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Bradford v Boro (EFL Cup)

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Bradford City v Boro | Carabao Cup 3rd Round | Tuesday, 7.45pm

After Boro won an actual game of football at the weekend (!), we can now briefly distract ourselves with a trip to Valley Parade to face Bradford City in the Carabao Cup 3rd Round.

What a relief. Boro hadn’t won a league match since the 19th April for goodness sake. In recent weeks, they hadn’t particularly looked likely to either and the visit of relegated Southampton – a squad that ought to be doing a lot better than they are – didn’t offer a great deal of hope.

When the Saints took an early lead, it was reasonable to assume the worst but Boro dug deep to snatch a deserved 2-1 victory courtesy of the restored McGree and Howson.

Despite all the young attacking summer signings, it was a couple already here in Isaiah Jones and Josh Coburn that arguably shared the Man of the Match accolade as Boro offered a glimpse of better things to come at last. At long last.

With that monkey off our backs, we can now go into Tuesday night’s EFL Cup tie in a more relaxed mood.

I was surprised to discover that Bradford are now managed by former Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Wales international striker, Mark Hughes, although not quite as surprised as I was to discover that his actual first name is Leslie. Hughes has, in fact, been in charge since February of last year, from where he guided them to a League Two Play-off Semi-Final defeat to eventual winners, Carlisle Utd.

Like ourselves, the hosts have suffered a sluggish start to the new campaign, sitting in League Two’s 11th place but wins over Accrington Stanley (who are they?) and celebrity-endorsed lower-league bigwigs Wrexham have brought about an unlikely Last 32 League Cup tie. And I mean unlikely for both sides!

That being said, The Bantams haven’t lost any of their last six games in all competitions, winning three including a brilliant 4-1 win away at Newport County at the weekend to leapfrog them in the table.

Goals appear to have been Bradford’s main issue thus far, with them scoring just 6 goals from their 8 games prior to the Newport fixture. Perhaps similarly to ourselves, the reason for that may be due to a large volume of squad turnover over the summer, as it appears that around 13 players joined The Bantams with a further 12 - including a certain Adam Clayton, now 34 - departing.

If familiarity is an issue, it may be lessened for Tuesday’s encounter as, by my count, at least 4 of Bradford’s squad have history with Boro: Sam Stubbs, Brad Halliday, Richie Smallwood and Harry Chapman.

Perhaps their most notable player is one time England call-up Matt Derbyshire, who I recall scoring against us for Blackburn many moons ago. Derbyshire is now 37.

Of Boro’s last six encounters with Bradford, 4 have been in the Premier League, a sure sign of the decline for both sides but particularly Bradford, and with the two teams marooned a little lower down in their respective leagues than anticipated, it’s open to debate as to how seriously either outfit will be taking this tie. A defeat for Boro, whichever XI is selected, however, will be perceived far more harshly given the two-division gulf.

One would expect reserve keeper Tom Glover to take the gloves, whilst experienced squad players such as Smith, Barlaser and McNair could make a return to first team duties. At least two from Silvera, Morgan and Greenwood seem likely to start and/or perhaps we’ll get a first glimpse of Alex Gilbert, who is yet to feature this season.

With a first three points under our belts, the Carabao Cup now takes on a slightly more welcome feel as a distraction in which fringe players can gain some valuable minutes.

The outcome may not be so important but building momentum is always welcome and a good performance could work wonders for Boro’s fragile confidence.

Come on Boro.

This topic was modified 7 months ago by Andy R

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Great pre match opener thank you Andy.  

I hadn’t realised that “sparkie” is now in charge of the Bantams; as you say a decline in status for both clubs and also for the Bantams manager. 

I agree that this will be an opportunity to give game time to some of the fringe players and to rest tired legs following Saturday’s exertions, when numerous members of the first team looked shattered. 

It would be nice to get a win and then draw one of the big boys at home in the next round; that being said next Saturday is without doubt the priority and maintaining momentum via a good performance and without injuries would be most welcome. 😎


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Another excellent piece, Andy. Thanks for bringing us up to date on Bradford City.  Always interesting to see the ex-Boro connections. I hadn't realised that there were so many.


Powmill-Naemore
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Great introduction for the 3rdround tie in the Carabao Cup Andy. Thank you.

I don't have a lot of time to write just now, so in brief. I think it is most important that we follow up Saturday's win with another straight away. So, whichever team he puts out, it has to be one that will take the initiative from kick off and take us into the draw comfortably.

