Boro’s international men of mystery hoping to regroup

Championship 2018-19: Week 12

Fri 19 Oct – 19:45: Sheffield Wednesday v Boro

Werdermouth looks ahead to the post international break Friday game…

Boro’s harmless globe-trotters returned to Teesside this week as they top the bill on Friday evening and prepare to wow the TV viewers with another display of unbelievable skills and fancy footwork. Although Tony Pulis appears somewhat upset that Boro are playing Wednesday on Friday instead of Saturday and perhaps thinks the concept is far too demanding for many of his players – who gave the distinct impression last time out that they didn’t know what day it was as they failed to turn up against Forest. The Boro manager believes it’s unfair that his club have ten players dashing back from international duty for the early game compared to the Owls solitary player screeching to a halt outside Hillsborough.

Some on Teesside may be surprised to discover that their team is magnet for international players – though others have long suspected our recruitment department probably Google the phrase “current international” and then starts at page 100 to beat the competition to hidden gems. However, with 211 countries affiliated to FIFA, who select players for several teams at various levels, then you’d be surprised if anyone on more than five grand a week wasn’t representing their country in some capacity – after all Theresa May has to do it for just three grand a week and as far as we know hasn’t even got time to get a tattoo of Brexit means Brexit on her back.

Tony Pulis has no doubt spent the last couple of weeks trying to work out how to get Boro back to their early season best. Reports have emerged that he’s pinpointed the problem as being that his strikers simply need to take their chances. Although, it’s still not clear if ‘Boro striker’ is actually a job title or in fact an oxymoron. Few are confident that either Britt Assombalonga, Jordan Hugill, Rudy Gestede or even Ashley Fletcher have what it takes to bang them in on a consistent basis – the fact that their manger has now joined the ranks of the doubters must be of concern to those looking for someone to spearhead the promotion challenge.

Of course, it’s not just down to the strikers and in recent weeks the midfield has not looked overly creative or capable of providing that killer pass – or indeed appeared like hitting the target themselves. The last midfielder who seemed to show an eye for a goal was George Saville and he was promptly rewarded by being retreated to the holding role where he subsequently bombed against Forest. Though to be fair to Saville, everyone bar Downing bombed against Forest as they easily put in the worst performance of the season in front of a disgruntled Riverside crowd.

Talking of explosive midfield talent, Tony Pulis declared this week that he was delighted with Lewis Wing and that: “He’s come on a bomb since going out on loan. The lad has come on a bomb.” I suppose it makes a change from other recently acquired midfielders who cost a bomb and look more like a suspect device than a carefully guided missile. I suspect the former Shildon winger is probably wondering when such praise will manifest itself with a starting berth. Pulis seems to be trying to use him as an example to entice other young players at the club to go out on loan. He cited his loan spell last season as the main reason he’s “pushed on” but it’s hardly encouragement to hear “Lewis has got a long way to go yet, but we’re delighted with him. Given time, he’s got a great chance.” Though with his previous performances this season it’s hard to see why his time hasn’t already come and how long exactly is the way that he needs to go? hopefully not all the way to Villa!

After a shaky start where they lost two and drew one of their opening games, Sheffield Wednesday have only suffered defeat in just one of their last nine games, which was against Forest at the hands of the newly converted Aitor ‘attack is the best form of defence’ Karanka. Under the permanently sad-looking Dutchman Jos Luhukay, the Owls now sit just three points behind Boro in sixth spot and they will be looking to make their manager threaten a smile with another victory. Although this fixture traditionally sees both managers being shown the door following the final whistle after both Garry Monk and Carlos Carvalhal were given early Christmas red cards from their chairman last season. Nevertheless, I suspect you’d get decent odds on the same happening this season if you head to the bookies with the daftest of quids. Boro supporters main worry will be the fear of Adam Reach scoring the inevitable goal against his former club – he has in fact netted twice in the last three games, including that screamer against Leeds. Whether he’ll prove that academy graduates need to got out on permanent loan in order make a career for themselves is perhaps a discussion for another day.

Following that poor performance before the international break, where Tony Pulis compared his players to a “bag of potatoes”, he may be struggling on how to separate those who can Smash the league from the other spuds in the squad – though other table-topping dehydrated instant mashed-potato products are available. Perhaps he just got all the players in circle and said “OK lads get your spuds out” before eliminating individuals with “one potato, two potato, three potato, four, five potato, six potato, seven potato, more – sorry Wingy you’re the first one out…” Anyway, whatever team we end up with let’s hope Pulis gets them playing out of their skins and Boro’s season doesn’t end up half-baked. But before I leave, I’m contractually obliged to state that if Boro win on Friday night then they can go top of the league, which is often an overly optimistic statement that is sadly usually followed by the phrase ‘another missed opportunity’ – I suspect Tony Pulis will be hoping he won’t have to raid his book of vegetable metaphors come the post-match press conference.

Some history on the Owls

Ken Smith takes brief historic look at Sheffield Wednesday…

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.

139 thoughts on “Boro’s international men of mystery hoping to regroup

  1. Werder,

    Another good article written in double quick time on the back of a Tudor Crisp packet. I liked the reference to Theresa, who negotiates as hard a Mother Theresa.

    Mr Pulis has a chip on his shoulder about our non-strikers so I’m going for Owls 2 – 0 Boro as our spuds fail to come to the boil, but remain depressingly consistent in the lone striker furrow.



  2. Another gem Weder and Jarsue beat me to the chip on the shoulder comment!

    I wonder if we can produce a golden performance and see one of our strikers hitting the target and then peeling away in celebration with Fry! Still we are the Reds.

    I just hope that we don’t get roasted!


  3. Werder pleased to see you have your internet back in time for tonight. On second thoughts!!!! Hopefully you are not left sighing, if only they had waited another 24 hours to find the fault.

    I have just come in after a little Community gardening, not Service I hasten to add and sat down with a cup of tea. Opened the blog, saw you where back and started to read the Headliner. Tea all over the coffee table (why is it a coffee table and not a tea table…..Ken may have the answer).

    Werder your posts should come with a warning. Talk about laugh out loud and chuckled all the way through….brilliant.

    Let’s hope that Mr Pulis is also laughing at 21.30pm.

  4. Good to have you back Werder with another great read conjured up at short notice proving that German efficiency isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be. Possibly!

    I do get where TP is coming from re the international breaks and lack of time with a lot of the first team squad but we all know that money is king and Sky can do pretty much what the hell they like with fixture dates. We’re not the only team that will “suffer” before the season finishes.

    I’m more worried that tonight’s ref has given 48 yellow and 2 red cards in 6 championship games. Nailed on Clayts and Ayala will get a yellow or more than likely two and an early bath.

  5. Welcome back Werder and thanks for the great read and laughs.

    I have some positive news on the streaming front but will post separately over the weekend on what has been happening.

    Btw – TP has got his excuses in early, stating that he has only had a couple of days to work with a full squad and some have done a lot of travelling and played two games. Hardly motivational!!

    A point at Wednesday would be a good point given their current run of form but are we up for it or is this another typical Boro moment? I can’t say I am full of confidence after the last dismal display and wouldn’t be surprised to see us lose 2-0.

  6. I was straight out of the door after posting up the mini-article as had to finish a job before it got dark and now on pre-match kitchen duties as usual. So a quick thanks for all your comments on the piece, much appreciated and will try to post before and after the game. I’ll be interested to see the teamsheet and who is not too tired to play. Will hopefully find an unofficial link for the game too!

  7. So the hot potatoes tonight are Randolph, Shotton, Ayala, Flint, Fry, Friend, Clayton, Besic, Howson, Downing, Assombalonga.

