Pulis looks to keep promotion on the menu as stakes raised

Championship 2018-19: Week 15

Sat 10 Nov – 15:00: Boro v Wigan

Werdermouth looks ahead to the week before another international break…

Tony Pulis announced last week that he’s hoping to emulate his achievements at Stoke with Boro and wants to build something that will last on Teesside – other than a presumably a goal drought. The Boro manager believes he’s on track after sorting out the team defensively and now is looking to add goals (note the plural). Pulis cited his time at the Potteries as the model for how he plans to progress and claimed: “It took us a year to sort everything out and then the second year, we got a team together which we felt would score goals.” The good news for Boro followers is that Tony Pulis has nearly been on Teesside for a year now and we’ll soon be into that second year phase where those seldom seen things he mentioned should apparently begin to flow.

Nevertheless, the warning that the Boro manager made is that “Trying to maintain that togetherness and mentality where you need to be on it week in, week out, over a long period of time, can be difficult.” He added: “What happens is complacency, you get used to playing against the big sides, you get used to getting served steak and chips every night. And it becomes a bit bland and not as tasty as it was when you are only getting it once a week.” OK, getting spoilt with a rich diet may apply to the Premier League but when it comes to bland offerings, much may depend on the quality of the meat being sourced by those in charge of doing the shopping at the cash and carry. Boro appear to be making a meal of promotion lately and another unpalatable goalless affair at the Riverside dining club on Saturday will certainly feel like a kick in the tenderloins for many growing tired of the house speciality.

Goals from Boro players have perhaps become a bit like the steak the Boro manager got so used to eating every day – rare! Though despite having chances regularly served on a plate, it seems our strikers have strangely opted for the butter knife as they lack that cutting edge when it comes to tucking in. The beef of many supporters is that they’ve been forced into a less than satisfying vegan diet as Boro seemingly can’t score for Tofu. Indeed, some of the less than red-blooded observers at the Riverside may even be starting to fear for their safety after food critic William Sitwell was sacked as editor of Waitrose magazine for saying he’d like to print a feature on “killing vegans, one by one”– though those still with the strength will hope their carefully clutched Parmo can shield them from the the meat-eater massacre planned by the Eton hack.

Talking of a Boro striker who Tony Pulis feels is spending too much time on his rump, Jordan Hugill got mixed reviews from his manager after it didn’t sit well with him that he appeared to be spending too much time pursuing a career in amateur dramatics. Pulis complained that the West Ham loanee was prone to falling to the ground without good reason and declared rather ominously: “I’ve had a chat with Jordan” – I suspect it wasn’t of the small talk variety either as he explained: “I thought Jordan went down far, far too easily a couple of times today. I don’t want that as a manager. That’s not right. We’ve sorted that out after the game. I don’t like all that nonsense. That’s got to stop, and he’ll know that now.” Hugill should have realised that under Pulis that real men don’t behave like a vegan fainting in a breeze.

Although, Pulis did praise Hugill for his overall performance declaring: “I thought he worked really tirelessly up front. He gave us a great platform to play off.” In addition, the Boro manager believes he’s finally starting to return to match-fitness after his arrival in the summer and called for supporters to show some patience after explaining: “The big thing with Jordan that people have to recognise is he was signed by West Ham and never really played a game from that point onwards.” OK, not exactly the best supporting evidence to put forward his credentials – though Pulis also added: “The kid’s had half a season not playing because he wasn’t selected, and then missed the full pre-season because he’s injured so he’s never been as fit as he was at Preston when he was scoring goals.” However, Hugill was never that prolific at Deepdale and his best haul was just 12 goals in 44 appearances in 2016-17 – it’s possible the main reason West Ham paid £10m might have something to do with the fact the manager at the time, David Moyes, was also the former Preston boss.

Nevertheless, Hugill has gone in one week from being third choice to first after proving he is probably the best option for holding the ball and bringing others into play. After persevering with Britt Assombalonga, Pulis seems to have concluded it may not be possible to teach an old dog new tricks and has perhaps decided he can no longer wait to see if he can adapt to the kind of role that he demands from his front men – especially if his failure to convert chances has become a bone of contention to chew over.

It’s possible another contender for the striker role, Rudy Gestede, may have found himself in the doghouse after seemingly questioning what his manager was asking of him against Palace. Whether that was just frustration on the night or simply confusion is not clear – though Gestede no longer looks like the favourite to become top dog under Tony Pulis unless he can turn his physicality into something more potent. Perhaps we’ll see the contenders in and out until one of them starts to look the part or it may be that the plan is to unleash someone new in January. It’s often said every dog has his day but it seems the pedigree of our strikers has been brought into question as they continue to lack teeth.

While Boro’s forwards may be feeling somewhat hounded, they may have been interested to read the story this week of one dog of when it came to shooting certainly knows how to hit the target. When Sonny Gilligan of New Mexico was getting ready to go hunting he put his three dogs, Charlie, Scooter and Cowboy into the back of his pickup truck and then got into the driver’s seat. The next thing he remembered was getting shot in the chest and thought he was under attack from a sniper – despite bleeding heavily he managed to roll out of the truck and call 911. When police arrived they discovered that the shooter was actually his pet Rottweiler, Charlie, who had ‘accidentally’ pulled the trigger of a loaded hunting rifle in the back of the truck that was unfortunately positioned pointing at the driver’s seat.

Thankfully, Mr Gilligan survived but it was a close call as he needed CPR to keep him alive when arriving at the hospital. He said Charlie was a loving dog and didn’t mean to pull the trigger – though Charlie has yet to give his side of the story and some suggestions that he’s been planning revenge after a disagreement over his favourite ball appear unfounded. However, it does raise the question of what should be now classed as a dangerous breed if dogs start arming themselves – just how safe is poodle with pistol or a cocky spaniel with a shotgun? Indeed, should the Second Amendment apply to man’s best friend and should good dogs be armed to keep us safe from bad dogs? The debate has started in America but I suspect anyone who has the good sense to place a loaded gun next to three lively dogs may be testing Darwin’s patience to the limit.

As to whether the patience of the Riverside faithful will be further tested on Saturday before the latest international break once more occupies our untwiddled thumbs, will surely depend on Boro getting back to winning ways against Wigan. The Lactics have become something of a yo-yo club after being relegated, promoted, relegated and once again promoted from League One last season. Wigan ended an eight-year spell in the Premier League when they made the drop in 2012-13 under Roberto Martinez. It was a bitter sweet season as they also became the first club to lift the FA Cup and be relegated after a shock win over Manchester City – something Boro had attempted and failed back in 1997 after that three-point deduction.

Following the loss of their top-flight status, Wigan entered a period of instability with their rapid turnover of managers starting when Martinez’s successor, Owen Coyle, was dismissed after less then six months and replaced by Uwe Rösler. The German took the club to the Play-offs and nearly made the FA Cup final again but lost in the semi’s on penalties against Arsenal. However, Rösler’s rise was short-lived, he got the hook the following November after the club dropped into the relegation zone and was replaced by Malky Mackay. With relegation still looming, Mackay was also sacked after just five months and former captain Gary Caldwell was installed, but to no avail. Caldwell brought them straight back up but a poor start to the following Championship season saw him ejected in October and replaced by Manchester United reserve coach, Warren Joyce, who couldn’t improve matters and subsequently left in March with Wigan once more heading back to League One. After winning League Two with Portsmouth, Paul Cook became the latest man charged with reviving the club’s fortunes and he brought them straight back up to the Championship last season and is currently still in charge.

However, it was announced this week that after 23 years as owner, Dave Whelan is poised to sell the club this week to a Hong Kong based consortium that is in the casino business – the Whelan family’s contribution to the club was marked at the weekend by a round of applause in the 23rd minute at the DW Stadium in the match against Leeds. No doubt the new owners will soon gamble on getting back into the Premier League and are probably already contemplating another new manager. It’s the end of an era as another locally-owned club becomes the latest plaything for a wealthy foreign owner to raise their profile. Of course, there’s always a chance that they’ve got themselves another Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha – though the much-missed Leicester owner was surely the exception rather than the rule.

Paul Cook’s side currently sit five points above the relegation zone but have struggled away from home – losing 7 of their 8 games on the road and have conceded ten in their last three trips. In fact they sound like ideal opponents for a Boro side struggling to score at the Riverside – just like Rotherham were a few weeks earlier. OK, you may recall that the Millers managed to grind out a nil-nil as Tony Pulis’s team put in a less than fine performance. The Boro manager will surely see this as an opportunity to get three points and may be a little more adventurous with his starting XI – well at least with his bench anyway.

Critics of Tony Pulis see the recent run of Riverside results as an indication that he is too cautious to win automatic promotion. They claim his methodology of making his teams first and foremost hard to beat is fine if you’re in the business of avoiding relegation, where every point achieved counts for much more if those around you predominantly lose. It makes sense in those circumstance and if you look at the current bottom seven clubs in the Premier League, they have only managed a combined 18 points from a possible 105. However, a point at home when going for promotion is normally regarded as two points dropped – though it’s still a surprise that Boro are only two points from the top after drawing five, losing one and winning just two of their last eight games. It perhaps says more about the lack of quality in the Championship this season, with the worry that those wins were against bottom club Ipswich and a Sheffield Wednesday side in free-fall after losing their last four games while conceding 12.

We all know that Tony Pulis has a penchant for big players and the summer saw him adding height to his Boro side. However, Ruud Gullit claimed this week it’s never been a better time to be a small player and clubs like Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea have actively sought them out. He argues the instruction to referees to penalise overly-physical challenges has meant smaller, more technical players now prove to be more effective in the opponents box against slower bigger defenders who can’t risk challenges. The trend for many clubs towards smaller more agile midfielders and forwards is changing the game and making it harder for teams who mainly rely on big physical players.

Does the blueprint of what a pure Pulis team should be need to change if Boro do indeed gain promotion or even hope to be a top Championship side. Whilst having some big players is useful in defending crosses or getting on the end them in the opposition box, the argument is that a successful team needs to have a balance between physicality, agility and speed. Solid and dependable experienced players may provide the base but the enthusiasm of youth may be what is needed to surprise the opposition. Many observers believe that Boro’s somewhat one-dimensional play-book has already proven to be lacking guile but looking to find the perfect big centre-forward won’t necessarily be the answer to that problem. Tony Pulis thinks at the moment “finishing has been our Achilles heel” – but he is wily enough to understand that his long-term future and a chance to build something on Teesside will ultimately be determined by results and keeping his chairman happy. He said recently: “I think I’ve got a really good chairman here – I just need the results now.” Let’s hope it starts this week against Wigan.

434 thoughts on “Pulis looks to keep promotion on the menu as stakes raised

  1. Thanks for a great post Werder I see you are still raising the stakes! It’s meat and drink to all the bloggers and we certainly enjoy chewing the bones of not the fat!

    Our strikers need to be fed rare meat 🥩 or have a roasting from Pulis and a few barb cues from the fans.

    We don’t have a chicken Wing but we can have a drink down the tavern ier whilst we see what manner of fayre is served up by Boro.

    Will the plate be empty on Saturday? Will we have our fill of goals? It’s either feast or famine with our Boro isn’t it?


    By the way I’m not going to change my winning forecasting it’s ….


  2. Brilliant Werder. Top class meat puns!

    I think after a decent performance and point at Stoke, coupled with clear sightings of the lesser-spotted Wing and Tavernier, there’s an unusual air of quiet satisfaction that’s come over the Diasboro. Will it last beyond Saturday or will it be back to the unsheathing of the (steak) knives as we chew the fat?

    I hope for and expect a win. There were good signs against Palace and again against Stoke, with Hugill starting to look the part for the first time. However, I’m sure it helped that neither game featured a parked bus from the opposition. It may be tougher to break down Wigan.

    Here’s hoping we cut the mustard with a searing performance and three points at the final gristle.

  3. Thanks again Werder for another great article.
    Just a little point. TP said ” I think I’ve got a really good chairman here ” He only thinks !! Thought he would have been a bit more positive about SG. Or am I reading too much into his comment.

  4. A satisfying feast of mouth watering pun-ditry leaving us in no misteak that the chips are down for our strike force and eye watering at the prospect of that kick in the tenderloins (that made me smile Werder).

    Love the shaggy dog story about the wondermut that became a wondershot. Clearly allegorical for old dogs learning new tricks. There’s hope for the Boro strike force yet!

    Just to fair to Wigan who “… currently sit five points above the relegation zone…”, they are also only 6 points off the playoffs so could actually be considered as a rival for promotion.

    1. Thanks Powmill, yes you could look at Wigan being just six points off the play-offs – I suspect any team that does a late charge like Millwall did last season could win the league given the lack of an outstanding consistent team.

  5. Werder you have served up a smorgasbord article full of culinary and football delights!

    Let’s hope that TP and the boys can match your consummate skills.

    Hoping for a win, ideally a convincing and free flowing game but a win any which way!

    Boro 1-0 Wigan (Hugill via his backside)

    Crowd 22,022

    Soup of the day: Broccoli & Stilton

    CoB 😎

    1. Thanks KP, it wasn’t easy to write such a culinary article as I was feeling a bit queasy yesterday and had to make do with chicken soup – though gruel might have been more appropriate given the circumstances.

      1. Well I’m going to
        Be busy on Friday at the ex Mbro players dinner when I’m going to try and have a chat with some of the guests who will hopefully speak to Diasboro and they include :
        Bryan Robson and his coaching team of Viv Anderson and Gordon McQueen, and players Craig Hignett, Steve Vickers, Neil Maddison, Craig Harrison, Andy Campbell, Robbie Stockdale, Steve Baker and hopefully both Curtis Fleming and Mikkel Beck. Others attending include former Academy Head Dave Parnaby and former Head of Academy Recruitment Ron Bone.

        If I can get at least two In2Views out of that lot I’ll be happy !

        And no I’m not drinking either !


  6. Nice one again Werder
    It tickled my ribs the tenderloins reference but I would not steak my life on a good result if a bit of fry-ied chicken-wing is not on the menu. Any way a drink in the tavern-ier with chopman will do nicely. UTB
    “Apologies for the plagiarism”

  7. Nice, Werder. How boring it is that there is no mid-week match this week. We are too used to having two matches in a week.

    Cannot see the logic when Pulis says three matches a week. Do we have 12 matches a month, then? As a bit of mathematician, I don’t understand.

    Long wait for Saturday. Up the Boro!

  8. love the post Werder
    Pulis likes to waffle on about food, one week spuds and the next steak and chips.
    In reality his team has served up a dogs breakfast in recent league games.
    If Hugill continues making a meal of things at the slightest nibble then it could be the last supper for him.
    non of our strikers seem to have an appetite for scoring goals, although chances are rationed, the ones created are laid on a platter.
    We need to throw the kitchen sink at Wigan on Saturday, a goal feast would be icing on the cake, a draw would be hard to digest, defeat and TP could be in a pickle.

  9. Werder,

    Great post, five star in fact. At least the manager has identified lack of goals as the problem Boro have. It’s also the scrap end we seem to have posing as strikers. It’s a bit of a burger that.

    Anyway he’s getting the team where he wants it to be, apparently, a here’s my quick rundown and own-goals do not count:

    Goalkeeper – no goals

    Defence – no goals

    Midfield – no goals

    Strikers – no goals

    My selection for Saturday just one change. Drop the lone striker and play Randolph there with Dimi in goal. He could be the new John Hickton. No team disturbance. Perfect.

    If he plays my radical formation Boro win 1 – 0.

    If he doesn’t I’m with OFB, 0 – 0.

    Now going for another coffee and a read of an old Roy of the Rovers Annual.



    1. Another masterpiece! How on Earth you manage to bring up a story of Sonny Gilligan and his dogs to fit into your revue of Boro’s lacklustre scoring forwards I can’t imagine. Perhaps your real name is Kevin Ashman of Eggheads fame, or is he a relative of yours? If not perhaps you should audition for the next edition of ‘Make me an Egghead’.

      Looking at Wigan’s rapid change of managers, maybe they should have appointed the town’s Super League head coach Shaun Wane (not to confused with Shane Warne) once they sacked Roberto Martinez. He seemed to have that winning steak (I mean streak) mentality.

      1. Many thanks Ken, I sometimes like to include a story that catches my interest and then work backwards to try and fit it into the narrative – which is sometimes where most of the work goes as I play with the words to get the flow between an eclectic range of subjects that somehow relate to Boro.

  10. A bit late to the party this week but that was a good read Weder and puntastic!

    Surprised that you didn’t make reference to Wigan pie capital of the UK!

    I think everybody else has used up the meat puns but l will liver with that!

    I am hoping to make the trip up on Saturday, glutton for punishment I know but after Palace and Stoke I am hoping that TP can pick a team that can not stand off Wigan and providing Ayala ( if he Plays) doesn’t have a moment of madness and chop off a Wigan player at the shins, Boro won’t make a hash of the game and manage to carve out a victory with a serving of humble pie!

    So no more mincing about, Parma eaters 3 Pie eaters 0.


    1. A rib tickling post !

      Sorry that was offal of me !

      Or as the little bloke said to the python 🐍 in the Jungle
      We should go together and make



      1. Happy to explain why Wiganers as known as Pie Eaters (apart from they’re liking for the savoury devils).
        The pit on Wigan was the first to go back to work during a National strike and other miners said they’d have to eat (h)umble pie.
        They are also particularly keen on a pie barm; a meat pie eaten inside a bread bun. Me? I like a Hampson’s Chunky Steak, like.

    1. I think at the time Bryan Robson proved to be just what the club needed to raise their profile and attract players who might have otherwise not considered heading to Teesside. Back in those days Steve Gibson’s wallet also counted for a lot more than it does today in the age of billionaire owners – paying £7m for Ravenelli and the £50 grand a week was more than most top clubs could afford.

      Football in those days was about accumulating good players more than playing to methodologies or having coaches orchestrate their players from the touchline. The likes of Kevin Keegan were almost winning the league by just having a go and that was probably what Robson tried to do at Boro too. By the time he left the game had moved on and perhaps he was a man of his era, who used his charisma and lead by example rather than being a tactical genius.

  11. Mmm, that’s an interesting question, OFB………… at the time a great appointment and brought us the Riverside Revolution although my view is that he stayed too long and the fact that Terry Venables came in says a lot.

    He didn’t have great success after Boro but for entertainment value, I would say yes right now!

  12. I’m not sure Bryan Robson would be a success now that Gibson millions are competing against Sheik/Oligarch billions, or that his name in the game carries the same weight as it did in the 1990s.

    Loved his time but wouldn’t work again.

  13. There is a reason we do not score many goals( if any) and that is because we are completely in coached in the forward skills which are required in and around the six yard box.
    It is only fair to at least try to point out the more obvious after raising the subject.
    One for George Friend, every season he manages to carry the ball in a very good and entertaining dribble, up to and into the six yard box( full of players) maybe a dozen times.
    The outcome is always the same, the ball gets smothered by bodies.
    Now I would think that a well run club would have sorted out this situation by now. The view from the stands is that, having done the run, and about to run into the traffic, it would be more difficult for the defenders if he unleashed a low rocket shot on target amongst the bodies, perhaps 50 per cent success?
    One for our strikers, when getting lots of corners, first, split up, one near and one far post, second, someone get in front of the keeper at the near post so that he cannot collect the ball, do not stand in front of him, time your run to arrive there as the ball comes over. Secondly when getting your header in, head it back the way it has come, down into the corner, far more effective.
    One for all players, never go for the near post, the stats are appalling, and please watch the premier league on the box, the curler inside the far post is the shot of choice for the stars, the stats are off the scale.
    The breakaway, ah, the pain, when put through into the box, front and centre, keeper on his line, and coming out, you must change your angle of run at once, then change it to the other side , you may well have an angle for a simple goal, if not you will at least have stopped him blocking you.
    All these faults are on display weekly at the riverside, without any noticeable change over a long period of time.

  14. When the job becomes vacant?

    I was reading an article about Citeh pre the Sheik’s money. Frank Clark was appointed manager and he was taken to the training ground by the chairman. They got in to the car park and the chairman said duck down. Frank Clark spent the day hiding and keeping out of sight.

    The incumbent manager was still in position and taking training, the club hadn’t quite got round to telling him he was sacked.

  15. Another belter Werder but I must admit I’ve no idea what Tofu is😳!

    Just been listening to BBC Tees and their promo for the Wigan game ran something like:

    “Boro drew with Stoke despite the best efforts of Jordan Hugill”.

    I nearly sprayed my Stilton and Broccoli soup over my iPad!

    They then played the commentary with Maddo clearly groaning in the background as the best chance of the game by far went begging.

    Now I thought his hold up play was very good when he wasn’t flouncing about, but if that was his best effort we’re definitely in trouble on the goal scoring front.

