Reading Between The Lines: Aitor’s Angry at Dismal Display

CHAOTIC. Shambolic. Heartless. Hapless. Disjointed. Undisciplined. Wretched. Pathetic. Inept. Deeply disappointing. Boro’s routine routing at Reading – 2-0 but it could easily have been far worse – was a display lacking shape, cohesion, organisation, energy, intensity, spirit, belief or motivation.
The defence – full-back fixtures and probably the first choice centre-back pairing – played like strangers totally unfamiliar with any sense of the back line basics. Midfield was equally ill at ease with the central pairing fail to get a grip and the widemen ineffective, especially Albert Adomah who barely got a kick. And up-front too. There was little pressing, little movement and next to no threat.
I don’t buy that it was team selection. It was a first choice back four. Two wingers who have been match-winners in the past. A solid central pairing who have dominated games. A front two who have enough about them to make a fist of it. It was a mentality issue, and one that Karanka alluded too after the equally inept display against Millwall.
The boss put his hand up and accepted responsibility and said he felt responsible that he had not been able to motivate his team to go out and fight and play as if it was a big match in the way that Reading did, and Millwall before them and he insisted he will learn from it … but there was an unspoken simmering subtext. He was not happy at the failure of the team to put up a fight.

“Two games two defeats. It was two very bad games. We had bad games with our attitude. We had four games to finish the season well and the last two games have been very, very bad.
“Against Millwall and the same tonight, we played two teams who wanted to win, Millwall and Reading. One team, our team, didn’t want to win. That’s my fault because I didn’t know how to motivate them.
“For the future, I will learn things. For me, whether we finish in eighth or 14th, we should finish in the same way, the right way. I have to motivate the players to finish in the right way. I will choose the right players for the next two games.”

I think some of the players who have dipped just when he demanded an extra gear are in borrowed time.
That’s your lot for now.
Feel free to vent your spleen. I’ll update as soon as possible.

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40 thoughts on “Reading Between The Lines: Aitor’s Angry at Dismal Display

  1. If, as some tweeters suggested, some of the players appeared unmotivated or “already on the beach”, why should I be motivated to post a comment on the match? I’m not getting paid for this.
    It was bad enough listening to the commentary on BBC Tees and following on #borolive. Some poor devils must have spent much of the day going down to the Thames Valley, and then return afterwards, for that game. So forgive me….I will find something else to do.

  2. These past couple of games instead of earning a new contract or cementing their place in the squad a lot of these players have played their way out of the club with these shambolic displays.
    I put a days holiday in today paid £60 for coach and ticket and made a 540 mile round trip,I won’t get back until at least 3am and then have to be at work for 7
    Will the players be in training at 7? I think not,a lie in or even the day off most likely!
    Can’t wait for the season to end now,the players think it already has!!

  3. A typical fizzling out, mid table-languishing, suntan-smearing, speedo-donning, deckchair- lounging and ultimately season ticket diminishing end of season coming up. Yeovil must be praying they only need a win from the last game to stay up. Don’t these hopeless, hapless, unprofessional third-raters know where their wages – or at least part of their wages – come from? Mass clear out required, no question…

  4. I listened to the match on radio 5 extra. That commentary was provided by local radio from Reading. Their view was they were up for it and it was a dead match for us.
    It is no surprise they hadn’t wont at home since January and that Le Fondre hadn’t scored since then either.
    The last two games will be a real test of character.

  5. What always puzzles me is whenever the team’s performance dips, the manager and players just shrug their shoulders and wonder where it came from.
    However, very few of them seem to wonder where the good performances have come even though they probably occur in equal proportion – perhaps the two are actually closely related.
    The disappointing thing for Karanka is that he couldn’t change the performance during the game, which brings us back to the need for leaders on the pitch argument.
    So it’s probably more about the players having the desire and drive to win games rather anything the manager says to them – but once the season is perceived as over where do the priorities of half a team of loanees and those contemplating the world cup lie? I suspect elsewhere.
    At least Karanka won’t be clouded by a flattering end to the season when it comes to his decisions on what is needed this summer.

