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Boro get it wrong

Quick quiz question. Sir Alex Ferguson apart, who is the Premiership’s most established manager? Which current Premiership boss has been in his present job the second longest?

If one rules out Alan Curbishley on the grounds that he only became Charlton manager in his own right in 1995, the Authentic Prada Trainers rather surprising answer is Bryan Robson, who took over at Middlesbrough in May 1994. That was two or three months before Harry Redknapp moved in at West Ham, and six months before George Burley was appointed at Ipswich.

The biggest spender among those four managers happens to be the only one whose job is under threat. Robson will not enjoy reading those records, although he might prefer them to the performance stats. Not only do they confirm he can no longer claim to be a managerial tyro, they highlight what several smaller clubs have achieved on much more meagre resources.

West Ham, for instance, have never been out of the Premiership. Ipswich have only just Authentic Prada Fairy Bag Sale arrived, and with a homespun squad of modest signings and promising kids are making the elite division look easy. Charlton, like Boro, have been down and come back up again, winning friends and plaudits all the way, to the extent that Curbishley is being touted as a future England manager.

That used to be Robson’s province, and touchingly a recent interview in the Boro fanzine MSS could not refrain from asking him about his England ambitions. Perhaps there is something in the water on Teesside, for Steve Gibson is Authentic Prada Bag For Sale Philippines clearly not the only one who thinks Captain Marvel will come through in the end. ‘If the job was offered to me again and it was the right time, I would say yes and give it my best shot,’ Robson replied.

In the meantime, there is the matter of another relegation battle and a personal reputation to salvage. Robson does not appear to have learned much in six Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Sale Uk years. He dug the present hole for himself last month, promising a losing run would end with home matches against Leicester and Bradford. Not only did this wishful scenario underestimate Leicester, it left Robson with no room for manoeuvre once his side had to fight to emerge with a single point from those two games.

Robson is not in a position to bank on results, as statistics can show. The overall impression might be that Boro are a decent side just slumming it, a collection of talented players not quite hitting it off at the moment, but poor scores in basic areas such as pass completion and concentration suggest Robson has not put together much of a team at all. The fact that England did not play as a team at Euro 2000 was an FA criticism of Kevin Keegan after his departure, but there is no excuse at club level. Ipswich, Charlton and Leicester all play as teams, typifying the spirit small clubs need to survive.

Middlesbrough don’t. Caught between big club potential and small club results, Robson has managed to fashion an Best Prada Outlet In Florence internationalist ethos at the Riverside when what he wants is old-fashioned club culture. In fairness he realises this, and it is unfair to characterise the Boro manager simply as a gullible importer of over-priced European goods. ‘Ravanelli replica prada top handles, Juninho and Emerson all wanted to go when we were relegated, though at least we got great money for them,’ Robson said. ‘After we were promoted again I had a different idea on how I should build a base at the club, and my signings that year were the likes of Gary Pallister, Colin Cooper, Dean Gordon and Keith O’Neill. I didn’t expect to lose Merse though, that was a blow.’

Robson’s critics tend to ignore the fact that signing Paul Merson while in Division One was something of a masterstroke. For Merson, as well as for Boro, for the unhappy Arsenal reserve earned an England recall and a lucrative move to Villa on the back of his stay on Teesside. ‘He told us he loved the place one week, then the next week he was off to another club for more money,’ Gibson said. ‘But that’s not exactly an uncommon football situation. We don’t have to go around blaming ourselves.’

Perhaps not, though Boro do have a habit Authentic Prada Outlet Online Usa of losing players. They have just Bergdorf Goodman Prada Mens Shoes lost Alen Boksic for another fortnight, and will shortly lose Hamilton Ricard through a suspension incurred playing in the reserves. They lost Christian Ziege, another useful Robson signing, to Liverpool’s greater kudos, and they will surely lose Christian Karembeu once the Frenchman works out how insulting all the Boro fans are being behind his back.

Too much change, in other words, and the first priority for Robson must be to impose continuity on the team and the club. Terry Venables bringing in his own coaching staff never sounded like a great idea. A fresh start perhaps, but Boro have no margin for error if things go wrong.

If Gibson is to spend any more money, he should only sanction it for players who actually want to play for Middlesbrough, rather Authentic Prada Vitello Daino than players who are stuck for somewhere to go. The same applies to managers. Did Boro contact Venables because he was the best man for the job, or because he appeared to be at a loose end? Practically every manager in the league would fancy Authentic Prada Handbags Outlet Online working for a chairman Authentic Prada Bag For Sale Philippines like Gibson. Trust Boro to zero in on someone out of the game who couldn’t make his mind up, just because they wanted to let Robson down gently.

Gibson is right about one thing. There is nothing wrong with Middlesbrough as an area or as a club. The best way to prove it is to follow that conviction to its logical conclusion, and stop paying over the odds to attract reluctant outsiders.


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