Blackpool v Boro
Ahhhh, that cool and crisp feeling, that fresh scent. Yes ladies, gentlemen and non-binaries, Boro have kept a clean sheet!
Boro have lain in a filthy bed of our own making for too long - this was the first shutout since a 2-0 over Cardiff on 27th April! - and a very much binary win against Tony Mowbray’s Sunderland was an unfamiliar but most welcome Comfort.
There may have been no “Daz” Lenihan at the back but Boro’s own-brand deter-gent, Dael Fry, returned with a Bold display of Ariel prowess as Boro muddied Sunderland’s early season form.
Liam Roberts continued his impressive start to Boro life with an assured performance between the sticks whilst, further forward, Riley McGree and Rodrigo Muniz provided a complementary combo of tekkers and tenacity - in the first half at least.
McGree might have had a hattrick on another day but Boro’s tempo plummeted in the second half as the focus switched from creativity to containment, with little on the bench to buoy the flagging midfield.
It wasn’t slick. In fact the second half was a slog for Boro as Sunderland huffed and puffed without creating anything especially dangerous. By the end, Boro were running on fumes and were reduced to simply sitting in and clearing their lines as the clock wound down.
An ugly win is still a win, however, and Boro found a way. We needed that.
If there are any cobwebs that need blowing out, taking a trip to the seaside is as pleasant a method as any and Boro will do just that on Saturday as they travel to Blackpool for a 3pm kick-off.
The Seasiders (or Tangerines if you prefer) find themselves in 11th place after 3 wins and 2 draws from their opening 8 fixtures. Sunday’s 1-0 win away at Huddersfield was a highly controversial one given that the home side had an equaliser unjustly ruled out due to a failure of goal line technology, for which the EFL have since apologised. We know it’s a game of fine margins in the Championship but that was perhaps pushing things a little too far for the Terriers. Had the goal stood and the game finished 1-1, Blackpool would be below Boro in the table - tied on 9pts but with an inferior goal difference – such is the tight nature of the early standings.
Manager Michael Appleton is in his second stint at the club having previously managed them for a grand total of 12 games back in 2012-13, winning just 2. At that point being the shortest-serving manager in the club’s history, he returned in the summer after mixed spells at Blackburn, Oxford, Leicester and Lincoln.
Appleton has set his side up in a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 prior to the Huddersfield game but switched to a back 3 in that latest encounter. That may have been because the club lost their chief attacking asset, Josh Bowler, to Nottingham Forest (who else – is there anyone they haven’t signed?) just before the transfer deadline.
Blackpool haven’t had a particularly difficult start on paper, facing only Burnley of the more fancied sides, though they did beat surprise early pace-setters Reading on the opening day. Facing Boro might be regarded as one of their more difficult tasks thus far, especially as their home performances are where they have really struggled. 7 of their 11pts have come away so far this season with a draw against Bristol City their only other home return after that Reading win.
Boro, of course, have been quite the opposite. The defeat of Sunderland maintained an unbeaten home run that stretches back further than that barren run of clean sheets but away from home we haven’t found our groove for even longer – the last away win being down at Peterborough on the 2nd April.
In terms of selection, Paddy McNair picked up a knock last time out that should see Anfernee Djiksteel given a start as the right centre-back. It’s unclear whether Darragh Lenihan will be fit to return but Dael Fry’s performance ought to be enough to keep him out regardless you’d think. The midfield more or less picks itself given the options and up front, Muniz has nailed down the no. 9 slot whilst there’s little reason to replace Riley McGree either, so it could be a straightforward selection process for Chris Wilder this time around.
With just a solitary point on the road so far this season, Boro need to up their rate of returns if they want to get amongst the action. There likely won’t be too many better opportunities than against a mediocre Blackpool side, shorn of their best player, who haven’t convinced at Bloomfield Road. If Boro have genuine promotion credentials, this is the sort of game where 3pts should be mercilessly taken. If only the Championship were that simple…
So can Boro Surf up a win to make it a Fairy good week? Percil-ly I think so but you may prefer to keep your powder dry.
