Millwall 2 – 1 Boro

Millwall Middlesbrough
Downing 67′
On target
On target

Big bullies batter Boro boys

Redcar Red reports on the defeat at The Den…

The pre game intro piece about the dark skies and the dark blue shirts along with highlights of segments of the game felt pretty meaningless at 5.00pm so what follows is now curtailed, blunt short and sweet, mindful that sometimes less is more.

A daunting trip to one of football’s toughest, roughest football environs saw GM stick with the slick passing side that delivered against Ipswich last week. If it was questionable before KO the folly of playing thoroughbreds against agricultural beasts soon began to unravel after the opening quarter of an hour. Route one aggressive brutal football seemed to terrify at least four or five in red shirts. Even our talismanic terrier turned into Santa Claus nine days early by gifting presents complete with ribbons on a few occasions.

Braithwaite was feisty but ineffective; Assombalonga was surplus to our battling needs as he found himself off side when we needed street smart striker savvy. Bamford was pretty well anonymous after the first half. Howson seemed to be chasing and clattering but never in control. Christie like Randolph has lost his mojo after their Danish mauling. Ayala was as ungainly and awkward as has been his want of late, Ben alongside looked powerless to prevent his defence dissolving all around him. Fabio had gusto but lacked end product, overall a very poor showing from Boro.

Three shots on target compared to eight for Millwall tells a damning story. Millwall don’t play football they simply bury you, bombard you, they fight and scrap for everything leaving no mercy. Hoof the ball forward, play for corners and set pieces, close down and fight. It was like Dirty Harry versus the Sound of Music. Incredibly GM didn’t see fit to change things at half time as his pantomime ponies were trampled by the farmyard Clydesdales. Sending players out early does not come across as a management masterstroke with no change to address the obvious shortcomings at half time and in doing so totally wasted the opening moments of the second half as we needed to claw our way back into the game but it’s difficult to claw your way back into a scrappy affair with manicured nails.

When the changes came they were disconnected. Gestede came on yet we done nothing to address the requirement to provide service to him, a limited Footballer but one that can win balls in the air yet those balls never came until late on. Downing one of our better deliverers was covering for the departed Howson. That alone smacked of a confused knee jerk not fully thought out team tactic and simply highlighted the Managers inability to select tactics suitable for the occasion and failed further in being able to address those shortcomings mid game.

GM claimed in his after match interview that he had prepared his side all week for a very direct game yet his side looked more like they had prepared for a weekend of flower arranging. They were bullied and many of them bottled it yet there was nothing changed to address the Lions brash tactics. I do feel some sympathy towards GM for the shambolic defending but this afternoon is yet another tick in the charge list against him. Too many times, too many games and too many instances of shortcomings as that charge sheet builds. Those basic mistakes he referred to are without doubt a genuine complaint and the naivety he laid at his charges door are without doubt fair but who is responsible for organising them. Someone has to show leadership, define and enforce standards with consequences for bottlers. If you coach and train players all week prepared for an onslaught and your side look weak, soft and intimidated then you have clearly failed in your objective.

One player looked reasonable and again that was Downing, incredible that week in week out he keeps delivering consistently decent performances yet the rest of the squad are hit and miss.

Prior to KO I thought that today Monk would have brought in Clayts alongside Grant in view of the anticipated battle. Assombalonga has scored goals but in the last few games he hasn’t offered much else and in a scrap he doesn’t offer much at all, that said there were nine others out there on the pitch that collectively didn’t offer much either.

Results like this happen over a season but again it was the nature of the defeat. Disjointed and disorganised but in this case there was no fight, spirit or bottle, no plan B. Stewys spawny goal gave undeserved hope and highlighted the fact that it was down to incompetence of the opposition keeper rather than brilliant game management and a tactical masterclass from GM.

The better team “on paper” lost yet again but more alarmingly they didn’t look like they had anything in reserve or on the bench to change things. Once again another false dawn under this Manager has come and gone. The manner of his after match interview told me that he is now out of ideas and struggling to see where things are going wrong. GM said he feels like a broken record, maybe it’s time SG realises that if not broken the record is certainly very badly scratched and like as not beyond repair.

Monk sees the moment for momentum

Werdermouth previews the trip to Millwall…

Following the momentous victory over a team in the top half of the table last week, Garry Monk has called on his team to take the opportunity to move forward and build momentum. Although, his chosen metaphor sounded like the team is still lucky to be walking as he expressed his frustrations with “We’ve taken steps forward already this season, and then shot ourselves in the foot and taken a few steps backwards”. Personally, it doesn’t sound like a good idea to take step backwards after shooting yourself in the foot as you could easily fall badly – perhaps that is why Boro have put in some limp performances in this campaign.

In a week when Manchester City set a record of 15 consecutive victories in the Premier League, Boro head to Millwall looking to extend their own winning run – albeit to two. As football writers desperately seek a suitable metaphor for the literal act of entering the Lion’s Den, it only remain to say the visitors will be facing a difficult situation as they walk out in the hostile environment that is Millwall’s ground. I suspect none more so than Ayala who will be hoping he’s on first name terms with the Lions as he instead proves to be a thorn in their side as they come forward to attack – though whether he’ll manage to keep his paws off them in the penalty area is another matter and is indeed not in the script of the more famous book.

So as the Boro players head a little belatedly to London to undertake their Christmas shopping, they will first need to stop off in Millwall to carry out some contractually required obligations that is expected of them by their employers. In this season of goodwill to all men, Boro have have decided it is now time to be a little more mean spirited and stop parking their sleigh in front of their goal and offering gifts to many of those who ask questions of the defence. It’s possible that even Adam Clayton may be contemplating regrowing his impressively long beard in a bid to escape exile in his grotto and get in on the act by being the secret tattooed Santa at the centre of the exchanges by those less gifted.

Although the sleeping Lions lie down in 17th spot, three-quarter of their points have come from home games – with five victories, including wins over Sheffield United, Leeds and Norwich. They’ve actually only conceded one more goal than Boro this season but have scored five fewer – so although they trail Garry Monk’s men by nine points, their performances appear not too far behind on paper. Indeed, Millwall have only conceded two goals in their last four home games at the Den so Boro will need to be on the front foot from the start – as well as avoiding shooting at it!

Millwall Middlesbrough
Neil Harris Garry Monk
P21 – W5 – D8 – L8 – F22 – A21 P21 – W9 – D5 – L7 – F27 – A20
Points per game
Projected points
Points per game
Projected points
Last 6 Games
Aston Villa (A)
Sheff Utd (H)
Fulham (A)
Hull (H)
Sunderland (A)
Burton (H)
F-T (H-T)
0:0 (0:0) D
3:1 (1:1) W
0:1 (0:1) L
0:0 (0:0) D
2:2 (2:1) D
0:1 (0:0) L
Last 6 Games
Ipswich (H)
Bristol City (A)
Derby (H)
Birmingham (H)
Leeds (A)
Sunderland (H)
F-T (H-T)
2:0 (1:0) W
1:2 (0:0) L
0:3 (0:1) L
2:0 (2:0) W
1:2 (0:1) L
1:0 (1:0) W

Following victory over Ipswich last week there was an expectation that it wouldn’t be long before we would start to hear proclamations from some in the Boro camp that the season was back on track. Thankfully we haven’t been disappointed, after keeping a clean sheet at the Riverside Ben Gibson has declared the team have ‘rediscovered their defensive resilience’ and has now set a target of keeping 23 clean sheets this season to spark a promotion challenge, before further announcing (gulp) that Boro can ‘go all the way’ – though he added it may ultimately not be this season. Whilst it’s possible Boro defended better it should be viewed in the context that Mick McCarthy’s men were not the most adventurous visitors we’ve seen and the Tractor Boys never really got out of second gear as they sat back on their own land, rarely threatening the goal of the townies of Teesside.

Though this recent declaration shouldn’t be confused with a similar one made by the manager just over a month ago in the international break when he claimed Boro had “struck the right balance” following three successive victories over Reading, Hull and Sunderland. Garry Monk had admitted in previous games his side “were not paying enough attention to their defensive responsibilities”. Whether everyone then felt that was job done and the problem was sorted and our promotion challenge was back on track was not eluded to, but after the break that defensive problem returned in spades with three defeats in four games after some quite frankly laughable defending produced a whole series of comedy of errors that left few on Teesside smiling. Still it’s reassuring to know that this time the team are convinced that our defensive resilience is back.

Just in case you were wondering why the defensive side of Boro’s game had been neglected, though I’m sure you’ve already guessed, Monk pleaded guilty to something that many had long suspected was happening by saying “we’ve been focusing on the offensive a bit too much”. Yes all those goals and chances had come at a price (other than the £50m of course) – that free-flowing football that had kept many supporters out of their seats from August to October as they cursed Monk’s Keeganesque approach that was being played out in front of them instead of the solid Karanka wooly comfort blanket they deep down craved. The new Boro manager was still trying to find the right balance and many will be puzzled that in his head he’d been seemingly imagining the sideways and backward passing in our own half was all just a bit too gung ho.

It appears that following the crisis defeat at Bristol City, enough was enough – Boro needed to be more solid and if that meant passing the ball forwards then so be it. Tricking the opposition into thinking Boro were not attacking by windscreen-wiper passing was now off the agenda. Boro’s forwards, particularly Braithwaite, had also been told not to try and set up Darren Randolph with goal assists. In a desperate attempt to shore up a team leaking goals, Patrick Bamford has been recalled to run away from the Boro goal and try and kick it towards the opposition – or failing that to another team-mate in front of him. OK, it will probably lead to less goalmouth action – especially in out own half – but something needed to change if Boro were to make a promotion challenge.

Whilst Man City’s timely winning run has been ably assisted by Jesus – that’s the one pronounced Jay-Zuss by football commentators (presumably in case they inadvertently upset viewers who may think they are cursing when they suddenly shout out his name) – many Boro supporter’s prayers have been answered with the return of St Patrick, who last week was instrumental in the more proactive approach and even managed to snake his way through the Ipswich defence to seal victory. For those who have been following the Boro star, he is now part of a promising trio up front where the three wise heads of Downing, Bamford and Braithwaite all have good control of the ball that are capable of linking up intelligently together if they are allowed game-time to develop.

Though this week Garry Monk was dealt a major blow when it emerged that one of his multi-million pound midfielders has been sidelined for the foreseeable future – Yes, never-present former lad from Watford, Guedioura, has Tweeted from Qatar to reveal he has been ruled out with a hamstring tear. Obviously, treatment is probably not available in the rather cold climate of Teesside at this time of year and it’s still not clear if this untimely injury, which has reduced the manager’s options on who to have on the bench for the development squad, will rule him out from the January sales too.

As for which team Monk will opt for, well it’s probably a good bet that we’ll see an unchanged team given that there are no other injury worries. The key to last week was playing with a number ten who appeared to know how to actually play the role and Patrick Bamford was able to both pass the ball, hold it up, run with it and even score – probably not since Gaston Ramirez have we seen someone in a Boro shirt look effective in that position. It was his first start in over ten weeks and Monk has challenged him to remain in the team – though perhaps the challenge should be the other way round as he was previously dropped when playing some of his best football – maybe the challenge is actually for his manager to recognise the difference he brings to the team.

So will Garry Monk get a step closer to equalling his Boro record of winning three games in a row? Or will the Lions hunger be greater than that of his slightly peckish promotion-seeking players? As usual your predictions on score, scorers and team selection – plus will a red-nosed Rudy come on to shine and leave Millwall with red faces?

