Surreal Scouse Spot-Kick Shoot-out Shenanigans

WHERE do you start with THAT?

Battling Boro were squeezed out in a 31 goal thriller at Anfield. They scored 15 goals against away Champions League side and “lost”.  Keeper Jamal Blackman scored a penalty and conceded 16 goals on his debut. Whack. Smack. Hammer. Neither keeper got anywhere near 20 consecutive penalties in a nerve-shredding cup record shoot-out. Crazy, surreal,  unscriptable spot-kick shoot-out.

Liverpool 2 Boro 2 (aet) (Liverpool win 14 [FOURTEEN] – 13 [THIRTEEN] on penalties). Total brackets. Total madness. Totally emotional exhausted after a pulsating night of pride and passion and barely believable absorbing end-to-end  action in which Boro more than matched a far from weakened Champions League side. Live on TV!  What an advert for Aitor Karanka’s Boro side. If that doesn’t put bums on seats I don’t know what will.

bamford penalty

Even taking the penalty marathon out of the equation it was still a dramatic game packed with incident and encouragement. A spirited side twice battled from behind to equalise and snatched a last gasp leveller in the 123rd minute!  And deserved it.

For long spells it was very difficult to decide which was the Championship and which was the Champions League side. Liverpool fielded Mignolet (£10m), Lallana (£25m), Moreno (£12m), Sakho (£18m), Markovic (£20m), Enrique (£7m), Lucas (£5m), Lambert (£9m) plus the future of England Raheem Sterling… and Balottelli (£16m) came off the bench.

There was nothing in that game.  “Worryingly, Middlesbrough looked the more likely to find a winner in normal time”  said  the Liverpool Echo. Boro played with zest and spirit and combined steel with real skill.  The cock-up for the first goal aside, the team were organised, composed, balanced and played some delightful passing football that looked potent. Boro created real chances. And there were some fantastic performances. You could come to blows pressing the case for three of four candidates for Man of the Match. For me Dani Ayala was the pick of the bunch but if you want to canvas for Adam Reach, Kike, Lee Tomlin or Adam Clayton, go ahead.

But the real result was that the team, the system, the shape, stood up to a high pressure environment. Indeed, it flourished. The team is mentally and physically strong.

After the game I was down in the tunnel area doing interviews and as the players milled around they  were laughing and shaking their heads in at the crazy finale but were lining up to praise each other. There was no sense that this team had lost. There was no spirit crushed self-pity of defeat. They were buzzing. They had go to Anfield and got a draw. They thought they should have won. The surreal shoot-out was a freak and no guide to the balance of play. That won’t be what they take from a  game full of positive.

Most fans went away buzzing too. The 2,800 travelling Teessiders made a right racket non-stop.  Most will be hoarse this morning after roaring through the best part of three hours. They drove the team on and almost helped Anfield’s propose redevelopment by exploding the Anfield Road end with their sonic boom.

That was in sharp contrast to the Liverpool fans who only piped up immediately after both goals and to boo and whistle when Boro players walked up to take their penalties. “Where’s your famous atmosphere?” Boro fans asked. No reply came. That constant support as much as the team’s display helped shape a general impression that Boro were the side setting the tempo and tone of the game.  It was brilliant. Even the Liverpool fans and local media were impressed with a lot of nice thing said after the game in real life and on social media. Although there was a slight patronising tone to it as they ruffled our hair and  you know they would have been scathing and vitriolic had we won.

“I think we have shown everybody on TV what kind of club Middlesbrough is,” said Aitor after the match. Indeed. All that  “under the radar” reaction to Boro’s weekly 42 seconds on the Football League show has been blown apart. The football nations would have watched that and though… Wow! Watch Boro’s promotion odds tumble now.  All the national press big hitters were there and went away gushing. After four years of ignoring our shabby second shelf existence  they want to know us again now.

