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Reading v Boro
 

Reading v Boro

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Andy R
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My Aberdonian in-laws consider me to be a fairly quiet, easy-going sort of chap. It’s fair to say that they got a bit of a shock at around 21:30 on Wednesday night as D'Margio Wright-Phillips headed in a late, late equaliser to deny Boro our first win of the season. The goal may have come in the red zone but the air in this particular corner of north-east Scotland was distinctly blue and I’m not sure which of us will get over it soonest!

In the end it was yet another game where we came away not quite sure where we are as a team. Boro bossed it, looking by far the better side throughout with some purposeful passing, magical movement and delicious deliveries especially from the impressive Ryan Giles on the left. The stats backed up what could be seen with the eye - Boro having 60% possession including 165 more passes, 15 shots to Stoke’s 9 and twice as many corners. How did we not win that? Yet we didn’t. Again.

Were Boro unlucky? Maybe a little bit. Certainly Stoke’s opener could easily have been ruled out for a foul on Isaiah Jones that led to the decisive breakaway. Stoke were perhaps also a little fortunate that a couple of goal bound efforts from Boro spun wide but credit to them for some last ditch, committed blocking. How Boro could have done with the same in injury time as Bola, Jones and McNair all went missing for that heartbreaking equaliser whilst, in truth, Lewis Baker ought to have scored moments before.

Those blummin’ fine margins. Watmore against West Brom, and again when hitting the post against Sheffield United. It could have looked quite different. It is what it is, as one familiar voice used to say, and Boro need to start making their own luck quickly.

On the positive side, this was by far the closest Boro have come to victory this season and the side played very well overall. McGree rediscovered himself in a more advanced midfield role, Bola added some balance to the backline with his best performance of the season so far and Lenihan also put in his best shift to date. Giles continues to look so devilishly dangerous down the left and Watmore ran his socks off, causing the ageing Phil Jagielka all sorts of problems. Also, Alex Mowatt has seamlessly slotted in and looks a smart addition already with his midfield mix of silk and steel.

As it stands, Boro are a classic glass half-full/half-empty conundrum and you can take your pick as to whether you think this is a strong attacking side waiting to burst up the table, or one with serious defensive deficiencies that can’t get the job done.

The next evidence for or against will come from another away game down at Reading on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

Paul Ince’s side were widely considered to be relegation candidates but have bagged six points so far despite a heavy 4-0 loss at newly promoted yo-yo specialists Rotherham United. An opening day win against Cardiff wasn’t too much of a surprise but Wednesday night’s 3-0 thumping of early pace-setters Blackburn Rovers certainly was and The Royals now sit comfortably in 8th place, just three points off the top. Ince described the win as his side’s best performance since he became manager as he brought about an excellent response from his charges following that Rotherham defeat.

Ince has certainly been busy over the summer, bringing in 9 new faces including son Tom, pacey forward Shane Long, midfielder Jeff Hendrick and, of course, Boro’s Joe Lumley who has started all three games. I assume that Lumley will be ineligible for Saturday’s encounter, though that’s somewhat of a shame as Joe would have had a great opportunity to become a Boro fans’ favourite at long last!

Reading are another side who favour a back 3 and wingbacks but don’t play a possession-based game, averaging just 42% in their three Championship games this season. In fact, the Rotherham defeat was the only game where they’ve enjoyed more than 40% of the ball, though perhaps “enjoyed” is the wrong word. Expect Boro to dominate the ball in this one then and no doubt look good on the eye once more.

Can we translate that into three valuable points however? Chris Wilder will certainly hope so before any simmering doubts turn into outright finger pointing.

