Sun-kissed Final Flourish At Yeovil

IN TYPICAL Boro fashion a lot of the talk on the way back will be about which of Danny Graham’s two open goal missed sitters will scoop the Golden Banjo award for the worst of the season. And fair enough, both were comical barndoor/blunderbuss masterclasses.
But that would be cruel and pointless. We won 4-1. In the sun. And he actually had a great game. He worked hard, he punched holes in their defence, he linked up superbly with Lee Tomlin and he scored one and helped tee up two more. It was a good day at work for him.
In fact, after a shaky start and some dropped clangers at the back, Boro played well. Yes, it “was only Yeovil” … but aren’t the shoo-ins against already relegated side the ones where Boro usually shoot themselves in the foot? It was a good display with the burgeoning link-up between Graham and Tomlin a pleasure to watch. If they are together next year – out of our control – it could be a very productive pairing.
Still, seven goals in two games against the strugglers, six wins out of eight, a lot of teams above us beaten in teh last two months. Plenty of positive signs for next year.
Anyway, its a long way home. Talk amongst yourselves. I’ll publish as soon as.

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21 thoughts on “Sun-kissed Final Flourish At Yeovil

  1. And so the end of another season in the Championship. Now the real work begins, sorting out players’ contracts, who goes, who stays.
    The rumour mill will be at full stretch, Mark Schwarzer coming back, Adam Johnson returning with Lee Cattermole. Also Andrew Taylor coming to play again for the Boro after briefly flirting with the Prem.
    So what do we think about who’s come down? Cardiff and Fulham don’t frighten me or even Norwich. We should have a good chance again next season let’s hope so.
    Interesting in your report AV you mention Danny Graham missing two sitters but scoring one and laying two on – very interesting !
    Tomlin has seemed to get to grips of what Karanka want from him good luck to the boys returning to their clubs and those going to the World Cup please enjoy this lifetime experience .
    To all my fellow bloggers happy close season and thanks AV for putting up with our moans and groans.
    One good thing you won’t have to travel to Yeovil next season!!
    Fat Bob
    **AV writes: You watch, League Cup first round, Yeovil away, Tuesday night.

  2. A good result and as usual you start thinking what could have been but there is little point because all clubs can say the same.
    The only mitigating factor has been some absolute shockers from the officials but they dont mean we should have been in the play offs.

  3. Good finish to distinctly manky season. So now after a short break the misery will be supplanted by feverish excitement at the sound of diamonds being unearthed from amongst pebbles (or was that sardines and trawlers?) to finally turn us into a Championship contender under the inscrutable tutelage of our Spanish Mourinho-marinated mastermind.
    Whomsoever’s services we manage to secure during the hols, their success will depend on many factors, not least of which will be Lady Luck. So perhaps we shouldn’t expect too much, in fact we could do worse than follow the teaching of one David Bowie who sang:
    ‘Life is an obstacle, sad as the clown
    So hold on to nothing and it won’t let you down…’
    …but will we? I doubt it…meet you all back here for a damned good whinge at the signing of the new Lee Dong Afonso Ricketts Kinnell whenever Anthony fires up after a well-earned break from his mentalist existence…
    Have a great Summer one and all!

  4. All I can say is that I wouldn’t have envied the long journey back from Yeovil if we had also beaten Millwall and Reading and completed an eight-game winning end to the season to find ourselves in sixth spot, right up until the 92nd minute when Brighton scored their last gasp winner.
    Sick probably describes how Reading fans feel right now in stark contrast to the euphoria of those returning to Brighton – but hey that’s football!

