Jacob’s Cracker: Butterfield Takes The Biscuit As Boro Finally Click

DEADLINE day signings Jacob Butterfield and Kei Kamara were the stars as rebuilt Boro finally clicked to beat “The Likes Of Yeovil” 4-1 and clock up a vital first home victory to relieve the pressure on Mogga.
Both scored in polished performances as Boro came from behind – again – to grab control and play some entertaining attacking football in yet another pulsating game at the Riverside in which both sides rattled the woodwork and missed sitters.
The win puts a far more positive hue on the recent sequence of results. Two defeats in 10 and unbeaten at home since the opening week sounds far better than the damning shroud of negativity that went with only one win all season and the four in 31 mantra that painted the landscape black last week.


Of course, beating the newly promoted minnows doesn’t change the bigger picture. It doesn’t make Boro promotion certs. Just as being beaten at table-topping QPR last week didn’t make them relegation candidates.
The glaring problems remain – some sloppy possession in midfield could have been punished far more often by a sharper and more ruthless team and the individual errors at the back that have proved very costly were still evident – but for all that, Boro are not far short of being a decent team with just a few tweaks.And as Mogga admitted after the game, he is still working to get a centre-back in.
Rhys Williams did his best to make things familiar for Yeovil and had a “Weston Super Mare” allowing a routine long header to sail past him and letting visiting striker Williams to streak free to score an easy opener after just four minutes them the Kryptonite armband sapped his powers again in the second half as he played a poor ball to wobbly Whitehead who was robbed leaving Hoskins through to rattle the bar.
That doesn’t mean Boro were lucky to escape with a win. Far from it. Kamara rattled the bar and post, Hennessey made a couple of good saves and Boro may have had another penalty after Adomah was hauled down. So all those ‘what ifs’ cancel each other out.
What remains is the fact that Boro were mentally strong enough to bounce back from a gifted early goal that could have lead to an implosion in the crowd and were ruthless in finishing off Yeovil on a day when the pressure was on. It was a good display. And it was entertaining too. And gave the nerves a real work out. As usual.
Butterfield was fantastic. He has a deft first touch that creates time and space for him to pick out a killer ball, even when he is under pressure. He has a fantastic range of passing and it almost always means a forward ball too. And as we have seen he also has a cracking shot on him. He scored an unstoppable 25 yard utter thunderbastard and could easily have had another from a similar range.
Kamara has proved a real find. He works hard across the entire front line, drops deep, wins balls in the air and has an instinct as to where the ball will land in the box. He has scored three in five starts now. Could he be the goal-getter we have cried out for? Could he be the heart shaped hands hero to galvanise the season? We’ll see.
Hopefully it is the result that kick-starts a stuttering season. It was an emphatic win. It is easy to dismiss it as “only Yeovil” but the wurzels have been hard to break down this term. Leaders QPR only beat them 1-0. Leicester edged it 2-1. And a win is a win.
Of course, the campaign so far has been frustrating. The failure to finish off sides, to defend a lead and to turn draws into wins has left Boro trailing the leading pack and left the fan-base divided over the potential of the team and the ability of the manager. It will no doubt have left the chairman a bit fidgety too.
But it is still early days. The shape is good, the side are not short of goals or attacking intent and as the new boys bed in that can only get better, slicker, more potent. But yes, the back-line needs beefing up. That can be done. Boro have the time and money to do that. But it needs doing quickly to make the most of this season.
More later

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36 thoughts on “Jacob’s Cracker: Butterfield Takes The Biscuit As Boro Finally Click

