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.

Everton game highlights our deficiencies.

Five league games in and our tried, tested and successful style of play and formation are looking suspect and are under scrutiny in the top flight.
Teams seem to have cottoned on to our set in stone formation, our distinct lack of pace has been highlighted and our frailties in defence exposed.
Everton showed us up in the cup last season and again on Saturday. The Toffees have shown how playing one up front should operate. They have a centre-forward who is big, strong, quick, aggressive and who scores goals on a regular basis. They have full backs and midfielders who flood their opponents box at every opportunity. They can play it short or long and they are also littered with pace.
As a former striker and an attacking minded person, our style at time infuriates me, slow, laboured, square with back passes galore.
On Saturday when were trailing 3-1 down, we would play the ball from fullback to centre back, then into the midfield, back to the defender, then back to the goalkeeper. I understand that totally if you are winning 3-1, but that wasn’t the case. With only Negredo up top against two centre-backs we are reluctant to hit it long for fear of coming straight back, so we keep possession and eventually give it back to our opponents when we venture over the halfway line. I honestly believe that Boro has got some very talented players who have got the shackles on and look restrained from expressing their attacking influential credentials. I said the same things last season despite our success, at times it looks as if we have six Ray Wilkins in the team with our crab-like passing. Watford have proved you can stay in the top flight playing two up front and in Ighalo and Troy Deeney they have two centre-forwards who are good on the eye, create, score goals and they harass and hunt as a pair. Since their return to the top flight, they have scored 64% of Watford’s league goals.
If under-par performances and results continue to go against us something will have to give. I would love nothing better than to see Rhodes or Nugent be given the opportunity to form a partnership with Negredo obviously, that decision is down to the manager.
Lets put things in perspective it’s still early days, players are still finding their feet and the manager and players are still trying to become accustomed to top flight football.
At home we need to be more influential, attacking minded and more creative. I think our premiership status will depend on how well we do in our home games.
Let’s hope we start on Saturday against Spurs.

Don’t forget the Gary Parkinson night on 6th October, we still have 70 tickets to sell Parky still needs our help desperately so please come along and support him.
Don’t forget Parky is a local lad who played for his home town team and wore the shirts with pride. He helped us through difficult times during the liquidation scenario.
Now it’s our turn to help him.

Gary Parkinson evening

DATE OCTOBER 6TH
Doors open at 7.30pm

Petch’s Pie and peas will be served.

Evening to include the 86 team as guests.
A comedian, auction and raffle

TICKET COST £25 Per person.

Venue
Whinstone View
Great Ayton
Middlesbrough
TS9 6QG

For more info click on shop bernieslaven.co.uk
Or call 07403478998

86 TEAM RALLY ROUND TO HELP OUT.

On Thursday 6th October, I am arranging an evening to raise funds for my former teammate and friend Gary Parkinson.
Parky was tragically struck down with locked-in syndrome.
He can only communicate with his eyes and is paralysed from the neck downwards.
Despite being greatly supported buy his loving family Parky still needs 24hr professional care to be able to remain in his own home.
For those who don’t know Parky here is a brief summary. He grew up in Thornaby and played over 200 games for his boyhood heroes Middlesbrough FC. He was a cultured right back, who chipped in with several special goals. He was involved in the liquidation scenario and gained 3 promotions the last was when we got promoted into the Premiership back in 1992.
I have personally been in touch with all the 86 team and they have all confirmed that they will be there on the night to support Parky.
The night itself will be informal, Petch’s pie and peas will be served and we will have a comedian and a chat with the players, then an auction and raffle.
All funds from this evening will go to Parky.

TICKET COST £25 Per person.

Venue
Whinstone View
Great Ayton
Middlesbrough
TS9 6QG

For more info click on shop bernieslaven.co.uk
Or call 07403478998

Please come along and help Parky out let’s have the spirit of 86 back for the evening.

If any businesses would like to donate raffle or auction prizes please also get in touch.

New season new players new goals.

