Oh McDonald, What A Yarn, EI-EIO

PUNCH-drunk Boro climbed off the canvas to claim a crazy win at Watford thanks to a spirited fightback, a fortuitous red card and a soap scripted winner.
Frozen out frontman Scott McDonald came back in from the cold with a bridge building winner at Vicarage Road that was a big step forward in his Riverside rehabilitation. And most season Boro fans had it marked down as inevitable.
But whether he netted or not, from the moment he was named on the team-sheet, Scott McDonald was always going to be the story. “Oh McDonald, What A Yarn, EI-EIO!


It was a high-risk and politically loaded selection. Tony Mowbray was hostage to fortune as the Aussie exile returned after two months on the naughty step for his first competitive action this term.
It is no secret that McDonald’s wages no longer fit within Boro’s squeezed budget and in an ideal world he would have been off-loaded during the summer and the cash redistributed.
But there were no takers and after the transfer window closed the simmering “Scott McDonald situation” – a potent cocktail of financial, footballing and personality issues – was allowed to fester and started to turn toxic.
In his absence, even though Boro had no trouble scoring goals and most of the pitchside problems stemmed from leaking them, the striker had become a stick to beat the boss with, every blank and every lost point amplifying the grumbling of the dissidents.
Clear the air talks last week prepared the way for a return – a reintegration process – but bringing the feisty frontman back was always going to be tricky.
Had he stayed on the bench and Boro lost – which looked absolutely nailed on after the first minute – then the boss would have taken flak for not fielding him from the start.
If the boss put him on and he scored then that would be used as a retrospective indictment of the defeats to Barnsley, Millwall and Leicester.
If he came on and played poorly then he would have been ring rusty from his spell in the gulag with the boss carrying the can for that too.
Mogga was on a hiding to nothing – although obviously a scoring return in a welcome win was the best outcome and by far the easiest to spin.
As it happened, he was introduced in a bold tactical gamble that salvaged the game.
McDonald came on for injured Justin Hoyte just before the break with Nicky Bailey dropping to right back and our hero slotting into an enterprising wide left role allowing Boro to switch to a more cavalier style with three natural attacking players and a lot of movement and width and fluidity.
Having clawed back into the game with some extended spells of patient possession it let Boro to press forward, stretch Watford and carve open gaps in their defence – a quality that proved decisive when they went down to 10 men and were digging in.
The brave move paid off and had the manager as well as the player taking plaudits. And both were models of diplomacy and discretion in post-match interviews that should lead to a new detente and the addition of a useful player to a strained squad.
So that should hopefully put the matter to bed. Until January at least.
And, of course, it was scripted that the resolution would come with a predictable goal. It was nailed on. As soon as the team news broke, bookies on Teesside and in cyber-space were inundated with shrewd daft quids on McDonald as an anytime scorer. More so when he came off the bench. “It’s all about the in-play Ray.”
But after a torrid time for Boro’s chaotic defence in a sloppy start that left them reeling it looked like any strike for Scott would be little more than a sarcastic consolation.
A self-inflicted goal down after just 26 seconds – a suicidal back pass by Andre Bikey that was a carbon copy of the one by David Wheater that teed up Danny Graham in 2010 in the same fixture – was followed by a sustained pummelling that had most Boro fans in the ground wincing and watching through their fingers.
After 10 minutes Boro could have been three or four down but for a string of magnificent saves by Jason Steele, a coat of paint on the bar and some woeful finishing.
But battered Boro survived the onslaught and grabbed a foothold in the game with a spell of Teesside tiki-taka, sustained short possession football that took the sting out of the Hornets attack and pushed the game gradually forward into the home side’s half.
Boro, who had looked dead and buried, started to probe tentatively to create chances and in a crucial spell before the break, the game swung their way with three key events.
First Marvin Emnes’ superb hooked overhead equaliser from a Jutkiewicz header after a corner squared the game and left Watford deflated. Had all their work been for nothing?
Then Mogga threw on McDonald for Hoyte and added some extra zip up front with the hungry Aussie working hard, linking up well with the midfield and offering an attacking option on the left.
And then came the contentious (and confusing) red card for Watford’s most potent striking threat Mataj Vydra. He tumbled over a Nicky Bailey sliding tackle and raked him with his studs as he landed on his rolling rival before being sent off as the ref raced over emphatically mimed a stamp.
It looked accidental in real time. As the ref approached most people expected a foul – and possibly a card – against Bailey. Boro players did and were canvassing the ref on his behalf. Jason Steele latyer admitted he was shouting at the linesman to inteceded on Bailey’s behalf. And certainly the home fans did and they, and Vydra, were stunned by the red card when it came. The ref was barracked with every decision after that and there was a real fear among the Boro contingent he may be tempted to ‘even it up.’
That enforced exit may have been the watershed moment but even when wilting Watford had a full complement, Boro were right back in it.
In an impressive second half, with an extra man, Boro’s persistent passing was slick and effective as they picked dogged Watford apart.
There were some good chances before McDonald slotted in the pre-ordained winner then at the death Steele – rapidly emerging as the single biggest factor in the season so far – made a simply staggering save from point blank range with his feet to hold onto the three points.
It was a crazy match in a crazy division. The first 20 minutes was as bad as Boro have played since, well, since the 3-1 Strachanovite shoeing at Watford back in 2010.
And yes, there were a few lucky breaks but given a couple of dodgy decisions in the last few games Boro were due one. After that it was as good as Boro have played all season – showing character, bravery, neat passing, patience in breaking down a massed defence and the mental strength to first force a winner and then hold out against a final flurry.
It was a display the loyalists who travelled to Watford after a difficult week deserved as much as the team who dug deep to deliver.
*Blog title shamelessly nicked from Colin Fairlamb on twitter @Triquertum

