TV Stars Switch On The Style

BORO’s small screen sizzler against Doncaster was a populist affair: caretaker boss Mark Venus managed to address all demands anxious supporters had been making for months.
We all said Tony Mowbray’s team just needed a bit or tweaking after falling frustratingly short, that it had plenty of talent but wasn’t quite the sum of its parts.We all said that if the problems at the back could be tackled then Boro had enough going forward to hurt teams and were not far off. Many felt it more about changing the mindset than the mechanics..
Against Doncaster we all saw how potent those tweaks could prove in a pulsating 4-0 win..

In a radical shake up with six charges and a return to a conventional 442, Venus bombed out the long time occupants of the fragile full-back positions and filled those slots with players more often deployed as central defenders, although one of those has played international football in that role and the other came through the ranks playing on the left..
That added solidity in what so often have been inviting empty acres to be ruthlessly exploited by lesser but perceptive opposition. And crucially it liberated the flying flankers on both sides to get forward more and really and let rip. And both did. Along side revived Emnes and hard-working Kamara that gave Boro real bite and movement up front that was a pleasure to watch. Unless you are a Doncaster fan of course.
He Venus dropped some of the weak links of recent weeks: trainee hack George Friend and Frazer Richardson were axed along with disappointingly limp midfield man Dean Whitehead. Any forensic examination of Boro’s goals against column this term would put one of those recidivists near the scene of the crime for the bulk.
Lukas Jutkiewicz was also back on the bench. He works hard but on occasions has slowed down the attack and has has proved targetophobic too often. Barnsley for instance. Alongside the Doncaster display of pace, penetration and fluidity he looks glacial. It seems on that showing he will have to settle for being Plan B.
The ones that came in delivered. Richie Smallwood and Marvin Emnes – both impressive second half substitutes at Barnsley – were fantastic. Carayol was electric and almost unplyable in the first half on a night when both wingers finally took off. New boy Daniel Ayala was impressively solid and grabbed a goal too. The team looked a different prospect altogether.
Most importantly Boro set out to attack from the off, There was no cagey, low tempo start feeling out the opposition, trying to come to terms with their shape before trying to tentatively take control. This was assertive. There was an urgency. And rightly so , Boro were at home to The Likes Of Doncaster. With four creative front runners and a collective intensity and high -tempo they swamped a poor Rovers and could have had a few more goals. Although with a coupon in my pocket with 4-0 at 33/1 I’m happy they didn’t.
It was visibly Mogga’s side. Three of his signing scored and they set about the game in exactly the utopian high tempo passing style he has championed and insisted was his goal -. It is ironic – and a little bit sad – that it wasn’t until after he carried the can for a spluttering start that they finally clicked into gear. But everyone recognised the continuity.
The post-match interviews all gave a nod to the departed boss and the fans made their feeling clear: there was a long, loud and poignant second half chorus insisted Tony Mowbray, a man who crystalises the ‘Spirit of Teesside’, is king. It was a bit awkward. “Like cheating on our lass,” someone said. A guilty pleasure.. But a pleasure nevertheless.
It was important to win, to sweep away the gloom of last week, to banish negativity and to send out a strong message that the season is far from over And it was important to do it in style, both for the 22,000 who crowd who turned out to enjoy a cracking game in a vibrant atmosphere and for the watching armchair army who need to be won back to galvanise the season and give Boro a crucial boost on the cash-flow front.
Boro have now scored 10 in the last three games and 11 in the last three at home which shows where their strengths lie. So it was also important to get the clean sheet and rebuild confidence in the department where the chief weaknesses are..
I enjoyed it. Who wouldn’t. Getting at the opposition, good passing football at a high tempo. That is what the spirit of Teesside is about. It is what Mogga would have wanted. It is what it is.


