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Chelsea v Boro: EFL...
 

Chelsea v Boro: EFL Cup SF 2nd-leg

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Another text message posted on the Beeb site which echoes the sentiments expressed on here:

Agree with most that it’s hard to criticise Boro when you look at the squad values. It was always going to be a long shot. But we contributed to our own downfall tonight. You just can’t play out from the back as often as we did against superior players. What maybe works against bottom half Championship teams doesn’t work against Chelsea.

 


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Important we put the game to bed and move on. Still plenty to play for. What struck me was the bond between our players and super fans. Bodes well for the future that we all feel the club is going in the right direction despite the inevitable bumps in the road (some bumps bigger than others!) UTB


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Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live: "It's tough. It's hugely disappointing in the end because the boys have worked so hard to get here and in the first leg and be in a position where we come here and are right here.

"Six shots on target, six goals. It's pretty ruthless, pretty hard and pretty brutal. I know there are a couple of goals where we could have done better, but I can't fault the boys for that.  The effort and the way they stuck to it, I was really proud of them to be honest because that is not easy. I felt it was a bit brutal how ruthless they were.

"It's tough and credit to them for sticking to it. It was a little bit of shellshock. We came here to play a certain way and we thought we were in it and then all of a sudden the writing is on the wall.

"We kept going and playing and big moments unravelled a little bit. They scored from nowhere in some ways and then Morgan [Rogers] has a chance at a corner at 1-0 and we need them to go for us.  They went for us last time and they didn't go for us this time."


   
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Posted by: @stircrazy

Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live: "It's tough. It's hugely disappointing in the end because the boys have worked so hard to get here and in the first leg and be in a position where we come here and are right here.

"Six shots on target, six goals. It's pretty ruthless, pretty hard and pretty brutal. I know there are a couple of goals where we could have done better, but I can't fault the boys for that.  The effort and the way they stuck to it, I was really proud of them to be honest because that is not easy. I felt it was a bit brutal how ruthless they were.

"It's tough and credit to them for sticking to it. It was a little bit of shellshock. We came here to play a certain way and we thought we were in it and then all of a sudden the writing is on the wall.

"We kept going and playing and big moments unravelled a little bit. They scored from nowhere in some ways and then Morgan [Rogers] has a chance at a corner at 1-0 and we need them to go for us.  They went for us last time and they didn't go for us this time."

More from Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live...

On their journey to the semi-finals: "It's huge for us. That's the first time any of our boys have played in a semi-final, so it's not something they are used to. We have got some of the older boys who have had great careers and the younger lads who know what it means to play in that sort of game now.

'They will learn from that after they have gotten over the disappointment. But yeah, we had a big night at the Riverside where we managed to beat a really good Chelsea team. We just couldn't get it done here, unfortunately."

On Cole Palmer: "He is a real talent. Nice lad as well. Down to earth and you can see when you come up against him he will go on to have a great career.  It's not nice when you are on the end of it, but we can appreciate and respect how good he is."

Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick, speaking to Sky Sports about the away fans who were vocal throughout the loss at Chelsea: "The fans were incredible. When you stand there at the end it is mixed feelings. Because of what they gave us and to feel that was a nice moment in a way.

"They have supported us all the way. It was nice for us to have that moment for them, but just a shame we couldn't give them anything to shout about."

On the rest of the season: "There is a lot to play for this season. This is not going to make or break the season. This was a bonus in a way. We have a good squad and we look forward to the rest of the season."

 


 gt
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You can't say alot after that , only the fact we didn't help ourselves , by giving the ball away too easily ,Chelsea were however at it, they didn't give us any space at all.

My one concern though is we must be one of the slowest teams individually in the league, Barlaser, Crooks, Clarke, Fry ,Johnny you expect but it does show up and it has in the league when teams counter attack on us, not enough speed.

