Doug’s Diaries: Colin Todd

Following on from our In2views article with award winning columnist, broadcaster and journalist Doug Weatherall, Original Fat Bob has once again met up with him, as Doug recalls his days involved with football and sportsmen at the highest level. We delve into his diaries to reveal never previously told facts and intimate stories, which helps to bring back to life, what it was like to meet the footballing heroes and be part of the footballing community. Doug was lucky enough to be able to share moments in those great and heady days, or commiserate at the dark times that often everyone in the football world endures. This Diary posted on our blog, is a view on the life and career of Colin Todd.

Colin Todd - Crop After being assistant to Bruce Rioch, Colin Todd became Boro manager in 1990 and took the club to the play-offs the following season before quitting

Colin Todd was born in December 1948 and became a tremendous player for England, Sunderland and Derby County. Most notably for the Boro fans, he was also once their Football Manager and Coach. He was memorably Bruce Rioch’s, right hand man during the dark days of the Boro liquidation, before taking up the reins himself in March 1990 with Middlesbrough, succeeding Bruce who had been sacked. He had coached the club from the Third Division to First Division in successive seasons, but Middlesbrough were struggling in the Second Division and we were facing the real threat of moving from the Third to First Division and back again in successive seasons. Todd kept the club in the Second Division and they qualified for the play-offs a year later, although they were denied the chance of promotion after losing to eventual winners Notts County in the semi-finals and Todd quit soon afterwards. He was most recently the manager of Esbjerg fB.

Todd had opportunities to sign for Newcastle United and the Boro, but, chose Sunderland “because of their tradition for youth”. He played a major part in the Sunderland youth team’s 1967 victory in the FA Youth Cup, led by their coach Brian Clough. By then, Todd was already a first-team regular. He made his debut as substitute for Charlie Hurley in a 1–1 draw away against Chelsea in the First Division on 10 September 1966 and by mid-season had established himself in the starting eleven. He missed only three league games in the next three seasons, at the end of which Sunderland were relegated from the top flight. After 191 appearances and three goals in all competitions for Sunderland, Todd re-joined Clough at Derby County in February 1971.

On joining Derby, he had cost them a British record transfer fee for a defender of £175,000. When linked with Derby, Brian Clough famously remarked “We’re not signing Colin Todd, we can’t afford him”, he then signed him that same day. Clough sent the chairman Sam Longson a telegram informing him of the signing and the size of the fee: £175,000. He formed a formidable partnership with Roy McFarland at club and country level. Under Clough, he helped Derby win the First Division title in his first full season at the Baseball Ground and collected a second title winner’s medal under Clough’s successor Dave Mackay in 1975.

As a player, he made more than 600 appearances in the Football League, also playing for; Everton, Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest, Oxford United and Luton Town. He ended his footballing playing career when he played in the North American Soccer League for the Vancouver Whitecaps. He won two Football League titles with Derby County during the 1970s and won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award in 1975. He was capped by England on 27 occasions.

He has managed other English league clubs including; Bolton Wanderers, first, as the assistant to Bruce Rioch, then moving up to manager, when Rioch left to manage Arsenal, having achieved promotion in the 1994–95 season,

Todd was also caricatured in the 2009 movie about Brian Clough’s days at Leeds; “The Damned United.”

Diary Extracts:

OFB: When did you first hear of Colin Todd, was it when he was playing for the junior team at Sunderland?

DW: No. It was when he played for Chester-le-Street and District Boys in the 1963-64 season. In relative terms, they were a tiny association with few schools from whom to choose players. But, remarkably, they reached the final of the English Schools Trophy, even though in every previous round they were drawn away from home.

Nine of the regular members of the Chester team were from one school, Washington Grammar. The most notable being their skipper, inside-forward Colin Suggett, who was also to have an outstanding professional career with Sunderland, West Brom, Norwich and Newcastle.

His fellow Colin (Todd) attended Chester-le-Street Modern School, but, in terms of football scholarship, he was to be in the highest university class.

My first viewing of his Trophy team was in the second leg of the ’64 final. Their opponents were Saltley and Erdington Boys from Birmingham. The first leg was at Villa Park and although Chester had led, they had to settle for a 1-1 draw. Durham County Schools’ FA centenary celebration book claims the Saltley equaliser followed a corner, which should have been a goal kick. Again, unluckily for Chester, Captain Suggett, so often a major

influence, was dazed early in the second leg at Roker Park and his side suffered. Saltley won the game 2-1.

OFB: Was Colin Todd instantly recognizable as a footballer who was destined for greatness?

DW: I didn’t have to be clever to spot that Toddy was good. I have always admired players who could tackle properly, in other words without fouling. Colin always had that great ability, even though in his early school days when playing with older lads, he featured as a scoring centre-forward.

OFB: Do you think he tried to emulate his style of play on any individual player who played in his position?

DW: I don’t know, but many so-called ball winners in today’s football should study any available film of his play. He didn’t have to foul. His pace was crucial in his timing of a clean tackle.

Colin Todd - Sunderland 3 - crop Colin Todd made his first team debut for Sunderland in September 1966 at the age of just 17 and soon became established in the starting XI

OFB: When did you first get to know him personally?

DW: Around the time he was getting into Sunderland’s senior side. He’d already shown his quality with Sunderland’s under-18 team. As a kid he played in the first Sunderland side to reach the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup. Remember Brian Clough, his playing career tragically ended, coached that team and when I asked him who was his top player? he said:” Number 4”.

Soon after Colin got into Sunderland’s first team it was the great Scottish international wing-half, Jim Baxter, who told me: “You should write about young Toddy, he wins the ball and gives it to me.” (You’ll gather Slim Jim wasn’t the greatest tackler himself!)

Naturally, I was only too pleased, often to praise in print Colin’s ability.

OFB: Did you have long chats with him about his football?

DW: Not until much later. He wasn’t one to fuss. His quality football spoke volumes, anyway. But, funnily enough, I’ve particularly enjoyed chatting with him in recent years. We sometimes bump into one another while watching Durham play cricket at Chester-le-Street. As you can guess, Mr. Clough is invariably mentioned, honourably…

OFB: What do you think was his most memorable game, his own individual performance as a player?

DW: His so consistent performances were of such a high standard, his aforementioned ball-winning, he was so reliable that my great memories of his play just merge.

Cough and Todd - crop A 22-year old Colin Todd signed for Brian Clough at Derby in 1971 for a then record fee of £175,000 and won the title in his first season

OFB: What was your best, personal and most enjoyable experience watching him as a player?

DW: Seeing him help my great friend, Brian Clough, win the League Championship for the first time in Derby’s history.

OFB: What was his worst game in your experience?

DW: I’m not saying it was a poor performance from him, but it was strange to see him for once outpaced. That was in a Derby v. Newcastle match. Magpies’ inside-forward Tony Green was the man Colin couldn’t catch. Tony made only too few appearances for the Geordies before injury ended his career, but many opposing defenders knew how his pace could leave them trailing.

OFB: Were you upset when he left Sunderland to go to Derby?

DW: I’ve never enjoyed “my” North-East clubs selling good players. We should be proud enough and ambitious enough to keep our best. But since Brian Clough was such a good mate and had so much ability, I knew Colin was in the best of hands.

OFB: Did you know that he was going, and did you get a scoop due to your relationship with Brian Clough?

DW: Not exclusive, but I knew what was happening. Whilst Sunderland thought they were doing great business in taking a record fee for a defender, they didn’t realise Brian would have paid even more for the young man who would eventually replace the more senior central defender Dave Mackay at the Baseball Ground.

OFB: Who was in your opinion the manager that had the greatest influence on his career and why?

DW: No doubt about that. Brian Howard Clough, of course.

OFB: Which opposing team and which players did he like playing against?

DW: People may be surprised to hear that he liked playing against two Liverpool stars, Kevin Keegan and Kenny Dalglish “I generally came out on top against them,” he said. As Colin explained,” Kenny was good at getting behind his marker”, but Colin’s pace meant he came out on top.

OFB: Do you know who was his favourite player of all time and why?

DW: George Best for Manchester United. Colin rates him the most highly gifted player. But, he recalls the Don Revie team at Leeds as very talented. He could never forget a remarkable FA Cup-tie with Leeds while he played for Sunderland. It went to two replays with the second at Hull. Controversially, it was decided by a penalty, the referee being near the half-way line when it was awarded. For their protests George Herd and George Mulhall were sent off.

OFB: Do you know who his other favourite players were?

DW: As a lad who supported Newcastle, he loved going to St. James’ when Len White and Ivor Allchurch played for the Magpies. He thought they were terrifically exciting. And he loved playing with Charlie Hurley when he was with Sunderland. Charlie, said of Colin, “he had two great feet.”

Coin Todd - PFA. - crop Following another league title in 1975, Todd won the PFA Footballer of the Year trophy, which was presented by then prime minister Harold Wilson

OFB: Of what, in his career, was Colin most proud?

DW: When his fellow professionals voted him their PFA Player of the Year for his outstanding performances in the 1974-75 season. As someone who’d known him from his school days you can guess how chuffed I was!

OFB: Did you ever see Colin play for England, live at Wembley?

DW: I didn’t but I watched England on TV and still do, even though I wish they would speed up their approach play.

OFB: When he started coaching were you in contact with him then?

DW: For day-to-day info, I was mainly in contact with the managers of the clubs not the coaches.

OFB: Can you tell us of his disciplinarian methods, when he became a coach and manager, was he respected?

DW: As far as I know, he’d try to be as firm and fair as was Brian Clough, who had heeded how manager Alan Brown practised discipline at Sunderland.

OFB: Were you in contact with him during the liquidation crisis at the Boro?

DW: I dealt mainly with Bruce Rioch during those sad days.

OFB: Were you surprised that Colin and Bruce stayed at the club, even though they weren’t getting paid?

DW: Not really, both had plenty of backbone and belief in their judgement.

OFB: It was a remarkable chapter in the history of MFC did you cover the news on it at that time and if so, are there any stories from behind the scenes?

DW: Yes, it was quite a story. I dealt mainly with Bruce with whom I’d developed a good working relationship. His father had been a military man and, as a former National Service sergeant myself, I could see that Bruce believed that with good judgement the club would eventually emerge from dark days.

OFB: What do you remember about Colin the most?

DW: That pace; that fair tackling. Brian Clough’s most common call to his teams was “Get it!” – where “It” was the ball. You can’t do much without it…

OFB: A huge thank you Doug, for taking the time to open up your Diary again, revealing this latest chapter to Diasboro and our readers.

414 thoughts on “Doug’s Diaries: Colin Todd

  1. Great article OFB. Thanks to you and DW for the insight into a great player who I watched on a few occasions from the Roker End, but don’t tell the Diasboro….. whoops too late!

  2. Toddy was the epitome of how speed or quickness can make the difference, although not the tallest of playeres he could play centre back or sweeper ,because his ability to read and react with speed put him in the best position.
    Everyone is in fits over Traore speed,isthat because in today’s game it’s rare , because top teams play on a snooker table these days, the emphasis is on passing to feet at pace along the floor, many of the players today making thousands of pounds a week,would have struggled on the old pitches , their lack of pace and movement would have been found out.
    The successfull teams today though still have some of that quality inn midfielders, Hazard,Willian, Sanchez,Marhez, some others as you know,
    This what Boro are missing speed through the middle in transition.
    Go find them I’m sure they are out there.

    1. GT
      Just a query about the ” playing balls to feet”
      My pleasure in watching Man City is chiefly in their delight in playing very fast balls forward for their runners ( passing between the lines) chiefly through the great De Bruin. I do not think that their runners stop for an instant to collect the ball, it is seamless, they run and the ball appears in front of them rolling at an appropriate pace and going in the direction of the opposition area, as we might imagine it is devastating, as shown by the results over the season.
      With an open goal in the shape of Traore, available on what, to the giants is a free transfer, there will be a mighty scramble in the near future.
      P S with a bit of luck the buyer might con us into taking three battered veterans of their hands ( and their wages bill) this effectively getting him for nothing and reducing their wages bill at the same time.
      And that, I am afraid, is why they are successful, and we, are not.

      1. Plato I’m really talking about the players who have nothing else to their skill set,
        Who basically take up space and 90% of the time just pass it to the nearest teammate ,on breaking from defence slow it down because they can’t go past opposition players , really many are playing in a division above their worth.
        It’s not their fault good luck to them, but the club will hardly progress with those types.

  3. OFB

    Thanks for another top read.

    The one match I really remember Toddy for was when he played for Blunderland against Boro.

    Just to show poor administration doesn’t start and end at Boro. Decker Downing got my brother and I tickets for the match. Got to our seats to find the Mackems had sold tickets for season ticket holders places. The stand was full of Boro and Sunderland fans sitting where they could.

    It was a brilliant match, we were tremendous and the only thing that stopped us scoring a bucket load was Todd. The match ended 2-2, the next day Downing just shook his head in amazement.

  4. Great read OFB. Mostly remember Colin playing for Derby. Was he playing when we won at the Baseball ground under Big Jack? Also both the Gazette and Echo reporting the McNair deal is off. Apparently they are still shopping him around having agreed a price with us.

  5. Did you see poor Javier Mascherano’s face when the final whistle went tonight, and he realised Argentina may struggle to get out of the group?

    I felt absolutely gutted for him…….

  6. OFB, great read as ever. I think Colin will always be remembered warmly by Boro fans because of 1986. Not as a Sunderland player.

    About 0-0 results. Did a single match end goalless under the guidance of Tony Pulis at Boro?

    Suprisingly, there has not been a single 0-0 match in the World Cup yet. Long may it continue. Perhaps because Italy is not there? Anyway, up yle Boro!

  7. Great recollections from Doug. I envy his having been in such a profession as a football reporter and also getting those little titbits from the dressing room of a club he supported. Mind Bob, you also have a fair insight into what happens at the Boro – almost makes the Gazette (sorry, Teesside Live) expendable. However, for me it’s the memories, the nostalgia that Doug has that appeals to me.

    It probably might not mean too much to today’s football fans, but I was always fascinated how Burnley went on to win the First Division in 1959/60 having recruited so many players from the North East (County Durham in particular) whilst Sunderland, previously known as the ‘Bank of England’ club didn’t compete really so well despite, as the late Arthur Appleton used to recall, the North East being the ‘Hotbed of Soccer’. Would be fascinated to hear Doug’s views on that subject.

  8. Braithwaite was a playing substitute in the Denmark Australia game yesterday, he didn’t do anything out of the ordinary to think we should keep him for next season. My humble opinion for what it’s worth:)

    1. For me Braithwaite definitely has skill and talent going forward but he also has the awareness and reaction time of a sloth. My memories of him are frequently found dithering or worse passing to the opponents in dangerous areas especially just after the half time restart (it probably only happened once or twice but indicative of a player who wasn’t up to the mental speed required at this level). That may have been because of the way the side was set up in fairness or the seeming lack of an organised set up under Monk but liability comes to mind.

  9. Wether it’s McNair’s agent or SFC that is touting him about other clubs, it’s good to see MFC will not be held to ransom or sitting on the sidelines as “the last option”.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Emil
      I am inclined to think that we are treated as second class serfs by most clubs when it comes to transfers. If buying they tell the press what they are going to pay without regard to us. If selling they use us as a lever to up the price they will get from their preferred buyer.
      Sorry to say this, it the only relief for us supporters was our old friend AK.
      We read in the paper that we had signed an other. And when we sold we heard the same. Strangely, we made a profit each time.

  10. Just tried reading AV’s article in the Evening, Morning, Afternoon, Chronicle, Mirror, Gazette, Live, Trinity Teesside site. Out of curiosity and mainly because of my interest and respect for AV’s articles I desisted from closing the page and waited for it to fully load for a change. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a video half way down the page of Sam Allardyce as Everton Manager complaining about the Transfer Window (in January I presume).

    For those that are wondering the actual original article from AV was on the McNair saga and the “he said, they said” palava between the Clubs new owner’s recent podcast and McNair’s agent. Clearly the Allardyce video was just any old tosh Trinity Mirror could bung the page up with. Still I suppose it was marginally better than watching the Gazette Journo’s doing their best uncomfortable Mel Smith and Griff Rhys-Jones impersonations on all things Boro.

  11. Jarkko

    We drew 0-0 with Villa in the second leg of the play offs.


    I used to get a lot of football programmes from Pat Partridge, one was from a Burnley vs Newcastle match where there were ten Geordies in the Burnley side. Needless to say that was a lot more than those playing for Toon, two if my memory serves me right.

    1. I’d forgotten about (or tried to about that Villa match). In other developments I see that on that trusted reliable source (tongue firmly in cheek) HITC that Everton apparently want Gibson and are prepared to sweeten the deal with Besic who after his impressive loan spell with us is now worth £12m apparently!

      Thinking back to those Villa games and talk of £12m for him is frankly laughable. The Toffees paid £4m for him from Ferencvaros in 2014 and he has done nothing of note since. He took a while to get fit and find his feet and done really well for us towards the back end of the season even earning MOM awards from myself and others. For £12m I would want a player who turns up in the big games and bosses the middle of the park. I would have him back but not at anything close to that price plus I’m guessing he is on Premiership wages.

      There are plenty of equally competent Midfielders at this level for half that figure which is where I’d value Besic.

      1. RR
        A perfect example of what i mean re. Transfers.
        They are trying to swap a mr. average ( at best) for a tried and tested defender at the right age.
        Disregard them in all further dealings, and increase Gibbo’s price you know it makes sense.

      2. Spot on RR. For me it has to be the wages first, second and third. If we sign them as of now in the Championship, then they are on Championship wages, whether we believe them to be too high and the acceptable level these days.

        Besic as you say will be on EPL wages, even if they are loaded with bonus payments. I just do not see how we can realistically even think of signing him even at the original fee. Also remember he did not turn up for the Villa games.

        Saying all of that, how much would you have to pay for a “Tom Cairney”. A Ramirez type Championship player is at a premium and with wages to match.
        Difficult, very difficult. I guess that is why they were interested in McNair. A gamble but relatively cheap in the scheme of things.

    1. Ian
      Do you know that? If so it is good news.
      Our track record in transfers is not good. At the moment we are selling two players worth a minimum of 40-50 million. And are being told that we will not be getting that even though we own them.
      Strange, that.

    2. Ian

      More likely it will be one of those “undisclosed” deals that has us all assuming and guessing. You know the type where we give them Ben plus £2m for Besic and when Everton sell Ben to Real 18 months later for £100m we find out we had no sell on clause either!

      Meanwhile Mo Besic plays a blinder for us all season as we miss out on promotion again via the play offs only to discover that his agent had insisted on a 50p release clause in his contract. It just wouldn’t be Boro otherwise.

  12. For those of us living abroad, the response so far from MFC regarding live streaming of games is as follows:

    “We are assessing and evaluating options for live streaming with no final decision having been made as of yet.

    Whatever the outcome, let’s hope we have a great, exciting and successful season!”

    I am not holding my breath!

  13. I’m not in favour of signing players from relegated teams , I think you are bringing in damaged goods ,
    So the McNair saga should be put to bed and move on, there are better options,
    I hope we don’t go for older players with history of injuries, that’s just being lazy, we have Howson,Leadbitter, Downing who have experience when needed, we need young ambitious ,talented players with speed, the type who aren’t bogged down with issues, and have a little arrogance about them , do we have them at academy level,maybe?

