Injuries Mount As Season Gets Tough

CRACK! THWACK! TWANG! It was an onomatopoeic derby horror show as Boro’s season limped heavily into a casualty cul-de-sac. Not only did Boro have to deal with the frustration of leaking a sickening late, late leveller to a poor Sunderland side and the potentially costly cheap surrender of two points at home, but now they must also face up to a major injury headache just as the fixture list begins an ominously sharp incline.

Crack! Tuncay suffered what early reports suggested was a fractured tibia which depending on the severity could rule him out for up to two months, just when he was set for a run in the team. Thwack! Fresh from his fashionable act of respectful non-celebration after scoring against his former faithful, influential Julio Arca took a blow to his knee and is believed to have sustained medial ligament damage that again could leave him sidelined for months. Twang! Passionate powerhouse Mido, a cult hero in the making, went off with what is said to be a hamstring injury that will rule him out for about a month.
Given that Jeremie Aliadiere is also on the treatment table for up to six weeks with a hamstring injury it leaves Boro going into what will be a very tough run of fixtures with none of their first choice frontline available. There is Dong Gook Lee, yet to score a Premiership goal, but in truth for all his good movement off the ball and nice touches not even his Mam would have put him in her Fantasy League team, and there is young and untried reserves net-buster Tom Craddock.
So Boro, who gambled and opted not to bring in another recognised Premiership goal-getter before the deadline, are striker light going into Wednesday’s Carling Cup clash at Spurs then a run of games that will see them travel to Everton and Manchester City then face Chelsea at home before a trip to Old Trafford.
There is a growing case for throwing agricultural handful David Wheater (who has had as many efforts on goal as anyone this season) up front in the hope that he can follow the path of John Hickton and be transformed into a makeshift bustling striker. He will certainly have a physical presence in the box that the other two don’t.
Worse still, there are alarming signs that Boro’s defence are now wobbling too. In three of the four home games this term Boro have leaked two goals, against a hard working but low scoring Blackburn, a Newcastle side that failed to trouble Derby and now Sunderland.
It is easy to argue that the goals were unfortunate as the first took a bit of deflection on the way through and the second was a wonderstrike but in fact they were both self inflicted. The opener came because a slow starting Boro sloppily conceded possession and then failed to track Leadbitter’s run – in itself an echo of the Lee Bowyer goal within seconds of the restart at West Ham – and the second because Boro sat back in the closing stages and let Sunderland throw hopefuls balls into the box and while most were headed or hoofed clear there was always a risk that they would get a lucky bounce somewhere along the line.
Admittedly injuries are again a factor. The season started with all the first choice centre-backs recovering from surgery and new boy Luke Young also crocked. Wheater has been a revelation for his industry and muscle but both the normally imperious Jonathan Woodgate and Young have yet to hit peak match fitness and both have had shaky games of late and so the fledgling defensive unit has yet to look as resolute as it did at its best last term.
Ironically last season’s glaring problem, a one dimensional and dysfunctional midfield, appears to have been solved. The rehabilitation of Rochemback as a hard working ball player who tackles back and who can spark attacks with excellent distribution has been a massive bonus (although how the absence of his Latin engineroom oppo Arca will affect him is yet to be sen) while the addition of dynamic Gary O’Neil on the right has brought pace and balance.
Also on the credit column was the spirited and open style of a display in which Boro set out to entertain. They carved out a string of good chances and DG Lee and bantamweight battler Lee Cattermole both went close plus there were two good shouts for a penalty – but being praised for playing well and creating a flurry of excellent chances and then coming away with little to show for it is a dangerous habit to get into in.
Those of a nervous disposition will already have the calculators out. What had seemed a gentle start on paper has proved problematic and eight points from seven games probably falls short of what even the pessimists had reckoned on by this stage.
Now Boro must dig deep. Things are about to get tough.


49 thoughts on “Injuries Mount As Season Gets Tough

  1. And so it goes on!. Our run of bad luck continues!Who would have thought we would lose Arca,Tuncay and Mido in the same match?
    But we kept on going and almost pulled it off, but there was nothing you could put down to bad luck in conceding the killer goal at the end. We sat back and played the last 10 minutes in our own half—-death wish.
    Downing great O’neil yes and most of the others o k too but for me Schwarzer is way past his prime he seems to have lost all confidence just flaps at high balls when he drums up enough courage to go for them.
    He’s been a good servant but the kindest thing to do is give him a benefit game and a thank you. A new keeper is a must.
    **AV writes: He had no chance with that second one.

