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Boro v Barnsley

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Andy R
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Fresh from Saturday’s pulsating (*cough*) victory over the Posh on Saturday, Boro take on more down-to-earth Yorkshire rivals (sort of) Barnsley this Wednesday in a 19:45 kick-off.

Neil Warnock has bemoaned his luck of late and could only select from a very limited number of players at the weekend with several playing out of position. However, a couple of friendly decisions from the referee and the fact that Peterborough were utterly toothless may have him thinking his fortunes have turned. Indeed, with Lee Peltier returning from suspension, Mr Warnock may now have a selection headache of sorts whilst Barnsley at home is another agreeable fixture.

The Tykes have won once all season (at home to Coventry) scoring just seven goals. Their away form reads P6 W0 D3 L3 GF4 GA9 and they have only found the net once in the past five games overall. In fact, only four different players have managed to score at all for Barnsley this season, compared with Boro’s ten. And we thought we had it bad…. Whichever way you cut the form up, Barnsley are consistently in the bottom three and Boro may well feel that this is their best opportunity yet to record consecutive victories and get the season up and running at last.

How Warnock attempts to achieve that will be slightly more interesting than at the weekend, given the aforementioned return of Peltier. As one of the manager’s own, you’d imagine that “Pelts” will be restored to the side and the obvious choice – if you’re Neil Warnock at least – will be to slot him into the defence and allow Howson to move back into midfield. That most likely means a return to the bench for the untrusted Martin Payero but many Boro fans will be disappointed with that outcome given Payero’s second half performance at the weekend. It’s a long while since Boro possessed a central midfielder with a defence-splitting pass in him and a willingness to break forward but Warnock, like Pulis before him, favours defensive discipline over creativity and that may well be that for the young Argentine’s chances.

Perhaps more palatable would be to push Watmore up front alongside Sporar and allow Crooks or Payero to play a little further forward in support of that front two, leaving the likeable and hard-working but increasingly ineffective Uche Ikpeazu on the bench.

The only other consideration is whether to restore the impressive Isiah Jones to the starting eleven. Jones was bright once again in a brief cameo at the weekend but, like Payero, doesn’t seem to be trusted defensively and has been marginalised as a result. There is a case for Watmore and Jones to play either side of Sporar in a 3-4-3 with Payero supplying the bullets but that is likely to be a case several steps too far for our pragmatic leader, even against such seemingly vulnerable opposition.

Boro have frequently fallen short when the opportunity for momentum has arisen this calendar year and as such Barnsley will need to be respected. There are certainly shades of Boro’s last attempt to win back-to-back games when Boro blew up against Hull. This time, however, Boro are at home and maybe, just maybe, our luck is turning. Another friendly referee wouldn’t go amiss.

So can Boro win consecutive games for the first time since April, or will it be another spluttering and disheartening display with Warnock told to sit back down on the naughty step?


K P in Spain
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Thanks Andy for another very good pre-match starter. 

If NW cannot recognise that his second half team, which included Payero and Jones, made the difference to the outcome of Saturday's game then he really has gone past his sell by date.  We need to be comprehensively beating teams who are in these sorts of form/positions even if our expectations are only mid table mediocrity.

Another gruelling performance with us just shading it based upon the last two games 1-0 CoB. 😎


Original Fat Bob
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Thanks Andy for a great opener for our game against Barnsley.

It’s one of those games where we should win but typically with Boro there is always the uncertainty.

I don’t think even Warnock knows which Boro team will turn up on Wednesday and of course Payero and Jones would normally give a manager a selection problem but I’m not so sure that our manager knows what their capabilities are (or am I being too harsh?)

I know Crooks was playing in a more defensive withdrawn position but I’m still not sure if there is a good player in there. Yes he can run and covers the ground but does he play killer through balls for strikers to run onto.

I wonder if Bamba and Howson can summon enough energy to play another game in such a short time period hopefully they can overcome tired legs and reproduce their form from Saturday. Watmore was another player who ran so much on Saturday that he developed cramps at the end and hopefully will have done just light training this week.

