Karanka attempts confidence trick with one eye on Wembley

This weekend we enter the parallel universe of the FA Cup once again, Boro have nudged to one side the trivial matter of a home game to bottom club Sunderland for a chance of glory against the pale blue side of Manchester and the prospect of a trip to Wembley. After seeing off at the Riverside Championship, League Two and League One opposition, those in charge of the numbered balls have decide if Boro are going to win the cup then we’re probably now going to have to beat three of the best sides from the Premier League.

OK for a team who hasn’t beaten a Premier League team for nearly three months this may sound like a big ask, but the cup is not the league and Boro have actually fared pretty well against those top teams still left in the competition – two draws and three single goal defeats. The other good news is that it’s actually possible to lift the trophy without scoring a single goal in open play – so better get practising those spot kicks gents. Though to be fair the FA Cup has been something of goal-fest for Boro this season, having twice knocked in a treble to give us a magnificent seven in total – that’s equivalent to over three-months worth of league net action.

All eyes were on the press conference yesterday as Karanka made his first public appearance since many of us, along with most of the media, have been discussing whether or not he has reached the end at Boro. Though when the eagerly anticipated question of whether he had spoke to Steve Gibson arose, the Boro boss revealed that the only topic of conversation between him and chairman was this weekend’s FA Cup game – well they’ve no doubt exhausted the topic of talking about the weather over dinner during recent weeks, so it must be a welcome distraction to be able to talk about football again.

Though the buzz word for the press conference was ‘Confidence’ – it was everywhere. When the Boro boss was asked whether the fact that Steve Gibson has always been patient and helpful to his managers had given him confidence, he replied “The most difficult moment for me was when I arrived here, but he was the first one who transmitted his confidence. I don’t need to feel that every day.” Indeed the confidence theme continued with Karanka declaring that he and his staff were trying to show their confidence to the players – who he revealed still had a good spirit but were low in confidence following the recent games.

Perhaps the only nod in the direction of the growing pressure on him was when he expressed the view that every situation is new for him as a manager so he must learn, modify his training, know the mistakes he is making and try to give the players all his confidence. Karanka went on to explain that you can train to play more attacking, which he said they have been for several weeks, but all this work is for nothing if the players don’t have the confidence to execute what they have been working on.

So Karanka has been primarily concerned with raising that confidence and he decided to show them a few videos. On hearing the news, some of the players had no doubt started making themselves comfy in anticipation of a box-set of a Game of Thrones – though perhaps ahead of his return to the team Barragan would have gained more from a private viewing of a game of throw-ins. Anyway, the Boro boss plumped for showing the lads some of their best bits, including the decent showing of their trip to Arsenal. Whether this was the perfect antidote for a team who has struggled to score is debatable, though Karanka’s attention to detail appears to have overlooked that the game ended 0-0. Maybe he didn’t want them getting too excited just in case they go all gung-ho at the weekend and besides from his post-match reflections I believe the Swansea game is not in his best bits collection.

I suspect copies of the Daily Telegraph will have been removed from the training ground as part of the positive mood ambience being created. They claimed yesterday that Karanka’s Boro are the second most boring team ever in Premier League history, narrowly being edged out of top spot by George Graham’s Leeds team – apparently we’re like watching paint dry. I couldn’t disagree more – clearly they’ve never attempted to paint a 60 square meter freshly plaster-boarded living room ceiling in the middle of summer – I practically ran with the roller as I tried to avoid lapping marks as the emulsion rapidly dried, it was so exciting I ended up putting on a further 6 coats. Anyway, I better save my paint drying anecdotes for the international break.

So returning back to the quarter-finals, and rather sadly (and perhaps pedantically) this has now become the last chance for football fans to sing Que sera sera, whatever will be will be, we going to Wembley, Que sera sera. Yes, the move to Wembley for the semi-finals has somewhat robbed many fans of this vocal ritual. I mean, what exactly are delirious supporters now supposed to sing as their team goes two-up with ten minutes to play in the semi’s – it just wouldn’t make sense to sing you’re going somewhere when you’re already standing there – clearly the FA haven’t thought through the impact that their ill-conceived premature pilgrimage to the home of football will have on this crooning crescendo rite of passage – You may as well have the teams arrive on the pitch in an open-top double-decker bus holding replica trophies. It has both devalued the competition and cheapened the experience.

