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Watford v Boro
 

Watford v Boro

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Watford v Boro | Championship | Saturday, 3pm

Well, well, well, what do we have here then? Say it softly but Boro are unbeaten in three…!

Ok, one game was against a woeful Sheffield Wednesday side who have since slumped to the foot of the table, one was against a massively underperforming Southampton showing signs of Monks’ Boro and one against mid-table League Two opposition, but if you’d offered Boro fans the chance to go unbeaten through that mini run, most would have snapped your hand off. And only expected two points to boot!

Green shoots? Too early to say but, since that rock bottom first half at Hillsborough, this is a quiet murmur that Boro’s confidence is on the up again.

Next up are another pre-season promotion hopeful in Valérien Ismaël’s Watford.

Since the Pozzo family took over the Hornets in 2012, Ismaël is the club’s 19th (NINETEENTH) permanent manager. The previous 9 managers, dating back to our own Nigel Pearson in 2020, lasted an average of just 19 games in charge with a win percentage of 27.89%. Ismaël goes into Saturday’s encounter with 9 games under his belt and a win percentage of 22.22%. Uh-oh, Valérien.

Whilst Boro have had a difficult start to the campaign, in truth Watford have also underperformed, winning only one league game since the opening day 4-0 thrashing of QPR. They even managed to get dumped out of the Carabao Cup by League One Stevenage on penalties, leaving them a record of P9 W2 D4 L3 G12 A11 for the season.

Languishing in 16th place in the Championship, four points ahead of Boro, could this be a fixture that has come just at the right time for Boro?

Maybe, but Watford’s main troubles have come away from Vicarage Road this season. At home, it’s a record of P6 W3 D2 L1 and they’ve conceded just 3 goals along the way, scoring 10. Boro’s away form is, of course, abysmal with 5 defeats from 6 and a GD of -8, so perhaps let’s not expect too much too soon.

Both sides might point to performances being slightly better than results thus far and the expected data backs that up to some degree. Boro and Watford are 8th and 9th respectively for xG from this season’s limited sample and 11th and 5th for xGA.

According to that particular data, Boro’s have underperformed at both ends of the pitch with the expected goals 0.67 goals/game ahead of the actual numbers and the expected goals against 0.53/game better than reality. So we ought to have scored 2 goals more for every 3 matches, and conceded 1 goal less for every two games. Watford are much closer to their actual data but should have scored a goal or two more overall.

Certainly Carrick believes Boro have been better than their results suggest, commenting in his Bradford post-match interview that "Sometimes it can be difficult if you change a number of players, but hopefully the consistency with the training and the boys day in, day out getting to know each other a bit more, and finding connections and wavelengths, will help. We felt we weren't getting what we deserved."

Whoscored.com confirm that Boro’s main weakness so far has been “finishing scoring chances” but does list our main strength as “protecting the lead”, which I suppose is true given that we have a 100% success rate for the one occasion where we’ve led a league game!

As for Watford, their weakness seems to be in defending against counter attacks, whilst they are noted for focussing their attacks down their left. This might be good news for Boro given that it has previously been our left that has been exposed.

Ismaël’s previous Championship stints at Barnsley and West Brom have shown him to be a manager who prefers a direct, physical style of play, centred around a powerful no. 9 spearheading a 4-3-3. He does appear to be operating in that system again with 6ft 4in Danish forward Mileta Rajović as his new Daryl Dike. Rajović has 3 goals to his name so far, to jointly lead their scoring charts along with 20yr old Brazilian left winger Matheus Martins, who is on loan from the Pozzo’s other club, Udinese.

As for Boro, you’d expect Michael Carrick to go with a very similar team to the one that defeated Southampton last time out, with Rav van den Berg the only concern after he picked up a second half injury. It’s unclear whether the young Dutchman – increasingly one of the early successes of the summer transfer dealings – will be fit to return but, if not, both Tommy Smith and Paddy McNair got 90mins under the belts in midweek.

So, are we seeing the Boro beginning to take flight, or will the Hornets sting down at Vicarage Road? Over to you, Diasborians.

Come on Boro.

This topic was modified 7 months ago 4 times by Andy R

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Great headliner Andy well researched and full of facts and meaningful data, just the type of post we expect from you, thanks it’s appreciated.

So will there be a sting in the tail from the hornets on Saturday? Or conversely will Boro spread their wings and fly up the championship to start a promotion chase.

Hopefully we will swat the hornets down and catch a few goals in their net, or will their be a sting in the tail?

Jarkko I’m going Boro3 and an empty nest for the hornets 🐝 

OFB


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@Andy-R - Thanks for that. I am not sure whether you have been practicing these posts but, if you have, it's working! It will be interesting to see whether Boro's (slight?) turning of the corner - well, it's not as if we've travelled to Portman Road or to the Kingpower Stadium and come back 3-0 winners - is enough to overcome Watford's decent if not notable home form. I suspect if we were to play Watford at the Riverside, my prediction would slide along the scale, a couple of goals further to the Boro side.  I think a 1-1 draw would be a very creditable result and might make people think there is a way out of the current situation.

