Boro Warnocked Into Touch

BORO weren’t out-classed by QPR said Mogga. Maybe not, but they were ground down relentlessly by an archetypal Warnock side: physical, functional and effective.

In every department they were more efficient, better drilled, more athletic. They have the correct component parts in all the right places. They have a rock solid defence built around two seasoned giant centre-backs, a industrious midfield and pace going forward to supply an identikit Championship striker who is nothing special but ticks all the right boxes. He can hold it up, he’s good in the air, has a decent shot, is brave and direct.
That’s why they are where they are, at the top of a poor league. They are a well assembled team, fit for purpose, engineered from generic parts with an end in mind.
Boro attacks were quickly snuffed out or the crosses – aimed at half-pint hitmen – were just headed away by Rangers towering stoppers. In the middle Boro were allowed to pass square but forward movement was quickly closed down. And at the back, Boro’s inexperienced defence was pulled all over by the width and movement of Taarabt and Faurlin and as the game wore on looked ever more chaotic and harrassed as the pressure steadily built and the wobbles set in.
There was little between the teams at the break: Boro had failed to take their one real chance after 60 seconds when Scott McDonald broke clear but couldn’t punish an error from a poor keeper’s clearance while Rangers had put the best of their opportunities away but only thanks to a lucky deflection.
But Boro at that point had been going flat out to just keep in touch and once QPR ruthlessly stepped up a gear after the break, a misfiring side couldn’t stay with the pace and as the cracks started to appear, the visitors pulled away without breaking sweat.
Boro had too many weak links, especially in midfield. Julio Arca, Andrew Taylor and Marvin Emnes failed to use the ball effectively and conceded possession too easily and too often leaving Nicky Bailey to fire-fight single-handedly behind them.
While QPR had to work hard to impose themselves enough to force the opener, having eased past Boro’s glass ceiling, the second goal was embarrasingly simple, a routine unchallenged close range header from a standard cross delivered after Wayne Routledge had skinned Tony McMahon nonchalently. They wrapped it up with a penalty after our Moroccan made a clumsy challenge on their’s. Boro’s had a flurry of blunt activity after the event – McMahon’s free-kick towards the far top corner brought a good save while McDonald lashed wide from a tight angle – but it was too little, too late.
Rangers weren’t technically the best team we’ve seen this season (Swansea pass the ball far better and play more cultured football) but they are incredibly well drilled. Their front four are fast and have excellent movement and Taarabt and Routledge can beat a man and deliver the ball for bog standard but efficient Heidar Helguson to bang home, while they have two man moutains at the back who win everything in the air and an effective defensive unit who push up quickly to hold a high line that is very difficult to get behind. They are everything we are not. And they do everything that we struggle with.
If Boro are to think about a promotion push next year they will have to import some of those qualities. Home grown youth and an emphasis on touch and passing is great but it will need to be beefed up with an experienced battle scarred monster at the back, an imposing striker who can bully defences and a few athletic, hard working midfielders who can snuff more creative teams out and grind down the ones who come to battle.
But, then again, we know that. That’s why QPR are at the top and we are scratching around for precious points to stay above the drop zone.
Here’s a few observations:
**Typical Boro… having spent a week bigging up Andrew Davies for his all action one man defensive whirlwind at Millwall it was almost inevitable he would get crocked. He has got form with injuries. It looks like a hammy but hasn’t been assessed fully yet so we don’t know the length he will be out. It leaves Boro with a very shaky, fragile and untested defence. And it shows how thin the squad is that the absence of a bloke who only signed last week is seen as a hammerblow.
Now we have big problems at the back. Jonathan Grounds is the most experienced of those left with 58 career starts but appears to have slipped down the pecking order (he was roasted at Millwall). He was only on the bench today behind Seb Hines (16 career starts) and stayed there after Davies was crocked with Maxi Haas – earlier this week said to be well short of being fully acclimatised – being thrown on ahead of him. It will be a long, tough, tense night against Forest.
**Margins… It was the first time since Tony Mowbray arrived in October that Boro have lost by more than one goal. The first real Strachanesque gubbing. Given the limitations of a brittle squad (with added injuries and January exits) the results have been far better than may have been the case but for Mogga’s shrew tactical tinkering.
**All change… it was claimed in the ground before the game it is now 143 games since Boro fielded an unchanged side. That would be incredible if true. That would be three seasons of shifting sands and unsettled sides constantly in flux. And to be fair, it feels like that. It is impossible to build anything against that background. Whatever the figure, Boro have been chopping and changing for an age. The sooner the boss can get his own squad and settle on a first choice XI and (barring injuries and bans) try to get it out on a regular basis, the sooner we will get out of the current malaise.
>>>update: I’ve checked that stat now and is nowhere near as bad. It is one unchanged side in 73 – that one 41 games ago.
**Dead Men Walking… the bottom three all lost so Boro’s slip hasn’t been too costly. The gap below Boro remains five points. But Derby and Bristol City both beat one of the basement boys while Doncaster and Coventry both picked up points. A gap is opening above us again. That leaves us still vulnerable and the one they will all be aiming it.
**Wicked deflection… how many goals have Boro leaked now from deflections? It seems every week the opposition breakthrough starts with a clip off a defender’s knee or shin or back or bum. Either a deflection or a penalty. Sometimes both. Ironically today it came off Davies and went in… last week twice the blew flew off him randomly and dipped just over the bar and he was a hero. Them’s the breaks.


