Juke Box On Song : Rocking Robins

INTO the Valley… with Boro no longer on the Skids (one for the teenagers there.)
A rot-stopping welcome 1-0 win at Charlton eased the pressure a bit and ended a long run of very damning statistics. It doesn’t make Boro promotion favourites – but it may help to calm nerves, build bridges and create some breathing space for a fledging side to emerge.
And of course, it is nice to come away from a game (especially an away game) with a smile.


There was a solid look about a well balanced Boro side: we know what Leadbitter can do, Whitehead added a robust snap about the engine room (and got booked for a flying elbow in a mid-air challenge as he momentarily thought he was back at Stoke).and Varga… well Varga was fantastic. He was robust and industrious and did a lot of unglamorous things in a calm and efficient way but he also had “good engines” bursting forward, showed some deft touches in possession plus a neat turn past markers. And he played some sublime through-balls too. He could be a very useful addition.
At the back Woody and Rhys got through 90 minutes looking sharp and composed and showed the signs of an emerging partnership while new boy Frazer Richardson was physical and unfussy and coped with everything thrown at him in the box, notably during the second half spell of heavy pressure. There were one or two stray passes early on but he hasn’t played in pre-season so some signs of ring-rust were to be expected.
And up front Boro showed signs of having a real threat. Carayol and jet-heeled £1m debutant Albert Adomah both have potent pace down the flank, can wriggle through a marker and get a cross in. They scared the hell out of Charlton at times. It was genuinely exciting in flashes. The possibility of being able to attack down either wing will make it much harder for the opposition to shackle Boro by doubling up on a single source.
Boro still lack teeth of course. The goal was scrappy – and Charlton’s defence contributed helpfully to setting it up – but apart from that, for all the insistent possession, the Robins keeper was very rarely really tested.
That said Juke deserved his goal. He worked hard up front on his own and took a bit of a battering at times from two big defenders but he did well to hold the ball up and bring the breaking midfielders into play. He is not the deadliest of natural finishers and one or two snatched shots were poked at the keeper or screwed wide. But he was well placed and alert to get a looping header in for the goal after a defensive mix-up. And they all count.
It wasn’t the prettiest one he will ever score but goals are like kids; you’ve got to love them all, even the ugly ones. And it was a timely goal. A just reward for Boro’s industry. And it was a goal that sparked a wave of relief that rippled out from Charlton and swept Northwards to Teesside. It may be just the third game of the season but after a frustrating summer failed to to allay fears after the torrid tail-spin last term and then a sticky start, nerves were strained and tempers simmering. The pressure was on.
So a good result then in footballing and political terms. It has ended a long sickening slide. It was Boro’s first win of the season, only the fourth in the league this calendar year and, incredibly, only the first away win since a last gasp plundered 3-2 at Peterborough last December.
And there were other positives too: Boro resisted some heavy pressure to keep a clean sheet when in previous games they had cracked; they forced home a ‘scruffy’ goal from a poorly defended corner of exactly the type they would normally concede; had two decent debutants on show; finished a game with the supporters’ cheers ringing out; and – crucially – they looked like a team…. although not necessarily like Barcelona, as the Radio Brownlee hyperbole machine asserted at one point.
And of course, Boro picked up three points. Enjoy it..

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27 thoughts on “Juke Box On Song : Rocking Robins

  1. I hope the club bring in a striker we so desperately need. Two wingers, Juke as the physical presence and a Bernie Slaven type poacher has goals written all over it, especially for home games.
    Long way to go though, here’s hoping the trip abroad by mfc officials leads to some more quality signings joining the new and improved Mogganaut.
    It’s not the same spending a Saturday night with nothing to moan about.

  2. Hallelujah! Goal a bit scruffy but hardly bundled in having just watched on Sky. Don’t know if it’s worth staying awake for the FLS on the Beeb. I don’t suppose they’ll show more than the goal, if that, and only then at 00:44 hrs.
    Keen to see Varga, sounds like a gem, and seems like Albert caused quite some problems. Could it be we have a matching pair of decent, velocitudinous flank forwards on our hands at last? HOLD THAT THOUGHT! I am DOOM – what AM I saying?
    No, positive it is to be…we won for Gibsonssake…what could be better on a Sat’dy night? By my unreliable calculations, our 2013 win ratio has just risen 3.66%…
    **AV writes: Stats eh? Boro have a 100% away record this season.