  2. Things are going to get VERY tough AV.
    What a nightmare situation, MFC’s failure to bring in a recognised goal getter has blown up in their faces, and we as Boro fans are left wondering where it all went wrong.
    Those 2 points lost yesterday could very well come back and haunt us by Xmas. It is difficult to see where we might pick up any points over the next month or so with no senior forwards available (and I deliberately discount Lee because quite simply the guy just hasn’t got it).
    We will just need to pray that the injuries are not as bad as we think they are, but on the evidence of what I witnessed, Mido apart, they are.
    I’m sure that Tom Craddock will get his calling now, and Wheater may be used to play the big target man, but it has to be said that really is the scrapings at the bottom of the barrel.
    We look as though we are in deep, deep trouble.

  3. I have been disappointed with Dong-Gook Lee up until today, but I was encouraged with his performance today.
    What problems he did have seem to stem from the midfielders having practiced passing to faster players like Aliadiere and Tuncay, and the balls were always a little out of his reach. He is not going to beat defenders with pace, and the passes have to take that into account.
    Despite Boro creating more chances this season that any previous one, they are still making the mistake of trying too many low-percentage plays. Too many speculative passes that require a defender to make a mistake. The top teams do not do this – and so they don’t lose the ball so often.
    Aside from that, practice at MFC is going to need to consist of 8 hours of finishing. Even Gary O’Neil seems to be unable to get the ball consistently in between the posts.
    I’m not concerned with our remaining starting 11 – Boateng gives a more solid defensive posture, and Lee and Craddock should get experience and match fitness – which could pay dividends months or even years from now.
    However, it leaves us with the worlds youngest bench…

  4. And dig deep we must…
    Not a lot to say about yesterday really.
    Bit of a sucker-punch with the late goal.
    Defending starts from the front and I don’t think LDG was going enough to close the centre-halves down and stop them from pumping balls into the box.
    I thought Gary O’Neil was outstanding.
    Southgate should have brought Mido off when he went to make the substitution in the first half. Mido was holding his ‘hammy for a good 10 minutes before they summoned Cattermole, which suggested it was never something he was going to be able to run off.
    Everyone from pub to professional football knows that continuing to play with a tight hamstring only makes things worse.
    Can’t fault Mido’s attitude, but he should have came off. I just hope it doesn’t come back and smack us in the face with a long lay-off.

  5. We are now the top dogs of the North East that Red Rum likes to pontificate about. You lot wont have more than 12 league points on the board at Christmas.
    We are back so move over for your superiors.
    **AV writes: Top dogs? Even though you are the lowest in the table of the three? Top self delusion.

  6. Yes it was a day of several blows. The injuries looked serious. My first thought when Tuncay went off was metatarsal – only cos if top teams get them why cant we?
    Arca looked like a serious knee injury and months on the sideline. I must admit I was a bit concerned when we allowed Mido to play on but sometimes injuries can be run off.
    AV’s descriptions in the blog are not good, one hoped a couple of the injuries were only minor even though they didnt look it.
    Plus points? Some good performances from Wheater, Rocky, Downing, O’Neill (as I listened on the A19, a caller to Radio Tees posed a good question, is he £4m better than Morrison? My son thought it was a fair point)
    Schwarzer? Many around me blamed for the equaliser. A look at the equaliser on match of the day showed him clearly at fault for the equaliser. He is not nine foot tall and should of guessed Miller was going to place the ball perfectly into angle of post and bar. Come to think of it he should have come off his line through the retreating defenders to close Miller down outside the box!
    Faults, he has many and I think he is coming near sell by date, but failing to make save of the season when let down by the defence is a little unfair.
    The defence overall was shaky against what must be admitted were a poor Sunderland side.
    Boat. Should have been sent off, passing was his usual standard, cant fault his effort but appears to have lost some pace so is tending to foul more than previously.
    Arca scored but contributed to their goal, probably trying too hard but we have seen the last of him for a while now.
    Cat, injected some bite, could easily have gone walkies for his challenge.
    Simba – no criticism of his effort, tried his heart out, would have loved that curler go in for him. shows flashes in good runs but is so lightweight just cant see him making it.
    We now face a dilemna. Assuming AV’s info on injuries is correct we are severely short of options upfront. We could go 451 but we havent got a 1 unless we move Wheater up front or give Craddock a run.
    After Spurs (John is up in his loft in Reading looking for his boots with cork studs as I post) we have Everton and Citeh away, Chelsea at home followed by ManU away. Graham Taylors ten match season end pointer draws near. How many points will we get before the end of October?
    But points come when you least expect them. And there can be no choice but field a weakened side at Spurs because there are not many left standing, certainly a case for Craddock or Wheater upfront in 451, maybe alongside Lee in 442.