275 thoughts on “Millwall 2 – 1 Boro

    1. The eye are back, is it a good sign?

      Lions 2 – 1 Lion

      Years ago at Waterloo in one of the subways a Millwall fan had sprayed the immortal words ‘Millwall Loins Rule’. Maybe he wasn’t talking about football, who knows?

      I saw Boro play at the Den in 1969, I think Boro won, and in my naivety I was cheering a Boro goal and an old chap told me I’d be sensible to leave before the end, go for a pee and don’t come back you’ve been noticed. I took his advice and did just that. The Den never struck me as a friendly place after that. Coldblow Lane seemed somehow appropriately named.



      1. I too was at that game as a 9 year old with my Dad. As a youngster I was decked out in my bobble hat and scarf (hand knitted of course!) and I remember my Dad telling me in no uncertain terms to put them in my pocket and keep my mouth shut as we walked back (well he walked and I ran) back to the car!

      2. Very good – Top Graffiti!

        I’m reminded of a story a few years back about ‘Grammar Man’ who went around correcting spelling and punctuation on Graffiti.

        Here’s one example – Someone wrote “Phoebe waz ere innit Brav” and he corrected it to “Phoebe was here isn’t it brother” before adding “Terrible spelling and very poor use of grammar, this is murder of the English language” – See below

        Grammar Man

  1. Cunning plans- donncher love em?
    Amidst the hurly burly of matches,(in which we played, badly, pitifully, well, or a mixture of all) one tactic featured, leaving nobody up field.
    Amazingly, this meant that the ball was put back into our box every time, in every match by the two burly defenders standing with their hands in their pockets thirty metres out.
    Will someone please tell Mr monk that it Is not working, please stop it at once.

    1. Yes Jarkko, he sure was as a manager. Also Colin Cooper spent a couple of seasons there as a player, made 77 appearances, and I seem to recall Millwall and Boro fans playing a series of matches against each other with proceeds going to the Finlay Cooper Foundation.

  2. Great lead article as always Werder and loved the lion analogies.

    Assuming that no one is injured then I suspect that we will see the same team as the Ipswich game albeit I am still not happy with Fabio and Downing playing on the wrong sides.

    Millwall is always a difficult and hostile place to go to. I remember being at the old Den and having pennies (pre decimal) thrown at me which had sharpened edges!

    Some of the natives are, I believe, still as hostile and they will give the Boro players a torrid time and test their nerve.

    Unfortunately, I can’t see us getting anything in the way of points but could get a few yellows or even a red.

    I hope that all Boro supporters attending the match have a trouble free day and return home safely.

    Millwall 2-0 Boro 😎

  3. Great article as ever Weder, you get my nomination for a Masterman every time! Not forgetting RR and Si of course.

    I am going for the Lions 0 – Roary 1 in a scrappy game with a sending off (probably Ayala) who was unable to keep his paws off the mane of a lion.

    Hopefully our pride will be restored and the headline will be Ferocious Boro tame the Lions.


    Ps – safe travels for all the magnificent supporters going to the game!

  4. GT

    Part of the flaw in the debate is that the team has to
    1.Stop the opposition kicking the ball towards your sticks
    2. Having done that you pass to a player wearing the same coloured shirt.
    3. Pass forward to another player with the same coloured shirt.
    4. Kick it towards the other teams white sticks.
    5. Sign players capable of doing the above.
    6. Pick players capable of doing the above.

    We seem to be struggling in one or more of those tasks.


  5. Another quality pre match piece Werder thanks very much.

    Onto today then. Well Millwall have won 5 games so far, all at home, so unless Monk has them up for it it could be a disappointing afternoon in saarf Laandon. For what it’s worth I think we need to be positive from the off, play a high tempo, get at them and knock a few goals in without reply.

    Sounds simple enough but we all know how this simple game becomes over complicated by the “experts”.

    Would love a repeat of the 1-5 thrashing we gave them when Vossen bagged a hat trick but would be happy with a scrappy 0-1.

    1. Thanks for that FAA, I think if we win 5-1 there will be a queue of players ready to proclaim Boro are going up automatically – though I’m willing to overlook this hype if they do indeed thrash Millwall!

  6. My one trip to the New Den will probably be my only trip. Fair play to the supporters for creating an intimidating atmosphere within the ground, but the violence in and around I experienced has persuaded me not to return.

    Though one player does not make a team, if we don’t utilise Bamford we’re unlikely to win.

    1 all.

  7. Visited the New Den to see Boro once many years ago. I remember not being nearly as afraid or intimidated as I had feared.

    Anyway, I’ll not be visiting there again any time soon, and definitely not today.

    I’m anxious about which Boro will show up today. I can’t claim to be at all confident and I fear our play off hopes may take a knock today. At best I think we will steal a draw, but I think we are more likely to go down, perhaps 2-0.

    Praying that my appalling prediction record holds good today… COB

  8. Happy to sacrifice the cricket if Boro do well at Millwall. Living in London for many years, seeing Boro play away was what I used to look forward to but a trip to Cold Blow Lane always carried an air of quiet desperation. No scarf,no hat and as little chat as possible. I seem to remember us escaping with an occasional win and some draws. Would a draw be OK today? It’s nice to think that we could sneak it. Two nil. One for Britt and one for Bamford.


  9. I think today’s game is perhaps nearly as crucial as the one last week – Boro have to try and close the gap on the top six and not let it grow. Derby play Villa today and Sheff Utd are away at Preston, which gives us an opportunity to get within three points of the playoffs.

    Next week will be the halfway point in the season and if Boro are more or less within touching distance of the top six we can probably think that a better second half to this campaign should maybe be enough to get us into those playoffs. We know Boro have not performed to their best so far, which means any improvement in our general performances is probably going to be enough.

    The danger is that we don’t get anything from the next two games and are left something like 8 or 9 points adrift – it would also mean that it would also be a difficult January transfer window to attract players looking at clubs who are promotion prospects. Though it’s not quite like the PL last year when players were unconvinced a move to a relegation favourite was in their interests. In the Championship money talks a bit louder than what league you will be in next season – besides many Championship players are not capable of making the step up to the top tier, so they are maybe looking first at the package.

    I think where Boro are at now is that the idea we had a big squad of quality players has turned out to be more hype than reality. As it stands I don’t see many outside the expected first XI to be challenging for a start. Fletcher, Shotton, Baker and Roberts have all but disappeared – Gestede, Adama, Johnson, Clayton, Friend and Forshaw have become bench-warmers – with Fry and Tavernier now appearing to be cover options. It’s hard to see any of those putting any real pressure on the current starting XI with perhaps only Gestede and Adama offering something different from the bench.

    I’m expecting Boro to win today as realistically Millwall are nothing special and Monk will be hopefully drilling into the players the need to force the game and not go back to our passive tentative going-nowhere approach to games.

    So I’ll take a punt on 3-0 and an unchanged team with goals for Assombalonga, Bamford and Braithwaite.

    1. Take a rest, Werder. You must have worked too much as the 0-3 prediction shows 😉

      Anyway, great work this blog as ever. I hope you are right with the result.

      Up the Boro!

    2. We have to man up for this game

      The likes of Braithwaite amd Howson were outmuscled by Leeds amd their game seemed to
      Be very withdrawn.

      So Boro need to be up for it today and fight for it

  10. Millwall is a difficult place to go but if Monk picks the same team as last week we have a chance of winning but only by the odd goal. If he tinkers with the team we will lose and our play-off hopes take a serious dent.

    On the basis that he plays an unchanged team I can see a 2-1 win with Braithwaite and Ayala the scorers.

  11. I think ultimately I’m looking to see a performance by Boro that indicates the team are moving forward and actually building on last week – if we get a return to backwards and sideways passing with a lack of intent then we can expect very little other than lower mid-table in a drifting season.

    1. That’s exactly my anxiety Werdermouth. There are no games left when a reversion to type is acceptable. Let’s hope you are right and I am wrong in our outlooks for today.

      1. P.S. sorry, very remiss if me to thank you for the great preview starting this thread. As others have said, you have a gift with the written word that you share continually.

  12. To the point of being repetative, Werder thanks for another great read.

    Have paid my 6 euros so just hoping for the best and finding the stream. As you and others have said the minimum is to start with intensity with the ball in their half. We have to be brave, we have to be up for it to get anything from this game, and in reality only a win will do.

    If we are way off the play offs come January I would not give Mr Monk a penny. Too many players have been disappointments, quantity yes, quality, very little. Lots of wasted money.

  13. As expected an unchanged line-up today – let’s see if they’re up for the challenge and it’s not another false dawn as Garry Monk demanded shouldn’t happen.

    BTW Thanks as ever for the supportive comments Pedro and Powmill

  14. I listened to Maddo pre match talking about Bamford, all the attributes for playing number 10. His running does him no favours, looks languid. All the skills dropping in to space, deft touches.

    Managers maybe don’t fancy him because of his numbers.

    Maybe Maddo has been on here.

  15. This game will be a test of character rather than ability.

    Last week was fine, though Mick McCarthy observed that it’s all very well to be playing the ball around with freedom and confidence when you’re one up, but the Boro were moaning and whingeing up until they scored.

    Ayala showed no character against Derby, nor did Downing, Braithwaite and Christie at Bristol. All were picked last week. Dropped were Foreshaw (our best player in the first half at Bristol), Traore (ditto in the second half), and Fry (solid throughout).

    Fair play to Monk, the result and performances vindicated his decisions. But it’s up to the players to show that last week was not a one- off and that they are made of much sterner stuff than they have shown away from home too many times this season

    1. While I was posting Boro have gone two down.

      We await the response.

      Heads down, whingeing, moaning, and finger pointing?

      Or pulling together and showing a bit of fight?

      We’ll see.

  16. After the stream freezing twice I finally lost all picture on 40 minutes.
    Enough to see us give two ridiculous goals away, it’s like Bristol City again.
    Grant at fault for the first and Ben for the second.
    We looked good up until the first goal but the defending …….
    Keystone Cops.
    The goals should have been accompanied by the Benny Hill music

  17. So what was it that Ben Gibson said about Boro again? Oh yes, they’ve “rediscovered their defensive resilience” – sadly not! as more comedy defending on show to try and appeal to the much needed Boro supporters sense of humour.

    Boro looked OK for ten minutes and then the game got scrappy and then they scored a goal as the defence and midfield went AWOL – the second goal was just ridiculous as three defenders tried to play tippy-tappy on their six yard box. It wasn’t the first time that our defence had tried to play one touch triangles to get out of trouble and any error would have been punished. I’m going to recheck the word resilience in the dictionary in case I’ve misunderstood.

    Leadbitter has been doing his best to get everyone to concentrate and show some attitude but it looks like some players are mentally elsewhere – I’d be amazed if boro get something out of this game.

  18. ofb- no fight no bottle no hope shambolic

    smoggyinleicester- Playing well and 2 – 0 down

    Question is “Who is at Millwall” or “ Are they both at the same match”

    Come on BORO.

    1. Unfortunately I’m at home in Leicester, but the stats state boro have had over 60% of the play all 1st half., hence me thinking we were playing well. But I see how my comment came across.
      And I was really wishful thinking after Ipswich.
      Or well- back to the status quo.

  19. If the other team will insist on heaving the ball into your box, every time, whatever the match situation, and they collect plenty of points at home that way.
    Then, you had better have some method of neutralising it, or take the consequences, i.e. defeat.
    As an example, when defending, do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, leave no one up field, then boot the ball up field, they will be always on the attack , and you will always be clearing the ball up field, to their defenders, who will, of course do one of the following, lob the ball back into your box, try a long shot, advance and play it wide for a cross, or just advance into your box with the ball at their feet. I would guess about 4-0
    Their method of play seems to me to be perfect for Traore in the middle of the field just inside his own half(no offside) clear the ball over the heads of the opposition and watch the fun.
    But hey, what do I know?

