It’s time for Boro to come out and play a winning game

Championship 2018-19: Week 20

Sat 15 Dec – 15:00: QPR v Boro

Werdermouth looks forward to seeing Boro stopping their top-six slide…

Life in the Premier League nursery, or the Championship as others prefer to call it, is starting to see a few supporters growing tired of the swings and roundabouts in the promotion playground. Many on Teesside have urged that manager Tony Pulis needs to show more adventure in order to be able to climb the table and put the club in the frame for an automatic slot – though it seems many hadn’t anticipated he was about to try out the slide instead. The highs and lows being experienced are starting to look like an unnecessary wobble, with many puzzled supporters still attempting to See what the manager Saw, as the weight of expectation shifts to and fro.

Pulis claims that Boro’s ups and downs in front of goal are mainly down to not being clinical enough and re-iterated last week “I’ve said before, we just need a little bit more quality at the top end of the pitch, so when we get those opportunities and chances, which we do create, we can put them away.” This is possibly an over-simplification of the problems facing Boro in their inability to trouble opposition keepers often enough.

Although even small children in the Family Enclosure at the Riverside can see that our ponderous midfield are perhaps culpable in not providing enough opportunities for the strikers. Even the junior branch of the Red Faction are now reluctant to sing that the wheels on the Boro bus go round and round out of fear that at some point they may also come off. Anticipating such a disaster is all part of their Teesside DNA but surely children should be protected from such vividly-imagined trauma.

Perhaps they could instead innocently remind the boss of what needs to change by singing him a little nursery rhyme as he wanders up and down in his technical area: See Saw why can’t we score, Since Tony has been our new master, The team won’t put their chances away, Unless we can move the ball faster. OK perhaps not the words he might remember from his formative old school days but at least he may be spared a rendition of ‘Three blind mice’ in relation to the shooting prowess of his often preferred midfield trio – while it’s probably not enough to just see how they run, the farmer’s wife may opt against using her club-shop Boro carving knife in case it also proves to be unhelpfully blunt.

Nevertheless, despite Boro’s failure to build on their untypical early-season start, it’s more than likely that Steve Gibson won’t be preparing to throw his toys out his retro Bulkhaul pram any time soon and contemplate whether it’s time to back a different horse on the managerial merry-go-round. After two points from the last three games was a lot less than many had hoped for, it’s probably only regarded as slump territory by those who are suffering from premature over-extrapolation.

Although in many ways the recent dip was largely self inflicted with Pulis opting for major personnel and tactical changes for the trip to Preston instead of building on the momentum of two straight wins either side of the international break. The moment a manager makes the call to rest key players and mix up the organisation on the pitch, he always risks a bit of a knock for taking his eye off the ball and thinking beyond the next game.

Boro went into the game against an in-form Villa somewhat on the back foot after that disjointed performance seeped into the subconscious of the group and meant they didn’t start like a team confident of rising to the challenge. In the end they were second best all over the pitch and uncharacteristic errors from Randolph left Boro deservedly well beaten.

However, the visit of Blackburn offered a chance to get a reaction but after a promising opening ten minutes, Rovers started to pass it around between the Boro lines, which then saw Besic’s untimely interest in the fabric of Bradley Dack’s shirt that consequently left the team a man and a goal down. From that point it was never going to be an easy task but at least the players regrouped and showed that they could raise the intensity of their game. Boro recovered and ultimately showed more application than they had in the previous two games to make and earn a point.

We’ve seen this failure to push on and build on previous wins before but it’s been normally ameliorated by the equal failure of our promotion rivals to capitalise on these stumbles. Unfortunately, leaders Norwich added back-to-back victories to their point at Hull to make it 8 wins from the last 9. Leeds have finally stopped staggering along the road to promotion, arm-in-arm with Boro as they both appeared still drunk on their August points binge and have now returned four consecutive wins since that start. It has left Tony Pulis and his squad suddenly out of the automatic promotion picture as they drop to sixth place and six points behind the top two.

The task ahead for the Boro manager is clear and it appears he’s decided to shuffle through his squad in the hope of finding a trump card that will do the trick in his quest for goals. The aborted recall of Ashley Fletcher, following the dismissal of Besic, is being pencilled in for another reboot this weekend. It seems Pulis is keen to give those on the fringes a chance to prove they still have a role to play – though they must first presumably impress enough to deserve an opportunity. Whether anyone will ultimately keep the shirt they are being temporarily being loaned is uncertain – despite two vital goals, Marcus Tavernier seems to have disappeared just as quickly as he surprisingly appeared.

What price that Britt Assombalonga will be tasked with repeating his wonder goal against Blackburn? Perhaps his subsequent fluffed lines will be held against him but surely the name of the game for strikers is confidence – another goal for Britt may restore his self-belief if not a large chunk of his value in the January window. Although in terms of making Boro a sustainable attacking force, we should perhaps remember what happened in the Premier League and simply ignore wonder goals as an anomaly with goal-of-the-season contenders by Stuani and Gaston Ramirez were the exception rather than the rule. You could argue that if you need an amazing strike to score then something is probably going wrong – though at the risk of being proved wrong, I’m prepared to suffer a few more strikes like the one witnessed against Blackburn.

So, after facing one of their favourite sons at the Riverside in Tony Mowbray, Boro head to Loftus Road on Saturday to be hosted by the man who led them to their first magnificent major trophy. Steve McClaren appears to be back on another roller-coaster ride after being installed as the Hoops manager in mid-May to replace Ian Holloway. The move to the capital made it his tenth managerial appointment since his first post as a number one was presented to him by Steve Gibson.

Although before McClaren could start planning his summer business, he was awaiting a decision on QPR’s appeal regarding the £42m fine imposed on the club for breaching Financial Fair Play rules in their promotion campaign in 2013-14. In the end, an agreement was reached in July where the club would pay £20m (£17m fine plus £3m legal costs) over a ten-year period and convert £22m owed in loans to the owners into equity. In addition, they also accepted a transfer ban for the January 2019 window. All of which means essentially just an annual £2m payment that is not included in overall permitted spending – hardly much of a handicap or deterrent for those looking at possibly emulating their over-indulgence in a bid for the top tier.

Nevertheless, McClaren was given no money to spend in the summer and instead brought in 8 players on free transfers and acquired 3 more on loan. QPR’s start was in stark contrast to that of Boro’s as our former manager presided over four straight defeats with an unlucky 13 goals conceded in the process – including that 7-1 thrashing at West Brom. The goals may have been raining down but Steve wasn’t contemplating reaching for his brolly just yet and his team recovered to what is regarded as promotion-winning form with 20 points from the next 30. Unfortunately, the recent form of the Hoops appears to have dipped again as despite scoring 10 in their last six games, they have only won once after conceding 12.

McClaren can perhaps at least console himself this week that his position as the country’s most notorious brolly brandisher since Mary Poppins was recruited by the Bulgarians to see off a dissident has finally been usurped by Theresa May. As the media desperately searched for a metaphor to demonstrate the deluge of criticism she was facing, the PM was snapped looking miserable whilst holding an umbrella in the pouring rain. If Mrs May had been a devoted football follower like her predecessor, she would have known that those in charge should never risk curse of been photographed under an umbrella.

However, this metaphor was soon superseded after Theresa May was filmed trapped in the back of her ministerial car as the driver struggled to unlock the door while Angela Merkel waited patiently on the red carpet to greet her in Berlin. The Guardian helpfully reminded us that Michael Gove had said in the referendum campaign that the UK remaining in the EU would be “like being held hostage in the back of a car” – as it seems is leaving the EU too.

Although, staying clear of football altogether is perhaps the best advice to the country’s leaders after a gammon-faced David Cameron scored a spectacular own-goal when his football fan fakery was exposed when he forgot which claret-shirted team he supported and became a Hammer instead of a Villain. Perhaps only Tony Blair gained political capital with regard to football with his unfeasibly long game of head tennis with Kevin Keegan, which became one of the most iconic political photo opportunities ever staged. The stunt enthralled the country so much that Blair was forced to produce a dodgy dossier and invade Iraq just to be viewed as a normal politician again.

Keegan of course had form on such matters, some may even unfortunately remember the bizarre photo-op when he was persuaded along with Emlyn Hughes to kiss the newly elected prime minister Margaret Thatcher on the steps of Downing Street ahead of the 1980 European Championships. As Mrs Thatcher stood there posing with the squad in a rather prim dress holding a football, Hughes apparently quipped “I bet you wish you could grab hold of Arthur Scargill’s balls like that” – in stark contrast to her look of bemusement, roars of laughter ensued from the players.

Though Keegan was seemingly quite fond of prime ministers as he also presented Thatcher’s less exciting grey successor John Major with a black and white Newcastle shirt to presumably compliment his monochrome manner. Perhaps if Theresa May intends to make one more desperate bid for popularity then it may be time for her to don the Gareth Southgate waistcoat of likability – though let’s hope we don’t eventually see Jacob Rees-Mogg being ushered into office by street urchins doffing their Tony Pulis style caps in deference.

230 thoughts on “It’s time for Boro to come out and play a winning game

  1. Well I don’t thing we’ll see swings and roundabouts on Saturday but if we lose there may be a few teapot lids flying around.

    I certainly don’t want a slide further down the table and I suppose there will be a see saw of positions in the league right to the end of the season

    Hopefully we’ll climb the pyramid and put ourselves in the frame for promotion

    Thanks Werder for another cracker I enjoyed it and I’m going for……….

    An OFB


  2. Thanks for a great read Werder.
    Since the end of August the championship table has been like a game of “snakes and ladders” for Boro.
    Is Gestede due another “operation” will TP continue his “trivial pursuit” of Adama, some supporters think he hasn’t got a “cluedo” and Boro’s season is about to go “kerplunk”
    So “frustration”

  3. At least Kevin Keegan and Emlyn Hughes were only reported to kiss Margaret Thatcher ‘on the steps of Downing Street’. Imagine if the report had been ‘on the lips’, it doesn’t bear thinking about!
    Meanwhile back to Boro’s propensity of shooting themselves in the foot, as opposed to shooting into the net. Maybe the recently published possession statistics don’t help our cause. Boro have the 5th worst possession rate of 45.9% in the Championship, whilst not unsurprisingly Leeds United have the best at 58.9%. It would be interesting to know the statistics split between home and away matches. 45.9% might be acceptable for away games, but for all matches it is quite unacceptable in my opinion. Does anyone really believe Boro is an attractive proposition for a striker or anyone else to join Boro in the January sales?

    1. Ken

      I seen a link for those Possession stats in the Hartlepool Mail but their site is nothing but an advertising hoarding. You spend minutes downloading garbage then having to scroll all over the page in trying to find the article which is extremely well hidden amongst a raft of moving ad’s just waiting for you to accidentally click on one as you try to access the actual article itself.

      It makes the Trinity Mirror sites user friendly by comparison. It blocks ad blocker so its a stand off which now means I don’t click on any Hartlepool Mail stories which is a shame as I used to rate and respect their journalistic content. I get that they have to pay for it all and that advertising is a major income source but there needs to be a balance as its skewed 95% advertising and if you can find it (good luck) 5% written content.

  4. Another good read Werder👍🏻. Pity you couldn’t get the Witches Hat from Albert Park in.


    I think you are right about us not being an attractive proposition at the minute but I’m sure that won’t bother too many footballing mercenaries as long as the price is right. Over payed, over priced, over hyped, then Come On Down!

  5. Great read again thanks Werder.

    It will be far from child’s play at Loftus Road, a ground where typical Boro often make an appearance!

    I am fearing the worst and will be listening to commentary in my Gatwick Hotel.

    Hoops 2 Band 0 🙁

  6. Another classic Werder smorgasbord,
    I guess it’s time to Lego of the idea we will be first past the post or second for that matter, so it’s back to the etcha sketch and start drawing new foundations not built in sand. And so let’s get our Pens out and put our noughts and crosses in the right box’s and not sink our selfs with ricochets off the others battleships.
    I am going with a OFB on sat.

  7. Why is everyone scared of loftus road.
    I think we have done the double over them in the last two seasons.
    They probably class us as a bogey team.
    Didn’t we win 5-1 there a few years ago.
    I am sure Ken will correct if I am wrong

    1. Its our Home games that give me the heebie-geebies not our Away ones.*

      nb. *Assuming of course that TP doesn’t have another Preston style “cunning plan”.

