Joy and relief after Boro return to winning ways

Championship 2019-20: Weeks 22-23

Sun  5 Jan – 14:01: Boro v Spurs (FA Cup)
Sat 11 Jan – 15:00: Boro v Derby
Tue 14 Jan – 20:05: Spurs v Boro (FA Cup Replay)

Werdermouth looks ahead to Boro continuing their good form…

Nothing probably epitomised the change in fortune of Boro’s season than the sight of Rudy Gestede’s face after scoring his first goal in a Boro shirt for nearly two years – plus the joy of his team-mates who must have known what it meant to him. Indeed, Dael Fry almost looked quite emotional as they celebrated, with Ashley Fletcher also having something of a proud look on his face and the effervescent Marcus Tavernier simply ecstatic with joy for the big Benin striker, whose time at the club has been blighted by injuries and failure. Clearly the team spirit amongst the players is evident and that is an important ingredient for any team hoping to achieve something.

Another factor in Boro’s revival is that Jonathan Woodgate and his coaching team appear to be starting to get the best out of what players they have at their disposal in a limited strength squad. Whether it be young players suddenly finding themselves in the first team picture in Djed Spence, Hayden Coulson or Aynsley Pears, those who have lacked form and confidence like Ashley Fletcher or George Saville and even the older players who had lost their places such as Adam Clayton and now Rudy Gestede. Perhaps Woodgate has been underestimated as a man-manager and it’s clear that the players are prepared to give him their all on the pitch.

Of course, the major factor for any successful team is self-belief and confidence, which began to return with every successive victory that was chalked up – indeed, the upturn may have come sooner if it hadn’t been for some crucial sending-offs that scuppered promising displays. Ten games ago, Boro were two-nil up and cruising against Hull until Marvin Johnson saw red eight minutes before half time – the ten men were eventually pegged back and were lucky to escape with a point. It was the same at Swansea, after Marcus Tavernier had equalised just before the hour mark and it looked like only one team was going to go onto win – and it wasn’t the Welsh one in white. However, a few minutes after that goal Browne’s stupid lunging tackle on the halfway line saw him sent to the stands and he was followed not long after by McNair for another less than clever challenge in front of the dugouts – the Swans then struck twice to send Boro home with nothing. Unbelievably, if Boro had have won those two and picked up those five extra points, Jonathan Woodgate’s team would now be only three points outside the play-offs with 20 games remaining!

Nevertheless, that festive bonanza of twelve points to end the bleak mid winter have totally reshaped the landscape of what was looking like it would be a long toil in the even bleaker valleys of the drop zone. Instead, Boro have now almost scrambled onto the higher planes of mid-table and the foothills of the play-offs are now almost in reach. It’s certainly been some journey this season and I’m not sure whether anyone associated with the club were overly keen on taking such a scenic route to a possible play-off place. OK, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves as there’s still a long way to go before that becomes a serious proposition. Still, the renewed optimism is palpable and it may be that we’ll start to see evidence of FOMO on Teesside. FOMO, in case you’ve missed out on that particular acronym, is the latest social media induced anxiety, which rather appropriately is pronounced ‘foamo’ and stands for ‘Fear of missing out.’

Although, for the football world, FOMO has been the driving force behind the inflationary transfer window for many a year and we are once again preparing to peer though another one in a serious Playschool manner. Boro have wasted little time (and thankfully little money) in getting their first January signings with the capture of Manchester City’s young winger Patrick Roberts – OK, the 22-year old has only ever had one appearance off the bench for the Sky Blues following a £12m transfer from Fulham and had spent most of his last three years out on loan. He had a successful spell at Celtic, scoring 15 goals in 55 appearances but hasn’t done anything of note in the last 18 months with unsuccessful loan spells at Girona in Spain and just three appearances for Norwich this season.

If Woodgate and Keane can get him back on track then he may be a good signing but he’s probably another player who is looking to reboot his career to rediscover some form and match fitness. Also just hot off the press arriving from City on loan is the six-foot-one German-born young forward Lukas Nmecha – he spent last season on loan at Preston, scoring 4 goals in 38 appearances and has spent this season at Wolfsburg but got few opportunities to play. The 21-year old is described as a pacy two-footed forward with a good first touch, who can either play as a centre-forward or out wide and likes to run at defenders – though it’s possible that paragraph on Wikipedia was written by his agent . Interestingly, he scored for England U20s against Germany in 2018 but switched sides in 2019 when he came on as sub for Germany’s U21s when they beat England 2-1. He sounds like a favourite for the Anglo-Germanic dual-nationals out there – albeit a confusing one!

January could be an important transfer window for Boro and it’s possible we’ll see a few strategic exits that could raise funds to help the bolstering of a rather thin squad that looks like it can’t take many more injuries or suspensions. I’d expect the club to make some defensive signings now Ayala has joined the injured, and with no sign of either Shotton or Friend returning, Woodgate is only one more injury or suspension short of a centre-back crisis. Whether we’ll see any experienced players arriving is another matter but that may depend on sales. The latest news on Randolph is that Boro have rejected West Ham’s opening bid as too low, but with Aston Villa also now in the market for a keeper after losing Tom Heaton for the season with a knee injury, it at least could start a bidding war for his services. A thoughtful Woodgate sounded somewhat vague on the future of both Randolph and Britt after simply saying “I’d like to think that they’ll both stay.”

With head of recruitment, Adrian Bevington, leaving the club last month it could mean a change in direction or possibly there was simply no real role for him given Boro’s lack of funds. Whether Boro are looking to target a different profile of player after the summer arrivals have so far failed to make the grade is uncertain – perhaps they could take inspiration for their recruitment policy from the latest planned advertisement from those who now run the country. Dominic Cummins has published in his blog that he aims to encourage “weirdos and misfits with odd skills” to apply for jobs in government – though many on Teesside could be forgiven for thinking that was Boro’s policy of the last few years for recruiting their players. The Downing Street strategist also added that he didn’t want to employ “confident public school bluffers” – not sure who he had in mind but presumably they were already over-represented in that department in the senior positions.

Moving quickly along from the world of politics that has often been unkindly (though possibly accurately) described as “show business for ugly people.” Anyway, it’s Boro who are now sitting much prettier in the Championship after that hectic but handsomely productive festive programme. However, January suddenly becomes a lot more languid with just a Cup tie and three league fixtures to fill out the month with not a midweek game in sight to punctuate the winter weekends.

Sunday sees Boro join the third round of the FA Cup with a high-profile televised home tie against a top Premier League team. Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham (as they’ve obligatorily been renamed) arrive on Teesside to waft a bit a glamour around the Riverside that neither Barnsley, Stoke or Huddersfield simply had the smell of. Most will be expecting that many of the big names will be rested for this game and no doubt Spurs will also make changes too. Although, with so few games in January for Boro, they may as well give it good go and maybe impress a few armchair neutrals. The real danger will be attracting unwanted attention from the January shoppers looking to boost their squads – maybe we could get a few extra millions by selecting Randolph or Britt but equally we could lose a few millions if they fluff their lines. A Gestede hat-trick will no doubt be followed with club statements saying he’s not for sale at any price before reluctantly relenting after a £5m bid from Villa to resign their former player.

When the third round draw was made, there were probably very few compos mentis Boro supporters that would contemplate their club would be in the fourth round hat. Now I suspect after the last four wins and news that Harry Kane is injured and the distinct possibility of others being rested for Spurs next game against Liverpool, Boro may fancy an upset. Indeed, you may be surprised to hear that Boro have won as many league games as Tottenham this season, with both clubs registering eight a piece. Spurs have been looking shaky in defence of late and have conceded first in their last four games, of which only one was won.

Mourinho’s latest squeeze are not at their best and in truth the Special One hasn’t looked that special in recent years with his odd bullying behaviour no longer seen as charming or effective after getting sacked by Chelsea for losing 9 of his opening 16 games. It was also marked by that infamous incident with the club’s female doctor, who he demoted for running onto the pitch to treat a prostrate Eden Hazard. The BBC reported that Eva Carneiro had claimed at a tribunal that Mourinho had shouted at her in Portugese “filha da puta” which translates as “daughter of a whore” – Dr Carneiro eventually settled with the club for constructive dismissal after turning down their original offer of £1.2m compensation. Mourinho then became Man Utd manager after seemingly being Sir Alex’s chosen one but he failed to revive their fortunes with the fans upset by the dour football he served up. He was sacked shortly before Christmas in 2018 after winning just 7 of his opening 17 games with him and his staff received just under £20m for their inconvenience.

Boro will hopefully try to continue in the Championship where they left off as they welcome Derby to the Riverside six days after their Cup exploits – although their opponents will presumably now be known as Wayne Rooney’s Rams after he somehow agreed to join Frank Lampard’s former club to inspire them to avoid relegation to League One – though I suspect the original deal was sold to him as firing the club to promotion to the Premier League when it was agreed back in August. Rooney has joined as player-coach on an 18 month contract – though I’m not sure if Mel Morris now plans to sell the training ground back to himself to fund his wages.

Derby, you may recall, lost out to Villa in the play-off final last season and after Frank Lampard departed for Chelsea appointed the former Dutch international Phillip Cocu as manager. Cocu played 101 times for The Netherlands and went on to become assistant manager for his country before leaving to take charge as caretaker manager at PSV. He subsequently stepped back to an under-19 role at the club before returning as first-team manager, which saw him lift the Eredivisie title in 2015 and defend it the following year.

However, Cocu has so far failed to inspire his new club to Championship success and a 2-1 Rooney-inspired win over Barnsley saw them join Boro on 33 points. It was the Ram’s second win in a week after also beating Charlton by the same score – though they’d failed to win any of their previous seven games in a run that had seen them slide down the table towards the relegation zone. Boro will hope it was a temporary return to form and that the presence of Wazza won’t prove to be the driving force for those around him at the Riverside.

So as the Boro faithful enter January in an uncharacteristic positive mood and start projecting a collective spirit of all pulling in the same direction, the question for many supporters now out of their cynical comfort zone, is how long it will last? For the moment most are feeling pleasantly surprised after the festive cheer and are still humming the Wizzard chorus of “I wish it could be Christmas every day” – while simultaneously getting twitchy as they prepare to pack away the decorations and inwardly anticipate the inevitable slump!

468 thoughts on “Joy and relief after Boro return to winning ways

  1. Good opening for the New Year Werder, thank you. Good to see you avoiding a post Christmas decline in standards. I don’t care how obvious the line was, but I did chuckle out loud after your adding that Spurs may make changes too.

    It’s a chance for Boro to impress on Sunday. We can be praised in a spirited and unfortunate defeat as much as we can in aiming a premiership scalp. A good performance , whatever the outcome, will keep morale and momentum going.

    Derby is a difficult one to judge. I think there is potential for it to be an entertaining and close fought fixture. But Spurs first and I think I will stick my neck well put and have us nicking it 2-1 on the day.


  2. Cheers Werder. Always a pleasure to read your latest take and grateful that you take the time to do so.

    An upset isn’t out of the question on Sunday but, though it would be great fun, it’s not something I’m overly fussed about.

    A want three points from Rooney’s Rams.

    1. Thanks Andy, I think it’s always more exciting to be in the Cup and especially if you get some high-profile games but if the play-offs are a possibility then that is more of a priority.

      Rooney’s Rams sounds like a NFL team…

  3. Thanks werder for first footing the new year with your first fortnightly review of the year. With our pep induced new recruits, we should put one over the special one’s ploders 2-1 to be precise, derby i have not a clue.

  4. Thanks Werder. Great writing as always. Loved your bit about Rooney.😂
    To be honest I’m not too bothered about the cup. Like Andy R, I would rather love Boro to send Mickey Rooney and his club home with a good hiding from us.

  5. Boro have met Derby County in League matches more than any other club, this will be the 138th meeting between the two clubs, second come Liverpool with 136 meetings and third Sunderland with 133. But of clubs who have won the First Division Championship Boro have only a plus win/loss ratio against 5 clubs they have met over 80 times as follows although Stoke like Boro have never won the League. Strange then that Boro’s 4 successive wins have come against 4 of those clubs and are due to play the other 2 next albeit that the Spurs match is a Cup tie. The statistics are as follows:-

    Boro 39 wins v Stoke 33
    Boro 41 wins v Huddersfield 31
    Boro 39 wins v West Brom 32
    Boro 40 wins v Preston 27
    Boro 33 wins v Spurs 29
    Boro 58 wins v Derby 48

    I wonder if there’s an omen there somewhere.

    1. Ken, spooky but good to hear Boro have the edge over both Spurs and Derby – the omens look good!

      btw Ken I just watched this animation (retweeted by AV from Gary Lineker) of a graphic that shows a ranking of a teams cumulative points from the start of the football league in 1888 to the present day – very interesting to see teams suddenly appear and move up and down the rankings.

      Here’s the link of the animation

      1. Werdermouth
        I also saw that. Forgot to mention though that Boro are also the bogey team to another Championship winning club who they’ve met over 80 times in League matches, namely Wolves who Boro certainly have the best record against with 43 wins and only 26 defeats in 88 matches. Perhaps we’ll continue that spooky success when we meet them in the next round of the FA Cup.

        That’s my lot on statistics for the next 10 weeks as I’ve got so much medical equipment including catheter bags, tena pads and pills to take to Portugal tomorrow that for once in a while I’m unable to have my sources of Boro history available to me. Also an early start tomorrow with a 6am taxi ride to Leeds/Bradford airport for a 9.35 flight, assistance at the airport and at Faro before picking up my hired car, driving to Lagoa for a meal, doing the shopping in Lidl, and checking in at my apartment with assistance from the staff in unloading my cases and shopping, I’ll miss tomorrow’s match. I’ll be glad when tomorrow is over and I can catch up some sleep hopefully. Also trying to get over a kidney infection (a hazard of wearing a catheter) with anti biotics, I’m not feeling 100% at the moment. Thankfully plenty of sunshine forecasted for the Algarve during the next 2 weeks with maximum temperatures of 17/18 degrees, but mostly plenty of hours of bright daylight after such a dull winter in Britain.

        My New Year starts after 12th Night , so let’s hope that Boro’s continues through Epiphany to Easter and beyond. So a Happy New Year to all Boro supporters wherever they are, and I’ll continue to dip into Diasboro even though I might not contribute as much until mid-March.

  6. Werder

    Great first preview of the year

    It was interesting to read in your piece that the Chelsea Female Doctor had run on the pitch to treat Eden Hazards prostate! Perhaps that was why Mourinho was upset.?

    Great and grateful as always


      1. Yes I think it was the prostate Eden Hazard.

        A different Hazard all together !

        Thanks for being the glue that binds this blog together !



  7. Werder a great start to the New Year both by you and the Boro. Loved the bit about resting the big names.

    We can’t afford any more injuries so I would expect that some of those who have been regulars will be give a breather and that the new boys will be given a run out.

    Don’t want us to get tonked by Spurs and would be happy for us to go down fighting so that we can focus on the league and surviving in the Championship another season.

    I see that SSN are reporting that a couple of German clubs (Eintracht Frankfurt and Cologne) are interested in Ben Gibson in addition to a couple of Turkish clubs. It will be interesting to see if anything develops on that front. BG certainly needs to get back playing somewhere. 😎

    1. Thanks KP, While Woodgate may consider resting one or two players who may be carrying knocks, there aren’t that many fixtures in January so we may see most of the players who have been performing well.

      As for Ben Gibson – surely he would prefer to stay in England and go out on loan – his Burnley move has been a disaster for his career and it’s probably only the money that has kept him from wanting out.

  8. Werder, Somehow my three last posts / replies ended up in the previous headliner. One was my thanks to you and RR for your two great reads…….as always.

    1. Yes just noticed them – two were replies to Exmil who had posted on the previous blog and you probably then did your new post on that blog. Anyway many thanks but the easiest thing to do would be to copy and repost your comment on the new blog.

  9. The BBC describe Mark Lawrenson as their football expert. I’m sure most of us would disagree with that statement. The BBC website has just published an alternative Premier League table based on his predictions so far this season and it shows that Sheffield United would have accrued only 14 points so far and equal 18th with Crystal Palace, with Watford as high as 8th with 30 points and Spurs with 52 points and only one defeat in 3rd position. Hardly ‘expert’ material, but in fairness a lot of us would possibly have agreed with him at the time. As a matter of interest he does think that Boro will draw 1-1 with Spurs tomorrow but lose the replay which is less than my Spurs loving chiropodist is prepared to forecast; he actually thinks Boro will win.

  10. Hasn’t Ben Gibson suffered quite few injuries so that he has always been getting fit. That could make it hard to go out on loan, no point if you haven’t got an element of match fitness.

    It certainly hasn’t worked out at Burnley with injury and non selection, currently selling him looks to have been good business.

    Interestingly, I had a look at Wikipedia and they had Ben on loan tom ourselves.

    1. I just checked Wikipedia and the opening paragraph does say: “Benjamin James Gibson (born 15 January 1993) is an English professional footballer who plays as a defender for Premier League club Burnley. He is currently on loan at Middlesbrough”

      I wonder if the club forgot to announce it…

  11. Werder,

    A great header piece, thoroughly enjoyed the read and loved OFB’s comment.

    Following on with the said ‘prostrate’ comment I was working in the front garden and a very prim middle-aged lady who lives in the village asked what the clumps of roses were. I replied they’re known ‘prostrate or procumbent’ roses.

    Inevitably the reply came ‘prostate roses, I’ve never heard of them before’.

    ‘No prostrate’ I replied. ‘That’s what I said’ the lady replied sharply. I now realised that this conversation was going nowhere. As she walked away she threw in the debate ending reply ‘my husband has trouble with his prostrate and his procumbent, he’s not what he used to be’. Only in Norfolk.

    Hopefully Boro will be up and at ’em tomorrow. 2 – 1 to Boro. That’s an away win then.



  12. On a slightly personal note I’d be happy with a draw tomorrow. Spurs new stadium looks fantastic and it would be a great opportunity to visit it.

  13. The possibility of Randolph going back to West Ham seems to be growing by the day. However Middlesbrough are in the driving seat and should insist on at least the amount paid for him which I understand was five million pounds. Such an amount is peanuts for a Premier division team these days particularly when they fork out £30million to £50 million on a forward.

  14. Going back to our urgent requirement (in my opinion) for an additional CB, even before Ayala had his annual injury, loanees as has been said by many can be a big gamble, primarily because of the lack of game time.

    Gibson when he first signed for Burnley was out with a hernia and then something else I believe. Just how many minutes he has played in the meantime could only be very small and given how porous the Burnley defence is and how Dyche bigged up Gibson when signed does make one wonder has there been a falling out? And now to be not making the bench, it appears that Dyche has written him off and for the club to off load him.

    I think that if Boro were to consider the big gamble of a loan, then selling would be necessary despite what JW says to the press, to pay his wages and loan fee. In fact if JW is going to continue with his three at the back then two CB’s would not go amiss.

  15. Thanks for the build up Werder.

    Need to persuade the better half to move swiftly around the Bridget Riley exhibition we’re booked in to see and straight into Riley’s for BT Sport!

    Gibbo back surely makes sense all round?

    Great to see the two new players in who crucially do have Championship experience.

    Spurs will surely play a strong team as Jose wants this cup though I’d love a trip to the new ground too!!! 2-1 to Spurs.

    Hope we beat Wayne Rooney’s Derby but I’d be happy with a draw and a couple of the newbies getting a run out.

  16. Stories dribbling out (as oppose to leaking) that a deal has been agreed with West Ham for Randolph which incorporates what we still owe them and leaves us with a few million to save or spend as we deem fit. I’d expect an offer for Foderingham from Rangers and the rest “reinvested”.

  17. A b it off topic, this, but from an article by Tom Roddy in today’s Times under the heading “From Barcelona to the Premier League, Adama Traoré is finally showng his talent at Wolves” (not entiely accurate sub-heading: “Wolves have succeeded where three clubs failed and helped winger develop an end product”):


    It was in the North East of England, at the Riverside Stadium, that Traoré would eventually find that manager [i.e. one to put his arm round him, tell him how good he was & how much he was loved] in Tony Pulis. He had been signed for Middlesbrough by his compatriot, Aitor Karanka, and became a popular figure on Teesside. But Karanka became frustrated by his indiscipline. He would switch Traoré from one wing to the other to be within earshot.

    “I hope that one day he can play alone,” Karanka said in 2017. “At the moment he needs guidance, but he needs less than he needed one month ago.”

    Traoré saw managers come and go at the Riverside, too. Karanka was sacked before the end of the season and replaced by Garry Monk in the summer. Monk didn’t last long and was succeeded by Pulis. Traoré was yet to score a goal in 18 months.

    “When I arrived, he was like a lost soul,” Pulis told The Times. “So I sat down with him, started talking to him, and told him what I thought he had to offer and how I would help him to get the best out of himself. He was just a player who needed some one-to-one attention; a bit of love.”

    Pulis and Traoré developed a bond. They would speak one-on-one regularly in Pulis’s office, where Traore would show him the players he was studying on his phone. It was mostly Lionel Messi.