  7. AV
    Agree with all you say but would just add to the fact that we’re shipping too many goals that we’re also shipping them in the so-called red-zones again.
    Despite the usual after match protestations Gate hasn’t ‘learned’ any more about conceding goals at the start and finish of each half. Just how many bitter lessons does he need? Or is it that the team just don’t listen to him?
    Despite the ravings of FTM the Mackems are a poor side but they clearly don’t want to come off the pitch to face Kean-o without having given 110% and they’ve been given the message that the red-zones are times to exploit (or defend with extra concentration) – and listened to it.
    The selection for yesterday was wrong too. A central midfield of Arca and Rocky is a luxury too far for all but the easiest of home games and certainly not for a battle like yesterday. Each one of them needs cover for their lack of pace and propensity to give the ball away in midfield.
    If we want the creativity of one of them (such as it is) and it looks like it’s Rocky for maybe the next few months then we have to cover him – and Stewie too – with a defensive midfielder who’ll cover them and the back 4 (who, as you say, are shaky themselves), break up attacks and pass simply to a red shirt.
    The Boat should have started anyway. But I also think his days are numbered doing the role I describe above and that the sooner Shawky (not even on the bench yesterday) is up to pace we should give him a try.
    Will our shortage of strikers – caused both by injury and failure to buy in the Summer – mean we see any more square-peggism of the sort you suggest AV? One might argue that given that 3 out of our 4 strikers haven’t yet scored a Prem goal why would we miss them?
    I’d give Craddock a run any day in preference to Lee but I think the biggest miss at present would be Mido for his presence, size and ball-holding which neither Lee nor Craddock can provide. So, if we’re going for a 2 up front then maybe it does have to be Wheats.
    Smacks of desperation – but then that’s what you resort to if you don’t prepare properly.
    Talking of lack of preparation, a couple of yesterday’s injuries were collisions but we’ve had 2 hammy’s in 2 weeks and that’s as much down to our fitness coaching as anything – and we know how poor that is.
    On the positive side – and another disappointing result means it’s scraping a barrel – it seemed like a good performance from Stewie, another goal and a good ‘un at that.
    A steady full debut for O’Neil and, at last, a goal from a right wing cross. If he keeps this up and improves then teams won’t be able to leave our non-existent right wing to double bank on Stewie.
    We are fast approaching the time when the 10 game test will be able to be applied and with a run of games coming up in cup and league that don’t bode well, especially as we’re challenged with injuries.
    I don’t rate our chances in that run leaving us with a prediction for the season that will see us struggling – again.

  8. I am a bit worried about these injuries however I dont think calling for wheater to be pushed forward is the answer. Leave him to concentrate on working on his partnership with woodgate at the back.
    Simba has always needed a decent run in the team, thats the only way he will get use to this league and hopefully he will come good for us.
    Craddock will get his chance from the bench, we all know that if the injuries are as bad as we fear that southgate will go 4-5-1 with oneil, boat, catt, rocky & downing in midfield.
    We have young ben hutchinson who is coming through at the minute, he has scored a few for the reserves this season but i dont think is quite ready yet for the first team.
    Another option is Davies, he was a forward when needed for the youth team so he has played there and that little bit of experience he has in the league could come in handy if he is required to play there.
    Ok controversial time, there is a man in our squad who’s best position is playing off the front man in an attacking midfield role, he should get called to the bench anyway for experience alone so we dont have to turn soley to youth.
    The guy also has a very big point to prove to the fans, the management and to himself. I’m talking about Mendieta if you’ve not worked it out by now. It cant do any harm to give him a try there.

  9. I agree, playing Mendi with Craddock running off him would be a good idea for the Carling Cup. Perhaps too much of big gamble for the league games coming up.
    Lets face it, Mendi is as fit as he ever will be. He and Craddock have put in a few decent shifts of late in the reserves.
    Be aware, however, Ben Hutchinson’s goals have (for the majority of times) come from Craddock rebounds. Perhaps that is a case for giving them both a go!

