Boro v Huddersfield
Ladies and gentlemen, do not adjust your screens – Boro have won an away game.
And how. 4-1. FOUR! Even Jarkko didn’t see that coming.
The 4-1 (yes, I’m repeating that scoreline again) Wigan walkover was Boro’s first win on the road - and the first time we’ve scored four - since early April and in truth it hasn’t been coming. At all.
Sure, Wigan were poor and fortune was on Boro’s side for the first time in forever. The Wigan keeper was questionable for probably three of the goals and there were some lucky ricochets along the way but Boro were in the position to take that luck thanks to a change of shape, an added urgency (in the second half at least) and a rarely seen surge of confidence as Boro strutted forward and looked like scoring time and again. It came from nowhere. It felt good.
And now we have a juicy home fixture against bottom of the table Huddersfield Town to capitalise on the feelgood factor. Boro couldn’t win two in a row, could they? We’ll find out on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.
On the face of it, Mark Fotheringham’s Terriers are there for the taking: bottom of the league having conceded even more goals than us and with just the one point away from home all season. Tasty.
Not unlike ourselves, Huddersfield have endured an avalanche of turmoil and turbulence this season after a strong campaign last term, in which they remarkably finished third only to lose the play-off final to Nottingham Forest.
The loss of manager Carlos Corberán, the young Spanish coach linked with Boro until recently, set The Terriers back considerably as he resigned just a few weeks before the current season got underway. Former Huddersfield midfielder-cum-forward Danny Schofield initially took over but after just one win from his first eight games, he was moved on in favour of 38 year-old Scot, Fotheringham, who took the reins in late September with the club in 23rd position.
This is Fotheringham’s first managerial role and it’s fair to say that it’s not been the easiest of introductions. His record to date reads P5 W1 D1 L3 F7 A9 with that sole win coming at home against fellow strugglers Hull City.
Fotheringham has largely lined his side up in a 3-4-1-2 formation with Terriers favourite and Karanka reject Jordan Rhodes the main man up front. Rhodes is the club’s top scorer with four goals so far.
The expected goals data seems to mirror the on-field evidence with Huddersfield sitting bottom for expected goals (0.94/match) and second bottom for expected goals against (1.71/match). Boro remain underperformers - certainly defensively - from our data with us being 9th for xG and a healthy 2nd for xGA. Perhaps we will start to see our actual goals against start to catch up with the expected ones.
Again, the noises from the club are that there won’t be a new manager in charge at The Riverside but, suddenly, the need to replace Leo doesn’t seem quite so urgent.
The shape seems a straightforward decision as Boro looked much more cohesive at both ends of the pitch on Wednesday night following the switch to 4-2-3-1. The personnel could differ however, as Leo selected a few players out of position in midweek with straightforward remedies available.
The most glaring was favouring Ryan Giles over Marc Bola at left back. Perhaps the Percovich plan was to have Watmore driving in-field from wide on he left, leaving space for Giles to operate in and deliver his usually excellent crosses. Whilst Watmore gave a typically bustling performance which resulted in a goal and an assist, Giles was ineffective and vulnerable. Bola seems an obvious choice to come in and Giles will have to wait and see if he can gain a spot further upfield. Muniz was a surprise omission too and I would have thought that his extra power and mobility over Akpom would be a plus in the lone forward role.
The squad isn’t ideally setup for a 4-2-3-1 with us only having only one obvious left back, one or perhaps no out-and-out defensive midfielders, no specialist no.10 and no natural “inverted wingers” with the possible exception of Watmore, who comes with his own issues of fitness and finishing. That said, there are holes however we line up it seems and the most important thing is a tactical setup that the players believe in, plus that elusive confidence to perform.
Had Boro failed to win at Wigan, or worse still lost, then this game would have been shrouded in bleak consequences but a few days and one big win has perhaps changed the outlook. Of course, Boro need to back it up with another win or it's back to the drawing board but, from nowhere, this now feels like a great time to play Huddersfield.
Can Boro grasp the opportunity and push on?