    Pulis built his team around Traore and Darren Campbell, the former Olympic sprinter, helped him work with his speed. Campbell’s advice? Slow down.

    Traoré scored five goals in the second-half of the season which helped Middlesbrough reach the play-offs, where they were beaten by Villa. But his surge in performances meant Traoré had won many admirers. “We didn’t want to sell him to Wolves,” Pulis added, “but because of the financial situation at Middlesbrough at the time we had no choice.”

      1. I wonder if the exit clause worked in our favour, maybe we would have accepted less if it wasn’t in the contract.

        Many fans would have got shot of him for nothing so from being offered a free lift we got £18m for him.

        Same may have been the case for Bamford, once an offer came in the bean counters took over.

        Of course, TP loved Gestede so much which is why he rarely used him and tried to off load him to Millwall last January.

  18. Just watched Rochdale draw with the Mags and noticed a young lad Luke Matheson (who has already scored at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup) who was a bundle of energy.

    One of the smallest lads on the pitch so small in stature but he has just turned 17 and looks to have an energetic future and showed great reading of the game and maturity in the build up to the Rochdale equaliser. one to keep an eye on for the future and maybe worth a reasonable bid to a Club that are probably struggling for cash at that level and then loaning him back for the rest of the season and maybe all of next as part of the deal while he completes his studies and gets game time.

  19. Do players learn, Cricket gives us some lessons.

    Late yesterday was caught in the deep off Rabada only for a no ball to be given.

    This morning Broad took a wicket only for it to be overturned because of a no ball.

    There are a couple of cases where poor discipline got it’s just deserts. What compounded the issue for England were regular pictures of Stokes bowling no balls. The problem is nowadays the no balls are rarely called by umpires and the players dont monitor themselves.

    Poor discipline.

  20. You couldn’t make this up – from the Beeb’s text commentary on the Fulham-Villa FA Cup tie:

    80′ Substitution

    Substitution, Aston Villa. Indiana Vassilev replaces Marvelous Nakamba.

    Somebody’s parents must have been Raiders etc. fans…

  21. What a club, the more Traore shows his class (and many other attributes) the worse he was playing here.
    He was great, and he will be greater when he plays in the middle of the park.
    Just watched him against United in the cuptie. Talk about fear. United were handicapped by their obsession with Traore, three men at least throughout the match.
    Will their crowd allow that at home? We shall see. Dr

  22. Plato

    Can you please outline the steps in Traore’s career as you see them so we can all understand where your views come from. Then we can discuss your thoughts on what is a very balanced discussion blog.

    Kind regards

    1. I suppose Plato’s love in with Adama Traore matches mine with George Camsell. It’s probably over-adulation as most of my admiration for Camsell is passed down from my grandfather, and it sometimes becomes an obsession.

    2. Ian
      He was always a very good player, simply because he had several talents which others simply do not possess.
      Whilst here he was very fast, the fastest in the league, he was extremely good at beating his man, he was good at crossing the ball, he was very strong, i.e. No one knocked him off the ball. He did not foul (not his game) he did not dive, ever.
      We employed him to dribble(on the half way line) it was generally four oponents.
      We wanted him on the touchline, never in the middle
      We never expected him to score, just give the ball to your team mates lad, they are better at that game than you. (that plan worked out well)
      Even now no one has cottoned on to his real powers, which will be shown when he is played in the middle of the park. He will score lots of goals.
      By the way, every one around me loved to watch him, and were devastated when he left, I think it’s known as class, you always know it when you see it.
      When Spurs had to handle him, they chose to line up taking turns to kick lumps out of him. And that’s a sign of class.

  23. Good post Ian.

    I appreciate Plato’s posts and views but have to admit that, at times, I have difficulty in understanding what exactly is being said as is the case with the current post.

    That may say more about me and my lack of comprehension than it does about the post. 😎

  24. KP

    I agree because I live away from Middlesbrough so may well miss many articles, posts, information and nuances. Like yourself there may be something I dont know or a twist I haven’t thought of before.

    It is a genuine enquiry with best of intentions.

  25. Well not long to kick-off and it’s hard to judge until the teamsheets are released and we see what kind of team we’re up against – the media are expecting more or less a second-string team from Spurs and it’s hard to imagine Woodgate will follow suit as he hasn’t really got a second-string team unless he plays the kids who have been unused subs in recent weeks.

    If so it would be a pointless game and perhaps it would be short-changing those who pay their money to turn up at the Riverside. Hopefully, Woodgate will only rest players who are carrying knocks and try to continue building the team’s confidence. A win would certainly maintain the optimism on Teesside but a meek exit would put pressure on the next game if the Cup is sacrificed.

    1. Well I’m ready and going to pick up Mrs OFB sister and her husband (a West Ham fan) to go down to the riverside

      26000 seats sold so a good atmosphere

      I’ll go for Boro 2 Spurs 1

      How about that for foam hands ?

      Whatever the result I’ll enjoy the day after missing so many this season

      Up the Boro


  26. Brother in Law Still a West Ham fan even though he’s lived up here for 40 years.

    I’ve brought him a Boro scarf to wear though today !

    He hates spurs so that’s all right then!


  27. Team news: Boro fielding a strong team with Roberts making his debut to replace goal machine Gestede and the other change is Mejias in goal for Pears. Other signing Nmecha also on the bench.

    Starting XI: Mejias, Spence, Howson, McNair, Fry, Coulson, Saville, Clayton, Tavernier, Roberts, Fletcher.

    Subs: Brynn, Wood, Liddle, Wing, Johnson, Nmecha, Gestede

  28. Spurs also fielding a stronger side than some had expected with Dele, Son, Eriksen and Dier all starting.

    Spurs XI: Gazzaniga, Aurier, Dier, Alderwiereld, Vertonghen, Sessegnon, Winks, Eriksen, Lucas, Dele, Son

    1. The only one missing from his strongest team is Kane, and that’s down to injury. Mourinho obviously wants to win this game. I hope everyone enjoys the day and the club and fans do themselves proud.

  29. So looks like it will be a tough game for Boro with a relatively full strength Spurs side – I suspect our defence will be stretched and I imagine both Clayton and Saville are already anticipating taking one for the team!

    A draw would be a good result but if Boro concede early then they may suffer.

    Prediction: hard to see anything other than a Spurs win if they’re up for it and I’m expecting goals so will go Boro 2 – 3 Spurs.

  30. Hoping for an entertaining games and that Boro perform to their best. Unfortuanately even their best should not be enough against a Spurs strong team.

  31. Boro having to defend for much of that half but have been in full-concentration mode and have dealt with what Spurs have thrown at them. Good energy and pressing but have found it hard to break out but have still managed a few decent chances. First goal will probably be crucial – hopefully Boro can nick it!

  32. Well Boro gave a good account of themselves, worked hard and stuck to the task. For a moment it was almost looking like Boro were going to steal the tie with that early second-half goal but Spurs hit back with an inevitable equaliser. Still well done to the players and Woodgate for a well controlled defensive performance that restricted Spurs to few clear chances. So it is a trip to Spurs’ spanking new stadium for a replay – though Teessiders will have to bring their own cheese since the VIP Cheese Room failed to make the cut – they should possibly consider even bringing a Parmo!

    Well done Boro for another good performance!

  33. Another excellent display and result. Not a weak link in the team. It’s maybe hard to remember that it’s not even 2 1/2 weeks ago that it was 0-0 at half-time vs Stoke after a truly abject 45 minutes.

    If someone had said then, “Have faith in Woody, he’ll turn it around. We’ll win 4 in a row in the league and get a well-deserved draw against an almost full-strength Spurs,” they would have been dismissed as a flag-waving, delusional ra-ra.

    What is most pleasing to me is that this is not like Steaua where a team with nothing left to lose simply threw on all their forwards and gambled. Ever since that sliding doors moment where Howson gave away a penalty but the ref missed it, there’s been no outrageous luck. Each match, starting with half-time against Stoke was played to a game plan of making the best use of the players available and countering the opposition where possible. After every match you realised we had earned the result we got.

    Not quite eating the humble pie yet, but I am off down to Morrisons to buy the ingredients.

    1. Deleriad

      Buy some for me as well please!

      In fact, I would go for a bulk order as there might be more than a few of us having to eat it come the end of the season. 😎

  34. Back from the match now and having a well deserved drink! Well worth the long drive up and back and thought we played really well and as I had been expecting a defeat, very happy with the draw.

    But for a moment of poor defending which left the Spurs player unmarked for their goal, we would have been up for an upset. Heard Mourinho moaning that our goal was offside but well taken by Fletcher with a great ball from Saville.

    To say that we had 2 midfielders in the back 3 and two youngsters as wing backs, made it even better and JW and the players really do seem to be gelling. There looks to be a belief and the kids are making the most of their opportunity- long may it continue!

    I thought that Roberts looked very promising and hopefully will be the missing cog in the number 10 position that we need. As someone said on Tees, he could be similar to Ramirez.

    The only criticism I had was that, at times, we were defending too deep and not moving out quickly enough which on another day may have caused us problems. But it didn’t today!

    A good start to 2020 and Derby on Saturday which will also be a tough game(they all are to be fair) but here’s hoping for 3 points.


    1. I enjoyed it

      Woody has said tonight that Bola and Browne can go out on loan for rest of season

      Press reporting Villa want Randolph and Britt

      Howson McNair Fry immense today but all other players responded well and fought for each other

      A great performance would love to go to spurs !


  35. A fair result, and I’m pleased for the players and staff.
    Pundits on MoTD saying our goal was offside, which looking at *their* graphics I’m struggling to understand. Perhaps one of you lot can explain it to me?
    As for their goal, well our lot were looking leggy by that point, as the Spurs players superior fitness started telling. Which is probably why we were slow to close down the cross on this side of the pitch, and failed to track back for the header.

    1. I was thinking the same thing after just watching MoTD as the graphic seemed to actually show Fletcher was onside and had timed his run well – sounded more like they were sucking up Jose who had claimed our goal was offside and Alex Scott could wait to add “Mourinho is right because it is offside.”

      Incidentally, I sometimes wonder if these ‘expert’ pundits have actually watched the game or are just given scripted lines to read as they sound so wooden. Stephen Warnock had apparently observed how Clayton and Howson had played in front of the back five to protect them. If he’d watched the game or even listened to the commentary he would have easily known Howson was playing in the back three. I suspect the pundits only watched the few clips that they were asked to describe and were probably even scripted for them.

      You could see the presenter Manish was prompting their responses by feeding them introductory lines such as “I know you were impressed by Boro’s defence Stephen but there was a tactical switch from Spurs…” cue VT and the pre-planned analysis for Warnock to narrate.

      It all looked very amateurish to me.

      1. It was not off-side as you said, Werder. I think one player – I think it was nr 15 Dyer – who was deeper than the rest of the Spurs defenders.

        Well done Fletcher and the rest of the Boro team. Up the Boro!

    2. I was in line with Fletcher when he started his run and as an ex Lino I immediately said he was offside. I would have given it and was somewhat relieved to find that no VAR was in action on the day.

      But that’s just my opinion!!

      As for their goal there was no one covering our left back position and Fry was pulled out of position to try and close down the cross and Howson and McNair were too slow to react. They were however outstanding as a pair of makeshift centre backs and the whole team played well.


      1. I think one of the arguments against VAR and the decision of measuring offsides by millimeters is that it’s impossible to measure when the ball was actually struck to the degree of accuracy they are applying to the moment the player is adjudged to be offside. There are now calls to change the rule to say that if part of the player’s body is onside then he should not be ruled offside. While that may initially make sense, I wonder if that will just mean the VAR lines on the pitch will just end up being drawn to measure if part of his body was onside by millimeters instead. I think I’d agree with Gary Linker’s idea who said that VAR should only be allowed 2 replays without lines to judge by eye whether a player looked visibly offside – if they then couldn’t tell then the player should get the benefit of the doubt and the process would aslo be much quicker.

      2. I agree with Werder below. I have always said, even for the best linesman, in most cases it is impossible to judge when the ball is kicked and where the receiving forward is. The longer the pass the harder it becomes.

  36. Well after all the talk of the FA Cup being an opportunity to rest weary players after the hectic festive programme, both Boro and Spurs opted to field more or less their strongest sides available. Many on Teesside had thought Boro may stand a chance of getting some kind of result against a second-string Tottenham but once their line-up was announced it appeared a big ask. So is the lure of FA Cup glory still half full or is it now half empty? Here’s a man whose cup always overfloweth to describe how Woodgate’s patched-up pea-shooters fared against Mourinho’s big guns – it’s Redcar Red with his match report…

  37. Thanks for the latest in your uplifting installments of increasingly inspirational Boro team performances. You accurately captured the essence of the whole 90 minutes, picking out in detail many of the key events in the game. Because you are always on the mark for the games I do see, I know I can trust you in the others I don’t see.

    As for yesterday, well we gave an absolutely credible performance for a 94 minutes. If we can match that for the rest of the season we will begin to blow away most teams in the Championship.

    Fletcher looks to have finally found his scoring boots Nd his confidence must be sky high. Roberts impressed me coming straight into a new team after only a couple of training sessions. Short of match fitness now, he will get stronger and quicker to react as the matches come.

    My belief in this management team is growing week by week.

    Derby next. That will be a challenge, especially as they will be buzzing after their Rooney inspired victory at Palace. How good is it to begin to look forward to the next game now.

    1. Just following on from the MoTD reply to Chris regarding Derby’s Rooney inspired victory – it was almost laughable when Stephen Warnock noted that Rooney was involved in the build-up of Derby’s goal – he literally had only passed the ball 10 yards to another Derby player when standing inside his own half long before the chance was created.

  38. RR

    Your match reports have reached new heights and the results are 😉 a joy to read!

    If Roberts is going to be the playmaker where does that leave wing ?

    I thing McNair and Howson shared the honours of MOM

    still think Fletcher was offside !

    Liked the smoke blowing from Roberts backside ! Hah!

    Thanks again looking forward to your next one


    1. OFB, whilst I appreciate it was his first match in some time, initially IMO Roberts has some work to do to deserve a team start.
      Agree about where does that leave Wing though. He will have been very disappointed not to get on as the third sub at least. I still believe we missed his passing ability, but possibly not in this game as we needed the two in front of out three.

  39. Listening to the commentary on BT yesterday, the commentator was awfully pleased with himself announcing that Brian Clough was the most prolific goal scorer we had ever had in the team. He was especially smug announcing him as Clough of Valley Road, Grove Hill. Clearly knew that he was speaking with authority…
    Shame he hadn’t done any real research otherwise he would have known about Mr G.H. Camsell

  40. Yes, many thanks to RR for another great match report – sadly I had to post it up this morning as I’d already headed to bed before it arrived now that the festive holidays are over I’m back on the early starts (5:30 which is actually 4:30 British time).

    MOM was a hard call and I was edging towards Howson but it could easily have been McNair or possibly Fry. Spence also had a good game and is getting better with each game defensively. We still don’t know how bad Ayala’s injury is but I’d wondered if McNair was going to be a possible leaver in January but surely that’s impossible with his defensive ability. The only question may be how the player himself feels about having to play in a back three rather than his preferred midfield role.

    btw I noted that Ben Gibson’s wikipedia entry is no longer showing that he’s on loan at Middlesbrough 🙂 I would suspect that we may see at least one arrival in that department this January – much may depend on whether Shotton does indeed have a clause that triggers a lucrative contract extension.

    An interesting stat from the game was that despite the disparity in possession (71% vs 29% in Spurs favour) both teams had 4 shots on target. Another interesting stat thrown out during the game was that Jonathan Woodgate was the last Spurs player to score a winning goal that won the club a trophy – which was the 2008 League Cup final!

    Anyway, should be interesting replay that is currently pencilled in for next Tuesday but may get switched if it’s selected for TV – given that the only other major replay is Man Utd v Wolves then it’s likely.

  41. Redcar Red,

    It goes without saying that your report was excellent. Boro did well and they must be losing some of the stigma that Mr Pulis had them branded with. I still feel that the bigger task is getting higher in the championship. The reply should fill the donations box with a little more cash.

    One thing though having heard several interviews with Mourinho about the game why is he so graceless and miserable? No doubt a few others have wondered too. I still think he should do two years or so in the National League to show us how good he really is as a motivator and manager.

    Now it’s on to the Derby game and another ego to trash. A much more important game.



  42. Cheers RR. Always the best.

    Does it matter if the goal was offside or not. It stands and that is the main thing.
    Ref to Roberts, showed some nice touches. Once up to fitness levels, he will be a great addition.
    On to Derby and this is the game I would like us to hammer them and send Rooney with his hair extension/dyed beard and arrogance back to where he came from. Let’s make sure he never wants to come back to Middlesbrough again.

  43. The Offside debate is interesting. I believe that it is measured when the ball is played and focusing on the whereabouts the advancing Player is at that precise point. Does the “when the ball is played” mean when a thousandth of a millimetre touches the ball or when the laces are in full contact and the ball is noticeably changing shape under impact or when it actually leaves the laces or the very last microscopic particle of boot leather is still in contact?

    I know thats a bit pedantic and impossible to see with the naked eye and unless it was set up under laboratory test conditions the typical Camera (and angles) would not be accurate enough to determine. The time of a boot impacting and a leg following through is enough for an arm, leg, elbow or arm pit of the receiving player to be on or offside depending on the cycle of his body motion and therefore the reality of any human being able to watch both movements with a high degree of accuracy in two different areas simultaneously is totally impossible. All that brings me back to whether a Player is actually offside or played onside. Unless it is clear and obvious i.e. the attacker’s body is clearly in behind the last defender its is extremely subjective and often can only be down to gut instinct.

    I thought Fletcher looked offside but when I watched the replays on the box in one shot he looked offside when I froze it but then in the next frame there was a Spurs player below just appearing on the screen so he couldn’t possibly have been behind him. Looking at the angle of the grass stripes, they were approximately five to ten degrees and widening towards the base of the left hand corner of the screen which in effect would put the Spurs defender further back three dimensionally than the two dimensional screen initially showed.

    On that basis I think Fletcher was onside but then we have the other strategic measurement of when was the ball actually “kicked” to him or should that mean “released” to him because from the same camera position it was impossible to tell and another Camera angle behind the goal wasn’t any clearer.

    Overall I think Stuart Attwell and his assisting Officials got most things right and had a good game. The original thinking behind the offside rule as I understand it was to stop teams having a poacher just stood up at the other end where players would just hoof the ball up to him rather than play football. It was the cure for the earliest version of Pulis Ball and wasn’t intended to be analysed in micro millimetres and the thickness of a shirts fabric.

    A nose is often used to determine results in Horse racing but this is football and VAR is quickly destroying the heart and soul of the game. Trying to take an impartial view of things to me Fletcher’s goal (and countless others ruled out by VAR this season in the Premiership) should stand because if he was offside it was so fine it is impossible to call with any precision and accuracy. The law was to stop blatant poaching and it worked fine in doing that but if a player is level he should be considered onside and not given offside because of his protuberance. Next we will have Strikers being worth Twenty Million pounds more because they have a small nose (or other appendages).

    1. RR
      I liked the old method of determining offside if you could see daylight between the defender and the attacker when the ball was played and the attacker was closest to the opposing goal you knew he was offside,

      None of this millimetres arm breadth shoulder stance neck forward malarkey !

      It’s interesting that most of my former referee colleagues who were at the top level don’t like VAR

      Mourinho said we had an AR at the game an Actual Referee

      One thing I did agree with was if we are going to use VAR for FA Cup games then all the matches and clubs should use it and not in isolated cases


  44. It looks like Randolph has or is completing a medical with West Ham and a fee of £4M agreed along with writing off a remainder of £1.2M we still owed them. If true I guess selling a Keeper approaching 33 years old with 18 months of a contract remaining having had a few seasons use out of him for £200K more than we paid for him is a reasonable deal if it goes through.

    The key thing is taking his Premiership level wages off the pay roll for FFP purposes so SG didn’t have to buy back the Riverside Stadium from himself or even invite a gambling company to “sponsor” him in a new player/coaching role what with us being very short of goalkeeping coaches and all that! Good luck to him if he goes, the best Keeper since Schwarzer.

    Other rumours about City being interested in Adama are more eye watering with £70M to £80M being bandied about. In theory that makes our sale of him look like peanuts but then what does that make Villa fans think about their valuation. An enigma of a player who had something deep within but we didn’t have the Coaching ability to realise his full potential plus our tactics under Karanka and later Pulis were completely wrong for his skill sets. In fairness Pulis did get more more out of him and add £10M to his value at the time.

    1. I’d wager Boro do not have a sell-on clause for Adama – especially as Wolves weren’t too keen on paying the £18m release clause. Perhaps a question for the Gazette to ask Steve Gibson after the sale goes through and when they fancy another break from attending press conferences 😉

      As for Randolph, I suppose not losing money is something but part of me wonders why Boro can’t make a profit on last year’s keeper of the Championship. Boro paid £5m for Randolph when he had already lost his place to Adrian at the Hammers and had played only 25 games over two seasons for them. Randolph has started four times that for Boro in his two seasons at Teesside. simply avoiding making loss sounds more like what you do when a player has under-performed and at 32 he’s probably got at least 6 years left as a keeper.

