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Cardiff v Boro

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Original Fat Bob
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Saturday 23 October - 12:30 - Cardiff City Stadium

As another Championship game hurtles into view on Saturday lunchtime against a struggling Cardiff team, we all wonder if Boro can make it three wins out of three games?

All fan's expectations will have been raised by a better performance against Barnsley, when Neil Warnock actually had a team selection and formation that most of us on the Diasboro blog had wished for. The tactical re-arrangement that was made in the first half of the game, playing a flat back four with Howson at right back, McNair and Bamba in the Centre and Peltier at left back, looked far more composed than playing three at the back.

The defence of course were helped by the outstanding form of Crooks who seems to have settled into his more defensive role, whilst also acting as the mentor and guide for Payero, who is really starting to show his international pedigree now. Supported by Jones and Tavernier this looks quite an attractive midfield which would be better if Tav and Jones were to release the ball quicker to available team-mates who are in better goal scoring positions. Hopefully the Boro coaches will run through video analysis of the game with the players involved, pointing out these failings to encourage more goal scoring opportunities. I expect Hernandez to replace Jones for the Cardiff game as in the post Barnsley match interview Warnock admitted that he hadn't considered Onel for selection after playing for 95 minutes against Peterborough and didn't want to risk injury to him. He seems to favour Hernandez over Jones perhaps because the Norwich player has more experience and knows what is required to win games.

Up front if Sporar has recovered from his tight Abductor muscle then I consider him to be a certain starter alongside Watmore. It was interesting that Warnock didn't condemn Duncan for missing a certain goal scoring opportunity but rather pointed out at the post match press conference how his hard running and all-out effort had contributed to the winning performance.

Chris Wilder was apparently in the stands at Craven Cottage as Cardiff City fell to a seventh consecutive defeat as they were beaten by Fulham and Boss Mick McCarthy has been under serious pressure due to that poor run. Whilst there's no suggestion that Wilder is in line to succeed McCarthy, the ex-Sheffield United manager was an interested onlooker as the Cottagers ran out 2-0 winners. If McCarthy was to go, you would imagine that the 54-year-old Wilder would be seen as the ideal candidate, because he has proven himself at this level in the past after winning promotion with the Blades.

It has been reported that McCarthy was given two more games to save his job and the first of those against Fulham did not go to plan, meaning he probably has to get a result from Saturday's clash with Boro to keep himself in the role. Considering it is only Derby's points deduction keeping them out of the relegation zone, they do seem to have lost their way from last season.

That run of defeats has seen the Bluebirds drop to 21st in the Championship table, just two points clear of the relegation zone. One source of frustration for Cardiff fans recently, has been McCarthy's continuous approach of naming five centre backs as his defensive line-up from the start of games.

That was changed at Fulham though, with Aden Flint and Mark McGuiness forming a central defensive pair, with full-backs Perry Ng and Joel Bagan lining up on either side of a back four.

It seems therefore, that McCarthy may now feel the time has come to change his approach in an attempt to turn things around, but with Fulham still managing to get 24 shots away over the course of the 90 minutes, it will be interesting to see if this is an alteration he chooses to stick with.

Goals still remain a problem for Cardiff and while much of the focus has been on Cardiff's defensive setup recently, it is worth noting that things haven't been much better at the other end of the pitch for the Bluebirds. Having failed to find a way passed Marek Rodak in the Fulham goal, Cardiff have now scored just once in this run of seven defeats, and that was nothing more than a consolation in their 5-1 thrashing by Blackburn, when Sean Morrison headed in from a corner.

Given the attacking players they have on offer, not least Kieffer Moore - who scored 20 last season - that is well below par, and with only two of their 15 shots against Fulham on target, something urgently has to change if the Bluebirds are to find the goals to get them out of trouble.

Hopefully Boro going into this game tenth in the table, with three wins in four - including back to back victories over struggling Peterborough and Barnsley, a win may not be an easy task for McCarthy and his team to achieve so I'm going for..............

THE EYEBALLS IN THE SKY!

