In2views: Jim Platt

In the first in a series of profiles and interviews, Orginal Fat Bob gives his personal view on the life and career of a footballing guest before sitting down for chat and asking a few questions. Our Diasboro special guest this week is Jim Platt…

1. The Overview – the man and his career

I’ve got to know Jim very well over the last few years and he still looks as if he could play in goal tomorrow for a professional team. He still coaches at the Reds Football Academy with Bernie Slaven, Craig Hignett and Gary Pallister. He has also played regular football into middle age and was once beaten in goal by our own regular of these boards Jarkko! who has never forgotten the experience.

Tall slim and always immaculate, Jim personifies what a former athlete should look like and should not be compared with some of his contemporaries who look a lot older! I’m sure I’ll get some stick from some of them when next I see them for saying that, but Jim does look pretty good.

We signed him for £7,000 from Northern Irish side Ballymena and he went on to become a regular in the seventies and the eighties. During his playing career at Ayresome Park, he had five managers and played 481 games, which makes him (I think), Boro’s fifth highest all-time appearance maker. I’m sure our resident keeper of records, Ken Smith, will check that and correct me though.

jim platt colour

One of our greatest ever goalkeepers, he was a great striker as well. Jim always liked playing up front and was a striker when he was at school, before being moved back between the sticks. He once played for the Boro reserves as a striker at Lincoln and scored a hat-trick. If you can remember those halcyon days, there was just one substitute allowed. Jim was travelling with the team as 13th man, but one of his team mates was ill on the bus. So, Jim was put on the bench and then during the game another Boro player pulled a hamstring after 15 minutes and had to go off. The rest is the stuff that readers of the Hotspur or Roy of the Rovers will feel familiar with. Jim came on and got first a good goal, then another one, this time a tap in and finally a great header which puts him in the history books.

I actually saw him play centre-forward for the reserves when I couldn’t get enough football and used to go to Ayresome Park. These were usually mid-week games on cold winter nights when I wanted to see what players were coming through from the juniors. I took an avid interest, as in those days I was a referee who as part of a three-man team, we used to officiate for all the Boro trial and junior games. It was nice to see the players we thought would make it, including the likes of: Mark Proctor, Craig Johnson and Stan Cummins break into the reserves, then the first team. Jim Platt always caught the eye playing up front and could have made a decent living as an outfield player.

During his long and distinguished career, Jim won 23 caps for Northern Ireland. He undoubtedly would have won many more, but at that time there was another one of football’s great players who was also in competition for the International goalkeeper’s shirt. That was of course, the great Pat Jennings, who also played for Spurs. Jim was also in the Irish team that won the Home Championship, the last time it was played. The former chief scout for the Boro Jack Watson insisted: “If it hadn’t been for Pat Jennings, who was world class, he’d have got more than 100 caps.”

Jim was eventually started to be edged out by John Neal, who brought in Jim Stewart, and exiled Platt with loans spells at Hartlepool and Cardiff in 1979.But both times he played his way back and his form in his later years was good enough to ensure he went to the 1982 World Cup in Spain with Northern Ireland, playing against Austria. His testimonial game included international team-mate George Best, someone that I thought I would never get to see play in a Boro shirt. Best even agreed to sign for the club but then went on a drinking spree and sadly it never happened.

Although fans may know he played for Ballymena United he also acted as their manager for a season from 1984–85, after which he had a longer spell at Coleraine, managing them for six years from 1985 to 1991. In 1991, he had another short spell, this time at Ballyclare, for just one season from 1991–92.

For the 1992–93 season he was given the job of managing Swedish outfit Assyriska, in the Swedish First Division. He had a two-season spell managing Darlington one partly with another former Boro player David Hodgson, then the other from 1995–96, before leaving full-time management to take a job with Gateshead.

He has also previously been Middlesbrough’s Chief Coach at their Football Community Centre and now he acts as a match day Boro ambassador and host. He welcomes guests from the world of football and former players, joining in discussions with fans, reminiscing of past glories and hopeful of new ones.

2. The Interview – a quick chat

OFB: What year did you join Boro as a professional footballer?

JP: I joined the Boro in 1970 at the age of 18.

OFB: Where did you stay? Did you rent, or did you live in digs?

JP: I lived firstly in the MFC Hostel and then we moved out of that and into digs. I hated digs!

OFB: Who was your favourite Boro player that you played with at the time?

JP: It was probably Eric McMordie as he was from Northern Ireland as well.

OFB: Who was the best trainer in the team?

JP: There were several players at that time who were good on the training field. These included the likes of, Derrick Downing and Alan Moody. Later in my career, the best players who showed up well on the training pitch were David Hodgson and Craig Johnson.

OFB: Who did you room with for away matches?

JP: I was a groupie! Several of us used to room together in those days but later in my career I used to share with the late, great, Bosco Jankovic.

OFB: Who was the joker in the team?

JP: Eric McMordie was always playing pranks and was the joker in the pack.

OFB: Can you tell us any amusing anecdotes or pranks that were played?

JP: I remember when we travelled on the train as a team, Cliff Mitchell who was the Evening Gazette Chief Sports writer at the time, used to travel with us. One day we were going to an away game and Cliff who was on expenses went for lunch leaving his beloved trilby on his seat. Eric having the “divvil” in him casually picked up the trilby, slid back the window of the coach and threw it out, to be lost forever. When Cliff came back to his seat, he spent the rest of the journey searching high and low for his hat!

OFB: Who was in your opinion the best manager that Boro have ever had?

JP: Oh! undoubtedly Jack Charlton was the greatest manager that I played under at M.F.C, however, great credit must also go to Stan Anderson. Stan carefully scouted and searched for the players and ended up with and assembled some great players. It wasn’t all plain sailing though, I fell out with Charlton and was dropped for 23 games in 1976-77 in a dispute over where I should be standing at corners.

OFB: Why do you think Jack was the greatest manager?

JP: It was his ability to change things. He could read the game that was in front of him and change the shape of the team and the formation by his astute use of tactics.

OFB: Who is your favourite Boro player of all time?

JP: I don’t really have a favourite player of all time, but I admired David Armstrong who played some 300+ consecutive games for the Boro.

OFB: Who is your current favourite Boro player?

JP: Again I don’t have a favourite player. Let’s be honest it’s a team game and that’s why I’m not a fan of Traore! I would hate to have to play with him.

OFB: Do you still follow the Boro, their results and where do you live now?

JP: Yes of course I do, I will always follow the Boro, they are my team. I had over 13 years and played 481 games for them. As you know, I am here every match day acting as a M.F.C ambassador and host and it’s nice to catch up with old friends and make new ones. I still live locally in Ingleby Barwick and I love being here with my lovely wife and we also enjoy our holidays abroad and back in Ireland.

OFB: A huge thank you Jim for taking the time to talk to Diasboro and our readers.

142 thoughts on “In2views: Jim Platt

    1. I see both of them quite often after the games

      I wouldn’t like to have posted an interview with Ben after the Derby game as I’ve never seen him so angry and Werder would have had to use the blue pencil and delete delete delete

      I’ll have a word with the club and see if I can get permission to have an interview they are usually quite amenable but of course it’s the final decision of the manager
      (Whoever that may be at the time!)

      1. To some extent having interviews with current players would be slightly disappointing. I am sure they will tightly guarded and unable or unwilling to say what they really think on a public forum.

        Wouldn’t go down well with the boss if they said what they really thought, I’m guessing!

    1. Sorry Bob. I was busy researching for my blog on Boro’s post war history, so hadn’t seen your wonderful blog and interview with Jim Platt till later. You’re quite correct in your statistics that he did make 481 appearances which put him in 5th place though not surprising that goalkeepers occupy three of the top ten places (Tim Williamson 602, Stephen Pears 424 being the others).

      I agree he was unlucky that Pat Jennings was around at the same time, but I’m sure he is too much of a gentleman to curse his luck. Like Bernie Slaven and Craig Hignett he is an adopted Teesside “foreigner”.

  1. OFB

    A lovely and nostalgic article, thank you.

    Great to hear reminisces of former players, many of whom I watched.

    Very pleased to hear Jim is still in good health/spirits and clearly Boro through and through.

  2. Brilliant Keeper who as mentioned should have had 100 International Caps but for Pat Jennings who for me was the best Keeper in my lifetime, better than the likes of Banks, Shilton, Clemence, Buffon, Barthez and the grumpy vertically challenged one.