So, not too many unecessay changes, while recognising some the older limbs might need to be protected to be fit for Saturday. Put the game to bed in the first half and then rest the older bodies.

And no, I don't want a premier league team in the next round. More of the same again please, so we will not get the stuffing and confidence knocked out of us just when we have found our way to winning a game...or hopefully two or three.


Pedro de Espana
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Thanks for the Headliner Andy, and yes an opportunity for more game time for the fringe players.

As to what team MC will put out, we would need a crystal ball.

Normally, I would assume that Jones and McGree would not even make the squad. However looking at our injuries, it may be difficult to make too many changes overall and still put out a team that MC can be confident of winning.

So, probably Glover in goal, Smith and McNair to replace Berg and Fry. Can he afford to drop O’Brien for Engel?

Barlaser for Howson. Silvera, Greenwood, Lathe and one other?

That would be an inordinate amount of changes, with that team looking somewhat wanting at the top end.

But a win is a must to keep the confidence levels going upwards.

 


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Many thanks Andy a polished and accomplished opening opening post as always.

Although playing clubs lower in the league can always be considered to be easy they can often prove to be a banana skin!

Perhaps a strong dose of caffeine and some latte might improve our goalscoring and we see the return of 

BORO3 !

OFB


jarkko
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@original-fat-bob It was so close to be Boro3 on Saturday ...

Hope we take the 4th win tomorrow. Up the Boro!


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Considering we are away to Watford on Saturday, I personally would start a number of fringe players, such as Glover, Smith, McNair, Engel, Bangura (if fit), Barlaser, Greenwood, Lath, Rogers, Gilbert (if fit), Silvera, and anyone (Forss) if returning from injury. My reasoning is when are these guys going to get an opportunity to develop and let’s be truthfully honest, the Caraboa Cup is way down our list of priorities at the moment, also if not given the opportunity in this less important game, do the fringe players start to think the manager doesn’t trust me. I do understand the thoughts on momentum but if the majority of the first team don’t play (rest and recovery) how is it going to effect them, the question I ask myself is, would I possibly prefer to be in the next round of the Caraboa Cup or 3 points on Saturday, I do understand neither is guaranteed no matter what team is played (or available) for either match, just my personal opinion.

Come on BORO.

This post was modified 7 months ago by exmil

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Many thanks Andy for the informative preview of the Carabao Cup game - though it's probably going to be the most visible thing of the tie as once again it will remain hidden away until the highlights appear the next day on the MFC website.

It had also passed me by that Mark 'don't call me leslie' Hughes is the Bantams manager after a long and illustrious career gracing the big stage. I noted his 1990 autobiography was called Sparky - Barcelona, Bayern and Back but maybe his updated story will include Blackburn and Bradford instead.

I thought he'd retired and was much older but underneath that white hair he's actually only 59 and the same age as me but I've somehow managed to avoid barely any grey hairs thus far - then again that's probably because I've also avoided the stress of managing any football teams 🤣 

Anyway, as for the game and team selection - I'm with Exmil on this one and time to field a fringe team as with Watford, Cardiff and Sunderland all up in the following week, it's a time to rest and prioritise picking up more Championship points.

Don't know if Boro have another fit left full-back available but surely even Engel is good enough for League Two opposition and a good chance for the other projects to show what hidden talents they've got.

Incidentally I was thinking, given the gaps that needed filling in the summer, whether some of those projects deemed not ready were not really supposed to be projects and were signed as potential starters. It wouldn't have made sense to sign so many players for the future and if they were why were they being selected up until last week? It sounds to me that they were supposed to be better than they've so far shown and their inability to hit the ground running has needed a rethink by Carrick.

No matter, the job of the new signings on Tuesday is to give Michael Carrick something to ponder when he selects his team for the weekend - let's hope they don't make it any easy decision on who gets left out for the trip to Watford.


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@werdermouth.  I would venture that Dieng, Engel, Bangura, Rogers, Silvera and Lathe were all signed as permanent replacements for the loan players we lost and all were expected to be starters; unfortunately only Dieng from that group has been worthy of a start, whilst RVB was probably signed for the future but has shown he can hold his own in the first team. 😎


Clive Hurren
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@k-p-in-spain and werder 

I’m not so sure about all of those being seen as definite starters. Silvera looked good on YouTube, for example, but was only playing in the Aussie A-League. Surely, nobody thought he could just come and immediately hold down a first team place in a league as competitive as the Champo? Equally, Rogers. He’d been at Manchester City but had been jettisoned ( for obvious reasons, it turns out) and had since played only a few games on loan at Blackpool (and Oxford, was it?), where he hadn’t exactly set the promenade on fire. 

