Festive Four Fixtures Can Help Ho-Ho-Hopen The Boro Biscuit Tin

THE NEXT four games are pivotal for Boro’s season.
Yes, I know, it seems that we say that every week or two with the sombre tomes of the stern unheeded warnings of an “End is Nigh” Biblical sect. We have battled through stern examinations of our play-off credentials, a series of Titanic games that are all the biggest test so far and watershed moments have whizzed past with dizzying regularity
But this time, it may just be true. How Boro do in the festive fixtures could have a massive agenda setting impact on exactly how the rest of the campaign pans out.

Boro face a tough trip to third placed Cardiff on Saturday then have back-to-back home games against high-flying Hull and unpredictable but goal crazy Peterborough and then go first footing at resurgent Blackpool on January 2nd.
Obviously the points return will help determine whether we are seen as serious contenders and whether or not the schedulers nudge us up the running order on the Football League Show. Anytime before midnight would be nice lads.
It may well also have a positive impact on the gate. An inspirational win away at Cardiff could scupper the sceptic and galvanise a gung-ho optimism, get the Mogganaut rolling again and the town buzzing enough to persuade the economic expats back at their Mam’s for a few days to don their Christmas jumpers and take in a couple of games.
myc001_Reggie_Reindeer_Christmas_Jumper_1.jpgThere will be the half-season ticket dividend kicking in as people get the present they really always wanted (“did you keep the receipt?”) and maybe some younger waverers will opt to spend their cash bonanza from aunties who didn’t know what to get on scrambling aboard the Boro bandwagon. What else are they going to do with a big wad of cash. Kids have got everything already. They don’t know the’re born. Apparently.
Perhaps more importantly, where Boro sit in the table going into the New Year could have a distinct bearing on exactly how much is rattling around in Mogga’s Rockcliffe biscuit tin when the transfer window opens again.
For all the fiscal discipline and prudent book-balancing at a club still weighed down by the legacy of the bloated years of the Premier League, the big-wigs at the club are fans and acutely aware of the limitations of a small squad.
They, like us, know exactly what Mogga needs to add options, especially up front.
If Boro were two points off the automatic promotion spots going into the New Year the adrenaline would be surging, the hopes and dreams would be starting to bubble through the protective layers of cynicism and a light-headed optimism would take hold.
The chairman, who has been running a tight and prudent ship through a choppy ocean of austerity may be persuaded to change course a little bit and gamble on catching a fair wind that can take us billowing back to the big time.
There may never be a better chance to get promoted than this year. Generally in football there is never a better time than now. That time honoured truism has been reinforced by the top flight’s moves to pull up the ladder. The parachute money has been almost doubled from this year and extended to four years so anyone who comes down now is relatively insulated from the financial shock. They will be more able to maintain a Premier League squad and under less compulsion to launch into a frantic fire sale. For the rest it will get harder and harder to compete. It could be now or never for Boro.
lukas.jpgSo a good run of results now could mean a sudden seismic shift in Boro’s favour in the table and could increase Gibbo’s willingness to squeeze out an extra few bob. We know that there was “around” £1m available for Lukas Jutkiewisc on deadline day. Crowds have not swelled Boro’s coffers but costs have been controlled tightly and we must assume that is still there for the right man. Maybe, just maybe, a bit more would be found if Boro were, say, one point and a few goals and creativity from the automatic spots.
Everyone: close your eyes and concentrate on sending out the collective psychic message: “Gibbo, we are only a striker and wideman away. Give Mogga some money.”