  5. Well two games this season as health continues to improve….. There’s enough to be said about the game on here and in the other reviews but I’d just like to say how good the Yeovil fans were. It was probably friendliest ground I have ever been to. The locals were very welcoming and our lads continues the South coast charm offensive. Definitely proud to be a Teessider….. But oh Danny Graham, how did you miss those sitters?
    Cheers
    Martin

  6. Another season gone and another year in the second division ahead of us. Now we know those critical six points against Reading and Millwall wouldn’t have made any difference.
    Some promising signs, but they don’t lay down a reliable marker for next season. There’s been enough games now to make a comparison between Karanka and Mowbray worthwhile, and it makes interesting reading.
    Obviously Karanka’s first 31 in charge was a massive improvement on Mowbray’s last 31 in charge, twice as good in almost all respects.
    Karanka : W13, D9, L9, goals for 36, goals against 25, points 48.
    Mowbray : W5, D9, L17, goals for 33, goals against 53, points 24.
    So a big improvement and clearly saved us from a season long relegation battle. However, a fairer comparison is against Mowbray’s first 31 in charge, which is much closer.
    Mowbray : W12, D10, L9, goals for 56, goals against 47, points 46.
    Not quite an identical record but pretty close. We know what Mowbray went on to achieve, what will Karanka do with a very similar start?
    The only stat I’m pinning my hopes on is the defensive one. Even in his first 31 games, Mowbray’s side were leaking like a sieve. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of his CV. Karanka’s side look much more defensively sound. Here’s hoping.
    A final note…congratulations to the Minstermen at York for reaching the play-offs in Division 4 and good luck to them. It would be nice to see them get promoted.

  7. Perfect day yesterday. We started our football season here (no, we don’t play footy in snow in the winter – well only for practice) and our over-50-year-olds league started on Saturday. We won 4-1 and I even scored a goal, too. As a left back, I do that once in 10 years on average.
    When I returned home, I listened to Ali and Maddo on the radio and heard Boro were 1-3 up. Just tweeted that they must try to get a fourth when Ledesma scored (again). Great.
    So two 4-1 wins in two hours. The former is expected but Boro. Untypical.
    It was nice to finish the season with six wins from last eight matches. Gives some confidence to the team and fans as well. Has anyone calculated where we would finish with the points average under Karanka over a whole season?
    Have a nice summer. Up the Boro!

  8. I hadn’t realised that, if we’d won those two games, we’d have been in sixth place only to have it snatched away by the infernal Brighton. I’m relieved to have escaped that artery-opening downer – what a close season that would have made for.
    However that reinforces the point I keep making (OK,OK, banging on about). You don’t have to be particularly good to get in the play-offs. Brighton made it. BRIGHTON.
    When, unusually, I argued against Jarkko, I never thought they’d finish above us, let along make it into the mix. Jarkko opined that Brighton had looked bad because we hadn’t let them play, which was only partly the case. Having seen it first-hand, I was clear that the Seasgulls had looked bad because they WERE bad, plain and simple.
    Yet they’re in the play-offs. Fair enough, they evidently had a bad day against us and must be better than that. But I cannot believe they’re good. They are not what people think of when we think about what a promotion team looks like. Big Jack’s team would have had them for breakfast.
    If Boro are worse than them (and they tell me the table doesn’t lie) then we’re not much weaker. As AV always says, it’s fine margins. AK only needs to remedy the more obvious gaps/weaknesses to get a balanced squad and wring a 5% improvement out of enough players and other areas to see us up.
    Easy. Why doesn’t everybody do it?