Though I’m still unsure how a 1956 Doris Day number became the song of choice for glory-seeking football fans everywhere – besides I find the lyrics are perhaps a tad too philosophical about the possible outcome of your team’s chances in the cup final once they get there – If one of my mates asked me “Won’t it be great if we win the cup?” and I just replied “whatever will be will be” he’d probably assume I wasn’t that bothered and would make plans go with someone else.

Still there’s a long tradition of pop songs making their way onto the terraces so maybe we’ll now see a more fitting anthem emerge one day – though given the latest video technology and the recent trend of pop duets from beyond the grave, perhaps the time has come for Mogga and Doris Day to release ‘It is what it is’- though not rhyming with Wembley could prove to be a problem.

The team news for Saturday will be interesting – though Boro are back in another defensive injury crisis and there is little room to manoeuvre – Ayala and Chambers are definitely out and George is extremely doubtful with a re-occurence of his calf strain. That means Barragan will return at right-back as Fabio moves back to the left, which leaves Gibson and Bernado in the centre with only Dael Fry as back-up. Karanka was being coy about whether Negredo will return but it probably wouldn’t be a smart move to leave him out against his old club if he’s trying to lift spirits. There was no mention of Gaston yesterday but the enigmatic Uruguayan needs to decide if he’s in the boat or sulking in a dingy being towed along by his team-mates. I suspect we’ll see a midfield three as Boro are playing a top-six side and although Adama was poor last time out, without his pace there may be little to worry City.

So will Boro be on their way to Wembley singing Que Sera Sera or will it be Hasta la Vista Baby to the Cup as City terminate our run. As usual give your predictions of Score, Scorers (yes it happens in the cup) and will Barragan have learnt to throw the ball during his absence.

68 thoughts on “Karanka attempts confidence trick with one eye on Wembley

  1. Good work again Werder.
    As a side note, I have seen the film in which that Doris Day song emerged – Hitchcock’s remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Fun, but The Master was capable of much, much better, and proved it elsewhere.

  2. How is it that a man can be employed as a professional footballer and not be able consistently to take a legitimate throw-in? Doesn’t every 10 year old know how to do it?
    Are there any HGV drivers out there who can’t turn left? Or can’t operate a tachograph? It is part of the job, and not a particularly difficult one.
    Really annoys me.

  3. With the semi’s at Wembley we can revive the heartache season song.
    Tell yer mam, yer mam,
    Put the champagne on ice,
    Were going to Wembley twice,
    Tell yer mam, yer mam,
    Tell yer mam, yer mam
    I was sat in a car park near the Baseball Ground after our 2-0 win surrounded by cars full of Boro fans, windows down singing away.
    I am looking forward to the match because it is being played so make the best of it.
    ManU played on a ploughed filed last night hours away from home, they play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge Monday night, on Thursday they play Rostov in the Europa league in their best chance of the Champions League for next season.
    Tomorrow we play Man Citeh at lunchtime, a chance to get some momentum back in to our game and try things out in front of a full house, then over a week to prepare for ManU.
    It is a no brainer, there would be nothing to be gained by a fortnight off when the best remedy could be playing a game with no points at stake.
    I am staying positive about tomorrow, the rest of you can be miserable if you want.

  4. I still love the FA Cup. It was the biggest thing in football (beside the World Cup) when I started to follow football and the Boro’.
    I will go for a tight 2-0 win for the Reds. Gibson and Negredo one each in both halves. And a full house of supporters.
    Up the Boro!

    1. Boro 8 Man City 1
      Oh hang on we’ve done that haven’t we?
      I’ll go for 1 1 each after extra time then Boro win 4 3 on penalties
      Crowd 32452
      I shall be there from 11 am bacon butty at the ready then shouting them on
      All together now from all over the world

  5. I’m going for Boro0 – 4 Citeh. I agree with Spartak and I do not know where the goals will come from for Boro to trouble Citeh. Oh and change the shirt or tuck it in.
    Not optimistic I know.

  6. Very worried after AK’s interview. When it comes to under pressure comments I believe that the general background hum of the words themselves are not important, after all everybody with a brain to think with understands that the victim has to find the right words in the right order to get him out of the room with the maximum amount of dignity(not easy)
    However, it quite often happens that something pops out of the mouth of the victim which is utterly bizarre, so much so that one is taken aback(as in, ‘did he really say those words in that order) and so it was with AK.
    These were the words. Read them and weep. “As long as there is one player who supports me I will stay and fight”
    Hand up those who think that one player can steady the ship?
    Thought so, where it will end god knows?

