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Boro v PNE

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Boro v PNE

Saturday 18/3/23 k.o. 3 p.m

Riverside Stadium

 

It’s a sign of how far this Boro team have come under Michael Carrick, that most of us are feeling disappointed after only taking a point at home from Stoke City on Tuesday night.

 

Foam hands aside, the pragmatists or should I say realists amongst us (I’m talking about you Ken!) have said that we should put aside our thoughts of automatic promotion and instead concentrate on achieving a playoff position at the end of the season. I feel sure that this will be achieved as a minimum objective and that we can look forward to being in the mix with a possible Wembley play off final to look forward to.

 

It was a game too soon after a hard game on Saturday. The match on Tuesday against Stoke was a struggle for many players and the energy levels were down for the midfield and attacking players. The ambling peripheral performance of Howson was only matched by the slap dash passing of Hackney. The driving runs of our young on loan Aston Villa strikers was more subdued and even Choo chooBA  Akpom could have had a couple more goals to add to his impressive tally.

 

It was interesting to see Paddy move from defence more into midfield attacking roles with some great passing skills and he very nearly and should have scored the winner at the end of the game.

 

Although Steffen made at least two reaction saves during the game, I note that a few have raised questions about his inability to save the goal. Looking at it again, I would actually pass comment that Giles could have done more from a defensive point of view but I’m not going to criticise a player who has made such a difference to the attacking game of this Boro team.

 

Perhaps our manager has made some notes regarding the use of changing his squad more from game to game after watching this stilted performance and we can see more variances regarding game by game team selection. No criticism from me I hasten to add, as this manager can do no wrong in my eyes at present. I can think of no other manager in my lifetime, other than Jack Charlton who has transformed a team so much, whilst essentially using the same playing staff in such a short time. Quite a Churchillian statement but let’s face it we have a few battles ahead to win the campaign.

 

Stoke had prepared well and their high pressing of our players resulted in them actually having most of the possession on the night. Alex Neill is an experienced championship manager who has won three promotions during his career and had done his homework well. He said after the game: "I thought it was a really good game. I thought it was a really open game. Middlesbrough are a good side, obviously, but I thought over the game we had the better chances. I thought we were probably the more, I wouldn't say more aggressive, but we tried to force the issue and tried to win the game.

Middlesbrough have got big prizes that they're playing for and we're trying to show how far we've come in a short space of time. I thought we did that. I also thought we were more than a match for them. It was a good match between two good teams. We're just disappointed to come away from home against a team playing as well as they are and to play as well as we did, I was really pleased but if either of the two teams was going to win it, it probably should have been us."

 

Notwithstanding the comments of the Stoke manager, the Boro remain in third place with 64 points from 37 games which is a truly remarkable achievement considering where we were when the Boro dispensed with the services of Wilder. Sheffield United who still remain favourites for the automatic promotion spot remain in second place with 67 points from 36 games. It will be interesting to see the result from the vital game that Sunderland play tonight against Sheffield United and there will be a few more twists and turns before the end of the season.

 

Turning to our next opponents on Saturday, Preston North End continued their good away form with a 2-1 win over Rotherham United on Tuesday night.

 

Preston players Tom Cannon and Ched Evans were on the scoresheet again. With the January additions of Tom Cannon and Liam Delap, Preston have now found themselves with four fit strikers to choose from. Troy Parrott has returned from a long-term injury but apart from that penalty against Luton Town he still hasn’t found his scoring touch. Cannon was clearly liked by their management team as even before he got his first goal he was given seven straight starts. He’s now got three goals in his last five games, and his game has adapted well to the Championship. This is obviously a player that the Boro defenders will have to mark closely on Saturday to stop his run of form.

 

The assist for Evans’ goal came from Cannon and at the start of the second half both players came close to finding their second goal of the game.

 

The Lilywhites had a particularly strong start to the second half which saw Cannon hit the crossbar as well as a plethora of other chances.

 

The management have reserved special praise for a number of players including Cannon, Bambo Diaby and Alan Browne.

 

With not much to play for now, Preston would appear to have a sense of freedom so they don’t have to overthink every decision which can allow them to expresses themselves . They also have a really strong bench to call upon. First of all, the likes of Patrick Bauer, Liam Lindsay and Ben Woodburn weren’t even in the matchday 18, showing the strength in depth, not too mention the long-term absentees.

 

During the game on Tuesday, they were able to call upon Troy Parrott, Liam Delap, Alvaro Fernandez, Ryan Ledson and Josh Onomah. That’s three players contracted to Premier League clubs, another that was until January, and an experienced player at this level in Ledson.