    1. Given the culinary nature of this blog just now I actually read “Just been listening to BBC Tees and their Parmo for the Wigan game ran something like…”

    2. Thanks FAA, as I mentioned in the article, I think Hugill is getting the gig not because of his scoring potential but because he’s proved to be the only centre-forward who can actually hold the ball up until other arrive on the scene.

      btw Tofu is deliciously described as being coagulated soya milk or bean curd if that makes it sound better.

      1. I have practically given up eating red meat for environment reason now. So I eat tofu every week nowadays. I does not make sence to feed animals, then kill them and eat meat. We save a lot eating the food for animals in the first place.

        About 1/3 of polutions comes from farming. So we need to change. In Finland, we now have the weather they used to have in Norther Germany (Werder) when I was younger. The global warming has already affecting us. So we need to react as soon as possible.

        Just saying, like. Up the Boro!

  16. Just seen a terrible decision to give Man City a penalty. In open space, Sterling tripped over his own feet and the ref gave a penalty.

    The defender was a couple of yards away as was the keeper.

    Last time I saw as bad a decision was a Saturday match at Uni. The ref gave a penalty against our keeper. The keeper was at his near post and the attacker went down 6 yards away as the ball went behind for the goal kick. The refs reasoning was that he looked like he was going to foul him.

    Clearly Kryptonite at fault again.

    1. Ian
      I think that the reffing in the championship is as bad as it can be.
      Do we get the trainees, or the worthless?
      I do not notice that they are young, quite the reverse, overweight, cannot keep up with play, obviously think that their job is secure because nothing changes their attitude, no abuse from the fans, or laughter for that matter. And it is every match the same.

  17. Saw a cooking programme using flat shin of beef, the recipe sounded great but as we cant hit a cows bum with a banjo maybe we need strikers with a flat shin to knock the ball in when their feet cant contact it.

    How about nailing one to Gestede’s forehead?

    1. Ian just reading your blog, re. Our shooting.
      Then you spoilt it by fixing Gestede up with a surplus bone nailed to his forehead. Things got a bit difficult at that point as I have my doubts as to any improvement it may make, plus the effect it may have on his jumping ability ( that would be the extra weight).
      We would then have to consider the effect this bone would have on a head which is already hexagonal shaped ( plus pointy top). Sorry, it just will not work, but an interesting project ( probably needs more work in the lab)

  18. I think we’ve all read Asterix.

    “You don’t impress me with your cow’s hoof mould. You’re just making pigs of yourselves!”
    “Well, at least I can bring home the bacon.”

  19. There are some very sick and twisted people in this World. In the past we’ve had so called Leeds United fans taunting Man Utd fans over the Munich air disaster. The latest are a so called Derby fan making vile comments on social media regarding the recent Leicester helicopter tragedy, and a so called Sheffield Wednesday fan using social media to make scurrilous comments about the death of Billy Sharp’s son on the anniversary of his death. Thankfully Derby, Wednesday and United fans are outraged at these comments and the respective clubs have banned the miscreants from attending matches, but what possesses anyone to use social media to make such comments in the first place escapes me. Surely such comments should bring the full force of the law against the perpetrators as it is as bad as racial abuse or any other form of abuse I can think of.

    1. Ken, there are lots of injustices in the World and in the UK. Also lots of disrespect, standards lower than a snakes belly and the powers that be do nothing. That applies to Government and your Local Council.

      There is always somebody willing to defend these miscreants and the lobbyists hold far too much sway for those in the minority.

  20. I stumbled on this Great Boro Bake Off site whilst looking for Diasboro. I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned our Strikers failing to rise and soggy bottoms.

    1. I hope that is the Finnish to the food puns.

      People are picking on the strikers but I suppose you have to be gruel to be kind, you cant make an omelette without breaking eggs, we are going to batter some one soon..

  21. I felt my comments on red meat would be sensitive, so I go back to football now as the season is still panning out nicely for Boro.

    As we know, Boro’s defensive record is the best in the Football League. They’re the only side whose goals against column hasn’t hit double figures yet. Boro notched their 10th clean sheet of the season on Saturday in just their 16th game – Mr Karanka must be jealous! Read more about our defense in the Gazette.

    So more often than not, sides so hard to break down end up winning promotion. The minority that don’t go up are left to regret coming up short at the front end.

    Let’s hope TP can steer Boro to the former. Up the Boro!

    1. The clubs that went up also had to score some goals.

      So far TP has excelled at 50% of the Job Description. Fix the lack of goals (endless, fruitless, pointless, multiple crosses don’t count) and we will be absolute certainties for promotion. At the minute what he has tried has failed and failed repeatedly and predictably so.

      The only other options he has at his disposal are Wing, Tavernier and Fletcher who still may not be the answer but certainly can’t do any worse and deserve the same opportunity as others have had in proving how useless and ineffective they are.

    2. Jarkko

      Re your comments about us not having conceded double figures, please don’t tempt fate as typical Boro is always just around the corner! 😉😎

  22. A bit of a gentle irony.

    I was following a car and it was a hybrid, very good, trying to save the planet. they had both windows open reducing the aerodynamic efficiency. What is more, they were both smoking.

  23. There is a chance that our Curacao/Caribou/ Curable or whatever it is fizzy drink League Cup game against Burton may be televised which will be good news for those fans who can’t make the Riverside for a night at the Riverside with guaranteed goals.

    As I understand it the tie between Arsenal and Spurs will be screened on Sky Sports on the Wednesday 19 December. There will also be a game screened on Tuesday 18 December, although that tie can only be confirmed after Leicester’s rearranged fourth round game with Southampton on Tuesday 27 November.

    If the Foxes beat the Saints then their fizzy drink Quarter-Final match with Manchester City will be shown on Sky as the Tuesday game on the 18 December. Now this is where it gets complicated however. Should Southampton progress, the Boro v Burton game will be the selected TV tie as the Saints can’t play on the Tuesday due to their already planned Premier League game with Arsenal on the previous Sunday 16 December.

    Can’t get my head around why Sky would only select Boro out of desperation?

  24. I see (or at least read!) that Boro have Bohemians wonder kid Ali Reghba on trial for a couple of weeks at Rockliffe. Should he sign for us or indeed any other mainland club no doubt the TPP (Tabloid Poppy Politburo) will already have their calendars marked for an Irish Republican Moslem possibly playing this time next year getting their sensationalist stories typed up weeks in advance. Just imagine their crestfallen disappointment should he wear a shirt with a poppy.

  25. Well done to the Boro U21’s who won away at Burton last night in the check a trade trophy, a goal by Hayden Hackney ( a 84th min sub) in the 86th min, Hayden is 16 yr old. That was Boro’s first win in the competition since it started.

    Also congratulations to Lewis Wing for being selected for “ goal of the round” in the Caraboa cup.

    Come on BORO.

  26. Tickets for Boro’s Carabao Cup quarter-final tie at home to Burton Albion will go on sale to Season Card holders on Friday November 9 at 9.30am.

    Nigel Clough’s side visit the Riverside on Tuesday December 18 (kick-off 7.45pm), with a place in the semi-finals of the competition up for grabs.

    Tickets will go on sale to Season Card holders this Friday (November 9) at 9.30am, and Season Card holders have until 5pm on Friday November 30 to guarantee their usual seat and buy at discounted prices. Any unsold seats will be released for general sale after this time.

    Supporters with half Season Cards will not be eligible for Season Card prices or seats to be reserved.

    Tickets will go on general sale from Monday November 26 at 9.30am.

    Season Card holder prices (Available until Friday November 30, 5pm):

    Adult: £10
    Over-65: £5
    Under-18: £2
    General Sale prices:

    Adult: £15
    Over-65: £10
    Under-18: £5

    Hopefully there will be more than 12,000 with a place in the semi final at stake.

    Come on BORO.

  27. Werder whilst appreciate that I am repeating myself somewhat, thanks for another “laugh out loud” headliner. Really funny and continued by the posters on here.
    Just bought my subscription for the Wigan match and have no idea what will happen, although I expect I will be watching via my iPad. Although I have just purchased at great expense an adaptor that when I try it, will hopefully connect to the TV. This following “the Boro” is getting rather expensive for a Pensioner.

    Also just read RR´s post and the possibility of the Burton match being on SKY. I will be back in the UK for that game, so more expense as I have just ordered my ticket. Just my luck, but maybe not?

  28. Pedro

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but your adapter will not work with a live stream.

    I know because I bought one for the self same reason but have since had it confirmed by MFC that they have to restrict the apps ability under the broadcasting conditions they operate.

    It works for video content such as the highlights or full match videos released after the game but not whilst it is live. You will only be able to watch on the iPad itself whilst live.

    If you can get your lap top to work with the MFC website then you can link that to your tv and watch the match live on the large screen.

    Worth contacting MFC to see if they can help with you lap top issues. Sorry 😢😎

    1. Hi All

      I have a spare seat Froday tomorrow night at the Riverside for the Bryan Robson dinner £50


      er, those attending along with Robbo himself include his coaching team of Viv Anderson and Gordon McQueen, and players Craig Hignett, Steve Vickers, Neil Maddison, Craig Harrison, Andy Campbell, Robbie Stockdale, Steve Baker and hopefully both Curtis Fleming and Mikkel Beck. Others attending include former Academy Head Dave Parnaby and former Head of Academy Recruitment Ron Bone.

      The event takes place in the Legends Lounge, so please arrive at the entrance close to the Ticket Office at the Riverside Stadium. Doors open at 6.45pm, with players being introduced to the room at 7.30pm. There will be an auction from 9.30pm with prizes including two unique pieces of framed artwork by artist Richard Piers Rayner of the stars of 1998 and replica 1997-98 Boro shirts signed by Bryan Robson and the players that have been specially produced by Errea for this special occasion. There’ll also be an opportunity to bid to sit alongside Neil Maddison as part of the BBC Tees commentary team v Aston Villa and bid for corporate hospitality for 4 at a forthcoming Boro match.

      There will also be an envelope draw giving those donating £10 to the Former Players Association to enter a draw for a prize of an overnight stay at Rockliffe Hall Hotel and another of the unique 1997-98 replica shirts. After this, there’ll be a Q&A with Bryan Robson and the players that is sure to be entertaining and enlightening. There will naturally be a pay bar throughout the night.

      Please note that dress code is smart casual – no jeans or replica shirts to be worn please.

      Let me know ASAP if anyone can make it andwould like to come before I send it back to club


  29. See Les Reed as been let go by Soton ,if I was Steve Gibson I would seriously look at giving him some kind of roll within the club,
    Maybe running the recruitment department.

  30. After the home game versus Aston Villa on 1 Dec 18, there are no more Boro league fixtures home or away selected by Sky TV, up to and including 12 Jan 19.

    Come on BORO.

  31. TP has made a decision about central defensive partnership but is being tight lipped.

    I wonder what odds you would get on a 3511
    Bahtth, Ayala, Flint
    Fry, Howson, Clayton, Downing, Friend

    Maybe McNair instead of Fry

    Just a thought, hope TP doesn’t read the blog.

    1. I would put a daft quid on that Ian although i would prefer Fry in the centre rather than as a wing back. Trouble is McNair is not as competent defensively. There is an argument for playing Downing there and putting Wing in.

  32. A wing back is really a de facto full back, and their number one job is to stop the ball being crossed from wide positions. Something we are very poor at, particularly George Friend.

    Considering our injury problems, Fry is probably our best bet. Based on his two previous outings, it would be a difficult choice to leave Batth out.

    1. I think there is actually supposed to be a significant difference of having wing-backs rather than full-backs. Wing-back are meant to be positioned a bit further up the pitch at the same line as a defensive midfielder and should offer the team an attacking outlet. Full-backs are first and foremost a defender and although they can also provide attacking width, it’s not their primary role.

      I also think if you play with three centre-backs, then those on the outside should also engage with attackers to stop crosses – the job of the wing-back is to support the defence and add defensive stability. Whether Boro actually play to that model is a different story – we’ve essentially made our existing full-backs into wing-backs and it’s not clear if their skill-set has offered much more than as if they played as full-backs.

      Perhaps that’s one of the problems of why Boro are struggling to score – perhaps we play 5-3-2 rather than 3-5-2 most of the time as not conceding is the main focus. It’s possibly why we’ve seen more of a 4-3-3 of late as our wing-backs are essentially full-backs in whatever system is chosen.

      1. This is the point Werder, we don’t have any wing backs we just utilise our full backs in that role.

        If you look back at the Stoke game we spent a lot of time with a narrow three at the back and Stoke were able to cross the ball into the box with ease.

        Hugill holds the ball up quite well, but is in an isolated position therefore we are unable to take advantage of it.

        Perhaps time to give 4-4-2 a try.

        1. I guess if you’re playing with a striker to hold the ball with his back to goal then he is by definition a lone striker – the job is for those forwards behind him is then to actively support. Maybe we should go back to the 4-2-3-1 or possibly 4-1-4-1 so the likes of Wing and Tavernier use their attacking potential to better effect. We really only have midfielders of various descriptions and Braithwaite as a possible number ten, who’s not scored since mid-August.

  33. That was the problem I was debating with myself. Batth deserves a place and on the presumption that Fry is better central, then I would be inclined to leave Ayala out as he can, at times, be a liability.

    That then leaves us vulnerable down the flanks and I agree George has not been at his best. Dare I say it that we are missing Shotton?!

    What will TP do I wonder?


  34. I do find it tiresome when statistics are bandied about record goal scorers in the Premier League as if top division football didn’t exist before then. I accept that Alan Shearer in scoring 260 league goals is quite an achievement being 52 more than second placed Wayne Rooney, but it pales into insignificance when compared to Jimmy Greaves’s total of 357 all in the top tier for Chelsea, Spurs and West Ham. If I were Jimmy I think I’d be rather peeved at the lack of that recognition that seems to have been forgotten today.

    1. And how many of those goals did Shearer score from the penalty spot. His record does not look so good if you are really counting goals from play.

      1. Jimmy Greaves: 357 1st Division goals, 29 were penalties (8%)

        Alan Shearer: 260 Premiership goals, 58 were penalties (22%)

        No comparison really.

      2. Just realised I’ve been a bit disingenuous. 55 of those JG goals were in the cups, Europe or Charity Shield. Not sure how many of the penalties are so attributed. Still, however the numbers are stacked, JG was at least a class above AS as a goal scorer in the top flight 🙂

    2. The media and Sky in particular rarely acknowledge football before 1992 as it doesn’t fit in with their “corporate branding”. What an awful phrase that is.

    1. But if he plays a back 3 , that means not playing either Flint or Fry. Fry appears to offer more in going forward but Flint is supposed to be good from set pieces. Not that we have seen much evidence of that like!

      1. I think he could go with a back three of Batth, Ayala and Flint with Fry and George as “Wing Backs”.

        TP’s main problem is at the other end of the pitch so I think it will be a back four and that Fry will be RB and Friend LB leaving two from three at CB and I suspect that Ayala may be left on the bench rewarding Batth for his MOM display plus a gentle reminder that nobody in the squad is undroppable.

  35. And as we all tend to think, neither of those two are true wing backs which gives us issues at both ends of the pitch to some extent!

    Let’s hope they have been working hard on the training park this week to have a cunning plan to overcome the mighty Wigan who will no doubt park( or pork) the bus

  36. Did anyone see the Sheffield Derby tonight ?

    I really enjoyed it not just cos it was a good result for Boro.

    How United didn’t win is amazing with the amount of possession they had.

    I like the way United played with speed of play and passing – with midfielders looking to get forward and having quite a number of shots themselves.

    Let’s hope another team in red play in a similar way tomorrow and go one better by scoring. – against Wigan.

  37. I posed the formation with my tongue so firmly in my cheek I had to go to casualty to have it removed.

    Wing backs and full backs are different beasts. I will repeat my conversation with a Scouse fan about traitor wing back who shall remain nameless apart from the fact Christian was a poor choice for him.

    Pool were desperate for a full back and I commented that he wasn’t even allowed to mark his own bingo card on the team bus.

    The problem is the whole team have to be happy with the system so that defenders pull out wide and midfielders fill in. That is a lot of work on the training ground, weeks and weeks of it.

    That is why Derby cause all sorts of problems against West Brom, SheffU and oud ourselves. County stuck to their game plan against teams that jiggled a bit.

  38. KP, I would of prefered to see Fry in the line up. Also as GHW said about George and we all know about Paddy, they do not offer sufficient protection to the back three, limiting the midfield.
    However not much n the way of other options. In theory if you are playing with a five, there should be a place for Wing or Tav, somebody more creative in midfield.

  39. I would be surprised if Pulis plays three centre-backs against Wigan at the Riverside – especially given his most effective wing-back in Shotton is out with knee-ligament injury. Fry has looked better than McNair at RB, so will probably get the nod and Friend at LB. I’m not sure Batth will get selected over Ayala and Flint as I think Pulis values them in the opponents box for set pieces – it’s not as if Boro will struggle defensively whoever of the three is chosen, so it may come down to deciding Ayala and Flint are a bigger goal threat.

    It’s likely Clayton will remain as defensive midfielder and Hugill seems to be first choice striker now, which means will the Boro manager shake things up in midfield and supporting forwards or will it be the usual suspects.

    However, as mentioned in the article, Wigan have conceded 10 in their last three away trips and it would possibly be a mistake to be too conservative. Boro need to win this one and I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of Tavernier or Wing start – with my money on Tavernier as it sounds like Pulis is more comfortable with his overall understanding of how he wants to play. Braithwaite has looked below his best for quite some time so will probably be on the bench.

    So my punt on today’s team

    Fry – Ayala – Flint – Friend
    Howson – Clayton – Besic
    Downing – Hugill – Tavernier

    As for the score, well who is going to step up to the plate and actually score? Perhaps it’s time Flint got on the end of something and maybe Howson needs to score to keep his place.

    2-0 to Boro and at least something to take us happy into the international break.

  40. I’m probably the World’s worst at predictions as far as the Boro are concerned, think I was near the bottom of the final ExMil challenge last season and my forecasting that Boro would/should accumulate about 100 points this season seems like being well wide of the mark, so no more forecasting from me.

    However reasons why the League table has become so congested vary from this season’s teams being of a higher standard, to some like mine suggesting the opposite with no outstanding candidates. I stick by that when noting how such teams as West Brom and Sheffield Wednesday can suddenly hit losing streaks, yet Norwich, QPR and Birmingham who in my opinion were so poor a few months ago suddenly have hit winning streaks. It all appears to boil down to confidence and that old word ‘consistency’.

    We’re now a third of the way through the season and I’m no wiser which teams will finish in the top six never mind the automatic promotion places. To my mind at the moment I can’t envisage one team going on a 10 or 12 match unbeaten run, but if a team does that, then confidence will be enhanced by that team. Therefore if any team can manage that, there is no reason why that team can’t be the Boro, but I’m falling short of giving that as my opinion as I seem to put a jinx on the team.

    Should I become more circumspect and follow OFB’s goalless predictions, or has he unwittingly too put a jinx on the team? I do note though that after some of his goalless draws have recently come to fruition, that he seems to have abandoned that forecast for today, so perhaps Boro will now start on that long unbeaten run. His forecasts were possibly not his true feelings anyway, so come clean Bob and tell us what you really think.

    1. Yes, inconsistency seems to be key word in the Championship this season – it’s remarkable that if Leeds lose at West Brom and Norwich fail to win this afternoon, then Boro could go top if they beat Wigan. All the more remarkable if you consider Boro have only won two of their last eight games against bottom-club Ipswich and an out of form Wednesday. Plus on current point-per-game, Boro are only on target to finish on 80 points – which perhaps indicates just how low the standard is this season in the Championship.

  41. It has to happen sometime, so why not today. Everything will click for Boro, Highill will find his scoring boots, ably supported by Tavernier and Downing and Flint, all on the scoresheet as Boro run out 5-0 winners today.

      1. Sounds like one of those hypnosis techniques where you count backwards from five to zero – perhaps Boro could use the large screen to put the Riverside into trance so they believe the team has won and go home happy.

  42. While all’s quiet on the footballing front, there’s an interesting programme on Sunday on BBC 2 at 9.30pm to mark the centenary of the end of WW1 called ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’. You may have heard that Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has used all his high-tech tools to restore old jerky 100-year old back-and-white archive film into remarkable modern standard realistic-looking colour footage. Here’s some examples in an interview he did with film critic Mark Kermode as he explains how they restored the footage – very interesting stuff.


    1. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this ever since I saw the first clips of the restored footage. I would like to think this is something not to be missed by any of us.

      1. Already set the box up to record so as to ensure I do not miss it. Fully agree we should all watch and always remember that they gave their today so we could have our tomorrow.

  43. I managed to have a brief chat with Curtis last night at the Bryan Robson dinner. I, like probably most in the room was pushing for Lewis Wing to be in the team today.

