Boro Must Prepare A Case For The Defence

BORO must quickly prepare a case for the defence if they are to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle. Boro have stuttered through a generously gentle opening set of fixtures that were scripted to set up a campaign fought in the top half to find themselves uncomfortably close to the drop zone – and now the fixtures take on a far more intimidating complexion.
After the tough trip to Everton, Boro must go to Manchester for clashes with revitalised City and awesome United either side of a home encounter with Chelsea and unless they pick up some bonus points from that sticky sequence the scene will be set for an uncomfortable autumn.

Much of the angst in the crowd over the recent disappointing run has been focussed on the toothless front-line. Injuries have left Boro striker light – even the only proven goal-getter Mido looks to be sidelined again – while the flurry of chances being created as Gareth Southgate’s side press forward with an entertaining style are being squandered with a frequency that is prompting dark fears that the barren spell is down to something far more corrosive than mere bad luck.
But just as worrying is that the defence appears to be in crisis too. The once impressively organised and miserly rearguard is now conceding almost two goals a game, a level of leakage that is unacceptable if the team are to entertain any hopes of a top half finish.
In the eight league games so far Boro have leaked 13 goals with seven in the last three. Two at home to Blackburn, two at home to Newcastle, two at home to Sunderland, three at West Ham – all games the spinners say Boro dominated and were ‘unlucky’ to lose. The only clean sheet – common currency last term – came at home to Birmingham and that should ring alarm bells.
Just as worrying as the frequency is the manner in which the goals are going in. Against Everton – a team that started with six defenders on the pitch as boss David Moyes was looking for his own first clean sheet – both goals were bitterly disappointing.
The opener was like a knife to the heart as Yakubu, a player who seemed contractually obliged not to contest a header at Boro, climbed to nod goalwards from a corner and although Jonathan Woodgate did well to head clear off the line it looped to unmarked Joleon Lescott to head it back and in from close range.
But Boro’s defending was in chaos before the ball even reached Yakubu. Shaky shot-stopper Mark Schwarzer came out to punch clear but missed after he tangled with Andrew Taylor, who was supposedly guarding the near post but had drifted out following the path of the ball.
A failure to communicate with defenders is becoming a costly habit for the Aussie. Against
West Ham a mix-up saw Luke Young stab in an own goal when Schwarzer, with a better view of the flight of the ball, should have come to collect.
The slack marking for the Everton corner left the pundits bemused. On Match of the Day 2 Lee Dixon and Neil Warnock were scathing about Boro’s organisation in a routine dead ball situation that they should control. They highlighted the failure of the men on the post to stay there, the
collision and the inability to mark and block Lescott even though Boro outnumbered seven to four and asked why a team managed by a former defender could commit such cardinal sins.
The second goal was equally disturbing because it prompted an outbreak of deja vu. Goal scorer Steven Pienaar passed the ball out wide to Arteta then broke past static George Boateng and Fabio Rochemback into the box while David Wheater marked space rather than go to the man.
That was infuriating as it is now three games running that a midfielder has scampered unhindered through the heart of Boro’s defence to score. Lee Bowyer did it at West Ham, sparking a move from just outside the centre-circle then skipping unchallenged past the midfield pair and two defenders to get on the end of the final ball to rifle in.
Then against Sunderland, the opener came as Grant Leadbitter broke forward through midfield unmarked when he got the spawny deflection in the box that teed up his shot, an example of “making your own luck in this game.”
There was an argument against West Ham and Sunderland that it was having a more creatively minded engine room that allowed such unchecked movement but for Everton Boateng was there to shore it up and stop such a run and it made little difference.
One of the problems is that having set their stall out to play attacking football Boro are more vulnerable when they lose the ball. In getting more men further forward they are leaving gaps for the opposition to exploit. For instance, twice at Upton park Boro lost possession with six or
seven men in the Hammers box to be undone with swift balls down the flanks, first Carlton Cole racing past where Taylor should have been then on the other side Etherington through where Young should have been to set up goals against a back-pedalling defence that were hopelessly out of position.
That comes with the territory. If Boro are to continue to play an attacking style there will be times they get caught – but the whole team must be drilled to expect it and concentrate to pick up the movement. And the defence must be at playing at their peak to make it a viable
proposition. Arsenal and Man United can do it because they are excellent at the back and have disciplined sprinters in the middle – and that is where Boro must tighten up first, closing down danger quickly and tracking back to prevent the backline becoming exposed must be every bit as important as looking for the killer through ball or making cavalier runs forward.
It is not helped that key components of Boro’s rearguard have yet to hit top gear. The season started with a centre-back crisis but bar Wheater – one of the outstanding performers so far – we now have a first choice rearguard although Woodgate and Young missed pre-season and so are playing their way to fitness while in the frontline.
Whatever the mitigation, Boro are in a defensive crisis that must be solved swiftly. If Boro are shipping goals are such an alarming rate it piles the pressure on the frontmen to score more and while we are carving out the chances no one is sticking them away with the regularity needed to compensate. And there as there is not enough of a cushion between us and the basement to go into the next few fixtures in the same stuttering form.
There is much talk about the entertaining football, and after the dark days of McClarenism it is a merciful relief, but it brings with it massive risks, especially if goals are not flowing freely at the other end.
Boro are not in danger yet but playing good football and losing eats into confidence (the fans as much as the players) and will pile on the pressure to change the way they play. We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water but neither do we want the season to be a washout and if there is to be progressive football it must be based on solid foundations.
They must stop the rot quickly – starting from the back.


