Everyone round Whinstone View for a parmo. A night to celebrate Ali.

Its two years today since Ali Brownlee tragically passed away.
I was fortunate and blessed to have known Ali and I worked alongside him on 500 Boro games, including 5 Cup Finals.
We also picked up a New York Radio award.

Ali was charismatic, loud, biased, blinkered, knowledgeable, passionate and his commentary was legendary and will live in the memory.

On April 19th I am holding a night to remember Ali at Whinstone View in Great Ayton.
Tickets will be priced £25 with Ali’s favourite, Parmo and chips on the menu.
All proceeds from the night will go to the Mike Findley MND fund which Ali was patron of. To raise money and awareness for motor neurone disease that has no cure.

On the night will be entertainment from several of the people Ali was closest to and worked alongside.
Also Boro TV days footage will be on the screen.

We are looking for this to be a memorable, nostalgic, fun evening to celebrate Ali’s life.

Booking via the shop on my website Bernieslaven.co.uk.

Or call 07403478998.

Or Email seven.enterprises@hotmail.co.uk

Pauls passing is another indication that there is no justice in this world.

On Tuesday evening I was flicking through the social network when I received a txt which informed me that a friend of mine Paul Anderson had passed away, I was shocked and devastated.
A lot of Boro fans may have heard of Paul when he tragically lost his teenage daughter Georgina back in 2013 through Cancer.
Paul had a passion for his family, Boro and animals. He was Funny and charming and full of one liners, he was one of life’s good guys and raised loads of money for charity. He also supported me in some of my charity work.
Paul and his best friend Paul Gilmore were my first guests of this season in the Legends Lounge and both were great company and in good form.
Pauls passing is another indication that there is no justice in this world.

My thoughts and prayers are with all of Pauls family at this sad time.

If you would like to donate as this is what Paul was passionate about doing and raising awareness please help the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Attacking flair is the key to our success.

In our opening 5 league games of the season, I have enjoyed our more adventurous, creative, entertaining approach and mentality.
The only game we faltered, stuttered and spluttered was against Preston, on the day we were awful it was like watching a performance under Strachan or A K. One shot on target summed it up.
Despite being away from home for Wolves and Forest we had a go and created numerous chances, but unfortunately lacked the killer instinct.
Against newly promoted Sheffield United and Burton we showed our championship pedigree. There is no doubt that there are still teething problems. We are still looking for telepathy and players gelling. I have always said that you get an idea where we are heading after 12-14 games.
There are several players that I’m looking to produce and make a massive contribution to secure our status back into the top flight Britt Assombalonga our record signing is one of them. He scored two fine goals against Burton Albion. I have enjoyed his energy, attitude, directness, and positioning and I’m sure he will have a healthy goal tally come May. If I have one concern it’s his lack of composure when put in one on one positions against the goalkeeper, where he has time to think about what he is going to do. If you scan his goals at Forest and his two so far for Boro he looks an instinctive striker and that is an art and gift in itself. I have seen similarities to former Boro striker Massimo Maccarone where he has opted for power with his laces as opposed to accuracy. He has tried to burst the ball and the net instead of caressing it into the corners with the inside of his foot. In the course of this season, he will find himself in similar positions and when they come his way he has to be relaxed and composed, ruthless and clinical against the better teams as opportunities may be few and far between.
Adama Traore, we all know what his qualities are and what he is lacking. He is as quick as a Cheetah and has the trickery of a Monkey. These are qualities that defenders are petrified of but unfortunately, he lacks composure, vision and end product. It’s astonishing to think he has not scored a goal for Boro as yet and has only three assists to his credit.
I am hopeful the penny will drop this season and he excels.

Patrick Bamford started the season in good form and is unlucky not to have opened his goalscoring account. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. He is proven at this level and I’m expecting big things from him. He has a good touch, is comfortable in possession, can hold the ball up create and score goals. He just has to nail down a permanent position.
Stewart Downing looked a certainty to depart but lives to fight another day. I’m personally delighted he is staying despite a small section booing his introduction against Preston. I have always liked his style and his retention of the ball and enjoyed watching him score some great goals in the red shirt of Boro. Admittedly since his return, he has not set the heather alight but when you are working under a boring, defensive dictator coach like AK, is it any wonder he faltered? Which attacking minded player shone under AK’s leadership?
If Gary Monk can manage Stewart Downing he could be like a new signing.
And finally, I’m looking for Lewis Baker to make a big impression. He is technically good and possesses two good feet. His goal against Scunthorpe was what I class as a great goal. When he curled and caressed the ball with the inside of his left foot into the bottom right-hand corner, he knew exactly where it was going and I’m sure if he becomes a regular, there will be more goals to follow. He can pick a pass create and likes to play the ball forward against Preston he looked a shadow of the player in the wide position.

I would like to think that the style we have adopted from the off with attacking flair, intention, and mentality, that one or two defeats along the way and the odd boo’s from the supporters doesn’t disrupt our thinking.

I remember Bruce Rioch saying to us. “We are going to play our way out of this division and entertain, not kick our way out.”
We want to do it with style and with the squad, we have assembled I don’t see any reason why we cannot achieve it.

Blue Murder.

I had many ups and downs during my eight years stint on Teesside as a Boro player between 1984-1992. My proudest moment wearing the red shirt of Boro was relegating Chelsea in their own backyard at Stamford Bridge in 1988, In the second leg of the play-off final. On the day we were beaten 1-0, but over the two legs, Boro won 2-1. Senior and Slaven were the goalscorers.
Going from relegation, liquidation and bankruptcy to third, second then first in consecutive seasons, was an unbelievable achievement, with a group of local lads at the helm. A unique period for the football club. Ever since that memorable day I have despised Chelsea. For those that can’t remember the events, when the final whistle went I was nearest to the 10,000 Boro fans that day.I instantly turned and ran towards them. I just took it, all the other Boro players were behind me. As I approached the Boro faithful they looked animated and were pointing over my head, as I turned round, all the players were heading for the tunnel as the Chelsea fans spilled onto the pitch and were causing mayhem. Police appeared on horseback to try and control the Chelsea thugs. I was never quick but seeing the opposition fans running in my direction I would have beaten Linford Christie. As a team, we were locked in the dressing room for at least forty-five minutes, while police cleared the riff-raff off the pitch.
28 years on Chelsea have taken revenge and have returned the compliment. Tonights viewing was a torturous, agonising and excruciating ending to our premier league status.

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.

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.