last night (whilst casting a sly glimpse at Celtic v Man U) was that the leaving of the Big Four might be the saving of the Premier League. At least what was left it would be competitive. We wouldn't know, a season in advance, who would be occupying all 4 top places (and probably winning the cups).

We were much exercised over what would happen TV-wise to the two leagues (European and Premier leagues). We guessed that money would be the deciding factor. What would the viewing figures be like and therefore how much would the advertising rates be? Sky only gets a small audience even for "big games". Match of the Day does better for edited highlights. A live game on BBC or ITV wipes the floor with either of them (and we won't even sully the lips with mention of Setanta).

Chelsea v Man U, or Real Madrid or Barcelona are the big draws. But neutral people get sick of eating the same food all the time. A nice bit of rump might be tasty, but if you had to eat it time and time again? I'd rather watch Boro against the Blind School than watch the top four teams, and no doubt others feel the same way in respect of "their" club.

What would be interesting, if the Big Four left the league, is whether they should then be allowed into the League and the FA Cup competitions. Maybe the Champions League would become their league and the UEFA Cup "their" FA Cup.

I'm sure there would be a big European audience for Shatkhar Donestsk v Sporting Lisbon in the Final (Not!). It would be fun to pitch that against an FA Cup Final played at the same time (any teams, say Everton v Newcastle).

Man U fans probably want to see their team against Man City in the league. A competitive league has got to be a more attractive sporting proposition than the Premier League currently presents. Look, if push comes to shove, I'd be content to go along to see Darlo and Hartlepool in a "real competition" if the whole of the rich man's edifice that is European top level football, comes crashing down.

Lecture over. Sorry. Had to get it off the chest.

A point would be a good result at Villa, but I agree we have to be positive and "go for them" early doors. If you don't try, you are unlikely to get....and three points followed by a defeat would be better than 2 draws. Points mean prizes, don't they? (Sorry, again. Started to get enthusiastic once more).

Posted by: Forever Dormo  | November 6, 2008 11:56 PM

Forever Dormo wrote...

I should have said in the last post it was our conclusion that eventually any TV SuperLeague will probably become global and therefore there would be no place in it for Man U, Arsenal, Chelsea AND Liverpool. With the world's emerging economies wanting to get in on the act you can imagine the scenario.

There would be a team from Shanghai, one from Tokyo, and others from the likes of Rio, Buenos Aires, Manila, Bombay (let's stick to the names we know and love, OK?), Cairo, say Jo'burg or Lagos, Sydney and the powerhouse cities of Europe like Rome, Madrid, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Moscow or St Petersburg, and that is at least 14 teams already. If it is the global TV companies who sponsor the event, there will be teams from the major global connurbations in the league.

We haven't mentioned a lot of countries here, or the fact that some of them (like India and China at least) could come up with several megacity locations. Hey, if you have a population of 1.3 or 1.1 Billion and economies growing faster than the rest of the world, why should you be limited to only one team in the league? Those who contribute most to the audience and bring most to the party might get the best seats at the table. And even then we have to suspect that American money would ensure a New York or an LA team in the list as yet another attempt to spread the game to the USA.

All in all, then, you have to conclude that the global league would not contain 4 clubs from England. Most likely only one, but at most two (and how would Man U and Liverpool feel about combining, or Chelsenal appearing in the league as London is, after all, the only global city in these islands?). Presumably the "rejected teams" would be coming back, cap in hand, to rejoin our national football pyramid if the European League grew to a World League.

Would we want them back? Maybe invite Man U to rejoin at Northern Premier League level or even lower, if they feel confident they would retain their players and eventually fight their way back to the top (in time for that star 17 year old to get a game in the top division before he retires)?

By this time, of course, we had moved on to the Rancid Calf and were past caring. Or maybe it was just the kebab on the way home....

Posted by: Forever Dormo  | November 7, 2008 12:29 AM

Richard wrote...