  45. Brilliant pass from George Saville for Fletcher’s goal.

    An equivalent of £5.2m for Randolph strikes me as very good business. I agree with Redcar, best keeper since Schwarzer, good luck to him, I hope he becomes The Hammers no.1 and not a bench warmer.

    We’ll need a good new keeper now though, Pears has been brilliant but we need strength in depth.

    1. After watching Mejias yesterday I’d be happy enough with him as a back up and thats coming from someone who didn’t rate him at all (and I’m still a little apprehensive).

      Keepers rarely get serious long term injuries and although he looked a little rusty in the first half Tomas filled me with confidence in the second with two good saves and coming out of his box quickly spotting the danger to clear. With FFP we should maybe look to invest the money elsewhere besides Goalkeeping is the one position where clubs can bring in loans outside of the window.

      The run of results with Pears between the sticks has alleviated the need for an urgent replacement which Foderingham presumably looked pencilled in for (and still may be if his price and wages are right).

  46. The rumours about bringing Ben Gibson back until the end of the season doesn’t seem to me like a good bit of business. He has hardly played since he left us so will be rusty as anything and likely to take a few months getting back up to match fitness providing he doesn’t break down again (sadly very likely).

    I’d be more inclined to bring back Sam Stubbs from Scotland or even Enes Mahmutovic from the Netherlands (who has also been largely injured this season but now back fit). Mahmutovic’s contract expires in the summer so its maybe worth one last look. Ideally what we do need however is a battle scarred Championship CB who can step in, not dissimilar to Batth last season but where do we get one that we can afford?

    1. A good post, RR. Like your reports.

      I would like to have Gibbo back but I agree with you that a battle scarred Championship CB is what we need next. And quite quickly.

      With Friend beeing away such a long time, I do not think we can expect much from him anytime soon. Or as OFB said earlier, he could end his career with the injury, too.

      Now Ayala is crocked, too we need a defender or two. Urgently.

      Up the Boro!

  47. A few observations from yesterday.

    What a difference a Premiership referee makes. I hardly noticed him and his control of the game was excellent. The linesman didn’t think Fletcher was offside and it would have taken a forensic slide rule examination to prove him wrong ( if at all).

    Clayton and Saville proved that having two defensive midfielder’s isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    Mejias is a lot better than some think. When did we last have a keeper who was willing (able) to read the game and get out of the six yard box ( let alone the eighteen yard box) to nullify dangerous situations.

    Howson and McNair proved that good footballers are able to play in most positions on the pitch.

    Slowly but surely the club is building a squad of players and not having to rely on eleven first choice players, with healthy competition for selection.

    Finally, the fans are beginning to grasp what the club are trying to do and are prepared to buy in to it.

    1. Pretty much agree with the sentiment in all that but I think that with regards to your last paragraph fate and circumstances played a major part rather than fans buying into what the Club are trying to do. At half time against Stoke there were boos and jeers during the first half and at the half time whistle. Bevington departing soon after may or may not have been as a sacrificial coincidence but the summer of spin has been pretty much discredited as the season progressed. Had the Howson incident regarding a penalty claim stood we could have been looking at a very different backdrop, “sliding doors” moment as it has been described.

      I would doubt that Pears was seen as first choice Keeper back in July nor that Spence and Coulson would be holding down the Wing Back positions on merit. Indeed I’m pretty certain that it wasn’t planned or foreseen that Ashley Fletcher would be recognised as the best Striker at the Club over Britt Assombalonga.

      Sometimes fate conspires against you and scuppers the best of plans and just sometimes very occasionally it hands you a fait accompli that works out in your favour. Playing Howson as a CB certainly wasn’t intended nor that Browne and Bola would now be touted around for loans just six months after arriving on Teesside. That it took for the club to be in a relegation scrap and for the squad to be down to its bare bones for form and results to simultaneously turn around are not indicative of a well structured strategy. Just sometimes it is possible to fall in a barrel of the brown stuff and come up smelling of roses.

      That’s not to be dismissive and decry the coaching and the efforts of individuals who I am sure didn’t want to be where we found ourselves but there is absolutely no way I will ever be convinced that it all went as expected. More importantly we haven’t done anything yet other than drag ourselves out of the mire. Its just as likely we could slide back down with a few poor results as it is we will continue climbing. I do hope its the latter but four wins doesn’t suddenly exonerate for the poor tactics, signings and overall running of the business that put us into the mess in the first place by those who are still largely running the show.

      There have undoubtedly been some recent impressive improvements but we shouldn’t have needed to have improved this much in the first place. All that is without me starting on that by now comically infamous PowerPoint nonsense and leading the fans down the garden path in the summer of spin with collusion from sources that were previously quickly jettisoned when it suited the club. My Grandmother always used to say be careful who you climb over on the way up because you just might meet them on the way back down again, I’m pretty sure that was all part of a great plan at the time that failed to come to fruition.

      Hopefully the improved performances and results do indeed continue and that we do scrape the Play Offs somehow and better still momentum carries us on to win them. Hopefully lessons have been learned by Woodgate, Keane and Percovich and continue to be learnt, hopefully SG has also learnt that you can fool some of the people only some of the time. May the fate continue to be with us, to plagiarise Han Solo.

  48. For someone like me who missed Boro’s match yesterday and after having to arise at 3am yesterday it was great that Redcar Red could be my eyes for what sounds like having been an entertaining match. I was so shattered yesterday after such a long day that I didn’t even stay up for Match of the Day. I had intended to do some shopping at Lidl in Ferragudo where incidentally Mourinho’s parents still live about 5kms from where I’m staying, but the Swedish receptionist at my resort told me to give her my shopping list and she would do the shopping for me on her way to work this morning, which she duly did allowing me to start the day with a good breakfast. So muito obrigado to her and also to Redcar Red for another fair report of yesterday’s match.

    However I can’t say the same for Anthony Vickers for his preview and report of yesterday’s proceedings. It’s bad enough having to scroll down to find the beginning, but when the preview is repeated 5 or 6 times and the report repeated twice it becomes so tedious and boring. Also the continuous usage of EIO when Boro score and the ugh,etc when Boro concede takes me back to my childhood when reading matter was the Beano and Dandy. So irritating and undignified for a Gazette reporter. I’m wondering if he’s been on the sauce too much since his reports on this forum and the reason why the Gazette has now degenerated since the Cliff Mitchell era. I’m reminded of St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:- ‘When I became a man I put away childish things’. Or am I becoming too critical of a journalist who was the predecessor of this wonderful forum?

    1. I think the Gazette is now trying to target an audience who they feel are more likely to read (or click these days) on such things rather than write to the highest abilities of the journalists. A certain tabloid newspaper has manged to drag down the standards of the press over many decades and our local “newspaper” is now liberally spiced with recurring stories of what I will politely describe as “ne’er do wells”.

      We know on here that AV is very capable of producing fantastic thought provoking and even witty articles. I am of the opinion that he is a wasted talent where he currently works. I’m reminded of the Yes Minister sketch that went:

      The Times is read by the people who run the country.
      The Daily Mirror is read by the people who think they run the country.
      The Guardian is read by the people who think they ought to run the country.
      The Morning Star is read by the people who think the country ought to be run by another country.
      The Independent is read by people who don’t know who runs the country but are sure they’re doing it wrong.
      The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country.
      The Financial Times is read by the people who own the country.
      The Daily Express is read by the people who think the country ought to be run as it used to be run.
      The Daily Telegraph is read by the people who still think it is their country.
      And the Sun’s readers don’t care who runs the country providing she has big “assets”.

      I amended the last line a little but it makes the same point. I would add that local papers now seem to be produced for people who like to read about the glorification of gangster drug dealers and unsavoury underworld characters. Nothing sells like doom and debauchery, who wants to read a good news story. That I suspect is why we now see a lot of Beano and Dandy level articles, which on reflection is probably an insult to genuine Beano and Dandy readers.

    2. E-I-O has long been associated with Boro goals and forms an integral part of my Number Plate ( which is a continual reminder of the old adage, more money than sense!). Or as my sister says, an invitation to key carrying vandals everywhere.

  49. Redcar – i’m not sure a battle scare’ championship CB is at all what we want. Having seen Howson & McNair at CB I’d say what we need is another CB who can play football and can read the game.

    As for keeper cover, having only two keepers seems unnecessarily risky to me, especially when one is a man who has made a career out of being a no.2 or no.3. Mejias did okay yesterday, but i’m not convinced and maybe Woody isn’t either. After all we’ve been playing a young keeper who was on loan at Gateshead (?) last season in front of him. There’s a reason for that, surely?

    As for Ben Gibson coming back, returning to an old club rarely works.

    1. I think I may have overdosed on the hyperbole with “battle scarred”. An experienced and capable performer is probably a better descriptive term and if they would have a resale value at a future point then so much the better. I am wary that we now have a starting eleven of predominantly very young players.

      Spence had a great game yesterday but had he just kept running he may just have been able to make a challenge on Moura for the Spurs equaliser (the way in which he did on Sessegnon in an almost identical area of the pitch earlier). Danny Batth would be an ideal addition right now so its finding someone of that ilk that we could maybe afford or a try before you buy loan until the summer.

      I was especially scathing and cynical of the return of Mejias but he is here now and we are paying his wages so to not trust him asks even more questions of the Club. Based on yesterday he done enough for me to suggest that he can handle it at this level. If not he can always get an “injury” in training which would then permit us to bring in a loan Keeper from somewhere.

      For Ben’s future career he needs to go elsewhere to prove himself, beside we can’t afford his Premiership wages. If he does well here there will be doubters who pigeon hole him as a soft homeboy and don’t touch him with a barge pole. I would have thought that Newcastle may be a better loan scenario for him with their current injury list. There is also alleged interest in him from Germany with Frankfurt and Cologne which would be far better options to get his career (and maybe even his England hopes) back on track.

      1. RR
        Ben Gibson.
        His situation is not as critical as we like to believe.
        Good CB, First move, Big money contract, First rule of footballers everywhere, get rich, repeat often.
        His five year contract is a guarantee of a golden future for his family, Burnley are the ones who have the problem.
        Ben just trains, works out, is just the nicest person at the club, and Burnley will sell him (same wages, natch) or they will pay him off.
        He has not played, so is not devalued in any way, unless I have missed him getting on the pitch?

  50. I really enjoyed yesterday’s game, and loved our performance. I also thought the atmosphere was great. Hopefully, some of those missing thousands who mysteriously turned up yesterday will make the effort again in future weeks, having seen what this Boro team is capable of.

    I read The Guardian’s match report today – it was followed up with a number of readers’ comments, 95% of them Spurs fans. It made hilarious reading! Most thought their side was abysmal yesterday; some felt that players such as Erickson and Vertonghen were just rubbish ( i.e., all the time, not just yesterday!); some even had a go at Aurier (who I thought played very well); some felt that some of their players looked as if they couldn’t be a**ed; then there were those who were already dischuffed with Mourinho, questioning his appointment, his style of football and even whether he is already a busted flush; several thought the draw with Boro was a clear indication that Spurs will not win anything ever for a very long time; some even wanted Pochettino back!! And so on. Not a single one mentioned Boro and how well we had played. What was most illuminating – and most hilarious- was the obvious sense of Premier League arrogance and entitlement that sprang from the comments. It was as if they had just expected to turn up and win the game at a canter!

    RR – loved your report. Many thanks. I also really like your post at 2.42 about how it might be more good fortune rather than planned strategy that has led to our improvement. I think there’s a lot of truth in that.

    Ken – I don’t share your opinion of Anthony Vickers, who I think writes really good pieces most of the time. I still miss his in-depth analyses of life behind the scenes at Boro that we used to get on Untypical Boro. I also really like his use of Aaaaaargh ( = bu**er) and EIO on Twitter. When I’m not at a game, out shopping or whatever, I find these really useful, instant indicators of the state of the game.

  51. Thanks RR for an excellent report on another upbeat Boro performance which thoroughly deserved a draw and replay.

    Interesting to learn today that Browne and Bola are being sent out on loan. It really brings into question our recruitment policy when recent purchases fail to grasp a first team spot, which presumably they were bought to do, and are now being sent out on loan.

    Jury still out on the new loan recruits as neither have had much game time so will need a few games to get fully up to speed.

    Let’s hope that the positive performances can be turned into another three points against Derby. CoB 😎

  52. I’m a big AV fan, I think his writing is brilliant, he can paint a picture with words.
    But we’re all different, what works for some doesn’t for others, such is life.

    Good to celebrate variety though

  53. I think it is a good move to send Browne and Bola out on loan to gain match time and experience for Bola, the same for Browne plus work on his discipline as well. We have previous experience from young players going out on loan and coming back better players, the proof will be in next pre season training.

    I think all we need now (in this window) is a CB or 2 ? We need to keep as much in the “pot” for the real business next summer when we know where we are playing and what we have left.

    Come on BORO.

    1. I think we would all be in agreement on sending them out on loan, they certainly need to improve n where they are currently at. The irritation is that we were told in the Summer that two of those three were part of the outstanding candidates PowerPoint, it was scarcely believable at the time let alone now.

  54. I noticed tonight that rookie manager Mikel Arteta has Steve Round as his assistant at Arsenal. I wonder how much impact he had on Arsenal’s half time tactic change.

  55. I noticed that we have 20 games to go so thought I would look at the form table over the last 10 games:

    Surprised to see we are second in the form table with 20 points from the last 10 games. Leeds are top with 21 points. That is am impressive sustained performance. Sadly it means that even if we keep it up for 40 points from the next 20 games we still only end up on 73 points, which won’t be enough to get us into the playoffs.

    On the plus side, if we do get somewhere around 40 points from our final 20 games and we recruit well in the summer, that does give us a solid foundation to make a top 6 bid for next year.

    Obviously there’s a lot of what-ifs in there. On one hand it’s only really the last 3-4 games that things have clicked but if you consider a record of 6 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses in the last 10 games then that starts to look like a sustained run of form.

  56. On how we’ve got to where we are, you could equally argue that had we taken our chances and not had randomly good goals disallowed earlier on in the season we could have started a lot better, Bola and Browne (who clearly must have some talent) could have settled in better and Spence could still be playing for the u23s.

    I’m not that convinced we are playing much differently now (albeit I think the intensity is a lot better) but we are just getting more of the rub of the green. Had our results been more consistent over the season and we were in this position I guess we’d be feeling less optimistic.

    Bola and Browne going out on loan makes sense, if you named a squad of 22 with 2 players for each position they wouldn’t get in it as it stands. I expect we will also see Walker, O’Neill and maybe one of Liddle or Malley go out on loan too. Patrick Reading as well perhaps though I guess if his contract is up in the summer he may leave anyway.

    We will need to think about contracts for some of the young players – I imagine Pears and Spence don’t have long left, I think Tav is up in June 2021 and must be interesting Premiership clubs now (despite some of the quotes surely the Bournemouth interest is in him, not Johnson)

    As for Randolph, the fee seems low. Appreciate is he is out of contract next year and a high earner but he is a Premiership-quality keeper and 32 is no age for a keeper really. Can’t help but feel we wouldn’t get such a good deal if we were buying. Pears has really impressed me though so I don’t have any issue with him being our no.1.

    1. Every club have missed chances, dodgy offsides and penalties turned down. If only we hadn’t tried high tempo football with a squad designed for slow methodical hoof ball we could have earned a few more early points. If only we hadn’t persisted with four at the back in those early games when we didn’t have the personnel. If only we had realised that Browne, Dojksteel and Bola were not ready for the Championship and if only our Head Coach realised that his penalty taker had little composure, no technique and woeful accuracy all those early games could have yielded far more points. If only Crewe hadn’t put such a spirited performance up in whilst we were still tactically dysfunctional we may still be in the Carabao Cup. Football was ever thus, Liverpool fans still have nightmares over that Gerrard moment!

      The Randolph sale is interesting in terms of contrasting opinions. Looking at their fans forums, tweets etc. Hammer fans reckon they have overpaid and don’t rate Randolph at all. Our views and supporters of the ROI seem to be in stark opposition to West Ham supporters. If we kept him until the summer as his contract ran down even more his value goes down with it especially as everyone including the player and his agent knows that we could only afford a third at best of his current deal and even that would be pushing it.

      The level of offers from the market confirms his value and apart from vague Villa interest (he and his family may not want to move to Birmingham given that they already lived in the London area and presumably have an existing circle of friends) nobody else seems to be wanting to pay £8m to £10m for a Keeper. He is rumoured to be on £1.8m a year in wages, by going now the club will have saved £2.7m on his remaining wages alone plus there is the £1.2m we still owed for him.

      I would guess Pears’ wages over the same 18 month period is more likely to be around £500k and probably no more than £750k if that. Our wage bill is currently supposed to be more than double the Championship average so to comply with FFP the club has to do some drastic pruning and quickly. Gestede’s contract is over in June and I can’t see anyone wanting to take that level of cost on so we will be stuck with him for six more months. Britt’s wages are probably the same as Randolph’s as a minimum (probably more). Again we will have to take what we can get for him because we don’t want to carry the burden of those wages much longer.

      In Britt’s case we overpaid so if we recoup half of what we paid out considering the necessity to trim the wage bill it will probably be deemed as painful but acceptable. Those two players will save the club around £6m in wages alone off the wage bill over 18 months. Clearing out those costs now creates wiggle room up to the permitted level of £39m losses in rebuilding with more sustainable players wages. Buying clubs know the FFP limits only too well and our pressing need to jettison high earners, under those circumstances its a buyers market. Call it a fire sale (hopefully not a closing down sale) but customers will make cheeky offers as the window starts to close.

      1. RR
        Really good analysis of the art of dealing in the market for players, you make it brutally clear that carrying dead wood is a cancer at the heart of this club
        It is a crude form of justice that the result of said lunacy is the sale of any good player you come into possession of at a knock down price.
        Having said that, I had better name a couple of suspects.
        First up is Fry, Man City have fitted us up with two young gentlemen who have not set the world alight, at a cost one assumes.?
        Fry is now bulking up nicely, playmaking middle of the park centre back.
        I would assume that they will plead poverty (please do not ask for rolls Royce money, we thought about ten mill plus the two young wasters, you know it makes sense).
        They were interested in Tav. Or was that Liverpool?
        There’s another five mill straight away.
        So the cost of our all round incompetence in the market goes on, and we still have a slack handful left.

  57. Well I’ve managed to see a recording of the full 90 minutes of Sunday’s match this morning on the MFC website, though strangely access was denied for recorded highlights. It’s been mentioned that Boro have never beaten Spurs in an FA Cup match with the last time being a 0-4 defeat in 1966 which would be the season when Boro were relegated to the 3rd Division for the first time.

    Now although I haven’t got access to my Boro records here in Portugal I do remember a previous occasion when Boro played at White Hart Lane because I was there. It was in 1956 as I was awaiting my calling-up papers for National Service that year and I was determined to see as much of Boro as possible. I’d travelled by train to Bradford to see the 3rd Round match against Park Avenue which Boro comfortably won 4-0, and the next round was to be that match at Spurs. As ridiculous as it seemed because I had little money I even contemplated cycling all the way to London, although it was really a bluff until my father coughed up with the rail fare. I can’t remember whether there were coaches or special trains to away matches in those days, but I didn’t see anyone wearing a red and white scarf on the journey or indeed in London.

    Spurs of course were a First Division club but fighting relegation as I recall. In those days there was no segregation of supporters so I just paid cash at the cheapest gate I could find. It was quite misty that day and the pitch was so heavily sanded that any grass was hardly visible. Boro lost 1-3 but I can’t remember seeing much of the match because of low visibility as the mist swirled around. As my train time back to Darlington was quite late in the day and it was so cold I decided to spend a little time at a cinema in Tottenham Court Road which featured a Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis film for an hour or so before getting a bus to King’s Cross station where I was being jostled a bit by half a dozen lads because of my red and white scarf. Nothing too heavy, but perhaps they assumed I was an Arsenal fan.

    As it happened Newcastle were also playing in London that day at Fulham where they had won 4-3 and with time to spare a posse of Geordies who’d been frequenting a local bar and in high spirits converged at King’s Cross shortly after I’d arrived and the London mob soon scattered. Yes, I was a little apprehensive as to how things might have escalated, but never had I been so glad to see a load of Geordies as we related how the two cup ties had finished. They were genuinely sorry that Boro had lost, and I was happy for them that Newcastle had won, such was the camaraderie amongst North Eastern fans in those days.

    Just a few lines of my experiences as a lone Boro supporter in the 1950s when things were perhaps much better than they are today for the independent sports follower.

  58. Ken

    Re the highlights, I think it is something BT have incorporated into their media player.

    I had the same problem when using my Spanish internet provider but when I switched to one that gives me a UK IP address the media player worked.

    I appreciate that you may not have access to a UK IP address whilst in Portugal but thought I would attempt to clarify for you.

    Hope you are enjoying the winter sun.😎

    1. Thanks KP. Coolish early mornings at 10 degrees, but 18 degrees by 1pm. Happy to see that Boro’s replay is on BBC as I’ll be able to watch it in my apartment.