Thanks Andy for your interesting prelude to the visit of Huddersfield on Saturday. I guess it was easier to write than on some recent occasions. Some big wins for Boro over the years against the Terriers especially the 8-0 win in 1950 when Wilf Mannion scored a hat trick in the first half and Alex McCrae did likewise in the second half, and 7-2 in 1957 the last home game of the season when Brian Clough scored 4 as Boro ended that season with an unbeaten run of 9 matches. Usually plenty of goals in this fixture with 98 goals for Boro in 48 matches, 30 of which were won as well as 9 draws. However Boro did lose 0-2 last season which derailed our hopes of a playoff place.
A big day for England too as our cricketers start the defence of the T20 competition in Perth against Afghanistan at midnight and our Rugby League team take on France at Bolton with almost a sellout crowd guaranteed at 5pm so no clash of times with Boro’s match. Surely a hat trick of wins on Saturday then.
Thanks for a great opener which must have been a pleasure to do after a heartening win last night
It’s certainly been hard work for us both generating enthusiasm to get the posts out to the Diasborians and creating optimistic forecasts and outlooks so we can enjoy supporting our team.
Now it’s happened, we may be on the cusp of a revival. A win and movement out of the bottom three! The prospect of a new manager with an impressive playing pedigree and hopefully experienced coaches to work alongside him.
So onwards and upwards Diasborians I’m going for a 2-0 win !
Come on Boro…..
TO THE PLAYOFFS AND BEYOND !
Thanks for the starter Andy. In spite of your emphasis on Boro's 4 - 1 win over Wigan and Hudderfield's drop to bottom of the league I am not expecting an easy win on Saturday. I am hoping to get to the match but Avanti only decide their train timetable and sell tickets for the weekend two or three days in advance so I was waiting for their announcement and then a derailment blocked the line from Carlisle to Newcastle so I also need to find out what Northern Rail are doing. and will try to sort out my journeys on Friday.
I only found out that Wigan v Boro was being streamed about 10 minutes before kick off and it was much better to watch than just listen especially with the rare chance to see 4 Boro goals. But for Steffen making some good saves before we equalised, we could have lost to a very poor Wigan team so we must tighten up our defence against Huddersfield. No early goal conceded this time please, better marking at set pieces and no defenders/midfielders holding off and giving Huddersfield players space for shots. I'm glad Leo got away from playing with a back 3 as this has obviously failed this year. I agree with Andy that Giles at left back didn't work well but playing him as a winger would stop Watmore in what seems to be his best role of cutting in from the wing rather than being a central attacker. I will be happy with any win though another 4 goals would be very welcome.
With Gerrard being sacked by Villa tonight, could there be another round of interviews 😂
Come on BORO.
Gerrard’s fortunes went downhill once his assistant Michael Beale left for QPR. The Hoops are now top of league under Beale, with Wigan next, and he has already been linked to the vacant Wolves job.
Meanwhile Gerrard has attracted some big names to Villa but seen them underperform.
Being previously a top player is itself no guarantee that you will make a good manager.
In Scotland Gerard would have had to be particularly ineffective if he was going to fail badly at Rangers.
As we saw with Frank Lampard at Derby and now Everton, the challenge of finding success in the English top two divisions is huge, In the past players used to go and learn the trade as manager in the lower leagues. I am not saying that some can't have some success by starting in management with a "Big(ger)" club, but I think it rare that happens.
So. How do we consider Boro? Are we one of those "Big(ger)" clubs or are we one of the lower league outfits where ex-players can cut their teeth and develop the skills to be a top manager/coach? Either way, no thanks to Mr. Gerrard for me, even if the thought did begin to cross Steve Gibson's mind. As we are, and still with no Michael Carrick announcement, I have to say I hope it is all just paper talk. If he wanted the job, he would have accepted it now and his coaching team could be built as the individuals become available. No need to wait, unless he feels he could not manage without them. If he can't manage without them, then for me he can't manage and so would be the wrong choice.
I would be so happy for Boro under Leo to wallop the Terriers on Saturday and for us to persevere with him and let him develop as head coach. We are getting some glimmers of potential and he is Boro through and through.
As for the game on Saturday, perhaps this is the game which might confirm that Leo has turned us around. I hope so. We have the opportunity to inflict a big defeat on Huddersfield to boost our goal difference. If we are to make progress up the table, it will be important to have the best goal difference of all the other teams around us. So I am taking deep inhalations of foam and expecting we will see Boro score 5 on Saturday, but the the customary defensive lapse that will allow Huddersfield at least one in reply.