  10. Mainy
    I think you’ve taken leave of your senses, old son! Square-peggism is one thing but Mendy up front – the realms of some dark fantasy!
    Just watched the Barcodes v West Ham. An interesting comparison with our game against them. Our ‘strikers’ – at least 10 decent chances; 0 goals. Viduka – 3 decent chances; 2 goals. Oh dear.

  11. Just another thought, is there any forwards out there that are available under freedom of contract, we could always offer Christie a short term deal as i believe he is still available.
    On this subject, we never offered pistone a deal, what about offering oliver bernard a trail to be cover for taylor?

  12. Think Stewie and O’Neil were our best players yesterday shame that with the injuries we now have nobody fit in the box to benefit from their crosses!
    LDG is so far out of his depth in terms of signings it ranks with Souness’s clanger at Southampton a few years back when he was sold George Weah’s brother!
    Hopefully Tom Craddock will step up to the mark in the same way that Wheater has grabbed his opportunity as did Stewie a few years back.
    To partner him though I think we need to look at one of the CB’s to provide a bit of bustle and to meet crosses now from both wings.
    The Mendieta call above is maybe not a bad one, everything to gain and nothing to lose, desperate times need desperate measures and he would be able to use his experience to help Craddock!

  13. ‘Be aware, however, Ben Hutchinson’s goals have (for the majority of times) come from Craddock rebounds. Perhaps that is a case for giving them both a go!’
    Surely thats the sign of a good forward in the making, being in the right place at the right time to get the rebounds to put them in!

  14. Hi AV
    Feel that Southgate was partly to blame for not putting the “bite” into midfield against a workmanlike Sunderland. He must have known it would be a physical game.
    Howard Webb must take some of the blame for the fracas involving Taylor and Cattermole. He should have blown up for either of the first two fouls on Taylor. Webb certainly didn’t waste time penalising DGL any time he looked like getting away from their centrebacks!
    Having said that, I repeat – why no outlet for the defence at every corner we concede? Leave a quick-un on the halfway-line to chase the punt upfield. It’s not rocket science! Failing that Row Z beckons.
    Not convinced about Mido’s injury. If it is genuine he should have been subbed immediately. Never mind his medical judgement.
    Well done to O’Neil and Rochemback who both had excellent games.
    If we’re down to the bare bones in terms of strikers then Craddock surely deserves a chance. Don’t forget that Riggott could replace Wheater, either in defence or up front. I’m sure he’s played forward before today.
    I see that Mendieta has been playing for the reserves. I’m glad to see that he’s involved again. It means that there is a skillful midfielder available should the call come. Please GS, play him in the middle and not wide!
    By the way, matches begin and end with the referees whistle not the stadium clock!
    Pauline – Acklam.

  15. ” Just watched the Barcodes v West Ham. An interesting comparison with our game against them. Our ‘strikers’ – at least 10 decent chances; 0 goals. Viduka – 3 decent chances; 2 goals. Oh dear. ”
    Oh dear indeed John, but what else could we have done to keep him? You could also have mentioned that The Yak has already been shunted onto the bench – he’ll no doubt come off it to slot in the winner against us.

  16. Mendieta? Mmmmm!
    He was a class player in his prime but time has caught up with his ability to run. Happened to me but in response I put on width to wear down people running around me.
    His time is past, he couldnt last a full season four years ago. I have no doubt he will try his best, I very rarely criticise players efforts, buy he isnt the answer. He certainly cant play in a midfield four.
    I like Mainy’s idea of looking for a free agent, very impressed.
    One thought on the injuries, there were quite a few occasions where the foot was left there for players to kick, it happened to Woodie and others. Probably me being overly critical.

  17. Our defence has always been dodgy for a while. 1 clean sheet at home since last december. At the moment they are spending too much time attacking than trying to defend.
    I see viduka scored 2 yesterday. We need to spend some of that yakubu money on a quality striker.
    We will have to graft and go ugly to get some results from the next few games. This entertaining attractive football has to come 2nd behind getting results at the minute.

  18. Beeline
    I’m not in mourning for Veruka or The Yak, especially the latter – just pointing out that if you let 30 goals a season leave then you should replace that with the same or better, particularly given the fees and wages those 2 leaving gave us.
    Not, as we did, with 3 out of 4 who hadn’t ever scored a Prem goal and still haven’t.

