Boro v Cardiff
Ah Cardiff. The scene of Boro’s only Cup win and possibly greatest ever triumph. It’s a name we shall forever remember with fondness. It hasn’t always been so. It’s a name we also associate with one of our worst ever cup disillusionments. I bet you can all remember our bitterly disappointing 2-0 loss at home to Championship Cardiff in the FA Cup quarter final of 2008. It was a year which saw all the big clubs knocked out earlier and Portsmouth ultimately take on our vanquishers to win the cup. I mean, we were nailed on to beat Cardiff and win the cup! Ouch. That still hurts.
Cardiff the city has a number of things in common with Middlesbrough. It used to be a major port for the export of coal, but most of the Tiger Bay docks have long since closed and undergone regeneration. Cardiff had a church for Norwegian seafarers - rather like our very own Sjömanskyrkan on Linthorpe Road! Then there’s the steel industry: the main works once produced plates for shipbuilding. Although it closed in 1978, steel production of reinforcing bars and wire continues in the city. And did you know that Cardiff also has its own Grangetown, a run down and deprived area close to the city centre? The city’s economy these days is dominated by the services and financial services sectors, and it’s a vibrant and attractive city, very deserving of being the Welsh capital and the Senedd.
City have a chequered history with owners. Sam Hammam took over in 2000 - and proposed a change of club name to the Cardiff Celts, ostensibly to please all of Wales (I bet that would go down well in Swansea, Newport and Wrexham, not to mention with the fans of Abergavenny Thursdays and Brymbo Steelworks!) It certainly didn’t go down well in Cardiff, nor did Sam’s suggested colour change to green, red and white! Then, in 2010, along came businessman Vincent Tan, who promised significant investment if allowed to change the club’s image, badge and colours, as the lucky red colour was thought to interest Far Eastern markets. Again, there were massive fan protests, but Tan forced through his changes and The Bluebirds spent 3 years from 2012 playing in red! Further fan protests eventually staved off this utter folly. Even now, one tier of the biggest stand at the predominantly blue Cardiff City Stadium has jarring red seats, installed in 2014. It’s when you hear of such outrages at other clubs that we thank our lucky stars for the model of stability that is Steve Gibson!
We have three notable footballing connections with Cardiff: Lennie Lawrence guided Cardiff to promotion when they won the Second Division play-off in 2003 against QPR. Substitute Andy Campbell came off the bench to score the only goal in extra time and ensure Cardiff's return to Division One after an 18-year absence. And then, of course, there’s Neil Warnock, inevitably. Again inevitably, he took over in 2016 with the club in relegation danger and took them up into the Premiership in his second season. Sadly, he couldn’t keep them up and they returned to the Championship the following year.
Since Warnock left in 2019, the club has had 6 different managers, a sign perhaps of the turmoil in the club, the latest being the relatively unknown Turk, Erol Bulut, whose previous managerial experience was all in Turkey. This included a short spell at Fenerbahçe, where his win percentage was 62% (mind, I could achieve 62% with Fenerbahçe!), a successful spell at Alanyaspor and most recently at Gaziantep. So far, he seems to be doing a very good job at Cardiff. They were perilously close to relegation last season under first Steve Morison, then Mark Hudson and finally, from January, Sabri Lamouchi, only avoiding the trapdoor thanks to Reading’s 6 point deduction.
This season, they are doing much better, perhaps against expectations, given last season’s debacle and the arrival of a manager with no experience of English football. They’ve won 5, drawn 1 and lost 3. Their defeat of Rotherham on Saturday has them on a four match winning run and sees them in 6th place with 16 points. They‘ve had home victories over Wednesday, Coventry and hated rivals Swansea and well as The Millers, and unexpectedly they won at Sunderland. They suffered predictable losses at Ipswich and Leicester, and a more surprising defeat at home to QPR. Their only draw came at Leeds in the opening game of the season. They had been going well in the Carabao, too, but suffered a 5-2 hammering at Blackburn last week; it would be unwise to read too much into that, though, as Bulut made 11 changes from the Sunderland game!
Boro last kept a league clean sheet on 18 March against PNE ( with the exception of our playoff away leg versus Coventry), so that’s now 17 regular league games since we last had a shut-out. Tuesday would be a very good place to turn that round. However, The Bluebirds have scored 16 goals this season. Ominously, they have scored in every game this season, and have scored first in 7 of their 9 league games Given our defensive frailties, I can see them continuing both of those statistics on Tuesday. I hope I’m very wrong.
