Wigan v Boro
Wigan v Boro
Wednesday 19th October 2022
DW Stadium k,o, 19:45
Boro continue on their way to the DW stadium as part of their relentless travails through the championship hurdles, with the promise of the Premiership promised land waiting at the end of the journey. A midweek game that needs so desperately to be won, to ensure that we are not to be cast adrift from the other teams that are still so close to us at the bottom end of the Championship.
A season that we were all so looking forward to with anticipation, has rapidly turned sour and now Boro are facing the distinct threat of reality and relegation to the lower leagues.
I don’t intend to pull any punches in this post but to state quite frankly how I see it at present. Hopefully this will bring to the fore what most of us Diasborians have been thinking and saying volubly and intelligently these past few weeks.
So what do we have ?
We have a team that apparently has no fight, full of defensive frailty, no real pace or inventiveness in midfield. A team that can’t score even tap in goals. A pedestrian and ball watching defence and no real leadership.
Turning to leadership Is the leadership lacking on the pitch or on the touch line? I would argue that it’s both. Beginning with the direction to be cascaded down from our Chairman (and owner!) through to his Chief Executive. Where on the pitch is the snarling voice of a Nigel Pearson or the determination of a Leadbitter to urge the team on? Whilst we do have Howson whose playing style of leading by example follows the ethos of a young Tony Mowbray, albeit in a different position, Howson cannot dominate games due to ageing and tiring legs and should have been replaced during the close season. Where also is the manager with the nous and ability to change shape and formation of our team to suit differing opposition styles and attributes? We haven’t had a manager with the tactical nous since, (dare I say it?) McClaren!
Boro did change shape on Saturday at half time from three at the back to a flat back four, which together with the fact that Blackburn sat back a bit considering quite rightly that the job was done, improved the performance of the Boro team. Is it possible that the shape of the Boro team will in future be re-adjusted to a flat back four? It’s been apparent for some time that three at the back and wing backs wasn’t working and had been sussed out by all the opposing teams. The shape and formation have to change. Ryan Giles for example has been used as a winger in previous loan deals and not as a wing-back. His defensive capabilities have been proven to be a bit suspect, but he has also shown that he is a superb crosser of the ball which cries out for a bustling centre forward to get on the end of it and score. On the other wing, Jones has only sporadically shown the form that catapulted him into the forefront of everyone’s thoughts when thinking of exciting young players at the Boro. Jones did give us a glimpse of his skills during the second half against Blackburn but in my opinion he should play through his off periods to regain his mojo as even at a 50% performance he does create goal scoring chances.
There is also no doubt that Boro do miss the energy of Tavernier who brought so much to the team. The fact that he wasn’t suitably replaced and was transferred so close to the start of the season has to be a senior management decision and not one that we can lay at the door of our former manager Wilder.
What has happened to the fitness regime at the Boro? Why are we so slow and second to the ball. Why do Fry and Paddy look like they’ve never played for the team before and have gone backwards in their positional and defensive capabilities.
Fortunately our American International goalkeeper Zack Steffen seems to have discovered some form and produced two saves to keep out certain goals and a very embarrassing score line!
Wigan who are in 15th position in the league having played 14 games have accumulated 19 points. The Boro after a disastrous game on Saturday have now dropped to 22nd in the league also having played 14 games but only accumulating 13 points.
The last season was a successful one for the Latics as they gained promotion up to the Championship under the management of Leam Richardson going up as League One Champions.
Wigan are not having a bad season back in the second tier and as stated previously, they sit 15th in the league which they would no doubt take come the end of the season. What’s more, given the club didn’t make many signings over the summer transfer window, it’s an impressive achievement so far.
Wigan’s form this month has however been fairly inconsistent with two wins and three losses.
One of the wins came against Rotherham which given they are considered a lowly side doesn’t come as that much of a shock. The other sides Wigan lost to this month are Hull, Cardiff and Sunderland.
