Boro v Peterborough
Saturday 16th October 2021 - 15:00
Peterborough will be without manager Darren Ferguson on the touchline at the Riverside when they visit the Boro on Saturday. That's because the Posh boss has accepted an FA charge of rule E3 and has been suspended from the touchline for a one match ban and given a £2,000 fine. Hopefully someone will look at the gesticulating war dances and gestures of the Middlesbrough Manager and also get him banned from the touch line. This would mean that we don’t have to witness any further histrionics from the touch line or am I being too harsh?
Middlesbrough full-back Lee Peltier is set to serve a one-match ban after accumulating five yellow cards from the start of the season. “Pelts” has been adequate cover at right back but quite often his lack of pace has been exposed and has had to be rescued by the back tracking of Marcus Tavernier who has often made crucial tackles to prevent certain goals. Boro have somewhat of a defensive crisis at present, with just Sol Bamba and Marc Bola the only defenders at manager Neil Warnock’s disposal. That is due to injuries to centre-backs Grant Hall, Dael Fry and full-backs Anfernee Dijksteel and Darnell Fisher.
Presumably if the Injury situation doesn’t clear by Saturday, we will see Paddy drafted in at centre back (if he returns from international duty injury free!). The other change could see our Captain Jonny Howson move from midfield to right back. Alternatively, we could play with three centre halves with Bola, Bamba and McNair supported by two wing backs of Jones and Tavernier?
In midfield James Lea Siliki played his part as Cameroon moved into pole position in their World Cup qualifying group on Monday afternoon. The on-loan Boro man played the final 45 minutes in Mozambique as Cameroon scored a second half winner to move top of Group D with two games remaining.
Neil Warnock has tipped Matt Crooks to be a Middlesbrough favourite for years to come after a positive start to life at the club. Crooks was one of 12 summer arrivals during the most recent transfer window and has arguably had the biggest impact to date after a good start since his move from Rotherham United. He's missed only three minutes of league action for Boro so far this term - that coming after a late red card at Reading which was later rescinded after the club's appeal. Unusually for Warnock, who rates hard work as one of the most important traits to have in his side, he is actually having to ask Crooks to do less.
Warnock said: “I remember Warney [Paul Warne] telling me when they were haggling over money - Gaffer, you’ll never get a better player than this lad attitude-wise. I’ve never known anyone like him. To be fair, I don’t think I’ve ever had anybody doing 13km in a game, and he does that regularly. It’s unheard of.”
Boro are ranked 24th at present for passes completed this season and that is with a squad that has many possession-based footballers. The job of a manager normally is to exaggerate your strengths and hide your weaknesses, but it would appear that at present NW is doing the opposite. In my opinion Jonny Howson is a big reason as to why there’s no progression going forward, defensively he’s being hung out to dry by his manager and not getting the support in midfield he requires. The lack of support leads to circular passing from one side to the other, eventually ending in a long ball, meaning Boro don’t create good chances for their strikers
What I’m getting at is the man marking system doesn’t work without the ball. Boro are 4th for PPDA which is a definition used by Wyscout for the number of passes made by an attacking team, but 17th for interceptions. So, to put that into perspective they’re not winning the ball back enough to regain possession. To put it bluntly since Morsy left the Boro, there’s not many ball winners in midfield. This of course leads to gaps all over the pitch which was typified in the game against QPR
Is it possible that Boro concede cheap goals because they’re not coached the right way, and Boro don’t create more chances because they’re not coached the right way? It’s a legitimate argument to make, that Boro are possibly the worst coached team in the Championship
Marcus Tavernier is our best player, so we should play him in his best position. Isiaiah Jones is better than Onel Hernandez and NW should play him no matter what age or experience he has. Don’t belittle him, apply some man management and encourage him. James Lea Siliki is a ball carrying no 8, play him there and see what we have without discussing fitness levels.
Martin Payero has played South American football, a global area I know well after living in Argentina for two years, believe me the football there is far more aggressive and just as, if not faster than Championship football. Payero doesn’t need bedding in or adapting to our style of play. The person that needs to adapt is Warnock or is he playing political games.