41 thoughts on “Boro Must Prepare A Case For The Defence

  1. Our defence has been poor for last 12 months. Conceded far too many goals. The warning signs were there against hull, reading(away), west brom, pompey(home) and bristol city.
    Woodgate should be getting more involved in organising the defence

  2. AV
    For obvious reasons you’ve concentrated on the Prem fixtures but if you also look at the Spurs game it further supports your analysis.
    When we played 5-5 or sometimes 6-4 in the first half they didn’t score but it was less to do with our massed ranks than their cow’s arse/banjo shooting and heading and a few heroic saves by Jones.
    We got penned in for 43.5 of the 46 first half minutes too because when we did get the ball off them because they got bored and lost the ball we gave it straight back because there was no out ball.
    There was more slapstick around our trying to defend what often turned into strings of corners. At almost every one we had our 10 outfield players in our box – this is our common practice, I have observed, but it almost guarantees giving the ball back to the opposition if/when you clear your lines. On this occasion they left 1 back and put 9 in our box too – a recipe for chaos, which ensued.
    Worse, on a couple of occasions we had a string of four across our six yard line, one on each post and another roaming in front of Jones so almost everyone was on top of our goalkeeper and not marking a man. Even if Jonah was any good at catching crosses he would have had to barge half our team out of the way to get it.
    In the 2nd half we reverted to 4-4-2 and had more joy going forward but made no real chances – let alone convert any. Once they sussed what we were doing they immediately countered it and opened us up thrice in 5 minutes, scoring twice.
    And who was it that scored? Defoe, Berbatov, Keane? No, their central midfielder Huddlestone and Bale, their left wing-back.
    Pattern emerging?
    This was also with a slightly different configuration of back 4 and midfield for us too, so must be about system and coaching – not just about individuals.

  3. What is worrying is that it seems that we need to score two goals just to get a point. With a first choice team out you think that is just about achieveable but with even one of the key players missing it looks impossible.
    The real problem is when we press forward in numbers and both full backs and sometimes both central midfielders are in the opposition half.
    If we lose the ball then all it takes is a hoof down either flank and we are cut open – the winger either gets a free run or the centre-backs are dragged across leaving a massive home for another striker/midfielder to arrive unmarked. It has happened time after time, not just for the goals.
    It is a recipe for disaster and there seems to be no attempt to put it right.
    I hate to say it but I see a lot of parallels with 1997. We are coming away from games saying we have played well but are getting battered.
    Now we have some tough games coming up and who is brave enough to say we will get enough points from the next free to pull away from the bottom three.
    Once you are down there you can’t afford to play fancy stuff. We are rapidly approaching a crisis.