OFB

This topic was modified 1 month ago by Original Fat Bob

Martin Bellamy
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The formatting on your post is making it very difficult to read OFB - unless the issue’s at my end of course. 


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Original Fat Bob
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@martin-bellamy

sorry I had to do it in my phone due to time restraints 


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Original Fat Bob
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@martin-bellamy

Thanks for letting me know it should look better now if you log out and back on again it should be readable now !

🙏 hopefully


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

@martin-bellamy

sorry I had to do it in my phone due to time restraints 

Never mind the quality, feel the width (for those of certain vintage...)

 

A very good summary of Cardiff's and McCarthy's predicament Bob.

The psychology of he situation will be interesting. How committed to McCarthy are the Cardiff players? Is this an opportunity for them to underperform to make sure they get him replaced? Or, will they be playing to impress a potential new boss?

 

Whatever, I expect it will be a tricky game for Boro to negotiate. We have had some better results away from home, so let us hope for that on Saturday. 

Bola must be wrapped in cotton wool for the next couple of days and I hope Sporar is recovered enough to start. I would prefer that he is given the chance to terrorise the Cardiff defence at least for an hour, before being rested. For me, I hope we start with a back four and try to capitalise on the form and understanding of that same line up. 

 

I think we will score, but also suspect Cardiff will too, so 1-1 for me and I hope I have got that wrong...


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lenmasterman
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@original-fat-bob

Thanks Bob for a very informative opener.  

The formatting came through fine from my end.

I think that we are a very poor side which is currently being dragged through by NW's old stagers and his powers of motivation rather than the quality of our football. Our stuttering performances are as much a reflection of the divisions within the club as our long injury list. Fortunately we are in a league where there are a large number of clubs in even more dire straits than ourselves. Indeed I cannot recall a time when so many of the sides in the Championship were in so much difficulty and producing performances of such mediocrity.  Covid and its ensuing financial consequences have hit all clubs outside of the Premier League particularly hard, and this is certainly being reflected in the problems so many Championship clubs are having in putting out well- balanced teams capable of putting on consistently reliable performances.

In most previous seasons the quality of our football would have placed us firmly in the relegation zone. That we are in the top half of the table and only a few points off a play-off place tells its own sad story of what is happening to the game outside of the top sphere.


Martin Bellamy
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@original-fat-bob That’s better. 🙂


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K P in Spain
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Thanks OFB for another informative pre-match thread.

I agree with others that, despite our back to back wins, we are going to have to play more consistently and keep the ball more if we are to get anything at Cardiff and I would take a point now were it on offer.

For me the flat back four is a must and ideally the same team, injuries/fitness permitting, as Monday with the exception that I would give Tav a rest and replace him with Hernandez. 

If Bola were to be fit, then I would slot him in at left back and move Peltier to right back and Howson into midfield and leave both Tav and Hernandez on the bench to come on as impact subs if needed.

Hoping for three points but believe that ⚽ - ⚽ is more likely but there again, given our inconsistency, a defeat is also a distinct possibility as Cardiff's non winning run has to end sometime!  😎

 

This post was modified 1 month ago by K P in Spain

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Ken Smith
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Thank God this match on Saturday isn’t being played at Cardiff’s former ground of Ninian Park where Boro once lost 10 matches out of 11 from the mid-sixties onwards. Fortunately Boro have performed better since the opening of the Cardiff City Stadium with 3 wins, a draw last season, and 5 defeats. The most famous Boro win was the televised match in 2011, before which the Welsh club were already anticipating promotion to the Premier League, only for Tony Mowbray’s team to take them apart 3-0 before almost a full house of over 25,000. Mind Boro had been on a good run themselves before that match with 5 wins and 4 draws in 10 matches and had jumped from 20th to finish 12th. Moreover more daunting for Cardiff was that Swansea beat them in the playoffs and went on to beat Reading 4-2 in the Playoff Final. 

No reason for Boro not to place more misery on the Weshmen on Saturday, after all they’ve lost their last 7 matches and only scored one inconsequential goal at Blackburn in that time. I’d actually be disappointed with a draw, in fact I’d expect a 1-0 win.

