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Bristol City v Boro
 

Bristol City v Boro

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After the latest International interlude Boro return to action away to Bristol City on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

The Robins sit in 11th place in the Championship, one place and two points behind Boro. If Boro’s march to midtable has been one of a shocking start followed by an explosive winning run, Bristol City’s has been the more traditional route of consistent inconsistency. DWLDWDWLLWLWLLWD has been their random sequence of league results this season as opposed to the more binary LLDLLLDWWWWWLDW for Boro.

Not surprisingly then, despite the close proximity of our respective league positions, there is more of a gulf in the form table with Boro 3rd over the last 10 games whilst Bristol City languish in 14th. Or over the last six, it’s 4th vs 15th.

There’s no particular bias for home or away form for the Robins either, with their record at Ashton Gate reading P8 W3 D2 L3. They really have mastered the age-old art of Championship inconsistency.

Perhaps that is what they had in mind when replacing Nigel Pearson as manager with 38yr old former Oxford Utd boss, Liam Manning.

Manning, a non-league midfielder in his playing days, started professional coaching in 2015 aged just 30 as an academy coach for Ipswich Town before quickly being recruited by West Ham’s U23s. After four years with The Hammers, he had a short dalliance with Belgian football, leading little known Lommel SK from the foot of the First Division B to third place.

That must have alerted attentions as, after that one part season, he returned to the UK as manager of League One MK Dons, twice winning the division’s Manager of the Month award on the way to another 3rd placed finish. However, a poor start to the following season saw him sacked in December 2022. Who'd be a manager, eh?

Four months later, however, he was appointed manager of Oxford Utd, where he won 14 of his 29 games in charge before being snaffled by Bristol City.

Quite an unusual managerial career to date then, with just 143 games in charge across four different clubs already. One thing he has been, however, is consistently successful, boasting a win percentage of just under 50% in each position he’s held.

Manning appears to be one of the new generation of EFL managers much like our own Michael Carrick – enjoying working with younger players and said to favour a possession and pressing-based game. Have Bristol City found themselves a good ‘un? The signs are promising but it’s too soon to tell at Championship level. Manning’s only game in charge so far was a 0-0 away at QPR, who of course also had a shiny new manager in their dugout in what must have been quite a confusing encounter for the players.

No doubt the International break came at a welcome time for Manning, giving him a fortnight to impress his ideas upon his squad. In truth, despite the rousing win over Leicester City, it probably also came at a good time for Boro with injuries and fatigue mounting.

There’s no update on the injury front at the time of writing, with O’Brien and Smith the long-term absentees and the availability of McGree and Forss unclear. Djiksteel and Clarke are edging themselves back though it’s not certain that Carrick sees either as starters, whilst Isaiah Jones is just one yellow card away from suspension.

The bookies favour Boro for this one in much the same way that the form does but there is an abnormally large sense of the unknown surrounding Bristol City and Boro will need to be prepared for a different kind of opponent than they might have been expecting just a few weeks ago.

Of course, with Carrick at the helm for over a year now and rarely changing his setup (last time out was the first time I can recall such a shift), Boro are well drilled and in good spirits. Meeting The Robins before Manning has had a chance to bed his style in is a plus and Boro should travel to Ashton Gate confident of getting a result.

With just one defeat in twelve in all comps, and with (mostly) rested legs, there’s surely no reason why Boro can’t do just that.


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Well done Andy it’s back to normality ! 

Or it will be on Saturday !

Thanks for the well researched piece on their manager as I knew nothing about him !

Well I’ve pressed my foam hands 🙌 and sprayed them with some Hugo Boss aftershave and they look and smell a treat!

I shall be wearing them during the game as Mrs OFB says wearing them stops me biting my nails ! (Or picking my nose !)

So after saying all that I’ve got to go for Boro3 haven’t I ?

Up the Boro

OFB


   
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Pedro de Espana
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Thank you Andy for the Bristol Headliner. The Leicester game now seems an eternity ago. 

Unfortunately, I do not have any foam hands to wave like OFB. However as well as we played in our last win, we all know that a Stoke performance is possible with Typical Boro.

