Historic Hillsborough Hoodoo Axed By Aitor?

NOW would be a good time for Aitor to smash another hoodoo: Hillsborough. It’s not a great place to go. We’ve got a woeful record and been relegated twice there. But that is all ancient history and  Karanka has already shown he has no time for our time honoured club traditions on this kind of thing.

It is crazy to talk about urgency and necessity when Boro are in second spot but it feels like they *need* to win today. The pack is so tightly bunched and in such relentless form that even a draw could be punished. And a draw would feed into the current crowd sense of jittters and DLWD would surely be branded “a wobble” and seen as the beginning of the end in certain quarters. Victory would settle nerves and strengthen Boro in the table.

Aitor isn’t happy about recent displays. He’s given them a rocket. Everyone knows what the stakes are. The team have been rebooted. They are going to Hillsborough to win.

Shock news: I won’t be there. I’m committed to the climax of a long-running charity event that organisers have outrageously planned to climax on a Saturday. Apparently the whole world *doesn’t* revolve around football.  I’ll be sat there with an eye-piece in and sneaking quick looks at twitter all day.

It’s the first league game I’ve missed since the rearranged Ipswich match after the freeze off in February 2012. That was a midweek away and an overnight and we decided just one should go and we tossed for it.  I lost. See also Millwall away and Swansea in the League Cup quarter-final. So, three games missed in about seven years. I think the previous one before that was Wolves in the FA Cup when Emnes scored. It feels very strange.

Anyway, I  digress;  usual routine. Post your pre-match scorecasts and script how the game will pan out here then straight back after the game for debriefings, recriminations and dishing out plaudits later. I’ll join you when I can. My role as a charity champion will last into the evening but I’ll get here when I can. COME ON BORO!


240 thoughts on “Historic Hillsborough Hoodoo Axed By Aitor?

  1. Having re checked all the scores I found another mistake (sack the juggler) on Redcar Red score for Ipswich it should have been -7 not -2 therefore his total is -6 but he still holds 3rd place, so no harm done (gulp).

    Come on BORO.

  2. Exmil, was I really that bad with my scores??

    If so I will just have to get the tarot cards out. Obviously the Spanish version

    1. Pedro your predictions were Boro 61 (-2), Derby 67 (-2), Ipswich 65 (-5) Bournemouth 66 (-6) so Ipswich and Bournemouth cost you dear but on the bright side if your predictions had been correct look where Boro would have been now 6th with Norwich and Watford above them also.

      Come on BORO.

  3. Exmil

    My scores, rather belatedly:-
    Norwich 78
    Derby 74
    Boro 73
    Watford 73
    Bournemouth 70
    Ipswich 70
    Brentford 68
    Wolves 67

    Get well soon, mate. Service beyond the call of duty doing this after what you’ve been through. I had a couple of stents fitted a few years back to prevent angina. They’ve been brilliant. Hope yours serve you just as well .

    1. Clive you’re well within time (closing 19:45 Tuesday 3/3/15) encouraging to hear about stents and thanks for the well wishes.

      Come on BORO.

  4. Right…

    Norwich – 75
    Derby – 74
    Boro -74
    Watford -73
    Ipswich -71
    Bournemouth – 69
    Brentford – 69
    Wolves – 68

    Mogga’s got the Coventry job by the way. We’ve been talking to our colleagues at the Coventry Telegraph all day exchanging notes etc. He’s had talks today and everything is agreed and he should sign the deal tomorrow. The club is a bit demoralised and leaking a bit but want to shore it up and try to play passing, attacking football so a good fit. His stock remains high in the West Midlands after his time at West Brom. I hope he does well there.

  5. Congratulations to those of you who have won Trabbies. I confess, however, to being at a loss as to why you are awarded a Trabant for reaching the ton. I obviously missed the relevant blog entry when this first came up. Shame on me. Answers, please, on a postcard…….

    And so to Millwall. No prediction from me because I’m always way out. What I will say is that we must play our best side and we must win. Any win will do, even a spawny 1-0 with the ball hitting both posts, the ref and a defender before creeping over the line. But what I’d really like to see ( or hear, because I can’t make it to the game) is a rollicking good win that really benefits our goal difference. Only Ipswich in the top 6 now have a worse goal difference than Boro. Tomorrow looks a good opportunity to do something about that.

  6. Good news about Mogga, but the big news I’m afraid is about Boro’s ex left winger.

    Exmil stick to your scoring system, it’s your game, you make the rules!