  1. I’m not quite as euphoric as AV although the result was certainly welcome but with four minutes gone the Riverside turned decidedly frosty in the warm Autumnal sunshine. Defensive nerves to add to the now year long defensive frailties seen Rhys gift the opener to the Cidermen. For some reason this Boro side has the ability to actually gift wrap goals without the opposition even trying.
    Steele wasn’t exuding confidence and nor was his skipper Williams whose first 45 minutes was as bad a showing as you can get. I wondered if Mogga might be tempted to bring on Hines at half time to save Rhys from the wrath of the home fans. Instead he obviously told to him to get a grip and sort himself out which thankfully he did in the second half but never to a point where you felt comfortable watching him and his Keeper behind him. The pair of them looked like they were just waiting to drop their next clanger as if it was some sort of habitual ritual.
    On the positives, Richardson had a reasonably steady game and Friend on the opposite flank seemed a bit more focussed on his defensive duties by keeping it simple and just clearing it or heading it out. Attacking wise he was back to his best and was a nuisance throughout for the shaky Yeovil back line. He and Adomah ran them ragged and indeed it was George who found himself upended for the Boro penalty to put us into the lead.
    In the second half George went on a run, breaking from the half way line and for me should have shot but he pulled it back across the six yard box for Kamara who got it stuck between his feet and the chance was lost.
    Gibson strolled through the game and the few times he was caught out he usually managed to find another gear, get back, slide in and nick the ball. My opinion is that at this stage of the season he is the most dependable, reliable and resolute CB we have at the club and if it were up to me its Woody or Williams (or indeed Hines) to fight it out as to who should partner him.
    He was solid and clattered into a few challenges without fear or favour. Hopefully Mogga will use the International break to find a “rustic” CB to partner Gibson but I fear if he does it will be Gibson who is moved aside to accommodate Woody or Rhys.
    Adomah drove the Boro attack in the first half and had his best game in a Boro shirt and was literally everywhere going on long runs and dribbles. He tired a little in the 2nd half but was worth the admission money on his own.
    Whitehead seemed to be playing deeper just in front of the two CB’s and in fairness wasn’t as poor as of late but still light years away from his first half display at home to Leicester on the opening day when he read and anticipated everything and dealt with it with aplomb. His performance wasn’t great and was caught dithering a few times but it was better.
    Leadbitter and Butterfield were playing further up the park in front of Whitehead most of the time and that partnership seemed to work well. Leadbitter was reminiscent of Barry Robson at his best, snarling, scrapping breaking up and winning possession and setting off to lead the charge.
    Butterfield especially in the second half was class personified. Here is a midfield player that as AV says gets the ball and moves forward with the ball at his feet, dribbling past players and bringing others into the game. In fairness I think he was able to do this because of the way Leadbitter was working alongside him providing options and bite.
    Jacob had a few pops at goal and was rewarded with one effort and sent Hennessey scrambling with another and also managed a few wayward ones but his efforts were greeted with applause regardless of where the ball ended up. A favourite in the making!
    Kamara chased, harried and battled successfully in the air, had a couple of half chances and a few nailed on ones. I don’t think it was his best performance by his own standards but a battling and constructive one which was justly rewarded when he got his goal with a header from a corner to seal things in the second half.
    Emnes, back from injury had a few creative moments and put a shift in before what looked like a groin strain allied to match fitness saw him replaced with Carayol. Marvin looked OK and was given a long, hard genuine ovation as he left the pitch to which he warmly responded so things look to be improving there. Carayol looked lively and kept providing ammunition from the flank after his introduction and cut out the sloppy mistakes which were evident on Tuesday night against Huddersfield.
    Hoyte replaced Richardson for a run out and done OK with nothing too exciting or too scary to report. Varga replaced Leadbitter with just over ten minutes to go who was hobbling but Jozsef seemed way off the pace of the game and his positioning and reading wasn’t up to par but I would put that down to rustiness and the Midfield being on the front foot instead of behind the half way line plus Butterfield being a virtual one man band with the bit between his teeth getting at Yeovil sensing another goal, a far cry from the normal metronomic sideways shuffling from the middle men.
    Reading this you could be forgiven for thinking Boro have maybe turned a corner but believe me one swallow definitely does not make a summer.
    When in possession we were exciting, pacy, skilful and dynamic with slick interplay and individual flashes of perhaps not quite brilliance but nevertheless damn good to watch. When we lost possession we looked vulnerable as heck and at times our 18 yard box resembled clips from the Keystone Kops.
    A final score of 9-6 would probably have been a fairer reflection on the game but it was good entertainment and a desperately needed victory for Mogga and three points for the League table.
    There are still lessons to be learnt (yawn) and worryingly there were still signs of the same old problems except the level of the opposition was so poor that they couldn’t leverage it in their favour. Some of the individual errors against a better side would have seen us severely punished.
    Rhys went from MOM on Tuesday night to demonstrating sleepwalking at times, Steele still doesn’t command his box or instruct his back four. Leadbitter despite an excellent performance today still persists and is still woeful at set pieces. Even his penalty looked lost before he struck it, (thankfully Adomah was alert to knick it when the keeper palmed it onto the post). Had we missed that penalty opportunity I dread to think what the mood might have become and Typical Boro would probably have succumbed to a sucker punch.
    Grant is getting in the goals by arriving late in open play to his credit and it takes courage to pick up the ball for the pen but he is costing us opportunities with his dead ball delivery with “dead“ being the operative word. These are things that have been repeated here on a number of occasions, those are things that haven’t got any better.
    Mogga has some breathing space with a well deserved victory today but we can’t afford to be complacent with this single home win. Whitehead needs to up his reaction time and whoever partners Gibson at the back needs to prove their worth.
    I would be inclined to give Hines a run out alongside Big Ben, he couldn’t possibly do any worse than the so called first choice CB’s. Today Gibson was yelling at his team mates letting them know his thoughts, something that has been lacking, for it to come from one of the most inexperienced players is a worry but I’m grateful that someone in the back line has a back bone.
    We can build on this but the weak links have to be sorted or dropped. Konstantopoulos may be less of a dynamic shotstopper but his years of experience may be more inclined to discipline, shout and organise those in front of him and at the same time just simply catch a ball instead of diving acrobatically trying to punch clearances causing mayhem in the 18 yard box in the process.
    The game was entertaining, end to end at times and had punters out of their seats. Most importantly it was the first time in a long time the fans could really get behind the Team, it was the first time in a long time the Home side deserved the vociferous support that the loyal 13,000 or so could muster.

