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Thursday, 23 July 2009

Southgate's 'Die For This Club' Appeal Backfires

With star assets Tuncay, Mido, Alfonso Alves and Stuart Downing either gone, openly soliciting a move, or dicking about somewhere in Africa and not replying to his text messages, put-upon Middesbrough manager Gareth Southgate admits that he wishes he hadn't told players that he 'only wanted people who are ready to die for this club.' Since Southgate made this emotional appeal, 29 of the 32 players under contract have left or submitted a transfer request, and the softly-spoken boss conceded yesterday: 'It would have been better just to say something like, I only want players who are really committed. Or just: 'let's all do our best this year''.

Southgate broke out the rhetoric a fortnight ago as transfer speculation dogged his newly-relegated squad. According to Riverside insiders, he was dismayed by - among other failures of team spirit - Downing attending the team meeting already wearing an Aston Villa shirt, and £12.5 million flop Alves shouting 'SO LONG, SUCKERS!' as he drove away from the ground in his Porsche. 'From now on, if you're not prepared to die for Middlesbrough, don't bother coming in,' said Southgate, pausing briefly to allow Tuncay to slip past him to the car park. 'If you don't eat, drink, sleep and shit Boro, there's no point in you being here. I don't care how many players leave, as long as I'm left with people who will walk through fire for Middlesbrough Football Club.'

Transfer requests began to flow almost immediately after this ultimatum, with the entire first-team gone by the end of the day. Many Boro players felt Southgate had set the bar too high. 'I mean, I quite like it here,' said defender Justin Hoyte, 'but who wants to die for Middlesbrough!? It's silly. The ground wasn't even full for half our games last season.' Popular German centre-back Robert Huth agreed, saying: 'Huth will play hard for Boro. Huth will sweat and toil for Boro. But Huth will not go to the grave for them. Huth still has much to offer this world.'

'If he asks us who will get a bit hurt for Middlesbrough, then maybe, OK, I am interested,' remarked playmaker Julio Arca. 'But death is the great unknown. Which of us will walk into the dark, into the infinite, of his own free will? Death is the river which all men must cross, but we cross it only when the ferryman can wait no longer. Also, I can get more money if I go back to the Premier League and half-heartedly play for Blackburn or someone.'

One of the few remaining players, David Wheather, said he would be staying, but 'hoped the gaffer [Southgate] wouldn't call our bluff on the whole dying thing. I was put off a move to Wolves because Mick McCarthy said he wanted players who'd cut their brother's eyes out and spit in the holes for Wolverhampton.'

With only a few weeks to recruit an entirely new playing staff, Middlesbrough are reportedly in talks with the similarly-understaffed Newcastle about a merger. Southgate said: 'if that does happen, I will only want players who are prepared to die for whatever we decide to call the new team.'


  1. Big fan of your blog Mark! Follow you on the old twitter, however, im a bit of a newbie when it come to the whole tweeting business, not sure if i can message you directly or not, so i thought i might aswell comment to you on here!

    Im studying sports journalism at Huddersfield Uni at the moment, love it, live for it, and your football themed blogs are something that I have thought of doing myself, the only problem being I don't think many would take the time to read them.

    And with your high status in comedy and your well known love of football (I know its an obvious attempt at flattery, but I've said it anyway) it would be awsome if I could help in anyway with some of the content for the blog.

    Another cool thing would be if the uni paper would include your blog in their pages as a guest coloumnist, but again totally up to you, but it would be more then awsome to have you help out, or have me help you out!

    My twitter name is Dalios, if you are interested, or even if it's a 'sorry mate, no thanks' thats cool, just let me know on there if you can! Cheers, Dale Chandler

  2. http://soccerspy.blogspot.com

    Mark, Paul has already offered his support for my blog. Can I get you reading it too?