It is obvious to most of us that Tavernier looks better in the central midfield role rather than being stuck wide right. Our current manager seems to think otherwise and I don’t expect any change to the front lineup to the one that started on Saturday.

Thanks again Andy for the leader it’s appreciated as always.

 

OFB

 


John Richardson
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Andy,

Many thanks for the headline article. very good indeed. OFB and KP sum it up nicely too and I think it boils down to he doesn't quite know what he is doing. He hasn't a team of formulaic favourites who subscribe to his doctrine so Jones and Payero are just little to unpredictable, wayward and, dare I say it, creative. No wonder he's praying for the boys to be back in town.

Do as you are told and grind it out, all being well we'll win, a draw and the ref and luck was against us. Lose and it's all the ref and officials collective fault. Percentages of responsibility can and may be adjusted to suit the indignant approach to the result.

Who knows which way it will go, as banana skins go we'll be dumped on our collective backsides wondering what went wrong. I hasten to add the fans will know exactly what went wrong if that does happen.

UTB,

John


Original Fat Bob
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@john-richardson

notice I said “our current manager”

watch this space !

OFB


MW in Darwin
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@original-fat-bob

I know what you mean about Crooks. He does one good thing, like make a good interception and then immediately gives the ball away. Yet on who scored.com he was our man of the match and made their Championship team of the week as he did on Sky Sports. 

The Referee for Barnsley is Andy Madley who has a pretty good record at the Riverside and has been refereeing in the Premier League this season.


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Ken Smith
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Barnsley were elected to the Football League Second Division in 1898 just one year before Boro but reached two FA Cup Finals as a Second Division club in three seasons, losing to Newcastle after a replay in 1910 but winning against West Brom in 1912 also after a replay. Their only season in the top tier, in fact the Premier League was in 1997/98, but never met Boro as they were promoted as Boro were relegated. Much was made of the Tykes fans stating “that it was like watching Brazil”, although their style of play is more pragmatic today similar to Boro at the moment. Barnsley are one of the few Yorkshire clubs that Neil Warnock has never managed although he did play for them from 1976 to 1978. Barnsley have won on Teesside only five times in 29 encounters and have conceded 58 goals in that time, Boro having failed to score in only 3 of those matches. Maybe that could mean a 1-0 win for Boro on Wednesday, but perhaps it might be better than that. Not a prediction, but Boro have not scored 4 goals at home in a League match since March 2014. Could this be the time to do that?


David in Cumbria
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Thanks Andy especially for the Barnsley stats which have got me worried. I spent most of the Peterborough match thinking about how much my hotel/travel had cost and wondering why I keep wasting my money and time then Boro scored twice and things brightened up a bit. There is no getting away from the fact that we played badly against a team that never looked capable of scoring but I think that if Peterborough had been given the penalty for Lumley's foul (and scored?) we would have deservedly lost. Dembele gave our defence a lot of problems but it looked like he needed to create chances and score himself. I thought Bamba was clearly MOM but I do also think our players individually worked hard though not to much effect as a team.

The fact that Barnsley have only scored 7 times in their 12 matches still doesn't give me much confidence that we will win as I am more concerned by our poor record of consecutive wins and our lack of goals. We might well play even worse than against Peterborough. How could the same team that was so good against Sheffield Utd be so bad against Hull City?

I will be back at the Premier Inn on Wednesday. I don't even have to give my name at reception now. Even with my mask on they recognise the sad and worried face.


Andy R
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@original-fat-bob

I’m a bit befuddled by Matt Crooks too. I do like him - he’s hard-working, hard-running, a nuisance for the opposition and does possess the occasional bit of quality - but I can’t quite place how he should be used.

He reminds me of Marouane Fellaini: big, awkward, commits fouls and scores a few goals but not especially technically gifted, effective enough without being particularly easy to watch.

I don’t think he’s a number 10 - neither the tricky Juninho/Gaston type who opens teams up with quick feet and clever passing nor the Tomlin/Sheringham/Beardsley-type who drop off the front man and pull defenders away. I think he’s probably a box-to-boxer who does a bit of everything but I think we’ve got similar types who have a bit more quality on the ball.