  20. As at Leeds and Bristol, Boro get a huge slice of luck to come back into the game. Downing’s first goal for 33 games. Let’s hope they can take advantage of it this time.

    1. Braithwaite sissed he doesn’t like playing away and getting strong challenges

      Howson not up to it

      Gibson getting worse game by game

      Fabio Stewy and Leads only ones who wanted it

      Why wait so long for a Gestede and Traore ?

      Sorry this is not the manager for me

  21. OFB
    I am sure he will come out and say “we showed spirit to get back in the game”
    This just gets worse. Once again a very average side who hassled us into mistakes. This time not Ayala or Traora, but trusted Grant and Ben.
    The response was not good enough, the fight wasn’t there in enough numbers.
    Boro just don’t understand that you have to earn the right to play against these teams.
    RR may as well copy and paste the Bristol report because this was carbon.
    The saddest part is that he played the team most would have wanted. So this tells me that he cannot drill them into a cohesive unit.
    One of my favorite Buzzcocks songs says it all, ” times up”

  22. A Rey of light to saber for Stewie Ahch-To Den but #Boro Luke a shambles of the First Order versus Millwall’s Resistance. They wouldn’t Kylo and we couldn’t Leia glove on them at the Finn-ish.

    Monk Out???

  23. It was all a bit desperate at times and the defending was not as advertised (btw I rechecked the word resilience and unless you include ‘plastic’ as one of the meanings then it wasn’t) – I thought Ben Gibson had a bad game and Ayala seems incapable of kicking the ball in the direction he wants it to go.

    You know things are not going to plan when Adama comes on as right-back – he had a couple of decent runs though but the other players seemed a little reluctant to pass to him when he came on. Downing switched to central midfield when Howson came off and looked no worse defensively but made some good driving runs though the middle – it’s perhaps something we’ve been lacking in central midfield for a long time but not sure if he’s the man to play there long-term.

    This was not a game Boro should have lost and it was down to too many players not being able to do the basics. Assombalonga was sloppy in straying offside to negate two good chances and his first touch outside the box was just not good enough. Bamford moved across the pitch well but couldn’t find a way through – Braithwaite was just a passenger for most of the game and looked off the pace and tried too many casual over-ambitious passes that never came off.

    Leadbitter did what he could and Downing probed and passed and even scored – Fabio also never gave up but lacked the final ball. We are still no nearer finding the right balance between attack and defence but I’d lay the blame on the players for this game – Garry Monk has been let down today and I’m not sure which players he can turn to for redemption.

  24. The championship is a fight and until the players realise that this inconsistency will continue.
    From what I saw of the stream I thought Downing was the pick of a bad bunch.
    I expect it will be double training tomorrow and Christmas cancelled.
    Or are the players glad the game is out of the way and heading to Kings Road for some Christmas shopping?

  25. Switched Tees off when the second went in. Was busy putting some new table and chairs together and that was frustrating enough without listening to that dogs breakfast. God only knows what it must’ve been like actually being there and having to watch it! Sounded like we were out muscled and out fought from what Mark and Maddo were saying.

    With the supposed quality of players at his disposal why can’t Monk get the best out of them I wonder? He’s just not up to the job imo so come on Mr Gibson do your job as chairman/owner and get rid.

    Totally agree with OFB ref certain players.

    Howson not up to it like the manager who bought him.

    Gibbons form has fallen off the proverbial cliff.

    Certain senior pros are doing in most games, yet even they are having too many off days.

    Good to see Downing get off the mark all be it far too late in the season imo, and that’s from one of his backers.

    Was hoping to go out with my mates for pre Christmas drinks next Saturday and catch the Sheffield Wed game in a pub somewhere. Think it’ll just be the drinks as I don’t want my day spoilt once again.q

    Mid table mediocrity at best with the current manager.

  26. I listened to the mfc commentary and it was clear we were outthought and outmuscled and millwall had more desire to win. It is no good having more percentage possession without an end product. I fear we will win a few matches and lose a few and the season just drift along with a manager who is clueness. But should we be surprised when he avoided relegation with swansea but the following season were in danger of relegation and was sacked and then with leeds did ok but when it counted failed to keep them in the play off places .

    however I think the disappointment is more than we should have expected as we have been constantly told that spending £42 million has produced the best group of players. But has it? How many of the players would get into the top 3 or 4 teams? Very few , if any.
    Are the players any better than last season? Suggest not.
    Would Karanka improve the team? Without a doubt
    I notice that Mowbray has won 6 consecutive games and are 3rd in div 1- he would be an improvement but maybe coming back a 2nd time would not be wise

    at least hudds. Town won well today !!

    1. Yes I’ve just been preparing the match stats and Boro had 66% possession but only managed three attempts on target – in comparison Millwall managed 8 attempts on goal with 7 of those on target, including one amazing reflex save from Randolph to avoid the third goal. Boro just don’t do enough with the ball and didn’t produce enough dangerous crosses considering we had both Assombalonga and Gestede waiting in the box.

      1. You are correct Werder, we don’t get enough crosses in the box but Britt is not always there. He tends to come looking for it and his touch is shocking.
        He should play on the shoulder of the last defender were he belongs and leave the approach work to his teammates.
        Although he has a uncanny habit of clearing off his own goal line from opposition corners, I would have him on halfway to accept a clearance
        Hold the ball up ( if he can control it) to take pressure of the defense, surely this is schoolboy stuff.

  27. OFB
    Can your next in2view be with Steve Agnew , ask how his dhalia’ s are doing and what his handicap is and if he would like an MFC tracksuit for Christmas.
    The club shop is open till midday Christmas eve.
    God knows we need some help and although I think GM is already done, I fear he will be retained so at least get him some help ( on the cheap)

  28. Well the team put out on the pitch today was the one most fans would probably say was the best eleven. So why such a shambles? Monk said on the radio after the game that he and his team had prepared the team during the week for what to expect from Millwall and the need to front up physically to be able to compete effectively.

    If that’s true then why did the players allow Millwall to win the battle in the first half to the extent that they were the only team that looked as though they wanted to win the game? Is it because the players have no confidence in Monk and therefore don’t buy in to his tactics and his game plans? Or is it because the players are simply not good enough to win games against very ordinary opposition? Or maybe is it a bit of both?

    Whatever the cause it is now clear that there is something seriously amiss at MFC. The players are underperforming big time and the manager seems unable to motivate them to do anything about it. If Monk stays the season is going to peter out into a dismal failure with the Boro languishing somewhere in the bottom half of the table in May, hopefully above the bottom three. Heaven forbid that he is given any more money to spend in January because it will be cash down the drain.

    No, Monk has to go now and Gibson must bring in an experienced manager who can get the team fully motivated and playing to its potential. As examples of why experience is key, look what Allardyce has done so far at Everton and what Hodgson is beginning to deliver at Palace. A new manager needs to be in place soonest so that he can assess what resources are at his disposal, get rid of those that are surplus to requirements or have the wrong attitude and buy some better players in January.

    Based on what I have seen so far this season it’s time for a big clear out and a new start if we are to stand any chance of promotion next season.

  29. We have now lost 8 games and I cannot recall us being outplayed by anyone, you know, when you hold your hands up and say “they were the better team”.
    Only villa outplayed us and we still got a draw with 10 men. So why are we losing games with the enviable squad we have.
    Wrong team selection?
    Wrong players recruited?
    Wrong team formation?
    Inability to effect change during game?
    Players not responding to manager?
    Players confused?
    Players miffed?
    Opposition want it more?
    Opposition know our weak points?
    Friction in dressing room?
    Tippy tappy?
    Reluctance to poor the ball in the opponents penalty box?
    Not knowing our best eleven?
    Bad luck?
    The last point is not the managers fault, the rest are and he should go for the sake of the club.
    I have yet to see an improvement on the pre- season dross

  30. Totally depressing day. As well as Boro’s demise, I can see the WACA from my balcony and the cricket is another reason to pour a drink.
    The boxing day test match may be a dead rubber

  31. RR
    Your mission this week (if you choose to accept it) is to supply a report with different words, sentences , and paragraphs from the Bristol City report. You can change the name of the opposition of course but good luck with the game content.
    I am sure it will be a good read as all your reports are but I don’t envy you.

      1. Do you really think they would come to the Boro? No chance.

        Besides they haven’t really set the managerial world on fire. We need a back to basics manager with a bit of steel to put the wind up the players.

  32. No management, no coaching in the basic tactics, no research on the opposition, no teamwork, no job description, no specifically detailed roles, no motivation, no morale, no teamwork and no idea.

    Ipswich must have been rubbish. We, Boro that is, are crap measured against expectancy.

    AS my grandfather used to say, ‘ the team looks good on paper but they are s–t on grass’. With this manager and his motivational skills and tactics(?) it just is not going to happen. We are wasting talented players and diminishing our assets.



  33. It would, of sorts, matter less if we we winning but part of the overwhelming frustration for fans comes from an almost zero lack of real insight into just what is going on at the club.

    The Boro website has more in common with the TASS news outlet of days of yore than any informative or helpful offering while the national media just isn’t interested right now.

    There are no end of questions which, let alone not being answered, are simply not being put to the club. Who decides which players we buy, where does accountability lie, what is SG thinking? Does GM actually want to stay? And much more.

    The Gazette, as the on the ground newspaper has a duty to not only report but to ask such questions. It is the main news outlet fans turn to, or was.

    At the top right corner of the Boro page on its website it says:

    “Anthony Vickers: ‘The Gazette’s Boro situation is unprecedented, but we’ll do our job – banned or not'”

    But they’re not, not at all. By putting up a juvenile rationale that would shame even the preposterous characters in Little Britain, the Gazette is ignoring its audience to support its boys.

    So what we get from the four Gazette Boro writers is a series of opinionated and uninformed drivel, the man in the pub, ‘Derek and Clive’ for the older uns, nothing more. Indeed I doubt even Derek or Clive could come up with anything ball achingly funny as the post match videos we’re treated to.

    You really can see why the Boro decided two of these clowns were enough. But for the remaining two to support the Gazette’s entitlement over asking the club and boss the questions we all want to know is quite pathetic and will hurt them badly.

    Once readers leave the Gazette they won’t come back (the Northern Echo is a better paper anyway) and quite why it is making this stand is surreal. The Boro position won’t change and the issue won’t go away, unlike the readers.

    I don’t want to read the tosh the Gazette pushed earlier this season around Martin Braithwaite for example – that he was the missing ink, the number 10, skilful etc. It was blindingly obvious that a player I guess almost none of us had heard of, coming form a poor French league, would not possess the qualities to take us out of the Championship (in an upward way at least).

    So I want to know whose idea it was to sign him, the thinking and more and I want it from the club not the Gazette’s men in the pub.

    It won’t help the team of course but it will help the fans to think they know a little more about how the club is run and what is really going on.

    To adapt a football phrase, ‘there used to be a newspaper here….’

  34. Well, have left it be until now.

    Watched the cricket team unprepared for bullies with meaningless managerial speak, now Boro. Come the morning the Ashes may have gone the way of our promotion hopes.

  35. What’s so depressing is that all the GOOD organisational work that Karanka did in the Championship has just been thrown away. Boro under Monk are light years away from Karanka’s Championship side, and even worse than Mogga’s team.

