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West Brom v Boro
 

West Brom v Boro

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Andy R
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Eight players injured. One suspended. Two consecutive defeats with five goals conceded. It’s fair to say that Boro are in a difficult spot as they make the daunting trip to The Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion this Saturday at 3pm.

Boro fans’ fears have come true as the momentum gained from three quick-fire wins to nil against struggling opposition has been well and truly arrested by two equally quick-fire defeats. And how.

We may be in Halloween/Guy Fawkes territory but you’d be forgiven for thinking that Christmas had come early with the way Boro’s men in red have been gift-wrapping goals in the past week. Goalkeeping gaffs, marking malfunctions, calamitous clearances and back-pass blunders - who do we think we are, Newcastle?

Another new-look Boro, this time including Luke Daniels, Josh Coburn and the fit-again Anfernee Djiksteel started well against Luton but blew themselves away with five minutes of second half sloppiness as the hosts stepped up the intensity and Boro dramatically disintegrated.

And now we take on high-flying West Brom.

The Baggies boing-boinged back from defeat against promotion rivals Fulham at the weekend with a 1-0 victory over Hull City on Wednesday night to cement third place in the Championship.

Sitting ten points and eleven places above Boro, the good news – maybe, any will do - is that their last seven results have been W-L-W-L-W-L-W so perhaps there is a fortunate pattern for Boro to exploit. Perhaps not, but they are certainly not as consistent as they were in their opening nine fixtures, where they went unbeaten. That said, they do remain unbeaten at home with six wins from eight games whilst Boro have only managed two away wins all season and both came against crisis-hit opposition.

Under manager Valérien Ismaël, who we may remember from leading Barnsley to the play-offs last season, this is a somewhat more direct West Brom than you might expect, though recent previous WBA managers like Tony Pulis, Roy Hodgson and Sam Allardyce were not exactly strangers to the long-ball. Still, whilst Ismaël’s football could make Neil Warnock’s side look cultured at times, you can’t argue with its effectiveness. Ismaël is currently enjoying a 53% win percentage with The Baggies and that’s the lowest he’s had since a single game stint at Greek Super League side Apollon Smyrnis, where his only game ended in a 1-0 defeat before his two year contract was terminated!.

To suit his direct 4-3-3 approach, this year’s “big man up top” is Karlan Grant, though he’s actually only 6’ 0” and may be more about power than height. Nevertheless, Grant has bagged 8 goals to lead the Baggies’ scoring charts and appears to be the main goal threat so far.

Warnock’s options are limited once again, this time with Matt Crooks suspended following his fifth yellow card of the season against Luton. You’d imagine that Peltier and possibly Watmore were both left on the bench against Luton with this game in mind but beyond that, it’s difficult to see too many changes to the Boro XI. I’m sure that Warnock will be considering the best ways to nullify a West Brom attack that are the joint-fourth highest scorers in the league but to avoid square-pegging, a return to a 4-4-2 / 4-4-1-1 could be the most sensible option with Peltier restored at left back, Djiksteel at right back and Tavernier and Howson in central midfield. That may not appear to be the most obstinate midfield but it is industrious and there aren’t many others to go to. Surely James Lea Siliki won’t be entrusted to come in for this one, will he? Who knows?

Whichever way you look at it, this is as tough a game for Boro as we’ve had all season, up there with Fulham away on the opening day. Of course, Boro managed a draw that day and there have been some surprise results for Boro at the Hawthorns in recent years with two wins in the last three games and no defeats. Indeed, West Brom have only beaten Boro once in the previous six matches at either ground.

So, a sort of reverse-typical Boro opportunity awaits doesn’t it? It’s the hope that kills you.