      I have this deep down concern that one of the Physio’s accidentally lets slip that Gestede’s good leg is making progress despite the other one still being in a splint. It reminds me of the one where it goes:

      “Don’t worry I have a cunning plan to solve the problem”.

      “Yes Baldrick, let us not forget that you tried to solve the problem of your mother’s low ceiling by cutting off her head”.

  8. I read yesterday about Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony singing the praises of Marcus Maddison. The lad is 25 years old, has tasted the delights of lower league football with Gateshead after being released as a kid from Newcastle so he must have a least a few stamps in his “Man” passport.

    At twenty five years and from Durham he could at least withstand the NE winters without resorting to gloves and mysterious calf/hamstring injuries or sending offs around Christmas/January time. He plays as a Winger or Attacking Midfielder and has even covered at Left Back. At Posh he gets a goal just over every four games (but I’m sure we could soon cut those antics out of him) the drawback is that he incredibly short at only 5ft 11″.

    To me he ticks a lot of the boxes that we currently need and is interchangeable so offers great cover from the bench if not selected. I’m sure he isn’t a Hugill style Boro supporter but if Grant worked out well then why can’t this lad?

    1. Thanks Len, it was a late finish last night with one eye on the prime minister’s no confidence vote in case I needed a quick edit to reflect events. It didn’t leave much time to put a suitable header graphic together so I’ve just swapped it for a new one after finding an amusing playground photo and a rather upset Tony Pulis.

  9. Thanks Werder. Read it first thing this morning but didn’t have the chance to comment till now. Another lovely piece of writing. Only just went to look at the revised graphic. Shame you couldn’t find a picture of a park with a sign saying “No ball games allowed” on which to paste the image of TP 😉

    1. Thanks Powmill – funnily enough a photo of a playground with ‘no ball games allowed’ is precisely what I looking for yesterday evening but it got to 11pm but hadn’t found something that would fit and as I need to get up at 6am I went for something a little more generic. Anyway, I stumbled across the ‘Fun Prohibited’ pic a little earlier and then highlighted the red tones, made it look a bit gothic in photoshop, before cutting out a rather upset Tony Pulis. It’s hard to let the graphic designer in me to let it lie 🙂

  10. Well it’s back to Loftus Road form me on Saturday, I was there last year when we won three nil with George scoring a cracking goal. I was also there when Strachan’s team won 5 – 1 in a game where we were never comfortable until the fifth goal went in.
    If we play two up top and have Wing or Tav or ideally both, if fit, we’ll win. If not it’ll be a very long cold grind.

    1. Reassuring to know that you felt that Boro were almost hanging on at 4-1 up – it’s the Boro way. Actually, I seem to recall under Steve McClaren that Boro were cruising 4-1 up at Norwich with about ten minutes to go and they scored twice in injury time to make it 4-4. Hopefully not an omen!

  11. Werder,

    Great intro and in the playground illustration I loved the absolutely Ladybird books typical parting in the boys hair. A world gone forever. Thank goodness, Sadly I remember it…

    For me it’s a typical Boro game tomorrow so I’ll go:

    Hoops 2 – 1 Hoop.

    Free-scoring Boro strike again. Sadly I think we’re on a downward slide but who doesn’t love to be proved wrong?

    Sorry I can’t even see a point in this one.



    1. Thanks John, the original header graphic was coincidentally the picture from a Gibson’s jigsaw puzzle – though it seemed over-priced and I suspect there may possibly have been quite a few pieces missing…

  12. Wonder which games our illustration scouting network have been at this week ,with Europeans games on all over the place?
    Probably , some reserve game ,or ismithian second division.

  13. Brilliant Werder, thank you.

    I was never a fan of the wally with the brolly when he was at Boro. Felt as though he was very arrogant. So ok he won a trophy but he had money behind him. His tactics in the Euro final were all wrong in my opinion.Even in the come back exciting games, I read an article from Mark Viduka that it was the players themselves rather than the brolly man who decided which way they would play . So on Saturday I would love Boro to give him and his team a good hiding.

  14. Thanks Braveheart – yes McClaren was not rated by many supporters but it was his first managerial post and he was learning on the job – still is by the looks of it. Though it does highlight that the quality and temperament of the players is probably more important than the manager – good players can usually rise to the challenge.

  15. Werder, thanks for another belter, and back to the “laugh out loud lines” Missed those in the last more stoic Headliner.

    Travelled back to the UK yesterday so not sure if I will get to see the match or just listen to it. Either way we need a more positive team selection from TP. A loss or even a draw will probably drop us out of the top six and continue on the slippery slope to going nowhere. Even January would be too late then.

    1. Thanks Pedro, the seriousness of the situation made my writing less stoic – as for team selection, it sounds like a few players have been down with ‘the flu’ or ‘head cold’ or probably just a common cold more likely – Wing is also struggling with hamstring. Pulis also claims Besic will be a big miss as he was “playing really well until he got sent off”.

    1. Thanks Ian, We’ve just got back from the school Christmas party and now Mrs Werder’s has headed off to her company Christmas party – being self-employed I shall be holding out until Christmas Eve at least!

      1. Well if that wasn’t tempting the fickle finger of fate I don’t what is.

        All complaints in writing when we get knocked out by Burton to:

        Mr Werdermouth
        C/O Diasboro

  16. Werdermouth, in the last 3 rounds Burton have knocked out Aston Villa, Burnley and Nottingham Forest, so I don’t think we should take them lightly.

    Come on BORO.

  17. Werdermouth – I had given up commenting (not that i did much, partly because I am not in the league of many excellent contributors on here, but because I have been at the end of my tether with this team for too long and am frankly too disheartened to bother)….but this preview piece is a(nother) superb piece of work, many thanks and very well done.
    Steve McLaren’s tenure at Boro was largely agonising – in four out of his five seasons we had a serious relegation scrap on our hands, including one year going ten consecutive away games without even scoring…and out of nowhere came Cardiff, that unbelievable, glorious run to UEFA Cup qualification, and the road to Eindhoven.
    Tomorrow I fear I will be back to my usual disheartened and increasingly disinterested self, but it is good to know that the quality of work on this blog is as high as ever.

    1. That’s a shame, James. I know I’ve disagreed with you in the past but you’ve always had something provocative and heartfelt to say.

      I would say, though, that we were only really in any kind of danger under McClaren twice.

      Firstly, when we looked like being dragged into the mire in early 2002 until a win over United in the cup triggered a good run in the league and cup.

      The story of 2001-02 was of two runs:
      W5 D4 L2
      W7 D5 L3
      Each sandwiched by runs of four defeats each. The season sadly fizzled out once we were out of the cup.

      In 2003 we already had eight wins by Christmas and the recovery was triggered around February – we took, I think, three points from our last fifteen but still finished 11th. Ditto 2003-04, a season we were never really in trouble.

      I think I didn’t really feel “trouble” again until the 0-4 reverse to Villa – which, like a similar reverse in 2000, triggered off a good run of form.

      Darkest before the dawn with Boro? ‘Tis always so.

    2. Many thanks and good to hear from you again – I think Boro, or Tony Pulis in particular, are reaching a crossroads in that those points banked in August have now been withdrawn and are spent. As the manager approaches his one-year anniversary, he will soon come under pressure from supporters if that rate of points returned since August continues and his team fall out of the top six.

      Whether he will bring in players in January to address the lack of goals is by no means certain or indeed the solution – but he can’t afford to slip off the pace or deliver too many lack-lustre performances at the Riverside if he is to retain the benefit of the doubt from those Boro followers who remain patient.

  18. I see that we are still obsessed with retreads when it comes to buying players, undoubtedly the world’s worst at sheer judgement of a player
    We gladly take his present club as a guarantee of his ability, their word as evidence of his fitness, and even of his age(quite an important indicator of sell on value) when one thinks that we got very lucky with Wing, and are adamant that he will not become a member of our team,( well, not in this existence) one sees that we have a major problem in recruitment, and it is pretty obvious that the job really should be in the charge of the Chairman. So important is it, that to leave it to a club servant it a clear failure of duty to the club and the team.
    We will never know how much graft and corruption went on in the past, and maybe still does, with such enormous sums at stake and a bit of a fiddle pretty easy to do.

    1. Is that “we” the club, the supporters or Diasboro posters in particular Plato? Personally doubt the club will be letting anyone in the media who they may or may not be after in January and as far as retreads go I’d have Traore back in a heart beat.

      1. FAA
        Traore was the favourite of the fans from the moment he arrived, it was the club, in the person of the manager, who had plenty of objections to him. And the club sold him a.s.a.p.
        We are now in the most bewildering tangle over two attack minded players, and yet again the manager has plenty of objections to them.
        Strangely enough he has no objection to Assambolonga, comes on as a sub and scores a worldie,( he also misses two absolute knock ins) but he is in today, in spite of the fact that he is worthless and one of the reasons that we cannot score goals.
        Someone commented that the points collected in the first five matches, before he dropped both the architects of those wins, were now fading away, hhhm!
        Without them we would be relegation candidates.
        Has he completed the conversion of Wing to a non attacker? It looks like it to me.
        I think it’s time he was at sandbanks now, more than time.
        Can we this time hire another continental manager, you know it makes sense.

        1. Plato

          I’m sick of Pulis now as well!

          I would suggest the best option is to go for Slavisa Jokanovic the ex Fulham Manager

          I believe Boro twice tried to get him and failed. Perhaps it would be third time lucky.

          Please not Martin O Neill and definitely not Curtis and Woody .

          If that happens I’ll stop going …….


    1. Ian
      I was not referring to stories told out of court, god forbid.
      We are talking full on, in court and in the papers (and how) shoe boxes full of used tenner’s under the bed, motorway service station pickups, or drop offs. The true horror of the stories was the brutal simplicity of the various scams. Manager says to chairman ” I think we should sign this centre half, and he will improve our team, player Is signed after money changes hands, manager gets kick back from seller, player proves to be a burned out case, and worthless.

  19. Bit tired right now but I will say that I definitely do remember the 5-1. Dave “allegedly TSF” Kitson getting on the scoresheet in what was something of a freak, Lita (2), O’Neil and Yeates scoring the others.

    False dawn. We were wiped out 3-0 by Blackpool (!!!), at home, within days.

    Our recent QPR (A) history reads…

    1-1*, 0-5**, 5-1, 0-3***, 0-2****, 3-2*****, 3-0******.

    *The only Chris Morris goal I remember.
    **Andy Dibble, a freak ten-minute spell before half-time… a comedy of errors. Crazily enough had we scored twice we would have topped the table.
    ***Barry Robson plays RB. We’re rubbish and Strachan is soon on his way out.
    ****Outclassed. The end was near for Mogga.
    *****That Leadbitter celebration…
    ******Adama’s first goal. Worth the wait.

      1. So was I Chris. It as a combined birthday/match weekend for one of the lads. Needless to say the night took a couple of hours to get going after the shambles that was the football.

  20. Simon
    Just to put the record straight, Chris Morris actually scored 4 times in his 99 appearances plus 7 as a substitute:-
    1992/93 Home Wimbledon 2-0 League
    1994/95 Away Ancona 1-3 Anglo-Italian Cup
    1995/96 Away QPR 1-1 League
    1995/96 Home West Ham 4-2 League
    Hope that helps to jog your memory.

  21. Why the despondency over Boro’s home form? Sheffield United have now only won one of their last five homes. I think away form might well determine which clubs attain automatic promotion this season and I see no reason why Boro won’t win their next two away games at QPR and Reading.

  22. Another cracker Weder, following Boro Is a a proper merry go round, trouble is you never know where it is going to stop and as for the swings, well………

    The blog is essential reading and I will pick up later tomorrow after the game from sunny Tenerife when hopefully we will be cock a hoop with a 2 1 victory against Schteve.

  23. Next season the season card holders become more important again in terms of income. If our Home hiatus continues then there could be trouble ahead and goodwill will be in very short supply. TP’s contract ends in the summer so is there the risk of us watching an ongoing malaise in the latter half of the season dropping away from the Play Offs as the current form tables would concur. My concern is have we already been witnessing the beginning of that decline?