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31 thoughts on “Oh McDonald, What A Yarn, EI-EIO

  1. There will be matches we lose without Lady Luck liking us (Leicester) and then matches when we are lucky (Watford). We just have to accept that. This is football, after all.
    Yesterdays win was a nice surprise after the two unlucky home matches. Well, now we have reached the traditional 10 game point of the season. There have been minor dissappoinments but nothing exceptional. Losing the undefeated home record is the biggest disappoinment, but then again we have played much better at the Riverside than last season.
    All in all I feel a bit disappointed that we don’t have a point or two more at the moment. But then again we are just one point behind the last play-off place. Considering that we have 12 new players in the squad, I have to be happy. With the new team I’ll be happy if we there or thereabout around the play-off places at the Chrismas time.
    Because I have a feeling that this team could well surprise us when all the main players are fit – and when the team have gelled more. We had a new player in Scotty Mac yesterday, but in January we’ll have Carayol, Main and Rhys W back, too.
    I am looking forward to the next 10 games. After them we could be nearer the top two than we are currently. So not dissappointed so far with Mogga. Up the Boro!

  2. Bikey did what we always subconsciously knew was inevitable based on his previous. Thankfully he didn’t go off like a Roman Candle and vent his anger on everything and anything around him for the nxt 90 minutes. It was his first faux pas since joining us and has some credits earned previously so we move on.
    Jason Steele totally justified Mogga’s belief in him despite overwhelming pressure from those of us (myself included) who “knew better” for the last 18 months. His performances this season are beyond anything we could have bought in let alone find on a free!
    The sending off was a pivotal point and watching it at full speed the Ref’s decision was puzzling to say the least. On the third time of freeze frame analysis it was clear that Vydra raked Bailey’s right buttock and it did look cynical so full marks to the hawkeyed ref. Fortunately Bailey’s natural padding meant that he himself was oblivious to what had just happened.
    Then the moment of inevitabilty, Mogga strangely and bravely put on McDonald for Hoyte after he pulled up injured. Emnes had scored a brilliant equaliser which meant the stage was set for Scotty to become the hero.
    Lets move on from here and use the break as an opportunity for healing both in the treatment room and on the training ground, we literally cannot afford inujured limbs or hearts there is far too much at stake for all parties concerned.
    Back in August if someone had offered me that in October we would be level on points with Blackpool and Blackburn and five points ahead of Birmingham and Bolton I’d have snapped their hand off. But for a few iffy performances and dodgy offside last minute goals over the last week and we could have been top two, its a funny old game!

