Stuttering Start Spoils Sunshine Script

WELL that didn’t go to script did it? Expectations were high among the squad after a productive pre-season of building, bonding and box-ticking and even the more cynical fans let their guards drop to become swollen with August optimism again. A nice short-haul holiday trip to the scene of Boro’s best display last term encouraged a mass migration South encouraged 3,800 fans to travel. Mido was out injured so that inevitable goal was ruled out… what could possibly go wrong?
Boro were sluggish and laboured in all departments and were out-worked by a side that most pundits have pencilled in for a relegation battle. They failed to grab control of midfield, failed to keep or use the ball well, failed at the back to get a grip of an average looking Championship front-line and failed at the other end to hurt Barnsley. Boro had five or six low shots fly wide in the first half but not a single one on target then in a frantic finale had a flurry of efforts blocked without ever fashioning a clear cut chance.
Barnsley in contrast repeatedly carve Boro open – the defence were clunky and creaky and flat-footed – and but for Jason Steele could have been left red-faced. Boro’s keeper made three superb saves from Craig Davies and other blocks from Mellis and Perkins and at times was left woefully exposed.
So it was a stuttering and disappointing display – in front of a massive crowd, typical! – but despite the deflated return journey it wasn’t a disaster. There’s a long way to go and the team is barely bedded in, there were four Championship debutants today, and the lack of goal threat is not overly a worry. Yet.
A lively team with width and pace and zest and scored a shedful in pre-season . That team didn’t turn out today so the return of that fatal flaw of a flaccid frontline today may be more to do with the experimental and unconvincing shape and the personnel on the day and the internal exile of Scott McDonald. Those issues can all be tweaked and resolved while the on-going talks with Fuller could yet add a bit more physicality up front.
It is early days yet and despite some nervous kneejerk squeals of disillusionment and a few cataclysmic predictions of doom, there is no problem. To dip into the big bag of football cliches it is a marathon not a sprint. But a slip up on the openibg day dents the pre-season optimism and stokes up the pressure for the coming home games.

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49 thoughts on “Stuttering Start Spoils Sunshine Script

  1. A game I expected us to win, but which we fully deserved to lose.
    After Boro’s promising pre-season, a visit to Barnsley, the bookies’ favourites to finish bottom, whom we beat soundly twice last season, and who were missing key players, should have held few fears for us. Then the teams came out.
    No Carayol, a great disappointment. No Thompson. But this allowed Bailey to slot back into his accustomed position. Their replacements……Arca and Haroun, who have been largely conspicuous by their absence pre-season. Emnes operating on the left , Ledesma alone up the middle, Haroun on the right,with Arca as the attacking mid-fielder. Pre-match expectations were suddenly deflated.
    Where, one wondered, were the goals going to come from? It was a question which hung over the whole ninety minutes, and remained unanswered.
    First some positives. Step forward Jason Steele. Pretty much a complete performance. Outstanding saves, including one of Shiltonian proportions, which kept us in the game. Confident handling throughout, and quality distribution with both hands and feet which set up a number of quick counter-attacks. It really is time that some supporters got off the lad’s back and gave him the kind of unequivocal support that he deserves.
    Those who hanker after Ikeme must have missed his string if schoolboy errors when on loan at Doncaster. And I shudder to think of the fate awaiting Jason had he made the kind of mistakes committed quite regularly last season by the likes of Cec and Reina. So hats off to the lad.
    Nicky Bailey was the other great positive, never giving the ball away, the hub around which everything flowed, strong in the tackle. and taking a booking for the team to prevent a breakaway. He should remain in front of the back four in perpetuity. Of the others, both Woodgate and Leadbitter played well. And we enjoyed good midfield possession. They were the positives.
    But we created few chances and rarely threatened the Barnsley goal. Emnes started brightly but faded after getting a knock. Ledesma tried little lay-offs and angled passes, hardly any of which came off. His appeals to the referee every time he was tackled were tiresome.
    Arca was neat and tidy but lacked the pace to get beyond the front men. Haroun, unsurprisingly, lacked the kind of touch and penetration we know he possesses when match fit. He gave away too many free kicks and looked as though he had been picked so that his height could bolster the defence at set pieces. Hoyte, Friend and Williams all looked as though they had a major mistake in them, and so it transpired. Predictably, Arca, Friend and Haroun were substituted on the hour.
    As we pressed forward, Barnsley were increasingly dangerous on the counter attack. Zemamma proved as capable as the other front men of losing the ball, but made little attempt to tackle back so that Barnsley frequently had an extra man going forward. But for Steele it could have been three or four.
    I’m afraid that young Reach ran about like a headless chicken, and Zemamma did not hold his position, so that our attacks, though persistent, lacked shape and width. The qualities we take for granted in Scott McDonald -tireless running into space, the ability to hang on to the ball, the tackling back and the pressing of defenders when we don’t have the ball- were conspicuous by their absence in our strikers here. As was something that has also frequently eluded Scott: the ability to put the ball in the net.
    Mogga’s comments after Bury were spot on. We need an experienced striker who knows the game. And I would like us to hang on to Scott. Emnes needs a strong partner. Ledesma might prove capable of playing off a main striker, but currently lacks the strength to be the main man himself. Or even the Main man. I would go with Curtis before the Argentinian on current form.
    The two new signings were a great disappointment today. And I do not see Zemamma playing much of a role Let’s hope that Carayol is fit for Tuesday.
    **AV writes: Some good points. The subs did change the game… they increased the tempo of the mistakes and it became faster and scrappier. That forced Barnsley into more mistakes but there was no-one to take advantage. That strengthens the hand of Fuller’s camp in the on-going tentative talks but the McDonald situation needs resolving first. And fast. We can’t have the top paid player in internal exile.If we can’t sell quickly he must be smoothly rehabilitated.