But Boro have had a great week, the injury to Lewis O’Brien apart. With momentum and confidence building, now would seem to be a good time to meet Cardiff. They’re obviously no mugs and will fancy their chances against us, but may equally be wary of our recent form. They are potentially vulnerable, too, having conceded 12 goals in their 9 games to date. I’m looking forward to Josh Coburn bullying their defence and to McGree and Crooksy getting amongst them!
Last season, we lost 3-2 at home early season under Wilder but beat them 3-1 at their place in a superb (but rather nervy) win, by when our fortunes had well and truly miraculously improved under Carrick. I’d settle for the latter result, obviously, but I think one goal will decide it. Three points for Boro on Tuesday would narrow the gap to the playoffs to a not insurmountable 5 points. Let’s do it!
Thats a brilliant opening topic starter well done 👏 👏👏
Full of facts and data and certainly gives us Diasborians food for thought if we can actually pick up a win against Cardiff on Tuesday evening !
Now my foam hands sometimes go into hiding and are replaced by the 👁️ 👁️ in the sky…..
But I’m going for it and the resurgent mighty Boro3 will take three points and see our team fly up the league !
@Clive One of the best starters ever. Now I know much more about the capital of Wales and very much more about their current team. They have had a good start but are not impossible to beat as QPR has shown.
Let's hope we have the momentum now to pick up some lost ground. Our team is not ready by any stretch but definately improving. We have had some disturbing injuries like Howson pre-season and the full backs now. And far too many new players to bed in.
I just hope we do not lose and hope the match can be seen via Riverside Live. Boy, we still need a good reult and some more points. Up the Boro!
@clive A very well researched Headliner, with lots of information that I did not know about Cardiff itself.
We all hope that Boro can continue their upward movement, combined with their slick movement on the park.
However, there is always one, that puts a dampener on things.
So unless the front four can replicate OFB’s three, I cannot see us winning given O’Bien’s absence and the continued errors at the back. Let’s hope Lenihan gets over his illness, plays and we can eke out a draw at least.
Top, top work Clive 👏
Like Pedro, I’m really hoping that Lenihan is back for this one. Who is selected at left back will be interesting and an insight into Carrick’s mindset on the options at present.
Engel and Coulson are fit but it would come as no surprise if RvdB was chosen ahead of them with Smith or McNair at right back
Good to see that Dijksteel got 45mins for the reserves the other night.
A fine starter, no an excellent starter, and as Captain Mainwaring would have said, 'Well done that man', definitely well done! Plenty of of background and information something that is lacking in journalism, old-fashioned research, it builds a better and more complete picture of the opposition in your minds eye.
This one is a real litmus test and a draw would be a good result.
All the best everyone.
Another brilliant starter - great work Clive.
That magical day in Cardiff remains my greatest day in sport, all the better for being shared with my eldest daughter.
Here’s hoping for 3 points tomorrow.
Well here's a funny thing. Win tomorrow and after 10 games we'll be ahead of where we were last season with 11 points from 10 games versus 10 points from 10 under Wilder.
Our home match against Cardiff last season was our 9th match of the season - it would have been our 10th but for the cancellation of the Blackpool match. We were 3-0 down at half time at the Riverside and things were imploding under Wilder.
Carrick may have had an even worse start to the season than Wilder but it feels like chalk and cheese. Wilder spent his time fighting battles and blaming everyone but himself for the team's poor performances. For Wilder, it was all about Wilder. Carrick has shouldered the responsibility and never once thrown anyone under the proverbial bus. For Carrick it is all about the time. Though Carrick still has a lot to prove, I hope that this works out. Carrick has earned the support of all around him because he continually supports those around him. Plus, let's face it, when it works this is the best football we've seen in 15 years.
Cardiff have had a strong start but I can't help thinking that this is one of those early season bubbles. I feel relatively confident about this match.
Team wise, I think Carrick will keep changes to a minimum with just injuries to account for. The big interest is who will get the black spot and be forced to play left back. RVDB has done better than he has any right to there but one of our full-backs has to get forward and play as a virtual winger. I do wonder if we could swap things around and play Jones at RB with a defensive Left back. Carrick likes to keep his changes gradual so that might be a step too far.
I’m looking forward to seeing the game tomorrow evening at the Riverside.
A chat outside with my youngest son and two grandsons at the open bar then into the stand to watch Boro3 !
Mrs OFB sat beside me cheering our team on as we have done together for many years.
What more can a man want ?
Boro3 we cry .!!!
