Brentford 1 – 1 Boro

Brentford Middlesbrough
90′ + 1
Adama 21′
On target
On target

Randolph the red nosed Saviour!

Redcar Red reports on the draw at Griffin Park…

The Bees have been swarming around the periphery of the play off places for a while now and despite some recent setbacks with two consecutive losses are more than capable of gate crashing the party despite being eight points adrift before this afternoon’s game. A defeat for them would just about finish their hopes for another season but a win would catapult them back into the mix so there was a huge amount at stake for both sides with no quarter expected and given.

Injuries had left the West Londoners a little depleted of late as squad depth starts to play a major part in the run up to the season’s finale. Bee’s Defenders were a scarce commodity in midweek when they lost to Cardiff with none at all spare on their bench. Hopefully Boro would be able to take advantage especially with the scintillating form of Paddy and Adama of late. Dean Smith was without four of his squad on Tuesday night with Andreas Bjelland, Florian Jozefzoon and Rico Henry all missing through injury. The fourth, Henrik Dalsgaard was in attendance at the local maternity ward awaiting the birth of his child. The Bee’s Boss however expected that both Jozefzoon and Dalsgaard would be back today to boost things against Boro but that Bjelland and Henry would still be absent. Alan Judge and Lewis Macleod were both easing their way back from long term layoffs and if available their fitness levels might be questionable.

For TP Dani Ayala had picked up a groin strain and had missed training all week but Grant was back giving him a conundrum as to who to pick centrally as Clayts has filled in well in his absence. Besic and Bamford were both carrying niggles last weekend but hopefully not having a Tuesday night fixture may have sorted them. Fabio appears to be fit again so apart from Ayala only long termer Gestede was definitely unavailable. The team news at Griffin Park revealed that Dalsgaard and Jozefzoon both made the Bees starting line-up as expected along with MacLeod and Judge making the bench. Boro were unchanged from Barnsley with Ayala passing a late fitness test and the only change being Grant in for Marvin Johnson on the bench.

The sides tentatively entered the Griffin Park pitch initially looking more concerned about the blustery icy cold than their opponent’s abilities. The game perhaps dictated by the meteorological influences rather than game plans started like two boxers dancing around the ring, weighing up their opponent before trying to land and serious blows. The first real action occurred in the 10th minute when Ben saved our blushes followed by another attempt into the box a moment later which was cleared by a half fit Ayala.

Brentford should have taken the lead from close range as a free kick was delivered into the Boro box but fortunately Neal Maupay sliced his shot over from just outside the 6 yard box. Boro then broke away down the other end with Adama sprinting clear before being cynically chopped down by Woods receiving a yellow for his troubles. On twenty minutes Stewy got a great ball in for Howson who couldn’t quite get the ball under control and Bentley managed to push the effort out for a Boro Corner. From that Corner it was Brentford’s turn and broke down the opposite end only for the ball to come straight back up to Stewy who grappled past two defenders feeding Adama who tracked across the 18 yard box losing his marker and smashing the ball home from the “D” to put Boro1-0 up against the run of play. That’s what Adama gives us away from home, that ability to break and turn defence into attack but now under Tony Pulis the lad now has an end product.

Not long after Adama unleashed another effort causing Bentley to pull off a good save. Brentford needing to get a result from this game now pushed up with even greater gusto. A Besic intervention conceded the Bee’s first corner of the game but the poor execution never troubled our defence. Clayts clattered awkwardly into Mokotjo to pick up a yellow as Brentford were trying to get their heads clear and take the game to Boro who were now characteristically sitting deep.

After a Bamford effort Brentford again then quickly turned taking the game back to Boro resulting in Macleod putting the ball past Randolph into the bottom right hand corner after some suspect defending. A few harsh words were exchanged between those in white shirts mainly Gibson, Clayton and Besic. Mo Besic may only be here on loan but he clearly takes his football very seriously and was particularly unhappy at the manner at which his side was undone and with very good reason.

The warning signs had been there as only five minutes previously Randolph had to tip an effort over the bar from the same player. Boro were now being pulled all over and Pulis was extremely animated at what he was witnessing in the coaching area. Brentford were moving the ball around quickly with TP yelling instructions onto the pitch to get closer, anticipate and cut out the slick build ups from the wide areas.

At this stage Boro needed the half time whistle to go as they were on the ropes. Everything cleared up the pitch was being picked off with the Bees getting straight back at Boro, clearly now feeling they were capable of taking the lead before the half time whistle. An Adama run had Maupay desperately chasing his vapour trail and Bentley closing his angles resulted in the ball going out for a Boro throw in. A Clayton headed clearance from a Macleod corner ended the first half keeping the scores level and TP an opportunity to reorganise his troops and provide better service to Bamford and Adama.

Both sides restarted the second forty five minutes unchanged with Boro now kicking towards the freezing travelling army. The second half started pretty much the same as the first half had panned out with Brentford putting pressure on the Boro defence and Adama the sole outlet for Boro. We intermittently flickered to life with a penalty claim for a foul on Howson and then Downing left two Brentford players for dead with Dalsgaard taking a yellow for the Bees. Adama sent the resulting free kick into the Brentford box but the Ref blew for a foul on Bentley the Brentford Keeper. Boro now enjoyed a little more influence in the game and just as they looked to be asserting themselves Brentford went down the Boro end and created another opportunity of their own which defined this game. A great game for the neutral but a bit nervy for both sets of fans and as Dael Fry was warming up a great chance fell to Paddy who missed his chance. Brentford then appropriately and predictably flew up the other end with the ball cannoning off Ryan Shotton for a Bees corner.

Randolph comfortably gathered the Corner kick into the box as Dael Fry continued his long wait to replace Dani Ayala eventually entering the field on 60 minutes in a like for like swap. Besic went in hard on Dalsgaard to pick up a yellow with the home fans screaming for his dismissal. Maupay then had another chance immediately after the Besic booking only to repeat his previous high and wild effort thankfully for Randolph. Traore then duplicated the feat at the other end sending a Boro chance well over as the game was opening up a little. Chances were occurring at both ends with Brentford pressing, Boro looking to break and neither side settling for the draw.

Grant was brought on for Howson as TP was keen to try and break up the Brentford attacks which resulted almost immediately in a dangerous free kick on the edge of the Boro 18 yard box. The kick from Jozefzoon hit off the White wall and quick clearance up field resulted in a Boro throw in allowing Dean Smith to make his fist sub of the day with Canos coming on for Watkins. Upon the restart Randolph almost immediately had to get down to his left to prevent the Bees taking the lead. Tactically Besic had moved further up the pitch when Grant was introduced with Clayts and Grant now shielding the defence.

The game see-sawed up and down Griffin Park with Boro still content to set up breaks from deep and Brentford continuing their passing with movement and pace. Smith then brought off goal scoring returnee Macleod whilst TP brought off Besic and put Assombalonga on in a more determined 442 formation for the remaining quarter of an hour. Boro then had Ben to thank for another block with Clayts making a pigs ear of trying to clear the ball (giving away a corner in the process) followed up immediately with a second corner which was finally cleared up to Britt releasing Traore who lost possession and the ball came straight back at us again and another effort flew past Randolph’s far post.

Ten minutes remaining and Brentford were still pushing despite Boro’s tactical switch and Randolph once again pulled off a brilliant save to concede a corner which he gathered safely. The clearance up the pitch saw Bamford lose out but Clayts pick up the loose ball and ended with a Traore effort going out for a corner which was eventually delivered badly with the ball going out for a goal kick along with the snow flurries building temporary momentum.

The last throw of the Brentford dice saw Mokotjo go off and Northern Irishman Judge come on and immediately launch an attack after robbing Assombalonga. Some sloppy play from Grant kept us on the back foot. Brentford kept peppering the Boro box pushing for the winner as a cleared ball once again failed to be held up by Britt and Boro were rocking. In a Boro break out Traore charged out of his own box heading towards the half way line but Sawyers took his turn to cynically fell Adama and break the attack up. From the free kick Adama was once again ridiculously brought down for another free kick allowing Boro’s big units from the back to go up to the opposition 18 yard box. Stewy deftly dropped the free kick onto Britt whose header looped up but was adjudged off side and once again Brentford stormed out taking the free kick quickly.

In the last minute Traore lost the ball as his attempt to break Brentford came straight back at us with George this time taking a yellow for the team. As the ball was eventually cleared the fourth official signalled five minutes of added time with Sawyers clattering into breaking Britt for his second yellow and sent off. At this stage the 11 Boro men versus the 10 of Brentford mattered for little as any semblance of tactics and organisation was diminished along with Clayton hobbling off injured temporarily restoring the sides to 10 v 10. Clayts manfully limped back onto the pitch as Brentford kept the pressure up winning a corner off a Grant deflection. Bamford met the corner with Randolph collecting it setting up Britt who back heeled to the now advancing Bamford who was wiped out as yet another yellow was issued.

