Climate on Teesside warming after the Boro gong show

Championship 2019-20: Weeks 24-25

Fri 17 Jan – 19:45: Fulham v Boro
Tue 21 Jan – 19:45: Boro v Birmingham

Werdermouth looks towards Boro basking in the winter sunshine…

As the climate on Teesside continues to show signs of unseasonal warming there are worries that the ancient north-east ice shelf of pessimism may be at risk of total collapse with a danger of severe floods of optimism engulfing the local landscape. While it’s not quite yet an emergency that requires an intervention from Greta Thunberg, it’s still a concern that the future of Teesside’s children could be blighted by overheated aspirations. OK, it’s still only mid January so there’s still time to experience the traditional pleasure of cold reality but thankfully Boro supporters only have five more days to negotiate the risk of disappointment this month. Indeed, it’s time to prepare for two football-free weekends of tending to prematurely awakened globally-warmed gardens while contemplating a suitable morally outraged position on Megxit to fill the void that exists in a post-Brexit world.

Despite no win in the last three games (surely just an anomaly caused by the distorting ripples created by the gravity of the manager of the month award), it’s seems Boro have finally found that winning mentality they lacked earlier in the seson. The club’s change in fortunes saw Jonathan Woodgate collect the prestigious footballing equivalent of the salesman of the month for his team topping the form table for December. After a Ricky Gevais equivalent handed him the expensively cast iconic sculpture, the almost emotional Boro head coach declared in his acceptance speech that “I’m proud, but I’m nothing without my staff…” before quickly adding “…and then of course, the players. It’s always about the players.” Indeed, the players have deserved that acknowledgement but surprisingly there was no mention of the ‘Me Too’ movement that many had expected at such occasions, though that particular movement on Teesside represented those supporters who had agreed among themselves that they wouldn’t return to the Riverside while Woodgate was still in charge.

Though while we were informed that the award is set to take pride of place on top of his son’s wardrobe (no higher praise other than glueing it to the ceiling perhaps), the award has also helped to vindicate Steve Gibson in appointing another young head coach. OK, it won’t necessarily prove to be decisive moment in his managerial career but it does at least mark a change in attitude on Teesside for many who had feared the club were going nowhere fast under the inexperienced gaffer. However, Woodgate is unlikely to dwell on the award and is conscious that he needs to continue winning if he is to keep ahead of the game: “Alright, I’m Manager of the Month now. But that can quickly change” – indeed it often does and no doubt will. If that wasn’t enough, Ashley Fletcher also bagged the ‘Goal of the Month’ award for December for his superb 30-yard volley at the Baggies and Djed Spence made it a hat-trick with the Young Player of the Month award.

More vindication for Steve Gibson arrived on Thursday as Derby County (aka Rooney’s Rams) were charged by the EFL of being in breach of their Financial Fair Play rules. Although, it should be noted that was for the period ending 30th June 2018 – so while the decision will be welcomed by the Boro chairman, it does appear that an 18 month delay in being held to account means it probably won’t deter clubs from gambling on promotion. Gibson’s argument has been that Boro missed out on making the play-offs to Derby in the following season by just one point and they had gained an unfair advantage by overspending beyond what was permitted. Mel Morris had sought to give the appearance of staying within the spending rules by selling the club’s stadium to what was listed as “companies under common ownership” or in layman’s terms simply himself. The stadium sale was rather luckily made just two days before that end of June accounting period and registered a profit of £39.9m to turn a potential three-year loss of £48m into just an £8m one with EFL rules permitting just a loss of £39m – still at least the accountants added 900 grand to the stadium profit to avoid it looking like they were taking the proverbial by picking that controversial figure.

Whether Derby will ultimately face a points deduction this season may depend on when the matter is resolved – The East Midlands club are contesting that they haven’t actually done something against the letter of the rules and it’s likely to be a semantic legal argument over the legitimacy of what constitutes an allowable entity to which something can be sold or whether indeed the price was fair or inflated. Whatever the outcome, it would either seem unfair if it was imposed with less than ten games remaining or of no consequence if it simply placed them lower in mid-table. Philip Cocu’s side are currently like Boro ten points clear of the drop zone with just an outside chance of bridging the 8-point gap to the play-offs. The precedent of Birmingham receiving a nine point deduction may make it uncomfortably close for Rams supporters to contemplate the possibility of relegation. However, sympathy on Teesside will unlikely to be in evidence with that memory of Boro’s relegation caused by our own three-point deduction for faxing a dodgy sick note.

Strangely, there was no sign of Steve Gibson and Mel Morris sharing pleasantries in the directors box at the recent Riverside encounter and perhaps it was just as well given that injury-time strike by Duane Octavious Holmes, which stole a fifth-successive victory from Woodgate’s men. I suspect the Boro chairman would have struggled to avoid the Rebecca Long-Bailey-esque stock countenance of appearing to be forcing a smile while simultaneously sucking a lemon as he shook hands with the Derby owner. Note: other Labour leadership contender facial expressions are available in the event of needing to portray indifference, surprise or even vague understanding in the event of losing – though unlike most of those it seems Boro still have momentum on their side. Incidentally, it appears the main criteria for a new Labour leader is to possess a suitable name that fits in with the famous White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” tune that is used to chant “Oh Jeremy Corbyn!” and on that basis it’s looking good for “Oh Rebecca Long-Bailey!” as the other are either a few syllables short or in Emily Thornberry’s case will probably need to marry Kier Starmer to reduce it to the right number.

Though the pressing issue at the moment is the cost of restoring Big Ben’s clapper before the end of the month in order to ring in the changes. Yes there are further rumours that Ben Gibson may be restored to Boro’s defence before the January transfer window ends – though many on Teesside are concerned that he may be all clapped out after disappearing in Lancashire under Sean Dyche and would prove to be nothing more than an expensive sentimental signing – indeed some on social media are even not bothering with the ‘senti’ bit. Still, Boro surely need to sign at least one central defender in the next few weeks to avoid seeing a back three of central midfielders. Apparently, Shotton is close to fitness but Ayala’s is set to be missing for the next four weeks, which is a minimum of another five games.

At least Boro have signed another keeper after Darren Randolph finally limped out of Hurworth and signed for West Ham. The delay to the least surprising Boro exit for sometime was it seems down to David Moyes having a thing about injured goalkeepers – apparently to lose one is unfortunate, two is careless but three would demonstrate something pathological that lies hiden behind that stare. Still, at least he would probably have got the gig for the next ‘Injury Lawyers for You’ advert… “Have you ever accidentally signed an injured keeper that wasn’t your fault?” Nevertheless, Boro have been quick to replace Randolph with the arrival of a massive six-foot-five Macedonian in the form of Dejan Stojanovic, who the the faithful on the terraces are probably going to need more than just a complimentary free pint to be able to chant his name to that White Stripes classic – though too many and inevitable slurring could cause some to be whisked away by St John’s ambulance staff as possible stroke victims. We can only hope for the sake of the hard-pressed A&E at James Cook that Aynsley Pears continues to show good form between the sticks. Sadly Tomás Mejías will probably be kicking himself for blowing his chances of getting his hands on the number one shirt after his second-minute howler in the Tottenham replay – though it’s possible kicking is not his strongest attribute and he should leave it to others.

Last Tuesday, Boro supporters had what’s often known slightly patronisingly as “a good day out” in the country’s swankiest most expensive stadium that the Spurs board are hoping won’t become ‘White Elephant Lane’ rather than the previous ‘Hart’. It perhaps sums up the hyped nature of football that the team managed by the world’s most successful coach in a billion pound stadium struggled to see off Woodgate’s cobbled together team of those who couldn’t be rested. On another day perhaps Boro could have sneaked into the fourth round but in the end nobody seemed overly keen on risking the chance of three points at Craven Cottage over the increasingly tarnished distraction of the FA Cup. It won’t go down as a particularly memorable encounter but Boro basically did enough over both games to leave their new-found confidence intact and allow themselves to both euphemistically and literally concentrate on the league.

Boro opted to remain in London this week to minimise travelling and have been training at Palace. So it’s a short trip to Fulham for another televised encounter and the opportunity to close the gap on the top six. All Boro can do is try to win every game and see where it takes them but while that notion would have been ridiculed only a few weeks ago, Woodgate’s team now look like they have a chance at beating nearly any team in the Championship. The arrival of Roberts on loan from Man City has added yet another lively direct player to the team, which with the rise of Coulson, Spence, Tavernier and Fletcher has transformed blunt Boro into a dangerous-looking outfit – especially if the promising Nmecha improves his match fitness. Scott Parker’s side are currently sitting in fourth spot and looking at making a swift return to the Premier League. While they recently beat Leeds at Craven Cottage, they have also lost two of their last four at home, including last time out against in-form Reading and also against the Robins. The other plus for Woodgate is that Fulham will be without their main man Mitrović up front as he damaged his ankle last time out – the Serb is the Championship’s leading scorer with 18 goals in 26 appearances. The Boro head coach now has difficult selection issues as up until recently the team has basically selected itself by availability.

Finally, Tuesday sees the rearranged home fixture against Birmingham, which was originally due to take place during the FA Cup fourth round fixtures. Pep Clotet still remains in charge of the Blues but his team have dropped down the table and are now below Boro in 18th place. Last week they recorded only their second victory since the beginning of November after beating bottom club Luton 2-1 – with the other one being surprisingly at in-form team Reading. Boro will be looking for revenge for the 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture where Woodgate’s team faced 26 attempts on goal from the Blues and only mustered five chances themselves. In fact, Boro almost came away with a point after an 87th minute equaliser from Ayala but sadly conceded a Birmingham winner two minutes later. That was back in early October when the head coach was still persisting with 4-3-3 but Coulson and Friend were injured and Shotton was playing left-back. Clotet will face a much more dynamic Boro team this time and hopefully it will be the team in red peppering the opposition goal.

So that brings the action on the pitch to an end for January but it’s possible it will continue off the pitch as Woodgate looks to reshape his Boro squad before the transfer window closes. The head coach has indicated that he also expects the young first team graduates of Tavernier, Coulson, Spence and Pears all to sign new deals in the coming weeks, which he claims will be like new signings. Clearly there are still some gaps to be filled and there’s still the issue of whether the club will look to cash in Assombalonga to raise more cash for the summer. There’s also the matter of whether Howson and Ayala will sign new deals and it’s also possible clubs will test Boro’s resolve with someone like McNair. While reaching the play-offs may require maintaining the December run all the way to the end of the season, the nucleus of a team capable of promotion is now within Woodgate’s sight and the future is now looking bright rather than the gloomy one anticipated.

344 thoughts on “Climate on Teesside warming after the Boro gong show

  1. It is being reported that we are looking to bring in on loan 21 yr old Reece Oxford, a former West Ham centre back, currently In Germany with Augsburg.

    Come on BORO.

  2. Werder

    Thanks for the preview that’s a really good post I enjoyed it as I’m sure did all the other Diasboro bloggers !

    Let’s hope for a win tonight and Tuesday


  3. As I mentioned earlier one has to go back 72 years since Boro won on my birthday. I knew it was a rare event but I was astounded that it was so long ago that I can’t even remember the 4-2 win at Stoke, but of course I was only 10 years old. Most of the matches were away from home, but nevertheless there does appear to be a jinx on this particular date. When I get home and have all my records available it will be interesting to see whether Werder, Redcar Red, OFB, etc have had better birthday celebrations than me. But I can’t get my head around it, 72 years is a lifetime for some folk. The jinx must surely end this evening or it could soon reach over 100 years as 7 years were lost during the Second World War. Like most on here though I think I’ll settle for a draw tonight.

  4. Werder,

    Very good, very good indeed, loved the line about glueing that pesky award (albatross) to the ceiling. Your article made me chuckle away as I read it. Let’s hope it’s the same when full-time comes.

    Filled with pessimism for tonight linked to the ‘Manager of the Month Award’ I’m going for Fulham 2 – 2 Boro because we cannot continue the winning streak or even start a new one can we? Over to you coaches. The new goalie sounds interesting, 6′ 5″? The coaches will have to stand on a box.

    OFB’s prediction worries me the ‘eyes in the sky’ seem to have gone on holiday, all this optimism is hard to take for a born and bred Teesside and Boro fan.

    Anyway I have six bottle of San Miguel Selecta left from Christmas, l hope I don’t need them all!



    1. Thanks John and perhaps those awards come with double-sided sticky tape attached – though I was struck by how plastic looking the actual trophies were – I think I’ve got a similar perspex one for a darts tournament I won back in 2006!

      Enjoy the San Miguel and plan for six but hopefully you’ll manage with two three’s…

  5. I was beginning to think that Randolph’s injury was so bad that Derek Redmond’s dad would have to be called to help him to the West Ham bound taxi!

    High on the fumes of extinguished candles and hyped up by jelly and ice cream I’m going for a tight 1-2 victory.

    Boro Show industry at the Cottage,
    ( a Craven attempt at some sort of wordplay).

  6. Team news: A few surprises with Fletcher and Nmecha dropping to the bench and a surprise start for Gestede who looks to have Roberts playing behind him. Wing is also dropped to the bench with Saville partnering Clayton in midfield with perhaps Tav in the advanced midfield role. Spence and Coulson return as wing-backs – unless of course it’s a back four.

    Starting XI: Pears, Spence, Howson, McNair, Fry, Coulson, Saville, Clayton, Tavernier, Roberts, Gestede.

    Subs: Mejias, Wood, Liddle, Wing, Johnson, Nmecha, Fletcher

  7. Echoing everyone above in thanking you Werder. Another good read with a few good chuckles.
    Repeating my prediction somewhere in the previous thread, 2-1 Boro (Roberts and Fletcher), but I’ll still be pleased if we get a draw.

  8. Gestede starting is brave call, and very hard on Fletcher whom I would have considered undroppable at the moment. Rest of the changes seem reasonable and expected.
    2.1 to us this evening.
    Fletcher to score deep in the second half to win it.

  9. I was originally going to predict a handsome win for Boro tonight given the prospect of our dynamic players with Wing back to scoring ways and Fletcher looking dangerous but the team selection has thrown me a little.

    Still I’d like to think Boro will win but I’m not sure it will be by more than a single goal – though we’ve certainly got options on the bench with Wing, Johnson, Nmecha and Fletcher!

  10. That looks like a good midfield set up to me with lots of attacking options. Hopefully Gestede can rough up the centre backs and create a few opportunities for our attacking midfielder’s.

  11. First thanks to Werder for one his best “laugh out loud” headliners since, ….well before Christmas.

    That is a big call by Woodgate and open to criticism.if we do not get a result. Clayton for Wing I can stomach away from home, but Gestede, Redcar Red will be apoplectic .
    JW did hint at a flat back four, so interesting to see. Need for a non Spurs start, on the front foot pressing and no excuses please. Apart from Fulham are fourth.

  12. Thanks Werder for your fortnightly (!) preview. You have managed to fit in all the current topical news items. Hopefully Greta Thunberg’s climate change predictions won’t mean the Riverside disappears under the North Sea before we are back in the Premier League.
    I am ready with a packet of crisps and my half bottle of Malbec (and a cake for end of match celebrations).

  13. Let’s hope it’s not going to be a case of setting yourself up to counter the opposition rather than setting yourself up to play your best way…

  14. Well Boro barely had a touch of the ball in the first half and were outplayed completely and lucky to still be in it. I think we maybe need to switch to a back four as Fulham seem to be playing without a central player up front and as a result Boro look light in midfield – may McNair should play further forward. Also with Gestede up front there’s nobody to hold the ball as he tends to flick the ball on rather than control it. changes needed at H-T.

    1. I’d be surprised if Boro could remotely meet the wage demands of Besic now that parachute payments have finished – especially if you think that Ayala has been told they can ony offer him a reduced deal.

  15. Well that first half really showed our lack of pace in the middle when we plays teams with it. Also showed Coulson’s defensive frailties especially against Knockaert (a good player) and then he could of scored a somewhat lucky goal.

    Need to change tactics and probably Fletcher on for Gestede.

