Battling Boro Put The Bite On Wounded Wolves

FANTASTIC.  Finesse. Flair. Fight. Fans.  And plenty of other ‘F’ words. Especially in a nerve shredding spell in the second half when Wolves threatened to gate-crash the party with a goal on the break and a shot that hit the bar leaving loyalists needing defibrilators.

I  would say Boro “held on”  but I’m not sure that’s true. On balance – our own jitters aside – it was probably a more comfortable win than our racing pulses and valium consumption suggested. Boro could have been out of sight before the break as Albert Adomah whacked against the woodwork after a beguiling weaving run and Patrick Bamford also hit the bar at the death with a neat lob.   Boro were the better team  where and when it mattered through. Even Wolves boss Kenny Jackett admitted as much.

Sprint starters Boro raced into an early lead then grabbed the game by the throat and, with the crowd right behind them from the of,f showed  a hunger and spirit that suggested they are still very much in the battle for a top two spot. It was a brilliant team display reminiscent of the December dismantling of Derby.

Clinical, organised, physical, motivated, threatening and lightening on the break: tactically that was as good a job as Boro have done on anyone this season. The first 45 minutes was imperious and industrious in equal measure and a joy to watch.

Obviously an early goal (or two)  helps frame the narrative and the shape of the game, settle nerves and stokes up the atmosphere – excellent and inspirational from before kick-of with any hangover from Aitor’s frustration and with the tetchy Rotherham  rumble blown away  –  but even before Jelle Vossen ahd slotted home the opener on three minutes the template of the game had been set.

1Celebrate

 

              Something to celebrate: Patrick Bamford beats Ravanelli’s record 

Buzzing Boro played with a high tempo, pressed high and went snarling into tackles, hustling and harrying mob-handed and forcing normally imposing Wolves into some early mistakes. But the muscle was combined with some delightful deft touches.

It was hard to believe it was the same imposing, intimidating and direct Wolves team who had bullied a meek Boro aside back in October, in a game the Black Country press pack told us was “their best all season.”  Don’t people tell us that almost every week?

Tim Nash from the Express And Star, Wolves’ Eric Paylor,  wrote on twitter at the break: “I can’t recall a team coming at Wolves with such ferocity as Boro have this season. Wolves don’t know what day it is at the moment.”

It was a perfect start. The opener came as Bamford mugged sluggish central defender Stearman to reach a lofted pass that sent a bouncing ball to  the edge of the box, then subtly slipped it inside and bang into the path of Vossen to slot in to an unguarded net.

With Wolves rocking the second came as Adomah sent Tomas Kalas carving down the inside right channel and into the box and he drew and held off two defenders then  squared to Bamford, who with his back to goal flicked it up and spun around in a poetic single sweep and then fired in from close range. Exquisite.

That was the fifth home game in a row Bamford has scored in and took him ahead of Ravanelli as the Riverside’s top league scorer in a single season. He now has 19 in all competitions with three games to go.  He’s been a revelation.

Boro’s effective silk and steel combination was on view all over the pitch, as Boro barged strapping rivals aside and played incisive passes to swiftly apply pressure to Wolves.

Adam Forshaw, who appears to be sporting Adam Clayton’s discarded hipster beard,  was excellent, putting in a high-energy display as a midfield destroyer but combined with a creative instinct and some perceptive passing;  elsewhere  both full-backs pressed up to block up the flank and prevent Wolves playing the diagonals that had ripped  Boro open in the reverse and also adding bodies to support the attack

Adomah was brilliant, weaving and jinking and teasing the Wolves defence but also working hard in his defensive duties, tracking back closing down and getting challenges in. At one point he put in a tackle like a snow plough, hitting his man low and scooping him uo and throwing him over his shoulder to leave him in a pile on the touchline.

The front two  worked hard to close down the Wolves back four, never gave them time to settle and certainly never gave them time to knock the ball down the flanks to tunr Boro and apply some pressure.

The defence worked hard too in the second half as Wolves stepped up a gear and had a more assertive – if frantic and scrappy – spell .  But they got a grip on their men and never gave them much space in dangerous areas, nodded away the high-balls, cut out all the knocks in from the flanks and when the pressure was on and fans had their hearts in their mouth,  the team got bodies back and threw them in the ever more hopeful shots.

