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Boro v Luton
 

Boro v Luton

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Andy R
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Right then ladies and gents. Put the cricket bat down, stick the golf clubs back in the shed and the let the dog have that rugby ball (though you can continue to ignore the World Cup if you like) – Boro are back!

After four weeks locked away at Rockcliffe, with only a brief jolly for the boys up in Edinburgh to break things up, Boro return to competitive action on Saturday with a home encounter against Luton Town, kick-off 3pm.

With no injuries reported at the time of writing, a new coach on board and a successful friendly against Hibs under our belts, Boro appear to have had a serene break from the Championship grind with Michael Carrick and his staff afforded the unfamiliar mid-season luxury of an extended period on the training pitches.

That hasn’t quite been the case for opponents Luton Town, who had their manager pinched by Southampton just as they were putting their feet up. The Hatters didn’t waste much time however, appointing Boro interviewee Rob Edwards just a week later.

Riverside regulars will recall that Edwards was a short-odds favourite for the Boro job at one point, having been unsurprisingly flung out of Watford’s violently revolving door back in September. Perhaps his laptop was damaged in the commotion as his PowerPoint failed to convince the Boro hierarchy despite reportedly being Kieran Scott’s “best mate in football”.

Edwards takes over with Luton in 11th place in the Championship, four places and just three points above Boro but with an inferior goal difference, meaning Boro will overtake them with victory on Saturday.

Whilst former boss Nathan Jones was clearly highly rated, in truth Luton had been struggling going into the World Cup break with no wins in the last five games. A brutal 4-0 defeat to rivals Watford was followed by drab draws against Sunderland, Reading and Rotherham with a loss to Stoke along the way. Perhaps the injection of hope that a new manager can bring suited Luton, who certainly didn’t do a great deal to stand in Jones’ way.

Certainly Boro know a thing or two about the “new manager bounce”. Over the ten games since Chris Wilder’s departure, Boro are in the top six for form with five wins and two draws, scoring a much improved 16 goals along the way. Carrick, of course, has lost just once – in his debut game. Since then, it’s gradually become better and better, culminating in an excellent 2-1 win away at Norwich last time out.

Seemingly the only complication for Carrick this weekend is who should fill in for midfield schemer Riley McGree, who may be unavailable having only completed his whirlwind World Cup duty with the Socceroos on Saturday. McGree, like so many of his Boro teammates, had an uncertain start to the campaign but has quickly established himself in a key floating role for Carrick. On the teamsheet, the fit-again Duncan Watmore looks the obvious replacement but McGree’s role has developed into something much more fluid than a standard left midfielder/winger. The Aussie may start on the left but often drifts into central areas to create a dangerous overload from which he can link with the born-again Akpom and industrious Forss. It may be the Boro have to adapt their tactics slightly if the more direct Watmore is selected.

That said, the four-week break may have changed the outlook for many a Boro player. The likes of Bola and Djiksteel in particular were surprise omissions on several occasions since Carrick took charge for reasons that were not clear. If fitness was the concern, then you’d expect the abundant training time would have resolved such issues and perhaps they are in serious contention again. Not that Ryan Giles or Tommy Smith have let Boro down in any case, with Giles growing into his fullback role game by game and demonstrating his crossing ability once again in the friendly at Easter Road.

So between the break in games and Luton’s new manager, it’s even more difficult than usual to know how either side will set up or to predict the outcome. Boro’s feelgood factor has endured throughout, however, and I expect the majority will fancy a first home win for the Boro boss.

If not, you might want to get those golf clubs out of the shed again. What’s that you say? Boro fore?


K P in Spain
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Thanks Andy for getting us back on the road as I have missed my usual fix of all things Boro.

For me the team should be unchanged apart from the McGree conundrum; will he be back, will he have more time off or is he raring to go and able to play?

Watmore has proved successful in that position before so if McGree is not available for whatever reason then Duncan’s the man to get the nod for me.