  16. Most of the first half was a repeat of the Tottenham game and Fulham should’ve been three, four or even five goals ahead at half-time.The much lauded two wingbacks struggled at defending and Coulson was clearly at fault for their goal. Much of their attacking came down the wings and they look dangerous every time their winger got the ball faced by a Boro player.
    In , short, for most of the first they were run ragged.
    I wonder what the second half will bring. Hopefully to stop Fulham playing one touch football with Fletcher to replace Gestede asap and Wing brought on to get further up the field.
    Hope I’m able to write something more positive in the next hour.

  17. My birthday jinx continued. As Philip mentioned, a repetition of the Spurs match, but on tonight’s evidence we can forget about the playoffs. We seem to be a 45 minute team.

    1. Sadly not a birthday treat Ken and Fulham certainly looked a better all round team with sharper quicker players who passed it very neatly. Makes you wonder if it’s worth making the play-offs when this Fulham side were relegated from the PL last year and again with Norwich who were very good last season also struggling. We are not ready yet for the next level and many of our youngsters need to learn.

  18. Well Boro competed better in the second half and I’d agree the game was similar to the Spurs game. I didn’t really understand the logic of resting Fletcher and Wing and didn’t see anything special from Gestede to warrant him getting the full 90 minutes. In fact I’d say that Gestede being up front just encouraged Boro to play long balls towards him but while he may win the headers, the ball never seems to go anywhere in particular once it’s hit his head.

    Wing played some good balls when he came on but we lacked the final ball and there were few shots that troubled the keeper – perhaps the only ones that did we either deflections or crosses that ended up heading towards goal. In summary, the first half tactics left us light in midfield and we didn’t have all our best players on the pitch at the same time and as a result lacked the interplay we saw against Derby. I thought maybe Fry was MOM with McNair a close second but not the best performance.

  19. I know I said some time ago that I would stop having a go at Gestede, but after that performance from him tonight it’s very difficult not to be critical. He hardly won anything in the air and hardly ever held the ball up for runners to come to him, which is what one of the commentators said he was there for before the game. Totally ineffective; the only thing I can say in his defence is that the service to him was generally terrible. But that’s the price we seem to have to pay for having him up front on his own – it changes our style of play from the fast, fluent stuff we’ve seen in recent games to one of long balls punted up the middle. We must have done that twenty plus times, but all to no avail. I’m afraid I still think he offers us very little.

    1. Well Clive we posted both at the same time and pretty much saw it the same and came to the same conclusion – Boro didn’t play to their strengths with Gestede as a target man. Hopefully Woodgate learned the lesson too.

  20. Let’s hope we do not hear moans and excuses from Woodgate in his presser.

    Got out of jail when Fulham should of been out of sight. Poor substitutions IMO and too late to boot. Unless Tav was injured or knackered, why him? Gestede not even nuisance value and even Paddy’s dead ball kicks were not to standard.

    A match to forget or really a reality check against a team with pace.

  21. Very poor tonight from Boro. Tactics and team selection questionable. Reality is nearly back to square one. Still lots of work to do to keep out of relegation zone. Tonight was a reality check. Maybe staying in London for a week and not in familiar surroundings was perhaps a not suitable scenario. Once again the defunct FA cup has got in the way of continuity of the team.

  22. That felt like a game too far but you also have to say that’s probably the best Fulham performance in 18 months. They were faster, stronger and more talented all across the pitch: they looked like a Premier league team tonight.
    Still, there are a lot of good things to be taken from this. We never gave up, kept on pushing and could easily have snatched a lucky draw. I think the young players, Spence and Coulson in particular, have probably learned more in the last few days than all the rest of their career.
    I don’t like slating our own players but tonight we played with 10 men; Gestede had less than a zero impact on the game. His very presence meant that people kept hoofing the ball in his direction and hoping. He may be a “big unit” but he’s not a lone target man. He’s quite skilful, links up well and is good at keeping defenders off balance while someone else has the ball. Although tonight he was a negative, part of that was the shape and part was that Fulham pressed us so well we couldn’t get players close to him.
    Woodgate’s got a lot of things right recently but tonight he reverted to Pulisball. Hopefully he will have learned from it. Young managers like young players make mistakes, it comes with the territory. Successful young managers learn from them.

    1. Good post deleriad. The main point is Woodgate learning to, hopefully, his mistakes.

      As I said Gestede was not even nuisance value and altered our way we try to play. Saying that I doubt Fletcher would of changed much in the first 45.

      What the match did tell us, that we know already, is we still lack pace in midfield to track the opposition, when they have players with it.

      Roberts has shown he has something, not sure yet at all about Nmeche.

  23. Thanks for the link Werder; I was not expecting to be able to watch the game. I will have to accept that JW picked his starting line up based on his knowledge of the players’ fitness at the time though, in spite of his recent goal, I am never happy to see Gestede playing. He doesn’t hold the ball up and, even if we get someone up near him, he doesn’t seem able to head the ball in their direction (or on target at the goal!).
    As in the Tottenham match we were overrun in the 1st half but put up a fight in the 2nd. In our home match I was impressed with how Fulham played with 10 men for most of the time so I thought it would be tough in spite of the recent good run.

    I will return to my preseason aim that with a novice manager and young inexperienced squad we would avoid a relegation battle. Hopefully we will return to winning form against Birmingham (especially as my hotel was more expensive than I usually have to pay).

  24. A better second half but it was a bit huff and puff and not fluent attacking play.
    On balance the team were lucky to get away with a one nil defeat.

    Did we learn anything new? Not really.

    The two young wingbacks are good going forward, have pace but are not so good at defending.
    The sooner McNair is back playing in midfield the better. Unfortunately Clayton looks past his sell by date.
    Gestede will always win balls in the air but they rarely go to a teammate and he contributed little although the service was poor.
    The team doesn’t control the midfield and so provide ammunition to the forwards- as used to happen in the days of Leadbetter.

    I can’t understand Wing playing in a deep position when he is someone who is capable of scoring a goal out of nothing.

    Hopefully the players can regroup and perform at a better level for 90 minutes in the next game.

    1. Unfortuanately Philip, I cannot see Mnair in midfield any time soon.
      Ayala out for 3/4 weeks, Shotton/Friend still some games away and even a loan CB next week would take a few games to settle in.

      No, it is what it is. Woodgate is not going to try Woods by the look of it? Why? Let’s see how he does.
      We sold Flint, nearly sold Shotton. Really poor decision making by Mr Gibson once again.

  25. We were comfortably second best last night but that should come as no real surprise.

    No after-the-event complaints on the team selection/tactics from me. It’s pretty tough to rotate a small, injury-hit squad and keep everyone fresh through a very busy spell of fixtures.

    Fulham are a really good side at this level and have some lovely footballers through midfield and wide. As the division’s form team, no-one is taking us lightly now and Fulham turned up ready and switched on. They were terrific in the first half and we couldn’t live with them.

    Shame we had a cup replay earlier in the week but overall the cash will be worth more than the point we might somehow (but most likely would not) have gained with fresher legs and our best possible XI on show.

    We go again on Tuesday and hope to have some players recovered and ready to go.

    1. I agree that Fulham looked good but Boro made them look like world beaters in the first half. While I suspect Woodgate was motivated by the notion of keeping players fresh, it didn’t seem to apply to the likes of Spence and Howson, who didn’t look tired having played all of the games. I think we only stood a chance of winning at Fulham if we had played our best team with players who work well together.

      Also Woodgate could have played his best players for an hour and then rested them as players tend to get injured towards the end of games when they are tired and stiffening up. OK, I don’t know if some players are carrying injuries or strains and shouldn’t be playing but yesterday the team was nothing like as fluid as against Derby and Fulham had an easy time. The stats showed that Boro had zero attempts on target and that hasn’t happened in a long time.

      And just to add that the Boro players will all get 10 days rest after Tuesday so did we need to give some an early rest?

      1. I thought Spence looked very tired tbh. Perhaps more mentally than physically but he didn’t look the same player to me. A few others didn’t too.

        I don’t see a side that JW could have put out that would have won that game. In all honesty, I’m not even sure we could have got a point without a decent slice of luck.

        Maybe JW prioritised the Birmingham game. That would be understandable..

      2. Boro seemed to start on the back foot and Fulham were well up for the game and the early goal probably killed our confidence. Woodgate didn’t react to being over-run in midfield until half-time. OK, getting something from Fulham was never going to be easy but the tactics of playing long balls to an unsupported Gestede was never going to produce much and once we went behind it should have been ditched. I thought Coulson looked more tired than Spence but he was rested in midweek so it may well be a mental concentration issue for some of the young players as consistency is the key. Let’s hope for a better performance on Tuesday!

      3. Definitely, Werder. A far better performance needed next time out.

        It would be interesting to know if long balls to Gestede was JW’s tactic or just what happened as Fulham closed us and we lacked movement and guile to provide options. I certainly didn’t see a lot of simple passes not being made as a preference, I just thought that Clayton and Saville were completely overrun by a slick and energised Fulham and as such we couldn’t build anything.

      4. I can’t understand why we rearranged the match against Brum for next week unless it’s in the hope that they will have an eye on the cup tie with Coventry. With such a busy schedule of 3 matches against better teams than us it could have been played a week later. Not at all confident we’ll win this match now with a tired team, might even lose it.

  26. Well after another defeat in London and a fourth-successive game without a win, it’s likely Jonathan Woodgate will be relinquishing his manager of the month title. Perhaps it’s for the best as no good has come from it and has seemingly given the Boro head coach licence and confidence to tinker and change what was a winning team and tactics. Anyway, one man who perhaps deserves an award for reliving the game and putting it into words is once again here to explain what happened – it’s Redcar Red and his match report…

  27. I posted a blog that was very critical of our coach after the Spurs match.
    Exactly the same blunders repeated a few days later, only this time he decided that he liked Gestede so much that he wanted to enjoy his company for the whole 90 minutes.
    In addition the playing of incoming loan players, when you were on a run of good results with your young players, is very foolish, the two Man City loanees were not doing very well, so to bring them here with a promise of pitch time was dumb to say the least. He cost us two points against Derby by stopping the game with minutes to go, thus allowing them to clear their heads for a final thrash,(the Gestede fixation again) yet again not bothering to start the game until half time, as at Spurs, he’s not very good at this game management, is he.?
    This was a death foretold, and it could have been forseen because he is predictable, the same obsessions, the same undervaluation of the same players, the utter refusal to play Woods, and there are others.

  28. I saw the Sky post match interview with Woodgate this morning. Have to say that I think he is making a rod for his own back. The interviewer asked him a reasonable question and his response to her was somewhat dismissive and condescending.

    Somebody needs to take him to one side and tutor him on dealing with the media. An older more experienced interviewer one day day will rip him apart on the box if he continues with that demeanour. Indeed I suspect a few may even be relishing exposing his limited riposte.

    Fergie, Mourinho and a few others could get away with a bit of attitude but seriously, his management career hasn’t even begun and the question was the most polite way of asking him what all the Boro fans wanted to know. The local media are terrified of asking awkward questions or upsetting MFC and maybe its that surreal atmosphere that makes him think that his responses are acceptable, if so that temporary bubble will burst one day and no doubt with a bit of a mess.

  29. “Maybe JW prioritised the Birmingham game. That would be understandable..”

    I said the same last night. This always looked like one game too far and we still nearly came out of it with something.

    The game was crying out for Fletcher but he obviously decided this was Gestede’s chance and he was going to get 90 minutes which is probably fair enough.

    Three points on Tuesday and a bit of a break will do them the world of good.

  30. Thanks as always RR for your report. It was a shame that rather than reporting on another improvement in performances it was one akin to your early season reports as a consequence of a poor performance at Fulham.

    I was not surprised that we lost, as Fulham impressed at the Riverside and last night for most of the game were streets ahead of us in terms of skill levels, performance and speed of movement and thought.

    It was concerning that we started as we did against Spurs and there was a lack of intervention from the sidelines to change things.

    Our unbeaten run has come to and end, we just have to hope Tuesday does not prove to be another game too far. 😎

  31. I have to say that I agree with Werder that there would be no point in reaching the playoffs this season as we’re well short of competing against the likes of Fulham, Forest, etc and nowhere being able to compete in the Premier League YET. But we are a work in progress and at the moment were no match for a Spurs team shorn of Harry Kane plus several other senior players, not to mention the Cottagers minus Aleksandar Mitrović. I thought Spurs and Fulham, though having pace, were not only poor in their finishing but also wayward at times with their passing. Spurs with or without Harry Kane are a shadow of the team that reached the Champions League Final and Fulham never looked likely to avoid relegation last season being 10 points behind 17th place which is only 2 points more adrift of 17th place than Boro achieved 3 seasons ago.

    Nevertheless next season I would expect Boro to contest a playoff place, but being realistic it may take at least another 3 seasons for them to gain promotion after which one would hope that lessons will have been learnt not to throw money around with gay abandon. When Boro gained promotion to the Premier League last time we were as good as Burnley, and despite mid-season wobbles superior to Brighton, two clubs who made a better stab at retaining their Premier League status than Boro did. I would suggest that patience is required, because Boro are on the right lines, but as I say, a work in progress.

  32. Our winning run came to an end against Derby, and that was caused by our manager deciding that it was not luck that changed our fortunes by introducing our youngsters, but his skills and knowledge as a coach.
    He introduced two loanees because they came from Man City, plus his third keeper because he thought his first was tired? (he would be, all that running) add Gestede
    And a quite brilliant bit of very late subbing (about 5 to go?) you could not invent this stuff.
    To play like the local league players at Spurs, was foolish, (and painful) to introduce a player from the academy who was observably immature in a situation like Spurs was incompetent at best, and something a bit more objectionable at worse.
    This was bad.
    But to repeat the dose a couple of days later, with all the above faults, is taking the Micky.
    Methinks his days are numbered.

  33. RR

    Thank you for your match report and your unstinting support for the Diasboro blog which is the only match report I’ve had the temerity to read today

    Many thanks as ever much appreciated


  34. I thought that Fulham were really excellent and it makes it hard to know whether a different lineup would have succeeded better. It’s also hard to know how tired people were after the Tottenham game. In any case, I’d back Fulham for auto-promotion particularly with Leeds imploding..

    One positive for me is that Wing looked very good after he came on. I agree that Knockaert gave Coulson a hard time and that will be a good learning experience. The game also showed our frailty at the back with centre-backs who aren’t 100% used to playing there. My guess is that Gestede was picked partly for fitness (on the part of Fletcher) and partly to function as an outlet from defence in a game when we might struggle for possession.It didn’t work as well as one would have hoped and I assume thar we’ll see Fletcher back up top on Tuesday night.

    The start of the second half showed what we can do but ultimately Fulham deserved the win.


    1. I too thought Fulham were excellent and had a strange thought that perhaps we might be having a visit to their ground again in the play offs !

      I must be dreaming !!


  35. Belated thanks RR for your match report which cannot of been easy tp compile.

    Not many positives or decent performances unfortuanately, with the most disappointing a toss up between Gestede and Woodgate.

    Let’s hope for better on Tuesday.

  36. Redcar Red,

    I have just been able to sit down in peace and quiet and read your report. Excellent as always but what sounded like a game that was a flashback to hoof-ball, clog-it ball and anywhere ball.

    What does Gested offer to the team? He gets his on the ball but so what, or is our hoof-ball so accurate that we can pick him out and bounce it off his head with the same effect? Ball control? With a lone striker Boro are effectively playing with ten men. The substitutes seemed eccentric too.

    Birmingham next and we’re back to which Boro will turn up and which team will the coach select. Hopefully not the one selected to play against Fulham.

    The only good thing about the inevitable result is that at least feet are back and planted firmly on the ground, Gestede’s in particular, a top half finish will do just forget about the play-offs. The sights have been re-aligned to reality setting.



