What did they expect? Barcelona!

TEN GAMES in and we can see the table starting to shape up a bit and Boro are doing OK.

I usually judge it after 12 or 14 games as teams have settled in that little bit more by then but a lot of people go by 10 and that’s good a point as any.
And after 10 you’ve got to say Boro are doing ‘Ok’. I say ‘Ok’ because we’ve had some good results, are starting to find a bit of shape, some new players are bedding in and we are well placed in the pack – but I still think we could do better.
There are still a few little tweaks needed if we want to be up there and competing.
For instance, we need to be cutting out the late goals that are costing crucial points.
We leaked six goals in the last five minutes in the first nine games this season and that has cost us big style.

Derby got an equaliser and that cost us two points, Leicester got a late winner and that cost us another. If we had held out against those we would be right up there.
And we almost leaked another late leveller at Watford at the end there and it was only an incredible save by Jason Steele off his legs that saved it and held onto a precious win.
I don’t know why it is we concede so many so late. We had it for a year or two under Steve McClaren too when it seemed that every game we would leak a goal in what he called the “red zone” right at the end.
I don’t know if it is a lack of fitness and the mistakes creeping in as legs tire; I don’t know if it is bad marking at the back when the other lot are piling on the pressure; I don’t know if it is a mental thing and the team just switch off.
But I do know that we need to cut it out quickly if we are to push on this season.
We need to stop dropping cheap points like that because this is going to be a very tight league this season. Right now you have to say that there are maybe 16 teams who could be in with a shout for a top six place so you can’t afford too many mistakes and slip ups.
Of course, that means it could be a very exciting season for Boro supporters – but it could also be a very nervous one.

Right now, we are in there and we’ve had a solid start.
I know some supporters are a bit unhappy but what we have seen so far – the defeat to Leicester hurt and the Derby game wasn’t a classic – and I can understand a bit of frustration creeping in because you don’t win every games. That’s only natural for fans.
But I don’t understand the ones who are over critical. And I certainly don’t understand the minority who are criticising Mogga and even calling for his head. What?!?

What did they expect? That Boro would turn into Barcelona over the summer?

Mogga has done great so far. You can criticise a selection here or a tactical set-up there but generally, given the cash situation – or the lack of cash situation – he’s doing well.
We are working with mackerel but some people expect to be served salmon!

That doesn’t mean Boro can’t feature in the promotion chase. In a division like this anything can happen and if you can find a bit of consistency and get a bit of momentum – and maybe a get a few lucky breaks – we have as much chance as anyone to be up there come May.
I’ve played in promotion sides. I’ve gone up out of this division twice with Boro so I think I know what it takes, what the ingredients are.
You need to have a strong defence. That is crucial. You need a good keeper – which we have in young Jason Steele – and you need a solid regular back four who know each others’ game inside out.
You need the right blend of strength and skill in there with a bit of nous and bravery and you need to have the same four week in, week out, barring injuries. You can’t be chopping and changing because that introduces hesitation and confusion as to who is supposed to be doing what and that leads to mistakes and goals against.

We have been unlucky with that so far because Jonathan Woodgate and Rhys Williams, who you would say are the first choice central defensive pairing, are out injured but you would think when they are back and fit they could be as good as anyone in the league and if we are still well placed when they are reunited then that will be a big boost.
You also need to be ruthless up front. You need to score. You need a couple of people who can score goals, not just easy ones when you are on top and creating chances but the ones out of nothing in games where you are struggling a bit.

I read that Scott McDonald has a point to prove after being sidelined. Well for me, all the strikers have a point to prove.
Marvin Emnes was top scorer last year with 18 and that’s great – but in the three years before that he didn’t do it on a regular basis. Now he has to show it was no flash in the pan and score regularly again. If he does that, we’ve got a chance.
And Lukas Jutkiewicz too. He came back from injury with four goals in three games and that’s great too but last term he didn’t score too many. He needs to justify his price tag and his hype now and get up to double figures. If he does that then we’ve got a chance.
And Ishmael Miller – he has it all to prove. He may have won promotion before but that was years ago. He barely played last term and he’s been injured since he arrived here.
Mogga may now what Big Ish can do but Boro fans don’t yet. He has to show us quickly.
If we can get three or four people scoring goals at one end and can keep them out at the other then you have the basic ingredients to go up.
On top of that you need a good manager, which we’ve got, mental strength and leadership on the pitch, which you hope we’ve got, and a couple of slices of luck with injuries and the odd key decision.
So I think maybe we have got the basic ingredients, we’ll have to see if they shape up.

Ask me again at Christmas

I APOLOGISE to anyone who choked on their cornflakes or nearly crashed the car if they heard me reading aloud from erotic novels on the radio.

To be fair, with an accent like mine it is hard to make anything sound remotely sexy but I gave it my best shot. I think more people would have turned off than be turned on.
Don’t worry if you didn’t hear it, you never missed much. I was reading out the boring bits in between the hot stuff you couldn’t broadcast anyway.
It was for a new section on Danny Baker’s Saturday morning show on Radio Five Live: “Former Footballers Read Boring Bits From Erotic Novels.”
I know Neville Southall read out a bit last week and Steve Claridge is on next week.
I don’t know how my name came up or how they got my number but his producer rang me up and asked me and I thought it all sounded like a bit of a laugh so I said “why not I’ll give it a go” and she said she’d send me the excerpts.
I expected to get some really hot stuff but this feature really does what it says on the tin and the script I got to read really was very boring.

One bit was from Lady Chatterley’s Lover which I know is a very famous novel that used to be banned in the old days and the other bit was from a racy bodice ripper by a women.
My word it was dull. Read a couple of pages of that before bedtime and you’d nod off.

Not that I know anything about this area of literature. When I first heard everyone talking about “50 Shades of Grey” I thought they were on about a Dulux colourchart.

But I must say I love the Danny Baker show, It is wild and unpredictable and very funny and gives the fans airtime. Plus he is a bloke is not afraid to have strong opinions even if they upset his bosses.

I know a guy like that.

THE THREE LEGENDS is going from strength to strength.

When our previous bosses pulled the plug things looked a bit dodgy for us but with the support of the North-east football public and some heard work we have bounced back.

To be fair, had I not shot my big mouth off we wouldn’t be where we are now. We’d have been dead. If I’d gone quietly we would have lost the audience and the continuity and been forgotten. It would’ve been very hard to pick up after three months of radio silence.
Instead, from being defiant and starting small to keep it alive we have very quickly put together a growing network of local radio stations to air the show across the entire region and now we have a potential reach of one millions listeners. That’s fantastic.

We started with Koast up in Northumberland and Star FM in Darlington and then in the last week or two we have added radio stations in Hartlepool, Sunderland, Richmond and Middlesbrough via Community Voice radio and we are getting as many calls as ever from fans of every club from right across the region.

It’s brilliant. We are independent. We are not dancing to the tune of suits in London. We are about the pride and passion of this region and I’m chuffed with what we’ve done so far.
But it will get even better. My two partners will soon be back once they see out their gagging orders from the old contracts.

We are just unravelling a bit of red tape and they will be back in a few weeks raring to go.
And we are talking with a couple of other stations too to get into Newcastle and fill in the gaps in our coverage.

Plus we have a new book out soon with a launch at Ramside Hall on 11 November. I’ll tell you more about that soon.

In the meantime you can hear us on Star FM at 102.8 Monday to Friday 6-8pm and join in by calling 0845-

Thanks to Evening Gazette.

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