  19. To sustain three injuries in 45 minutes, particularly serious ones is incredibly unlucky and not something that can be legislated for.
    GS needs to and will keep it simple for the next few games we have two fit strikers DGL & Craddock, so it will be Craddock on the bench and DGL up front on his own.
    Not a prospect any of us will look forward to in eager anticipation but you never know we might be surprised.
    Loosing Arca for what might be several months is a blow it will put a lot of responsibility on Rocky because for sure The Boat is past his sell by date.
    Playing Wheater up front is a crazy idea, why disrupt a settled defence and who would replace him? Currently Huth and Poggy haven’t got two fit legs between them!
    Anyway the way Wheater is playing he is just as likely to score from centre back as he is playing up front.
    We’re going into a run of tough games with so many first choice players missing I’ve lost count, its hold your breath and hope for the best time, I just hope the youth team can get a result against Spurs.

  20. One thing we have to bear in mind is the fact we can talk all we like about not buying a proven striker to replace Yak and Veruka or buying one in the window.
    In date order, it didnt happen and it cant happen until January. That leaves us 13 matches to navigate. All we can do is do the best we can.
    I guess we will be without Mido, Aliadiere and Tuncay until November, maybe longer. We talk about putting attacking on the back burner and being more defensive.
    Chelsea made that work with Drogba and Lampard who score goals. A big physical striker who can hold the ball up, bring people into attacks, score with both feet and his head, bully centre halves. A central midfielder with an eye for goal who has a good engine and some pace if not searing.
    We have Lee and Rocky. Enough said.
    To play that way you need someone who will nick a goal or hold the ball up otherwise the opposition will just bomb forward throwing balls into your box at every opportunity.
    You will drop deeper and start defending around the penalty spot. Then any loose balls are up for grabs and eventually someone will knock one in. Anyone who saw regular away matches in the past have seen that often enough.
    Anyone at West brom when we won 2-0 will remember us cruising playing 442 when they had a man sent off, the master tactician then changed to 451 against ten men and we were under pressure when they pushed the centreback up front and launched long balls.
    A more likely solution is to play 433 with Downing and O’Neill alongside AN other. It is not mindless, headless chicken attacking. The ball has to become precious, players have to want it and provide an outlet. That means Taylor and Young playing their part. It means cutting out the daft ball that Rocky tries. It means playing it a bit like Arsenal, lots of simple balls into space, playing with lots of tempo and movement. They cant score if we have the ball.
    Thats a solution to our problems, have we the players to achieve it? Boat for example couldnt pass to a red shirt in the club shop. And therein lie our problems, we havent a striker to nick a goal and you worry whether we have the players to keep the ball.

  21. Ian
    I like the 4-3-3 option with Stewie and O’Neil either side of….? Well, I’d start with Craddock, I have to say.
    There is just no point in persisting with Lee. He hasn’t got it and we all know he isn’t going to get it labouring (well, not, because he’s too feeble to labour) unsuccessfully in the first team. He’s going to have to be on the bench but otherwise we have to swap him out to the reserves to take Craddocks place there and hopefully take his knocks and get a few goals.
    We could have a tight 3 in midfield with 2 from The Boat, Catt and Shawky (I hope he’s ready soon) alongside (I suppose it will have to be) Rocky (or, God help us, Mendi).
    The defence picks itself until Pogo is back. We shouldn’t move Wheats out unless we want a last 10 minute cavalry charge. Aside from anything else it smacks of desperation.
    As for Wednesday evening – there is a complication as O’Neil is cup tied. So we might want to go 4-5-1 with Craddock up front and back to The Boat or Catts wide right of the 5. It’s a poor substitute but better than Mendi (not that that’s saying much!).
    If it’s me or Mendi – I found the boots in the loft and a supply of new cork for the studs – then I stand ready for the call, Gate; I am currently out of contract.

  22. Boro fans are trying to say everything went against them on the day. I have to say it certainly did not.
    For a start their first goal was fortunate, our goalkeeper was badly at fault he should have saved the header.
    And Cat should have been sent off. These things taken into consideration could have given the final scoreline a whole different look about it. Be thankful for the point Boro.

  23. You can only buy what’s available John, and I’m sure Tuncay and AliadiÚre will prove you wrong.
    2 out of 3 by the way – Lee was bought before the departure of Viduka and Yak, and seemed to me to be a case of let’s suck it and see.

