Boro heading South
In the bottom three, Southgate under pressure, where's it gone wrong at Boro wonders FanZoner Dan Gilgan.
Last Updated: 25/01/09 11:23am
After Middlesbrough's crushing 3-0 defeat at the hands of bottom club West Brom I was left in a state of total despair.
Ten games without a win and we are in freefall, unable to keep a clean sheet, unable to score goals.
So where has it gone so badly wrong for Gareth Southgate's team who started the season so brightly?
The biggest problem is the midfield. Three senior players were sold in the summer, George Boateng, Lee Cattermole and Fabio Rochemback.
Of the players brought in, only Didier Digard has proved an able replacement in the centre of the park.
It's quite simple really, three out and one in. You do the maths.
In defence we do have some quality, Robert Huth, David Wheater, Emanuel Pogatetz and Chris Riggott can all do a job at this level. Right back we have both Justin Hoyte and Tony McMahon who are good enough.
But left back is a weakness as Andrew Taylor is not good enough and Pogatetz is not a full back. The real problem though is the lack of cover that a strong midfield would provide.
Tuncay and Downing are both quality players going forward but Mido's niggling injuries and Alfonso Alves' collapse in confidence have left us desperately short of goals. £12m looks like an awful lot of money for Alves at the moment.
So what next for Boro?
Steve Gibson will no doubt stick with Southgate until the end of the season, that's just the way he operates.
Sections of the Riverside crowd have started to turn on the manager and the unrest can only harm our chances of survival.
The weak midfield will continue to let us down but I think we will have just enough quality in other areas to stay up. We need Alves to find some form, Mido to sort himself out and Downing & Tuncay to stand up and be counted.
The Southgate project is now starting to look like a busted flush. I think Steve Gibson needs to have a major re-think for next season, even if we do stay up.