Are Boro supporters ready to embrace the art of not losing

Championship 2018-19: Week 9

Tue 25 Sep – 19:45: Preston v Boro (EFL Cup)
Sat 29 Sep – 15:00: Hull v Boro

Werdermouth looks ahead to further Cup and League progress…

When it comes to surprises, there can be few Boro followers who bore the shocked expressions of disbelief on their faces as they discover that Tony Pulis has now built a team in his image to pragmatically tackle the task ahead. As those anticipating more entertaining football pinned their hopes into the over-inflated balloon of their wider aesthetic aspirations, the barely audible bang was neither unexpected or startling. The Boro manager has primarily built sides not to lose and generally works on the basic principal that if the opposition don’t score they can’t beat you.

Tony Pulis last week proffered the somewhat radical hypothesis that the teams who concede the fewest goals will generally finish in the top two – with the supporting evidence put forward that Wolves and Cardiff had the meanest defences last term after only conceding 39 each. Those fond of the art of extrapolation, will be pleased to hear that if Boro continue in their current vein they will end the season with a mere 15 goals tarnishing the against column, with possibly every one known by name. Nevertheless, many were disappointed with the stalemate at home to Swansea after it turned out to be a missed opportunity to go clear at the top following Leeds first defeat of the season. Though in retrospect, following a game of limited goalmouth action, it was perhaps not unexpected to learn that matches involving both clubs have seen the fewest number of goals so far this season – with Boro’s lucky followers witnessing just one more than the 13 that supporters of Swansea have enjoyed.

It’s hard to envisage under Pulis that defensive solidity will be sacrificed in the quest for finding a more expansive attacking game – especially with only one goal conceded in the last eight games. Scoring goals has been a long-standing issue for Boro and indeed keeping it tight has become the mantra for many a cautious manager on Teesside over the years. Of course, the amazing Aitor Karanka was the embodiment of that game-plan and some may or may not be surprised to see that his Forest side have actually scored the same number of goals as Pulis’s high flyers – though I suspect even more will be surprised to see that this is also the same total of the more attack-minded Tony Mowbray at Blackburn. However, 11 goals each for those former managers is positively prolific compared to both Garry Monk’s Brum and Steve McClaren’s Hoops, who have seen their teams only net a less than magnificent seven – as one of them might say. It’s perhaps a similar curse that quickly turns any previously prolific striker arriving on Teesside into a wandering minstrel, who first loses his mojo, before hanging up his banjo in the cow shed.

Clubs who have aspirations of promotion normally find a way of getting the ball into the back of the net and supporters will be well aware from recent campaigns of how a lack of goals can hinder a push for an automatic spot. Whilst Karanka’s teams were also mean in defence, they often missed out on points due to their failure to trouble the opposition – with many believing only the arrival of Gaston Ramirez subsequently gave his ultra-organised team that improvised creative spark to secure a top two finish. Perhaps it is inevitable once the players have been tutored through many training exercises that their ability to ad-lib is diminished by concentrating on adhering to the instructions of the game-plan hatched by a perfectionist manager.

Until the players have become comfortable in their primary roles on the pitch, we may be waiting a little while yet before we see some fast flowing attacking football start to emerge on it. Though, we shouldn’t think that the likes of Pep and Klopp don’t spend many hours in training honing the apparent instinctive attacking football they regularly serve up. But for teams set-up like Boro, it will be more likely that pouncing on the second ball and taking advantage of mistakes will prove most productive. The problem faced now is that there is little element of surprise when Boro’s big players gather at corners, long throws and free kicks with their rehearsed lines – it’s all about placing psychologically pressure in the minds of defenders and looking to take advantage of errors. Not exactly a blueprint for breath-taking football but still statistically solid in terms of finishing near the top of the table – which is mainly what Championship football is now about for aspiring promotion contenders.

However, Boro once again have appeared less than lethal in front of goal when it matters and maybe a few players would benefit from some shooting practice. It’s now just three goals in our last five games, a creative block made worse by the fact that those were reliant on two dodgy Trotters gifts and an Ayala injury-time steal against the Baggies where he escaped being caught red-handed following suspect control of a stinging cross. Clear-cut opportunities have been at a premium and therefore it will be important to take whatever chances come our way. Glaring misses are the age old problem and it could be anecdotally a close contest with many a supporter’s grandmother as to whom could have done better.

Although, you may have heard this week that some old ladies can indeed be pretty lethal, with reports that great-grandmother Judy Cochran killed a 560lb alligator on her ranch in Texas after blaming it for eating one of her miniature ponies two-years earlier. OK, not quite yet in the Teesside grudge territory – though before any of you start wondering whether it was with her bare hands, I should remind you that in many parts of America you’re patriotically encouraged to take up your right to bear arms instead. She actually dispatched the poor beast with a single shot from a high-powered rifle after uttering the words ‘Don’t mess with Nana’ – something many a grandchild running along the back streets of Middlesbrough will have probably heard as they grew up, though usually without such severe consequences. However, as far as I’m aware, the makers of My Little Pony have no immediate plans to use ‘Don’t mess with Nana’ in their festive advertising campaign this year – which is surely an oversight.

Before many of you think it’s just a typical red-neck family taking the law into their own hands, I believe they are apparently good upstanding citizens with permits and are supporters of WWF – though that’s the World Wrestling Federation not the World Wide Fund for Nature. In addition, they have kindly given the dead ‘gator (as they’re normally called) to the local mayor so he can make some trophy boots from the belly. Incidentally, we also learned that her grandson has also killed a 500lb ‘gator when he was just 5 with his junior-sized shotgun – apparently the force of the recoil from a normal one left him with a cut eye so they had to get him a smaller one. Before you start thinking giving such a young boy a shotgun is completely irresponsible, you’ll be relieved to know he’d been an experienced gun handler after being taught to shoot at four and knows all about fire-arms safety and can even drive an all-terrain vehicle to join in alligator hunts. Whether the good folk on Teesside would be happy to see a five-year old wandering the streets with a shotgun is another matter – especially if he’s being a bit pushy when asking for a squeeze on matchdays!

Talking of lumbering big beasts being on the end of both barrels, Rudy Gestede may be close to returning to action this week and the Riverside faithful will be hoping that he’s unearthed a pair of shooting boots during his enforced absence – alligator skin or otherwise. Though I’m informed by certain specialist websites that the big Benin forward actually wears Nike Mercurial Vapor XII Elite boots, which was possibly not a particularly vital piece of information that many had been living without knowing. Whilst the words ‘mercurial’ or ‘elite’ are seldom mentioned in the same sentence as Gestede, you may be pleased to know that these are the same precision tools worn by Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and French World Cup sensation Mbappé. So whatever happens on the pitch for the Boro target man, we shouldn’t blame the footwear if the ball ends up in the Riverside stands rather than the goal.

In truth, the options available at the sharp end for Boro are not convincing many that it’s only a matter of time before the floodgates open and the goals begin to flow over the somewhat barren Riverside pitch. Britt Assombalonga has often appeared to be a fish out of water as he regularly flounders as a lone target man under Tony Pulis and usually looks fed to the gills when he’s hooked after failing to make the net bulge. His main rival for the striker’s shirt in Jordan Hugill has offered a more physical battling option but doesn’t appear to have the finesse or even fitness to run opposition defences ragged. Indeed both may only be keeping the shirt warm for perhaps Pulis’s preferred option of the big man from Benin and few will be surprised if Gestede is soon bamboozling opposition defences and team-mates alike as they fail to click with his flicks, kicks and lack of confidence tricks. Though we shouldn’t forget we also have another £7m surplus striker from the Hammers waiting in the wings too – though the chances of him taking a bow anytime soon in the Championship seem remote as he appears to have fallen through the trapdoor on the Boro stage under the direction of Pulis.

Despite not having a goal machine up front, perhaps we should place the blame elsewhere as even average strikers need service before they even get a chance to miss it. The failure to recruit much in the way of creative talent in the summer has been well documented and it seems the subject has been for now brushed under the Hurworth carpet after the recruitment team seemingly pulled the deep-pile rug from under Tony Pulis to leave his plans in an even deeper pile of something steaming.

This has subsequently left the Boro manager continuing with his early-season Plan B of a back-three with wing-backs providing the width instead. To his credit, Ryan Shotton has proved more than useful in the role on the right but George Friend has never looked like he will be as effective on the left after migrating from his earlier back-three role. Most observers know Friend is unlikely to provide too many assists and even the charade of possessing the weapon of mass distraction with the pretend long throw has not convinced many that his floated lobs are nothing more than catching practice for the opposition keeper. Nevertheless, the Boro manager has persisted with the tactic but has now in recent games reverted to a more conventional back four in order to accommodate an extra forward.

That extra forward is Martin Braithwaite, who often looks sharp and busy, with a little more intensity on the ball than those around him. He’s made more attempts on goal than any other Boro player this season in 14 with 7 on target and is currently joint-top scorer with Assombalonga on 3 goals. Having said that, he’s been less prolific since the transfer window ‘misunderstanding’ that nearly saw him leave for Spain but has promised to put it behind him and get his head down. Though whether his stop-start Boro career will begin to look up may depend on what happens around him. The Dane looks to potentially be Boro’s most explosive striker but last season saw him sometimes drift out of games – something if repeated under Pulis may ultimately see him losing his starting place under a manager who probably appreciates work-ethic over ability.

Whether Tony Pulis can find the right combination in midfield to get the crowd on their feet is another matter but I suspect the best three to get the gig in the middle of the park in terms of making the Riverside rock will probably be Barlow, Owen and Orange. Although, officially still a boy band, Take That are now at an age where even Tony Pulis may consider picking them – especially if they play his favourite song ‘Giants’. Though whether just sixty per cent of the original group are still the real deal or just another nostalgia trip hoping to recoup some of the money they had to quietly return to the taxman recently is probably just Teesside cynicism. Those familiar with celebrity tax avoidance schemes may have read that the Take That trio ‘invested’ £66m in an artificial tax-shelter called Icebreaker. Their pleas to HM Customs and Revenues to have a little patience were met with deaf ears as the government agency declared they wanted the £20m owed to them back for good – with Barlow, Owen and Orange no doubt innocently declaring “Whatever I said, whatever I did I didn’t mean it.” Incidentally, it’s a pity that the trio opted against renaming themselves with the initials of their surnames, as it will prevent certain elements among the Riverside faithful fully enjoying the occasion by not being able to indulge themselves by shouting BOO when they walk off the pitch at the end.

Back to footballing matters, this week sees a return to action in the reserve competition that is Mr Caraboa’s dead buffalo cup. Naturally, in a manner befitting to the sponsors, the object of the exercise is to progress while keeping the energy levels of the First XI intact – something Tony Pulis has been closely monitoring since the international break after he rested both Fry and Besic for having below par biometric data during the Norwich game. Boro make the trip to a Preston side that are surprisingly languishing at the foot of the Championship after failing to win since the first game of the season. Last season they were known for being a defensively solid side and only conceded more than one goal in a game on eight occasions as they ended up finishing one place outside the play-offs. However, they’ve been leaking goals badly this campaign, conceding three goals in each of their last three games and two goals in each of the four before that. Alex Neil is under pressure to turn their form around and will hope the cup offers them some respite – they did in fact win at Leeds in round one so Boro will hopefully not take them too lightly.

For those in the squad who have struggled to get a game recently, it offers an opportunity remind Tony Pulis that they can do a job – with perhaps Lewis Wing and Paddy McNair looking to make an impression. It’s possible that Jordan Hugill will fancy playing against his old club but he may be kept back in preparation for the game on Saturday, with perhaps a seat on the bench instead. It’s likely man’s man Danny Batth will make his debut and possibly Sam McQueen will also get a start if he’s still eligible after being named as an unused sub for Southampton in their win over Brighton. Other players hoping for a run out will be strikers Rudy Gestede and Ashley Fletcher, but it will most likely on the whole be a young side deployed. The prize on offer for the winners will be a potential last sixteen tie against a big Premier League team and a return to visibility – though chances of sneaking under the radar into the last eight are diminishing with only three other ties not involving top tier opposition.

Whilst I’m sure Tony Pulis will be keen to progress to the last 16, he’ll no doubt be fully prioritising Saturdays trip to Hull. The Tigers sit just one place and one point above the relegation zone after already losing six games this campaign, including their last two on the road at Reading and Wigan. It should be seen by Boro as an opportunity to pick up three more points to secure their place in the top two, in what has become quite a congested table. With Leeds and Boro tied on 18 points at the top, West Brom sit a point behind in third and then come those in the play-off positions on 16 – though only three points separate Sheffield United in fourth to Swansea in fourteenth. Once again the Championship is proving to be a tight affair and Boro will need to remain focused to keep ahead of the pack. This weekend sees the season reach the ten-game mark and the traditional time to assess how the season is going but the Boro manager claims he never looks at the table until after 15 games. Defeat would give Tony Pulis a haul of just 5 points from 5 games and could lead to some talking down of promotion chances. Though with three winnable games on paper before the next international break, now is surely the time to apply the pressure.

300 thoughts on “Are Boro supporters ready to embrace the art of not losing

  1. I suspect Preston will do a job on us to give their season a bit of a kick start. Preston to go 2-0 up with us to pull one back but not quite turn it around.

  2. Like it, Werder don’t mess with Nana rings a bell with me, in the 1940s a visit to grandad in Bramble Farm was preceded with a warning by mam DON’T MESS WITH NANA. Back to tomorrow the kids and the loan’es.

  3. Although it was nice to see the youngsters get a chance, we now have less to choose from after loan moves and we also have first team squad members who desperately need a game. On this logic, I see the following eleven players as being in that category.

    McQueen (if eligible)
    Chapman (is he fit now?)

    Assuming that he picks Lonergan in goal, somebody has to miss out from this group.