Who haven’t we mentioned? Oh yes, the fans. The supporters certainly did their job. There was a real racket from before kick-off as Boro more than answered Aitor’s appeal to get behind the team – and they stepped up a gear in intensity after Wolves scored to get back into the game.  And it came from all directions. Both North and South stands were roaring in stereo and in a radical development  another area found it’s voice as the refrain: “We’re the East Stand, We’re the East Stand, We’re the East Stand Red Army” rang out.  It will only take the  West Stand to join in and start waving the tartan blankets and flasks and the Riverside will have an awesome quadrophonic  suround-sound effect.

After the game the manager and then both Forshaw and Friend were gushing as they hailed the fans  – Aitor dedicated the win to them – and  clarified his earlier statements with a bridge-building charm offensive and some pointed praise. The supporters, partly prompted by Aitor’s appeal but also responding to the all-or-nothing high-stakes nature of the game, more than played their part. And for this one thing he was happy.

And as I was down in the tunnel I can confirm they weren’t reading from prepared statements. George in particular seemed genuinely impressed by the show of strength although both players mentioned the surprise (distraction?) of seeing the sudden smart-phone Scorpions concert lighter aloft moment on the hour. Maybe a Wind of Change is flowing through the crowd as renewed optimism gets a grip.

1Ayazz

                      Ayazz that knacks: Albert get treatment for a kick to the foot

It wasn’t all good news. Albert took what looked like a kick on the foot and was limping heavily for a while before he went off and he will need to be assessed. Woody went down with a hamstring and looks to be ruled out for a week or two (should we end up in the play-offs I’ve got him pencilled in to bow out with a last gasp fairytale Wembley winner) and Dani Ayala will almost certainly miss at least the Norwich games with twinges in his thigh injury after his return against Rotherham.

1tablenow

Still, it was a good job well done. Six points in four days is a great return from the two home games everyone said we had to win to be in with any chance of an automatic spot.  A play-off place has now been secured after the win  (“that’s safe, that’s yours to take home”) but no-one – at the club or among the fans – is settling for that now.

That would  feel like a disappointment now. But let’s not even think about that yet.  Boro are still in the chase for an automatic spot after a good few days work and have kept up with the pace the top as both Bournemouth and Norwich won…. and the results piled the pressure on Watford who go to Forest  now needing to win or risk drifting away.

And we can take confidence from that performance into the next big crunch clash with the Canaries on Friday.  Another massive must win game. My heart is going to explode.

COME ON BORO.

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BEFORE the game myself and Gazette Boro digital king-pin Dom Shaw were interviewed on camera by the lads from the One Boro forum.  We had to shift half-way through as MMP whacked the volume up to full on aural assault (the ground was still empty) and we moved down to the press lounge  but I’m sure they can do some edit-magic to overcome that.

I waffled on a bit. No doubt it’ll be up on-line soon. I’ll let you know when.

1OneBoro

Tables turned: being quizzed on camera.  “That’s football.” 

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SO:  WOLVES. Another massive much win match in another “Week of Destiny”. It doesn’t get any easier and the pressure doesn’t let up.  High-stakes. High wire emotions with every jitter appearing to threaten a fatal plunge. Just stay steady. Keep the  balance, Don’t look down. Don’t do anything stupid.  Just get across. Exciting isn’t it? This is what we wanted: a campaign that went right to the wire rather than fading in February.

We have everything to play but plenty to lose. Let’s hope the players can settle our nerves early on (Bamford, pen, 6) and then can relax and enjoy it. Wolves are difficult to play against with quick, direct balls forward to the big lad up front – exactly the type of team we struggle against – but then we  should be used to that now.

With a full strength team out, highly motivated and a good home record behind us we should be fired up. Having the crowd behind the team too may make the difference and if you’re not up for this one then you need to check your vital signs. Your heart and pulse should be at about 196 bpm, like a hi-energy nu-rave track on fast-forward.

1Riverside

Let’s do this thing….

