Your Call: Predict Boro’s Season.

NAIL YOUR colours to the mast. Put your money where your mouth is. Read the runes, study the form, monitor the transfer market, consult the metrics of a wage curve spreadsheet, impose wishful thinking and little bit learning on the fixture list, go with that funny feeling in your waters or get a pin-sticking infant to pick at random.
Any method you use to predict the Championship could be better than following the bookies odds in the most erratic division division in European football


Last term, of the top 15 favourites with the expert odds compilers ONE got promoted. One got relegated. And one was Boro! Draw your own conclusions from that. That and the still smarting thought that after the great £10m summer spending spree and Great Strachanovite Jockification Boro were red hot favourites to walk the league. And we all know what happened then.
Last season’s Oddschecker prices looked like this:
Bolton 13/2
Leicester City 7/1
Wolves 8/1
Blackburn 10/1
Cardiff 11/1
Leeds 11/1.
Nottingham Forest 12/1
Brighton 14/1
Blackpool 16/1
Boro 20/1
Sheffield Wednesday 22/1
Birmingham 22/1
Charlton 22/1
Watford 25/1
Huddersfield 33/1.
Hull 33/1
Burnley 33/1
Ipswich 33/1
Derby 40/1
Bristol City 66/1
Millwall 66/1
Crystal Palace 80/1
Peterborough 100/1
Barnsley 200/1
Champions Cardiff looked a reasonable bet (if you weighed up the money they were spending against the turmoil of trashing the clubs history and identity and colours for a marketing device) but second placed Hull were 33/1 and play-off winners Palace – who had finished 17th the season before – were a 80/1 long shot. A lot of daft quid “delusional”,”foam-fingered ra-ras” cashed in big style. And good for them. Wild eyed optimism in fans deserves to be rewarded once in a while.
But we can’t draw too many lessons. Especially from how the bookies size it up. One angst ridden Holgate veteran berated me unsolicited in the milk aisle in Asda because Bournemouth – BLOODY BOURNEMOUTH! – were better priced than us for promotion!
The one thing we know from the last few seasons is that every team, every game, every week is in a permanent chaotic state of coupon busting flux. It is a crazy division that should have “fine margins” as its official motto. We know that it is not quality, excitement or magic that will decide the promotion and play-off places but boring functional consistency and grinding out results when you are not playing well, preferably in the second half. It is a division that is impossible to call.
But call it we must. It is in your nature and cultural DNA as a football supporter to make sweeping pre-season statements. And its in my job description. So, shrug off the weight of despondency and apathy and focus on the campaign to come.and make some tentative predictions. If you want to look at this season’s title odds here they are.
For my part, I don’t share the widespread sense of impending doom. Yes, the sluggish recruitment drive has been frustrating and is far from ideal. But few other teams have spent much money in what has been a cautious summer and a stagnant market in the shadow of the impending Financial Fairplay limitations. And the relegated team have their internal destructive dynamic to deal with. And in QPR’s case, Joey Barton too.
And the signing Boro have made have been exactly the kind of solid additions needed. Not fringe players and bodies to make up the numbers but physically and mentally strong first teamers. A few more of those – and there is a month to go.
As it stands Boro have a good first XI when fit and a decent if not spectacular bench, That can be said for most Championship sides. The key could be keeping the most important players fit and they have taken action in that by recruiting specialist fitness and conditioning coaches with a reputation for shrewd management of recovery and rehabilitation. It is about marginal gains. Fine margins. Professionalism. Of course, the proff is in the pudding and many of the more cynical won’t believe it until they see Boro turn out the same side on the spin through a solid run of victories.
I understand fans’ fears and frustrations – but I don’t understand the Apocalyptic vision of imminent implosion and a relegation battle. There is nothing to fear in a division of flawed teams packed with inconsistent players. We have seen year after year that whatever the bookies and pundits predictions – and supporters’ fears – the Championship is an attritional scrum in which any team can flourish and succeed. No one gave Burnley, Swansea, Blackpool or Palace a chance in August.
