Everyone at Boro is responsible.

Everyone at our football club is collectively responsible for our demise this season. From our recruitment team to the chairman.
Our negative brand of football, negative tactics, negative results, lack of goals, poor signings in January and promoting from within when AK left, has all been detrimental to our downfall.
We all knew it was going to be difficult. But no one told us it was going to be boring, tedious and at times embarrassing.
We have had 16 games since the turn of the year and no wins. We are the lowest scorers in all four divisions. This sums up our season perfectly and these are the most damning statistics of all. They are not opinion they are fact. For those blinkered, biased, voiceless backslappers out there who don’t like my negative comments, well I’m a realist, not a fantasist and I class myself as an adopted Teessider. I love the area and the people and I love the football club. The team that gave me my opportunity to fulfil my footballing dreams. But I can’t suffer in silence and watch my team surrender our premiership status without having a go and putting up a fight.
I have always regarded chairman Steve Gibson as The King of Teesside. His crown has recently slipped but I’m sure come August it will be firmly back in place.
He is the greatest chairman in the country. The envy of opposing supporters and we should be proud we have him. He has done wonders for the club but he is not infallible, no one is. I am sure he would openly admit, he doesn’t get everything right.
Everything has changed at Middlesbrough Football Club over the year, players, manager and coaches have all come and gone.
Only two things remain the loyal supporters and the loyal chairman. Without these two there would be no club.
UTB.

Something has to change.

After 26 premier league games and with no wins in our last 9, it is quite clear and evident that our style of play, tactics and game plan are not working, we have become a predictable football team.
On the eye we are average and frustrating to view, that’s despite having some very talented individuals. As an attacking force, we continue to be unadventurous cautious and toothless.
A lack of goals confirms this.
The blinkered brigade don’t like negative opinions, well regarding my opinion, it’s driven by what I see, negative opinions don’t lose you games or get you relegated. Negative performances do. At this minute, we as a team are looking doomed, let’s not pussy foot about here, something has to change. For me its one of three things, either AK needs help and assistance from an outsider like Bryan Robson did when Terry Venables arrived to get us out of the mess, although Venables arrived in November, not going into March with only 12 games left. AK has to bin his negative and hesitant approach once and for all and go for it. Or AK has to walk away whilst we still have a glimmer of hope and a chance to turn it around.
We are watching our top flight status evaporate in front of our very eyes, due to the same old boring brand of football every week and nothing is changing.
I have always said that a negative approach and negative tactics, equals negative results.
We need to find a solution and find it quickly.

Boro should look at Burnley as an example.

I was encouraged by our display against Everton, we had a go, we were more adventurous and created a few chances and it was refreshing to see us attack in the latter stages of the game.

Despite our valiant, effort unfortunately the outcome was the same, no goals, our fifth blank in eight games. To say our lack of goals is a concern is an understatement. Everyone locally and nationally continue to highlight that Middlesbrough are the Premier leagues lowest goalscorer.
And by exposing those damming statistics adds even more pressure.

I still question why we have four so called strikers on our books, when only Negredo and Gustede will rotate playing the loan striking role. While Stuani and Bamford will continue to fight for their place on wings.
It’s square pegs in round holes, you get away with anything when you are winning.
Why bring in these so called strikers and not play them through the middle it’s not as if anyone is prolific, untouchable or banging in the goals.

We all know that winning games and scoring goals breeds confidence, but with four defeats and four draws in the last eight games, it must be draining, physically and mentally on the players.
Players like the supporters must be thinking where our next goal and victory are coming from.
Im fed up hearing every time we draw at The Riverside ‘Oh that was a good point against Everton, they are a good team, oh West Brom were well organised, Leicester City, they are premier league champions.’
None of us know what is good and what isn’t at the minute but what I do know we are now 16th in the table because we haven’t and don’t win enough football matches at The Riverside.

Only 3 victories in 12 matches, that is a poor return no matter what division you are in.
Playing in front of 30,000 home supporters is meant to spur you on and be an advantage.
Home territory is meant to become a fortress. Too many average teams have walked in and out with valuable points
.
Look at Burnley as an example, like us they have been adapting to life in the Premier but their home form has been only bettered by Chelsea and Spurs. They have won 9 and thats the reason they wont be in the relegation dog fight.
We as a team are fixated by goals conceded that is why we are in this predicament.
You are not telling me Burnley have a better squad of players than us.

I must congratulate the fans they have been truly magnificent. On match day I sit level with the 12th man. The noise, songs and atmosphere generated is terrific. Sometimes I feel like bringing a drum and joining them to get rid of my frustration.