The manager does at least have some selection decisions to make. Whilst the likes of Steffen, Jones, Giles, Howson and Mowatt seem reasonably locked in, the back three remains interchangeable at this stage with no-one yet making a cast iron case for inclusion. The front line is also somewhat of a patchwork. Watmore rarely starts consecutive games whilst the rejuvenated Chuba Akpom missed midweek with a knock. Forss is a finisher but so far has offered very little outside of the box whilst Hoppe is yet to be trusted. Perhaps oddly, midfielder McGree is the most likely to start up top in the role he looks most comfortable. Elsewhere, it seems to be a straight contest between Paddy McNair and Matt Crooks for the right-sided number 8 position with Crooks back from illness, though McNair could also move back into the defence.

Wilder will be hoping to have further selection queries via the arrival of fresh faces but with so little time between games, it seems highly unlikely that any new signings would make the starting XI.

So with Reading exceeding pre-season expectations thus far and Boro looking exciting and exposed in equal measure, this has become a tough game to call. I wish Joe Lumley was playing…. (sorry Joe)


Original Fat Bob
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A great opening post Andy which echoes all our sentiments about the closing minutes of the game on Wednesday! (Expletives excluded !)

it’s fair to say that after such a large turn around in players the Boro are once again in a transformative situation and are extremely light up front with regard to strikers. 

Like most teams Boro need a clinical finisher and a loan signing or two would appear to be on the horizon with a centre half from Chelsea and a striker from Fulham rumoured to be the answers.

Boro now have pace and width down both flanks and hopefully with experienced referees identifying when a foul is committed we will have more goal scoring opportunities we can turn into goals.

In pretty confident about this game and although the foam hands have a few holes in them now I’m going for a 0-3 Boro win !

OFB


Original Fat Bob
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Sources: Fulham star Rodrigo Muniz undergoes Middlesbrough medical as deal agreed

Middlesbrough have agreed a deal to sign Fulham striker Rodrigo Muniz, sources have told Football Insider.

The 21-year-old started a Boro medical on Thursday as he puts the finishing touches to a loan transfer.

OFB


deleriad
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Andy's opener lays it out well. Reading, like us, are a team in transition and appear to be very inconsistent. It is also a real surprise to see Paul Ince there as manager. After a pretty indifferent managerial career, I thought he had given up in 2014. 

If we are serious about aiming for at least the play-offs this season, this match really is one we have to expect to win. I'm sure Blackburn would have said the same before Reading tonked them 3-0. 

Sounds like Muniz might be available for this. Knowing Wilder, this will be another striker to add to the bench while he starts with Watmore and McGree. Admittedly, Watmore & McGree does sound like a 1970s Private Detective Agency.

Even more so than normal, this feels like a match that's impossible to predict but if we don't get a good result the Swansea game starts to feel quite pressured.


David in Cumbria
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Thanks Andy. While I was just following the Boro v Stoke match on Radio Tees and the BBC live text Stoke's late equaliser really irritated me. (I did look at the BORO website before the match but missed the the fact that it was available to watch in the UK.)

I seem to have aged considerably in the 3 years since Covid with lock downs and other restrictions came into our lives and my usual passive acceptance of what goes on has been replaced by awareness of how much I have slowed down and the aches and pains that are now normal. The travelling for the last 5 home games in 25 days in April left me tired and dispirited when we missed the play offs and while I enjoyed the friendly against Marseille our league/cup results so far this season have made me wonder why I am wasting my time/money even more than the poor performances when Warnock was manager. I very much hope we at last get a win against Reading and that is the start of a run of wins to brighten things up. While I have got hotel rooms booked for the matches against Swansea, Sunderland and Rotherham, waiting for news about possible rail strikes means, my attendance is still annoyingly uncertain. I won't be at the Cardiff match as, when I checked room prices a couple of weeks ago, they started at £93!

The loan signing of Muniz fills one of Wilder's gaps but with Forss and Hoppe also young and inexperienced in Championship football, we will just have to wait and see if they give us the goals we need. Missing out on Greaves means we will have to search for another defensive cover.     


Ken Smith
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That was arguably Andy’s best opener yet, and describes perfectly the season up to date.  