Sporar, who scored his first World Cup qualifying goal in the win against Malta last week, had a hand in Josep Ilicic's goal for Slovenia against Russia and played 72 minutes of the game.Russia struck twice in the space of four first half minutes before Ilicic pulled one back five minutes before half-time. Jasmin Kurtic thought he'd equalised 13 minutes from time, but the goal was ruled out for offside by VAR. Slovenia reconvene in November for their final two group matches, against Slovakia and Croatia. Sporar can be the centre forward Boro have needed for quite some time, but he does need service.
As a Saturday 3pm kick-off, domestic supporters are only able to tune in to live coverage with an audio-only commentary pass. Our upcoming away matches against Cardiff City and Luton Town have been chosen for live Sky Sports broadcast, meaning the same rules apply for Matchday LIVE, while on Saturday 27 November has also been picked for broadcast overseas.
Fit-again Peterborough United skipper Mark Beevers is confident he is returning to a side capable of holding their own in the Championship. Beevers is expected to make his first Posh appearance since August 17 when Posh travel to Boro on Saturday.
So Diasborians I’m posting early (not for xmas) as I have an important Wedding Anniversary tomorrow and will be away for a couple of days. Hopefully I’ve given enough meat on the bone for you all to worry at (or worry about!) lets be having all your forecasts and comments.
Me? I’m going for the eyeballs !!!
Happy Anniversary Mr and Mrs OFB... what is the magic number, might I ask?
Thorough write up Bob, thank you.
The cynic in me can already see that yer man in charge has the excuse to hand that we have next to no fit defenders, so what should we expect?
The optimist in me sees this is an opportunity to come out of the traps and lacking in fit defenders, adopt the old truth that the best form of defence is attack. So I would like to see the team set up to play a high pressing game. Sporar with Watmore down the centre with Jones and Tavernier wide, but expected to track back. I would also like to see Payero and Crooks either side of Howson in midfield, both encouraged to swap sides and to show aggression, but also to give that spark of creativity. Leaving us with Bamba, Bola and McNair at the back, who between them should have more than enough experience to marshal any threat that the Posh will pose. Lumley in goal of course.
I will be optimistic and predict we will score 4 for the first time in a wee while... Boro 4 - Other Boro 0
Excellent summary on the Boro players . Can’t agree more about playing players in their best position particularly new young players.
Jones is the best example. He’s an out and out winger who should be told to run at defenders and get crosses into the box, or ,if not possible play the ball forward whenever possible.He should not be picked as a wing back - he’s never played there plus it would be asking too much to expect him to be charging up and down all match. The boy is still learning his trade as a Championship winger. Also it’s plain stupid to bring him on for the last 5 or so minutes.
Regrettably, I believe that NW‘s tactics and how to positively respond to changing situations in a game belong to another era and other coaches can see what he’s doing all too easily .
I sometimes think that NW just wants to be liked by his players.
The way forward ? - find another budding Karanka style manager who got the team playing to a definite pattern and got the best out of players.
Philip of Huddersfield
Brilliant. Well done to you both. We only have another 27 to go to catch that up !!
I’d have Karanka back tomorrow. He was successful. He knows the area, the expections and SG.
He will have learnt from whatever mistakes he made .
The only downside is that statistically returning to a former Club doesn’t usually work out.
There are virtually no one available out of work - I exclude the former Bournemouth manager who is probably waiting for a Premiership opportunity.
I wouldn’t say no, to the Crowley brothers who work together- probably the most successful duo in the last 10 years in gaining promotions outside of the Championship. Came to Huddersfield 2 seasons ago and were starting to turn things round when ownership of the Club changed and the new owner brought in his own man.
Currently they are at Peterborough and weren’t far off promotion last year in the half season they were there.
Philip of Huddersfield
Good post but Darren Ferguson is manager of Peterborough
Typo ? You meant Portsmouth !
