With 9 games remaining and a poultry 7 points out of 36, you would have to be on the borderline of insanity to put your money on Middlesbrough gaining promotion into the Premier League, but in this mad game of football, you write us off at your peril. There is no doubt there will be more twists and turns up until the final whistle blows on the last day of the season.
So what has gone wrong since the turn of the year? The obvious is loss of form, square pegs in round holes, no continuity and only one January signing. I personally think it runs much deeper than that. With the season almost over there are a lot of players who know that they will be shown the door come the end of the season.Part of the problem is that players that know they are being shown the door are concerned about their future and the future of their families. Do you honestly believe that these players will pull out all the stops knowing that they are surplus to requirements. I know from experience the majority wont. I will give you an example back in 1991 the then boro manager Colin Todd told the players and made it public that players would be shown the door if we gained promotion. We played Notts County in the play offs, needless to say we failed to gain promotion. I personally had switched off. I went out with the intention to be professional but there was something deep inside, saying if you do the business, the manager gets the plaudits, keeps his job and your out.
Wether you liked me as a player or didn’t no one could have questioned my loyalty. I spent just under 8 years at the club and clocked up 380 odd games, scoring 147 goals, but when this scenario arose it was simple, it was Colin Todd or me. Thankfully I remained.To simplifiy it I loved Middlesbrough, the club, the town, the people, that’s why I’m still here after 26 years. So if someone with the love affair, I had and have still for the club, can switch off at a vital stage of the season, why can’t these fly by nights switch off? With the performances I have witnessed recently, I believe there is more than one of them that has switched off.
I would like to ask if we don’t make it back into the Premiership this season, where are we heading, when will we stop selling our star players,when will we start buying players and how long can Steve Gibson continue to pay a record £1 million a month out of his own pocket to keep the club afloat?
Quite clearly as a football club we are fighting against the tide. My fear is if we don’t make it this season we will never return to top flight football. The reason for this would be that the teams that get relegated have an unfair advantage, they will receive a parachute payment of £48 million over the next 4 years, while we Middlesbrough continue to stagnate with no financial resources. I find it astonishing that 3 premier league teams who get relegated are rewarded astronomical amounts of money for failure.
I have discovered during my time on Teeside that the majority of fans always look for a scapegoat, in my opinion our failings are not down to one individual it’s a collective thing, from the top to the bottom.The chairman no doubt has still got the hunger,desire and ambition to be successful, but unfortunately he doesn’t have the finance. Some people might say , well he shouldnt be chairman and that might be a valid point. But who in their right mind would invest in Middlesbrough at this very minute.
Tony Mowbray has worked wonders with very little backing and in my opinion had the team punching above its weight for the first half of the season, we were sat 6th going into the January transfer window with an opportunity to bring in a couple of players to boost morale and inject confidence and how did we address it with Kieron Dyer who had scored one league goal in 6 and a half years and played 9 games in 3 years. That was certainly not a statement of intent, if anything it was an insult. Jonathan Woodgate came out after Saturdays shambolic display against Bristol City giving the war cry . In my opinion he was the wrong player to air his views and opinions. I have to be honest if someone like Woody was having a go at my performance and standards, I would have to remind him that he is forever injured and has rarely done the job he was employed to do. I would be raging that a player who is regularly injured and seldom plays criticises me and my job. That in itself tells me there is a lack of harmony in the dressing room.