After another dose of reality Pulis searches for creativity

Championship 2018-19: Week 10

Tue 2 Oct – 19:45: Ipswich v Boro
Sat 6 Oct – 15:00: Boro v Forest

Werdermouth looks ahead to the week before another international break…

They say in space no-one can hear you scream, but for those football followers inhabiting the rarefied atmosphere on Teesside, there was still a distinct audible sound of pain emanating from Planet Boro on Saturday following another opportunity missed. Indeed, before the misguided sentence ‘Boro have a chance to go top’ is even completed, the follicles of many are preparing to part company with their keratin proteins in anticipation of hair being once more torn out in frustration. Though it was always tempting fate when launching a superfluous third kit in Real Madrid white that Boro’s Galacticos would put in a performance that never got off the ground – let alone one deemed even remotely out of this world. Still, the sound of the Teesside travelling army singing “we’re the finest team in football, the world has ever seen” may have been evidence that some were perhaps living in a parallel universe.

By far the happiest people on Teesside will possibly have been those who had paid to watch the beam-back from the KCOM stadium at the Riverside and were subsequently refunded after the event was predictably cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Although I suspect many of the Boro faithful who had made the trip to Hull may have wished that they could have also been beamed back to Teesside during the half-time interval after the players from both sides had shown little in the way of enterprise. Unexpectedly caught in a Strachanesque time-warp, many spaced-out supporters probably struggled to cling on to consciousness after sympathetically giving each other a Vulcan death grip in an attempt to dull the experience – before gasping “It was football Jim but not as we know it” as they were admitted to sickbay at James T Cook hospital.

It doesn’t take a dilithium crystal ball to see a warped future where a team without creative players fails to create chances. All the vital signs of a team struggling with the alien concept of passing the ball accurately forward were there to see and many have called for the next generation of academy graduates to be given their chance instead. As the conditioning team try to pick the bones out of latest matchday biometric data from the Boro camp, some are anticipating that it’s unlikely to show any signs of life. Whilst the recent performances may have left quite a few stunned, the Boro manager appears unfazed by calls to seek out new life in his squad and boldly go where no Tony Pulis team has gone before. Nevertheless, seeking out the strange new world of attacking football still seems light years away as he’s seemingly a man on a mission of discovering what to try next.

While still averaging 1.9 points per game, Boro remain statistically close to achieving that stellar goal of automatic promotion and if most nervous Boro followers had been offered third spot after ten games, they probably would have bitten your hand off once they’d finished with their fingernails. Though that statistic may be hiding the continued downward trend of points being returned, which once peaked at an average 2.6 per game after the first five matches in comparison to just 1.2 from the last five. Indeed, if Boro lose at Ipswich they will drop below our opponents on Tuesday in the six-game form table – the Tractor Boys are chugging along in 21st and Boro are currently 9th but would likely fall to around 18th following defeat with just 6 points from 6 games.

Of course victory at Portman Road could see Boro climb to top spot and we can once again contemplate an international break staring at the table while we recalibrate our glasses from half-empty to half-full, if not overflowing. Despite losing only one of their last five games, Ipswich remain in the bottom three after failing to register a single victory this season under new manager Paul Hurst. The 44-year old joined the Suffolk club from League Two side Shrewsbury after taking them to both the play-off and EFL Trophy finals last season – though unfortunately they lost both.

Hurst was apparently happy to become Ipswich manager under financial constraints and was said to be comfortable with the £3m transfer budget he was given, which should indicate the potential gulf between the two sides. Although Ipswich have lost four games this season, they have drawn all five of their home games and were unlucky not to win at Birmingham at the weekend after leading 2-0 at half-time. It could be another tight game as Hurst’s side have only conceded three goals in their last four home outings and Boro may find their chances on goal are limited – even by recent standards.

Tony Pulis has not yet settled on a way to play effectively having failed to sign the genuine wide players he coveted in the summer and Boro are struggling to find solutions on how to add creativity to their game. Although Pulis is regarded as old school, he has embraced modern methods and the use of technology for monitoring his players fitness and performance. Perhaps the Boro manager could seek to emulate those in Silicon Valley who design and conceive the ideas and products on which much of our modern sport and lifestyles now depend on. Thinking outside the box, or indeed inside it, is not a trait normally associated with a Tony Pulis team and now may be the time to experiment with the latest trends in the high-tech industry that many use to improve creativity.

It’s now commonplace among the high-performing geeks of Silicon Valley to self-medicate by micro-dosing psychedelic drugs such as LSD and Magic Mushrooms. Many believe it improves their productivity and creativity, with some saying it makes them feel more excited about their work, while others claim it also lifts the fog of depression – though not to be confused with the smog of depression that rarely lifts for Boro followers, which is not so much a condition but a way of life. Whether the club will also contemplate micro-dosing the complimentary pre-match drink in order to get the crowd excited about watching another limited Tony Pulis display is another matter – though it’s probably highly unethical and risks those who may down two or three pints before kick-off hallucinating to the point where they may start seeing imaginary goals.

The practice is reportedly widespread among the Californian elites and it’s prompted Imperial College to undertake a blind trial this month with those workers currently self-medicating. Though just to be clear, a blind trial is not how the Boro recruitment team identify players but involves giving some participants a placebo instead so they don’t know if it’s the real thing or not – which I should repeat is not comparable to the recruitment team’s assessment of players. Incidentally, the Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann, who first synthesised LSD in 1936 was reported to have micro-dosed the drug into his old age – he actually only died in 2008 at the age of 102 and had claimed a few years earlier that his hallucinogenic days were well behind him, along with that purple dog that kept following him. He referred to LSD as his problem child and was said to have been disturbed by the cavalier use of the drug in the sixties counter-culture.

Nevertheless, putting credence in anecdotal claims of the rich and powerful elites of Silicon Valley, who some claim are exhibiting signs of being borderline psychopaths, is perhaps something that should be taken with a large micro-dose of salt. Not only are some experimenting with self-medication with psycho-active compounds but others, such as the multi-millionaire CEO of several internet start-up companies, Serge Faguet, has embarked on a regime that he labels bio-hacking. It involves technologically assisted monitoring of bodily functions that then automatically sends signals to his smartphone on when he needs to self-administered injections of hormones and a daily regime of popping over 60 capsules with a strict diet and exercise regimes. The aim of the 32-year old is to live for ever and even plans to ultimately merge into a robot to become an ultra human. He also has declared he won’t have children as they are bad ROI (return on investment) and shuns the complication of relationships in favour of keeping several women on special retainers for his physical needs, who he rewards for their time with expensive gifts and paid-for flats – while being quite adamant that they are “definitely not prostitutes”.

Of course, experiencing the sensation of living for ever is available to many on Teesside, as time can sometimes appear to pass so slowly when watching a Boro attack build that it’s often confused with eternity as onlookers wait for something of note to judge the passing of time – though it’s sometimes a fine balance between feeling immortal and also losing the will to live. The early doors of perception were that Tony Pulis was going to open our minds to a brave new world of Championship success. However, current performances may suggest that no-one gets out here alive and the Boro manager may have to get prepared to ride out the storm if his team fail to break on through into the Premier League.

It may just sound like the fantasy world of a disturbed individual seeking immortality but there are indeed very rich powerful people actively pursuing this dream. Self-styled Bond villain and reckless Tweeter, billionaire Elon Musk of Tesla fame and planned human colonisation of Mars, has argued that humans need to become cyborgs to survive the inevitable robot uprising. Those who don’t like the way their bolshie Flymo sometimes approaches them, may be interested to know that Musk is starting work on developing an era of transhumanism with his new brain-computer interface company, Neuralink. Plus former CEO of Google Ventures, Bill Maris, has formed Calico (short for California Life Company), with the single aim to “solve death” and I’m sure he’ll give everything to succeed or at the very least die trying. Also former Facebook president, Sean Parker, declared that because he’s a billionaire he would have the resources to live to 160 and imagined “I’m going to be part of this class of immortal overlords.” Though the most important question is which one of these potential billionaire megalomaniac cyborgs will take over from Steve Gibson as Boro owner if he decides to shun immortality himself.

The acid test for Tony Pulis is whether his team can gain promotion and it has looked in recent games that some of the players appear on a different wavelength as they failed to either turn up or tune in before dropping out of the automatic promotion places. Although it may be too soon to advocate swapping the team coach for a magic bus and resorting to psychedelic micro-dosing in an attempt to find that missing creativity.

Perhaps those Boro followers who decide on making the trip to Ipswich will contemplate the starting line-up as they picture themselves on a train in a station, with plasticine supporters with working class ties, suddenly someone is there at the turnstyle, a girl with kaleidoscope eyes – who then scans their ticket as they are ushered into the away end. A chorus of “Lewis in the side with diamonds”, such as the still rough cut Tavernier, is no doubt what they will be hoping to hear – although Sgt. Pulis may not be quite ready to give his lonely band of strikers some much needed company from midfield and they may have to get by with just a little help from George Friend and Ryan Shotton’s long throws.

Talking of an altered state of mind, the smouldering Aitor Karanka returns to the Riverside on Saturday with his team of still possibly merry men at Forest. The Tricky Trees have made steady if unspectacular progress this season as they sit comfortable in mid table after drawing six and losing just the one game at sixth-place Brentford. Karanka’s side have surprisingly only failed to score in one game this season and that unsurprisingly was against Swansea in a goalless draw. Former Bournemouth striker and last season Villa loanee, Lewis Grabban, has also started finding the net for his new club with four goals in his last three games.

Still, the former Boro manager must be looking rather enviously towards Tony Pulis with just four goals conceded this term – Bilbao Baggins, down in the Nottingham shire, will still surely covet his precious clean sheets. Few will be expecting a goal-fest when these sides meet but hopefully some Boro players will still be highly motivated to put one over on their old gaffer. Anyway, after the spectre of typical Boro revealed itself in all its lack of glory at Hull last Saturday, let’s hope this week sees a return to intensity on the pitch and some signs that creativity can be delivered in more than just microscopic doses.

497 thoughts on “After another dose of reality Pulis searches for creativity

  1. Another interstellar read Werdermouth, keeping the heads of those of us who Klingon to the hope of automatic promotion out of the clouds and away from the therapy table. It’s very much a case of day after day alone on a hill, the fan with the foolish grin is clearly taking that pill to hallucinate he is being entertained.

    Let’s hope TP is listening as all we are saying is give Wing a chance. If he is listening I have a vision of us running out worthy winners by two clear goals. If he’s not paying any attention to us I fear the worst for us at Ipswich, more Wurzels than Beatles where they have a brand new combine harvester and we give them the keys.
    I’m not optimistic, so 2-1 to Ipswich.

  2. Werder that’s another bryma!
    ”Of course, experiencing the sensation of living forever is available to many on Teesside, as time can sometimes appear to pass so slowly when watching a Boro match” plus the mop heads reference is just brilliant. The best start to a weeks reading for me

  3. Werdermouth

    That was simply brilliant. I’m not sure what stream of consciousness you tapped into but it flowed like honey. Glad to hear that my old alma mater Imperial is still into mind-altering experiments. Back in the 70s the organic chemistry boys had a nice sideline in every fancy compound you could think of. Either that or supplying the pure alcohol for punches.

    Anyway, lets hope that Boro come up with as much creativity.


  4. Weder – I have no idea where you get your inspiration from but that was one of your best. Loved the links and play on words, even down to the acid test……..

    Meanwhile in a galaxy far far away, we will get a flavour of what TP has been on when the team is announced. Hopefully, he will have been on the medication and will select players who can play at warp speed and not float around in zero gravity.

  5. Whatever, it’s staring him in the face. No, let’s send them all out on loan to get yet more experience before we blood them in the Championship. They’ll be really good next season, or the one after.

    Or speak to Alan Ginsberg. That’ll be by the ouija board for the team selection.


  6. So Clayton is banned for the Ipswich match. Is it a start for McNair, perhaps?

    Howson was good at Hull. Saville is enegtic and good going forward. We are all crying out for Lewis Wing? So who leave out in midfield?

    I don’t think Pulis has a headache. He has migraine there.

    Up the Boro!

  7. I think we can do better than a Karanka result. Or as we say nowadays, OFB.

    I will go for a 0-3 to Boro. We deserve a bit of luck as we have had chances to score in every game So far.

    Up the Boro!

  8. Werder, the quote “while we recalibrate our glasses from half-empty to half-full” was excellent, typical Boro. And the cover picture is impressive, out of this World. Well done, lad. UTB!

        1. We’ll dont look at me I got the last two rounds in!


          🔴 Congratulations OFB on bagging the 30,000th comment, the drinks are on you 🙂 – Werdermouth

  9. Typical Boros inevitablity drive turns back time but in this case gives Ipswich their first win of the season.

    The table is sorting itself out now and we are consolidating our play off place.

    Thats not good enough fro me but it is what it is, – time to let the Boro cat out of the box.

    Definitely half empty for me.

    1. Alan
      Please keep on the same page as most Boro fans.
      The general opinion is, that this team is one of, oh, six, perhaps more, who are one result from 10-11 th In the league. They are not battling for the top six, that has gone, together with the general standing about since we fielded game changers a long time ago.
      the problem with digging yourself a hole is that it is so difficult getting out of it.
      If he plays Wing and Tavernier and we win and play well, the loss of face will be so painful he may never recover. If he puts them on the bench, he will be abused until he brings them on ( not good)
      The continued form of his best mate Traore is twisting the knife on a weekly basis.
      If only we had a player as good as him.

  10. Some brilliant lines and past thinking in there Werder. I did not think you were old enoug to remember the 70’s.

    As for tonight the fare served will be nothing like the quality of your prose.
    Winless Ipswich to end run against Mr Pulis’ team lost in space.

  11. Right, prediction baseball cap on and optimism doesn’t reign supreme.

    Boro will look organised running out of the tunnel but once they cross the touchline anything could happen in the next 90 minutes. But it won’t. I’d like to think Boro would Klingon for an eyes in the sky result so unless Mr Pulis has a road to Damascus experience in team selection.

    Ipswich 2 – 1 Boro



  12. So, it’s prediction time now………. I have been consulting with various mediums although Madame Malbec tends to be the most reliable!

    There will be no time travel today, although I am sure the dedicated supporters going to the game will probably wish they could be beamed up home after the game! Hats off to them, whilst the rest of us watch from the comfort of our sofas( or in echos of Dr Who when I was a kid, from behind the sofa)

    I don’t think that TP will have taken his space pills, so I am not expecting lift off to infinity and beyond so the team will be a hologram with all the speed of a 1980’s Commador computer and certainly not a rocket.

    The only change to the staring line up will be McNAir for Clayton, we will have 5 across the back to defend a “very dangerous Ipswich side” and plod about in midfield with 60% possession but no shots on goal.

    So a OFB 0-0 for me with TP saying that we played well and were unlucky.

    Apologies for the pessimism but I am hoping that by predicting doom and gloom and can use the reverse prediction method to try and break the force fields and go Back to the Future!


    1. On a general footballing matter what person or computer deems Ipswich versus Boro acceptable or commercially viable on a Tuesday evening? Talk about no consideration for the fans.

  13. Werder

    Top notch.

    As Spock would say ‘it’s football Jim, but not as we know it’

    Sadly Spock was wrong because under successive managers another song springs to mind ‘Sideways is golden, but my eyes still…’

    A big test tonight. We have been told that the squad will be used, the last two Saturdays saw a similar squad. Will this midweek squad show changes and be freshened up or are some squad members more equal than others?

    Will it be a case of rearranged

  14. Visiting Ipswich currently so off to the match tonight with not much enthusiasm reading the latest reports from both Teesside and here in East Anglia. Reading the local press they have players who are struggling to come to terms with the Championship having played in the lower leagues. They struggle to score and keep clean sheets. So probably an OFB.

  15. Britt Assombalonga is a doubt for tonight’s match, warned Pulis: ““Britt got a kick early on in the game and played on with it and he couldn’t train on Sunday so we’ll wait and see. Clayts is suspended so that gives us an opportunity to bring in another midfield player in or whatever we decide to do.”

    I hope Pulis was cheating us here and we go attacking to Ipswich:


    If Assombalonga injured, then I’d play Hugill.

    I hope Brill will play and score a hat trick in a 0-3 win. What are the chances of that- I am not a betting man.

    Up the Boro!

    1. I’d be happy with that Jarkko along with Tav and Downing on the bench, with more midfielders and centre backs of course! You can never have too much of a good thing.

      Is it just me but if Britt’s “struggling” I’m reading that as code for a Rudy awakening?

  16. Not sure I like the “whatever we decide to do” comment unless. Mr Pulis is keeping his cards close to his baseball hat so as to in nerve the opposition. In reality he will do nothing apart from play McNair.

    Think it will be defensive minded though and catch them on the break, I.e. a long hoofed up ball hoping that their keeper fluffs it into the net!

  17. Werder

    Just a thought

    If Boro lose tonight do you think MFC might sprinkle some magic mushrooms into my soup on Saturday before the game ?

    It’s probably the only way to enjoy watching at the moment !

    Great Post as ever !

    Hope Wing is playing tonight from the start and Tav on the subs bench.

    It’s all right saying these kids need turning into men but both Tav and Wing have been out on loan. Wing has also come through the ranks at Shildon and having watched Shildon as an onlooker when my grandson was there as a junior for three years I can say it is run on a very professional basis.

    The Northern League takes no prisoners and Wing has learned how to look after himself

    Both these lads deserve a chance


  18. Stellar creative writing from our blogmeister you are certainly planets ahead from anything I could come up with – thanks as always.

    Sorry but I am fearing the worst this evening – typical Boro match in the making with Ipswich not yet having won then it could only happen to us.

    I think TP will again set up not to get beat, pack the midfield and one up front, Gestede in for Assombalonga if the latter is injured and Besic in for the suspended Clayton.

    Tractor Boys 1-0 Timid Lions

    Even more bad news in that this will all be shown in technicolor and without interruption from malfunctions on Sky! 😎🙁

  19. Brilliant Werder.

    Contrary to the side-effects of hallucinogenic drugs, what I most want to see from the team selection is balance.

    Play the same old mono-paced midfield and it’s anything from a one-goal victory to a two-goal defeat. Play with a bit of invention in midfield and it’s anything from a six-goal victory to a two-goal defeat. Play the percentages, Tony!

    1. Thanks Andy, football managers are notorious for playing tricks with the mind – though they’re more likely to claim not to see something or to imagine seeing something that wasn’t there.

      Team selection will be interesting this evening as I expect Ipswich will play it tight and that will be difficult for Boro if they have no pace or width in the team. I’d be inclined to play Braithwaite as the main striker, possibly supported by Saville in his false number ten role – I just don’t see either Hugill or Assombalonga scoring enough goals and Gestede is still probably just a bench option at the moment. I’d also probably opt for Downing offering width on the left if Tav is not picked (which is likely) and Shotton as usual on the right. Wing is the man if you want to thread a pass forward and then it will depend on if there is a back three or two. I’ll guess at 3-5-2 and that would mean probably Howson and Besic making up the three. The key will be intensity and delivery – without either Boro will struggle to make an impact.

      So my pre-match punt is:

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

      I’ll go 2-0 to Boro if we get an early goal, otherwise the longer the game goes without scoring then we’ll be heading to 0-0.

      1. Just to add, I’m in no way expecting that team selection as it’s unlikely Pulis will play without a target man – though if he was genuinely interested to see if Assombalonga and Hugill could play together then one game is nowhere near enough to create a partnership.

  20. Talking of “Boys” as Mr Pulis does. Can anybody name all the teams young Ryan Sessegnon of Fulham played for before getting into their first team squad?

    That “Boy” has done good.

  21. Lewis Wing is age 23 so I would hardly describe him as a boy and should and has held his own at Championship level.

    He may not have the same level of experience of some of his team mates but if TP doesn’t play him then he will never develope it at this level.

    He needs a run in the team and to be a regular as part of the squad which will enable everyone to decide if he is the real deal. On the little I have seen of him he is.

  22. the kids or boys will never get experience if they don’t have the opportunity to play. Wing has already shown what he can do and deserves a start. The old adage of if you are good enough, then you are old enough holds true. Rooney is another example of a player who no doubt TP wouldn’t have selected for his team!

    Then there is the view that says that the “boys” have more to play for and thus more determination and commitment. Would you rather have Downing who is, with all due respect, no doubt winding down and has nothing to aim for, or Wing or Tab who have their future ahead of them and will give their all to impress.

    I do hope that TP can see what he is potentially missing…….. or maybe not since he appears to be as stubborn as others have been.

    Still, it is what it is!

  23. Just brilliant, Werder. Very funny all the way through, but also true, and apposite. I did literally laugh at loud at many points: Boro fans hallucinating that they might be seeing imaginary goals, that blind trials were the way our recruiting team identified players, the purple dog gag, Bilbao Baggins and many many more.

    I have no doubt that reading you piece will be the most enjoyable, creative and rewarding experience that I will have all day, and I fear all week. And it reinforces those crucial links that exist between creativity, being willing to take risks, and giving pleasure, both to those who create, and those who receive it. It’s something that Mr Pulis and the Boro might well think about.

    As an avid reader of Ronnie Laing in the 60s I’m aware of some of the details of his subsequent history, but I’d love to hear some of GHW’s first-hand stories. During the international break perhaps?

    1. Many thanks Len, it gives me pleasure to hear that you and many others enjoy reading the articles – the generous comments are as always very much appreciated. I just try to enjoy myself working out how to tie together all the ideas and play with the words when writing them.

  24. If I was Steve Gibson, I would arrange to have lunch or dinner with Eddie Howe at Bournemouth and ask him how he did it, what is his philosophy regarding getting the best out of players and team commitment,
    Because he as done ,the so called impossible, and entertained their fans at the same time.
    This is why I’m becoming like a lot bored with excuses ,its the ref,OK sometimes, but the likes of we have no width,no speed, the kids are not ready, we must from finsh our chances, individual mistakes,we need the crowd,
    How about we’ve over spent on people who can’t deliver, play safety first most games, and you wonder if a yoyo club, is the about the ambition of all concerned.

  25. OFB

    The Ripley example is most apt. He was a great example of what speed and delivery can exponentially add to an otherwise hardworking and workmanlike team.

    in the meantime, ‘We’ve got Lewis Lewis Lewis Lewis Wing, on the wing, on the wing…’

    If only.

  26. Well no Wing in the starting line-up with Besic replacing Clayton, Downing in for McQueen and Braithwaite instead of Britt

    Also neither Wing or Tav on the bench but big Rudy is along with Batth, Fry, McNair, McQueen and Assombalonga

  27. Some interesting discussions on the rules from IFAB. SkySports highlighted the fact there was a record low of in play time in the Cardiff v Burnley match.

    Some ideas are that the game be split in to halves of 50 mins with the clock being stopped, players being substituted must leave the pitch by the shortest route, reinstatement of the six second rule for goalkeepers.

    Personally I am all in favour of the ball being in play.

    If players dont retreat at a free kick, stop the clock. If there is wrestling in the box, stop the clock when the ref goes to sort it out.

    I see Befodil scored for Hoffenheim. I saw his brother play but he only made an appearance in the spring…..

  28. Well some things are almost guaranteed in life and we have one here at MFC in the shape of Mr Pulis.

    Three defenders on the bench and a midfielder, one “forward” back from injury and the other “injured” plus the obligatory goalie. Beggars belief as to that team selection. I wonder what excuses he will come up with tonight?

  29. Another bang on piece Werder and like Len I was laughing out
    loud throughout. Brilliant.

    Stating the blindingly obvious we’ve been far too defensive of late, since the last international break imo. We all know we’re short of pace but that shouldn’t mean TP can’t set them up to go out and win the game rather than not lose it.

    Well looking at the team he’s picked it’s trying not to lose rather than go for the win imo. Depressing.

    Shotton Ayala Flint Friend
    Howson Besic Saville Downing
    Braithwaite Hugill

    Wing and Tavernier not on the bench again.

    I want Boro to win but I just can’t see it. Prove me wrong Boro I dare you!!

  30. Mr Pulis just said that we are playing a difficult side and need to be on our game. The comment about more goals frustrated me as that is surely down to team selection as well. Get the midfield supporting more and quick balls.

