BOGOF Boro Bounce Back With VFM

BORO’S BOGOF battering of hapless Huddersfield proved great value for money. Over the two games – three if you include the Sheffield Wednesday – the club’s initiative on tickets must be considered a success.
Two wins out of three at home, seven goals – including a couple of crackers, two electric atmospheres either side of a surreal shrouded freak fog for the Bristol blip – and most importantly three bumper crowds. Over 28,000 for Wednesday, 20,000 for Bristol and, despite atrocious weather and some mumbling about he City no-show, 21,850 for the visit of the Terriers: that has been a superb result.
Without the offers the crowds for those three games would have averaged around the 15,000 mark. Given the weather, the proximity of Christmas, a midweek game hot on the heels of a sterile Saturday defeat to basement battlers could easily have dipped below the Derby crowd and been the lowest ever league gate at the Riverside. So the ticket offers have to be viewed as a success. And a first step.
It was the first run of three successive gates over 20,000 since relegation. It shows that if the ingredients are there – if the price is right and the team is performing and winning games – then the people of Teesside will respond. It is food for thought for the club.
But what about the punters who took advantage of the deal? They have something to think about too. The win over Huddersfield – the “free” part of the two for one offer – will have restored faith and persuaded them that the deal was after all value for money. Even if it didn’t feel like that after the mist opportunity of Bristol.

Those thousands of lured back lapsed loyalists who responded to the club’s tempting ticket offer must have felt short-changed by the frustrating fog-bound failure of the first instalment – the bit they had actually paid full price for. And you can’t blame them. The first foggy fixture in the two game package was a real grind.
It was a lack-lustre slog against limited opposition and for long spells it was barely visible. Which was a blessing. The Boro on show in that shop window showdown were sloppy at the back and toothless up front – the gushing reports of a new vibrant, attacking and entertaining outfit Boro must have seemed naive and delusional.
But against Huddersfield a different bubbling Boro more than made amends in the second slice of subsidised action as they put in a determined and dynamic display that deservedly took them back into third spot in the Championship with a flourish.
Against Huddersfield they played enterprising football, passed crisply, pressed high up the pitch, defended stoutly when called on and carved out some good chances.
They dominated throughout, set the tempo and shape of the game, scored three good goals, kept a clean sheet and were comfortable over the 90 minutes.
It wasn’t perfect – it was still a bit scrappy around the edges in places – and it was a solid and entertaining display that put them right back on track.
For the long suffering season ticket hard core who have seen the season unfold with a growing sense of purpose and a hint of promotion potential, the ego-bruising Bristol game would have still stung but probably felt like a blip, an occupational hazard, rather than an over-hyped rip off.
But the humbling of Huddersfield – on paper a far better outfit than Bristol City – was far more like the real thing.
Those Riverside returnees who shrugged off several days of biblical deluge to swell the crowd against the Terriers – a third successive home crowd of over 20,000 for the first time since Premier League days – will have this time seen the team they have read about.
They will have seen a well drilled outfit showing some of qualities that have so recently helped build an impressive run of nine games unbeaten that has put them among the front-runners.
Let’s hope they can all be persuaded to return more regularly – and that the club can find a way to make that return affordable and practical – because the key bits are starting to fall in place on what could be an exciting and productive season.
There had been an outbreak of jitters across Teesside after two defeats in a row but battling Boro showed real steel and settled a lot of nerves by beating Huddersfield in style.
And they showed that not only have a good team but also a good squad. And that is crucial to the campaign.
Boro are without a string of key players who are probably first teamers when fit: Rhys Williams and Jonathan Woodgate are arguably the default defensive pairing and George Friend is now nailed on as the automatic left back selection.
Grant Leadbitter has been the first name on the team-sheet in the engine-room but was out suspended.
In previous Championship campaigns losing just two or three first choice players has seen an unbalanced team splutter and fail.
Look at last season when Williams, Scott McDonald and Nicky Bailey were crocked in January: the team immediately looked less effective and results quickly faded.
But this term has revealed an encouraging strength in depth. The squad can cope.
Take Andy Halliday. Tony Mowbray opted to throw in converted wideman as a left-back and was rewarded with a superb display. Halliday, who impressed in the role in pre-season season and the early rounds of the Credit One Cup but had not been chanced in the league, was one of the stars of the show.
He caught the eye with a well balanced display that balanced matched solidity in the tackle and quick to close positional discipline at the back with an assertive attacking instinct and some electrifying weaving runs into the box.
He “did a Friend” and cut inside to beat his man and surge towards the box several times in the first few minutes to put down a marker and leave the opposition nervous when he broke forward.
And midfield enforcer Nicky Bailey returned after a spell in the cold to slot straight back into his role as an impenetrable shield for the back four.
Bailey was last season’s key man. He was the rock on which the team was built and it was his injury that undermined the foundations and saw the season crumble. But this term he has struggled to get into the team with dynamic Leadbitter Josh McEachran – a slick, quick and precise passer – being preferred.
But Bailey stepped in with a confidence and zest and was soon snapping into tackles like he had never been away – wiping out two opposition players with one sweeping challenge at one point.
He was also given the armband which was a managerial mind games masterstroke, underlining Mogga’s message in the Gazette that not only does he still have a role to play but that he remains a key player, a leader and trusted to take on big responsibilities out on the pitch.
Richard Smallwood too stepped in. He started his first league game of the season and put in a tireless display of chasing, snapping and closing down and his solidity meant that while he was in an unusual position wide on the left he added protection for Halliday and could drop back and slot into the gap when the full-back surged forward. It was another box ticked for the Dormo Destroyer who is growing as a player.
Mowbray has shown that it is a squad game. He now has a bigger group of versatile players who he can rely on and that gives him options to play different styles, shapes and tempos in what can be a gruelling and attritional league.
At times it has frustrated some supporters that he shuffles his pack so often and set out his side to counter the other side but the boss gets it right more often than he gets it wrong.
And sometimes he does get it wrong. Against Bristol City he got it wrong. It wasn’t a disaster but it was unfortunate that an offer enhanced crowd saw that out of context.
As the boss has pointed out, no-one is going to win their fixed odds coupon based on the Championship. Results can be crazy with teams from the bottom beating the pace-setters week after week.
All you can do is find some consistency, grind out a result in the next game using the squad at your disposal and build a run of results.
If you can do that successfully playing with a bit of zest and entertain the crowd along the way, so much the better.
Boro are doing that. Bristol was a blip. Huddersfield was closer to the real thing.