  6. It’s obvious that decisions on who will be retained are to be made based on performances, aptitude and attitude. If so, last night’s apathy and incompetence must have signed the death warrant of at least half-a-dozen players.

  7. Perhaps it is just as well that we will not finish in 6th place this season. That might have put a veneer of mental strength over the squad.
    If Aitor was having any second thoughts about how and who, surely not any longer. I’m looking forward to seeing how we will shape up in August. In fact, it will be interesting who makes a start against Barnsley.

  8. Spleen vented, top blown,fist shaken – all this since Saturday to finish a thoroughly awful season and another poor year in the Championship.
    I was looking forward to the match on Saturday against Millwall and still harboured thoughts of the play offs. I even settled down to enjoy the game last night listening on the radio which needless to say was switched off after the second goal went in.
    Are we surprised by the lacklustre performance? Of course not, this is the Boro we are talking about, no matter which eleven players we put out on the pitch. It’s something Karanka has to change, the mentality and the professionalism of this team which is sorely lacking.
    Is it because we have too many loan players wearing the shirt? It could be because I for one thought the two lads from Chelsea were very poor on Saturday and although played out of position especially at right back their hearts did not appear to be in it.
    So where will we be next season with five loanees sent back and Juke, Emnes, Smallwood and Reach back in the fold? Karanka will have to rip this team apart and start again I’m afraid as we are limping along to the bitter end.
    It was nice to hear Woody say he would have been one of the boo boys if he had been watching but I’m afraid that he has to go as his injury prone season and obvious lack of pace on Saturday contributed to our poor performance.
    So is there any good news? Well I’m still prepared to give our coaching staff the benefit of the doubt and see what they do with their own team and possible new recruits next season. Also after playing all the teams in the Championship with the exception of the relegated teams from the Premiership and the newly promoted teams then Karanka should have some idea how to play against them. As Leicester have proved this season you don’t have to be a flair team to get out of this league just show a bit of consistency.
    I’ll be there on Saturday and hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy the rest of the weekend after the result…………
    Fat Bob

  9. AV –
    This mentality issue, I don’t doubt it but the worry is that we were debating this from around Christmas last year. Our chairman said he felt the same as did our then manager.
    Last night Dimi, Varga, Omerou, Gibson, Whitehead, Chalobah, Adomah, L Williams and Graham all played – none of them were playing for us back when we felt we had a weak mentality and we’ve also had a complete overhaul of the coaching staff since then. Have we just replaced like for like? Or is it that inconsistency is just the norm for the Championship and sooner or later we’d better just get used to it or hope we can do a Burnley.
    One other point, has anyone else noticed that going into the second of the Easter fixtures Blackburn, Bolton, Bournemouth, Derby and Reading all had an extra day of recovery between matches over the opponents? Only Bolton lost their second game, narrowly and somewhat understandably, to Leicester. Bournemouth got a good draw away at Ipswich, the others all won.

  10. AV –
    Hope you do well the the blog play off finals. Sterling service, great help and information and always happy to engage. You should be in the Premier League!
    As for Boro, my natural cynicism, two games ago, wanted me to say that we would never win the last four and we will drop off. My foam fingers simply couldn’t type it. Well, the foam finger has been ripped off 2013/14 and I am picking at the rest of the hand.
    Up the upside we are very annoyed to have buzzed away a near impossible mathematical series of results. This is a positive thing. We can see the light that the playoffs, sustaining a push and promotion should be there if only the players would control, pass and fight for the football.
    Oh well. Mid-table nothingness for us.
    Next season now – the last two games – one will be a rousing fightback from these two defeats, the other will be a damp squid holiday mode performance.
    We need a striker who can score for fun – plenty of these around. More wingers and a few defenders. And probably the last of Mr Steele – shame that. Juke, Emnes – big wages to go. R Williams – probably needs the boot as well, 15-18k (guess)a week to not add much and be a permacrock is from years gone by at boro. Shame for the lad but we need those wages for a productive player.
    Quiet a few out, hopefully more quality in.
    Promo next year. COB!