    I read that TP believes our recruitment needs to focus more on young up and coming players with potential. I fully agree but then why in the meantime have we been spending some really serious money on bang average Championship players at ludicrous fees that nobody else is willing to even come close to matching? Was there a fight to land the signature of George Saville who I’m sure is a reasonable player at this level just nowhere remotely near 20% of the rumoured £7M fee? Is TP so totally disconnected from Bev, Bausor and Gill, don’t they recognise each other if they pass in the Rockliffe Car Park?

    Maybe TP has seen what the fans have been seeing for years now in terms of recruitment. Seemingly he is only coming out now and saying it but to take twelve months to see what was obvious to a blind man on a galloping horse is a worry and made all the worse by the intervening transfer window car crashes. Surely that had to be right up there in terms of a priority? Don’t get me wrong I agree with what he says (leaving the Villa games out of it) but I’m not seeing the evidence of it at all in fact the polar opposite. Meanwhile the old boys “comfort club” just keep taking the wages. Is there a glass ceiling culture at the club impossible to penetrate except for those with the key to the executive gold plated Loo?

    While TP conducts his root and branch review right now we are where we finished last Season. The abject lack of endeavour in those Villa Play Off games that he was “desperate to beat Aston Villa” in lingers long in the memory made even worse by the no show against them recently. I won’t revisit specific incidents in those games, there are too many like the ridiculous unfit Gestede substitution which ended Bamford’s Boro future and condemned us as a club to be stuck down here with the Parachute money all but flushed away.

    Saying the right thing is easy, Politicians make a career on the back of spin with no end product, Westminster is packed to the rafters with chinless wonders on both sides of the Parliament. I still believe TP is the right man for the job but have to admit that the results that I am seeing is disappointing and underwhelming. I’m hearing all the clichéd sound bites but they are now wearing depressingly and predictably thin.

    My confidence is considerably less than it was at the time of his appointment. I’m hearing all the right things but seeing too many wrong things. Like many others I just have to hope that I’m wrong but I see clubs like Sheffield United who have spent buttons on rejected or past it players from other clubs (including ourselves) at the same level of achievement. I wish I could make the excuse that I can see a Boro team forming and developing but the hard truth is I don’t. We look a collective mish mash of undistinguished overpaid, middling Championship footballers with a few gut busting local lads in a completely unbalanced squad. It’s undoubtedly changed from Monk’s time but is it an improvement from twelve months ago?

    Undeniably there are pieces missing from TP’s jigsaw. I think we all understand and factor in those mitigating circumstances but at some point the excuses have to stop and action needs to be taken both on the pitch and off it. There are now far too many not up to scratch and perseverance is not a good business model for success.

    1. Tony Pulis’s thoughts that Boro need to change their recruitment model to signing young up-and-coming players for a few hundred thousand didn’t sound like it was aligned to what he currently practices as a manager. He’s previously said that he prefers older players who can understand the complexities of tactical play and have experience.

      You won’t be getting much at those kind of prices he’s quoting as even young players with potential cost a few million these days. Also to turn young players with potential into something approaching the finished article they will need plenty of time on the pitch to learn and make mistakes.

      This again doesn’t sound like Tony Pulis is the kind of man who picks these kind of players for his team. Look at Tavernier – he got dropped after scoring a couple of goals – Fry also got dropped after a mistake and Wing has been kept on the fringes despite showing he is that kind of young player with potential.

      I’m a bit confused by this latest pronouncement – I’m not sure if this is aimed at the supporters or the recruitment team or possibly potential sellers who are contemplating hiking prices. I’m not expecting Boro simply to go out and buy projects in January as it will make little difference to the current team and their failings. Hopefully it’s not a declaration of promotion becoming a more long-term objective as he begins to realise his players are maybe going to fall short this term.

        1. I wouldn’t think so, I’ll have a look shortly before kick-off but I’ll be using the stream from MFC, which is the QPR iFollow one for overseas supporters. The unofficial ones don’t appear until kick-off – but usually they only exist if the game is being televised live.

  24. Redcar Red, I just wonder if TP arrived sacked all the recruitment team within a couple of months and then it became even worse, would you have said he acted in haste without due diligence !

    He has been here nearly 12 months and apart from examining all (not just recruitment) aspects of the club, as requested by SG, he has the little task of being the team manager. The other side to look at is there are individuals in post and perhaps not all are incompetent, so it takes time to identify the culprits, also to “sack” somebody under contract is not as simple and straight forward.

    I have been in places where a “new broom” has taken over and, from experience, those who arrive and sweep clean quickly usually end in disaster. I read/hear calls to sack the recruitment team now, sure Monday morning give them all a large payoff and Monday afternoon go down the job centre, where I am sure there is plenty of scouts/recruitment unemployed personnel just aching to start at MFC.

    RR, this post is not directed at you individually, I started with your name as I was replying to your post, but I have read over the past few months/years about the recruitment side and now we have a very experienced manager looking at it and has come out and said what we all thought. TP has said it won’t change overnight but change is already in progress, time will tell on who stays and who doesn’t, I suspect we won’t know how many “scouts” retain their position only if there is major “head rolling”. He has said that it could be 5/6 years to see the improvement in the process/policy which to me is a realistic expectation as I think you pointed out Vardy’s don’t come along every day. I personally believe TP has the future of MFC at heart, even if he knows he won’t be here in the long term to benefit from the changes, whether by losing his job or retirement, which is the same as you and I.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Chris, pedestrian to me has a definition of people moving forward at a given rate, that midfield defies all definitions of pedestrian. This bloke has more faces than the town hall clock in what he says, what he means and what he does, he couldn’t lie straight in bed!

      I give in with the joker, five years to put something straight, especially recruitment, I’ve seen glaciers move faster.

      1. All we are saying is give youth a chance.

        Para-phrasing obviously but no change in approach then. Must check out who the substitutes are.



        PS We’ve just put the tree up in the hall with lights on and glowing, decorations tomorrow, but the glass of champagne to help the job along has worked wonders with helping my attitude to the usual suspects that have been selected. Relaxed is the word. Perhaps MFC should send everyone on DiasBoro a bottle to help us cope?

        About as much chance as playing the youth?

      2. PPP
        It does make you laugh when a manager says it will take a long time to improve the recruitment record.
        I would think that just stopping doing what you are doing would be an excellent way forward.
        You should not be trying to find a way forward.
        There is a correct way to recruit, start by putting down in writing a list of rules which are going to bind you very strictly.
        Try the following.
        1 we will never sign a player over 25
        2 we will never sign a player who has a history of injuries.
        3 we will never sign a player from one of the giants (their judgement is excellent)
        4 we will trawl through the lower leagues for any player who is ready for a bigger challenge.
        5 we will never again engage in any transfer which involves waiting until the afternoon of the last day of the window, that simply means that you have been the victim of a scam of some sort ( most probably keeping you out of the market )
        6 nothing beats actually watching your target in peace from the terraces, both home and away, but especially away. ( many times)
        7 And please, could you at least act as though you are part of the football world, when you want to buy a player from a club equal or lower that yourself in the league system at least act as though you are the one with the money, state your conditions and at least clear it with your target in advance, even if it is in code.

  25. RR
    Re your comments regarding next year’s income it’s already diminishing as my brother has had enough and will not be renewing his season ticket given what has been served up this season and he won’t be alone!

    Unfortunately I predicted that if we did not secure promotion immediately after our relegation season then the likelihood would be that we would end up in the Championship for many a season and it looks as if that is what is happening.

    Yet again we are struggling to make any impact against an average side who could be 3-0 up before half time and before we have troubled their keeper!

    1. Likewise KP, I will seriously be thinking whether to renew my ST, especially as I only see about 10/12 matches at the Riverside. Then there are my video subscriptions and all of a sudden it all mounts up.

      Redcar, I am sorry but I do not think Mr Pulis is the right man. He wasn’t and has not moved us forward after Gary Monk, who you could argue is doing a better job at Birmingham, as is Wilder at Sheff Utd.

      He has overseen, and remember Mr Gibson had to twist his arm to come, some very, very poor buys on an economical basis. Who really sanctioned Saville, a future Boro captain??

      We really look to be going nowhere, only down a slippery slope and eventually his departure at the season end.

      Then it is all start again next Season.

      1. Not sure there would be many top quality managers interested in coming to manage a very average yet expensive team full of journeymen when the money to improve it that was available over the last two seasons is no more.

  26. Plato, I just love your explosive, and very much heart felt posts, like me you speak from the heart on your sleeve. How anyone can come across and say that to reform the recruitment team will take at least (at least!) five years, has zero business know how. In five years we could have yet another global melt down, Brexit might just go smoothly and Gestede just might have found the back of the net, hopefully for another team and not against the Boro.

    G. Gill should be shown the door with immediate effect, all contracts can be terminated or negotiated to effect both party’s satisfaction, but to think that G. Gill could secure a similar position with another club, any club come to that, really does beggar belief. As for Mr. Smiley face, if I was trying to get a bargain off E-Bay, Gumtree, that Facebook thing (take your pick) and I turned up at his door, I’d run a mile. However, if the same muppet turned up at my door, well, let’s take a walk in to the garage/shed/spare room and see what you might be interested in along with the one legged midfielder you’ve already committed to taking off my hands at a cost to SG for millions, easy peasy.

  27. missed the first seven or eight minutes because of the stream. Then had an intermittent service until 35 minutes in at which point the stream died. It beggars belief that they can’t run something better than this. The football? It was awful from both sides.

    1. Stream has been 100% for me so it may be general internet issues – though I’ve just upgraded my connection on Thursday to a super-fast one after our internet provider offered a 12 month deal that was actually cheaper than what we pay for bog standard!

    2. Selwyn,

      If we, a small band of people can run a blog as good as anything I’ve ever seen on the ether, with nothing more than the will of the people that want it to happen, admittedly with the aid of a conductor that can’t seem to put his baton down, some fat bloke at the ground that talks to ex-Boro blokes and another bloke who thinks nothing more than freezing his nads off to bring us all the best Boro match report going, then wouldn’t you think that a multi-millionaire concern like the Boro could get a simple video link right? Well, we are talking the Boro here and thankfully, both they and the EG have no say in our pub, you’re barred!

      Sometimes I despair, but at the end of the day it’s my team, and I care, I really do care.

  28. Just got back in time for kick-off after some garden tidying – not the start I was hoping for and they appeared to catch us somewhat sleeping. The game has been a bit like a cup tie and has been played at a hectic pace but it has so far been all heat and no light. Boro look energetic enough but its been all too frenetic with very little poise or quality – especially with the deliveries. Too many sand-wedge style floated balls up towards the forwards for my liking and have made it easy for QPR to defend. They have looked least comfortable when we have run at them and it may be that Tavernier and Wing could get some joy if they make it off the bench.

  29. Just looking at the HT match stats – Boro had more possession than the opposition for a change with 54% with only three goal attempts but none on target. QPR had 8 shots but just the one on target that earned them a goal.

  30. Since Boro conceded the second goal I cannot remember one attempt at their goal. Says it all really. If we cannot beat Preston , Blackburn or QPR we won’t even make the playoffs.
    Every ball that was pumped towards the QPR box ( and yes it was hoofball today) was met by a QOR player unchallenged.
    This team is going backwards.

  31. Well it was a fairly full-on end-to-end game and the pace never relented from start to finish – but it was low on quality and poise. All the shots on target brought goals – sadly QPR had two shots on target, Boro had just one. Far too many floated balls forward that didn’t trouble their defence – I thought when Tavernier and Wing came on Boro would try to play football but it kept being punted forward by our defence and midfield.

    With Leeds winning and Norwich playing this evening, the automatic spots could be out of reach – it will be even worse if Forest beat Derby tomorrow and knock us out of the top six. Incidentally if we lose our next game at Reading, Tony Pulis will have just one point more than Garry Monk did when he was sacked after 23 games. Back to square one?

  32. Most supporters can accept defeat if the team are unlucky if eg creating chances, hitting the woodwork, opposing goalkeeper making good saves etc but today I think it was only one shot on target with an unbalanced ineffective team with an out and out centre forward playing on the wing.
    Today’s opponents are the matches which need winning to be serious challengers for promotion.
    It makes next weeks game a must win.