  31. It can only end in one way. When any manager sets his face against the obvious selections, and does not give any rational explanation why he keeps doing what he did, and getting what he got. Then the inevitable will happen, rest assured. It always has and it always will. When push comes to shove the fans reign supreme, while managers come, and they go, and go, and go.

  32. 5 defenders and 2 strikers on the bench.

    Where are the creative midfielders when we will need them- as we very probably will?

    Poor selection for me.

  33. Nicely well taken goal by Besic and already there is a much better intensity to Boro’s play that is more reminiscent of the pre-international break. And Downing makes it 2-0 – could be a good night 🙂

  34. Plato, who does TP have to explain his selections to ? You !

    K P in Spain, 2 nil up at half time and you are looking for reasons not to be pleased !

    As somebody once said “I don’t believe it “

    Come on BORO.

    1. Exmil
      I am not looking for a reason not to be pleased. I am pleased but believe I am making a valid point in stating that Ipswich are a very poor side.

  35. Not sure if Boro playing in their limited edition red away kit tonight has improved matters on the pitch but it was good to see the team on the front font against what looks like very limited opposition. It is probably down to the players finding a much better intensity and looking to move forward rather than ponder that has given them momentum in the game.

    Besic probably having one of his better games since his return, though Howson has looked below par with his passing. Downing has worked hard and deserved his goal even Hugill has probably put in his best 45 minutes in a Boro shirt and looks a little more fitter. The game is there to be taken and on this evidence the Tractor Boys have sown the seeds of their own downfall. Hopefully Pulis avoids game management and should sense this is a night where 4 or 5 nil is on the cards to give everyone a reboot.

    1. Werder

      The only thing about going for a five nil win is we have a hard game against forest on Saturday

      Plus we have had travel late last night which means just light training today so it made sense to conserve energy after effectively winning the game in the first half

      Hope you see a good display on Saturday by Boro


  36. watching the match on a good stream through VIP
    2 nil is nice but we are very sloppy at the back.

    May be we are taking more caculted risks who knows

    it is only Ipswich but the guys are trying so nice to watch for a change

  37. As people keep saying you can only beat what’s in front of you. And that’s exactly what we are doing so far. Hull are a poor side and look how that turned out on Saturday. No negatives for me so far.

  38. Well, I expected more. I expected us to win 0-3. We had enough chances to score four or five. But most disappointed with the three points Leeds got.

    After 11 games, our average is now excactly 2,0 points per game. A home match next?

    Life is good. It is nice to support Boro now. The first half was great eventhough the match was not as exciting as some recent matches. Game over after the first 20 min or so.

    Up the Boro!

  39. Game had a feeling of job well done. Ipswich very poor in first 20 minutes and Boro took advantage. After that for the rest of the first half was a stroll. The opportunity for more goals was there for the taking.
    Second half, Ipswich much better and had their moments and Randolph had to make an excellent save as Chalobah became much more influential.
    I thought the 2 outstanding Boro players were Saville – never flustered, and Downing – if only the two centre forwards – Hugill and Assombalonga – could control the ball as easily as he does.
    Hugill runs a lot and closes opponents down but lacks skill. Braithwaite went missing in the second half – seems a common trait.
    A pleasing aspect is the team works hard and close down teams effectively.
    Overall a satisfactory performance.

  40. In the end it was job done inside the first 20 minutes and the 2-0 lead was pretty much game managed in the second half – especially after Braithwaite was replaced by McNair with around 20 minutes to play. Ipswich had much more possession in the second half but didn’t overly trouble Boro with only one shot on target in the game. Boro looked much better in the first half than they have in recent games but were mainly content to protect their lead in the second half.

    Still managed a some good moves in the second half but the intensity dropped a little. I’d probably give MOM to Downing who ran all game and got that all important second goal – Besic looked good until he tired and also Friend put in a good shift too. Saville was good in parts but played a little too deep to have any impact up the field and Hugill looked better in the first half but fell into old habits of seeking free kicks before tiring. Boro’s defence remained alert but made a few unforced errors – though Randolph was his reliable self when needed.

    This type of performance against Hull would have seen Boro at the top with a slight cushion – though I suppose I can settle for level on points with Leeds in second place. Not quite a great performance and room for improvement but better than expected and an important three points.

    1. I’ll go along with that observation but thought Savile looked a bit lost playing in Claytons role

      Hugill missed a great chance with a header but to be fair he was pushed in the back when in the penalty area. On that performance I wouldn’t sign him

      Referee poor this is a low standard in the championship where have all our good refs gone?

      I can see us importing foreign refs next


      1. Overall I’m not much of a fan of Hugill, he seems more interested in trying to win free kicks than scoring goals and don’t suspect he’ll make double figures – I don’t think he’s even a better prospect than big Rudy.

  41. A good performwnce but we really should have scored more from the domination and chances created. Interesting to see the impact of having so many good midfield players. It means that they are very comfortable on the ball and can bring on replacements to replace people who tired.

    I thought Besic had an excellent first half but tired and wasn’t present after an hour. Sensible substitution. Downing was excellent throughout. Saville was indeed very composed and showed that he can do the Clayton role if needed. Howson was quiet in the first half but got stronger as the game went on. He really has tremendous fitness and just keeps running. The defence was as solid as ever and Randolph made one excellent save. I wasn’t as impressed by Braithwaite as the commentator. He had some good touches but he didn’t seem to be really up for it. Maybe I’m being unfair, Anyway, it made sense to give McNair and McQueen a go although I’m not sure why one of Wing or Tav weren’t on the bench.
    Hugill occupied the defence but never really looked like scoring. Another logical substitution. Assombalonga looked more dangerous but the defence was tired by then.

    Yes, it would have been nice to score more but if you had to sum Boro up you would say excellent defence and lots of midfield depth. That’s not a bad basis for the Championship.


  42. We should have buried Ipswich.

    I listened to the Skysports pundits and it reminded me of the match Leeds lost to Bayern.

    Ooh, another great cross in to the box, it only needed someone to be on the end of it. But they weren’t, that is the fact.

    We should have stuffed them, we wasted many chances in the second half.

    Not a good name.

    1. Ian
      If we could meet teams on a downer every week, then we would probably be all right.
      We are not going to be so lucky, our bad form( read no form) has meant that we have missed a lot of chances to boss the goal difference column.
      Last night was a typical case of ” fill your boots” go to the top of the league and give Leeds some chasing to do.
      Very irritating, but it is what we do.
      It is not unfair to say that we seem to go onto the pitch in every match with not an idea in our heads, what ever happens is a complete surprise to us, and remains so until the ref brings the game to an end.

  43. OFB
    Interesting to see a different perspective. I just felt that Saville knew where to be to help out and, like Clayton, didn’t give the ball away in tight situations.

  44. Well thats typical, couldn’t get to watch or listen to it at all, had to make do with text updates and we go and win with our Midfielders apparently finding their shooting boots!

    Shame about Leeds winning and Bolasie rescuing Bruce in the last minute. Just got to see if Adam Reach can spoil things against the Baggies tomorrow night.

  45. As strange as it may seem, without this seasons outstanding player ( Clayton) the other midfielders were forced to step up and run with the ball, thus creating the two goals.

    Food for thought for the manager.

  46. Don’t disagree Werdermouth but it’s interesting to see that TP picked Saville for the role tonight. He could easily have gone with McNair or Howson and played Besic and Saville further forward. Generally, I thought that the team was set up to play forward more quickly either by passes or carrying the ball and it made us look sharper. We certainly have a strong group of full backs and midfield players who can mix and match as needed.

    Does Clayton come back on Saturday?

  47. Enjoyed the first twenty minutes of probably my only live in the flesh game this season. The consensus all round the away end was that we should have got 5 or 6. The first 20 minutes had lots of running from midfield and we were cutting Town open at will. Then we decided that we had scored enough and played out the rest of the game. Thought that Shotten played well as did Downing. Not sure about Hugill should have scored and it looked a blatant push for a penalty. Apart from that I actually thought the ref did OK. He was trying to keep the game flowing. Thought as always the Red Army were awesome. There were only 438 of us but kept up a constant wall of noise. A great turn out 250 miles from home on a Tuesday night. As RR said who thought that was a good idea?

  48. Some people say you can look at the league table only after 10 matches, some after 12 matches. Now we have played 11 matches …

    What strikes to me is that we have on average gained exactly 2,0 points per a match. So that is promotion form and it’s nice to notice that is after our “big” wobble recently. It was also quite chaotic over here in Diasboro as recently as yesterday afternoon!

    We have concedes just 4 goals this season. At this rate we will end up having conceded just 17 goals all season. That is, of course, highly unlikely but it is interesting to notice that Aston Villa has conceded already 18 goals now. So our defense is on a totally other level. As Jim Platt says, clean sheets win matches – so who I am to argue with his or Big Jack’s expertise!

    The third notice I made today is that our goal difference is just one goal worse than that of WBA – but of course they have a game in hand as they play Sheffield Wed tonight. But that also includes their 7-1 trashing of poor QPR early in the season.

    West Brom has won three matches in succession now – let’s hope they do not make it four in a row. Also Norwich have now won four times in succession and play at Derby today.

    All in all I will say that the teams to fight for automatic promotion could well be Leeds, Boro, WBA and Swansea (and some more – that is Championship). I think the teams with the meanest defensive record will traditionally be strong in this division. And Swansea and Boro are the best in the art of defending.

    Early season favourite Stoke is nine points behind us now and they have had the same problems as we had a year ago – too many changes too soon. It takes a team time to settle to this division where there is no time to train properly while the season is running.

    So let’s hope our wobble is behind us now and WBA will have one soon. But their defense is not very impressive as they have shipped in already 14 goals – ten more than Pulis’ men.

    Life is good. Up the Boro!

  49. A good solid away win. I thought Ipswich were awful in the first 20/30 minutes and weren’t much better after that.
    Once we were two up it definitely seemed the case that the team thought it was job done (which indeed it was), but it would have been good to see another Boro goal or two.
    Still, back on the 2 points a game average and back in the top two.

    AK’s Forest up next, 0-0 anybody?

  50. My take on the game. A good 3 points against a poor Ipswich side who kinda gifted us the goals with errors. That said, Downing and Besic still had to finish off which I am not sure Hugill would have done based on his performance.

    However, we should have had more than 2 and yet again, if they had scored in the second half, I would have been even more concerned. Good save from Randolph to keep us safe.

    The second half, Ipswich played better and if they had more firepower could have scored and made it interesting.

    Still, we are Second, possibly third after the games tonight but with 22 points. And as Jarkko said, after our little wobble with the draws and loss. The table doesn’t lie as Ian says and at this stage, I will take it and hope that it continues with a victory over the Tricky Trees. Mind you this is Boro so anything is possible!

    I am coming up for the game so hoping for an emphatic win and again it will be interesting who starts with Clayton presumably available again. Given that we are at home, then I would be inclined to go for 3 at the back with Flint, Ayala and Fry, a holding 2 of Clayton and Howson, Downing Friend Besic and Saville with Braithwaite and Assalamonga up front.


    1. Good spot, and to think that I spent my career working with numbers!!

      Rush goalie, there’s an idea …….. mind you some teams almost work on that basis at times. Joe Hart wasn’t in favour because his ball control skills weren’t good enough!

    2. Good spot, and to think that I spent my career working with numbers!

      Rush goalies…… there’s an idea……..

      Mind you some teams almost play with one anyway. Wasn’t Joe Hart released as his ball control wasn’t good enough?

  51. I agree that it was a good three points and a better performance than the Hull game. At the risk of upsetting Exmil again, Ipswich were a poor side and we should have scored more. As BBD has said, if Randolph had not made a magnificent save we might have been chewing our nails until the end of the game.

    So Forest on Saturday and with AK having a similar mantra to TP then it has 0-0 written all over it or could it be untypical and a goalfest…. not holding my breath and would take a 1-0 to us and three points going into the break.

    CoB 😎

    1. KP, I agree 100% with your first paragraph. The three points are of course welcome but a good team would have taken the opportunity of a very poor Ipswich to substantially improve their goal difference. We need to play more like a big team and rub others teams’ noses in it rather than just settle for a draw after 16 minutes.

      Still, there was a little more enterprise on show last night but let’s not get carried away. One swallow doesn’t make a summer and we need to see what team and tactics are on display against Forest.

  52. Boro v Forest

    And so we move on to the next game and my prediction is

    🌳 🌳 or ⚽️⚽️

    I don’t think we’ll pull up any trees or am I barking ?

    We could branch out and take a leaf 🍁 out of more adventurous teams but Forest have a dense defence and will be a hard nut 🥜 to crack.

    I hope the Boro fans will sing their favourite chant to Karanka “attack attack attack “ not being disrespectful like !

    He made us grow as a club but in the end was the root of our problems.

    Hope you all twigged what I meant !


  53. OFB – you may have used up all the word plays in one go there!

    Unless I switch to Another Nottingham link and hope that Forest do not steal the points from the rich and give to the poor!

    1. What I find amusing is the number of people on this forum who were all doom and gloom once the starting line up was announced. I’d probably have joined them, so no disrespect intended, and as we often hear on Question of Sport, what happened next???????

      Actually I thought that Ipswich weren’t all that poor in the second half and might finish mid-table. Ok Boro might have taken their foot off the gas to conserve energy with Karanka’s Forest due in town on Saturday, but the defence did become a little sloppy. As for Hugill, I’m not impressed no better than Gestede in my opinion, and that Fletcher is better than either of them. Also that Downing is still capable of more ‘man of the match’ performances if used sparingly.

      We’ve now reached the 10 match guideline and more, but the league table is just as congested as it was after 6 matches. In cricket it is often said that one shouldn’t jump to conclusions about what is a good score until both teams have batted. Perhaps we shouldn’t pay much attention to league tables until every team has played each other once, and even then with much circumspection. After all it’s also said that a football season is not a sprint, but a marathon. Nevertheless a good sprint finish will sometimes get one over the line.

      I still don’t like TP’s type of football but maybe we should give him some credit for his tactics. An early goal always helps, but the first half display was quite refreshing in the way we played last night. So have Boro got that sprint finish? I think they have. Comparing Boro’s results this season with last season against the 9 Championship teams we’ve met so far, we’ve accumulated 18 points as opposed to 13 last season. Boro also took 4 points from West Bromwich and Swansea the last time we played them in the Premier League (we beat Swansea, drew with West Bromwich), so we’ve accumulated 5 more points against the same opposition this season than last so far and that’s after only 11 matches.

      Statistics can be used to prove anything, but that’s a good augury. The Championship in my opinion is not as strong as last season, so I still think that Boro won’t be far off 100 points by the end of the season. Even the odd slip up should guarantee automatic promotion and probably as Champions.


  54. So coach Steve Agnew is free to do gardering again. So busy time in Hutton Rugby.

    Well gardering is good for health, too. And possibly his golfing will improve, too.

    Up the Boro!

  55. The prospect of AKForest being just one point behind TPBoro were they to win at the Riverside *and* win tonight has occurred to me.

    Stats tonight reflect a typical AK game. Lots of pass, pass, pass (64%) but a single shot on target – which, incidentally, has gone in. Millwall are roughing them up and being more direct, which is something you suspect we will have to be to a greater extent as they, too, have only lost one to date.

    They have some sort of momentum, but so do we. I expect TPBoro to edge it.

  56. Switched over from the owls v baggies to watch the last knockings of Spurs vs Barca and the pitch has even less cover than my 67 year old pate, Looks a bit like Exmils coiffure.

  57. Well I thought that we played well for the first 30 minutes and capitalised on Ipswich’s mistakes.

    Second half I thought Ipswich shaded it and Chalobah was the go to player with his forward passing, far better than Boro.
    Overall we did not create too much against a team in the bottom three.

    Howson was anonymous until the last 15 minutes or so when he inherent fitness showed. What McQueen brings to the table in the positions he has played in (not LB) I fail to see. McNair did add some needed pace and did get forward. As Werder pointed out, Saville was I assume bought to drive forward with the ball and score possibly up tp 8/9 goals. So playing in Claytons position, which I must admit, he did well with numerous blocks, was a waste. Unless TP thought we have nobody else to do it??

    So 3 points which was good, but still not a great performance, better but still lots of poor passing on long balls. Great save from Randolf to save us from being put under pressure. But upfront, as much as I want Hugill to succeed, I just cannot see it happening. Gives his all but not up to scratch and cannot see many goals coming from him. And lays our main problem.
    No creativity and someone to put away the chances in a Mr Pulis system.

  58. One of the reasons that the Championship is so congested is the high percentage of draws. Another 4 tonight bringing the total up to 46 from 132 matches (almost 35%) compared to last season when there were 138 from 552 matches (exactly 25%). Forest for example with 7 draws to date are only one short of last season’s total. Also Villa and Blackburn have already drawn 6, that’s over half of their matches. If that continues it will be quite significant at the end of the season as it shows not only how there’s nothing between all the teams in the Championship, but also the value of any wins either home or away. In my opinion the fact that 3 teams are averaging 2 points per match and another team (West Bromwich) will reach that average if they win on Saturday and every team will then have played 6 home and 6 away matches won’t continue. I very much doubt that more than 2 teams will maintain that average over a full season and Boro ought to be one of those teams.

  59. So, yeah, two sets of Boro Exes (Reach, Guedioura & AK) suffer late, late eradications of 2-0 leads.

    We’ve experienced that before. Somehow contriving to chuck a 2-0 lead at home to Fulham in the last minute, and later 4-2 up against Norwich at their place in injury time before ultimately drawing 4-4. In the latter, McClaren could point to the fact that we were robbed of both Ehiogu and Riggott as well as first choice human shield Boateng, but we should have had enough quality to see it out at 4-1.

    One that still hurts, though, for me? Boro 2, Everton 2, 1998. 2-0 up at half-time with a Ricard double, cruising, and set to make it three wins out of three in the post-Merson era with not one goal conceded.

    Then Walter Smith brought Danny Cadamarteri on. He was no genius but he was both fast and a livewire. He wasn’t what we were “accustomed” to. He wasn’t in the script. We weren’t explicitly “prepared” for this shock to an Everton system we had contained so well. Within seconds, he won a penalty which Everton scored. Boro were reeling, Everton got a sudden burst of confidence and it only took a minute for John Collins to drive the ball into the net.


    Another lesson to be learned from this, though? For all our understandable desire to see our exciting “magicians” and goal poachers start games, they can sometimes be more useful as a game-changing alternative to the predictable. I guess that’s why Wolves have been bringing Adama off the bench lately – he changes games positively for them, and the team then tend to get the right result.

    That’s what matters.

  60. Panic, we have now lost a match versus a top six team. Norwich has gone unbeaten since we lost there and they are now fifth in the table.

    But at least we beat Sheffield Utd confortably. And they are level on points with us and Leeds. Really tight in the league.

    Still about three fouths to go. We need to keep bagging in two points per a game as an average and more differences will occure in the table. It is a marathon and every point is precious. Especially those already gained.

    Up the Boro!

  61. Exactly Jarkko, 92 points will guarantee automatic promotion. Home points are always vital, but there will be times when a home point is a good point and that’s why we need to turn away draws into wins which we’ve been capable of doing in our last two Championship seasons. However 96/97 points will guarantee we go up as Champions and that certainly is not impossible.

  62. We’re right up there but most think it could be a little better with a bit more creativity and ambition to win. Some are concerned that we’ll drop away unless we improve.

    All feels very Karankan doesn’t it?

    Who do we play next?

  63. Hi Andy.

    Brings to mind one of my favourite theories: the value and validity of alternative views, whether you agree or disagree.

    Keeping the ball in a backwards-and-sideways pattern, for example, is one way that a team can do what Boro did after going 2-0 up against Ipswich – take their foot off the gas.

    It’s a sensible tactic. The conservation of energy. Because it is a marathon, not a sprint, and it is where we finish at the end of the season that matters most.

    It may well be what Boro *need*. But on the other hand, is it what we *want*? That’s the dilemma.

    Goes back to something RR said even when we were winning games under AK – “even if we go 2-0 up in the first half, the rest of the game will be containment and keeping a clean sheet, which my head tells me is right but my heart yearns for a bit more.”

    That’s it, really. The head says that pacing yourselves out over the course of the season is a great idea, but the football we remember most is about emotion. Which brings to mind what the Burnley fan I often quote said: “If you want to be sensible, give up football and take up competitive accountancy.”

    1. I think it was Werdermouth who said that Karanka’s mentality was (something like):

      When 1-0 up, keep it tight and protect your lead

      When 0-0, keep it tight and hope to nick a winner

      When 1-0 down, keep it tight and hope to nick an equaliser

      When 2-0 down, keep it tight and protect your goal difference

      Funny and true.

      Going into cruise control when comfortably leading is not a terrible sin and not the major gripe in my view. The concern is more about the intent from the outset, which we often read from the team selection.

      Can Wing, for instance, not play a sideways or backwards pass once we’re 2-0 up? Of course he can. But he’s also better than most, from what little we’ve seen so far, at playing a forward one to get us 2-0 up in the first place.

      Perhaps what the Ipswich win showed is that we most often have enough in the squad to win games without a particularly creative midfield on the pitch, so long as the intensity and energy levels are there. Or perhaps it showed that Besic is that creative player when he’s on it, which for a good spell on Tuesday night he was.

      I would still prefer to see one more attack-minded midfielder in the XI for the vast majority of games. I don’t believe that makes us defensively weaker based on what we say earlier in the season.

  64. Addendum.

    That late, late Millwall equaliser could be bad for us in that it may fire up Forest more. Especially with a manager known to be keen to prove a point.

    Curiously, AKForest have only blanked once this season but they seem, for a AK team, to be leaking like a sieve. Intriguingly they nearly came from 2-1 down to beat MoggaRovers at their place, with only a late missed sitter from Guedioura denying them victory.

    Earlier this season, I remember Guedioura nearly scoring with an audacious shot from his own half. Which might have given Forest a win over WBA. Then there was last night and the late concession…

    What kind of a trend are we seeing here? That, despite more goals, the pattern of AKForest is little different from AKBoro in that the team always seems to be “one mistake away” from the right result – be it the right final ball, the right chance taken or the right clearance made.

    Defenders of managers like that, and I was one, I admit, may argue that all he needs is a little more time to get the right momentum and belief going. Others may simply say: you have to work it out much faster these days, and such time isn’t realistic anymore. Especially if your owners are impatient.

    1. I don’t think Karanka has sorted out Forest’s defence yet. They’ve been leaky throughout his time there (and before)

      Is that a change of approach from AK or has he just not got the defensive players he had here? My vote goes for the later.

      Home win for me on Saturday. Boro 3-1 Forest.

      1. Depends on your point of view. The highlights of AKForest that I’ve seen have been impressive.

        Even a fan who disliked AK admitted that he was a little unfair on him: “When we’re good, we’re good. Some of the passing is sublime. It’s the overall intent that annoys.”

  65. Simon, all teams make mistakes it is inevitable. Ayala penalty v Hull, Flint back pass v Millwall was it? Chalobah/Sears produced some awkward moments late on Tuesday night.

    Andy it the Bench selection that frustrates me. Fry and Batth, plus McQueen and McNair. Now Gestede is fit? we will have probably two “goal scorers” plus the goalie and no place for Wing.
    Come January Mr Pulis will him and Tav out so we cannot complain that they are not on the bench. Oh and bring in a wide player.

  66. I think what it is, Pedro, is that if the overall trajectory of the game is solely dependent on that one missed chance or one defensive slip, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

    It may be true to say that, had Adam Reach’s thunderbolt gone in against Bournemouth, and had he not messed up a one-on-one at Blackburn and skied it vs Reading, AKBoro would have had early leads – and no Boro team that I know of was better at setting a pattern of command from, or defending, early leads than AKBoro in the Championship.

    The same could be said of Vossen’s thunderbolt at Wembley. One narrow miss and one defensive mix-up later, the air was out of the Boro balloon.

    I defended the manager at the time, on the basis of these “if onlys”. The reality, with hindsight, is closer to this. It’s never nice if a team misses crucial chances or messes up at the back when you need them to be strong, but it’s a weakness on the manager’s part if he uses these “if onlys” as an excuse.