66 thoughts on “Boro Warnocked Into Touch

  1. The Championship (like any league) is mostly about matching tactics to players and adding consistency. Boro (like many in the Championship) clearly have some way to go and while Swansea might have impressed you, 0-0 in Wales and 4-0 at Loftus Road indicates some level of fallibility?
    **AV writes: Absolutely. Swansea may be “the best” team but they will struggle to get through the play-offs because they will be roughed up by Forest/Leicester et al. This league is not about good football, it is about ruthless efficiency.

  2. Is Crockliffe a jibe – yes. Is it cheap – there’s nothing cheap and everything very costly about the amount and type of injuries Boro have, their repeat nature and how many of them are incurred in training. That’s no myth.
    Like Ian, my concern isn’t other teams but I think you’d be hard put to find another side with the damage done to their prospects by the amount, nature and treatment of injuries. And if you’ve got a small squad, then surely all the more need to manage their fitness effectively.
    There’s a difference between having ‘state of the art facilities’ and knowing how to use them.
    If you can prove a case by its opposite, I cite in evidence Dave Parnaby and The Academy.

  3. QPR etc is spot on. Swansea play some great stuff but at the end of the day I see my arch nemesis piping them to 2nd spot.
    There has to be a balance, but the ‘One size and Out house’ centre back pairing at QPR is just what is needed in this division.
    If we had those two playing for us we would have sailed through stoppage time at Elland Road, The Keepmoat, The Liberty, The Ricoh, and at home to Preston, Swansea and Portsmouth.
    Just think how adding a little more practicality to the team would have reaped many more points.
    It also highlights some of the naff names football grounds have these days. What ever happened to the @sportsdirect St James Super dome?
    Hopefully Mogga’s plans for world domination by total football has included a plan B of a couple of big bruisers for next year. One at the back and one up front is a minimum.
    As for tonight, well we are playing a better team than ourselves. A team that can get a little physical if needed. A team that has a great record against us. What can we put up against this? Well there’s always hope in a ‘Typical Boro’ type result and that Kris Boyd is due a goal or two

    I’m not confident.

  4. Matt, okay fine you can name precisely two from the last 10 years?
    Out of Boro and Stoke fans I know who’s enjoying supporting their club the most right now. Another full house at the Britannia stadium last night as well.

  5. Re: the chosen 8.
    I’m sure Bates would be towards the top of that list… only problem is I can’t see us keeping him in the summer. So we could be down to seven and counting.

  6. For every major injury like a leg break or cruciate ligament damage there is another player skiving for three weeks or more with a “bruised toe”.
    There were far less injuries years ago for another reason. Then players’ pay included a sizeable appearance portion – no play no pay. They also included a sizeable pay for performance in the shape of win bonuses.
    None of that now. Players get 100% of their money whether they play or not and if they do play they get don’t suffer if they dont feel like it making the effort one day.
    Its happening all round the game not just here. Its rare to find a player who makes more than 30 appearances a season these days.
    How many doses of flu did Boksic have in a season? Many clubs tried to sign Ole-Gunner Solsaer off Man united so he could play week in week out but he wasnt interested. Why should he when he earnt a very fat salary for 20 minutes a month which was his typical playing time.

  7. The recent Mogga interview about Haas makes it even more difficult to see why he was signed in the first place – regardless of whether we also signed a ‘proper’ centre half.
    The interview speaks of reviewing the situation in the summer to see if he should be given a contract extension.
    But, isn’t he already on an eighteen month contract – so aren’t we stuck with him for next season anyway, even if it doesn’t work out?
    And wasn’t it the case that Mogga had been supposed to have been following the lad since the manager’s West Brom days? And he’s only just found out – as an ex-centre back of the required sort himself – that Haas is too femmer for The Championship?
    Very curious.