    I’m not going to predict tomorrow’s score given my previous prediction history. But here’s hoping for a damned good performance.

  7. Has Tallentire asked for a transfer to the Coventry Gazzette,? He does still believe we are were we are today because of Moggas far sight doesn’t he.

    **AV writes: Mogga did an incredible job in that first season to turn a demoralised and probably relegation bound club around and keep them up and then to twice mount half-decent play-off pushes despite having next to no money to work with and being stuck with a massive toxic bump in the wage-bill. There was one calendar year when Boro were one of the best form sides in the country in all four divisions and broke all kinds of club records. You can argue the toss all you like about that.

    What you can’t argue about is the crucial rebuilding behind the scenes work he did on the infrastructure. When he arrived the club was in disarray. Strachan had got rid of the sports science department, medical and conditioning staff and also the scouting department. He preferred hard graft and recruiting “men” he know personally or who were recommended by people he knew. He didn’t really do computers, nutritionists and extensive networks based on widely sourced information. Mogga rebuilt all that on a shoe-string and started compiling complex data-bases about potential targets in all positions and at all price-ranges and he recruited staff that are now key parts of the operation. A lot of the transfer targets that Karanka has brought in – Ayala, Vossen, Forshaw – were first spotted under Mogga and have been tracked since.

    On balance he was a good Boro boss that did important work off the pitch that is not recognised because of the decline on the pitch at the end.

    1. I’m sorry AV, but you don’t get sacked if you are that good. Nothing against Mogga but come on, every time you guys are on the radio no matter what, you find a way to bring up Mowbray.
      I’m surprised he never ended up at Ipswich at sometime actually-‘he loved there

      **AV Writes: He got sacked because of results on the pitch over the last six months. That doesn’t wipe out the good work before that or the excellent and hugely important remedial and rebuilding work he did in rebuilding the club on a show-string. If you are ready to ignore that. fine.

      1. gt –

        Totally agree, the only thing missing was the “he was one of our own” it’s all well and good reshaping the backroom and bringing Boro back to the 20th century but it’s what happens on the pitch

  8. Exmil –

    If you want to have a bonus element for accuracy, then it seems to me that a bonus of 10 points should perhaps go to those who get the correct order of placings for the teams. So somebody who correctly predicts how the table will look after the run of games will have earned 10 points, even if their actual predictions of points are not on the mark. This would work especially well since there are 8 teams in the next leg, so predicting the correct order for 1st-8th will actually be an impressive feat.

    Either way I would vote for 0 points for getting the right score, otherwise somebody could get two scores spot on for .+20, but then be out by a massive 10 points on the other two, and they would still be 4 points ahead of somebody who missed every prediction by 1, totalling -4. It is clear that the latter person is much more accurate, but the score wouldn’t reflect it.

    Though, of course, since you are putting all the effort in, exmil, you really should just do it as you prefer!

  9. Being upside down, I missed all of the overnight debate but now having woken up and come to work, there’s time to get into the important stuff, the Boro.

    I’d like to jump back over the results debate (congratulations to Exmill and best wishes for a very speedy recovery) and the Adam Johnson story and go back to the discussion on the best structure for the team.

    Is it a heresy to query whether 4-2-3-1 is actually the best way to play, particularly at home. It seems to me that we have created plenty of chances and pressure but haven’t been very good at turning that pressure into goals. The only players who have at various times been clinical in putting away chances – penalties excepted – have been Bamford and, occasionally, Kike and Tomlin. Vossen seems to have a lot to like about him but he does that knack of hitting shots at the perfect height for a keeper to save.

    Is it stupid to suggest that, at least when playing at home, we should play with two upfront, Bamford and Kike, with Tomlin in the hole behind them rather than picking up the ball way back on the half way line.This shape could create real forward presence particularly in games when we have a lot of possession.

    If we played this way, it would probably mean either 4-3-1-2 or Tomlin playing at the head of a midfield diamond. Either way, Leadbitter would, presumably, provide cover for the centre backs with the full backs free to roam and the sides of the diamond – or the midfield 3 – coming from Forshaw, Clayton, Reach, Adomah, etc.

    When playing away, we could revert to the more compact 4-2-3-1 with appropriate players for the circumstances.