    I suggest

    With a mixed bench of
    Reading (left back cover)

    Also, whilst three games are being shown live in Oz, we’re not one of them.


  4. Good work, Werder, as always.

    A further thought on the Stuani debate. Hindsight suggests that at Boro he was working under a manager who wanted everyone to see that he’d improved him by teaching him “defensive qualities”. But attacking players are more instinctive than defensive ones. The latter need more thought in their game.

    That, perhaps, is the problem. While some may admire the steps taken to integrate a player into a (to a point) successful collective, others may feel that said player never needed to be “improved”. That a goalscorer simply needs a run of games, trust from the manager and the right kind of service to prosper.

    The counter argument is that once the goalscorer’s marked out of the game, you’re playing with ten men, and it helps to have that extra body back when you’re under pressure. Which might explain Fergie’s preference for Welbeck over Hernandez.

    The second counter argument is that if a goalscorer is the most expensive player at the club, in wages or in fee, the manager will repeatedly play him (Negredo, Yakubu, Mido, Maccarone in 2002-03) or the fans and/or chairman will want him to play even if the manager has doubts (Alves, Rhodes). Because of course the striker will score, he needs games, he needs time to attune himself to the team’s way, he needs to show or remember how great a footballer he really is.

    Even if, as in 2008-09 (where Alves was predicted to be our “special one”, if you can believe it) and 2016-17, the good ship Boro sinks.

    1. Thanks Simon, it’s interesting that strikers are now expected to defend from the front and run around chasing defenders for 90 minutes – I remember the Brazilian Romario barely broke into a jog unless he was running onto a pass in the penalty area. He regarded himself as being on the pitch only to score goals and defending was someone else’s job.

    1. Thanks Allan and here’s an appropriate Giles Grandma cartoon for you too…

      Giles Grandma

      At least we know now that the Falkland Islands are not the ones north of the Hebrides and the Orkneys are not somewhere off South America

  5. Another great piece Werder. I agree with GHW very Pearsonesque.

    Hopefully TP will start Wing, Tavernier and Chapman (if fit) tonight to give them the opportunity to push for at least a place on the bench on Saturday. PNE have had a poor start to the season and Alex Niel will see the League Cup as more of a distraction rather than a priority and put out a second string side. Just like the Boro!

    Whoever TP starts tonight it would be nice if he gets them to play with the high tempo we don’t see in league games.

    I’ll be out of wifi range tonight so it’ll be a surprise surprise moment for me getting the result when I’m back on the compound at about 3 a.m.


    No replay straight to penalties if scores are level after 90 minutes.

    1. Thanks FAA, I’ll obviously humbly take any comparisons with the great Harry Pearson but it wasn’t intentional. As for who plays tonight, well I suppose any player playing 90 minutes today will in some ways be happy but it would probably mean they won’t be featuring on Saturday.

  6. Thanks Werder for another belter, up there with the rest of your headliners.

    TP saying on the MFC website that he is hoping for 90 minutes for Gestede and Fletcher. I would of thought Hugill needs the game time also but may be reluctant to risk him from the start?

    McNair surely must get game time along
    with Batth, McQueen and Fry. Leadbitter in the holding role, Wing and possibly Besic starting? Tavierna on the bench?

    Hoping for a win to progress and be able to give more game time to the fringe players.

    1. An interesting article and perhaps a lesson to young players and possibly clubs of the risks facing those with too much money and temptation. I suspect any young lad suddenly going from £150 a week to a contract of over £100,000 could easily behave like he’s just won the lottery and get sucked into making bad choices. Though fair play to Gary Neville for providing him with support and getting him heading in the right direction.

  7. werder

    Gestede may wear Ronaldo’s boots but by the look of normally on the wrong feet.

    Pearsonesque maybe but is it Harry or Nigel? I am going for Harry, all the best have Harry in their names. Ian H Gill is a clue!

  8. Hi Werder.

    I’ve written and read a lot about Romario. Probably my first true football hero for his magic and goals, but he was equally frustrating. His reputation for disliking training and being difficult to work with is well documented. The first word he learned in Dutch when with PSV was “tired”.

    In the same way USA 94 drew huge attendances before the American public returned to their indifference towards football, Romario was king for the summer only to resume his previously prickly relationship with the national team.

    When called up for a friendly in Brazil in 1992, he was picked as a reserve. He soon publicly declared that he wouldn’t have travelled if he knew he wasn’t going to play. That was too much for coach Carlos Alberto Parreira and he banned Romario from the national team.

    It reached a stage where Brazil needed to beat or draw with Uruguay at home to win their World Cup qualifying group. Having been subjected to outrage from fans and media for not picking the star, Parreira relented. Result? 2-0, Romario scoring both goals. Then came the World Cup, five more goals, a great partnership with Bebeto and the trophy itself. Sadly, success went to his head and belly, and he left Barcelona to return to Brazil. He fell out with the Brazilian FA again, too, telling them he wouldn’t be available for a year after he was dropped for a friendly. Players’ attitudes, huh?

    My last memory of him on TV is his breakdown at knowing he wouldn’t be picked for the Brazil squad of France 98.

    1. Yes I remember his partnership with Bebeto and was actually just thinking earlier that with the current trend of lone strikers you don’t really see that many partnerships develop up front any more. In fact many strikers struggled without their favourite partners. Though I would probably pay good money to see any player tell Pulis that he was too tired to run around in training – hopefully that’s not what Lewis Wing told him 🙂

  9. I see TP has already given a huge hint at who will be playing tonight, ” the likes of Paddy McNair, Sam McQueen, Danny Batth and Dael Fry could all feature, Fletcher and Rudy will be involved against Preston”.

    That leaves Lonergan presumably in Goal plus four from five others, Wood, Grant, Tavernier, Wing and Chapman perhaps?

    Personally I’d like to see 17-year-old striker Stephen Walker given some game time as well tonight. I think he has great potential whilst perhaps not being a typical TP type of Player one that could cheekily snatch a winner.

    1. What will be interesting is whether he goes with a back three or not – that may tell us what his intentions are for his preferred system. I’d like to see Chapman and Wing getting starts as both were looking to provide a different option from what we currently have. I hope Pulis will ultimately give the bench in Championship games a wider degree of options than just like-for-like replacements.

      1. I think he has that many direct purchases or loanees to whom he feels obligated to involve is the main problem. The fact that many of them are duplicates is the challenge. If he dropped say Besic, Batth and McQueen for Wing, Chapman and Tavernier to offer alternatives it would be understandable from a fans perspective but like as not cause some internal issues with the guy that signs the cheques.

        1. Indeed, you’re most likely close to the truth with that – much easier for a manager to exclude players he’s got no responsibility for bringing to the club. In fact that probably why most young players struggle to break into teams up and down the country – especially if you consider just how many players clubs sign during transfer windows and how often they change managers.

      2. I cannot see TP going with a back three as that would probably mean adding Wood, as I don’t think Flint or Dani will be involved. It would also reduce places by one for the fringe players.
        1-4-1-3-2 for me.

  10. Werder,

    A great article, I must say I liked the ‘flounder’ metaphor, it made me chuckle. No doubt the juniors will tear them to pieces but I can see it going to penalties.

    0 – 0 and a shootout win.



  11. It’s looking rather interesting tonight, will they play, or will they dwell ( at home) that darned elusive pimpernel’s.
    If they miss out big time he is going to have a few questions to answer, such as, when do they get some match practice? When do we score some goals? When do we shoot ( over the bar does not count) that’s just damaging the seating behind the goal.
    Liked the comment on the necessity of playing the ( Journeymen ) players just signed. So far it’s cost us oh, I don’t know, about five points?
    God help us if the luck runs out.

  12. Great read again Werder thank you.😂

    Hope that Wing and Tav get a start tonight. Not sure 🤔 if I will be too disappointed if we get knocked out as I would trade a cup loss for 3 points at Hull on Saturday.

    1-0 to PNE ☹️

    I hope that the audio stream will be hitch free as I intend using the iPad and headphones to listen whilst Mrs P uses the laptop to continue writing her book on her life to present to her daughter as a Christmas gift. 😎

    1. Thanks KP – incidentally, one of my background plans was to develop an app that assisted people to write their life stories by managing the chronology of events in their life in the correct order and making a time-line (i.e. You may not know when something occurred but you know it happened before or after another event, so eventually the dates can be narrowed down to a particular month or week). I also wanted it to manage people and places, then it would be just a case of adding anecdotes to an event to build your story. As usual spare time has precluded me from starting on developing the idea further – maybe one day!

  13. Haven’t heard anything about Wing if he’s not playing tonight he’s either injured or on the naughty step

    Tav won’t play he played yesterday


  14. Interesting line-up for Preston…

    Dimi, McNair, Wood, Batth, Fry, McQueen, Leadbitter, Wing, Tavernier, Fletcher, Gestede.

    Looks like 5-3-2 or possibly 5-2-3 with Tav and Fletcher playing either side of Gestede.

  15. Purchased a match day pass and then eventually got to listen via the iPad app.

    Have emailed MFC to ask if I can have my match day pass refunded as I was of the view that my annual pass covered both video and audio streams!

      1. Perhaps you are old enough to have your own phone, mate. But I can see the point your wife makes in wanting to limit the time you spend in internet. I know from experience.

        Anyhow, listened to the second half. Preston pressed but we played well and I am happy for Tav to score. Great result.

        Interesting that TP made eleven changes in his staring eleven and none of the players who played on Saturday were on the bench.

        Up the Boro!

        1. I shall ask nicely 🙂 Though I’ve never really embraced the smart phone as they look like they can become quite distracting. Since I’m mainly based at home I stick to using the laptop for my needs and only want to carry around a small device in my pocket to make the odd call – though I have now bought an older smaller smart phone to allow for Whatsapp messages but it tends to live in my jacket pocket until the battery runs out. I’m also a bit wary of signing up to all these big American corporate companies like Google, who seemingly require all kinds of personal data just so you can download an app that needs a Google Play account.

  16. Just received the message below from Bob Tait at MFC.

    “Hello there

    Thank you for your email.

    We are experiencing issues with live audio commentary on our website for tonight’s fixture against Preston and are working on a solution with our digital partner.

    Please use the Official Middlesbrough FC app if possible where live audio commentary is working as expected:

  17. Slow start by Boro and a goal down. Nice equaliser from our now joint top scorer from a lovely through pass from Wing.

    Scott Wilson from the N-Echo, thinks he is the best mid-fielder on show in the first half.

  18. Brilliant piece on Skysport’s soccer special. Ashley Fletcher header pushed out for a Gestede header to hit the bar. The reporter said it fell to Gestede’s feet! Easily done in the heat of the moment but the thought of Gestede wearing a Ronaldo boot on his head made me chuckle!

  19. Top set of penalties, unlike Wolves v Leicester. Very professional, like Germany at their best.

    Got a text from John Powls saying we need a home draw, I said a home draw and a win on penalties or a match at home? Either was his reply.

  20. Great result, made hard work of it, especially with the fringe players looking towards a first team spot.

    Wing the pick and some good saves from Dimi.

  21. Redcar Red

    Thanks for the report, like many I followed on BBC and/or SkySports as MFC struggle to supply live feeds.

    It is getting embarrassing for MFC digital as they suffer sundry IT problems. At least it is only football, there are far more serious issues in the world at large.

  22. Yes many thanks to RR for that match report and it certainly captured the tension of the tie and I was even wondering if Boro would hang on in the end. Boro seem to have become the Germans of penalty taking with another spot-kick success. I’d neither seen nor heard any action from the game with even the live text on the BBC being a bit sporadic so gave up and watched TV instead.

    I suspect the last 16 is where the competition begins as what is the point of having a competition where few even get to see games of mainly empty stadiums watching predominantly reserve-teams. Though apparently the games are available to watch as live streams in China so hopefully some Boro fan in the Guangdong Province has at least enjoyed the match.

    Sounds like from RR’s report that Pulis will have noted the return of Gestede and will also possibly be keen to get Danny Batth in the side. Whether Lewis Wing impressed sufficiently enough to get a seat on the bench is another matter and it also sounded like George Friend may soon be looking over his shoulder at Sam McQueen.

  23. RR

    Excellent read as usual I haven’t even read any other reviews as your report is first choice

    Not many teams can change all 11 players and win a game. Surprised Dimi played but not suprised Baath MOM he’s a player in TP mold.

    Pleased Wing & Tavernier played and had good games.

    I too think that Fletcher has the makings of a good player and should be persevered with

    Thanks RR


  24. Thanks for the match report RR and broader take on the game as a whole. Can teams get fined for infiltrating airspace?

    I was a little surprised you gave the MOtM to Batth, only in the sense that we conceded two goals and they also hit the post early on. He has played well at Wolves, although with a little less game time last season due to I think Boly’s form?

    As for places in the starting eleven and on the bench, it is becoming more difficult for some of the fringe players to get a spot.
    Will TP return to a back five against Hull as it is away? Will Gestede get a place on the bench alongside Hugill or instead of even, assuming Britt leads the line.
    Will Fry and Batth swop places if it is a five, leaving one place less for a forward or midfielder. Unfortuanately for all of Wings consistency and good game last night, I expect him to miss out at this time as Mr Pulis sticks with the players he has brought in. Less possible problems not picking Wing than say Besic or McNair.

    1. Picking the MOM is very subjective at the best of times, I went with Shotton on Saturday because he put in a solid shift both defending and attacking, Clayts had another great game and I was undecided but figured his yellow card just tainted things a little bit so opted for Shotton.

      Last night Batth was playing with a completely new back five later switched to a back four and was the “go to” defender all evening. Fry had a good game alongside but it was obvious at times that their collective lack of cohesiveness through not being a unit was a weak point. Batth was immense in reading the game and getting in blocks and challenges which probably wouldn’t have been required had he been playing with Flint, Ayala, Friend, Shotton and with Clayts in front which is why despite conceding two goals I thought he earned it. Lewis Wing was the other obvious contender and would have been the easy choice followed by Tav and McQueen.

