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FA Cup R3: Boro v V...
 

FA Cup R3: Boro v Villa

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It may be the start of a new year but our attention now focuses on the oldest football competition in the world - The Football Association Challenge Cup or if you prefer the FA Cup. First contested back in the distant sepia days of 1871-72, it's now in search of its 143rd winner to be displayed close up and personal on state-of-the-art billion-colour-ultra-HD televisions up and down the country and beyond.

Talking of TVs, Boro open their FA Cup campaign with one of the games chosen for live broadcast as they host surprise Premier League title contenders Aston Villa at the Riverside. Villa have won the FA Cup on seven occasions - though you'd have to be over 70 to remember their last triumph in 1957 and have a mantelpiece stacked with congratulatory messages from the Queen to remember the one before that and possibly be allergic to sunlight and avoiding mirrors for the others - especially for the three in the 1800s.

As a child, Aston Villa always came across as quite a posh-sounding club, reminiscent of high-end high-performance cars and rather grand houses. Indeed, they now even have the heir to the throne as one of their high-profile supporters (though surprised he isn't a Palace fan) - plus let's not forget lapsed Hammer and former prime minister Baron Chippy of Norton, who is also a fifth cousin twice-removed of the late Queen (it's a big family) thanks to being descended from one of the ten illegitimate children of King William IV (it's an even bigger family).

While we're delving into history books, I should mention as founding members of the football league, Villa were formed in 1874 by four cricketers attending the Aston Villa Wesleyan Chapel who were looking for something to do in the winter break. The name 'Aston' was first mentioned in the Doomsday Book as 'Estone', which derives from the old English meaning of East Town as Aston is east of central Birmingham. Incidentally, our own Eston of hills fame was mentioned in the Doomsday Book as 'Aston' - so another oversight for the Teesside proof readers. The Villa part of the name comes from the fact that there actually was a famous large Georgian house that stood at the junction of Lozells Road and Heathfield Road, which became known as Aston Villa.

In recent years Villa had fallen on hard times and it was only five years ago that Steve Bruce's team ground out victory over Tony Pulis's Boro by a single goal in the play-offs - though they eventually lost the final 1-0 to Fulham. However, after Dean Smith replaced Bruce the following October, he led them to play-off victory this time against the notorious overspending Rams - who had edged out Boro into 7th spot and thus foolishly annoyed Steve Gibson.

Since then, the seven-times English Champions (it's that 7 again) had settled in the lower mid-table of the PL but the fortunes of the East-Birmingham club have been completely transformed by the appointment of the former-Arsenal manager Unai Emery in November 2022. Under his guidance, he coached his team into securing 85 points from 42 games in 2023 - a total only bettered by quintuple-winners Man City with 93 points.

It may be worth noting that Villa amassed only 41 points from 36 games in the Qatar-curtailed 2022 before Stevie G was dismissed to allow him the opportunity to pursue a managerial career in Saudi instead.

The arrival of Unai Emery has shown the value of acquiring an intelligent coach who certainly appears to know what he's doing. Indeed, having identified their man, Villa reportedly ended up paying €6m to buy out his contract at Villarreal after persuading him that they were in fact the real Villa in what were perhaps Pythonesque negotiations - something of a surprise appointment maybe but with the likes of Pep, Arteta, Pochettino and Lopetegui doing well in the PL it's unlikely that nobody expects the Spanish acquisition anymore.

Like Aitor Karanka, Emery is a native of the Basque region of Spain and comes from a footballing family - with both his grandfather and father playing as goalkeepers plus his uncle was a midfielder. Therefore, it was only natural that the Villa manager would follow in their footsteps but the 5' 11" Unai joined the Real Sociedad academy as a left-sided midfielder - though he never played more than a handful of games in La Liga and spent nearly all his career in the Segunda División until he was forced to retired in 2004 after a serious knee injury. Rather nostalgically, the Emery family now own the Spanish third-tier Basque club, Real Unión, where his grandfather had once kept goal.

However, Emery has excelled from the off as a head coach and has an impressive record - he was given the vacant head coach role at Lorca, where he had suffered that knee injury. His debut season saw them promoted to the second division for the first time in their history before narrowly failing to gain promotion again in his second season. His next job saw him at Almería, where he got them promoted to La Liga for the first time ever and then finished an impressive 8th in his second season.