 

They also had Andrew Hughes left on the bench as well who is considered one of their better defenders.

 

Freddie Woodman their respected goalkeeper was brave coming for balls into the box despite still sporting his bruises and wounds from Saturday. Rangers are rumoured to be watching Woodman and also Leeds, with the potential transfer of a £3:5 million move in the pipeline.

 

Regarding their form that’s now seven unbeaten since their defeat against Burnley in February. It’s also their first back-to-back wins in the league since the start of November.

 

Let’s face it, there are no easy games in the Championship and the fact that Boro have been maintaining such steady impressive form has not gone unnoticed by the other teams. I expect a hard match on Saturday but at the end of the day I expect the Boro to show a steely resolve to turn things back to winning ways.

 

Me?

 

Me?

 

I’m looking forward to seeing my Boro team on Saturday. That would of course be……….

 

Middlesbrough3. !

 

OFB

 


Selwynoz
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@Original Fat Bob

Great intro to the game and the situation in which we find ourselves. I had in fact just finished writing and posting my thoughts on the Boro v Stoke page which 100% agreed with the point that you make in your introduction. We have to admire the achievements in both results and quality of football since Carrick came in and we need to applaud that and look forward to play-offs and then, just maybe, something better.

Preston are another team capable of playing well and we have to hope that Carrick and the coaching team can get everyone in the right frame of mind for another game. Just as the supporters shouldn't be crying "Woe, woe and thrice woe" - with apologies to Frankie Howerd and Up Pompeii which are names from the past for many people but not, I'm sure, fellow bloggers - so the players shouldn't see this as a failure that will see everything crashing down. I hope that they see the Preston game as a chance to make a real statement about where the club is heading.

UTB


Pedro de Espana
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Thanks OFB for the Stoke view and comments from AN. Also the PNE Headliner and their depth of squad, which do not have, apart from up front it has to be agreed.

After taking in your PNE stats and current form, I think I am now more nervous than before the Stoke game. Another team with no play hopes, but in some run of form.

Can MC and his coaches lift the Boro team from what must have been a disappointing performance for them. Should he make one or two changes and tweak how we play?

I would bring back Fry, have Barlaser in the more defensive position, and HH further forward where he can (hopefully) play those telling passes to the front runners. I also think Archer has been of his game slightly, but that would be may be one change to many.

No predictions from me, just hoping we go into the break on a high.


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OFB, thanks for another excellent opener, although people rightly say we could have lost the Stoke game late on, I tend to look at the chances we didn’t take early on and it could have been 3-1 at halftime, fine margins. As a lot of “pundits” have said there could be a lot of twists and turns in the last 9 games and it will be interesting on how challenge participants predict in parts 2 & 3, with side’s losing unexpected matches in a very busy April as teams at the bottom fight for their lives and mid table safe teams play with freedom. I will still hope for second place until it is not mathematically possible and I am glad I still have my London hotel booked.

Come on BORO.


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Thanks OFB for another informative and thought provoking read.

Well what to do about the Boro after a close shave on Tuesday and a number of disgruntled fans you mentioned in a previous post.  Suggest we should bring back CW and play his style, that should shut them up.

Unless any one is injured or still fatigued then I am of the view that we stick with the same team with the exception that Fry may be better employed against the likes of a physical Ched Evans than McNair.

Another tight game in prospect and I will be happy with another clean sheet and at least one at the other end.  CoB 😎


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@exmil.  Do you do room sharing? 😉😎


   
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Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @k-p-in-spain

@exmil.  Do you do room sharing? 😉😎

🤣


   
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@k-p-in-spain At the moment I am sharing with my girlfriends son but if anything changes I will let you know, I have no problem sharing.

Come on BORO.


   
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Thanks again OFB for your (worrying?) preview. Sheffield United's win against Sunderland has put their lead back to 6 points and our draw along with wins for Luton, Blackburn and Millwall leaves me more concerned about holding on to 3rd place than wondering about 2nd. On Saturday, Luton seem to have an easier match against a slipping Sunderland than we could face against PNE so we need to win or could drop to 4th. Looking at our fixtures I think we have one of the harder runs to the end of the season though all the playoff chasers have games against other candidates. I expect I will be getting through quite a lot of bottles of wine during April though it will be nice if they are celebratory. (Thanks Mr Hunt for putting up the duty!)

I am hoping Carrick will have had his usual quiet talk with the squad and we can start on another winning run. 


