Boro players hoping to avoid another wobble this week

Championship 2018-19: Week 8

Wed 19 Sep – 19:45: Boro v Bolton
Sat 22 Sep – 15:00: Boro v Swansea

Werdermouth looks ahead to a Championship week with a Riverside double…

As many grandparents on Teesside waited somewhat impatiently for an end to the international break, they stared into a distant spot on the horizon with a twinkle in their eye, as they envisaged telling stories of a time when they remembered the long gone days of ‘Typical Boro’. The young and innocent question of “What was it like?” was in the end never asked as instead they were told to wake up and smell the coffee. Well unfortunately it’s still the greatest story never told after many a daydreaming Boro fan, young or old, felt a rude awakening as Carrow Road became the latest manifestation of the curse of missed opportunity. The same eleven men who had two weeks earlier looked purposeful and assured as they bossed an irresistible Leeds team on their own patch, contrived to give a disjointed ponderous display against a Canaries side looking for breathing space above the relegation zone.

There had been little to indicate that this new stable-looking team who had sent us into the break with a powerful solid showing against promotion pace-setters Leeds would in the end wobble at Norwich. Perhaps they thought they’d done the hard work and could expect an easier ride this time – the intensity that had been a feature of the 500-minute shut-out was more in the summer breeze category than anything approaching the storming performances before the pause in proceedings. Boro were supposed to be the hungry Sylvestor in comparison to Norwich’s Tweety – although those who thought they saw a pussy cat were not mistaken, it simply rolled over and had it’s tummy tickled before taking flight from Carrow Road empty handed with Tony Pulis left spitting feathers instead. It was complacency that killed the cat this time, not curiosity, as Boro looked disinterested in taking three points for most of the game.

At least this week offers the chance for Boro to put behind them “one of those days”, as Tony Pulis chose to euphemistically label the disappointment in Norfolk before quickly replacing his cap to hide his bad hair. Most will be hoping it won’t escalate beyond the one as it will be less easily dismissed if a bad day at the office turns out to be a week off sick. There are perhaps legitimate questions on whether Boro were set up in a way that would hurt Norwich, after all that’s now just one controversially controlled Daniel Ayala stoppage time goal in our last three Championship outings. Preventing the opposition scoring is still only half of the exercise and Boro should perhaps be showing more gusto and adventure against teams who have previously made heavy weather of keeping out the opposition.

Perhaps it’s just as well ‘Tony’ didn’t make the Met Office’s list of storm names this year as his team failed to blow away the opposition or cause them any serious damage – instead they just huffed and puffed as they left many wondering if their promotion credentials were made of straw. Incidentally, ‘Gareth’ was one of the most popular chosen by the UK public in the ‘Name our Storm’ scheme this year, which I imagine will probably be a much underrated storm that will apologise to the nation for the damage after conducting itself impeccably before turning out to be overblown and not too historic. Also soon to be battering Britain is Storm Deirdre, whilst it doesn’t sound too ferocious it may cause some problems but will possible solve others – whereas Storm Idris will no doubt be much hyped in the media before probably in the end being contentiously overlooked as the next big thing.

In midfield, Mo Besic also seemed to have one of those days where he was constantly demanding the ball but failed to do anything meaningful with it – it was reminiscent of a declining Grant Leadbitter last season who often orchestrated neat triangles to nowhere with his equally ponderous partners in crime. Jonny Howson was also having flashbacks to his last season self as he seemed confused and demotivated by seeing the yellow shirts of his former club around him. The lack of dynamism on show made many wonder why, after previously impressing with his overall game, Lewis Wing has surprisingly seen himself out of contention and is now become a regular unused sub on the bench. Wing may begin to feel he doesn’t have a prayer of recapturing his starting berth with the arrival of Besic and Saville adding to a congested midfield of options available to his manager. Matters may even be made worse if Pulis opts for Braithwaite and Downing playing alongside a main striker – particularly at home where Boro must surely take the initiative.

Though one new arrival, Danny Batth, has had Tony Pulis praising him as “a man’s man” and that “You can’t have too many of them”. Does that mean Dael ‘the young lad’ Fry may be about to start keeping Lewis Wing company on the bench? The worry for Fry is that he was singled out for criticism over the Norwich goal and may fear a return to what happened under Monk after making a rare error. Though what exactly is a man’s man? The definitions on offer are varied and ranging from: ‘They are trusted by other men because they seem to represent the man’s perspective’, to the more macho ‘Can fell a tree and drop it right where he wants’ and ‘He knows how to kill, hang, and dress a kill’ or the slightly more Trumpish sounding ‘He believes what he believes and he doubts what he doubts’. Though looking at some players, it looks like they struggle to even dress themselves, let alone a kill – plus chopping down trees is probably not necessarily something you get to prove your masculinity with too often in football and has yet to be included in the Opta stats.

I expect George Friend and Ryan Shotton would define it slightly differently after their ‘Bake-Off’ challenge earlier this year, in which you may recall they went head-to-head in the Coral-sponsored event to make the best Victoria sponge cake. Shotton proved to be the man on this occasion as his carefully positioned raspberries (no not another euphemism) won over the judges – he also probably gains extra points on the man’s man measure by also co-owning a pub with his father-in-law, though it’s possible he may perhaps get points deducted for having a ponytail. Still, it looks like Danny Batth may be the one with the recipe for success under old-school Tony.

Sadly, the Championship is anything but a cakewalk and the Boro manager made it clear this week how difficult it was compared to the Premier League to maintain momentum. There are 14 occasions in the season where Boro will play two games a week and how the club deal with that will ultimately decide their fate. This week is one of those weeks (as opposed to days) and first up is Bolton on Wednesday. The Trotters had got off to a surprisingly good start this campaign and were unbeaten after four games before it was ended with a 3-0 defeat at home to Sheffield United. Bolton then recovered from 2-0 down at Deepdale to get a draw against Preston before losing again at home against QPR to give Steve McClaren another much-needed win.

The real problem for Bolton though is not on the pitch as problems off it have seen them facing the threat of going into administration and being deducted 12 points. The whole crisis appears to stem from a £5m loan that was taken out from a finance company called BluMarble when Sports Shield took over Bolton in 2015. The current chairmen of Bolton, Ken Anderson, has been in dispute over the terms of the repayment and subsequently failed to reach an agreement by a deadline set by the finance company. BluMarble appear to have lost theirs as they are now reportedly seeking to put the club into administration and are prepared to finance the process in an attempt to force new ownership of the club – with an American billionaire reportedly interested. Bolton’s debts at £13m are nothing too major by Championship standards so it may as yet be possible to avoid the severe penalty that going into administration entails. You would think it wouldn’t be too difficult for the current owners to sell the club to an interested billionaire – probably a far easier task than Boro had in persuading certain players to move to the North-East.

Those Boro supporters of a nervous disposition who are worried about former players coming back to haunt the club better look away now – They have of course the Redcar Rock, David Wheater and former Boro captain Gary O’Neil, along with academy old boys Andrew Taylor and Jonathan Grounds, plus strikers Yanic Wildschut and former loanee Sammy Ameobi all waiting to prove a point. It appears way too many ex-players to stop them invoking the inevitable curse of the footballing gods – the only hope is that they all get in each other’s way as they queue up impatiently in an attempt to put one over on their former club.

A victory in midweek will perhaps help settle the nerves before Tony Pulis faces one of the newly relegated sides on Saturday. Swansea were once viewed as the model for Boro and the club to emulate as they played attractive football on a budget. They were promoted to the Premier League in 2012 and renowned for making astute signings who performed well, such as Gylfi Sigurðsson, Michu and Wilfried Bony – though we may overlook their reported £5m purchase of Marvin Emnes on the grounds of diminished responsibility. They held their own in the top flight and managed to beat several of the top-four clubs before qualifying for Europe and winning the League Cup. Their decline seemed coincided with rapidly changing managers with Michael Laudrup replaced by then defender Garry Monk, who initially succeeded and took them to their highest finish of 8th before being ejected in favour of Italian Francesco Guidolin. The club were taken over by an American consortium, who installed the hapless former US national coach Bob Bradley as manager but he didn’t last three months. Then came Paul Clement who saved them from relegation in 2016-17 but a bad start the following season saw him replaced by ex-Owl Carlos Carvalhal instead of old boy Garry Monk as many had expected – you may remember both managers were sacked following Boro’s 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday just before Christmas.

These days Boro are more emulating their Welsh neighbours Cardiff in terms of style and management as they attempt a more pragmatic route back to the promised land. Swansea have had a relatively stable beginning to their Championship season, losing just the once at home to Bristol City and winning three and drawing three. They installed as manager Graham Potter, who had taken Swedish outfit Östersund from the fourth to the first tier – he got the job in Sweden on the recommendation of former Swansea coach Roberto Martinez. He’s regarded as a modern coach with alternative ideas, which included encouraging his players to perform in theatre and musicals to get them out their comfort zone. Whether we’ll see a better class of diving and injury feigning at the Riverside is unclear but let’s hope they are not on song and dance around our defenders. Potter is also fond of switching formations around during games and the game may turn into some kind of tactical jousting contest between him and Pulis as they look to demonstrate their abilities as coaches.

Two home games will hopefully see Boro looking to get back to winning ways but the unexpected defeat at Norwich has certainly caught some on Teesside by surprise. The risk of meltdown is usually never far from the minds of Boro followers, but having gone over 500 minutes without even experiencing a conceded goal, it left many completely unprepared of how to deal with the massive bombshell of defeat. Some are still struggling to come to terms with this potential existential threat and one wonders if the club should possibly have warned us on what precautions to take by issuing a leaflet of what to do in such unforeseen circumstances. Perhaps they could even draw inspiration from those 1970s government public information films that gave practical steps on what people should do in the comparable devastating event of something like a nuclear attack.

It’s perhaps important to remember, unlike nuclear armageddon, defeat is not the end of the world – it may just seems like it for a fleeting moment. The Championship is once again proving that any team can beat any other and nobody as yet appears to be running away from the pack. The top ten bar Leeds, who are sitting just one point clear at the summit, are only separated by three points and this week may prove to be pivotal in terms of whether Boro can regroup and get back to winning ways. The early warning sounded at Norwich shouldn’t be ignored but it’s perhaps still too early to head for the bunker and prepare for a nuclear winter.

Protect and Survive: A guide to surviving defeat

The following information accurately reproduces that given to the UK population in the late 1970s – it’s just as valid and practical today as it was then. Please note, MFC do not take responsibility for any personal injury or loss caused by following this guide. Tin foil hats are now available in the club shop.

In the event of a Boro defeat, the initial blast of anger will create a shockwave that instantly destroys hope in the immediate vicinity. The fallout created as dreams turn to dust will be sucked up into the bad atmosphere before travelling hundreds of miles through the toxic airwaves. Stay calm, you can protect yourself and your family by following some simple steps.

Stay at Home: Because the fallout from a defeat can travel anywhere, no place is safer than any other to avoid the risk of being exposed to this toxic material. You are far better off not going out, in fact you are safer staying at home as this is the place you know.

Choose a Fallout Room: The safest place in your house to escape the fallout from a defeat is away from the windows in the room furthest from the outside walls, preferably in a basement. Your fallout room will protect you but you will make it even safer by strengthening a small part of it – this will be your inner refuge during the worst phase of the devastation.

Making a refuge: This is not too difficult, the main things you will need are a shovel, cardboard boxes, large plastic bags, earth or sand, a complete loss of perspective and the will to continue living – start gathering them now. The best idea is to make a lean-to against an inside wall by removing several doors from their hinges – it may be a good idea to first wait until your wife has gone to the shops for provisions. Cover the doors with bags filled with heavy material such as sand, self-help books, pointless government leaflets or even old football programmes. Lastly, place boxes filled with even heavier material at either end of your lean-to – though to avoid unnecessary injury when your wife returns, don’t forget to leave an easy way in and out of your refuge.

Food and Drink: You may need to stay for anything up to 14 days in your refuge before the next game is played, particularly during an international break. It is therefore imperative to store food and drink. Although you can survive prolonged periods with little food, it is not possible to survive without drink and it is recommended a minimum of two pints a day is stockpiled for an adult male, preferably double. It is important not to forget to bring a bottle-opener into your refuge if you wish to avoid classic symptoms of confusion and irritability.

Sanitation and hygiene: During your stay in your refuge, you may not be able to use your bathroom – especially if you’ve taken the door off it and your spouse has locked you in your fallout room as punishment. You will therefore need to make alternative arrangements and will require at least two buckets and dustbin with a lid. If you can, keep the dustbin away from your shelter it will improve the ambience and also place a few pans of water in the vicinity to use for personal hygiene – though preferably not the same ones you plan to use for cooking.

Receiving the all clear: If you survive the ordeal and have checked your calendar and fixture list carefully, you will eventually be able to safely emerge from your fallout room to continue life following the Boro as normal. Though it is important to remember another devastating defeat may strike without warning and you may need to return to your shelter at short notice. Nevertheless, returning to a normal life with your family may prove difficult, especially if you forget to empty the sanitation bins and clean the whitewash off the windows before heading off to the match.

283 thoughts on “Boro players hoping to avoid another wobble this week

  1. Simply the best yet Werdermouth. I was already loving it at Sylvester and Tweety Pie, but the government information leaflet is just brilliant. The great thing about your pieces is that as well as being amusing, they are relevant. Well done and thank you

    1. Careful what you wish for GHW, Werder might have a buy out clause that some premiershi broadsheet could trigger should his skills be seen by a wider (not Werder) audience! I seem to remember a similar incident not so long ago, but I forget who it was now, maybe Plato can refresh my memory.

  2. Another belter.

    My wife is furious, we live in a bungalow and the perfect place is the ‘downstairs toilet – it is internal with an extraction fan.

    You cant spend time in there, dont be stupid was the response..

    I then suggested emptying the clothes out of the fitted wardrobes, it is about time we cleared them out.

    That did not go down well.

    Is it wise to take the laptop in to the retreat? GHW has experience of his shed, some advice would be most welcome.