I will be the first to admit that I’m not a big fan of pre season games and I witnessed nothing on Saturday against Real Sociedad to change my opinion. The games are simply for the players not the spectators. they are about fitness, working on your touch, getting to know your new team mates. If you are a striker it’s good to grab a goal and defenders thrive on keeping clean sheets. I had to laugh at the team sheet and the substitutions which included three goalkeepers. The team that started the game should be pretty much the team that lines up against Mark Hughes Potters.
I am really excited for the start of the new season after a seven year absence it is fantastic that we are back in the premier league.
Boro’s transfer business has got me fired up especially Victor Valdes and Alvaro Negredo, both of those transfers have the wow factor. Negredo fits the bill perfectly with Aitor Karanka favouriting the lone striker.
He is a big powerful lad. he is good with his back to goal, a good link up player and he has proven at this level he can score goals. Rhodes and Nugent are less suited to the role. I am first to admit that I would have struggled to score goal in the current Boro set up. I did not have the physical strength or ariel power to cope with the demands of being a lone front man.The arrival of Valdes and Brad Guzan have cast doubt over Dimi and where that leaves him next season. If I was him I would be knocking down the managers door asking him to judge me on my merits and not against backgrounds, fees or reputation of the new arrivals.I did the same when £1 million signings Davenport and Payton arrived at Boro under bruce Rioch and Lennie. All sorts of question marks get attached to players when a side has being promoted to the top flight. Will they be good enough to cope with the difference in levels, can they score goals? Pundits openly doubted whether I would be able to score consistently in the top flight back in 1989. I remember been asked if I was confident about hitting the back of the net on a regular basis and I said that if I got the service I was sure I would. The goals are the same size after all! I ended up finishing third top scorer behind Liverpool’s John Aldridge who’s team finished second and Arsenals Alan Smith who won the league and don’t forget we were relegated. You don’t know if some players can handle the step up unless you give them a chance. Some players you might have doubts about end up handling the transition with ease, while others that you thought would strive end up struggling.
Our goal this season is to stay in the division and I’m super confident we will achieve that especially with the continental style of football we play.

Fulham in the Cup away from home, let’s hope we don’t neglect it, let’s hope we can stay in all competitions for as long as possible.

Premiership here we come.

7 has always been my favourite number ever since I was a kid.
I was fortunate enough to wear the no 7 jersey for the majority of my 382 games for Middlesbrough FC.
Now after 7 years in the wilderness, we have finally made it back into the Premier League.
Gaining promotion is not just about the football club, it’s about the town and the community, its great for the area and it puts us back on the map.
The game and the occasion was very emotional and nervy.
I have never witnessed an atmosphere like it since the days of the road to Eindhoven.
I was delighted for everyone concerned, the players Aitor Karanka and his staff, the fans and of course chairman Steve Gibson.
During my 30 years in the area I have regarded Steve Gibson on many occasions as the King of Teesside and after our return to the promised land his crown is firmly in place.
Since his appointment of AK he has backed him financially to the hilt and steadied the ship during the choppy waters of the walk out.
To witness the sheer delight on his face at the end of the game was a joy to behold.
I have known Gibbo for years and he has no airs and graces, he is a down to earth guy, he loves to play the game and loves this football club.
He is passionate, loyal and addicted there is not a guy in football that deserves it more than him.
The one thing that I admire greatly about Steve is that he supplies the goods, for his team and then sits in the shade, he never craves media attention.
I’m sure he had a restless sleep on Friday night with a reported £200 million riding on the result.
He will be able to sleep well over the summer knowing that we will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United,and Arsenal next season.
It was great to have the fans chanting Ali Brownie’s name again and very emotional to see a pic of Ali on the big screen.
I would have loved to have heard Ali’s comments after today’s success on Heaven radio.
That pleasure will go to all them Boro fans alongside him they will all be having It will be one hell of a party.

BERNIES BOLT 27th April 2016

Last week I praised the away point at Burnley, but on Saturday, a point at home against an average Ipswich team, in front of our 30,000 plus crowd, was majorly disappointing.
As we all predicted, it turned out to be a tense, nervy affair both on and off the pitch.
Boro’s passing was erratic, and example of that was Ayala four times in succession, he tried to pick out Adomah on the right and four times the ball went out of play.
The left side looked frail with the absence of George Friend in the last third.
On another day, we would have scored four or five, but we could have played till next Saturday and not scored, it was just one of those days.
Of course, it is still in our hands, but we all know we cannot afford any more slip-ups.
I read quotes after the game that we’re tired, and the legs and heads are tired. I understand that to a degree.
With the stakes been so great, it creates pressure, nerves, and vulnerability, which in return can disrupt performances and drain energy levels.
I have, to be honest, and say, in my eight years at Middlesbrough, whether we were chasing promotion automatically, via the playoffs, or we were involved in a relegation dogfight. I never once heard the manager or players mention the work tiredness.
Talking about tiredness publicly I have always thought is an insult to the paying public. And it hands the players an excuse if they don’t deliver.
If certain players are tired, it is of paramount importance that we go up automatically, as opposed going into playoffs, with possibly three extra games.

