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.

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Winning Ugly Leaves Boro Sitting Pretty

WHEN the open top bus parade is over  and the newly inked ‘Aitor’s Army’ tattoos telling of title glory are paraded proudly around the hotel pool we will look back over the magic moments of the season and beam about cup wins at Man City and Arsenal and days at Derby and Bournemouth that  swung it decisively our way and gush about the soon to be fabled fixture at Fulham that sealed it.

Should those celebrations come to pass no one will remember the win-ugly bread-and-butter battle to a 1-0 win at Brentford. To be fair I’m already actively trying to forget it. It was scrappy,  tense and low quality fare played in atrocious conditions.

It was all long balls, stray passes, niggly fouls, squandered chances, misfiring moves and mistakes.  And it was freezing. It was light years away from the Etihad.  It fell well short of the demolition of Derby or the clinical  defeats of the Bees and Norwich at home. And it was won with a penalty against the run of play. No one will be celebrating it as a true reflection of  the team’s philosophy.  Honest Aitor admitted that his side were “lucky”.

And yet,  these are exactly the building block battles that get teams promoted.

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