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What next for Boro?

Graeme Bailey examines the current state of affairs at the Riverside

Last Updated: 19/10/10 8:09pm

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Every Middlesbrough fan had the appointment of Gordon Strachan down as the most important in their recent history.

And if that was not the case, then Steve Gibson's next decision most certainly is following Strachan's exit on Monday.

But what does he/Middlesbrough need? What does he/Middlesbrough want? Those are the two questions he is asking himself right now.

At the the very least Gibson needs to provide his manager with a squad capable of getting into the Premier League, but you could very well argue that is already in place and at the most is only a couple of astute signings away.

So a man capable of moulding a squad into a Premier League side is at the forefront of his thinking . Can he take a gamble on somebody who is untested in this division? You would not think so.

And the yearning for a place in the Premier League is one mainly borne out of finance, but it is also borne from the fact Gibson - as a Teessider himself - feels the area deserves and needs a top-flight side. So what Gibson and the club wants, has a fairly simple answer.


What is needed is just not that simple. Success, I hear many of you scream - but is that really what the Teesside footballing masses want?

I would say not, look at Steve McClaren - yes his era is now looked back on with a great deal of fondness by Boro fans, and so it should after unparalleled success, including a first-ever trophy in the shape of the League Cup, a qualification for Europe through their league position and a Uefa Cup final.

But let us not forget, there were few Boro fans sobbing when McClaren departed for Soho Square and took up the England job, and you only need look at the attendances during his reign as they actually dropped.

Why was this? The answer is simple, this generation of Boro fans don't just want success. Yes, they were told by their fathers and grandfathers how great it was to see Jack Charlton's Ayersome Angels of the 1970's batter (bore) teams into submission on their way to almost cracking their way into the top echelons of English football.

But the difference on Teesside now is that the current crop of supporters remember the Bryan Robson era - perhaps not the most successful, but definitely the most exciting and exhilarating, both on and off the pitch.

Robson brought in world-class superstars the likes of which the club had not seen before, and the football produced by Juninho, Emerson and Fabrizio Ravanelli was the real key.

Boro's mind-set during Robson's era was that they were always confident of scoring more than the opposition, and whilst this isn't a recipe for success - it is a recipe for joy, unadulterated joy from watching your team play, and that has not been witnessed by a Middlesbrough fan for many years.

And again I would concede that the economy is not great and people have better things to spend their money on, but does anyone really think that Teesside, and Middlesbrough specifically, was at the middle of a Blossoming Britain in the 1990s? Well it wasn't!

Yes, Steve Gibson needs to deliver success, but coupled with that, and as important, he needs to win the fans back with football - pure and simple.


And so who to appoint as manager? Gibson rightfully has decreed that Boro is as good a job outside the top 10 of the Premier League - and few could argue.

A modern stadium appointed as well as any in the country, a training ground that can rival most in Europe, a chairman commonly regarded as the best around and a fan-base which is there, but has been neglected and let down badly in recent times, but just needs nurturing back.

Now there are many names already being linked, but I would assume that Gibson already knows who he wants.

Personally, I think Middlesbrough need a manager who will bring back the football that the current generation of fans once knew.

For that I think Boro legend Tony Mowbray, whose West Bromwich Albion side dominated the Championship during his time at The Hawthorns and played some of the most pleasing football I have witnessed in recent years, is the man for the task.

I would not only advocate his appointment but openly encourage it. As a youngster I remember seeing Mowbray walk through the Ayresome Park gates - now situated at the Riverside - and what I would give to see a repeat of that some 20 years on.

Mowbray had always stated his love for the club, and that is something Boro fans themselves have not felt in recent times, a love for their club.

And yes there will always be a risk appointing a club legend - you only need to look at not just Gareth Southgate's tenure but also that of Willie Maddren in the 1980s.

Mowbray himself came through under Maddren and he will know from this that you cannot get by on your status at the club, and whilst he has Boro at heart, he also the managerial credentials in place.

And just to add a bit of Samba style, which again Boro have been lacking of late, why not make room - albeit a small place - on the bench for one...Osvaldo Giroldo Junior, perhaps a little too exuberant and far fetched, but the chances to appoint a true club legend, with credentials, doesn't come around too often - something which Mr Gibson should appreciate.

Who do you want at Boro? Would you like to see the return of Tony Mowbray? Let us know your thoughts using the form below.

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