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Boro v Swansea
 

Boro v Swansea

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Original Fat Bob
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Boro v Swansea City

Saturday 27/8/22

K.O. 3:00 P.M

Riverside Stadium

 

The news of losing Spike Armstrong at the relatively young age of 67 puts the matter of losing football matches into harsh perspective.

 

Although the late, great Bill Shankly has a famous quote

 

“Some people think football [soccer] is a matter of life and death. I don't like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.” Unquote

 

To be frank, let’s face up to it, Football after all is a game, a sport, a way for us all to enjoy being alive and living every day. To be combative without getting hurt and to experience the thrill of winning and the despair of losing. Although we are hurting at the minute with the way that Boro are performing, there is always the hope that things will get better.

 

To say I loved ‘Spike’ Armstrong is  probably true. I loved all of Big Jack Charlton’s promotion team which was the first time I had experienced success as a Boro fan. I never dreamt that in later years that I would get to know all of them so well and see them in old age at Boro home games. These were moments where we could talk about the great games gone by and as each year passed, one would leave us year by sorrowful year.

 

Turning to Swansea this is a club where I also have an affinity. A great friend of mine Chris, was and still is a great supporter of them, although like a lot of Diasborians he now lives abroad permanently in the USA, in Texas.

 

As young men working together on one of the major North Sea Oil and Gas projects, we would fervently uphold the merits of our respective clubs, he supporting the Swans and I supporting the Boro. To be fair we would jointly celebrate when either club had some success. I of course had some involvement with Boro when I acted as a referee and worked with Harold Shepherdson for all his trial and junior games. I had also worked with Jack Charlton when we redesigned the TV stand and crowd barriers at Ayresome Park.

 

Chris and his father had a close association with the Swans as his father was a Vice Chairman who subsequently resigned when Swansea were going through a difficult period. Chris had travelled to watch his team play in Europe as a guest of the team and played golf with John Toshack. He later worked on a professional basis as a consultant on the redevelopment of the stadium and was awarded the title of honorary Vice President.

 

We have both seen the highs and lows of our clubs from European glory to financial ruin and rebirth to where both clubs are now today, with Swansea City in 20th position with 5 points from 5 games and Boro in 23rd position with 3 points from 5 games.

 

This season has quickly turned into one of turmoil for Boro and their manager, which reminds me of the situation Boro found themselves in with Gary Monk.  This was a time when we seemed to have a plethora of players unsure of their best positions and team format and playing style.

 

Although we have changed our Goalkeeper we have let more goals in than any other team in the Championship. The position of goalkeeper is one of confidence and he really needs games to get under his belt and establish a rapport with his teammates.

 

Our defence looks suspect and I think McNair is a much better defender than a midfield player and a place should be made in the team for him and Fry alongside him.

 

Dijksteel is another player who is too good to be on the bench and our manager is tinkering with a team to accommodate players who are not as good as last year’s squad.

 

I thought Howson was showing signs of his age affecting his play last season and this year as another year older his days as an influential player appear to be numbered.

 

Jones is showing signs of second season syndrome and opposing coaches and managers have grasped his importance to the team and ways to stifle his play. He also seems to have garnered a reputation as a bit of a “diver” with our men in black who do not always award him a free kick when obviously fouled.

 

Wilder does not appear to recognise what a good striker is. Now whilst this may be controversial we appear to be signing reserve and second rate strikers to act as a cutting edge and perform in a manner that their striking statistics don’t live up to.

 

So after all that have my foam hands been worn away completely?

 

Of course not I’m going for a 1 -0 win !

 

OFB


K P in Spain
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A very good opener thank you OFB and I totally concur with your comments, “To say I loved ‘Spike’ Armstrong is  probably true. I loved all of Big Jack Charlton’s promotion team which was the first time I had experienced success as a Boro fan.”  Me too.

Certainly the news of Spike’s passing has made an already bad week even worse and puts the whole game of football into perspective.

Whilst we all have differing views on what CW should and should not do and who he should include or not include in the side, I think all we can do is give him time to try and get it right.  