    Looks like a back five and possibly Downing in the number ten role behind Britt.

    As for the bench – there’s still no place for Bomber Lewis Wing with Lonergan, Batth, McQueen, McNair, Saville, Hugill, Gestede making a rather physical looking set of options to squash any potential Owls revival.

    1. Having Hugill and Gestede on the bench will either prove to be a masterstroke or a noose of his own making. Lets hope for all our sakes the next time I see the pair of them is on Redcar beach in the morning. At least he has realised 50% of his errors and brought Fry back in.

  8. Will it be a Friday Fish Fry!

    Surprised that Fry included and Besic but it may give us something.

    Could be a 5 4 1 leaving Britt to run around chasing shadows.

    The cunning plan is for set pieces……….

  9. Looks like business as usual. Not much attacking flair in the team and plenty of defending steel. Playing for a draw – again and hoping to nick a goal – again and no room for Wing – again. How does this advance the cause of promotion?

  10. So German Karma has struck me after my whinge earlier in the week siding with Werder’s view of perceived German efficiency. The notoriously inefficient db rail system has caused me to miss my flight despite planning to catch the train before the one I should actually require and with it all hope of maybe listening to the second half on the drive home.

    If anyone thinks the UK rail system is archaic (which in fairness it actually is) the rail system over here makes it look world class. Anyway I’m hoping for a Typical Boro evening and a convincing 3-1 win or better because I won’t be able to see it. My head however tells me a bad night at the Office with TP’s early pre-emptive excuses being wheeled out teflon style. Hope its the former!

    1. Sorry to hear you’ve fallen victim to German inefficiency – hopefully you won’t have to wait ten days for the next flight 🙂 The real problem with Germany is the hierarchical structure of businesses and their love of the trappings and power of their positions – btw enjoyed your post in response to my telecoms rant!

  11. The team sheet screams of aiming for a point, which with a that team may be an ambition too far.
    Expect Rudy Mentary to lumber onto the field with ten minutes remaining as we chase the game.
    Night Owls 2
    Norman Rockcliffe 0

  12. I personally think that TP is working his ticket. And I hope he gets it a.s.a,p. I do not think that we can go on in this fashion, it is simply not sustainable.
    The awful buys, the deliberate blanking of players like Wing, whilst encouraging players like Gestede ( quite awful) we are going the journey in slow motion, and he really does not tick a single box. Time expired methinks.

  13. Boro looked in control in the first half and passed it around pretty well but no cutting edge – Wednesday gave the ball away quite a bit with sloppy passing but Boro yet to find a clear opportunity to miss. Has that look of a 0-0 and neither keeper needing to work that hard. Howson looks a bit off the pace and could be time for McNair to get his chance. Though not too many options that would make the difference available on the bench for Pulis.

  14. Very poor game by both teams with a lack of players , probably Downing apart, not able to pass and move.
    Afraid Friend who has been a good player has lost it.
    Assambolonga, getting no service , but his first touch is useless.
    No point in getting crosses into the box as , apart from Assambolonga, no one is getting into the box.
    We just don’t have players who can control the game particularly driving forward from midfield – how many times has that been said ?!!
    It looks as a single goal will win the game.
    Hope the second half improves

  15. I don’t know what world some of the posters live in. Are they looking for reasons to be miserable. We’re looking like a solid well-run club with an improving supply line of young players and people are going on as if it is the end of the world. This is not blind optmisim just a realisation of who we are and what is reasonable.

    By the way, it’s been Wednesday who have been playing long balls. We’ve worked it forward on the ground. Sorry if that doesn’t fit with peoples’ rants. Main issue is limited close support for Britt.

    Will people be upset if we go on to wn?


    1. Selwyninoz
      I would like them to win every match that they play, 4-0, this match in particular,
      But then, I am a fan.
      But, the normal approach to getting promoted is to be good all round, feared by most teams you meet, rock solid both in defence and sharp in attack, and, most important reliant week in, week out, never dropping your concentration or your attitude.
      There has been a most important change in personnel, the return of Fry to the centre of our defence, which means we get some balls played forward from our defence. We will of course see if he stays in the team?

  16. Well , one team improved and one didn’t until the last few minutes. Good play by Downing in the build up to the first goal and the second goal was a gift.

    After that the team were in command and had two or three decent chances with breakaways but failed to capitalise on them. A bit like the Ipswich game.

    Excellent goal by Reach and then a bit nervy. Fortunately won the scrum down in the last minute and the referee couldn’t see where the ball was and sensibly gave a foul. If he hadn’t what would have happened ? – probably more players falling on the heap of players!!

    Pleased with three points but still not convincing in creating chances.
    Still, the League table looks better than a couple of hours ago.

  17. After a first half of few opportunities (just 1 goal on target in the 44th minute from both sides) that Boro looked in control, they got the breakthrough early in second half as Besic broke into the box to slot home. A gift from Wednesday 6 minutes later allowed Besic to set up Assombalonga for an unmissable chance. It looked like the third goals was only a matter of time but despite numerous corners and chances it didn’t arrive. Then another Adam Reach superb strike left Boro hanging on for the the three points and only a goal-line defensive scrum kept the Owls out. So Boro finally deliver on the chance to go top with a well-deserved win.

  18. A great away win at Shef Wed, especially considering the short time he had a number of players back. We done tonight what West Brom and Leeds couldn’t do, even Villa were beat by Wednesday at home. A credible performance, although we tired in the latter stages, although I am sure there will be the usual suspects to find something to be negative about.

    We are top of the league

    We are top of the league

    Come on BORO.

  19. After years of secretively following the Boro on the net from AV’s blog to Diasboro I think it is time to introduce myself. I have now lived in Cumbria for 33 years but the Boro are still my team. I like watching football and even went to Barcelona last March to see them play (Barcelona won 2 – 0 and Messi scored!) but the difference is that while I enjoy seeing some teams winning, following the Boro is an emotional attachment. I am so happy when we win and hurt when we lose.

    I am now 70 and first went to matches in the late 1950’s when I would pay to get into the boy’s end and climb over the wall and run to the front of the stand. My matches were occasional until in 1966 I went to college in London and realised my attachment to Middlesbrough. Being in London gave me the chance to get to the London grounds (especially when Man Utd and George Best were playing) but seeing the Boro playing at Charlton or Crystal Palace were the highlights. In 1967 I was in London when Boro were to play Oxford in the promotion game from Div 3 and went to college in the morning, got a train to Middlesbrough, had tea at home then went to see us beat Oxford Utd 4 – 1 and got a train about midnight back to London. On returning to live in Middlesbrough I have at various times had a season ticket or gone to some matches but since moving to Cumbria it has become clear that the Middlesbrough area (especially New Marske) will always be my real home.

    I cannot drive and the last train home on a Saturday would mean leaving the ground about 16:40 so I have usually have to stay in a hotel for Saturday and mid-week games which makes it rather expensive but I do get to most ‘home’ games and last year I got a 3 year season ticket so I now have a name rather than a seat number!

    I enjoy Diasboro because I recognise that there are supporters all over the world who feel the same about the Boro and see the same game as myself rather than the national media view. I wish my memory was as good as some of the contributors but I do remember the Clough, Peacock, Day and Holiday team and although I saw us draw with Leicester, and lose 3 times against Chelsea at Wembley (I hate Chelsea) I feel I was very privileged to have been in Cardiff for the League Cup win.

    After the disappointment of the Nottingham Forest game it was a relief to see a win against Sheffield Wednesday though I needed a full bottle of Malbec! Keep up your good work on the Blog.