    Someone once said that yes, Reachy’s miss at Reading was terrible, but that wasn’t the point – the point was that he was one of the few in the position to make that miss. He erred – but he erred in trying to do the right thing.

    When a manager dwells on the “if onlys”, I fear, it’s less about encouraging the players and more about vindicating his methodology. In other words, it didn’t work, but would have if the player had just done the job he’s paid to do.

    The sad thing is, the manager has a point. After all, Spain had just two chances against Italy in the first half of the Euro 2012 final. But – bang, bang. 2-0.

  67. So true Simon, games are won or lost on fine margins. However, what you want is a striker that is going to have a high percentage of goals to chances. Boro appear to have had a succession of strikers who cannot score despite having almost an open goal.

    I do wonder why that is at times, surely they must practice (Or they should be doing) unless they never have any defenders in front of them when undertaking target practice!

    1. Spain of course had very high quality players that were more likely to make a limited number of chances count.

      A big part of the problem for me was that every miss was a big miss because the next chance wasn’t coming any time soon.

      1. Andy you are so right. We do not create enough, what you could call good chances, and at our level the “strikers” need probably three chances for each goal scored.

  68. I probably at times seem negative to some, I’m really not, I want success for all of our players and staff.
    I’m someone who is always looking for ways to improve, either with recruitment or pattern of play.
    I also understand mistakes are made in these areas ,but when it happens too many times and could be avoided , its annoying.
    Like the bench at Ipswich or lately, you tell me, now Tony says we lack wide men and speed, don’t tell me Chapman isn’t a better option than another centre back. He as speed and can go past people, if we were chasing the game he’s perfect,
    Btrahimi is another one, Tavarnier could,
    Maybe Tony doesn’t trust their defensive game ,but they should be tought that in the reserves.
    I’m happy we are top, but I think we should have more points,
    Wst Brom are now starting to get a grip, they have the best starting eleven,some missed their game against us, but I think they will win the league, then its one other for me.

    1. GT

      You’re not negative you just want to see the best possible Boro team

      Brahimi looks like an exciting player and for those that criticise our recruitment then give credit to them for spotting a young French player who shows promise


  69. Marcus Tavernier has a brother James, who is Captain of Steven Gerrards
    Glasgow Rangers and scored a crucial penalty in the Europa league clash against Rapid Vienna which ended 3-1 to Rangers

  70. Pedro

    I was actually commenting on the Karanka years but clearly there are parallels.

    Nowadays I do feel that we try to get the ball forward more quickly and there is far less sideways, safe passing. I don’t think we’ve got the same quality of attacking players now though and would happy to see the kids given their chance.

  71. The Caraboa cup match at home to Crystal Palace is at 2000 hrs on Wed 30 Oct. I thought it would be a Wednesday match as Palace play Arsenal the Sunday before and Chelsea the Sunday after, also as it is an 8 o’clock kick off it may be an indication that the match may be televised.

    Come on BORO.

      1. Derby and Lampard going back to Chelsea are being shown as is the Burton v Forest tie so don’t think we will be televised.

        Probabaly been moved because Palace play Arsenal on the previous Sunday.

  72. Yes Wednesday 31st, I got it from MFC website but typed 30th by mistake. When the draw was made I checked Palace’s fixture list and noticed their match against Arsenal was on the preceding Sunday, so I guessed the our cup match would be on the Wednesday to accommodate the Premiership team.

    Come on BORO.

  73. Thinking about it, Pedro, how does this year’s team compare with the last Boro side to be promoted?

    I remember that side generally being:

    Nsue Ayala Gibson Friend
    Leadbitter Clayton
    Stuani Gaston Adomah/Stewy

    This year’s side isn’t settled yet but but there aren’t too many I’d take from the current crop, incuding the current versions of the pleysrs who are still here!

    From today’s team, Randolph would get in for me whilst Ayala, Clayton and Downing seem to be about the same level. Friend of the Karanka years was a better player than the one we have now and obviously Leadbitter was pretty immense back then. Are there any others from today’s side that would get in?

    Perhaps Ken is right in that the eague is weaker, so it doesn’t matter as much. Or perhaps Pulis really does deserve more credit for where he’s taken this group so far.

  74. Was it something that we said
    No report from Redcar Red
    Things will never be the same
    Without your verdict on the game
    I understand it must be tough
    To conjure up all that stuff
    But we rely on all your views
    And ignore the other fake news
    On behalf of Diasboro
    Don’t let us down brother
    We are all on our knees
    Begging for your report on the tricky trees

    1. Your post in rhyme
      Must have taken some time
      It’s nice to give praise
      On RRs winning ways
      But business comes first
      As does slaking his thirst
      He’ll be back with the news
      Giving his personal views
      His Forest Report
      Won’t be very short
      Unless he’s had his full
      Of a boring Nil Nil



  75. Thanks Bob for your retort
    Looking forward to Red’s report
    I know we all appreciate
    The hours he must stay up late
    I hope he had a decent break
    And Boro, 3 points we do take.

  76. Andy, I am always ready to eat humble pie or admit I have been wrong.

    I think Mr Pulis has done really well with the current squad, however if he could just compromise sometimes and add a little extra exuberance to the more experienced then I believe we could do even better.

  77. The will be a surprice
    On Saturday at five
    For Boro faithfull a price
    To see goals in live

    The result annoys a many
    But especially the gaffers
    As Boro won by 3-2

    Aitor is a beaten man
    What else he can
    To admit Boro are best
    Too hard was the test
    For tricky Tries

    Up the Boro!

  78. OFB
    Continuing rhyming would be wrong so let’s all break out in a song
    You are my Boro, my only Boro
    You make me happy when skies are grey
    So take all three points off Karanka
    And then convince Braithwaite to stay

  79. Just had time to watch the Ipswich game and for then opening half hour or so we looked pretty decent and passed the ball around well.

    My overall observation is this:

    Our midfielders normally take out the floodlights when they shoot which is one of the reasons our goals for column is less than perfect.

    The fact that they scored was the reason we won of course but had they not done so (and I have been abrasive and whining on about their shooting accuracy for ages) and skied their efforts we wouldn’t have won. Worse still, we may even have been a little more stretched and drawn or even fell to a late sucker punch.

    The Besic goal was a great independent and solo statement of intent, with his Mojo now restored lets hope he builds on it and leaves the shackles of the Play offs behind him. Downing took his goal well but lets face it an aberration from the defender gifted it on a plate to him and one-nil may not have been so comfortable.

    Giving credit to TP perhaps the game plan at 2-0 was to deliberately sit back keeping a clean sheet with the belief that we could pick them off and would have set pieces to nick another one later on.

    Hugill doesn’t look like a prolific goalscorer, Assombalonga doesn’t look very mobile but if balls are played in correctly to his strengths he will get shots off and one in five will go in. Midfield is where we need to see some goal contributions apart from the long throw/Ayala/Flint thing. George Saville has recently nicked one and clipped the cross bar, Stewy and now Mo have just scored, if they can keep the goals coming from the middle of the park there will be little to stop us this season.

    Still think we need a little more pizazz in midfield however despite the two goals and opening spell of pressure against Ipswich so I’m still in the Team Wing camp. If the players and TP do read this then hopefully the pressure of the fans clamouring for someone else to be given their shirt may keep the pressure on and their shooting accuracy finer. More of the same tomorrow please, maybe Lewis Wing could turn out to be the most valuable member of the squad after all and without kicking a ball in nearly two months!

    1. RR

      But our midfield didn’t sky the shots.

      I agree with what you say but scores on the doors is what matters in the long run. TP asked for exactly the same things as AK with the same end result in terms of transfer incoming. I suspect TP is more pragmatic in the management of the squad.

      There is a key difference, AK was in the top flight and had lost his key man, Gaston. Even worse, Gaston was still at Rockcliffe!

      The loss of Paddy was different, it appears he came to TP to ask to leave apparently to start. Poor Paddy ended up being a bench warmer before his injury. l have a fear he will end up with that type of career.

      Adama was out of TP’s control unless of course it suits your agenda to blame TP for improving the player and the fact TP got the release clause put in Adama’s contract whilst still manager at Palace.

      That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like Tav,Wing and co to be more involved but I dont see enough to make a strong judgement.

  80. Hopefully the game will not be between TP and AK, that would be a waste of a home fixture, and, or course managing a team is about more than playing the fixtures.
    We have recently collected the greatest gift this club has ever been given, it amounted to 18 million pounds, with another large lump to come when he is sold on to a giant. That was A K, we can add to that several chunks of cash, off hand, 5- 10-4 million, all coming our way because of his dealing in the transfer market.
    When one considers that we make 5 Million from our home gates we should be very grateful, and pray that what we are buying right now is as profitable in the near future.

    PS We could always hire that second hand car dealer.

  81. Big game tomorrow, both clubs would dearly like to win it, so outside factors will influence the outcome, win and a big step forward. Lose and it’s head In hands time. I just wonder if he will crack, and have Tav and Wing on the bench. We shall see.

  82. Has anybody bought a subscription for tomorrows match? Just looked at MFC site and cannot find the normal match centre link to purchase live video.

    1. Pedro

      If you go onto the MFC site home page and click the article “Match Day information” then scroll down when you will see the “Follow the Game Live” and a link to purchase a match pass.

  83. A non-football related poem for you all. But I’m posting extracts from it because I love it. So here goes.

    “Keep going, keep growing, Belfast. Take it in.
    “Feel we could win, more together than apart.
    “‘Cause you may be no oil painting
    “But you’re our wee work of art.
    “Flags and name tags make a worn-out canvas
    “and Belfast, this may not be how we planned it,
    “but you’re all we’ve got, and it’s in our hands,
    “it’s in our hands… to change.

    “…There’s a seat for you here. Black stuff, or beer?
    “Go on, you’ll have a pint!
    “Musicians and poets and singers and folk sit
    “and entertain into the night.
    “The music is sharp – Ursula* on the harp,
    “the session’s in full swing.
    “Heard a girl came in with a new way to play
    “with a djembé, shaking her thing
    “…and have you heard her sing?
    “As the tourists from France swing their pants
    “and we’re proud to say it’s our thing.

    “New and old rhythms together at last,
    “now this is what I call real Belfast.
    “And I’ll tell the world this city is sweet,
    “as Van sings to me as I walk on these streets,
    “a welcome friend to lighten the load,
    “‘from the dark end of the street to the bright side of the road.'”

    — Alice McCullough, Belfast, You’re Melting My Head (Only Slaggin’)

    *The Ursula in question is the popular Ursula Burns, a creative and immensely talented harpist with a flair for the unusual.

  84. Jarrko and KP…….thank you for your links and info to the subscription page.

    I went into search and typed live video and up popped Riverside live, your second link Jarrko. I will copy yours and KP’s links as “favourites” for any future probs.

    I hate Just had my iPad update to iOS 12 and already as I type the icons have moved. Skype which I use from Espana has also updated making it more un-user friendly and adds bits you do not need and cannot get rid of. Why after getting used to a current web page or system do they think it better to change it and call it progress.

    It is just the same as the football fans, never consulted as the powers that be, they know best, the fans/users know nowt.

    Thanks once more for your help. Let’s hope we get our monies worth tomorrow.

    1. Pedro

      You are more than welcome just give us a shout anytime you have an issue.

      Please don’t take that comment as me being an expert, far from it, it just means I have probably spent hours trawling around the MFC website and stumbled across what you might be looking for.

      It probably means I will have already spent ages pulling out what little hair I have got left trying to find something and would despair 😩 if colleagues had to go through the same agony.

      I, like you, went to the usual place on the MFC website to find out about Live Streams for tomorrow’s game only to find the page no longer existed!

      Let’s hope the stream works trouble free for a change! 😎

  85. I had an email in from Boro this morning saying that the live streaming will be going ahead but they very much recommend anyone looking to access the stream to do so via the Boro App and not via the website. This fits with the problems that I have had recently accessing from my laptop which gives me a bigger screen but kept on freezing.

    I will be accessing via the App on my iPad and will try to link onto a TV to get a bigger picture.

    It’s an interesting selection problem for TP for tomorrow. It’s probably a choice between Clayton and Saville for that last spot and I guess that it will be Assombalonga up front as he has something to prove as well. I can imagine that Downing will be pretty fired up to have a big game.

    Good to see that, alongside the six full international players that have been called up, there are five more playing at junior level with Fry, Tavernier, Walker and Wood at various England levels plus Brahimi now getting a call-up for the French U-19s. It’s still early days but this is really looking like a great crop of youngsters.


  86. Fellow streamers
    Boro FC have sent out an an email advising people to access via the Boro App and not straight from the website. Using this on Apple or Android will give a better stream even though a laptop could give a larger picture. However, there are usually ways to cast it onto a TV.
    Good luck

  87. I used to have problems watching TP pre and post match interviews, so I downloaded the MFC ap from my play store (wherever you download from depending on your platform) since then I can watch anything on either the website or ap as long as you have linked your digital account, hope this helps some people.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Thanks Exmil……….I have a quite large all in one desk top PC I that normally watch on,, running windows 10. Does anybody think I could download a MFC app on that?

      It is better than watching on my iPad mini. 🙁

  88. Just a quick comment from me before I start to get ready to set off for the trip up the motorway and A19 for the match this afternoon.

    Hopefully, the weather will improve and that the forecast sun at 4pm will see a resurgent Boro score 2 goals in the second half to claim a 3-1 victory.

    Not expecting a pulsating game to be honest but will take lucky goals which means that our strikers are on target!

    Crowd will be 24,242 and subs made at 65, 80 and 90 minutes with scores being Ayala, Britt and Howson


    1. I had a sneaky feeling that the “Dirties” would sneak an equaliser, had it been at Brentford I would have thought different. My thoughts now go to if we beat AK’s charges we go clear at the top, now where have I heard that before?

  89. Unchanged team. You can understand that after the intensotyvreurned in midweek.

    A real shame that none of Fry, Wing, Tav or Chapman have made the bench. Wing would certainly have been on mine as an alternative for Besic if/when he tires, to maintain some creativity in the middle.

    Still, if we play with the required tempo and desire then I’ll fancy us to win.

    Downing will be desperate to put in a performance against his former nemesis I’m sure.

  90. Sadly, still no place on the bench for Wing and true to form Mr Pulis drops another one of the “Boys”

    Not sure what happened to the “three games in a week” scenario??

  91. Just tried watching Riverside Live on IPad as per MFC advice and it won’t load!

    Now got it on Lap Top via MFC website and attached to TV – hope it works without interruption! 😎


  92. Well that was rubbish all round….MFC web site not available, watching on my iPad,
    commentary not in sync and also another commentary in the background. And that is just MFC for my 10 pounds. not happy.

    Then of course there was the match, equally poor with a number of players anonymous. Howson missing once more, Saville wasted playing deeper, no forward passing only long balls up and easily dealt with by Forrest. Downing taking all the dead ball kicks again and woeful.

    If they score there will be no way back if this performance continues.

  93. Pedro, you got your prediction right, they scored and we’ve got absolute zero invention on the bench to turn this dross around. Am I the only one to look at the Ipswich game and see an extremely average team just manage to crawl across the line against a Sunday pub team? Because we are so far away from being even a decent Championship team, we really are that bad.

    As for the academy kids, well, we can kiss them all goodbye now that Fry has finally been binned. All to pander to overpaid journeymen that really couldn’t give a fig about the club, but is my money in the bank?

    GHW went in to his shed not so long back, sheds over here are a bit more industrial, so I need to find a hideaway where I can expunge everything Boro from my being, I’ll let you all know where I’ve hidden myself away if I can get a WIFI signal, now, where’s that map of the Cook Islands?

    1. Yes, where are the ‘kids’? They probably aren’t the complete solution to the problem(s) but in reality they are the only card Boro have to play. Please Mr Pulis can we leave the predictable and just try the unpredictable. just for a couple of games.

      On this basis we don’t need an academy, scrap it and save money so we can buy more journeymen. Sorry predictable journeymen.

      I’m not saying the kids will solve the problem but at least give them a chance. If you don’t why should, or would, they stay? There’s plenty of managers, clubs and teams out there who would take them off Boro’s hands, in fact they’d probably tear our arms off. Think how much money you could save.

      A question. Fry gets binned for a mistake, apparently. Why do none of the first team get binned for lack of effort, work, professionalism and enthusiasm? You’re right I don’t know either.



  94. Powmill, I think the die is now set and when Mr Pulis continues with his poor team/squad selections the results will be inevitable.

    Since the early games, the fortuitist win against WBA and the well earned point against Leeds we have played from being average to downright poor and that has been seen in the end results.

    Defensive football with little creativity. Too many players looking very average, even the two players we brought in at 7mil and we offered 6mil for.

    How much have Sheff United spent…..not a lot, likewise other teams around us. Mr Pulis will say he did not get what he wanted, but that is life. Others are making do and better at it than we are. We are very lucky at this moment, as Ken said a poor division in the main.

  95. How long can this man go on in this fashion?
    There are no goals in this team, fact, not even from dead balls.
    And who clinically removed the goals from the team? Yes TP that’s who.
    We have no striker, to have to choose between Assalomba and Guested? Is to be up the creek without a paddle. Can we say now that it does not matter how tall you are, you still need to be able to head the ball, and run and control the ball. That takes care of Guested. Can we now discuss Assalomba, in a very good team he is an eight goal a season striker, that is assuming that he is allowed to take the penalties, and that you get ten a season.
    We as a team got our equaliser, which would have changed the result, unfortunately Assolomba was the player chosen to put it in the net (from three yards) yes, I know, what was he thinking of? It would take a clever man to answer that.
    Where do we go from here, because it is now a point of honour, he dare not play Wing and Tavernier, there would be no recovery from such a loss of face, and I think that it would be a case of return to Sandbanks ASAP.
    Position in league,? well, I do not think we will be relegated, but i am ordering a new set of worry beads.

    1. Plato, I agree with what you say and I’m glad I didn’t waste my money on today’s latest efforts of the Pulis journeyman team. What really puzzles me is why he persists with his team selections that exclude the few creative, positive, enthusiastic and energetic players who are in the club.

      Either he can’t see that the teams he select have a chronic lack of creative spark (which is unlikely as everyone else watching them play can see it with absolute clarity) or he is being bloody minded about it just because all the fans are clamouring for Wing and Tavernier to play. Whatever the reason, he is damaging the club and rapidly eroding it’s prospects of promotion. If he persists with the current pattern of selections then it is going to be a long, hard, extremely dull season. The current team cannot score goals unless the opposition gifts them or they convert a set piece and scores of nil don’t get teams to the top of the league.

  96. Can I say something slightly controversial, we missed the best chance of the match when we allowed Downing to take a close in free kick (edge of side of box, very close to goal, no wall, there was not ten yards, I think you can guess what he did with it, the keeper stood innocently facing him knowing that it was going to be a rocket, er, not quite, he floated it gracefully over the bar. I think his day is done, his race is run, time to blow the whistle.

  97. What an absolute shambles TP is now presiding over and all brought about by his own single(bloody) minded belief that you need “men” to win in this league.

    Well I’m sorry Tony but with that outdated mantra we ain’t going to be winning many more games in the near future never mind promotion.

    The back 4 were all over the place, Saville was absolutely shocking and didn’t improve when he moved forward when Besic was subbed. Downing put some lovely crosses into areas where the strikers should have been gambling on the ball being delivered there, Howson ran around a lot without much end product and Besic did pretty much the same.

    Braithwaite took a while to get going and when he was posing a threat he did he got subbed off! I’m afraid Hugill just doesn’t look up to standard.

    Changes are required in the make up of the starting 11 and the bench otherwise we will just drift aimlessly downwards settling in upper mid table, which after what has been a good start would be criminal.

    The best thing about today was the live stream kept dropping out and I missed about 20 minutes of that appalling performance.

  98. Plato

    Never mind the good crosses Downing put into dangerous areas that our strikers aren’t clever enough to anticipate as long as you can find a scapegoat though eh.

    By the way the best chance, imo, for Boro fell to Assombalonga from Howsons through ball only for Brit to put it more or less straight at Pantillimon from what 10 yard out.

    It was a poor effort but by no means the worst.

    1. FAA
      You and I do not disagree in any way, but if a player is simply awful, you have no problems, eventually he disappears from you view.
      With a talented player it is a bit more difficult, Downing fills the eye, good touch, graceful mover, check, his crosses look good in the air, check, but as the Liverpool fans finally realised, there was no end product, they actually liked him, but as they sang when he finally scored, “Stewart Downing , he scores when he likes”
      as noted, the free kick we got, edge of penalty area midway between the dead ball line and the front of penalty area was a second class penalty, very early in the match. He does not possess a good shot, what on earth was he doing taking over, his gentle lob over the bar was a real let off for the opposition, and a big downer for us.
      He is a footballer who is full of class, but it seems to me he is enjoying playing out his career without getting involved. Unfair, but there is certainly an element of truth about that statement.
      Just to introduce another point, what if he is given a role in the training staff when the time comes.?
      Would you want him transmitting his essentially lightweight methods of play to generations of our trainees?

  99. FAA, I would settle for mid-table right now but I fear that is going to be the best to hope for with the current team selections. However, maybe that’s a good thing because this team would be aniihilated in the EPL without a massive investment from the Chairman and I’m not sure he would be prepared to spend as big as would be needed. One thing is for sure and it’s that we are gong nowhere under Pulis. Karanka must be delighted with the ease with which his team stuffed us today and how much does that grate?

  100. Well the good news is that I had no problem with the match live stream today – the bad news is I was at the Riverside to witness probably one of the worst overall team performances I can remember. That was one of my two matches a season that I get to see and the only redeeming feature was that the sun came out and partially blinded me in the East Stand.

    Boro just weren’t up for the game and played with zero intensity and zero imagination – they didn’t even deserve nil on that showing. Forest on the other hand looked sharp, first to every ball and wanted it – they easily deserved to win. It’s hard to say but this was a Karanka side that played on the front foot that attacked and looked dangerous – Boro instead looked like a bunch of plodders who had little clue of how to string more than three passes together.

    I was left at the end wondering of why I even bothered to turn up – what was the game plan? Plus there was nobody on the bench that could change the game – a triple substitution made little difference except at least Clayton steadied midfield but he should have replaced the hapless Saville instead of Besic. Why either Wing or Tavernier can’t make the bench given the lack of quality that’s been on offer in the last 5 games is a mystery that only Pulis knows.

    Perhaps only Downing could escape criticism as he was the only player in a Boro shirt who put in a performance. Pulis said after the match that Boro played like a ‘sack of potatoes’ in the first half – though definitely half-baked ones with no filling. He also basically said all our strikers were rubbish and are not doing what they have been paid a lot of money to do – in fact, he sounded like one of those upset callers on the Radio and actually spoke about the game in the same way I saw it. Whether that’s a good sign or a bad one I can’t decide just yet – I think I will drink on that one…

    1. Weder, you posted at the same time with a similar view.

      Sorry that your few trips was such a disappointing one. Making me think about the Rotherham game as I won’t get home until 1am ish!

      Seems that TP can blame the players but not himself for the team selection or substitutions, sound familiar?

    2. FOr the first time in many years I got up to leave after the second goal and Mrs OFB made me sit down and endure it to the end!

      Not much else to say really except to thank RR for doing the match report which is greatly appreciated


      1. I must admit after the first half I’d almost given up hope, especially when Archie Stephens went for a final score of 0-0 at half-time before being coaxed into a wild prediction of 1-0 instead. To be honest I didn’t expect Boro to score as our strikers just don’t have the look of knowing what to do and far too many random punts up-field to the big men to flick to nobody in particular. Though I take it that you didn’t get that magic mushroom soup then 🙂

        1. Only good thing about yesterday was talking to Frank Spraggon amd his wife who are going to do a joint In2View

          Why include Mrs Spraggon you may ask?

          Because she is the daughter of the late great Harold Shepherdson amd both have stories to tell about the Boro


  101. Just back from the trip and on the red wine to dull the pain!

    A poor display, starting with team selection with Clayton on the bench. Saville didn’t add much to the party and as for our strikers, they were somewhat leaden foot. Some good crosses in, TP said 36, but an inability to move and get in a good position.