    1. It sounds like a swap deal but Ben’s wages will be the stumbling block.

      Personally I think £10m for Fry at his present form level is a decent price and if it eases financial burdens on the club or permits some additional (better level) incomings then I’d take it. That said we already need CB’s as it is but with Reece Oxford maybe arriving and preferably at least one or two others (assuming that Friend is finished and Shotton is on his way out) then now is the time to blood them and get things settled for the rest of this season.

      I still don’t think bringing Ben back is good for either Boro or Ben.

      1. RR
        It is the outside of enough for a bottom Fisher who got it wrong to the tune of 15 million, to be coming back with a cunning plan, which consists of unloading their disaster back to us, and taking our very good young centre back on the cheap.
        If you are going to deal with bottom fishers you will never get top dollar, so tell them that they have a problem and they had better deal with it.
        We really have not a clue about selling and buying.
        I wish they would keep quiet and shut up about prices, because they are there to be plucked like chickens.
        The leading club in the prem. is at the moment fielding a team with a gaping hole where their much loved captain used to disport himself at centre half, we should wait until they make their move, which they surely will in due course.
        Incidentally, we were right in saying (cruelly) that our great form was caused by our manager being forced to play the youngsters.
        His talent for falling in love with every no hoper whoever pulled on a pair of football boots is looking like it will end his career very soon.
        Like the logic of the recent excuses, as follows.
        1 ignore the disaster at Spurs, we wanted nothing to do with the cup. They did not try an inch.
        2 Ignore the disaster at Fulham, we were really tired after our great effort at Spurs, and besides getting beat by super collosall Fulham is nothing to be ashamed of, and we were really tired.

    2. That seems unlikely. I did see that Gibson is not even on the bench today. Might be injured but I think he recently recovered. Maybe like Browne and Bola he needs to step down in order to restart his career. Not convinced. Personally, though he may not be the player he was before his injury I would rather take James Chester as a senior pro.

  37. Well a lovely belated birthday present for me as I was up early to watch my favourite golfer Lee Westwood win his 25th
    European golf tournament at the age of 46 and a record now of having won at least one tournament in each of the last 4 decades. Hope he can now win a Major which he so richly deserves. Well done, Lee!

  38. Sometimes you get it wrong and Woodgate got it all wrong Friday ,
    You can’t play Gestede without wingers, we should have went 442, it would also have helped both full backs having support in front of them, Fulham’s tactics were get at us right away and knock it into the gaps wide.they new we were spent after Spurs.
    Its not just extra players we need,its options off the bench that allow you to change shape.
    We are still along way off, in fact considering what Fulham have spent and their pull, after twenty mins they lost their way a little,
    I won’t name names, but some players showed their difficulties.
    Good news some senior players on their way back after injuries.

  39. Friday night wasn’t a disaster, a tired team beaten by an excellent team.

    Woodgate was sensible in resting one or two players, the last thing we need are unnecessary injuries.

    We cant win them all and losing to a top six team full of premiership players away from home isn’t a sin.

    I doubt we’ll finish in the top six this season, but I van see 10th place being achievable.

  40. RR, whilst I can agree that 10mil for Fry would be decent money, compared to our 7mil for Flint…..not good business. I would rather take the chance that he develops to around a 15mil sale, or more even.

    1. You’ve got to hand it to Sean Dyche. Just when one thinks that their losing run of 3 defeats is dragging them into a relegation dogfight his team go and beat an in form Leicester. I know many Boro fans don’t like the man or his football, but when Boro eventually gain promotion to the Premier League he is probably an example of how to survive there, but I suppose Tony Pulis was also.

    2. The way he has “developed” this season has probably taken 20% off his value. Its a bit like the stock market, values can go down as well as up. Its all a question of when do you sell unless of course we are destined for promotion and Fry will one day become England Captain. Those in these parts who invested in Sirius Minerals will know the feeling all too well.

      Its unlikely that we are going to get promoted in the short term and it will require a massive upturn in Fry’s development trajectory if he is to achieve fame and fortune at International level. I’d put my house on it that it won’t be with the Boro if indeed he ever does make it as a leading Premiership CB, which I doubt.

      1. RR,

        Fry needs to take a long hard look at how well some recent transfers to Burnley have done. A great move on the CV or perhaps third time lucky?

        If there is any sense around he’ll stay at Boro and increase rather than decrease his value.

        Well you’d like to think so.



      2. RR
        If we follow the principal of “his form has fallen off”, take the first offer.
        Then we will be left with all the dead beats, and will assuredly wave farewell to, amongst others, Wing, who hasn’t crashed in a worldie for the last fortnight, Tav, because we haven’t ripped apart a team ditto, Fletcher, who didn’t play well at Spurs (he was dropped, but still) Spence, (same as).
        The entire idea of allowing the worthless to drive out the good young players is the logic of the lunatic asylum, and while we are on the subject, why are we giving game time to very moderate youngsters from a giant, they are not going to make it, but we are paying their wages to help Man City out of their difficulty, for gods sake, one of them has been playing in Scottish football.
        On the subject of youngsters from big clubs, can we make it clear that, the big clubs know who is going to make it, and lend them for very big money to some team they wish to help get promotion. They of course score about 25-30 goals, said team gets promotion ( about 150 million) great young player is snatched back. But they have still got 150 million.
        On the grounds that it is not going to be you, will you stop giving pitch time to these throwouts.

      3. Plato

        Roberts was playing Champions League Football in Scotland. Celtic fans are gutted that Lennon did not bring him back to Parkhead. The “giant” that owns him paid more money than we can afford to buy him for right now so that would rule him out of our affordability criteria. A few weeks ago the squad was staring relegation in the face and the Cub needed to do what was necessary to stay in the division. A drop into League One would be ruinous financially making a difficult situation even worse.

        Selling Fry isn’t ideal but if you can’t afford the wages of several players already on the books then needs must. If we breach FFP and get a nine point deduction next season when selling Fry would have solved the problem today then as tough as it is it would be for the greater good. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices.

        In an ideal world someone would offer Gestede a contract and pay us a £1m for him, Villa would come in for Britt and offer us £12m, Stoke offer £2m for Shotton and George Friend would be fit again. All the big earners gone and money in the bank to boot. Meanwhile because of all that salary pressure release and money in the bank Ayala, Spence and Howson all agree new contracts and we sign two CB’s and a RB and who knows maybe even Marcus Maddison to add some grit, goals and a Ramirez type spark.

        Selling your best young players isn’t ideal but we are and have always been a selling club, apart from a few very short Robbo years (and maybe 1905 when we signed Alf Common). Buy cheap (or better still grow your own) and sell high or as high as you can get before their market value drops. Usually you sell when the market is still rising because it is much easier when things are in the ascendancy, just holding your nerve for as long as possible but sometimes you hang onto your investments for too long, they dip and never recover their previous value. Ben Gibson is a very timely example of Boro getting it right and selling at the right time.

        The “dead beats” are mostly out of contract but we still have six months or longer of those high salaries. Those Players costs will hit the Clubs P&L and also limit our chances of bringing in fresh faces for the future like Reece Oxford for example despite the EG claiming we aren’t interested. If the books are sound and there is no foreseeable problem then there is no need to sell Dael Fry but I suspect that it will depend on if we can move a few others out including Dani Ayala quite possibly if a bid from faltering Leeds comes in.

        You can’t sell something if nobody wants it but for some strange reason the very things that we value and covet the most are the very same things that others would like to own. In life just about everything has a price, Football and its Agents are just an expensive version of people trafficking, commodities to be traded. Big Clubs now literally farm youngsters and have been doing so for decades. They buy the best available, invest a little time and money and reduce their outgoings by loaning them out like Cuckoo’s putting them in someone else’s nest. Bamford was a classic example, not good enough for Stamford Bridge but good enough for upper Championship/lower Premiership.

        The gulf in football finances is made worse by these practices as it means that lower league clubs who used to survive by selling their best players to bigger clubs now miss out on that necessary income and indeed have to pay to loan the very players that once upon a time they would have developed and sold on themselves. That same “giant” Man City signed Francis Lee for a Club record from Bolton when they had fallen from grace, same went for Colin Bell whom they signed from Bury. Both clubs are perfect illustrations of what can happen when that source of income dries up.

        Pallister, Mills, Souness and, Hodgson etc. are the reality of Middlesbrough. We, like Bolton have enjoyed good times but also have experienced tough times when we have had to sell the family silverware. Hanging onto them and building a team around them would have been and would be great. I look back at some of the Cars I owned years ago and what they would be worth now had I kept them in dry storage but the truth is I couldn’t afford to buy a newer one at the time if I didn’t sell the older model. Football clubs are no different as fans of Darlington and Bury can testify you have to sell to keep the finances flowing unless you come into a windfall.

        In hindsight we shouldn’t have over indulged (including the Pulis era where he was not quite but almost as bad as Monk) on binge buying, many of whom were distinctly poor value for money (just ask Burnley fans about Ben Gibson). Granted some you could have seen coming a mile away (we know the names) and why on earth we bought them heaven knows let alone what we agreed to pay them in wages but that damage has been done.

        We can’t ignore that damage however and the impact it has on the here and now. Parachute payments have ceased and the club now relies on gate income to pay wages that were subsidised by the sole Premiership season and nearly as much again in Parachute payments. That missing black hole in the accounts has to be filled somehow otherwise we might do a Bolton or perish the thought a Darlo or Bury. I’d rather keep Fry but if we can’t raise cash elsewhere then I’m afraid he is an asset that has immediate value and beggars can’t be choosers.

  41. A Fulham supporting colleague suggested we made them look brilliant, and I found it hard to disagree.
    Regardless of how tired Fletcher may or not have been, I would have played him regardless, and always ahead of Gestede. The latter’s presence meant Fulham could bomb at speed and in numbers, Fletcher may have given them a moment’s pause for thought. Also, I would never drop a forward in good form.

    I’m not calling for JW’s head, but if we’re looking for consistency above all other criteria in a manager, perhaps Steve Gibson should consider appointing the Manager of the Month award itself as Boro boss.

  42. I recently had a go at Fry and his performance lately , and he did stink, he as recently admitted it,
    I don’t think he became a very bad player, he just lost the plot like others in the team did,
    This were guidance is important, not coaching , you walk them through their talent and express their job and let others do theirs,forwards are different ,
    He is not the finished article yet, but the game is changing ,like basketball, were defenders have to be a more a marker and blocker than a tackler he is young , and going to a top environment would help him,
    £20m no less.

  43. Please remember Fry has had his first bad injury in 2019. He missed most of the pre-season and that must be the main reason he has not played now like the season before.

    As RR said he has propably lost a bit in his value. And hence Burnley are here. They want him on the cheap before his value go up.

    He is not getting worse but missed practically all of preseason. So still “recovering” and catching up. The worst time of getting injured is preseason.

    Up the Boro!

  44. Dael Fry would be mad to risk a move to Burnley after what has happened to Ben Gibson’s career there. Although Gibson desperately needs to escape Sean Dyche if he is to rescue his career – he’s just turned 27 and any longer without playing he’ll end up back in the Championship by default as Burnley offload him and pay him off.

    He signed a four-year contract nearly 18 months ago and has only played one game – while he may have been their record signing at £15m, he’s probably devalued heavily and I’m sure he’ll be leaving in the summer at the latest.

    As for Fry, Boro shouldn’t entertain a Burnley bid, especially at £10m as he signed a new five-year contract in April 2018 so still has over three years left – plus he’s still only 22 with time on his side and the last thing he needs is to end up sitting on the Burnley bench watching football rather than playing. I’m sure Ben will prove to be a good example in that department.

    Should Boro take Ben back? If he’s fit maybe a loan move wouldn’t be that bad if Burnley paid most of his wages – after all, he’s only going to arrive so Burnley can put him in the shop window to cut their losses in the summer. We would be doing Dyche a favour for depreciating a £15m asset by not playing him.

    1. Given our need for a centre back then a loan deal, where we could pair up Gibson with Fry, may not be a bad idea providing Burnley pick up a fair proportion of BG’s wages. 😎

  45. Daily Mirror reporting that MFC are looking to sign Reece Oxford on loan. A West Ham midfielder/centre back currently on loan in the Bundesliga. 😎

  46. It doesn’t make sense to me to let Dael Fry go to Burnley to probably sit on the bench especially if it is a swap deal to bring Ben Gibson back on loan. How are we gaining on such a swap deal as the likelihood is that if the signing of Gibson is to become a permanent deal in the summer I imagine we’d be considerably worse off financially in terms of wages paid out for an inferior defender. I get the feeling that this is another case of our chairman interfering in the transfer policy of his/our club, beside which re-signing former players hardly ever works. Perhaps in another world Steve Gibson might have had visions of becoming a football manager!!! We all have opinions of who we’d like to sign, but this is the real world not a computer game, and Steve Gibson’s opinions count for no more than any other laymen when evaluating a player or opinion on team selection. Let the manager/coach make the decisions, or what was the point in appointing Woodgate in the first place?

  47. Reece Oxford seems like a reasonable “project” but doesn’t seem like someone who can come in to the team and do a job straight away. He’s hardly played all season (and I think when he has, he has played in midfield) and is younger than Fry so it would be hard to see him doing anything but sit on the bench. Not saying he would be bad to take on loan and I can well imagine us doing so but right now we need an experienced CB who can play for the first time the day after we buy them.

    1. I doubt a club would want to loan a player unless they are going to get game time otherwise what would be the point for either club and the player himself. It does happen but I would guess if its a loan deal it would be with the intention to give him game time.

    2. I can agree with that deleriad…….but where and whom is this CB that comes at a reasonable loan fee plus wages?

      Generally loanees have not played much, see our two MC lads, months away from pre-season and fitness, maybe.

      Also just look at the players available that have been injured or are injury prone. It is no wonder most fail. The least risky is probably are probably EPL players dropping down a division and have that little extra skill to cope more quickly.
      Chester of Villa is a candidate, but is injury prone of late.

  48. Good to hear via the EG that MFC have told Burnley that Dale Fry is not for sale.

    We need to retain some of our star assets if we are to consolidate this season and then look to push on.

    Whilst DF has not been as good this season as last there are a lot of mitigating factors; returning from injury, playing in a back line with make shift defenders and on the left side when he is primarily right footed.

    Generally as the season has gone on he has improved. I have not seen, at his age, a better CB in the Championship and he is still one for the future. Selling now does not solve our problems in defence. 😎

    1. The Club financials may dictate the here and now rather than gambling on Dael Fry’s potential future development.

      We can’t shift Gestede and with Britt being injured its looking like we could be stuck with him until the summer. Shotton is another who we wanted to move out previously but with an injury its another that like as not will be hanging around. If we get no offers for the ones we want to jettison (i.e. the big salaries) then if we get good offers for those we prefer to keep but could replace then if it gets us through to the summer when contracts are up and rebuilding can start in earnest then its a bullet we might have to bite.

      Also bear in mind that fees in January tend to be inflated as clubs get desperate to maintain their position, climb away from danger or claw their way to qualification slots be they Play Offs or Champions League. Selling now may ensure a better price than selling later.

      If we want to retain say Howson and Ayala at whatever the maximum wage ceiling will be then we will need cash to do it. Likewise if we are to meet the FFP criteria (how embarrassing would it be for SG if Boro fell foul of it after all the rumpus) it may be that we need to reduce salary outgoings quickly or raise some capital. Batth was signed by Stoke for something like £3M which shows that there are CB’s out there that we could replace Dael with for less cost.

      1. From what I’ve seen from other forums it’s about a 50-50 split between those who think we should sell as they think Fry is not even worth £10m and those who think we should either hang on to him or hold out for a bigger offer. Also some would even do a straight swap for Gibson as they think Ben’s a better defender and don’t rate Fry.

        It’s case of Fry has potential to improve versus Ben is proven at this level.

  49. A lot has been said about Ben Gibson, but perhaps it’s just that he’s not as good as some people seem to have thought.

    Of course there could be many reasons why he hasn’t played in the Burnley first team that we are not privy to. But as far as championship football is concerned he would definitely be an asset to MFC.

