A cloud of sorrow descends on Teeside, thicker than the smog on which the great town itself was spawned. In October 2010 the stars aligned. The perfect man, in the perfect job, at the perfect moment, at his perfect club. If one man could save the reds from a Strachan fuelled implosion, it was Mogga. How differently things have worked out three years later when the man Steve Gibson chose to lead the club back to its former glory has parted ways with his boyhood side. Tony Mowbray is gone. Fred Simon has a look at some of the candidates who have a chance of being Middlesbrough’s next manager.
1. Mike Phelan (2/1 SkyBET)
With the odds shortening faster than you can put money down, the ex-Manchester United assistant is a firm favourite to be Middlesbrough’s next manager. A man well known by Match of the Day viewers to be the only interviewee less charismatic than the previous ‘Boro boss, he has learnt his trade from one of the best. Alex Ferguson (only 500/1 on, so probably worth a pop I reckon) has pumped out enough managers to star their own union. The towering Bryan Robson and umbrella wielding Steve McLaren are just two of Sir Alex’s disciples, to have graced the Teeside dugout. There is a pedigree in the training, but will his lack of experience make him a dangerous choice?
It seems a rare optimism is being shown for Phelan, perhaps an effective, powerful and understated coach who is used to winning could be just what is required to turn the team around.
2. Mark Venus (3/1 BetVictor)
A man accused by many of being part of the problem rather than part of the solution, Steve Gibson has hinted that the current assistant-turned-caretaker manager may be in for a permanent role should results go his way.
In keeping with the boards apparent requirement that every managers must have been raised within a 20 mile radius of the Riverside, previously captained ‘Boro, or have been part of the Manchester United set up, the Hartlepool born second-in-command to Mowbray is at least a fairly local lad. But if Mowbray was responsible for the team’s 2013 demise, then his backroom staff should shoulder a portion the blame too. Venus has the double disadvantage of having never managed a club before, and of having had his reputation tarnished by the disintegration of a team that he will be accused of having helped to create. I give him one match.
3. Ian Holloway (16/1 Ladbrokes)
He has a proven record in the Championship, his teams go up playing classy football, and he is one of the sport’s great characters. Having just left the heights of the Premier League for what is considered to have been a hefty pay-out, will Gibson be able to attract him to the North East to become Middlesbrough’s next manager? If he does ‘Boro will have a good chance of promotion, but the odds are slipping.
4. Jonathan Woodgate (20/1 StanJames)
This speculation warms the hearts of the Teeside faithful. Week in, week out he is celebrated for his true ‘Boro credentials. Jonny Woodgate is a red. But the reds know better than many of the great tradition at the club for ruining their heroes. Mogga, Southgate, Maddren, and Robson have all managed the club after glistening playing careers. All of them have been fired subsequently. They retain their legendary status, but deep down everyone wishes they’d stuck to playing.
With only one bookmaker offering odds it a romantic dream, and unlikely to be anything more.
5. Tony Pulis (25-1 SkyBET)
An efficient rugby manager. Many fans will be dreading the hard tackling, long hoofing, route one tactics of the peak capped Welshman. He proved inspirational at Stoke, but played a vitriolic brand of football. He is an effective coach, but fortunately for the purists, it is looking increasingly likely that he will take the job at Crystal Palace and therefore unlikely to be Middlesbrough’s next manager.
Deep down every fan wants a miracle. A proven home-grown talent. The club found that in Mogga, and it ended is disaster (despite holding the second highest win ratio in the club’s history). The fact that Juninho, Ravanelli, and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink are all in the running shows the hope that remains at the centre of the club. Whomever Middlesbrough get, they will be booed by large sections of support before they even start. There is blood on the lips around the Riverside and their thirst may not be quenched until Gibson, regarded by many to be the best Chairman is English Football, is outed by the club he has devoted so much to.