  3. Mogga, an apology:
    I wrote hastily last week. Pure frustration at our disppointing results. The truth of the matter is that Mogga was correct in potecting the kids. Look at us now, about six crocked and long term. All 15,000 of us have been screaming to play them but Mogga and his coaches knew best.
    The policy of bringing in donkeys for the hard slog to Christmas is probably correct. As long as we keep in touch, so that the rejuvenated kids can exploit the run in.

  4. Great result after some early struggles. Is it possible to ‘watch’ a match from behind the sofa when it is a radio commentary.
    Redcar Red –
    I must admit I wasnt one of those criticising Steele. No particular reason but I think we tend to blame keepers for their errors when they dont dig their colleagues out of the mire.
    I watched the sending off a few times, sometimes I think it was a stamp, sometimes an accident but it isnt easy on iplayer via the computer. It all depends on the view a ref gets.
    On to Scottie.
    I am not going to say told you so about McDonald. Whilst I can see the way players are set out on the pitch, how they perform and imply tactics I cant see what happened that resulted in the non appearance of McDonald. It happened and now looks to be sorted and that is the end of the matter.

  5. A good win which was slogged out and typifies the games we have to endure in the championship if we are to get out of this league and back in to the Prem.
    Pity the home fans have had to endure some heartache in the last two games but quite frankly the Boro have not looked at their best playing a congested midfield with little width and shorn of creativity due to an extensive injury list.
    Hope Mogga and McDonald have finally put their differences behind them and we can at last move forward and keep in touch with the leaders.
    As a season ticket holder I would not be upset at letting schoolchildren or people on reduced earnings into games at reduced rates and try to generate an atmosphere.
    Is it only me or do the ballboys who sometimes seem too young and hold the game up by their slowness in retrieving the ball when we are fighting an uphill battle infuriates or am i just a grumpy old fart!

  6. John Dobson –
    Why the apology? most of the injuries seem to have occurred on the training pitch. It is probably more mental protection from games in the league.
    One thing I would ask. If Strachan had done the same what would have been posted then? If Strachan sent a team out with one Academy player there would have been uproar, there was when he played three! I am not supporting Strachan merely being fair.
    The likes of Downing, Cat, Morrison, McMahon were regulars against the likes of ManU and in Europe at age 18 and 19. Good enough = old enough.
    Losing kids to early injuries is a shame. Downing, Bates, McMahon, Taylor, Williams, Franks, Hines all lost huge chunks to being seriously crocked. Main is but another.

  7. I now know what Mogga meant when he said Bikey was an ‘acquired taste’, sceptic I would suggest after yesterday’s performance.
    Listening to the first 25 mins it sounded as if we only had Steele- as the defence.
    Incredulous that we won, equally, that we improved and played some football. Who would want to manage this lot? It appeared that Mowbray talked them through the game in the first half we were so hapless.
    We won, McDonald inevitably scored he seemed contrite and positive and showed commendable discretion in not revealing the differences between him and the manager. We hang in there and that is despite the way we play.
    I think we all need rest and recuperation after this week.

  8. Starting off badly, making changes, then playing well and going on to win the game.
    Sounds like good management to me. Well done!

  9. I always try and have a look at opposition forums after a game (if we win). Some nice praise for “Borough” and “Luke” Steele (some of us always had faith btw):
    “From there on in it was over as a contest, to be fair to Borough they took advantage of the 10 men brilliantly, spread the play, dragged us around and it was never in doubt that they would get a winner. Compared to Charlton on Tuesday, for example, who had no idea how to play against 10 men.
    Amazingly after all that we came within inches of grabbing a point, Hoban denied on the goalline by an unreal save from Luke Steele, one of those ones where hes somehow deflected it over the bar from underneath the crossbar.”