 

 

This post was modified 1 month ago 2 times by Ken Smith

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K P in Spain
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Re my post at 2:32. For Monday read Wednesday!  Mrs P often says I don't know what day of the week it is - I don't know what she means! 😎


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Original Fat Bob
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OFB


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Ken Smith
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Posted by: @k-p-in-spain

Re my post at 2:32. For Monday read Wednesday!  Mrs P often says I don't know what day of the week it is - I don't know what she means! 😎

 


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Ken Smith
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Surely it’s Montuwethfrisatsunday. I can’t remember what month or year it is most of the time though.


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Ken Smith
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I read that Kevin Sinfield the former Leeds Rhinos half back, now coach at Leicester Tigers RUFC is now proposing to run 101 miles from Welford Road Stadium, Leicester to Headingley, Leeds in 24 hours (that’s 4 marathons) in a bid to raise £100,000 for MND and The Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease. He has already led a team raising £2.7M by running 7 marathons in 7 days, but this feat seems extraordinary. All this for his former half-back partner Rob Burrow who like former Boro player Willie Maddren was suffering this disease for which at present there is no cure. The money raised will hopefully be used in finding a cure for this debilitating condition.

Often knighthoods are too freely given to sportsmen in my opinion, but this is a ‘David and Jonathan’ story from one friend to another and is certainly worthy of a knighthood, as was that given to Ian Botham. Knighthoods are often given to people quite wrongly in my opinion, but Sinfield’s work outside his sporting achievements is quite exceptional. 

Arise, Sir Kev, and whilst I’m on about this subject Jeff Stelling is also worthy of a knighthood for his marathon walks for a cure of prostate cancer.  There are exceptional drugs today which prolong the lifetime of many people, me included, but still one person dies from it every 45 minutes.

This post was modified 1 month ago by Ken Smith

Andy R
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Thanks OFB once again for a thorough preview of Saturday's game.

Like many others, I'm struggling to see this game as "one for the neutrals" as a basic and dreadfully out of form Cardiff take on a Boro side that's considering finding it's feet but certainly not there yet.

It's hard to know what to make of Boro at the moment. If your glass is half-full, you will see three wins from the last four including three clean sheets and all with the backdrop of multiple injuries and a squad that's still getting to know one another. If your glass is half-empty, you'll see some very unconvincing displays, bits of luck (ref decisions), poor decision making and a side that's just managing to be on the right side of those fine margins of late rather than anything compelling, all whilst being held together by a 36-year old centre back who wasn't even supposed to be there.

The general mood of the fans seems to be more on the half-empty side I would say but that could change if we win again tomorrow and especially if we do so convincingly.

I can't see there being any changes to the line-up tomorrow and probably just the choice of shape. We were much improved after the switch to the back four against Barnsley but tomorrow is a different game and a different set of circumstances.

I've seen a few people having a bit of a pop at Tavernier. Whilst I agree that his end product has been very frustrating of late, I still think he's a must-have for Boro and we shouldn't forget that he's still only 22 and has been moved around into different positions several times already this season. I haven't seen Boro look a better side in the last few years when he's not been playing, though we do have more competition for places this year.

Away from that eye-test, here's some of his stats for this season from whoscored.com:

Tackles per game: 2nd

Shots per game: 1st

Key passes per game: 1st

Dribbles per game: 1st

Pass Success %: 4th

Crosses: 2nd

The goals and assists numbers are too low and spread across the squad to be meaningful at this stage (1s, 2s, 3s).

There's also an overall rating based on these stats and performances for which he's second overall at 7.14 (I wonder how this compares to the Gazette ratings).

On the flip side, he's the player who's been dispossessed most often per game and second for "unsuccessful touches", which I think means losing the ball straight from his first touch and therefore ties in with dispossessed most often.

Overall though, from the eye test of when he doesn't play and the stats from when he does, Marcus Tavernier is a key player for Boro. I'd just like to see him settle into a consistent role and get those goals and assist numbers up.


