Canaries Crushed As Boro Seize The Summit

STEEL. Determination. Focus. Work-rate. Belief. Bottle.  Spirit. Industry. Organisation. Bravery. Muscle. A little bit of cynicism and strategic time-wasting.  Boro showed real character as they stood firm in a hostile and sometimes hysterical atmosphere to weather a second half storm and and seized the summit . It was brilliant.

There has been a bitter backlash from sour-graped Norwich fans  but make no mistake, Boro thoroughly deserved their famous and potential decisive victory over one the Championship’s form sides. They have badly dented a rival and have thrown themselves right back into the battle for an automatic promotion spot and have piled the pressure on Bournemouth and Watford. And it was brilliant.

The  headlines will be dominated by the masterclass in collective defensive and rightly so because bodies were put on the line as  Boro dived in to block, tackle, charge down, close quickly and  crowd out the Norwich in a pulsating, strength sapping second half in which they spent long spells under incessant pressure.  The pivotal moment of the game may well be Ben Gibson throwing himself into a challenge that just did enough to deflect a goal-bound shot over the bar in the frantic closing stages. It was brilliant.


                           Yeeeeeesssssssss. The defence celebrate on the whistle 

I was having palpitations. We were seriously into defibrilator territory.  Norwich were attacking in ever more insistent waves, put all their attackers on and threw everything forward – including their keeper – in a  final assault. Fans were squealing and feeling sick, nerves were frazzled and hearts put through the wringer. Yet, in truth, for all the fears projected onto the pitch, it never felt like Norwich would break through the red wall. Boro had dug tactical trenches and the Canaries never had the fire-power or nous to break through. Dimi barely had a save to make. Yes it was hectic stuff but largely harmless.

So that will be the story: battling Boro digging in against an all out  Norwich attack played out against a hostile atmosphere, penalty calls for imaginary infringement, normally gentile City supporters baying for blood and jeering at battered red shirts for going down injured and somehow holding on against the odds with Ayala and Gibson magnificent.

But don’t let that distract you from the powerful punch that floored a shocked Norwich as Boro came storming out of the blocks in an unstoppable early onslaught. In a breath-taking opening spell Boro ripped into static Norwich with every single attack looking dangerous. They pressed, harried and hustled Norwich into a state of error-strewn shock then, having taken the game by the throat and started to punch forward with Patrick Bamford running riot down the inside left channel onto balls behind a sluggish rearguard.

In the opening 10 minutes Boro had three good efforts, brought two good saves and a header flew over and they  had Norwich pinned down in their own box with seven corners before they finally – inevitably – broke through. Yes, it was own goal but that error was forced by the intensity of the attack (and Albert was claiming it assertively after the game although he was laughing). Norwich were reeling at that point. And in the spell that followed Boro could easily have had more. They could have been out of sight.

The punch-drunk Canaries only  got a foot into the game because of an injury to Bamford. He went down twice needing treatment and although he carried on he wasn’t moving freely and he had lost the zip and cutting edge that was carving City open. After that Boro’s fluidity up front drained away and it became a more static and sporadic attack.

Arguably Karanka should have made a switch at the break and put Kike up front to hol dit up (or pushed Vossen up front and maybe introduce some speed down the flanks where the Canaries looked suspect) but hey, we won,  so he was proved right.

So, a fantastic first 30 minutes up front and a vital goal then an incredible collective effort to stifle City, frustrate  the volatile hone crowd and break up the flow of the game. City fans were howling. They appealed for about five penalties and may have had one (George came sliding in to block a Jerome cross and it hit his hand) and they jeered a string of players who went down injured including Bamford even though he spebt the next hour clearly limping and Vossen who left the pitch dazed and confused (isn’t that every week.)

They were screaming and calling Boro cheats (although it was their player booked for diving) and there was a real hostile edge to the atmosphere, which was loud and partisan throughout. They were just as jittery as Boro going into the game (possibly more so as Boro has already battered them once and they were haunted by that) and the first 20 minutes and the goal punctured their self disbelief and  sparked “typical Norwich’ fears but fair play,  they never turned on their own team.

It was a great occasion if not a great game. And it was MASSIVE result. It catapulted Boro back to the top and back into contention. There’s still a long way to go and there will be more twists and turns (we could yet meet this lot again in the play-offs, who knows?). But it felt like a significant step forward. After the game it was all jubilant high-fives and bear-hugs and Aitor was buzzing and the fans stayed in the ground for 20 minutes singing.