  3. The Robins? I thought we played The Addicks.
    **AV writes: Cheeky Charlton have more nicknames than West Brom (who have three). They are Addicks, Athletic, Robins and Valiants. More importantly they run out to Rockin’ Robin by the Jackson 5.. Should be the Skids though.

  4. Nothing to add my previous posts – we are heading to the right directions and Mogga is our long term solution. Just keep patient.
    One thing some might not noticed, though. The season started earlier to have less mid week games. So that will suit fine us with Woody on board. Secondly Rhys amd Woody have played all minutes so far this season in the league. Perhaps we have most of the core men on board already?
    As Mogga is abroad today to see a striker(?) we are just a player short of a decent side. And still three weeks to find the one.
    Up the Boro! The Boro is going up this season.

  5. Well AV, I´ll bet you were pleased with that after the last two matches!
    I managed to see both the homes games on my summer return to Middlesbrough and would comment as follows, sorry I am a little out of sync with the events.
    I know this has been debated a million times ( more or less ) but for the walk up fans, the ones they need to recover somewhat, they have still NOT learnt one jot. I paid £27 for a seat in the NW corner. When I was back last xmas, I only paid £24 for Blackburn/Blackpool in the same area. Why this big increase??? I can afford it, thousands cannot.
    Also I still cannot get my head round the McDonald issue. Yes I realise TM did not want him here, but the economics of it all.
    He must have been paid off with £750K to have made it worth his while. Now we are desperately seeking a 1 in 3 replacement. We will probably pay over the top, now that SG has found some extra loot, where did that all come from? So there will be a fee to pay, £1m plus, and a weekly wage of £10-15K. I just do not see the economics here, only TM´s desire to get shot of McDonald.
    And we certainly need one, and players with some passion, of which there was none until we were two-one down and the youngsters came on against AS. Reach showed more in his short time than Carayol had in his one and a half games. No wonder SG was holding his head in his hands throughout the match. He must wonder at times is it all worth it. Still the mistakes have to lay at his door.
    However yesterday may hopefully be a step in the right direction, I hope so for TM´s sake. I could not stand the upheaval of another manager coming in.
    ^^AV writes: There has been a price reshuffle to match the reconfiguration. The cheapest in day walk-up prices are now in the South Stand to encourage migration to that area, help create an atmosphere and help give the ground a better feel. With a Boro Pride card it is £22 which is not bad. Its not great but its not bad.
    The club will probably do a couple of offers this season but really, there is next to no leeway on prices. Gate money is the only real income the club has and under FFP it has to maximise that. With tax and costs the season ticket take is less than a tenner a head whereas as similar sized clubs with similar sized crowds – Ipswich, Forest, Derby etc – are getting almost a tenner a head more. Give or take a thousand on the gate that means they have £150-200k more a week to spend.,
    The club have held prices for seven years now. They really can’t afford to cut them any more. The evidence is that even slashing them does not generate more than a few thousands extra as anything more than a one off. They make more from 2000 walk up at £24-27 than they do from an extra 5-6000 at a tenner.
    As for McDonald, he was due to take £1.5m in wages this season. His pay-off was probably (*wild guesstimation*) £250k. That is the Adomah fee and wages just about paid for. The exit of other big earners will pay for the fee/wages for a decent striker, McCormack for instance, while some tinkering around the edges will fund a couple more frees. There may have to be an exit to balance the books..

  6. Thank heavens. Typical Boro: lose at home, win away. As I said before, nobody is more pleased than me to find I might – might- have been worrying about nothing.
    Charlton aren’t a bad team so to bounce back from those dire results shows bottle. This is when team spirit and belief can start to be forged. With the two new signings, at least the players can see they’re not left to their own devices: the club can see the weaknesses and is doing something about it. That and this result must give a big lift.
    My main fear was in having to wait until deadline day for reinforcements. By then, the freefall would have been damned near irreversible. With two in before the start, and now two more before the second game, things feel better. Furthermore the new players are not coming into such a negative and traumatising situation.
    In particular, I like the sound of the solidity, organisation, partnerships, pace and balance. These are adjectives not used in relation to Boro for eight months.
    We still need a reliable goal scorer, a CH and probably a creative central MF. If we can start talking about fighting spirit, flair, durability, penetration, resilience and – above all – goals, then we can go places.