Lets hope with 13 games remaining we can turn our fortunes around and find the winning formula and give our loyal supporters something to really cheer about. When I was a kid standing in the terraces at Parkhead watching Celtic, when there was a barren spell the fans would sing, ‘Oh we are singing just give us a goal.’ To the tune of John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’.
Maybe that’s a song that is missing from our repertoire.

Being brave is the key to survival.

I put a tweet out on the social network before the Spurs v Boro game “Good luck to Boro today against Spurs, ‘fortune favours the brave lets have a go.’ UTB”
Unfortunately we weren’t brave and we didn’t have a go. We set our stall out from the off to defend, frustrate and try to garb a point.
I would have thought knowing the results of Sunderland and Hull City games this would have been the cue to be more adventurous. Obviously I was wrong, not one shot on target says it all.
Look Spurs for me are a very good side they play attractive football, create chances at will and are up near the top of the division on merit, but not to have a go is a cardinal sin. Especially in our precarious position in the table. I feel as if we are content in getting beaten only 1-0.
At the end of the day its another three points down the drain, that’s now seven league games without a win, with only three goals scored we are now only two points off Sunderland, the team who everybody had written off that now sit bottom of the table.
We continue to play the same brand of football which worked a treat in the championship but that is history. The system, our slow, laboured, negative approach to games is simply not working.
In the last third we are powderpuff and being the lowest scorers in the premier league confirms that. There is a trend to our play we start off cautious, we have a spell of slow, laboured, back and square passes. We have a flurry of attacking play then we go into our shells in the later stages. We really have to change something, mix things up. If things are not going to plan we have to get Negredo and Gestede up the middle or Gestede and Bamford and get balls into the box from any angle of the pitch and get defenders turned.
Sticking to this rigid style of play is simply not working and if you are a knowledgeable Boro diehard and you are genuinely not concerned you are deluded.
Its like watching the same game every week, its becoming laborious.
I am fed up getting told that our priority is staying up. I totally agree with that but I don’t agree that it can only be achieved by playing our over cautious style of play.
Scoring goals is the most difficult thing to achieve in football and we have to find a solution and find it quick.

Not offended by AK’s comments

“The crowd walking out, atmosphere awful, fans demanding a lot of the players and fans needing to understand where we were last season or two seasons ago, they, (fans) knew it would be tough” The quotes of AK after the West Ham game.
If I’m honest, I was surprised but not offended. He is being interviewed after a 3-1 defeat at home to an average West Ham team. His adrenaline is pumping, he is angry, frustrated and feeling the pressure.
Why shouldn’t the manager say exactly how he feels, every Tom Dick and Harry has an opinion on AK and his team.
I have experienced all of the above back in 1989 at Ayresome Park while playing for Middlesbrough against Liverpool in the top flight. We were gubbed 4-0, and a section of our supporters walked out threw their scarves onto the pitch and started signing you’ll never walk alone. For me that was unforgivable, at the time I wasn’t in a position to have a go publicly, as I had missed a team trip to Bermuda due to my flying phobia and I had just been fined two weeks wages.

Don’t forget we had gone third, second to top flight, in consecutive seasons after relegation, bankruptcy and liquidation. The other thing not to forget was Liverpool were beaten on the last day of that season for the title by Arsenal they had players like Barnes, Beardsley and Aldridge, that was an indication how good the side was. Unfortunately fans live for today they are not interested in the past.

Going back to AK quotes do I agree?
Certainly not, the atmosphere I thought was terrific, the fans left when the third goal went in at ninety four minutes. Regarding the season being tough, everyone knew it was going to be tough but I think it is been made tougher by slow, laboured, predictable passing. Our cautious, hesitant, negative approach to games is starting to show in the performances, results and lack of goals.
As a spectacle I enjoyed the West Hame game, it was end to end stuff. Traore was terrific, pace trickery, creativity he ticked all the boxes on saturday, if he were to go to Chelsea it would be disastrous.
In the first half there were two balls played across West Hams six yard box waiting for someone to tap them in and both went a begging. I could have scored at least one now. A fox in the box type player is clearly lacking or is been overlooked.
Our defence this season has received the plaudits and rightly so, but on Saturday they were all over the place. Andy Carroll was outstanding not just from an attacking point of view but defensively. If we had the big geordie, providing he was fit of course, our system would work a great deal better. He is the perfect target man. We now have to find a solution to winning games of football.
We have not won in the last five league games.
Our next league game is against West Brom at the Riverside there is no predicting the outcome. The only thing that is predictable is that it won’t be a game for the purists.
I laughed when I read a fan saying Karanka is one to be having a go at the fans walking out when he walked out last season.
Then I remembered, I walked out as well, one game after been subbed.