Anyway, I’ll stop now. I’m drunk. I’ve been out EIOing around Norwich.  It is rammed with Boro fans partying.  More later.



NERVOUS. Tense.  Gripped by a heart-pumping, pulse racing, stomach churning sense of anticipation. Worried. Apprehensive. Excited. Very excited.  Fearful.  On edge. Agitated. Fretful. Disturbed.  Jumpy. Overwrought.  Keyed up. Worked up. Wound up.  Pumped up. Hyped up. Going up? Worried sick. Stressed.  Blessed. Frightened. Heightened. Jittery. Taut.  Fraught. Optimistic. Pessimistic. Fatalistic. Up. Down. In . Out. Shake it all about.

Exciting isn’t it? It’s what we all wanted back in August.  No, not to finish the season on heavy sedative medication and packing a defibrilator as part of the matchday essentials – being deep in the promotion battle with three high-stakes games to go.  This electrifying run-in beats the purgatory of  mid-table floundering from February onwards. And yes, we’d all like to be 12 points clear in a Charltonesque procession but we’re not and there is nothing to be gained in nit-picking about a disallowed goal here or a selection there.

We need to keep our nerve now.  We need to be united. Focused. Supportive. Determined. And optimistic. Boro are still very much in this: two points off the top with three left  including one of our direct rivals.  Norwich is a pivotal fixture that Boro need to win to wrest control of their own destiny.  Victory would put us briefly top, clip the Canaries wings  and pile the pressure on Bournemouth and Watford to keep winning in the pressure cooker,  Defeat wouldn’t  completely kill off automatic hopes off but it would leave Boro needing snookers and some freak third party results  to find the space to squeeze through.

But whatever the result, the season is not over.  The battle for the top two is going to the wire. Going into this game the top four have 11 games to play between them (Boro and Norwich meet ): so there are 36 points to be won & lost. That’s a lot of wriggle room in a season of frantic flux. There could be more twists & turns than a sack-full of pythons yet.

In a crazy division full of coupon-busting results it would be a brave man  who said the all the teams above us would definitely win ALL their games in the run in. They are all under pressure too. Points will be dropped.  There will be stumbles. But it would be a delusional fool who said they would definitely all drop points. Form, desire,  weakness of opponents and the teasing proximity of the prize suggest otherwise. But who can say?

Boro could raise their game and put a couple of six-pointer away day defeats behind and win at Carrow Road but still lose out if the others win their games. Equally, we could lose at Norwich  and the others might contrive bottle it and wobble again and the agony could be drawn out another week on the rack. I can’t call it. Can you?

Usual drill: predict the score and how the game will pan out here and then we’ll all gather again later after the showdown, battered and bruised but hopefully smiling, and compare notes and sing, drink and show each other pictures of loved ones.  I’ll get my impressions up as soon as possible but who knows when that will be. Hopefully I’ll be delayed by joyous EIOing around Norwich town centre long into the night.



178 thoughts on “Canaries Crushed As Boro Seize The Summit

  1. Well we started with our strongest possible team and the first 20 minutes were a joy. The next 25 were the hardest part of the game to watch. I was very pleased and relieved to be ahead at half time, especially after that header that should have been buried in the back of our net.

    I expected a Norwich onslaught on the restart but due to the diligent, valiant display, it never really occurred. Yes Norwich had possession but due to our committed and organised team, we held them at bay. We were professional from the front to the back.

    There was a discussion in the pub about what to about the visibly hobbled Bamford. Should we take him off and get him fit for Fulham or leave our most potent attacker on the field and let Norwich worry about him. I would have taken him off sooner, maybe for Reach to give a faster out for our defence, but hey we won.

    Sheff Wed proved today Bournemouth are human.

    If players are too injured to play against Fulham then fair enough but I hope to see an unchained side.

    I can’t wait for Saturday.

  2. Croydon Boro – Peoples Movies if I must –

    A good weekend, lets see what pressure does.

    At half time I was blowing virtual whistles and cancelling the rest of the season.

    Let’s assume we all win our remaining two games. We would finish third and the two clubs above us would both have taken four points from us. You cant argue with that, they would have deserved to finish above us.

    The rules are points, goal difference, goals scored. We can’t argue with that.

    BUT, the win against Norwich has changed the situation. What we have to do is go out and win, then win again, Do that and lets see what the others do.

