Aitor’s feet of clay unearthed at the Potteries

Looking at the fixture list at the start of the season an away game to Stoke was hardly a stand out game in Boro’s Premiership season. As the months and weeks have progressed and we are now well into the final third of the season this game could be make or break not only for Boro but also our Manager. Before Kick-off Ladbrokes had odds of 6/4 that AK would not be on Teesside come the last game of the season.

Having not won a Premiership game since December 17, and scoring just three goals in our last nine matches and only one goal in our last six away games against a backdrop of blame culture and a rumoured fall out with the up until now untouchable Negredo, pressure was growing on AK. Early speculation on team selection beforehand was that Gestede was to get the nod over naughty Negredo and with it an opportunity to end his 36 game Premiership streak of not being on a winning side.

Defeat today could see Boro slip into the relegation zone and with other relegation candidates showing recent signs of improvement even a draw could be seen as a negative result with only 11 games left to hold onto our place at the top table. Team news at 2.00 revealed that Bamford had again been ignored as expected but also surprisingly Downing whilst Gestede as rumoured got the nod over Negredo. Leadbitter was preferred to Forshaw which pleased many along with the sight of Ayala back alongside Gibson with the nervy Espinosa benched and Friend at LB.

A steady start seen not much quarter given but with Stoke making the most of the play then inexplicably Ayala pulled up with a hamstring after only 5 minutes action for us to see Espinosa coming on. On 13 minutes Boro’s packed defence was cut open and Ramadan was unlucky with his effort from 6 yards out hitting the post. Boro were playing on the break but in the opening quarter of an hour it was Stoke looking much the more likely. Our main tactic seemed to be try and get it wide to Traore on the left to put a cross into Gestede. I can only assume that Gaston was on his weak right side and Traore on his weak left side so AK could coach Adama as Ramirez was conspicuous by his absence.

On 18 minutes Gaston dallied on the right trying to defend and played Joe Allen in who stumbled and fell over then Ben came out with it, passed it to Grant who then bumped into Ben giving the ball away for it to eventually ricochet and Valdes collected thankfully. Comedic but very worrying, Grant was looking slow and rusty. Shawcross then upended Traore and took a yellow for his troubles but the resultant free kick from Grant was poor although that wasn’t the language I used at the time.

De Roon had a great opportunity as the ball was played over the top of the Stoke defence but he hesitated momentarily bringing it under control and all was lost. At this point of the game the passing from Boro was diabolical, constantly giving away possession, scrappy best described it.

Stoke pressure was slowly building as Boro offered little threat and then a hoofed ball up to £2m Marco Arnautovic seen him bring the ball down, leaving George for dead, spun around and slotted home. Boro now had to forget clean sheets and attack but there was little to show thus far that attacking was an option for this side. The weather started to change as the rain came down and with it any pre Kick Off optimism was coming down with it. Fabio was having a tough time and Gaston wasn’t influencing anything whilst Grant really struggled to get up to speed.

A Grant free kick was lofted into Espinosa on 35 minutes but it sailed straight into the Keepers arms. There was little to get excited about for the traveling Boro fans apart from a rainbow which appeared and seemed to spark Grant into one of his trademark thunderbastards which was tipped wide for a corner. The ensuing corner was put outside the box in a training ground routine to see Gaston blaze the ball over the roof of the stand.

Just before half-time a corner for Stoke saw Valdes blocked off, who was then helpless to see the ball float over to Anautovic to get his second. “Attack, Attack, Attack” chorused from the terraces as the first half drew to a close. Once again a weak dispirited showing with no strategy for attacking or creating, Boro were looking totally devoid of ideas with Traore running and dribbling but a headless chicken if ever there was one despite being on the Managers preferred coaching side. To rub salt in the wounds George was booked as Arnautovic was giving him a torrid time. Forty-five minutes gone and there looked to be nothing left from the blue shirts. Down and out with eleven and a half games to go, boos from the traveling fans accompanied the half time whistle.

Gibson and in fairness Espinosa were still fighting as was de Roon but Clayton was quiet. Gaston was anonymous, Grant was trying but largely a bystander apart from free-kicks, Friend was clearly not match sharp, Fabio couldn’t get forward, Traore again had no end product and Gestede was winning headers but then what? AK selected Gestede but had no tactics to make his selection remotely effective.

It’s clear Gaston was mentally gone and if that wasn’t bad enough as AK left the field the boos rang louder. Not quite Barnsley yet but the Manager and his charges looked like a boxer out on his feet, after last week at the Palace this was very poor fayre and not what was required. Contrasting the £2m Arnautovic with our £6m Gestede and the issue with our scouting and recruitment was frankly embarrassing. Was the second half to be AK’s final 45 minutes? Would he keep it tight to protect GD or try and get a result? This was his biggest managerial challenge but the signs looked ominous.

The second half unsurprisingly saw Stuani come on for the already emotionally absent Ramirez taking up position on the left with Traore switching to his preferred right. The change did little to affect our attacking prowess as passes still went astray, challenges looked ineffective and crosses were over hit as chants of “Attack, Attack, Attack” rained down again from the traveling army in blatant disregard and disrespect to AK.

“Come on Boro” chants then came to the fore in a desperate attempt to inspire those who looked to have lost the will to live let alone attack. Fabio broke through and teed up Gestede but his touch was wayward. Stoke then broke and de Roon was chasing back in the RB slot giving Valdes time to clear it for a Corner on which Valdes was once again blocked off by the big lads in Stoke’s front line. Meanwhile news was filtering through that Rhodes had bagged a brace for Wednesday just to rub more salt in along with Nugent netting.

Boro were playing statues again, nobody making runs, nobody looking to receive, nobody dragging defenders, just passing to static individuals. On 60 minutes it looked as though we were back in it as Boro’s MOM Ben Gibson met a cross from a Grant free kick to put it in the net under the Keeper but the Lino’s flag was up for an infringement or imaginary offside perhaps. Fortunately for Boro

Arnautovic pulled up cream crackered after roasting Friend all afternoon and being a thorn in the Boro’s side.

What we were witnessing was a side who were trying to attack but who were new and raw to this skill set. Stuani at least was getting stuck in and putting in a shift, trying to mix it up but it was a team of individuals with no collective organisation.

Traore stupidly bulldozed Peters over near our corner flag and the resultant Stoke free kick fortunately led to nothing. Fabio was having a torrid time from Ramadan as our attacks were intercepted quite predictably and Stoke kept pushing us back. In the last throw of the dice Guedioura came on for Grant on 75 minutes who was visibly tiring. In the 79th minute Valdes took a free kick in the Stoke half as everyone in a blue shirt piled forward, oh for such attacking intent earlier in the season. Of course it came to nothing. Guedioura then had a shot on the 18 yard line after a combined Stuani/Gestede knock down but as we know by now accuracy is not the ex Watford man’s strong point and it sailed well over.

Moments later Stoke broke quickly again and £5m man Ramadan nearly caught us out. Interesting to contrast Stoke passing quickly into space making the ball do the work and cover the ground whilst we still played our mono paced passing game and seeing our attacking intentions easily read. “One Stevie Gibson” rang out followed by “I’m Boro till I die” as the traveling army made their position and loyalties clear. It wasn’t getting any better and quite frankly things were getting dire when the Boro fans ironically cheered a throw-in in the 89th minute. Five added minutes were called over the tannoy as Ramadan now twisted and turned de Roon and Espinosa with Fabio caught upfield. It should have been 3-0 but for Valdes saving at the feet of Affelay his former Barca team mate.

Overall another poor performance with little skill or creativity evident in the side, it had the look of Gareth Southgate’s Boro as they slipped meekly into the bottom three. Looking lost, bereft of hope and belief as they trudged off it was questionable if the players still buy into AK’s philosophy, the fans certainly made their feelings clear.

189 thoughts on “Aitor’s feet of clay unearthed at the Potteries

  1. For me ak has to go. He should have gone two/three months ago as survival was still possible then. Unfortunately I feel with our fixtures and no real quality in the final third our chances of staying up have gone. The only decent offensive players have all spat their dummies out, probably due to the lack of support they receive on the pitch.
    As for the 14 million pounds we dropped down the drain in January. Who allowed that to happen?
    Next season is going to be a massive rebuild as negredo and Ramirez will both be gone and I’m not convinced with what we’ll be left with. Can we have Rhodes back for the championship or is it too late? A decent manager would get 25/30 goals out if Rhodes next season if they played to his strengths.
    As I’ve said before no attacking player can be judged on his abilities playing for this man. Offensively he is clueless.
    All those people who banged on for months about ‘he just needs to tweak the forward positions and we’ll be fine’ it’s rubbish. The reason we don’t score is irrelevant to who plays up front it’s because we play with nine/ten men behind the ball every game and our forward players are so isolated they can’t do anything with it when they get it.

  2. Can’t see how AK can survive now with dressing room unrest and the fans turning on him. Sadly, I fear it’s too late for a new manager to turn the tide. I hope I’m wrong.

  3. Great report RR, seems to sum up our current plight perfectly.
    I’ve always been supportive of AK and I’m not a great believer in changing managers mid-season as I believe doing so is nothing more than the desperate act of a gambler, you’ve guessed it there’s a but coming.
    But, I think now is the time to sack Karanka, the team seem to have lost all self belief, Boro goals while never plentiful are now rarer than rocking horse manure and
    it feels like the fans support for the manager is ebbing fast.
    I’m not convinced a new manager would save us from relegation, we look doomed to me now, but there’s nothing to lose in throwing the dice and praying for a double six.
    Ramirez needs to be consigned to the dustbin of Boro history , with Downing replacing him, because if nothing else Stewie cares.

    1. ‘Rarer than rocking horse manure’
      That’s up there with one of my favourite quotes. Think I’ll pinch that one and pretend it’s one of my own!! Cheers Nigel.

  4. After today Karanka has to go the majority of fans have lost faith in him and by the looks of the players on the pitch today they have too
    Every week he falls out with a different player he holds a grudge and banishes them to the naughty step! That’s not good management he has to rise above that for the good of the team not leave the player out.
    Sounds like there is alot of unrest behind the scenes. Where has last seasons team spirit gone?
    Since the promotion team was dismantled it has disappeared along with the points and goals.
    It’s so disappointing to see this season sinking week by week and with a manager at the helm who seems devoid of ideas how to change it.
    His quotes in the press post match are incredible I don’t know whether he seriously believes what he’s saying or whether he is totally taking the P

    1. I’m not so sure that the “Spirit” was ever as it was portrayed. Like some of the press reports of late it seemed to me at the time to be blatant OTT propaganda as it flew in the face of Charltongate and to me seemed unrealistic and a bit too forced.
      Anyone who kowtowed to Karanka was fine, anyone who asked why they weren’t being selected was shown a video and naughty stepped. Any residual Championship team spirit that existed was broken up when ageing journeymen footballers were brought in to replace those who had fought to get us back in the Premiership. What is really bad is that there is not a single one of them I would swap for the former incumbents, a huge increase in salaries but flat lining at best on quality and ability.
      If the truth about the latest Downing rumours circulating are true it perhaps explains why the players seemed dejected and spiritless from the off. Is the reason Gaston couldn’t give a flying fig because of being played out of position and wants away because of the Manager?
      Throw in Albertgate, Rhodes and now Bamford and the whole “spirit” thing just doesn’t stack up for me even the pettier things like saying Husband couldn’t face Townsend doesn’t evoke the illusion of team spirit. AK has never struck me as the type of individual who lifts spirits or indeed is either a people person or man manager. Going further I suspect that was the reason Higgy was brought in and later Agnew in an effort to try and find balance to the Iceman’s demeanour. Its appears that one or two of the players namely Downing and Negredo are not taking things sitting down which is precisely why they were indeed sitting down today.

  5. We lost today because of George Friend , love his commitment but,, he is not up to this Standard Discuss ,
    bottom line Steve Gibson did not support Karanka,he is clawing back his losses .

    1. Rarely does one issue or game create zuccess or failure – success or failure belong to a series of either good or bad decisions, beginning with who you care to share the journey with & as importantly how you treat them as you go.
      Spartakboro 207

    2. I don’t agree with that. I doubt George would say today was his best game, but there are plenty in the side today, and in the sides we have put out for several weeks now, who also played poorly. And, to be fair, George has had an alibi during many of the recent games in which we have played poorly: he hasn’t been playing!
      You don’t think, for example, that Ramirez had anything to do with it? Or, Heaven forbid, the manager? Rumour has it that Ramirez wants to help the laundry ladies by ensuring his kit is pristine after every game, with no sweat marks etc.

  6. Think George friends biggest attribute is his engine and the fact he could run up and down all day.
    I would argue he’s probably been rushed back when he’s fit but not quite match sharp, thus his biggest strength wasn’t there. Give him a game or two and he’ll be back to his old self. Problem is we don’t have two games to wait but that’s not his fault.

  7. AK never addressed the problems we had from the Championship. It doesn’t matter who plays up front if the 3 behind are not good enough, or 2 behind under the new 433.
    And when we play 433, do we really need 3 defensive midfielders.
    We had a brilliant defence in the Championship because we didn’t attack much, and we are pretty much the same now. It’s just the defences are better, the opposing attacks are better and we’ve stood still.
    We’re going down, I have no doubt of that, and at least we will be in a better position, with more money. There will be a rebuilding job, but hopefully someone can come in and take advantage of what we have, for me, Garry Monk is the type of candidate we need.

  8. It really pains me to woof that I predicted this scenario at least two months ago.
    It’s time to call a halt to all the excuses given for SG, AK, the players, the groundsman, the ball boys + the tea lady. It’s also time to call a halt from all the knowledgable people on this blog from doing the same.
    There’s a melodic sound I can hear which is getting louder & louder… yes, it’s the Fat Lady singing.
    Before I disappear into my kennel it would be nice to know if anyone is agreeing / disagreeing with me. But truth be told I really don’t care anymore. I’ve far better things to do in my life than try halt a sinking ship.

