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Boro v Millwall
 

Boro v Millwall

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Andy R
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After Boro swiftly resolved any issues with future fixture pile-ups courtesy of a 1-5 FA Cup thrashing at the hands of Premier League Brighton, attention can now return to the important stuff – The Championship.

Despite our excellent league form, Boro were always a distant second favourite in the cup match. Perhaps the Championship’s very best in Burnley and Sheffield United can mix it with the lower reaches of the Premier League but we are not yet the Championship’s best and Brighton are far from the Premier League’s worst. England’s top tier has levels within levels and Brighton currently occupy a slot just below the elite and it showed on Saturday as Boro were given a humbling lesson in possession football and clinical finishing.

Perhaps Boro’s giant-killing exploits of last season when we saw off the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham had raised expectations but that just goes to show how well Boro were performing twelve months ago, when we really did play Premier League standard football for a few months.

Whilst there was some gnashing of teeth on Teesside – and in fairness conceding five was below par – it seems the majority of Boro fans have inherited the calm, unfazed approach of Head Coach Michael Carrick and can quickly move on.

Move on we will, as Boro next face playoff-chasing rivals Millwall at The Riverside on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

On paper, this encounter looks to be between two sides with different approaches but matching effectiveness. Gary Rowett’s Millwall currently sit level on points with Boro, albeit having played one game fewer, but a superior goal difference keeps Boro ahead.

Boro are fourth in the form table over the last six games with a whopping five wins but Millwall sit sixth themselves, with three wins and two draws from theirs including a 2-0 win away at Watford on Boxing Day.

Whilst Boro focus on possession and astute positional play, The Lions tend to play an organised, direct game that doesn’t allow too many opportunities for opponents but equally seems to carve out chances for themselves, particularly from set pieces. With 26 goals conceded so far, they are one of the better defences in the division and whilst their 32 goals scored is some way behind Boro’s 41, it’s still slightly more than third placed Blackburn (30) and fourth placed Watford (31), whilst they are third overall in the division for xG (Boro are eighth). Indeed, it appears that poor finishing has been the standout issue for Rowett’s men thus far.

That hasn’t been the case for Dutch attacking midfielder Zian Flemming, who has ten goals from just twenty appearances. Flemming appears to have nicely slotted into the space vacated by Jed Wallace after the latter moved to West Brom over the summer and has a solid goalscoring record from his time in the Eredivisie, this now being the fourth consecutive season in which he has netted a double figure tally. It’s impressive stuff from the 6ft 1in 24-year-old who appears to have been a smart piece of recruitment from the south London side.

One positive for Boro is that Millwall’s away form is considerably worse than their home form. Over the season they are twentieth for away results with just three wins from the twelve fixtures. At home, they are the league’s second best with eight wins from thirteen so playing them on their travels definitely tips the balance in Boro’s favour.

Boro will be sweating on the availability of the increasingly influential Darragh Lenihan, particularly to counter that set piece threat, but otherwise the only question for Carrick is whether to start new striker Cameron Archer. The on-loan Aston Villa man was given around 25 minutes for his debut at the weekend but could be in line for a first start having had a week on the training fields with his teammates. Lenihan’s fitness, however, is likely to have a greater influence on how this game plays out between two well-matched sides.

So Boro should once again dominate possession and Millwall haven’t been at their best on the road but otherwise this ought to be a highly competitive encounter.

If Lenihan returns I think Boro can sneak another win but I would be concerned if he’s unavailable given both his leadership and that his understudies are of lesser quality and perhaps undercooked.

Let’s hear those predictions, Diasborans….


Original Fat Bob
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 1897
 

Thanks Andy and happy new year.

Hopefully the start of an exciting year which will see Boro get promoted !

A hard game but I’m going for a 2-1 win for Boro. We can’t seem to keep clean sheets these days !

OFB


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Clive Hurren
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Excellent, Andy. Thank you. 

I can see us drawing this one. Still, I’ll go with Bob’s 2-1. Frankly, any win will do to settle a few incipient nerves after the Brighton humiliation. 


David in Cumbria
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 239
 

Thanks Andy for your preview of our return to the real world. Returning to our good form in the rest of the Championship games is all that matters now, though Brighton showed we would still have to improve a lot if we do get promoted. 

