Hot To Trot. Boro Are On Fire In Riverside Opener

THAT is how you start the season at home: with a bang. A great big one. A sonic boom.

Slick Boro bamboozled Bolton and eased to an emphatic victory with a cavalier display of liquid football that lit the red touch paper on a season of promise.

After all the hype that came with the summer spending, the talk of a reshaped fluid front end and the dreaded bookies’ favourites tag – and after so many false dawns in seasons past – it was important that Aitor’s Army delivered.

Wow! They did that in spades.


Boro’s first 45 was a swaggering show of passing and probing, deft touches and bewildering movement that left Bolton bedraggled and dizzy. If was fantastic. It was bewildering. Reports from the other end of the press bench said a shell-shocked BBC Bolton’s bewildered answer to Ali Brownlee described his side being dismantled by “a cross between Real Madrid and Barcelona.”

Bolton started with three at the back, switched to four after the second goal and not long after that they looked like they had six or seven but were still porous and out-classed as Boro carved through at will. It was a box-ticking banquet of Brazilan sunshine soccer that had an expectant Riverside crowd purring.

Which is exactly what you want to launch the new campaign: to come away from a match salivating.  Any Boro fans who witnessed that will be delighted. And encouraged. And knowing if it can be repeated regularly we could be in for a sizzling season.

Kike scores Boro's third goal
         Under pressure poacher Kike scores Boro’s third from a rebound

The game was an absolute pleasure to witness.  Every single fan who was there for what was probably the best 45 minutes since relegation will be buzzing.  And to get that on the opening day is brilliant. That is the magic moment in the season when scripts are written, opinions formed, standards set, horizons surveyed.

There was a delicious bubbling of August optimism outside the ground long before kick-off.  There always is.  The first home game is always special. The sins of the past are forgotten. The failing forgiven. The first day back has a tangible tingle and a blank canvas cocktail of hope, ambition and possibility.

You could sense that in the swirl around the statues. There were zealous drummers banging away (although not the Red Faction ones) and a retina scorching swathe of new away shirts mingling among the red and a sea of smiling faces.

It may have been the third game in an action packed week but it was Beer Voucher No 1 in the kiosks and the first time back on home turf in anger since the chest bursting battle with Brentford.  The last time a lot of people saw this pitch they were on it dancing deliriously and taking selfies in an ecstatic moment of collective pride.

That euphoria fell flat at Wembley and in the bleak introspective aftermath but since then a lot has happened to rebuild the buzz in a summer of spending: Downing, Stuani, Karanka have all signed and the squad has looked bright in the build-up.

The hand-brake may have been applied with the bore-draw opener at Preston but momentum was regained with an upbeat display at Oldham so there was a crackle of anticipation as a bumper crowd filed into the Riverside.

The pre-match roar was intoxicating, the insistent stereo urging was ramped up by an assertive start then there was a sonic boom with the opener after just seven minutes as cult hero in waiting Diego Fabbrini unleashed a molecule-melting black booted thunderbolt, a sizzling strike that flew into the top corner with an artistic perfection.


Fabbrini celebrates with teammates
       Absolutely Fabb-ulous:  Boro celebrate with our livewire locksmith

The Riverside exploded again soon after as livewire locksmith Fabbrini threaded a deft pass into the feet of Kike – subject of much “he doesn’t know what he’s doing” team-sheet pre-emptive chuntering before the game – who drilled in a low shot under the advancing keeper. Vast quantities of humble pie was quickly despatched to concourse kiosks for half-time consumption . Game over.

Then Kike, possibly prompted into action by the sight of Stuani and Nugent on the bench, stoked up the volume even more when he pounced to poke home the third  as Fabbrini’s deflected shot looped up over the keeper and bounced down off the bar. The intensity of the roar sucked the air from your lungs.

The Riverside was rocking in surround sound. There was the usual jubilation in the Red Faction block. You may have expected a slightly frosty reticence given this week’s cold war stand-off over recent expulsions of five members but no: the racket from there was as constant and loud as usual, if lacking the usual percussion.

