A Few Months Back We’d Have Lost That

A FEW months back we’d have lost that. The squandered chances would have set the jitters off, Bristol’s bright start to the second half would have fostered and the red card would have led to the slow motion retreat and fear creeping in. We would have finished the game scrambling balls away from the box in blind panic and no doubt crumbled an conceded from a dead-ball in stoppage time.


Instead, the sending off – deserved it must be said, the challenge was a daft one and Robson had already been booked and had his cards marked for giving the ref a 57 minute ear bashing – had little strategic effect. Boro continued to battle, play at pace, show great energy and press forward right until the death. When Robson went Strachan didn’t take a striker off to concede the initiative, Boro kept pushing for the win. That change in mentality is the most pleasing aspect of the Strachan’s changes.
And if we had a striker with an eye for goal and a calm head we’d have won it too. Killen worked hard, held the ball up well and won almost everything in the air but his lack of a killer touch showed when he was played through by a flick on from a free-kick and had the ball in acres of space eight yards out only to blaze over. OK, the offside flag was already up and it wouldn’t have counted but if you have any pretentions of being a clinical prolific predator you have got to hit the target from there.
Likewise Lita. He is fast and at times has a lovely touch but he seems to have turned making the wrong choices into an art form. He doesn’t get down the channels when the ball is pumped there but give him the ball at his feet he invariably drifts too wide and runs down a blind alley.
But we all know the that the problem lies up front so there is no point banging on about it. It says everything that Wheater looked the likeliest goal scorer. That is the area Strachan is trying to sort out before Monday. We know that.
Almost everywhere else on the pitch there were positives, albeit tempered by the result. Grounds and Wheater look strong together and the entire back unit – despite its square-pegged limitations and one footed Hoyte reverting to type after three good games – has grown in confidence over the past few games. The first clean sheet since Scunthorpe on Boxing Day can only help.
In midfield there was a better balance. With the tireless Celtic Tiger Willo Flood buzzing about on the right and a hard-working and experienced central duo of Robson and O’Neil Boro will be very hard to outmuscle and out-labour now. If Jonno had produced the little bits of match-winning magic we expect from him on the left Boro would have won the game but being double-marked for most of the game (and possibly the distraction of dodging chequebooks) left him subdued for long spells.
Flood – excellent and a cult hero in the making and his weaving first half run into the box before being tackled was the most exciting moment of the match. Robson – terrific first half with obvious leadership qualities on show but he must learn to wind his neck in when the ref warns him, there is no Old Firm halo to protect him now. O’Neil – non-stop energy, especially after the red card was flashed and Boro’s best again.
So on balance, it won’t go down well with punters who expected a new golden age after reading the glowing reports of the mid-week mauling of Doncaster, but that was another tentative step forward. A clean sheet, the bulk of the possessiion and chances, rarely threatened, a team spirit and determined mentality starting to shine through and a solidity and ambition right into stoppage time even after going a man down.
It wasn’t the greatest game but the positives were there and with half a season to play and only a four point gap to the play-offs there is a lot of milage in this season yet.
*******
THE LIVE matchday blog was up and running again today. Those eager expats following the technocrock saga will know that the last few attempts have broken down more often than Didier Digard carrying Mido on his back. Or like Emnes, simply failed to start.
But we brought in a new McLaptop on loan from Scotland, the Mosso Cloudfile Transfer is complete, a late fitness test was passed and we lasted the full 90. So we will be getting back to the tried and test cyber-cynical chaos, beery banter and instinctive yelps of anxiety on the global virtual terrace from next week. Thanks for your patience.
You can get a taster of the unique combination of the Holgate, Masterchef and Friends Reunited by rewinding the coverage here….

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30 thoughts on “A Few Months Back We’d Have Lost That

  1. Good Luck with the Live Blog for the Bristol City match. I’ll be at the game, without my laptop, so won’t be able to take part. Hope there’s no need for a techie to run on with the IT equivalent of the magic sponge.

  2. Good Luck with Mosso Cloudfiles today. I won’t be able to logon today, but look forward to reading th blog aftert the event.

  3. Hi AV
    Being an expat and now we are no longer in the premier league, my major option is to listen to Ali and Gilly on Boro world.
    The live blog when I went on a few weeks ago was great, but there was this very irritating sound every time a new blog got posted. Any chance you can switch that sound off, so I can listen to Radio Tees and watch the blog.
    Next best thing to being at the game.
    UP THE BORO, THE BORO’s GOING UP, THE BORO’s GOING UP !!!
    **AV writes: A bleeping sound? I get that too to tell me a new comment has been posted that needs my attention. I don’t know if you can turn it off. There may be an options ‘disable alert’ dialogue box when you log in. When I fire her up today I’ll look see if there is anything at my end.