Boro took their chance from the free kick and won a corner which Paddy then connected with but was blocked for another Boro corner in the dying seconds which was cleared at the Ref blew signalling the end of the game. An away draw against a decent side, keen to preserve their own play-off hopes and in very difficult conditions was a good result from a rear-guard Boro perspective.

MOM for Boro on St. Patrick’s Day unfortunately wasn’t Paddy as we had all hoped for but perhaps more appropriately was Darren Randolph who pulled off several saves to keep the very busy Bees at bay and Boro still in the top six over the International bore fest. My main observation from this afternoon was that teams are deciding to take Traore out rather than try and play him. If we are to keep the fair advantage he gives us some equally cynical gamesmanship needs introducing and soon. Some ridiculous over the top faux reactions from Boro players charging over to the fouling defender early on should focus Officials attention.

Boro begin to spy a play-off place
as season comes in from the cold

Werdermouth previews the trip to Brentford…

As the world increasingly takes on the tone of a John le Carré novel, Boro followers are more focussed with the intrigue surrounding the cloak-and-dagger world of trying to make the Championship play-offs. The recent run of good results have meant everything is a bit more smiley on Teesside as Boro’s less than clandestine promotion plans have come in from the cold. Many had been rushin’ to write off the season after agent Monk was finally exposed and then expelled for being careless in the field as operation ‘Smash the League’ was seemingly sabotaged beyond repair. However, Tony Pulis has not been one to tinker much with his first XI since he arrived as he much prefers to tailor his players to his needs rather than soldier on with those who have been defective, which has left the Boro manager beginning to spy a place in the play-offs.

Despite Sheffield United winning in midweek to close the gap on Boro to just two points, the Teessiders will be determined to prevent the Blades slicing further into their lead as they hope to avoid being stung by the Bees. Tony Pulis heads to Griffin Park in search of that rare mythical beast of four wins in a row, the likes of which have not been witnessed for quite a long while. Indeed the Boro faithful were beginning to doubt they would ever see such a winning run, though help may be a hand as it was once believed that a feather from the griffin could restore sight to the blind. Other key fixtures this weekend see both Sheff Utd and Bristol at home to Forest and Ipswich respectively, with Preston off for a day out at the Stadium of Light, so our promotion rivals may be hoping to gain ground. However, Boro have a good record at Brentford and have won their last three encounters there, including the one in the play-offs, which may be a good omen and Tony Pulis’s team will be buzzing if they return with all three points.

Psychologically it will be important for Boro to ensure they remain in the top six, especially with the two-week snooze-fest coming up and any dropping off the pace on Saturday will leave plenty of time to lie awake at night worrying about the Good Friday visit by top of the table Wolves and the nightmare of missing out on the play-offs. Though one player who may soon be looking forward to international breaks is in-form striker Patrick Bamford – who has been courted by Martin O’Neill to play for the Republic of Ireland. Bamford seemingly qualifies to play for Ireland by virtue of being called Patrick, which apparently is written into the Irish FA constitution as you are then deemed to be a grandson of the emerald isle. Admittedly he’s still working on the accent and is still unsure (to be sure) that he’s up for the crack as he hasn’t yet given up on being the next Harry Kane instead – incidentally, I think being called Harry also probably qualifies you to play for England, though is possibly a bar to managing them.

Tony Pulis now finds himself in the somewhat strange territory of being involved in a battle at the top of the table where the name of the game is winning rather than avoiding defeat. It perhaps requires a different mindset of developing a winning mentality and one he needs to instil into the players if Boro are to remain in the top six. The Boro manager may have allowed himself a nostalgic glance towards the foot of the Premier League table, where he will have no doubt noticed that his three former clubs (West Brom, Crystal Palace and Stoke) currently occupy the three relegation slots. Indeed, if Pulis fails in his mission to take his new team up this term it may well be at these old stomping grounds where Boro will need to stamp their promotion credentials next season.

Brentford Middlesbrough
Dean Smith Tony Pulis
P37 – W14 – D11 – L12 – F53 – A45 P37 – W18 – D7 – L12 – F53 – A35
Points per game
Projected points
Points per game
Projected points
Last 6 Games
Cardiff (H)
Millwall (A)
Burton (A)
Leeds (A)
Birmingham (H)
Sunderland (A)
F-T (H-T)
1:3 (1:2) L
0:1 (0:1) L
2:0 (0:0) W
0:1 (0:1) L
5:0 (2:0) W
2:0 (2:0) W
Last 6 Games
Barnsley (H)
Birmingham (A)
Leeds (H)
Sunderland (A)
Hull (H)
Cardiff (A)
F-T (H-T)
3:1 (2:0) W
1:0 (1:0) W
3:0 (2:0) W
3:3 (0:1) D
3:1 (2:1) W
0:1 (0:1) L

International breaks at the best of times have become an unwelcome interruption to those who are mainly absorbed by the main event of following their club. Meaningless international friendlies are like an eternal ad-break of PPI ambulance chasers tempting you with the money to buy a cheap DFS beige leather sofa to make your simple life sophisticated, as you only wish that the fast-forward button worked so that you could skip to the crucial stage in the thriller you were intensely watching. Although, the merits of having such an ill-timed distracting pause is now even more dubious with the sudden semi-return to cold war politics, which may yet prove to be a final curtain call for Putin’s now seemingly pointless big state PR event on the world stage that was supposed to cement his ‘re-election’ after quite literally seeing off the opposition.

Mother Russia’s apparent unwelcome recent gift of a box Novichocs (other more military strength spellings are available) to a former intelligence colonel has had them labelled a rogue state, which were seemingly anonymously delivered with barely a glimpse of the man dressed in black with a Moloko Tray calling card – replacing the usual Polonium tea and deepest sympathy that is reserved for those who have fallen deeply out of Kremlin favour. Whilst the UK’s response of not deploying the likes of Boris Johnson or Prince William at the tournament may not be overly concerning to Mr Putin, it seems the political manoeuvring and increased tensions ahead of the forthcoming World Cup will probably end up overshadowing events on the pitch – even placing in doubt whether it actually takes place at all.

At the very least, it will perhaps leave Gareth Southgate and his players feeling that they’re unlikely to receive favours from any Russian linesmen in their bid to emulate their 1966 predecessors in lifting the trophy. Indeed, one can only imagine the fate that awaits any fueled-up English supporter who foolishly places an unwise toenail out of line before barely getting the chance to finish the chant of ‘Ingerland’. Though Russia’s treatment of those elements among the English supporters, who in their delusions believe they’re acting as pseudo-ambassadors for a fallen empire as they spoil for more than just a Ferrero Rocher, may prove to be beneficial to some. I suspect West Ham owner David Sullivan, whose penchant for wearing the Russian ushanka hat with a similarly themed Politburo overcoat, will be more than happy if a huge swathe of his less-than happy Hammers spend much of next season in a Siberian Gulag.

Comrade sullivan.jpg

The ugly protests at the Olympic Stadium last weekend had Sullivan eventually being escorted from his seat for his own safety, plus some young children caught up in the bile were kindly given refuge on the Burnley bench. Perhaps the under fire owner may be inspired for the next home game by the Russian owner of Greek side PAOK Salonika in terms of giving off a message that he’s not to be messed with. The Russian oligarch Ivan Savvidis came onto the pitch to protest at the referee about a disallowed goal in the top of the table game against AEK Athens whilst nonchalantly packing a pistol in a hip holster – better still perhaps Sullivan could accessorise his Soviet chic with a rather fetching Kalashnikov and then we’ll see how many of the seemingly derailed ‘Inter City Firm’ feel lucky. Incidentally the Greek league was subsequently suspended following the incident and will only resume once the issue of crowd violence has been resolved – with a recent game between PAOK and Olympiakos also being suspended after opposition manager and former Watford boss Oscar Garcia was hit in head with toilet roll and ‘taken to hospital’ – whilst it doesn’t sound like weaponised Andrex is an obvious danger to health, it’s not clear if the Labrador puppy was still attached.

Talking of lethal weapons, the Russian president only last week boasted that they now possess a advanced hypersonic missile, which travels so fast and can change direction that it cannot be stopped by any existing defences. The fear spread by launching an Advanced Defence Avoidance Missile Attack (ADAMA) has lead to many strategists wondering just how to stop something so fast – doubling or trebling up defensive resources has been tried but usually by the time it has been spotted it’s usually too late to do anything as it accelerates past them. Earlier launches of this ground-hugging missile initially proved to be a little wayward but with the introduction of the Pulse guidance system it has turned it into a much more effective weapon and has now frequently started hitting the target. Whilst in the developing stages it proved to be a little temperamental it has also been further refined to avoid the earlier risk of self destructing. We are now perhaps only beginning to understand the potential of such an offensive weapon and many fully expect to see its deployment on the world stage in the near future.