  10. A few words about Mogga and Scottie.
    We had the Liverpool manager slating Downing in public and Downing responding. Cole tweeting and retracting it followed by Shearer lambasting him only for Cole to ask about kicking Lennon.
    We have had the Terry/Ferdinand incident. Gerrard and Johnson saying Suarez doesnt dive only for an MFI coffee table collapse -other suppliers of collapsable flat furniture are available.
    Meanwhile Mooga and Scottie had their stand off, it all remained private, was resolved in private and hopefully that is where it will stay. Despite valiant and understandable attempts by sundry media.
    I know which code of conduct I prefer.

  11. My mood was not great after initially seeing that Boro had gone behind after only one minute and seemingly had no reply to the Watford onslaught – especially after my two-year-old son had just managed to jam a plastic ball deep inside the speaker of my recently purchased sub-woofer.
    But after I eventually managed to gain possession the ball so did Boro and turned the game around – BTW very good headline AV, your future in tabloid journalism awaits!
    This is indeed a crazy inconsistent division – I’m sure any one of the top dozen or so might say we could have been in the top two if not for a couple of dodgy decisions.
    So overall we’re not too badly placed after 10 games – whether we have enough to start storming up the table is debatable but that probably applies to everyone else – Boro just need to keep accumulating points and keep the bases covered (whilst I just need to keep the bass’s covered)

  12. Swings and rounderbouts. Whatever happened between TM and SM has gladly been kept between them and I hope it stays that way.
    Well he is with us at least until Jan when maybe he is a big hero or villan or he will put himself in the shop window. So a lot for all parties to benefit between now and Jan.
    Great win. You will never win money betting on Boro you would have better odds with the lotto.
    **AV writes: Actually I had the 2-2 draw against Derby at 14/1 AND Boro to win 2-1 at Watford at 11/1. Beer money and four points. Good week all round.

  13. You bet on Boro to draw at home! Against DERBY!!!!!
    Capitalist lap dog, traitor, deserter. Chicken Runner! Mercenary. Enemy of the people! You will never be able to take the moral high ground again.
    Shame on you, I demand you give Uncle Eric his cardie back and dont you dare put your hand in his beloved biscuit barrel.
    You criticise bedwetters, at least they want Boro to win and are distraught when they dont. As the boos rained down you were fingering your betting slip.
    **AV writes: I thought expecting a draw last week made me a deluded ra-ra? Besides, ten games without a draw for any team… that’s too good to miss. “Do the math.” If it makes you feel any better I spent the money on a hairshirt.

  14. As you bought a hairshirt I will let you off.
    Mind you I never thought of 2-2 against the sheep worriers and I most certainly did not post with envy coursing through my veins. And a 16/1 at Watford!
    Must have doubled your Gazette wages but not all of us can afford £1000 bets.
    Lucky bugger. Respect.
    **AV writes: It’s a daft quid, part of my pre-match ritual (along with a midgie pie). I lose more often than I win. If I don’t get a a pseudo-scientific feeling then I whack it on a defender as first scorer. I had one season where I did well on Wheater. This season, most weeks you can 40/1 on George Friend. Remember kids, don’t gamble.

  15. Interesting comments on the BBC website yesterday after Liverpool’s game:
    “Brendan Rodgers described his players as “lazy” following Thursday’s defeat and made eight changes from the Europa League team for the match against Stoke, with former Middlesbrough player Downing not even making the bench.
    “Rodgers warned both Downing and left-back Jose Enrique, a £7m signing last summer, that they needed to show more commitment. “Stewart is a good guy but it hasn’t quite worked out for him as he would want it,” said the former Swansea boss. “You have to work hard; you have to fight for the shirt. I will keep private the discussions Stewart and I have had but he is under no illusion that he has to fight.”
    To my mind Stewart is one of a lengthy list who left and have come nowhere near fulfilling their potential. Would the club be interested in taking him back if, as seems certain, he will become available?