  2. That was a really pleasing result.
    From the football I’ve seen and the reports I’ve heard, it wasn’t even that this performance was a big step up from any other week, just we were a lot more clinical today, and they were a little more wasteful.
    This team has goals in it. Kei Kamara has looked fantastic so far, and way more of an attacking product than I’d expected. I was imagining him to be more of a Carayol, an Adomah. I certainly wasn’t expecting a great big bundle of energy up front, that physical threat and downright determination, along with a whole heap of self-belief that I don’t think we’ve seen up front for a long time.
    Butterfield too has impressed. Comparing him to last years options, he already seems a more exciting component than McEachran managed. He had a couple of good efforts against Bournemouth, and he’s gone one better today.
    Our games so far this season have seen us outscored rather than outplayed, so hopefully this result will allow the team some peace from negativity over the international break, so that we can come back rejuvenated and confident against Barnsley.
    I can’t help but worry for Rhys Williams though. He still isn’t looking the player he was before his injury. Part of me wants to see him play in midfield for a game or two, allow him to play without the pressure of a mistake being critical, and rebuild his confidence and form.
    Maybe his increased mobility compared to Whitehead could give our midfield just a little more oomph, but would it lose a little bite? And should we really be shuffling our captain around? It’s a tough decision between Rhys, Woody or Gibson in defence next time out that I’m glad I don’t have to decide.

  3. Some good positives from the match, with Butterfield and Kamara looking to be decent buys. Four goals, even against Yeovil, after being a goal down again, shows once more an improved spirit.
    Last season we could not even win against the bottom clubs, and did Bristol not do the double over us?
    AV says, we are not short of being a decent team, with a few tweaks. Well AV you go to all of the matches, so what are the tweaks we need?
    From the reports I have read on this match and previous ones the defence is just not up to it. From Steele to Williams, including the full backs, Gibson apart.
    So does TM bring in a CH, stick with Gibson,in your words AV arguably the best of the bunch, and leave the others out? Then what about the FB´s, find an alternative to Friend. Or as some have said we need to change the midfield a little.
    TM has now gone with only one of the wide men from the off, something I argued about previously. Has that helped?
    The tweaks for me are required around the defensive areas.
    **AV writes: yes, Boro definitely need a shouty pointy battles scarred defender to hold the back together, and on current form playing alongside Gibson with Woodgate on the bench. Error prone Williams should be taken out of the firing line. He probably needs counselling after his traumatic two months.
    In midfield Whitehead needs to be taken out of the equation too. He squanders possession too easily with stray passes. He should not be an automatic choice. Butterfield and Leadbitter for me with Varga as the next best option. He keeps the ball well and is pretty mobile. That is a solid three in a 433 for me.