    The chances of getting ready made improvements in January is a lottery and will players who are available chose Boro ahead of other teams in the top 6 ?

    Listening to Pulis he sounded really disappointed and spent most time blaming the referee and his assistants.

    1. I think the players today confused intensity with playing too hastily – there was very little controlled or measured passing and nearly all of the long balls were not very well delivered either – did we ever win a second ball?

  33. Without wanting to rub it in as I know how cold it is back home but just come in from the sun to get WiFi access in hotel room.

    O dear o dear, the wheels on the bus have stopped going round and from the stats and eagerly comments, we seem unable to play attacking football, create chances and TP blaming everyone apart from maybe himself for selection.

    Whilst we are still in with a play off chance, I suspect this is temporary unless our form can improve and quickly.

    O well, the bar is calling so I will go and drown my sorrows!

  34. Werder, I think it’s more like back to minus one. Old Billy is right when he says this team is going backwards and Pulis is responsible despite trying to put the blame on everyone and anything else.

  35. There’s always next season isn’t there? Are Boro safe from relegation yet?

    Ok, well maybe not with this set of tactics and tactical nous. Whatever they are/is. Football or hoofball?

    Depressing with the talent we have.

    Forget it, we haven’t a clue.

    UTB, probably not in my lifetime.


    1. Bit early for that view isn’t it John!!?!

      Actually probably not but for us hardened supporters, we have seen it all although this season does seem particularly poor despite all the promise. And we are still sixth so no need for despair yet!

  36. I’ve seen enough of what Pulis can deliver to be sure now that he is going to take the club nowhere except backwards.

    Despite the huge amounts of money spent on players on his watch he doesn’t seem to know what his best eleven is, he consistently tinkers with the line-up and often selects players out of their normal position, his default style of play is hoof it and hope and I’m not convinced the players buy in to his approach and tactics.

    In a team lacking pace and creativity, why on earth would you leave the only two players he has with these qualities out of the starting eleven most weeks? The only way out of the Championship is to win matches and it has been obvious all season that we are more likely to win with Wing and Tavernier in the team, yet Pulis consistently reverts to the journeymen who just don’t have the necessary. Why?

    It is coming to the point where Steve Gibson will have a decision to make. Does he stick with Pulis, run the increasing risk that the club will be in the Championship again next season without parachute money, accept that he will have to slash costs and hope that Pulis stays for another Championship campaign without any money to spend and under instructions to ship out expensive players?

    Or does he decide on a last throw of the dice in a desperate attempt to get into the Premier League this season by firing Pulis and appointing another manager who he believes can do much, much better with the players and the time available?

    In any case, if results don’t improve and if the poor football being served up continues the reactions of the fans will probably make it easy for SG to choose.

    1. Werder,

      Plenty of positives?

      Reminds me of our son in his early to mid-teens when his answer, if it wasn’t a grunt, would have been. Whatever? And?

      Worrying days for a season that had, apparently, so much promise. Super fit, run anyone off the park. Well we would as long as a ball wasn’t involved.



  37. Arrived in Gatwick this afternoon so listened to the match which sounded to me as depressing as the weather.

    Not sure if I can face watching it tomorrow on the plane to Singapore as it will just spoil the day/experience.

    As one of those supporters who was pleased with TP’s appointment initially, I came to the conclusion by the end of last season that he did not have the answer to our long identified problems (a team lacking creativity, pace and intensity coupled with a genuine goal scoring forward) and nothing has changed this season.

    The early season promise had drained away as the week’s have passed and his overly defensive approach coupled with
    frequent changes of formations and playing square pegs in round holes (today Assombalonga a right footed centre forward wide left and a left footed player on the right) has resulted in a team which is drifting toward mid table mediocrity.

    If next week we are, as Werder has posted, only one point better off than the same time as last season, then where do we go from there?

    It saddens me to say that I expect by the time I get back to Spain in late January our season will almost be over and would not be surprised to find us dumped out of the FA cup by Peterborough!

    I apologise for my depressing assessment but I am finding it difficult to find any positives in this sorry mess.

    Just feeling so gutted and frustrated that MFC cannot get it right for a change and that typical boro remains alive and ever present.

  38. A brutally honest report RR. I don’t know how you manage to keep writing them with so little in the way of positives to report on.

    Strictly Come Dancing is beginning to look attractive in comparison to what TP and his team are serving up ……. or perhaps not!

  39. RR, perfect summary of another poor. It’s amazing that over 2,000 Boro fans made the trip and their demonstration of loyalty and commitment deserves better.

  40. In an effort to try and look analytically rather than emotionally on a day like today I looked at the following (and wished I hadn’t).

    Overall form table for Boro:

    Last ten games: 13th position
    Last eight games: 14th position
    Last six games: 15th position
    Last four games: 22nd position

    It appears our slide is gathering momentum and we are going from a slide to freefall. Right now there is probably a greater threat of us scrapping against relegation come May than promotion chasing if the current “momentum” continues.

    Our Home Form is alarming and in no way even remotely acceptable for a side looking for promotion:

    Last ten Home games: 14th position
    Last eight Home games: 19th position
    Last six Home games: 19th position
    Last four Home games: 17th position

    Our Away Form is the best of a bad lot but even then it is perhaps scraping the play offs at best:

    Last ten Away games: 5th position
    Last eight Away games: 7th position
    Last six Away games: 5th position
    Last four Away games: 13th position

    By this stage of a season a team should be gelling, settled into a preferred formation and methodology, one were synergy starts to bring rewards as intuitive understanding grows and with it unbreakable confidence.

    Have we progressed since this time last year or is it just more of the same proverbial but different day or “SSDD” as someone text me at full time!

  41. RR, another it is what it is reports just wish it was not so, why Pulis can’t see what the most of the fans see on the pitch God only knows If we have to get beat with his players of choice who in general are too set in their ways to change now, why can’t we play with the kids who will be able to change their game plan with the encouragement from the sidelines/senior players without scrambling their minds? At least we fans will see some encouraging signs of improvement and not some more of the despairing rubbish we will, in all honesty, see till the end of the season.

  42. I’m now sat on the train home after a very pleasant evening in which my brothers and I were served up a very tasty meal which was far more satisfyingly my than the gruel of a match we had to suffer.
    I haven’t read any of the post match posts or RR’s account yet, I’ll go back and read them after sharing my thoughts with you.

    The conditions were awful, a constant downfall on a cold day.
    Both teams were poor and neither looking promotion candidates, with QPR winning by virtue of being less poor than us. Schteve has them organised, with a beast of a centre half and a number 10 who was quick, skilful and linked the midfield and attack.
    We had two number nines on the pitch with Hugill isolated and Britt on the left wing playing as a false XXL..
    The midfield was every bit as pedestrian as I suspected it would be, Shotton who I generally like had an absolute mare, and Friend was OK going forward and weak defensively. In the first half he engineered our best moment, breaking from our own box down the right wing only to see overhit his shot.
    Clayts was strong, Howson deceived with a couple of nice touches and Saville was anonymous until his goal which was expertly taken. A bright spot in an otherwise dark and damp afternoon.
    I can’t remember a single cross which beat the first man or an occasion when we won the second ball.
    It was a scrappy game full of labour but little craft and certainly no flair.
    Tav and Wing came on to little effect and Fletcher gamely ran around when the game had gone.
    This is a team without identity and playing like strangers.
    I’m not sure what TP was trying to accomplish., but he was insistent Britt hug the left touchline.
    We got what we deserved and had QPR been a decent team they may have had a hatful. The fans interest fizzled out with their second goal, and our season along with it.

    1. Good assessment Chris and particular liked the line about Britt playing as a ‘false XXL’ – I agree with your observation that I also didn’t recall seeing Boro win a single second ball, which was presumably the point of playing all those long balls. You could say that failing to win the second ball essentially means the long balls were just returning possession to the opposition. A tactical masterclass it was not!

  43. Good report RR. More later when I get the chance.

    For now.

    I now strongly sense managers want to stick to their ways because they don’t want to be embarrassed. A change to tactics which fans and pundits advise might work, not necessarily predict *will* work, and instead of being applauded the manager will be shown up for having got it all wrong in the past, or be showered with complaints about “taking too long to see the obvious”.

    He’ll not want to be seen a moaner but he will certainly feel hard done by. In the same way players long for creative freedom and fans certainly don’t like being told what to do (Mourinho, Klopp and AK are all guilty here, among others), managers don’t like being told what they should do. Hurts pride in what is an exceptionally ego-driven culture in media and social media.

    They’ve no choice but to deal with it. And I’ll give Pulis this – he hasn’t succumbed to the pressure of the novice and either melted down or publicly criticised those closely associated with the club.

    Not yet anyway.

    Remember Southgate saying in August 2009, “I’ve lost (key players) and it doesn’t look as if I’ll have money to spend.” Truthful or not you can imagine how Gibbo must have felt hearing that.

    Two months later the Gate was closed.

    1. Simon
      He had the greatest stroke of luck i’ve seen in a while, to start with the wrong team and formation, get an injury, bring on players you do not rate and go on a run to the top of the league, was great, but I know of no manager who would have done anything to interrupt things, or for that matter any player. It is simply not done in any sport, to stop a run is the kiss of death. He did it, and he did it to please some bog standard middling players, who cannot have expected to force their way into any team on a winning run, they just were not good enough players, as was proved on a weekly basis, and is still being proved.
      By the way, both the goals yesterday were scored with the defence completely static, not one of them was moving as the ball entered the net.
      I think it is goodbye for this person, a burnt out case, nothing to offer, no reason to retain him, no good can come of it.

  44. This whole Britt thing makes me wonder, again. What is it with Boro and big money goalscorers? The record signings that are supposed to give us the spark we need to unlock defences more frequently? But don’t?

    Here’s AV from 2013.

    “Most teams splash out a record fee expecting that their new recruit will be the final piece of the jigsaw. The spark. The architect of a golden age.

    “Boro fans have learned to be a bit more cautious. Here the club transfer record price tag has a tendency to weigh heavily on new recruits.

    “Whereas Boro’s most prolific goal-getters have come cheap or free – George Camsell was £600, Bernie Slaven £25,000, John Hickton £20,000 – the club’s biggest buys intended to bang them in have tended to all be almighty flops.

    “Afonso Alves was Europe’s golden boot when he arrived having whacked in nearly a goal a game in Holland and in Sweden the year before that.

    “The £12.7m man was paraded at a Riverside Samba carnival and started well but within months had fizzled out and looked a shadow of his former self. Typical Boro.

    “Before that it was Massimo Maccarone, Italy’s hottest striking prospect and the first in a generation to play for the national side when in Serie B.

    “Again, he started well before visibly shrivelling and ended up a sad nomadic figure on a loan tour of Italy, although obviously he will be forgiven everything for his last gasp iconic Euro goals.

    “Fabrizio Ravanelli. A much loved cult hero for three months but he never scored away after November as the goals dried up to be replaced by sulky strops, misquotations and doom-laden predictions of relegation before skulking off (with the fixtures and fittings) a year later.

    “Peter Davenport? Billy Ashcroft? Andy Payton? *groan*

    “The club’s official record price tag they wheel out at the unveiling ceremony must be made of kryptonite.”

    You can, of course, add Mr. Jordan Rhodes to that list too.

    1. Simon
      Our record is even worse than it seems, just consider the following.
      We decide to do something that we never do( but, of course every other club do) look for a young player who just scores goals, lots of them. Never mind if real soccer experts talk about his weak points, and assure us that he will not make it with the big boys, we sign him.
      We put him in the reserves, very boring, every match, two, or three, or four goals. It still takes us a long time to actually put him in the first team, just to see what we have got.
      He is very good on several levels, no one bullies him, the first very large centre half to try it is wearing a very large bandage on his head for the rest of the match.
      Enter the new manager, Southgate, we have no striker worth the name, but undaunted he decides to give our find the push, manages to bury him in an outpost where he will never embarrass him in the future, it was Carlisle.
      It took that lad two wasted years to climb out of that hole, but he enjoyed a lot of seasons in the premier league, scoring a lot of goals. Last week he knocked in a brilliant hat trick in the Championship. And still we struggle
      I suppose Wing and Tavernier defended well yesterday, none of this rubbish attacking play, and especially no scoring goals.