    We allowed Forest to create space and when we had the bell, were slow. Forest were prepared to close us down and stifle what little creativity we had.

    Shotton has a poor game and in general the team were, as TP, like a sack of potatoes 🥔!

    Be interested to see what RR made of it all.

    More wine 🍷 vicar!

  102. Just one other thought. I wonder what the “boys” especially Wing, Tavernier and Fry think about their situation. They turn in exciting performances when given the chance but then see themselves dropped from the team and the match day squad. Not only that but they then see the lack of creativity and goal scoring ability served up on the pitch by the current team.

    What would you think? Would you think that the manager values you and it is worth biding your time for the chance of an extended run in the team? Or would you think that you are not considered capable of doing better than those selected week in week out and would you therefore be making plans to ask to leave at the earliest opportunity to go to a club where your talents are highly valued?

    I know which I would choose if I were in that position. I only hope that Pulis sees the light and doesn’t drive our future stars away but I fear he will.

  103. We have to be careful that when we lose we do not carried away.

    The difficulty is when we can see poor outcomes and they come home to roost. The absence of pace and creativity was there was there in advance and so it proved.

    Lets move on.

    1. I shall indeed be moving on tomorrow – back to Germany and another memory of watching the Boro to add to last’s season’s defeat at home to nine-man Wolves and the hapless performance at home to Brentford that was eventually rescued to 2-2. I’m actually struggling to remember the last time I saw a win at the Riverside as the two before that were both 0-0 draws.

    2. Whilst I agree that one defeat does not mean doom and gloom, the way we played didn’t help the confidence. The Championship is an odd league so who knows where we will be come May!

      1. BBD
        I’m afraid the championship is settling down beautifully, and it is not good news for us. There now seems to be six teams have settled at the top (exclude us) all big, powerful, confident, and talented, they attack, they shoot, they expect to win.
        The rest of us are dross, not what I expected after five games, because we were doing all the above then.
        But that was then and this is now. Quite how we get rid of him beats me.
        Just a thought, but every time the media discuss the latest club on a roll, the manager is from Europe, and there are many of them. The players who got rid of AK have something to answer for.

    3. Great report RR. The only entertaining component of a very poor day for Boro fans and very entertaining indeed. Loved the reference to Muffin!!

      Ian, yes, OK, we all move on. Question is whether Pulis will move on, recognise his selection failings and put them right or whether he will move on to more of the same.

  104. If this had been a one-off defeat or an isolated poor performance, I could forgive that. All teams have off days, and all teams lose matches. But I was at Hull last week, where Boro were pedestrian and generally dreadful. I was on holiday so missed the live Bolton and Swansea games, but I saw Bolton live on TV and have seen the erm…. ‘highlights’ of Swansea.

    And then we have today’s awful performance, to add to those, so I would say this is a definite pattern or trend, the Ipswich game apart. So I’m starting to have some sympathy with fellow bloggers who are saying TP will get us nowhere, even though I thought all the criticism after previous games was premature and over the top.

    It’s very clear we find it difficult to break down teams that defend en masse and that we have little creativity. Not that Forest did park the bus, far from it. They were fluid and dangerous, and showed much more creativity than anything we had to offer. It does seem, though, that, after our season-opening burst, opposition managers have worked us out and have learned how to stop us.

    Here are a few observations from today’s game:-

    1) I agree that Stewy had the best game of all our players. I thought he constantly wanted the ball and was always seeking to use it effectively, especially with many of his crosses.

    2) George Savile? £7 million? Yer jokin arn yer? TP played him in the holding role again today, but he looked a fish out of water. Later on, when Besic went off, I expected him to play further forward, but he didn’t! It was almost as if he was shadowing Clayton! Not an inspiring performance today by any means. Let’s hope he has much more to offer.

    3) On the subject of the holding role, why didn’t TP start with Clayton today? He’s been excellent all season, and Boro looked a more effective outfit when he was restored to the side in the second half. He should be the first name on the team sheet!

    4) It’s all very well having a team full of giants, but when you ping across 36 crosses, many of them good ones, and you make hardly any effective use of them, it does make you question the wisdom of filling the team with monsters! It was the same at Hull. Our ‘expert’ set-piece merchants and aerial destroyers hardly won a ball in the box either last week or today. And when they did, they were either off target or were simply gobbled up by the keeper. TP says teams should take every opportunity to profit from set-pieces. Maybe, but currently we don’t do that well enough.

    5) Ditto, defensive headers. I lost count of the number of times today when a defensive header was aimed long rather than to a red shirt. I know you have to do it sometimes to clear your lines, but today more often than not we simply delivered the ball straight back to Forest.

    6) I am yet to be convinced by Hugill. At Hull he spent a lot of the time throwing himself to the ground, claiming to be fouled, or he was fouled or he was fouling the defender himself. We saw some of the same today. He’s a handful, clearly, but will he score the goals we need? I don’t think he had a shot or even a chance today. I haven’t yet seen him threaten the goal in any game.

    7) Why take off Braithwaite, our most creative player? I’m at a loss to understand that one.

    All in all, today was a thoroughly dispiriting experience. I think TP got the selection wrong, and I think the team lacked pace and intensity. Frankly, we were crying out for Lewis Wing or Marcus Tavernier. What we got was Gestede. And even his work was spoiled, as Flint just got in his way when TP sent him up front in the closing stages. Aaaaaaarrrrrrgggghhh.

    1. Good post, Clive. Sorry for you to see the match that I missed completely.

      I was choked to find the result. I did not even think we could lose at the Riverside. A draw was the worst I could ever have thought.

      So Pulis was furious for his team of potatoes. Pulis potatoes, I would add. Terrible.

      I think it is my role in here trying to be positive after a performance like that. Difficult after yesterday. But look, we have beaten the current League leaders by 3-0 this season. So we can occasionally play better than yesterday.

      Up the Boro!

  105. RR – thanks for a brilliant and very amusing report. I actually wrote my last post before I read your bit, but I think you can see that I agreed with everything you wrote! I loved your description of Hugill trying to play football from a prone position!

  106. Whilst I would not disagree that SD gave his all, how many of his dead ball kicks were effective…none.

    Corners…..poor. How many saves did Panta……or however you spell it, make? One from Braithwaite and one from Britt.

    Mr Pulis is talking rubbish when he says we had 36 crosses. Punts or kicks may be. How many were delivered with pace, accuracy or took out the defender. Very very few.

    We may not have the most balanced squad I accept, but TP is making a dogs dinner of what we have. As I said before he would cut his nose off to spite his face.
    And as Plato stated he would never admit he has made some wrong selections. No just continue, same old same results and blame your tools.

  107. I’d have to concur that was one of RR’s best ever match reports and probably his most amusing. From the drunken head tennis comparisons to Downing’s closest rival to MOM being the girl who served him the pint and managed to operate the till without any training at Rockliffe – and many other. Cheered me up after the disappointment of the woeful performance today.

  108. We have played twelve games now and the form table for the last six games has us in twelfth position and sinking. Eight points from our last six games isn’t play off form, far from it. It looks like we peaked during the first half dozen games more by chance than design and have been on the slide ever since. We all know the changes that have been introduced with the new signings and “loans” and the ongoing failure of the “Men only” policy.

    Now for a dose of harsh reality, Stoke, Birmingham and QPR are ahead of us in the last six game form table. yep thats correct QPR and Birmingham are on an upward trajectory while our seasoned masculine pros’ are dragging us down. Norwich was poor and a rude awakening, Bolton provided three points and a bit of a lift, Swansea was a bit dour, Hull was unforgivable, Ipswich was delusional because of the start and the gifted second goal effectively killing the game and even then we failed to convince and today was the epitome of everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

    The Officials in this division are poor but I’m sure they are poor for everyone and not just us. Blaming them is not unreasonable but a failure or unwillingness to see the Elephants in the room (or Donkeys on the pitch in our case) is avoiding the cause of the problem. MFC/TP/ Neil Bausor/Gary Gill/Steve Gibson/Garry Monk or whomever have brought in and/or retained players who have not improved the squad.

    Players from middling to struggling Championship sides have been recruited and I include Hugill in that as its clear that WHU have sussed they bought a Preston fluke fairly quickly. Saville is a lower Championship/upper League One footballer. Was Adam Forshaw worse than what we currently have? My views on selling Bamford are well recorded and I accept that we failed to bring in the Bolasie’s and Adomah’s but that doesn’t excuse the selection of some very mediocre and downright poor footballers when we have others who have shown to be better than what we have brought in at this level. The opening half of the season proved it especially at Millwall where the boys rescued the men.

    It can be no coincidence that our slide began when the expensive no mark loans arrived and now that we have Gestede supposedly fit again thats another one dimensional dilemma. I believe that TP believes he is doing the right things his way but as Mogga and AK found out fans eventually have enough and turn, Monk didn’t last until Christmas and if TP doesn’t get his head out of wherever it is right now he won’t be here much longer either as this slide will see us in the lower half of the Championship come Christmas. Its not just about today, as others have said there is a trend and its very clear to see when, where and with whom it started with. Most worrying is that it is worsening and I’m losing belief that the Manager actually sees it or at least accepts it (despite sound bites to the contrary). It takes a big man to admit he was wrong and to turn things around.

    After the break its away to the Owls which will be no easy fixture as both WBA and Leeds have discovered recently then home to Rotherham United, a huge banana skin if ever there was one and one that if he is not careful will be very difficult to recover from. A defeat away to Wednesday and a poor home result against Rotherham will see us ominously sliding away and down the table. We keep hearing about saving Steve Gibson’s money and running a tight ship well there are a few serious savings to be made in January unless there is a dramatic turn around in form and worryingly I can’t see it unless something changes and quick.

    1. RR, excellent summary of where the club is today. Not good reading at all and, what makes it worse is that there have been no glimmers of hope over the last six games.

  109. Pulls’ after match comments on the need for the strikers to start converting chances into goals did indeed sound like those of a frustrated fan.
    Unlike the majority of us former centre half TP has the opportunity to directly influence that process on the training pitch. And if he’s stuck, he can always call on the opinion of his number two, former centre half Sam Ellis, or if there is further doubt seek counsel from former centre half Jonathan Woodgate or for a bit of variety former full back Curtis Fleming.

    Now, I know that I am being more than a little reductive in implying that a coaching staff comprised entirely of former defenders will result in negative football (Pochettino disproves the rule) but it does make me wonder what if anything the management team can do to remedy our ills?

    Combine that with a dogged refusal to consider using the few players we have that are blessed with pace or positivity and it’s hard to see any grounds for optimism.

    On a separate note, can’t believe that Downing is receiving criticism on today’s performance. The only one worth his wages, and although his crosses came to nothing a fine example of the adage “the ball is only as good as the run”.

    1. Wiggy
      Every thing you say is music to my eyes, but, as a very poor team without strikers, we must use every opportunity to put the ball in the net( yes, I mean dead ball situations)
      Yes, downing had a good game, but he should never be allowed to take any dead ball kick now, whatever talent he had has left the premises long since.
      When we got our very early free kick, it was in my opinion, a second class penalty, and required a rocket shot on target and the keeper would have had trouble with it.
      To float a weak shot over the bar was criminal, and down to the manager, if we know the problem then he knows the problem, and should deal with it.
      We are in a most serious position, any idea that we could enjoy the comfort blanket of sitting in the top three all season without actually challenging for the top is now officially out the window. We will certainly not beat Shef Wednesday away. ( young Reach is doing well, the only very large player we produced from the Academy) we are pretty good judges of talent of course, one keeps forgetting that.

  110. It dawned on me that our most prominent attacking catalysts from last season, Adama and Bamford, first joined the club in the AK years.

    No harm in selling them for good profits, which we did – but who is supposed to inspire in their place?

    Seeing Joe’s Lolley pop sticky Boro and Forest Gateau the points by giving Boro their just desserts in a sweet victory for AK, who must have loved pudding us in our place, really takes the cake.

    It’s a gloomy Sundae. We couldn’t score for toffee. I donut know what to do next.

    At least we’re still 4th and three points off the top. So we’re not in truffle yet.

  111. Absolutely nailed the match report there RR one of your best.

    I especially liked the bit about Brit having another 3 clear chances at goal he might have actually put one away. Funny but depressingly true.

    So we’ve come to another pointless international break in a poor (relatively) run of form which is, imo, down to two reasons. Firstly the poor team selection of the manager in both the starting 11 and the bench and secondly too many seasoned pros (men) just not doing what they’re being paid to do.

    Yes we all have off days at work but for so many in a relatively small group to have them at the same time and with worrying regularity points to a deeper issue at the club.

    So what does TP do over the break to try and put this down turn right? Well not being able to watch Tavernier, Fry and Chapman won’t help as they’ll be away on international duty. But with his mindset and a Thatcher like ” not for turning” attitude I suspect they wouldn’t figure too highly on his list of priorities anyway.

    RR in his report said it was as bad a performance since the days of Strachen, who also lets not forget, and believe me I’ve tried bloody hard, thought that the way out of this division was by playing proper “men”. That worked out well didn’t it!

    Wiggy’s mate.

    Certain players will be criticized no matter what.

  112. Another disjointed performance from a disjointed team. Successful teams invariably play the same eleven, week in week out, only injuries and suspensions necessitate a change.

    TP should decide on his best team and stick with it. Unfortunately recent decisions would indicate he doesn’t yet know what his best team is.

    Here’s a tip for you Tony. Have a look at the team and formation in the games we have won.

  113. RR,

    A fine report about a game where the players Boro red tortured the home fans like the Spanish Inquisition. Some where in the coaching process ‘men’, professionals, experienced players, journeymen are being are being taught to play the footballing equivalent of dad-dancing.

    I’ve just dared to watch two and a half minutes of highlights and they were awful. The whole ninety minutes plus injury time must have been pure torture. Home supporters must have woken in the small hours sweating and panicking that they were going to be made to watch it all again.

    Once again a great report but sadly all about a a horror show.

    Muffin the Mule is not a criminal offence, as some graffiti wit wrote on the wall in a pub gent, but that kind of display should be.



  114. When I said lets move on that meant the club as well. The major lesson appears to be if you pick players lacking creativity you get little creativity.

  115. Thanks for a great match report (again) RR. I love your whimsical imagery which really does create for us not only how things look, but how they feel to you as well. Amusing, very, but it is sad that as well as being amusing, the similes are true.

    Two weeks to turn it around and lets hope that the executive management see the same as people reporting here and elsewhere and that in this time Steve Gibson will be having a word in TP’s shell-like.

  116. A great match report thanks RR. I sometimes wonder if you sit near me in the ground as you seem to consistently see it as I do!
    I liked the MOM bit with the girl on the concourse and would put the turnstile steward staff in 3rd place.
    We have other options as has been discussed before with Wing and Tav. I just don’t get why TP doesn’t have a space for at least one of them on the bench. At least if we go a goal down we can try something different

  117. I think yesterdays showing was more from the Carboniferous period than from the time of Dinosaurs. We are now regressing and at an alarming rate with our time and age obsessed Manager and Doctor Who he most certainly isn’t!

    Hopefully these two weeks have come at the right time this time and also quite a few of the Players can get away on International breaks to clear their heads along with TP.

  118. Great Report and yes we look like an old lumbering old Dinosaur.

    Reminds me of my old dog who would still try and chase cats but didnt have the pace or the guile to actually get close enough even for a sniff.

    Same old strategy, same result. Inevitable really. Candidates for this season’s Darwin Award!!

    The sad thing is it wasnt too much of a surprise and I didnt even feel disappointed or cheated. Just resigned to our fate.

    The stream was poor so I missed part of the match – although on that basis maybe MFC will be asking me for a refund as they had spared me 15mins of agony.

    Anyhow saw the dive and the red card which was the most entertaining moment of the match as far as I was concerned.

    Two weeks holiday now, so at least I will get some sailing in.

  119. Having now sobered up after drinking the pain away, I have read RR excellent report. Mrs BBD asked why I was laughing and I decided that explaining would be too hard as she already questions my sanity in watching Boro!

    The ability to put into words how most of us at the game probably felt was brilliant.

    We have too many Muffins on the pitch and whilst our league position is ok, we have dropped below the magical 2 points a game figure. And as others have rightly pointed out, our form is not great.

    TP was already getting his excuses in for after the break by saying that 10 players were away on international duty, potentially hampering his ability to work on strategy.

    Whilst the manager picks the team and works how how to play, ultimately it is the players who act on the pitch and their ability to pass balls, get in the right positions and defend was decidedly poor yesterday. They all deserve a kick up the behind and if I were TP, then I would play the kids as the team I saw yesterday was not fit for purpose. There were a few exceptions, Randolph had little to do, Downing played well and Clayton should have started.

    Braithwaite had a few moments of skill but wasn’t consistent, Ayala had a bad game and once he had been booked, didn’t really want to make any challenges. It was a stupid booking too.

    I am inclined to see what happens in the next game, both in terms of selection and players attitudes before becoming too despondent although I am tending towards the Mogga view of it is what it is!


  120. There must surely be a reckoning, this is not a poor display, it is a realisation that we have bought a job lot of journeyman players who are not fit for purpose, which is bad, but what is worse is persisting with them when we are used to something better.
    We must now have the young players in who took us to the top. Our (non) strikers must be consigned to the oblivion they deserve, and our good three man defence should be reinstated now, yes I am talking of Fry.

      1. Ghw
        The something better was pulling two goals back away from home, then going on a four match wining run, with a few youngsters scoring goals and playing well, not hanging on at the end of matches, feeling good about the team and the future. What we did not know was that our manager was stood there watching them and thinking “I’m not having this rubbish, it’s the road to nowhere”.
        What we did not know, was that he meant it, he did not have the decency to ride the good run until it ended, as any reasonable person would have.
        He did two things, removed the playmaker and the goal scorer from the side,( that brought a goalless draw, he then broke up his three man defence, ( to introduce his journeymen buys) it hasn’t ended well. Hands up those who think we will win at Wednesday, Reach to score anyone?

  121. A cracking report RR thank you on a dire Boro performance.

    Well the chickens really have come home to roost and whilst Ian is fond of reminding us that the table never lies it clearly does not tell the full story.

    I think many of us were not entirely surprised at what happened yesterday as we have been saying for some time that we were picking up points without really being convincing and that sooner or later it would catch up with us.

    The same old failings were highlighted and exposed yesterday with a lack of tempo, creativity and a forward line which is incapable of competing and delivering at this level.

    Apart from the Sheffield and Leeds games we have never really looked like a top two side. We did at Leeds but what has happened to the intensity and drive that we displayed that night it’s disappeared completely.

    As I see it the way forward is for TP to revert to a back three and stop tinkering with the formation. We have looked more comfortable playing that way and GF and RS look less exposed than when they are employed as full backs in a flat back four.

    We need to persevere with a settled front two of Braithwaite and Assombalonga,
    Gestede and Hugill offer nothing and ideally we should look to send him back to WHU in January but that may not be possible.

    Wing and Tavernier should be included in the match day team/squad and whilst I accept that their inclusion does not guarantee success it cannot be any worse than at present and early doors they were integral parts of the side.

    In January we need to rebuild the front end and introduce pace and creativity. Hugill, Assombalonga and Gestede need to be replaced if we are to have any hope of even making top six let alone automatic promotion.

    And whilst MFC are doing all that they need to sort out their streaming service!

    Depressed, angry and frustrated on the Costa Blanca 😡

    1. Good post KP. Unfortuanately I believe we have got Hugill for the season. We paid a one million lone fee and 100% wages to get the deal. As much as he is a Boro Boy, we wus robbed, and don’t mention Fletcher at 6/7 mil. Still at the moment I do not think the latter could be worse than those who are playing.

    2. I don’t think we have bad individuals but we need to get the team ticking and functioning.

      KP, you are right: “What has happened to the intensity and drive that we displayed that night (Leeds) it’s disappeared completely.”

      We get the intensity back. Let’s play the chaps who were to Austria in the summer. Also we should not only blame Pulis, the players need some kicking to the arse, too.

      Up the Boro!

  122. KP in Spain

    The table doesn’t lie, it shows we are now fourth, We are slipping after being joint top a few matches ago.

    The match was painful to listen too and as the match wore on it seemed to be a case of when rather if Forest scored. Redcar Reds top match report merely confirmed what I had listened to.

    TP can not be held responsible for every transfer dealing, ending the window with no pace is a serious indictment of our recruitment.

    We are stuck with what he have until January but that includes some spark and verve that isn’t making the matchday squad. I dont see enough live football but those who do wax lyrical about the players not making the 18 never mind the 11.

    We know that these payers ‘improve’ every time they dont play unlike the starters who appear to become more pedestrian every week.

    It must be worth giving those outside the 18 a chance.

    1. Ian

      The match was even more painful to watch and as you say it was a case of when rather than if Forest would score.

      I agree that TP cannot be blamed solely for the summer recruitment but he does appear to be wedded to those that have arrived as opposed to giving those that started the season a recall.

      As I said earlier, I can’t be sure that including Fry, Wing and Tavernier would be the answer to our prayers but I don’t believe they can play any worse and they do all offer different skill sets to the present incumbents.

      Despite the calls from some of us that they be included in the 18 I don’t see it happening quickly, if at all, regrettably.

    2. Ian
      I got the distinct impression that the shopping for players was at the request of this manager, I further think that it is down to his choice.
      I also think our very successful ( and profitable) recruitment under AK was down to AK.
      Very crudely, we ended up at least 60-70 million on his buying.
      Very crudely we will in the fullness of time end up with about 30-40 million loss after this man departs the building, that of course is if we cut our losses with a fond farewell. If we allow him to double up on his buying, then all bets are off.
      If we allow him to fund his buying with some selling, then watch out, because our best players will be put on the block, they will of course be following Traore, which was down to him, it is not a good scenario, because top of his list will be Fry, Wing, Tavernier, plus of course Chapman.

      1. Plato

        I jokingly said in an earlier post someone would blame TP for Traore’s departure and that he inserted the release clause in his contract whilst still manager at Crystal Palace.

        Adama’s sale was nothing to do with TP, he was powerless as were the club to stop him leaving.

  123. One wonders if the Army type training in Austria has had an adverse affect on Boro’s Dads Army. If as Pulis said we looked like a sack of potatoes, well Forest spread the condiment on it in their mustard coloured shirts. There may also be a contradiction in TP’s pre-match statement that ‘we must be patient’. Why? Does this manifest itself in the mindset of the players not to attack teams from the start especially when we’re playing at home where most home teams, even in this mediocre league, start on the front foot. Maybe be more circumspect when playing in the Premier League, but this is a league where almost anybody can beat anyone else. Are we trying to emulate Neil Warnock’s Cardiff who in my opinion are sure to be relegated? Why not try to emulate Wolves who have played with a settled side in the Premier League and will probably finish in the top ten? Or even West Brom who might concede a few goals, but certainly know how to make comebacks where necessary and play far more entertaining football than they did under Pulis?

    Ok, we didn’t manage to buy the players with flair in the transfer window, but that could be because flair players might think that they wouldn’t fit in to a Pulis environment. It was a bonus last season that we were able to score goals from set pieces, and nothing wrong with that, but when we tend to rely on that way of scoring other teams soon suss us out. Even Karanka has learnt how to get his teams to play a more attractive form of football, but he’s a young manager still learning, whereas Pulis is too old and stubborn to change his ways.

    I really thought that this league was there for the taking, but now have to admit it won’t be that easy when only 7 teams have scored fewer goals than Boro in this league. The fact that Clayton is needed to protect the defence shows that perhaps our concession of goals is our main priority in getting promotion, or perhaps our defenders are not as good as we might think. I know a lot of you rub your hands when Leeds or West Brom fail to win, but if we don’t solve our goalscoring problems by a change of formation, we might find ourselves looking at the results of Birmingham, Wigan and Millwall as we slide down the table.

    Finally, thanks to Redcar Red for his amusing but accurate report of yesterday’s match. It must be excruciating to have to not only watch, but also to give a report under such trying conditions. For that and other reports he should be nominated ‘man of the match’.

