The woes of Gareth Southgate

by Dexy Longshot

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

The woes of Gareth Southgate

New Year, New Sack Race

The old (rather lame) gag did the rounds back in 1996: What’s the fastest way to leave Wembley? Through the South Gate.

Ever since he stepped up to the plate, taking on the mantle of the last England player who you’d want to take a sudden-death penalty, Gareth Southgate’s career has become a series of stumbles and falls. It’s a far cry from the days of his towering performances at the heart of the Villa defence, but his transition to management has been swift and his learning curve quickly grafted by a Premier League season which is fast becoming something of a transition for many clubs.

Fair play to the guy, he’s done well for steadying a club which has never been too certain of its status as a Premier League side in the past 10 years or so. It’s a club with a fiercely passionate fanbase, and who can forget Jeff Stelling’s tour de force argument in favour of the Boro, but their identity remains questionable.

The only problem for Mr Southgate is simple; he’s next. All of the clubs in the bottom half of the league have already made their changes where needed, or are prepared to hold on to their manager for long-term prospects. It’s also the sheer competitiveness of this year’s league which means there’s no club with any serious work to do. Here’s the current table as it stands at the beginning of 2009:


11th Bolton 23 points
Manager: Gary Megson

In a fairly safe position by their standards, but still a bit of work to do for next year.


12th Portsmouth 23 points
Manager: Tony Adams

Poor Tone’s picked up Pompey at a very bad time. Early calls for a quick change seem too trigger-happy for a man who’s only held the job for five minutes.


13th Man City 22 points
Manager: Mark Hughes

Hughes has the backing of the board, but more importantly it’ll be mega-million spending very shortly. Expect silly money for silly players.


14th Newcastle 22 points
Manager: Joe Kinnear

Ashley’s now committed and Joe’s become a fan favourite. Safe for now.


15th Sunderland 22 points
Manager: Ricky Sbragia

Just appointed Sbragia; his job’s safe for the rest of the season at the very least.


16th Tottenham 20 points
Manager: Harry Redknapp

Harry’s also safe, provided he doesn’t do the unthinkable and take Spurs down.


17th Middlesbrough 20 points
Manager: Gareth Southgate

Above the relegation zone on goal difference.


18th Stoke City 20 points
Manager: Tony Pulis

Even if they go down, Stoke fans will be proud of the effort they gave it this season. Pulis is safe.


19th Blackburn 18 points
Manager: Sam Allardyce

Big Sam’s also just put pen to paper. Safe job.


20th West Brom 18 points
Manager: Tony Mowbray

Relegation favourites but by no means out of it. Mowbray’s the right man for the gig.

It’s quite something that, in theory, any team from that list is one defeat from falling in to the drop zone. But of that list, Gareth Southgate is the man who’s by far and away the clear favourite to be the first casualty of the new year. Clubs which are changing their head honchos are gifted with refreshed and revitalised teams that had completely lost their way under old stewardship.

Despite losing by only a single goal on a tricky Yuletide fixture at Old Trafford, Gareth Southgate has it all to do in January to justify his position. He certainly couldn’t afford to give the cupset fans what they wanted against Barrow. And he’ll certainly need to get results from games against Sunderland and West Brom before a terrifying midweek away trip to Chelsea. If results fail to improve, poor Gareth might not even be in charge when Blackburn come to the Riverside on the final day of the month.

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  • jackie emu

    A good balanced write up…how ever I’d argue (time will tell) that Southgate is next for the chop even should the unthinkable happen…Gibson is a loyal man and can see Southgate is building and building. We have a youthful team which given time will blossom…hopefully.

    I’d say Adams/Hughes are next for the chopping block.

  • Darren

    I don’t profess to be the biggest the Middlesbrough fan, however I admire both Steve Gibson and Gareth Southgate. In Gibson they have a great chairman who personally replies to fan mail and supports the team both on a business level and a football one.

    Southgate is very down to earth and always mingles with the fans, after the London games he will meet up with the London Reds, chat and have a beer with them, how many managers would do that? Imagine Wenger or Fergi having a beer with the fans? I think not.