      What is good is when its a problem now in selecting the MOM for positive reasons rather than because nobody earned it which was often the case in the not so distant past. The more contentious the MOM is the better we are playing (in theory).

    2. Pedro
      There are most serious problems in not picking Wing, if we gave him a one season contract as a player from non league football, we should at this very minute be giving him a very big rise and an extension to his contract, football is a small world and people are well aware of his talents, and his place in the hierarchy.
      The battered veterans are much easier to drop.

  25. Another first-class report, RR. Full of detail and really capturing the ebb and flow of the game. As Bob suggests, there’s little point in reading other accounts. They’ve been rendered superfluous. How lucky we are. Many thanks

  26. Thanks for another great match report RR.

    It reads as a pretty entertaining game that shows we have, for the championship, real strength in depth.

    If we can get the first team firing up front again we could be in for an exciting season.

    1. The interesting thing for me was the movement and pace up front with Wing, Tavernier and Fletcher, hopefully food for thought for TP at least for his bench selections. Gestede has come in for a bit of stick elsewhere and he was understandably rusty but his effectiveness as a proverbial battering ram was a foil for all the clever fleet of foot stuff going on around him.

      1. RR
        How painful it is to read your description of our forward play, ” movement and pace up front”.
        The one thing that our continuing first team line up will never have, the word donkey perfectly describes our two choices for “striker”, as a particularly painful incident was the open goal presented to our esteemed striker. Just roll it inside the far post, because the keeper was stranded with his shoulder welded to the near post, for once, he did, and missed the goal completely! Words fail me.
        A small question, if Wing and Tavernier could not play because they had played in midweek, how come the defender could play, not being match fit, or, for that matter, familiar with our shape etc.
        You see , the questions will not go away.
        Is see the crazy little dribbler entered the field of dreams to the usual cheers, and proceeded to hog the headlines, the praise, and the points. What a spud, we were well shot of him, they will never get their money back on him you know.

  27. Pedro de Espana (10:36) with reference to your above post, the championship is a long hard slog and injuries/suspensions will come along, possibly loss of form. I believe Clayton is a booking away from a suspension, that is when the so called fringe players will realise their true value.

    Last night, our so called second eleven/squad played together for the first time in a competitive match, against a predominantly PNE first team and held their own. In fact how many of them would get into the first team squad of some championship team, most if not all in my opinion.

    I am happy that we have strength in depth to come in when needed, not all at the same time but I believe that during the season we will see all the outfield players play for Boro in the league at some point.

    Come on BORO.

  28. Going back to a previous thread, and Simon’s extract from The Secret Footballer on the manager whose only tactic in training was to concentrate on shape, treating his team like Subbuteo players, even to the point of physically moving them a few feet to where he thought they should be. And being so authoritarian that anyone who demurred was immediately made an outcast.

    My immediate thought was “That’s Pulis”, and perhaps that was the reaction that Simon intended to create, though he did not say so.

    And upon further reflection that piece almost certainly was about TP. The identity of the Secret Footballer, at least in the early volumes, is now not much of a secret. He played for Stoke under Pulis, and was a striker whom Pulis bought for a big fee, but who never got the service or support that he felt he should have had. He blew the whistle on a major physical dressing room incident between two of his team mates and was branded as “petulant’ byTP. Along with Tuncay he got so fed up with his treatment that, for the only time in his career, he walked straight off into the dressing room after being subbed. Less forgivably he gave his manager the V sign as he went.

    As if to confirm this, only last month Jermaine Pennant published his book in which he commented on how boring, predictable, and lacking in creativity the training sessions were at Stoke. “Everyone, absolutely everyone, even Pulis’s favourites like Shawcross and Glenn Whelan hated them”. Pennant describes how, as a striker, he got absolutely fed up with being instructed to move to No 1 or retreat to No 2. and, as a striker, seeing the ball continually flying over his head. So much so that he vented his fury at the tactic with a four-letter word volley at his defenders. He was, in his own words, “treated like a dog”. He also quotes another striker,Cameron Jerome’s, feeling that, however well you might be playing, if TP took against you, even on quite trivial grounds, then you never got picked.

    An article on Pennant’s book was accompanied by a pic of the player being physically handled by TP in training. The caption, ” Jerome Pennant being pulled through his paces by Tony Pulis.”

    I was impressed by RR’s analysis of why our good young players were apparently being discriminated against in favour of more recent but no more impressive signings. But then again, forget about what they might contribute creatively. Perhaps it’s simply a case of Wing and Tav persistently standing a foot or two from where their manager would like them to be.

  29. Revealing, Len!

    Bizarrely enough, I actually didn’t intend to refer to Pulis when I dug up that extract.

    It followed on more from the Stuani debate, and why our beleaguered former Basque boss was happier to play him on the right than Albert, or his lack of favour for the Yanics and Muzzies of this world. Almost certainly because the more orthodox wingers were less likely to just do what they were told. A bit like the sub that manager brought on for the winger who dared to speak.

    Re: TSF, your description, I think, fits that of Dave Kitson – who just about everyone thinks TSF is. Kitson, who came to Boro, scored three goals in what looked like a half decent partnership with Lita, then disappeared.

  30. I always find these “ secret” scribes somewhat cowardly. It means they can’t be directly confronted on the veracity of their stories, therefore allowing themselves far too much artistic licence.

  31. Again, each to their own, though I have no reason to disbelieve him.

    When he implies that City will never field a team full of their Academy graduates because the loss aversion is too strong – and that it’s easier for them to buy the finished article, get into Europe, recoup the cash, lather, rinse, repeat – who would disagree?

    Another anecdote is one every fan of every club can relate to. When a new manager arrives at a club, he often “sacrifices” a popular or well-liked player by benching him or putting him in the reserves. The intention is to make it clear to everyone who is in charge. Rightly, TSF deems this method “completely unnecessary” and lacking in man-management skills.

    His one Boro anecdote that I know of is about a fan confronting Viduka angrily after Villa wiped us out, the season ticket was thrown and Catts cried.

    1. The closest a premier league team ever got to fielding a full team of academy graduates is the Boro.

      The big clubs will never do it because it would take several seasons of winning nothing to get there and the likelihood of them then being good enough in the PL are non existent.

      Money and the best players win titles, not altruistic dreams.

      1. GHW
        “money and the best players win titles”
        Absolutely true, but the majority of clubs do not have the best players, therefore they should spend their lives searching for very good players, do we? one has ones doubts? when they strike gold they seem to forget what their mission in life is pretty quickly.
        We seem to be in a period when we are targeting the right players, age wise, attitude wise, size wise, ability wise.
        Then comes the split personality, we get Traore, ignorant commentator’s start openly waiting for him to appear, and speaking of his glowing future, we love him, ( who wouldn’t with talent like that) but they sell him cheaply, in an undignified rush.
        Next we find Wing, in non league football, people in the club don’t say much about him, the fans say plenty, he is good, very good, he is a game changer, with his mate Tavernier, he floated us up to the top of the league. Was dropped, from the team and the bench, and the fun cup ties, the explanation was very interesting ( but it would take a clever man to find it)
        The goals dried up, which led to the defence being broken up, ( by by Fry)
        And there we are at the moment, is he going to play our two bright sparks? Or is he going to mumble about experience, and bring in our much injured striker, missed one that could not be missed last night, then headed one over the bar( 6-5 I think)

  32. I’m not disbelieving him, but it’s easy to hide behind a nome de plume. He’s retired from football so he doesn’t rely on it for a living albeit his ancecdotes have provided him with a lucrative career post football. Mind you I doubt he’s short of a few quid being an ex-player.

    I’m old school, if you can’t talk to someone’s face, then don’t talk behind their back.

    1. GHW
      ” If you cannot talk to someone face to face, do not talk behind their back”
      We are at the moment, having a lot of scandals about senior Surgeons running amok in our hospitals, over years of misbehaviour.
      The dialogue goes something like this.” Why did no one speak up about this abuse of patients? ”
      “The senior nurse spoke to the senior manager, and was sacked”
      hhhm! Not so easy, is it.
      these brutes have no mercy where money and status are concerned.

    2. Now in these days of Social Media it’s never been easier to be a whistle blower. That of course is a more extreme example than telling someone what you think of them to their face.

      1. I have “experienced” more than a few examples of individuals behaving in a less than exemplary manner in Industry where only Brown Envelopes would have explained away some strange decision making. In my early years I figured someone higher up the Totem Pole got paid more than me to deal with it (and continually didn’t).

        Astonishingly the exact same thing repeated itself in a later employment position and in my eventual last role before becoming self employed it was so blatant that the individual regarded himself as untouchable. It was embarrassingly obvious yet nobody questioned or challenged and when I asked a few individuals why his senior couldn’t see it the response was pretty unanimous. He was earning a seven figure salary while his underling was enjoying a six figure salary for taking all the responsibility and accountability for the Organisation so why would he want to destabilise his cushy number by getting rid of him?

        At an age now where I say what I believe to be correct rather than what is the correct thing to say I raised quite a few questions as to the company policy on sourcing and procurement and why a certain someone always had the final say on things that in his position should have been well beneath him, That the supplier in question was a repeat offender of shoddy low quality goods (and constantly late at that) was made worse by the goods routinely failing a QC inspection yet being booked into stock by the overriding miscreant was a single digit gesture to those both under and over him.

        I was made “redundant” very quickly after two sympathetic Directors retired within weeks of one another obviously fed up of my reports highlighting recurring “anomalies” over years. A few months later I “assisted” with an outside offer for the business from a competitor and once the deal was finalised after a few decades “service” the individual concerned decided it was time to retire once the new owners started to get their feet under the table and asked a few direct questions. He had amassed enough wealth over the years to make his leaving an easy decision with nobody either proving or disproving anything. The Company did operate a “Whistle blower” policy, the problem was that nobody believed or indeed trusted the policy.

        I just read today an article about young Model/Actress Cara Delevingne and why she waited to speak up about abuse and it basically came down to fear which is why these people get away with it. It is often someone much later on in years that has the confidence to speak up and lance the boil. Fear of not being believed and ostracised by an industry and not just by one former employer or boss makes it easier to just move career wise on than becoming a martyr. I am sure there are several hashtags in all that lot somewhere!

  33. Well I hope Wing is not on the TP naughty step as he was the creative force in the team last night as RR points out in his excellent report and TP must surely be able to see it. With the lack of a creative spark in the first team performances I would have thought that selecting Wing was a logical step but maybe TP sees it differently.

    I hope both Wing and Tavernier get their chance in the first team soon or I fear that both of them will be off somewhere else at the first opportunity and that would be a major loss of two players with huge potential.

  34. If those players mentioned above hated the training methods of TP why not do what ordinary working people do when doing a job they don’t like or working for people they can’t stand. Look for something else and move on.

    Petulant over paid prima donnas who can’t take responsibility for their own career but are happy to take the money while bitching and moaning how awful they are being treated. Aww didums.

  35. Before people berate TP for not playing Wing let’s think about for a moment, why would TP (or any manager) deliberately weaken his side when promotion is the main objective of the season.

    Did Wing start to go down the route of George Green after playing well in a couple of matches, not necessarily drugs but maybe getting ahead of himself. It is interesting that during the post match conference last night, TP mentioned that Wing had been ill with flu for the last couple of weeks and is still not fully recovered.

    My 19 yr old son had what both him and I thought was a cold with a bad cough but after a couple of weeks I sent him to the nurse practitioner who told him he had a virus and all he could do is take paracetamol until it passed. A week later he was due a procedure at the hospital, the anaesthetist took one look at him and said “no way” sending him back to his GP. It turned out he had Atypical Pneumonia and was very ill for a few weeks after. He is now fully recovered but the point I am making the Wing situation could be down to nothing more than him being ill, there doesn’t have to be a dark plot behind every team selection.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Exmill
      It’s a long time since we were getting ready to play West Brom and in seventh heaven, fancy, us just going out and beating teams, both home and away, as though it was the most normal thing in the world, and plenty of goals, and coming from behind.
      At that moment we blinked, came to our senses and decided that it could not be that easy. Reverted to our normal behaviour and started to struggle as usual.
      We are away on Saturday, and hull are struggling, we have no idea who will play in our defence, Fry anyone, or our attack, Wing, Tavernier anyone.
      Remember, last night the words spoken about both our young attackers.
      Words like, exquisite through ball, magical pass, unbelievable control and shot,
      It matters who plays, and how.

    2. Exmil, I would agree with you if I thought the selection of Wing weakened the side but I don’t. On the contrary in my view his selection would significantly strengthen the team in the precise area where today it is sadly lacking.

    3. Exmil, I remember TP to say that Wing had been ill (hence not playing for U23s either). I just wondered it was not picked out by the Gazette nor the Echo. Good you brought it up.

      Let’s hope we see more of Wing again. Up the Boro!

  36. Thanks for the reply RR, (11.40) and how you came to choose Batth, which I can now understand. I believed when brought in he could be a good acquisition and somewhat surprised Wolves let him go out on loan. The right age to.

  37. Thanks for the report RR which certainly flowed from start to end very much like the match. It also filled in the gaps of the first 20 minutes which I missed due to trying to get the audio stream working like numerous others!

    It was good to learn that Wing has been missing due to illness and not for some other sinister reason. That being said, I doubt he will make the team on Saturday but might make the bench.

    I suspect that TP will stick with those he has recruited and we will see something similar to the squad for the Bolton game on parade at Hull.

    All in all a good performance by the second team who deserved to progress to the next round for the way in which they confidently despatched their penalties.

  38. If Pulis was determined to play experience over youth whenever possible then I doubt we’d have seen Wing at all this season. Instead, we’d have seen a lot more of Leadbitter.

