Blackburn v Boro
Blackburn v Boro Saturday 16th September 2023
Well, Diasborians, it’s OFB back on the plot, giving you all the latest rumours (true or not?), (made up statistics!)and general scuttle butt news about the Boro. One thing I will do, is tell you all straight, because there’s nothing like the plain unvarnished truth about the situation we find our team in at the moment.
I’ve written this preview a couple of times as the more I think about it, there appears to be more questions than answers. I don’t profess to have the answers but I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone else thinks!
The 2023–24 EFL Championship (referred to as the Sky Bet Championship for sponsorship reasons) is the 8th season under its current title and the 32nd season under its current league division format. The season began on 4 August 2023 and will finish hopefully, when Boro win the playoffs at Wembley on Sunday May 26th 2024. Currently as it stands in the league, Blackburn Rovers rank 13th, while Middlesbrough hold the lowest of the low 24th position. Not a position that anyone on here forecast I’m sure at the start of the season?
Middlesbrough are leading the way with one statistic this season in that they currently have the lowest number of yellow cards (5) awarded to players. Perhaps this is a damning statistic for those Diasborians that are of the opinion that perhaps our players are too nice and don’t like to mix it when the going gets tough?Let’s face it in the last defeat there were a few heads that drooped as the game went on as we meekly accepted defeat. Could you ever imagine Bruce Rioch or Mogga having one of their teams not fighting until the end?
We need a player who with spit,blood and snot, can snarl with a rallying cry, to ensure that every tackle is won,every blade of grass is covered and every free kick, corner and ball out of play decision is challenged. This is the championship and for every ‘fancy Dan’ and trick merchant, a workhorse,is required to battle to the top. Can Lewis O’Brien prove to be that player? A player who can accumulate yellow cards but can also produce man of the match performances?
It seems a bit early in the season to be talking about a relegation battle when there are so few games played (5) and so many games (41) still to play. The natives are not happy and are unrestful. Whilst we on this blog are not usually nasty or derogatory about our players, a trawl,through the comments on other Boro websites makes interesting reading.
Engel looks a bit lost & Paddy gets beat every time. McGree needs to be starting. O’Brien & Greenwood have come here to play. So that team is bang on for me.
I feel Engel is an attacking LB playing a slightly reserved role, McNair is obviously not a RB, Silvera and Rogers need taking out the firing line and OBrien is a must, he's that good
The danish league fans made out like he was Giles great at attacking but he can’t defend and yet we’re playing him like a wide centre back
I think Greenwood will be bang average. Hope I’m wrong. Every Leeds fan I’ve spoken too doesn’t rate him at all. He was very good as a youngster, became very in and out with them, reckon he might need a fresh start as there is a lot of talent there.
Has to be Greenwood or McGree as the 10, the other experiments haven't worked, wingers as No.10s is just a no.
Hackney was poor today in his latest game (not saying he shouldn’t start but was very very poor) and Smith got absolutely tortured at West Brom before he decided he had enough
The midfield can’t do much when the forwards are as still as a brick wall tho
I'd even consider getting Jones and Forss in the team on either side instead of mcgree.
I’d go with Forss up front to be fair , Latte lath didn’t impress yesterday , decision making when 1 on 1 was shxxx
Well Diasborians, there you are then, what others are thinking at the moment. What we all agree on however, is that Boro definitely need a cool headed goalscorer and that is not OFB being clever, it’s really only me stating the bleeding obvious.
From a relatively good shot performance of 52 inside the opposing penalty box to date, we have only scored a miserly 3 goals, which shows that the strikers hesitation combined with a lack of confidence has contributed to our lowly position.
The stats for our possession are quite good and our average is 56:2% which shows Boro are not being dominated by the opposition.
Perhaps our best team selection to play against Blackburn may be something like this.
LM O Brien
CM Playing as a 10 Greenwood
CF Latte Lath
So no place for Howson although could he slot into a defensive position and move Lenihan onto the right back slot?
