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Middlesbrough Are In Freefall

Why can everyone else see Middlesbrough’s problems but Steve Gibson? Whilst his support for Southgate is edifying, it worries me that the Chairman seems so detached from the situation Boro are in by continuing to back Southgate over the evidence of results, performances and the fans. Yet by backing Southgate, Steve Gibson is in danger of losing the support of the fans at the Riverside.” The magic wand in our situation is not sacking Gareth Southgate, but if I was to sack Gareth Southgate at this stage, how would it help the situation” I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news Mr Gibson, but teams that sack managers tend to hit a real vein of form for the next 8 games. Middlesbrough only have 8 games left. Portsmouth have so far collected 8 in 5 matches after removing Tony Adams. That could be enough to save your Premiership status.

Before the last home game, Season ticket holders in the South East block were contacted to ask them not to make noise unless the team were attacking or stand up during games at the Riverside, a bizarre decision that had me scratching my head. When you’ve a stadium full of fans who aren’t happy with the manager and his tactics, pointing the finger of blame at fans smacks of desperation. Southgate himself had a go at the fans after the lucky draw against Portsmouth after they chanted “We’ve only got one player” highlighting Tuncay’s efforts in comparison to his team mates.

Some chants were disrespectful. The crowd had a right to laud his efforts but we win and lose as a team, the other lads may not have been as eye catching but they made important saves, blocks and interceptions” Continuing on his blame shifting, Southgate claimed it was “Hurtful to some of the other players, We survive as a club and a town by pulling together.”

It comes to something when a football manager tries to put such positive spin on Middlesbrough’s dire run by accusing the fans of being disrespectful and upsetting players. It reminds me of Steve Mclaren’s hellish period in charge of England, when he consistently tried to spin dreadful performances, such as drawing away in Israel and at home to Macedonia as good results. Southgate must be living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks the fans can have the wool pulled over their eyes by being blamed for a run that has seen them pick up just 10 points in 18 games.Tony Adams was sacked by Portsmouth after collecting 13 points in 16 games. Make of that what you will.

The fans want to know how can they beat Liverpool but lose to Stoke and I can’t explain it. Fair enough, the win against Liverpool was fortunate, as the Reds had chance after chance after chance and just couldn’t score and that win is the only reason they’re not joint bottom of the Premiership with West Brom. I honestly can’t see Middlesbrough getting the two wins they need to even get of the bottom 3 in their next 4 matches with tough trips to Bolton and Arsenal, they need maximum points in home games against Hull City and Fulham.

West Brom look dead and buried unless they hit title winning form and the trap door is opening under Middlesbrough. With Gibson refusing to act now, it looks as if Boro are destined to join them unless a footballing miracle occurs. Yet, with relegation a real possibility, is Gibson going to remove Southgate in the Summer? Relegation would see them lose Downing, Tuncay and probably O’Neill to remove all the flair and guile that the side currently have. What quality of player can Southgate attract to the Riverside? His transfer record doesn’t hold much hope for anyone of genuine quality joining Boro whilst he’s in charge. Afonso Alves looks a worse buy every game he plays, a white elephant that cost £12 million pounds. A promotion charge under Southgate looks as far away as Michael Owen staying at Newcastle United.

Sometimes a Chairmans support for a manager can be positive, but sometimes it can smack of sheer bloody mindedness and unfortunately for Middesbrough fans, Steve Gibson’s stance falls into the latter. For Middlesbrough’s fans, the chairman needs to stop hoping for something to happen and keep Middlesbrough in Premiership, unfortunately without Gareth Southgate, otherwise I fear the Boro are doomed.