I wonder if he can follow the path of many a former goalscoring midfielder at Boro and become a defensive midfielder. He did pretty well in that role at the weekend albeit against limp opposition. He can certainly cover the ground, isn’t afraid to make tackles and his sheer size makes him useful defensively. It’s a question of mindset really and whether he can commit to a change that means he won’t be getting into the box other than for set pieces.

We certainly need a defensive midfielder and, as we saw at the weekend, converting Crooks could be the answer to getting the most out of more talented players like Payero and Siliki.

With Barnsley struggling, I’d give him another go in that role tomorrow. I’d probably still bring Peltier back in and play a 3-5-2:

Lumley

Peltier Bamba McNair

Tav Howson Payero Crooks Hernandez

Sporar Watmore


K P in Spain
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Good post Andy.  You have highlighted a problem that NW seems to be having which is getting people in the right position and getting the best from their natural attributes i.e. Crooks/Tav.

Your team looks good on paper but if Tav is not played centrally then we don't get the best out of him.  It seems to be a case as with so many former managers that they have had a preference for certain players and included them in the side but not necessarily in the best position.

At the moment NW is being hobbled by a lack of defensive options; as an alternative to your team how about the following:

Lumley

Howson Bamba McNair Peltier 

             Crooks

Tav  Payero  Hernandez or Jones

       Watmore Sporar

I think that if NW is still in charge when all the injured players are fit, he will have an even bigger problem as to who to play and where as they won't all fit in to the eleven.

CoB 😎


Original Fat Bob
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Ken Smith
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I wouldn’t hesitate to start with Josh Coburn. We need an early goal, not be testing out the opposition until it’s possibly too late. Why are Boro always reactive instead of being proactive?  Get the crowd behind them from the start would be my advice especially when playing at home. Going back in history neither George Camsell nor  Brian Clough were first choice  centre forwards for Boro.

It was James McClelland who was first choice centre forward in 1926 and Boro were on the verge of selling Camsell but Boro took only one point from their first 4 matches, then along came Camsell and the rest is history. Similarly Doug Cooper was preferred to Clough in the 1950s but once he was injured and scoreless manager Bob Dennison had the sense to give Clough his debut. 

Now I’m not saying that Josh Coburn will turn out to emulate either Camselll or Clough, but we’ll never find out unless he’s given an extended run.

This post was modified 2 months ago by Ken Smith

Ken Smith
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Since writing that blog about Josh Coburn, I see that Scott Wilson in the Northern Echo is thinking along similar lines.


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deleriad
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Obviously there is an issue about who might struggle to play on Wednesday. Assuming that everyone who was available against Peterborough is available tomorrow and that Peltier is back I do tend to think that 3 at the back and wingers is the way to go. Unlike most, I like Tav coming in off the right wing in the role Harry Wilson plays for Swansea though he can also be good in the middle.

Probably I would go with

Lumley

Howson Bamba McNair

Crooks

Hernandez Payero Tav Jones

Watmore Sporar

I suspect that Warnock will play Peltier instead of Jones and put Tav on the wing. I think defensive midfielder may be Crooks' best position especially if he manages to keep an eye for goal.


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Ken Smith
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For real excitement in Sport surely Speedway takes some beating. I’ve just watched two days of the most absorbing Speedway of Nations from Belle Vue, Manchester on BT Sport. A shame that only 7 countries participated, no Russian team for whom Artem Laguta and Emil Sayfutdinov are currently two of the most exciting riders in the world, or Slovenia, USA or New Zealand who have never found another Ivan Mauger sadly no longer with us who once graced the track at Brough Park when riding for Newcastle Diamonds and was World Champion a record 6 times in the 60s and 70s. Former powerhouse Sweden were participating although not the World leaders anymore since the retirement of Tony Rickardsson. Nevertheless Poland, Australia and Denmark, along with Great Britain, France and Latvia were there.

