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Boro v WBA

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Original Fat Bob
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Boro v WBA

Saturday 30/07/22

K.O 17:30

Riverside Stadium

Season 2022/23

 

So Diasborians, here we are again to kick off another nailbiting season of expectation and joy, or alternatively,dejection and woe ! Whatever the situation is going to be, one thing for sure is that we will support our team through thick and thin and I’m not talking about my disappearing waistline these days!

 

Hopefully this preview will bring everyone up to speed with the signings of our new players and coaches and we will be able to quickly identify who is who on the playing field and sitting on the coaching bench as well. I have obviously gleaned all the information about our new players from the internet and blogs and hopefully this assimilation into one piece will make it easier for Diasborians to have a quick précis of who is who.

 

At the moment, as an optimist though, we are joint top of the league and that is without even playing a game. Conversely we are also joint bottom of the league with no points on the board, hopefully a situation we will see improve week by week. Even the Boro website has our team sitting in eleventh place,  just below Luton and above Millwall, could that be purely alphabetical, hypothetical or prophetical !

 

One thing that our pre season games has shown, is that our squad lacks depth, numbers,  strength of support from the bench and that we have a real dearth of strikers. Like most teams Boro need a player who can simply put the ball in the net from the chances created. It seems to be an impossible task, but as Fulham proved last season if you do find a good striker it can almost certainly guarantee promotion to the Premiership.

 

Talking of Fulham, one striker that we have been targeting is Rodrigo Munoz who  plays for them and their manager Marco Silva will only allow the striker to leave once he has secured an attacking signing of his own.

 

Currently Boro have Josh Coburn and Duncan Watmore who are currently our only senior strikers, along with Chuba Akpom, who made a surprise return to the squad for Friday’s friendly. Chris Wilder has apparently left the door open for Chuba Akpom to have a second opportunity to shine at Boro. A situation that has been caused by an impasse and slow movement on the transfer front.  It may be remembered by Diasborians that Akpom had a poor debut campaign for Boro in 2020-21 which saw him sent on loan to former club PAOK Thessaloniki. However last season the Arsenal academy graduate bagged seven league goals as PAOK finished second in the Super League. With Boroembroiled in a striker crisis, our manager Chris Wilder gave Akpom a second-half cameo during the 2-0 win against Marseille. Speaking post-match, Wilder insisted there was “no downside” to assessing Akpom in pre-season. “You've seen the numbers (in the squad),” he said. “We are trying incredibly hard to do some deals and Chuba has actually been good.

“He joined the group for the last couple of days and there's no downside for him coming on, running about and playing a part. He's contracted to the football club, he understands where we are at and I understand where he's at. So I would just take it day by day and then just go from there.”

 

Both Dael Fry and Paddy McNair were missing in Boro’s friendly with Marseille and left wing-back Marc Bola was utilised as a centre-back with our triallist Smith coming on in the second-half. Therefore, given our current injury issues, Wilder’s side will be looking for defensive options coming into the season. Boro have had Smith on trial throughout the entirety of pre-season with the right-back playing in all five games in the lead up to the regular campaign. He appears to be a versatile utility player and the 30-year-old has played at both right wing-back and as a centre-back in pre-season. He therefore offers Boro a couple of options of filling in any gaps due to injuries. As a free agent, he wouldn’t cost Boro any transfer money, although Derby are apparently also trying to sign him now but, the Boro boss has given a positive update on our pursuit of the defender.

 

Quote “We’re having a chat. I’ll have a chat with Tommy over the next 24 or 48 hours and see where that is,”

“He’s got a couple of clubs that are interested in him. He’d like to come here, but it’s got to be right for Tommy as much as it’s got to be right for us. We’ll see where that goes.” Unquote.

 

Darragh Lenihan has also joined the Boro and the  28-year-old has signed for us after spending the last decade at Blackburn Rovers, where he was captain last season. A versatile centre-back with over 260 career appearances, the majority of which coming for the Ewood Park club in the Championship, Lenihan brings a wealth of experience at the heart of the Boro defence. Lenihan, was attracting interest from a number of Championship clubs, but arrived at Rockliffe on the back of winning his first international cap for four years when he lined up for the Republic against Ukraine.