Of course it is not just down to what we do. Mogga and the players may insist in every interview that they don’t even look at the table yet or take any notice whatsoever of the other teams’ forms and fixtures but I do. We all do. Incessantly. Quantifying, calculating, balancing the shifting probabilities with new weightings every week as each result, trend in form and but of injury news is factored in.
Sadly, some of us may even have the BBC Championship predictor as our home page!
So what can we expect in the next four games. And what can we expect from our “promotion rivals” – there I’ve said it. We are jinxed now.
Boro’s festive foursome start with a the toughest possible test as Cardiff are top of the form table. Over the last eight games Andrew Taylor’s Dragon Botherers have taken 18 points from 25 winning five and drawing three. Not bad.
Ominously they have only leaked three goals in that sizzling sequence too although they have only scored 11. As Boro have the tightest defence in the Championship – they have leaked only 17 in 21 games – so no doubt the bookies have it down as a goalless draw. I’d take that right now.
Cue seven goal thriller
Then comes Hull on Boxing Day. They are “flying” under historically tainted boo boy target Nick Barmby and are now just two points behind Boro after three wins in a row and yes, it will be difficult as most games in this division are – but, to be honest, I’m not quaking in my boots.
Peterborough is a more generous fixture. After a good run Posh are fading. They are fourth bottom of the form table with just six points from 24 and although their eight games have featured a net-busting 31 goals they have only managed one win.
Gulp. Typical Boro looming? No, I don’t think so. If Boro have any serious ambitions of promotion – and being well placed in the window – that is a game that realistically must be won. We owe them one after battering them for 70 minutes then letting them wriggle off the hook last month.
Then Blackpool away on January. Blackpool are on of the most unpredictable sides in a crazy division and they are better at home than away but we were a far better team in the 2-2 and we owe them one after battering… stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
That’s Boro’s festive fixtures. Eight points from that lot would be an excellent return.
And to be honest I’d be happy with six if that included status quo stabilising draw with Cardiff and at least one morale-boosting home win.
So what about our top of the table rivals’ prospects in their seasonal showdowns?
Southampton – who are showing little signs of vertigo – face a tricky run with games at Portsmouth, who have won three out of four at home, at home to Palace and then Bristol City who beat them convincingly a few weeks ago, then in the New Year they go to Brighton for what is sure to be a simmering derby clash.
West Ham have what looks on paper the easiest run. After a home game with upwardly mobile Barnsley they face three teams in the bottom half of the form table including rock bottom Coventry and dawdling Derby. You would expect them to finish that run as Championship table-toppers.
Cardiff have a potentially rocky run of games. They start with Boro, travel to Watford who are fourth in the form table having lost just one in eight then they go to iffy Forest and host Reading, just outside the play-off places and who have just beaten West Ham.
Watch out for Hull. As well as Boro they play Millwall, Burnley and Derby, all in the bottom half of the form table. But if we can dent them and take the steam out of them it will help reduce that threat.
Unpredictable Leeds’ biggest test could be the derby trip to in-form Barnsley but Reading at home could also be tricky. Brighton have a tough trip to Reading and take on the Saints but also have troubled relegation bound Coventry. And Blackpool, not far adrift, take on form table dark horses Watford and Barnsley plus Birmingham before Boro.
So as well as Boro’s form the shape of the New Year table is going to come down to other teams – especially Barnsley who play three of our rivals.
Here’s the fixtures for the top eight. How many points will we get? How will it look come the New Year? Who will fade? Who will barge into contention?
Dec 30 – H BRISTOL C
Dec 31 – A DERBY
Dec 17 – H BORO
Dec 26 – A WATFORD
Dec 31 – A FOREST
Dec 17 – A CARDIFF
Dec 26 – H HULL
Dec 26 – A BORO
Dec 31 – H BURNLEY
Jan 2 – H DERBY
Dec 17 – H READING
Dec 26 – A DERBY
Dec 17 – H BURNLEY
Dec 26 – A READING
Dec 17 – H WATFORD
Jan 2 – H BORO