Here’s some good stats spotted by Redcar Red on a betting site:

“The West Midlands outfit have put up some impressive numbers when it comes to attacking, averaging two goals per game recently. Wolves have found the net with every fifth shot during this period and that puts them on a par with the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain.

Middlesbrough hold the edge in three of the four defensive categories, matching Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea by conceding to just 9% of the shots taken against them. The men from Molineux have not done a bad job at the back themselves, however, conceding only 11 times in ten matches of late.”

So Barca/Real/Chelsea  against Man U/Arsenal PSG.  That should get  the pulse racing.. as if we needed any help on that front!

Usual drill,  predict the score and how the game will pan out here and then we’ll all meet back here later to cheer and recalibrate the top two target – or wail and bemoan missed opportunities back in August and co-ordinate diaries for the play-off.

I think I’m going to 2-0 again. An early one then a long grind before sealing it late on after surving a pummelling for a spell. #DaftQuid

COME ON BORO

 

 

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122 thoughts on “Battling Boro Put The Bite On Wounded Wolves

  1. Werdermouth –

    There is a bit of a difference to the Bournemouth match. They were away on the Tuesday, then at home. For us it was two away games and because it was a lunchtime kick off it probably benefitted them.

    This time we were at home and Norwich had the long journey back from Leeds last night. We have a bit more time to prepare, possibly even having a little session on Friday morning before travelling – don’t know if they are travelling down Thursday.

    I think the fact it was such a good, front foot performance will help. It will give confidence to start on the front foot again.

    That is my hope and I am sticking to it.

    I don’t think Aitor will be clever with his selections by strategically resting players for Fulham. It may be he wont risk the walking wounded, when I played a lot of sport and had a knock it either cleared up quickly or was worse two days later.

    Grant will have been in a cage with red meat all week. Having missed two games and played for Ipswich I think Aitor will have to put a muzzle on him, he will certainly resemble a Jack Russell.

    1. Norwich, Bournemouth and Watford all won away from home midweek.
      All three have 2 home and 1 away
      All three are ahead of us.

      Norwich;
      Us at home tomorrow
      Rotherham away
      Fulham at home
      1 point better, a better GD and play us!

      Bournemouth;
      Sheff Wed home Saturday
      Bolton home
      Charlton away
      2 points more than us and a better GD

      Watford;
      Birmingham home on Saturday
      Brighton away
      Sheff Wed home
      1 point more and better goal difference

      We have;
      Norwich away…..arrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhhh, sorry about that
      Fulham away
      Brighton home
      Worst points than top 3
      Worst GD than top 3

      To state that Norwich away tomorrow will reveal if we can secure a top 2 place doesn’t say the half of it!
      Norwich are evens
      the draw is 12/5
      Boro are 12/5

      In last 8 matches
      Bournemouth Pts 20 F 21 A 5 GD+16
      Norwich Pts 20 F17 A6 GD +11
      Watford Pts 17 F21 A6 GD +16
      Boro Pts15 F11 A9 GD +2

      To get a result at Norwich tomorrow will defy the odds, but will put us right back in it for an automatic promotion spot.
      The match at Norwich isn’t just another game
      Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. … Bill Shankly: It’s Much More Important Than That!

  2. Ian

    OK, it could have been an advantage not sitting on a coach (of the bus variety) after the game – hopefully the main players will be fit and ready to press and hustle from the off

    I’ve also arrived at the age where I try to work out why I’m aching the next day from doing something trivial – I actually woke up this morning with cramp in the back of my leg, which was probably either in sympathy with the Boro players or I over-stretched reaching for the Merlot in the second half.

  3. Werder –

    It is the whole bit about recovery etc. The Boro players would have been tucked up in bed by the time Norwich had got as far as Leicester Forest East services. It is all little bits and pieces that add up.

    It doesn’t take much just to take the edge off performance.

    I have sympathy with your aches and pains. I prepared well for last night’s game.

    The warm up consisted of stubbies beforehand with top ups in breaks of play, second half was Sauvignon Blanc to refuel and replace carbs, warm down was more relaxed with Cotes du Rhone.

    A little bit later start this morning, then a debrief via multimedia

    Like Aitor, nothing is left to chance.