There was still room to turn the volume up to eleven as fans from every direction poured vitriol on referee James Adcock for putting Albert on the naughty step for taking eons to put his boot back on.

Adomah had lost his footwear in full flight down the flank and had actually delivered a superb cross before going back to sit down and struggle to get back into his size nines. The caused the ref to come over and in a heated exchange order the player off to do his adjustments… then left him stood there on the touchline – and for a short while laid there nonchalantly head propped up on palm – waiting for two, maybe three minutes amid a cacophony of cat-calls, jeering and whistling. It may be the letter of the law but there felt like a punitive and petulant element to it that stoked up the crowd. Great fun.



                   Bootiful: Albert lost his footwear in full-flight down the flank

In the second half Boro couldn’t maintain the tempo but they still passed and probed and attacked with zest and Downing, Kike and George all went close and when Bolton briefly, half-heartedly, rallied the team defended collectively like tigers, with every action at either end played out against a background of cheers.

And every Boro player leaving the field to be subbed was hailed to the echo too.  And the new signings coming on – Stuani and Nugent both looked lively and hungry in their cameos – were well received with even fruitless forward movement cheered.

But the best noise of the day was the roar of sustained, genuine, warm applause and appreciation on the whistle.  It was a sincere show of gratitude and support from encouraged and excited fans revelling in a high-tempo, passionate team display.

It would be brilliant if that full-time feeling was the sound-track to the season.



In a swaggering show against Bolton on loan new boy Diego Fabbrini  looked every inch that mythical beast the “number 10.”

Fabbrini has all the vital ingredients to make the  the team tick and supporters purr. The mercurial midfielder weaved about all along the front three, probing into gaps, dropping deep and buzzing in and around the Bolton box in a masterclass of incisive and entertaining movement in the final third.

He showed some deft footwork, a cavalier instinct to run at and beat a man and the spatial awareness to spot the runs of players off the ball and the ability to pick them out.

And he has an eye for goal. His sizzling opener was a long range laser guided missile that screamed home.  It was a beautiful strike that deservedly won the viewers voted Sky goal of the day gong.  And he also teed up Kike for the third when another snap shot took a deflection and looped up then bounced down off the bar.  He is not scared of shooting.

And the eye-catching Italian – who was a regular Under 21 international and also has one senior cap – also claimed an assist for Kike’s first goal, threading a sublime well spotted pass through the defence and straight into the Spanish striker’s feet.

                Good in the air:  our instant hero celebrates his goal.

It was exactly what Boro were crying out for all last season, a livewire locksmith to unpick well drilled defences, a catalyst to make things happen in the final third.

No wonder Fabbrini had fans chanting his name within minutes. He plays with a zest, with a dynamism. He makes direct runs but also tracks back and shows a feisty flash, puts in a tackle, snaps at heels, chasing loose balls and lost causes.  He is a box-ticking trickster with all the important attributes of a fans’ favourite. And  now fans have actually seen what he brings to the mix they have embraced him with gusto.

Fans may have shrugged their shoulders dismissively when the Italian arrived.  He had been a fringe figure at Watford and loaned out to Millwall and Birmingham last term without setting the world alight.

And he made his low-key entry after big ticket purchase Stewart Downing had arrived in a fanfare and while La Liga star Cristhian Stuani was unravelling his red tape. And while the on-going brinkmanship over Jordan Rhodes raised the bar in the transfer market.  A loanee was all a bit *meh*

Downing arrived amid much talk of the prodigal playmaker being given a role in the hole. He was pencilled in as the number 10.  But after seeing him buzzing at Barnsley on his first outing, then excelling in high-tempo action at Oldham and then bamboozling Bolton he seems the stronger candidate for that position right now.

Not that it is either/or. Fabbrini linked really well with Downing,  the dynamic duo switching smoothly between left and central channels and inter-changing passes crisply and effectively deep in enemy territory.

The pair have adding creativity and fluidity to what had been at times a stodgy attack.

That gives Aitor Karanka options in the campaign to come.  And that’s Fabb

121 thoughts on “Hot To Trot. Boro Are On Fire In Riverside Opener

  1. A great team display. A great result. A great advertisement for Boro.

    I rather think we haven’t got started yet either, and more players to come? Full marks to the ‘team’ and the vision for what we should be, long may it continue. Very, very happy about this performance. Got the score right too.