    What were the odds that Northern Ireland would produce two class Keepers in the same era? Bad timing for Jim unfortunately who I think has been Boro’s best Keeper, edging out Schwarzer and Pears.

    1. I remember many years ago landing at Heathrow after a long flight and it was early in the morning and I was still jet lagged.

      Went through baggage control then customs and to fight my way through to the other terminal to catch a fight when we used to be able to fly direct to Teesside (not DTV)

      Struggling across the passenger terminal I saw a tall athletic figure striding towards me who I knew.

      I put my bag down and said “morning how are you doing ?” The Guy gave me a huge smile and without breaking stride said

      “I’m great fella”

      He walked on by and I thought hard in my sleepy state where did I know him from, where had we worked together?

      Then the penny dropped it was Pat Jennings!

      Feeling rather foolish I picked up my bag and carried on to my onward flight


  3. Thanks OFB – a lovely read and I would have Big Jim in my all time Boro team!

    Good to see that still involved and interesting about Jack Charlton. We could do with him now and also some of that team!

    I often wonder what would happened if G Best had come to Boro………..

  4. Just read that we have now sent George Miller off to Wrexham on loan. Why would we buy a Striker from a League 1 Club then send him out to a side in the National League to “develop” him?

    Surely to develop the lad he should have gone out to another League 1 side (Scottish Premiership etc.) as an absolute minimum. The logic, rationale and competence at the club can be seriously staggering at times. No wonder the first 11 are in such dire straits!

    1. Madness I say! If he is not good enough for league 1, then why on earth buy him. There has been some very questionable deals going on, dare I mentions bungs?

    2. That’s forward thinking management. No policy, no idea and no creativity. Or am I being harsh? I don’t think so really, we’d struggle to unearth a ‘diamond’ if it was on the table in front of us.



      PS Lovely article OFB, happy days

  5. That was welcome uplifting piece from OFB and an interesting personal view of Jim Platt – plus a great idea to use his contacts to set up some interviews. I always remember as a young 16 year old standing in the Holgate as Jim Platt ran towards his goal and waved at me – it’s possible it could have been the to the guy next to me or even that big bloke a few rows behind – though now I think about it, maybe he wasn’t actually waving at me at all 🙂

    He was a great keeper and the measure to all those who have come after him. In those pre-Bosman days I think players of his generation tended to stick with the team and were happy to stay at one club – it’s probably why we identify ourselves more with the players of this era and earlier – none of this here today gone tomorrow can’t quite place him types.

    I also resisted the temptation to substitute OFB’s name after the opening phrase ‘Tall slim and always immaculate…’ But good to hear there are some ex-footballers who are keeping fit and trim – still hard to believe he’s now 65! Where have all those years gone following Boro…

    1. Agreed – no loyalty now mores the pity. To some extent the team and players we identify with most are linked to when as nippers we first were indoctrinated into “whose that team they call The Boro”. Same as our favourite decade of music tends to be when we first hot footed it down to (insert record shop of choice that no longer exists!) To buy that album by……..

      So for me that team of just before Big Jack is what i compare to. And some of the chants too _ o theres only one United and its a bus!

    1. Thanks

      I’ve already got John Hendrie and Alan Peacock lined up and there will be

      Interesting to see that the Gazette have jumped on the band wagon doing q&a with players!

      We thought of it first !


  6. Brilliant Bob!
    You have started something here, hope you can keep it up.
    Can we have this as a regular feature, possibly during the tedious international breaks. who’s next I wonder, Big Jack himself or TLF perhaps.
    How big is your contacts list Bob as I would expect demand to be greater than supply.
    personally I much prefer to hear from past players than the current players.
    it would be interesting to compare how the match day itself has changed, when does the team leave for away games, how do they get there, when do they get there, where do they stay, how many of them travel, when do they return. ect.
    Can you interview some of the Riverside/Rockliffe staff.
    This could become a full time job!

    1. Thanks for those thoughts l’ll add them into my interview questions

      Actually it was the Long international breaks that galvanised me into doing something as I was aware also that all the work was
      Falling on Werder with support from RR and Simon

      I’m meeting some ex players on Saturday and will be asking them for their views as well.


  7. What a lovely read, and a welcome bit of relief from the current malaise. What we wouldn’t do for some of those Jack Charlton era players and that team spirit now, not to mention Big Jack himself!

  8. Ian and all other cricket lovers.
    Another 5-0 whitewash looking imminent, but for Joe Root to say that he had no regrets in inserting Australia after winning the toss shows immaturity. A famous cricketer (can’t remember who) once said “If a captain wins the toss he should think seriously about whether to bat first or not, mull over the facts and if he comes to the conclusion that the cons outweigh the pros, still make a decision to bat first”.

    1. It either means that SG has told him to sort it out and he is still Manager of the club, its his mess. now fix it! Or the discussions with a new Manager haven’t been formally concluded yet.

      Nothing less than an impressive and convincing 3 points on Saturday will do for the fans, failure to achieve that perhaps eases SG’s concerns about claims for unfair dismissal. 24,000 calling for someone’s head can hardly be sen as unfair, or can it?

      1. Jarsue

        More of a Riverside Revolt!

        It will be interesting to see the team selection, I suspect the tried and tested (or should that be tired and tested?). With the stakes so high and the likely atmosphere resulting in MMP likely having a “volume white finger” claim come next Monday morning on SG’s desk GM has to go for it. Damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. As I have said before on here a Director I once worked for many years ago in my youth told my immediate Manager in response to a “situation”, “You don’t get yourself into that mess in the first place!”

        Stable door and all that comes to mind but it is hardly the ideal situation for any Manager. There again maybe it is exactly what is needed to give his head a shake and finally galvanise his tactics, formation, game plan and selections. Saturday is do or die, a disjointed back line that can’t defend, a pedestrian midfield passing sideways and backwards inviting pressure onto that back line and in doing so forcing Randolph into nervous hoofed clearances will silence the stadium to pin dropping levels. Thats before the groans, moans and frustrations at the abject negativity and predictability of it all grow from mumbles to full scale Teesside banter directed at the dug out. If it happened to Robbo and Mogga, Monk will not escape the vitriol of collective and desperate disappointment.

        An early Boro goal and pressure on the visitors with a dominant confident Boro display can change it all in an instant. Hope I’m wrong but I don’t think GM has it in him. In balance I didn’t see AK taking us to unbeaten Brighton and tonking them so you never know but safe to say I won’t be putting my house on a resounding Boro victory by three clear goals or more against Ipswich.

  9. The Boro website shows photos of the players “training hard”. So that’s okay then! I’d be more impressed if I saw videos of them practicing taking and defending corners, free kicks and throw ins, all weaknesses in my opinion.

  10. Ken

    I thought it might have been an interesting last day at Adelaide. I always wake at about three before dozing off again so switched on the TV just after play started to see us still needindg 172 to win and both Root and Wokes out without adding to their overnight scores.

    Went straight back to bed, got up just after seven to see highlights of the test!

    I am trying to think of another team in another sport who cringe and collapse under pressure. No clues, it will come to me.

    So Garry Monk has the vote of confidence, often that is the start of the end but in our case the board is democratic, one man, one vote.

    That one man gives his managers time so Monk is safe, for now. No improvement from the team and a massive reaction from the fans could change that.

    1. I suppose the fact that they felt the need to say it at all shows they recognise the scale of the problem and are aware of the feeling of many of the fans. Two thoughts come to mind.

      First, what does it say about the Board if they are still backing Monk after what they have seen this season? Or do some of them not come to watch?

      Second, I wonder how many managers have kept their jobs after the Board of the club they were at made a similar statement. Not many I suspect and so I agree with you Ian that it is probably the start of the end for Monk.

  11. I don’t think EFL clubs can sign players on loan any more outside the transfer windows. So National League is probably as high as Miller could go at this time. It still does seem a bit odd though, were they expecting him to break into the first team by now?

    1. You are right about the ending of loans for League clubs outside of the windows but the window opens again in just a few more weeks and surely it would make more sense for Boro to send him out to say a Blackburn or a Wigan (as examples) for the remainder of the season. Very strange one to me unless they plan to call him back in January and send him out to a higher placed club.

    1. Apparently we have only played two systems all season and I don’t believe that GM meant “pass back” and “pass sideways”.

      There again maybe he did?