32 thoughts on “BOGOF Boro Bounce Back With VFM

  1. I agree with all of that.
    After a period of calming down and quiet reflection, culminating in a timely online hug from Dormo, I rescinded the earlier, knee-jerk decision not to return.
    I’m glad I did. It was a good performance with genuine endeavour, enthusiasm, graft and some great possession interchanges. They worked hard to a man and yes, they provided VfM. Not just because of the ticket offer or the result.
    They played some really good football that was good to watch. Playing as they did, I wouldn’t have expected them to lose or draw, but if they had, I could have more readily accepted such a result as one of those horrible “Championship” statistical outliers. Saturday’s performance wasn’t like that, however. That was just awful.
    I’m encouraged.
    If they played consistently like they did last evening, particularly at home, it must be said, demonstrating the same all-for-one eagerness and preparedness to run (forward) into spaces and create those triangular passing opportunities that results in the fluidity that makes the game “beautiful”, then “the fickle” (or as I’d prefer to be identified, “quality-discriminating”), would be far more likely to exercise the positive decision come match-days.
    I didn’t spend any fickle quids on chips or coffee though!
    It’s a pity Ian Gill couldn’t make it because of work commitments. He might even have considered the £45+ diesel costs worthwhile.
    **AV writes: To be fair, it has been like that pretty much consistently for three months now. Since they got battered at Blackpool in mid-September, apart from Bristol the only real bum note was the game with Derby where they laboured through a 2-2 draw and let it slip late on. Even the defeat against Leicester a couple of days before wasn’t all bad, just a very late lapse in concentration and at Cardiff, although they lost, they played well and were by far the better team.
    And they are a team now. It has been an enjoyable and productive season so far full of enterprising and encouraging football.
    Welcome back into our narcotic embrace.

  2. When is Mgga going to pick a team to frighten the opposition rather than trying to nullify their threat? I sometimes think he overthinks things when selecting the team. That said, we have the best squad in the division,and Mogga’s on track. UTB.