    1. The Ben Gibson that left Boro would be an asset but a one game in 18 months Ben Gibson doesn’t sound like the same Ben at all. He also doesn’t fit the “Golden thread” criteria that was spoke of last Summer. Now it may be that SG wants him back and sees him as a younger version of Ayala and a Club Captain for the next few years through this forthcoming rebuilding phase but its a gamble and one that seems totally at odds with the blueprint that was originally presented.

      I have the same thoughts as Ken above, is it what Woodgate wants or is it what he’s been told he wants?

  50. Gibson has just been a bit unlucky at Burnley. When they signed him, it was a reasonable chance that Tarkowski would move on at some point (who himself sat on the bench for a year after he signed, behind Michael Keane). Added to that Mee and Tarkowski have had no injuries whatsoever so Gibson hasn’t had a chance.

    Dael Fry may not have been at his best earlier in the season but I’d be amazed if he doesn’t go on to be regular Premiership player. If Adam Webster was worth £22m last year then Fry must be at least £15m.

    (Webster of course who Bristol City signed to replace Flint)

  51. Personally I can’t see Dyche letting Gibson go unless the player kicks up a fuss or the Burnley money men do or Dyche has lost faith in him. As far as I can see, Burnley don’t need to get rid of him but, if they are thinking of putting him on the market next summer, it might make sense to have him playing regularly on loan for the rest of this season.

    The bottom line is that we desperately need a centre back until the end of the season and we probably need to take someone on loan. It’s a shame that Woodgate clearly doesn’t regard Wood as capable of stepping up yet. I wonder if because he’s a former defender that Woodgate is more aware of the flaws of defenders than players in other positions.

    I also really can’t see Fry being sold this season unless our finances are a *lot* worse than we’re being told.

    1. Therein lies the conundrum!

      After last Summer I would take what we are being told from the Club or the EG with a pinch of salt. That doesn’t mean to say that things are all terrible, I genuinely haven’t a clue and I suspect that only SG and his Accountants really know. Whatever MFC comes out at the minute with I could just about manage a sanguine smile at best (which is better than an ironic sneer I suppose).

      1. Jonathan Woodgate has made two quotes regarding Ben Gibson. “His uncle is the Chairman, it’s his, he can come In whenever he wants” and then “There’s two more weeks to go, let’s see what happens”. I find those comments rather cryptic as
        if any decision will be made by the Chairman not JW, anyone in agreement?

    2. What interest me deleriad, is why BG is not even making the bench. Not sure who the CB is that has jumped in front of him.

      Yes, I have wondered about Wood. May be as a defender JW can see some issues. Pity he cannot see the same in our bean pole forward.

      1. I guess JW must of seen something in this fellow as he recalled him then sent him straight out on loan to Alan Pardrew.
        ” They beat RKC Waalwijk 2-0, fielding a quartet of loanee debutants, including man of the match Sam Stubbs – son of Alan – who arrived recently from Middlesbrough.
        Nuff said.

      2. He may be injured again as he usually makes it onto the bench when fit. I mean, if we broke our transfer record to sign a defender then literally never played him for 18 months I think everyone on here would be up in arms about how useless our recruitment is or coming up with conspiracy theories about why he doesn’t get a game. So I have no idea what’s going on there. Burnley don’t exactly have the cash to spend £15m on a bench warmer.

        That all said, Woodgate’s handling of defenders seems the most erratic part of his career to date. Sold Flint, happy to sell Shotton, seems to feel that he doesn’t need replacements, sends Stubbs on loan twice and won’t let Wood off the bench.

    3. Deleriad
      It hurts me to hear Woodgate quoted as an authority on any player, Tav. Spectacular success, kept out last season as we attempted to kill the game of football, it matters, he would have an extra thirty games under his belt now.
      Wing, not played, then played nearer his own goal than the opposition goal, the only passer good enough to create chances on a regular basis. Or even score goals?
      Fry regularly played on the wrong side of defence, or fullback.
      Our young goalkeeper, doing great, rested against Spurs? Would have saved their goals. Goalkeeper tired? Come on.
      We are now providing game time for two of the many Man City youths, and paying for the pleasure, whilst players like Woods are left out.
      We will not ask what is the point of Gestede? For that would be embarrassing.
      Just in case you think that I am being unfair to useless managers, wait till Wing is loaned out? Yes, I know, impossible, an important part of the Wing, tav, Spence,Fletcher, foursome. Watch this space?
      I missed his unfortunate exchange of views with a (Female) commentator, but understand it will have repercussions. Should be funny, cant wait.

  52. Ken, it appears the Mr Gibson made plenty of decisions in the past that the current Manager did not agree with.

    Gestede and the lad from Watford. Bamford probably not?

  53. Unfortunately overseas work commitments prevent me from reporting tonight so I will make a rare prediction of 2-1 to Boro with goals from Roberts and Fletcher.

    1. He’s being rested in case of injury to the typing fingers, ligaments, tendons and repetitive strain and all that. Rumour has it that Burnley want him to report on their matches. Sean Dyche was overhead discussing it down at his allotment at the weekend.



    1. According the Hammers, he was a mega hot prospect 18 months ago who has failed to progress. You could kind of imagine us agreeing a deal with him in the summer depending on his character. Some players like (e.g. Jordan Jones) take a while to mature. Roberts has had 18-24 months of failed loans but he did have one successful season at Celtic which showed that he could come good.

  54. While much was said about Boro being the form team after narrow wins over relegation rivals Stoke and Huddersfield, then beating both West Brom and Preston. We should perhaps take that in the context of the Baggies having now failed to win any of their last six league games and Preston having just won one of their last six, which was at home to Charlton last time out.

    It seems those at the top are stuttering with Leeds having only won one of their last seven, which was that crazy 5-4 victory over Boro’s opponents tonight Birmingham. I guess we will see if Woodgate’s team can get back to winning ways this evening but maybe we need to be cautious about how good this team are.

    As for making the play-offs – well realistically Boro need to win a minimum of 13-14 out of their last 18 games if they are to get 73-76 points. So that probably means barely losing another game – especially if a few are drawn. Though on the plus side, Boro have only got Millwall and Brentford to visit of teams currently in the top ten.

  55. As I mentioned earlier it’s strange that Boro should bring this match with Birmingham forward considering the tough schedule
    they’ve had recently. Win tonight and it’s similar to an international break with the loss of momentum, fail to win and it might be said that our players needed a rest. No predictions from me, but I’m nervous about this match. I’d take the draw now, but a defeat is a possibility. I’d have been much more confident of Boro beating Brum in a week’s time than winning it tonight, just keeping my fingers crossed.

  56. Not quite an exclusive but…

    Gazette headline: Sean Dyche has his say on Dael Fry & Ben Gibson Boro links

    When asked about Fry: “Every manager is linked with every player, even more so now.”

    When asked about Gibson: “We have had various inquiries for various players of all levels.”

    What more is there to say…

  57. Will be setting off soon for the match and won’t be back til late. I will try to post some thoughts on what I saw in the morning but will be nowhere as good or comprehensive as RR! Trouble is, by the time I have driven home and slept, then this old brain will have forgotten most of what happened!

    The report may just consist of “ 3 mins in EIO EIO, 10 mins bugger, 40 mins EIO EIO and then 88 mins bugger”!

    Hoping for a good performance and a 3 1 win for Boro


  58. Tricky one today. After a bad spell Brum are starting to turns thing around while after a good spell we’re at risk of going the other way. We really *ought* to beat them so I’ll go for 2-1 to us: Roberts and Wing.

  59. Tonight very much depends on which Boro turns up. If it’s the pre Derby team then we should win but if not it’s possible that Brum could nick it.

    Going for a 1-1 but hoping we can shade it. CoB 😎

  60. Just paid my subscription and hoping for a return to how we were playing, on the front foot and from the first minute.

    Fletcher back to lead from the front…..Wing back from the start in a more forward position I would hope, but probably not with Tav and Roberts playing? At the back, what options does JW have unless he goes with a 4-4-2.. Possibly Spence on the bench. Tav alongside Fletcher, Wing, Roberts, Johnson and Saville.

  61. Team news: So a couple of surprises with Tavernier’s turn to be rested and Coulson not even in the squad for tonight’s game. Wing returns in midfield with Saville and Roberts as Clayton returns to the bench. Unsurprisingly Gestede also back on the bench as Fletcher and Nmecha start up front. Promising left-back Patrick Reading also gets a rare seat on the bench as does the yet to be tried Nathan Wood.

    Starting XI: Pears, Spence, Howson, McNair, Fry, Johnson, Saville, Wing, Roberts, Nmecha, Fletcher

    Subs: Mejias, Reading, Wood, Liddle, Clayton, Tavernier, Gestede

  62. Rather than Tav and Coulson being rested, it smacks to me of JW trying all his new permutations to find which works best. A bit of a perm any 11 from 20….

    Fingers crossed and I’ll put h a 2-0 for Boro

  63. I’m not sure how Boro will play tonight after another squad rotation but it looks like the right side will be the main thrust with Spence and Roberts. At least Fletcher returns but it will be interesting to see if Wing plays further up the pitch than when he did coming on as a sub against Fulham.

    I’m inclined to think it will be a close game with goals and maybe Boro edging it 3-2 – though hopefully they’ll avoid another late equaliser in a 3-3 for the neutrals (of which none will be watching)

    2 goals for Fletcher and 1 for Johnson?

  64. Well the injuries/penalty miss have not helped but our first half performance has been akin to our early season form with a lack of quality in the final third.

    At present it’s looking unlikely we will get back into this and my pre match fears are coming to fruition. CoB get your game together. 😎

  65. Well they say it never rains but pours. Two hamstrings it looks like, Roberts from a tackle just like Britt and Fry??

    But saying all that, a poor delivered penalty from Mcnair whose dead ball passing of late has been poor also, Wing apart who is playing well, there have been too many loose passes all over the pitch, especially from Johnson and surprisingly Howson. We are short in midfield and upfront a little from Nmecha but Fletcher appears to have gone back into his shell.

    Neil Maddison thinks we are playing OK and have been probably the better side. Well not for me. Boro have not created much at all with only one shot on target and have huffed and puffed through most of the first 45 minutes.

    If we are to get anything out of this game. we need to up the anti in the second 45.

  66. Vic’s depressing assessment:

    HT: A low key display. Boro had a bright 10 minutes before winning the penalty but after the spot kick miss it has all gone pear-shaped. slack at the back and stray final ball up front & injuries too!

    1. The head coach is trying hard to see what he actually sees in him. Just in case he gets questioned about Gestede at the press conference. If he thinks this is Gestede playing well they’ll probably offer him a new contract.



  67. 1-1 – phew! Second Brum goal apparently disallowed in the wake of yet another bad injury, this time to Tav, who was “spark out on the deck”, according to Vic. Things look bad – again – on the injury front. 🙁

    1. From the Beeb:


      Middlesbrough 1-1 Birmingham

      High drama!

      Blues think they’ve scored but just as the cross for the goal is sent in, the referee blows the whistle!

      He’s halted play because a Boro player was down up the other end.

      Everyone going wild, but the goal from Lukas Jutkiewicz will not stand.

  68. Rather bizarre time keeping by the officials – the game was stopped on the 87th minute and didn’t resume until the 90th – so three minutes were lost. There were 3 second half substitutions, including one where the Birmingham player took almost a minute to limp off the pitch – plus there was a fair bit of time wasting and other stoppages, which given they raised only 4 minutes of added time they somehow equated the rest to just 60 seconds?

    1. Had a chat with some guys tonight who work at Rockliffe

      Ben Gibson has been down for a couple of days training with his own personal trainer

      Apparently he had a word with Fry

      “Don’t sign for Burnley”


  69. As for the game, well it was mainly disjointed and the players just didn’t click or deliver the right ball at the right time. a missed penalty and some bad injuries in the first half were bad enough but then getting caught out to concede seemed to knock the stuffing out of us. The second half was mostly frustrating to watch and a late piece of class from Fletcher looked like giving us the momentum to go and win it but again Boro lacked that bit of quality.

    On the plus side it looks like Nmecha is getting sharper and Spence looks like he’s going to be some player both going forward and defending – a real find for the club. As to whether we’ll have any recognised defenders fit for the next game is another matter but good to see Nathan Wood finally on the pitch and while he had a few shaky moments did ok in the end.

    Though we can probably forget the play-offs after dropping 7 points in the last three games and are now 11 points off them with 17 to play – especially if any of the 3 clubs just outside the top six win their game in hand to stretch that gap further. In truth we won’t go down either and probably need another ten points to be safe. So this season is more or less dead in terms of going anywhere and it’s probably going to be about getting ready for next season now and maybe giving young players more experience.

    OK if we win the next 5 then it could get interesting again but maybe it’s time to offload a few assets and raise some cash for the summer. Britt to Leeds anyone?

    1. I think you are correct Werder. The season is all but over for us, unless we implode again. 10 points to see us safe should be doable.
      So, plan for next season. See what Wood can do. Are there any other young on the fringe players worth trying.

      Forget those (more or less if possible) that won’t be here next season. Britt to Leeds for a decent fee would be good business.

  70. Perhaps the injuries have proved Ken’s point about why the club needed to rearrange the game for this week – the players could have had ten days off after Fulham to recover instead like most of the other Championship teams who elected to play next Tuesday.

  71. On that Britt move some reports appear to be describing the lethal forward we thought we had signed for £15m – we should maybe encourage Leeds that is how we see him and is well worth what we paid…

    Bamford’s finishing has been questioned by Leeds fans, but there are no such doubts about Assombalonga. The Congolese forward is usually cool in front of goal, and he could really enhance the quality of Marcelo Bielsa’s side’s attack for the second half of the campaign. The move could take place quickly, as Leeds are said to want the deal done within a week, in time for their game against Millwall next Tuesday.

    1. If it happens, he’ll probably turn back into the goal machine we thought we were buying from Forest…

      I see there’s also talk of a straight swap: Britt for Paddy…

  72. Caught the last twenty five minutes when I got into my Hotel Room after the farce of a German Railway which just seems to top their previous worse ever efforts every time I use them. Little did I know that my farce quota wasn’t finished for the day!

    I couldn’t believe what had happened in the first half when I read we missed a Penalty and then had Roberts and Fry go off injured plus the Juke scoring. From what I saw of the second half we looked all at Sea with tactics and organisation equally disjointed, confidence shot to pieces..

    On the positives, Nmecha looked to be someone who could get a lot better and Wood done very well and far better than expected. Pears clearly isn’t giving up his shirt without a fight. Spence was incredibly quick on a couple of occasions and Howson was his usual top drawer stuff, fighting and scrapping. Johnson and McNair’s set piece deliveries however ere poor although Marvin did get the cross in for Fletch to instinctively poke in the equaliser and set up an entertaining final few minutes.

    The real talking point has to be the Officiating, it was so bad it was comical. The foul on Tav was a straight Red, it was a forearm smash as blatant as I have seen and had the Ref blew immediately he would have avoided making himself and the rest of his team look even worse which at that point seemed impossible.Then the bizarre non drop ball/drop ball restart and again full marks to Spence for closing in immediately.

    A crazy decision to agree to bring the game forward to tonight after the run of games we had but its over with and we now have good recovery time to hopefully get a few more fit/sold/signed.

  73. Haven’t seen the match here in the Algarve nor heard any radio commentary, but just as I feared a match 7 days too early. It could have been worse though as I was following the goals on Flashscores and after Boro equalised I was anticipating that Boro might score a winner. Then it showed the score 1-2 for all of 5 minutes before correcting it. Don’t know what all that was about until I can check on reports tomorrow. How I for one has missed Redcar Red’s report.

  74. MFC are in a unique position right now, one they haven’t had for decades
    We know they won’t get promotion, I think there are teams worse than us, so looks like lower mid table.
    What’s you unique is if they make the right moves regarding the squad next season could be interesting,
    They now can asses real needs , the young players have come in and proved they can compete at this level, so its not a guessing game with them.
    Those out of contract? Well maybe one or two might stay.
    The big question is recruitment , that’s the big one, a combination of solid centre back defenders , a speedy winger , impact players coming off the bench.
    For Woodgate and the rest its a blank canvass, that painted right can push us forward for a number of seasons, not continually , just throwing and splattering hoping a picture emerged.