I’ll leave it up to you Diasborians to have a think and come back with some alternatives.
Turning to our opponents Blackburn Rovers who are not playing particularly well at the moment, they were missing several players against Plymouth Argyle with Dom Hyam also taken off at half-time due to illness.
They have had two weeks to regroup and work on the training ground after losing the game to Plymouth and It was far from the ideal result for Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side to sign off with. The 3-0 defeat was apparently a scoreline that didn't reflect the 90 minutes, as Blackburn were wasteful in big moments of the match.
Jon Dahl Tomasson knows it can be tough to adjust to Championship football but hopes new signing Semir Telalovic can be a long-term success at Rovers. The 23-year-old forward arrived from Borussia Monchengladbach on Deadline Day, putting pen to paper over a three-year deal at Ewood Park.Telalovic’s arrival bolsters Rovers’ attacking options following the departures of Ben Brereton and Bradley Dack earlier this summer.
He scored 22 goals in 49 games at Under-23 level and came into the first-team picture earlier this year, making his Bundesliga debut against Augsburg.
“The recruitment team have worked on Semir for a while,” said Tomasson. “He is a player who has been a late developer, he has scored some goals.
“He is not a player who is used to the Championship, but he is a player who wants to become better. Hopefully, we can help him to become better.It is different playing at Championship level if you have not experienced that, we all know that. Young Tom Bloxham has played his first minutes in the Championship. We know it is a tough league, one of the hardest in the world. Time will tell, but I know my players will work extremely hard to become better.”
The forward wasn’t eligible for the Plymouth game, but has now had the chance to train with his new team-mates during the international break ahead of back-to-back home games against Boro and Sunderland.
Blackburn are also hoping to have Niall Ennis and Arnor Sigurdsson back available after the break, although it will take time for the latter to build up his fitness after missing the entirety of pre-season.
It means that our opponents headed into the international break with seven points from their first five matches. Two wins, two defeats and a draw mixed in.
In conclusion it’s fair to say it’s anyone’s guess at the result of this game.
But, but …..
I’m going for Boro3 Blackburn 0 !
You just have to love an optimist don’t you?
An excellent starter, well done. we're off to Cornwall today for a late break and the first break for nearly two years. On the 13th September last year I was being worked on by a team of surgeons for just over twelve and a half hours so despite Boro's lowly position I'm glad to be here. Thank you NHS, all of you. And thank you DiasBoro for all your good wishes too, much appreciated.
I'll follow the blog during the week and hope desperately for a change in fortunes on Saturday. I know it's the hope and all that but Boro just need a little confidence and belief, that was a good point about the hesitancy of the forwards and or players in a shooting position.
Anyway all the best everyone and [articularly Ken if he's reading the blog.
Thanks OFB for the opener, I still think this squad will come good, once everyone has settled in, hopefully sooner than later.
Come on BORO.
@exmil I hope you are right, because I am thinking exactly like that, too. The only way is up, I think.
@OFB And thank for a great opener. Now that the internationals are (mainly) over, let's concentrate again on Boro. There will be an international break in a month's time as well as in Novermber, too. So let's enjoy the ride as long as Boro is in action. And there is the extra of League Cup Round Three, too!
Up the Boro!
@OFB - Your Starter (and thanks for it, old chap) shows that football will soon be back with us. I am NOT so confident of a 3-0 Boro win but would be delighted if it were to turn out like that.
Incidentally, my calendar has no mention of the game on it for Saturday 16th September. I have no idea why I missed it off the list of Boro games, on the assumption it is not a game that has been re-arranged to this date, as the other Boro games stand out in red on September's page. Home to QPR on 2nd Sept, away to Sheff Wed on 18th Sept, home to So'ton on 23rd Sept and away to Watford on 30th Sept. So thanks for the reminder, OFB. If I have missed any others, no doubt people will let me know, but I have just entered details of the Blackburn game onto the calendar!
