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Boro v Bristol City
 

Boro v Bristol City

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Middlesbrough (12) v Bristol City (14)

Saturday 10/2/2024 - Riverside Stadium - K.O. 3 P.M.

 

Well, after a game against our “Derby” rivals Sunderland last Sunday, which felt more like a defeat than a draw, we turn to our next opponents. Hopefully we will look more like the team we were last season, as we can then gain all three points and climb upwards to the playoff positions.

Is it really achievable? Can we do it? Can the Boro get into a playoff spot and gain promotion this season? After reading the excellent posts on this blog it would appear that the realists amongst us think we’ve blown it this season and they’re probably right. Still let’s revel in what’s left of the season and hopefully make it a joyous time for all.

So it’s one of the Bristols who come bouncing into the Riverside on Saturday and we look forward to playing with them. Bristol City make an appearance at our home and hopefully we can grapple with them and get some satisfaction at the end.

It's being widely reported that it’s at both ends of the pitch where Boro are being punished. Oh dearie me, and the fans are frustrated! I’m frustrated!even Carrick is frustrated! The Boro style usually consists  of dominating possession in games (their season average is 53.1%), but this season they are too often letting in sloppy goals like Sunderland's, and not finishing their chances as often as they should. For once, our manager making a rash judgement to substitute 3 players all at once, which undoubtedly led to the loss of continuity and dominance and the loss of two points against Sunderland.

Repeating the stats published by the Gazette and admittedly not the most definitive measure, their current xG shows they should have scored 4.5 more goals than they have this season, while their xGA shows they've conceded 8.7 more goals than they should have. That's calculated to have cost Carrick's side eight points this season, the addition of which would move them up to fifth place, one point above West Brom. So I’ll say it again, it’s frustrating! All together now one, two, three, “It’s frustrating!”

I don’t think we particularly noticed the loss of Morgan Rogers on Saturday as Sam Greenwood was full of energy and bounce against his boyhood club and eventually ran out of steam. If he plays,like that in every game, can he solve our missing centre forward position? I suppose it is what it is, Coburn obviously will have to have surgery for his hernia problem during the summer. Latte Cappuccino will need time to recover from his injuries. Forss if he is fit, is probably our best goal scorer.

Next season we will have to recruit wisely, probably from one of the premiership clubs junior players or overseas. I wouldn’t really fancy having a loan player again as all we appear to do is coach them, turn them into better players and then lose them at the end of the season. This leaves big gaps in our squad which are hard to replace and consign Boro to another season in the Championship.

I’m certainly looking forward to seeing a fully fit and mobile McGree on the pitch on Saturday as Hackney is certainly  not being played in his best position so far up the field. Indeed the whole midfield looked flat and uninspiring. Is it because we’ve had to fit in new players to assimilate in the team as Azaz had to fit into the style of play? I thought the midfield was disjointed and both Hackney and Howson looked out of sorts. Perhaps Howson needs more than a 10 day rest after his recent cup games?

Barlaser is undoubtedly a fine passer of the ball but seems to go missing during a game and is not consistent enough to be a top rated player. If I was the manager I would move Barlaser on at the end of the season as for me he doesn’t do enough. I haven’t checked his stats but then stats don’t mean anything! Hang on though! The only problem with moving Barlaser on is that we will also probably lose Howson and Hackney at the end of this season. One who will probably retire and the other move to a Premiership club. We can’t just throw all our midfield players away and have to recruit a whole new midfield

Our goalkeeper knows he made a mistake on Saturday letting the ball slip under him as he dived the right way but still let a soft goal in. I still expect him to keep his place on Saturday. By the way, I couldn’t believe how much space there was on that left hand side of our defence to let an unmarked player calmly slot into our goal.

Luke Thomas I think will make  his full debut as left back on Saturday as Carrick perseveres with his strategy of playing out from the back. Luke has stated that this is his preferred method of play and is well used to it. Does this mean Engel will move further forward or move to the bench?