So will Boro hold their nerve and apply the pressure on their opponents as they continue to expunge their rivals from the promotion party? Or will Brentford lure Tony Pulis’s men into a honey trap before swarming our defence and stealing all the nectar points? As ususal your predictions on score, scorers and team selection – plus will Paddy prove he’s got the luck of the Irish and continue his run of scoring on St Bamford day?

122 thoughts on “Brentford 1 – 1 Boro

  1. Advanced Defense Avoidance Missile Attack with Pulis guidance system…. Top marks Werder. I am not even thinking about how to add to that or top that.
    As for tomorrow, hoping St Hatrick (acknowledgement due to GHW and RR) will continue his good form and will drive all the Bees supporters (not snakes alas) home early in abject disappointment.

    Hard fought 2:1 to the Boro. Stewart Downing and Patrick Bamford delivering the goals.

  2. Werder: the usual and more. How the hell do you do it?
    An important corner to be turned tomorrow.
    Like Ken and Ian, I would settle for a point but how damaging might that prove to be?

  3. The trouble now is , what kind of a team are we, a Karanka you will not score lot, or a Cloughy score more than them.
    We have been both the last ten games.
    Cardiff have now hit form, Villa sneezed during the week, Fulham are scoring at will, Derby are being Derby.
    If we win at Brentford ,who can beat the best on their day, then I think we are nailed on , and better still being consistence going in.

  4. Brilliant Werder

    You are somewhat closer to Moscow than the rest of us, be aware that another Putins non mates was found with compression marks around his neck this week. This draws attention to another mon supporter who was found hanging a little while ago – open verdict by the coroner.

    ‘Storm’ in a tea cup? Maybe a bit stronger than a storm!

  5. Overnight snow may threaten the gane’s viability. The pitch could be cleared but the concourse and approaches could’ve affected.
    As for the state of the motorways, who only knows?
    I’m looking forward to my third game of the season should it be on. It’s an excuse for a bit of a family get-together, as they’re already darn sarf the drinks will flow even if the football doesn’t.

    Three one to us.

  6. Superb writing Werder. Far exceeds anything else that is out there in the media. We on Diasboro are very lucky to have such a fantastic writer week after week. My extreme thanks to you .

  7. Great piece. ADAMA is a touch of genius.

    This weekend has the added possibility of Boro moving into fifth spot if Derby continue their ‘wobble’. A win for us should be enough as it would be a brave man to reckon that, on current form, Derby can beat Cardiff. That would then turn up the heat on Derby as the clubs behind attempt to climb all over them like a zombie hoard falling on the designated extra.

    Did anyone else have mixed thoughts about Traore receiving an international call-up for Spain U-21. I’m glad to see his progress recognised but part of me wouldn’t mind seeing him withdraw with an unspecified niggle.

    Final odd point: there is a Liverpool FC channel on Pay Tv here and tonight Oztime it is showing Liverpool U18 live VS Boro U18. How strange is that? Sitting in Sydney and watching that game live.

    It’s a strange world


    Oh, by the way, it’s due to be well over 30C here today. Will it make 30F over there?

    1. Cheers for that Selwynoz and I’ll forgive you for mentioning the 30C temperature 🙂 Especially as it’s currently -2C over here with a 60km/h wind making your face freeze off with a wind chill temperature well below -10C.

      Also many thanks to peasepudinperth too for his comments – who is probably more discretely enjoying the warm weather…

  8. Werder, put my name on the list of people waxing lyrical on your word play, they’re something else mate.

    Selwyn, you naughty boy you, I won’t be surprised if Werder doesn’t slap the back of your legs for playing the weather card against the suffering hordes back in Blighty, not fair pal, very true, but not fair.

    On another note, good spot on the LFC telly channel, I’ll be tuned in to that later on.

    No prediction from me, just go there and do a number on them.

  9. Good stuff, Werder. Thanks once again for a cracking preview piece full of the usual wit.

    On the game itself, I said on the previous blog (or was it the one before that – you chaps are prolific?!) that I’d take a point and no injuries if offered.

    A win would be terrific but away from home against a top half club is a game in which to avoid defeat in my eyes and I’ll be happy enough if poor RR is reporting on how TP strangled the life out of the game to a 0-0.

    However, I’ll push the boat out with my prediction of Bees 1-2 Ironopulis.

    Bess may sting but steel can’t feel.

    1. Thanks Andy, I’m also hoping for a win but it could be more likely to be a game of goals for both teams.

      BTW today is going to be pretty hectic and I’ll just get chance to see the game as Mrs Werder’s birthday party starts an hour later and I’ve got a very busy schedule today preparing food for the guests and getting everything else prepared!

  10. Today’s game will tell us whether the corner has finally been turned or the run we have been on was just our normal return of points from an unusually kind run of fixtures.

    We need to get points from tricky away trips and be very strong at home to reach the play offs. That is readily achievable

  11. Another great intro Werder, let’s hope Redcar Red can write about a win in his outro. In West Norfolk we’re enjoying freezing temperatures, snow, no water and we’ve just had a power cut. Let’s hope Boro’s utilities are all working OK. and in a cohesive manner.

    Prediction, Brentford 2 – 1 Boro but I did notice that the Sky pundits were going away win or a draw. What do they know?

    Safe travelling to all those driving down to the ‘Smoke’.



  12. Loved the way Werdermouth brought in the rushin, tinker, tailor, soldier, spy reference into one sentence, and also the veiled threat later of Boro’s unstoppable missile.

    Weather wise the Algarve has just endured almost three weeks of rain, a tornado, and rare sunshine. Although temperatures have been around 16C l return to the UK and freezing conditions tomorrow, so although I’ll be keeping an eye on today’s match, forgive me if my main thoughts will be centred on possible a delayed flight to Leeds/Bradford airport.
    Incidentally, what’s been happening to the weather on Teesside? Redcar Athletic have only managed to play one league match since the 3rd February.

    Nevertheless, if Boro’s match goes ahead today I’m expecting a 1-1 draw which will mean our retaining a playoff place going into the International break.

    1. Thanks Ken, and well spotted on the tinker, tailor, soldier, spy reference (though did you also get the ‘smiley’ one?). Have a safe flight back home but if you’re lucky you may have to stay another week 🙂

  13. Today will be a big step forward if we come away with all three points, a big disappointment if we slip up. My gut feeling is a low scoring draw will be the likely outcome which will serve neither side well but not a disaster for TP and Boro just yet.

    There will be many slips and shock results as the pressure now mounts in the Championship as the finishing line comes into focus and games start to run out and desperation sets in at both ends of the table. Villa are a perfect example with their last two results, walloping dead cert high flyers Wolves and then tripping up against QPR, “Typical Villa” moment if ever there was one assuming thats not an exclusive to those of us on the Tees!

    Speaking of Villa, they are away to Bolton this evening, surprisingly Bolton have a very good home record of late so don’t be surprised if another banana skin occurs with Bolton fighting for survival. Going back to QPR they have a London derby with Fulham this afternoon and AK brings his Trees North to the Blades which could be interesting with most of the pressure on Chris Wider’s side. Preston are up at the SOL and surely by the law of averages even Sunderland are due a result some day soon, Fletcher to finally come good? As poor as the lad has been he is undoubtedly far better than the Makems have witnessed to date.

    Bristol will hope to get their season back on track but Big Mick will have ideas of his own and a win for the Tractor men would see just a three point gap between the two sides. Derby v Cardiff tomorrow lunchtime could be even more interesting should Boro win today piling subliminal psychological pressure on Gary Rowett’s players and fans.

    Talking of pressure I see our ex Managers mentor has been indulging in a bit of a meltdown or perhaps the cynic in me sees it more as a carefully orchestrated exit strategy and big pay off. One thing TP is proven at is in dealing with pressure whether its at the bottom of the Premiership or in this case the upper echelons of the Championship, an experienced cool head could be priceless and a deciding factor.

  14. RE. The weather. Returning from London and points south.
    Looking forward to a game of golf on Monday.
    Noticed that the fields were flooded all the way from middle England to Teesside.
    No golf for me.
    Now, Traore.
    There is no chance that the lad will miss his chance of glory, he is as strong as an ox.
    Hope we do not switch him to the left wing when the game is won, that way lies disaster, as we found out at Fulham.

  15. Werder – you’re getting really good at this!

    Selwynoz – it’s snowing at present in North Yorks and very blustery. Brrrr!