    1. I think I got the score correct in here before the match. Having seen the match on TV, I think we played well. I felt like a home match for Boro and the intensity was back. I was gutted we conceded a goal, though.

      I saw Adam Reach’s debut at Riverside during the Mogga era. So I have always had a soft spot for him. His goal was great but we should have been 0-3 up by that time. Besic was a bit selfish and had he passed to Assombalonga era
      Lier we sure had made it three nil.

      Sheffield came to the match only after their goal but that was expected as they were the home team and had played better than us recently.

      Excellent result and full credit to the players and Tony Pulis. We clearly deserved the three points. Up the Boro!

  20. I thought it was an excellent game with both teams for the most part having a go.
    Once again though the final pass or the correct one was missing, which is the reason certain players are at this level.
    I didn’t think Downing was especially good as some have said, also I’m afraid George is really just too erratic ,
    Besic was outstanding, as was the back three, Tony must realise this formation suits us the best.
    All in all a big win against a team at home, who were playing to go above us.
    This team still wakes up the old ulcer, crazy this league.

  21. Another go at posting, I don’t know what happened to the last one. Obviously the computer said no. Anyway it’s good to get your prediction wrong and a win is a win as some philosopher must have said.

    How Ayala stayed on I do not know the forearm smash looked very calculated to me but he got away with with a notoriously card happy referee.

    We won, that’s all that matters but good old Boro have a real way of doing it the hard way, as GT says they can wake your ulcer up. Or give you one. Or give you hypertension, high blood pressure, palpitations, in fact the whole box of stress related tricks seems to be permanently at their exclusive disposal.

    Never mind three points in the bag.



  22. Finally arrived home last night just after 1.00 am so missed the game entirely. I did manage to get a written commentary feed from the MFC App for the duration of the first half before boarding my flight at half time. My thoughts on reading the commentary was that it seemed a fairly inauspicious event which didn’t really have much to get excited about apart from the Adam Reach header that hit the woodwork. An away draw against a top 6 (or even a top 8 side) is a decent result in this league so at 45 minutes my view was half full and that we wouldn’t go top but probably hang on for the point.

    Getting off the flight and switching the phone back on I was delighted to see the 1-2 scoreline as it was certainly more than I was expecting after the first half. This morning’s reading material seems to paint a picture that Stewy was in fine form and that Mo was back to his last season best despite his travelling and games this week, it may be that he is one of those players that needs to be kept sharp?

    Watching bits of videos this morning (which I accept are piecemeal and in no way a true or accurate reflection) but it looks like Ayala was lucky to stay on and lets hope nothing retrospective can happen. Mo’s goal was brilliantly worked and set up, the second one was down to good pressuring and whilst not trying to take anything from Britt’s finish but lets be honest it was rank poor diabolical defending. The Reach goal was inevitable but thanks to his teammates previous dire dithering it didn’t count in the grander scheme.

    The scrum at the end could have been the leveller that would have created that Typical Boro moment but it was impressive and heart-warming to see them all pile in. United in making sure the goal line was not breached even if it was more suitable to Twickenham than Hillsborough, especially Clayts!

    Going back to the MFC App, I get team news updates just prior to the official announcement which pops up on my phone which is great. I can just see the keeper and back line as a teaser but then when I open it by clicking on it to see the entire team it takes me not unreasonably to the main MFC App site where the team is always declared as “unannounced yet” (appearing five to ten minutes later). Any one else have this irksome tease or is it just my lack of tech savvy in handling the pop up?

  23. Streaming Issues Update

    On Thursday I received a telephone call from Alex at MFC re issues with our iPad and not being able to receive the Forest stream. Boro were streaming live video and audio tests on Thursday but again I was unable to access. As instructed, I checked the software version on our 5/6 year old iPad which showed that it was up to date with version iOS 10.3.3 installed. Alex thought they were using a newer version and whilst he checked with the techies I loaded the App onto my iPhone. Alex stated that they were using a later iOS version and that was probably the issue with the iPad.

    We then found out I could not link accounts on the iPhone or log in. I then had to go to the lap top and log onto and go to linked accounts where I needed to click on a secondary “link account” connection. Having completed that, I went back to the iPhone and found that I could link accounts and sign in and receive both the video and audio test streams. I queried if this fix would also have fixed the iPad but Alex did not think it would as he had been informed it was a software issue. We agreed that I would try it later. Sure enough, having tried the App again on the iPad I found I could sign in and pick up to two test streams. I advised Alex and he responded as follows:

    “Thank you for letting me contact you to resolve the issues and in turn potentially find solutions for other people!

    It’s very strange that it is now working on the iPad after that secondary linking to an account. Something we will definitely have a look in to!”

    Later that day I was invited to take part on Friday in a live video stream from MFC as part of their ongoing testing, to try and sort out all the problems and deliver the high quality streaming they have been aiming for.

    I was given access to the live stream at 2.00pm which was a re-run of the Bolton game earlier in the season. I was pleased to be able to feedback that I did not have any log in problems and that the stream/picture quality was very good and there were not any drop outs or freezing during the whole broadcast which lasted over two hours via my lap top. During this period I was also able to access the stream via the App on the iPad without problem.

    So fingers crossed it looks as if MFC and their partners are finally getting on top of the issues and hopefully on Tuesday we will have an uninterrupted match to watch which includes commentary, different camera angles and replays. I have Sky available but have said I will watch via the website and provide feedback.

    Btw – after a poor first half last night by both teams we showed more enterprise in the second half and deservedly scored a well worked goal and were then gifted another. We controlled the majority of the second half but failed to capitalise on two/three good opportunities and then set up another nail biting end to a game when Reach scored another great goal from outside the box.

    At least we hung on and gained to my surprise and delight three points. I had posted before the game that a point would have been a good one against a side currently on a good run. The second half was probably one of Besic’s best since his arrival last year and Howson, Clayton and Downing made notable performances.

    We now need to build on this and put Rotherham to the sword on Tuesday at the Riverside, CoB.

    1. KP, I will try to watch the Rotherham match on Tuesday via the MFC ap, the day before I leave Mexico and I will post how it goes, if that’s any help.

      Come on BORO.

  24. Welcome aboard David. It’s always good to hear other Boro fans views.

    A poor first half no doubt but the start to the second 45 shows just how much harrying and chasing down the opposition in this league can lead to costly mistakes.

    We were under no pressure for virtually 80 minutes minutes and if not for Reach hitting his now obligatory belter they wouldn’t have scored in another 90 minutes but when he did it was panic stations. Why? Yes Wednesday upped their tempo but hitting it long to Nuhui(?) was their one and only option and with our back line it shouldn’t be as much as an issue as it was.

    Good finish from Besic and Brit kept his head when presented his goal on a plate. Can’t argue with Besic being motm but I was impressed (again) with Fry and once again Downing proved the doubters, me included, that he’s more than good enough to keep his place in the starting 11. I thought Fry looked the more composed and comfortable on the ball than either Flint or Ayala.

    In the first 45 Brit kept diving around whenever a Wednesday player was anywhere near him, which frankly I found embarrassing. Second half he stayed on his feet and contributed to a much better team performance. So please Brit cut out the histrionics and concentrate on playing football. You really are better at the latter and that’s from someone who’s not been one of his biggest fans.

    I thought the referee was very poor. Ayala should’ve had a red and there were numerous deliberate late and dangerous challenges he continually let the home side get away with. As predicted both Clayts and Ayala got yellow carded.

    Overall a thouroughly deserved 3 points and my only gripes re the Boro was the exclusion of Wing, Tavernier and Chapmanfrom the match day squad. Fair enough not having all 3 involved but one or two would signal a more forward looking set up imo.