Come on Boro.
In this case (football) I prefer red over yellow. Boro over Blackpool. But I love to drive my car which is metallic yellow called officially Tangerine Scream.
If you are a Ford fan, you know which car I drive with only two engine options. I chose the diesel.
@Andy R Thank you for a nice start to the next match. Point taken and I will wash my car before taking a long weekend in the country side later today.
I hope we will get the first away win but it won't be easy. We must learn to defent during the last 20 min of a match. Up the Boro!
Thanks Andy for a very good analysis. Well crafted too.
Appleton isn't someone it's easy to warm to, but he has a good reputation as a coach.
He's also got the youngest squad in the division, so it will be an interesting contrast between youthful energy and enthusiasm, and our own more experienced and hardened squad.
As you say we should be looking to win this one and I wouldn't be surprised to see a reprise of the Sunderland game, with us hanging on to what we have with a dour defensive display in the final quarter.
As deleriad said, our last performance was reminiscent of Warnock's methods, but I think it was a result of Wilder doing what was necessary to stem the recent flow of crucial errors.
I'd like to see us retain the ball much better in running the clock down but if we can't do that without giving the ball away in vital areas, then 'getting rid' is the necessary short-term option.
At least I hope it will be short-term, a necessary adjustment to Wilder's preferred methods in order to steady the ship.
1-2 to the Boro.
Another humorous prologue from Andy worthy of the late Frankie Howerd’s in the days of ‘Up Pompei’. BOLD and PERSILic about keeping a clean sheet and OXYDOLic and intRINSOic what we’ve come to expect. Maybe the sea BREEZE
will keep Boro awake to what lies ahead.
Seriously though Boro’s away form has been appalling with only 2 victories in the last 17 league matches, almost a throwback to their relegation seasons. Nevertheless Boro’s record on the Fylde coastline has not been too unkind with 9 wins and 10 draws in 32 visits helped mainly by 3 successive wins in the last encounters at Bloomfield Road. Boro’s biggest win there was 5-0 as long ago as 1947 in my first season of supporting the Boro. I don’t expect that that scoreline will be repeated on Saturday but any win will do as the Boro begin to attempt to climb the ladder to some respectability.
A very good piece thank you Andy, so well put together.
We need to continue to build performances and this is a game, if we have top six aspirations, that three points should be there for us to go and grab.
If we don’t then it must seriously raise questions around the team’s capabilities. So no more hard luck stories, time to progress.
0-2 for me and then follow it up with a win against Cardiff at the Riverside, when I will be in attendance. CoB 😎
Many thanks Andy for very different Headliner, although I did wonder whether you may have been watching too much TV on the Commercial Channels. 😀
injuries apart, the team almost picks itself and that it not a healthy situation to be in. I would continue with Roberts until he does not deserve his place. Dijksteel over McNair even if the latter is fit.
In the middle there is hardly any choice as we have all discussed previously, other than put say Boyd-Munce on the bench. I do not see that happening though until we get more injuries there or the suspensions kick in.
Boro’s current away form will not get us in the top six and probably not even into the top half of the table. We need a big improvement with these fixtures otherwise we are in for a disappointing season.
The Boro will be backed by a large following of around 3500 Fans. Please do not let them down.
Another great opener Andy, thank you.
Come on BORO.
I have enjoyed reading the starter by AndyR and the posts left in response. Whilst it is grey and wet outside and whilst the news is worrying, it was a welcome diversion.
I assume Jakko will be enjoying a few saunas during his forthcoming trip into the countryside.
Ken - I watched the Tour of Britain's 4th stage yesterday but was a bit peeved at the length of the advertisement breaks on ITV4, one of which meant we almost missed Whitby and I was convinced they'd miss Stokesley, too (luckily they did not). Virtually everyone of those advertisments seemed to be about funeral costs, cremations, health care and freeing equity from elderly home owners' homes. I guess that means ITV4 reckons elderly people are the core audience for road cycling programmes.