  7. At last an away win to savour, first one since Peterborough last December and I had the misfortune to witness every one of those winless games.
    Couldn’t fault any player yesterday,good team performance particularly Varga. Carayol and Adomah looked impressive on the wings and even George managed a few runs which he seemed to have forgotten how to do since before his injury last season. Richardson made a comfortable debut in place of unfit Hoyte. By the way any truth in the rumour he wants to join Bailey and MacDonald at Millwall?
    Ok we didn’t threaten their goal very much and a striker or two is definitely a priority,but we had the bulk of possession (no way was it 50/50 as BBC sport said) and didn’t look too nervous in the final stages,although a heart stopping moment when Leutwiler on for the injured Steele and spannered a pass back, otherwise we thankfully saw out the five minutes injury time.
    Nice for us 1000+ away supporters to get a win at last and nice to catch up with familiar faces after the summer break.

  8. For the first time in a long time more positives than negatives!
    Getting the negative out of the way first is that we still don’t look either potent or have a serious threat at the sharp end of our improved build up play.
    That aside defensively we performed well, our midfield dominated and Whitehead and Varga seem to be more than useful additions. Varga especially seems more than just a defensive midfield destroyer. He has a powerplant that would put Duracell to shame. He is destined to become a fans favourite. I just hope he can keep his other half away from Twitter.
    Richardson seems to be a solid dependable pro and the fact that he hasn’t attracted much attention is a positive for me in that he didn’t do much wrong other than needing to improve his match fitness. Is he here to add some alternatives at the back or does it mean Justin is off to pastures new? I hope its strength in depth.
    Juke adds physicality and is grabbing a few goals but we desperately need a slippery sniffer to play and feed off him. Marvin in theory should be in his element but his unwillingness to shoot on sight and over complicate meant that he lost out to new boy Albert.
    Adomah and Carayol were the wide threat that Boro fans have been craving and Albert’s arrival seemed to have upped Carayol’s game especially after a very disappointing showing against Leicester.
    Is everything OK now? Have we turned the corner? Is this the beginning of Mogga’s non tinkering, complex tactic free Boro? Let’s hope so but Charlton are not the biggest threat in this division despite their strong finish last season.
    The three points are a welcome relief and a boost to add to Adomah’s signing but some more faces are needed at the back and up front. In the meantime lets enjoy the feeling of victory, something I’d almost forgotten what it felt like.

  9. AV said – “As for McDonald, he was due to take £1.5m in wages this season. His pay-off was probably (*wild guesstimation*) £250k”.
    That’s definitely £1.25m saved this year, but maybe it is double that? From what I understand, any transfer fee is spread over the contract – so doesn’t that mean around £1.0m for 2013/14 for MacDonald would count as part of our losses for FFP rules? (I think he cost around £3.5m for a three and half year contract?)
    Given he is now of no benefit to us this year, could the bean-counters get this charged last year as a cost, so pushing all his costs in before FFP really bites this season? If that is so, and Steve Gibson is willing to fund maximum loss under FFP, as you thought AV, that means MacDonald’s departure could free up £2.5m this year?
    I also wonder with maximum FFP losses reducing year on year whether rumours of a big loan signing could be realistic – it would only incur losses this year, and not affect 2014/2015, so it makes sense under FFP to pay a large chunk of someones wages if a Premier side wants to get rid but can find no cash buyer.
    **AV writes: Yes, the amortisation cost of a transfer is broken down over the length of a contract but I’m not sure what accountancy conjuring happens if that is terminated early. Is there a bean-counter in the house?
    The other factor to remember is that although the rules kick-in this year and the books will be audited, there is no penalty for breaking the FFP ceiling this year. There may be a scenario where well targeted transfer spend this year may just go over the limit, providing it is on players on relatively low wages, may help the club reach the target next year.
    That said, I can’t see how an improved bid for Ross McCormack, valued at £1m plus said to be on £14k, can be managed or structured or worked into this season’s planning unless there is an out-going (and a relative high earner and/or someone that would attract a fee) to balance the books.

  10. worth the read just for the Skids reference,(one for the kids indeed)
    I think we’ll do well against “footballing” teams,and we’ll do better away where teams won’t sit back.

  11. What about the possible outgoing of Justin Hoyte? Rumours going around Milwall are interested, also Faris? Was left out of last couple of games and Mowbray stated he may let him go.
    Also is Tony at Malmo tonight watching them against AIK? I’d prefer him to be in Italy talking to Vargas but that’s. long shot isn’t? AV proved to be correct again saying we’re only a couple of signings from a decent team.