This attracted the attention of bigger clubs and Emery was named the replacement to Ronald Koeman at Valencia in 2008 where he soon established them as Champions League qualifiers as his team finished third in three successive seasons behind the Spanish giants of Real Madrid and Barcelona. That success saw him recruited by Spartak Moscow but it didn't click for him and a rare failure saw him dismissed after six months. So he headed back to Spain and Sevilla where he won an impressive three successive Europa League trophies. This saw PSG come calling with a two-year deal and more trophies followed including two French titles before Emery was appointed the replacement to Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

It was a hard act to follow and Emery left the Gunners after just 18 months and headed back to Spain once more to join Villarreal, where he once again won the Europa League and thankfully for everyone on Teesside he turned down the Newcastle job following the Saudi takeover before eventually opting to head to Birmingham instead. So no surprise that Villa are doing well under his coaching as it's been mostly a career of helping clubs to over-achieve on expectations - unless of course expectations were too high as with Spartak and Arsenal.

So back onto that televised FA Cup tie on Saturday and time to find a few straws to grasp at that a severely-depleted Boro side can overcome one of the best-performing sides in the country. Perhaps I can throw in another Villa 7 (seven) stat - the seven-times winners and English champions have exited the FA Cup in the third round in the previous seven seasons (other vitamin supplements are available). OK, I won't mention that Boro lost 5-1 at home to Brighton in last season's third round as that was probably just a blip.

Michael Carrick has a dilemma in that he can't just put out a further weakened team and quietly slip out of the competition as he focuses on the League Cup semi-final and play-off push. It's live on national TV and for the sake of the supporters his team need to try and at least appear to be plucky underdogs.

News that Crooks, Latte Lath and Hayden Hackney are expected to train this week gives some respite. The best tactic for Carrick may be to find ways to exploit Villa's high defensive line - though that will need pace and with all the best will in the world Crooks, Greenwood and Howson are not going to outrun their defence. Maybe Jones, Rogers, Bangura and Latte Lath have a chance at getting in behind them so he may select players with that in mind.

Either way, it's going to be a very tough test to stay with Villa on Saturday as Emery has them playing at the top of their game - they are are team that exploit weaknesses and find the space around the box so Boro better avoid leaving holes and making over-ambitious passes out of defence.

Still, it's the Cup and anything can happen over 90 minutes and Boro's luck may well be in on Saturday. It would certainly be an upset if Villa leave Teesside with another third-round exit and Michael Carrick may need to think outside the box to see his team end up in the hat for the fourth round.

I can conceivably give you hope by leaving you with one more piece of history and the story of Aston Villa's first ever game. It was against Aston Brook St Mary's Rugby team, where the match only went ahead if Villa agreed to play the first half under Rugby rules and the second half under Association rules. Now it's a bit of a long shot, but if I was Michael Carrick I'd be tempted to pick the big lads and spring that condition on Unai Emery as they indulge in niceties of their pre-match handshake - indeed, I may have even noticed a few of our players practicing their conversions in recent games!

So is everyone ready for a cup upset?

 

Boro v Aston Villa is live on BBC1 on Saturday 6 January at 17:25 (KO 17:30)


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Brilliant Werder. Thank You.


   
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jarkko
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Posted by: @werdermouth

It may be the start of a new year but our attention now focuses on the oldest football competition in the world - The Football Association Challenge Cup or if you prefer the FA Cup. First contested back in the distant sepia days of 1871-72, it's now in search of its 143rd winner ...

So is everyone ready for a cup upset?

Thank you, for the head line. Excellent as ever.

As Boro usually have finished well in the league and there have been up to 142 years of the FS Cup, it is really suprising we have never won the competition. It took us over 100 years to reach the final but in vain. We have been 3rd on the top tier a couple of times, but never won the FA Cup.

Ant it will skip us again in 2024. We will concentrate on the EFL Cup instead. But I hope we play well and lose not more by a goal or draw creditably. But more than anything, I hope we will get some players back already for Villa match. And then play better versus Chelsea.

Up the Boro!

 

This post was modified 4 months ago by jarkko

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Many thanks Werder and happy new year to you and all the Diasborians.

Your post was very informative and I liked your concept of using our players with pace to get behind the villa defence.

I do have tickets for the game and I’m recording the game to watch afterwards when we get home. I may have to delete the recording before watching it of course depending how the result goes!

A reverse forecast for me 3Boro !

OFB


   
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Pedro de Espana
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Werder, what an excellent piece, so good that words fail me. 🤣 🤣 

As many have posted previously, the contributors to the Headline Pieces, could make a living writing for a blog or newspaper. The different aspects used at each Headliner post is like a breath of fresh air.

Let us hope that the god you may believe in, smiles down on MFC and says you have suffered enough now. And draws a line under the injury toll. Also a (new) good right back would be nice.

 


   
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Martin Bellamy
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That’s been one of my favourite starters, @werdermouth - the standards continue to be first class and your’s will be a tough act to follow. 
We’ve got family staying over the weekend, with a Saturday afternoon trip to Neverland at Castle Howard to look forward to - will I return to see Boro Pan(ned) by Villa or will the Tinkerbell chime for an unexpected Boro win, following the return of some Lost Boys to the team? Hang on, I think I can hear a noise: Tick, tock, tick, tock…


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Welcome back to the leader slot, Werder. Opening it up to a range of contributors has been a great success, but you have also been missed, and you have returned in great style. I especially liked the Spanish acquisition line. Many thanks.