  9. Nice to finish the season off with a win and the recent run of winning six out of the last eight hopefully gives us optimism for next season.
    I’m sure Aitor already has in mind which players he would like to move on if possible and who he would like to bring in.
    Obvious positions needed are cover at left and right back and strikers. Any of the loan players to return? Not often they do but I can’t see Omerou and Chalobah being ready for Chelsea’s first team just yet. With Sunderland now likely to stay in the Premiership is there a place for Danny Graham back there? I thought he played well yesterday despite him missing those two sitters.
    Bolton fans seem unanimous in wanting to keep Juke and he seems very happy there, maybe better to cut our losses and let him go.
    Thankfully the two recent losses to Millwall and Reading wouldn’t have made a difference but it would have been a close run thing. Personally I’m glad it worked out the way it did,to have missed out at the death with Brighton’s injury time equaliser would have meant we finished the season on a downer and not in a upbeat optimistic mood.
    If Karanka managed 48 pts in 31 games. Ave 1.55 then that gives 71.3 over 46 games,very close to the 72 Brighton got. The table doesn’t lie,we finished where we deserved to finish,we had good spells,bad spells and indifferent spells.
    For me the season was lost during our winless and scoreless spell in January and February,as well as picking the right blend of players next season Karanka has too make sure the players are mentally tougher and rid the club of this post Xmas slump hoodoo!
    Finally it was nice to experience the trip to Yeovil,a small club but did well to achieve their place in the championship this season. Glad it was A sunny May day, would not have enjoyed the visit had it been December,January and February exposed to the elements.

  10. I found it quite poignant when a 5 live commentator described Boro’s chances of promotion under Karanka next season as ‘OK’ – Let the great expectations commence!
    It will be yet another big summer for us in our quest to yet again balance the books and manage to find the goalscorer. Now that the Mackems may have all but sealed another season in the top division, I believe that our chances of signing Danny Graham have increased.
    After finally forging a decent partnership with Lee Tomlin surely it would be ludicrous if we were to turn down a decent chance of signing an albeit average Championship goalscorer? Note average being better than Emnes, Jutkiewicz etc…
    Personally I don’t want to see too much change to the squad, perhaps signing a right back and another striker. Would love to see Omeruo and Chalobah back next season too, as I can’t really see them getting too much football back at Chelsea.
    Would like to see Jason Steele restored to number 1 because of the potential he has, but if he’s not I can see him leaving. Other than that, we might need another left back to cover for Gorgeous George when he inevitably pulls a groin muscle getting further up the pitch than the wingers.
    Glad to see Ledesma finish with a flourish too and hopefully see him have a big season next season, along with the likes of Luke Williams, Adam Reach, Jacob ’60 minutes’ Butterfield etc…. These are the types of players that we need to look for extra goals from too.
    Anyway, onwards and upwards! Hoping for QPR to go up as games against them seem to be more difficult for us.
    And congrats to Birmingham, but gutted for Donny….

  11. If I’m correct I believe that Boro have conceded the least amount of goals in 2014 in the Championship with 19 against us. Remarkable in itself but when you consider the amount of shuffling and permutations due to injuries and suspensions with the back 4 its almost incredible.
    Between the sticks, Given, Meijas, Dimi and yesterday Steele meant we actually used four different keepers in 2014. Its either pure luck or indicative of Aitor’s ability to instill a system which is both effective and understandable which is crucial. There have of course been one of two woeful examples where an opposing player has been left totally unmarked like last week against Barnsley but they are now very exceptional lapses.
    We had the goalless blip but since Higgy arrived we seem to have improved and got back on track. Percovich like Karanka seems to be able to get the best out of his charges plus adds a bit of character to the back room staff just in case Higgy wasn’t enough on his own!
    Mistakes have been made at times, some of them like the team selection against Leeds at home seemed almost Kamikaze but there have been far more pluses than negatives which for me is the reason for more optimism for next season than for the last 5 or 6 years at least.
    Out of the players we have I would be happy to go into next season with the same squad. We know that a few will depart on Bosman’s which is fine as they are ones that are fringe at best and by default reducing the wage bill.
    Graham’s future is out of our hands and whilst he probably slightly edges it in favour of what we have I haven’t seem enough to warrant blowing most of our spending budget indeed some could argue that the Juke has been equally as productive of late. I don’t think there is enough between them to justify breaking the bank.
    Butts and Lily are improving much the way that Friend has under Aitor so I’m happy that next season we will see a lot more from them (that vital extra 10 to 15%). There is reason to expect that others are also improving (even Ledesma seems to be gradually more responsible and still nicks the odd long range strike). Add in some cover at right and left back (assuming we retain Varga hopefully) and for me its only up front where we are still questionable. Looking at Chelsea they seem to have a similar dilemma even with Torres, Eto’o and Ba on their books so we are in good company.
    Of the teams coming down none of them scare me, Cardiff are imploding in slow motion, Fulham look a busted flush and perhaps Norwich will be able to stabilise themselves but not without the right management appointment otherwise they could find themselves lost in the wilderness.
    The Teams coming up are of greater interest, Wolves I fear will be on a roll and could be a handful but the other two will be odds on to struggle. The Play Off contenders usually result in one or more of the losers completely losing their way the following season but I would expect two of Wigan, Derby or QPR to still mount a challenge next year.
    The surprise ones next season I think will be Bolton under Freedman and surprisingly Millwall under Holloway plus it will be interesting to see how Howe does with the Cherries. Blackburn look to have settled themselves but the Venky’s are always capable of shooting themselves in the foot so I will watch with interest.
    All in all I believe our solidity at the back, gradual improvements with individuals and collective team spirit and management along with a sprinkle of two or three additions will be enough for top 6 minimum. Roll on August!