  9. Another abysmal performance devoid of intent, quality, fight and creativity. We are for sure going down and based on the last few games we might well struggle to stay in the Championship.
    So what now? In my view Karanka has to go. He is incapable of effective man management and hasn’t a clue how to achieve any attacking threat. Moreover, the soul destroying negative, defensive dross served up home and away is an insult to the fans who pay to come to watch.
    Steve Gibson needs to make a big decision and now. He can stick with Karanka for the rest of the season, watch the shambles get worse and see Boro slip meekly into the Championship. He could even keep Karanka as manager when we get relegated but I suspect that another season of attritional, defensive, low entertainment fare might be too much for the majority of supporters.
    I don’t buy into the argument that steps were taken in January to equip the team for life again in the Championship. Surely that makes mo sense on any level and, if it were true, would be a terrible economic decision and an appalling capitulation when there was still half a season to go. I think the transfer activity in January was a perfect example either of Karanka’s very poor judgement of players or a prime example of the uselessness of the much vaunted scouting team or both.
    Gibson must surely recognise that Karanka is not the manager to keep Boro in the EPL or fight another campaign in the Championship. He can’t get the team winning, he has lost the dressing room and alienated the fans. So Gibson”s only real option must be to get rid of Karanka now and appoint a new manager. He should have sacked him after Charltongate and again at the turn of the year when it was clear he hasn’t a clue about how to set the team up to win games but he chose not to do so. As ye sow so shall ye reap.
    It is understood that a new manager may not keep us up but may deliver more for the fans to enjoy in whatever league we are in next season. Surely anything is better than the current catastrophe.

  10. lots of stories and gossip doing the rounds just now on social media. …..but I think if Karanka goes and whoever comes in has a massive job to do and sort out all the internal problems…do we really have the time for someone to do this ?

    1. Braveheart
      The alternative is to stick with the same and know for sure that nothing is going to change and that Players and Fans alike are becoming more disillusioned (other Anglo Saxon phrases are available).
      Leicester made an even tougher decision emotionally and have gone on to win two on the bounce. We are now three points adrift and looking at the form table we are clearly only headed in one direction.
      This isn’t a blip any more but there are still 33 points to play for. Doing nothing surely cannot be an option for SG.

  11. Reported Quote from Karanka – “for a recently promoted team to only drop in the bottom three in March shows that we are doing something well”. What would that be then?

  12. At 10.53pm last night I posted tongue in cheek:
    And if we are in the bottom three the after match interview will be along the lines of:
    “This is what I expected so I’m not surprised that we have a fight on our hands to stay up. It is the first time we have been in the bottom three and for that we should be proud”
    In his after match interview this afternoon Aitor said:
    ““We are in the bottom three in March. For a recently promoted team to only drop in the bottom three in March is because we are doing something well.”
    If we can predict his after match comments so accurately before a ball is even kicked its no wonder his tactics aren’t working.

  13. AK should have gone weeks ago. Something happened between him and the players on the Thursday before the West Ham game. Since then we’ve taken 2 points from 6 games. I think it was after this game that he turned on the fans.

  14. As I illustrated in my last piece, AK has thrived through the power of the well organised collective triumphing over individual ability.
    And there is the rub. Since January 2016 we’ve been repeatedly dependent on individual ability to dig us out of danger.
    Worse, at least our defending against Spurs and at United (until the last five minutes) was commendable. At least after Everton and Arsenal we had something to build on. Now we do not play like a team, but more a set of strangers without their mojo.
    We are, in theory, more than good enough to stay up, but the belief and momentum has been sucked right out of us.
    I didn’t want the axe to fall – you know that – but AK should be leaving Gibson with no other choice but to put him out of his misery. For his sake as well as ours.

  15. I think on a previous post RR mentioned a Big Nige appointment. What ever magic Big Nige weaved to keep Leicester up two seasons ago, we need it in the next two weeks before we play Man U.
    Today was a Stewie Downing sort of game, how a half interested Ramirez got the nod in favour of Stewie i do not know.

  16. Another dismal performance. What on earth has happened to the team since the Everton game? I came away from that feeling really positive about our run-in and we’ve totally capitulated. You’d think SG has a decision to make, though I suspect he isn’t even considering it. I said after the Palace defeat that he might have to sack AK if we lost the next two badly – assuming he is still here, the Man Utd game is huge now. I’m looking forward to the Cup QF but we could really do with playing Sunderland next week.
    Other teams have fought their way out of much worse positions, but at the moment you can’t see where a goal or win is coming from, and with the fans becoming increasingly divided it’s easy to think that changing the manager could give everyone the lift that is needed.
    And Gaston Ramirez. Missed a great chance at the Riverside in Jan to give us a win over Leicester – and has been a millstone round our neck ever since. AK has to take responsibility for our position, but he must be absolutely furious with him.

  17. I think it’s clear that the players aren’t playing for Karanka – and in some cases that has become literal. Steve Gibson will no doubt be weighing up the evidence this weekend but what he can’t overlook is it’s going to be a lot harder to win games if many of your key players are not performing for the boss.
    We’ve reached the situation where Downing and Bamford have been excluded from the squad, Negredo has been benched, Gaston has been hooked at half-time for failing to perform, Adama was started on his least effective wrong side because the manager doesn’t trust him to play out of earshot and Guedioura gets ten minutes to make an impact with Gestede left isolated.
    There was a similar situation at Leicester as the players had lost the will to perform under Ranieri – they are subsequently interested again and are playing with the intensity and purpose that won them the title.
    The Boro players appear to have lost their motivation in the last two games in what were crucial games – the question now is whether this demotivation is reversible under Karanka as the last two away games must be viewed as an indicator of what may come in the two crucial away games after the international break against Swansea and Hull.
    It may well be a clean start and a clean slate for many of our key players is now needed to get them motivated for the last quarter of the season in order to preserve our PL status – there is no evidence that Karanka is a man who wipes the slate clean.

  18. See you Karanka thanks and don’t slam the door on the way out. Lost the players and the fans, Gibbo needs to act, better late than never, new Manager to get the players motivated and give it a go !
    Better to die on your feet than live on your knees. Now 50 games we have lost when the opposition scores first.
    Who was the bald guy with the moustache tapping his own head then making Gedaway tap his ,on the sideline before he ran on.
    Our coaching staff even look bored in the dugout, not allowed to offer opinions to “Nero” ha ha

  19. I renewed my season card on Friday! Great decision. NOT. I think I’ll be watching the likes of Fleetwood, Preston, Derby and Barnsley again next season. For one thing is certain – if we stick with Karanka, we are doomed. 3 points clear of safety already, and Swansea and Leicester racing away 5 points clear. Where are we going to get the 3 points from to catch Palace, let alone trying to match the other two sides? Not a chance with AK in charge. By the time Man Utd beat us it willl be too late – by then, we could be 6 points from safety.
    I’m really sorry to write this, but he has to go, and he has to go now. I’ve tried to be supportive of him, even when I’ve been disappointed, as so often this season. I’ve tried to buy into this defensive strength at all costs thing he has, because it has meant we have conceded few goals. But the facts speak for themselves. Fewest goals, fewest shots on target, fewest chances created, fewest wins. Dreadful substitutions. No attacking intent or creativity, or even a clue how to attack. Players naughty stepped or played out of position. Jordan Rhodes. Blame the fans, blame the board. Blame Albert. And now we can add the following heinous crime to the charge sheet:- a team in a relegation battle showing no guts, no fight, no spirit.
    I’ve had enough. If I hear him say one more time that we’ve done well not to be in the bottom three till now, that we have competed in every game, that he has to work harder, then I’m going to scream. For everybody’s sake, Aitor, and especially for the sake of the team and the club, please go. You haven’t got a clue how to turn this round and you’re taking us straight back down to the Championship.

  20. The only positive we can take is that hopefully Stoke is AK’s Barnsley moment.
    The Gazette’s pic of the three clowns – Gibson, Bausor and Kenyon – says it all and surely the axe must come now.
    The only truly depressing thing is that it didn’t come 12 months ago at Charlton or in the summer. The rot that led to Charlton has festered since and how anyone could see a way through it with AK is beyond me.
    The Friday (a week ago) injury with George says it all. AK was so discombobulated by one derailment to his thinking that the whole show fell apart. To throw a hissy fit is pure playground material. What next – to refuse to play on because the opposition scored a goal?
    AK is intense, works hard and looks the part but ultimately is a fraud and has no ability other than packing our half of the pitch. The emperor’s clothes, as stated before.
    Supporters of all clubs tend to focus on, and find solace in the minutiae, and tend to miss the big picture accordingly. We have been deeply flawed for 12 months or more and, finally I suspect, have come to the end of the line.
    I genuinely believe AK has been a bigger destroyer of this club than Strachan, a man who buggered us up but did so on a relatively low budget scale. We have a handful of players at most now who will help us compete well for promotion next season and that is the biggest worry really.
    Mathematically though we can still survive but it requires the big change. An old hand, a British man manager is called for, even if just for these 11 games, to give it a go, to give us hope. We have two huge games coming and need as much atmosphere as we generate, an atmosphere that will not be forthcoming with AK.
    I hate to see us lose always but yesterday is almost cathartic in that I feel AK is now finally done and we clearly can’t go like this. There is too much division everywhere and even Steve Gibson surely now sees this. He has been staggeringly foolish for a long time with AK but just how hard it is for him, none of us know. Impossibly hard I imagine.
    Gibson has been the best thing ever to happen to this club, probably even the town, and while I am unsure I trust his instincts right now, like all Boro fans I’m sure, I trust in him completely.
    We could have no better guardian. AK hasn’t worked out but that’s history, the only failure is not to accept it and move forward now.

  21. Very sad after watching that – the less said the better , time for action.
    Our next two games dont count and then the break so lets play the reserve team against City and Utd and give a new manager 3 weeks to assemble a team for the upcoming week of death.
    My spread sheet hasn’t lied for the last 4 months I have just been ignoring the obvious. We aren’t good enough for this league at the moment.
    Above all else we mustn’t lose our spirit when we go down or we will go down and then down again. Time for big decisions from those who have to make them..
    As long as intent is there theres nothing wrong in being a yo-yo club . . . but not lambs to the slaughter every two or three years.

  22. I have to say that I woke up this morning certain that there would be a news story that, either through resignation or dismissal, we would be managerless, but seemingly no.
    I love that Steve Gibson is so loyal to his managers against the backdrop of the cut-throat world of football but our manager seems to have antagonised a huge swathe of the people that SG wants to keep engaged – the fans, so surely now must be the time to end the association.
    We may get an upturn in fortunes or we may not, but while there is life there is hope and if the worst should happen we can at least be in a position to do a ‘Newcastle’ (not sure if that will get through the swear filter) next season.

  23. Beware the ides of March. Et tu Bausor?
    Monday may well be a day to keep close to a computer. I suspect Gibson, Bausor and Kenyon will have watched that with a huge amount of discomfort.
    It certainly made dispiriting listening.

  24. Redcar Red,
    Excellent report, boy does the truth hurt.
    We don’t score goals. We don’t play and we seem heartless and spineless. I saw a little bit of the match and in a way it seemed to show how poor Stoke were to only put two past us. Never mind the Palace match.
    Eleven Antony Gormley figures couldn’t do any worse, and at least we’d get our money back. The great Spanish experiment has failed in the Premiership.
    I watch Serie A on Sundays and the mobility of some of those midfields is really exciting to watch, I reckon they would take Boro to pieces.
    11 games to go. For me it is not how many points will we get but how few goals will we score.

  25. “I genuinely believe AK has been a bigger destroyer of this club than Strachan”
    Ah, there’s always something that can cheer you up at times like this.
    I mean, even if you just measured it in monetary terms it would be side-splittingly hilarious.

    1. It’s the AK apologists like you Phil who who have been looking foolish for some time.
      Somehow you always add a welcome touch of comedy to this blog, goodness knows how/if at all, your mind works.
      Just look at the January window – we sold a gold plated goalscorer and a more than competent defender and brought in a forward, Gestede, who doesn’t score or add any threat whatsoever, seems an unlikeable person and is on a quite surreal PL losing streak. A streak AK knew nothing about.
      Then Bamford, who did not cut in at his three other PL clubs and who had minimal sale value yet AK steps in and spends a fortune on him only to find out that maybe Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Burnley were probably onto something. And then the Watford lad who couldn’t get a first team game there, has no emotional equity in Middlesbrough and is just a pointless but expensive purchase.
      And when we go down because of these type of signings, the negative economic impact on the club will likely see direct employees and contractors lose their livelihoods because the PL money pot they are dependent on is no longer there thanks to the stupidity of the club in retaining AK. More so than were hurt by the Strachan debacle I’d suggest.
      We have spent and lost many more millions through AK than Strachan and when AK leaves, today hopefully, we really will have a handful of players only who are capable of pushing for promotion again.
      Then there’s Ben Gibson and Manchester City. Because if we go down, and thanks to the waste of AK’s buys and paying him off we will not have as much cash as we’d like, we may need to countenance the sale of our key playing asset Gibson.
      Yes AK will probably be significantly worse than Strachan in the long term. He has a far bigger infrastructure to deal with, and thereby fallout, and the Strachan wounds were dealt with (yes by AK) very quickly indeed.
      You were the poster Phil, remember, who put up a ridiculous defence of Kike Sola when we bought him and it was obvious to even the blind that he had no calibre or calling other than his nationality. Your views clearly come from the heart but they are not based on any thought beyond an intuitive punt of ‘we have to support it because the that’s what true supporters do’.
      True supporters should back the club but not unconditionally, if there is a question to be asked it should be asked.
      Being a sheep does no-one any good at at sadly.