  2. Fabbrini is interesting and very welcome, an immediate impact and seemingly last season’s missing catalyst.

    I doubt many of us were bowled over when he arrived and his CV is patchy at best, 130 odd games only and 10 goals before Boro from seven clubs.

    It would suggest many coaches see a potential and ability in him they have been unable to unlock and he hangs around for a year or so at a club and then moves on. His one international cap suggests the same, expectations not met.

    He has arguably far exceeded already what we might expect of a loan player from Watford.

    So AK has either unearthed, and is correctly nurtuing, an absolute gem or maybe based on the player’s history, we shoudn’t get too carried away. Fingers crossed.

  3. Diego Fabbrini has set his own bar high now, only managed to see the highlights but I am in total envy for all who were there
    What a home start to the season.

    I was concerned about playing Derby so soon but given there start not now

    1. Ron

      I have see a few debuts in my time watching Boro. The great ones that I remember are: Souness, Johnson (Craig) Ravenelli, Emerson and of course The little fella.

      I have to say that yesterday the debut of Maradonna (thank you Albert) was up there with the greats. I hope Diego can keep this up with his Fabrinni bubble to pop up the attack!

      I also remember the debut of Alan Moore singled out as the next George Best and poor Alan never really got the heights so it’s too early to call after just two games.

      I’m just pleased I was there to see it and hope we can sign him permanently because if certain players are worth £10mill he certainly is!!


  4. Ron –

    I would be wary of Derby, they had a huge possession advantage (68%) against Charlton with 27 shots to 10 and 14 corners to 4.

    I will get more on them tomorrow.

  5. I wonder if Fabbrini is available to buy permanently. His first few games have been Fuchs-like in their impact. Brilliant.

    1. I remember a certain rabble rousing journalist going overboard on Willo Flood. Not that I’m comparing the two players. Tarmo Kink also hit the ground running. Time will tell how good Fabbrini is and whether or not he can keep up the good work.

      **AV writes: LOL. Yes, I loved Willo, I didn’t think he was a great player but I just loved the way he chased every ball like a terrier in the park.

  6. Just a few thoughts on the bench, I was surprised we had three defenders on it and the absence of Wildschutt.

    Keeper plus Fry or Stephens and Husband, Forshaw and Wildschutt, Stuani and Nugent seems more balanced and gives more options.

    Just an observation, post match chat and not a big issue.

  7. Who was the chap we sold to Bournemouth a few weeks ago? He used to play at nr 10 position before Downing abd Fabbrini.

    Great first half. But let’s not get carried away. A draw at Derby would be fab. Up the Boro!

  8. Fantastic performance and result yesterday.

    If you look back at both the Bolton and Oldham games last season where we struggled to win both the transformation was amazing.

    Friend and Downing played some great stuff down the left,credit to everyone especially Fabbrini and Adomah. There will be a few squad players wondering how they are going to get into the team now.

    Until injuries and suspensions take there toll I can’t see the matchday squad and first eleven deviating too much apart from Gibson slotting back in when fit.

    Looking forward to Derby on Tuesday,let’s hope we can take advantage of their indifferent start to the season.

    1. Jekyll and Hyde compared with the Preston game.

      Fabbrini was superb and his goal was stunning in its power and placement. If his shooting ability turns out to be consistently strong and accurate, then he can replace Tommo’s goals. But obviously it’s his assists which must now make him one of the first names in AK’s mind when looking at the team sheet. Maybe the quality we have around him is enabling him to blossom in a way he couldn’t at Millwall and Birmingham last year. It was good management to bring him off early when he tired, with the game won and with the run of fixtures to come.

      Adam Clayton was imperious, and Emilio Nsue looked very capable, although Bolton did not present the sternest test of his defensive abilities. I was pleased that after some of the negative comment before he signed, David Nugent got a very good reception from the crowd. In his brief cameo he looked sharp and purposeful, linked well and never lost possession. Was Dimi playing? I only realised later that I don’t remember him doing anything in the game. He could have been joining Albert in catching up on some sleep, I suppose.