  45. I will wait with baited breath for someone to defend that debacle from the players and more importantly Mr Pulis.

    There have been a couple of posters saying we are still third, still fourth, still in the play offs. Even Boro will win 2-0.

    Time to get real. TP will get us nowhere only in more debt as he spends the last of Mr Gibson’s money on forlorn hope in January.

  46. Well, I can’t defend the display, Pedro. I shivered through 94 minutes of tripe from Boro today. QPR were slicker and sharper than us for most of the game. That’s because they played the ball on the deck to their mobile and pacy forwards, which was exactly the right thing to do on a greasy surface and in driving rain, which was just made for turning defenders. So what did Boro do? We lumped it long ball up to the ‘forwards’ for most of the game, regardless of their centre halves beating Hugill in the air virtually every single time, and regardless of the fact that the tactic plainly wasn’t working. Our football, or headball, was dreary, poorly executed and very ineffective. So frustrating.

    On a different note, since I started a couple of seasons back taking the train to away matches in the far south, or far east, or Wales, my record shows played 7, lost 7. In those 7 games, Boro failed to score at Norwich, Ipswich, Crystal Palace, Cardiff and QPR today, and barely registered a shot on target in any of those games. We did score 1 at Watford and lost a belter of a game at Fulham 4-3. So, my question is, is it just me? Should I stop going by train?

  47. Oh, silly me. We did score at QPR today!!! Not that it made any difference, you understand. I was so numbed by the weather and the awfulness of our football that I had completely forgotten our one moment of excitement in the game!

  48. Just been having a think to myself after yesterday’s debacle, let’s be honest with ourselves here and admit that things just ain’t getting any better, are they now. With that in mind and the end of Boro’s Jurassic period looking something that we may have to consider sometime soon, I got to thinking of a replacement. We’ve got a bit of a reputation for handing first posts to new boys on the management roundabout, so in the desperate need to bring in fresh ideas (attacking wouldn’t be a bad one to start with), a modern approach to the game, someone that’s done a decent apprenticeship under a first class tutor, and let’s face it someone that just might bring a smile to peoples faces even if he rarely has one himself, Mikel Arteta anyone if he can be tempted?

  49. PP in P

    It’s difficult to see where we go next. We have tried first time managers previously with limited success e.g. GS, AK, SA albeit the latter was on a temporary basis. GM and TP have track records but have failed/are failing.

    I would be very surprised if SG parts company with TP until the summer.

    TP keeps banging the drum that all at the club know what we need and I believe he is hoping to keep in touch with the top six in the hope that he can recruit in January and at least make a play off spot.

    I am not convinced that even recruiting Messi, Ronaldo, Salah and Aguero will do the trick.

    If, as I suspect, we will still be a Championship side come May then we will be looking at the lower leagues for both players and a manager.

    I also think that Arteta would see us as a step down rather than up if we have failed again in our promotion bid.

    I think we will all need to start lowering our expectation levels as the money dries up and the attendances collapse. 🙁

    1. Yes, KP, I agree that the prognosis is poor. Depressing, isn’t it, that another two years and lots of money have been spent with nothing to show for it. The senior management of the club has a lot to answer for.

  50. RR

    Thank you for the match report which must have been difficult to compile

    It’s the only report I’ve read and I listened to the radio only up to when QPR scored and switched off like the Boro.

    I couldn’t believe It when Britt was played on the left wing beggars belief doesn’t it

    I’m not impressed with the team or Pulis at the moment and I’ve nothing constructive to add to your post for which I thank you again


    1. Hi,OFB.
      I ,like you switched off after 4 minutes- there seemed no reason to punish myself by constantly questioning TP logic!
      Where’s he coming from? Assombalonga on the wing?
      Perhaps trying to put him in the shop window, but the player is not recognising that plan, and trying to play out of his skin!
      Our ray of hope at this time is that, possibly, Steve Gibson will give TP a lovely waddy ,as a Christmas pressy, so he can do the business next month.
      Fingers crossed!!!
      Tractor Man.

  51. Redcar Red,

    A calm sunny morning in Norfolk, tea delivered to the Boss, breakfast over and the two Jack Russells walked, the walk making no impression on their ceaseless amounts of energy. Coffee made and I sit down to read the report in quite a good mood. A great report, truthful, accurate and depressingly worrying.

    I try to find some logic in TP’s tactics but I meet with the same abject failure as Boro. Why Assombalonga on the wing? Eh? Why do we start the game defending and playing deep never establishing any momentum attacking intent? Something that actually works for the team one week is ditched the next?

    We buy players who are scoring midfielders and knock that habit out of them, alright Saville scored but he won’t be playing next game. I’m completely baffled and I’m sure that in the rest of the games to come this season teams must be looking forward to playing ‘Chaosopolis’.

    I dread to see who and which players we will be wooing in the transfer window and it seems that the much craved for creative number ten should only be bought after some serious scrutiny of the manager’s role in this mess. Mind you we’d soon having him blossoming as a potential Under 23 goalkeeper.

    How many points will Boro need to avoid relegation?

    Now to watch the edited lowlights.



  52. First of all my apologies for thinking that with the players we started the season with that Boro would walk this league with near on 100 points, but despite the likes of David Prutton and his Sky colleagues trying to convince us all what brilliant football is being played by some of the teams in the Championship, I still maintain it is the poorest quality for many a season and that a club with Boro’s resources should be far too good for this league. How wrong could I be!

    The league IS competitive and some teams can show that touch of class now and again, but overall it’s pretty mediocre fayre generally and apart from Norwich no team has shown any form of consistency although Leeds have done well considering their long injury problems which they now seem to have overcome. But where does that leave Boro? They started the season reasonably well but are now playing some of the worst football that I can remember since the Malcolm Allison years when we had no money.

    I thought that Tony Pulis was the wrong appointment for Boro at the time, but was willing to support him until he got rid of the likes of Patrick Bamford and then bought the likes of McNair and Saville, two apparently attack minded players, but under TP playing in defensive positions. I don’t condone ‘player power’, but can understand why Bamford and Braithwaite wanted to be out as they too were often played out of position, and now we have Assombalonga playing on the wing (shades of Karanka with Stuani ?) What’s that all about?

    Boro may still be in a playoff position JUST, but for how much longer with TP’s somewhat bizarre formations? We were actually playing better football towards the end of last season except for the matches at Burton, Sheffield Utd and the two playoff matches against Villa. Yesterday’s match however takes the biscuit, one shot on target and QPR not much better with two. I wouldn’t be surprised if we now lose to Burton on Tuesday. As ExMill posted recently, they can’t be taken lightly having already disposed of weakened Villa, Burnley and Forest teams albeit at home in previous rounds. Furthermore Peterborough in the FA Cup won’t be easy either considering they scored 4 times from 13 shots on target from 35 attempts in their recent penalty shootout win over Bradford last week. Yes they also conceded 4, but how many times do we hear about Boro’s opponents having woeful defensive records, yet we still can’t overcome them with Tony Pulis trying to kid us that with the number of chances we make we should score many more. What chances? Most of them have come from throw-ins or chances inside the penalty area. How often does a Boro player shoot from outside the box, well on target anyway?

    As someone earlier wrote, if only the team had as much dedication or aptitude as Werdermouth, Redcar Red, OFB, et al Boro with or without Tony Pulis would have walked this League. I’m pretty mild-mannered and Boro defeats don’t upset me as much as they used to, but it’s the performances that do grate with me. I’ve supported Boro for at least 70 of my 80 years and will continue to do so, but sometimes they make it very difficult.

    Despite spending Christmas alone and winters in the Algarve a thing of the past. I do now don’t have the inconvenience of having interrupted sleep during the night and bladder accidents thanks to my little friend, my catheter bag, and he does keep one hand warm whilst I use the internet with the other hand. It is what it is, and I’ve not written this blog because I feel sorry for myself. Far from it with my cancer seemingly under control, I just wish that Boro could give me that extra pleasure.

    Rant over now, and a merry Christmas to all my pen pals on this forum.

    1. Great post Ken and good to hear your health issues are under control, which is more than we can say about our beloved team!

      Merry Christmas and here’s hoping for a better New Year for all. At least I will be in the warmth of oz.

  53. Another good if thouroughly depressing read RR.

    I gave up trying to watch the club stream just before half time as it was alternating between 2 minutes on and 2 minutes off. Another shambolic effort at modern media from the club which what I saw then heard on Tees mirrored the efforts on the pitch.

    Like most Boro fans I was pleasantly surprised to see two strikers on the pitch at kick off only to be even more surprised, and not in a good way, as Britt was actually playing wide left. Really!

    Not a lot more to add from the previous posts except it appears that for an experienced manager Pulis doesn’t appear to know what to do, whether it be player selection, team formation or tactics, to halt what has been a poor run,(generous), of games since mid September at Norwich.

    Britt at wide left! Give yer ead a shake man!!

    One thing that does deserve mention was the effort from the traveling Boro fans which if mirrored on the pitch would be appreciated. Whether from Teesside, darn sarf, Cheshire or indeed anywhere else well done.👏🏻

    Although maybe Clive should start to look at other travel arrangements.

  54. The atmosphere in the away end yesterday was starting to turn toxic with a fair bit of vitriol being dished out to certain players. These are the hardy travelling die hards who support the club through thick and thin. When the Travelling Army starts to show dissent and squabble its not a good sign as Barnsley away proved for a Pulis predecessor. Obviously it hasn’t reached those proportions yet but as this slide continues its inevitable.

    I thought the appointment of Pulis would have been ideal but I was wrong and the longer I witness the soulless eccentricities of what is delivered out on the pitch the more I learn. Put simply he is the right Manager but at the wrong time. Had he been appointed instead of Agnew his methodology may very well have kept us up. Granted he wasn’t available then but my point is his tactics work in certain circumstances and they work very well but perhaps not in the current circumstances. Maybe I’m over analysing things but I don’t believe that the players believe in them any longer either.

    Contrast Pulis with say Warnock, a great Manager at achieving promotion but all the little blue pills in the world will not keep Cardiff up long term and yet I believe Pulis could. Getting Boro promoted or indeed any Championship side promoted isn’t easy but TP seems to be his own worst enemy right after our Recruitment clowns. Warnock (and perhaps Jokanovic) can get a team out of the Championship but keeping them up with a more open style of football is suicide in the Premiership. What gets you promoted isn’t what will keep you up and what keeps you up isn’t what gets you promoted nowadays.

    Take last season and what happened to get us over the finishing line to make the play offs? A spate of injuries meant that Bamford got a run of games where he equalled Bernies record of scoring in straight games from memory (he may even have beaten it or just fell short). Was it nine goals in seven games or something ridiculous like that before he was laid out cold with concussion and then never given the opportunity again to carry on scoring under TP?

    Those goals got us into the play offs, what happened in those two Villa games was uninspiring, disappointing and woefully short on far to many fronts. Not a single attempt on target at the Riverside and nothing until the dying seconds at Villa Park when we had a debated shot on target. Bringing on an injured Gestede was unbelievable stupidity as the lad could hardly walk let alone run and chase the game. The lack of technical tactics meant that TP was relying on a corner or a set piece for the big lad to get his head to it yet he had a proven goal scoring game changer whom he chose not for the first time to ignore. A golden opportunity meekly surrendered or should that be defended as we did for 180 minutes?

    The start of this season and with “this squad isn’t good enough” ringing in our ears saw an inept opening Pulis performance away at Millwall that had to be rescued by the “kids” who weren’t ready apparently. Those “kids” got us off to a false start and as soon as Pulis had as many “men” as he could muster we reverted to Tony’s tactics and style. What happened after August has been well documented on here and elsewhere. My misgivings about Gestede are not a secret but TP clearly has his own view which is fine but he persisted with the non scoring and ineffective striker when its clear that he didn’t even look remotely like scoring. This of course was made all the worse by Bamford being “allowed” to go (of course he was happy to leave after how he had been ignored because he wasn’t six foot three, eighteen stone despite an irritating goal scoring habit) to a major rival.

