Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Nimble Nimely Exposes Mogga Magic - And More

It's an old cliché, but - how times change.

When I wrote my final blog post of 2011, I offered a warning to Rhys Williams, Matty Bates and Marvin Emnes about the perils of deserting a momentous revolution for an instantaneous Premiership Dream. If that wasn't enough, I illustrated my case with the examples of David Wheater and Tuncay, who hardly seemed to get a game at struggling Bolton, and Andy Taylor, who was then playing for a club below us in the league.

Of course, that blog was written before Nicky Bailey hobbled off against Peterborough. And our momentum went with him. Meanwhile, both Cardiff's and Bolton's was starting to build up. This weekend alone, Wheats was adorning the front of The Sunday Times' sport section after an excellent show against Liverpool, while Tayls is not only ahead of us in the league, but a mere ninety minutes away from Europe and silverware.

The Moggalution has really reached its nadir during the last few days. Coventry boss Andy, as his surname suggests, was a real Thorn in our side, outfoxing Tony Mowbray with his clever handling of the Lukas Jutkiewicz-Alex Nimely situation. He'd concocted a deal that ensured the Juke (as we'll now call him) could only play for Boro if he didn't play against his old club at the weekend - while taking full advantage of Boro's decision to release Alex Nimely. Thorn's bottom club survived yet another spell of wasteful early Boro dominance (how many of these will we see this season?) before claiming a comfortable victory. The previously well-oiled Mogga Machine now seems as functional as the USS Enterprise in Star Trek V ("I think this new ship was put together by monkeys!") and even our Scotty can't save us. Heck, by the time he'd scored, we'd already made Coventry look like Barcelona.

We've now lost three league matches in a row under the same manager for the first time since December 2009. And we have two utterly pointless suspensions (poor refeering or not) to contend with, further weakening an already weak midfield. It's enough to make any Boro fan feel Sky Blue.

Could it get any worse? Yes, it could. Mogga's come out and said that he has no money to spend unless he sells. And Alex Nimely launched what looks like a direct attack on Mogga's tactics in Monday's Sun, criticizing the boss for playing him out wide. "I'm a centre forward who creates and scores goals", he boldly stated - and that was exactly what he did on Saturday, after Thorn played him in the middle. Of course Nimely was also motivated to prove a point to Mogga, as I kind of felt he was treated in a similar manner to Dong Gook Lee - signed to make the squad numbers up, knowing he would never displace the first choice forwards. This, like Lee before him, must surely have affected his performances at the club. (How many of you remember that the South Korean hit the post on his debut?)

Everything that is going on at Boro at the moment is typical of a team in meltdown. I'm finally starting to believe that Nicky Bailey's injury has become the scapegoat for our season, leaving a hole in midfield that both the squad and manager believe is impossible to replace.

Help may be at hand in the form of the loan market. In our last successful promotion campaign, we called on Michael Thomas from Liverpool when the going got tough. And he did far more than make up the numbers. Sure, he wasn't very creative, but he complemented Neil Maddison and Andy Townsend very well, and mostly played his part in seeing we stayed in the top two throughout a very tricky period. It was once we let him go and signed Gazza that we lost vital ground in the promotion race - and we were very fortunate to regain it. A player like him is the kind of, you know, semi-creative anchorman that we need to temporary plug the Bailey-esque hole in the team for now. Ideally, of course, I wish we could bring back James Morrison. He'd repair the broken strings in our midfield. (Must resist bad puns... must resist... )

Plugging "the hole" is one thing. But what we really need is someone to pick us up and drag us back into games when things are going wrong. A true leader. Here, I turn my attention to Bates and Williams - and another Inbetweeners analogy.

Carli never thought of Simon as anything more than a friend. She took advantage of his strong feelings for her to boost her own ego, culminating in the moment where he finally realised he was being used. And I've a strong suspicion that both Bates and Williams are using the club in a similar fashion. That is to say, thinking of us as nothing more than a stepping stone, a boost to their own careers rather than the Boro's progression. It makes me wonder why they don't come out and say so instead of pretending they care, because they certainly don't look like they do at present!

Of course, I hope I'm wrong. But neither player is playing like a leader at the minute. One won't sign a new contract, and another has effectively said: "Promotion or else." It's quite probable that thoughts of larger pay packets are occupying their minds. Well, if they keep playing like they are, they won't be coming, from Boro or otherwise! They're not Premier League players by divine right. They're Boro players. So it's time they started acting like it! And that goes for every other player in the squad too.

It's time to stop singing "Bailey Come Back" to the tune of this 1990's "classic" and come together as a club again. Show the steely resolve that has epitomised Boro this season, Bailey or no Bailey. That is, unless you want our promotion dream to die.

Because I certainly don't.


James said...

Excellent read. Agree with almost all of what you say. But I do think Williams and Bates do care about the club despite having a funny way of showing it at times. If Mowbray could then I think he should drop Bates. He's been awful for well over a month since having his confidence shot to pieces by a certain Carlton Cole against West Ham. Agree that Coventry did a right good job on us as well! At least jutkiewicz can start his Boro career with nothing hlding him back now. Feel he could be part of the missing link that we have been crying out for. UTB

Anonymous said...

Yeah, maybe I'm reading too much into the Bates-Williams situation. I think it comes from having my fingers burnt too many times by similar situations in the past. That, and I miss the leader that was a major part of our renaissance in 2010-11... a time when we weren't so heavily reliant on Bailey. Trouble is, we can't really *afford* to drop Bates, can we? I'm not sure about Lukas yet, either. I still have doubts over his suitability for our game plan.

On Saturday, or maybe before then, I hope to do a quick write-up on how we can get the better of the Mackems. Watch this space...