  8. John Dobson
    The same goes for cricket. We hear about the pressures on modern players and the demands on their fitness.
    I am sure there is more strain on them because the athleticism they have to display compared to players in the past.
    They travelled the length and breadth of the country by car and a typical seven days would be at Lords Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Drive up to Scarborough for a Friday start playing Saturday and Monday in the County Championship and on the Sabbath play a one day match.
    Different demands, not so athletic but tons of stamina.
    I am sure it is the same in many sports.
    Anyway, all Derby fans are supporting Boro tonight and many a Tricky Tree is bothered about typical Boro.
    It will be a tough ask for us to get something out of the game, the stats are frightening with only one win in many a long year.
    It really is time for points from unexpected sources.

  9. My son said to me on Saturday ‘this lot (QPR) will get slaughtered in the Premiership’. Which highlights the problem Championship teams face.
    QPR are without doubt the best Championship side, ruthless and effective. However when they get promoted they’ll need a new defence otherwise they’ll be ripped apart by the fast, mobile, skillful Premiership strikers. It just highlights the difficulty of building a side that can get promoted from the Championship and be capable of surviving in the Premiership.
    Isn’t it the case that injuries only become the focus of debate when a team is struggling?
    I’ve never really understood the accusation that Boro are incompetent at injury management. Where is the logic in believing every Boro manager since Robbo has been incapable of managing injuries where as every other team are good at it (by implication)?
    How many times have the medical staff changed in the last ten years? Surely we dont believe that all the medical staff employed have been incapable of carrying out the role they’re employed to fulfill? The arguement simply doesnt make sense.

  10. Nervous, very nervous.
    Could all these recent late blips be about to right themselves with the flukiest, most wickedly deflected goal, that was scored so late it came in the early hours of Wednesday morning, winner for the Boro??
    Please, please, please.
    Come on Boro!!!

  11. Back at Crockliffe I’m with John and Ian (probably awaiting some form of treatment!).
    I’m not concerned about other teams but the damage Crockliffe seems to inflict on ours. There seem to be far too many cases of mis-diagnosis, ill conceived treatment or rushing a players rehab only for him to break down again.
    Ian and I both quoted a number of examples where Crockliffe intervention seeme to make matters worse not better – scoring medical own goals, if you like.
    I was hoping that Boro’s medical ‘services’ would form part of the root and branch review that Gibson promised after relegation. If I were Gibbo I would want to know why my investments weren’t being treated with more care (if you’ll pardon the pun).

  12. Nigel Reeve
    …..and yet, the two previous Boro managers (Gate & Stricken) have both announced, shortly after taking post, that they were going to review and change the whole of the fitness and conditioning regimes and the injury management because they weren’t satisfactory and were costing Boro far too much player downtime as well as meaning they weren’t fit enough to last through games.
    If there wasn’t a problem, why would they have done that?
    That’s also bearing in mind that Gate had been a player immediately before he took up his post and therefore personally subject to whatever he was being critical of.
    I don’t know what happened in those alleged ‘root and branch’ reviews – except what was evident in Stricken bringing in that ‘world’s expert’ on particular training techniques and in a couple of the staff being moved on – but the core has been retained, I believe.
    All that one can judge by is what one sees. The ‘injuries’ list on the MFC website and the latest Mogga comments from the same source about the latest additions to the list are instructive in all sorts of ways.
    Whatever was intended, the reviews have not wrought any improvement and, indeed, things this season seem to have have been particularly difficult both in number and duration of injuries.
    What do you put that down to?

  13. Stop!!!
    All this guff about can they play two games a week, they have got a bruised toe or sore ankle. It is a game of football, get on with it! It’s a game, not an SAS endurance course. What a bunch of Nancy boys!
    Tony MacAndrew would laugh his socks off at them.

  14. AV said:
    “The problem at Boro is exaggerated because of the lack of depth in the squad. We have a crisis not because we have two defenders injured – one bad one, one routine one, both impact injuries and nothing to do with any mystic dark power at the training ground- but because we have literally no cover”
    I started the debate of injuries here. We have a lot of them currently but I must agree with you that our squad is thin on experience. You are spot on – again.
    Up the Boro!

  15. The Beep report:
    “Aston Villa are looking to reduce their wage bill after revealing losses of £37.6m for the year ending 31 May 2010.
    Wages at the club increased by £9m to almost £80m and now account for 88% of Villa’s £90m turnover, which actually increased last season by £6m.”
    Don’t they ever learn? Villa will be in the C’hip in a couple of years. Crazy.
    Up the Boro!

  16. GHW –
    Thommo kept coming back and playing and was called a softie even though it transpired he had a broken leg. Tony McMahon played in pain until it was realised he had a broken foot. I think we can excuse those two from any criticism.
    And the Flood guy stopped playing just because his knee fell apart.
    But I get the drift.

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