In support of Borophil, I've brought some of another piece over from Boro Banter:

In some pundits' views, public declarations of club ambition by individual players seem to be no more than deluded ramblings.

At a time when the league table is more wide-open than ever I can remember in the last ten years or so, those who will succeed and make the most of the opportunity will NOT be those who are anything other than ambitious, aggressive and tenacious in pursuit of the ambition, whether it is based on realistic assessment of capability or not.

So if a Boro player says he wants to take the club into European competition this year or next, then I say, "Good for you, mate!"

And it should be music to the ears of ambitious Boro supporters also, who instead of castigating players efforts to reinforce positive public support, you would think, should be looking to get behind them in their efforts to deliver for the club, the support in general and themselves as sportsmen.

So, although Stewart Downing and Tuncay's recent upbeat announcements of intent and European ambition may not square too readily with the jaundiced (they'll claim "realistic", I'm sure!) views of some time-hardened and Typical Boro supporters, the alternatives could, in reality, be much worse.

The "flat" league as it stands with 11 matches now having been played, offers opportunities to more clubs this season. Irrespective of "Typical Boro" mentality, Boro must take the view that we're there, in 8th place, on merit!

Yes, on merit!

So, when players declare ambition, rather than be influenced by the scepticism of dyed-in-the-wool, would-be "told you sos" waiting for the next slip, trip or fall, it would be more in keeping with our joint ambitions to see Boro supporters, as well as players, rise to the challenge of a season that is there for the taking.

**AV writes: Can you imagine the reaction if we won at Villa and in the post-match press conference Southgate said: "That's just papering over the cracks really. We know we are in the relegation battle and will be lucky to stay up. The squad is poor. We just have to hope there are three teams worse than us"?

That is what some people want. Anything short of that and they are condemned as high on foam finger fumes.

Posted by: Richard  | November 7, 2008 1:02 AM

John Powls wrote...

I suppose it all adds to the fun in journo-land to characterise people and things at either end of some spectrum with, in Boro's case, Chicken-Run and Foam Hand at either end of it.

Provokes mileage on blogs too.

But as in most areas of human endeavour, the normal distribution is king with most folks grouped round the average and knowing that life isn't either/or it's both/and.

The glass is half full AND half empty - at least until the mass challenged chanteuse gets on stage.

At the moment - as Ian Gill reminded us the other day - the good lady is still doing her laundry and hasn't even got to the theatre.

So can it be in pronouncements from players.

Optimism and ambition is good and in fact absolutely necessary - as you say, we'd soon complain if that wasn't shown or we got given the opposite.

But it's the way this 'Europe' line is trotted out by players whenever Boro string together a win that can be annoying.

It's happened so consistently and includes players like Tuncay who speaks very little English that you have to wonder if there's a line been spun by MFC that they - or their club interpreter gets told to take.

AV - you have often spoken fondly of those players who don't always tow the party line. I'm sure they're mostly optimistic and ambitious but realistic and how often do they trot out the 'Europe' thing?

There are positive and acceptable ways of putting realism, like:

"This is a league where anyone can beat anyone, outside the top four - and sometimes even the top four slip up too!

Given the squad we've got and what we've achieved so far, you'd have to say that a top ten finish must be a reasonable ambition and we're determined to do at least that.

But as everyone knows, and like all the other clubs outside that top four, the first priority is to keep the run going and hit the magic forty point mark as soon as we can.

Once we've done that then, who knows. What's for sure is we're ambitious and looking up the league and we won't be found wanting for effort and commitment in bringing success to the club."

I've heard other Prem managers and players blessed with much greater resources than Boro's and with a longer history of better Prem finishes say stuff like that and not get slaughtered because they aren't trumpeting about Europe or doing 'an Eeyore'.

If they're asked the direct question they often say stuff like, "It's far too early to talk about that, there are tough games coming up but we'd hope to be in a position to give ourselves a chance to push on when the season reaches it's business end."

May not make for an easy headline in hack-land (unless it's of the trumped up 'so-and-so won't say Boro will get to Europe' variety that everyone recognises for the slow news day desperation that it is) but it would bring along the majority who are in the middle of the distribution.