    **AV writes: There’s nothing wrong with the way Boro have been playing bar a failure to stick some of the chances away.

  10. Did I lose to AV on goal difference? Or Anthony is just alphabetically earlier … I am glad to be in his company.

    As said earlier, I think Mogga was our Stan Anderson. I hope I am proved correct and AK will be our next Big Jack in May. Nice to see that Mogga is back to work at Coventry now. Well done and wishing him all the best. It is quite a job nowadays – the average duratation of work in perhana three years. And then you get sacked. I imagine Mogga will need to uproot his family again. So total respect.

    Up the Boro!

  11. I hate these tablets for writing! Why they try to add words of their own? Above it added a Finnish F-word in there. And I haven’t yet figured out how to swich it off after the latest update …

  12. selwynoz

    My preference is for a 4231, especially at home.

    Ian may have mentioned the importance of width, I can’t quite remember. If the opposition come looking to scrap and keep it tight then you need to stretch them to create space. Wingers and overlapping fullbacks are necessary in my opinion.

    That doesn’t mean it has to be 4231 but that is the system that has been drilled into this group from the day AK took over. It’s what we’re best at.

    Congratulations to Tony Mowbray and I wish him well at Coventry. Another very difficult assignment for Mogga.

    I completely agree with AV’a comments on him. He had to go as results had fallen off a cliff and the fans had turned on him but that doesn’t mean he didn’t do a good job throughout most of his time with us.

  13. I dont think anyone can argue about the good work Mogga did at the club, it was the results that did for him. No matter how much or how little you spend, imploding does you no favours at all.

    Just thinking of all the things AV mentioned, maybe Mogga would make a great Director of Football. I am not trying to end his managerial career it is just a thought that came to me.

    I will however add Coventry to the list of teams I follow.

  14. Andy R –

    Missed your post, yes I do rabbit on about width.

    i also agree with playing the way you have been drilled, 4231 is what has been the focus, changing wont necessarily work.

    The irony is people say go to 442, generally that involves a striker dropping off to link up which is not that disimilar tp 4231.

    Whatever you do the key thing is movement, the danger of playing two with Tomlin tucked in behind is that it suits people who want to park the bus, it is too narrow. Or playing Bamford on the right of the attacking three and Adomah left, it just funnels people in to the middle again.

    Hope we get a decent attendance tonight.

  15. Ian –

    I agree, though my slight preference is for Bamford on the right as I think his natural movement into central areas causes problems for his marker and makes that extra body in the box.

    It might be different if Tomlin, Leadbitter or Clayton got into the box often but they don’t. It would also be different if Fredericks isn’t playing because we need his regular raids down the right to keep the width. It’s all about how the players work as a unit.

    Vossen and Bamford did pretty well the last time we played Millwall.

  16. Hi Exmil.

    How are feeling today?

    Just checked my own spreadsheet of predictions and noticed that I had Derby on 67 points, not 69 points as in your record.

    Went back to check what I posted at the time ….

    Team Win Draw Lose Points Total
    ———— —– —— —— ——— ———
    B’mouth 3 4 3 (+13) 61pts
    Ipswich 5 2 2 (+17) 64pts
    Derby 6 4 0 (+22) 69pts
    Boro 7 2 1 (+23) 66pts

    Derby were on 45 points, so 45+22 should have said 67 not 69. My typo or my bad arithmetic, but it would make my overall score -10 instead of -12.

    Now, I know I did have a bout of flu in between times and was bed-ridden and unable to raise a post on the blog (or event to look at it) for a couple of days, but losing 2 points for not being able to field my full strength ….. I knew I should not have relied on a fax machine, but to be deducted points over such a matter is very galling ….. I hope I will not be relegated at the end of the season because of this..

    As for tonight, I think the MoM jinx for the month following the award is now out of the way and I fully expect normal service to be resumed tonight. I am expecting us to win comfortably, scoring at least 3 and not conceding.

    1. Powmill:

      Sorry at the time of recording your entry I only noted your points total, I never thought to check your arithmetic so therefore I award you -2 points for bad maths and you are to stay behind late tonight and sharpen thr rubbers.

      Come on BORO.

      1. That’ll be Typical Boro then 😉

        If you are still going out to the match tonight, enjoy, but keep the excitement and blood pressure under control now.

  17. Good to see you’ve all put the Mogga coloured specs back on, if we’re not careful we’ll be reviewing the Coventry games also…….

    **AV writes: Yes, EVERYTHING is the past is BAD.

  18. Andy –

    Against Millwall we played Reach left and Adomah right. Tomlin was on the bench.

    Vossen and Bamford played centrally. One came short and the other pushed on, switching positions. In essence they alternated the striker and no 10 roles.

