Boro v QPR
Riverside - Saturday 2 September - KO 3pm
As the proprietor of the Summer Window watering hole gets ready to call last orders, a seemingly unfazed Michael Carrick sits quietly in the corner sipping on his half-full glass as he contemplates ending Boro's dry spell against QPR this weekend.
The 4-2 defeat at the Hawthorns made it nine Championship games without a win but Carrick wasn't overly concerned about the future as he spoke after the game: "The glass is half full for me. I am really looking forward to what's ahead." Something that may or may not be shared with those on Teesside staring at their half-empty glasses of 'the usual'.
However, as a man who appears to be the personification of calm, the Boro head coach was remaining sober despite his team still under the table and trying to get up from the floor: "I'm not hiding from the fact that we haven't had the points and we've lost too many games already. It's very early but if I was seeing different things in the performance, I'd be worried. I've got full belief in the team."
Another defeat at home on Saturday would certainly test that belief and in many ways this weekend looks like it could be season defining - a win and it lifts the burden but QPR at home is probably the best opportunity in September for three points. After that it's two away games and only one at home against Southampton before a trip to Watford - but best to avoid unnecessary extrapolation at this point!
In truth, this summer has seen a lot of comings and goings with new arrivals about to hit the dozen mark - though most have been young signings with potential rather than ones of proven quality. Nevertheless, Carrick is happily giving the impression of being content with his lot: "At this moment I'm delighted with the squad we've got." A phrase that were it to come from anyone else may sound like sarcasm given the players he lost last season are being sold for tens of millions.
Whether he feels his squad are an attractive proposition for a promotion challenge again may depend on what's in that half-full glass he's drinking. Although, new important scientific research published this week has cast doubt on the phenomena of 'Beer Goggles' and concluded there was no evidence that intoxication altered the perception of observed attractiveness. Though just how many drinks it would take to before the Championship table looked pretty has yet to be peer reviewed by the Boro faithful.
Still, there's plenty of work ahead for the Boro head coach in finding a way to fit all his new arrivals into a coherent team. With the apparent failure to land another proven striker, Josh Coburn has suddenly found himself back in the first team plans after an earlier announcement that his future development would be best served by a year on loan at Plymouth.
This late change of heart was explained by some fancy footwork from Carrick: "Coming back in pre-season, it was a case of getting to know Josh a bit more and deciding whether he went on loan or not, it was about what's best for Josh and what's best for us as a group and a squad. Over time it's been pretty clear what Josh can bring. He's back fit, looking really strong, we're delighted to have him and all round it's the best decision to have him with us."
Probably the right decision but one suspects the inflated auction to land Tom Cannon from Everton was mainly behind that - reports of up to £7m being offered by clubs with cash to burn and interest from Leicester has now stalled Boro's £4m bid.
Though perhaps a rather giddy Keiran Scott will still be keen to argue for the deal as he appears drunk on moneyball chasers this summer - "I just want one more..." before being held back by Steve Gibson telling him "leave him Keiran, he's not worth it."
Surely there comes a point where Michael Carrick has more choices than the ability to fit in all these new faces - the last thing he wants as a new head coach is to be a low-budget Garry Monk. After all, if it's taken him quite a few weeks to get to know Josh, how long will it take to acquaint himself with all the other. It looks an unenviable task in discovering what his best XI is and how to gel them as a team. Unfortunately, he needs to get results at the same time.
Boro now have 9 players essentially chasing 4 positions - Latte Lath, Marcus Forss, Morgan Rogers, Riley McGree, Sam Silvera, Sam Greenwood, Isaiah Jones, Matt Crooks and Alex Gilbert. Carrick was known last season for not rotating his starting XI that much and I suspect at least 2 of those will quickly become surplus to needs. Plus, there's even the possibility of the soon to arrive, Alex Bangura, being an option as a left-winger too.
However, the problem with the team doesn't appear to be one of creating chances - finishing perhaps looks less clinical but that may come as players get more minutes on the pitch and indeed get confidence from scoring. The real challenge appears to be keeping out the opposition from scoring at the other end! A task that hasn't had the same resources thrown at it in this window. The only way Boro will win games is by not giving away avoidable goals and being more proactive out of possession.
The opposition will have done their homework and will arrive with a plan to get at Boro. Gareth Ainsworth has been in charge of the Hoops since February after over ten years as manager of Wycombe Wanderers and will be hoping for a big improvement on his 20th place finish last season. He spoke of wanting big changes at the club in the summer and wanted to sign players with pace that would fit his "very up and at ’em" style of play.
It's a blueprint that has obviously been noted by his recruitment team, who have subsequently supplied him with ten new signings - 1 keeper, 3 centre-backs, 2 left-backs, 1 defensive midfielder, 1 central midfielder, 1 right-sided midfielder and 1 right-winger. At first glance, there seems a lot riding on that right-winger making an impression going forward.