      The intensity and sharpness dipped in the second half, although there were still some lovely passages of play at times. We could have boosted our goal difference dramatically, but there will be other games and a steady accumulation will be fine.

      After that show, Kike will get the plaudits and must of course continue as the first choice starter up front. Well, no, not in my mind. (Boo! You people on this blog are always moaning, always looking to find fault!) I watched him during the pre-match shooting practice, and the quality of his shooting was really worrying, though obviously he hit the target later when it really mattered! During the game, it seemed to me that he was quite often a weak link that led to moves breaking down (and yes, of course other players made mistakes at times, and strikers are usually in possession while outnumbered which doesn’t help).

      We got round the back so many times, yet often there was little for the wide man to hit in the box because of ineffective movement. On one such occasion second half, Kike got the run on his marker and could have attacked the near post, but then he inexplicably checked his run and tried to go round the back of his man instead. This resulted in Albert being so confused that he actually let the ball run harmlessly out of play from a great position. Contrast this with the chance at the end when both Stuani and Nugent ran into killer positions and were available for Stewy to hit, with only the awkward bounce preventing Nugent from opening his account. That move is a taste of the future (along with Fabbrini’s trickery). Maybe I’m being unfair, but I’m not at all sure that Kike should be first choice.

      The ref was much better than last week’s, but I don’t remember a ref insisting that a player must go off the field to pull on a boot, and then delaying his return to play as a punishment. Still, Albert will have enjoyed the cup of tea, manicure and catch-up on last night’s TV he had while waiting. On the subject of refs, I see our old friend Coote the Clown was on form again at Burnley. Let’s hope Shaun Dyche didn’t ‘push’ him after the game.

  9. Three goals, three points and yes, I’m loving the clean sheet.

    Ian Gill has posted my thoughts on what AK post match described as ‘intensity and the right attitude’.

    Is anyone mildly concerned at AK’s other comments, those regarding his last minute micro-managing of the team immediately prior to kick off: ‘I prepared for the game expecting Bolton to play 4-4-2 with a diamond in the middle of the pitch and they changed everything. So then I had to change everything before the kick-off.’

    I had quite enough of that malarky under Mogga.

    Does anyone, i.e. AV, know how much was changed and from what to what?

    Yes it shows excellent qualities in a leader; a facility to think under pressure and be adaptable to change in circumstance. And of course he can justify it by pointing to the convincing win. But it could easily have confused his players at exactly the wrong time, deflated the intensity and all gone horribly horribly wrong.

    It’s interesting AK put his plan B into operation before the game when I can’t recall him ever putting one into practice during a game. I’m willing to be stood corrected.

    All quotes courtesy the EG.

  10. Peoples Movies

    I suspect he didn’t change everything rather the focus of attack, what to exploit. More of a tweak to plan A rather than a plan B.

    1. Sean Dyche, not Shaun, of course. I forgot to say how great it was being at the Riverside yesterday, especially with the prospect of another terrific season. I know I’m in the minority, but I also got a buzz from seeing us back in all red. Powerful and coherent, with not a swoosh, swirl, diagonal, yoke or band in sight. (And praise be that Flamingoland didn’t offer us £1m to play in pink!)

      I sometimes think that this blog is a bit too Borocentric and that we should try to do more to celebrate the achievements of other local teams. I noticed some news about Blunderland:

      The online controversy about mass walkouts continues among supporters. A forum moderator commented:

      “The walkouts are dividing fans and whole families have split over this. It’s very emotive and not surprising that there are strong and passionate views on both sides of the argument.

      “You have the hardline group who argue that the walkout should start after the first away goal, on the reasonable basis that the game is lost beyond all hope at that moment. But the other group are equally committed, arguing that fans should wait until the second away goal before leaving, because at only 1-0 there is always the possibility of a freak weather event or horrendous refereeing mistake leading to an equaliser.