  14. I see Bristol City have launched their new kit. Interesting that their fans are claiming that it looks like a Boro kit, yep Boro, not Nottingham Forest, Liverpool, Barnsley, Charlton or even Man Utd but that scruffy Northern side Middlesbrough FC!

    Hope our Marketing department are picking up on it and realising the value and strength of brand identity. Having said that I think it will have probably sailed way over their heads.

  15. Just looking at our midweek fixtures and it appears that our games apart from the Blades in August are on a Wednesday rather than a Tuesday night. Is this just an EFL default and will be altered to a Tuesday or is there a reason behind it that I’ve missed somewhere? Likewise the League Cup game against County seems to be on a Monday night?

  16. MFC will refuse the £8m plus for Besic for Gibbo and negotiate a straight swap there bye losing £8m.

    What is more they will have a negative sell on clause so that the more that Gibbo is sold for the less we will get. We will also negotiate a hard bargain where for every England cap we have to pay an extra £0.5m.

    On to the World Cup. VAR is proving useless. There have been so many unpunished wrestling matches in the area it is more like watching the All Blacks.

  17. Ian
    You’re not casting aspersions on our beloved Recruitment team are you?
    I think all on here are aware of my views on VAR, even before the World Cup and incidents like those you refer to just reinforce my belief that it is, as you state, useless.
    Goal Line Technology ok but, please, no more VAR.

  18. I’m not that negative towards VAR particularly after watching the Brazil game when it was used to stop Neymar getting a totally undeserved penalty that had already been given by the referee. It’s not perfect but getting some decisions like that correct has to be an improvement. To be honest, I don’t think that Neymar can walk ten yards without falling over and looking for someone to blame. What I don’t understand is why he wasn’t booked for simulation.

    I see that Boro are heading off for the Pulis Sound of Music training camp in the Austrian mountains. Hard to believe that it’s only six weeks to the start of the season. I’m still waiting for the transfer activity to get moving. One would have thought that Pulis would want a settled squad as soon as possible.

    Down here in Oz, it’s the middle of winter with league, Union and Aussie Rules (AFL) in full swing. I don’t know how many of you have watched any AFL but it’s a pretty amazing game. The free flow of football with plenty of physical confrontation. Well worth a look. Other than that, everyone’s watching the one day cricket with a kind of awed disbelief.


  19. Another great read Bob.

    My only memories of Colin Todd are of his association with Bolton, his 100 goals and almost 100 points winning promotion season which saw his team finish eighteen points (I think) ahead of nearest rivals Barnsley, who then fielded Johnny Hendrie and Wilko up front.

    The Tykes sealed their promotion the weekend we beat Villa, Ravanelli digging us out of a hole after we threw away a two goal lead. Intriguingly Ugo (RIP) scored Villa’s first goal and the other half of the Villa defence was – you guessed it – a future Boro legend and England manager.

    That one week in 1997 saw Boro Past going up, Boro Present going down, and Boro Future playing their part in every dramatic way you could imagine (see also: the run around we gave the Pally-led United defence in the rain, and – sob – Brian Deane).

    You couldn’t make it up.

  20. My extract of the evening is an interesting one. Something that made me more than a little sad about how times have changed.

    “Jack (Charlton) liked having us (the Irish national team – Si) out in the country, and felt that the interaction between the Irish squad and the ordinary supporters was an integral part of the overall success of the team.

    “Of course, we hadn’t won anything. But we were putting Irish football on the map.

    “In addition… Big Jack liked people, and they absolutely adored him.

    “Schoolkids would come down after class and watch us go through our paces.

    “…It was a special time, and afterwards, for around an hour, we would hang back and sign autographs. Regrettably, so much has changed in the modern game with “security” being the watchword now, and thus that side of mixing with the fans has been neutered.

    “Understandable, perhaps, what with the age of mobile phones and Snapchat, Instagram and so on that allow images to go viral in seconds. But, nonetheless, I do feel the game is all the poorer for it.”

    — Packie Bonner

    Some, perhaps even a lot of, things in football go beyond what happens on the pitch itself.

  21. OFB,

    I finally got round to reading your interview, excellent. Doug seems to be a mine of information on a huge slice of Boro history and personalities and their careers in general. A ‘mother lode’ you could say. Great work and keep it up. Perhaps you should do Doug and Ken ‘Boro Brains Trust”.



  22. Jack Wilshire is leaving Arsenal after many years. West Ham are looking to sign him and guess what? According to Sky he supported West Ham as a kid. This an oft repeated story when players join big clubs.

    I am not doubting Jack because he comes from Stevenage and will have supported a London club as a lad but it always amuses me when sundry players avow past support.

    Of course in some cases it may be true. We all have preferred teams in a league and in such a prominent competition in the Premiership, footballers will be no different.

    1. Ian
      There are now about eight clubs which can be described as London clubs. That is some power block, and is already leading to some clever moves which are doing no favours to those in the championship trying to move up.
      Fulham, joined the feeding frenzy thanks to eight loanees, mainly from London clubs, and as the word loanee can cover a multitude of sins ( generally spelt worthless) I think we can take it that their collection were of a standard which they could certainly not afford.
      So mr Wilshire will not be looking for a club outside London, and the takeover of football goes on.

  23. I don’t understand the negativity towards VAR. So far it has gotten all the big decisions correct with the awarding of penalties and in one case the reversal of a penalty decision.

    It’s not there to referee the whole 90 minutes, just to ensure the big decisions are correct. So far I’m really enjoying the World Cup. Particularly the pace of the games.

  24. Whilst watching Belgium Tunisia I was again impressed with Sunlun’s Khazri. Considering he was up against some of the worlds best players he did really well. Towards the end of the game Phil Neville absolutely slaughtered him and he then promptly popped up and scored!

    Just reinforced my view that Phil Neville is fortunate to be the manager of the England Ladies team, and unfortunate for them that they will win bugger all under his tenure. Every time he opened his mouth he just underlined his limited and archaic views on the game. Surely there has to be a better candidate for the job, and why isn’t it a woman?

  25. GHW
    I think we’ve been misled by the media then, as they’ve suggested that VAR was supposed to draw the referee’s attention to incidents like the Harry Kane (and others) Rugby tackles. Clearly not the case.
    I agree with your comments re Phil Neville. There must be some retired Women Footballers who are equally, or better, qualified to manage the Ladies team.

  26. GHW

    We are told that the officials are checking incidents. The double rugby tackle in space on Mitrovic in the area was glaringly obvious to anyone looking at a TV.

    The on field officials may have had their views blocked so it was up to the VAR.

    Those sort of things plus the rugby tackles on Kane are just the sort of thing that needs clearing out of the game.

    The VAR officials chickened out.

    There was an incident this morning in the New Zealand France test where the ref blocked the challenge of a defender and the All Black used him as a screen to run in a try, He should and did blow up, I believe it should have been replay the scrum. He looked at it again and still awarded the try, The New Zealand sumarisers said it was a poor decision and they would have been lived if it had gone the other way.

    It is the human element.

    The decisions were poor in both cases, the rugby one was worse because the officials did everything right but the end decision.

  27. Another observation for me in the World Cup is the refereeing.

    The Premier League May not be the best in the world, as we are so often told, but it’s certainly the richest. The various TV deals mean that it is awash with money.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there are no British referees officiating, the games seem to be fast flowing and free from the fussy, petty and pernicious style that dogs our game.

    Perhaps some of that money could be used to poach some oversea referees into our leagues. Referees are paid professionals, therefore there’s no reason they couldn’t be attracted by higher wages much the same way overseas players are.

  28. GHW

    One of the reasons there are no ‘English’ referees is nothing to do with our league. A gap has been created in the premier league group because Mark Clattenburg was our top referee who left to go abroad.

    He was in the Elite group for FIFA which is selected some time in advance so there was no chance for another official to join that group.

    Please no smart arse comments form anyone about the standards, as RAFA would say those are the facts as I know them. It is a timing issue. As usual I bow down to any other knowledge.

  29. It’s been known for quite sometime now that Britain wouldn’t have referee representation in Russia.

    The point I was trying to make was the style in which the games have been refereed compared to the officiating we see week in week out in the PL and EFL. I know which I prefer.

  30. Interesting to see that Forest seem to be going down the same path so successfully laid by Wolves. Iberian manager,record fee for Portuguese player (£13M, where did that come from?) followed by loans of fellow countrymen. It will be interesting to to see how this unfolds as the season progresses.

  31. Just catching up on the football and notice that Tony Pulis is taking our lads on an endurance test to Austria. Tough old 60 year old cookie is our Tony (hang on, did I say old at 60? Sorry about that). Anyway if he can bike ride all that way in France, row the Channel, and finish with a marathon or whatever, he’s not asking his charges to do anything he couldn’t do. I mean to say, reveille at 5.30 in the middle of the summer, it’s not like the depths of winter, is it? I know we ex ‘pansy’ RAF brylcream boys didn’t have it as tough as some of my mates doing their National Service in the Army, but I was the fittest I’ve ever been in my life. I was rubbish at football and rugby before I started my assault course experiences, but afterwards I have to say I was STILL rubbish at football and rugby afterwards!

  32. A further thought to throw into the VAR debate.

    This WC has seen a very high percentage of goals scored from free kicks and corners. It also seems to me that there s much less holding and general wrestling than one normally sees. Have the defenders worked out that they would be taking a serious risk of giving a way a penalty though VAR and so are leaving forwards with a bit more room to make something happen.

    This certainly seems to me to be a possibility but nobody is mentioning it as a possible positive aspect of VAR.


  33. My view on VAR is the same as Committees, they best consist of three people two of whom are absent. Its creating frustration by picking upon some things but missing the flipping obvious due to the “terms and conditions” under which it operates. You either have it for everything or nothing.

    To me one experienced retired Ref watching the game from the stands with a microphone and an earpiece to the Referee on the pitch is all thats required. It retains the valuable experience of those who are no longer able to run around for 90 minutes and helps support and develop the Refs on the pitch by having someone they trust watch their back.

    Why does something so basic have to be made so complicated.

  34. 5-0 to England and Panama are an ill disciplined rabble.

    Good to see wrestling in the box punished.

    I cannot see them finishing with eleven men.

  35. Yep, Ian, rabble they are.
    Nice to see us taking real advantage of such a poor team, as opposed to our usual mode of making heavy weather of it.

  36. It’s 6-1 as I write, and I agree it’s good to see that penalty for wrestling in the box! I’d like to see VAR used for simulation too. That would really help clean up the game.

  37. Belated thanks to OFB for his “Doug’s Diaries article on Colin Todd, a brilliant defender.

    Nice to see England take advantage of a poor side with some nicely worked goals.

    However not sure what Ashley Young brings either for Man U or England. Sterling unfortunately flatters to deceive and if we are to sell Ben, then we want 20+. Compared to Harry Maguire he is a far better defender and as many on here have pointed out, left footed. A premium price to be paid.

  38. One of the features of Werdermouth’s previews of Boro’s matches is inviting bloggers to estimate what the crowd might be. Sometimes in the past crowd figures produced after a match were merely estimates, but nowadays official figures are registered although these often take into account season ticket holders whether they attended matches or not. So in an idle moment I delved into actual recorded figures for Boro’s three grounds and these are my findings of the progressive attendance records which might be of some interest:-

    Paradise Ground
    22,420 on 20 Sep 1902 v West Bromwich Albion 1-1

    Ayresome Park
    32,986 on 11 Nov 1911 v Newcastle United 1-1
    35,753 on 6 Nov 1920 v Sunderland 2-0
    38,067 on 3 Feb 1922 v Sheffield United 1-1 (FA Cup)
    43,754 on 27 Dec 1926 v Manchester City 2-1
    44,523 on 27 Mar 1937 v Arsenal 1-1
    45,854 on 1 Jan 1938 v Sunderland 2-1
    46,747 on 12 Mar 1938 v Arsenal 2-1
    51,080 on 21 Jan 1939 v Sunderland 0-2 (FA Cup)
    53,025 on 1 Mar 1947 v Burnley 1-1 (FA Cup)
    53,802 on 27 Dec 1949 v Newcastle United 1-0 (This is one of at least two matches where some spectators climbed onto the roof of the Holgate end to get a better view).

    Riverside Stadium
    28,826 on 26 Aug 1995 v Chelsea 2-0
    29,191 on 12 Sep 1995 v Southampton 0-0
    29,922 on 15 May 1996 v Manchester United 0-3
    30,215 on 19 Oct 1996 v Tottenham Hotspur 0-3
    30,227 on 21 Feb 1998 v Sunderland 3-1
    30,228 on 3 May 1998 v Oxford Utd (promotion decider)
    34,162 on 15 Aug 1998 v Leeds Utd 0-0
    34,563 on 19 Sep 1998 v Everton 2-2
    34,687 on 20 Feb 1999 v Tottenham Hotspur 0-0
    34,814 on 5 Mar 2003 v Newcastle United 1-0
    34,836 on 28 Dec 2004 v Norwich City 2-0
    A full capacity of 35,000 was recorded for the England v Slovakia international on 11 Jun 2003 (England won 2-1).

    As the Riverside capacity has since been reduced, these figures will stand in perpetuity – unless of course ground extensions occur sometimes in the future.

  39. Thanks Nigel. Well worth posting. The tabloids have been responsible for what almost amounts to a conspiracy against the young man. His story is well worth hearing should be a cause for celebration rather than the bile spewed out by hacks who have none of his talent.

  40. Very enlightening read Nigel.

    Today’s society in general “want to steal your joy” and pull people down not just the tabloids or “the haemorrhoids” as I often call them. Lets build someone up and then make news by crucifying them.

  41. Nigel,

    A very, very interesting read, thank you for the link. He seems a young man with drive and ambition built on proper foundations with a good measure of common sense. Not the assumptions of the tabloid press. Good for him. Too many assumptions because of a tattoo.

    They’re at it now building it up too much, talking about 1966 again and really they’re burnishing the target to make it easier to hit. The team seem to have the right attitude the media are in hyperbole drive.



  42. I second what everyone else has said, Nigel. Thanks very much for posting that.

    Re: England. It may only have been Panama but it was nice to see them play with freedom and cohesion in the first half, and Lingard’s goal was a delight. They professionally shut up shop and contained in the second half – it may have been downright dour as a spectacle, but it was the right thing to do, a means of conserving energy for much bigger tests.

    That’s it… what’s attractive and unforgettable isn’t necessarily right.

    Like USA 94. Love the tournament that made me a football fan though I did, and still do, I had the luxury of enjoying it in what could be called reasonable temperatures at tea time. Steve Staunton and Tommy Coyne had no such luxury – the heat was too much for both, with the latter suffering severe dehydration.

    In 2002 Staunton said it was the closest he’d come to hell on earth. “You can’t play football at twelve o’clock in Orlando… You’re told not to sunbathe at twelve o’clock, let alone run around a field chasing a football.”

    The then-Mexico manager, Miguel Mejia Baron, said around the time of Mexico’s 2-1 win over Big Jack’s Ireland: “I would like these gentlemen from FIFA to get their suits off and play soccer… if (they) thought more about football and less about business, then there would be night games.”

    This was backed up when Big Jack got the VIP treatment when watching Norway 1-0 Mexico in Washington, where he and other “VIPs” were regularly being offered iced drinks and chilled napkins so that they wouldn’t get too hot.

    “Who are these people to look to the safety of players on the line while they sit around in the lap of luxury with their iced drinks and chilled napkins”, he growled.

    Naturally, a certain Mr Dunphy refused to blame the heat, implying instead that Jack’s relentless desire to prove that he could win games *his* way was draining the players.

    The joys of alternative views.

  43. I see “Middlesbrough Forest” are now linked with Fabio, so thats, Paddy, Grant, Clayts, Stuani. After the Tomlin reunion I wonder who is next, Albert? George? Dimi?

  44. I’m enjoying the World Cup which hasn’t always been the case in the past.
    Watching England play and win has been great, they haven’t beaten anyone fantastic yet, but previous England teams could easily have struggled.

    1. Have to confess Nigel that my interest in the World Cup has picked up and I’m showing more interest than I thought I would. From a 4/10 at the outset I’d say I’m a borderline 6/10.

      Another thing which has surprised me is the organisation and the impressive standard of the Stadia in fairness to the Russians. Perhaps I was duped by the propaganda “news” from the tabloids beforehand and the desire to portray the country in a bad light, perhaps assisted by darker forces at play.

      To date there doesn’t seem to anything like the same level of shenanigans that has blighted previous tournaments from tattooed knuckle, bare chested Neanderthals. The local Russian thugs also seem relatively ominous by their absence compared to France, perhaps gently persuaded by Mr Putin that a global marketing opportunity for the Nation was non negotiable.

  45. Watching the Iran and Portugal match and I am appalled by the behaviour of both sets of players. Diving, pushing, kicking, elbowing, appealing, asking for VAR.

    If we keep VAR maybe Fat Sam had it right. Maybe do what cricket does, have a review for both teams. Use it then shut up or get booked. How it works is open for discussion.

    One per side per half or match, lose it if it is a wrong appeal.

  46. It seems even the players don’t know how VAR works. It’s pointless asking the referee as he doesn’t decide when it’s used. The watching referee group in a studio “ invite” the referee to review a decision.

    Unlike the experts in the studio I thought Ronaldo should have been given a red card, it’s violent conduct and in the PL it would have resulted in a ban using video evidence.

  47. Shame about the diving, pulling, cheating etc.

    This tournament isn’t short of goals and drama.

    What would make it epic is knockout stages with a combination of favourites, underdogs and exciting, revelatory newcomers. Since the explosion of the internet and the expansion of the tournament that’s gotten rarer, alas. Though Euro 2008 managed it with the maverick Russians (Pavlyuchenko, Arshavin and co) and unpredictable but terrifically entertaining Turks (featuring our own – back then – Tuncay) balancing a semi final line up with favourites Germany and Spain.

    1. HA.

      They never had ‘em anyway of course. Just numbers.

      In Euro 92 names first appeared on the back of shirts. Standard practice now at every tournament and even many internationals.

      1. But the font used by Adidas is terrible! I for one cannot read the players names on the back of Adidas shirts.

        When Croatia is playing on Nike shirts, look how easy it is to read their players names on the back. Unlike say Russia and their Adidas shirts.

        Horrible. What’s the point in printing players’ name if none can read them because of the font. Z is like 2 , etc.

        Up the Boro!

  48. I just heard that Martin Keown said Spain didn’t really have anyone who can run with the ball.

    Ahem. Ahem.

    A certain Adama Traore might be handy, as one of our fans said.

    Then again, for years I was trained to believe that placement, solidity, positional sense and keeping the ball at all costs were preferable to speedy wingers.

    Probably because it, you know, worked – for some time. And any end product is better than none at all when you’ve near missed as many times as Boro have.

    1995, promotion in 1998 and 2016, and Cardiff 04? They’re recent exceptions rather than the recent rule.

  49. Has the game become worse in terms of cheating and unsporting behaviour or has corruption and greed just ruined the game and VAR just highlights how bad it has really become.

    Additionally the Officials now seem almost too scared to make decisions instead looking sheepish and hoping a bloke with a video is going to tell them what to do. I still think that a Pierluigi Collina sat in the Stands wired to the Ref is all thats needed. Even with all the technology the VAR decisions still cause controversy and are inconsistent.