Walking out whether your a manager, player or a fan doesnt mean you don’t love the club it means there is a reason.

I am not one of those who are jumping on the bandwagon. I am still fully behind the manager and believe he will keep us in the division but things on the park need to change so we can succeed.

Mixed feelings about Patrick Bamford.

I’VE got mixed feelings about the Patrick Bamford back to Boro transfer.
On the one hand, to me it’s like someone leaving their missus because they think they can find something or someone better, and then returning to the household a couple of years later when they realise that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Bamford has been to other clubs of near or equal stature to Boro – Norwich, Crystal Palace and Burnley – and he has been out in the wilderness and still hasn’t scored a Premier League goal.
I thought Boro have a worldwide scouting network, but over the years we’ve had a habit of bringing players back to Teesside.
Juninho had three spells here. Pally, Colin Cooper and Mark Proctor were here twice and that’s naming just a few.
Bamford is going to need a to get his rhythm back because he’s hardly played any first-team football of late.
But he does have a lot of attributes. I’ve met him a couple of times and he’s a lovely lad, clued-up and intelligent.
He played a lot of games in the Championship up front and out on the right and did very well for Boro and scored goals, although his record in it isn’t as good as Jordan Rhodes’ in the Championship.
But we are in a different league altogether now.
We’ve had an issue out wide, where even natural wingers like Adomah, Carayol, Wildschut, Downing and Fischer don’t seem to have been entirely trusted to do the job.
That’s an area that still needs addressing as far as I’m concerned, and I would still like to see a creative midfielder and winger come in if I was being greedy.
Managers do have a habit of going for players who they know and feel like they can trust, so I’m not surprised to see Bamford back at the Riverside.
The transfer still has an element of gambling about it, because he hasn’t scored in the top flight.
Do I think he has got the ability to? Absolutely.
I definitely think that there is a case of if you can score goals, you can score them anywhere – I’ve done it myself.
But I don’t see Bamford playing a lone centre forward’s role back at the Boro.
The centre halves are a different proposition entirely in the Premier League, and I don’t think he’s strong enough for the lone front man position.
And I don’t see the manager changing a system that has been set in stone for three years and going with two up front, I just don’t.
I think Bamford would be most suited to playing in the hole behind Negredo.
I think he has got the technique and eye for a pass to do that.
Wherever Bamford plays, I hope his return to the club is a success and he breathes new life into his career.
If there is movement in January, it’s an indicator that a manager isn’t entirely happy with his squad.
So full marks to Boro and Karanka for being pro-active and trying to improve the squad in the areas where they think it’s needed.
January is exciting for fans with so many links and rumours doing the rounds, but Gaston Ramirez is one player I want to see stay.
He’s one of our best technicians and someone I would pay to see play.
The Chelsea link to Adama Traore is an eye-catching one.
He’s our most exciting player with his lightning pace, but he’s not the most intelligent from a football IQ point of view yet.
He still needs to get his head up and polish his end product.
Speaking of polishing, I’m sick of hearing the apple-polishing brigade bang on about how good draws are for us.
The rule change from two points to three that was adopted in the English football league in 1981 was designed as an extra incentive for teams to go for victories, ones that can have a big impact on their season.
There’s this mentality that every point is a good point.
Of course it’s better than none, but who’s to say that the potential other two points we haven’t nailed down on numerous occasions in games won’t be just as crucial come the end of the season?
One Boro shot on target against Watford and one against Leicester just isn’t good enough, and I want to see Boro raids forward against West Ham on Saturday have some sort of decisive end to them.
Whether that’s a corner, a shot or whatever.
Boro will have to be on their guard at the back, because Andy Carroll showed what a handful he can be when he is fully fit with that spectacular volleyed goal against Crystal Palace.
I’m still keeping busy with the Reds Academy which a few of us ex-Boro players like Jim Platt and Gary Pallister run for youngsters aged five to 16 at Middlesbrough Sports Village, and in Billingham and Ingleby Barwick.
For further details, phone 07403 478998.

I wish my Da could have seen me pull on the Celtic jersey.