I had been planning a visit to Cropton on the North York Moors this weekend. Camped literally next door to the New Inn which is the home of the Great Yorkshire Brewery. It would be a poor show not to pop in a few times to sample the beers brewed there.
@forever-dormo You could download an app or just Google a link for the Championship League games for Middlesbrough. They even update any changes and you can receive prior notifications.
Last season exmil kindly posted a link for the same.
@pedro - Thanks, Pedro. I already have the app on my phone linking Boro to me, so I could get tickets etc, and it includes the fixtures. I must have used it at the start of the season to enter fixtures onto my hall calendar at home, but I guess by oversight I overlooked one of the fixtures (the Blackburn game but hopefully no others).
I note, on looking back at the app, that there is the League Cup fixture away to Bradford City on Tues 26th September at 7.45pm but obviously that will have been added to the fixture list only after the previous round and therefore after I entered the games onto the calendar. I will now write in the Bradford game. Two games added in minutes!
(Thanks, gang, for the reminders/corrections which are now evidenced on my calendar in red ink!).
Great opener OFB, thank you for that and getting us up and running again.
I wish I could share your optimism but our record at Ewood Park is not good!
Just been chatting with the Caddymaster at the golf club, a diehard Rovers supporter! He said they can’t score, I said neither can we except in our own net!
A point would be a good point but I fear that rovers will get the better of us again. ☹️😎
John - so glad the NHS did their work so well on you, enabling you to continue enjoying Boro (albeit from behind your sofa) and contributing so well on here.
OFB - Thank you for a very interesting and thorough opener. It must have taken you a very long time to pull together. Well done.
The EG has been steadily sowing the seeds of doubt in our minds in the last fortnight with articles from the Rovers manager and players about how unlucky they’ve been, how they’re playing great football and creating loads of chances, how results haven’t reflected performances, and so on. How much of that is their spin to deflect away from moderate results, it’s hard to say. However, a BR-supporting acquaintance of mine tells me that Rovers are top of the statistics league for the number of times per game they get the ball into the opposition penalty area; he also said that Boro are fourth in that table, which I think you hinted at in your opener, OFB.
If the Rovers people are correct in what they’re saying, then we face a difficult afternoon, as our defence is terribly porous. So I’ll stick my neck out here. If Lewis O’Brien is the player we hope he is, and if he plays to anchor the midfield, then I think we can get at least a draw. If not, then I can’t see anything other than a home win. I sincerely hope I’m wrong on that count.
I did n8t realise this before the BBC mentioned it. Boro, beaten in the play-off semi-finals last season, have picked up one point from their opening five games, making it the club's worst start to a campaign in their history.
Quite a start - and we as fans will remember that the last few matches were winless last season, too. Let's hope we take off after the Internation break.
I am hoping for a win but will happily take a draw. 1-2 win for us. Up the Boro!
Just looking at the stats for our own HH playing for England
A few scouts and managers will be taking a look as well.
Here’s the first half performance figures
It seems to me that the complete collapse, accompanied by apathy, and several other unwanted faults in any football club, which has happened since the threat of promotion raised it's head as the season ended, is not over by any means. there are several road blocks to recovery, none of which show any signs of being addressed. the three most obvious faults are fielded in every game. We won with confidence in our play and general attitude, gone! We introduced the practice of pointless dribbling, towards the corner flag. We now do not shoot at goal, perhaps regarding it as bad manners.
Pretty impressive stats from HH! Thanks OFB. As you say, the scouts will soon be out in force.
Shoud we play Hayden Hackney further up? He is becoming our best player and already an U21 international. This might able O'Brien to play in central midfield alongside Johnny Howson. If the latter is fit as he must be after the international break. Mind, he was injured the most of pre-season.
Up the Boro!
This is a good read about Boro and what happens in the coaching team.
Up the Boro!
@jarkko. If you do as you suggest who would drop out to facilitate both Howson & O’Brien? 😎
@k-p-in-spain That is tricky to say. But Hayden was excellent last season when used higher up. Was McGree injured back then?