  24. Johm
    I must admit I didnt consider the Spurs match in my deliberations. just glad I havent got a ticket cos I dont know which forecast is worse, the ewather or the formation.
    My concern is for the matches coming up in the premiership.
    The one consolation is that when we have been through similar patches the kids have come in and made a mark. I am with you on the choice of Stricker so Tom Craddock, come on down!
    My one concern would be a midfield three with Boat in it, he cant pass to a red shirt in the warm up so how he would cope in a three is a problem. He does however show great commitment and endeavour. In a five he can cope.

  25. John Powls & Ian Gill, you two make quite a double act!
    Whats with the downer on Rocky? He has had a sound start to the season and is in the team on merit, he’s clearly a better bet than The Boat who is now going to get his place only because Arca is out.
    Having Rocky in the team is not a luxury he is a good player. Granted he occasionally over-elaborates or makes the wrong choice, but name me a player who goes through a whole game without an error.
    You are crucifying him for having taken a long time to adapt to English football but that is history. Try looking at what is really happening on the pitch and make a judgement based on reality.

  26. Dear Anthony,
    As I said previously I think MFC is in serious decline from the top downwards.
    We are just about to sign an agreement with one of the world’s biggest football clubs (on the continent) and BORO should have been involved.
    It would have meant dramatically expanding George Cooke’s wonderful Community Trust and thereby employing more Teesside coaches to work with some of the biggest names in world football. And what did we get from the club after offering great initiatives? NOTHING! I
    I applied for the Marketing Manager’s job and did not even get a polite reply. In the music industry I have had the immense pleasure and pride of working for artistes such as David Bowie, Chris Rea and Imagination so I think I know a thing or two about marketing.
    Any further alienation of fans will only undermine further the creaking commercial infrastructure which is Boro at the moment.
    Steve Gibson – I feel passionately that you are allowing the club to slide into the Championship. You need some new blood to run the club and fast.
    And please don’t misunderstand me I’m not after a job with the Boro – I was but I was snubbed by your officials and we are soon to move abroad.
    Just think about this Steve if you will…with every major club that we will sign an agreement with around the world we should have been employing more Boro supporting coaches and helping the club to grow exponentially.
    I am very sorry to say this (and I do not refer to George Cooke here – he is someone I have total respect for) but apart from yourself we are led by spent, tired men who have little more to offer the club and our community.
    I will keep you all posted with every club we sign up with and readers are welcome to answer me this question please “Why aren’t BORO involved with such a progressive and commercially positive initiative?”
    And also please bring back Bernie and Ally Mr. Chairman!
    Robin Mitton

  27. Nigel
    Not crucifying Rocky as such, I thought he had a really good game on Saturday (see previous match posting). In the car on the way back I had him as my man of the match and the lad went for Wheater. He is starting to show some good, consistent form and looks to have settled.
    The comments were along the lines that if you tried to play 451 he does not have the qualities to get into the box and score, nor does he have pace.
    I was comparing Drogba/Lampard with Lee/Rocky in a similar formation. He also does have the tendency to showboat and try to play the clever pass. That is even more dangerous in a midfield three.
    John appears to go two out of three alongside Rocky so he would have him in the team (though I know John does have similar reservations to mine about Rocky). Certainly Rocky and Arca can be a bit flaky when played together.
    Boat would be a greater concern in that scenario.
    On another subject I was sorry to read Robin Mittons post. As I have said before I dont believe people dont care at the Riverside they just seem incapable of ant sort of joined up thinking or communication.

  28. DGL isnt good enough, and Craddock isnt ready yet. We cant risk to play these in the only bright point of a poor season.
    If we go out of the cup our season is over barring the inevitable dark days of a relegation battle.
    We have to play for the draw and get them back to the riverside.
    Young Woodgate Wheater Taylor
    Cattermole Boateng Rochemback Shawky Downing

  29. Bloody hell,
    we are a pessimistic lot.
    This is an opportunity for the youngsters like Craddock to come on. Why dont we give them a chance. Everyone was surprised by Wheater but the lad has played at every international level.
    Injuries while unfortunate will come hopefully the squad players will jump at their opportunity. Believe me its not all that bad.
    **AV writes: We are missing Very Happy to inject our daily dose of positivity.

  30. Ian, I had concerns about Rocky and Arca playing together in terms of leaving the defence exposed but in the games I have seen they have not left me feeling nervous at all.
    Arca being knocked off the ball led to Sunderlands first goal but I think they both (as a pair) contribute a huge amount to the team and I think it was brave of to play them together and drop The Boat. In doing so GS sends a loud message that no one is guaranteed a place in the team which is how it should be.
    Robin Mitton an interesting post but to be blunt and this is not personal but you could be accused of having your own agenda.