The Glasgow boy is adamant he would have done the same for his beloved Celtic — if only he’d got the chance.
Slaven has few regrets in life. The Middlesbrough legend had a long career at a high level in England and starred for the Republic of Ireland.
But the lifelong Hoops fan would have loved to play just one season with Celtic — for late dad Hugh.
Mr Slaven took his Celtic-daft son all the way to Milan’s San Siro for the European Cup final against Feyenoord in 1970.
Jock Stein’s side lost 2-1 but young Bernie was hooked on the Hoops for life and remains a fan.
There will be split loyalties on Sunday as Albion face Celtic in the Scottish Cup and Slaven just wishes he could call them both former clubs.
He told SunSport: “It was a dream of mine to play for Celtic as a boy and sadly it never happened for me.
“As the years went on and I was doing well for Middlesbrough at a good level, I must admit that the dream evaporated a bit.
“But in hindsight, when I look back on my career, it would have been great to play for Celtic even just for one season and have a go at an Old Firm game.
“My late father would have been so proud to see me out there playing for the club and he did mention that a few times.
“He introduced me to Celtic and even took me all the way to Milan in 1970 for the European Cup final.
“My dad had promised me he would do that if we beat Leeds in the semi-final — and kept his word.
“I was only ten and that was an unbelievable experience that will always live with me.
“In the late 1980s and early 1990s when Billy McNeill and Liam Brady were the managers, there was always a lot of speculation about Celtic being interested in me.
“I heard talk of a £750k bid but there was nothing concrete. I also got the feeling that some people were putting the knife in, saying I was too opinionated.
“I did have an opinion but I know I’d have scored goals for Celtic.
“It was amazing because I saw my Middlesbrough team-mates, Tony Mowbray and Andy Payton, sign for Celtic during that period.
“I was doing the business in England but strangely, I never got the chance to make the same move.”
Slaven spent the early years of his career with Morton, Airdrie and Queen of the South — but shot to fame with Rovers in 1984/85.
Under manager Andy Ritchie’s guidance, he netted 31 goals to become the top scorer in Scotland.
But his time there ended soon after on a sour note — with Slaven leaving after a bitter dispute.
Inspired by a journalist friend, he wrote to dozens of clubs in Scotland and England asking for a trial. Incredibly, Hearts were the only Scottish club to even acknowledge his letter as Slaven headed south to Middlesbrough.
The striker impressed and spent the next eight years scoring goals for Boro — becoming a cult hero in the process.
Slaven said: “Big Andy gave me a free role at Albion and I have a lot to thank him for because I enjoyed that period.
“It was a chance to do something in football and I was grateful to Albion at the time.
“But we didn’t part on good terms. I won the top scorer award and got a bit of publicity off the back of doing it. I wanted to move on and they offered me peanuts to stay there. They then banned me from training and I had to get fit on my own.
“Andrew Gold, a reporter from the Weekly News, did a piece asking why Scotland’s top scorer didn’t have a club.
“It was his idea to send all the letters to the clubs across Britain. A lot of the English clubs gave me the courtesy of a reply.
“The big disappointment was that the only Scottish club to get back to me was Hearts. I had just been the top scorer in the country!
“But I scored a lot of goals at Middlesbrough and it was a great move for me. And over 30 years on, I still work at the club on a matchday.”

Slaven also keeps a close eye on Scottish football and has been impressed by the job Brendan Rodgers has done at Celtic.
Famous for his outspoken views, the 56-year-old labelled the football played by the Hoops under Ronny Deila as “dross”.
Rodgers has brought the swagger back to Celtic — but Slaven insists the Treble-chasers can’t be too cocky against Darren Young’s League One Albion.
He said: “There are always upsets in cup competitions but Albion Rovers winning would be one of the biggest giant-killing acts ever.

Striking dilemma

We travelled to Southampton knowing that the Saints would adopt similar tactics to ourselves and that a goal fest was never on the cards.A 1-0 either way would satisfy either manager. Unfortunately for us Southampton grabbed it.
After conceding early into the second half I was expecting a couple of substitutes to come off the bench to try and change the course of the game and our fortunes.Traore came on with nine minutes to go, not enough time to make an impact.
I will be honest I was probably as surprised as Jordan Rhodes that he started.His confidence must be rock bottom,lower than a snakes belly.This season he has been overlooked, neglected and isolated. He has been on the bench, left out and been introduced for four minute spells.Should he be in before Negredo?No.
Should we have bought him? No
Does he have the qualities to play upfront on his own? No.
Is he a natural goalscorer? Yes.
Has he been given a fair chance? No.
Could he form a partnership with Negredo? Yes.
Will this ever happen? No.
Will he be off in January? Yes.
I would question why Stuani who arrived at the club as a striker and who continues to play on the wing did not start up the middle in the lone furrow role?
For me he continues to be a square peg in a round hole.Rhodes and Nugent are clearly not rated or equipped to play the lone striking role and by failing to play Stuani through the middle when there was an opportunity is maybe a indication that he doesn’t fit the bill either.
My concern is and has been this season is what happens if Negredo gets injured and is ruled out for two months rather than one game? Let’s hope and pray this doesn’t happen .
But what do we do who fills the gap?
The dynamics of the side goes to pot.
Let’s hope when the window opens a striker with the qualities to play that isolated, demanding,unrewarding role arrives.
In my heart of hearts I think there is more chance of a central defender being signed.