Posted by: John Powls  | November 7, 2008 10:11 AM

Nigel wrote...

BoroPhil - well said, I agree, we're in 8th on merit and its time to enjoy the moment. We don't know where the season will take us, which is the fun isn't it? What would be the point if we knew the outcome in advance?

I don't know what the result will be at Villa, a win would be an excellent result, a draw would be good and a defeat would not be the end of the world.

Richard - I hope you're wearing your crash helmet because the usual culprits will
be busy posting telling you why you're wrong, why we're going down, why GS is no good and why SG should sell to a foreign billionaire! And why the players have no right to talk of UEFA qualification.

As for me, if my teams players didn't have ambitions for playing in Europe and didn't have the belief they could do it I would be truely worried. For certain if they don't believe they can prosper in the prem. then we really so have a relegation battle on our hands!

Being high on foam hand fumes I predict a Boro 2-1 win on Sunday!!

Posted by: Nigel  | November 7, 2008 10:26 AM

paul bell wrote...

We are 3 points off 2nd bottom of the league on merit.
YES.... ON MERIT!

Posted by: paul bell  | November 7, 2008 11:18 AM

John Powls wrote...

AV

What's the truth on the Sky story that Boro have agreed a six month loan for an 'attacking midfield player' from the land of Szilard Nemeth, Slovakia to take effect in January?

The story is supposed to have come from his club and carries quotes from 'officials' that allegedly confirm.

It says he was over on a trial earlier in the season and played in the reserves but wasn't taken on. I must have missed that.

It has all the hallmarks of another 'one for the future'. Let's hope it is as well as 'one (at least) for now'.

I also see that what I predicted about the reality of Boro going for Defour is coming about. I pointed out, amongst other things, that Felainie who is not Defour's equal went to Everton for £15m.

Now, it is said that Witzel, also from the Standard Liege midfield, who may have been a more affordable target is on the radar for the big four and they have been quoted £15m again.

You can add another £5m onto that for Defour.

So, he's not a realistic target but there others, much more affordable, who are.

**AV writes: Is this Peter Gal-Andrezly from MFK Kosice? I have seen the link but I haven't been in today so know nothing of how much there is in the story.

Mind, we have had quotes from the other club before without anything concrete (there was a Czech keeper last year insisted he had signed if I recall correctly.)

I can't see how this fella he could have played for the ressies without international clearance but he may well have trained. They run the rule over people all the time (Robert Earnshaw, Morten Gamst Pedersen for two) without taking it any further.

Sounds like an extended loan for a youngster so they can have a longer look. If he comes it will probably be as a Goulon style prospect rather than a first teamer.

Posted by: John Powls  | November 7, 2008 3:38 PM

macthesmoggie wrote...

"paul bell wrote...
We are 3 points off 2nd bottom of the league on merit.
YES.... ON MERIT!"


There are 12 teams below us on merit.
YES.... ON MERIT!

Posted by: macthesmoggie  | November 7, 2008 4:12 PM

jc wrote...

Gal-Andrezly played for Slovakia's U19s recently, and doesn't appear to have played any first team games for Kosice, so definitely one for the future, if one at all.

Posted by: jc  | November 7, 2008 4:17 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

There is no problem with our players being ambitious, they just have to be careful what they say when the microphone appears because it can come back to bite their bums. Luckily journalists are not the sort of people to take quotes out of context or misrepresent stories.

The problem we have is over hyping and creating false expectations. Sadly we are used to them being unfulfilled. An outbreak of 'foot in mouth' is usually followed by a loss of power to the limbs as 'europe/going all the way' morphs into a no show followed by the 'need to show a reaction' followed by 'that was the response we needed to show'

This isnt me being negative, I will be at Villa Park cheering the lads on. There wont be a boo or heckle out of me. I am happy with 8th at the moment and look forward to edging up the table.