No further rail strikes announced (yet) so I will be at the Riverside. A run of three wins seems rather unusual for Boro so I am nervous about whether we can continue and we will certainly be tested by the teams also seeking playoff places (though Typical Boro would also be tested playing teams at the bottom of the league!). I agree that we need the pairing of Fry and Lenihan back especially as when I have seen McNair recently it looks as if he is struggling for speed. Bola's injury problems may mean we need to bring in a left back this month to cover if Giles struggles defensively in any match but I still think, in our present line up, he is too often on his own against against attacks down his side. Jones still not getting back to last season's form is disappointing. While I didn't expect to see Crooks playing as a centre forward, last season he did show that he was able to get into positions to score regularly and I prefer to have him there rather than Akpom having to move from his new deeper role. From what I have read about Archer, he also prefers to move around rather than holding a central position so it will be up to Carrick to find the best combination for our strikers.  

I never give a score prediction as my normal pessimism would have us losing every match but if we end up one goal ahead in a match I will go home happy and a bigger gap is very welcome.     


Plato
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Posts: 553
 

@david-in-cumbria 

Two things make me look on the bright side. One, we chose to make a couple of errors in a cup tie, two, we allowed our winger onto the pitch in same cup tie, not a pleasant experience. I do not think he will be tried again anytime soon. It is not a case of him playing poorly, if only! It is a case of sheer lack of energy, he seems to be permanently in a crowd of players, miles from the opponents goal, with no idea how he might change that situation. He was not the reason we were beaten by Brighton. But he was invited to run about like a crazy man, and maybe get a consolation goal. Big mistake, it ended the match, and not in a Good way.   


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Forever Dormo
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AndyR - Thanks for the starter.  I would be delighted with the 2-1 win suugested by OFB but would be happy with any win at all.  A clean sheet would be wonderful.  I also agree that we really need Lenighan fit and playing so I hope his "precautionary" resting for the FA Cup game against Brighton has had the desired effect and that he is now 100% fit again. Fingers crossed...


K P in Spain
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 1507
 

Thanks Andy for an excellent opener, as always.  

I am not sure why but I have an uneasy feeling about this one.  

Not sure if I am wondering if the new manager effect may come to an end or if my confidence has been shaken by last  weeks drubbing, albeit to a very good PL team.

Perhaps it’s the fear of an old boy, George Saville, coming back to haunt us.  Added to which games against Millwall are generally tight affairs.  

If we are to win then it is likely to be 2-1 as we can’t keep a clean sheet.  I just hope my nervousness proves unfounded. CoB 😎

 


Ken Smith
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 1986
 

Whilst not having good news from my cancer consultant this afternoon, I do have some good news for Forever Dormo as I have unearthed a 269 page book on Sir William Turner and his school that was written and published in 1975 by a former teacher of the school H.Elliott who may well have been one of your teachers before his retirement. As a fellow Old Coathamian I am willing to donate this book to you, but am housebound with no transport since I sold my car about 3 months ago. If you still live locally and would like this book please phone me on 01642 505626 and I’ll give you my address in Redcar. 

As well as a history of the Turner family it shows several black and white photographs of the original school in Coatham Road and ‘pen pictures’ of many of the long-serving teachers who you mentioned recently. It also lists all the head boys, and various ex-pupils who became famous, and refers to all the Founders Day speeches from 1920 onwards. One other interesting fact is that Sir William Turner’s School was founded in Kirkleatham in 1862, which is 20 years before the birth of Middlesbrough FC. I also have a small handbook of Redcar Cricket Club which you can have if you’re interested.


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Malcolm
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@ken Take care Ken, sorry to about your news.


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Clive Hurren
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Yes, very best wishes Ken. 


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jarkko
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@ken All the best wishes and take care of yourself. UTB!


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K P in Spain
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@ken  Sorry to hear of your worrying news.  Sending best wishes and positive thoughts. 😎


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lenmasterman
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Best wishes, Ken.


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jarkko
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Some praise for our most successful manager ever. And why Steve McClaren is Erik ten Hag's perfect partner at Manchester United

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/manchester-united-ten-hag-mcclaren-25944776

Happy days with McClaren. Pity we lost the UEFA Cup final but we had some excellent comebacks in the Cup. And winning the EFL Cup was unique, of course. Up the Boro!


Forever Dormo
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 480
 

@ken - Like others, I am very sorry to hear about the news from your oncologist. However I send my very best wishes and hope the outlook turns out better than feared. I mean, who would have predicted Southampton 2-0 Manchester City yesterday? Probably none of the experts steeped in football and with close knowledge of both clubs!

Mr Elliott taught me English to O-Level and A-Level.  I remember him very well and with great fondness. I specificially remember at A-Level when most of our books had been selected, there was a "debate" about whether the last book we were to study should be Milton's "Paradise Lost" or either "Sons and Lovers" or "Lady Chatterley's Lover" by DH Lawrence (I can't remember which of those two Lawrence books). My argument, at a time when I might have eventually decided to study Eng Lit at University, was that Milton's work was a pillar of English literature and it seemed odd to ignore it in favour of an author whose work was currently in vogue and who had died only just over 40 years earlier, but who might not be so highly regarded in centuries to come, whilst Milton's work had stood the test of more than three centuries.  I suspect (in those more staid times) the lads wanted to study Lawrence, perceiving his work to be more racy, but we eventually did Milton, so I was pleased.