38 thoughts on “TV Stars Switch On The Style

  1. Delighted with tonight’s result. Finally, a convincing win at home amongst a crowd of up for it punters. Harks back to the “not so old” days before I changed country in 2000.
    Wish I could have been in the stands tonight.
    Glad to see Venus go with what most of us thought he would -and were crying out for Mogga to do – a 4-4-2; a system that played to our strengths and paid off with an emphatic win and a very important – for many, many reasons – clean sheet.
    Yes, we were shaky at times but overall, I think we were pretty solid.
    Going by the post match interviews, Woody looks to be taking on his Captaincy very seriously – He was very honest, forthright and level headed during his extended interview, as was Adomah. Both took the time to thank Mogga too which was a nice touch.
    Ayala looks worth every penny we didn’t spend on him and seems to have a maturity and temperament that is well above his true age. I feel for the lad being sidelined for 2 years, but he now has the chance to stake his claim to a regular place in the Boro line up and help us be successful.
    Glad to see the changes made to the squad and the formation. Smallwood proved he is more than worthy of selection on a weekly basis if he keeps it up.
    Just really glad to see we didn’t get Mogga-Lite in terms of the team selection. Pretty bold move by Venus, who is clearly wanting to stamp his own personal authority on the team. Can he keep it up? Who knows but I’m happy he is being given the chance to shine.
    Glad to see Woody say we’re still not good enough, but “better”. Glad he didn’t spout out the usual platitudes expected of footballers.
    I think confidence will certainly be up and long may it continue.
    Let’s build from this result. UTB!

  2. Excellent.
    A bit of square pegging but at least Williams can play full back – truth is many of us dont know his best position.
    Gibson left back was a worry but he can pass with his left foot that makes a huge advantage over someone always having to turn back on to their right foot.
    The front four terrorised Rovers, well recruited Mogga. Well set out Venus.
    Pleased for Smallwood getting and justifying his start but in the words of young Mr Grace ‘you’ve all done very well’.

  3. Could have gone to a party last night but decided to watch the Boro instead- what a good decision. The strikers enjoying themselves, big smiles on their faces as goal after goal was scored, midfield organised and gettiing stuck in , defence a little shaky but then we know why. Still l went to bed a much happier man.
    But then many of us here had pressed for change for sometime whilst others adopted what can only be described as an unconditional love fest.
    l wish Mark Venus and the lads every success because of course their success is mine and l can go to bed with a smile on my face.

  4. What a night. I can’t help feel though that if Mogga was in charge Donny would have scored that early chance and Adomah would have blazed over but there you go.
    Great to see them get at the opposition from the off, and from then on they harried Doncaster all over the pitch, Smallwood was superb. He doesn’t get involved enough for me sometimes, but if he plays like that all the time he should be a regular. Could be a proper box-to-box player.
    Ayala looks like he could be what we have been looking for and Williams had a good game at right-back. Leaves us with a bit of an unbalanced squad if he continues though with three RBs watching him from the stand.
    And that front four. Wow – if they continue in this form we could destroy teams. Carayol was unplayable 1st half, Emnes 2nd. Adomah can’t stop scoring and Kamara has the knack of popping up with goals as well.
    With Juke as a plan B suddenly things look a lot rosier. I wasn’t convinced sacking Mogga was the right decision but you can’t fail to get carried away with the optimism now.
    Having said that, it was probably easy to motivate the player tonight with the circumstances and the atmosphere, it might be harder in the next game at 3pm on a Saturday in front of 13,000. Let’s hope it continues.

  5. Maybe I should stay away more often!
    I caught the last 30 minutes in a bar and couldn’t believe what I was watching, Venus had removed the stabilizers and they were playing with the handbrake off!
    Have to admit that Ayala impressed me a lot and I was less than enthusiastic that he was the type of defender needed but fair play to the lad he obviously wants it and put in a good performance from the bit I saw.
    Marvin was marvelous and delighted that he got the Sky MOM award. A nice touch considering he has had a difficult time of late.
    So four goals, a clean sheet. entertaining football, three points, some spirit and hope restored well done to Venus and the players. As a lot of us had been saying we were better than the points to date showed, it’s just a shame that Mogga couldn’t see the merits of changing without throwing everything away. The tactics changed but pacy free flowing and entertaining football won last night, all virtues of Mogga’s reign. I wish I had went after all and that’s exactly the emotion SG will be hoping for.
    Last night could have been a PR disaster and lost Boro to even more fans and retarded hopes to get more bums on seats. As it turned out it was a major success and huge congratulations to all those involved not forgetting Mogga, it was his players from the squad he assembled after all.