A long and excellent appraisal of what is in front of Boro on Saturday. Also congratulations to you and your wife on reaching 52 years of marriage. Did you know that this coincidentally 52 is the exact number of league goals that Terry Bly scored for this weekend’s opponents in the 1960/61 season? This is the highest number of goals scored by a player in the Fourth Division and the third highest by any player after Dixie Dean and George Camsell. It’s one of those boring statistics that I recall because I was married in 1961.
Peterborough have usually been a high-scoring side and purely because of Boro’s defensive frailties I think they’ll score a couple on Saturday. The question is of course can Boro score 3 or more? I can see a 1-2 defeat looming I’m afraid.
Another good read OFB and congratulations on your 52 years of wedded life. Here's to many more and an enjoyable mini break.
As for Saturday, the shine has been taken off for me as I won't be able to watch, due to it being selected for overseas broadcast.
If we can't at least get a draw from this game, despite our defensive problems which have been part inflicted by poor recruitment, then SG should start his farewell conversation with NW but I doubt he will.
1-1 at worst or else I will be switching my headphones off. CoB 😎
many thanks for the headliner and who knows what or who Boro will serve up. Our 50th anniversary disappeared in a sea of Covid lockdown last year. A major non-event really but we had a really good two person person party!
Now to Saturday and who knows? Which Boro will turn up? What bizarre formation and tactics will be 'employed'? I can't get excited anymore because of some of the attitudes and tactics of Mr W, I don't think he overthinks it, I just get the feeling he doesn't think it out at all and outsmarts himself. A draw or a loss and I think there may be trouble ahead. No predictions but I'm kind of with Ken...
After all second bottom. Worst record this and even worse record that so will Peterborough turn it round? Probably.
Mr Karanka is looking attractive again, as a manager, I hasten to add, but has he learned by his mistakes?
Many thanks OFB for a comprehensive pre-match round-up.
With no natural wingbacks at the club and only one natural fullback and centre-back available, Warnock’s options are restricted to an untested U23 or two (unlikely) or players filling in who’ve done the job before.
I’d probably go with the latter to keep as many others in their best positions as possible so that means McNair at centre-back and Howson at right back.
I’m assuming Payero will still be unavailable so it may be an opportunity for Connor Malley, who hasn’t disappointed in previous performances. Siliki played 45mins for Cameroon so he should be available too.
A 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 as below should get a fairly coherent XI out:
Howson McNair Bamba Bola
Malley Crooks Siliki
Tavernier Sporar Watmore/Jones
Tavernier could move into central midfield of course with Watmore and Jones both playing either side of Sporar.
There won’t be too much to bring off the bench but the XI we can put out should still be able to compete with a struggling Peterborough side. However, not if we employ the usual tactics of chasing the opposition all over the pitch and then bypassing midfield.
Warnock has had a couple of weeks to work on things and have a bit of a reset. If we come out with the same tactics, failings and hard-luck stories then surely enough will be enough.
I have no idea how this is going to go and I'm not sure what Warnock is trying to do with the team. Where we have had spells of good play is when we have kept the ball well and mixed up our tactics. What I don't know is whether Warnock is trying to get them to play that way or every now and then the players decide to play actual football off their own backs.
Despite the injuries, we ought to have to much for the Posh. I would like to see us with 3 at the back and 2 up front something like
Fry Bamba Bola
Tav Howson Crooks Jones
Interesting that no one is picking Uche to start, if the reported injuries to both Fry and Hall are not a Warnock bluff, a possible starting eleven could be:
Howson McNair Bamba Bola
Watmore Crooks Tavernier
If Hall or Fry are available then Howson or McNair to replace Lea Siliki.
Come on BORO.
To be As anxious as all on here at facing a struggler at home speaks volumes about our boss. It really is time that action was taken.
Many thanks to OFB for the interesting and wide-ranging match preview, which I believe would provide more than enough stats to discuss over any candle-lit romantic anniversary dinner for two - so congratulations to you both on your 52% possession of each other!
Still, there seems little romance in the air with regard to Boro's chances of ending their 5th anniversary in the Championship needing a bottle of Champagne to celebrate with - plus it appears to be a close call as to whether Neil Warnock will also be celebrating his 73rd birthday on the 1st of December still in charge at the Riverside.