    Jarkko – I doubt the English FA will pull out of the World Cup, unless the situation takes an even more sinister turn, but any English football supporter who goes there would have to be mad. There is talk of British media being banned from Russia. I wonder if RT does football coverage: “The courageous Motherland football team was harshly treated by the referee and his assistants, who allowed three German goals to stand despite all being clearly offside. The penalty goal which made it 4-0 came after a ridiculous decision made by Poland’s anti-Russia referee, as the tackle was a good one and five metres outside the penalty area. Meetings will be held tomorrow to decide whether the gas and oil pipelines from Siberia to western Europe should have their stop-cocks turned off until the tournament has finished. There will be a price increase to be paid before the lines are re-opened, in that case.”

    1. Dormo, sorry late answer. We lost our chances of qualification already half way through the group matches. So no need to rhink about politics.

      I have a direct bullet (no pun intended) train from my home town to St. Petersburgh and it does not even need to stop on the border. But I know the city there os beatiful but I rather wait the country gets normal after the Putin era. But it will take a few yeras I am afraid.

      Eventually thr economics will make the chance. But remember I took a long time for the Soviet sustem to exploid.

      Up the Boro!

  16. Very good thanks. Top punage.

    Next few games will tell us if we have actually turned a corner.

    Monks team(s) beat the bottom boys so let’s see how we go against the bigger teams.

    3-0 to us.


  17. Great article Werder. I am in awe of the way you can weave current world events into a pre match piece. I doff my hat 🎩 in admiration.

    Today is a major challenge and as Ian and a few others have pointed out, will show if we have progressed or merely continued to pick up points against the lower league sides whilst continuing to struggle against those around and above us.

    If Dani is not fit then I hope he is replaced by Fry and that TP does not tinker too much with the back four. I would replace Clayton with Leadbitter.

    The fact that we have a good record at the Bees makes me nervous as the law of averages says we have to come unstuck there sooner or later – preferably later. I am also conscious that our lucky mascot Jarkko will not be present!

    Bees 0-0 Boro. Nil score draw predictions have worked well of late so I will stick to that albeit I suspect it will not make easy viewing.

    CoB keep proving me wrong and finish the job Cardiff started and put an end to the Bee’s play off hopes. 😎

  18. Werder, you’re right I was discretely enjoying the weather which was a balmy 26C today, not blazing hot but nice enough after our latest heat wave. We had four RL teams over here from the East last week putting on a display for the league season kick off at our brand new 60,000 seater stadium. As the sun was setting in full view of the arial cam, one of the commentators, who was blown away by the beautiful setting, declared that WA gets the sunshine and weather that Queensland (called the Sunshine State, for whatever reason) thinks it gets. Being very discreet over here, we prefer to keep that a secret, but you know from first hand what we’re blessed with in Perth.

    Dodging between Swansea v Spurs and Fulham v QPR, Fulham 1-0 up and only one winner here I’m afraid., same in Swansea I suppose.

  19. Well Werder that was one “stonker” of a Headliner” and I for one am happy that the break is coming up to give you time for a a little well R&R and close down the Boro brains cells for a week or two.

    Absolutely loved the ADAMA acronym of the missile attack and the reference to the John le Carre books, smiley as well. Strokes of genius that we are all grateful for.
    Also I guess TP will have a small smile on his face at the moment, as Werder pointed out, the bottom three in the EPL are all clubs that he left in in a better position.

    Once more no prediction from me, only hoping for a result, although four on the bounce is a big ask, but do-able in the right Boro turn up.

    So I am now off to try and find my way through the maze that is iFollow and subscribe with my Euros. Hopefully Allan’s map will help!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Another classic from Werder to weave all the intrigue into a game of football which is becoming life or deaths to our season. Well done again and your literary efforts are much appreciated.

    So will we see the spy come in from the cold today. Will the players Bond even further? Will Randolph get to Palmer away any shots on his goal? Will we be all smileys after the game?

    We definitely don’t want to tinker with the team. Although I do admit we have to tailor the formation to suit the opposition. Let’s just soldier on and we can spy on the rest of the results tonight and dream of domination.

    Q some enticing football today from Teesside with love!

    No gadgets, no high powered chases, just special skill industry and hard work will see Boro achieve world or at least play off domination.

    Just the sound of Bam, Bam,Bam and it’s goodnight to Brentford.

    It is our Ernst desire to be back in the Premiership as long as we do not suffer a blow and be felled back down to the championship. If they did the cat would be out of the bag and I would have kittens.

    Let’s be honest we would all like to live twice in the Premiership, get some money and be a goldfinger and be a powerful Kleb again.

    So will we win today?


    Well it could be 00 or 7?


  21. 2-2 at The Cottage, just shows you how much I know about predictions (and why I don’t predict games) and football in general. I think I’ll just stick to my unofficial post of Tourism Ambassador for West Australia!

  22. Brentford running the game from mid-field, well taken for the opener from Adama, but what a sloppy equaliser from the Bees.
    Brentford are passing the ball for better than Boro, in fact our mid three have been poor second to the ball and most of the pressure from the home side.

    Nothing to Patrick and if this continues no St Patricks Day Goal.

    Likely next goal from Brentford they way Boro are playing.

  23. Not good. Midfield being over run and clearances keep coming back. PB fighting a lonely battle up front. If the one way traffic continues then the Bees will score again. TP needs to pull something out of his bag of tricks to turn the tide.☹️

  24. Well a point and the non losing run continues but that was excruciating to watch.

    That was more akin to a GM team performance than a TP one.

    There was a lack of cohesion and fluidity and it was difficult to remember any quality passing/movement from us. Can’t fault the team on their effort but the quality was completely lacking.

    Well it is what it is and we remain in sixth place (just) but we need significant improvements if we are serious about gaining and winning a play off spot.

    Hopefully the break will refresh everyone and allow those with injuries to fully recover ready for the vital games to come.

  25. A hard earned point, a tad lucky by the sound of it.

    Move, it is not a rule of football that you have to lose if you don’t play well. Of the pack chasing 6th we had the toughest game and we didn’t lose.

    Take the point and move on.

  26. Sorry in advance.
    We moved our main man from his position yet again, ( to the left wing) grrr,
    When are we going to stop this madness, his position is on the right, with full authority to move centre front of goal when the situation demands it.
    Just seen their goal , utterly idle defenders ( and midfielders) .
    First they allowed them to get a shot away.
    It cannoned out to the front centre of the box one of their players finally realised that this called for a shot, touch, two strides, still not inside the box, plenty of our players between him and our goal, all started thinking ” how can I tackle him, dispossess him and pass the ball to a team mate” meanwhile he bought his raffle ticket, and up popped his prize.
    There was no need to dispossess him, just block the ball, even better, three of you can block at the same time, just to cover all the angles, shocking behaviour when in the driving seat.
    The football programme said that we did not get the ball to Traore in the second half, if true, a damning statement and quite how we could defend for the second half and not post him on the half way line is beyond me.
    Don’t they know that he cannot be offside if he stands in our half, surely to god they understand that he ties up two/three men when he does that.

  27. Thoughts on the game.
    As the weather deteriorated so did the game. A late flurry of poor challenges possibly caused by the freezing conditions briefly warmed the atmosphere but we rarely threatened a second goal.
    Brentford were good. Organised, string and with some pace and no little skill.
    We drew this he first half and lost the second.
    Most puzzling was out reluctance to put pressure on their players in possession.
    I understand playing a deep defensive line away from home, and I appreciate not letting nging in with two feet.
    However far too often we seemed happy to stand off and give their players 3 or 4 yards and time on the ball rather than harry them into a hurried pass.
    Maybe taking the lead encouraged complacency.
    Clayts had a poor game by his standards, and goal apart so did Traore. Ayala was strong, Shotton did well and Paddy was ill served. Besic was probably our best player.
    Transport, performance and weather aside, Griffin Park was a pleasure to visit. Bar staff, stewards and police were all very friendly and efficient.
    A point isn’t what I’d hoped for or expected, but an away point is always a good point.

  28. Plato

    I only listened to the match and had the rugby on in the background. That means I couldn’t watch any changes in line up.

    What I would say is that if we put on Britt as the extra striker in a 433, who would you play on the left of that three? Britt or Bamford?

    If you bring Britt on and revert to 4231 who would you put on the left of the three? Britt or Bamford?

    If, as it sounds like, Brentford dominated in midfield, would it make much difference whether Paddy didn’t get the ball up front or on the left?

    Didn’t see the match so will defer to others.

  29. RR

    Thanks for an excellent match report I couldn’t feel tje snow and ice and wind as I read it.

    I heard that Friend and Clayton didn’t have the best of games and it really needs a fully functioning midfield to get the team going.

    It was reported that the Brentford manager was complaining about the ref being surrounded by Boro players when Traore was fouled to get the sending off and of that’s the only way that referees will react to the fouls then so be it
    Thanks again


    1. OFB, there were some poor performances out there today, George being a regular and unfortuanately no one to replce him. Clayton also poor as was Howson.

