Buzzing For The Great Play-Off Adventure

BARRING some statistical final day freak results not even the most brazen Far East betting syndicate would contemplate, Boro are in the play-offs.

Oh no, we are all going to die! It’s a disaster. It’s a complete failure! We’ve got no chance. The habitual doom and gloomers have written us off already and are tuning up for their symphony of pessimistic predictions of failure before a ball is kicked. The killjoys.

But  we should be buzzing.  We are still in with a shout. And Wembley is in sight.

Yes, automatic promotion has been denied and it is a kick in the teeth after months of teasing, raised expectations and several times having it within our grasp before fingers were prised from a top two spot  by defeats to the duo who are going up.

And, yes,  we can all indulge in our time honoured duty as fans to pick over the bones with forensic zeal and find points dropped here, dodgy decisions there, divine team and tactical selections that proved costly,  determine the scapegoats,  bring all those carefully curated told-you-sos to the surface and start the post-mortem.

But hold on there! Put down the scalpel. The patient isn’t dead yet. The fight is far from over. And let’s hope the players are more up for it than the defeatist faint-hearts.

This is no time for wallowing in self-pity and recriminations.  That’s  what the summer is for. Now is exactly when we ALL need to step up the plate – players and crowd.  There will be a rammed Riverside Stadium against Brighton on Saturday and it is crucially important that the supporters as well as the team do their utmost on the day to catapult the team into the final three game shoot-out with some serious momentum.


                             The Riverside roaring in the full house for Forest

The supporters who have travelled all season have been fantastic and created an incredible atmosphere and that will be needed again in the high-stakes away leg.

And we need to do that at home now as well.  The home crowd have hit some serious ear-bleeding highs this season. We need to distil the essence of that, turn the volume up to 11 and make the opposition wilt in the face of our desire for this.  We need the sold-out Riverside to roar the team on, to emotionally refuel the team ready for the next gruelling games and demonstrate the kind of tangible collective hunger and will to win from every fibre of the community that will power us to Wembley and beyond.

It has been a BRILLIANT season so far full of excitement, endeavour, industry and real, tangible progress, especially at the Riverside where results have been awesome.

There have been some incredible highs and inspirational displays – Liverpool, Derby, Forest, Man City, Norwich away – and, crucially, there has been a growing sense of identity and newly forged unity within the squad and between them and the crowd.

It’s been a compelling, energising, emotionally charged campaign that has cranked up the pressure and pleasure with almost every game that we have had to enjoy and endure in equal measure…. and now there is even more of it!

After Brighton we will be just two games from Wembley. And just three from an historic promotion to the Premier League via a fabled scenic route that we’ve never been on before. We’ve never done the play-offs via the big stage set-piece showdown. Wembley.

What a fantastic epoch-shaping consolation prize we can wrench from the short term dismay of not going up automatically.

And I’m really looking forward to it. Seriously. It can be brilliant.  Yes, we may lose – and if you are of that disposition then there is no persuading you away from the inevitability of that impending doom.

But think about this: We may WIN. At Wembley!  That would be a first for Boro. Winning at the national stadium and cliching promotion via the scenic route, the hardest, the most fraught and maybe the most enjoyable way.  It would be an exhilarating new experience. Nerve shredding, intense and emotionally draining yes… but we are used to that now. Its our default. We can handle pressure.  We can flourish in it.

And we have nothing to fear. In fact all the form suggests we will be the best team in the play-offs: we are leader of the top eight mini-table, we’ve beaten all the four teams behind us, Norwich, Derby and Brentford home and away and we’ve put four past three of them at the Riverside.  And finishing third or fourth gives the advantage of having the second leg – plus any extra time and penalties – at home where we have an awesome record with 11 wins in the last 12 games.  Seriously, THEY will all be terrified at the prospect of playing US.