    The no 10 is the modern term we use for the likes of Teddy Sheringham or Tomlin, Sheringham dropped back to link play, Tomlin starts deeper and runs at the defence and makes the passes.

    In both cases you need width to stretch the pitch, pull the full backs out from the centre backs, make them double up then you can play the passes in to space or run in to that space. The striker can run off the shoulder in to space rather than in to the next defender.

    All about tempo, pace and movement – the pace may be in the head like Sheringham and Tomlin.

    Just my view.

  19. Ian

    I agree with all of that. My point about Vossen and Bamford was that I hope they both play tonight, not where they play.

    442 with fluid movement from the front players and one of them dropping deep at the appropriate times is fine with me but I think we would have to leave Tomlin on the bench for that. No problem if that’s what’s best for the team on any given day.

    My other point is that unlike many I quite like Bamford on the right. It’s not ideal for him but I think he’s a handful there with his movement, whilst I’m not sure that he’s at his best as lone striker either. That 442 is perhaps the best setup for him but the team comes first.

  20. If the play-offs started tommorow,my team would be, in a 4312 formation:

    Kalas Ayala Woodgate ,Friend
    forshaw,lead better,Clayton

    Base it on ball retention, some height and experience in defence and players that get up for the big games. The bench would be strong later in a game.

  21. After the debacle of Saturday, I went to see my GP, She asked why I was so forlorn, I explained about the Typical Boro syndrome, at which point, she smiled, lightly shook her head and referred me to the local self harming centre.

    They were quite good actually, they talked me out of throwing myself in the canal, in the vain hope, a Great White Shark would appear.

    Got some lovely medication, The world is now a soft white fluffy cloud, with no gnashing of teeth and an unknown love of my fellow man.

    Seeing as I am high as a kite, I hope the boys do the biz tonight, I would hate to come crashing down to earth with a bang.

    As Cpl Jones used to say in Dads Army- Stick it to them, they don’t like it.

    Now where did I leave those tablets!!!

  22. Exmil

    I’ve changed my mind. The scoring system for the Exmil Challenge is mad and should e changed to steveh’s system immediately.

    This has nothing to do with the fact that I think I might be joint top with yourself if the change is made.

    1. I have looked at steveh’s system and you are right you would be joint top but I will still sneak it on the tie break of getting 2 predictions correct but if you can find another system that will put you top then please let me know lol.

      Come on BORO.

  23. gt

    No Bamford?

    I think all of us would have a similar core of seven or eight in our favoured side.

    Perhaps it goes to show that a “best XI” is in the eye of the beholder. A definitive best XI doesn’t exist.

    Managers see the game differently. They see the players in training and know about the bumps and bruises and personal issues. They also know about the opposition, their weak spots and strengths

    Managers take a far better informed horses-for-courses approach. It doesn’t mean they are always right and we are always wrong but I think the best eleven can change from game to game.

    Identifying the best eleven is part of what managers are paid for. Hopefully AK will earn his tonight.

  24. I think the interesting thing about the best XI argument is that, as Andy R says, we probably have 7 or 8 agreed first picks, with pretty much the back 7 (if you include the two holding midfielders) as nailed on. The only argument is around right back, although you’ll see no argument from me with Fredericks.

    With the attacking positions a little less clear it should actually play into our favour against the opposition, as they don’t know who those top 4 players will be. Likewise, you could argue that this means AK should have a solid base from which to build. Who would round off my front 4? Well, I’m 50:50 on Tomlin. Part of me thinks he is a great fit for the home games where we need someone to break teams down, part of me thinks he’s better for the big games as he seems to raise his game. I think Vossen is preferable when we play away from home, where his pace and work rate should allow us to play higher up the pitch, but at home perhaps those qualities are less utilized due to the fact that teams sit back and try and turn things scrappy.

    What I would say is that, for me, you need two proper wingers when playing at home. Reach and Albert, or whoever, but you need to stretch the play and try to open things up. Away from home it might work to play narrower, but if you put Bamford out wide you also risk leaving your right back exposed, which is perhaps not a good idea against teams with a pacy left winger.

    In short, it’s 1001 permuations, and all about opinions and good old lady luck! I’d rather have my day job than have to work out the emotional, mental and physical well-being and skills of 23 or more blokes whilst trying to keep them all happy.

  25. Would have been nice to see what Mowbray could have done if he had become manager with no restrictions like Karanka did.

    Unfortunately Coventry seem to be in a worse mess than Boro were,won’t be easy!

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