    1. Thanks Ian, unfortunately my viewing yesterday of 1970s public information films recommended that those who lived in bungalows seek alternatives in the event of a nuclear strike – though it’s possible you should be OK in your toilet for Boro defeats 🙂

  3. Werder, yet another peach, let’s hope that on the bake off theme that Shotton and George don’t look to be beating eggs with a stick tomorrow night, and then finish up over egging the pudding.

    BTW, shouldn’t Sylvester have been a “Puddy Tat?”

    1. Thanks PPP, I did consider using ‘I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat’ but I wanted more emphasis on Boro being the mild-mannered ‘pussy cat’ – just another of the things I end up having to consider when fine tuning the prose 🙂

  4. Werder

    Yet again you astound us with your ever so enjoyable and erudite postings. I thought the headline banner was brilliant.

    Let’s hope the performance tomorrow evening and the Riverside Live feeds are up to your excellent production.

    Thanks as always for an entertaining and amusing read.

    Gestede on the bench tomorrow following his run out with the U23s?


  5. Werder,
    I have loved this blog from the days it was untypical boro, but since the enforced change to Diasboro, it has just got better and better. The lead article is always funny and insightful plus RR match reports and all the other contributors it has to be the number 1 blog for football out there. And long may it last.

  6. Another great piece Werder thank you for your sterling efforts.

    TP and Boro need to show their bouncebackability qualities tomorrow night as any performance remotely as bad as Saturday wouldn’t be acceptable and will probably end in defeat. Play well and you don’t win then fair enough. Just don’t roll over from minute one and expect anything out of a game.

    Lots of ex Boro players to possibly get on the scoresheet but hopefully it will be nothing more than a concellation. Boro to up their game and Bolton to play their part in an exciting night under the lights. 3-1 Boro.

    In our little score predictor challenge on the drive to Norwich I had us down for a 0-3 win so what do I know😕

  7. Thanks Werder for another “laughs out loud” article and can only endorse those posts above and especially GHW.

    Just hope the posters do not get carried away as with Norwich and start predicting 2 & 3 goal victories. I cannot see TP changing much unless forced. Will it be a flat back four or a three. Either way Fry will be out taking the can for Saturday. Wing will once again not be on the bench.

    Where will the goals come from…..who knows and neither probably does TP. He may make one or two changes. Britt worked hard under difficult circumstances, but will it be Hugill that leads the line with MB just behind. I do not think SD deserves his place at the moment but do not expect him to be “dropped”

    1. Thanks Pedro, it’s hard to say if Pulis will go for something other than 5-3-2 as that is also what Bolton usually play too. I personally opt for Wing in a three-man midfield but I’m leaning towards 3-4-3 as a more progressive system at home with Besic in for Friend and Braithwaite and Downing either side of Britt.

  8. Excellent, Werder. Enjoyed reading that. Especially the last instruction for a defeat!

    BTW, the Gazette is writing about the FA conducted questionare. Fans were asked: “Would you say you’re currently happy with the team you support?”

    So Norwich has the least happy fans. And Boro are in top six in the Championship.
    1. Norwich 9%
    19. Middlesbrough 83%

    So the reality is that most Boro fans – nearly all – are happy Boro fans. So times have changed for good on Teesside. I have always felt so, too.

    Up the Boro! The Boro is going up.

    1. Thanks Jarkko, I wonder if the questionnaire was conducted before or after the Norwich defeat – though I’m sure nearly all Boro fans would have taken one point off the top after seven games if you’s given it to them before the season started.

  9. Very busy day today and I’m literally only back for 10 minutes before heading out again this afternoon, so just a quick to thanks everyone for their kind comments, very much appreciated and glad you’ve enjoyed another article!

  10. Thanks Werder for a great double bill.

    In my youth I always used to see a B movie followed by the main feature

    Now you serve up a double A for which we thank you

    My forecast s suprise suprise are



    Now that’s a double bill or a double bluff!


  11. If only it was typical Boro, this defeat was a death foretold.
    Any fan who knew that we had left behind any player with an ounce of attacking talent, any fan who knew that the entire club had not spent a fortnight looking at the league and planning to land on our opponents on Saturday like a ton of bricks, meanwhile licking our chops at the very thought of two more juicy home matches in four days, then that fan would have been hiding behind the sofa.
    My question is simple. How is it possible for, a, the manager to not have told them of the glorious situation we were in, and b, why did not the players knowing how beautifully it was all coming together, simply tear into the damaged opposition from the word go and decimate them.
    We do not forget the dropping of Wing and Tavernier, and we have observed how it has decimated our position in the league.
    We further do not wish some routine buy to be placed in front of Wing, clue, they are not good enough.
    What happened is not simply “typical boro” and could we cease and desist from using that excuse for vile and inexcusable no show’s. That attitude has crept in to this club like a cancer together with “bogie teams” both are simply an excuse for laziness and worse.
    I fully expect the reintroduction of Wing and Tavernier, and the resumption of goals, routine wins at home, and some drive and common sense from the manager, or, of course, he could fall on his sword.

    1. I could see Wing coming back in, most likely to the bench. I’m much less convinced that Tavernier will be back in.

      Braithwaite is the main readditon for me. I’d be very happy to see Wing come back in too.

  12. Since the Norwich defeat a number of posters have criticised TP selection for that match therefore, as a one off, I ask those who wish to, name their starting 11, before 1830 hrs tomorrow.

    It is unlikely that anyone will get the full 11 correct but post match we can see how their own selections performed as starters or coming on as subs (but only select 11).

    I myself will go with which 11 TP decides as I don’t know who has trained well, who is carrying knocks or injuries, who has personal problems and his mind isn’t fully there etc. Don’t forget it’s the starting 11 you would select, not what you think TP will pick. This is only a bit of fun !

    Come on BORO.

    1. I’ve said I thought he got it wrong, Exmil, so it’s only fair I take a stab at your challenge. Assuming all is equal with injuries, fitness, morale and unity, I would go with (3-5-2):

      Flint Ayala Fry
      Shotton Howson Clayton Wing Friend
      Assombalonga Braithwaite

      Howson reverted to last season against Norwich but I think has had a very good start to the season and I’d keep him in for now. You could argue that the same applies to Downing but he’s a fair bit older and the two games in a short space of time is enough excuse for me to bring Wing back in, whose performances I think merit another chance.

      I’d be happy enough with Hugill being given his chance but will stick by Assombalonga for now as I don’t think he had much support against either Leeds or Norwich and it would be a little unfair to take him out at this stage.

      The above would probably mean that one of McNair, Besic, Downing or Saville would have to miss out entirely. That feels a bit Monk-esque with players coming in from the cold and others dissapearing but I’m afraid thats the problem with being overoaded in central midfield.

  13. My XI for tomorrow night assuming that Clayts is crocked:


    Shotton, Ayala, Flint, Fry, Friend


    Wing, Braithwaite, Saville



    My logic is that with McNair doing the Clayts role thats three big lads at the back with a fourth just in front allowing Shotton and Friend to be pushed further up to attack. Downing and Howson drop out for a breather as they were both below par on Saturday and with two games in a week and another coming up fast on Saturday (with one day less instead of playing Tuesday) it may allow them time to recharge, same goes for Besic.

    I don’t think TP will be that radical but a point needs to be made that changes can and will be made regardless of past reputations or position on the pay roll. You get picked on performances and nothing else. I’d almost go for Hugill instead of Britt as well but its hard to penalise the guy when he got zero back up from his team mates but a rest might recharge his batteries as he did run around a lot on Saturday albeit chasing a worthless cause.

    Whatever happens and whoever is selected the Midfield need a huge Soyuz style Rocket up their collective Jacksies. George also needs to cut out the silly challenge that gifted the goal. If you are going to intercept make sure it takes someone’s head off en-route to Haverton Hill.

  14. I would to a similar line up to Redcar Red but with Hugill upfront. Sadly with Rudy on the bench!

    As I have Virgin Media will it work there as I have the full SkySports package. I just tried it and it did bring up a list of events and EFL was on it.

    As a back up, I cant remember if the live stream is available mid week in the UK.

    1. Ian/Plato

      I’m thinking (or hoping) that Rudy will be a while yet before being remotely considered fit enough for the rigours of Championship football especially breaking down after his last comeback.

      He will need a few games to get match sharp and back up to speed. If we are 4-0 up and he gets the last 15 minutes then fair enough but other than that Fletcher for me should be well ahead of him. Neither could hit the proverbial cow’s derrière or barn door but at least one of them has some pace and energy in the build up to the inevitable glaring miss.

      Do Virgin have the Match Options available to select on Sky or do they literally just broadcast the Sky default Channel with no interactive service?

      Still haven’t figured out why we are playing tomorrow night and not tonight. There are seven Championship games being played tonight and five tomorrow?

    2. Ian, I am with you in wanting to see Hugill replace Assombalonga in the team chosen by RR. The performance at Norwich was so poor it would be inexcusable in my view not to make a number of changes and it is time to see what MacNair, Saville and Hugill can do and bring back Wing.

      The two games this week after the Norwich debacle are particularly important because the results will give us a good indication of what we can expect for the season. Two wins and the outlook will be promising, two defeats and the gloom will descend, two draws and disappointment will reign with expectation muted.

  15. I did mention to select only your first eleven therefore only those 11 will count, they will count if they come off TP’s bench. Anyone listed as your subs will not count even if they are in TP’s starting eleven.

    Ian, if you have Skysports package you should have the red button option and therefore will be able to watch every BORO midweek match live.

    Come on BORO.

  16. For what it’s worth I’d go for:-
    Shotton, Ayala, Flint, Batth
    Wing, Braithwaite,Saville
    Hugill, Assombalonga

    However I’d be very surprised if my selection is anywhere near TP’s.
    Forecast 3-0
    Attendance 22,850

    1. Ken

      I think the four at the back is a good shout if Paddy McNair is playing just in front of the two CB’s but if Friend is dropped then it would be more likely McQueen that fills that left berth rather than Batth who is very much a CB. I do like your thought of Hugill and Assombalonga up front with Braithwaite just behind or even as a 433.

  17. ———————Randolph———————-



  18. Lurker with first post because I can never resist thinking I know more than the manager. I think 3-5-2 is the formation that is best for our players.



    Clayton (if fit – McNair if not)


    The team I think TP will pick
    Clayton (McNair if injured)

  19. Here’s one for Ian and cricket lovers. Do you think that over-celebrating their first T20 Final blast at Edgbaston on Sunday has accounted for Worcestershire’s dismal batting this morning. It’s certainly made Yorkshire’s task of avoiding relegation that much easier despite another poor Tyke’s batting display against Hampshire?

    It’s not easy to come back down from euphoria, even for a team fighting relegation. Just ask Catalans Dragons who have lost all 3 matches since winning the RL Challenge Cup at Wembley.

  20. I know it was poor on Saturday but the knives are out pretty sharpish aren’t they? Some must’ve been polishing those blades for weeks in anticipation.

    In answer to above posters I suspect the goals will come from where they’ve come from from since the start of the season. As we’ve scored 2 twice and 3 once so far I don’t think predicting wins by those margins would be getting”carried away”. Only my opinion of course.

  21. Oh go on then.

    Ayala Flint Fry
    Shotton Wing Clayton Downing Friend
    Braithwaite Assombalonga

    Not sure about Clays fitness but if he’s not 100% I wouldn’t risk him tomorrow. Even though I’ve selected him in my 11!

    McNair to replace if he doesn’t make it.

    Bench of:

    Picking the 7 for the bench was more difficult than I thought.

  22. Playing the same team that played well and drew with Leeds in the previous game was a logical decision for Tony Pulis and it wasn’t unexpected. Though the question I posed in my headline last week of whether Boro’s lack of flair has made them a better team was in some ways answered with a ‘no’ at Carrow Road. It was indeed a game that was crying out for someone in a Boro shirt to indeed show some flair to create the spark to get us a goal. In some ways it exposed the problem of what do we do if the team as a whole is not up for the game and the players appear disjointed – we don’t possess any individual who can turn it on.

    For me, playing with a back three and a midfield trio limits attacking players to two – the onus is then on the midfield to support the attack or indeed be part of it. We saw at Norwich that in the absence of the wing-backs providing ammunition, the service to the lone striker dries up. The formation looked closer to 5-4-1 than 5-4-2 as Downing has a tendency to drop deep rather than play behind the striker.

    My preference would be more 3-4-3 or variations around the front three and that may mean alternatives to Friend who is rarely a provider. Besic has played on the left of a midfield four before and it may be a better option than reducing the attacking players to just two – indeed Downing has also played that role on the left this season too. Shotton has surprisingly slotted in quite well as our new right-sided outlet and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future in the absence of serious alternatives.

    If Clayton is struggling with a gashed shin that needed stitches he may not be risked as the opposition will know a ‘strong’ tackle could leave him indisposed. My hunch is that Saville is the next man in the pecking order with neither McNair or Wing at the front of Pulis’s mind. Leadbitter is the obvious straight swap for Clayton but I suspect he’s now a fringe player.

    I also think Fry will get another chance before he’s naughty-stepped by his manager as he at least offers an outlet when he brings the ball out.

    So my Bolton selection of 3-4-3 would be

    Ayala – Flint – Fry
    Shotton – Howson – Saville – Besic
    Downing – Assombalonga – Braithwaite

  23. Given that Mr Pulis is not one for forced changes and taking in Werder´s comment about Bolton playing three at the back, then I will go with the following as MY preferred 11.




    The above can be attack minded as we have the five at the back if needed, width from MB and Wing with the latter’s pace. Saville is left-footed so should be OK there and be expected to join the front two.

    Unfortunately I expect TP to drop Fry for Batth, keep Friend and Downing and have Besic playing the holding role. that will result in him getting booked twice and getting sent off. Boro down to ten men, lose 1-2 and boos around the Riverside.

    As it is on the telly for all and sundry and no Bolton fans, a crowd of 19´250. and another excuse. ( just kidding!!!!! )

    KP….I have SKY, but not with a SKY Remote. So no separate red button. Does that mean MFC and my 6 euros?