Hopefully those layers of lapsed loyalists across Teesside will want to know us  again  too.  Maybe  the cynics who have formed  a picture from snippets in the media, the jaundiced post-match moan-in from people who haven’t been and the blipvert coverage on the Football League Show (the 4-0 win over Brentford got 12 seconds of team walking out, one minute of action and 22 second of of gaffer interviews… at 00.35)  will reassess.

Riverside regulars and Tees travellers will have seen a shape starting to emerge after the summer rebuild, a coherent team with structure and purpose. This Boro side are starting to reshape the narrative around the club. They are starting to make people outside Teesside take notice. We need to do that in our heartland too.  Now we need to persuade people closer to home believe that something special could be happening.

 

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107 thoughts on “Surreal Scouse Spot-Kick Shoot-out Shenanigans

  1. George Friend was interviewed on Radio 5 live this evening, he came across as a very articulate man. Good on the BBC to get a Boro player on to discuss the match and record penalty shoot out.

  2. Tactical supporting already, I am cheering on Spurs to get an equaliser against Forest then I will swap my allegiance and hope Forest win on penalties.

    That is sad

  3. Great effort by the whole team last night.

    I feared the worst in the opening quarter when Liverpool started at such a high tempo and us conceding so early I thought we might be in for a hammering.

    Credit to the players,they didn’t capitulate and settled down and played some nice football and didn’t look out of their depth.

    I thought AK should have put Bamford and Vossen on the last ten minutes of normal time or at least at the start of of extra time. A lot of players were dead on their feet, especially Tomlin. I expected Liverpool to go on and win it then, never dreamed it would go to a shoot out.

    What a shoot out it was. Everyone was talking about it. There won’t be another one like that anywhere for a long time.

    It didn’t feel like a defeat last night and pre match I wished for a good performance but to go out and concentrate on the league. The players confidence will be high after that and hopefully they can carry it on into the league games now.

    Nice touch by all the backroom staff to come over with the players and applaud the fans at the end.

    There’s a great feeling around the club at the moment,just need more fans to buy into it and get themselves back to The Riverside again!

  4. Regardless of what happens on Saturday at Charlton, I would like a result of some sort obviously but, if I don’t see more than 18,000 on the gate at our next home game, I will be severely disappointed in my love and faith of the Teesside public in their support of the Boro after their heroic efforts last night. Come on people, that was absolutely massive, get behind our team for crying out loud.

    We have the original “Stevie G” in our patron, he was around (and I should know) well before the impersonator in the Scouse uniform and, trust me, he will be around long after the impersonator hangs up his boots. For his efforts alone in securing this club, he deserves the support of the people he was born amongst, grew up amongst and, for whatever of his financial success, never left his roots to stay with us, he deserves a far better response to his commitment to us than is being showed now. He’s one of us!

    Teessider’s, grow a spine and stand up for crying out loud, I’m sick and tired of listening to lame excuses for not attending, especially in such an exciting time!

    Where’s the bloody Merlot!

    1. For a lot of people it’s not a lame excuse but a perfectly reasonable one which is that it’s too expensive. Adult walk up prices are £30 or so, if you’re taking two kids call it £50, plus refreshments, parking, fanzine etc you’re soon up to £60.

      Imagine paying that to watch us lose 1-0 to Reading.

      For me and my two it’s £20 a game which is more than reasonable but that involves a season long financial and emotional commitment which most aren’t prepared to give.

      Historically attracting 15,000 in the second tier is a decent effort. It’s only in the Robson golden years when we did a lot better. Crowds will pick up if we look like we’re going up but until then you’ll struggle to top 20,000 in the absence of a ticket offer.

  5. The only team that have out-played Boro this season were Sheffielf Wednesday. But look what a hammering they took away to a Premier League club yesterday. A 0-7 defeat!

    So a 2-2 draw against Sterling, Balotelli, Lallana and co. is unlikely to upset Boro’s rhythm. I think we have grown in confidence for the visit to Charlton instead.