5-1 Boro........ ( I can see nurse coming to sedate me as I finish writing 😉 )
At £1.25 a copy it’s palpably obvious to me that the days of the Gazette as a daily newspaper are over. The ongoing situation regarding Michael Carrick has shown that the reporters are finding it difficult to find new stories to report not only on sport but other news as well. As a former newspaper delivery boy I’m sad to see this situation but both the former North Eastern Weekly News and the Cleveland Standard went by the wayside over 60 years ago. The Northern Echo and Yorkshire Post seem to have our area covered fairly well, whilst the Gazette under its misnomer of Teesside Live is anything but Live. The Hartlepool Mail has decided to become a weekly newspaper, and surely it’s time for the Gazette to follow suit.
It's fair to say that the skills you need to be a top manager are not the same the ones you need to be a top player though there is clearly an overlap. It seems really hard to figure out which top players will make good managers. I think it's probably also true that most new managers fail and rarely get a second chance. I get the impression that all managers have played at some level but that most of the best managers were not absolute top players. An obvious counter-example to that was Brian Clough.
I do think that to make a success of your first managerial job that you need a large helping of good luck and the right team to starts with. You need a team that is capable of doing much better but currently isn't; fans and club officials who will stick with you and a run of games that lets you build up some momentum.
What I like about Carrick is that he has done an apprenticeship over the past few years and seems to have taken becoming a manager seriously. He's roughly following the same route as Karanka and McClaren. You can also say the same about Leo and, although he's just starting, Cattermole. Even Woodgate did spend 12 months shadowing Pulis. Conversely, players like Gerrard, Lampard, Robson, Southgate went straight into management and suffered for it. Southgate has shown that he is a top class manager but he almost got broken by the Boro job.
I do suspect that Gibson would have preferred to appoint from within but I don't think Leo was offered a run of games to make his case; if he had been we would have seen him try and reshape the team immediately rather than oversee 2-3 games of continuity tactics. Gibson has long wanted to replicate the Anfield boot room method but that does require a mix of external and internal appointments to ensure that it doesn't become insular.
Personally, I'm not too worried about this appointment taking some time. We absolutely need to get it right; not just Carrick but the support staff. This season is largely a write-off now but I think it can still be a positive season.
Powmill Naermore and Deleriad
You’re right. Brian Clough and Jack Charlton made it, but Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore were failures.
I like Gerrard, he did a great job at Rangers. Pulling them out of the mire.
He has always fancied the Liverpool job eventually, hence the move to the Premier League to enhance his reputation, which now hasn't worked out. Would I like to see him at Boro........yes.
@malcolm. I think any of us could have done a reasonable job at Rangers given the resources available. 😎
So I am taking deep inhalations of foam and expecting we will see Boro score 5 on Saturday, but the the customary defensive lapse that will allow Huddersfield at least one in reply.
Blimey Powmill, please can I have some of whatever it is you’re having?!!
Personally, I think we should win, but not perhaps by a cricket score. I’ll settle for 1-0 or 2-0.
And many thanks to Andy for another excellent opener.
Thanks Andy for another excellent starter.
I don’t know why but I have a feeling that Huddersfield might just be more of a challenge than Wigan and they certainly give us a lesson last season at the Riverside albeit they are not the same side.
I would like us to start showing some consistency and whilst we won’t win every game until the end of the season I would like to see us put a run of, say, 10+ games where we are unbeaten as that really will build confidence.
To do that then defensively we have to be better, particularly with dead ball situations. We also need Giles to be replaced at LB, we need defenders who are prepared to put their body on the line, not turn their back when a forward shapes to shoot.
As much as we really need a win, if we can’t then I would be happy with a draw if it contributes toward that unbeaten run I mentioned.
I also remain concerned that if MC is not in position or confirmed as manager prior to kick off that it might have an adverse reaction on the players if doubt about the next appointment remains. 😎
Powmil - I will be delighted with ANY win at home to Huddersfield. I daren't even think about 5 goals but obviously would happily take them. Another 3 points would make things look rather more healthy and then we can look to climb the table rather than fearing the Drop which has loomed threateningly for several weeks.