    1. GT

      Good post

      I would try and buy Roberts or take him on a season loan he could be the catalyst to get us promoted

      Interesting also I heard Ben Gibson wants to come back and take a pay cut. Heard this from a reliable source ast night


  75. I agree GT. It’s an exciting prospect. We have a hatful of young talent either at the club or out on loan and some of them may be special. It will be interesting to match them with Roberts and Nmecha who both look very good. We also have some really solid senior pros.

    Three or four sensible additions now and we can really look forward to next season and beyond.


  76. Selwynoz

    There’s the problem “three or four sensible additions”.

    When was the last time we made that number of good signings? The same old recruitment team are still in place. JW’s recruitment hasn’t set the world alight. Assuming that the two on loan are worth signing could we afford them?

    Last night was another poor performance and had shades of our early season form. Despite JW’s wish to play more attacking football and scoring more we are still only on a goal a game and we are worse defensively.

    The enforced introduction of the youngsters has been a plus but that apart I so far have seen little that says we are on an upward curve and that we will be a force to be reckoned with next year or the year after.

    We had a purple patch a few games ago but are now stuttering again not helped by playing too many matches in too short a period, one of which could have been avoided and again brings into question the behind the scenes management of the club.

    We appear, as things stand, to be safe from relegation but still a long way from being a team capable of winning promotion and staying in the PL sadly. 😎

  77. I think Werder’s right that we’re now nailed on for reasonably comfortable survival but no chance of the play offs. Somewhat like Karanka’s first season when he took over from Mowbray.

    This does mean that we can blood a few youngsters though, actually, they pretty much all have been already. It’s only really Wood who hasn’t had a run in the team. Perhaps O’Neill or Walker could play a few games alongside Fletcher. Maybe though it also means that we could look at a younger centre back rather than needing an emergency senior pro. If Stubbs keeps doing well he ought to be in contention for next season.

    It also means that this is a good time to sell Britt if we get a half-way decent offer. His goals aren’t going to make a difference now and if Fletcher keeps on this way he’s going to be in contention for player of the season.

    It’s hard to know how good this group are but one thing I’ll say is that despite looking mentally and physically shot, missing a penalty and having two key players off injured before conceding they still managed to drag out a point. A lot of teams would have folded and perhaps we would have done a couple of months ago. How a team copes when everything seems to go wrong is a better indicator than how it manages when everything works like against Preston and the Baggies.

    I’ll also say that Woodgate is doing better than I expected in really difficult circumstances. When AK took over he inherited a decent squad and an owner with a chequebook. Even then there were a mix of good runs and horror shows: not scoring for 2 months comes to mind.

    1. I think my only worry now is if the play-offs are seemingly out of reach unless somehow Boro win all but three of their remaining games, what is the aim for this season? OK, firstly Boro should secure the 3-4 wins needed to secure Championship football but what happens if the team is dependent on Roberts and Nmecha, who will likely looking to step up to PL football next season if they continue to improve with pitch time.

      That would leave Boro needing to find quality replacements in the summer and even more so if out-of-contract players also leave in June. It’s even possible more loanees could arrive before the end of January. On that basis it may be time to allow Nathan Wood to have more pitch time to see if he can step up next season. While it’s great to see Roberts driving Boro forward or watch Nmecha get to his peak, it doesn’t solve any problems in the medium term if the club have little to play for in perhaps the last ten games this season.

      OK it may at least give Boro momentum for next season and demonstrate that Woodgate could deliver if he had the right players. The key will be whether the recruitment department can unearth the 3-4 quality signings that will be needed in the summer. Selling Britt for decent money now could help but the club’s recent track record in spending money has not exactly proved it is likely.

      1. I think if we have the money that we may end up taking Roberts on permanently next year because I don’t think he’s in City’s plans. That said, if he does well for us, Celtic might be back in for him and he’d probably be up there like a shot. I suspect there’s also a reasonable chance we’ll get Nmecha on a season long loan next year if he does well for the rest of the season but yes I agree that loans are only a short-term measure usually.
        Depending on who comes in next year, the first team squad doesn’t look that far off AK’s first season.
        Plus Mejias, Husband, Forshaw, Kike, Vossen, Kalas, Omeruo, Fredericks

        I think Pears, Spence and Coulson have more potential than their counterparts. Fry *could* be as good as Gibson. We lack a leader like Leadbitter and a defensive midfielder as good as Clayton was then but McNair, Wing and Tav are all as good as anyone in their position in AK’s team, Fletcher is probably of a standard with Bamford. So there is reason for optimism if we get it right this summer.

        1. The main problem of acquiring any quality player on a permanent basis next season will be the level of wages Boro are able to pay. If Roberts shines and is prepared to play in the Championship next season there will be at least six clubs with parachute payments who could offer him a better deal. In reality, I suspect Roberts will be in no hurry to tear up his City contract unless it matches those financial terms he currently enjoys – the same with Nmecha. Perhaps Nmecha will get lower PL interest if he shows good form in the next 4 months, which is possibly why he’s at Boro where he’s getting pitch time.

  78. It’s good that Boro supporters are feeling more positive about the future and things are certainly looking less gloomy than they were a few months ago. Here’s a suitable quote from yesterday…

    This is not a time for pessimism. This is a time for optimism. Fear and doubt is not a good thought process because this is a time for tremendous hope and joy and optimism and action. But to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions…”

    …hang on a minute, wrong quote that was Trump’s opening speech at Davos in response to the climate emergency – not sure if he’s a Boro supporter but I’m sure he’s probably on board in making Boro great again 😉

  79. Well, my report from watching the game live is as follows

    The Good the Bad and the Ugly!

    Hard to find what the good was, maybe that we pulled a goal back, it didn’t rain and I had no delays on the drive up!

    The bad was, the ref and assistants, the injuries and the fact that Boro did not play at all well. Probably add Wing to that as he wasn’t up to much and our forward movement was pretty poor all night. The strange decision to put Gestede on so early did not appear to make sense.

    The ugly, the touch line scrap seeing Leo and one of their staff sent off, The manager booked and a good old melee. To be fair, if the tables had been turned, we would have felt aggrieved in the goal not standing as whilst Tav did look badly injured, he got up and played on.

    Still, not complaining at that although as others have said, the ref was very poor all night and as for the added time, their watches must have stopped as there was 3 minutes whilst Tav was down.

    The penalty was not a bad one, well saved by the keeper although McNair could have maybe hit it a bit harder.

    MOM for me was Spence who was positive going forward, quick getting back to put in some key challenges and generally getting involved. We struggled when Roberts and Fry went off although Fry playing in the left side doesn’t make sense and many times he missed a player in space as he turned round to get the ball on his right foot!

    Hopefully the break will allow the injured to recover as we need Roberts in midfield to provide attacking drive which is lacking.

    And Johnson is not a wing back, he gave their man far too much room in the build up to their goal, allowing the cross and for Juke to head in unmarked again.

    Playoffs are gone now and I reckon another 10points for safety and the sooner they are gained, the better with maybe a end of season to give us something to cheer about!


    1. Good report BBD. Only one difference from me is that generally compared to his team mates, Wing played reasonably well.
      If you watch his passing he possibly is the only player to consistently hit a pass as he receives the ball. In other words he does not have to stop the ball, look up and then pass it. Not many in the Championship can do that.

      Our biggest weakness and this needs addressing going forward if we are to progress, is to bring in a midfield player with pace who can tackle. Too many times the opposition just run through the middle.

      Also a Captain who is a “Leader”. As deleriad and others have said. Leadbitter in his prime.

  80. Thanks to BBD for giving us those who didn’t see the match nor listen to the commentary an insight into what happened. I tend to wait until the following morning to read any reports on Boro’s matches beginning of course with Redcar Red’s. I usually also don’t read comments on this forum until the following morning as I catch up with recorded highlights of my other favourite sports such as cricket and golf as well as scouring over all the football results and league tables including those in non-league football, boring life ain’t it. Not for me!

    Sunday morning, or the day following Boro’s matches, is the day when I catch up with this forum and so now understand why it took Flashscore a few minutes to rectify the score last night following the mayhem of the disallowed goal. Watching Jonathan Woodgate’s post match interview this morning he seemed in a good frame of mind and happy with Boro’s grit and determination in fighting back to earn a point, and so he should be as I doubt it was his decision to bring the match forward instead of playing it next week. I think most of us would have settled for a mid-table finish before the season started. It was unrealistic in my opinion to expect a playoff place, but nevertheless a shock to see Boro struggle so low in the table a few weeks ago.

    We can now forget a challenge for a playoff place that we would in all seriousness have had no chance of progression from to the Premier League, and also forget a relegation dogfight as well. Is the season really over for Boro though? I don’t think so. Young players are always likely to be inconsistent and make mistakes, but I sense a back room camaraderie with the senior players which augurs well for the future, a learning curve that will help them mature.It takes time for young players to develop, and to be able to play the rest of the season without the worry of relegation nor the expectancy of a playoff place might well be a blessing in disguise. As has been mentioned before, it’s a work in progress. So let’s sit back and see if that progression is warranted. I have a feeling that it will be over the next couple of seasons.

    1. On a slightly comparative note, I tend to find myself drawn into the inter web and coming across lots of different and diverse links. I’m wondering if I should be slightly worried as when Werder recently made reference to Gwyneth Paltrow’s candles I knew exactly what he was referring to.

        1. Ben Gibson in the Ivy at Harrogate lunchtime with Clayton and Fletch and wives partners and little Clayton


          Ben told people at Rockliffe last week he wants to come back to the Boro


        2. So Britt is nearly fit and so is George !

          Back in training next week is our friend and Roberts and Fry not too serious injuries apparently

          Perhaps the injury crisis is clearing ??

          Or is it because it’s nearing the end of the transfer window ???


  81. On football related matters, Roberts looks like he’s shaping up to be a good signing.

    Agreed that the play offs are not an option now, but realistically they never were unless Boro had maintained a Liverpudlian run of form, for me the rest of the season is hopefully about watching some good football (I’d forgotten what that was ) and seeing Boro climb the table a little.

    If we make tenth I think that will be an excellent performance given the first 1/3 of the season was a ‘mare.

    1. I have seen Roberts in the flesh, so to speak, twice now and I too am impressed. He has the ability to get past defenders and has some skill. My only concern is that with our issues going forward, as highlighted by most of us, he runs out of opti9ns and then Is dispossessed.

      Hopefully he will recover from the knock incurred for the penalty and give us something to shout about and get to a good end of season position.

      10th would be a very good position this season and something to build on. Actually, anything mid table will be respectable.

  82. I agree with a number of bloggers that the standard of refereeing last night was abysmal. In my 54 years watching football I have never seen anything like the farce that erupted in those last few minutes. My neighbour and I stood there totally perplexed: what the fudge is going on? We had no idea! Was it a goal? No, surely, he can’t award that as he’s already run back to the scene of Tav’s injury ( I prefer to call it the scene of the crime as the Brummie clearly belted him with his elbow, which our useless ref, two yards away, didn’t see.) But Boro’s back four appeared to be lining up for a kick-off and look dejected? Is it a goal then? Who knows? No, he’s giving a drop-ball, but to which side? The players obviously had no idea, either. We were sure the ref had no idea what he was doing! So he must have blown his whistle before Juke ‘scored’. Who knew? Baffled? We certainly were!

    When I met my brother, after the game, I said I thought it would be a long time before the FA allows the ref to officiate at our level again. He took the ref’s side – he often does, as he himself is an ex-ref and now assesses junior trainees. He thought he had handled the melee well, for instance. However, he made one telling point: – why, if there is a head injury, didn’t he stop the game sooner? Why weren’t his linesmen screaming in his ear-piece that there was a head injury? Where was the communication?

    I’m sure Birmingham will make a strong complaint about this (they’ve already started, EG says). Lee Camp clearly called for the trainers to come on and attend to Tav, but my brother swears that Boro’s staff rushed on to the pitch whilst play was going on. I doubt very much that the ref signalled to them to do so, as he was up with play at the other end of the pitch. Yet more poor refereeing.

    The melee, in real time, was entertaining. On the highlights, however, it does look more like handbags at dawn. The crowd, of course, got behind Leo. I didn’t. He may be passionate and as mad as a box of frogs, but we must try to curb his over-zealous reactions. He is, I’m afraid, bringing the club into disrepute. Anyway, he’ll get a three game touchline ban now. I doubt that will change him.

    1. Interesting tweet tonight

      Quote “

      Highest earners at #boro are BA & RG on 35k a week followed by DA & JH on 25k & GF PM AC on 20k. Ben Gibson is on 40k at Burnley, so unless they pay 50% of his wages he won’t b joining anyone. Plus hes played 6 games in 17 months.

      Unquote “


      1. I’d only add that unless the Tweet came from someone who has access to the salaries of Boro players then that is probably nothing more than a speculative guess. I’d actually speculate that those figures were quite low as the total wage bill when Pulis took over was reported to be £49m and many of those players signed lucrative contracts under Monk. If Dani Ayala and Jonny Howson were only on £25k a week it wouldn’t need much of drop to keep them.

  83. Ben Gibson has a real dilemma. He desperately needs to be playing football but with only about three games in the last two years I can’t see a Premier division team going for him in the transfer window.
    On the other hand if he goes to a championship team on loan, and I would be happy if he came to Boro, even if he played many games to the end of the season, will it get him back playing in the Premiership next season with another team – Burnley doesn’t seem an option. I doubt it.
    In which case his dream to be a Premiership player is over.

    1. While I know you weren’t an admirer of Randolph, I’m not sure it took much of a sales pitch for Boro to get their money back on an international keeper who was rated as the best number one in the Championship and had played every game for Boro for two seasons and probably saved us countless points with vital late saves – Especially to a desperate club like West Ham with three keepers injured!

      Though the Alan Kernaghan deal looked to be good business given he only ended up playing just over 50 times for Man City over 4 seasons and was sent out on loan twice to Division 1 and Division 2.

      How much do you think Alan Kernaghan would have cost Manchester City today? Apparently it’s £33.4m!

      I’ve found this football transfer inflation calculator, where you can search their database and it calculates what an historic fee would cost in today’s market. For Boro top of the list are Ravenelli and Nick Barmby who would both cost us £64m in today’s prices with Afonso Alves a costly £39m mistake and Massimo Maccarone a £42.7m superstar – with Mido a weighty £20m and any takers for Michael Ricketts at £18m?

      You can just enter Middlesbrough in the search box to see our former players – what it does indicate is that the days of Ravenelli and Juninho are long gone as these two quality players would set back Steve Gibson over £100m today.

      Anyway, have a play around though it’s not comprehensive…

  84. Having a guess I’d say Ben Gibson back on loan to Boro by the time the transfer window closes is highly likely. No doubt it’ll go to the wire as Burnley try to get Boro to pay as much of his salary as poss. But assuming Burnley want to sell him in the summer, the more game time he gets between now and then the more his value will creep up.
    Personally I’d be happy to have him back on loan, but not permanently, second spells rarely work. Not sure we could afford him anyway.

    1. I’ve had second spells at two jobs and three in another.

      The three spells job ended in acrimony and one of the second spells ended up the best for me.

      I think it’s how both sides accept and understand reasons for moving on and try and make it work better the second time around

      I hope Ben Gibson does come but Newcastle are sniffing around with a Boro ex coach and a short commute from Teesside……..

      Let’s see what happens !


  85. On Randolph Werder , his kicking was poor, he flapped at crosses ,when under pressure ,and he palmed many saves back into the danger area, allowing second shots.
    Any goalkeeper should save the ball when the shot is within body length , he made the obvious look Hollywood.
    Just my opinion, let’s hope the new signing works out.

    1. I don’t agree with that, gt. For me, Randolph very rarely made a mistake and usually dominated his box. I think he was the best keeper we’ve had since Schwarzer, and was certainly the best in the Champo last season.