    The defensive formation is terrible; Christie is a winger who in my opinion has been wrongly converted into a poor full back. It’s a pity Aden Flint wasn’t signed pre-season; I wonder if a part exchange with a cash adjustment for Ayala would tempt Bristol City to part with him. In a 3-5-2 formation I could envisage a threesome of Shotton, Flint and Gibson in defence being pretty formidable.

    Assombalonga is being wasted as a lone striker, Braithwaite overrated, and we haven’t one midfielder in the squad who I think is worth a place in the team on current performances. Boro haven’t looked like a team capable of mounting a challenge for a playoff position at any time this season, and I reckon they have been lucky to collect the 32 points accrued so far; it could so easily have been only 27 points in my opinion.

    Where do we go from here? Are our players really as bad as they appear to be? Or should we get rid of Monk before we spend any more money? And if so, who do we appoint in his place? I haven’t got the answer, but what I do know is that Boro don’t deserve promotion on what we have seen so far this season.

    1. Ken
      I understand that there are three English managers in the prem.
      There is a reason for that ( they are trash)
      The continent runs a system of training for a management role which oddly enough, majors on all the myriad things a manager must know, about coaching, man management, tactics(no not the sweets) buying and selling players, and much more.
      We once hired a German manager, happy days.

  36. Thanks for the report Redcar Red, depressing as it was. Have been out tonight and had a few sherbets which haven’t dulled the pain. Whilst not wanting to be too down, I fear that today’s result may have ended any lingering hope of promotion this year. I thought that we needed 10 points minimum from the 15 available until January. Well, that is now 10 from 12 and I can’t see that somehow.

    Why has it gone so badly awry – answers on a postcard to Mr S Gibson who, should he decide to retain the services of Mr Monk, (and I am not certain there is a compelling reason to do so, apart from not paying any compensation), then no transfers in should be allowed in January at all.

    I have had some disappointments over the years, but this feels particularly bad for some reason. Maybe it is the hope that kills you in the end. I really thought that we had the potential to smash the league this time……….

    1. BBD
      What is really annoying is the fact that we came down with a team that had enjoyed two years dealing with the worst that the Champ. had to offer. A major effort to fix the lack of goals and bob’s your uncle ( oh, and get rid of the players who decided that our manager was not good enough, and they knew better.

  37. If I was Monk I would resign ,in order to save face,and what’s left of a crumbling reputation.
    If he waits to be sacked it won’t look good on him,being sacked from two prominant clubs Swansea and ourselves,who just don’t do that type of thing,

  38. I think Millwal scored against the run of the game, we were awful to concede the second and then the game was more or less over. Typical Boro this season. After the Downing goal, we at least tried to equalize but that was not going to happen.

    I really hoped we would get three points. But no. We did not function. Shame.

    Up the Boro, though.

  39. Great report RR – sums up what we saw here on ifollow. Ironic that this week was glitch free so we watched and suffered for the whole game.

    The most telling fact from this game was the comments on Bein later that Boros position didn’t change so we have reached satus quo – 10th.

    Season over folks.

    Spread sheet shows it too – 12 and consolidating – like the glass thermometer thingy with the little balls floating in some magic liquid – we are hovering in the middle.

    We can now expect attendances to drop off with less than 20k becoming normal from now on.

    Monk must have known he needed an assistant coach. Why he couldn’t accommodate the constant gardener or find a new one is anyone’s guess. Probably he believed his own hype and started to think he could actually do it. What evever it was he has shown he cant do it and as in an earlier post some weeks ago the answer to all questions is sack the manager. I wish we had done it earlier, now there are no saviors left so we are rudderless and drifting gently to a soft landing in mediocrity.

    At some point we will be considered safe from relegation and at that point decisive action must be taken – blood the kids, poach a few targets and prepare for smashing the league next time.

    Unless Santa brings us Xmas surprise 🙂

    1. Allan
      A bit puzzled over the talk about an assistant.
      Good managers have a partner, they go together like twins.
      We hired a manager who has had two jobs and failed at both.
      We gave him the wallet, and he failed at that also.
      He could have played the team that came down.
      He chose to buy a replacement team, and failed.
      His team is small, and does not mix it.
      I believe that it is a team that does not run the miles required(i would guess about eleven miles per man per match) and it shows on the pitch.
      It is static. Each man passes to feet, each man waits for the pass to reach him, very static, and very slow.
      Our striker loves scoring, ball to feet, control, look up, another touch, another look, prepare to shoot. He doesn’t score many.
      We will refrain from talk about tactics, substitutions, selections, after all it is Xmas.

  40. I looked at other results, too. Perhaps something to chher me Up?

    Hartlepool lost the fouth match in a row. Tick.

    Sunderland won at home for the first time in 364 days. Tick.

    Let’s see how Darlo are doing. Oops, no matches yet in December. Try to play today with some straw on the ground because of frost.

    Well, at least the Barcodes can be trusted. They find it as hard as we did last season and lost again. This time at Arsenal.

    Up the Boro!

    1. A daughter of Middlesbrough’s former goalkeeping coach Leo Percovich has been killed and two other children critically injured in a car crash in Brazil. His current club, Fluminense, say the 49 year-old and his wife were also hurt in the crash, which happened yesterday.

  41. We have been having a few problems with our boiler kicking in, a new part has arrived and will be fitted Tuesday. We can get it working straight away and once running it is fine.

    I woke up at 6.30 and no heating so I got up, I had forgotten that it doesn’t start until about that time on Sunday. Now I was up I thought test match and switched the TV on, just in time for 60-2 to become 60-3.

    Not a quantum of solace.

    Sheffield Wednesday with the owls and the pussy cat all at sea. Wednesday are in a mess and need a Christmas present. Will it be an early gift wrapped three points?

    1. Terrible news to hear from Brazil regarding Leo and his family. To lose a child at any time is sad, but at Christmastime makes it even worse. My father was killed in a road accident a week before Christmas many years ago, and it haunts those left behind every Christmas. My heart goes out to Leo and his wife, and I hope that his other two children make speedy recoveries.

  42. Thanks to RR for another accurate report which depressingly reflected what I watched!

    Not much else to say other than last week proved to be the false dawn many of us feared and that the season to date has been frustrating and very disappointing after so much anticipation at the outset.

    It pains me to say it, but the sooner it is done the better as I am not sure I can take another four months of these displays which are just soul destroying.

  43. Once again we are given a salutary reminder of how insignificant football really is. My disappointment in yesterday’s result is completely over taken by one of sadness, especially for one foreigner that I think made himself one of us. I pray him and his wife and his two surviving children recover quickly, although I’m sure nothing will ever fill the void of his lost daughter.

  44. So sad to hear the news about Leo’s family in Brazil. Makes the result of yesterday quite irrelevant now.

    How sad and I wish all the best for Leo and his wife. We must wear black band in next game. All the thought with Leo, his wife and childrren.

  45. So sad to hear about Leo’s daughter. Just seen that the game next Saturday is live here in Oz on beIN so the Aussies can have a laugh at another English team.

  46. Until Monk sorts the defence out these results will keep happening!

    If you defend like the keystone cops you get what you deserve

    I’ve lost all enthusiasm and hope for this season and I have both a Home and unfortunately an away season ticket too.

    How many of this seasons signings were Monks? Can we trust him to spend wisely in January and more importantly who will want to come to a struggling mid table team?

    Players were brought in to replace Leadbitter Downing and Fabio yet they have regained their places and are our better performers!

    Braithwaites not doing it,Assombalonga goals apart offers nothing,has the touch of an elephant and when he has the ball in the box will never lay it off for someone in a good position instead attempts the impossible wasting it

    Britt 15m
    Braithwaite 9m
    Fletcher 9m
    Howson 5m
    Shotton 3m
    Christie 3m
    Johnson 1m

    Last season
    Traore 6m
    Bamford 6m

    Are we getting value for money from any of these players and how much would they currently fetch in the January transfer market ?

      1. Horrendous news about Leo, thoughts are with him and his family at this terrible time, and in particular that his two surviving children make a full and speedy recovery.

        As for Boro, I’m not sure that there is much to say other than i stand by my points of perhaps 2 months ago now: what are we actually trying to be under Monk? What are we trying to achieve? Herein lies his weakness, and that weakness should be his undoing, he seems incapable of creating or imposing a blueprint on this team. He seems incapable of making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. There is no identity, no passion and no coherence.

        If you managed a team at work in the same way he manages Boro, i.e. half of the team looking clueless, the other half shirking, and altogether not the right people in the right roles for the right task, you’d probably be sacked fairly quickly. Even a lenient boss might have put you on a performance plan by now.

        By rights his days should be numbered. Let’s see if they are.

  47. Excellent report.

    Pitiful and spineless. One team wanted to win yesterday and the other didn’t fancy it. Middlesbrough should never be bullied and outfought by anyone.

    Our fefending would have to far fetched for even Fred Karno. Ayala has been found wanting too often this season, seems to be contagious as Gibson was equally appalling. Leadbitter playing casual square ball in a dangerous position, which should have been punished with a third, further evidence of laxity.

    Upfront we are disjointed. Bamford kept running sideways and giving the ball away, Braithwaite just looks clumsy. Players constantly kept making bad choices with the final ball. Highlighted by Downing (our best player admittedly) storming through the centre at 2-1 and, rahter than shooting, plays the ball to Braithwaite (in a worse position) who gets the ball trapped under his feet. Also after their goalkeepers gifting us a goal, why were there not more shots from distance with his confidence gone?

    Something has to change, and fast.

    Thoughts with Leo today.

  48. I might be mistaken but I thought that we actually took the ball off their attacker, in our box, then failed to put it in row z, you can guess the rest, that would be their second goal.
    This manager has definitely solved our problem of clean sheets( we do not get them now)
    He’s not making much progress on scoring goals and he has stopped the endless winning at home which was such a blot on the AK regime.
    I do not think he is very comfortable with playing against bogey teams,
    I do hope that someone has told him that we have loads.

  49. Terrible to hear the tragic news about Leo and his family – can only imagine what they are going through after losing their five-year old and having their other two children fighting for their lives – l’m sure everyone connected with Boro will want to send their best wishes and are hoping their other children make a rapid recovery.

  50. Just a thought, it doesn’t matter whether you like Leo or not, you wouldn’t wish that scenario on anyone.

    Moving on to the less important matter of our team, there is never a simple solution to any teams situation.

    Man Citeh deservedly beat ManU and the red half came in for criticism for their tactics. The same Citeh side put Spurs to the sword. The problem is there are two teams on the pitch, if the other is playing so well you don’t get the ballt here is not a lot you can do other than keep trying.

    The difficulty appears to be the players have little confidence. Geoff Boycott mentioned it in the cricket, lose a wicket and you will lose another, he always says add two wickets to the score because one follows another. He mentioned the same thing applied to football, if you are not playing well and you concede then there is little confidence to comeback.

    How to address the situation is very difficult, what can you do? It is change the players – very expensive, change the coaching team – less expensive, change the mental attitude – cheaper but very difficult.

    As the Ashes go down the Swan(ee) river so do our promotion hopes.

    What to do, good luck SG

  51. Dreadful news about Leo.

    As for Boro, I’m coming to the conclusion that we may have raised our expectations too high at the start of the season. I know I did. I thought we would win this league.

    But over the years, how many relegated sides have bounced straight back up to the Prem the following season? In recent times, I can only think of Newcastle, West Brom and Burnley. There may be others, but not many. Clubs like Villa, Derby, Norwich and QPR continue to struggle. And look at where Hull and the Mackems are currently! I’d rather be in our position than in theirs.