    He’s likely also have played Friend in the left of his theee centre backs instead of Fry with Downing as Wingback.

    It doesn’t add up to me on that count. The illness theory would make more sense.

    1. Although we should bear in mind that Lewis Wing last played in the Championship for Boro on the 18 August after becoming an unused sub on the bench – he was already out of favour before flu intervened. The fact that his illness hasn’t been mentioned in any pre-match press conferences to say he wasn’t available probably indicates he wasn’t foremost in Pulis’s thinking after Besic and Saville arrived. Let’s see what happens in the next few weeks as seats on the bench are limited for Boro’s midfield options – though Pulis said Wing still wasn’t 100% fit so he may not get a chance just yet.

      1. Yes I’m not really convinced about the illness theory either to be honest.. I suppose it could have been kept quiet to keep opposition managers guessing after such a strong start for Wing but that hasn’t really been Pulis’ style in press conferences – he’s generally been pretty open and honest.

        Nonetheless, there’s a stronger case for it than a blind aversion to youth. You only need look at how Pulis made Traore a key player to see that experience isn’t his number one criterion.

  39. Footballers today wear stat trackers during training and games. Not only are physical stats measured, but physiological ones too. This data is analysed using dedicated software to record everything about the player. Coupled with mental assessments too no stone is left unturned for deciding when a player is performing to his max, but also when he requires a break.

    Bear in mind that a lot of the adolescent young players have much more of a strain on a developing body than a mature adult player.

    Good to see MFC embracing this technology.

  40. Having just visited the MFC website, it appears that the game at Hull has been chosen for broadcast by the EFL’s international broadcast partners so will not be available for live streaming albeit it is being beambacked to the riverside!

    Looks like its back to the audio stream if it works after Tuesday’s shambles!

      1. RR

        Thanks for that. I am clearly confused by MFC’s website which states ” Please note that due to the match being selected for international broadcast, a video stream will not be available online for Away Day LIVE subscribers”.

        If, however, you go onto the purchase part of the website you can purchase a video or audio stream for the Hull game.

        Confused. Com or what……

        I have emailed the club for clarification.

        I have also asked if it is not available via video stream if I can be unblocked and allowed to watch the match as I am in Spain and the EFL do not have an international broadcast partner in Spain.

        This was something that iFollow were kind enough to do. I am not holding my breath as MFC are struggling to provide quality and consistent content with their new service let alone deal with bespoke requests!

  41. MFC have now responded and confirmed the match will not be a live video stream only audio. Response copied below for info.


    Sorry about the confusion. The article is correct in what it has said, we are unable to stream due to the game being picked up by an EFL international broadcaster. The subscription plan has being published in error, I want to thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    Unfortunately due to the minimal amount of people it would be going out to, we have chosen not to broadcast the Live Stream specifically to Spain.

    You can still listen to our Live Audio for the match.

    Kind regards,

    Alex Thompson | Data and Insight Executive

  42. Thanks to KP, RR and GHW for their info.

    Hopefully there will be a stream somewhere to be had. If I find one (or anybody else please) I will post it on here.

    1. It is actually a bit concerning how many games are not available through the yearly subscription – if we pay £150 then that was equivalent to 30 match-day passes under iFollow. If you now take into account that the 14 midweek games are also being screened by Sky and are widely available freely through other sites, plus nearly a third of Boro games have been selected for broadcast and are not eligible.

      I don’t mind paying MFC for the quality product as advertised, but given the problems they’ve had and continue to have with the live streaming, I’m starting to wonder if we’re getting value for money on a yearly subscription. I’ll be running out of patience if they don’t sort out all problems by the end of next month at the latest as surely 3 months is more than enough time to figure out ‘teething’ problems.

  43. Lovely to read the opinions on Wing, but most of it completely ignores the football aspect of it.
    How is it that a team in a wonderful run of form can be broken up to make way for a few journeymen players. When they came here they must have known that they had no chance of playing until our run came to an end. No manager breaks a run such as we were on, it might have lasted for ten or more matches.
    To drop players on the basis of youth was not the best of ideas, he obviously had not looked at the games, in which Wing and Tavernier were outstanding and the outcome was anything but helpful to our chances of promotion.
    He now has the chance to rectify his blunder, the story of Wings illness? Gives him a get out of gaol card, so perhaps we can resume our good form ( and score some goals)
    P.S. Sorry to raise the bleedin obvious point, but, have we got Wing on a serious contract both in years and money, if not, why not?

  44. It was good to see Bernie Slaven in his Gazette piece today adding support to my point on Boro’s strikers that they may be competing with some supporter’s grandmothers as to who could have done better. He wrote: “On Saturday against Swansea Ryan Shotton put in two fantastic crosses that my granny could have scored but no one anticipated them or attacked them”.

    1. On the live commentary Bernie Slaven said he would have scored from the second cross. And he is 57.

      I am the same age and have played against Bernie once.

      I believe he would have scored (if not off sode) but I doubt about his granny, though.

      Up the Boro!

  45. MFC have released a tweet advising that the Beamback of the Hull game will not now take place. Those that have already purchased tickets will be refunded.

    No reason given and I wonder if it is to do with ongoing technical issues relating to the video/audio service.

    I just hope the audio stream works tomorrow!

  46. How do all.

    Long time no post from me. Just watched the cup highlights, impressive penalties. I could imagine overlaying the infamous Alan Partridge World Cup 94 commentary over Tavernier’s strike. “He’s got a foot like a traction engine!”.

    Also, great penalty from McNair. Major cojones to go for that as you’re either going to lash it in (as he did) or spank it square against the corner of the frame of the goal leading to an equally spectacular rebound, and you looking like, well, a doyle, for not placing it with a little more precision.

    How many penalties have we missed in shoot outs over the last 2-3 years? Since the 3-day long penalty shoot out against Liverpool a couple of seasons ago we don’t seem to have missed many. Impressive stuff.

    Anyway, so far I’m feeling pretty pleased with how the season is panning out. We’re overachieving my expectations, but I’m hoping that the recent stutters are just a temporary glitch rather than an indicator of a deeper malaise.

    Anyway – enough from me for now, here’s hoping for a good weekend result and an equally impressive performance, hopefully with a view of our midweek heroes sprinkled into the mix. They look fearless and formidable going forward.

  47. I’ve just had a read of the piece in the Gazette reporting TP’s comments ahead of the Hull game where he again refers to ‘playing three matches in a week’, I’ve got a lot of time for Mr. Pulis, but I do think he needs to work on his arithmetic as I think he’ll find that playing once at the weekend and once mid-week is in fact two games a week.

    1. If, in Pulis land, playing a game every Saturday amounts to playing two games a week, then playing three games a week isn’t really a hardship. Clubs have been doing it for years. It’s normal. I’ve even been known to do it myself in days gone by. TP’s moan is surprisingly snowflakeish for such a self-defined ‘ard man.

  48. Team tomorrow?

    As TP has talked about Saturday- midweek- Saturday I would expect largely the team who played Swansea. May be the odd tweak but come the midweek match we may see another couple of changes.

    I do not expect to see a big influx of players compared to the one against Swansea.

    That does not mean I dont want see the likes of Fry, Wing, Tavernier, Chapman and Wood involved. It is what I expect to see.

  49. After the Leeds result tonight there is an opportunity to take advantage of the situation tomorrow afternoon. The problem as I see it is the arthritic like pedestrian build up to our attacking play, set pieces aside which have now become like Hen’s teeth in any case.

    The Fletcher goal against Preston shows what happens when you don’t rely on a one dimensional striker who only scores goals running through on goal or a bruiser dishing it out waiting for crosses from wing backs. Wing and Fletcher (and even Gestede to his credit) showed what slick inter play can do to defences at this level.

    WBA play Preston tomorrow at Deepdale and I fancy them to simply destroy the Lilywhites. We need to rip the Tigers in two and spit them back out but when I think of the usual suspects being selected forward of Clayts it looks so pedestrian and measured that a yawn comes across me subconsciously.

    I’m not wanting a major overhaul but having witnessed Downing, Besic, Howson, Hugill and Assombalonga of late I would give Fletcher, Tav and Wing a go and see what they can do and maybe wake up some of the somnambulistic “footballers” who seem to be untouchable. Come on TP the defence is tight, the goalkeeper spot on and Clayts is simply majestic. Its the rest of the side thats letting us all down. Cow’s backsides and banjo’s come to mind when I see those names week after week. Lets fire a rocket up the collective Jacksies of the under performing few!

    I for one am sick of seeing shots that are not only off target from outside the box but not even ending up in the first 25 rows. Its a basic minimum requirement in the job description, if you can’t hit a target 24 feet by 8 feet then you should be dropped out of the squad let alone the bench. If you can’t handle it cry to your agent or better still try practising! Meanwhile get Tav and Wing in the starting eleven or at least on the bench to rescue us from the under performing and likely biggest wage earners.

    1. I’d go along with that. I’d like to see Fry back in a back three with Wing and Saville ahead of Clayton. Tav could play off Assombalonga/Hugill/Fletcher/Gestede for me instead of Braithwaite.

      I’m Not expecting that from the start but it could be the XI that finishes the game.

  50. Pedro
    I was able to watch games on Bet 365 last year. The only problem was the fairly small image but you can use Chromecast or something similar to put it onto a bigger screen.
    Old Billy
    Thanks for that. When I last checked they didn’t have the game listed. Now it’s on the schedule so I too can watch it in perfect conditions on Foxtel.
    TP has to decide whether he goes with wingbacks or the more attacking flat back four. I can’t second guess that but would see Wing playing if it’s a back four. Clayton and Howson seem certain and then it’s perm from the rest.
    Tav on the bench.

  51. For the boys living abroad, and more so down under, Hull v Boro live on BeIn Sport at 22:00 Oz time, also for those like me in Oz that refused to be highjacked by Optus for yet another subscription to watch the overhyped PL, the Boro game is preceded by WHU v Man Ure on SBS at 19:00, free.

    Anyone tuning in from Melbourne, “Go the Eagles” to stuff the pies this afternoon, not that it means a lot to those up over.

      1. Thanks Deggsie, on my third bottle of bubbles to celebrate, there’s more on ice to carry on the celebrations of a win just around midnight our time, hopefully, as you say, by five!

  52. So Leeds fail to win again, though fantastic long-range strike from Adam Reach that put the Owls in front – that’s now just one victory over bottom club Preston in their last 5 games for the leaders. Not that Boro have fared much better and failure to win at Hull will make our record equal or even worse should we lose.

    At least all the top 6 are away this weekend but West Brom and Derby are looking dangerous – but some early-season favourites have not got their act together and you wonder if Bruce may be awaiting the international break with dread as his Villa side are currently off the pace averaging 1.4 points per game.

    Not sure if to expect many surprises with team selection today by Pulis as Tav, Wing and Gestede all played 90 minutes on Wednesday – with the last two still not 100% fit. Boro reverted to three at the back for Preston and you wonder if Pulis decides to continue with that system whether Danny Batth will get the nod over Fry.

    I suspect we’ll see Hugill start instead of Britt and probably Braithwaite will continue – I’d also expect to see a midfield of Clayton, Saville and Howson too. The only major changes may be reserved for the bench and having Lewis Wing on it will at least offer a different option – he looks to be the best passer of the ball out of our midfield options and more likely to support the forwards. A midfield of Saville, Wing and Clayton would appear to offer more progressive ability without losing bite.

    I’ll go 2-0 to Boro as Hull are not in great form with goals from Flint and Hugill – both from set pieces.

    1. I think he needs Batth or Fry on the bench but not both although it will be tough on whoever misses out. McQueen probably needs to be on the bench for WB cover and Dimi or Lonergan. After that I’d have Wing and Tav plus a Striker then a n other. Clear message that despite price tags others are breathing down your neck and your position is at risk. Its critical we now string a run of wins together to be serious contenders. Another Norwich display is unacceptable.

      1. Much will depend on whether it’s a back two or three but he’ll have one central defender on the bench – he’ll probably also have Besic as he’s usually the first sub on. I’d agree with McQueen and then there will likely be one striker too. It may be Wing or Tav but not both, most likely Wing as midfield cover. Incidentally, Pulis seemed to suggest this week his youngsters probably need to go out on loan in January to get 30-40 games under their belts and toughen up – interestingly Fry was mentioned in that group, along with Tav.

      2. Besic may need to up his fitness in fairness but I haven’t seen anything that warrants his inclusion going back to the Play Offs. I hope he gets back to the form of last season but at the minute if you are not doing it then don’t cry about being left out.

        Today sees us at the benchmark ten game stage. Our first five games brought us 13 points, the last four games when all the new arrivals had come in and the youngsters effectively nudged out have yielded just 5 points from four games, a win today would make that 8 points from five games.

        Our points tally have been diminishing since Wing was dropped. His assists have been sorely missed and its clear that Downing, Howson and Besic between them can’t replace that stat. George Saville might go some way to addressing things but I don’t see him as an “assist” player in fact I see him as the player Howson was supposed to be, a Midfielder that will notch a few goals. Downing plays some great balls but his set pieces are poor, more so considering his experience. I know that TP rates him highly but the results on the pitch are what its about and individual attributes are great but its what players bring to the team that really matters. Teams win games and amass points over a long season not 45 yard pin point passes interspersed with a shot or volley that takes out three seagulls.

  53. Werder, disappointingly I also cannnot see TP changing the team from the Swansea game. I expect Britt to continue and Batth to get the nod in a back three. No changes in the ponderous midfield and so the struggle will continue.

    RR never mind about Leeds there are five teams below us if they all win and we lose, would overtake us. That is how tight it is.

    TP was I think will be right in saying WBA are the team to watch. We cannot keep playing well at the back, aided by numbers I must say and create nothing up front.
    Mr Pulis have to use all his players available and especially those that offer somthing different. We certainly have too many same as, same as in the front five/six.