Boro will be up against a Boro born striker and former player on Wednesday, namely Charlie Wyke who was with the Boro from 1997 to 2015! (Yes I checked the dates!) I always liked Charlie and there was some talk about him returning to Boro from Sunderland this season but he signed for Wigan instead. He scored a cracking goal against Sunderland on Saturday so let’s hope he doesn’t make a habit of scoring against his former clubs.
Well Diasborians it’s going to be an interesting few days this week. Will we get a new first team coach? Or will we get a new bus instead? Will we dispense with our Director of Football and get a manager who is also responsible for identifying players he wants in his team? Will Leo depart back to Uruguay? Will a Geordie ex Manchester United player come and take over team affairs and will he be the right one? Will we win against Wigan and move out of the bottom three ?
I’m going for a 1-2 win for Boro!
I still have the faith (just !)
@original fat bob
excellent summary of where we stand.
The second half against Blackburn did give me a glimmer of hope because we ended up dominating the game and should have equalised and could have stolen the points which would have been highway robbery after the first half hour.
why did we look better? Because we changed system to one that enabled us to get more players forward centrally. The wingback system is all very well but with three players at the back, a defensive midfield player and the wide players/wingbacks we have too few players in the centre. When we switched to a back four, we automatically released an extra player - in this case McNair - to play in central midfield and we started to dominate the middle of the ground and Blackburn retreated.
against Wigan we should play a variation of 4-4-2 with Bola and Dijksteel as full backs alongside Fry and Lenihan. Howson can sit in front and Giles, Jones plus 1 from Hackney/Crooks/McRee can play behind Watmore and Muniz.
that gives us the chance to score which should make all the difference.
Well the Nightmare start to the season continues. Thanks to OFB for braving the opener.
I see a lot of talk about changing formation, changing to 4 at the back and so on. Personally, I'm with Mowbray: it's about the players not the formations. Right now it looks like our players are completely shell-shocked. Without a new manager in place, Leo needs to find a way to give the players some sort of kickstart of confidence. Ironically then, although I don't think the formation is the problem, changing the formation and changing things around may give the players something to believe in.
Funnily enough I feel like we may end up getting a result because sometimes, when things are going as badly as they are, it forces teams to either stand up and be counted or to crumble. I remain of the opinion that this squad, flawed as it may be, can turn it around.
With McNair out and assuming Crooks has a hernia, I would try to put a bit more emphasis on pace and youth in a 4-3-3
Dijksteel - Fry - Lenihan - Bola
Hackney - Howson - McGree
Jones - Muniz - Giles
It is virtually the same 11 we usually play but with positions and roles tweaked. Jones and Giles get to focus on attacking. Fry and Lenihan get to work as partnership. Dijksteel and Bola focus more on the defensive role but can back up an attack. Howson sweeps up in front of Fry and Lenihan. Bit hard on Watmore but he does struggle to start two games in 4 days.
So I'll go for one of those random results where we win comfortably 2-0 for no good reason.
Thanks for the headliner and as always with Boro full of ifs, possibles, could be, might be, imponderables and maybes
Meanwhile the 'top' management continue to wander the dusty wasteland that is the home of out of work coaches and managers. I've a sneaking feeling that they can't find their way out of it and are just going in circles returning to the starting point every evening. They certainly don't seem to pass 'go' at any point on their journey.
Against Wigan the team will have to rip up the form book and get rid of their lethargy to get anything out of the game.
2-0 to Wigan with Charlie Wyke scoring both. Unless the team have a 'Road to Damascus experience'.
Great opener and summary OFB, thank you.
Just gearing myself up to go to the golf club and take some stick from the Rovers Caddy master!
I have said it before and say it again, it doesn't matter what system you play if players do not do their jobs then you are not going to win games and that applies across the team and not just the defenders. Too often this season we have conceded soft goals, have missed easy opportunities and lacked bite, speed and incisiveness in midfield.
We certainly looked better in the second half against Blackburn and when we went 4 at the back but that should not be allowed to disguise the fact that Blackburn sat back and generally soaked up the pressure without too much trouble; we have often looked better when chasing the game but as the table shows it has all been to little avail.
