Posts Tagged ‘Southgate’

End of Season Reviews – Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Middlesbrough



Where they finished: 2nd

Season in five words: Home draws cost the title

Successful season? Yes, for the first time a serious title challenge to Man Utd was mounted. Consistent, difficult to beat and in Torres and Gerrard, a lethal front two. Ultimately there were too many draws against lower opposition and considering Liverpool did the double over United, they will be disappointed to have finished behind them.

Defining moment: Rafa’s rant perhaps? Whether or not he was right is besides the issue. The draws and poor form that followed are what cost Liverpool the league. I don’t think it was a coincidence.

Player of the year: Steven Gerrard is the obvious choice but credit must be given to Xabi Alonso too. Dirk Kuyt has suddenly turned into a key player with his best season since joining.

Goal of the season: Torres vs Blackburn.

Flop of the season: Dossena was another addition to the long list of left backs who have flopped at Anfield. A bit fat and a bit slow. He did score great goals against Man Utd and Real Madrid though. Ryan Babel hasn’t lived up to expectation, or even come close to doing so.

Highlight: The destruction of Real Madrid was impressive (if not surprising) and having a real go at Chelsea in the Champions quarter final second leg was entertaining (if ultimately doomed). They ended Chelsea’s long unbeaten home league record too. There can only be one choice though and that’s the 4-1 spanking of Man Utd at Old Trafford.

Summer homework: Keep Gerrard but specifically Torres fit and playing together. Don’t sell Alonso, buy a striker, a left winger and possibly a left back too.



Man City

Where they finished: 10th

Season in five words: Big spending but poor results.

Successful season? Not really. Expectation was high after a summer takeover and there was enough time to splash a British record fee on Robinho from Real Madrid. Mark Hughes’ side were pretty poor however and for much of the season were towards the bottom of the table. Though recovery was made, via more big money January signings, City won’t be playing European football next year. Domestic cup exits were made to lower league opposition and most of the season was a case of win at home, lose away.

Defining moment: Towards the midnight deadline for summer signings, City announce the signing of Robinho for £32.5million. Having been rejected by Berbatov, with his signing the Abu Dhabi owners announced they meant business. The flip side of this was paying £17million for Nigel De Jong in January when he could have been bought for £2million this summer.

Player of the year: Stephen Ireland. The shaven headed maestro was one of the few highlights of a Jekyll and Hyde season at Eastlands. Robinho has shown enough in his debut season (at home at least) to suggest he could get 20 goals next year.

Goal of the season: Robinho’s lob vs Arsenal.

Flop of the season: Dunne and Richards. The former looked slow and prone to mistakes while the latter seems to care more about his physique (ironic given his fat arse) than his positional sense. Oh and Robinho away from home.

Highlight: A 3-0 win over Arsenal was quite impressive in November, as was an early 6-0 battering of Pompey.

Summer homework: Sign a good strike partner for Robinho, get Petrov, Dunne and Richards playing like they did in 2007/08, buy a left back better than Wayne Bridge. Quality not quantity (see strikers).



Man Utd


Where they finished: 1st, Champions League finalists and Carling Cup Winners.

Season in five words: Liverpool equalled, outclassed by Barcelona.

Successful season? Yes. Their record equalling 18th league title was won unconvincingly but at the same time without too much trouble. Liverpool tried hard but didn’t have the experience of closing it out. A record run of clean sheets built up enough of an advantage to concentrate on Europe. Though they reached the final again, Barcelona taught them a footballing lesson in Rome. They won the Carling Cup too.

Defining moment: Macheda against Aston Villa perhaps? The day before Liverpool had grabbed a vital last minute win over Fulham to go top so momentum was with them. United played poorly and were losing 2-1 before staging a comeback in the last 10 minutes. In the last minute 17 year old debutant Federico Macheda, controlled, turned and hit a great winner past Brad Friedel. Momentum restored to United, league title heads to Old Trafford.

Player of the year: Nemanja Vidic was great until the spring and undoubtedly lay the foundations for the record breaking defence. He got found out by some nimble strikers towards the end but overall was excellent. Wayne Rooney had a great season, and Fletcher has pretty much established himself as first choice central midfielder.

Goal of the season: Cristiano Ronaldo’s 40 yard toe punt against Porto.

Flop of the season: Flops in a title winning side? No one really. Berbatov gets another season to prove that he can fit into Utd’s style of play. He hasn’t flopped but he hasn’t impressed that much. Nani is beginning to look like a lost cause though. Van der Sar will be doing well to still be first choice come 2010.

Highlight: Equalling Liverpool’s title record is an overall highlight. Outclassing Arsenal at the Emirates in Europe and Macheda’s goal against Villa were particular highlights.

Summer homework: Make a decision on Carlos Tevez and sign a pacey replacement if he goes. Get Hargreaves fit and playing in the big games.





Where they finished: 19th

Season in five words: Lack of goals means relegation.