    Having said that, I can’t deny that this season so far has been one long disappointment, the awful Millwall result just the latest in a long line. I’m under no doubt that GM is not getting the best from this bunch of players. But perhaps, like Brexit, we’ve been fed a bunch of lies? Perhaps this is their limit and they won’t get any better? Perhaps, instead of being the world-beating ‘best in the league’ squad we’ve heard so much about, this is just an ordinary bunch of mid-table strugglers? Perhaps, in buying players to up the ante regarding goal-scoring and creativity, we have ignored the basic need to get together a team of battlers and bruisers the Championship cries out for? Perhaps GM can’t actually coach them to be any better than they have so far shown?

    Painful and depressing thoughts, but perhaps this is reality? What are your views?

  52. Clive
    Beginning to think you’re right. Despite the price tags, I’m not sure our players are “fit for purpose”, i.e. The rough and tumble of the Championship, although some of them have done it before. Would AK have got more out of this squad? As it stands, it doesn’t look like GM can.

    1. Steely, you make a good point. Today’s Boro is weak, fragile, spineless, disorganised, uncommitted and lacking motivation. Is this because the players are like it or is there some other reason?

      Six of the team yesterday – Fabio, Gibson, Ayala, Leadbitter, Downing and Bamford – were part of the AK team that showed none of the characteristics I have outlined above. So what has happened to instill these negative traits in the team? I don’t think the intrinsic character of the players has changed so it must be down to the manager. I am no fan at all of AK but I am absolutely certain that he would have got a hell of a lot more from the current squad than Monk has managed to do.

      The only conclusion I can come to is that the team has gone backwards this season because the manager is not in any way up to the job. He has taken a decent set of players and turned them into a timid shambles incapable of competing with most of the teams in the Championship.

      How has it come to this? Well, in my opinion Steve Gibson has to carry a lot of the responsibility. He appointed Monk and it is not the first time that one of his managerial appointments has turned out to be a disaster. To avoid any further serious damage he now needs to bite the bullet, get rid of Monk and employ someone who can sort out the huge mess the club now finds itself in. If he bottles it then who knows where we will be at the end of the season.

      One further thought. Do we believe that Steve Gibson is capable of taking the Boro back to the Premier League and turning us into a real force in that exalted company? Or do we suspect that the Championship is today the best the Boro can hope for and it needs an injection of new management, new money and a more ruthless approach to get the Boro to the heights of the Premier League?

      Is it time now for a fundamental change?

  53. Horrendous news about Leo, thoughts are with him and his family at this terrible time, and in particular that his two surviving children make a full and speedy recovery.

    As for Boro, I’m not sure that there is much to say other than i stand by my points of perhaps 2 months ago now: what are we actually trying to be under Monk? What are we trying to achieve? Herein lies his weakness, and that weakness should be his undoing, he seems incapable of creating or imposing a blueprint on this team. He seems incapable of making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. There is no identity, no passion and no coherence.

    If you managed a team at work in the same way he manages Boro, i.e. half of the team looking clueless, the other half shirking, and altogether not the right people in the right roles for the right task, you’d probably be sacked fairly quickly. Even a lenient boss might have put you on a performance plan by now.

    By rights his days should be numbered. Let’s see if they are.

  54. It’s a but gut-wrenching to realise that it’s exactly one year since the 3-0 win against Swansea. I was in the UK for the then upcoming birth of a granddaughter and travelled up for the game with my two brothers. Boro overcame a sticky start to score some lovely goals and all was good with the world. Then AK shoved both of his feet in his mouth and the mood turned. Then the Man U game was another turning point as we lost to the two late goals. Hanging on for a win then would have been enough of a boost to get us through the season.

    This season has been a mess and its hard to work out why. The simple observation is that we seem incapable of winning the physical arm wrestle that then gives you the right to play football. Why is this the case? Hard To Know? It’s not a difficult point to get across. Is it time to turn back to Clayton in the midfield and, for the love of whatever you believe in, why isn’t Shotton worth a game. He’s experienced and can throw the ball into the penalty area from the half way line. Put Gestede up front and play Championship football and lets start to scare some opponents before we try to pass round them.


  55. The only reason I see S.Gibson not pulling the trigger, is he feels somewhat responsible , because of his statement at the end of last season.
    That may be taking the high road,but he has to think of the fans, and what loyalty he should have towards them, he could lose more this time than he did before and quickly.
    If Monk had ,had a history of some success Ala Warnoch.Big Sam, Pulls , even Neil at Preston etc. You can maybe have something to hang your hat on, but we haven’t.
    And that really is the bottom line.
    Prayers for Leo,

  56. Wolves have had a total of only 10 shots on target in their last 3 away games yet in those matches they beat Reading 2-0, Birmingham 2-0 and Sheffield Wednesday 1-0. Meanwhile Boro have had a total of only 6 shots on target in their last 3 away games and lost each one 1-2 to Leeds United, Bristol City and now Millwall. So the ratio of both teams is 50%, Wolves 5 goals from 10 on target, Boro 3 goals from 6 on target. The difference? Wolves didn’t concede a goal, Boro conceded 6.

    By all reports Wolves didn’t play too well in those matches, but they found a way to win. Similarly Cardiff City were dreadful in the first half last night against Hull City, but improved in the second half to win 1-0. The moral of these comparisons is NOT to concede, but if you do, don’t concede the first goal. Under Jack Charlton and under Karanka, Boro nearly always scored the first goal, and when they did they usually won.

    So my question is, have Boro under Monk forsaken solidity in defence by attempting to be more attack minded? It would appear that was the premise following the Karanka years, but it ain’t working, because we haven’t the midfielders to implement the plan, have we?

  57. Great post, Selwynoz.

    That infamous “worst performance of the season” comment colours the Swansea match for all the wrong reasons. He may well have been telling the truth, to a point – we played better and drew. Or, as I previously implied, he may have been doing the Mourinho thing of saying exactly what he’s not expected to say in order to inspire the players to perform better. But you can get away with that an upwardly mobile big club – not at a relegation struggler where goals are at a premium.

    Lesson for Aitor, if he ever gets a job again – don’t try and play Big Boss without the requisite qualities to justify it.

    1. Simon
      Do you really think that we have the right to sneer at AK
      We have had our noses rubbed in the dirt over our overweening expectations, we wanted no part of keeping clean sheets, we wanted lots of goals, we knew his way was wrong.
      See Huddersfield, straight from AK script.
      I wonder if their fans are screaming abuse at the manager ( a German)
      If they are watching us I bet they are keeping very quiet.

      1. One thing about the Huddersfield manager is …..

        He was Boro no 1 choice from February until he did a naughty thing….

        He got his team promoted !

  58. PS…

    A great quote from NikeBoro on Bryan Robson.

    “Okay, (he took us) back up… but so (he) should with those resources and it was never the same. Boro had been found out and the limelight never returned. Unsurprisingly, we were viewed as a little club that tried to buy a place at the top table and failed pathetically… Eventually we were seen as a funny farm.”

    For Robbo post 1996-97, read AK post-Charlton.

    1. Simon
      Last time I looked he was nowhere near Charlton, that would be the triumphant crew who had won the argument (i.e they knew better than him)
      Lets not forget that it was an open goal, had not won, were not going to win any time soon, their fans begged us to beat them ten nil,( so desperate were they to bid farewell to their owners)
      Incidentally, they were awful, after beating us, (comfortably) they resumed their hurtle down the leagues(two more, I believe).
      I would ask him to return tomorrow.

  59. 1. In the “Blog Awards” I voted for the Yorkshireman doing missionary work in Lancashire, blogging about trips in his VW campervan. (Nice luxury awning, by the way).
    2. As to the Boro, the football is grim. There have not been many good performances even when we have won, and some of the performances when we haven’t won have been X-Rated. No realistic sign that management knows how to turn things round, or that the players could perform, so dreaming of improvement seems more like a triumph of hope over expectation. If there was a secret ballot of the first team squad, how many would say they have confidence in the manager? And would the manager have confidence in many in his squad? Interesting that Downing was clearly being encouraged to leave after having been marginalised yet, now that he has got back into the team, he has been one of the better players virtually every week for the last couple of months. So, did the manager get that wrong?
    3. But all of this means little compared with the tragedy which has just unfolded in Leo Percovich’s family. I guess that the Gazette, and MFC, will have a contact for him which we supporters don’t have, and it would be nice to know that they would pass on a message to Leo so that he knows so many of the Boro supporters send their sympathies and are hoping for the best on his behalf.

  60. SD has said that the players are to blame and not the manager. I wonder if his comment was voluntary or is this the line being pushed by MFC hierarchy.
    I could believe him if this was an isolated poor performance but…..

    1. But the manager is supposed to motivate the players and come up with tactics along with a plan.

      Now is SD saying the players are incapable of following the plan given to them? If so then why are they being selected. If they cannot demonstrate a basic ability, then what are they being paid for?

      Me thinks that we have a circular blame game along the lines of the Chuckle Brothers of “to you, to me, no to you”! Bit like our passing but they cant even get that right sadly.

      I also am starting to come round to the thought that SG may not be best for the club if we want to play with the big boys. My only cavaet is that i am not sure that the premier league is football any more – its business and money and overpaid prima donnas.

      1. BBD…..the chances of any club now competing with the big boys now has long gone in reality.

        We the Boro, may dream of doing a Burnley but that is all it is, a dream, just like the majority of the teams in the Championship.
        Unfortunately it looks like Mr Gibson has got it wrong once more. Gareth, Strachan, Mogga, (AK…promotion and relagation) and now Mr Monk. If you were looking for a CEO or similar, he would not even get an interview.

        MFC have continually made big mistakes right through the club, from Managers/Coaches and Player selections. Yes I know it is difficult, we all make mistakes, but MFC have a lot to answer for.
        Very very little transparency, no change in the heiracy including the scouting system, so we they continue making the same mistakes.

        Mr Gibson may only have one throw of the dice left then the future may be very bleak indeed.

  61. The latest article by AV in the Gazette headed “The questions we would have asked Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk in Millwall post-match press conference” is in my opinion an absolute disgrace. It stinks of a militant statement blaming MFC solely for the non-appearance of a Gazette reporter at press conferences, when in fact MFC have only banned two reporters from attending. The fact is I can’t recall either of the two banned reporters having asked questions in the past (someone correct me if I’m wrong); the only voice I have recognised there being Philip Tallentire.

    I’ve heard it said that MFC are trying to supress freedom of choice in dictating which reporters are acceptable, and that appears to be true, but if Tallentire is the only Gazette reporter who has asked questions I don’t see what the fuss is about. I’m pretty sure that other newspapers only send one reporter to cover press conferences.

    It has also been suggested that some questions at press conferences are insubmissible. If that is so, what is the point of having them? The questions that AV states the Gazette would ask are pertinent, so why not go there and ask them? Left wing solidarity methinks!

    1. I fully support the Gazette’s stance on this issue Ken, the two journalists have been banned by MFC without explanation, which leads me to believe they’ve not done anything wrong other than said something the club didn’t agree with. It should not be up to the club to decide which journalists the Gazette can send – if they’ve got a valid reason for banning them then they should give it, otherwise they are out of order.

      Though regarding the actual article – I’ve never heard anyone ask a difficult question along the lines they are suggesting they would ask if they were to attend.

      I should add if they were to ask those questions then it probably wouldn’t be long before the remaining Gazette journalists were banned too!