As to whether Boro will enjoy their Posh do on Saturday is possibly going to be a pivotal to both the manager's and club's season. It's not ideal that Neil Warnock's team are struggling to field a defence but looking on the bright side, Darren Ferguson's side have had the fewest shots on target so far this term - just 27 at an average of 2.5 per game. Incidentally, Boro are 8th best with an average of 4.4.
As for Boro's PPDA stat of being the 4th best at pressing the opposition but only 17th at interceptions - perhaps it's Boro's table-topping form at picking up yellow cards (31) that may explain that anomaly - something that may ultimately make fielding a team not get any easier if more suspensions kick in.
Though possibly the best stat at showing where teams are generally placed in the league are the possession stats table - Boro currently sit 19th in that rank with an average of 45.36% and it's interesting that the current top six are all in the top eight when it comes to possession of the ball. Basically, it's not rocket science - if you want to win games and stop the opposition scoring, then it's much easier to do if you actually have the ball more than they do. Boro often seem quite content to allow the opposition to play in front of them - that's until it seems they end up playing through them!
Anyway, the limitations of Neil Warnock's tactical man-marking approach have become widely discussed and most of us know that it's not proving to be a winning formula. Though, to put into football cliche - at the end of the day Boro need to start winning games otherwise quite a few of us will be sick as proverbial parrots - especially at home against teams in the bottom three!
Unfortunately, I'm not convinced that a two-week break on the training pitch will see much in the way of anything radical changing. If Warnock continues to pick a team of only those he trusts then that is quite a limited pool to choose from given the wider injury problems. I don't expect any surprise selections on that basis - though Howson and McNair can't both play in midfield and defence at the same time so I suspect some fringe players will have to play on Saturday unless injuries are not as bad as advertised.
Malley could well deserve a chance in midfield and possibly Kokolo in defence too - It's probably whether Warnock opts for full-backs or wing-backs with maybe Tav and Jones filling in with the latter is the least disruptive. Up front, this could be a chance for Ikpeazu to start also.
So possible team prediction (3-4-3)...
McNair - Bamba - Bola
Tavernier - Howson - Crooks - Jones
Sporar - Ikpeazu - Watmore
No idea how accurate this is (and certainly our of date) but could be of interest:
Various player weekly wages look pretty similar to others I've seen (within a £1000 a week or so for Britt, Fletcher, Howson, Saville and McNair) - The total salary figure of around £16m would fit in with my estimate for the previous season based on the MFC accounts (£15-20m). Though other players look to be a bit on the low side - i.e. Fry, Watmore and Tav.
it would mean that this summer that Boro shed over £9m from the wage bill with Roberts, Britt, Bettinelli, Akpom, Saville, Fletcher, Morsy and Johnson all leaving.
"... within a £1000 a week or so for Britt, Fletcher, Howson, Saville and McNair." I guess you meant £10 000 a week, perhaps even £20 000 a week for Britt? 😉
Up the Boro!
No I meant the figures being quoted for these players in that article are within a £1000 or so of other figures I've seen being quoted in other sources for each player - e.g. I've seen McNair quoted as £20k, Saville £17k, Fletcher £12.5k, Britt £35k, Howson £25k.
Yes I thought the figures looked to be in the right ballpark for many but I was also surprised at some of those at the lower end.
A £9m saving is quite impressive, especially when you can also add the savings on Bolasie, Kebano, Mendez-Laing etc whilst I think Howson took a pay cut didn’t he?
That’s all offset by the numerous new signings and their wages but I think you get a picture that the club is operating at a lower cost base this season and by a significant multi-million pound figure.
Yes, I'd forgot about those loan signings, who I presume we may not have paid all their wages - particularly Bolasie.
As for those quoted at the low end - If accurate, I think if I was Fry and saw my fellow defenders like Grant Hall was being paid nearly three times as much and McNair four times, then I'd wonder if the club was undervaluing my contribution.
Plus surely Watmore is not still on half what some of the younger players are being paid and given Tav is probably regarded as a key player for Boro, he also won't be happy to be ranked 16th in the salary stakes.
