Boro v Sheffield United
Kick-Off: Tuesday 28th September 2021 - 19:45
So Diasborians we move quickly on to our next game which even this early in the season seems like a must win game. Can we really call it a relegation fight for our lives at the moment?
It remains to be seen if the Boro will appeal the red card awarded to Matt Crooks. He didn’t have the best of games in the defensive midfield position for Boro and only completed 15 of 21 passes (71%) and only created just one chance through a key pass. His WhoScored rating was 5.40. To show what a poor performance it was, the stats show that he didn’t complete a tackle, made no interceptions and no clearances. His miserable afternoon was compounded by the straight red card which means that he’ll miss Boro’s next three games.
There were other poor performances in the game against Reading on Saturday including Isaiah Jones with a WhoScored rating of 5.63 In his defence he saw little of the ball (1.6%) down the left flank and completed just 8 of his 13 pass attempts. In a game when he wasn’t really involved much the 22-year-old made one tackle. He failed to really impose himself on the game and will want to do better next time out when Boro face a stern task against an improving Sheffield United.
His performance wasn’t helped by the referee who didn’t protect him at all and waved away several appeals for free kicks claimed by an agitated Warnock. It can be no coincidence that all the remonstrating and arm waving and foul and abusive language from our manager has a detrimental affect on decisions going for us.
It was also nice to see Martin Payero on the pitch with a WhoScored rating 6.04. He showed a bit of steel and a couple of forward passes but the 23-year-old Argentinian attacking midfielder was another who saw little (1.5%) of the ball so couldn’t get in on the game. He made just 18 touches of the ball all game, completing 10 of 13 passes and creating no chances for teammates. his only other contribution of worth was one tackle from three attempts.
Post match interviews with Neil Warnock has revealed that Onel Hernandez will miss the next two games after picking up a thigh strain. NW is quoted as saying “I don’t think we’ll see Onel before the international break. I’d be very surprised. He went out last minute of training. It was a disappointment, but we’ve had a few of them. It was a thigh strain. He had a few problems down there at Norwich with fatigue and that.”
This update means that Hernandez won’t be involved for Tuesday’s game against Warnock’s former club Sheffield United at the Riverside, as well as the trip to Hull City next weekend.
Neil Warnock made four changes at Reading, bringing in Marc Bola, Paddy McNair and Isaiah Jones, while Martin Payero made his first Championship start.
The boss said: "I wanted to give Martin a game to try and get a bit more creativity. Andraz, that's his third game. James came on. They're all lacking fitness. I think Martin lost his man for the goal.
"You have to get them fit really, that's all you can do. We're asking a lot of Jonny Howson. He's doing a bit too much and that affects his game.
"There are quite a few reasons (behind the slow start). Yeah we'd like to create more. We had enough opportunities, I think we had 19 crosses but you wouldn't have thought so.
"Isaiah in the first minute gets round the back and doesn't put the ball in, it's a great opportunity. That one they gave out (for Matt Crooks's disallowed goal), I thought he could have put that in a fraction earlier, but he's only a kid so you can't be too critical.
"We have to work very hard. We have another difficult game on Tuesday. We have to try and create more, get the lads a bit fitter who have come from abroad and persevere. It's all you can do, you can't do much more. I thought it summed us up when Joe (Lumley) had the best chance. To be fair, he should have scored. He was gutted when he came in. He didn't deserve to be on the losing side."
The late red card for Matt Crooks capped off a disappointing afternoon for Boro, which came in a period where Warnock said: "I thought that was our best spell, we were coming on strong. I take my hat off the lads, I thought they put a shift in. We've got what we've got."
It all sounds like a lot of excuses to the seasoned supporters who make up the Diasborians and we are all thinking that NW Is running out of plausible reasons to cover up his mistakes as we cast envious eyes on other available managers to take up the reigns of a reasonable squad and guide us up the table into a more secure position.
Unfortunately whilst I will always be grateful to NW for saving the Boro from relegation I think his time has come and he needs to move on.
I’m not forecasting a win against the Blades on Tuesday unfortunately and it could be the chop for NW and his last game in charge.
