Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Most people agree that sacking a manager after a few weeks or a handful of matches is ridiculous, but sometimes chairmen go to the other extreme and exhibit reserves of patience that would be beyond most fans.
Given the frantic pace of the soccer industry, Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate can consider himself an extremely lucky man after a season that brought the club just seven league victories, 28 goals and relegation.
Boro chairman Steve Gibson said in a BBC Radio interview this week he was backing Southgate to get the club back in the Premier League next season, vowing not to make the former England international a scapegoat for the club’s relegation.
A lot of people will be wondering why not.
In January 2008, Southgate brought in record signing Brazilian striker Afonso Alves for 12.7 million quid from Heerenveen and let captain George Boateng and fellow midfielder Lee Cattermole go in the close season.
England’s most popular soap operas thrive on a weekly recipe of misery, doom and gloom that is gobbled up by television viewers seeking some relief from their own trials and tribulations.
In that sense, the final weekend of the Premier League season is quite similar.
With Manchester United already polishing the trophy again after sealing a third consecutive title last week, neutral television viewers are salivating at the prospect of watching the suffering of fans of Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Hull City and Sunderland as their clubs desperately scarp for top flight survival.
In Spain, you often hear players and coaches talking about “the sort of match that decides title races”. More often that not they’re talking about the tricky away game against awkward opposition rather than a high profile match against direct rivals.
Manchester United’s 2-0 win away to Middlesbrough on Saturday was just that sort of game, and just the sort of performance that will leave their rivals utterly deflated.
The phrase, if you are interested, was used for many years to describe the passion for football in the region before a scholarly book by reknowned journalist Arthur Appleton “Hotbed of Soccer – the story of football in the North East” was published in 1960 and told a mainly successful story.