So I worked like a dog today, and found time to complete and send off my last FMTTM article of the season. It was a happy read, as well you might imagine. I don’t like to spoil pieces of work for which you have to pay, but here’s a summary:
Mostly, it was difficult to find anything to say that hasn’t been said elsewhere, and for some time too. We’ve known we are going to be relegated for a number of weeks, and that in itself is a shame. To part ways with a manager who’s failed is one thing. Some might disagree with the decision. I didn’t, but action was required and the club took it. But to go from there to hand the reins to a novice, someone who in his previous brief stint showed no signs of arresting a decline, is quite unforgivable. I don’t know what the point was. Sure, Aggie’s a nice guy, but there are few ‘nice guys’ in football management who are successful. Karanka doesn’t seem so clement, at least not professionally, and he took us up. Sralex… Mourinho… Even Uncle Arsene Wenger, twatbaskets to a man but they can get the best from their teams and that’s one decisive thing SA failed to do.
Now, I’m sure the last thing Mr Gibson wanted was for Boro to go down. He worked hard to get them up, so to even imagine he would work for relegation is madness. You can see why people would think this, however. This season was one we tried to do on the cheap. Not comparatively, of course. The figures will show a lot was spent on the team, but years ago when Boro was seen as a profligate set-up the economics weren’t the same as they are now and here we clearly needed to invest more heavily. We didn’t, and down we went. Why? My suspicion is that the financial goalposts have moved and the Board no longer has the clout to invest the substantial amount that’s required. In that sense we’ve slipped back to our natural position, as a decent sized club that’s perhaps too big for the second tier and not quite hefty enough for the first. How else do you explain appointing Agnew? It was the cut-price option, and we paid for it.
I’m interested in seeing what happens now. If we retain Ag-ony then the die is cast. Boro becomes a parochial club, stuffed with the Chairman’s mates who will never stand up to him. Can you picture Agnew criticising Gibson in public for not signing the players he wants? Of course not. It wouldn’t happen. We’d make do with Downing (a spent force seeing out his waning years here) on the pitch and Woodgate (big block of wood) on the coaching staff and see what happens. I suppose that’s why we’ve had no announcement from the Board expressing its feelings and future ambitions for the club. Everyone’s waiting to see how the season pans out, if there’s a shaft of hope in our closing performances before meeting the Teesside nation to confirm the worst/best.
I’ll say here and now that I didn’t think Aitor was a perfect person, and I think he got a lot of his match tactics wrong (the lack of adventure was horribly frustrating at times), but he’s assiduous and knew what the side needed. His rhetoric became more doom-laden and took on a bitter tone after the January transfer window, when he obviously hadn’t had his shopping list met in full and understood where things were heading. Blame him if you like, much like the Gazette are doing, but don’t hold him entirely to account. There was more rottenness at the Riverside than the manager.
So who would you like to see come in? A tried and tested veteran, like Nigel Pearson, with whom we have some affinity but who we’ve also seen fail elsewhere? Or perhaps Ryan Giggs, the playing legend who’s largely untested as a manager but represents the route preferred by our Chairman? Giggs’s arrival would almost certainly mean an injection of cash whereas Pearson could suggest a more economical route. I hope it’s not Agnew. I hope that, but the silence from the powers of corridor at the club is disturbing.
More, I’m sure, to follow on this.