  16. Unfortunately, Dreadful Dennis at 7.28pm, there is no chance of Stewie Downing returning to the Boro in the near future. The club couldn’t even afford to pay his current win bonuses at Liverpool.
    Players like Downing, Johnson, Huth and even Morrison, all earn wages we couldn’t dream of paying. I suppose Morrison is nearer the end of his career than the others but, frankly, the best you could hope for is one of them deciding to end his career by playing out the last year or two at his “old club”.
    Something that might be done by a player who has already earned his money and for whom the money we could pay would only tide him over for a year or two before his footballer’s pension kicks in. That’s not likely for a player in the Premier League, in his prime years.
    I suppose you could dream, though….like believing Messi contacts the club next year, having had his fill of La Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rei medals…he has a bank account that would never need topping up, but he reveals he’s always followed the Boro as a youth in Argentina, and desperately wants to play for the club. Like I said, a dream.
    Of course he’d have to earn his place in the team. Couldn’t just expect to walk straight in – not with Luke Williams and Enmes ahead of him in the pecking order. Messi – the Argentinian Luke Williams.

  17. AV, I feel stupid but what is a hairshirt?
    I think the art in betting is to find and predict the surprises – so to predict a home draw against Derby and a win at Watford is exceptional – especially so in the Championship! Well done, lad.
    The ‘Borough is going up. Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: A hairshirt is a coarse garment worn to deliberately induce discomfort and pain by believers as a sign of repentance and atonement. I’m sure there is a Finnish equivalent… although obviously yours’ will be a lot warmer.

  18. Dreadful Dennis –
    I was tempted to do a where are they now post following Downings unhappy few weeks and Jinky leaving Citeh.
    The thing that makes me laugh about the Downing situation is Rodgers laying in to Downing in public then pronouncing that what is said in the office is private. God knows what he said in there.
    Forever –
    Morrison is younger than Downing, he left when Sothgate was building a team based on local youth and the likes of Aliadiere were coming in. Mmmm.
    Now where are the rest of the posters after a good result?

  19. Well, this is disappointing. We’ve won going into an international break, we have nothing to moan about.
    **AV writes: Of course we have…. Judas betting against Boro, the failure of Sunderland safety committee to get a move on with cup ticket details, the injuries (Hoyte is latest), crowds/pricing/lack of creative thinking, MM Page and his ear-bleeding eighties rock…. come on, its in your DNA.

  20. Well the 10 game test has arrived, and with five wins, four losses and a draw I think we can be pretty satisfied. That’s top 10 form which is what I think most people expect, so we should be within touching distance. A good run for us or a bad run for a couple of others could just see us squeeze into the play-offs.
    I think the luck so far has been slightly in our favour (despite the Leicester match), so we are probably a couple of points ahead of where our performances deserve, but it doesn’t matter now, the points are in the bag.
    All in all the team and the manager can be satisfied with themselves. Good to see Scott McDonald back in the frame as well. Despite the problem of his high wages, and regardless of whether he may be an awkward bugger behind the scenes, he’s still our best striker by a country mile.

  21. Ere AV, you going all stateside on us wiv yer comment ‘do the math’ Bleedin hell mate, do us a favour and ‘talk proper English’ – was always maths not bleedin math.
    Onto matters Boro and oh for some consistency, when are we going to tighten our sieve of a defence and stop conceding early and late goals? Bleeding hell Mogga, look at the partnership you had with a certain Gary Pallister and then instill those defensive qualities on the current batch of defenders.
    A mean ‘tighter than a ducks rear end’ defence will work wonders for this team and who knows that fabled word consistency might kick in resulting in Boro climbing the table and maybe just maybe the missing fans might just start to return.
    **AV writes: My bad. But I did put “do the math” in little air quotes. Go figure.

  22. Sandy –
    I think the problem defensively is not just the back four just in the same way not scoring goals is not just the strikers.
    It is probably a team problem, wont be helped by the injuries so we cant get an understanding going. Mogga’s tweaks whilst he beds in new players just adds a layer of uncertainty, whether that will ever change is another matter. In his garden he probably has all his plants in pots so he can rotate them.
    It is no surprise that QPR are doing so badly having used nearly 40 players since Mark Hughes took over.
    Hopefully we will have a few back ready for Brighton.