  4. I couldnt disagree with this more.
    The Defence is conceding a lot but it cannot be improved upon. This is our best defence, Wheater has done nothing wrong and even though Pogatetz was superb last year IMO he did nothing better than Wheater, plus Wheater is smarter, taller and faster than Pogatetz. No matter if Huth and Pogatetz come back they should not be in the team.
    The only problem and the main fault of the Defence at the moment is Woodgate, the man is NOT fit and is far from being fit, A unfit woodgate is no better than Riggott, so Get Riggott in the side and Get Woodgate at least 80% at the moment hes no more than 50%
    The Midfield and the poor attack are the problems, the lack of an attack means the ball is bouncing back to the defence quicker and giving them no time to rest. Aliadieres pace will sort it out a bit as his ability to run lets us keep the ball and the defence to catch their breath.
    And the midfield doesnt help at all. Rochemback is not premiership quality he may have looked good with Arca but thats because they are more suited to each other but the majority is Arca carrying him. Rochemback will not create enough or score enough to justify his place in the team.
    Cattermoles Strength, Resolve as well as being a half decent tackler says he should be in the slot with Boateng.
    The team in this tough time should be
    Young Riggott Wheater Taylor
    O’Neill Boateng Cattermole Downing
    Tuncay/Craddock Lee
    Cattermole and Boateng can sit and stop midfields breaking us down notice all the goals we are conceding its not due to strikers its midfielders (Leadbitter, Miller, Bowyer, Pienarr) and the goals scored by strikers are due to Midfielders breaking. O’Neill and Downing are still good enough to make us even half attacking and Cattermole will get forward so its Okay.
    I agree that conceding goals is what we have to stop but its not the defence that needs sorting.

  5. The comparison with a decade ago is scary considering that we actually had a goal scorer then. Now we are leaking goals for fun and have no scorer of any Pedigree at all.
    An even more frightening comparison is when TV came in and rescued us when we were in freefall and Robbo’s inexperience was cruelly exposed at this level.
    With this previous hindsight in mind I think we need to see a 5-4-1 formation over the next few weeks. Allied to our striking problems and our sieve-like defence I don’t think anything else is even worthy of contemplation.
    Taking it one stage further I think Gareth needs to be brave in his selection, beginning with his choice between the sticks. Never thought I’d say this but at the moment Brad looks a better bet than his Aussie counterpart.
    Back 5 needs to be Young (only just!) Riggott, Woody, Wheater and Taylor.
    Midfield of O’Neil, Cattermole, Rocky and Downing
    Up front is no choice but in fairness Craddock deserves his chance.
    Subs: Schwarzer, Shawky, Hines (or Davo if he is still here), Mendieta (incredible I know) and Hutchinson.
    Captaincy?……….how about Riggot!
    This formation should help with the leaks and show that Gareth means business. With the Back line sorted it would give the wingers more licence to get forward and support Craddock; add Riggott and Wheater coming up at set pieces. Lee Cattermole is capable of nicking a goal so whilst it looks negative on paper it might actually save our season over the next few weeks.

  6. Ever since the west ham game i have had concerns about our full backs and midfielders pushing up to much. This leaves us at risk from counter attacks.
    Think Southgate needs to play more defensive until we get a few more points on the board. Him and cooper have tje experience to concentrate on sorting out the defence and defending as a unit. Southgate needs to get hold of Taylor and tell him to concentrate on defending

  7. Redcar Red- the back 5 has been proven at International, European and domestic level not to work.
    Now, there is a case for 4-5-1 until we get all our strikers back, and even then it may be the best away from home. However, 5 at the back is definitely not the answer unless one is called Christian Ziege and the other Cafu!