Boro boss Chris Wilder has said: “I've been a huge admirer of Darragh for a long time, in terms of his qualities he brings as a player, as a person, as a competitor, as a warrior, and a leader of men. I’m putting a bit on him but I know he can handle it. He's a proper football player and I'm delighted.”

 

Another newcomer to the Boro squad is 22 years old Ryan Giles who is “excited” about the season ahead after helping Middlesbrough dismantle Marseille. The game was Giles’ first at the Riverside Stadium in a Boro shirt following his loan move from Wolves and he was used as a left wing-back. He appears to pose a real threat on the left hand side to match the right hand side of Jones. He stands at 6’-0 tall and is youthful, athletic and muscular. From the TV highlights that I watched, he was impressive on his Riverside debut,  sending several dangerous crosses into the box which if Boro had a couple of lethal strikers to finish, the score line could have been a lot more in our favour.

 

Other newcomers to the Boro ranks include the welcoming sight of two new goalkeepers in Liam Roberts and Zack Steffen. It has been well discussed on the Diasboro blog last season how the Boro threw so many points away due to the poor goalkeeping skills shown by both our first team players in the sticks.

 

Turning to the player who will be the Boro number one goalkeeper Zack Staffen, here are some interesting facts about him taken from the Boro website.

 

Zack was born in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, a short distance from Philadelphia. As a youngster, he played for West Chester United, initially as a defender, FC Delco, and Philadelphia Union. He played college soccer for the Maryland Terrapins and picked up a host of awards during his time there.

His form earned him a move to German club SC Frieburg where he made 14 appearances for the reserves. He returned to the US in 2016 with Colombus Crew, and immediately joined Pittsburgh Riverhounds on loan.

He is an U20 international and he received his first senior call-up in May 2016. Zack was the Crew’s first choice goalkeeper in 2017 and he clocked up 39 appearances as they reached the conference finals. In 2018, Zack was named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and included in the MLS Best XI. He also made his full debut for the national team in a 1-0 win against Paraguay.That same summer, he was the subject of £3m offer from Bristol City, but Crew rejected the bid because they didn’t want to lose his services mid-season. At the end of the season, Man City stepped in to sign the player for a reported £6m. Crew said the fee was “the largest in club history and the most ever received by an MLS club for a goalkeeper.”After joining City in the summer of 2019 he was immediately loaned out to Fortuna Dusseldorf where he made the second highest number of saves in the Bundesliga. His City debut came the following season, against Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup. He made his Champions League debut in December 2019 against Olympique Marseille, followed by his Premier League debut in a 3-1 win at Everton. Zack kept a clean sheet in the Carabao Cup final win against Tottenham in 2021 and became the fifth American to win the trophy. Later that year, he signed a new four-year contract with City. I must say that he seemed impressive in our win on Friday night and made a couple of good shot stopping saves.

 

Our other new goalkeeper is Liam Roberts. Boro made him their first signing of the season after the 27-year-old decided to leave League Two side Northampton Town on a free. He  impressed last season for the Cobblers, keeping 21 clean sheets and was named in the League Two Team of the Season after an eye catching campaign which prompted Boro to sign him. He has said previously “There are aspects of my game that I can improve, I’m always learning. I still think I can be more consistent with my distribution and that’s part of my game that can be improved. I work tirelessly day in, day out to improve that and I feel I can come for more crosses as well. I’m honest and open in front of the lads and I will take it on the chin because there are things I have to improve and I can’t just rest on my laurels." Quite impressive words and let’s not forget that Boro have a new goalkeeping coach in Alan Fettis who has joined Boro from Manchester United.

 

Fettis the 51-year-old former Northern Ireland international replaces Ian Bennett who departed the club at the end of last season. Fettis, capped at all levels by his country, brings a wealth of experience having made almost 500 appearances during a playing career which took in the likes of Hull City, Leicester City, Blackburn Rovers, and York City.