  11. After supporting this team for over 40 years I have never been so disheartened after such a dismissal performance with an attitude in the team which suggests that all is not good at the office.
    The performance last night was like watching Harry Potter and the Dementors! This team certainly knows how to suck the enjoyment of watching football out of you and kill an atmosphere where the Boro ‘die-hard’ fans do all they can to get behind this shambles.
    I was seriously thinking of contacting VISA to stop the payment for the tickets – based on ‘damaged goods’what a waste of £52 – and the travel – an absolute waste of money, time and effort.
    Some teams have refunded their fans after dismissal performances and in recognition of such an awful performance the Boro as a club should have the morale courage and give us fans a refund for last nights performance. It is not on.

  12. Sounds awful, AV, and thoroughly depressing. Your opening line adjectives are eerily reminiscent of the stuff I wrote after Mogga’s shambolic final defeat at Barnsley. Oh, and look who we’ve got on Saturday …… the self-same Barnsley, still desperate for points. I wonder which team will be the more motivated?
    I decided after the Millwall game that I can find better things to do this Saturday than travel another 240 miles to see this shower. They wouldn’t come to see me if I was bad, as my Dad used to say, cynically scarred from his experience of watching Boro fail year after year.
    Unfortunately, I persuaded my brother BEFORE the Millwall game that it would be good to go to Yeovil. You never know, I said, we just might need three points to make the play-offs. So we bought the tickets. Are you having a larf? Needless to say, my brother and I are not exactly looking forward to that very long, very pointless trip now, especially as I shall have to leave home at 5.00 am. I suppose I might be able to buy some scrumpy, but I could probably get that at Morrisons.
    Time for Aitor to ditch some of the loanees. Our future lies much more with some of the academy boys. Let’s give them a game or two – Atkinson, Morris, et al. After all, they can’t do any worse, and you never know, they might just show a bit of passion.

  13. As Powmill says the Barnsley line up will be interesting, I expect it to speak loudly of who Karanka is going to ditch come the end of the season.

  14. I agree with Clive I would like to see Morris, maybe Atkinson and a recalled Reach play on Saturday.
    There again as the manager says, we must respect the integrity of the competition. We have to be fair to Barnsley and Yeovil, they too should have the opportunity to play against the deadbeats who represented us in the last two games.
    Still uncertain on Karanka. His treatment of Butterfield puzzles me to say the least and rumours of training ground “interventions” were a concern but I think that Higgy was correctly identified as a link into the dressing room and I actually took heart from his words after the Millwall defeat.
    It IS about mentality, he sees the problem, in his playing career he was a winner, so hopefully he can recognise that quality in others.
    Of course signing them and recognising them isn’t the same thing at all.

  15. In some ways you can understand the players perusing holiday brochures on the coach to Reading.
    If the results were going against us at half time on Saturday or we were playing Monday and all the top the teams above us had pulled away then maybe that could lead to a lack lustre performance.
    I don’t accept any of the tosh I have just written. But at home to Millwall with the play offs still an outside possibility?
    Better Boro teams than this one has have performed no shows before. ‘Gates team did it for half a season.
    At a loss.

  16. Well I’d like to thank AV and fellow bloggers for some excellent prose and observations during another dismal season.
    At least AV and the rest of us didn’t give up. Even with two games to go, I’m sure we will continue to try hard to find the words to describe this shambolic end to a season. As for the players,well, further words fail me.

  17. From Phil Tallentire’s non-article tonight it strikes me that the Gazette is sitting by the same pool as the players. Sorry AV, I know he’s your mate and he has a column inch KPI, but really… I read and re-read both the headline and the piece looking for some insightful jouralism but failed miserably…maybe I’m on me jollies too?