Thanks for a great opener Clive, I too think Carrick will keep changes to a minimum, except for injuries. Like many I hope O’Brien injury is not as bad as first feared but the signs are not good, he is a player I would like Boro to sign permanently. The last week has been better than most could have wished for, with victories against relegated Southampton and away victories at Bradford (less surprisingly) and Watford (a big plus). Now before the international break two tough games, home to high flying Cardiff and then the short trip up the A19 to another team doing very well and playing exciting free flowing football.
Hopefully by the end of the international break, our international players return all fit and raring to go, with a couple of our injured players joining the squad fully fit and up to speed.
Come on BORO.
Great opener, Clive. You could have walked into a job at the BBC given your ability to inform, educate and entertain. Thoroughly enjoyed your individual spin on the Opener Challenge. Many thanks for all of the work you put into it.
What a great opening to the thread Clive, thank you very much. A lot of effort went into that and it certainly shows.
That Boro no-show first half against Cardiff in the quarter final of the cup most certainly is a very painful memory, still. While we might have been favorites that day, I think going into this game on Tuesday night, Cardiff must be feeling confident of taking at least a point back to South Wales at the end of the night.
This is a big game for us. I love that small statistic that Deleriad posted, that to win this next game will leave us 1 point better off than at the equivalent time under Chris Wilder about the end of his tenure. All the same, that is still not something that is a given as we look forward to the game. The team has to demonstrate it can (and will) win these games so that we can all start to believe we really have turned the corner and the only way is up from now on.
How MC will juggle his defensive resources will be interesting. If Engel is still left out, I think that will confirm he hasn't won MC's trust yet. RvdB at left back is probably the way I would go, but with Fry on the left in the middle. For the right although it is intriguing to think of IJones picking up that gauntlett, if Lenihan has recovered enough to start, than I would play Paddy McNair at right back to leave Jones able to carry on his greatly improved performances. If Lenihan isn't fit, then McNair will need to play alongside Fry, in which case Jones as an attacking right back with Forss starting at outside right.
The enforced changes apart, I expect the rest of the starting lineup will be unchanged.
I scarcely dare to dream we will win a fourth successive game of football but I am going to share OFBs Boro3 optimism. Even though we are overdue a clean sheet in the league, given the number of our defensive options on the sick list, I suspect we will concede, but perhaps only the once. So Boro 3 Cardiff 1 is what I hope to see.
Thanks for that Opener, Clive. Another good one for Diasborians to read before the next game and to give us something to think about.
I will never forget the wonderful League Cup win in 2004 at Cardiff. A VERY pleasant day out and no arrests! On the other side of the equation, I don't like Wembley and never really have. I hope Boro never has to go to a Wembley Play-off Final again.
Cardiff only became the capital of Wales in 1955 (just in time for the 1958 British Commonwealth & Empire Games held there).
The game on Tuesday (TOMORROW) comes so quickly after the last one at Watford. But at least it comes with me at home. The caravan has been locked up for the season. I need not miss any more games or have to travel back from camp to see the team until next Spring.
Boro's manager wasn't a full-formed Alex Ferguson or Pep Guardiola when he took over in his first manager/coach job last autumn. Having done unexpectedly well, apart from a dip in form right at the business end of last season, Boro's manager didn't suddenly re-spawn as a Strachan at the start of this season. Things are rarely so black and white as that. Many tend to go overboard with the praise in good times and overboard with the criticism in the less-good times. I am not immune from that. A course between those two extremes is, more often than not, correct.
Yes, Boro started the 2023-24 season poorly. That may not be a surprise when so many of the key players last season were loan players who were always going to return to their parent clubs or to be sold, given that Boro would not be going into the Premier League and couldn't afford those players or match the budgets of better-placed clubs. But the scale of the poor start was difficult to take. To be mid-table after a few games might have been on the cards but to be at the very bottom of the league was not expected. Many teams in our league were also "in transition" - Boro doesn't own that particuar state of being - yet those other clubs were apparently making a better effort than Boro in making the necessary changes. If we had over-performed last season Boro was very definitely under-performing in the first couple of months of this season.
Where is the club? How good is the team? Well perhaps it is better to ask how good the team can become. It can certainly be better than the results were suggesting until very recently. There are still "issues", such as a full-back and scoring goals but maybe we are gentling prying open the vault on the goal-scoring front. I think it must be clear that McGree should be in every starting line-up that Boro puts out. Coburn should be given a decent run of starts in order to see how good he really is (I am hopeful on that front). Maybe Fry needs a gentle arm around the shoulder, or a long chat with Woodgate who, to be fair, must know most of what there is to know about playing as a central defender. We have been unfortunate with injuries and I hope that O'Brien isn't out for too long. Problems CAN be resolved.