Boro need a good start and a spark to ignite the passions of a simmering crowd and burn off the cloud of negativity. They need to find a shape that works, some consistency, some self belief and some momentum. And I think they can do it. They have a point to prove. As does the manager. He needs to be confident and assertive in his selections of squad and system. And he needs to be lucky. He needs to get off to a winning start to head of incipient dissent and get the ground and team buzzing.
Yes, I am by nature an optimist, Or at least, not a pessimist. And certainly not a miserabilist. I don’t believe every other team is a mighty force to be feared, a legion of crack players far better than our own puny weaklings. They are limited too.
If Boro are organised, motivated and – crucially – if the club is united then the play-offs are possible. I know they are fairly big ‘ifs’. Of course they are. It is the nature of the beast. So sod it, I’m tipping Boro to be up there and challenging. Put me down for a late surge to finish sixth. Or seventh.
That is not because I am filled with unbridled enthusiasm. I’m not. Some of the prevailing pessimism has seeped in by osmosis. But I do think come September 2nd when the window shuts Boro will have stronger team that they do now. A stronger team than they had last year. And that is the key. Stronger, more experienced and with a few of the flaws ironed out. And that’s all you can do on a budget.
We may not quite make it; let’s face it, as well as the parachute powered big boys there are maybe 10 teams with the same capacity, ambition, resources and targets as Boro and if will be a battle to get past them. But I think we can finish strongly, tick a lot of boxes and make serious progress ready for the next Great Leap Forward. That Groundhog Day tape loop existence on the teasing edge of ambition is the natural state for a team like Boro now. There is always next year. Unless we throw a double six this time. Who knows? Not me, that’s for sure..
But there are some things I would like to see:
The emergence of a hero: I want to go to matches believing there is a creative player who can be a genuine match-winner, who can spread a bit of magic and inspire hope and optimism with pace or trickery or zest or something. Muzzy, come on down.
A trademark celebration: After years of shot-shy sitter squandary it would be electrifying to see a player go on red hot streak, to foster hero worship, chanting and an instantly recognisable bi-weekly victory dance.
A miserly defence: how good would it be to put together a run of clinical clean sheets. Four, five, six shut-outs on the spin. More. Several times. Let’s build a reputation for a water-tight defence, home and away.
A new kop culture: Iet’s put the post-Premiership relegation hangover aside, stop feeling sorry for ourselves and find a new proud defiance, either spreading from the new South Stand noisy seats and the Red Faction or fostered in the new Twe12th Man bar in the North Stand. Or at away games. Or from the West Stand. Wave your tartan blankets. Let’s start to enjoy games unconditionally again.
A new generation of beaming fans: the club have been brave in creating the new family zone and invested a lot of time and money in it. They have taken a big hit financially as family groups have moved from other more expensive areas to take advantage of ridiculously cheap prices. Face paint, jugglers, art, mascots, Play Stations and popcorn may not be everyone’s idea of matchday culture but it is all geared towards nurturing the next generation of life long loyalists. We need them. Encourage them. Indulge them. Wink. Ruffle their hair when you pass them. It would be nice to make the Guardian’s family friendly list next season.
A new unity: We’ll get nowhere as a club so long as we are divided amongst ourselves, fan v fan, fan v manager and owner… yes, there is a symbiotic thing and we need the team to deliver on the pitch to provide a spark. And the club to actively try to engage with fans in and honest and transparent way too. But we also need fans to drop the default cynicism and meet the club halfway.
That’s what I want, think and believe. And hope. And wish. But it’s that time of the year. Who knows, Marvin might have his head on. Now its over to you….