  26. Ramadan cost £5 m,. Andiccuci cost £2 m, playing for them,
    This Gabbiadini can’t stop scoring for the Saints,
    Where are our recruitment team I wonder,
    On the computer I expect, after all we new nothing about Gestede and Bamford ,
    Drain the swamp, because who ever the manager is, has no chance with the lot we have.

  27. Waking up this morning it’s hard to even think it’s become a difficult decision to say thanks to Karanka for what he achieved but it’s time to try something different.
    Karanka by his own admission following attack-gate implied his team don’t know how to play in a different way. There’s only one direction any team not scoring is going and with only three goals in ten games it is surely enough evidence to be relatively certain Boro are heading for a limp exit. Especially if you consider much of our fire-power is now sidelined for whatever reason.
    The reality now is that it’s quite likely before we play again Boro could find themselves six points adrift – a rebooted Palace are at home to Watford before we line up against Man Utd.
    If Karanka had checked the record of promoted teams in their first season – which I did for my pre-match piece – he would have noticed being in the bottom three is not what you get with two-thirds of newly arrived teams. But you have to accept if we do go down, and it’s looking more likely by the hour, then it will be with the chance to rebuild and learn.
    Though the club shouldn’t accept it is now inevitable and just allow Karanka out of loyalty the chance to somehow prove his tactics will in the end prevail. He will be gone if we go down, so it’s no longer a long-term decision. It took seven years to get back up, so it’s not easy, it may be actually easier to remain in the PL this season with a change of manager.

  28. I missed the bit about AK being a bigger destroyer of the club than Strachan.
    He destroyed us so much we got to the play off final, then promotion to the top flight, now we are in a relegation battle but in the top flight not Championship.
    Balance please, it may be time for a chat with Mr Gibson but him going wont change the squad built by our recruitment department.
    How we have got to this stage of the season with so little creativity in the squad when it was apparent to everyone last August beggar’s belief.
    Even before Adomah left we needed extra spark in the squad. He left and we brought in a project. Gaston has left the building, Stewie is a good footballer but wont provide the spark to unlock defences. Fischer hasn’t done it.
    That leaves a fairly bare cupboard. Good hard working players without a deal of spark or real pace.
    Unless there is something in there I have missed.
    One thing that did make me chuckle was the panel on skysports when they heard Sanchez wasn’t starting for Arsenal, Merse said it must be because his leg is in plaster! But no, he was on the bench and Arsenal appeared as hapless as us for the first half. A telling statistic was that both keepers had more touches than Giroud!

  29. It will be easier to remain in the Premiership than to gamble on trying to get back up. The last two games look like the Players simply don’t believe or buy into AK’s game plan any more. Its pretty clear now that there are splits and arguments behind the scenes again.
    AK’s attrition warfare worked against lesser opponents in the Championship when we could maybe nick a late goal against a tired side in the 92nd minute but at Premiership level the opponents are too skilled and too fit and the sides generally far better disciplined and organised than Championship sides.
    The man now looks like a spent force and running on empty, the pressure has got to him I believe through the recurring failure of seeing his tactics implode yet cannot accept the blindingly obvious. The tipping point was the win over Swansea, his comments after that game were disconnected, bizarre and disparaging. Since then his utterances have become even more remote and detached from reality. He has the exact same stressed hopeless empty look that Gareth had when he was powerless to stop the rot. It is clear that despite his pride it is now beyond him.
    The events at Leicester illustrate what happens when the Manager loses the playing staff and more importantly what can happen when belief, desire and a willingness is imparted. Same goes for Swansea and now perhaps belatedly at Palace. We are going down without a fight looking clueless and without hope. Whether SG hands the reigns to Agnew or brings in Big Nige or someone else doesn’t really matter to me just that something has to radically change and immediately. Doing nothing isn’t an option sadly.

  30. If anything, one of the mistakes made before the start of the season, we should have maybe brought in someone familiar with the premiership ,someone not to manage anything but be their to give Karanka advice on what to expect from each team,their players the kind of fans they have ,stadiums, some of the things off the pitch, you may not be aware of. Everything helps,
    Who is the guy doing the subs now, not Agnew?
    Getting back to the team,we have got to get back to ,what got us there,forget some of the negative views on the formation we had,
    We depended on counter attacks, you cant play Adama, in that system because on his side teams tell their fullbacks to stay home and don’t overlap, hence he is crowded out and defeats the object there is no space behind their midfield,
    Let’s think outside the box,bring in Roy Keane as an assistant ,untill the end of the season and see the fireworks begin, it won’t be boring.

  31. I’ve replied to Phil above Ian.
    Don’t forget that we lost the play off final after we messed up the chance for automatic promotion. It counts for nothing.
    We got up from a poor division but that we never won more than 3-0 last season indicated the troubles ahead.
    The purchases of de Roon, the January buys, keepers, defenders no-one had heard of like Barragan and Espinosa, de Pena, Fischer, Gaston have not been cheap and will impact hugely in the long term if we do not stay up. They are poor players all.
    Strachan scotified on the cheap by comparison and we will be left with a far bigger mess when AK leaves. And that took the whole of Mogga’s tenure to see through. So yes, AK will leave a legacy far more difficult to deal with beyond this season.
    I’m staggered anyone can see any merit in AK, a man who treats players, fans and the media with increasing scorn.
    Finally I think Steve Gibson will have seen it too. AK will be gone by Monday lunchtime.

  32. Redcar Red
    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when your prediction of Karanka’s post match comments came true virtually word for word.
    On Werder’s match preview blog I predicted 2 or 3 nil to Stoke, and a few other observations which came to pass pretty precisely.
    Thing is, so did quite a number of others – correct scoreline, tactics etc.
    How can Steve Gibson apparently be the only person on Teesside content to watch the inevitable and entirely predictable unfold?
    To repeat my other predictions – if Karanka stays, two more wins this season (Sunderland and Burnley) will be it. No away wins (although we could well score at Swansea and Hull).
    If it was at all possible to get Hughes from Stoke, then let’s do it. Pardew. Warburton. Anyone!

  33. Thanks Redcar for your take on the match, well not that the teams were matched.
    The consensus appears to be leaning towards sacking the Manager and hoping that we can find somebody that can perform a miracle because that is what we will need now to stay up. AK has had his chance and by and large has failed, although you cannot lay all the blame at his door.
    The problem however is huge and could be like pouring oil on the fire. I know, damned if you do, damned if you don´t.
    But who is out there that could perform that miracle? I do not think Jesus will be available even though Semana Santa (as it is called in Spain) is coming shortly.
    Big Nige has been touted, but if we go down would he be the one to get us back up. Other names have been thrown into the ring, someone said Monk at Leeds, but would he want to come to a smaller club in reality and would not leave before the season ends anyway.
    The only other name put forward if we could afford him and he wanted to come and manage probably in the Championship is Mancini. Is that who we would want?
    It is a very difficult decision and because of the choices available now I think Mr Gibson will bite his lip and wait.
    The season will end in turmoil and the better players will be out the door pretty damn quick. So a major rebuild will be required and starting again is no guarantee of success, as I previously posted, see Villa.
    We will be left with very few good championship players, (if that is where we end up) to start again.
    Valdes, will he stay? Fabio, Friend, Bernardo, Barragan, Ayala too injury prone now, Leadbitter squad player at best, Clayton, de Roon who wants to play for Everton, Forshaw, Guedioura, Stuani, Fischer, Gestede, Bamford.
    Gibson will be bought for a knock down fee of 20mil, Ramirez for nothing to free up his wages, Adama, somebody may take a punt on him, Negrado back to Valencia.
    Now you see the size of the problem any new Manager will have. You would not put your last Euro on that lot as the basis of a promotion team. That is even if the new guy fancies any of them.
    But of course money will be made available and the scouting network will work their magic and come up with some gems, or not,as has been the case to date.
    So there you have it. go for bust, short term replacement or long term appointment or stay as you are and come the summer there will be a larger pool of managers to choose from. May be Wagner at Huddersfield?

    1. Gents
      May I suggest that the “loser” donates a tenner to a charity (Bradley Lowery the young Sunderland fan as an example?) which would be more productive than not posting as I enjoy reading both your thoughts and views despite not always agreeing with them.

  34. As an aside, I see that Rhodes had a good match, scored two. Did someone say he was rubbish and would not score even in the Championship? We will need somebody like him next season. Oh and I see Albert got another assist.

    1. And Nugent for Derby and even Emnes scored I believe as Blackburn won, two on the trot now, I could be wrong but I think Mogga drew his first game so I think that may mean he is unbeaten so far, another example of the new Manager bounce!

      1. I think mathematically the change of manager has helped quite seldomly. We just seem to remember only the cases when that has worked (re: The Numbers Game by Anderson & Sally).
        That does not say what we need to do or not to do, though. But it is good to remember that the change is not often working.
        Leicester survived under Nigel Pearson the season before Ranieri.
        Let’s see what SG is going to do.
        Up the Boro.

  35. Hang on a minute let’s not rush into vows of silence – this isn’t Brexit you know – the ‘loser’ should be still allowed to give their opinions afterwards as we positively encourage differing views on Diasboro 🙂

  36. This team is without spirit or ideas, the tactic of filling your half of the field and hoping for the best is fatal against the strugglers. The reason is simple, only rarely do they get a chance to attack for the whole match without risk of a breakaway goal. The results are there for all to see. Endless balls bunged up field, some oaf who hasn’t scored for three seasons scoring with a misskick(with his wrong foot). All this is caused by not getting in their six yard box in numbers, remember you must still score to beat even the most pitiable side

  37. I saw the match on TV only this morning but the whole match.
    I think the line-up was more or less what I think was our best. The substitutions were good and done in time. I think Stuani was lively when he came on.
    What worries me is that we had more or less our best players on the field and we did not perform well enough. And definitely did not get the result we expected.
    I don’t believe in changing the manager in mid season. But I am clueless to say what to do next. We don’t seem to defend well nor attack strongly enough. We are playing like in early in the season again.
    Difficult times ahead. But I will trust whatever Steve Gibson is going to do.
    Up the Boro!

    1. Jarkko
      This team is afflicted with a malaise that shows itself openly by slow play. We start slowly, the opposition duly get the opener, realise that we are a beaten side and keep the speed of play down on the basis that change would be bad for them.
      If you want to judge the truth of my comment watch ‘match of the day’, you will see clearly that most matches are played at a blistering pace, remarkable reactions from all players on the pitch. Then the boro appear, and crawl about the pitch in bottom gear, no ambition, no shots, no goals.
      Have they stopped playing for him?
      Remember, it must be enraging for them to put in an Everton display only to find that he draws the team for the next match out of a hat, that would be Palace.

  38. Thanks to Redcar Red for the usual well informed and balanced report. I admire your ability to recall the detail, I tend to get carried away in the moment during a match and struggle to remember things! Or is that my age kicking in?
    However, it was in some ways to be predicted and I think that you should predict the numbers on the lottery given how close you were to the post match comments. Or are you AK in disguise! Only joking at that since you have Boro in your blood which AK does not by a long chalk.
    As I have said before, I am not convinced that MR Gibson will sack the manager, it is too late for a new man to change what we have in place and the cost of all the back room staff replacements etc, is too great.
    Whilst it will result in a car crash come May and possibly next season, I feel that SG is waiting for AK to go of his on free will (maybe a word in a few players ears to start a mutiny would be in order?!) if he sees that his position is untenable.
    It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall at Rockcliffe come Monday morning………….
    We have been here before and as my outlook is to look on the bright side, then it could be worse, we could be Orient or even the Boro in1986.
    After all our motto is Erimus, and we will overcome!

  39. The Echo have a poll running which have 20% in support of AK and 80% against.
    Had a look on the Gazette site but it appears everything falls under their Premium guise now so couldn’t read a thing not that the headlines were exactly revolutionary or that you couldn’t predict the gist of the piece.
    A bit ironic that as the Paper would normally be getting more hits than normal with the current shenanigans readers are turned away (or cough up) to competitors.

  40. Dimi shuffles over to his teammates.
    “Here lads like a little bet with me.”
    “Roberto Martinez” 2/1
    “David Wagner” 5/1
    “Diego Simeone” 5/1
    “Manuel Pellegrini” 10/1
    “Claudio Ranieri” 10/1
    “Harry Redknapp” 15/1
    “Nigel Pearson” 15/1
    “Gus Hiddink” 25/1
    “Alan Pardew” 25/1
    “Juande Ramos” 25/1
    “Glenn Hoddle” “50/1
    The players put their money down.
    “Any other takers or runners and riders?”
    Dimi asks with a grin

  41. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to watch this game so for me it’s just MOTD and reading the depressing comments from RR and others.
    I suppose at least the comfort blankets have all gone – ‘We aren’t in the bottom three’, ‘We are where we expected to be’, ‘We’d all have taken finishing 17th’ etc, at least all that has gone. All that has ever mattered is where the relentless trajectory of results and attacking impotence were taking us.
    I don’t see many positives in the present situation. It isn’t just about poor form and an underpowered attack, there are other factors within the personalities at the club and the deficits within the squad which do not look hopeful.
    For the future, how many of the present squad would still be here for a Championship campaign? A complete squad rebuild would be on the cards.
    The hope that Palace were so awful that they might grab the third promotion slot has been blown away and now it is at least obvious to everyone that a thorough re-think is needed by AK and his staff about how we can seriously threaten teams, and score some goals. Not tinkering, but is there a different approach we can try?
    Then there is Steve Gibson. He has loyally gone down while keeping his manager before, but after the long struggle to get back last time, will he throw the dice and bring in a new leader? And for AK – would he choose to stay for another Championship season? If the players think he won’t, he could already be a lame duck. But who could come in and make a difference at this stage?
    SG will at the least need to plan realistically for if we go down, and I would suggest that Gary Rowett and David Wagner might be names for him to think about (if Huddersfield don’t go up).