    Charlton are still undefeated in the league. So no way an easy game but they look like drawing masters. So I hope a minimum of a draw. But anything could happen in the Championship. Up the Boro!

  6. After the nerve shredding following of the penalties on the BBC football site all I can say, having got the heart rate back to normal, well done Boro and well done those fans who were there. Awesome is an overused word but it fits the description here.

    Just what is the comparative spend of the two teams over the summer, never mind the value?

    I see over on the Gazette site that Bernie is feeling sorry for Newcastle… their situation is just a massive self-inflicted wound, you can tell how committed the owner is when he openly talks about buying Glasgow Rangers. If you were a barcodes fan you would be mighty fed up with the rubbish but do you feel sorry for them?

    Anyway enough of that, a stern test this weekend against an in-form team.

    Prediction? I’ll go 1 – 2. What is your daft quid on AV?

    1. I think the Newcastle fans are over the moon now. Their first win of the season – and away. That is one more win than Sunderland has gained all season.

      By the way, who was the last Boro player to score a hat-trick at Anfield, AV? I didn’t realize that Adam Reach scored three goals at Anfield as we just talked about the penalty shoot-out. Someone also said that the two penalties by Reach were the best.

      Up the Boro!

      1. From the EG today: “Reach also netted twice in the shoot-out to become the first Boro player to score three at Anfield since Alf Common – then the most expensive player in the world – in a 4-2 first division win in 1907.” Up the Boro!

  7. So many positives from trip to Anfield. Its important we get result at Charlton now keep unbeaten run going and after the shift everyone put in I take a point on road.

    Then lets get people to The Riverside for 2 home games coming up. Get maximum points. Hopefully it will get some fans that not attended game for while to attend.

    I watched on TV and was glued in and on edge my seat so surely it must wet alot people appetite.

    Here’s my blog piece hope dont mind.

    http://followingtheboro.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/so-many-positives-to-take-from-our-trip.html?m=1

    Lets keep buzz going! UTB!

    1. Claire it’s great to expose a female blogger on this column, I worrited it was male only! Totally agree, let’s keep that buzz going!

      **AV writes: There’s quite a few bloggettes. Most of their names are non-gender specific but their e-mails give the game away.

  8. For many of us who attend away games regularly the atmosphere the Boro fans create makes it a joy to go to. It creates excitment, keeps you warm in winter and produces the one liners which has many a person laughing. Good old Boro Banter!! Now this atmosphere needs to be replicated at the Riverside.

    The Red Faction are doing their bit but the rest of the stadium now need to get vocal again. We should be copying the likes of Crystal Palace who create a great atmosphere which really spurs on their team. How about the Gazette doing a ‘campaign’ of some sort to get the Riverside buzzing again. Lets use the Liverpool match as a springboard to greater things.

    We have received great publicity, the atmosphere was heard by millions on TV and if we channel the positive reports and keep re-emphasising how much the players enjoy the ‘Boro atmosphere’ then lets go for it and get the Riverside to be a cauldron of Boro noise which will get us to the Premiership. How about a regeneration of the Holgate somehow?

  9. I listened to the match on the way home, ironically from Manchester as soon as I could get a signal, not having Sky sports ( a waste of cash for a Boro fan I think!) I was kept in the loop by text from my eldest as he was watching it, better than the radio, his running texts on the pen shootout was Italia 90 in its intensity…..but seemed to last a whole tournament!

    It will live long in the memory, after being at Hudds and the recent results you have to think this result will come to define our season, the night things changed, I dont think tiredness will tell at Charlton, I think the result will show how we attack the rest of this campaign.

  10. The last time I took much notice of a Charlton match was earlier this season when they ‘played away’ at home to Watford.

    Charlton scored a third minute penalty, Watford had 61% possession and 20 shots to 5 (only two were on target)

    They look to be very hard working and difficult to beat.