  6. Four Centre Halves and four “Wingers” in the starting line up…. Thankfully it went well or it could have been the shortest caretakership in history.
    I seem to remember Steve McClaren starting with 4 CH’s once and he got blasted. Probably because we got beat. Will be interesting to see the line up away or against a good team.

  7. Incomplete recuperation from surgery in James Cook meant I couldn’t be there.
    That seemed odd: it was a night to be part of. It showed that Mowbray’s legacy might be bright, as players he found and brought to the club showed they have real quality. We shall, I’m afraid, have Premier clubs looking closely at Adomah.
    We can still have a good season. Even if we don’t make them we can at least be in contention for the play-offs. But I hope the sometimes sentimental Mr Gibson doesn’t get carried away with this win, and perhaps another couple, and offer the job to Venus.
    He certainly did a good job last night and his playing of four centre backs was a simple way of making us more robust. But we need someone of greater experience and, perhaps, greater stature. We need someone who can attract good players to the club and encourage those we have to stay. People like Martin O Neill and Mike Phelan can do that. I don’t think Venus can.

  8. Marby Bum –
    Gate played four centre backs against Blackburn in our relegation season at home against Blackburn but topped it with an extra one, Bates, in midfield. We were utterly bereft that day, Corporal Jones was man of the match.
    As I posted earlier, at least Williams is a right back as well as a centre back.

  9. I was lovely (and a relief) to see by far the biggest crowd of the season treated to a display that might convince many of the stay-aways to go again.
    In my rather-too-many-decades of following Boro, a big event and big attendance almost always has produced a flop. Just when there was some momentum, just when people were taking notice, just when the crowds had flocked – FLOP. Time after time, the outcome was that people were in the process of being won over from their doubts were, in the end, confirmed and further entrenched in their cynicism. It was a vicious cycle that lost Boro thousands of supporters, including me dad, who was a die-hard from the 20s.
    Not last night. Well done everybody. I think AV may well be spot on (again, dammit): TM may prove to be the Stan Anderson to Jack Charlton, i.e. the nearly-man who paved the way for the successful next manager.
    However there are far bigger tests ahead. We’ll know better the lie of the land after the next few games. Wouldn’t it be nice to win at Leeds? The last time I saw that was my first-ever Boro match over 50 years ago.

  10. No-one complains about square peggism when it works, same as no-one complains when you change the team around and it works.

  11. So glad it all went to script last night, so congratulations to all involved.
    Thought Mark Venus took a really bold approach, going with in my mind was really 424. At times the forwards were excellent, with some great passing considering the weather.
    I thought that although Leadbetter and Smallwood played well, they were at times having to cover too much ground and Doncaster were able to get hold of the ball a little too easily. Against a better team I would think Venus will have to change the shape slightly.
    However enjoyed the moment, just tainted slightly by TM’s sacking.

  12. Clearly the setup of Venus’s team failed to confuse the opposition manager with the result that neither were the players or supporters confused.
    Perhaps giving players a simple straight-forward task that they know how to execute outweighs trying to get them to adhere to more complex tactics – and in most cases at Championship level it should be enough to see off ‘the likes of Doncaster’.
    I was able to watch the entire game on-line and what an entertaining treat that was compared to my visit last season to watch a disjointed uninspiring display against ‘the likes of Peterborough’.
    Venus clearly had identified which players had been under-performing and dropped them or in Rhys’s case moved into a slightly less exposing position – I still thought he looked tentative on the ball, typical of a player low in confidence, but he got better as the game progressed.
    The unshackled front four look like they will be a force against most teams and Smallwood looks capable of being an important player for Boro. Ayala looked a class player and hopefully every game will see him grow.
    As for how long Venus will continue? my first thought was that given that Boro are close to this season’s FFP limit, can we actually afford to employ a new manager who would command a £1m salary if the club has to compensate Mowbray as well? It may come down to a choice between getting in a few key players or a new manager and backroom staff.
    Maybe if the next couple of games go well Venus may keep his caretaker role until January before Gibson needs to make that decision.
    So we should soon see if Boro are back on track or whether it was just a dead moggy bounce?