I hope we pick up where we left off before the untimely break and that we do not suffer from the new manager bounce of the opposition kind.

Boro 2-0 Hatters.  CoB 😎

 


exmil
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Thanks Andy for another great opener, it’s good to get back to all thing’s MFC, although I have not been starved of football having watched live nearly every World Cup match. I must admit there have been some exciting games, with some shocks along the way (Germany and Belgium not making it out of the group stage) now England have the mighty French in the quarter final, but before that I will be at the Riverside for the contest against Luton.

Come on BORO.


Powmill-Naemore
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More than par for the course Andy, thank you for getting us started again.

There is still a fair way to go in this season as we have had an extended break after the outward round of fixtures, but now starting the turn for the back round where it really is all there to play for. I think we are all agreed that before the break we finally got the albatross that was CW off from round our neck, and we finished with what might have seemed like an unlikely birdie against the Canaries. Now with everyone (save for our young World Cup star) having had the benefit of 4 weeks of tutelage under our new magician, lets us hope they will drive on to pull another fine win out of the hat on Saturday to putt us in no doubt that our progression over the last ten games was no illusion.

I can't disagree with any of AndyR, KP or Exmil that we should probably go unchanged, except for swapping out young McGree for Watmore. Really looking forward to the rest of this season now.

CoB.


Malcolm
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Slightly off topic but a blow for Coventry City FC

https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/coventry-stadium-eviction-mike-ashley-28656656


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David in Cumbria
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Thanks Andy for reintroducing us to the football that gets us out of our comfortable houses to be either tormented or delighted over the long seasons rather than being stuck at home for the 4 yearly TV extravaganza. The last match I went to was the poor scoreless draw against Huddersfield before Michael Carrick was appointed so I am hoping for much better. 

My sister is ill so I am travelling over on the Friday so that I can visit her on the Saturday morning. I will miss the 3pm Friday World Cup match and along with all the other Boro supporters will miss the Saturday afternoon match. I will also miss some of the 7pm games as I will be enjoying (hopefully) my evening meals at the hotel but I expect I will be rushing the Saturday meal. A good Boro win over Luton will mean I can enjoy a celebratory glass of wine before watching England and it will be a bonus if I feel like going to the bar to celebrate an England win though France seem to have more exceptional players. 


MW in Darwin
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Thanks for the intro Andy as we get back to proper football. I think that McGree will play on Saturday. He only played 53 minutes against Argentina on Saturday and in all of the other games never played more than 74 minutes. He will be match fit and i should think he will be buzzing to play Luton after Messi last Saturday. I would imagine he left Doha on Monday and it is only a 7 and a half hour flight to Manchester.


deleriad
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Thanks, Andy.

Part 2 of the Carrick Evolution starts. I suspect that we'll see the normal 1st 11 with McGree on the bench and Watmore starting. As much as the physical demands of the world cup, McGree may need time to recover from the emotional impact plus flight time and so on. Watmore is the obvious replacement with McGree coming on after an hour or so.

My feeling after the Hibs game is that there is potential in the U21s but none of them, Willis included, are ready yet. Boyd Munce looked tidy and would be a like for like replacement for McGree. Crooks also looked like an important player but one without a best position. I thought he struggled as a 10 and let's face it, he's only going to play there if Akpom's crocked.

Speaking of crocked, the lack of sightings of Clarke makes me think that this is a significantly worse injury than anyone thought. May even be something that was missed at his original medical.

It will be interesting to see what effect Edwards has. Edwards and Corberan were the two early front runners for our job. Luton arguably over-performed under Jones so this will be a test of whether Edwards is a genuinely good manager or just got lucky for a while at Forest Green Rovers.

Despite the relative positions in the table, we are presumably favourites for this match. Despite being fired, Luton have won 3, drawn 5 and lost 2 of their last 10 matches which is probably what you would expect from them. They were previously playing 3 at the back so Edwards will have had a "pre-season" to simply tweak things rather than overhaul everything. 