Engel’s case might be different, though - his showcase reel of crosses and goals was impressive, I grant you, and the recruitment team may well have thought he could be a ready replacement for Giles. But had anybody actually watched him defend in the Danish League, or judged his (lack of) pace? Had anybody determined the relative strengths of the Danish League versus the Championship? Something somewhere clearly went wrong in the scouting process. 


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Gazette has an update about injuries

RVDB out, Crooks suspended. Smith maybe still recovering Bangura out. Forss out. Greenwood cup-tied

We are getting a bit down to the bare bones defensively. Probably means more changes than is ideal. If I had to guess we might see

Glover

McNair - Fry - Lenihan - O'Brien/Engel

O'Brien/Barlaser - Hackney

Silvera - Rogers - McGree/Gilbert

Lath

 

Jones, McGree and Coburn ran themselves into the ground on Saturday so it's probably all change up front. Maybe he could get some confidence into the new recruits. I think Lath might do well playing deeper but not sure if Carrick does. Not sure if Engel could get a chance or we need to give him a long time to adjust. Coulson seems to have disappeared.

The problem we'll face is that no one in this lineup can keep the ball. Coburn made a huge difference just by keeping the ball. Lath is more of an Archer type. 

 

 


   
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@deleriad - I'd like to see Coburn start.  Ideally he'd be told by Carrick that he will get a start by having an extended run in the next 5 or 6 games unless something goes seriously wrong or he is injured.  He needs time to show the manager what he can do and bringing him on for the last 5 (?) minutes like in the previous game tells NOBODY anything about him.  Maybe we could see whether he and Lath can do something when playing together up front.

A win is a win, whoever you play against. Boro is a club whose team is in desperate need of wins, and the confidence those wins provide to the players.  Attackers need goals and defenders need clean sheets.  Surely this is the opportunity to provide them?  And, no, I am not taking Bradford City away for granted and, therefore, I don't expect the coaching staff or the players to do so either.  Let's pick a strong team hope for a win. 

This post was modified 7 months ago by Forever Dormo

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@clive-hurren 

You have to question the fee paid for Latte Lath as a 24-year old you would think he's close to his prime as a striker but he's had a long history of being sent out on loan without success in scoring goals (mainly in the Italian 3rd division where he's generally managed 2 or 3 goals) - he's only made double figures once and that was last year playing in the Swiss top tier but it's not a strong league probably on a par with the Scottish Premier League and consists of only ten clubs.

So as you've mentioned with other players coming from the Danish League or even the Dutch League where Boro have had their fingers burned in past when thinking they're signing a top player only to find out their stats flattered to deceive.

I'm of a similar view to KP that I suspect several of our signings were signed as direct replacements for those first-teamers who we lost last season - if they weren't then why would Carrick have opted to play them ahead of players like McGree and Jones who we know have what it takes in the Championship. I'm sure he was expecting a higher level from these players but at some point he must have realised that they couldn't be relied upon to execute his game plan.

I agree Silvera looks raw but he's looks like he has potential but doesn't look composed when he has the goal in his sights or needs to deliver a cross. He's another player who hasn't displayed much in his career except last season when he scored 8 goals. It does look like the recruitment team have put a lot of emphasis on the stats of last season rather than looking at their career as a whole - plus not really assessing how strong the league those last-season stats were produced in.

OK, we can't write off these players after a few appearances in what was until last weekend a losing team - maybe the lesson is throwing all these gambles together at the same time was a mistake based on the belief they were better players than their careers have shown. I very much doubt they've played in such a hectic league as the Championship where time on the ball is a luxury and the physicality is the norm.

We've seen with players like Hayden Hackney that he has a natural talent of looking like he has more time than most when he receives the ball - he's calm and doesn't panic and OK sometimes he tries the killer pass when it's not quite on but he can cope with most things thrown at him and knows how to look after himself and focus when the goal is in sight. This is not what we've seen from Latte Lath and Silvera as they've probably not developed that swagger that some players just seem to have. Football is played in the head and often having that self-belief makes you a better player when the pressure is on - it what determines how high a level a player can reach.

