Boro on the brink
While I was slating the fact that a man is on the verge of being bought for the GDP of Belgium by Man City, many of you shoulder-shruggers out there were claiming it was all down to jealousy.
While this is about the least grown-up response, it's certainly the case that I could do with summat to distract us from the actual football right now.
For those numpties out there who still think I support United/Liverpool or whoever I've not slagged off recently, let me assure you that I support Middlesbrough FC. Please note the single 'o'. The Boro (yeah I know that's two 'o's but we're pretty damn fickle up here) are currently playing tripe. The grass at the Riverside has never looked so luxuriant, 'cos every fortnight we cover it in horse dung..
It's so horrible to watch I'm thinking of taking a sofa with me to the next home game so I have summat to hide behind. The next Premier League fixture is Chelsea away but after that thing gets tough.
Inevitably the chit-chat is that Southgate must go. But you know what? I like the bloke a lot. The mullet, a sort of Grecian 2000 Joe Kinnear job, needs to go. The really nerdy V-neck sweaters of the type last spotted on the Val Doonican Show are a mistake too. But the bloke himself, I'd like him to stick around.
Why? 'Cos he's honest and rational and doesn't bluster or bleat about the situation, he's been here before and turned around the team's form enough to keep us up. And 'cos I'd like the chairman Gibbo to be vindicated 'n' all.
I'm probably in the minority in The Blue Bell. Most of 'em think Gareth is out of his depth. But all them clubs who have ditched carefully chosen gaffers this season aren't exactly thriving at the mo, apart from Blackburn where Big Sam has got 'em en route (one) for a great escape.
Even 'Arry's early successes are looking like a bit of a mirage now. As I said at the time, anyone who can get Darren Bent on a scoring spree has to be a miracle worker but clearly it was temporary. Bent's going to be the makeweight if Redknapp gets the curiously girly-faced Kenwyne Jones from Sunderland. That'll knock tuppence off the price I reckon.
Still I'd gladly have Bent at the Riverside, if only 'cos it'd mean that it's not only Alves missing all the chances. God love him, Afonso arrived looking like Ronaldo (the slimmer model from the 2002 World Cup) and now he looks more like the 2006 version.
To be fair he's positively skeletal next to the last few Boro strikers - Mido, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Mark Viduka, Yakubu... less a front four and more a line-up for Celebrity Fit Club. We'll have Anne Widdecombe playing in the hole if we're not careful.
No, Gareth's not done great with his transfer policy. O'Neil, Digard, Arca and the unpronounceable Alidialaddyalair have hardly inspired and Lord knows why he bought the fella Shawky. As me mate Tony Thompson put it, maybe one day the lad will fluke a vital winner off his shin and Southgate will be talking of a Shawky Shank Redemption.
On the other hand, it's shaping up to the finest relegation dogfight in living memory. If Boro get the anticipated three points at Stamford Bridge we'll be 12th. Sometimes you crave a bit of mid-table mediocrity but where's the fun in that?
It's like some trailer for a horror flick right now. 'No one is safe!' Megson's dullards are back in the mix and Phil Brown's Hull are struggling to the extent that you fully expect the players to be receiving their half-time team talks while sitting in the KC Stadium stocks.
Meanwhile Joe Kinnear's so worried he's already blaming the previous two managers. Ermm, I think there's a few chairmen/owners who might be a tad at fault as well but let's not split hairs. Newcastle have got one world class player right now and that's a Given.
The one thing Boro have going for them is the chairman. He is a top bloke. We Boro fans are just as contrary as the next bunch but Gibbo is consistent and we love him for it. He gives his manager time, respect, responsibility and tells him to get on with the job.
There's none of that rubbish that went on at Spurs with Jol; there's none of that cloak and dagger stuff that Benitez endured with his employers' little flirt with Klinsmann. Some chairmen show all the decisiveness of a lass trying to buy a new top, but Gibbo's straight up. I'm not sure there's another club in the country where the fans so respect the chairman.
There's a lot of agony to come. But if we can find some luck and some linesmen who actually watch the pigging game, and a magic pair of ghost boots for Senor Alves, then there's still a chance. So I'll leave him and Southgate to it.
And I'll be helping them out too with me own carefully considered strategy:
1. The lucky pants from the Uefa Cup run are back.
2. I'll try changing me seat at the Riverside - there's always a spare one to park your backside in there.
3. The facial hair's going to stay till we win our next Premier League game. Come 2011 I'll look like ZZ Top but it's worth a go.
4. I've worked out that there is a direct correlation to my beer consumption and Boro's poor form. The more I drink, the worse we get... and of course, tragically, the worse we get, the more I drink. It's radical I know but... no more beer till Boro get to 30 points!
No greater self-sacrifice has there been by any fan. Up the Boro.