      “Then there was the lunatic fringe who advocated waiting until the third, fourth or even fifth goal before walking, but they were unmasked as Boro and Toon infiltrators wanting to prolong the suffering. I just don’t understand how sick people can be to get their kicks out of that kind of human torment.”

      Meanwhile, positive news on takings at the club shop. The Club Sales Manager praised fans for their free-spending on merchandise.

      “The club-branded blindfolds have been selling out as fast as we can re-stock the shelves, with the ‘total blackout’ range doing particularly well.

      “The ‘blissful silence’ ear defenders are also popular. To be fair to the fans, I think they were coping fairly well with the chanting and goal celebrations of the away fans, it was the constant stream of hysterical laughter at our defensive lapses that really got to people.

      “The thumbscrews have completely sold out and our manufacturer is promising a new production run in time for Christmas. Fans are delighted with the way that the excruciating pain of the instrument of torture helps to distract them from the far worse agony of what is happening on the pitch.

      We are now moving into an exciting new sales area by commissioning high-strength pet tranquillisers. This followed comments from distraught fans about their cats, dogs, goldfish and so on going into shock after catching a glimpse of the team’s highlights on Match of the Day. Apparently gerbils can be particularly badly affected. We would of course stress the club’s health and safety advice that animals and children should if possible be kept out of the building altogether when this kind of horrific video material is being accessed.”

  11. Ian Gill

    You may well be correct.
    It would be interesting to know the changes and who they affected. It’s the tactical geek in me.

  12. people movies

    No, not a tactical geek, it is why you come on here to discuss the football, the nuances, the tactical tweaks without fear of Doyles. We discuss without confrontation.

    The problem is the Neanderthals probably think we are Doyles, we go to matches to watch, we don’t spit bile like underage dragons.

  13. Nice article on BamBam in today’s Observer. I know he’s an ‘ex’ now but nice to see he enjoyed last year, in this people-focused article. Good lad, hope he does well.

  14. Calm down ladies and gents, its only two games. Brilliant result yes, against a poor team. But you can only beat what’s in front of you. Its important you take points from teams who you consider rivals for promotion so Derby on Tues will be a marker. They I’m sure will be up for this one, especially looking for their first win.

    I watched Brighton v Forest last week, both teams were poor in very drab game. Today Wolves v Hull was excellent. These two will be hard to beat, good technically and moved the ball quickly. Wolves look strong up front, they will knock it over the top to Afobe and Dicko. Hull might have the best back four /five as a unit although the first three mins they looked a little confused with the intensity of Wolves pressing and could have been down two. saying all that, we are the big fish so its important we get off to a good start and breed that confidence.

  15. Excellent first half performance and nice to be able to relax and enjoy the games with a three goal cushion. Second half a bit flat but maybe thinking about Tuesday, although I am sure AK would not be happy with that.

    Fabbrini was superb, although given lots of space by the poor CH´s. it will be interesting to see if he can achieve a level of consistency required to hold on to the number 10 slot. Also interesting how everybody including AV got the Downing nailed on for number 10 wrong.

    Derby will be a good test next. Just hope that Clayton, who I have to admit has not been my favorite player, can produce the same performance, he was my MOTM.

  16. I was watching Neil Grainger about the videos he has made and I bumped in to this, standard ‘hitler’ video but I laughed out load a few times

  17. Hey Av. I joined twitter and tried to follow the untypicalboro as per the suggestion of your blog on the upper right, but I got blocked for some reason. Are you not taking new followers?

    **AV writes: You probably looked like a robot. I get a dozen a day of those. I’ll release you from the holding pen.

  18. selwynoz

    I will be having a chat with my colleague later and post some thoughts. I do know I am leaving an open goal for someone.

  19. Spoken to my Rams fan who is now optimistic again, Saturday’s match was as one sided as the stats suggest. The Rams played very well.

    Will Hughes is a loss because he was the hub their game revolved around but a huge bonus is the fact Thorne is fit and back. Plays the role just in front of the back four.

    They will go 433’ish with Martin up front – in my view a better line leader than Bent. He will be supported by Russell and Ince.

    The defence should be better once Shackell settles back in fully. It is their weakest area.