  31. Nice to see you are all warming to the Craddock campaign.
    It is also good to see that Mido and Tuncay’s injuries are not as bad as first thought and they could even be back on the pitch against Everton (according to the club website).
    It is a shame Robert Huth (who ? I hear you all say) is still injured, because he would make an awesome temporary forward. Anyone who was at Spurs last season would vouch for that.
    Finally I hear Chelsea have brought out a new Gentleman’s after shave called ‘The Special One’ by U Go Boss.

  32. mark 76
    Not all the posting is negative, a lot of it is about what to do, who to play, the right personnel and formations.
    We may see problems but they are also opportunities. As I posted, points come from odd places and who knows who will be the next new kid on the block, Craddock should certainly get a chance to shine.

  33. Looks like better news on Tuncay and Mido, if not on Arca, sadly – but as the old song says ‘2 out of 3 ain’t bad’ and it’s a damn site better than where we were after the game on Saturday.
    Still leaves the problem for Wednesday night so I’m still advocating 4-5-1 with Craddock up front (as per my posting above) for that game.
    I’ve seen our midfield a few times this season and experienced the personnel over recent seasons. My view is grounded in that reality.
    I agree that Rocky is playing better now than he has done before. But you point out that he has a tendency, on occasions, to lose the ball or lose his way in midfield. Unfortunately, so does Arca. You argue that that’s normal – I think they are at fault too often and it’s worse when they are together.
    But, in any event, if we’re going 4-4-2 and playing with 2 wide players pressing forward in Stewie & O’Neil, then in my view we’d be better off balancing a more creative midfielder with a more holding type so that, if the errors occur when we are pressing forward we have someone who can keep the back door locked.
    It could be said that Rocky could fill this role when Arca plays but the reality I see when they do play together is that neither of them does this and our back 4 is exposed. This has cost us a few goals already this season.
    Given the fact that our defence is more wobbly than we’d all like at the moment and that we’re shipping too many goals I would say that this is doubly true.
    So I’m saying play Rocky or Arca (and this isn’t now a problem for a few months given Arca’s absence) not both and play The Boat for now and Shawky in due course in the other midfield slot.

  34. Hi Nigel,
    Good point but I would like to reassure you of something if I may please. My only ‘agenda’ was to give my all to help BORO through sports/education courses and other initiatives.
    It was sad that the club did not feel it could go forward with these plans. I put BORO at the front of all other clubs and as I mentioned in an earlier post to not even have my application for the Marketing Manager’s acknowledged is as crass as it is rude.
    We are just about to sign an agreement with one of the world’s biggest football clubs for exactly the same initiatives I had hoped to share with BORO.
    As soon as we have signed agreements with this club and our preferred corporate sponsors I will email Anthony’s blog page again to publicise the news and ask what I trust will prove to be a very pertinent question, namely “If it’s good enough for………football club why isn’t it good enough for the BORO?
    I do hope that what I see (and many others too)as this alienating of some of our fans will cease asap.
    Robin Mitton
    Managing Director

  35. Dave Sunderland fan
    If your £9m keeper drops the ball it is not good luck but bad play. And Cattermole might have been sent off, I agree, but your bloke raised his arms to him first, so he should have gone too.
    And even your “fabulous strike” equaliser had a touch of luck about it – if you watch the replay you’ll see that Kenwynne Jones fell fortuitously on the ground in front of Wheater, preventing him from blocking Miller’s shot.
    I was “disappointed” in Sunderland – disappointed in the sense that I expected better. But of course I’m not at all disappointed that they are actually pretty poor and stand a good chance of relegation.
    Come on Boro!!

  36. ‘And Cat should have been sent off.’
    come on dave sunderland fan, yeh he was late however i didnt read in your post how leadbitter should have been sent off for retaliation as he raised his arms and pushed cattermole first.
    Realistically they both could have gone so why whinge when the ref dealt with it the best way he could by booking them both!
    Good news about Mido & Tuncay although I think we need to be careful with Mido if he did pull his hammy.
    I still think we should look at out of contract players as cover as it has been highlighted how short we are in this department when we get a few injuies.
    Against spurs we should just go for it, 4-4-2 with schwarzer, Young, Wheater, Woodgate, Taylor, Boateng, Rocky, Cattermole, Downing, LDG & Craddock. subs: Jones, Riggott, Shawky, Mendieta & Hutchinson.
    If we are to have our main 2 forwards available against everton then give craddock a chance to show what he can do now, a bit of experience will do him the world of good and he wont be under as much pressure should a similar injury crises happen again as he will have had the experience of playing in a first team game.