It would seem unless Fry and Tav get considerably better new deals from Boro they will most likely be leaving at the end of this season when they enter the final year of their contracts.
As for the new arrivals, it would be interesting to know what Payero, Siliki and Sporar have been offered in wages to entice them to Boro - particularly given the first two haven't really featured much.
Yes I think some of those guys have had new contracts in the meantime so the figures are likely to be reasonably accurate for some and quite outdated for others.
Still, whichever way you cut it, the wage bill is likely to have come down by quite a long way.
It’s a far cry from 1947 when players wages were fixed at £12 per week during the playing season and £10 per week in the off-season with the minimum wage for juniors at £7 per week. Of course the lowest admittance cost was only one shilling then (5% of £1) but the football was certainly more entertaining as far as Boro were concerned. I wonder what the Boro wage bill would have been in 1947 with average inflation per year of 5.2 % since then.
Using this Bank of England historic inflation calculator it shows that a wage of £12 per week in 1947 would be today equivalent to just over £480. So you could say football inflation is probably at least 10 times that if not a 100 times if you're comparing it against an average PL wage.
Just to Add, that £480 would give an annual wage bill for a squad of 25 of around £600,000 - which is more or less what Ashley Fletcher was costing the club!
Whilst we’re on about team formations every club used a man marking system and formation of 2-3-5 certainly in my lifetime until the 1960s. Many schoolboys in 1947 could recite the Boro forward line of Johnny Spuhler, Cecil McCormick, Micky Fenton, Wilf Mannion and Geoff Walker before they learnt their multification tables. How many Diasborians remember the forward line of the late 50s and early 60s when Boro were usually represented by Billy Day, Derek McLean, Brian Clough, Alan Peacock and Eddie Holliday? If there had been playoffs in existence then Boro would have qualified 5 seasons out of 7. Goals were a plenty in that period with a low of 83 twice and a magnificent 90 scored in the 1959/60 season. Fair enough goals conceded were Boro’s achilles heel which infuriated Brian Clough especially, but nevertheless the football was exciting.
In the 1956/57 season Boro only failed to score 3 times in 42 matches and finished 6th. In the aforementioned 1959/60 season when scoring those 90 goals there were 56 scored at home with 6 against Plymouth and Bristol City, and 5 against Bristol Rovers, plus 4 more at home to both Hull and Ipswich. Even away from home Boro won at Derby 7-1 with Peacock scoring 4 and strangely Clough failing to score, and 5-2 at Stoke. However the 64 goals conceded stopped Boro gaining promotion as they finished 5th.
The following season Boro only failed to score 3 times yet twice conceded 6 in a match at both Luton and Charlton in that amazing 6-6 draw as they again finished 5th. In the 1962/63 season there were amazing 4-3 away wins at Grimsby, Charlton and Norwich as well as a 5-4 win at Scunthorpe as Boro ended the season 4th after a 6-2 home win in the final match of the season. Goals, goals and more goals playing that old 2-3-5 formation. Of course we had the players to fill that formation, but I often wonder if we were to revert to that system how it would work. For one thing it would certainly be more entertaining.
If Boro lose or draw tomorrow then the number of unfit players will probably be given as the main reason.
But if all the players hadn’t suffered injuries then how many would be expected to start the game?
Fry and Dikjsteel - yes.
Grant and Payero -probably not. Peltier, Browne, Farnell?(from Preston) and the scarlet pimpernel ( Ameobi)- no.
Have I missed any others?
So , to be without 2 certain starters shouldn’t be the end of the world as many other teams will be in a not dissimilar position due to injuries and suspensions. I’m assuming Hernandez is fit to start.
Ok, I accept that the substitutes bench will be a bit light but it’s an opportunity for one or two to come on and play ok - possibly better than the players they replace.
So, without only 2 certain starters the team is not enormously weakened and the formation and tactics don’t have to significantly change.
So can we expect a resounding win ? Don’t ask me - I’ve no idea - but then , does anyone else?!
Philip of Huddersfield
I take your point but the other issue is that we were already light in certain positions such as the full backs. A problem of our own making of course.