As far as Wednesday is concerned, I am out for the night so will not be watching live. I will record it via the red button but I am undecided if I should find out the result first and then decide not to watch if, as I suspect, we have lost. I no longer watch the highlights on a Sunday morning as it has become too depressing.
If we are to get anything at Wigan then Leo will need to change things and individuals will have to up their game considerably. Deleriad's suggested line up looks a good option but a positive result still seems a big ask after what has gone before but who knows, perhaps we will get a "typical Boro" moment of the other kind! 😎
As you say it is up to the players, but who puts the players on the field? And in their positions? Who dictates the tactics? Who is the Boss! Who are they frightened of? And that is the problem, as a player you turn in a stinker, and there is no comeback, so, as a player, you do the same next time you are asked to display your talents? To play without any laid down tactics or rules is quite frankly suicide. You will notice that the strugglers all have a well worked out strugglers tactic, and since you ask I had better mention it. Never hesitate to smash the ball into the air and into the other half, never stop running at top speed, and when all else fails run into the opposition. Having a shot at goal is allowed, and never waste a foul on a useless player, oh! And, in case I failed to mention it, the higher you kick the ball the less time the opposition have score. By the way, I see the American football tactic is now entering British football. To run at top speed into your opponent, our pitiful refs are still ignoring it.
Excellent Headliner OFB with its warts and all delivery.
Unfortunately we all now appear to be repeating ourselves, saying what we said so many months ago.
Maybe we are kidding ourselves in that the team is really better than its performances this season. I know if you go through the players one by one, you do get some positive hits.
However it is the engine that certainly now seems to need an overall. New pistons and rings, valves possibly? Well the garage is closed at the moment and we will just have to motor on carefully until we can book an appointment in January when the replacements parts maybe available off the shelf. Until then, hopefully the new driver has some idea how to get us there.
As I have posted, we cannot get a win away from home and have to catch up in that area of games played. Can Leo pull something out of the bag Wednesday? Tighten up at the back and midfield with a more pragmatic line up but keep the only pace we have at the top end.
If Giles plays he should not be allowed in his own half. Saying that I would sacrifice him, choose Jones and another midfielder. Keep Hackney because of his energy and forward thinking and consider Luongo if he is fit enough?
I think we have to gamble a little, we expect to get beat, but if we play with just a modicum of composure could squeeze a point at least.
Fortune favours the brave. Be brave Leo.
Thanks for the raw honesty Bob - another good opening for the the match thread.
I can get as far as posting three words for this on, Three nil Wigan
Thanks for the starter, OFB. I enjoyed reading it.
At least Jarkko and his wife will be at Wigan to watch the match live, though what exactly they have done to deserve it I couldn't possibly imagine.
I will have my fingers crossed but to predict a good outcome to any Boro game in these days is really like challenging the Gods. Or a sign of insanity.
Talking about Ex Man Utd Players who are geordies and May end up as our manager ……..
OFB - Thanks for that link. Do you think there was a typo in the last sentence of that newspaper article and that it should have read that the club has "NOT followed up..." interest in Edwards following his interview, rather than NOW followed up?
Many thanks OFB for the preview and providing a thorough examination of the failings, continued failings and potential future failings. We still don't know who will be charged with picking up the pieces of what is now another wasted season at best - as I write this news that Michael Carrick is now being leant on by the Boro hierarchy to persuade him to take the job.
It's now a gamble to appoint a novice to a task that offers no honeymoon and no slack to get his feet under the table - it will be more like eating on the hoof. Hopefully he won't emulate Steve McClaren's beginning of losing his first four games, which may well leave many baying for blood. Simply, it's the worst situation for any budding new manager to start a career and never did a club need a new manager bounce more than now.
As mentioned in the preview, it appears Boro are suffering from trickle-down lack-of-leadership that provides few crumbs of comfort when supporters digest the league table. It's an issue that probably is not going to be a quick fix and perhaps it's not knowing what view within the club to follow that has led to this confused state - a long-term vision that has failed to offer a short-term solutions to recent managers who expected something altogether different.