  50. Interesting that McNair went through his medical at Rockliffe yesterday yet no announcement yet from either Club or the Player himself. I’m wondering if a long standing injury problem has been identified or perhaps waiting on a second opinion.

    1. SSN were reporting at 20.27 yesterday evening that the medical had been completed and that a four year deal had been agreed.

      Perhaps NB had already gone home so was not available for the signing and photo opportunity which will perhaps take place today!

  51. Jarkko/Werdermouth/Pedro/Allan/

    Just to let you know I am having log in problems to iFollow and not sure if it is specific to me or something more general like iFollow penalising Boro supporters for MFC not taking up the streaming option again!

    Have contacted iFollow and am awaiting a response.

    Tried logging in on a few Championship sites but each time my email/password was not recognised.

    The only site that did allow me in was the Burton (now league 1) site which was the first site I used to register on last season, Burton being our first home game.

    Hope it can be easily resolved or I may have to resort to using Mrs P’s details to re-register, just hope she will let me have a plastic card to pay with!

    1. Maybe its Burton being penalised for being in League 1 and no longer in the Championship rather than Boro and as that was your first log in and an assumption has been made that you no longer require Chmapionship iFollow matches?

      1. I also tried some of the other league 1 clubs but still could not log in only on the Burton site. Will wait for an iFollow response and then provide feedback.

        Glad I found out now and not on the 4th of August when I would have been panicking!

    2. If you logged iot Burton then like me you would have used your burton login thereafter for iflollow. I will probably have the same probelm once August arrives so keep us all posted, Last season my Burton details were OK for all Ifoww matches

    3. I was able to log in to the Derby County site now. So no problems and it remembered my pass word from previous visit. I don’t know which team was the first I signed in.

      I hope next season I can see all the matches at site without all the hassle of log-in problems.


      1. Jarkko

        You shouldn’t have a problem with Derby, Birmingham and QPR as they provide their own stream which they source from iFOLLOW but those clubs are not part of iFollow. We will therefore each have a membership on their individual websites.

        MFC could provide us with a stream and an annual season ticket but it is my view that they do not want to pay the fee to iFollow. So much for MFC wanting to improve the match day experience and caring about their supporters!

  52. There are reports of Bristol City have accepted a bid from MFC for Aden Flint and another report that Everton have offered £20m plus Mo Besic for Ben Gibson. One out two in ??

    Come on BORO.

  53. It is reported that 25 yr old Danny Ings is leaving Liverpool, who have offered him a new long term deal but he is looking for regular football, do we think he would fit in at Boro.

    Come on BORO.

  54. Given the news on Flint it possibly explains the delay in the announcement about Mcnair, they want to do them both together.

    I hope this does not mean we are saying farewell to Ben.

  55. KP
    I had the same thought that the signing of McNair and Flint may be announced simultaneously, maybe Besic as well if he is part of a deal for Gibson.
    Regardless of the possible Besic plus cash offer, I’m certain that Ben will leave. Just hope that we get the maximum value from his departure.
    Expect things to start happening as 30 June approaches. How many incomings and outgoings will there be?

    1. I always say about a new signing – “he’s a Boro lad now, let’s get behind him”.

      Look at it this way. I wasn’t excited about Nsue for about a year or so. Given time to form an understanding with Albert and score some goals, he earned a chant and became a fan darling.

      Fabio may well have been an upgrade – with Manchester United and Brazil experience – but I don’t think fans took him, or even Adama, to their hearts in quite the same way as Nsue and Adomah.

      I’ve learned the hard way that quality and affinity are not the same.

    2. I think they both fit the Pulis mould plus they both score goals. McNair is upper Championship/lower Premiership standard whilst Flint is the most coveted CB in the Championship.

      We have had big money glamour (Alves, Rhodes, Assombalonga) signings that haven’t had the desired effect plus “great potential” signings like Fischer, Braithwaite and Fletcher that haven’t quite lived up to billing for whatever reaaon. These two signings fit a model (did Monk have a model or even a plan?) and are proven.

      Arguably Assombalonga and Rhodes were proven but didn’t fit the model. They both make a lot of sense plus a dozen more goals like as not.

  56. Did Monk have a model, or even a plan?

    Hmmmm… No. Not really.

    It was exactly what I asked from him in my Finding The Voice Talking Point last year.

    “I’ve heard the “We have some good players, just let them play” argument before, and am aware that if too many individuals subvert their skills for the sake of a collective it is doomed to fail.

    “But if a manager wants to find a voice, to make his mark, freedom alone is not the answer – a lasting impression is not solely created by players, but also by the restrictions imposed by the man in charge. Each restriction or order imposes upon the team makes it more distinct. Freedom on its own means chaos, which ultimately means boldly going nowhere.

    “That’s where I unfortunately feel Monk’s Boro are right now, and will continue to be unless we find a voice. It might be time for Monk to show his authority, to stir the players up a bit and make them take notice.”

    He didn’t.

    That success is simply down to the cycle of football and recruitment is only part of the story. Every successful manager brings something to a club that makes it uniquely his, like it or hate it.

  57. However.

    Does every team need a real managerial leader to guide them? Those who believe in the continuity model – an increasing amount – certainly don’t think so, though you could argue, as I already have, that without clear direction you’ve less of a voice.

    On the other hand, there is the danger of a managerial methodology becoming overtaken by a cult of personality. Less about the football, more about the product. One which unites, rather falsely, a collective’s collaborative work under one name. And creates the myth of (insert name here), the tactical genius who turned water into wine.

    Alternative viewpoints.

  58. Interesting comment by Gareth on being asked by Gabby Logan about scoring goals from set pieces. His view was that top teams score from set pieces and set pieces are often denial of opportunities.

    That took back to rugby. England beat Wales in a world cup match. As often happens Radio 5 had a phone in the next morning hosted by a non sporting presenter.

    She said to Andy Nicholls, a jock and good international scrum half., ‘surely it is wrong if Wales score three tries to England’s one?’

    I was astonished when Andy didn’t follow the Celtic line. It was entirely fair because those three points were four points lost because the game was halted by Welsh infringements preventing scoring opportunities.

  59. In response to GHW – that depends on what you perceive to be success.

    Is success what a manager achieves relative to what the club have achieved in recent years, if not their entire history?

    Or can one legitimately call it “success” if he or she feels that the team hasn’t achieved everything they can?

    A great conversation in relation to the sacking of Claude Puel by Southampton – a club who scraped survival the following year, note – was revelatory.

    At the time, a neutral fan asked a Southampton fan who was not at all happy with Puel the following question. Paraphrasing included.

    “You finished eighth in the Premier League and got to a cup final. That’s not bad for a club – and let’s not best about the bush here – of Southampton’s stature. However Puel’s football was, results wise, you did okay. So the rest of us who are not Saints fans are just wondering: what did he do that was so bad?”

    The response implied that if a chairman knows that fans must go to games to stop the club going out of business, and will turn away, even protest, if they’re watching terrible football, then the manager should be sacked. Should we, the Saints fan suggested, be paying £700 for a season ticket to watch a group of well paid internationals play with the handbrake on because they are being poorly led? And if that is the case, why keep the manager?

    From that I learned that the “results are results are results” argument can only take you so far if you’re not connecting with enough people.

  60. My point was you said “ every successful manager brigs something to a club” That implies to me they were successful before they came. Im struggling to think of a Boro manager who fits that description. TP is about the closest I can think of.

  61. Jack Charlton, Bryan Robson and Steve MaClaren were arguably Boro’s most successful managers, and complete novices. Albeit MaClaren was a coach to a successful team before his appointment as manager.

  62. Again, it comes down to what counts as success.

    When I think of the tenures of Robbo, McClaren, Mogga and Karanka I think of Leo Tolstoy’s fable about the brothers. One stays home and plays it safe, the other goes on a dangerous journey and is rewarded with being king in a far away kingdom. He rules for five years until a stronger king than he conquers his terrain and drives them out.

    The brothers reunite. Play-it-safe brother rejoices at seeing the risky sibling, who tells him everything. The former, who stayed home because he had doubts, said:

    “You see, I was right. Here I have lived quietly and well. And you, though you may have been king, have seen a great deal of trouble.”

    “I do not regret going on that journey”, said his brother. “I may have nothing now, but I will always have something to remember, while you have no memories at all”.

    For example. You can choose to see 2014-15 as “a play-off final failure” or, as one fan wisely saw it, a learning experience from which we all emerged more prepared for promotion battle rigours the following season. For the demolition at Bournemouth or our own demolition of Ipswich featuring terrifically taken Bamford goals. (I know you don’t like him but in my view 28 league strikes in two non-consecutive Boro seasons is hard to argue with.) And for the journeys to Anfield and the Etihad.

    Taking time to think and reflect is the best way to judge any manager, as it was with Mogga. We see now how he worked well to lay the foundations for what followed.

    Unfortunately, for some, I have to admit, the wounds don’t ever heal.

    Many think Jack Charlton is an Irish hero. Others say he wasted Ireland’s Greatest Generation by stifling them in a rigid system.

    Me, I acknowledge that, but the sentimental fan in me would rather remember the streets of Dublin in 1990.

    And a packed Riverside in May 2016.

    All these managers I mention did things their way – and we remember them for it. And, McClaren aside, the others were all generally liked by fans – at least until the final year.

    We may rightly question their methods, but… foreign superstars? A trophy? A European final? Going five points clear with a game in hand after a record breaking clean sheet run?

    These moments, when Boro, who have a history of disappointing us, actually do something right? One shouldn’t discard or dismiss them, but embrace them and build on them.

    At least that’s what we should have done.

  63. So the Echo is reporting that Middlesbrough has completed £11m signing of McNair and Flint and they both fly off to Austria today.

    The paper also insists that no offers have been received for Ben and he might still stay.

    If we consider Shotton as a right back, we now have just four centre backs in Fry, Gibson, Ayala and Flint. We might need a right back though if Barragan is leaving.

    Up the Boro!

  64. Will go along for now with Simon’s “they are Boro lads now”.

    However I still have my doubts over McNairs injury record and Flints ability on the ground. He is good in the air but we will now need either a rejuvenated George or a more pacy better defending left back.
    And up to 7 mil for an almost 29 year old does not appear good business, with no future sell on value.

  65. I went to look and see what the local Bristol paper was saying about Mr Flint but it is a sister paper to the Gazette and it’s ‘Live’ is in the same state as a certain parrot!.

    I left pretty damn quick.

  66. Because of my time here in Budapest the only World Cup football I’ve seen so far has been the second half of the Germany v Sweden match, and now as I’m absolutely worn out with all the traveling I’m having a peaceful afternoon watching my second match, and unbeknown to me, I find it’s Germany again. To tell the truth I’m getting too old for all this independent travelling between locations around Budapest – no transfer arrangements for me as I hardly ever do package holidays. This is my fourth visit to Budapest and I have to say that it’s my favourite capital city in Europe and I’ve visited some 40 of them.

    What puzzles me though is Russia. The last time I toured Moscow and St Petersburg (Leningrad in 1979) was in the depths of winter, and I always fancied a return visit to experience the cultural changes but this time in the summer. Nowadays though obtaining a visa is much more difficult for the independent traveller, because I’m informed that one has to present oneself at the passport office for fingerprinting at either London, Manchester or Edinburgh. I’m now wondering how all these foreign football fans have managed to get to these Russian venues. Does anyone know if visa restrictions have been relaxed for the World Cup, or are fans only allowed to visit in organised groups? Apparently if one travels on a river cruise it is easier, but not on a coach or railway holiday even when organised by a travel company.

    Anyhow I’ll be able to see the England match tomorrow on a German channel. I can’t say I’ve missed not seeing the group matches; too busy enjoying myself for that and things should become more interesting in the knockout stages. Thankfully from my point of view the Word Cup Final is before the Open Golf from Carnoustie as nothing stops me from watching that!

    1. Ken, one needs to have a match ticket and then you can enter Russia for a month. Possibly you have to register somewhere but no visa needed. So easier than normally.

      Up the Boro!

      1. Thanks Jarkko. It makes one wonder though why normal tourists/travellers are subjected to such red tape. Must say though what a joy it is to watch Brazil. The pace of their passing even when passing backwards is superb.

      2. Ken, a good question. From my home the distance to St. Petersburg is about 230 miles and I have never been there. The border crossing and applying a visa beeing the main reasons. And Putin lately.

        I have been to Viborg in Russia – there is a ship going there when one do not need a visa for a day trip. I cannot say exactly, but I think it is the EU who does not want to have free travelling to or from Russia.

        But as Ken said, that border is strange with all the burocracy. Especially so if I compare the situation elsewhere in Europe. During my life time, there has not been any border control, no passports or work permits between Finland and the rest of Nordic countries (Scandinavia), for example.

        In my work, there are usually a month when I need to travel abroad every week once. So no passport needed in the EU or if travelling by car, no need to stop on the borders in the Baltics for example.

        Sometimes the mobile call must be closed a few minutes after crossing the border as the operator changes from country to country. But nowadays even the pricing of mobile calls remain the same in the EU area as at home!

        So for me the EU has given only advantages. I hope in the future the UK stays as easy to travel to and from as now. That no more border burocracy is built over there.

        Up the Boro!

  67. You will have seen some changes over the years I’ll bet Ken. Especially with the advent of low cost airlines. Some of these European cities are getting full to bursting at certain times. Not helped by the cruise ships at some ports.

  68. Update on iFollow issues:

    It appears that part of my problem was a corrupted ID which has now been resolved. It is some time since I registered with IFollow and it seems I may have forgotten the process!

    Where a club is using the iFollow platform to provide their website and streaming of matches then you need to go to each individual club’s website, click on iFollow/subscribe then click on Free Pass and then click Register. You will then need to add your personal details and password. Once registered for the Free Pass you can login at a later date to purchase a Match Pass assuming they are available. It will be necessary for you to do this for each club utilising the iFollow platform.

    For those clubs running their own websites e.g. Birmingham, Villa, Bristol City, Derby and QPR you may already be registered with them from last season so should be able to just login.

    Hope this is all clear and helps – happy registering!

    1. Thanks for that KP, although I will hopefully see the first three home games and the Notts County games also.

      Then back to the dramas of iFollow. I would hope to be able to see the early away games aswell.

  69. I simply thought South Korea were South Korea – as athletic, physical and well organised as they can be but lacking in the technique and intuition required to take them further.

    Even in 2002 they enjoyed the rub of the green most home nations tend to, and progressed through the art of “frenzy football” – pace, pressure and physicality. It worked until the luck and energy ran out in the semis.

    Not that they can’t be entertaining – in ‘86 they ran Italy close (2-3), ditto Germany (2-3) in ‘94.

  70. McNair and Flint strike me as very good signings.
    With Flint joining, that looks to me like Ben heading to the prem. If its to Everton in exchange for £20m and Becsic I’d say thats good business all round.

  71. I agree Nigel. There’s an intelligent article by AV online when he points out how much physical presence matters in the Championship. I see these purchases as an excellent example of a manager who trusts his philosophy and goes out and buys good quality players who bring the extra advantage of size. It’s hard to find an argument against either of these acquisitions and it’s a real pleasure to think that the club is genuinely being managed rather than just drifting along.

    With Ayala and Flint now together (the medieval siege engines as AV nicely describes them) and Gibson not out the door, it did occur to me that one option that could work really well is to play a back three. That would utilise our assets and we’d have Fry and Shotton available to fill the gaps that would arise from injuries or the inevitable bookings. The wing-backs could be Shotton or Friend or we could go England style and find some more attacking options.

    I still think that a sale of Gibson for a good price is the most likely option – I wouldn’t bet against 15 million + Besic – but the back three is a nice idea and the prospect of free kicks and corners with the three of them plus Friend, Shotton and McNair before you even count in any actual forwards would give many defences nightmares.

    I can’t move on without a quick reference to the WC which has taken our relative apathy and shocked us into submission with one surprise after another.. With the third round of matches taking place at midnight and 4am Oz time, it’s a question of recording and fast forwarding through a lot of the stuff the next morning. However, the Germany debacle was compulsive watching even if just for the faces of the team, the management and the fans who have spent 50 years living in a world where things like this just don’t happen. I’d love to hear from our German third columnists on the local reaction to Germany’s spectacular implosion.


  72. Is it the first time since 1966, that England has gone futher than Germany in World Cup? Well done, Gareth and co.

    I have worked for a Belgian company exacly ten years now. But still I think I will support Gareth tonight.

    Up the Boro!

    1. I also have a soft spot for Belgium having lived and worked there for seven years. The good news is that the result doesn’t really matter. Maybe they’ll meet again in the final!

  73. Watched the Germany v Sweden game with a group of neighbours at my place at the weekend and even went to the trouble of placing a bowl of black red and yellow M&M’s strategically on an Ikea coffee table to create the correct feng shui. Though enjoyed the last-minute Tony Kroos strike with the expected explosion of joy from those around me – the feeling of the locals it was already job done and a formality of picking up the points against South Korea awaited.

    I was actually unable to watch the German game live yesterday as my 8-year old’s pony club had rather kindly organised a show for the parents that coincided with the crucial encounter. I’m sure watching small children canter around on Shetland ponies in a paddock with Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ ironically blaring out on the PA may pass for excitement in some quarters but I sensed some of the parents minds were elsewhere as they clapped politely after yet another round of what appeared to the casual observer of children merely not falling off.

    Anyway, I recorded the match to watch later – I didn’t know the score (it was a condition on attending the show with severe penalties for any indiscretions) but had to call in at the DIY shop on the way home to pick up more stuff for my projects. The game must have finished by now but it was quiet – too quiet. Also their appeared to be sale on German-flag deckchairs and those BBQ oven gloves too. It wasn’t a good sign but managed to get out of the shop without the word football being mentioned.

    So got home and watched the game, which to be honest was pretty dull for the first hour – I sensed Mrs Werder had heard he score on the radio as she opted for weeding the flower beds instead. “Do you know the final score” I asked – “I’m saying nothing” she glumly replied. It was all beginning to add up – especially with Sweden now 3-0 up and Germany giving a very good impression of England at the last World Cup. Then the VAR moment came that appears to be the prerequisite deciding factor as Tony Kroos nut-megged his own defender to pass to the now not deemed offside South Korean forward to put the holders out.

    So it all very quiet over here today and the locals seem a little in shock at not having their usual ride to the semi’s and beyond. I guess the guy round the corner will be packing away his massive 5m German flag this morning – though Mrs Werder has banned me from gloating and any tongue-in-cheek suggestions of unfurling a huge England flag were met with the usual stare. Also pretending to not know the score and asking neighbours who Germany play next has also been added to the banned list.

    Still plenty of time for England to join Germany on the plane home as beating Tunisia and Panama doesn’t yet shout to me ‘World Cup Winners 2018’ – besides Putin will be no doubt be spotted in full refereeing kit in the VAR room should England find themselves remotely in with a shout of lifting the trophy…

    1. Down here in Oz the locals are unloading their general sporting misery (did someone mention cricket) on the Australian team and the management who didn’t really ‘give it a go’ as they say here. It is interesting to watch how football philosophy is suddenly being sad to have moved on from possession and sudden strike to a more high-paced attacking method which certainly brings more excitement. To be honest, I don’t see this as being particularly new as Germany played a lot of high speed football in the last world cup. I’m actually quite interested to know why they changed and churned out the turgid sideways passing that looked like Boro at their worst under Karanka.