    1. Pulis claimed that Boro are creating enough chances but are just not taking them – he’s challenged one of his strikers to become a 20 goal a season man. Though has said Gestede is still not fit and will need games in the development squad. I think Pulis is more likely to start with Hugill away from home as holding the ball is not really Britt’s game.

  54. I dont expect many changes from the game against Swansea. TP has already told us we are playing every few days and will use the squad. To me that means the return of the starters who didn’t play at Preston.

    I may be wrong and the likes of Wing and Tav will start but the best I think we will see is making the squad,

  55. As forecast, Eagles 79-75 Pies, get in there. What am I talking about? The grand final of the AFL at the MCG, West Coast have started what I hope to be a Super Saturday. The golf is going well and I’m looking forward to the game on the box tonight, no forecast there, though, I’m afraid.

    Bring it on.

  56. A quick word on the golf for Ken, as I write Europe are up in the three and level in match after leading 5-3 overnight.

    Yesterday looked to be going the way of the US at lunch leading 3-1 but two of the wins were by one shot. In one game the European putt would not drop and ended up going back towards the golfer. In the same match a US shot bounced on the pilings around the water and landed close to the pin. Fine margins.

    In the afternoon it was a rout.

    An interesting comment from Paul McGinley, in the USA the fairways are wide and have little rough, they can spay the ball and shoot low scores. On this course you have to keep on the fairway.

    Not even half way through so plenty to play for, the USA have some top golfers, if they start hitting fairways they will be difficult to beat.

  57. Another golden opportunity to go clear at the top of the league. It needs to be taken, as if you keep spurning them opportunities have a habit of drying up.

    1. The psychological benefits from a win at Hull are enormous, it dents Leeds, frustrates WBA and massively boosts morale at Boro. A draw or defeat today makes things very heavy and weary.

  58. Well another chance to go top but will the Boro take it? My heart and head say yes but not with the fast paced attacking type of football most posters and supporters would like to see.

    There has been quite a marked difference between the way the championship and the league cup games have been played out, with the championship games of late being more of a labored approach to say the least.

    For me it’s not so much about the players TP picks but in the way he sets those players up and what tactics he employs in that set up. We definitely need an injection of pace with more forward looking options so for what it’s worth I’d have Wing and Tavernier on from the start with Howson and Downing making way.

    Randolph is a cert and I’d prefer a back 3 of Ayala Flint and Fry though I suspect Baath would be TPs preferred option. Clays to carry on his excellent form in front of them with Shotton and George as wing backs pushing high up the pitch. I’d give George the nod as I’ve not seen enough of McQueen to say he’s the better of the two. As mentioned Tav and Wing with Braithwaite alongside Brit up front

    That’s what I’d like to see but I suspect it’s not the way TP will see things.

    And like being “joint top” 3 games a week also does my head in. My OCD just can’t let that go.

    0-3 to the men in red. Or black!

    1. FAA
      We can only pray that we win the match, but with a manager in denial one wonders.
      As it stands we are in the position of cruising to the top of the league with attacking football, carefree and unconcerned by the opposition.
      Then he rapidly extracted the playmakers from the team ( that would be Wing and Tavernier) bang went the goals, so he changed the defence, and, bobs your uncle, bang went any suggestion of cruising.
      All this would be bad ( indeed job threatening) but fortunately the other teams dropped points. So we can revert to our good young attackers?
      Nope, he has taken two avoidance tactics, one, Wing has been ill, yea! right, he ran the match at Preston. and Tavernier is a kid, oh dear, I feel faint.
      As you might expect he has no intention of playing any of the above and every intention of loaning them out, ( that gets us of his back, you see).
      a couple of questions for his employers, why did we find and sign a player from the non league world, realise that we had hooked a jewel, and then decide that some journeyman, much travelled player must take his place in a top of the table side. Why did we play our great young product of our academy until we were on top of the league, and only then decide that he had to get games under his belt ( only not with us)
      Both Fulham and Aston Villa are playing their young players every match, Grealish has just had a 46 million price tag stuck on him.
      Could anyone remind me how much we sold Traore for?

  59. As Justin Thomas sent his drive on a par 3 hole in the air we got the usual US shout of ‘in the hole’. As it landed in the bunker I loved the reposte of commentator David Howell as it landed ‘it certainly is in the hole, but it’s full of sand’.

  60. Plato

    TP picks the team he thinks will hopefully win the game. I don’t necessarily agree with him but he’s the manager and my thoughts and opinions are just that.

    Yes I’m disappointed no Wing or Tavernier but that team should be more than good enough to bring 3 valuable points back to Teesside.

    As for Grealish being “valued” at £46 million and being used as a stick to beat the club that’s unfair in my view as that’s about £30 million over the odds for a player no one wanted to buy in the last transfer window.

    As for having to cheer on a team in white that just makes me feel dirty😉

    Thanks to my fellow bloggers for the suggested sites for a stream of the match I’ll have a good ferret about to try and find one.

  61. No great surprise in the squad. The team as sent out looks a bit pedestrian to say the least.

    I hear we are in our third strip because red clashes with old gold and black.

  62. Werder, this by far and away one of the worst games it’s been my displeasure to watch, Friend couldn’t put a cross on a ballot paper and my Commadore 64 was faster at getting up to speed than Hugill will ever be. This thing is crying out for some individual thinking, and not some training ground set piece fall back.

    Luckily, if I didn’t mention it before but I’m certain that I did, my celebrations containing fluids with an alcohol content and lots of bubbles after the West Coast Eagles took out the AFL grand final, are numbing the senses. Only the Boro could cut through that defence!

  63. I’m struggling to think of a memorable moment from that first half of tedious tripe – I think it was when I went to the fridge to get a beer. I don’t think I’ve even got my money’s worth watching an unofficial free stream! The second half can only get better – you would hope…

  64. Well that was most boring football and dismal display of how not to pass a ball I have seen for a long time.

    Long balls from the back to no one in particular, Hugill like a Bull in a china shop and poor Britt once more getting nothing at all for him to run on to. Two CB´s on the bench…..WHY? Howson and Saville like two twins doing the same thing and failing. The few crosses towards their box have either ended up in Marshalls gloves or not even made it. Rubbish does not even describe it.

    Oh and by the way…no shots on target by either team. If Hull score then there will be no coming back in this one. One has to ask post Bristol, has Mr Pulis lost the plot?

  65. Listening via the MFC audio stream.

    Woeful and turgid display have just been a couple of words used to describe the game by the match commentators which I can only concur with.

    At least the golf is entertaining-Mrs P is amazed that I can multi task!

  66. 1-0, Assombalonga, I’m so disinterested I’m about to turn back to the golf, this is tripe of the first order. Now, where’s my West Coast Eagles bubbles?

  67. Allan, liven things up, I’ve had more fun watching my Alka Seltzer fizz in the glass in the morning after a brilliant time the night before, this isn’t even close. Although, I think that I might need an Alka Seltzer in the morning after my arm wrestling with my glass today, did I tell anyone that the West Coast Eagles won the AFL grand final?

  68. Saw it coming a mile off, Martin dives better than Tom Daley, this is so bad I’m signing off and watching the grass grow somewhere near Paris. I’m sorry, but as much as I appreciate what Pulis has done for us so far, this is not acceptable, improve or move.

  69. Sorry Werder, but if it had been the other way round. however was really disappointing was that the ball is going away from the goal. Ayala did not even have to touch him, not inside the box anyway.

    The same with Clayton and his look of disbelief when booked….he was chasing from behind and it was a blatant push. Suspended for one game now I think?

    TP lost his way with this team selection, not even considering Wing.

    1. It looked to me from the replay that Martin had already decided to go down and stuck his trailing leg out behind him so Ayala would catch it – it looked like contact was Martin to Ayala, not the other way round. Nevertheless a poor disjointed display that didn’t deserve three points – though their keeper made a great save from Howson’s late header and Flint also header against the bar. A missed opportunity against a poor Hull.

      OK, back to the cooking – apparently we’ve got guests arriving today – though I’ll believe it when I see them 🙂

  70. The poor decision that was the penalty should not leave us with a feeling of injustice.
    We are a solid team but have absolutely no flair.
    After 10 minutes of watching this I would have taken a point.
    Unless we gamble on wing or Tav we are only going in one direction.
    Three subs at once, not one of them could have changed the game.
    Why are we spending 7m on Saville?
    How can Downing be an impact player?
    We’re did Howson go?
    I thought Hugill wanted to play for Boro.
    We were fortunate to take the lead and fortunate to take a point.

    1. Thanks to Redcar Red for his report on what I guess must have been a harrowing experience to witness. So what happened to the report I expected him to write of my predictable 3-0 win? The Ryder Cup this year has been the most exciting for many a year with narrow fairways, tangling rough, water and wind enchancing the levels of difficulty and adding to the atmosphere. Yet Tommy Fleetwood and Francisco Molinari have become the first ever pairing in the history of the Ryder Cup to win all 4 successive matches together for either team. Even Seve with Olazabal, or Faldo with Woosie weren’t able to do that. Their putting was unbelievable making one wonder if they would be as successful striking a football on goal with the same accuracy. Perhaps Boro should sign them up in January? Naw, I doubt we could afford them. Keep it up lads today and bring the Ryder Cup back home to Europe!

  71. Well, Tony didn’t have any Tigers in his tank. Clayton aside that was a display of complete indifference. Once again we were outmuscled for practically every 50-50 ball.

    They started slowly and got slower still. Crying out for a midfielder who can run with the ball.

    Too many players today just weren’t at the races, and I suspect with a couple they are playing too far above their natural level, the gulf in class was obvious to see.

    It will be interesting to hear the managers view.

    1. GHW, that is more than a couple of times you have used the phrase, “out muscled” and it is sadly very true. We are too lightweight in the middle and who ever made the decision to try and sign, fail, go back and take on loan with an agreement to pay 7 mil for Saville wants shooting. Or at the very least sacked.
      Nice and tidy buts offer nothing more than we already have in.

  72. Well we don’t know the metrics from training and midweek but I’m pretty sure sure that if you pick team without a midfielder who can pass forwards you’re not going to create much. Compounding that by playing two out and out strikers, forsaking the link man, doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

    A missed opportunity. Again.

  73. Oh God! I told you so, are there any words in the language to fill you with despair as they do.
    a wooden headed manager? , I think so, to hit the top of your league and promptly go five without a win, whilst all around you are crashing and burning, is bad. What is infinitely worse is realising that you have blundered and deciding to ship out the players who took you to the top (because they need to play?) well, they would wouldn’t they. That team is full of players who are supposed to control the game, whilst making and scoring goals.
    without being unkind, very difficult I must tell you, can I say that the entire five games that we have played since we hit the top have consisted of shambolic, standing around in our own half, letting any old player have a shot at our goal, and on four occasions the raffle has come up for them. May I say that it will change, they have got our number and all bets are off.
    If the club let this man send Wing and Tavernier out on loan, I would suggest that they have lost the plot. His dignity is of no account, he has had every chance to play them in the first team, we would of course be top by a few points, more important we would have seen a few goals and some sparkling play, instead of the rubbish we have endured for five matches

    1. Plato is right. After the Leeds game I thought that Pulis might know what he doing but the team selections and performances since then have shown me that I was severely mistaken.

      Today was the worst display to date with poor selection and tactics compounded by players who looked as though they couldn’t care less. Let’s not forget that this season is make or break because the parachute payments drop off next season and to see a performance like that with so much at stake is just unacceptable. If TP and the players think otherwise or look for excuses then they are deluded, It was dire and if this dross continues then promotion is completely out of the question.

      I would drop the entire first team and play the Carabao Cup team against Ipswich. Not only would the team show more enterprise and creativity and stand a better chance of winning but the first team might get the message that they need to do much, much, much, much better.

  74. Just one more comment. It seems Traore changed the game when he came on as a sub for Wolves today and laid on the two winning goals. It would be nice to have a player like that in the squad, wouldn’t it?

    1. Sorry Exmil and not at all being rude to you……so what.

      The League is all important and Mr Pulis is getting that all wrong. The Caroboa Cup or whatever it is called has just been an avenue to date to give some of the fringe players game time.

      However some of those players should be in the EFL League first team or on the bench at least.

    2. Great to have a home draw. I hope we wil win the tie. And then other fans will join us on the road to Wembley.

      Our only success is winning the League Cup. We should always appreciate the Cup. Always. Who will remember the season in the PL with Karanka in two years’ time?

      At least the Sunderland and Newcastle fans will remember our win of the Cup as they are still Trophy virgins. Up the Boro!

  75. We all know we must have the worst recruitment team in the football league its not the players fault, they are what they are ,for the moist part average run of the mill second and third division talent.
    The managers we’ve had have done well considering what they have to work with, the fans are what they are loyal supporters, but its so annoying ,when you think of the money that as been layed out.
    Yes we are up there but its been about slogging away to gain points,
    Boro recruitment …read.,incompetent.

    1. I shall be standing next to Gary Gill this Sunday morning. His son plays with my grandsons team in the TJFA first division.

      I’ve never plucked up the nerve to talk to him as it would be embarrassing for my grandson.

      I have however gone over the questions with him in my head over and over.

      He seems a nice guy and I want to keep it friendly


  76. Thanks RR with your alternative and truthful match report. The reading of it is like a horror story, unfortuanately it is non fiction rather than fiction in the making.

  77. Hmmm. Interesting read, and back to the pre-season gloom and doom. I don’t see the games (I watch the highlights but I’m not dedicated enough/don’t have time to watch the full game) so no real right to comment. And yet…the 10 game threshold has gone and we’re a touch under the 2 points a game requirement, we’ve lost just once in the league and we’ve got through 3 rounds of the League Cup. Maybe I’m just a bit delusional and out of touch, but seems like a decent start to the season to me. But then I didn’t have any preconceived views about Tony Pulis. You’re all entitled to your opinions ladies and gentleman, especially those who attend the games, but I don”t share them. I still think we’ll be there or there-abouts…which is what I had hoped for and expected.