  2. So, two homes to get back on track, right? But, hold on, we’re pathetic at home. Worse still, Burnley have just had a smashing win against highly-fancied Bolton.
    That means there’s every chance we’ll have a maximum of 3 points after 3 games. Then, not far down the line, we’ve got Blackpool, Blackburn and Leicester in successiover matches.
    If anything close to today’s form perseveres, we risk going into October with less than 10 points. Let’s hope today was an aberration.
    **AV writes: On the plus side Bolton and Wolves both lost so that is them out of the promotion race. It’s the opening day, I’d be wary of making any predictions or shaping any nooses just yet.

  3. Since January of this year:
    P 27 W 7(inc Shrewsbury,Bury Cups) D8 L12
    I think were going back over and Im really concerned about the squad Mowbray is putting together. The type of player hes brought in, I’ve no doubt are talented players,but I think some are the type who can be brilliant one game then go missing for three. I cant see us grind results out or dominate other teams,so what are we really left with?
    This is not because of Saturday, its been on my mind since the window opened.
    I’ve heard Mogga can be bloody minded but these head games with some players does not wear well in the dressing room and Im afraid we will be this seasons Notts Forest.
    I hope I can eat my words,because this season is critical to the future for the club and the fans that are still hanging around

  4. Last seasons sub standard performers have been replaced by even more sub standard players, and still no striker.
    How on earth Hoyte and Arca can be considered as starting players is beyond me. Unless of course the manager sees them as the best he has for those positions. If that is the case then we can prepare for a season of mid to low table mediocrity at best. The reason why these players are boo boys is quite simple, they are not good enough.
    This was Barnsley, not even one of the fancied teams, and they won in a canter. In fact it was just a continuation of the end of last seasons form. At this rate he will never get out of the shed.

  5. Macdonald must be lined up for a move on the premis of something happening in the chain for it to go through? That’s why they daren’t risk him I’d guess.

  6. What I find worrying is that it’s the ‘same old, same old’ Boro but in effectively a new team. I know it will take time for the players to gel but that doesn’t explain the panic in defence, the lethargy in midfield and the fear of scoring. These are old problems exhibited by new faces.
    I think Mogga needs a long hard look at his strategies and selections and, perhaps, more importantly how he and his coaches are preparing the team.
    I know its early days but three points are three points gone and that defeat could set the tone for coming matches.

  7. I think you took that defeat rather calmly AV. I doubt many others will be as lenient.It was only Barnsley, not one of the expected top half teams.
    There were a few too many excuses for me, the same that could have applied to Barnsley, but did not. Reading John Powl’s different take on the match, it seemed a little of the same old Boro, despite the influx of new faces.
    Boro will struggle to make the top six this season on this form. TM has bought nobody who I believe will increase the goals tally significantly, and may have to eat humble pie and bring back Scott McDonld, second only to Emnes in contribution terms. Why did we only have one “striker” on the bench in Williams, then not use him when we needed goals.
    Also I see we had another false dawn with Thomson, why TM sticks with him, sticks up for him. The manager has some serious explaining to do.
    **AV writes: At the risk of sounding glib, it is only one game. It would be nice to start with a win – especially in front of a big crowd – but winning (say we got one of those penalties) would not have made the team the finished article nailed on for the title and losing is not the end of the world, not the end of any promotion hopes… it’s not even the end of the first week. There’s a long way to go yet.

  8. AV – Agree it’s too early to get carried away – but three things for me:-
    Why, with Scott McD in ‘internal exile’ (which, I agree, has to be sorted & soon) and Jukebox injured did Curtis Main – who had travelled to Barnsley and could have given a different option up front – not even get on the bench?
    Why, when Carayol picked up a knock, did Mogga not trust the shape and the young wingers he’d played with in pre-season and just replace the missing width with Reach or Park from the start (and, as Len M points out, replace Mr. ‘Ten Games’ Thommo with Bails and Har-ooo-ooun out wide in a four where they were comfortable last term)?
    I still think we lack sharpness, cleverness and the ability to see a ‘picture’ and pick a pass in midfield. I hope the rumours about McEachran are true – he can give us those attributes.
    Plus, on top of that, I’d wiped from memory the run of form at the end of last season – often telling, even with a number of squad and changes.