    He just gave that’s grin of his and said

    “let’s just wait and see”

    So I expect wing to be on the bench today.


  44. Werdermouth wrote at 10.00 on 10th November:

    “So my punt on today’s team

    Fry – Ayala – Flint – Friend
    Howson – Clayton – Besic
    Downing – Hugill – Tavernier”

    An injured Shotton in goal, werder?!! *scratches head*

  45. Will get Mrs FAA to set the tv planner for the Peter Jackson docufilm. From the clips I’ve seen it looks amazing.

    Onto today’s game and although I don’t think a goal fest is on the cards I do the know if we score first we will win. The problem as we all know as I’m sure does TP is getting that all important first goal.

  46. Serious prediction time for today’s match, ignoring my plan to play Randolph in the role of striker. So here goes.

    Boro 2 – 0 Wigan.

    Yes that’s Boro to score two goals in one game. What have I said.

    Retreats to a darkened room.



  47. Just before I set off to the match there are two quotes this week from TP that don’t sit well with me.

    The first one was that Dael “can become as good as he wants but has to believe in himself”. Both TP and Monk dropped the lad after Norwich games blaming a conceded goal on the lad alone. Apart from the fact that there were ten other professionals playing for Boro of which two or three others were more or equally culpable dropping the lad isn’t going to do his confidence any good especially when it hasn’t happened to others.

    The second one is that “hard work and composure will solve Boro’s scoring issues”. I really hope that he doesn’t honestly believe either but especially that second comment because it smacks of burying his head in the sand if he honestly believes that is the root cause of our lack of goals.

    Hoping that today sees a re-jig up front to improve our chances rather than just more “hard work” from Gestede, Braithwaite, Downing, Howson, Hugill and Assombalonga!

    1. I guess not having belief in yourself isn’t helped by being dropped and singled out for errors – hopefully he’ll be in as RB. Also not sure if telling our strikers to show composure will necessarily change things unless they forgot that is what they were supposed to do.

  48. So Batth keeps his place instead of Ayala and Fry at RB – other than that it’s the usual suspects in midfield and attack.

    Team: Randolph, Fry, Batth, Flint, Friend, Clayton, Besic, Howson, Downing, Braithwaite, Hugill

    No Tav on the bench though with both our lack of composure strikers getting a seat instead…

    Subs: Konstantopoulos, Saville, Ayala, McNair, Wing, Assombalonga, Gestede

    1. The bench has non scoring Gestede who has offered little to nothing since his arrival and also another bench blocker clearly not good enough for either a midfield or RB slot.

      If we need to change the game (which considering the opposition shouldn’t happen) all TP has is Wing and the same old same old. Very very dissapointed that Tav is left out (and Fletcher) considering the quality that are occupying seats. Just hope today brings a comfortable and convincing three points.

      1. Couldn’t agree more. God only knows why he has left Tavernier out completely. How can anyone favour Gestede over Tavernier? Very disappointing for the fans and especially I would think for Tavernier himself.

  49. We have goals! and after showing good composure to put away the penalty, Hugill took the second really well on the half-volley – hopefully he’s now got his confidence up and can get a hat-trick. Wigan are there for the taking – didn’t somebody predict 5-0…

    Forgot to add that Boro are currently top with Norwich losing at home to Millwall and Leeds the late kick-off.

  50. Nice to see Hugill getting is first league goals, both well taken However up to then apart from one decent cross from George it had been too many hopeful punts. Braithwaite not really getting involved until the second goal. Too many sideways passes from George until he redeemed himself winning the gifted penalty.

    Clayton playing well, Besic running into too many cul de sacs. and is Howson playing???

  51. It’s been pretty much a nothing of a second half and Boro have not really done anything to add to their lead. It’s like they thought they’d stick with what they’ve got. Boro still top thanks to a quick Millwall equaliser at Norwich – in fact they’ve just got a third so top spot it looks like for a few hours at least!

  52. So the Canaries knock us off our perch after beating the Lions by 4-3, with a brace for Teemu Pukki & also one for a certain Mr J Rhodes (JR & Pukki scoring in stoppage time), which gives them a two-point lead… 🙁

  53. Good to get a win but as Werder said it was a nothing second half with little effort to add to the two goals. In a very competitive league, especially at the top, goal difference might be critical at the end of the season so why not push on to score more when you have the opportunity? Puzzling.

    1. TP continuing to suffer from a tactical brain f@rt? Praying for a WBA home victory at the moment, but 0-0 at half-time, the Dirties having had 71% of possession, according to the Beeb… 🙁

  54. I really can’t believe some people, second in the league, 2 points behind the leader Norwich, 11 clean sheets out of 17 league games and they still believe TP doesn’t know what he is doing ! They must be great at parties !

    Come on BORO.

    1. Well felllow bloggers I was talking to one of our legends just before the game today.

      No not a footballer but a man who brought us news of the highs and lows of our beloved Boro.

      I mean of course Uncle Eric Paylor!

      He’s agreed hopefully to do an In2View for us.

      I therefore wish that he does not find my questions too banal and amateurish and that I can do justice to the knowledge of his beloved Boro and bring them out so we can all share ,


  55. David in Cumbria
    Pleased with the win but should have been more than 2 – 0 based on 1st half play. 2nd half we didn’t get into the game as Wigan started running at us. We seem to have a problem when teams have a go at us but with our team we should at be able to punish them on the counter attack. TP always seems to be annoyed when we choose to pass back instead of forward. Is this a remnant of AKitis that has spread to the new players? I thought Fry was MOM. He has class when defending and moves upfield smoothly. Good to see Hugill getting into the goals. It is a punishing job for any lone striker in our team,

    1. Good Post

      I too thought Fry had one of his best games in a Boro team

      Out of all our defenders today his distribution was the best

      George has my heart in my mouth at times

      My man of the match was Adam Clayton


  56. RR

    Thank you that’s a great report and very accurate

    In my own opinion I thought Clayton shaded mom from Hugill but of course it’s a personal thing

    Fry had an excellent game

    I was disappointed that the referee couldn’t wait for just a minute to let our distinguished armed forces service personnel leave the north east corner before starting the game. Very poor form.

    I also thought he had a poor game and made a few strange decisions

    I had a brief word with Danny Ba’ath after the game and he seems to have integrated well into the ethos of the Boro which is encouraging because I think he is a great signing

    “Are you enjoying being in the first team” I asked

    “You cannot beat playing football every week “ he replied

    I went on

    “You had a great game”

    He simply said

    “Thank you it means a lot when people tell you that “

    A nice guy and I hope we make him a permanent signing


  57. Hopefully I’ll get time to polish off my strategy/style of play TP (not that TP) tomorrow either side of music and film reviews.

    Anyways – for today’s game I think the RAMP defence I frequently used under AK in the Championship best applies.

    Results are results.
    Achievements are achievements.
    Memories are memories.
    Progress is progress.

    And if the right ones are the right ones – so what?

    (Would that it were really so simple.)

    1. Great post Si

      But even though I’m an old codger I don’t use a RAMP I prefer a STEP




  58. Derby 1 Leeds 4
    West Brom 1 Derby 4
    West Brom 4 Leeds 1
    Norwich 0 Leeds 3
    Sheff Wed 0 Norwich 4
    Sheff Utd 4 Villa 1
    Villa 1 Sheff Wed 2
    Stoke 0 Wigan 3
    Preston 4 Wigan 0

    Just a selection of surprise results this season, and most of them by 3 goals or more. Apart from beating Sheff Utd 3-0, Boro don’t do big wins nor big defeats. Maybe in this crazy Division there’s maybe something to be said for that. So maybe we should be more wary of the likes of Stoke, Forest and Swansea rather than Derby, Leeds, Norwich and Villa, although I do think that West Brom might prove the exception to that. Any one agree?

      1. There is also some form of symmetry in the Championship League table at the moment. FOUR points separate third placed Leeds with 10th placed QPR, or between Birmingham and a playoff position, but at the bottom also FOUR points separating 16th placed Wigan from 23rd placed Bolton. In essence only FOUR wins separating a team in a playoff position with one in a relegation spot, and this with more than a third of the season completed. It seems to me that although aesthetically it’s nice to see Boro in an automatic promotion spot at the moment, it shouldn’t concern us greatly whether we’re top or 6th as long as we’re in touch with that second spot. Apart from Boro, we’ve already had Leeds, West Brom and Sheff Utd in top position and now Norwich. Which club will be the next to top this division? Derby, Forest, Swansea, Stoke, Villa? No team yet has put together a long unbeaten run except Birmingham but that included 7 draws. Eventually one club surely will put together a ten match unbeaten sequence of predominantly wins, but probably in the second half of the season and that will be the telling factor. Could Boro be that team scraping along with several 1-0 wins? Why not? It might not be pretty, but with the squad available should not be out of the question. In the end it may well come down to results in March and April, so hang on to your hats!

  59. All I’ve seen of today’s game is the second goal, and while RR’s report is its usual comprehensive self, I feel he under-sells it.
    Braithwaite was determined in getting to the byeline after a lovely piece of control, and played a decent ball to the only Boro player available in the box.
    However it was a difficult chest height spinning ball and Hugill did very well to control it. The venom with which he lashed it home have the keeper no chance.
    It was an impressive moment.
    Plus a clean sheet and temporarily top of the league.
    I don’t doubt the rest of the game was as RR records it.

    1. From where I was sat Braithwaite done absolutely brilliantly in controlling Besic’s long ball and to get the ball across the goal mouth but I’m pretty sure from the change in angle it it was clawed out by Walton who unintentionally sent it into the path of Hugill rather than Braithwaite picking him out and finding him. Martin’s intention I think was to lob a high cross over the Keeper in the hope that Hugill would close in on it with a header. That doesn’t devalue Braithwaite’s efforts because he forced the Keeper into a hasty decision which backfired on him to our benefit, leaving the ball wasn’t an option but Walton probably should have palmed it over the bar for a corner.

      1. I”m sure you’re correct. I was watching television footage captured by another phone on my phone. Quite late at night. After some beers. While I’m happy to be critical of the failings of our forwards, I also feel we should – as we do – praise them when they get it right. And Hugill’s control and finish were excellent.

  60. A perfect stream here in the Middle east – a pleasure to watch.

    I think we looked good and we did the business with minimum expenditure.

    Although I would have prefered an all out assault on Wigan the win was a win and so we can relax. I have a nagging doubt though that sooner or later we will need passion and fire in our bellies if we are to prevail – and I dont see it in our current side.

    Any how 3 points so mustn’t grumble at the moment.

  61. Thank you for the report RR, the usual high standard that we’ve come to expect.

    ‘Boro striker scores two goals shock!’ that is a collector’s piece. Now I can watch the highlights, having read the report, without spilling my morning coffee.

    I’m just pleased Boro won, heaven knows Boro have made getting a win, any kind of win, a bit of a trial. But then that’s Boro for you and despite the changes in players, formations and managers they have never changed, so I suppose they are consistent but not not the variation we all hope for. Mind you I suppose most fans would say that about their team.

    I reckon that any team in the top six that can put together a consistent winning run will win this league and with the lack of consistency all around them I hope Boro can manage the problem. Will they?



  62. What an emotional TWO minutes silence respected impeccably at the King Power Stadium yesterday for Vichai and the other 4 casualties of the helicopter crash shown on the BBC website. It reminded me of schooldays long ago when TWO minute silences were the norm for Remembrance Day and for other major tragedies in my youth. So much more respectful and poignant than a minutes applause, but I guess there will always be the fear that some moron might break a silent respect. Pity really!

    1. Ken,

      In a minute’s silence you can “out” the non conformers, in a minute’s applause you can’t, that’s why I can’t understand the reason it came about. When I go, and if anyone claps, you’ll be seeing me, albeit a tad vaguely, haunting your house the following day!

  63. I thought it was a performance we were, for the majority of, well in control. Even when Wigan had all their possession in the second half they didn’t threaten our goal. A daisy cutter that bounced in front of Randolph was their sum total of their attempts on goal I think.

    Great to see Hugill break his championship duck. A coolly struck penalty and a cracking half volley for his second and he’s got a couple of weeks to sort his injury out due to another (yawn) international break.

    Darl Fry had a very good game I thought. Defending excellently as well as getting forward and putting in a couple of decent crosses.

    But my motm goes to Adam Clayton. Non stop energy with crucial tackles and blocks. He’s the Boros very own Energiser Bunny and his twists, turns, dummy’s and feints were a joy to watch.

    Got the 2 goal lead by half time and shut up shop. Very similar to the Sheffield Utd game and there weren’t too many complaints then. A thoroughly professional performance.

    I received a message from a mate back home that read ” The Dirties ha ha ha”. I turned the tv on to see the score line of 4-0 and the camera showing their manager in his usual stance but this time without his Oor Wullie bucket to park his backside on. It was a great picture😀!

    In the current top six, five have conceded 3 or more goals on one or more occasions. We haven’t and frankly don’t look like conceding in most games we play. The defensive bedock is there and a few more at the other end on a consistent basis would see us there or thereabouts come May.

  64. Well that was a welcome win at home and a goal scored from open play to boot. However I have to say that I agree with RR and his thoughts in his alternative match report.

    I cannot remember who said it, but for all our being second, may be just may be we are not as good as some think we are and were at the season start. We have not played any team off the park yet unlike some of those around us as pointed out above by Ken. Yes we have been as inconsistent as they have and have generally struggled to impose ourselves apart from the first half against Sheff Utd.

    And so it was yesterday against a very average team playing very poorly of late away from home. We started reasonably well, fell away, came back into it when George got a lucky rebound, nutmegged the next defender and stole a penalty. Hugill took resulting kick with great composure considering the pressure the lad must have been feeling at that moment. Then an excellent piece of football and determination by MB and Hugill finally gave us that first goal at home from open play for an eternity.

    The second half as RR wrote was one to forget. We just did not seem up for it, thought the job was done and retreated into our own half and defended. Wigan could and possibly should of made it a little more difficult with a couple of decent chances and some great blocks by Fry and Batth to save any Red faces.

    As well as Hugill played and having his best all round game to date he was generally still too isolated with little support anywhere near him at times. MB is obviously the most talented footballer we have, but is not doing enough going forward, although he does defend deep and that may be a problem for him at the other end. Besic is at the moment our best midfielder from a forward passing perspective, but as I said previously, he beats his man twice, does pirouettes as he looks for the player or should that be players that should be in those forward positions waiting for his balls. (His ball to MB for his one on one chance was excellent, although I do not agree that it was a easy chance. The replays showed just how narrow the angle was). I lost count of the number of times he had to go deep to collect the ball and then try and carry it hoping to find that elusive Boro red shirt. It also showed after about 80 minutes as he looked knackered and was subsequently subbed.

    We have a selection of midfielders that are just not capable of making things happen in the final third, Besic apart. We have spent 12mil, an awful lot of money, on McNair and Saville who look very average to date. The former as we know is not a RB, but unless TP is seeing something in training which we do not see, then why not try him in the position he was bought for? And as for the ever present Howson, I am sure Mr Pulis can show us his stats and tell us he runs a thousand miles each game. But what else does he do? he does not score goals, does nor makes assists, does not win tackles, apart from one yesterday which resulted in a foul. he should be benched at best, and McNair, Wing or Tav given a start, they could not possibly do worse. In fact in the fifteen or so minutes Wing was on he must have make three or four tackles.

    Yes we are second and I am very happy with that. But we do need to improve as we all know going forward. Come January, possibly all the top teams will be looking to add to their squad. What will Mr Pulis be looking to add to give us that little extra and turn it into goals that will win the match and not draw it?

  65. Another win, another clean sheet, back in the automatic promotion places. No matter how much posters on here try to talk down Tony Pulis’ Boro somehow the results don’t seem to match the narrative. I enjoyed reading many of the posts, particularly Werder’s terrific opener and Redcar Red’s match report, although I remain puzzled by the corner we supposedly have to turn. Each to their own, but it seems a shame that so many people should find it difficult to enjoy such a patently successful season so far. I may be in a minority, or maybe I’m simply in a minority in this particular small subset of Boro fans, but I’m enjoying the season and I’m happy with Tony Pulis as Manager.

  66. The season when Toon were promoted after the Baggies and ourselves were also relegated is worth recalling.

    It may be my inherent bias but if my memory serves right, Toon manged to keep near the top in the first half of the season without playing well at times. they gained wins against the run of play, dodgy penalties, last minute winners. At Christmas they started playing a lot better and ran away with it.

    SrAlex always said keep in touch until February/March then push on.

    Lets hope we are still up there and do exactly that.

    1. Ian
      Exactly right. Why are some of us so obsessed with remaining top, just keep in touch. I don’t care that Norwich scored twice in injury time, it’s what Boro do. As you say that’s what Sir Alex advocated and even Tony Pulis says he pays no attention to the League table at this time of the season. Maybe some of us are getting nervous at our inability to smash teams, but Jack Charlton’s team didn’t score many goals in the first few months. That long unbeaten run like Burnley achieved a couple of seasons ago may be just around the corner.

  67. Good and truthful reports here on a match that went to plan from first to last. One positive to emerge from the match was the performance of Hugil, I think we can stop using both our non scoring strikers on the bench from now on, which will be nice.
    We are still making the same errors, even when winning, Downing, lovely run, entered the box unchallenged, ball on his left foot, did not shoot. I give up.

  68. The usual plaudits for RR report which was pretty much what I saw.

    After a delayed return due to a hold up on the A168(reason unknown) I have chance to reflect.

    Happy that we won and scored two goals and that we are still second on what would appear to be a poor league based on results seen so far.

    Hugill impressed and TPS next challenge is to get the midfield to give more support to him. So rather work on defence, need to work in the final third as ultimately it is goals that win matches and gain promotion. No nil draws will not be enough.

    If that can be achieved, then we should be ok and pleasingly I do think that TP May be seeing that now.

    Overall, I am happier again, just hope that we can continue after the break……..


  69. GHW
    Thanks for that information. I seem to have sent a lot of blogs lately, and as I have a love for things poetical I thought it might be appropriate on this Armistice Day to sign off for now with a quotation from Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘The Fallen’ that we’re all probably familiar with:-

    They shall not grow old, as we are left to grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
    We will remember them.

  70. Exmil2017

    You weren’t by any chance a sniper when you were in the forces were you, because that’s what you’re doing of late. Instead of making snide comments from a distance, answer outright your concerns against a poster’s thoughts and opinions on a given subject. Firstly, I’m not, never have been and never will be a whinger, and despite where I currently live and despite our reputation with the locals, I never opine (or whinge in your terminology) without just cause. I might be out on a limb here, but I felt that your apology when previously accused of the same offence, was very well camouflaged by your narrative of your military exploits. Whilst being extremely impressed, honoured and grateful, that you and others should be willing to place the ultimate sacrifice on the line in our defence, if you are honestly remorseful in your comments to date, then don’t flower them up.

    Secondly, when a certain blogger opines that the Boro could do better even after a win, that opinion should be both respected and countered directly if you feel strongly enough to comment, and not sniped at in an aside comment from afar. If you’re happy with a scrape through win against also rans and not wanting improvement on what’s being served up in front of you, then reason why you’re happy and don’t snipe at others that aren’t and wanting perfection. I want perfection.

    I appreciate your passion for the Boro, a passion that’s obviously shared amongst everyone on this blog, but it’s snipes like yours are what makes posters like me want to join Spartak in the White Carpathian’s.

    So, on that note, goodnight!

  71. These may be WWII extracts, but the nature of the words seemed apt for today.

    “Henry V was talking to his men. He said, ‘From this day to the ending of the world… we in it shall be remember’d… we lucky few, we band of brothers… For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother…”

    — Carwood Lipton RIP

    “Do you remember the letter that Mike Ranney wrote me? You do? Do you remember how I ended it? …I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day when he said, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ Grandpa said, ‘No… but I served in a company of heroes.'”

    — Dick Winters RIP

  72. In top two and exceptionally good defending record. Life is good.

    The second half was not as good as the excellent first half, but we are the second, The table never lies as a source in Derby keeps reminding us.

    The Riverside Live stream was excellent again. Quality was good but the picture was missing before the match – only commentary was to be heard. Since kick-off no problem in quality. The football did deteriorate in the second half but that was up the the players in red not technicians at Riverside Live.

    So the stream keeps improving. Let’s hope we improve in scoring a few goals and we will walk this league in the second half of the season. There is always hope. We can only improve.

    Up he Boro!

  73. Another annoying break in the season ,when will it start properly?
    This break would have been a good time to arrange a game against a top team,using it as a look at a mix of experienced players along with our best younger lads, also trying different systems within the game.
    A game of four half hours, at home free of charge to fans,
    But that’s thinking outside the box.