Philip of Huddersfield
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Preston is going to be another tough game - they are 7 unbeaten and their position in the League means they have to go for wins to make the top 6. Draws are of little use. 
Meanwhile Boro need to improve on Tuesday’s performance and hopefully get back to winning ways.

I’ve ruled out finishing second in the League and hope that Boro maintain a high level of consistency in their play to the end of the season  - if so then results will take care of themselves.

The defence is still a concern and I hope Fry is back as McNair doesn’t instill confidence. Giles , for all his attacking plaudits, as witnessed on Tuesday when caught out of position,  is still a weak defensive link.
My big concern is Barlaser who has hardly played and can’t be match fit. Something doesn’t seem right with his appointment as there’s been lots of games when he was needed but not brought on to the pitch either to start or as a substitute.

I also hope Crooks is fit as he has proved to be a game changing substitute and  Jones played some of his best games with Crooks in support. He also  needs to be on the subs bench assuming MC  can get him back to a decent level.

I am hoping the crowd get behind the team to urge them to victory but won’t be surprised at a draw.

Philip of Huddersfield 

This post was modified 1 year ago by Philip of Huddersfield

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Many thanks for another great opener Bob.

Preston are on a decent run but I can’t say I’m nervous. Seven unbeaten sounds impressive but it includes four draws, three of which were 0-0.

We’ve only lost one in our last seven and have picked up three more points than Preston in that time scoring a boat load more goals.

This Boro side is good, very good, and should have too much for a disciplined and organised but somewhat pedestrian Preston.

Boro 2-0 Preston.


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Palace to come sniffing for Carrick?


   
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Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @paulinboro

Palace to come sniffing for Carrick?

Nah. I don't think so. They will want someone with an established Premier League credential ..... I believe Frank Lampard is available 😉


   
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Posted by: @paulinboro

Palace to come sniffing for Carrick?

Every time a manager in the Premiership is sacked or close to being sacked, the “Hacks” are going to mention successful championship managers, such as Michael Carrick and Vincent Company, without any substance to validate the rumours.

Come on BORO.


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Nice starter, Bob and good follow-up posts (though I'm not too sure about the number of people who are interested in room sharing!!).  I agree the game might not be easy.  But I also agree Boro's general form has been exemplary in recent weeks and we must be prepared to take on board an occasional nudge by reality. I expect the manager will have had a long chat with the team following Tuesday's game against Stoke and there MIGHT be some team changes.  This doesn't seem to me like a squad that does two "average" performances in a row. A clean sheet would be great so Andy's suggestion of a 2-0 win against PNE would be fine by me. (Obviously if the Powers that Be offered me 5-0 I'd be even more content, but there's no reason to sell the Soul just yet - he says confidently...)


Martin Bellamy
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Whilst I agree that tomorrow’s game against England’s wettest city won’t be easy, if we are to progress to the EPL by any means we need to beat teams like PNE. If we can’t perform against teams below us then we can’t expect to be promoted - I’m feeling confident that we’ll win, but not confident enough to go to the game, I’m afraid. 


Clive Hurren
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Posted by: @paulinboro

Palace to come sniffing for Carrick?

Is it a bit of a coincidence that Steve Parrish deliberately comes out to praise Carrick one day before sacking Vieira? Prepare for incoming aggressive Palace bid for MC? I sincerely hope not. In any case, I think our manager has too much honour to walk away from his contract, and I’m sure he will want to see his project through with us to completion, so that he can put a promotion and hopefully a couple of years in the Prem on his CV. 

And now for Preston. Always a hard game. My PNE-supporting mate tells me they have been particularly defensive this season, usually playing just one up front even at home, and conceding few goals. We’ll need to be patient tomorrow, and we really mustn’t concede, as chances may be at a premium. I’ll settle for 1-0. Many thanks to OFB for a splendid, if somewhat worrying opener! 


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Tomorrow against PNE will be our last Saturday home fixture of the regular season as the home fixture against Norwich has been moved to Friday 14 April with a 8 pm kick off.

Come on BORO.


   
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@exmil -Thanks.  Diary updated and stadium next-seat neightbour informed.

This post was modified 1 year ago by Forever Dormo

   
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Martin Bellamy
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Posted by: @exmil

Tomorrow against PNE will be our last Saturday home fixture of the regular season as the home fixture against Norwich has been moved to Friday 14 April with a 8 pm kick off.

Come on BORO.

That’s incredible and shows the power of TV. 8 games to go after tomorrow and no Sat 3pm kick offs at home.