  4. AV, Lovely affectionate sketch from Graeme Bandeira. Not the most flattering, but what you must expect I suppose when he’s sponsored by Crimewatch.

    **AV writes: Mrs V is “going to bray the cheeky get!” I laughed. Its’ good. I’ve been ‘Bandied.’ I’ve just shaved my hair off or he’d have had my spikes to go at.

  5. Hello! Hello! When it comes to criticising a football team no one is better at it than it’s own fans.

    After last nights little rumble under the lights I think we can lay off both players and management, for I think we were well entertained by two teams who gave everything, Wolves looked a bottom four side for 45 minutes. Not their fault, Boro were in the mood and in the groove and hustled them out of their comfort zone scoring twice and coming close to.dismantling them.

    The second half was a bird of a different feather, and how. Wolves decided that they had nothing to loose and hit the ground running, bags of muscle and speed and purpose, but we held on, thank the lord. Now comes the monster game. Forget injuries, form, luck, or even lucky white heather, all that matters is determination, with bells on, oh, and please let our favourite central defender be fit.

  6. As Schteve would say, Magnificent match, Magnificent crowd, Magnificent atmosphere = Magnificent result.

    I thought Kenneth was back to last seasons form when he came on, so with Woody out and if we have not got Ayala then I would be happy with Gibson paired with either Ormeruo or Amorebieta, the question in my mind who plays right midfield/wing Nsue/Wildschut or does he play Bamford on the right, Kike center with either Vossen (my choice) or Tomlin in the hole, that is of course if Albert does not make it. I trust AK to make the right decision based on more knowledge than any of us will be party to.

    Truly proud to be a Boro fan last night (east upper) the light show and the chanting, including us was Magnificent.

    Come on BORO.

  7. Now that we are assured of a play-off place I think we can all take a breath once again. Of the past 6 seasons in the Championship Im pretty sure most would agree this has been the most interesting(and absorbing) of the lot. It’d almost be a shame to get promoted from this crazy league…maybe not actually!

    So tonight Forest could do us a major favour by winning and returning automatic promotion chances back into Boro’s hands.

    In reality Middlesbrough have already been involved in a mini play-off league these past few weeks involving Bournemouth, Watford and now on Friday Norwich. Should the canaries win, I for one would have no arguments about finishing below those 3 teams, could anyone? Like a few others have suggested already I prefer to look at it as an opportunity, Norwich are on a great run but we the chance to halt that – it is a true 6 pointer exactly when we need it.

    First thing’s first lets see what happens tonight..

    UTB

  8. As I said lets see what happens tonight, as AV said we are in good form with 15 points out of 21.

    Bournemouth 17 out of 21
    Norwich 17 out of 21
    Watford 16 out of 21.
    That is why we are fourth.

    I am not being a doommonger, all to play for but we now probably require a win at Norwich and snookers for Watford. Neither are impossible, Watford were cruising at 2-0 against ten men then Forest came back and should have equalised but didnt.

    Just got to keep going. As I said all to play for.

  9. Top four as you were.

    Typical Forest only turned up against us and have let the rest beat them.

    Well we go first this weekend,win and go top then hope Watford and Bournemouth have a nervous wobble.

    We can but hope!!

  10. Bugger! Forest are useless.

    Looking at the last three games that Bournemouth and Watford have to play, it would be a surprise if they didn’t win them all but we can still hope that something odd will happen.

    Bournemouth are the extra point ahead of us. Therefore,a draw is useless to us given their goal difference and, as I can’t see them losing to Sheff Wed, Bolton or Charlton, it is unlikely that we can overtake them. I am going to forget about them and concentrate my psychic attack on Watford.

    Watford will be hoping for a draw between us and Norwich so that they can pull into second with a win. If either team wins, they will feel disappointed and feel the extra bit of pressure. Maybe that will be enough to tip them over the edge. Anyway, first thing is for us to beat Norwich and then wait.

    UTB

  11. Well, it shows we are in a reasonable position in the table – Forest [and others] beaten by top teams where we could only lose or draw is the measure and the yard stick for next season if we miss out. Our home form is awesome – I saw the table on Sporting life and had to grin.