Powmill-Naemore
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@andy-r

Good defence of Tavernier and I think ties in with the tone of voice when NW has spoken about him.

One for the coaches to help him learn how to make and time the right decision more frequently.

I agree that "resting" him is not necessarily what is required.

I think for all of the players some consistency of selection and tactic would help in that respect as well. There is no substitute for understanding between team mates as to who will be where and when and without having to look before you make a decision.


John Richardson
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OFB,

Thank you for your introduction for the Cardiff game, a team we never seemed to beat when I was a lot younger, John Toshack always seemed to do for Boro but I'm sure other players scored too. Then there was the headlamp freeze in the FA Cup where Boro underperformed again. Very unusual that. The Bluebirds have lost seven on the trot, can't score and being superstitious, sorry Ken, it seems to have home win written all over it. Being fair it's a typical Boro banana skin of huge proportions.

No doubt Mr Warnock will kick every ball, possibly every Cardiff player too, adore the abuse from the home fans and be willing Boro to win convincingly. Then there are the officials to be dealt with.

The CD is ready as are the earphones and the couch has been moved forwards, I just need the blackout and a single duvet to cover my head and my pre-match preparations are in place. Now at the risk of banjaxing the game I'm going 1-2 so if it all goes wrong blame me. Needless optimism I know. Superstitious, me? Rubbish.

UTB,

John

This post was modified 1 month ago 2 times by John Richardson

Forever Dormo
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@andy-r:  Cracking set of stats, Andy-r


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Forever Dormo
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Thanks for the starter OFB and the other posts in response.

I have NO IDEA how Boro will play.  I hope for a win and, seeing how Cardiff have been doing recently and looking at their position in the league, that is what common sense would suggest.  But being supporters of Middlesbrough, I think all of us on this Blog realise that common sense has little to do with it. 

Despite all, I have correctly predicted 2-0 for the last two games to my mate who sits next to me at the Riverside.  0-1 at Cardiff will do me nicely, thank you very much.

I'm not sure whether I'm a glass half full, or a glass half empty sort-of-chap. I try to be reasonable and measured rather than giving too much of an emotional view (but might not always achieve that aim).  I am, however, surprised that, in light of our results and many of our performances so far this season, we remain within close striking distance of the play-off positions.  As has been suggested earlier, that may such much about the (reduced) quality of our league.  But there is plenty of time left this season and putting a good run together will change our expectations (as opposed to our hopes).  Of course supporters of other teams will be saying the same, and we can't ALL get what we want.

This, perhaps, is not the time for a debate about the abuse aimed at players and managers that "keyboard warriors" might put out on social media.  I like to think that if any of the players at our club or people in the management team read the contents of THIS Blog, they will see comment (some positive and some not so positive) but not abuse.  The people who read this and contribute comments all want MFC to do well even if we may not agree on all the steps needed to allow that to happen. I suppose I MIGHT be prepared to take some online abuse if I knew I'd get a reported £8M pay-off which will no doubt pay for a few cocktails and rounds of golf in the Algarve, Florida or wherever.  But, in the final analysis, even unsuccessful players and managers are probably doing their best in a very competitve sport where the other team/guy is desperate to take advantage of any slip-ups.

I can only think that the people who leave abusive or threatening comments on other social media outlets are the sort of people who are loudmouth bores when they've had a few drinks in the pub.  People who are happy to criticise others they know, behind their backs.  Bullies.  Not the sort of people you'd want to come to sit near you and certainly not if you had your family present with you. I like to think that those people are in the minority - it's just that they make a lot of noise.


K P in Spain
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@john-richardson.  Well that's well and truly put the ki bosh on it!😂😂😎


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John Richardson
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@k-p-in-spain

All right I'll go into the windowless shed, otherwise known as solitary...

UTB,

John


Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @john-richardson

@k-p-in-spain

All right I'll go into the windowless shed, otherwise known as solitary...

UTB,

John

Don't forget your baseball and glove...