    1. KP,
      A lot of shots would be a start. They’ll take revenge after that lashing they got from us all those years ago. At least it won’t affect the magic, life saving goal difference.

  7. City will be up for this tomorrow their midweek 0.0 draw with Stoke virtually ending their title hopes and the FA Cup now their only chance of domestic silverware.
    A very strong team for them and it will be too much for us and our weakened defence. I hope we make a game if it to restore some of that “confidence” for the league games ahead but reality says a defeat 0.3 or 0.4!

    1. nevergiveuponboro :
      In reality I’m hoping AK gets his tactics ‘spot on’ + gives his players the freedom to express themselves (a contradiction ?) when given the chance. At least then we’ll have tried our best whatever the outcome.
      We’ll also need an extremely large slice of Lady Luck. If she’s generous I’ll go for Boro to win by the odd goal, the odder the better. 🐕

  8. I’m going for Boro, no shots on target and no goals with Negredo isolated and Traore running down blind alleyways. Espinosa giving the ball away in dangerous areas, Barragan committing two foul throws oh and a sub with 4 minutes to go, losing and a defensive midfielder coming on.
    After match quote, “Today we played really well against a team not in our league and for this I am proud of our players”.

  9. 3-1 City and one more Dream shattered.
    Big crowd, lots of good natured banter and a simmering sense of impending doom.
    Maybe we will put up a fight and we will get the ” If we play like that for the rest of the season, we will be ok ,) but sadly we never do.
    UTB 🍾🍾 🏆

  10. Plato, I wonder whether he has “one player who supports me” at the moment. Recent performances would suggest not.
    By Karanka’s own admission the players, not,surprisingly, are low on confidence. A good time then to play City!!!
    I can’t see how we will ever score a goal and with a patched up defence I can easily see us conceding a few. So 3-0 to City and no escape from the dispiriting league grind.

  11. You are a miserable lot, we can return to gloom come 2.00pm tomorrow, for goodness sake.
    No wonder AV mentioned whingers on the websites. Well shot of us, this is a bit like Christmas, just smile for a few hours.

  12. I keep saying this but I’m sure everyone misses the point with Barragan’s throws – it’s not that he can’t do it, he’s just trying to gain an advantage by throwing them a bit further – he doesn’t actually get pulled up for it that often and I’m sure one of them directly led to a goal at one point.

    1. So what you’re saying is that Barragan is potentially Boro’s Rory Delap – maybe he just needs one of those bar towels stuffed under his shirt like Delap had – though better still he could make use of our shirt’s design feature and replace the white band with a white towel.

      1. Don’t recall a Rory Delap style throw in ever from Barragan, must have missed that one!
        Our throws ins simply go to the nearest shirt in Red marked or not, its one of my several gripes about not having any tactics at set pieces be they corners, free kicks or throw ins. I’m pretty sure if any Boro player let alone Barragan produced a 20 yard throw in I’d have remembered it. Lets face it there hasn’t been much else to get excited about this season.

  13. I can’t see anything other than a defeat. But I don’t really care. I’ve experienced the ‘joy’ of relegation and cup finals in the same season. It didn’t make it easier being at Wembley [or Sheffield] when we got relegated.
    I think I’d rather be playing Sunderland, getting the 3 points we need to edge closer to safety. We won’t win the cup, there are too many very good sides left in, and miracles rarely happen.
    All in all, the sooner they can concentrate on the day job the better.

  14. I’ve reached a point where I don’t really care about the score or our performance anymore. Whatever happens, good or bad, it will be spun by the manager/gazette/ and judging by the lack of response the chairman into a weren’t we plucky, didn’t we have a good go, when the reality is with the teams left we haven’t got a cat in hells chance of winning the cup and it is simply a side show from a very very disappointing and disheartening performance in the league.
    Thought AK’s tenure would be over by now and the doom and gloom that exists around the riverside may have lifted.
    I’ll go again with hope and no doubt leave thinking we kept it tight, we only got beaten by a single goal….. same old same old.
    0-2 city. They’ll take the foot off the gas, we may even have a few shots (hence the plucky tag) and then we’ll get the ‘the players are clearly behind the manager’ and ‘maybe ak is the right man to take us forwards. If we play like that against the lesser teams we’d be….. blah blah blah’
    I’ll say this now look at the league table, the number of wins and the number of goals scored. Wrap it up anyway you want to… it’s a disgrace!!