  11. Looking ahead to the Charlton game it will be interesting to see who starts after our exhaustive evening in the North West.

    I think Dimi will be back, Yanic might get an opportunity as will Nsue (at RB instead of Fredericks possibly?). Vossen and Bamford to start. Will Big Ben be brought back in but that would mean dropping Ken who sorted himself as the game went on or Ayala who for me was MOM. Then there’s Reach and Tomlin who both put a shift in not forgetting Clayton and Leadbelter. Will Husband get his first start to rest Friend?

    Last season we had around 9 definite starters with perhaps perm two from five. This season we have two definites (Leadbelter and Friend) and for the rest of the positions its anyones guess and the likelihood is (goalkeepers aside) that the strength of the side will not be affected. Its just as well with Blackpool looming fast after the Charlton game.

    If we can get a decent result on Saturday we then face Blackpool and Fulham at home who I would like to think we can gain some points and goals from. The League could look very interesting when we travel to Brighton on the 18th!

    1. In terms of scoring goals, we’ve seen some encouraging progress in the two games this week.

      Against Brentford we pressed home our advantage and secured the game long before the final whistle. We tend to win matches by one goal, which keeps our opponent in the game and leaves us open to the loss of two points if there’s a late equaliser, so it’s good to get a more comfortable margin, and helps the fans with their anxiety levels!

      Kike scored again, reaching the one goal per two games target which gives a striker confidence and keeps negative pressure off him. Bamford has scored twice and shows immense self-confidence. We need to see if his all-round game is as good as Kike’s.

      Albert and Adam have opened their accounts for the season, which should pave the way for more goals from them. Adam has gone from trying to establish that he is worth a place, to now being a likely starter in spite of the increased competition for game time. He now needs to kick on and be consistently influential in games, with a target of developing into a dominant player at this level. Fingers crossed he makes that journey.

      Watching the Liverpool game in a pub in north Birmingham, I turned to my eldest son early in the game and commented that Lee Tomlin is full of deft touches and turns, but does not do enough to influence games. Lee proceeded to well and truly ram those words down my throat with a superb performance, and was a real threat to Liverpool. He will be very high on confidence after that display.

      Emilio Nsue provided two assists against Brentford, and can clearly cross the ball with some precision. Jelle Vossen is building match fitness so there should be more to come from him, and from Wildschut.

      All in all, the week so far looks like a good platform for a higher rate of scoring. However, Charlton will be a very difficult game and not a match we can go into with any sense that it will be ‘easier’ than playing Liverpool.

      Looking at AV’s tweets, it’s hard to believe that it’s 44 years since the 6-2 McIlmoyle match. Hughie seemed to hover in the air in defiance of the laws of physics!

  12. School boy gaff from me, was convinced Rav got that hat-trick in the first day of the season at Anfield and I was in Huddersfield at the time.

    On a week of such highs, were just about everyone involved with the club has stepped up to the plate, i’ve gone and let the side down with that one.

  13. Thinking about who might get selected for tomorrow’s game, it was a blessing that there were 6 changes for the Liverpool match. That means there’s a goodly number that, if selected for Charlton, will still have played only once a week.

    There are few definites for tomorrow. Dimi will of course come back into goal and, assuming AK goes for the usual shape, there’s currently little alternative to Leadbitter and Clayton. Every other position is up for grabs, it seems to me, which highlights the competitiveness and health of the squad.

    In central defence any two of Omeruo, Ayalla, Gibson and Woodgate could play. It might well be performances in training that decide but, remarkably, under AK you rarely have to worry as players come and go from defence. If he’s fit perhaps it’s time to give Woody a run out and one of the others a rest.

    Having played only a couple of games, there seems no need to rest Fredericks at RB, who has settled in remarkably well. It’s a different story for Friend on the other side. From memory, I think George has played every game so there is a case to blood Husband before long.