  9. Disappointingly, little has changed for the better! For all the new names, the Barnsley eleven looked like the “team” that let us down at the back end of last season.
    The centre of defence clearly suffered at Barnsley for the lack of our best central defender last year – Hines, of course – and we still need a Kevin Thomson-type player to enable the midfield battling to amount to something and become a launch pad for incisive attacks.
    One of the very few players at our club who can retain and use a football in the opposition third – MacDonald – was also clearly needed. Ledesma seems to do that over complicated business we get too much of from Emnes, which may supply moments of great skill but usually ends up with the opposition in possession. Haroun, Haroun, Haroun has gone out!
    I did not expect to suggest negative ideas against our leader ever, let alone so early in the season, but has Mogga had a touch of sunstroke recently?

  10. Pre-season is irrelevant, particularly when two of the starting XI hadn’t even featured. No surprises then that we were so lacklustre in the 1st half.
    Bizarre decision-making to say the least in terms of team and squad selection and formations. The upshot is that for the first time, Tony appears to have lost some credibility with a lot of fans. In the circumstances, it would be nice to see a journo with the balls to start asking proper post-match questions.

  11. I wasn’t at the game but Mogga’s team selection, tactics and substitutions beg the question: ‘What is the point of Curtis Main?’
    We are light up front and are having difficulty shooting never mind scoring. Neither new problems, yet the answer is ready made on the bench and waiting. And waiting. And waiting.. He’s powerful, fast, direct and can score. Best not play him then eh?
    They also beg the question: ‘Thomson?’
    Can we stop indulging him now please? A tight calf? Was he not expecting the season to start at 3pm this Saturday?
    I’m glad Steele is getting the credit he no doubt deserves, he’s still young and he will improve yet more.
    Credit to each and every Boro fan who travelled. I worry we might have just knocked a couple of thousand of the gate on Tuesday.
    Regardless of t’Barnesley non-performance, I’m looking forward to breaking in my season away to Gillingham in the Credit Card Cup. Does anyone know what the parking is like?

  12. Well that was a jolt. After three months of freedom from the annoyances and frustration of football, cycling in charity rides enjoying the best that W and S Yorkshire can offer, added to the grace and civility of the Olympics, yesterday at Oakwell was two hours of watching the gnashing of teeth of supporters compounded by the failed attempt of the team to string more than three passes together.
    They say in life, first impressions count; well let us examine that in some detail regarding the debutants: First, Friend, seemed overawed and tentative, partly responsible for the goal. Rarely moved forward. Woodgate, strolled through the game but had a chance to equalise which he missed. Leadbitter, lacked drive, anonymous at times and does not always track back. Ledesma, spent a lot of the match either on the floor or running up blind alleys. Julio will need to tell him and quickly that sitting on the floor imploring the ref to give a foul will not work in the Championship. All in all they all flopped apart from Woodgate.
    We lost because we were slow on the ball and had no focal point to our attack. At one point we had Emnes, Reach, Halliday all stationed on the left wing outside the penalty area. What forward position is Emnes supposed to take up. Anybody know?
    Let us hope the inevitable bad game is out of the way and we get going on Tuesday and then Saturday. Any reason for Main’s absence and Thomson has started the season in his usual way – injured.

  13. Big let down for me and the other 3,900 or so there yesterday or just typical Boro in front of a large following?
    I’m fit again raring to go and win the supporters over ” Thompson” failed at the first hurdle and cried off injured.
    We seemed to be trying to do a Spain yesterday and play with no strikers. After Emnes got clattered in the first half he spent the rest of the game hiding out on the wing, should have brought Luke Williams on then. Emnes is bad enough fully fit never mind playing with a knock. With Ledesma only trying to get forward occasionally we were never going to score, we didn’t get our first corner until about the 70th min.
    I presume Carayol and Main were injured too? Four central midfield players unbalanced the team,we were back to last seasons tippy tippy sideways passing football which marginally improved when Reach and Zemamma came on.
    Poor Leadbitter didn’t have the best of games along with Ledesma after all their praise in pre season. I was also surprised to see Haroun and Arca start after barely featuring in pre season especially as it was a hot energy sapping afternoon.
    Thought Steele kept us in it with three or four fine saves and Williams and Woodgate looked comfortable together dealing with most of what came their way. Not so sure bout Friend. Physically he looks stronger than Bennett but seemed to get caught too easily. Hoyte saw plenty of the ball and did ok and was unlucky not to score near the end.
    Only the first game, 45 to go, I’m sure things will get better but was still worried at the lack of creativity and think it could be much the same as last season.