I sympathise with David in Cumbria, especially how some of us have aged in the last three years. I myself because of Covid am almost housebound, holidays a thing of the past, hardly ever drive anymore  but lucky to have friends from Age concern UK who do all my shopping. I miss my favourite hobby of gardening and now with bowel incontinece have  adhered to advice to drink only decaf coffee and have given up drinking any form of alcohol. My cancer consultant informs me that my PSA level has now increased from 36.8 to 45 although as yet doesn’t seem too concerned so if he isn’t worried about my health problems, then why should I?  

So to hell with all NHS advice I’m tasting real coffee once more, and back to drinking red wine at least. Life is for living and although I can hardly stand up never mind walk I’ve decided to stop giving up any more of life’s pleasures but learn to put up with my health inadequencies. Financially I’m lucky having taken equity release on my property 16 years ago. Obviously I don’t know David’s financial position, but my advice would be to continue following the Boro if that gives him his greatest pleasure no matter how frustrating his travel arrangements can sometimes be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ken Smith
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There used to be a saying that a good referee is one you never notice. In fact the term ‘referee’ suggests that he/she is somebody to refer to if captains can’t agree on decisions. But I suppose chaos would ensue without them, but just like everyone else they make mistakes. So credit to Michael Salisbury for acknowledging his mistake in not giving Boro a free kick for what appeared a blatant foul on Isiah Jones that resulted in Stoke’s opening goal on Wednesday.


lenmasterman
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Terrific opener, Andy.  Many thanks.

 


exmil
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Another great opener, thank you Andy.

Come on BORO.


Philip of Huddersfield
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The latest information that Boro are signing Munez on a year’s loan brings the number of forwards to 5 -  Hoppe , Forss, Watmore, Akpom and now Munez .
We are told that Munez scored 5 goals last season as a substitute as though it’s impressive- it’s not for me as he was playing for the most attacking and highest goal scoring team.

Which of these 5 forwards are going to score 15- 20 goals? Which is a certainty to score 10 - 15?   I’m not optimistic and think that these 5 are not significantly better than the group last season. With this group I  can see 2 starting a game and 2 more coming on as substitutes. I’d much prefer 2 forwards who are good enough to play a whole game with substitutes only coming on for the last few minutes.

So, I believe, we still need a forward who is far better than any of the above and who will be the first name on the team sheet as the number one goal scorer.

Having said that we also need to address a team conceding an average of 2 goals per game- if this is not addressed than there’s no way of a top 6 finish 

Philip of Huddersfield 


deleriad
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Posted by: @philip-of-huddersfield

We are told that Munez scored 5 goals last season as a substitute as though it’s impressive- it’s not for me as he was playing for the most attacking and highest goal scoring team.

...

Having said that we also need to address a team conceding an average of 2 goals per game- if this is not addressed than there’s no way of a top 6 finish 

Philip of Huddersfield 

To be fair to Muniz, he hardly got a look in because Fulham played with one striker and that was Mitrovich. That said, his record in the Championship last year was roughly equal to Coburn's so it is hard to see why we would loan Muniz in only to loan Coburn out. In theory he has had one extra year of senior level football compared to Coburn but that's in Brazil and as we've seen with Payero, that doesn't count for a lot with Wilder. So I am also sceptical about Muniz. On the gripping hand, Fulham fans seem to rate him and he seems to have made a positive impression with what little time he had.

Thing is, you're right. Our problem this season hasn't been scoring goals it's been stopping them. Until we sort that out it's going to be like Brian Clough playing for us: no matter how fast he scored them, we shipped them in even faster. That does mean tweaking our shape to be more solid and that will undoubtedly mean we'll create fewer chances. So, ironically, a better striker will enable us to keep the number of goals we score high. Although we have been scoring freely it's because of the quantity and quality of the chances we've been creating, not because of the skill of our strikers. 

