Annual Dragon-Slaying Can Fire Up Season

DRAGON slaying:  our annual foray abroad into Wales is usually productive. Boro have won five out of six – but all by only the single goal and a few of them have been muggings.  For Cardiff it is usually a  ominous fixture. Twice we’ve dented their promotion party and twice we’ve seem off the boss.

Boro need a win to regain lost ground and regain momentum and have generally been good away from home this term apart from at Reading where they were caught cold with a quickfire goal and and then spent the game trying to claw it back.

For me there’s only one goal in it.  And I think Boro will get it. Possibly really late on after a tense  and tetchy game in which the sides cancel each other out. I fancy Stewie Downing to seal lit/steal it with a late bit of quality.

Over to you. Usual drill: let’s have your predictions on the score and how the game will pan out and then we’ll gather later to laugh at each others’ wild optimism/faithless negativity and swap notes on the famous victory/crisis inducing chaos. God knows when I’ll get to write anything. Or get home. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.


128 thoughts on “Annual Dragon-Slaying Can Fire Up Season

  1. AV said:

    “Yes, five leagues games with blanks – but more total goals than last season…”

    I’m afraid that’s not true. Not in the league, anyway. After 12 games last season, we had scored one more than this and were two points better off.

    It is still relatively early days but I think those who feel that last year’s identified flaw – the lack of goals – hasn’t been addressed do have some evidence to back their claim.

    I think everyone agrees that goals were a problem last year, though a closer look reveals that we scored plenty at the Riverside. The club’s diagnosis appears to be that we didn’t have the quality up front. I agree that Nugent, Stuani and Downing are a serious upgrade. They are quality players for the Championship.

    Perhaps the new recruits need more time. Perhaps there has been some misfortune. But it could also be the manager’s approach.

    I don’t know the answer. But if it is purely down to quality then I expect us to score a lot more goals this season.

  2. AV,

    You amuse, you get paid to travel the country in the gazette mobile, get free entrance to games, best seats in the house, probably free hospitality, meet interesting people, and keep us all happy with your upbeat assessment of our beloved team, I wish I could be that happy, btw, is George now a striker

  3. I switched off Boro+ after the match, I am not a lover of post match interviews for good or ill, I certainly don’t want to listen to the phone ins.

    I have just listened to Grant Leadbelters pots match interview on the Gazette website, it should dispel anyone’s thoughts they only play for money.

  4. I think we should liven things up.

    Our next four games are predicted to get us 9 points which are needed to reach the current expected total of 87.

    There is not much scope to improve to 10 points or maybe 12 which would take us back to 90.

    2 points per game average is not feasible with our current form and at the moment all our points have been from the cannon fodder.

    So what are our chances against Wolves, Rotherham, Hull and Charlton?

    Mini league predictions anyone? The next 4 games are must wins..all of them!!! . . or is the season over already?

  5. allan

    The league is not already over but all games are crucial. Wolves play Brentford tonight and a win would put them three points behind us.

    Rotherham and Charlton at home are must win, the games at Wolves and Hull are must not lose.

    I personally think we need a minimum of 8 points but most of all we cant afford to lose any of them.

    To get us up and amongst the challengers for automatic promotion we probably need to beat Wolves or Hull.

    Of course we have the distraction of a trip to ManU. I don’t think the players will be worrying about that at the moment, Wolves will be looming large on the horizon.

    A defeat at Wolves then a poor performance at Old Trafford would be a real blow to morale.

  6. I think the theory that we are too much obsessed with our very good defence was exploded for all time last night.

    Talk of taking a man out of defence to supplement the attack? Well it happened last night, and boy did it ever fail, to remove our captain and ever present from the field as the last rites were being played out on a draw, presumably to add some muscle up front was bizarre.

    If we had removed Fabbrini (a surefire method for losing the ball) and added the extra midfielder we would probably have spent the remaining minutes of the match parked in the opponents half, and they might have called it quits and tried a shutout, or we might have snagged a goal. Take a good look at the league table, the extra point would have made a difference, leaving us to go for something on Saturday. Final point, Ayala plus Gibson is our best central defence pairing and I do mean clean sheets.

    **AV writes: Collectors item: Aitor being criticised for being too attack minded.

    1. AV –

      re: the collectors item. I have always been a big fan of our defence, as a comfort blanket it’s been a pleasure to follow the team since AK took over and showed his hatred of getting beaten. In my opinion all the shouting got to him and the result was a change in the defence at an absolutely critical point in the match, ie the final minutes.