      A for England, I’m not sure that they are as good as Belgium but we might not see that in the next game as both will make changes.

    2. Werdermouth
      After England the two countries dear to my hearts are Germany and Portugal. The former because I love Freiburg and the Schwarzfeld and also because my mother’s maiden name was Kraus and her ancestors were Frankfurters, and the latter because it has not only been my winter home for 22 years, but because I’ve also toured most of the country.

      I know Schadenfreude is a good German word that many Brits might use about Deutschland but I’m actually sorry they’ve been eliminated, though I’m not one to gloat over others misfortune as my next door neighbour is a Sunderland fan. However I must say that Germany in this instance have only themselves to blame as their shooting was diabolical.

      1. I’ve got used to the party atmosphere in Germany for the Euro’s and World Cup as invariably they always lasted the distance – people would be flying flags on their cars and everyone would be football crazy for a month. So they were always my second team given everyone I know are Germany supporters – but maybe they’ve got too complacent and the German team didn’t really look up for it this time and just thought they had to turn up. Love had been given an extended contract until 2022 and some of the players maybe thought they didn’t need to do anything special to get picked.

  74. Simon

    I was sat a garage waiting for my car and saw the second half. Korea wasted many opportunities with breakaways and didn’t even work Neuer in the German goal.

  75. While we can savour the moment, we can’t really boast until we actually win the World Cup or consistently appear in finals like the Germans have from, it seems, time immemorial.

  76. I see we are now being linked with Matt Ritchie from the Toon up the A19. Again like the two recent newcomers I see this as a strong stable and sensible target. The drawback however is the alleged price tag of £15M, thats an awful lot of Championship money for a 28 year old who will be 29 in September. If we go up of course that amount is relative peanuts but should we miss out it starts to have a whiff of “Villa essence” about it and a squad that is ageing and with dropping resale values.

  77. Ian
    Perhaps boasting is a bit strong but the media is full of gloating headlines. I prefer to bask in the warm glow, while it lasts, without going OTT.
    As we know with the Cricket, it always comes back to bite you in the bum. He who laughs last, etc.
    Speaking of Cricket, it seems that, despite holding a healthy first innings lead, Yorkshire are about to suffer another defeat. Do we put it down to the absence of our England players?

    1. Steely
      Not sure about Yorkshire missing Root as he only scored a total of 72 runs in his four innings for Yorkshire this year. There’s not much wrong with the bowling attack except for the lack of a spinner. Adil Rashid won’t play for Yorkshire again in the County Championship as he only wishes to play one-day cricket. I think the biggest drawback is not being able to establish a decent opening partnership. Two years ago Adam Lyth and Alex Lees had at least two double century partnerships and they averaged over 70 as an opening pair throughout the season. This year Lyth has scored 269 runs in 12 innings, Lyth a mere 50 in 8 innings, and we engage an Indian Test batsman in Cheteshwar Pujara who totalled 172 in 12 innings. It’s the batting which is weak, and I put it down to trying to play white ball cricket shots instead of building an innings.

  78. Redcar Red, like you I am not sure about this reported deal, £15m for a winger not far short of his 30th birthday. I read one report that Rafa was willing to let him go, even though he is a fans favourite, because Rafa was concerned about his lack of pace to fit in with his counter attacking style.

    There is no resale value at all, so it would be a gamble on getting promoted. If he does sign for MFC he will, like all players get my full support.

    Come on BORO.

  79. Steely

    Whilst there are five players away with England only two would play county cricket, Root and Bairstow. As it is our batting that is largely to blame the answer is that it must have an effect.

    Watched the Aden Flint interview on MFC and whilst there were the usual platitudes he did seem a solid sort of chap.

  80. “The Germany debacle was compulsive watching even if just for the faces of the team, the management and the fans who have spent 50 years living in a world where things like this just don’t happen.”

    Love that, Selwyn. “Top” teams, “top” players and “top” coaches are so accustomed to getting their own way that they’re not ready for things going wrong.

    From 2002-04, France, Argentina, Spain, Italy and Portugal got a massive wake-up call from the Danes, the Senegalese, the Swedes, the Koreans and the Greeks – that being, the big boys weren’t going to have it their way anymore.

    And would one want the “underdogs” to abandon their mindset? I doubt one would. This distinctive characteristic, also common in both Northern Ireland and the Republic Of Ireland, is key to an underdog’s success.

    A fan named David Long once wrote, in defence of Mick McCarthy post-Saipan and in the face of dozens of Roy Keane worshippers: “The unquenchable team spirit and almost mystical bond with the fans are products of informal sessions in the bar and shared folk memories of communal suffering.”

    Those who consider themselves entitled to triumph, who think they “belong” at the top, may well turn their back on all that. Ireland wouldn’t.

    And Bob Cass RIP backed that up. Recalling the days when he covered Charlton’s Ireland…

    “I applauded that musketeerial sense of being all in it together which I rarely, if ever, came across with England – not that there was ever much to celebrate. The FA’s policy of almost total isolation eschews social contact with the media. It would be really something if such demarcation could be justified by England’s results.

    “…Unburdened by delusions of international grandeur, (Irish and Welsh) players, many rated as high if not higher at club level as those who wore the three lions badge, were sociable, easily approached and not averse to enjoying a glass or two after a match.”

    1. Simon
      Learning from failure can only make you stronger. Germany will probably now win the European Nations Cup. Besides they might take a leaf out of Brazil’s exit in Rio. At the moment I’d make Brazil strong favourites to win this time around.

      1. I wouldn’t bet against it. France made the final of Germany ‘06 and Portugal made the semis after their first round exit in the previous tournament.

        Intriguingly Zidane and Figo came out of retirement for ‘06.

  81. There definitely seemed to be quite a few in the media taking pleasure at Germany’s misfortune at exiting the world Cup at the group stage. It’s probably that typical old English Schadenfreude – though not sure if the Germans also have a word for it…

  82. VAR proved itself with S Korea’s first goal last night and once again with a reversal of a penalty decision in the Senegal Colombia game.

    The only criticism I have is why the referee needs to delay the game to go to a pitch side monitor to review his decision. The VAR team consists of five qualified officials. They should be able to just say yes or no much the same way as they do in Cricket and Rugby. This would speed the whole process up.

    1. A very valid point. Football does not seem to have looked into the two sports that have been using technology the longest and based their model on the best bits.

      I suppose we may get their eventually but it is not rocket science!

  83. There’s been some talk that maybe England would be better off finishing in second place to get a better draw for the second phase of the World Cup. The counter-argument is that by not continuing with a winning mentality it may damage the overall team performance. So perhaps the solution is to play out a creditable draw with Belgium instead – the problem is that England are currently top but that is only on having fewer yellow cards.

    The obvious solution is to start instructing players to take one for the team as the game reaches its conclusion and thus finish below Belgium – the obvious danger is that both managers will have the same idea and we’ll suddenly get carnage in the last ten minutes as the poor ref is goaded into giving yellows – maybe it might take a strategic substitution of a player who will do a deliberate handball then go for glory with a straight red 🙂

  84. I would be much prouder of England if they went for the win – if they defeat every opponent they face, they will truly be worthy winners of the tournament.

    Not that I think it will happen. But a W7 D0 L0 record is better than anything else.

    Has it happened before, since 1974, when teams started having to play seven games to win?

    Off the top of my head, only once.

    West Germany (’74) and Argentina (’78) lost their opening group games.

    Italy (’82) drew all three group matches and scraped into a round two with four groups of three (the winners made the semis) on goal difference.

    Argentina won all their knockout games in ’86 but drew with Italy in round one. West Germany (’90) and Brazil (’94) drew two and won the rest. France (’98) needed penalties to eliminate Italy and extra time to get past Paraguay.

    That brings us to… Brazil (’02). Ronaldo (the original Ronaldo) nets eight as a frankly not very highly rated side wins all their games in normal time, scoring eighteen and conceding just four. A perfect record.

    Italy (’06) drew two and needed extra time at least once (vs Germany). Spain (’10) lost their opening game. Germany (’14) definitely needed extra time in the final and had already needed it to get past Algeria.

    Brazil ’02 weren’t great, but they were most certainly underrated. I remember that they still cruised to victory over Sven’s men even after Lucio’s misjudgement had handed the opener to Owen, and a young, pre-hype Ronaldinho – the best player on the pitch by a mile – was inexplicably sent off. Even then a flat England could only manage a deflected shot from (temporary) future Boro man Danny Mills.

    If England play Brazil again I am hoping for better. A lot better.

  85. Well what a bore that first half was. I hope for all your sakes that Boro don’t play like that next season. To think if I was at home I could have had a choice between Super League, Wigan v Leeds, or even better the German Speedway Grand Prix, but as there’s not much better to do on my last night here, I’m stuck with watching this training session.

  86. Aah! I see the logic of losing tonight. It ensures that England will be in the last 9 as all the other ‘last-16 matches’ will have been completed before we play Colombia. Damn cunning!

  87. Ken

    The Belgian second string is a bit better than the England second string. The Belgian first string is better than the England first String.

    What a surprise, that is football.

  88. Exmil

    Who knows, the upcoming matches will tell. My instinct is that the same result would happen if the first teams played. There is not a huge gap and fine margins will make the difference.

    By the way, did we succeed in separate holidays next season. My break will be early January.

      1. We all have to listen to higher authorities, Whatever I am sure it will be great..

        Ours was a bucket list holiday. Go to places when you cam still do it. Of course we are a few years older than the pair of you.

        Mrs G keeps moving retirement back, She sees the pension benefits but I think it is coming a sensible close in what she does with career succession.

  89. I’m sorry. to sound naive here but why don’t they play it like the FA Cup and Wimbledon as a nock out all the way through? That would make the teams have a major re-think on tactics. You’ll just ahem to go out and play to win. An interesting concept where a team is supposed to play to win.

    It’ll never happen, silly me. It’s like the Champions League with three champions from one country.



  90. They did that twice. The 1934 and 1938 finals were last 16 knockouts.

    In 1930 the four group winners made the semis. In 1950 there was no knockout – but four group winners making a final pool of four. Meant hosts Brazil only needed a draw against Uruguay to win the cup. They lost 2-1.

    1954 was odd. Two qualifiers from four groups, I think, in which the teams only played two games each, and they didn’t bother about goal difference or anything like that. If the second and third placed team were level on points they had to take part in a play-off. Quarter final knock outs from then on. Same rules applied in ‘58 but with three games played by each team in the first round.

    From 1962-70, four groups of four with the top two progressing to knockouts. The knockouts were replaced in 1974 and 1978 by second round groups – winners in the final, second placed teams in 3rd place game.

    In ‘82 you had 24 qualifiers progressing to four groups of three – winners into semis. From 1986-94 the last 24 became a last 16 thanks to the four best third placed teams qualifying.

    In 1998 the format became what it still is today.

  91. Before the Belgium game team was announced I was chatting to a Spurs supporting colleague, and we agreed on the lack of virtue in dropping Kane and making other unnecessary changes.
    My fears of a Cardiff cup tie style scenario were foremost in my mind.
    Hey ho.

  92. In the bigger picture losing last night theoretically provides an easier route to the Semi Final. Of course there will still be two sides who have their own dreams of reaching the Semi’s who will need to be disposed of so it is far from a foregone conclusion.

    I didn’t see much of a desperate yearning to win the game but accept that it was probably more due to limited ability than deliberate attempt. With the exception of Loftus-Cheek I didn’t see any performance that would have the first eleven remotely concerned. We can only hope that the exercise and experience stands them some good in the long term.

    Personally I think the defeat was the best outcome but time will tell and no doubt hindsight will raise its ugly head in the tabloids should it not go according to plan. What it did show us was that Gareth has a very shallow gene pool from which to select from and you that can’t make a silk purse out of a Pig’s ear.

    1. RR
      I think that most people on the blog fail to recognise that we put ourselves in a position of power by nailing the first two games ( with bells on)
      This gave us a chance to bring the rest of the squad up to speed in match play and match fitness, it was no surprise that everyone commented on the lack of sharpness and general untidiness in the team.
      Training, living in a camp, not getting match play, is very bad for sportsmen of any kind.
      We are now in a position of strength, with our first team rested, and our vital reserves up to speed.
      All the expected successes at this tournament hit the road blocks which we avoided.
      By that I mean that they got the custard pie in the face early, and from then on were playing catch up.
      All very familiar to us from past tournaments, you walk from the pitch after your opening defeat saying,’ we should still qualify’ after all we are only playing x and y , how difficult can it be?
      X and y, of course, fail to read the script ( that’s if they can read) And proceed to fight like tigers to avoid a whitewash.
      So, to sum up, nothing not to like about our position, we have avoided Brazil for now, and have a chance of beating our opponents on Tuesday.
      Glad to see that we are thinking about penalties because they will surely come into it .
      Just one tip Gareth, defenders are your best chance of success, they generally have legs like tree trunks and are stronger physically than forwards. Oh, and you pick who will take them, after all most show biz types would rather that they were in the spot light (and miss) than take a back seat while some one else plays the hero.
      Just a thought.

  93. I remember listening to a discussion about resting players for FA Cup ties. It followed the embarrassing defeats for Bournemouth and Toon.

    There were some insights from a players viewpoint such that the second string losing did nothing for their self esteem and it had a knock on effect on the squad in terms of spirit and morale.

    If my memory serves me right, after resting players to focus on the type flight both clubs went on horrendous runs.

    Time will tell if Gareth did the right thing. Martinez clearly did because his second string were better than ours.

    At least we have a knock out stage to look forward to. We fly to Madeira on the 9th of July, will I be looking forward to England in a World Cup semi or will England be flying home before we have started packing?

  94. Last nights England result will be the right decision if we beat Columbia and the wrong one if we don’t.
    I suspect Gareth rested all of his first choice players because he could, safe in the knowledge a defeat wouldn’t hurt.
    I’m not sure a defeat has enhanced our prospects of progression, Columbia are a decent side, on a par with England. It will be a tight game and could go either way.
    If we’d won last night we’d now be playing Japan, an easier task than taking on Columbia I feel.
    So my view is that we now have a better chance of reaching the semis but less of a chance of making the quarter finals than if we’d been in the other side of the draw.

  95. Talk from the Tractor boys of Martyn Waghorn being linked with us. Its a strange one if true as although a decent strike rate last season I wouldn’t say he was an upgrade on either Bamford or Assombalonga. At best perhaps third choice cover perhaps if Fletcher and Gestede move on and at 5ft 10″ he hardly fits the big lad TP mould either?

  96. Southgate was in a win-win situation in that the result was immaterial.

    His unused players got a run out and his preferred team got a rest. Being in the “easier” side of the draw is a bonus.

    Two games against Colombia and Sweden/Switzerland for a place in the World Cup semi-final ? That’ll do me.

  97. I would argue that no opposition should be patronised or underestimated. One of my earliest experiences of that was when Saeed Al-Owairan picked up the ball in his own half in Washington and made a mockery of the Belgian defence before driving it past Michel Preud’homme. After five minutes of action.

    His third last touch *was* heavy, but this was Saudi Arabia, in their first World Cup, standing up to a more than decent Belgium side.

    Even though Belgium created tons of chances throughout the remainder of the game, they were so shaken by the early goal that their rhythm and belief was never the same.

    You could call it, I suppose, the Cardiff/Wembley ’15 factor – a team is so stunned by an early “that wasn’t in the script” moment that they either freeze altogether or become a bag of nerves. MoggaBoro did it to Cardiff in 2011 themselves with three early strikes to poop their “promotion party”. The win meant so much less to us yet I was absolutely over the moon that day, because we were moving in the right direction. Or so I believed.

  98. Couple more notes.

    I credit Tony Gubba RIP for the “That wasn’t in the script” line. It was he who said, after Stig Inge Bjornebye was given enough space to put Liverpool in front after only four minutes in that immortal 3-3 draw: “That wasn’t in the Middlesbrough script!”

    Kind of summed up our whole season. Fine, even wonderful, when going to script but the complete polar opposite when not. Then again, Boro have always had that bipolar nature.

    Two, I think someone said back in Euro 2004 that if England won their group, they might “only” have to face Greece in the quarters. The same Greece who England had scraped a last minute draw with to qualify for Japan & South Korea, and the same Greece who, in that tournament, defeated Portugal (twice!) and France when England couldn’t.

    Again, never underestimate anyone.

  99. Ian….I think I read they had sold 18K of early renewals. Of course a decent size of that will be made up of family type and concessions possibly.

    I cannot see many other new purchases now, unless we make a couple of “spectacular” type buys. Which I do not see TP doing.

  100. Agree Nigel. As a neutral I’m actually a fan of the Colombians. Would have preferred to see the James Rodriguez-inspired class of 2014 beat Brazil in the quarters.

    I can’t decide, though, if they’re more beatable this time. They’ve topped their group again but Japan have shown they can be beaten. Minus James (not fit enough to start against Japan, apparently, and currently injured) they’ve looked significantly less inspired.

    You might think, “they’re there for the taking”, but it depends on how they deal with his absence in the pressure cooker of the knockouts.

  101. England?
    Without going into every kick in the game, one moment highlighted a rather pathetic failing which will cost them dear when push comes to shove.
    Playing pinball in the opposition box, suddenly, the dream happens, the ball pops out of the ruck, front and centre, all in the box frozen in various attitudes, the ball rolling towards an opposition player ( powerfully built) running in a straight line towards the penalty spot, swing the boot, keep it low, with the borrowed speed of the clearance plus the speed of the shot, very difficult to keep out, and a chance of hospitalising anyone who got in it’s way.
    Sorry to say, whoever it was, he tried to pass to a team mate, dear dear, what a reflection on the mindset of our heroes.

  102. I touted Waghorn s few seasons back when his carrier was in limbo,
    Some say he is not an upgrade,but he is better than The likes of Bamford off the ball,he doesn’t stop working and making defenders work all game.
    Ipswich wanted Fletcher last season, I’d swap them?

    1. 1966..

      • Real Madrid win the European Cup
      • Burnley qualify for Europe
      • Man City won the league
      • Chelsea finish 5th
      • England win the World Cup


      • Real Madrid win the European Cup
      • Burnley qualify for Europe
      • Man City won the league
      • Chelsea finish 5th


        1. Ayresome Park was still a World Cup ground though !

          I remember the year well

          I was working as a young QS and we were rapidly converting the Teesside Airport former officers mess into the St George Airport Hotel ready for the Koreans football team to take up residence. We also upgraded all the football pitches that the RAF lads had used when it was a military airfield and made them into training pitches.

          My Girlfriend (now wife) was working in the offices at Murray and Charlton in Acklam and they were getting all the Austin and Wolseley Farina big saloons ready for the Korean World Cup squad. A lot of the staff bought them after the World Cup as they had hardly been used.

          Does anyone else have memories of when the Koreans came to town?

  103. Interesting views from Matthew Bates in the Hartlepool Mail about Gareth Southgate, especially from the perspective of his being a young player when Gareth took over as Boro manager. Fulsome in his praise.

  104. Spain’s demise highlights the fact that possession means nothing if you don’t create and take chances.
    I’m no lover of France but I found yesterday’s performance the most enjoyable of the tournament so far.

  105. The top teams keep disappearing form the World Cup. It is getting to the point where those who can grasp the opportunity can be champions.