  30. RR, thanks for the report and reiterating what I posted not so long ago, we need to protect Adama from the blatant and cynical chopping down to prevent him play at his destructive best. Also as I posted, gone are the days when you could take retribution yourself, it’s too risky with the RADA students, cheats and A&E candidates out there on the park, so we need to attract the attention of the officials by any needs possible in to taking action. I’m all for sending Adama for a session at RADA himself during the break to hone his skills, I’ve never condoned cheating as I abhor it, but if we’re not getting a fair cut of the decisions, then needs must when the devil drives.

  31. Still seething over the Sunderland equilizer, everyone is beating them.
    Down to the wire,
    The teams above us are better, but how will they cope ,in the last furlong, we have Piggot on board , and you know how Lester could win by a nose.

  32. RR

    Thanks for the usual excellent report, just read it looking out at the snow, Griffin park ‘sounded’ cold.

    We have gone in to the international break still in a play off place, I think we would have settled for that at Christmas.

  33. Yes, our midfield never get working and Brentford played better than us the longer the match went on.

    I think Mo was OK first but I suspect he is still feeling the hanstring problem his has had for a couple of weeks now. Definately not his best match since he has been here.

    We were outplayed in the middle. So it shows how inmportant the Everton loanee is for our team. I would even go and say he is the player we need most. We can replace Ayala with Fry and no one notices that. But if Mo is not there we play like MonkBoro or AKBoro.

    Was this the first time this season we did not get all the three points after taking the lead first in a game? So a record was lost. Neither did Bamford score for a while.

    But a point from an away match is always good. Unbeaten for a six or seven matches with winning most of them. If we keep picking up two points per match until the summer, we will be OK (also the possible play-offs).

    Up the Boro! The Boro is going Up.

  34. PS. We lost the ball far too easily for my liking. Hence not much possesion. But we definately do not play sideways nor backwards when we have the ball. So the choise is made by Pulis. Up the Boro!

  35. RR

    Thanks again for your excellent match report. I am surprised your fingers had thawed out to enable you to type it!

    Having reflected overnight and looked at the league table and Brentford’s home record, then a draw was probably a good result given they have only lost three at home so far.

    It was the manner of our display which was disappointing, particularly an ineffective midfield which caused its own problems by giving the opposition too much space and defending, as far too often, so deep.

    The way the season is panning out it looks as if we are again heading, as in previous seasons, for a week/period of destiny when we play Sheffield, Bristol and Derby which will give us a good idea of our fate.

    Given our history, what chance of missing out on goal difference!

  36. Listened to the Gazette lads comments about the sending off being harsh. Read that the Bee’s thought our players got him sent off by surrounding the ref.

    Just watched the second challenge a couple of few times and it looked like the Brentford player threw himself in front of Britt. I would have to see it again but the views I have seen gave the ref little choice.

  37. Thanks to Werder for the pre match piece and RR for his honest and comprehensive report. Both excellent reads.

    Listened on Tees and it did sound as if we were second best over the 90 (+5) minutes. Not creating enough opportunities up front and being over run in midfield so a point in the circumstances was a decent result if not performance.

    Obviously not seeing the game I can’t comment on individual performances but when you don’t, or rarely, hear an outfield player being mentioned in commentary then that must be a good indicator they aren’t being involved in the proceedings. And today Howson was hardly mentioned for long periods of the game until he was subbed.

    Now I know you don’t have to be in possession of the ball to be involved. Players can close the opposition down, make off the ball runs, occupy space to prevent passes etc, but today if Howson did that then he got next to no recognition for his efforts. Or was it that he did very little of those and didn’t warrant inclusion in the commentary?

    Two things in particular stand out in RRs report and they are becoming a bit of a theme which is a concern. Firstly, why do we sit back and take the foot of the gas (usually) when we take the lead? And secondly how long is it going to be before Adamah gets a serious injury from the serial hacking down he now attracts in every game?

    I agree with those who say get in the officials faces and put pressure on them. Not as individuals but as team mates. So what if the club get fined for failing to control their players. We need to stop being so nice and accepting that the opposition are deliberately trying to injure Traore and take him out of the game.

    PB was deliberately targeted and “done” at Norwich at the end of the play off final season and look what happened there. Our top goal scorer limped around Wembley for 90 minutes unable to contribute in any meaningful way. Fortunately for Adamah the fact he’s so strong and powerful means he is able to take these deliberate attempts at injuring him. My concern is for how long?

    1. FAA, how many times do I have to bang the same drum that you have now joined to beat upon for people to listen. Please give me a booking for being right in to the ref’s or an opponents face in screaming out at an assault on Adama, but you know what, the next time it happens you will be reminded once again by one of my team mates as to the extent of the crimes being committed against our prize possession.

      Prized possession, who’d have thought that statement would have been flagged up just a short while ago.

  38. FAA,

    Couldn’t agree more, the hacking is almost becoming an accepted ritual by the team and officials so, if the team spirit is as good as we are led to believe why don’t the team mates stick up for him by complaining more vociferously. You can’t fix it off the ball there are too many cameras and too many viewpoints so it’s down to a roll around, or better still don’t move, and let the team get in the officials face. That’ll wind up the opposition too.

    A great report RR and just why do we sit back and invite the opposition into our living room as it were?



    1. Jarsue159, I was so wound up by FAA’s comments that I didn’t scroll down to yours before posting, maybe we should start a social media thingy? Hand on, isn’t that what this is?

      1. FAA, by being wound up, I’m not against you pal, I’m very much with you, I’m just wound up about Adama’s blatant taking out and us doing nothing in response.

  39. Watching the Channel 5 “highlights” this morning. The sending off was as blatant a sending off as I have seen. The lad simply blocked Adama and crucially stuck his leg out right across him and unless Adama was a hurdler rather than a sprinter the outcome was as inevitable as it was premeditated. There was clear deliberate intent to play the man and not the ball. I can only assume that Smith’s comments were without the benefit of seeing the replay and his angle from the dug out was somewhat obscured.

    1. RR

      You are being very generous to Smith as the tackle (assault) was virtually in line with the home bench.

      Perhaps an official or colleague blocked his view!!

  40. RR

    Sorry, Adama not Britt was fouled, in doesn’t matter because he thre himself at the Boro player.

    Elsewhere, something interesting came out in Sunday Supplement. They were talking about clubs moving grounds and one of the keys was that winning football helps. In an article by Karen Brady one of the things she said was giving player recruitment back to the football people.


  41. Ian

    I hope you and your family are all safe and well and are not struggling with the overnight blizzards which descended in your neck of the woods. It must be truly horrific with towns and villages cut off and nobody able to get into work or the shops in Derby.

    If that doesn’t merit a 3 point deduction I don’r know what does made all the more ridiculous that Neil Warnock and his side managed to travel up to Pride Park from South Wales.

  42. Traore
    He is now being targeted deliberately and in cold blood.
    The people who do it know that with him on the ball close to their box it is mission impossible for them.
    We must take action, and there is a lot we can do.
    First the manager must raise the subject with the media, stating that he expects referees to act before Traore is taken out of the game, refs should not give them the first four fouls before booking them, they should act immediately at the first sign.
    The players should tell the ref that they are not happy with the treatment he is getting.
    Finally, once the first booking has been dished out, the next foul on him should get a booking, that would stop them having a cab rank waiting in line for their turn to kick him.

  43. Watched the highlights on the MFC website and both goals are down to bang average defending and 2 quality finishes. Brentford defender showed Traore inside, bad choice, and was never going to keep up with him. The Boro players just did not react quickly enough, Clayton in particular.

    The sending off was as clear a second yellow card as you will see. Steps across to block, hangs a leg out just to make sure and then to cap it off cue faux indignation and surprise at getting his marching orders. If you think you’re “man” enough to carry out a foul like that then at least be man enough to accept the consequences.

    See Derby v Cardiff has been postponed. Maybe Sky don’t have the final say after all.

  44. Spot on there Plato. Team fouling should have been addressed years ago. Officials need to be aware and take action to stamp it out. Seem to remember Warnocks Cardiff doing it (I know I was surprised as well!) at the Riversde earlier this season and getting away with it all game.

  45. Thanks RR for a great report once again. A decent point gained considering.

    Looking at reports about Sunderland , it does look like AF is getting some stick from every man and his dog. Question is , what the hell will we do with him when he comes back ! Six million pounds , obviously daylight robbery. Whoever sanctioned the deal at Middlesbrough , must be having sleepless nights because we will be lucky to get 500,000 for him !

  46. I can’t make Fletcher out, he obviously has, or had, ability but his confidence must be shot to pieces with the fragments on the wind. Somehow somebody will have to rebuild him mentally and in all honesty nobody is going to do that at Sunderland. They can’t even sort themselves out as a unit, never mind an individual player.

    He is getting some game time but the game time is turning into scapegoat time.