The competition is for two riders of each country riding in 21 heats against each other in turn and Poland dominated Day One with a 10 point lead over the British duo of 3 times World Champion winner Tai Woffinden and Robert Lambert. For those not aware of the scoring system in Speedway it is usually 3 points for each heat winner, 2 for second place, and 1 for third place, but this is a competition for pairs and often the teams better player if circumstances allow, will block the opponents and let his partner lead the way. Therefore go World Pairs Championships the winner of each heat will earn 4 points, the second placed rider 3 points, and the third placed rider 2 points, no points for finishing last. Therefore 9 points are available for eac

The winner of each heart redc


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Ken Smith
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Posted by Ken Smith 

For real excitement in Sport surely Speedway takes some beating. I’ve just watched two days of the most absorbing Speedway of Nations from Belle Vue, Manchester on BT Sport. A shame that only 7 countries participated, no Russian team for whom Artem Laguta and Emil Sayfutdinov are currently two of the most exciting riders in the world, or Slovenia, USA or New Zealand who have never found another Ivan Mauger sadly no longer with us who once graced the track at Brough Park when riding for Newcastle Diamonds and was World Champion a record 6 times in the 60s and 70s. Former powerhouse Sweden were participating although not the World leaders anymore since the retirement of Tony Rickardsson. Nevertheless Poland, Australia and Denmark, along with Great Britain, France and Latvia were there.

The competition is for two riders of each country riding in 21 heats each day against each other in turn over heats of 4 laps, and Poland dominated Day One with a 10 point lead over the British duo of 3 times World Champion winner Tai Woffinden and Robert Lambert. For those not aware of the scoring system in Speedway it is usually 3 points for each heat winner, 2 for second place, and 1 for third place, but this is a competition for pairs and often the teams better rider if circumstances allow, will block the opponents and let his partner lead the way. Therefore in World Pairs Championships the winner of each heat will earn 4 points, the second placed rider 3 points, and the third placed rider 2 points, no points for finishing last. Therefore 9 points are available for each heat in World Pairs Speedway.

At the end of Day One the favourites Poland had a 10 point lead over Great Britain who lost Tai Woffinden in a horrendous crash over the barrier in his last heat and was unable to ride in Day Two. Up stepped the reserve rider Dan Bewley and he was superb. The main objective was now for Great Britain to finish in the 3 medal places and they achieved that by beating Australia 7-2 in their penultimate heat. Overall there were several heats when crashes looked imminent when overtaking looked impossible which had the crowd on its feet followed by flag waving at the end of each heat. Remember that Speedway bikes have no brakes and no gears. At the end of another 21 heats Poland still had a 10 point lead over Denmark and 11 over Great Britain. Poland thus qualified for a  final heat whilst Denmark had the choice of gate numbers over Great Britain in heat 43, the semifinal. Nevertheless the British pair with a first and third place finish overcame Denmark 6-3 to at least win the silver medal. 

Once again Great Britain had the disadvantage of the worst gate numbers and during the final heat looked like having to settle for the silver medal when inexplicably on the penultimate lap the two Polish riders Maciej Janowski and Bartosz Zmarzlik slightly touched each other but just enough to slow them down for a split second to enable the British riders to overtake them and become World Pairs Champions for the first time since 1984.

This for me was the equivalent of Ben Stokes last wicket stand with Jack Leach at Headingley in 2019 to keep the Ashes alive. Sometimes Sport can be cruel but sometimes something astonishing happens, though I never expected to see it  happen on a Speedway track. Bad luck in losing Great Britain captain to an horrific crash, but good luck when two Polish riders made an elementary mistake in getting in each other’s way at a crucial time. 

Congratulations and well done to our speedway threesome, you’ve certainly made my weekend. It’s now up to Boro to replicate our Speedway riders success tomorrow night.

This post was modified 2 months ago by Ken Smith

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Redcar Red
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Just dipping in and trying to catch up on some excellent posts on various subjects.

I think it's possible that Tav may be rested or struggling. I also think that Peltier will come in at LB and we go with Howson at RB with Paddy and Bamba in a back four.