Overall, for the Carrick evolution to stay in track we do need to win this one. Personally, this feels like it might end up as a draw with the match over-shadowed by the world cup. 


K P in Spain
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@mw-in-darwin.  Some good info on McGree's game time of which I was unaware and given the relative short flight time back then he clearly should be in contention for involvement on Saturday. Thanks for that MW. 😎


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PaulInBoro
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Boro annual results brings SG support into sharp focus

 


Original Fat Bob
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Thanks Andy for a welcome return to the opener for the second half of our Diasboro season.

Whilst the previous bird has flown the nest whilst ruffling a few feathers at the Boro, our new manager seems to have started a new togetherness and engendered a real team spirit at MFC. This is not only at the first team but also the coaches and trining and recruitment teams. 

It’s nice to see Leadbitter now part of the first team coaching staff, Cattermole with the u18 and Downing has joined to assist with the u16 side. A great idea to have former players part of the back room team as the current Academy players can mingle with their former heroes and aspire to their standards.

I’m certainly looking forward to the game on Saturday and going for. 2-0 win!

Thanks again Andy you’ve set the bar high again !

OFB


exmil
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Ken Smith
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I still haven’t watched any World Cup football nor even read any reports of any matches yet. Strange though that some people having been critical about the human rights issues in Qatar and the number of deaths caused in the construction of these  false stadia are now forgetting their principles as long as England are winning football matches.

One wonders how football sports journalists would have reacted to missing their dosage of football during the six years of the Second World War. I find that it is nauseous in the extreme that World Cup football has continued to be reported as if it was essential to one’s life in the grand scheme of things when poverty and famine is affecting so much of the World. I’m happy that domestic football is about to return this weekend, but sorry that the incessant rescheduling of television programmes has upset some of the older generation who might not even like football whatsoever and now have the added burden of having to pay a licence fee for the privilege of doing so.

I’m fortunate in that I’ve scores of videos and compact discs of Boro matches, as well as Open Golf Championships and Ryder Cup memories, as well as Cricket and Rugby League matches that have enlightened my life in these past few weeks, but that has been my own choice to watch and not inflicted on me by the    television companies. Thankfully Championship football returns this weekend and we can at last settle down to watch REAL football once again.

This post was modified 2 months ago 2 times by Ken Smith

Martin Bellamy
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@ken Personally, I’m happy to pay 44p per day to have access to the full panoply of BBC services. I’m 67 so maybe you wouldn’t count me as part of the “older generation”. 

As for the World Cup - it’s the second largest world sporting event and even though I don’t agree about the hosts, my not watching will have no affect on the outcome nor who FIFA grants future cups.

I think you’d kick yourself if England were to win and you didn’t witness the game. Go on, give it a go on Saturday. 


deleriad
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Posted by: @martin-bellamy

@ken Personally, I’m happy to pay 44p per day to have access to the full panoply of BBC services. I’m 67 so maybe you wouldn’t count me as part of the “older generation”. 

As for the World Cup - it’s the second largest world sporting event and even though I don’t agree about the hosts, my not watching will have no affect on the outcome nor who FIFA grants future cups.

I think you’d kick yourself if England were to win and you didn’t witness the game. Go on, give it a go on Saturday. 

I stated that I wouldn't watch it and I haven't. I have kept aware of the results and it has been a shame to miss what sound like some really good games. Will me not watching have any meaningful impact to anyone but me? No. However, you have to live by your principles and I need to live by mine.


exmil
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Looked at pictures on MFC website of Boro training this morning and it was good to see Riley McGree there.

https://www.mfc.co.uk/news/2022/december/06/boro-prepare-for-championship-return/

Come on BORO.