    Red Army!!

  3. Today’s results have made it a level playing field for the last two games, each team needs to win both their last two games whereas before Bournemouth could win one and draw one and still be above Boro on GD.

    Fulham (Boro’s next match) are safe but Brighton need at least one point from Watford at home and away to Boro while Watford have Shef Wed at home last match. Bournemouth have Bolton at home and Charlton away not easy matches when the pressure is on.

    Still all to play for, I think it will go to the last game all or nothing. Congratulations to Mr & Mrs Jp and son.

    Come on Boro

  4. Time I think, for an apology. Although my very definite forecast, and I quote.’ We will not beat Norwich and further more, we won’t even get a draw’. Was at best mistaken, and at worst foolhardy I am suitably humbled, and very happy.

    I think this team is coming of age, we have known for a while that Ayala and Gibson were dynamite as a pair, now I think they both know it too. No team can achieve anything without having a few gears, this game finally showed us their very own,’ they shall not pass gear’. I think it will be employed more in the future.

    PS. I think the new baby should be called ‘Benjamin Ayala’

  5. Bournemouth drawing at home is a huge plus. Now they have no margin. I always thought that next week’s games were the key and now we have a double chance.

    The team really seem to be up for this fight and have produced three massive wins. I now believe that another two wins will do it for us.

    By the way. this blog really has moved to a new level across this past weekend. High level input from round the world and the wonderful news from jp. Congratulations to you all.

    It’s going to be tough waiting a whole week


    PS AV thanks for the Leicester tweet. That ‘s a lovely story. They deserve to stay up.

  6. Missed today’s football business completely because of work. But I needed to call Jim Platt today and how excited he was on the phone about the Bournemouth draw. And disappointed about the draw, too. We are so close. He seems to be a very, very big Boro fan.

    BTW, please remember he is arranging a Ex-Players meeting at the Thistle Hotel, Boro on Friday before the Brighton match. Just at £40 with a dinner. There is lot of ex-players present like Stuart Boam, John Craggs , John Hickton, David Mills, Billy Ashcroft and a few others are attending. I will go there – please join in!

    On the following date I will take a few of my friends from Finland to the Brighton match. I did never expect that to be such an important match a few months ago when we reserved the flights to the UK. Luckily we have the tickets already. And Navvy before the match, too.

    A superb season. Up the Boro!

  7. Tickets selling fast for the last match, waiting to see if my son is here Friday night by rearranging work schedule.

    Intriguing fixtures next Saturday but before then Millwall play at Blackburn. A draw would be ideal because that would mean a good result for Brighton in the lunchtime kick off against Watford would guarantee safety.

    We could then play an already safe Fulham.

    All ifs and buts. What we do know is that teams dont give up, Wednesday kept going against Bournemouth, Birmingham made it hard for Watford.

    Just have to do our bit

    1. I reckon a win for Millwall mid-week will be best to pile pressure on Brighton for Saturday… they defeat Watford, secure the 3 points, and Millwall slip up, leaving Brighton home and dry by the time they meet us. Then Bournemouth draw on the final day and we, naturally, become Champions. That’ll do.

  8. Who knows what lies ahead but should we go up, I’m sure many of us will miss the Championship. As a poster for football in Britain it has up-ended the Premier League by some distance this season, passion, community, commitmant and fair play dominant among the leading clubs. A wonderful few months that gets ever more beguiling and engaging. We should all enjoy this time whatever the outcomes.

    History meanwhile points to a promotion. As a fan dating back to Jack’s promotion year, just, whenever we have had a tilt at going up we have been successful. There was a play-off failure under Colin Todd but we never truly belonged among the better clubs that year though in 74, 87, 88, 92, 95 and 98 we came through.

    Maybe being in third place is no bad thing and comes with slightly less pressure. We blew it against Leicester in ’88 when promotion was in out hands but four years later won at Wolves on the final day to go up courtesy of a slip up above us.

    This is a seriously good time.

  9. That late Sheff Wed penalty may well be crucial for our hopes as they have to visit Charlton on the last day and they’ve only lost four at the Valley.

    Incidentally, whilst following the live scores yesterday I found the BBC convention for using the first initial and surname of players quite amusing when Tony Watt scored Charlton’s goal – though I’m sure the Leeds fans weren’t happy to see a T.Watt had equalised.