  12. I usually wake up at 6am after 5 or 6 hours sleep and scan the Gazette website, but often get a feeling of deja vu. How many times do I need reminding that we have only taken 5 points from the top teams, or that we played probably our best football in the first half against Derby (that doesn’t sound all that great though as we failed to score), or that other managers have discovered our weaknesses (I wonder if Monk has discovered our opponents weaknesses also), or that we must beat Ipswich on Saturday and take at least 7 points from the next 3 matches, or that we are underachieving, or that SG is a patient chairman who is reluctant to sack managers prematurely, etc, etc, etc.

    I’ve said it before that the Gazette has too many football reporters chasing too little news, probably the main reason why MFC barred two of them. Then they all get together to mull over the latest performances, and ask each other’s opinions or what should Monk do instead of sending two reporters to Monk’s press conferences to ask him how he proposes to turn things around.

    AG’s suggestion that a 3-5-2 formation might be considered (I think it can be changed to 3-4-3 more easily during a match when necessary) is a good one. But why only ask Gazette readers to comment? That suggestion should be also put to the manager at his press conference. So stop this stupid feud, and get down there and question the manager’s tactics.

    1. I could be wrong but I get the distinct impression that questions from Journo’s like “The Season has not lived up to expectations despite being spoilt with the biggest spending power in the division and in the history of this club, you and your squad have woefully underachieved, why do you think that is and how are you going to turn it around?” would not be welcome.

      At the moment there appears to be a very soft stance taken by the Echo compared to the Gazette which confirms (in my mind anyway as it is only my opinion) the unspoken rules of the press conferences.

      1. RR – It does seem that journalists are invited to press conferences on the basis they behave and don’t ask difficult questions – they seem to be there to allow the manager to get his message across. It’s not uncommon in football for awkward journalists to be marginalised or excluded by some managers who like to bully the press.

        I think the BBC female journalist (Vicki Sparks) who was told after a press conference by David Moyes that she was ‘asking for a slap’ for pushing him on a particular issue perhaps gives the game away – though he was later fined £30,000 by the FA for the comment. The press conference is designed to be mutually beneficial and not there for journalists to give the manager a hard time.

        I stop watching the Boro press conferences this season – at least the 7-8 minutes posted on the MFC website – as nothing meaningful is ever said but you just get repeated soundbites of the manager sticking to his script. Karanka’s were interesting though, especially the last year or so, because they were always so excruciatingly badly performed and a car crash waiting to happen where AK tried to smile but you could tell underneath he was smouldering and trying not to lose his cool as he shoe-horned in his blame game pieces.

  13. Redcar Red

    The Gazette always professed to putting the hard questions to the club and its officials but couldn’t force them to answer.

    I cant recall any publication of such questions nor the responses but you would not expect them to write that they asked AK why we were so defensive and he told them to clear off!

  14. Some of us have been advocating a switch to 3/5/2 for quite some time and suddenly the EG has picked it up as their flavour of the month. Given the other cases of them ‘discovering’ diasboro ideas
    we should be getting a credit in their articles.

    Thanks OFB for the interview. To be fair to the EG, their interview with Alan Peacock was very good. He sounds like a really good bloke.

    The real coup would be an interview with Big Jack.


    1. Alan is a great guy amd when I talked to
      Him at the club he said let’s have a real good talk over a pint

      So Redcar Red and I are going to see him some time over Xmas and others are welcome to come along

      We will be
      Meeting at the Blackwell Ox at Carlton near Stokesley and after
      I’ve set a date I’ll let you know


  15. Jim is a lovely guy, and I have enjoyed his , and his wife’s, Sharon’company in the Fenton club.
    They make everyone so welcome, and we are fortunate to be in his company on a regular basis.

    1. And sharing company with you…

      🔴 It may not be a problem in this case but I’d prefer to keep to general forum etiquette of not divulging the name of part of the name of posters who choose to use an alias – Werdermouth

  16. Thanks for doing this Bob. Great interview with a fellow Boro and NI man! Like Terry Cochrane, Eric McMordie and, er, Jordan Jones…

    It got me wondering why, as Colin Young says, Charlton’s Champions – Boam, Hickton, Armstrong, Foggon, Mills, Souness, Maddren (RIP), Murdoch (RIP), Platt etc – are remembered with a fondness that even our Carling Cup winning heroes aren’t.

    It’s impossible for me, having not being born then, to answer that question, but my guess is that they were strong characters that we took to our hearts in a then unprecedented and since unsurpassed manner. A bit like Charlton’s Ireland, I suppose.

    I could write a lot about Big Jack, as you know, except many have done already. He was my first true footballing hero. Seeing him at the Riverside for that game against Brighton sent a tingle up my spine immediately.

    He was also renowned, of course, for storming out of press conferences when the hard questions came up – something Mr. Dunphy repeatedly emphasised, so we remembered it.

    When we were doing well under AK I was reassured more by his presence than anything. His celebrations, the way he looked the part, etc. His thick Spanish accent and his spoken English? Near unintelligible, if not downright dull.

    1. Si

      I’ve mentioned before that I met big jack on quite a few occasions and never had the temerity to call him Jack.

      It was always Mt Charlton and only my boss called him jack. I remember one day my office door burst open (no polite knock) and the big man stood in the doorway with a brace of dead pheasants.

      “Where’s Mack?” He asked swinging these birds from side to side.

      “Errr he’s out Mr Charlton amd not back until later good afternoon.”

      A grunt and “make sure he gets these” before dropping the birds on my desk and closing the door not too gently behind him.

      I didn’t Mind because I revered him and respected him for what he was doing for my beloved Boro


    2. Simon

      I think one of the reasons some of us remember Jack’ s side so fondly, is that after so many years of languishing in the second/third division and frequently promising to achieve promotion but failing to do so, Jack’s team finally did it.

      It was also the manner of the promotion, no “typical Boro” and playing with confidence, pace and a degree of swagger, they played many teams off the park both home and away. For the first time ever we were playing teams and expecting to win rather than hoping.

      They were, to my mind, the most complete side we have ever had and were great to watch both home and away.

      As a consequence of their promotion, many supporters were able for the first time to visit the clubs in the 1st division and for a short period we were able to hold our own against the big boys.

      A wonderful time to be a Boro supporter.

  17. Thanks Bob. A great idea and a very nice piece.

    What strikes me most about the discussions on a calamitous few weeks is the disparity between the criticisms being heaped upon Gary Monk, and the fact that many of the players most directly responsible for our plight on the field of play have escaped reasonably scot free.

    Downing was almost criminally negligent in giving the vital first goal away at Bristol. He may be on 30,40 or 50k a week but he can’t be expected to sprint back to cover the full back he is supposed to be marking. He starts off on the wrong side of his man, is 5 yards behind him when the lad begins his run, and is strolling back to the edge of the penalty area, 20 yards adrift when his man, on his own, heads it in.

    Sack Gary Monk

    Braithwaite contributes absolutely nothing at Bristol, and clearly isn’t remotely interested in any kind of physical battling for the team. This after chickening- out of a 50-50 ball when we are fighting for the equaliser at Leeds.

    Sack Gary Monk.

    Christie plays diabolically badly at Bristol, attempting to dribble out from defence with no cover behind him on numerous occasions, and leaving us continually exposed.

    Sack Gary Monk.

    Dani Ayala completely loses it against Derby, gives away a penalty, and then gets himself set off .

    Sack Gary Monk. He should’ve subbed him.

    Our goalie can’t kick a ball with his left foot, and gifts Derby a goal.

    Sack Gary Monk.

    Johnson can’t get the ball off the ground when taking corners.

    Sack Gary Monk.

    Downing let his team and his manager down very badly at Bristol. As with Ramirez at Stoke, I wouldn’t ever allow him to wear the Boro shirt again. In spite of a recent uplift in form, he has been a serial under-performer ever since we signed him. His lack of even a perfunctory attempt to cover for his team was completely unacceptable. Yet (in contrast to the treatment of the man who will be the main victim of his lack of professionalism) where is the public outcry? AV made Downing one of our top performers and gave him two stars. Monk,quite rightly, yanked him off.