OFB, many thanks for your headliner, an article produced under depressing circumstances and sadly I don't see that situation improving in any way. Boro look team with no leaders and seemingly, in my eyes anyway, nobody prepared to shout, scream lead, organise and take responsibility. Something is rotten at Rockliffe.
As for this match well a draw would be a triumph but on current displays that displays too much optimism. There's a need for some Strachan like honesty and objectivity but I don't think it will happen and at this rate not in my lifetime. It's all very depressing really and I think I need an enthusiasm transplant.
I hope Mr Warnock reads this blog/Forum.
Thanks for the Headliner OFB and the after match comments from Mr Warnock.
interesting about Payero being at fault for their goal due to his lack of fitness.Personally, I thought Howson was at fault and to some degree McNair.
The midfield has not really improved at this point in time despite all the new signings. As much as I was not a big fan of Morsy, we miss him or certainly someone like Clayton in his prime. Howson has never been a defensive midfielder and now does not have the legs to even try to be one.
We are creating very very little and as a consequence scoring even less. Tuesday may see Uche starting and a different approach.
Thanks OFB for kicking off the latest pre match thread.
I can't add much to the debate as I feel much of it has already been discussed.
I can't see a sudden turn around tomorrow and will be surprised if we get anything from the game whoever plays.
I agree with Pedro that I thought McNair was missing when the Reading goal was scored with the closest defender being Peltier who was playing right back but nearer to the left post!
I do not thinking that tomorrow will be NW's last game in charge, unfortunately, and we will have to endure his ranting and excuses for a little while longer. 😎
Thanks for the opener OFB, which is now the latest must-win game for Neil Warnock and his team - I noted despite their poor start, he's already tipped Sheffield Utd as one of the certainties for a top six finish last week so he's got his excuses in early.
Whether the Boro manager can be excused for what has now become practically relegation form as we prepare for that tenth game milestone is sounding increasingly rare among much of the online chatter.
He certainly hasn't been helped by the combination of continued injuries, recruitment of unfit players, failure to recruit defensive players and decisions to let those who would have covered leave the club.
It's a bit like that old joke where a lost driver asks someone for directions and is told "well if I was you and wouldn't start from here". Indeed, it's looking increasing difficult to come up with an answer to Boro's current malaise as each individual solution seems to create a new problem elsewhere.
It almost seems as if Neil Warnock himself is getting short on ideas too and is simply just resigned to plodding on and hoping his team come good at some point. Perhaps some ref will take pity on him and give him a couple of penalties - though he'd no doubt claim his team should have had three after a 2-2 draw cost him victory!
I expect Steve Gibson will also plod on with backing his manager as he probably hasn't the stomach to end Warnock's career unless he really has no choice - as to how bad things need to get to make that choice is possibly the greatest fear among Boro followers.
In theory, if results don't improve then the worse position Boro find themselves in, the fewer choices Gibson will have in persuading the likes of Eddie Howe to take up the challenge. Seven points off the play-offs with around a quarter of the season gone can still be salvaged - more than a dozen off the pace with a third of games gone becomes a long shot - worse than that would then essentially become a relegation battle and no doubt be checking out Tony Pulis's number again. Yes, it can get worse!
Anyway, back to the game on Tuesday and deciding on a team. I'd go back to my previous suggestion of playing with Ikpeazu up top and moving Sporar to the wide right, with Jones on the left - though maybe Tav looks like he needs a rest and possibly Siliki would be better suited to that number ten role. I'd continue with Howson and Payero in midfield as the £6m Argentinian really needs to get up and running sooner rather than later given our lack of alternatives. The defence really picks itself with the only decision being if Hall plays ahead of McNair - which he probably doesn't. So...
Peltier - Fry - McNair - Bola
Payero - Howson
Sporar - Siliki - Jones
Prediction: likely to be more frustration that will only be ended if someone places a nice piece of gaffer tape over Warnock's mouth so he doesn't upset the officials and the ref gives us a few presents out of appreciation.
It saddens me that loyal supporters such as yourself have to attempt to fashion a team from the odd job bin which has been assembled by God knows who. This is a disaster which has been carried out in full view of disbelieving supporters, and sadly they will be like lambs to the slaughter on Tuesday, any team can hire a manager who is a disaster, but please! Call a halt.