   
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The Editor in Chief is back with another excellently researched and informative starter, thank you.

After having read your super article I could almost believe we might be in with the chance of an upset and then reality set in.

I will settle for some of the injured returning and getting some game time and the team putting on a positive display in front of the nation, although likely to be on the wrong end of the result; I just hope it is not as painful as last season. 😎

 


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Another fantastic opener for a game I suspect that most of us are dreading.

Pretty much I suspect we're all going to be hearing the sound of ultimate suffering. https://youtu.be/VEAGAAQJ7DM?si=dHZVsmJ7mDdGZggq

Though, perhaps the sound of ultimate suffering would be if we heard Carrick was sacked and replaced by Steve Bruce. 

Obviously, it is football and almost anything can happen in a game. 

Anyway, I guess I'll be watching from behind the sofa with my hands over my eyes.


   
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Quick thank you for the comments guys and it was quite tight squeezing in an opener as I'd forgot Mrs Werder had taken the week off and has organised quite a full itinerary - thankfully I had New Year's day off to fill my head full of facts and ideas before letting the stream of consciousness take care of matters yesterday morning - btw thanks for the clip Deleriad it almost reminds of the noise I made when Mrs Werder told me we were going to go January sales shopping today 😉  


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@werdermouth - Absolute cracker of an opener, Werder.  I loved the jokes and quips . I suspect you've done this before.

I have a sense of foreboding about the Villa game but I will be there. Whether I get a ticket for the Chelsea game is another thing. No doubt with so many games stuffed in to such a short time, several of which are at home, in these difficult financial times it may be that not everyone will feel able to buy tickets for every game. Especially if some of them are on live TV.


   
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I know this is negative but I think the result will be similar to Brighton last year or worse given the patched up nature of the squad, but thems the breaks I suppose

This post was modified 4 months ago by PaulInBoro

   
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Noise on the interweb that we have signed Finn Aziz from Villa


   
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@paulinboro 

it’s Finn Azaz (Irish Israeli) and apparently we’ve signed him for £2.5m and he can play on Saturday after being recalled from Plymouth where he scored 7 and made 5 assists this season.


   
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Werdermouth, just plain excellent and a treat to read, witty and informative, I loved the 'Spanish Acquisition'. I Boro play as well as that article is written we can't lose. Right that's the ned of my optimism, it's definitely a blanket tent and the back of the couch for, along with a few others I suspect. I know I always say don't concede but I can't see Boro not conceding. The new man in on Saturday, all being well, and scoring against his former club?

Sorry grabbing at straws there but it is the kind of game where a different Boro show up and amaze us, well perhaps not, but you know what I mean. Typical Boro and all that. here's hoping our goalie doesn't go rambling in the Eston Hills.

UTB,

John

PS That was a really good opener and we've had some crackers!


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https://www.footballinsider247.com/exclusive-middlesbrough-agree-2m-deal-to-sign-aston-villa-star-azaz-in-southampton-blow/

Apparently having his medical at Boro now.

Come on BORO.


   
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 gt
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I'm indifferent.about what's coming up. This month with all the big games in front of us. Could be absolutely draining of fitness . or worse confidence.even injuries might come back, 

Hopefully the players will rise above the parapet. show their character . and surprise everyone, what they can be capable of

I'm not bothered about the results. Iike I said I'm more interested in the big picture going forward. COB


   
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 gt
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With all of these games coming up, and a depleted squad to pick from, you might not be able to pick players every game , could we tweek it a bit,

Why not try Coulson on the right wing in Jones spot, and have him , he's quick , raid down the right, he's left footed ,and cut in left, cross or pass across,

Crazy , is it? 


   
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According to this report Villa are going to field a very strong side against Boro.

https://www.astonvillanews.co.uk/2024/01/04/unai-emery-to-axe-diego-carlos-and-clement-lenglet-nicolo-zaniolo-decision-made-aston-villa-predicted-xi-v-middlesbrough/

I don’t really care too much about Saturday’s game, rather have a strong side on Tuesday, even though I have tickets for both matches.

Come on BORO.


   
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Clive Hurren
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@exmil 

I’m with you on that one. I want Boro to win every game, of course, and I know good cup wins build confidence, but this Villa game really doesn’t matter. It would be good to give a good account of ourselves, but in my view the Chelsea games are much more important. I really, really want another trip to Wembley. 

We’re expected to lose on Saturday, and I think we will lose, hopefully not heavily. What we absolutely don’t want, whatever else happens, are 1) more injuries and 2) a replay!! 