  59. We BORO fans think we are hard done by the EFL but think of Birmingham fans as they may face a second points reduction while other clubs, including their arch rivals Villa, seem to go unpunished.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Think it would be interesting if Birmingham charged the EFL with not imposing their own rules evenly and fairly considering that Boro have already threatened legal action against the EFL. If they clamp down on Birmingham again (which seems reasonable) then they will need to come up with some pretty good excuses as to why other clubs have been allowed loopholes in blatant defiance of the rules.

      Perhaps their Chinese owners may decide to sponsor St. Andrews again and match the funding with the name of the current “St. Andrews Trillion Trophy Stadium” to the “St. Andrews Trillion Pounds Trophy Stadium”.

  60. After my ramble yesterday I saw that Hamilton are disappointed that Sam Stubbs is being recalled by Boro. Just as I was thinking its about time they started listening to me 🙂 I read in the next paragraph that he being immediately sent back out to Alan Pardew’s Den Haag in the Netherlands.

    If he is good enough for Dutch Football I would think that he would be good enough for Championship football. Still I suppose it will be another good measure of his skills and ability in probably a more challenging environment. Putting two and two together and getting seven I would guess that means another body may be coming in at CB especially if the Shotton stories about appearances hold water and Friend is pretty well crocked.

  61. Speaking of Birmingham, if Coventry manage to win their 3rd Round replay, then Birmingham fans face the prospect of having to sit in the Away end at their own ground!

  62. Where would the England cricket team be without Ben Stokes? 119 runs, 6 catches and after hardly any bowling this winter he comes up with taking the last 3 wickets when South Africa looked like saving the match. He may not be a Yorkshireman, but he’s the next best thing, a Kiwi playing most of his County Cricket playing just up the road at Chester-le-Street.

    1. Ken
      It makes you think, when the luvvie brigade wanted him hung drawn and quartered because of a punch up outside a night club.
      And I do mean a long prison sentence, plus, of course a complete ban from Cricket, for ever.
      They didn’t fail by much, nasty people.

  63. It’s very interesting watching how MFC are approaching the new world of FFP. Clearly mistakes have been made in the past and they are paying for them but it’s not the end of the world and current decisions all seem to have a degree of logic about them.

    If I’m honest, Assombalonga going would no longer be the catastrophe that it appeared even four weeks ago. Fletcher is getting better by the day and, much to everyone’s surprise, a fit Gestede is really providing a genuine plan B. We do need more goals from midfield or another striker but that may come.

    There is a bunch of very good young players coming through and the senior professionals seem to relish playing with them and bringing the best out of them. Ayala, McNair, Howson, Clayton and Saville are playing better than ever.

    Wing is a bit caught at present and will have to battle with others including Roberts who looked promising but that’s good for the team. However he’s a good player and will find his way back into the team.

    Looking at the youngsters, I can see a really strong squad in, say, eighteen months time. Fry is getting back to what we know he is capable of and Tavernier is having by far his best spell at the club. Coulson is very good going forward and could end up as more of a winger than a defender. Pears is good enough to allow us to sell a Randolph and, to be fair, we seem to have an endless production line of goalkeepers.

    Spence could be the best of all of them. He reminds me of the new group of full backs/wingbacks who are a really important part of the new high speed style of football as exemplified by Liverpool.

    As for others like Stubbs and Mahmutovic and all the others who are out on loan or around the squad they will either become strong squad members or be sold for enough to more than repay their development costs.

    It’s potentially a good moment in time and the Spurs performance is just another indicator. I don’t expect us to get through the replay but it will be a great experience for everyone. I’d definitely trade it for a win against Derby.


    1. selwynoz,

      Right on the mark, I totally agree, because of fate opportunities abound but please, please Boro don’t buy any more tired old journeymen or fading stars looking for a last payout. This does seem a pivotal moment for the club in lots of ways.



    2. Selwynoz
      Great summing up of our present position, everyone seems to agree that a chance to see the new Spurs ground is good.
      The only fly in the ointment is Man City being desperate for a ball playing centre back, young, experience of the top level with England, starting to bulk up into a serious presence on the field, and we are their new best friend? Let’s hope I’m wrong.

  64. Apparently Randolf’s injury is similar to that of West Hams goalie, although not as serious. By all accounts having to go through a second medical before the transfer can go through…..or not?

  65. Reading this morning’s Echo, it sounds like Villa are keen to test Boro’s resolve to keep hold of Britt – he’s apparently Dean Smith’s main target for January. Personally, if they offer anything over £7.5m then I think it’s a no-brainer – they may even be prepared to offer closer to £10m, which would be a bonus for an over-valued purchase under Monk.

    Besides would the club block Assombalonga from a PL move? It may be the last chance for the club to get any real money back on the £15m we paid and Britt’s last chance to play at the top level. It’s also unlikely he’d be offered a new deal in 18 months time by Boro. So sounds like it’s a deal that needs to be done and in truth we haven’t really missed him since he was injured as the team looks better with Fletcher playing the main striker role.

  66. Having yesterday given an insight of what being a Boro supporter or indeed any football fan was like in the 1950s perhaps briefly I should recall what it was like in the 1940s. The crowds at Ayresome Park were huge following the end of the Second World War as Boro’s attendance records were broken several times. In fact I’m speaking from memory here, but I recall one season where the ground record was broken 4 times. Youngsters were often crammed in like sardines as they climbed over the wall from the boys’ end and it was a regular occurrence to see them being passed over people’s shoulders down towards the pitch area to avoid the crush. There was no chance especially in the old bob end of anyone being able to find the toilets and often one got wet with urine as some folk just relieved themselves whilst in the crowd.

    Among my other rememberances was the lack of contact between the players and the fans. The only time I recall being able to get players’ autographs was when Boro sent a team to play cricket at Redcar’s Coatham Road ground, but even then some of the team were reluctant to oblige. It was the only time as a child that I actually got close enough to Wilf Mannion. With all-seater stadia today’s youngsters are not only in a safer environment, but with fanzone areas are able to get players’ autographs but also selfie photographs of their favourite players. Today’s sports stars are far more approachable with fans at football matches, and indeed at golf tournaments with areas where there are ‘signing areas’ once players have recorded their scores. How I wish I’d have had that opportunity as a youngster!

    The nearest I’ve been been able to have those privileges was when my late wife’s cousin, a Castleford Rugby League player, arranged for me to visit the boardroom at Wheldon Road prior to a match and I was allowed to hold up the Rugby League Challenge Cup which Cas held in the late 1960’s, for photographs and had a rugby ball signed by all the players, but I’m aware that I was in a privileged position unavailable to the ordinary fan.

    Finally, the only way to find out how Boro were performing in away matches was to watch the home reserve matches in the old North Eastern League. Also the only way to identify one was the wearing of a red and white scarf, with rosettes usually only available to buy at cup matches. Then there was the horrible din from football rattles. Apart from seeing the great international stars of the time, the main thing I miss from today’s matches is that the pre-match entertainment was always the sight of a local brass or silver band playing especially marches, and I recall one evening match against Blackpool when the Coldstream Guards marched up and down the pitch before the match and during the interval. In my opinion a far cry from the utter din from Mark Page at today’s matches.

  67. I am puzzled by the stats that show we have a mountain to climb if we are to reach the playoffs.
    At seven points behind with two home matches to come, I would expect us to be maybe four points behind after playing them, such is our confidence and form.
    That surely is touching distance with a shed load of games to go.
    Am I making sense?

    1. Right here and now your logic makes sense Plato especially taking the last eight or ten games form. When its spread out to take in the entire season our performances and form earlier on was dire and drags the points tally down. In Industry when forecasting and planning I have used weighted arithmetic means where I can weight greater importance to certain sets of figures and lessen the impact of others. This allows me to forecast future projected sales and required stock levels placing greater importance on more relevant sales and ignoring blips or tweak them for seasonal demand products etc.

      If we do the same with Boro over the last ten games or so then those seven points (eight with goal differences) look a distinct possibility. Of course it also requires other sides to start dipping in form to enable us to catch and overtake them so I reckon that is why we aren’t fancied to achieve a top six finish. It may just be selective recall on my part but without analysing and checking I do sense that there have been a few unfancied clubs who have put great runs together in the New Year and gatecrashed the Play Offs. Lets hope we can continue the current run of results and beef up the excitement towards the run in.

      1. Redcar Red
        One club in particular is Millwall who were only 5 points above the relegation places a few weeks ago, but now occupy a playoff spot. However if a few more clubs are deducted points who knows where Boro might finish.

      2. Another way to look at it is that it takes 78 points to have a better than average chance of reaching 6th position. We have 33 points from 26 games so need 45 points from 20 games: 2.25 points per game. If we managed that we would be scoring points at a rate that’s smashing the league then dancing on its ashes. It would take something like win 14, draw 3, lose 3 of the next 20 games. On the positive side, the teams clustered around 6th place have been doing relatively poorly so we might reach 6th on 75 points.

        Last year at this point Villa were in 10th place with 38 points, 5 points ahead of where we are now. They won 11, drew 5 and lost 4 of their last 20 games including winning 10 on the trot. We have to do significantly better than that. Doable? Yes but given that 4 weeks ago we were looking like relegation candidates it is highly unlikely.

  68. Looking around elsewhere this morning to see who is linked with who and who is going where I see that Charlton have resigned themselves to losing Lyle Taylor who Boro have been previously linked with last summer. Taylor is 29 years old and a big unit but has only been influential as a Striker lately.

    I noticed that Charlton “reportedly” see Armand Gnanduillet from Blackpool as his replacement, two years younger than Taylor at 27 and would likely cost a month or two of Britt’s costs. I think both are probably too old for what we are looking for in general but he may prove to be a very useful “Plan B” alternative to Rudy in a very worst case scenario. He is also the same height as Gestede at 6′ 4″.

    1. RR
      The heart sinks when we discuss players in the age scale 27 plus, more so when they have had a decidedly average career in the lower leagues.
      Why would we carry on doing what got us into this mess when we know that the correct method is to get off our backside and scout youngsters thorouly, then sign them and develop them.
      Every player that has played in English football has played as a youth on some pitch somewhere, so get out and about and get looking.

  69. To veer slightly in to politics ( as is this blogs wont on occasion) I listened to several discussions about what had been achieved by the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani on Friday.. It seems pretty obvious to me.

    The next leader of the Quds Force will think twice about what he does when there’s a pretty good chance he can get a Drone Missile up his Jacksie at any given time.

    1. Problem with that is the assumption that a rational, logical person would think like that. If he is an extreme nut job seeking glory and deification then he may decide to strike before his number is up. My take on it is that Israel and Saudi are pulling a few strings with a President who is easily lead. Whatever happens next I hope it doesn’t involve innocent people on any of the sides involved being merely dismissed as collateral damage.

    2. Call me an old cynic but I’m wondering how the time and whereabouts of Soleimani was leaked to the American intelligence agencies so that they could carry out the assassination. I doubt the idea was Trump’s and he just approved the operation. Interesting that the response from Iran yesterday to strike two American bases with ballistic missiles didn’t injure anyone and was followed by a statement from Iran saying that was their response to the assassination and they don’t wish to escalate the situation. Iran also warned Iraq in advance and say that their response should be proportional. All sounds like the usual power games and I suspect some in Iran may be glad that a powerful leadership figure is now removed from the stage despite the outpouring of grief. Keeping power in the Middle East is about getting rid of your rivals.

      1. Very true Werder. I thought exactly the same as you when I read about the Iranian response. Bit of quid pro quo… All designed to bolster the orange one’s hardman and patriotic American image to his domestic constituency at the same time satisfying the power brokers in Iran.

      2. I think Soleimani is a great loss. There is no chance to complete his work in the developing of childcare facilities and opportunities for young girls in Southern Iraq.

        Hopefully Jeremy can articulate these concerns in Parliament as his long standing opposition to terrorist groups has shown. I am sure if you visit his website there will be an opportunity to contribute.

        1. I’m not a fan of Corbyn as he lacks self awareness and political acumen and can be somewhat naive, nevertheless he seems a decent enough person who I’m sure would not support any acts of terrorism or violence. He’s essentially an angry pacifist who thinks talking can put the world to rights, who has in the past been prepared to talk to people associated with terrorist organisations in the hope of mediation.

          We shouldn’t forget that both American and British governments have historically supported terrorist organisations and brutal dictators or regimes if they believe it was in their own national interests – or indeed sell them weapons to make a lot of arms companies rich. They also have no qualms with innocent civilians being killed or injured during their operations as it is generally sanitised in these power games as collateral damage – which is only bad if the western media show it as that shown by foreign media is often claimed to be fake news.

          In conclusion – sadly there is no moral high ground when it comes to such matters only attempts at justification that is usually wrapped up in some form of nationalism or populism as is the trend these days. Hypocrisy is what most leaders shamelessly display until they have no political credibility left.

          OK, that’s enough cynicism for this week…

  70. I agree with deleriad, like winning the lottery.
    At the moment let’s enjoy the comfort zone between us and the bottom three, keep picking up points that take us to safety.

    My slight worry is that like Monk, JW may end up with too many players if the rumours are to be believed. Why would we want Clarke when we now have Roberts or the guy from Arsenal? Both have done nothing this season and have it all to prove given the chance as have our two new MC signings.
    We need a CB, not Ben Gibson please and we need IMO, Wing intergrated back into his best position, not played deep and then told he is not performing to expectations.

    1. Much may depend on whether Boro are planning on cashing in on players like Marvin Johnson (Bournemouth linked) and Britt (Villa linked) – plus Browne is being set up for a loan exit. The issue with the potential incoming loan players is that their clubs want them to play games and realistically could Boro provide four starting places to four loanees?

      Interestingly, there was talk from Fletcher this week about Boro aiming for a play-off place and him welcoming the latest new arrivals – I guess some of these players are not match fit but certainly have potential given that they arrive from top-six clubs who are looking for them to compete for a place in their matchday squads in the coming years.

      However, we should note that these players are no longer easily loaned to other Premier League clubs as PL clubs are restricted to just two loanees. So the likes of the big six clubs with their many youngsters that they’ve hoovered up need to find pitch time somewhere. My view is that clubs like Boro should be making good use of the loan market and it seems in recent seasons Boro have opted for more permanent deals instead.

      It makes you wonder why Boro bothered with the likes of Bola and Browne in the first place as presumably they are now going to loan them out to League One teams to get some game time since they’re not Championship ready.

  71. Just to add to Deleriad’s post on the points required to make the play-offs. At present Swansea in 6th place are projected to make only 72 points if they continue on their current points per game. It appears this season the Championship has few consistent teams other than the top two as even Brentford in third spot are only on course for 76 points. Therefore any team who can put a decent run together is probably in with a chance of a top six place.

    Also because the league is so tight it’s not that easy to climb the table quickly. Although, Boro are only 8 points outside the play-offs, they need to overtake ten clubs above them to get there. So a couple of wins may not move the club that much higher in the table as you probably will only gradually inch another point closer.

    For example, winning 6 games on the bounce will give you 18 points but some of the other clubs will probably still manage around 10-12 points – so you will still be just outside the play-offs. Still, it’s better to get as many points in the next ten games and then look to see what the target is for the final ten games. We could easily see 6th spot at around 70-71 points this season.

  72. Regarding the number of points required for 6th place since the Championship was increased to 24 clubs, the average over the 23 seasons is 75 points. The highest total was 81 by Huddersfield in 2016/17, the lowest was 71 by Crystal Palace in 1996/97 and again in 2007/08 and also by Charlton in 1995/96. Incidentally Crystal Palace have made a habit of finishing 6th with low totals of points, 72 in 2012/13 and 73 in 2003/04 and in 3 of those 4 seasons were promoted to the Premier League.

  73. Boro seem to be confident of beating Spurs in the FA Cup replay as they’ve brought forward their game against Birmingham to Tuesday 21 January so it doesn’t clash with the Fourth Round trip to Southampton.

    1. I would like to think so 🙂

      I think its more to do with Birmingham already being through to the 4th round and will be playing either ground sharing Coventry (away at home in an interesting conundrum as to who gets the “home” end) or Bristol City.

      That means our fixture with the Blues on the Saturday would have been postponed regardless. I suspect Boro maybe sense that trying to keep the current positive momentum going now is better than a rearranged game six or eight weeks later and maybe against a galvanised side fighting a second hit of points deduction.

      1. Should of course be Bristol Rovers not City!

        I was even thinking of the Pirates as I typed yet somehow City came out of my keyboard. Anyway here is a little bit on the unusual circumstances that I’m sure many of us enjoy reading for trivia purposes:

        If anyone is on who wants to be a Millionaire etc. at some future point and the big money question is about the above just remember who alerted you to it. 😉

      2. Ahem……..

        january 7, 2020 at 3:38 pm
        Speaking of Birmingham, if Coventry manage to win their 3rd Round replay, then Birmingham fans face the prospect of having to sit in the Away end at their own ground!

  74. Now to Northern League matters where it all began for both Boro and Ironopolis in the 19th century and when Boro won their first silverware by winning the FA Amateur Cup twice in 1895 and 1898, Stockton won it 3 times in 1899, 1903 and 1922 and South Bank once in 1913. Even Eston United reached the final in 1909, before the halcyon years of Bishop Auckland 10 time winners and Crook Town 5 times winners until
    it was disbanded in 1974. The Northern League, not only the second oldest League in the World, was the powerhouse of Amateur football in England.

    The Northern Echo has always been a supporter of the Northern League and in recent years we have seen the emergence of Marske United reaching the second Division of the Northern Premier League and Stockton Town reaching the Final of the FA Vase two years ago where they unfortunately lost to Thatcham at Wembley Stadium. But I never envisaged that my home town club of Redcar Athletic would open their facilities to Stoke City before the Potters recent match against Boro, nor that the Sunday Sun would feature its main Northern League match away to West Allotment Celtic a club who play their home matches at Wolsingham close to Newcastle Airport. Celtic had won all 11 of their home matches and rightly head the Second Division table, but second placed Redcar deservedly beat them 1-0 and then last night earned a creditable 1-1 draw at third placed Ryton and Crawcrook Albion.

    Four teams will be promoted to the First Division of the Northern League at the end of this season and it seems certain even at this early stage that Redcar Athletic will be one of them.
    It has taken almost 100 years for a club from Redcar to reach the Northern League, and I couldn’t be more proud of them as I would be if Boro reached the playoffs this season. Well done lads!

  75. Ken, as a proud Yorkshire man I was actually I was born in a hospital in Bishop Auckland, so I have always been a Bishops fan and when they played Crook Town in a cup final replay at Ayesome Park I was there with my ”boots black” But I believe It Finished a draw then another replay which Crook won. I guess you can put me right with your phenomenal memory. As I have said I was born in Durham in 1939 and with my name Brian Sellers I was always asked about my playing Days for Yorkshire cricket as captain and chairman ” if only ”. So with the Boro and Yorkshire as first love Durham come a close second.

    1. Borobrie
      Bishop Auckland played many Semifinals of the FA Amateur Cup at Ayresome Park and won all of them until that fateful day against Crook Town in the Final. A crowd of 100,000 at Wembley, a 60,000 crowd at St James Park both 2-2 draws as I recall, then a 0-1 defeat to Crook Town before a crowd approaching 38,000 at Ayresome Park. I was there but, it was a poor match as both teams seemed shattered. I remember though Harry Sharratt being the goalkeeper. He played in the 1956 Great Britain Olympic team. Then of course Bob Hardisty who played in 3 GB Olympic teams, Jimmy Nimmins who captained Bishops when they beat Wycombe Wanderers, their third successive Cup win, and Seamus O’Connell who went on to play for Boro and Chelsea in the 1950s still as an amateur. I suppose you know that Bob Paisley who went on to play for and manage Liverpool also played for Bishops before the Second World War, of course before our time.

      Auckland Town were founder members of the Northern League in 1889 for only one year, but returned as Bishop Auckland 4 years later and won the League a record 19 times until 1988. Sadly they are now just an average First Division club whilst Crook Town like Redcar Athletic are in the Second Division. I have to admit though that most of these facts were gleaned from Wikipedia, but I certainly remember the Bishop FA Amateur Cup Semifinals against Corinthian Casuals, Pegasus and Hitchin Town as I was there.

  76. JW has been nominated for December Manager of the Month. He probably deserves it but will it also be the kiss of death to our good run and a set back against Derby if he is successful! 😎

    1. Surely it has to be Gary Rowett of Millwall, or even Reading’s Mark Bowen, anybody but Woodgate (to resurrect an old summer sound bite). The curse of that award hangs like the Sword of Damocles.

    2. OFB
      I didn’t see much Northern League football in my youth, as Boro
      Reserves played in the North Eastern League with the likes of Sunderland Reserves and Stockton. If I wasn’t watching Boro’s first team, it was the stiffs at Ayresome Park or cycling to watch the now defunct teams of Redcar Albion in the Teesside League or Redcar Crusaders in the South Bank and District League where we didn’t even have goal nets. So as a proud follower of local football you can imagine how overjoyed I am that at last we at Redcar have a team in the Northern League that is doing the town proud. As I mentioned in my history of Boro, a Redcar team that used to play on Coatham Road the home of the present cricket team once reached the Quarterfinal of the FA Cup in the 19th century beating both Middlesbrough and Sunderland on the way, and Sunderland again the following year. And thanks also to Stockton who gave me the opportunity of seeing the great England Centre forward Tommy Lawton who played for Notts County in a FA Cup replay at Ayresome Park. Happy memories indeed!