The question is are we signing players that will keep us competitive in the championship, not relegation fodder but not top two ever, looks like that.to me


Clive Hurren
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@peter-surtees 

I agree entirely, Peter. There have been relatively few occasions this season when Boro have opted for a long ball rather than playing out from the back. But my East Stand neighbour and I often take a sharp intake of breath at some of our kamikaze passes! Usually, it has worked, but occasionally it goes wrong: we almost gifted that big lump Hugill a very early goal on Saturday, for instance. In the first Chelsea game, we gave Palmer a couple of very easy chances. But it seemed tonight that lessons had not been learned. Even after gifting Chelsea their third goal, and then their fourth, both from hurried and unwise passes out to a midfielder under pressure, we still kept on doing it, resulting ultimately in goals 5 and 6. 

When it works, it works beautifully. But players have to be able to judge better when a team-mate is too tightly marked, and they also have to think that, sometimes, you absolutely do need to clear it long! In any case, a well-judged long ball over the heads of opposition attackers pressing high up can often be very effective in launching an attack. 


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I was lucky we had a power cut at 1-0. . .

UTB,

John


   
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jarkko
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Well, it was brutal as Michael Carrick said after the match. Shots on Target 6 by Chelsea, and we had 2 shots on target. Add they scored six (6) goals!!!

In our home leg Chelsea didn't hit the barn door with their guns. So quite a difference. But as many have said, we did not defend properly and made some basic mistakes and some of the goals were easy for them after our mistakes.

I just wonder why Rotherham did not make similar mistakes against us. So we had hard time in our last two matches.

A lesson learned, I hope. Let's look forward to the next game. An "easier" game at home to Sunderland. We need to win that to keep our sight on the top six finish.

Up the Boro!


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As a scandi journo may have said "Brian clough, Bob mortimer, Chris rea your boys took one hell of a beating"

Men against boys

My biggest disappointments Hayden Hackney was he on the pitch? Also number of time we passed to them or t hey easily took the ball off us.

All the chances they missed in first leg they took tonight, the odds were over two legs they would do us, we were never going to be lucky twice. We looked like a mid table championship team which if we are being honest with ourselves we probably are. Definitely the 500 million pound team v the 5 million pound team.

We dared to believe and then we were put back in our box.

It's the hope that kills you...........

This post was modified 4 months ago 2 times by PaulInBoro

Pedro de Espana
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@clive-hurren    Exactly Clive. Whilst the football under MC has been far better to watch than previously, it is not without its risks.

Unfortunately we have a number of players who, it can be said now after a season and half, that just do not have the skills, even in the Championship, to to carry the system at a higher consistent level.

As has been posted already in this thread, we overall also lack pace, especially in the defensive area of midfield and the back four. I am sure that the coaching staff know this, if we can see it. However, it has to be said, that although player recruitment has improved to where it started under Scott, this is still an area we fall short on.

It is probably unfair to say anything about how we played last night against Chelsea. But it is not unfair to question the overall strategy and system including player Recruitement , when it appears MC generally wants only to play with Plan A.

That is fine, but we need better players with certainly more pace to carry it out if we want to dream of promotion.

 

This post was modified 4 months ago by Pedro de Espana

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With Ref to the Sunderland game. I can't understand why they appointed Michael Beale. After all, he was sacked by Rangers and they don't sack managers very often. There was unrest by the fans after their game against Hull. So boro can do their fans a favour by thumping them at the Riverside and MB given the boot. Just saying. 😎 


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@pedro 

It's appeared in recent games that Boro can only safely play it out from the back as long as teams don't close them down or mark the midfielders tightly. Chelsea had two strategies - press the defenders into making a rushed pass and then hunt down the midfielder who receives possession and then quickly dispossess him to leave them running in on goal.

OK, we won't always face players of Chelsea calibre but surely the whole point of playing it out from the back is to break through the lines and set up an attack - how many times do we see Boro break through the first line only to then pass it back to the central defenders and try to break out again. Or even see them easily lose possession just over the halfway line.

Playing out from the back requires the team to have outlets further up the pitch - who can either hold the ball until support arrives or have pace to get behind the opposition defence. Boro had a lot of possession against Rotherham at the weekend but couldn't do much with the ball as there was no genuine striker and no players who could take on opponents.

