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Bouncing Back With Boro

Robbo Robson | 12:28 UK time, Monday, 2 March 2009

Apparently a major domestic trophy was won on Sunday. Me, I didn't notice.

I was too busy wanting to kiss Xabi Alonso's thigh for his delightful deflection - and to wrap me consoling arm around Rafa Benitez and reassure him that although the title's gone for another year, at least Parry won't be hiring any duffers in the close-season.

And now at last the beard's coming off! (Mine not the Liverpool prima donna's). I know I said 30 points was the target but frankly I'm itchier than a hyper-allergic chicken pox-sufferer in a hessian jumpsuit.

Them that doubt Downing should've seen him on Saturday. We find it difficult to be objective about the lad up here as he's as Teesside as a heavy industrial chimney, but there's a lot of class there and he's got a great left peg too.
Martin Skrtel
He was helped by Rafa's right-back Skrtel, who as the moody meanies on Match of the Day pointed out, was hopeless. He was so bad that he could've coined a new phrase:
'To skrtel - or even "scurtle" - to attempt to do a job for which one is wholly unsuited. For example, Bergamasco scurtled as scrum-half; Sidebottom scurtled as England's strike bowler; David Bentley scurtled a penalty kick.'

The only downside is that the title's United's and the real interest is down among the dead men.

You just need a set-piece to beat the Baggies. You can see the promotional strapline now - 'Come and play West Brom - a free header with every cross'.

Stoke look likely to join 'em - if only because Rory the Delapidator is being reconfigured and there's not a lot else there - but they scrap till the end (just ask Villa) and Pulis is a good lad, so maybe they can do it.

My lot have so many six-pointers coming up that we could be top of the league come mid-April. I'm not counting any chickens, though (which is something you could have done at Wembley on Sunday when 'Arry went and asked who was up for taking a pen - there appeared to be a lot of clucking going on then - at least O'Hara and Bentley showed some guts).

Big Sam'll muscle Blackburn up the league I'm sure. I've worked out why his face is that shape. All that gum. He seems to fold in a pack at a time and his jaw muscles are so mighty that he could pass for an Allosaurus from a distance.

You can't see Spurs dropping, especially if the likes of Lennon and Modric keep playing well. Every time I see Modric I'm reminded of a Subbuteo player next to one of them big footballs.

Newcastle have a horrible run of games coming up. Pompey will struggle too, but the real saviours for the lot of us are Hull. Now Geovanni's started wearing sponge boots, it's looking well dodgy for them. One win from all the others mentioned and the KC Stadium's looking the Championship full in the face.

All of which is leading to a really top-notch twitchy run-in for the lot of us. And I'd rather that than a comfy mid-table finish to be honest. I'll tip West Brom, Stoke and Hull to go, which will cheer fans of those clubs up no end if they know my history when it comes to predictions.

Meanwhile, my favourite moment of the Carling Cup was Ronaldo's booking. Like a banker who's found out his bonus has been banned, Cristiano was outraged to have been accused of looking for it. Fergie says it's unfair, but come on! It's chickens coming home to roost, isn't it? It's the boy who cried wolf.

The way Ronaldo - and Gerrard and Drogba - play fast and loose with the rulebook on such matters means that every so often they're not going to get a decision they should do.

Ronaldo is bound to be judged on past indiscretions, just as someone lying on the ground at Joey Barton's feet might encourage the ref to think the worst of the situation. Players who expect justice, except when they're doing the cheating, deserve all that's coming their way. The fact that Ronaldo burned past the left-back and smashed the post in the dying seconds tells you what he should be concentrating on.

I said only recently they need a three-strikes-and-you're-out rule on simulation. I've got a new plan now. Let them sit in a small room with Martin Johnson while the England coach gets played re-runs of his numpties trying to play rugby.
Martin Johnson
Regular readers will know I'm no expert but every time I've watched the blocks of concrete in pillow-cases that are the England XV it appears that one Phil Vickery (Latin name Propia Muppetas) hands out points like an over-eager speed-camera.

What's worse is the bloke stands there gawping at the ref like a shaved bear with a hangover and then the replays show he has indeed made a mess of the highest order.
Now why would you keep picking a fella like that?

Jonno's team talk must go summat like this:
JONNO: "Right lads don't give any penalties away, OK?"
LADS: "Yes boss!"
JONNO: "Vickery! What did I say?"
VICKERY: "Errrrr.... derrrrrr..."
JONNO: "I said "don't give any penalties away!"
LADS: "Yes Boss!"
JONNO: "Now, Vickery, what did I say?"
VICKERY "Errrr... derrr..."
Repeat ad nauseam.

Indeed the Ireland-England game was the single worst bit of sport I've seen in 2009. Rugby union can easily get reduced to what looks like nothing more than a food fight in an abattoir (with a bit of pat-a-cake kicking in between). I'd rather sit naked in a bath of ice watching Notting Hill than ever see England play rugger again.

In the meantime, hopes will be high for a Man U quintuple. No chance. Boro have the FA Cup in the bag and I have a funny feeling that Hiddink will winkle a Champs League out of Chelsea somehow.

Now, the barber's and the Blue Bell await. To be followed by Premier League survival. Up the Boro. (Please stay Up the Boro!)

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