    They will want to pass the ball and should be vulnerable down the flanks as they can get narrow.

    It will be a tough match, I would settle for a point now but three would be better

  20. RR:

    Good to see the Boro spring into action so soon after we suggested they go for Antonio. That really would be the final piece in the jigsaw, allowing us to play like Bournemouth, and partly making up for the failure to sign Ince (11 goals in 19 games) which cost us promotion in the last transfer window. It would be a promotion clincher for me.

    And a warm welcome to Fabbrini, albeit a year after we pinpointed a creative No 10 as our most important priority.

    Saturday’s positive front-foot display on Saturday was exactly what most of us on here have long been calling for. Let’s hope that attitude carries over to tomorrow’s challenging fixture, and that we do not revert to blanket defending and only half-hearted and largely ineffectual counter-attacking.

    I’d go for 4-2-3-1 with Downing, Fabbrini, and Albert supporting Stuani up front, as a statement of intent. I know we’ll start with Kike, but, as last season, I suspect he will eventually be seen as our No 3 striker.

  21. Len

    There is a crucial fact you missed out on Ince. Derby went from promotion favourites to missing the play offs entirely in that same period.

    Remember Vic’s comments about the dressing room in that period. Not all Ince, Bent and Schteve.

  22. Len

    Antonio would be the icing on the cake. I really rate Muzzy but Antonio I think is the best in this division. Fine margins and all that, Antonio for me would add another 5%.

    I hope tomorrow we take it to the Rams rather than sit back. I think their confidence is mixed and a dynamic start could destroy their self belief.

  23. RR:

    I agree. Most people seem to rate Kalas, but Antonio destroyed him at Forest every bit as comprehensively as Wilson did at Bournemouth, Not only out-skilled him but physically intimidated and overpowered him too. On that day Antonio pretty well beat the Boro on his own. The prospect of Downing, Albert, Fabbrini and Antonio playing and switching positions behind Stuami and/or Nugent is mouth- watering. Though to be honest it would still look pretty good to me if we missed out on Antonio and AK could get his head around playing Muzzy.

    Carayol came on well at Brighton,and got himself back to something approaching match fitness. Hughton finally used him as a free-ranging playmaker, where his pace on the counter-attack posed a real threat.

    After the comparative success he enjoyed at Brighton, AK’s decision not to play him in the final dead-rubber game against Brighton was as mystifying to me as the Dimi debacle at Fulham. To select Carayol as sub, but not even give him a run-out made no sense at all, given the difficulties we were having in attacking down the left and the different attacking options he could have offered us in the play-offs. And boy, in that final did we need them.

    Similarly, the decision to let Muzzy go out on loan again without even giving him an opportunity to win back his place in the current squad seems very questionable to me,particularly in the light of Reach’s current lack of confidence. It sends out the clear message that Muzzy’s exciting attacking talents are less than fully appreciated. I think that is a great pity.

    1. Antonio is a beast. The best right winger in the league and good enough for the Premier League, should we get there. He would be an addition in keeping with what we have brought in this summer.

      I agree entirely with your thoughts on Carayol. Assuming Muzzy is fully recovered, it is Reach who I would favour to go out on loan. He needs to rediscover his confidence.

  24. Maybe AK has seen some real improvement in Wildschut and prefers him as a counter-attacking option.He has pace to burn and would be an interesting option in away games against strong sides.

    If Derby are playing a genuine 4-3-3 then defensive cover in front of the full backs will become important and we might even see Reach again. However, having said that, the further away from our goal we can play this game, the more our midfield strength will come into play.

  25. If we are to achieve promotion this year, it will not be with the likes of Carayol playing a regular role.

    I really don’t see why there is a continued swell of affection towards a player who has done very little indeed in his three years at the Riverside.

    Look at his career stats and he has done very little indeed anywhere and all at a lower league level, eight different clubs now.

    We can cite injury etc but the reality is that any successful player cannot, by definition, be permanently crocked as seems the case with Muzzy.

    He has, or had, a turn of speed yes but in his 50 games for us has contributed very little end result. And that’s what matters.

    His loan spell at Brighton likewise promised something but didn’t deliver.