John sums up what is needed above, a positive, upbeat message that isnt a hostage to fortune.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | November 7, 2008 5:37 PM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

Okay I admit that its good for the players to be talking about Europe and being ambitious.

Falling into the relegation places before in previous seasons has hampered our playing style as players begin to 'Brick it' and panic and not stay calm and do the right thing. I would much rather we stayed up away from all that as the fans and the teams MOJO is easily lost. Plus we have not got much experience in the squad for when things dont go our way.

Ian Gill, you are right about Downings form but if he gets 'doubled up on ' by the oppositions players then Taylor should back Downing up on the overlap .If a central mid fielder could find it in their heart to help out then we could even play pretty little triangles round the other team and even keep position in the enemy third. Sweet Jesus we could even go one step further and beat the fullback and put a cross on Alves/Mido's head. Sorry Ian this is not aimed at you its just we seem to be all down the right too much.

I hope I am proved wrong at Villa and Stewey roasts his marker , runs to the byline and whips in an exquisite ball for Afonso to bullet header in!

UP THE BORO

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | November 7, 2008 5:49 PM

Forever Dormo wrote...

I agree with John Powles in his 10.11am post about “positive and acceptable ways of putting realism” in quotations from football managers. That’s what a sensible, media savvy manager SHOULD say.

And JP was right in his observation – it is incorrect to say the glass is either half full or half empty because it is both half full AND half empty. The only difference when supporters look at the glass is their attitude to the quantity of liquid inside, because the amount doesn’t actually change.

While we are on the subject I don’t expect us to be relegated this season. Mid-table is the likely outcome. I would however consider the glass on the fullish side of halfway if we managed to stay as high as eighth. It is possible, but not something to put the mortgage on – even if the base rate has now been given the chop. Tenth would be an advance and, for good measure, it would be a glorious luxury to go into the last couple of months knowing we are safe, so we can enjoy the rest of the season.

Posted by: Forever Dormo  | November 7, 2008 9:50 PM

Redcar Red wrote...

There is an old adage "How do you eat an Elephant?.......a bit at a time!"

Consequently I think there should be less talk of "Europe" and more focus on the forthcoming Villa game because what is happening out on the pitch at the moment is not European form or anything like it. Europe will become a reality if Stewy and Tuncay do their talking on the pitch.

"A journey of a thousand miles can begin with a single Stewy stepover and far post cross to Tuncay."

Posted by: Redcar Red  | November 8, 2008 5:27 PM

chris wrote...

Well it's official Southgate reads these pages......Has everyone seen his latest statements about playing teams on another financial tier?We are not talking the big four here we are talking Villa.

Also if we finish 8-10th then that has been a good season....mmmmm. Seems to me that this is an attempt to lower our expectations/demands and as a result not be suprised when we get trounced by the likes of spurs,villa and city later in the season as well as anyone else with a bigger cheque book

I know this is what this blog has been talking about but does anyone really want to hear that we are playing on a different level to teams with more backing and should battle for a result but to expect the worst?

Seems to me that if 'our level' is based on financial clout we are certainly in the bottom quarter of the premiership and as a result 'mfc' believe any season above the bottom five is a good season....seems a far cry from a few years ago after the EUFA CUP final and promises of pushing on and World Class managers.

Old nuts I know but does GS believe he can build a team of youngsters and let them develop as a squad and bare fruit? It is very niave if he does becouse as soon as any of our players perform at a higher level they will be whisked away to a bench in the top four. Leaving us with massive holes in our paper thin squad....just look at what happened with Young! Not to mention the strikers the year before!

Seems to me 'Go try your best lads we know they are at a higher level than us' is not a good team talk!

Posted by: chris  | November 9, 2008 9:45 AM

Zafer  wrote...

Well folks,

Tuncay started talking today on the pitch. (A. Villa: 1 - Boro 2.)Both goals from Tuncay. As a fan of Tuncay and Fenerbahçe from Turkey, I have also become a fan of Boro. So I am reading and following closely the comments here. Knowing Tuncay very well, I just suggest that you guys have more confidence in him.