Hopefully Jones will have recovered sufficiently to return to his position on the right hand side of the pitch.  Undoubtedly his pace has been sorely missed. The two cup games may have brought some revenue into the club, but at what cost to the injuries sustained to the squad !

Turning to the game, whilst Boro are in 12th position versus the Robins in 14th position the form table shows a marked difference between the teams.  Current form for Middlesbrough is 11th position whilst Bristol City’s form is 23rd! Bristol City have also failed to win their last 6 matches in the Championship.

They have a weakness against aerial duels and defending against attacks down the wings so hopefully Boro can pick a winning side using our strengths accordingly.

After Bristol City played Leeds Utd in their last Championship game,e, Daniel Farke claimed his Leeds United side played as if they were enjoying themselves. It was a Friday night party in south Bristol in which the guests were having such a good time, the hosts simply couldn't wait for them to leave.The 1-0 defeat at Ashton Gate made for a tough watch for Bristol City with few emerging from the encounter with much credit and while hands had to be held up and there was a collective admission of being outplayed by a superior opponent, Liam Manning and his team knew that they didn’t give a true account of their capabilities.

As Leeds extended their winning run to five games, City’s wait for a Championship victory moved into a sixth match with Saturday’s trip to Middlesbrough and then the visit of Southampton with not much hope,of a quick end to finishing such a drought of winning games.

As I write this Bristol City are away tonight to Nottingham Forest in the F.A. Cup and the result is unknown.

Turning again to our game on Saturday what do I think ?

Do you know I’m feeling a bit bullish !

I’m going for Boro3 !

Get in !

Up the Boro !

 

OFB


Clive Hurren
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I really enjoyed your opener, OFB. It sets us up very nicely for what is yet another must-win game for Boro. 


   
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OFB,

The Bouncing Bristols eh? A lovely bit seaside postcard humour there! And well done on the opener too!

UTB,

John


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Thanks for a great opener OFB and by the way Bristol City are in extra time at Forest, hope they don’t wear themselves out too much 😈.

Come on BORO.


   
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@exmil 

Forest won 5-3 on penalties!


   
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That must have been sole destroying after 120 minutes. 😈 

Come on BORO.


   
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Great opener thanks OFB.  You make some very pertinent points on our season to date and also on the need to effectively managed the squad if we are to get out of this division.

The EG produced an article on player contract expiry dates, which Malcolm may have reproduced on the previous thread.  When reviewing it it occurred to me that a number expire in the next twelve/twenty four months, so the club will need to tie down some of the key players at the end of this season if we are to have any chance of building a promotion challenging squad.

As to Saturday, it is without a doubt a must win, anything else just helps to confirm the views of many of us that we are destined to another championship season. 😎


   
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I thought after I’d had a whinge about Barlaser I’d look up his stats and here they are.

 

Daniel Barlaser

Middlesbrough

WhoScored Rating

6.8

Apps

18 (2)

Goals

0

Assists

2

Shots per game

0.15

Tackles per game

0.9

Dribbles per game

0.45

League Cup

 

WhoScored Rating

6.9

Apps

7(0)

Goals

0

Assists

3

Height

184 cm

DM(C)

Weight

62 kg

Championship

Shots per game

NEVER

ORDINARY


   
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Pedro de Espana
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@original-fat-bob    Thank you for another excellent Headliner, giving out some interesting information.

As for Saturdays game, I cannot see much of a starting line-up from Sunderland. 

Jones apparently looks set to be missing for another couple of weeks yet. I also do not think he will start with McGree, not unless he has proven beyond doubt during training this week, that he is good to go.

Will MC continue with Fry and VDB and leave Clarke on the bench once more. One could lay part of the blame for Sunderland's goal also on Engel and VDB, who went missing. Although one could ask, where was Azaz. I think this must be the first time that MC has not totally defended a players mistake, if one wants to blame Glover. Will MC also choose Thomas over Engel?

Midfield is still the biggest area of our goals against problem for me. Could we improve it a little by starting with O'Brien and Hackney and put Azaz at 10 with a specific role and not wanderlust.

Assuming Forss is fit, then probably again on the right, Greenwood at 9. Who would be on the left? Maybe McGree?