  4. A good win but agree that we could have been cut open easily by a better team. We need that dominate leader at the back and ask Whitehead to take more responsibility with the centre backs

  5. What amused me most was the guy in front of him moaning about playing “one up front against Yeovil” as we banged in four goals.
    That was how this system should work and full credit to the players, though possibly helped by playing very poor opposition.
    Leadbitter is really turning into a proper box to box midfielder, almost Gerrard-esque the way he pops up in the opposition’s box, it’s something we’ve missed from midfield for a long time and it is of course something you can do when you play three in CM. He could bag double figures this season if he continues the way he does.
    And how good was that ball from Whitehead to Friend from the most defensive of the three ?
    The crowd again showed that the ‘true’ fans are still behind Mogga. No prolonged anger at the first goal, we got behind them straight away, Mogga gave the fans a wave in the second half and even the Mogga promotion songs came out again.
    Emnes was a bizarre selection though. OK he did assist Butterfield for the third but it was harsh on Juke/Carayol. Perhaps Juke doesn’t fit into the way we play now though and is only seen as the plan B we always missed?
    If we’d lost, Mogga would have been slated for Emnes’s selection so it was certainly brave.
    Two more wins, come on lads.

  6. Redcar Red,
    Greatly appreciated your detailed report It supplemented AV’s brilliantly. Thanks.
    Appreciation too for AV’s note on the necessary tweaks. It is not often that a local reporter will expose himself to the obvious dangers of passing such detailed judgments on individual players.

  7. AV
    Your points on Rhys Williams, Dean Whitehead and the need for a centre half in response to Pedro are spot on.
    But how good to be able to make them (again) in the context of this welcome win.

  8. You’re dead right about Rhys Pudding AV, the mans an absolute liability. It can’t be a coincidence that his return to the side last year was when the wheels came off. How much did Wigan offer us?
    Otherwise a good result and good to see Cushy Butterfield staking his authority in midfield. Well done lads!

  9. Great match report, Redcar Red.
    It’s nice to actually see some fair and level headed commentary of the Boro, as opposed to the perpetual whining and fatalism we see on Mr Vickers regular Gazette column.
    Beautifully written too in this day and age of sloppy grammar and throw away one liners.

  10. When Williams made that horrendous gaffe in the first few minutes I was wondering how many of the Boro fans were actually hoping that we would go on to lose, and then see what action Gibbo would take.
    Though I don’t have a crystal ball, nor a hotline to Gibbo’s intimate thoughts, thankfully, we won’t know, and we went on to win in an entertaining game.
    I think the fact we played much further up the pitch than the last few weeks, made the difference in effectively the same formation. Lets hope we do use the next couple of weeks to sort out the back line, and see us go on to become a much harder unit to score against, because we do look like we have the ability in the team to cause a lot of teams some trouble.
    Ok, it’s just one win, but from little acorns…

  11. We were due to a big win, as many said. Did we score four ever during last season?
    A morale boosting victory and let’s move on. Fully deserved and let’s concentrate on the next match now. Our newly assembled team can only get better.
    Also, interesting to see who is the defender coming in during the International brake.
    Up the Boro!

  12. AV-
    I just re-read the comment I posted earlier and it was badly worded. By perpetual whiners and fatalists, I was referring to the people that comment on your articles, not your actual articles. We all know you’re a rose tinted ra-ra like the rest of us.

  13. I don’t really have a problem with Whitehead, thought he played alright on Saturday. His job is never going to be a popular one.

  14. I can’t remember another game when we were 3-1 up and I was thinking, “This is woeful!”
    Gibson, Kamara, Richardson, Adomah and Butterfield were not woeful, of course. Emnes looked as if he meant to have a go as well, and there’s a case for saying George Friend offered some midfield potency, but Yeovil were a very average team, young and willing and not much more, and our lads were regularly rattled by their desire and their energy. Huge gaps all over the pitch kept opening up, and a clued-up team would have punished us much more.
    Williams must be rested. He looks as if he’s half-asleep or, more likely, very worried about being again horrendously injured as he was against Gillingham last season, and the club need to wake up to the fact that he may have been our Rolls Rhys once upon a time, but he is, for starters, less of a captain than Ben Gibson (our best organiser, our most vocal player).
    And, however likeable, even lovable – pressing the flesh at Derby away last year, talking to the Supporters Club etc., showing off his tattoos and all – and he is now a liability in defence, as is Woodgate, whose brain is great but whose pace is lacking.
    I agree with Redcar Red that, even with Woody and Rhys fit, Hines and Gibson may now turn out to be our best central defenders. Hoyte and Richardson are probably the next best defenders we have, and Friend and Williams probably need to compete for midfield positions against the phalanx of defensive players – Varga (best tackler), Whitehead (best deep-lying sweeper), Leadbitter (best engine).
    Mogga says we have a better squad than previously, but I see us as very thin defensively and rather cluttered up in our midfield options.
    We still need to work on corners too, and Mogga was still pulling everyone back to defend against Yeovil – and not leaving someone upfield – when we were 3-1 up.
    So we won, good, but it was in many ways a pretty clueless performance. In and amongst it, Butterfield was classy, but I hope the lads realise that Barnsley will offer a stiffer test than Yeovil Schoolboys did. #
    They need to work very hard in the next two weeks, rather than sitting around congratulating themselves, as they did for half a season last year, on how ŵell they all get on together and how confident they are about their innate quality!
    I hope to see the following team against Barnsley: Steele; Hoyte, Hines, Gibson (captain), Richardson; Adomah, Leadbitter, ButterfieldVarga, Carayol; Kamara, Jutkiewitz