This post was modified 1 year ago by Martin Bellamy

Clive Hurren
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Just received a tweet from AV regarding Sheffield United’s financial problems. It seems they’re on the verge of administration and are desperately trying to cut costs before next week! The link is:- 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-11873261/Sheffield-United-introduce-extraordinary-cost-cutting-measures-avoid-going-administration.html

With apologies for linking to this awful rag. 

On another matter, I am very angry about the Norwich game being shunted to a Friday night. The Burnley game has already gone this way, and there have been others. For night games I arrive back home at 2.00 am, and sometimes later, so adding yet another one to the schedule is terrible. Norwich fans will get back home at about 4.00 am. Yet more abuse of the fans, just for TV. This is unacceptable. I think it’s high time the club consulted its fans about changes like this which have a huge impact, especially as there are now no more Saturday games after tomorrow. I’m going to write a stinking letter to Neil Bauser tomorrow. 


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Posted by: @clive-hurren

Just received a tweet from AV regarding Sheffield United’s financial problems. It seems they’re on the verge of administration and are desperately trying to cut costs before next week! The link is:- 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-11873261/Sheffield-United-introduce-extraordinary-cost-cutting-measures-avoid-going-administration.html

With apologies for linking to this awful rag. 

On another matter, I am very angry about the Norwich game being shunted to a Friday night. The Burnley game has already gone this way, and there have been others. For night games I arrive back home at 2.00 am, and sometimes later, so adding yet another one to the schedule is terrible. Norwich fans will get back home at about 4.00 am. Yet more abuse of the fans, just for TV. This is unacceptable. I think it’s high time the club consulted its fans about changes like this which have a huge impact, especially as there are now no more Saturday games after tomorrow. I’m going to write a stinking letter to Neil Bauser tomorrow. 

Clive you are right it stinks, but it is a long time since TV cared about the fans, remember the away match against foxes, snow everywhere but still went ahead, also the club will probably happy with the extra TV money assuming we get some.


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@clive-hurren.  I have total sympathy with you and other travelling fans, both Boro et al but sadly money talks and in particular TV money.  

Consideration of the impact upon fans has long gone and no matter the amount of complaints, TV money outbids gate receipts.

In my opinion it is not right but sadly now and forevermore TV cash is king. 😎


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Evening all, as Dixon used to say every Saturday evening. That's for those of us who remember the programme. No predictions for me, as always, just try not to concede Boro and Steffen keep your knees and ankles together please.

I hope Boro get their high tempo game together again and get a couple of early goals. Just do it please Boro.

All the best to everyone.

UTB,

John

 


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@john-richardson.  Sadly John I am of that age who remembers George Dixon all too well.  

Or, as a more recent copper said “mind how you go”. 😎


jarkko
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@clive-hurren Sheffield United had a transfer embargo already in January 2023.

Yes, it is terrible that they change the dates frequently. I am very scary that it might happen to me one day that I have booked the flights and plan to arrive on Saturday morning - only hear a week or two before that the match is on Friday!

Should never happen! Up the Boro! 


Ken Smith
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To say that today’s match is a “must win game” is an understatement if Boro are to even reach the playoffs. Forget about the Blades going into possible administration as I reckon this won’t happen as they seem to have introduced enough cost-cutting exercises to avoid that. Today’s match against the Lilywhites will likely be a low scoring match, but I’d certainly take a 1-0 win at the moment especially with a couple of difficult home matches against Burnley and Norwich on the horizon. 


   
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If we're serious about promotion, whether through the autos or playoffs, today is the kind of hard, challenging match we need to win. No ifs or buts about it.

It can be hard to judge how good we really are. It's been nearly half a season under Carrick now and the results (and performances) have been a match for Jack Charlton's first 20 games. By that point, we knew that Charlton's team was winning games on merit. Same has to be said for Carrick's team.

It's hard not to have a nagging suspicion that we'll be "found out" but at this point it's time to have a little faith. Even if this season doesn't end as we hope, it feels like we're in a good place to press on.


Powmill-Naemore
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I don't think I said thanks to OFB for another great piece to introduce this PNE thread. Thank you.

I am confident that today we will put the disappointing outing against the Potters to bed and unfortunately for the Lilywhites, Middlesbrough3 will be back in full flow.

There we have it. No justification or explanation required. Just confidence that this is a very different kind of Boro than we have been accustomed to over many years.

CoB.


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Today's starting XI - Fry back, but Barlaser still on the bench, along with Crooks, who must be more or less fit again:

Image


   
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