This is most exciting end to a league campaign for almost 20 years.  Relegation was tense but inevitability took grip very early on. Previous play-off battles lacked conviction or staying  power.  But after years of mid-table purgatory and frustrating fade-outs this season has been entertaining and engaging and exciting. Despite falling short on one front the next few weeks can be the biggest most audacious and most memorable episode yet of the Great Aitor Karanka Promotion adventure.

I’m buzzing for it.


116 thoughts on “Buzzing For The Great Play-Off Adventure

  1. Getting excited now, any news on home many Brighton fans are coming? I had heard they were going to be here in reasonable numbers.

    **AV writes: That would be a first. I’d be surprised if there were more than 5-600.

  2. It was about 400 when we guessed the size of the gate, I wish I could remember where I saw decent numbers mentioned.

    I suppose 600 for the last match at the end of a poor season with such a long trip may be decent numbers. They haven’t taken that many to the likes of Ewood Park, looking at the stats we have a much larger away following.

  3. I’m not sure I can take the excitement that May promises to bring. Genuinely. I’m a quivering, nervous wreck as it is. Breaking off from work every 20mins to check the blog and the Gazette for any Boro-related news, anything that suddenly tells me Bournemouth have been deducted 10 points for fielding an ineligible player, ANY news at all…

    Potentially 4 games left. I’m not sure my nerves will make it.

  4. Why are people so negative? There are many ways Boro can go up automatically:

    Bournemouth AND Watford are discovered to have played ineligible players and therefore have points deducted.

    The same teams are involved in a “bribe the ref” expose for the games against Boro (let’s look again at those penalties….), which the authorities find can only merit massive points reductions – the paper trail being so clear and undeniable that the clubs and the relevant officials are obliged immediately to admit the offences, thus enablng the whole process to be completed without any delay being caused to the Play-Offs. Of course the guilty clubs would miss out on the Play-Offs so the next 2 clubs move into their places.

    Boro find their missing goal touch, create as many chances at they did at home against Leeds, but this time with different results. Without being greedy, only half go in, but Boro still win 14-0, whilst a demoralised Bournemouth (having heard about our half-time 10-0 score) lose 4-0 in their final game, leaving Boro safe and sound in an automatic place.

    Other options are also available, but not necessarily in THIS universe.

    1. That’s the spirit, Dormo.

      You can get Boro 10-0 Brighton at 500/1, I will give you 10,000,000/1 on your double-team-points-deduction, 14-0 Boro win and 0-4 Bournemouth defeat*. Interested?

      *Minimum stake £100. Payment of winnings may not occur. Please bet responsibly.

      1. I might take you up on that bet but, first, I’ll just see whether this chap from Nigeria comes up with the £10,000,000 he promised after he cashed my cheque for £10,000 that he needed to pay off a bank official. Apparently the money should be paid directly into my account very shortly, now that I’ve given him the details…..

  5. Andy R

    With those results that would leave Bournemouth +46 and Boro +45. We need an extra goal for a nineteen goal swing so either we win 15-0 and Bournemouth lose 4-0, (or 14-0 and 5-0). Doesn’t matter because we would still be on the FLS for 1 min 45 seconds at 12.15am

  6. I suspect that Bamford will play but Adomah wont. What is more we will line up with a version of 352 – a sort of 3412

    Ayala, Gibbo, Amorebieta
    Fredericks, Leadbitter, Clayton, Reach
    Kike, Bamford

    Why do I think Bamford will start and Adomah wont? Assuming they are relatively fit, Bamford can coast through a game more easily than Adomah.

    Bamford comes to life around the box and with the work rate of Kike plus the guile of Kike and Tomlin his main runs will be in to space behind their back four. He can chivvy the defenders without running himself ragged.

    Adomah’s role is much more demanding because he has sterner defensive duties.

    That doesn’t mean Bamford is lazy, his style is different, as long as he occupies defenders that is his job.

    Why three at the back? We have no left back.