Reading apart, the type of football has been far better than what we have suffered for many a season and it is just a shame that this has not translated into results.

Let us hope that a week of contemplation by CW and the players will produce both quality football and the right result.  1-0 will do for me, we certainly need a clean sheet to build confidence.

I hope the club and supporters show their respect and love for Spike at Saturday’s game and if they do It will certainly bring a lump to my throat and a tear to the eye.  CoB do Spike proud. 😎


Powmill-Naemore
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Your best yet OFB. I particularly loved reading your opening paragraphs and share your sentiment exactly.

No football isn't a matter of life or death, but it is, as you rightly say an affirmation of so much that is to celebrate about life itself. I still can't quite grasp it that Spike has gone when he was anything but an old man.

Great summary of our current predicament. All I hope for this weekend is that we put in a performance that Jack and all that team might have been proud of. That would be a fitting tribute to one of our greats.


jarkko
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Hardly any of us remembers this week when we loaned in a Brasilian striker from the Premiership as our next number nine.

We will all remember this week for Spike. And the Swansea game as the Amstrong memorial match. 

I am missing Spike - or Einstein to his team mates - already.

Thanks for the post, OPB. RIP Spike and up the Boro! 


Andy R
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Many thanks OFB for the opener.

I missed the Reading game as we took the long drive back from Aberdeenshire and was once again disappointed upon seeing the result. I quickly checked the stats and it appeared to be another game that we dominated but reading Chris Wilder’s comments and the many excellent contributions here, it’s clear that that wasn’t the case and we got what we deserved.

Did Wilder hold the the wide centre-backs back from overlapping to try to give us more solidity? Or did the players just play with a bit of fear and keep it too safe?

I wrote at the back end of last season that Boro were much improved between both boxes but had underperformed their expected data for goals scored and goals conceded. With a number of signings that looked good on paper (Steffen, Lenihan, Giles) I expected us to rectify that but, albeit with a limited sample size, we’ve actually got a wider divide between that data and reality now than we had last season. Rather than solve the issues, at this stage we’ve exacerbated them. Still, early days.

I think Swansea are a fairly similar team to us in the sense of being good on the eye but below average where it matters. They too haven’t started well.

Like OFB says, I’d like us to go back to the more settled defence we had last season with McNair on the left (for now) and Djiksteel on the right. My gut feeling is that Fry is a better defender than Lenihan but his confidence seems low and I can understand that Wilder wants Lenihan’s leadership in the middle of the defence, so he would probably get the nod for me but it’s close and no complaints either way.

I think Howson has to play with no real alternative and it would be Mowatt and Crooks in midfield with Jones and Giles the obvious choices out wide.

Hopefully Muniz is up to speed quickly and can start whilst Akpom should play if fit. If not, take your pick really but I think I’d go with square pegs in square holes up front so McGree on the bench.

I’m hoping that the Reading game was our rock bottom and now we’ll see the reaction and a sustained upturn.

Boro 3-1 Swansea


Pedro de Espana
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Well delivered Headliner OFB, thank you.

Absolutely no idea which team CW will pick or even which team will turn up.

He will have more forwards to choose from that makes sense and could even leave one from the bench selection. If we sign the other forward CW wants then I think Watmore will be let go. Not something I would agree with.

Then we have the defenders and possibly the inclusion of Matt Clark. What will CW do now? Draw straws because I do not think he really knows his best players in their best positions.

I think we will continue to struggle here until we have more pace and creativity in this area.

Unfortunately a must win game against Swansea.

 

 


Ken Smith
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They say that the League table never lies, but in reality there isn’t a league table yet. It’s completely irrelevant at the moment. There have been much worse starts than this season 1926 being a prime example with only one point and one goal scored in the first 4 matches, yet Boro finished the season with 122 goals and promotion confirmed with 4 matches remaining. I’m not contemplating such a recovery like that.

However the start of 1954 was even more disastrous with only one point gained from the first 9 matches, but by the beginning of April thanks to Charlie Wayman and Joe Scott Boro were in touch of the playoffs if they had been applicable at that time.