  18. No point in over analysing another painfully poor disheartened performance. I am now focusing on the positive in that Aitor and Higgy now know what they have got. By now it should be clear to them who the ones with genuine class and ability are, who the carthorses but with big hearts are, who have ego’s bigger than their ability and who are just plain garbage.
    The rebuild begins now, I think Aitor is the best man for the job despite him learning as he goes. He has got more right than wrong this season. We also know from Higgy’s spell on BBC Tees that he can see what we can see.
    I would like to keep, Big Ben, Ayala, Varga, Friend, Muzzy, Albert, Grant, Butts, Ledesma and Tomlin. The others are either garbage or maybe worth keeping,
    I won’t name the garbage as it becomes a tad personal so that means I can’t name those who are maybe worth keeping. No doubt some of the Maybe’s will be around next season but lets hope the indifference or lack of ability shown by some means the exit door, they are a drain on professionalism around the club.
    Most worrying is that only 10 players out of the current squad meet my “want to keep” criteria and even some of them need to look in the mirror and ask why they don’t perform week in week out. For the avoidance of doubt I use the word “squad” rather than in the Team.
    Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of York yer know what I mean like or words to that effect!

  19. Bang on Cassandra, I’ve just come from Phil Tallentire’s non-article tonight, re-reading the headline and article over and over. I headed over to AV’s blog hoping it had been updated with the subtext and what’s he thinks is going on.

  20. Just had a quick glance at the Championship form table for the last six games.
    We are joint second with 4 wins and 12 points, only Derby are above us. That’s two points per game and probable automatic promotion form if applied over the season.
    The last two games have been disappointing defeats but it doesn’t warrant the hysteria from some on here. Worst game for 40 years, people need to get a grip.
    After the Millwall loss it was if the world had ended because a miniscule chance of a play-off place had gone. The outcome was not freakish or unacceptable , it was an entirely predictable result between a team in form and scrapping for their championship future, against an average side with very little to play for.
    Far more freakish was the 3-1 win with 9 men over a Birmingham side that dominated for long periods or the away win at now promoted Burnley who somehow failed to score despite 30 shots and 70% possession.
    We are now the epitome of Championship mediocrity, capable of winning a few on the bounce with a bit of good fortune but equally likely to go on a winless streak if the luck’s against us. This season we’ve been no higher than 9th and no lower than 16th. Nowhere near promotion but never in danger of going down.
    Marooned in that middle eight of the league, totally bog standard, “the likes of” Middlesbrough alongside the “likes of” Ipswich and Watford. Given our wage bill, which is around the 10th largest in the league, we have no right to expect much more. There’s certainly no justification in throwing the toys out of the pram because we haven’t made the play-offs.
    I hope I’m wrong but it’s unlikely things will change too much next season. A middling wage bill and budget producing a likely middle table finish. Probably at least 25-1 for the title if you fancy a flutter, perhaps 7-1 for promotion. A chance of going up but a slim one.
    If you take off the “It’s the Premier league or nothing ”goggles and look at the wider picture then there’s a lot to be positive about at our club.
    Fan engagement improving with an award winning family initiative, ahead of the curve in terms of financial fair play, still backed by an inspirational chairman to the maximum allowed under FFP, a category A academy, a developing scouting network, our own ground and excellent training facilities.
    Unfortunately this all gets obscured by the red mist that descends because has club has the audacity to be playing in the second tier again next season. The same tier we’ve historically spent most of our time in.
    Karanka has so far made a decent fist of the job, particularly given the huge cultural obstacles he has faced, but I fear for him next season if people continue to demand promotion as a right and see a play off postion as a minimum requirement.
    Anything other than a flying start will put him under serious pressure and if, horror of horrors, we are as low as 16th after 12 games he may well not make it to his one year anniversary bash. Like his predecessor he may well ultimately be the victim of unrealistic expectations. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. It ith was it ith.

  21. Paulista Park –
    You misunderstand the comments from the last two games.
    I and alot of other fellow bloggers on here,can take defeat,can take missing out on the play-offs however unlikely it was to be.
    What we can’t take is the manner of defeat: half hearted,no passion, commitment, desire, even Karanka has said as much especially as that was evident in the four games we won previous to these two.
    Hardly throwing our toys out of the pram, just asking them to show the same level of commitment to us that we do for them at home and on our travels around the country

