Boro Set To Maul Lions?

AITOR’S held his hand up over Hillsborough. The players’ have made their obligatory public pleas of contrition for a  Wednesday Weak performance with undertones of jangling nerves and fixturebomb wear and tear as the pressure mounts at the top.

A month ago, a fortnight ago even, the visit of basement battlers Millwall looked like a ‘gimme’ ficture, the perfect chance to rattle up a routine win and gain some momentum going into the “Week of Destiny”.  Now it has assumed massive psychological  as well as strategic importance. A morale-boosting  win is needed to keep Boro on track at the top as the pack close in (again)  but also to calm the nerves of fans suffering a crisis of faith.

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Historic Hillsborough Hoodoo Axed By Aitor?

NOW would be a good time for Aitor to smash another hoodoo: Hillsborough. It’s not a great place to go. We’ve got a woeful record and been relegated twice there. But that is all ancient history and  Karanka has already shown he has no time for our time honoured club traditions on this kind of thing.

It is crazy to talk about urgency and necessity when Boro are in second spot but it feels like they *need* to win today. The pack is so tightly bunched and in such relentless form that even a draw could be punished. And a draw would feed into the current crowd sense of jittters and DLWD would surely be branded “a wobble” and seen as the beginning of the end in certain quarters. Victory would settle nerves and strengthen Boro in the table.

Aitor isn’t happy about recent displays. He’s given them a rocket. Everyone knows what the stakes are. The team have been rebooted. They are going to Hillsborough to win.

Shock news: I won’t be there. I’m committed to the climax of a long-running charity event that organisers have outrageously planned to climax on a Saturday. Apparently the whole world *doesn’t* revolve around football.  I’ll be sat there with an eye-piece in and sneaking quick looks at twitter all day.

It’s the first league game I’ve missed since the rearranged Ipswich match after the freeze off in February 2012. That was a midweek away and an overnight and we decided just one should go and we tossed for it.  I lost. See also Millwall away and Swansea in the League Cup quarter-final. So, three games missed in about seven years. I think the previous one before that was Wolves in the FA Cup when Emnes scored. It feels very strange.

Anyway, I  digress;  usual routine. Post your pre-match scorecasts and script how the game will pan out here then straight back after the game for debriefings, recriminations and dishing out plaudits later. I’ll join you when I can. My role as a charity champion will last into the evening but I’ll get here when I can. COME ON BORO!

A Pox-Scarred Medieval Toothless Hag Of A Game

AITOR Karanka has a ‘next day’ routine of an in-depth Pro-Zone plus computer analysis, player-by-player, phase-by-phase, mistake-by-mistake, isolating errors, not to berate individuals but to highlight areas where they can improve.

Today could be an extended festival length director’s cut  as the simmering Spaniard works through a a catastrophic clip-reel of individual and collective mistakes after the kind of display we haven’t seen under him.

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Early Bird Prices: The Long Freeze Is Over

IT WOULD be nice to think a club – any club – would make a grand Utopian gesture and slash ticket prices .  But its’s not going to happen. The peoples’  game long ago sacrificed its 2/6d soul on the multi-zillion mink-lined alter of TV cash and so long as the machine is fuelled by ever more cash poured in at the top that is not going to change.

It is easy to be pristine principled and denounce Boro for putting up their prices and branding it profiteering at the prospect of the Premier League but football is a fiercely competitive high-stakes business and  success doesn’t happen by accident. It needs to be well resourced.  And up to now Boro have managed to stay in the Championship despite dwindling gates and a post-relegation collapse in revenues – and now, this season, genuinely compete – almost entirely because Steve Gibson has stumped up.

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Semi-derby Slip Turns Up Promotion Pressure

BLOODY hell Boro! There had to be a stumble at some point. This is the Championship. And in the wider scheme of things a defeat now is not a disaster. Especially when it the first of the year after nine unbeaten.  And when it is the first at home since August. And it leaves you top (albeit briefly) with 14 games left. But did it have to be bloody Leeds?

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Dare To Dream: Pt 2

BORO were given a painful football lesson by awesome Arsenal but they left the Emirates Stadium with their heads held high.

There was to be no second coupon-buster – that was a dream to far. Boro almost got a late consolation that may have helped sooth dented pride and bruised egos but it wouldn’t have disguised that there was a massive gulf in class. Mind the gap!

Gong Show: Silky Boro Shrug Off Boss Curse

THROW that poisoned chalice on the pile of broken hoodoos over there….

The “curse” of the manager of the month award (and Charlton’s run of 12 games without a win) may have had superstitious supporters and the old school once bitten cynics quaking before the match and predicting  a “typical Boro”  nailed on home defeat.  A long history of institutional inconsistency demanded a post-gong flop at home to a team on the slide.

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February: Boro Geared Up For A Massive Month

AFTER weathering the traditional “January Jitters” we can look forward to Boro’s form picking up a bit over the next month. We know that from our history. We come out of hibernation and pick up a bit in February. Which would be great timing.

Boro may not have played at their best but they were unbeaten in January, conceded just one goal, saw off the the Premier League champions and stepped up the promotion pace with three wins and a draw. Yet the table is tighter than ever. Boro have kept racking up points but so have the rest of the leading group. Just one point now separates the top three with the rest of the top six just behind and although the pressure is mounting, no one has yet shown any signs of cracking. But something has to give soon.

111Qfix

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