  3. AV –
    I agree with nearly all of that, my only caveat is that the result against Barcelona City on Saturday was totally and utterly needless.
    It was ill conceived in design and execution. Before the match on Saturday, after seeing the line ups I text John to say I suspected the first half would be dire and it would improve when we returned to a better line up with Scottie in the team.
    All week we had been saying don’t play Hoyte left back, why not try Halliday or Reach on the left. We were playing a rubbish team, confirmed by a shocking display last night. But that was only a small part of the problems. In the event we were abysmal.
    Before last nights match I again text John and said the line up looked good. Sure enough we gave a good performance against a far better team than Barcelona City.
    That is what is so frustrating, City didnt come and give us a football lesson. Sorry they did. KISS – keep it simple stupid.
    I am not trying to be clever, the exact opposite. It is Rafa Mowbray.
    I suspect it is a bit like Doctor Who when he leaves the lady somewhere and says don’t touch anything or go anywhere. You know they will sit there twitching and do the exact opposite of what they should do.
    I remember the Don Comillo books about a rural priest in Italy. He would appear with a devil whispering in one ear and an angel down the other in his battles with the local communist mayor. Every now and then the devil won and he ended up paying penance to God.
    Mogga is doing a great job but he drives me barmy at times. We will get beaten because other teams will play better, there is no need to set out to play worse.

  4. Not wishing to reheat an old argument but I think that I am entitled to a right of reply to Richard’s riposte on the last blog.
    One sentence perfectly captures the essential difference between our view points. “Football competes with other leisure distractions – even good football!” “Football” may, Boro doesn’t.
    In the early 90s it pains me to say it but Newcastle were undoubtedly the most entertaining team to watch in the country. So are you telling me that they were ever in competition with Boro for my cash? Fat chance.
    Clearly following your logic, they were for yours. No issues with that, your right to choose and in the not too distant past there were many who routinely attended matches by all of the big three (we haven’t actually got a big one in the North East but that is a different matter) who would usually preface an inquiry into their allegiances with “actually I don’t have one particular team”.
    The starting point is cultural identity, suggesting that that can be changed like switching from buying your grundys in Marksies to Tesco on the basis of perceived value simply doesn’t wash, there is no comparison.
    This is far from blind faith as anyone who has had the unique pleasure of sitting in my vicinity during some of the club’s darker days will attest. As for your closing comment “if you really cared about the club…”, an incredible over simplification, both reductive and insulting. Frankly I prefer my sermons on a Sunday thanks.
    Still glad to see you back in the fold and that you got to see a more typical performance last night. Hopefully when you have inputted all of the relevant performance/satisfaction indicators into your spreadsheet the macro will dictate that we see you again.

  5. Fear And Loathing In North Ormesby
    A savage Journey to the Heart of the Premiership Dream
    We were somewhere around Birmingham on the edge of Spaghetti Junction when the Parmo’s began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive. …” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge Jim White’s, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about 100 miles an hour with the top down to St Andrews. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?”
    Then it was quiet again. Uncle Eric had taken his shirt off and was pouring Lowcock’s Dandelion and Burdock on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. “What the hell are you yelling about?” he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. “Never mind,” I said. “It’s your turn to drive.” I hit the brakes and aimed the Gazette Mobile toward the shoulder of the M6. No point mentioning those images, I thought. The poor bugger will see them soon enough.
    It was almost noon, and we still had more than 100 miles to go. They would be tough miles. Very soon, I knew, we would both be completely twisted. But there was no going back, and no time to rest. We would have to ride it out. Press registration for the fabulous SKY Friday live game was already underway, and we had to get there by four to claim our soundproof suite.
    A fashionable sporting evening daily in The Boro had taken care of the reservations, along with this huge red Chevy convertible we’d just rented off a lot on the Teesside Industrial Park … and I was, after all, a professional journalist; so I had an obligation to cover the story, for good or ill.
    The sporting editors had also given me 30 quid in cash, most of which was already spent on extremely delicious Parmo’s. The boot of the car looked like a mobile Newboulds. We had two bags of midget pies, 75 Saveloys numerous Black puddings and dozens of Sausage rolls … and also a quart of Vimto, a quart of Irn Bru a case of Newkie brown and a Cherry B in case we came across a female hitch hiker.
    All this had been rounded up the night before, in a frenzy of high-speed driving all over Cleveland County — from Tollesbey to Pallister Park, we picked up everything we could get our hands on. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious munchie collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
    The only thing that really worried me was the Boro. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of a Boro foam hand binge. And I knew we’d get into that rotten stuff pretty soon. Probably at the next service station.
    We had sampled almost everything else, and now — yes, it was time for a long snort of foam. And then do the next 100 miles in a horrible, slobbering sort of spastic stupor. The only way to keep alert on foam is to do up a lot of Vick’s Sinex — not all at once, but steadily, just enough to maintain the focus at 90 miles an hour through West Bromwich.
    “Man, this is the way to travel,” said Uncle Eric. He leaned over to turn the volume up on the radio, humming along with the rhythm section and kind of moaning the words: “Guy Mowbrays, Red and White Army …”
    **AV writes: Brilliant. #muchjokes as the young people and my attorney say.