  77. Well Randolph’s transfer is off because he is back at the Riverside for further treatment apparently then according to another source its still on and will be completed this afternoon so who knows?

    Mourinho has started his games by stating that he is interested in Djed Spence who apparently was in the same Fulham youth set u as Mourinho junior. Whilst the lad has done well its a bit early to even think moving to Spurs would be beneficial in his career right now. If he went he would no doubt languish for however long before being loaned out all over the place and maybe never getting a sniff of the first team. Staying here he has a strong chance of making the first team on a regular basis and if he performs at the level which makes him top six Premiership standard then it would be impossible for Boro to stand in his way. Just hope his advisers think long term for the sake of the lads career.

    There are still rumours North of the Border linking us with Aberdeen’s Sam Cosgrove although with the figures being bandied around I would be very surprised. On the other side of the tartan countryside Jordan Jones is still being linked with a return to Teesside. Not sure thats a good idea for either the lad or the club and think a move away from his former stomping ground may be the best move for him.

    Hartlepool Mail mentioned Woodgates presser:

    Woodgate was also asked if Boro’s transfer policy has changed following the departure of Adrian Bevington, the club’s former head of recruitment operations, last month. After a long pause, the Boro boss said: “I think my silence says it all. Sometimes silence is deafening.”

    1. Interestingly the same bit about Bevington was also in the early on-line editions of the Gazette but has now been “edited” (euphemism for removed). I’m guessing in possible breach of the terms of the separation rather than reading anything too much into it.

  78. In an era where we are constantly being told to give Racism the Red card, Wear Rainbow laces, “Kick it Out” or this weeks “Take A Minute” to think about looking after mental health, as part of the Heads Up campaign, the announcement that the FA are selling FA Cup broadcasting rights via a third party to gambling websites smacks of sheer insincerity.

    Clearly Gambling addictions and the suffering it brings not only on individuals but their families and even communities is something that the FA are not bothered or concerned about. I wonder if it would be different if the gambler was Black or from the LGBT community or had Mental Health issues. No wonder the game is in a mess when footballing authorities just seem to go from one own goal to another.

  79. So Jonathan Woodgate was today named as Championship manager of the month after guiding Boro through a superb December. We did lose once at Swansea but we all know why – we cannot blame JW.

    He fully deserves the gong as well as the whole team.

    I do not believe there is a course on winning the award. It is just a fact than the winners cannot go on forever with the form they had at the time. Or who would expect four wins from the next four matches? Really?

    Happy for the club and our manager. Up the Boro!

    1. Yes well done to Jonathan Woodgate and maybe I was the first to curse him as the potential winner in a post before the West Brom game…

      Interesting stat about today’s game is that should Boro somehow win at West Brom then it would mean no other team could better their six-game points total of 13 points from the last six games. Boro are currently 8th in the six-game form table but all the teams above them had won their first game of the six so can’t better their six-game points total – whereas Boro having lost the first of the sixth (against Leeds) would gain three points.

      So with only Brentford and Sheff Wed currently top of the six-game form table on 13 points it would be some achievement if Boro end the year as the form team – indeed it would probably mean Jonathan Woodgate getting the manager of the month award for December. That would be some turnaround for the under fire head coach if that were to happen and perhaps he deserves credit for getting though a difficult start – especially given the injury crisis and suspensions.

        1. The last Boro manager to win the manager of the month award was Aitor Karanka back 2015. Incidentally, that was also in December and Boro were subsequently promoted at the end of the season. Maybe it’s not a curse…

      1. Didn’t “Charltongate” follow on afterwards although we did then go on to be undefeated in ten games. I can’t see another Charltongate fortunately as I don’t believe we have the “characters” in todays squad as we had back then but with all the contracts coming to and end and futures undecided I hope I’m not tempting fate.

  80. Will be interesting to see the team against Derby because Woodgate actually has some options for a change. Plus there’s the Rooney factor. It was always going to go one of two ways. Rooney would either break the team or make it. Right now it looks like having one of the best British players of the last 20 years in your team is a good thing.

    I would go for 4-2-3-1
    Spence Howson Fry Coulson
    Saville Clayton
    McNair Wing Tav

    I would be strongly tempted to put Saville on marking Rooney. Saville’s a niggly player and may wind him up a bit.

    1. Is Rooney playing as a striker at Derby? Or in midfield as he did towards the end of his career before starting it over again?

      I haven’t seen him playing for Derby yet. Up the Boro!

      1. I’d imagine he will be playing behind the Striker, probably Waghorn, pulling strings in midfield as he hasn’t got the engine to go running around now. I agree with Deleriad above, I think Saville closing him down and limiting his effectiveness could be quite tasty and after the likely Yellow, Clayts can take over the role. I think rattling Rooney could be their Achilles heel.

  81. Selling Britt Assombalonga to Villa this month would make sense financially, as would selling Rudi Gestede back to Villa but the latter is unlikely to happen. I can well understand Jonathan Woodgate’s reluctance to lose Britt especially as it would leave Boro light of strikers for the rest of the season. One man who certainly has experience of the lower Leagues is Billy Sharp who has an outstanding record of scoring 228 goals in 553 matches, and at Sheffield Utd 88 in 175 matches. He has recently said he would like to stay at Bramhall Lane but if Britt were to be sold I wonder if Sharp might be persuaded to sign for Boro. I realise though as he approaches his 34th birthday it might not fit the profile of what Woodgate might be looking for, but he has been one of the best poachers of goals and age should not be a barrier if Boro could get 18 months out of him.

    I recall a similar situation arising in 1955 when Boro signed Charlie Wayman from Preston. Wayman too had been a prolific goalscorer who finished his career with a total of 255 goals in 382 matches. He was aged 32 when Boro signed him and he went on to score 31 goals in 55 matches in his time with Boro before losing his place to Brian Clough and ending his career at Darlington. What do other fans on this forum think?

    1. I was listening to the “news” about Billy Sharp on Radio 5 yesterday and thought exactly the same thing Ken. He is someone that could do a job for us. He is also someone Boro were once interested in previously and also that Boro fans were extremely supportive of him at a difficult period in his personal life, so he may be persuaded to spend a year or two with us.

      1. I don’t think Sharp wants to leave Brammall Lane but I wouldn’t be averse to him seeing out his days here. He has been a good professional and would be a wise head for some of the younger lads around him. As Ken has mentioned above I think he could do a Charlie Wayman,

  82. Just seen that the Spurs game is on live here in Oz, 7 am on the east coast, 5:30 here in Darwin. With regards to Rooney, according to the BBC, against Palace he rarely stretched his legs above a canter but made more passes and touches than any other player.

    1. The trick is going to be to close him down extremely quickly forcing him into playing the ball more quickly than he might want and hopefully to irritate him sufficiently to let his ugly side out.

      1. Sorry to break the bubble but I think Rooney’s temper left with his legs 2/3 years ago!

        Agree that close attention is the way to handle him though. If he’s the playmaker, stop him playing.

  83. Loved the comments(excuses) on the complete incompetence shown over Traore.
    To say that we had the intelligence to insert a release clause into a contract (a first) then to follow that by saying we were helpless and could do nothing but lay down and be trampled on, is to admit that we haven’t a clue.
    We could have informed other clubs that he was for sale and stipulated a sell on clause (plus of course a higher price)

    1. I think if you buy a player for £7m and have a release clause at £18m thats good business. Nobody would complain if someone triggered Britt’s £30m release clause or Fletcher’s £18m release clause. Of course if Fletcher then went on to Captain England lift the World Cup and be sold on by Manchelskiarsepool City for £150m then we could all beef about why the release clause was only £18m. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Reality was that Traore only started to show something when Pulis was here and even then he was lost because our set up didn’t suit his playing style and when he charged forwards slaloming past defenders he ran out of options as well as pitch invariably.

      He was only ever used as a pressure relief valve like at the Emirates for Karanka and by Pulis towards the second half of his last season. There is every likelihood we have release clauses for Dijksteel, Bola and Browne and if someone triggers them we can’t stop them. Agents insist on them being inserted to guarantee their own future earnings potential and to ensure that their client is not held back or restricted in their development. Truth is at this level and the state MFC are currently in Traore would have been held back so the Agent done a damn good job and for Boro to more than double their investment has to be considered good business.

      Barcelona won’t make a penny on Traore’s sale and nor will Aston Villa. I think overall Barcelona have a pretty good record in their buying and selling of players and perhaps know an awful lot more than Boro, Villa and Wolves put together. Nuno Espirito Santo has coached and developed Traore nad took him onto another level in the same way that Karanka improved him over the Villa reject he had become and that Pulis tweaked even further. Had Traore not benefited from Espirito Santos’ tutelage there is every likelihood that he would have continued his time at the Riverside running around like a one trick pony.

      Football is similar to the stock market, you buy low and hopefully sell high, that is what every Football Club in existence tries to do. Even Warren Buffett didn’t get all his financial dealings right all of the time. He at times lost a considerable fortune as well as making plenty. On the subject of Traore I think one of his many famous quotes is pertinent:

      “That may seem easy to do when one looks through an always-clean, rear-view mirror. Unfortunately, however, it’s the windshield through which investors must peer, and that glass is invariably fogged”.

  84. RR

    I think another point about Traore’s development is the fact that he is playing in a better league with better players than he was at MFC.

    When those around you have more skill and ability then it tends to have a “rub off” effect and in many cases improves your own skill levels.

    Had MFC some how managed to retain his services the I doubt that he would be showing the form he currently is and attracting attention from the big suitors. 😎

  85. After Adrian Bevington’s departure Boro seem to be trying Marty Fly as the Head of Recruitment where they go back to the future with Browne returning to one of his former Clubs Oxford on loan and Bola off to Blackpool. Let’s hope that when they return in the Summer Marty and his Plutonium powered DeLorean have managed to rewrite history.

  86. Traore still has a long way to go before you’d rate him in the £60-70m bracket. There’s no argument that he has pace to burn and has improved his final ball and shooting but I’ve watched Wolves many times when they are attacking on the opposite flank and he still seems to stand motionless about 30 yards from goal waiting to see if he’s given the ball. He never anticipates the ball into the box and never looks to get on the end of it. All his good work is done through receiving the ball and using his explosive pace – that makes him a dangerous player but it doesn’t make him the kind of player who will pull the strings and win you many games.

    He’s made four assists this season in the Premier League, which to put in context is equal 15th along with 12 others (so among the top 30 players) and has scored four goals, which is equal 40th with 6 others. So a good player to have in your team but he’s not yet an international player and I suspect this kind of valuation is the usual hype.

    1. It is very rarely that the chief football writers of the four leading newspapers contribute one-two page spreads on one player for a medium sized club who were supposed to be propping up the prem this season.
      They laid out in detail his many talents, and his good habits (no fouling or diving)
      They waxed lyrical about his danger if his opponent was left unsupported, and they certainly were of the very firm opinion that to let him enter your penalty area from front centre was to concede a goal.
      Followed shortly by reports of offers in the region of 70-90 million by a string of giants.
      We shall see?

  87. I believe we have what it takes to nullify the impact of Derby’s new play thing and so sticking my neck out for a 2-0 scoreline as Rampant Reds Run Roughshod over Rooney’s Raggard Rams….

  88. I’m not sure Billy Sharp would be a good buy or loan. He’d struggle in our team for same reasons Britt does, both lack the pace which Fletcher has.

    I’ll be happy for Rooney to take all the headlines as long as we take all the points. Hopefully Clayts and Saville are clever enough to take turns in marking Rooney.

    If we can shackle Rooney, and we don’t self-destruct, then we should be good for at least a point.

  89. I am looking forward to tomorrows game with a passion for a great result. I have no time for Wayne Rooney as a person. Hopefully we will run him out of town with his hairpiece and his ego in tatters.

  90. With respect to K P in Spain (and others) I am not prepared to write off Bola and Browne, both have just turned 22 and have a lot to learn, hence them going out on loan to get game time. From the couple of appearances I have seen at the Riverside by both, in my opinion, they both have shown in flashes to have potential.

    Top teams like Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool etc, identify young talent then send them out on loan (quite often to the selling club) to gain experience and develop, which in my eyes is (maybe to a lesser degree) what MFC are doing.

    Let’s just say Boro left Bola and Browne at their respective clubs until this next summer and they continued to improve and develop, how much more would we have to pay, if we were not outbid by another higher profile club, then people would complain that we didn’t take the chance on them last summer.

    Not every young potential player bought by the wealthy clubs turns out to be a diamond, I suspect a high proportion are never heard of again. One of the biggest complaints about our recruitment team was that they bought journey men at the end of their careers instead of investing in young players with potential, now the club has seemingly shifted to that stance, are we really going to write off the first two after a couple of appearances in a team 1 or 2 divisions above where they were. Let’s at least give them 12/18 months to see if they make the grade, who knows they might become future first team fixtures or sold for a profit.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Sometimes with Footballers you can take one look and see that they are out of their depth. Browne seems to possess skills and trickery but appears to be a loose cannon but definitely has something deep within. Bola however is definitely not capable of being a Left Back in the Championship in the same way that Carlos de Pena was never going to make it at this level as a wide player, midfielder or anything else. Bola has no positional sense and cannot read or interpret the next phase of the game, he couldn’t have looked more lost if he tried. He may offer something as a left winger but thats just me being kind.

  91. Exmil

    I totally respect your view on the Browne and Bola situations. I also understand the need to allow younger players to go out on loan and develop which is as you say how some of the PL teams operate.

    We are, however, in a period of transition and both players were purchased on the basis of being first team players who were needed to fill gaps in our team which had been present for a long time.

    Are we really at this time able to purchase players and then send them on loan? I accept it is probably the only solution given they have failed to make the first team but it doesn’t indicate to me that our strategy is working fully.

    I do hope you are right that they will come back better players but only time will tell. 😎

  92. I think Bola was was voted player of the year at Blackpool both by his team mates and the fans. Must have some potential as a 22-year-old fullback, me thinks.

    So let’s see when he is back in here next season. Up the Boro!

    1. One point about signing Browne and Bola is the galvanising effect it has on the incumbent young players.

      Players who have worked their way through the development squads and fought to be in the first team only to see a young player brought in to claim their place.

      Coulson has been with the club since a 9 year old and both he and Spence have been a revelation this season due in no small part to having to fight for their place in the team.

      So signing Browne and Bola has it proved to be good business in the end?


  93. Not so fast guys, these are young guys leaving their home areas and coming to new town and area No one on here knows their personal status or situations. There could be a myriad of reasons why they are going out on loan. It’s unfair to degenerate people when you are unaware of the facts.

  94. I don’t think it’s wise to judge any of the new signings at this stage. They’ve come into a club that was in a bit of turmoil and undergoing change which is never the best environment to come into.

    Even experienced pros like Jonny Howson took a year or more to get somewhere near their level. Saville is still going through it.

    Most players take time to settle. Younger players often take a little longer. Players stepping up in class can take longer still. Coming into an unsettled situation can make the transition harder again.

    Browne and Bola may or may not make the step up but the fact that they haven’t so far doesn’t mean anything to me.

    1. I think it is fair to say Andy, that as has been said, JW and the Boro team were initially going nowhere until the second half of the Stoke game.

      I think it would also be fair to say that Wing as good as he was last season has struggled a little this, due to team performances and team formations selected by Woodgate. Would we send him out on loan?

      Possibly not all, but most of the players were giving poor performances in those pre Stoke games. So in defence of the three signings, I believe probably a signing we would have perceived as “good” would not of lived up to expectations.

  95. The young players being discussed in the last few posts? I think we should simply give them time and not pre-judge, one thing that is for sure they need to be playing not sitting on a bench so let’s see what they’re like at the end of the summer.

    My prediction for today’s match, well with true optimism I’m going for:

    Boro 3 – 0 Wooney’s Wams

    So it’ll be an OFB then.



  96. GHW
    I accept that we do not know all the facts so are only able to comment from an outsider’s perspective. My comments were more aimed at the “new system” of seeking to buy low and sell high which I accept is still in its infancy.

    We were told that JW had been tracking both players for some time and that they were recruited to fill longstanding gaps in the team which clearly at this stage they have not been able to do.

    At a time when the club is short of funds it is essential that if we are to spend money then they do it wisely and in line with the new philosophy.

    To have purchased two players for the first team and then need to send them back, after a short space of time, to their former clubs on loan for game time and further development does not seem to me to be how the new system was intended to work, particularly when you are short of funds.

    As I see it their two former clubs appear to have better got the better part of the deals so far; I can’t believe that they will be covering all their wages.

    One also has to question how much development they will achieve by moving back to a lower league and into what is probably their comfort zones.

    A move to another Championship side where they would be playing at the same level to aide their development would have been preferred in my view but perhaps not easy to achieve.

    As far as leaving home and coming to a new town/area is concerned; I left home at 19 and moved to London where I needed to look after myself in a bedsit for the first time in my life. I managed it and still performed as required in my job so it can be done.

    As I have said previously, I do hope this works out and does not end up again as another in a long line of recruitment failures at MFC but what is done is done and only time will tell.

    As far as today is concerned, I hope the lads are focused on the here and now and not on the glamour trip to London next week. Boro 0-0 Derby. CoB 😎

  97. The two (or three) young players were bought to be first team Players as supposedly highlighted in “that PowerPoint”.

    I have no problem in buying projects and if that is what they were intended to be (which I completely doubt) then sending them out on loan for development is fine. Sending them back to where they came however doesn’t strike me as “development” or certainly not any definition that I am familiar with.

    The problem was (and still would be had it not been for Coulson and Spence) that we needed Players bringing in to go straight into the first team squad. These Players were “sold” (or spun) to the fans as the new exciting. attacking way forward. They failed, plural not singular, not just the young lads, it would appear that one of those involved has either paid the price or walked away knowing the position and/or plan was untenable.

    If these projects were indeed a planned or intended outcome then who were the Players brought in to replace the likes of Downing, Besic, Flint, Braithwaite, JOM, Hugill etc. as well as the much needed Right Back, No.10 and crocked George Friend, especially considering that Shotton was supposedly signing for Wigan until the deal collapsed or was pulled at the last minute.

    For what was required which is the here and now they were clearly out of their depth and badly scouted, thats not the lads fault. For the sake of the Clubs fiances I hope they do come good in time and have great careers but for me its more likely they end up in Mansfield than Manchester or Merseyside.

    Then there’s the question about having Spence and Coulson under their noses and not being able to see the wood for the trees which comes back round to scouting and the ability or lack of it to spot talent.

    1. I wonder who saw something in Spence that Fulham did not? He has only been with us since last summer I believe.
      So more of a, no other option team choice, that has turned out well. To date anyway.

  98. A couple of thoughts on kids coming through. Didn’t Coulson play early season but was injured and is now back in the team?

    Djed Spence came through Fulham’s academy and we poached him. From what Woodgate says he has been talking to him all season as he has developed.

    That means both were part of plans.

    Browne and Bola, I just dont know enough about them but they didn’t appear to be ready for first team action.

    On to this afternoons game, speaking to Derby fans they would love a win, whoever wins gets a big boost away from the drop zone. A draw would not be the worst result in the world.

    I think I am of a similar opinion, one concern is that Rooney could be a big influence on the game.

    1. Our Youth set up and the costs invested into it would undoubtedly be part of the Clubs plans but at a different level to First Team Squad Recruitment which in itself is a Plan but not one and the same. At some future point in the youth lads development they will of course become part of the First Team Plan but the recruitment of Spence was for the Academy plan and to develop and nurture. Coulson has been at the Club since a youngster, both part of plans.

      Browne, Dijksteel and Bola were/are also part of a plan but of a more immediate nature and clearly in the case of two of them they were not ready. Dijksteel I think can make it but I’m not convinced he is a Right Back and suspect he will end up in another position regardless of whether its at Boro or elsewhere.

  99. My recollection of signing Bola was that he had been identified as the player to solve our problem at left-back and he wasn’t touted as a squad player. Coulson had emerged in pre-season and had started and impressed for Boro before Bola was signed – Patrick Reading had also looked promising in pre-season. Bola never looked like he was ready in the games he played – especially defensively and even Woodgate could see that as he was rarely selected.

    Marcus Browne, initially looked good when he made his early appearances but it soon became apparent that he had a tendency for rash challenges. I recall Some West Ham fans were not happy that he’s been allowed to leave on the cheap (a few hundred thousand was quoted). Whether Browne learns to play in a more controlled way back at Oxford is another matter – he does have something but with all players it’s a case of taking your chance and impressing, otherwise you will be overtaken by others and ultimately fail to claim a place.