  23. Do the math? Go figure? Yer jokin arn’t ya?
    I thought I’d accidentally been directed through to a blog about one of these vacuous american teen televisual programmes for a moment.
    Onto planet Boro with our red leader, Mogga. I wasn’t impressed following the Blackpool debacle, however results since (Leicester excluded) have been a little more promising. I have learned to expect the unexpected at every turn in this division, although I will admit to knowing that Scottie would score the winner once it was 1-1 and them down to 10 men.
    Whoever swallowed their pride and patched up that relationship doesn’t matter – I think both parties ultimately deserve credit for getting things back together and the positive impact it had against Watford. On work-rate alone McDonald is worth a game, when you add in his astronomical (in our new bleak house financial reality) wages, it’s ludicrous to have him kick cones around Hurworth all weekend.
    A front three of Juke, Emnes and McDonald would be far too much for most teams in this division to handle, with the optional Juke/Scottie double-act straight out of the Quinn/Phillips school of goal-plundering.
    I have a feeling that they could work very well together as a partnership, and that Scottie is probably the only striker we have with the movement and experience to play off a target man effectively. If he finds those magic boots he was wearing at Celtic then his wages will become less of an issue.
    In terms of something to moan about, despite my natural Teesside hard-wired pessimism I’m struggling. We won before an international break, so no grumbles there. We welcomed back an exile and he scored, no grumbles there.
    I suppose we could start some kind of glass legs grumble about Woodgate? Or the fact that Parnaby Jnr seems to be here only in spirit?
    Speaking of which – any news on our own Mr Bates? How are his ligaments getting along? Is a fresh, albeit much reduced, contract sat waiting for him to sign?

  24. Smoggie –
    When I saw the headline ‘a swift return for Parnaby’ I must admit to wondering where he had been to make swift return from.
    I note that Bolton have dismissed Owen Coyle. Being Scottish and managing a club beginning with B in Lancashire does not have much to commend it as a career choice.
    I will refrain from this peculiar jargon that is coming on to the board.

  25. Best comment of the close season (that is International Break) about Mogga’s team selection came from Ian: “In his garden he probably has all his plants in pots so he can rotate them.” Classic!
    Up the Boro!

  26. With reference to our defensive woes and lapses, things started to go pear- shaped when Bails got injured last season. Without doing the “math” we seemed to drop more points when he was out of the side.
    This season he hasn’t been playing in his accustomed role of just in front of the back back which makes me suspect that our suspect defence would not be so suspect if Bails was restored to the centre of the park. That however would mean that Tommo’s role wold not be a natural fit alongside or just in front as the two never looked comfortable together. Its a similar to the Lampard/Gerrard England dilemma, when one was injured it isnt an issue but when both fit?
    For me restoring Bails to his defensive midfield role would underpin some defensive woes and I’m also tempted to play Emnes wide cutting in and Scott with Juke up front leaving only two more midfield berths of which Leadbitter would be a definite. So who would you select for the final slot. Reach/Carayol for pace when fit? Haroun? Accomodate Tommo?

  27. Ambition in football is a dangerous game and should you fail to deliver on expectations that come whilst attempting to fulfill them, then there is always a price to pay.
    Stewart Downing has discovered it’s not enough to be talented player. A £20m price tag means you must also deliver if you join an equally ambitious club.
    Owen Coyle has also just discovered what happens when you don’t deliver after he jumped ship at Burnley. Steve McClaren discovered it in spades when he followed his ambition to be England manager.
    Steve Gibson (and subsequently Boro) is still paying the price for chasing his (and the fans) ambition of a return to Premier League glory. The question is how likely is it that this ambition can be fulfilled on a budget that decreases every year?
    Boro will need to square the circle of appearing ambitious on the surface whilst being steady and frugal underneath – a kind of upside-down duck. Whilst it’s not mission impossible, there are plenty of clubs in the Championship putting their money where their ambitious mouth is.
    Boro are going to need a lot of luck to clamber out of this division – though Steve Gibson is probably due some luck after blowing his last chance war-chest on Gordon Strachan’s ambitious Scottish experiment. Now he’s hoping Mogga can think his way to promotion rather than spend his way, otherwise Boro’s ambition may only be lip service for the foreseeable future.