  13. I think the back four still needs further work. We were left exposed a few too many times and a better team than Donny might well have profited. But hey, that’s a minor whinge, for that was a thoroughly professional, enjoyable performance.
    We’ve been saying for a while we would soon murder someone, and we could have scored even more than the four very good goals we did get.
    And the best thing about the performance, apart from Marvin playing a blinder in his free-roving role, was that Boro perpetually passed the ball forwards! Forwards! Alleluia! And by passing forwards we created umpteen good chances. I don’t know whether this was evolution or revolution, but it was great! Let’s have much more of this, please!

  14. Five things to say:
    1. Rhys Williams at right back is his best position. First saw him play for the club in a friendly against Hibernian a few years ago.
    2. Everyone played well.
    3. Well done for everyone turning up21K+ brilliant.
    4. More direct football worked.
    5. There’s only one Tony Mowbray.

  15. Been on a business trip all weekend but had the change to see the match on internet on Friday. A great performance all around.
    I liked the new boy Ayala. Excellent performance considering he has not played since January. I agree that right back could be Rhys best position. If so we need to shift a few RBs away and then we need another CB more!
    The team is still average as Woody said. So nothing to get carried away yet. But it was good to give a good performance in front of the TV cameras. And the crowd was excellent.
    I still think we have a good team and the play-offs are a possibility. That must be the aim and we can only get better with this average team. And we can buy a player or two in January – remember that. We have money.
    I certainly won’t get carried away with just one result. I will be intresting to see if Venus keeps the same team or makes some changes next Saturday, though. Tinkering or keeping a winning team. And Woody was excellent captain, but is he fit again?
    So a lot needs to be done but as said we can get better with this average team of Woody. And a couple of new signings in January as good as Ayala – who knows? The play-offs are there to be reached by an improving team.
    So seeing some light in the end of tunnel again after a tough week. We are still alive. Up the Boro.

  16. AV –
    A fine tap in at the far post of the fancy dress empty net.
    A quick thought, non Boro, on the games custodians worldwide.
    I didnt see Man City in Russia so can make noe comment on racist chanting but that means I have no pre conceived ideas.
    The powers that be say that the referee should take the players off. The ref has enough on his plate, to him maybe it is background noise. The authorities have an assessor,observer in the stand who says he heard and saw nothing.
    As a ref, would you trust the authorities to back you up?

  17. A few weeks ago i was labelled a smug “i told you so’er” by Paulista park and the other Moggettes for predicting our lack of progress under Mowbray.
    Well after fridays performance i’ve got one thing to say… I’m not being smug but, i told you so .

  18. The Boro success against Donny was entirely down to me. I stayed away. Deliberately. Emphatically.
    Having attended nearly 20 games and seen not a single point won, after a longish gap I chose to go to Barnsley. Three down by H.T., the correlation was unmissable and scary. I’m a Jonah. For god’s sake, stay away Steve!
    I’m considering going to Mackems games.