    Yesterday 5ft 7″ Nahki Wells destroyed our monolithic giants, not by battering them and not by winning headers but by class, skill and footballing ability, qualities that Pulis doesn’t seem to understand and as in the case of Bamford totally incapable of utilising. The Blackburn game last week gave a opportunistic glimpse of something that just might work with Hugill and Assombalonga (created out of a sending off and desperation not by Pulis design). Yesterday when the fans saw the team sheet, hopes and hearts were raised. Sixty short seconds in and the disbelief was all too evident seeing Britt out wide as a Winger, two hundred and forty seconds in and the horror of it all was plain to see.

    Twelve months on from Monk and my conclusion is that when things have been at their best for Boro under Pulis its in spite of him quite literally rather than because of him. I do accept that had we maybe landed a Bolasie (or two) it may have given him a fairer evaluation but we don’t have a Bolasie and playing to the strengths of players we don’t have isn’t going to work. Worse still playing players who have the physique but don’t have the required skills in areas and formations is either bizarre , eccentric madness or just plain stubborn stupidity caused by a lack of ability to adapt.

    I don’t trust our Recruitment department one bit and yes I would sack them all. It’s usually subtly veiled as redundancy to allow for “a new Management structure”, a “new way of operating” or a “Technical Manager/Director” appointment in a totally different role but as we all know in the real world doing exactly the same job. We could even invite them to “apply for the new roles” as is the statutory norm. If we never replaced them we couldn’t possibly be any worse off so its a win/win. So the next thinking point is would I then let Pulis loose with the remaining cash in January and back him? Musing over the above and hand on heart I don’t think I could or would.

    Whatever TP does in the Premiership, scrapping, battling, imposing big fellas all over the pitch to unsettle world class Latino divas in an effort to scrape a few draws and wins from set plays is enough to survive against the odds. Trying to win games is clearly anathema to him and worse than that unless its backs to the wall he doesn’t have a clue (and that hurts me to admit it). I hear in the back of my head “but we didn’t get in the players he wanted in the summer” but I also see an alarming slide in the form table that started so well with players he presumably either doesn’t want or doesn’t need. Those Players were always there and always available to him plus ones like McNair who must be wondering what on earth possessed him to countenance joining Boro and why (or who) they wanted him.

    Is TP’s objective to get promoted or simply to stabilise a middling Championship club that makes the play offs once every five years? If its the latter then congratulations, job done. Problem is that if and when we ever do make those play offs we know to expect our hopes to fade and die there and then, competing to win just isn’t going to happen.

    1. RR

      Those sentiments are echoed by me and if avid supporters (both of us) are sick what about the floating fans?

      My two sons have stopped going and one has a season ticket. Other family and friends have also stopped and whilst I have not advocated a change of manager I think Pulis needs an attacking coach to work with him and perhaps make Pulis Director of Football and sort the recruitment side

      Just to wait and hope for signing players in January seems to me Just a pipe dream


      1. OFB

        I don’t think Pulis would consider having an attacking Coach, he simply wouldn’t see the need for one. On the Director of Football role that would need a clear out of the existing old Boys Cub but ironically my first choice would be Mogga for the job not that he would consider it. Maybe its worth digging down to find out who has done/does the scouting for Mogga and finds his bargain buys which yielded over 50% of AK’s promotion side and whose legacy is still at the club in contrast to the millions wasted on rank average at best and in many cases a lot worse than that.

        As for signing Players in January do we go for those that Pulis wants and needs to complete his template accepting that he will likely be gone in the summer and we are then left with a glut of defensive non creative players who a new Manager wouldn’t want or just ride this season out hoping we don’t keep free falling?

        As I’ve mentioned previously my son also stopped going despite having a season card, admittedly mainly because he preferred to stay in the North Stand but had the football been exciting and satisfying to watch I’m pretty sure he would have either persevered with the South or persuaded me to stump up the extra £100 quid or so to switch back to the North.

        1. RR

          It was obvious after talking with Ron Bone the Boro chief scout who retired in August that he and his scouts were responsible for bringing in some bargain buys

          When Mogga was the manager he insisted that Ron sat in an office outside his own so that he could keep in touch with live developments. Mogga had the greatest respect for Ron as well as Dave Parnaby who Ron persuaded to join the Boro as Academy Manager

          I’ve recently finished an Interview with Ron and his last signing was Lewis Wing Who he chased for a year and had to do a lot of persuading to Boro for him to sign

          Several clubs tried to poach him but he stayed loyal to Boro

          When Ron left with Dave Parnaby they left a big gap in Boro resources


    2. I wouldn’t give Pulis any money to spend in January. He sanctioned the spending of a load of money in the summer and has done squiddly dit with the players bought with it. Why would any acquisitions in January be any better?

  55. Many thanks to Redcar Red for putting into printable words the story of what we’re getting used to calling ‘another missed opportunity’. The most annoying thing for me was that our failure was mainly down to the tactics of insisting on playing the ball long and expecting a different outcome other than the ball being headed clear. On the few occasions we ran at their defence it appeared to cause them problems but we seemed to give up on using that approach after bringing on Tav and Wing – which I foolish thought was the reason of them being in the team.

    I doubt Steve Gibson will be contemplating getting rid of Tony Pulis any time soon – surely he was under no illusions of what style of football his manager was famous for in his long career. Besides, how many managers will now look at an opportunity to work for ‘the best chairman in the country’ as someone who is known for giving his managers time and backing them in the transfer market if he now gives them only a few months or a year at most. Can Boro start to contemplate appointing their 5th manager in two-and-half seasons?

    That’s not to say either Monk or Pulis have shown they were convincing in what they were doing but one year later nothing has changed in terms of results. Maybe if we’d stuck by Monk and he would have worked out how to pick his best team by now and the players he was trying to get to think for themselves on the pitch would look a more coherent unit.

    Pulis is more of a manager in the micro-management mould and is still looking for which players can play to his methods. When it doesn’t work it’s not pretty and the question is whether he can get to the place where his head is telling him Boro should go – do we even want to got to that place? Presumably nobody involved in appointing him was expecting Boro to turn on the style – though given the reason for appointing Monk and spending big on attacking players was because they thought the approach under Karanka was too defensive minded, it looks less than joined up thinking.

    Perhaps it’s time for Steve Gibson to see if Tony Pulis’s root and branch assessment of the club leaves them both as the best people to make the footballing decisions. It seems Pulis has concluded the club need to embark on a future where they look for up-and-coming players – do we have the right manager in place for that strategy?

  56. I don’t think QPR were great. They had about two shots on target and scored. We did not defend well and we were awfull in the attck. Looked like a team of strangers in red. Awful, I must admit.

    We used to be able to defend. Now even that is bad. What has happened to Boro?

    I hope we pick up some form during the holiday period. And we will hvae a big match on Tuesday next.

    Not feeling very confident at the moment. Up the Boro!

  57. I’m coming to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter who the manager is anymore. Every boss post Strachan has brought something to the table that the previous incumbent lacked but even then they’ve been unable to stop Boro from heading the same way.

    It’s like there’s a war going on – between the club that genuinely wants to go places and the club that wants to stay true to its roots, the little guy taking on the big boys and winning. The trouble is, you have to try and become a “big boy” to achieve consistently, and it takes time – time we’re never prepared to give.

    It may well be that opening our minds to embrace Eurocracy again might be a good thing. You might see it as a sad dismissal of the sentimental “family values”. You might also see it as a reality that leads to result after result and trophy after trophy on the continent while we continue to struggle.

    1. That’s a good post Simon. And I would add money to the time side. To play with the “big boys” you need a lot of money and we never spend quite enough I feel.

  58. Picking up on the blog and a big thank you to RR for his honest and depressing report. Dedication beyond the call of duty along with all the other travelling fans on a cold and horrible day. From what I can gather driving back would not have been fun with freezing rain so maybe the train was best Clive!

    I can relate to a lot of the earlier comments and I do not know where we go from here, a lot of posters have put it very welll.

    We are maybe a bit in the quandary that Mrs May finds herself in, in that none of the options really work. Stick with TP and we will get the same old since he seems unable to change things around.

    Option B would be to get a new manager, question is who and whether there would be any changes with the players that we have. Their ability must be questionable unless TP is a bad manager.

    Maybe there is a cunning plan to spend a fortune in January to buy all those attacking players that even TP says we need.

    Whatever it is, if SG really wants to get promoted, then there really does need to be a change and significant improvements, quickly as well.

    The joys of the football supporter although I still wouldn’t have it any other way,


    1. The squad isn’t great but its better than what it is currently achieving. Leeds for example have assembled a squad with a huge amount of Boro “failures”. As I mentioned yesterday the Blades are achieving exactly the same as ourselves with a squad assembled on peanuts of a budget.

      A new Manager would want a squad in his own image long term but Football Managers don’t get long term appointments, its the nature of the job. Whoever is manager of MFC needs to make the best out of what he has and that most definitely isn’t selling your best goalscorer or playing your next best striker as a Winger.

      What has become apparent to me is that the players themselves don’t look comfortable in what they are being asked to do and some heads and hearts seemed to have dropped lately. Yesterday will not have helped one iota. There are a few broken components, the problem is does SG try and fix them all at once or one piece at a time which brings us back to why TP was brought in. If TP is to stay things need to be accelerated and very quickly.

  59. The same thing I said under AK, and many panicked anyway. Which is why I’m not panicking this time either.

    Positive Si says…

    (1) It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Teams take three points from 15 or win one in six, and still triumph in the end. (Manchester United in 1996 and 1999, Bournemouth in 2015.) So no need to implode.
    (2) Final day triumphs are as common as mud in football. So I’ll never hold it against a regime for “scraping” an achievement so long as they get there. Achievements are achievements, bottom line.
    (3) Learn from and build on what you did right in near misses rather than lament what you did wrong. For all the dwelling on the “play-off final failure” we were still the woodwork and a Dani Ayala wobble away from establishing a traditional pattern of command. Teams freeze when hit by a “wasn’t in the script” moment… it happens. It’s football.

    Negative Si argues, in response to 1, 2 and 3…

    There is a tendency to just continue as is in the hope that things will just click again and we’ll come good if only we’re patient and persistent enough. It’s the “ah, it’ll come right again” mentality… and that usually hangs around until things really, really go wrong.

    Consistency and stability is great. Complacency and stagnancy isn’t. Which is why Burnley were thankful for Joey Barton dragging them out of their slump in 2015-16. As we were in 1997-98 with Nigel Pearson and Andy Townsend.

    Though Gaston was an undeniably positive short-term catalyst for us, the greater characters in the team, the Downings and Nugents, found themselves at odds with the collective command that the manager sought to exert.

    The days when a manager can tell a player to “grow up and deal with” criticism are long gone.

    1. And that last paragraph sums it all up for me. The players, and not the manager, have the power. If they, or their agent, decide that there is more money to be had elsewhere, then they will go. That may mean that they play very well whilst in the shop window or failing that, then effectively go on strike.

      It saddens me that the money in the game has got to such ridiculous levels and it was interesting listening to John Motson on his Desert Island Discs talk about the number of countries that watch the Premier Leauge and where you see the replica shirts of the top clubs.

      I had to chuckle as I thought it unlikely that replica Boro shirts will ever be seen in great numbers in some far flung country! Which is why I suspect that the big clubs would really really want a league with no relegations consisting of maybe 15 teams based on their marketability and financial clout rather than anything else such as football!

      There would then be a premier Championship to take in the rest of the perceived big clubs.

      It’s all about the money now which leads me into GT.s question to Mr Gibson. I have said it before but I don’t think that SG has the finances to realistically put a club together for promotion and then survival. The AK season sort of proved that as he did not massively spend and AK certainly felt he didn’t get the players he Wanted.

      I did feel that by appointing TP that he was prepared to do what is required although the jury is still out. We need to spend more money on the better players although not with TPin charge.

      TP does not appear to have adapted to the Championship that well and as RR said, his skill set, which is getting old hat now, is to keep a team up with solid performances rather than win promotion with out and out flair.

      Anyway, time will tell and we can always continue to hope and follow the Boro whatever.

      1. Remember when Yakubu went on strike ?

        I invited him and his girlfriend for a Xmas ball that we held for clients and his girlfriend was the daughter of one of our major customers.

        He was very courteous and friendly and what did he do a few weeks later ?