Home form is key.

Once again Boro have proved that we can compete, battle, scrap and create against the Premierships big guns. Traditionally that has always been the case during my 30 years on Teesside when people write us off, don’t give us an earthly, that is when we as a club are at our most dangerous.
Against Arsenal and Man city its was proved that you write us off at your peril.
Against Arsenal, in my opinion, that was our most impressive team display for a long time. After the initial 15 minutes, we were terrific, we were solid in defence, direct and creative in attack. To be brutally honest we should have won. Traore’s pace was electric and terrified the Gunners rearguard every time he ran at them.
Against Bournemouth, our 2 goals were top drawer. Ramirez showed all his qualities, pace,trickery and composure to score the first. Some say it reminded them of my ex-team mate John Hendrie’s goal against Millwall back in 1990. For me Hendies just shaded it. The second wasn’t bad either, Traore’s pass outside the foot, Negredo’s cushioned header into the path of Stu Downing and he finished it off.
Against Manchester City on Saturday at the Etihad we took a pounding for 45 mins, we sat very deep a mixture of poor finishing and Valdes heroics kept us in the game. Our passing and distribution out of defence at times was poor.
In the second half, we came to life and went into attacking mode and had players flooding into City’s box at every opportunity. We got our reward thanks to a De Roon bullet header after a great cross from George Friend. We richly deserve the plaudits for our last three performances. Now we have to address our home form starting with Chelsea. We have to turn the Riverside into a fortress. Average sides this season have come to our patch and mugged us. 3 defeats, 1 draw and 1 win is a poor return no matter how you try to camouflage it. Our home form is what will rubber stamp our Premier league status.
My biggest concern, 11 games in is scoring goals. We have not got one player we can hang our hat on to score goals on a regular basis. Negredo has not scored in his last 9 games, in any other team he would probably be left out but as it stands at the minute he has no competition. Rhodes is being frozen out, Nugent very seldom features and Stuani when he plays is out wide. I’m a Negredo fan for me he is the only player in our squad who has the credentials to play the lone furrow up front.
So there lies a problem and one that needs addressing in January. Negredo is very good at leading the line, he is strong,good at holding the ball up and looking to bring his team-mates into play but he should and could have scored more than 1 goal. He has had chances, for me he works so hard competing against two centre backs chasing lost causes and inaccurate passes that when a chance comes his way he isn’t sharp enough. I watched MOTD on Saturday night they highlighted the poor service to the Spaniard and how he was isolated in the first half. I have witnessed that picture since he arrived.
I’m peeved off and frustrated as an ex-striker and a Boro fan so how must Negredo feel?
Goals and home form will keep us in the Premier so let’s hope we can start by beating the team we relegated back in 1988.
UTB

My Ma

After a short illness, my Ma Alice passed away on 2/10/2016 at 12.10pm aged 82.

She was smart, articulate, organised, charitable, opinionated and religious.

Throughout her life, she was never a massive football fan but was more or less forced to take an interest because of my involvement.
She heard many a heated debate and argument between my late father and myself regarding Celtic and Middlesbrough but would never get involved.
My Ma was brought up on the South Side of Glasgow and hailed from the Gorbals.

When I was considering my move to Middlesbrough, my Ma arranged for me to talk to Celtic legend Bobby Murdoch, who had went, on to play for Middlesbrough after fourteen glorious years at Parkhead.
Bobby’s mother went to the same Church as my Ma and was more than happy to pass on his number.
As a twenty-four year old getting handed a Celtic legend and European Cup winners, phone number was overwhelming daunting and scary.
I picked up the phone and quizzed him about life in Teesside and about Middlesbrough football club. He was very complementary and the rest is history.

My Ma only attended two of my games throughout my football career. Albion Rovers against Dunfermline Athletic and Middlesbrough against Chelsea at Wembley in the Zenith Cup Final.

While lying in her hospital bed I asked her a few questions, one of them was, what was your proudest moment?
She replied,”You receiving your first Republic of Ireland cap.” This shocked me as I thought it would have been something that she had achieved that would have been her answer.
I find it amazing that she never uttered a word about that don’t forget it was back in 1989/90.

Rest in peace Ma. (Alka)
I hope wherever you end up there is a good singsong.
Thanks for all your guidance support and love along with my Da.
Without both of your support, I would have probably fallen by the wayside.