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Boro v Watford
 

Boro v Watford

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Andy R
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After Boro’s 2-0 mauling by Mogga’s Black Cats on Sunday lunchtime, Michael Carrick and his charges will be hoping to restart another winning streak as they take on Watford on Saturday at The Riverside, kick-off 3pm.

The hosts thoroughly deserved their three points on Sunday as Boro were out-fought and out-run by a livelier, hungrier Sunderland. There will be a full spectrum of opinions on the penalty and red card decisions ranging from “it wasn’t even a foul” through “it was a red but clearly outside the box” all the way to “correct decision” but, in truth, it doesn’t really matter – the better side on the day won.

Carrick’s Boro have rarely been so flat: error-strewn at the back and largely unable to beat Sunderland’s press in a way that we just haven’t seen from Boro for the best part of three months. The passing was awful and big Ross Stewart looked likely to score from minute one such was his power, pace and desire against an oddly befuddled Boro.

That said, I’ll take a run of seven wins from every nine games every day of the week and we’ve had little to complain about for some time. Boro bounced back well from the defeats to Burnley and Brighton and there’s no reason why we can’t reset and go again.

There’d be fewer better places to do so than against yet another play-off rival (about half the league seem to be play-off rivals – The Championship!), Watford.

The Hornets – managed by Slaven Bilic at the time of writing but he might have been three of four managers ago by the time you read this – currently occupy third place in The Championship albeit after a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Rotherham at the weekend.

Bilic was installed in late September with Watford languishing in tenth. Since then, the gruff Croatian has guided them to nine wins and three draws from eighteen games to have them leading the play-off pack.

Scoring goals hasn’t come easily for Watford in that time with just 23 but they’ve been more organised and able to grind results out than previously, with just 18 conceded. The form table for the last six has Watford in eighth with three wins but a goal difference of -1 in that time also tells a story of a dogged side rather than a flair team.

Away from home, however, they’ve been excellent with four wins from their last six – more than Boro have won at home in our last six.

Whichever table or metric you wish to look at (almost), Boro carry more form into this game than the visitors but it’s clear that this will not be a straightforward clash for us.

Bilic doesn’t appear to have settled on a formation as yet with Watford oscillating between a 4-2-3-1 and a wingback system but, however they setup, we can be sure they will include the direct and dangerous Ismaïla Sarr. The pacey Senegalese international is top of Watford’s goal involvements charts with seven goals and five assists and was one of their better players in the Premier League last season. Injuries have stalled his career but, when fit, he looks a little too good for this level.

Another of those on Watford’s books is Brazilian forward Joao Pedro, who might just be the division’s best player. Thankfully for us, Pedro picked up a nasty ankle injury on Boxing Day and has not been involved since. He still tops Watford’s scoring tallies but is unlikely to feature.

The last time these sides met was back in August, when an early Rodrigo Muniz goal was cancelled out by Sarr before Vakoun Issouf Bayo scored a devastating injury time winner. Much has changed for both sides since then but Watford remain a quick and powerful side that should test our less-than-convincing rearguard.

Dael Fry will of course be missing following his Stadium Of Light sending off but you’d imagine Paddy McNair will slot in alongside the fit-again Lenihan. We’re unlikely to see too many other changes although Cameron Archer could make a first start.

So I’m expecting a tough afternoon on Saturday against a strong Watford side. A win would see Boro leapfrog the visitors but we’ll have to be considerably better than we were against Sunderland to achieve that. With FA Cup games going on elsewhere this is one of only three Championship games being played on Saturday but defeat could still see us drop out of the play-off places via goal difference. That should be a decent incentive for Boro to up their game.

Come on Boro.


K P in Spain
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Great starter thanks Andy.

I agree another tough match ahead and I think we will do well to get a point out of this one.

1-1 for me but I would not be surprised if Watford scraped a win, which would have Boro fans questioning if we truly are a top six side. 😎


Forever Dormo
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Fair comment by you in your starter, AndyR.  Watford is possibly not the game you'd choose after losing at Sunderland yesterday but we have to play whoever we're listed to play next.  I wouldn't care to speculate how the game will go on Saturday but with so much at stake we might be in a for a fairly nervy afternoon.  It might even be a nervy next three and a half months...  I suspect we'd all prefer that to the safety of mid-Championship mediocrity.


exmil
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Thanks Andy for another great opener, yes it will be a tough game but usually we bounce back after a below par performance and with Watford being above us I expect the selected team to be fully focused.