  8. At the start of this season, a number of us were bemoaning the fact that we had not secured another experienced striker.
    A lot of us, me included, looked at our midfield, particularly after O’Neill joined us and thought yeah, we look OK, as it was the area where we were most lacking last season.
    The defence seemed to be sorted, although maybe we could have done with a left back to replace Taylor, and provide him with a mentor.
    So where has it all gone wrong?
    The striker issue has really and truly come back to haunt Southgate, we looked lightweight from the outset and still do, and coupled with cow/banjo performances and now a sickening injury crisis we are left devoid of anyone capable of regularly hitting the back of the net.
    It was embarrassing to see that we had to resort to throwing Wheater up front to partner young Craddock in the last quarter of the game against Everton, Moyles must have been laughing all the way to the dressing room afterwards.
    And we can all say (as I have done) good riddance to the fat Ozzie and lazy Yak, but the fact is they would have buried some of the chances that our hapless forwards (and midfielders) seem incapable of.
    In midfield we’ve now lost Arca our only player of true creativity, George is running around like a headless chicken and achieving 9 tenths of nothing, mainly due to Southgate’s inability to know what his best midfield 3, 4 or 5 are, and who to play where (square-pegism), so George feels impelled to try stick his fingers in all of the holes in the dyke to try and stem the flow.
    O’Neill is still feeling his feet and appears not to have had his vaccination against “cowsarsebanjomissalotis”, and Downing is as inconsistent as ever, incapable of using his obvious talents in his free role to hit teams where it hurts, we can’t really class him as part of a midfield. Catermole has hardly had a sniff other than as a late second half rottweiller.
    In every game bar the Brum game, we have failed to win the battle in midfield, the stepping stone for any team to launch attacks into our penalty area, we have been caught on numerous occasions of other teams midfielders arriving late in our box to score, it’s no good blaming defenders, there’s no tracking back from midfield !
    Now the case for the defence; the injury to Pogo and extension of Woodgate’s post op recovery were not a good start, we have a new right full back yet to find his feet and his match fitness, young Taylor doing his best (but for me not yet the finished article and we should have an experienced left back in place), we’ve had Wheater thrown in at the deep end who looked good but I feel is now being found out a little, Davies and Riggott in and out of the side, so not really the start we all anticipated.
    Add to this that Woodgate comes back obviously too early, he’s not match fit that is clear, and his body language and facial expressions tell it all, he is not a happy bunny.
    Maybe he thinks he should be captain above George (more strife in the camp?) or is it because of the realisation that he has failed miserably to take on the responsibility to marshal a defence and a goalkeeper who between them are leaking goals from all over the park.
    Southgate should at least give Woodgate FULL responsibilty at the back if they can’t give him the captains armband. Gate and Coops are two verey experienced and respected defenders, there is no excuse for the way that defence is playing at the moment.
    Give George a proper job. If they must play him tell him to keep it simple, win the ball pass it 10 yards, and stop the 40 yard balls to no-mans land, and the shots on the corner flag from 25 yards.
    Play a 5 if necessary, there is always 4 in the middle when Downing is bridging between midfield and front men. That will afford Taylor a little protection on the left too when Downing is stuck upfield.
    In terms of th strike force, Southgate and MFC have only them selves to blame. They took a huge gamble and made a serious error of judgement if they thought they could go into a season in the English Premier League with half fit, goal-less forwards and expect it all to come together. Wake up Mr Southgate, Gibson and Lamb, that sort of fortune is reserved for fairy stories, and lottery winners.

  9. Interesting thoughts from both Lewis Thompson and Redcar red. I realy do think it’s time for Gareth to make a change in keepers and I would think about the right back possie too.
    Maybe try the Boat in there untill young McMahon is fit again and try Luke Young further up the park behind the front two with Catts and or Hines/Davies slotting in the mid- field four alongside Downing.
    I’m afraid the forwards would have to be any two from four who happen to be fit. You may note I have left Rochemback out of the running as I still dont think he’s got what it takes to make the team tick.
    So my side would be:

  10. At the start of the season as it became obvious that GS prefered Arca & Rocky in central midfield to The Boat my concern like many others was that would make us vulnerable defensively in midfield.
    However both against Newcastle and Everton it has been The Boat who has failed to close down an opposing midfield player leading directly to a goal. Also other goals are being conceeded because of poor defending such as Evertons first goal.
    Playing Arca (when fit) and Rocky is working well in an attacking sense and is not the reason for us conceeding. Perhaps despite Arca’s absence GS should drop Boateng and give Cattermole a chance, he is faster ad can also get forward more.
    The defence as a unit is not in good form, Schwarzer is out of sorts probably because of his contract situation , maybe Young is still settling in, but GS needs to put some hard graft in with the team on the training field to overcome the defensive problems.
    Prehaps having spent the Summer working on the attacking part of the game (and I’m glad he did) he now needs to concentrate on the team defending as a unit.
    One thing is certain the current situation is not sustainable

