Back With A Bang After UEFA Coitus Interruptus

WELL thank God that long dark empty purgatory is over.
We’ve just endured a cold dark soulless spell of glazed over inactivity. Laptop screens remain defiantly unrefreshed. Tumbleweed has rolled lazily through the twittersphere.
Even the ‘Sky Sports Sources understand…”  tedious tape loop yellow ticker tape of tittle-tattle was yawning with luke-warm indifference as it tried to create a froth of substance over the results of meaningless games in far-flung countries between teams you know little of and care even less. It was like the cricket season.

I hate international breaks. Really hate them. Especially at this stage of the season. What kind of heartless Philistine does that? It is football’s coitus interruptus. For FIFA, UEFA and the FA to suddenly hit the pause button on campaigns in full flow right across Planet Football and just set to come to a climax is a cruel cold water intervention.
And just to stage cynical cash-cow friendlies and matches in a bloated two year cycle that could easily be played in the summer? To do this just as domestic football is coming to a pivotal point? To risk injuries and loss of momentum after a year of hard-work for a lop-sided, unrepresentative exhibition kick-about? That is stupid and shows the contempt these people hold club football in. And, outside three weeks every other summer, club football is everything.
Anyway, Boro are back with a bang and need to get swiftly back into their rhythm in a crazy cut-throat high-stakes Championship chase that is now at point of no-return
Two games in four days over the Easter weekend will shape the mood music going into the final movement. Two wins and a symphonic season will be set to finish with a flourish and a dramatic sonic boom. There will be sunshine smiles across Teesside, we will be dancing Willy’s Reggae in the streets  and work will begin sawing the top off the O bus.
A mixed bag – three or four points say – may leave Boro still well placed but vulnerable to rivals’ results elsewhere and the unfolding landscape will be uncertain and scary and the nerve-shredding tourniquet tension will tighten another notch leaving fraught fans fearing the wheel-nuts will go flying in the fixtures to come.
A poor return from these fixtures – two points say, or one or *gulp*…   a poor return, will spark bitter civil unrest, there will a ra-ra cull in terse told-you-so cyber drive-bys and ugly recriminations across all mediums. Even if the maths are inconclusive and Boro still have a beacon of hope. But let’s not go there.
We’ve had a few weeks off to regroup, recharge our batteries and refocus on the physical, mental and emotional challenges to come in seven cataclysmic cup finals. The players have had a break too. Some of them.
This season is going down to the wire and it will be a psychological assault course. It is the first promotion campaign for almost 20 years. It will be a draining, adrenaline splashed inside-out, upside down, 360 degree roller-coaster ride that will leave us weak-kneed and slightly nauseous. And then we’ll laugh hysterically at the end. Let’s enjoy it.

81 thoughts on “Back With A Bang After UEFA Coitus Interruptus

  1. I’m going to go for a crowd of 24.672 and a purgatory like 1-0 Boro win courtesy of a CB’s header (one from whichever two are fit enough to play but my guess is Woody) from a well worked short corner after all the stick Grant and Co. have taken recently over their set plays.

    A desperate gung ho Wigan bombardment in the last 15 minutes will see us pushed back far too deep and clinging on with Friend clearing one of the line and a huge relief when the final whistle goes.

    I also have a strong feeling that the break will have done Derby the world of good as it has provided relief from their mini implosion plus they have now got their Strikers back. A Derby and Ipswich win for me to finish or a really Good Friday for the Boro.

    Grant to be rested today with Watford coming up on Monday perhaps?

  2. The break has renewed my optimism, I feel the foam. Monday night has also boosted general confidence too, bizarrely. It’s a funny old thing football, in which confidence can count for more than skill at times, or at least temporarily boost it. I only hope my froth headed Teesside steel flowing through my veins this morning translates to reality. My take? 22k crowd, and Boro 3-0 winners after a cagey start. Bambam, Leadbelter and a Kike off the bench special. UTB

  3. Expecting a win today and so it should be for a team hoping to achieve promotion. Failure to win these types of games are the ones you look back on at the end of the season and see them as costly dropped points.

    Can one team go on a seven game winning run and hold their nerve?

    Will it be us?

    Going to be a long four weeks to find out!!

    Into my second season of another three year season card,having enjoyed my few games in the East Lower closer to the action whilst I was in plaster I have persuaded my son and friend to move there. I found that you see the game so differently than you do high up in the corners,it appears so much faster and harder close up,and don’t judge the players as harshly for mistakes.

    Think those seats should come with complimentary caps and sunglasses though for sunny days 😎.

  4. Just caught up with the last couple of days of posting. Wanted to congratulate RR for an excellent post yesterday.

    As for today, I am smelling the foam and believe we will hit the net five times. As this is the only home game for us over the holiday week-end, I am expecting there will be a fairly big turnout, 25,500 or maybe just over 26,000.


  5. Being total rubbish at predictions, one correct all season, I’m going for Boro 3 – 1 Wigan. But a win of any kind is good but one that helps the GD stat even better, so here’s hoping Boro get their collectives tails up and hammer them.