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39 thoughts on “Your Call: Predict Boro’s Season.

  1. My biggest concern is we are still allowing too many clear-cut chances to the opposition,even in pre season Steel has had to be on his toes, We have got to start defending better all over the field,including the guys upfront forcing the issue.
    Also Mogga has got to decide on a formation that suits our players,and not get too bogged down on what the other team may or may not do.
    I would think our best eleven ,top seven or eight but we all know injuries ,loss of form etc happens and that’s the dilemma, We are desperate for two genuine fullbacks that can defend,and some speed upfront,otherwise
    Lets get at them
    **AV writes: Boro were unbeaten in pre-season and only let in three goals – and two of them went past Ross Turnbull at Rotherham.

  2. Well I am relieved Turnbull passed us and went to Doncaster. There is a guy with a passion to progress for sure who seriously would have been pleased to see him in goal in the championship.
    Looking forward to Saturday with sonme unease, would be lot more confident with at least one CB brought in, but as has been said in previous blogs we just have to wait and see ….here we go again

  3. Here we go again. Can’t. Bloody. Wait.
    The whole match-day routine. The beer. The banter. The arguments. The moaning. The abject misery. The unbridled joy. The fine margins.
    Honestly? I think we’ve had an average summer. On the plus side, two very solid “core” signings that will make us competitive and hard to beat. Another plus, we’ve shipped out the expensive designer deadwood and the ones that didn’t work. Slimmer squad, slimmer wage bill. We’ve also got rid of the entourage of moaners, drama queens and twitter trolls following some of those deadwood players. No names. So its been a summer of good work on that front.
    However, on the downside, not enough recruitment yet. Still short a centreback, a right winger, a creative midfielder and a striker or two – of which at least two or three of those should be “core” players – starting line up week in week out. I hold out hope we’ll still get them in given the month that remains, ideally on a permanent deal. Who knows, it might be easier once Boro are in the top six…
    Great work by the club as well off the pitch. Big screen. South Stand revival. Generation Red Zone. Twe12th Man Bar. Free pints. Banksy style redecoration. They’re pulling out the stops to improve the match-day and its got me a little bit excited. I hope the fans get on board and it generates that little bit of buzz and togetherness. Little things like that show the club ‘care’ and are engaging supporters. So good on you.
    But it all comes down to what happens on the pitch, as always. I think we’ll start solidly, a few clean sheets, a few wins, one or two defeats but nothing to get wound up about. I think we’ll lull around in the top 12 but just flirting with the playoffs all season, with a late optimistic surge that might see us go to Yeovil saying “If we win, and Leicester don’t get all 3pts, we can still do this!”. That for me will be a good season.
    We didn’t do it at the first (or second, or third…) attempts, so now we have to do it the *right* way, which is to build every season, progress every season. So progress for me will be a good, strong, solid season – no alarming post-Christmas slumps – which gives the fans hope.
    Sorry, I’ve waffled on here. All you wanted was a number wasn’t it.
    Prediction: 7th
    **AV writes: Good upbeat but level headed early contribution.

  4. Its hard to predict how we will go at this stage.
    As I said earlier and a couple of times last season that our starting eleven is as good as anyone else in this league – but they wont play every game and some of them only half the games.
    If we can get some more signings in with the type of experience of Whitehead then i would give us every chance of making top six. But they are not there yet.
    So I will go as far as we will win 2-1 at the weekend.
    Mid-table at most with current squad, higher up to top six if we get the support from the fans and those three to four decent players we need for 46 games.

  5. I’m genuinely looking forward to this season, because I’m inclined to think that we should do well.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’d bite your hand off to be in the running for sixth with a couple of games left at the end of the season, but I think we will be okay. I seem to be immune from the cloud of misery and despair that seems to be emanating from the Boro fans up north.
    I really think we have some quality in the team and if we can stay fit and the fans at the Riverside aren’t quite so miserable all the time (I only go to away games being a born and bred Southerner based in London so tend to see a more positive attitude than on my occasional trips up north) we might generate a few of those storming runs that see teams soar up the table.
    Lets stay positive and hope for the best.

  6. Go on AV, I’ll bite.
    I largely agree with all of your comments above. I’ve not been unhappy with any of the players who’ve gone and positively pleased a few of them have left. At the end of last season, with the exception of most of the Academy players, I don’t think you could have argued had any of them been sold.
    That said, hanging on to Leadbitter (so far…) has been a big signal of intent as far as I can see. We all know we need a few more in – the manager has said as much in pretty much every interview recently – so why are people so convinced we won’t get them? Even ignoring signings from other clubs, look at the PFA’s list of released players and free agents. There’s plenty of good options on there and Boro will be a decent bet for a lot of them.
    So I think we’ll be there or thereabouts. True, I always think that, but the team looks stronger and more solid this season. If Williams and Muzzy and Juke can stay fit, if Woody can play more games, if the new-look midfield turns out to be as solid as it looks, if Marvin has his head on, if the wind is behind us in every half of every game….. we’ll be ok. I think we have a decent chance of being in the promotion shake-up, maybe play-offs at best but who knows? There’s nothing in this division; nothing between most teams.
    Whatever you think of him, Mogga has a history in getting teams up from this division (and then relegated from the Premier League, admittedly, but let’s not dwell on that for now hey). I honestly can’t believe people don’t think he’s spent every minute since last season finished – probably before – pondering what went wrong and looking to put it right. Surely he deserves that chance?
    The fact that the idea of giving the manager a chance has people on (cough) other message boards calling you a ra-ra/foam-hander indicates how important it is we start well. There’s a real pessimism around – but we’ll be ok. I’m away in Lithuania for work at the moment but I’m flying straight home on Saturday morning and I’ll be there.
    Incidentally, my mate is a Leicester fan. Had an email from him this morning panicking about the new season – too many players out, not enough in, manager not up to it, finances a mess, we’re doomed, doomed, doomed I tell you. Sound familiar? It’s not just us.
    Keep the faith. Mogga can do it. And when do Boro ever let us down?!

