Lady Luck Puts The Boot In At Bolton

BORO were unlucky today. No. No. No don’t laugh. Don’t throw things. I know that as defeat after defeat piles up because of poor finishing or poor defending the debris looks largely self-inflicted. But I don’t think we have really blamed fortune before. Fair enough, put the boot in if they have played poorly but this was different.
Boro were playing well and after surving an early barrage had settled and were slightly edging a very close game at the break. They were playing well in midfield witrh Richie Smallwood industrious and effective and Carayol looking very dangerous. They were working hard, had stifled the Bolton threat and started to carve holes in their defence.
Then a woefully mis-hit Eagles cross screwed high and wild and dipped into the goal beyond a rooted Steele. It was a total fluke, no matter whathe says. And it was against the run of play. Boro quickly clawed back a leveller with a Dyer header from a delicious Carayol cross and then almost immediately were pegged back by a dodgy penalty.
Tricky Korean wing Lee cut in from the left and did well to get to the byline then cut inside and as he poked the ball square he appeared to stand on Woodgate’s foot as the defender moved across to block, then stumbled forward and crashed into Hoyte’s challenge before Steele saved Sordell’s shot.
When the whistle everyone was surprised. Hoyte’s challenge looked fair and Lee was already falling over when it went in. Woodgate hadn’t made contact and, if anything, he had been caught by the Bolton man. It was apoor decision. And the pivotal one.
Result: Woody booked, penalty awarded, they score. It was a gift. Then, to add insult to injury, five minutes later Woody was legitimately booked – for a daft challenge on Sordell wide out on the flank well out of the danger area – and was pedalled and from then on Boro were right up against it. The ten men gave it a decent shot and had a few scrappy half-chances but never really had a grip on the game.
Damn you lady luck. Boro played alright against a form team and will think they deserved something. The deciding factors were a flukey slice and a questionable penalty decison. But that will be hard to sell to the public. And teh end of the day, whatever the mitigation, Boro lost again on the road. They haven’t won away this year, have taken one point in 11 games and have now got the worst tally on the road for 23 years. They are also on course for the lowest finish since that season, back in 1990.
More later…


43 thoughts on “Lady Luck Puts The Boot In At Bolton

  1. I thought we played well in patches, and certainly we were a match for Bolton most of the game. I was at the wrong end to be able to judge the rights and wrongs of the penalty, but I did think Woody’s sending off very harsh. I also thought Steele might have done better with their first goal.
    However, lucky or not, we really didn’t create enough in the second half. Apart from Dyer’s fine goal we had only one shot on target – from the outstanding Carayol early on in the half. Consequently, once Bolton went 2-1 up, we didn’t really look like coming back, despite putting them under a lot of pressure.
    McDonald, and later Emnes, worked hard enough, but they didn’t get much service and were largely ineffective. We are crying out for a regular goalscorer.

  2. Sounded like Carayol played amazing and was to much for Bolton at times. I just wish Tony would of played Reach instead of Ameobi and to bring Emnes on instead of Main was madness
    Two games to go now lets give the youth a chance to see what they can do.

  3. We should have had a penalty before them as well. Even my four year old spotted the handball!.
    Pretty good performance today. Genuinely very unlucky. I would actually offer Dyer a deal for next year. He makes Ameobi look even worse than he is.
    Only gripe – why not give Reach, Main, and Luke Williams some game time? Surely it could only help them for next year? Or are they not seen as good enough? Seems bizarre to me. Any thoughts Vic?
    **AV writes: I think Luke WIlliams is injured. The other two haven’t always done it when they have started which is why they usually feature on the bench and only get occasional cameos but I think Reach should now definitely be playing ahead of someone who won’t be here next year (and who wasn’t very good again today).

  4. I actually think Main and Reach have been much more effective than Scott M and Ameobi recently. I think the Aussie is getting played in the hope he impresses some scouts. No other reason to play him at the moment.
    **AV writes: He has missed a dozen sitters in the past four or five games.

  5. This season has been a total embarrassment and we are the laughing stock of the division. I know because i dont live in the cloisters of the Boro and have to mix with fans of Hull, Leeds ,Sheff W
    Since January we are 8pts worse than Bristol City who are down. Forget today. It is irrelevant. Again poor choices of personnel. Why Woodgate? He is a waste of time as he wont play every week and so we will never have a settled back 4. And he has 2 years left! Why Emnes to come on? Why go to defend when we are under no pressure and just needed to go for it? Why no Reach again?
    i could go on.This manager is clueless as how to proceed with this team and it will be the same next year. Poor manger in charge of an increasingly poor championship club.
    **AV writes: Wea re not the laughing stock of the division, we are a sideshow earning little more than a raised eyebrow from those who have noticed our slow-motion slide. Blackburn and Wolves (and Forest until Mad Billy came in as a football difibrilaor) are the laughing stocks of the division. And maybe Leeds.