      I’m sorry to see him go, but we seem to have at least one adequate replacement in Pears, while Stojanovic sounds promising.

  86. One for OFB……you have mentioned Ben Gibson and his new house in Nunthorpe, I believe.
    Has he actually moved to Burnley? Bought a house or tenting a house. In other words living there permanently.

    If not, there may lay part of the problem.

      1. So reading between the lines, I would say OFB, that he has not committed himself to the Burnley area. Dyche has taken umbrage and frozen him out.

        Maybe Ben is a home bird, thought he could fly the nest and found himself lost.

  87. In case anyone was wondering whether football has become completely detached from reality… Christian Eriksen is set to join Inter Milan on a four-and-half year contract where it’s been reported he will earn between £260,000-£320,000 a week depending on add-ons – which means the contract will make him between £60-75m richer. Apparently he’s been trying to get by since 2016 on only £85,000 a week at Spurs. So I guess he’ll also be able to afford a new house!

  88. If Gibson does come back it will only be a short-term fix for us and a chance for Burnley to put him in the shop window. Burnley look to be 90% safe from relegation and probably need to play him or move him on. I suspect that Steve Bruce would like him at Newcastle but I can’t see Ashley sanctioning a transfer for a 27 year old who hasn’t played for 18 months.

    I see Jack Simpson is being linked. He seems a good prospect. Bournemouth were one of my tips for relegation this year (I figured that one of the south coast clubs would go down) so I could see us taking him on loan, giving him really good Championship experience and having Bournemouth reap the benefit next year.

    On the whole I think I would prefer an experienced pro such as Gibson. He’s left-footed and although he’ll be rusty, once he’s up to speed and we have some injured players back it might give us a chance to give Wood a few games towards the end of the season. I’m not really keen on bringing players back (it’s rarely a success) and would prefer someone like James Chester but it’s a pretty small pool we’re fishing in.

    In general I would rather have an experienced pro at this point rather than a hot prospect we can develop for someone else. If Stubbs continues to do well on loan and Wood gets a few games then next season we could be looking at Ayala, Fry, Stubbs, Wood and A.N.Other (possibly Friend) as our centre backs. Not sure that’s a top 6 defence but depending on Mr Other it has potential.

  89. I’m a huge fan of Ben Gibson and would love to see him back permanently if it was doable with sensible financials.

    I don’t know what has happened at Burnley but for me they have missed out on a good player with a brilliant attitude – a player that always gives everything, inspires others around him with outstanding leadership and never gives the manager a moment’s trouble. A proper pro.

    Pears, Fry, Wood, Stubbs, Coulson, Spence, Tav, Liddle, Bola, Browne and any other young player you can think of at the Boro would benefit from having Ben Gibson around the place, no doubt with the captain’s armband on.

    Assuming he would pass a medical without issue and accept Boro-level wages (two fairly big assumptions), I would take him all day long.

  90. In terms of medium-term strategy, I’m not sure how taking Gibson only on loan until the end of the season is much of a benefit for Boro – especially if you accept the play-offs are probably out of reach and relegation is now very unlikely.

    I also suspect by the time Gibson is up to match fitness, I’d expect Shotton and Friend are too with perhaps Ayala not far off. It also sounds like Fry’s injury is maybe only a couple of weeks too. I’d prefer to see Nathan Wood get a dozen games of experience this season as we’ve seen with other youngsters how quickly they can develop.

    I think the move works for Ben Gibson in terms of proving his fitness and putting him in the shop window but if as reported he’s currently on around £50k a week at Burnley then Boro are not going to be able to offer him even half that and he’ll still has 2 years left on his contract in the summer.

    This season for me is now mainly about building for next season and maybe any spare cash earmarked for paying Ben’s potential loan should be put in the kitty to pay Ayala and Howson’s new contracts instead. Of course it would be different if there was a deal that allowed Gibson to return on a longer basis but it’s hard to see the numbers on that stacking up.

    1. If Gibson or someone similar can come in and play a full 90 minutes in 8 days time then I think it takes a lot of pressure off the rest of the team. I don’t know when Ayala, Friend and Shotton will be back but it feels like it could be at least another month and all three of them tend to be error prone until they have had a few full games. Although there’s not much to play for, other than getting ourselves safe as quickly as possible, this is a chance to develop players and a team in a relatively low pressure period.

      Unless we have an option to buy I don’t see the point of taking a young CB on loan and developing them. I would rather have someone like Gibson, Chester, Batth (I know he’s not available, just an example) who might be able to help develop Wood and our other young defenders.

      In some ways I would rather have no one come in than a young CB on loan from a premier league club as they would block the route to the team for Wood and I think in the medium term we need to develop our own players, not other teams’. (This is sort of what Roberts and Nmecha have done to our forwards. Sure we might get offered Roberts to buy but I’m pretty sure someone else would outbid us.) Realistically though we need someone in short term who can do a job straight away up to the end of the season.

      1. I suppose the only reason to take a young centre-back on loan is that they would be cheap – especially in comparison to Ben Gibson. Though as we saw with Bola and Dijksteel, they need quite a bit of time to find their feet – if indeed they eventually do.

    2. Agree with that Werder. If we’re not going up or down – and I’m pretty sure we’re not – why spend some of next year’s budget now unless its with a view/agreement to buy permanently?

  91. In purely financial term why would MFC want to bring Gibson back on loan? The playoffs are out of the picture and relegation is unlikely.

    If they want to bring him back in the August transfer window for a new promotion push, I would imagine his inactivity will have reduced his price even further. Likewise, Assombalonga and Ayala can also be let go. With this season effectively over they can outline a blueprint for next season now.

  92. I think we need Simpson and Gibson on loan, we currently have one centre back available. We need three proper centre backs and cover at full back which Simpson and Friend could provide. That gives us decent depth and cover in defence.
    No doubt Wood will get some game time towards the end of the season.
    Getting two defenders on loan releases the midfielders to play in midfield (arguably Boro’s best two players) and takes the pressure off our young full backs.

    All of that then allows some time to plan medium-long term next season.

    We wont see Ben Gibson here next season unless Burnley cant sell him in the summer, in which case another loan maybe………….

    1. I’m not sure if Howson will return to midfield and has looked very good as a defender or wing-back – though McNair was a driving force in the Boro midfield. As for Gibson, I’d agree with GHW’s point that come the summer with barely a game in two years he’d probably be a bargain – taking him on loan and rebuilding his career will perhaps unfortunately scupper any chance of affording him next season.

      In theory, Gibson’s asset value on Burnley’s books will be £7.5m in the summer after 2 of his 4-year contract have passed – plus if he’s on the reported £50k a week then that’s £5m in wages they have left to pay him. On that basis they may be keen to shift him if as it seems he’s not even guaranteed to be in the matchday squad – makes you wonder if Ben was even Sean Dyche’s choice.

    1. Agree Nigel but I wouldn’t equate keeping our transfer powder dry until the summer with writing the season off.

      The remainder of the season can be a great opportunity for some out of contract players to show their value and for the younger players to force their way into next season’s plans.

  93. I think the next month or so is going to be one of JW’s biggest tests to date. As the likes of Friend, Shotton, Ayala and Assombalonga return from injury the team will not pick itself as much as it has done in the past.

    He will be faced not only with the dilemma of who he plays but also in which position and what formation(s) to employ.

    It will be interesting to see how he copes with these new challenges. 😎

    1. Interestingly, I believe Friend, Ayala and Shotton are all out of contract in the summer so you would expect Woodgate will not start them often unless the club were planning to give any of them new deals – why play them ahead of players who he wants to develop further for next season. As for Britt, I think we need to cash in on him before he enters the last year of his contract as we need to reinvest the money.

  94. I watched the Wolves v Liverpool game yesterday, which was an enjoyable contest and a finely balanced game. The player everyone was talking about was of course Adama Traore, who had another really good game.

    I was sceptical recently over media noises that Adama could be a £80m player soon but having seen him skin every Liverpool defender at will on both the left and right side – plus deliver some exquisite crosses including a perfectly weighted and directed cross for the goal – show the vision to execute a reverse pass that nearly led to a Wolves winner and generally put the fear into Liverpool, I’m beginning to think the offers will come soon.

    Even more so after listening to the post-match interview with Klopp who described Adama as simply unplayable and they knew they couldn’t stop him and just hoped his crosses didn’t find a team-mate. The pundits in the studio described him as unique combination of power, pace, strength and skill – as well as describing him as the most improved player in the Premier League and is still improving.

    On that basis, I now accept it’s only a matter of time before one of the rich clubs make a big offer and it would take a very big offer for Wolves to sell him. The irony is that it was Tony Pulis who managed to unleash his attacking potential and start him on the road to what looks like being a glittering career.

  95. I see Ben is missing from Burnley’s FA Cup squad due to a “niggly groin”.

    Either the lad is seriously injury prone now and a walking liability as a Professional Footballer or there has been another massive fall out Bamford style with Dyche. Something’s not adding up for me and its not just his fee and wages!

      1. I believe Dyche can be a difficult person at times, from past articles.
        Although there appears to be something between them given Dyche’s original welcoming comments.

        As I posted in reply to OFB, maybe Ben has not settled, maybe in Dyches view he spends too much time on Teeside. I could understand that as not committed?

    1. Sounds more likely than him coming back to us on loan.

      I am not holding my breath on incoming players at this stage given our previous recruitment track record.

      I accept we are light at CB but given that Friend and Shotton are close to returning and that Fry’s injury is of a minor nature then why not utilise Wood until the others including Ayala are fit?

      We can then use the savings from loan fees/wages toward a summer re-build. That to me seems a more sensible strategy when we are unlikely to be promoted or relegated. It also fits more with a policy of developing our youngsters and purchasing other players cheaply and selling at a profit.

      The loan market in most instances is just a shop window for other club’s players, particularly if there is not a purchase clause as part of the deal. I suspect we will not be able to afford to buy Roberts or
      Nmecha if we wanted to. 😎

      1. Agree entirely KP. All this talk about BG is now getting boring.
        Irrespective of how good he is or was even, he is far too expensive for our current model. We have as you say, probably escaped relegation. Any money we can save should be invested wisely and not squandered as in the past. Ben coming back does not give value for money in any shape or form.

        Woods should be given a number of games before the season ends. Not Shotton or Friend both who probably will not be with us next season.

  96. I have to agree with Pedro and KP that to waste money on bringing in any more players on loan is counter productive. Boro are safe enough from relegation now in my opinion and out of necessity have had to bring in so many academy players who are the future of this club. I’m completely against wasting money on bringing in players like Ben Gibson just for the remainder of this season. If we could afford to re-sign him permanently on a more realistic wage that would be a different matter but we can’t, so why waste money on any more loan players? Boro have in the past relied on its academy to produce a team that was competitive, excepting the initial Riverside Revolution years when we tried to live with the big boys because we had a wealthy chairman. We still have a wealthy chairman, but not in the same category as foreign investors have distorted football in this country where only a few clubs are now in a position to win the Premier League. Fans of most clubs love to see their own local academy players playing for their club, even going back to the Busby Babes of Manchester United. Am I one of the few who enjoyed football more in the 50s and 60s when most clubs relied on their academies to produce local talent than today?

    This leads me to sponsorship. France for example doesn’t allow
    sponsorship of gambling, alcohol or tobacco and for many years the BBC refused to televise matches where any form of
    advertising was displayed on players shirts or at football stadia. It might be argued that Sky TV has ruined sport especially with the number of matches televised resulting in only half the Premier League matches played at the traditional Saturday 3pm kickoff time. Alcohol and tobacco advertising is banned on television nowadays, yet gambling has become just as large a problem in society today. Isn’t it time that it was banned at sports stadia and on football shirts? I made the point a year or so ago that I was not happy with Boro being sponsored by a betting company, and couldn’t understand why replica shirts were further advertising such companies. It’s all well and good those companies asking people to bet sensibly but many folk don’t or can’t.

    Sonny Bill Williams, one of the finest All Backs in the history of Rugby Union has signed for the Canadian Rugby League club Toronto Wolfpack. It is one of the biggest signings by any rugby club or indeed any football club, such is the magnitude of his status. At the inaugural photo shoot to Super League which starts next weekend he was excluded because he refused to wear a shirt advertising Bet Fred but has been given permission by the betting company to exclude their logo on his shirt when playing for his club. Whilst I welcome his stance, I can’t imagine a betting company that sponsors a football club allowing any player to become a conscientious objector by refusing to display their logo on their shirt. Sponsorship of football clubs has become big business in this country, but isn’t it about time that betting companies were excluded from sponsoring football clubs and in effect encouraging fans to advertise betting by wearing replica shirts? Perhaps it might make football more of a level playing field if clubs were not allowed to advertise any company on their shirts unless it was a charitable organisation. But as usual football has become so money orientated that it is no longer the sport of the working classes.

    1. Yes it sold itself to all and sundry Ken, many years ago. If the money is more than it is getting, where it comes from does not matter now.

      All this rubbish about prospective Owners being vetted. Where the money comes from…….normally hidden amongst a line of intertwined offshore companies. Or countries you cannot find on a map without the help of google.

      All the Football authorities,Local,European or World, are the same, always looking for ways to expand its income network.

      Then having sold themselves to the EPL god and its riches, the clubs complain about the number of matches to be played. 3 games in a week as Mr Pulis constantly told us.

      Then we hear that the African Cup will be rescheduled to January/February next year Which club in their right mind would buy an African International only to lose him for up to four weeks.

      Madness. Only seeing is believing, because you could not make this story up.

  97. Had a chat with a friend from MFC today

    Burnley playing hardball over Gibson although Boro and Ben want to make it happen

    Wood won’t be considered as a stop gap centre back as although they think he’s a great prospect they consider him to be more of a full back eventually

    Pleased for Marcus Browne yesterday


    1. All this OFB sounds like meddling once again from Mr Steve Gibson.

      When you have limited resources you have to spend the money wisely and not on one ego trip item.

  98. Middlesbrough will sign Filip Benkovic on loan, as long as Leicester sign another defender, before the close of the transfer window on Friday.


    1. OFB, I do not think Dyche is being awkward, as much as I am not keen on him.
      Boro, according to their mouth piece the Gazette, appear to be desperate to sign Ben Gibson…..why???

      Not match fit. Possibly injury prone at the moment and worst of all not value for money. I am pleased it is not my money being wasted if he comes our way.

      1. If it wasn’t Ben Gibson would the prospect of securing a player on loan who has only played one league game in 18 months and was currently carrying a groin injury ever get past the long list of potential targets – especially if Boro may have to pay at least half of his £50k a week wages to persuade Burnley to send him.

        Boro have just 17 games left and it’s likely before we start the last ten games we’ll have nothing to play for but pride and planning for next season – it’s also likely that Woodgate will before then also be able to choose between Fry, Ayala, Shotton, Friend and Howson for a back three and that will become 2 from 5 if Gibson joins on loan. Doesn’t make a lot of sense and less so if Gibson is not fit to hit the ground running to fill in for the short-term injury crisis.

          1. OK we don’t know how it was structured but some of that headline £15m figure could have been dependent on things like Premier League appearances and possibly getting an England cap. The worry would be if Boro are at risk of losing out on a significant amount if Ben didn’t make a threshold of something seemingly undemanding like 20 starts in two seasons.

            Incidentally, Ben Gibson’s current market value is listed as £7.2m on Transfermarkt and as I mentioned last week Burnley still have the liability of over £5m in wages remaining on his contract. If Burnley can persuade Watford to part with around £6-7m and save £5m in wages then I’m sure that more than covers what they currently owe Boro.

            This loan deal for Ben Gibson by Boro seems to be more about resurrecting his career as given the club’s income we can’t really afford him – though if we could afford him after shifting some players it doesn’t sound like it’s the best use of scarce resources given what else that kind of money could be used for.

  99. OFB…talking of Browne and Oxford. They will play nine games in February, whilst the EPL get a winter break.

    Liverpool are committed to playing their non first team reserves for the replay against Shrewsbury.