  7. I’ll go with that funny feeling in my waters and say we do well like Palace did last season. So minimum play-offs but I would predict us to finish 2nd from top. You read it correctly – I predict an automatic promotion.
    I trust Gibson’s (Steve & even Ben) and Mogga to succeed finally. We cannot do as badly or unluckily as during the past two season. We are due some luck. Mind you it is not 2013 anymore come May.
    So around the top ten all year and improving when the 2013 is behind. And hey, we have got rid of Boyd and McDonald – the finances are corrected finally and we can move on. We have done this before (Charlton, Rioch/fmttm etc.) in the 2nd tier.
    So AV, no need to book a hotel for Wembley play-offs. Up the Boro!

  8. AV writes ‘Mogga must be lucky’. Hmmm.
    Well I wouldn’t accuse him of not working hard but my worry is that he’ll work too hard and never settle on the same side twice.
    The fans will forgive the team losing (occasionally) if we’re organised, committed and positive – too much waiting to see what the opposition are doing before eventually lumbering to attack after conceding will only encourage the boo boys and disenchant the Ra Ra’s.
    I hope Mogga isn’t so intent on watching the traffic lights change that he stalls the car engine and is left behind on the grid.
    A successful season will be built on a parsimonious defence, if anyone is going to be a hero it’s likely to be whatever gnarled, part weathered oak, part ravenous beast of a Frankenstein’s monster of a CB we can sign. I think Whitehead may quickly become a favourite assuming he’s allowed to get stuck in.
    Prediction? 14th in September, 10th at Christmas, sixth in May.

  9. RE: Rob’s comment:
    “The club let me down like thousands of others over the past five years”
    I’m interested as to how. I’m the first to admit I’m an optimist, a ra-ra, but this theory interests me. Yes we got relegated, we we didn’t bounce straight back. But I don’t feel let down by the club. I feel like we’re in that cycle of football that happens to every club accept the bank rolled top four.
    We’re not owed anything let alone success. We didn’t set out to get relegated and we didn’t aim to fail at promotion so many times. It’s just a mixture of poor planning, naivety, risk tasking and the general unpredictability of sport that has seen us where we are.
    I don’t feel like I’ve been let down by the club in anyway too be honest, nor that I’m owed success. We’ve got an honest chairman trying to do his best for the club – whether I agree with his methods or not is a different debate entirely. If he was purposely making decisions to the detriment of the club, THEN I’d feel let down.
    This isn’t a dig by the way, everyone is entitled to their opinion on the Boro and to spend their hard earned cash however they see fit, I just find the mentality interesting.
    Should probably do some work today…

  10. 10 out 2 in. Leading striker as yet replaced. Smaller squad, stronger central midfield though. All the hallmarks of a first placed finish.
    I’ll call it. Boro for the title.
    New Season. New Hope. COB.
    What are football teams and sleep for? Big time dreaming!

  11. Heading back to reality – on the transfer front AV
    Adomah is being liked on Sky with a 1m bid – you have previuosly laughed this on off with a 20k wage from Wigan, any change here or just an old cut and paste job on their part?
    Vaz Te is aslo being linked, with 12 goals from 16 for WH, depending on the price this could be a great target for us. Any joy here?

  12. Well you always need a wet blanket to quench the flames of pre-season optimisim. Here it is.
    All the talk is about recruitment and a job well done in moving players on. With no strengthening at the back or adding creativity in mid-field recruitment has a long way to go. I know there’s a month ’til the window closes but points lost now will be just as valuable as points lost at the end of the season.
    Personally, I’d only see success in moving players on if we’d got some money for them or moved them on, free of cost to us, before their contracts expired. We didn’t. They got to their expiry date and expired. Against these criteria we’ve not had a good close season.
    Last season we couldn’t defend set pieces. Last season our forward(s) was/were often isolated up front with a static mid-field holding shape well behind. Why should this season be any different? We still have the same coaches and have to trust they’ve magically discovered a new skill set.
    Last season Mogga was accused of square pegging and tinkering. The jury has to be out on the second point – it’s too early to tell – but history does indicate Mogga is the tinkering type. Square pegging continues with Varga playing wide right as if Mogga has to find somewhere/anywhere for him to play.
    So my prediction for season is for more disappointments with the fans lamenting the ‘could have beens’ and it’s this feeling that we continue to underperform which is, I believe, at the root of fans’ apathy. 12th overall.
    Let’s hope the flames set fire to the wet blanket.