And finally only one win and a draw from the first 6 matches in 1966 and having won only 6 of their first 19 matches Boro gained promotion on the last day of the season thanks to John O’Rourke and Arthur Horsefield. It’s all a question of confidence and momentum. 

It’s perhaps too soon to say that beating Swansea is a ‘must win’ match, but the sooner the better as the league table doesn’t really take shape until  at least 10 matches have been played. At the moment Chris Wilder doesn’t know his strongest side, the players are confused, but once he knows his best Xl the better. It’s time to finish with experimentation and barring injuries and suspensions select his players in their best positions and we’ll get a better idea as to whether Boro have a chance of reaching the playoffs or not.

 


MW in Darwin
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Thanks for the intro OFB. Not sure what to expect on Saturday. Looking at Swansea’s game on Saturday they had 75% possession and lost at home 2-0 to Luton. Reading comments from their fans most are very unhappy with their manager, American owners and style of play. I’ll be happy with a clean sheet as a starting point.


Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @ken

They say that the League table never lies, but in reality there isn’t a league table yet. It’s completely irrelevant at the moment. There have been much worse starts than this season 1926 being a prime example with only one point and one goal scored in the first 4 matches, yet Boro finished the season with 122 goals and promotion confirmed with 4 matches remaining. I’m not contemplating such a recovery like that.

However the start of 1954 was even more disastrous with only one point gained from the first 9 matches, but by the beginning of April thanks to Charlie Wayman and Joe Scott Boro were in touch of the playoffs if they had been applicable at that time.

And finally only one win and a draw from the first 6 matches in 1966 and having won only 6 of their first 19 matches Boro gained promotion on the last day of the season thanks to John O’Rourke and Arthur Horsefield. It’s all a question of confidence and momentum. 

It’s perhaps too soon to say that beating Swansea is a ‘must win’ match, but the sooner the better as the league table doesn’t really take shape until  at least 10 matches have been played. At the moment Chris Wilder doesn’t know his strongest side, the players are confused, but once he knows his best Xl the better. It’s time to finish with experimentation and barring injuries and suspensions select his players in their best positions and we’ll get a better idea as to whether Boro have a chance of reaching the playoffs or not.

 

Good post Ken and quite right.


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Ken Smith
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I sometimes smile when I hear football managers, players and analysts talk about pressure when in fact it’s only a game. The most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard came from the late Bill Shankly when he said “Some people think that football is a matter of life and death. I assure them it’s much more serious than that”. Complete balderbash! I doubt that the family and friends of David Armstrong concur with that statement.  

Condolences to his family from those that knew him are much more significant and they must be going through more ‘pressure’ than any football manager. At this moment we are not privy to what caused Spike’s demise, whether it was sudden or whether he had been suffering an illness for some time.

Nevertheless I would hope that instead of clapping for his life next Saturday that the crowd will bow their heads and remove their headgear in a minute’s silence and not only think of Spike but his bereaving family too. Death is inevitable but hard to stomach for someone comparatively young in this day and age, as many of us have experienced.

 It was St Paul who addressed the Corinthians with the words “Death, where is thy sting, where is thy victory?”  and Eva Peron who is reputed to have told her people “Don’t cry for me, I have never left you”. Whether one believes in the afterlife or not, we shall never know.

This post was modified 1 month ago by Ken Smith

deleriad
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I feel like this could go one of two ways. We might come out on fire and roast the Swans as players respond well to Wilder's comments. Given how poorly Swansea have started, I fear that both teams will play safe and we'll end up with our first eyes in the sky of the season.

Team wise, Wilder has finally got a left-footed centre-back. It's hard to tell whether he'll be ready to start but I think Wilder will start both Clarke and Muniz; if nothing else it will freshen us up a bit and give the crowd a bit of a lift. Depending on injuries, we may finally have more 1st team players than can fit in a match-day squad which means we'll learn a bit about who he really doesn't rate.