    1. I think we have started well Kookaboro. Better than I expected for sure.

      I think the frustration is that we haven’t capitalised on the excellent first 5/6 games and the trend has become downwards as some of those players who got us here are no longer featuring.

      The last four league results in particular don’t look read like a side that will get promoted and all could have been won – probably wouldn’t have been but definitely could have been – with a more progressive approach.

  78. Boroexile’s point re replacing the first team with the Carbao Cup side has much merit. It’s nice that we’re not losing but far more important is the trend and ethos surrounding the club.

    The team that drew at Preston played with a zip and joy that is lacking in this current first 11. Unless we discover how to be more creative – and score occasionally – then the zeitgeist will turn against TP and quickly.

    Ultimately all fans want to win and if they can’t do that, then they want a strong core of home grown young players giving it their, players who care and thereby represent them and the area.

    I know TP lost out on AA and Bolasie at the death (not his doing) but it’s highly unlikely they would have improved matters greatly had they joined.

    Some of the younger players must come into the first team now, none of this sending them out on loan to gain experience tosh. Give them the experience they need with us and now.

    Finally Braithwaite, a snake. He will not commit to the club despite any protestations and needs dumping now. This is not TP’s fault but he did err unbelievably by selling Bamford who has a similar, and superior, skill set.

    It’s really difficult to guess how this season will pan out but right now, despite the third slot, it has not been overly encouraging. But the Carabao Cup, well that will get my attention.

  79. So we are having a wobble. But as ever it will be over soon and then we are back to the winning ways.

    Luckily, we are still joint second in the league even we are not playing well. More worrying is that our points per game average is below two for the first time this season (1.9).

    But we have a good squad. We need two wins and we are back in the top two and the correct average per game.

    It is nice to have a wobble and still be in the Cup and level on points with the second in the league. Actuallu very good if your team is not performing and you are still Up there. We can only get better now.

    Up the Boro!

  80. No huge surprises yesterday, play a team of plodders and you get a plodding game. It isn’t the players fault, they are what they are. We have what we have.

    The question is are we missing opportunities.

    TP said he would use his squad due to the number of fixtures so the team yesterday was like the team last Saturday. The logic is we will see many from the midweek league appear for the Ipswich game but will we?

    The window transactions were not TP’s fault just like Gestede, Bamford (the unfit, unloved version we got at the time) and Guediwhoareyou were not AK’s fault.

    How we use the resources we have is up to TP.

    A common saying I use is the managerial charge sheet, it applies to all managers, Time and results will tell.

  81. Kookaboro, I can understand where you are coming from with your post and like that from Jarrko ever the optimist, possibly I and a few others should not be complaining too much.

    However and it is difficult not to go back to the Bristol match, but since then I am afraid Mr Pulis has pulled the team selection and it’s playing system back into his own defensive ideology. Yes I know we have not brought forward thinking players, but Saville AND Besic…WHY.

    Yesterday’s selection like those previously did nothing to help move the ball forward in a way required to help the front player(s). Hull are dire and a team in disarray and yet TP sets up a team not to attack and win but to defend and not concede.
    What McQueen brought was nothing and looked like a fish out of water. Maybe as a LB he could be OK? George, poor old George now with the Captains arm band playing at CB. Another one looking lost and out of position. I would not of complained too much if TP had played Batth ahead of Fry because he is a proper CB. George is not and never will be.

    Clayton apart, and apart from his stupid foul earning a booking and suspension, played well, but all the other midfield players selected from the start and substitutions othered very little. I will be generous and believe Howson meant that pass to Britt, who did take it well.
    But that apart nothing but punts up field to Hugill, corners and throws into the keepers hands, nothing different, no short corners, no dead ball kicks that may fool the opposition. Nothing but tedious tripe as Werder put it.
    I did like his memorable first half highlight though…..going to the fridge to get a beer. 😂

    We are going on way only at the moment, backwards and downwards in the table. Even Norwich are now on our tails. Mr Pulis is proving to be more stubborn than I thought he would be and as always has an excuse as to the loss of points. It of course has nothing to do with poor passing, creating opportunities from incisive through balls, no, it is the Referee, missed chances, some players not playing to there full ability. No no chance it could be the team selection.

    In some ways I would now not want TP to pick or play Wing or Taviernier or even Fletcher in a League match. They would unfortuanately be on a hiding to nothing.

  82. Good posts KookaBoro and jarkko, people called for an experienced manager after all the “newbies” and we have got one of the most experienced in all the leagues but still they know better. As you both rightly point out, we are joint second one point behind the leader, averaging 1.9 per game, we have played 5 of the current top 7, won 2, drew 2, lost 1 the only team we haven’t played is Brentford and if you look at the top ten, we also won at Bristol City so out of a possible 18 points we have picked up 11, with 3 home and away matches against 6 of the current top ten teams.

    I, like everyone else would have loved Boro to have 30 points but it ain’t going to happen in the realistic world, people moaned and complained about the draw at Norwich and they are 5th in the table. Other teams, like BORO are still finding themselves and on any given day, any team can beat any other team, the pre season favourite for automatic promotion Stoke City are 17th, ten points of the pace but how many people are willing to write them off making the top 6 by the end of the season.

    I, like everyone else, am disappointed that we didn’t win yesterday, happy we didn’t lose and walk away with a point to the next match away at Ipswich. Nobody can say if we played Wing and Tavernier we would have won as we could have also lost, then people wouldn’t have the stick to beat TP with but they would find something else. I am happy with the season so far, yes we could have had more points but from the comments I have read on here, pre season (especially towards the closure of the transfer window) TP is achieving beyond expectations.

    Come on BORO.

  83. Last day of the Ryder Cup. Will the US actuallt hit the fairways? If they keep the ball in play they cane pull it back.


    Time will tell how well TP has done with the tools he was given. Players always improve sat in the stands.

  84. Dropping Downing and Braithwaite wasn’t a huge surprise, it could have been another two or even three who could have been “rested”. The bizarre consequential sequence of shuffling was a cause for concern. As mentioned above, pushing George in from Left Back or Wing Back to Centre Back with McQueen in George’s role (or was it Downings?) didn’t make sense. Why drop Fry? he wasn’t a part of the problem. Why move your LB/WB to CB when his usual role wasn’t our problem?

    I have an open mind on McQueen as I haven’t seen enough of him but yesterday confirmed that whatever that role was supposed to be it certainly isn’t his strong point. On Britt and Hugill, they linked up well but Hugill has the look of a 1960’s agricultural type of Centre Forward which against certain sides may be useful in a squad but in reality he looks like a middling Championship Striker. We already have a big lad in Gestede who can be a handful but offers little else. The addition of the “local lad” is puzzling and I won’t mention the one that was sold to the dirties probably because he doesn’t have a broken nose or the required number of dodgy tattoos.

    The plethora of samey Midfielders (apologies if they are not but to date I haven’t seen anything for me to differentiate them significantly) doesn’t help and of course the dismal failure of the Transfer Window to bring in the pace we required was compensated for by bringing in another Midfielder albeit an £8M pound one to add to the recently acquired £5M McNair and Mo Besic.

    The gaps in skill sets can be in part be filled with the Boys. I accept that they are not proven, hard faced, hard nosed, seasoned, battle hardened Men but square pegs in round holes regardless of how experienced those square pegs may be has cost us points. Blaming Refereeing decisions only goes so far when the Elephant in the room is ignored. I would much rather TP say this is the best I can muster because incompetents over my head don’t know how to scout, attract, recruit and contract negotiate in the modern game which would be fair comment in the minds of most fans.

    West Brom’s first team went to Preston and won 3-2, our reserves and Kids went there and drew 2-2 in midweek and looked good value for the draw. My guess is that our normal back 5 with Clayts in front wouldn’t have conceded those two goals in midweek but our normal midfield and Strike combination wouldn’t have scored two goals either. Asombalonga has to miss two or three sitters (plus other lesser chances) for every one he scores, Hugill spends most of his time wrestling and grappling slowing the game down and with the possible exception of Howson there isn’t much to link it all up.

    Having a tight defence is great but having nothing forward of it to build on that solidity is only doing half a job. Managers sticking to their guns is the standard default mode but it is ultimately their downfall (e.g. Karanka here and now Jose’ at United). Its far too early in both the Season and TP’s tenure to contemplate those thoughts but this time last year GM was building Boro for promotion and by Christmas that dream was over. Keeping on doing the same things but expecting different results isn’t clever, the challenge is to win and be the best in the League, not to scrap, defend and survive, save that for next season please Tony.

  85. Thanks to Redcar Red for capturing the ineptitude of that performance by both teams in what must have had been captivating viewing for those TV companies that chose it – though by captivating I mean the viewers probably thought they wanted locking up. Can’t remember seeing a worse opening 45 minutes in a long time and the second half was only marginally better thanks to the few minutes of excitement provided by a goal, a soft penalty and a couple of nearly moments.

    I’d agree with RR’s view that it was amazing not to see any half-time substitutions and it was even more amazing to see that Pulis waited until the 75th minutes to decide he needed something different – though with two central defenders, Besic and McNair among the options he was limited in what he could achieve. At least I viewed it with a German commentator, who kept calling the Boro, Middlesburg and was mainly concerned with the lack of quality of the ripped shirt rather than the match.

    It would be complacent to look at the table and view the average of 1.9 points per game as a sign that Boro are ambling along pretty nicely at the top as we are currently falling in the six-game form table and are now down to ninth. Plus the intensity that was a feature of Boro’s play before the international break has been conspicuous by its absence in the last four games and the side looks more disjointed with each game rather than gelling together. That trend needs to be reversed in the next two games before the latest international break, otherwise we will probably be looking at 8 or 9 clubs sitting above us.

    1. Please take note Mr Pulis of the above last paragraph.
      We have a problem that needs sorting, to do nothing would be like Nero playing whilst all of Rome burns.

  86. Thanks for the report RR and sorry that having watched the match you had to re-live it via the report.

    Listened to the match and it sounded dire with the same old failings many on hear have been concerned about for some time.

    TP cannot continue to use the excuse that all teams are difficult to beat and that we were just a bit short of a good performance.

    We are on a downward trajectory and unless he starts including Wing and Tavernier in his squad then that will continue.

    We keep failing to take our opportunities when they come along and that will come back to haunt us. I expected 6 points from the Hull and Ipswich games and am now wondering if we will get any.

    I do wonder if TP is tinkering to much with the formations/personnel and wonder if that is impacting. GF used to be a centre back but has not played there for many years so why play him out of position? It is also in my view no good playing two centre forwards if the midfield is not linking the play. We need to get back to some continuity on all fronts.

  87. Trouble is we all buy in to the new season hype,players leave new ones come in ,but ten games in ,its back to what it is, millions of pounds on players from Millwall, Bristol, Forrest ,Norwich, Everton reserves, Southampton reserves, Sunderland, clubs going nowhere, and we sign there useless cast offs.
    The last best signing cost nowt from the northern league .
    Give me a break,even if we did a Cardiff, we’d still mess up.
    Sorry to upset some, but after fifty odd years of this its just deflating.
    .Mr Gibson thanks for everything ,but surely even you must stop this continued half baked second rate signings, who have never been beyond this level.

  88. Excellent report again RR with one sentence that summarises the current position perfectly for me. It reads “The one common theme in all this is TP clinging to some very overrated and overpriced Men at the expense of Boys who can actually make a difference.”

    Alas it doesn’t strike me that Pulis is the kind or person who will first recognise what is wrong, second accept that he is The cause of the problem and, third, do something about it.

    I therefore ask myself whether I want to spend my hard-earned money watching the kind of dross served up yesterday and for the previous few games. The answer is no, not really and so while I will as ever avidly follow the Boro I am going to give matchdays a miss for a few weeks and hope that something that could be described as entertainment appears sooner rather than later.

  89. What a great spectacle the Ryder Cup has been, not only to see the huge crowds surrounding the first tee, but also those bringing together their national flags and colourful attire though nevertheless embracing the theme of a united Europe. Shame about Brexit and the few fans who booed the introduction of the American players, but generally the reverence and sportsmanship to opponents would be hard to find at any other sporting event. Many folk think watching golf is boring, but try telling that to the 60,000 or so fans who witnessed the last few days at Le France National. Well done Europe for regaining the Ryder Cup but also to the sportsmanship of both the European and American players, caddies and spectators for making the last three days such an enjoyable event. Not to forget France for staging one of the most demanding golf courses in the World.

  90. Are we already below the relegation drop line? Sounds like we are even below Stoke and going down.

    Saville is excellent but not yet fully intergated. We and the Everton fans know how good Besic can be when he is integrated to the team.

    What I try to say is that we have a good squad of players and the team was not weakened towards the end of the window – even it Sounds like that in here.

    As we saw at Preston, we have two good team for the Championship.

    So a bit patience. When ever we get new players, the results do not pick up immediately. So let’s just support the team and the manager. Up the Boro!

    1. I do love your optimism Jarkko, especially as you have been a supporter for so long!! Your ability not to be typical Boro is to be applauded!

      Think I need to a trip to Finland………

  91. Trying to catch up after a long trip in different time zones and intermittent WiFi. Then not helped by being jet lagged!

    The usual thanks to all those who have contributed, sorry that I have only speed read most of them so may have missed key points and may repeat others views.

    The Hull game sounded like a horror show and I feel certain that I have read similar before…….. or I am losing the plot!!

    Ok, so we could have gone top and are still third but it does seem more like luck than good management……….which is a concern.

    Hoping to come up to see the game on Saturday in the flesh so can see if Boro Exile is right, I fear that he may be somehow. TP has a knack of surprising and disappointing at the same time and some of the selections do look strange for a manager that likes big players. Being out muscled is not something that I would expect to read……….