  14. AV – Good balanced article. You’re right, it’s early days. We are all aware that first day results are often erratic. My boy was there giving me a running commentary
    His version was, that we were out thought, out-played and out fought
    The stats were disconcerting – less shots, less corners, less chances – however the main stat to look at is Barnsley 53% Boro 47% possession. That was the big one.
    Mogga set out to control games and Barnsley are at best poor.
    OK, sick note was missing. However we had four players in midfield who could walk into the Barnsley team yet we could not get hold of possession.
    Mogga, no, no, no! Not good at all. You have Big Ricardo Fuller coming. He will be a big impact player when Boro need to lump it (last 15 minuts)
    I still cannot for the love of me understand why he turned down the two Brazilian midfielders. If he wants to retain possession they are the he boys he needs.
    Still next game coming soon, let us hope we don’t get mugged again. If we do then suddenly everything changes from optimism to pessimism and what we do then?

  15. Well Mogga was busy this week lowering expectations with talk of not expecting too much from the influx of lower league freebies – though I didn’t actually imagine he was just being honest.
    I thought the line-up yesterday looked unlikely to improve on anything from last season and losing to Barnsley is definitely not an improvement on last season! Is this the team that a few knocks and strains is going to be our first choice this term? I hope not, especially if Woody feels the strain of the Championship.
    OK, too early to panic – though not too early to take some deep breaths to avoid panicking. To put it into perspective, the bookies have us as 11th favourites with odds that give us a 15% chance of promotion – the pressure is already on so Boro better turn up on Tuesday to avoid PBB (premature balloon bursting).
    Not overly concerned about our lack of goal threat AV? This is the main problem that cost us a play-off spot last season and it doesn’t appear to have been addressed yet. BTW, the guy that hangs back at the beginning of the race trying to tie his shoe laces rarely wins the marathon.

  16. What I can’t understand about yesterday is why Curtis Main wasn’t on the bench and why was Ledesma playing as the lone central striker when he has been the support striker all pre-season. Why suddenly change things in a competitive match when it hasn’t been tried in a friendly?
    If Marvin was injured early on and not performing at 100% why wasn’t he brought off and replaced by Williams? There are seven subs on the bench now and it’s the manager’s job to make sure he has cover in all situations. So as an example, if your striker gets injured or you decide to start without a striker and it doesn’t work you have an alternative from the bench ie a striker.
    Can’t justify the inclusion of two players (Haroun & Arca) who we’ve been told haven’t featured in pre-season barring one game because of injury, suddenly getting a start in an important competitive match ahead of youngsters like Adam Reach and Cameron Park who have looked sharp, have the fitness levels and scored goals in previous matches. I wasn’t at the match but have been told they both looked far from being comfortable for a match situation. They’re bound to be match rusty.
    I find this match line-up very, very, strange from Mogga and one of the most baffling team selections I have seem from him since he took charge of the club.
    We have the players now I believe who can go and put on a good performance against Burnley on Tuesday and come away with a win but not with Haroun and Arca in our midfield right now and not without a central striker, like Emnes or Main. Or if needs must McDonald even though the club are trying to off load him and who I don’t particularly rate either.
    Still optimistic for the season ahead as it’s only first game and seen plenty good in pre-season but don’t want to see that again, poor start.

  17. Looking through the various blogs, do I detect stirrings of discontent with Tony Mowbray? For the vast majority of supporters, he could do no wrong so far.
    However I have a feeling that the beginnings of a groundswell can be detected. Once that cat’s out of the bag, it can take some getting back in. Use of subs, team selection, underuse of youngsters, ineffective tactics and poor purchases seem to be the main discontents that are crystallising.
    Expectations have been low and Mogga inherited such a mess, benefitted greatly from his club icon status and had so little to work with that people have been very patient and forgiving. I wonder whether we’re seeing that credit line being exhausted?

  18. It is only 1 game of 46, we are coming off a poor end to the previous season and we have a number of new players to bed in, but that was desperately disappointing.
    I didn’t understand the thinking behind the team selection, or at least not when taking into account what has happened in pre-season.
    Luke Williams, Reach and Carayol – three positive, pacey and energetic young players – were all given plenty of game time pre-season suggesting that that would be a feature of our midfield this year. To see the injured Carayol replaced by Arca (who I don’t think has played at all) was a big surprise and not a welcome one either.
    Arca has had his moments and is a really solid pro but I’m not sure that what he brings to the team is what we need. It certainly isn’t pace, width or mobility – three of the qualities that we’re short on.
    I was also disappointed not see Main on the bench. His impact on a team at a time when we were struggling last season merited his inclusion.
    Nevertheless, as was said several times last season, if we win the next two this defeat will be very quickly forgotten. And we know that the one consistent factor from this league is inconsistency.

  19. I spent Saturday afternoon near where the golfballs were onthe moors near Fylingdales at a tri annual family reunion. They may have been able to spot a pigoen over Siberia but fat chance of moble communication never mind my smartphone picking up commentary – the phone is smart, I leave the rest up to you.
    I picked up the phone in on the radio and it was clear it wasnt a happy day. My prediction was it would take some time to settle in the squad and top half finish as the likely result for this season.
    There is a long way to go but listening to the comments and reading reports and these posts you can make observations from afar.
    Last season five subs were to blame. Now we have seven where were McDonald and Main? OK, Scottie has gone in to the black hole where even the Enterprise feared to go but what has Main done wrong?
    The midfield looks like pig and mix, I use the word pig deliberately. Throw in Hoyte and Friend at full back? Will that provide attacking brio?
    Still we have two home games coming up, there is a relief. With just over 4000 at Oakwell Mogga got the chance to practice silencing the Boro crowd ready for the Riverside opener.
    It is early days but it will take time to settle down but at the back of mind is the nagging question. Is there a cunning plan I havent spotted?