        He went on strike and basically refused to play for Boro and was shipped off to Everton which pleased his agent very much.

        To complete the story a few more weeks later he flew back to Africa and married his secret African sweetheart so I never saw him again!

        Neither did his girlfriend in England!!


      2. Just an update on what I’ve been doing lately

        Talking to Terry Bywater the Paralympics athlete from Redcar who is Boro daft !

        Peter Brine has been busy and his restaurant “Salt” has been named as one of the top 5 in Australia which proves there is life after football ⚽️

        Chris Tomkins the champion Long jump athlete has just finished an In2View with me and suprise suprise- he’s Boro daft too.

        Also been talking to Terry Cochrane and Colin Cooper so hopefully will get an In2View with them

        Finished an In2View with Frank Spraggon and his wife Linda. Why his wife you may ask ?

        Well you’ll just have to wait and find out !

        So it keeps me out of mischief doing the In2Views and thank you Werder for your brilliant edit input which makes it look professional and thank you all for your kind comments on the In2Views this year

        Merry Xmas Diasboro Bloggers


      3. BBD

        You’d be surprised who wore Boro shirts overseas !

        Went on a trip to Brazil in 1988 and walking along cocacabana beach (as you do) lads playing football wearing …..Boro shirts!

        I called them over and explained that I was from Middlesbrough and they thought it was great.

        Where did they get the shirts from?

        The little feller of course


  60. In response to Ken.

    I’ve discussed the pros and cons of the Watford model in a previous talking point. CEO Scott Duxbury takes great pride in their system…

    “On the stability point, we take a view that the role of a coach, particularly at a mid-table club, is a short one. I think the lifespan is two years. They will either move on to bigger and better things or there will be problems and then you will look to move on and look in a different direction.

    “If you take that pragmatic approach, and history suggests it is the right approach, whenever a coach does move on for whatever reason, the club and infrastructure around it remains so you can place in another coach to continue the development. We have shown over the past five years that the model works and we are actually a stable football club.”

    I love that argument. Except one could equally argue that it’s not as stable as Duxbury says it is. If at all. As Phil Costa put it in January 2018…

    “In the last five years alone, they’ve finished 3rd in the Championship, 13th in the Championship, 2nd in the Championship, 13th in the Premier League and 17th in the Premier League. Granted, gaining promotion to the top flight from the second tier is difficult and teams with a similar profile to them are up and down, but in those five seasons they’ve spent upwards of £200m – £185m of which was spent in three.

    “Their managerial appointments are often continental which is adventurous, but the Premier League and England itself require significant adaptation periods. Quique Sanchez Flores was afforded a two-year deal on his initial contract, (Marco) Silva the same, while Javi Gracia – appointed eight hours after Silva’s dismissal – has just 18 months.**

    “It’s important to have a modus operandi regarding your recruitment, but there’s a difference between changing the colour of your living room to freshen things up and frantically redecorating every six months.”

    **To be fair, Gracia has recently signed a new deal so maybe Watford are looking for something more stable. I kind of felt they were headed that way with Silva until his head was turned by Everton. Which has probably led Duxbury to believe the following: why trust in a manager if he’ll either be booed out of the club, distracted or poached? Then the whole system will have to be restructured.

  61. Yes – when something has to change, you can’t sack the players.

    That said, even if firing the manager is justified, the problems of a divided dressing room, players with an inflated sense of their own importance and a brittle, insecure hierarchy may remain.

  62. Despite AK’s flaws – which I’ve analysed after a period of reflection – I still have plenty of admiration for what he did.

    Unfortunately if you turn on the players in public, turn on fans in public, stand on the touchline with your hands in your pockets when the supporters want a change, etc, then…

    Honesty or not, if you don’t present the overall image that the fans, players and hierarchy *want* to see at the appropriate time, you’re out.

    That may be one reason why, even though Juninho gallavanted off to play for Brazil’s Olympic team while we were freefalling, no one seemed to bat an eyelid. Maybe, just maybe… his “happy go lucky” image was intact, the team’s shallowness, leaky defence and injuries “weren’t his fault”, and the season was as good as over anyway. That might be it.

    Run away, or threaten to run away, when the club really needs you and you’re in more than deep trouble. Your reputation is permanently damaged.

    That said, we seemed more than happy to welcome Emerson back into the fold after the embarrassment his trip to Rio caused. Football.

  63. Ack, I’m on a roll again…

    I think John Powls had a point some time ago when he said:

    “Because we’re fans we unfairly transpose our feelings onto people – players, managers and coaches – who are doing their job. (Or trying to do their job in the face of rampant ranting on the Internet, sometimes of the irrational kind. – Si)

    “Because we pay their wages* and we are the continuity that sustains the club we have the right to criticise what they give at work, but none to criticise if they choose to leave to better themselves. Particularly as if the club wanted rid of them, they’d be out of the door sharpish.

    “I could do with a little less of the badge-kissing ‘theatre’ which encourages a mis-reading of that process and plays on fans feelings, sometimes cynically.”

    *See: Mark Viduka, Scott McDonald. 83 goals for Boro between them yet both are very divisive, partly for the dreaded “w” word.

  64. I know Boro are in desperate need of a winger and Jason Puncheon’s name cropped up pre-season. Too old at 32 but not a bad scoring record for a winger 76 goals in 395 matches, but two years younger than Stuart Downing whose scoring record in club football is a measly 48 in 519 matches. Swansea have announced that Wayne Routledge can leave in January, and he is the same age as Downing with a similar scoring rate to Downing 41 goals in 464 matches, so would Puncheon be a decent replacement for Downing for a couple of seasons? Just asking like!

    1. Ken, you could be right but I would be happier with that new football species called a
      Man/Kid from the local or other leagues, someone who would think his birthday has come and fight tooth and nail for his new team and fans. They know no fear as the league’s they come from as turned the kids into a man. Plus they will be Young enough learn more football nous.

  65. I hope the internet talk of links with Connor Wickham are just column fillers and well wide of the mark. The last thing we need is an injury prone Striker that once had potential, has never reached ten goals in a season and hasn’t delivered anything for years needing three months to get back his match sharpness (assuming that he lasts three months before breaking down again).

    He is a big lad though………………………………………………………..sigh!

    1. Redcar Red
      As you say a big lad so fits the Tony Pulis profile and only 25, but has scored only 43 goals in 180 matches about the same ratio as Rudi Gestede with 63 goals in 284 matches and a similar injury prone career.

  66. AV wrote: “With 17 games gone (from the beginning of the season) Boro had clocked up 11 clean sheets, leaked just eight goals and had the best numbers in English football.

    “In the past five league games, once water-tight Boro have sprung a leak. They have conceded eight in five games and six in the last three.”

    So we are in a mess all over the pitch as even Randolph has leaked a couple of “easy” goals lately (if not yesterday) Only the subs have managed to keep their bench warm.

    And tomorrow we will have an important game that would have been our best ever chance of achieving some silverware in pre-Robson days: A winnable quarter final at home.

    I expect a win tomorrow but fear for the worst. Up the Boro!

  67. I have given Boro shirts to people in Thailand, Laos , Vietnam, Cambodia Burma , Kenya, Zambia and Botswana.
    Always nice to counter the usual Premier league presence !

    Lets hope we start to see some positives soon because the present fare certainly ain’t in any way shape or form festive.

    A very merry Xmas to you all and may 2019 be good to us all. 🎅🏽🎅🏽🍺👍

  68. Middlesbrough FC have a history of employing managers with a mission. Stan Anderson’s brief when appointed was to get Boro promoted, but if that failed to produce a team that would prove attractive to a young manager with potential, a Plan B in effect. To that degree although Plan A might have failed, it paved the way for Plan B and the appointment of Jack Charlton.

    Jack Charlton’s brief was to get Boro promoted which he did in his first season, but to then establish the club as a First Division club, which he also did quite successfully. But like Stan Anderson, he thought he had taken the club as far as possible but nevertheless paved the way with players who could adapt to a more attractive style which with a few tweaks might push Boro forward to a Plan B, which proved fairly successful under John Neal until the break-up over the team following an FA Cup defeat to Wolves (more about that in my next historical blog).

    Moving on Lennie Lawrence was given the brief to get Boro promoted, which in fact he did. But after relegation like Stan Anderson and Jack Charlton before him, he thought he’d taken Boro as far as he could but nevertheless had a big influence in Boro’s Plan B, the appointment of another untried young manager in the form of Bryan Robson with his Manchester United connections, rather like Derby’s appointment of Frank Lampard with his Chelsea connections and to a lesser extent Steven Gerrard at Rangers.

    Moving on Tony Mowbray was given the brief of keeping Boro in the Second Division, but mainly in culling the playing staff after the disastrous Strachan era, which he did successfully, but Plan C, promotion to the Premier League being a bridge too far but nevertheless leaving Aitor Karanka with the basis of a good squad which ultimately saw Boro promoted.

    Tony Pulis’s brief was to identify weaknesses in the structure of the club, probably with the hope of promotion, but maybe not the be-all and end-all (just my opinion). Pulis has done this so far except for the Recruitment Department and that’s the rub. If Boro get promotion this season, his brief will be to keep Boro safe from relegation next season, and establish Boro as a Premier League club for years to come. If not then I think he’ll shake hands with Steve Gibson at the end of the season having succeeded in part of his brief, but not promotion which he has stated right from the start of this season, that Boro are not capable of with the current squad.

    However, maybe there’s another brief, to pave the way for another young continental manager, possibly German, to take over the reins next season. Now this is all conjecture on my part, but is there another scenario? Perhaps Steve Gibson, despite denials in the past, wants to sell the club as a going concern knowing full well that he can no longer compete financially with the big clubs in the Premier League and that to provide more finance in the January transfer window would be a forlorn gamble. He might think now that the stature of the club as a top Championship Club might be a big attraction to a foreign owner or consortium, and I think he would be right.

    However, SG is also a fan and I’m certain that if he did sell up, he’d want to be sure that the club would be in good hands. As I say, that is speculation, but does anyone else share my thoughts?

    1. Ken, I think Steve will give us a few years still as he is 60 years young now. Next year 61 and I expect a change in 2023 to 25. So planning has definitely started and the timing could change if a proper buyer is found soon.

      I think the club must be debt-less and in the PL when he gives up. But who knows if he likes someone to take over already in the Championship and just enjoying the ride as a fan.

      But he will be the ultimate Boro legend after that. Up the Boro!

  69. It seems to me that this ” manager” ignores any and all opinions but his own, we thought that we had got rid of the idea that Assalomba and Gestede were or had ever been strikers, were not good enough and were consigned to the past where they belonged.
    The selection of Assalomba just because he scored a worldie (and missed two chances that were simply not missable) shows that this manager is in his own little world. He has stopped Wing and Tavernier attacking, why I don’t know, perhaps he would tell us. We stand around at the beginning of matches(and concede early goals), at least twelve points have gone that way, I really think we should dispatch him to sandbanks, or whatever the name is. He is certainly doing no good here. And make sure we get a continental manager, please, you know it makes sense.

  70. The Rams against the Tricky Trees.

    Sat on the fence over this one, one of those games where if they could both lose would be the best result for us so I will settle for a draw.

    Whether that will help us in the long term is another matter.

  71. Like the “managers with a mission” post, Ken – and I would certainly add McClaren to that list. Our first major trophy and Europe is not a bad return at all.

    Southgate and Karanka were badly burned, sometimes by digging their own holes for themselves, but they both appear to be better for the experience.

    1. Simon
      Love your blogs but it hurts when you mention managers who had some ideas about the game and the market in players.
      Happy memories of AK, getting to the top of the Champ. Then getting promotion, looking like being close for relegation, but pretty sure of coming straight back up with a manager who knew how to.
      Whoever made those disastrous decisions should certainly hang his head in shame, and as for going back to the battered old English model manager, well we certainly have had our punishment, and how!
      I personally, have no idea how we get out of the mess we are in
      If we find another Wing, he will only turn him into a defender, or at least try.
      This man is so out of all things football, that I expect he will tell us that he cannot risk Wing and Tav. In the cup tie, they are too important to him in the league.