  15. Just realised in one paragraph predicted a single goal defeat and in the next a 0-2 defeat! I’ll go for the latter. Just venting as the tone of my message probably gave away.
    Just thoroughly fed up at the moment and nearly every fan I talk to seems to feel the same. Ends up being quite depressing.
    Maybe I need different friends?

  16. T-T-Teessider! Some of you seem to have given up already. Let’s show some steel and never give up on supporting Boro.
    Why to be a fan if you don’t have a slight slice of hope anymore?
    We are the mighty Boro and we are better than the rest of our mini league!
    Up the Boro!

  17. Well said Jarkko,
    There are times when I also get a bit tired of the ongoing depression that seems to be taking over – no matter how well written it might be – and long for a bit of sligtly irrational optimism.
    2-1 win and the start of better times.

  18. Just seen the team sheets.
    Rather than count the number of shots we might have, count the number of times we touch the ball in their penalty area. Bet it’s less than five.
    I revise my score prediction to 0-4.

  19. Yes the line ups look rather ominous. Stuani and traore providing the bullets for the prolific gestede! Meanwhile our defence is looking severely weakened. Gulp!!

  20. Keeper is their weakness, shoot on sight.
    Traore just to hound high up the pitch as they pass their way in to trouble.
    Those are our main hopes.
    On paper and probably on grass it should be a comfortable win for City. First thing is to make it uncomfortable and take it from there.

  21. Well that’s more or less the team line-up I expected except Karanka’s continued with Gestede instead of Negredo. What’s left of the defence picked itself, it was always going to be three defensive midfielders, Gaston was not showing up, Downing was naughty-stepped so Stuani was favourite for the left with Adama back on the right as his pace might trouble them.
    Boro will no doubt keep it tight and try to catch them on the break – could probably go to extra time this one and then who knows? Hopefully that wasn’t too irrational 🙂

  22. First continuing thanks Werder and the time taken, all consuming at the moment for you.
    Just seen the team sheet, not much rotation there by City……unless something out of the ordinary happens, nil-3 to them.
    For those interested, looks like there is a stream on VipLeague.

  23. Could be worse.
    Despite City carving out enough good chances to have sown it up, we look a lot better than usual going forward. Gestede looked to have the beating of the City defence for every cross and it’s a real shame that he had to go off. Stuani should have scored with his header. If we ride our luck, we could get something out of this. Of course, City could score at any moment.

  24. Could have got something out of it?
    Rose tinted doesn’t come close. This could’ve been a cricket score. And as I said before the game started our starting line up today was dreadful. We are a far weaker team/squad than the one that got promoted. How has that been allowed to happen?
    Rank bad management!

  25. I didn’t say that we deserved it but at 1-0 down at half time anything was possible. Yes, City were in a different league to us and should have scored 6 but they didn’t.
    I’m not going to throw a fit because we lost to one of the best teams in the country. The interesting thing is that City definitely looked vulnerable to crosses.

  26. I don’t mind losing either particularly against a side with the quality of city.
    But that starting line up was dreadful. And if that is our strongest line up we are relegated.
    Where would the goals come from in that team? Traore has never scored. Gestede who has a career goals of one every seven games. The same stuani.
    And that’s before you get into the fact that there career stats in a boro shirt will generally be worse because they’re unsupported and totally isolated as there are only three offensive minded players on the pitch.
    It’s not rocket science. It’s blatantly obvious and yet people were still talking about how valiant we were in defeat.
    Read my post earlier today. 0-2 city and ‘didn’t we do well’ and if only we battled as hard against the poorer teams. No mention that our tactics and line up made it a stroll in the park for city.

    1. I thought we looked better up front with Gestede and he won a lot in the air and created.
      Unfortunately injuries to him and Bernardo restricted the use of our substitutes.
      Apart from one underhit back Pass Dael Fry loooked a bright prospect.
      So who were my mom
      If anyone looked like a £50m player it was Ben Gibson who had a great game.
      Clayton had a great game and looks like he is going from strength to strength against the top teams
      I’ll give third place to Guzan who made a string of good saves and kept the scoreline respectable
      De Roon was energetic and played better than he did last week against Stoke
      One sour note was the boos from the North Stand when Ramirez came on. It does no one any favours to boo your own player
      Ramirez ran straight down the tunnel at the final whistle but did actually track back on a few occasions
      Traore had a lot of misplaced passes in this game but made a great run in the second half which created a great chance for Boro
      Haven’t seen the replays but thought there was a suspicion of off side for their first goal
      Too many players ball watching Bernardo especially for the first goal.
      Just hope we can get a centre half fit for the next few games as we are running out of players quickly for this position.
      So disappointing but not surprising so as the saying goes
      “Let’s concentrate on the league “