    Similarly the two wingers have clocked up a lot of match time. Reach is still comparatively young & experienced and, having gone to the WC, Adomah risks running out of steam before season’s end. It’s probably wise to give them an occasional rest and use Nsue or Wildschutt. Perhaps starting tomorrow, maybe the route is to play Reach/Adomah for an hour or so and ease Nsue/Wildschutt in from the bench.

    Nos 9 and 10 are the biggest conundrums. It’s hard to drop Kike when he’s scoring regularly. However he’s played a lot and works hard and Bamford is staking a strong claim. They have different styles and strengths so that might determine which of them is selected.

    Tomlin was a handful at Anfield and probably had his best game for us. On the other hand, Vossen has shown a lot of potential and has a greater range to his game than Lee. Assuming the usual 4-2-3-1 shape, it could be any 2 from those 4 up front and, as with defence, you can be confident it will make little difference.

    The biggest risk is whether we turn up. As noted above, tiredness shouldn’t be a big factor, because of the changes.

    A bigger danger in my opinion is anti-climax after the excitement and glamour of Tuesday, allied to the risk of complacenecy after 3 wins. A winning run does wonders for confidence – when players think they can’t lose it tends to become self-fulfilling. However there comes a stage when that tips over into complacency, when they EXPECT to win – and that’s when they get found out.

    Let’s hope we haven’t reached that stage. I fancy us to ruin the Addicks unbeaten record.

  14. My respect for Lou Macari has gone up in leaps and bounds after seeing last night’s play Marvellous on BBC2. Catch it on i-player if you missed it. It is sure to scoop a whole load of BAFTAs, and is a credit to the Beeb, the quality of British acting, Stoke City, and a quite remarkable man. Any football fan will love it.

    1. Len

      Its the best thing I’ve seen on TV in 2014, absolutely brilliant drama, comedy, acting, script, direction, cameos etc. it should sweep the boards at awards ceremonies.

  15. Charlton not as good as their league position suggests. Boro probably not quite on the boil after Liverpool. Vossen and Bamford to get a good run out. 0-1 or 0-2 to the lads

      1. Inevitability Drive? So ‘old Boro’. The new Boro’ has a ‘iconoclastic drive’ that trumps any creaking inevitability. So I’m told…….

  16. I think Charlton are on the crest of a slump. Thus far into the Season they have performed remarkably well but as the Season progresses I’d expect them to slide down to around 12th to 14th at best. I can’t see them challenging for a top 6 placing come April so we may as well start as they will go on tomorrow with a 0-2 victory to Boro.

    The confidence and belief levels are still at full but it will still be a big ask for the lads to find the energy levels required to go again tomorrow but our squad is big enough and more importantly good enough to deliver the same high levels of performance they have been achieving of late.

  17. I was at the QPR match selling goalden goal tickets or the like.

    It was my birthday and as I was selling tickets got in free. 2-0 down in no time them 4-2 up by the end of the first half, couple more in the second saw us win 6-2. Went off after the match to the office where I won the draw for ticket sellers but the best part was the tale we were told.

    No skysports or internet in those days, not even scores on TV or radio. A QPR fan phoned up Ayresome Park after ten minutes to be told they were leading 2-0. The same chap phoned up at half time to be told the score was now 4-2, his response of great turned to disbelief when told it was 4-2 to Boro. Never told what his exact words were!

    1. I was at a jumble sale that afternoon, remember those? The organizers were all boro fans and we had given up our afternoon for charity. From what I remember we were aware of the developing scoreline, maybe local radio but not sure. Gutted that I had missed it!!

  18. RR: Exactly. Contributing nothing to the creative build-up; in perpetual danger of being off-side; tapping in; lapping up the adulation, shirt over head; a legend only in my own fecund imagination. Bernie to a BS.

  19. As the midfield workhorse of the blog I am willing to do the blog to blog graft and leave others for the tap ins and glory. Honest!

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