  20. Only one game I know but absolutely baffled by the team selection. Not one goal scoring midfielder in the team, extremely defensive midfield with two lightweight strikers neither of which can hold a ball up. As soon as I saw the team sheet I thought we’re going to lose today.
    Why not have Emnes wide right, Reach wide left. Bailey and Leadbitter in the middle. At least we’d have two wide men with some pace. Either of McDonald, Main or Williams could have partnered Ledesma up front if that was the way he wanted to go.
    At least we would have had some creativity on the pitch. When will we learn to get out of this league you have to score goals and lts of them. All the good sides in this league have had goals from all over the pitch.
    If we continue to play non scoring players we will remain non scorers and not just that we will invite pressure from sides like Barnsley who steadily gain in confidence as they play us as it suddenly dawns on them “we can win this”
    We need to do much much more. Very disappointed!

  21. This seasons Notts Forest.
    What an a horiffic thought. That’s depressed me more than yesterdays result.
    Good night me ducks!

  22. If Emnes is injured take him off. Emnes played a load of games towards the end of last season injured and it didnt work- put Main on.
    We were 2 points behind Southampton last season at Crimbo when McDonald got injured and spent a long time out which coincided with us sliding down the league. Please can we play him as he is one of our best players who can hold the ball up front and runs into space all day and does cause problems in the opposition box.

  23. Ian Gill queried a cunning plan – and suddenly I got it! Mogga aims to do a Reading.
    Last season we hit the top early and the Barnsley game was arguably our peak. However leading from the front takes its toll and so it proved, as we faded badly in the last third.
    Meanwhile Reading were nowhere for the first half of the season. Attracting no attention, they were able to sneak up on the rails. By the time they attracted attention, they had gained a momentum that was irresistable. In previous seasons Swansea and Blackpool have worked the same trick of coming with a late run.
    Mogga’s taking a leaf out of their book. He’s freezing out Scotty, picking Arca and Hoyte and ignoring Main and others to ensure we’re mid-table until New Year. Then he’ll let loose the dogs of war and catch everybody by surprise as we surge to the top.
    … and if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

  24. Worst fears already there, Thomson does not start and nobody really filling that gap. Bailey did his job but not the way Thomson can. Tony Mowbray never seems to replace like for like. All our midfield same type of player.
    Agree with most: how does Arca and Haroun get in with so little game time on a hot energy sapping day? Unless there were a few knocks we are not aware of.
    I would put Scott in the midfield maybe his work rate would up the service for the strikers. Hoping for better against Burnley.

  25. Nikeboro –
    One of the reasons I switched to suppporting Mogga for the job is that he would be given time to sort things out. I just hope that my original reason for not wanting him to come was that his image would be tarnished like Gates was if he doesnt succeed.
    The points you raise are valid, I have been raising them for some time. Oddly they are what other fans say about their managers. I suspect it is the training they get for coaching badges. You can see them in the classroom.
    Quick start needed to the season. Tick
    Three holding midfielders. Tick
    Fourth midfielder unfit. Tick
    One show pony upfront. Tick.
    No wide player. Tick
    Two non attacking full backs to give width. Tick.
    Top scorer isolated out wide. Tick
    Change of option striker in stand. Tick
    Cleverest striker in solitary. Tick.
    Congratulations Mr Manager, A+.
    Someone mentioned about the bizarre midfield, similar to Brum away I’m afraid with Hammill doing the Ledesma cul de sac routine.
    It is only the first match of the season, a bit like in cricket where you dont know what a good score is until both sides have batted we wont know about the league until October time and the ten game test.
    The midweek fixtures will give some idea when all the teams have played hme and away. Barnsley are at Wolves and they may turn out to be a well organised team who hit the ground running and feature near the top of the league in the early part of the season. Burnley may turn out to be in the top six at seasons end but after one game we just dont know.
    What we do know is that the average fan can look at a line up and not fancy it. Hindsight or not, they are not dim. Main sitting in the stand doesnt make sense to most of us but we are not in the know.