    The crowds will start to come back as this becomes the norm not an exception for the season.

    Now on to to Friday, live on the TV [late night for us – but a weekend] Lots of G and T and half a dozen expats in red and white shirts (maybe a yellow shirt or two?). Champagne in the fridge and beers in the ice box. Spring rolls, nachos and thai spicy chicken wings – can’t wait.

    Add to that a few girls in the pool and we have a great night in store – I wish I could be in Norwich but there again….?

    Now on to serious business – what is the date for the play off final [just in case] and how do 500 or so Boro exiles get tickets. Flights need to be booked just in case, and a daft few quid placed on auto promotion to compensate for the cancellation charges – so much to do and so little time.

    Anyhow spring is in the air and life is starting to look rosy again

    Bring it on!!!

  12. I see Boro Phil is a master of the mind games, reminiscent of Mourinho, Fergie, et al. Redcar Red certainly got into top form and upped his game with the Wolves report.

  13. OK for you Allan. Here in Sydney, kick off is 4.45am. I’ll have to crawl out of bed and not disturb Mrs S.

    For lovers of symmetry, how about this for a triumphant end to the season.

    WIGAN beat BRIGHTON leaving BRIGHTON still in danger
    BRIGHTON beat WATFORD leaving BRIGHTON safe
    BORO beat BRIGHTON for a huuge party.

    UTB

  14. Allan in Saudi! what you describe must be on a good BA or Aramco Compound or it’s Bahrain….anyway enjoy as Boro Expats will be decked in the Red for sure wherever we are; me it’s the Mossie Bar decent beer, dodgy pizza and no girls:(

    selwynoz 04:45 really, i’ve just finished my morning run by then so come on get the extra strong Expresso going..

    We all have to get the what if scenario buried, I remember when Boro were promoted from Div 3 it looked like they were out of contention until the last game (think it was!)

    I would definitely have taken the play offs at the start of the season but here we are and the play offs could be the way up.
    Luckily i’m back home in time but; Bournemouth are due to stumble, the very nearly did at Reading and after Tuesday night I don’t see us loosing momentum on Friday so I reckon Saturday morning we’ll be back on top………

    Get in there, Come on Boro you won’t hear us but us Expats will be giving it all

  15. I see the Daily Mail have written a piece about Chelsea offering Bamford a new contract with a much improved deal on the £7500 a week that he is getting now. I thought he was already on a lot more than that, £40k a week had been quoted on here before.

    As well as he has done for us can you ever see him breaking into Chelsea’s first team and playing week in week out? How often does a Chelsea youth player break into the first team?
    Chelsea and the other top four or five clubs will always pay millions for a proven top goal scorer they can’t afford to gamble on a young player with the stakes so high in the Premiership and Champions league.

    You can tell from Bamfords interviews about Chelsea that he wants to play in Chelsea’s first team in the future but realistically he most likely won’t. Does he sign another contract, sit in Chelsea’s reserves and play in an occasional cup game or continue to be loaned and be a Chelsea player in name only?

    Too many young players go to the top clubs and never get a game of football and disappear and fans forget they even exist until you see a team sheet for round one of the league cup.

    What happened to their love and passion for playing? They seemed to be more bothered about picking up their large salaries and the so called “kudos” of being at a top club!

    **AV writes: I am very dubious about that story. My understanding was he had signed a new deal a year ago. I think because he has scored so many of his goals on telly and been nominated as FL young player of the year (and there is a Chelsea link) a few national journos have been told to do a story on him and have welded a guess to an old cutting. My understanding is that Boro are already paying north of £20k a week for him.

  16. Never Give Up –

    The lad seems keen to play football, he wants to play at the highest level possible, he is no different to anyone else.

    This blog is full of posters who moved away for their careers.

    Even going back to the despised Ashley Cole, none of us could grasp the money he turned down at Arsenal. But when you are one of the best in your position the world, when you go away with the England team and realise what they are paid, when you know how much some of the foreign players around you are on and are certainly at best no better than you, when your club isn’t winning trophies. That is when you can see where they are coming from.