  74. PPinP

    I think Exmil is making a valid point and it’s one I agree with. Some fans, by no means exclusive to Diasboro, made their minds up as soon as he was appointed and will never be happy/satisfied until Pulis is no longer the Boro manager no matter what he achieves.

    A couple of my mates who are season ticket holders are of that mindset. When we play poorly it’s the old dinosaur cliche. When we play well, which hasn’t been as often as I’d like to be honest, it’s against poor opposition or we were lucky. They wouldn’t give him the lickings off a dog.

    Entrenched opinions they maybe, but they are their opinions.

  75. PPinP

    My post wasn’t directed towards you. I was trying to put across that some people will try and find a negative no matter what Pulis does or how the team perform. My two good friends being such an example.

    1. FAA

      this isn’t directed at you it’s just a general observation

      Do you all remember the comedy sketch “the scousers” Harry Enfield and the MCCanns always ended up having an argument which was always sorted out by one of them saying “Calm Down Calm Down.”

      This blog is noted for witty and well observed and interesting posts with well reasoned comments.

      Not everyone shares the same opinion and it would be very stale if we didn’t have differing views like we would have in the pub.


      So to remind everyone when we set out on this road coming up for two years ago that our ethos was not to play the man.

      I would hate for anyone to stop posting or feeling slighted after all we’re all mates on here aren’t we?


  76. FAA, when I see my name emblazoned across the top of the post, I’m obviously going to assume that I’m the target. Thing is, Exmil didn’t make any points, I was accused of being a whinger and Pedro goes down like a lead fart at parties, they aren not points at all.

    Further, if nobody can see any faults in any display, then they’re either blind or very easily pleased. There again, maybe they’re just whingers!

      1. Consider it in the garage, handbrake applied and keys on the hallway table, do you want me to drain the tank and disconnect the battery? You my friend were just unfortunate enough to get caught in the crossfire, an innocent bystander and all that.

  77. Please, gentlemen, there will be bloggers complaining about players and incidents in the Manchester city team right now.
    Do not get involved in silly squabbles, if you were sat at a table in a pub after the match, far more outrageous things would be said, and cause laughter, and at the end of the day, this blog is only that table in that pub,( with a lot more fans sat round it.

  78. Watched the highlights of the match.

    Normally they are about ten minutes, this edition was six minutes long and it included nearly a minute of the impeccably observed remembrance silence.

    It didn’t sound like a thrill a minute encounter in the commentary.

    Still three points, never mind the quality, feel the width – anyone remember that one?

  79. There were many Boro footballers who lost their lives in both World Wars, too many to mention. A lot of Boro fans are also fans of cricket too, Yorkshire and Durham particularly, but I came across this particular sad story of one of Yorkshire’s and England’s finest who lost his life in the First World War so I hope you’ll forgive me in recording his tragically short career on this forum.

    The man I’m referring to was called Major William Booth (Major was his Christian name, not his rank). He enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant and fell in action to a shell blast at La Cigny during the battle of Lens on the Somme in July 1916 and died in the arms of a Yorkshire fast bowler called Abe Waddington who stumbled across him by accident. Booth’s career had started with Yorkshire’s Second Eleven in 1907, but he had quickly established himself as a fine all rounder with the First Eleven, and completed the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in the county’s Championship winning team of 1912. That season included taking 8 for 47 against Middlesex at Lord’s as a fast medium bowler. The following season he scored 1228 runs and took 181 wickets which earned him selection for the England tour of South Africa where he helped his Country to a series win. The following season he bowled unchanged in Yorkshire’s southern tour against Gloucestershire and Somerset taking 17 wickets for 166 runs. By the end of the season he had accumulated 4,753 runs and taken 603 wickets in a first class career of 162 first-class matches, including two hat tricks and nine 10 wicket match hauls.

    He was just reaching the prime of his career when he was. killed. Booth had lived with his sister who was unable to come to terms with his death, and kept his room untouched for the rest of her life until she died in 1956. Just one of many tragic stories of those that lost their lives in the Great War.


  80. From my perspective I said from the off that Mr Pulis would not be my choice for the next Manager, but did say what alternatives were there available at the time that were possibly more experienced and more importantly would want to come to MFC.

    I have nothing against TP personally, I do not know him, but he seems a very decent man. Anybody that does charity work as he does, has to be. I also like his feelings for the area and the fact that he is probably away from his family more that he would wish.

    It is his football philosophy that I have issue with, although I have to admit it has been better than I thought it would be this season. However as much as I may not be an experienced coach, I have watched football long enough to make an opinion that I believe carries some merit. Saturday was an example when I thought we could have “done better”. Yes a win at home, a goal long last from open play and the added bonus of local player Jordan Hugill looking more the player TP wants up front. But we could have done more in my opinion, we could have pressed Wigan and taken the game to them more in the second half when the possibly they had the better chances of the few that came.

    As much as Mr Pulis says that his team is short of what he wants and we all know what that is, I do not believe that he has effectively used all those players available to him. At times he appears to believe that we start with a point and we will go from there. We have a great defence that has improved in my view with the inclusion of Batth and Fry at RB. As GHW rightly points out we have the best stats in this department, however like AK before, the front end suffers due to the midfielders defending first and supporting the attack second. Besic as I posted probably suffers more than the others in his lost ability to influence the game playing too deep and then not having sufficient players in front of him.

    That is my gripe with TP. I just believe that with a little slackening of the hand break and the inclusion at times with some of the more expressive players we could be top of the league and some. So if expressing my view on this blog makes me a whinger in the eyes of some, then that is just something I will have to live with.

    1. Pedro
      If saying the bleedin obvious makes you a whinger, then you are in good company. There are plenty on here who decided long ago that to ignore the talent at our disposal is detrimental to the long term future of the club. And, yes I do mean Wing, and Tavernier, and Fry, and Hugil, it is self evident that they will supply the goals, and the points, and the entertainment to move us on.

  81. Sorry Werder, not sure what the problem is with my posts, unless there is something about them that I said previously. Can you dip into to “naughty folder” when you have a minute.

    1. Not sure why some of your long posts are going to the spam folder as can’t see anything unusual – I even checked your IP address to see any of the anti-spam databases (there are over 80) have flagged your address but you weren’t marked on any of them. So just looks like one of those quirks of the spam filter.

  82. The divergence of opinion on here illustrates the differing views on our Club at the minute. In isolation the table looks very good sitting in an automatic promotion spot and had Norwich not battled their way to yet another consecutive victory would have looked even better. No reason to be unhappy especially with a home Quarter Final Cup tie coming up soon. Those of us with several battle scars from previous Boro campaigns over 40, 50 or even exceeding 60 decades and longer know that this is as good as things get for Boro so we should be grateful as things could be a lot worse and usually have been.

    The flip side of that is that our form has dipped alarmingly and that our League position is based on points gained over the season to date but an unhealthy heavy weighting is on the front end rather than the here and now using Norwich as a topical comparison where the reverse is true. They started badly and when we played them we expected a routine away win. Typical Boro turned up that day, they beat us and have since been unstoppable with their recent form recovering the deficits of their early season ineptness.

    Those of us who are happy for where we are should rejoice and enjoy it but there are always those who are on guard duty. The ones who don’t sleep, who are protective of what we have in fear of losing it and realising that there are those out there that desperately want what we currently hold. For a sport that is possibly taking things too seriously but in business its the norm and Football ceased being a sport twenty odd years ago when it sold its soul. Our UK car Industry died of misplaced complacency and was replaced and rebuilt by the Japanese and their Kaizen philosophy or “continuous improvement” in our lingo.

    To be better than the best should be the target for anyone in business and indeed sports personalities who strive towards the same goal. Being as good as the leading pack or put more succinctly the best of the second tier is good enough for some for the here and now but not for others. That will never change, its the human psyche and what makes us all different and the fact that we are unlikely to ever attain the levels that the Manchelskiarsepools are currently at doesn’t stop some from demanding that we strive to achieve it. We were sadly reminded only recently about Leicester daring to dream. That we are at a healthy place relatively speaking right now is success in itself for many and maybe we should be careful what we wish for.

    My take on it is that I wanted TP as Boro Manager. At the time before he arrived the vote was split on here and I suspect that there slightly more who didn’t want him than who did. I thought he would be a good fit having managed similar sized clubs and kept them in the greed is good league. He had the experience that our last bore draw specialist didn’t have in keeping a side in the Premiership and he has bucketfuls of it!

    Now I knew deep down that the style of football was more than likely going to be effective even functional rather than entertaining and we are where SG probably hoped we would be at this stage but it still feels like we could and should achieve so much more. Rotherham at home was dire to endure, and Wigan were there for the taking but pragmatism came before entertainment in the realisation that this is a long slow war of attrition and not just one isolated battle. As Ken pointed out above in one of his brilliant posts, sides in this league are having some very extreme results, beating each other or getting hammered by each other or worse still by the bottom feeders even.

    To TP’s immense credit Boro haven’t been on the receiving end of any humiliations. Some annoying defeats yes but no major shocks like last Saturday for example where Villa ripped Frank Lampard’s Derby a new one and the Dirties had something like 70% possession yet got tanked 4-1. The reason for that is the same reason for that dreadful second half against Wigan. Long term its a case of holding your nerve, waiting until you see the whites of their eyes, keeping a steady hand on the tiller and confidence that your chosen course will prove to be the winning one. Deep down I think its very possible that it could be but I also think that with a few tweaks we could and should have been further ahead than where we currently are.

    A little more adventure could have seen a few more points on the table that could prove crucial and certainly against sides that in theory would have capitulated as they had against other opponents. Negativity, hoof ball, long throws, men, big lads are all things that I knew were coming and I undoubtedly wanted the net result when Pulis was appointed but I think he could have done better than he has. He no doubt will be of the belief that you catch more by being calm rather than splashing about. I dare say that there are Liverpool fans critical of Klopp and City fans not happy about certain aspects of Guardiola perhaps they are wrong and should be content where their respective clubs are at the moment especially considering recent histories. Conversely maybe they are right and won’t be content and will be screaming and demanding more until they are winning the Champions League three seasons out of every five!

    There are very positive aspects about TP, not least of all his transformation of Traore and our current league placing. There are however also aspects which are puzzling, recruitment being one and a seeming preference for certain players over others along with a reluctance to go for the jugular. Recruitment I think we all (or most) accept is not solely down to TP and that targeting of players has been poor for a while in the Cub. Not improving on existing or indeed outgoings and some of the signings are head scratching at best. That Bolasie and Adomah were targets that didn’t come off indicates that he hasn’t got the range of players he wants and that he is making the best of what he has available and that is to his credit. That he keeps selecting samey or worse still perennial under performers on his bench irks many. That he keeps grinding out results that keep us in the hunt in spite of or because of pleases others. Hopes, dreams and expectations are all different for different people.

    If he grinds us up as AK did then mission accomplished. Should we get up then I can think of no better Manager to keep us there joining that growing elite list of other unfashionable clubs spoiling Sky’s gravy train. Meanwhile I wish that he would just release the handbrake a few notches at times and be a little more adventurous and dare I say it entertaining but most of all I wish I could see something that will restore our current form to our August trailblazing start. Any side who puts a run together will blow this league apart, Norwich are probably the closest to it but in true Championship style will probably now lose their next three games after the International break.

    1. Nicely argued post, RR, but don’t you mean “John Terry’s Villa”? 😉 I keep seeing that in headlines, even though Dean Smith is the actual manager! Very irritating…

    2. In complete agreement with Redcar Red. Last season many said we had the best squad in the Championship; I disagreed. This season many will probably say our squad is inferior to last season’s, maybe so. But because the League is generally weaker in quality, I think we may have the best squad in the Championship this season, but not being used to its full potential.

      As Redcar Red states, at sometime this season at least one team is going to go on a long unbeaten run, and there’s no reason to believe that Boro won’t be one of them. My only concern is that the Carabao Cup might become a distraction. TP might well play a mixture of first team players with youngsters for the Quarter Final next month, but there would be an uproar if he didn’t play his strongest team in the Semifinal. Will two brave performances against Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea or Man City derail our season as it surely did to Bristol City last season, or are we capable of going on a long unbeaten run after that?

      I think that March and April will be the pivotal months when that unbeaten run occurs, and still expect Boro to finish in the top two, but not win the league as easily as I anticipated before the season started. That however doesn’t stop me from having the odd moan about some of our performances, because I believe we should be well ahead of the field at this moment in time. Two seasons ago Boro accumulated more points from the top 6 teams than anyone else, but occasionally drew or lost matches against the lower ranked teams. This season in such a compressed league table it is difficult to ascertain the top six, because next month’s top six might have four teams outside the current top six. However as the season unfolds I think there will be fewer teams likely to park the bus at the Riverside as draws will have little bearing on those wishing to reach the playoffs. This should suit Boro fine with their strong defensive record at home, so maybe away wins may play a large part in which team gets promoted and Boro again may be equipped better than most in recording those.

      So it’s imperative that Boro just hang in there until the end of February, because as I said that’s probably when the long awaited unbeaten run is likely to occur.

  83. Some posters can’t have their cake and eat it.

    There are continual gripes about “ plodding journeymen” and poor tactics. The manager is a dinosaur, plays his favourites to spite the home grown players. Yet the table and stats don’t lie.

    I would imagine he’d love to buy flair players ( didn’t he want Bolasie and Adomah?) but the point is, they don’t want to come to Middlesbrough.

    We are not even into the Xmas games yet, including the cups there are at least 30+ games to go. It takes time to evolve a team and a playing style and ethos. Given time I think the manager will prove to be a success here.

    Football has become a game of instant success or the manager is sacked, sometimes several in one season. I’m sure fans at Derby, Leeds, Sheffield Utd etc are saying, if only we had won a couple more we would be well clear by now.

    Let’s see where we are at Easter after a winter of clubs dealing with their squads being depleted by injuries and suspensions. I’m sticking with my mantra, so far so good.

    ( No doubt some wag will come up with the old chestnut of the man falling from the top of the Empire State Building)

    1. GHW
      The very fact that we were even thinking of signing Adomha says it all, he is 30, as much use to us as a bandaged thumb. Just who wished to sign him?, he would be keeping Tavernier from playing. One foolish idea, has consequences far beyond the immediate.
      No games for Tavernier, we lose him, with no significant fee, we are of course, stuck with Adomha for several seasons as he runs his contract down.
      The same applies to Fry, and Wing, and Chapman.
      Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. It ain’t rocket science

  84. RR as usual, what you write is well thought out and puts a very good view on things.

    We all have different views and I liked how Plato put it. There will always be those who are glass half empty or in some cases, completely empty and those whose glass is overflowing despite the realist saying it isn’t really!

    What stance we take will often oscillate within minutes, we’ll i did for me on Saturday. First half very happy, second not so but that is what being a Boro supporter is about surely!

    I, like many others, have seen the highs and the lows and never take anything for granted. Therefore will whinge from time to time and then be foam handed but wouldn’t have it any other way. And I accept others views too.

    Whilst watching bits of MOTD last night ( after the excellent They shall not grow old ) my wife said why are Man City so good? My response was money, lots of it. I wonder how many Citeh fans remember when they were in the 3rd division?

    I have long said that the greed is good mentality has, in some respects, spoilt football. I also have said that should Mr Gibdon sell up to some vast Consortium with loads of money, then I would withdraw my support as, to my mind, that ceases to be Middlesbrough AFC with all its history. Now, whether I would do it, remains to be seen of course……….

    I guess the point I am making is that as a smallish team with relatively limited resources, we are punching at our level and for that we should be grateful. It could be worse……….


    1. I know our defence is good but they predict we’ll only concede another 5 goals for the rest of the season with the last breach coming on 13 February in a 1-0 defeat at Sheffield Utd before keeping clean sheets for the last 14 games. I hope it turns out to be true but Boro are currently averaging just about one goal conceded every two games with an average of just over one goal scored per game.

      Incidentally, based on points per game, our season form shows a points total of 84 – though if you use our form since August then that drops to 76. On that basis I’ll happily take 92 points and going up as champions 🙂

      1. I think that is the crux of the debates on here, there are some who see the 92 points and others who fear the 76 points. That 16 point difference means 5 wins and a draw that we may or may not get. Overconfidence or over negativity? We won’t know until May. No doubt if its a League Cup win and Promotion there will be some who may understandably be more celebratory than others but should neither happen then there are no winners.

        Whether its Brexit or Remain, Labour or Tory, there will always be polarising viewpoints on any given subject. There was over McClaren, Mogga and AK less so perhaps over Strachan and Jocktification.

        1. If Boro start scoring a few more and continue to keep their defence tight then the league is there to be won, whether with 92 points or less. Interestingly the ‘Football Web Pages’ site had us only scoring another 26 goals in the remaining 29 games – which is slightly less than our current rate but if you only concede 5 goals until the end of the season then every goal is almost worth 3 points. Incidentally, they also suggest 87 points would be enough for automatic promotion – so our current extrapolation of 84 is almost enough.

          I think what many who watch the games will have noticed is that Boro have not performed that well for large parts of matches and lack a cutting edge. I’d agree with your match report that despite the welcome 2-0 win against Wigan, Tony Pulis hasn’t yet solved the problem of getting his team more effective in the final third – the first half hour looked a bit disjointed and the second half was a non-event from an attacking point of view – the game was won in those 15 minutes before half time.

          To his credit, Tony Pulis has not been happy with our performance in the final third and wants more from his players – he may even try to get some pace into the team in January and I suspect he could try to cash in on Britt and Gestede (or more accurately cut his losses) and try for a better striker too.

          Whether if he fails in the transfer window to get the type of players he wants will mean Boro will continue to be overly reliant on getting clean sheets and the subsequent risk us just falling short is open to opinion. We shouldn’t forget this is the last season of parachute payments and another season in the Championship will possibly be harder on a restricted budget with possible cost-cutting.

    2. I believe we will Finnish above Norwich and in top two. Not So sure about Norwich finishing up there, though.

      I repeat, we can only improve. Cannot see us being below top three all season now. As we have done so far.

      Up the Boro!

  85. I think the frustration about being a fan, is the secracy that surrounds clubs these days, nothing comes out with any substance from the people who are actually involved in the decisions.
    Its all bits and pieces from the media and the likes of what diasboro is, some talking points have some truths to them, most are second hand info, others are genuine concerns about the direction the club is going good or bad.
    The club itself don’t clarify things, leaves us guessing?
    For instance the window is coming up, so obviously rumours will start, it would be better if the club came out and spoke about what they hope could happen.
    They could say we have made bids for two or three players they have identified, let’s say two domestic one from Europe, all forwards, they could also mention, clubs have enquired about players we have, etc ,basically keeping fans abreast of things going on,at least we would get some dialogue.
    I’m kind of rambling on, but like I said this wall they put around the goings on doesn’t help.
    Nearly £40 million worth of players not good enough to start,sorry for stating the obvious but you do wonder.

    1. After the summer failure to land targets, I suspect the club will remain tight-lipped on what they hope to achieve in January – plus if the club say they want a new striker then it may upset those who are still expected to perform for the next ten games or so and may devalue any potential sales.

      As to whether we have £40m worth of players on the bench – well Britt was over-valued at £15m, Burnley you may remember dropped out after their £8m bid was rejected. Gestede at £6m was always dependent on him scoring goals and he’s never really looked the part. The potential £7m for Saville looks increasingly like a panic buy as he can’t get into the team where Howson is yet to score and I still find it odd that he was played as defensive midfielder given we presumably brought him in because of his 20 goals for Millwall last term – he may still come good but not if he becomes a bench warmer. Also McNair signed for £5m on a four-year deal and it’s hard to see when he’ll play as he’s probably now 6th choice in midfield and now 3rd choice RB.

    2. GT
      We have trouble in the market, and we always will.
      You do not land any player by telling anybody( never mind the world) that you are going to talk to x club about him and offer x money, then proceed to talk for a month.
      The market is a jungle, and it is full of hyenas.
      To sign any player, you ask the club if he is available, if they say no, walk away.
      They will tell you if they want to sell, you do not have to chase them.
      When you get a bite you ask the price, they ask too much, you tell them your price, and do not leave that meeting until you have agreed a price.
      They will then tell you that they will not do the deal until, oh, four weeks time, you tell them that the deal is off, because they are going to tout him around all and sundry clubs in an attempt to, a, get a better price, and b, just be awkward.
      Just hire that second hand car salesman, it ain’t difficult, this dealing.

  86. I had a look at RR’s suggested site and it did puzzle me.

    Predicting under a goal a game scored looked a little low, only conceding 5 for the rest of the season seems even more unlikely.

    I will settle for top with 92 points.

  87. Had contact today with Uncle Eric (Paylor) and working up the Q&A for him .

    Jarkko has asked for me to include a couple of questions (done) Dora’s anyone else have anything they would like me to ask?