McNair (Smith) - Fry - Leninhan - Bangura
Howson - O'Brien
McGree - Greenwood - Hackney
Up the Boro!
@jarkko. Definitely worth a try although I would like to see McGree in the 10 role and Hackney is right footed so would swap him to the other side.
With Silvera and Jones not included (not saying they should be) we look short on pace again and I am fearful that we will end up playing like we did under NW and CW where we were very slow in transitioning from defence to attack.
It will be interesting to see who MC selects on Saturday and if there are any noticeable improvements, there needs to be!😎
@jarkko - Thanks for the link, Jarkko. Very interesting and particularly noteworthy that when each new manager comes in, there's a good chance that members of his preferred backroom staff are brought in with him, leaving existing members of staff high and dry.
I think that degree of staff "churnover" is far too high in football clubs. If you allow managers to bring in hordes of their friends to fuflil roles as they move to a new club, and from club to club as they move on in their careers, those friends who comprise the manager's travelling circus are likely to feel they owe their loyalty to the manager who brought them in rather than the club which is paying their wages. If things are going wrong or being done badly, are those friendly members of the manager's team going to make that known outside the cricle of friends? Or do the supporters wait until the ship hits the rocks by which time it's too late to do anything so that, whilst the ship is destroyed, the members of the crew are motivated simply to save their lives/careers?
Feeling a certain amount of dread about this. On one hand, it's way too early in the season to be making judgements on the other hand we haven't won a game in the league since April 2023. Since the previous international break we have played 15 games in the league (13 regular, 2 play-off) won 2, drawn 4, lost 9 for the equivalent of 10 points from 15 games. That's not just relegation form it's stinking out the league form. Over a whole season that's struggling to get to 30 points.
Before the season started, it seemed reasonable to think that it might take us a dozen games to integrate the new players and get back up to speed. I figured we might have 15-18 points after 12 games. With 1 point after 5 games, a traditionally difficult game at Ewood park suddenly looks far more important than it should.
Football is random enough that we could easily come back with a 2-0 win but the historical record is against us. Thing is, it won't just be the result, it will be the performance. It has to be said that we have gone backwards at an alarming rate with no obvious sign of Carrick turning it around but we have had two weeks on the training pitch to work on our problems. If we turn up at Blackburn and there's no signs of improvement then, really for the first time, doubts will emerge over Carrick. It's early enough and he has enough credit in the bank that fans are likely to be divided into factions rather than turning against him en-masse. September, though, has some difficult matches.
It's no secret that my first choice was Corberan followed by Edwards. I felt burnt out by our habit of appointing rookie managers after experienced ones. Although Carrick had done significantly more coaching than the likes of Gerrard and Lampard, he hadn't served an apprenticeship the same way that AK or McClaren had. I was delighted to be wrong and, still now, I appreciate the way he's approaching management. Probably, quality will count and we have enough quality in the squad for a win or two out of the next 4 games.
What concerns me is that we seem to be trying to make a system work that maybe isn't possible with the quality of players we have. There's also the risk that Carrick simply got lucky for a while. I was looking back at Woodgate's season. For a while he had a golden patch. From the beginning of December until new year's day he had a run of 7 games, won 5 draw 1, lost 1. 16 points from 7 games. Imagine that was his first 7 games of the season then we would be thinking that Gibson had pulled a masterstroke. His actual first 7 games were won 2 draw 3, lost 2 so that might be 14 games, won 7, draw 4, lost 3.
These are all ifs and buts but it does make the point that sometimes it's more about timing and luck than anything else and maybe Carrick just got lucky by having his golden run at the start while Woodgate got unlucky with having a really bad run at the beginning. Probably what will happen is that we'll play another 10 games, revert to somewhere around what looks like normal, e.g. gaining 15 points and 1/3 of the way through the season we'll likely be in the bottom 3 with 16 points from 15 games. From this point, even decent mid-table form isn't going to get us out of the relegation spots by November and that is going to lead to unrest.