    Ayala, of whose skills I am a great admirer, is another serial offender, a sick note, who has been the beneficiary of richly rewarded and extended periods of rest and recuperation for far too long now. His general attitude leaves a lot to be desired, as was demonstrated by his demeanour when he was finally sent off against Derby. It was everybody’s fault but his own. I once witnessed Ayala walking off the pitch at Blackpool without AK’s permission. That was two years ago. For much of last season AK said he didn’t know what was wrong with Ayala as the fitness staff were declaring him to be fit. He evidently is enjoying his family life, since his wife was quoted as saying how lovely it was to have Dani at home for last Christmas. My prediction was that Dani would get himself sent off at either Sheffield Wed or Milwall to ensure another festive period at home. He may still get that. I certainly wouldn’t pick him again. He’s another one who should be on his way come January.

    I, like many others, have been disappointed by what Monk has been able to achieve so far. It’s right that he should take his fair share of criticism. But I do think that he has become a scapegoat for failings that are far more widely distributed. The collective unwillingness of the team to, in the words of Gary Johnson, to “dog” and “rat” as Bristol did, to run, work and cover for each other isn’t all down to the manager. I disagree with the widely held view that we are a team which lacks an identity. Our identity has been clear from pre-season. We are a team of cruisers. A team made up of too many individuals who believe in their own price-tags. A team unwilling to match its opponents in terms of running and grafting. It’s an issue that the manager should,indeed, must address, as I’m sure he has. But it’s the players who have to carry it out. They are not doing so, and with good reason. They are playing well within their comfort zone. And being richly rewarded for it. I have no doubt that Monk wants us to get promoted. Who can be sure that most of the players do? Which of them could hackie it the Premier League? Which of them would survive the inevitable cull when the team gets strengthened after promotion?

    Gary Monk took over a deeply dysfunctional organisation only a few months ago, as we all know. This was a club deeply divided that was turning upon itself with the bitterest of criticism being directed at those who left the club after relegation. The club continues to be brittle, as its continuing and self-defeating feud with the Gazette testifies. At every level it continues to be a club which appears to be far from at ease with itself. The divisions within the dressing-room with players publicly criticising one another, with some attacking and other defending the manager do not appear to have gone away. One of my concerns with the current Monk Out mood is that it is seriously simplifies and misdiagnoses the club’s problems. You could change the boss, but the root problems would remain.

    In all of the discussions I have seen so far there has been no serious analysis of the key role of the club’s senior professionals in determining the mood, temper and motivation of the team. It’s not so much the manager who dictates what happens on a day-to- day basis in the dressing-room, it’s the players who have been there for years. They constitute the heart of the club, the ones who determine whether the mood is one of high commitment or cynical moaning. There is a tacit acknowledgment of this in the widespread understanding of Leadbitter’s role within the club. No one can doubt his commitment to the team and successive managers, and we are certainly a different team when he is playing. The same can be said of Ben Gibson. In spite of a drop off in form, Ben really shows that it hurts when the team doesn’t perform.

    I wouldn’t have the same degree of confidence in such long-standing parts of the furniture as Downing (openly critical of AK, and a public supporter of the Agnew,who is still on the club’s payroll) or Ayala. In the last two games both have graphically demonstrated to Monk, what we have all known for some time: that the manager trusts them at his own risk.

    I may be in a minority of one but I think that the club will be best served by Monk staying and rooting out all of those players- and there may be many of them- who at the moment seem to be far more committed to their own salaries and life-styles than in playing their hearts out for the club. Recruitment has been a long-standing source of problems at the club. Monk, again, has borne the brunt of most of the recent criticisms on this front. Justifiably so, perhaps. But how do we know precisely who was responsible for scouting out each player ? The lack of transparency in the club’s processes seems designed to protect the administration whilst leaving the manager as the convenient scapegoat. A state of affairs that has remained unchanged since Southgate’s tenure. What seems certain is that Gary Gill and his team of number crunchers will remain.

    Sack Gary Monk.

    I hope, that in responding to these few thoughts that the excellent people on this blog do not simply reiterate their criticisms of Monk. I know what they are. They’ve been repeated ad nauseam. I actually agree with many if not most of them. What I am calling for is some sense of proportion and some recognition of the size of the task the manager has had to face. There are players at the club who have successfully managed to confront and get rid of one manager, and who are playing as though they want to repeat the process. I hope that they don’t succeed. If they do then god help the next manager. And God help our club

    1. AS usual Len the voice of reason and sanity.

      It’s made me think about the other point of view and this post is a well reasoned argument

      The problem is that Whilst we are watching matches love we also having the ability to see the manager on the touch line so we can see the mistakes on the pitch bit also see him struggling to change the game. The obvious ones are not taking Ayala off after he was booked and still pulling and kicking everything that moved. The other obvious mistake in my opinion was making Traore play on the left wing where he was lost.

      So I agree with you that the players have to take responsibility but the manager needs to look at his performance as well.

      Sack the board !


    2. Len

      As usual a very thoughtful and well balanced argument but one that I only partially subscribe to, we can reflect on all our previous managers (and those of other clubs) with the same valid to a degree viewpoint. There was Robbo and the arrival of El Tel, there was Mogga and then along came AK who achieved promotion with a side largely consisting of Mogga’s freebies and cheapies. Same players by and large but transformed under a different manager at the same club. There is even Stan Anderson and Big Jack for comparison for those who can go back that far.

      Monk didn’t want Downing, fair enough but it also looked like he didn’t want Grant either. The club spent all summer lusting courting and drooling over Shotton so that presumably meant it was because Ayala wasn’t fancied and besides was dropped like a hot potato after his silly pass at Wolves if ever there was any doubt. Fry came in and done very well but was treated like a bad smell because of one error which led to a goal because the Midfielders didn’t track back and the rest of the defence were static. That resonates with the squad just as it has with the fans. Perhaps more so because there have been others far more woeful than Dael yet seemed untouchable until results meant GM couldn’t stick by them any longer. Those players who appear to have been singularly ostracised by the same manager but whose skins are probably not as thick as Grants’s and Stewy’s probably felt disillusioned and not exactly buoyant. The same in an ironic twist applies to Fletcher and Baker now that they find themselves out of favour.

      We were sliding down the League until Ayala came back to help steady the ship albeit against the lower table cannon fodder. Shotton hasn’t been seen since a poor solitary home debut. There have been more midfield pairings and combo’s than a steakhouse restaurant offers. Braithwaite was crocked came back, looked great now looks distinctly average. Ben Gibson was touted for England this time last year yet now is just as susceptible and culpable as any of Shotton, Fry or Ayala. His positional awareness and composure now long gone, dithering and looking a shadow of his former imperious majesty.

      Adama on his wrong side at Bristol was distinctly poor until he was switched to his natural right. The same Adama lost possession on the left and Fabio charged in like a headless chicken, broke rank in doing so and allowed himself to be rounded, dragging Ben across and Fry and Christie along with him meaning that the cross was met at the far side behind Christie were Stewy supposedly should have been aware (why not Howson or Forshaw who play nearer the defence?). The attacks were coming down our left side not our right side; the weakness was on our left which was compounded by Christie having probably his worst and least effective game for Boro over on the right, it wasn’t recognised or addressed in-game until too late (just like Ayala’s booking).

      Our top scorer Britt cleared one off his own goal line otherwise it would have been 3-1 to Bristol. I didn’t see any service to Britt at the opposite end and not for the first game. Where does all this sideways and backwards passing come from? Is it the players deliberately not following instruction all season and deliberately doing the exact opposite to those tactics coached and practised at Rockliffe all week? Were the farcical free kicks blatant?

      We can quite reasonably and rightfully hold players up as accountable for individual errors like Randolph’s sliced clearance against Derby but there are now far too many of them and repeatedly happening and not by just one bad egg or one or two who happen to be out of form. The entire 11 look lost at sea with absolutely no leadership or belief in what is being asked of them. We witnessed it before with Robbo and Venables (Sick note Boksic?). We witnessed AK take half a dozen games to turn things around and tighten up a side that leaked like a sieve in the last 5 minutes of every game. We saw at Leicester a Premiership winning squad who suddenly imploded yet changed when the assistant took the reins and who has now since gone the same way as his former boss.

      It is why clubs turn to the likes of Allardyce or Redknapp when facing hard times. Some managers can instil confidence, belief, organisation or maybe just plain authority when the going gets tough. Others like Gareth look lost and bereft of ideas. Staying with Gareth who knows who signed what players but that’s the hand that was dealt to him and that is what GM’s job description will have said when he signed it (and allegedly one of the main reasons why he wouldn’t sign one at Orta inspired Leeds).