 


   
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Pedro de Espana
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@original-fat-bob   What were HH and Howson's stats OFB. Barlaser does tend to play generally deeper. 

Also, how many goals in the League have those three scored?


   
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@pedro 

attached files l


   
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@pedro 

 

HH


   
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Thanks OFB for the uplifting Bristol City preview and getting a few of the recent frustrations off your chest! Boro certainly can't afford to let another opportunity of three home points slip from their grasp - especially as you point out the Robins are sitting second-bottom of the six-game form table. Though we should be wary as they've only lost 1-0 to Leeds and drew with Coventry 2-2 making three draws and three defeats with only one of those losses being by more than a single goal.

At least they've had 120 minutes against Forest in their legs on Wednesday and the disappointment of defeat - whereas Boro have had a week to prepare and rest knocks and strains. Be good if McGree can play as while Greenwood played with a lot of enthusiasm he must have been caught offside more than half-a-dozen times and made quite a few needless fouls around the opposition box to concede cheap possession - for me he's not going to replace the finesse of Rogers or his ability to strike the ball. There's a player in there somewhere but I don't think his head is fully sorted when making decisions on the pitch.

Wouldn't be surprised to see Silvera getting a start if Boro have no fit striker - other than of course our best striker who is not yet trusted to be a main striker in Forss - must be way to ensure he's given service by some means as he'll bury most chances he's given. I dare say if McGree can play as the number 10 role he'll be able to feed Forss - plus I agree that Hackney needs to be back in his midfield role to get the best out of him.

So if Boro have McGree, Jones, Forss on the pitch I'd expect whoever is chosen to play with them would give Boro the upper hand - should be a convincing three points really!


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@werdermouth 

Boro3 ?


   
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Club website reporting that Matt Crooks is in talks to join side in USA!  

That’s a bit of a surprise to say the least.  Sorry to see him go as he has always given his all to the club both on and off the field.

Thanks Matt and best wishes if the move goes through. 😎

This post was modified 2 months ago by K P in Spain

 gt
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OFB makes some excellent points , I think this game is not so much a must win, but a must perform, how we bounce back, do we show consistency in our approach play, do we create. Do we dominate , do we up the tempo, do players get back their form.

If that happens we should win, but there's been too many Rotherham and others  experiences to put your house on it.

COB


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@k-p-in-spain 

I saw that a couple of clubs were interested in him from USA but thought it was going to be at the end of the season.

i don’t think he’s a particularly good fit in the type of team that Carrick is trying to build. I don’t think also that his skill set is going to get any better as he’s now turned 30.

There is a young player coming through the academy and also Middlesbrough have confirmed that they will sign versatile young midfielder Terrell Agyemang on a free transfer from Manchester City this summer.

So youth is the key apparently!

OFB


Clive Hurren
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@k-p-in-spain / OFB 

Nonetheless, OFB, I think that’s terrible news. Crooksy has always given 100% and has been more than useful on many an occasion, often chipping in with valuable goals. I think we’ll miss him. He has apparently done lots of good community work for the MFC Foundation, as well. 😟😟

And we’ll have to change the song again, too! 😢😢


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Apparently Crooks is travelling to the USA for a medical prior to joining Real Salt Lake, his contract still runs to the summer of 2025 so a transfer fee will be involved. Good luck to Crooks for a move that will be very financially better than Boro will /can offer and Boro haven’t let his contract run down, again better business than we have been used to in the past.

Come on BORO.


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@original-fat-bob.  I take on board your comments regarding his fit and the type of team MC is seeking to build.

It will be interesting to see how IJ performs without him, as he always seemed to have a better game/make more of a contribution when Matt Crooks played with him.

At least, as Exmil has said, there will be a fee involved and therefore a win/win all round. 😎


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Sad to see Crooks go but he hasn't exactly been in top form lately. Good Move by Boro.