44 thoughts on “Festive Four Fixtures Can Help Ho-Ho-Hopen The Boro Biscuit Tin

  1. AV, can we still get loan players from the Premier League in the January window? If so here is a possible scenario for SG.
    There would be approx 20 weeks of the season left, if the average wage in the Prem is approx £50,000 a week, two players ie, a striker and an attacking/creative midfielder would come in at around £2m.(if my maths is correct).
    If we are successful in gaining promotion it would be money well spent. If not we could return the players to their respective clubs and not be saddled with two players on a long contract with high wages.
    As you say, the Prem will soon become a closed shop, I reckon now is the time to gamble, what say you Steve?

  2. I thought Hull’s fixtures stood out as being the easiest of the lot, but they play Burnley away, not at home, which makes it a bit trickier.
    Had a quick play with the fixtures above and came up with
    So’ton 50
    West Ham 47
    Cardiff 46
    Boro 45
    Hull 43
    Leeds 40
    Blackpool 38
    Brighton 35
    Not much change really! Seven points is par for us I’d say, avoiding defeat at Cardiff would be massive.

  3. GHW –
    Time to gamble? The problem with the loan players is if they are good enough.
    Potential is no good, we have seen that with Nimely. City let us have him to try and improve him with game time, he wasnt up to being a starter.
    We need players who will add to what we have. Daft though it sounds we need someone like Parkin who makes things happen, someone that changes the pattern of play and gives defenders something different to worry about.
    We have good young prospects that are not being given a chance. The likes of Park and Haliday provide something different to who is in the first team.
    Kink offers something different but is not getting a chance.
    There is no point bring someone in just to sit on the bench as we approach the seventy minute mark after the opposition got back in to the game and put us on the back foot. It is too late.
    I stick by my view that we would have had more points with judicious use of subs. Having Ogbeche and Nimely on the bench was pointless.
    The best use of subs was in the match against Brum when Haroun came on just after half time and Martin about half way through the second half. The changes were much earlier than Mogga normally uses them but we were trailing.
    Since then the bench has been clogged with Obgeche and Nimely and has often been unbalanced.
    If we are going to bring players in they have to be used or they become like those gadgets purveyed by K-tel and Ronco that look useful until you get them. They gather dust then are put into the car boot sale.
    A message to Gibbo, don’t spend money on players unless they will be used.
    Here is a really sad question. Would Lee Millers presence have been any less effective than the two we brought in? Think about it before you label me an idiot – it isn’t meant as praise of Miller.
    The players we have should get us in to the play offs, they are largely the same people who finished last season so well and have continued in this. The top six have largely unchanged teams.
    I would love a striker and a wing man but not to spread their bums for 90+ minutes each week. We havent played what we have!
    I am one of those who thinks we deserve to be where we are, 21 games this season and a dozen or so last confirm it.
    Hines, Park, Smallwood, Kink, Haliday, Mains, Reach etc. If they are not good enough to get on the bench then get them off the wage bill.

  4. Ian, I was thinking more along the lines of players like Bednar at WBA and Macheda and Gibson at Man Utd. I’m not saying these particular individuals would come, but there must be plenty of experienced Prem players out there.
    As you say we already have plenty of young talent doing nothing. I remember (in our case it was Bobby Murdoch,and more lately Bryan Robson) that it used to be fashionable to bring in experience from the top clubs to help teams get promoted.

  5. Sorry guys – bad news: I’ve just ordered five tickets for the Blackpool game (it’s not easy being exiled over here in Lanky, Lanky,Lanky, Lanky, Lankyshire). My neighbours are Seasiders so I’m expecting a lot of grief if we lose.
    Now that the chances of us winning have just about disappeared we need some points from the other games.
    I’ll be there on #borolive for the others (Disco4B – #matchanagrams a speciality)
    **AV writes: Everyone needs a party trick.

  6. Avoid defeat at Cardiff….Pah!! They haven’t lost in eight, clearly this is an away win banker….
    I predict 10 points from 12.

  7. GHW –
    Macheda or Bednar would do me. The only problem I could see would be Bennett being subbed, Hoyte going to left back and Bednar playing right wing back. After 89 minutes of course.
    Nigel –
    Points from unexpected sources will do nicely.

  8. AV, could you please send Eric or someone out to Rockcliff and please ask the situation concerning Emnes’ injury? I know Boro might want to keep it a secret about his chances of playing at Cardiff, but we – fans – need to know. As tim from sa said above.
    Up the Boro!

  9. AV, The gazette seems to be ignoring Tony Mogbray winning BBC North East Sports Personality of the Year for 2011. Have I missed it?
    **AV writes: Was it last week? I was off and missed the paper a few days at the back end so I may have missed it. Was it in the news pages? I doubt we would ignore it.