  100. Of course the cynic in me wonders if the whole Ben Gibson loan to Boro could just be a ruse by his hometown club to raise his media profile in order to drum up interest from other clubs – As transfer deadline approaches then FOMO (fear of missing out) to Boro may just force the likes of Watford to make an acceptable bid to Burnley. Although if he can’t pass a medical then maybe a loan deal is all that is possible.

    1. Werder, whilst I know I keep banging on about Ben, could anybody on here give even ONE positive to a proposed loan deal.

      Possibly Werder is correct. Burnley are getting lots of publicity out of this.

    1. I’m not surprised given that they’ve just signed striker Jean-Kevin Augustin on loan from Red Bull Leipzig, the terms of which demand that if they are promoted they have to make permanent at a cost of £18m. At least the name Jean-Kevin is a new French variation for me after Jean-Paul and Jean-Pierre – though still waiting for Derby to sign Jean-Wayne but that may sound like too much of cowboy even for them…

      Incidentally, Jean-Kevin Augustin was also a target for Villa with both also linked with Britt so maybe they will now switch their attention to the Boro striker.

  101. Watford made a loan offer, with option to buy in the summer, for Ben Gibson but it has been turned down by Burnley. I don’t think MFC would be able to match or beat what possibly Watford have been able to offer.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Boro certainly won’t be able to match Watford’s loan package on wages – anyway the Northern Echo are reporting that Watford are also ready to make an improved offer on a permanent deal in the next 48 hours. Of course, if Ben Gibson insisted that he only wanted to come to return to Teesside then I suppose Burnley would either be forced to consider a Boro deal or see his value drop further if they continue to freeze him out.

  102. Somehow this seems like an International break. But luckily we have the window open now to get some fresh air in.

    How on earth can it take so long to find a defender? I always thought it was more difficult to find strikers and attacking midfielders in January …

    BTW, any info on the injury sustained by Roberts? I hope he is back on Saturday.

    Up the Boro!

  103. Jarkko
    I agree, it does seem like an international break with only boring
    news about potential loan signings etc. Now if the hierarchy at MFC had had any sense we would have had a match to look forward to tonight along with 16 other clubs and possibly have been another 2 points better off than we are now.

  104. It seems Boro are keen on Leicester’s Filip Benkovic but he’s bit like Ben Gibson in that since joining the club 18 months ago for a big money move of £13m has yet to start a league game. He did at least go on loan to Celtic last season where he made 20 league appearances but suffered a knee injury in January 2019 that kept him sidelined for three months and he’s only made two league starts in over 12 months.

    Worryingly, he made his first appearance for Leicester in the FA Cup third round but had to go off after an hour with another knee injury. The question has to be asked whether he can play three games in a week and cover the current defensive injury crisis at Boro rather than join it – or indeed is even match fit.

    1. Due diligence is something that MFC haven’t been particularly good at in the past as various Donkey Sanctuaries will confirm but signing perma crocks takes it to a whole new level.

      1. Hopefully Benkovic will undergo a thorough medical but his comeback from injury at Celtic consisted of two brief appearances as sub separated by three weeks followed by a start, which saw him go off after 60 minutes and then not play again for six weeks until the last game of the season. Apparently up until his injury in January 2019 he’d looked a good player but it sounded like he’d being playing with pain killers just before that injury.

        Again, my question is what would be the point of taking a player with suspect fitness on loan when Boro will have most of their injured defenders back before the end of February. We only need someone who can play the next 6 games in February – anything less seems pointless.

  105. JW has made the point that GF and RS will need game time with the under 23’s and 18’s before they can be considered for first team selection. If that is the case then why are we chasing loan replacements who have similar backgrounds in that they have either been out injured or have played very little football in the last twelve months and as Werdermouth points out are just as likely to add to the injury crisis rather than solve it.

    If this is a transition season then surely now is the time to make do and mend, saving funds for the summer when a full overhaul can take place. Yet again, to me, there seems to be a lack of a definitive or joined up strategy in place at MFC. 😎

  106. Looks like options for a CB on loan is narrowing with Bournemouth now saying Simpson is not available.

    With Watford prowling for BG then there does not seem to be much left on the “preferred” list.

    This looks like we are heading towards a last minute panic deal at the end of the window! 😎

    1. It probably would have made more sense if Boro could have got a young central defender in at the beginning of January to get up to speed – or indeed any target who was short on games.

      Though, I’m still of the view that while Boro can’t handle another defensive injury (or red card) in the next few weeks, it’s hard to see the merits of getting defensive cover on loan given most injured players will be available to play before February is over. Maybe Boro should have just signed an out-of-contract defender until the end of the season.

      Anyway, it doesn’t seem like most teams in the Championship have been particularly active in the January window so far with 10 clubs yet to bring in any player. Perhaps the FFP rules mean that there is little cash left to splash – only Fulham with their parachute payments have spent big with £25m on two players – the Wolves winger Cavaleiro for £15m and Bobby Reid from Cardiff for £10m. The only other club with a net spend so far are Millwall who bought Ipswich keeper Bartosz Bialkowski for £900k – though he was already on loan at the New Den.

  107. Do we really need to bring in new faces? This season is effectively over now and mid table mediocrity beckons. Let’s not waste any money and keep our powder dry for 20/21.

  108. Is the season over? We’re currently 5 matches without a win. Continue that for another 5 games and suddenly things don’t look very clever.

    Probably still won’t get relegated but say we end the season roughly the way we began it then attracting players for a play-off push next year gets a lot harder. Disquiet around Woodgate will flare up again and it’s likely the fans will spend more time arguing with each other than supporting the team. End result, mid-table mediocrity next season again, at best and another reset when Woodgate quits/is fired. The results of the rest of this season are the foundation that next season will be built on.

    Best way in any sport to shoot yourself in the foot is to pretend the next few points/games/whatever don’t really matter.

    What I would like to see is the team aim for results to a level that’s close to a play-off level. It usually takes 1.8 points per match to get to the playoffs. We have 19 matches left. If we can manage 1.6 points per match (28 points) for the rest of the season we’ll end up mid-table but we’ll have shown intent for next year.

    Personally I think that not shoring up the team’s biggest problem right now would send exactly the wrong message, and if I was Woodgate I would wonder why I am not being supported.

    1. In principle one cannot argue with that line deleriad.
      We appear to have done OK getting the two MC lads in, hopefully Roberts´ injury is not too serious.

      The CB situation appears a little more complex in that there do not look to be many available players around.
      As the majority on here agree, Ben would be a poor loan, with the cost probably wasted money in terms of what we get from him. I think we do need another CB though, as we have done since before the season began. (MFC getting it all wrong once more)
      This would release McNair into midfield and if Woods is not going get game time, cannot understand that one, then certainly cover for Shotton and Friend, one of whom will probably suffer a set back and we do not know when January perma crock Ayala will be fit.

      Woodgate may not say much, but even he must be disappointed at the situation somewhat.

  109. Apologies if someone has already mentioned this (as it seems obvious) but isn’t the simplest solution to our centre-back issue to recall Stubbs from his loan, then play him most weeks? That way we get an extra man at the back and not only does his development continue, it actually improves as he plays in our system with our players at our level.

    For once – possibly the first time ever – I think I disagree with you, Deleriad. Whilst I can agree that writing games off is a bad idea and that momentum is key for next season I think that misses the point about this season has primarily been about – getting the finances in order. Realistically, I’m not sure that next season will be about a promotion push, though it should be about setting up a genuine push for the following season.

    1. It is a judgement call about how much to spend now versus save for later.

      I suspect that Stubbs doesn’t have a recall clause because it’s hard to imagine a club taking someone on loan for the second half of a season with a recall clause in.

      I do think football clubs have to be like sharks and always keep going forwards, partly just to stand still. It’s one thing being 2-3 games from the end of the season then switching off but right now there’s still a lot of the season to go and I think writing it off now would end up costing us more in terms of lost gate receipts and so on next season than investing in a nice shiny centre back now and pushing as far up the table as we can.

      If as the club says, Wood isn’t really a CB and assuming Shotton and Friend leave in the summer then that means we only have Ayala, Fry and Stubbs. I don’t think anyone will offer Ayala a hefty pay cheque in the Championship so it’s probably 50/50 whether we keep him. Burnley may also be back for Fry to replace Gibson on the bench.

      I don’t think promotion next year is realistic but I do think challenging for the top 6 *ought* to be, with somewhere in the top 10 counted as a success. If the season ends poorly this year and the club doesn’t show ambition now, I think we may lose McNair in the summer and struggle to keep hold of some of our break-through talent.

  110. deleriad, you are quite correct no wins in 5 but let’s be fair and look a bit closer at those statistics.

    1. Two of those matches were against Spurs and we all know their pedigree, apart from the first 30 minutes of the second game, we came out of those encounters with credit.

    2. Fulham, yes we were played off the park by a team that has just been relegated from the Premiership and retained a lot of Premiership quality players.

    3. Derby, nobody can deny that we should have won that match, only to get thwarted by a last minute worldly.

    4. Birmingham, two first half injuries to key players in an already threadbare team, a missed penalty and to fight back from a goal down.

    5. 5 games in a hectic 16 days (or 6 in 20 days if you count Preston, but that was a win so we don’t want to count that) which even at the beginning we had several injuries to senior players. Even some of the young players (Spence/Coulson etc) looked out on their feet at the end of some of those games but they left nothing on the pitch.

    So I reiterate that you are correct there has not been any wins in 5 but in my eyes the stats don’t tell the whole story and the squad (or what’s left of it) have not done that badly.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Interesting talking to my Boro contact the other day and he rated Coulson better than Spence although he said that it was unbelievable how both had burst into the scene this season.

      What he did say was that in this current game of football that anyone with pace would do well.

      Also he said out new keepers stats were very impressive!


  111. Ref to Ayala. This is one player we should keep. He loves the club and the area. Has been loyal. I’m sure he would take a pay cut to stay. At 29 he plenty of years left in him.
    If Uncle Steve is thinking of getting BG like he did with Downing and paying their wages, that would be a big mistake. Far better line up a deal for Dani.

    1. That’s the problem with “gifts” Malcolm, they come nicely wrapped and with the best of intentions but when we unwrap them they often don’t fit or just not what we really needed let alone wanted. Still its the thought that counts!

      I struggle to see how MFC can negotiate contracts financially downwards with a few of the players that we would want to retain with the BG pantomime going on in the background.

      1. Yes, would you be happy if somebody who left to better themselves, nothing wrong with that, but failed, came back on big bucks because the Owner is his uncle.

        Of course not.

  112. I can see the reports in a few weeks time, Ayala still out with his New Year Ankle mystery, Gibson with a “niggly groin”, Fry hamstring still problematic, Shotton breaking down again in U 23’s, Friend lasting 45 minutes then back to rehab, Benkovic still not fit after his long lay off but Woods holding his own at least.

    As Stubbs has just gone back out on loan to Den Haag in the Netherlands (a week later could have given a whole new perspective) what about recalling Enes Mahmutovic who is also out in the Netherlands with Maastricht? Admittedly I haven’t seen much of the lad but what I did see didn’t raise any great concerns or worries.

  113. I’d agree with Deleriad on the point that if Woodgate’s results started to dip he would probably lose some of the backing he’s gained from unconvinced supporters after that good run of results in December. Though I should point out that Boro have only 17 games left (unless they do indeed make the play-offs) and I think I’ve calculated we need something like 2.4 points per game to make 75 points – though probably only 0.9 points per game to avoid relegation.

    That was the problem of picking up just 2 from 9 points in January – even if as Exmil noted we can consider ourselves unlucky to not have obtained 6. We’ve lost the momentum and Boro have to essentially out-perform the 11 teams above us until the end of the season to finish above them and in the play-offs. It was never going to be easy and bad luck in games will always happen so winning 13-14 of those 17 is almost impossible even with a full squad.

    I think that our January defensive targets have in some ways been guided by the early January notion that maybe the play-offs were in touching distance so we needed some quality signings rather than those who would just do a job. However, now that the gap is up to 11 (could be 12 after tonight’s games) then surely the club need to adjust their thinking. Boro have been chasing defenders on big PL wages who arrived on £13-15m fees. They may have been the right kind of player if the play-offs were the target but realistically I doubt no team has made up that gap this late in the season.

    Of course, as a manager (or head coach if you like) Woodgate will want to get as many wins as possible under belt and maybe finishing in the top ten in his first season, which was also one of downsizing, would indeed be creditable. Nevertheless, the club needs to have the medium-term strategy in mind and I’m quite surprised some of those players coming to the end of their contracts weren’t moved on. OK that’s never easy – especially if most of them are injured! I’m still hoping we can somehow sell Britt for anything around £7-8m as he’ll be into his final year of his contract in the summer and maybe end up leaving for next to nothing if nobody bites – which is certainly a waste of potential scarce resources.

    So with just a few days to go let’s hope Boro can make some good deals – but definitely not any unnecessary ones that don’t help next season.

    1. Werder
      Your statement that no club has made up an 11 point gap this late in the season to reach the playoffs may well be true, though Villa maybe came close to that last season. Is anyone able to produce the League table after say 30 matches last season?

      1. Ken, I use the website and you can look at the table of any season at any point using the Season and Round selectors near the top. As you can see from the link below, after 29 games Villa had 42 points and were just 5 points behind Bristol City in 6th place on 47 – coincidentally, the Robins are currently 6th with 47 points after 29 games this season…

  114. I think the problem we have with moving people on is that their current deals are such that few, if any, in the Championship are able to match or better the terms.

    The likelihood is that those with contracts running down will end up leaving on a free unless MFC can do a deal with the likes of Howson & Ayala and retain them; Gestede, Shotton, Johnson and Friend being released.

    I think the same will happen next year to the likes of AC and BA. Given these scenarios, we need to retain as much cash as possible to assist with the rebuilding when needed. 😎

      1. I agree entirely.

        MFC have shot themselves in the foot not once but twice. Firstly by paying over the odds in some instances by way of transfer fees and secondly by offering contract terms which are so good that they are then unable to move players on, additionally losing any residual value before contracts expire.

        In any other business the senior executives would not last long running the business in this fashion. 😎

      2. Werder
        I’m very surprised, I really thought Villa were well short of the playoffs at this stage of last season, but thanks for the information. It’s certainly a website that’s very useful for statisticians like myself.

        1. Yes it’s a very useful site Ken. I’m actually crunching some numbers to look at what teams have done at this stage to make the play-offs and will probably put it into a table for my article on Friday.

        2. Actually Ken your memory has not deceived you because just walking through the league table last season I noticed Aston Villa’s form dropped off after game 29 and they ended up 11 points outside the play-offs down in 13th with just 12 games to play. They then accumulated 31 points out of a possible 36 to make the play-offs – winning 10, drawing 1 and losing 1. Quite amazing really!

      3. I’d be interested to see how some teams have imploded after a great start. To have a bad start and come good is great, but to have a great start and snatch mid table from the mouth of promotion is agony.

        ( Yes, I’m looking at you Boro).

  115. Football is unlike any other business, that much is clear!

    Underperform as a manager and you get the sack with a massive payout whilst in the real world, you are dismissed with nothing. Likewise as a player you can underperform til the cows come home and you will still get paid a vast amount of money beyond your worth.

    In my professional life, if I had not hit targets then I would have been ion an improvement plan with the real threat of losing my job if I didn’t pull my socks up. And should that happen, rather than walking into another role, i would have found it somewhat harder to do so. If I were to gain employment, the likelihood would be on a reduced salary, not an increase!

    One would have thought that the likes of Ayala and Howson would work out that they are not good enough for the Prem and no Championship club will be able to pay them what they get with Boro. On that basis, then surely taking a pay cut with your existing club would make sense rather than risking it.

    Or am I missing something? The answer is yes as it is football and normal rules don’t apply!

    Small rant over!

  116. A few wins now and we can be sure that we play in the Champioship next season. Only then we can commit to have Ayala and Howson here next season. Not before, me thinks.

