WELL it’s one to remember. Baltic Boro battled from behind twice in surreal conditions: a blizzard before the game left the pitch an Arctic tundra and the pitch markings barely visible – especially when the flurries started again – yet Hull wore a white kit and the ball was an off yellow/natural hessian fetching neutral shade instead of the traditional orange for a snow-bound match. It was crazy.
The conditions were horrendous. Right from kick-off the ball slithered and spun and stuck in drifts while players were slipping and sliding and doing that You’ve Been Framed shuffle. I never expected to kick-off and certainly didn’t expect it to finish but I’m glad it went ahead as it was great sub-zero entertainment. End to end, error strewn, high-tempo, industrious, plenty of chaotic slippy scrambles and some great spirit as Boro twice came from behind with excellent headers. It could only have been more fun if the players and occasionally stopped to have snowball fights.
Continue reading All White On The Night
FIVE games in, Tony Mowbray admits he is still no nearer to finding a winning formula.
The boss has mixed up his permutations of personnel, tinkered with tactics and tempos and shuffled shapes and styles as he looks for a convincing combination of qualities that will produce a transformation of an unbalanced squad into a coherent unit.
But the dug-out alchemist will struggle to turn the base metal of this Boro squad into gold.
Or at least, to do it quickly with such a limited selection of elements to work with.
Continue reading Tough Turning Boro Base Metal Into Gold
DISMAL, demoralised and disjointed. The Spirit of 86? I don’t think so. That was an alarmingly empty display. Boro are neck deep in the brown stuff but showed no fight whatsoever. No imagination, no zest, no teeth, no fight. After some small signs of gradual incremental improvement under Tony Mowbray this was a big step backwards and it was deeply worrying.
If he didn’t already Tony Mowbray certainly knows now he is in a relegation fight now. The early Moggamania feelgood factor boosted back-to-back wins over Palace and then at Scunthorpe and helped claw the team away from the drop-zone but that has fizzled out quickly. Barely a trace remains of the optimism from a fortnight ago.
Successive defeats have pushed us right back into the basement and looking vulnerable. The display against Millwall was as bad as anything we’ve seen this season.
Continue reading Spirit Drained In Dismal Display
FOR SALE: assortment of footballers. Bit of a mixed bag. Will split. Ideal for spares or repair. No reasonable offer refused.
One dimensional Boro are a poor side stuck knee-deep in the Championship relegation quagmire and they are desperate for fresh blood. But with no money in the pot Boro will have to sell before they buy – and effectively EVERYONE is up for grabs.
Continue reading Stick or Twist: Mogga’s Window Pain
TWO steps forward, one step back…
Let’s not mince words: Boro were battered at Swansea.
After good back-to-back wins that showed concrete signs of progress in all departments – passing, shooting, a clean sheet, some goals – and a more positive outlook on and off the field, they slipped back and were systematically dismantled by a far better side. The kind of side in fact that Tony Mowbray wants Boro to be.
Continue reading Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
BATTLING BORO took another small step away from the yawning abyss with a battling display at Scunthorpe that ticked a few more boxes.
The gritty 2-0 triumph was fantastic for morale and shored up the team’s still rocky position in the league table. But don’t go booking your hotel room for the play-off final just yet. There is still a very long way to go in this painful process of rehabilitation.
The victory at Scunthorpe looks great on paper but on the pitch it was far from pretty.
It was built on a scrappy rear-guard action and a furious midfield war of attrition and revolved around a couple of superb defensive displays, not least a shot-stopping masterclass from Jason Steele.
Continue reading Box-Ticking Boro’s Red Pen Revival
LAST TIME we went to Scunthorpe was a lifetime ago. It was the second week of the season, it was shirt sleeve order and we were bubbling with August optimism. The Berlin Wall and Redcar Rock looked impregnable, Jinky was sprinkling magic in his trail and Tuncay was warming up ready for his devasting cameos. Emnes and Aliadiere were ripping defences apart with their pace before falling over and the consensus was that if we could keep the quality in the squad together then we were a shoo-in for promotion and we could swagger through these little grounds in a patronising and arrogant Premier League Billy Big Balls on tour season of partying. Oh dear.
Continue reading Scunthorpe: A Lifetime Ago
BOOED off at half-time, standing ovation at the whistle. Boro battled back from behind to clock up a precious first win under Tony Mowbray as the Riverside rocket rumbled a bit and belched smoke and prepared for blast-off.
A shapeless and toothless first half marked mainly by wayward passing and a goal gifted to the vistors (Scott McDonald… what was that back-heel about?) and two scrappy deflected goals against the worst side in the division is hardly the stuff of street parties. But you make your own luck in this game: Boro forced Palace into mistakes in their box with relentless pressure, getting balls and bodies into the box and – shock! – getting behind their defence to the by-line to cut the ball back into the dangerzone.
It was far from a polished performance (and the stodgy first half without O’Neil and Robson hinted at what a bleak future we could be facing if things go wrong) but it was a spirited one. In the second half Boro played with zest and width and pace and put the ball in the box from testing angles with bewildering regularity. The substitions changed the shape and tempo, especially the introduction of a hungry looking Lita. And the changes worked. It is not exactly a brave new era – we are still in the relegation zone – but it stopped the rot, it was a massive boost for confidence and it kick-started the dormant crowd. As well as relief there was belief suddenly surging around the stadium.
Plus… full-backs on both sides given a licence to get forward, a bonus… and how good was Tony McMahon in the second half? A metronomic display of dynamic over-lapping, a string of good crosses and the bare-faced cheek to claim the winning goal, a clear cut an oggie as you will see this season. And when was the last time a Boro manager made brave tactical and personnel changes early enough to actually change the game? Will Tarmo Kink have Boro’s best ever goals/minutes ratio? And a few deflections and bounces went in our favour for once. Fantastic. How big is your smile tonight?
MOGGA’s moonshot was left spluttering on the launch pad with a disappointing defeat and what on the face of it was a bit of a flop at the turnstiles.
After days of a sentimental button pushing and multi-media hype (mea culpa) plus a buzzing Boro groundswell of excitement at the touch down of our long lost lunar leader – and a 24 page supplement and FREE Mogga mask in the Gazette! – a cautious crowd of just 19,039 was far from the stratospheric gate the club would have wanted. Far from crushing all in its path, the Messianic Mogganaut inched slowly into the Riverside.
Continue reading Mogga-Gate: Number-Crunching The Crowd At Bristol City Blast-off