  28. Here Comes Mr Grumpy again, (that’s how I’m feeling these days)…
    Watched the U21 game v Liverpool now I’d like to say straight up I’m not knocking any of the kids but these are the obsevations I saw:
    A team sent out with a 5- 4 – 1 formation, a team sent out scared of the opposition, (and I’m pointing at the management) and this showed when the players recieved the ball,where as Liverpool pinged the ball around in a positive manner Boro players had to steady themselves and think twice about where to pass the ball.
    Consequently it slowed the forward play down. There is also an alarming lack of speed at the club, you can set up for counter attack but you need speed/pace to join in higher up the field.
    None of the kids really stood out but I thought Kneeshaw tried his socks off in an impossible role. Bennett always made himself available at right back and looked to get forward, Burgess looks like a Pallister but hes still a little leggy and might be in trouble marking a very quick striker
    Like I said I call it the way I see it. I know its all about results but the fans are staying away in droves and Im sure alot of it is about the way we are playing, its not very entertaining.
    I dont know if they do this at the academy but I would set up a training session for those kids who are a little different, you know the ones who drive you nuts as a coach at times, they try tricks in areas they shouldnt. I think we sometimes give up on them in favour of a player whose steady and you know what you are getting.
    I’d like to see the clever players encouraged to develope those tricks ,those moves they have, give them the confidence to do it at game time, get the crowd up, and frighten the opposition.

  29. As was pointed out pre-slump last season, we’re getting into the blogosphere twilight zone that is general satisfaction. I know I’m generally satisfied.
    Mogga needs to give us something tangible to moan about. Mido is doing nothing at Barnsley – perhaps TM should go and harpoon him.
    Given that we’re in 11th place in the table, it’s quite a feat to be generally satisfied. But it’s an 11th place that is much closer to the top than the bottom in terms of points.
    Perhaps that shows that the notional 10-game watershed is too early for a 46-game campaign. I’m moving my own watershed to 14 games – then we’ll know…
    Or rather not. We’re still inconsistent but so much has changed at the Boro of late that it’s very difficult to get a grasp of where we fit in this daft division.
    Last year we really struggled for goals but were pretty solid at the back. This year the opposite. Last year we looked a promotion side away but bordered on relegation fodder at home. Not this year.
    Last year Steele and Hoyte were the generally (but erroneously?# perceived weak links. This year Steele is our player of the year so far and Hoyte is in with a shout for 2nd place #what do the Gazette stars say, AV?#.
    Last year Scott MacDonald was a drain on the club. Now he’s world class! He is! I’ve read it everywhere!
    Who knows what’s going to happen? I reckoned pre-season that we could finish anywhere from 1st to 10th because I like to be specific and never sit on the fence #ahem). That’s something that hasn’t changed – we can finish anywhere in the top half.
    Oh look there’s a new blog…
    **AV writes: Steele is walking it this year I think. People have a blind spot on Hoyte but he was easily in out top three or four perfromers last year and this. The weak link last year was Bennett – he was vulnerable to diagonal balls aimed high into his zone. He had to let them bounce and too often was caught before he could control it. Opposition coaches all spotted it and started taking advantage.

  30. Mr Gill and Mr Dormo – thanks for your observations – prescient as ever. Especially true about Rodgers’ comments on the Downing situation, Mr Gill – I wondered about that too. What is it about the Liverpool job which makes previously decent managers turn into ‘defend-the-indefensible’figures?
    And, forgive me AV, although it’s not strictly related to the point, I couldn’t resist sharing this which I saw on a BBC blog yesterday – too good not to:
    Playstation controls for Luis Suarez:
    X: Dribble
    Square: Dive
    Triangle: Comical Dive
    Circle: Shout profanity / racist remarks
    R1: Bite
    R2: Handball
    L1: Dive & make contact
    L2: Shoot wide

  31. Surprised that Grove Hill wallah has posted more during the past few hours than for months. New prices to hit the ton, AV?
    Up the Boro!

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