  13. I guess a lot will depend on how Boro start the season following on from last season’s slump. The problems identified have still yet to be addressed – though you could argue under Mowbray Boro have usually been relatively good starters.
    Although we have a relatively tough set of opening fixtures on paper, the Mogga method of detailed opposition preparation will be helped by only have one league game per week in August (and only one in September).
    I would like to see (sooner rather than later) the addition of a striker, creative midfielder, centre-back and specialist right back – but only if they are of good quality with leadership potential.
    At the moment the transfer market may be stagnant but there’s nothing like a few bad results to concentrate minds and shift red lines – I don’t just mean at Boro but in general, which would have the knock-on effect of possibly missing out on targets if they start getting desperate offers from nervous clubs.
    So let’s hope we avoid injuries and red cards to key players in August. Mogga must find a way to integrate the likes of Carayol into a effective formation with the more solid midfield without disconnecting from the forwards.
    As for predictions, Boro with a good start and the addition of 3-4 good effective players who can show leadership, then the playoffs will be achievable – anything less will leave us still in transition and the goal will be to avoid getting sucked into a relegation battle with a thin inexperienced squad.

  14. It will be what it will be.
    My wish is to just go out and play, no popping in to Gypsy Rose Lee at Whitby
    to ask what formation to play.
    No clever formations based on the fact the opposition striker once scored a hat trick at infant school.
    It will take a time to settle down and play. It will take time for any incoming to settle in.
    At least if Adomah arrives we will have cover at left back.

  15. Incoming signings aside we’ve had a good pre-season.
    We’ve moved on just about everyone that we wanted to and lost no-one that we wanted to keep. The toxic remnants of the Strachan era have departed, we’ve added a couple of mature hard nuts and gone unbeaten in the friendlies, conceding few goals. Solid.
    On paper, what’s left is a decent looking first XI who could challenge for the top six at a push if everything falls into place. The anti-Mowbray brigade will say that the concept of a best XI is beyond our manager but I think we’ll see a more settled side this year – partly because he has fewer options and partly because he has two more of his own players (players, that is, that were pursued rather than gambled on to plug gaps – don’t tell me that Zemmama, Miller, Dyer etc were on a Mowbray wishlist).
    What’s also left though is a squad lacking in any depth. Look at our second XI:
    Leutwiler
    Parnaby
    Halliday
    Hines
    Gibson
    Reach
    Haroun
    Smallwood
    Ledesma
    L Williams
    Main
    They will have to cover injuries but how many of those could you confidently replace a first-teamer with to cover a loss of form? There is some hope there, but nothing you can hang your hat on at this point.
    As it stands, while our best XI look competitive I don’t think our squad is one of the six best, so we’ll need to overachieve for a play-off spot.
    For that to happen I think we’d need all of the first XI to play at least 35 games together. We know that won’t happen. Probably. We’d also need Emnes and Juke to finally consistently deliver on their potential and bang in at least 35 goals between them. It’s far from impossible. It’s far from probable.
    All in all then it is probably the fitness of our better players that will have the most significant impact on where we finish.
    I’m only confident that we won’t finish in the top or bottom three but to pluck a number out of thin air I’ll go for 12th with the current group. Add two or three proven Championship performers in key areas though, and that can become 6th.

  16. My prediction…
    we will start badly and finish September in the bottom three. Gates will plummet and there will be massive calls for Mowbray’s head.
    However Gibbo will stick by him and the team will rally and climb to mid table by Xmas. There we will remain in relative safety but without troubling the promotion contenders. The ra ras will continually claim we are only one win away from the playoffs whilst the bed wetters will contend that we are only one defeat away from a relegation battle.
    The season will then just peter out with Boro playing to low crowds and general disinterest.
    Final position… 10th.