Midfield will be Crooks  Payero, Hernandez and I hope Jones. Sporar and Watmore to lead the attack in a 442.

Whether Warnock will have his charges motivated and organised is another thing. The performance against Peterborough up until the Penalty was very poor. As has been already mentioned had it not been for the Penalty I doubt we would have scored at all. 

Sometimes a bit of luck is needed to break a bad run but we look so bad over recent months I think it will take more than that to get Warnock out of Jail anytime soon. At the moment spluttering to a mid-table finish looks as good as it will get.


jarkko
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Warnock said in his presser: "Isaiah Jones is another (Watmore the other), he’s really been poor for three weeks in the training, yet he looked better at the end of last week and when he came on (against Peterborough), I thought he did well. It’s nice to see Isaiah back firing, too.”

We as fans do not know what is happening at the club during the week. I see a lot of people criticizing the manager for holding Jones back recently. We think if a player played well, he will do the same the following week.

It was the same with Watmore at the beginning of the season. But players do have dips in form. The manager has the tricky work of predicting who will play well in the next match.

I see the logic in RR's argument for a flat four in defence. Let's see what Warnock will do tonight. Other than defence, I think he has several options to choose from. I - as well as many others - hope to see Payero to start again. He is raw but talented and needs support to manage the Championship.

I hope for a win, really. Hence my prediction is a 2-0 win again. Sporar and Payero (!) to score. There is always hope before a match, isn't there.

I am just going to try and enjoy the match tonight. Up the Boro!

This post was modified 2 months ago 2 times by jarkko

jarkko
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I keep on watching the League one table for some reason. First how Wing is doing with Sheffield Wednesday and secondly Ipswich with Coulson.(And possibly Sunderland, gulp!)

Ipswich is an interesting team to follow as they have many similarities to Boro. The size of the club and its history say they should be in the Championship as a bare minimum. Also they have bought in a lot of new players in the summer - even more than our whopping 12 new players.

So they have the same bedding-in problems as we have. Consistentency is missing. Surprisingly (or not) they are 13th in the table and Boro are 14th respectfully. But Boro have a game in hand until tonight.

Why all this? Because I am still annoyed that we were forced to buy 12 players in a single window. We have lost one third of the season looking for our best eleven and any consistency. No wonder we are not higher than where we are.

The positive thing is that we have bought some good players in. We have rebuilt our midfield that did not create many chances to score. Of course we are still work in progress as we still score too few goals. But who would have expected a legion of new players to play well so soon. 

So we have started the season exactly as I feared. Or as Ipswich have. But I hope we will start to pick up form and results now. I still have hope in Warnock to do that. Just. It is still work in progress.

Up the Boro!

This post was modified 2 months ago by jarkko

Andy R
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@jarkko

Agree with your comments on the number of signings and the implications thereafter. The only thing I’d say is that I don’t think club were “forced” into 12 new signings. We could quite easily have retained Morsy, Wing, Coulson and Spence and not needed quite so many in.

We’re all hoping that those new players turn out to be upgrades - serious upgrades in some cases - but, whilst it’s still far too early to judge, right now you’d have to say that the team hasn’t improved overall.

Lets hope we see a strong performance and victory tonight to build some evidence that the right moves were made.


jarkko
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@andy-r

Yes, you are right. But most of the 12 new players arrived before Morsy was sold. I agree than Coulson and especially Spence should have stayed (but at least the latter has played regularly and it looks like Warnock does not plan to use wing backs).

Anyway, the club failed in their long term planning if 12 new players were needed. And we still miss cover on the left and at full back in particular. So it could have been 13 to 14 in the end.

Still posive, though. We could and should only improve. Will that be enough for play-offs, nobody knows. I we can all hope. 

Up the Boro!