    The Newcastle supporter who won the Crossbar challenge in his Magpie shirt summed Sunderland’s plight up nicely. He sets off on a Shearer-esque celebration gets chased by a Steward and nutmegs the Steward. That is worth a watch believe me.




    🔴 Here’s the video on YouTube – Werder

  47. Redcar Red

    I suspect it was the lunchtime kick off that caused the problems there was a couple inches but that was all when I woke up. The weather forecast was for it to snow up until mid afternoon and there wasn’t much time to clear up if it did snow.

    In the end it kept threatening a few flakes without actually developing in to proper snow. The Cardiff squad would be up here anyway so not a problem but for the huge following of away fans it was only fair to cancel it early.

    The good news is that both the travelling fans were in the same car and heard soon enough.

    That is the true story but talk in the office will focus on the forget the Rams cant win and Cardiff on a great run, how convenient that the match was cancelled. That will be my interpretation of events.

    1. According to Warnock on Sky they drove up and the “roads were clear”. Whether he meant this morning which is what was implied on Sky I don’t know but 2,700 away fans were en route. Seems strange that Boro could get their game on with Leeds with ten times the amount of snow and Leicester this very same afternoon (which is only about 25 miles away as the crow flies) are playing their game.

      Only ten Derby players fit to train on Friday and Huddlestone banned so an incredible piece of fortuitous luck. Greg Halfords tweet of a clear Pride Park car park doesn’t help the Derby excuse in fact going back to Boro v. Leeds I commented that the official attendance looked at odds with the amount of empty seats which I said at the time was probably down to many from the outlying towns and villages unable to get through but their ticket sales were counted.

      Then there is the Leicester v. Boro game on Sky a few seasons back which went ahead when Boro players had to walk the final leg to the ground. Six foot snowdrifts are one thing but a few inches of snow is a farce and Derby have had Cardiff’s eyes out as well as the rest of the Championship. No doubt the EFL will do absolutely zero leaving the door now wide open for postponements due to a long list of ludicrous reasons:

      A) It rained quite heavily for 45 minutes last Wednesday
      B) The Chairmans granny burnt the Balti pies
      C) A Russian bloke with a flask was spotted in a local Burger joint
      D) Ran out of environmentally friendly light bulbs for the floodlights

      Its incredible that Cardiff’s players and fans can travel from South Wales yet the programme sellers and burger flippers can’t make it in from the surrounding areas but the Club shop was open for business (subsequently promptly closed when pointed out on Twitter). Even if Cardiff and Halford did travel from a local Hotel it still makes the point.

  48. Thanks to Redcar Red for another enjoyable match report – though the game itself was a bit frustrating to watch as Adama’s goal was the peak of the performance – what followed was Boro somehow sitting deep and handing the initiative to Brentford to try and score – unfortunately they did and but for a couple of smart saves from Randolph it could have been a fruitless trip to the Bees.

    Incidentally, I think Ian was right the first time and it was Britt who was brought down for the red card – though Adama seems to be getting hacked down quite regularly and at some point he’s probably going to pick up an injury. Whether the officials will do much I doubt it as Pep Guardiola has been saying the same thing about some of his players too. Though maybe Adama’s game needs to be played a little further up the pitch and Boro’s recent penchant for sitting on the edge of their own box doesn’t help him. Maybe he should watch some videos of Salah playing for Liverpool as I think he should be aiming to become that kind of player in the next few years – he has that potential as he develops.

    Also thought Bamford had another good game leading the line and seemed to win quite a lot of balls against the Brentford defence but unfortunately the midfield weren’t either expecting him to win them or weren’t reading his lay-offs. In general the midfield had a bad day at the office and couldn’t keep hold of the ball or pass it to another player – though Leadbitter nearly pulled off a delightful chip in the dying minutes that would have been worthy of winning any game.

    Still at least we got a point and keep in the top six but the it’s looking pretty tight just below us – also saw Wolves beat Burton and they looked pretty dangerous going forward and are now 13 points clear of third and probably only need two more wins to gain promotion. Boro will need to play much better on Good Friday and a couple of weeks rest will hopefully help them recharge for the final push.

    BTW Thanks for all the comments on the match preview, much appreciated on what was a very busy day yesterday!

  49. Derby’s postponed game may well work in Boro’s favour. There’s no benefit to the extra rest they’re getting ahead of the international break (followed in any case by a home game against Sunderland which you’d expect them to win) but they will presumably now have an extra midweek game to play and less recovery time.

    1. I can’t see Derby making the play-offs, they’ve only managed 10 points from the last ten games and as well as the rearranged Cardiff game they have to visit Wolves, Villa and Bristol and also play our good selves too. As I said a few weeks ago, Millwall are still the team to watch out for as they’ve been on beyond automatic promotion form of 2.5 point per game for their last dozen games or so. After that it’s probably one from Boro, Sheff Utd and Bristol – Our run-in is also not easy with Wolves, Millwall and Bristol at home and trips to Sheff Utd and Derby in our last 8.

  50. Sent an accusing message about the Rams match being called off and he even replied, ‘and we have players injured!’ accompanied by a George.

    I looked at the highlights for the first time and it was Britt who was fouled – he and Adama must go to the same cleaners. Second time round and it looks even worse!

  51. Redcar Red

    I cant see any club at this level with a 12 noon kickoff driving up from Cardiff to the East Midlands,

    They would need to be at the ground about 10 am, with a three hour journey at least that would mean setting off before 7.00 am. Up at 5.30 am to get to the pick up point..

    I cant see that myself.

    As for 2700 travelling fans I don’t wear that either, their away support suffers from being where they are, we don’t get more than 500 visitors. 2,700 for a mid day kick off on TV doesn’t seem right.

    I trust Putin more than the information from Cardiff about travel. I stand to be corrected

  52. Safely home after a mere two hour delay, and glad to be back despite the bitterly cold weather, the main reason being having a quick reliable broadband after the slow and unreliable system in the Algarve.
    But what do I find? The Boro website states that Villa DREW at Bolton on Saturday. It would seem it is as unreliable as the Algarvean broadband system I encountered.

  53. I’m still hearing comments from some quarters about Boro having dropped two points on Saturday rather than having gained one. The last time I saw the League table it showed that Boro had accumulated (or gained) 62 points this season, not that they had dropped 76 or that Wolves had dropped 56 points. The season started with all teams on zero points, and that’s why wins and draws are added on in the points column. It would certainly be confusing if the league table started by showing all teams with 138 points and so-called ‘dropped’ points were deducted match by match. I know full well what reporters mean about ‘dropped’ points, but pedantry requires me to correct such false statements.

  54. Watching Leicester v Chelsea
    Amazed at the lenient reffing received by Chelsea.
    Two incidents stood out, one was Leicester centre back standing very close to Chelsea player who was receiving ball with his back to goal in middle of pitch nearer centre line than goal. Chelsea player half controlled ball and subsided to ground in slow motion. Booking for Leicester centre back who was behind him.
    Three minutes later repeat of the above, a yellow card for the Leicester player.
    A terrific boost for Chelsea as it was early in the game.
    Second incident, Leicester player got elbow in face, no action.
    Later in match same offender, same elbow in face, same victim, nose bleeding, no action.
    Now that is what you call a friend in need.

    1. Plato

      Unfortunately it’s called “big team bias” and was ever thus.

      Could you imagine the the scenes at the FA if it had turned out to be a Leicester Southampton final. They would have an absolute hissy fit if no “big” club wasn’t involved i keeping their gravy train going.

      I also agree with your suggestion about team fouling/targeting players. If the officials do recognise what’s going on, (doubtful), he should call over the team captain and tell him that as the club representative on the pitch and if it carries on he will book him as well as the next offender. If it still carries on he will get a second yellow and off you go.

      PP in P

      I didn’t think you were annoyed at me. It’s a problem that doesn’t just affect the Boro, but until the powers that be do something about it I’m afraid nothing will change. Which is strange as it affects the best players who usually tend to ply their trade at the top clubs.

      For all his whining on most football related subjects this is one that Arsen Wenger has been right about for years.

  55. I’m with Ken in that before the Kick Off I thought it could be a low scoring draw so despite our comedic defending for the equaliser can’t be too downbeat. Apart from all that we have had a string of decent results down at Griffin Park so it was inevitable that they would get some sort of result against us eventually.

    Just a shame that the Derby efforts in getting a fixture fulfilled was somewhat less than believable to us hardier souls up North. The term “Snowflake” seems to have developed a new meaning in youth culture over the last 18 months or so in a derogatory sense. I suspect that the term may be visited once or twice by opposing fans before the season’s end after yesterdays embarrassment. Warnock doesn’t strike me as someone who will just let it wash over him when the tie is rearranged!

  56. Redcar Red

    I certainly thought it was a good point at Brentford, I had it down as a defeat in the exmil challenge so wont turn my nose up at the draw.