    1. Sorry Pedro, I got ahead of myself in my earlier post as it’s actually Swansea who play 5-3-2 – Bolton usually play Karanka’s much favoured 4-2-3-1. Whether that will influence how Tony Pulis sets his team up is uncertain but he doesn’t normally match up with the opposition.

      On the red button issue, as far as recall when I had a remote without a red button, pressing it just links to separate channels. I once had all 8 BBC red button channels in my favourites to make it easier to watch different options – though it may be different with Sky.

  24. It works with Virgin media, Watching Derby v Blackburn in an empty Pride Park.

    I am going to make a comment about whatever team runs out. If they dont display the right attitude it doesn’t matter who is selected, they will get rolled over.

  25. Pedro I will be very disappointed if TP drops Fry, he does unfortunately have previous in this matter.

    Besic seems to pick up cards for late challenges that he has no chance in getting the ball. I don’t think he’s fully match fit yet and that will only contribute to said late challenges.

    Never seen or heard of McQueen until we signed him so no idea if he’s an improvement. Hopefully an upgrade on another former Southampton player Martin Cranie.

    As a little aside I served with Martins father John during my time in the Royal Navy.

  26. I believe we have if not the best squad, then certainly top three,and I mean the squad of twenty players,.
    So now its time Tony, time to stop talking like we are playing ,Man City every week, time to put it on the line,time these players were sent out to destroy the opposition, you can still be solid and clever,but also play with some freedom,time the players with attacking intuition, to be let loose,
    Goals are the name of the game, and its time we played on the front foot with intent.

  27. FAA

    ALL managers tend to drop the local lad. Mogga’s favourite was the hook for Reach – I expect the mob with pitchforks for that sadly accurate comment..

    The good news is a win tomorrow will see us second.

    1. Ian

      It’s the easy option as being local means they have usually come through the clubs academy and haven’t cost a big chunk of the transfer budget which would have to be justified to the clubs owner.

    2. Ian
      Your remark brought a smile to my face, well, we would drop Reach, natch.
      He looked a very able young player, was a big lad, very likely to make a good career in the game ( which he did and is still doing) seems like nothing changes.

  28. it’s a really dffficult night to try and suggest what TP will do.
    Without much conviction, I’ll go with




  29. The results tonight pretty much went in our favour, the Leeds one apart of course. What is interesting is looking at the goals scored column, Leeds have scored 18 we have scored 9 which tells a story.

    Looking from Leeds in top spot top down the table to see who is the next lowest scorers after ourselves and its Swansea with 7 goals who we play on Saturday and then Bolton with 9 goals the same as ourselves.

    Put simply we need to improve our goals scored ratio despite having the best goals against record of only 3 goals. The next two clubs clearly struggle to score goals so I hope that we don’t see a back five and an entrenched midfield again with Britt as Billy no mates.

    1. RR
      our goals dried up just as we hit our stride, it was the first of the challengers West Brom, we decided that all this routine wins and who’s next for the chop was boring, and dropped our playmakers, and left them out. Those three matches could and should have brought six goals, which leaves us now chasing the dream which we were leading.

      On reflection, it will be interesting to see which team he puts out.

  30. I forgot Clayton. I’m not sure what happens if he isn’t fit. Ther are lots of options.

    1.McNair simply drops into that position. OR
    2. He reverts to a back 3 and brings in Fry and doesn’t play with a pure defensive midfield player but instead gets Howson to play a little deeper.

    We might also then see Gestede added to the bench although I sense that it’s a bit too soon. More likely Fletcher or Batth as cover for the back three.


    1. For all you guys who don’t live in the Boro now it’s going to be a difficult game tonight

      Gale force winds are battering the area and its forecast to get worse tonight

      It’s going to be a leveller for football


  31. It appears from his talk yesterday that TP does at least see the same things we are seeing on here:

    “We will have to move the ball very quickly, and need to get the ball around the final third a lot more than we did on Saturday. We need to create opportunities and chances. Norwich was disappointing. I think there were half-a-dozen of the players that were nowhere near the levels where they have been, and I think you have got to be honest and open about that. In the first 20 minutes, we started fine, and then in the last 20 minutes we had a bit of a go, but apart from those little stages, the game was not what we have been about this year.”

  32. The Gazette mentioned that it was Aitor Karanka’s 45th birthday and duplicated an interview with Philip Tallentire following his appointment as Boro manager. I knew he was from the Basque region but his birthplace of Victoria-Gasteiz brought back happy memories for me because during my annual travels down to the Algarve I remember listening to the BBC World Service on my short-wave radio in that city the Sports Report devoting almost all its programme to the arrival and interviews with Juninho in 1995. Of course I’ve since seen those scenes on videotape many times since.

    Sadly those days of driving through France from Calais through the Spanish border into San Sebastián, then Vitoria-Gasteiz, Burgos, Valladolid, Salamanca, Plasencia and Caceras into Portugal are well in the past since my wife died nine years ago. But what memories!

  33. I don’t care what the team is picked, just win and not by an odd goal.

    For that reason I’m with OFB Boro 0 – 0 Bolt and I hope they haven’t signed that fast sprinter-man.

    By the way that’s the best header article yet Werder. Really, really impressive.

    I wonder if the players know how much a fan’s weekend/week is wrecked when they lose, perhaps they should have the survival piece at the end?.

    Well it’s until the sometimes misplaced optimism returns for the next game.



  34. Ken

    I noticed that Worcestershire didn’t have Moeen Ali playing. He was keen enough to play in T20 finals, wonder if he is injured.

    By the same token, we didn’t have any test players back in our team.

    Is that to do with central contracts?

    Hampshire 106 – 6 is a good sign. Maximum bowling points should see us safe.

  35. Both RR’s match report and Werder’s leader are of exceptional quality this week, even by their own high standards. RR manages to encompass in a single report enough material to furnish 3 or 4 conventional newspaper articles. He achieves, within a couple of hours of the final whistle, what would have constituted an entire week’s work for the much admired Cliff Mitchell of earlier days.

    As for Werder, well the creativity and wit just keep on flowing. Brilliant material.

    And speaking of those qualities, can I just put in a word for one of my heroes, Dennis Norden, who passed away yesterday. He and Frank Muir were the greatest writers of radio comedy that this country has ever produced (closely followed by Galton and Simpson, and in the age of TV by Clement and La Frenais). Their best work on their show Take it from Here can still occasionally be heard on BBC Radio 4 Extra, and over 60 years later its originality and literacy still shines through. Tributes to him as the anchor-man for the TV out-takes show are misplaced. That was hack work that he did with with some sparkle, but it doesn’t even attempt to touch the heights of his greatest work: the production, week after week of high quality comedy gold which has rarely been surpassed since. A great man.

    1. Cheers Len, much appreciated and I agree about RR’s match reports – I’ve no idea how, not only he makes sense of the game and gets everything in the report, but manages to write it up in such great style too so soon after the game.

      1. Thanks Len and Werder for the kind words but I still don’t think I’m fit to lace Cliff’s boots!

        As for writing the reports quickly, if I didn’t I’d forget half of it!

  36. Thanks for the background on Denis Norden, Len. Along with Leslie Crowther and William G. Stewart, he was one of my broadcasting heroes. For his unflappability, mainly.

    Three TPs (that’s “talking points”) in the pipeline, but other work and circumstances is delaying them.

    Hoping that the game goes ahead tonight. Storm Ali is giving Belfast a right old battering in the sunshine as I type. A 1-0 win will more than suffice. We need to get a good run going again in the direct aftermath of a flat defeat.

    1. Simon
      Met William G Stewart in May 1997 when I was a contestant on 15-to-1 in the Wandsworth studios. Sadly he stumbled and dropped all the cards just before the recording. My late wife put that down to my early elimination, but I just put it down to bad luck. I remember having to correct him that Redcar was no longer in Cleveland, but in North Yorkshire.

    1. Good 3 points but marred by Bolton player Olkowski punching a Boro ball boy near the end of the game should be reported to theFA and disciplinary meeting and action taken disgraceful behaviour


  37. Well just purchased by MFC match pass at an extortionate price of 10GBP (11.78euros) besides having a ST which I hardly use, this season is starting to get somewhat expensive. Just hope we all get our monies worth this evening. A decent game not too much dictated to by the wind and the right result.

  38. RR,

    In the 1960s I used to attend the Boro’s AGMs, and one of the things that surprised me was how firmly embedded within the club Cliff Mitchell was. The Chairman, then Eric Thomas, would routinely thank Cliff towards the end of the meeting for all of his support and fine work. The club didn’t appear to have such a thing as a press officer in those days, and they didn’t really need one, because Cliff was effectively doing that very job. As I recall I think that Cliff and Ray Robertson of the Northern Echo used to travel to many away games on the team bus. So he was firmly embedded, and for understandable reasons wasn’t inclined to abuse his privileged status and rock the boat. Though it should be said that he did take sides in favour of Cloughie during the round- robin controversy. What he lacked was the freedom that you have, as an outsider, to give a forthright opinion on a weekly basis. So on that score alone I think that your reports are superior to anything we have seen before.

    Cliff had a quite predictable routine. On Fridays he would do a match preview, give the teams, and comment on any injuries and changes. On Saturdays, his match report was detailed, but not analytical. His task was to get the basic information across and to get it right. To correctly record the scorers, the times of the goals, the game’s ebb and flow, and its major events. It really read as just one darn thing after another. Invaluable but superficial. There was little attempt to go beyond the surface events or to give any sense of what those events might signify.

    Much of that was left to the Monday column, when Cliff would go through the team and give an account and evaluation of the players’ performances.

    Tuesdays to Thursdays were light news days covering progress on injuries, and general matters which were rarely of much interest.

    So that’s my evidence for saying that your current match reports are the best we have ever had and cover more issues and analyses in addition to the essential facts than we would normally get in a week’s journalism.

    Not fit to lace Cliff’s boots (or his drinks) ? I don’t think so.

    1. Len
      Many times I’ve said that Redcar Red’s reports are on at least a par with Cliff Mitchell’s. However in Cliff’s defence perhaps it’s understandable that he didn’t want to be controversial. Even in those days the Gazette might have found itself on the ‘naughty’ step with the Boro hierarchy. Just speculating like.

  39. With the weather being a bit wet and wild means our reliance on dead ball goals will make us a hostage to the elements. The ball will be spend more time closer to god than to the goal. The conditions may be apocalyptic but Brian Clough would be apoplectic.
    Anyone with speed and can run directly at the opposition would be a godsend, unfortunately there’s no pace in the team and I’m not sufficiently familiar with McQueen or McNair to know if there is any on the bench.
    The eyes have it. Nil nil.

  40. So Fry is dropped from the team presumably because TP blames his mistake for the Norwich goal on Saturday which seems a bit harsh on the lad to me. Assombalonga is also dropped presumably because he is not scoring goals which seems fair enough. Howson and Besic keep their places after very poor performances at Norwich which seems bizarre. No place for Wing not even on the bench. At least we will get a look at Saville and Hugill and Braithwaite is back in the starting line-up.

    So it appears that the younger players have been frozen out by the TP preference for the older brigade and the players he has bought. I can’t see where the creativity is going to come from tonight without Wing in the side but we shall see. If they don’t win convincingly there will be questions about team selection for sure.

  41. Its a bit blustery and high balls could get held up as the wind is blowing across the pitch from West Stand to East Stand. Changing to NE in bursts.

    Clayton’s right shin is heavily bandaged which I’m sure the opposition will have also noticed. Lets hope its the correct decision to risk him.

    The selection changes are not necessarily the ones many on here would have made and indeed some of the worst underperformers have retained their place. Switching to a back four means that one of Fry, Flint and Ayala had to drop put so its the least experienced one or at least I hope thats the reason.

    With Britt its unfortunate as he was massively let down at Norwich but Hugill is more of a Pulis type Striker. What will be interesting is where Braithwaite plays. Dropping a CB creates an extra spare body for midfield and attack. COB!

  42. I would have liked to see Wing, Tavernier and the odd youngster involved more often.

    As I have mentioned many times, there is a charge sheet for each manager, pluses and minuses are added.

    Get the right results and the manager is a hero, otherwise the minus points get more credence than the pluses.

  43. At last 1-0 and a midfielder who can score!

    Sky red button service is the basic iFollow service of one camera but with commentary and no replays/different angles. The feed has been perfect so far.

    Hope those watching via Riverside Live are not having any problems

    1. I enjoyed the ‘red button’ scenario although the sound effects seemed quite ethereal and possibly lacking in atmosphere for some tastes. I suppose for those on Teesside though they could turn down the commentary to mute and listen to Radio Tees whilst watching the TV broadcast.

  44. Just before the goal my view was a bit Cluedo. Mr Plod, in the Riverside, with the sideways pass.

    Then I had a natural break and came back with Saville wheeling away having scored!

  45. TP interview made it clear that medical stats on Fry, Besic and Assombalonga suggested that they needed a break. TP has indeed gone with a back four but that hasn’t stopped the full backs from getting forward. Shotton in particular seems to be non-stop up and down the wing.

    We look to be the better team but, until Boston fell over themselves and gave Saville his first Boro goal, we hadn’t created too much. A bit better after the goal but a couple more wouldn’t hurt.

    Braithwaite and Howson looking particularly good and the combination links up with Shotton well down the right. Saville finding his feet and his combo with Friend and Downing will get better with time.

    Hugill is working hard but not getting too much from the big centre halves.


  46. MFC feed has at times been a bit iffy and for nearly 12 euros. Lost the feed a few times and one just after the Boro scored. I would not of been happy.

    Clayton the pick for me, followed by Shotton and Howson. Saville tidy and pounced on the loose ball to take it very well. Hugill getting very little in the box, plenty of corners but in the main poor deliveries. MB not really getting into the game, but to be fair Bolton had had most players behind the ball.