    1. Ken, you mention the benefits to Wolves of playing with a settled team and I agree it must be sensible, injuries permitting, to find a best 11 and run with it. The problem we have with that is that if Pulis picked his best 11 now it would most likely be a team full of journeymen without any creative spark. It would therefore get us nowhere.

      I have used also the example of Wolves before, not in the context of having a settled team, but rather with reference to the attitude they showed last season. They approached each game with a bit of arrogance, played like a big team with intensity and an absolute determination to win and thereby steamrollered their way to promotion as champions. Why can’t Boro follow that example?

      OK, Wolves had more creativity and firepower in their team than we have today but there is nothing stopping us showing the same attitude. Instead we turn up without the big team mentality and play in a negative, timid, almost apologetic manner with no intensity at all. As a result we are unconvincing and poor results have inevitably followed. A hell of a lot can be achieved with the right attitude and it is time we saw our team show it.

  124. The only reason I see the signing of Saville ,it was to replace Downing otherwise why have six or seven midfielder who are basically the same type, this is insane, none pass the ball forward enough, none can run pats players with the ball,
    What is going on? Shear madness.
    I think its fair to say if you spend ten times more plus wages than everyone else, and you struggle to even win the games you win, someone should pay the price, .

  125. Gary Lineker produced an interesting statistic on Match of the Day stating that Wolves became only the 6th promoted team to reach 15 points in their first season in the Premier League. Of course I knew Boro were one of those teams, but was intrigued to ascertain where each of those other teams finished the season and how many points they accumulated, so here are the respective figures for those interested :

    1994/95 Nottm Forest 20 points to 77 finished 3rd
    1992/93 Blackburn 17 points to 71 finished 4th
    2005/06 Wigan Athletic 16 points to 51 finished 10th
    1995/96 BORO 15 points to 43 finished 12th
    2008/09 Hull City 17 points to a mere 35 finished 17th

    Since then 4 of these teams have since spent a season in Division 1, only Boro and Hull haven’t. However the latter’s fall from grace (18 points from their last 30 matches) might be a salutary lesson for Wolves. It also depends on avoidance of the top six, although it must be said that they have earned creditable draws against the two Manchester clubs to date, so perhaps at least a top ten final position might be a realistic outcome.

    All this proves though is that a good start in the Premier League might be preferable, it also depends on the early fixtures. For the record here we’re Boro’s first fixtures in 1995/96 :-
    Away Arsenal who finished 5th 1-1
    Home Chelsea who finished 11th 2-0
    Away Newcastle who finished 2nd 0-1
    Away Bolton who finished 20th 1-1
    Home Southampton who finished 17th 0-0
    Home Coventry who finished 16th 2-1
    Away Man City who finished 18th 1-0
    Home Blackburn (Current Champions) who finished 7th 2-0

    Of course Boro extended that winning sequence away at Sheffield Wednesday who finished 15th 1-0 and QPR who finished 19th 1-0 to reach the dizzy heights of 4th before losing to Man Utd 0-2 on Bryan Robson’s return to Old Trafford as Boro manager. Happy days though!

  126. OK if we have to.
    I’m tipping boro management on a player
    Manuel Lazzari
    Plays for SPAL in Italy
    24 years old one cap for Italy
    A true right winger ,although can play wing back
    Very quick and can run with ball past defenders,
    His stats don’t look all that impressive ,but they are misguided as he brings other players in and his team are not that prolific ,
    Gets to the byline .
    There over to them.

  127. TP has made much in his recent press conferences of the impact the international call up will have on his squad.

    He has said that this will impact upon his ability to work with the squad during the break as we will be losing 10 players to international duty.

    He is, however, being a bit disingenuous as 5 of them are not involved with the match day squad at present.

    Paddy McNair has spent most of his time on the bench and as “team shaping” relates to the outfield players then you can also exclude Randolph from the numbers.

    This then effectively means the squad is only really down three players, Besic, Braithwaite and Saville.

    Sounds to me as if he is trying to get his excuses in early before the game at Wednesday and if the result does not go our way he will be pointing the finger at the international break as part of the reason for any failings.

    Is it just me or is there the start of rumblings of discontent beginning to appear? There was certainly an almighty row between Randolph and Ayala on Saturday following a suicidal back pass.

    1. It’s never nice to lose momentum during an international break, but it’s equally disappointing if it becomes apparent that the manager is using it as an excuse.

      The last paragraph, KP, unfortunately rings true. Is the once untouchable Dani, Dani Ayala showing his erratic nature again? I did notice that his control of the ball, or lack of it, set Lolley on his way to the goal, but to be fair, had our defence been organised enough to bail him out it wouldn’t have mattered.

      He’s probably missing the synergy of Gibson. Though considering that Chambers, Kalas and Omeruo were more capable of adapting to whatever partnership they played in, what does that say about him?

      Synergy’s always a great asset, no question. But it’s a more commendable player who can adapt and perform.

      1. Simon, Saville gave the ball away to start their attack, then Shotton did not get within a country mile of Lolley. Great shot, but no pressure.

      2. Ben Gibson was a ball playing CB who could play his way out of trouble, Aden Flint by comparison is more of a utilitarian CB like Ayala. When we played with the three CB’s Fry was the one who could control a ball and be comfortable with it at his feet plus there was Clayts the destroyer employed in front of them. Bereft of Fry and Clayts the pair looked clunky and awkward and very exposed.

    2. When those things start going wrong KP, the fingers strat pointing. Worse the harmony begins to fracture.

      Let’s be honest Wing and Tav and even Fletcher to a degree must be p****d off watching that lot perform. We are!!!

  128. Perhaps I would’ve preferred it if the sonic screwdriver had been made with Teesside, not Yorkshire, Steel.

    But she nailed it. Jodie Whittaker absolutely nailed it as The Doctor.

    She’s especially highly thought of in these parts for her memorable turn as the first Mrs Terri Hooley in Good Vibrations.

  129. According to the Yorkshire Post Hull City manager Nigel Adkins reckons Sheffield United, Leeds United and Middlesbrough will all be promoted this season. Having played all three teams lately he maintains that each team has a different style, but each one is capable of success. He doesn’t specify which of the three teams will be promoted via the playoffs. As his team are currently bottom of the Championship, perhaps he is trying to boost the morale of his own team who managed a solitary point from their last three games against his chosen hierarchy. I think he should wait until after his team have played West Brom on the 3rd of November before making such a bold prediction!

  130. Redcar, thanks for your humorous and very truthful match report.

    I had previously posted after the match and fortunatley it disappeared as it was more a rant than meaningful post, I was so disappointed and a little angry also at the insipid display and poor ream selection.

    Randolf and SD apart, nobody played well and earned their wages, including TP. Whilst I acknowledge Stewies contribution and 100% effort, I still have issues with the majority ofhis deliveries. His corners of which we had ten where generally poor and unless that is how he is being told to put them in, are not good enough. Plenty of crosses also from him, but I want to see him play some through balls for the front player(s) to run onto. Those are what Britt and MB require.

    I would also agree with KP that a back five would serve us best. George and Shotton are too vunerable when they are FB’s and against someone with pace. Ayala has looked nervy for a while and should be dropped.
    Clayton apart, who should of started after his enforced rest, the midfield have been poor with very little creative forward balls. As much as you can criticize the “strikers” the service to them is abysmal. When you think we are going to cough up 7 mil for an average Seville and nearly did the same for Besic, then someone in the recruitment department wants sacking. Other teams in the Championship have bought at least as good players for a fraction of the money. In fact how much Sheffield United spent on their whole squad??

    Mr Pauli’s appears to have ready made excuses lined up to cover for his failings. Yes I know it is down to the players performing, but it is also down to selection and tactics. There plenty of players not performing and have not done so for a number of matches. Drop them and put somebody else in their place. And not like for like, they have been just as bad.

  131. More on the value of synergy.

    (Aside: thanks, RR, for teaching me about this – and your match report, which really is one of your best.)

    I believe Mick McCarthy and Big Jack went for a chat on the beach once during a tournament. And – I’ll have to check this – I think that McCarthy was worried, before he went for that talk, about losing his place. That chat, I believe, was about who Jack should play at the back for Ireland. McCarthy told him: “If you check the stats, I think you’ll find me and Kevin Moran have been your best partnership.”

    I think that was Jack’s way of getting reassurance that he was doing the right thing, and the player’s way of being reassured of his place even though there might be a more technically gifted defender, like, say, David O’Leary, waiting in the wings.

    Jack was king of partnerships and synergy. Denis Irwin and Ray Houghton on the right, Terry Phelan and Steve Staunton on the left (previously, Steve Staunton and Kevin Sheedy), Paul McGrath (later Roy Keane) and Andy Townsend in the centre, McGrath and Babb/Kernaghan at the back… all while keeping faith in Packie Bonner for as long as he possibly could.

    If ever you needed one reason why Ireland thrived, mostly, from 1986-94, and struggled in Jack’s closing days, there was one reason. Also of course it wasn’t the only one.

    It’s why I struggle to read much of Keane’s first autobiography, ghost-written by Mr Dunphy. I think even Keane regrets writing the book now.

  132. Plato, re: AK, I would simply refer you to my piece about Eurocrats. And Len’s exceptional response to it.

    What was it? A Spanish coach, Italian style defensive play, Germanic efficiency… in front of a parochial English crowd. That final mismatch was the kicker.

    As, I think, Len implied, the arrival of the Eurocrat coaches coincided with football’s transformation from working man’s game to sports entertainment for the middle classes. That was the cause of much populist resentment.

    1. Simon
      On the subject of foreign coaches, I think that bird has flown.
      To recap, after seven years of torture(not an exaggeration ) we finally hired a foreign coach.
      We as a club stopped drifting. Period. As fans we found something happening on a weekly basis, we shed rubbish, we started buying players with their career before them, which made a change.
      meanwhile we as fans, changed our minds with each result (that’s what fans do)
      but the wheeling and dealing went on, buying and selling, making money on the deals( a lovely change) regardless of results, we were in the mix, and we went up, in spite of the players trying to stop the forward progress(amazingly they were not dispatched brutally) we came down, in my opinion we would have gone back up(minus the players who were rocking the boat) but by then we had reverted to an old worn out British manager, who of course regarded getting promotion as an enormous mountain to climb, to be achieved by old players with Many miles on the clock. It is not to early to say that he has failed, up the creek without the proverbial paddle, no idea, stuck in some method that worked ten years ago.
      if you wish to see what hell we are stranded in, reflect on this.
      never mind the Premier league, the Championship is awash with foreign managers
      all improving by the week, all full of ideas, and confidence, all having their teams going on the pitch to dominate, all having at least two very good young players in every week with no whining about being too young.

    2. Simon
      Whatever we think about euro coaches, whatever we think about tactics, whatever excuses we make for the success of the foreign coaches at the big clubs. (and, my god but they have had plenty) we are whistling in the dark.
      Because we had one! Loss leader,( that would be Fergie) we, and of course the London press, thought that it was only money, not the foreign coach, which delivered the goods.
      Exit Fergie, (No loss leader) and we find out who is swimming without a costume.
      I believe that they simply use the appliance of science, both to control and build a team, plus of course the game management necessary to get through the season. Combined with buying ( and selling) the fan has a happier life than watching the typical native manager, with his constant talk of ” the lads”, the truth is, they are not very good, hurtful, I know, but the truth.
      We are at this moment witnessing, not a dip in form, but a brutal reversion to the ultimate nightmare days of buying just anyone, without checking, allowing anyone to stay at the club after we have discovered that he will never play in the first team, never playing our young, then complaining that we never get a pleasant surprise by discovering an international for nothing.
      Consider the following, if this man is responsible for the signing ( and playing) of all the dross, then he is certainly responsible for the sale of Traore, believe, otherwise you have to believe two opposing things at the same time.

  133. Once again, a brilliant report from RR. Congratulations.

    Congrats also to the returning AK who sussed out that if you close down Besic quickly it nullifies what little creative threat we have. They won comfortably and should have been ahead long before Lolley’s excellent opener. Our reversion to long punts up to the ineffective Flint and Gestede was soul destroying, a pathetic spectacle given the millions that we’ve spent in comparison to most teams in this league, including Forest.

    Despite our lofty position I’m afraid the writing is on the wall for Pulis. Already defeats are being met with noisy derision with wins quietly explained away with reference to weak opponents. As we fall away to our correct position, Top 10 but nowhere near Top 2, I expect the crowd to turn. When winning ugly becomes losing and drawing ugly the fans will quickly lose patience and off Tony will pop. He was always an odd choice for a club whose fans felt starved of goals and entertainment and his refusal to move North suggests he is far from convinced that he’s the right fit. Expect a post Christmas departure with a face-saving “family reasons” get out. Taking Stoke back to the top flight after many years with functional football is fine but when you’ve witnessed the sublime talent of Juninho, Merson, Emerson, Barmby, Ziege, Viduka and even Bamford, watching Hugill falling over his own feet doesn’t quite cut it.

    1. Welcome back Paulista and good to read also.
      It will be interesting to say the least to see how it all unfolds. If the slide continues, which I believe it will, without Mr Pulis changing course with his team selections and tactics then as you said the fans will get restless and will make themselves heard.

      For a team that has been in the top two the crowds are not what they should be. Is that down the style of play?

  134. Along with my saying ‘the table never lies’ is the fact that there is a charge sheet with + and – for every manager.

    The tolerance for a manager is a fragile beast, in some cases even at a club with a chairman like Gibbo patience maybe in short supply.

    Monk had a lot of investment and soon was pushed on to the sword he fell on to.

    TP might be different because we keep hearing about all the money Gibbo spent and how it was wasted. Maybe he has a different agenda altogether.

    As ever, MFC is a democracy with one man, one vote. That one vote belongs to SG.

  135. Most of the fans on the Gazette site are already restless. Football is part of the entertainment business, and only the diehards will continue to attend matches without being entertained. Rarely have average attendances exceeded 20,000 at the Riverside to watch the Boro in the Championship. In fact in the eight seasons only 2015/16 and last season have exceeded that figure, strangely both in the Karanka years. Even in the 2011/12 season when Boro finished 7th the average attendance was only 17,558.

  136. I’m afraid the days of Juninho, Merson, Emerson, Barmby et al are long in the past. Any of them in today’s market would cost more than double Boro’s transfer record. It is more likely than not that we will not see their like in a Boro shirt again. A golden period of underachievement in the best Boro fashion.

    We can’t really compare what we have today with those days in the 90s and 2000’s. It wouldn’t be a fair comparison.

    We can, however, compare ourselves to clubs like Southampton, Leicester, Burnley, Watford, Bournemouth and several others who’ve come from behind and left us flailing in their gold-plated rearview mirrors. Many of those sides have done so playing some good football along the way.

    I like Pulis. I see him as an honest grafter, fitting for a no nonsense area like Teesside, and I think there’s far more to him then his reputation conveys.

    He’s not doing himself any favours at the moment though.

    I recall a few of us saying towards the end of the transfer window that we’d far rather risk a so-so season with the kids than bring in average experienced players in vain hope.

    Right now I’d be happy to see Hugill, Besic, Saville and Batth go back to their parent clubs, with Fry, Wing, Tav and Chapman replacing them.

    The loaners aren’t bad players – goodness knows we’ve had worse – but are they taking the club forward, especially considering the outlay on them? Value for money?

    Pulis, like ourselves, only wants players who want to play for the club. Well, I’m not saying these players don’t but those four youngsters have a lot more riding on it and I think we’d have accepted the inconsistency more easily had they been regulars.

    I understood the unchanged team against Forest, even if it wasn’t the XI we really wanted. The performance, however, was unacceptable and I think it provides the perfect excuse to make a bit of a statement and put a few “men” in their place. That place is the stands or at best the bench.

    Over to you, Tony.

  137. It’s been said that historically attendances have been proportional to playing style.

    I seem to remember the Riverside was half full (or half empty, take your pick) for an FA Cup tie at home to Manchester United! The champions! That was in 2002… and we won the match 2-0 with late goals from Whelan and Campbell.

    You would have thought a home game against the Champions would attract a bigger crowd. We’ve attracted bigger crowds when non league teams come to town.

    So what was the catch?

    The fans were bored that year. Not so much by style of football alone, I think, as by the trajectory of the season – going nowhere. More than that, the game was on TV. So they preferred to save their hard-earned money and watch it in the pub.

    The European attendances were even more underwhelming. 9,000 roughly for Litex Lovech. I believe even Basel could “only” bring in around 24,000.

  138. Tony Pulis is saying that the club is more united now than when he first arrived. From academy and medical staff to the board level. That sounds good.

    He said: “As long as you’ve got everybody pulling in the right direction, hopefully you’ll pull through that (bad results)”. Tony was talking about the people at the club.

    I would also like to extend that to the fans and crowd at the Riverside. We all must keep supporting the team and club. We are together in here to reach the promised land that is the Premier League.

    Diasboro, too. Up the Boro!

    1. Its a strange claim to make or perhaps just the timing of it is strange. Its the type of exclamation we here from Managers who know they are a busted flush and yet I don’t think TP is anywhere near that stage of his Boro tenure. It has given me a Hmmmmmm moment however.

      I can’t believe unity is where he claims it is at. Perhaps it is his perception of unity based on how people behave in his immediate vicinity but if I was Wing, Tav, Fry and even Fletcher watching the inability of more than one or two players getting a start let alone a place on the bench then I would certainly not be experiencing a feeling of brotherly love.

      1. I tend to think Pulis is quite honest what he talks about.

        We might get a bit carried away with one result. I mean Tav and Wing have played some matches this season – be it League Cup or substitutions from the bench – and while the last result was a defeat, the team was joint top just three days ago. So when a team is topping the division points wise (and winning hopefully), the fringe players cannot really complain.

        I feel for Fry, though. He has been exceptional when ever called up and he should be playing. But again we have room for only two centre backs if we play the flat four in defense. And Ayala and Flint have been awesome until last Saturday.

        I think Ayala knows he will be dropped if he is having a similar match versus Wednesday week on Friday. I don’t think he will be dropped yet but he knows he must improve also.

        The youngsters are getting more chances now than Karanka ever gave, I think. I agree with most that Tav and Wing must be included on the bench as they are different players what we have. But I think the managers think differently and might like to have a similar player on the bench if some one is injured and the team is performing like he planned during the week.

        That said, I would like to see more local players used. Like we had Proctor, Hodgson and Johnston in the late 1970’s. But they must be good enough, too. Up the Boro!

      2. I agree it is easy to be overly critical after one very poor performance but the decline has been for the last six games. Coincidentally we seem to have averaged more points with Wing and Fry in the side (or so it seems because admittedly I haven’t checked game by game) in the early “settling in” stage of the season than since the new signings/loans arrived.

        For Besic, Saville, Hugill read Harrison, Baker, McEachran, Nimely, Miller and a huge long list of others in recent Boro History. Besic may rediscover his form towards the latter half of last season but so far apart from a few cameo runs and flicks he has flattered to deceive. Saville is what he is and it not his fault but certainly doesn’t look an upgrade on what we already have and the less said about Hugill the better it took West Ham 20 minutes to figure that out.

        TP seems to be backing himself into a corner by persisting with those players who have recently arrived, presumably with his agreement and blessing. To drop them and go back to what he had already at his disposal (never mind what was disposed of especially in the case of Bamford) would ask huge questions on his decision making and confidence in his position. That to me seems to be the foundation for the “unity” talk in the hope that we believe and buy into it. Fans can smell unity and see it with their eyes just as we could or more accurately couldn’t with AK despite protestations to the contrary with players being wheeled out to spout spin.

        If the loans all come good and we now go on a run with Saville and Besic banging goals in and Hugill hitting hat tricks then fair play to him and them. Watching what I have seen lately and the appalling tactical disaster that unfolded and then wasn’t addressed on Saturday asks a really big question in my mind and it looks to me like the answer isn’t unity but digging a hole that could get a lot bigger if he isn’t careful. It could be a tipping point to the springboard of success or the early signs of something that is destined to fail.

  139. Yesterday Rugby League announced its annual awards, the most prestigious being the now named ‘Steve Prescott Man of Steel’. For those unfamiliar with Steve he was a great player who after retirement and knowing he had terminal cancer did a lot of charity work in the form of half marathons before his demise. Quite rightly the RFL named their top award after his demise.

    This struck a cord for me about Ali Brownlee as we approach the third anniversary of his passing next February. Ali also did a lot of charity work, and although not a former Boro player, was Boro’s greatest supporter and epitomised the Teesside area now bereft of its steel industry. Wouldn’t it be fitting at the season’s end at Boro’s awards ceremony to rename the player of the year as ‘The Alistair Brownlee Boro Man of Steel’? Just a thought.

  140. Ken

    I like the idea of an Alistair Brownlee award as long as it isn’t ‘The Alistair Brownlee Boro Man of German Steel’

    I still get narked our stadium used German Steel.

    1. Ian

      I believe that when it as put out to tender the then local steel producing companies couldn’t fill the order in the required time frame. That’s what I was led to believe.

      Even if true it does stick in my craw somewhat!

  141. I know we do not what goes on in training, and I can only say that the present first team eleven incumbents most be pulling up tree stumps during the week. And of course Redcar you can add McNair to your list of “not been happy” watching the dross out on the pitch. Remember he was our first midfielder signed and we went back after the first negotiations broke down. I assume MFC and Mr Pulis wanted him??
    So the question is how come he has not been given a chance when others similar to him have performed poorly?

    Jarrko, I would drop Ayala, but I do not think TP will. Unfortuanately when he said to him, when you fit you will play. Nothing about playing poorly. Fry is better than Flint at the back. In the opposition box may be not, but then how many goals has Flint scored to date?

  142. I’ll simply build on what I talked about in an earlier post.

    Results *can* be enough – if the manager gives the fans the impression that he is leading the team on their way to something new, something special. Or building something that excites and unifies them.

    Under AK, I got that – at least until the toxic split became public knowledge in his final year. I suppose, back then, that I was fighting a battle not so much to support AK, but to quell the flames that were building up on both sides of a divide. Between the side behind the manager, and those who battled for the inclusion of players who weren’t involved or thought to be out of favour.

    It was like Mogga’s final year taken up to another level entirely. Many of us will remember Scott McDonald moaning and missing chances in performances not proportional with the relative wage he commanded. Others will say he was naughty stepped, played out of position, didn’t take penalties and yet still scored more than everyone else. Me, I think BoroPhil (where is he now?) made a good point at the time when he argued that the only time Scotty really performed in 2012-13 was immediately after he came back off the naughty step. Probably because he’d been reminded that “we’re not relying on you and you alone for goals anymore – if you want a place, you’ll have to earn it”. Even if that meant playing second fiddle to Ish Miller. As for Nicky Bailey, well… remember Mrs Bailey and Granny Bailey on Twitter?

    To this day I regret getting involved – in fighting both Mogga’s* and AK’s cause, at least until AK lost it completely after 2017 rang in. But, like everyone, I was hurting. That’s my only explanation.

    *I still remember writing a blog slating the players after the 2-0 loss to Wednesday in May 2013. Seeing Mogga’s face after that match was too much to bear. He was apparently quoted as saying, post-Barnsley, that “I tell them (defenders) to head the ball… they won’t… what are you supposed to do about that?”

  143. Anyway. I got sidetracked.

    Back to 2001-02, and I have memories of the atmosphere being a lot better when Villa came to town. Steve McClaren had made a shrewd loan signing, one Benito Carbone – both he and the late Ugo scored against their old club in a 2-1 win that ended with the heartwarming sight of a future England manager punching the air. (No, not McClaren.)

    I just checked – that game commanded an attendance of 26,003, almost 9,000 more than our cup triumph against the Red Devils.

    So what was the difference? The quality of the football? Not necessarily. I think it’s safe to assume that before the United match, we just didn’t feel like we were going anywhere. We were in danger of getting sucked into a relegation battle and my guess is that the fans didn’t fancy a likely cup elimination with such uninspiring fare in front of them. That, and it should be noted that it took an absolute howler from United to gift Whelan the opener.

    Prior to Villa, we’d won two out of three and were in a cup semi-final. The Villa win took us into the top half too. I think that was the moment where fans thought, “yes, our new manager can take us places after all, and he seems to have clicked with the club.”