Good luck against Birmingham.
UTB.

Reds Football Academy is growing.
We have opened more venues this week and look forward to seeing any new footballers that want to be coached by the best coaches in the area at our Middlesbrough, Billingham or Ingelby Barwick sessions.
For more info, please call 07403478998.

BERNIE’S BOLT 20th April 2016

I laughed when I read Aitor Karankas quotes ahead of the game against Burnley when he claimed the Clarets can have “no excuses” if they fail to achieve promotion.
Aitor went on to say “ Imagine if I had a team with ten to thirteen players from the premier league and my chairman sent me Gray and Tarkowski and other players, maybe we would be in the premier league in February.” Of course, it was mind games and kidology.
Sean Dyche tried similar tactics at the start of the season when he was quoted as saying. The “Pressure is on” Middlesbrough FC to clinch promotion this season, after a summer spending spree.
He went on months later to sarcastically say he has no problems with Boro’s spending spree, splashing out more than £15 million on Downing, Stuani, Nugent and De pena.
Let’s be honest Aitor Karanka and Sean Dyche, deserve to be under the spotlight and pressure due to the talent they have got at their disposal, and the financial clout they have been given.If either fails to clinch promotion it would be disastrous and classed as failure, I’m sure they are both aware of this. Up until now both their teams have handled the pressure very well.
Any point away from home is classed as a good one.
We all know it was gut-wrenching losing a goal at ninety odd minutes. But remaining in pole position is a psychological boost. The overall winners on the night were Brighton. What a turn around they have had since we thrashed them 3-0, and credit must go to my former Republic of Ireland team-mate Chris Hughton.
On the subject of my Republic of Ireland, team mate big Mick McCarthy he brings his Ipswich team to the Riverside on Saturday. I’m fed up hearing people saying they have nothing to play for. I recall playing against Leicester City back in 1988 on the final day of the season at Ayresome Park.
The Foxes had nothing to play for we had to win to go up automatically. Everyone thought we just had to turn up and turn them over. We were beaten 2-1.
There is no doubting it will be a tense affair, but I’m confident we can take all three points providing our standards of recent weeks don’t drop.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Jordan Rhodes on his recent goal haul. Let’s hope he continues banging them in for the remaining games.

BERNIES BOLT 13th April 2016

What a remarkable turnaround in fortunes since the well documented fiasco within our football club.
Five straight victories speaks volumes and sitting top of the League with five games to go is an indication what kind of characters we have within the dressing room. Credit must go to the squad of players and the management team for putting their differences to one side and focussing on the only thing that matters, for Middlesbrough Football Club, our route back to the Premiership.
Certain players could have moped, caused disruption or switched off. But I have witnessed no evidence of that whatsoever.
I’m not saying that we have been good on the eye or played scintillating, free flowing football. But we have been united, dogged and determined to grind out results and each and every one of them deserves the credit.
As someone who has experienced fall-outs and getting promoted into the Premier League with Middlesbrough back in 1992, when we defeated Wolves at Molineux.
My advice to the lads would be to go out, enjoy and savour every minute of the remaining games.
Try to enjoy and soak up the pressure.
Pressure of fighting relegation is a damn sight greater. I can assure you I have sampled both.
Togetherness, mental toughness, belief, and focus are the key to our success.
Now is not the time for glamour, it’s not about impressing the purists, it’s about points on the board.
In hindsight if that clear the air meeting had not taken place our Premiership dreams could have been in tatters.
The celebrations after Forshaw’s 94th-minute winner were as good as I’ve witnessed for a long, long time.
The player’s piling up on top of each other, the fans nearly took the roof off The Riverside. Myself and former teammates Gary Pallister and Colin Cooper were hugging each other along with strangers.
A victory on Saturday against Bolton would indicate even to me as a pessimist, that this is the year.
UTB

Reds Football Academy announces new venues at Billingham and Ingleby Barwick. We also have our sessions at Middlesbrough. From age 5 upwards, boys and girls welcome. For more info call 07403478998.

Reds Football Academy announces a new venue

Due to the success of Reds Football Academy at the Sports Village in Middlesbrough.
We are looking to progress and branch out in the area.
Reds Football Academy announces a new venue at Bede College in Billingham.
To launch this our first training session will be between 6-7pm on Thursday 14th April, everyone is welcome.
Our Academy coaches are:
Bernie Slaven, Craig Hignett, Curtis Fleming, Jim Platt, Gary Pallister, Lee Bullock and Steve Howey.
For more information and inquires
please phone 07403478998
or email info@redsfa.co.ukreds logo