    That’s the difference between what has happened with Coulson and Spence – plus they continue to improve and grow in confidence. Perhaps Fletcher is the best role model for these players – his Boro career looked to be over when he headed out on loan to Sunderland but has taken his second chance and now looks like the promising player we somehow signed for £7m!

    Still, I’d be inclined to agree with those who have pointed out that both Bola and Browne were supposed to be first-teamers signed with what cash we had left in the summer. The fact that they’ve gone out on loan back to where they came from probably indicates they weren’t as good or ready for the job they’d been signed for – not necessarily their fault but hopefully they’ve been told what they need to do if they want to return to Boro and play. I’d also echo the reservations from RR that they’ve gone back to the same clubs – that doesn’t sound like they will be pushed out of their comfort zone to develop further.

    I’d add that I thought Dijksteel had looked a much better prospect before he was injured and had improved with game-time – though now that Spence has taken his chance, it’s hard to see how he will return where he left off. I guess that’s football, players need a bit of luck and it’s the old adage of making the shirt your own once you are given an opportunity.

    1. Well I’m at the Riverside and the word is blustery and strong but warm 14%

      I notice wing is playing could be for some king range efforts which will carry in the wind and into goal !


  100. I should add that another reason Brown has probably been set out on loan is that he will get few chances at Boro if the two City loanees were signed on the basis they’d get plently of pitch time. If other loans follow on a similar basis it’s hard to see when Browne would get onto the pitch.

  101. Team News: The main news is that Clayton drops to the bench and Lewis Wing returns. Roberts also starts with Howson and McNair continuing alongside Fry in defence.

    Starting XI: Pears, Spence, Howson, McNair, Fry, Coulson, Saville, Wing, Tavernier, Roberts, Fletcher.

    Subs: Mejias, Wood, Liddle, Clayton, Johnson, Nmecha, Gestede

    1. Best game I’ve seen this season especially first half

      Roberts looks promising

      Other news

      Ben Gibson at Rockliffe this week and I don’t mean the hotel

      Saville been playing better each week since his wife left him and departed down south before Xmas !

      Need to get Djed Spence signed up to new contract

      McNair fault for their first goal

      Really really enjoyed it and I haven’t said that for a long time !


  102. I don’t think there can be any argument that Browne and Bola were signed to be part of the first team squad now and that sending that out on loan was the intention – of course not. If it were we’d have sent them back on loan immediately rather than waiting four or five months.

    My only point is that them going out on loan doesn’t mean they can’t be first team players for us in future and we shouldn’t write them off.

    Clearly those signings haven’t worked out as players for the here and now as intended but it doesn’t mean they can’t improve and play a big part in future seasons.

    In a way I think it’s quite brave of JW to send them out on loan and admit that they aren’t ready. It helps that they cost peanuts.

    1. I think Woodgate is simply admitting that they’re unlikely to get pitch time and maybe he’s clearing some room for further arrivals in January. Young players can often break through and look good for a season and then disappear – it’s up to the manager to make his choices but it’s not necessarily the ideal way to progress your career.

  103. Man Utd payed £10M for Wilfried Zaha. He was loaned back to Crystal Palace and subsequently to Cardiff before returning to Palace for a cut price £3.5M.

    He is currently valued at £50M+.

        1. Though that’s not quite the same as signing a player for £10m and then sending him out on loan before moving him on as Kane’s loans were as a teenager as part of his development at Spurs. I’m sure the majority of players who end up coming good will at some point go out on loan. Marc Bola is 22 having been released by arsenal at 20 and is now on loan in League One.

  104. Needless to say, Wayne Rooney starts for Derby as captain – will he be inspiring or will he be perspiring as Boro are too hot to handle?

    Prediction: Woodgoat’s Kids 2 – 1 Rooney’s Rams

    Goals for Tav and Fletcher.

  105. Well from “watching” it in BBC text, we appear to have the upper hand despite less possession. But with a goal up, who cares!

    Just need to hang on to the lead now………

    1. BBD

      They may have more possession due to the fact they are passing it around in their own half but not going any where.

      We still need to capitalise on our chances as they are far from out of it.

      Nevertheless a very good first half with lots of movement and some good passing/switch of play. 😎

  106. Very good entertaining first half where Boro could easily have gone in 3-0 – Ten shots at the Derby goal to their single effort. My only complaint is that I missed the goal after losing the MFC stream a couple of times – seen a replay since and was a good strike. Hopefully Boro can get an early second an then see out the game.

  107. BORO unlucky today, I personally think that with so many youngsters they are a bit naive on the ball and try to over complicate things. I am sure that they will learn the longer the play together.
    Howson was the pick of the bunch today.
    Him and Paddy at centre back, although not by choice, is working well.
    They are talented midfeilders and can carry the ball forward.
    This could be the formation that works.
    Opposition managers will need to figure out how to counter it.
    So I would not rush Ayala back while this run continues.
    Has the annual Leeds choke commenced?

  108. A draw was probably a fair result as we did not play as well in the second half and seemed to lose our shape.

    Derby changed their shape and we did not cope as well as we did first half, they seemed to win all the second balls that we had been pinching first half.

    Who knows what the outcome would have been if we had capitalised further when we were dominating!

    MOTM for me was Coulson with Fletcher having another good game in leading the line.

    Still a point and not a defeat and now 10 points clear of the drop zone. CoB 😎

  109. Good game today. We really look a good side going forwards now. The one who makes it happen is Tav but Roberts looks like he adds a new dimension to us.
    Although we conceded twice, one was definitely meant to be a cross and the other, though not a great clearance from fry, just happened to fall perfectly.

    We may not have won, but I get the impression that the players will still take a lot of confidence from that because even though we got a bit ragged in the second half the team feels like it believes in itself.

    OFB’s comments are interesting. Saville’s spent a year seeming as though he was just going through the motions on the pitch but the last few weeks he looks to be working hard and getting some zest in his game. I notice also that Gibson was back on the bench at Burnley today after returning from injury.

    On Browne, Bola and Dijksteel. I’m pretty sure Bola was bought as a back-up for Friend and to compete with Coulson. I think Dijksteel was bought to go straight into the team with Spence and/or Shotton as a back-up. Spence seems to have had a poor pre-season. I do know that we were meant to buy/loan someone to play in the front three and I think Browne may have been meant for the bench but recruitment let us down as did Browne. Given that no one in the Championship is likely to want to take Browne or Bola on loan and we have Roberts and Nmecha, it seems like a decent idea to send Brown and Bola for 1/2 a season to see if they can progress: it’s a better standard than the U23s and they both have a chance to prove themselves. It may be exactly the same thoughts that are going through Burnley’s heads with Gibson.

  110. Well for most of the first half Boro were smoking and far too hot for Rooney’s Rams to handle. Woodgate’s lively team even saw off the Derby second-half revival and another victory was almost in the bag but sadly in the end it was close but no cigar. Still, as the famous music of the Hamlet advert faded in at the final whistle, there still one man who can bring happiness – it’s Redcar Red and his match report…

  111. Many thanks RR you just keep on with “the positive ways man “ just to quote from Kelly’s heroes ! Or In this case woodys heroes ….

    Probably the best first half I’ve seen for two or three years in fact it was light years away from what we watched at the beginning of the season .

    I’ll go with your mom as Coulson he’s a real find and was doing dragbacks and trickery with the ball near to where I sit and I was totally mesmerised

    It does feel like a defeat but we must put chances away !

    Thanks for an entertaining match report appreciated as ever


  112. Thanks, RR,
    for another positive report of our teams improving momentum, loved the ” Ref blew for an infringement or more likely out of sympathy for the beleaguered visitors. ”

  113. Redcar Red,

    Thank you for the report, it was as good as the game sounded but as you say two points dropped. On another day Boro will take the chances but the misses stand out more in a draw. I hope Boro can keep the intensity going but the confidence must be growing massively.

    I predicted 3 – 1 and thought it was going to happen but at least we didn’t lose. How many points to safety? There’s a bit of Teesside or Boro caution popping in.



  114. Cheers for the report, RR, top drawer.

    It was so disappointing not to win but I’d rather we play like that and draw than scrape a point with a poor performance. Momentum continues despite a slight setback.

    Roberts looks an exciting addition who neatly fits in with JW’s style of play. Shrewd.

    1. I think had Roberts been fit enough to last the full ninety minutes we would have won the game. Derby came back strong in the second half but we dipped a little when Roberts went off.

      Positive is that it was entertaining and worth the admission money which is something that can be counted on one hand over the last two plus years. Coulson and Spence are adding energy and pace with skill, Tav is now going up a level and Wing is looking much better further forward. Fry is getting back to his best stepping up in Ayala’s absence. Pears seems capable and will improve with more games, Fletcher looks like the Player we thought we originally signed and as mentioned Roberts is going to be a fans favourite and looks like the Player I saw at Celtic.

      Finally Howson is simply indispensable, puts his heart and soul into every game. Saville is in his best form since arriving and of course McNair has been the man of the match on many occasions. Its looking like there is a framework for a young and dynamic side emerging that If we learn to close down quicker and start putting away those chances could surprise us.

  115. RR

    Thanks for the report, a couple of points dropped but I suspect both sides will be ok maintaining the gap to the drop zone, the Rams likely to be happier.

  116. Not having seen the match nor hearing a commentary I’m once again indebted to Redcar Red for his excellent report. I tend to hang on to his every word and believe in his judgement. No Quest highlights over here in the Algarve, but at least I’ll be able to watch the next two matches live in the comfort of my rented apartment. However the one thing that concerns me is the inability of Boro being able to put games to bed by some wayward shooting and missed chances, and I guess that is the one thing being a relic from the Pulis years. The last 4 home wins have been by a single goal margin, so it appears inevitable to me that Boro will come unstuck occasionally and I think we have to accept that under the present circumstances, but at least the football shown recently is a far cry from what Boro fans have had to endure during the past 2 or 3 years, so credit to Jonathan Woodgate for making that transition.

    One puzzlement for me is that the BBC and Sky websites give the attendance as 19,706 yet the Gazette quote it as 20,706. Now I realise that figures tend to include season ticket holders whether they turn up or not, but I like to keep official crowd attendance figures as part of my statistics, so am just wondering if the Gazette figure is a misprint. It might sound trivial to most Boro fans, but I am pedantic about my records and have still also been unable to find a quote of the attendance for Boro’s League Cup defeat at home to Crewe Alexandra earlier in the season. Once an accountant, always an accountant.

  117. One of the best performances I’ve seen in a while that. The tempo, pressing and intensity was again spot on from the start.

    As has been said the only criticism was not taking our chances. And how well do we respond to set backs? We might have still won it with another 5 minutes.

    Those of us who stressed the need for time and patience are looking increasingly vindicated. Whatever happens this season the foundations are beginning to be set for next year.

  118. Thanks to RR for his report and we should have won but for a white shirted man being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

    Good to see that the players are now coming up to the standard of Redcar Reds reporting!

    Pleasingly , the last few weeks has seen much better performances although we must be aware of complacency- this is Boro as we all know! Looking at the table is a lot better with 10 points away from relegation and 8 from the playoffs- as John alluded to, I reckon we are 10 points away from safety this season which looks achievable now as opposed to a few weeks ago.

    I have said from the start of the season that staying up is the goal and building on that and providing we can keep up the momentum with the squad we have, then next season is when we can push more as JW gains in experience.

    Interesting comments from JW regarding Bevington earlier and one wonders who was behind Roberts coming in on loan. He certainly looks to be a good player and gives us much needed positive play going forward. Let’s hope that he doesn’t prove to be like Besic and others who have flattered to deceive.

    Anyway, Tuesday on TV is game where we have nothing to lose and everything to gain although it will be, I suspect, a bit tougher than the first game. On the positive, I think with the team that JW is sticking with, playing against a better team, gives us more room …… perhaps!

    Fulham won’t be easy either and now that the Birmingham game has been changed, I will be able to make the trip north (albeit a long drive in the dark) before we head off to warmer climes for 3 weeks.


    1. JW was the man responsible for Roberts coming on loan. He said in the presser that he had followed his career closely ever since Fulham and had mad signing him a priority !

  119. Many thanks RR for another excellent report. Would be of interest if you tell us how you put all these reports together.

    Loved your comments about Rooney.🤣

    1. Physical and mental shorthand Malcolm with a few recorded thoughts. “5 wing crs hd fletch ov”

      would translate as

      “Five minutes into the game a cross from Lewis Wing was met by Fletcher but his headed effort went over much to the relief of XXXXXX’s Keeper XXXXXX”

      Then there is a bit of memory coming into play such as the surface being greasy, the Keeper perhaps being stranded or protests for a corner etc. when I relive it during writing it up.

  120. Sixty thousand fans and the Celtic manager did not want Patrick Roberts to leave Parkhead, here is the story. Glad we have got him.

    Patrick Roberts helped Celtic win three Scottish Premiership titles; now he cannot buy a game on loan at Norwich from Manchester City.

    Almost two years ago, Manchester City conceded a brilliant individual goal in the group stages of the Champions League when a sprightly young winger cut inside and fizzed a laser-like shot into the bottom corner of Willy Caballero’s goal.

    But it wasn’t just the nature of the finish that made this goal so special. It was scored, of course, by Patrick Roberts; the Celtic winger who was on loan at Parkhead from none other than Manchester City.

    In the autumn of 2017, Roberts was in the form of his life. He was going from strength to strength under Brendan Rodgers at Celtic and comparisons with Lionel Messi (thanks to his wand of a left foot and ability to breeze past full-backs while barely breaking stride) didn’t look a million miles wide of the mark.And as Roberts left his parent club red faced on the biggest stage of all, few would have expected that, two years on, the former Fulham wonder-kid would have slipped so rapidly from view.The 22-year-old finally bid an emotional farewell to Celtic in the summer of 2018 when his third loan spell in Glasgow came to an end and, in the last year-and-a-half, he has played just 620 minutes of league football.

    Roberts failed to earn the trust of Girona coach Eusebio during a forgettable spell in Spain, starting six La Liga matches. That is still six more than he has made since joining Norwich City on loan over the summer with Canaries coach Daniel Farke seemingly reluctant to place his trust in a talented yet enigmatic youngster.Yet, given the chance, Celtic fans would still welcome Roberts back in a heartbeat.

    1. I was talking to Gary Gill this morning and we had a chat about Roberts.

      “He’s a great little player” Gary said and I have to agree with him


      1. I remember being very impressed with Roberts at Celtic and thought we should go for him. When I googled him I found out that he was on loan from Man City and figured that put him outside of our affordability and to be honest figured he would break into the City side with ease.

        Don’t know much about Nmecha but City obviously see something in him so it could be an interesting acquisition. I just hope he isn’t a modern day Alex Nimely.

  121. As we feel short-changed by 13 points from 15, I still feel that we should have won. Gutted even.

    But let’s hope for a similar performance at Fulhan (in the league). The game at Spurs is an extra. Up the Boro!

    1. Jarkko
      I can understand why some folk were disappointed that Boro didn’t hang on for the win yesterday. But as Boro are unlikely to be relegated nor reach the playoffs this season, in the great scheme of things I don’t think it really mattered; think of this season as a dress rehearsal and that everything will fall into place next season. Easy to say I know, but Jonathan Woodgate has stated that there will be matches that we’re expected to win and deserve to win but don’t, that’s the nature of playing with young players. I hope that doesn’t sound condescending, but at my age I tend to think ‘Que sera, sera’, and that’s been my attitude certainly in the latter years of my life as a Boro fan. In the main the good years have exceeded the bad years and I’m sure Boro have already started to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes whether I’m around to see it or not.

  122. Nobody mentioned that Fletcher should have been awarded a penalty except for RR.

    I’ve looked at it three or four times and it’s a stonewall!


  123. Great expansive report RR which brought back to life the live match itself.

    Good first half with some nice inter-passing football. Personally I thought the (makeshift) CB’s coped more than adequately with the Derby forwards, apart at times from the positional play and tackles we see from Ayala.

    Saville looking more like the player we thought we may have bought, apart from the goals, so a financial bonus there hopefully? Wing nearly back to his best form, however I thought Tav was subdued at times, but still was effective overall.
    Roberts a bright spark and again hopefully improve on the last two performances as he gets up to speed.

    Upfront however I think Fletcher, although working hard struggle somewhat playing alone. I still prefer two up front, which some may argue we had, but it did not quite work for me. Not sure what JW would if Britt was fit? Whilst I appreciate JW wants to give game to Nmeche, Gestede would of been the better substitute option IMO. I think the former has some work to do yet, but it is very early days.

    A good entertaining game, a disappointing goal on 91 minutes, but still on the upward curve apart from not taking our chances in the first half, which would probably have killed the game.

    1. With regard to the improvement in the players performances, credit must be given to Robbie Keane for the way that Fletcher has been transformed into a confident striker who is prepared to shoot on site and also has the ability to bring in others around him.

      I would also suspect that Keane has had a great influence on Tavernier as his forward play has also improved dramatically


  124. Old Billy, maybe it’s time to reflect on who’s actually playing the ball, or who’s playing the blogger, or simply making an aside, or a quip, then mediate their response accordingly.

    I was in a heavy (define heavy) “playing the man” joust about a year ago with a fellow blogger during the Pulis reign, don’t get me wrong, I was receiving every bit as much as I was giving and thoroughly enjoying what was happening, hopefully my fellow blogger was similarly enjoying the blog, custard pie throwing event, he seemed to be. Any way, I was tagged by another blogger during the joust as being antagonistic and definitely hacking the man down, never mind a shirt tug. It was then mid a very emotional flow, that I decided that it really just wasn’t worth the effort to contribute to the blog, if you can’t honestly wear your heart on your sleeve then why bother.

    I was seriously was moved by “Big Ken” to include me in his yearly verse, which lead me to post my festive wish to all bloggers, a wish I sincerely endorse today, you are all special people, trust me, you are.

    I have problems with the Back Dog, which despite constant feeding of Dentastix and liver treats, she still hangs around for more. She (my canine best mates are always girls) can’t type and therefore she can’t influence my blog contribution, but is constantly at my side. If what I say antagonises bloggers, and in any way upsets them beyond their acceptance levels, then I’m sorry, but I can’t apologise, it’s who I am. I’m certain that if I ever posted anything that was offensive or a personal attack on any other blogger, then the Meister would pull my post, who knows, he might even pull this one if it’s seen as too offensive.

    To cap, what I’m trying to say is, that this blog is the best thing on the ether and what keeps old goats like me looking forward to the next morning (Oz time,) to tune in and see the next exemplary RR match report, Werder’s headers, OFB’s insights and the contributions by all, the mix is endless. So, please, when you post, think about what you’re posting, what you’re posting about, as for feelings, blast away with gusto, just don’t make it persona, because BD will be around to see youl.

    1. PPP

      Welcome back. I always enjoyed your posts and missed them when they stopped.

      Thanks, as ever, RR. The best reporter on Boro games this or any other season.

      Like a few others, I’m not sure that we should be less than disappointed in the departure of Randolph if we don’t end up getting a good price for him. Pears has done well, but a young keeper only has to have a few wobbles for confidence in him to dissipate overnight.

      At Preston he almost let a shot from the narrowest of angles squeeze past him on his near post, followed this up by completely misjudging a high cross, and spent much of the second half glued to his line as a succession of dangerous crosses flashed across the Boro goal.

      To be fair he settled the defence by claiming a number of high balls under pressure, did keep another clean sheet, and none of his less certain moments proved costly. And I have seen some of the world’s best keepers make similar mistakes. Think Ray (through his legs) Clemence playing at Wembley, or Mark Schwarzer in the League Cup Final, both conceding Sunday League near- post embarrassments. But they had long and distinguished careers behind them, which contextualised their errors, and meant that they could recover from them. (Though whether we would have been so forgiving had Boro lost that final is quite another matter). A young keeper has no such luxury, and a few mistakes which happen to cost his team can be enough to set a career back for many years or even permanently.

      What we can say about Pears is so far so good, and so far so promising. But it is too early to say whether he will turn out to be the established Championship keeper we all hope he will be. And in those circumstances we should be less than sanguine about the probable departure of one with definitive claims to that description.

      Incidentally, Tav put in a titanic performance at Preston, a combination of high skill and non-stop running. Whatever else happens, he is one that we have to keep hold of.

    2. That’s a great post and thank you for the mention

      It was interesting yesterday at the game the youngish 30s guy begins me found out that I read and posted in Diasboro. He said that his father raved about it and said it was the most informative and well written blog on the planet.

      Take a bow Werder RR and everyone!


    3. PPP,

      I know the Black Dog only too well and the company on here with all the diverse and possibly antagonistic feelings help. Good lord even Spartak helped too. Did I say tha? Anyway the subtitle of this blog is, or should be, respect and that goes a long, long way. No abuse, just tolerance and pause to think before you reply.



  125. To help with yesterdays disappointment this makes pleasant reading:

    Its a shame the Championship started in August but its looking more likely than not that we will avoid relegation although never say never.

    Tuesday should be another fee hit. Go out and do your best without fear or repercussion and see where it gets us. Losing isn’t a big deal away to a Mourinho Premiership side and it would at least allow focus on survival or gatecrashing the Play Offs. To be honest I would much prefer a Play Off push than a Cup run anyway, the days of the FA Cup being glamorous have long since been tarnished by the FA selling ts soul.