  6. McDonald or Main? McDonald’s performances on Tuesday and today were very poor. Main and Muzzy frighten the life out of teams in this leagie. Raw power and pace. Mistakes yes but they create space and chances.
    **AV writes: We haven’t seen Jutkiewicz attacking Carayol’s crosses yet. That could be tasty if they get the understanding right.

  7. Well that’s the season now officially over for us and safety from relegation, just (it looks like 55 points may not be enough for those below us for certain).
    The summer revolution needs to start now. Two competitive games left to tinker with for next season and see who can make an impression and stake a claim. Surely the loan men should be superfluous as of 5.00pm tonight so lets see some of our own.
    When the dossier is compiled into what went wrong lets hope it is honest and in depth enough to look on and off the pitch, from the Tea lady to the Chairman with the management and coaching sandwiched in between. No stone left unturned. If anyone believes they didn’t get anything wrong and have no room for improvement and change then hopefully they will not be here come August.
    Things didn’t just go wrong in 2013, it wasn’t a case of unlucky 13, there have been a series of repetitive errors that to this day are still being made and still haven’t worked. Pride comes before a fall, if the coming changes are not the right ones then we can expect another major implosion come the Autumn.
    A squad of players don’t suddenly go from 2nd place in the Championship to the worst record in all the leagues because they have lost a bit of confidence. Its a lot deeper than that. Question is are the management even close to knowing what went wrong.
    From where I’m sitting I’m not convinced yet but the next 12 weeks or so will tell.

  8. I think some honesty has to be said around here, we can all agree we are the worst team in the division right now and I ask myself why?
    The starting line up today had,two former full English Internationals in it, three current U21 internationals, one former U21 international and two current Australian internationals so there is experience and what other people in the game at the highest level believe are talented younger players,
    They should all with ease hold their own at this level. How many other teams at this level would you say compare? Yet we are the worst team, by a mile. Absolutely unacceptable,
    On another note wached the Hartlepool game today and they had three kids playing who on this showing wouldn’t look out of place in our squad. In fact their left back Holden is better than Friend now, similiar to Joe Bennett, Baldwin a classy player reminded me of a young Michael Carrick and James up front worked Brentfords defenders hard, so maybe there are a few gems out there.
    **AV writes: I believe Boro have watched Luke James a few times. I’m not sure about the others but I would imagine they have. That scouting data base is building up nicely now.

  9. Redcar red, –
    I agree, get rid of the loanees now but to an alternative career as a dental cleaning thread! A bit harsh.

  10. So as the mathematics of the playoffs move from real and irrational and then to imaginary numbers, the knockout blow is finally landed and the season is now out for the count.
    Whether Boro can bring in the players needed for Mowbray to consistently play the way he wants to and achieve promotion is still uncertain.
    Many of the departing out-of-contract players will only allow a couple of incomings as FFP reduces the budget from this season.
    It looks unlikely that there will be any takers in the PL for Scott ‘I missed a dozen sitters’ McDonald (his wages will not be entertained elsewhere)
    Also project Emnes seems to be only ever a target for Swansea – but his form as dipped alarmingly and he wouldn’t command an offer of even remotely half the touted £4m of last season.
    Despite his lack of goals, there seems no plan to move Jutkiewicz on and Main is earmarked for the future. So will our ineffective strike-force of this season (albeit minus Miller) still be here for next season? we can only hope something materialises.
    Then there’s talk of the need to sell a few assets to fund the new ‘core’ players – the problem is that these saleable assets are also likely to be potential core players (Steele, Rhys, Friend, Reach) – expendable players will not raise funds.
    In a recent interview Mogga bemoaned that Cardiff were not that good a side, but their strength lies in set plays, with 33 goals coming from having players who were good in the air from corners and throw-ins.
    That may be the problem Boro need to face as we may not be able to bring in enough technically good durable players to play our way out of the Championship – Will Mogga be more pragmatic next season given what he’s learnt?
    Boro can’t wait another year to free up more space for new players as the reducing FFP budget will eat up any further savings the year after. Perhaps the only way around the FFP restraints of next season is to payoff the rest of the unwanted players before next season begins.