    I loved the American football style pile up at the end. I was laughing out loud and the poor ref looked like he really didn’t know what was going on or what to do. Not his fault that time to be fair.


    It’s surprising how many championship teams don’t look convincing but manage to get promoted. Hopefully we’ll be one of them.

    For what it’s worth I think if we start games playing like we did second half last night we’re in with more than a decent chance of promotion. Last 10 minutes aside.

  25. Came down this morning and locked myself in the video room to watch the game, I then decided to go and cook breakfast whilst the first half was on, because watching bacon crisp at the edges on the BBQ was far more entertaining than what was on offer on the box. Sad really, because I thought that we were back to the shape that suits us best and finally, a crack appeared in TP’s armour through which Dael Fry fell through and to get back to where he belongs, in the first team.

    Any way, breakfast devoured and all avenues of media of a sports kind avoided, the second half beckoned. I’m sorry, but will the person responsible for looking after Brit’s boots please replace the ball bearings with studs, they grip so much better and prevent the inevitable result of sitting on one’s big fat one without them. Also, can we please prevent Brit swapping them for Hugill’s when they change over as subs, because he’s the most horizontal target man I’ve ever seen in my life. Can we send him back to watch the lights on Oxford street come Christmas, because at the moment all he’s watching is his bank account gaining momentum, I’d sooner have West Ham pay for the honour.

    Back to Brit, did someone in our much vaunted recruitment team get their decimal point wrong on the cheque that we paid for him, 14 million for someone that wouldn’t be dangerous if he took to the field with a Kalashnikov, shouldn’t that have been 1.4 million with a returns policy that every reputable high street outlet offers these days for faulty goods?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy with the three points and a much needed moral boosting win over strong opponents, but I feel a lot more underwhelmed than during our campaign under AK, or was his run to the promised land subject to more hype than what we’re experiencing this time around? Or is it TP’s fault that he wasn’t born on the continent as was our previous messiah, a welshman instead of a Basque, there again it’s better than a Welshman wearing a Basque. PPP, stop it right now, the connotations are getting right out of hand!

    I’m struggling to get any enthusiasm towards our season so far, is it just me or does there seem to be something missing?

  26. I actually enjoyed the whole match. This is after all the Championship with no outstanding teams, so should we be surprised at the occasional woeful pass? What will separate the wheat from the chaff though is during a 20 or 30 minutes spell when a piece of brilliance opens up a defence as happened with our first goal, or a defensive lapse which resulted in our second. That’s why it is what it is. A 70 minutes of perfection which Boro might be capable of would see them walking this League.

    One thing I didn’t like though is Ayala’s manhandling which is becoming a regular occurrence. Wrestling was never one of my favourite sports, but Rugby League is and the last minute scrummage was worthy of the best of Super League. However I’m glad that Adam Clayton maybe doesn’t watch too much Rugby League where the object of saving a try is to drag the player with the ball over the try line whilst keeping him on his back and arms round him preventing him touching down. I reckon eventually we might have seen half a dozen Boro players on top of each other until the final whistle was blown.

  27. Today’s results so far have been kind to us: Blackburn beat the Dirties by 2-1 (the first scored by dear old Danny Graham after two minutes) & Wigan WBA by 1-0, so we’re still top of the league on goal difference. Just need the Rams to see off the Blades in the 5.30 kick-off now… *prays*

  28. No matter what happens at 17:30, we will still be in the top two, possibly pole position but a very long way to go.

    I see people didn’t let me down, spending most of their post “whinging” about things about the match, rather than celebrating BORO being the first team to win at Hillsborough, never mind what ever makes them happy.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Exmil

      I thought this was an open forum where individuals are able to express their views as they see fit even if they don’t align with yours and without being criticised for it.

      If we start moaning about one another’s views then it leads to driving people away and that would be a shame as they is a brilliant blog.

      To coin a phrase, just saying like. CoB 😎

      1. I disagree, exmil’s view is valid. Nothing wrong with opinion and debate , the blog would be a lot poorer without opinion being expressed on others opinions.

    2. Exmil2017,

      I’m right up there with your appraisal of where we stand post Derby v Sheff Utd but, I’m far from a whinger, and if you see me as one then so be it. There again, if you, as an ex-mil man see the likes of Dunkirk as a victory, then every defeat or set back the Boro endure, can only be seen in your eyes as purely and simply as the next step forward, or backward, as the case may be. We have to address our deficiencies, and trust me we have plenty of them, but at the same time not get carried away with our, so far, flimsy successes.

      I apologise unreservedly if anyone on this blog, or beyond for that matter, that takes offence to my reference to Dunkirk and the desperate souls that had the ultimate misfortune to be there, my dad was one of them and then was fortunate (Mmm, choice words) enough to exact pay back at Normandy, his medals since his demise are proudly displayed in my study.

      I always thought that a lump in a man’s throat was his Adam’s apple, try and visit a military tribute and really see what a lump is, ultimate respect to me dad and the lads that went before him and continue to carry out our country’s defence requirements after his service. You really are a beacon of light to us all.

      1. PPP……absolutely no need to apologise.

        We, the United Kingdom and our Cousins, have nothing, nothing to be sorry about,. Have we made mistakes, yes. Have we given the world more in ite place??

    3. Exmil

      Boro fans do like a good moan, me being one of them, but it does seem that some are only happy when picking holes in the teams performance.

  29. We won last night because the intensity of the team’s play was stepped up in a big way in the second half with the result that Wednesday were forced into a couple of errors from which Boro scored. They need to play with that intensity every week.

    Just a couple more comments. First I think Ayala was lucky to stay on the pitch after clearly elbowing the Wednesday player in the face. There is no doubt that he is a tough competitor but unless he tones it down a bit he will cost us a few matches this season. Second, I am really please for Tony Mowbray to see him doing well at Blackburn.

    1. Seen a bit more of the game now and for me Fry adds a touch of class to the bruiserish Ayala/Flint combo. Nothing wrong with those two but to have a bit of composure and class does help to diffuse situations as well as set up attacks. Fry looks a million per cent better than Friend as part of a back three and without the wing back system we don’t stretch teams enough and don’t have wide outlets.

      The results all went our way today but the season still has over 6 months to go. Had that scrum gone in or Lees hadn’t had an aberration we wouldn’t be top tonight so we need to enjoy the rub of the green because there will be plenty of reverse fortunes up ahead when we will be robbed. As regards Britt I have to agree that playing on your feet Ronaldo style is far better than playing on your Jacksie, Hugill style.

      Pleased for Mogga and hope it continues to go well for him apart from two games of course!

      1. RR
        I agree with you about the back three of, bruiser, Fry, bruiser, is very strong, far better than three bruisers in a row. Probably because Fry adds a bit of class when he plays quick balls forward to an attacker.
        If we could talk Wing into the team, followed by Tavernier, we might have even more chance of going up.

  30. A great result for us last night and a brilliant set of results today. Good to see Mogga on the rise, hope he finishes second to the Boro come May.
    I thought we played some very good football in the second half, Downing, Besic & Howson were all excellent.
    I particularly enjoyed watching Clayton pushing his team mates and the ball away from the goal line at the death…….class.
    I’m a big Pulis fan, he’s created an excellent team, that plays good quality football.
    An excellent opportunity for three more points on Tuesday when Rotherham come to town.

  31. I’d be the first to admit that I tend to see the positives in Boro performances rather than dwelling on the negatives and reckon that comes from having supported them through the long dark period from the late fifties and so the more recent times seem so much more positive. Equally I can recognise when we do things badly and acknowledge them and fully accept the people who choose to point this out in detail.