  4. A lot of transfer talk coming out on sky sports about Boro, personally think Macdonald would be good buy, would love to see Ambrose come too. I know you must be busy on match day AV but don’t think i’ve heard you comment on who you would like to see at club…
    anything coming out of club about transfers?
    **AV writes: The buzz today was that they are still hopeful on McDonald but have a plan B; are still keen on Charlie Adam but have a Plan B.

  5. Av, please don’t press any extra switch or you nevwr know what happens in PCs!Let’s try if it works as earlier first.
    I will join – a little late but anyway. Up the Boro!

  6. Any news on transfers AV???
    YOU’VE NEVER SAID WHO YOU’D LIKE TO SEE COME IN…..
    Good luck to the boro today, 3 points n we’re right back in

  7. In the same number of games we have scored 27 goals away and 12 at home-a quite mind boggling statistic.
    Plus points today were the industry of Flood O’Neill and Robson[whilst on the pitch] and the solidity of Grounds and Wheater.
    Minus points were the last third of the pitch again and for home games we need better full backs.Mcmahon is committed but lacks quality and Hoyte should not be playing at left back. In fact I’d go as far to say that if we actually had a decent left footed attacking left back on the pitch the game would have been sown up at half time.

  8. Today’s game was lost in the first 30 minutes when Lita missed another opportunity in the opening seconds but more so because of Hoye’s selection at Left Back. This is not a criticism of Hoyte’s singularly right footed performance but of Stricken’s team selection.
    Bristol were all at sea in the opening 30 minutes and we should have put paid to them with ease. Hoyte’s complete inability to penetrate with his pace and having a go by cutting in on his right and instead going wide (very slowly) and then every consequent crossing attempt resulting in a whimper let Bristol off the hook so much so they didn’t even consider him a threat and tactically concentrated on the opposite flank.
    Jinky clearly was looking towards his exit and determined not to get “Downinged.” It would be easy to suspect he shirked anything remotely physical which meant our left flank was totally limp.
    Robson looks to be a real fighter and for me was MoM until his departure. I’m not even going to comment on the Officials as they were clearly way out of their collective depths and destroyed the match for both sets of supporters, “RESPECT campaign your having a laugh”!
    Flood looks like he will soon be a fans favourite if he keeps his endeavours up but Killen looks like a long line of Boro strikers who couldn’t score in a month of Sundays. He does seem to battle and put himself about at least but sadly there is no end product. Lita is way beyond me, Boro’s ALDI answer to Paris Hilton!
    Wheats and Grounds looked like they are comfortable together and I hope Stricken sticks with the pairing despite McManus’s arrival. Macca gives it his best at RB and needs to be encouraged more to push up and get the midfield to feed him wide where he at least can cross a ball.
    The substitution of Hoyte for Arca was almost as amazing as Hoyte’s selection in the first place, why was Bennet on the bench who could have added the same width and pace as Hoyte but with an end product?
    Gon ran himself ragged after Robson’s sending off and was by far the MoM. So there you have it, incompetent Referee seeking attention, Lita going down quicker than billionaire heiresses and the most right footed player I have ever seen square pegged at LB. Deja Vu’ again, good job I kept my Foam hands in the closet because Stricken is displaying the same old crazy “qualities” in “Typical Boro” managerial history .
    There have been many Boro ailments highlighted on here over the years only for them to be blindly (blatantly) ignored to the common loss and detriment of all concerned. The same old faults are repeating themselves each week. Stricken clearly can’t manage Lita, Hoyte is having his career destroyed by a poor Manager who still thinks Arca is going to do something inspirational and meanwhile we had 17,000 odd fans allegedly to witness it all.
    On the subject of fans I have just worked out that the attendance figures are like currency exchange rates where 1 Boro Fan = 1.25 MFC Fans.

  9. ‘AV said:…but that was another tentative step forward…’
    Oh, really? I guess we’ve sunk so low that a decent away win against ‘Doncaster’ can be followed up by a deserved home point against ‘Bristol’. Happy Days.
    **AV writes: That’s where we are now, slowly emerging from the Year Zero of the Strachanovite revolution. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a small step.