  11. For once, I didn’t go to the match (I’ve not seen a single point won so I’ve had enough for this season). However, watching on telly, I completely agree with your assessment AV. I hadn’t read your blog first and came to the same verdict independently.
    Y’know there’s not that much wrong with this squad and they’re a lot better than this year’s results. As you always say, it’s fine margins and if the player’s confidence and morale wasn’t so battered, they would be achieving more than they have in 2013.
    With four or five better players in during the summer, especially Mogga’s ‘core’ players, and watch us go.
    **AV writes: I may just be hysterical as we reach the end of a long hard season (and it may fly in the face of recent results) but I am feeling positive about next year. Or it could just be Stockholm Syndrome.

  12. I know that it is difficult for me to say a lot when I do not get to see the majority of the games, however going by numerous reports I have read, only one team looked like winning yesterday, and Boro have not beaten Bolton in the last 12. Lady luck AV, you have to make your own, and in TM maybe we have an unlucky manager.
    However the one thing that disappointed me the most, I did not expect Boro to get a result, was the lack of use of some of the fringe players. By all accounts Amoebi has only had one decent game, his first. Yet you yourself wrote recently of the lack of game time most of the players in the midfield / forward positions have got.
    Would it not have been better to have said to Reach, Main, or whoever, right you are going to play the next three/four games, show me what you can do. From reports I have read, Amoebi has been poor to say the least since that first game.
    Again last Tuesday Williams and Bikey played well, but Tinkerman brings back Woodgate, what for, is TM trying to justify his signing by trying to increase number of games played?
    The manager still has much to prove to the majority of the fanbase.
    **AV writes: I agree it would have made more sense to play Reach than Ameobi who has disappointed on his last few outing. Bikey got a knock on Tuesday against Forest so was only touch and go which is why he didn’t start.

  13. “**AV writes: I think Luke WIlliams is injured. The other two haven’t always done it when they have started which is why they usually feature on the bench and only get occasional cameos but I think Reach should now definitely be playing ahead of someone who won’t be here next year (and who wasn’t very good again today). ”
    (The above is Vic’s reply to Edinboro at 9.37pm last night)
    The point I would make is that, if “always doing it when starting games” was a selection criterion, virtually none of the Boro players would get picked at all. I could understand NOT giving Reach, or Main and the others a start, if the players in their positions were tearing the division apart. But they are not – and haven’t been doing so since the turn of the year (so it’s not just a “blip”, a “poor run”).
    You might expect a player with youth on his side, but with little “game-time experience” to improve as he gets more games. Is Dyer, for example, likely to be improving? But one thing we can say with conviction is that a player who remains on the bench or isn’t even in the squad can hardly be expected to improve.
    If the team is losing a lot more than winning, what is to be lost by giving the youngsters an extended run in the side? So, we lose another game? Well, we lost anyway, so no change there.
    At least there might be some hunger evident. And, you never know, some of the youngsters might just step up to the plate and grow as players. Let’s ask again: how many times has Smallwood let us down when he is on the pitch? Should have had more games.
    McEachran will go back to Chelsea with some games under his belt (even if, for an attacking midfielder, I don’t think it’s greedy to expect him to have contributed a few goals to the tally over the course of a season). He is not good enough to get into the Chelsea first team and, if he looked like being anywhere near, he’d inevitably be supplanted by some international midfielder parachuted in at great expense.
    It might sound a little harsh, but his time on Teesside will have served to knock a few edges off him, so he can be sold on to a Championship club with more money than Boro, but improving McEachran probably won’t have done much to improve Middlesbrough.
    And did someone above say that Cardiff aren’t all that good? I’m afraid the evidence of the league table proves they are a lot better than Boro. Maybe not that their player X looks on paper a better player than our player Y etc throughout the team, but they are a better TEAM than us.
    They play better together irrespective of the individual qualities of their various players. The whole is better than the sum of the parts. They have spirit to get through periods when they are under the cosh in games, and then run to other end to score a winning goal. They come back from behind, They grind out results.
    That is why they will go up to the Premier League as champions whilst Boro fans wonder how low in the table the team will end up.
    I suppose the saving grace of the current position is that a bullet has been put through the skull of the twitching promotion corpse. Whilst it kept on twitching you’d hear people say, “Well, if we win our last four games….it’s still possible” (ignoring the fact that you’d need a long memory to recall our winning four successive games, and also ignoring the fact that the scenario still involved our competitors losing games as well).
    At least we can give “promotion” a decent burial now.
    Let’s look forward to 2013/14. We don’t do that by playing loanees and others who will not be here next year. Let’s play the ones who will be here, who want to be here, and who might (with some game time) be moulded into a decent unit next season.