Successful season? No. Despite all the mocking of Schteve McLaren, he usually had Boro pushing the top half and in a cup final or two. Gareth Southgate has taken them further down the table with each passing season. Boro’s problem was selling their best players and not replacing them, and not having anyone capable of scoring on a consistent basis. England’s best left winger™Stewart Downing had a miserable season scoring zero goals, while the less said about Alves and Aliadiere the better.

Defining moment: Losing Mark Schwarzer to Fulham last summer. A big reason why Fulham went from 17th to 7th this year while Boro went down.

Player of the year: Erm, Tuncay was the one highlight suppose. He reminded me of Juninho a few years back where he was the only one trying to keep them up but no one else was good enough/cared enough to help.

Goal of the season: Not hard to choose given there have been so few. Tuncay’s bicycle kick late in the season against Villa wins it.

Flop of the season: When you pay £12 million for someone you exect more than six league goals in return this season. Southgate will be judged by his transfer deals and Alves will go down as one of his biggest errors. Playing Brad Jones over Ross Turnbull in key end of season games was a stupid idea too. Jones is incredibly useless. Terrible hair too.

Highlight: A 2-0 win over Liverpool of all people in February.

Summer homework: Get rid of players who don’t want to be there, sign someone who can score goals in the Championship. Try and get £15 million for Downing from Spurs even though he’s injured.




Weekly Photoshop – Afonso Alves


Our theme this week is Afonso Alves. Somehow related to Dani Alves of Barcelona, the Middlesbrough striker is a bit fat and bit useless. The £12million spent on him is a big reason why Boro are going down this year as he has returned just six goals. A couple of entries this week…


The invisible striker, apparently last seen 'playing' for Middlesbrough.

The invisible striker, apparently last seen 'playing' for Middlesbrough.


Alves tries to use positive visualisation to help him score more goals.

Alves tries to use positive visualisation to help him score more goals.


The rest of this week’s gallery can be found here:




Previos entries: BartonKeaneMessi, and the rest.

The Six Pointer – Mad Jens, Boro’s Struggles & more…


1. We touched on Ronaldo and his tetchiness last week and on Saturday there was yet another incident in which he kicked out at someone and got away with it. This time David Dunn was on the receiving end of his petulance, and given that Howard Webb didn’t book him over the incident it would not surprise me to see him get a retrospective three match ban.  Blackburn are right to feel aggrieved when shortly afterwards he scored the winning goal with a wonderful free kick. I sense too that whilst he may get away with it in the Premier League, Ronaldo won’t be so lucky if he does it against the likes of Inter Milan or Barcelona in the Champions League.

Needs to calm down

Needs to calm down


2. Liverpool’s title hopes were over before yesterday’s draw against Man City. Victory over Man United on March 14th won’t revive them either. I imagine Rafa will prioritise the Champions League now anyway so will tinker his way to plenty more dropped points before the season’s end. It will be interesting to see if they hold off a revived Chelsea for second place who should finish strongly under new manager Guus Hiddink.


3. Good to see that Jens Lehmann is still Mad Jens even though he’s now with Stuttgart. Here he takes issue with Khalid Boulahrouz’s headband and throws it away. There was also an incident at the weekend where an opposition striker’s boot had come off and Lehmann proceeded to hide it on the roof of his goal (video deleted sadly but the pic below gives you an idea). In true Jens style he said “the shoe lies where it could be an obstacle for a shot or a through pass.” Brilliant. Let’s also remember a couple of classics from the days when he was still Arsenal goalkeeper.

Mad Jens

Mad Jens


4. Fulham have struggled away from home for many a year now; picking up no away wins this season, three last year and just one in both 2006/07 and 2005/06. However they have 27 points from 36 at Craven Cottage this season and sit pretty in eighth place. Goodness knows how high they’d be if they had anything resembling away form.


5. While the debut of Arshavin was a bright spot in an otherwise drab performance, Arsene Wenger must be very concerned with the lack of goals coming from his side at the moment. They have only scored only four times in their last seven home league games and have three consecutive 0-0 draws for the first time under his stewardship. Fergie may have a point when he talks about Wenger not buying defenders but ultimately it is the current central midfield which poses the problems. With Fabregas injured and Flamini long gone, there is no one to provide probing passes from the middle of the pitch to the strikers. This puts pressure on the wingers to do it (and they like to cut in anyway) and opposition teams have worked out that if you stop the like of Nasri and Eboue (not too hard) then Song and Denilson will do absolutely nothing to hurt you. 

Why must I play with such dross?

Why must I play with such dross?


6. The longer Gareth Southgate remains as manager, the more likely it is Middlesbrough are going down. I know Steve Gibson is a very patient man (remember how long he took to get rid of Robson?) and personally I like Southgate and wish him well. Boro however are really struggling at the moment and are now a club record 14 games without a league win. They are second bottom and are relying on Mido, Afonso Alves and Marlon King to score the goals to get them out of trouble. Best start preparing for the Championship then…



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