  12. That felt good. And we needed it.
    Probably most pleasing was the clean sheet, and the defensive cohesion that provided it. That’s not something we saw enough of last season, particularly when narrowly in front, but there are early signs that the additions of Whitehead, Varga and Richardson could be very useful ones.
    Excellent value for money potential there and the 4231 system that they played in could be the blueprint for the majority of away games this term.
    At home we may need to be a little more adventurous but until we sign another striker there’s good reason to stick with it. We won’t lose many like that, even if Charlton were probably below par.
    This ought not be just the beginning though – we still need a goalscorer as top priority though I think it will be very difficult to get a real good ‘un.
    What kind of forward do we want? For me, his main attributes must be composed finishing and clever movement. They are the skills we most lack. Beyond that, and in no particular order, are pace, the ability to go past a player and/or pick a clever pass, physical strength, be no older than 28 with Championship experience and a history of fitness and scoring goals – all for a total outlay of fee and wages in the first year of no more than £1.5m!
    Clearly we can’t have all of that so it’s best to accept now that we’re not going to get it (and I think, increasingly, people do).
    It’ll be interesting to see what we get. For now, let’s enjoy the three points.

  13. It was good to come back off holiday and read so many positive reports about the Charlton match. The midfielders in particular seem to have excelled, which hopefully bodes well for the rest of the season. As many others have said what we need now is a good striker, which of course is always the hardest piece of the jigsaw to find.

  14. If Emnes is out of contract at the end of this season AV, and considering our down sizing, it would make financial sense to move him on now. If we could get some type of fee for him ( certainly not the £3m we apparently turned down last season).
    After writing off £3.5m for McDonald, I would be most upset with SG if we ended up doing the same with Emnes.
    The total write off of transfer fees over the last number of years must be frightening. I am relieved that SG does not run Bulkhaul in the same way.
    Still cannot get my head round the McDonald/McCormack figures, and find it really hard to believe McDonald accepted £250k pay off!!
    **AV writes: Why? He was moving to a new job with a two year deal on half his current wages – ie, the total value was the same as the money he stood to take at Boro … plus he got a pay-off at one end and a signing on fee at the other. That is a good deal by anyone’s standards.
    The alternative was staying at Boro and being unemployed next summer with no golden handshake and no guarantee of a job. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

  15. Great result on Saturday, some solidity as well.
    I was going to say it was atypical Baggies performance but they tended to play well in midfield but fail in both boxes.
    I will be intrigued to see who arrives next, I suspect there are still some who will be leaving the club be it on loan or permanently.
    If we do go down the 433 or 4231 I guess we will only be playing one out and out striker.
    442 will be plan B (hopefully we will have a plan B).
    If the incoming are to be core players it is difficult to see where the likes of Emnes, Ledesma, Parnaby, Hoyte and Haroun will feature other than on the bench.
    The situation is slightly different for Luke Williams, Main, Reach, Smallwood, Gibson and Park. They could well be down the pecking order. There is little point them kicking their heels so may go on loan and gain some experience.

  16. Andy R, ‘…..defensive cohesion…’,
    You’ve hit the nail on the head, defensive cohesion is such a vital ingredient for a team to consistently display. It obviously makes us hard to beat and breeds confidence. The goals follow from there. Let’s hope the defensive cohesion shown at Charlton becomes this season’s norm.

  17. Reading the Gazette report on Mogga’s view of the likelyhood of Emnes’ departure, it looks certain that he’s going, providing the two strikers we’re after are signed up.
    That would also fit in with AV’s opinion that to bring in another three players would require someone to be heading out of the exit door. Let’s hope Emnes is still worth a couple of million of someone’s money.
    **AV writes: He’s on *about* £18k a week. Save that from the wage bill (almost £1m a year) AND get a fee of any sort and that would give Boro plenty of leeway to bring in a decent Championship striker and save a few bob besides..

  18. I feel like I have been kidnapped by one of the Paul Bells, and forced to type a message to this blog. Not that I have been – it’s just that it feels as if I had.

  19. Forgetting Keepers, if we get incoming, the squad could look like:
    Defender, Hoyte, Parnaby, Woodie, Hines, Richardson, Gibson, Friend, Haliday.
    Midfielder, Adomah, Smallwood, Ledesma, Ledbitter, Whitehead, Smallwood, Carayol, Reach, Park, Haroun, Varga.
    Striker, Striker, Juke, Emnes, Main.
    The articles and comments certainly point to au revoirs.
    Possibly Emnes, Hoyte and Haroun as permanent departures.
    Maybe some of Reach, Park, Gibson and Main on loan.
    Only three strikers? If Mogga goes down the Baggies route we wont need four because often we will only play one. Add in Carayol, Adomah and Ledesma and that would give six who could play in a front three.