    What I find harder is the knee jerk reaction that always seems to find the negatives with no positives and, in particular, the moaning about TP. I listen to all of his press conferences and interviews and find it refreshing to find us with a manager who states simple truths and seems to care about the ethos of the club and the people in it. Am I old-fashioned in valuing this? Maybe, but I honestly believe that he is helping to lay a foundation that will see Boro through the next five to ten years.

    Anyway, when I went to bed last night, I didn’t expect to wake up and find us still in top spot. It perfectly illustrates the nature of the Championship that the teams in second, third, fourth and fifth could all lose and because of this we end the weekend with a net three points gain on all of them and, for the first time, on top with equal games played. The run of games through to the next international break could give us a chance to consolidate that position.

    Fingers crossed and I hope for a good win on Tuesday that can give everyone on here something to smile about.


  32. Nigel

    I am all in favour of debate and putting forward counter arguments to opinions that have been expressed. However, to state “I see people didn’t let me down, spending most of their post “whinging” about things about the match, rather than celebrating BORO being the first team to win at Hillsborough, never mind what ever makes them happy” is to my mind a criticism of those who have expressed views of a critical nature rather than a debate or counter argument.

    We are, after all, all Boro supporters who want to see them do well but some of us are still prepared to make critical comment if we feel appropriate. Others, however, tend to take a more rosy view of events and are entitled to do so.

    As an example, I do not criticise others when they make predictions of winning three or four nil, when I think how is that going to happen when we have only won three nil once and are struggling to score. In my view we all see things differently and are entitled to our view.

    Challenge and debate are all part of a healthy blog but when it degenerates into criticism of a generalist nature of others views it can be a slippery slope. Or it is in my view but others may, and are entitled to do so, differ. CoB 😎

  33. I am very proud of the Boro players who got stuck in the last minute to stop Sheffield getting an equaliser. More of this please. Ref Ayala on Steven Fletcher, so what ,this is s man’s game. You have to be ruthless. If it gets us points on the board I am happy.

    1. Braveheart, unfortuanately as much as I like Ayala, he is somewhat hot headed, and is always treading a fine line. A good CB but at times liable to give a goal or more away. Fry is generally more composed in my opinion. Flint somewhere in between.

  34. What a boring blog it would be if everyone had the same opinion, after all I am sure we all have friends and family we disagree with but have polite and rational debate.

    I always liked Adam Reach shame we let him go would be nice to have him scoring his screamers for us,

    Keep up the good debate but don’t personal, remember a certain poster who used to delight in doing just that !


    1. What a boring blog it would be if everyone had the same opinion, after all I am sure we all have friends and family we disagree with but have polite and rational debate.

      I always liked Adam Reach shame we let him go would be nice to have him scoring his screamers for us,

      Keep up the good debate but don’t personal, remember a certain poster who used to delight in doing just that !


  35. FAA

    As you rightly point out, we struggle to achieve consistency of performance over 90 minutes.

    And it’s for that reason I’m not convinced.

    However I’m willing to be convinced, in fact desperate to be so. I’m so wanting to be convinced by the Boro it’s practically an open goal. And yet here I am, unconvinced.
    Typical Boro, eh?

  36. I apologise if my post of 5:30pm has upset anyone, possibly peaspudinperth 6:15pm is correct, my military career gives me a different perspective on life.

    To explain slightly, I joined the Army in 1970 and my first posting was to northern Germany as part of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), I spent most of my first 16 years as part of NATO’s first line of defence against the Russian hoards waiting to plunder Europe, though we were told, if they did cross the border, our life expectancy would be about 20 minutes.

    During my time (1970-99), apart from the Cold War there has been the Falklands conflict, Gulf war 1, Gulf war 2, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland where I finished my last 5 years. I didn’t serve in all the conflicts but enough to value the small things in life.

    I go to every home game and like many of yourselves leave the ground upset (even angry) when it has been a dismal display and it appeared many players have not turned up but I try not to post on here until at least the next day, by which time on reflection I have found at least one positive, then I am grateful that not only am I still about to go to the match but I am in a position to afford a season ticket at 67 years of age.

    My last positive is that I have a football club, not only in the English second tier but with a more than good chance to finish in the top 6. My heart goes out to the likes of Hartlepool supporters, who, one season were looking at promotion to division 1 only, not long after were in the national league.

    Again my apologies if I upset anyone.

    Come on BORO.

    1. A friend of mine once told me it was a weakness to apologise. I countered back that in fact it was a strength of character. So well done exmiill on that score. The fact is that we all support the Boro, but can see the flaws which if eradicated will help us get promoted. I must admit that I didn’t expect all three of Leeds, West Brom and Sheff United to lose yesterday; I thought at least one of them would have overtaken us. But as I’ve mentioned before this League is low on quality, or should I say CONSISTENT quality, and through the ages we’ve labelled Boro TYPICAL either in defeat or when winning. But I bet most supporters of the present Championship clubs would attach that adjective to their clubs.

      Let’s rejoice that Boro are top of the league at the moment. I expect us to beat Rotherham on Tuesday, but let’s not be too despondent if we lose at home to Derby on Saturday. It would be typical of what we do, but whose to say that we won’t win every match from now to the next International break either. Boro still have their flaws as Tony Pulis points out, but I still think we have the potential to smash this league (where have I heard that phrase before?).

      It used to ruin my weekend when Boro lost, but as probably one of the elder statesmen on this forum, I’m much more calmer and philosophical in my dotage. We all have differing views which makes this a healthy forum, and I don’t want it to degenerate with the odd snide remark. We’ve all been respectful of each other’s views so far, and long may that continue.

    2. EXMIL

      we all know how you feel we are Boro fans and take a defeat very hard

      I too find it difficult to post after a defeat and whilst others say we don’t get beat at home very often the manner in which we lost the last home game hit me hard.

      It was interesting to hear Tony Pulis take the blame for the defeat against Forest as he said that he worked the players too hard in training for two days before the match

      So am I moaning about the Boro when we are top of the league? No it’s just human to take setbacks and I have always taken the highs very high and the lows very low.
      Just my personal make up really and I’m too old to change now.

      It’s good you’ve cleared the air and it takes a good man to do that and I’m sure it is appreciated by all

      This is a good blog with nice bloggers and of course we don’t all think alike or it wouldn’t be fun!

      Taking your anology about Hartlepool a bit further lest we forget 1986 and liquidation we’ve come a long way since then and these days are still the best


    3. I don’t see any reason to apologise. This blog is for opinions and is not visited by snowflakes who are offended at a few barbs. There is a right to reply if you don’t agree and that is an option that is exercised. There is also an option of skipping over individual posters that you may find irritating. ( my own personal method).

      The blog can be very therapeutic, to have a rant at either the Boro or other posters views, and as long as it isn’t vitriolic no harm is done.

  37. With this system of one up top, you have two types, a Shane Long kind, where you put the ball into the corners for him to run onto,or the one where you knock it into feet usually with his back to the goal, I think Brit is the former,but is being asked to play like the latter , it doesn’t add up, his first touch is questionable,
    Huggill , can hold the ball up better, Rudy is just awkward and is either or?
    I wonder at times if TP is being fair or objective to the three of them, he must understand their best qualities, and weaknesses, but seems frustrated with them, not scoring enough, any player needs to be in his comfort zone to perform at his best.
    Its just my observation , a striker is on his agenda in January, but its hard to find a perfect one, maybe a genuine number ten with pace , and a few goals in him is more the need.and a winger.