Come on BORO.


Powmill-Naemore
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Thanks for starting us off with another well written opening AndyR.

I am with Exmil on this one. Under MC we have shown that resilience to bounce back after a defeat.

That said, the Hornets will bee no pushover but I believe we will have the game plan and the patience to take the sting out of them and leave them buzzing off back down south without any points.


Ken Smith
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We have to face the fact now that Boro are probably not as good as we probably perceived a few weeks ago. At our best you’d expect us to beat any side at the Riverside, and with 2 more home games remaining as opposed to away matches   we probably have a slight advantage over some of our top six competitors.

Previous home matches against the Hornets give little clue to what might befall us on Saturday but Boro have won only once in the last 6 encounters between the two sides at the Riverside, yet at Vicarage Road Boro have won three times there in the last 5 visits.This season Watford have won 5 times on the road, but lost twice in Lancashire at Blackpool and Blackburn, also 3-0 at Millwall and 4-0 at Swansea, so their record is quite mercurial.  Any result is possible on Saturday, but I guess most pundits would expect the match to end in a draw, and Boro may well have to settle for that.


deleriad
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Posted by: @ken

We have to face the fact now that Boro are probably not as good as we probably perceived a few weeks ago. At our best you’d expect us to beat any side at the Riverside, and with 2 more home games remaining as opposed to away matches   we probably have a slight advantage over some of our top six competitors.

This is probably true in general. A team is never as good as you think when it's on a winning streak and never as bad as you think when it's on a losing streak.

Now that WBA and (possibly) Norwich have sorted out their managers you have to think that the following teams are simply better than us: Burnley, Sheff Utd, Norwich, Watford, WBA. Unsurprisingly these are all parachute money teams. Doesn't mean we can't beat them but we need to perform above average on that day and they need to perform poorly.

Our competition is for the final play-off place. At that point, I figure our squad is as good or better than our direct rivals. Teams like Sunderland, Millwall, Blackburn all have strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others. Our main problem this year is that Wilder absolutely stunk the place out at the beginning of the season so we started with a handicap (see also WBA). 

The final play-off place is probably between us, Sunderland, Blackburn (though I don't think they'll recover their form), and Millwall. One of QPR, Coventry or Hull will probably go on a run. Despite Sunderland beating us, you have to figure that we would be favourites to win that race but it will require us to put together a decent run, possibly 30 points from the next 18 games. If our team is playing to its level, that should be well within our capability. 

 


Original Fat Bob
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Andy

Many thanks for a well crafted and informative opener I enjoyed reading it

OFB


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Original Fat Bob
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So after being scratched by the black cats we have to lick our wounds and return to the fray.

We will have to splash through the Watford hoping we don’t get soaked hoping that the Forss will be with us and not lost in space as he was on Sunday.

One thing that was clearly apparent against Sunderland is that Crooks is not a centre forward. To be honest I’m not sure if he’s even a midfielder as well! 

Whilst it’s easy to criticise players after a disappointing defeat I’ve thought for a while that our midfield has a weak spot. It is noticeable that the clubs efforts trying to sign another player to support the centre of the pitch would add credence to this observation.

The one player that I didn’t think would make mistakes was Fry and his legs were like chocolate as he was creamed for pace. 

I don’t expect many changes for the game against Watford possibly Jones to replace Forss as alas Smith and Jones on the right could be a hit ?

Forgive the ramblings of this post as I’m trying to be light hearted but hurt inside !

OFB


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

...

Forgive the ramblings of this post as I’m trying to be light hearted but hurt inside !

OFB

I think we all feel your hurt Bob


Pedro de Espana
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Great Headliner Andy, thank you

As previously posted, I believe we are a couple of players light to achieve the play offs.

We have done well, very well, but I think we have carried an element of luck which you do not get every match.

Iam with OFB as you all know, in saying the midfield is not good enough to keep us in the top six. I am a little surprised that we have not brought in an extra player for that area, someone he could slot more or less straight in. 