    George will have to buck up as the lad on the right has the beating of him and he has lost twice already

  47. I fell asleep on 91 minutes and came to just after Assombalonga scored. Very dull watching overall.
    All the same, 3 points is 3 points and we are 2nd.
    We’ll need to play with more intensity against Abertawe on Saturday.

  48. Well a win and back to second place but not a great game and still problems in the final third of the pitch.

    MOTM for me was Clayton with better performance from Howson and Saville looked as if he could be a good acquisition.

    Bolton were not a good side and I suspect Swansea will be more of a challenge and we will have to improve on this performance.

    I was expecting a typical boro moment in the second half but fortunately it did not arrive and Britt finished it just before the final whistle.

    CoB 😎😀

  49. Watched the game almost by chance on the red button on Sky having decided to watch the advertised game. Can you always get alternative games when a Championship game is televised ?
    A valuable 3 points but not an inspiring performance. Distinct lack of skill, apart from little flashes from Braithwaite, against a poor team. Play too slow and there seemed to be a lack of energy except from Clayton who played well.

    Shotton poor at crossing and Ayala hit too many punts up field to no one. Did anyone notice how many times Friend was beaten in the air in the first half?
    Defence had an easy evening and Flint missed a couple of chances.

    Second goal was a bit of a gift but we take it and move onto Saturday.

    If I appear over critical it is maybe I was making comparisons to last years promoted teams.
    The gap between a mid table Premiership team is immense!!

    1. Philip, completely agree with your analysis of the game and your comment at the end of your post. At least it is a win but what an underwhelming performance. Not much quality on show and decidedly dull fare.

  50. Not a particular fluid performance, although some encouraging signs with Saville looking good on the ball and Braithwaite looking sharp. I’m not sure if Hugill is going to be anything special or the kind of striker who will take his chances, in fact he still doesn’t look match-fit and perhaps needs to lose a few pounds. Clayton did well considering he was doubtful and Howson looked better again. McQueen also looked OK when he came on and had a similar way of strutting around to Downing. Though Bolton didn’t particularly threaten and their few opportunities came from slack play from Boro. So not a game to remember but job done, three points and a clean sheet.

    BTW my live feed was poor, I had to restart it probably around 20 times – though while I generally only missed 20-30 seconds each time it was very irritating and was quite distracting. It should really be sorted out by now.

      1. I haven’t seen enough of Hugill to agree or disagree with that – I can recall one good header Hugill made in today’s game but I also think he misdirected a few in the last couple of games. Assombalonga last season scored a few decent headers around the six-yard box but I remember he missed a good chance against Leeds.The problem for Assombalonga is that he’s not a target man and his game is generally better when facing the goal. Whereas Hugill doesn’t look that quick and his game is more about putting himself about and using his body to battle centre-backs.

  51. I’m glad my prediction was wrong, regardless of the quality of the game a clean sheet and two goals to the good is not to be sniffed at. As pleased as I am for Saville to score, I’m more pleased for Britt.
    Onward and hopefully upward.

  52. It looked as if Howson might have a hamstring problem. If so, we will get a chance to look at another midfield combination against Swansea. If TP sticks with a flat back four, it could be Clayton sweeping up behind Saville, Downing, Besic and Braithwaite with either Hugill or Assombalonga up front. That would probably be our most attacking midfield setup.

    MacQueen looked like a good player but likely to be a substitute for the moment and that leaves McNair and Batth who may have to wait for injuries or suspensions to get their shot.

    It’s a strong squad.


    1. Selwynoz

      Wing was omitted for the last cup tie, rather foolishly, we all thought that it was an indication that he was now part of the first team squad, even worse we thought we had turned the manager.
      So Wing can be very worried, he is at the rear of a very long queue, and there are some extremely moderate players ahead of him.

  53. Watched the game in between the drop outs but thankfully didn’t miss anything critical. In fact the game had echoes of our previous lives. We have a good defence but this is at the expense of the attack. Yes we are good and organized but we have too many resources tied up doing it. No real assets in front I’m afraid.

    We shouldn’t need to change shape for attack and we should be able to play with only 8 men and keep a clean sheet.

    The answer is quality up front in attacking midfield or strikers. What we have is defensive attackers and defensive midfielders.

    So we will beat most of our opponents but whether we will still be in the top 2 after the first quarter is anyone’s guess.

    Thus it is as it ever was.

  54. Good write up RR, just as I saw it. I must say that I found the game progressively dull, but with three points in the bag I must say that I’d like to be unhappy, but I never do have the time.

  55. Thanks for an accurate and informative match report RR much appreciated

    I agree with your choice of MOM and Clayton and Shotton seem to be going from strength to strength and are very consistent

    I don’t like criticising officials but have to agree that I thought they were poor. A stone wall penalty in the first half and some strange decisions all night

    Ref also missed Olkowski manhandling the Boro ball boy in front of the West Stand towards the end of the game and hopefully the Boro will take action as it was unacceptable

    So not a good game but I’ll take the 3 points and move on hopefully to the same on Saturday but against better opposition


    1. OFB, about the penalty claim. Neil Maddison – or Maddo to you – said immediately that it was not a penalty in his opinion. He also saw the replays and confirmed his opinionthat it was not a penalty.

      As I wrote below, I did not see the first half and just listened to radio commentary while driving. Up the Boro!

  56. Thanks RR for the report.

    I was driving back home before the game started and listened to the built up, the first half and half of the second half via with BBC Tees commentary. So the new technology was working for me. I had the mobile phone connected to the car stereos and knew nearly live – there was a two min delay – what was going on.

    Then I dashed home, and saw the last twenty minutes on my PC via Riverside live. I saw the second goal live and the first one was replayed after the end of the match. I really like Steve Barnaby as a commentator. He knows his business.

    I started to think about the years gone when I started to support Boro in 1970’s. We did see Boro once a year live on TV on Saturday (still cannot remember if we had a colour TV for the first matches or not). But if I wanted to know the result on Saturday night (before Sunday’s paper) I needed to use an old short-wave radio to catch BBC World Service and Sports Round-Up latest at 17:45 GMT. They also had a live second half commentary every Saturday and sometimes even Boro.

    In late 1970’s I bought a better short wave radio and built a long wire between the tall trees at my parents’ house as I was still living there. I loaned special boots with spikes to climb to the top of the trees – the wire was at about 10 to 15m high. This summer I realized that the antenna still exists there – but no one has used it since 1990s!

    I dream was to listen to BBC Radio Cleveland on medium waves – hence the long antenna. I was able to catch the station a few times – but only at night time when the broadcast waves travel for a longer distance. I wrote to them and they sent me a QSL card to verify this. But I was never able to really listen to the BBC Radio Cleveland as the connection was not good enough.

    Well, those were happy days as radio was the “internet” in the 1970’s. Now I can get the match report from RR or Gazette nearly on-line, listen to the commentary in my car and see live stream on my TV via internet.

    From 1980 to late 1990’s I received newspaper cuttings from both the Evening Gazette and The Northern Echo once a fortnight. My friend Austin from Great Ayton cut all Boro articles from the two papers every day and posted them over to me twice a month. And I read every single article even the reports were usually two weeks late.

    He also posted me Gazette’s Saturday afternoon special, too. The one which was once printed on different coloured paper than during the week days. Was it called Sports Gazette? It was the one where the the “live” text commentary started on the front page, continued on the back page and there were only a few lines for the last ten minutes of the Saturday’s Boro match as they started to print the paper immediately when the match ended. It was nearly on-line back then – but not for me of course!

    I admired both Cliff Mitchell and Ray Robertson at the time. As there were no other medias except Radio Tees at the time, their reports were a bit different back then as Len told above. But they were better than nothing back then.

    A kind of Diasbora existed for me, too. I wrote to Austin once a month – thanking for the newspaper cuttings and discussing all Boro. Luckily I was able to visit him quite regularly in 1980’s – first alone but more often with my girlfriend, too. But the visits ended when we got our second child, so for over ten years as it become too expensive to travel with our three kids to see football matches!

    During those visits I was once interviewed by Ray Robertson too. A Boro fan coming from the continent was unheard at the time. Nowadays I usually see Anthony Vickers if I am in the North Stand watching Boro.

    And this blog is a nice way to keep in touch with every one as Austin passed away in the early 2000s. I have made many new friends through this blog. We had a get-together at the Navigator pub a few years back where a lot of you took part. AV was there as HalifaxP arranged it, also Dormo, Clive, Werder and his son were there. Sorry if I forgot to list someone. Later I have also met OFB, Len and Never-Give-Up-Boro live. All wonderful people and Boro fans.

    As I have been travelling a lot in my work for the past ten years, following the Boro gives me a nice connection during the “lonely” nights at the hotels, in car or airports. So I am very grateful for that.

    Boro has had a big influence on me as a person too. I learned my English by listening to BBC World Service and their sport programmes, reading Shoot! weekly and later the newspaper cuttings. And my all-time first trip abroad was to Teesside in 1980 – I am very proud to say that!

    As I became quite fluent in English – had that in school too – I am currently working in an international company where I was the first Finnish person in their first 100 years. I do have a Spanish colleague now who knows a bit of Finnish as she is married to a Finn. But beside customers, I need to use English in all internal communication for my work. So I am grateful for the Boro team of Big Jack for that motivated me to learn the language!

    As always, up the Boro! It was my friend Austin, who always ended his letters with the phrase.

  57. I remember on SW the World Service picking up a football commentary at 4:20 on a Saturday afternoon, all the British footy fans used to gather around the radio for score updates and then a full results service at 5:00.

    Most overseas workers can recognise Lili Bolero.

  58. Then I was able to say if it was a home win, a draw or an away win, already when I just heard home team pronounced by James Alexander Gordon on BBC World Service. Unfortunately, I was not able to recognize the difference between score draw and a 0-0 draw, though.

    But he was excellent! So I was devastated to hear his passing away recently:

    At the time my other favourite teams outside the First and Second divisions were teams like Ayr United, Burnley in 4th division and Sheffield Wednesday in the third. I ever saw Wednesday together with my friend Austin as they were close enough to Cleveland (no Teesside that time me thinks). We went to Sheffield only when Boro was playing far away the same weekend. We both liked Wednesday as they were playing lower league and Big Jack went there.

    Up the Boro!

    1. Nowadays, I only follow the Pool and Darlo for results regularly. Seen Darlo once in 1980 and I never seen Hartlepool play. I have been to Victoria Park only once to see Boro play there in 1986.

      Nowadays I often choose a week when Boro has two home matches and one away – so there is no place in the calendar to see Darlo or the Monkey Hangers.

      Up the Boro!

  59. Nice to hear Jarkko’s nostalgic story of his Boro experiences. When I was doing my National Service in Singapore my mother used to send me the cuttings of the Gazette and Sports Gazette by sea-mail but because the Suez Canal was closed in the mid fifties, took six weeks to arrive. Luckily The Singapore Straits Times published all the English and Scottish results on Sundays. My mates serving in Cyprus and Germany had the advantage of the British Forces Network Service which obviously broadcast at a more reasonable hour as Singapore was 7 and a half hours ahead of GMT.

  60. RR,

    Thank you for your report, it sounds as if Boro need their points cleaned, carburettor adjusted and a shot of Redex. Or maybe the officials need, as Len Shackleton said, a rub down with the rule book. Mr Pulis hasn’t achieved a smooth running or consistent machine yet and I can’t understand why.

    Will Wing, Tavernier and Fry see pitch time anytime soon?



  61. Thank you for another excellent match report RR. Your reference to “Busy doing Nothing” and “Weaker than a Vaux shandy” made me chuckle.

    I agree with your MOTM assessment that it was Clayton again and posted immediately after the match that he was my choice.

    I found it to be another frustrating evening where some 4/5 years on, numerous managers, changes in personnel, that we are still discussing the same old failings.

    A lack of tempo, creativity and goal scoring. When o when is this going to be sorted!

    We persist in playing players who are failing to deliver what they are supposed to be skilled at doing, others we ask/require them to play in a way in which they are not suited whilst we allow more accomplished and versatile players to move to direct competitors. It really does beggar belief.

    Last night was reminiscent of some of the early games under GM when we really struggled to be convincing against poor sides and the result, whilst positive, flatters to deceive. It was back to the days of playing for only half a match and then hanging on. We will not always get a way with it against some of the stronger sides.

    I remain unconvinced that, unless we can address these issues, we can sustain an automatic promotion spot. Swansea on Saturday will be a different kettle of fish and will require an improved performance if we are to get any points from the game.

    1. KP
      Stand by for a shock.
      Your blog is a perfect rendition of what happened on the pitch on Wednesday, and it was in agreement with every other person in attendance.
      Furthermore your conclusions were correct (and you forecast for the future were not bad either).
      the point which is being ignored, is of course the goals.
      we floated up to the top of the league on goals. Goals made by fluid football, goals scored from dead ball situations, both home and away. These goals have been removed from the team surgically, for a reason, but we are not privy to that reason. I cannot see the present method delivering promotion, sadly, because at sometime you have to declare your intentions and dominate the opposition, failure to do so will cost you when it matters.
      The classic moment last season was the first game against Aston Villa in the playoffs, we were full of plans, and what we should have done was attack them full on with everything that we had, and finish the match in one bite, as they were a team of crocks and long term injured. Which was what we did to Brentford in our last playoff occasion.

  62. Riverside Live

    Many thanks for all those who posted about the Riverside Live stream and I was sorry to learn that the system is still not functioning as it should and keeps dropping out.

    I watched via the Sky red button last night and had no problems with quality or continuity. It was the basic iFollow service comprising just one camera, no replays and supplemented with a commentator,

    I would please ask that all those using the system provide feedback and express your frustrations to MFC via their website as it is the only way we will hopefully get the problem resolved.

  63. Copy of email to MFC re Riverside Live:

    I am writing to express my concern and that of friends across the globe who have subscribed to the Riverside Live service, in particular the live match video service.

    I did not use the service last night as I had experienced problems when watching the Norwich game when the system failed/dropped out on at least 15 occasions. Instead, I was able to make use of the Sky red button and watched the sky coverage, which I accept had only one camera and no replays or pre/post match coverage. It did, however, show the match in its entirety without any interruptions.