Ken Smith
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@Andy R 

As you say Boro’s recent visits to the Hawthorns have been successful, and to that end might give some hope for a surprise result this weekend. In fact  during my lifetime results between the two clubs at the Hawthorns have been very close. In 26 meetings Boro have won 10 times, lost 11 and drawn 5. The most notable of course was in 1974 when Jack Charlton’s team recorded successive 4-0 away wins in the same week against West Brom and Fulham two of the favourites for promotion this season. Home results during that period produced 16 Boro wins, 6 draws and only 4 defeats, 3 of which occurred in this century, the most notable being that 0-5 thrashing to Tony Mowbray’s team in 2009. If one believes in bogey teams then West Brom must consider Boro as theirs. Realistically of course these statistics should have no bearing on Saturday’s result, though West Brom did struggle to beat Hull City 1-0 at home last night.

 


Ken Smith
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Meanwhile at the Vic, Pools are looking to fill two positions  - a head of recruitment and a new manager, although Antony Sweeney not considered as a permanent manager, has been put in charge temporarily. He has performed those duties before and was part of former manager Dave Challinor’s coaching staff. He started well with a 1-0 over Everton’s under 21 team on Tuesday and they are heading Group 1 of the EFL Trophy although they need Carlisle United to lose to Morecambe to progress to the playoff stages. Firstly though Pools entertain Division 1 side Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup on Saturday, which might be their swansong.

Incidentally former manager Dave Challinor made 81 appearances for Stockport County and was a former captain, which might explain his return to the Greater Manchester based club.

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

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werdermouth
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Thanks for the preview Andy and we can only hope West Brom keep to their alternating win/lose sequence as it's hard to find any other valid reason to think Boro will return from the midlands with three points.

OK, maybe we can take encouragement from Preston's victory at leaders Bournemouth yesterday whilst ignoring Fulham's 7-0 thrashing of Blackburn at Ewood Park, which incidentally was only witnessed by just over 9,000 supporters.

I mentioned last week that Boro were sitting in mid-table obscurity as they stood three points from sixth and three points from sixth bottom. Though Neil Warnock's side are now ten points behind West Bom in third and ten points above Barnsley in third bottom - which probably better highlights that utter mid-tableness.

It's hard to see Boro in the short to medium term becoming a better more consistent side as a mixture of indifferent form and injuries have left options limited. I suspect the reaction to Luton will probably involve shoring up the defence and midfield and likely less attack-minded players (albeit seemingly only in their heads) on the pitch.

We can only hope Boro don't go into the international break on a run of three consecutive defeats - I'd place the Baggies as favourites on Saturday but the real measure of Boro will come after the break when they will face three sides around them in Millwall, Preston and Huddersfield. If we see no signs of progress after those games then Steve Gibson will enter December possibly with another Festive decision to make before the traditional post-Christmas slump begins!


Ken Smith
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Oops, and apologies to all Pools fans! Hartlepool have already qualified for the knockout stages of the EFL Trophy as the top two of the 8 regional divisions go forward into the playoff stages. Mea Culpa!


jarkko
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Who remembers the wonder goal that was scored by Ashley Fletcher at West Brom?

We can only dream to see a similar performance on Saturday.

But I guess we cannot lose three matches in succession. Hence I will go for a one all draw. Sporar to score.

Well, I am optimistic as ever. I hope Payero will be back. But the missing of Crooks will be difficult. So we will be lucky if we got a point.

Up the Boro! 


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Martin Bellamy
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A bit off topic but Boro related:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/59067340

Oh, to have a Ravanelli again. 


deleriad
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The Baggies play the kind of intense, high-pressing game we crumble against so it's hard to see us getting anything out of this. Last year, Barnsley beat us quite comfortably at home and WBA will be a lot harder than that.

That said, WBA haven't been all that consistent and could misfire against us. They tend to play some version of 3-4-3 so I expect we'll stick with 3 at the back. Without Crooks we'll be hoping to get Payero back because otherwise we're looking at a powderpuff midfield of Howson and Lea Siliki. My roll of the random Warnock formation generator gives 4-1-4-1

Daniels

Dijksteel McNair Bamba Peltier

Howson

Jones Payero/JLS Tav Hernandez

Sporar

Scores wise, I'll go for the traditional 0-2, we all lose two nil.