  11. AV – rumour flying round is that for Chelsea the club have binned the Category A prices. Can you confirm this is true?
    Had the club planned this and not the ticket office machine gone pear shaped. Get in there quick and get your tickets before the club realise the mistake.
    **AV writes: I understand that the adult prices start at £31 – the sames as Newcastle so that makes it a Category A game… could be a lot going spare.
    If Boro lose at Man City it could be a very low gate, and Cheslea won’t bring many.

  12. We cant do much about our striker situation, as I have posted before and as John posts above we have to have outlets or the ball will just keep coming back.
    Defending isnt just shutting up shop and to quote Jose parking the team bus in front of the goal. We remember only too well the dreary MacClarenesque performances of going away from home and trying to get to half time 0-0 and sneak a goal. We failed miserably on many occasions with proven strikers, it wont work with what we have.
    On the other hand we dont have to be like kids in a schoolground chasing the ball, we need to keep it and be effective. No silly tricks in our half from Rocky. Boat has to pass to red shirt, my son reckons he gives away more possession than he wins.
    Cat needs to come in to centre mid probably alongside Boat to help stiffen up in front of defence. Players have to show movement to give an option to the man with the ball. If they dont it will only come back at us.
    Onto defence itself. All defenders struggle when under the cosh whoever they are. If midfield is allowed to keep running at them, if fullbacks can join in, if centre backs can step into midfield then you end up being pushed back and play in your own box.
    Then it becomes lottery time, the stupid keeper hasnt got 10 foot arms and doesnt clear the ten defenders out of the six yard area, the ball keeps dropping to their players, they play one-twos and give and goes around your penalty area, because you play the game around your own box you suffer when the officials make one mistake (compared to dozens your own team make).
    If you add in poor positioning and a pet hate of mine zonal marking (Wheater kept zone in his pocket but Piennar scored) you have a recipe for problems.
    You can drop bloopers all over the pitch but do it in the box and you are a headline waiting to happen. We need to keep their midfield and defence honest.

  13. AV
    Our defence would gain some heart if they saw the ball enter the net at the other end.
    Even a 7 v 4 would help.
    The first goal we conceded at Everton was appalling, because Young joined their attack and blocked Schwarzer form taking a simple catch at the near post.
    I find it hard to believe that Cattermole is being overlooked when GS, clearly stated that pace would be the essence of the season from all quarters.
    We are slowly losing that 100% togetherness, which in firness have been hit hard by our appalling bad luck on the injury front.
    However, we are a squad and every player is a professional, therefore if one gets the unexpected call up to the first team, they must do or die to maintain it.
    It is a positive ploy, but unless one’s heart is a winner then defeats will become habitual.
    Pause for thought for figuring out time!!!
    How come all these footballers, come golfers, manage to put a little ball down little hole, yet cannot put a football inside what must appear to look like a damned trawl net?

  14. So GS has total faith in the strikers he has signed.
    If this is the case then how come he has set them a target of scoring 24 between the 4 of them for the season.
    Mido – 10 goals
    Tuncay – 7 goals
    Aliadiere – 5 goals
    DGL – 2 goals
    Now I may be wrong but setting a CF a target of scoring 2 goals, means he has no faith in him or that he has total faith in him and as such he will spend the season sat on the bench.
    **AV writesL I think it was Eric Paylor rather than Gareth Southgate that set those targets. But your point stands.

  15. Having watched the Championship game last Sunday between West Brom & QPR I was wondering why Boro sold young Morrison (who can run and shoot) instead of George Boateng who can also run and shoot, albeit a lot slower than Morrison.
    Is the Old Pals act in place here ?