    He will not deliver at Premier League level nor in the upper reaches of the Championship.

    That doesn’t make him a bad person or trouble maker or similar and I wish him well. This team has evolved considerably since he arrived and he doesn’t fit simply because he isn’t good enough.

    Graeme Souness in this week’s Sunday Times said that if he played two consecutive indifferent games at Liverpool then he knew the coaching team would be looking at him harshly. A rule all successful clubs need to live by and one Carayol has consistently failed to live up to over three years, not two matches.

    1. Richard

      I read your post and thought…..”that’s a bit harsh!” And then pondered is he right?

      Whilst I don’t particularly like singling out players for criticism looking at the stats including injury it doesn’t make for a consistent career with the Boro.

      I agree that the Boro have moved on, not just as a team but also as a club. We need players who can grind it out game after game in the attrition which is the championship.

      AK knows the only a loan deal wil help Carayol In his career as a professional footballer and possibly sees something in him to persevere which is why he gave him an extended contract.

      I wish Muzzy well and perhaps we should pay a chunk of his wages and loan him to Mogga at Coventry who could help the lad to turn around his fortunes.

      Intriguing post though UTB


      1. Thanks Bob,

        Muzzy hasn’t done anything wrong but simply hasn’t lived up to our hopes and it doesn’t seem that he will now.

        Mogga seemed to like to him so Coventry makes sense if that is a possibility.

        I do know what you mean about singling players out but as Souness pointed out, it’s not about sentiment.

        Tomlin and Vossen arguably achieved much more than Carayol so I think his path is pretty clear. The best of luck to all three though.

  26. Ian :

    What you describe as a “crucial fact” is part of a whole set of self-serving suggestions, innuendos and smears that are so transparently ludicrous that I haven’t even thought it necessary to rebut them.

    When an old codger like me, who would not be out of place in a SpecSaver advert, made the modest proposal last January that taking a creative, goalscoring talent like Tom Ince (career average of 1 goal every 3 games i.e.15 goals a season) on loan might address one of our core weaknesses and be rather more effective in getting us over the promotion line than spending a couple of million on yet another midfielder,who wasn’t even getting a game for relegation-bound Wigan, I had not realised that I would be touching such a sensitive nerve.

    For, as AV has recently revealed, Forshaw was the name and the player that was finally generated by our all-singing, bells and whistles, computer-generated, digitally monitored, video-analysed,internationally-covered scouting system, presided over by Gary Gill and his team of highly qualified young boffins. Forshaw is of particular significance in attempting to establish the value of this whole operation, since there has been some scepticism in these parts from folk who believe that other suggested targets like Jordan Rhodes,Stewart Downing, and the lad from Ipswich who was the Championship’s top scorer last season might have been more cheaply generated from the saloon bar of any local pub.

    AV, no doubt reflecting the prevailing sentiment within the club, was somewhat sniffy and disparaging about Ince, describing him as being touted around, and possibly having an adverse effect on a harmonious dressing -room.

    In the event Ince went to Derby, scored 11 goals in 19 games, assisted Bent in scoring his 12, scored more league goals in less than half a season than Kike, Vossen or Tomlin did over the whole term, and was such a success that he was voted Derby’s Young Player of the Season by their supporters. He became Derby’s top and most expensive target for the new season. Steve Bruce was described as being “incandescent'” with anger that Hull had let him go, and he was also the target for Steve McClaren, at Newcastle,the manager who had first-hand experience of precisely how disruptive he had not been at Derby. In short the three managers with the most recent first-hand experience of Ince all wanted him .

    I have nothing at all against Forshaw. I think he will serve us well. But he was a peripheral figure in our run-in, whereas it’s pretty clear to me that Ince with his creativity and his goals would have got us over the line with points to spare. And is anybody seriously suggesting that had that happened the Boro dressing room would not have been euphoric and a far cry from the dispiriting experience of the final whistle at Wembley.

    The fact is that the Boro made a pretty catastrophic and expensive mistake. Nor have they learned from it. They showed no interest in Ince when he became available during the close season, presumably because to have done so would have been to admit their error.