  10. Peterborough have drawn their last two away games at Birminghan and Leicester. Your comments are misleading. I hope the club are less complacent.
    I was at Leicester on Saturday on a corporate freebie. Leicester should have been out of sight in the first half, but could have lost the game in the second half.
    Lewis played in goal on Saturday for Posh. Great shot stopper, but a liability and nightmare at crosses. If he plays against Boro this weakness must be exploited, but the opposition must be given due respect.

  11. The way the Championship is I predict Boro to lose 0-2 at Cardiff then for Cardiff to go and get thumped by Watford and Forest before restoring some pride with a home draw to Reading.
    Boro after their disappointing 0-2 defeat in South Wales to bounce back and beat Hull and Peterborough at Home and start the New Year with a lucky, against the run of play, smash and grab “New Typical Boro” win at Blackpool.
    All that means we end up with a nine point collection from 12 and Cardiff with four and us breathing down the necks of the top two.
    Of course we have to throw in the shock of the season when Lady Godiva’s lot win by four at Boleyn’s place and Bristols make it a fine pair with an away win on the South Coast.
    **AV writes: Sounds plausible to me. Crazy, crazy division.

  12. I’m back from OZ and will be going to the Hull game with mam, dad & bro. I think everyone else should too, lets fill it up!
    Up the boro!

  13. What is the official Blog position on receiving posts from supporters in Finland, in light of recent machinations in the corridors of European power, now that “we are alone”?
    Actually, Jarkko, there has been much humour in England on the subject of last Friday’s decision; UK cast adrift by Europe, UK on its own etc. But I did smile at a letter from Richard Jenkins in Tuesay’s Daily Telegraph which quoted Rudyard Kipling in answer to the suggestion that there will now be 2 speeds in Europe, with the rest of the EU in a fast lane and the UK in a slower one.
    He said: ” He travels the fastest who travels alone”.
    And there have been lots of references from the sublime to the ridiculous: from safeguarding our traditional fishing grounds again, to being able to sell curved bananas in Imperial weights and being able to buy 100 watt lightbulbs again. A few more laughs to come, I hope.
    **AV writes: I’m surprised the official line isn’t that the decision “leaves the rest of Europe isolated.”

  14. Media full of the injury crisis at ManU. Nine players out of action makes it headline stuff.
    Nine! Pah! Wimps! Nothing but an itch to a Boro fan. They cant field a full side plus a sub from the treatment room.

  15. Ian –
    I was planning to write to Santa and ask him for some of your ‘points from unexpected places’ but then I thought you’d probably already done that and maybe there is a limited number to share round!
    Jarkko –
    We’ll keep our best players in January, while we’re contenders they’ll be happy to stay. I cant imagine the likes of Bates or Williams wanting to join a Premiership team caught up in a relegation fight, too high a risk for them. I can’t see a team above the relegation dog fight area wanting to buy them.

  16. I tend to agree with Jarkko’s comments on relegation scrappers from the Prem looking to buy our best which is no incentive for a player looking to improve his career by leaving Boro only to see Boro going up and them returning to the Championship with a Premiership struggler come the summer.
    I think we can probably gamble and hold on to what we have already. Of course there is always the scenario that Sralex will buy a stop gap with potential to see Utd through their injury crisis and make a bid which Boro can’t refuse for Rhys or Matt. That would then give Mogga options currently unavailable.
    If we do enter the market I suspect it will be for someone we haven’t heard of from a Croatian mid table side for £300K who then goes on to be a Teesside folklore legend by banging in 15 goals over the next 5 months.

  17. I thought I heard/saw somewhere that its 45 quid to get into a QPR home game, is this true? And we still have people moaning about our prices, £16 with a season ticket.
    **AV writes: QPR started the season with exhorbitant prices but new owners took over and reduced them to merely ridiculously overpriced.

  18. It’s a braw, bricht, Moonlicht nicht, the nicht. Well, it is in North Yorkshire, about 10 minutes ago whilst putting out the bin for collection in the morning.
    The calm before the storm? Eek!

  19. Talking about the January Market, we wonder which players from the Boro, Prem teams may be interested in? If you’re a Prem team fighting at the wrong end and you need some strong battlers… Nicky Bailey, I know I would.