  38. I’m afraid I completely missed they match in the end – typical – but was delighted to see us go back to the wingbacks and Fry. As posted before the game, I thought it would be 4-3-3 and possibly a bit disjointed again.

    Quite an unbeliable set of results from the rest of the top lot as well.

    Rotherham at home on Tuesday present as good a chance as it gets to hold onto top spot. Stick with that shape Tony!

    1. Missed that, Ian as I was writing my own below. I would add that we beat Sheffield Utd by 3-0 this season. I hope that helps to get over the recent Boro wobble, too.

      Top of the league. Up the Boro!

  39. As we all remember we had a wobble recently. But the fact is that we are top of the division – I like that, top of the division – now and we have been better than any team during the first 13 matches of the season.

    As ExMill wrote, we are all angry and dissapointed after a bad performance and defeat. But I cannot see any point in dwelling in a defeat. I will always remember the year 1986 – and I will cherish the thought we still have Boro.

    So I try to enjoy every season. I trust the manager and players are doing their best in every match. But as this is football, we might loose occationally. This year less occationally than usually.

    I think we played well on Friday. We had the intensity back and we looked like the home team after the first 15 min rather than Wednesday did. It was hard to remember that Wednesday had defeated both Leeds and WBA at home. The Boro performance and result was outstanding after the recent problems we have had.

    But it is a marathon in the Championship. If we won on Tuesday, only then we are back to the 2,0 points per a match average what must be the aim. At least the other teams are behind us.

    Toni Pulis are due to some credit for his player selection and tactics. And the boys in red for their effort. Up the Boro!

  40. Not only are we top, but we have an opportunity to consolidate. Rotherham mustn’t be taken for granted and Derby will be tough, but the opportunity is there.

    An unbelievable set of results this weekend, I don’t think any of us would have predicted them, but no doubt there’ll be weekends when they go against us.

    The team/squad is looking good, as others have mentioned it was good to see Fry back in the team, the defence is tighter than a tight thing, midfield now that Besic is settling in is looking on the way to awesome, with Stewie and Howson in top form.
    If one of our strikers starts to score regularly (you can do it Britt), then it’ll be time to rock & roll.

    A shout out for AV, a great piece in the Gazette , his writing is first class, he paints a picture as he writes. The line about the dairy isle in Asda is top draw. If you’re reading AV, thank you.

    All I want now for a perfect weekend, is Hamilton to be world champion.

    Although I have promised to go with my wife to chose a new floor covering for the kitchen……………….

      1. Ken, My mums neighbour is a big speedway fan, he tells me Redcar are struggling somewhat this season. Financial problems I think.
        No gears and no brakes sounds like a scary prospect to me, i’ll stick to the push bike!

  41. In the history of the Championship or the former Second Division no team has ever failed to be promoted in the first two places if they finished the season with an average of 2 points a game or even 1 and a half points a game when only 2 points were awarded for a win. In fact the highest points total for a team finishing second since the introduction of the 3 points a win in 1981/82 is 93 (Burnley in 2014 and Brighton in 2017), the lowest in the Championship is 79 (Stoke in 2008 and Hull in 2013). The average points totals for Champions is 91.36 and for runners up is 87.21, so Boro are well on course for automatic promotion this season if they can maintain our current average.

    However what is interesting is that whereas only 6 teams won more away games than losses and only Preston accumulated more points away than at home last season, so far this season half the teams have won as many away wins as defeats, so are we now seeing a trend where away wins have become more important than the odd home lapse as long as those lapses aren’t against our nearest rivals.

  42. Okay. My own two pence, for what they are worth. And I apologise in advance if this may come across as a little personal.

    I don’t skip anyone’s views. I believe that there is value to everyone’s opinions, everywhere, on any blog. And that they deserve fair and proper consideration. Even those who I disagree with.

    Because it is the right thing to do.

    I try to put myself in their shoes as best as I can either side of offering my own views. I’m all too aware that people who have put a lot of effort into providing a point-of-view will not take kindly to what is considered either an insult, or abrupt and unreasonable criticism.

    Similarly, a manager, or player, who has worked really hard to make a dream a reality, with all the statistics and video evidence in the world to back up the fruit of his efforts on his side, will certainly not take kindly to being unjustly slated. Or being called “lucky”. To quote Gary Player, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

    They won’t want to be thought of as moaners, but they will clearly feel hard done by. Because even though they really ought to be schooled in brushing off even the most pointed of comments – they are still only human.

    I should add: opinions, along with people, change with time and need to be considered in context of what was discussed. As Werder once put it:

    “There’s really no point in trying to pick someone up on any particular point that they made several weeks or months ago in a previous blog post as it’s no longer in the same context of time – people give their view in good faith, whether it ultimately turns out to be right or wrong and it shouldn’t be thrown back in their face.”

    That’s why I apologised, and still do, for what I now realise were out-of-order rants, fuelled by anger and sympathy for someone who I believed could do no right in the eyes of several fans, never mind the concrete statistical and video evidence of second tier success over two years, and several other games that could have been so much different with one fewer mistake or one chance taken.

    At least that’s what I believed then. Nearly two years ago.

    What one may feel in the moment is not always “how it is”, because it is informed by passions and emotions, and one deserves the opportunity to rationalise and reflect.

    Eventually the likes of Smoggy In The Heed, the much-missed MrMisanthropeBlog and Richard Evans (“We’re always one mistake away from (the right result)”) helped put me right. Along with Anthony McCarthy, Len, Ian, Ken, several articles and several books.

    I still believe, however, that it’s never nice when the hard work of three good years seems to be undone in the eyes of many by one bad one, and that goes for more than one Boro manager. Thankfully time appears to have been kind to the men from Saltburn and the Basque Country, at least regarding sales and recruitment. Financially we’re a lot better off than we used to be. That is undeniable.

    What still hurts is the toxic, rampant, online ranting that occurred during the final years of each coach. You could have easily copied and pasted Andrew Glover’s brilliant blog on January-May 2013 and applied large parts of it to 2016-17…

    “One side was behind the manager, the other formed itself loosely around players… who weren’t involved or were perceived to be out of favour.”

    We really ought to take a step back, calm down, be open-minded, forgive, forget and understand.

    But, with passion being passion, it’s not always possible, is it?

    As Richard rightly said: things need to be considered as they are, not how we want them to be.

    It is what it is.

    1. Simon,

      I think ‘It is what it is’ should be under the club crest on the shirts, on the stadium in fact everywhere the badge is. It’s become a catch phrase on here so why not?



      PS Perhaps even player’s tattoos. Maybe not before we get out of hand.

  43. It’s occured to me that all the posts that we have written over the past few years may at some point in the future be read (when we are all long gone !) to evaluate what impact football had on individuals during our life time and also to see how social media started to develop and interact with people


    1. OFB
      You have just frightened the life out of me, to think of someone reading my outpourings after a bad defeat is scary.
      I do think that it is not impossible for the fans to be right, and the club management to be barmy.
      After all, there are clubs who crash through the leagues In two or three seasons due solely to no management whatever.

  44. As always on here a good variety of views and always well argued rather than other social media outlets. It reflects well on the contributors who, as I have, seen it all over the years.

    There have been times when I have almost be en persuaded that a view oppositite to mine is correct, such is the quality of thought and writing.

    We all have Boro in our blood and want the best for the team, however that is manifested. I have said before that our definition of success differs but come what may, that is what we want.

    The fact that we can admit when we were wrong, over the top, or just plain stupid, reflects well and makes the blogbthe joy that it is.

    Onto football, good that we are still top, due to typical Championship results which can never be predicted. Yes, we may be lucky and possibly undeserved but the table doesn’t lie.