  6. I’ll take any win, but I’m looking forward to a big win for Boro to. That said Wigan are handy away from home.

  7. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Forshaw play (against his former team of course) for perhaps Clayton or maybe Leadbitter. If he is going to get a start in the middle, surely today is the day with them both walking a tightrope and Watford on Monday.

    I think he might return to the Derby front four and play Vossen behind Bamford with Tomlin coming in from the left. Reach is clearly a big talent and has had a good season but nothing much is going for him at the moment.

    Who plays centre-half? Woody would be nice, but can he play Friday-Monday. But if not him, then it would either have to be Kalas (!) or Omeruo, who might be injured anyway?

  8. As the players having had two weeks to dwell on the Bournemouth loss and have been given lots of preparation time for the Wigan game I’m wondering whether perhaps their heads may be too full of stats and tactics.

    This all could mean that the game could be played in a more cautious manner than necessary – so I’m going for a not too impressive 1-0 win or possibly even only a ring-rusty 0-0.

  9. My in laws are camped out in my house for this Easter weekend, i wish they would go home, with two massive games and my mood swings will be up and down like a fiddlers elbow, it will be best all round if we score early and win both games. We will beat Wigan today, we might have to mug them for the points and have the keys in the car with the engine running, but we will take the three points. Goal difference is going to be huge, we need the goals back we shipped against Bournemouth, Merry Easter everyone and UTB !!!!

  10. Talk about winning the hard way….! The steward “guarding” the stairway next to my seat at the Riverside rolled his eyes at the final whistle, gave a hearty sigh and. as he hugged me, just gave me a friendly check to make sure my heart was still ticking. I am reassured that it was. Must have been a close run thing.

  11. I could have done with a change of underpants for that one even though I did predict a grinding 1-0 win and hanging on defending too deep in the last 10 minutes.

    I don’t have any official stats on the game but I think Al Habsi had a 2nd half palm around the post from a speculative twist and turn from Bamford and apart from the deflected goal had nothing else to do.

    3 points are 3 points so at this stage of the Season I’m grateful for the reward rather than perhaps the means of acquiring them. We bossed the game in the first 45 minutes perhaps to the point of being over complacent with some sloppy passing.

    In the second half Wigan started to close us down quickly and chase every ball. They rattled us out of our passing game and as a consequence put us under pressure. Vossen had a superb chance just after the restart but tried to walk the ball in when he had a clear shot on. A confident striker would have got a shot off but Jelle ran into too many defenders. Tomlin also had a chance but again one touch too many lost the chance.

    Vossen was being battered and bullied and the Ref seemed oblivious to it all. Eventually Vossen looked like someone being bullied and started to play within himself and being subbed for Tomlin had an air of inevitability about it. Out wide Reach ran down the flank but then as seems to be his want he stops and tries to cut it back, frustrating isn’t the word for it but i have to say defensively he was very good, covering for Friend’s forays and getting blocks and tackles in all day.

    When I seen Kalas at RB I shuddered but for me he just edged the brilliant Woody for MOM. Fair play to the lad for recovering from his South Coast nightmare to put in a composed and solid display.

    Bamford ran and ran but looked a bit tired and weary after about 60 minutes. I think that AK waited too long before bringing the lad off for Kike. As the game wore on we dropped deeper and deeper and had little to no outlet and Maguire started to dominate the middle of the park which was a worry as he was their CB. In fairness to Maguire he looked a powerful unit but with a bit of ball playing skill.

    For me we should have brought Forshaw on as Clayton and Leadbitter had dropped back to playing just in front of the back 4. I guess the plan was for Tomlin to sit tight in the hole and prevent Maguire strolling out but by then we looked ragged and a bit desperate. Thankfully we held out thanks to sterling defending from Kalas, Woody, Ben and George.

    It was ugly but who cares, we won but at the end I must admit to feeling particularly pleased for Kalas, not many players bounce back from his last tortured performance. I suspect that Nsue not even making the bench was testimony to AK’s thoughts on who was to blame.

    A huge 3 points against a difficult team whose impressive 4 straight away wins came to an end. On to Watford but we will have to be more productive up front and we cannot allow the Hornets the same space in the middle of the park as we conceded today as they set up a lot of their goalscoring opportunities down the middle. I would maybe play Whitehead in front of the back four with Clayton and Leadbitter in front and an isolated Bamford (or Kike) up front on his own on the break.

    Ipswich nearly pulled off a shock but they still pulled two points back from the Cherries which added to today’s joy. Just hope Schteeve can help us out tonight.

  12. I agree with Redcar! Kalas was great, Woody was awesome, his timing and reading of the game are supernatural.
    Boro were a little too measured in the first half which led to a second half which was tense at times but should have been a none event. Still first win I’ve seen at home this season so I’m happy.
    Bring on Watford.

  13. 1-1 at Derby, Watford down to ten men, defender suspended, not too bad. I always rated Kevin Friend as a ref……….

  14. 2 very good results went our way for us this evening, could of been better, but I’m a happy Boro fan today. 1-3 would be nice Monday. I’ve got that feeling. 😳


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