  42. Our current plight comes as no suprise. As I and many others on here have pointed out, Karanka is a tactical one trick pony with what appears to be appalling man management skills.
    These skills or lack of nearly cost us promotion (he was rescued by having the best squad in the division IMO). He should have went then; he should certainly go now before any further damage is done. I can’t take anymore excuses from Karanka. When is he going to take some responsibility?

  43. Karanka has to go to give the players back some belief in themselves
    He’s coached their natural ability and attributes out of them to fit into his own system and looking at them yesterday they look clueless as to what to do and look totally fed up
    He’s frozen players out,knocked their confidence publicly stating certain individuals arnt up to it. Leaving players out of the squad for questioning their exclusion,seemingly holding grudges forever.
    Personally I don’t know why he has a backroom staff because he doesn’t listen to them unless they agree with him. Is he really going to listen to Agnew&co if they have a suggestion to improve if it falls outside of his methods?
    He obviously isn’t going to resign and walk away with nothing he says d he’ll go when Gibson asks him to leave with a big fat cheque in hand no doubt!!
    Will Gibson sack him and pay him off? SG stupidly gave him an improved extended contract after Charltongate so that might have some bearing bearing on it.
    Or is there truth in the rumour Valencia are wanting him in the summer and SG is hoping to get rid with a compensation cheque in his hand instead?
    If I were SG I would get rid now even if we go down with money to spend no guarantee of going back up again look at Norwich and Villa. Better to take the financial hit now and give us a chance of staying up with 33 points to play for

    1. Karanka and The Home Guard
      “Well men, left, right, left, right, left, halt.”
      The loud sound of the shambolic shuffling of feet, clad in football boots as the men come to a halt. Their commander, the stony faced Karanka, clears his throat and mumbles to them
      “I have called you to the training ground on parade to give you your new orders. We are going to be a home guard. Our next few games will be like a fortress at home. I am going to teach you how to defend.”
      “Shouldn’t we learn how to attack as well?”
      Replied his faithful sergeant Leadbitter. Karanka gave him a withering look and went on.
      “When we learn how to defend then the enemy cannot win. A clean sheet is a point in the bag.”
      “Aye but if you don’t score goals then we can’t win, I telt you that last year, we’re all doomed, doomed I say.”
      The taciturn Downing defiantly stood his ground after saying his piece.
      Karanka looked at his men and slowly shook his head.
      “I want you to be soldiers, Galacticos to fight for me on the pitch. I want you to play very, very well. We have just been promoted this season and this is the first time we have dropped into the bottom three. It’s amazing.”
      “Corporal Friend”
      “Yes Boss?”
      The affable George almost bowed to Karanka as he awaited his command.
      “Corporal Friend, I want you to be more nasty to people, you are too nice, a friend by name and a friend by nature.”
      George nodded in agreement.
      “I’ll do some more kicking boss, they don’t like it up em!”
      “Please Sir, excuse me, can you tell me why I’m not in the squad like the rest of the men?”
      “I’ve told you Bamford you need to score goals and not just run around like a headless Chicken”
      Bamford nodded his head.
      “I know that sir, but me mum says I’ve been ever so patient and should be playing.”
      “You stupid boy, you’ll play when I’ll tell you to.”
      Karanka angrily waved Bamford away when he saw the spiv Dimi sneaking onto parade.
      “Where have you been?” Parade starts at ten o clock not half past ten.”
      “I’ve just been doing a few deals guv, sorting out menus, new waiters and stuff. Here, I’ve got a few spare kebabs you can have!”
      Karanka shakes his head at the thought of a Kebab when Husband speaks out.
      “I don’t want to be a part of this anymore, I want a divorce.”
      “Listen Husband you’ll only get a divorce when I say so.”
      Karanka looks around to see his Lieutenant Agnew jogging towards him.
      “Where have you been?”
      Agnew comes to a halt.
      “I’m sorry I’m late boss, but I was called into the office, they asked me to tell you to go and see them right away and I’m to take parade today.”
      Karanka picks up his boot bag and starts running over to the offices, the troops give a loud cheer and start playing football.

  44. Whilst looking on sky football site, I noticed an advertisement for their betting site labelled “next Premiership manager to go”. I am not a gambling man but had a look out of pure interest, here are the top 4 odds:
    Aitor Karanka 2/5
    No manager to leave 5/1
    David Moyes 8/1
    Arsene Wenger 9/1
    I think the odds are for by the end of the season.
    Come on BORO.

  45. That was a pretty grim Saturday.
    A bad defeat infects the whole weekend. Everything seems colder, damper, greyer. Everyone seems deflated and depressed.
    Don’t get me wrong – all defeats may be disappointing. To lose at home to Watford and Palace and to Chelsea were disappointing. To be stuffed at home by Liverpool wasn’t great, but we are not competing with Liverpool and that was the first time we had been taken apart this season. No, it is the dispiriting performances which lead to defeat, that REALLY get under the skin. Yesterday’s no-show against Stoke and last week’s performance against the mighty Palace are of a different order of disappointment. I suppose a defeat against Stoke was always a real possibility but the capitulation against a dire Palace which almost seemed as if it was designed to inject life into their sinking season?
    It is the gut-wrenching feeling that we are walking, blindfolded, to the executioner, knowing perfectly well what is going to happen and that no attempt will be made to change things, that really sickens. We have been here before, of course.
    If a ship is steaming ahead, aimed right at the rocks, with the Ship’s Master insisting that things can be turned around (but doing nothing active with the wheel or the engines whilst saying that) it is always POSSIBLE that a miracle might happen. A landslip a short while earlier off the Norwegian coast might cause a tidal wave to arrive in the nick of time, to deflect the course of the juggernaut. The propellers might become entangled in some floating debris, or the engines might blow up, so that the ship coasts to a halt a decent distance from the rocks, where the anchors can be dropped as we await rescue. But in the real world, 99.99999999% of the time, that boat hits the rocks and is sunk, unless control is taken of the vessel to direct it away from the rocks.
    We don’t know what is REALLY happening with the crew. Rumour suggests some of them are feeling mutinous. Well, it seems to be the position that many of the passengers, noting the speed at which the ship is approaching the rocks with no apparent effort to change course, are feeling very concerned for their safety.
    If AK is relieved of his position, he will have the benefit of what would be (for most of us) a life-changing compensation award which will mean that he and his family are safe and comfortable for the rest of their lives. As he is air-lifted away, to get over his grief, we, the passengers, will be left clinging to the wreckage. He will probably say a few kind words about the club and the loyalty of his former chairman, as a nice bottle of Rioja breathes on the table unless, of course, he should suffer the misfortune of having an interview which appears to have changed in its context when “mistranslated” by a perfidious Press.
    Meanwhile we will still be here when AK is long gone and when he has forgotten our club. You will have heard lots of people say we will not go down, that there are 3 worse teams than ours in the Premier League. It really isn’t about having the best players, the best squad or the most money. It is about having spirit and morale, being organised, tactically aware and flexible when the need arises, and getting the best out of the players you have. It is difficult to argue that those qualities have been much in evidence at our club recently.
    To go down meekly, when we might have expected to finish maybe 14-16th (not a complete pipedream given the competition) will be such a disappointment. And it would have been easier to stay up than it might be to get up again next year.
    My wife told me yesterday evening that she had hidden all the sharp objects in the house.
    I hope Sunday is better.

    1. The things we put up with to be a Boro supporter
      I had a nice Bottle of white and some smoked salmon and scrambled eggs as my enjoyment slowly dissipated with what was happening to my beloved Boro.
      I cheered myself up by opening a bottle of Red. It was really good and I mellowed a bit about the result.
      A nightcap of a nice malt and I was set for a pleasant sleep for the night no more waking up feeling something was wrong?
      Oh dear I’m turning to drink to forget! Now what was i trying to forget as I pour a gin and tonic??

        1. Some interesting things coming from Gazette towers. Unofficially of course!
          The tide is turning against AK I don’t think he will be
          Getting much more support.

  46. At the moment we are still in the PL and FA Cup which leads me to believe that SG will not presently sack AK.
    I think his strategy will be to leave AK in place until such time as the R word is confirmed. He may, in the meantime, be working in the background to find and line up a replacement.
    Once the R word is confirmed then I believe he will have a conversation with AK to ask if he wishes to continue and face all the challenges a return to the Championship will pose, and hope that AK will walk. If AK wishes to remain then and only then will SG have to make the decision which many of us have been intimating has been needed for a while in that AK has to go.

    1. KP
      I do not disagree with a word you say, but, it is always wise to act with speed and precision when confronted with manager trouble. When the great teams are in a managerial bind they never act with sweet reasonableness, even when they are going to finish third?. They hold their board meeting to ask one question, are we happy with our manager? Once the answer is given, no, they act. They believe that to waste thirteen matches of their clubs history is a dereliction of duty. He is sacked within twelve hours. That is why they are great clubs.
      We are in that position right here, right now. So get it done. We know what the future is with him, who knows what the future might be once we set the wheels in motion.

  47. Gestede can only play with wingers. Rhodes is a far more dangerous striker when playing with wingers. (Note his two headed goals again yesterday) Downing can only play with two strikers when in the number ten role. Negredo is too immobile to play up front on his own.
    All simple statements but for me glaringly obvious. Yet ak has never stuck to one of them.
    He tried to convince us gestede was a direct replacement for negredo. Really? Every villa fan said he is utterly abject as a lone striker so why did we buy him?
    All it took to see rhodes’ strengths as a striker was a five minute YouTube search. Headed goal after headed goal and we stuck him up front as a lone striker with no wing play.
    Downing’s best performances have all been with two mobile strikers in front of him (or alternatively with him employed as a winger with two players to hit in the box) yet not once has ak attempted it. See downings improved performances when we played higher up the pitch and gave him some support. Why was that never tried in the league?
    He hasn’t got a clue offensively. Not a clue. And to think that even in games where we were down and out he still doesn’t change it (probably because it would be ammunition to the fact he got it wrong in the first place!)
    It is a disgrace that the ability of this squad of players has been so underused. We could have been comfortably mid table with this group of players if their skills were utilised correctly. Instead we are staring down the barrel of a gun as the teams we should be beating we’ve already played twice and now it’s most of the big boys to come. Unfortunately you need them to underperform and us to have a stormer to get anything from those games.

  48. OFB – that parade sketch was brilliant and cheered me up no end, thank you! Mrs BBD wonders what was going on as I laughed out loud.
    Forever Dormo, that was also a good post and summed up the position pretty well. KP, you are on the same page as I am.
    I was thinking about Robbos first season in the top flight and at least we went down fighting (OK, a dubious decision and the FA being very unfair) but it was entertaining. Robbo went for attack first and then worked out that the defence needed shoring up. AK can’t see why we don’t score goals and that is the root of the position we are faced with.
    If I was a player, would I go above his head to SG? Only if I felt I was in a position of strength. Myself and a colleague did it once when the sales team were loosing staff at a rate of knots due to the management style of our boss. We waited until we were the only two left and then raised our concerns with the MD. Whilst the sales manager stayed, the management style did change for the better as did results.
    Only time will tell what transpires and typical Boro will see us win the FA cup! I have my ticket for the next game so can see in the flesh what the position is.

  49. Although it has to be likely that we will now be relegated, It’s not certain yet. Hull away, Burnley, Southampton and Sunderland at home are all winnable games if everyone is available, motivated and playing somewhere near their best. If we could win say three of those and get a surprise win somewhere else (Bournemouth?)… Seem like very big ‘ifs’ I’m afraid, but get some momentum going and you never know.
    In addition to that we might pick up a few draws and perhaps look at 35 points, which would at least ask a question of Palace. The three sides above Palace have a five-point advantage, and we have only picked up four points in the last ten matches, so it would be a big ask to catch them without a dramatic upturn.
    I think AK has his limitations but I don’t doubt that he is doing his best to turn things round, is depressed by the present situation and is looking for a solution. He may yet rise to the challenge.
    It’s also a defining moment for the players. Do they look at each other, pull together, go dogs of war and give every team a hell of a physical challenge, and make them fight for anything they get from us?

  50. I attended yesterday and despite being a big fan of AK (if that makes me an AK apologist then so be it, when all said and done he got us back to the Premiership and if it is for one season only it’s still been a blast as far as I am concerned) it pains me to say it but I think he has lost the team.
    Stoke looked a complete class above us with their movement, interplay and the space they created (which was not difficult as we were all over the place). Compared to the opening game against Stoke, Boro were a different team yesterday and they just did not look as if they believed in the formation or tactics.
    I agree with Redcar Red’s comments that AK looks as though he is running on empty and remarked to my son yesterday that he looked haunted as he walked back to the tunnel. For the benefit of both the Boro and himself/his family I think he needs to take some down time.
    There was definitely a sea change within the crowd around me with the old bloke in front of me doing the Spanish thing of waving a white hankie just in case AK was in any doubt!! I actually think that AK does possess the skill set to be a great manager (don’s flak jacket and tin hat in preparation for incoming!) but that it needs honing. He needs a clean break, reflect and take stock of the lessons learnt from his first managerial appointment.
    As for the Boro we need a manager that can motivate, instill self-belief, team spirit and confidence. I don’t subscribe to those who say we don’t have the quality of players in the squad to compete at this level. We do and it is patently obvious we do. We have not been played off the park (aside from Liverpool at home and the last couple of games) and we are where we are due to attitude and tactics rather than squad quality.