      Any team that sets out to do a shutout, all of them without exception, hurl themselves forward in the last 10 minutes. Simple stuff smash high balls into the box, high so that it will give them time to get near the defenders. Then comes the real match winning tactic, run into the nearest man at speed and see what happens, if four of you do this the ball can bounce anywhere, even into the goal.

      As an aside, we could not get the ball to stick because Fab was losing possession on a regular basis, and for that reason alone he should have come off, plus it would not have hurt to have three great middys on the field to see us home.

  7. Harry

    I thought the substitution was Forshaw for Grant, that’s a midfielder for a midfielder. Many have been hankering after one of the central pairing being replaced by Forshaw.

    I must admit I thought it would be Fabbrini being replaced.

    On a lighter note only three more Leeds managers and it will be Christmas

  8. Well there has lots been said that I agree with and some that I don’t. All a matter of opinion.

    One thing that most agree with is that AK is a stubborn man, he has his plan, he has his way and appears to us lesser mortals not to deviate. 4231 it is.

    Mr Gibson has dug deep, very deep this season and this worry’s me. It seems to me all or nothing. Anything less than (I will be lenient and miss out automatic) promotion will be a failure. He has sanctioned shedloads of money on “forwards” to get us to the promised land.

    There lay’s the problem, Downing and Nugent with not much resale value if we fail. Two South Americans with no Championship experience. I hear, wait till de Peña settles in. We cannot wait that long, we are already 7 points behind Brighton, just in the top six as I write this.

    If we do not get promotion, AK still has 3years contract left, SD & Nugent another year older and not as good. What will SG do then.

    As I have said before, we have had an easy start, we expect promotion, SG expects promotion we should be at the top and not 7 points behind.

  9. We cannot rely on results to always go our way. We need to seize the initiative starting Saturday.

    Nothing less than a win is really acceptable given that Wolves appear to be in a worse slump than us. Hope its not going to be a typical Boro game.

  10. Well I’ve been looking at some of Boro’s stats this season to see if I can determine whether we’re on the slide or just a bit below par. I decided to split our 12 games into three groups of four as a way of breaking down the form. I included the Leeds game in our current dip in form as although we scored three (mainly down to their comical defending) we only managed 6 shots with only 2 on target.

    It looking to me that our early season form is not much different than our current form – it was mainly thanks to easily beating a poor Bolton team who now sit bottom (who I think experimented with three at the back) stopped us having a terrible opening four games.

    The win at Hilsborough broke a long standing hoodoo, but it was more of clinical victory than Boro running rampant. But it probably gave us a lift and the next two home fixtures were probably ideal to build on that – though again the victory over Brentford was also down to scoring three goals from only four on target. Though our victory over Forest was probably our best performance of the season – even though it took a penalty save to clinch it.

    Though after the win on the Trent, we flattered to deceive against a Leeds team who couldn’t defend and had little in the last third to scare us. Reading were strong and well organised and our attack seemed to be blunted and Fulham came to visit with a plan to frustrate our attack too. On another day we would probably have got at least a point from Cardiff but somehow our attack has now started to lack confidence.

    So we know that Karanka’s first priority is to not concede, press from the front and look to score on the break. Perhaps there needs to be a change in emphasis with regard to our attacking play – I get the impression we are relying on a bit of magic from our new higher quality forwards somewhere in the last third rather than moving the ball quicker as an attacking team and getting bodies into the box to improve our odds. We can’t rely on our opponents making mistakes to create chances.

    Whether one of the midfield two need to change their mindset from their noble defensive duties is something to debate – though perhaps it does need Forshaw to play even though Leadbitter and Clayton have done little wrong in order to change the dynamics of the team. Also either pairing Stuani with Nugent up front will give more of a target in the box or somehow getting Downing to pull the strings and have more influence on the game.

    So in conclusion: We have no right to score goals just because we think we have better forwards – the team has to work harder in the opponents half and then hopefully more of the chances will hit the net once again.