  88. I quote Eric Paylor
    ” Hugill’s final arrival on the big stage means that we no longer have to sit kicking our heels and waiting for the January transfer window to open for something to happen ”
    A bit premature I think Eric.

    I am off to Egypt during the international break but as always keeping up with news via DiasBoro.

    1. Yes, Braveheart, I agree. Hugill may come good. He may get us a lot more goals this season. I think he fits TP’s system better than anyone else. Certainly, his last 2 games have shown significant improvement, and no doubt his improving fitness is also helping. But the EG, Uncle Eric included, have gone a bit over the top about him. It’s certainly too early to say our striking problems are solved. One swallow doesn’t make a summer.

      By the way, does anyone see Ashley Fletcher getting a game soon? He’s done alright in the cup games, scored a couple and looks mobile. Perhaps TP isn’t seeing enough from him in training? Personally, I would have him on the bench rather than Gestede.

  89. And, RR – my older brother keeps reminding me of Kodak! He implied to me, quite rightly, that you must change and evolve to progress otherwise you’ll regress or worse, be doomed to fail.

    I do hear from several sources that my photography and writing is improving with time, though, so I must be doing something right. Doesn’t stop me feeling guilty over my time-wasting and getting sucked into toxic ranting during the worst of times.

    The point about “protecting what we have” – that’s simply more and more commonplace now because of what happens when you lose the PL millions and parachute payments.

    Take Burnley. After nearly going out of business once and almost into administration once, have settled for a level of ambition that will ensure that they exist as a club. Budgeting for the worst case scenario because you never know when a bad season’s coming, when your manager will lose his mojo (and there has been some disquiet with Dyche’s substitutions of late) or when your manager will be poached.

    Watford try and get round the whole “poaching” / “loss of mojo” thing by accepting that “no coach will stay with us for more than a few years” and thus seek to stabilise the club through the hierarchy and not the manager. I get the feeling, however, that they may have been keen to plan for a long-term rise with Marco Silva – but then Silva’s head was turned by Everton’s overtures and you know the rest. (See also: Ronald Koeman at Southampton.)

    Me, I gave up on any hope of a long-term rise with McClaren when his head was turned by Leeds.

    Then again. My dad offered me some useful words of wisdom: the harder you try to protect what you have, the less inclined you will be to strive for more.

    “Getting burned” or “getting bopped” as TSF calls it, hurts, but it’s part of our learning curve.

    1. Kodak is a great example but perhaps and even better one certainly for the younger readers is Nokia V. Blackberry V. iPhone V. Samsung. It illustrates exactly what happens if you rise to the top and sit there basking in the sunshine without trying even harder to strive for better and better. The last pairing iPhone V. Samsung is a good current battle where Apple’s iPhone is constantly being pushed by Samsung nipping at their heels meanwhile Huawei and even Google are closing in and wanting a slice of Apple Pie.

      We all remember great sides from our era’s, be it Man Utd or Celtic in the 60’s (Ken I’m sure can go back to the Blackpool’s, Villa’s or Preston’s from earlier days), Leeds in the 70’s, Liverpool in the 80’s then came Sralex’s United, the advent of Chelski’s Millions through to Man City’s Billions and so it will continue. Being at the top isn’t good enough, to stay there you have to get better, to constantly refine and improve, not accepting limitations or averageness. Its a tough struggle, just ask Jose Mourinho or Julen Lopetegui.

      1. Sr Alex’s noisy neighbours have now grown up and become big boys now. Whether they will ever become a bigger club is an interesting debate.

        There is a misconception that Old Trafford is full of people from Bexley to Belfast. They have the same proportion of local fans as anyone else, the ultimate irony of Citeh being the team of Manchester is the lack of Mancunians in their squad and coaching team.

        The top flight is a United Nations with a sprinkling of British.

      2. Ian

        I think one of the main differentiators with United is that whilst they do have the same proportion of local fans as anyone else they do have a huge following from Bexley to Belfast and beyond which is far greater than other Clubs. Many of these “extended” fans can afford the price of a ticket that many of the locals can’t which sadly is back to being a business rather than a sport.

  90. More. (I’m on a roll here.)

    Been following the fortunes of MonksBrum, as I call them. Happy that they’re relatively stable and may even sneak a top six place, with a bit of luck, as long as it’s not at Boro’s expense. (Ditto AKForest.)

    What’s the difference? It would simply seem that he hasn’t been given the key to the St Andrews’ treasure chest like he was at the Riverside. With less signings, there’s less time required for new players to bed in, and less chaos.

    The consequence is he’s trying to make the most of what he has to work with. He also said, after keeping them up last season, that being a “big” club doesn’t give you the right to have anything in the Championship unless the work was put in. And that he would be “relentless” in raising the mentality of the club.

    A recent good run of form suggests this “mentality” is paying off, with Lukey Juke enjoying arguably his best spell ever – eight goals in as many games. It probably helps, too, that Monk’s trusted Pep talker is back alongside him.

    What still leaves a bad taste was an incident rightly raised by GHW and discussed on the DiasBoro earlier this year – the whole sorry affair of the “gardening leave”. GHW, Werder, Len et al have said all that needs to be said there so I’ll go no further.

  91. Alluding to comments about some fans being unhappy with Boro’s League position because of the fact that the football is so dire. Fans of other clubs are often the same with their team’s performances also. I also read the forum of Cas Tigers, and find it unbelievable that some moan about the non-recruitment of this or that player, saying we’ll probably finish in mid table if we don’t try to buy a new centre and a new front row forward, and this about a club who has played such attractive rugby in their last two seasons finishing 1st and 3rd. But no, we haven’t won the Challenge Cup or Grand Final they write – I sometimes despair.

    However in another sport, I was so uplifted to watch Lee Westwood win again for the first time in 4 years. I had always lived in hope that he would one day win a Major, but recently given up hope of his ever winning any tournament again. He was so emotional afterwards and so was I. Lee has seemed more relaxed lately with having his son caddying for him one week, and this week his girlfriend Helen Storey, although I do feel sorry for his regular caddy who was given the week off as his percentage of prize money has been fairly meagre lately. What a week to be given time off. C’est la vie!

  92. Belated congratulations to Marske United on beating Tamworth in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy. They have been drawn away to Blyth Spartans in the Final Qualifying Round in a fortnight’s time when Darlington (winners in 2011) enter with a home tie against AFC Telford United and York City (winners in 2017) face an away tie against Kidderminster Harriers. Hartlepool United will enter the First Round Proper where prize money will be £5,000 for the losers, not an inconsiderable amount for a club like Marske I would imagine. Could Hartlepool United emulate what Darlington and York City did? There’s no reason that they can’t as long as they have favourable draws, as they are currently higher in the National League table than either of their North East neighbours were when they won it.

    1. The prices are middle of the road but there is also a supposed 20 year waiting list unless of course you can afford the Hospitality and Corporate packages. Allegedly (according to their local paper) the waiting list is supposedly 75,000 about the same as the current Old Trafford capacity.When one does become available priority is given to “members” who have already prepaid a deposit.

      There was a Yougov poll done a few years back (two or three years from memory) which they found that Man Utd and Liverpool had the lowest levels of local support in the Premiership while the “less fashionable” sides like West Brom and Stoke as examples had the highest concentration of local support.

      1. Redcar Red

        The you gov poll was across the country and reflects who supports the clubs not who attends their games.. As Liverpool, then ManU dominated the top flight you would expect them to be more popular throughout the country – and globally, but not in the Gill household!

        The last table I can remember on the demographics of the attending fans was when we were in the top flight.

        Clubs like ourselves had the highest local postcode attendees. ManU were about 13th alongside other big clubs. Liverpool were near the bottom of that table.

        It is not ManU’s fault they have a waiting list for season tickets, I suppose they could build a bigger stadium.

    2. Ian
      I think that the so called support for the giants of the game has existed forever, and will continue.
      All national football writers are, basically, located in London, and all will be a very keen supporter of a big London club.
      As such they will be force fed goodies, free tickets, hospitality, access to players and staff, and owners.
      Free travel to foreign parts, including summer tours to glamour locations, and, of course, Xmass pressies ( unfortunately only a Watch, approx. 3 grand)
      Same subject, when the Arabs came into racing big time, the trainers and wives got Rolexes for Christmas, very good! But the stable lads and girls also got the same, not so good! An awful lot of upset trainers (and wives). I’m sure it’s been sorted out by now.
      At the very top, it’s narrow margins, so it must be a help that all the London clubs are controlled by reffs who live in the London area when at home.

  93. Many happy returns to one Bernie Slaven. Watch the you tube video on the link to AVs blog and watch how a proper goal scorer plus his trade. Lots of 6 yard (and closer) tap ins showed his ability to second guess where the ball might end up and a couple of great strikes from outside the box.

    Even in the current Boro team that doesn’t create many chances he would get 15 – 20 in this team. What would we do for a goal scorer like Bernie now?

  94. Plato

    When I started watching football Boro were a low ranking second division side who then dropped through the trap door in to the third division.

    Even in those days you tended to have a second team or a ranking of the clubs so that when Leeds played Liverpool you wanted one of them to win. When Spurs play Arsenal I prefer Spurs to win.

    Sadly, you sometimes want both to lose, Sunderland v Toon for instance. Occasionally you want both to win, Darlo v Pools.

    It is very difficult not to pick a side. In 1975 a group of us at Uni bought a barrel of beer to help watch West Ham v Fulham in the Cup Final

    I was rooting for Fulham but got Alan Taylor in the sweepstake. I had mixed emotions when he scored, wrestled with my conscience then pocketed the winnings.

    There are principles and there are winnings..

    1. Ian
      In the press today, a casual comment( by a London sports writer) subject VAR
      Discussing the old saw about ” all these so called dodgy decisions even themselves over the season” ( I think it’s called the philosophy get out clause.)
      He said that Arsenal had been favoured by four completely wrong decisions by Refs this season so far. And it had been of immense help to their efforts to somehow cling to the top six.
      I never believed that story anyway, the top teams have always been the lucky recipients of big errors by the officials, they knew what they were about when they announced that they would never explain their decisions, and they never have.

  95. A belated thanks to RR for his match report which accorded with my view of the game particularly the non entity of a second half.

    Well done to MFC for providing an excellent and trouble free stream of the game, for scoring two goals and a win which has left us in second place.

    Despite all the positives I am still left with a sense of frustration that we are not running away with this poor league but as someone more renowned than myself once said “it is what it is”.

    CoB 😎

    1. Yes, I forgot to mention it was indeed an excellent stream from MFC – not a single outage from start to finish, though I did get a bit worried when it only gave an audio stream until a minute before kick-off. Hopefully that means everything is now sorted.

      I must admit, there haven’t been as many available games for streaming as I’d anticipated when I paid €170 for my season pass – though it should hopefully prove cheaper than paying £6 per game for an iFollow match pass. I already know the upcoming games against Brentford and Villa are also being shown on Sky – along with the midweek games being available too.

      1. Werder

        The programme actually starts at 2.45 UK time with pre-match discussion between Gordon and Bernie.

        You may have to click on the video to get it to start. I logged on at 2.30 at which point I had music and a picture of the Riverside overlaid by the Riverside Live banner and this then switched to the live stream at the due time.

        1. I reloaded the page and tried clicking on the video button several times but it only gave the audio commentary and a red screen – I think Jarkko said earlier that he’d also had the same problem. My main worry at the time that the video stream on the laptop wasn’t working and I’d just started looking for an alternative stream when video suddenly appeared during the one-minute silence.

  96. That twitter thing from AV about each Premier league club donating £250,000 toggle Scudamore a £5million present is a scandal. He’s well paid, will have a pension the vast majority of us could only dream of, as in a lottery win. They should be giving that money to a pool for the teams lower down the pyramid to help them survive and provide the opportunities for young UK players that they do not provide, never mind the survival of those clubs.

    Incredible arrogance.

    Bloody ridiculous or is it just me being being a bit old-fashioned?

    I don’t know how he would dare take it.



    1. Jarsue
      As a defence of the indefensible, try this.
      When he took charge they were getting sums like 50 million a year for their product.
      When he left they are getting close on three billion a year, all the clubs sharing that money should be sorry their donation is not more.

  97. Read the article in the Gazette about the “new” SKY – EFL five year deal. Lots more matches to be shown live and the red button for those cold winter nights. Mind you the amount the Championship will get has been increased to just under three mil. Great. Sell your soul for a few pounds more. The lower division clubs probably getting virtually nowt.

    Balance that against the minimum, yes minimum of one hundred mil the EPL clubs receive. Talk about rich and poor and distribution of wealth in this sad, sad society of ours.

  98. Jarsue,

    Did you also read why the FA thought that his replacement, a certain Susanna Dinnage, was such a perfect fit for money bags’ seat?

    (1) She was the Global President of Discovery’s Animal Planet for a year
    (2) She’s a Fulham fan
    (3) She’s worked for Discovery for nearly a decade
    (4) She’s worked for Channel Five for over ten years
    (5) She started her career at MTV

    I can’t see anything in there that has sweet FA to do with football, so why she’s so damned perfect for the role, and please don’t quote number two, I’m just not listening. I’ve had Discovery’s for almost twenty years, I’ve got a dog, I’m a Boro fan, I like music and I watch Great British Bake Off on Channel Five, why didn’t I get considered?

    Whoah, silly me, there it was smacking me straight in the face all the time, I’m a Boro fan!!!

  99. Pease –

    She’s a perfect fit for football because football’s financial health is tied to television money. And she’s been playing hardball with the major players at Sky for years.

    Plato wrote:
    ‘All national football writers are, basically, located in London, and all will be a very keen supporter of a big London club.
    As such they will be force fed goodies, free tickets, hospitality, access to players and staff, and owners.
    Free travel to foreign parts, including summer tours to glamour locations, and, of course, Xmass pressies ( unfortunately only a Watch, approx. 3 grand)’
    I’ll ask around but I suspect few national football writers will recognise this description of themselves.

    1. Chris,

      There was a bit of tongue in cheek there, but it seems as though it’s yet another step away from football as we knew it, I can’t say “know” because the use of that tense has long gone. I would have preferred someone (no gender preference) with at least an inkling of football and what it really means to us, the public, and not a prawn sandwich floater in the upper echelons. Room at the trough for one more.

      1. It’s a Football version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ with Sepp Blatter as ‘The Ghost of Christmas Past’ stalking the freebie cupboard and pushing the lucky-dip bran tub along.

        It’s a changing game but not the fan’s game. I bet she’s visited every ground in the leagues, focussing on the Vanarama first.



    2. Chris
      With the advent of immensely wealthy foreign owners, and the need to move quickly into the establishment, plus the fact that the press is at it’s most powerful in sport, London especially. I believe the consistently very good press received by Chelsea, was not by accident. They are not alone in this , you need the press onside when your players are facing a serious prison sentence.
      We all know the player serving six years for a pretty moderate offence, so what price those who, at random glassed someone in a nightclub, or assaulted various girls in an hotel room, with his friends? They never touched a twig.

  100. Following further technical problems with my telephone, we’ve been instructed to try a factory reset on the wireless router today – knowing nothing good usually happens from undertaking such drastic measures, I thought I’d first prepare something for the international break just in case the mega ‘turn it off and on again’ suggestion makes matters worse and I also lose internet again.

    So I’ve just finished preparing OFB’s latest in2views article for publication and this week it’s former Boro defender Steve Vickers, who joined the club in 1993 just before Bryan Robson arrived to start the Riverside revolution in which he played a significant part…


  101. Great read as usual Bob. I agree with Steve that 1970 Brazil team is one that has left a lasting impression on me as a young nipper growing up. I only ever saw the game on the telly at the time in Black & White and never saw it since (quite intentionally) but that side was simply magical. I fear that if I watched it again on Youtube or some other medium it would spoil the memory and perhaps alter my perspective being a bit older and more cynical.

    Both interesting and sad that Fulham have dispensed with Jokanovic today and appointing Ranieri in his place. The Ex Fulham boss was coveted by many of us on here (and for good reason) but goes to show the huge gulf between managing in the Championship and the Premiership. It is probably another salutary lesson to us that sticking with TP is likely to be for the longer term benefit of the Club.

    Another point of consideration is the timing of the change at Fulham and contrasting with ourselves. Granted AK was still scrapping and possibly surviving at this stage of our Premiership campaign compared to Fulham and had the January Transfer window been more effective he may have just scrambled over the line but what it does show like Southgate beforehand Agnew was a ridiculous appointment at that level.

    1. RR

      Thanks for that

      Ref Agnew I believe they had someone lined up to replace AK but the club was let down at the last minute

      Such is the fine line between success and failure


        1. RR

          I’m afraid I don’t know, but changing the subject.

          I like Belgium and I’m thinking of going to their Xmas markets.

          I think the Boro like the Xmas markets there too.


    2. Jokanovic/Fulham got it all wrong in the summer in my view, signing far too many new players. Where have we heard that before?

      Still a top manager in my view and won’t be short of offers in the Championship.

  102. Thanks for the Steve Vickers piece, OFB.

    I liked Steve. A solid, dependable and professional guy who you felt gave us everything he had in what was a bit of crazy era.

    I’d be interested to know how he started out at Tranmere having been a north-east lad, and if he ever trialled for Boro in his youth?

      1. OFB a reply to the question one of your bloggers asked.I was playing for Spennymoor United juniors and was asked if I would like to go for a trial at TRFC by Tommy Miller who was doing some scouting for them at the time so I jumped at the chance.
        After the first game I was invited back to train with the first team for a couple of weeks and at the end of that time was offered a two year deal which I gladly accepted , so I packed a couple of suitcases and moved to Merseyside at the age of 17 and never looked back

  103. Steve Vickers – one of my first Boro heroes! Thank you for doing that interview Bob.

    Like Fleming, Mustoe and Higgy, he was never one to call attention to himself in the same way that Juninho, Emerson, Ravanelli or even Barmby were. Yet he remained a solid model of consistency.

    We needed our Mustoes, Higgies and Flemings as much as we needed bigger names – a close knit group of players who could form synergy on the pitch as well as off it. The trouble is, we tried to fly too high, too soon – the class gap between the foreign stars and the squad raised largely on second tier roughage was a bit too much.

    Anyway. Vickers. He was like a lot of defenders in that the right partner really, I mean *really*, enhanced his game. In his case it was Nigel Pearson – Nige’s leadership qualities bringing out the best in SV. Needless to say that neither Derek Whyte nor Phil Whelan (argh!) were quite as, er, inspiring. It was said Whelan made Whyte look like Bobby Moore. (Harsh, but fair?)

    There are regretful memories that linger – like slicing into his own net to trigger a crazy 5-0 win for QPR during the 1997-98 promotion campaign, or being hypnotised by Tino Asprilla on his Toon debut in a game-changing moment for Keegan’s Barcodes. But there are more than enough positive ones to counter this. My personal favourite is from both semi-final legs against Liverpool – him and Nige were never better in my eyes. That, and beating Liverpool over two legs feels like a much greater triumph to celebrate than either Stockport or Chesterfield.

    1. Not too sure about that Jarkko, its as if football is a long greek tragedy which people on the most part pay for the pleasure of their own misery… just when you think it could not get any worse.. type of entertainment.

      Like wrestling – we only watch for the blood!!

    1. I love Bruges and it was the first place I went to abroad

      It was a long time ago with my school and I’ve loved it since

      I also love the Colin Farrell film “In Bruges” but don’t think I’ll get time to go his year perhaps next.


  104. A very interesting story on the BBC’s website ‘The Last Pass’ about Jimmy Seed who was so elated to leave the life of a collier to sign for Sunderland but volunteered to enlist as a soldier in the First World War and his experiences on the Somme. A story of how football played a part for soldiers, but also how football evolved thereafter. Well worth a read for historians.

  105. Werder

    Re your streaming issue at the start of the last match. I am wondering if it could be related to the way in which you access the stream/log in.

    When you go to the website do you go straight to log in and then access the stream via the match centre and video icon?

    My route is not to log in initially but to click the video stream icon/button on the match centre page which then takes me to the next page. This asks if I am already registered and as I am I then click the relevant icon which brings up the log in page at which point I log in and this then brings up the media player which I click onto and this then brings up the stream.

    At 2-30 this is just a screen showing the Riverside Live caption and aerial shots of the Riverside in the background. At 2-45 the pre match stream then starts.

    Not sure if this is the solution to your issue but thought I would share with you. Apologies if you think I am teaching you how to suck eggs! 😉😎

  106. I know Anthony Vickers is only writing about the last 25 years in his article ‘What if?’ However if that was extended to say the last 80 years, then most observers at the time might be of the opinion that if Hitler had not invaded Poland, then Boro might have won the First Division Championship at least once during the Second World War years.