He had spells coaching at both Cheltenham Town and Sunderland before Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson – and one-time Boro goalkeeper coach Eric Steele – offered him the chance to join the Old Trafford club.

He has worked at various at Manchester United where he helped develop the likes of Dean Henderson and Sam Johnstone as well as several other talented youngsters. He also worked with first-teamers such as David de Gea, Edwin van der Sar and Victor Valdes on occasions.

"We're delighted go get Alan on board," said Boro boss Chris Wilder. "He has a fantastic pedigree. He was a good pro, had a good career, and was a Northern Ireland International.

"He knows the game and to be at Manchester United for all those years says it all. He's had numerous opportunities to leave there, but it's such a big club and we're delighted that he's looked at us for the next stage of his development."

 

Out of all our team I must admit I do have a personal favourite. I shall be looking forward to seeing the performances of Isiah Jones. He was a standout performer last season for us, scoring once and adding nine assists from right wing-back. The 23-year-old has apparently interested Premier League clubs but hopefully he will remain with the club and prove a key player for this season’s promotion push. I also expect Riley McGree to play a big part next season operating as a number 10 behind the strikers and pulling the strings.

 

Mention must also be made of our Captain Johnny Howson who is still performing in the middle of the park and showing his skill and tenacity even in his dotage !

 

Turning to WBA apparently the supporters forums are not too impressed with Bruce and don’t expect to get any result against Boro on Saturday.

 

When asked after West Bromwich Albion’s 2-1 pre-season friendly win over Hertha Berlin whether the performance had had any bearing on his decision making for next Saturday’s season opener at Middlesbrough, Steve Bruce had quite a short response.

“Oh, 100%,” he replied with a smile. Our former coach Steve Agnew will be on the bench for WBA for Saturday and hopefully he will he see his team be dismantled ending up with a defeat on Saturday.

 

There are no stats to draw on for Saturday as it’s the first game of the season and “form is fresh.”

 

So my prediction for Saturday shall I go for eyeballs 👀 in the sky?

 

No I’m going for a 2 1 home win for Boro.

 

What say you fellow Diasborians?

 

OFB

 

 

 

 


Andy R
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And we’re back! Thanks Bob for that comprehensive review of the new faces and look ahead to West Brom.

Will we have a shiny new striker before the season starts? I hope so but it’s getting very close now.

Nevertheless, Wilderball and the form of Giles, Jones and Tav (assuming he’s still here) in pre-season suggest to me that, new striker or not, we’ll cause West Brom some problems on Saturday.

I agree with you that I think McGree will be a big player for us this year but I’m probably most excited by the considerable extra threat that Giles will bring, as opposed to what we had down the left last year. It’s also reassuring to have a goalkeeper the club seem to believe in. That can settle the whole team, as can the more vocal leadership from Lenihan that we missed at times last season.

All in all, I think we’ve made a number of smart signings this summer - we just need a few more but I’m sure they’ll come before the window “slams shut”.

We were strong at home last season and, despite finishing the season quite well, there doesn’t appear to be a feel good factor at West Brom.

I fancy West Brom to have decent season and, like ourselves, be in the playoff mix at least but I think we can bag the three points this time.

Boro 2-0 West Brom

Thanks again, Bob.


Original Fat Bob
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Malcolm
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I am the world's worst forecaster but I will go with a 2-0 win for........Boro


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K P in Spain
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Thanks OFB for a great starter.  It will be tight and am going for ⚽️-⚽️. 😎


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PaulInBoro
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If Akpom is the option upfront I can't see us scoring many goals, from the talk on here it appears the cupboard is bare in a number of positions


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Allan in Bahrain
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What news of the streams from Boro TV? The Boro club here in Bahrain are stocking up the fridge, getting the BBQ ready and ordering the girls for the pool. We have 2 no.  60 inch TVs and a good high-speed internet.

This is going to be our season and we want to watch every match....

UTB

 


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Original Fat Bob
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Boro v WBA Match is live on sky this week

OFB

 


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Pedro de Espana
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OFB,   Many thanks for starting the season off with your in-depth column, first class. 