That game wasn't great training for Chelsea as Rotherham offered little threat going forward and the Boro players didn't need to do much to keep possession. Rogers has evolved into a player who can offer a creative spark and a goal-scoring threat - sadly, he'll be likely gone before our next game and the other player who can do that role, McGree, won't be back for a few weeks yet. 

So can we spend any cash from Rogers? Well we need a striker as Lathe Lath and Coburn are proving injury prone and we also need some pace as we lost Jones and had no alternative for a tactical change. I suspect without promotion Hackney will leave in the summer and the noises from McGree after coming back from injury about wanting to make the most of his career sound like he will also be looking to progress to the next level.

Steve Gibson will be more than aware that Carrick has been noticed too and then must decide to invest in a few players in the next 7 days or face the prospect of a major rebuild again in the summer. The Chelsea game may have help highlight the short-comings as did the 5 points dropped against Rotherham. The playoffs can be reached by any half-decent side this season - are Boro equipped to be one of them or are we hoping the players who are fit to play the next 8 games in 25 days can win at least 5 or 6 of them?


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Henry Winter's report on the match in today's Times:

https://archive.ph/YnvZA


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Werder asks the key question in his post above.  I think last night demonstrated that there is a massive gap between the better teams in the Premiership and a mid-table Championship team like the Boro.  With a fully fit squad MC can most likely put out a team capable of making a playoff spot but probably not good enough to win promotion. If the club is serious about getting promoted and then staying in the Premiership there is a hell of a lot of work to do to assemble a squad that can deliver that dream.  I only hope that last night is taken by the club management as a huge reality check and the Chairman is prepared to stump up the cash.


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I'm not sure it's the case that the players don't have the skills to play out from the back. It may turn out to be true for some in the long term, but I feel that for most of the players we're asking this of, we're still very much in the short term. Glover, van den Berg, Engel, Bangura we're all only signed in the summer, and Clarke in his uninjured incarnation is effectively a recent arrival. Not forgetting, Ayling, who's already got the pedigree. And we've also got a backup keeper who can play out from the back, called Seny Dieng.

We've only got to think of the speedy transformation of Rogers, from a player who many on here and elsewhere were very dubious about, to an apparently £10M prized asset, to accept that our coaching team are maybe more capable than some give them credit for.
 
What's more lacking, I'm my view, is consistency. Barlaser is probably the most obvious example of this. We've seen him play absolute blinders, intermingled with the odd shocker. The same applies, to some degree or other, across a lot of the squad. Most are capable of playing the odd blinder, therefore they must have the skills. What coaching, experience and time can do is develop that level of consistency that the top players have.
 
So, to return to playing out from the back. That is clearly the preferred way to play and, as we have seen, largely the most effective and aesthetically pleasing strategy. However, last night we saw four examples of failure to spot that the short ball just wasn't on. Four old fashioned hoofs up the field might have kept the aggregate score to 2-2 with maybe a fun lottery to follow. Except that the hoof upfield would almost certainly have led to Chelsea possession and four more attacks. Even better would have been a beautifully timed run by one of our more forward players, spotted and played to perfection by our hard-pressed defender. 3-2 and a stunning Wembley victory over Liverpool awaiting. Concentrating on the league no longer an option.
 
I reckon the ability to create and spot that right option mainly comes from coaching as a team.  They've all shown that they have the ability. Sometimes.
 
I think we're getting there. Just maybe not this season.

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@boroexile 

The nature of being a Championship club is trying to deal with a system that sets most clubs up to fail in trying to build a team over any period of time other than the current season - any player who shines will grab the attention of many PL clubs who can generally snatch most of them for £8-10m.

Add to that the sheer number of games means having a free week to do major work on the training pitch is rare. Boro have 12 days off now thanks to being out of the FA Cup  - after that it's 8 games in 25 days so not much chance to assimilate any new signings outside real actual games.

Not that Steve Gibson has much wriggle-room on investing in players unless it's financed by selling other players - obviously the better ones but the replacements will be cheaper and likely less effective and take time to get to the level. The only real chance is through academy players who you may make the grade but if they shine they also go to the next level.

Boro finances are tight despite sales of Tavernier, Spence, Akpom and now we assume Rogers - what's that a £40m injection that is paying for what we've already got at the club unless the loss is low enough to allow any cash from Rogers to bring in some players.