Forss works hard and has scored a couple of good goals, however like Crooks, for all rheir endeavours, are not the answer for those two positions they occupy at the moment. Jones' loss of form has not helped, and I wonder if he has learned from being dropped. May be another try??


Ken Smith
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Boro’s 24 year old defender Hayden Coulson currently on loan at Aberdeen played last night in a game he will probably remember for the rest of his life, although for all the wrong reasons as the Dons, seven times Scottish FA Cup winners who under Alex Ferguson also won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1983, were humbled by 6th tier Darvel FC last night 0-1 in the 4th round of the Scottish FA Cup in arguably the biggest upset in the history of Scottish football for 149 years.

The fact that Darvel won the West of Scotland League last year and had already beaten Haddington Athletic, Tynecastle FC, Dalbeattie Star, and First Division Montrose already this season would certainly not have given the Ayrshire club located in the west side of the Irvine Valley much hope of an upset. Although one punter inadvertently put down Darvel as a home win in a £10 bet including several other forecasts which resulted in his winning £843 for his mistake.

Ally McCoist, the former Sunderland striker, was one of several ex-players who likened last night’s result to Chester FC beating Spurs in today’s climate. Before last night’s match Darvel’s claim to fame was the Big Tower Transmitter that provides the UHT and FM service for the whole of South Ayrshire, but with a 5th Round draw against Falkirk to look forward to, who knows where Darvel FC’s Cup journey will end.

As for yesterday’s match Coulsen was substituted in the final moments as his attempted clearance was almost responsible for an Aberdeen equaliser in the final moments, but man-of-the-match goalkeeper Craig Truesdale made another magnificent save to deny the Dons to the delight of the 3,500 crowd.


jarkko
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The club has lodged an appeal against the suspension for Dael Fry following the defender’s red card against Sunderland.

Fry was dismissed early in the second half having been adjudged by referee James Linnington to have fouled Ross Stewart, the Black Cats forward eventually scoring from the resultant penalty kick.

As things stand, Fry would miss Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship match against Watford as he serves a one-match suspension.

Up the Boro! 


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Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @jarkko

The club has lodged an appeal against the suspension for Dael Fry following the defender’s red card against Sunderland.

Fry was dismissed early in the second half having been adjudged by referee James Linnington to have fouled Ross Stewart, the Black Cats forward eventually scoring from the resultant penalty kick.

As things stand, Fry would miss Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship match against Watford as he serves a one-match suspension.

Up the Boro! 

Interesting. I might have thought they would have let it go. I think the risk is that he will be given an extended ban as the appeal is likely to be considered frivolous.


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jarkko
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Off topic, but I listed the club managers and chairma in an order of my preferance. These are the gentlemen listed on our home page of Diasboro by Werder https://diasboro.club/

See attachment. M Carrick could be in the top five now. And Wilder in 8th or 9th.

Up the Boro!

This post was modified 4 days ago 3 times by jarkko

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K P in Spain
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@powmillnaemore.  I am with you on this one, I think we may end up regretting it but we will see. 😎


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Forever Dormo
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Darvel (who??) 1-0 Aberdeen yesterday in the Scottish FA Cup.

A team from the 6th tier of Scottish football from a town with a population of 3,600 beating the 2 times European winners (& SuperCup winners) from Scotland's 3rd biggest city.  It shows that dreams CAN come true even for those well down the football pyramids.

If anyone is interested, "Footy Adventures" (a young Englishman) has a YouTube channel in which he follows Scottish fitba' and remarkably he was there last night to witness this game.  If you have 20odd minutes to spare, give it a watch and see what happened, and see the joy in the young fans' faces ...  (Last year he came down to this area and, if I remember correctly, visited Marske, Redcar and either Guisborough or Whitby.  He likes his "grassroots" football, not only the big clubs, and he gets interviews with players, owners and clubs which are happy for the exposure.).


Original Fat Bob
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@powmillnaemore 

I don’t think the appeal will be successful for the Fry Red Card

OFB


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Ken Smith
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@original-fat-bob 

The danger being that an appeal might be considered frivolous and a greater punishment could well be given. 