Political turmoil, football turmoil, economic turmoil, industrial turmoil and turmoil of a more serious kind in Ukraine; it's all go, these days. I bought a newpaper yesterday (The Times since you ask) but I didn't even open it. By the time I got home from Northallerton, the content of the newspaper had been overtaken by events and the paper was already out of date. The headline: "Truss faces more turmoil after sacking Braverman". I remember those days but so much has happened since then!
Finally - for 2 minutes' worth of a smile, log onto YouTube and the "Braverman Shanty" - the Marsh Family adaptation of The Wellerman. Very good. So quick off the mark and very musical.
Nice Headliner Andy, thank you, and also hopefully easier to put together given the uplift from the Wigan result.
I am also expecting a tougher game from Huddersfield and I am still concerned at our defensive frailties. I would drop Giles for Bola and then start with the same team as Wednesday. I am hoping that the players will be up for the game and will have a little more confidence in their approach.
I also expect unfortunately for us to concede, which means we will have to score two.
I to have continued reservations over Carrick and his apparent reluctance to commit to MFC. Yes, he wants his own cronies and some kind of guarantee over transfers, however Mr Gibson is giving him an opportunity to start on the Managerial ladder at a decent club, potential and backing. What more does he want.
If it is not settled over the next day or two, I would chase him.
Apparently Crooks is suspended tomorrow so that probably means PM back in midfield? 😎
Apparently Crooks is suspended tomorrow so that probably means PM back in midfield? 😎
Oh no 😱 (Paddy back I am referring to) A belated thanks to Andy R for another excellent opener.
Come on BORO.
Boro had gained only one away point before Wednesday. Huddersfield are in that same position at this moment, but that point was recently a 3-3 draw at Luton who have just won at Norwich this week. So by that reckoning the Terriers are due an away win in this poorest Championship for many a long time. By all accounts we probably all expect Boro to win on Saturday, but this league is full of inconsistencies, so any result is possible. I’m not going to make a prediction suffice to say that I would not be surprised if Boro lost. Wigan were so poor on Wednesday that I’m discounting that win as if Boro have turned the corner.
Apparently Crooks is suspended tomorrow so that probably means PM back in midfield? 😎
Or an opportunity to push Giles up and have Bola play at full back ?
I enjoyed your comment re. Defenders turning their backs on opponents having a shot. Before we took charge of the game I noticed some pitiful play, as in, our box full of opposition players, we get possession, front edge of box, facing up field, unmarked, and he looked idly around for someone to pass to, and lays it off to someone ten yards away, still in our defensive area, who gets robbed at once. Hmmm!
Good to see everyone feeling positive about tomorrow’s game. I agree that we should win but it seems to me that it is the kind of game perfectly set up to be a “typical Boro” result………….
Thanks for the Braverman Shanty tip. Never heard of the Marsh family, but having been knocked out by the Shanty I have spent a very pleasant 20 minutes following up the Marsh's other work which is uniformly excellent.
Another bonus from the blog.
All quiet on the manager situation, what's going on?
@lenmasterman - The two parents (who perform with their 4 children) met whilst history students at Downing College, Cambridge. Obviously their musical videos and rewriting or rewording of popular songs started as a product of those long days & nights of lockdown during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. "Well...it was something to do!".
I don't REALLY want to do this but my mate is about to go abroad on holiday after tomorrow's game against Huddersfield, so we'd better just do a last minute check to ensure the drinks at the Ploated Pheasant are up to scratch....
But since I'm here: 2-1 to Boro tomorrow. There - not a ridiculously ambitious prediction, not a 5-0 or something like that, so hopefully the gods will not be provoked by it.
We enjoyed a day out in Whitby. Lunch at the Magpie, naturally.
Also bought the away shirt with number 21 at the back. A bit biased, there. And the AV's book on the Boro shirts.
We had a stadion tour today, changing rooms, pitch "inspection", etc. Anthony Vickers joined me and wife for the tour. He has not been to all places even he works in the East Stand.
Leo has marked the changing room with a sign: "Any mobile phone used 90 min before kick off means a £ 250 fine."
No, we did not see Mr. Carrick at the stadium. A pity.
Ttomorrow we will go early to the stadium and will hang around the FanZone. I will contact Dormo tomorrow, too. Let's see if we can see with a chat after the match in his local, perhaps.
I hope to see a win for Leo. He is a great chap. Up the Boro!