    1. Didn’t we have a decent side in the build up to the First World War and were also possibly robbed of potential glory by the outbreak of hostilities?

      Typical Boro!

  107. Redcar Red
    True, but I wasn’t around to hear comments then, whereas I was surrounded by older colleagues and relatives who remembered the period leading up to the Second World War. Also the second conflict lasted 6 years and I read many accounts afterwards from historians who shared those sentiments that players such as Fenton, Hardwick and Mannion lost almost a third of their careers.

  108. I see the breakaway six reared its ugly head up again,
    And it got me thinking ,what would happen to them if it happened , if the football league revamped itself without them ,made up of four divisions of twenty, banned them from all of our competitions, limited their ability to sign players from our new league.
    Infact isolated them , how long would it be before their product would become boring and insignificant, apart from their own home fans, who would be bothered,
    We would still have a competitive league with big crowds more clubs to talk about ,more competitions to play for,
    Wouldn’t it be great to see the fantastic six , fade away.

    1. They would likely bank on a sixteen team “Euro league” with 6 from England, 2/3 from Spain, 2 from France, 2 from Germany, 2/3 from Italy and then the other countries questioning why England would be making up almost 40% of the League and the infighting would start. Like as not the two Glasgow “Giants” would want a seat at the table and a few “others” from Italy, Germany, Spain and even the Netherlands or Portugal would all be crying foul.

      Despite playing fewer league games they could significantly up their admission prices (all grade “A” games) plus charge Sky/BT etc. extortionate rates and be far better off financially. The novelty would quickly wear off when the cream rises to the top and sits there permanently meaning its gloss as a competition would tarnish. Relegation and promotion via play offs across Europe would be needed to spice it up again at the bottom with the hope that a Huddersfield or Hoffenheim wouldn’t break through the glass ceiling to ruin the party. No doubt the bottom side would be allowed to partake in the Play Offs in a desperate last act to save their skins but just imagine if Huddersfield beat an off colour Real Madrid or Man Utd to take their place!

      A Premier League without Manchelskiarsepool Hotspurs would as it stands mean Norwich, Boro, Leeds, Blades, WBA and Derby filling that gap. Not sure it would still have the same cachet without the greedy beggars but it would certainly be more competitive and unpredictable thats for sure.

    2. PS,

      You could even divide the fourth level into north and south as it used to be, reducing the expenses of those clubs and opening the league to more clubs from each zone with relegation/promotion.



  109. Thank you OFB for your In2View with Steve Vickers, always seemed a decent person. Part of the Mr Gibson / Bryan Robson roller coaster, only he was one of the cheaper possibly better value for money buys.

    We bought big names at the front end and spent little at the other end where we leaked goals like a sinking ship. The drama of it all.

    But to achieve 600 appearances over your career is not too bad, not too bad at all and well done.

    KP, I Log into the MFC website as you do only to fail. Prior to the Wigan game, I had some problems with a caption “turn off your AdBlocker” and did not even know where to look or that i had one. Finally found an anti banner, what ever that is, disabled it and for the first time ever finally got the stream up on my 23 inch desktop.

    My stream started around ten minutes or so before 3.

  110. The Premiership.

    A fundamental point about the product is the competitive nature of the league.

    It has collective rights rather than individual deals. They are fairer than deals I know about elsewhere. The prices are high for matches but they made ab active decision to keep away prices down for away fans. They do not want empty away sections because it reduces the world wide attractiveness of the Premier League on TV.

    Just be careful what you wish for. Do we want to be in the top flight? Do we want to see some of the best players? Do we want play against the top teams@

    If the answer is no that is fine but dont get upset about performances that reduce our chances of joining the gravy train. Lets just bubble along top half of the second tier.

    1. With the top 6 in the Prem rattling sabres and 15 Championship Clubs in dispute with the EFL and Sky along with possible threats of a breakaway Championship league with counter “implications” of no promotion etc. football in this country could be facing the biggest radical shake up or perhaps wake up since the birth of the Premiership.

      Premiership Clubs are getting a reported £100m a year just for competing. The present deal on offer with Championship clubs will be lucky to bring in £3m for providing replacement scheduling for Champions League games that Sky have lost. Heaven knows what the TV payments are for Champions League games but a darned site more than £3m a season I’d wager.

      Championship football is hardly Barcelona versus Juventus admittedly and is a little different to Boro versus Rotherham on a wet Wednesday but the gap isn’t just a gap its a huge chasm for a league that is in the top four or five in Europe in terms of crowd attendances. £3m quid for Boro is not even half a George Saville, do the EFL and Sky seriously expect Boro and the other 14 clubs to be tugging their forelocks for that amount especially when its already shown midweek gates to be down coinciding with the introduction of the Red button with no compensation?

  111. Thanks for the latest chat Bob. In all the interviews I’ve seen with Steve Vickers he has come across as a thouroughly nice fella and a top professional. A career of over 600 games is also a great achievement. And he does still look as fit as a butchers dog!

    Re the “big 6” if they left tomorrow I’d be more interested in washing my bedding which I’m doing.

    1. I think the article frames what most of us on here at least knew and had grasped but it exasperates at the same with time some of the excessive fees overpaid recently. Had that policy of overpaying and under delivery abated then fine but whether it is Rhodes, Gestede, Assombalonga, McNair, Saville and even arguably Dowining to an extent the Club don’t seem to be learning and developing from it. Our recruitment is as poor as it has ever been whether its the de Sarts, de Pena’s, Sola’s or Barragan’s, Guzan’s and Valdes and their ilk.

      Right now the Club should be searching for the Assombalonga’s when he was at Peterborough or the Saville’s when they were sold for £350K the previous season. Until MFC lose the Andy Pipkin immediacy of “I want that one” recruitment technique they will continue to see poor return on Steve Gibson’s investments.

  112. No disrespect to AV or to Exmil for highlighting the article, but unfortuanately it is old news brought out again as the January window looms closer. We are in the top six inspite of Mr Pulis did not get what he wanted in the summer. So will he get what we can afford as a belated Christmas present from Steve to push us on, especially when there will be limited options and the other top six/ eight clubs will be possibly looking also.

    Probably not. We will have to make do with loanees I would guess, as “buys” would be possibly seen as too much of a risk if we do not get to the cash machine of Premier Bank.

    You could say we have already been bitten twice this season alone, with McNair and Saville. They did not come cheap and what TP really wants will be more expensive if you bought them. I am not really expecting too much and I am only hoping to be presently surprised.

    As RR said and taking in to account the difficulties of recruitment, we have really failed and badly over the last number of years. When was the last time we bought from the lower leagues and developed fairly quickly a player that became a Morrison or even a Saville.

    Wing given the chance hopefully and then there is only the Acadamy, with Gibson sold for what we paid for Britt, Fry, possibly Tav and possibly one or two others to follow. Most of our Acadamy youngsters have been developed for lower league clubs for free. I am not aware of even any small fees obtained.

    This must surely be the biggest indictment and failure of MFC?

  113. Internet rumours are linking us with Luke Freeman again. We apparently had a £4m bid turned down in the Summer although how true that figure is and where it came from is anyone’s guess. He scores a goal about every ten games so may get two goals until the end of the season should he come. Of course those two goals may be worth six points but I’m not so sure if he is what we need considering he will be 27 in March but may be a late bloomer or in this case very late.

    Rangers seem to be playing him centrally although he has played out wide left. With Tav and Wing not getting opportunity to see what they can or can’t do I’m not so sure that he isn’t just going to become another bench blocker to their development. He may be seen as a squad replacement for McQueen with Stewy being the LB back up if needed? Can’t say that I have noticed him tearing the Championship apart so I’m not convinced that he is going to add anything and I suspect that Saville was a last minute alternative replacement.

    1. RR
      It bugs me when we are tapped up by some wannby big team to buy their latest surplus player. Can’t we take on board that they are looking for someone(anyone) who will not faint at the price they are asking(that would be us, holding the money we got for our very good player) .
      Please stop, look for your own hidden gems, there are some out there, and the idea is to buy low and sell high, or, of course, enjoy them for a couple of seasons, oops, sorry, you have to play them to enjoy them.

  114. I see Martin Braithwaite rediscovered his shooting boots in Cardiff to help Denmark sink the Sheep-botherers in the UEFA Nations League yesterday evening. Any chance he could carry that form over into Boro’s next league match?

    1. I think Martin scored for Denmark also during the previous international break. And he scored a blank for Boro since then.

      Personally, I think Braithwaite is a very skillful player but somehow his last kick, strike or pass has gone ashtray lately. Like in the last game when he should have scored instead of hitting the side netting.

      I would like to see Assombalonga alongside Hugill next. We need some goals now. Up the Boro!

  115. It’s looking bleak for Theresa May. Paul Gascogne just pitched up at 10 Downing Street with, a can of lager, some chicken, a mobile phone and something to keep warm.

  116. An interesting interview of Gareth Southgate on Sky Sports about his rise from being sacked as Boro manager to his somewhat fortuitous rise to England’s head coach. What impresses me most is how much he is respected by his young players. Who would have thought he would have reached such an elevated position after Boro sacked him with even the press acknowledging what a fine job he is doing? Of course all that can change often on the result of one match. A defeat, or even a draw today against Croatia, can show how fickle the press and fans can be. However for me though I’m proud of him and class him as one of our own despite his being a southerner.

    On another theme it’s 5 years since the appointment of Aitor Karanka as Boro manager, and the Gazette are conducting a poll as to who has been the most influential appointment as Boro manager in the past 50 years. I suppose many will vote for either Jack Charlton or Bryan Robson, but my vote would go for Bruce Rioch, because without him Middlesbrough FC might have had to restart its existence outside the Football League. Also with a meagre 20 players, 9 of whom played in over 40 matches in the 1986/87 season, to gain two successive promotions marks it as a ‘no contest’ in my eyes.

    At last England have won a cricket series on the sub-continent and 38 wickets taken by 4 spinners including Joe Root. I can’t recall England ever using 4 spinners in a Test Series before, although in the 1940’s England often used 3 including a leg spinner even on English wickets. So congratulations to Joe Root is the order of the day.

    Finally, confidence plays a big part in sport, and after his unexpected first win in 4 years last week, I was still somewhat surprised that Lee Westwood has forced himself into contention to win what used to be called the European Order of Merit. Apart from the first and last holes yesterday his tee to green striking was exemplary. A bogeyless round of 65 was superb and he was putting for birdies at almost every hole, two or three which were unlucky not to drop. Of course play started in Dubai very early for English viewers, so as is the norm for me, I have recorded the full 7 hours play today without knowing the result, but am hopeful that Lee can repeat yesterday’s performance today which might well give him his second win in successive weeks. So that’s my Sport taken care of for today, so I will refrain from glancing at the Sports pages for the rest of the day as well as Diasboro.

  117. Part of how successful recruitment is depends on how well a player is absorbed into the team’s “way”. Lots of clubs have signed lots of players that just don’t “fit the mould”.

    It may well have nothing to do with the player’s attitude, or how talented he is. Sometimes he’s just not right for the overall progress of the club, and maybe, just maybe, we need to accept that. And move on.

    On the other hand there will be those who say it is the job of the regime to make it as right as possible even if a player isn’t the perfect fit they were really hoping for. Given time, those with the best attitude can find their way, adjust and become successes. The question is whether or not the team’s trajectory can afford them the time to fit in.

    Steven Defour didn’t have the earth-shattering impact at Burnley that most surely hoped he would, yet they were still successfully integrated into the set-up. I think we need to ask why they were able to do that with him and we weren’t with Ravanelli* and Negredo.

    *Yes, Ravanelli. And perhaps McDonald. They scored a lot (relatively) for a struggling team in transition, but neither left a positive impression. Their moaning is well documented.

    1. SI

      It’s interesting that you include Scott McDonald as I have been conversing with him recently and he is keen to put his time at Boro into words for Diasboro and do amd In2Views for us.

      Let’s see what happens


    2. Simon
      I think the best way to recruit is to seek out young players who fill the eye, and give you the feeling that you want, above all, to get them for your club.
      You will of course grow weary of watching them (without them knowing)
      Just as an added point you should be doing this whilst you are completely happy with your team, then is the time to recruit, not when you are in desperate need.
      (A bit like not going into a supermarket when you are hungry)
      just a silly little point, I hear that Liverpool are looking at Fry.
      Now why does that not surprise any Boro supporter who has ever kicked a ball.?

    3. Simon
      My heart sinks when we start discussing whether a possible buy will fit into our mould.
      I cannot believe that Liverpool will give two boots about Fry fitting in.
      They have spotted a great player, which is good, at the age of 20, even better, if they do not grab him ( cheaply, natch) then another big club will.
      The only losers are us, we think that getting a moderate fee is clever, it is not, we are idiots in the market.
      Are we ready to calmly demand sixty mill, end of discussion, no talking, no add ONs, just pay up, or scarper, and do not forget to offer him around all the giants, they would be delighted to beat Liverpool to a star.

  118. Well, a disappointing finale for Lee Westwood, in a group just one behind the leaders after 14 holes, but finding two bunkers at the 15th, the water at the 16th and a third double bogey at the last having him well down the field sharing 20th place with Rory McIlroy. Nevertheless, congratulations to Sheffield’s Danny Willett for his win considering after winning the US Masters in 2016 he had fallen to 643rd in the World rankings suffering from ill health and then a complete loss of form in restructuring his swing.

    It’s also good to see England’s footballers winning their group in the EUFA Nations League, so not a bad day for the old Country today.

  119. Ken
    After winning the Masters Danny Willet was completely rolled up by his relative who, according to the Press is a fun person,not.
    Insulting famous American players, telling tales which should have remained where they belonged in the locker room. trying to earn a few Bob on the side from his brothers fame, all in the public glare.
    I think that it would have upset any top Golfer, and it certainly upset Willets.
    So it is nice to see him back where he belongs

  120. Well done to Gareth Southgate and England, coming from behind to beat Croatia and reach the Semifinals along with Portugal, Switzerland and probably Holland.

    Teams that didn’t make the semi’s include Belgium, Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Croatia.

    Come on BORO.

  121. Yes, I remember the furore over that. Golf doesn’t always get the accolades I think it deserves unlike tennis, but with the BBC Sports Personality of the year coming up next month surely Francesco Molinari should be a shoe-in for the Overseas Award. Winning the BMW PGA Europe’s flagship event at Wentworth in May, the Open Championship at Carnoustie in July arguably the hardest of links courses, the Quicken Loans National in the USA in June, and then the first golfer to win all his 5 matches in the Ryder Cup, and then today saying modestly that far better golfers than him have never won a Major or the DP World Tour Championship makes him the overwhelming candidate in my opinion.

  122. I must admit the nations league idea seems to be quite sensible. If you are to have breaks for internationals have some meaning fixtures in there. A mix of mini league games with a purpose and some friendlies is ok.

    As far brothers mouthing off in the press, we have sevral examples of that in football with both Anelka and Adomah having voluble siblings.

    What Willets did was undermine his brother so publicly before the Ryder Cup.

  123. OFB,

    I have finally got round to reading your Steve Vickers interview, he sounds an absolutely charming man and a bit of an unsung hero in a team of superstars. There are some lovely comments in there too. Particularly about training in the British, er, climate. Thank you.



    1. John

      Thanks for that

      I see Steve quite often at the Riverside and he is a really good guy who hasn’t aged at all

      He tends to bring his teenage daughter to the games and she loves the Boro.

      He’s a true fan and as a Boro Ambassador doesn’t miss any home games


  124. I would love to see an In2view with Scott McDonald.

    Despite being the top league scorer in the Riverside years – with 37 – he rarely seems to be talked about positively. I collected information from an interesting debate about him on the old blog to try and figure out why.

    RR brought up several points in his favour. McDonald didn’t take penalties. He was top of the list for “strikers who scored most goals coming off the bench” in the Championship. He was played out of position as a winger or wing forward. (Hmm.) He missed a lot, but if there was a lot of slow, predictable, side-to-side passing behind him, and the quality of Boro’s set pieces were poor, what was he supposed to do? He had a good workrate. And all strikers go through quiet spells.

    Yet he still managed 12 in 31 (which isn’t too bad) in his final season and an overall record of roughly one in three for Boro. Which is on par with the celebrated Alen Boksic.

    There were good counter arguments, though – most notably from Boro Phil! BP pointed out that McDonald scored a lot from the WF position. Roughly ten in three months. And that happened after a long spell on the naughty step. The implication was: how can you compare him to Boro’s best strikers if the only time he really turned it on was after Mogga’s kick up the proverbial?

    I think AV drew the best bottom line under the whole debate – whether you liked McDonald or not, the club’s and Mogga’s transfer business was hampered severely by his wage packet. Yes, the wages “weren’t his fault” but that didn’t make the problem go away.

    1. Never cease to be amazed at how you not only recall the detail Simon accurately but have the ability to search for it all and find it. I’ve tried for searching for previous blog posts on Google several times and never been able to find them.

    2. Interesting post, Simon.

      I thought a lot of Strachan’s signings were better individual players than we tend to remember but quality wasn’t the issue really. The real problems were the blend and balance of the side he put together and, crucially, value for money. The whole episode was poorly thought out.

      1. Just been listening to Strachan on sports talk ,and I’m not lying when I say I could hardly understand a thing he said, and I’m serious about it.
        You wonder if players did?

      2. Andy
        The point about Strachan going up to Scotland and filling his boots with players was the rather obvious one.
        Scotland is simply not producing players of the class that they once did, do not ask why, just check the Prem. Once every top club in England had two or three of it’s leading players Scottish, and very good they were.
        Now? Nothing, very few are scots, and certainly no stars.
        So for him to cross the border with the chairman’s wallet and proceed to hire on an industrial scale was doomed from the word go, and so it proved.
        We may laugh, And we do, it was no laughing matter for the fans. Two wasted seasons, not easy to get rid of modest players on good wages, never has been and never will.

        1. I think McManus, Robson, Thomson (when fit) and MacDonald were all decent players on an individual basis. Flood tried his best. Killen wasn’t quite good enough. Boyd was a classic example of what went wrong – an immobile striker in a team with no pace.

  125. Whilst we endure this latest International Bore Fest I noticed something during the week that probably shouldn’t have but did irritate me. Mogga’s Blackburn were playing Rotherham whilst we were putting Wigan to the sword and I couldn’t believe the clash of kits watching the highlights on the telly.

    Now I know you are thinking how on earth could there be a clash, Blackburn play in blue and white halved shirts whilst Rotherham play in Red? Well this season Rovers have gone to a more pastel shade of Blue with their White half whilst Rotherham clearly thought that their Red shirts would somehow clash so wore a horrendous concoction of yellow and the same shade of pale Blue as Rovers.

    What were the Match officials thinking of allowing the game to go ahead or are the Commercial considerations of Rotherham more important. As a Manager I would’ve insisted that the Kit man sorted it even if it meant borrowing Blackburn’s away kit.

    See for yourselves:


    1. Redcar Red

      The worst I saw was a League Cup tie a season or so ago.

      Sheffield Wednesday in traditional blue and white stripes against Arsenal. Clearly Arsenal’s red shirts clashed so played in an away kit, basically a dark and light blue striped number if I recall correctly.

  126. McDonald is interesting as an eye opener into relatively high fees and wages for a club.

    It’s easy to praise players who take wage cuts to stay at a club and slate those who demand high wages. The reality is that no player is morally obliged to care about a club’s finances. Their priority is to get the best deal for themselves.

  127. As the future is uncertain with my being referred to another consultant this week because my kidneys are malfunctioning I thought I’d take this opportunity to continue the postwar history of Middlesbrough FC.

    The 1951/52 season had started brightly with Boro beating Champions Tottenham 2-1 in the first match before a crowd of 44,000 but deteriorated into another fight against relegation until Easter when Boro twice beat Newcastle and Villa in between all in the space of 3 days and with two further wins managed to finish 19th. As I had intimated before Boro didn’t pursue their interest in approaching Bill Shankley to be their new manager, but instead appointed Walter Rowley following David Jack’s resignation.

    The first half of the 1952/53 season had started quite well, and at the half way stage Boro were half way in the league having won 9 and drawn 4 of their 21 matches. But two heavy defeats at Christmas by Spurs 1-7 and 0-4 set the alarm bells ringing. A winless run of 10 matches including away defeats at Preston 0-3, Manchester City 1-5, Bolton 3-5 and West Brom 0-3 and had Boro plummeting down the table. Boro’s away form had been the problem all season, for since winning at Burnley in the first match of the season they failed to win away from home until the last one. However, Boro finished the season with a flourish with four successive home wins – Arsenal 2-0, Newcastle 2-1, Blackpool 5-1 and Manchester United 5-0, then finishing the season with that second away win 4-1 at Portsmouth helping them to finish a comfortable 13th.

