Watching Middlesbrough capitulate to Aston Villa on Saturday brought back memories of a similar result two seasons ago, especially in light of who was in charge at the Riverside that day. On February 4, 2006, Steve McClaren presided over a hapless Boro team who lost 4-0 at home to the Midlands club. Indeed, the performance from the home team was so inept that a fan ran the length of the pitch to confront the now-former England boss, before throwing his season ticket at him.
While Gareth Southgate was spared missiles of the ticket variety on Saturday, it’s clear that the former Palace and Villa defender is starting to feel the pressure after a similar defeat against the same opposition.
“The players know my feelings. I am somebody who likes to defend them publicly at all times, but on afternoons like today it is difficult to do that.
“We quite simply have to do better. We are where we are because we deserve to be. Somehow, which is beyond me, we have managed to stay out of the bottom three so we are very, very lucky that that has happened.”
Let me explain, Mr Southgate. You’re spared the ignominy of a bottom-three placing only because Derby are badly out of their depth, Wigan have lost their last eight league matches and Sunderland have a slightly worse goal difference than you. If you think a strikeforce of Downing and Aliadiere are anything near as good as Yakubu and Viduka, then you’re very much mistaken. I’d suggest you ask your ‘understanding’ chairman to dip into those deep pockets of his if he doesn’t want that midweek trip to Scunthorpe next season.