I see comments at the end of some posts saying people have "reacted". Apart from posting a direct reply, and since it isn't now possible to "like" (or disagree), how does one react now on this blog? I must have missed something....
@forever-dormo. Just below your avatar you will see a thumbs up. If you click on that after reading a post it produces the react response. 😎
Another great opener about my last match against the donkey botherers whilst living near Tangerine dreaming neighbours. I’d like to leave the area on Monday with 3 points in a packing case please. 🍊1 vs 🦁🦁2
I always prerecord sporting events and start watching them an hour or so after they start. I then skip past the adverts on my TiVo box which enabled me to stop and take one excellent aerial photograph of Staithes, three of Whitby and another of Robin Hood’s Bay on my TV set. It’s a handy tip also if I prone to nod off as I did once during the second half of Monday’s match. Also it enables me to miss all adverts especially love-dating to prepare a meal or see to my ablutions.
@ken It’s a good tip Ken. Whilst not avid TV watchers, when the Pandemic first kicked in and we all knew nothing of what would happen, I went out and bought a Humax Free View Box complete with recorder built in.
We now tend to do the same as you. Record most things, especially the commercial Channels and skip through the adverts, Unless it is coffee time.
Apart from live sport, I can’t remember the last time we watched any programme on TV as scheduled. It’s great to use the Sky remote to whizz past the adverts.
Nice story out of the Tuchel sacking at Chelsea.
Ben Roberts who was at MFC all those years is their new Goal Keeping Coach joining with Graham Potter.
Thanks Andy for a surfeit of good clean prose that washes over us and hopefully makes us refreshed for the task ahead.
Very enjoyable read and hopefully we will keep a clean sheet and that we will sock it to them and launder the points in the bag.
My wife was a great royalist which I must confess I have never been. Nevertheless it’s with great sadness that the first Elizabethan era has come to a sudden end this afternoon. I remember her father dying when I was a schoolboy wondering whether to nick off school to watch Boro then a First Division side play an FA Cup match against lower second division Doncaster Rovers at Ayresome Park in the afternoon of his demise, or if indeed the match would be postponed. It wasn’t and Boro lost 1-4 with a late consolation goal from Geoff Walker.
At my youth club we arranged a revue called “Let’s all be good Elizabethans”which even went on tour to Saltburn and a precursor to the end of food rationing. By and large the Elizabethan age has been a success after what had happened during the war years, and as a young princess she had even enlisted in the British Army at the time in those war stricken years. As the Queen her reign has been almost exemplary, but she has made the odd mistake but who hasn’t? She has had to put up with a philandering husband and at least two of her sons but has still reigned with dignity.
The more I write about her the more I’m warming to her, and no matter what anyone ever may think I offer my condolences to her family, and especially to her loyal subjects who may feel that they have lost their matriarch.
RIP, your Majesty.
Many thanks to Andy for another excellent match preview but I suspect given the death of the Queen the football programme this weekend is likely to be postponed in accordance with the guidelines over what is expected during a period of official mourning. The EFL have tweeted that a decision will be made on Friday morning following consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The protocols were last used 70 years ago but perhaps in the 21st century the death of a constitutional monarch at the age of 96 shouldn't send the country into shock and the need to put everything on hold until after the state funeral. Sad news, yes, but for most people it won't be the devastating news that saw children sent home from school in my parents day with just somber music played on the radio for days.
The death of the Queen, who carried out her constitutional duty with dignity for the last 70 years of her life should of course be respected and reflected upon but I'm not sure if the majority of people in this age see themselves as subjects but rather as citizens of a democracy. Having said that, football does still follow the tradition of singing the national anthem before internationals and 'God Save The Queen' is usually sung with hand-on-heart gusto - so maybe there's still room for a weekend where it will follow the Royal protocol of national mourning.
The Queen was an icon over several generations that is unlikely to be repeated now that Charles takes the crown at the normally post-retirement age of 73. He is probably a more controversial figure given that he has been in the spotlight for many years with often outspoken views on many issues that bordered on political, with the national press having usually viewed him negatively in comparison to the Queen. Hard to see how he will be seen in the same benign light as the Queen and perhaps the notion of serving in a role until death should surely belong to another era.