    So expectations were high p of at least a mid table finish in the1953/54 season, but unfortunately it was disastrous. Boro were never higher than 18th and spent most of the season in the bottom two positions. There were also some heavy defeats along the way at Charlton 1-8 and 0-5 at Burnley. An unbeaten run of 5 draws followed by 2 wins just before Easter gave some hope despite Boro still languishing in a relegation spot, but already relegated Liverpool twice beat Boro and Boro were relegated with only 10 wins and 30 points for the first time since 1929.

    Life in the Second Division started under a new manager, Bob Dennison in August 1954, and after drawing at Plymouth in the first match, Boro then proceeded to lose the next eight including double defeats against newly promoted Ipswich 0-1 and 1-6, and also against Nottingham Forest 1-4 and 2-4. Of course Boro were rock bottom. Thankfully there wasn’t a restricted transfer window in those days or Boro would probably have been too far behind before January. Dennison immediately saw the problem as a lack of goalscorers; Mannion had seemingly retired and only Delapenha remained, so he bought inside forward Joe Scott from Luton Town and veteran Charlie Wayman from Preston. Wayman had already scored 210 goals for his former clubs and had also the distinction of having scored in every round of the FA Cup for Preston in the previous season, so despite his age of 32 his transfer seemed quite a coup at the time. Anyway Boro won their next two matches, lost the next one at Swansea 0-2, but then won the next three against Notts County 2-0, Derby away 2-1 and West Ham 6-0 when Wayman scored four. Typically though Boro were trounced 0-9 at League leaders Blackburn in their next match, but then beat third placed Fulham 4-2 with two more goals from Wayman. Boro were now on a roll and a crowd of 45,271 turned up for the Boxing Day win over Leeds as Boro won 15 and drew 3 out of 23 matches which included the return of Wilf Mannion who had decided to come out of retirement and sign for Hull City when a crowd of 32,619 turned up for their match at Ayresome Park. Boro had won their previous 9 home matches but lost this one 1-2 to the Humbersiders. However a revenge win over Blackburn 4-3 in March took Boro up to the exalted position of 9th. Unfortunately Boro then lost the two matches against Champions elect Birmingham over Easter and won only once more in their final 7 matches to finish 12th. However three players reached double figures, Scott and Wayman scoring 16 goals each and Delapenha 15.

    The anticipated push for promotion in 1955/56 didn’t materialise, in fact Boro only got into the top ten once and spent the rest of the season hovering around mid table. The most notable occasion was the debut of Brian Clough in a 1-1 draw at Barnsley in mid September and then his first goal at home against. Leicester City where after going behind 0-2, Boro hit a purple patch of scoring 3 times in the six minutes before the interval and went on to win the match 4-3. Boro had an annoying habit of losing away matches, six in succession in mid season three of which were successive trouncings, 2-7 at Bristol Rovers, 0-4 at Plymouth and 0-5 at Notts County, yet later went on a winning away spell of three successive away wins, 4-0 at Barnsley, 5-2 at Stoke and 4-2 at Nottm Forest. Boro finished 14th with Delapenha scoring 17 goals, Wayman 15, Arthur Fitzsimons 14 and Brian Clough 3 in his 9 appearances.

    1956/57 not only saw the emergence of Brian Clough as a phenomenal scorer for Boro, but also the start of a remarkable sequence of results against Liverpool who had brought Boro down with them in 1954. The Merseysiders had finished with 28 points that season, and a meagre 36 the previous season when they had finished 17th meant they were on the wane. They were to spend the next eight seasons in the Second Division until gaining promotion in 1962. They were obviously not the powerhouse they were to become, but nevertheless they along with Boro were always touted for promotion during that period. In the 1954/55 season they had finished one place above Boro on goal average, but they just missed out on promotion in 3rd position in 1955/56.

    The 1956/57 season had started with Boro accumulating a meagre 10 points from their first 11 matches and in mid table, although they had drawn at home to Liverpool. Boro then won 6 and drew one of their next 7 matches elevating them to 3rd. This sequence included a wonderful 4-0 win at Nottm Forest when Clough scored a 🎩. However, despite a 2-1 at Liverpool in February, Boro lost momentum until March when they finished the season with a 9 match unbeaten run which included a 6-2 thrashing of Swansea and a 7-2 win over Huddersfield on Easter Monday where Clough scored another 4 goals. Boro finished the season in 6th position, five points behind Liverpool in 3rd. Brian Clough finished the season with 38 league goals and 2 cup goals.

    1957/58 saw Boro finishing 7th nine points behind 4th placed Liverpool. Boro again drew at home to the Merseysiders and following a 5-2 home win over Ipswich and a creditable 3-3 draw away to second placed Blackburn were sitting in 5th position, but a disastrous losing sequence of five defeats more or less put paid to any promotion ambitions and despite continuing their winning streak at Liverpool 2-0 Boro finished in 7th position nine points behind the Merseysiders who finished 4th. However Clough continued his remarkable scoring record with 40 league goals and 2 Cup goals, whilst Alan Peacock chipped in with 15 and 2 in the Cup.

    The 1958/59 season started with that amazing 9-0 home win over newly promoted Brighton when Clough scored 5 times, Peacock twice and Bill Harris converted 2 penalties. A 1-0 win at Sheffield United two days later and wins over Liverpool (this time at home 2-1) and Rotherham 4-1 away elevated Boro to 4th, but it proved a false dawn despite completing the double over Brighton 6-4 when Clough scored 3 and Peacock 2, also the double over the other promoted team Scunthorpe 6-1 at home with both Clough and Peacock scoring 🎩s, and 3-0 away with another Clough 🎩. A remarkable 24 goals scored against the two promoted teams with Clough netting 14 and Peacock 7. Later in the season Boro won for the the third successive season at Liverpool 2-1 to derail the Merseysiders promotion bid as they once more finished 4th with Boro a poor 13th.

    Boro started the 1959/60 season like a house on fire with a 7-1 win at Derby where strangely Clough didn’t score but Peacock scored 4, and followed this up with successive home wins, 6-2 against Plymouth (Clough 4, Peacock 2) and Hull City 4-0. They then beat Liverpool 2-1 (who now had appointed Bill Shankley as their manager) Boro’s 4th successive win at Anfield. A 3-3 draw at Hull (Peacock 2, Clough 1) was followed by a 3-0 home win over Charlton and another Clough 🎩. Boro were now 2nd with 13 points from 9 matches as Sunderland were Boro’s next visitors – a 1-1 draw before a crowd of 47,297. However Boro were finding it difficult in winning away following the win at Liverpool and went on a run of 5 successive away defeats including a 0-5 drubbing at Leyton Orient. However that away sequence was broken in December with a 5-2 win at Stoke, a 3-6 defeat at Portsmouth, then a 2-0 win at 3rd placed Rotherham on Boxing Day. Two days later Boro beat Rotherham again this time 3-0. Boro’s home form had been outstanding with 11 wins and 4 draws in their 15 matches which included a 3-3 draw with Liverpool when a Bill Harris penalty in the last 7 minutes rescued a point after Boro had been behind 1-3 at the interval. By now Boro were 3rd and the crucial match at home to 2nd place Villa was vital, but Boro lost their unbeaten home record with a 0-1 defeat. Boro somehow scrambled back to 3rd place, but a second home defeat this time 1-2 to Sheffield United on Easter Monday after a succession of 6 winless away games meant another season in the Second Division as Boro finished 5th two points behind 3rd placed Liverpool. Clough scored another 39 goals, Peacock 13 and Harris 11 in Boro’s final total of 90, but 64 had been conceded and this was the precursor of the betting scandal.

    Boro again finished 5th in 1960/61 again with 48 points. This was the season of some high scoring matches when Boro failed to score in only 3 of their league matches, but only managed 9 clean sheets. Their only home win in their first four matches was against Southampton 5-0, but after that they went undefeated at home with 12 wins from the remaining 17. Boro also had a sequence of five successive draws away from home including 4-4 at Leeds, 3-3 at Plymouth and that amazing 6-6 draw at Charlton. That sequence was broken with a 1-6 defeat at Luton, but then followed a 4-3 win against Liverpool where Clough scored a last minute winner, and Boro’s 5th successive win at Anfield. Boro never really threatened to gain promotion despite never being out of the top 7 from January onwards. Despite their long unbeaten home run, Boro finished the season with 5 successive away defeats and again finished two places behind Liverpool. Clough scored 34 league goals and 2 Cup goals in this his last season with Boro, whilst Peacock scored 15.

    Although Boro had beaten Liverpool away five seasons in succession, they had only beaten the Merseysiders once at home with four draws. Boro extended that unbeaten sequence to eleven the following season with a 2-0 home win in October with two own goals, but Liverpool at last beat Boro in February 5-1 and went on to gain promotion as Champions in Shankley’s third season as manager. Whether Boro thought they had gained some sort of revenge in those previous five seasons over Liverpool for dragging Boro down with them in 1954 is debatable, because the Merseysiders always finished above Boro. Strangely though Boro have only ever won at Anfield once more in the league in 25 encounters in the top tier since, although Boro did enjoy a sequence of 6 wins, 5 draws and only 2 defeats in league meetings at the Riverside until the 0-3 defeat in our relegation season two seasons ago.

    Boro finished 12th in 1961/62 but were rarely outside the bottom four from mid November until late February when losiing that Liverpool match 1-5. They did finish with some sort of flourish though with 8 wins and only 4 defeats in the last 13 matches which secured safety fairly easily at the end. Having beaten Newcastle 4-3 at St James Park with a Bill Harris 🎩, they went on to beat the Magpies 3-0 in early March with Bryan Orritt scoring a rare brace. Peacock finished the season as top scorer with 24 league goals, 4 more in the FA Cup and another 4 in the League Cup, whilst Bill Harris chipped in with 14 league goals.

    1962/63 was Bob Dennison’s final season as Boro finished a creditable 4th only 4 points behind Champions Stoke City and 3 behind Chelsea and Sunderland although Boro were never as high as that until the last match. It was the season of the big freeze so League Tables were difficult to digest. Boro started with a defeat at Sunderland, beat Newcastle 4-2 in midweek, then lost 0-5 at home to Huddersfield on the Saturday and 1-6 at Newcastle on the following Wednesday. They followed that with 4 away wins out of 5 including a 4-3 win at Grimsby and a 3-2 win at Leeds. In November they suffered a 0-6 defeat at Southampton, but December brought away wins 4-3 at Charlton and 4-3 at Norwich on the 29th of the month. No matches were played in January although Boro won another high scoring match in February 5-4 at Plymouth. The 3rd Round FA Cup match away to First Division Blackburn scheduled for the 5th January was not played until the 5th March and ended in a 1-1 draw, Boro winning the replay 3-1 six days later before a crowd of 39,595. Five days later Boro lost 0-2 at home to Leeds in the 4th Round before another large crowd of 39,672 on a date originally intended for the 6th Round. As the thaw set in Boro played a total of 8 matches in March which included a 3-4 defeat at Luton, another 7 matches in April and 5 more in May. Boro went undefeated in their last 9 matches including 6 wins culminating in 6-2 home win over Norwich on the 21st May following a tremendous thunderstorm where I was one of the few braving the elements in a crowd of only 7,626. This result at last gave Boro a positive goal difference 86 for and 85 against.

    Horatio ‘Raich’ Carter became the new manager in the following season and made his home in Redcar. More about him later if my health allows.

    1. Ken

      We are all family on this blog and we are right with you.

      Keep going and stay strong take it a day at a time and look forward to reading all the posts coming in on the best blog in the world



    2. Ken
      Interesting that every new dawn ended, not with a whimper, but with an almighty crash, six or seven consecutive defeats.
      Studied in depth, it certainly points to the fact that the players did what they wanted, and certainly points inexorably to the eventual scandal of the betting affair.
      As a fan I noticed a few incidents which gave one pause for thought.
      I shall only mention one during the time of Brian Clough, at home to a club which really was a third division club spending a season in the second division. Not much of a defence, and no attack, so an easy home win. Er, not quite, first a defensive blunder left their forward alone with the ball on the edge of our box, he slipped and made a mess of it.
      It happened again, same mistake same situation, player with an open goal, he made another mess of it.
      Then, late on, Clough blasted one into the roof of the net from well out, to settle things. No wonder he was unpopular with the other players.

  128. Fairly rare post from me at the moment but wishing you all the very best Ken and looking forward to you plugging the gaps in my knowledge in the future.

    Simon, just following on from your posts on Scott McDonald, i heard, rightly or wrongly, that he was on a 10k goal bonus. No doubt we would all take that if offered but never understood why a club would buy a striker and then effectively give him a bonus for doing what he was recruited for in the first place. I recall him going mad at Ish one time when he tapped in one of his shots so that seems to have some truth in it. And also explains some low percentage shots that he took so not a team player for me but a fine example of modern day football.

  129. Been travelling for business a lot recently. I hope you don’t mind the following story (as it’s not Boro related).

    I visited the Northern part of Finland, where we have a long border with Sweden. I discussed with a chap whose father was selling cars there already in the 1960’s and 70’s.

    As a Peugeot dealer, he went to France to pick-up a Peugeot. and he drove it all the way back to Finland in the early 1970’s.

    There has not been any border control between the Scandinavian – or the Nordics as we prefer to say – countries for as long as anybody can remember.

    As he had crossed only the border over to Sweden before, this chap did not know he needed to stop on the border between France and Germany. They shot his car as he did not stop for the border control. And there was a hole made by the bullet when he returned to Finland. It even made a story to the local news paper!

    So our experience of border control is very different in Europe. Here, nobody is old enough to remember border control to the West. Of course we had over 1 000 km (well over 600 miles) of border to the Soviet Union which was closed for their domestic problems. Now I tend to wonder why I must drop the speed down to 50 km/h (30 mph) when crossing the Estonian to Latvian border, for example.

    In Tornio and Haparanda between Finland and Sweden the border is in the middle of these two towns. The border is in a round-about or behind a petrol station – so technically the border is difficult to close anymore quickly.

    This reminds me about the Brexit. We mostly see only positives from the EU even we pay more than we receive from the Union. There has never been such a long peaceful situation and the Economy is prospering in Europe.

    I like most in Europe (wait a minute, the UK is essential part of Europe) see the Brexit more as a domestic problem in the UK politics. It started as an internal Tory problem and remains very much a Tory and National problem. I still wish there won’t be a Brexit and the UK won’t become a mini Russia “outside” the Europe.

    Up the Boro!

  130. Thanks to all those who have sent messages of good wishes on this forum. As you probably know I live alone since my wife died, but it’s a great comfort to know that friends who I’ve never met show their concern. Tomorrow is the day of my consultation at James Cook, and a step of trepidation for me as I walk into the unknown.

    On a lighter note, the Gazette seems to have come alive with interesting stories this week to fill in the international break, but perhaps I might add another in the form of a question. That being is there any merit in a draw in sport anymore? As far as I’m aware the USA don’t like inconclusive results and adopt ‘overtime’ in all their major sports such as Baseball, Basketball and American Football. The Australians too use extra time to determine winners in Rugby League, and now Super League is to follow the same route in Britain. Given that only 4 matches in Super League finished all square last season the possibility of an extra 10 minutes to determine a winner does seem extreme. Knock out tournaments are a different kettle of fish as they add excitement in Rugby League, but football has almost abandoned extra time in knockout competitions in favour of penalty shoot outs. Fair enough, but what about the run of the mill league matches? Has the introduction of 3 points for a win in football been a success? To some extent it probably has as everyone loves a winner, but has the devaluation of a draw gone far enough? We hear the expression ‘a hard earned point’ many times, but still abhor away teams ‘parking the bus’. Is their an alternative method for rewarding wins? Extra points for goals scored maybe, or no points awarded for goalless draws perhaps? I have no answer for that conundrum, but with no actual football to report on for the rest of the week, I’d like to hear the views of fellow bloggers on this forum.

    1. It’s a very good point, Ken.

      The footballing authorities for years have tried to make the game more exciting by introducing new laws such as the backpass rule, or adapting existing laws such as the offisde law or the tolerance of certain tackles/challenges, but perhaps the greatest influcence they could have have would be to abandon draws.

    2. I’ve been in touch today again with Scott and we’re working through the Interview

      Interesting that Scott feels that his attitude and rapport with the fans was not presented in the best light by the local media who he had issues with.

      The fact that Scott is keen to put his point of view now is in his favour and there are always two sides to an argument

      For my part I loved his goals and the team missed him when he didn’t play


      I’ve asked him about the naughty step !


      1. I will look forward to this In2view Bob perhaps more than any other.

        I always felt that there was a back story to the shenanigans at the time and that I was probably in the minority in feeling that Scott was being squeezed out of the club by colluding parties for non footballing reasons. His subsequent departure from Millwall however did cast some doubt on my hitherto supportive stance.

        My big question Bob would be to ask what really went on from that January 2013 implosion until the end of the season when we went from promotion contenders to no hopers? That terrible form continued even after Scott’s departure in the Summer up until the car crash that was Oakwell and Mogga’s demise.

  131. I see that the EFL signed the deal with Sky yesterday that effectively cements EFL teams fate when it comes to earning a fair financial reward for their media endeavours. The new deal is worth £119m per season an increase of £31m on the existing one but the likes of Villa, Leeds, Boro and a few others aren’t impressed. It does seem absurd that a place on the Premiership screen is worth a minimum of £100m yet the best a Championship side will earn is just under £3m.

    The Championship is the third biggest League in European Football ranked by attendances, Behind only the Premiership and Bundesliga, bigger than La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1. Put in that context those Championship Clubs have a very valid argument and perhaps an even stronger one to break away and handle their own affairs. It will no doubt lead to threats and counter threats and the EFL will be throwing Big Ted and Little Ted out of their Preston Pram threatening all sorts of naughty step sanctions against the 15 “Chexiteers”.

    If the 15 do hold out and do their own thing then the value of the existing Sky deal becomes very diminished, worse however would befall the EFL who would then be left with leagues that are not worth much as a spectacle despite League One being the ninth biggest League in Europe. The EFL could have done the footballing equivalent of a Gerald Ratner. The worse fate for those 15 Clubs is that they are black listed and banned from European competition and domestic cups but more likely I suspect is that the FA may see an opportunity to grow and befriend them.

    A Premiership 2 could be on the cards which could mean that a few other Clubs like Sunderland or Portsmouth or even a Coventry may be keen to take a leap of faith and jump ship from the EFL. An 18 team League could function and survive very well and indeed prosper significantly in striking a TV deal on their own. Its more likely to be a 20 club league and if the threat of no domestic cups is followed through then maybe 22 clubs as at present but with less midweek games. It is of course also very likely that one or two currently with bottom splinters may decide which side their Bread is best buttered on and stick with the 15.

    An interesting conundrum could result in the opportunity to create a smaller existing Premiership to reduce congestion. Allowing for a wider spread of TV scheduled fixtures and perhaps easing concerns from those playing in European competitions which will no doubt cause some angst amongst the existing bottom feeders.

    So who are the 15 “Chexiteers”? my guess is below but no doubt there will be one or two surprise abstentions:

    Sheffield Weds
    Sheffield Utd

    The above list is purely my speculation of course but I’m guessing that they are mostly accurate. That leaves Wigan, Preston, Bristol City, QPR, Reading, Rotherham, Brentford, Ipswich and Millwall as the 9 “Remainers.” I think Preston are too close to the EFL to do anything other than keep their hands clean. Bristol City’s Mark Ashton is on the EFL Board and was one of the members who voted unanimously to agree to the new deal saying it was in League’s “overall best interests”. I suspect that a few of those 9 would wobble and jump ship should the 15 flex their muscles and engage a legal team to effect the biggest shake up since the Premiership broke away from the Football League in 1992.

    1. I don’t know how marketable the Championship is on the wider stage but to put the £3m into perspective, it’s equivalent to 20,000 live stream season subscriptions at £150. The question is how much TV companies are prepared to pay for Championship games and how bothered are the neutrals on paying to watch games not involving their own clubs. The fact that Quest TV currently have the rights probably answers the question – plus I’ve yet to watch a single highlights show this season myself.

      1. Werder
        All your reasons for being satisfied with what is offered, ring very true, but they rang just as true when the prem. was offered fifty mill for their rights, and we all agreed.
        Enter a deadly negotiator, a lot of angry words from the television people, and a lot of tears.
        Now they get five billion.
        It is a question of content to the t.v. people. At the moment they are stuffing their channels with any obscure sport that they can think of, canoeing, log rolling, hiking,
        Makrami, have they got playing the spoons yet?, it will come.
        Cut to the present, they think that they have pulled a fast one, get some fool to do the deal without asking the owners of the product, make it a long deal, knowing that they will not get another deal, ever.
        They will fill their screens with the championship, three times a week, plenty of red button action, plenty of action about training ground activity, transfer action, plenty of uncertainty about the results (now there’s a rarity).
        We have not covered cupties yet, be assured that the fool who spoke for them will have thrown them in for free, natch.
        And for this they get three mill a season, that is the little finger of a classy player.
        And let’s not forget the 6-7 seasons length of the contract.
        Note that there was no other broadcaster involved in this shabby deal.
        The product was of sufficient interest and value to at least have an auction, and the offer is so low that it is worth turning down.