It's by no means a season-defining game but how the players respond and play will tell us a lot about how much they buy into Wilder's ethos. I believe this is the worst start in the second tier since the Riverside and possibly even since 1986. At the same time, Wilder has a strong reputation in the football world so, to an extent, Saturday's match does feel more important than it really should be. If we don't get a result then I think we'll see a radical shake up by Wilder. If we do get a result, I think he'll take that to mean he was right to stick with his system. To be honest, I'm not sure which would be better for us in the long run.

Teamwise, I think we'll see

Steffen

McNair - Lenihan - Clarke

Jones - Crooks - Howson - Mowatt - Giles

Watmore - Muniz

Most importantly, I hope there is a good way to mark Spike's passing. Charlton's Boro was my first season in which I saw them play live. I remember Armstrong getting picked for an England squad and feeling a real sense of pride in his accomplishment. In modern language he was the ultimate 8/10 player; utterly reliable, you always knew what he would give you. I imagine him turning up at the Pearly Gates with a ball in one hand and jumpers for goal posts in the other.

 


K P in Spain
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Good post Deleriad, especially your last paragraph. 😎


Ken Smith
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After being without a cleaner for ten weeks my next door who was in the same boat as me managed to find one and recommended her to me. She introduced herself to me as Pauline and after cleaning one room she noticed some Boro memorabilia and asked if I was a Boro fan, then mentioned that her son was a former Boro player and if I remembered him. I was thinking that it might be a local academy lad who probably hadn’t quite made the grade before I asked her son’s name. When she said it was Richard Smallwood I said “Oh yes, the Dormanstown Destroyer” she was well impressed. I asked if he was stlll playing for Hull City, but apparently he is now captain of Bradford City and was playing against one of his former clubs last night Blackburn Rovers, and Pauline was there at Valley Parade to see her son play in the Carabao Cup.

Of course her son played for Blackburn when Tony Mowbray was manager and she mentioned what a nice man he is (of course we all know that), but what I didn’t know was that Mogga lives just around the corner from me some 300 yards away.

Pauline’s cleaning duties extended well above the normal 2 hours as she also recognised photographs of my late wife which adorns my lounge, but it  was lovely to talk to somebody in my home. Pauline’s a good cleaner and I think we’re going to get on very well, but I must let her get along with her housework next time.

B


Malcolm
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Posted by: @ken

After being without a cleaner for ten weeks my next door who was in the same boat as me managed to find one and recommended her to me. She introduced herself to me as Pauline and after cleaning one room she noticed some Boro memorabilia and asked if I was a Boro fan, then mentioned that her son was a former Boro player and if I remembered him. I was thinking that it might be a local academy lad who probably hadn’t quite made the grade before I asked her son’s name. When she said it was Richard Smallwood I said “Oh yes, the Dormanstown Destroyer” she was well impressed. I asked if he was stlll playing for Hull City, but apparently he is now captain of Bradford City and was playing against one of his former clubs last night Blackburn Rovers, and Pauline was there at Valley Parade to see her son play in the Carabao Cup.

Of course her son played for Blackburn when Tony Mowbray was manager and she mentioned what a nice man he is (of course we all know that), but what I didn’t know was that Mogga lives just around the corner from me some 300 yards away.

Pauline’s cleaning duties extended well above the normal 2 hours as she also recognised photographs of my late wife which adorns my lounge, but it  was lovely to talk to somebody in my home. Pauline’s a good cleaner and I think we’re going to get on very well, but I must let her get along with her housework next time.

B

Lovely that Ken.Take care.


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Original Fat Bob
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Nice story Ken

Mogga actually bought the house from the “Redcar Rock” David Wheater when   Mowbray sold DW to Bolton. The house was brand new and apparently DW wanted £2m for the house but TM knocked the price down to @£1:75 m.

So you live in an affluent neighbourhood!

I’m just down the road from you and originally John Hickton had a house built in Guisborough Road and George Hardwick used to live in the Avenue. So including yourself Ken pretty exalted company !