However, Tuncay must improve his English as well if he really wants to win the hearts of the Boro fans. I am sure he will take of it, too, along with his improving form. I hope he will not be sidelined with any more injuries.We need him in the national team as well.

Greetings from Ankara-Turkey.

**AV writes: Welcome Zafer. No need to worry, most Boro fans love Tuncay. I think he is brilliant. How do people back in Turkey think he is doing here?

Posted by: Zafer  | November 9, 2008 5:15 PM

Jarkko wrote...

Nigel: "Being high on foam hand fumes I predict a Boro 2-1 win on Sunday!!"

SO you were spot on! Boro won and are still 8th in the league. And on merit!!!

Up the Boro!

Posted by: Jarkko  | November 9, 2008 6:12 PM

Forever Dormo wrote...

For the benefit of Zafer from Ankara, most of the Boro supporters I speak to realise that Tuncay gives our team that spark of quality that is needed to open up Premier League defences.

He is often mentioned as "the best link between midfield and our attackers" and as today proves, he has an eye for goal. He is one of the hardest workers in the team, and that is something Boro fans value very highly: a player with heart.

Ask Carragher how good he is. Some weeks after the Liverpool game at Anfield at the start of the season, I heard a couple of national radio commentators (from TalkSport) gently poking fun at Carragher over it - along the lines that his neck must have suffered whiplash injury from having been turned so quickly by Tuncay. If all our players are fit (some hope this season - I see Mido picked up an injury again on Friday in training!) Tuncay is the first name on the team sheet.

Anyway, what a great result at Villa. And as for Chris at 9.45am, it seems that the manager's half-time team talk must have been good enough after all.

Sensible positivity and encouragement are much better than foolish posturing. None of the players would believe him anyway if he said "Come on lads, we are the best team in the country and we are going to murder this Everton/Arsenal/Man U team". But they will know they are reasonable players, and that some of them will get better, and as a team and with everyone playing to the best of their ability we can challenge anyone.

Hopefully no-one will be floating too high above the ground after this result, though. It is great to be eighth in the league, and it would be even better to be higher still. But clubs are so closely congested from about 7th downwards that we are still not out of sight for those in the relegation positions.

Posted by: Forever Dormo  | November 10, 2008 12:42 AM

Richard wrote...

Nigel:
As Jarkko has picked up - are YOU the bogey man? And will you please pay a visit for me to Ladbrokes next Saturday morning?

I still can't leave the house without a crash-helmet, or dark glasses and a false beard!

Posted by: Richard  | November 10, 2008 1:31 AM

Nigel wrote...

Richard/Jarkko - Well, I now have proof that miracles do happen. I always predict Boro's result ahead of every game but I never post my predictions let alone place a bet because my predictions if true would make us champions every year and make Lawro look like a genius.

Why I decided to post my prediction on this occasion is a mystery even to me, but I won't be making a habit of it. Save to say that my feeling is we're in for a decent season!

As for Tuncay, he is a great player with out doubt, even though our second goal came from a mistake from Sidwell, Tuncay's determination and energy put him in a position to take advantage and his finishing was emphatic.

It was an excellent all round team performance also, if we can produce those performances more consistently then we will compete in the top half this season.

Posted by: Nigel  | November 10, 2008 9:22 AM

Ian Gill wrote...

A well desreved three points no matter what O'Neill claimed. Their long ball game was in contrast to some of the measured football we tried to play.

They looked cumbersome at the back and we had the better chances, none more so than when Alves missed from Friedels parry. Oddly it was from roughly the same spot that Mido fired from last year.

Best moment of the day was when our Argentinian Land Crab (its not my fault he scuttles about) had the ball 35 yards out. A quick dilly and dally then he was the other side of the two Villa players in the open. Sadly they had the ball in acres of space and it was 35 yards from our goal. Mr Powls face was an absolute picture. Arca probably still needs some match time but he does his best work in the other part of pitch.