Finally, I’d like to add my thanks and congratulations to werder for an absolutely brilliant opener. 


   
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Just noticed that Crystal Palace v Everton 3rd round tie is live on ITV4 tonight at 8pm if anyone is looking to get into the FA Cup mood - unfortunately, I'll miss it as we're off to the circus tonight so will discover if German clowns are less scary than Sean Dyche and funnier than Roy Hodgson...


   
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Apparently Keith Lamb has passed away 🤔.

Come on BORO.


   
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Yes sad to hear of Keith Lamb's passing, he was an instrumental figure of the Riverside revolution who was responsible for bringing many of the big names to Middlesbrough when he was Chief Exec. He was often fondly referred to as 'The Count' on these boards due to his otherworldly demeanor but nevertheless a serious football operator who ended up being a board member at the FA.


   
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Powmill-Naemore
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Just a very quick hello and Happy New Year to everyone and a big thank you to Werder for a beautifully composed opening piece for this thread.

Keith Lamb was a big part of Steve Gibson's resurrection of Middlesbrough to becoming Premiership regulars and also serious contenders in Europe. For all we all referred to him as the Count and for all we may at times have maligned his influence at the club, I think we owe him much for the memories he helped to create for so may of us. May he rest in peace and I hope he is given a rousing send-off by the Riverside faithful on Saturday. (BTW. Ditto Len's comments to you Clive, you were in no way disrespectful and it was obvious to me that you clearly hadn't heard the news when you posted and I thought nothing of it.).

I'm afraid I have not had much time spare this week to contribute, but I have done my best to keep up to date with reading everyone's comments both in this (Aston Villa) thread and the January Transfers thread. Shame that Villa had some problems in helping the deal over the line in time for Aziz to play on Saturday. We could have done with him playing in that game to begin to get to know his new team mates in a game of minimal consequence for us at this stage. Now he will not get to play for real with us until we re-engage in the league. C'est la guerre !

I have no idea what will happen on Saturday. It is the FA Cup and non league minnows can beat any team from the top flight on the day. So, regardless of whichever untried and untested mix of youth and inexperience MC is able to field, there is no reason they will not be able to raise their game to make life difficult for the Villains and why not win it?

 

No prediction from me. I will just settle down in front of the TV with my non-alcoholic beverage (dry January here 😥) and cheer the underdogs.... and who knows?

CoB 

This post was modified 4 months ago 2 times by Powmill-Naemore

   
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Whatever the outcome of tomorrow’s game, I think we would all agree that it needs to be decided within the 90+ mins - we don’t want any replays. 😎


   
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Clive Hurren
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This is MC interviewed (oh so briefly!) on Football Focus about the FA Cup. Nothing Boro-related, but his usual good sense and intelligence shine through. The more I hear from him, the more I appreciate him. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/football/67897999


   
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Thanks for a great intro Werder. Not expecting much from today. Rogers and Greenwood have to play as they can't play Tuesday. Of those returning from injury, do you start them and sub after 45 minutes or bring on in the second half? Only MC knows the answer. The referee this afternoon is Robert Jones normally a Premier League official who has a pretty good record with us.


   
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Selwynoz
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Not surprisingly, Aston Villa’s homing pigeon lost its way and Azaz will not be available for the cup game or for the Chelsea game as he is cup-tied. I must say that he looks like a superb capture and could fit in brilliantly with our forward-looking style. Roll on February when we could have Rogers, Azaz and McGree as a front three behind Coburn, Lath or ANOther. I was very impressed by his interview on the MFC.co.uk site.

In many ways, this game is an unnecessary burden. We’re not going to win the FA Cup, we have the League Cup semi-final on Tuesday and we need to get players back into the Championship. even our best team would risk ‘doing a Brighton’ and so Carrick has a very tricky job picking the side. I think that he will try to fit in as many players as possible who won’t start against Chelsea but that will still leave him with the dilemma of risking young players who could gain bettered. 

I will expect to see Hoppe given a game and we’ll see where else he tries to risk players. On the other side, the returning players - Lath, Crooks and Hackney - should get a 30 minute run out.

i would be happy with a 2-0 defeat and no injuries.

UTB


   
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 gt
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I'm a peeved listening to the talksport Sunderland v Newcastle hype.  apparently the two big dogs of the N East. and I've listened to this for six decades they dismiss us no derby  ok. I finally got it. 

So I ve thought of a chant our fans can sing .

"We are Teesside nation  . We are Teesside nation  .  We're not  Geordie  , we're not Yorkshire . We are Steel. River"

Anyone can add 

 


   
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Martin Bellamy
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@gt The Boro will always be Yorkshire to me, I’m afraid.


   
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