  12. The couple of excellent runs put a gloss an otherwise unremittingly poor season. As Cassandra accurately and eloquently put it: it was mostly manky, weren’t it?
    It’s no secret that consistency is the key to promotion. You don’t have to be outstanding in anything other than being able to grind out a result on a bad day. Being good is a nice-to-have.
    Determination, belief, resilience, team spirit, perseverance, obstinacy, confidence, cohesion. Have enough of only a few of these characteristics and the others follow – success breeds success. Character counts at least as much as technical ability and make the whole better than the sum of the parts. I give you Real Madrid as an example. For decades they spent zillions on scores of top class players but only sporadically has this produced success.
    This dictates the kind of players Boro need. In recent years we have rarely had consistency of selection because of injuries, including more than our fair share of long-term ones. Bates, Thomson, Rhys Williams, Woodgate, Hines, Wheater – all have missed much of a season, sometimes more than once. Without consistency of selection, consistency of form is that much harder.
    This suggests that time must be up for most of our players remaining from that list. Even if no other club will touch them because of their fragility, it might be better to pay up their contracts and cut our losses. Why pay somebody to consume time and money in the treatment room?
    I like the way that AK is imprinting a pattern of play. From that default, we can adapt and extemporise as the occasion demands. However the basic pattern provides the refuge of the fall-back when things don’t work out. That gives the possibility of grinding out results on a bad day, which is the key.
    So IMO the basis is taking shape for stability and consistency. The only ingredient missing is getting rid of players who will undermine that and replacing them with more durable ones.

  13. Very good day out yesterday. I thought it was a cracking send off and a very good attacking offensive display by the Boro.
    As stated the Danny and Tomlin link up was a joy to watch at times and at last it appears we have someone who can play in that classic No10 role. I also though Butterfield did well after coming on and of course a fine performance from Ledesma.. I .just wish he could find some consistency.
    So we can now officially look to next season and the crazy transfer gossip will no doubt gather pace over the next couple of months. It will be interesting to see what players will appear on the ‘released or contract expired’ list in June (always a good place to start when you have no money).
    As for loans? I would love to see Kenneth come in on a season loan and Graham in on either a season loan or somehow a cut price deal. His new found link up with Tomlin cannot be cast aside.
    One signing we should/must complete in the next week or so is the permanent signing of Varga. He was superb again yesterday and is a consistent 7/10 player and far and away our best RB…remember Williams and Richardson?? Still trying to forget. Any news in the press world if we are actively trying to bring him in? Or we looking elsewhere? Get him in and squad number two on his back ASAP!!!
    If we can somehow offload Marv/Kamara/Main and Juke we will need at least 2 new CFs. I would maybe give Juke another go based on his form at Bolton and he is still young. So with our limited funds I would say prioritys has to be CF (x2),LB cover and if we don’t get Varga a RB.
    So now what to do for next three months? I will start by nursing my sunburnt face and head from yesterday ha.
    UTB!!!!