  126. The rumours continue on the internet about the Randolf sale not going through, due the worse than thought thigh injury. Personally I would prefer him sold, his big wages removed and may be a little money for JW to spend.
    As we have moved away from the relegation zone, I believe we can now stick with Pears and how he does.

  127. Loved the match, full of flowing movement and chances, we were totally superior in the first half, but, of course we missed a few chances.
    They realised their limitations, and took the right action, i.e. Slamming the ball upfield into our box. It was a act of desperation with virtually no chance of success. Rooney took up position in front of our goalmouth with one object in mind, to ensure that the ball bobbled about in shooting range. A fairly hopeless task, until we helped them by keeping the ball in play near the corner flag with nothing on. Cue hopefull aerial cross which floated into the top corner. Hhhm!
    We spoiled their comeback with a well earned penalty, thank you Mr. Ref.
    Then blew it with another blunder in the last minute. When all hope is gone and the opposition know time is up, they are going to blast the ball at your goal, it does not matter if the shooter has never scored in his life, still he swings his boot. It is essential that when seeing a game out, your defenders are spread along your goal line, because they will surely be needed. One entire half of our goal line was unoccupied, an open invite to have a go, and he did.
    Even the greats fill the goal when faced with a desperate opponent with nothing to lose, including Liverpool and City.
    That said, I still enjoyed the match.
    Oh, one other point, why did we bring on a forward with 5 to go, our interest in scoring was zilch, our interest in boarding up the goal 100 per cent.
    Just asking.

  128. Hello all, a long time since I have commented, as it is a long time since I have been to a game. Having become thoroughly disillusioned in the late Karanka / complete Pulis period I have stayed away. I keep tabs on this excellent blog and remain full of admiration for those that have stayed supportive through many lean weeks and months. However a visit to family and the suggestion of my son that we take in a match proved to be a great idea, as I thoroughly enjoyed the game. Can’t add to anything that has been said on here – we should have been out of sight at h/t, defensive lapses etc – but I cam away very happy with what I have seen. Yes I want Boro to win but it’s more about having a real good go for me, if the players do that we can ask no more. Yesterday I’m happy that the team did just that, and I loved the fact we brought a striker on late on. Had Gestede had a clear tilt at that last-gasp header, or Nmecha got it into the corner….but not to be. However, I will definitely be along to more games, this is the Boro that I want to see.

  129. Boro 2-2 Derby goes down, for me, alongside a game I attended back in September ’07. Another 2-2, where we had our chances to put the game out of sight and were denied by a late goal, in that case from the late Liam Miller.

    Put that game alongside Spielberg’s War Of The Worlds as an experience I wish had ended a matter of minutes earlier.

  130. With West Ham supposedly having put a £7M bid in today for Neil Etheridge from Cardiff two things come to mind. Firstly that Randolph is worth more than the rumoured £4M (in my opinion Etheridge isn’t fit to lace Randolph’s boots). Secondly I would play Randolph tomorrow night at the “Not White Hart Lane but still in White Hart Lane and clearly desperately seeking a lucratively sponsored Tottenham Arena”.

    By playing him if he has a stormer it puts him in the shop window in front of a global televised audience and there is nothing like a good bit of free marketing and advertising. It also shows that despite some scar tissue (which a lot of professional sports people have) he is far better than anything West Ham or indeed many other clubs currently have available.

  131. Disappointing result against Derby, their first goal was definitely a bit of a fluke, the second we could have closed down, but overall a good performance.

    I was hoping and praying for a fifth straight league win, when did that last happen? I have no idea.

    Still Roberts looks a hot prospect and there’s every chance of a positive result against Fulham and hopefully some fun to be had tomorrow.

  132. I see Hull are interested in Martin Samuelson a 22 year old Norwegian lad whose contract with West Ham expires in the summer. The little bits (admittedly few and far between) that I have seen of him caught my eye and made me think there is a good footballer in there and one to watch for the future.

    His career seems to have stalled with West Ham but as a club they haven’t exactly had a settled management structure. Managers operating in a revolving door environment don’t usually give youngsters their chance. A big tall lad who can play as a midfielder, winger or even as a striker. Young, out of contract, versatile and I would reckon keen to get his career on track with a team that gives youth a chance. I think he is one that has possibly slipped under the Hammers radar (like Spence did at Fulham) and worth speaking to.

  133. The Randolph transfer saga, if nothing else has disproved the conspiracy theory that he wasn’t really injured but waiting for the transfer window to move.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Not entirely, Exmil. It may be that he’s carrying something but still fit enough to play and we just don’t want to risk it.

      It does seem oddly coincidental that both Randolph and Britt are injured at transfer time. Could be a coincidence I accept.

      My view is that if we are protecting the players from injury, that is a probably the smart move.

  134. If we do not shift Randolf this window, it may be more difficult financially in the summer when his wages for next season will be a big impact and his value will possibly have fallen.

  135. Is this a player Boro were interested in ?


    Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony has accepted a bid from Charlton Athletic for forward Marcus Maddison.

    Charlton have been given permission to speak to the 26-year-old, who has 10 goals in 26 appearances this season.

    MacAnthony says two other Championship clubs have made multiple bids for Maddison but “do not currently have permission to speak to the player.”

    Come on BORO.

    1. Its a Player I said we should be interested in but whether Boro officially were interested is open to speculation. At the amount which is being reported (£2.6m I think?) it seems a lot for a League One player whose contract is up in the Summer. Its a calculated gamble from the Addicks who are slowly sliding back from whence they came.

  136. It will be interesting to see if Randolph is on the bench tomorrow night or if he plays on Friday (providing he is still a Boro player).

    Come on BORO

    1. I think if he was a Striker or a Winger as an example his “scarring” may be an issue but he is a Goalkeeper who apart from the odd star jump to keep warm (unlikely at West Ham) isn’t exactly likely to sprinting all over the pitch like a demented Terrier every week.

      He played for the ROI and for Boro with it and whilst it may have been uncomfortable he didn’t look in agony, After a few months rest and recuperation I would guess that like any cut or injury it will leave a mark or scar of some sort but unlikely to trouble him. Maybe in his late 50’s he may have a few grumbles with aches and pains but I doubt the contract on offer will extend that far.

      What I find surprising is their alleged offer for Etheridge. Had Boro announced they were replacing Randolph with Etheridge at £2M I would be suitably unimpressed and questioned the value for money but for the money being talked about Cardiff should have bit their hands off. I did have a chuckle when I read somewhere that Moyes is now considering Declan Rudd from Preston but I’m sure it was just a tongue in cheek comment not to be taken seriously and wasn’t nepotism at all.

  137. I very much hope we play our standard team and use our (now) standard method of play.
    It is important that we gather more experience of match play than try to stifle Spurs.
    Looking forward to the game, all cup ties should be fun and the difference between the two leagues should help.

  138. Not too much should be written into this but prior to the last 7 visits to White Hart Lane Boro won 6 times there and lost 6 times in 16 matches. Selective period from 1974 to 2003 and clutching at straws as all those results were in the top tier, but Boro have been Spurs bogey team for a number of years, so if one believes in bogey teams it might be worth a flutter.

  139. For those Boro fans living abroad who can’t watch tonight’s match on the BBC there are several options including Viaplay in Finland, Denmark and Norway, Sport TV here in Portugal, beIN Sport in France, Diema Sport and Digi Sport in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Eleven Sports 1 in Poland, and Match Futbal1 and Spiler 1 TV in Slovenia. I can’t find any channels in Spain, Germany or Australia but hope the aforementioned channels may be of some help to our many overseas fans.

  140. OFB
    I love my wine especially red wine, but unfortunately now half a glass is my limit as I’m tired most of the time as my various
    illnesses are taking effect and as I’m enjoying revisiting old haunts in the Algarve I’ve had to cut back drastically on my alcohol intake. It’s not all bad though as the coffee over here is pure nectar, strong and black with sugar, and of course plenty of warm sunshine.

    1. Ken

      Yes I love my red wine especially after working in Spain for 2 years Argentina for 2 years and Paris for a year if I didn’t love red wine I would have been very thirsty !

      Let’s hope I don’t have to drown my sorrows this evening

      Enjoy the sun ☀️


  141. Skysports this morning said that Randolph is undergoing the longest medical as everyone waits on his thigh injury.

    I cant see Woodgate risking him. I remember AV saying Stricken’s transfer window was dealt a real blow when Gary O’Neill was injured and his move called off.

  142. Watching Boro on TV with my Dad tonight, like I did many a time in the nineties, noughties and 2010s. (I watched many of the AK games in the pub by myself.)

    Awesome, whatever happens.

    I took him to the Riverside once too – we were very well received by Sue Gardener, Sheila & Geoff Richardson and company. Me and Sue are still in touch today.

  143. It is being reported that the Hammers have pulled out of the deal for Randolph and have had a £7m offer submitted for Cardiff’s Etheridge, which their manager is willing to except.

    Come on BORO.

  144. I’m interested to see the team news in around 30 minutes as Woodgate has been talking of resting both Coulson and Spence and possibly Tavernier too. I hope that’s just mind games and not any desire to inadvertently please Mourinho with something resembling a secondish string line-up.

    Coulson and Spence are two players who could hurt Spurs and offer an outlet in what will probably be a counter-attacking strategy. OK, I understand we have a game on Friday but I’m expecting Jose to play another full-strength team as the FA Cup is probably his only opportunity to win something this season.

    Boro can’t really afford to go into the game tonight with anything less than their best team and I think Woodgate has already mentioned that if you don’t go into a match believing you can win then there’s no point turning up.

    I’d like to think Boro will give it their best shot and get the neutrals on their side in what is probably our most high profile game in quite some time with it being live on the BBC. It certainly would give everyone a massive lift if the team did indeed pull off a shock and with Spurs struggling to score of late they may be feeling the pressure.

    I hope it doesn’t go to extra time or indeed penalties as I may struggle to last until midnight – though I’ll give it a go if needed 🙂

    1. It is harder to stay awake sitting at home in the warm after a few drinks than it is in a cold stadium! And of course it is an hour later for you in Germany.

      I was at the Liverpool game when the penalties went on for quite a while…… that was a late night by the time I got home!

      1. Having been up since 5am (4am UK time) I’m going to have to pace my alcohol intake – especially as I’ve already had a couple of bottles of my favourite Krombacher Hell – though that’s just ‘hell’ as in ‘light’ in German parlance rather than being the drink of the devil. I’ll probably switch to the red wine for kick-off and watch with an element of sophistication.

  145. Well not long to go now and I hope JW plays the same team as the first game – if they perform in the same manner 5hen we could see an upset! However, JM May have worked out our system and with the home crowd behind them it could be a different game.

    I am going for a draw after extra time and Boro winning on penalties- Mejias being the hero!

    Beers at the ready!

  146. I’ll be happy just so long as we put in a credible performance.
    No prediction from me. Just going to sit and take it all in as it happens.

  147. Well teams news sees that in terms of games Woodgate only had half a mind – Coulson is rested and not even in the squad and Tavernier is on the bench. However, Spence starts and there’s a surprise start for Liddle in midfield. Roberts is also dropped to the bench and Nmecha starts up front with Fletcher. Saville is also rested on the bench.

    Starting XI: Mejias, Spence, Howson, McNair, Fry, Johnson, Clayton, Wing, Liddle, NMecha, Fletcher

    Subs: Brynn, Wood, Saville, Malley, Tavernier, Roberts, Gestede

  148. At least Spurs have also rested a couple of their big guns with both Son and Dele Ali on the bench. OK, Johnson could impress Bournemouth for Boro tonight and the wildcard is Liddle and we’ve yet to see what Nmecha can do. Maybe Spence will see Jose with his chequebook out at full-time – plus if Wing strikes another effort he may attract suitors too.

    Prediction: Time for another beer…

    1. Arrived back in Espana last night. So after a day catching up, ready to settle down with a coffee and piece of cake. Detox tonight.

      Just hoping for a decent performance from us and good performances from Nmeche and Liddle. Hopefully unearth another gem.

  149. 7.05am kickoff here in Sydney on BeIN sport.

    Sensible team from JW with a definite eye towards the Fulham game. I’m very curious to see Liddle.


  150. It doesn’t bet any better, losing 2-0 now. The opening mishap has sucked the life out of us. The defending for the second goal was ephemeral to say the least.

    Damage limitation looks the key because a battering could wipe out confidence. A five or six match run can morph in to post Xmas slump.

    1. I suspect it might mention something about hopefully it will be a game of two halves! On the plus side I think Nmecha looks a decent player and Spence is comfortable at this level – he’s going to be a good player.

  151. We do look like a much better team as the season goes on. There’s a sense that the players trust themselves to play their way out of a situation.

    We can now look forward to Coulson and Roberts coming back fresh against Fulham with Saville and Tavernier in from the start.


  152. Not disgraced on national TV and if not for 2 errors, would have been a different game.

    We certainly look a better side than early in the season and no reason why we shouldn’t push on to have a possibility of play off or at least a top half finish

    the traveling support was brilliant as always and many will be back in the big smoke again on Friday!


  153. At 2-0 down in the first 20 minutes many teams would have caved in.
    It was a pity that both Tottenham’s goals were basic mistakes and clearly they had many chances to score more goals.

    But to the teams credit they kept trying and came out of the game with a lot of credit.

    Spence continues to show a lot of promise and the new forward did him self no harm and hopefully with more fitness will improve.

    Hopefully this game where the team had to do a lot of chasing does not take too much out of them in view of the coming game with Fulham.

  154. Well, that was a bit dispiriting. If only we’d started to play a bit earlier. I thought we showed them far too much respect in the first half – so much so that I wondered if the FA had surreptitiously changed the rules before kick-off, for not once in the first half did any Boro player get in a tackle on a white shirt. Is it illegal suddenly to tackle? We just seemed to stand off them and let them run past us at will. The midfield were totally overrun. Poor Ben Liddle had a debut to forget, hardly touching the ball and looking lost. But Wingy and Clayton alongside him also had very poor first halves. I doubt if Spurs have had an easier half in a long while.

    We gifted them their two goals. Can somebody please teach Mejias when to play out from the back and when to hoof it long? He made some good saves later, but still doesn’t inspire confidence.

    The second 45 was so much better – tighter marking, a bit more bite, crisper and more accurate passing, and a lot more intent. Savile’s goal was good and at least created a bit of uncertainty in the Spurs defence.

    I thought Spence and Johnson had good games. Howson was his usual combative self, but was partly at fault for the second goal. And I thought Nmecha looked very promising.

    In the grand scheme of things, this defeat doesn’t really matter. We avoided a mauling and may have saved some key players’ legs for Fulham. Back to the bread and butter on Friday.

  155. I thought the 1st half of the Derby game was the best attacking home performance of the season though we failed to score the goals we needed/deserved. Spence and Coulson tore Derby apart with their speed and Roberts/Tav/Wing were a great attacking combination with Saville helping out more defensively. We are not yet clear of relegation as a few losses would put is back into trouble.
    Spurs was a match to avoid humiliation as the important match is against Fulham. If we hadn’t given Spurs 2 early goals we would have had them worried. Great noisy BORO away support.
    I have half a bottle of Malbec to get me through Friday!

  156. Ideal result really.

    Narrow defeat in which we eventually came out with some credit.

    No extra time.

    No more future cup-ties.

    “We can now concentrate on the league”, a cliche which on this occasion expresses
    the simple truth.

  157. It’s a common mistake to show pedigree opposition too much respect early on. This sadly wasn’t like the classic Etihad victory of 2015, which reminded me a little of Denmark’s equally classic 2-0 win by the same scoreline in the Euro 92 final.

    It was about mentality as much as game plan – they, and we, were so confident and so full of belief in what we were doing and how we were doing it that we were able to look our high-profile opponents in the eye.

    Tonight, well, even if the game *looked* over (2-0 Mou? That’s typically curtains) we kept on beavering away and regardless of lack of quality, there was always that hope that we’d get something, that we’d learn something from this game and not be disgraced, whatever happens. So it was.

    I’m not too disappointed. I’m quite proud. We’ve positive elements to build on and a little bump down to earth to remind us not to get carried away will do us no harm.

  158. I really enjoyed the game once we had settled in. I think we are improving all the time and when we click it is a joy to watch.

    Mistakes happen and in this case it was interesting to see the lads turn the game around.

    Based on that performance I think we are likely to climb the table and who knows even steal 6th place.

  159. Well there once was a time where when a high-profile FA Cup tie against one of the ‘big teams’ would have been the dream of every Boro fan. Sadly those dreams of cup glory are no longer what club and supporters ultimately aspire to as the priority for both is now the more mundane treat of three points in the next league game. Nevertheless, most hoped Boro would give it go and hopefully progress to the next seemingly unimportant round so they could demonstrate the need to rest a few more players. Anyway, here’s one man who is always at full strength and whose treats are never remotely mundane – it’s Redcar Red and his match report…

  160. Thank you RR. As accurate reflection of a match as you could have. I’d have to agree that young Spence was the pick of the boys in red. Sensible management pulling him for Tab with Friday’s game much more important to us
    All the same, despite us not playing our full selection from the in form team and gifting Spurs two weak goals, we were still in with a shout till the very end. Well done Boro.

  161. I have to say that the match was a poor advertisement for the once famous FA Cup. Reading all the comments on the BBC website Spurs fans are not happy with their team’s performance. They don’t like Maureen (Mourinho to you and I) and I can see why. Spurs (or Spuds as Arsenal fans call them) were a big disappointment, yet could still have been 6-1 up by half-time. Boro were woeful and in my opinion not much better in the second half, far removed from the team that played so well against Derby on Saturday. Sometimes statistics don’t give a true reflection of the match, Boro 12 shots, Spuds 16 shots, each team having 4 on target and Boro winning the corner count 7-4, for quite frankly Boro were outplayed by a poor Spurs team and were flattered by the close scoreline. Most observers (admittedly mainly the Southern press) thought it was
    a poor match and boring to watch, and I hate writing this, but I have to agree with them.

  162. Redcar Red,

    I missed the first twenty minutes because of a power cut, thank you for filling me in! As always an honest and accurate report but I think the eyes were more on Friday than last night.

    It’s sad what has become of the FA Cup, I remember waiting for the draw as a child to see who Boro would get out of the hat and although it would be nice to win it there are too many other cups and extended distractions. Then there’s the FA of course.

    Anyway now to watch the highlights, or lowlights of the first fifteen minutes minutes or so.

    Onwards to Fulham.



  163. RR

    Thank you for an entertaining match report which was far better than our goalkeepers performance !

    When Saville came on he made a big difference to the team and so did Tav

    One thing we must do is retain the services of Paddy and Howson who are two mainstays of our team.

    On to Friday !


  164. I would be interested to read what RR thought of Spurs new stadium and how it compares to other modern stadia he has visited. Access and amenities etc, particularly for the visiting teams supporters.

    1. Haven’t a clue GHW, last night was remote via the box due to work getting in the way.

      I managed to shuffle an appointment from Tuesday until Today otherwise I would have been driving during the first 70 or so minutes last night. Unfortunately I can’t shuffle next Tuesday around after the Birmingham game was switched as I will be in the land of Werder.

      1. Redcar Red, another great report I watched the match on the box but I could not of found the words to describe the game as you did. It makes you wonder if a lot of sports reporters are sat in a pub watching the game with a dodgy stream.!

  165. Well the definitely on/off move of Darren Randolph has now definitely happened as he’s now a West Ham player. Just as well as Aynsley Pears has done more than enough to keep the shirt – though Mejias probably has more work to do…

    1. One of my friends at the game posted that all Boro team and coaches went over to all the Boro Fans at the end and applauded them (save one)

      Rudy Gestede!


  166. Middlesbrough have agreed a deal with Swiss Super League side St Gallen to sign goalkeeper Dejan Stojanovic, TEAMtalk understands.

    The 26-year-old moved to Switzerland from Serie A side Bologna on a free transfer and established himself as the club’s number one choice between the sticks, making 34 league appearances last term.

    Overall, Austrian-born Stojanovic has kept 16 clean sheets in 81 outings for St Gallen but it is understood that Boro are closing in on bringing him to the North East.

    Jonathan Woodgate’s side are understood to have agreed a £1m deal for the goalkeeper, who has now been cleared to move after the return of Darren Randolph to West Ham.

    Randolph left the Hammers for Boro in July 2017 and appeared 42 times for the club, with Boro keen to wait until the Republic of Ireland international was off the books.


    Come on BORO.

  167. A quick and belated thanks to RR for another excellent match report and I’ve also been impressed with Djed Spence’s continued arrival as a players who seems to be unfazed by whichever players he’s up against. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Saville play instead of Liddle last night as it was probably asking too much of the youngster to make his debut against Spurs – I would have also liked to have seen Roberts and Tav – plus Pears would probably have saved us an early goal. Still it seems Cup games are just not important anymore and maybe it’s time to get rid of one of the cups and allow more space for one competition to be taken seriously – otherwise what is the point?