  19. The King is dead, long live the King’s best mate!
    Like a lot of funerals it turned out to be a lot more fun than I had imagined. Respects were paid but a lot of fun was had. It was a bit like an Irish wake; sentimental but raucous and thrilling. A local lad got up and sang. Everyone enjoying the occasion but also remembering previous good times with maybe a few tears shed.
    I awoke with a sweet hangover, my head woozy with the excitement of the previous night. A goal fest, plenty of exciting football and a lot of ropey defending. An entirely appropriate epitaph to the departed manager.
    Right hand in the air, Curtis Fleming style, I have to admit I was completely wrong about “Spirit of Teesside”. It wasn’t guff at all. It was genuinely stirring and brilliantly executed. Heartiest congratulations to all concerned with special praise to the Red Faction for their superb “we built the world” banner and excellent vocal support throughout.
    The evening also demonstrated why the reconfiguration of the stadium was such a good idea. Just imagine 10,000 more in that ground with both North and South stands full. What an atmosphere we could generate and what a boost to the team that would be.
    Whatever your thoughts on the fratricide it was great to hear from Steve Gibson this week. His passion for the club shone through, as ever, even if the content was a bit of a mixed bag.
    I appreciate that he came to bury Mowbray not to praise him, but did he have to be so economical with the truth on the finances. Yes, in absolute terms the wage bill under Mowbray was very competitive. The problem was that a significant proportion of it was taken up by two or three players and that hugely restricted Mowbray in reshaping the squad. Expect the chief executive to reinforce the same half truths in the press this week. Et tu Bausor ?
    Easily the best bit of the interview was the praise he gave to the fans and the inspiring call to get behind the club. Interestingly that included fulsome support for the Red Faction, an organisation that was all but banned from the ground not so long ago. Are the club finally embracing fan engagement ? If so it’s been a long time coming.
    I just hope that we don’t lose the momentum built up on Friday and that Gibson sees the importance of continuing the dialogue with fans on a regular basis. He can’t afford just to address the masses after he’s sacked a manager.
    On the pitch I have to confess that I didn’t see the vast improvement that others have noticed. It was much the same as the Yeovil match. We looked full of goals and ran riot against a poor side but we also showed defensive flaws that a better team would exploit. I’m surprised therefore that the game has been portrayed as some kind of tactical triumph for the new manager. Venus vidi vici.
    ” The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones” – Mark Antony on Julius Caeser, not the departed Anthony Mark , but there is a danger in applying the same flawed thinking to Mowbray’s tenure.
    It would be a grave mistake not to recognise the progress made under Mowbray and the improvement in the brand of football. To dismiss his tenure as a complete failure and to rip it up and start again would be a disaster and it is a serious possibility if we’re not careful. We need to build on Mowbray’s legacy not squander it.
    None of us want to be reading about ” The Rise and Fall of the Gibson Empire”

  20. Phil,Norton –
    Paulista Park and the Moggettes ! LOL
    It’s certainly got a ring to it. Crack vocal harmony group. Who are the Moggettes though: Jarkko, Ian and Len.
    All together now ” Fly me to the Moon, let me play among the stars…”

  21. Wow I happened to ask not so long ago “when did we last score four goals at home?” Well its happened twice since then.
    Very impressed with Ayala on his debut. The big lad will win a lot of the ball in our box and score a few in the oppositions.
    I think Venus picked that side to play a team below us in the league and he will tighten up against other teams. Which is how its supposed to work. Still think we need one or two at the back and we should be sorted .
    Got it live on the box this side was a joy to watch and good crowd well done all round.

  22. Myself I don’t think it’s a case of appointing a manager on the cheap or otherwise. If Mark Venus is the guy who can motivate these players then why not give him the job.
    He has obviously had ideas on how to reorganise the defence. The game on Friday was probably a guilt trip by some of these players regards the demise of Mowbray. Now that is out of the system the bigger test is to come.
    One question I have is was Ayala due to sign anyway, or was this linked to Mowbray’s departure.
    Let us understand one thing no matter who gets the managers job there will be disagreement from some one or other. It is what it is in blog land
    **AV writes: Mogga twice tried to sign Ayala only for it fall through. The last time was the day before the QPR game when it was all agreed and they had even printed up his shirt and he practically had his pen poised when Norwich rang to put the deal on hold as they had suffered an injury in training so needed Ayala as cover.

  23. Cracking game, great result.
    The back-line looked shaky at times, which isn’t surprising considering our leak rate and three players in different positions. This area needs lots more work! The front four though were scintilating, movement, passing, desire, hunger, rentention and goals.
    As a TV viewer only its surprising we can play so well but haven’t.
    Aside from the defence the other thing that surprised me was Venus’ post match interview. I am not sure if the emotion of the night got the better of him but he didn’t inspire confidence in me. Some of his answers just didn’t exude the confidence of a “manager”. Maybe this is why he has been a number two or maybe i am just reading too much into it.
    Well done lads.
    Focus for the next game key now. No point building a one block tower to have to start over again and Woody is quoted as saying as much in today’s Gazette (plus other reputable news outlets!)
    Great game to watch, great goals, great excitement. Hopefully everyone at the match went home extremely happy.

  24. Doug, I felt exactly the same about Venus’s interview, but to be fair it could have been nerves. I don’t imagine he’s used to speaking to the media. Having said that, he didn’t sound like someone who expects to be in the job long-term.
    The betting market is crazy, Phelan has drifted out now and Aitor Karanka is odds-on from nowhere.