    We have moved on from a team having to beat several top teams to win it as the draw opens up. The bottom half of the draw could have anyone in the final.

  106. Its been a fascinating world cup for all kinds of reasons but the demise of Germany and Spain has really pointed out the change in football tactics from possession to aggression. Even CROATIA who looked to be a class side were shaken up by Denmark to the point where Denmark really should have won. If a certain M Braithwaite had demonstrated a touch more composure in the box….who knows. Either way, he looked like a good player but not quite good enough. I hope that we sell and move on.

    Watching England has actually made me think more highly of Southgate and his management team because they seem to have genuinely found a way to establish possession higher up the field in a way that I haven’t seen from other sides. The new mantra after breaking down an opposing attack is to either bring the ball forward or play it forward quickly. Good sides now play ‘vertically’ rather than horizontally and try to avoid over-playing the passes in areas where it would be very dangerous to lose possession.

    However, this can still result in losing possession very quickly and having to soak up more pressure. Russia suffered from this and were lucky that Spain spent what seemed like hours playing their neat triangles without moving forward.

    What England do is to play the ball to feet or carry it forward when they can but, in addition to this, they also look to play high balls in a way that isolates a member of the opposing defence, often the full -back. This tactic is supported by one or two England players first looking as if to challenge but then hanging off the defender who has to head the ball. On several occasions, this resulted in either a throw-in to England or the ball recovered in open play well forward of the original position.

    I’m pretty sure that this is not the origin of the tactic but it reminds me very definitely of a current technique in Australian Rules Football. In AFL, the ball is passed by hand or foot and if a player takes a clean catch (a mark) from a kick he is free to restart play unchallenged with a kick of his own from where he took the mark. This used to be one of the highlights of the game with giant forwards (1.95-2.0m) leaping against equally chunky defenders in a ‘battle of the big men’.

    Nowadays, the defence has become more sophisticated and often the attacker is outnumbered by multiple defenders and physically manoeuvred away from the contest, leaving the defending side free to take the mark or punch it clear. Thus, a new tactic has evolved whereby the attacker no longer tries to take a mark but instead tries to bring the ball to ground at which point his smaller teammates look to recover the ball in the attacking zone and score. This is very similar to what England are doing, creating winnable situations in one’s opponents goalmouth.

    It’s interesting to see tactics, training methods etc move between sports and, to be honest, I always thought that AFL was surprisingly close to football because it is a free-form game with very few area limits (such as offside) which set out where a player can be at any time. The alternative is rugby, league, NFL and similar games which are much more structured and, therefore, of necessity, quite repetitive at times.

    Anyway, as GHW so succinctly pointed out, the teams in the right hand side of the draw really do have a golden opportunity to reach a world cup final. Particularly entertaining idea when you think the other quarter finals could be Uruguay V France and Brazil v Belgium.


  107. Football has constantly evolved as new techniques and formations become commonplace and counter measures start to undo what was once very fashionable. The Pyramid, WM formations, the introduction of the Offside trap, the Hnugarians in the 50’s, the Real Madrid of the early 60’s, Brazil of the 60’s and 70’s, the Italians and Catenaccio, the Dutch with total footbal and Cryuff, the French and Wing Backs of the late 90’s and Barca who took Cryuff’s legacy and continually evolved.

    Then add in what is/was the Spanish passing paralysis of possession football which undone the Spanish and to a degree Denmark yesterday who struggled to get a shot on target. We have witnessed AK’s Mourinho inspired set ups and now TP’s tried and tested land of the giants formula for winning football matches. Maybe Gareth and his young charges are about to embark on a new era.

  108. On a less serious note, are our heads spinning with how many £M players are worth? Anthony Vickers has just done his calculations of the worth of each of Boro’s squad of players. Some fans disagree with what are perceived as undervaluations for the likes of prospective outgoings such as Traore and Gibson, and others about overvaluations of players such as Assombalonga. But what does it matter if prices or valuations differ by a £1M here or there? The fact is today we talk glibly about the word ‘million’ as if it is an insignificant number. How many Boro fans are millionaires? In terms of pounds sterling hardly anyone I dare to venture. But if one had £3,000 that would equate to being a millionaire if transferred into Hungarian forints.

    In fact it would probably take well over a fortnight without any sleep to individually count a million £1 coins. There have not yet been a million days since Christ was born. The mind certainly boggles when one takes those two facts into consideration. Just saying like!

  109. According to the Hartlepool Mail this morning TP has put a £16M price tag on Paddy (Bamford not McNair).

    If true it at least shows that he appreciates the value of the lad as my concern is that he would be overlooked for a dinosaur like Waghorn or a one dimensional Gestede. Hopefully it reflects his thinking also in terms of playing personnel for next season and psychologically throws an interesting baton down to both Bamford and Assombalonga by saying you are both of equal value.

    1. RR
      Sorry about this, but I cannot resist( even though I know it’s unfair)
      ” oh no they are not of equal value”
      One is a very statuesque bronze model of a player, the other is one with a track record worth studying.
      It does show that we have someone studying values in the market ( most important in my view)

  110. Haven’t posted for a while as my iPad had a moment and although I’ve kept up with the blog on my phone I couldn’t be fussed typing on its small keyboard with my sausage fingers.

    I haven’t seen too much of the WC but what I have seen has on the whole been pretty good.

    Selwynoz is spot on imo in saying that teams seem to be playing the ball forward much quicker and to what appears great effect. Thank god that mind numbing side to side Ticka Tacka has been in the most part ditched for more attack minded play, because if as all those “experts” claimed it was the only way to play football then I wouldn’t have watched it for much longer.

    Effective, most definitely but boring to watch. We had a lot of that type of windscreen wiper stuff under AK although admittedly not with the same caliber of player!

    This is by far and away the most open WC I can remember since Mexico 1970 which makes it much more interesting and work permitting I’ll try to get to see as many remaining games as I can.

  111. Boro to play Sunderland in pre season friendly on Friday 27 July ko 19:30, at the Riverside. Interesting as we also play Hartlepool on Saturday 28 July ko 1300 away, I wonder which match will feature the first team.

    Come on BORO.

  112. A) I hope its the Hartlepool game that features the first team. I’d rather Pools get a decent crowd and a share of a bit of cash to help fund our destitute North East neighbours in their desperate efforts to climb out of the mire and back up through the leagues.


    B) I hope its the Sunderland game that features the first team. I’d rather the Black Cats get a decent crowd and a share of a bit of cash to help fund our destitute North East neighbours in their desperate efforts to climb out of the mire back up through the leagues.

  113. Watched the young French god m’bapp?, lovely to see the correct use of blistering speed, I can hear his elders and betters giving him instructions as I type.
    ” listen son, you stay on the half way line, you will see an empty field in front of you, suddenly a round thing will appear in front of you, it will be on the ground not in the air, all you have to do is turn up the after burners to maximum, and head for the penalty box, if we are too thick or incompetent to get up there In support, just put it in the net yourself, it’s not difficult, just think, foot , ball, net, and hit it as hard as you can. Simples really.

    1. It will be interesting to see if Cattermole is still there. They will be struggling with his wages and I believe still has a few years left on his contract with no obvious takers. They may end up cutting their losses and trying to either loan him out or simply give him away to any takers.

      The last thing we need in a pre season friendly is a nut job with an ill disciplined agenda running amok totally removed from his new Managers game plan and ethic. Thats always assuming of course that the great Makem plan isn’t to try and kick their way out of League 1.

  114. It will be interesting to see how we line up pre season.

    Intriguing that we talk of TP being a dinosaur because he wants to play a higher tempo further up the pitch and get the ball forward earlier.

    And here we are, recent discussions on here have dwelt on teams in the world cup being more progressive and getting the ball forward earlier. Windscreen wiper passing is out of vogue.

    I suppose it is like the Jurassic Park franchise, the dinosaurs keep coming back in new forms

    1. A quiet news day in Gazette Towers obviously but what can you do when the Orwellian Trinity Special Police are screaming “Write, Write, Write.”

  115. That was a great result yesterday for tiki- taka football. Not a supporter of Russia but the football team have excelled in their own way.

    I wonder how much the Brazilian full back would cost right now.

    1. I used to love watching Brazil in all their pomp, the Harlem Globetrotters of the Football world!

      Enduring the pathetic cowardly gamesmanship of those in the famous Yellow shirt this afternoon against a passive passing Mexican team who seemed to pass themselves into the “anals” (* misspelling intended) of history was nothing short of disgraceful. Its good to see the Officials now tightening up on the ridiculous grappling at corners but VAR should now take a look at those who appear to have stood on a IED yet miraculously recover after a minutes rub with a sponge and a spray.

      Assuming that they meet the Belgians in the next round I hope King Philippe’s boys dish out some real Morrison type tackles with firm intent and give them something to role around crying for. For me a massive shame that probably the greatest footballing nation on earth has spawned these miserable excuses for masculinity, the self indulgent footballing equivalent of reality TV.

      Tostao, Pele, Jairzinho, Garrincha and of course TLF must be flinching with embarrassment at the antics of those representing the Seleção.

      1. It is what it is. Since football became “fashionable”, a soap opera with real tears, “playing the game” to win sympathy and or free kicks has become more and more commonplace to the point where no one’s surprised.

        Because they all do it.

        It’s not right, but they all do it.

    1. Assuming the article is written by a trusted journalist with input from trusted sources at MFC then that is great news in my view.

      It is good to hear that TP sees PB as an integral part of the squad.


  116. I caught the second half of Belgium 3-2 Japan.

    At one point I genuinely thought Japan were the better side – at least to watch. They were playing a neat passing game, looking to go forward at every opportunity (even after their lead was wiped out!) and had a reasonable amount of individual class to go with it. You might call them underdogs with a bite, a la Tuncay’s Turkey circa Euro 2008.

    What Turkey had that Japan lacked, however, were the physiques to maintain the tempo required. I noticed as well that, a good deal of the time, Japan were gobbling up Belgium’s ball-to-feet play on the ground. Clearly, so did Martinez – his subs were the right ones.

    That Belgium’s aerial prowess, physicality and general man-for-man superiority eventually won the day was no surprise. Yet it should be noted they needed a stroke of luck to turn the tide – I’m still not convinced Vertonghen meant that goal.

  117. Brazil v Belgium should be a cracker and, having spent seven years in Belgium, I can legitimately support them against the custard yellow apology for a Brazilian side. Apart from Willian who had a wonderful game, the rest seemed to a man to be intent on finding new ways to fall over and scream in agony.

    I hope that they get a referee who isn’t easily fooled.

    Looking forward to England’s game. Now withe any expectation but just anticipation of them having a good chance. It’s nice for it to be that way round. Hope without pressure.

    As for Boro, i feel that we are only a couple of players away from a final squad that will really challenge strongly and even as we are we have to have a good chance. More and more I’m thinking that the Championship is not about individual talent but rather good management and organisation so that a team develops good habits to get through the ten month slog…..and we have the right manager in place.


  118. In response to Steely and Boro Becky’s Dad.

    I’ve plenty of admiration for those who had the guts to call out the limitations in Spain’s style even when the wins, goals, clean sheets, exceptional pass completion rates and trophies were coming in by the bucket load.

    Because it’s the kind of call I wouldn’t have had the guts to make when Spain (whose I immensely admired) were at the height of their powers.

    Tiki-takanaccio – and its inferior imitators – may be dull, but when one’s team is consistently winning either games or trophies when they never used to, one tends to embrace it.

    In a way, it’s like Ireland under Big Jack – purists sneered at a stifled squad playing limiting football, but the public loved being where they’d never been before.

    1. I agree that it can be dull but the aim of the game is to score goals and ideally more than the opposition! I don’t mind dull if we (whoever we are) are winning. Trouble is other teams work out what to do to mitigate the threats. Croatia defended well and never allowed Spain to get through.

      Football has to constantly evolve and coaches need to innovate to give them the advantage. I just hope that Gareth has what it takes for tonight!

  119. Maddo has will be involved with MFC academy. I wonder if that will conflict with his role as expert summariser?

    It must be difficult to make comments on onfield activity then walk in to Rockcliffe.

  120. And now for something completely different.

    Alongside my work I did lecturing at University on service marketing. One of the sessions was about systems and procedures for Service Encounters. Dealing with customers in plain English

    We used several videos for this and one of our favourites was one of the Fawlty Towers episodes featuring Mrs Richards

    This was great because it gave great examples of what not to do and also had the students in stiches.

    We had the Quality Auditors in so decided maybe something more staid would be more suited.

    After he observed the session I took him back to the rooms they were using, after a few steps he asked me to walk on his left ide because he was deaf in one ear.

    A close call!.

  121. Exmil
    Hope the claims that this Pulis pre-season regime reduces injury risks holds true, as we don’t want to be losing players before the season gets going.

    I was one of those in the minority who never took to Spain’s Tikka-takka, or whatever it’s called, even when they were winning everything. As BBD and others have stated, Football keeps evolving.
    5-3-2 seemed OK to me like. Ultimately, it’s 11 a side. Intent is what matters. It was supposed to be about scoring goals. Defending well out of necessity can be exciting but, possession at all costs, doesn’t cut it for me. Will get back in my box now!

  122. Does anyone else find themselves scratching their heads at so called media “news” articles referencing “Transfermarkt” for their valuations?

    I can’t get my head around why anyone would write an article and then use the above as a reference for valuation. The amount of times I’ve read this week about Adama or Ben and their “Transfermarkt” valuations are laughable especially considering that Adama has been repeatedly reported to have an alleged £18M release clause. You can get Paddy for £4M, Ben for £8M and Adama for £7M. Mind you it does seem to be fairly fluid so who knows what price they will be tomorrow.

    Just hope Gary Gill and TP use this very valuable tool because I’m sure we could sign Ronaldo or Messi for half the price we paid for Ashley Fletcher. What is the point of the site if their valuations are far removed from real world commercialism?

  123. Half an hour to go and momentum may be with Columbia. One thought is that as we know, our players have very creative players around them at club level. Sterling looks good at Man City with de Bruyne, de Silva, Aguerro etc.

    I am not criticising Sterling, Citeh are just an extreme example.

    We will see.

  124. England are looking a bit wooden.

    Vardy on for Sterling, Dier for Alli, Right footed Young at left back. You can see it drifting away.

  125. Sorry, posting thoughts as they come to me. Dier and Henderson are fine if you are keeping control of the game but we conceded.

    A left footed left back come on, Rose for Young.

    Walker makes a run and is ambushed, free kick conceded. Losing control.

    1. Ian,

      I agree that substitution was a turning point.

      Somehow they got through, as some say you make your own luck. As an aside what is the point of VAR? Can anybody explain the ‘benefit’ to the game. All those people watching screens and when something important happens they’re all pulling the wrapper off their ice lolly.

      How can something that is supposed to make things clear actually make things and events less clear? Goal line technology works because people aren’t involved…



  126. Penalties and well done England.

    Real character. One comment I would make is that they deserved to win because of the attitude of the Columbian team. You can blame me for my old fashioned value, If so I will take it on the chin, I disliked the way the Columbians players the game.

    1. Indeed- Columbia got what they deserved although England were not convincing but at last the penalty hoodoo has gone. I read that they practiced after every session including the walk from the circle.

  127. In my opinion England deserved to win, all the talk about a young inexperienced side, they walk away from this match as men and it will stand them in good stead to what is to come. One question I would ask, in the last 16 of the World Cup how do we have an American referee and linesmen from New Zealand, two great footballing nations.

    Come on BORO.

    1. The Linesmen (or Referees Assistants to be PC) I thought had a decent game to be fair. The Ref however was so far out of his depth it was cringeworthy along with the use of VAR. As its supposedly the best in the World the same should apply to the Officials.

      One of my main beefs is poor refereeing and even the Championship Refs that we are subjected to at the Riverside are light years ahead of last nights nervous, dithering whistler.

      1. Couldn’t disagree with you more RR. I think the refereeing with one or two exceptions has been excellent. It has contributed to fast free flowing football without the interminable halts in play we get over here.

      2. GHW

        My angst was in relation to the Referee for England v. Columbia only. In general I agree the Refereeing in the Tournament has been better than the norm. I think the way I structured my statement wasn’t very clear.

    2. Exmill

      We got lucky having a complete team of officials from countries which believe in the power of the referee, as opposed to the power of the mob.
      Those players were out of control, and could and would have happily had the game abandoned by their behaviour.
      All it needed was a sending off, followed by a few wild challenges, followed by further sending off’s, and they would have lost it, big time.
      The England team were an immense help to the officials by their attitude and calmness throughout the whole affair.
      It must be a surreal experience to play in Columbia, and not for the faint hearted.

  128. Delighted for Southgate. England started well and were the better team for about 75 min. Then it was Colombia until the second half of extra time.

    Good that they got they mojo back for the final 15 min as that gave them momentum before the spot-kicks. As I said the final result was for Gareth.

    Sweden won’t be easy. Before the tournament they were considered to be last of their group. But the are a team and excellent in defending. Will be an interesting match.

    Congrats, Gareth. Boro legend. Up the Boro!

  129. I’m still far from convinced, last night Alli, Lingard and Sterling failed to create much if indeed anything. All three looked laboured and far from World Class. Winning set pieces and penalties against excitable, careless, reckless footballers from Countries hardly renowned for their footballing prowess is one thing but against better organised and more disciplined Europeans those opportunities will be less likely. Take away those cheap grappling Penalties and poor marking at set piece plays and we don’t create enough in open play.

    Alli didn’t look match fit and Loftus Cheeks should have played for me. Sterling has done nothing in Russia and Lingard flickers sporadically. To go all the way those three positions need to significantly up their game or Gareth needs to wield the axe. That said the ability to hang on in extra time, keeping calm in extreme provocation and then win the shoot out are all plus points.

    Good but can do better, much better!

    1. Sounds like Boro.

      And I agree with you with the three players you mention, RR. You can see Alli is currying an injury, cannot you?

      I am glad we have Gareth still to support in the tournament. Up the Boro!

    2. I don’t think there’s a career for you with The Samaritan’s RR. For a bunch of young lads they’re doing ok. A heck of a lot better than the Gerrard/Lampard/Rooney squads.

      1. Beat Tunisia and Panama, drew with Columbia and our second eleven lost to Belgium’s second eleven.

        Sometimes the luck of the draw works in teams favour and they have taken full advantage of it but it isn’t good enough just yet. Still massive room for improvement but Gareth has to learn that playing star players who are injured is a sure way to handicap any side (Ravanelli and a Cup Final comes immediately to mind) and that bringing on Dier handed the Colombians the initiative. There again if the introduction of Dier was with a penalty shoot out in mind then it was a masterstroke but I’m not convinced.

        They have done better than those whose ego’s over several decades thought they should been handed the World Cup on a silver platter but I think they (and Gareth) can up their game and do better still.

  130. As always, RR – stripping away the hype and calling it as it is even if the downbeat tone will put off many of those simply seeking to enjoy the moment.

    Fair play to you.

    The way I see it, one who weighs up the pros and cons after a period of reflection, say several weeks, months even, will have his or her views taken most seriously.

    While a club or country is in the midst of upwardly mobile momentum and “everyone” is happy, one is simply expected to forget it all and join the party.