Still, alls well that ends well. The move for our winner was a delight. Ball down the flank for Aliadiere who was closed down by two players. Going for the win he pulled it back to just outside the box. A sure touch by Sidwell then a delightful ball roled in to Tuncay who didnt have to break stride. Thats what we missed when we didnt buy him! Oops!

Downing looked good with his range of passing and shooting off both feet. We are still a little open in central midfield but hopefully that will come

Posted by: Ian Gill  | November 10, 2008 9:54 AM

Nigel wrote...

Just to pick up on Tuncay's importance to the team and also to draw a comparison with Juninho. Although I see Juninho as a legend etc. I do agree with AV that Tuncay is becoming/is a better player than Juninho was for Boro. Tuncay has so much to his game, he is a top class all round footballer and most importantly a superb team player. He does it all, tracks back, tackles, closes down defenders, and when he has the opportunity shows moments of genius such as his turn against Carragher which was truely wonderful to watch.
He's also a great finisher, lets just hope he stays fit!

Posted by: Nigel  | November 10, 2008 10:47 AM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

Zafer,
Tuncay is amazing and every Boro fan must love his energy and spirit.
Boro are not the same without him in the team and I am delighted we beat Villa and even Downing had a great game so all is well once again [ except maybe Alves rushing his finishing, sort it out son]

Up the BORO

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | November 10, 2008 11:12 AM

tim from sa wrote...

Great result last night great performances all round.
In tricky conditions for both teams we kept the ball on the ground for most of the game where they opted to punt upfront.
Next up Everton if we can pull a point there that will set us up for the next two home games.
Well done to Gareth and the team.

Posted by: tim from sa  | November 10, 2008 11:52 AM

Zafer wrote...

Hello folks, (Thanks also to AV.)
I am very glad to hear the nice comments you made about Tuncay. You can't believe how closely many people in Turkey (especially Fenerbahçe fans) follow his performance in England.

There is always a talk about him at every corner. People question about him or Boro each weekend. Some of the favorite questions among Boro fans in Turkey are: "Did Tuncay score today? How is Boro doing these days? etc.

Let's hope that he can maintain his form for the rest of the season. Overall, the team is playing much better each week after the terrible Chelsea loss. I believe the lads have more confidence now in themselves as a team.

See you later.

Zafer

Posted by: Zafer  | November 10, 2008 12:54 PM

Nigel wrote...

tim from sa - I agree that one point at Everton will be a good result, but from my point of view we need to be aiming for three. I know Boro never win two on the road in succesion (historically they've struggled to win two away in the same season!) but now is our opportunity to pile on some points.

As I posted recently I can't see that there are any better teams than Boro outside the top four (I now include Villa in that). Momentum is everything, it's time to push on - hard.

**AV writes: But for Blackburn's last minute spawny leveller Boro would now be celebrating THREE away wins in a row. It is a fine line....

Posted by: Nigel  | November 10, 2008 1:33 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

Good to see strong, upbeat, positive messages from Stewie and Gate. Determined to improve without being gung ho.

Wonder if they will get a visit from the foam hand police? Or maybe the reporting has changed?

Lets enjoy 8th and look for continued progress next week at Everton. It just shows how tight the league is when we win at a team challenging on the fringe of the Champions league and are only 5 points off the drop zone.

**AV writes: It is about how you ask the questions ;)

Posted by: Ian Gill  | November 10, 2008 2:06 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

AV

I am sure there are certain journalists who can twist any answer to get the article they want. Most fans want an upbeat message that is realistic.

You only have to read the nationals as a World Cup approaches to see how things get out of hand.

In our case we all know that the team are capable of good football and as long as they keep their feet on the ground and deal with the here and now, tomorrow will look after itself. Coops spoke a lot of common sense about remaining focussed.

We could see a season with a total of 56/57 points getting into europe and a team going down with 40+. It could be the best year yet for the premiership. A lot will depend on who gets the cup places.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | November 10, 2008 3:23 PM

Nigel wrote...