  22. I think at Championship level the wage bill is a crude measurement of a team’s ability. OK, there are a reasonable number of PL players still at relegated clubs but if a player is half-decent then he’ll normally be plying his trade in the PL on PL wages.
    I think what you get at this level is rarely proven quality, clubs take a risk on various attributes such as potential, attitude, injury-proneness and there’s usually quite a large margin for error – as we have often seen at Boro where the value for money was hard to see.
    Also you’d have to measure the wage bill to include the full wages of loan players and not those the club actually pays if you want to reflect value – I think loan signings hold the key to adding the quality that will take you that extra mile. But ultimately the number of points on the board is the only measure of the team that means anything.
    I think under Karanka Boro have been a top six club so the evidence is there to suggest that is a realistic ambition for us over a full season – he had more or less a ten point handicap and no pre-season or English football experience so it was never going to be any easy task.
    Boro need to set a target of a top six finish to focus everyone on being consistent – I think teams either see themselves as aiming to stay up or trying for the play-offs, plus a handful may see automatic promotion as the target (probably relegated clubs and play-off losers).
    The first ten games of next season will set the tone so it will be important to be up among the pack – but it’s probably the supporters who really need time on the beach this time round to recharge their batteries.

  23. I largely agree with Paulista. Considering our budget and our history, we should not be over-surprised to be mid-table in the second tier.
    Where I disagree is over the prognosis for next season. Who expected Burnley to go up? With their resources and having sold Charlie Austin they looked more like they had settled for life in the Championship and were cutting their cloth accordingly.
    I’ve said this before: you don’t need to get much right to gain promotion. I had to wait 14 years for my first taste of Boro in the top flight. Where Stan Anderson had struggled, big Jack got it right immediately. No big spend, no revolution, just a couple of new players and a re-jig of team shape – light blue touch paper and stand back. What had seemed an insurmountable obstacle all fell into place with apparent ease.
    With the example of ’74 and Burnley, I see no reason why Boro cannot follow suit before long.

  24. Quite an awful game at Reading. Back in Teesside at around 4 AM – so got a glimpse of the routine a regular supporter is having at weekday away much. Quite a distance!
    We were offered a lift down there by John, who was singing all the match in support of the Boro. A nice chap as was a gentleman from Whitby who even gave me his Boro scarf saying “Smoggie” – perhaps I am half accepted as a smoggie?
    So yesterday we were too tired – too little of sleep for over 50 year old – to go anywhere. So we had a dinner in a nearby Inn (recommended by AV on Twitter). So we went there and meet Gary Gill there. He is in charge of the whole recruitment department. He has three full time scouts at Rockcliffe Park, some 10 part-time scouts in Britain, one in Holland, Spain, etc. I was told to keep my eyes open for any Finnish talent.
    We also got free drinks – so our loyalty was finally rewarded. We – I and my wife – do have an advantage over local supporters, though. As we are on holiday we need to eat out every day and so we meet people. And of course the locals are so polite. This wouldn’t happen at Man Utd, would it?
    So next to Castleton and some walking. I need to take me missus out so I can be at the Navi at 1:30 PM on Saturday. I hope we won’t loose to Barnsley as that would make it three defeats in row – my worst saldo for a visit.
    Up the Boro and the area.

  25. Just to concur with Never Give Up on Boro,
    I can live with defeat, what rankles is players showing less than 100% commitment. It rankles even more when there is a chance no matter how slim that 100% effort in the last four games might have taken us to sixth and a pop at promotion.
    If we’d beaten Millwall and Reading which we were capable of doing then we’d be two points shy of the play offs with two to go. As fans what we want is some excitement occasionally, the players have failed to deliver that.
    Redcar Red’s post listing who he would retain throws up for me just how difficult a managers job is, as I read the list I was noding in agreement until I got to ‘Ledesma’! I wouldn’t pay that bloke in pigeon droppings, he’s a lightweight who is incapable of any sort of consistency. Being able to pop up with a moment of genius once in a while or the odd stunning free kick is no where near enough. He needs to be shipped out along with several others.
    Last Summer we were teased with promises of two or three ‘exciting’ players from the continent none of whom materialised. If I remember rightly AV alluded to the fact that Gibbo had been frustrated at Mogga’s reluctance to take the players on.
    Let’s hope the new scouting network along with Karanka’s support, allows us to sign two or three players with some flair, desire and commitment. Any successful team needs a couple of players who have blinding seasons to be successful. At the moment we haven’t got any players who fill that category.