  16. Simba, two goals! Can I have some of that stuff Eric has been on?
    Sadly the Mido injury news doesnt cheer me up. I must admit he didnt look 100% fit at the start against Everton.
    Very Happy
    Here is some food for thought. I wonder how much time the footballers spend trying to get the little ball into the little hole compared to the big ball into the big net?
    Similar question concerns keeping the big ball out of the big net though they seem to manage that at the other end , just need to swop ends really.

  17. Ian – I assume the basis of Eric’s assumption that DGL will socre two is that if you play enough then inevitably the law of probability is you would score. Apparently Eric had you down to score three!!

  18. Ian Gill
    In all fairness Ian, people have a damned good right to clout GS, and lets put the injuries to one side and look inside reality.
    Boetang cannot shoot.
    Cattermole can
    Boetang has no pace.
    Cattermole has
    Boetang is past his sell-by-date
    Cattermole hasn’t even got a label.
    The lad is not even coming on as a substitute.
    George has been a wonderful asset to the club, but you must have youth in midfield that can drive forward relentlessly.
    If AV digs out all his pre-season archives, you will see our lost points in print.
    I rest me case, but will still keep me eye on the Blogs, cos me opinions have shut down.

  19. note to our esteemed coaches,dont you think if you rely on taylor to downing,downing to taylor,taylor big kick,60% of the time,other teams will notice? Or when your goalie looks like a tree standing beside the road when it comes to corners they will notice? Or you can dance through midgield cos the middle two cant catch you ,they will notice? Or is that just me

  20. Very Happy
    Preaching to the converted, I think Boat has been a good servant but has past his sell by date. Cat would probably have tucked the ball away against Everton because he has more composure on the ball. Boat is whole hearted but is blundering about at the moment.
    As for clouting GS I dont now if you think I stick up for him too much? I think he takes the money and must take the praise and the blame. He gets praise for trying to improve the football and cope with the loss of players. I also think he has brought in some talent, sadly that does not include Euell and Simba.
    He has also dropped a few clangers and is big enough to take the flak. You only have to read some of my postings to see I dont mind criticising or blaming as things happen.
    My view is that we are in a bit of a pickle at the moment and Gate must take his share of the blame.

  21. I think GS is going to have to tighten things up at Man C and play 4 – 5 – 1
    He should play 2 holding midfielders -Cattermole and Shawky.
    This could leave Downing, O’Neill and Rocky to support the lone front man, probably Tuncay if Mido is not fit. If Mido is fit Tuncay could be an option in midfield instead of Rocky.
    I would not have Boteng in the team.

  22. Neil from Baku- You say Tayls needs to learn from a mentor but don’t forget Cashley Cole made his own way at Arsenal. A mentor is also known as holding back your young talent.
    Phil ex Warrenby- where to start with you?
    1)Luke Young playing as a creative attacker behind the front two is lunacy!
    2)Also, you talk of changing all the defence around and playing Boat at RB etc. Look at Arsenal of the 90s, they had the same back four week in week out and look how they defended. They just need games together. That and a new keeper, of course.
    3) as for Hines or DAVIES in midfield…

  23. Just to add to the debate on Catts. I have seen most of what he has done this season.
    His pass completion has been no better than The Boat’s and sometimes worse and his tackling no more certain or less likely to be yellow carded. Although he can get around quicker it’s to no avail if he isn’t getting to the right place – no difference there then.
    He has proved that he has a better eye for a goal than The Boat. His attitude and propensity for getting involved in angry exchanges is about equal.
    But he lacks The Boat’s experience which will always count with managers, particularly when hunkering down for a scrap to get out of trouble.
    I fear that we’d only have near the quality of driving midfielder that we need if we nailed the 2 of them together!
    Shawky’s an unknown quantity but what I saw in the first half at Spurs tells me he isn’t ready yet.
    What that tells me is that on Saturday we should play 4-5-1 with both The Boat and Catts either side of Rocky in the centre of midfield.
    Catts should be given the freer role and The Boat told to concentrate only on shackling Elano by man marking and if he gets the ball to lay it off to the NEAREST red shirt.