  51. What must SG be thinking? It was always likely that we’d struggle, most promoted teams do (even if the majority eventually survive) but this free-fall is something else.
    Results are one thing but what I really don’t get is SG’s tolerance of our style – or lack of it. The Chairman is clearly wedded to the tradition of Boro playing cultured, creative football in the heritage of Mannion, Hardwick, Souness, Juninho, etc.
    As evidence, I well remember, after the parting of the ways with Mogga, SG’s horror at suggestions of Pulis or Warnock for Boro. No matter how effective, there was to be no functional, dogs-of-war football at the hallowed Riverside.
    So what did we get instead? Boro play more long balls than anybody – and we don’t even play it well. We are known for turgid football – I’m working in Kuwait for a fortnight (long enough!) and they hate us even here for being boring.
    If Pulis develops functional teams, we have a DYSfunctional team. I used to criticise Mogga’s team for its obsession with possession and crab-like sideways passing that got nowhere. This Boro can’t even manage that – we struggle to string more than a couple of passes together. What’s more this style isn’t new this season, it emerged in AK’s first full season.
    So, back to my point – SG must be going through torture putting up with this dross. What is he thinking?

  52. Interesting to see the comments about Rhodes.
    Proven goalscorer in the championship, but many, many PL managers did not see him as a PL class striker (that’s why no PL club tried to sign him).
    I am no fan of Karanka’s methods, but I am sure he is not a poor judge of a player’s ability and likely level. So please, in the interests of fairness all round, don’t make Rhodes into an unlikely saviour.
    I am sure some of these commenters are the same ones who wrote off Dimi when the diminutive Shay Given was going to sign, but railed against the bigger Valdes for being too small.
    In short speculation about who would have done what is at best just that – SPECULATION

    1. Martin
      Karanka’s judgement of a Players ability is a very long charge list.
      Kike Sola
      etc. etc……
      Now throw in the league position and zero wins in 2017, lowest shots, attempts and……………….
      “Speculation” doesn’t even remotely come into it the charge sheet is an inch thick!

      1. I appreciate your standpoint, but to the assertion that Rhodes would score goals at this level I have to say once again that it is speculation

      2. No more speculative than Gestede would score goals at this level or even Bamford perhaps?
        There again considering past ratios at Championship levels (neither Bamford nor Rhodes have played at Premiership level and as for Getede’s 37 game Premiership record well that’s best just glossed over very quickly) I know which one I’d put my speculative quid on!

  53. Remember my theory on Charlton? That it was a ploy of reverse psychology that backfired?
    I forgave Aitor for that. He came back, the team pulled together, we got promoted. Yes, it was a scrape, but so too were many memorable title victories. City won the league on goal difference in the last minute in 2012, but would any City fan trade “Aguerooooo!!” for anything else? I doubt it. That is football. We live for these dramatic moments.
    Besides, Albertgate – in my view – had a great deal of reverse psychology to it. I’m theorising, but I don’t think Albert ever really wanted out in 2015 – I think that his transfer request was a means of using public opinion to force Aitor to reinstate him immediately. Aitor bravely stood firm and we won three games out of three minus Albert.
    Unfortunately now we do not possess the momentum we had then. Now the opposition are much tougher. And players, because they are the ones who can make magic on the pitch and not the manager, can get away with this reverse psychology.
    It’s a shame Aitor didn’t realise that when he threw that fit.

    1. Simon, you are right that it appeared that the team pulled together after Charltongate but arguably only for a while. Yes, Boro won 6 games in a row after the defeat at Charlton but since the draw away at Burnley in April last year the team has played 31 league games and won only 4 of them scoring a paltry 23 goals in the process.
      Your reverse psychology theory could also be true but I don’t think so. In my opinion Charltongate was the result of some serious discord in the camp that had been bubbling for a while. As I said at the time, I thought that Karanka should have been shown the door then because after the Charlton debacle things would never be the same again. The dynamic and the relationships between management and players changed for ever and no amount of patching up would permanently and successfully repair them. The genie was out of the bottle.
      The result,is what we have seen in the last couple of games. Players sidelined, a team in disarray lacking belief and with no comfidence in the manager who himself seems out of ideas and desperate.
      The current shambles will not change while Karanka is still there. At some point Steve Gibson will have to remove him and appoint a new manager who can restore the belief and confidence in the team and arrest the rapid downward spiral. It is inconceivable that if Karanka takes us back to the Championship he can remain in his job. So Steve Gibson might as well bite the bullet now in the faint hope that a new manager might save our Premier League status.
      I would like to see big Nigel given a chance. At least he shows some passion and fights (literally) for his players…….

  54. With AK saying I will leave when Mr Gibson asks me to leave……..what does he have left on his contract, 3 years @ 1mil a year? Plus the plethora of sidekicks. Not to even talk about the much praised scouting department.
    That adds up to quite a lot of money. I am sure AV could give some ball park figures.

  55. Pedro
    Sadly, I fear that a pay off is what he wants, otherwise he would walk away, as he is supposed to be a man of principle.
    Unfortunately, as you say, there is a whole support structure which will also need replacing or tweaked, at great cost.
    I have, perhaps wrongly, written off our survival hopes.
    I would, however, like us to really go for it and, at least, go down fighting.

  56. The Beeb Sport website said the following.
    “Boro’ early-season form was built on a solid defence and they have conceded fewer goals than any other team in the bottom half, but after the loss of centre-back Daniel Ayala to injury early on it was easy pickings for Stoke.”
    How important will be the injuries to Chambers and Ayala for AK and Boro? At the moment it looks like our defence is not working (and we know the attacking side neither).
    Up the Boro!

  57. Redcar Red Werder
    85 views to date on this mornings post on LinkedIn for The Diasboro Stoke match report.
    We are spreading the diasboro word

  58. With the help of Paul Forster and Josh Catterson on Twitter, I’ve uncovered multiple similarities between 2008-09 and 2016-17. Here goes.
    A pacy “project” who isn’t ready. (Emnes, Adama)
    A very busy but ineffective midfielder, expensive for what he is. (O’Neil, De Roon)
    A local defensive leader. (Wheater, Gibson)
    An unsettled playmaker who hands in a transfer request in the January window. (Downing, Ramirez)
    A lack of goals. (Speaks for itself)
    A striker played out of position on the right. (Aliadiere, Stuani)
    A good run in the FA Cup, where we win and score at home when we can’t in the league.
    Oh, yes… and the manager is struggling.
    Are we going down with a whimper again?

    1. Simon
      That the parallels are so identical is almost scary!
      That SG apparently didn’t see it coming the first time and yet here we are with deja vu is scarier still.

    2. Simon,
      Please don’t take this personally. All good work Simon I’m sure but with the greatest of respect, why bother with all (IMHO) that pointless research ?
      Oh dear, I’ve just reminded myself + many others of the last umpteen Boro games, pointless !
      I really wish I had as much time on my hands. If I had I couldn’t justify spending it that way because I’d be in the doghouse !
      To me It’s like :
      I got stoned last night after 6 pints, then analysing it the next day, finding it had happened precisely ‘X’ years ago. So why ?…
      Only woofing like.

  59. Steely & Pedro de Espana
    Your posts are echoing effectively what I said at 12.16pm. It will suite SG more if AK walks and takes his entourage with him rather than have to sack him.
    Its a bit late in the afternoon, and after a birthday celebration lunch, too difficult for me to work out at what point our fate will be sealed and the relevant conversation held between SG & AK. At a guess, another six/seven games, on current performance are likely to see us doomed.

    1. My take on things is that to clear out AK and his backroom staff would take the equivalent of one Guedioura, a Gestede and a Bamford. Sounds cheap at half the price especially of it also removes the scouting incompetents.
      A Leicester style, two game win bounce from a new Manager would make that cost pale into insignificance. I really don’t think that SG has any other alternative. If he backs AK its clear the Manager has now totally lost the plot and the atmosphere will start to turn ugly before it becomes really toxic.
      Players are seemingly in revolt, working to rule on the pitch and unless SG wants the spectacle of white hankies being waved around the Riverside his choice is fairly straightforward. AK’s big error was turning on the fans after West Ham, the residual fall out was conditional on him proving us wrong and himself right. Fast forward a few weeks and its clear the fans were right and AK deluded.

      1. RR, I agree with your conclusion on what Steve Gibson must do now and the relatively small cost of a clear out of Karanka’s team.
        However, as I said above just now in replying to Simon’s post at 2.04 pm I think AK’s big error was his behaviour during Charltongate last year, well before his criticism of the fans after the West Ham game. Now the residual problems from that episode are coming home to roost.

  60. I’m getting a growing sense from the blog that everything is wrong, most of the signings have been weak, any Prem team which sets out defensively will not find it too hard to concede very few goals, and AK is only here for whatever greedy pay-outs he can squeeze from the club.
    I don’t buy it. AK is trying to build a career as a successful manager, he wants to do well for the club and I think he cares. Some of the things he’s said haven’t been clever at all, and I’m sure there are disagreements with some players behind the scenes, but that’s pretty much par for the course in this business.
    You don’t keep Premiership attacks at bay unless you have very good players with the right skillset, discipline and concentration, who are very well organised. You might get away with it for a few games but the relentless pressure of the Prem would soon result in the goals flying in and a total loss of confidence and morale. Clearly the last two games will have dented morale and confidence, but the defensive capability kept us competitive up to then.
    The team isn’t far off, apart from the crucial error of not recruiting two more quality creative attacking midfielders. Also, there is clearly a need for more ideas in terms of attacking game-plans. If Adama had developed more quickly and offered a wider range of capabilities and guile, if Ramirez had stayed fit and in form and settled, we would probably have had enough to stay up reasonably comfortably.
    Mark W

  61. We can go on about this until we are all blue in the face.
    The simple fact is that if things stay as they are Boro are shagged, sorry relegated, and until someone, somewhere has the will to do something about it the situation will not get any better.
    There may be a lot lot more pain and agony between now and the inevitable but the inevitable will happen. A form of tortured, agonising Premiership martyrdom.
    A backs to the wall, everybody hates us, last man standing scenario would be fantastic, whatever the outcome, but with the present management it will not happen. And we can’t change the players so precisely who is going to motivate them?
    Well it will be pure torture for for the fans.

  62. To continue to utter the demonstrable untruth that Aitor Karanka has lost this club more money than Gordon Strachan is an outrageous slur on our current manager and an insult to the intelligence of the contributors and readers of this blog.
    If you take TV revenue and transfers received and then take off transfer fees paid and wages, is there a manager in out history who is more in credit than Karanka? He has achieved the only thing that really mattered to the club and that was a share of the Premier League billions. Strachan, in contrast, nearly brought then club to its knees. It took us years to get out of the tailspin he put us in.
    It might well be time for Karanka to go (usually by 2 years or so the fans, the players and the owners are heartily sick, irritated or bored to tears by a manager, so to last over 3 is a decent effort) but can we please show a bit of respect in calling for his departure. I don’t recognise the insulting, arrogant egomaniac as described in some of the posts on here. Have they met the guy? I haven’t but I know that those that have were taken a back by his love for our club and how much time he had for the ordinary fan. Young Boro fans and their parents, who were kept away from training by some of our previous managers, are welcomed with open arms by Karanka and his staff. The warmth and generosity he’s shown to people of a town, to whom he was stranger not so long ago, is remarkable.
    On the last two threads we’ve had people suggesting that Karanka’s hanging on for pay-off, or that he’s a useless defensive coach( this was based on knowledge acquired when training a few snotty nosed kids on a Sunday Morning), or that he should’ve gone 12 months ago i.e. a full two months BEFORE achieving the promotion that has secured our financial security for the forseeable future. Both Karanka and this blog deserve better.
    It’s very easy to transfer the frustration and disappointment we all feel at our failure to cut it in the top flight into outrageous and unjustified criticism of the manager. It was ever thus. Memories are short, anger and sound analysis are rare bedfellows. We’re not quite at the premier league post mortem stage yet but when we are I suspect that, after a more clear-headed analysis, the tactical failures of the manager will pale into insignificance compared to the failures of recruitment. Of course Karanka will have been involved in the recruitment process, although to what extent has not been established. For example he didn’t seem too happy to have Bamford on board, although given that no less than 3 other premier league coaches had deemed him nowhere near good enough, you can hardly blame him for that.
    Sadly, we’re going down but not because of a lack of a plan B, or an over-defensive approach, or the stubborness of the manager. We’re going down because there aren’t three teams with worse players than ours. It’s the recruitment stoopid. How we go about improving that will determine the extent to which we can benefit from the considerable riches Karanka has earned for us.

    1. Anthony
      Great Post as usual breaking things down into the elements of where we are and what constitutes success or failure.
      The televised cup game on Saturday will bring in revenue to the club of over £250k alone so it has been a great season financially.
      I too would never compare AK With Strachan without doubt the worst time I’ve ever supported the club which is over 50 years
      People forget that there was a total rebuilding job both on and off the field and whilst we may be im the bottom three we are a stronger club than when Karanka arrived.
      I always remember Big Jack Charlton saying that a manager should only stay at a club 3 years.
      Most managers don’t even last that long and Ferguson and Wenger did well to last long and have distinguished careers
      If Karanka goes I hope a lot of people recognise what he has done for the club bit if you lose the players and the crowd you’ve lost everything

  63. Anthony,
    Ever – despite my recent criticism of AK – the voice of sanity. I am very grateful.
    But it’s hard. It’s very hard for fans who’ve been starved of top flight football for seven years to see it seemingly vanishing without a fight. And of course, can we help but look at Leicester, Swansea and to a point Hull’s resurgences with great envy? And feel that losing to Palace has given them a recovery boost that we so desperately needed ourselves?
    Even if a club is at its natural level, I don’t think a football fan is ever satisfied or accepting of “the way things are”. The game is driven by a consistent desire for more. Even when we finished a relatively commendable 11th in, say, 2002-03, it felt flat, and there were surely thoughts along the lines of “oh yeah, but if only we’d learned to win away from the Riverside we’d have qualified for Europe”.
    And even when we do qualify for Europe – is that enough?
    I point you to the words of an UntypicalBoro poster named Mythbuster. I’m not sure where they are, but they were so well written that the gist of them has remained on my memory. I’ll add some words of my own.
    He said that yes, Gibson has made mistake after mistake since McClaren left – but he did have some sympathy for him. Because the fans yearned for European football.
    Yet when it was there, what did they do? They stayed at home and watched it on TV. Mythbuster, as it happened, was at the Riverside when it was attracting crowds of around 9,500, maybe 11,000 (I’m not joking) for those group ties in the then UEFA Cup. As he put it – and I can never forget this: What those who stayed at home wanted was Real Madrid, not Litex Lovech.
    But with Boro unlikely to ever reach the Champions League, will they ever be satisfied?