    As I myself have done repeatedly – because I like to feel happy. Who wouldn’t? And it’s not that I’d made a mistake, more that I was so keen to enjoy the moment that I didn’t want anyone puncturing it. See also: Irish Public vs. Sir Eamon Of Dunphyville, 1990. Which remains the best example because of just how vilified he was.

  131. RR
    I think that the wrestling in the area has been extreme, and has abolished any chance of scoring from corners or free kicks.
    If teams can no longer do this then I think we will be the big beneficiaries. It is amazing that they were not sent off for the offence, ( we will forget that they mobbed the unfortunate ref and were outraged at the penalty)
    I started out thinking that the refs were cowards for not dismissing the offenders, but I changed my mind long ago, these people are uncontrollable, in a world of their own and the refs have my sympathy.

    1. One yellow swiftly followed up by a red would have sorted it very quickly. They smelled fear, weakness and anxiety and went for it. Calling the Columbian Captain over after 15 minutes and telling him that the next time he is “disrespected” and jostled there will be a straight red would have reasserted his authority.

      Amazing how they could play good football in the latter stages when they were approaching their 6th yellow.

      1. RR
        Your statement is very true.
        But to take one episode and examine it in depth will, I think tell us the true situation that the unfortunate ref’s are facing in this world cup.
        After the uproar that followed the rugby tackling of Kane earlier in the tournament, followed by the outlawing of the practice, then obviously no one was going to go that far I think we would all agree.
        Yet in the match, when push came to shove, they gave him a complete mugging, a tackle, followed by a leap on his back to force him, face down onto the ground ( All in slow mo)
        so far, so boring, yet what followed was very shocking.
        having noted it the ref booked the guilty player and awarded a penalty. Cue one ref getting surrounded by the entire team, pushed and shoved, abused, the penalty spot getting roughed up.
        All extremely disturbing ( remember this was an open and shut penalty)
        As outsiders looking in we could see that these people were out of control, all of them, trying to get the other team to swing a punch( and get sent off)
        The ref would not have been thanked by the powers that be had he dispatched the offender and started a mass brawl, or worse.
        I think that with the rules applied fairly from the word go, there would have been chaos, because these people do not even try to play to the rules. Rules are for the birds.
        It was noticeable that a few of our lads wanted to give them something to remember them by and had to be restrained by team mates.

  132. Have to agree with RR’s comments. We are short in many aspects but I was pleased that the cheating got its just reward and we finally won a penalty shoot out.

    1. I rarely watch any TV programmes live mainly because with my prostate problems I sometimes have to quickly answer the calls of nature several times in a comparatively short space of time thereby likely to miss part of a programme, so last night I recorded the match from 7.30 onwards and that worked very well as I skipped through the halftime interval, the adverts, and the interval before extra time. In fact by the end of the match I was only a few minutes behind schedule.

      However I also decided to try an experiment of watching the match without any commentary, as after all when one attends any sporting event, one sees it as it is and without somebody explaining who has passed to whom, who is taking a free kick, etc. It seemed to me at the time to be the perfect way to make ones own mind up of what was happening on the field of play. But of course with no volume, there is no atmosphere, so I did switch on the volume for the penalty shootout. I realise that a very high proportion of viewers enjoy commentaries and the views of so called experts, but I’m not a fan of all that chatter, especially listening to such inane comments when watching Super League particularly.

      However, it did get me thinking from my personal point of view, how wonderful it would be if there was an alternative way of watching sports events. Could it be possible to have a choice of watching a sporting event with or without commentary but still have the sound and atmosphere of a match? I think I already know the answer to that, but I can dream can’t I?

      1. Ken, at least my TV has an option of choosing different languages. By choosing the correct language setting on your TV, you might get just the noises from the ground but no commentary.

        In Finland I choose English on TV, I think, but of course it is a different language setting in the UK. Try Netherlands for example.

        Up the Boro!

  133. RR

    The best way for England to play is with plenty of movement. Easy to say from the comfort of a chair with a beer in hand, not so easy in sweltering conditions.

    Sterling is better in space rather than a congested midfield where he gets crowded out too often, same goes for Alli and Lingard.

    The difficulty is getting that space against niggly teams.

    Quarter finals are fine so far. We will have to up our game against the organised Swedes.

    The bottom half of the draw may not have big flair teams but those who have got this far deserve to be there.

  134. A great result for England last night against a team who made it very tough to play.
    I think critiquing how good the players were/weren’t last night misses the point.
    Footie is all about the emotion, we won, we won a penalty shoot out and we’ve made it to the last eight for the first time in four world cups.
    Sounds good to me.
    England are ranked 12th in the world against Columbia’s 16th, so hardly a mis-match and in my eyes a 50/50 before the game.
    England have now over-achieved in reaching the last eight , so for me this World Cup is already a success for England.
    Sweden next which will be another tough but winnable game.
    Overall I’ve seen some great games in this World Cup, but I haven’t seen any great teams.
    Brazil, Belgium, France & Croatia look the best of the bunch, but none are to be feared.

  135. Guillem Balague visited Derry a handful of years ago.

    He told me that the best time to write a football report was in the direct aftermath of the game – when one is most emotionally charged and has the match at the forefront of the mind.

    Since every time I’ve ranted, I’ve ended up looking foolish*, I prefer, more often than not, to take time, rationalise and be as objective as I can be.

    *Some have never forgiven me for it, never mind the passage of time that ought to allow for rational reflection.

    Appreciating something that’s good or a fine margin away from being good in the heat of the moment is different from looking back on it from a distance.

    That’s life.

  136. Len said it best post-Wembley 2015.

    “We (should) explore what went right and wrong during the season… (but) this is probably best done in a spirit of more mature reflection over the next couple of months, rather than as a knee-jerk response in the immediate wake of a somewhat dispiriting end to the season.”

    Which convinces me that Mr Keane’s complaints about Ireland would have been taken more seriously had he been less intense. Had he only acknowledged that it’s hardly right and fair to compare the FAI’s set up with Manchester United – one of the largest sporting empires on the plant – and just got on with it.

    The paradox is, were he less intense, he wouldn’t have achieved half as much as he did.

  137. Boro’s first home game of the season is now Tuesday 7 August 1945 hrs as the Shef Utd match has been moved from the 21st because the West Brom match was moved from Saturday 25th to Friday 24th for Sky TV.

    Unfortunately I have booked a surprise 60th birthday present for my girlfriend Rosemary of a trip to Budapest 6 – 9 Aug and will now miss the match.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Exmil

      Tell Rosemary to enjoy her Birthday and that you will tape the match for her to watch when she gets back!

      No need to thank me for that little gem of relationship bliss 🙂

  138. Just saw the photo of Gareth consoling the Colombian who missed the crucial spot kick last night. Top bloke. Class, you’ve either got it or you haven’t. To think that in some parallel universe England are led by “Captain, Leader, Legend” and all round oaf John Terry. Makes you shudder and appreciate Gareth even more.

    Ken – BBC offer three sound options on digital, TV commentary, 5 Live or none allowing you to listen to the crowd only. Well worth trying, particularly if Jonathan Pearce is on in my opinion.

  139. Everyone I have spoken to has the same view of the match, delighted that we won and disgusted with the Columbian anitcs.

    In a perverse way it was even better they equalised then lost on penalties, a sort of sadistic pleasure.

  140. As others have said, England will have to up their game on Saturday although Sweden will hopefully not be as physical and maybe give us a bit more room to play.

    I am sure that GS will have worked on a game plan and drilled the players into how to actually deliver it. He prepares well and clearly thinks about every aspect. The “love train” at corners is just one example to combat the rugby style of play that goes on. I would have thought that VAR would have put a stop to that by now although the officials appear very lenient to say the least.

    The key will be to create opportunities which I suspect will be harder in practice and for the midfield to create space for Kane to take advantage of.

    We will see what happens …… long as the media do not hype it up to warp level 500! We are in the quarter finals which is more than most of us Boro fans who are used to glorious let downs expect. I still have nightmares about the Cardiff debacle!!

  141. As things are getting a little more difficult for me health-wise and as I start on a new form of a controlled hormone drug of enzalutamide which will need fortnightly monitoring at James Cook, I may be incapacitated for awhile, so I thought I’d continue the history of Middlesbrough FC whilst time allows.

    Middlesbrough FC decided to return to professional status and made a successful application to join Division 2 of the newly extended Football League for the 1899/1900 season. This was only possible by the issue of £1,000 worth of shares, canvassing from prominent local nobilities such as the local MP Sir Joseph Pease and Lord Zetland, and the backing of Sunderland and Newcastle United. There had been nine nominations and Boro along with Chesterfield and Loughborough were the three successful applicants.

    To establish a competitive club in the Football League from a successful Northern League club was going to be tremendous task, and recruitment would need to be the key. Several Scottish players were among the 26 debutants in that first season supplementing the 13 players from the previous year. James McCracken was appointed captain and played in 33 of the 34 league matches, with only fellow winghalf Henry Allport making over 30 appearances.

    Boro started their League campaign on the 2nd September with a 0-3 defeat at Lincoln City but won their first match three weeks later 1-0 at home to the other Lincolnshire club Grimsby Town. Boro’s home form wasn’t too bad, winning four out of an unbeaten run of seven matches. These included an 8-1 win against Burton Swifts and the first League 🎩 for a Boro player, Joe Murphy who had featured in the two FA Amateur Cup Final successes. Boro’s nemesis though was a scarcity of goal scorers and the season ended with a mere 39 goals scored and 69 conceded. They failed to record a single away win and finished in 14th position out of 18.

    The following season saw only 5 players retained from the previous season with 20 new debutants. McCracken was gone and newcomer William Higgins appointed captain. Alex Wardrope, who had made his debut in the penultimate match of the previous season, was top scorer with eleven league goals in a much better season. Boro only lost twice at home, to Small Heath (Birmingham City) and Newton Heath (Man. Utd). They beat Gainsborough Trinity 9-2, won four away matches, and finished a creditable 6th. In the FA Cup they actually played nine times, five of them qualifying matches, and reached the 4th Round having beaten Newcastle United 3-1 and Kettering Town 5-0 before losing at home to West Bromwich Albion 0-1 before an estimated crowd of 20,000.

    The 1901/02 team showed another 10 debutants out of the 20 who played that season, but what a season it proved to be! By the 9th November Boro were in 2nd place having won 7 matches and lost 3 of their first 10. Those wins included 5-0 and 6-0 home wins over Doncaster Rovers and Newton Heath respectively, and a 3-0 away win at Woolwich Arsenal. Their first draw was in the 11th match and an eight match unbeaten run had Boro leading the pack by December. Two defeats followed, but then another 15 match unbeaten run ensured promotion in second place and four points behind the eventual Champions West Bromwich Albion.

    This 1901/02 season goes down as the second most prolific goalscoring season for matches played in the club’s history. As well as the matches previously mentioned Boro scored seven away to Barnsley and at home to Chesterfield, six at home to Stockport County, and five at home to Burton United, Glossop North End and Leicester Fosse. In one sequence of ten matches, Boro scored 37 goals and that included one goalless draw. Boro’s final statistics were as follows:-
    Home P. 17 Won 15 Drew 1 Lost 1 Goals 58-7 Pts.31
    Away P. 17 Won. 8 Drew 4 Lost 5 Goals 32-17 Pts.20

    In fact in points per game it exceeds the 1926/27 season – 1.5 as opposed to I.476, and the goal difference of plus 66 is 4 better than 1926/27 and 19 better than the 1973/74 season under Jack Charlton although that season is the highest for points per game of 1.547. All these statistics were based on the old format of 2 points for a win.

    On reflection then, the 1901/02 season might still be considered as the most remarkable in the history of the Boro when consideration is given to the turnover of players. Alex Wardrope scored another 10 goals, but newcomer Joe Cassidy scored 15, and Jack Brearley 22. Neither Wardrope nor Brearley were retained for Boro’s first season in the First Division, but Cassidy did play for the next two seasons.

    The next season started a period of 22 years in the top flight covering a period of 18 seasons either side of the First World War, and I hope to pick out the best of those in the current off-season if time permits.

    1. Good work Ken and all the very best with your new course of treatment. It’s just a thought but there must be some old pictures somewhere that would go with your research and archival work. Either way all the best to you and I’m looking forward to reading more of your histories.

      Best wishes,



  142. Listening to Mark Halsey ( former referee) on the radio today. Another fact about VAR I was unaware of is that, if a player gets in the referees face and makes the VAR viewing sign, then the referee is supposed to give him an immediate Yellow Card. There is so much that players/pundits don’t know it’s about time there was a definitive guide that is mandatory for all concerned to read.

  143. Well for two pennies worth, I thought the Ref did OK in the circumstances.

    I also agree with RR though, in that a yellow followed by a red would sort things out. Problem is in reality, we do not know what is said the Refs before the games, and if said Ref did give the yellow/red, that would probably be his career finished, with FIFA anyway.

    Still cannot fathom 33 year old Young getting a game (unless as an older head amongst the young-uns)……but have to agree, Sterling, Walker and Lingard have contributed NADA. We have one player in Gareth’s system it has to be said, that passes the ball and that is of course Henderson. That is the system and that is its weakness.

    Still, Germany and many others would swop places with England.

  144. Looks like a fellow Scot has helped England !……Allan Russell Attacking coach
    Southgate has credited Russell, a Scot who enjoyed a nomadic career in the lower leagues, with England’s new-found prowess at attacking set plays, having taken him on to his staff a year ago. Russell experienced positional specialist coaching during his time in the US with Carolina RailHawks and Orange County Blues, and works with the players on finishing, movement and penalties, aiming to give them an edge.

    1. Definitely a major strong point with the England team and one that I am certain we will see replicated all over the Country in a few weeks time with Rudy Gestede becoming Boro’s Harry Kane!

  145. On the Transfer front I see the links with Bristol City’s Joe Bryan continue in the media. Its a strange one this as I can’t see TP considering a 5ft 7″ full back even if he switches to a back three.

    On Adama, Villa have a 20% sell on stake on him supposedly. Now is it 20% of the “profit” or 20% full stop? If Adama went for the “rumoured” and as yet unconfirmed by the Club £18M it would only leave Boro with around £14.5M for the sprinter. To conflict that there are media stories coming out today from him on team bonding and unity (Britt’s alleged bust up aside obviously) implying that he has little thought of leaving.

    It was also rumoured elsewhere that AA has secretly flown to Austria this for clandestine meetings with Boro officials over a Veal Wiener Schnitzel followed by Kaiserschmarrn. I think we can take from all the above that nobody really knows anything and that Boro news is pretty sparse at the minute.

  146. Boro will play Sturm Graz in a friendly (6pm UK). Any hope Boro will show the first friendly on tomorrow? iFollow?

    Has anyone visited Sturm Graz site to see if the match in on there? I paid a visit to and there is a TV column with a marking. Hopefully the match can be seen there. Generally the German clubs are more advanced in the IT technology than their UK counterparts.

    Hope to see Boro. Up the Boro!

  147. First of all, thanks to those wishing me well. I’m just waiting now to hear from my consultant when the new treatment is to start, hopefully the sooner the better. In the meantime I’m still keeping up to date with the views of the Gazette reporters, but more pertinently the views of contributors to this forum.

    Like most Boro fans I’d like Traore to stay with Boro and hopefully extend his contract if Boro get promoted this season. I can understand Anthony Vickers giving his reasons why it would be better for Traore to stay with Boro for after all AV is a fan as well as a journalist, but I’m afraid I don’t personally find his reasons compelling. Tony Pulis has done a good job in coaching the lad, but I think there are probably more technical coaches with Premier League clubs, and certainly in Europe, who would be greater for his future development.

    On the subject of football kits, the white band on Boro shirts has always been popular with fans especially since the Jack Charlton era. I think it looks reasonably smart and admit it does make Boro different from other red-shirted clubs, but I’ve always had a preference for the pencil-thin white vertical stripe on a red background similar to Liverpool several years ago, although I think their stripes were yellow.

    There was no mention in the Gazette article about Villa’s kit, but I’ve always considered a combination of claret and sky blue as a favourite amongst other clubs, and it always looks better at Villa than either at West Ham or Burnley. The combination of red and blue looks splendid on Barcelona shirts, and Crystal Palace in recent years have also, in my opinion, done a good job in combining those colours.

    I always thought that if a team wore yellow shirts, then green shorts was the obvious combination, never black. Norwich City have always used those colours, but sometimes in bizarre patterns, and this season’s strip looks particularly unattractive. Yet I thought last season’s shirt was one of their best, but this season’s, urgh.

    Finally my thoughts of England’s World Cup campaign, and although our record against the Swedes is pretty poor (only 2 wins in the last 15 encounters), those 2 wins occurred in the last 3 meetings, and I think playing European countries as opposed to South or Latin American countries is preferable. I endorse the comments made by several bloggers of Gareth Southgate. He’s doing a fine job so far, and a compassionate man to boot. Although born in Watford, I think we can claim him as one of our own. It’s a pity that things didn’t work out for him as our manager!

  148. Ken, I wish you well with your treatment and hope that you can improve. Your research skills are much appreciated.

    My take is that Gareth was appointed too early and he is showing what his ability really is as a coach and man manager.

  149. I kind of liked our 2015-16 promotion kit with the thin red stripes, but also had a soft spot for the 2014-15 diagonal model – once I warmed to it. The away model of 2014-15 was more interesting than the yellow kit of 2015-16, no question.

    My favourite Boro kit – that of 2006-07 – *had* the white band and we had a nice white and blue away kit too. Despite 2017-18’s models being almost completely the same something put me off about them. Was it the slightly darker blues or the giant RAMSDENS CURRENCY? You decide.

    2016-17, need I say it, was the ultimate faux pas even though the away model wasn’t too bad. Similarly, even though we had a half decent “Inter Milan” away kit in 2008-09, the way the band was designed on the home model was off-putting.

    For some reason I didn’t mind adidas’s first attempt at all – the bright red 2009-10 model with a sky blue alternative for away matches.

    The blandest away kit, if not necessarily the worst, was the horrible beige striped and shorted white model of 2007-08. I was much happier with the blue of 2005-06.

  150. It sounds racist but it isn’t. South American footballers do seem to have a totally different view of what is acceptable on the pitch to ourselves.

  151. SSN – sources reporting TP wants to bring James Morrison back to the Riverside. I hope it is just paper talk. I have nothing against JM who has had his time at the club but he is not what we need now.

    The midfield is pedestrian enough as it is without adding another 30+ year old. He may be out of contract but I fail to see how he is an upgrade or adds value to the team.

    1. Perma crock for most of last season, aged and over the hill, big Premiership salary expectations, whats not to like?

      A fit 28 year old Morrison would perhaps be a gamble worth taking but my view is no risks and no passengers so its a huge no from me. His time has been and gone sadly. If we are looking at old and experienced I’d rather sign Grabban and move Gestede and Fletcher out to pay for him.

  152. Apparently the friendly tonight v Sturm Graz is being streamed live on their Facebook page and some betting sites, ko at 6 UK time.

    Come on BORO.

    1. If it goes ahead! E.G. Reporting that it is stair rods with hailstones and pitch may not cope with adverse conditions so may not proceed!

  153. Watching the Irish Open Golf from Ballyliffin, Donegal and in the crowd behind the 8th tee as Rory drives as plain as day is a youngish lad wearing the new Boro shirt. These Boro fans seem to be getting everywhere; just thought you’d like to know, Simon.