We should never have been at the bottom of the table but we are still a long way from the finished article (if any Championship team can be described that way). A few good results doesn't mean the corner has been turned but it does appear that the coaching team has an idea which route to take from here. There is no guarantee that Boro will be able to improve sufficiently to challenge for promotion this season but only about three weeks ago it would have been bold to use the words "promotion" and "Boro" in the same sentence. What most of us what to see is 100% commitment and some level of consistent improvement. That will at least give us some hope.
Let's get behind the team on Tuesday and see how far we can go together.
@forever-dormo Good well balanced and very sensible post. You are, of course, absolutely right.
That was an excellent post. I certainly hadn’t realised that 3 points from this game would leave us better off than at the same stage under Wilder! What a shambles he left us with.
Just seen that Francis Lee has passed away at the age of just 79. A great professional and very tricky little forward, perhaps famed a little for falling a little too professionally in the box, but exciting to watch at times. RIP.
I think we should talk about poor Hayden Coulson.
I should say from the outset that my sympathies are all with the player in finding himself apparently surplus to requirements only weeks after signing a new contract - a situation not of his making but of the club's
That he still does not appear to be in the running for the problematic left back slot, in spite of all of the injuries and misfortunes of those now above him in the pecking order, tells a very sad story.
I do not know the precise details of that story but piecing together the fragments of what we do know, may I suggest the following and invite corrections and other possible scenarios.
It seems that Woodgate, on the basis of the player's promising contributions under his management, was keen to have him back, and that he was offered a contract on the basis of that recommendation.
It's probably true to say that very few Boro fans agreed with Woodgate's assessment, as Coulson's defensive weaknesses now have enough of a history to suggest a serious doubt that he is a left-back of Championship quality.
It seems probable to me in the light of subsequent events that Carrick took the judgment of his deputy on trust, and that it was supported by the recruitment team, the stats they rely on and senior management.
It took only a couple of early season games for Carrick to conclude that Coulson was not the man for the job. So much so indeed that two more signings had to be made to cover what was still a strategic gap, and when even that failed that two outstanding midfielders (McGree and O'Brien) were considered ahead of Coulson for a role totally foreign to them.
We all have our views on Scott's "project" summer signings as well as the apparently more established pros, Lath, Engel and Bangura, and they have all been well discussed on this and other forums.
But Coulson has scarcely received a mention. It seems a settled conclusion amongst the faithful that his signing was a mistake and that there is little to discuss.
If that is the case then the club and recruitment team have some explaining to do. I'm not holding my breath since the club's PR policy seems to be "never apologise, never explain" rather than keeping its thousands of loyal supporters informed about what is going on.
The real victim though is Coulson himself. He seems a decent lad who has always given 100%, has a bit of pace, can beat a man and is good on the ball. I agree with Carrick's negative assessment of him as a left-back, but he can make it somewhere as a solid pro with a good career ahead of him.
He deserves better from the club than to be cast into limbo when the ink on his contract has scarcely had time to dry.
I would be very surprised if Steve Gibson has not had words with those who have been so profligate with his money. And if the high opinion he has had of Woodgate's talent has not been severely recalibrated.
@powmillnaemore - Those happy days when the classified football results would include:
Manchester City 1 (Lee One Pen) - Aston Villa 0.
He was certainly highest-scoring Chinese player in the Football League at that time.
Also featuring heavily for Bolton Wanderers with such luminaries as Wyn ("the head") Davies.
A very compassionate post Len.
If indeed there is no belief in the management team that Coulson will make the grade at the club the honourable thing would be to release him from his contract and release his registration. If I am right, as a free agent he would then be able to sign for any club that will have him.
On the other hand, if there is some belief he can improve with their coaching it is perhaps reasonable to keep him and to keep working with him.
Do any of those with contacts close to the club have any insight?
I find it amazing that we are still bothering with some men in suits actually deciding which players we will buy, and, of course, sell. I understand that one of them threw a hissy fit and demanded to be named as our manager. Did we all know what was going on? I was amazed, truly! Is it true that we are just realising the class, speed, and sheer scoring ability of our Young striker. From the general tone of the statements, I gather that those in charge did not know whether to play him, loan him out, or, of course take the First offer that came along. I see nobody inside the club saying he is our striker, period!
Perhaps I should have said coaching team rather than management team, which is what I had in my mind rather than the men in suits!
Note from a Diasboro reader
I would be greatful if you can register my thoughts & condolences to the friends & family of Ken Smith.