Curiously enough we have just engaged the services of a cleaner as my wife has just had her right shoulder rebuilt after a three hour operation. I’ve helped as much as I can but I must admit I cannot iron !

It means I haven’t had much time to post the last few weeks and had to cobble the opening leader during bouts of housework ! No excuses now though as our cleaning problems are solved !

So you and I Ken were like the Boro. We needed a new sweeper !

 

 

 

OFB


Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @original-fat-bob

Nice story Ken

...

So you and I Ken were like the Boro. We needed a new sweeper !

OFB

🤣


David in Cumbria
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Thanks for your starter and tribute to 'Spike' Armstrong. My memories of him are mainly from tv highlights and he was certainly one of our top players for some years. (I stopped going to Boro matches in 1973, even though I had a 1972/73 season ticket, and didn't renew it from 1973/74 so, to my regret, I missed the Jackie Charlton managerial years.)

Even my usual pessimistic view didn't foresee the poor start this season. We must get on a good run of results before we leave ourselves with a bigger gap to make up on the promotion (playoff?) places and Swansea's similarly poor start will hopefully give us the chance to get the first win. (Followed by a win against Watford to close the gap on the second placed team!) I don't know how many, if any, of our new signings are Wilder's first choices but we seem to have a less experienced squad than last season and we just have to hope that our goal scoring improves and the defence tightens up on how they have started.

At least the afternoon kick off means I can look forward to a meal after the game and I want to enjoy a celebratory Rioja rather than drown my sorrows.   


Clive Hurren
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Thanks again, OFB. I was grateful for your reflections on Spike. He was one of my favourite players of that golden era, and his performances rarely disappointed. Such a sad loss. By the way, does anyone know where he got the nickname ‘Spike’ from? I’d always assumed that his teammates gave him it ironically, as he was bald from a young age. 

Nice Redcar stories, OFB and Ken! Heart-warming and amusing. I enjoyed them!

And so to Swansea. I’ve absolutely no idea what to expect. I’ll settle for a spawny, ground-out 1-0 victory. We used to say we’d be happy if we won 1-0 with the ball going in off the ref’s backside; but I don’t suppose that would happen now? The ref would have to stop play and give the ball back to the team last in possession, presumably? Whatever, we urgently need the win, and we need to reboot the team’s (and the crowd’s) confidence. 

I have to miss this game, as I’m going on holiday to S Wales. Ironically, I’ll be passing close to Swansea on Saturday. Selfishly, I could have done with this one being the away game! 

COB. 

 


exmil
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https://www.mfc.co.uk/news/2022/august/25/matt-clarke-joins-the-club-from-brighton/

A very good acquisition for a reasonable price, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start on Saturday.

Come on BORO.


Liked by 4 people: Malcolm, Original Fat Bob, K P in Spain and jarkko
 
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jarkko
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Ken, please tell Pauline that her son is known in Finland, too. Richard used to write to the Boro magazine while he was not yet a first team player. I think he was the captain of the under 21s (or 21's). I have followed his career ever since.

So Blackburn onto Hull and most recently to Bradford. Pity he did not became a regular at Boro. But he was a terrific person and a captain while at Boro.

A very nice story, Ken. My regards to the Smallwood family. Up the Boro!


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jarkko
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@Clive David Hodgson told at BBC Radio Tees that David was called Einstein by his teammates (Hodgsy is 5 years younger). That was because he knew all possible things in the World. But also helped younger players even when Spike was in the mid-20's.

I do not know why he was also called Spike - especially so outside the dressing rooms. UTB!


jarkko
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Stoke City have sacked manager Michael O'Neill after a poor start to the Championship season, having won just once in five games.

The 53-year-old was appointed by the Potters in November 2019, replacing Nathan Jones.

The former Northern Ireland boss is the first manager to be sacked in the Championship this campaign.

Crazy, just crazy so early in the season. And after drawing with the mighty Boro recently!

O'Neill is the second manager to be sacked in the English Football League this season, after Robbie Stockdale (played 1997–2004 at Boro) left League Two Rochdale on 18 August. Up the Boro!