  14. Looking ahead to who we will have to beat next season, who are the runners? Well, there’s a fairly well established formula.
    Most seasons, one of the relegated teams threatens to bounce straight back. At least one of the teams who were knocked out of the play-offs usually go again and, similarly, two or three of those who fell short of the top six make another push.
    Working down the league, it is not unusual for one or two teams, that were mid-lower table the previous season, to unexpectedly thrust from nowhere. One of these is often a late push that catches everybody out. Palace did that last year and Wigan came with the late run this year.
    Finally, one of the promoted teams sometimes has so much momentum that they shoot towards the top of the Championship. Southampton and Norwich spring to mind as examples.
    This gives the seven-nine clubs that contest the play-off places. That’s the easy bit – working out who is the tricky part.
    Coming down from the PL, you struggle to see mad-as-a-box-full-of-frogs Cardiff doing anything. Fulham have also been notably unstable. The likeliest contender would be the third relegated team. Norwich are favourites and have been prudent, seem unlikely to implode and could bounce back.
    We can’t say yet who will fail in the play-offs but expect any or all of the three to be strong again. Looking for two or three from the next six in the league is more difficult.
    Reading just missed but might suffer for that and lose impetus. Blackburn seem to be coming good but the Venky’s are always an instability factor. Ipswich have been building steadily and McCarthy certainly knows how to get out of this division. Bournemouth were a big surprise – can they go again? Forest were a surprise in the opposite direction and much depends on whether Pearce can deal with the expectation and make a success of management this time. That leaves Boro.
    Is there anybody in the lower reaches? Watford seem to have shot their bolt. Leeds? Big club and seemed to be building for a push. However the new owner and likely change of manager probably does for them. Freedman laid the foundations for Palace’s promotion so my favourites to jump half the division would be Bolton. Like McCarthy, Holloway has the promotion knack so could Millwall also surge upwards?
    Finally, coming upwards, Wolves are on a roll and Jackett knows his way around so they have a chance of pushing into the top quarter.
    I’m confident Boro will improve next season. From 12th now, I’d be surprised if we rose less than four places. My prediction of our contenders would be:
    Norwich, plus one or two play-off losers, Ipswich, Blackburn, probably Forest, Bolton, perhaps Millwall and finally Wolves. I reckon those seven-nine teams will finish in the top 10 and will occupy at least five of the play-off places.
    You heard it here first. What else is there to do when Boro aren’t playing?

  15. We finished eight points off a play off place. Pick any four of our nil nil or even score draws from which we acquired four points.
    Four extra goals scored spread evenly across those four games would have garnered a total of twelve points – or the eight ‘missing’ ones needed. Four goals = eight points and a play off place due to a Goal difference one better than Brighton’s.
    Fine margins indeed.
    Well done to everyone who made the trip to Yeovil. And in fact every game this year.
    **AV writes: It’s all ifs and buts. We threw away two goals leads at Forest and Wigan early on; came from two down to boss Bournemouth only to blow it; battered Brighton at home and lost; lost to Millwall; were robbed against Forest; It is easy to find eight points cheaply squandered in the Championship..

  16. So it has started already – Adomah apparently touting himself to anyone who will listen…so that’s what he thinks of Boro then? Get rid but only for a decent price… otherwise, under 21 league for him…

  17. We all hope to see a 20-plus-goals-a-season striker at Boro. Danny Gtrahan has now scored 6 goals in the last 13 matches. That makes an average of 0.46 goals a match – and 21 goals over 46 matches a season.
    OK, he was poor when he came, but also Boro was poor in attack. But at least he is better than Chris Boyd was …
    Up the Boro!