This post was modified 3 days ago by Ken Smith

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K P in Spain
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Anyone heard from Werder?  He hasn’t posted for a while so hope all is ok. 😎


exmil
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Fry appeal unsuccessful but it remains only a one match ban.

Come on BORO.


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K P in Spain
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@exmil.  Not surprised it failed but good to learn that the one match ban was not increased. 😎


Ken Smith
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@ Forever Dormo

I’m pleased that someone else is an avid follower of ‘proper grassroots football’ and local cricket as I have been for the past 75 years ever since I learned to ride a bicycle. I was never much good as a player of any sport, but it was always a considerable outlet whenever Boro let me down, and that happened more than I wish to be reminded about in the past.

From watching Centre Forward Bobby Smith scoring all those goals for Redcar Boys Club in the early 50s, and subsequently allowing Chelsea and Spurs to snatch him from Boro’s grasp to replace an aging Micky Fenton, it took almost 6 years to replace Fenton with Brian Clough.

Andy Donaldson (1948 from Newcastle), Alex McCrae (1949 from Charlton ), Peter McKennan (1949 from Brentford), Neil Mochan (1951 from Greenock Morton), and Ken McPherson (1953 from Coventry), all signed whilst Boro were in the First Division, yet local lad Bobby Smith was allowed to sign for Chelsea and then Spurs. Fair enough Spurs under Bill Nicholson were a top team in those years, but the same could not have been said about Chelsea, and until McCrae was injured after Christmas in 1951 Boro were well placed in the hunt for their first league title. By the time Boro signed Charlie Wayman (1954 from Preston), Boro were struggling in the Second Division and Wayman was a stop gap appointment until Brian Clough was ready for his debut.

Nevertheless one wonders what Lingdale’s Bobby Smith would’ve had in Boro’s red shirts? Keeping them in the First Division would have probably been a good start, but winning the First Division title may have changed the course of history for Middlesbrough FC.

This post was modified 3 days ago by Ken Smith

Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @exmil

Fry appeal unsuccessful but it remains only a one match ban.

Come on BORO.

That is good news Exmil. I really thought they would punish us further for the appeal.


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Original Fat Bob
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Forever Dormo
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@original-fat-bob - Thanks for that link, OFB.  The stats for Boro v Watford in the last decade are more than grim.  Let's hope our team, minus Fry, pay no regard to them as the players put their poor performance against Sunderland behind them.


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K P in Spain
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@forever-dormo.  Unfortunately it often seems that the teams you struggle against you struggle against and it doesn't seem to change very often. 

We have had success against Blackburn and Norwich this season who we often struggle against, so let's take hope from that and perhaps we can start to turn our record against Watford around. 😎


jarkko
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Finally a match tomorrow! 

What I have loved most in the Championship is that there has been often three matches in eight days or two in a week.

Now we seem to be in a period where we have mostly one match every Saturday.  For players it must be good to train regularly, but for us fans it is nicer when there is a midweek game, too.

It will be a tough match tomorrow,  so I would be happy with a draw, most likely 1-1. But hoping for a reaction and any win - even 0-1 with a Watford own goal! 

I hope to see Watmore used in the second half against Watford. His attitude is excellent.  I would start with Forss up top and Crooks on the right. Up the Boro.


jarkko
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Borostats on Twitter tells us:

"Watford travel to Teesside looking to protect a 10 match unbeaten run in the league against Middlesbrough which started in 2012. (W6,D4)

"However Boro will be looking to keep intact their current home league record of just 2 losses in the last 15. (W8,D5,L2)"

Histirically it does not look good. Luckily that has nothing to with reality tomorrow 😇. Up the Boro! 


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Plato
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@original-fat-bob 

I think that the incident of the non foul on the Sunderland player was the worst blunder by a trainee Ref I have ever seen. He was in the wort position possible, i.e. Miles behind in a straight line with two players side by side, no chance of getting any idea of the offence, in or out of the box? Only the linesman could say, and he said no. To then double up on his ignorance by sending off, and a penalty! Give your head a shake. I do not think we will see this gentleman sporting the whistle in this company again. Still he can look back with pride on an unbeatable six blunders in one almighty slam dunk, no foul, not in box, not a penalty, not a sending off, not a red card, and certainly not a referee, quite what the poor linesman thought about it I dread to think.         


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