    AN AVERAGE START (5/12 pts – 17/52 shots):

    Preston (A) 0-0 (2 on target from 9 shots)
    (Kike, Downing, Reach, Adomah)

    Bolton (H) 3-0 (7 on target from 17 shots)
    (Kike, Fabrini, Downing, Adomah)

    Derby (A) 1-1 (2 on target from 7 shots)
    (Kike, Fabrini, Downing, Adomah)

    Bristol City (H) 0-1 (6 on target from 19)
    (Nugent, Downing, Wildschutt, Stuani)

    THE CLIMB UP THE TABLE (12/12 pts – 25/58 shots):

    Sheff Wed (A) 1-3 (5 on target from 13 shots)
    (Kike, Fabrini, Downing, Reach)

    MK Dons (H) 2-0 (7 on target from 17 shots)
    (Nugent, Fabrini, Downing, Reach)

    Brentford (H) 3-1 (4 on target from 17 shots)
    (Nugent, Fabrini, Downing, Stuani)

    Forest (A) 1-2 (9 on target from 11 shots)
    (Nugent, Stuani, Downing, Adomah)

    THE FORM BEGINS TO DIP (4/12 pts – 14/47 shots):

    Leeds (H) 3-0 (2 on target from 6 shots)
    (Nugent, Stuani, Downing, Adomah)

    Reading (A) 0-2 (1 on target from 6 shot)
    (Kike, Fabrini, Downing, Stuani)

    Fulham (H) 0-0 (6 on target from 18 shots)
    (Nugent, Fabrini, de Pena, Downing)

    Cardiff (A) 0-1 (5 on target from 17 shots)
    (Nugent, Fabrini, Downing, Adomah)

    **AV writes: I always think stat based things are too simplistic. They don’t include how the opposition perform for instance, which personally I think its the biggest faction in what is always a two team equation. What about the ‘shape’ of the game, the possession, the spells with a team pinned down that may not result in ‘chances’ but certainly stretch and wear the opposition down?
    Then there are the intangibles: were teams setting out differently when Boro were top? What about the line-ups (the first few games don’t include Nugent, the last two Stuani)? Good talking points though.

    1. For sure, you can’t represent how a game pans out with just he shots stats but it does seem it’s been harder to create decent goal scoring chances recently. OK, you’ve probably watched every game and must have seen whether there’s been an overall dip in performance levels in the attacking third.

      For instance, is Downing able to make his influence on games and has Adomah looked comfortable playing on the left? Is Fabrini looking like the solution to the number 10 role and do Leadbitter and Clayton get into the box much? Is our passing less incisive or are there just fewer options when moving forward?

      I’m not sure if those run of victories represented a much higher standard of play from Boro or whether the opposition were just average. Were Fulham and Cardiff better teams than Wednesday or Brentford?

      I think also results build on each other in terms of their outcome – a good comeback to draw a game can feel better than conceding a last-minute goal to draw.

      But overall I think the stats show we are creating less chances for whatever reason that may be.

      **AV writes: Stewy was great against Fulham. Albert is solid but not spectaular on the left but that is just a temporary thing I think. Fabbrini has dipped after a good start and will probably be on the bench once Stuani is fit & De Pena up to speed. Grant had one cleared off the line at Cardiff when he was about four yards out. Didn’t create much at Reading or against Fulham but three or four really good chances at Cardiff and a few others besides. Its all been a bit up and down really. Early days.

  11. I think we are fairly predictable in tactics and shape, lets face it nothing gets changed or altered until after 60 minutes and then often only in the last 10 to 15 minutes of a game and that’s only because the 4-2-3-1 plan hadn’t worked or yielded the predicted result.

    An opposition Manager knows exactly how Friend plays and Kalas (and Nsue if he plays instead of Kalas) on the opposite flank. Our CB pairing is disciplined and controlled and difficult to break down regardless of which two from three is permed. Clayts and Leadbitter are the Ken Barlows of the Midfield, you know exactly what their lines are and how they are going to play them. Ken does agony, joy and melodrama with exactly the same pitch, frown and intensity. Not even the Boro fans expect a Diva performance from them, steady, methodical, controlled, disciplined and calculated.

    Stewey is being messed around or being utilised as a gap filler as oppose to filling a creative role so in essence he is the least predictable but by definition it also applies to his team mates and their understanding of one another and their interaction with him or figuring and anticipating where he is. No surprise then that he is becoming the object of scapegoating from some.

    Fabbrini is Fab and Frustrating in equal measure, in his first few games we wondered why Watford wouldn’t want him then when we see the liabilities balanced with his flair we know the answer. He can be the spark to ignite and the cause of losing possession, in fact invariably the cause of losing possession. So harry, chase and break from the middle of the park.

    I suggested a few weeks back that AK is too stubborn and in his determination to be right and command respect would not concede to playing Albert on the right despite the negative effect it appeared to have from the stands (at least from my perspective) and I still stand by that despite the 100 game love in postings on here that followed shortly after. A strength and a weakness in my view. None so blind and all that.