  26. Paulista Park –
    Just to reiterate Never Give up on Boro comment and my own.
    I have seen a lot of poor performances over the last 40 years as we all have but it is the ‘manner of the defeat’ which gets supporters backs up. We all understand we are nowhere near a Premiership team and we are a middle of the Championship team, but to not show any desire to try to win and the body languague of some of the players on Tuesday night is not acceptable.
    It is disheartening to watch your team with no desire or fight. Everyone knows the situation but a professional sports team should want to win every match and that is what hurts the most, the lack of professionalism displayed by a number of players.

  27. Just caught up on the above posts, made grim reading but Boro Doug’s inadvertent “damp squid” typo kept me smiling and my imagination in overdrive!

  28. peaeye:
    Of course I meant to do it…err…
    You can see fishermen lining up squids on the beach near me, putting a plank on top of them, then rocking the car’s back tires, back and fourth on the plank, on them to soften (presumably). Should this help you with the visuals of the performance that I predict we will serve up.

  29. Nikeboro-
    like ur thoughts/analysis!
    Keypoint for me is ‘light the blue touch paper’ which is something of a conundrum. Big Jack did it, so did Sir Fergie.
    So how, what etc., makes it all explode into life. Well for my tuppence worth it’s a combination of the manager’s drive, personality, knowledge and credibility . Plus of course spotting players who refuse to lose (or engendering the same) goes a long way to getting to where you want to be.
    And just to throw in the last ingredient, those said same players will want to figuratively ‘die for their leader’ – you can’t buy that, teach it or borrow it. It’s the factor that divides the great from the rest. Aitor by his own admission has yet to find the X factor.
    Maybe he will, but l’m not going to bet on it given the present set-up.
    UTB (Hmm, not likely in the near future).

  30. AV is conspicuous by his absence…play off nerves?
    **AV writes: Who do you think is publishing the comments? I’ve just been clawing back some time, making plans for my busy summer and booking a holiday – Costa del Foamfingerola – in the gap in the calendar where the play-off were pencilled in.

  31. Pity it all fizzled out but you would think with a lot of jobs on the line there would be some effort for the shop window. Obviously not.
    So a lot of the deadwood will be back . Some better than when they left after some game time ie Reach. Looks like the boss is looking for stronger heads and mentality.
    Not a league for young Spaniards.
    Interesting times ahead.

  32. To Ste Mac –
    I remember years ago a succesful manager on about how some of his players were brilliant but he had to get rid of them because they only got up for the big games. I think they had won the FA Cup that year.

  33. Nigel –
    I understand your views on Ledesma. I made my list and had eight and after reviewing it I added Tomlin in purely on the basis that he has some fire in his belly and possible talent but too early to judge him just yet.
    I agree with you generally about Ledesma but he is the only player in the squad who can take a proper free kick with some optimism for scoring. He is also the only one likely to do something out of the blue and whilst it could be a 40 yard screamer it is also just as likely to be a free kick given away 20 yards out and a red card.
    It was a difficult one but on balance his unpredictability is what swayed me in the hope that with 20 minutes left he can come of the bench and create something out of nothing. Hence why I emphasised “Squad” although I have to admit it was a struggle finding 10 names.
    It is interesting and I think a relief to hear Aitor’s thoughts on things. The short time he has had this season I think will do him and the club good longer term. As a consequence we will be more likely to see the likes of Tomlin being signed rather than a lightweight latino flair player which for the Championship is a much better fit.
    I suspect that is the reason he prefers Dimi in goal to the other keepers, physicality both mentally and physically seems to be the way forward.

  34. Redcar Red –
    On the loan front I never want to see any more dross like we have had before, too many players with their futures behind them.
    I will have to think of my list and see who I come up with.