      1. Oh and one thing referees always seem to give the decisions to the top clubs
        Boro players booked left right and centre whilst the fouls by City on the whol were unpunished and no cards

  27. We were lucky to keep the score down to 2. I know we had acouple of chances but if we had scored they may have just gone through the gears. They didn’t look like they ever got of 2nd gear. Adams should have been hooked a lot earlier, one good run doesn’t make up for all the poor positional play, it looked like everybody on the pitch were telling him. There is no shame in loosing to a very good team but we are poor…

  28. Just one last comment. The team that got promoted had Ramirez, downing, ayala, adomah as key players.
    Is what we’ve got now better than those?
    Whose fault is that?

    1. You can probably add Rhodes and more importantly Dimi to that list of players who have been treated very badly.
      🔴 Just another reminder that House Rules prefer it if you don’t slip into using words that you feel you need to spell with similar looking numbers instead of letters – I edited it but I think that’s what you meant – werdermouth

  29. How biased was Mcmanaman on commentary???
    Any fault with Adama was a fundamental flaw, Bigger problem with Sane (cross goes out for a throw in) and “something” has distracted his attention from the ball.
    There has to be some sort of mechanism to stop former players from taking part in football broadcasts if they can not remain neutral.
    Also thought that Boro for the most part looked OK without in any way looking like getting anything out of the game.
    I look forward to a much improved last part of the season.
    P.S. – Teapot, do you genuinely think that Dimi is a better Keeper than Valdes ??

  30. Coulda , Woulda, Shoulda…
    Really insipid performance yet again, there’s a couple hours of my weekend I will never get back. I realised tonight on the other side of the world ,how often I have watched in the early hours of the morning with hope and excitement and yes I have been infuriated lots of times but mostly it was worth the effort. Always wore one of my many shirts ( never the gastric band abomination). Tonight it dawned on me after 2 minutes and the first goal, that I do not even bother with the shirt anymore, I knew the rest of the match would drain what little enthusiasm or positivety I could muster. This season has been a real descent into mediocrity.
    Our much vaunted defence is looking very mediocre, the amount of space we gave them was really embarrassing, stupid fouls, mindlessly booting the ball upfield. Why play your reserve keeper when the defence could do with someone who has played all season to marshall the defence. We couldn’t score in a brothel so where the hell is Bamford and why did we offload Nugent and Rhodes. I know which two I would prefer to see up front. So that’s that little daydream over ,no excuse now not to give Karanka the “Thanks and good luck with your next job ”
    Gibbo looked totally bored up in his perch (yawning) and his daughter ? Looked like she was playing games on her phone.
    Boring boring Boro we deserve whatever snide comments the experts throw our way.
    Back to the Championship rebuild and come back and make a statement ” We are the Boro and we will show that we deserve to be here”

    1. The point about the strikers is spot on. 10 million on bamford with add ons and he’s not even in the squad. It makes no sense.
      I looked at the team sheet today and thought where will the goals come from?
      I then looked at the subs and thought where are the game changers on there?
      Surely he can see we were incredibly negative last season with only four offensive players on the pitch and now we’re down to three. (And not even our best three due to the manager falling out with half the first team squad.)
      So much for a squad and being in it together.
      Ak has steadily got more and more divisive as time has passed. And as he does so he gets even more stubborn and set in his ways, adamant he won’t back down as he’s right.
      Look at the league table I guarantee you’re not right.
      Thoroughly depressing and meanwhile hull get three points when apparently they only had 14 fit players at the start of the season.
      Funny what a change of manager can do.

  31. What’s The Story?
    No Saturday Morning Glory.
    But Whatever… Roll With It. Don’t Look Back In Anger. Stop Crying Your Heart Out. Or Boro will Slide Away. Definitely, not Maybe.
    D’You Know What I Mean?

    1. Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody I got some money because I just been paid how I wish I had some one to talk to I’m in an awful state

      1. Another fella told me he watched a team that played just fine, instead of being my deliverance they played with strange resemblance to a cat name frankenstein

Leave a Reply