    On Friday we did play with intensity and were chasing down Wednesday which was not evident against Forest although there were still some concerns in defence. Ayala is always one moment of madness away from a yellow or red card as is Clayton. However Clayton is usually to stop a dangerous situation developing rather than stupidity.

    I hope that we can push on and consolidate with TP realising that Wing deserves a start!


  45. I’ve taken advantage of Boro playing on Friday and it’s been a 20-hour long weekend of toil for me finishing off an outdoors project before we return to normal autumnal weather – still can’t believe last weekend was 27 degrees and that we had a week of temperatures around the mid-20s – it’s almost as if there was was some kind global warming affecting the weather but some American has assured us it’s fake news.

    Well at least Boro have turned up the heat on the promotion race and surprisingly hung on to top spot as our main rivals all lost. Having been at the Riverside for the dismal Forest showing, I wouldn’t have wagered any of your Brexit pounds that Boro would have been top after the next game. I guess that’s the nature of the Championship – everyone is consistently inconsistent and it seems our general solidity has kept us moving in an upward direction. The post-match view on Sky was that if Boro found their shooting boots then we’d walk the Championship and I’d have to agree that if Pulis finds a solution to being more potent in attack then we can look forward to remaining in the top two.

    Also caught a bit of Exmil’s over-exuberance on others perceived negativity and the subsequent responses – nice to see the blog can handle such matters with such an adult and non-confrontational approach. It’s sometimes easy to forget that everyone has there own personal reference points and perceptions of how they view events. I’m a bit like Ken in that a Boro loss is now quickly shrugged off and probably also don’t go overboard with a win either – although I’m not quite as old but probably having an 8-year old and a wife who don’t care too much about football stops it from being overly important in the house – plus living in Germany means I’ll get next to no ribbing or gloating.

    I’m also increasingly becoming less interested in general football matters, such as the PL – it’s probably happened in the last couple of years and not sure why. Perhaps it’s hype fatigue as it’s sometimes a bit of a circus – maybe Leicester winning the title cured me of the belief that football is now about the so-called ‘Big 4’ or 6. Maybe if there were more seasons like the Leicester one I’d regain my interest but I almost think we won’t see a surprise of that magnitude again and it’s all become too predictable.

    Incidentally, where once too I would have said about Boro it’s all about the result, I now hope to see more of a spectacle – I think back in the days when Boro were the cash-struck outsiders who nobody mentioned it was a sense of pride if we beat the odds – today is slightly different as our club has become one of those who splashes the cash (who still nobody talks about) and has multi-millionaire players on more than a decent whack. Football now claims to be an entertainment business but we still see coaches paralysed by the fear of losing and prefer instead to use the millions at their disposal to produce little more than anti-football. I’m not saying that is what Tony Pulis is aiming to do but there is a mindset of caution – which he even admits by stating the team starts at 0-0 and if the opposition don’t score you at least get a point.

    I also think in the the last 20-30 years the average football follower now sees so much more football from other clubs and is exposed to analysis and punditry to the point that being critical of players and team performances is instilled into our mindset. It used to be that we only ever saw the Cup Final and it was an event regardless of the entertainment on offer. Perhaps we expect more than is realistically possible but unfortunately we’ve been conditioned over many years to be judgemental – being a more passive ‘supporter’ of your local club is probably something that is increasingly part of history as we now all have an opinion based on so many more reference points than was previously possible in days gone by.

    Anyway, Boro are top of the league – hard to complain about that 🙂

  46. Well put Weder and kinda sums up how I feel about football. I saw some of the Chelsea game ( using up my Now Tv fee) and noted that their starting 11 did not include a single Uk player! I then looked at their squad and only 6 Uk players.

    Compare that to Boro who have 7 foreign players and that includes Britt who has been in the Uk since he has a baby, Ayala who has spent his entire adult life in the Uk and Randolph who is Irish.

    The point is that in my mind there is far too money in football and should SG decide to sell up and a foreign owner decides that a small town in a Yorkshire is a good investment, then I may give up completely. I would then probably then follow a local non league team!

    I do get a perverse pleasure in knowing that we have an local owner who does make some odd decisions and that we struggle on.

    After 1986 anything is a bonus and I would rather be a Boro fan than any other team that buys success at all costs.


    1. I know it’s too early to make judgments but after next week end we’ll be a third of the way through the season yet still only 5 points separate 18th placed Bolton from a playoff position yet they are also only 6 points from a relegation position. I don’t recall a season so compact at this stage. Only 3 teams (Boro, Norwich and Sheffield United) have so far won 4 successive matches, yet Boro won 5 in succession in the 2014/15 season and three times won 5 in succession in the following promotion season. Of course in the Jack Charlton promotion season Boro won 9 in succession, but that is fairly rare. My point is that building sequences of 4 or 5 successive wins is a sure way of gaining promotion and surely Boro are capable of doing that.

      1. Ken, now how many years have you been a Boro fan?!

        Surely by now you know that we never do it the easy way and Typical Boro will always let you down!!

        You know what will happen on Tuesday now don’t you……….

        Joking aside, I hadn’t picked up on the tightness of the league to that extent. Every game is important if we are to gain promotion to the so called promised land of untold riches, and dare I say it, a long hard slog of pragmatic football in a vain attempt to stay up.

        In these days, I almost feel that a promotion season, exciting as it is with victories, is a poisoned chalice for the supporters as what follows can be a real disappointment.

  47. I just want to give my opinion on the Wednesday game, from someone who was fortunate to be there. For 80 plus minutes, my brother and I thought Boro were excellent. Intensive pressure on the SW defenders and a very positive, attacking mindset were key features of our play. We thought the reversion to the wing back system and a back three worked a treat. It allowed Shottinho, in particular, to get forward very often, and he, Howson and Stewy played some delightful triangles down the right, resulting in a string of crosses in the first half. Unfortunately, there was never anybody on the end of them! But we were happy at half-time, 0-0, yes, but we were clearly the better side.

    Two great goals soon into the second half had the away end bouncing. It’s always great to do the EIOs!! For a fifteen minute spell, we tore SW apart and really should have scored two or three more. And despite more Wednesday pressing later on, we were really in no trouble until Reach’s brilliant effort. After that, panic mode set in, and defenders just started booting the ball aimlessly upfield, rather than passing it crisply and neatly as we had for most of the game. Shotton was both injured and knackered by this stage and TP took off the brilliant Besic and replaced him with Savile. Cue a late Wednesday onslaught. Cue finger nails bitten down to the quick!! And then came the amazing scrum. All we could see from our distant end was a heap of mangled, tangled bodies lying around the goal-line. What a relief when the ref gave us a free-kick!!

    Make no mistake, lads and lasses, this was a hard-fought and ultimately well-deserved victory. It was a hugely competitive match played at an incredible pace, so much so that my brother and I wondered how Boro could possibly keep up the intensity after the first half. They did do, thankfully, for 80+ minutes and still found the energy right at the death to pile bodies on the line! I wouldn’t be surprised to see some changes on Tuesday, as they must be knackered.

    Howson, Downing, Besic, Clayton, Shotton and Fry were all man of the match! Really enjoyed it! Top of the league, deservedly. And you know what? If we play with that level of spirit, mentality and intensity for most of our games, there are few sides in this league who can live with us.

    1. We were dominant. And as Clive said, spirit, mentality and intensity were back there.

      One of the best matches so far. Looking forward to the next match on Tuesday. Riverside live?

      Up te Boro!