    I understand from quite a number of friends that did watch via Riverside Live last night, that yet again whilst the quality was good the system failed on c.20 occasions and the link dropped out.

    This is all highly frustrating and annoying when we were promised, and are paying for, a service which would be superior to iFollow. We are now seven games into the season and whilst it has improved from the first two games it is still not what is expected and clearly there appears to be a content provider issue rather than anything to do with internet speeds etc.

    Please can you explain exactly what the problem is and when it will be resolved?

    The Swansea game is coming up on Saturday and whilst I am looking forward to the game, I am not looking forward to having to constantly refresh my Lap Top page because the feed has crashed and potentially missing key parts of the match.

    I look forward to hearing from you with hopefully some positive news which I can share with friends’ world-wide.

  64. KPinSpain
    Agreed. I too have written to MFC setting out the same comments. I must add that I also find it very annoying when the producer chooses to replay some action or show a close-up of a player when the actual match is continuing elsewhere. One sequence of repeats took at least 20 seconds and I had no idea what was going on.

    I also feel that the squad should be given time to gel and out of that will come more knowledge of the best combinations for different circumstances. We have some excellent players in the squad and I think that time will show our ability to cope with multiple games, injuries and suspensions. It’s srill very early days and, as with the TV coverage, let’s hope that everything keeps on improving.


  65. Great work from Werder and RR.
    Let’s get some perspective, this is the championship and no game is easy. Take 3 points and move on. Happy that the banana skin wasn’t slipped on.
    22 teams will be wishing they are where we are.
    Also, I love TP,s press
    How refreshing to hear the truth rather than excuses.
    He says what we are thinking and long may it continue

  66. KP and Selwynoz, could you please confirm the email address you sent your complaint to so they all go to the place/person.

    Also at 10 pounds, although I only paid 5 for Norwich (iFollow) I am wondering if it would be better to take out an annual pass at 150 is it??

    1. Pedro

      Probably, but that will depend upon how many games you intend to warch via the streaming service.

      The email I used was via the club website under the “Contact Us” section.

  67. MFC response re Riverside Live issues:


    Firstly I would like to apologise for the ongoing issues with our Live Streaming service in regard to error messages and drop outs.

    We are working none stop with our developers and streaming partner to get this issue resolved. Obviously we have just Video Streamed our 6th fixture and it’s not acceptable to still be an issue. As compensation we are offering refunds for when the poor service occurs, however we do understand supporters would prefer to have the quality service rather than a refund.

    Just as a recap…….

    Live Streaming To Date
    We opted to provide the service to overseas supporters for the 2018-19 season after careful consideration and financial modelling. We knew there would be significant challenges, including but not limited to:

    • maintaining a high level of quality in keeping with our content production values (such as the Riverside LIVE production for home games);
    • lack of previous live streaming production (we are not a broadcaster);
    • working with up to 6 companies for the production and delivery;
    • the complexities of regulations from the EFL regarding viewership, payment options and security protocols;
    • timing from decision to season start; and
    • creating a viable product on a ‘break even’ budget basis.

    Quite frankly, the easiest option would have been not to undertake the project in the first instance. However, this isn’t the route we wished to take for our overseas supporters and whilst we haven’t covered ourselves in glory, this isn’t through a lack of trying and dedication to getting things right. Where we haven’t got things right, we have provided refunds of the subscription fee to ensure supporters aren’t out of pocket.

    We have seen noticeable improvements across the live streaming service from game to game so far. We have isolated, investigated and resolved 2 serious issues in the delivery set-up that didn’t appear in the pre-launch testing. We continue to work closely with the 4 technology companies involved in the streaming delivery to learn, refine, test and evaluate.

    It’s important that we iron out any issues so we can gain the trust of yourself and supporters everywhere.

    If you have any other queries please don’t hesitate to ask.

    Kind regards,

    Alex Thompson | Data and Insight Executive

    1. Thanks for being so active on this matter, KP. Boro are nearly there – several camera angles, Gordon Cox and Dave (!) Parnaby commentating, replays etc are excellent service.

      But we need to get rid of refreshing the page when they stop proadcasting. Also I hope the stream quality could be slightly better like it is when they show the highlights and full 90 min afterwards on their web site.

      I hope they get the breaks away – I often have the problems more in the second half.

      Up the Boro!

  68. Thank you RR for your detailed and interesting match report, and essentially as I saw the game. It helped fill in some of the gaps left by the inconsistent streaming which although did not spoil the overall delivery and picture quality, was irritating to say the least.

    The match itself, apart from the first 10/15 minutes and the two goals was poor. Some better performances, but team wise disjointed once more.

    I can only endorse KP’s post at 11.18. No intensity, abysmal passing and dead ball kicks were once more poor to say the least. I am sure I could the ball with more pace and I was never a professional footballer.

    Hugill did not offer any more than Britt and should have taken his one good chance better……whatch he Britt. Gestede when TP brings him back will also be no better.

    The defence is fine most of the time, but should be with the defensive midfielders lurking. However those same midfielders, in the more supposed attacking role were in reality poor. How many shots did they have, on or off target? Nowhere near enough is the answer. There was some nice play from MB, but nothing again for the man alone up front or for MB in the boxes where he can be productive.

    The wide players, whether wing backs or the midfielders playing wide as last night get many crosses into the box for the likes of Britt or Hugill (last night).

    Can we keep up the victories of these early matches or will the better and more physical teams, especially away from home, see us off. We got lucky last night, we won’t get lucky every match and points will dropped may be too many.

  69. KP, thanks for posting the MFC reply.

    I have only had one refund, Millwall and at 10 pounds for last night wound expect a 50% return. Not sure about any other refunds for poor streams.

  70. Pedro

    It was the two early games for which MFC were giving refunds as they failed to provide a service at all and a limited one in the second game. They seem less inclined now to offer a refund as they have got the system up and running albeit with too many glitches.

    If you intend contacting them then you can always ask for a refund/partial refund and see if they will oblige. They have been sympathetic in the past and if you have not had a refund previously then they may be obliging. Don’t ask don’t get is my view.

    If you are still considering the season pass then one thing to consider is that it also covers the audio pass so that when the cup games are not video streamed live you can listen to the audio commentary at no extra cost eg Preston next week.

  71. Another busy day so just catching up, enjoyed reading RR’s match report over breakfast but had no time to post – some good lines again with my favourite “It was such a relief to see Boro midfielder who could hit a ball that was not only reasonably on target but one that didn’t trigger any alarms at Fylingdales” – I think a Clayton effort may have scrambled a few jets. Also it was a good point, which I had not registered about both goals being gifted to Boro with defensive howlers coming from Bolton – which is a bit of a concern.

    Though overall I quite liked the balance of the left-footers of Saville in midfield, Downing and Friend – with Howson, Braithwaite and Shotton on the right. They all seemed to rotate positions and it could in the long run prove more effective than the 5-3-2. Though that will most likely see Fry missing out and joining Wing as underused options.

    BTW Great post from Jarkko telling the story of how he’s followed Boro over the years. Though one small correction, I was with my 25-year old nephew (actually Never-Give-Up-On-Boro’s son) in the Navi not my son, who’s still only eight! I started quite late in with family game and was already over 45 before finding time to get round to such matters 🙂 Anyway, I agree with GHW that it’s worthy of being a lead article and was a great read – maybe we could start a section where posters write anecdotes of how they started following the Boro?

    1. Sorry, Werder, my bad. I should have remembered it was Never-Give-Up-Boro’s son as I have been to a McDonald’s with him before a Boro game in Derby a couple of years later!

      And I have also met Ian shortly at the door in the Navvy, too.

      Up the Boro!

  72. Many thanks to KP for getting on the case about the live stream – it was an interesting reply from Alex Thompson and in some ways he sounds a bit embattled with the situation. I suspect, like with nearly all IT projects, it was sold as being much easier than it actually was by those offering to undertake the work. Perhaps the issues around providing a secure stream to meet EFL standards make some of the technical issues tougher than those on the unofficial streams. Though my inclination would have been to look at which clubs had already got independent streams up and running and looked to have done a joint venture.

    If you start from scratch with these things you will make the same errors as those that have already been solved by others – especially if as he says they are working with 6 separate companies. It’s probably no excuse to say they are not a broadcaster, as that is what they’ve undertaken to become and are charging subscriptions for being one. I’d also say that the stream from Bolton was a step back and not an improvement – even if it is much better than the first few games. Looks like we may need to be a bit more patient until the system is finally smoothed out. I also imagine that they are working hard so I wish them luck.

  73. I was at the Riverside last night for my first ever eveningmatch having managed to combine a work trip *ahem*, with dropping my son off in Leeds via the Riverside.
    I think Redcar has his match report spot on. For me Bolton in the first half were dreadful, but they were significantly better in the second without being much of a threat.
    Boro were decent up to a point in the first half, some good passing and some good link up play but we created little. Second half I thought we were distinctly below par, but a 2-0 win was a fair reflection in the end.
    Is it not true that the sign of a good team is it wins when not playing well?

    We’re well placed, bring on Swansea.

  74. I quite enjoyed it and after the game spent a pleasant 10 minutes talking to the Redcar Rock David Wheater

    He’s a nice guy and during the conversation he reiterated what he said when he left – he never wanted to go away from the Boro. He said it’s been over 8 years since he’s gone but he is gong to come back some day to live permanently

    It’s like us all there’s no place like home and that’s the Boro

    As the saying goes

    “it’s in our blood”


  75. Werdermouth
    Your comments about learning from other people’s successes are certainly true but it does remind me of this interesting anecdote that I saw about how one looks at things. I had never heard of the idea of ‘survivorship bias’ before.

    “There’s a really cool example of the survivorship bias pitfall from World War 2. Fighter planes started coming back with bullet holes in them, and some officers had the idea that you could redistribute the armour of the plane to the locations they were most often getting hit. Sounds smart. Fortunately Hungarian mathematician Abraham Wald was smarter, and told them to redistribute the armour to the places where there were no bullet holes. The planes who got hit in those places weren’t coming back.

    If you’re trying to work out what distinguishes one thing from another (for example indie game studios that make it and those that don’t), you can’t only look at one of the things. Success is the dependent variable (to say, it depends on other factors). If you want to know which factors affect success, you have to look at failures too.”

    Applied to the MFC streaming situation, it would suggest that you will learn as much if not more from people who have failed at the task that you have set yourself as you will learn from those that have succeeded. Thinking back, this make sense to many situations when you see somebody make a pigs ear of something and you say to yourself “must remember not to do that”.

    Just a digression that caught my attention but I wonder if TP could be said to be building a strong team by avoiding mistakes rather than by taking positive steps. I’m honestly not sure but clearly something as simple as not messing about with the ball in your own penalty area is a lesson to be taken from Boro’s first goal against Bolton


    1. Very good, I like the logic of that WW2 story – I wonder if it worked? Though I wouldn’t disagree with your general point about learning valuable information from failures. My point would be to use the same companies who’ve already got a successful streaming service up and running with another club – though maybe MFC did? Though my experience of working with IT projects is that amount of work, along with the problems is usually underestimated by at least 50% and the delivery time is set at when the client wishes it rather than something more realistic.

  76. Pedro

    Just another thought regarding video streaming of matches. It may be worth purchasing your match pass from the opposition website as we did last year as they may be cheaper than Boro.

    Swansea appear to be offering match passes at £7.99. You may have to accept in some cases you will only get one camera and there may not be any commentary unlike the Boro offering of four cameras, commentary and replays with the added bonus at present of regular loss of the stream! 😎

    1. KP, thank you so much for your help with this. 👍 😎
      Before tomorrow’s match I will make a spread sheet and see which is the most economical option.
      As I have already said I purchased a ST and probably will only see 8/10 matches at most.
      Pity they don’t do pensioner specials for the videos.

    1. GWH! That is noncence nowadays. We are the sixth most happiest fans there are in the Champioship nowadays. The Gazette wrote about that the other day.

      That happened typically in the 1960’s if I remember correctly!

      Great to watch, anyway. Up the Boro,a

  77. What a sad World we live in, but how touching to see brave little Lucyana in not only in the Boro dressing room and leading the team out on Wednesday, but also enjoying a kick about with her favourites. God bless the special little lady and also her mother who I understand has an incurable breast cancer.

    1. It puts life into perspective and focuses the mind on what is of real value contrasted with our over emotional sense of entitlement watching millionaires kick a ball around a field!

    1. I did not forget you, mate.

      I mentioned you in the original post – “Sorry if I forgot to list someone. Later I have also met OFB, Len and Never-Give-Up-Boro live. All wonderful people and Boro fans.” As I referred to posters here, I did not mention your beauty, though (except she is here – but I do not know!).

      As Ian was missing from the original, I added him to the later post. UTB!

  78. Its rumoured that Gary Barlow is being held against his will at the Bodymoor Training Complex by an overweight Geordie insisting he signs a deal now.

    He has asked Gary to show a little “Patience” as Villa aim to “Rule the World” insisting that the last game of this season will be Villa’s “Greatest Day”. He has told Gary to “Never Forget” that Aston Villa will “Shine” again once James Collins gets there through “The Flood” from last nights storms and that when he does he intends to tell him that “I want you back for good”.

    It hasn’t appeared on Sky Sports ticker-tape breaking news banner yet but watch this space!

  79. Jarkko

    As you may recall. we only just met up. You were leaving the Navi with your cohort from Finland as I arrived with my son. We had been held up in traffic.

  80. Well I’ve had confirmed booking for my take that seats to keep Mrs OFB happy and hopefully see the Riverside preparing for another season in the Premiership!


  81. Whilst we all focus on tomorrow’s game against the Swans there is an interesting little encounter at Elland Road where Gary Monk takes his binary specialists back to his former residence.

    On Paper it looks like a home banker as Birmingham have won no games thus far this season, they have however only lost two games and drawn the rest. While sharing the spoils six times this season they have only conceded seven goals which is far less than many top half sides.