  26. People panicking already? I missed the match completely for family reasons. Had a look at halftime and we’re 1-0 down. But I still was sure my prediction of a 1-2 win will happen. How wrong I was.
    Having looked the highlights in Boro+, I don’t think we were that poor that the result shows. How Ledesma did not finish that one golden opportunity was beyond me. Generally the play seemed pretty even – or even we were the better team? I don’t know as highlights don’t tell everything but let’s see how the season spins out.
    Tommo was missing but the we had Bailey available. We shouldn’t rely on our best 11 as much as per last season. But still, some of the selection was strange! I was waiting Reach to start for example. And where were Luke and McDonald, too?
    But let’s not get carried away. Most of the pundits put us around the 10th position. Let’s see how we play at the Riverside and where we are after the 10 match test.
    Better not to predict any result now. But surely we cannot loose on Tuesday? Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: It was a funny game. If you want to spin it positively Boro had plenty of chances early on without hitting the target and should have had a penalty then could easily have snatched it, possibly unfairly, late on. If you want to spin it the other way, Steele prevented a massacre. Typical Championship game really. Certainly not cause for building a gallows or undue panic.

  27. The Dark Knight Rises
    Despite his tarnished reputation after the events of relegation, in which he took the rap for The Boro’s demise The Caped Crusader feels compelled to intervene to assist the town and its supporters, which are struggling to cope with plans to destroy the Boro.
    KL: I think it’s time The Dynamic Duo came out of retirement Eric.
    EP: But Keith, the Caped Crusader is something entirely different.
    KL: Come on Eric I’m noted for wearing a cape, you’re the journo, use some artistic licence.
    EP: It says here in the Gazette that it is only one game, and no reason to panic yet.
    KL: That’s what we thought the last time a disastrous season was looming…….
    Meanwhile, back in Gibson Towers Commissioner Gibson sits drumming his fingers, staring intently at the Lambphone.
    CG: Bausor!!!!
    NB: Yes your Excellency.
    CG: How’s that search for a striker coming along?
    NB: Errmmm, the only ones available, that fit our criteria, are errmm, actually already at the club. There is one available, but he is prolific, recognized and would score goals for fun in this league. Not the kind of player we have been looking for.
    CG: You’ve got until the window closes to get him in.
    NB: But that would take a skilled, ruthless, experienced negotiator to get him here.
    CG: Sigh! Miss Kane! Get me Sunny Lawns Retirement Home on the phone please…..

  28. Good news about McEachran – but does Joe Bennett in the development squad this afternoon mean another dose of Friend at left back tomorrow evening?
    *AV writes: Yes, or possibly Halliday. Bennett pencilled in for Saturday if he comes through today’s game unscathed and has no reaction.

  29. AV
    I suppose De Matteo working with Mogga’s ex squad at the Baggies wouldnt have hurt either.
    There is also the chance that if he does the biz and we go up we may be able to keep him.

  30. Ha, how all of the errant fools crazilly, lazilly, like sheep following the masses and latching on to the unmittigated successes of Watford, Burnley, Barnsley and a half a dozen other giants of the game, all with their hard-gained 100% start to a season (already deep into its third day).
    And yet more the die-hard, long standing faithfull urging their beloved Derby, Ipswich or any one of another four titans of the game grinding out yet another result to cling on to their cherished unbeaten start. Indeed, what hope for the hapless Bolton, Brighton, Wolverhampton or even Middlesbrough, all languishing near the trap door at such a critical point in the season. Shurely its all over now.
    Me? I’m sorry we lost a match, but I’m kind of glad we’ve got that one off our backs straight away.

  31. McEachran – I have lost count but is he the signing number 10 or 11th?
    I think we must see some leaving now as well, at least we have plenty of midfielders. But the spine of the team is there – Steele-Moodgate/Rhys W-Thomson-McEachran-CF.
    I hope Mogga pulls out a striker of Woodgate’s calibre. Then the sale of McDonald makes sense. But not before a wow signing. We need GHw back.
    Up the Boro!

  32. You can dress it up anyway you want. You can add whats, ifs and maybe’s, tinker with team selections, take one out, put one in and we will still not be good enough. The quality in the squad is not one to get us promoted.
    Neither is the desire, the confidence or ability. Neither is anything else I may have missed out. A mid table team at best, incapable of putting a shift in every match, week in, week out.
    Out-performed too many times by so called inferior teams with solid tactics and options to change when things don’t work.
    Ricardo Fuller my bottom. And while I am having a rant… is Thomson on sick pay? Because he should be. Tight calf? Algipan son…get on with it.
    My prediction….11th. I was correct last season and I will be this.

  33. Listened to Alli and Higgy. They pulled no punches, we were utter rubbish. Surely, Luke, Adam, Cameron and Curtis have been blooded enough by now. Looking at Luke and comparing him with the kid who played at Norwich three seasons ago, shows a maturing powerhouse. For Christ’s sake play the kid.
    Mogga get your act together, once again your summer signings are rubbish. They must have cost us nothing and playing for free. Please don’t wait for the new blokes to “come good” they never do.
    Once again, Mogga be decisive, pull no punches are turn things around tomorrow.