  14. AV –
    Stockholm Syndrome? Stockton Syndrome, shurely…….
    Also, LukeyJuke getting on the end of Carayol crosses – well, yes, but only so long as Mogga hasn’t ‘split’ him out to the same wing!!
    Reach for Ameobi? Absolutely!! But, yet again, the lad isn’t even on the bench.
    The ‘gulag’ that has been a running feature of this season and began with Aussie Scott as its first internal exile has now swallowed Reach and Luke Williams.
    We can only hope that some others we could name bypass that stage and go for immediate deportation before the Charlton game.

  15. Stockton syndrome – capture and subsequent recruitment of Stocktonians into the SAFC fanbase by agents of the afore mentioned club. This irrational behaviour has been well documented by Dr. S Gibson who believes the condition to be widespread in the town, although his concluding notes said “he wasn’t that bothered about it”.

  16. Im sorry AV but this season is unacceptable in a number of ways.
    1. This is basically our managers team ok apart from a couple so no excuses there then!
    2. We have consistently been told by the club our players are as good as any in this division so why this disaster?
    3. Watford, Brighton, and Hull have had similar or less money than us so no excuses there. Oh and Charlton and how many more before the season ends?
    4. Where is our chairman and his direction for this club? Mmmm very quiet.
    5. The on field tactics have been woeful this year and who takes the blame?
    6. I know like Brownlee on the radio you people at the Gazette daren’t criticize the running of Boro so who do the fans have to ait their voice?
    Before you say AV I had an ST for 30 yrs. my first game was in 1961, I have a video taken from a cine film my dad took v Plymouth in 62 and saw Big Jacks Side, the resurrected Boro and Robbos revolution so dont say i dont know what I am on about.
    This whole situation is pretty appalling and this season is just a reflection of it, You said a wider malaise. You are right and it runs through this club from the very top.

  17. Another defeat, no matter how “unlucky” we appeared to have been. I can’t wait for this dreadful (second) half of the season to come to its natural conclusion. I’m not optimistic next season either, and that is a first for me; usually the eternal optimist.
    I think Mogga’s words are discouraging for me. his latest buzz word is “core players.” He must have said it at least four times in his latest interview. It’s as if he’s just had a road to Damascus experience and realised that the definition of “team” is core players who work hard to compete and support the three or four non regulars that filter into the side week in week out.
    Alongside his “it is what it is”, this one is set to run! Oh, and we already have the usual “we have to sell before we can buy” mantra. Boring, boring. We all know that! don’t rub our noses in it!

  18. Geoff Young at 5.41 pm
    “….you people at the Gazette daren’t criticize the running of Boro so who do the fans have to air their voice?”
    I’m sorry mate, but I must take issue with you over this. AV has been consistently one of the loudest critics of Boro’s performances this and every other season. He’s a fan like the rest of us and feels the disappointments of this season as keenly as the rest of us do, and he has never minced his words when it comes to telling it like it is. His are always the first reports I turn to because I know I’m going to get an honest review.
    Equally, AV has regularly spelled out the direness and reality of the financial situation at Boro. We know exactly where we stand.
    And please don’t forget the instrumental role AV played in setting up the fans’ forums that met with Gibbo and Neil Bausor. This has already resulted in changes to the stadium configuration and to the ticketing initiatives.
    I’m no apologist for Mogga, as fellow bloggers will know, but I don’t blame AV for sometimes sticking up for him; AV has a fuller knowledge of the situation than any of us will ever have, and is able to point out all the mitigating factors that have affected Mogga’s managership. I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusions, but I do think we have to give AV real credit for what he writes and what he has done.
    **AV writes: Aw shucks. People who think their position is the only possible true reading of the situation want the media to echo them exactly or we are all puppets and part of the spin machine. They have no time for balance or perspective. Unless you write “SACK THE BOARD” in six inch letters across the back page you are obviously in the club’s pocket.

  19. I have never seen that before, a player biting another then apologising for doing it.
    Apart from the apology and the fact it was caught on camera I can see no reason for the FA punishing him. The fact he scored the equaliser at the end of seven minutes of six minutes of injury time just makes it funnier.
    Luckily for Ivanovich the linesman didnt see him deliberately putting his arm in Suarez mouth. Sorry he doesnt play for Boro.