I would have liked to attend the funeral, but personal circumstances & logistics have prohibited a regular return to Teesside for many a year now & probably for the foreseeable future.
One being I stay such a long way away & another being for the last six months or more I have been caring 24/7 for my elderly just turned 15, Dalmatian.
I have only known Ken through the Diasboro blog & I fully endorse all the accolades that he has received. I never thought I could feel such sadness at the passing of someone I have never met & only known of for such a short period of time.
I have the utmost respect for all who participate in Diasboro & I hope I can contribute again soon.
Mr Parkers Dog.
@lenmasterman Len, whilst I agree with the sentiments of your post and how many, many, young men are similarly discarded, the stats on Hayden Coulson were there for all to see.
As you said, probably Woodgate, fought his corner and said he could “do a job” for the Boro. So not to lose him for free, we give him a TWO year contract.
The number one stat for not giving him a new contract. Around sixty games in five years. Sadly the lad is injury prone, and players like that generally end up playing semi pro at best.
It is not his fault, he possibly believed he could be a success given another chance. I probably think that in this instance, we cannot blame Scott.
Likewise for me, why did we give Smith a new TWO year contract. Now that I assume is down to MC.
One thing that is certain, there have been plenty of mistakes over the last number of years. From the top to the bottom. Woodgate being one of them.
Just an observation but I think Michael Carrick has put himself in quite a cosy position at Boro.
When things are going well, Carrick receives the majority of the praise from Boro fans. When they don’t, the blame largely seems to be directed at Kieran Scott and/or Jonathan Woodgate.
Not a bad spot for Carrick.
Excellent result at Watford , however I still think we're a little fragile
my TV package allows me to see many Championship games ,this weekend watched Sunderland Sheff W game Hull City game and Blackburn v Leicester
I've seen a lot of competitive games , apart from Sheff.W, who don't look up to standard every team as periods in games when they look good,
I've noticed in most games the first twenty minutes are hectic, then the game settles down and you can measure things better .
Leicester are too good for this league , too much talent they're patient, keep possession, suck you in and destroy you on the counter, actually Blackburn were better than the score, I thought they would struggle after losing a number of their better players, however they have brought unknowns in who are talented, they have a young kid in midfield Wharton strolls through the game Excellent, him , Hackney, and Bielik at Birmingham are the best midfielders I've seen,
All this is to emphasize, we are a team and I have to say we do entertain the fans even though we're wide open,but you also have to find some grit, as there are no easy games,
I'm tipping us to beat Cardiff however.
I’m a bit confused by some of the comments on here about Coulson. It seems to be being assumed that Woodgate is in some way to blame here, but what evidence is there that he was instrumental in HC being given a new contract? I know JW isn’t popular with quite a few people on here but should we condemn his involvement without knowing more facts?
On a different note - does anyone know if a stream is available from MFC for tonight’s game?
Thank you Clive for an excellent, informative opener which was a joy to read, followed by some well reasoned and thought provoking posts from, Deleriad, Len, Forever Dormo and Powmill.
I can hardly believe that it is twelve months since we last welcomed Cardiff to the Riverside and I was in the fortunate position to be present or I should say unfortunate, given the result!
I agree with many on here who have been encouraged by the team’s recent turn around but I am still wary of getting carried away, as we are far from the finished article with still a number of glaring weaknesses.
Any talk of promotion is far too premature and I will be content if we continue to progress by improving defensively and can start showing we have the wherewithal to compete with teams at the top of the table, which I don’t believe we presently can; the game and result against Cardiff will be a good pointer.
Unfortunately, I can see our winning streak coming to an end and think it will be 1-1; a defeat and all the worries and concerns will flood back.
On the subject of Coulson, I agree, from the outside, that his treatment like many before has not been good.
It is very easy to point fingers at certain individuals but without being privy to the full facts then assumptions are being made which may or may not be correct.
As far as his future is concerned, he has a contract and the ability to fight for his place so it is really down to him unless MC has indicated that he will not be considered, which he did not indicate during his recent press conference where he indicated Coulson was part of the squad like everyone else.
It will be interesting to see what happens in January but don’t believe we will ever find out the full story of his new contract and his fall from grace.
Personally, I was disappointed to hear he had been offered a new deal as I do not believe he is good enough to hold down a regular spot in a Championship side. Some one at the club felt he could but I suspect we will never learn who that was or on what basis they considered him worthy of a contract. 😎
@martin-bellamy. Yes according to the club website it is available World wide. It is also on the red button on Sky if you subscribe. 😎