  10. Respect to Danny Coyne.
    13 games. 6 clean sheets. 4 defeats.
    Pity he wasn’t playing in the other 15 games this season, we might have found ourselves well and truly amongst it.

  11. Please, Redcar Red,change your name to Redcar Blues,you sound to me like a middle aged woman going through menapause. Jeez, lighten up.

  12. Certainly the next 24 hrs are going to be vital to our chances of gaining a play off place, as the transfer window begins to creak shut.
    Yesterday, Lita proved (yet again)just why we need a real striker. Killen is intelligent enough, will never be a prolific goal poacher but has the ability to be a perfect foil for a decent striker alongside him.
    Hoyte got some stick yesterday, and it’s still a mystery to me why we insist on playing such a one footed player out of position. But if Jinky had supported his fullback in the opening half hour, we would have won it there and then.
    He didn’t, and gave yet another of those insipid displays he saves especially for the home fans. If time wasn’t so tight, we should have sold him and used the money to bring in three other players who will show the commitment and desire to bring us some steel week in week out. Yes he is a match winner on his day, but when he chooses.
    However, I agree that the new Boro is slowly emerging. Give Strachan the chance to build a team. I think he will get it right. Please lay off the insults. We had all that with previous managers, and its grown tiresome.

  13. For those of us who’ve been going for longer than is perhaps best for our own health, yesterday’s performance and the way the new team is shaping up reminds me of those typical Boro sides which have been prominent in the modern era.
    Charlton, Neal and Rioch all had resilient, no frills teams which were strong at the back and workmanlike, run-all-day but were not prolific scorers and have on occasion had clowns playing up front (Wood, Ashcroft,Kernaghan, and now Killen/Lita). The sort of team which mirrors the area it represents really.
    After 11 years in another reality and the failed Southgate experiment, is Strach now building a side which takes us back to normality? It would be nice to think that if we don’t manage to scrape up through the play-offs, we might go on next season to have something akin to 73/4 and storm the league, particularly if we’re joined by the likes of Pompey and Hull.

  14. LEE MILLER on way for £500 000. Another spud. Four from 22 games in a poor league. Just wot we need. Where is Best from Coventry? Is he too good? No more second rate jocks

  15. AV: A very fair summary of where we are. I detect a resuscitating flow of oxygen fanning the dully-glowing embers of hope amongst the local press corps!
    The reconstruction of the attendant fan base will take a long time however, because £30 to watch largely kick & run football, interspersed with rare flashes of genuine craft and a lot of huffing and puffing, albeit much of it genuine endeavour, but without end product in the form of goals, is NOT good value for money.
    This was my first match since the Blackpool turnover and although I agree with you, there are signs of passion and pride being restored to performances, the football quality isn’t quite there in enough positions in the squad, particularly up front, of course.
    I agree with you that Strachan is getting to grips with the issues and there are definite signs of him addressing them.
    And although he’s obviously well aware of where the major residual issue is, we’ve got just over 24 hours remaining to do something that has eluded us for three years!
    The fuse is a slow burner. But at least it may have finally been lit. However, it’s results that matter when bringing the punters back in.
    Oddly enough, I wasn’t entirely disheartened by the result, although I genuinely did expect Boro to win it outright.
    So, on balance, I agree with your well-balanced assessment, without going overboard about the immediate prospects. Let’s see how we feel in about 30 hours from now.

  16. Every Cloudfiles has a silver lining…
    Clean sheet, and the start of an unbeaten run. Impressive debut. As AV says, this could well have been another defeat.
    I see that Andrew Taylor could well be on his way out on loan. Another ex under 21 international who has failed to step up to senior level. We seem to produce plenty of youngsters that suddenley run into a brick wall when it comes to playing with the big boys. Perhaps the inability to run through this brick wall signals a quick departure in the managers book.

  17. So we are close to signing Miller from Aberdeen. If true the good news is that there is a direct flight to Teesside Airport (bugger this Mackem Valley name).
    If he is driving we have to hope he doesnt take a wrong turn at Edinburgh and go down the M6 in Wigan’s direction or stop off at Toon for a coffee.
    Just watched Danny Webber do what he does best, missed a real chance.
    **AV writes: I don’t think he’ll be driving….