  20. Cardif draw
    Hull win
    Peterbro win
    Blackpool draw
    Eight from 12 will be happy with that. We should not be any worse off position wise with eight points.

  21. Nigel –
    I have the letter saved on my computer and use mail merge to send it to sundry religious leaders as well as Santa asking for their assistance.
    I wrote one to the god of the Trent and tried to drum up a collection on this very post for an offering. Not even Smog put up any many. Not surprisingly we ended up with the usual and totally expected nul points.
    I even sent one to Titus Bramble when he was at Toon but some bizarre reason he always refused to play down to his cataclismic standard against us.
    On to our footballers going to relegation strugglers. Redcar Rock’s move to Bolton hasnt exactly thrust him in to the England squad and every time he gets in to the team he seems to get sent off.
    I have no great love for Bolton dating back nearly 40 years ago to a 3-0 win at Burnden Park. Their fans kindly donated the results of a collection. Due to crowd issues the collection was deliverd aerially. Of course they couldnt throw ten bob notes and it takes a lot of threpenny bits to make a decent amount.
    Big Sam hardly improved matters ably helped by Phil Orange. Bolton going down will result in no tears from me but it would be a shame for Wheats.

  22. There is one unspoken factor as to why a player from a promotion chaser might want to join Premier League relegation fodder: money.
    I think there may be signing-on fees as well as wages.
    It may be prudent for a struggling Prem team not to offer big wages to new signings, but we know that common sense isn’t prevalent in this game.

  23. Gotta be quick…
    Seven pts from four games. West Ham top. Spanish Lee Miller? ‘iffy’ Forest he he
    Ian –
    I would give anything for the you know what
    Come on Boro!!
    **AV writes: Thanks for that. We are trying to isolate a few problems in the system so that it is all ironed out by the weekend so I/you can post on Saturday/Sunday after the game and I need to know how widespread the issue with posting is.
    Can we do a roll-call? Can all you regular readers weigh in with something and all lurkers shout up, let me know you can post and let me know if you have had problems opening the blog in the last few days?
    I know that sounds daft because if you can’t post you can’t tell me. If you can’t post and are outraged at being denied your voice or just want to help out you can email me at untypicalboro@gmail.com

  24. Well done, AV and, if I count correctly, in 3 fewer letters!
    Nice to know the system is working. But, then again, it’s always the intermittent fault that is the most annoying and difficult to resolve.
    **AV writes: We have a crack team of geeks working on it with bits of motherboard, sellotape, MDF and left over pages on MySpace.

  25. Had problems opening site at weekend but OK since Monday or Tuesday.
    Haven’t posted recently but happy to help controlled experiment.
    Testing 1 Boro 2.
    **AV writes: Scrappy away win at Testing… you’d take that.

  26. The blog is not crashing my internet connection now so I assume all is well.
    However, the last time I said that…
    Any chance of a quick Twitter idiots guide in time for Saturday?
    **AV writes: We have a Plan B. I’ll fill you in later…

  27. IAN –
    Re: your post, would that be the 3 – 0 thrashiing the Boro got on i think a Boxing day night game. I took the young lady who in time became my first wife.
    Should have read the omens from the resul, but I went ahead and married her anyway!!!

  28. AV, mostly OK but this morning needed to press “review” two test posts from Dormo.
    Secondly there should be a link to #borolive and instructions on a EG/Boro web page. To invite people to join in on match days.
    A 2-2 draw tomorrow (hoping). Up the Boro.
    **AV writes: Yes you may be right about a #borolive pointer but I think maybe there is a slight problem with it because it is beyond our legal/editorial control. If anyone published a libel or started saying something offensive about a Boro player would we really want to be linked to it? But it is something to consider.

  29. I’ve had no problem with the bloganaut since the puncture repair of last weekend…
    Cardiff 1 Boro 2 you heard it here first!

  30. Boro Clip Bluebirds Wings.
    Cardiff 1 Boro 2
    **AV writes: Tayls of the Unexpected…. old boy gifts victory with late oggie.