  20. Forever –
    Good post, brightened my start to the day in the office no end!
    I’d not be unhappy to see Haroun leave I’m not sure he’s contributed much in his time with Boro. As for Hoyte, he’s a decent player particularly going forward, but again I’m sure he could be readily replaced, but there’s no point selling him unless he’s replaced with someone better. Or maybe for ‘better’ subsitute ‘more cost effective’.

  21. Like most people I think the Emness project has or should come to an end.
    We cannot afford him a place in the squad. He was dropped for the game on Saturday and it may take half the season again to get his head right.
    As for the defence our two cbs were together for two league games in a row… that’s a new one. But we all know it will not continue. We really need some back up there.
    The midfield looks sorted as long as we don’t get too many injuries or yellow cards but these chaps look like they are made of sterner stuff this time.
    Up front more strikers needed.Its good to see us attacking down both flanks at last.
    Great result it lifts the gloom a bit and i hope we are just a couple of signings away from being the real deal.

  22. I would have no problem with Haroun, Emnes or Hoyte leaving. I don’t think any would be greatly missed and we already have Hoyte’s replacement in Richardson.
    Haroun doesn’t contribute enough, often enough and if moving Emnes on means bringing in two new, more suitable strikers then great.
    Whatever happens in the next few weeks results-wise you can see that the squad is starting to finally come together after three years of painful adjustment. I hope.

  23. AV –
    your response to my post at 9.14pm on 12th August reminded me of the story I heard Jimmy Armfield (younger readers: ask your dad!) tell against himself.
    In the days before Jimmy Hill and the abolition of the maximum wage, star players received no more than £20 per week, whether they played for Manchester United, Arsenal, or Bury. It has to be said that the £20 per week might have been 2-3 times the wage of the typical working man in those days, rather than maybe 500 times, as nowadays (on the basis some stars are [paid £250K a WEEK at some of the mega-clubs).
    Anyway, Stanley Matthews at Blackpool was on the maximum of £20 per week throughout the year. Jimmy Armfield, received £20 per week during the season but £18 per week during the summer months. The bold Armfield knocked on his manager’s door.
    A: “I’m not happy Stanley is getting paid more than I am.”
    Manager: “He’s a better player than you.”
    A: “Not in the close season, he isn’t.”
    Despite the logic of the argument, no pay rise was granted. We have come a long way.

  24. It seems a deal for a proven goal scorer is still proving elusive. But thinking logically, no club would offload a decent striker unless they had an offer they couldn’t refuse – therefore not much chance of a bargain in that department.
    So how good is McCormack? You get the feeling that the price Leeds would sell for would probably be higher than his abilities demanded – if he was the genuine article and a reliable scorer then the price bracket would surely be beyond our budget. It is also looking like we’re not in with a shout for Mr Rantie given that Malmo are unable to sign a replacement.
    So I guess if Main is not allowed on loan until reinforcements arrive then a potential sale of Emnes would also be placed on hold. Though if any serious offer came in then it would be foolish for Boro to drag their feet in the hope that Marvin will suddenly click – besides I’m sure Luke Williams would probably be able to play a similar role.
    So I think Boro may well end up with at least one loan striker – possibly Sammy Ameobi’s older brother?

  25. Werdermouth –
    I wouldn’t want to see a Shoal of Amoebas join the Boro.
    I am firmly in the don’t buy for the sake of it camp.
    If we bought Van Persie and Suarez one would sit on the bench or play in a different role because the preferred model is lone striker.
    I read an interesting article by Lee Dixon some time ago talking about young players and it struck a chord.
    Up front the striker learns relatively quickly. Strikers make lots of runs (Boyd excepted) which come to nothing be they novices or time served.
    They will get on to balls and get chances, as they get more experienced they improve and do more upstairs than in the legs. Strikers don’t score much more than one in four chances. As long as they work hard and the team does reasonably another chance comes along.
    Defenders take longer because they have to learn about positioning and timing in the same way as strikers but get it wrong and it can be fatal. Hines makes two mistakes and we are one or two goals down. Plonker.
    Juke skies on, does a shocking cross, mistraps half a dozen times, passes to row zed, heads wide of an open goal. offside three times, gives away three free kicks then scores with a scuffed shot that deflects past the keeper and he is a hero.
    Main and or Williams have to step to the mark. That means involvement. That means being picked. If they are not then why have an academy?
    Filling the squad, team and bench with no marks and re treads is a waste of money. I for one would rather see a few who can make a real difference come in rather than numbers.

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