After all that, I'm cautiously positive about Muniz but it has to be said that Muniz, Forss, Hoppe (and even Akpom) are all gambles. None of them have succeeded at the Championship level up to now. The hope has to be that 1 or 2 of them have a 15+ goal season but it is distinctly possible that none of them will prove to be up to scratch. You know with Watmore that you'll get 7-10 goals in a season from him. Akpom has had a really good start but has been a serial failure everywhere else. 


K P in Spain
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Thanks Andy for another enjoyable opener, well balanced and informative.

If we keep playing as we did on Wednesday then sooner or later we have to win and if we don’t then I would always prefer a draw to losing; that being said it felt as if we had lost when Stoke’s late equaliser went in!

We found McGree’s best position on Wednesday and I am sure whoever he plays alongside he will create opportunities.

Given I have not predicted a correct score so far I hesitate to make a prediction and will just hope that our worst case scenario is another point. CoB 😎


Powmill-Naemore
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Thanks AndyR for (yet) another well penned opener. We are blessed to have both you and OFB prepared to take the time out to post with such consistent quality.

 

Consistent. That's what we need to see the Boro being. I think we have started to see that we can deliver a strong performance over the full 90 minutes now, but we have to do that regularly and hopefully not revert to the 50% good 50% poor that we have witnessed this season as well. I will be glass half full and believe we will carry on the form against Stoke into the Thames Valley on Saturday.  If we do, the goals will surely start to come a little more easily. If we don't then I worry that as Deleriad suggested the pressure will start to be on and Swansea will be an absolute must-win game if we are not to begin to be left behind.

We have a goal in us (to give away !!), but I think we will prevail and come away with our first victory this season, Reading 1, Boro 2.

 

CoB


Clive Hurren
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Posted by: @powmillnaemore

Thanks AndyR for (yet) another well penned opener. We are blessed to have both you and OFB prepared to take the time out to post with such consistent quality.

Hear, hear!

if we play even nearly as well as we did against Stoke, then we will surely have too much for Reading. Their defence is not exactly watertight, even if Lumley doesn’t play. I’m going for 2-0 to Boro. 


Andy R
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Topic starter  

Thanks for the kind comments. A pleasure to read them.

Good post above from Deleriad, as ever.

I suspect that Muniz will turn out to be the most accomplished/ready of the strikers we’ve signed, though Akpom may yet be the main man overall as Wilder’s setup really suits him.

The way we play now, the strikers job is considerably easier as so many of the chances created fall within the six yard box. A striker who’s well bedded in to Wilderball, with an instinct for space and a splash of composure will score plenty of goals for us.

I’m therefore a little surprised that we’ve brought in so many to be honest. Forss, to me, looks like a predator and perhaps not much more, but Coburn looked the same and I would have thought that 5 including Coburn was enough, even if none are proven as prolific. As I say, I suspect Muniz will be a decent contributor so it’s the Hoppe signing that leaves me scratching my head a little bit. Was he needed?

We may not get one of them to score 20+ but that is as much because Wilder rotates and substitutes his forwards so heavily. Ultimately, if they get 45 between them it doesn’t matter, so long as the midfielders chip in with their share too.

I don’t have any real concerns about scoring goals this season as we’re setup to open teams up and create simpler scoring opportunities. Even the best sides will do well to keep a clean sheet against us and many a Premier League side would as well in my opinion.

Its the other end that we need to improve, and it’s likely not a matter of personnel. I don’t see Wilder changing shape or tactics however, so we’ll simply have to be better.

I do really enjoy the way we play though and would much rather be a high scoring/high conceding team than drab 0-0 specialists. I’ve had enough of that.

This post was modified 1 month ago 2 times by Andy R

werdermouth
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Thanks for another top preview Andy and perhaps you could explain to the inlaws that you're only mild mannered and easy going because your darker side is released when watching typical Boro! Still I suspect they probably prepared you a perfect breakfast the next day just to be on the safe side - "We better not burn the toast and upset the wee lad again" 😉 

As to whether we should expect an upset at Reading is hard to call - if the Boro pattern of scoring two and conceding at least two continues then installing a swear box may at least help pay for the gas bill.

