Welcome to this the second edition of FMTTM, your favourite Boro fanzine. The feedback from our first issue seems to be generally good but we want more. We need to know what you did and didn’t like so lets have your opinions.
Staying on last weeks issue i must apologise for the odd spelling mistake and assure you that even now the typist is recovering from a damn good thrashing. We must also apologise if you have trouble carrying home this super edition due to the increased size but you’ll just have to get use to it because we hope to get even bigger in the future.
Generally speaking we won’t be carrying match reports on previous games – you were there – you saw what happened – but we will be commenting on aspects of the teams performance when we feel the need. One thing we do not apologise for is the lack of foul language. Frankly we want to be welcome in every home and reach as wide an audience as possible and using gratuitous bad language will restrict that aim. Another reason, of course, is to fall in with club policy as laid down by Rioch. We want to help him as much as possible.
Remember… don’t just chunter on about things down the pub, write and tell us what you think.
The arrival of Mark Brennan to Middlesbrough during the close season heralded no little excitement on Teesside. Not only had Boro lured him from under the noses of Sheffield Wednesday, Norwich City and Southampton, it also addressed a problem that had been obvious to most discerning Boro fans since our re-emergence from the bankruptcy problems of 1986.
The fact is we’ve been lacking real skill and vision in the midfield department for a number of seasons now. Hamilton is a tireless worker, a strong tackler and excellent striker of the ball it’s true. But he is hardly a fine passer of the ball, nor is Paul Kerr, Dean Glover or Gary Gill, all of whom have their merits (yeah even the latter, check out a reserve game these days). But none provide the instinctive defence splitting passes that wins games, the likes displayed by ex Boro stalwarts Armstrong, Proctor, Otto, or even Don O’Riordan of recent years.
Brennan’s credentials were excellent, a product of the impressive youth scheme at Ipswich Town which has produced so many fine players. He turned out regularly for the England U21′s, where he was named by some noted pundits as a possible successor to Bryan Robson. The fact that Rioch was unperturbed by his much publicised falls from grace suggested that here was a player of exceptional talent.
After the first few games it soon became apparent that he possessed a fine shot. Desperately unlucky not to score on his debut against Derby County from a crisply driven free kick. Always on target with efforts against Norwich City and Manchester Utd, before finally opening his account against QPR with a sweetly struck volley from 14 yards.
His passing ability is unquestioned; his display against Spurs was a treat for those fans that made the journey. His best display at home so far this season was against Millwall where his remarkable accuracy found red shirts deep in the lion’s penalty area repeatedly in the first half.
It seems that Brennan can certainly perform ably when given the room to do so. But the down side is that he can often be caught in possession when trying to gain that extra yard looking for an opening. He could certainly be a little sharper on the ball and may want to think about timing his tackling a little better, if not, he might fall foul of referees once too often.
During his dispute with Ipswich last season he was absent from first team duty for some time and perhaps this has taken its toll on his well honed talents. But then again, maybe we can look forward to him improving as the season continues?
At the moment he is worthy of his first team place but as Rioch constantly scours the transfer market for new players nobody is indispensible and no one should take their place for granted.
Bruce Rioch (Luton Town, Aston Villa, Derby County, Everton, Derby County and Torquay Utd)
A strong shooting left sided midfielder, who first came to prominence when cracking in 22 goals from 44 games to collect a Fourth Division winners medal with Luton Town.
He signed for Aston Villa in July 1969 for £100,000 helping them to a losing League Cup Final against Spurs in 1971, before gratefully picking up a Third Division winners medal the following season. He moved to Derby County in February 1974 in return for a fee of £200,000 and in his first full season with the club won a Championship medal as an ever present.
Another £300,000 took him to Everton in December 1976 but less than a year later he was back at the Baseball Ground. Later he played for Seattle Sounders in the States before coming home to play for and manage Torquay Utd.
Colin Todd (Sunderland, Derby County, Everton, Birmingham City, Notts Forest, Oxford Utd).
A great defender and sure tackler who did not give the ball away readily. Despite making his debut for Sunderland in 1966/67, he did not receive his first England cap (of 27) until Derby County splashed out £170,000 in February 1971 to take the then 22 year old to the Baseball Ground.
A key member of Brian Clough’s side he formed a brilliant partnership with Roy McFarland at both club and international level (but for him Willie Maddren would surely have won many England caps). He gained a Championship medal in his first season and then another in 1974/75.
Later he performed valuable service at Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest, having not really settling at Goodison Park. Finally he joined Oxford Utd, just in time to add the finishing touches to their promotion from the Third Division as Champions.
In common with most politicians, football managers usually disclaim all interest in the premier job of their respective professions. Tebbit, Heseltine et al are always quick to distance themselves from no.10, so it was no surprise when Brucie recently told a national daily that the England job was of no interest to him, for the time being at least.
However, during the same article he did make some extremely pertinent comments about the state of the international team. He pointed to the predictability in our style of play as the one reason we are so easy to stifle… even by such as Saudi Arabia. This despite the fact that we will always be difficult to beat. He described the lack of a creative playmaker such as Hoddle and suggested that an England side could be built around such a man.
Certainly the strangely pedestrian performances of certain players e.g. Barnes would suggest that they are not being encouraged to express themselves. One only has to look at the reluctance of Gary Pallister to carry the ball forward in the Saudi game as another example. I firmly believe he was acting under strict instructions from Robson and if true, this is a sad state of affairs.
We would all of course be deeply saddened if we were to lose Bruce to the F.A. but at least we could look forward to a more positive England side containing only those players capable and willing to play football. No longer would we see the embarrassing spectacle of donkeys like Adams and Pearce blundering around for all the world to see. The very high standards of total football being preached at Ayresome could yet be the saviour of the international side.
In the days of liquidation we were all looking for an individual saviour, there was much speculation including names such as Don Robinson and even Rod Stewart. So when the consortium stepped in to save us, after the initial relief, i was a little disappointed we had not taken on a larger than life character who would pump big bucks into the club.
However, it has not taken long for me to see the benefits of our new boardroom set up. All too often football clubs are run by small minded men out on an ego trip, or the type of Chairman who abuse their position for material wealth, whilst lording it over all those beneath them. Boro fans should recognise both these stereotypes from the clubs recent past.
It’s not just on the pitch where team work counts it’s also very important in the boardroom, where the independent actions of one can be disastrous for all. We appear to be very fortunate at the Boro, having a Board with the best interests of the club at it’s heart and one that will not resort to reckless spending on either players or unnecessary buildings.
Whilst we should not kid ourselves that we have the full financial resources of ICI and Scottish and Newcastle at our disposal. We do have the benefit of their expertise and organisational qualities which spread throughout the club. The true value of their involvement will be revealed should the threatened legal action by creditors (you probably know them by some other unprintable name or description) come to fruition. Then we will see the true corporate might of the Board’s legal back up.