After a respectful period, the passing of the Queen should be the opportunity to modernize the UK constitution and remove some of the more archaic and out-of-time practices. The head of state shouldn't really be a role that is passed down through one particular family and if the monarchy should remain it should only do so in a ceremonial capacity rather than it holding real power.
Others will no doubt disagree and are happy to keep the status quo but while many countries still have constitutional monarchies (e.g. Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium) they are far more low-key where the monarch lives a more normal life and merely provides a function. So we should respect the Queen who has served her country well for her 96 years but she was a product of a different era and as the country moves on, tradition is surely no reason for having a system remaining in place that no longer sits comfortably with the reality of a modern democracy.
Kings, Queens, Princes, Princesses, Dukes, Dutchesses, Lords and Ladies have all been bestowed titles that infer power, special privilege and influence over government that an ordinary citizen can't obtain. These roles are not just ceremonial and are seldom deserved but many people still regard those who have titles a being above them but they go against the notion of a meritocracy.
OK, sorry I've gone on longer than intended but condolences to the Queen's family, those who knew her and to everyone who feels her loss. RIP.
Very few of us recall singing “God save the King”. I remember as a very young child going to the cinema and during the playing of the National Anthem at the end of the performance standing to attention and actually saluting at the screen before asking my parents when it would be our turn to be royalty. But in those days without television and newspapers no more than 4 pages the radio news was all about the war. I was 7 years old when it finished and assumed that news programmes would cease to exist thereafter. The naivety of childhood!
Later the fact that football and cricket were so much more important to me until enduring the death of my maternal grandfather perhaps had the realisation that people were actually dying. I thought that they lived forever. After all once the childrens matinees came along and we all took our toy pistols to shoot at the screen as the cowboy ‘goodies’ killed more and more of the red indian ‘baddies’. It was only fiction, and after all that was no different to killing Germans was it? Death, where is thy sting, where is thy victory?
I previously referred to that FA Cup match when I skipped school to watch the Boro lose to Doncaster, stunned more that Boro lost with only a secondary concern that King George had died only hours before. The coronation of Elizabeth II changed my conception somewhat, as my father bought a 12 inch television set, the first to do so on our estate as about 20 of us watched the screen.
Then the Elizabethan age began and we all vowed to become good Elizabethans and later on marrying Enid I was astounded about her knowledge of the royal families of not only Britain but Europe as well. Because she was such a royalist I became one as well, but lost all interest after Princess Diana died and what became the apparent unconcern of the Queen at the time. We had lost our Queen of Hearts, but were expected to show that stiff upper lip.
Nevertheless to reign for almost 70 years has to be recognised as some achievement, and reading this morning how much she was loved by her people had my eyes swelling with emotion. I’m not so sure about how I’ll react to a new monarch, but have to admit now how much I respected Her Majesty and think that all sporting events over this weekend should be cancelled due to respect. There are much more important things than football, cricket, rugby and golf.
I appreciate and concur with Werdermouth’s comments - much more apt than my own ramblings. But like most people I am stunned at the moment. Is death so fatal? No doubt it will not be long before I find out..
Wise words @werdermouth and they echo my thoughts entirely. It would have been an interesting day yesterday had Andrew been born before Charles, showing that handing power down via the luck of your birth can be a less than ideal system.
While I couldn't agree more @werdermouth that with the Queen's passing there is now a golden opportunity for the country to reflect on what it wants and expects in respect of a head of state and all that is related. However, given that for the overwhelming majority of people alive in the country today, we have only ever known the Queen as our head of state and she has, quite remarkably in my opinion, given a reassuring continuity for our times, I think it will be quite right and fitting that at least for this one (last?) time the country, the BBC, sport, politics, well everything really, takes pause to acknowledge that this really is a most significant moment that will (like it or not) impact on all of us. Our world will change. It has to. But it is right in this moment to mourn the passing, not just of Elizabeth Windsor, but of the entire post world war 2 (or second Elizabethan) era.