    (Sadly his dalliance with the Dirties wasn’t too far away. A double dalliance with Toon Town, first with Boro, then with Derby, showed he hadn’t learned his lesson – in public, it really helps if you keep your players, or fellow players, and fans onside. Juninho recognised that.)

    But where was I? Ah, yes. The *feel* of progress.

    Everyone who judges Ireland on football and football alone in Italia ’90 *knows* the fare was dour. And that Ireland didn’t win a game. Yet how many of the public cared? It was a wonderful journey. In a competition Ireland had never taken part in before.

    Contrast with Boro in April 2015 after a 2-0 win over Rotherham keeps our promotion alive. The win’s routine, it’s not particularly exciting – but, you know what? Victories are victories and we were still in the hunt for a top two spot. That, to me, was what counted.

    Yet, as the (much missed) Paul noted back then, reading some of the comments on UntypicalBoro, you would have thought Boro were fourth bottom, not fourth top! A similar feeling still applies today. I mean, sure we lost to Forest at home – but the table says fourth and three points off the top.

    I would gather, back then, that the uncomfortable feeling of being put in our place by crushing defeats at Bournemouth and Watford really hurt. A reality check had tampered with the dream and I now sense that no matter how many we won after that, the feeling of “nearly but not quite” that has lingered with Boro for so long may have occupied our minds.

    It could be a Boro thing, going back years. When we’re not under pressure (Arsenal A, 2016), or when we’re allowed to take control and have our way in a game, we can beat anyone. When we’re losing to even a more limited side (say, Cardiff in 2008) who sit back, keep their shape and pick us off, we can look like a bunch of strangers who’ve no idea what to do.

    Similarly… are we possibly hurting now from being put in our place by an AK side, of all teams? Who actually played the football we longed for in the PL but (Arsenal A excepted) generally didn’t get?

  144. Increasing family commitments mean that I struggle to find time to read the blog, let alone post, so this is a quick visit as I owe Werder a few “the usuals”, although that does not do him justice as he just keeps raising the bar. Thanks also to RR for accurate and entertaining match reports. To all the regulars: keep posting and I’ll try to keep up.
    In my absence, RR and KP invariably put forward my viewpoint, so take it as read I agree with them.

  145. Simon, I am not sure it is just a Boro thing although the typical Boro phrase has been around for long enough (at least 50 years of my memory) to have some justification.

    I imagine fans of other teams have a similar take on their teams performances at times?

    You make some valid points and as for Cardiff in 2008, well words still fail me and the way we did not turn up when Wembley was calling.

    Us supporters can be very fickle and I include myself in that view. Yes we will scream at the players to play better and they cheer them when they score, same with managers, very quick to dismiss them when things aren’t going well.

    That said, we can only comment on what we see and we do not see or what is said behind the scenes. That may give a very distorted view or maybe not, when we can all see basic errors being made. Easy to be critical from a distance.

    However, given how much the players and managers are paid, we, perhaps, have a right to be critical. I suspect that if the internet existed back in the day when players were not as well remunerated as they are now, then we would be more forgiving. I also suspect that the players were more committed to and prepared to put the effort in.

    Football is big business now, every little thing is analysed to death and don’t get me started on the press and the constant need to fill space with stories which can verge on the fake news………..

    As someone alluded to earlier, there is no way that Boro and SG can compete with the vast amounts of money available to the big clubs and for me, I am not sure that I would want that. I am more than happy to see us a small team in Europe, plying our trade as an honest club with small successes from time to time rather than a club that buys success at all costs.

    Mind you, then I want to be entertained which Is not the style of TP. If we can’t win, then at least try and show intent. That was not visible on Saturday and again, why have an academy if the players do not get the chances.

    What would I do from the comfort of my sofa?

    Based on what I have seen so far this season then it would be to play Fry rather that Ayala and make sure that Wing and Tav were at least in the match day squad to come on as required. Same with Chapman and Baker possibly.

    Surely, McNair is a better option than Saville and Somehow, I would be wanting to motivate the rest of the team to start to perform and not keep on making basic errors.I would also let Gestede go in January and not replace him.

    It is only a game after all and it is what it is!

  146. I think re: Cardiff we simply froze. As with Wembley in 2015, we had the stuffing knocked right out of us by an unexpected and relatively quickfire double from the team that wasn’t supposed to score.

    Doesn’t make it any less painful.

    1. Cardiff 2008 still makes me proper angry and it’s a feeling I’ll take to my grave. There’s still a bottle of champagne sitting behind the bar in The Lobby that I’d promised the lads I’d buy after we’d got past Cardiff.

  147. Thanks to OFB and DW for another informative article on one of our best manager’s imo.

    He clearly laid the foundations for JC’s promotion wining team.

    In my early teens I wrote to Stan, when he was Manager at Boro, suggesting that he played certain players in certain positions.

    I received a very nice response thanking me for my suggestions and advising that he would give them some thought.

    My parents were quite shocked when a letter arrived with the MFC logo and address on the envelope and wondered what I had been up to!

    1. KP, perhaps you should write to Pulis now. Please mention Wing and Tav as subs at least.

      I, too, remember getting my first letter from the club. I felt so pround. Also they had my details published in a match programme as I was looking for some pen friends in 1979 or 1980.

      Great club. Wouldn’t switch it to Man Utd, for sure. Up the Boro!

  148. OFB and Doug,

    Thank you for that. Stan was a silky smooth class act and what would he be worth now? Crass to say that in a way but he never got the recognition for what he achieved a vastly underestimated talent. My wife (to be) met him at the game when Boro were promoted back to Division 2. Charming, polite and prepared to spend time talking to us in the chaos of the post promotion atmosphere and celebrations.

    I do remember a steely hard side though. An opposition forward player had been dishing it and when play moved to the far end of the field the ‘debate’. Stan just chinned him, I couldn’t believe it. The ref and linesman missed it but it got a good cheer from the Boro fans who saw it.

    Jack was right Stan left some good players for him.

    God bless him. A real loss.



    1. PS Note to self.

      I must stop using my iPhone. Keys way too small and fingers to big. Write out 100 times “I must eradicate spelling mistakes and missed words and turn off the spellcheck too”



  149. During the boring international breaks, wouId it not be possible for Boro to play a couple of games behind closed doors and have a good look at some of the players etc

    1. Braveheart,

      Too simple and too obvious.

      After all you could play some of the kids so that they could learn about static midfields, sideways passing and hitting the keeper with every ball from our seasoned pros and they could also absorb some of their vast pool of experience. Or you could have a tattoo workshop.

      I hate the international breaks. They just break up the season.



  150. Stan Anderson thrived at Boro before I was born, of course, but I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read about him. Seems like a genuinely great guy with a passion for how he felt the beautiful game *should* be played.

    In fact, I’ve saved one of his quotes for my next Talking Point.

    Great work Bob.

  151. It definitely hurts less when you haven’t paid for a ticket.

    I remember the numbness I felt after Boro 0-1 WBA. And that WBA side was bossed by Mogga and had Brunt, Morrison and Ish Miller in it.

    That WBA team finished behind Boro despite taking six points off us. By all accounts WBA 3-0 Boro may well have been Southgate’s Barnsley had Gibbo been able to find a suitable replacement.

  152. Thanks OFB for organising another great story from Doug´s memory box.

    Stan Anderson always appeared to be a Gentleman, a good player and a decent Manager a Boro. Built the nucleus of a team that Big jack honed to perfection and ran away with the League 2 Title. Unfortunately Mr Anderson was to be remembered as nearly getting Boro close to promotion, but not achieving it.

    One for Ken……in his years as Boro manager, what position did we finish in those seasons and our highest position during each one??

    1. Pedro de Espana
      Just look up the Diasboro Links on this page Ken Smith’s Boro History and then The Stan Anderson Years for all the information on Stan’s reign as Boro Manager for all the information you require.
      Briefly though:-
      1966/67 2nd in Division 3 – 55 points/46 matches
      1967/68 6th in Division 2 – 46 points
      1968/69 4th in Division 2- 49 points
      1969/70 4th in Division 2 – 50 points
      1970/71 7th in Division 2 – 48 points
      1971/72 9th in Division 2 – 46 points
      1972/73 4th in Division 2 – 47 points

      All matches in Division 2 from 42 matches (2 points for a win)

      1. Thanks Ken,

        Now that’s consistency alright.

        I remember Mr Anderson saying in reply to a question about, and I paraphrase, ‘what is promotion form?’. His answer, ‘win at home and a draw away’.

        That was in the days of two points for a win and one for a draw.



  153. Big Jack *was* Stan Anderson at Sheffield Wednesday. I think they twice came close to promotion to the top tier under him but narrowly missed out. I think his immediate successor Howard Wilkinson then finished the job.

  154. Many a manager’s legacy is defined in later years by the players they leave to their successor. Stan left good players to Jack, John Neal took over Jack’s squad and opened them up, Willie McFaul had a young, emerging Gazza to work with once Jack walked out of Toon (hurrah!), and the generation of young Irishmen who played under Mick McCarthy had grown up believing that Ireland should be at international tournaments – thanks to Jack.

    Aitor benefitted from Mogga’s leftovers. We also broke even or profited on most of the Aitor players, giving us good money for new recruits, while Aitor “leftovers” such as Adama and Bamford excited us last season. Fry, who had a baptism of fire under AK, and Clayton, playing his best football for us yet, are key men today.

    Monk? Randolph of course. And, I suppose, Braithwaite and Britt.

  155. Thank you, OFB and Doug. Saved our 1st week of boring international week. I hope Doug reads the blog, too.

    I rate Anderson more as a manager as I have read and heard about him a lot. He became our boss when I was five and he left just before I become a fan.

    But he built the base for Jack’s success. Like Mogga did for Aitor, but I think Anderson was better.

    Up the Boro!

    1. When Stan was the manager of Boro was when I fell back in love again with Boro, ”just being married so other things on the mind” the first time was when Alan Peacock started to play for the Boro and followed them till I got married in 1961. So I have got a lot to thank Stan for? All the forward line reminded me of the Alan Peacock/Clough/Day/Mclean/Holiday days,So it is thanks to Doug for more insights into the man Himself.

      1. Many thanks Ken

        Doug enjoys doing them as it keeps his interest going in Football.

        He hasn’t been too well lately (he’s 87) but is now on medication and getting better.

        If you would like him to comment on one of the great footballers in particular please let me know and we’ll have a look at it.

        That applies to any of our bloggers if they would like a diary extract for a particular player

        Thanks to all for the comments.

        It’s all Doug’s work I only ask the questions !

        Werder works his magic on it and also adds the Photos for which I am very grateful

        This is a great blog and Werder Redcar Red and Simon together with the regular bloggers have seen it go from strength to strength


        1. Hi, Bob, I wonder if Doug has any stats on Alan Peacock? He was and still is a big idol for me, as a local lad ” North Ormesby ” I was at the same school as him two years below him at Lawson St Secondary Modern School. And when there I thought he represented England at schoolboy and youth level? Then at under 21/B/ then a full cap as Ken has written about. I was under the impression he was 1 of a few who represented England at every level I think Terry Venables was another. Anyway, I got into many disputes over who was better Clough or Peacock and the nickname my Grove Hill mates? Give Peacock
          ”Mary” thanks OFB

          1. I have passed your email over to Doug for comment

            I see Alan Peacock at every home game and have tried in conjunction with Redcar Red to get him to come out for a beer and a chat. He lives in Carlton near Stokesley but always seems to have a full Diary.

            On a matchday Allan is very busy as he does tours behind the scenes for corporate parties

            Alovely man


  156. The Gazette reports that Boro will use the international break primarily to work on the players’ fitness. If true, that is a worrying misdiagnosis of the team’s relative slump in form.

    It also begs the question as to how successful the pre-season trip to Austria was, if the most important thing for the squad is already improving fitness levels.

    I appreciate that some squad members are missing and that that may impact some other work but I would have thought that passing, movement, interplay and finishing were the major concerns.

    1. At least we will be able to run around a lot more and still be able to do those wrong things but at an even quicker pace and get more of those things done wrong during each game after the break!

      Maybe we could just practice taking corners and set pieces but that would need the likes of Downing, Gestede, Hugill, Ayala, Flint, Howson, Shotton, Friend and perhaps even Wing who of course will all be away on International duty or there again maybe not?

      1. Problem with that Redcar is that from what I have seen, Wing takes the best dead ball kicks. So if he isn’t playing, pointless exercise.

        One thing I will ask though is: When Flint was at Bristol, he was like have an extra “striker” in terms of goals scored. So the question is, why is he not scoring those goals for the Boro? How many has he scored to date….one is it?

      2. I think we should get the intensity back. That has really been lacking since the previous International break. As Ian often says, no matter the formation if the tempo or effort is not there. UTB!

  157. It’s all about creating the opportunity, Pedro, the build up and the final delivery. If you don’t have that you don’t have the goals no matter how good your best goal scorers are at scoring goals.

    1. Exactly Powmill. Mr Pulis bemoaned the fact that we had 36 crosses into the Forrest box. I will believe him as I wasn’t counting. And yet NO goals from them.

      Why…because in the main, they were rubbish. No pace, nothing different from the by-line, just mono paced floaters. Near and drink to a half reasonable defender.

      And continually failing, do we try somebody different, something different. No same standard cross, same result. NIL

      Plato would no doubt remind us of the time that finally TP used Traore to take the corners. Result…..assisted goals.

      1. A rap on the knuckles for me from Doug

        He was reading the blog and saw my post about him being 87.

        He was rightly quite indignant when he reminded me he was only 86 my apologies Doug.

        We’ve been talking about our next project and another of his good mates is Craig Johnson so watch this space.


  158. Yep. Good to hear about Wing. Now, the Wing debate.

    It’s similar to the Adama debate in 2016-17. You could argue that he’s not “ready yet” and that relying on him would hamper Boro in that they would be more reliant on an individual and less on the whole of the team for goals.

    On the other hand, when he’s the biggest hope we’ve got for creativity, you understand fans’ frustrations. And sooner or later people will want to stop hearing that the team are “about” to come good.

    1. Simon
      The Traore debate did not end well, he was shuffled out of the club by the back door. In fact on consideration, the club were less than open about the whole affair.
      He seems to have been a special person , at least that was the opinion of any supporter who was fortunate enough to come into contact with him.
      Without going too deep into it, he was very friendly and open, thought nothing of giving out shirts to all and sundry, and was always available and approachable, with a smile. We found out about all this by people talking out of turn. ( strange)
      Considering that poor old Wolves did not have the readies to meet the release clause, one would have thought that the club would have said, thank you and goodbye, do not ring us , we will ring you( not).
      in view of the above I am forced to the conclusion that these people wanted to sell our most precious player, and the whole story was a charade from start to finish.
      We are forced to the conclusion that they will sell the club cat if an offer comes in.

  159. On the other hand there was this gem, from AV…

    “Everybody knows that when you are out of the team you get better by the week.”

    That was in Mogga’s time! When people were demanding Adam Reach played, despite being injured (they did the same with Leadbitter at the start of 2016-17)… and then there was Scott McDonald.

    The only conclusion I can draw from this is that when we’re that starved of something to shout about or believe in, we will latch on to any sign of hope as a possible saviour.

    1. Simon,

      Quite right, when you are desperate for some creative spark you want to grasp the straw that makes you feel better. Boro do seem to treat some of their players like enigmas, just giving us a tantalising glimpse of what they’re capable of then they’re gone again to continue growing or becoming men. It’s a bit like children and best clothes, hardly worn and then they don’t fit.

      It’s a philosophy I don’t understand but then as a fan I never will, maybe Mr Pulis sees these players as a work-in-progress that is never finished. Well not until they move to another club.



  160. Simon

    The Adama conundrum.

    Get rid, waste of money, I will personally drive him there, never get any money back.

    Fancy TP selling him, obviously doesn’t fit his style of play, fancy TP putting a release clause in his contract.

    Fans are like actors from the olden days with those two sided masks. We can change our stance in an instant.

  161. It dawned on me that despite Beck and Ravanelli being our first choice strikers in *that* season, with, hmm, 42 goals between them, we arguably played most of our best football at Old Trafford when neither was on the pitch.

    1. Simon
      That’s thirty seven games compared to one game, hhhm! Not sure that computes.
      On the subject of players out of the team, being injured or rubbish, or naughty stepped. The thing is, for any of that stuff to be worthy of comment a couple of things are required. One, the players in question need to have been poor when on the pitch, two, the players entertaining us on a weekly basis need to have been playing well and scoring goals(always a good thing) And of course winning matches. None out of three is not good. Now, all is not lost if the manager covers his back side by, oh, I don’t know, maybe puts the missing players on the subs bench, but no, he does not feel in any danger of joining the host invisible at Sandbanks, well not enough to offer an excuse for the empty bench. I think even those who can squeeze the logic and discern a really good reason for the five centre backs would appreciate him utterly destroying all the doubters by a dazzling expose of reasoned debate as to why these missing players will be much improved when they join their next club.

  162. Massive fee*, massive wages*, moaned a lot, missed chances that could have taken us even higher…

    Fabrizio Ravanelli, or Scott D. McDonald?

    *Relatively, of course. Nowadays £3.5m to £7m in fees and £27k-42k wages is small change to most big clubs. For RobboBoro and MoggaBoro, it was a lot. Especially for the latter.

    1. Chris
      Yes indeed, and where is Fry now,? Watched him last night, majestic. Also watched the Fulham lad at full back, 18, plays every match for his club, and will not be dropped because he is too young, we must be the dumbest and worst run club in the country. What is the name of the time expired veteran we imported to take his place? The names change but the blunders don’t .

  163. Reverting to the Stan Anderson years, Boro would have reached the playoffs in four of his years as manager even if there had been 3 points for a win in those days.

    Interestingly in 1967/68 Ipswich Town were Champions, but they included many draws and would have only finished 3rd and would have played 6th placed Boro, the winner to meet Birmingham or Portsmouth in the Final. In the League Boro lost 0-2 at home to Ipswich but won 2-1 away.

    In 1968/69 4th placed Boro would have played 5th placed Cardiff, the winner to play Charlton or Huddersfield in the Final. In the league Boro drew 0-0 with Cardiff but lost 0-2 away.

    In 1969/70 4th placed Boro would have played 5th place Swindon Town, the winner to play Leicester or Sheffield United in the Final. In the league Boro drew 0-0 at home to Swindon but won 3-0 away, so maybe their best chance of a Wembley Final at the time.

    Finally in 1972//73 Boro would have actually finished 5th instead of 4th on goal difference, but in any case would have played Bristol City, the winner to play Aston Villa or Sunderland in the Final. In the league Boro won 2-1 at home to Bristol City and drew 1-1 away, so possibly another good chance to reach the Final. Incidentally Villa beat Sunderland 2-0 at home in the league and drew 2-2 away.

    So Stan Anderson could have conceivably got Boro promoted before Jack Charlton did. One wonders then if we might never have witnessed the Charlton years.

  164. Thanks to OFB and Doug for a very interesting insight into the man who was Boro manager when my dad first took me to watch the Boro. Every article I’ve seen and heard only had good things to say about Stan Anderson which shows the high regard in which he is held whether you live on the Tees, Wear or Tyne. Or anywhere else for that matter.

    Interesting to see that Wing has signed a new contract to the end of he 20/21 season. Cynical Boro fan that I am suspects that is so we can ask for more money when we sell him in January. Or it could be TP sees him as a crucial piece in the promotion jigsaw? Yeah right😀

  165. FAA , according to the MFC website Wing has signed a new contract until 2022, in my reckoning that is a 4 year deal, what length of deal would you want not to be cynical ! Watching him speak on the MFC website, he seems to accept that he has a lot to learn to be a regular in the first team.

    The trouble with people that build the young lads up because of a couple of appearances is that when they finally get to play regularly in the first team they do not live up to expectations because they have not got the consistency and their “fans” turn against them. As a number of people have stated, players get better and better each match they don’t play. I will always leave it up to the professionals to decide when to play them in the first team.

    Come on BORO.

    1. I don’t think anyone is stating that Lewis Wing is the finished article, but not to have him on the bench when we’re struggling to break teams down to my mind is criminal. Why do we buy players then play them in the wrong position is almost akin to Eric Morecambe telling Andre Previn that he was playing all the right notes but not particularly in the right order?
      I’ve also read comments that Dael Fry is inexperienced. Admittedly he’s young, but hardly inexperienced. He would be my first choice over Ayala or Flint in defence, reminds me of Garry Pallister and a certainty not only to captain Boro one day, but possibly England too in the future.

    2. exmil

      We all know that if a player wants a move, or a club wants to move a player on the length of any contract becomes pretty much irrelevant. With Wing I see it as a reward for his progression within the club and good on him.

      His comments on the website are what I would expect from a player in his position and I don’t mean that in a back handed or patronising way. He seems very level headed and knows what he has to do to improve.

      I’m not one for turning against inexperienced players, as Wing is at this level and as you point out consistency is an issue. I would definitely like Wing to kick on and be a mainstay of the midfield until at least the end of his new contract. If he’s not getting those first team opportunities then I suspect he may move on sooner rather than later.

      Of course we leave it to the professionals to pick whoever they see fit, that’s what their job is and ours are just opinions on who we think should play and in what position. That’s what makes a good debate/friendly argument, different points of view.

      As for my cynicism well that’s just me.

      1. FAA
        The manager gets to pick the players he wants, and the fans get to sack him after the suffering becomes too much. That applies to all clubs.
        It is interesting to see that people here are implying that Wing and Tavernier are inconsistent, I wish our present heroes would show a bit of that inconsistency, unfortunately they are very consistent, consistently awful.

  166. I think the debate about Wing is based more upon his “assists” which was higher than anyone else in the squad despite being dropped for the big money buys/loans and missing several games as a consequence. Its doubtful that he is the finished article yet but at 23 he needs to be given a chance to prove or disprove. Watching the ineptness (repeatedly) of those that have subsequently replaced him and the goals dry up (along with points) as a consequence is what fuels the support for Wing. Had he remained in the side he may have waned and looked out of his depth but he wasn’t given that opportunity and those that have haven’t impressed.

    The same debate is also true regarding Fry, with him in the team we looked more solid with three at the back and also more of an attacking threat because of Friend and Shotton playing further up the pitch and offering more of an attacking threat. Without him we haven’t garnered the points we would have hoped for and the two CB’s have looked less comfortable. Without Clayts in front of them against Forest the entire defence looked like an accident waiting to happen.

    Batth is experienced at this level but never played in the Championship for Boro alongside Ayala or Flint, Fry has and is also proven at this level with Boro. The “synergy” between Fry and Flint and Ayala must surely e at a more heightened level than Batth (who I think is a very good CB). Excluding Fry from the bench is controversial for the above reasons, more so when it went wrong and didn’t work. The same goes for dropping Wing, it hasn’t worked, we have looked a poorer side without the pair of them. In regards to Tavernier he offers something different and done OK when called upon this season and is the only player near the 18 man squad capable of delivering something or creating apart from Downing.

    Arguably there is even a case for Fletcher who has looked OK in the Carabou Cup games, nothing outstanding given that he struggled last season but given an straight choice between Gestede and Fletcher and now Hugill Fletcher offers more than both of them combined in that he can run and a carthorse that can run is better than a carthorse who can’t stand upright or one that couldn’t control a bag of cement and whose headers are a lottery.

    As a Professional, TP like previous Managers should know best but we have witnessed a succession of Managers (not just at Boro by the way just ask the Manure fans what they presently think of Mourinho) at the Riverside who backed themselves into a stubborn corner instead of standing back and taking a wider view. In doing so they boxed themselves into a tight situation by trying to justify themselves especially with regards to “their” players and “their” tactics. Four or five games after the International break will tell us if TP was right or has backed himself into a situation of his own making by putting all his eggs on players that many of us (not all) deem not fit for purpose.

    1. RR
      I wish I had written that piece, every word.
      The behaviour of those in charge will not stand examination, the exclusion of the players who were removed from the team at the top of the league, and were then ruthlessly treated as non persons, is sickening to those who have watched the slow disintegration of what looked a decent side.
      Last night I watched a young man of 18 enter the field of play for England, and do well, without anyone suggesting that he might become a player when he is 23, he will not be wasting his time in the reserves for the foreseeable future, and the same goes for the young Fulham player.
      We are stuck in the past, and are going nowhere soon, I will not even mention Fry, because words fail me.