John Richardson
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Andy,

Thank you for a fine leader article about a game that will be be a truly tough encounter for the Boro. Our defence struggles in the second half so even a two goal lead wouldn't be enough. In old fashioned phraseology Boro could be in for a real drubbing so let's all hope that the right version of the 'unpredictables' turns up.

On form it's a 4-0 defeat and a lot of psychological damage too. Mind you as fans we suffer like that almost every week but really we haven't clue or any kind of form to base it on.

Now, I know Mr Warnock said his team are like a box of chocolates but even that poses a question, are they milk, dark or laxative?

I leave that for you to decide.

Meanwhile UTB,

John


K P in Spain
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Thanks Andy for your preview. I am sorry to say it but I have become disillusioned with the Boro and I haven't been able to get up any enthusiasm to post much after Tuesday's abject capitulation, as most of it has been said already.

I posted previously that I wouldn't be surprised to see us lose three in a row after winning three on the bounce and end up going into the international break on the back of three loses which would not be good for team spirit/confidence; I have not seen anything since to change this view and the loss of Ikpeazu to injury and Crooks to suspension only adds to the team's difficulties. 

If we are to get anything from the game against the Baggies then it has to be 4141 for me but can see us going down by 3-0 or possibly worse if we have more mad moments like we have had in the last two games, which has seen us concede 5 and score only 1.  

I am not particularly looking forward to Saturday as I am losing all hope and belief in the management and the team. 😎

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

Original Fat Bob
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Many thanks Andy for a great preview full of facts and well researched.

Hopefully Warnock will send a rocket up some of his non performing players as we don’t want to go crackers over another defeat.

I wheely wheely want to win this one I suppose it’s the bonfire of the vanities.

To be fair we don’t hold a candle Roman or otherwise to the top three teams and there’s little sparkling performances.

We need to have a banger performance  not a damp squib or there will be fireworks from the fans.

So will we be putting the guy Warnock on the bonfire and saying Fawkes off? Or will we be having a laugh with a few  roasted spuds or giving the apples a good ducking !

Thanks again Andy much appreciated 

 

OFB


Original Fat Bob
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@john-richardson

Definitely laxative at the moment!

OFB 


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K P in Spain
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@original-fat-bob. A well crafted article thank you OFB.  It brought a bit of cheer after some damp squib performances. 😎


K P in Spain
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@original-fat-bob.  Never mind laxative more like an enema!😎


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werdermouth
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@deleriad

It does look a bit grim in terms of starting options - Siliki still looked off the pace when he came on and doesn't look like he'll offer much of a shield for our leaky defence. Therefore, I'd agree that with Crooks suspended then we desperately need Payero to be fit.

Watmore and Peltier were the only other senior players on the bench along with the now invisible Olusanya and a few academy players. Watmore also made little impact when he came on as sub so I wonder if Coburn will get another start.

As for the defence, well Lumley may return and a back four with Peltier is likely the response to shipping goals. Knowing Warnock he'll probably come up with another new formation in his bid to outsmart the opposition manager 🤔 


Redcar Red
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Posted by: @werdermouth

Knowing Warnock he'll probably come up with another new formation in his bid to outsmart the opposition manager

Howson in Goal and Bamba RWB, that should confuse them.

I really hope Warnock doesn't read this!


Forever Dormo
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I started three times to write a paragraph explaining what would need to happen for Boro to get a win at WBA.  I have deleted each time.  I now give up.  I hope the coaching staff and players haven't done the same.  Sorry....


Clive Hurren
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Great opener, Andy. Thank you. 

i can’t see us creating much against the Baggies. How ironic that in recent seasons Boro won twice there with 2 goals from Assombalonga under Pulis and that goal-of-the-season worldy from Fletcher more recently. We were expected to lose both games. If only we had strikers of the calibre of those two now……….. !!!!!!!! (Only kidding - don’t all go spluttering into your beers/ Malbecs). 

I think Warnock will aim to keep it tight, so I expect just the lone striker. That’ll make a change, then ………. It could be a tight game. Nonetheless, I think we’ll lose, probably 1-0. 