  15. Great result and as I posted on thr previous blog I was worried with no commentary and losing 1-0.
    Not quite the 4-0 I day dreamed about but it is not a great worry.
    Listening to commentary, watching and reading many seem worried abot Rhys Williams. I am sure some time ago on the this blog we discussed his best position. Right back, centre back or holding midfield player.
    One player springs to mind is Paul Madeley of Leeds United. Never nailed down a postiion but was a regular because of his flexibilty.
    Maybe he Rhys is a top player but doesnt fit a set position. He isn’t the paciest, isn’t a dominant leader, tends to go to ground when he tackles, a good passer but not an Inesta.
    Maybe he will never settle in one spot.

  16. “Because of their shape if you can’t keep the ball then you’re going to get beaten, they’re going to pull you all over the place.”
    Gary Johnson’s post match comments follow similarly complementary remarks from Eddie Howe and Mark Robins. They all found our set up difficult to deal with and generously accepted the problems we had caused them.
    Conventional wisdom has it that we set up too negatively in an attempt to thwart our opponents rather than impose ourselves on the game. That’s still the mantra from the phone ins but it couldn’t be further from the truth. We have played much more aggressively this season and generally pressed high up the pitch to good effect whoever we’ve played.
    The other message board busted flush is the idea that playing one central striker is negative. Our four goals against Yeovil made it 17 for the season. An average of over 1.5 per game which equates to more than 70 over a full season. All achieved without the use of conventional twin strikers, a system as out of date as betamax and those cloth snake draught excluders.
    Our fluid system involving pressing high up, player rotation and overlapping full backs has been productive in terms of goals scored . It may also explain why we’ve leaked so many.
    Mowbray aspires to the kind of pressing game that we saw from Bayern at Man City and that we’ve come to expect from Barca. That’s great in theory but when teams of that quality win it back they use it effectively and don’t give possession away. We do, and when we do we’re wide open.
    Ironically, given Mowbray’s pure football principles, we actually remind me of Graham Taylor’s Watford of the late 70s /early 80s. An aggressive pressing game high up the pitch with little thought of what happens if we concede possession. Excitement and goalmouth action but without discipline or control, nor sadly the talent of Jenkins, Blissett and Barnes.
    Against Yeovil, when we attacked, we very often had both full backs pushed on plus Leadbitter in the box and Butterfield also in an advanced role. That wouldn’t be so bad but both attacking wide players lack discipline and roam all over the pitch, to great effect in Adomah’s case , but it doesn’t give the cover in wide areas when we lose possession. Think of how Andrew Taylor covered so effectively for the marauding Joe Bennett in Mowbray’s first season and contrast that with how easily we are opened up in wide areas at present.
    We are effectively left with only Whitehead and the two centre backs as cover. It means Whitehead is having to fight fires both centrally and in wide positions. It also seriously exposes our centre backs, if our opponents can counter attack in numbers with pace. Yeovil did so quite effectively, better teams will have a field day.
    I think I’m coming round to Ian and Pedro’s view on a previous thread that there is something more fundamental about our defensive failings than just individual howlers. We appear to have built a team with more attacking flair but treated the defence as an aside. A cheap awning fastened to the side of an expensive caravan.
    Scatter Williams and Whitehead if you must but I’m not sure the goals against stats will improve as much as you think. We’re destined to be a middle table side; easy to watch but not hard enough to play against.
    **AV writes: There is no doubt that rivals coaches have spotted the weakness down the flanks in the space behind the full backs (or to be more specific behind George Friend as Richardson is far less prone to the marauding over-lap) and are targeting that area for quick balls on the break.
    At Ipswich, Forest and QPR all the attacking diagonals were aimed at the little hatched area that Hansen would highlight on MotD. At home too it has become apparent. It is something that needs resolving quickly.