  18. Please say the Lee Miller signing is a joke. Apart from his terrible goalscoring record both in England and most worryingly Scotland, £500,000 for a player who is out of contract in the summer and even when at his peak only cost £250,000 seems silly money. Why do Boro persist in signing non scoring strikers?
    Unfortunately as much as i like the idea of signing players who give their all every game, a striker is a different breed. They don’t need to run around like a headless chicken clattering into everything that moves they just need to be in the right place at the right time and put the ball in the net. Signing players with poor scoring records no matter what their attitude is like is not going to solve this problem.
    Look on wikipedia and you know Lee Miller will not get you goals, neither will Chris Killen, nor Caleb Folan or most of our other signings for that matter. Now I accept on paper some players look good and turn out to be duffers but I think that’s mainly down to bad scouting. Unfortunately if a player looks bad on paper it inevitably follows after a few games that there is a clear reason why they looked so poor on paper and very rarely do they prove you wrong.
    On a side note I think Strachan will get it right given time. However the fine line between success and failure may become a big,fat unsurmountable one if we can’t find a striker who can score goals.

  19. Neil In Canada,
    you are not quite correct in that I don’t like our manager, I actually want to like him. I have absolutely no problem with Gordon Strachan as an individual and indeed respect his outstanding playing career.
    That said his tenure with MFC has been nothing short of appalling, atrocious, poor, abysmal, dull, boring, substandard and totally and utterly unacceptable.
    He inherited a squad which wasn’t firing on all cylinders but in spite of the obvious frailties we were still only 1 point from the top, he came in and instead of us benefiting from the “new manager bounce” we nose dived at an alarming rate and he appeared absolutely powerless and clueless as to how to apply the brakes.
    Indeed since then even considering the two big wins (QPR and Donny) there is absolutely nothing to suggest continuity and/or a resurrection. There are a few hopeful signs but the reality is that we appear to be merely improving from the low that he himself took us to and as yet nowhere near the league position he inherited.
    Looking at his managerial record in England at Coventry and Southampton apart from an FA Cup final defeat it hardly sets the heather on fire. The Celtic fans I have spoken to (quite a few incidentally as my work takes me North of the Border on a regular basis) the general consensus I gleaned is who couldn’t do a half decent job taking over from Martin O’Neil.
    I incidentally think that this is a little unkind to him but when things got tough he did get going as they pointed out. Perhaps more interestingly he was far from a popular and unifying figure with the Parkhead faithful despite his three on the trot.
    Now as to whether I am doing myself a disservice or not (not unlike the man himself at numerous press conferences, indeed just ask a certain female Journo) if you can’t stand the heat keep out of the kitchen and I can certainly stand a bit of temperature and have done in my business over many years.
    I must admit though to finding it amusing and somewhat ironic that I am described as “Churlish” by yourself when Gordon Strachan is the topic. I will stop referring to him as “Stricken” when I see something tangible on the pitch which gives me the merest hint that he indeed is not “Stricken” and playing Hoyte at LB and then subbing him with Arca (what a rapturous Riverside applause that got!) only confirms my worst suspicions.
    I am not convinced that what I am witnessing is for the long term good of Boro but have openly and in a fair and balanced way gave praise to Robson, Killen and high praise to Flood; all his appointments!
    I would dearly love to embrace him and welcome him into the Boro fold but his demeanour upon his arrival allied to the freefall I have witnessed since tells me otherwise.
    Regarding me doing a disservice to AV’s Blog I would suggest that if the blog was full of individuals high on the toxic fumes of foam it would be a very dull and boring place to visit and more to the point the “negative” and “half empty” posters on here historically were sadly proved right during GSI’s reign. On a positive note I do fully agree with your point about FMTTM and consequently do not read or visit it.
    I am one of the remaining 12,500 (or nearly 18,000 depending upon your level of “Blind” Faith) who turned up yesterday and cheered the team on. Who jeered and abused the gentleman in the middle by calling him a lot worse than “Stricken” believe me.
    The big worry is that if I feel the way I do and see what I can see without the aid of any tinted spectacles be they Rose or any other shade then what did the missing 10,000 see and think and more importantly how many of the remaining 12/18K think the same? Believe me at the Swansea game things were starting to turn unpleasant in the North Stand until Willo’s fluke and I was one of the one’s sat in abject silence!
    Just to finish off I was in no way offended Neil and genuinely welcome the debate and I will gladly start showing GSII some respect when he stops square pegging and simultaneously starts delivering what he gets paid admirably for. In other words start looking more like “Strachan than Stricken”.

  20. And SSN reports an “increased Man City offer for Middlesbrough’s Adam Johnson”. No inkling (yet) how much, though….
    And if we had nothing else to do, there is always the possibility tomorrow of spending the evening in front of SSN and the laptop, watching the comings and goings (and hoping there are more of the former).
    Just imagine, a Boro goalie in his mid-twenties, clearly good enough for the Premier League being signed by a top tier club, thus providing us with a few millions to use to liven up the squad……sorry I had to duck as a low flying pig just cleared the garden gate.
    Don’t you just love it?