  20. “This has already resulted in changes to the stadium configuration and to the ticketing initiatives. ”
    All well and good and AV is well intentioned but it does have a strong whiff of – after the horse has bolted syndrome. These fan friendly initiatives would have been less cynically received if they were delivered whilst residing in the Premier League.
    And the bottom line is this; unless the product on the pitch is acceptable all other belated, shallow PR stunts will be entirely, and ineffectively futile.
    It is just so much window dressing and insulting to people’s intelligence to believe that such measures will suffice in the face of the overwhelming evidence, that the major impairment to future progress at the club is the maintaining of the status quo.
    Tony Mowbray is the major hinderence to this club’s progress and should not be put on the pedestal of being bigger than the club.
    It is a thoroughly unhealthy situation but one with AV apparently concurs.
    *AV writes: Don’t be daft. No one is “bigger than the club”. But there is a major rebuilding going on at the club of which Mowbray has been the architect. The club are committed to that. They have been reshaping their finances over the past year to fund it. To remove him now would be a major set-back. I believe that if the club are successful in what they are doing then it will help move them towards a healthy, sustainable model. And I’m not sure there are too many alternatives given the current financial landscape.
    As for your other comments, you are right to some extent? The stadium rejig, the pricing tweaks and a move towards some engagement with supporters ARE years overdue. But they are happening and that is a good thing surely? And yes, whatever PR initiatives are undertaken ARE hostage to fortune and totally dependent on results and performance on the pitch. That is self evident. So should we do nothing and just wait for an upturn?

  21. There is a lot of talk about the back four the problem is they have all been out injured at some stage of the season.
    Bikey is what he is – excuse the pun – and looked good along side a resurgent Williams who in his own right is a good player in that position.
    Williams is a gamble as is Woody as they have both proved down the years with lots of time out.
    Now Woody is banned. Thats a new one – a central defender banned never.
    So there’s the problem you cant keep Williams and Woodgate. One of them is taking up space in the squad. I would keep Bikey ,Friend and Hoyte but one of the other two have to go.

  22. A good post Paulista.
    The continual poor performances by the defence has for me been the biggest team let down of the season, and something I have touched on more than once or twice. Jack Charlton used to say, you start with a point and that is the least you should end with, mainly by keeping a clean sheet.
    There were a few who said Boro were boring but we scored plenty of goals.
    That is what makes it difficult for me to comprehend, when TM was a decent league two CH. He also “complained” that Cardiff had scored 33 goals from set pieces, which confirms PP´s scoring stats this season. It is as though that is not the way to play football, it is just not cricket!
    I have also mentioned in the past that although Leadbitter takes inconsistent corners and free kicks, TM does not seem to want to have an alternative.
    Can the manager learn from his mistakes and be more flexible in his approach to games and team selection? I certainly hope so.

  23. Paulista Park –
    I’m fast becoming a fan of yours!
    Tacticians on here and everywhere should note your STRATEGIC, big picture observations. Including Tony Mowbray.
    Weekly (and weakly) tinkering doesn’t work if the underlying strategy has been wrong. The League is a long term competition that requires more than a patchwork approach or just deciding whether 442 or 424 looks better on paper on any one afternoon.
    You, I and others can only wait and hope that “The Current Project” embraces the essential elements you identify and that the squad rebuild and their coaching provides for the qualities and numbers of players that it’ll take.
    Because of budgetary constraints, I remain sceptical. Hopeful. Not expectant. Hopeful, but sceptical.
    That’s because on the basis of recent historical evidence, there is a difference between Gibson’s public rhetoric, designed, in my opinion, to maintain the hope and gate receipts, and the reality of the failure to deliver.
    I’ll be absolutely delighted to be proved wrong!
    **AV writes: Slowly but surely Richard was being lured back by the blogosphere…

  24. ‘Stockton Syndrome’, another excellent phrase to add to the Boro lexicon.
    Reading the Gazette’s reporting of Mogga’s take on the Hoyte contract situation, my reading between the lines is that Hoyte will be offered another new contract but on less than he has been paid this season.
    Reading all the different opinions on this blog just shows how hard a managers job is. Everything is subjective and players abilities can be viewed so differently. timfromsa believes Woody should go and Bikey retained, personally I wouldn’t pay Bikey in pigeon droppings. I also think Woody has a role to play as maybe the third centre back.
    Anyway, the season is over, time to concentrate on bbq’s, cricket and then have some fun predicting who is out and who is in.
    As for the opposition, can QPR survive in the Championship? A £20m parachute payment won’t go far on a wage bill where two players between them are paid £10m pa.
    As for Cardiff, it will help Boro’s cause if they are next season’s QPR. As FFP kicks in the more teams coming down with big debts and big wage bills the better for those operating on a sound financial model, now where are my bbq tongs and cricket bat?

  25. Paulista Park –
    The day we beat Cardiff 3-0 to burst their promotion bubble I made the same comment about appearances. The top six all had similar stats to the ones you mentioned, if I remember rightly we had three who crawled over the 30 mark.
    Mogga was shuffling the pack following the Strachan era to get us safe so that had an impact. Injuries were a concern then but if you buy players with poor records that is what you get. If Woodie were available for 40 games a season he wouldn’t be here.
    I didnt realise at the time Mogga loved a shuffle so much but lets hope he can get a strong core to the team over the summer.