  48. Werder
    I lost my “love” for the premier league around five years ago and hardly ever watch a game now. I did watch every Boro game in the embarrassing season when the Spanish experiment proved to be worse than the Scottish one. certain fixtures have absolutely no appeal.
    Watford v Cardiff
    Huddersfield v Bournemouth

    If I could wave a magic wand and replace
    Crystal Palace
    Sheff Wed
    Aston Villa

    I may then consider giving the premier league another chance as we would see bigger and fuller stadiums and maybe one or two teams with ambition above survival, prepared to invest and challenge the top six.
    Although money has created an unmovable top six, it has also allowed for teams like Bournemouth/Burnley to have a couple of good seasons and become established in the prem with their 100m per season and acquire a squad of internationals occasionally punching above their weight but ultimately hell bent on survival.
    I know some will scream “what about the underdog” but I would say “underdogs are for cup finals and the Winter Olympics”.
    Until then I prefer to watch the “bigger” clubs in the championship.

  49. Clive

    I had been reading comments of the game mainly in the press and most were reporting that Boro had a poor first half. I thought I was watching a different game. Like you I was impressed by the pressure high up the pitch, every time the owls played a pass there was a Boro player down their throat. They kept up that intensity all first half and even at 0-0 I could only see 1 winner. The foundations for the win were definitely laid in that first half.

  50. Ken – Statistics aren’t my strong point, but your Bolton stat is a fascinating one. It certainly is tight, although if Boro maintain the two point per game average until May we’ll all be happy.
    I expect the league to settle down into genuine promotion contenders and relegation suspects by January, some teams will fade at that point and some will put the foot on the accelerator , lets hope Boro do the latter.

  51. I too don’t watch Premier League matches live anymore, but just the highlights on Match of the Day. However I can’t agree with your sentiments about swapping some of the so called minnows with big city rivals. At the moment Bournemouth and Watford may be punching above their weight, but both play attractive football albeit with different styles. Are we saying that only big cities should be in the Premier League? If so surely Bristol and Bradford should be in there also? Or historically by performances Huddersfield (who once won the Old First Division 3 years in succession), Preston (who once won the league undefeated), and Blackburn (who have won the inaugural Premier League) would be in there? Maybe those with the largest stadia should make up the Premier League? I take your point that financial resources nowadays determine who are the top teams, but in my opinion Bournemouth and Watford are there on merit. Of course there are only half a dozen clubs who are ever likely to win the Premier League. Leicester were amazing, but that will never be repeated, nor have former postwar Champions like Wolves, Portsmouth or Ipswich any chance and that is a great pity. Boro had their chance in the seasons before both World Wars.

    On another tack I along with several other pundits, stated that any team that finished ahead of Stoke City would win the Championship this season. On reflection that was a foolish comment to make, for as things stand that gives any one of 16 clubs that opportunity. The Championship is so unpredictable, whereas the Premier League rarely throws up surprising results, and the emphasis there is either to qualify for the Champions League to gain more financial rewards, or to stay out of the bottom 3. So yes, I agree with you some matches in the Premier League aren’t worth watching, but I very much doubt that the 7 clubs you would prefer to install in that league would make the slightest bit of difference to the quality.

  52. Ken
    I agree with a lot of your points but personally I would prefer to watch teams who have the potential to fill their larger stadiums.
    Aside from the top six the atmosphere is missing in a lot of the premier games.

  53. Re the make up of the premiership, I’m happy to see Bournemouth et al doing their bit. It gives hope that we can be back there and stay there for a while at some point. Its got to be a healthy thing for football in England that there is a turn over of teams coming and going from the premiership, it makes the pyramid pointless otherwise doesn’t it?
    Also, having big teams such as Sheff Wed, Leeds, Boro etc in the Championship gives the Championship a bit more oomph.
    As for watching premiership football, I don’t, not even match of the day, never have really unless it was a Boro match. I’m more of a Boro fan than a footie fan, why would I want to watch Utd or Chelsea? I make an occasional exception for City & Liverpool who can both be breath taking to watch.
    Which takes me nicely back to Boro, I thought our first goal against Wed was sublime.

  54. With Rotherham visiting the Riverside tomorrow night, nothing can go wrong. Or typical….

    The Millers are without a single point on the road this season, having lost all six of their games. They’ve only scored two goals in the process.

    Anyway, if we play like on Friday, we will be fine. We must start with same intensity as vs the Owls. But the Millers will sit deep and won’t give us much space, though. Won’t be easy.

    2-0 to Boro. Ayala and Assombalonga. Up the Boro!

  55. Aside from Boro’s game this mid week two other fixtures caught my interest.

    Norwich host Villa tomorrow night at Carrow Road and then on Wednesday night WBA play Derby. I wonder if TP will be complaining to the authorities that Derby have 24 hours less preparation time than Boro in a fixture brought forward to mid day on Saturday having to face two of the top sides in the division consecutively and away from home?

    As for tomorrow Shotton seemed to have taken a knock on Friday night and Braithwaite was rested entirely. With Derby coming up fast on Saturday I suspect that there will be a few changes against the Millers to allow pains and sprains time to heal. Maybe Saville will be given a start with Besic on the bench and McNair brought in for Shotton? I’d imagine fully rested, Braithwaite will take someone else’s shirt with TP perhaps wanting to field the same Friday night side on Saturday.

    Interesting that TP referred to the Sheffield Wednesday side as the same as the Leeds game. Maybe he realised the errors after the last International break and went back to where we last played as a cohesive organised unit?

  56. I’m with Nigel when it comes to the Premiership or other leagues for that matter. If it’s not the Boro playing I’m not really bothered about watching. I take a bit of interest in some games but for the vast majority of them it’s a “meh” from me.

    A bit parochial maybe but I don’t see me changing in the future.

  57. Been having a chat with Gary HAMILTON who lives in USA now and he’s agreed to do an In2View for us

    If anyone has any questions about his career please let me know and I’ll add them to the Interview


  58. I expect that some players will be rested on Tuesday. So don’t be surprised to see Pulis switch back to flat back four versus Rotherham. Shottinho looked bruised and exhausted on Friday and he limped badly after the two worst tackles on him.

    And Braithwaite will come in. So we as well as the Rotherham manager will be guessing the formation for Tuesday.

    But it will be interesting. We need to keep the intensity and that might need some players to rest. Will Pulis rest Assombalonga, for example? I hope not as he shines usually against the lower teams.

    Up the Boro!

  59. Old Billy
    The First Division League table in 1946/47, the first season after World War Two which also was the season before my first match might interest you:-

    1 Liverpool 57 points
    2 Man Utd 56
    3 Wolves 56
    4 Stoke 55
    5 Blackpool 50
    6 Sheff Utd 49
    7 Preston 47
    8 Villa 45
    9 Sunderland 44
    10 Everton 43
    11 Boro 42
    12 Pompey 41
    13 Arsenal 41
    14 Derby 41
    15 Chelsea 39
    16 Grimsby 38
    17 Blackburn 36
    18 Bolton 34
    19 Charlton 34
    20 Huddersfield 33
    21 Brentford 22
    22 Leeds 18

    Only 6 of those clubs are now in the Premier League, and only Arsenal have not been relegated since. Brentford were relegated and Grimsby the following season never to be seen again. Man City and Burnley were promoted, Birmingham and Newcastle the following year, Fulham and West Brom in 1949 and Spurs and Sheff Wed the following year – quite a turnaround. Even in 1974/75 Boro’s first season after promotion under Jack Charlton only 10 of those clubs are now in the Premier League. What’s more since World War Two 59 of the present 92 clubs have spent at least one season in the top flight, that’s quite amazing in my opinion.

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