      2. I think “marketable” is the key word here!

        At the moment the EFL do not do a great job on marketing or indeed even believing in their prize asset. Leeds versus Villa would almost certainly attract far more viewers than Huddersfield versus Burnley (probably double). The Play Offs already attract huge audiences but the Clubs themselves need to market themselves far more including our very own MFC. How they can do that is the clever bit!

        The most likely success would be in creating a Premiership 2 which would piggy back the phenomenal work that the FA (either because of or in spite of?) have already achieved plus it gives the FA a new toy to grow. Only the bottom Premiership club would get relegated to be replaced by the Champions of Prem 2. Slightly less teams in both leagues could then create the room for a mini end of season play off tournament with the next bottom three in the Premiership fighting to survive against the top three of Prem 2. it may mean that only one club gets promoted or relegated or indeed it could mean four go up and four go down. It would certainly put a bit of spice into things, not remotely upset the big 6 and create a cleansing effect for those annoying pointless, perennial, Premiership cling ons.

        At present the Championship is marketed like a musty old suit on the returns rail of a jaded gentleman’s outfitters in Billericay and that is exactly the reason it has ended up on Quest. Championship Football is competitive and less predictable than the “established leagues” in Europe. The Premiership and the Bundesliga attract around 13 to 14 million in attendances each season, the Championship around 10 to 11 million, that has seriously untapped value.

        Just taking Boro, we had Randolph, McNair, Saville, Besic, Braithwaite, Assombalonga all on International duty as well as Mahmutovic plus Fry, Tavernier, Walker and Wood away with the England under 21’s and under 19’s sides. Other sides at this level also have Internationals within their ranks. Somebody somewhere is missing a trick and to me a concerted effort with joined up thinking wouldn’t take a genius to turn this into a cash cow.

        Super Sunday could start with a Prem 2 game, followed immediately by a Prem 1 match and then another Prem 2 game sandwiched in between another Prem 1 game offering fans six solid hours of Football plus throw in another 30 minutes between games to allow for injury time and a bit of analysis and its wall to wall entertainment. It would also bring the current Championship to a much wider and up until now a largely unappreciative Global audience. The caveat of course is that Boro v. Stoke should have an X certificate.

        The MLS has an average gate now nudging towards 20,000 per match. Considering that its not even the third most popular sport in the US with zero “soccer” heritage is all down to clever marketing, hype and of course money.

  132. I’ve been full-on with a project during the international break but hope to finish it today and then write an article tomorrow to post up later on Wednesday.

    Firstly, I’d like to wish Ken good luck with consultation tomorrow and a quick thanks for another historic look back at Boro and it must have been quite amazing to see all those goals flying in (in both directions) – it’s certainly quite a change from what we’re used to at the moment. Also good to see the post-Christmas slump was alive and well back in the 1950s. I’ll put it on my to-do list to copy across some of your recent posts to your Boro History section.

    Also, thanks to OFB for his Steve Vickers In2views piece and it was good to see that he managed 9 seasons at Boro during a time when the club were bringing in all those big names under Robson – plus Steve comes across as a genuine good guy and still flying the Boro flag. The Scott McDonald piece sounds like it will be an interesting read – so looking forward to that.

    OK, back to the day job – well one of them at least!

  133. Taking time out to post some extracts from the Gazette (now Teesside Live) from 2013, on Scott McDonald. Paraphrased if necessary.


    “I’m going to be controversial here: the player that has disappointed me the most is Scott McDonald.

    “I know… people say he’s top scorer, he works hard, and so on. That’s all true… But this is a guy who a huge chunk of our finances are tied up to… he’s probably one of the top paid players in this division.

    “That’s not his fault, of course, but it’s about expectation. And being the top paid player, on that kind of money, in this league, he has to be ripping it up every single week.

    “We have this argument after every game – he’s the best player, he worked hard. Yes he did… but he also missed three sitters and that’s the difference. In games like Birmingham we dominated but he missed three sitters. And one was from about four yards out.

    “People say he’s isolated out on the wing. But he’s not isolated when he is eight yards out with the ball at his feet and he blazes it over the bar.

    “And almost every time he goes one-on-one with the keeper he doesn’t hit the target and I find that really frustrating. I can imagine the frustration of the powers that be because this is a huge chunk of what we know is a very limited budget.

    “He was on the naughty step for ten weeks at the start of the season, then came back and was fantastic for six or eight weeks. A team player with purpose, and that’s what we should expect.

    “I think it’s only right to expect him to do it every week but it gradually slipped back again over the course of the season. That’s why he disappointed me, because we know he can do it.

    “He spent too much time towards the end of the season berating his team mates. We were a few wins away from the play-offs, and I can name five or six games we should have won but for golden opportunities squandered in the box. And most of them were from Scott McDonald.”


    “(I want to) defend McDonald and say: as a striker, if I miss five chances, I’ve missed them (but) I might get five more next time.

    “(And) if the guy I’m playing alongside me isn’t getting any, I’m still having a more productive game than he is.

    “As long as he’s getting chances, some are eventually going to go in.”

    1. Si

      AV didn’t like Scott and was very critical

      Scott knows this and didn’t like the comments from AV and took it very personal

      This is evident during our current discussions


  134. Smoggy ITH

    Thank you, I remember that goal well! It was the 2nd in an enjoyable 3-1 home win over the Owls which took us top on a Friday night. Hoyte and Juke got the others.

    I remember reading Eddie Howe saying that his players had no goal bonuses in their contracts. Which explains a lot…

  135. Has anyone noticed that MFC are doing a q&a with their Boro team?

    The next one is with Adam Clayton.

    I wonder if they think they have some competition from us all at Diasboro?


    1. I’m sure there will be some really deep controversial questions being fired at the Players such as:

      Why did you want to join the Boro?

      Why do you love playing for the Boro?

      What is your favourite meal apart from a Parmo?

      Who is your best Friend at Boro?

      What do you enjoy most about Training?

      What do you enjoy least about Training?

      There is a bit of a problem when an organisation tries to control, sanitise or at least monopolise everything that comes out about it. Conform and fall in line or else seems to be working for them this season compared to last season, ironically to their own long term detriment and of course one or two journalists.

      1. RR

        Talking about journalists I’ve been working with Eric Paylor this week for his Interview with Diasboro

        He looks very fit and well and looking forward to what he has to say

  136. Maybe Ken might know,and that is how we became known as “The Boro”.
    We were once The Ironsiders, from what seems obvious ,our relationship with Iron and steel.
    In the deep south of the US the spelling Boro is common in many towns ,I’ve driven I.75 were I noticed a town of Middlesboro Kentucky, Darlington S Carolina has a famous racetrack, and I was wondering if there was a religious connection, I know Quakers were some of the first settlers..
    The Irish became prominent in certain areas ,and were very influencial in the trade union movement.
    Its been said and Im not sure but in the past between wars etc,certain companies on teesside gave preference to people of some religions,
    I guess I’m a little off track but the term and spelling Boro ,that got me thinking?

  137. Ken

    Good luck for your upcoming appointment and hopefully you’ll be the Diasboro statto for a good while yet.

    A belated well done to England on their win over Croatia on Sunday. Never got to see it as I was working but all that I’ve read implies the disconnect between international players and some supporters, me included, appears to have to be slacking off some what.

    I’m sure some of that is down to the players themselves but I feel that the main reason is the manager GS. Now the cynic in me feels there is a way to go yet but at least everyone involved seems to be pulling on the shirt and giving their all. Maybe with the exception of Delli Ali given his efforts in Russia. Though to be fair I haven’t seen him play since so he could be pulling up trees and turning in motm performances for all I know.

    Southgate may have gotten the job by default but he’s certainly, imo, going about it in the right way. Like Mogga I think he might have been the right man but at the wrong time at the Boro. Whereas Strachen was the wrong man at any time!

  138. Borobrie –

    I’ve got two posts waiting for approval as a new poster under your real name – it’s because you accidentally spelled your email address incorrectly (two ‘i’s in your first name). Just sign in again to revert back to Borobrie as I can’t change it at this end.

    1. Werder
      I have logged out then logged back in hope this is right.

      In reply to gt –

      I believe Scarborough has the Boro in the middle of their name and they say they are the true Boro, were as we have brough At the end of Middlesbrough.

  139. I might be nostalgic and a bit old fashioned here, but long term the Premier League must be competitive and sporting. Otherwise the pubble will burst one day and the TV audience will vanish. What then?

    As a payer – it is my money the TV companies are using – I think relegation and very competitive league is a must. Not like ice hockey in Finland and the USA where it is not possible to get relagated nor new teams appearing through promotion. No chance of miracles and new audience from new locations.

    The same goes for “price” money. The current climate is not sustainable long term. The big clubs and their players become rich, yes. But will that make the football better now? Or is the English National team better because of the money spent in general?

    I am worried that there won’t ever be a Leicester team that wins the league again. Dividing the TV money should be more equal than now. The whole football family must be happy and developing. If the elite gets a lot of money only, where is the future of football in general in the UK?

    The Champions League is also heading to a blind alley soon if you only see the same teams from season to season. Also there should be real Champions and not only the rich few. Otherwise it will become predictable and boring. The old same.

    As there is lot of money around football, it should go to all clubs and grass roots. Not to the pockets a few players and their agents only. What is the point of paying say £ 300 000 a week to the players? Do they become better that way than Souness or Juninho were?

    If I had the power, I would put all the TV money in one pot and devide it like this. I would give 50 % to PL clubs, 25 % to the Championship clubs, 25 % to League One and Two. And the rest – 25 % – to grass root football.

    At the moment the gab between the Championship and the Premier League is unreal. Who has even thought the new system could work? Minimum for a PL club is £ 100 million, and the Champioship clubs get £ 3 million each. And they are completing to sign the same players!

    Imagine a young Souness now. Would he come to Boro to play first team football or would he rotten in the Tottenham reserves (actually there is no reserve team football any more) but getting better paid that a first team player at Boro?

    One day the bubble will bust if nothing is done to bridge the differences between each league level. The product must be in good order – it is a port after all. We as fans and TV audience expect it to be sport. If it would be just “actors” and prima donnas with a football in the background, it will become boring and too predictable one day.

    I would imagine that the betting companies would object the current infrastucture in football, for example.

    I demand more equility as a TV money payer. Up the Boro!

  140. Or dear, my percentages went wrong above as it become 125 % in total. But I think you got my message. The next level need to get 50 % of the money compared to the level above it. Not like 3 % now in the Championship (3 million vs. 100 million in the future).

    I feel better by writing the above post, though. I would I magine that the Man Utd and Chelsea fans would see the logic in there, too. But the owners will object it. We should get rid of foreign owners and their money and made it really fair and equal.

    There is a long way to go for the UEFA and FA. Financical Fair Play rules are not complete and they must be made better. But first the TV money must be distributed correctly.

    Up the Boro!

    1. Its getting close to the time when the Premiership will consist of eight teams, the big six and two that can be nominally relegated and promoted. The Champions League will also consist of eight teams who will automatically qualify and compete each year with nobody else allowed in their Exclusive VIP Competition for fear that it may contaminate the gene pool.

      UEFA, FIFA the FA and EFL are not intelligent enough to realise it just yet but what they are creating is the sporting equivalent of giving Usain Bolt a 50 metre start or Mo Farrah a 3,000 metre start and wondering why nobody else is winning. Very soon the entertainment will be gone, overtaken by the boring predictability of it all. Whats the point in competing when your competitor has a massive advantage to the point where its unassailable?

      I notice that MFC have said that they will not press for a “Nuclear reaction” to the EFL deal by pushing for a Breakaway League which is probably as much about keeping on the right side of contractual legality and possible retribution such as a points deduction as it is about how they really feel. Achieving an Automatic or Play Off place would provide the EFL with the perfect “deterrent” to any insurgence. It doesn’t however prevent a gunpowder plot being planned and executed at a later date after taking the correct advice. There is also the possibility that three or four Clubs with perhaps less to lose may act unilaterally which would affect the whole Championship by default and in doing so pulling others into the conflict.

      I’m wondering if the EFL have the same advisors as David Cameron?

      1. I don’t think DC had advisers to listen to, he just followed his finely honed political instinct borne out of years of invaluable experience in the boys cloakrooms at Eton and from the mouth of a pig in the Bullingdon club

  141. AV’s, and Bernie’s, views on Scott McDonald reminded me of the polarising views of attacking players during AK’s reign. I think they went something like this…

    Opinion 1: We’d have won, you know, if only the player had taken that chance…

    Opinion 2: …but the few chances we actually created for him left little margin for error when things went wrong.

  142. RR

    I’m sure the footballing authorities you mention do realise what they have done and continue to do so in keeping the “big” clubs ahead of the also rans.

    Boro, Stoke, Burnley, Huddersfield et al, they couldn’t care less.

    1. Imagine the disillusionment and despair if Huddersfield won the Premiership and then beat Barca in the Champions League Final the following season. The Footballing world as we know it would end!

      1. RR
        The strange thing is, it would be the end of the world for the machine that has taken over football, it is run by and for London, yes yes, I know the Liverpool and Manchester exist, and are very annoying, but they are working on it. With a bit of luck United could slip away (they are showing the signs)
        Liverpool were slowly sinking until recently.
        They have managed to get up to 7-8 clubs around London into the Prem. A few serious loans did the trick for a couple, and there is still Brentford, and others.
        That’s a lot of away fixtures done away with.

  143. Addendum.

    It’s quite possible AV was viewing McDonald through the prism of… really… a typical forward-thinking footballer. A typical “moody” attacking player, with an “attitude”. (They’re common.)

    I could be wrong, of course, but perhaps he’s implying that while McDonald’s service may not have been the greatest, it is also the most highly-paid player’s duty to adapt and make the most of his surroundings. In other words, don’t finger point at others for your shortcomings. Look within, not just without. Be humble. And respect that your manager has a hard enough job to do.

    His return from the naughty step and the good run of form that followed is also, I have read, typical for most footballers who find that the team need them after all. They then spend a period of time doing absolutely everything to show how good they are – only to get no congratulations or applause for their accomplishments. Because being professional and doing a good job are the very least that’s expected of a footballer. Especially one on such high wages.

    1. The Mogga/Scotty “thing” started at Celtic. Mowbray wasn’t enamoured with him then for whatever reason but the Aussie kept scoring goals when he got a game. I think Mowbray preferred a big 6ft Striker (Marc Antoine Fortune) and Scott just didn’t fit that blueprint. This was the Mogga who had just left WBA and acknowledged as a great up and coming manager and likely trying to instill into Celtic the Mogga way. There was a slight problem in that the old Celtic way wasn’t exactly broken which would later be Mogga’s undoing.

      There was clearly a difference in Mogga’s management style compared to Strachan’s. McDonald clicked with Strachan and that same chemistry just didn’t exist between Mogga and him. No surprise then when Strachan made an offer to rejoin him at Boro with wages that were like as not far better than he was earning in Glasgow that he leapt at the chance. Fate inevitably dealt McDonald a cruel blow as Mogga was failing badly at Parkhead and eventually rolled up at the Riverside. My guess is that both parties knew from the off then that it wasn’t a match made in heaven. As before Mogga’s preferred tactics required an entirely different role to the one which he normally played. Too short to be the main striker but annoyingly still scored goals.

      Whether that role change out on the left side of midfield or the wing was purely tactical on the pitch for footballing reasons or tactical off the pitch for financial reasons who knows but with the unease between the two going back some time it wasn’t going to end well. Dropped, naughty stepped or just plain frozen out we weren’t winning games in the New Year and when he came back McDonald done what he had done in Scotland and scored more goals.

      His wages at the time were clearly a problem for the club but in my opinion he was our best opportunity then to get back to the Premiership but after that infamous New Year Mogga repeated what he had done at Celtic and drove players up the wall with tactics that were alien to many. It was clear that they weren’t buying into things and no doubt there will have been one or two snipers in the ranks with huge wooden spoons.

      Maybe as the “PR” at the time seemed to infer that it was all McDonalds fault (which I very much doubt) but when reintroduced to the team he scored goals. Yes he missed sitters but he also scored plenty as well. If as rumored he had a generous cash pay out every time he did score then that alone could have been the reason for him being dropped as the club was on the bones of its backside. As with Mendieta (allegedly) beforehand payments sometimes came before a “management fall out” at MFC.

      SG made that announcement about leaving no stone unturned and a full investigation into what went wrong during the summer of 2013 but we never did find out what happened or what was discovered and done. Clearly it wasn’t effective as Mogga started the new season with the same spade and his frantic shovelling eventually bottomed out at Oakwell in October. Maybe SG did know what the problem was all along and his solution (AK) was maybe not available in August or more likely he wanted to give Mogga (whose birthday it is tomorrow) the chance his history with the club had rightfully earned him.

      We missed out on a Striker that should have been prolific at this level and a Manager who has since recovered his mojo. The result was that both parties and the club suffered with no winners. Mogga did at least leave a legacy that even today still provides regular starters in the side including the Club Captain. It was bad timing for both parties and a marriage that was never ever going to work out.

      1. Redcar Red

        There was some issue at Celtic above and beyond McDonald.

        Mogga took over at serial title winners and restore Rangers fortunes.

        Stricken jockified Boro with some of his former players from Celtic. The vast majority were unloved, injured or side lined north of the border.

        Mogga turned the Boro around as players became fit, by the time he had removed the jocks from the team we imploded.

  144. Like that RR, very much. Makes complete sense. Thank you for posting it.

    I think I was convinced that for all the undeniable issues you raised, the wages were paramount as they were hindering Mogga’s recruitment.

    Money and finances are what seem to be the judge of a footballing figure’s progress more than any amount of statistics or service. Even assuming that AK didn’t warm to the two big buys of 2015-16 – Downing and Rhodes – it was still his duty to make the most of the resources he was given for the good of the club.

    That’s one thing I learned from McDonald and AK. Even if the money “isn’t their fault” it will remain part of the problem if the team or player is seen to be not pulling their weight or underachieving.

    1. SI

      I recall reading that Gareth Southgate has since apologised to Gaizka Mendieta on how he treated him during his time as Manager. He openly admitted that he was inexperienced at the time, handling the situation badly and that looking back with the benefit of years of experience in management would and should have handled it totally differently.

      Mendieta had been openly been critical of Southgate’s management and even accused him of dishonesty and mistreatment at one point. Apparently his wages at the time were in part a deciding factor and the club were hoping that he would move on but the Spaniard had settled very well on Teesside and became an adopted Smoggie.

  145. Indeed, Mendi had settled in the area very well.

    I have deep regret over how we handled contracts at the time, RR. I read that Mendi joined Parlour*, Maccarone, Riggott and more as many of the generously paid who kept clocking in but never appearing in the team as the club tried to sell them behind the scenes.

    The price of the Road To Eindhoven, a taste of near success, was a £12 million loss, empty stomach and the sense of an overpaid team past its sell-by-date. The pain I felt that night was far, far greater than that over Wembley in 2015 – at least in the case of the latter, a still inexperienced (in top tier terms) team had that extra bit of savvy, character and motivation to put it right the following year.

    In 2015, we could take consolation by at least having a more experienced spine to carry forward. One that would not concede a goal for nine games at the end of the year. Nine.

    In 2006… what did we have?

    *Not that calling the boss Big Nose helps, mind.

  146. Just a quick update during this quiet 🤫 period

    I’ve been following up some leads that I made during the recent MFC ex players event.

    These include

    Ron Bone the Boro recently retired chief scout who I’m hopeful will talk about the many players he scouted for the Boro

    Steve Baker who made his mark on Steve McManaman away at Anfield and unfortunately had to retire early at the age of 28 and has forged a new career in Teesside as an Eng Planning Eng

    I also had a long chat with Curtis Fleming and have been in contact with him and hopefully he will be allowed to talk to Diasboro (unless he’s on the Gazette list !)

    Mark Summerbell was also on the list and I’m waiting back from him.

    Good job I haven’t got a day job any more !

    I’m just hoping some of them come to fruition….


  147. Well Boro resume their Championship campaign after an international break that was punctuated with stories of deals, factions, breakaways and financial demands. Will Tony Pulis be able to negotiate his team out of the Championship and will they prove to be the real deal when it comes to promotion? Here’s my take in this week’s discussion blog…


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