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Plato
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@powmillnaemor

as you say, it seems that the presence of Bamba is having a powerfull effect on the team, and i would suggest that less chopping and changing would have a beneficial effect on the entire organisation. he is ambitious to be a top coach in the game, and having him on the field of play is showing good results, as we have beaten poorish sides (something that has been beyond us for some time) most decent teams are run by leaders who live by coaching as a religion, so why not do the bleedin obvious and get him signed sealed and delivered as our leader and start a new path for the club. 


lenmasterman
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@plato

On Bamba, he gave his all, as usual, against Barnsley.

For the final 10 minutes he could scarcely put one foot in front of the other and on the final whistle sank exhausted and immoveable to the ground.

 He may well have been carrying and disguising an injury.

It did not look to me as though he could reasonably go again tomorrow, and two games a week may possibly, and unsurprisingly be beyond him.

So I would be surprised to see him playing tomorrow. And be even more in awe of him than I already am should he turn out.

But we cannot expect him to go through the season performing heroics, let alone on a twice weekly basis.


Original Fat Bob
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@powmillnaemore

The cooler king !

all together now 

Da da - da da da da da- 🎶

 

let’s hope it’s the great escape to the Premiership this season 

OFB


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K P in Spain
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@original-fat-bob. I would be happy with escape to respectability, playing football as a team which can comfortably hold its own in the top half of the league; for this season anyway. 😎


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John Richardson
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@powmill-naemore

No baseball and glove but I'm sure Steve would approve of conkers!

However I will mention to the Boss my resemblance to the famous Triumph rider!

Apparently she's not impressed...

UTB,

John


Pedro de Espana
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Great Intro OFB and some good follow up posts. Nice stats on Tav from Andy, but I still think he needs to do more to achieve what he may be capable of. 

Which Boro will turn up tomorrow, who knows. The one thing that is patently obvious though is Sol Bamba’s ability at 36. Fry and Hall do not come anywhere close.


Ken Smith
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With Boro aspiring to become a Premier League club sooner rather than later I’ve been delving into the unfair advantage that London clubs have over the rest of the opponents in the Premier League. In the 1919/20 season there were only 2 London clubs in the First Division - Arsenal and Chelsea. In the 1928/29 season there were still only 2 London clubs in the First Division - Arsenal and West Ham. However by 1989 there were 8  - Arsenal, Charlton, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Millwall, Queen’s Park Rangers, Tottenham and Wimbledon. This season there are 6, so why would Boro want to be in a League dominated by London clubs? Well, obviously Boro would. However it was Groucho Marx who said that he wouldn’t want to join a club that allowed himself to join.

Now this is only a bit of fun and my opinion only, but isn’t it time that London had its own League as eventually there could be all 12 London clubs in the Premier League. That may be good for Middlesbrough Supporters South, but I’m a little bit tired of hearing about London derbies when at the moment Hull City seems the nearest to a local derby that Boro can claim. However maybe we might have 4 local derbies to look forward to next season.That of course would mean Newcastle being relegated and Sunderland being promoted and Boro failing to be promoted.  

So which would Diasborians prefer, promotion to the Premier League or staying in the Championship and playing both the Magpies and the Mackems?  I think I know the answer to that question, but nevertheless I still think there should be some restriction on the number of clubs from one city, but how can that be implemented? 🤔

This post was modified 1 month ago by Ken Smith

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MW in Darwin
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Thanks to OFB for the intro. Not sure how todays game will go. We don't very often play well or win very often in the early kick offs. Probably because they haven't had their breakfasts. There could also be a sending off  as todays referee, Jeremy Simpson, has sent Boro players off in all of the past three seasons, McNair, Johnson and Howson. Although interestingly all of these were at the Riverside. I also hope we play in red as I really dislike teams who change to the away shirt when there is a colour clash. On whoscored.com we had three players in the team of the round, Crooks, McNair and surprisingly Lumley as I don't think Barnsley had  a shot on target. Crooks in fact was the highest rated player in the team at 8.9 and McNair second at 8.4.


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