  26. If we are going to get back to the Premiership with this Rag, Tag and Bobtail outfit, then the manager will have to become MogGyver.
    The adventures of a Championship Manager. Armed only with Duct tape, a magic sponge, hollow Biro tube and various hairgrips and paper clips.

  27. AV wrote: “They have no time for balance or perspective.”
    Geoff Young’s point was that the Gazette articles usually aren’t showing balance and perspective. That doesn’t seem unfair to me.
    Gazette reports have sometimes slated the players as a collective, but not as individuals. They do not question the management of the club, at any level. They do not even question the manager’s playing style or tactics, which many fans seem to, rightly or wrongly.
    It’s OK that you see things differently from Geoff Young, but I don’t see the Gazette’s answers to any of his six specific criticisms. All of them seem to be valid questions to be asked of the club. So why aren’t they being asked?
    Paulista Park’s piece above is the best analysis I have read of the current predicament. Why can’t the Gazette write stuff like this?
    Isn’t it Geoff Young and Paulista Park who are doing the “balance and perspective” job, rather than the Gazette?
    There may be reasons why the Gazette takes the position it does, but balance and perspective don’t seem to be among them.
    **AV writes: I think all those points HAVE been addressed at length and repeatedly this season. The finances, the problems of the patched up squad, the relative position of Boro to other teams especially so. And while Gibson has not yet gone on record with a set piece in-depth interview we have asked him the big questions and his opinions on the situation have been relayed quite clearly in the Gazette. , twice in the past month alone. And there will be another bit on Wednesday based on his reading of where FFP leaves Boro placed for next year. That is good content of genuine interest to Boro fans that no other media outlet is getting.
    You can’y say that the Gazette does not offer a voice to the fans either. With this blog and the comments on our stories on the website there is plenty of opportunity for fans to ‘have their say’ and join the debate and I’m sure Tees would argue the same with their phone-in and fans panels. That there is no coherent, organised voice of supporters at Boro IS a real problem (poor Rob Nichol often finds himself in that role by default) but it is for fans to answer that themselves through either a Trust or a galvanised group around the fanzine.
    At root the problem with questioning a football club, or a manager is that they are not obliged to answer, certainly not to answer a question the assertive way many fans would ask it – and they are adept at avoiding doing that. Just because you are not hearing the answers you want does not mean we are not asking the questions. We have asked Mogga about his selections, his shape, the security of his future. But there is no legal or statutory obligation to answer. We can’t slap in a Freedom of Information request over why Mogga is not picking Reach.
    I will put my hand up to to the fact there is very little detailed tactical dissection on here and in the paper. I’m not sure there is a general demand for anything overly detailed from our readers (although I accept there is a Football Manager generation who trade systems and shapes as second nature).
    I have no problem asking the questions about shape or set-uo or tempo or substitutions or why a game panned out in a particular way and then relaying how the manager answers (that is my job after all) but I don’t feel qualified to tell him why he has got it wrong.

  28. Thanks Perdo and Richard.
    I couldn’t find any stats on set piece goals scored and conceded for this, or previous seasons. They would be useful to have. I wonder if the Gazette boffins can help AV? Failing that, is Harry Glasper still doing the rounds?
    **AV writes: We don’t routinely keep records of how or what area of the pitch goals are scored. Maybe we should. I’d be surprised in this day and age there isn’t some stats site or other that keeps a comprehensive data base.