So we await further concrete news on who will try to lead us out of this mess - let's hope the chosen one has a plan - preferably one that works!
I reckon it’s time for an @Exmil mid season challenge where we all predict what table position we’ll finish this season.
I’d go for 12th, and I’m not sure whether that makes me a glass half full or half empty person. Thoughts?
Many thanks OFB for a thorough and honest preview.
Despite the press talk and the will-he-won’t-he nature of the managerial saga (has it been long enough to call it a “saga” now?) I must admit to feeling disengaged with Boro at the moment.
It was my daughter’s 10th birthday at the weekend and I was pretty happy with missing the Blackburn match and of course not surprised at the result, or the dissection of the performance which it seems was the usual story of Boro starting poorly, falling behind, then rallying but too little too late. And a defeat. Again.
With the names in the frame all having question marks and failing to excite, and the performances on the field equally lacking direction, there’s nothing much to be interested in at the moment. The season is going nowhere. Nowhere good at least.
I was going to mention that if Kieran Scott was the manager, he’d have been fired by now after a pretty dreadful 14 months as Head of Football but, thinking again, he’s actually done a very decent job of preparing the squad for next season in League One.
An unpopular opinion perhaps but I think Boro already had a Premier League quality manager to go along with our stadium and training facilities and I think, in the right circumstances, we’d have been the contenders many of us thought we should be this year.
The longer term strategy is sound in theory but I suspect we might have pursued it overzealously - something about gift horses and looking them in the mouth - and now we find ourselves playing the long game quite possibly from the division below. A very long game in that scenario.
That said, I don’t think we will go down as there’s more than enough in the squad if it’s playing anywhere near its potential. But still, the hope of promotion feels years away now when so recently it was palpable.
The game against Wigan? Any result is possible but sadly I won’t be surprised or even that disappointed if it doesn’t go our way. Apathy is horrible.
From Neil Warnock
The quote for Neil Warnock that stood out for me was...
It is a gamble going with a young lad, especially at Championship level. It’s such a hard level that to start managing. But you’ve got to start somewhere. I really don’t know [who’s the right man for Middlesbrough now]. I think ultimately the only you can know is if they do well and then you can say in hindsight that you’ve been successful in appointing them.
He's hit the nail on the head by saying that Boro process will only know if they have appointed the right person if they can look back in the future and see whether they were successful - it's a gamble to appoint Carrick and he will be set the low bar of simply avoiding relegation as nothing else is really possible with 12 points to catch up on the top six.
To put it another way, for Boro to make 75 points this season they will need a further 62 from the next 32 games, which is 1.94 points per game - essentially automatic promotion form is needed from Wednesday onwards just to scrape into the play-offs! That's not going to happen even with the best manager available, let alone a novice needing to stop the rot.
So I share Andy's apathy in expecting little from Boro at this moment - I'm also not expecting Carrick to set the club alight and would be surprised if he only offered a marginal improvement at best on what we've seen so far. Boro simply lack players in key areas and many of those who arrived are lacking the quality or speed needed.
Indeed, even Crooks has become so lumbering that he's avoiding getting booked since his late challenges are so late that the opposition player has long gone before he arrives! Confidence will only return once Boro return to winning ways and that will take a lot of work on the training pitch - which is not available until mid-November.
I read that article with some dread - we escape Steve Bruce only to get son-of-Bruce as a young inexperienced assistant coach to a young inexperienced head coach. Somehow the club memories of Woodgate and Keane have been erased - all we need to hear next is that Leo will be added as the experienced head and we're into groundhog territory again...
Unbelievable! If it is Carrick and AlexBruce. Can it get any worse. Has the club decided to replicate the current Government.
Thanks Bob for your opener, but at the moment I’ve just caught up with football having been consumed time wise with following the Rugby League World Cup as this will probably be the last time I’ll be able to view it again in my lifetime.