    BTW Congrats to JP and family – it will be tricky narrowing down the list of possible names if we go up.

  10. The puzzle of why Bamford was not replaced more quickly at Norwich became apparent as soon as he was taken off. A hobbling Patrick turned out to be just as pacey as a fresh and fully fit Kike.

    1. Len a bit unfair when Kike came on the only balls forward were 30 yard punts and not always close to him, he still wears the red and white shirt.

      Come on BORO.

  11. Hilarious to see Eddie Howe claiming there is a conspiracy to stop Callum Wilson winning penalties.

    They’ve had fifteen penalties this season, some dubious – especially Arter’s dive for the third against Boro. And opposing teams have had nine red cards.

    Wish refs would have a conspiracy against us then.

    Sounds like Eddie Howes getting nervous now and trying to influence refs to make them think twice in their last two games to me!!

  12. Len –

    I must admit the comment about Kike did sound a bit chicken runnerish.

    How many times has someone come on for the last ten minutes and when he hasn’t cleared two off the line, had three assists and scored a hat trick been subject to ‘I told you he was useless’.

    Next thing we will find out you have been on other blogs under some pseudonym or other.

    Anyway, I am taking full credit for our current run. When I said you cant play Bamford and Tomlin together at half time against Rotherham we came out and scored twice.

    I repeated the comment before the Wolves and Norwich games and we won both.

    I will repeat the same post before the Fulham game.

    I do think Bamford is better with someone like Vossen alongside him to help keep the opposition honest. It does look like Bamford and Tomlin are creating a good understanding. As soon as Tomlin gets the ball and starts running at their defence Paddy is on his bike in to the box, Tomlin then picks the pass and plays it at just the right pace.

    I also think Lee deserves a little bit of credit for his efforts on Friday but they all were excellent.

    1. Ian –

      Like you I have spent some time thinking Tomlin was very good playing his own game, but after this last game, a lot was said by people who have more access than me to the inner workings of the club. All of it was about his tracking back, supporting his fullback, covering for his fullback, and, making runs a la Albert. Sounds as though he is being converted into a full blown wide player.

  13. Exmil and Ian –

    Yes, I agree, a bit unfair. Perhaps others noticed what I failed to: a fresh impulse of energy and more chasing and harrying in the final 13 minutes when our injured player was replaced by a fresh one. That I didn’t is, of course,as much a tribute to Bamford’s heroic efforts as it is a comment on his replacement.

  14. Len –

    There is a difference in the way they play, Bamford tends to play within the 18 yard box lines. Kike is better for the daft chasing down in the corners or keeping defenders honest.

    Playing Bamford with Kike/Vossen gives someone for the donkey work. That isn’t a criticism of Bamford, he clearly is superb at finding space in the box and Tomlin’s passes suit him.

    It looks like you can play them together but Bamford has to be the predator rather than wide right, wide right is Albert’s or Nsue’s jobs.

    Whatever, I have set a reminder for posting pre match.

  15. Personally, I think that Bamford is a top class predator and at his best playing up front off a big man who takes the knocks. With those two in place, Tomlin’s vision and clear understanding with Bamford is able to put him in behind the defence where he is the most dangerous. This structure is better suited to a 4-4-2 rather than a 4-2-3-1 and it seems to me that it is in fact a lot closer to what we have been playing in the recent games.

    It works defensively with Bamford coming a little deeper to help out and then, when we attack, Adomah goes wide with the full back in support and Tomlin drifts to the middle to play behind the front two. This leaves Friend a little bit unsupported on the left as he attacks and explains why we often seem more comfortable coming down the right. However, it creates more people in the middle and makes us look very dangerous. In fact what does also tend to happen is that Bamford runs on to through balls up the left hand side. That happened against Norwich and he just delayed his cross when Vossen was free.

    Kike can play up front but he is not hugely fast and is better when the balls are played directly to him when his strength enables him to hold it up and bring others into play. At Norwich he was just chasing hopeful balls and trying to harass whoever had the ball. A bit of a thankless task.

  16. I will be sorry to see Kalas go, overall he has performed to a high standard and will unfortunately be missed, both defensively and for his attacking play with Albert, a good pair.

    One of the nicest things I saw at the Norwich game was Mr SG blowing out his cheeks after the final whistle had gone. If we get distraught at times, I could not imagine the emotions he must feel having invested so much.

    If there is a little luck going free at the moment, then I hope it lands at his door.