This post was modified 2 months ago by jarkko

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Original Fat Bob
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@jarkko

Dom Shaw writes 

Boro's next three games are against the bottom three in Championship form table: Barnsley without a win in 10, Cardiff have lost six on the spin (and are away to Fulham tonight), Birmingham one point from last 18 available.
Have to take advantage and get season going

OFB

I TOTALLY AGREE LETS SEE WHERE WE ARE AND IF NW IS STILL WITH US


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Andy R
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If given the option (with hindsight of course - and only based on what we've seen so far which isn't a lot), how many of us would go for Morsy and Wing over Siliki and Crooks? What about Spence over Peltier?

I'm probably just edging towards the players we had at this stage. That's not a criticism of Siliki, Crooks and Peltier, just that the squad seemed better balanced beforehand. Coulson should have been retained in any case purely because we had no cover -  he needed to be replaced before we let him go.

I'm encouraged by Payero and Sporar whilst Bamba has been a real unexpected bonus. The goalkeepers were necessary and Ikpeazu probably was too. Happy enough with Hernandez though clearly Ameobi was a bad move and not one that we needed to make. Olusanya wasn't really needed either but I've no real issues with a cheap punt.

I guess my round-up of all that was that we could have made "only" 6/7/8 signings and been better balanced overall, though I think we're yet to see what a lot of these new guys can really do.

This post was modified 2 months ago by Andy R

deleriad
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@jarkko

The 1st team squad players that left or didn't have their loans renewed. 

Bettinelli*
Bolasie*
Neeskins Kebano*
Jordan Archer
Britt Assombalonga*
Ashley Fletcher*
Marvin Johnson
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing
George Saville*
Lewis Wing
Hayden Coulson
Chuba Akpom
Djed Spence
Sam Morsy*

The ones with *s were pretty much Warnock's preferred 1st team players. I should say as well that Warnock was getting pelted for playing Spence when his performances didn't seem to merit it. Some of these Warnock was clearly happy to see go (the keepers, Akpom, Wing, Britt, Mendez-Laing, Johnson) but he gives every indication that the rest left either because they wanted to or the club wanted to sell them for financial reasons.

When looked at in the round, there are 14 players who would either be in the team or on the bench when fit who have left. That is going to disrupt any team so you could argue that Warnock has done well to keep us in the middle of the table despite it all. The counter argument is that he seems to be a poor fit to manage the players he has ended up with.

 

 


Ken Smith
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Now for some statistics for those of a superstitious persuasion :-

1. Neil Warnock’s managerial record against Barnsley reads only 3 wins in 8 matches. 

2. Barnsley are unbeaten in their last 7 away matches played on a Wednesday evening having won 5 and drawn 2.

3. Boro’s last 23 Wednesday evening matches have produced only one draw, 13 wins and 9 defeats. 

A load of twaddle in my opinion, but I thought I’d just mention them.


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John Richardson
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@ken

Thanks for that Ken, I'll go into the darkened room early tonight and put the whale song on the stereo.

A Barnsley win then?

UTB,

John

PS I've asked for some glowing 'eyes in the sky' for Christmas, they'll go on the bedroom ceiling to help me sleep the night before a match. A new couch to hide behind would be good too but I don't want to take superstition too far.

This post was modified 2 months ago by John Richardson

exmil
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Firstly can we please stop “if he is still here” “watch this space” hoping in the future a person can say “I was right” even if it is in 8 months time. In my opinion NW will be here until at least the end of the season unless we suddenly drop down into the relegation zone which I doubt will happen.

As for Barnsley tonight I would like to see this team and formation to start:

Lumley 

Peltier Bamba McNair 

Tavernier Howson Crooks Hernandez 

Payero 

Watmore Sporar 

I base a back three as Barnsley usually play one up front and although they have big defenders they are not very mobile, so long/high balls into the box would probably be dealt with, whereas fast/tricky 3/5 attacking players will cause them problems.

Come on BORO.

 


Pedro de Espana
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  • Thanks very much for the Headliner Andy. Also as RR said some very good posts giving food for thought.

I think that Crooks is one of those “Jack of all Trades” and master of none players. He does have the ability to cover ground and track a player. As some have said, maybe he should be the defensive midfielder, however that poses a problem what to do with Howson? A defensive mid he is not, does not have sufficient pace for one. But he is one of NW’s first picks.