      We know the club is very poor at some things, from kits to communication, to buying and indulging aged over the hill wasters like Parlour or Valdes (no lessons learnt clearly) or simply trying to control the media spin and hype by banning Journalists (or so it appears but that’s back to communication again). Without a doubt our benevolent Chairman and owner has his dabs over most of it (I won’t repeat what my tartan friend said again) which I suspect is why some of the Managers have lasted as long as they did. “MFC” has been debated on here as oppose to “Boro” many times and there appears a distinct difference in terms of emotional attachment (for some of us at least). There are eccentric and baffling decisions made way beyond our current manager as there are at many clubs even Chelsea and Man City with their “fluid” approach to managers or Watford come to that. We joked on here in the summer about “where’s Aggers”, (we possibly find the Guedioura story less funny), all of that is someone else’s mess and not Garry Monks but it’s just the typical football club background noise that exists in today’s game.

      What the manager’s responsibilities and sphere of influences are are the tactics, team selection and performances out on the pitch. We joke about the Barcodes and their chairman yet their manager in spite of the fairground in the background achieved promotion and looks like keeping them up despite not being given the funds requested. Maybe treat them mean keep them keen works in football? Wolves have had a summer of upheaval and the Blades have just come up from whence we loaned them Chapman. Warnock’s Cardiff have changed shirt colours and heaven knows what else behind their superstitious scenes yet (the coveted by many up here) Mrs Doubtfire’s doppelganger has taken an average looking upper mid table squad on paper to automatic promotion chasers.

      It appears to me that on the pitch this season to date our Players do not believe in what they are being told to do or if they do believe it they have neither the intelligence nor skills to execute the same. I suspect blame and counter blame is now starting to raise its ugly frustrated head. It was similarly clear last season when some on here were shot down for suggesting an unhappy dressing room when what eventually unfolded beggared belief even for those of us who suspected there was a whiff of bull in the air all along. The same mastermind who repaired Mogga’s leaks ended up with a bodged welding job which eventually fractured and split.

      The usual reason previously decent Players don’t perform is because they are disorganised or simply don’t respect or believe in the Manager. If that is now the situation that we find ourselves in then either we have assembled the wrong squad of players for the Manager or the wrong Manager for the squad of players. One is easy to change quickly the other will take two or three seasons and six windows at least (like as not with huge discounts) and back to where Strachan left us.

      The club structure is far from perfect and is not without its share of blame (huge dollops in fact) but it’s one mans, bat and ball and he can take it home any time he wants so that’s not an option. It wasn’t fair on Gareth a while back and then Strachan wasted what little was left; it wasn’t fair on Mogga when he laid down the foundations for AK after cutting tartan costs (ditto Gareth, dangerous pattern emerging?).

      Maybe it wasn’t fair on Monk making him the best resourced Manager in the Club’s history but that’s how it is in Football. You get a contract, 27 players (give or take a few) and you have to make the best out of a bad bunch even if they are arguably a very expensive talented bunch. That is why fans are calling for a Pulis or Pearson, its recognised that someone who manages the Club needs to make damn sure who is calling the shots and that they are the right shots.

      That is something that our Chairman it would appear on the surface at least hasn’t too comfortable with historically. Possibly the reason why we have seen so many up and coming young things, the latest of which is now about to join a long list of former casualties. If not it is why we will shortly end up looking down the table rather than up (dangerous pattern emerging?). It wasn’t all Gareth’s fault, nor was it all Mogga’s nor even AK’s after the January window farce but as Mogga used to say “it is what it is”. The buck always stops with the guy in the dug out, that role is to cope with all the above and despite it get on with it.

    3. Len

      Which players in particular got the last manager or the one before sacked? Any names with just a touch of ‘evidence’ would be helpful.

      At the start of the season most, & I include myself, were enthused by the clearout of players and the recruitment of others. I was concerned about GM’s previous, in that Leeds failed to win their last 7 games of last season, but I turned a blind eye as pretty much everyone was rooting for GM to be appointed.

      Now it appears you are suggesting that it is merely individual players who’s errors are to blame for our TEAM’S performamce and not a lack of management nous.

      We have a full squad to pick from. Picked and managed by one man paid for the job. ‘If the buck don’t stop with Monk, then who does it stop with, SG?’ No surely not!

      🔴 I suspect your opening line that I removed was meant in jest but in the interests of keeping the discussion on the subject let’s not go there – Werdermouth

    4. Len
      You only thought you were a minority of one but you’ve eloquently expressed what quite a few of us have thought for a while, i.e. the “problem” is still there and it’s too easy to suggest that another manager can just slot in and all will be fine.

      As I said a few posts back, Where do we go from here?

      1. HMV

        His Masters Voice

        That is why this blog is superior to anything out there

        The difference in views but stated eloquently and without rancour or rage

        All with one common goal to support our team in lean times and other


    5. At last someone else who noticed that the first goal and in my opinion the second as well, could have been prevented if Downing had bothered to track back to help his defender.

      It’s funny that people are talking about players not playing for the manager (echoes of AK) and the club still has Downing, Woodgate with Agnew lurking in the background, only saying like. On the MFC website Downing calls for a untitled front but if my memory serves me well, he made a similar statement during AK time, only later to state there was a split dressing room of which he was part of, it makes me wonder if he is trying to distance himself and say “look at me, I am one of the good guys as I am one of your own”.

      I congratulate lenmasterman for his excellent post above and you are not alone.

      Come on BORO.

  18. For one reason or another the team are swinging the lead and not pulling their weight so it has to be sack the manager.

    A good manager/leader would get the men pulling their weight or, if the men were incapable then a good manager would sack the men and use those who would pull their weight.

    If there were no men who despite pulling their weight could pull enough to competeat this level then a good manager would say so and sack those who didnt and recuit those who could.

    We have a large enough squad so it is not rocket science to play those who want to try and pick a system to suit so… sack the manager.

    If this was a military campaign the general would be given his pistol or his sword and told to swallow or fall on it depengin upon which war we were talking about.

    It has been evident since the opening game and we are well placed to be 13th to 17th by the end of the season so if that is not to our liking we have to have a new general. At least we do not look like going down, …….. at the moment.

    I liked Jim Platt by the way – I didnt know he was so young, that made me pull back when I hear he was only 65. I remember I used to stand in the South stand next to Willie Wigham and he was always praising Platty – at least Platty could catch a cross…

    Strange old world.

  19. I’ll add another great quote relevant to this discussion. From memory, so it may not be word for word, but the gist is there.

    “Would (Big Jack) survive today? No. Because players do not like being told the truth. You have to pussyfoot around them (now) and that was not Jack’s style. He believed that if there was something to be said, he said it, and he wasn’t bothered if you didn’t like what he was saying. Deal with it. You’re a man.”

    Imagine if he’d said what he said to Craig Johnston forty years ago today. The Big Bad Jack vs Poor Ickle Craig division may well spark up pretty fast. Even though Johnston admitted himself that, at the time, Jack was not wrong.

  20. Well don’t beat about the bush Len….. But I have to agree with most of what you had said.
    My view on SD is well know on here and he should never ever have been brought back, but too late now. However Len, Mr Monk is the MANAGER and as such I would have thought he had a bigger say in the signings than say a Coach. (Which is why he probably left Leeds, with Orta arriving).
    If we can see Braithwaite poncing about, why doesn´t he and do something about it, as with some of the other players who have not been putting a shift in.

    What I do not think we can argue about though is the tinkering with the systems and changing player selections, as though he is looking for the magic formula. Although Mr Monk says he basically has used the same system.

    I have said I am sitting on the fence, may be unfairly, but as I said before. show me the list of potential replacements. We still only have had Koeman and Pulis put forward in reality.

    As in the past nothing will change until SG is forced into a corner. He has made more bad decisions than good in the last ten years or so. Possibly a hard statement, but true in my opinion.

  21. I shall be talking to Ian Bailey on Saturday as well as John Hendrie for future posts and chats

    Also taking on board what some posters have said about hearing from others from the world of Football I shall be talking to Kay Murray who is the presenter of Real Madrid TV.

    Also to whet the appetite we have the “flying pig “himself lined up

    Yes the great Alan Foggon


  22. Likewise I’m a big detractor of Downing. What I can’t understand is how he went from persona non grata in Monk’s plans, to regular first team pick.

    There are no stats to justify this decision, this leads me to think there could be some meddling from above. I feel there is still a lingering smell from the Charlton debacle, and there is some cleansing that needs to be done at the club.