@OFB - I will have a pint of what YOU are drinking please!  3-0 to Boro, indeed.... (Mind you, we can always dream and sometimes dreams come true).


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Thanks Andy for an excellent opener, one well up to your usual high standard.

I fancy us to get something from this game. I'll go for a scoring draw.


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Andy, thanks for the opener and as always with all of the openers a higher standard than any of the regular mainstream journalism and a different slant and perspective on the game. I'm with Len in the prediction stakes, a scoring draw, I just hope I haven't drawn a hex on the result.

OFB the foam fumes haven't reached Norfolk yet so forgive my lack of optimism!

Best wishes to everyone.

UTB,

John


 gt
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Watford are one of those teams that you never know if they show up, they can hammer you 5-0  draww 4- 4 or lose badly, if we get a win I will. really believe we've turned the corner, it does look though like a balance in team play is emerging,  I said I thought Carrick was in the process of assessing what he had ,in games not training


Philip of Huddersfield
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After the last 3 games I think we can now look forward to the Watford game and expect a better performance  than in recent games. I would not be surprised if a draw was the result. This is an uplift from previous games where I expected defeat.

The above comment shows I’m not getting carried away as I can’t get away from Boro’s current away form.

So, here’s hoping for a continuation of better performances, another game unbeaten and picking up point(s) to start climbing the table.

Philip of Huddersfield 👍🤗


Philip of Huddersfield
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Newcastle at home in the cup would be good!!
Philip of Huddersfield 


   
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Great opener Andy- good facts and figures of Interest. I think the game has come at a good time for us (well it couldn’t be any worse anyway!) and providing MC picks the right team, injuries permitting, then I can see 3 points coming our way. 

Only been to see Boro at Watford twice back in 1970 and 1971 with a 3 2 victory (Hickton 2 and McMordie) on Good Friday and a 1 0 defeat for some reason played on a Friday night.

 

 


   
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@philip-of-huddersfield 

 

well you couldn’t have been further away from that! Exeter is rather a long trip for a midweek trip although out of all the possibilities it gives us the best chance of progressing 


   
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Posted by: @boro-beckys-dad

@philip-of-huddersfield 

 

well you couldn’t have been further away from that! Exeter is rather a long trip for a midweek trip although out of all the possibilities it gives us the best chance of progressing 

With a capacity of 8,219, I wonder what allocation Boro will get 🤔.

Come on BORO.

 


   
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Pedro de Espana
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@exmil     

Apparently under EFL rules - which cover the Carabao Cup as well as the leagues - away team can claim up to 10 per cent of the home ground capacity as an allocation for away fans.
I would assume safety on numbers may apply in certain stadium.
It is nice to have this cup run and progression, but unfortunately we are not making very much money from it at the moment from the crowds perspective. 

Is there any monies given for the winners of each tie.
 
 

   
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Pedro de Espana
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45% of each game gate receipts.

R1 5K,  R2 7K,  R3 10K,  R4 15K, 

You need Man Utd away, to make some money from it.


   
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A very informative and enjoyable opener as always Andy, thank you.

Hopefully our improving performances will continue and we really need a draw, as a minimum, from this one to convince us that this is not going to be another one of those seasons.

Watford is one of those grounds where we have had limited success in the past and I would be more than happy to take a point, without conceding would be nice.

I just hope that “typical Boro” does not rear its head! 😎


   
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@philip-of-huddersfield - Well, you "sort-of" got it right.  Boro will be playing at St James' Park.  Just not the one in Newcastle!


   
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Many thanks Andy for another well-written informative preview and I agree that this could be a good time to play another under-performing team now that Boro are back to winning ways.

Quite unbelievable the number of managers that Watford have gone through and as you say Valérien Ismaël is approaching recent life expectancy in the role as he celebrates making it to double figures this weekend - especially if you consider Rob Edwards (2022) and Chris Wilder (2023) both made it to 11, Quique Sánchez Flores (2019) edged the envelope to 12, Claudio Ranieri (2021) lasted an impressive 14, Roy Hodgson (2022) reached nose-bleed territory with 18 with Big Nigel Pearson (2020) and Vladimir Ivić (2020) beating the odds with 22 before Slaven Bilić (2022) smashed it with 25.

I'm actually surprised the average tenure is 19 games after seeing that list but maybe it's the job everyone wants as you'll probably get at least a year's salary for about three-months work - where can I apply!