Thanks for the opener. Really this game has become all about Warnock. So far most of the dissent against him has been limited to the online forums; the match day crowds have remained largely supportive. Part of this is that the players, on the whole, are still working hard and we have got rid of the wasters and disaffected. Plus, it's only a few games back since the pandemic and fans are still just glad to be able to go back to matches. Lose this one with a performance like our recent ones and I think the discontent will hit the ground as well.
I had a look back at Warnock's manager record over the last 20 years or so. His record with us is very much like his stint at Leeds where he simply never got the team functioning. Looks like he only won back to back games three times out of 60+.
As for the game, I suspect that win, lose or draw, Gibson has already decided to replace him; it's just a question of who and when. I'm pretty sure that Warnock also knows the gig is up.
To be fair to Warnock, he kept us up then got us over-performing for a brief period despite having to deal with the remnants of a dysfunctional squad and several catastrophic transfer windows and he did all of that with no fans at the ground. Sadly, he wasn't able to build on that and the last 9 months have seen a long, slow slide back towards the bottom of the table.
Tomorrow could be pretty brutal. Sheffield Utd are starting to get to grips with the league and if we roll over we could easily lose by a bucket-load. I think the players are also starting to lose belief in what they're asked to do and there looks to a be lot of frustration among them. That said, there might be a little complacency from Sheffield Utd; we could sneak a win.
My prediction is that Warnock will go with something like 4-3-3 assuming Crooks isn't available. I don't know if Uche is out of favour or struggling with fitness; if out of favour we will see Jones or Olasunya instead of him.
Peltier Hall Fry Bola
Howson McNair Tav
Watmore Uche Sporar
A good post which puts everything into perspective.
I don’t particularly like turning on managers but after watching Boro for so many years you get a feeling when things aren’t right. Stagnant performances, no shots on goal all tell a tale.
I must confess I’m also getting embarrassed about the ranting and raving from the sidelines which do not represent a leading club in professional football and is certainly not a role model for kids in junior football. If the kids and parents started to follow this example then football would dry up. What happened to the respect campaign?
I don’t anticipate getting anything out of the game against Sheffield United and think our midfield needs reorganising. Tavernier is wasted on the wing and needs to be more central where he can get involved. Stick with Payero as the only way to get him integrated into the team is to play him. Put MCNair into midfield as well as his man marking in defence is suspect and tends to let players go walk about.
Why not go on the front foot and play two strikers? It gives the opposition something to think about and hopefully more goal scoring opportunities.
Who would we go for as an alternative manager?
There are plenty available at present but would they come North?
Lets not forget it’s our club, our team our Boro!
Thanks once again, OFB. It's depressing reading and writing at the moment!
Sheffield United look a team that has found it's mojo of late and I can't see anything but another defeat for us. The alarm bells began to sound a while ago but the summer recruitment gave some false hope that has now been silenced. It feels like the end is coming for Warnock and just a matter of when and what next.
Harsh as it sounds, Crooks red card might be a bonus for this one as Warnock has shown no inclination to drop him despite some very ineffectual performances of late. McNair should be left out too for my money unless we revert to a back three but that no longer suits us I feel.
I'd go 4-3-3 as follows:
Peltier Hall Fry Bola
Payero Howson Tavernier
Watmore Sporar Jones
I agree with OFB that we need to ensure Tavernier is involved so moving him central will get him on the ball more often and we know he has the legs and the fight in him to get stuck in. There should be no concerns with playing him there.
I was impressed with Ikpeazu before his injury/illness but I think if we're going to play ball-playing central midfielders like Payero, Tav and/or Siliki then that should suit the movement of Sporar better.
This is all in theory though and the reality on the pitch is that we look flat, confused and short of ideas. Boro 0-3 Sheff Utd.
I don't think there is any chance that Eddie Howe would be interested in Middlesbrough to be honest. He eventually turned down Celtic after a long deliberation and there has never been an answer as to why. But I do believe it maybe because of the board. They started to sell their best players and have a rookie manager now which has ended in a poor run at the moment.
As who to replace NW if he departs will no doubt cause massive speculation!
I for one wouldn't mind SG having a word with Jack Ross currently doing well at Hibs and of course had a very good spell at Sunderland. But I'm sure SG will want to try aim higher than that. But what ever happens there will be another clearout!