  23. I’d agree with you Len that ultimately it’s the quality, application and performance of the players that decides games – though selection and tactics is an important part too.

    The question I’ve asked myself and posed in the last week is whether in view of what has gone before in the last 20 games is Garry Monk the right man to be given another two transfer windows and the expected additional resources to be able to build a team capable of winning promotion either this season or the next?

    We don’t know if many of the players were his picks or whether they were ‘collective’ choices. What I’m not sure about is whether Garry Monk knows how to rebuild a team and fit them together in a structure that makes them either a team or at least the sum of their parts – if not more.

    Picking Adama to play on the left and Downing on the right as wrong-sided players was an odd choice against Bristol – neither have cut inside and scored goals and that left them trying to cross or make assists with their weaker foot. So was dropping a seemingly in form Bamford in favour of a struggling Fletcher. Dropping Fry for one error also seemed a little harsh given others had made just as big mistakes and seemed to escape censure. I also don’t know why he sanctioned the acquisition of so many attacking players without positions to play them in under his system. There are a lot of question marks so far this season and there has been no sign of moving forward.

    I think Garry Monk is a decent guy and I like him as a person and he seems much more rounded individual than Karanka – but he has almost appeared quite trial and error in his approach this season and maybe it’s a big ask for him to do the job that has little margin for for such error – i.e. the remit is to win promotion before the parachute money ends after next season and Boro need to start cutting their cloth to fit their lesser budget.

    I’d like to think he can turn it around but I haven’t really seen any signs yet.

    1. Werdermouth,

      The problem is that one man (apparently) is manipulating all of the pieces in the jigsaw and I just don’t think he has found the all important corner pieces yet. I know we don’t do corners unless it’s back to our keeper. Somewhere, someone needs to teach the team to relax and believe. Who’s job is that? Oh and play them in their best positions too. That would help.



    2. Excellent summing up of the situation Werder

      I think that this week it was touch and go which way the managerial post was going to go but but but

      When Saturday comes and it’s a defeat then the fans will make the decision….

      As you say Monk is genuinely a nice guy always ready to stop and chat and with a smile on his face. Perhaps this is the answer as AK always walked around with a scowl and got results! I wouldn’t have AK back in any circumstance but then it’s not my decision.

      I’ve also met SG on a number of occasions (not football related) and he is always quiet and thoughtful. Perhaps he needs to get tough with Monk and more importantly his CEO Bauser!

      Roll on Saturday


  24. Whilst there is something to admire about a chairman’s loyalty to his manager ,so they say.
    To me it’s a fallacy, if you change a manager every two and a half seasons,what you are saying is, it’s took me two and a half seasons to realise he’s failed.
    That to me is a weakness, it should not take that long, Considering today’s climate of the rich are getting richer by the day you might end up so far behind ,you could end up like Coventry,
    Steve Gibson should be very carefull, today is not five,ten even three years ago.the next TV contract will blow everyone away,and it could spell the end or make EPL irrelevant.
    Loyalty to mediocrity , not for me.

    1. Bayern Munich executive management would seem to agree with you, GT. I believe their NEW manager and the established players got a win last night against a lesser known team by the name of Paris St Germain or some fancy dans or other.

      God forbid a change in manager – it must be the players fault.

      🔴 Likewise that sign-off I removed is just trying to provoke an argument – we don’t need it and you know it will only cause problems so why bother adding it unless that is your intention? – Werdermouth

  25. I agree with some of Len’s arguments but I agree more with RR’s analysis.

    The problem is that it needs a very strong manager to fix the problems identified by Len by weeding out those that don’t want to give total commitment to the team, the manager, the club and the fans. It also needs someone with the necessary depth of experience to pick the right players for the team and to apply tactics that get results with the players selected in the first team.

    I don’t believe that Monk is strong enough or experienced enough to fulfill either of those essential requirements, Therefore I believe that Monk has to go and someone else be appointed as manager, someone both with the balls to sort out the recalcitrants and a track record of winning promotion from the Championship to the Premier League.

    1. I think it’s just speculation that there are players who don’t want to give total commitment to the team or manager – presumably the squad is big enough for those who don’t buy into what is being asked of them to be dropped. My feeling is that maybe some players are wondering what they have done wrong to be dropped and now believe the manager doesn’t fancy them (as they say in football circles). Playing badly and getting dropped is one thing but thinking you played OK and getting dropped is another.

      Also making changes as a manager and winning makes players accept unwanted decisions much easier – but losing after not getting picked may make some wonder why they are being left out. Success leads to success but failure leads to uncertainty and a loss of confidence. Sometimes managers fail because they fail to impress in the window of opportunity they have to stamp their authority on the team – if the gaffer doesn’t make it work then some may wonder if he can make it work. Karanka solved some major problems when he arrived and the players bought into his methods – Monk didn’t and now there is probably a lack of belief that promotion is now possible – which is what many of the players were sold when they signed up.

      For whatever reason sometimes a manager doesn’t work out and judging when that time has come is what makes it a tricky decision. A lot of things have to click for Monk very quickly to avoid him being told his time has come.

      1. Werder, you may be right but my comment about players lacking total commitment was based on what I have seen on the pitch, not speculation. If what some players have served up is total commitment then the words need to be redefined.

  26. Excellent piece Len
    I think what you are saying in a round about way, is there is a lack of discipline or proffessionalism or could it be a lack of talent within all aspects behind the scenes,or even worse , there are too many lazy people within the organisation.For too long and it’s been many seasons, we have spent a lot of money on players ,who in the end leave for nothing,too many players coming in having done well at their previous clubs ,and disappearing here.
    And that’s another question, if a players previous manager gets the best out of him,were he flogs him to us for a sizeable fee,gets here and becomes a flop, who’s. fault is it then?

  27. OFB
    The Fog
    Was my favourite player during Jack’s time, we signed him the season before, for £10.000 , he came in about a stone and a half over weight ,
    Really his career was done, but I think it was Stan who saw something in him, got him going and when he went on one of his runs anything could happen.
    Jack used him to his strenghs and he ended up top scorer

  28. some interesting comments.
    My view of the summer window was mixed.
    I was impressed by the prices received for most of the failures and the prompt way they were dispatched, only SD and AT remain that could have been considered for sale. Holding onto Ben seemed a good decision at the time.
    I was less impressed with the recruitment, not so much the “talent” that was being purchased but the prices being paid and the over indulgence on forwards when we had Bamford and Gestede, two proven champ players.
    I still cannot believe that we did not purchase or loan a creative player (unless Johnson was regarded as the new Glen Hoddle). I was clambering for Jota and although he is not ripping up trees at Brum we know he has quality.
    Our inability to see off lessor teams in pre-season did nothing to ease my fears and the season has progressed in much the same way.
    So is it the manager, the players or MFC staff?
    The playing pool as I see it is unbalanced but has talent beyond most of our rivals therefore ruling out talent/players as the culprit and also MFC who have succeeded in supplying them.
    It must be the managers inability to get them playing as a collective unit.after all, that is what he is paid for.

  29. if a manager instructs the team to do A,B and C, and they do X,Y and Z, also the managers fault.
    The term managers suggest that his job is to avoid/alter that situation.
    As for replacements, I know they are currently contracted but we could start with a shortlist of the managers who’s teams occupy the top 8 positions in the Championship.

  30. Excellent piece about Jim Platt, OFB.

    When I played with my team of 50 to 60 year olds against a Select Jim Platt team in 2015, we were just amateurs. Jim’s team consisted of Bernie Slaven and even some with over 300 Premier League games under their belt.

    Jim did not play in goal in our match until we were 10-0 down, then they still had seven players but we had 10 for the final 15 min. I was playing as a defender but was able to score and beat Jim. The highlight of my amateur career. Even I was unable to mark Bernie during the game!

    But it is unfair to start the interview with Jim with my goal. It was as said 10 vs. 7 at a time and we got beaten 12-3 in the end. But Jim is such a gentleman he most probably confirmed the goal if asked by you, OBF.

    Yes, gentleman in the first thing to bring in to my mind about Jim now. Having said that he still thinks he is the best keeper Boro ever had and I agree that ( but Schwartzer is close second).

    BTW. Isn’t he also the president of former players’ association at Boro nowadays?

    Anyway, good piece, OFB. Ian Bailey used to be my favourite player at the time he was playing. My first idol was Terry Cochrane but Ian came after him. I would like to know what he has done since retiring from football.

    Up the Boro!