I expect at least a draw and will be disappointed with anything less. We need to keep our average points per game up, and away at least one from a draw.

Injuries permitting from training or International games, probably the same eleven starters.

 


   
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Thanks Andy for a very interesting and informative piece.

We were by far the better team last season but threw away the three points with some woeful defending. 

I'll be disappointed if we haven't learned from that and come away with less than three points against a bang average Championship outfit who have just sacked their manager.

1-3 for me.

 

This post was modified 3 months ago by lenmasterman

jarkko
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@Andy, a nice and very informative opener. As OFB, I did not know anything about the new Brissol City manager. I only knew they started with a 0-0 draw at QPR with the new manager.

I hope we won't get beat - we can win but it won't be any easier than at Plymouth.  Up the Boro! 


   
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Andy, well done for the introduction, informative and illuminating and as somebody said a perfect occasion for 'Typical Boro' to have an outing. Boro should win, but we are Boro after all. Normal service is finally resumed on Saturday so let's hope that it is the right kind of service. Hopefully the fast passing and positioning has been getting drilled in the Boro players so that it becomes, sorry has become, totally instinctive.

UTB,

John


   
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Powmill-Naemore
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Thanks for getting us off on track for the next segment of our current campaign @Andy R.

An interesting introduction to the Robins' little known manager Liam Manning. It is perhaps worth adding to those details that last season Oxford finished a lowly 19th in League 1, but as Manning left them Oxford are vying for top spot in that league with Portsmouth. So, there is certainly good cause for Boro to be wary of how he may have been motivating and reorganising his new charges during the international break.

I do not expect a change in personnel for the starting eleven, but perhaps for them to be lined up and expected to play more like we had become accustomed to before the clever tactical switch to do for the Foxes. Less than a win would be an opportunity lost to gather some momentum, and even though Bristol will be up for it, I think we have will have too much quality for them to compete with over the 90 minutes. 2-1 to Boro it is then Crossed fingers 

 


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Andy R, thanks for another informative opener, I don’t expect any of the injured players back, in fact I think we will be lucky to see any of them before the end of the transfer window. I hope HH brings his England form back to Boro, as he played really well against Serbia and should be in the starting eleven against Northern Ireland tomorrow night, 1945 hrs kickoff, live on YouTube.

Come on BORO.


   
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Darragh Lenihan Has Confirmed on His Instagram That He Will Miss The Rest Of The Season Due To Injury.

OFB


   
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Thanks Andy for getting us up and running again with an interesting and informative starter.

Given BC are only averaging a goal a game, then if we defend as a team and don’t make any silly mistakes we should be capable of taking all three points; a point would be welcome albeit slightly disappointing.

Having said all that this is a “typical Boro” banana skin game, having just beaten the league leaders the Boro of old would be highly capable of losing to a mid table side whose performance levels so far have been inconsistent.  Fingers crossed that Boro of old have been well and truly banished. CoB 😎 


jarkko
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@original-fat-bob Terrible news that Leninhan will miss the rest of the season now. We have still players left in defence but we must decide if we keep McNair after January and if a new right back is needed to be able to move Rav Van Den Berg to play in his natural position of centre back.

Also we have Matt Clarke available nowcafter he was away injured for a year. Clarke has been named on the bench for the past few matches now.

But we cannot afford any more injuries in the defence. Up the Boro! 


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Thanks @AndyR for that starter.  I had almost started to forget what football was like, as a result of YET ANOTHER International Break.

Like some of the others above, I had no idea that Bristol City had a new manager who, it appears, might turn out to be something of a talent.  However it is still early stages for him and Michael Carrick seems to have put Boro back onto an even keel after the Stoke performance. I hope for a win and 1-2 or 1-3 would be my lazy prediction.

Also it is sad news about Lenighan.

This post was modified 3 months ago by Forever Dormo

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According to an article today, Boro’s estimated players wage bill stands at £13,582,000 with Jonny Howson on 9.57% (£1,300,000) of that bill.

Come on BORO.


   
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@forever-dormo 

 

Sorry, Dormo, but in what sense is 1-3  a lazy prediction?

I've spent the best part of a week calculating and assessing that scoreline, and am currently in need of some quality rest in preparation for Saturday's big game.