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Redcar Red
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Posted by: @forever-dormo

I now give up.  I hope the coaching staff and players haven't done the same.

Rest assured FD it's only in the second half they give up, well abject surrender really.


Andy R
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Topic starter  

I had assumed that Payero would still be unavailable given that he didn't even make the bench for Luton.

My suggested team to keep players in familiar roles as much as anything else would be:

Lumley

Djiksteel McNair Bamba Peltier

Hernandez Howson Tavernier Jones

Watmore

Sporar


Ken Smith
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Maybe Warnock will try something different like a 6-2-2 formation. Anyway I’ll miss all the excitement as I am booked in for my Covid booster jab.


Andy R
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Boro’s little run of wins may have come against straightforward opposition but they also came when we were down to the bare bones of the squad, as we are again tomorrow. We also seem to be a bit of a bogey team for West Brom of late.

I’m going to throw all common sense out of the window and go for a typical Boro smash-and-grab coupon buster.

West Brom 0-1 Boro


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jarkko
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As Fabrizio Ravanelli wants to become the next manager of Hartlepool United, I think it could be a two horse race. I will go for Woodgate to take over at the Pools.

Of course this is just speculation. But wouldn't be surprised to see an ex-Boro player there. Up the Boro!


jarkko
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I hope this will be true come Saturday:

Posted by: @andy-r

Boro’s little run of wins may have come against straightforward opposition but they also came when we were down to the bare bones of the squad, as we are again tomorrow. We also seem to be a bit of a bogey team for West Brom of late.

I’m going to throw all common sense out of the window and go for a typical Boro smash-and-grab coupon buster.

West Brom 0-1 Boro

Up the Boro!


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werdermouth
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Posted by: @andy-r

I had assumed that Payero would still be unavailable given that he didn't even make the bench for Luton.

Just reading the MFC website, it sounds like Payero and possibly Grant Hall may be available on Saturday.

Neil Warnock said: "Martin [Payero] was on the grass on Thursday and Grant Hall was as well, Martin was fatigued really."

Well I'm presuming he meant on the training pitch rather than smoking something dodgy - Boro players have looked a bit spaced out in recent games as it is without any assistance!


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werdermouth
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Following the Luton defeat, Neil Warnock suggested that his team was too nice and he wants them to be nastier. However, he may want to have a look at the current Championship Fair Play table, where he'll discover his 'too nice' team are currently rock bottom with the most yellow and red cards. He may find he'll be struggling to find eleven players if they get nastier and pick up more cautions!


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Redcar Red
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Posted by: @werdermouth

he may want to have a look at the current Championship Fair Play table, where he'll discover his 'too nice' team are currently rock bottom with the most yellow and red cards.

The table is clearly lying, just can't trust these tables!


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Ken Smith
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@jarkko 

Colin Cooper and  Craig Hignett have already tried, but Jonathan Woodgate might be a good shout.


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Philip of Huddersfield
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Yorkshire Cricket Club has certainly kicked football off the back pages and other sports pages as well. They couldn’t have handled the issue any worse even if they tried.

We now have ‘the whole world’ putting forward their views when only part of the report has been released.

I heard an interesting comment from one journalist who said that there is a tremendous amount of cricket talent of young Asians in Yorkshire but , probably because of racism, they get lost to the senior game at around 18- 19 years of age.

This may or may not be true. What  is true is that  in local senior cricket there is a culture of drinking in the Clubhouse after the game  and  this is a reason why some drift away from the game.

What we need is full release of the report so that the context of the allegations and conclusions can be understood.

Philip of Huddersfield 

ps , sorry about the change of sport but tomorrow’s game gives me very little hope of even a point or indeed, a good performance in losing. The team formation, tactics and style of play seems to be “all over the shop”


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Original Fat Bob
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@philip-of-huddersfield

Good Post I think Boro will get their bails whipped off tomorrow and Warnock is batting on a sticky wicket !

He thinks he’s bullet proof at the moment because he is due to speak at a Boro dinner at the Riverside shortly !

 

OFB


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