USUAL routine: time for your pre-match predictions and glass half-full/half-empty/broken projection bias. I’ll get my initial impressions up as soon as possible after the whistle but in the meantime it is all about your pre-match punditry.
Rotherham are physical, high energy, well drilled and direct with a big lad up forward to aim diagonals at. Just the kind of sides that Boro have traditionally struggled with. So it should be a big test. Plus we have to factor in the role of the Football Inevitability Drive and the possibility that the Dormo Destroyer will have a worldie. Or concede a penalty.
For me, Boro should win this one. Aitor will have given them a rocket after letting the lead slip last week against Watford in a game when the played as well as they have all season for an hour. Boro need to be winning these games if they are to be serious contenders. Victory will make the past three games look brighter in context (they have only lost one league game in nine) and set them up nicely for the visit of Norwich on Tuesday.
So, my #daftquid is on a 2-0 Boro win after a bit of a battle. What say you?
BATTLING Boro were lucky to get a point after being battered by Watford – although they could have snatched an unlikely victory if only striker Curtis Main had taken his chances.
Watford dominated. It’s true. I saw it on TV.
WHEN Boro scored early in the second half of their 1-1 draw with Watford they were briefly joint top of the Championship table. “Steve McClaren’s Derby” were drawing – they went on to lose 2-1 at home to Wigan – and there suddenly was a huge prize on offer for Boro’s biggest game of the season.
Had Boro held on, or had they got the second goal they deserved at that point, they would have been sitting pretty now with a slice of a three way share of the summit. There would be a tangible background buzz building and those extra bums on seats that turned up (17,000 home fans there today, it is steadily nudging up) would have gone away bubbling about a great display and spreading word for mouth, doing excitable missionary work among the cynical masses of stay-aways.
NOT SO BOSTIN….
It was a bad day at the office in the Black County as Boro froze in the Baltic blast to lose 2-0 at Wolves. You can read the match report here.
They started slowly and failed to reach the levels of intensity that has driven them through the seven game unbeaten run. They failed to impose themselves on a Wolves side that started just as tentatively as the visitors. For half an hour it was turgid stuff and although Wolves gradually gained the upper hand it was far from a classic.
BATTLING Boro dug deep and resisted a furious final flurry from a side that looked a lot better than their league position suggested. It was nervous watching the tense last 10 minutes after Brighton clawed one back – but this team has shown they are stronger now, more organised and far less likely to be bullied out of games.
It was a great game to watch. Boro went toe-to-toe when they had to, frustrated Brighton when they had to, and scored two cracking sucker-punch goals on the break to set up an archetypal away-day display and strengthen their promotion credentials.
Battered and bruised, Boro limped away from the Amex Stadium having banked three precious points and boosted their credit rating.
NEXT WEEK it will be a year since Ayresome hero Tony Mowbray was axed.
It was a sad but inevitable exit after a large contingent of the travelling Tees army at Barnsley turned on him for the first time in numbers and volume during and after a chaotic 3-2 defeat at rock bottom Barnsley. The sound of booing sharpened the mind of a stony faced Steve Gibson watching at Oakwell with Boro’s high command. By the Monday evening he was gone, a significant departure that opened the door to a seismic change as Gibson opted for Boro’s first foreign boss and a cultural revolution.
In the Gazette next week we’ll be looking in more detail at Mogga’s impact, achievements and legacy at his boyhood club. To refresh your memory, to set the scene, to give you a head start in the agenda setting debates looming and to offer you something to chew over as the international break stretches on and on, here’s “another chance to see” the blog bit I did in the emotive aftermath of the exit of a man who remains a club icon and who in time will be seen to have been an important factor in rebuilding a broken club.
QUICK! Take evasive action! Instruments indicate media missle lock on. Expect hostile incoming waffle. Pundits now have Boro in their sights.
Boro have finally “popped up on the radar.”
A FORMER fragile Boro would have lost that game. Nailed on. Back to the bread and butter games after an emotional high of a midweek glamour game and with expectations high after three wins in a row and a 4-0 Riverside romp against Brentford. Throw in a huge travelling support buoyed by optimism and all the ingredients were in place for a “typical Boro” defeat – probably thanks to a Bikey goal in the 93rd minute.
But this Boro are made of sterner stuff. Even with 10 men. Even after a leggy last half hour as the strength-sapping 120 minutes of the Anfield epic started to catch up with them and Charlton stepped up a gear to pile on the pressure late on. They dug in. They put bodies on the line. They closed, tackled and blocked, they rocked as an opportunist hooked shot came back off the post, then the stayed sharp to resist a stoppage time assault as Dimi made a wonder save then Clayton hooked a goalbound header away.
WHERE do you start with THAT?
Battling Boro were squeezed out in a 31 goal thriller at Anfield. They scored 15 goals against away Champions League side and “lost”. Keeper Jamal Blackman scored a penalty and conceded 16 goals on his debut. Whack. Smack. Hammer. Neither keeper got anywhere near 20 consecutive penalties in a nerve-shredding cup record shoot-out. Crazy, surreal, unscriptable spot-kick shoot-out.
Liverpool 2 Boro 2 (aet) (Liverpool win 14 [FOURTEEN] – 13 [THIRTEEN] on penalties). Total brackets. Total madness. Totally emotional exhausted after a pulsating night of pride and passion and barely believable absorbing end-to-end action in which Boro more than matched a far from weakened Champions League side. Live on TV! What an advert for Aitor Karanka’s Boro side. If that doesn’t put bums on seats I don’t know what will.