  17. The more “compact” squad will mean less ability to tinker so that’s a benefit in my eyes. Adomah and Vaz Te are signings I would have thought beyond us but would be delighted with one or both, if we have a defender coming in that would be another positive.
    If Marvin and Rhys have their heads screwed on again then that’s like two new signings, I won’t hold my breath about Woody’s fitness though.
    If we can stop the Schoolboy errors defending set pieces, work out some tactics at our corners so that Leadbitter stops hoofing it straight into the keepers arms or his free kicks high wide and handsome then there is hope.
    To work on the training pitch at duping defenders and keepers at free kicks or knocking the ball sideways or dinking it into the box with a prearranged red shirt expecting it instead of blasting it then who knows?
    If we can use throw ins as a tactical opportunity instead of a hot potato then we may gain a few more advantages. If we play our Strikers somewhere near the opposition goal or even the 18 yard box instead of near the corner flags then we may score a few more.
    If the real “reasons” for the 2013 implosion are known and have been genuinely addressed then who knows. I will hope we avoid a relegation dogfight on the basis that it can’t be worse than the end of last season by the law of averages surely.
    The Adomah link fills me with some optimism but we won’t really know about the season either way until the transfer window shuts and we see what we have to work with.
    I’m hoping for a top 12 most of the season with maybe a late burst into the top six at the end.

  18. Anything is possible but not, I fear, with Mogga in charge. He simply fails to inspire. Witness his observation before the first game of the season that if we play to our potential we can give Leicester “a good game”.
    A good game? If that is where Mogga’s ambitions lie, what must the players think?
    Great article AV and I, like you, am always optimistic at the start of every season.
    If only we had a manager who felt the same.

  19. I forgot to leave my prediction. Must be the Perth (Australia) sun. Anyway….
    Mogga reads AV’s inspiring words. So do the players and supporters.
    Suddenly it’s like 1966/67 revisited. A passionate team with passionate supporters.
    Automatic promotion.

  20. I am never far off the mark and this season I expect no different
    10th. Dismal start . Mogga gone after Christmas and a new boss clawing us out of relegation bother with a late rally .
    Sorry, but urban graffiti and a big telly don’t get you promoted.

  21. I’m so high off the fumes from my foam hands that I’m having difficulty typing this!
    My prediction: We’ll win the league by Easter.
    I don’t think we are that much worse (or better) than any of the other teams in the league. A good start, bit of luck with injuries, a key signing before the deadline. It’s all going to come together to make a great season.
    If they perform consistently we will do OK. Even with the fumes wearing off I still see us as being a good bet for at least the play offs.

  22. AV –
    Frazer Richardson the Rotherham-born 30-year-old, has mainly played at right-back or left-back for his previous clubs but can also operate on the right-hand side of midfield.
    If he is not a CB where does we need him? I miss the logic as we have Barnaby and Hoyte there. Only if Parnaby is leaving …
    Up the Boro!

  23. On the subject of Boro wanting to defer some of the Adomah fee until next year to keep within FFP limits:
    As far as I’ve understood it, there isn’t any sanction for exceeding FFP limits until December 2014, which means if Boro paid the whole fee up front this season it would have less impact than deferring some of the payment until next season – when in fact the FFP limit for 2014/15 is also further reduced.
    The only negative is that Boro will not be within the spirit of the rules – but those rules also allow clubs with parachute payments to legally spend considerably more than the limit imposed on everyone else.

  24. Jarkko,,,
    Making ridiculous predictions with your heart instead of your head is a bit daft like. Do you say such daft things so you think that people will think you are a great supporter?
    Boro wont get anywhere by having players like long faced Dean, the perma crocked Jonny, Justin Hoyte and Frazer Richardson in the team .
    Boro will be lucky not to get relegated this season in my view.
    **AV writes: But you say that every year.

  25. Just a very quick one regarding the signing of Richardson.
    The question is why, when we have parnaby and hoyte ?
    Surely the answer is pretty obvious. Both of them have terrible injury records. I seem to recall Bailey playing there nearly as often as he did in midfield last season ! It would seem pretty sensible to have some backup available.
    Thanks for the answer regarding the Adomah talks Vic. I am a little surprised by City’s insistence on 100% up front though. I was under the impression that paying in instalments was standard practice amongst British teams.
    **AV writes: I don’t think they will be asking for 100%. Deals these days are very complicated. Maybe Boro have offered £250K down, £250k at end of season, £250K after 100 games plus, £250k in instalments over next two years. Maybe a bonus if they get promoted. Who knows? Boro are trying to find a way of meeting the valuation – Bristol have accepted that – while minimising the outlay now so they can still spend on other targets. Bristol want as much of the dosh as possible now. It will take a bit of haggling.