    There have been too many non descript performances from a side that should be comfortable in their own skin, Preston, Bristol, lately Fulham even MK Dons and Leeds despite the wins. Against Bolton we looked like world beaters but then everyone has looked like that against possibly the most dispirited Bolton side in decades as it transpires.

    So we have to work harder, I’m not sure what that means and I’m not sure if working harder is the solution to getting things back on track. I’m sure it was a lost in translation thing rather than an analytical perspective from AK. Keeping to the plan and not deviating regardless is OK to a point, but there also has to be a little bit of something extra, something that the opposition can’t predict and certainly not with single digits left on the countdown clock.

    I suspect there is almost too much attention to conforming to expectations within a very specific set of rules that results in some players having to think too much and as a consequence we are losing that creative spark. Dare I say it but lets have a little more Tracy Barlow than Ken please. Working harder is fine but I find things run a little faster and smoother if you let the handbrake off.

  12. Redcar Red

    I think speed is the key, as you know, my view is that it isn’t the formation that matters so much as the intensity.

    Klopp has gone in to Liverpool and everybody is hanging on to his every word. Play with tempo, press the opposition. If we do that we will play further up the pitch, we will get more players in to the box because we are physically closer for a start!

    Every body knows how everybody else plays, coaches don’t just analyse us, they do the same for all the teams. They set up to stop every team playing, we do the same.

    You have to put the opposition under pressure from the off, don’t let them put their carpet slippers on for half an hour before they have to start thinking about solving problems.

  13. I’ve been commenting on our lack of creativity for a couple of years now, so I’m supportive of the line taken by Pedro, Wiggy’s mate, Paul, Cassandra, Redcar Red, Nikeboro and many, perhaps most,others on this blog.

    AK is, for me, the best defensive coach we have ever had. The way in which the team is organised with everyone well- drilled and conversant with their roles is a huge plus. These qualities alone will almost certainly ensure that we will be there or thereabouts in the final shakeup in May.

    The lack of creativity and attacking prowess was correctly diagnosed in the close season and constructive steps were taken, thanks to Steve Gibson’s generosity,to put this right.

    This has lead to the general expectation that anything less than automatic promotion this time round would amount to failure.

    AV is a wonderful journalist, authoritative on the Boro, and the inspiration for everyone who contributes to this blog. i wouldn’t swap him for anyone. His occasional pieces of ebullient optimism stir my spirits as much as the next person’s. But they can have an unintended downside.

    Take, for example,his pre-season forecasts that we would p–s this league, and that Championship defences would not be able to live with Downing, the answer to all of our creativity prayers. For all of their morale-boosting impact at the time, (a time,of course, when supporters were pondering the purchase of season tickets) the added weight of expectation which they placed upon both the team and the player always had the potential to be counter-productive over the longer term.

    I think the weight of expectation has been a problem, because it underestimates the magnitude of the task facing AK this season.

    The first point to make is that scoring goals is much more difficult than preventing them. Playing attacking inventive football that will stir the crowds is a task of a different magnitude to stopping the other team from scoring. It is one of the mysteries of football punditry that this is scarcely ever acknowledged. The manager who gets a 0-0 draw will be praised for his tactical acumen in getting a clean sheet. The manager who gets a 3-3 draw will be hauled over the coals for his defensive naivety.

    The second point is that creativity cannot be switched on like a light. The problem that AK has is that the ethos and values he has insisted upon: to defend from the front, to place the team before the individual, to root out those who don’t or won’t conform, to focus on not making mistakes, to be risk averse, to adopt a ruthless and somewhat dictatorial management style- all of these things, and the hierarchical structure in which they are embodied, are great for producing a team that is well organised and will do what the coach demands. But they are inimical to creativity. You cannot simply go out and buy creativity. It has to be fostered. It’s got to be in the air that the players breathe. And it is invariably messy, a bit disorganised, encouraging of risk, and tolerant of mistakes.

    Look at the players that AK couldn’t tolerate or whom he has deemed surplus to requirements; Butterfield, Tomlin, Carayol, Reach, Wildschut, with Adomah half way out at one stage, and Nsue, bought as a fast dangerous winger (and who might still be one if he were fed the balls inside the full-back that he would thrive on) but converted to a none too convincing back. I am not claiming that these are all potentially great players who could have answered our prayers. But none of them appeared to get the kind of treatment that would have nurtured the creative and attacking talents that they appeared to possess.

    So I do not think there is any easy solutions to the Boro’s current dilemmas. We are not as good as the seven straight wins suggested. But we are not as bad as our last three results might indicate. AK’s response to the Cardiff result was to say that it was his fault and that he must work harder. The analysis here indicates that this may exacerbate his problems. Perhaps he needs to lighten up a bit, be more tolerant of difference and individuality, encourage risk-taking, and put more emphasis on attacking energy with his defensive midfielders getting forward whenever they can, and the whole team pressing higher up the pitch.