Perhaps with her passing, the time is right for change and perhaps because she has passed, it will be easier for whatever the change will be, to happen. I for one am grateful to have lived during her time and I am a little sad she has passed, even though we were complete strangers.
My last word. Although my memory of current events is failing, even forgetting my own birthday in January this year, I think I might remember the death of Queen Elizabeth as today would have been the 61st anniversary of my wedding had my life lived. On looking at our wedding photographs this morning we both looked so young to be married especially my wife who was a teenage bride. In fact we both celebrated the 50th anniversary of our first date on the 2nd of September 2008 knowing full well that my wife wouldn’t live long enough to celebrate our Golden Wedding Anniversary. Of course we wanted to marry on the 2nd of September 1961 but there was a change in the turnaround of church ministers about that time. Still 47 years of married life was an acceptable alternative as I still talk to her every day although it’s a one way conversation.
“Our world will change. It has to. But it is right in this moment to mourn the passing, not just of Elizabeth Windsor, but of the entire post world war 2 (or second Elizabethan) era.”
I think I know what you’re saying, P-N, but I’m struggling to see how my world will change. The Queen has been replaced by a King. Two posts that my grandchildren can never aspire to.
@martin-bellamy . You are right in what you say. But there will be many little things (different postage stamps, the lyric "King" in the national anthem and lots of other things where royal reference is made). But, Queen Elizabeth was possibly the only one person in the state machinery that had world-wide respect, a respect that the nation as a whole was bathed in. Certainly none of the current and recent batches of politicians could claim much, if any, such respect. The diminishing of our nation's influence on the global stage started long ago, but I think it will be with the passing of this Elizabethan age that we will come to realise (our true?) place in the world's pecking order. So, while our day to day lives are not going to change dramatically, I do think we will come to sense that the atmosphere we live in has changed and our collective attitudes are likely to do so too as we recognise we are now living through a different era.
As for my grandchildren (if I ever have any !!) I wouldn't want for them the kind of life that goes with post that Elizabeth or even Charles have had.
I’m inclined to agree with much of what you say, P-N, but I think our decline as a world power has already progressed significantly, particularly since 2016. I see no point in a head of state who is lied to by a PM, who illegally prorogues parliament, and yet declines to comment at all, nor call for sanctions.
As to not wanting to live her life, I reckon there will be lots of struggling people who’d be glad of the chance. The key point of course is that they can never have that opportunity, no matter how clever they are, how hard they work, nor how qualified to do the job they are. In the 21st Century that can’t be right.
I’d like to make it clear that even though I’m no Royalist, I had immense respect for the Queen and every sympathy for her family’s loss.
I wouldn't disagree with a word of that Martin. While we had the Queen, I would probably have called myself a royalist, but one (and much more so today than yesterday) who struggles with the concept of inheriting positions of power and influence. The problem is that we can witness today that there is so much rotten with many of the western democracies, including, very sadly, our own: would it be any better to have an elected head of state rather than having someone born into the position? I can't pretend to imagine I have any settled or reasoned arguments about that and certainly not a fixed position on the subject. I suspect that in this I am far from being alone.
I am content in knowing that my son and his peers are fine young men and women, with good principals and who care about their fellow men and women and about our environment; and that there are many many many more like them in their generation. I hope that our and our previous generations will not leave them behind a world and a society that is so badly damaged that they can not have bright future.
Was it a good idea to cancel all football matches this weekend. I'm sure our lovely late Queen would not approve it. Best for the games to go have gone ahead with a two minute silence while grief is very raw and let the whole nation of football fans express sincere condolences in their thousands.
The Football Supporters Association agree with you on that point and given other sporting authorities have decided to continue with their schedules with a tribute before the game it feels like the FA may have misjudged the public mood. The government said there was no obligation under the state mourning protocol to cancel games but left it up to each individual sporting body to decide - rugby and cricket have opted to go ahead. There's even talk of cancelling games next weekend if it means freeing up police resources to cover the state funeral.