  72. One for OFB here.
    What are the exact roles of Mr Bauser (finances and player contracts??) and Mr Bevington. (wasn’t he supposed to be Recruitment with the brief possibly to improve it?)
    There seems to be an overlap there especially as we already have Mr Gill and his Scouts.

    1. Neil Bausor is the CEO predominantly based at Rockliffe Park and is accountable for the day-to-day running of Middlesbrough Football Club and works very closely with chairman Steve Gibson across all aspects of the business, including the football and recruitment side. Regarding recruitment he doesn’t go and find players but he knows what the club can afford and when a player becomes available he can say whether the club can afford them. He negotiates with the selling club and the players contract.

      He oversees the budgets for the year and represents MFC at Football League meetings. He also hires all the support staff and their contracts.


    2. Adrian Bevington is head of recruitment reporting directly to Neil Bausor.

      He integrates all the Academy Youth and Recruitment departments and the Academy Director Gary Gill amd the scouts report under him

      He was appointed because he had done such a good job with the FA the Welsh FA and they of course him from his previous term with the club

      I’ve spent some time with Adrian and he seems to know what he’s talking about. We had started preparing an In2View for our Diasboro blog but then he was appointed at the Boro and he contacted me to put everything on hold.

      He did say that once he’s settled in and put his feet under the table he will do an In2View so we’ll see wjT happens

      So any thing more I can’t say or is have to make it up !


  73. Alluding to Ken’s piece, then I have long said that SG does not appear to want to, or have the available cash, to spend the money required to really compete. After all, with all the uncertainty around Brexit, he will be keeping a close eye on Bulkhaul.

    He has been a good owner and chairman and the fact that he is local and a fan makes Boro what it is and generally keeps the fans inside. I am not sure how many grounds regularly hear a positive chant towards their owner! Certainly not up the road for sure!

    He does seem to alternate between expansion and then clawing back, witness McClaren followed by Southgate, then Strachan followed by Mogga. The second incumbent gets the poisoned chalice with a brief to cut back expenditure, make do and mend.

    AK was a mixture of both and GM was given far too much money in the hope that we would get straight back up to the land of milk and honey.

    I am not sure where TP sits in my theory, he will be in a good salary and has had funds to spend. I suspect that the target has to be promotion for the money and then stay up in the hope that maybe a buyer would be attracted to us.

    However, much as we all love Boro, I am not sure how much interest we would be to an outside investor, certainly not as a yo-yo club.

    And that is the dilemma that I feel SG faces, he can’t sell the club but equally can’t put the money in to make us a solid Premier League club. I know Bournemouth have done it and Wolves too but Middlesbrough?

    Anyway who knows what SG is thinking but if we do not secure promotion, then TP will go and my money would be on a young first time manager with maybe a director of football……..


  74. In response to BBD, I reference my “Finding A Voice” Talking Point from near the end of Monk’s tenure.

    “Giving Monk the keys to the transfer treasure chest so soon has done him and Boro no favours, presenting the image of someone too keen to undo the sterility of the defensively-minded, deeply divisive regime that played its part in splitting the club.

    “(But) often, those keen to highlight the negative aspects of a previous regime – I won’t go into all that here – tend to forget why we believed in it to begin with.

    “… (Look at) Jack Charlton’s Champions of 1973-74 and Bruce Rioch’s Promotion Heroes of 1986-87 – the only teams to concede fewer goals than Karanka’s Boro of 2015-16 since the war.

    “…(And) note that while, to the paying customer, goals are football’s oxygen and all that, having a rock solid defence gives you confidence, a feeling of relaxation.

    “For if you take the lead, the game is almost certainly yours. When the right foundations are there, everything else will follow, and not just on the pitch.”

    If only said manager had evolved and not retreated.

  75. Yes BBD, who knows what SG is thinking? He’s rolled the dice a number of times now and been burnt. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when a new manager is appointed, so he keeps trying or he moves on.
    Despite the failures, I’m grateful he’s stayed at the helm as I would hate my club to become the plaything of some faceless global organisation. Like us, he craves a team which gains promotion in style but that has proved difficult to bring about. We can only hope that somebody comes along who can achieve this goal as an endless diet of “grinding out results” is giving us all indigestion.
    Good luck Steve.
    Whilst I’ve got this rare day off, I’d like to wish all and sundry the compliments of the season. Maybe we’ll get a Christmas miracle.

  76. Just to confirm that my thoughts are not meant as a criticism of Steve Gibson in any way. But if Boro are to progress as a fully fledged Premier League club I believe he would have to sever connnections completely. He would not be able to attract a benefactor on a shared basis, it would need a clean break and only in that way could we come an established Premier League club instead of a yo-yo club which I feel at the moment is the best scenario we can expect.

  77. The most appropriate way to judge a manager’s performance is against his remit. The problem is that we almost always have to guess what that remit is.

    As Ken has mentioned, we can speculate reasonably confidently on what some manager’s remits have been. Pulis’ is interesting though – is his prmary objective to gain promotion or is it to run the rule over all aspects of the club and set lasting foundations? I don’t think the two are entirely aligned, particuarly in the short term.

    I think most fans see promotion as the number one target. If that isn’t in fact the case then you can easily see how opionion on Pulis will differ.

    1. And therein is the problem in that us fans do not know what the remit is for a any manager. Yes, we want promotion and wins but SG may want something else.

      I agree with Steely that I would not want a faceless corporation and appreciate all that SG has done for our small club. If he were to sell up, then whilst I would still want Boro to do well, I may be tempted to support and watch a local non league team.

    2. As TP’s contract ends this coming Summer I think it pretty fair to conclude that his overseeing role is not a ten year project. Having come and saw as it were, its not unreasonable for us to be seeing some sort of “progress” by now. My personal take on it is that it has been a case of two steps forward and currently two steps (teetering on three) steps back with a squad that is far less than the one this time last year.

      If we bring in two attacking fast skillful wide players in January then TP’s game plan might come good and everything suddenly clicks and we go on a run. If their wage demands are too much (shouldn’t we be clued up however before we go chasing them or even engaging their agent?) for Bausor then we will have to go without or heaven forbid sign another defensive midfielder as a consolation prize. Remember January was the month that gifted AK Rudy Gestede and Adlene Guedioura and I’m pretty darn sure that they were not at the top of the Spaniards shopping list.

      The harsh reality is that I’m not so sure that the fans are in the frame of mind to be willing to wait until January before things turn toxic. My reasoning for that is our next four fixtures. Burton home, Reading away, Wednesday home and Ipswich home. There won’t be enough fans present tomorrow night against Burton to make that much of a fuss so its a free hit even if the result goes pear shaped but should we then cumulatively fail at struggling Reading, splutter at home to Wednesday and follow through with a less than impressive performance at home to Ipswich then that will be the tipping point if indeed not the previous game. I won’t even dwell on going to the Rams on New Years day!

      The lack of any intent from the off allied to the style of football means that TP’s goodwill is now suffering from dangerously low supply levels. Winning ugly is fine but trying to draw ugly from the start with questionable myopic selections has worn thin too many times in recent months. Bamford scoring on Saturday to put Leeds top was a “Typical Boro” moment and not in a good way. Whatever the remit is or was and it may be that SG is highly delighted with things once fans turn against a Manager the situation becomes untenable.

      The situation as it stands now is is spluttering on whether TP can sort out his leaky Defence, newly dodgy Keeper, static Midfield and emasculated Striker in the next few days. That the spectacle of watching Dimi playing wide left would neither surprise nor shock at this moment in time is indicative of just how strained that stretched elastic band of belief really is for TP. Like AK I doubt very much he is the sort to do a complete “U” turn and its much more likely to be steady as she goes and maintain course because Icebergs couldn’t possibly be this far South.

      1. As always we are in “interesting times”! Maybe TP is a follower of a certain Mrs May in that it is his deal or no deal!

        Thing is, one has more importance than the other……….

      2. Very true RR….a long time friend of mine who has been a season ticket holder for a large number of years said to me today that she has almost given up on TP and even won’t attend the match tomorrow night. She is a diehard supporter and even plans her trips abroad to make sure she doesn’t miss a home game.

  78. Well there will be a Boro win on January 5th, for sure. Just have to guess which one.

    FA Cup third round home tie against Peterborough United has been confirmed as Saturday January 5, 3 PM kick-off.

    I hope the Posh Boro won’t get through. Up the red Boro!

    1. Jarkko, but Peterborough have never been known as Boro though, but always as Posh. In fact several years ago I recall Victoria (aka Posh Spice) Beckham considering taking Peterborough United to court for using her nickname when in fact they had been known as Posh long before she was born.

      Interestingly Stevenage Borough dropped ‘Borough’ from their title a few years ago, yet I believe they are still referred to as Boro by the media. I’m not sure whether Scarborough were ever referred to as Boro, but the now extinct Wigan Borough spent ten seasons in the old Third Division North playing at Springfield Park. The current club of Wigan Athletic is a new club formed in 1932 by the merger of Wigan Town, Wigan United and Wigan County, a year after the demise of Wigan Borough. They did however also play at Springfield Park but now play in the DW Stadium which they own but lease out to the town’s Rugby League Club.

      DW are the initials of an ex-footballer who played fullback for Blackburn Rovers in the 1960 FA Cup Final against Wolves, but was unfortunately carried off with a broken leg. That FA Cup Final was refereed by Kevin Howey, the youngest at the age of 35 to do so, and he hailed from Middlesbrough.

      As the actor Michael Caine used to say ‘not a lot of people know that’, but I knew if I rambled on long enough, I’d get back to Middlesbrough.

      1. Ken, the local paper of Scarborough always refer the football team as The Boro. Many a time my heart has flipped when reading the headlines on billboards the Boro going broke or signing a player from the Daleside league or the other.

  79. I was at the match on Saturday, it was a hard watch. The weather was bloody awful and the footie little better.

    We were undone by fast paced wingers getting past the full backs and turning the defence. George had a mare and Shotton was little better. But to ‘blame’ those two alone would be wrong, the whole performance was weak.

    We have no attacking flair in the team and therein lies the rub, if you cant put your opponents under sustained pressure through attacking then your defence will come under constant strain. Up until recently the defensive side of our game has been superb, but it looks like the pressure is starting to tell.

    Blaming the manager is a little short sighted I think , he has done a good job with limited resources so far. TP warned us all in August that we hadn’t bought the attacking/flair players we need and he hinted promotion would be a challenge, so it is proving.

    We may be able to sustain a top six finish if we can get the defensive side of the game back on track, but unless we can miraculously find a couple of ‘flair’ players in January who can then also ‘bed in’ to the team pretty much instantly then I suspect we are in for another Championship season next year.

    I can live with that, TP is a good manager, give him time to build the right team, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Currently we aren’t good enough , not because the tactics, selection or shape are wrong, the simple fact is the squad isn’t good enough.

    Steve Gibson has for a long time being regarded as one of the best if not the best Chairman in professional football, that hasn’t changed, be very careful of what you wish for.

    Not for me a foreign Chairman who wants to rebrand us as ‘Cleveland Cowboys’ or change the shirt colour because its the national colour of Azerbaijan or where ever.

    My Boro has Steve Gibson in charge, long may that situation last, yo yo club? So be it.

  80. Guedioura and Nuge both on the bench in tonight’s Battle Of The Exes. Or in managerial terms, the new guy vs. The Ex.

    Intriguingly MonksBrum cancelled out a MoggaRovers 2-0 lead within a couple of minutes.

  81. One of the most memorable games between Posh and Boro came in 2012-13. An early double from Haroun put us in control, seemingly, but Dwight Gayle, then, amazingly, on loan from Dagenham and Redbridge (!!), netted a brace. The impetus was with Posh until Ish Miller’s shot took the points for Boro.

    Also in Posh’s frontline were George Boyd and one Lee Tomlin.

  82. BBD

    The difference between Brexit and the Boro is

    One you vote with your hands when you
    Put your cross on the paper

    The other is you vote with your feet


  83. Well as we get ready for what could be a crucial week for Boro and Tony Pulis, the supporters are hoping for some festive cheer and are looking to receive the gift of a Carabao Cup semi-final place and that seemingly long-forgotten feeling of the sweet smell of victory delivered in a small bottle and gift-wrapped with three vital points. So here is my take on the coming week with the discussion blog article…

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