  6. Great result, see we went back to two ‘animals’ in the middle.
    Good article AV, worth reading just for the ‘mist opportunity.’ Loved it.
    **AV writes: It was an open goal.

  7. Good on you, Richard! Glad you made the right decision! The football we played last night typifies what we’ve been doing most of the season. Seriously impressive at times and very entertaining.
    Now, have you any mates out there in the doubting fraternity whom you could persuade to return to the fold?
    Methinks the economic situation is so dire that we are likely to return to around 17000 against Wolves in a couple of weeks, even if we do well at Brum and P’boro. We’re going to need all the offers and all the returnees we can get.

  8. Is Scotland short of left-back options? Hardly a host of left-backs pushing their way into the manager’s thoughts? What a good ploy Mogga to have another international on the books. This lad will keep Friend on his toes.
    It will create a healthy challenge for that slot. The change to Halliday’s position is a pure master stroke and needs to be applauded well done

  9. Agree with much of your analysis of the match AV,definitely less ups and downs than last season.Ian Gill makes a good and telling point about Mogga’s tendency to over -think and over complicate our play and tactics.
    One look at the ‘nerve centre’ in this week’s club magazine illustrates this perfectly; whiteboards,computers, charts, stats, tv… where are they going, Mars? Clarity of thought and action are precious qualities in an age of information overload, saturated data. We should remember they are tools to help us to decide, analyse, not an end in themselves.
    What I have learnt this season with my own eyes and experience of watching the Boro, is we play well if we are up tempo, play short passes with good movement, make few changes to the defence (unlike on Saturday) and press higher up the pitch.
    Ledesma is the most improved player at the club. No doubt they are graphs, trends and stats to confirm what I have just written. Yes, look at the opposition but keep it (it being tactics) proportionate, clear and relevant. It is a simple and fluent game or should be.

  10. Last night’s result was no great surprise. The team went back to playing the way they have played all season, a way they understand.
    Why we went long ball against Bristol is beyond my comprehension. Certainly the players were not happy and the end result was predictable. Bristol City will not garner an easier three points all season, they were comfortably back to normal last night losing 0-2 at home.
    Methinks Tony Mowbray worries too much about the opposition. Yes you have to look at how the opposition play and maybe change your style a little, but against Bristol we just handed them the initiative. Lets not blame the players for an insipid display but the system they were asked to buy into.

  11. Great to get a convincing win and allay the doubters once again.
    I was at the “Deepdale Deluge” earlier in the season and was impressed with Halliday at left-back. I’m glad he’s grabbed his chance in the first team proper.
    With the Bristol City game, I can understand why TM was reluctant to play Halliday – Adomah is their biggest threat by a distance. Despite what people say Hoyte has “done a job” there before, such as against Sunderland last season.
    I also think the criticism of TM’s selection in that game is a little off the mark. No-one was complaining when he picked four forwards against Sheff Wed and, although it didn’t work, I don’t see why you can’t play two tall strikers together. It’s not like Miller and Juke are the same player – height aside they’re quite dissimilar. I don’t believe that TM would have gone against everything he’s worked towards with us and asked the players to “lump it up to the big men”. If I’m right then it’s really the players that are to blame there.
    Anyway, onwards and upwards and hopefully we can get a result against Birmingham. With the Blackburn and Sheff Wed victories we seem to be getting over our TV-game blues of past seasons.