    Still cant comprehend the amount they get paid.

  17. Mrs AV:

    Sorry. The wee joke was a measure of my affection and respect.

    Please accept a dozen virtual roses via cyberspace.

    **AV writes: Oooh she’ll like those. I’ll download a virtual vase.

  18. Ian –

    I can accept that players have ambition to play at the highest level, what I don’t accept are the players who move to a big club knowing that they will hardly ever kick a ball for them or even contribute to the trophies the club win.

    Look at how many promising young players disappear when lured to big clubs,they still could have made a lot of money moving to a mid table Premier League club and played week in week out and who knows improved enough to move to a big club and played.

    Scott Sinclair is a player that springs to mind,a promising winger.

    1. Could I put the opposite point of view. Your well loved son or grandson is playing out of his skin for his, and your local team. A lovely young lad and coming up 20. He is as happy as Larry, his family, i.e. you see him every match and he is so good even your local team have him on, oh maybe six grand a week. He is being connected all the time with giant clubs, and giant money. He keeps saying to you, no way is he going to any giant club. You say nothing, but you know in your heart of hearts that your beloved boy could break his leg in three places next week.your local club would collect their very large insurance your boy would be out of the game, period. If he went to the giant club and took them for as much as he could and for as many years as he could get out of them, both he and you could relax and enjoy his career because you would have the comfort blanket of knowing that he would have at least x amount of millions of pounds even if the bad injury did happen.

      1. Enjoy what career? Because 9/10 young promising players that the big clubs buy up rarely get a game! My argument is Do they want to play football or do they just want to sit around in the reserves for five years and waste the best years of their playing career?
        And he could just as easily break his leg at a big club and never play again

  19. Well the maths is easy now, win them all and hope for the best.
    Wembley final must be spring bank holiday Monday? Never seen Boro win at Wembley…..

  20. I’ve got a feeling it’ll be Bournemouth who blink first.

    Everyone seems to have them promoted already given their run-in, but they are showing signs that the nerves are starting to kick in. They went two down to Birmingham in their last home game, and from the reports it should’ve been three before they began their comeback.

    I watched them struggle against a poor Brighton team, and they only just squeezed past a Reading side with more than an eye on the cup semi-final this weekend. Given their swashbuckling attacking style, it’s striking to note they’ve only had two shots on target in each of their last two games.

    Get your money on a Boro/ Sheff Weds double this weekend. You know it makes sense.

    I’ll be over here looking for some more straws to clutch at.

  21. I still hope for a top two place. But that means a win at Norwich. So it will be our biggest game since relegation. A cup final. And we seem to be winning in a final outside Wembley …

    But if we won’t, there is hope for play-offs. I hope Woody will be back the time we play at Wembley. Woody could then finish his career with a winning goal – like Mogga did for Ipswich. And then become a academy coach.

    I wish Woody all the best. A legend because of his talent. Shame for all the injury problems. But a red forever.

    Up the Boro!

  22. I’ve given up trying to predict the permutations now. I think our auto promotion boils down to this:

    Win at Norwich: still have a chance
    Draw/Lose at Norwich: no chance

    The rest is too hard to call. Either way, Watford or Bournemouth would still need to drop points for us to squeeze through. Watford can be a draw, but to get past Bournemouth would need them to draw 2 or lose 1. And all of this is assuming we win the next 3! Crikey.

    I looked at the form table on the BBC table the other night and nearly wept, Bournemouth and Norwich don’t have any red (DEFEAT) in their last 10 – we have 4! I think Watford have 1 defeat. Hoping for them all to drop points now seems foolhardy.

  23. On another note and purely as a distraction from all the worrying – is it too early to cast our minds to the player of the season awards?
    Leadbiter, Ben, Dimi and BamBam would seem to be the clear contenders.

    1. I think Friend must also be a contender – he’s played nearly every game and I think he has frequently been man of the match. His work rate is amazing.

  24. Disappointed Leeds and Forest couldn’t manage to get at least one draw between them mid-week.

    Now I daren’t event think about what might happen… but there could be a surprise in there yet from either of Brightton, Birmingham or Sheff W.

    Big, big night on Friday …..