So I figure Ismaël won't be regrouping during the international break if Boro win on Saturday and will instead become the lastest Pozzo statistic. Indeed, I'm sure Boro have got quite reasonable chance of picking up three points at Watford if they can repeat the levels they displayed against Southampton - who knows they may even score first to test those holding on to a winning lead stats you mentioned 😉 
 


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Posted by: @pedro

@exmil     

Apparently under EFL rules - which cover the Carabao Cup as well as the leagues - away team can claim up to 10 per cent of the home ground capacity as an allocation for away fans.
I would assume safety on numbers may apply in certain stadium.
It is nice to have this cup run and progression, but unfortunately we are not making very much money from it at the moment from the crowds perspective. 

 

Is there any monies given for the winners of each tie.
 
Well that guarantees us 821 tickets 😂😂😂.
 
Come on BORO.

 


   
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Pedro, for your information reference prize money per round:

First round winners

£5,000

Second round winners

£7,000

Third round winners

£10,000

Fourth round winners

£15,000

Quarter-finalists

£25,000

Semi-finalists

£25,000

Runner-up

£50,000

Winners

£100,000

Come on BORO.


   
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@exmil 

Well that £10 grand prize money probably won't even cover the trip to Exeter 🤣 

What a joke - why are they even bothering to give prize money!


   
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@exmil.  With such paltry prize money you can well understand why the early rounds are on a regional basis.

The smaller clubs would probably not enter if, for example, Exeter could draw another smaller club such as Barrow in the first round, as they would not cover their travel costs. 😎


   
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 gt
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What happened to safe standing? 


   
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Pedro de Espana
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Many thanks Andy for another excellent Headliner. I sometimes wonder just how long it takes you (and others) to put something as good, together?

As for the game itself, well I assume baring any more injuries, it will be probably the Southampton starters, who will do so again on Saturday

As for a predication, well which Boro will turn up. Watford have done well at home and on their day some very good players. So we need to turn up from the whistle to have a chance of a result. I would be happy with a draw, even a goalless one.


   
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@gt. Doesn’t safe standing only apply at fully seated stadiums?  I don’t know Exeter’s ground but would be surprised if it is all seater. Website photos show at least one end behind the goal is standing.

There will also be the question of a safety certificate and the maximum ground capacity that has been allocated under such certification. 😎

This post was modified 7 months ago 2 times by K P in Spain

   
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A bit of a reality check.  As much as we all want Boro to do well and we have seen an improvement over the last few games, Sheffield Wed 0-3 Sunderland at half time. 😎


   
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@k-p-in-spain Exactly.

Sunderland, knocked out in the play-off semi-finals. Lost their totemic goal scorer, all their key loan players. Recruited cheap players from abroad and a bunch of youngsters: 11 new players to embed.

The difference is that Mowbray is a manager who is experienced in overseeing this kind of transition while Carrick is still learning. Hopefully he is learning quickly and will, one day, be as good a manager as Mowbray. 


   
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Pedro de Espana
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@deleriad    Interestingly, form the screenshot list, only Bellingham and Burstow started the game tonight. Three more came on as subs, from the five used.

So I assume nine of tonight’s starters were from last season?

I have to admit, to not knowing much about Sunderland’s players. However I do know that they have a large number of young players in their squad. 

I also remember, early in the transfer window, Mowbray, saying, he did not know who these new (many young) players were, as most were foreign with no Championship experience.

However, it is what it is. They may not be his exact words, but very similar.

 

This post was modified 7 months ago by Pedro de Espana

   
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Pedro de Espana
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Nice to see the under 21’s win again last night. 4-1.

Clarke played 90 minutes, Dijksteel 45.


   
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@pedro

Posted by: @pedro

So I assume nine of tonight’s starters were from last season?

Seems a reasonable assumption. 

To an extent, Carrick got unlucky. As well as losing the loanees, two of his most senior pros, Howson and Smith, got injured in pre-season and he missed out on a chance to look at Coburn in pre-season. That said, his decision making and the way he integrated new players still looked erratic. He may think Forss is better on the right than in the middle but insisting on playing Rogers, a winger, as centre forward while his best centre-forward is on the wing was strange.

That said, I looked at our starting 11 against Millwall and, it did largely use last season's players.

S Dieng

McNair - Fry - Lenihan - Coulson 

Barlaser - Hackney

Forss - Crooks  - McGree

Rogers

My feeling in the first few games was that he was also trying to copy Brighton's tactics as well as integrating new players. A more experienced manager like Mowbray would likely have picked a similar 11 but would have kept the tactics and shape simple while players got used to each other. It was a classic case of us trying to run before we could walk. 

 


   
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Pedro de Espana
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@deleriad  I guess you could say that is a reasonably experience side, which should do OK.

Obvious weaknesses as we now know are Coulson and Rogers (IMO)

I aso gues if we did a spread sheet of changes going forward and injuries, it might tell a different story somewhat


   
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MC explains (sort of) why Riley McGree was missing for a few matches prior to the last two - or rather Craig Johns's interpretation of his comments:

https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/riley-mcgree-rhythm-middlesbrough-carrick-27814425


   
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