  17. A few posts ago i was wondering when was the last time we scored four anywhere.
    Well thats another objective ticked off and maybe enough to get us up and running.
    Its a pity we are going into a bit of a break.
    As for the debate for the defence. I have only seen a few bits of the game.
    Were we not playing further up the pitch with three CBs. That would expose Rhys and Woody when fit. So yes would agree that Gibson and AN Other would be better. As for Rhys as Captain i think its a burden he can do without right now.
    Let’s hope we have turned the corner now and go on a bit of a run.

  18. If Mogga’s tactic is for Friend to push high up the pitch, which it clearly is, then the first objective I would have thought is to have a left footed centre back playing next to him. That way the CB is more comfortable when having to move over to the left to cover. Gibson I believe is left footed.
    But also, surely if your left back is high up the pitch then one of the midfield players has to be tasked with covering the position as and when we lose possesion?
    Against QPR I saw Vagra covering at left back on more than one ocasion, but not consistently. There is more tactical work to be done there I think.
    The issue of left back cover though mustn’t detract from the other defensive issues which are the continuous mistakes being made. That needs resolving fast. I agree that Rhys needs taking out of the firing line for a while and maybe being relieved of the captaincy. He’s a good player, we all have seen that.
    But, as Ian Botham (I think) once said; ‘class is permanent, form is temporary’. A couple of weeks off the pitch may be what Rhys needs. Woodie is a different story perhaps, maybe the years are catching up with him, I hope not but its possible.
    Also, its true that playing the style we do demands a lot from the midfield, having strong defensive cover there is important. One alternative may be to switch Rhys for Whitehead?

  19. For me the key to the win was all in the attitude. From the off we passed the ball forward and looked to play positive attacking football. I didn’t see much of the waste of time patient build up that invariably sees us passing the ball back to Steele from attacking positions.
    That was gone, to be replaced by pass and move football. Leadbitter, who usually likes to have five or six touches before he passes, mostly took one touch to control and then passed the ball and got moving and had one of his best games.
    Another difference, and one that shouldn’t be underestimated, is the effect of Marvin Emnes. He was rusty and lost the ball a few times (that isn’t a problem when it is near the opposition’s box – you have to have a go at beating the man sometimes) but most importantly he offered constant movement up front.
    Too many times this season we’ve seen our front players stand almost still waiting for the ball to come to their feet. The front three of Emnes, Kamara and Adomah were constantly moving and looking to create space. This is quite possibly the reason why most of our passes were forward passes, because the space was there to pass into created by three players up front who played much more like a proper 4-3-3 and not the 4-5-1 we’ve seen recently.
    We also saw a lot of one touch football. In the previous game, Kamara seemed to the only one capable of moving the ball on to a team mate with one touch. I think Emnes offers that same deft touch and the two of them playing together could link up very well. Along with the industry and creativity of Adomah, that front three would probably be my preference.
    There was still a lot of poor decisions on the ball in defensive positions and clearly work is needed to iron out those mistakes before we can seriously consider ourselves a good team.

  20. Redcar Red –
    great post again!
    Relieved to get the first home win especially after going a goal down and despite trying to give Yeovil another couple of goals. Final score should have been about 7-3 shouldn’t it?
    I agree Williams should be taken out of the team, captain or not he doesn’t warrant a place and in my opinion hasn’t since he came back from injury last season barring the occasional ok performance. After his mistake on Saturday there were cries around me “he’s crap, get him back in midfield, to which there were more cries of he’s crap there too.
    Ben Gibson with A N Other for me,and because of the lack of pace in defence I would prefer to see Hoyte play instead of Richardson.
    I said on the last blog that Whitehead needed time out,he does give the ball away too much,Leadbitter and being more impressive every game Butterfield together with Varga is the trio for me if we are playing three central midfielders.
    Kamara still looks the best option up front. A great powerful header for his goal. I can’t help thinking if that was Juke it would have gone three feet over the crossbar. Emnes was a surprise selection and showed some nice touches but never looks like he is going to score and lacks heart and determination where it matters in the box.
    Basement club Barnsley next. They will trouble us more than Yeovil. Our defence is going to have to stop gifting the opposition goals,one clean sheet at Charlton (and we were lucky to get that) is not good enough for a team hoping to make the play offs or better.