I have no idea what will happen this weekend. Is Carrick going to stick with the same system and players he's been using all along? Will he use the 2 weeks to adjust or change course? No one will know until 3pm on Saturday. I kind of dread it because if we don't win and the performance doesn't seem to have changed much it's just going to lead to strife and I'm not sure I want to deal with that.
What would I do? A large part of any game is confidence. I think I would have spent 2 weeks drilling players in an exciting new shape as much as a confidence trick as anything else. Going on to the pitch thinking you're going to win is 50% of actually winning.
I would go with 4-3-3
Smith - Fry - Lenihan - Engel
Hackney - Howson - O'Brien
Jones - Lath - McGree
Engel to provide the pace and width on the left and Jones to do the same on the right. McGree to cut in and have more of a free role. Hackney and O'Brien given licence to attack with Howson tasked on keeping the back door shut.
@deleriad - Nice, thoughtful piece. I would hesitate to choose the team, as you have done, but I couldn't disagree with any of the points you have made.
Apologies for the late "THANK YOU". OFB.
A brilliant Headliner, delivered with much thought and effort and most enjoyable.
I will not be there live, however hopefully I will watch it streamed.
No predictions, just hoping for the best. Not confident that the team really has the ability to score two goals. A massive problem for MC, as we cannot keep them out.
@jarkko Sorry, but I think JH is now probably out of it, especially when it comes to defending the back four.
@deleriad. Thanks Deleriad for an excellent incisive post. It was an enjoyable read if somewhat scary given the potential consequences if MC cannot get a playful tune out of his revised squad.
I would go with your team as it provides experience, youth and pace all of which are needed to win games in this league.
I have already said a point will be a good point given out track record at Ewood and our current circumstances, so fingers crossed for an improved performance at both ends of the pitch. 😎
Young Hackney getting plenty of plaudits on his England debut the other night,it's rare a debutant gets the minutes he did,it's usually a look and see, w,I'm sure he's been scouted by premiership and overseas clubs, if clubs do come in I hope Boro don't just sell for the money, and point him to top teams with top players ,it wouldn't be to his interest to go to a club that is constantly struggling
A very clear summary of where we stand although I do hope that the club (management and ownership) are more committed to the long haul. Otherwise the whole transfer strategy would have been absolutely pointless. If we get a point and a half a game for the next thirty games, we will be perfectly secure and ready for the last ten. We will then have a young squad packed with potential. That seems a reasonable way to approach the season.
Regarding team selection, I wonder whether Carrick should switch to a back three - which can become a back five on defence - but doesn’t have the left sided player to take the role. Maybe the return to fitness of Clarke will open up that possibility and create a more solid defensive structure.
We have a plethora of midfield and attacking players and it’s a question of finding the best combination. I watched McGree play 90 minutes for Australia and he was excellent. I would pick him as an automatic along with Hackney and O’Brien. Bangura will, presumably, get a shot at left back/wingback. Up front I’m not sure that Lath and Coburn can play together so Lath, presumably gets first shot.
The rest will come from performance in training and I’ll look forward to see what MC picks.
@deleriad. A very good post, given a lot of thought. Unfortunately from a Boro perspective, it does not make good reading.
The International break has not helped, in as there were 6/7 players missing, the majority having been in the first team these last five games.
As I posted to KP, we cannot keep a clean sheet and in all honesty, I cannot see that changing. So, can we score at least two goals (at least) to win?
Howson to keep the back door shut. I really do not think so. Possibly O'Brien, if he can replicate his Huddersfield form.
Your stats deleriad, make awful reading. Are we that bad or a little better, say mid-table. I hope that it is the latter and we start picking up some points, starting Saturday.
If not, well eventually the axe will fall and we will start all over again.
I hope MC has seen your post as I think it’s a really good selection for Saturday