  21. A good performance by Boro. Pity we were reduced to 10 men so early. Nice to some positive comment to arrive (Also by AV!). Of course we would have (again) deserved more.
    Hope Johnno stays put as well as striker singing for us. But the January window is tricky! So all the best for GS2 today!
    Up the Boro!

  22. So it’s deadline day and we still seem to be a few players short to enable any playoff push to end sucessfully.
    The Bristol game seems to have once again highlighted that Boro will drop winnable points unless they get a proven goal scorer – though whether a run-of-the-mill forward from Aberdeen is the solution is debatable.
    I’m not sure what happened to the Powls prospect Leon Best but at least we are not in for former target Danny Webber – his prowess in front of goal was so unfortunately demonstrated against Man City yesterday (he fell over the ball when faced with an open goal).
    There’s also the prospect of losing Johnson at the last minute with no time left on the clock to spend the money – however, there are suggestions that Strachan is interested in another former Celtic player in Japanese left-footer Nakamura – though he’s now 32 with a potential injury problem and currently warming the bench at Espanyol. Having said that, he did score a hat-trick last year.
    I imagine around £7.5m will be enough to secure Johnson – we should remember that he’s now 22 and while he may occasionally look impressive in the Championship he was less effective in the PL – At the moment it’s all about potential but he’s still not as good or as consistent as Downing was at the same age.
    So the profile of the Boro target has become quite narrow: ideally they’ll have played for Gordon at Celtic – though players from any of his former clubs will be taken into consideration – being scottish is an advantage.

  23. The times reports that Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers have also expressed interest in Adam Johnson.
    “Middlesbrough bid £500,000 for Lee Miller, the Aberdeen striker, yesterday and have submitted an improved offer for Charlie Adam, the Blackpool midfield player, having had a £1.5 million bid turned down.”
    I think Johnno will stay to see all his options next Summer. And if we finally get a replacement for Rochenback (Adam) and sign a good goal getter (Miller/McDonald) then we should be fine. At least fot the play offs.
    Up the Boro!

  24. A good solid Boro performance on Saturday. If anything we got better when we went down to 10 men. We can all see what the problem is, maybe MacDonald could solve it but the harder task of forging a team spirit, style of play and never say die attitude are now there for all to see.
    Devoto in the midfield has made a real impact, I now feel much more positive about the team and our progression. I am a bit disappointed with some of the negative comments on here today but hey that’s free speech.
    Just to try and keep it balanced I think Bristol City’s performance was one of the worst seen at the Riverside since Charlton in their relegation season. Oh and the ref was great entertainment. Two drop balls in one game, superb!

  25. AV
    I note that there is a live blog on the window via Evening Chronicle, any chance we can just use this as our medium as one suspects the other will just be a medium for fans to insult fans from other teams.
    Forever Dormo
    I believe the evening in front of the laptop will be wasted time as our window shuts at 5.00pm though someone posted that in Scotland it is midnight.
    One for AV to clarify if possible.
    **AV writes: If you refresh there should be a new Deadline Day Live Blog on here. The other one is a group wide thing hosted by Newcastle where all over papers feed the latest news so if you want to know all the ins-and-outs at Coventry and Huddersfield, that’s the place for you.

  26. David Connor,
    I disagree; I think home fans DO have something to look forward too. I think we look a good unit. We didn’t look troubled even when we went down to 10 men. I know scoring goals is maybe the most important part of football, but if we keep making that many chances then even our current crop of forwards will start to take them. Throw in an experienced goal getter and we could be moving.
    My Scottish sources say Miller is a waste of time but MacDonald would get double figures for us between now and the end of the season. Charlie Adam at Blackpool would also be a good addition. We may have left it a little late for Automatic, but a play off push now looks credible.
    Come on Boro.

  27. Quote”Charlton, Neal and Rioch all had resilient, no frills teams which were strong at the back and workmanlike, run-all-day but were not prolific scorers”
    Under Charlton/Neal what about Hickton 159 goals 418 appearances and Foggon 25 in 115? And dare I mentintion The Wolfman under Rioch Slaven bagged alot of his 146 goals.All these averaged around 1:3 goal per game. Slaven nearer 1:2!
    Can’t agree Mr Pirate!

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