    I am going to stick up a bit for Derby and the Cardiff match. It snowed overnight and the forecast was for more snow, I fully expected to be snowed in . The skies were leaden grey and snow started again first thing in the morning.

    Kick off was at 12 noon on a Sunday so there was little time to clear the area with snow on the way and the decision was taken at 8.30am

    As it turned out conditions were OK but that is some time after a decision had to be made.

    1. Somehow I think that had Cardiff been suffering with suspensions and a long injury list the Snow may not have been quite so severe in Derbyshire. If the EFL buy it then fair play to Derby they pulled off a masterstroke and should have Huddlestone back if they “engineer” the replay date and a fair few of the injuries improved especially after the two week break.

  57. Fourteen days to go before the next match.
    I think I’ll take up macramé, or maybe a clip mat, or maybe a watercolour, perhaps a dying dog, that should get the tear ducts flowing.
    What I am looking forward to is Traores international debut, see how they deploy his speed and his promising strike power?.

  58. Plato

    It will be interesting to see IF they deploy Traore, he doesn’t fit into the Spanish mould of tippy tappy, possession football.

    I wonder if Barca let him go because they didn’t know what to do with him?

    1. Ian
      Whatever we say about tippy tappy football (and I do)
      We always have big trouble against it, and I believe that is because all the great teams, at present, use blinding speed.
      Yes skill, yes passing ability, yes shooting, a lot.
      But watching them all, Man City, Barcelona, Liverpool, I could go on.
      They all play at speed, with certain players very speedy indeed.
      So I believe that Spain are very keen not to miss out on a supreme speedball, and his habit of handling two or three markers with sublime ease will do him no harm.
      It entirely within the bounds of possibility that he could get accelerated promotion within the Spanish game.
      For sure they will not let him play his football miles away from the opposition penalty area, they have water carriers to get the ball up field, and will use them.

  59. Interesting discussion about the persistent fouling of Traore, and leads into one of the main reasons that I cannot get aboard the love-train in relation to FC Barcelona.

    Firstly, they are persistent “team foulers”. I think I read a statistic that in the Champions League (and this is going back a few seasons) they had one of the highest foul counts, but stats showed that most of them occurred in the opposition half and within 20meters of their halfway line, i.e. cynical professional fouls designed to break up a counter attack against them and rarely punished because it was the likes of Iniesta and Xavi committing them, the little bleeders.

    Secondly, their histrionics when fouled. I watched some of the Chelsea/Barca second leg and towards the end of the first half Chelsea clearly had Barca rattled. At one point Giroud planted a perfect strikers elbow right in Pique’s coupon (when challenging for a header and in my view an accident) and after that even minimal contact was met with Barca players throwing themselves to the floor and the imaginary card waiving that Spanish teams are so beholden too.

    I think there is a fine-line between the Barca level of anti-football histrionics and protecting your teammates. In the case of Traore there is a clear intent to injure him in some cases, and I think we should be surrounding the ref and also that Pulis should set the scene with some pre-match discussion about needing strong referees to offer protection to a prodigious talent. However, if I see one of our lot waiving imaginary cards around I will be quite disappointed, as I don’t think there is a place for that in football.

    Alternatively, we restore Grant to the starting 11 and start handing out some retribution Captain-style.

    1. Ever it was thus Smoggy.
      I remember when we were promoted under Jack Charlton. I was so excited at the prospect of seeing the top teams playing at Ayresome. Only ever seen them on match of the day. But now it was going to be top class football live before my eyes. Before half the season was gone my illusions about the Leeds and the Liverpools and the Arsenals and all the rest were shattered. These guys were simply good at cheating and how to be getting away with it. Far more honest endeavour the further down the pyramid you go.

  60. A decent result against Brentford, although a draw is never an exciting result, particularly when you’ve been one up.
    Good goal from Traore and excellent determination from Stewie to get the ball to him.
    A dull couple of weeks to deal with, now where did I leave that airfix kit………

    As for Derby, they did what every other team would have done in their position surely?

      1. Yes you’re right about that OFB – I’ve just finished preparing you next In2views piece for publishing tomorrow (mailed you a draft link), which features a former Boro player who also went on to win PFA player of the year…

  61. Final Thought on Derby.

    I live here and it snowed on and off all Saturday, it snowed and laid overnight, Sunday first thing it looked like we were going to be snowed in.

    It was a 12 noon kick off, how much work over how many hours did it take to get the Riverside ready for the Leeds match?

    If all the snow had fallen on Friday morning with an afternoon of more snow forecast would the match have gone ahead?

    Like at MFC, the club do not make the decision. We can speculate all we like but if my son was coming up from Cardiff to watch the match I would of told him to stay at home.

    It was Derby’s good fortune that it was called off there is absolutely no doubt about that.

    On to serial fouling. When Rafa went to Liverpool and brought in a load of Spanish players we played them on the opening day in a 0-0 draw at the Riverside.

    I watched as we couldn’t get a grip on the game. Then I started noticing something odd. We couldn’t get out of our own half, every time our player made a half break there was a little nudge here, a niggle there and the play was broken up.

    Lots of free kicks, nothing nasty and never the same player, always well away from danger areas.

    I commented on the old blog about it and AV said the Spanish way was often discussed in the press box, Barca were experts at it.

    No one expected the Spanish Interruption.

    1. Just goes to show that the pundits clearly look for something else that they call greatness. Big bugbear for me is the plaudits that Ronaldo (other over-hyped, over-paid and over-egotistic superstars are available) gets. If you are that good, you don’t have to cheat. Clearly he never has been as good as either him or the fauning pundits have thought he is. Ditto for the cynical approach of probably all the top teams of the last 45 years…

  62. I see the EFL have asked for observations from both Derby and Cardiff, also after first stating that the decision to call off the match was made jointly by Derby FC, the Safety Committee and the police but now Derbyshire police have issued a statement saying they were not involved in postponing the match, it was called of by Derby FC.

    Come on BORO.

    1. I noticed that Greg Halford’s sarcastic Tweet and picture of the surroundings at Pride Park was made at 10.12am Sunday morning. The Police statement saying that they were not involved in the postponement is an interesting development. The shops and roads in the Town were all open as normal and didn’t feel the need to tell their staff to remain at home despite opening hours earlier and with the same weather forecast.

      I am sure that those in more rural areas and at higher levels would like as not have suffered far worse snowfall but the Football Ground and its immediate surrounding areas all looked perfectly fine. Just how far out do you go in your catchment area when determining that it is dangerous for fans? Guisborough, Skelton, Loftus and Brotton etc. were certainly affected a lot worse than Central Middlesbrough when we played Leeds which is why many sensibly couldn’t or wouldn’t risk the journey that evening but it wasn’t a consideration in the game going ahead or not.

      The EFL statement on Sunday that the game had been postponed “following discussions between Derby County, Derbyshire Police and the local Safety Advisory Group” now look like they were misinformed or slightly confused. The EFL “observations” will be interesting when revealed.

      1. Redcar Red

        My defence of Derby County is waning somewhat as more comes out about the discussions.

        The bits about the weather early in the morning stand because I live here, I wont tell you the weather in Cardiff or Middlesbrough because I dont live there. Yes the shops were open but that is a couple of hours later.

        Early in the morning I can understand the decision being taken, there would have been hell to pay if the Cardiff fans got caught in snow fall (which was forecast all day in Derby) 2-3 hours later.

        Who took the decision is the interesting part and a totally different kettle of fish.

      2. Ian

        I fully respect your view of the local weather and don’t disagree at all that it was heavy in places but my beef is that Derby FC couldn’t get their staff in safely “allegedly” and that was one of the major reasons for postponement. The game was called off at around 8.00 or 8.30am (depending upon whose version of events) but the shops were open at 10.00am just two hours or less after the postponement due to adverse weather which was two hours or so before the supposed Kick Off.

        How could Sainsbury’s (as one example) function OK with their Staff who I assume live in the same general area as DCFC employees? I’m pretty sure they take the welfare of their employees seriously and didn’t hire an army of snow ploughs and 4X4’s to get them into their store a stones throw away?

        The “excuse” just doesn’t stack up for me. Had Derby town centre been a ghost town and shops closed everywhere with roads through the town impassable and all nearby businesses deserted then fair enough but they all had the same weather report but only one business entity took the now seemingly unilateral action that they did. It stinks to high heaven but the good news is that Tom Huddlestone misses their Sunderland game now instead and by the time Derby play the rearranged Cardiff fixture Warnock’s lads may be already promoted. If the EFL don’t act I hope Karma does.

  63. Around the time Roy Keane and his team mates bullied D’Urso over you-know-what penalty – an incident which I still find absolutely reprehensible – a writer commented on the incident as follows:

    “It might not be pretty, may indeed be reprehensible, but United’s sense of unity is frightening. Those rushing to condemn Keane’s gang-slanging should first ask themselves whether they would like him in their side and then consider what they expect for £52,000 (in 2000 – Si) a week. A headshake and a few Irish curses?