  21. Ian –
    I assume that as Mogga doesn’t play him that means Richie Smallwood isn’t good enough. Rhys on the other hand has had some excellent games in midfield.

  22. Nigel Reeve –
    Mentioning Smallwood wasnt a slight on Rhys, merely an alternative for somebody in midfield..
    I still think Rhys is a player in need of a position to fulfill his potential. I also think he may be better in midfield than in the centre of defence.
    But what do I know? Australia seem to like him at right back and he has had some less than distinguished games there for us.

  23. What do we know about football? What do the professional coaches know? Peter Beardsley TWICE having to go to Vancouver Whitecaps in the hope of making a living in the professional game!
    When he returned to Newcastle he was nearly 23 years old, so no longer a callow youth whose abilities might have not had time to develop, and yet he’d started out as a youth with Newcastle who clearly thought he didn’t have the requisite quality. Carlisle, Vancouver, Man Utd (but only played one league cup game before being given a free and returning to Canada), Vancouver again and THEN Newcastle – this time as an adult not a youth player – before his abilities were properly recognized.
    It’s not as if Beardsley was a borderline player. He was a smallish man but a big talent. Yet he was overlooked for several years before “making it” in the game. The same might be said of Ian Wright. We all make mistakes, and that includes the professionals who “know the game”. A point that may not be lost on Ian Gill at 7.44pm.

  24. Nigel/Ian –
    As well as Australia, from memory Rhys played for Burnley at RB during their promotion Season yet as you say Ian when he came back from injury last season and we tried him at RB he looked like a fish out of water.
    I suspect a lot of it is down to either the tactics required in the role being totally different at Boro contrasted with say Burnley at the time (and Australia) or just simply having a prolonged bad time confidence wise.
    The current Whitehead role would probably suit him and Boro best but I also think Richie Smallwood is a lot better than the sum of his appearances to date. It will probably take a midfield injury/suspension crisis for Richie to get his Gibson moment.

  25. Last Tuesday was a special night for me, Due to my wife being ill I have had to stop working abroad and come home permanently .Before returning home i got the usual farewell promises of keeping in touch, visits etc.
    I had been expecting one Aussie friend to turn up for his first ever game at the Riverside. Working offshore with a lot of UK ex pats he had taken an interest in football and rather than chucking his lot in with the usual Man Utd/Chelsea/Arsenal supporters, chose to follow the Boro as no one else did.
    We arranged to meet in a hotel he was staying in for a whistle stop visit, see the football, few beers etc. I had been suspicious when he refused my offer of a bed for the night, opting instead for a hotel in Eaglescliffe.
    Turning up at the hotel on Tuesday afternoon I was blown away when i discovered that he wasn’t alone, Nine lads all kitted out in Boro shirts and scarves, were also there, having flown in from various parts of the world/driven long distances from their homes in UK.
    The crux of this e mail is to place on record my gratitude to Middlesbrough Football Club for the way they accommodated them at short notice, organising shirts, printing, merchandise, match tickets and entry to the Hardwick suite.
    The lads were taken aback by the service afforded them. Some of these lads were veterans of the Premiership supporting teams already mentioned, some were foreigners experiencing their first ever football match and all remarked on how friendly the staff were and how fantastic the whole experience had been. “You may be in the Championship, but this is a Premiership club in all but name” was one of the many comments by the Man Utd/Liverpool fans within the contingent.
    The cynics amongst us would argue that of course the club would pull out all the stops, anything to get the business. But the whole event was made all the more fantastic by which the way the club went about it, even letting us in early due to a mix up over times.
    Jason Steele did his bit, coming over, posing for pictures outside the Ayresome gates. The events lady (I didn’t catch her name) ensured a signed shirt was presented after the match and took the time to come over and ask if everything had gone well
    It made me proud to be a Boro fan, its just a shame we couldn’t have got Saturdays result on Tuesday, but it didn’t detract from a fantastic evening.
    In times when all is not going well, and historical reports of lack of fan engagement, I wanted to post this to say that for me and nine of my friends, Tuesday night was one to remember.
    **AV writes: Boro are getting a lot better on doing the little things like this. It is always nice to hear positive little stories like this.