  25. I don’t know if I can count either …..

    **AV writes: A couple of touches to get it under control and shinned home from close range – but they all count!

  26. There’s no point worrying over the permutations just yet, all Boro can do now is concentrate on the next game. Given that we have the safety net of the playoffs already secured, we should just go all out for the win and see what develops elsewhere.

    So this game is not one for promotion passengers, or a dress rehearsal for Wembley, but a chance to be in the driving seat with two winnable games to play. There’ll be no point in approaching the game in a cautious manner and giving Norwich time and space to get into their rhythm.

    In reality, it’s probably an all or nothing game as an extra point won’t move us out of fourth place even if other contenders slip up this weekend.

    Also if Watford and Bournemouth win, because of goal difference, a point will leave us needing to make up more than three points to overtake them both from the last two games.

    BTW Mrs Werdermouth thought I might be interested in visiting the new Ikea store that has opened in Bremerhaven this Friday evening – I told her Boro are playing and I’m not interested in witnessing a catalogue of disasters again – for some reason I think she took that as a yes.

    1. Wonder what the Boro have in store for us ?

      Are we going to have a flat pack four?

      We have to assemble our best team.

      We might not say IKEA at full time but Eureka!!

      Fatbob

  27. No IKEA distraction for me, but we have visitors arriving in Edinburgh from Switzerland on Friday afternoon, for me to take home. Mrs Powmill will be very upset with me if I spend the evening following the twitter feeds and BORO LIVE ….. I don’t know if it is a good thing that I will have something going on to distract me or not.

  28. As we know this Championship Season has consistently thrown curved balls and raised eyebrows at results from time to time. Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford are as much due a defeat as they are another win. Yes they may go unbeaten and they may take maximum points but right now like them we have qualified for the play off’s so have literally nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    Fulham are a quality side that haven’t performed to their relative merits including McCormack. If they are free from relegation worry then they are capable on paper of having a good game against anyone (including us) but minus their new LB. Wednesday as we know are a strong side that turn it on and off when it suits. Again with little risk they may play without fear. Charlton are a useful side, again nothing to lose and I could envisage them grinding out a draw. So points can and probably will be dropped in a momentous Homer moment no doubt for someone. Lets hope we have put all our Red “L”‘s in the last 5 played performance table behind us.

    Also bear in mind a lot of footballers will have contracts coming to an end and therefore keen to find another club or be re-signed by their current one. A top drawer performance against a promoted side is good for their CV and agent’s bargaining power.

    My only worry is Boro. Looking over the Season we lost a lot of our points early days through AK believing in Mejias and some more during the Season by tinkering either with selections or with selections and tactics. Sheffield Wednesday away still grates with me.

    Hopefully now AK realises that this League is about consistency and his methodology of keeping clean sheets worked (tinkering aside) until our CB injury crisis. Once we started leaking goals we looked vulnerable. He must play his strongest side tomorrow night and as much as it may cause angst I believe keeping it tight is the only style we are truly comfortable with despite Tuesday night’s romance.

    That means a return for Adam Reach, his performances are not swashbuckling but they are solid and allow Friend a lot more freedom. If Albert is crocked as is likely then its Nsue with Kalas behind to save Freddy for when Kalas has to go back to Chelsea. Bamford is an obvious starter if fit though he looked very leggy to me in the last 20 against Wolves.

    In the middle its two from three (assuming Clayton isn’t suspended after his Yellow on Tuesday). I suspect that Grant will be back but after Forshaw’s performances I’m OK if Grant is left on the bench. So that leaves Vossen or Tomlin. Vossen links up well with Bamford but Tomlin can carve teams open. Problem is Tomlin on Tuesday was as good if not better than the Man City game, will we have to wait another two months for his next good game or is he still fired up?

    The only other possible scenario is to Play Tomlin wide right instead of Nsue but that is bordering on tinkering. Its a difficult shout but AK has to go with whoever is strongest and fittest.