This post was modified 1 month ago by jarkko

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deleriad
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Posted by: @jarkko

@Clive David Hodgson told at BBC Radio Tees that David was called Einstein by his teammates (Hodgsy is 5 years younger). That was because he knew all possible things in the World. But also helped younger players even when Spike was in the mid-20's.

I do not know why he was also called Spike - especially so outside the dressing rooms. UTB!

I don't know if it's true but I always thought it was after the dog in Tom and Jerry cartoons. Could just be because I grew up watching both.


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Original Fat Bob
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Jarkko 

I believe that Spike got his nickname from Big Jack Charlton.

JC was notorious for forgetting peoples names and would call them “young un” or “lofty” or some other name that the players got used to. Dave Armstrong was given the name of “Spike” because of his flowing blonde locks and became a favourite of Big Jack and his nickname stuck with him forever.

OFB


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exmil
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I know Richie Smallwood, his dad and grandfather, I used to play pool with his father (known as Spider) most Friday nights in the Kingfisher pub (Dormanstown, Redcar) had many a long chat with his dad and grandad, also Richie when he used to pop in, while he was playing for Boro.

Come on BORO.


werdermouth
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Many thanks for your opener with a personal touch OFB - it was sad news to hear of David Armstrong's sudden passing at the relatively young age of 67 and condolences to his family, friends and football supporters who remembered him fondly. At least his memory will live on for those who saw him play as one of the most consistent players to grace the game. An unbelievable record to have made 358 consecutive appearances in a time where there was just one sub and probably far less technical medical and training support.

The game against Swansea on Saturday really is a must win - especially if you consider next up after that is the midweek away trip to unbeaten Watford! Indeed, Boro are only avoiding being bottom of the pile thanks to Coventry only having played two games because of their ruined pitch after the Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens.

Hopefully, the arrival of Matt Clarke will bring extra solidity to Chris Wilder's defence - he sounds like a great signing after I read he has been voted the supporters player of the year at various clubs for 4 of the last 5 seasons. I think we will be getting a player who will be giving everything on the pitch.

Whether the long-awaited arrival of Muniz will have the desired effect at the other end is probably open to debate - I think he can't really be match fit given he's played so little football in the last year or two.

Still, there's still noises that Boro are after one more striker with either Larsen or Emil Riis poised for another big offer. I should maybe point out that Preston have only scored one goal this season (it wasn't Riis) and have had four nil-nil draws - though still unbeaten!

Wilder has talked of ripping up his 3-5-2 and starting again as a result of the poor show at Reading but surely that is an over reaction given the previous display against Stoke was one of his team's better ones. perhaps he just needs to avoid not playing defenders in their best positions and reminding the players what their roles are.

So Boro have a point to prove on Saturday - let's hope it's three points that prove to be the end result!

This post was modified 1 month ago 2 times by werdermouth

Ken Smith
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I hope that I didn’t give the impression that It’s somehow posh to employ a cleaner, but it’s out of necessity in my case as I can’t stand for long periods and pushing a vacuum cleaner around is too difficult for me now. However my wife hated cleaning and always employed a cleaner - ME.      

 I do manage to do the cooking mostly using a microwave oven, but I did employ a cook for most of my life - MY WIFE. Now this arrangement worked very satisfactorily - no annual wage reviews on either side, and for me certain fringe benefits as well, but I don’t wish to reveal them on this forum suffice to say I’ve become celibate for several years now.

This post was modified 1 month ago by Ken Smith

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Original Fat Bob
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Is everyone away on holiday ?


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Malcolm
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Posted by: @original-fat-bob

Is everyone away on holiday ?

Fly out on Monday to Turkey for 6 weeks but will still be viewing DiasBoro Bob.

 


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Stircrazy
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Posted by: @original-fat-bob

Is everyone away on holiday ?

I'm not! 😉

Muniz & Clarke to start against the Swans?

https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/chuba-akpom-injury-blow-middlesbrough-24859849

Article also contains more news about Chuba Akpom's knee injury.


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