    1. I take that he’s another Garry who has set the bar low – a bit ironic that he was supposed to be the man who would get Boro playing exciting entertaining football but he’s got stats that Karanka would be proud of.

  82. Though only eight games have been played, it’s noticeable that half of ours have been against sides currently in the top six. Are we giving ourselves enough credit?

    I fancy another gritty home win tomorrow.

  83. RR
    Re your post at 6.20. We (I include myself in We) moan and groan about MFC at times despite our unwavering support for the club we all love.

    Often we forget about all the good things they do as an organisation aside from the football. It brought a lump to my throat when I learned of this little girl’s plight and that of her mum. It was brilliant to see her lead the team out and the way in which she and her family were looked after by MFC.

    I can genuinely say that I am proud to follow the Boro.

    Well done to all at MFC and my thoughts go out to Darcy and her family.

  84. Any predictions here? I will go for a 3-0 surprice win for TP troops. They had a “horror” 2-0 win on Wednesday and need to bounce back now.

    Ayala, Braithwaite and Assombalonga scoring. Up the Boro!

  85. Interesting fixture selection, Leeds Birmingham and Boro Swansea… What’s the common denominator anyone.
    I expect we will see a different attitude on the pitch today from both sides. Swansea will offer much greater threat than Bolton and Boro will react to that. So, for those that can get to the Riverside today, I expect an exciting and closely fought encounter.
    Bwrdeistref dau, Abertawe un

  86. Interesting comments from TP in his press comments about referee’s decisions and fixture allocations. Obviously I would expect him to be a little biased about both subjects. However the referee’s decisions had no bearing on the results, except possibly the match against Leeds, but that might be offset with the win against West Bromwich Albion had the referee spotted Ayala’s winner being slightly controlled by his hand. Similarly, the fact that Swansea having two away fixtures, one of which entails a long journey to Teesside today, might well have influenced the fixture makers in striking a balance by moving Boro’s match with Bolton to Wednesday.

    One might say that there are two sides to every argument, but as I say one would expect TP to look at it from Boro’s point of view. I would prefer that he didn’t have these little digs about certain occurrences, but accept that these decisions tend to even themselves out over a season. Just my opinion.

    As for today’s match I’m going for a 0-1 defeat in the hope that my predictions continue to be poor. Attendances are hard to predict, but I feel many folk want to be entertained more despite winning matches, and that’s why they are below par for a team challenging for promotion – 23,700 today.

  87. A comment about Wednesday’s match.

    It was not hugely entertaining and both goals came from defensive mistakes. The truth is all goals come from defensive mistakes or every game would finish 0-0.

    The difference against Bolton was that they were more obvious.

    I have just watched the highlights and the clue is in the length of the video. Normally you 10-11 minutes. They lasted 6 minutes and the build up, goal celebrations and replays filled most of that.

    1. It was Gary O’Neils best game for Boro, without his “pass” I doubt we would have collected all three points. Had it still been 0-0 in the dying moments Bolton would have been holding a tight rearguard instead of pushed up the pitch allowing Britt to run onto a poor misplaced header from Wilson to seal the win.

      The value of Saville being able to hit a ball with a degree of control cannot be over emphasised. Clayts and Downing’s shots are worse than terrible and how they can get to the level of professionalism they have whilst not mastering how to hit a ball with power and accuracy is poor in the extreme. Maybe my memory is fading or rose tinted but I seem to recall a younger Downing scoring goals and hitting the target. Maybe its modern balls that behave differently “in-flight” but either way a training opportunity is obviously being missed.

      Both suffer from the same identical problem which is absent during the warm ups and mysteriously reappears only during games. Its possibly psychological or more likely to do with weight distribution, standing foot, balance and most importantly the point and angle of contact between their boot and the ball. Surely the Coaching and Technical team should have analysed, identified and sorted this weakness out but meantime today we will no doubt be treated to more swathes of the North and South Stands ducking to get out of the way of flying balls.

      I’m going 2-0 to Boro with Downing and Clayton both scoring 😉

  88. Ken

    I don’t subscribe to the it all evens out over the season. That would mean teams would get correct decisions when playing manchelskiarsespudspool. Doesn’t happen.

    After watching Hugill at Norwich and on Wednesday it appears he’s going to be another Jutkevich as in he’ll get battered from pillar to post and get nothing from the officials as he’s a “big lad”.

  89. Had an early start this morning hoovering the drive after the storm yesterday left all kinds of detritus on it – not that I’m an obsessive compulsive cleaner, it’s just that the workman was finally coming at 8.00am with a heavy-duty vibrating machine to flatten all the new stones. Unfortunately after he was two-thirds of the way through the motor broke and leaked oil onto my lovely new drive so spent the next hour doing a clean-up operation. As usual, it was a case of a bad workman blaming his bad tools – which is why I usually end up doing everything myself!

    Anyway, looking forward to the game today and hoping there will be no blaming of tools for the live feed by the MFC workmen. I’m expecting Pulis will set up in a similar way as for the Bolton game, the decisions my be around if Howson is fit or not and whether Hugill starts over Britt. If Howson is unfit then I wouldn’t be surprised to see McNair start as he’s a natural right-sided midfielder who could rotate with Shotton and Braithwaite. I’d be inclined to go with Assombalonga as he’s a better bet for home games for me than Hugill – who could perhaps work better on the road holding the ball up.

    I expect it will be a cagey game with Swansea’s manager Potter looking to get the tactical upper-hand over Pulis. Though I’m working on the principal that Boro will have learned a bit more on how to play the system after Tuesday and will have better direction from set-plays than on Wednesday.

    So 2-0 to Boro with goals from Flint and Saville.

    OK, back to work before kick-off as I’ve got some preparations for evening guests to do first.

  90. Just logged into MFC and paid for a single match viewing. My spreadsheet shows this will probably work out cheaper if Boro keep doing well and I go back to the UK to fit in with the homes matches more.

    Hoping for a good result and a good match from the Boro point of view. Britt to start along with Saville with a flat back four. MB in there also.
    Crowd of 23600

  91. Assombalonga came on Wednesday and showed some real intent and topped it off with a superb finish for his goal. I expect him to hit the ground running at 3:00.

  92. Not too many clear chances in the first half and Boro seem to be happy to let Swansea dictate the pace and possession. A few good moves from Boro but not many dangerous deliveries, one from Shotton I recall but most have been comfortable for their keeper. Swansea had a couple of chances early one but haven’t looked particularly dangerous. Howson has looked quiet and Saville has been the better of the two midfielders. I would perhaps like to see McQueen get another run out on the left but my money is on Pulis putting on Besic first.

    BTW The stream stopped four times before kick-off and I was fearing the worst but has only(?) stopped 5 times in the first 45 minutes so not too bad – it’s obviously still work-in-progress.

  93. Swansea having more of the possession and creating more from the wide positions with Roberts and Routledge having the edge over George and MB. couple of half chances from them and a couple from us, with Saville hitting the crossbar.
    Need more intensity and more from Howson.

  94. Well it always looked like a 0-0 from early on – both teams defended in numbers and both keepers in truth had little to do. It has probably been a feature of Boro’s recent performances that they rarely look like creating goals with now three of the last four games ending without a goal – just those two goals from defensive errors against Bolton. Though in the end a useful point with Leeds losing at home to Birmingham but a lack of a cutting edge is not going to be sustainable in the long term. 5 points from 12 is not shouting automatic promotion but at least the consolation of another clean sheet. Probably Clayton again being MOM – though very little competition.

    1. Agreed Werder……….I said previously, we will not be able to sustain a position at the top based solely on defence. I know we are at the top as some will say, but staying there will be another thing.

    2. Werder, any point is a useful point but 2 more points today would have been particularly valuable as they would have taken us clear at the top of the table. I have heard before the argument that a point is OK because a nearest rival lost (I know that’s not what you said) but if we win in that scenario it damages the rival rather than let’s them off the hook as we did for Leeds today.

      The team desperately needs more creativity and pace and I only hope that we are still in contention around the top of the league in January and that the club busts a gut then to get those qualities into the squad.

  95. Some very very average performances today from some of the Boro players. Britt and MB virtually no support and nothing changed with the changes in the second half.

  96. Clayton man of the match by 100 miles AGAIN
    I don’t want him to be MOM, I want a goal scorer or a goal creator to be MOM.
    Maybe I am greedy and selfish.
    We are still on target at 2 points per game so we don’t have to look at the table

  97. 😭😭Well, I’m in A&E ….gutted i have sprained my ankle, and i have a few cuts an bruises.😩
    Today is not a good day. I decided to go horse riding for a change, Something I haven’t done for years and It turned out to be a big mistake! I got on the horse and we started off slowly, grew in confidence, went a little faster, before I knew it, we were going as fast as the horse could go. I couldn’t take the pace and fell off, caught my foot in the stirrup with the horse dragging me behind. It just wouldn’t stop!!Thankfully the manager at Tesco came out and unplugged the machine 😉

  98. Well if GHW has had one of those days as Tony Pulis might call it then so did Boro today. Although, I’ve probably also had one of those days in spades – as you may recall I was up at 6am and started working an hour later to prepare the drive for a workman , whose machine subsequently broke and poured oil over my new drive that required over an hour of cleaning. Next up was the weekly shop in preparation of guests for dinner – I missed Mrs Werder’s SMS telling me not to get a gas bottle for the Soda-stream as ‘we’ no longer buy bottled water so had to make a 25 minute round trip to get one after returning. Got home to discover they’d actually given me another empty bottle by mistake so now had to make the trip again and got home just in time for the match – though was now running late and had to prepared some food whist watching the game.

    As soon as the game finished it was non-stop preparing more food and then fired up the grill for the meat 15 minutes before the guest were due to arrive. Suddenly the gas grill caught fire and I had to abandon it and move into the kitchen instead with now only a couple of minutes before the guests were due. Luckily nobody had arrived yet, but after another 15 minutes had passed, Mrs Werder was getting impatient, she checked her smart phone for messages as the table was now fully prepared and stocked with food. That is when she made the announcement “Oh No” – “what’s happened?” I asked – she smiled and replied “Sorry it’s next weekend they’re coming!”. So ends another hectic day and unfortunately we’ll have to do it all again next week 🙁 Looks like X-Factor and wine instead and possibly food…

  99. My disappointment of not seeing a victory after a long trip from Huddersfield was eased by my wife and I enjoying a meal with friends on Teesside .
    Whilst some constructive criticism of Boro is due, I have to say I was impressed by Swansea who passed the ball well and controlled much of the first half and if they had been a bit more adventurous could have ‘ nicked it ‘
    I couldn’t fault the players efforts but the main shortcoming was again evident – a lack of creativity and so scoring goals is going to be the major problem for the rest of the season. Braithwaite despite the occasional bits of skill didn’t create much for himself or for a teammate. I don’t think he is physically strong enough for this league. Asambolonga just isn’t good enough in controlling the ball and playing as a front man in holding up the ball. He just doesn’t fit the way the team play.
    Hugill looks more suited but I don’t see him as a prolific goal scorer. Shotton saw a lot of the ball but is not a good crosser of the ball.
    Despite the shortcomings of other players I found myself watching Clayton in all he did. In the position and role he is asked to do he was outstanding.
    If other players did their job as well , we would be well clear at the top of the league.
    Still, being joint top at this stage of the season is a good position to be in.

  100. Thanks Redcar Red,
    It looks as if we were watching the same game but you didn’t have to cope with the intermittent streaming lapses which is getting a bit frustrating. It did occur to me that the game was quite similar to the Leeds v Boro game in that the away side played extremely solidly and frustrated most of the home team’s attempts to score. I would say that Swansea created less chances than we did at Leeds and Boro created more chances yesterday than Leeds did against us. When looked at in that light, I’m tempted to shrug and move on. Looking at the table and the teams clustering at the top just reinforces what a difficult division this is and how tough the season os going to be. Will the ability to concede very few goals be our best weapon.

    Shotton and Clayton looked to be the standouts but it’s hard to say that any of the rest of the defence did much wrong. In attacking terms, Braithwaite has the x-factor and its perhaps a question of working out the best combination of people round him.

    I do have one moan about our long throw ins and it comes from watching the goal that Huddersfield scored. They set up so that the back header from the throw propelled the ball into an area just between the six yard line and the penalty spot. This made it impossible for the keeper to come and get it and resulted in a goal being scored. Most of our throws that get headed on seem to end up with the all being plucked out of the air by the keeper who has the length of his arms as an advantage over everybody else. Just a thought.

    Interesting challenge for the blog to pick the team for Tuesday. Two points for getting a starting player right and one point for getting someone who starts on the bench.


  101. Thanks RR for your report and picking out the notable points of a very average match. At least the quality of the stream has improved, unfortunately our play in the final third is still as poor as it has been for many a season.

    For me Clayton was again MoTM and showed as much forward endeavour as the rest of the midfield put together.

    I am also concerned that the bench comprises players who are too similar to those on the pitch and TP ends up changing like for like rather than with a player who will be a game changer or add a different skill set.

    The lack of tempo, creativity, goalscoring and diversity could eventually lead us to falling short of our goal.

    It was frustrating that we did not take advantage of the slip ups by the other main contenders yesterday. Perhaps we can take solace from being still in an automatic promotion position and are showing this season that we can match and in some instances beat the teams around us, which is clearly a step forward on last season.

    Tuesday will no doubt see a number of changes for the cup game at Preston and give the likes of Wing and Tavernier to keep themselves in TP’s thoughts.

  102. Cheers for the report, RR.

    Disappointed to draw a blank but I think everyone connected with Boro knew that goals would be the main issue this season. It’s good to see that we’re still consistently picking up points when the goals aren’t there.

    I’m not convinced that the 4-3-3 system is the way forward for us. We don’t have the wide players and the striker always seems to end up isolated and short on service. I much prefer the wingbacks. Not for the extra centre-half but for the fact it puts another striker in, closer to the front man, and helps with linking up the departments.