    Defensively, Kalas for me as mentioned because he is due back at Chelsea soon and has done well at RB, Ben and Friend are nailed on (but then again I thought the same about Wednesday and Watford away). So Ayala if fit, sadly I believe its too big a gamble, leaving a straight choice between Amorebeita or Ken. I’d go with Ken for his athleticism over Amorebeita’s physicality but its another difficult call for AK. Whoever plays alongside Ben will have suspect 90 minute fitness levels regardless.

    Dimi in goal assuming his “injury” on Tuesday was only to wind the clock down rather than anything serious. If not then I guess it’s Ripley with Mejias gulaged presumably somewhere on the Iberian peninsula.

    If we go to Carrow Road with the same mentality that we took to Eastlands we can do it. If AK tinkers though we are stuffed, it has never worked for him all Season, I hope and pray he doesn’t get a sudden enlightenment from left field on Friday morning.

    Our record against the other top sides on our travels isn’t great but surely fate would decree that we are due a break and that Norwich and their fans will be feeling the pressure just as much if not more. Carrow Road will be an edgy place with a bouncing atmosphere tomorrow night, an early goal however could result in record Imodium sales in Norfolk.

    1. Thank you Powmill but it was easy to find the words after a great night on Tuesday, courtesy of Messrs Bamford, Forshaw, Adomah, Vossen, Tomlin and co.

      Congratulations on the 100, lets hope Paddy is as prolific tomorrow!

  29. Well, my exmil challenge predictions are all to cock to, as things stand I have Boro finishing fourth, but if we win at Norwich (I have predicted a defeat) then that would leave Boro finishing second. Providing Watford drop some points of course….god its tight!

    Still, the Norwich match is very straight forward isn’t it? We need Brucie’s Bugler down there to lead the charge!!

  30. The imponderable is the players approach.

    When George was asked why they were up for the Wolves game he struggled to explain it. Thinking about it, our away form in the last couple of months has been head scratching at times.

    Bullied, blown away, battling, wasteful, brilliant.

    It is that couple of % that is difficult to quantify. We all know it from our own lives.

    Occasionally I go fly fishing, sometimes I spend my time untangling the line, at others the fly lands exactly where I want it.

    Golfers have the same problems, last Sunday at the same hole, Spieff fired it way in to the trees and it bounced out, Rose went in to the edge and it dropped behind a trunk.

    In the car, sometimes we don’t have to think about what we are doing, at others you wish the windows were tinted.

    Footballers will be no different, timing tackles and passes to perfection, being in the right place effortlessly. Then there are the times when players have to stop and wait for the passes, they look up there is nothing on. There was the shot against Leeds when three players followed up and their keeper palmed it between the three of him.

    You just cant fathom it.

    **AV writes: “Fine margins.”

    1. AV –

      You must experience it in your work, the Billy Fury piece was one of best bits of football journalism I have seen. It had Derby and Forest fans in hysterics.

      No offence meant, your work is a very high standard, stands alongside Harry Pearson in it’s own way but you cannot produce a Billy Fury article every time.

      **AV writes: You can’t alway hit the heights but so long as I can get “Halfway To Paradise’ I’m happy.

  31. Its just one of those crazy seasons at the top. Feel sorry for Peterborough – didn’t they go down with like 56 pts or something a couple of seasons ago? They would be well clear today. Didn’t Wigan make the play offs last season? I think that’s what’s causing all the anxiety. Every season will be a whole different ball game.

    COB

    1. I think depending on the outcome there could be savings to be made, as although a lot of fans would set off as adults many may well return as children.

  32. Following last nights result and at half time of the exmil challenge 3rd and final leg my original top 2 are 3rd and 4th and my 3/4 are now 1/2:

    Watford 91
    Norwich 91
    B’mouth 90
    Boro 87
    Derby 82
    Ipswich 79
    B’ford 78
    Wolves 78

    The merry – go – round will spin again over the last 3 games and teams will change places once again, who knows where we will all end up. At least we are in the play offs at worst, Brentford/Ipswich/Derby and Wolves do not have that luxury, 2 of them will have battled all season to finish 7th and 8th.

    Come on BORO.

  33. AV write “fine margins”

    If only Antonio had put away that sitter he missed for Forest last night to equalise against Watford then things might have looked a whole lot better for Boro.

    “Ifs and buts”

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