If it's OK with you, I could phone you in a week (maybe two, depending on appointments as I am currently ferrying my wife to various appointments at Northallerton, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool) and I can then arrange to pay you a call in Redcar?  I'd love to read the book about SWT.

Anyway, keep yourself safe and warm.

This post was modified 2 weeks ago by Forever Dormo

deleriad
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 450
 

@ken sorry to hear your news. 


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deleriad
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Posts: 450
 

All of Chuba's Championship goals this season. Every one is either in or around the 6 yard box.

https://www.skysports.com/watch/video/sports/football/12784466/chuba-akpom-championship-goals


Forever Dormo
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 480
 

@deleriad - Thanks for the Chuba Akpom goal-fest.  Enjoyed reminding myself about those goals!  Let's hope Chuba can add to his total against Millwall this coming Saturday.

This post was modified 2 weeks ago by Forever Dormo

jarkko
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Posts: 1496
 

@deleriad Unfortunately NOT available outside of the UK, though. UBT!


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John Richardson
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@ken

Ken,

Sorry to hear your news, just stay as positive as you possibly can and keep on doing what you do so well on this blog.

My very best wishes,

John


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K P in Spain
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@jarkko.  Not available outside the UK unless you have a VPN! 😊😎


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K P in Spain
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My uneasiness about the Millwall game has further increased having heard from MC that Lenihan is unlikely to be available for the match! 

Never been entirely convinced about McNair as a CB and even less so given his lack of matches.  ☹️😎


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Powmill-Naemore
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Posts: 815
 

Ken. I'd like to add my thoughts and prayers in your support to everyone's best wishes. 

Andy, my thanks to add to everyone else's for the excellent read to startvthis thread.

Some good posts and links. So thanks to everyone!

It will be interesting to see how we react after last weekend. I rather think we will come out on top, though Millwall will be a tough nut to crack. 2-0 to is, on the basis we have to keep a clean sheet sometime soon.


Original Fat Bob
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Posts: 1897
 

Thinking of you Ken 

OFB


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Original Fat Bob
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@k-p-in-spain 

let’s face it PM has always been a class player and I’m sure that Woody has been putting in the extra hours with him and Fry (and hopefully the goalkeepers!) this week in the training ground

I’ll stick to my 2-1

OFB


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Allan in Bahrain
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@ken Sorry about the news Ken.  We shall be thinking about you and keeping our fingers crossed. Your blogs are certainly priceless and long may they continue.


Philip of Huddersfield
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 260
 

It looks as though Lenihan will miss the Millwall game with McNair being the obvious replacement. He is not the commanding centre back that is needed and so the chance of a clean sheet is less likely- as is a Boro victory.

Millwall are on a good run of form and therefore I’ll take any kind of victory.

Philip of Huddersfield 


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Pedro de Espana
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 580
 

Dear Ken, as with all the previous posts, I hope that your situation soon improves.Take care and keep busy. We certainly look forward to your posts.

Andy, thank you for the great Headliner, well written as always.

Like KP, I feel a little uneasy with this game, and unfortunately I think the Boro could be bullied by Millwall into defeat. I still do not have full confidence in the defence and their inability to keep a clean sheet. We also still require more pace and creativity in and around the midfield. 

Jones appears to have some issues and has been dropped to be truthful. On  the other side, I do not think McGree others enough support to Giles. 

However, we have done well under MC, let’s see how we do over the next few games. I believe all this talk of promotion even through the play offs is a tall order. Hopefully the roll will continue.


Malcolm
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 510
 

I think that Jones should be played as an out and out winger and not as  a wing back. 

When I think about great wingers in the past,their job was simply being a winger.

                    As for Mcnair, he has been a good player for the club but I feel now that his time is running out.

This post was modified 2 weeks ago 2 times by Malcolm

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jarkko
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 1496
 

Chuba Akpom has fired his way to the Championship's Player of the Month award.

Akpom beat Sheffield United's Iliman Ndiaye, Alex Palmer of West Brom and Swansea's Joel Piroe to the December award after scoring four goals throughout the month - including a brilliant Boxing Day hat-trick against Wigan - to help send Boro soaring into the promotion mix.

I just wonder what are the odds on him NOT to score on Saturday? At least we can be happy that Michael Carrick did not win the manager of the month award 🤣.

Up the Boro!


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