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Leagues: Championship

Will Southgate Last The Season?

Newcastle and Middlesbrough entered the Championship from the wrong direction yet still boasted two of the most talented squads in the history of the division. With Newcastle’s off-field dramas threatening to do serious damage, many expected Middlesbrough, with their more settled structure, to prosper.

Can Southgate deliver promotion?

Can Southgate deliver promotion?

Newcastle were always likely to lose the likes of Owen and Duff, but with Ameobi hitting the kind of form he hasn’t found for years and the transfer deadline approaching without the departure of Nolan or Taylor, they may have ridden one storm even without a permanent manager. They play Leicester on Monday and few would bet against a home win and a return to the top of the table for the Barcodes.

Things appear pretty rosy for Boro too.

Two away wins, third in the table, Adam Johnson one of the stand-out stars of the league so far and until Nicky Maynard’s double at the weekend, they were yet to concede a league goal.

But watching Gareth Southgate’s flustered post-match interview on the BBC’s refreshingly enjoyable Football League programme, you have to wonder if trouble is lurking around the corner already for the beleagured Boro boss.

This week he lost Tuncay and, perhaps more pertinently, Robert Huth to Stoke. Immediately, Boro’s clean white league sheets were dirtied by Bristol City. Southgate, himself once a first class centre back, must have been fuming with the direct nature of Nicky Maynard’s late winner. Even Maynard himself looked surprised by the freedom the Boro defence offered.

Of course, this may just be a blip and Boro are not the first team and won’t be the last to be undone by the in-form Maynard this season. But let’s take a closer look at Boro’s results so far. Against Sheffield United on the opening evening they were largely lacklustre, although it must be said that the Blades are masters of defending away from home: last season they shipped just 17 in 23. Nevertheless, Boro fans would have been worried by their almost total lack of threat that evening.

Next came two comfortable away wins, the first against a Swansea side struggling to come to terms with the loss of their brilliant manager and a number of key players, and the second against Scunthorpe, a League One side just a few months ago. In short, the results were good, but Boro would have expected to take six points from those games.

A 2-0 home win against Doncaster was also fine but again, with all respect to Donny, the odds on 2-0 would have been rather short and with the quality and resources Boro have, all three of those wins should have been achieved whoever was in charge. Since then, they’ve been knocked out of the Cup by Forest and beaten in their first serious test since their game with Sheffield United.

I’m a big believer that tables mean nothing until at least 10 games in. By that time, all clubs have had a chance to play a variety of teams from up and down the table. Boro’s position bears that belief out. Even though they are third, their only really impressive result was away at Swansea, a team clearly at the start of a major transition.

As Southgate struggled to contain his fury on Saturday he almost looked disturbed by the number of microphones shoved under his chin. He may have the most supportive Chairman in the country in his corner, but he is still under enormous pressure. If he thought the spotlight would be a little dimmer in the Championship, Saturday’s defeat will have set him right.

When the league resumes after the bothersome international break, Boro face a slowly improving Ipswich, the unpredictably dangerous Sheffield Wednesday and the impressive West Brom within a single week. After those three games we should have a clearer picture of Southgate’s ability to keep Boro in that top three – and of the likelihood of him lasting the season at the Riverside.

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  1. cas

    September 2, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    as a boro fan i think the problem is at the very top mr gibson
    When we went down he promesed on the radio live we would sign good players to get us back in the prem first time of asking
    Well here we are where are these player you promesed
    In a nut shell LIAR

  2. Dan Trelfer

    August 31, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Cheers guys – that’s really interesting stuff not covered very well in the national presses at all where Gibson has a perfect image.
    I can certainly see your points, but on the other hand Gibson might argue that had Southgate done his job properly and not taken Boro down, most of this would not be an issue? Or have the problems been occurring for a while now?
    Have to say, I’ve never thought much of Southgate as a manager (In fact, I think in general it’s unwise to appoint a first-time manager because they make too many mistakes they can’t undo – second time around, the good ones try to avoid those mistakes!) but perhaps Gibson should have fired him last season…

  3. Clint Thrust

    August 30, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    I`m with Peter ( above ) Southgate is the patsy for Gibbo and Butcher Lamb .
    I know one of Gibbos employees very well , and if half of what he says is right , then Boro are staying where they are . S.G. wont sack G.S. ( it will cost too much ) , so G.S. needs to resign to balance the coffers ( hes also a high earner ) .Whats the best way to get G.S. to resign ? give him no money and get the fans on his back of course , keeps Gibbo clean in the eyes of the fans ! Only rumour of course , but its happened at so many other clubs , a new manager comes in , and suddenly there`s wads of cash for him .

  4. Peter Swallow

    August 30, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I am no fan of southgates but I really feel for him. He is going to get all the flack for the mistakes and actions of our chairman this transfer window.

    During Season ticket deadline time, Gibson made promises these have not only being broken, the complete opposite as happened. Everyone expected players to leave but we expected money to be available possibly even Southgate, thats not the case and we are now lacking all over the pitch and its Southgates fault, he made it clear he wanted to keep Huth by making him captain.

    Yet the despite the obvious interference of our chairman, people are still defending him for past achievements and putting his money into the club, that now look dubious considering all the debt, and therefore the coming failure will be put on an undeserving Southgates shoulders.

    He said post match that he expects more to go, we hope and pray this is Alves and Shawky, but its more like to be one of or both of Johnson and Wheater. If this happens I think he will walk by friday.

    As a boro fan our only hope, and Southgates only hope. Is if we can get Marlon King on loan and hope he isnt sent down

  5. Mike

    August 30, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    The key could be who he can bring in and whether he’s allowed any funds after seeing so many of his star players sold. It’s a sticky one for him. The first few matches suggested he could prevail as long as the squad was kept intact but that obviously isn’t going to happen and now we’re really going to see his managerial measure.

    His post-match comments were the sound of someone who’s thoroughly fed up and willing to make veiled criticisms against the Board. Could this be the first step to his disillusioned resignation?

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