- Profitability & Sustainability rules allow only an average £13m loss (i.e. cash investment from the owner) each season over 3 years (i.e. £39m)

- The loss for 2023 was reported as £4.46m and 2022 was £15.32 (see MFC Accounts 2023)- which in theory should mean the club could 'afford' to lose around £19m in 2024 and stay within the rules. Whether it would be a good idea to do that is another story as it would mean belt-tightening in the following years if promotion wasn't achieved.

- Solidarity payments from the PL for each club is £4.5m - plus each club receives on average £2.5m from the TV deal - Boro actually received £9.5m last season so better than the £7m average

- I suspect the wages are the real problem in balancing the books as Boro's turnover in 2023 was £28.6m with the wage bill (including 151 non-playing staff) being £29.6m

So in theory Steve Gibson could inject nearly £20m this season - I don't know how much of that figure he has already but it would have implications going forward. Boro are probably up against other clubs who will push to the limits but as we've seen in the past spending money doesn't necessarily mean you are getting what you pay for. It looks like money from player sales is still the main offset on spending on new players - the last three big player sales add up to more than the club's turnover.


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@peter-surtees 

I'd agree that some are better than others but I'd reiterate that the risk of playing out from the back needs players ahead who offer an outlet - it's not an exact science and doesn't always suit certain opposition or indeed certain of your own players. Fry and Clarke don't strike me as players I'd think were too comfortable in that role - especially if rushed - Hackney always looks relaxed receiving the ball in the pivot role but if he's off his game then it can quickly collapse and Barlaser's passing never lacks ambition but it's often a fine line between ambitious and reckless - though it's a system that requires bravery.

I think the main problem is the midfield and defence lacks the pace to recover from any mistakes and they often prove costly against better players - perhaps not so with average opposition Championship players. Though I'd also agree it's much more aesthetically pleasing to watch that kind of football than lump it up to the big guy - though being able to do both keeps the opposition on their toes and maybe makes them a little apprehensive from pressing too high and subsequently gives you more room to play out. Avoiding being too predictable is the key for me.

This post was modified 4 months ago by werdermouth

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@werdermouth

Sounds like we need a plan B and C and players that are sharp enough to identify the situation where we need to apply Plans B and C not just resolutely work to a formula. The hard to find elements items are the players with intelligence and skill. There I've said it. Add in unpredictability and I suppose you've got a great player, who is inevitably going to be in the Premiership. All-in-all a bit of a conundrum for any manager or even chairman. When they get to the Premiership these players will be playing with similar players and they just get even better. Breaking into that wheel of fortune is hellish difficult for teams like Boro. As we long suffering and hoping supporters know, a good player is bought by another club  and what is the chance of finding us another gem to replace him?

Meanwhile.,

UTB,

John


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@werdermouth 

I think you're right about the lack of pace at the rear of midfield. I wonder if Bangura could be moulded into a defensive midfielder. He's got a heck of a turn of speed, has defensive and attacking qualities and is slightly wasted as a duplicate Engel.


Martin Bellamy
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I suspect none of us, in our heart of hearts, was too surprised by last night’s result. The home game could easily have been a very different result (or similar to last night’s, depending on how you look at it) had their strikers not missed some very easy chances. 
We’re nowhere near being a PL quality team, but then, very few Championship teams are at that level either. Were we to find our way through the play offs, we’d struggle to build a competitive team in time for the start of the PL, and I for one wouldn’t relish another one-off season in the top tier, being beaten every week and celebrating the odd draw.
How we change things is beyond me, other than a ridiculously wealthy owner coming in to buy out SG - I certainly couldn’t continue to support the Boro if our success depended on selling our team and our souls to a barcodes type scenario.
A successful, positive season from now on would suit me - if we make the play-offs, then so be it. If we got promoted I suspect our manager might be poached fairly soon afterwards (if not before) - where do we go then?

 


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@martin-bellamy 

I don't think it makes much difference in the Championship having a ridiculously wealthy owner given they can only invest on average £13m each season and stay within the rules - maybe some big 'sponsorship' deals would help to increase turnover but Steve Gibson is more or less backing the club with as much is allowed.