  17. Pedro

    We are lucky in having Steve Gibson and I would be astonished if his emotions were any different to ours because he is a fan not a bean counter.

    I cant see him thinking any other way, he just has the wherewithal to put more in to the club, his passion will be the same as most of us.

    If he posted on here his highs and lows would be just the same. He is not a Mike Ashley, Vincent Tan or Glazer.

  18. Ian –

    I love your image of Kike being employed to “keep defenders honest”.

    Now I imagine him checking that they’re not tampering with the ball or writing election manifestos.

    Aside from Kike’s thankless task, I think the set up in the past two or three games has worked well. Vossen and Bamford have all of the dynamism, but sitting Tomlin further back, tactically, means that his prior habits of dropping deeper do not result in a lack of numbers up front, and also mean he has two targets for through balls. I like it.

  19. Kike is a totally different type of Striker to Bamford so for me it’s unfair to compare them. Paddy was fairly decent playing out wide but no more than decent. When he was switched to the middle it suited his style of play far better plus when having Vossen and Tomlin pulling strings behind him it has helped immensely.

    Kike has never had the luxury of playing with that level of support (and Team confidence). I would guess that with Kike up front instead of Bamford, Vossen (and Tomlin) would probably get a few more goals through Kike holding the ball up and playing them in around the box area.

    It’s all hypothetical of course but I don’t believe Kike is as poor as he is made out to be by some. Torres is a perfect example of a Striker who has succeeded at the highest level but couldn’t buy a goal for Chelsea. Fellaini whilst not a Striker is another example, he was quality at Everton and quickly became a Donkey at Manure now under a new Manager and Team set up he is a comparative revelation for them this Season.

    Likewise Adomah was singled out for his lack of goals and sparkling runs. As the Season progressed and our understanding of AK’s insistence on roles and responsibilities became clearer the change in Albert was better appreciated. The result is that he ran through brick walls against Norwich defensively yet these last few weeks has also seen probably his best and most effective performances of the Season.

    I suspect that Adam Reach is going through the same metamorphosis. Look at our back line, they have all improved immeasurably under AK!

    Perhaps with Bamfords injury we may see the best of the real Kike shortly. I think that if he nicks one he could go on and get a hatful, let’s hope so.

  20. Redcar Red –

    As you say there are other elements that have to be considered, Kike can make passes in the same way that Tomlin can. Bamford isn’t that sort of player.

    I remember back to Matty Bates playing centre midfield in front of McManus. McM got injured and matt moved back to centre half and we brought on a ‘proper’ central midfield player. We suddenly looked more solid and people posted the same comment.

    The fact people forgot was that they hadn’t seen Matt play with himself in front of him. Same when he played full back on occasions, the defence always looked better when he dropped back in to the centre of defence and a full back came on.

    Kike has ploughed the lone furrow or come on when he were desperate, he also seems to specialise in hitting the post!

    Anyway, tickets booked and they seem to be moving fast, I read a report it was up to 23,000 but it looks beyond that on the ticket map.

    1. Ian,

      I wouldn’t have paid good money to see Matt play with himself in front of me or anyone else for that matter.

      **AV writes: You can probably still find that on the internet if you knew where to look.

  21. There are about seven books now, check Teesside Steal on his John Nicholson website. My daughter bought me the first six for Christmas, signed of course, and I’ve added the seventh. A great read, buy them.



  22. Bamford did a great job out wide for us and it’s easy to forget he played most of his award-winning season there. It’s only relatively recently that he has played up front on a regular basis, and I seem to remember the first couple of games when he did, he missed a lot of chances. (Leeds?)

    Kike still needs time to settle before we can decide whether he will cut it. I read an interview with Diego Costa, where he basically said how much harder it is over here compared to Spain – the physicality of it. Costa is obviously in a different league to Kike, but the same principle applies. With another pre-season behind him, Kike could still be a great player for us.

  23. When people like AV and GHW, both of whom know a decent player when they see one, speak and write so positively about Kike, then I treat their views with respect. He certainly hit the ground running, and in his first few games, according to all reports, he looked to be the answer to our goalscoring problems and to have a touch of class on the ball as well.

    The problem I have is that I did not see any of those early games. And whenever I have seen him play this season he has not played particularly well.

