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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.

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  1. GC345

    March 25, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    I am beginning to think that it is almost too late for Boro to save the season. I think they need to win the next three matches as I don’t see them taking points off of Arsenal or Manchester United. If they end up with only a draw, or worse a loss, from the Bolton match this weekend, that might be enough to write off the season.

    Gibson might not be looking at relegation as an entirely bad situation. He’s sunk a lot of money into the club and not seen much progression. Relegation would allow the sale of some players and the parachute payments to perhaps clear up some debt. Maybe the thinking is that a step down would be the best thing for them. The thing they should be fearing is that if they do go down, that they’ll not get back up for quite some time as has happened to Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Wolves, Sheffield Wednesday, etc.

  2. Gavin

    March 25, 2009 at 9:19 am

    WE’ve got to stick with Mr Southgate. He will become one of the UK’s great managers in years to come. Sometimes you have to take one step backwards to go two steps forward.

  3. Paul Bestall

    March 25, 2009 at 7:25 am

    Thanks for the pleasantries bulldetector. I’ve included a scan of a letter sent to fans that you claimed didn’t happen.

  4. bulldetector

    March 24, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Paul, if you can’t get it right you shouldn’t be a messenger at all. It was well documented in the media, by real journalists. Go and read how it is done.

  5. Paul Bestall

    March 24, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Bull detector, the Boro fan i work with told me about it. DOn’t shoot the messenger.

  6. Chris Walker

    March 24, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Boro really do look like a sitting duck right now but if 8 games enough to close a 4 point gap at the top of the table im sure it is enough at the bottom. The thing with Boro and Southgate is that noone can deny that they are a worse team than the one that took over. I think it says a lot for the Riverside club that they have a stiker on loan…from WIGAN. Oh and a twelve million quid brazillian misfit. Still i bet Bobby Zamora’s available.

  7. bulldetector

    March 24, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    “Before the last home game, Season ticket holders were contacted to ask them not to boo the team, manager or stand up during games at the Riverside, a bizarre decision that had me scratching my head.”

    It should do, as it didn’t happen.

  8. Mark Appleton

    March 24, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Very good article.

    Problem with the way that MFC is structure, there is no one to step in and question the chairmans decisions as he is the only person in charge. Everyone else are “yesmen” who just want to keep their jobs.

    I am considering not renewing if Southgate is still here in the summer. It’s sad that I will have to do this but I feel it is the only way the club will sit up and listen to the fans.

    Southgate has wasted Millions on players and now we are skint because of it. He has been manager for nearly 3 seasons now and as he build his own team it gets worse and worse. It has been over 18 months since we have come from behind and beaten a team. 1 win in 18 games. no away goal for 10 hours. It is time to go.


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