 


Powmill-Naemore
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@lenmasterman 🤣


   
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@lenmasterman - With a grin from ear to ear I'd say it was easy for me to predict because I employed my gut-feeling rather than the detailed mathematical exercise which you employed. I MIGHT have examined the tea leaves if it had not been for the fact that we used tea bags in the last pot. It is on such decisions that the fate of the Boro football world depends.


   
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Martin Bellamy
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From CJ

 

By the time Middlesbrough take to the field at the Riverside on New Year's Day against Coventry City, they will have contested a further 27 Championship points and will be more than halfway through the campaign.

In what is a busy five-week period upon returning from the current international break, Michael Carrick's side have ten games to play, of which nine are in the league. As well as the Carabao Cup quarter-final trip to Port Vale, Boro's upcoming period could prove key as far as potentially solidifying their top-six chances are concerned.

There will of course be plenty of football still to play in the new calendar year - and potentially new recruits to help. But Boro will know they have to use their next nine league games to at least stay in touch with the teams in the play-off places, after suffering the poor start to the season they did. With an interesting and important period ahead, we take a closer look at Boro's remaining 2023 games.

READ MORE: Blow for Middlesbrough as Darragh Lenihan's injury makes him second defender out for the season

Bristol City (away) - Saturday, November 25

Boro's return from the international break comes at Bristol City, which hasn't proven a particularly happy hunting ground for them in recent years. They've won only one of their last four visits to Ashton Gate and head there this weekend for what is new boss Liam Manning's first home game in charge.

Before the break, his first in charge was a bore draw away at QPR, but he'll no doubt hope to see improvements after a fortnight to work with his new squad. Boro, meanwhile, will be hoping to build on their excellent Leicester City win before the break.

 
 

Preston North End (home) - Tuesday, November 28

Last season's 4-0 victory over North End at the Riverside came as the travelling Whites fans celebrated Gentry Day. Michael Carrick's side ensured they couldn't enjoy their celebrations too much, with his Boro side in ruthless form that afternoon. They'll be hoping for similar this time, but Ryan Lowe's side have had a good start to the season and sit fifth right now, four points better off than Boro.

Leeds United (away) - Saturday, December 2

The first of a really tough double-header to kickstart December, Boro return to Elland Road to renew their tasty rivalry with Leeds United for the first time since 2020. Their last visit to Elland Road in November 2019 ended in a chastising 4-0 defeat for Jonathan Woodgate's side.

They'll be hoping to give a much better account of themselves this time. Leeds had come into form before the international break and also beat Leicester 1-0 just before Boro - somewhat providing the blueprint for Carrick and co.

Ipswich Town (home) - Saturday, December 9

The second of that tough double-header comes against Championship surprise package Ipswich Town who, despite only being promoted from League One in the summer, are currently joint-top of the league and eight points clear of third-placed Leeds.

The game at the Riverside will no doubt be dominated pre-match by the reunion of former Manchester United coaching duo Carrick and Kieran McKenna.

Hull City (home) - Wednesday, December 13

Boro will welcome the Sky Sports cameras to the Riverside on December 13 for the visit of Hull City. Carrick's side did the double over the Tigers last term, with 3-1 wins in both fixtures - the first of which was Carrick's first win as Boro boss at the MKM Stadium. But Liam Rosenior's side have improved this term and currently sit eighth, two points ahead of Boro.

Swansea City (away) - Saturday, December 16

In a similar start to Boro, promotion-hopefuls Swansea City had to wait until the eighth game of their season to finally get their first win. Like Boro they followed that first win up with two more.

But whereas Boro's first win started a run of nine victories from 11, Swansea managed only one more win after those initial three. They sit 17th after just one win in their last five.

Port Vale (away) - Tuesday, December 19

Boro then have a brief and probably welcome distraction from the league in the week before Christmas. In what could be the perfect early Christmas present for supporters, Boro can guarantee themselves a two-legged semi-final against a Premier League club in the New Year, if they can beat League One Port Vale away from home in the Carabao Cup quarter-final.