  26. Another midfield signing. As Jarkko and John say how many do we need? Where does that leave Smallwood?
    To butcher a phrase ‘In Mogga YOU trust’.
    I read earlier a bit of a debate about whether the club had let the fans down. After 50+ years it is clear Boro are a fickle mistress.
    Boro have never let me down but MFC have. Does it matter? The fact is the failings of MFC wont affect my bond with Boro, I will always support them.
    I watched Jamie Redknapps preview of the season on Sky. We didn’t get a mention. Why should we? Finished just outside the relegation places. No money, no crowd.
    There is no point moaning about it because that is the position we are in. I am not going to sniff foam nor pluck chickens because it wont make any difference.
    Tomorrow we will win, lose or draw. It is only a game.
    Anyone believe me?

  27. Boro just can’t seem to make their mind up what to do. Only two weeks ago we were being told they had (yet another) new model for recruitment. An extensive European scouting setup would find us gems from the low wage economies of Europe who would join for minimal fees and low wages for us (but high for them).
    Having finally got rid of Scott McDonald we weren’t going to make that mistake again, and wouldn’t be paying fees or big wages. We’d be patient through to the end of August when we’d pick up a couple of seasoned campaigners who hadn’t managed to find a gig elsewhere.
    Now we’re competing with parachute fuelled Wigan, and happy to shell out £1m and relatively big wages for Adomah.
    The same happened a few years back when poor old Southgate was handled the poisoned chalice and asked to balance the books and get rid of the high wage earners. He made a reasonable stab at it and had a reasonable first season, then the club panics and shells out £12m on Alves behind his back.
    Steve Gibson doesn’t seem to be able to make his mind up what type of club he wants to run. One minute we’re skint, next minute we’re chasing expensive targets. It’s very confusing for us poor supporters. Maybe there’s a master plan somewhere, but it’s. hard to figure out what it might be.
    Anyway, I’ll just have to get used to it, it’s not going to change anytime soon.
    15th this year.

  28. So far I haven’t made a prediction on our final position, it is so difficult in such a tight division.
    But I cant see us getting relegated, it is unthinkable or rather doesn’t bear thinking about. Top half would be my guess with a chance of getting close to the play offs.
    Get on a good run and anything is possible but in the back of my mind is the fact we have had poor second halves of the season in four of the last five seasons.
    Today I expect the usual tough match against the foxes and you may find neither side unhappy with a draw.

  29. I’m afraid I can’t agree with Ian about Adomah being just another midfielder.
    At the moment we have Leadbitter, Smallwood, Whitehead and varga who are all from a very similar mould. All are centrally focused, solid defensively minded players who are not comfortable out wide. Last year you could have added Thomson and Bailey to that list.
    Adomah is like Carayol. Something a bit different offering good pace and trickery on the wing, with goals as well as assists potentially available. The idea of Carayol down the left and Adomah down the right sounds great to me. It would certainly scare a lot of teams in our division.
    I was trying to remember the last time we had a specialist right winger in the squad. My memory might have failed me but I believe it was when James Morrison was playing there. Maybe someone else will think of another more recently ?
    A lot of people have complained about square pegs in the last few years. We finally seem to be recruiting a specialist for this role, rather than playing a converted central midfielder there and I would have thought most people would be happy with that. Even in terms of numbers, we have lost Dyer, Thomson, Zemmama and Bailey from midfield since June. So far we have two, possibly three with Adomah to replace those four. It’s not as if we are adding to the numbers.
    Don’t get me wrong, we still need an attacker to replace McDonald and a defender to replace McManus and Bikey, but the addition of a right winger was every bit as important as far as I am concerned.

  30. AV, your list of six ‘things I would like to see’ for this season is bang on the money.
    We need a hero, a goal celebration from one our own (imported or not) and we need a new unity among us all. Charlton and Rioch were the only managers in the past four decades to usher in these welcome traits.
    It’s an awfully convoluted and generally difficult division to be in at present and I don’t think anyone truly knows where they stand or even what’s going on.
    Tony Mowbray was a good player and very good captain for us but that doesn’t make him the man to magically create the necessaries, as you identified, that will set us apart as a team and club.
    Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, John Terry even were great captains but it doesn’t mean anything come the step up. Sadly you could add Robbo to this list.
    We need a spark and right now before it all kicks off. While I don’t believe Tony is the man at all, I do believe we should push aside talk of 10 games or ‘give it until October’. Unless we’re seriously relegation threatened, give Mogga the season. Promotion or a close miss and he stays, anything else and its curtains.
    Loyalty and criticism are not mutually exclusive but like most Boro fans, this is a season I just can’t call. But I do see Mogga as little more than a fan in the hot seat and ultimately, that’s not good enough. Please Mogga, prove me wrong.