Ken Smith
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I have the same disdain for the Olympic Games and the Wimbledon tennis fortnight also, but for different reasons. I’ve not watched either of these events since what were once amateur sports became professional. Let’s not kid ourselves about the team GB in the Olympic Games either. The purpose of winning gold, silver or bronze medals is for personal gloryification, rarely for team bonding and I’ve never watched either since they became professional sports. The whole idea of publishing medal tables is anethma to what sport is or should be all about and purely an exercise in propaganda to show how each super power is proceeding against its fellow competitors. Another table that shows the futility what sport should really be all about, and I don’t really give a toss whether England win the World Cup or not. However I do agree that it is a matter of personal choice though.

 

This post was modified 2 months ago by Ken Smith

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Ken Smith
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Posted by: @ken

I have the same disdain for the Olympic Games and the Wimbledon tennis fortnight also, but for different reasons. I’ve not watched either of these events since what were once amateur sports became professional. Let’s not kid ourselves about the team GB in the Olympic Games either. The purpose of winning gold, silver or bronze medals is for personal gloryification, rarely for team bonding and I’ve never watched either since they became professional sports. The whole idea of publishing medal tables is anethma to what sport is or should be all about and purely an exercise in propaganda to show how each super power is proceeding against its fellow competitors. Another table that shows the futility what sport should really be all about, and I don’t really give a toss whether England win the World Cup or not. However I do agree that it is a matter of personal choice though, or I wouldn’t hate chocolate so much.

 


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Original Fat Bob
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@exmil 

Thanks for the photos it’s nice to see Leadbitter involved with the coaching of the first team.

OFB


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Martin Bellamy
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@deleriad As always, my principles have developed casters - I’m full of respect for you following yours.


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jarkko
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Posted by: @original-fat-bob

@exmil 

Thanks for the photos it’s nice to see Leadbitter involved with the coaching of the first team.

OFB

I second to that, OFB. And it was nice to see our newest addition to the coaching side in the pictures, too.

Carrick and Woodgate were last week joined by Aaron Danks, who swapped Aston Villa for Boro, with the trio enjoying the opportunity of some prolonged training ground work with the squad ahead of this week's game against Luton Town.

Up the Boro!


Ken Smith
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I realise that not watching any World Cup matches will have no effect whatsoever in the grand scheme of things. However it’s no big deal to go through a little bit of self sacrifice. If I’ve given the impression that I’m a ‘holier-than-thou’ sort of person I apologise. I’m just a normal Christian (if there is such a thing as being a normal Christian) who lived through the Second World War when churches and chapels were fuller than they are today, as most of us had to give up items which we take for granted now. I don’t make New Years Resolutions but do try to make some self sacrifices during the period of Lent. I never try to change people’s opinions as I’m not an Evangelist, but I do have my own principles and like everyone else I am a sinner and do somethings that I’m not proud of.

I just thought that this was a good opportunity to make some sacrifice to salve my conscience; no big deal for someone like me who had lost a father a week before Christmas in 1969 through a car accident, or the ultimate deprivation of losing a wife through cervical cancer almost 14 years ago. At both times I thought “Why Them?” and was angry with God not for myself, but for those whose lives had been cut short. However after a period of mourning I realised that life must go on, being angry with God is self-destructive.

I hope that my actions are not confused as sanctimonious rubbish. If one chooses to watch the World Cup that’s ok by me. Everyone has the right to choose, but I just think that the media are over zealous in their coverage and my choice is to ignore it, as is my right.

This post was modified 2 months ago 2 times by Ken Smith

Forever Dormo
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Thanks again for the starter, Andy, and for the various responses sent to it, especially Powmill's extremely punny effort.

I am hopeful for the second part of the season but not, I believe, unrealistic.  We will need to see how the team performs over the next month or so.  If a steady climb up the table is maintained then, as the January window opens and the rest of the season is laid out in front of us, we can reassess just how far we might let our dreams fly. I'm not making any predictions but the last couple of months after CW left the club makes me shake my head at what MIGHT have been achieved if only everybody at the club had previously been rowing in the same direction. 