West Brom (home) - Saturday, December 23

The start of a hectic finale to the calendar year, Boro host West Brom just two days before Christmas Day. Another tough game against fellow top-six hopefuls, it will be the first time this season that Boro play a team for the second time. They lost the reverse fixture 4-2, so will have an element of revenge for motivation.

Rotherham United (away) - Tuesday, December 26

After enjoying home games on Boxing Day in the last two seasons since fans returned post-COVID, Boro return to the road on Boxing Day this year as they head to South Yorkshire to take on strugglers Rotherham United. At this stage, that game is somewhat of an unknown, however, with the Millers sacking manager Matt Taylor during the international break. They're yet to appoint his successor.

In a similar note, should Michael Carrick still be in charge of Middlesbrough for this game, as expected, he will be the first Boro boss since Aitor Karanka to be in the Boro post for two consecutive Christmases.

Huddersfield Town (away) - Friday, December 29

Having already won at Huddersfield's John Smith Stadium this season in the first round of the Carabao Cup, Boro will hope to end the calendar year on a high by repeating the feat in the Championship. They've ended the last two years with wins away from home (at Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers) and will hope to do so again this year.


   
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In tonight’s England U21’s v Northern Ireland U21’s, interestingly Hayden Hackney is playing on the right of a front three, the match will be live on YouTube, kickoff at 7:45, I am looking forward to see how he plays.

Come on BORO.


   
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Selwynoz
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@exmil 

according to the reports, he ended up playing in a very flexible midfield three, often in a kind of Johnny Howson role, a little behind the other two. He certainly seems to be fully integrated into the first team. Holding on to him in the summer could be tricky.

UTB


   
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From EG

Kieran Scott says that Middlesbrough's purchase clause in Sam Greenwood's loan deal doesn't mean they can just click a button and sign the Leeds United man.

Greenwood, 21, has proven an excellent signing for Boro so far this season. Stepping up for them at the opportune time as Riley McGree got injured, the loan man currently leads Boro's goalscoring charts in the league with four to date.

That includes his stunning free-kick against Leicester City which claimed Boro three points before the international break and was symptomatic of his impact so far as a player with the quality to change a game in an instant. With a £1.5 million deal agreed with Leeds in the loan deal which would allow Boro to sign the forward, his recent performances make such a move from Boro a no-brainer.

READ MORE: Kieran Scott discusses Middlesbrough's January transfer plans and offers hint at direction

But head of football Kieran Scott was keen to explain why Boro can't just do that right away. In a studio interview with BBC Tees, Scott said: "It’s not as simple as that. I won't bore people, but it's a difficult one. At the minute he is still a Leeds player and I have to be respectful.

"He's on loan with an option, I’ll leave it at that. The only slight issue that could come is if Leeds were promoted, being totally transparent so everyone has the full picture. If Leeds were to be promoted, we all know what comes with that, when teams get promoted players do better for themselves. I'm sure Sam is one of those and that is an issue that is there.

 
 

"We'd work with Sam and his representatives in that position if that was what the club wanted to do, but it's a difficult scenario. There are things to work through but Sam has shown he can be a key component for us. The club-to-club side is dealt with, it would be about agreeing other things. Believe me, we will do our best.

"I watched him when he was 15 at Sunderland. I really liked him, couldn't afford him. He went to Arsenal and then I had another swipe when he came out of Arsenal and chose to go to Leeds, which is fine. This is third time lucky. He's been good for us and we've been good for him. Long may it continue."


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@malcolm 

I heard that clip and understood it to mean that Boro and Leeds have everything agreed so it's all about personal terms with Greenwood himself. Scott seemed to suggest that if Leeds got promoted, there might be a clause in Greenwood's contract that would see him get a pay rise, so it's not in Greenwood's personal interests to sign for us sooner.


   
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https://www.mfc.co.uk/news/2023/november/22/counting-down-to-bristol-trip/

Good to see Matt Clarke involved in the training.

Come on BORO.


   
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Selwynoz
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Posted by: @selwynoz

@exmil 

according to the reports, he ended up playing in a very flexible midfield three, often in a kind of Johnny Howson role, a little behind the other two. He certainly seems to be fully integrated into the first team. Holding on to him in the summer could be tricky.