  26. AV –
    The indivuals at the club I have dealt have always been great.
    Going back to the Ravenelli era we lived away so couldn’t get to the Riverside. We were up for a funeral and I took my son to the ground. We got tickets for the cup match at Derby as well as his first Boro shirt. I took him in to reception to have a look and they gave him an improptu trip round the ground. Not a full tour but dressing rooms, tunnel and to the pitch.
    The Boro DNA triggered.
    It was more the corporate culture of MFC that seemed to be the problem.

  27. Reading articles, listening to comments and reading posts prompted me to give some thought about chickens and eggs.
    I believe in supporting the team and don’t boo, I get behind them when I go and rarely leave early, a handful of times over 50 years.
    If you take a hard nosed view of the situation these players are on far more than the vast majority of hard pressed supporters.
    The players want the fans, pensioners, unemployed, students, low paid employees etc to lift them.
    How many times have we trudged across the wilderness or driven for a few hours only for us to be in place for kick off and the players to turn up late. Or the fans get criticised for leaving early when the team packed in after 75 minutes.
    It isn’t that simple because it is our team, the players are short term guests but it does give food for thought. It is an entertainment business, I personally don’t like hair shirt documentaries..

  28. Ian –
    Agreed. I’m not sure what Rhys’ best position is, although I think his personal preference is CB and I think thats where Mogga sees him too.
    I suspect he is a good CB who is suffering a lack of form. Making daft mistakes once in a while is usually a sign of poor form rather than a lack of ability.
    As for Richie Smallwood, my point which I didn’t make well, was that I assume Mogga doesnt rate him otherwise we’d see him more often. I haven’t seen him play enough to have a view.
    **AV writes: If Mogga didn’t rate him he wouldn’t be on the bench every week. He is seen as back-up to what is now a very strong group of central midfielders.

  29. Did anyone notice that Ladesma played for the U21s yesterday? He made two goals (one for Smallwood) and scored one himself. Then he even earned a penalty for Boro – only to miss from the spot.
    Interesting to see if we see more of him in the first team now. He was there or thereabouts before he got his red card and suspension. So the competition for places is hotting up at Boro. Still I would like to see more of Richie Smallwood, too.
    And we definately need a centre back soon. Competiition is good as well as having cover for injuries.
    Up the Boro!

  30. Nigel (and AV) –
    No manager would admit it but they do tend to play players they bought. I am not having a go at Mogga, it is a general point.
    **AV writes: Yes. But they buy those players because they don’t think the ones they already have are good enough.

  31. This thread has received a couple of really excellent posts, so thanks to Redcar Red and PP.
    Also some good valid points by Ian. Football is an entertainment industry now, like it or not. The competition is hot out there, with many value for money products.It’s not like the old days many of us on here remember.
    Thanks AV for sticking your head above the parapet, I would ideally like to see another LB, competition/cover for GF.

  32. AV –
    Then they say it was a crap signing and exile him on loan after 10 matches? Answers on a postcard.
    All fans will relate to what I am saying. I repeat it is not a criticism aimed at Mogga but managers in general. I used to call it ‘not invented here syndrome’. If all central midfield players were fit Smallwood would start if we played six in midfield.
    Mogga is no different to other managers. I live amongst fans of other teams and they say the same about their clubs.

  33. So it has to be the question” How long before Richie Smallwood asks for a transfer?”
    You couldn’t blame him. Managers only see him as cover in an injury crisis, each season we sign new midfielders and each season Smallwood is behind them in the pecking order. Must be disheartening for the lad to know he is never going to be first choice.
    He doesn’t even get the chance to go out on loan and show the manager how good he could or can be playing every week like Ben Gibson did. He won’t want to look back in a few years and realise he wasted some of his best playing years being a bench boy.
    You only have to look at Cameron Park, Bruno Pilates, Curtis Main, Luke Williams, all supposedly good players and future first teamers yet never gaining a regular first team place. They arn’t that young now either, all into their twenties and younger players than them are playing regularly in the Premiership and if they are good enough they should be getting a regular game in the championship by now.

  34. Beatng Yeovil 4-1 is no big deal.I think most teams will beat Yeovil this season.
    I see Nigel Clough was sacked at Derby and he has had better results than TM this season. I would have liked to have see SM back,better than the one we have now. I also find it embarrassing watching on TV with row upon row of empty seats, surely SG is not going to continually back this club with it’s abysmal support.
    Teesside is on of the largest conurbations in the country and with only 13000 supporters it is pathetic.
    **AV writes: Leeds and West Yorkshire is providing only just over 20k at Elland Road, It is about four years of treading water in division two, not demographics.

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