  12. The best comment I can make about Halliday’s performance last night is that having missed the team sheet being read out I was under the impression that he was Adam Reach for the first hour.
    Whenever he is interviewed he seems genuinely delighted just to be here despite a traumatic start that would have broken lesser characters and determined to make the best of whatever comes his way. I hope he makes it, he deserves his chance.
    I still think that keeping him away from Adomah on Saturday was a necessary step to protect his fragile confidence (I remember a young midfielder (Keith O’Halloran?) being monstered by Paul Simpson and Marco Gabaddini on his debut and effectively ending his career at this level) but huge promise for the future. Now, what’s that term we use when the manager plays someone in a new position..?

  13. Dennis –
    Thanks for the mention.
    I am sure some people think I want Boro to lose. Anyone who has seen me after a defeat knows better. What is even worse is my wife treating me like a two year old but she has a point!
    Brum on Friday and the scene of one of our worst performances last year. In truth one of the worst I have seen from a Boro team. Oddly we had a bizarre line up in a sort of 3-5-1-1 as follows
    McMahon, Bates, Hines
    Hoyte, Thomson, Bailey, Arca, Bennett
    Within 20 secs it was clear we were playing 5-3-1-1. Horrid. Hoyte was not the player he is this season and got nowhere near the halfway line, midfield were totally over run or rather over strolled with Thommo and Land Crab showing their sprinting skills.
    Hammill was drag backing for the country, Juke looked like he does sometimes – legs swapped sides.
    Hopefully we will see the real Boro this Friday.

  14. Good observations AV. And a cracking game to warm us all up on a bitterly cold evening.
    Yes, I agree, that was the real Boro, the 2012/13 version, and hopefully the tempted back refusniks might be tempted to give Boro another chance. I hope so. I have enjoyed seeing the Riverside swathes of empty seats filling back up and we must hope that those fans make an effort to return, even without the offers.
    After all, we can’t keep putting on offers such as thes; we have to trust that the Mogga revolution is the key that fits the lock which lets those hesitant fans back through the door.

  15. Yes any BORO fan will be over the moon with a big crowd at the stadium. Its been a great idea. However , you dont need to be Mystic Meg to predict the result when you see the team selection. I have eyes just like the rest of you.
    Simple rules to follow ,
    1. play Scott macDonald unless he is injured or exhausted. Last seasons dip in results after Christmas were not just down to Baileys injury- McDonald was injured too.
    Scotty pressures the opposition high up the pitch and brings other players into the game.
    His movement off the ball is outstanding. Thats how he is in the right place to nick a goal so much.
    He should have been on from the off against Bristol – so should Bailey . those two players give so much it would have changed the game and inspired the rest of the team to get stuck in.
    I think the first 12 games where Mogga froze McDonald out were foolish. After all the 2-2 with Derby we should have won, Leicester didnt deserve the 2-1 win as they didnt look all that. the 1-0 loss to Barnsley was just poor. and playing Miller and Emnes up front together gives us nowt as we lost 3-1 to milwall and 4-1 to Blackpool.
    Now some of you may think that a striker or two upfront will only alter the amount of goals we score. Wrong. If a striker holds the ball up ,brings other team mates into the game , keeps the opposition on the back foot and scores and makes goals . well that together with a great work ethic inspires the team to Ante Up!
    No more tinkering Mogga. no more Hoyte is playing well at right back so lets put him on the left.
    Villa’s highest league position in years was when Martin O’Neil played the same starting 11 for 19 games . Yes the opposition new what to expect but his best players all on at once were too good for them.
    Keep it simple and lets not worry about the opposition too much. If we lose like we did at Cardiff then fair enough. For those who are hard of hearing -LISTEN.

  16. Really pleased to have helped you make up your mind, Richard, and glad that it all turned out right in the end. That was a much more characteristic home performance than the game against Bristol City.
    Let’s all do it again for the game against Wolves – the next home game!
    And a hint: whilst not terribly anxious to deprive the club of revenue, and whilst appreciating your comments about the chips/fries and coffee in the ground, you could always try one of the concessionary vans like to one near the roundabout at he north-west corner of the ground.
    I suspect it pays a fee to the club to be there anyway as it is parked on the corner of the club car-park, and it does chips rather than fries. Not exactly Whitby/Saltburn fish-shop chips, but at least they have at some stage originated in a potato.
    The club gets the benefit of another supporter paying to see the game, the team gets the benefit of one more voice to add to the throng and help the feel-good atmosphere, and the supporter (you) get to enjoy the naughty feeling of having had a less-than-calorie-free snack prior to watching the team march on to victory. I think they call that a “result”.