    It’s a real shame that Christie or Fabio have gone to really make that system work.

    All change for Tuesday I suspect. I’d go with (3-5-2):

    Flint Fry Batth
    McNair Wing Leadbitter Besic McQueen
    Fletcher Hugill

  103. First off thanks to RR for his “Live Match” report and very good intro into it.

    As a few of the posters have commented on and against us being joint top. yesterdays game once more highlighted the lack of real opportunities created to score goals. Yes Boro were up against a well marshalled and set up defensive team but that is going to happen more often than not. Opposing managers realise that if you stifle the midfield and get players behind the ball, then nothing will reach the two front players.

    I think Philip is correct in saying that both Britt and MB have limitations in these set ups preferred by TP. Although Hugill works hard and can hold the ball up better than the former the gap between the number 9 and the rest is usually far too big. As soon as Gestede is match fit then I am afraid that he will be first choice, but with no greater success in bringing players in or scoring goals. In fact worse at the latter.

    We had ten corners taken between SD and now Howson. Neither were any better than the other, all rather poor “floater type” deliveries, too close to the keeper and relatively easy for defenders. None had the pace of those that Wing previously delivered. No variation even to hitting a ball to the D, nothing just easy floaters. the long throws no different. Can Mr Pulis not see that the dead back kicks are not getting the results they should for the number we are having??

    Since dropping Wing after the Bristol match, we have only scored 3 goals in 5 matches, and the two against Bolton were gifted albeit both taken very well. The WBA goal well taken with the use of a hand. Whilst I am not saying Wing is the answer to the problem of lack of goals, his deliveries were far superior than what we are getting now. We have midfielders that are far to similar apart from Clayton who was immense yesterday and he probably made more longer forward passes than anybody else. Not sure what will will do when he gets suspended. Saville was once more tidy and was unlucky hitting the crossbar, but Howson for all his running contributed little, one cross of note? Besic, well he has not impressed at all and that is were Wing could have been used yesterday.

    Yes we are joint top and deserve to be there. But the question is can we stay there playing the way we are, not conceding many, but not scoring the goals that win matches.

    1. Pedro
      Beautifully put, and so right, with the right players on the pitch we could have been cruising by now.
      We have stopped scoring goals for a reason, and will be found out in due course.
      It’s curious, but we seem to be unable to believe in lucky signings, we must have signed Wing from non league football for a reason ( we have of course forgotten the reason) he was the reason for our brilliant form whilst he was in the team, why and who decided that it had nothing to do with him, in fact we would improve the team by removing him. Hhhm! That worked out well. I hope we are given advance warning of his next brilliant idea, that’s if we can afford any more “ideas”
      We will forget for the moment Tavernier, one headache at a time is more than enough.
      This is all of a piece with Traore, or should that be “just a little dribbler” I see that Wolves and their supporters are in love with him ( together with the national press) at the end of the game on Saturday he actually burst through the centre and into the box, strange that we never did that. There will be no prizes for guessing his price when he moves, it certainly will not make pleasant reading for the club hierarchy.

  104. Well that was as frustrating as yesterday……just spent an age writing a diatribe and it has just vanished into the unknown.

    Well the basis of it was not scoring goals since TP dropped Wing against WBA. 3 goals in 5 games, although all well taken, one a hand ball, so stop complaining TP, and two gifted.

    Against Swansea, ten corners and numerous long throw-ins all to no avail. No variation, no pace, nothing, just all the same floaters for the keeper and defenders to take care of. Wings had pace and so were harder to deal with.

    Clayton was immense and made more longer forward passes I would say than any other player, probably more than all the others put together. Saville was tidy once more and unlucky with his short against the crossbar. Howson ran and ran but apart from one cross into the box created nothing. Besic, well everybody wanted MFC to buy him, on this showing just as well it is only a loan. That is where Wing would have been a better choice to inject a little more pace and have for any dead ball kicks.

    We may have the best defence, but unless we score goals we will not win the matches needed to keep us at the top. Mr Pulis needs to come up with an answer to this problem and Gestede will not be the solution.

    Whilst I can agree to a degree with Philip about Britt and MB and also Hugill on his limited showings to date, the gap between the front and the so called mid-fielders is far, far to big and when we do get crosses into the box there are only one or two Boro players there. Time for a rethink TP

  105. It’s not disastrous clearly, we’re joint top as TP points out, but the creativity is a worry.
    It has been a season of two parts, pre Leeds form will take us up easily, while since then is ben DLWD which will see us sitting in the bottom half if extrapolated to the season’s end.
    It’s a lot to ask of Wing, Tavernier and Chapman but a slot on the subs bench now be encouraging for us all. Braithwaite is not the answer, no willing to get stuck in and he’ll be whinging again come Christmas.
    But overall, a very good start indeed. If we continue to not succeed, we will go up.

  106. Another moan now from TP about the number of midweek fixtures. It’s the same for all teams in the Championship, and we probably agree with him that it’s not ideal, but I’d be more impressed with him if he’d concern himself more with things he is able to change than things outside of his control.

    Now I’ve got that off my chest, let’s look at the positives. We’ve played only 9 matches, 5 at home and 4 away. We’ve won 5 drawn 3 and lost only one, but scored only 10 goals and conceded 6 and accumulated 18 points and sit top of the table.

    See my deliberate mistake! I’m referring to the start of the 1973/74 season (except that I’ve updated 3 points for a win instead of 2). Did Jack Charlton get as much flak from Boro fans for playing such boring football? Whether he tweaked things here and there I can’t remember, but Boro had automatic promotion tied up before April and Boro accumulated 65 points (equate that to 92 today because of the 27 wins) and that was from 42 matches. The question is with a transfer window due in January, can TP emulate what Jack did? After all he has the advantage of a better goal difference (11-3 as opposed to 10-6 that Boro had then) and 4 extra matches to maintain the automatic criterion of obtaining 2 points a match.

    For the record in that 1973/74 season Boro lost only 4 matches (2 of them were in mid-April, long after winning the Championship had been confirmed) and finished with scoring 77 goals and conceding a mere 30. Yes we had a better team then than now with eleven players making at least 33 appearances, but the league was not much weaker than today’s.

    So, over to you Mr Pulis.

  107. Thanks RR and your report is how I saw it as well

    I cannot understand how out of touch the officials appear to be for our games

    Twice a flag was raised for offside and twice it took the ref a full 2 minutes to see it and stop the game.

    It’s obvious that some of them haven’t played football because some of the fouls and challenges were resulting in obscure and paltry decisions.

    It’s also interesting that most times an attack is developing a player goes down in the box and play is stopped. Only head injuries should stop the game if an opposing team is attacking

    That’s two matches two poor refs

    At least I got the ⚽️⚽️ Right I fortunately

    Thanks again RR for your great match report


  108. Thanks for another quality write up RR. That’s pretty much how it looked on the live stream.

    Yesterday’s performance was a big improvement from the Norwich game and a bit better than against Bolton even though we won that and scored 2 goals. Like other posters I thought Swansea passed the ball about very well but when push comes to shove the Boro back line were more than up to their defensive duties.

    The live stream only dropped out twice for a few seconds which was a big plus point on previous streams.

    Clayton was everywhere, Shotton played Olsen well apart from one I’ll judged challenge and Saville looks like he’s settling in. Just as long as he doesn’t do anymore dying swans in the box cheating to get a penalty. One of the few decisions the ref managed to get right!


    I’m confident that TP is the right manager to help Boro mount a serious promotion challenge and as it stands we are on track with that. I am however a bit concerned about our lack of goals, and the apparent inability to mount attacks at pace which can have opposition derences back peddling in disarray.

    I realise this problem is down to players leaving and targeted replacements not arriving but if a player doesn’t want to come to Middlesbrough there’s not a lot the manager and recruitment team can do. Other than offer rediculous wages which is something I hope SG wouldn’t give the green light for as we’ve been down that dangerous road too many times.

    Our goals against (3) is the best in the league with the Swans closest with 6 so maybe a few daft quid on nil nil would’ve been a good bet. Not that I do personally.

    Another issue of concern for me is the form of Besic. I was more than happy we managed to secure his signature but in the games he has played that I’ve seen, both on tv and live, he’s not showing the form of last season. Apart from the Villa play off games! Lack of a decent pre season could be an issue, who knows, but he’s definitely been disappointing so far imo.

    In a pre season post I mentioned that this could be one championship campaign too far for Stewie Downing. As a self confessed fan of SD unfortunately I haven’t seen much to alter that opinion, but what does TP do give relatively inexperienced younger players a go? As I see it he doesn’t have many more options so it’s a yes from me.

    So a higher tempo when attacking, move the ball forward quicker in a controlled manner, play or at least name on the subs bench some quicker younger players and I think we’ll have a more than decent chance of automatic promotion. Injuries and suspensions permitting of course.


    Listened to the Tees phone in and a man called Bob with an accent from a bit further up the road than Middlesbrough came on and spoke an awful lot of sense. Was it your good self per chance?

    To round off a long post (hooray I hear you cheer). We’ve had the day off work today as it’s the Saudi National Day and I’ve just had a message to say we’re off tomorrow as well! Apparently it’s a thank you for all the hard work that’s been put in lately. Yes my 3 weeks at home and in Gran Canaria were absolute hell.

    I did go to Norwich mind😉

  109. FAA

    Thank you for crediting me with words of wisdom on the Radio but I must confess it was not I as I was having a long chat with John Hickton one of my heroes after the game.

    He’s promised to do a follow up to his interview and if anyone has a question that they would like him to answer then please let me know

    As an ex ref I’d have given a penna but then I’m biased!

    I was talking to Steve Vickers on wed night and he said that quite a few of the ex Boro players are reading the blog and are lurkers which is nice to hear.

    By the way did I mention that I’d forecast ⚽️⚽️?

    Had to get it right sometime !



    1. OFB
      Going back to my comparison with the Jack Charlton season you would have been in your element as the 3 draws in those first 9 matches were all consecutive 0-0 draws – home to Villa, then away to Orient and Blackpool.

  110. I stumbled across this page whilst looking for something else.

    I think its interesting if you take a look but I will let you spot it for yourself. It perhaps confirms that many of us on here are not imagining things and indeed perhaps have spotted an obvious omission that has cost us points of late. There again it could be just pure coincidence, nah I’m not buying that one either!

  111. Okay, it wasn’t amazing. And in the direct aftermath of the match I was frustrated at the missed opportunity to overtake Leeds.

    But. On reflection, I think that functionality, stability and consistency is what we need at the moment, especially after the chaos of 2017 and much of 2016. We’re getting all that, and we’re joint top. So all is good from that point-of-view. At least for now.

    That said. Besic and Braithwaite are concerns, and our contributors are right to raise them.

    It could be as simple as, harsh though this may sound, lack of hunger. In Besic’s case he’s spent long enough at Boro to be in some sort of “comfort zone”, where, as I previously implied, he’s blended into the midfield wallpaper rather than being a standout force.

    If a player feels like a key player and is convinced he is a star in the set up, one that, say, “can’t do without him”, he may be keener to frequently set out to prove it.

    Now, I think Besic is no longer the big fish in Boro’s relatively small midfield pond. Clayton, Howson and Saville are all upstaging him, to some degree. Whereas last season he was something of a spark, this season he returned to a midfield that was actually doing pretty well beforehand. Were you being cruel you could add that since his return, we’ve won just one in four.

    Whether or not he succeeds at Boro, I think, will depend on how willing he is to accept being more of a cog in a machine.

    Braithwaite? The hunger he showed and goals he scored around the time of the transfer deadline fizzled out, it seems, once he didn’t get a move. It could well be that he’s lacking the sense of purpose he once had.

    1. Bit unfair to dig Braithwaite out, he’s given 100% since his failed move and has never sulked. He looked sharp Saturday and could well be the No 10 we’re looking for.

  112. I hope he gets a game on Tuesday, plays well and persuades TP to put him in the team for the game at Hull or at least on the bench.

    Some have said that we cannot expect him to be the answer to our prayers which is true, but I don’t see him being any worse than our other offensive midfielders.

  113. RR
    We thought that our team, which glided to the top of the table on well thought out quick attacking play and our three giant defenders, was broken up for one purpose,
    to get past West Brom and Leeds.
    It worked but only just, a late late goal, and a 0-0. So far so good, then followed a defeat to a team which struggled to find eleven players, and played like it. Followed by a desperate battle against no hopers, no scoring chances, two rebounds(one on 96 minutes) followed by 0-0 ( no we did not make a chance).
    There is a pattern developing here, having thrown away the chance of a four point cushion, we now look like a toothless hound who likes to bark a lot.
    I do not believe that the manager will return to the team that got us to the top, I think he was relieved and glad to settle for functional boredom, the clue is in the total banishment of those who were guilty of playing on the front foot, lots of quick through balls, plenty of goals, easy wins at home ( now there’s a thing, who’d have thought it) so it’s arriverderchi? Wing and Tavernier stamped N.W.O.V (Now there’s a memory from some Troopship long ago). A very strange man indeed.

  114. Why do people keep saying we’re joint top? To coin a good Teesside phrase “It does me ‘ead in”. We are second on goal difference as our goal difference is not as good as the Dirties is. Pedantic maybe but correct.

  115. What does my head in is when folk talk about dropped points. A team can’t drop points except through a deduction for entering administration or failing to fulfil a fixture as Boro did in 1997. All draws and wins are points gained. Also the talk about 6 pointers. Sorry to be pedantic but a team can’t gain 6 points in one match either.

  116. Well I don’t think Boro are playing as a team. rather pedantic I know but I cannot believe that the players are unable to see, as an old phrase went, square pegs. Well they aren’t square but they do no not fit the definition of a team.

    Too many similar players doing similar things. Have the opposition worked out the lack of the unpredictable? Sure they’re all good players, benefit of the doubt here, but Boro are still not a team and perhaps they are too predictable. I don’t know that is Mr Pulis’ problem but there does seem to be a thread or common theme with some managers that they do worry or are frightened of the unpredictable and, dare I say inspirational, players. The players that the fans love to see.