      1. I’m with you on this Werder. If the powers that be at MFC don’t like fair criticism of an under performing team, and let’s be honest it’s been under performing for nearly a calendar year now, then they’re in the wrong business.

        I may have spent most of my life thus far in the RN but I come from a long line of Middlesbrough/Tees dockers who eventually got fair pay and conditions by sticking together and standing up for each other. Solidarity against the bullies!

    2. Ken
      You beat me to it!
      I’d have more respect for them if they attended the press conference and asked the questions. They could then say that they asked but didn’t receive an answer.

  62. I listened to Vic’s Q&A session on the Gazette and he was asked about the ban on the journalists.

    It is quite revealing, the don’t know why has changed to the fact the Gazette boys, especially the on line parts, were thought to have been overly critical of the team and club during the difficult period early this year.

    As Vic says, not their fault the team were playing badly.

    That could be why Dom and Jonno were singled out, I wont go too much further, best if folks listen for themselves in case I have not got it quite right.

    As I have posted before, I don’t think having the Gazette boys being able to put tricky questions to the manager would make any difference to our current playing situation. With all the coverage we have available we can make our own judgements.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t want the situation resolving, it would be best for all parties if the stand off could settled. I am still at a loss as to why SG hasn’t knocked heads together, of course his maybe is one of them..

    1. He is the boss Ian. The man with the only vote as you have stated previously. What he says, ultimately goes.

      I would therefore go as far as saying it is Mr Gibson that has got the hump??

  63. I think the person OFB should really be interviewing is the big man himself. Sir Steve.

    Not about the Gazette situation, but the playing side and how he become a fan of the club.

    Anyway, this was written with a tongue-in-cheek, like.Up the Boro!


          Steve Agnew has signed for Aston Villa and will take up his position in the new year

          He has wanted to go there for a while but Steve Gibson blocked it and kept him on gardening leave

          Let’s wish him all the best

  64. I dont know what the impasse is between MFC and the gazette seeing as they have been hiding behind their softball questions for many years.
    It’s now come to bite the gazette in the bum,they did run Aitor out of town,and that’s ok if you are educated and are the same with everyone. I don’t think any of the reporters have watched premiership football on a regular basis, and I mean full games not two minute highlights,
    I don’t think Steve Gibson has, so if you haven’t then how can you judge expectations to reality.
    The first question to Gibson ,should be does he respect the fans,or is the club his toy and that’s it?

  65. Interesting news that OFB has just broken – So Steve Agnew is off to Villa in January to assist Steve Bruce with their promotion push. Given that it’s finally been sanctioned by Steve Gibson is it a sign that he’s resigned to accepting Boro are perhaps unlikely to be promotion contenders this season? or is he clearing the decks for a new managerial appointment?

  66. Good luck to Steve Agnew at Villa, he and Steve Bruce worked well together.

    As Werder says, it is intriguing Steve Gibson has sanctioned it now. Is it that Villa are no longer competitors or is it an attempt to hole the opposition under the water line?

    I suspect it is recognition that it will have little impact on our fortunes either way and gives Agnew the chance to move on. Maybe he needs to use the salary to recruit a new coach.


    It’s still an interesting read. I just wonder how much SG could repeat at the end of this season.

    “…fans want me to deliver rather than talk about potentially delivering.”

    He did acknowledge the level of transformation that was required at club level during the off-season and, in hindsight, might have been better served highlighting the success of relegated teams to bounce back that enjoyed managerial continuity, but he wanted to give hope after a ‘heart breaking’ season. And he did, for a while.

    GM wont be sacked this season, in my opinion, if he stays within sight of the playoffs. If AK can be AK and keep his job, GM has a lot more time to play with.

    What hasn’t helped his cause is all of this Gazette nonsense. I don’t think either party will come out of this with any credit. We all know that MFC are serial contenders for the ‘PR own-goal of the season’ awards but I don’t buy the EG denial of any knowledge of the source of the ban. It’s a real shame.

    Anyway, onwards and upwards.


  68. What we don’t know is whether SG wanted Agnew to be Monk’s assistant, unless OFB can throw some light on it. What I suspect most of us do know however, is that Monk is incapable of managing a club without an assistant. Even Brian Clough was a disaster at Brighton without Peter Taylor. Perhaps Monk accepted the Boro job expecting that Pep Clotet would join him.

    1. No Clotet wasn’t part of the deal at any time

      It is rumoured that he and Monk fell out whilst at Leeds and went their separate ways

      Steve Agnew was always there as a backstop until the new coaching team had sorted itself out, but,

      It’s interesting the point that Werder makes is clearing the budget of a wage for an incomer???


      1. Perhaps Gibson has given up trying to persuade Monk to take on Agnew as his assistant – though at the time of Monk’s appointment it was suggested by Neil Bausor that they expected to make other appointments to the management team and discussions were ongoing – James Beattie is listed as a ‘First Team Coach’ along with David Adams – there is currently no Assistant Manager. All of which means there is no obvious candidate to take the reigns should Monk leave suddenly – perhaps Academy manager Craig Liddle is the only possible contender having been caretaker manager at Darlington previously.

        Of course Agnew would have been crazy to stay at Boro having been promoted to temporary head coach from assistant manager and then overlooked for the job in the summer – I don’t think he was ever going to return in a significant role. In fact I’m not sure why Gibson has been blocking Agnew’s move to Villa unless he was still contemplating giving him a job at Boro – perhaps he just wanted to give Agnew a six-month paid break to recharge his batteries given the difficult situation he was placed.

          1. Maybe he knew too much about our transfer targets and the club didn’t want Villa to steal the likes of Fletcher and Shotton from under our noses…

  69. YorkshireRed

    If you watch the video AV did in his question and answer article on the website he answers a question about the ban. I did a quick mention of it in my last post.


    Wasn’t there a falling out between Monk and Clotet?

  70. I have deliberately kept away from the net and media sites etc. after that latest capitulation from our bunch of wasters. Its now Monday afternoon and I still haven’t lost the exasperation but I have now just about lost any hope I may have had for GM.

    No doubt SG will drag this on until its long past the point of uncomfortable, cringe worthy embarrassment in the hope that GM starts walking on the Tees but in the event that isn’t going to happen we will just have to wait until the sucker punch finally lands on SG before the towel gets thrown in on Monk. There really isn’t much more to be said, GM’s after match comments sounded and looked like a dead man walking and the kindest thing to do would be to put him out of his misery now but it won’t happen.

    Next up Wednesday are in a similar mess so don’t be surprised if we get a result there but it means nothing in the scheme of things now and only delays the inevitable. This season for me is now effectively an expensive mid table mediocre write off, how much more of it will be wasted is down to SG but probably timed with gates dropping to sub 18K.

    On more important matters the tragic events going on in Leo’s life right now puts everything into perspective.

    1. RR

      I don’t think the crowd will slip below 20k as there has been a good take up of the 1/2 price season tickets this December for Xmas presents.

      Anyone know where I can sell mine and Mrs OFB tickets ?

    2. RR, I see your point and you have seen more matches live than I have on TV. So I won’t argue with you on the performances and the team. And you have been correct in the past.

      But I do like to remind that at the moment we have chances to get to the play-offs – mathematically the chances are not even slim. Direct places for promotion are more and more unlikely even I don’t trust Cardiff to be there by May.

      Of course we need an improvement, but still we could do it. The argument is of course if GM can do it.

      Still do not know if a assistant manager will be hired or not. That could help but we need more input from the players.

      Still hoping (or dreaming). Up the Boro!

  71. My thoughts and deepest condolences are with Leo. He has suffered the worst thing that can happen to anyone.

    Martin, I’m afraid my principles will not allow me to vote for someone simply because they are from my neck the woods.


  72. Martin,

    I have now had time to consider all of the major candidates for the travel bloggers ‘ awards. Having considered all of the evidence, I am pleased to be able to say that your blog is far superior to all of the others, and that I have voted for you entirely in accordance with my principles, and with my integrity fully intact.


    1. What a gentleman you are, Len.

      I definitely wouldn’t want to have your vote, if you were uncomfortable with the Boro croneism. I definitely feel honoured by your vote if you’ve given it on merit.

      Many thanks for your support.


  73. Redcar Red

    With 20,000 season ticket holders I think we will miraculously have that many plus away fans as the lowest attendance.

    I checked the boxing day ticket map and just to add to the gripes, the previous version was better. The new grey, light blue and dark blue to show availability isn’t as good as the old traffic signal system of red, amber, green

    1. Ian

      From memory before the Season kicked off I thought our Season Card sales were about 21/22K? I could be wrong or possibly misinformed.

      Against Ipswich there were a number of empty seats near me that I assume to be SC seats as its the same faces week in week out that sit in them. Monk’s confused mess is so bad that I would not be the least bit surprised if some Season Card holders found a life away from the Riverside and decided to cut their losses.

      The season hangs on a knife edge, act now and something just might pick up under a new Manager. Do nothing and mid table will be the target or worse, much worse as the belief drains slowly from the terraces and the squad. SG has to decide whether he waits until his fighter gets pummelled to an inch of his life or do the humane thing and throw the towel in now. I suspect the fans will make the decision unavoidable while he deliberates too long yet again.

      Of even greater concern is the likelihood of him putting a youth team coach and Woody in charge because he sure as heck as like won’t appoint a seasoned knowledgeable and competent proven manager.

  74. Interesting that as soon as I broke the news on Agnew it was picked up an hour later by the Times Northern Correspondent and later still by the Gazette

    Diasboro first with the news!

  75. If the “Gazette two” don’t know why they are banned then they must be pretty poor journalists.

    As for suddenly asking searching questions after years of toadying up to the club…… me a favour.

    1. Actually that’s probably not a bad idea – Dom and Jonno should have done an investigation and then published their conclusions on why they think they were banned. If it turned out to be because they thought they may have said something critical then at least the club would maybe be forced to give a response – or then again they’d probably just continue with their omerta as it seems the Teesside public are not entitled to know why the local club and local newspaper are in dispute.

  76. Here’s a couple of questions for GM.

    Why is it whenever we concede a goal you couldn’t even find the full backs with radar?

    Why hasn’t a midfielder capable of creating scoring opportunities been recruited?

    1. I fear his response would be along the lines of “what full back, I don’t set my teams up to have a full back, Fabio and Christie and attacking wing backs and not expected to defend. As for the attacking midfielder, I bought Howson and there is always Downing but it’s not my fault they can’t play how I want them to, mind you, I am not sure from game to game how I want them to play.”

    2. GHW….like your first question and answer. Nice!!
      Your second question about the midfielder, is Howson. I posted recently that his goal scoring from midfield, in the Championship with Norwich is good. The reason I believe we bought him, plus he WAS somewhat similar to Grant.

      Mores the pity he has not met expectations.

  77. I think, on balance, we have recruited a team totally unfitted for the Champ.
    No big players, football today is so physical that you must have a solid portion of you team big lads who positively enjoy putting themselves about.
    I know you could recruit a wonder team of little un’s but that might be in a hundred years time.
    Just mentioning this weekend, West Bram did not compete until (too late) they brought on Dorrens? A very big lad who no one was going to shove off the ball. They immediately got into the game and could have got a draw, and he was at the heart of it.

  78. I have to laugh at the Gazette’s position, It’s not exactly Woodward and Bernstein is it? This is a tuppence ha’penny local rag. Not The NY Times.

    1. It is perhaps unlikely to become the inspiration for a Hollywood movie – though possibly an even lower budget podcast – but I’m not sure Robert Redford would do AV justice (even with his recent penchant for black roll-neck pullovers) and I’m sure Phil wouldn’t want to be associated with Dustin Hoffman in the current climate.