    1. Werder, not why the Europa Cup gets a place into Europe for those teams missing the Champions league. Micky mouse yes, but still a decent wedge of money, which it is all about now.

      1. The Europa Cup is another tournament that few would miss – for those who qualify it’s another reason to field a second-string team and it’s become basically just a safety net for Champions League teams who fails to get passed the group stages and have a chance to qualify for next seasons Champions League. I couldn’t tell you who got to the final last season as I never watched a single game. It basically causes fixture congestion for any team in it and ruins their PL chances.

  168. The Cup competitions are a vital source of revenue for the lower league teams, particularly if they are fortunate enough to get a plum draw. The fact that the bigger clubs place less importance on them gives them a better chance of advancing and gaining more revenue.

    It’s also a chance for the fans to get the experience of watching teams they would never normally see, and in some cases is the only opportunity they will ever get.

    1. 40% of the gate after Spurs Expenses plus TV fees made it a good replay for Boro

      The next round away to Southampton who don’t bring in massive crowds wasn’t a big incentive really

      We’ve done alright financially out of the cup this year let’s just move on

      All the fans who went should be applauded


  169. Thanks RR for another detailed report which reflected accurately on a display which early on was embarrassing.

    The final 20 mins was far better and just a shame we did not start to play a little earlier. We gave Spurs too much respect early on.

    I agree with Werder that this was not the sort of game to blood Liddell albeit I accept it was probably done so to rest others.

    I just hope that we can get something at Fulham. CoB 😎

  170. Sky Sports News also now reporting what Exmil posted at 1.29 that MFC have agreed a deal for Dejan Stojanovic, a 26 year old keeper from Swiss side St Gallen for £1M. 😎

  171. It appears to me that our manager does not think much of logic (he probably thinks it is the study of lumberjacking).
    Where was the point in resting a fit young goalkeeper? They do not run fifteen miles in a match, far from it.
    Where was the point in splitting up Tav. Spence, and Wing, they should have played the first half together.
    Why are we under some bizarre compulsion to play Gestede.
    He sent them out to be careful, and it was worse than awful, it was gutless, non challenging rubbish, Spurs had sent out probably the worst team they had fielded for many years, not much idea, not much talent. One of them clearly did not want to be on the pitch.
    We proceeded to stand like statues as they laboriously constructed attacks (I think they were using the “learn to play football by numbers system”)
    I hear the Spurs supporters were horrified by what they were watching and they were good judges.
    Back to logic, if you really do not mind going out of the cup, then why not instruct your team to go forward en mass that way the match will be great and you might win it?.
    A black day for this club, and the third? Cup tie in which we have disgraced ourselves.
    All featuring this coach.
    We were given a free pass by the press, because they are worried about Spurs, who were really bad (it could and should have been 6-0).
    Just a thought who will he pick on Friday night? as difficult as winning the lottery?

    1. In effect the team that played last night was a mixture of largely what would have been second and even third string players at the start of the season. Take away that clanger from Mejias and the 2-1 scoreline doesn’t look so comfortable e for a Premier League team playing at home. They were in control but hardly battered us and in the second half we gave a better account and came away with the majority of those involved fit to go again on Friday night.

      I’m no fan of Woodgate for a multitude of reasons but he done the best with what he had to work with last night. We were never going to win the Cup but we can hang on to Championship survival and with a mad nothing to lose push just might break into the Play Offs. There is usually one team that goes on a run and with Roberts looking the part and Coulson and Spence looking a threat at this level it could be Boro. Forest, Wednesday, Swansea, Millwall, Bristol and Millwall etc. all look vulnerable and perhaps none more so now than a Fulham side without Mitrovic (he has scored almost 45% of their Goals).

      Commercially Friday is by far the most important game this week and Pears, Coulson, Tav, Roberts and Saville are all likely to be starting rather than rested. That’s another 45% boost in Boro’s favour at the Cottage.

    1. Emil
      It is not venting my spleen, it is irritation at the complete forgiveness of everybody who should have been reporting what they saw.
      This is not the first time we have disgraced ourselves in some routine cuptie.
      It is true that the 2-1 scoreline was a blinding result, but for all the wrong reasons. Spurs could have had 6 , and that’s a fact, but, and this is difficult to even type, Spurs scored two goals which were not even defended, they could and should have had another four, that would be simple (help yourself to a goal) chances.
      I must at this point, stress that this was a pitiable Spurs side with no claims whatsoever to be a top six side. They will of course be beaten by Southampton in the next round.
      This manager is on one gigantic ego trip, forever picking unexpected players, and of course, dropping people who really should be in as a fixture.
      His match management is abysmal, when you get to the final minutes with a golden result in hand, the opposition desperately slinging shots at your goal, watching the ref for the final whistle, you do not stop the game to make some pointless sub.
      You are giving them time to take a few lungful’s of air, and to think, and check that there is actually four minutes to go, and to have a final attempt at a fluke goal.
      He is the tinkerman reborn.

  172. Many thanks RR. I was probably the only one who didn’t see the game as I had other commitments. But your report as usual told me the story of the match.

    As for the FA cup, it is no longer a serious competition like it used to be. I couldn’t even tell you who won it the last few years. For Boro, they made some money out of the tie and put on a respectable performance after two horror goals. I am glad that JW kept some of his best players out of it. The league is far far more important. So bye bye cup, see you next year.

  173. Another top notch match report, thanks RR.
    Also great to hear it was compiled from the luxury of your comfortable lounge, beer in hand hopefully. Not match chance of spilling any as the chances from our lot were very limited. Hopefully your glass was not in hand when Saville scored.

  174. So long, Darren Randolph. Came, did an exceptional job, and didn’t leave in a bad way.

    The concern now is how we will move forward knowing Pears and Mejias, not to mention our defence*, don’t have that extra bit of goalkeeping class to fall back on. How will either of our current duo handle the No. 1 spot? Or will they be intended to remain reserves while we go hunting for a “higher profile” replacement?

    *I’m thinking of synergy. The kind that Given and Schwarzer began to inspire instantaneously, but Valdes and Guzan didn’t.

  175. It’s a crying shame that the FA Cup has lost its glory with many clubs now not taking it seriously until the Quarterfinal Rounds. The FA Cup outdates the Football League by 20 years and the Premier League by a whopping 120 years. It used to be the highlight of the season and for the majority of clubs provided them with their biggest attendances of the season. The Football League Cup meanwhile was introduced by Alan Hardaker in 1960 based on an idea of Sir Stanley Rous to give the 92 League clubs the opportunity to increase their revenue. Now despite Boro winning it in 2004 it is one competition I would abolish for Premier League clubs, and also the Champions League and EUFA Cup in their present guises. The Champions League is a misnomer, as a club can enter it without being Champions of their domestic league, nor can it be called a league as it becomes a knockout competition in the later stages of the competition. We all know the reason for this, the filthy lucre. Personally I have no interest in the Champions League Final when it involves two clubs from the same country participating in the Final, but think back to the glory years of Celtic beating Inter Milan in 1967, Manchester Utd beating Benfica the following year, and Nottingham Forest winning it twice in 1979 and 1980 it meant something, British clubs against Europe’s best.

    As for the FA Cup the BBC does its best to promote it from the early rounds. Perhaps if season ticket sales included FA Cup matches and the Final reverted to the traditional 3pm kickoff with Semifinals reverting to neutral grounds instead of Wembley and Cup draws being made after all matches had been completed except for replays and postponements, it might regain its former glories.

    1. Ken

      Good post is interesting that you mentioned that season tickets should include FA cup games.

      Until I changed my ticket for another area of the ground this season I previously had included in the package FA cup and Carabao cup games up to 1/4 Final stage. So clubs are aware of this as an incentive to get bums on seats !


    2. As a boy I could tell you off the top of my head who the winners were of the FA Cup and European Cup (Champions League now) were going back two maybe even three decades such was my enthralment with it. I could probably also name three quarters of the Semi Finalists and scores.

      Nowadays I couldn’t tell you who the winners were for the last five years apart from the Liverpool/Spurs final last season. I can’t remember last season FA Cup Final at all but I’m guessing it was Man City purely because I think I heard it mentioned during a commentary this week but I can’t even be sure of that. I can’t recall the last time I watched the FA final in its entirety, certainly not since it was moved to five O’Clock or is it half five?

      As Ken says its all about money and unfortunately its killed the game as a sporting spectacle. The predictability of it and the obvious futility of it for 98% of the teams makes it like watching re-runs of Crossroads on loop. The Premiership is just one tiny step removed from it with some mild enjoyment from seeing “big” teams like Arsenal, United and Spurs struggle (relatively speaking) and the forlorn hope that one of them face the drop but knowing fine well that they will “buy” or more likely “dive” their way out of trouble.

      1. Re the FA Cup, I remember Yeovil Town as a non league club beating League clubs year after year, Port Vale reaching the Quarterfinal, York City reaching the Semifinal and taking Newcastle to a replay all in the 50s, Ronnie Radford scoring a wonder goal to beat Newcastle, Worcester City beating Liverpool, Wrexham beating Arsenal, Sutton United beating Coventry all matches when the top clubs didn’t rest players, Sunderland beating Leeds in 1973 when as I worked with many lads born north of the Tees I put away prejudices. The biggest surprises in recent years have been few and far between despite the big clubs resting players with perhaps Bradford City’s win at Stamford Bridge from 2 goals down and Wigan surprising Manchester City in 2013 to become the first town to hold both the FA Cup and Rugby League Challenge Cup in the same year.

        Every football fan became a Port Vale or York City fan in the 50s just like most of us became Leicester City fans when they won the Premier League 4 years ago. I guess nowadays that is the main attraction, a lower league club beating a top 6 Premier League club, the FA Cup Final itself becoming just another match to be forgotten by most people in the sands of time.

      2. RR, it was the same in Finland, too. The FA Cup final was like Olympic Games, just that it was an annual event.

        We saw a First Divion match on TV during our off-season (our domestic League starts in April when there is no snow on the ground). Hence I become a Boro fan. That was late 1960’s and 70’s.

        But still, everybody watched the FA Cup final on TV back then. For the normal matches there were no previews in the local papers, but for the FA Cup final there were.

        It was the highlight of the TV matches all over Europe. Only the World Cup final beat it.

        Unfortunately it is just a normal game on TV now. But still I, for one, keep on dreaming Boro to win the Cup Final in May. Even just once.

        Up the Boro,

  176. Good luck to Darren Randolph and I hope he leaves all those Hammer doubters choking on their Corn Flakes when they have to begrudgingly admit they were wrong about resigning him. By far the best Keeper in the Championship and I believe is now one of the best in the Premiership.

    Shame for Boro in losing him but thats the nature of the game. The big clubs can sign players for millions leaving them on the bench offering them lucrative contracts without fear of relegation whereas Clubs like Boro have to gamble with the risk that it could all blow up in their faces. The gulf in footballing wealth has now become a chasm not just between the Premiership and the Championship but also in the Premiership itself with the top six clubs able to out clout the rest in the division and even for them the fear of not qualifying for Champions League Football is a financial disaster.

  177. It looks like we are bringing in the Macedonian Keeper from Switzerland Dejan Stojanovic. I have no idea what he is like other than the usual Youtube clips where everyone seems fantastic. He seems a tall lad and fairly agile and has a good punch on him so lets wait and see, we certainly have no shortage of Goalkeeping expertise within our Caching team so hopefully they have had an input on the decision.

    More worryingly there doesn’t appear to be any CB’s being linked which is absolutely desperate other than the usual and now tired Ben Gibson stories. A return for him would signal the end of his career of ever making it at the top level of the game which would be a shame. The likely cost associated with him would not be a sound commercial decision for the Club but there again sound commercial decisions and MFC are hardly something that go hand in hand with the Chairman’s emotions getting the better of him on several occasions.

    The Blades Right Back Kieron Freeman is currently being talked about in the Sheffield Star coming in on loan but why we would want another Right Back is beyond me. I know that Woodgate said that he couldn’t rest Spence because he didn’t have an alternative against Spurs but that because two who could were playing at CB not forgetting Dijksteel when he returns from injury.

    Lets hope we are conducting our business professionally and privately behind the scenes and will be pleasantly surprised. I just hope that we don’t waste whatever slim revenue is raised on nepotism for the sake of it.

  178. I think I’m correct in saying that tomorrow I share a birthday with several other posters on here. I’m hoping that Boro bounce back with three points against Fulham.

    I’ll sit and watch the game with a celebratory bottle of Rioja and hope that they make it a good day all round.

  179. GHW

    Happy birthday for tomorrow. Have a good day and let’s hope Boro deliver your birthday present of three points. The same goes for all those sharing their birthday tomorrow. 🎂😎

    1. Yes it’s also my 82nd birthday tomorrow, the date shared by the late Muhammad Ali although he was 4 years younger. So it’s a coincidence that Boro should have a televised match for us all to hopefully celebrate.

      Incidentally I think I’ve converted a Benfica supporting restauranteur to follow the Boro as the first thing he asked me today was how Boro got on against Spurs. I explained to him about Boro’s rich history, how they were castigated for spending a record £1,000 transfer fee for Alf Common in 1905, how they bought a striker for £400 who won went on to score 59 goals in his first full season in 1926/27 and a total of 325 goals in 418 matches for Boro, and about Jarkko from Finland who adopted Boro as his team and flies over to Teesside at least once a season to take in 2 or 3 matches to support our club and even takes an interest in Cricket. He is genuinely interested about Boro though he’s never been to England although he has visited Dublin and the Temple Bar district.

      However like most Algarvean fans who support Benfica he has never actually seen them play except on TV. I happened to be in the Algarve 6 years ago when Eusébio died and watched the cortège driving with his coffin through the streets of Lisbon on Portuguese TV, and mentioned how he was highly regarded by the English public in the 1966 World Cup. So our friendship has developed through Football and I usually spend half an hour talking with him when all the other customers have left.

      I hadn’t intended to revisit Portugal after last year as I find air travel such a chore nowadays. I even took home all my belongings last year which I’d always kept stored over here for 23 years, and Georgio the restauranteur presented me with a vintage Portuguese wine on my last visit last year for ‘being a good customer’. When I arrived here 11 days ago completely shattered after arising at 3am and too tired to do any shopping, the lady in reception told me to give her my shopping list and she would bring it to my apartment on her way to work the following morning.

      If this is to be my last visit to the Algarve I’ll always remember the kindness shown by the local people here, but perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised as the Portuguese have always been our oldest allies. So muit’ obrigado to them, I’ll certainly miss them all.

    1. I suspect that they will be deducted the same nine points as Birmingham were meaning that they will go from 34 points down to 25 and level with Stoke, just outside the three relegation spots, one point above Barnsley.

      They will likely survive due to having enough ability to achieve more points than at least three other sides. The EFL will be seen to have done its job, Derby will write this season off in terms of Play Offs and nobody is relegated as a consequence and all is calm again.

      1. It looks as if SG’s protests have been vindicated. Unfortunately he will probably feel that any penalties imposed are too late given we missed the playoffs. 😎

      2. I think our missing the Play Offs can be put down to a few things, most notably that sequence of six straight defeats but specifically:

        Pulis bringing Assombalonga off against Brentford at Home when he was roundly booed and jeered. One nil up and we went on to lose 1-2, as AV described it at the time “Boro fans booed when Tony Pulis took off star striker Britt Assombalonga and put on a defender – much of the crowd knew what was coming”!

        The Ayala sending off at home to Preston when we again went on to lose 1-2 and even Alex Neil admitted “he’d have been angered by the Daniel Ayala sending off decision if the boot was on the other foot and one of his players had seen red for making the challenge”.

        For me the wheels started wobbling when Jack Clarke passed out in the dug out at home to Leeds and us switching off after the restart and ended up dropping two points when they equalised in the dying moments.

  180. A couple of summer transfer windows ago, I stated on here that Boro should look at the Genk striker Mbwana Samatta and today it is said that Villa are close to sealing a £10m deal for him. It will be interesting to see wether he becomes “one that got away” or “we dodged a bullet there”.

    Another interesting point is that recently I read that the Premier League were looking into Villa for breaching FFP this season and then they splash out another £10m or is Grealish about to move.

    Come on BORO.

  181. Yes Happy Birthday to GHW and enjoy the celebrations! I also believe it’s Ken’s birthday tomorrow too, who’s probably already partying in the Algave with half a glass of red 🙂 All the best to you both!!

  182. Looking at the whole goal-keeping situation one could say that the club has managed things pretty well. They identified Randolph and bought him for around Pds5 million which means that a sale two years or so later for Pds4 million looks to be a solid piece of business. They have developed an in-house alternative who looks to be a solid keeper who will only get better (Tick for the Academy) and they have identified a replacement keeper at what seems to be a bargain price and quickly sorted out the deal. When you add in the other in-house goalkeepers either in the squad, U-23 side or out on loan, it all seems pretty efficient.

    I just hope that we can find a utility defender (style Danny Baath) and we won’t be too far off what we need.

    UTB and happy birthday to all the celebrants.

    1. I read that West Ham also cancelled the remaining on balance on Randolph’s transfer to us (£1.2m) so in effect we made a small profit on the fees.

      If we assume that the new keeper is on, say, £20k/week less than DR was then we can speculate that the club has £4m in the bank and is about £1m lighter on the annual wage bill. Good business I’d say though we have lost a top Championship keeper.

      Happy birthday to GHW, Ken and any others!

  183. Feliz Aniversário Ken and Happy Birthday GHW and any others sharing the date. Let’s hope it is many happy returns from West London for the Boro tonight. It is not that many weeks since we would have been anxious about not getting drubbed tonight, but now there is a growing belief that we can win. Regardless of Fulham’s injury woes up front, I expect it will be a tough encounter.
    A draw would be a good result, but my heart is telling me we will nick all three points, 2-1, Roberts opening his Boro account and Fletcher carrying on his recent record scoring the winner.

  184. Well the 17th January has not been a happy date for Boro in my lifetime. Although I haven’t got my records here in the Algarve I’ve scanned every season since the Second World War through Wikipedia which shows that Boro have only played
    13 times on this date:-
    2015 Home Huddersfield Won 2-0
    2009 Away West Brom Lost 0-3
    2006 Home Nuneaton (FA Cup replay) Won 5-2
    2004 Home Leicester Drew 3-3
    1998 Home Ipswich Drew 1-1
    1995 Home Swansea (FA Cup replay) Lost 1-2
    1993 Away Villa Lost 1-5
    1990 Away Everton Lost 0-1
    1981 Away Man City Lost 2-3
    1976 Away Stoke Lost 0-1
    1969 Away Blackpool Drew 1-1
    1953 Home Stoke Drew 0-0
    1948 Away Stoke Won 4-2

    More often than not Boro matches on today were postponed because of FA Cup replays for the scheduled opposition, or because of snow or frozen pitches in the earlier seasons. So In fact we have to go back 72 years since Boro won away on this date. Happy birthdays? Hardly, but maybe today’s birthday boys
    are due a change in fortune!

  185. Well Happy Birthday to Ken, GHW and others who are “celebrating” today! Better not sing for you all as that will be in breach of copyright and also Public decency given that I can’t sing!

    Birthdays lose their appeal as I get older although I am having a big one in June – I really don’t know where the years go to and how I am now the age I am. As someone once said, to e old and wise you first must be young and stupid!

    Anyway, not football and let’s hope that Boro beat the historic records and have a win tonight to bring a birthday present to everyone- I do think that this very possible although will happily settle for a draw. So 1-1 for me which is better than I would have predicted a month ago!

    Let’s also hope that the EFL give Derby a points deduction although the same should be applied to Villa and Sheffield Wednesday perhaps? Time will tell but there must be a deterrent to stop other clubs doing similar or indeed any other fancy accounting methods.


  186. Mid January to mid February is the start of my busy period for maintaining some programming projects but I’ve just managed to squeeze in a new article before the Fulham game tonight. Hopefully it will see Boro continue to show they are becoming an attacking force and keep the warm glow on Teesside as they continue to warm to Woodgate and his team. Anyway, here is my take on events with this week’s discussion blog article…

      1. Interesting development if true. When he arrived on the scene at West Ham he looked destined for the very top of the game with silky skills for a CB but seems to have lost his way after several loan spells. He was with Augsburg on loan initially then they signed him up on a four year deal so they must have seen something they liked but he hasn’t appeared much for them this season.

        Maybe he isn’t settling in Germany or maybe he is a bit of a Traore type character who needs a cuddle and a bit of support every now and then. I don’t know what Augsburg paid for him but I reckon if we wanted to make it permanent it would only be around one or two million pounds. Ticks a lot of boxes, young, great potential but with a few dents and scratches that would hopefully polish out. Working under Woodgate would certainly help his reading of the game as a CB and it could be the makings of him.

        Perhaps a bit too young for what we would ideally need right now but I’d rather bring him in than splash serious cash on a seemingly injury prone Ben Gibson. It may of course be that the club want to bring in both especially with Friend injured, Ayala perhaps departing at some future point if his contract can’t be sorted and Shotton also heading towards the exit door.

        I think its something that I would definitely see as a positive if we get the option to purchase.

Leave a Reply