    However, my only concern is Boro are a club that always seem to going forward without actually getting anywhere. They are a ground hog day club. There’s no denying they have a good youth set up and produce quality players. Every season they flirt with the top 6 only to fade for a relegation struggle. I suppose supporting Boro must feel exacting like supporting England. Promise so much yet deliver so little…

  • Secret Ray

    I wouldn’t miss Boro if they were to fall out of the big time league. Most of their fans wear second hand jeans that smell of old mans spare rooms

  • Dan Church

    I dont mind Boro so much…..aside from the fact that my team pretty much beat them everytime and i fully expect to get them in the next round of the FA Cup should we both progress…..but they just dont seem to have any personality. when was the last time anything contraversial came out of Teesside ?? The Dowling saga is as close as we have come in recent times. They didnt even have the good grace to loose to Barrow in order to make it onto the back pages. I have nothing against them as a team or an area, but they just fail to hold my attention in anyway.

  • jackie

    boro have had their moments…

    when we dared to sign ravanelli and junhino…that made the world and the evening standard take notice…and grumble how dare they who do they think they are…

    3pts deducted…wrongly!

    losing both cups and getting relegated

    two count them two ….3-0 down come backs in the quarter and semi final of the uefa cup by scoring in the last minute to win 4-3…not mentioned much because we’re an unfashionale northern team.

    and the buying some sausages saga.

    now tell me what fulham/wigan/west brom/stoke/blackburn/sunderland have done in the last ten years more exciting! i think you’ll struggle.

  • Stevie

    I bet they’ve had more 0-0’s then anyone one else though!

  • jackie emu

    prove it…and i bet it’s fulham off the top of my head.

  • Darren

    I’ve fallen asleep the most times watching Liverpool games, followed by Fulham & Everton…

  • Jamie Farrier

    They are great moments, but all of them have resulted in no silverware. If they’d actually won the UEFA cup/Carling Cup/FA Cup then I’m sure we’d all be paying a great deal of attention and would be much more successful.

    The 3 point deduction back in 97 was perfectly justified. Boro called the game off on their own whim at the last minute. If anything, they deserved to have points docked for sticking two fingers up at their supporters who had made the journey to Blackburn. The fact is back then, Robson could’ve fielded a youth team, lost 10-0 on the day and they would’ve still stayed up!

    If Middlesbrough can reproduce the promise they showed during the Juninho era, plus go one further and become one of the true underdog trophy winners, then Southgate’s job is safe and I think everyone will tip their hat to Teeside.

  • jackie emu

    very funny we won the carling cup in 2004!

    as for 3 points we were told the day before we could have the fixture cancelled…the FA went back on their word.

    also by that virtue of punishment West Ham should not only be docked points but thrown out of the league…But they won’t be because of the players link in 66′ and Sir trevor bloody Brooking…West Ham were given such an easy ride.

    I still argue there is worse and more boring teams in the premiership.

  • Dan Church

    I must admit, during both those Uefa cup games i was in the pub cheering them on and going crazy at the last minute winners… not denying that there are duller teams in the league, i flatly refuse to watch Fulham play, even tho Bullard owns the pub round the corner to my house. and im not denying that Boro havnt had half decent seasons in the past, but this season and last they just seem to be a bit flat…….

  • Stevie

    Merson weekly Boro rant, quality! They should be looking at finishing no better then 4th bottom. Alves aint worth 12 m, Mido aint worth 6m, thats 18m wasted!!

  • Dan Church

    just out of interest, ive just heard on Sky Sports that the most 0-0’s this season is 5, held by both Fulham and Liverpool…….

  • Darren

    I heard that too. I wonder who has had the 0-0’s in Premiership history? Boro must be up there!

    I fell asleep again watching Liverpool, I’m still shock as to how they are top of the table. Rafa’s rant was pointless as there was no need for it and if anything it back fired big time…

  • jackie

    don’t be daft boro rarely have 0-0 we can’t keep clean sheets and never have…

    someone should find the stat…i’m guessing it’s everton.

  • Darren

    Bolton must be up there. The Spuds have had only had 4 in 100 games. I know that one. I also know that are totally crap and a laughing stock. They are also the 4th richest team in Britain, watch out in tomorrow blog when all will be revealed…

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