    Still, better to be where we are rather than Hull and Ipswich to come……….what could possibly go wrong!

    I must admit that whilst I had hoped we could be where we are after 10 games, I wasn’t expecting it to be honest and from the sounds of it, we perhaps shouldn’t be!

    I mean winning cup games on penalties………..

  92. Blimey, plenty of doom and gloom on here. As for entertainment, if its entertainment your after watching just about any team in the league is going to disappoint at least seven times out of ten. Surely being a supporter is about being a supporter rather than expecting entertainment?
    I was hoping/expecting a win yesterday, Hull are woeful, but that’s not how championship football works is it?
    We’ve got a strong squad, we’re well placed and if we replicate the first ten games over 46 we’ll probably finish second and everyone I imagine will be happy.
    Here’s hoping we can beat Ipswich and i’m looking forward to my next trip up to the Riverside to see Boro play our old mate Aitor’s team.

    For me TP is the best manager in the championship, if the players play badly on the day nothing much he can do other than pick a different bunch for the next game or give them a good roasting and hope for a reaction.

    1. That’s the question really, will Boro replicate their form of the first 5 games or the last 5 games? the first 5 would have meant 120 points and a record season – the last 5 would mean 55 points and somewhere around 17th place compared to last season. Boro have been a shadow of the team before the international break and the performances against Norwich, Bolton, Swansea and Hull ranged for well below par to very poor. Even players who were on form earlier are looking nowhere near the same level. The question is why and what will change the current displays to something closer to what will get us closer to that 2 points per game average?

    2. Nigel, I’ve been a Boro supporter for close on 60 years and I’ve seen plenty of entertaining football over the years, much of it in the Second Division/Championship. So I know it is possible to field a team that will entertain those present but that isn’t what is being served up at the moment. I have no idea how much I have invested over the years in supporting Boro and I don’t begrudge a penny of it but at my age I am not inclined to invest any more to watch stultifying dull fare when it could be different. I have other things to do and I suspect there will be other long term supporters who feel the same.

      1. I can totally empathise with those sentiments and I have to admit having similar thoughts during the AK season in the premiership.

        I agree that the second tier can be very entertaining and whilst I think Ken has or will prove me wrong, but in my mind in the last 50 years (my Boro lifetime of support) we have been in the second and third tier more than the top flight.

        As fans we want to see our team do well, win games, compete at the highest level possible and be entertained. Now which of those do we value the most?

        I guess that will change from time to time and at different times and is it possible to have them all, I wonder?

        Answers on a postcard please – for me, it is about winning games and if we can’t manage that, then I want to be entertained with excitement. What makes me question my sanity (and now that I am retired, the finances more) is seeing drab football with no wins, eg AK at his best(or worst).

        I fear that whilst the Championship is always an interesting league with all teams being variable and liable to implode at the drop of a hat, with TP we may not see pretty football. I can live with that if we are winning, even by 1 0 and making a concerted effort on promotion.

        A football supporters lot is not a happy one, happy one!! To paraphrase Gilbert and Sullivan!

  93. Well, back in the uk after spending 5 weeks in the lovely town of Dalyan in Turkey. My first point of call on the web was of course Diasboro so a massive thank you to Werder / RR and everyone for keeping me up to date on everything about Boro.

    1. Boro Beckys Dad
      I’m not going to contradict you, but it’s very close. In the last 50 years Boro have spent 24 of those in the top tier.
      8 seasons from 1974/82, 1 season 1988/89, 1 season 1992/93, 2 seasons 1995/97, 11 seasons 1998/2009 and of course 1 season in 2016/17.
      I know what you mean though, it doesn’t seem as many. What is astounding though is that Coventry City who had never enjoyed First Division football until 1967 stayed there until 2001, an unbroken membership of 34 seasons yet Boro’s longest stretches in the top flight have been only 18 seasons each from 1902 to 1924, and from 1929 to 1954 each period spanning the two World Wars.

  94. What is most frustrating is TP seems to have all the players necessary to challenge for promotion but compromises our chances by rigidly sticking to his long established formula.
    To build on RR’s comparison between the team which played Preston and that against Hull, I don’t believe the answer isn’t one or the other, or even a fair mix of both.
    Don’t mess with the back five, front two or Clayts when available. Just one of Tav or Wing in the starting eleven and perhaps the other on the bench, would be enough to turn games against Hull, Norwich and most of the other poor Championship teams.
    However it seems to be the one tweak TP doesn’t want to explore.

  95. Boroexile, I’m not too far behind you in the number of years I’ve supported Boro and in that time I’ve watched Jackie Charlton’s team in its pomp, I’ve seen Robbo’s team of Juninho & Ravanelli etc and both those teams failed to ‘entertain’ on more occasions than I can count. What we humans do though is remember the good times and forget about the bad. Whenever I go to a Boro match I hope to be entertained but I never expect it. My last game at the Riverside was the Bolton game, we won easily, so I was happy, but it wasn’t entertaining. For entertainment the only teams in town are City & Liverpool and they don’t do it every week.
    I watched Borehamwood v Barrow a couple of weeks ago, it was a great day, I really enjoyed it but there was precious little entertainment on offer.

  96. It is a valid point about entertainment and whist I’m not expecting most games to be end-to-end, I do watch football for more than the joy of three points. It may have been different when I was younger but now my spare time to indulge in watching football is a lot less and it certainly feels like a couple of hours wasted sometimes and just getting the result is a less important outcome.

    Though my main gripe is with managers who are well resourced and in theory have players who are capable of playing a more skillful game but choose instead to play the percentage game and concentrate on stopping the opposition. It’s almost against the spirit of the game as it was intended as a spectator sport – though those days are long gone. Winning football and entertaining football are not mutually exclusive – in fact they should go hand in hand but we’re now in the era of game management and shutting up shop once the second goal has been delivered.

    It’s a bit like Mourinho’s methods versus Klopp and Pep’s – they all have similar resources and buy £50m plus players but the Special One believes that winning in style is less important than not risking losing. The irony is that playing with fear (of losing) prevents players from rising to the occasion out of risk of displeasing their manager. It was interesting to hear Klopp talking about Salah and saying he wouldn’t dream of telling him what he should decide on the pitch as he was the best judge of when to pass or shoot himself – strangely, I don’t imagine those are the sentiments of the micro-managers like Mourinho or a few others like him.

  97. Talking about resources, well done Europe for wining the Ryder Cup. The US were beaten by flair over brute force. I dont play golf but it is pertinent that the team who won were those who played the course rather than trying to over power it.

    Is this pertinent to Boro? Yes it is, the famous coach, Butch Harmon, says that the problem is if you dont keep the ball in play you lose.

    Same goes for football, you have to get the ball in the right places. Dont play by numbers, launching the ball doesn’t work.

    A great dat, a win for Hamilton and a thrashing for the ‘best ever team’ in the Ryder Cup.

    1. Ian, one thing about the Ryder Cup is that which ever team wins it’s always entertaining, which surely should be one of the reasons for watching all sports, visiting the theatre, or going to a pop concert. I imagine one is rarely entertained watching the Boro under TP’s management. I must say that nowadays I do enjoy Super League and T20 Cricket more.

  98. Nigel, talking of entairtainment…..watched the first 45 minutes of Cardiff v Burnley following on from the golf.

    The former was like the first half of yesterday…terrible, did not bother with the second half. The latter highly entertaining.

  99. Guy Mowbray on ‘Match of the Day’ suggested that Harry Kane is the most prolific goalscorer from the penalty spot. That may be so but I venture to suggest that he’s got a long way to go to match Matt Le Tissier who converted 48 of his 49 penalties. That got me thinking if any team has got a better record of winning matches in penalty shootouts than the Boro in recent seasons.

    For the record Boro have only lost one Cup match in 9 after penalty shootouts in recent years:-
    1999 3-1 v Arsenal 4th Round League Cup
    2003 5-4 v Everton 4th Round League Cup
    2003 5-4 v Spurs 5th Round League Cup
    2007 5-4 v Bristol City 4th Round FA Cup
    2007 5-4 v West Brom 5th Round FA Cup
    2014 13-14 v Liverpool 3rd Round League Cup
    2015 3-1 v Man. Utd 3rd Round League Cup
    2018 4-3 v Notts County 1st Round League Cup
    2018 4-3 v Preston 3rd Round League Cup

    My records don’t show penalty misses either in Cup or League matches, but it’s quite an impressive record almost akin to that of the German national team.

  100. For me it’s quite simple. I watch football in general for entertainment, the stars, the ‘beautiful game’ and I watch Boro for the win and try to take whatever positives I can. Of course, it’s even sweeter when the win comes from a really good performance but I’ve supported them for so long – first went in the late 1950s! – and through some pretty bad times and so every success is cherished. I’m like Jaakko, taking pleasure where I can. I get real pleasure from reading about the great spirit, the Academy, the facilities and I look at the good points from most games. We have a top class defence but the defensive system demands a huge amount of work from the midfield and that is making it hard to have the attacking potential that we also want to see. That’s why TP wants pace to make that transition from defence to attack. There’s no easy solution. You can’t have the red defensive wall and a swarm of attacking players.

    Having said all that, the first half against Hull was awful. Nothing creative against a very nervous side. Clearly that mix of players isn’t quite right. The penalty was soft but seemed like the referee trying to even things up because he hadn’t given an appeal for a penalty fifteen seconds earlier. In fact, neither deserved a penalty but the Hull player made it look as if Ayala chopped into him. Lots of modern players seem to learn how to fall over before they learn much else.

    Our big fault was not scoring from the five or six really good situations that we created. Assombalonga twice seemed to shoot too early. Howson was unlucky with the header, Flint came near and I admit to being pleased to see them now taking throw-ins that land further away from the goalkeeper. Maybe they read Diasboro!

    TP has had the problem of new players who need to be tried out in the team. Now is the time to mix and match again. He has to choose between McNair and Leadbitter for Clayton’s position and I’d like to see McNair get a shot but he’ll probably go with Grant. He must give Wing and Tav a place in the squad. Randolph, Shotton, Ayala and Flint are locked in and the rest is up for grabs. Maybe Batth in a back three and I guess that Assombalonga will play.

    We’re playing a team who haven’t won all season which is enough to give any long-time supporter the jitters. Fingers crossed and


  101. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I will miss the Ipswich game due to work commitments thoughtlessly interfering with more important things and will be overseas in the Emerald Isle trying to earn some money. I’m guessing thats also the reason I didn’t appear in the “Mighty Redcar” BBC Production as it appears I must be the only person in Redcar with a job so I probably should be grateful.

    On the Entertainment debate I did actually enjoy the TV programme but despite getting the meaningful message I still found it very vexing and irksome. Perhaps calling it the “Mighty Teesside” would have negated my objections. My point is that Entertainment is different things to different people at different times quite often based on particular, personal or even peculiar circumstances.

    On Football of course I enjoy entertainment but I can also appreciate the genius behind a meticulous and cold calculating dissemination of an opponent as oppose to an all out Gung-Ho assault. The Swansea game for me was interesting because there were two very distinct styles on display and they both won in a way or in actual fact drew a blank by cancelling one another out and thereby avoiding defeat. I found it intriguing I suppose rather than entertaining but still appreciated the game.

    Against Hull we were playing an entire club let alone a side in turmoil. Quick off the blocks with a flurry of punches (sorry wrong sport but you get my drift) and they would have been reeling. Instead we had eight strewn across the back and Friend nearly fluffing his lines inside three minutes which fortunately Bowen (very underrated player IMHO) headed over. That was an immediate indication that George wasn’t comfortable and a forerunner of what was to unfold all game. Very poor theoretical tactics and appalling execution when it was totally unnecessary and uncalled for when there were two more than capable CB’s on the bench.

    Five points currently separates us from fifteenth in the table. Our last four games puts us at 13th in the Form Table, Hull away and Ipswich away are games that a side with serious promotion credentials should be attacking with voracity, hear the mighty Lion ROOOOARRRRR!!!!!! not miaooowwww like a pussy cat!

    As the games progress I can see psychological damage being done to this squads mentality if this mind set continues, beliefs, doubts and frailties will all start to surface. For heaven’s sake Hull and Ipswich are not Barca they are garbage pure and simple, go and do a demolition job on them not a defensive job. Save the eight defenders for Liverpool in the Cup Semi Final to avoid a humiliating defeat, we will all understand and get that and like as not appreciate and support it.

    As had to be pointed out once to Andre Previn, TP similarly has all the right players, just not necessarily being played in the right order.

    1. Good post RR. You do not have to be an experienced Manager to understand some aspects of the game and see certain teams selections not working.

    2. Agree with you Redcar Red, but are our under 23’s and under 18’s playing a different system or even a different game? Apparently the under18’s have just beaten Swansea 6-0 away from home which beggars TP’s tactics.

  102. looking ahead to the forest game and the expected game plan, or lack of attacking intent of the two managers I remembered the episode of Porridge when the genial Harry Grout ordered Godper to “throw” the boxing match. Little did Grouty know that Godper’s opponent was ordered to do the same. Round 1, they squared up to each other and both landed a simultaneous soft punch, both ended on the deck and the only winner was Fletcher who bet on a draw.

  103. Does anybody know the whereabouts of Ben Gibson, hasn’t been seen in the Burnley squad for a while now. I know he got sent off so would have been suspended but that was weeks ago. Is he injured or on Dyche’s naughty step?
    We could do with him at the moment as we only had two centre backs on the bench at Hull.

  104. Werdermouth
    After the Ryder Cup I’m just catching up with the football and what a topsy-turvey set of results I find in Germany. Bremen, having beaten Hertha Berlin midweek, then lose to winless Stuttgart on Saturday, whilst Hertha Berlin then beat Bayern Munich on Friday night who had only drawn at home to our friends from Augsburg last Tuesday. Can it be that the Bundesliga is following the traits of our Championship when any team can beat another except for Borussia Dortmund who still have a 100% record?