      1. I live behind the peterboro ground and saw a boro shirted workman walking across the bridge to another site.Apparently theres a boro supporting landlord in Stamford. Were all over.

  154. Something I’d like to share.

    Reuben Dangoor’s “Redemption”, which can be viewed here:

    It’s already sold out. I got a tingle looking at it – what an example of how a generation’s worth of experience transforms one for the better and sets an example for many.

    As Churchill said, success is not final, but failure’s not fatal. The courage to continue counts.

  155. OFB, about Ayala not being in Austria. You probably saw AV’s answer ro me on Twitter :

    “He’s got a slight calf tweak. They didn’t think it would be a good idea to make him run up mountains.”

    Ayala would have been the first person to benefit from the mountains during a season. Pity he is a bit crocked already now. A great player but might loose his shirt if not fit. Fry and the ex-Bristol guy are ready.

    Up the Boro!

    1. And this is why AK brought in Kalas, and later Chambers.

      Ayala, on his best days, is a man mountain, and a likable family man online – but his injury history, at least back then, meant you couldn’t rely on his fitness to be consistent.

  156. I did some reading recently. Might find its way into a future Talking Point.

    What separates true leaders from fake leaders? Or good captains from lesser captains?

    The lesser leaders tend not to be able to handle criticism. They’ve been given the armband, or privilege, which inflates anyone’s pride and ego – anyone’s – and get used to enjoying having everything their way.

    Meaning that when a “dissenter” pipes up, they’re not prepared to handle it.

    To deal with it, they try to avoid disagreement, sidestepping conflict for fear of the deadly “No”. This leads to insecurity and a greater focus on protecting what they have rather than striving for more.

    At worse, they become surrounded by yes men. All very reassuring for the ego in the short-term. Unlike the criticism that stings in the moment but can be invaluable in the long-term.

    It reminds me of that great moment in Spider-Man: Homecoming where Tony Stark tells the titular hero: “If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it”.

    A kicker of a line – but one that ultimately triggered Peter’s redemption nonetheless.

    The suit, or the armband in a captain’s case, doesn’t define a leader. The leader should define the suit. Make it his own.

  157. As a bonus… the line-up for the Graz game.

    Randolph, Shotton, Fry, Flint, Friend, Clayton, Howson, McNair, Adama, Bamford, Gestede.

    Subs: Dimi, Fabio, De Sart, Leadbitter, Wing, Tavernier, Downing, Johnson, Fletcher.

    We’ll see how they do. But where are Gibson and Adama?

    1. Gah! Should have said, “where is Gibson”. Saw a clip of Gibson and Adama chuckling in response to the line-up tweeted and didn’t entirely think through my post.

  158. I hadn’t realised until today that Ayala had thrown his first “sicky” before the season has even started. Does not bode well, or am I being harsh?

  159. Steely

    Ayala is getting in early to avoid the rush. With the Germans being out of the world cup he probably wanted to get his towel on a bed sharpish.

  160. Boro go in 1-0 down at half time after a very disconnected first half. Gestede up front with little service, Adama back to his wayward best, Midfield looking second best and a soft goal conceded via a cross from our left side into the box which was easily headed home unopposed just before the break.

    Most interesting perhaps is that we are playing with a back three with Fry on the Right, Flint in the Centre and Shotton on the Left. George is playing as a wide player out on the left.

    Second half here:

    1. And 1-0 it ended with a multi set of substitutions and a formation shuffle just a few minutes into the second half. Our second string it has to be said however looked better than the first eleven in the opening 45 minutes.

      Fabio, Tav and Johnson were my pick of the second half with Shotton winning everything in the air defensively. Fabio overall was the stand out player for me and showed real zest and energy whilst everyone else just seemed happy to get a bit of a run out. Nothing to really gain or judge from it other than a bit of fitness perhaps but I would really struggle to call it “match” fitness in the truer sense of the word.

  161. Watching the game, the squad is fine ,except its crying out for a number ten, a player that can boss the play get into the gaps and create, we need two ,one for back up.
    Who or where I don’t know, I’d even sign Tomlin as back up.

  162. We need a really experienced player who has an eye for a pass and can get into the box to score a few. He doesn’t need to cover back the whole time but instead just play as the link man between the defence and attack. Sound familiar? Bobby Murdoch anyone?

    Frankly, I reckon Morrison could do this.


    1. Not a bad call Selwynoz. As you pointed out, Bobby Murdoch provided an experienced head and that was not the it time we have followed that route to success… Paul Mersin made the difference for us another time. So, let’s all not write off having the right older player pulling some strings for us

    2. I had hoped at the time that Downing could do that, play a few clever passes through to the Striker/s, link up between defence and attack and chip in with a few goals.

      We had one isolated hopelessly outnumbered Striker, sideways cross-field passing following instructions and as for a few goals well his ability to take a free kick or shooting from outside the box are now distant memories. In fairness to Stewy he doesn’t have an injury ravaged history so thats a positive.

      A fit Morrison who can pull strings would be interesting but there again so would a return for Merson my only concern there would be that Merson currently is probably the fitter of the two.

  163. Morrison has been an average lower Premiership footballer most of his career. I don’t see anything that suggests he is now going to improve at his age and with his medical record.There are younger and hungrier out there that will cost more than a free but likely work out the same or less with lower wage expectations. The difference is they will be fitter, available for two games a week and ultimately have a resale value.

    Downing played at a much higher level in the game and still has something left in his slowly draining tank but we can’t afford the luxury of two over the hill players. The lessons of Ray Parlour to name but one should be well and truly learned. We would be signing the James Morrison of 2018 not the James Morrison of 2014, its only a few years but massive in footballing terms.

  164. According to the Echo Ben Gibson has been in Austria with the Middlesbrough squad but missed the friendly defeat to Sturm Graz with a slight injury.

    Adama Traore figure in that game but his future remains unclear.

    Middlesbrough do not want to lose the Spaniard but their hand could be forced if a club offers the release clause in his contract, which is speculated to be around the £18 m mark.

    S it looks like everything like normal on the transfer front. Up the Boro!

  165. On the Boro vs Sturm Graz match report on they inform us that Harry Chapman, Ben Gibson and Britt Assombalonga missed out due to minor niggles, Dani Ayala was back at Rockliffe Park to receive treatment on a calf problem. Up the Boro!

  166. I see MFC have “resolved” their problem with Birmingham over the backroom staff.
    Well, at least we’ve avoided public humiliation but there’s going to be a tetchy atmosphere when they tip up at the Riverside, no doubt.

  167. Watched the match on YouTube last night and as TP said before the match the result was not important, it was all about getting match time into the legs and coming away without injuries.

    One consideration to be taken into account for each team:

    MFC: Up since 5:30 a hard run followed by a bike ride, then a 3 hour coach journey for their first pre season friendly.

    Sturm Graz: Playing their fourth pre season friendly as they build up for their Champions League qualifying round, after being runners up in their top league.

    All in all, everyone who travelled got game time, yes it was rusty at times but at this stage, after a gruelling boot camp, it was no worse than to be expected. The rest of our 5 pre season matches, the results are not important until the 6th and final match against Sunderland. Not because of who we are playing but more that it should be the team TP is going to start at Millwall with and the trials/experiments should be over.

    Come on BORO.

  168. Downing has always been useful and very, very good – but how often, even in the McClaren and Southgate years, has he been a “magic man”?

    He’s a good player to have when on his game, I’ve just always had my doubts about building the attack around him. Less consistent but more unpredictable players are better suited for the No. 10 role.

    During the Karanka years the beleaguered Basque was often criticised for having no attacking options once the “magic No. 10” ran out of steam, was off his game or was man-marked. Certainly true of Tomlin (could be magical, but unreliable), Vossen (ditto), Fabbrini (ditto) and Gaston (more reliable than the others, but once he had his head turned, that was it).

    Adama, I’m still scratching my head over. Most exciting player we’ve had in years, but I fear his inconsistency, his size *and* the team’s over-reliance on him can make it easy for opposition sides to nullify our threats.

    I used to say starting Kike up front at Wembley would have made a difference. On reflection I’m not so sure. Norwich’s success was built on quickly knocking our confidence flat with a one-two punch and cutting off our supply to any forward that was there.

    But this is a Boro thing. Going back years. Alan Foggon wasn’t our *sole* threat under Big Jack, but his ability to race through and score after the ball was played back into midfield was central to his early success. That came to a halt when opposition centre backs caught on and closed down the space for Foggon.

    In everyone’s “favourite season”, 1996-97, we looked red hot and unstoppable until Emerson’s settling in problems came to the fore and Southampton wised up to Juninho being pivotal to our attack. If your magic men aren’t in the mood and you’re leaking goals direct from corners, you know something’s up.

    There’s also the “too many cooks” or “wrong partner” argument. Did Barmby and Juninho, for example, play better alongside Hignett than with each other?

    I’m convinced this is why Robbo and McClaren’s formations were relatively flat when they beat the fifty points mark. They, like Senor Karanka, were the kind that thrived with the dependable rather than the erratic.

  169. Interesting reading the Gazette’s take on the match. They saw it as a back four with Fry at RB, Flint at RCB, Shotton at LCB and Friend at LB in the first half. What I saw (camera angle permitting) was a back three tucked in close together with Friend slightly forward and on the left touchline most of the time during the first half detached from the other three.

    In the second half after the substitutions I would say it was more of a conventional back four but with Fabio getting down the flank. I hope TP see’s Fabio as more than just a diminutive full back as for me he offers a creative threat and I would be happy if his lack of inches saw him deployed as a right or left sided wideman/winger/midfielder.

      1. Still convinced what I witnessed was a back three, either that or they had fallen out with George and left on his own. Perhaps Fry was just uncomfortable at RB and kept drifting back into a CB position by default.

  170. I ask myself: how many of the Ayala-Gibson-Friend-Leadbitter-Clayton spine will still be around at the start of next season?

    We’ve been frequently reliant on them for years. The attempt to move some of them on in 2016-17 was, frankly, admirable – every spine needs freshening up.

    Alas, the manner of the “freshening” wasn’t carried out particular competently. Nor was it appreciated.

    Then again, Nsue needed a year to find his feet…

  171. Because of his height, I guess that Fabio will not feature in a Pulis back four (although he wins headers against much taller opposition) but, like RR, I hope Pulis recognises his qualities as a creative player and keeps hold of him.

    1. I have no idea how he does it but we have all witnessed Fabio regularly win headers that he has absolutely no right to win. He is confident on the ball, never shirks a tackle (sometimes too aggressively) and has a desire to drive forward. If I recall correctly he started out as a Midfielder and maybe that is his true calling. If so I hope TP can see the wood for the trees, the ball winning midfield terrier who sets up attacks and is confident dribbling is maybe sat under our noses.

  172. I see that Southampton are enquiring about Borrusia Monchengladback’s Jannick Vestergaard to finally replace Virgil van Dijk. No big deal I suppose but the Gazette have a 2 million Euro figure on him which I’m guessing is a typo and should perhaps be 20 million Euros. The lad is 25 years old, a Danish International (yep we’ve had a few of them I hear everyone think) 6ft 7″ and seems fairly decent hence the reason why they have lost interest in Ben Gibson.

    If Southampton can track down a 6ft 7″ CB with International and Bundesliga experience (3 goals in around 32 appearances last season) for €2m (which I’m still doubting) it questions our scouting network especially considering that the Saints seem to be very good at it (just ask Liverpool) indeed. I still think Flint was a decent signing for us by the way but if the figures are correct it does beg a question.

    Now that brings me to another connected thought with Jack Stephens. The lads career had loads of potential once upon a time but has somewhat shrivelled up of late. Is he worth a cheeky punt considering that Pulis IMHO is just the sort of Manager to get the lad back on track and perhaps at a knock down bargain price?

  173. Forest are closing in on Grabban allegedly for £6M, seems a bargain despite his age at this level as he scores wherever he goes. Especially when you consider our spending of late at or near that amount for a similar role.

  174. I see Birmingham, Swansea, Forest, Leeds etc are all being linked with Britt Assombalonga. I don’t particularly want to see him leave but do accept that languidity is not a Pulis trait and that goals in a Pulis type set up may be harder to come by and not be enough to save him.

    What is interesting is how those clubs would afford him with the exception of Swansea and how on earth speculation linking him to those clubs ever seen the light of day. I can’t see SG sanctioning a huge hit especially bearing in mind that hits are to be expected on Fletcher, Braithwaite and Gestede (assuming that a non-scoring technically limited big lad isn’t a good Pulis fit either). Those last three combined may just about cover the expenditure on Flint and McNair. At some point the Club needs to value its assets for its financial affairs, spending big and selling low isn’t a good way to prepare for the possibility of FFP at some future point. Of course there is always the Villa model of head in the sand accountancy.

    1. Has the value of Braithwaite gone down as he played in French league (again) and started a game in the last 16 in the World Cup? I think we did well in selling most of the players we did last summer.

      Otherwise I agree with RR as ever. Up the Boro!

  175. MFC and BC FC have settled their court case over GM’s backroom staff. It’s a bit like one of our player transfers the terms are undisclosed and covered by a confidentiality agreement!

    Played golf today at my local course La Finca today to find the tractor boys (Ipswich Town) have taken up residence and making use of the attached training facilities. There were some very big guys in the squad so I can now understand a little bit more about the physicality of the Championship. Just hope our big uns are bigger than their big uns!

  176. All European World Cup.

    Interesting listening about Klingsman and Shearer discussing penalty decisions and diving. kettle black etc. To be fair they made fair points.

  177. Wondering about Connor Ripley as Dimi played in the second half in Austria. Is he likely to go out on loan again or will he be sold?

  178. I hope that this paper talk of TP being still interested in perma crock Morrison is just that… air.

    Whilst Flint and McNair be turn out to be decent signings, unless we buy a high level forward passing thinking midfielder, we will struggle just like last season.

  179. I’m with you on that Pedro. I hope we see some movement on the creative midfielder and striker front soon.
    At the moment, I am not champing at the bit for the season to start, which I normally am at this time of year. Is it Football fatigue?

  180. As you know I love football history and statistics, but they are irrelevant in assessing what might happen today. Pre-War England rarely lost to foreign opposition as 7 successive wins against Germany being one notable example, so in my opinion past results against Sweden should have no bearing on today’s match. Nevertheless I’ve broken down England’s past encounters with Sweden as follows:-

    1923-1968 Pld 9 Won 6 Drew 1 Lost 2 Goals 23-13
    1979-2006 Pld12 Won 0 Drew 8 Lost 4 Goals 9-13
    2011-2012 Pld 3 Won 2 Drew 0 Lost 1 Goals 6-6
    Total to date Pld 24 Won 8 Drew 9 Lost 7 Goals 38-32

    A long 12 match run from 1979 when Sweden seemed to be England’s bogey team if one believes in bogey teams. The last encounter was in Stockholm in 2012 when Zlatan
    Ibrahimovic scored that outrageous overhead kick in a 4-2 home win. Normally recent encounters might possibly be a slight guide, but as the two teams haven’t met for nearly six years, the current form of both countries is perhaps the only criterion. It’s true that Sweden eliminated Holland in their qualifying group, and also beat Italy in the playoffs, but conceding that late winner to 10 man Germany would have irked them, but credit to them in beating both Mexico 3-0 and Switzerland 1-0 (not 2-0 as stated in the BBC article I read this morning) since then. It’s difficult to conclude anything from England’s defeat against Belgium as both teams had qualified comfortably with identical records.

    Sweden’s current World ranking of 24th will be enhanced whether they win or lose today, but I’m sure Gareth Southgate and his players won’t underestimate them, and I think England will win in a tight game.

  181. Watching Belgium yesterday every player was up for the task and put in 8/10 or 9/10 performances in the first half bar none. Second half they tired but dug in, scrapped and held on.

    The lesson for me from that is that this afternoon we cannot afford at this stage of the tournament to be carrying Players that are not 100% fit and Players that are not putting in at least an 8/10 performance. Sweden are not Brazil but they have arrived here on merit and they will be formidable opposition and more than capable of winning should the opportunities be presented.

    Today if selected Sterling, Lingard and Alli have to be at the top of their game others like Walker and Henderson need to up their game.

  182. RR, whilst we have done reasonably well to be where we are, there are a number of players that have not really performed. Your three plus Young have not excelled at all.

    Prehaps that is just their level. Average.

  183. The football has been fairly dull but 1-0 to England.

    Probably the best thing for neutrals watching. The first half hour saw two banks of four with Sweden intent on breaking. England without real guile to get between the lines.

  184. Gareth said before the match that Bradley Lowery would be in the players thoughts, and how he would have loved to see two of his former Sunderland heroes playing for England, especially Jordan Pickford who has been magnificent.

  185. A pleasure to see a match played out with tackling but no underhand tactics. I must admit I thought it would be played like that.

    And I am flying out before England fly home. And Hamilton on pole, England ladies on top against new Zealand.

  186. I thought Maguire stood out again (I seem to recall a debate on here or I should say on “Untypical Boro” a while back when Boro where linked with him a couple of seasons back), just look at the lad now! Still at least we were blessed with Espinosa so it wasn’t all bad.

    Young and Pickford also caught my eye and had great games. Henderson to me had probably his best game for England. Trippier was steady but less influential than of late. Alli was hot and cold but maybe his goal might boost his confidence, Sterling ran a lot more and got involved but his finishing and final ball was awful, better but still off the standard required. Lingard was busy and ran and chased but no magic from him as yet. Kane was perhaps understated compared to his recent goal scoring heroics but played well and with organisation and direction.

    Two games from the ultimate victory, it will be interesting to watch the forthcoming opponents tonight and see who goes through.

  187. Well 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 gained a second win over 🇸🇪 tonight as England’s Tai Woffinden extended his lead over Sweden’s Fredrik Lindgren to 11 in the Swedish Speedway Grand Prix in Hallstavik.

  188. Agree with your assessment there RR, although not a fan of Young, thought he had a better game.
    Yes Maguire was excellent, but did lose his man for the shot that Pickford tipped over the bar.

    Interestingly, Ido not think the Swedish goalkeeper actually made a save in the match. Of course if Pickford had not made a save we would of lost 3-2.

  189. We’re in the height of the summer now but football dominates the scene because of England’s unexpected World Cup journey. Even people who generally have no interest in football seem to have caught the bug, and in some ways I feel sorry for devotees of the usual summer sports who might think that football is raining on their parade. Of course the BBC still does its best with its love fest for tennis and Wimbledon in particular, but one has to rely on Sky Sports TV for coverage of what one might call the traditional summers sports. The Open Golf Championship starts at Carnoustie (love the sound of that word ‘Carnoustie’) in 11 days time, and the Cricket Test series against India also soon starts. Super League, perhaps historically not a summer sport, is also reaching an interesting part of the season with still more than three months remaining before its conclusion.

    But where does that leave football? Well perhaps those who maybe had fallen out of love with the game have had that love reinvigorated because of the World Cup. I myself needed a rest from football if only to have my passion for it to be aroused for the start of the new season, and to some extent with holidays, etc I’ve enjoyed that rest by hardly watching any World Cup football. But England have either extended the close season, or acted as a prologue to the coming season depending on one’s perspective. But what it has also meant is a comparatively quiet transfer window with rather more speculation, than actual activity. In some respects I feel sorry for the Gazette reporters who have little Boro news to report on and are thus often recycling old news in an attempt to keep readers interested. Even this forum is probably waiting for more interviews from OFB as very little news is emanating from the Boro website or the Gazette. So with that in mind, and as my new cancer treatment doesn’t start till Friday, I thought perhaps I may continue the history of Middlesbrough FC up to the First World War whilst time permits.