  29. Mythbuster –
    in order to question or challenge the manager (whoever he is) on tactics, style of play, team selection don’t you need to know what you’re talking about yourself? Unless someone is keeping quiet no one on here is a qualified FA coach.
    Being a fan and watching football does not make you a qualified coach. Football tactics at Championship and Premiership level are incredibly complex, we as fans see things we dont like and assume poor tactics are to blame.
    It might be the player isn’t sticking to the tactics, it may be he isn’t good enough to consistently apply them. I dont think we have an issue here where the manager has his tactics wrong, more likely we have a squad of players who collectively aren’t good enough to get promoted.
    Using Cardiff as an example of how to get promoted made me smile, how many seasons did it take for them to succeed? How much money have they spent building a squad capable of promotion?
    Mogga’s tactics can clearly get a team promoted, they did at WBA, so they can at Boro. The key is putting together a squad which is good enough. I also don’t think that Mogga’s player selection is an issue, given enough quality players I dont doubt he’d pick the same core seven or eight every week. But at the moment we dont have a core of players good enough.
    Over this season I’ve read posts lambasting Mogga for leaving McDonald out because when he played he scored a few, but McDonald hasn’t played well for months, he’s an over rated, over paid player. Those posters claiming McDonald should have been in from the start of the season were wrong.
    Look at Emnes, no one on this blog posted back in the Summer that he should be sold or that he was a ‘confidence’ player and playing him was high risk because at some point his confidence would drop. That was because no one new that, if he’d been half the player this season he was last we’d be in the top six now.
    Your wrong in slagging the Gazette off for not challenging Mogga on tactics, because to challenge his tactics would be to ask the wrong question.
    We’ll get promoted when we have a squad who are good enough, the tactics are a side show. In my opinion if Carayol, Rhys Williams and the Jukebox had been fit for most of the season we’d be in a different place right now.
    **AV writes: I remember a now departed member of the regional press corps from one of the nationals get absolutely minced by Steve McClaren after aggressively questioning him for using one up front at home.
    One problem is that tactics are not right or wrong per se it is the application that is at fault. Many of the tactical “sins” that the manager of your local club gets accused of may well by the same set ups or approach used by Real Madrid or Arsenal where they are lauded as being key to success.
    If someone is a coach or is a keen tactician – or is Jonathan Wilosn – and wants to write a regular column spotlighting particular aspects of the game feel free to shout up and I’ll try and arrange the gig.

  30. I agree with Nigel Reeve’s comments re Mowbray’s tinkering: Steele, Hoyte, Woodgate, Williams, Friend, Leadbitter and McEachran have all almost always played when fit. I suspect Carayol would have been the same. Part of the problem has been availability.
    We’ll know more next season if the manager is able bring in more players of similar quality and if we can keep the bulk of them fit.

  31. Away from all things Boro.
    We normally go away for week around this time but Mrs G’s work has delayed it. Multiple meetings. So we came up with sundry options but due to even more important meeting we have a very tight slot.
    Not a problem because I can enjoy a holiday nearly anywhere but as we discussed the severely limited options she uttered the words that chilled me to the bone.
    Dont worry, ‘it is what it is’.
    I have just come out of a calm room with muted colours. I should be ok, it is after the season ends and before the window opens.
    The question lingers, does she understand the significance of those words?

  32. “AV said: ‘there is very little detailed tactical dissection on here and in the paper. I’m not sure there is a general demand for anything overly detailed from our readers”
    I would certainly appreciate a little more tactical detail. As much as possible. I’m reasonably confident that the many erudite and informed readers of this blog would enjoy the same.
    The more the tactical approach is explained, the more we can appreciate (or not) what the team are are least trying to do. I accept there will always be a gap between theory and execution.
    May we have a show of virtual hands in favour?

  33. I’ve had enough of this rubbish about who is, or not good enough, whether or not the manager knows what he is doing. I have been watching the Boro for many years and right now they are crap, please censor this as you see fit AV.
    TM has to carry the can, we are pitiful!Goals conceded is abysmal! I don’t need to have a UEFA coaching badge to see we are lacking in the basic football skills. The league table doesn’t lie, Charlton are better than us, look at the teams at the bottom who have taken points from us. We should think our selves lucky we are still in the Championship. I’m afraid I don’t have any confidence for next season.

  34. After pretty much four months of dross I don’t really think it matters. The players confidence has been sapped away and with it a lot of my energy for caring too much at this point.

  35. I’m not even angry anymore. Just apathy really. If that. The season fizzled out weeks ago. More frustarting than last year but not as soulless as the last month or so when Strachan’s side wrote off the season in (they were rubbish away from home as well). So it is not a totally unprecedented sleepwalk. “It is what it is”.
    Let’s get this one out of the way, have a break, recharge the batteries get some new faces in and prepare for next season’s disappointment. Always next year.

  36. The close season is here already. Mogga has started to shift players our; Julio Arca is first to go in a Boro summer clear-out as Gazette reports.
    At least we have something to look forward to – the transfer gossip. Can we sell Scotty Mac and invest in a new goal-getter in the summer?
    As said by some posters the goals scoring wasn’t our biggest problem (until recently) but all season we have leaked far too many goals against. So that’s the priority – starting from a right back.
    AV, have you remembered to cancel your hotel reservation at Wembley now as we suprisingly (?) did not get there?
    There is always a next season for us, fans. Up the Boro (in 2014)!