Middlesbrough are top of the league for that scenario.
It sounds like Warnock is preparing to drop his 'foreign' signings as he has changed his mind about trying to get them up to speed with the Championship.
The Boro manager stated: "You have to try and adapt quickly and things you might get away with in other leagues you don’t here. You’ve got to do the dirty work and if you’re marking a man, you can’t let him go. We did that a few times on Saturday. It cost us a goal and could have cost us another couple. You’ve got to stay disciplined."
Though it seems Warnock has excused himself from the blame for these signings: "I’ve never really had so many foreign lads If I’m honest. I was led by what other people said to me really."
Looks like it's back to basics then with the likes of Payero and Siliki back to the bench - maybe we'll see another 'real' Warnock team tomorrow...
0 3 ? Oh dear Andy you are down in the dumps !
I must confess that it took a lot of effort to write the pre match blog for the Sheffield Game and my heart wasn’t really in it.
We need some stirring rousing posts from Jarkko to lift our spirits and show that we are true fans amd support our team.
We can make excuses that it’s early days and that there are a lot of new players to assimilate into the team but there seems no game plan or cohesive strategy to get the best out of what we have. He’s we’ve had injuries but if we hadn’t let Coulson, Wood, Wing and Spence go out on loan we would have had ample support to fill any gaps. Now we are relying on 33, 32 and 36 year old players to perform at intense games and unfortunately they cannot do that or recover physically for the next game.
The strategy of recruiting the overseas players was obviously club policy and at the press conference this morning I thought that NW alluded to that. He said it will take time to ge them fit and he hasn’t time so he will play with what he has. He also said that he picked his team for tomorrow late Saturday night and early at 5am Sunday morning. I think at 5pm on Saturday all of us Diasborians could have picked a better team.
it looks like Crooks red card will be rescinded and he will be available to play tomorrow. He is not a striker and use must be made of his physicality and running ability to create chances for two strikers a target man and a chance taker.
it will be interesting to se his team selection and it could be his last one.??
Would Eddie Howe or Frank Lampard come to Boro? I don’t think so but McClaren is available after being released by Derby today OH NOOOOO’
It sounds like Warnock is preparing to drop his 'foreign' signings as he has changed his mind about trying to get them up to speed with the Championship.
Yes he seems to have decided that he's going to stick with those he thinks of as his signings and his approach. His narrative is that he's been trying to bed in non-Warnock signings but now he's only going to pick his "best team."
I have some sympathy with him. Since our playoff defeat to Norwich it seems like that our recruitment has fallen to pieces with Gibson, Bauser, the recruitment team, Leo and the tea-lady and the manager all trying to sign their favourites. There's no point signing players for Warnock that he doesn't know how to play. That said, the January signings were all classic Warnock signings and they didn't really do much for us. Has to be said, Warnock has spent 9 months making the team worse rather than better.
I guess (or at least hope) that we are moving to a system where the first team coach is picked in combination with the players as the type of coach who can get the best out of them, rather than the old-school approach we have used for 25 years of the manager coming in and buying the players he wants.
You have just frightened me by your quotation direct from our inglorious manager. "I was mislead by what other people said to me" I was under the impression that those signings were made by very clever scouts who are by definition brilliant judges of a footballer. The implication is that he was the one who picked and signed this collection of crocks, old timers, and generally useless specimens. You have destroyed whatever trust I had in the entire kit and caboodle running the show, and I do include the chairman! Sign a German coach, preferably Young and on the make, and do it quick.
On the subject of picking managers, I was just reflecting that we beat a very Good club in the play off at our place to enter the Prem. And never stopped bleating throughout the season, allowed the players to get rid of the manager long before the end of the season, and same players gave a sigh of relief and headed back to the Champ. Very weak owner, and we have suffered for that foolish weakness since. Rubbish in, rubbish out. Q
Ref to NW press conference about too many foreign players, I was expecting him to say 'now't to do with me' 🤣
The problem for the club (of it's own making) is that they've given Warnock one more season to see if he can pull off one last promotion - However, they needed to sign quite a lot of players (mainly forwards) to replace those whose contracts had expired.