      Having said that the principal of a free press should work on any level and it’s become a recent trend for those in a position of relative power to dictate the terms on what the media is allowed to say – a ban without explanation falls short in my book and that’s why I support their stance.

      Though in the end having the freedom to say what you think far outweighs privileged access to a controlled environment that clubs offer – I don’t think they are missing out on much.

      1. One person controls MFC. If they want to know why there is a ban here’s my advice.

        “Mr Gibson, why has the club banned two of our journalists?”

        As a straight talking Teessider I’m sure the chairman would give them the answer they are looking for.

      2. I agree with you, Werder. I support Boro and I sometimes read the hard-copy Gazette (and sometimes the on-line version). When push comes to shove, I support freedom of the Press** to send their reporters to Pressers, ask the questions they want to raise, and to report on it as they see fit. It doesn’t sit well with me that a club, not even the one I support, should ban certain journalists – the subtext being that we will allow other “more friendly/compliant” journalists to attend unless they, too, get out of line. This is the UK, not North Korea where people can control the news the public gets. If the club disagrees the news put out (not only by the Gazette, but The Times, the BBC or whatever), the club can put out its own version, and what it considers to be “The Truth”.
        ** Subject, of course, to the Law. If a newspaper or other agency produced a scurrilous account, bare-faced lies about X, Y and Z, it would remain open to the club to seek redress and, unlike a poor little citizen of this country, the club and its powers-that-be can well afford to go to court. Or refer the issue to the Press Complaints Commission.

        My own view is that the Gazette DOESN’T really know why 2 of its people are persona non grata.. It doesn’t think that it has done anything wrong. We have all seen sketches, heard friends talk:
        W – “I’m not talking to you!”
        H – “Why?”
        W – “You know why!”
        H – “But I don’t….”
        W – “Yes you do and, anyway, I’m not going to spell it out for you…….”

        So what do you do? Give a meaningless and false apology just to get it over with and then hope to move on? Or stick to your guns if you truly believe you have done nothing, knowing that will mean no interviews, no access and a continued freeze?

        The current position is unedifying and undignfied. There is only one person at the club who is able to change things and we all know who that is. Sensible leadership is required. After which it might be a good idea to look at what is (not?) going on, on the pitch.

  79. Bernie asked a while back why our midfielders are not scoring any goals at all. Leads have a few but practicallly all from the penalty spot, Clayton just once in three years, Howson yet to score, Baker none and as well as Traore. Forshaw about two years ago etc. Downing about once a season.

    So there is a trend going back for three or four seasons. Why, I cannot understand.

    I would expect to see at least one of the midfielders hit ten goals a season. But no.

    Well, I hope to be more positive next tie I type. Up the Boro!

    1. Jarkko, my friend, it’s not difficult to work out: they don’t get close enough to score.

      Under AK our midfield’s main job was to screen the defence. Consequently, as well as the two holding players sat in front of the back four, the others played deeper than in most teams. AK had an emphasis on wingers tracking back – at the time it seemed like a negative obsession but, oh, how I miss it now.

      You never saw a midfielder running past the forwards and rarely witnessed a one surging from deep. Consequently we hardly ever had a midfielder in the box. In fact, all too often when the ball whizzed across the box, there were no Boro players there.

      Small wonder that we didn’t get goals from that department. More difficult to work out is why it’s not happening now.

      After all, the pendulum has swung so much that we no longer have FBs who are required to defend and, at best, have only Grant shielding the back 2. With most of the midfield clearly playing 20 yards further forward, why aren’t we getting goals from them? Howson came with a scoring reputation and we know Stewie can grab a few.

      My best guess is that the safety-first approach has become so ingrained in this team that, even with new players who weren’t exposed to it, it will take time to drill it out of them. Also, perhaps GM isn’t the coach to do it.

  80. Important matters first. Thoughts are with Leo and his family at what must be the most truly awful time. There really are many things more important than football.

    Thanks for the report RR. Must’ve been difficult after yet another depressing and disfunctional display.

    Seems a lot of blog time is being taken up with the Gazette 2, and as I replied to a post from Werder earlier in the blog, and I’m para phrasing here, if those in power at the Riverside don’t like valid criticism then they should either grow a pair and take it on the chin, OR do something to stop this club under performing week in week out.

    If that criticism is not valid or plainly not true that is a different matter then those at the club are within their rights to take whatever course of action they deem fit. The problem we as outsiders have is that the club aren’t saying why they have banned 2 of the Gazettes reporters, so all becomes guesswork and rumours which imo does the club no favours.

    As for the Gazettes stance, I agree with it wholeheartedly. I may have spent the vast majority of my working life in the RN but I come from a long line of Middlesbrough/Tees dockers and solidarity with their fellow workers was pivotal to the introduction of safer working conditions and job security.

    Not trying to be too political just a stance I agree with.

  81. RR….although I agree with your sentiments, and would probably back sacking Mr Monk, I go back to my post of recent times when I asked the bloggers for their choice of possble new Manager/Coach.

    May be not many read my drivel??, but we only got Tuchal from OFB, a non starter IMO, Pulis and Keoman. Not many to choose from RR.

    1. originalfatbob
      december 16, 2017 at 10:23 pm
      There are experienced managers available such as Laurent Blanc and Luis Enrique who have international and european experience and are winners.

    2. Watford always seem to be able to pluck them out of thin air, Hull unearthed one last season and of course there are always those who would jump at the chance to come given the opportunity and inducement.

      Mazzari and Bilic would be an upgrade on what we have at present, right now though I would go for Pulis. His experience at similarly sized clubs and resources makes him a good fit except for the purists who have been spoilt by GM’s exciting, adventurous, swashbuckling style of pace and power football. Big Nige may still be willing despite being previously overlooked, mad as a hatter perhaps but this lot need a huge rocket up them and Nige would at least leave a few of them a tad anxious to enter the dressing room at half time after Bristol and Millwall. Put it this way if Nige was in charge either Ayala or Howson would have suffered a compound fracture in clearing that ball out of danger on Saturday instead of dancing and skipping around each other.

    3. Pedro
      I hope you are not suggesting that we let the supporters pick the manager? That way lies madness.
      The club should be searching for a manager at all times, after all, if your manager is any good he might be on his way at a moments notice.
      In spite of the players disapproval, AK was a definite upgrade on the usual dross we get.
      We had three seasons of movement and activity, both up and down, plus comings and goings, plus making money out of players(a pleasant change for us)
      It seems inevitable that we will hire a German next up, we simply cannot afford another native, they are simply not up to it.
      You will gather from the above that I do not believe it is that difficult.
      The problem is, English chairmen accept the drivel these people pump out every weekend.
      I refrain from comment on our present incumbent (no words can do justice to debacle unfolding at the club)

      1. Plato, it’s debatable whether the fans would have done a better job at picking managers than the Chairman. His track record is not exactly impeccable.

        1. Latest news on the Borogate scandal

          Gazette are still making overtures but no responses from Boro and SG

          Gazette have made sharper comments in their columns about Boro lately which is not a coincidence


  82. FAA

    Follow the link I posted to AV’s Q&A video. He tells us of the background and the reason for the ban.

    Just because I keep referring to Vic’s comment doesn’t mean I support MFC or the Gazette 2, it is just worth hearing what AV says

  83. I’d like to post and analyse two sets of quotes this evening.

    The first is kind of related to Gazette v Boro, as I call it, and also inspired one of my Talking Points. I think it was the one about accepting and appreciating new recruits.

    I could be mistaken, but I seem to recall comments about “The Internet” causing issues for Boro prior to Gazette v Boro. And looking back on 2016-17, it’s easy to remember regular online ranting about 4-4-2, Dimi, Rhodes and general batterings of Boro and AK even when we weren’t explicitly in the drop zone – a position that, on paper, a lot of managers at a club of our relative stature would gladly take.

    So the supposed open-and-shut case, at least on the surface, is that Boro were simply a team in transition, and the fans should have given time for AK and his new players to click again. Keeping faith and playing through the bad times had, after all, paid off repeatedly in the Championship.

    But this level of online furore was something else entirely. At the time, one could ponder: how on earth could AK make it work without the requisite level of appreciation?

    But. The issues behind this online ranting run much deeper than mere superficial complaints. And I think a certain RC92, on the FMTTM message board, summed the whole situation up rather interestingly. I give you his slightly paraphrased thoughts… they’re an intriguing read.

    “The ranting on ‘The Internet’?

    “That, in itself, was directly caused by the club.

    “If you allow the manager to openly criticise the fans more than once in public, criticise the players in public, criticise the board in public and walk out of the club twice within twelve months, then there will naturally be consequences.

    “The fans have been kept in the dark by the club over a long period during some woeful issues, and haven’t even received so much as a basic statement or apology from the club most of the time.

    “You then have captain Leadbitter giving AK a backhanded compliment in the Gazette, whilst saying a number of the backroom staff couldn’t speak English and didn’t speak to him until October.

    “Your vice-captain George Friend states on Sky Sports that things behind the scenes are not good, followed by leaks of disharmony, constant fall-outs with Downing, Leo being frozen out by AK, and Victor Orta being forced out of the dressing room. Even Rhodes hinted at having issues with AK in his first post-match interview against Wigan.

    “All the off-field issues, coupled with the fact that we were possibly the worst attacking team in English football’s top four divisions, were not going to go down well with fans or media. The criticism from the Gazette came at the end of the season and was fair and just. There were very little, if any, positives to take from 2016-17.

    “Yes, Agnew escaped criticism from the Gazette, but that was simply because he was out of his depth and left to deal with a *expletive*-storm. We were only marginally better than Sunderland – who were slammed by national media – and even that was only because 40% of our wins came against them.

    “Any issues the club had prior to Garry Monk’s appointment should have been dealt with in private, and then left as water under the bridge. Instead of trying to work with the Gazette to promote a positive stance leading into (2017-18), we (got) left with this mess. I honestly wonder whether we have a PR department at all – whoever the manager of that department is needs to grow a pair and inform Gibson, Bausor or both that all they’re doing is damaging the image of the club with this issue.”

    1. Interesting post Simon – That’s a pretty succinct quote of how last season panned out and I seem to remember the regular denials that there was anything wrong behind he scenes – let alone the story of a split camp with Orta’s ‘signings’ versus the rest. Even this season doesn’t sound like a happy camp with some players seemingly out in the cold and others under-performing. Many are starting to worry that there is a leadership void at the club with an inexperienced manager out of his depth and no signs of a team emerging despite all the resources thrown at it.

      1. I was talking to a friend yesterday and we commented on the Karanka days.

        Apparently during the overseas and away trips the squad split into two camps.

        The Spanish only speaking Spanish and refusing to speak to Agnew and the other players

        The atmosphere was toxic and the whole club became toxic and some want Karanka back?

        Never !

      2. Weirder
        If an inexperienced manager is the root cause of our probs then I think we all know what to do(it should take, oh I don’t know, ten minutes at most delivered in a rousing address.

  84. The other two quotes are on the structure of football management.

    First, on the apparent “need” for a manager to bring his own men in. Second, on the now successful model Watford implement.

    “I didn’t bring other people in quickly enough – straightaway. Chris Kiwomya was there, and Bryan Klug, and Steve McCall was the chief scout. They’d all played for Ipswich. It had the feel of a family club that didn’t need breaking up. But that was exactly what it needed… You need to bring in three or four people with you. Make your mark. And, if you want to be cynical about it, if the manager’s having a hard time, the club will stick with him longer, because it costs a lot more money to get rid of four or five people.”