  34. From what I’ve read over the last couple of days about the Barnsley game, the general concensus is that it was an odd starting line-up given the pre-season games.
    Perhaps Mogga was more concerned about getting his best team out at home against Burnley and took his eye off the ball against Barnsley thinking a makeshift team would gain at least a draw.
    AV, has anyone put the question to Mogga about what his thinking was over the team selection and shape? Or are such questions out of bounds by the loyal local media?
    **AV writes: No of course they are not. It was the first question asked, although obviously not with the aggression and invective that some people demand and believe that anything short of means you are ‘soft’ on the club.
    And as usual, he answered. He said he went with that shape to get the extra man in midfield and wanted Emnes and Ledesma to interchange up front to try to stretch their defence so the extra man could get forward and exploit any holes that appeared. He pointed out that it was the same shape that Boro had used last year that was so successful.
    Sometimes you can do things for the right reasons and they don’t come off – usually because there are two teams on the pitch and the other lot don’t play ball. Amid all the talk of Boro being rubbish (measured against hypothetical high benchmarks for a new and as yet unfinished team) few people have considered that actually, Barnsley played well and were very well prepared.
    After the game Barnsley boss Keith Hill said he was chuffed to bits with his side. They had looked at what Boro did last year at Oakwell and gambled they would take the same approach and then drilled his side to counter that. Credit to them. He also said Boro were a very good side and he expected them to be challenging. But we don’t to hear that right now do we?

  35. Too often we think the opposition will just sit back and let us dominate.
    From the posts and what I have seen with my own eyes it looks like Moggs doesnt say go out and dominate. From what he has said he wants us to check out the opposition for 25 minutes.
    I know it sounds like a stuck record but if it were only the players someone would have done something daft and we would have givn someone a good thumping at the Riverside.
    I am sure, as last season, the players are good enough to do the job. Just let them off the leash. Not headless chicken but just give it a go.
    Robbo on the right wing last season, his best games were through the middle!
    It is like football by numbers. It is all too clever, it is a simple game. You don’t have to dribble by six men, just move and be progressive.
    No width in midfield, no attacking full back plus three tucking in, keep it tight midfielders doesnt work away from home. At home it is a recipe for an emptying stadium.
    Just give it a go and the fans will respond if not in huge numbers but in spirit. I am thinking of driving up but the problem is I fear another team trying to remember manager speak about what their right sided midfielder likes to eat.

  36. I am a Barnsley fan, but always look at the opposition’s web site and their local newspaper reports after a match to see what their views are.
    Having done this after the Middlesbrough game, I was really pleased to read the balanced comments from the majority of the Boro fans and the detailed and accurate reporting by the Gazette (the best I have seen on the game).
    Barnsley are often knocked by opposition fans and also by the press, but our management team of Hill and Flitcroft take some beating – they have put together a well balanced side for next to nothing. They always play football the right way and this was clear to be seen on Saturday.
    Barnsley had four key players missing and lost another one during the game, so all in all it was a good performance by Barnsley to beat a well fancied side like Boro.
    **AV writes: Thanks for the comments. We try to be balanced and measured even if sometimes it attracts criticism from those on either end of the supporters spectrum.

  37. AV said: “After the game Barnsley boss Keith Hill said he was chuffed to bits with his side. They had looked at what Boro did last year and gambled they would take the same approach and then drilled his side to counter that.”
    Paraphrase: Mogga was out-thought.
    Maybe its time to play our strengths rather than be over analytical and play to perceived weaknesses in the opposition.
    Each team is different so should we change our style, selection every week? The answer must be ‘No’. Better teams impose themselves on others and let the opposition do the worrying about shape. Keep it Simple * seems to ring a bell.

  38. Getting the young Chelsea lad on a season long loan is a peach of a signing. This lad is an upcoming superstar (if he is managed). However my concerns are what we do at the Riverside and our abysmal record. I wait with baited breath (Like so many others) as to how we start the season at home, crucial to a successful or relegation season.

  39. So nobody said “Jesus Tony, what on earth do think you were doing picking that team?” You’re just bunch of sentimental softies.
    Though seriously, I think there is a decent team at Boro waiting to be unleashed. I don’t mind hearing praise from the opposition but it’s usually to make themselves sound even better. I kind of agree with the points of Ian Gill and John Bowman that managers can end up over thinking and tinkering around too much.
    Maybe you end up losing more than you gain by switching the team around. Do players at this level have the capability and discipline to play in new roles? Even England internationals struggle to play out of their comfort zone.
    Our players are still relative strangers to each other and though we may played it last season it’s still a different system and probably makes it harder to perform as a coherent team? It may all sound plausible in the coaches head but plans are not only thwarted by the opposition but also by bad execution by the players themselves who suddenly forget their new roles when under pressure.
    Yes, it might work on the training pitch, but look at Liverpool who are suddenly trying to play Brendan Rogers passing game – they looked all over the place when put into a real competitive game against keen opposition.
    Mogga may never get a group of players together for a significant amount of time that can play the way he wants – I don’t know how much time Boro have if they want to see his vision realised as every year makes it harder to gain promotion with your better players being constantly coveted by PL teams with bigger budgets.
    OK, it’s still early days and we may get a taste of the real Boro this evening (by which I don’t mean the Boro home performances of last season).
    **AV writes: I think you are right that Mogga sometimes over-thinks the situation and he certainly gears his team to the shape/personnel he expects the opposition to play. He spends hours weighing up the next opposition looking for a weakness to exploit and then will pick a team to do just that. It doesn’t always work but it makes it almost impossible to second guess his team.
    But that is the new breed of technical managers for you. The days of picking your best XI and shouting at them to ‘get stuck in and want it more’ are long gone.