We do, at least, have the opportunity to make its own future from here onwards.


Philip of Huddersfield
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I’ll just add my twopenneth about the World Cup. I’ve been watching the games and have to say I’ve enjoyed them particularly as the lesser nations have reduced the gap in ability and have created a few surprises.
I’ve  also watched them as , at my age, who knows it may be the last one I watch. To me , the competition is all about football.

The issues about some of the things that have gone on in Qater have not really been fully aired or pursued despite the protesters having had many years to do so. Their complaints only came as the World Cup was about to start. Far too late and too little.

So , I’m forgetting about the issues and watching the games purely as sporting events.

Obviosly I fully respect other views and those who, as a principle, haven’t watched any games.

Meanwhile, it’s good to welcome back Championship football and hoping Boro pick up from where they left off and so any kind of win on Saturday will be acceptable and even offset a loss by England v France

Philip of Huddersfield 


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Powmill-Naemore
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@ken at 9.31am. Well said Ken.


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Powmill-Naemore
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While I was prepared to forgo the World Cup, maybe only dipping in to watch England and Wales play their games   Mrs. Powmill caught me wholly unawares by following and watching all the group games and especially cheering on the "minnows". She is never interested in football as a rule.

We will be watching England play on Saturday and I am very happy to say that my beautiful Scottish lassie is not one of those that answers the question about who they support with "whoever England is playing". Sadly Powmill junior feels the need to taunt his dad by being in the latter camp!

When all is said and done, it is Boro winning convincingly on Saturday that is most important to me of the two games.

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

Plato
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@ken 

One must agree that what you say is correct, but, and here come the doubts. We were taught to love the idea of displaying our health and vitality by the Greeks, and we absorbed the lesson well. All over England, Young men strive to emulate the Gods on some sport's field each weekend, and we consider it time well spent if we witness it. Even in private, records are broken, and great fame is achieved, witness the Four minute mile, in Oxford, in private, in the fifties?    


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Martin Bellamy
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@plato I’ve got to say that I’ve spent many days of my younger life running around a sports pitch but not once did I think I was emulating a god. To be fair, no one watching thought so either.


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Ken Smith
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@ plato  

I too used to watch the Summer Olympic Games,  the first one being on television from Helsinki in 1952 when Great Britain won only one gold medal and that was when Harry Llewelyn riding a horse called Foxhunter won in if can remember correctly was a team event. However the hero of those games was a Czech runner named Emil Zatopek having won gold medals in both the 10,000 and 5,000 metres decided to compete in the Marathon on the final day and won that too. I visited that stadium in Helsinki in 2010 and there is a photograph of the great athlete in the foyer. Also if I can remember correctly, there was a statue of Lasse Viren, a fine Finnish long distance runner who won 4 gold medals in two consecutive Olympics, but I’m not sure when but in the 1970s. No doubt Jarkko can fill in the details. 

However my point was that at the time certainly in 1952 all the competitors were amateurs; they may have received funding for the Olympics, but in essence they were not professional athletes in real life except maybe the Russians who were military personnel, and that’s when I lost interest.


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jarkko
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@ken Lasse Virén (born 22 July 1949) is a Finnish former long-distance runner, winner of four gold medals at the 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics in Munich and Montreal respectively.

Viren has a statue close to the Olympic stadium like Paavo Nurmi, who won nine (9) gold and three silver medals in the Olympics in 1920, 1924 and 1928.

Nurmi was also a long distance runner. Along with Pele, Nurmi is often considered one of the top athletes ever.

My father and oldest brother were present at the Helsinki Olympics. I remember my father talking fondly about Emil Zatopek. As a long-distance runner, he was greatly loved in Finland.

I was not born by the times the Olympics were here, but I did see Real Madrid play Eintracht Frankfurt at the Stadium in August 2022. It was the Super Cup final. Up the Boro! 


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