  37. AV –
    Still trying to get my head around this FFP. I understand you can only spend based on income (right). So if we sell say Williams, Emnes, McDonald, Haroun, Steele,and receive say £10m for them I presume its legit income that then will boost our ability to pay higher wages etc?
    if so, then I can see where this is leading to,for all clubs at this level,
    **AV writes: Yes, transfer income is legitimate revenue along with commercial activity, sponsorship, merchandising, TV and gate money. Investment in Academies and youth development is ‘free’ and doesn’t count towards club expenditure in the audit.
    There’s a good bit based on a discussion with Steve Gibson in the Gazette tomorrow outlining how bullish Boro are positive about FFP. In short it will drive down wages and fees within the Championship leaving them able to improve the squad and still cut overall spending while the parachute payments will not cover the bloated wage bills of those coming down lumbered with highly paid and very difficult to sell players.

  38. Also agree with Nigel.
    While our slide has been disappointing to say the least, moreso has been the vitriol and anger that Mogga has had to put up with. He’s had an unenviable task and far exceeded expectations in the first half of the season.
    People can harp on about tactics as much as they like, but the simple fact is our season turned on a few away games in and around xmas – Birmingham away, Cardiff away, Leeds away, Leicester away. Games we dominated and threw away. I watched us tear Leeds to pieces at Elland Road, it’s quite unbelievable that we didn’t win that day and haven’t won away since.
    If we had players that were reliable and put could put the ball in the net, we’d have walked this division this season. Simple as that.
    People use McDonald as a stick to beat Mowbray with but the facts are he’s been poor again this season. In fact the only time he has been consistently good is after Mogga froze him out. Until we get him and McManus and probably Bailey off the wage bill, this isn’t Mogga’s team. Then he can be properly judged.
    The attacks on Mowbray from some of the fans just make his job even harder, though to be fair you wonder if it is a silent internet minority sometimes, because the loyal fans who go the games have continued to show their support.
    Roll on next season.

  39. Forever Dormo said “And did someone above say that Cardiff aren’t all that good?”
    Yes, and that someone was our Manager Tony Mowbray. Speaks volumes.

  40. It will be interesting to read the Steve Gibson’s FFP piece – Though it’s still going to be pretty tricky this summer to make the savings made from the out-of-contract players leaving to stretch to the amount of new players needed.
    I think Boro will have under £2m to play with once next season’s FFP limit kicks in – though if McDonald can be moved on then the task becomes easier.
    I guess we should be able to attract fairly decent up-and-coming players on wages at around £250k per year but if we want players with that bit extra then we may be looking at double that.
    Then there’s the need to factor in a few loan deals and of course that leaves no transfer budget as such. That’s probably why Mowbray is considering selling the odd asset or two – otherwise he may not get everything he needs for next season.
    **AV writes: By my calculations, in order to do it smoothly and successfully one of the big earners will have to go to bridge the shortfall. Ideally that would be McDonald. Or maybe Emnes who may bring in £2m AND save £20k a week.

  41. CroydonBoro –
    The problem with football tactics is that they don’t translate well into words, they are better illustrated in pictures and by training drills. A good analogy is a game of chess, imagine trying to describe the rules and moves, counter moves, variations etc of a game of chess.
    I had a conversation once with a guy who was a qualified UEFA Pro coach who had been Arsenal’s youth team coach and I believe was subsequently offered the same role at Spurs. He explained how complex tactics in the premiership and championship can be, down to how players move into certain positions off the ball depending on whether the opposition has it or one of their own players. If one of their own players has it they move to take up positions depending on where he is on the pitch, who he is and what his role is, what direction he’s moving in, what the opposition are doing to counter etc. Its incredibly complex but what we fans see is eleven guys running around at random, which hopefully they are not!
    After last nights result my son announced to me that Barcelona are past it, Messi, Inniesta, Xavi anyone? I can see them ‘doing a job’ for the Boro in the Championship, even if they are ‘past it’!

  42. There are players still under contract next season who the club are keen to get rid of. They would love to sell them or loan them out to save some wages, but the reality is that the only way of getting shot will be to agree a Thomsonesque payoff.
    AV – how feasible is this? Would such a payment be classed as shareholder equity investment for the purposes of calculating the FFP Fair Play result?
    **AV writes: I’m not sure. It wouldn’t be extra spending, it would be existing wage commitments over a set period paid up early, less a sum agreed with the player. There may be an advantage to the club in making those kind of payments now so they go through the account this year before the FFP wriggle room is used up and penalties start to apply.
    Generally players sit down with the calculator and work out the optimum point when it is in their interest to leave. If they have a year to go on a contract worth £1.5m for instance, if they can move now and get a new three year deal worth the same then they don’t lose out by taking a pay-cut and have the security of three years employment. At that point it may be worth their current club releasing them on a free to save on the wages, or if they are stubborn, maybe giving them say £250k to swing the maths decisively in favour of moving.

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