  64. Where is Terry Venables when you need him?
    If SG is intent on keeping AK in place, we need a plan B. There must be some former manager out there who could do the Venables role for 11 games. Hoddle? Redknapp? Any offers?

  65. Anthony
    Brilliant post, the sad fact is the flat earth society wont even notice it. Their stance is already entrenched so logical discussion is pointless.
    Before the spittle arrives I think AK’s time is up.

  66. Thanks to lol who liked my take on dads army I enjoyed writing it.
    I know it’s not constructive criticism or critique or even posting a comment that requires discussion.
    But sometimes a little light relief is required and as Boro supporters we have learned to laugh at our misfortunes.
    Quite simply it’s in our blood

  67. Anthony another fantastic post, very articulate and well written.
    However, I don’t agree with your last paragraph. I do think there are three squads worse than ours. I also do believe that Aitor is an overly defensive manager. How can a side who is going to go down in history as the side with the least shots on target in the history of the premiership not be deemed overly defensive?
    I honestly believe that if AK had found the correct balance between defence and attack and utilised the strengths of the players he had at his disposal there was more than enough strength in the squad to finish outside the bottom 3. The number of games, particularly at home, against really poor sides (or at least poor performing sides) where we’ve gone on to lose or draw by playing a game of attrition when a more offensive mentality might have yielded three points are numerous.
    That is not to detract from the two and a bit years of upward trajectory we have seen as a club under AK’s tenure and yes whatever happens at the end of the season financially we are in a much much stronger position for the sheer fact that being in the premiership for even one season guarantees you three years parachute payments that dwarfs all the other championship clubs.

  68. Bob, Loved the Dad’s Army piece.
    Anthony, Thanks for the necessary response to a silly post. I couldn’t be bothered myself, and anyway figured that that sort of stuff doesn’t carry any weight with the regulars. I do think that AK’s time is now up, however,and that the quicker and more humanely it is done the better. It was Ramirez’s display yesterday that sealed it and his indifference to the future of the club that is paying his considerable wages really is worthy of our contempt. He should be told never to darken the club’s doorstep ever again.
    Add to that the attitude of Downing who, since his second coming, has been a living example of George Graham’s axiom that you should never sign a player from a higher league, as he thinks he will be doing you a favour.
    And Ayala, who lasted no longer yesterday than it took to say ‘Daniel Sturridge’, and has been freeloading for the entire season, or at least ever since he discovered the pleasures of family life and Christmas at home.
    I have been highlighting AK’s neglect of creativity and his man-management naivety for a couple of years now, but he has been badly let down by some of his key players, and by the club’s recruitment policy and practice, for which he appears to have some but not sole or ultimate responsibility,
    And he does deserve respect for the professionalism he has brought to the club, for his organisational qualities, and for the dedication and hard work he has put in since his arrival. He deserves our thanks, rather than the bile to which he is currently being subjected. He will leave the club in infinitely better financial condition than he found it, and we will be hard put to find someone who can emulate his best qualities.
    As for the Nigel Pearson suggestion, I would have thought him unemployable by anyone who has taken the trouble to discover the details of his Derby disaster. Anyway, I doubt whether he will have graduated from his Anger Management course before the beginning of next season.

    1. Len
      As with most of the posts on here I agree with it. Having got that small point out of the way can I point out several (true) facts.
      This manager has several antisocial habits. One, against all evidence to the contrary he thinks the crowd are against him(quite amazing really)
      Two, when the crowd scream attack, attack, he is outraged(and that is scary)
      Three, he loves choosing the special game(the life changer, think Palace) to pick an off the wall team( you know six changes, weaken the defence, play someone who has packed it in for the season, leave out your speedball dribbler who needs two men to mark him, and has made four goals in recent matches, include an unfit player, play an international game maker at fullback).
      Four. when his team beat a fellow struggler with a good display, three goals and a confidence boosting display he said, ‘that was the worst display I have seen since I came here,’
      Five, when your very good playmaker and goalscorer tells you that he is leaving in the window, I would sugest that you tell him that he can leave with your goodwill but that you want nine points in the next three matches or he will not be going.
      When you just say no, then it would be wise to leave him out of the team because he is not going to try too hard..
      Six. When he makes all these strange statements to the national press, then you are in la la land,(and so it has proved)
      Final point. He is going, have no doubt about that, the entire position is untenable

  69. Good post Len. Excellent actually.
    I’d merely like to revisit some of my own thoughts from last December, which still apply now.
    Towards the end of 2014-15, AK was heard to grumble about fan “negativity”. He clearly felt that Boro, despite being in an excellent position to claim promotion for the first time in many years, weren’t getting the kind of backing that, say, Bournemouth were.
    At the time, an erudite Boro fan named Richard Antill went some way to nailing what the issue was: expectation.
    Had we not reached the play-offs in 2015, it would have been the first time we’d have finished outside the top six of the second tier for six consecutive seasons. As Richard then added, “Even in the eighties, despite all the turmoil, we were promoted back to the top flight at the end of the sixth season after Bobby Murdoch’s side went down… It’s true that we spent twenty years in the wilderness before Big Jack turned up, but even then we had regular top-six finishes.”
    His point? That Boro were overdue a promotion push, and that being where we are today (say, challenging for promotion to the Premier League, then succeeding in surviving there) is pretty much the least people expect. Par for the course.
    Add, as he then did, that we Boro fans were utterly spoiled between 1994 and 2008, and it’s suddenly crystal clear why comments such as “soulless” were made about AK’s promotion campaigns, both unsuccessful and successful.
    It’s all in, as Richard said, that Tim Booth lyric: “If I hadn’t seen such riches I could live with being poor.”
    Bournemouth, when winning the Championship, did not *have* to live with such expectations. They had arguably their best season ever.
    Similarly, the Burnleys of this world have been fortunate enough to hang on to the positivity of a recent double promotion (2014 and 2016), their Premier League fans, and – importantly – most of their squad. As Richard pointed out, we pretty much had that in 1997-98, but not in 2009-10.
    Mark Wheeler built on this point last December. He said:
    “Given that Hull and Burnley both came straight back up after relegation in 2015, Burnley after one Premier League season and Hull after two, and then last season both had parachute payments, we are competing against 19 teams who have all had PL money to build their squads over a decent period of time.
    “Every other club has a good roster of players experienced at this level, even including Hull who have a solid core of guys (with) recent PL experience, and… Burnley have kept most of their squad since 2015.
    “We have a core of Championship players who have had a lot to learn.”
    Can’t argue with that.

  70. I totally agree with Anthony’s analysis. AK has succeeded beyond most other Boro managers. As well as getting them back to the Premiere League, he has also finally delivered a measure of real financial security which should see them established for the future. For both these reasons, Steve Gibson owes him a great degree of loyalty and I’d be surprised if he just gets rid of him. I think that he will still want to try and make a success of everything that has been done at the club as part of the AK investment. Thus, I suggest that he is seriously thinking about the ‘mentor’ idea. Someone who can come in, take the pressure of AK and turn round the attitude at the club. Someone like Guus Hiddink who would command total respect from everyone concerned. Whether such a person can be found may well be the determining factor.
    The other question of course is whether AK is actually capable of taking the next step as a manager and learning from the undoubted failures of this season. I don’t know him well enough to say and there are certainly others on this blog who can make a much more accurate assessment.
    Anyway, let’s see what this week brings. At least, I would expect a comment from Steve Gibson. He must know that everyone is again looking to him for leadership.

  71. But. But.
    I must agree that this should be the end for AK. Because if we are to have any chance of surviving, something must change. And even if it’s not wholly the manager’s fault, you can’t sack the players, as a Leicester fan said.
    No amount of gratitude for how he and his family have connected with the club and the levels of professionalism instilled can cast a shadow over what must be done in the name of progress.

  72. Anthony, how on earth can Gordon Strachan’s outlay of a few million on Scott MacDonald and Kevin Thomson, plus Kris Boyd’s wages, be remotely compared to AK’s spend?
    This January window alone, £6M for RG, $6M plus for Bamford and £3.5M for the Watford lad will have dwarfed what GS2 spent in his whole tenure surely? Plus huge signing-on fees and wages and contracts.
    It is not inconceivable at all that these lot now have a cumulative valuation around the zero mark.
    De Roon also at £12M, may be worth £3-4M now, Fischer and de Pena will have no real resale value. There are plenty more.
    The PL parachute will bring a lot in but that was not remotely so high when GS2 was around so can’t properly be compared (had we got there). And don’t forget, it cost nothing to get rid of the Scot (his sole redeeming act while on Teesside). AK’s crew will be quite expensive.
    To suggest AK was not wholly responsible for Bamford’s signing is disingenuous indeed. Of course he had the final say and if not, as a man of principle we’re told, why didn’t he say so and then walk? He simply made another mistake, end of story.
    Strachan’s legacy was difficult but was dealt with but AK is far more embedded, with more staff and a ton of poor players for the next man in to shift.
    GS2 was a spikely, unlikeable person, AK is becoming disliked because of his intransigence and the fact he is a very poor manager.
    GS2 never took us up, but then he never took us down either. And it’s that coming down with such a weak base that will truly land us in it.
    They are both terrible coaches, to pretend otherwise is simple self delusion.

  73. Karanka certainly deserves some respect. The argument that he’s bought awful players and is an awful coach yet got us promoted doesn’t quite hang together for me.
    If he left today I would look back on his time as a clear success overall.
    But that success is in the past now and it is time to go. I wrote before the game that he should go at the end of the season to avoid too much disruption now. The blog has convinced me otherwise, it should happen asap.

    1. You can’t face the future looking backwards and Managers come and go even the ones who landed silverware. The club today is financially far more stable and resourced than before AK came, the League placing is far higher so overall his tenure has been successful. If he goes he leaves off higher than when he came.
      On the Players and recruitment I don’t know who is responsible for that but if it isn’t AK then they should have cleared their desks out. A 13 year old on an Xbox could have done afar better job. Too much hype, spin and bull, along with smoke and mirrors going on in the background on this front for my liking. Whoever they are they are clearly deluded, you can fool some of the people some of the time etc.
      On the Players and AK there are two sides to every story I’m sure that when the stories do come out we won’t be surprised in many cases. My take is that instead of managing individuals and their diverse cultures and personalities they had to conform to a cloned version of himself. I could be wrong as its only an impression and gut instinct leading to what is in essence only my opinion. If true that is a heck of a managerial achilles heel.
      The bottom line is that AK has failed at Premiership level be it down to recruitment (which is 50% of the problem at least) and/or his tactics. They were scraping along but in reality not working but thanks to even more incompetence at other clubs it hid the failings creating a false sense of security that was never going to last a full season as the stats all warned.
      I struggle and am exasperated why he couldn’t or can’t see his own shortcomings by what was witnessed on the pitch and whilst it is absolutely and most certainly not all his fault it is definitely time to have some closure on what has been a thoroughly underwhelming season (for me at least) for whatever reason. Wounds heal and when he returns at some future point he will be given a standing ovation and his name chanted with love and respect as was Mogga’s a few month back.
      Divorces are painful at the time but couples move on and can remain friends in the future.

  74. My own 5 Rappen, for what it’s worth.
    Now is the time for AK to go. I keep checking the Evening Pravda (and you know the cultural revolution is being derailed when even they are questioning the logic of AK’s decisions) with the full expectation that the sacking will be announced. Across the full weekend, no news, which surprised me.
    For SG to not act now is tantamount to accepting relegation (which I believe is inevitable with AK), and would be, in my opinion, one of his most damaging decisions. AK has clearly torn the playing staff apart and, as I think Paul said above, getting relegated happens – but if you want to come back you need spirit and determination. We did it under Robbo because of the injustice of the 3 points. Other clubs such as Burnley had it as part of the plan and bought into the managers philosophy, others still such as Newcastle consider it their right to be in the PL and retained a world-class manager to prove to himself and themselves that they belong. Unfortunately AK has now fractured the spirit and to countenance keeping him next season would be madness, half or more of the squad would want to walk and the remaining half may not want to be there. That would cost money and time to fix.
    No, as Werder said, the long term plan can’t be to keep AK, so better to change now. Even if the plan is a short-term Hiddink type until we can get the right man in the summer (Wagner please!) then AK is not part of the future so there is no point him being part of the present any longer.
    On AK himself. Lots of speculation that he is hanging on for his payoff. I’m not sure that is right. Despite his arrogant boasts of not needing the money, which I don’t necessarily believe, I still don’t think it is money that keeps him hanging on. Rather, character wise, I think he doesn’t want to quit. Mourinho has never quit, he had the arrogance to presume he was the man to turn it around. Likewise AK. I think he wants to be sacked not for the payoff, but because he can walk away and say that the club lost faith in his methods and that given time he would have been proved right. I suspect it is his reputation and future career which he is staking on being sacked, as I can imagine he would hate to be seen as a quitter.
    Anyway, hopefully by lunchtime today the debate will move onto his replacement and not how long he can hang on.
    And – bonus for the new manager, looks like Zlatan will be suspended when we play Man Utd. Whilst Jose stands on the touchline wearing an AK embroider tracksuit Zlatan will likely be sat at home watching his colleagues toil to a 3-1 defeat to a revitalised Boro, after Clayton crunches Pogba in the 3rd minute.
    We can dream. We can but dream.