Josh Coburn is showing similar maturity for his age and now has the physique to match - which makes him quite an exciting prospect and it's highly possible he will push on this season if he gets the breaks and scores some goals. What we don't know is whether the likes of Rogers, Latte Lath, Silvera or even Engel have that inner strength to learn quickly and adapt their game while retaining the confidence they can make it.

Unfortunately, a few of those haven't convinced me by their body language that they are determined to succeed - maybe Michael Carrick has already made those judgements but luckily he's the type of head coach who can find a way to get inside their heads.


Clive Hurren
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@werdermouth 

That’s a great post, werder! 


   
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It was good to see Matt Clarke get 64 minutes in the U21’s 3-1 victory at Leicester tonight 👍.

Come on BORO.


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@deleriad Why do you think Crooks is suspended as he has only had two yellows this season so far 🤔.

Come on BORO.


   
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Pedro de Espana
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@werdermouth    Forward your post to 

Mr K Scott

MFC  Riverside Stadium

Middlesbrough.

I am sure you will get a detailed explanation as to the recruitment of all this seasons players. 😂😂😂

On a brighter note, Mr Hoppe has now scored two goals for San Jose. They may buy him yet. 


   
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@exmil he's had 2 bookings in the cup which are counted separately.


   
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@clive-hurren.  Rodger’s had 15 games on loan at Bournemouth (21/22 season) and 22 games at Blackpool (23 season) so not exactly a novice and I suspect they felt he would slot straight in to the first team.

I agree Silvera was playing at a lower level but given his pacy performances in the pre season friendliest and a couple of goals, I suspect the coaching staff felt he was capable at Championship level; sadly, so far he has not shown it.

Perhaps with time and more coaching from MC and his team they will both make valued contributions but I am not holding my breath. 😎


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This article on Steve Gibson may be of interest albeit not a lot of new information:

https://footballleagueworld.co.uk/how-wealthy-is-middlesbroughs-owner/

😎


   
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@k-p-in-spain -  Thanks for that link on Steve Gibson.  I didn't like the next item on the link: possible Nottingham Forest interest in Hayden Hackney!


   
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@forever-dormo.  I agree, we need to hold onto him as long as we can if we have serious intentions of building a promotion winning side. 😎


   
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Well Chuba may have made a big money move but it doesn’t appear he is being able to build on last year’s performances due to a lack of game time; also not helped by Ajax’s current struggles.  All sounds a bit familiar. 

https://footballleagueworld.co.uk/how-is-chuba-akpom-getting-on-since-leaving-middlesbrough-for-ajax/

😎


   
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@deleriad Yes, I didn’t realise the Caraboa Cup rules are different to the league rules, which is confusing because the Caraboa Cup is the League Cup 🤔. In the league a player gets a one match suspension if he gets five yellows before a certain date but in the CC it’s one match suspension for a yellow in two consecutive matches (bonkers), yet I believe a suspension in the league can be served in the next round of the CC 🤔. There really should be some uniformity in the league rules in my opinion.

Come on BORO.


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Posted by: @k-p-in-spain

@forever-dormo.  I agree, we need to hold onto him as long as we can if we have serious intentions of building a promotion winning side. 😎

Fortunately Hackney recently signed a new contract committing him to Boro until 2027, which I know can mean nothing but MFC can set a very high price, although I don’t think he will leave this season or in the next summer window, unless a team comes in with a very high bid.

Come on BORO.

 


   
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Looking at this round of fixtures in the Caraboa Cup, if we win, we could be one of two championship teams left in (Blackburn v Cardiff being the other) and the next round will be played between our fixtures Stoke (H) and Plymouth (A) in the week commencing 30 October.

Come on BORO.


   
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@k-p-in-spain - I'm not surprised, K-P.  I wrote some time ago about Chuba Akpom having averaged about 1 goal in every 6 games throughout his career, apart from the outlier that his last season represents.  One in 6 probably means scoring about 7 league goals in each season (46 divided by 6 = 7.67, and there being 46 league games in The Championship), but that would require him to be fit enough to play most of the games and not to have any suspensions.  I had thought if he'd stayed at Boro for 2023-24 it was most likely he'd score maybe 12-15 if he had a "reasonably successful" season" and he had the supply he received last season - which was never going to happen with Giles having been the main provider and openings being made for him last season by Ramsey and Archer, none of whom remain at Boro.


   
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@forever-dormo.  I agree entirely with your analysis and view on CA.

I know from playing golf that I have the occasional excellent round but then revert to type, which is more miss than hit! 😎


   
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@werdermouth 

Two exceptional posts, Werder. Both spot on.


   
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