  105. I read this comment from Tony Pulis……

    Tony Pulis has revealed that his decision to pair Britt Assombalonga and Jordan Hugill as a front two was something of an experiment. The Middlesbrough manager opted to field the pair together for the first time during the 1-1 with Hull City and admitted that the decision was made in order to see whether they could play together. Pulis hoped it could prove an end to Boro’s woes in front of goal, but he was once again left frustrated as his side spurred several chances.

    That’s a joke. He can arrange training matches for that.

    If he was a horse trainer and pulled that stroke on a course in a race he’d be fined.

    1. Its incredible that TP even admitted that. We have our Long throws and Wing Backs getting down the flanks putting in crosses which has yielded just enough so far to win more than we lose thanks in main to the tight defensive unit

      What is lacking is a creative threat of the type we witnessed for Fletcher’s goal at Preston and shrewdly opportunistic Tavernier’s goal. The Long throw set pieces are not being very well executed at the moment. Corners are abysmal (floating straight into keeper’s preferred height and angle, shots from midfielder’s (and Friend) usually end up circling the Space Station. Saville in fairness seems to be able to reasonably understand that the angle of impact and the trajectory and velocity of the spheroid at their feet along with the inflated pressure of said spheroid are all related and interdependent the rest of the midfielders seem bereft of that knowledge and are at Junior Schoolboy level.

      The problem isn’t a lone striker or a pairing its in the build up that gets the ball to them when the long throws don’t come off. Its the complete lack of intellect at Corners and Free Kicks. Its the complete lack of quick, swift movement that carves teams open (the sort of through ball that Britt has thrived on his entire career). Its exactly what we witnessed against Preston, sharp passing and slick finishing with Fletcher’s goal and the ability to shoot from outside the box knowing that the football is your friend not a lump of dog turd that you are desperately anxious to get rid off.

      Taking an extreme example looking at Man City’s opener against Brighton at the weekend is literally decades ahead of where we are tactically. I know there is around £1Billion difference in the two sides but movement is 80% intellect, intuitive understanding, reading, practice and only 20% skill or execution. You don’t need to sacrifice a tight rearguard to play like that, players move into spaces, creating openings and invitations for passes that stretch defenders and the speed and crispness does the rest, you don’t even need Adama Traore levels of speed.

      We have too many slow pedestrian mono paced midfielders who look to retain possession when they should be attacking and looking forwards. Besic dithers, Downing looks to play a 35 yard crossfield ball or a tight one two with Friend but always going out wide. Just once cut in, play it through the middle and then use the overlapping full backs to stretch the defence but it has to be quick and at full pelt and therein lies the problem. As soon as it gets to a midfielder the pace is killed and heaven forbid if they do eventually get a sight of goal because they couldn’t hit a Cows backside with a banjo.

      Wing isn’t World class or perhaps even Championship class but his assists as I pointed out on here a week or so ago are the highest of any Boro player this season. Tavernier is raw but he has drive, directness, energy and enthusiasm. Give Britt and/or Hugill (or Fletcher) that ammunition and then see what happens. Since Wing in particular has dropped off the radar so have the points which is now becoming so glaringly obvious it must be a source of huge discomfort to the blinkered.

      The whole Besic, Downing, Howson. McNair, Saville, Braithwaite is congested and thats before Wing, Tav and even Chapman are considered. Our Midfield is reminiscent of last season and Garry Monk’s problems in miniature with it being an embarrassment of riches in one area rather than all over the pitch and not knowing who, where and how to play. Downing done OK when he came on so leave him on the bench to make an impact at 34. Play Tav instead of McQueen who isn’t a Winger, with three CB’s, Clayts and George behind him we shouldn’t be too exposed or over run if one of his passages of play goes wrong.

      It wasn’t the old guard that dug us out of that Millwall opening 70 minute shambles it was “the Boys”. The old seasoned Pro’s, “the Men” looked hopelessly disjointed until the Cavalry arrived in the form of Youth and got at them.

      1. Excellent analysis of what many of us on here have identified as our problems for a number of seasons. If RR and others can see it and come up with solutions then why cannot the highly paid management/coaching team?

        Our goals scored and shorts on target ratio are more akin to a team seeking to avoid relegation than one supposedly looking to gain automatic promotion!

        Is TP relucant to play the youngsters because of all the noise he made about failing to land targets? He seems to be wedded to those he has recruited rather than face up to the fact that they are not delivering.

        I am assuming that the Besic deal is a season loan only and without the requirement to purchase at the end. If so, then unless there is a significant improvement in his performance then we may have dodged a bullet by the breakdown of the initial move.

        TP may be glad of the upcoming international break if there is not a significant improvment in performance/results in the next two games and we fail to garner a minimum of 4 points, but ideally 6.

      2. Once more to the point and as I said previously, you do not need to be an experienced Manager to see a problem.

        Mr Pulis is stubborn and unfortuanately like Maggie before, is not for turning. I think he would cut off his own nose to spite his face.

        There ase plenty of young players in the Championship that have not done the rounds of loans that are playing well. A convenient excuse that they are only boys. Tell that to those in the forces as I am sure Exmil will agree with.

        It is the same with the goals per chances. The Leeds was complaining that the had been scoring one in every three. The last game they had 25 he said and only scored 1.

        At our level you have to create more opportunities to score a goal. FACT
        We do NOT create enough. FACT

      3. RR
        As you know, most on this blog agree with everything you say, but I was amazed that you nominated all sorts of players who should be on the pitch ( very good) then left out Wing.
        In my opinion wing is yet another fortunate find from non league, in my opinion should be the first on the team sheet, and I would play Tav, in spite of his youth. Wing plays differently, and that’s the reason that he is so effective, he gets his through balls away very quickly, even when he is unbalanced, always finds his man, and is very good around the opposition box, invariably finding a man in a shooting position.
        At the moment it is a stand off between TP and the fans, he is grimly determined to play all the time expired old timers that he has lumbered us with, refusing point blank to put Wing or Tav on the bench, or play them anywhere or at anytime. Tales of doses of flue (whilst being man of the match, with bells on!) cut no ice with me.
        To leave him out completely this week was foolish, he would have made the difference.
        We are now, officially part of the crowd behind the leaders, but we are away, so even that position is precarious, there are positions vacant down to fifteenth

      4. Hi Plato

        It wasn’t so much a case of leaving Wing out it was more pointing to the futility on the Left of dropping Downing for McQueen then shuffling Friend into CB. I fully agree with you that Wing should be a starter (or at least on the bench) but I fear that TP is slowly reversing himself into a cul de sac in the hope that the new signings suddenly gel and come good.

        If he starts Wing and Tav or has them on the bench that means dropping several million pounds worth of new players that have been brought in to “improve” the side. In his interview it was interesting to hear TP state about missing chances and how poor our set pieces are. He clearly sees it but how he calls it is up to him. Up until now he has put his faith in the ones who are failing to deliver and dragging the side down the table.

    2. See your point, GHW. But it could also be so that he has tried them together on the training ground and now was the time to test them in real life. I am sure the management team has thought about this for a long while. So why not test them together – especially so as Hugill missed all of the preseason and the friendly matches.

      In the ideal world, we should have had all the new players in for the start of the pre-season. But that seems impossible and So we need to be patient to get the team really gelling in. As we have seen recently.

      Up the Boro!

    3. Sue Smith, who became only the third female trainer to win the Grand National when Auroras Encore took the world’s most famous race at Aintree in April, was fined £3,000 by the stewards at Southwell on Monday for the running and riding of Emral Silk, a five-year-old making his first start over hurdles. Jonathan England, Emral Silk’s jockey, was suspended for 18 days, while Emral Silk was banned from running for 40 days.

      Emral Silk was a 12-1 chance in a field of eight for a two-mile novice hurdle and was held up a few lengths off the pace for the first half of the contest. He lost ground rapidly on the leading group of six horses as the race began in earnest, however, with England offering little encouragement from the saddle to keep Emral Silk involved. The gelding showed signs of inexperience, too, as he dropped away before finishing seventh, 42 lengths behind the winner, John Reel.

      Insert your own jokes here….

  106. Heads up for the Aussies, BeIn2 is showing Ipswich v Boro live on Wednesday morning. That probably means that it is available anywhere that BeIn operates and it may also turn up on other networks.


  107. I haven’t got a problem with Pulis trying something new up front. As Jarkko says, I’m sure he tried it in training and was looking to see if it translated to a real match. It’s not a forward line I would choose myself as it’s lacking in guile – to me the key ingredient to unlocking packed defences.

    I fully agree with RR that real problem is the macke-up in mifdield. We need someone who can pass forwards and provide through balls. Besic may that man in time if he can up his tempo but at the moment it’s clearly Wing. I think most of us agree with that but we don’t know why he hasn’t been playing.

    Tav would offer some much needed movement and zest and I’d also be tempted to give him go in the Braithwaite role.

    It feels like the late recuitment has sent us backwards at the moment.

    1. With the two banks of 5-4 that most teams defend with these days it’s difficult to thread balls through. What we need is a midfielder capable of beating a man by running through with the ball.

      1. True, although you can stretch teams with a bit more width and quick interplay can creat openings. We don’t have the players to go past people, so that leaves us with tempo, quick passing and clever movement. Can we do that? Maybe, but not with the midfielders who’ve been playing lately.

  108. That’s what Besic is supposed to do for us but he tailed off toward the end of last season and hasn’t improved since he came back.

    TP is now suggesting in the EG that he was not up to speed when he joined us and came back shattered from International duty.

    I don’t buy all of that because he was fully involved with Everton pre-season when the new manager was considering whether to keep him or let him go and he went away with Everton to their pre-season training camp. He played two international matches but should not be shattered by that or from the amount of time he has played with us.

    Even if TP is correct in what he says, I still remain to be convinced that he offers us anything different in midfield than what we already have and there stems the problem.

    1. If Besic is shattered then he has been “shattered” since before the Play Offs as he underwhelmed in both ties.

      More to the point if he is genuinely unfit and shattered then it doesn’t say much for Everton’s pre season regime and considering that they are a Premiership outfit then my hunch is that they will be headed for relegation unless of course poor Mo was the only one shattered?

      Bottom line is this, if unfit then train with the under 23’s and don’t annoy me until you are fully fit and ready for selection its not as if TP doesn’t have other options available to him. Maybe he could get another CB on the bench?

  109. So yet another game that I’ve paid my yearly subscription for I’m unable to view as it is being screened live on Sky. Well that’s *#@$&:%] marvelous! Not content with giving us a poor service the number of matches we can watch is deminishing as I understand it all midweek games are available via Sky and no doubt there’ll be more games televised at the behest of Sky. Not a happy chappy😡

    Anyway didn’t get to see Saturday’s game (no surprise there) so had the Tees commentary on, but if the comments by Mark and Maddo were anything to go by it was one to miss.

    Now before a ball was kicked and we were offered the position that we find ourselves in after 10 games I think most of us would have said, Yes please!

    I’m not saying everything is all rosey because it certainly isn’t. Far from it. My main concern is how our excellent form from the first 5 games has absolutely nose dived in the last 5. League games only I mean.

    The lack of creativity and pace has been well documented along with the possible ways to improve those failings but for me, and it’s only a feeling with no evidence other than what I’m seeing (occaisionally) and hearing during the last 5 games there seems to be some sort of issue at the club where the players don’t seem to be buying into what TP is telling them.

    I really hope I’m seeing something that isn’t there and my feeling is way off the mark, it’s just we all know what disharmony in the dressing room can do as we witnessed it a couple of seasons ago under AK.

    To say we need a positive reaction at the Tractor Boys would be an understatement so I’m going to leave my usual rubbish attempt at a prediction well alone.

    1. FAA

      If our recent form continues then you will be able to watch all Boro games as Sky will drop us from the schedules!

      Just to clarify, if the mid week match is NOT the main Sky match (Ipswich game is
      main match) then you will still be able to watch via Riverside Live despite the game being available via the Sky red button.

      I have Sky so the conundrum I have is do I watch those games which are available via the red button via Sky – only one camera and no replays or do I watch via Riverside Live with all the whistles and bells but with a stream that keeps dropping out and having to re-boot umptee times – no brainer until MFC get themselves sorted!

  110. Poor Besic,
    TP should tuck him up in bed with a soft pillow and hot water bottle.
    Working double shifts in British Steel made me tired.
    Playing football (for free) made me feel fantastic.

  111. After a week of work I have to lay pavers at my daughter’s house and put up a fence round my son’s house while finding time to fix the sprinklers and mow the lawn at home. Then hopefully stay awake to watch the Boro
    Thanks TP, you have inspired me to front up my wife and tell her ” I am shattered”

  112. My sister’s son is nearly as keen Everton supporter as I am Boro and keeps teksting me that we got one of their best players in Besic when he was fit. He follows the Toffee’s forums regularly as he is home with his kids so that his wife can work.

    So according to the Everton forums we got a good deal and an exciting player. So I am happy to have him at Boro. I agree with RR that Besic was not as good vs Villa as before the seksi, but still his halv a season with us was a glowing success.

    Let’s give the lad a while to find his mojo back and his place in our team. Up the Boro!

  113. Just going back to the recent lack of intensity in the team, there is a great quote from Pellegrini in the newspaper today. He says that he told his players that they needed to “play as a big team, thinking of winning with an ambitious mentality” and it seems to be working for the Hammers in recent games. Playing as a big team thinking of winning is something that the Boro need to do and not set out against teams like Hull with a defensive negative attitude.

    1. Couldn’t agree more Boroexile, a state of mind is a powerful thing. A positive one can achieve greatness, a fearful one hinders and sows doubts. A negative one means you end up believing “Typical Boro”.

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