  40. Blimey, there is some top bed wetting going on here! One game lads, chill out. Amazing how Thomson and McDonald’s reputation seem to have increased tenfold by simply not playing.
    AV, any idea what sort of crowd we are expecting tonight?
    **AV writes: No idea but whatever it was going to be. I’m sure the dashed hopes of Burnley and subsequent backlash will lop a thousand off it.

  41. AV –
    Your answer to Werdermouth is no surprise.
    I for one do not expect schoolboys chasing the ball line ups. I suspect he sends his teams out to stop the other team playing and take it from there.
    I am probably being simplistic but if you dont impose yourself at home the opposition are quite happy to sit back and settle in. Shut the crowd up away not on your own patch where the opposition will just bide their time.
    I reduced my visits to the Riverside after a string of horendous home performances under GS1&2. The last home game I saw was the 1-1 against Coventry which was dire, the opportunities to get up were limited and as dire football continued I made the decision that was it.
    I even missed matches when I took my wife and daughter to York – I used to drop them off then drive up. I went for four hours fly-fishing instead – that cost £7. Fifty pound to watch a dismal Boro performance that would wind me up or £7 to do something I love doing and destresses me. I could just get radio Tees as I picked my family up and every time I got reinforcement for my decision.
    Even in that great run at the end of the previous season we came from behind six matches in a row so the entertainment masked the dire first halves.
    Still go to away matches and was gutted when I couldnt get to Barnsley. Well, until listened to the phone in as I drove back to Guisborough.
    Shutting up shop at home and letting the opposition control the game is not expansive football. Am I missing something?

  42. I’ve waited a few days to calm down a bit after Saturday as I am one of those who were ‘puzzled’, for want of a better word by team selection.
    There are a few comments above I agree with regarding managers being over complicated and attempting to be too clever. Pick your best eleven, stick with your best eleven, play the same system every week and low and behold your team will play better.
    It’s not rocket science, fans from all teams know what their best side is, it is usually the one where left sided players play on the left, right sided players on the right, central midfielders in the middle. Simples.
    Final point, whoever came up with the idea of right wingers playing on the left etc; is an idiot, those that have copied this stupid idea are bigger idiots.
    end of rant.
    Onwards and backwards.
    **AV writes: If you play the same players and system every week – especially at this level where there are few world-beaters in the first XI – rivals coaches will quickly come up with a shape to nullify you, even with a limited side. As we found out at home last year, it is relatively easy for a well drilled team to shut up shop.

  43. Ten (10) new signing and we wait them to gel immediately? Seriously (OK – Hoyte was re-signed so just 9 new players)?
    But of course we can hope an improvement tonight but we cannot be playing as a seasoned team. Even Manchester United did not win at Everton. Let’s be realistic and just enjoy the match against Burnley tonight.
    Up the Boro!

  44. Yep not everybody can win on the opening day. I think West Ham lost at home in their first game last season as it was on TV.
    Hope we go with two strikers and attack from the off. All the teams that have gone up in recent years have scored lots of goals. Something we failed to do last year.
    Hope the new boy is what we are looking for,he seems a bit young but you never know.

  45. AV writes: ‘As we found out at home last year, it is relatively easy for a well drilled team to shut up shop.’ And that is just us.
    Sorry, open goal, couldnt resist it. Mind you our strikers could.
    On a lighter note had a drive round on Sunday visting Saltburn for a stroll down the pier. Went to Redcar to have a look at the vertical pier, thought of a name for it but it wasn’t in the list published by the Gazette. I must admit I thought the fencing around the building work was more attractive.

  46. McEachran promises to be a top signing. I’ve never seen him but I very much like what I hear and, in particular, what it says about the style that TM is seeking.
    That must relegate Arca to a bit-part. Although he’s been a good servant for Boro, I’m surprised he’s still with us let alone starting games. This signing must signal the end. If we can just get Thomson consistently fit and playing a run of games, then we have some MF. (I know I slate Thommo but that’s frustration. I still think he has a lot to offer if & when he plays regularly).
    Along with Carayol, Bailey, Leadbitter and Haroun, and Rhys Williams if needed, that’s a pool of players with the potential to be a good engine room. McEachran now provides the flair and creativity and Carayol the pace that we’ve missed for so long.
    If we can just get a goal-scorer, I might start to believe.

  47. Lunchtime break and watched the clip on MFC featuring Dave Parnaby and the new academy system. I recommend anyone who hasnt watched it to do so.
    Lets hope Marvin is fit for tonight – any news yet?
    **AV writes: Late test. Curtis stands by.

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