Though even in the PL, Newcastle have already run into the spending limits and are looking to sell players to buy new ones so unless you have the wealth to start with and have, big stadiums, big global merchandising deals and Champions League money, then it's hard to out-finance rivals. Boro will never be a club on that scale so it's looking at the Brighton, Brentford and Forest as who we have to emulate. But yes not winning many games and getting thrashed occasionally is not a great way to enjoy your football.


 gt
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I think Carrick has to take some of the blame for last night both in tactics and selection. Hopefully it's a learning curve for him as well.

After the first ten minutes . When Chelsea settled on the ball he dropped Johnny into the back five leaving Burlaser wide open marking space Hackney was played out of position causing him to go looking for the ball leaving Engel vunerable although he was poor. Chelsea forced the ball over to Clarkes side . Who let's be honest I don't think he's comfortable on the ball when he's pressed. Fry the same. . Forss was totally lost and ran around confused as to what to do

I couldn't understand at halftime he didn't make more changes .seeing the game was over. Ok Dyksteel. Then moving Hackney in the middle . O'Brien for Burlaser who was poor on the night . I think he is more mobile too. Crooks wasn't really  in the game to effect and then Gibson to a 10 and Coburn on . 

On the plus side . These games give you a better view of what you really have.,and when the missing players come back we can have a go . Although might be too late.


jarkko
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I think we were very successful in getting to the semis and beating Chelsea once. Well done Boro!

I just hope we get McGree back, Jones fit as well as Latte Lath.  An another striker in the mould (success wise) Archer would be nice.

With Michael Carrick as a head coach and his other coaches, we are in a good place. We need some consistency - that will come with time. But we need to get some of the injured players back. And McGree, too. And be able to play with a constant team and able to freshen thing up when needed.

We have been extremely successful this season bearing in mind how big changes we made in personel in the summer. And especially so with our injuries and McGree missing. Think, we have had 12 ... 14 first team players missing for the past two to three months. Not ideal for the head coach!

So I am very, very happy with the situation where we are at the moment. How many years we have been to the Semi-Finals of a Cup competion in our history?

And we are just three points off a place in the top six. And there are 18 matches still to play.

It is a wondeful time to support Boro. We play wondeful football at best with this young team. And we have had two wonderful additions to the squad already in Azaz and Ayling in January. A wonderful end of the season to look forward to. 

Loving it - even I felt sick last night. Up the Boro, the Boro will get up this season!

This post was modified 4 months ago by jarkko

   
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jarkko
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@gt A good post there by you. Also MC made some mistakes with the back five with Howson playing in defence while Chelsea had the ball. A young head coach. And of course he had not many options to choose from with several players being Cup tied in addition to the injured and the two Aussies in duty for their county. But well said, GT. Up the Boro!


   
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@john-richardson 

I succumbed to the sofa at 3 !

zzzz

OFB


   
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Pedro de Espana
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@werder.  Please, I am not being picky, but I have just looked at the fixture list.

As you said we play Sunderland on the 4th of February, then another 4 games in that month. 

March we play 4 games, Blackburn on the 16th. (9 games in 41 days) 

before a 13 day break (Internationals??) for us when we then play Southampton away on Friday 29. 

So unless we play Birmingham during that period, there are only TWO midweek games. 

This post was modified 4 months ago by Pedro de Espana

   
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@pedro 

Hmm not sure how I got to typing 25 days - probably adding up in my head while typing and my fingers have took it upon themselves to type the 25 days in February before adding the 9 days in March - so 8 games in 34 days.

Though as you say the Birmingham game hasn't been rescheduled yet and that will likely be slotted in sometime before the international break possibly in February - so best I can manage now is 8 games 31 days instead of 25 😉 


   
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This sound familiar to anyone - Iwan Roberts, ex-Wales striker, in the Beeb's live text commentary on the Bournemouth vs Swansea 4th round FA Cup match when the Swans were 0-5:

I get that Swansea want to play out from back and establish possession, but you've still got to be able to defend.  


   
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