Still, Boro should be wary of one player who has often tore into our defence in Ilias Chair - the small, tricky and pacey attacking midfielder operates down the left and Carrick will have a big decision on who to play at right-back. Tommy Smith should be available after serving his one-match ban in midweek (unless he didn't) and you'd fancy him to pick up at least another yellow playing against Chair - on that basis it may be sensible to go with McNair instead, who is more wily and had a decent game in midweek down the right.
Hard to see any of the recent arrivals getting a start and I expect Howson and Hackney to resume in the middle with Engel at left-back - alongside Lenihan and Fry. Seny Dieng will be looking forward to testing himself against his old club and hopefully his quick feet keep him out of trouble. Presumably Latte Lath starts and the question is on who plays behind him - McGree would be the obvious choice and likely Jones on the left and Silvera on the right. Though, given the options now available to Carrick, he could give quite a few players a run out at some stage of the game.
There will also no doubt be the sight of former Riverside favourite Albert Adomah warming up to look forward to but the only thing the supporters are really coming to see is a first win of the season. Surely Boro will get their season up and running on Saturday - it's hard to contemplate anything else - however full or empty your glass is looking.
So Time gentlemen! Time we won a game more like...
Great stuff, Werder - a very fair summary of the position as we head into what has become quite an important game.
Thanks most of all for stepping in to write the preview, however. Very much appreciated.
I think Boro will win this one. Whilst we haven't managed the results yet, I feel that the team is edging forwards - we've scored more goals and had a little more control in recent games. I think tomorrow is the day it culminates in three points.
Boro 3-1 QPR.
Werdermouth, re your post copied below, have there been any further developments. I have not had any communication from MFC despite emailing them on match day to report the fact I could not access the stream!
”Just received an email from MFC Live to say they're giving everyone a £3 partial refund for failing to broadcast the first 20 minutes of the Huddersfield game on Saturday.
Nice gesture given it was a fault beyond their control - basically a free pint for the next game!
What an excellent piece werder. To pull something out of the bag of that quality at short notice, is highly commendable.
I must say, the continued Headliners form all the previous contributors and the new is truly amazing.
Well being the optimistic person that I am, I think we will spurn defeat. Can we win, well we will know at 4.45 plus stoppage time.
A positive performance at a high press. Hopefully a better defensive show. I would start with O’Brien in front of the back four. Three up front, so 4-3-3.
A great opener and many thanks for stepping into the slot.
You’ve had a good look at the squad and I must confess that in Saturday when I go to the game I’ll be thinking “who’s that ? Is that so and so?” Compounded by the fact Mrs OFB will be sat next to me as well!
I'm just going to shout “come on you reds “ then I know I’ve got it right.
I love Jones and hope he is getting back to his best.
Having signed 10 players i suppose most of the crowd will be scratching their heads at who’s who !
Hopefully the change in recruitment tactics signing more permanent players will take off although I must admit the latest two loan players we have signed look good on paper.
I would have liked another main striker but let’s see how things develop.
Howson should be back again and provide the support for HH that gives him more confidence to have a go at goal.
I know there are no easy games in the championship, but, but, if they don’t win this I shall be most upset after investing in two more season cards! At least it guarantees me a place at Wembley (if we get there!)
So the forecast….
I’m going for Boro3 ! The Rrrs 0
Or even Boro4 ?
I received another email on 22 August from MFC saying the the refund has been issued and can take up to 10 days to arrive in my account - the refund actually arrived in my account on 24 August so you may need to mail them as it should have arrived by now
@werdermouth. Thank you for that information.
I did not receive a response to either of the two emails I sent on the day of the match!
I have now emailed them to advise I am aware that other subscribers have received a partial refund and asked why I have not received a reply to my earlier emails or a refund! 😎
@werdermouth - Thanks for your Starter. Your views of the possible team, set out in your third-last para, coincide with mine. How they coincide with Michael Carrick's views we will have to wait to see.
I MIGHT find myself wondering who these chaps running around the pitch in red shirts, or maybe doing stretches on the sideline, are. I confess to having no idea how things will turn out on Saturday but I hope it's not along the lines of: "We were unlucky with one or two decisions and on another day a couple of those chances will go in, so I can see many positives despite our disappointment". It would be wonderful - and would probably sicken off my mate who is missing the match to go to Madeira - if we were able to watch a well-organised team give a scintillating performance by players confident in their own abilities. In athletics terms it would be a good time for a few "personal bests".
Thank you for a terrific opener, werder.
I’ve no idea which team MC will play, but it will be good to have more options. Presumably, we won’t be fielding two keepers on the bench?! My only stipulation is that McGree must start. On his day he is far and away our most creative player.