  31. The ‘battling hard’ rhetoric that’s now seeping out about Adomah is usually the softening up that precedes ‘he’s gone to Wigan’.
    Agree with Bob on the ‘at least three versions’ of the transfer strategy – none of which has held. The third is the ‘core players’ one that Richardson’s recruitment scotches and the dalliance with Ross Turnbull almost did.
    Don’t get me wrong, if we were in need of a right back as a priority then Richardson’s a perfectly fine pick up. But – aside from the injury cover bit (and can we really afford three or each position just for that) – that’s not a priority.
    Unless there’s something else about Hoyte’s position, say, that we’re not being told.
    Anyway, talking of priorities, let’s make a decent start this afternoon. A point at least and no ‘not turning up’.
    C’mon Boro!!!!
    **AV writes: Richardson is a good signing. He’s had a solid 300 game career, mainly in the second tier but also the odd foray into the top. He’s played in promotion winning sides so knows what it takes. He can play right back, left back or in the centre. That he offers cover in both full-back slots is a major boost. If Friend is crocked I’d far rather have a seasoned man there – either Richardson or Hoyte – than draft in Halliday who has played, what, a dozen games there?

  32. I suspect the dressing room will be a happier place this season without the last of Strachan’s high earners gone.
    I expect we will be top half most season, in and around play-off contention and I’m with Jarkko that we could sneak an automatic promotion.
    Would be good to review and revise predictions in 12 games time …..
    3-1 today with an M&S brace. 🙂

  33. **AV writes: Richardson is a good signing. He’s had a solid 300 game career, mainly in the second tier but also the odd foray into the top. He’s played in promotion winning sides so knows what it takes. He can play right back, left back or in the centre. That he offers cover in both full-back slots is a major boost. If Friend is crocked I’d far rather have a seasoned man there – either Richardson or Hoyte – than draft in Halliday who has played, what, a dozen games there?
    Both full back slots?? Have a look at your cuttings file about his performances at left back.
    Centre-back?? Grateful if you could point me to the evidence of when he’s played there in senior football.
    As I said, I don’t have any problems with his right back credentials – but is that the priority for scarce resources.

  34. “**AV writes: But you say that every year.”
    I do not, like!
    I usually (and correctly I might add) predict mid table mediocrity.
    This lot are going backwards at an alarming rate of knots.

  35. It’s looking like I was right. Without significant strengthening, this squad will flirt with relegation.
    What a pathetic start. Home record gone before we’ve started and, after last season’s implosion, the indications are that the freefall is to continue. Morale must have been fragile and badly in need of a lift after last season. This result must have shattered confidence.
    These players now know they are deficient. They might have wondered whether the second half of last season was an unrepresentative aberration. They can now stop kidding themselves – they’re not good enough.
    As things stand, these players are fragile, easily overcome and lack guts and fight. The squad lacks goal threat, creativity and the defence is risible. In short, they are weak in every department. Without strenghening, we will sink. If it takes too long for reinforcements, the downward momentum will take a lot of reversing.

  36. Please, please don’t anybody say: it’s only the first match, don’t panic.
    It is emphatically not just one game. This dreadful form, crap organisation, lack of confidence and resilience is a clear continuation from last season. Over the last 25 games, we’re bottom.

  37. When you get beat by Accrington Stanley it is clear the lads don’t have full cream milk. That is just about rock bottom.
    Today’s result at Charlton and a clean sheet bode well for the future, but one swallow and all that.
    I hope that Steve Gibson finally gives up the ghost and sells out to some arab or Russian mafia boss who will at last inject a few roubles into the empty transfer fund chest.
    I stand by Tony Mowbray who has had all the good players given away or sold off… great strategy… he’s good… sell him!
    Although I would love to see the Boro up in the giddy heights of the play off positions but my brain says nothing more than nearly almost again and finishing maybe in the top half.
    The new Man U boss Moyes has been handed £100m to keep the team on an even keel at the top. He is an expert at getting draws and keeping clean sheets: let’s see how he does actually going forward.
    It must be nice to have a tenth of that, but when I hear Boro fans explaining how costs must be cut I cringe.
    All those years when I called the duffer Robbo a waste of space, spending money like it was going out of fashion and buying promotion, how I got slated.
    It never ceases to amaze me how people see others as they see themselves and keep with the herd, never daring to stick their head out.
    Good luck Tony Mowbray and good health to all those loyal fans we have.

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