  7. Grovehillwallah –

    Saw my Dad today he said they were called football tickets. In 1960 he won £60 on one and put it down on a house to get married to my mum. He said the winning teams were Boro and Luton who both scored 5 each

    He was from Grovehill too

  8. Sorry to scratch the wound, but I just looked at the Watford game against Brighton, they were nailed on to be beaten away this weekend. If ever I saw a team at the end of their tether it was them. Of course they will say ‘we didn’t care’ on Saturday night, but in my opinion we missed a great opportunity with our moment of madness.still, as one door slams in your face another one opens.

  9. Jarkko –

    From the information so far it appears that as far as the Navi is concerned we are the left side, the left side, the left side Jarkko army.

    The problem I have is that a six foot three Boro fan when sat down is difficult to spot unless you are wearing a helmet.

    The other problem is if you are the right side, the right side, the right side Jarkko army.

    Even more confusing is the fact that as the Navi will be packed, going back to ancient problems ‘we will see you all outside’!!

    To further muddy the waters we have to drop a higher authority off in York on the way, what time will the Scandinavian enclove set off to the Palace of Pain.

    Clues would be welcome!!

    1. Ian

      Any idea when the Navvy is open on Saturday ?


      Don’t buy sarnies get a parmo in a bun inside the ground then you are a real naturalised smoggy!

      Fat Bob

  10. Vertically challenged Robert

    I haven’t a clue what time the Navvy opens but I suspect it will be like when the Darlo fan who phoned Feethams up to ask when the match started. The answer was ‘when can you get here?’

  11. Let’s put it this way, if we don’t go up, next season could be one of our best ever. Karanka will have had another season of learning about this league and I’m sure we might see some really interesting signings, both permanent and loanies.

    1. gt

      Fully agree, should the worse happen and we are disappointed then next season should be another fun one and one I suspect without some of the tinkering and selection gambles.

  12. Ian Gill and Andy R –

    15-0 and 4-0 as proposed by Ian would indeed address the small 19 goal swing we need, but Bournemouth will have scored more goals overall, so we would need another goal for Charlton or for us to be certain.

    As for 1m 45s on the FLS, I don’t think so, they will be so into the race for the playoffs that they will probably miss the significance of such a brace of scores.

  13. Try and catch Pat Murphy interviewing Nigel Pearson on the BBC Sport website, like watching someone poke a Grizzly Bear with a stick. Lucky for Murphy the cameras were there or he would have been in danger of becoming lunch for Big Nige!

  14. I’m confused! (nothing new I know), do we have a ‘blog’ meeting spot in/outside the Navi on Saturday?

    **AV writes: Jarkko will be there with his Viking contingent. Probably a bit early for me given the KO. Would be avaiable for a swift one afterwards.

  15. GHW:

    Thanks for the Murphy-Pearson tip. Absolutely fabulous.

    See y’all in the Navi (left). Why don’t we just tell and/or ask the barman where we are?

    If AK has brushed up on his probability theory after Fulham he will know that keeping everyone fit and fresh for the play-offs is the top priority. Not worth risking any knocks to the first XI.

    I’m quite looking forward to seeing Bradley Fewster.

    Still seething over the pointlessness of the Brighton game.

    1. Len

      From a half full perspective it would be a lot worse if we depended on the Brighton game and snookers to make the Play Offs.

  16. It will be interesting to see what the team selection is for tomorrow. Will AK risk the likes of Ayala, Adomah, Vossen and Bamford or give Ken a start and the likes of Wildschutt and Ledesma a run out and maybe even Muzzy.

    It would be good and valuable game time for the fringes but if we get beat and drop from third it could penalise us in the timing and location of the ensuing Play Off games. There again AK may take the view that after tomorrow we only have two games to play, Home and Away and the sequence or day is irrelevant let alone the opposition.

    I agree with Nigel above that we should go into tomorrows game with a mean, hungry winning mentality. Now is no time for wimping out, we seen in the first half at Fulham what happens when the Team is mentally fragile. We need to win emphatically but we need to be sensible about key players perhaps worsening niggles when another week could make a huge difference to their fitness and recovery.