  17. Andy R –
    A valiant effort but Mogga’s words were that he wanted to bypass Bristols five man midfield and get the ball up to the front men quickly. Can I make it any clearer than that?
    Yes we played four strikers against Sheff Wed but he didnt play two big men and have two non overlapping full backs. That resulted in lobbing the ball forward.
    Hoyte can do a job at left back but with no width elsewhere once again it comes back to launching it. Halliday is a professional footballer, you can see why Mogga didnt want to expose him against Adomah. I cant because Adomah ran riot in any case.
    Old enough, good enough.
    It was a shocker and Mogga has held his hands up so lets move on.

  18. Spare a thought for Andy Flower.
    Ashley Giles has just been appointed coach of Englands one day cricket teams and hopes to spare Director of Cricket from burn out.
    Tough life having to go to places like West Indies, South Africa, Australia and India. Staying in top quality hotels, having an army of peole look after you, no stupid queues at immigration.
    That means Flower will probably oversee a dozen test matches and retain a watching brief over the one day side. Nice work if you can get it but it will have it’s own pressures away from family, open to public ridicule, little job security.
    Off to scrape ice off the car!

  19. All back on track after another impressive display. Lucky for me all the Friday games are on tv this side and we seem to be popular for Friday games lately.
    Yes Mac and the Juke have proved they are the right combination up front. All round the squad looks good with options in all positions.
    Getting very exited and why not we have a great chance of getting up this season.

  20. As I now only go to a slack handfull of games per season I don’t think it is fair to comment on specific performances. However, it seems obvious that we should be keeping hold of SM at all costs.
    Top goalscorer, plus several assists, he and Lukey Jukey should play together whenever possible. I know you AV have stated regularly that he is costing a shed load of money (to paraphrase) to keep on the books but if we sell him in January who with any comparable quality, affordability and value is there to replace him? Tricky blighter the January tranfer window.
    The current Championship contenders are an extremely mediocre bunch and if we hang on to Scotty I think we have our best opportunity of winning an automatic promotion position.
    Down the pub tomorrow to watch us against Brum, probably an audience of one again. Our record against them away is extremely shakey, I have memories of a heavy 6-1 defeat against them in ’67, a great year though in many other respects. Home match next week though against Posh, few beers first in the excellent Cherry Tree.
    With regard to the chips / drinks etc. chitchat, it has always bemused me the number of people who feel the need to queue for ages in the concourse for overpriced, very poor quality food and drink. Still, it is their right to do so and I would defend that right to their death.

  21. And whilst on the subject of food and drink, it always seemd to me the best thing to buy at the ground was a pork sandwich. Two thick slices of pork with some apple sauce and some stuffing, in a bread bun. Not even the added complication of butter on the bun. Difficult to mess that up, really.
    I have suggested before that if you know 10 women, five or six of them will be on a diet at any one time. Burger and chips or a meat pie and chips probably amount to far too many sins to ennumerate. But a choice of sandwiches like you get at a filling station – those triangular boxes – or wraps, containing say chicken tikka, tuna mayonnaise (low-cal), egg and cress or ham salad, and the job is done.
    One for every taste and no time needed to cook or wait for the food to arrive (“just waiting on the burgers/chips mate”), just the time it takes to lift the sandwich from the rack behind and plonk it on the counter.
    We appear to be sorting it out on the field. Now we can turn our attention to the commestibles on offer. Drinks can wait for the New Year. (A group of us counted the grains of coffee in the paper cup just before the hot water went in at the last game. In the absence of an abacus, the three of us had 27, 29 and 30 grains in the cup, as reading glasses were not available. The coffee was, to put it neutrally, rather mild in flavour).
    The aim is to have a good team, at the top level, in a decent stadium, with quality food and drink available for the attending masses. Not only a football revolution, but lifestyle revolution for the Teesside paying public.

  22. A great result after the Brissol game. The #mogganaut is back on track.
    Very delighted with Andy Halliday. The other one of our £100 000 left backs! I think our squad is strong enough – and the emegence of Holliwood was a nice surprice again by Mogga.
    I agree totaly with Andy R (November 28, 2012 3:11 PM). The players were to be blamed. Not the manager.
    Also I’d like to add that we played well on TV at Cardiff a while back. So looking forward to seeing Boro on TV on Friday. Up the Boro!