  24. AV – Is it true that our defence is getting a seperate sponsorship deal from
    Have a look at the tape of the everton game and count how many times 2 boro defenders went for the same ball – including the first goal.
    This is clearly a lack of communication which is not down to anything other than poor coaching and training. Even schoolkids are taught to ‘put their name’ on the ball. We are not doing it. Boateng is constantly losing the ball and is getting tackled far too easily.
    Also I could not believe the pundits on sky saying that we were unlucky, we were poor plain and simple. It does not matter whether 3 easy chances were missed and how ‘it could have been such a different game’.
    We are constantly missing such chances, losing possesion in midfield and getting tangled up in defence, leaving gaps for players like Arteta to exploit. (Let you into a secret- Premier league teams all have at least 1 or 2 decent players that can exploit weak defences.)
    The opening fixtures we had were an absolute gift, but we failed to take advantage and all that awaits us now is a very tough relegation battle, which i do not think we will get out of. 8 points from those fixtures tells its own story.
    Please Mr Gibson, when it comes to appointing a new manager, whether sooner or later, please pick someone with experience and who knows what they are doing. Our last experienced manager was Lennie way back when, not counting the Venables thing.
    We could have been a contender with the money spent and players attracted over the years, but is has all gone wrong. We may as well just go back to being a yo-yo team.

  25. Malc,
    I take your point mate, but I do believe that the younger players need someone to look up to, a bit like a tradesman and his apprentice.
    However my point was not to see Taylor ousted completely, but to let him rest a little. He’s young with a lot of talent and ambition and I would hate to see him burnt out at 25. There have been times when he has looked battle weary and some of his performances have suffered because of that.
    Also, don’t forget, we do not have cover at left back (if you discount Pogi) so Taylor will be asked to play every game that he is fit enough for. That can’t be good for a player his age.
    Finally, Cashley Cole was a great player whilst at Arsenal, but have you witnessed his recent performances for Chelsea and England? Now there is a player that’s either got too much money and isn’t hungry anymore, or he’s not at the top of his game.

  26. Hey Malc, what I was trying to say was we have no midfielders as such so we may as well try Young a bit further up the field . He spends most of histime up there anyhow and it would stop George from giving the ball away in midfield and save him from having to track back, which he’s too slow for now.
    But you have a point It could be LUNACY on my part,.. the sun’s pretty hot out here in [OZ]. Regarding Davies tho ‘Hull,Southhampton and Norwich seem to agree with me and though I have only seen a little of Hines we could do worse than giving him a run.

  27. Dear Anthony,
    Unless SG alters senior management personnel, style structure and philosophy “corrosive” defects will ensure we’re in for a scrap for survival.
    Nothing will change for the better unless the owner of the football club takes heed. I’m bringing my son up for the next home game and I’ll offer you my analysis in full after that.
    Nervously becalmed BORO fan I will remain yours,
    Robin Mitton

  28. John
    Playing 451 on Saturday is a great idea cos Citeh wont be there, we play on Sunday! Bet we still let a couple in and Simba hits the post.

  29. What happens if these chance we keep missing start drying up? There is no guarantee that it will continue.
    How do we know that this is us playing well and we have yet to hit a bad patch? We are leaking goals even with a virtually full strength midfield and defence

  30. Rob Mitton – I may have missed it, has the Big Club that was about to buy into your system (which Boro ignored) been revealed yet?

  31. I can confirm that, for some reason that escapes me, I have purchased a ticket in the North East corner for the Chelsea match for the princely sum of 24 quid (+ 2 booking fee)- and I’m coming from Holland – have I lost my senses?
    On the team front, I’m afraid I have to agree that Boateng is having a poor time of it. His collapse to the ground on the realisation that he had given the ball away in front of the 18 yard box against Everton just about summed it up.
    It cannot be a question of whether Cattermole plays, I think he MUST play, even if likely to get sent off.
    On the defence front, I too cannot believe that Southgate & Cooper, two defenders, are presiding over the kind of shambles we saw at Everton.
    Schwarzer not interested, Woodgate not fit and a singular lack of communication between the whole unit. I think we all know where we should park the team bus at Eastlands on Sunday…

  32. I can see the attraction of going 451 against City on Sunday, but i still believe that we should stick with 442.
    451 is fine if its your normal system and you have the right players to play it, but if you normally play 442 then swap to 451 for an away game when you are in poor form it sends a big message to the opposition and your own players ‘ we don’t beleive we can win, we are worried we will conceed so we are going to defend and hope for the best’
    We need to defend from the front and put City’s defence under pressure so that they think twice about commiting players forward when they attack.
    If Tuncay is not fit play DGL & Craddock.