    Fill the bench with the same that you start with and the end is the same. Put some of the players with instinctive vision on the bench and they can, and on some occasions, would or could change a game. If it doesn’t work the manager carries the responsibility, some would argue that is what he’s paid for.

    Come on Mr Pulis, take a chance, if we only draw it’s no big deal. If you don’t test those players they’ll be gone when their contract is up anyway and another loss to the Boro without giving them a chance to prove themselves.

    Just a thought like.



  117. There is another compelling reason for giving young talent a chance. If, and it’s a very big if, this team wins promotion can anyone see anything other than an immediate return to the Championship after a dismally poor season? Personally I am struggling to see any side in the current Premier League with the possible exception of Huddersfield that I feel comfortable that our current team would have a good chance of beating.The current team in my view is way below the standard needed to compete effectively in the big league.

    So to survive the club would need to make a massive investment in players, particularly creative and goal scoring players, immediately on winning promotion. As it appears, based on this summer’s efforts, that it is not at all easy to tempt top players to Teeside, surely it is logical and sensible to retain and develop young players with exceptional talent who stand a chance of making it in the Premier League. Not giving them the opportunity to play in the first team will, as others have said, eventually drive them away and that, to my mind, would be grossly negligent on the part of the club management and self-defeating.

  118. To pick up on Boroexile’s point to me Burnley and Huddersfield are not exactly top of preferred destinations for Footballers these days but Premiership Football is. As we know from the Ravanelli and even Viduka and Hasselbaink (even Negredo and Valdes) days being in the Premiership is the sole attraction for Players either because they desperately just want to play in that League or they see it as a window on their talent, a stepping stone opportunity. Those that turned their noses up at us in August and September were largely ageing has beens that were looking for one last big pay cheque along with their agents. Newcastle are also in the frozen North and suffer the same problem as Boro not because of Geography but because Ashley like Gibson won’t be drawn into paying silly money for mediocrity, not because he is tight but because he is an astute businessman and looks at the Commercial investment not the Emotional investment.

    If say Everton spent £500M in the summer where do we think they would finish in the Premiership? Top of it or maybe scrape 6th or 7th place at very best more likely and Europa League at best or maybe even an FA Cup win. The cost to finance the wage bill on that expenditure would cripple that club unless it was guaranteed Champions League Football and even then arguably worthless unless they get beyond the group stages and not for one season but for four or five successive seasons as a minimum.

    Going back to Boro, utilising our lower investment Players like Wing, Tavernier and Chapman makes sense in theory but on paper a greater risk element than playing proven and tested experienced seasoned players.The question comes down to is it better to play a 5/10 inexperienced wide player in their natural position than an experienced 7/10 midfielder out of position in that same area? As the season progresses we will see what TP decides. Thus far he has gone for experience now MFC have signed them, results however haven’t been as good and at some point they will either click and kick on or we will see Wing and Tav back before long.

  119. I think those who represent our leagues had better take a warning, and I’m really pointing a finger at the way the officials in our games and how they have morphed over recent seasons,to the point were many of them are over Reffing and squeezing the life out of games.
    We notice none were picked for the recent world cup, and it points to what I have observed
    I get to see the Mexican ,Italian,German and Spanish league games on different TV channels, and especially the Italian league are after the premiership around the world,their games are noiw much more open than in the past,and the quality is there to see, more importantly the officials allow the games to flow,play the advantage rule,do not stop for everything,and this makes for better viewing
    Like I said the turtles in suits had better be carefully, our game could grind to a halt.very quickly .
    Time for a reset on refs .

  120. Well, we are level on points with the league leaders (I think that is a correct way to say?) and exacly 2.0 points per game average. Not bad, me thinks.

    Because of work commintments, I only saw about the last 30 min of the Swansea game via Riverside Live. The stream was good in quality but needed to refresh the the web page once. But other than that, the stream was much better is resolution than a few games back.

    I saw the extended highlights today and the match looked much better than the last 30 min I saw on Saturday. I think we could have won with a bit of more clinical finishing. The best of changes fell to Assombalonga when he missed a low cross from the right.

    The target of two points per match means we need to win all home matches and draw all away. So a home draw means we need to win at Hull on Saturday. Other than a win, our average would be lower than two for the first time this season.

    But it looked like it was a decent match and played a bit – not much – better than versus Bolton. And Swanseas defended well in the second half.

    Let’s hope we get the intensity back as we had it before the international break. We have good players and especially Saville and Braithwaite look promising.

    Let’s hope we get the points from Hull and that our team starts to gel – there has not been that many training sessions yet where Saville has been able to take part. And I hope we’ll have an average of 2.1 points after the visit to Hull.

    Up the Boro!

  121. The scribes were hoping for a worldie from the Swansea keeper so they could lead with…..

    Boro OutFoxed by Mulder.

    But here’s the point, teams aren’t going to come and roll over and die, they equally want to win the game or salvage a point, and the longer we are at the top, the less likely they will play open football against us.

    Unfortunately, for some who want more from the team they are somewhat restricted by the pesky opposition putting eleven players on the pitch. Yes, goals win matches but clean sheets are just as important.

    I’m more than happy with the season so far, and let’s not forget this squad are still getting to know one another. Much more yet to come.

    1. Anthony Vickers is quite right about the fact that Boro have had a tough opening set of fixtures, especially based on last season’s league positions. When the fixtures were announced I made that same point, so to be averaging the 2 points per game criterion for automatic promotion should not be taken lightly. Last season Boro had trouble, even at home winning against the top 6 teams, but were fairly successful against the bottom 6 teams.

      In our promotion season under Karanka, as AV points out, we had the best record in the league against the top 6 teams, and despite a few wobbles against the lower placed teams, that was enough to get us automatic promotion. As I’ve written many times, there are no stand out teams in the Championship this season compared to previous seasons, so one would expect Boro to get automatic promotion.

      Now here comes the rub. Boro’s only defeat this season has come against an average side in Norwich. I accept that on any given day any team can beat another in this league as was shown on Saturday at Leeds. However TP must in my opinion employ a more attacking formation against those teams who are struggling, starting with Hull City and then Ipswich Town in the next two away games. Respect all teams in this league, but also treat all teams on their individual merits, and there is no reason why TP shouldn’t emulate Jack Charlton’s team in 1973/74.

      Has TP got that in his makeup? Boro seem to be creating more goal scoring chances lately, but shouldn’t be relying too much on free kicks and long throws. Maybe more shooting practice in training might help, but I firmly believe that this league is there for the taking with a little more application.

  122. Good post Ken.

    Especially liked the bit about being more attack minded against struggling sides.


    I thought we were poor on Saturday but a lot of that is as you pointed out the opposition 11 making it as difficult for you as best they can.

  123. Reference the Wing debate, I have noticed that as well as not being on the senior bench, he is not even making the U23 bench, whereas Tavernier is playing U23. Is Wing injured and it is being kept quiet, maybe OFB can shed some light.

    Come on BORO.

  124. Ken, when the season started I was not of the opinion Boro would get automatic promotion, top six hopefully. Then with additional incomings and a stronger in depth squad, that at should be the least to be aiming for.
    Looking at other clubs, I would expect Leeds and WBA to be above us and possibly Derby. Villa May come yet.

    May be in January if still well placed, Mr Gibson may just try and find a loanee with creativity and pace.

    But until then, and referring to GHW’s last two posts, nobody expects any team to roll over and that was evident from Swansea’s set up although to be fair it was far more forward looking than we were at Leeds.

    I am very happy to see us second and in all honesty did not expect us the be there, certainly after watching the first 70 minutes against Millwall.

    However going back to your 1 of 2 posts, no the Boro were not dour, but unfortuanately nodifferent for the substations. I do take your point that there are players still finding their feet within the squad and system, but when the subs are made the invariably like for like because there are no different type of players on the bench.

    It may only be a coincidence that we scored all those goals playing a flat back 4 with Wing in the team. And as I have previously said, he will not of been the one reason for those results. But one cannot argue that since the Bristol game we have struggled to score goals and no disrespect Ken, I do not think we are creating many good goal scoring chances from open play. Against Swansea a shot that hit the bar and a cross from Howson that MB just missed. V Bolton little created, V Norwich, let’s just forget that game and Leeds and WBA the same. Strong defending by Boro, nothing to the front players left isolated.

    On the stream against Bolton the co -commentator mentioned balls into the second six yard box. A term I had not heard of and neither had Gordon Cox. It’s the zone between the six yard box and the penalty spot. That is the area to deliver into, difficult for the goalkeeper and a little more difficult for defenders. Just where Saville scored his his goal. Not corners and throws into the keepers hands.

  125. Pedro

    The second six yard box sounds like Boycott’s corridor of uncertainty, some in cricket call it the fifth stump. The batsman shouldn’t play a shot but if he doesn’t and the ball comes back he is done for.

    As you say, the keeper and defenders are in a quandary.

  126. The whole “Stuani on the right” thing was certainly a factor but I don’t think it was entirely to blame. He has played there for Uruguay and Espanyol after all.

    The pace, technique and physicality of the game is different in Spain. Look at Forlan. A goal machine at Villarreal, roughly one in six for United.

    His positive attitude at Boro was also a plus. Contrast him with former Boro loannee Alex Nimely. After scoring and setting up a goal in a 3-1 win for Coventry vs Boro (I think) he publicly stated that now everyone could see why he was better in the middle and was a centre forward who created and scored goals. A not very subtle dig at Mogga in my view.

    It’s never nice to be played out of your favourite position, but it shouldn’t be an excuse either. There were those who didn’t care if Scott McDonald played out of position – he actually scored quite a few as a wing forward, directly after Mogga had exiled him for a while. A possible kick up the proverbial to remind him that he had to earn his place, and very hefty wages.

    1. When we signed him I put a £20 bet on him finishing as the Championships top scorer. He was the best Striker at the Club by a country mile and probably the best Striker we have had since the days of Viduka (when fit and bothered) and co. I would play him ahead of Assombalonga, Hugill, Braithwaite and Fletcher now and also Negredo when he was here.

      I understood Karanka’s theory but getting Stuani to play wide right, track back to cover the RB was sinful. What really rubbed salt in it for me was that Nsue and Adomah seemed to have a degree of understanding and telepathy in that role but the value of synergy was totally wasted on AK. Every time Stuani came on as a sub he seemed to give the ball away or worse still concede risky and clumsy free kicks when tracking back. Most of all its the twenty quid that still hurts, almost as much as selling Bamford!

    2. Simon

      I believe Stuanni played right side of a front 3, for Uruguay at least, opposed to on the wing with a brief to get back and defend at every opportunity. A striker played out of position by a manager who, imo, was inflexible in his mindset to say the least. As far as I’m concerned we never got the chance to see how good he could’ve been as a through the middle striker.

    1. I’m waiting for the announcement that teams in the top 6 who win are awarded 4 points for a win and two points for a draw. Teams from 7th to to 17th will get two points for a win and one point for a draw. Teams in the bottom three will get one point for a win and nothing for a draw and Northern teams above the M62 will get an automatic 10 point point deduction before the season kicks off for having the brass neck to add to Sky Presenter’s travelling time and costs.

  127. RR

    As I understand it Woolich Arsenal (wonder what happened to them) were elected to the very old First Division as it was virtually made up of clubs from the north of the country, and wanted to spread the game. Their chairman was on the Football League committee who voted them in. No conflict of interest there then!

    Sky are probably going to use your points model to ensure its dominated by clubs from the south east to save on travel expenses, with the 2 Manchester clubs and Liverpool thrown in to keep the overseas plastics happy.

  128. A valid point made by RR and FAA.

    That it’s not so much where you’re played as the role the manager expects you to carry out. Am I right?

    The one time Stuani as a “winger” worked well, in my mind, was when he dribbled inside to pull back for Nugent’s opener at home to Leeds. My other good memories of him are someone who either popped up to score at the far post or found space in the penalty area to apply that vital touch.

    Essentially, he was the Rhodes we already had, and more.

  129. Additional.

    This “on the wing” debate brings to mind a story I read, again from the recollections of The Secret Footballer.

    He says he once worked under a manager who ruled by a “one strike and you’re out” policy. Unless the manager decided he needed the player again a while later, for his own purposes. Then he would back down.

    This manager’s specialty – really, his only tactic – was shape. Getting the players into the “right” position to defend or attack, depending on the position of the ball. Even when the players were generally in the right place, he’d still come around and move them either left or right, or back or forward, like Subbuteo players, until they were exactly in the right place. Worse, he’d literally grab them by their upper arm before he moved them.

    “Infuriating”, “Ridiculous”, and “I hated it” were among TSF’s comments about the strategy. Consider looking around to see if you’re too far ahead of where you “should” be when a game is going on at full pace.

    What does this have to do with wingers? Well.

    It reached a stage where any respect the squad had for the manager was running out. But one day, a player was injured and a reserve came in to take his place on the wing.

    Except the winger hadn’t tucked in as far as he “should” have. Trouble.

    The manager, as expected, grabbed the player’s arm and tugged him towards the middle of the pitch. The player told the manager, “Leave it out. I can move there on my own.”

    The manager’s reply? “Okay”.

    But then the boss shouted to one of the three subs who was warming up, “Come here. Take his place on the left, will you?”

    The reserve never played for the club again. He’d dared to speak up, to question the manager’s authority, and he’d been made an example of. Utter ruthlessness.

    The funny, or sad, thing? It worked. Not only did the reserve never play for the club again, but no one grumbled on the training pitch again.

    Football, eh?

  130. Last week we were quessing the line up Tony Pulis put out.

    Well, tomorrow woill be more tricky. How many could we change and still have a decent team?

    Wood, Batth, Fry, McQueen
    Chapman, McNair, Wing, Travernier
    Hugill or Fletcher

    Dimi, Hugil or Fletcher, Flint, Besic, Gestede, Besic, Clayton

    I even had difficulties to put all “fringe” players in! UTB!

    1. ——————Lonergan—————–





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