  23. These cheap ticket deals are great. But i will be expecting some deal for next season for loyal season ticket holders who pay upfront no matter what will happen. and keep the club going through the bad times.
    Lets get ticket prices down to £16 and knock £100 of the season ticket prices. a drop form 28,000 to 20000 for those ‘two for one’ games was disappointing. Novelty started to wear off.
    Let’s see what happens when ticket prices return to normal. Will these fans still be here if we were not looking good for promotion. If we do go up they will be in for a shock when they see how much tickets are in the top flight.
    Charging prices less than conference prices is not sustainable. Too many cheap tickets means a season ticket is not worth buying.
    Hopefully those part time fans who came and spent loads of beer stick with us and not just turn up for a promotion winning away game or a £200 weekend in london for the play off final. Bet if we go up they will be happy to pay £27 to see the likes on Man Utd and Chelsea.

  24. Better performance Tuesday due mainly to better players ie Bailey, Halliday, Mcdonald…. Macca is a better poacher than Emnes and goes in where it hurts and Andy at LB was a revelation.
    Hoyte against Bristol was poor ie when he got forward instead of getting to the byline he kept backtracking on to his right foot, also Bailey should be a regular as he is great at closing down and tackling which is needed in this league compared to McEachran who is neat and tidy but little else. On paper the next two Brum and Posh look nailed on but this is the Championship remember.

  25. I felt you were being a little harsh to single out Hoyte for his performance against Bristol City, boro1953.
    I think nearly everyone had a very mediocre game that day, and Hoyte was just one of the many. I don’t think the improvement on Tuesday was because we had better players in the team (Bailey, Halliday, McDonald), but simply because those who had played in the previous game all played poorly at the same time.
    I agree that Bailey closes down and tackles. The problem for that position is that Leadbitter has played well in that role for the last 3 months and must be fairly near to player-of-the-first-half-of-the-season. McEachran is a different player, more creative, someone to thread the ball through to a forward on the run. I suppose if Mogga thought we needed 2 ball-winners in the midfielf he might pick Leadbitter and Bailey together. And then there’s Smallwood…
    In the old days, there were cricket games like England v XXII of Kent or XI of Surrey v XX of London etc (largely, it has to be said, on the backs of substantial wagers on the results….a sort of handicapping system!). The depth of our squad inspires some confidence now. If we could have a pitch that was 125 yards by 100 yards, I’d put money on our best 22 beating the next best 22 in our league!
    **AV writes: Hoyte played c completely different game v Bristol than he would usually play. Not only was he on the left rather than right but Boro were going far more direct with early diagonals to the two strikers – that meant there neither any space nor any reason for the full-backs to push up or overlap.

  26. I am totally in awe of GHW for his ‘fear and loathing in North Ormesby’ piece. Outstanding stuff!
    And Vic also for the brilliant ‘mist opportunity’. Open goal or not, there are plenty who would have scuffed it wide.
    Two incredible examples of why I keep coming back to these pages.

  27. AV –
    In defence of Hoyte
    1 He wouldnt have got time to push up before the ball was launched upfield.
    2 Marvin was launching it as well or cutting infield and doing multiple stepovers.
    3 He probably had Mogga’s words of Adomah ringing his ears.
    4 By playing quickly and long creates space between attack and midfield and dfence for the oppostion to play and break in to so was possibly more mindful.
    Add that to your coments and it gives a bag full of problems for just one player!
    Tempo, press, move and pass tonight please. If we get beaten because they play better fair enough.

  28. To understand Master Tony you must understand The Art of War. He approaches each game according to its principles.
    The Bristol City tactics were to surprise the enemy with an unexpected attack. Heavy aerial bombardment was the last thing city would expect from slick passing boro. Expecting city to park the bus, he chose to shake them with an aerial assault instead of trying to pass through them.
    A clever plan: get an early goal and city will have to come out. Then we rip them to pieces on open ground. It only failed due to city’s failure to park the bus – due to a lack of tactical awareness on the city boss’s part. Trust in Master Tony – he understands The Art of War.

  29. MasterTony – fair point. And you should know.
    Smogon –
    have you identified SG from the posters already? If he reeds the blog he must write sometimes, too.
    I will go for a 1-3 win tonight. Emnes double and one from McEachrun. Up the Boro!

  30. Mogga’s line up looks as strong as we are likely to get at the moment.
    Gorgeous for Halliday and Woodie for Hines are about it for any changes.

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