I don’t do predictions but hope for the best. Unfortuanately our lack of fire power may prove our undoing in these first few games and leave us playing catch up when we finally get in the required players.

We could be relying overly on Giles and Jones and possibly Crooks to be there in the box to pop a couple in.

Also depends what happens this week with Tav and him not being available. Not the best planning by MFC. 


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deleriad
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This does feel like an eyeballs in the sky kind of game. I expect WBA to sit back and hope to pinch a win. If we don't have any new players in, I doubt we have the cutting edge to get through. Both teams feel like they may be somewhat under-cooked. 


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John Richardson
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OFB,

Well written and as a season opener, mood setter and enthusiasm builder you couldn't ask for more. Then you remember we're talking about unpredictably predictable Boro here but we wouldn't have it any other way.

In many ways pre-season has gone quite well.The club told us what they were going to try to achieve so the new squad was in place gelling and bonding before and during pre-season but that didn't quite work out as it was apparently planned. No surprises there. We're linked by the media with every man and his dog, no surprises there either, so basically everything is normal in the Boro camp and continuity is established.

I pray that Tavernier stays, even if Mr Gibson has to offer him more money and some 'guarantees' of some kind retain his services for another season at least.

I'd also like to think that Uche Ikepeazu has some thing to offer he's a big old unit and I reckon his skill set could offer an alternative approach and I for one wouldn't like to be a defender about to have the last twenty minutes of a game with him putting himself about and knocking seven bells out of myself and my team mates. He does seem to score important goals too.

Any a new season approaches a bit like Christmas Eve, the Fat Lady is on annual leave and it's all to play for with whatever squad we've got.

Now for the big prediction, I'm going for Boro 3 - 0 West Brom. I know optimism and all that but I think there are goals in the team and a good defence too. The Boro hunt for strikers is simply a ruse to put the opposition off their guard.

Right that's cast the runes, so it's all my fault if the wheels fall off.

UTB and a happy new season everyone.

John


Ken Smith
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Thanks Bob for such a comprehensive review of the pre-season. As many of you realise I’ve had little to say about the Boro or football in general during the pre-season as I find it incongruous to talk about football in the summer months, but as this is the earliest start to a  League season in living memory I’ve had to succumb. One of the major changes I’ve noticed in the last 75 years is the number of pre-season friendlies. From what I recall there used to be only two - a side comprising of first team forwards and reserve defenders versus a side of reserve forwards and first team defenders, followed a week later with first team playing against the reserves. How that would work today I cannot imagine. Also the Boro made a POST season tour of Irish clubs mainly from the south including Drumcondra (whatever happened to them?)

The summer started fine with England recording a 3-0 whitewash against New Zealand in cricket and also recording a fine win against India with Joe Root and particularly Jonny Bairstow doing Yorkshire proud, but the highlight for me was another Yorkshireman Matt Fitzpatrick being only the 4th Englishman to win the US Open Golf Championship. I also enjoyed the 150th Open Championship from St Andrews, although Rory McIlroy’s putting in the last round let him down. But since then cricket has become boring with placid pitches, and the prospect of a European Ryder Cup victory in Rome next year receding by the minute as more and more golfers signing for the Saudi LIV tournaments barring them from selection.

So now it’s real football in July, but why one might ask do we need a month’s break in November for the World Cup? Surely it would be more sensible to start the season to coincide with the transfer window (if one is needed at all) and continue playing throughout the World Cup. Agreed that some clubs will lose players during that period, but it would be the same for everyone but make some matches more competitive. As I recently stated there are far too many clubs in each of the EFL leagues and last season would have been an ideal time to reduce the number of clubs in each division.  

As for this weekend’s fixtures it’s difficult to assess Boro’s prospects, but away clubs won’t want to start the season with a defeat. I suppose 12 draws are out of the question, though only one goalless draw has occurred between Boro and West Brom in 20 encounters on Teesside. Due for another one I fear.

This post was modified 2 months ago 2 times by Ken Smith

jarkko
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Thanks you, OFB for starting the new season for us and Boro!