I have to say that England excelled themselves in the opening fixture against Samoa on Saturday at St James Park before a crowd of 43,300 and vindicated having the opening ceremony at a football ground as no rugby league ground is large enough to accommodate so many fans. It’s just a pity that there was a break in the opening ceremony due to a breakdown in the public address system as the female floor dancers had to go through their routine without music and the Kaiser Chiefs were only able to perform one number before the public address system went kaput.
Shaun Wane, the England coach anticipated that this would be a close match and wanted England to not let the Samoans have little possession as they had the wherewithal and to be very dangerous. So the chance to take the two points for an easy penalty was taken. The crowd was very muted at first possibly because of the opening ceremony shambles and the fact that the Samoan defence was outstanding in stopping England actually grounding the ball over the try line, but once into their stride woke up as England applied more pressure to the effect that when Samoa did have the ball they kept on dropping it. From leading Samoa 18-6 at halftime England eventually scored 7 more tries to win 60-6.
By then my thoughts turned to Boro and why they aren’t able to stop opponents from scoring first, but still able to attack with pace and build up a winning position. Yes it’s a different sport but England proved that a fast moving attack can succeed as very few passes went astray. Samoa had 7 players in their ranks who were in the Penrith Panthers all conquering side that had just won the Australian Grand Final, and yet England had annihilated them.
I then watched Australia beat Fiji with the same kind of aggression and realised that that’s what Boro lacked. Tonga are even better than Samoa, and will meet the Cook Islands at the Riverside Stadium on the 30th of this month sandwiched between two Boro away fixtures against Preston and Hull City. I remember writing at the time of the last World Cup in Auckland when England beat Tonga 20-18 as the best rugby league match I had ever seen, so any repeat of a similar performance and Teessiders are in for a treat.
As for Boro I was one of the few who was against the sacking of Chris Wilder who had been badly let down in the transfer window. It was also obvious to me that the players were not playing to Wilder’s instructions. Who was it that said to ignore instructions and to continue making the same mistakes hoping that eventually things get better is a sign of insanity? Boro are now in a situation where it’s almost even money that relegation is on the cards. At least if all the league tables finished as they now stand Boro away fans will have eight new grounds to visit for next season that they have never visited before in league encounters such as Accrington, Cheltenham, Crawley, Exeter, Fleetwood, Rochdale, Stevenage and Wrexham.
The problem is that as a League One club some of the likely managership candidates may not wish to be up associated with the challenge of expectancy to regain Boro’s Championship status. All this whilst Nero at Rockliffe Towers fiddles whist Rome burns. I’d be very surprised but delighted if Boro win at Wigan on Saturday, as I continue to ignore the prospect of drawn matches.
Obviously my views were written before the recent revelations as it took me well over an hour to complete this blog as incoming phone calls and preparation of my dinner plus further incontinent attacks prevailing suddenly out of nowhere takes up much of my time.
I console myself with the fact that it sounds too ridiculous to be true - must be just more clickbait musings surely?
Now Ken stop trying to get us all excited for next season with all this talk of Crawley and Fleetwood 😉
@andy-r Andy, I think we are all clinging onto the belief that the players are better than they have performed. In realty it is the only thing that’s keeps us supporting the Boro at this time.
What is worrying is the continued rumours of who will take charge. A rookie non experienced Coach that will have to perform a minor miracle just to get us out of the relegation places?.
As for Kieren Scott, he has failed miserably, (as has Mr Gibson and his entourage). Andy is correct, if he had been the Manager, he would had gone long ago. The Recruitement has been more than poor for some time. Another bad signing from the top man.
I have seen some Twitter mentions of Carrick and Bruce (as in Son-Of) and I'm not sure whether they are simply people bashing out rumours or the truth. I won't comment until it is confirmed (and maybe, even then, prudence will overcome my wish to bash out a cry of hope - or desperation).
Anyway, that pot of tea should be brewed now. No hard stuff tonight....
when does an away game become a must win? Probably on Wednesday against Wigan. Why ? I’ve just noticed that Boro have 5 away games out of the next 7 games.