  25. BoroPhil:
    They just weren’t the comments I wanted to hear from a guy gunning for the top job and staking his claim. I had half walked away from the TV but I am sure his last comment was something about speaking to the chairman and he was always open to speak to him but his main celebration was going to be going home for a beer!
    If i was interviewing a candidate and his last comment was he was going home to have a beer after a stressful interview i would be thinking “wow this isn’t the guy I want to trust my multi million pound operation with.”
    I could be being massively harsh on him but surely if you want the main job, in the post match interview you know the chairman will keep an eye on, after you have just won 4-0, do you end it like that or with a rallying cry to the troops about the next game and the need for focus.
    The last point should be your strongest not leave the impression you could be a nervous wreck and in need of some booze after three days in the job.
    Opportunity wasted for Mr Venus.
    **AV writes: I’m as much a fan of semiotics as the next bloke but really, Boro fans invest far too much time and effort deconstructing the post-match interviews. They get asked the same three or four questions three or four times in 10 minutes when they are still buzzing or agonising over the game and their head is in a whirl and when frankly I’d fancy a pint. Saying just the right think is a learned skill. Being perceived as saying the right is framed by the result and the mindset of the listener.
    If you want to judge what a manager is really about you need to listen/read what they say in the midweek press conference when they give longer and far more considered answers to more open questions that are not predicated on the match.

  26. I know wev’e become a bit of a joke lately with our defending, but Little Jimmy Karankie as the next manager…surely not!

  27. Whats this with the moral few agonising over Venos post match comments?
    If he had said,”Im going home to have a nice dinner and a glass of wine” ala Sir AF then that would be ok right

  28. A Boro Manager just won a convincing and an entertaining victory by four goals and kept a clean sheet. As far as I’m concerned he can be as dull as ditchwater in his interviews or as mad as a box of frogs, who cares?
    Over analysis paralysis seems to be catching in these parts. For once lets just enjoy the moment, they haven’t come along too often at the Riverside so give the bloke a break.

  29. Many congratulations to Kei Kamara for the award given for his outstanding educational work.
    From the outside he also looks to have done a great deal for the Boro’s team spirit. I suspect that he may be an important factor in Marvin Emnes’s return to the kind of form that some of us thought may have gone forever.
    The kind of problems that seemed to weigh so heavily upon Marvin last season may have been put into their appropriate perspective when balanced against the traumatic experiences faced by Kei in his life, and the positive way in which he has responded to them. A great man; I hope he has the success with us that he deserves.

  30. GT:
    Depends on the wine and how much it costs. Then what he’s eating it with and the temp it was served at!!
    A £2k bottle with cake a la Messers Ronney – he’d be my manager for life, what a guy.

  31. Fully agree with Lenmasterman about Special K. He is exactly the type of role model I’m happy for my lads to idolise. It makes a humbling change to read of his off field antics compared to the norm in his profession. If its true about what goes around comes around then hopefully his success on the pitch can take us to the Premiership.

  32. Special K – Kei Kamara – has been a much better player so far than any of us expected. I thought he might be a bench warmers for most of the season but he hit the ground running and had stayed in the team despite a managerial change.
    Beforehand he was considered good for the changing room spirits and was known to be a good chap. But he has been much more than that. Compare him to the previous loan deals Mogga was able to do. I suspect the loan deals are not OK if there is no intention for a permanent deal later on.
    Well done to the lad for the charity work he has done in Africa, too. I hope Ayala will be as good a signing at CB as Special K have been upfront. At least Ayala had a stormer and goalscoring debut on Saturday.
    Up the Boro!

  33. Paulista Park –
    I never thought I would be picked for the Mogettes, some would think I would be back up for Chicken Runner Shack.

  34. Caught up with the posts now.
    As long as the coach doesn’t say we changed the team to match up with the opposition who are 24th in the league, haven’t won for twelve matches, scored two goals in that time and stricken with injuries but it didn’t work out, then how he says it is less of an issue.

  35. And Adomah – one of the best signings made by Mogga. Life is nice when he is on board. I must admit that Mogga has signed some good players when he was able to buy rather than get in a loanee. And Adomah could be our next Juninho – at least in Championship!
    Hopefully Emnes is back to stay. I am already looking forward to the Blackburn match. Exciting times ahead.
    Up the Boro!

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