I hope to see most matches streamed overseas again. The service is not yet available for the up-coming season. I think the WBA match will be shown live in the UK in many other countries. The match is shown live in Finland, too. so I can see the first match at least.

 

Soon I hope I can subscribe to the RiverLive service, too. Up the Boro!


Original Fat Bob
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FORMER Middlesbrough midfielder James Lea-Siliki has left Rennes and completed a permanent move to Portuguese side Estoril. The Primeria Liga side have completed a deal to bring the Cameroon midfielder across Europe on a three-year deal. After joining on a season long loan deal from Rennes, Lea-Siliki struggled to break into the Boro side and made just 11 appearances in total. OFB


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Selwynoz
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Great intro. I’m feeling positive. 2-1 Boro. Goals from McGree and Crooks.

utb


Malcolm
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New Striker A.N Other is sure to score! Just saying! 😀 


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Powmill-Naemore
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What a great piece to start the new season with Bob. Thank you for continuing to take the time out, I think you know how much we all appreciate it (and you too AndyR!).

I'm sorry not to have got to join in much conversation over the close season. Life has been what it is and kept me otherwise engaged or incapable at times. I have not missed a single word written though, so thank you to everyone for keeping the threads and the themes ticking over.

So here we are, ready and waiting and anxious about When Saturday Comes... 

 

Unfinished business at Boro (as with most Championship contenders really), but some good business done nonetheless.

It has been far far too long that I have had any confidence in our first choice keeper (let alone the second choice as well). Changes in this one position itself gives me most hope for the coming season.  I am expecting between 7 and 10 fewer goals conceded over the season on the back of this and with a largely sound defensive unit still in place. 

We now have (quality) balance on the opposite flank to Jones now and with Tav, Howson and McGree across the middle some serious creativity allied with a little bit of solid experience to control the ship.

 

I honestly think that it doesn't matter too much we don't have our marquee signing(s?) up front yet. Start Crooks up there. He was our most likely goal scorer for much of last season (when he wasn't suspended 🙄) with anyone of the rest alongside him and I think that we we will create more than enough opportunities for us to afford to be less than absolutely clinical at this stage.

I am feeling the same positive vibe as KP and think we will run out comfortable 3-0 winners against the Baggies - Crooks, Tavernier and McGree on the score sheet.

 

Of course, any initial successes will need to be backed up with getting the squad completed to see out the season (or more correctly the first half of the season as Werder has pointed out), but at least I have confidence in a positive opener.

CoB 


K P in Spain
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Powmill.  It was John displaying the positivity.  I have gone for a nervy ⚽️-⚽️ and getting more nervous as the clock ticks down! ⚽️


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Clive Hurren
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Many thanks OFB for your brilliant and highly detailed opener. I’ve missed them! 

I think we’ll win on Saturday. We’re probably going to need goals from midfield, although if Tav, Giles and McGree are as good creatively as I think they are, then at least we should have no difficulty making chances for whoever plays up front. 

This may not be the right thread to raise questions about our recruitment, but here goes. As time goes on, I’m less and less convinced that we’ve got our strategy right (again!) as far as strikers are concerned. We seem to be putting all our eggs in the Premiership loan basket right now, so we’re waiting on a possible ( by no means certain) deal for Muniz and perhaps for Adam Armstrong. Muniz got few opportunities at Championship Fulham and didn’t score many. Ditto, Forss at Brentford, if we are indeed after him. Have we learned nothing from our experiment last season with Connolly and Balogun? I accept that Armstrong would be a very good acquisition, but overall wouldn't we be better scouring the continental markets for good prospects (as we’ve been led to believe Scott has been doing) or even taking a punt on strikers in leagues 1 and 2 who have banged in a lot of goals? There are plenty of gems in the lower leagues - anyone recall Jamie Vardy?

Meanwhile, we continue to play this deeply frustrating waiting game, yet the season is just 5 days away. Constant reassurances from the club that they are working very hard to recruit the players we badly need are starting to irk me now. 