    1. Thanks Jarkko I am talking to Ian on Saturday and we will find out

      I believe he went to Rotherham as a physio but no hard data until I speak with him

      Should be posted up next week


  31. I have been catcing up with the blog as been busy travelling and yesterday was the 100th anniversary of our republic (though we had an autonomy for the previous 103 years before that).

    I have met Len at a Derby vs. Boro match and also in a former players’ meeting where Jim invited me in 2015. Pity we did not know each other yet when Len worked in Finland. The Untypical Boro became later.

    So I have always valued his views highly. But the comment above by Len was one of the best ever. Thanks for sharing your opinion, Len.

    I was more dissappoited after the Bristol game than after loosing to Derby as I expected a reaction from the players. But that never came. So the comment from Len makes sence.

    What I have been thinking recently is Morinho at United. The first year at United was not all success for him. Rather it was just a bit more like survival and he has got the Red Devils playing only this season.

    What I try to say is that perhaps it takes more than a season to get a team playing like the new manager wants it to be played. Also in most of the cases the relagated teams have not gone straight up the following season.

    We needed the change of personnel but it just might take longer than we hoped. See Aston Villa as a referance, too. They invested a lot in summer 2016 after relegation but only survived last year. Now with the same manager as last year they are doing OK.

    I know Wolves are doing excellently with a new manager and changes in personnel, but they did not get relagated after last season. Don’t know but every club is different.

    We did consider a lot of things last last summer at Boro. I hope there were the right conclutions made. But who knows.

    Up the Boro!

  32. “we have assembled the wrong squad of players for the Manager or the wrong Manager for the squad of players. One is easy to change quickly the other will take two or three seasons and six windows at least (like as not with huge discounts) and back to where Strachan left us.”

    Well, we changed the manager in Summer 2017. And we started to change the squad the, too. So I suppose that squad project will be finished by about season 2019/2020. So we might need patience!

    The quote above was from RR. Up the Boro!

    1. The problem is that by 2019/20 there will have been another 3 sides come down each season from the Premiership (9 Ex prem sides) and all with Premiership Parachute payments to burn while ours will have been long spent and crowds down to 16,000 on a Saturday and 12,000 on a cold Tuesday at best. Then there is the wage bill which will have been a bigger burden each year, becoming more untenable as each season passes and by 2020 completely unsustainable. Will SG fancy ploughing £1m a month back into the Club again? That is the point I was making, in six transfer windows time the Marvin Johnson’s of the side will be the major star signing with Britt, Braithwaite and others long gone, all sold just to cover operational overheads.

      At present we cannot compete with a League 1 side on the up and a well funded Championship competitor this season so where will we be when say the likes of Palace, Brighton, West Ham, Swansea, Bournemouth, Stoke, West Brom, Huddersfield, Villa, Cardiff (just as random examples) bounce up and down and spend time back down in the Championship with a war chest of cash. Reality is that if we don’t do it soon we won’t for a very long time and will become another established Championship side which in reality is exactly what we are right now.

      1. RR

        Spot on and a major concern upon which I have commented previously when other contributors have suggested it may take 2/3 seasons to get back.

        If we don’t do it this year the chances of doing it reduce each year and the competition becomes tougher and tougher.

        SG is fully aware of this hence his pre season comments and support of a new manager. He is also fully aware that a return to the PL not only increases income from TV but also the advertising income increases significantly more than the Championship.

        With proper management the club becomes self financing in the PL which is not the case once you have been in the Championship for 2/3 seasons.

  33. As Jarkko, said we changed the manager in summer and we changed the squad as well. So did Wolves.

    Part of the problems are our own expectations but we can live with that. The difficulty is that we do not seem to be making progress and the team looks dysfunctional.

    Len is right to highlight individual mistakes but we can only look in and analyse what appears in front of us. We have been in a constant state of flux, the players have to take responsibility but when push comes to shove it must be difficult to be in the team then in the stand.

    You put your centre back in,
    Your centre back out:
    In, out, in, out.
    You shuffle all about.
    You do the Monky cokey,
    And you rotate around.
    That’s what it’s all about!

    Whoa, Monky Cokey, Cokey

    Throw in formation changes, odd selections and it gets messy.

    That doesn’t mean he will be sacked, it does mean he is the manager and the players don’t seem to be responding. If they we don’t start playing as a team then there are problems.

    As I don’t go to many matches I rely on the attendees to feedback the mood. It doesn’t sound too bright at the moment.

    Overseas fans see more live football so we get their feedback and that isn’t great to add to what I see, hear and read.

    A good run up to 2018 would do wonders but only winning games might quell the crowd. Monk will be given time. The question is will he turn it round? The signs are not good

    1. For me we were led to believe we would be less defensive and more attack minded “Pace and Power” were the words I seem to recall. How GM achieved that was up to him but bringing in a scoring midfielder, Howson seemed to make sense, a skilful tricky one in Baker, adding Forwards, lots of them to the squad seemed to follow the theme. Getting a good solid Goalkeeper and an established, attacking, International, overlapping RB ticked more boxes. The ageing Grant and Stewy discarded with new, younger and exciting players brought in all added up to us putting a good sized dent in the league at least.

      Had GM established a new formation, say 352 for arguments sake (as he did for 15 minutes at home to Preston) with Fry, Shotton and Gibson, then had Christie and Fabio on the touchlines with Braithwaite,Baker, Howson inside then Britt and say Bamford (or even Fletcher) up front, stuck to it determined that it would take a few games to bed in but that this was the new exciting Boro then fair enough. What we experienced though was unsettled selections, formations and tactics (made embarrassing or worse by saying we only used two formations) to the point that we totally lost the plot.

      In an effort to retrieve the uncertainty GM went back to AK’s book for big boy defending and reverted to the old guard and garnered fortunate results against the whipping boys. The defending was nowhere near as resolute or disciplined as AK unfortunately and the constant sideways and backwards passing piled pressure on us. Outlets were few and far between and the ability to pass it out and up the pitch was slow, easily read, cut out and put us straight back in trouble.

      What we now have is a squad of Players who know its a mess and who know it isn’t working and worst of all know that there is no structure, organisation and belief from the Manager himself. In other words the bloke in the dug out hasn’t a clue on his best formation, his best tactics let alone game plays, set pieces and all those other synergistic benefits that by December should now be instinctive and intuitive. The fans see exactly the same and now rumours abound from Elland Road that it was Clotet who was the technical brains behind the operation.

      Rudy is fit so now we can likely expect to see him playing in the Chris Woods style of lump it up to the big bloke and hope that we can win some knock downs. Formations and tactics, pace and power papers strewn all over the changing room floor as our weary players trudge out wondering who is supposed to be where and who is covering who and doing what.

      My opinion is that I have seen nothing since the summer to suggest that GM ever had a plan (even a bad one) and that we are getting anywhere remotely close to that plan. I see a bloke looking lost with a crumpled map (probably held upside down) in gale force wind and lashing rain trying to find his way off the mountain and all the St. Bernards in the world are not going to rescue this Monk.

  34. I have been dancing around the living room floor all yesterday evening and this morning, howling at the moon and worshipping the rising sun god this morning wearing only a loin cloth and some left over assorted Halloween decorations (for atmospheric reasons). In the middle of the floor are dog eared pictures of Portman Road, Kevin Beattie and Big Mick himself chanting “up the Boro” and “Tractor boys, your crops will wither on the vine.”

    I figure Garry Monk needs all the help he can get right now! Come Saturday those in Blue will all be comatose and dazed until 5.00pm and Boro run out 5-0 winners.

    1. RR,

      Perhaps the Boro management are doing the same thing, but your out-of-date Halloween decorations must be the clincher unleashing dark forces. It would explain quite a lot, and probably picking the team using the tea leaves method.



  35. Done what i hear you say?

    Welll i have also been praying to the gods and chanting. Havent got the vodoo doll out yet!

    Having caught up a bit, i can see where Len is coming from but also relate to RRs view that we havent got long to get back up, if that is what SG really wants.

    I guess time will tell but if it were me, then unless results improve before January, Mr Monk would be doing the Monky Cokey but only the out bit!