UTB

@exmil

Now the England U21 coach says that Hackney was playing 'higher' so I assume that he knows what was happening better than the reporter. He also made it clear that they see HH as a future England national team member and that must make him both a target and a valuable asset.

UTB

 


   
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@selwynoz 

Just think 🤔 

Our previous manager wasn’t wilder bout him and played him in the u23 team and sent him away on loan !

Just shows what type of manager he was !

A good spot by Leo to put him in the first team and a good second decision by MC to play him consistently. 👏👏👏

OFB


   
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I totally agree with Sir Bob Murray

From CJ

Former Sunderland owner Sir Bob Murray fears that Newcastle United's recent Saudi-led takeover could have very serious implications for his former club and fellow North East rivals Middlesbrough.

A little over one year ago the Tyneside club were bought by a consortium headed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), effectively making them one of the richest clubs in the world. However, the takeover has not been without controversy due to the human rights atrocities that the Saudi Arabian state have been accused of.

Asked what implications he believed the takeover could have on Newcastle's North East rivals, former Black Cats owner Murray told the Telegraph: “Are Sunderland and Middlesbrough going to be left behind? Well, it’s going to be hard for anyone to compete with a State.

Read more:Why Middlesbrough have yet to activate Sam Greenwood transfer clause

"But it is about what sort of club do you want? When Newcastle had Kevin Keegan, they played lovely football and were very popular. Newcastle supporters were very loyal and very vociferous, they loved their football and a lot of people could identify with that. They liked that team and what it represented but that’s not going to happen to Newcastle again.

"Newcastle are never going to be a popular club. Historically there is a lot that unites the North East clubs. Not anymore. The other week, the Saudi national team played Costa Rica and whoever else at their ground. There were 4,000 people there. The same night, we had the England women’s team playing at the Stadium of Light and it was a full house. I know which stadium I’d rather be at.”

 
 

In an ever-changing climate, owners like Murray and Boro chairman Steve Gibson are becoming more of a rarity. Murray ultimately sold Sunderland in 2006 but he has huge respect for Gibson and his continued backing of Boro, and urges Boro fans to appreciate him.

Murray continued: “Steve Gibson is the other extreme, he only gives money one way at Middlesbrough. Nobody could do what he does there and they need to value him. It’s largely true that local businessmen like us can’t compete anymore. Not like it was in the 90s. Seeing the three North East clubs back on the big stage in the 90s, it was, looking back, a remarkable time.

"When I sold Sunderland, it took me two years to find the right owner to get Niall [Quinn] in and I got £5.2m for selling Sunderland. And I’d put a hell of a lot more money in than that. I never took a penny out. I didn’t sell for money. People buy clubs now who have no connection to the club or the area, it’s a completely different culture.”

 


Pedro de Espana
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@exmil   If true, that is a very high amount for a 35 year old at the end of his career. Add to that McNair on his supposed 20K a week, Lenahin on probably 10/12 K and a notable number of new contracts handed out including, HH, Fry and a couple of other first team players, plus all the summer incomers. Greenwood on supposedly 30K, that looks a rather low figure. 

 

 


   
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Pedro de Espana
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@andy-r   And as I posted recently, he has a contact until 2026 on supposedly 30K a week. 

Could we really afford him. He would have to take a pay cut even if given a longish contact. Then there is the rumoured cap by Mr Gibson of 20K a week maximum on new contracts. 


Selwynoz
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Posted by: @original-fat-bob

@selwynoz 

Just think 🤔 

Our previous manager wasn’t wilder bout him and played him in the u23 team and sent him away on loan !

Just shows what type of manager he was !

A good spot by Leo to put him in the first team and a good second decision by MC to play him consistently. 👏👏👏

OFB

I wonder who the next Academy star will be.

UTB

 


   
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Clive Hurren
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Catching up belatedly, as usual. I enjoyed your starter, Andy. Thank you. 

Like most of you, I think Boro can (and should?) win this one. As Len says, Bristol City are a bang average side, and Andy has demonstrated their inconsistency. If we play our normal game, I think we’ll win - 2-1 or 2-0. A draw would be an opportunity lost. 

 


   
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