      1. That Jadon Sancho lad needs to go out to Grimsby or maybe Yeovil to “man up” and get some real experience instead of playing International matches in Croatia or turning out in the Bundesliga for that Borussia Dortmund outfit.

        Thank heavens we don’t have that problem at Boro with young whippersnappers running around expecting to play! Can you imagine that Sancho lad having to come on at some place like the Den, having to face all that intimidation and bile, wouldn’t last five minutes. Give me some aged multi million pound, no mark loanee every time, you won’t win anything with Kids!

  167. Managers always play the players they bring in usually to the detriment of younger and inexperienced players no matter how they’ve been playing. Fair enough if they are better players than what you already have.

    Unfortunately on the league results since the last transfer window the majority of those TP has brought in don’t appear to be.


    Loved the Bernie video many thanks for putting it up😀👍🏻

    1. FAA….and that is the argument that “we” put forward. The new loan additions, post the end of the Transfer Window, have not done what they were brought in to do.

    1. I was wondering about Jack Harrison Andy. He has been playing regularly for Leeds and doing OK. May be it was our esteemed Recruitememt Team that brought him to MFC? Too young for Mr Pulis.

  168. With no Championship matches scheduled, today has been designated as Non-League day. It’s therefore a pity for our region that both Hartlepool and Darlington are playing away, and that only Marske United (at home to Atherton Colleries in the FA Trophy) and Billingham Synthonia (at home to Washington in the Northern League Division 2) appear to be the only outlets for soccer starved Teessiders today. Of our other teams Stockton Town face a top of the table clash away to Consett in the match of the day in Division 1 of the Northern League, and Redcar Athletic are away to Heaton Stannington in Division 2, whilst Billingham Town, Guisborough Town and Thornaby have no matches today.

    In my youth I regularly used to cycle to watch the now defunct teams of Redcar Albion (Teesside League) and Redcar Crusaders (South Bank and District League) so it’s dissappointing that our region’s Northern League teams particularly will be unable to boost their meagre attendances and income by the extra casual soccer day fan, but in view of the weather forecast today it would probably have taken the most avid of fans to turn out anyway as most of our local teams provide limited cover against the elements.

    However, good luck to Marske (now a member of the Northern Premier League Division 2) in their first sojourn into the FA Vase.

  169. MFC Streaming Issues

    I have continued to contact the club regarding the problems relating to the streaming of games via both the MFC App and also the website.

    I received a response yesterday from Bob Tait, at MFC, apologising for the problems which he assures me they are working on night and day to resolve. He would hope that by the time of the Rotherham game on the 23/10 we should see a significant improvement.

    MFC values the feedback provided and they request that we continue to provide details of the issues we are experiencing with a view to resolving.

    Next week one of Bob’s team will be telephoning me and will work with me to explore what is or might be happening when I log into the App or onto the club website.

    They are also considering streaming next week’s Checkatrade Trophy game at Port Vale as a test.

  170. Plato

    I don’t think people are saying Wing and Tavernier are inconsistent as such rather that is a trait inexperienced and young players tend to have early in their careers. Unless I’ve misread some posts.

    Personally I don’t know if they’re inconsistent or not as they haven’t had a long enough run in the team for me to make that decision. Managers decision. Only Fry has had what I’d call a sufficient number of games for me to gauge his ability and he is far from inconsistent. A potential star if he’s given the opportunity. Over to you Mr Pulis.

    1. FFA
      the inconsistent line was a defence tactic( and a particularly poor one) put out as a red herring by those who, understandably, would like to see TP run to the end of his line.
      What irritates is the fact that we were on a golden run, they may be silly lads, but we do not get runs that take us to the top of the league, we just don’t.
      In a normal club, the attitude would have been, just carry on lads, whatever you are doing, keep it , even the fixture must was looking like an open goal, the bottom team away, followed by two delicious home fixtures, what could possibly go wrong? The charge sheet is looking pretty bad, and it is growing. If he even thinks about loaning out Fry, Wing, Tavernier, Chapman, then I can see a repeat of the jockification affair.

  171. KP, I also sent an email to MFC following the Forrest game and the streaming not being available through a browser at a cost 10 pounds. Plus other problems.
    I received an automated reply but nothing else after five days. I have resent my complaint.

    Is Bob Tait’s email address open source. If it is, could you let me have it please, so that I can contact him direct.


    1. Pedro & Allan

      Bob has asked that issues are routed via the website contact facility where his team will pick them up and deal with.

      Given the number of complaints received it may take them some time to respond although this should reduce if they get the service working properly.

      I emailed them just after the final whistle after the Forest game but only received a reply at 21.30 last Friday.

  172. Due to the enforced break, the only football to view was on good old Beinsport and it was Barnsley v Luton, and you know what, it was quite entertaining. After watching the game, I had a thought, instead of the impending waste of up eight million quid on a very average journeyman we’re about to commit to, why don’t we just send him back at Christmas then go and buy Barnsley’s first team? Apart from getting change from outlay against what we’d be paying for Saville, we’d actually be getting sixteen journeymen for less money, and all just as good.

    Further, if we follow the same pattern, we could go and buy lower division first teams once a season and in the long run close down that waste of time, space and money called the academy. We could stream in experienced players from lower clubs then discard the one’s we don’t want, a bit like what we do now with the academy players, although in our academy players we discard them all these days. We wouldn’t have to loan any of them out to “gain experience” as they’ve already got it, and think of the returns we can get from building a housing estate on the land the academy presently stands on. It seems a win-win all across the board with this idea, plus we don’t have to pander to a bunch of snotty nosed brats that are taking up vital time, space and resources, what’s not to like.

  173. I don’t know how many of you watched the Super League Grand Final last night, but Wigan’s defence was magnificent. However, why do I get the feeling that their style of play is killing Rugby League as a spectacle? I’m not saying they didn’t deserve to win, but it was a grind. Does that ring a bell with how Boro play under Tony Pulis? I suppose if the end justifies the means we’ll all be happy, but give me the style of St Helens this year and Castleford last year any day. How on earth a player like Sam Tomkins got away with kneeing an opponent on the ground without at least serving 10 minutes in the sin bin escapes me. Whether intentional or not in football he’d have received his marching orders. I don’t think last night’s game will attract more viewers except those who enjoy all-in wrestling.

    This also brings me back to Boro’s style of play. As I say, if the end justifies the means in getting promotion we’ll all be happy. But hand on heart how many of us find it enjoyable, or am I just an old fogey who enjoyed the Stan Anderson years much more, and of course the Bryan Robson years too?

  174. peasepudin, I keep thinking on and off about our Acadamy and also wonder if it is really worth all the bother, time and money it costs. Yes I know there is a “Tax Allowance” in there somewhere, around 2mil for Level 1 is it called?? but is the cost ever covered by the Budget Line and the Acadamy Players that make it through to the First Team, thus saving a purchase.

    In say the last ten years, the current Manager/Coach permitting of course, how many have made it? Ben Gibson and possibly Fry, who could potentially be better than Ben if allowed to develop by playing.
    I am sure there are others I have overlooked, but generally the “Boys” we send out on loan are released or signed by the loanee club. You never hear or read of any Fees being paid which would contribute to their development.

    So are we just being a benevolent club giving local lads a chance in football? Most who will not make it to even Championship level, or is there something else that is being gained that I am missing?

    Of the current crop, Wing was picked up by scouts, Tav and Chapman through the Acadamy. Of the latter two, I believe Tav has the potential to play at Championship level if given the opportunity. The current Manager appears to be against that. Chapman will fall by the wayside unfortuanately due to continual injury problems.

    So is it worth all the bother or should we go down the peasepudininperth route. Or we could try the Brentford Model with a Director of Football or similar in charge of scouting developing or developed players ready for the next step. Or spotting bargains like Saville at 350K and a year later selling for 7mil.

    Now no disrespect to Brentford, but may be they are not trying to achieve what MFC are trying to, that is get into the promised land and stay there. We have been in the Championship for the Majority of the last ten years, where I started with, how many Acadamy players have made it through to the First Team? And cheap buys that came good, probably Mr Mowbray was the most successful at that?

  175. Pedro,

    Don’t get me wrong, a lot of what I blathered on about was, in retrospect, tongue in cheek, but when you take the tongue out of the cheek, how much truth lies within?

    I’m all for giving the kids a fair go, in fact there’s nothin better in my eyes in seeing a young’n coming through the ranks, or in Wing’s case, just around it but, if any hierarchy continues to bypass the youth of a club, then what’s the point of having them? Our past history has been excellent in producing home grown goods, and I don’t just mean in the recent past, cue Braveheart’s clip of Bernie and the reference to the class of 86, but if we are going to constantly ignore potential over financial payback in playing brought in journeymen, then let’s just get rid of the thing, what’s the point.

    1. PPP
      Interesting that 86 was crisis season, so the idiots in charge had to play the kids.
      When you think about it, it makes sense because both before and after that crisis they have always( repeat, always) ignored the kids, no matter what, as an article of faith. Downing was dispatched to Sunderland as a throw out, and only the decency of their manager informing us that he was international class saved us from giving him away.

  176. Just seen Steph McGovern on Breakfast reviewing the papers and giving a sterling defence of Teesside following a critical article on obesity and blaming it on the parmo.

    Well done Steph making the point that it isn’t just about the parmo, there are more fundamental reasons why there is a high level of obesity and it’s wrong to simply blame one issue. Good on you girl!

  177. I feel inspired to challenge Eamon Dunphy’s “one swallow does not make a summer” viewpoint. It sprung up when he was interviewed by Kieran Shannon two years ago for the Irish Examiner.

    DUNPHY: There’s probably too much coaching going on. It’s not played enough on the streets, or on the green, with free expression, allowing for improvisation.

    That’s how you learn the game. Trying things out on your own, playing with your mates. You figure a lot of it out yourself. No one told Messi how to play. He figured most of it out himself. If it worked any other way, you could teach another Messi. Coaches can take all that away. That’s why there’s a dearth of talent…

    SHANNON: But La Masia brought through the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Pique…

    DUNPHY: Yeah, but they’re one generation. Manchester United had the Class of ’92. They haven’t produced anything since. Let’s see if Barca produce another Messi. But they won’t.

    * * *

    As entertaining and intriguing as Dunphy’s viewpoint is, I think it’s naive. Germany and Spain’s 21st century dominance of international and European competition took years to develop and was every bit to do with academies and long-term planning.

    Eurocracy is certainly useful, and more than that, it wins things…

    1. I think the “long term planning” is the critical part and despite genuine intent and and some excellent work being done by individuals it doesn’t seem to quite fit from my perspective. maybe its because of the change of Managers and the style changes that brings. Some like it dour and dull passing across the back line wearing opponents down in the hope they will break ranks in frustration and thereby leaving a gap to exploit. Others like a more expansive open game playing beautiful football whilst some (allegedly) like to hoof it up the pitch to the big lad.

      A player’s style and attributes may fit some Managers templates perfectly but a new Manager comes in and that tricky little winger with pace and a few tricks becomes of no interest or value to a Manager wanting a 6ft 6″ Neanderthal Centre Forward. The reverse of course is also true. A few recent examples are Cyrus Christie and Fabio, we could see skills and attributes but the lack of ability to defend and defensive positioning saw one out the door very quickly and the other despite having personal reasons for wanting away would like as not been discarded as being too short by the current Manager.

      The point of all my blathering is that as good (or otherwise) that any Academy does, timing is critical and that timing is dependant upon the age, abilities and profile of a youngster with the preferred style of play by the current Manager allied to the standard of older more established professionals in the squad in a similar position which determines how much of an opportunity exists when that window may (or in most cases) may not open.

      Its further complicated when you then throw in the foibles of the politics of the situation. Managers typically have a short shelf life. One that has lost five on the trot is running out of confidence (along with those around him) and so throwing a youngster into the fray isn’t an option. Those who have signed “Galacticos” (be they Spanish has been journeymen or just Big tough Lads) are not going to admit to the Chairman that he has relieved that said Chairman’s wallet of several £Millions up the wall by playing a 17 year old wonder kid over them.

      I think playing at a lower level and working their way up is a better option than Academies. That in some way is in line with TP’s thinking to a degree but doesn’t suit those that are too good to be sent out on loan but not quite good enough to break into the starting eleven. Then there is the extreme illustrated best by Chelsea which sees Academies merely as a puppy farm for footballers to make money from them. The Brentford model is an interesting one and I dare say one that is long term more cost effective if you have the right calibre of scouts and recruiters.

      1. nb. The above examples of Fabio and Christie are not meant as academy examples just more obvious illustrations of Players in general whose faces or more accurately their abilities and traits didn’t fit with a new Management style.

  178. I still remember the clamouring for Luke Williams and Adam Reach during Mogga’s reign even when Reach was injured. But in the midst of a run of W3 W3 L15, Mogga and everyone around him was, as you say RR, running out of confidence, so the kids were not an option.

    The worst games of that run for me were not the Ipswich and Palace hammerings, painful though they were, but Barnsley H and Wolves A. The opposition seemed to be there for the taking and we hadn’t the belief or solidity to see out and/or build on solid positions of 2-1 and 2-2 respectively. We lost both games 3-2.

    Again, lack of confidence. Though I suppose that was reflective of near the beginning of MoggaBoro, when we somehow conspired to lose to Burton Albion in the cup and later let a 3-1 lead at home to Swansea turn into a 4-3 defeat.

    By the end of his reign, poor Mogga was quoted as saying, “I tell (defenders) to head the ball and they won’t. What are you supposed to do about that?”

  179. Been busy so haven’t posted.

    Mogga and the kids? The first person to get the hook under his stewardship tended to be Reach. Luke Williams was blooded by Stricken.

    To be fair to Mogga, in his first full season with ourselves he was hampered by the fact teams were only allowed 3 subs on the bench – a ridiculous experiment that meant it was filled by the likes of Haroon and Martin. We didnt have a keeper on the bench, Tony McMahon was the designated second keeper. If I remember correctly, there was a handful of cameos by the kids in that season – and that was with a digit missing.

    Southgate was charged with producing an Arsenal Lite team using academy prospects such as Shawky, Aliadiere, Tuncay, Dong Gook, Caleb Folan, Marlon King, the wrong Bent, Mido, Arca, Jason Euell, The Donkey St Ledger, Huth, Hoyte, Alves. That is off the top of my head.

  180. Boro duo George Saville and Paddy McNair were in action for Northern Ireland on Friday evening. I saw just the highlights on TV on Friday. The only goal of the game was scored for Austria by West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic.

    Paddy played at right back the full 90 minutes, but the goal looked a bit like poor defending by our poor Paddy. As I think Simon saw the whole match, he could inform us how he and Saville played in general. Can we play Paddy as a right back for Boro, for example?

    Up the Boro!

  181. I tend to think that academies are there to bring players through to play in a certain way to suit the club.

    I would hazard a guess that in Boro’s history just as many youngsters have come through before the academy as since it its inception. Possibly even more.

  182. And going back to my post, in the last ten years how many “Acadamy Players” have become regulars. Gibson, Fry-ish, and does Stewie drop in there, oh and if so Johnson.

    1. Have to confess that I didn’t even know there was a game tonight. I must have missed all the hype, excitement and build up somewhere. Interesting result however even if it was just a Friendly or the European Nations Cup of Leagues or whatever its called.Either way I’m sure it was well worth disrupting the entire league program for what seems like an eternity.

      Speaking of Europe I’m off there tomorrow and will be at 35,000 feet come kick off on Friday night so will miss the Sheffield Wednesday game. Very frustrating when you arrange business trips with meticulous planning months in advance that you get back the night before a match only to have the greed is good merchants switching it to the night before.

      Going back to the Academy debate from earlier today, I read this afternoon about Freeman being linked with Boro again in the January transfer window. Apparently QPR paid £350,000 last year for him from Bristol, about the same Millwall paid for Saville. There seems to be a bit of a dangerous pattern developing here and one which is costing SG £millions.

    2. Simon
      Have not seen the match, but I have noticed that when hope is non existent, and all seems lost, the manager just tells the players to ” go out there and kick the ball, chase it, and kick it again, when you are near their goal try to kick the ball between the posts”. That generally works.
      Of course when half time comes, he generally starts giving orders to the players, that’s when it gets difficult.
      I notice it was a game of two halves last night?

  183. England were winning 3-0 before I started watching. The second half seemed to be waves of red shirts probing in England’s half. A 3-2 win in Spain is a good result by any measure. Very creditable performance with a sprinkling of inexperience.


    I will be at my sons in London whilst he is away on holiday, I should get to see the match. As you say moved for TV. ON Sunday mornings Supplement on Sky they mentioned the view Keith Lamb expressed years ago that matchday income was not a priority. In Italy Juventus fans could buy a ‘season’ ticket to see all the games on the box and people stopped going to matches.

  184. Was last night Gareth Southgate’s finest hour? Well certainly as a coach. Perhaps if Steve Gibson had persevered with him when Boro were 3 points from the top of the Championship we might now be seeing exciting football from Boro, and in the Premier League. Perhaps too Steve Gibson in his later years has become too impatient. He appointed an inexperienced GS in the first place, then discarded him for another GS with disastrous results. I know money was tight, but he did the same with Tony Mowbray, discarded him after doing exactly what he asked him to do in the first place – keep Boro afloat with limited financial resources.

    I’m proud of what Gareth Southgate has done as a player and a coach. He may have got the England job fortuitously, but as a coach he’s given youth its chance which Tony Pulis will never do. Gareth may not be a Teessider, but I would still class him as one of our own. I’m not getting carried away by one result last weekend, one swallow does not a summer make, but his philosophy of playing attractive football will serve England well in the future. It may well also have served Boro well in the future had Steve Gibson shown a little more patience.

    1. The mistake in appointing Southgate at the time was in not appointing a genteel experienced Manager with Gareth as his Assistant to plan for continuity and to give the bloke time to learn, progress and develop into the role.

      1. Redcar, Our Steve has made more than enough mistakes on the football front over the last ten years or so.
        Southgate with the right Assistant, but we will never know unfortuanately.

        And it is still continuing authorizing some of the recent transfers. Not good business sense. Something he has excelled in, in other areas over many years.

  185. John Terry may be unloved amongst many football fans but he is taking the right route in to management as number 2 alongside a more experienced manager.

    Steve Gibson and Keith Lamb thought they were experienced enough to look after Gareth but they were not experienced in day to day running of a club. Gareth was the right man at the wrong time.

    Stricken was the wrong man at the wrong time, or that is what the Gazette boys write now, they were fulsome in praise when the ‘forge’ was producing in players with steel.

    1. I still believe that we have not the remotest idea as to how to deal in football players.
      Our crimes are numerous, so I had better list a few of them.
      1. Never buy of a very well run club with a good record in the market.
      2. Never let the selling club run you up to the last dregs of the window, they are keeping you out of the market, whilst looking for a better buyer( or, even worse, keeping you occupied whilst your rivals are filling their boots).
      3. Set standards, and stick to them, I.e. Set an age limit, both upper and lower.
      4. Only watch your target in away matches( that tells the tale on their attitude) talk to their supporters, they know, and will tell you all about their little foibles.
      5. Look everywhere, non league for sure, it is full of young players who are still dreaming, Wing, anyone. utterly ruthless in your desires, you are looking for young players with skill and determination for not much money, and are not afraid to make a profit on them and carry on looking.

  186. Just to let you all know I’m currently unable to access the internet from home and haven’t had either internet or telephone for a week now since it went down Wednesday morning shortly after 9am – made even worse by the fact there is also no mobile signal where we live. I’ve just managed to log on to the network where my son has an appointment but it will be just brief.

    BTW here’s the story of the myth of German efficiency – they’re not it’s just PR propaganda so that you buy their cars 🙂

    I’d hoped the matter would have been resolved by last Friday as promised but we’re stuck in the middle of an incompetent triangle of telecom companies – our provider is the electricity company, who as you may guess, don’t have anything to do with the physical infrastructure, which is still run by German Telecom – they just have a server through which our service is routed and they bill us. They instructed German Telecom to check our line, which work was then sub-contracted to another company and a stereotypical geeky-looking 20-year old girl arrived in a van to declare everything was in order and the problem was with our service provider.

    Our service sent a SMS to announce the problem was fixed on Friday – it wasn’t nothing had changed and they said they’d look into it. Then came the weekend so no work happens until Monday. On Monday they said the German Telecom engineer had fixed the problem with our line – that was the problem that never existed according to the engineer. Monday afternoon, they said they didn’t know what the problem was – it was at this point Mrs Werder asked to speak to a manger – the reply of “Why, he doesn’t know anything” was not helpful so she insisted. They were right, he didn’t know anything but he said he’d mark the problem as urgent.

    Today, Mrs Werder called again from work and was told it’s with the technical department – though when pushed to what they were actually doing to solve the “urgent problem” the reply was “we can offer you €20 for the inconvenience” and “what’s the problem, you’ve got a mobile phone haven’t you” – this was the point Mrs Werder went nuclear and demanded to have the contract cancelled a they were clearly not doing anything at all to resolve the problem and it would be quicker to be a new customer somewhere else.

    All of which means I’ve absolutely no idea when I will have internet access again and will most likely miss out on the online stream of the upcoming games – that’s if MFC have sorted out the problems yet!

    1. Have to agree Werder, Germany reminds me of a Swan, very graceful on the surface but paddling like crazy underneath. I’m in Dusseldorf at the minute and I see things that are unbelievable, caused mainly by an attutude of “it can’t be wrong” therefore it must be right and the fault lies elsewhere.

      When its good its world class sheer brilliance, when it doesn’t work then there is no Plan B. And as for trying to explain the cause of the problem, you may as well have two heads.

    2. So sorry to hear of your problem Werder. Hopefully somebody may just stumble in the dark and fall on the solution.

      Yes over the years, whilst every man and his dog is berating everything British, and occasionally rightfully so, the Europeans and especially the Germans go about their daily manufacturing life with that smug smile on their faces. We are the best and being in the Euro we can keep our prices altificially low and make big profits.

      The one thing the Germans are good at is marketing. The whole world seems to believe BMW and Mercedes are best in it.

  187. Dominic Shaw states that Boro need a 20 goal forward, and we’d all probably agree. But surely if we’re playing only one up front that is a minimum requirement when the midfielders aren’t scoring many. It’s a tough burden to bear, but over the years has been attainable only 13 times in 38 season by a Boro player in the Second Division/Championship – 5 times by Brian Clough, 3 times by John Hickton, twice by Alan Peacock and Bernie Slaven, twice by Alan Peacock and once by Jim Irvine. Here is a selection of top goalscorers who scored 15 or more league goals in a season since I’ve been following the Boro plus some notable supplements from inside forwards in the Old First Division:-

    Old First Division
    1947/48 Mickey Fenton 28, Cecil McCormack 15
    1948/49 Peter McKennan 15, Alex McCrae 14
    1950/51 Alex McCrae 21, Mannion 14, Johnny Spuhler 13
    1952/53 Wilf Mannion 19
    1953/54 Lindy Delapenha 18
    1974/75 Alan Foggon 16
    1976/77 David Mills 15
    1988/89 Bernie Slaven 15
    1996/97 Fabrizio Ravanelli 16
    1998/99 Hamilton Ricard 15

    Old Second Division/Championship
    1954/55 Charlie Wayman 16,Joe Scott 16, Delapenha 15
    1955/56 Lindy Delapenha 17
    1956/57 Brian Clough 38
    1957/58 Brian Clough 40, Alan Peacock 15
    1958/59 Brian Clough 43, Alan Peacock 19
    1959/60 Brian Clough 39
    1960/61 Brian Clough 34, Alan Peacock 15
    1961/62 Alan Peacock 24
    1962/63 Alan Peacock 31
    1964/65 Jim Irvine 20
    1967/68 John Hickton 24
    1968/69 John Hickton 18
    1969/70 John Hickton 24
    1970/71 John Hickton 25
    1973/74 Alan Foggon 19
    1983/84 David Currie15
    1987/88 Bernie Slaven 21
    1989/90 Bernie Slaven 21
    1990/91 Bernie Slaven 16
    1991/92 Bernie Slaven 16, Paul Wilkinson 15
    1993/94 Paul Wilkinson 15
    1994/95 John Hendrie 15
    2014/15 Patrick Bamford 17
    2017/18 Britt Assombalonga 15

    Old Third Division
    1966/67 John O’Rourke 27, Arthur Horsfield 22, Hickton 15
    1986/87 Bernie Slaven 17, Archie Stevens 16

  188. Live stream of Checkatrade game tonight:

    Just received the message below from Bob Tait at MFC from which you will feedback would be appreciated if you are able to watch. Please note unless you have a season pass there will be a charge.