So it’s essential to start picking up points away from home - preferably some wins.
I have to say that the rumour that Carrick is looking to appoint Bruce junior is a mistake. Surely he needs an experienced older coach to help him .
Probably just another rumour - I hope.
Philip of Huddersfield
Re the thought of Bruce Jnr. to assist Carrick.....
I suppose at the end of the day I don't suspect any of us have any idea about his qualities and we have only limited exposure to what Carrick himself might bring. Whomever is appointed I want them to be successful, so if it is them two, well let them show us what they can do and let us rally behind them.
I must admit my choice of manager would be 1. Wolf, 2. Corberan, 3. Carrick but we need a decision sooner than later, although even Sky Sports are reporting tonight Carrick is in advanced talks with Boro.
If it is to be Carrick (with what ever back room staff) he will get my full support, I know people are questioning “why a first time manager” but apart from our previous “first time” managers, I also look at how Gerrard at Rangers, Lampard firstly Derby then Chelsea even Graham Potter, had success, there are others.
All we can do is accept the decision (when made) and give them true support, not waiting for the first defeats before saying “I told you so”. No matter who is chosen it will not please everyone.
Come on BORO.
I could well have written Andy's post, so closely does his current lack of interest and enthusiasm mirror my own.
Following the shock dismissal of Wilder I was left wondering before the Birmingham game, as a supporter of 75 years standing, precisely what it was that I was now supposed to be supporting.
--- A group of players who had shown so little effort and motivation, and such lack of basic self-discipline that it was almost as though they were contriving to get their manager the sack?
--- An administration that had singularly failed to deliver on its promise to sign at least one and possibly two marquee signings, including a striker, to remedy some obvious weaknesses in the squad, whilst signing a number of players of no recognisable use to the manager?
--- A club policy based upon an irreconcilable contradiction between the desire to coach and develop possible future prospects, and the reality of a situation in which managers are judged by their ability to produce results here and now?
--- A Director of Football whose credentials for his role in guiding and overseeing the work of much more experienced and senior professionals seemed painfully thin on his appointment, an impression which has been amply justified by subsequent events: the departure of two experienced managers within a year, and the wasting of some millions of pounds on a string of hopeless signings?
--- The selection of an academy youngster sent back to the club in disgrace from a loan spell after serving a six match ban for spitting at an opponent, having to his credit no goals and only a couple of assists but being a significant contributor by his conduct to his loan club's being relegated from the Football League?
I assume that Wilder will have given the lad a severe rollicking for his inexcusable behaviour when he returned. But he must surely also have demanded some explanation from his academy staff. After all this was not some young thug plucked from the streets of Teesside, but a young professional groomed under the care of the academy since he was a little boy. Spitting at an opponent at any time, let alone during a pandemic, is anathema to everyone in the British game. What does it tell us about our academy that this seems to have escaped the notice of one of its apparently most prized graduates? Yet our caretaker manager not only selected a young man who in any club with basic disciplinary standards should have been shown the door, but chose to hold him up as a model for other youngsters to follow.
So I watched the Birmingham game as a disinterested observer rather than as a supporter, as I have each subsequent game.
Bob's excellent post on Wilder's failures contained little that I could disagree with. Yet I remain grateful for the football we played under his management. It has given me more pleasure and enjoyment, and more great occasions than anything else in our recent history. We have enjoyed a recent, though all too brief, period of attacking and creative football, which is unlikely to be replicated under any of his successors. I believed and still believe that Wilder should have been our main man to have been supported through thick and thin by the club. Instead I think he was badly let down. By his players, by the club's recruitment policy and by the contradictions inherent in the club's "philosophy".
The Coventry game- ironically Wilder's last- carried an all too simple lesson. We lost the game 1-0. Give us Gyokeres, the main man that Wilder had wanted, and we would have won it by three or four goals.
We would this season be genuine automatic promotion candidates. Instead we are genuine relegation candidates and face the possibility of years in the lower division wilderness.
It feels like a Brexit moment, one of monumental stupidity which we may regret for years to come.