   
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Yes it will be sad to see Crooks leave Boro as he has proved to be a very versatile and important player - top scorer two seasons ago don't forget and often got the best out of players like Jones. I guess having turned 30 less than 2 weeks ago it maybe has got him thinking of the future and by all accounts Salt Lake City is a pretty nice place with amazing mountain views and canyons - certainly would be a interesting experience for a player moving towards the end of his career - I wish him the best of luck as he deserves it for being an all round decent bloke from what I've read about him.


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Posted by: @exmil

Apparently Crooks is travelling to the USA for a medical prior to joining Real Salt Lake, his contract still runs to the summer of 2025 so a transfer fee will be involved. [...]

Come on BORO.

It seems, however, that all of that transfer fee will not end up in Boro's coffers:

https://www.rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk/sport/football/rotherham-united/why-former-player-matt-crooks-could-put-rotherham-united-in-the-money-4511424

 


   
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Posted by: @werdermouth

Be good if McGree can play as while Greenwood played with a lot of enthusiasm he must have been caught offside more than half-a-dozen times and made quite a few needless fouls around the opposition box to concede cheap possession - for me he's not going to replace the finesse of Rogers or his ability to strike the ball. There's a player in there somewhere but I don't think his head is fully sorted when making decisions on the pitch.

Wouldn't be surprised to see Silvera getting a start if Boro have no fit striker - other than of course our best striker who is not yet trusted to be a main striker in Forss - must be way to ensure he's given service by some means as he'll bury most chances he's given. I dare say if McGree can play as the number 10 role he'll be able to feed Forss - plus I agree that Hackney needs to be back in his midfield role to get the best out of him.

So if Boro have McGree, Jones, Forss on the pitch I'd expect whoever is chosen to play with them would give Boro the upper hand - should be a convincing three points really!

Looks as though you're going to have your wish, Werder, at least as far as McGree's concerned:

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/sport/24107132.riley-mcgree-returning-middlesbrough-squad-bristol-city-game/

 

This post was modified 2 months ago by Stircrazy

   
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@stircrazy 

Good to get McGree back after Rogers exit - though sadly Jones is still injured and Latte Lathe not yet returned to training but Forss has recovered from his knock. Might well see a front four of Forss, McGree, Greenwood and Azaz since Coburn is only being used as an impact sub to spare his groin. Maybe Hackney and Barlaser in midfield given Howson looked off the pace against Sunderland.

So possible Starting XI

Glover

Ayling - Fry - van den Berg - Engel

Hackney - Barlaser

Forss - McGree - Greenwood

Azaz 


   
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Pedro de Espana
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@original-fat-bob   Thanks for the midfield stats OFB

Here they are for comparison. I have also added Adam Whorlton with his Blackburn League appearances

CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES ONLY

PLAYER         WS RATING  APP(S)  GOALS  ASSISTS  SHOTS  TACKLES 

BARLASER          6.8            18/1      0            2           0.15      0.9

HACKNEY           6.6            18/1       1            0          1.05      1.58

HOWSON           6.7           22/3        2            1            0.6       1.48

WHORLTON        6.8           22/4        2            3            0.8        2.3

One thing from our perspective is the number of goals scored and assists.


   
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@malcolm - If Boro got rid of all the players who've not exactly been on top form recently, it might be a struggle to get a team out against Bristol City.

In many ways it would be sad to see Crooks leave, especially to the USA (obviously players in the peak of their career tend not to go there, rather it is for a last pay-off before retirement). I agree the comments made, above, that he seems to put in the effort even in a losing cause, and he pops up with goals when the strikers might not be scoring.  He is obviously a flexible player and he has played well with I Jones. What did Boro pay for him - £1M? - whatever it was, he certainly doesn't owe the club as he has been a stalwart player for several seasons.  We have certainly wasted more money on other players who've contributed far less.  And we all know of his community work.  He seems to be a very decent bloke.