  33. Ian
    Like all good statistics I am broken down by age and sex (well, age anyway). It’s cruel – if funny – to mock the afflicted.

  34. people go on about bringing Jones through but if you were there on Tuesday night I think second thought’s might be in hand. 2 shots straight at him one bounced off the chest the second hit his arm and just went wide. He flapped at cross’s against WBA last season he stood and watched the ball roll into the net.
    We lost our main iron man at the back with Poggy being out, but weats has played a blinder since coming in. Other’s that looked good in the reserves on Tuesday night were Owens Macca (starting to look back to his best) Hines and Williams seemed to give there all for the shirt which is all you can ask.

  35. interesting reading the differing views on this subject, i will add mine though i feel sure many will disagree!!
    schwarzer, bad attitude of late seems uninterested, makes mistakes every game, definately needs replacing.
    woodgate, definately has a touch of class, needs to up his fitness and become more consistant.
    cattermole, must admit had a good laugh when i heard he could be the next steven gerrard, if i was to compare him to former boro players i would think of jamie pollock or even tony maCandrew, far too rash bull in a china shop spring to mind, always going to be prone to getting booked or sent off.
    mido, has been a bit of a mischief maker at previous clubs, jury still out.
    dgl, rocky, boatang need to be given a one way ticket.
    downing, taylor and wheater seem to be our best bet to save our season, oh and johnson who is out on loan, why??
    i have only mentioned a few players but i have tried to give as honest an opinion as possible. Fortunately derby, sunderland, birmingham and wigan will probably finish below us in may, so this could be another season for southgate to learn his trade.
    sure people might think this post a bit harsh but finger pointing needs to be done, at the end of the day we all want boro to be as good as possible….

  36. Humm i remeber a few comments after Morrison was sold saying the acadamy has to start funding itself etc First it was Morrison, Now it seems Davies, Cattermole linked to clubs on loan & Johnson out on loan where I think he will excell and hopefully do what downing did on his return from loan at sunderland and force a more senior player(Zenden) out of team.
    What we did wth Zenden may work with Downing, When johnson returns, push downing inside one and develop him into a creative player in the middle, something we really lack and need now that Arca is out of the picture.
    The trouble is tho this wont happen, johnson will get frustrates, Just Like Cattermole will and I can see both players going in the summer.
    If Tuncay aint fit for sunday, we need to play Craddock with the Gookster. To be honest Id go 3-5-2 (old wing back system) Schwarzer in goal, Riggot, Wheater & Woodgate at the back, Young & Taylor as wing backs, O’Neil, Boateng (holding role) & Downing in the middle with gook and Craddock up front.
    If we go 4-5-1 as like being suggested, Richards will destroy Gook and elano will still control the middle.
    We need to make them think about what we are doing not the other way around, keep them pegged back, control the midfield and we will win the game. Infact im even going to back gook to score this week if he goes to the bongo, sorry i mean if we play my formation.

  37. I am all for attacking football but only if there is someone to finish it off. Boro do not have that so we would be much better employing a much tighter defensive system where hopefully one goal would get us a win.
    I have been reluctant to criticise Southgate and Cooper but their inexperience is becoming more and more obvious especially during the game where they seem unable to influence play or react to changes made by the opposition.
    Unless there is a drastic change i am afraid that relegation is a certainty.

  38. If we get rid of Scwarzer and have someone between the sticks who at least is interested most of the other problems will sort themselves out.
    His main interest seems to be to get to the end of his contract without getting his shirt dirty. Get rid now before he takes us down and walks away laughing under us breath how he conned everybody all these years.

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