    Going to the game at Wigan with GHW was an interesting experience. Our view and analysis of the game was very similar. With one exception. I thought that Kike had a poor game, though he did redeem himself with an excellent assist for Bamford’s goal. GHW’s view was that he was let down by a service that largely consisted of long balls in the air rather than to his feet. That was true, but I was still disappointed by the way in which Kike allowed the centre-half to continually head the ball away without offering even a token challenge.

    The last time I saw him start for us was against Forest. On that occasion you could not fault him for effort or creativity. But his shooting was so erratic, so off-target from a series of presentable chances, that by the end of the game he seemed to have lost all confidence and self-belief.

    I’d noticed too at Brentford, coming on as a sub at the end of the game, when it was important to fight for every ball,that he allowed the centre-back to head the ball away without offering a challenge.

    That is the background to my comment on the Norwich match. A game in which most of the team came off battered, bloodied and bruised. A game in which Bamford, Adomah, Gibson, Vossen, Friend, Leadbitter, Ayala, Clayton, Kalas and Tomlin all left me in awe at their sheer physical courage, determination, and will-to-win.

    I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that in those circumstances (indeed in any circumstances) a sub coming on for the last 13 minutes should run around like a Dervish and put himself about, to make as big an impression as possible. Forshaw certainly did so when he came on, re-energising the whole team effort.

    My only point, and I acknowledge that it might be a bit unfair, and influenced by the partial and fragmented view I have had of Kike this season, was that fresh and fully fit, he did not display noticeably more energy or make any more impact than the injured striker he had replaced.

    That’s all.

  24. Crazy Season

    There’s something amiss with this year’s season of footballing extravaganza. The finale at the top of the Championship League where one point separates the top three teams with only two games remaining is one obvious example.

    However, yesterday l read in a respected broadsheet that a supporter of another team lauded our very own chairman SG for his wisdom, support and passion for the game. Is this a first? Is there a conspiracy to lure away our great leader to foreign fields? Stand back Aitor, your not wanted – they want Steve Gibson no less. Who made the comment? Why a Newcastle United supporter of course!

    Finally, l also read that a certain ‘McClaren’ scored a hat-trick for his team in Australia. Newcastle United fans beware tricky hat-trick Shteve is not adverse to a little moonlighting in the pursuit glory. Still if he goes missing after failing to achieve success with Cashley’s millions next season, you’ll know where to find him – he’ll be in Perth, that’s Perth, Australia.


  25. In the interests of fairness Kike can look a little disinterested at times, but that can go down as a different style of play.

    Kike is of course Spanish and has come from a different style of play. He’s not the archetypal British bish bash bosh centre forward, he’s used to feeding off defenders mistakes, not trying to rough them up in the challenge. I could go on as sub and run around like the proverbial coloured backside winged insect, but it wouldn’t be much good.

    All foreign players need a good season to adapt, I think we have yet to see the best of him.

  26. Can anyone shed any light on this neutral zone at Fulham? It sounds like eating in to the seats separating fans.

    If so, then cant we do the same?

    **AV writes: It is really a hangover from their Premier League games where Ticketmaster were selling the authentic English soccer experience to box-ticking tourists who couldn’t get tickets for Chelsea or Arsenal games. It is rarely used in the Championship as few teams would fill the official away end. It will be interesting to see if they steward it as neutral or accept the reality that it is a de facto Boro section.

  27. Today should see us pass the 30,000 mark in ticket sales for the Brighton game. Hope that we can keep the dream alive for the final day or better still that Bournemouth and Watford blink as the pressure builds on them. I suspect Bournemouth may be the surprise blinkers, they seem to have caught the imagination with a “love in” from the press and telly. In a way I’m glad because Boro (and Watford) seem to be overlooked in comparison and that should help to keep a more realistic perspective in the cub.

    I think Eddie Howe could get himself elected as PM at the moment the way everyone seems to be fawning over him. It could work to our advantage and be their undoing.

    Meanwhile in other news Schteeve is being tipped in tabloid land today to walk out on the Rams to take the reigns at Sid James Park if they do not achieve promotion. My guess is that even if they do he will jump to travel up the A19. It can’t be great for Derby fans as they chase a Play Off spot but as Boro fans we now how heads can be turned and eyes taken off the ball to our cost.

    **AV writes: I don’t think Bournemouth blinking will be a surprise. They have been top seven times now, several times by four or more points, and every time have crumbled, squandered poinst and slipped back. They have form. The late Sheffield Wednesday penalty *could* be the crucial moment of their season.

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