    I suspect we will go with three at the back (Omeruo, Amorebeita, Gibson) with Freddy and Reach on the flanks, Forshaw starting with Leadbitter in the middle. Kike up front with Tomlin and perhaps Ledesma or Ensue just behind, 3,4,2,1.

    In goal it will likely be Dimi but “Typical Boro” will see him get clattered and miss the Play Offs. I’m not convinced Ripley is anywhere near ready for this level yet but with Mejias apparently missing, injured or perhaps banished I guess its Dimi or nothing.

    The big crowd should help those playing in red to a victory tomorrow but we already have an excellent home record typically playing in front of 18,000. Will the big crowd inadvertently cause additional pressures?

  17. Only just starting to feel positive again, mainly as a result of reading Bernie Slaven’s piece in the gazette. Over the last week I viewed the Brighton game as a dead rubber, not caring less whether we finished 3rd or 4th. In Bernie’s column, he mentions that this game is for the fans, to see the team start attacking and smashing in goals, getting us in the mood again for the playoffs. I feel a bit better now, the thought of a 4-0 against Brighton making us feel on top of the world again….

  18. Okay Gents Navi (left) it is, I’ll indeed ask the barman where the ‘Vikings’ are as per len’s suggestion!

    1. Just blow one of those curved horn things and the place will be soon full of Vikings !!


      1. I thought this would Finnish up with such Nordic references !

        **AV writes: You need to identify yourselves through some secret word or signal: Norse code.

  19. You do of course realise that calling Finns Vikings may be as insulting as calling us Geordies or Mackems.

    Vikings were Scandinavians but not all Scandiavians were Vikings.

    1. I seem to remember Jarkko telling me that Finns are not Scandinavians. From around the Baltic Sea – yes, but that Scandinavians are only the Danish, Norwegians and Swedes. It’s only us in the UK who use the term loosely and include Finland in there, or Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Naughty, naughty Brits.

      Looks like a swifty or two in the Navigation tomorrow, then. Mrs Dormo has “offered” to drive me to the match and either collect me afterwards, or leave me to make my way home with the friends who normally travel to the match with me. It would be churlish to ignore the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the brewers’ art. Hee hee!

  20. Wish I could be there to support the lads tomorrow and hopefully witness a cracking start to the playoff campaign with a win. The home record this season has been awesome, my old man said its made up for a few of the years of dross and he’s pumped up for the game. Really hope the crowd gets massively up for it and lifts off the roof.

    Play offs will be exciting, I can’t wait after 5 seasons of disappointment time and time again. If you think this game is dead rubber, I’d take this one over any of the final games of the last 5 seasons!

    Hope… Believe… We can do this, it’s just the start. UTB!

  21. Forever

    That makes the insult even worse but it doesnt invalidate the Vikings and Scandinavians analogy.

  22. Forever

    Lets hope the weather isnt Baltic.

    On another matter, I was scrolling the channels and came across a skysports item. They were previewing the NFL draft show, super snore!! But there was Jim White with his yellow tie gradually combusting.

    I must admit I didnt stay up to watch the programme but it was good to see that if they can send us USA dross we can retaliate. sadly no sign of Natalie.

  23. I don’t even know where the Navvy is anymore, but I sure wish I could be there to put some faces to the names and avatars that I see on the blog. It would be good to meet Jarkko too, as I spent a very happy year living in Pori, Finland in 1975 – 1976.
    I’ve figured out I’m older than Ian Gill and probably don’t know him from my time at school in Middlesbrough, but I wonder if I might have gone to SWT at the same time as Dormo?

    Anyway, I hope that tomorrow is just the first of four games that Boro win.

  24. Dormo –

    Looks like I am older than you too!

    I thought I had read in one of your earlier posts that you remembered NUFC winning the cup, so I assumed you were about my vintage.

    SWT 1955-1960.

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