In theory Wilder should be able to sort out the defence but the back three have been chopped and changed quite a bit of late to it may take time to settle down as a unit - especially as the midfield is also still being honed. Mowatt looks like he should add something extra and maybe McNair won't be needed in defence as Dijksteel is too good for the bench.

I'm still puzzled by the growing number of forwards being accumulated by the club and am still wondering if they'll end up paying big money for that marquee striker. The arrival of Muniz appears to have ignored the revival of Akpom and Boro now have 3 or 4 project strikers to rotate. Perhaps Muniz has the guile to play as a number ten - we shall wait and see how they all fit together or if indeed they all end up staying.

The arrival of Muniz would make Boro even more reliant on loans as that adds to Steffen, Giles and Mowatt - if Ampadu also arrived from Chelsea then that would make half of the team and then yet another rebuild in 12 months time.

It won't matter too much if they help Boro to promotion as we'll be in for a major rebuild in any case. OK, better not get ahead of myself - Boro currently sit in 20th and await their first win of the season - I'm hoping it comes tomorrow otherwise I may be topping up the swear box more than I was planning...

 

 


John Richardson
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Thanks Andy, an informative and thought provoking read about the enigma that is Boro, perhaps Erimus should be changed to Enigma on the town coat of arms?

Now for Reading who are in a position that some would say flatters them but they are there based on results gained, just as Boro are. What of the result then, well I'm staying out of the forecasting scene since I seem to put a kibosh on the team or maybe they do it themselves. Just tell Macnair where row Z is located please Mr Wilder particularly when we are in the Stevie Mac 'Red Zone'.

UTB,

John

 

This post was modified 1 month ago by John Richardson

lenmasterman
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Yes, Andy.  Agree with every word.

I'm looking forward to this season as much as any for a very long time. I think it will be an enjoyable and positive ride.

 

 


Pedro de Espana
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Thank you Andy for a well put together Headliner. They are coming around faster than a train, well when they are running, and both you and OFB have started in good form, unlike the Boro. 😆 

Well it looks as though we are getting up to CW’s required number of strikers with the imminent arrival of Muniz. 

Am I happy, not really. I believe that we require both the defence and midfield  to be upgraded as a priority over another “Project” forward.

Whilst the football has been more entertaining at times with an increased number of goals scored than previously, the goals against and mistakes made has risen sharply, and the wins ratio continues to drop significantly in 2022.

So Reading away this afternoon and will there be an upturn in Mr Wilders stats.

Our away record is not good enough for a team looking to make the play offs. In fact as deleriad pointed out our points totals for this year have been poor. Can CW get the team to cut out the constant mistakes. Can the midfield start winning the battles. 

Let’s see where we are at 04.45.

This post was modified 1 month ago 2 times by Pedro de Espana

Allan in Bahrain
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Thanks to Andy for the opener and the rest of the gang for their comments, I feel privileged to be part of this blog with so much intelligent thought and contributors.

I got back from Saudi just in time to watch the Stoke game and although gutted at the end I thought the Boro did pretty well.

As has been commented, it's not as if we were under the cosh with no clue what to do.

So I am hopeful for a 2-0 win for the Boro tonight.


Original Fat Bob
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I always liked Paul Ince as a player and as a coach. He always seemed committed and whilst he often played with a snarl on his face he also played with a cheeky grin. 

I remember a few years ago I was flying back with my wife from the south of France and Swindon Town FC were in our flight. I was seated next to Glenn Hoddle and Paul Ince was sat across from us on the aisle seat. We spent a good two hours talking Football   and the flight passed too quickly.

One thing Paul Ince did say was that during his career, playing for the Boro was one of the happiest times of his life and that he would always have a soft spot for the club and their supporters who meant so much to him. It was nice to hear and he insisted when we left the plane that I tell everyone how much he loved the club. 

So a little story shared today and hopefully he won’t bag all the points today !