    Good evening

    We believe that we have made some good progress with fixes for live video streaming via and we are planning to stream tonight’s Checkatrade Trophy match at Port Vale (kick-off 7.45pm UK time); this will serve as a good real-life scenario test.

    We are having to charge supporters for the game owing to EFL regulations; however, it will be made available free to any supporter with an existing seasonal subscription.

    I would really appreciate any feedback you or any of your overseas supporter friends may have if you get chance to watch the live video stream on, even if only for 15-20 minutes (I appreciate there may be some considerable time differences!). We will be testing locally in the UK and have a test team in Macedonia but it would be really helpful to have eyes (and ears) in real-life situations around the globe to report back and see how we are doing with the latest fixes.

    Thank you

    1. They could have saved the expense of sending a test team to Macedonia simply by asking any of the numerous subscribers who have complained about the feed to watch it for free and report back.

      1. I suspect the team in Macedonia is the team of (highly) professional testers belonging the internationally renowned media systems providers that are proud to cite MFC as one of its greatest user cases of recent years…

  189. Live Stream Update:

    Watched the first half of the U23 game at Port Vale and pleased to report that there were not any issues other than losing 1-0.

    Good quality stream/picture from the single camera feed and it’s to be hoped that it will be the same when the next game is streamed from the Riverside with its more complex camera setting/replays and commentary.

    I have provided feedback to Bob at MFC who was pleased and confirmed he had had positive feedback from elsewhere around the globe.

    Fingers crossed they have got the streaming working properly at last and that TP can now get the team firing on all cylinders! 😎

  190. One thing I noticed from the Checkatrade match last night was that the Boro shirts didn’t have the club’s sponsors logo on the white band. I’m not sure whether this is a requirement when playing in a different sponsored tournament, but it did make the shirts look bland. Perhaps the Boro logo appearing on the white band instead of just below it would soften the appearance a little, but I guess special shirts would have to be commissioned for that to happen.

  191. I’m quite surprised that Championship matches attract only 400,000 viewers on Sky. It hardly seems worthwhile disrupting the fixture schedule in my opinion. I wonder what the viewing figures are for the top Premier League matches.

    1. SKY are only interested in subscribers, if the EPL brings in extra customers they are more than happy.

      They have increased their customer base by investing in less attractive sports. The games of Rugby Union, Rugby League, Darts, Speedway etc have all benefited from SKY’ s coverage. Compare them to before SKY got involved.

  192. I’ve written before about how Eurocrat managers (McClaren, Karanka) become figures of ridicule not long after we once perceived them as saviours. Maybe because we place too much hope and belief in them to begin with.

    Even if they were backed heavily, others were backed just as heavily, if not more so, and didn’t do as well. Look at Derby and Hull circa 2016, for example.

    It makes me admire Burnley, Dyche and their fans even more for sticking together, understanding the reality of their situation and not panicking even after they scored few goals and went down in 2015.

    There are those that accuse Dycheburn (thanks for that name, RR – it’s a good one) of lacking ambition. But it could also be argued that they’re simply budgeting for the worst case scenario, because you never know when the bad years, at least financially, are coming.

    Perhaps the most important thing, and we should take note, is to *have* a club at all. Full stop. Many of us will, of course, remember 1986 and the reputed debt of around £90 million circa 2009 that even parachute payments wouldn’t cover.

    I have learned that Burnley have almost gone out of business once and almost into administration once. How many others have gone bust in chasing the dream? Leeds, Portsmouth… Even Leicester, when they got promoted under Micky Adams in 2002-03, went into administration that same season.

    If a club simply lives within its means and maintains a strong connection with the fans (which I now understand it didn’t do for many during the AK years), then they’re on the right track. If only to a point.

    It’s not exactly what you’d call a recipe for success, but just because a club doesn’t spend huge amounts of money doesn’t mean they’re not ambitious – it means that, at least financially, they have a back-up plan. They know not to gamble unduly.

    1. Simon
      We are living on the results of hiring a manager. Unfortunately we then heaved a sigh of relief, sacked him, and actively looked for someone who had at least three strikes against him.
      These would be, ten plus seasons heavily involved in a seasonal struggle to stay in the prem. They were ugly struggles, ( and ugly scenes) and took place in a tight space I.e. The bottom seven.
      No top quality player was sighted in that time, the reason was openly stated, we cannot afford to play good stuff in our position in the game.
      He openly sold only classy players the moment he got his feet ( or should that be cloven hoofs) under the table.
      He bought old battered defenders( and how) he found us with at least two jewels, Fry and Traore with two good young players from the Academy Tavernier and Chapman, plus a great find from non league, Wing, there is a problem, it is not possible to see any of these players, because he comes from a world long gone, a world in which no player was fit to get on the pitch until he was about twenty three.
      Which leaves us with a problem. The world has changed, and he is presently going to find that this new world in which great young players burst onto the scene and do not disappear will sweep him and all his old buddies away.
      His score at the moment is by my reckoning, about minus 25million, money which is gone forever and will be never be reclaimed.
      The frightening thing is, he is still looking for any player who is young and good, with the object of getting rid a.s.a.p.

    2. Simon
      Do you seriously think that we as a club, lost contact with our club during AK’s reign?
      Before his advent we had long forgotten any hope of a crowd above thirty thousand.
      So awful was the general running of the club.
      As stated we live and die by the procurement of players, as also noted, that changed under AK. We opened our newspaper and found that we had signed someone we were totally unaware of(and that was good) on the other side of the coin, we also found that we had sold one of ours for a profit ( One big change)
      he got us promoted, but the project to ditch him was resumed, and succeeded.
      to this day no punishment was meted out to the players who did it, they are still there. You will note that we are happily back in the good old days, rubbish players on the pitch, good players rusting away, their value dropping, anyone can pick them up for washers.
      we are at the moment well into being the victims of a scam. I think it goes like this.
      Well known club says to non league club, ” you have a young player who might make it higher up the pyramid, we do not want him but if we signed him for peanuts, plus a bit of chat by friendly press, it should be possible to find some badly run club to pay a few millions for him, we split the fee we get, and bobs your uncle, we all benefit.
      I think that we have been bitten once, the damage was 7 mill.
      Now, to be stung once was the fault of the clubs running the scheme, to be stung twice is our fault.
      Watch this space. Because things are going to get interesting, as we are unlikely to get a result tonight I think he will play Wing, plus Tavernier. Thus scoring a few points, he thinks.
      But should we get a result, then I think he will be in queer street, fully exposed as an old fashioned manager who’s time has passed. Interesting, or what?

  193. Quite simply a clubs aspirations need to be realistic. Being a member of the Premier League guarantees solvency due to the vast financial rewards on offer. This means once you make the move from Championship to PL staying there is paramount.

    Will MFC ever contest to be League Champions? Highly doubtful. Would supporters be happy being a middle table club with a few cup runs? I tend to think so.

    Part of being in the PL is being able to watch some of the best players in the world in the flesh. The aim for TP at the moment is to achieve promotion, once that is delivered we will have in place a manager who has a track record of bringing PL stability. I have complete faith in him.

    1. GHW
      “The chance to see the World’s best players” (quote)
      You’re so right, that’s why the late 40s and early 50s were my favourite seasons. Admittedly in those days the English First Division wasn’t global as it is today, but nevertheless nearly every club had at least one British international player in it’s ranks. Also there wasn’t the opportunity to watch the great players on television in those days. The only drawback was that Boro very rarely threatened having a good Cup run.

  194. Middlesbrough striker Stephen Walker grabbed an England hat-trick!

    Usually the Boro academy brings up only central defenders (from Maddren, Mogga to B Gibson and Fry) as done since 1970’s. And occasionally a winger like Downing or Johnson.

    Hope the striking starlet Stephen Walker will make it to the first team one day. Stephen Walker scored his penalty against Notts County recently. Let’s hope there is more to come and something like a young Cloughie will emerge.

    Up the Boro!

    1. I watched him take that penalty agains Notts County and he took it well and was quite rightly jubilant

      He seems a very bouncy confident player but doesn’t fit the Pulis mould of big strong powerful striker !


  195. Just posted…

    “It took me a few months to fit in (at Boro). I arrived in October and it was so freezing cold that I couldn’t feel my feet – I had to put pieces of newspaper inside my boots to help warm them up. I also had to wear one of those ninja caps that leave just the eyes showing.”

    TLF speaks to FourFourTwo.

  196. Anecdotes from 1996-97. All of them make for great reading.


    “I did an interview on the pre-match press day as a favour to a mate, and I left (Ravanelli) out of the starting XI because, like me, he was struggling to be fit and we couldn’t afford to gamble.

    “On the Saturday, it was all over the back page: ‘Cox – Rav should miss out’. So while we were having the photos taken for the suits and sunglasses, he decided to spit and throw a punch. I dived in, fists flying. I wasn’t slagging him off. I was right. That’s why it got nasty. We had a scuffle.”


    “It turned into the most awful final preparation for the biggest game of most of our lives. In the team photograph, you had Ravanelli basically trying to reach across players to have a fight with Neil.

    “There was so much c**p – even on the way to the game, Rav was shouting at Neil at the back of the bus. There were players sat there who weren’t involved in the game and had been drinking the night before, and Robson thought it would be good to have (comedian Stan Boardman) telling some jokes. It smacked of unprofessionalism.”


    “Back-biting, b***hing, people wanting to have a fight, and then to go and play the biggest game of our lives – we didn’t give ourselves a chance. As a boy I had dreamed about playing in an FA Cup final at Wembley, but behind-the-scenes chaos meant it was just surreal. It definitely contributed to that goal.”

    “(Signing Ravanelli) was like getting Messi or Ronaldo. But half of the squad hated him and the other half loved him. He worked hard and he was one of the best finishers I’d seen, but as a man he rubbed people up the wrong way. He was selfish in everything he did.”


    “Rav was larger than life. There’d never been anyone like him, but he thought he was above the club.

    “Steve Gibson splashed out on him, Emerson and Juninho to tell the Premier League, ‘We’re on the march’. It was his dream to resurrect the glory days of the Jack Charlton era in the ’70s. It didn’t work, as you had two Boro teams on the pitch at the same time: three world-class stars and the other eight.”


    “Right in the middle of (a team) meeting (ahead of a match at Aston Villa) Rav had a rant, loudly and in Italian, about wanting to leave. I couldn’t stop laughing. At the end, Bryan (Robson) said, ‘OK, Rav?’ And (Ravanelli’s agent) said ‘Yes, it’s OK’. You could not make it up.”

    (Source: FourFourTwo.)

  197. More anecdotes about 1996-97. (I should add these were not said at the time, but on reflection in a piece from 2017.) Let’s continue with the Blackburn debacle.


    “I walked into Robbo’s office at the Riverside and he said, ‘Don’t ask what the team is, as I haven’t got one.’”


    “I was responsible for cancelling the match. I am convinced we did everything properly. We were ‘invited’ to postpone it, but there was a U-turn in the corridors of power that rebounded on us… (We were) harshly treated.”


    “The punishment was an absolute joke. Three more players had dropped out on the Friday (before) so we were decimated. But if I’d have known there was any chance of a points deduction, I’d have fielded YTS lads and the laundry ladies. We just didn’t have enough players. I was out injured, and had to play away at Arsenal a week later. That made me bail out for good, as I couldn’t move for three days after.”


    “The problem lay with the people at the Premier League. Many questions were never answered and no one came out with any credit. We weren’t treated fairly. It was easy for people to feel bitter and resentful.”


    “I don’t mind saying it was a bad, regrettable decision from the club and manager. I’m very bitter. It’s a relegation I will not take – it had nothing to do with my team or me. We could have put a team out. It was wrong. The situation was managed badly.”

    On the Brazilians who weren’t Juninho, Ravanelli, and training…


    “Emerson always seemed to have a ticket back to Brazil. (Branco) was six kilos overweight when he first arrived and 10 kilos overweight when he left”.

    MIKE BAKER (c. 1999)

    “(Branco) ate himself out of a place at his former club, and accepted a free transfer to the Riverside, where his reputed £30,000 weekly wage could land him all the tacos and cream buns in the world.

    “…He was inevitably packed off… (and) nothing has been heard from our very own Mister Creosote since. No one is surprised or disappointed.”


    “(Ravanelli) always said he didn’t want to play with (Mikkel Beck). Once, he said in broken English: ‘Jan, I want you play. For me, Mikkel Beck – Serie B’.

    “The problem was that Mikkel was listening in.”


    “(Boro) have a Ferrari but they don’t have a garage.”


    “The (training ground – Kirklevington Grange Prison) was OK as the playing surfaces were good.

    “If there was lots of rain then we practised on ‘The Avenue of Trees’. That wasn’t even a park – just a strip of land between some big trees which sucked up water – so it was a decent place to train.”


    “(When Ravanelli) disappeared to Italy for treatment… I was bemused. We should’ve been stricter. We treated him 12-15 hours a day, trying to get him ready for the (FA Cup) Final, but he wouldn’t let us fitness-test him and he came off early. It was rubbish.”

    In closing…


    “We had a really good team, but I needed four or five more squad players as we just weren’t strong enough to cope with the amount of cup games.”

    (Sources: FourFourTwo, and Mike Baker’s “The Year That Had It All”.)

    1. Simon, for all the, at times, wonderful football, the asulym that was MFC was being run by the lunatics.

      Looking back you just could not of made it up. Unprofessional does not even describe half of it.

  198. If we don’t go up this season its probably a given TP will leave,
    And I can see a revamp of the first team ,a mixture of young and experience,
    The trouble is ,will the fans understand or walk away as they have done in the past.
    The club it self is bi polar. Raises the bar by spending a fortune on players gets giddy before the season starts then watch’s them under perform to expectations ,and lives in hope instead of turning teams over with ease.
    The question is why?, what or who within this club , has for too long held back the potential of this club .
    Everything is in place but we act like we are a middle of the. road outfit.
    Maybe its time Steve G.gave us a state of the union address ,I’m more interested in who is making the decisions on scouting and signings, what is their record, and what is the criteria ,millions and millions on average talent, sitting on the bench.
    I’m not moaning but I want answers as to these poor signings and why it continues.

    1. gt, and for all your questions, you will get no answers, especially from Mr Gibson.

      As I said recently, how a successful self made business man can make some of the decision Mr Gibson has made, beggers belief. And as far as we the paying fans are aware, nobody has been relieved of their job after making the same mistakes over a number of years. Recruitement is difficult and fraught with risks, we all appreciate that. However we are supposed to be employing professionals at this…….you would not believe it with some of the buys.

    1. Braveheart, when we to fail to get promotion this season, Mr Pulis will leave at the end of his contract which is I believe the end of this season also.

      The purse strings will be tightened, and a cheaper Management team employed. SD is also out of contract at the end of the season. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum,

  199. Are we looking forward to tomorrow’s game? Well I am. But what can we expect? That’s a tricky question. I’m pretty hopeless at guessing Boro’s results, so won’t be surprised at anything between a two goal defeat and a two goal victory. I suppose that’s what makes following the Boro so irritating at times. Fingers crossed then for a win.

  200. Watching the highlights of that game – a missed penalty, two disallowed goals and we still came from behind to win – you might think Monk was hard done by. He actually finished his Boro reign with three home wins in four and two wins in three.

    But we all know the reality was different.

    I believe his head was turned by Swansea around that time?

  201. Tony Pulis still ranting about having to play Sheffield Wednesday tonight, and apparently he’s written to the EFL about it. But surely it’s out of their hands as Sky are the paymasters, and we have to bow to their demands.

  202. Despite all the Gazette lads and most of ourselves thinking that a return to the wingbacks is our best bet, it seems that Pulis has always seen 4-3-3 as his preferred formation. He played it for most of last season and after the transfer window closed this season he seems to have moved back towards it.

    The best two 4-3-3s I can think of were Pep’s Barcelona and Mourinho’s Chelsea back in 2004 – two very different ways of employing the same system with the former being possession based with high pressing and the latter playing a much deeper defensive line with devastating counter attacks. I think both had similar make-ups in midfield though: pace on the flanks and a central three comprising of a tackler (Busquets/Makelele), a passer (Xavi/Cole) and one who always gets forward and scores goals (Iniesta/Lampard).

    Clearly we won’t be, and don’t need to be, anywhere near as good as those sides but perhaps we need to look at that midfield make-up if 4-3-3 is the way we’re going to go.

    Pace on the flanks: Do Downing and Braithwaite offer enough? Downing perhaps but I’m less sure of Braithwaite. No doubt he’s one of our best players but is he a good fit in that system? Not on the wing for me. If he plays it should perhaps be as the centre forward.

    Central midfield: Clayton continues to nail the tackler role. I suspect Saville was brought in to be the goal-scoring midfielder and he needs to up his game and look to burst forward at every opportunity. The passing role is more difficult and I don’t think it can be Howson. Like Braithwaite I see him as a good player who just isn’t right for the system. Besic is the most likely though I think most of us would choose Wing.

    So, if Pulis insists on the 4-3-3 then I’d like to see:

    Shotton Ayala Fry Friend
    Wing Saville
    Downing Braithwaite Tavernier

    However I expect:

    Shotton Ayala Flint Friend
    Howson Saville/Besic
    Downing Hugill/Assombalonga Braithwaite

    Really no idea how we’ll perform.

  203. Spot on Bob.

    Hoping for a similar result tonight to last season but I’m not going to predict the team I would like to see as the one that TP picks will just disappoint me.

    At least as its on Sky I can watch on my big Telly rather than my phone. I’d rather it was a 3 o’clock on a Saturday though.

  204. I love Friday night games. I’ve watched so many of them – and we tend to win them.

    Off the top of my head, in 2015-16 alone…

    QPR H 1-0 Leadbitter
    Ipswich A 2-0 Stuani, Nugent
    Sheff W H 1-0 Stuani
    Wolves H 2-1 Ramirez 2
    Hull H 1-0 Nugent
    QPR A 3-2 Rhodes, Ramirez, Gibson

    Not too shabby, eh?

  205. Well, I decided that I too would take an international break that was too good to miss……….

    Shame as I missed the England win against Spain which shows that the kids can do it. Wonder if TP was watching? Doubt it somehow, mores the pity.

    I am not that confident about tonight, our form has been poor and Wednesday are doing ok. Whilst I remember the good games at Hillsboroigh, I also recall the bad ones where AK decided to have an experiment and we paid the price.

    I suspect TP will play safe with the 4 3 3 ish formation and wouldn’t be surprised if it was

    Shotton Ayala Flint Friend
    Clayton Saville Howson
    Downing Hugill Britt

    And the result will be that we lose 1 0

    Sorry to be doom and gloom

  206. Once more no prediction as such from me, only to say, we have been poor since Leeds and rather lucky to be where we are in the League. More down to other teams being as poor.

    Mr Pulis always has a readymade excuse for when the performance is not good and the result wrong.

    The selection for tonight I think will be as predictable as ever, continuing with little pace. As to the actual line-up and system.

    Andy…..pace on the flanks? We do not have any. Shotton and George are ponderous and for me are only acceptable when we are playing five at the back. When they play as part of a four, the are found wanting and exposed. Lolley v Shotton against Forrest. Same for George, he gets left so many times now.

    Of the players being picked, sadly I have to admit the Stewie is probably the best we have, and that is an indictment of our weakness in that area.

    TP will as ever play safe and go with five at the back. It will then be the same non existent distribution to the one or two up front. Not sufficient chances made, Mr Pulis blaming Britt or whoever for missing the only two half chances in the game.

    No prediction as I said, but can I see us winning. Not really, just hope to be proven wrong.

  207. I used to believe every manager deserved a chance, and if the results were mostly the right ones, or if not, so close to being the right ones, there was no need for fan vitriol or the owners to panic.

    In studying the departures of Clement from Derby, Puel from Southampton and of course the fall of AK I’ve learned it’s very different.

    Even under Mogga, results weren’t the worst when he was dismissed, and we repeatedly looked (stop me if you’ve heard this before) one missed chance, one defensive blunder or one freakish ten-minute spell away from “getting it right”.

  208. More “Friday Night Highlights”…

    Forest H 3-0 Friend, Vossen, Leadbitter
    Wigan H 1-0 Bamford
    Norwich A 1-0 Tettey og
    Brentford A 2-1 Vossen, Amorebieta
    Brentford H 3-0 Tomlin, Kike, Amorebieta


    Leeds H 3-0 Bamford 3


    WBA H 1-0 Ayala

  209. Just to prove miracles do happen, I heard this strange noise just before lunchtime and couldn’t initially work out what is was – it then dawned on me it was the sound of telephone ringing! It was the engineer from our service provider informing us after ten days of no internet or telephone they’d finally got around to fixing the problem!

    So not exactly efficient but extremely timely and means I should be able to see the game tonight 🙂 Anyway, I’ve also quickly penned a very belated discussion blog article to keep everything tidy and allow the post-match comments not to get lost among the hundreds of post…

  210. Sad to say it would appear that Werdermouth still has no internet access so we’re missing his historical review of this evening’s match. I can’t promise to be as eloquent as our blogmeister, nor as witty with anecdotal facts, but perhaps I might be able to throw some thoughts about our opponents.

    As most of you will probably know Sheffield FC is the oldest established club in the World having been founded in 1857 and are still existence although actually playing over the border in Dronfield, Derbyshire. Our opponents tonight, like many clubs, were formed from a meeting with the Wednesday Cricket Club and started life at Bramhall Lane, now of course the home of Sheffield United.

    The Wednesday FC were actually the first club to win a match with a ‘golden goal’ in extra time and in semi-darkness against Garrick in the Cromwell Cup match in 1868, except of course it was not known a ‘golden goal’ at the time. They had the distinction also being the first club to appoint a professional player called James Lang in 1876 before professional footballers came into vogue in the ensuing 4 years. In 1882 they severed relations with the Wednesday Cricket Club.

    Having lost most of their players to professional clubs The Wednesday FC club went through a barren spell, they decided to turn professional in 1887 and moved to New Grove and eventually to Hillsborough in Owlerton, hence their nickname of The Owls. In the meantime Sheffield United were founded in 1889 and adopted Bramhall Lane as their home. As with all clubs from the same city there began a fierce rivalry between the two clubs. There is even a rumour, unsubstantiated I have to say, that Wednesday fans will not eat bacon because it reminds them of United’s coloured stripes.

    The Wednesday FC were promoted to the old First Division in 1900 as Champions, two years before the Boro, and were Champions in 1903 and 1904 before changing their name to Sheffield Wednesday in 1929 when they again became Champions again in two successive seasons. Since then, especially in the 1950s they became known as a yo-yo club, relegated three times but each time gaining promotion in the following season.

    Hillsborough has often been a venue for FA Cup Semifinals and notoriously the scene of the greatest sports tragedy in English football history when 94 people lost their lives in the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest match in April 1989. Indeed Boro won their FA Cup Replay against Chesterfield there in 1997. However it hasn’t been a particularly good hunting ground for Boro until recently. Boro went into their last match in the 1988/89 season in 17th position never having been in the bottom three all season, but lost 0-1 at Hillsborough and were relegated. However Boro have won their last two matches there and won 3 of their last 6 there. There has been only one draw there since the Second World War in the 1973/74 season, but only 7 wins and 16 defeats.

    Of course I’ve always maintained that previous results have no bearing on current matches, but one draw in 24 does mean that probably another one is due soon. Anyway enjoy the match, and let’s hope for a win.

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