  75. Why are people giving the ‘Messiah ‘ tag to Karanka ,who in their eyes has gotten this club into a healthy financial position,the amount of money he has been given to spend and he has wasted defies belief, then he has the hide to complain about our transfer failings. As the Manager he has the final word who signs. The one man who is responsible for bankrolling his wants is and always will be is Steve Gibson, he is the Man. Plus the lucrative spoils thrown at clubs by the tv deal.Yes Karanka has played his part at times but I think he realised a while ago that he couldn’t handle the stress and the pressure, you only have to see the change in his demeanour this season , he looks shellshocked.
    Time to act and let a new broom in the place because if Karanka presides over a relegation and is here next season, not too many will be rushing to buy a season ticket with the football we play.

  76. He quite clearly isn’t a terrible coach. We’ve discussed on here plenty of times the players that have improved under him (and the player testimonials to that effect) But he’s quite clearly not the best coach in the world either – and I guess you wouldn’t expect him to be in his 1st job.
    This idea as well that if you have the best team in the Championship you automatically go up – first of all, I don’t think we did – Burnley and Hull both came down that year with stronger squads than ours, others invested heavily including Derby (I remember people panicking when they bought Andreas Weimann). And secondly, as Derby (repeatedly) and others have proved, having the best squad or one of the best squads doesn’t mean you will be getting promoted.
    Newcastle have the best squad by miles this year and they are only just now beginning to pull away. So if we are going to give AK stick now, let’s give AK credit where it’s due as well. And if he does leave by noon today, he should be welcomed back in future and given the reception he deserves.
    On there being worse teams than us – I think we can agree that we should be finishing above Sunderland and Hull.
    But the others?
    Palace – established PL team, spent £30m+ on Benteke
    Swansea – established PL team, have a star player in Sigurdsson who would walk into much better teams
    Leicester – er, the Champions.
    Bournemouth – another etablished PL team, spent £15m on Ibe last year, best manager in the world etc…
    So, why are we expecting to finish above any of those without a massive struggle?

    1. The point is that it isn’t always the three worse squads who go down other factors come into play, like the quality of your manager.
      How come Burnley who had an inferior home record to us last year have won 9 home games this year compared to our measly 3?
      I would suggest it’s more to do with the managers and the fact that Sean dyche realised that to stay in this league you need to pick up most of your points at home and that draws aren’t good enough.
      Something AK has singularly failed to grasp all season as he sets his side out to not concede with only three offensive players on the pitch at any given time.
      If we had gone for wins at home and played every game like a cup final (as I suggest Burnley do, not settling for draws) then we would be far higher in the table and AK’s job would not be under threat.

  77. I would imagine that the pain of seeing history repeat itself is too much for some – and not just with the various similarities to 2008-09.
    When Robbo brought us straight back up after relegation in 1997, the feeling was: so he should have with the resources he had, and also that things would never be the same. We’d been found out and neither Robbo nor his Boro would be taken seriously again. Instead, we’d be viewed as a small club that tried to buy their way to the top and dismally failed.
    What has happened to AKBoro since January 2016 is most reflective of that sorry state of affairs, including running away from responsibilities when things started suddenly going all wrong. For Blackburn, read Charlton, except back then it was the whole team that were absent, not just the manager.

  78. Compared to my information, there seems to be a misconception about Charltongate. There was no ploy or reverse psychology. I have it on good authority (a club insider) that it was all about transfer policy.
    Ever since the GS2 jockification debacle, SG and Bausor took control of transfers – not just negotiations but also to decide on who to buy and sell. Mangers would draw up their lists but the executive had final say and implemented accordingly.
    In short, the Continental system. Accordingly it was anticipated that AK would fit into this smoothly.
    That was the source of the clash. He didn’t want Rhodes or Downing (who SG had promised would always have a job if he wanted to return). AK objected and, as a matter of principle, said he would not continue under those terms. SG presumably made concessions.
    That explains why Downing never became a regular and, even more, why Rhodes was frozen out. It makes you wonder whether something similar is going on now with Bamford.

    1. Nikeboro
      If that is correct then if I was AK I would have walked, even more so when the clowns and numpties finished their January transfer business. Models only work when you have competent individuals in place within that model.
      At the risk of harping on (but I feel it necessary as it highlights the lack of competence at a Premiership football club) is the Kit indicative of professionalism within that very same model?
      It sounds like the word “meddle” is more appropriate than “model” if Nikeboro’s ruminations are correct.

    2. NikeBoro, I would not of bought SD, not at any price and we paid alot for him. Now whether he was a SG buy or not may be we will never know. I am convinced though that AK wanted McCormack and not Rhodes but compromised on that one. SG would have argued Rhodes had sell on value, McCormack a lot less as has been proven.
      Also I think you will find that SD played as many games, if not more than the regulars that first season.

  79. You are right about the pain, Simon. I remember when we were so close to winning the League Cup at Wembley, then Heskey equalised and I foresaw right then the sad sequence of events which duly played out. I think Kevin Keegan once said that the pain of the defeats stayed with him more than the joy of the victories.
    On the other hand, I’ll always remember the joy of some of the titanic playoff wins and the recent very special day against Brighton.
    But right now I have sunk into Heskey mode.
    Also, thanks for reminding me that I do occasionally say something sensible.
    Mark W

  80. Given that promotion alone represented a windfall of £120m in prize money and parachute payments, then any financial arguments in comparison to wee Gordon will struggle when it comes to the bottom line.
    It’s not to say that some of the club’s transfer dealings of late have appeared to not represent the best business available out there – if Bamford has unsurprisingly been deemed not match fit and dropped then it’s hard to see how he will get that match fitness this season by not playing – so we’ve seemingly replaced Nugent and Rhodes with just Rudy ‘what’s a win bonus’ Gestede.
    Still it’s good to see Anthony back on the boards as the voice of reason when it comes to offering support to Karanka, though I wish him luck in his attempt to break the record for holding a huge chunk of butter in his mouth without it melting – unfortunately my memory of his pre-Karanka conversion days are still floating around in my head – they are no doubt rattling around amongst my early pro-Strachan posts 🙂
    I think it’s fair to say Karanka, like I suppose most people, has many admirable qualities – but when he ‘s not bouncing small Boro fans on his knee at Hurworth or helping to pack the shopping bags of old ladies in Hill Street Shopping Centre, he’s definitely shown some personality flaws, tetchiness and blatant scapegoating in his time at Boro.
    Whilst they are probably the manifestations of the pressures that comes with the job, they do ultimately have an impact on how he performs in that job. We don’t know looking from the outside what are the causes for many of the apparent fall-outs behind the scenes – but Boro can ill-afford many of their better players being out of the picture for what remains of the season.
    Even Mogga, who from those who have met with him said he was a top bloke and decent man, eventually reached the end and had to go – so there’s no shame in arriving at that point. I agree with Len and others that the chairman should do the humane thing and take him out of the firing line as he may be on a hiding to nothing as there is very little sign he can change his approach.
    Though we should probably just take with a pinch of salt remarks from those that say Karanka is just concerned with improving his own CV so he can move up the coaching ladder and what he leaves in his wake, should it not turn out as we hope is of no consequence to him.

  81. Thanks for clearing that up for me Nikeboro.
    My reverse psychology theory was just speculation on my part. Just a theory.
    Again, many thanks.

  82. Anyway, I’ve done the Gazette predictor to cheer myself up – we finish 17th on 37 points ahead of Palace on 35, Sunderland 34 and Hull 25. Bournemouth aren’t in it, but I think they might be dragged into it. Palace have a pretty horrendous run-in actually.
    That’s 4 wins v Burnley, Southampton, Hull and Sunderland. ‘but that’s 4 wins in 11 games after 4 wins in 30’ I hear you cry. Ok – but you can’t tell me we aren’t capable of winning those 4 games, AK or no AK.

    1. BoroPhil you may be right, all is not lost but it does not feel that way.
      I have sincerely wanted AK to succeed and be at the Boro for a number of years until a big La Liga club came calling. But it does not look as though that is going to be the case.
      Are we cable of winning those four games? Possibly. With AK solely in charge, I am not sure.

  83. If NikeBoro is correct then SG might be feeling responsible for the current problems. Does that mean he will stick with AK and change himself by allowing AK more control over transfers?
    If he does, we can be fairly certain that it will be in the Championship. Change the manager and stick with the model, or change the model and stick with the manager? Or change both?

  84. Just thinking further about Nikeboro’s input on Charltongate. We have a Coach whose style, methodology and tactics are very clear and set in tablets of Stone, encased in concrete, set in a safe within the innermost sanctum of the Pentagon. Many of us don’t like what we see on a purely cosmetic basis but grudgingly accept that it has ground out the required outcome (up until now at least).
    AK was allegedly less than pleased about transfer policy last season pre Charlton and again if Nikeboro is accurate then I’m on Aitor’s side on that. The summer was shall we say very busy but quantity does not equal quality and as I have said a few weeks back I don’t believe that there was a single purchase that was better than what we already had at the club. At very best we could argue over Valdes and perhaps Negredo but thats stretching it to the absolute maximum. Chambers on loan does seem to have been an improvement which I accept.
    Now and this is the crux of the matter, Stewy played his recent best football behind two strikers that AK never has and never will play so why buy him? Rhodes plays best as part of a front two so why buy him if we only play with a single striker? Albert may not be the best but was the most productive wide player in a best of a bad lot that did at least fit into the system easier than many others so why sell him (even accepting the contract story which is another story in itself)?
    It appears that players were bought that didn’t have the skill sets to fit AK’s strict system that was not for bending or accommodating anyone or anything (and its OK to have deeply held beliefs and stick to them). What then is AK supposed to do with a squad of players that do not fit the system which lets face it is abundantly clear to us onlookers so I would hope a lot clearer to those signing the cheques and more so to those scouting at the club?
    If all the above is even remotely close to the truth then is AK to blame or is he more of a victim of the same professionalism that sources catalogue kits? He has a defence which has been doing a decent job but a midfield found wanting and an attack which is sterile and ineffective. He made clear what his January wish list was and who he wanted. I’m not convinced by some of the individuals but saw that their respective positions made sense in relation to where the gaps were in our current squad.
    I doubt that list was conceived on December 31st and I would then think that a competent individual would take Jese, Bogjan and Snodgrass and compile a secondary, tertiary alternative etc. That making good solid intelligent thinking where the fook does Gestede, Guedioura and Bamford fit into the equation?
    Is Aitor to blame or the victim of gross incompetence elsewhere within the club?

  85. I believe that nikeboro (8:29 above) has got it spot on with transfers as it fits everything that has gone on with players. Probably after Strachen brought all the Scottish “Men” that failed miserably, SG and NB have said “never again” we will decide who the club buys.
    Jan 2016 transfer window, club is struggling for creativity to score goals therefore AK gives them a list of the players who have the skill set, at affordable price, that he needs, 2 out of the 3/4 on the list will do. At the end of the window, not only have they not delivered any of his targets but bought players he did not even know (Gestede) and SG/NB thought to pacify AK we will get him Bamford because he really liked him a couple of seasons ago. Probably a couple of seasons ago AK identified Bamford was at best a Championship player and although he wanted him the next season for another promotion push, once in the Premiership he wanted better quality.
    After the window closed AK criticised the transfer dealings and got lambasted on here and other sites for doing so. Why shouldn’t he have done ? If you were doing a job and you told hierarchy that you needed a Phillips screwdriver and they gave you a chisel, do you keep quiet and fail then everyone blames you or do you say straightaway how do you expect me to complete the job with this !
    Everything that has happened with Rhodes, Downing and now Bamford, coupled with AK’s anger and frustration points to nikeboro being spot on and no matter what happens for the rest of the season the transfer dealing policy has got to change, no matter how good SG/NB are at championship manager on their PlayStations.
    Come on BORO.

    1. We will probably never know RR, but the recruitment policy and buys to date have been very poor. Yes I can understand SG being involved, it is his club and his money that was being squandered.
      But the players bought have to be better than those you have and fit the system the Manager is going to use most of the time. I am not convinced SG will have had much to do with the Spanish speaking incomings, he just would not know them. Also we all wanted Ramirez to be fair.
      However, whoever is responsible for the buys, and it will be a collective, well they want kicking all around the Riverside.

      1. Without Ramirez we wouldn’t be in the Premiership including his gashed shin. His track record and that of his agents meant that this current scenario was always likely, however we should have had other options with a squad of 25 players.
        Retaining him in the summer as we all wanted just meant maintaining the strength that we had at the end of last season. The requirement was to improve overall and I have to say I would rather have Nsue and Adomah than Barragan and Traore as an example and that’s before getting into things like synergy.
        Clearly something has started to go off at the club and someone hasn’t taken steps to ensure that all the stock (departments) remained fresh and fit for sale and not become shop soiled.

  86. If SG/NB have been buying the players since the Strachan days then perhaps they deserve some of the credit that went Mowbray’s way for Friend, Leadbitter, Adomah etc.
    Or perhaps TM sourced those players whilst he was setting up the scouting/recruitment department we “enjoy” today.
    The number of Spanish speaking players we have had at the club suggests to me that, at least until this season, Karanka has been quite heavily involved in recruitment.
    What I suspect, is that his ideas have been supplemented with players that he didn’t want. I suspect that players like Woodgate, Downing and Rhodes were all brought in above the manager’s (can’t recall if Woodgate predates AK or not, I think he did), but the Kike’s, Nsue’s and Stuanis were all very much AK’s own players.
    Perhaps AK has been having a smaller and smaller say as time has gone on.