    Up the Boro!

  117. The three Prem Clubs that come down will be picked over by the remaining Prem Clubs taking their best players. That means that those Parachute supported Clubs will spend silly money outbidding Championship Clubs for the best of the Championship (as Boro did).

    My take on it is that Howson and Ayala both represent good quality solid Championship Players. That they are out of contract means that the transfer fee that they have saved can be used to supplement their salary.

    If say they would ordinarily cost a transfer fee of circa £3m for arguments sake thats the equivalent to over two years of those players existing salaries.. A three year contract will therefore only cost their new cash laden club figuratively speaking less than a year of their existing remuneration but far in excess of what Boro could afford.

    I suspect that our present budgetary controls will be relaxed in the Summer after the last three year FFP cycle lapses and we clear out big salaries (and hopefully some with incoming fees as well) hence why some extra cash may be splurged on the likes of Ben in the Summer as we start another boom cycle. Who knows maybe some of those players whose contracts are expiring may have been told to sit tight and wait.

    1. Interesting website and it’s hard to say how accurate those salary figures are but it does offer the disclaimer to say they are estimates and actually salaries may vary.

      As for what Boro will be able to afford next season will depend on both what the accounts show for the year up to June 2019 (which are due to be published in a couple of weeks and what the club know about the current year (ending June 2020). The FFP rules then allow a loss of up to £39m over three years, which will then include the expenditure for 2020-21. Incidentally, Boro made a loss of £7m in June 2018, which was the year Boro had their first parachute payment.

      What we do know is for this season and next season, Boro have had no parachute payments and that in general club income has been more or less the same as its running costs. That means the playing side expenditure has been covered by Championship Basic Award and Solidarity Payments and cash raised from sales of players.

      I think the Championship Basic Award is around £2.3m and the Solidarity Payment is calculated at 30% of a Year 3 parachute payment, which is around £4.5m. So Boro start with £7m to cover the cost of wages and transfer fees with anything beyond that being picked up by Steve Gibson to a limit of basically £13m per season – depending on how close a club is to that three-year maximum limit of a £39m loss.

      So you could say the maximum Boro have to spend in any season is about £20m – depending on whether Steve Gibson wants to take the full hit. Though given that Boro were pretty limited on their spending in the summer to Bola, Dijsteel and Browne – it’s likely there’s not much credit in the system for next season. Perhaps Boro can manage a maximum wage bill of something like £15m next season and transfers being financed by sales and a few million in the kitty.

      1. I indeed doubt that there is much if any cash sloshing around at the minute. We have moved on Randolph and if Britt doesn’t go now he will be nailed on to depart in the summer if there are any takers on his current salary. Since his injury his effectiveness in the side has been ominous by his enforced absence. Had he been a 25 goal a season striker things may be different but clearly it isn’t going to happen at Boro and I doubt many would be up in arms to see him leave for financial reasons.

        Come June, Gestede’s contract is up as are Howson’s and Ayala’s along with a few more like Friend and Shotton supposedly amongst the higher earners. There is a bit of a mixture in those players of Marry, Snog, Avoid but regardless it should leave the payroll a lot lighter. The development and emergence of Fletcher, Spence, Tav, Coulson and Pears etc. with the likely addition of Stubbs returning means that extortionate wages should be almost wiped out.

        I would guess that Saville is another who was enticed here (lets face it Millwall didn’t need to think twice) and if a suitor comes along he would be “avaiable”. My concern is that come the summer a huge chunk of what is freed up is disproportionately spent (or wasted) on one or two who will add little more and if injured considerably less.

        1. My view is that Britt has to be sold sooner rather than later but again he’s probably in the driving seat to decide if he can get a better deal elsewhere – which is unlikely. Maybe Saville is also a luxury we can’t really afford but we probably made him a good offer that he’ll struggle to match elsewhere. If you look at those figures I just posted (below) on Britt, Fletcher, Saville and McNair – then we probably need to shift a couple of them.

      2. I should add in terms of current liabilities (that’s financial) on transfer fees for players who will currently be under contract next season include 25% of the fees (i.e. the total fee spread over the length of their contract) for Britt, Fletcher, Saville and McNair – which I calculate at around £8.5m (25% of their fees £15m + £7m + £7m + £5m). Plus of course their wages with perhaps Britt on £1.8m per season and no doubt the others easily making another £1.8m. So that would be at least £12m for just those four players out of next season’s budget.

        On the plus side, Boro will probably receive structured payments for sales of players like Adama, Gibson, Bamford, Braithwaite and Flint to offset some of these costs. So working out what Boro’s budget will be is complicated and difficult to estimate accurately unless you’re Boro’s accountant.

  118. Possibly the reason why MFC paid such high wages for some of their players and such long contracts was that if they didn’t they wouldn’t have been able to sign those players in the first place as for some reason many players assume that Teesside is somewhere near the Arctic circle. As for paying large transfer fees it’s the case of blowing away the opposition, certainly true in the case of Assombalonga.

    1. Absolutely right Ken but someone somewhere should have considered the psychology of those players and their rationale in coming to the Boro. As in all commercial situations the reason why people earn big money offshore and in some very inhospitable regions of the Caspian and elsewhere is purely cash. It doesn’t make them better workers or more motivated in fact the motivation is often the first thing that goes and its only the money that stops them from walking away. Hardly an ideal scenario or backdrop to build a team looking for sporting excellence and glory.

      There is also the unavoidability of Players who wear their hearts on their sleeves, busting a gut knowing what other shall we say “less inclined” individuals are picking up for their mercenary ways. Synergy plays a massive part in any team event. Its difficult to build up relationships, trust and integrity when you have little respect for individuals morals regardless of how subliminal or buried deep within your subconscious it may be and unaware of how it affects your thoughts and actions.

      That brings us on to Boro spending big and getting scant reward for their efforts or at best a short term hike until the Ramriez/Ravenelli type bubble burst or should that be implode? The Downing “gift” had a questionable impact albeit for different reasons as will no doubt Gibson if he returns. More obvious ones like Valdes and especially Gestede screamed “obvious” to me as soon as we were linked with them.

      Mood management in any business is critically important. Be it a miserable Mourinho, a wily Wenger, a fearsome Fergie or a jolly Jurgen. One or two poor scouting missions missing the bigger picture will inevitably waste a lot of time and money.

  119. We have got some of the best results by plying with wing backs. So kind of 3-5-2, in fact. And McNair and Howson has been good ball playing centre backs, too.

    As JW would initially play with 4-3-3 and as we do not have many fit centre backs in the tean now, I was wondering when we shall see Woody to revert back to 4-3-3 formation.

    If he did it versus Blackburn on Saturday, I would suggest the following team:
    Spence, Howson, Fry, Coulson
    McNair, Roberts, Saville
    Nmecha , Asombalonga, Fletcher

    Of course we need to have Fry and Britt available again. As well as Roberts. But I think this would be quite a nice line up if we want to play four at the back and press high, like.

    Up the Boro!

    1. I have never been impressed when Woodgate has played with a back four. The defenders that he has available are not great at defending so in my mind its better to stick with Wing Backs.

  120. I see we are being linked again with Jones from Rangers and Dykes from Livingston. If there is any truth in the stories I hope the Club do their due diligence on the Players off field lives as much as they do their on field performances to ensure they are bringing in the right focus, stability and attitudes.

  121. Werdermouth

    Re your point about MFC receiving structured payments in respect of the likes of Braithwaite etc.

    If you look at the Companies House details a number of charges have been registered in respect of stage payments for Marten de Roon & also Martin Braithwaite which indicates to me that MFC has sold these payment to their bankers in order to receive the funds immediately. This means when the funds are due they will go to the bank and not to MFC.

    It may be that they have also made similar arrangements in respect of Traore and Bamford so it’s difficult to predict with any degree of certainty exactly what the cash flow position is. 😎

  122. JW has confirmed that Roberts will be out for between 6-8 weeks. This just emphasises the risks in recruiting players who have had little game time. We are again short of a play maker! 😎

  123. JW also confirmed Ayala is still 4/6 weeks away although Friend/Shotton should be available in a couple of weeks after playing with the U23’s. There was no mention of Fry, is he back in training or are they waiting for scan results.

    KP in Spain, yes that is the risk of getting players on loan who haven’t been playing regularly but I suggest if they are playing regularly they wouldn’t be available to come on loan and would be out of our reach to buy.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Exmil

      Yes a case of dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t. Let’s hope if they do recruit a CB then they do not also suffer an injury through lack of game time. 😎

  124. Good news that Marcus Tavenier has signed a new three and a half year deal with the club.

    My take on the Dale Fry situation is that if he was not fit to play then we would have been told about it. I think he is able to play but they want to keep the opposition guessing. 😎

    1. I suspect that Mogga just may have a few contacts around the Teesside area and knows exactly what the situation is with Fry.

      Bit of a blow about Roberts as he was looking a little bit special. By the time he is fit and then gets match fit the season will be all but over. Long term it may work out better in our favour. Had he stormed the Championship over these next 3 months then its possible we couldn’t have afforded him come the summer and there would have been plenty of offers from elsewhere alerted by his MOM performances. This way we can get him fit, used to the area and his team mates and hopefully agree to another loan for the entire season from next August.

    1. Fits the low cost model, even if he doesn’t make it we would likely only lose £400K to £500K which compared to some of our more recent purchases is chicken feed. If he does make it (which based on his performance against Liverpool would indicate a strong likelihood) he would represent a bargain.

      1. I would hope that if we are buying a player it would be on the basis of having done our due diligence and not based merely on one impressive performance on tv.

        On too many occasions we have purchased players who have flattered to deceive.

        We need players who can perform at Championship level regularly and on a consistent basis. 😎

  125. Strong rumours going around that Ravel Morrison is at Rockliffe today. An undeniable talent on his day but he just hasn’t had one of those days for six years or so. Comes with a load of baggage unfortunately which appears to be the reason for his failings in his professional career.

    Chris Wilder couldn’t make it work for him at the Blades so I’m wondering what Woody has that can very belatedly put his career back on track bearing in mind that even Fergie binned him off. I suppose it helps having Leo to perhaps curb any unwanted excesses but if he goes back to old habits the damage he could do to the younger playing staff and club morale in general could be very costly indeed.

    Best case is if he gets his head down and wants to move on with his life he could be an inspirational signing. Middling case is that he is another Ramirez, comes in and works his magic before reverting to type. Worst case is he comes in takes a salary for nothing and upsets a lot of people in the process.

    1. Just had a look at his Wiki page and the section headed “Legal History”!

      Barge pole comes to mind (and thats the polite interpretation of my thoughts) so I hope its just fake news and nothing come of it.

      1. Sounds like a young Woody. But not all was true and the original charge happened nearly nine years ago.

        Perhaps Woody can use his own experience to help this guy to concentrate on his footballing career.

        Anyway, his current boss is quoted in saying his has trained very well and seems like a good professional nowadays.

        I am not saying perferct fit, but I know Ian Gill and co pay a lot of attention in checking players back ground. They are not more stupid than RR or me. At least they know more rhan me, like.

        Up the Boro!

  126. According to his Wikipedia entry his professional career and personal life are highly questionable to say the least.

    I just hope this is not another serious error on the part of MFC! 😎

    1. Historically the Club does seem to have a bit of an attraction or penchant for bad boys. Its not something that sits comfortably with me at all and something which I can find no defence or mitigation for.

      As a beacon for the community I think MFC should have set their sights much higher in the past when bringing certain individuals into the Club and area. Role models play a very important part of young peoples lives and non more so than their sporting heroes. As much as we love it and are proud of it Teesside is an underprivileged area with a lot of social issues and challenges that its populous have to face in their everyday lives.

      Organised crime, drugs, assaults, burglaries and a rate of one and a half times the national rate for domestic violence is the reality for many in Middlesbrough and its surrounding areas. None of which is helped of course by having a scandal plagued Police force in special measures.

  127. Harold Moukoudi the 6ft 3″ centre back that Tony Pulis was supposedly interested in the summer before last is being linked with us. He is also linked with Derby, Burnley, West Ham, Leeds, West Brom, Stoke etc. etc.

  128. Maryhill FC

    “The difference between the EPL and the Scottish juniors.

    West Ham have just posted losses of £28.2m, while vice-chair Karren Brady earned £1.14m.

    Maryhill Juniors posted record profits of £17.50, while our President Tam is owed six quid for sock tape.“

  129. Anyone who knows me is aware of my nostalgic love of Boro’s past history, but thanks to Werdermouth leading me to the website I’m even able to recall the 1950/51 season in greater detail which showed Boro top of the First Division after 25 matches. For those interested here are some of the statistics:-
    1st Boro P25 W14 D8 L3 F61 A34 Pts36
    2nd Spurs P26 W15 D6 L5 F57 A32 Pts36
    3rd Arsenal P26 W14 D5 L7 F51 A29 Pts33
    8th Man Utd P26 W11 D6 L9 F35 A30 Pts28
    13th Liverpool P25 W9 D7 W9 F34 A38 Pts25

    Boro had lost the fewest matches and scored the most goals at that time. Ok Boro only finished 6th as they wilted shattering a 13 year old’s dreams, but nostalgia is wasted on the young and I was happy to recall part of my childhood. It certainly impressed my Portuguese restauranter friend Georgio, and also that I was able to show him how SC Farense (Faro) finished 5th in the 1994/95 season and qualified for the equivalent of the Europa League.

    I regularly visit Georgio’s restaurant and spend a couple of hours talking about the history of the Boro, also English and Portuguese football in general after closing hours. He is really interested and approaches me about my knowledge of football history. Maybe I’ve unearthed another Jarkko as he’s always keen to know how Boro are performing at the moment.

    I thought that last year would be my last year in the Algarve as my health isn’t too good at the moment and he gave me a bottle of red wine last year ‘for being a good customer’ so he was surprised to see me this year. But I really think this year will definitely be my last overseas holiday as I find airport travel too much of a struggle, but will always remember the kindness shown to me by the Portuguese people.

    Thanks again to Werdermouth for directing me to the aforementioned website. It has certainly unearthed a deeper source of enjoyment and nostalgia for this particular Boro fan.

  130. As deadline day comes to a close both for Transfers and Brexit and we seemingly have the Tory Cabinet spending more time in the North east than Ben Gibson of late the usual last day rumours (or juicy tittle tattle) are gathering pace.

    Watford have allegedly offered £10m to Burnley for a player that seemingly spends more time at home in the Boro than he does at Turf Moor which could provide an interesting twist although with his “niggly groin” a late unexpected twist may not be recommended. My guess is that Burnley will have to accept that he either stays with them for the remainder of his contract and rots or they accept that he is a home bird and doesn’t travel well which is why I would be surprised if he ended up even further from his Teesside ties down South.

    Moukoudi has seemingly landed at Rockliffe International to sign up on loan until the end of the season. Staying with a French theme there are hints that Metz are trying to put something together for the services of Gestede which I’m guessing will be dependant upon how much SG wants to pay up whats left of his contract and how much Metz are prepared to contribute.

    Stephen Walker is likely to go somewhere today out on loan (Crewe?) so with Gestede also possibly departing that would leave us light in the Striker department and thats before we consider that someone might make a late desperate bid for Britt if their intended targets fall through. Apart from the stale links to Strikers from north of the border there is a new one in the form of San Lorenzo youngster Adolfo Gaich. A young Argentinian hotshot who it would appear has a great future at the top level. I’m not sure how a medical etc. could be completed but its an interesting twist. After Moreno and de Pena (not forgetting Forlan) I won’t get too excited.

    The Ravel Morrison link looks like a nailed on certainty which considering the views on social media around Teesside is a brave move by the Manager, the Chairman and the Club. The Jordan Jones from Rangers link seems to be almost too easy but again I think its the wrong type of attitude to be bringing into the Club and back to where he seemed to struggle separating his career from his social miscreants.

    No doubt there will be twists and turns and plenty of fake news to put clubs and media off the scent.

Leave a Reply