Time for a win, obviously. I’ll go 2-1 to Boro.
Great starter Werder and well done for putting such an excellent piece together in a short space of time.
Not sure what to expect tomorrow. Tuesday’s score slightly flattered us in that we were not at it from the off and we were probably second best in the first half but managed a much improved performance in the second half, helped late on by the introduction of Riley McGree.
QPR have not had a great start but often seem to find ways of getting the better of us and I just hope that is not the case tomorrow.
Sounds like Forss may not be available so I would start McGree as the 10 with Jones and Silvera left and right behind Latte Lath at the outset.
The bench should be much stronger with the recent additions and also provides flexibility and different variations to keep QPR guessing, hopefully.
A nervous 1-0 for me at best. 😎
Cheers, Cin Cin, Salute, Mud in your Eye and Yaki Dah Werder, the toast of Diasboro for a sparkling half full jeroboam of an opener.
Greatly enjoyed it.
MFC has confirmed via X (formerly Twitter) the signing of Alex Bangura. The twelfth signing of the summer. So, not content with signing a team, we are now in the throes of signing a bench of substitutes, too, given that the transfer window closes at 11pm UK time. I hope they all bed in well! (I don't claim to know much about most of the new players).
I’m pleased we’re concentrating on the match because as the days wore on I was becoming nervous that we were going to lose HH or McGree who in my opinion and the same of a lot of Diasborians must start every game.
I don’t see why McGree hasn’t started unless
a) he had a slight injury
b) he’d fallen out with MC Or JW
c) he’d been tapped up by another club and Boro had flatly refused to let him go
d) Boro were preparing to sell him and the deal fell through !
You pays your money and take your choices !
Iechyd da (Anglicised by some to Yakki Da) is Welsh for "Good Health" or "Cheers". I guess that now he is going on his jollies, Len Masterman will be saying something similar at regular intervals in the coming days.
Mind the hot sun as you lay on that beach or go in search of Lycian homes/rock tombs. I see the computer tells me it is currently 29C there right now. (My sister-n-law is currently sitting in the shade in Ullapool as it is too hot to sit in the sun. It is 27C there but only 16C in North Yorkshire - some summer this has been, so far!)
Enjoy your down time, Len, and come back refreshed rather than pickled!
Werder. Many thanks. Just had an email from MFC confirming they will be refunding me with £3.
Not about the money but more about having paid for a service they were not fully providing! 😎
Thanks Dormo. I've just had a few days in the Peak District, but was not contemplating the sun for a few months yet. Appreciated your kind thoughts, however.
I often use a saying I picked up from Sergeant Bilko: 'It's not the principle of the thing, it's the money".
So Payero's gone now officially. A permanent deal to Udinese, Italy. Up the Boro!
I did love your headliner, but the pedants' sub-committee has asked me to remind you that the Boro will be playing KPR tomorrow.
Great opener Werder, truly excellent. Many thanks.
Right now this will worry everyone but I've got a touch of the OFB's foam finger problems. Brace yourselves because he who doesn't do prophesies from behind the couch believes, note believes, a convincing win is on for tomorrow and I believe it could well be the return of the old Boro 3-1 in the league. Right that's knackered that and put the hex on it too but there you are.
Now do I have cheese and onion or plain crisps with a little blue salt bag for my sojourn behind the couch, under a blanket in the dark tomorrow.
Big decisions and Michael Carrick thinks he has problems.
Best wishes everyone.
@lenmasterman. At least it’s not KRP they are playing - Kevin Ralph Peters - I have enough problems just supporting! 😎
You may be pleased to know that there is now a Kings Park Rangers - albeit in the Essex and Suffolk Border League...
Evening from (hopefully) sunny Dorset. A couple of weeks away and looking forward to reading about a win tomorrow.
Another brilliant opener, this time from @wedermouth - it looks like you’ve stepped in at the last moment, but you’d never tell from the quality of your post. Again, thanks for all your efforts.
Bilko also said
“'All I've ever wanted is an honest week's pay for an honest day's work.'
Think it sounds like some professional footballer who has just left the Boro?
What a great opener Weder - really don’t know how you do it - but thanks for doing it!
I will be heading up the A19 for the 3 or 4 hour round trip depending on traffic and hoping for a better result than the first game of the season which I was at.
Mrs BBD thinks I am mad as according to her we never win when I go although that is clearly wrong as I have seen many victories! Just not so many of late.
Team selection will be interesting as always and I wouldn’t risk Smith although with their tricky player on the left May be a risk as well - o to be a coach!
I am going to be getting the foam hand out and predict 3 1 to Boro.
I would like to say by careful research but I just had a hunch that everything always exists somewhere and headed for Google 😉