It probably didn't make sense to sign Warnock-type players on three or four-year contracts if he wasn't going to be the manager for much longer. Although, what exactly were they imagining that Warnock would do with players that didn't fit into his ideal plans?
The whole recruitment this summer was reminiscent of that committee who tried to design a horse and came up with a camel - only it appears it's Warnock who has the hump (possibly two).
Perhaps what they should have done is come to the conclusion before signing any players is that if the manager limps like duck and sounds like a duck then he's most likely a lame duck. You can't plan for the future if you overlook the obvious problem that your manager is 72 and not planning to head your project beyond nine months.
OK, if Boro had ended last season under Warnock looking like promotion was only a matter of time then I could have seen the reason in keeping on. Unfortunately, they didn't and looked a rudderless team lacking inspiration.
I can't blame Warnock for actually now having a "it's them or me moment" as he washes his hands and decides if I'm going down then I'm going down playing my way. He needs results and he never was planning for the future as surely kicking the futures of Spence and Coulson into the long grass showed.
Having said that, if it goes badly tomorrow without the 'foreign' signings then passing the buck will needs some fancy footwork - with probably quite a bit of finger pointing in the refs direction!
I think Crooks is one of Warnocks picks so he'll play if the red card is rescinded - maybe we could hazard a guess of what tomorrow's line-up could be if it's just his type of player...
Peltier - Fry - Hall - Bola
McNair - Howson
Tav - Crooks - Jones
I think it's fairly clear that the policy of signing young talent with potential wherever you can find it is the right one for a club of our size.
It's becoming increasingly clear that the manager is not on the same wavelength and that can only lead to one outcome for him.
The club has been successful in its appeal against the red card shown to Matt Crooks at Reading on Saturday.
Crooks was shown a red card in the 87th minute of the game by referee Peter Bankes, who deemed a challenge from the Boro midfielder 'serious foul play.'
The club immediately lodged an appeal and the card was rescinded by an independent Regulatory Commission on Monday.
An FA statement said: "An independent Regulatory Commission has upheld a claim of wrongful dismissal in relation to Matt Crooks and removed his three-match suspension.
"The midfielder was sent off for serious foul play in Middlesbrough FC’s game versus Reading FC on Saturday in the EFL Championship."
You can't plan for the future if you overlook the obvious problem that your manager is 72 and not planning to head your project beyond nine months.
To compare the ridiculous and the sublime, it's the exact same problem Man Utd faced when Ferguson said it was going to be his last season. They only solved it by Ferguson changing his mind and promising to stay there forever. Putting an exit sign over a manager's head basically neuters them.
So here's a thing. Now that Crooks has had his card overturned Warnock picks a Warnock 11 and say that we win 2-0. What then? Does Gibson still press the eject and pretty much guarantee another year in the Championship or does he think maybe we can Warnock our way into the play offs. There is, of course, no guarantee that a new manager can take this squad and improve on results this year.
Anyway, I think Warnock has decided that he is going to stand or fall Warnocking. It's not likely but it's not impossible that we win the remaining 2 games before the break at which point the landscape looks very different.
The game tomorrow is crying out for a blood and thunder performance from the first minute with an attacking intent and none of the short and sideways passing. I’d ditch the foreigners as they’re off the pace. It seems that Morsey is a big miss as we are incapable of bossing the midfield as other teams seem to do.
Oh , for a Leadbetter to galvanise the team. We lack a captain.
It will be interesting to see the tactics- it would be good to see a pattern of play and the players performing as a team and looking as though they are playing to a plan.
Philip of Lindley
As I think Ian Gill used to say, it'll be more likely a game of thud and blunder...
I didn’t think we had enough players left to play Warnockball. Maybe just, now that Crooks is available:
Peltier Hall Fry Bola
Tav Crooks Jones
I guess Watmore is the only player who’d be allowed off the bench.
OFB, it appears that many of our players do not have a very high pain threshold.
Good to see Crooks can ply, but saying that he has been poor these last games and in reality you would not pick him.
if we are not careful, an us and them situation could develop by Warnock seen to be picking his “type of player”
If we lose an early goal tomorrow, then a stuffing could follow.
We live in hope and we all know what that does to you.
We live in hope and we all know what that does to you.
Question is hope for what?