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

Powmill.  It was John displaying the positivity.  I have gone for a nervy ⚽️-⚽️ and getting more nervous as the clock ticks down! ⚽️

It was indeed John and not you. Heavens, I couldn't even recall what I'd seen 15 minutes previously...not a good sign!

This post was modified 2 months ago by Powmill-Naemore

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Martin Bellamy
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We’ve got a family meal near Stafford on Saturday - hopefully I’ll be back in time for kick off. 
I’m strangely optimistic about this season, although a new striker or two would make me more comfortable. 
Big thanks to OFB for the starter - much appreciated. 


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Malcolm
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Aberdeen interested in Hayden Coulson.


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jarkko
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I’m going for a 2-1 home win for Boro, too. Watmore and McGree to score. But it will be a tight match as I expect WBA to finish in the top six in May.

Have anyone heard about Redcar Red? Has he got his appetite back after the appointment of Chris Wilder? 

Hope to hear from him soon. Up the Boro! 

 


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Original Fat Bob
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Jarkko

Re your question regarding Redcar Red I’ve been in tough with him and he’s working next to you in Sweden for a new company and is extremely busy. He passes on his regards and best wishes to all of us at Diasboro.

jarkko what can you tell us about our new striker from Brentford ?

OFB


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David in Cumbria
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Thanks OFB for you detailed start to the new season.

I am still waiting for the train timetables for 30/31 July to be published so that I can work out how to get to/from the WBA match. It seems that ASLEF didn't ballot all its members at the same time and Avanti West Coast/Northern Rail have only just been balloted and will not therefore be on strike. Otherwise I will have to try to get to Middlesbrough by buses which, if they work out, would take about 7 hours and longer to get home. I am looking forward to getting back to "normal" though I don't expect to go to as many matches as previously because of old age tiredness and the cost.

I enjoyed the Marseille match which for a " friendly" was competitive and we defended well and scored two good goals. In defence Lenihan was impressive. We clearly need to get some strikers in though I don't know much about Forss or Muniz. I very much want Tav to stay as, although some supporters don't like him, to me he is the midfield driving force. 


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jarkko
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Posted by: @original-fat-bob

Jarkko

Re your question regarding Redcar Red I’ve been in tough with him and he’s working next to you in Sweden for a new company and is extremely busy. He passes on his regards and best wishes to all of us at Diasboro.

jarkko what can you tell us about our new striker from Brentford ?

OFB

Bob, I just noticed that Teesside live has published a round-up of his career: https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/marcus-forss-heads-middlesbrough-looking-24596097

As Marcus left Turku, his home town, at the age of 13 for West Brom academy, I have never seen him playing in our domestic league. His father has played at the highest level here and his grandad in a full Finnish international, too.

But I have seen him playing for the national team. He has impressed me every time he has played but he has not been a regular starter yet - he is still young at International stage at 23 (last month). 

Marcus has scored against France away when Finland beat the World Champions recently. He has 12 full caps now.

At the moment he has Teemu Pukki in front of him in the National team. The Norwich striker is our all-time leading goal scorer and has scored about as many goals as did Jari Litmanen (ex-Ajax, Liverpool and Barcelona striker).

When the national team has played with two strikers, we often have started with Joel Pohjanpalo (who I recommended to Mogga while he was at Rockcliffe). 27-year-old Joel has played for Bayer Leverkusen, Fortuna Düsseldorf, Hamburger SV and Union Berlin.

I am exceted that Marcus Forss is joining Boro. He is a goal scorer, young and needs regular play time next. At Brentford he had Ivan Toney in front of him. But he has impressed me every time he has played for Brentford and Finland. For a 23 year old, he has had  more experience playing at Championship or EPL level than Balogun and Conolly had together.

So not a marquee (!) signing yet. But if given a run, he should easily score 10 to 15 goals this season. Depending on the service naturally. A good investment for the near future and long term.

I would imagine Boro will need to pay around four million for him. Up the Boro! 

This post was modified 2 months ago 2 times by jarkko

Powmill-Naemore
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Great summary Jarkko and sounds like a a ringing endorsement.