    Boro had done remarkably well to get promotion to the First Division in such a short period, but could they become a force in English football? To start with there would have to be a large clear out of the existing playing staff before the signing of their targets, and with that in mind, no fewer than 18 players were put on the transfer list at fees ranging from £10 to £75. Boro made bids varying from £100 to £150 for several of their targets but were often outbid. Nevertheless Boro did spend a combined total of £400 on five players including two strikers – Jack Brearley and Joe Cassidy. Boro actually won both of their opening two matches 1-0 away to Blackburn Rovers and at home to Everton. In fact they won 5 and lost only 3 of their first 9 matches which saw them in 6th position. Then came a run of 6 defeats and 2 draws in the next 8 games and a position of 15th. They eventually finished 13th but never in danger of relegation. However the most everlasting memory of the season the was the emergence of Reginald Garnet ‘Tiny Tim’ Williamson as Boro’s regular goalkeeper who, after making his debut in the penultimate game of the previous season, didn’t make his third appearance until 3rd January. Williamson was given the nickname of ‘Tiny’ because at 5 foot 10 inches he was considered as a giant of a man at that time. As we all now know Williamson made a club record of 603 league and cup appearances for the Boro and would probably have reached 750 if the First World War hadn’t intervened. He won 7 England caps and I’m proud to say that like myself he was an Old Coathamian having attended Sir William Turner’s School, but unlike me played for Redcar Crusaders, the team I used to cycle to watch when I was a schoolboy.

    The following season Boro moved to Ayresome Park and an estimated crowd of 30,000 saw the opening fixture against Sunderland. Joe Cassidy had given Boro a 1-0 half time lead, but unfortunately eventually lost 2-3. Despite failing to win an away game that season (9 draws, 8 defeats) and losing twice to both Sunderland and Newcastle United, Boro finished a creditable 10th and did manage away wins in the FA Cup at Millwall and Preston North End which meant a Quarterfinal tie away to Manchester City. Boro drew that match 0-0 and, having already beaten City 6-0 in the league in October, I imagine expectations were probably high that they would reach their first Semifinal. But before an estimated record breaking crowd of 33,000 typically Boro lost the replay 1-3. The galling thing was that City went on to win the FA Cup that year by beating Bolton Wanderers 1-0 at the old Crystal Palace ground.

    The 1904/05 season didn’t start well. By February Boro had only won 4 matches and were 17th out of the 18 clubs and relegation looked almost certain. Then Boro caused controversy by paying the first £1,000 fee for Alf Common. Boro had unsuccessfully tried to buy Common from Sheffield United two years previously for £400, but eventually Sunderland offered £510 and their bid proved successful. Now of course Boro were desperate and their £1,000 bid was not only successful but outraged the footballing fraternity. Questions were even asked in Parliament about the ‘immortality’ of a football club trying to buy survival – one comment being that the honourable thing to do was to accept relegation gracefully. Alf Common made his debut on the 25th
    February away to Sheffield United and converted the penalty that gave Boro their first away win of the season 1-0. A run of 4 wins in 5 matches with Common scoring a further 3 times saw Boro eventually safe with 26 points in 15th place. Along with Henry Astley and Harold Atherton, Alf Common was joint top scorer for Boro with a mere 4 goals each, but I hasten to suggest that Common’s 4 were the most valuable.

    Jack Robson was replaced as manager by Alex Mackie before the start of the 1905/06 season. He only lasted one season but what a

  190. Espinosa was a combination of not fully fit and a confidence player. Convinced that the quick one-two punch of Martial and Pogba shattered what confidence he had. Gaston then missed a golden chance vs Leicester, had his head turned, and you know the rest.

  191. I’ll keep the quote of the day simple.

    “I have a pattern of play in mind… and I pick the best players to fit the pattern. I don’t necessarily always pick the best players, Jack.”

    – Sir Alf Ramsey, to Jack Charlton. Later that year England won the World Cup.

    Funny how “controllers” who fit players into “systems” are so easily dissed. The paradox is they tend to win more than idealists.

    1. That would need to be dependant upon said controllers system being effective under the prevailing circumstances. When they don’t provide the desired outcome they get dissed just like the idealists.

  192. Good news that the young Thai footballers are coming out. Apparently they were bringing the weakest out first so that is very promising indeed.

  193. Sorry, I pressed the wrong button. But to continue:-

    Alex Mackie only lasted one season, but what a controversial year that was! Boro were in deep relegation trouble for almost the entire season. Their away record again was appalling with no wins and only 7 draws from 19 matches in the Division now extended to 20 clubs. Having suffered heavy defeats to Liverpool 1-5 and 1-6 plus a 0-7 drubbing on Boxing Day away to Birmingham City, relegation again looked a certainty with Boro having been second from bottom since Christmas. The main problem had been a porous defence, but the manager had decided that attack was the best form of defence and made an offer for Derby County’s superstar England international forward Steve Bloomer. Alf Common’s transfer had caused so much controversy that the FA warned that action might be taken in the future if such high transfer fees were forthcoming. Indeed the FA gave a guideline of £350 being the maximum it would expect. What that action might be was not revealed, but mindful of sanctions or whatever, Boro went ahead with the purchase of Bloomer at an agreed fee of £750. However by including the purchase of Jack Ratcliffe in the package at £350 and Bloomer at £400, the two clubs thought they might circumvent the ‘guidelines’. In fact Ratcliffe was merely a Derby reserve having only made some 16 appearances in 4 seasons. Although there seemed to be some ‘massaging’ of the transfer fees, the deals went ahead.

    Steve Bloomer made an instant hit with the Boro. They won their last 4 home games – Stoke City 5-0, Sunderland 2-1, Manchester City 6-1 and Arsenal 2-0. A 1-1 draw at Blackburn on the final day of the season ensured Boro escaped relegation on goal average over Nottingham Forest. Bloomer scored 6 goals in his 9 matches, whilst Common scored 8 in that same period finally finishing with 19 in his 36 matches. However Boro had also bought Billy Brawn for £600 from Aston Villa and the FA held an investigation to find out how a club like Middlesbrough with a record loss of £1,635 from the previous season could afford these transfer fees. Eventually the FA after perusing the club’s books several times thereafter, concluded that Boro were in such a financial mess having made so many illegal payments, that FA auditors became regular watchdogs of the club’s accounts. In the end the Boro Chairman, Lt.Col. Thomas Gibson-Poole paid off the club’s debts from his personal accounts. Disillusioned with football management Mackie resigned and became landlord of the ‘Star and Garter Hotel’ on Marton Road.

    Steve Bloomer served Boro well for the rest of the decade, scoring 59 goals in 125 appearances, until rejoining Derby County in 1910. Before joining Boro he had scored 238 goals in 375 appearances for Derby County, and after rejoining them a further 53 goals in 98 appearances – a colossal total of 350 goals in 598 appearances. He also scored 28 times for England in 23 appearances – probably the leading goalscorer of that era. In the 1906/07 he scored 18 times, and with Common contributing 12 goals plus another 12 from Fred Wilcox, Boro finished a comfortable 11th in the 1906/07 season although they didn’t record a win in the first eight matches and languished bottom of the table before the Christmas Day derby match with Sunderland which Boro won 2-1. Thereafter despite heavy defeats at Everton 1-5 and Newcastle 0-4, a 7 win sequence in 9 matches including a 5-3 home win over Woolwich Arsenal when Bloomer scored four, instigated a fine recovery.

    1907/08 provided Boro with their highest league position at the time. An average start of 4 wins, 2 draws and 4 defeats had Boro midtable, but then a spell of only 2 wins in the next 10 matches which included a 0-6 defeat at Aston Villa probably had the alarm bells ringing in 18th position. However from January onwards Boro registered 9 wins and 2 draws in their next 14 matches to eventually finish 6th with 41 points and only two points behind runners-up Aston Villa, although Champions Manchester United finished with 52 points.

    The 1908/09 season saw Boro make another bad start, for after beating Bradford City at home in their first match, Boro failed to win any of their next 8 matches. Bad starts seemed to have become a worrying trait for Boro, but for the third season running the second half of the season provided a recovery this time with a 9th place finish. There were some notable victories
    though with home wins against Nottm Forest 4-0, Manchester United 5-0, Leicester Fosse 6-2 and Bristol City 4-0. However for the second consecutive season Boro lost away to Notts County in the First Round of the FA Cup.

    The 1909/10 season saw the introduction of George Elliott, another in the great list of Boro strikers. However it was another relegation threatened season with Boro actually bottom of the table at the end of February. This time though Boro hadn’t started too badly, for despite losing their opening match at home to Sheffield United 0-2, they won 5-1 away to Sheffield Wednesday four days later and then thrashed Arsenal 5-2 at home. But that was as good as it got for most of the season. A 3-7 home defeat to Bradford City on Christmas Day was followed by a 1-4 reverse against the same opponents two days later. When Boro lost 0-5 at home to Bury on the 12th February they were bottom. They did recover to finish 17th but Jack Hall was the only player to score double figures with 12 goals, Steve Bloomer returned to Derby County after scoring 9, Alf Common’s contribution a mere 4 from 26 appearances and a young George Elliott also scored 4 from his 15 starts.

    The following season showed a reverse trend to previous seasons. Boro were in the top 3 by November and always in the top half of the table until the end of March and had even recorded two away victories – 2-1 at Manchester United and 2-0 at Arsenal. Admittedly they were the only away wins recorded that season interspersed amongst heavy defeats at Aston Villa 0-5, Blackburn Rovers 1-5 and Tottenham 2-6. But Boro took only one point from their last 8 matches and finished 16th.

    The following season 1911/12 Boro actually headed the table after 9 matches having scored 19 goals in accruing 13 points. They were still second before the Christmas Day home match with Everton. However with George Elliott taking on the mantle of chief goalscorer they were always competitive. Boro only lost twice at Ayresome Park that season – Arsenal 0-2 and Aston Villa 1-2 in consecutive matches having been unbeaten at home for 13 matches which included 8 wins. Boro finished with 40 points from their 38 matches, George Elliott scored 17 league goals and Samuel Cail 13 in his penultimate season.

    The 1912/13 season was a pretty consistent one for Boro – never higher than 12th, but never lower than 16th where in fact they actually finished. It could probably be described as a nondescript season although George Elliott scored 25 goals in all matches and Jackie Carr, having made his debut two years previously, scored 19 including a 🎩 in a FA Cup win against Millwall.

    The 1913/14 season started disastrously with Boro second from bottom by the end of November with only one win in the first 11 matches, and yet it finished with Boro finishing in 3rd spot on 43 points, one point behind Aston Villa although 8 behind eventual Champions Blackburn Rovers. It is the highest position Boro have ever finished in the top tier, and included an astonishing final 20 matches which included 14 wins and only 5 defeats. Having suffered a 0-6 reverse at Blackburn in September, Boro got their revenge against the Champions elect with an Elliott 🎩 trick in a 3-0 win in January. Boro’s only once failed to score at home (a goalless draw against Oldham Athletic) and their final total of 77 goals included 13 in their final 3 matches (home wins over Tottenham 6-0 and Liverpool 4-0 followed by a 3-1 away win at runners-up Villa). George Elliott scored 31 league goals in his 32 appearances, and Walter Tinsley 19 in his first season.

    The last season before the First World War started with hopes high that Boro might continue their good form and perhaps win their first First Division title. A defeat in the first match away to Sheffield Wednesday was followed by 3 wins, but then followed a sequence of one win plus 7 draws in the next 8 matches. An unbeaten run of 11 matches sounds okay, but as 7 had been draws Boro were only 6th by mid November. When they failed to win any of their next 5 matches hopes had faded and Boro finished the season in 12th position. Two particularly notable home matches occurred that season. On 13th February Boro defeated Tottenham 7-5 at home in which Walter Tinsley scored a 🎩 trick. On the 3rd April Boro led Oldham Athletic 4-1 when the visitors fullback Billy Cook was sent off after 55 minutes but refused to leave the field and the referee abandoned the match. However the result was confirmed and became the first Football League match in England where that happened. In fact Oldham finished runners-up to Everton and only one point behind. George Elliott went on to become Boro’s second leading goal scorer with 203 goals in 344 appearances and won 3 England International caps.

    To conclude, have you ever wondered when the animosity between Boro and Sunderland started? The Mackems along with Newcastle had supported Boro’s application to join the Football League in 1899 so relations between the two clubs was probably quite cordial until the end of the 1927/28 season when Boro lost their last game of the season 0-3 at home to Sunderland. Had Boro obtained a draw, Sunderland would have been relegated instead of Boro. At least relegation had been settled on the field of play, not so in the following tale.

    Now consider why Tottenham fans hate Arsenal. It was decided for the resumption of football in 1919/20 that the First Division would be increased from 20 clubs to 22. Derby County and Preston North End had finished in the top two positions in the Second Division and were to be promoted. Chelsea in 19th position and Tottenham in 20th position in the First Division were expected to retain their First Division status in the enlarged division. However at the League’s AGM, Spurs were not re-elected and Arsenal who had finished only 5th in the 1914/15 Second Division season were elected in their place and have remained in the top tier ever since.

  194. Touching on something Ken said, my long dormant enjoyment of watching England has been reinvigorated by my seven year old’s delight at experiencing his first World Cup. I was hugely cynical beforehand, but through his innocent enthusiasm, Gareth’s demeanour and the team’s effort and success, I’ve been having an unexpectedly great time.

    My son seems to believe a World Cup involves literal and metaphorical non-stop sunshine. ‘Wait the season starts’. I say, but only to myself.

    The only downside is he wants a footie kit with ‘Kane’ on the back. If we win he can have a England shirt. I may be an indulgent father, but you can only take it so far.

      1. Do not know why, but I prefer when England is playing in red shirts. And it comes from several years back and I don’t think it is because Boro play in red.

        Did they play in red more often in the 1970’s or 1980’s than now? Or perhaps it just was red shirts when I first saw them playing in a colour TV.

        Been great to follow England because of Gareth and his Boro contacts. And having met him once while he was still playing for Boro. And of course as there is not my country.

        Up the Boro!

  195. I think we already have the best two strikers we have ever had in the Champioship. We just need to utilise them.

    Now we are linked with a 28-year-old Welsh international Sam Vokes. He got just four goals last term in an injury dogged season but got 12 the season before and got 16 in 46 games in his last Championship campaign as he helped barge Burnley into the Premier League.

    Vokes has been linked with Boro before. Gareth Southgate wanted him at the start of the 2009 season. And also Karanka was rumoured to be interested while at Boro.

    Is he really better than what we have? Might be more like Pulis type player but his goal-scoring record is not that impressive compared to Bamford or Assombalonga at Boro.

    But I must add that I have’n’t seen Vokes playing much. Up the Boro!

    1. Fully agree Jarkko I don’t see anything in Vokes that is an upgrade on Britt. If the intention was to move Rudy Gestede on and replace him in the squad with Vokes (or Waghorn) that would make more sense to me but I don’t think that is the intended scenario.

      I notice that Ipswich and QPR are just two sides chasing Blackpool’s left footed CB Curtis Tilt for something rumoured to be around 500K to £1M. I haven’t seen much of him other than on brief clips but he seemed a decent CB and for that money (considering that a few other Championship clubs reckon he is OK for this level) might be worth considering for the bench. At 26 he has a few years of gritty lower league football under his belt (remember that Flint was playing for Swindon not that long ago). This is assuming of course that Ben does depart which isn’t certain of course.

      Leeds are being strongly tipped to land Vydra for £12M which indicates the sort of money top Strikers are going for at this level. I wonder where they will end up in regards to FFP and where the money is coming from. Considering where they have been for over a decade I’m sure their fans wouldn’t want a return to the dark days of yore any time soon as a result of spending beyond their means. That said I’m also sure they would love to be back in the Premiership as we all would. This season could be a very interesting Championship with Swansea having to move on a fair few of their squad, West Brom’s finances not the best, Villa having to sell off their assets and Bristol doing likewise and now Leeds and Forest rattling their sabres. The fact that Mel Morris wants to lower the wage bill and generate some cash to rejuvenate an ageing squad indicates that Derby may not be what they once were of late. An intriguing season awaits!

  196. Jarkko
    I must admit that I’m surprised that England aren’t playing in white. In hot conditions white deflects heat making it more comfortable to wear. Black was always thought to be the worst colour to wear as it absorbs heat. I can only give you two examples that occurred with Castleford Tigers in the past week. The normal away kit for Cas is black with orange trimmings. A week ago Cas were slaughtered 44-16 in temperatures of 30+ in Perpignan against Catalan Dragons whose home strip is predominantly white. I know we English are not used to extremely hot temperatures, but the Cas players looked jaded after 15 minutes.

    Yesterday Cas were home to Leeds Rhinos who played in their traditional colours of blue and amber. Castleford’s normal home kit is the reverse of their away kit, orange shirts with black trimmings to resemble their nickname of Tigers. However the coaching staff decided that Cas should play in their third choice shirts, predominantly white. The result was that Leeds having taken a 10-4 lead early on, looked jaded after 20 minutes and Cas were still comparatively fresh in the hottest day of the year. Cas eventually won easily 42-10.

    Of course Rugby is a physically tough contact sport so a lot of energy and perspiration is shed even in cold conditions, whereas football is usually played at a much slower tempo with occasional bursts of speed. Nevertheless the lighter the colour of shirt in hot conditions the more comfortable one feels. Of course in cold conditions black or dark colours are more effective. Just saying like.

  197. If Ben was staying, we still need a ful back, me thinks.

    Now that Barragan is gone, we only have Shotton, Friend and Fabio as full backs. And if Fabio or Ben left, we would have an bigger gab at the back.

    Up the Boro!

  198. Got to agree with RR and Jarrko in that I just do not see Sam Vokes as any better all round than we have now. He is 28 going on 29 later this year and as Jarrko pointed out, although we all know injuries are a gamble with players, he has had a recent history of them, so I cannot see that improving.

    In fact if we tried to move on Gestede, how much do you think we would get now? 3 or 4 mil at the most. If TP wants a real Pulis style number nine like the guy still at Newcastle, then you are talking 10+ at least for the right player.

    I am also concerned that if we spend biggish and do not get promotion then TP will be off and we will be stuck with his style of buys.

    Of course I am still hoping for the “spectacular” player(s) that OFB alluded to.

  199. Love the way this blog is now hypersensitive about the age of potential signings.
    It is something I have been boring on about for a long time.
    I notice that the rich clubs are quite paranoid about their recruitment policy, only dealing in lovely young players in the 19-20 age group, in addition, they trawl the lower leagues franticly just in case the unknown world beater is caught by a lesser club.
    To sum up, the attitude should be. They are no different to used cars, you have money ( limited) which will you buy? The spanking new model with no miles on the clock, or the well beat up model with a dicky transmission and faulty brakes.
    P S. The beat up model might tell you it’s going to the breakers yard within a year of buying it. It happens.
    Anyone who wants to quote the giant club who buy a superstar at thirty two, relax, they think he will win them one more league title before his legs give out. Arsenal always sell their players before they have their thirtieth birthday.

Leave a Reply