    — Roy Keane, The Second Half, on his arrival at Ipswich. (We know how well that tenure turned out. Excuses about not feeling the chemistry and not liking the blue kit because his rivals City and Rangers wore blue don’t wash.)

    “The traditional UK model is to have a manager who will be responsible for the whole football operation… scouting, medical, picking the first team. We just take a view that that’s too big a job for one person. Head coaches will always move on, and with the traditional UK model, that creates turmoil, because when the coach goes, everything around him has to be replaced. When we lose a coach, or replace a coach, all the infrastructure around him remains the same. So we believe it gives a real degree of stability and allows long-term growth for the club.”

    — Scott Duxbury, Watford chairman and CEO. (Quoted direct from Football Focus.)

  85. The bottom line is, and always will be, that if a team is losing, and losing badly with no hope or fight, then the manager pays the price.

    No need for any over analysis. The only problem we have experienced in the past is that the axe has been wielded too late. It’s an easy out for the chairman if he waits for the fans to do his dirty work for him. If he doesn’t want to get his hands dirty he should appoint an experienced director of football and keep out of footballing matters.

  86. The Yorkshire Post have asked one fan from each of the county’s football clubs their opinions of the season so far. The Boro fan interviewed, Graeme Bandeira from Harrogate, gave his verdict that the natives are getting restless and increasingly angered by Garry Monk’s inability to find a settled side, and went on to say that individual errors haven’t aided his cause and that it looks unlikely that the pre-season target of automatic promotion this season can be achieved without a monumental run from now to the end of the season. Mr Bandeira goes on to say that Boro have shown glimpses of what a good side they are capable of being once they really click.

    This seems to be what many fans and indeed the Gazette reporters have been saying all season. However Mr Bandeira then goes on to say that he personally believes that Boro will in fact finish second by the skin of their teeth. I admire his confidence, but wonder if anyone on this forum shares that confidence. For my part I don’t, and have grave reservations of Boro even reaching the playoffs, but in the unlikely event that they do, does anyone think we can actually win promotion at Wembley? I suppose some might say that where there’s life there’s hope, but really???

      1. Why, is he not entitled to his opinion !

        “Either that or some responsible adult needs to check his medication“

        I thought on this site we did not play the man, I found that remark very arrogant and please don’t respond with “it was only a joke”

        Come on BORO.

        1. I don’t think for one minute Redcar Red was joking – he’s probably genuinely concerned about anyone who is seriously expecting Boro to gain automatic promotion based on everything that has gone in the first half of the season as we languish 15 points from second spot having just lost four of our last six games.

          There is absolutely zero evidence to suggest Boro will finish in second place and quite frankly I find it a little embarassing that this has been published in the Yorkshire Post as the representative view of Boro supporters – it’s nothing more than fantasy as we are struggling to win two games in row let alone win at least 18 or 19 of our last 23 games.

    1. Ken

      There has to be a dramatic see change for us to get promotion.

      Automatically – no

      Play offs – possible

      In my opinion this can only be obtained by a new manager

      Look at the difference in West Ham and Everton results since the appointment of Moyes and Allardyce both of whom were available and without clubs

      I think Pulis would still get us promotion


  87. A cold salutary thought this morning that over the last half a dozen games Sunderland are up to 12th in the form table while we have slumped to 15th. We have amassed 6 points over those 6 games thanks to the wins over Birmingham and Ipswich whilst the Makems have amassed 8.

    Birmingham and Burton have amassed 4 points over that same 6 game period, just two points less than Boro. Those “smashing” the league at the top have amassed 16 points over the last 6 games. Any thoughts of Boro making the Play Offs this season seems a pipe dream at best based on present reality.

  88. I am of the view that automatic promotion has gone whoever the manager is.

    The play offs are still a possibility but I believe that can only be achieved now with a change of manager.

    I would go for Pulis (before he ends up at Rangers).

    Some may not like his style of football but it can’t be any worse than what is being served up at present.

    1. Some didn’t like Karanka’s style of football either, but he got us promoted. Before anyone says that he also got us relegated, remember Alfred Lord Tennyson’s simile “It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all”.

  89. I noticed an interesting snippet in the Gazette talking about Clayton and fanning the flames. Quote below

    ”It was a disgruntled dig from a family member of exiled midfielder Adam Clayton asking why “the best defensive midfielder in the Championship” was moving house in Harrogate rather than helping to plug the gaps in South-east London on Saturday afternoon.”

    Smacks of frustration and is an interesting follow on from Simon’s posts above.

    That was in an article by Jonno, clearly keen to get back in the good books…….

      1. Ken, Villa invested as much as Boro but in summet 2016. And had an experienced manager in helm. But no success.

        Perhaps we need to accept that too many changes means a season is lost?

        I don’t buy into making too many changes in one transfer window. It should be three in, two out per window. Not more.

        Having said that, we needed a change after the relegation. But do we need many changes now or in January?

        I would give Monk a season and three months. So untill next October.

        Up the Boro!

  90. Two excellent posts from Simon in the early hours of this morning. They explain why the single bullet solution- fire the manager- may be justified, but is unlikely to solve the deeply- rooted problems of a divided dressing room, too many players with an elevated sense of their own entitlement, and a brittle and insecure administrative and management structure.

  91. As I sit typing this my opening thought was I haven’t visited the blog much in recent days because I’ve been busy. The last part is true, I have been busy, but aren’t we all?
    The truth is that I’m finding it difficult to motivate myself to feel much about Boro’s current situation, this must be the most disappointing season I can remember.
    Its clearly not the worst, but when you know you have a team which has received heavy investment from the Chairman and which was already a very good championship team before that, to see that team struggling as it has and performing so badly is a huge blow.
    I understand the argument that new managers need time, but when you’re in the thick of the fight its hard to imagine that Gary Monk is the man to lead us out of this chaos.
    The point about how poor Villa were last season despite heavy investment and the fact they kept Bruce and look where they are now is well made, but its impossible to see where Boro go from here with the same manager in post.
    I certainly don’t want to see Monk sacked without a replacement lined up and ready, I don’t really want to see us languish in mid table all season either, but it looks like we’re going to.
    Finally, a message to Steve Gibson, please never again say ‘smash the league’, it has set us up to fail.

    1. Nigel
      One single point in your excellent blog, ” i do not want to see us languish in mid table all season”
      That is a dream, we have no chance of staying where we are, the current form table has us sixteenth. But that is the form of a falling knife, and there are lots of matches to play.
      We start a run of four matches on Saturday, away to Wednesday, if we lose them all?

  92. If we give Monk this season and three months then next season will be gone .
    No club can consider the manager’s feelings.
    Life’s too short. Do the deed now.
    The blunder was committed when we fired AK, we should deal with that fact if we want to move on.
    Burnley went up, came down, carried on regardless, knowing that their team was ready made for the Champ.
    That was the case with us(plus we might have stayed up, had we not hired the office boy, with, was it fifteen or twenty games to go)
    We in fact, went back to start, we did not pass go, and we did collect any prizes
    This is a monumental mess, with the Champ team hopelessly intermingled with a heaving mass of dross.
    We have single handedly reduced the value of several players by 75 per cent
    Gibson from thirty mill. To about seven mill.
    It beggars belief that this can happen In a professional club.
    It may be a professional club, but it is not run professionly.
    Under a clinical inspection monk was not a sensible choice, end of.

    1. Got to disagree with you there Plato. Imo the blunder was not getting rid of Karanka sooner. When Burnley scored on Boxing Day with 8 minutes left plus added time, he just stood there with his hands in his pockets because his plan of playing for a 0-0 had failed, AGAIN, and he had no other plan rattling around.

      Yes his caution first tactics got us promoted but unfortunately we didn’t have the where with all to make those same tactics work in the top division, and he was either unwilling or unable to change things.

      1. FAA
        We were lucky to hire him in the first place,(it certainly was not careful thinking that brought him here, witness the resulting shambles)
        Getting into the Prem was a great step forward for us.
        We forgot that in all the excitement.
        Looked at coldly and cruelly it was achieved in spite of the players, some of them would know their time at the well known feather bed which is our training ground, was over if we moved up to the Prem
        They are still there(and worth a lot less)
        Anyone fancy playing the top four in the Prem away from home now,(or at anytime in the near future)
        We will never know if we would have survived in the Prem, because we panicked when it mattered.
        The real sufferers are the fans who came in numbers throughout his reign, knowing that he was delivering an improved product(see present mess)
        They will not come as they realise the club has flung away all the steps forward that the club made under AK.

  93. I have spent some time today visiting the Green Howards Museum in Richmond. This regiment founded in 1688 has accumulated a total of 18 Victoria Crosses of which two were awarded to soldiers from our region.

    Private William Short was born in Eston and died in battle from his injuries at the Battle of the Somme aged only 31, thus receiving the VC posthumously. The other Cleveland recipient was Warrant Officer Stanley Hollis born in Middlesbrough, the only recipient of the VC on D-Day. He later ran the Albion pub in Market Square, North Ormesby.

    Reading about these two war heroes got me thinking that some of the Boro players could do with showing some of that grit and determination on the football field because the Championship comprises many successful teams who don’t always win prettily, but have to sometimes grind out wins by attritional means.

    1. Today’s footballers are worlds apart from those heroes Ken. That adrenalin fuelled, passion, fear, anger, determination and bravery is something fortunately many have never experienced because of those brave men and many tens of thousands just like them.

      I did however think of Big Nige when reading your piece as being the nearest we could get to the same mental strength of those VC winners.

  94. Ken

    They always say beware of what you wish for.

    I think AK’s tenure had run it’s course but we are being undone by the same failings that marred our premiership stay. Before Albert left we needed additional creative players, him leaving made it more important to get more in.

    The players brought in have not done it on the pitch.

    In that situation you have to apply the rule you start with a point, make yourself hard to beat.

    Monk was given riches that both Mogga and AK didn’t enjoy, Mogga laid the groundwork for AK, AK left the club financially truly in clover.

    Monk appears to be squandering those resources

  95. We were spoiled on the showcase football of the early-to-mid ’90s. Back then it mattered less if your defence was a shower against the biggest clubs so long as you attacked, attacked, attacked. You may have won nothing, as Evanspool and KeeganToon did in 1995-96 and 1996-97, but you’d always have something to remember.

    Then came the Wengerlution.

    The gap between the haves and have lesses has widened ever since. It now tends to take a cash injection, a freak (Leicester) or a genuinely good managerial structure (Spurs) to bridge it.

  96. History for the present football supporter is indeed a thing of the past.

    In the age of FIFA and Football Manager, a season can be written off and the next one started. Nobody is concerned with the past, just the here and now. The haste with which managers services are dispensed with is frightening. The more money that comes in to the game, will reinforce this.

    Managers like Allardyce and Pulis have attained god like status, as the saviours of clubs from the financial ruin of relegation. This puts them alongside the Guardiola’s and Moirinho’s, as in demand managers.

    There will soon be a new round of negotiations for TV rights that will eclipse the present deal as peanuts. Forget about style of play and attacking flair. It’s league position that counts.

    The five most important positions these days are the top two in the Championship and the bottom three in The Premiership. Clubs need a manager to aspire to the top two and avoid the bottom three.

    At the moment we have neither.

  97. The squad was split ? Someone said, Spanish once side ,others another side.
    The answers right there,we should have kept AK, and signed all Spanish players.
    And dumped the losers.

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