  18. End of another season, disappointed, but reality always told us we where never really going to be at the races.
    Consistency will be the big ask for the next campaign, with a few more goals and not necessary from the CF as PP showed us and Cardiff last year.
    I have my doubts with Adomah, Carayol and Ledesma with regards to consistency, and these three in the squad for me is one to many.In times of cost cutting I think Graham is too expensive for what he offers, and Sunderland will want to move him on. Is his overall package better than Juke, probably.
    I think if the club can does some reasonable business, moving on the likes of Rhys Williams, Emnes and a few others still on contracts, and replace them with what we know we want, then a play off place would be achievable.
    So finally can I just say many many thanks to you AV. A dull season has been continually brightened by your excellent reports, top reporting.
    Also my thanks for the alternative match reports from Redcar Red and John Powls, and a different take on things from PP.
    Let’s hope AV can keep the interest going through the summer with some tittle tattle to give that extra hope. Even if he has to make some of it up!!
    **AV writes: “Make it up?” Hush your mouth. I’m looking for ideas for the summer. I’m think of doing a series of counterfactual “What If… ” articles for the paper.

  19. Cassandra, in fairness to Albert he wasn’t touting himself, more like he was asked leading questions from the Sky reporter
    “You are enjoying the best season of your career and have hit double figures, and this has seen you linked with the Premier League, clearly you would love to play there one day?”
    What was he suppose to answer, that he has no ambitions and that he had no intentions of playing in the Premiership. Had he said that people here would be deriding him for having no ambition and being mentally weak. Damned if he did and damned if he didn’t.
    The interviewer then asked him “And you have no doubts that you can feature at the top level?”
    Was he supposed to say I have huge doubts in my ability and I hope to languish in mid table Championship mediocrity for the remainder of my professional playing career?
    I had seen the same comments lifted from the Sky article and it doesn’t read very well out of context and easy to jump to conclusions but on balance I don’t think he has said or done anything other than answer in a reasonable manner to questions that were deliberately designed to give the reporter a “non-story”.

  20. Redcar Red –
    Albert wants to play in the PL in 2015/16 season. And with the mighty Boro 🙂
    Up the Boro!

  21. I posted yesterday, but it disappeared.
    I really enjoyed our day out in Yeovil. Friendly chats with welcoming locals; a very good turn-out from Boro fans despite the distance and the non-significance of the game; great craic between the standing Boro fans and those in the seats (left side/ right side red army); and a very good team performance – absolutely no sign here of any Boro players being on the beach – we played with pride and passion.
    I thought almost everybody played well, with the possible exception of Chalobah, who is the only one of the loanees I wouldn’t miss if he didn’t come back next year. Our defence was generally very solid, despite a silly lapse for their goal. Dean Whitehead had one of his most effective games in a Boro shirt.
    Perhaps the best aspect of the game was the way the front four (or was it five?) played together so fluidly and fluently, interchanging at will. We cut Yeovil open tons of times. Tomlin, Reach, Butterfield, and Adomah all had good games. Danny Graham at last showed that he can play as the focal point in a 4231 system, despite missing two horrendous sitters!
    And Ledesma was a complete revelation! What a fantastic bicycle kick for his second goal. He was my MoM, but it could have been any of several others. If we can turn on this kind of style next season we can have reasons for optimism.
    Nice, too, to see the lads giving away their shirts and boots to youngsters at the end of the game. Ledesma even gave his shorts away and had to dash back to the changies in his undies!
    I’d like to thank you, AV, for everything you have done for us this year. Your journalism has been marvellously informative and insightful, and always of very high quality. You have written superbly about all things Boro. I hope you win every award going. Have a really good summer.
    **AV writes: Yes, everyone have a good summer – but less of the talking as if we are knocking off now for a few months. No chance. There’ll be plenty to talk about. Karanka wants to deal with his out of contract/wantaway players in the next fortnight, then we have the play-off and implications for next season, then the fixtures are out, then it is the World Cup and suddenly we are off again.
    I might pull the shutters down for a few days early in June but apart from that we never sleep! You have to give 100% every day in training too. This is my philosophy and methodology. And for this we are happy.

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