  35. Only get it up for the big games? Jeez,I wish we had some big games – with it up or not (starting to sound sleazy, Steve). If we won the FA Cup the players could be as lethargic as they wanted.
    So AK will be monitoring his players’ commitment against Barnsley? Shouldn’t he already know by now? Based on recent performances, I can give him a list of those who could make the grade for a promotion squad – I have a spare stamp.
    Seriously though, success breeds success. Commitment, confidence and never-say-die determination flow from good performances and some good results. Players that looked spiritless lightweights can be transformed into lions. Stan’s numpties became Jack’s icons. Willie’s zeroes transmuted into Bruce’s heroes.
    The kind of game we had at Burnley, where we had no right to win but did, can convince everybody they’re on the right lines and can beat anybody. The difficult bit is to get the juggernaut going. Once started, it has its own momentum.
    One concern is AK’s admission he’s changed his mind about the kind of player needed. When interviewed, he presumably pitched the ‘young Spaniards’ proposal. If so, the board must have thought that was a good idea even though nine out of 10 on this blog (and now AK) could have told them it was drivel. That lack of insight into the battle-zone that is the Championship is depressing.
    So what kind of player is needed? For me, it doesn’t need one kind – the secret is in the right blend of various types. I don’t just mean a mix of left/right, old/young, fast/passers, etc. That blend has always been needed by every squad.
    No, a promotion squad:
    1. is built around a sound defence
    2. has somebody to convert chances and score 20-25 goals (possibly between 2 players)
    3. overall doesn’t need to be particularly good but is balanced and has no obvious weaknesses
    4. is injury-free or has enough players to cope
    5. has two or three experienced ‘battle-hardened dogs-of-war’ that know how to grind through the attrition of this Division
    6. includes two or three keen youngsters that do the running for the old pros (these could be the Spanish youngsters).
    We’ve got the makings of a sound defence. The main ingredient missing (and has been for a decade) is a reliable scorer. If AK can get hold of a Michu-lite, add two or three of his planned skilful foreign youngsters and, following his re-think, blend them with a couple of grizzled British pros, then we might just fly.

  36. The player I was most looking forward to seeing live this week was Albert Adomah. But so far he has played two stinkers. Any idea why? Resting for the World Cup, perhaps?
    Up the Boro!

  37. An extract from the Barnsley Chronicle in Danny Wilson’s column on the back page:
    ” I am confident we can get the win we need at Middlesbrough tomorrow…We are not fearful. We’re going up there with a real positive attitude…a lot of people are saying Middlesbrough have nothing to pay for. If I was a Middlesbrough player going into the last two games of the season and someone said that to me, I would punch them on the nose.
    “They will be professional and try their best. I would expect to play against a strong side. I don’t think there’s ever nothing to play for. Players are playing for new contracts or to entice other clubs to buy them. Managers will always want to finish on a high.
    “We can’t go and be gung-ho because we could be 2-0 down before we have a chance to draw breath. We need to be dogged and make sure we are still in the game by the final throes”
    They also run a story about how Higgy would feel devastated to send Barnsley down, especially as he narrowly missed out on the managerial position there last year, and that Butterfield too would be sorry for it.
    There has been a lot of talk of the season fizzing out, but when you live in a different town with a rival championship club, games like this really matter. Oakwell was a nightmare and I am reminded of it regularly. We owe Barnsley a battering, let’s hope it comes tomorrow.

  38. Reading AK comments in one of the Sunday papers after the Millwall game which is as follws:
    “It’s difficult for me to understand how 11 players that won at Burnley could not beat Millwall at home .Not only do we need to be stronger physically on the pitch but stronger mentally. After four wins in a row we had a great chance to get five and today has been frustrating .We need to be stronger in the future” .
    How right he is this has always been the failing of this ckub. AK needs 11 leaders on the pitch. I hope there is a clearout for next season and those that are not up to it let go.
    I am convinced a manager like AK, who has come from a great club like Real Madrid ,second in command to Jose, will not want to languish in the championship. I expect him to bring the club around and win the Championship. Who the hell cares about finishing in the top six? Surely with the facilities this club has ,which are probably the best in this division and probably most of the Premiership, it’s not to much to ask for.

  39. Great to see Reach back today. Given the way Gibson and Reach played. I wonder if Car Anchor regrets not giving the likes of Jordan Jones, Bryn Morris and Fewster a chance.

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