As to loan players, I don't have concerns about taking a player, or two, on loan.  But taking more than that, players who have a central role at the club when we all know that the following year the players will return to their parent clubs (improved and able to win a place in their club's starting XI or will be sold on to another club, maybe a competitor of Boro, for a price we could not afford to pay, leaving a gaping hole in Boro's squad) is something different. The odd loan player might help fill a gap in our squad but it isn't sensible to have to rely on loan players.  That would be the way to ensure that, every season, Boro would end the league programme knowing the team would have to be rebuilt just to be able to be in the same position it was in the previous season, not rebuilding to be better.  The team would have a long-term future of never being good enough to be promoted. A club whose business plan is to take players on loan in order to develop and improve them for the parent club, and with plans to produce its own youngsters with sale in mind when they have reached a saleable value. That might be a viable business model, to play the club's bills as they arise, but not a sporting model that many supporters would like, I think.

The fact that Bristol City hasn't won a game in the last 6 is the sort of statistic that is designed to put fear into the minds of all Boro supporters. We have it in our DNA to know what that often means. I suspect I will walk to the game tomorrow (no doubt it will be chilly and very damp) with the fear of that statistic, more than the hope of an optimistic OFB "BORO 3" at the front of my thoughts.

 

This post was modified 2 months ago by Forever Dormo

Martin Bellamy
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@forever-dormo

You make some very valid points and it got me thinking. Every year when the season begins we all think that we’ll have a decent shot at promotion and we rarely worry on day one that we’ll be relegated, but are fans from different teams of the same mindset?

I wonder how many teams in the Championship have never seen top flight football - what does success look like to them and what are their aspirations for the season?

We all know that it’s the hope that gets you, but what if success is winning more games than you lose and finishing the season in 9th place is an acceptable achievement? Would that make being a fan a bit easier? 


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@martin-bellamy - If your aim at the start of each season is to finish maybe 9th out of 23 in a league where you win more games than you lose, if you never have to factor in the possibility of relegation, then finishing 9th would feel like success. A positive season - target achieved!  If you managed to win one or two games more than that, still not enough to gain promotion but enough to finish maybe 8th or 7th, then the season would have felt even more positive. 

I am sure fans of such a club would have an easier, more pleasant time of it.  No angst over those must-win games. No nervous nights contemplating the possibility that, if your team wins whilst all the teams around it lose THEIR next game, then your team would only be ONE MORE win from getting within the Play-off places... In that case, unless the hoped-for win takes place, and unless the other teams all lose, the stakes in the NEXT round of fixtures become even more tense.  And if, at the end of it all, the hoped-for promotion or even Play-Off qualification does not take place, then there is dejection all round.

You are right.  It all depends on perspective.  If Manchester City finishes 2nd in the PL, it will seem to their supporters like a failure.  If City finished 5th, it would seem like a catastrophe. It Celtic finished 2nd in Scotland it would be bad news for its supporters but to finish 3rd would be unthinkably disastrous.  On the other hand if Luton Town finishes in 17th place in the PL, that would be hailed as a magnificent performance to be enjoyed by its supporters. It's all about where you think your club SHOULD finish and where it ACTUALLY finishes.

If Boro fans put aside the thoughts of returning to past glories, and decided that a mid-table finish in The Championship is the REAL target, then the majority of the supporters would be almost guaranteed happiness at the end of each season.  A decent 8 hours sleep each night could be expected and a much lower blood pressure guaranteed.  Maybe we should review our collective expectations?


Philip of Huddersfield
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Thanks for that DORMO ,

That’s the best advice I’ve heard for a long time.
I’ve become tired of all the talk every week of the next game being a must win game in order to finish in the top 6.
In reality, it means finishing in 6 th position.  Not finishing in 6th position will only be viewed as an unsuccessful season.
I wonder if the supporters of all the other mid table teams  and those above Boro  - of which there must be at least TEN-  spend all the time talking about  finishing in the top 6. 
All I hope for each game is for the team to play well and recognise that the results - win, lose or draw , will determine the end of season League position. If that means mid table, just outside the play offs or scraping into 6 th position then so be it.
So hopefully tomorrow we’ll see a good performance and a win.
Boro must be strong favourites as Bristol City have had a tough week with a mid week extra time cup game and a fair bit of travelling.

Philip of Huddersfield 👍👍


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