  37. Nigel
    Following on from the other half here is another post. JP mentions the wobbly nature of the defence.
    By nature defenders look good when picking off through balls and crosses. They have problems when exposed one on one. In the good old Dickie Rooks days the attacker could be safely despatched into row 36 with impunity with a but tut from the b****** in black.
    Rocky and Arca both tend to play the same way and on song are devasting in their perception of passes. The downside is that when their passes go astray chaos ensues.
    You can play both in a midfield five with genuine width and a good mobile striker. In a standard 442 you can play one with two wide men and a holding midfielder.

  38. I agree with you Mainey,go to Spurs with 4 4 2 Its no use changing our style because of injuries….. that will only add to the confusion of having new faces in the side, stick to the same and we may still prevail.
    One thing we must not do is leave young Craddock posted up front on his own.Making a debut is tough enough without expecting him to do the work that an expeienced pro finds hard to do,to be fair to him he will need someone along side him to guide and help him along and I’m sure he will do the job.
    OOHH yes Robin Mitton get over it!!! you did’nt get the job so stop whinging we all feel sorry for you so stop it now.

  39. Silence over!
    Phil, I was thinking the same about Craddock as if he was to play on his own it and he didnt play well, he would mosy likely be taken off after 60mins at the most and that would shatter the guy’s confidence.
    Hopefully whatever side we put out against spurs, they will show the guts and determination to get a win and show that even with injuries we are a good side and our squad can cope with them.
    Come on boro!

  40. Phil ex Warrenby
    My worry about the situation with Robin Mitton is not with him or his company but the apparent lack of communication from MFC. I am sure Robin is big and ugly enough to fight his own corner.
    Like many I am relieved that some of the injuries are not as serious as they looked.
    Spurs tomorrow and we need to be positive whether 451, 442, 352 or any other variation of the personnel we have. Spurs will be desperate for a result and will be at full strength. It is a one off match and there has to be a result on the night, if we sit back we will in all likelihood go down anyway.

  41. I agree that Craddock should be given a chance against Spurs in a 4-4-2 formation.
    No good sitting back as Spurs weakness is their defence.
    Why wasn’t Leadbitter booked for his goal celebration? He would then have been sent off for a second yellow in the handbags incident with Cattermole.
    Mido was for the same celebration against the Skunks.

  42. Ian, I think Gareth Southgates midfield strategy is intruiging to say the least. I had a gut feeling Boat would be on the bench against Sunderland because I believe GS thinks his best midfield is O’Neill, Arca, Rocky, Downing.
    Obviously with Arca now out The Boat will be back in. However when Arca is fit again it will be interesting to see who the first choices are.
    I watched the Newcastle match and was apprehensive to see Rocky & Arca up against Smith & Butt, I thought they would be out muscled but Smith & Butt were anonymous throughout.
    My guess is GS doesn’t believe he needs a Boateng type holding player. I will be very surprised if The Boat is a Boro player next season.

  43. Couple of snippets from the rumour mill
    Suprising one – Middlesbrough will send out an SOS to Australia striker John Aloisi – a free agent after leaving Alaves – to solve their striker crisis
    No suprise to any Boro fan – Everton have warned £11.25m record buy Yakubu to work harder or stay on the sidelines

  44. Hello AV, first time on, but have followed the blog for sometime, and find it excellant, with good banter.
    With all the talk about the injured strikers, goals scored, where is the next coming from, it is interesting to see that only four teams have scored more than we have. OK, I know some have played less, and that Fulham are second highest, but we have defended poorly, and this is the area of concern for me
    **AV writes: Welcome aboard. Boro are scoring … but check out that goal difference column.

  45. De ja vu or what? AV you could just rehash old articles, change the names of players and opposition, but on the whole nothing changes. For All I know you are just an automaton spewing forth these articles.
    If you really exist please can you try and shoe horn in the phrases glorious away win, harmonious crowd, flatulent fox and unexpected rainbow in next blog piece. It would put my mind at rest. Thank you.
    **AV writes: I might struggle with flatulent fox.

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