  36. Many thanks to everyone who took the time and trouble to comment on my earlier, all-too-lengthy piece.

    I particularly appreciated the constructive criticisms offered by those who have a different perspective from my own. The expression of dissent from others’ views which is both constructive and courteous is one of the hallmarks of this blog and one which is all too rare online. We have Bob, RR and Werder to thank for both upholding and acting as guardians of those standards, but plaudits are due to all contributors for observing and maintaining them. As a recent beneficiary of these qualities, I wanted to record my thanks to all concerned. My appreciation to those who offered supportive comments goes without saying . Many thanks.

    I won’t respond directly to the many points raised, since to do so would test the patience of many readers. I’m happy to leave all of the arguments as they are so that people can draw their own conclusions.

    1. Len

      There are merits in all the views and opinions on here and as in life there is never one simple answer especially as we all know the causations are many, varied and some complex.

      Saturday will be a defining moment in GM’s career. The best outcome is that his team put on a show and blow the opposition away, draw a line in this season’s sand and mount the challenge that they should be more than capable of. That way everyone wins and nobody loses (except Ipswich of course).

      Now where did I put that rubber heart, fake blood and plastic skull. It’ll be dark soon and can give the neighbours something to talk about (or more likely worry about if the loin cloth slips).

  37. A very thought provoking post Len.

    OFB, a great piece on Jim Platt, he used to live in Acklam when he was playing and I regularly saw him picking his kids up from Kader School. Never plucked up the courage to speak to him though!

    The memory that sticks in my mind of Jim is the day we beat Sheff Wed 8-0 and he was trying to persuade Big Jack to let him go and play up front!
    Jack was having none of it.

    1. Thanks for that

      I was there that day against Sheff Wed and I did consider putting it in the piece

      I think in modern day football he would have been allowed to take the penalty and make it a great occasion for the crowd

      As you say Jack was professional and wouldn’t even consider Jim scoring a goal

      I was with my father that day a Newcastle suporter who is drAgged along to the chicken run to watch what I thought was our best ever Boro side

      He criticised Souness all game (he scored a hat trick !) point made I think ..,


  38. Len

    Debate is always welcome, especially as we can do it without dragging knuckles. As in the past there is never a right answer and even with hindsight the arguments can be painted to suit your own version of events. That is the nature of our virtual local.

    I don’t think anyone wants Monk to fail, there is no percentage in being miserable on a Saturday afternoon, Mrs G can do that by taking me shopping and ‘saving’ money on items I didn’t know existed never mind needed!


    In days of yore footballers lived amongst ordinary people. The closest to me were the Downings across the road – dad and I took Derrick for a couple of halves and played dominoes in the Grenadier. Nobody bothered him, no social media or abuse, no stories about him falling down drunk, he was just allowed to live his life.

    Willie ‘cant stand crosses’ Whigham lived round the corner and gave us a lift a few times to the ground in his Ford Zephyr. First time I saw a car with what I thought were tinted windows, then I realised it was the woodbines.

    Eric McMordie across the back, smashing bloke. I remember his first international and the shirts hung on the washing line. No Cupressus × leylandii or wooden fences in those days, it was waist high concrete posts and wire fences.

    Nothing clever, that was the way it was, most people knew a footballer to say hello or nod to in passing.

    1. Now that brings back the memories! Different times as Simon Mayo says.

      I was at the Sheffield Wednesday game – special trip made up from the south by my Dad say we were there! Happy days indeed.

      I remember going to the ground that season at NewYear to pick up some tickets and getting Jacks autograph and some of the players too – as a 13 year old I was over the moon to meet your heros.

  39. Years ago, I was kept waiting for over an hour for a Dental appointment. Needless to say, I was cursing the patient responsible for this delay, only for said patient to finally appear, a certain Jm Platt!
    Suddenly, it was ok. Jim Platt has the same dentist as me. One of the heroes of the best team I have seen in my years following Boro. Now they really did “smash the league”.

  40. Absolutely Bob.
    BTW Bobby Murdoch was a regular at my local. Very down to earth. He, David Mills and Stuart Boam lived in the Cricket Lane area of Normanby. Worlds apart from our present day “galacticos”.

    1. I was talking to Bobby’s widow and two sons last month when they were at the Riverside as guests of the club

      She was very knowledgeable and loved the area and the lads were born and raised in the Boro

  41. Great 1-0 win for Redcar Athletic last night against Cup holders Whitby Town to reach the quarterfinals of the North Riding Senior Cup. We had a bit of luck and Whitby even missed a penalty, but well done lads. Last season Whitby beat Boro Reserves 4-3 in the semifinal and Pickering Town 3-1 in the final, so would be great to test ourselves against Boro or York City in the New Year.

      1. Quote from the man. Himself !

        I was born in Park Side hospital. I don’t have the accent because my dad was in the army and I grew up all over the shop.

  42. There’s a lot of people who have commented on the 73/74 team and someone asked why it has such a place in Boro folklore beyond the simple fact of winning the league and getting promotion. to find the real reason why that team resonates so much we have to look at Boro’s post-war history. For the whole baby boomer generation born after the second world war, their whole experience of the club from the early 50s was one of relegation and then second division mediocrity. Year after year, it was a succession of average teams and, to be honest, the only highlights was when a Boro player got an international call-up, usually for Wales or Northern ireland. I was born in 1953 just in time for them to be relegated from the first division. can remember Mel Nurse in the mid-60s and particularly Eric McMordie and waiting for someone to mention that they played for Middlesbrough.

    Things were a bit better after we managed to get back up from the Third division but it wasn’t exactly hitting the heights. Then the great season came along and for the first time in more than twenty years and our whole lifetime for a lot of us, Boro actually won game after game and were a dominant team. It was thrilling and it created an impression that never went away. I was living in London by then but I clearly remember going to Luton to see us win and then going to Fulham to see us destroy them with Souness dominating the game. That memory never fades and it gave every supporter something to believe in.

    So, for all of us older fans, great though the “Riverside revival” has been and very welcome, it will never displace the warm glow of that period when Middlesbro FC were finally a team to be reckoned with.


    1. it was my first full season of watching the Boro and I thought all seasons would be like that.
      It was great to go to games knowing there was a 90% chance of winning and that goals would be scored.
      Jack would come onto the pitch before kick off to collect the players tracksuit tops. I think it was his way of giving us the opportunity to sing his name.
      The team had pace in Spike and Millsy, steel in Souness, guile in Bobby Murdoch, goals in Hickton and Foggon and a solid back line including Maddren and Boam.
      I still fondly remember the celebrations in the street around town after promotion was won.
      That will stay with me forever.
      Jack never said he would “smash” the league, he just did it.

      1. I was at Uni in Leicester at the start of that season and was able to go to loads of away games in the Midlands, including the 5-1 loss at Forest, Bob should have asked Jim Platt about the red boots, and if my memory is correct two consecutive 4-0 away wins at West Brom and Fulham. Happy Days.

      1. I think people should like themselves more. Especially here in real North (Scandinavia) as well as the North East of England. If you like yourself, you can like and love others. And not only Boro.

        Life is good (even after two defeats). Up the Boro!

    2. Agree with that- mu Boro story started in 1967 as a 7 year old living in London and became used to Typical Boro.

      Apart from one year ( for which i seek forgiveness) when i was 9 and followed Man U, it has been all Boro despite only having lived there for the first 4 years of my life. Even then my Dad still took me to Boro games down south or to Ayresome Park when we visited relatives.

  43. 352
    Willie Wigham
    DerekWhyte BobbyBaxter Tony Mcandrew
    Gary Hamilton, Bobby Murdoch, Graeme Souness, Don Masson, Ian Gibson.
    Hughie Mclmoyle , John Hendrie.
    The all Scottish Boro team.
    Can anyone come up with a Welsh or Irish Boro team?
    I was surprised there wasn’t a larger selection to pick from,

  44. Today I am launching my own one man campaign against my beloved Boro playing “anti-football”.
    It shall be called the “i-wont-follow” campaign and involves not paying other clubs money to watch poor streams and witness poor displays by my beloved team.
    The campaign will last until my beloved team play three decent games of football in a row and a suitable system is developed. Of course I will have to take your lots word for it as I will not be seeing it myself. Don’t care who the manager is at the end of my campaign and I hope the campaign ends before the season does (or the decade).
    At the moment it is a one man campaign but feel free to join if you are angry at the current dross being served up by our beloved team.

  45. We haven’t seen Leads for a while now. Did he get injured in a match recently when he was substituted. He was on the bench in next but have now disappeared altogether.

    As some one said, no news at the Monk presser usually, especially not yesterday. Nobody even asked about injuries. Strange.

    Up the Boro!

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