  31. Looks like the mind games have started before the Transfer Window even opens. Are we skint or has Gibbo found a few farthings down the back of his sofa?
    Are we financially stable with our Credit Card debt manageable with just a bit of spending power left? Are we desperate to sell to balance the books (apparently no longer)? Are we just being poker faced to up the value of any unwelcome offers (and in so doing making them just slightly more palatable)? Are we being coy so that we can attract some new blood whilst not being flash with the cash as we suck in air through our teeth and look unconvinced over the extra £500K or so being demanded by an anxious Cov or Leeds chairman?
    Has all the talk about not needing a striker/keeper/midfielder etc. just been about instilling belief in what we have until the window opened again in Jan. Have Mogga’s “favourites” really been “favourites” or just a clever marketing campaign to sell on, move out and get top dollar for dead wood? Is the new talk about being to spend just a ruse, a timely kick up the backside over the Christmas period to get an extra 10% out of the incumbents?
    Its funny because while I’m considering all this, such thoughts would never have entered my head during Robbo’s, Mac’s, Gareth’s or Stricken’s tenures. Is that because things were different or just that the intellectual clever stuff would never have entered their heads either?
    Anyway lets hope for some Mogga magic tomorrow, defeat isn’t the end of the world or the season for that matter but a draw would suffice and a repeat of the last trip would be psychologically massive. I am of the opinion that if the right striker is brought in it could make all the difference to the future of this Club not just for the short term but for the next decade. I doubt Santa could fit Hooper from Celtic in his sack with maybe a part-ex or two going in the opposite direction?
    Posting seems to be back to normal (at least before I hit the Submit button).
    **AV writes: Good, good …. (*crosses fingers*)

  32. Mohammad Abdullah –
    That was 3-0 win to Boro that brought on the most donations from Bolton fans. It was on the early seventies, I will try and dig out the date.
    AV –
    I tried to post this morning about the missing posts but it said I hadnt entered name and email address and I most certainly had. It was stuck on 23 at that time so none of those pieces of banter about lazy dogs and foxes were there.
    My favourite was Johns Loris quip, he sent it to me last night by email and it made me chuckle.
    I am posting from my work laptop and that has problems with the blog but especially the Gazette article. I have no problem with all the adverts that Trinity Mirror bombard me with but the articles themselves always freeze.
    You could say it is because it is a few years old but it never struggles on other sites. I suspect it is the number of links the main paper has to all and sundry vendors.
    I certainly dont have the same issues on my home machine but I am loathe to change the lappy because of the number of work web sites loaded on with the passwords and sundry fixes.

  33. Testing, Testing
    On the first day of Xmas, my Tony gave to me, a trialist from PSG……
    Oh for an Uwe right now.
    PS Welcome on board Martin in BW

  34. My hamster has lost it’s wheel, I repeat..My hamster has lost it’s wheel.
    Have you got your ears on good buddy? come back.

  35. The moon shines brightly over the valleys tonight.
    Welsh valleys of course. Let’s hope Cardiff end up stuck in one of their own making. I’d love it, love it, love it if we beat them again. But I expect they’ll be after a modicum of revenge after we killed off their promtion chances last year.

  36. Ian G –
    Regarding the adverts totally agree, the freezing is/was incredibly annoying, especially when one was concerned over people viewing over one’s shoulder. Try as they might encourage me I have yet to purchase a German WW2 uniform!
    Andy R –
    Ref the BJS, did I ever tell anybody I collected Bosco’s trolley when he shopped at Portrack Asda? Happy days…..Up!

  37. Oh well it was too good to be true, nothing on here since 1.44pm on the 16th the top team of Trinity techno-ninjas oviously forgot to put the plug back in!
    Hitting the Rview button brought up the missing posts, or at least a few more. Who knows how many more are out there searching through cyber space desperately trying to reach Untypical Boro?
    **AV writes: It should be working again now. The nerds in black pyjamas were waiting for me to write something and press the publish button at midnight. They need to see what happens and what goes wrong before they can fix it. They have have been working through the night to do running repairs.

  38. If the Uk split from EEC over the euro issue would all these European players over here suddenly have to get work permits?
    If so I suggest the government pass a law double-quick that introduces a fee for work permits equal to half the earnings of those successful.

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