OFB


Ken Smith
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If one believes in lucky opponents for managers then today’s is a certain win for Chris Wilder as his teams have a 100% record against Reading with 6 wins home and away.


K P in Spain
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Posted by: @ken

If one believes in lucky opponents for managers then today’s is a certain win for Chris Wilder as his teams have a 100% record against Reading with 6 wins home and away.

That’s well and truly bound to put a spanner in the works! 🤣😎


exmil
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Posted by: @pedro

Thank you Andy for a well put together Headliner. They are coming around faster than a train, well when they are running, and both you and OFB have started in good form, unlike the Boro. 😆 

Well it looks as though we are getting up to CW’s required number of strikers with the imminent arrival of Muniz. 

Am I happy, not really. I believe that we require both the defence and midfield  to be upgraded as a priority over another “Project” forward.

Whilst the football has been more entertaining at times with an increased number of goals scored than previously, the goals against and mistakes made has risen sharply, and the wins ratio continues to drop significantly in 2022.

So Reading away this afternoon and will there be an upturn in Mr Wilders stats.

Our away record is not good enough for a team looking to make the play offs. In fact as deleriad pointed out our points totals for this year have been poor. Can CW get the team to cut out the constant mistakes. Can the midfield start winning the battles. 

Let’s see where we are at 04.45.

Pedro, at 04:45 I hope to fast asleep in bed, otherwise I am going home 😂.

Come on BORO.


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werdermouth
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Posted by: @werdermouth

Muniz is essentially another gamble and has barely played since January with just 132 minutes of Championship football over 11 games (average 12 mins per game). While his stats show he scored 5 goals, one was a shot by Carvalho that deflected off him - he also scored two goals in a 7-0 win against Blackburn, who had a man sent off early and Fulham were already 4-0 up before he came on. Out of those 488 minutes over 25 games, he played 90 minutes twice so those 23 sub appearances lasted on average 13 minutes.

Here's what I posted 4 weeks a go about Muniz when it was reported Boro were trying to sign him on loan - he's seriously lacking pitch time since he arrived in England so he may take a while to get up to match fitness. Plus those 5 goals are in reality 4.

He's essentially another gamble and in truth hasn't hardly played any top-flight football in his career - just 19 games in Brazil, which included a loan spell at Coritiba where he made six appearances before being sent back early to Flamengo. He has scored just 4 goals in total in Brazil's Serie A so it's hard to see how he commanded such a high fee when moving to Fulham.

It looks like he probably has talent but hardly any experience and there is a risk he becomes another Carlos de Pena (who?) - he was another South American than Boro splashed nearly £3m on who barely played a game and his only notable moment was being involved in a minor car crash with his mother in the rush to sign the deal.

Hopefully, Muniz is just waiting to show his talent and kick-start his career - but he joins a crowded strike-force who are likewise all waiting to get an opportunity. Unfortunately, they all can't get much-needed pitch-time to get up and running and I suspect they'll have to be content with cameos from the bench until one can prove their striking credentials. I would think Watmore and Akpom will be Wilder's go-to strikers for the foreseeable future along with Forss. Unless of course Boro do indeed sign that marquee striker in the next two weeks - at which point we may see just as little of Muniz as Fulham supporters did and even less of Hoppe!

This post was modified 1 month ago by werdermouth

John Richardson
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Ken,

That's a dodgier way of predicating and putting the hex on the game than any of mine... Please no.

UTB,

John


MW in Darwin
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Thanks for the opener Andy. I hope that today is our first clean sheet and win. On another note I see DJed Spence is not in the Spurs squad today and checking the Wolves first team squad they have no English players.


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jarkko
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Fry starts! But no Chuba. Up the Boro! 

 


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Stircrazy
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Posted by: @jarkko

Fry starts! But no Chuba. Up the Boro! 

 

Fry replaces Dijksteel & Forss Watmore.  Akpom's knee is still knackered, according to Vic. 

Image

 


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Original Fat Bob
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Traore on for Wolves !


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