Again as others have said, I think Warnock prefers wingers who will defend. Jones arguably is our best attacking option, but the Manager is still to be convinced I believe. 

Tonight I would go for three at the back so as to accommodate Hernandez and Jones with Tav and Payero in their too. Two up front, so who misses out? Well that will be Jones.

This post was modified 2 months ago by Pedro de Espana

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werdermouth
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I haven't really thought much about tonight's game as I've been busy this week preparing for my long-postponed visit to Teesside - two years now since the last and first since Brexit. That means endless bureaucracy with now needing to register with the British Government and fill in Advanced Passenger Information, Passenger Locator forms - which requires we book and pay for Day 2 PCR tests to obtain a code to prove we've done so - even though we won't get the results until we've left the country so it is essentially just a tax - sadly the new rules came two days too late to apply to us.

Plus of course we need to pay for certified lateral flow tests before boarding the ferry in both directions. Just to prove rip-off of Britain is not just in our imagination - certified lateral flow test done at a pharmacy in Germany: €12 - the same test in the UK at a pharmacy: £30. Still, hopefully the forecasted storms tomorrow in the North Sea of force 10 gales won't end up making the whole exercise futile...

Anyway, back to tonight's game... I'm not really expecting to see Boro blow away Barnsley or a major improvement on the performance against Peterborough. I suspect 'Pelts' will return but where will determine what kind of shape the rest of the team takes.

Warnock has usually followed up a win with an unchanged team but given Saturday's was kind of cobbled together and didn't really start performing until the last 20 minutes it would be a brave choice to go for a repeat selection.

My hunch is that Peltier will replace Howson, who will in turn replace Payero. Warnock may keep the same wing-backs/wingers but surely Jones on the left and Hernandez on the right would make more sense. Maybe Coburn could replace Ikpeazu but perhaps he'll remain a bench option.

Prediction: Hard to judge until the team is announced but unless there's a big improvement, the most likely score is 0-0 - though let's hope Boro sneak another win and build some confidence and momentum. Personally, I'd start with Payero as he really needs pitch time to continue his improvement and playing weaker opposition has got to be the time to allow this.

btw Thanks to Andy for another enjoyable well-written preview!

This post was modified 2 months ago 2 times by werdermouth

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Clive Hurren
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Posts: 159
 
Posted by: @exmil

Firstly can we please stop “if he is still here” “watch this space” hoping in the future a person can say “I was right” even if it is in 8 months time. In my opinion NW will be here until at least the end of the season unless we suddenly drop down into the relegation zone which I doubt will happen.

I’m beginning to think you might be right about NW staying on, Exmil. We all got a bit excited a couple of weeks ago as it seemed something might be imminent, but I’m not so sure. He’s seen it all before, of course, and has been on the managerial merry-go-round so long that he probably knows exactly when a chairman’s axe is coming. But he seems incredibly relaxed at the moment. Perhaps that’s just him? At age 72, perhaps he thinks he’ll just take it as it comes - no point in getting stressed about it, perhaps? He frequently makes little digs at the club’s recruitment team - ‘We’re very short at the moment. Just look at our bench. Steve knows we’re short.’ And so on. So he either feels his job is secure enough at the moment that he can get away with the criticism, or he’s well into his retirement planning and doesn’t care anyway. I’m coming to the conclusion that SG won’t replace him this season unless the gap to the play-off places widens to become almost unachievable. I guess SG will have planned it on some sort of sliding scale - if it’s still feasible for Boro to make the play-offs given a run of results and a large slice of luck, then I think he’ll stick rather than twist. 

Boro should beat Barnsley tonight, no question. But we haven’t won two games on the trot for yonks. So I’m a bit nervous. A draw isn’t really good enough. 

Meanwhile, I see the Geordies are looking for a new manager. I’m not having any of this Geordie over-hyped twaddle about getting in Conte, Zidane or Gerard. I think a dream team would be Jonathan Woodgate as manager, with Tony Pulis as Director of Football. Or better still, vice versa. 


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