They Jinx It’s All Over!

HILLSBOROUGH hoodoo. The debris of broken dreams. The wreckage of relegation scattered across the pitch as travelling Teessiders groan in resignation:  we never get the lickings of a dog at Sheff Wed. Boro have lost six of the last seven – the win was the night Adam Johnson ran rings around them and Sean St Ledger came on for his debut in a 3-1 victory.  It is a ground where  Boro are jinked. Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

Four league games gone and the pressure is on. The mood music has shifted from upbeat August anthem  to a funereal dirge coloured more by off the pitch bum notes than results. One defeat in six is far from a disaster as new players bed in and are instilled with Aitor’s ideology but the bar has been raised by summer spending so there is less room for error while the manager – “the best signing of the summer” a month ago – has invited terrace pressure on himself by putting his ruthless man-management in the public eye.

So, now would be a really good time for a sequence shattering result at Hillsborough. It would relieve some tension and make the early season stats look far brighter and Boro could go into the last few days of the transfer window and into the international break in a brighter mood. Defeat – even if is is historically ordained and was pencilled in by most the day the fixtures came out – and stand by for two weeks of toxic squabbling.  A draw will just lead to a frustrating spell of stalemate.

Wednesday are in good form at home: they beat mighty Bristol in their opener and drew with Reading plus have won their two League Cup ties against Oxford and Mansfield. Boro have drawn away at Preston and Derby and won their two knockout ties on the road.  And after being monstered by Atdhe Nuhui three times now they know what to expect.  I’m going to a 1-1 draw but obviously hope they win and win well.

Over to you now to either make a scientific assessment of the tactical strengths and weaknesses or just project your hopes and fears onto the fixture and predict the scoreline and how it will pan out. Then  all back here later for post-match debriefing.

Timely Boro Launch Fight Back As Brewers Droop

Talk about a timely result.  It may have taken extra time to squeeze past lower league opposition but it was crucial.

Not just to make progress in the cup and bounce back from the first defeat of the season. And not just to show that Boro could come from behind.

The fight-back that made the Brewers drop was the first time in just over a year that Aitor Karanka’s side had clawed back a deficit – the last occasion was at Bolton 12 months ago this week, a hard-fought 2-1 win.  All that is great but it was routine box-ticking.

The real result on the night was that it helped settle the nerves of Teesside’s more nervous faction of fans.

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Blunt Boro Celebrate Big Day With Familiar Flaws

WELL what better way to celebrate 20 years at the Riverside Stadium than with a demoralising defeat that sent frustrated fans home chuntering?

What could be more fitting than following the swaggering show against Bolton with a disjointed defeat to a limited side who had been leaking for fun?

You could pop back at midnight and Boro still wouldn’t have squeezed one in.

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Honours Even in Madrid Dug-Out Deputy Face Off

¡AY, CARAMBA! Scorchio. The much hyped battle of the Bernabéu supremo’s sidekicks was a feisty affair.

Honours were even as Aitor Karanka and Paul Clement, both former assistants to Real Madrid managers went head-to-head and their teams went toe-to-toe and Derby grabbed a late leveller in a 1-1 draw.

It was an eagerly anticipated encounter as the second tier proxies for Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti shaped-up against each other, promotion rivals but also cyphers for shadows of big egos elsewhere.

It was one of the narratives touted in the Championship trailers, a must-see managerial showdown heavy with sub-text. And round one was fantastic fare.

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Hot To Trot. Boro Are On Fire In Riverside Opener

THAT is how you start the season at home: with a bang. A great big one. A sonic boom.

Slick Boro bamboozled Bolton and eased to an emphatic victory with a cavalier display of liquid football that lit the red touch paper on a season of promise.

After all the hype that came with the summer spending, the talk of a reshaped fluid front end and the dreaded bookies’ favourites tag – and after so many false dawns in seasons past – it was important that Aitor’s Army delivered.

Wow! They did that in spades.

Continue reading Hot To Trot. Boro Are On Fire In Riverside Opener

Dynamic Duo Star In Oldham Re-Run

SUMMER: so many repeats.

It was another chance to see what felt like a rerun last year’s exciting episode as once again Boro eased to an emphatic three goal  Capital One Cup win at Oldham with a box fresh Spanish-speaking striker taking the plaudits.

Boro had to dig deep at times against a plucky home side but the quality shone through and fans went away raving about their new frontman and bubbling with optimism. But for Kike read Stuani.

The only real difference this time was the weather. Thank God.

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A Football Fairytale. Will We Get A Happy Ending?

ROY of the Rovers. Jumpers for goalposts. Everyone loves a football fairytale. And there were two to enjoy in the Boro’s slightly stodgy Championship curtain raiser at Deepdale.

The performance and result at Preston may have been disappointing. Given the summer spending you would expect the title favourites to beat a newly promoted side no matter how well organised and spirited.

Aitor wasn’t happy. But at least frustrated fans could relish two heart-warming stories of local lads from opposite ends of the career path and profile spectrum wearing the shirt of their home town club with pride.

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Boro Are Back! Brilliant. But How Will They Do?

RIGHT. After officially the longest ever gap between posts on here and a yaaaawning fallow two weeks nervously unchained from the secure laptop with the atomic codes, I’m back at work and wading through soul destroying pages of e-mails, google docs and memos and catching up on all the office gossip: fights, affairs, transfer demands etc.

So, what have I missed? Obviously the long waist high wade through a lake of treacle that is trying to make contact with the Venkeys over Jordan Rhodes.  And obviously a string of red hot rumours that flared and faded as quickly as a flurry of hastily changed bookies odds. And obviously a long wait for the red tape over Stuani’s international clearance to be slowly unravelled by the “Manana” man. And obviously the twitter-storm rumour frenzy surrounding out of favour (and out of shape) Lee Tomlin’s sharp exit before the Getafe game as he was named as a sub, an incident that is no doubt being called ‘TummyGate.’

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No 10: Downing. Sweet

THE RETURN of Boro’s parmo-powered prodigal play-maker can galvanise the Riverside.

If Stewart Downing can hit the sizzling form he showed at West Ham last term, he can help fire his home town club back to the Premier League. He can be a game-changer. A hero.

This is a pivotal moment that feeds into the narrative of past glories, of the big name signing sweeping into town to energise the team and the town and to create some emotional momentum. It could be a ‘Merson moment.”

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Boro Scouting And The Appliance Of Science

UPDATED: Now with added “Part 2”
FINDING football talent has changed radically in recent years with the appliance of science.
Number-crunching, video analysis and vast searchable data bases are every bit as important as the wily old scout with a notebook in the stand.
But the basic aim of the job remains the same says Gary Gill, Boro’s Head of Recruitment.
“We just try to give the manager the tools to do his job,” said  Gill. “We work hard to make sure he can put the best possible team on the pitch and help find players who can get Boro back into the Premier League.”
Most Boro fans will have a wish list of targets but it is not as simple as it sounds getting them in. “Its not easy to sign a good footballer,” said the former Boro midfielder.

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