    Instead, through AV, whom I take to be a reliable guide and conduit for sentiments within the club, insinuations and rumours about Ince’s disruptive influence circulate without a shred of evidence and in the face of the player’s popularity at Derby and amongst those managers who know him best.

    But the most vacuous argument of all is Ian’s “crucial fact” that Derby went from promotion favourites to also-rans when Ince was playing for them. But this fact only becomes “crucial” if you make the unwarranted, and in this case quite erroneous, assumption that Ince was the cause of Derby’s decline. It’s the classical statistical error of confusing correlation with causation.

    I am surprised that Ian should make this mistake since he speaks regularly with Derby supporters, any one of whom could tell him that, as fast as Ince and Bent were scoring goals at one end, catastrophic defensive errors were cancelling them out at the other. I myself saw a number of games where Ince almost single-handedly kept Derby in games which the defence seemed hell-bent on throwing away.

    Look at Derby’s scores at the end of last season: 3-3, 4-4, 2-2, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3, 2-2.

    Steve McClaren said, in some despair, “When you score 3 or 4 goals away from home, you expect to win. The way we are defending anyone could beat us.”

    In the games that I saw, to hold Ince as being somehow responsible for Derby’s defensive lapses is a lunatic idea. As silly as saying that because Cloughie played for the Boro when we were in the Second Division his 40 goals a season were responsible for keeping us there.

    Having said all that I hope young Tom has a stinker tomorrow night.

    1. Len

      The dynamic changed at Derby, they became like a Mogga team, a mirror image of ManU at one time, if you concede two we will concede three. They changed the way they played.

      It was not all Ince’s fault, it never was. The disharmony in the changing room was common knowledge amongst fans in the know these parts. The information I was privy to confirmed the rumours.

      Vic was correct in his comments.

      1. Rumour I heard was that the Derby lads were in Puerto Banus in Spain a week before the final game of last season (that they fluffed, Bent missed pen end of the first half etc etc..) as a team build. They were told to in bed by Xpm – they were getting hammered in the bars well beyond nap time and well beyond “just a couple of beers”.

        Shame that. Smiley face wink wink RALF or whatever it is the cool kids say.

  27. I agree with much of that. There is no evidence of disruptive behaviour but the tired old argument still seems to get some airplay (though to be fair, not a lot…it’s very much yesterday’s story). There’s also little to demonstrate cause and effect between Ince’s arrival and Derby’s drop in form, and a rather more convincing argument to be made for MacLaren’s interest in the Newcastle job being a strong causal factor.

    Whether or not Boro made a catastrophic error in not buying Ince last January, we’ll simply never know. Of course a factor which neither Len nor Ian has taken into account is that the player himself would have had a say in who he joined. Even if Boro had been willing to buy, it’s entirely possible young Ince would have chosen Derby as the better bet anyway.
    What I don’t agree with is the negative characterisation of the Boro’s recruitment team. I find it interesting how often posters on this forum characterise Boro as amateurish in the transfer market given the relatively successful team-building that has taken place over the last couple of years.

    Sorry to be picky Len, but when you say:

    “Boro didn’t go after Ince in the summer”…that seems to be true, but when you add…
    “presumably because to have done so would have been to admit their error”…that’s a pretty bold assumption to make with no more evidence than AV or Ian may have about Ince’s supposed disruptive behaviour. Maybe they just thought they had better options.

    1. Kookaboro

      As I have commented it wasnt just about Ince, there is always a danger of bringing in players during January, Schteve’s shenanigans cant have helped either.

      In the same way you can’t just assume he would have come here and scored those goals and got us promoted

  28. Len, you might be right. But we don’t know if Ince was available for us.

    And I fully see why Boro bought Downing – we knew the player wanted to come over here. Even the PL teams wanted him, too. Not so sure about Ince – he was on loan in the PL but didn’t sign for a PL team. Must be something we fans don’t know or see.

    Well, let’s go and enjoy tonight’s match. At least Aitor have tried to address the problems we had last season. I meant most of attacking players in MF were replaced with (better) players.

    Up the Boro!

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