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werdermouth
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Thanks OFB for your excellent and very thorough opening-day match preview - early doors it certainly is with perhaps a lot more coming late through the window too.

Indeed, the season has come a little early for me as I'm currently busy preparing for our summer holiday, which means an early start Sunday morning as we start the drive down to Italy for a few weeks or so in the regions of Venetia and Tuscany. It will probably mean I won't be able to have more than a few quick glances at the game on Saturday evening as the last 24 hours before going away are always pretty hectic.

Anyway, I'll have to monitor the early season from afar until I return probably for the final whistle of the Stoke game. It will be interesting to see what kind of start to the season Boro have but it looks like a fairly tough opening to the season with promotion hopefuls West Brom and defeated play-off finalists at the Riverside - plus trips to QPR, Stoke and Reading.

At least Wilder will have one new striker soon with Marcus Forss due to sign a permanent deal any time soon. Though, he's another young striker, which makes me wonder if Muniz also arrives whether Coburn will be going out on loan himself - with possibly him and Akpom competing for 5th Striker. If he does, it's hard to see young Josh ever playing again for Boro if they ultimately gain promotion.

Likely to be a lot more twists and turns before the end of August and I would speculate that even players like Watmore may be at risk of an exit.

As for the game against the Baggies - well pre-season was a bit erratic as usual and I perhaps I wouldn't read too much into the win over Marseille as it was pretty early in their return to football and most of their players were given ratings of 4 or 5 out of 10 - especially given the 3-0 defeat to Braga.

At least Steffen is a much-needed upgrade in goal and there's still that left-sided central defender to come since McNair is now penciled-in at right centre-back. However, will Bola start in the left-sided role or will Wilder go with his best three at the back. While McNair is suspended for the WBA game, would you drop Dijksteel to accommodate him in the next game and play Bola on the left instead? Or indeed have Lenihan on the bench if Fry is fit? Could be a tough choice for Wilder but I think Dijksteel would be unlucky to become a McNair understudy given his performance last season.

So unless there are some dramatic late developments then Tav should play at the weekend and hopefully he won't do anything too extraordinary to attract attention - I suspect a Russoesque backheel though the Baggies keeper's legs will unfortunately seal his exit.

Prediction: I feel it will either be 0-0 or 2-2 depending on how the game starts - but a convincing Boro win may start somewhat premature chants of "We're going to win the league" and that will just be from those on their way to Italy - it could feel like a long journey for Mrs Werder - indeed it is!

This post was modified 2 months ago by werdermouth

PaulInBoro
Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 201
 

Dominic Shaw tweeted that tav is moving to Bournemouth  for 10M initial fee, disappointing but money and pull of PL talks, hope some of money is wisely invested, although track record not good


Clive Hurren
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Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 274
 

I must say I’m very disappointed indeed about the Tav situation. I do understand that the Bournemouth offer must be a very good one, certainly good enough to meet Boro’s valuation. I also understand Tav’s obvious desire to play in the Premier League. 

But Bournemouth? Tav must realise he’s going to be in a relegation battle and there is a strong likelihood of BFC going straight back down. Where does that leave him? On the move again? Back in the Championship? There’s even a good possibility that Boro might pass the Cherries going the other way? How’s he going to feel then? I do think Tav might have been poorly advised, and I really wish he’d decided to stay a while longer to see how it goes with Wilder. 

I’m also very disappointed with Boro in this. I suppose Wilder must think he has a strong enough midfield to cope without Tav - given he can field McGree, Giles, Crooks, Jones, Howson, McNair and Boyd-Munce. Perhaps he feels he’ll be able to replace Tav in due course with the cash Boro receive. But where will he find someone to replace Tav’s enormous energy, drive and determination? Where will he find someone who drives Boro on so dynamically? Tav has these qualities in spades: I hope to goodness this isn’t a serious mistake and it doesn’t reduce the side’s pace and energy. 

Finally, I do think allowing Tav to leave now, just as the season starts, shows a lack of ambition. The best sides and those looking to finish at the top of their league don’t sell their best players. 


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