    “If United wanted a player who would react to a dubious decision by standing open-mouthed with his hands on his hips they could have got one much more cheaply, since the league is full of them. What you get for the money with Keane is the single best embodiment of the champion’s mentality that runs through Old Trafford. It has a lot to do with the manager and the huge crowds, but is mostly due to the organic process by which members of a consistently winning team come to believe in each other, refusing to accept weakness in themselves and becoming intolerant of failings in others. This is what top-level professional sport leads to.”

    So the question is: do we just accept utter ruthlessness and disgraceful behaviour as momentary, heat-of-the-moment facets of a manager, players and club driven to reach and remain at the very top because there is no other way of belonging with the biggest boys?

    It’s sad.

  64. Powmill

    What you wrote about C. Ronaldo reminded me of a fan’s quotes on said player.

    “…When you watch Ronaldo (you don’t see self-belief but) a fascinating case of – what seems, to me – insecurity and neediness writ large. The theatricality, the histrionics, the interminably drawn-out free-kick routine, the little foibles, the dancing over the ball in safe areas (usually the prefix to a simple, square pass), the blatant desire and need to be the one who scores the goal, the obsession with and rehearsal of his own ‘stats’.

    “All of that is slightly disturbing, and suggests someone who craves validation. On the field he is engaged in a personal drama with an increasingly plaintive monologue. He’s effectively saying ‘Look at me, I’m great. Am I great? Please, please, please… tell me I’m a great’. He’s the best header of the ball since Pele – his bravery and determination in the air is quite out of step with the modern trend. However, he’s not the ‘greatest’ (at) anything, and that won’t change.”

    I’ve kept this quote and labelled it The Ronaldo Complex – something that more than a handful of celebrity players and managers seem to suffer from these days.

  65. Simon

    I’m not advocating the disgraceful bully boy tactics employed by Keane and his gang of lap dog minions as displayed against Boro at Old Trafford. That was so over the top it was embarrassing. Not quite as embarrassing as Durso back peddling at a rate of knots mind. If he’d stood his ground and given the United bullys the choice to stop or run over him, then dish out the red cards who knows what might have happened.

    Certainly one or two asking questions and giving him a reminder of what’s happening is what we should be doing with the captain at the front every time.

    It was a garbage penalty anyway.


    Couldn’t agree more about imaginary card waving. Usually carried out by sneaky cowards who haven’t got a decent tackle in them. If a Boro player did it I would be disgusted.

    1. I can tell you if Dursi had stood his ground and started waving red cards around them men Ferguson would have made sure that it would have been his final Premiership game. All the referees knew that.

      I’ll get Jeff Winter to do us an In2View and get his comments

      A good friend of mine and he had a few run ins with Fergie amd Keane


  66. The hypocrisy of Roy Keane calling Jack Charlton a bully for quite rightly telling him off – and Eamon Dunphy fighting Keane’s corner (“He’s a gentleman. A class act, a rebel, and he stands up to bullies”) for such acts still lingers.

    On the other hand, I guess that when you’re ranting and desperate to defend someone who is a hero in your eyes, or, in Keane’s case, eager to make the point to the manager that “you’re not going to get your own way with me” you will say things you should not be proud of.

    What does Dr. Roy have to say for himself?

    “There are parts of the game we don’t like – diving, cheating, the bad tackles. They’re part of the game. People want to avoid them, to pretend they’re not there. But there are players playing today who are after other players. Seamus McDonagh, the goalkeeping coach, has a great saying, advice that he gives to goalkeepers: ‘When you’re coming for crosses, come with violence.’ Nobody says it publicly. It’s not tiddlywinks we’re playing.”

    Make what you will of that.

    1. As well as being a ref I actually took a few coaching badges under Dave Richardson who was then at Longlands College and the Aston Villa youth coach and then the F.A. head of youth development. The purpose was that never having played at a high level I wanted to learn about football, the sly fouls, trips, over the ball challenges and the dark side of football so that I could recognise it when I was in the middle.

      I acted as an assistant coach for a junior team at a high level and used to work with the goalkeepers.

      We taught keepers to look after themselves. When corners came to them and they went for the ball then knees should be up ready and fists tightly coiled ready for action !

      I’ll just ask you this. When was the last time you saw a foul given against a keeper for going for a ball at a corner?


  67. OFB, it’s a sad reflection of the game when you hear that not only can the officials be bullied in to submission on the field, but also hearing that if they do take the corrective action required on the field, they’ll be bullied and castigated off it. Hardly a fair situation to be placed in knowing that one of the biggest bullies ever to be involved in the game (I can hardly use the term “graced the game”, because he definitely didn’t) is watching your every move from the sideline, and one wrong move, in his eyes any way, and you’re toast. Isn’t that akin to match fixing?

    I’ve never liked the person and my opinion will never be changed in that respect, which is the only respect I’ll ever offer in his direction. It seems a shame when a knighthood is bestowed upon such a nasty piece of work when, a true gentleman of the game, who won more European Cups in six years than ‘Sralex’ won in twenty five, went without. Arise Sir Robert Paisley.

    1. Bob Paisley was a lovely fellow and won a lot more than Bill Shankly did when he was reluctantly pushed into the managers hot seat.

      He may have been nice because he was a fellow Geordie ?
      (tongue firmly in cheek as he awaits the incoming !!’)


  68. Si. I’m not denying that the modern professional game’s leading exponents are in that position because of and not despite of their “professionalism”.
    What I am saying is that implicit affirmation of dodgy activity on the field of play is everywhere. Should Gary Lineksr and his ilk raise the awareness of how often top teams and top professionals do bully, cajole and effectively cheat their way to the top, then the chances of the games officials being able to do something about it will increase many-fold.
    There is a huge difference in playing a physical, tough game fairly and in playing a callous, calculating game in a tough and physical way.
    Sadly, there is just no interest in wanting to change that.

    1. Ah well Gary Lineker was one of the sly ones wasn’t he? No red or yellow cards
      For him.
      Plenty of digs and stepping into the man and things difficult to see.

      Let’s be honest though football is a contact sport.


      1. Agreed OFB, it certainly is a contact sport. All the same, as I said, there is a huge difference between physicality and toughness used fairly and the same used callously, with intent.

        Honest attempts to control the unsportmanslike behaviour of teams and individuals may never be 100% successful, but the worst excesses could be and the end result would be fairer and more genuine competition. The will to change has to be there, but as both FAA and Steely point out below, who is going to bite the hand that feeds?

        Maybe I should support Corinthians !

  69. I know a lot of Boro fans are kicking their heels this weekend with no Championship (or Premier League football for that matter) to watch either live or on TV. Most of us hate this regular interruption of ‘proper’ football for International football, even more so meaningless friendly Internationals especially at the sharp end of the season. Thank goodness we’ll have OFBs interviews to relieve the boredom this week!

    However, there is some live ‘football’ of the oval shaped variety this weekend. I know many ‘soccer’ fans also follow International Rugby Union, but the Six Nations has been a disaster from England’s perspective; I can’t recall when England last finished second from bottom in the table. So why not watch the ‘Summer’ sport of Rugby League (I say this with tongue in cheek).

    If one thinks that the sharp end of the Football season has been disrupted by International matches, the start of the Rugby League season has been disrupted by a weekend set aside for a World Club series which involved only one English club instead of the proposed three English clubs, followed by the icy weather causing many postponements. A glance at the Super League Table shows that 7 clubs have played 6 matches, yet Warrington have played 7 matches but Castleford only 4. In fact Cas have more or less been playing only once a fortnight.

    When I flew into Leeds/Bradford airport on Sunday the hoardings were making great play over this Friday’s match at Elland Road (not Headingley) where it is anticipated that a record attendance for a Super League match might occur. Leeds ended St. Helens unbeaten record last weekend and Cas were humiliated by the Saints 46-6 in Round one, so one might expect a home win. Nevertheless Cas had won 8 successive matches against the Rhinos until losing the one that really mattered – the Grand Final last season. Boro’s matches against Leeds are not local derbies, but Cas against Leeds certainly are as though many Cas supporters are also Leeds United fans, they don’t like Leeds Rhinos.

    So if the Holland v England football match doesn’t whet your appetite on Friday, why not watch Rhinos v Tigers instead. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

  70. Powmill

    Linaker and his ilk would never dream of speaking out against clubs that have won trophies by in effect cheating. They would soon find themselves out of their well paid license fee paying funded jobs.

    A club is a reflection of the man in charge, the manager, and if that man is a win at all costs, foul mouthed cheat who instills the fear of losing your job into officials then why isn’t this highlighted by those “expert” pundits who are in a position to do so. Self preservation and not rocking the boat is the order of the day as far as I’m concerned.

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