Ian - It certainly is a tight league, but there is a 'proto-gap' starting to open up between the top half and bottom half, which will be more distinctive before we hit the Christmas programme. Hopefully Boro have the momentum and fit players to ensure by the time the divide is established we're on the top side of it.

Posted by: Nigel  | November 10, 2008 3:40 PM

BoroPhil wrote...

What a great result, and how good it is to see us getting the rub of the green again.

The next four games could really see us push on, everton a, bolton h, newcastle h, hull a, 9 points plus isn't unrealistic.

And - we still aren't obviously playing to our full potential, there is more to come from most of the players.

Posted by: BoroPhil  | November 10, 2008 5:45 PM

Forever Dormo wrote...

Stop the world! Something must be wrong. Positive comments and a few little video clips in praise of Downing by the pundits on Match of the Day.

If Lawro starts tipping us to win games then I'll know it's serious. Maybe the Beeb has been knocked off balance by the Ross/Brand kerfuffle.

Perhaps normal BBC service will be restored next week.

Posted by: Forever Dormo  | November 11, 2008 12:16 AM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

I criticized Downing and Tuncay for talking about Europe and they have spoken on the pitch . So if we do get into Europe we will definitely need a bigger squad.
Or is reality obscured by the over sized foam hand I am waving around in glee .
Even though Alves changed his boots he still couldnt find the ones he wore in Holland, the search continues!
I would still play him unless Mido is fit as he could yet catch fire, maybe its too damp for him weatherwise ?

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | November 11, 2008 10:10 AM

Ian Oliver wrote...

Being a Boro fan for the past 40+ years (30 of them living in South Africa)I have never been so optimistic than this season. I was on holiday in the UK in October and had the rare opportunity and privalage to see the Boro play at home against Chelsea. So what, they got beat 0-5, we are not the first team or the last team to be well beat by one of the 4 "untouchables'. Maybe it is what was needed to kick start a good season for boro.

I agree with Nigel, I can't see any other team out side of the top 4 being better than the Boro, on a good day, they have and still can give the big 4 a run for their money

I am predicting a win at Everton

Posted by: Ian Oliver  | November 11, 2008 10:31 AM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

Ian Oliver, I agree with you we could beat Everton. Saha must be marked as he is in top form with an assist followed by 2 goals all late on in their last match.
If we can stay calm and pass the ball around we could score a few goals on the counter attack with Everton being the home team and coming forward.
I will even go so far to predct Alves as first goal scorer followed by the mighty TUNCAY.
I think Everton will get a goal but hopefully it will be too late and we will have already wrapped the game up.
Hows that for positive thinking.

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | November 11, 2008 12:48 PM

David Morrison wrote...

I dont think we can get carried away yet with all this Europe talk and a few good results. We are 8th in the league but 5 points of the bottom 3 thats just 2 wins away from being right back in the brown stuff.

Everton is a massive game for Boro and if we can come out with a draw then it will make the villa result even more satisfying. I didnt expect us to get anything at villa but expected to turn West Brom over at home so could you say that evens it out?

The points we have dropped so far, Liverpool, West Brom, Blackburn, Sunderland (8 possibly from the positions we where in) still live long and just because we win at villa dosnt mean that the mistakes in those games have been irradicated.

The test comes in the short term over 5-6 games and in the long haul the season 38 games. 11 points from the last 7 doesnt seem to bad but can we say that should be 19 from 7 and looking up rather than over our shoulder at the melee below us.

It's very very easy to get carried away but it only takes one bad result to upset the apple cart and Everton isnt a place Boro have a good record at. A point at Everton which will be amazing followed by a result at home to Bolton and the slaughtering of Newcastle would be perfect and then maybe we can start looking at what might be.

If Boro put so much in against Man City and were lame against West Ham then how much did they put in against Villa? I'd be happy with consistency and good performances and building a platform to build on rather than a one season wonder.

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

Posted by: David Morrison  | November 11, 2008 4:16 PM

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