  87. The fact that Rhodes was not a Karanka buy was abundantly obvious. Downing was a bit different, and I’m sure AK maybe also thought that he has something to offer. The fact that he has turned out to be the worthless cuckoo in the nest could not have been predicted.
    As I said during the January window, if SG was serious about backing AK then he should have done whatever was required to get Downing out of the club. The fact he didn’t would for me, if I were AK, have already told me where the land lies. Perhaps this is behind his general air of depression since then. And his bizarre statements about having the best squad in the world. Perhaps AK has been letting us know all the long that he is having his hands tied on several important fronts.
    Ultimately he needs to pay the price for not getting the best out of what he has, but I really hope that this has taught the hierarchy a lesson. If you don’t give control, or if you buy people that don’t fit your strategy then you are doomed to an expensive failure. What is more depressing is knowing that the last time we were relegated we had wasted money on poor signings, often big names who were ageing and not delivering value for money, or projects sold on at a huge loss (Digard, Emnes). To see SG repeat those mistakes and sanction the purchases of Guedioera, Gestede is thoroughly depressing.
    And on a quick straw poll front – who would you rather have: Rhodes and Nugent or Gestede and Bamford?

  88. AK may have objected to the Chairman’s transfer policy, but leaving it until Charlton to throw his toys out of the pram about the signing of Downing and Rhodes strikes me as a little implausible.
    As for making wise transfer decisions, AK’s buys so far leave a little to be desired. Ramirez for example?
    Irrespective of whether we survive or not this season, for me AK’s time is done.
    I’ve had a Spartakian epiphany!!

    1. Nigel
      I’m puzzled by the constant referrals to Charlton, I’m not going to rehash the stories, i.e. it was a clash over ‘ transfer policy’, and I do not care who was involved, chairman, recruiter, old uncle tom Cobly and all. I merely say it does not add up, period. Just think a moment, the team were going to Charlton to collect three points, every other team had done so, they were in free fall, destined for oblivion(still are by the way) and we were going to thrust our snouts into that particular trough, and say ‘thank you very much’ . As a side issue their fans gave us a great welcome and said ‘knock ten past them we want rid of this owner’.
      In view of the above, why would we be anything but happy as we set out to collect big time, and maybe improve our goal difference.?

  89. The slight change in tone on the blog is interesting, Nikeboro’s comments were illuminating.
    The spotlight is now falling on the recruitment as well as Aitor. Did I ever mention that I was not overwhelmed by our activity in the August window, I will just draw a veil over January.
    Simon mentioned about the fact other clubs have at least two years premiership spending already as well as experience. Simon mentions it has been on here before, a few of us have discussed it in posts.
    Some have called it nonsense when it was mentioned previously.
    When the next interminable break comes up, lets see how many Boro players depart for a week or so.
    So we now seem to accept the squad has limitations and may not be what AK wanted.
    Ben Gibson was withering in the Torrygraph
    Putting that all to one side, do I think it is time to consider a change?
    I stand by my view that if AK had the players that Spurs have we would play like Spurs but we haven’t.
    If AK wont change then there is little alternative because clearly all is not well.

  90. Ian –
    Whilst the amount of input Karanka had on incoming transfers may be mitigating as far his plans went, it is immaterial to the present situation. Whoever is in charge until the end of the season only has the players currently at the club – if the manager can’t (or won’t) utilise them to meet the required target of staying up then we’re going down.
    As for Ben Gibson’s assessment of Stoke in the Telegraph:
    “We talked all week about putting things right, about being more expansive and being better up the other end of the pitch but you can’t neglect our end of the pitch if that’s what you’re going to do.”
    Maybe I missed the bit where Boro went all gung ho and left ourselves exposed at the back – it doesn’t quite add up if that is what he was implying as the reason for defeat.
    It’s like the previous article in the same paper where Karanka also talked about how they’ve been working for several weeks on getting more people in the box and having more goal attempts. Whatever they’ve worked on clearly hasn’t been put into practice during the last two games.

  91. Werder
    In essence that is what I was saying, all the bits about the squad is only background, a broader view of the situation as opposed to a rant.
    Clearly all is not well, a change is needed, cant change the players.
    Only leaves one alternative.

    1. Its all about the money, Ian – you should know that!
      The additional issue is who will take up the poison chalice & yransform it into gold?
      My thoughts are the powers that be are desperate & clueless – just my opinion like 😉

  92. “We appoint a guy, build him up, expect him to reinvent the wheel and then, when the team falls back to its natural level, call him a failure.”
    — That was Anthony “Paulista Park” McCarthy, around the time Mogga was sacked! Make what you will of that.

  93. Ian –
    Let’s hope we don’t get the view of TINA (There Is No Alternative) – Though I notice the players have been given the day off today – whether that is of any significance in terms of possible discussions taking place is anybody’s guess.

  94. This is how it goes
    Bouwser, ” hey Steve Watford offered us Guediora ,what do you think,
    Steve ” How much?
    Bouwser ” Cheap”
    Steve ” What do you think Gilly ?”
    Gilly ” get him ,just what we need ”
    Steve ” Aitor what do you say”
    Aitor ” Whatever”
    Bouwser ” Can have Bamford and that Gestede as well”
    Gilly ” absolutely, top blokes in the Championship, you never know, they can at least be on the bench,right Steve?
    Steve ” Aitor , fans will love that ,won’t they, and after we sell Rhoades and Nugent, we will make a killing”
    Aitor ” Whatever ? Now I’ll have to tell Ben ,to kick the ball as far and high as he can.”
    High fives all around !

    1. Interesting Ian, very interesting.
      In fact you do wonder how deep clubs look at a players personality and whether his agent is all things? (well for an agent that is)

    1. Ian
      You would indeed hope due diligence took place but then you look at the January outgoings and incomings and realise that it absolutely most positively definitely didn’t.

  95. On reflection, I was probably wrong in suggesting that AK might be waiting for a pay off (I was really hurting at that point) but I don’t know how he is going to rescue the current situation. All the signs in recent months have been of a man who is under pressure but doesn’t want to admit it.
    I will always be grateful for what he has achieved here but it seems he has reached the point where he can take us no further. His comments don’t do him any favours. We’ll never know the truth of what goes on behind the scenes but, as far as the paying public is concerned, the tide seems to be turning heavily against him.
    I’d love him to prove us wrong but I don’t think he can in the time available. Too many opportunities have been and gone.
    I repeat. I’d love to be proven wrong but the signs are not good.

  96. Steely
    The difficulty is that once things turn against you it is hard to stop the runaway train.
    I mentioned a bit ago that spell of matches that included Leicester home and away, Burnley and Manu. We should have got more than the measly two points out those but didn’t.
    Then form dips a bit and you are in trouble, nothing you try works, a player starts wanting away and is clearly showing the wrong attitude. You don’t get the players you want.
    It is unforgiving in the top flight and there is nothing AK can do about it.

  97. Yes Ian, those points we had in the bag almost and to throw them away in the dying minutes of those matches. Cannot really blame AK for the players mistakes as been said before. But he is the Manager and he carries the can.
    Mr Gibson may have interfered, we will never know and in the end, whenever it is, AK will go and Mr Gibson will retain his support from the fans in general.

  98. The Man U game in particular looks a big turning point now. I said on Twitter to Simon that another similarity to our last relegation season is that game – back then we were 1-0 up at Hull in early December with 10 mins to go and lost 2-1; we didn’t win again until 28 Feb. That was 2-0 v Liverpool, and totally out of the blue – if we similarly beat Man U then it really will be getting spooky.

  99. Of all the comments about the transfer dealings and the “what if’s”, nobody has really looked at it on behalf of AK, so I will.
    We know he didn’t (or seem to) want Rhodes and Downing etc but we don’t know who he did want in that period but let us ponder “what if” they had only even got two of the three we know he wanted in Jan window, mainly Deulofeu, Bojan and Snodgrass even to the fact of selling Rameriz to Leicester and get all three. I wonder how many points we would have got from the fixtures since Jan 14 ?
    Come on BORO.

    1. Exmil, probably the same because it’s not the players but the system that stinks. As someone has said before on this forum, even Messi would struggle in an AK team.
      As it seems to be widely accepted on this forum that the current situation of the club constitutes a real crisis, the deafening silence from the Chairman is puzzling to say the least. If he intends to keep Karanka (which seems bizarrely to be the case) then I think he would be well advised to explain why to the fans to try and head off the looming outbreak of white handkerchiefs and serious unrest at upcoming league matches.
      I appreciate that others have different views but for me keeping Karanka is tantamount to throwing in the towel and accepting a certain and feeble descent back to the Championship. I am sure the Chairman has his reasons for what he does but I find the lack of decisive action and communication very disappointing.

  100. System error lost a post.
    In case anyone is in any doubt, my comments about recruitment etc are about the club not a support for AK.
    The players, Ramirez apart, look to be trying but they cant do anything about it.
    The issue is what to do next.
    You can replace AK now but with games against Citeh and Manu coming up would you gain by bringing a new manager in? No one expects anything out of those games so is it better to have a change later with two clear weeks.
    As I posted before there will not be a flood of departures to foreign places, hopefully Gaston will go and throw a hissy fit and never come back. We can refuse to pay his wages and his reputation will be in tatters, or taters as a spud.

  101. We’re obviously full of Regret on a Blue Monday, but True Faith in a New Order may get our World In Motion again. Has Gibbo the Temptation to change?
    To spark a heaven, a gateway, a hope, because this feeling inside is no joke although it hurts me to see AK this way.
    The bolts from above will hurt the people down below,
    But, people of this world, we have no other place to go…

  102. Re the Bamford transfer,if I remember correctly when Bamford was interviewed after he signed he said he spoke to Karanka when we played Burnley and he had said to Karanka “come and save me” and Karanka had replied something along the lines of “Don’t worry I’ll come and get you”
    Bamford was Karankas choice

  103. I just want to echo Steely’s comments above. I would love Karanka to turn this round. I would love it if we finished 17th with him at the helm. We really do owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
    But I don’t think he can turn it round, because I don’t think he will change. I don’t think he will set up the side to be more of an attacking force, and I’m not even sure he knows how to get them to play in that way. I wish it were not so. But even the EG’s writers are now questioning AK’s ability to turn it round. This is not an anti-Karanka thing. It’s about saving the club and avoiding relegation at all costs. And at the moment, there are just too many negative factors at play.
    I am 100% certain that Steve Gibson will be carefully weighing up all the options. He is almost certainly talking to many people both within and outside the club. It may be the status quo today still, but I am sure that he will take the necessary action when he thinks the time is right and won’t let the club go sleepwalking into another relegation. In SG we trust.

  104. Replying to Ian’s link to the Ramirez article above:- if (IF) Ramirez is responsible for creating some of the obvious disharmony in the squad, then AK could do himself a lot of favours, and win a few friends, if he henceforth banished the Uruguayan to the reserves. Letting the other players know that Ramirez won’t ever play for us again just might galvanise team spirit and get everybody back on the front foot.
    Of course, that could be just pie in the sky. The problems may go well beyond that. Discuss.

  105. I think the problem with Ramirez is that in terms of the role he plays in our team he is irreplaceable. A bit like arsenal and alexis Sanchez (only a lower premier league club version!) if you take out your best player what are you left with?
    It’s catch 22 for ak on this one. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t!
    The position we were crying out to fill in the January window is the position Ramirez fills and he’s the best player we have there. Would adama/traore/Fischer be good enough to take points off the big boys?
    For me if Ramirez is sent to Coventry our only course of action is to change the system. Play two up front and get rid of the need for so many attacking midfielders. Negate the loss of Ramirez to some extent. Otherwise with the same system we’ve been playing without Ramirez we’re not good enough.

  106. I agree with Ian. Let’s see through the two matches against the Manchester ‘giants’ with AK in there.
    Let’s see if the players respond. I think we have missing a functioning Ramirez. And above all, the intensity. I don’t think the system works if we don’t have committed players and intensity.
    Up the Boro!

  107. Can’t believe the press are rating Gibbo’s valuation as 25 mill. After some of the money paid for donkey’s by some clubs, if Chelsea scammed us out of 6 mill. for Bamford then they should be paying us at least 60 mill. ( thats if we sell him )
    Maybe 100 mill. for Gibbo and Traore. ( 2 for sale ).
    Will be sad if we sell him if we get relegated.

  108. “I… don’t think it is money that keeps him hanging on. Rather, character wise, I think he doesn’t want to quit. Mourinho has never quit, he had the arrogance to presume he was the man to turn it around. Likewise AK. I think he wants to be sacked not for the payoff, but because he can walk away and say that the club lost faith in his methods, and that given time he would have been proved right. I suspect it is his reputation and future career which he is staking on being sacked, as I can imagine he would hate to be seen as a quitter.”
    — These words, from Smoggy In Exile, pretty much sum it all up.

  109. This is how I see it, whatever we do with the manager we will be relegated regardless. The team is bereft of quality and add in internal dissensions and there is only one outcome. Do we sack Karanka now and that gives us a chance of securing a better quality manager or do we wait until relegated and probably attract a lesser name. Look at Newcastle, I am sure Benitez would not have joined them as a championship club, they got him in at the end of last season even though there was little chance of him keeping them up and they are now reaping the benefits of that decision.

  110. Geoff – that works if the manager in question is available. Say, for argument, we like Wagner at Huddersfield, he would not be available until summer and probably only if their promotion bid fails.
    Of course some managers (Big Nige) are likely to be available in perpetuity.

Leave a Reply