    The narrative for the rest of the season will be an interesting and nail biting one. It will essentially be about whether Karanka will be able to modify and synthesise some of his most deeply-rooted convictions with an approach which is much more open, less censorious, and expressive of the talents that he has at his disposal.

    My own view is that our chances of automatic promotion will be largely dependant on the extent to which Karanka is able to do this.

    1. Len –

      just a smile to lighten the mood. Dictatorial? I think Mr. Klop will give AK lessons and a beating in laying down the law. Can’t visualise any of the scouse players saying ‘ sorry kloppo but I don’t agree’

  14. It’s quite simple really, the team are not playing well. Which players are getting rave reviews? Where are the commanding displays that blow the opposition away?

    We have all the ingredients to make a promotion winning side but the recipes are not quite winning the points.

    Are we haute cuisine or greasy spoon?

    The Great Boro Bake Off, do we need the Gordon Ramsay approach or the Delia Smith?

    Is it going to be Promotion Pie or Mid Table Mash? Or even Dogs Breakfast?

  15. Good posts again from RR, Ian and Len.

    Despite his succcess, Big Jack struggled to get the attacking side of the game sussed. Another defender like AK who quickly sorted out our defensive frailties and made us hard to beat but didn’t quite know what to do up front. Remember Phil Boersma?

    The folks who sit around me get frustrated, like me, about the laboured build up which gives the opposition time to regroup. As Ian says, we need to press higher up the field and speed it up a tad to give our strikeforce better and more opportunities to do what they should be doing.

    We can’t afford to slip any further if we are seriously expecting promotion. We are getting into that “must win” scenario that became a recurring theme last season.

  16. Very well put Len,

    The ability to adapt is key to successful management in any sphere. Failure to do so did for Brucie and Mowbray, neither of whom could/would sacrifice their footballing principles for a more robust style, and Robbo who wouldn’t sacrifice his mates for a more competent coaching regime. Only time will tell whether Aitor can make the leap.

    I hope he can, reading my recent posts you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise but its simply not the case. At a very basic level if he gets it right the value of my season ticket increases but there is clearly much to admire in his professionalism and winners mentality. But professionalism and attacking flair are not mutually exclusive.

  17. Listened to Pat Nevin talking about attacking players, the one thing they must do is work, they cant just throw their hands up when they lose the ball.

    Barcelona work incredibly hard and track back, they do it from close to the oppositions box, so do Bayern.

    Bournemouth didn’t just charge forward willy nilly, nor did Watford. Bournemouth played with tempo and overwhelmed the opposition with their speed, movement and passing. That is why they got a bit of a bad name for opposition red cards, it wasn’t all down to MFI attackers, it was the way they played. They were not passive nor did they ignore defending, the master class they gave at the Riverside proved that.

    We have to be quicker and further up the pitch. Playing slowly isn’t defensive it just plain slow. That is why we end up with 55+ possession and few shots, the opposition has time to settle back in to their comfy chairs. You have to play around the oppositions box and get there quickly

    I am coming round to the heresy that one of Clayton or Leadbetter needs to be rested to allow Forshaw a run. Pre season at York, Clayton and Maloney looked good. I know it was only York but Maloney did his fair share of digging but when he had he ball he was looking to make forward passes.

    You can break up play, make tackles and buzz around but you can also be progressive as well, push the team up the pitch. We should be pressing and probing in their half with the quality we have. We need to win balls ten yards outside the box, theirs not ours.

    That is my view for what is worth.

  18. I’m not sure three poor results in a row warrants an autopsy, just as seven wins on the spin wasn’t a reason to celebrate promotion.

  19. We would have more success if we stopped playing so many square balls and played it forward quicker. A defender or midfielder will tippy tappy it about for three or four passes when one pass to the winger will do.

    When do we ever break out of defence at speed,more often than enough the player with the ball will have to stop and check back because there’s nobody racing upfield with him. More pace and bodies in the box will have a successful outcome.

    I’m not sure about De Pena,to me he looks too light weight and isn’t familiar with English football and not much better than an academy player. It’s a risk hoping he’s going to cement a place on the left and foolish to have let all our left sided players go out on loan.

    As someone posted earlier we aren’t better off than at this stage last season and I don’t care what people think with the investment on players in the summer we should have a lot more points on the board especially looking at the teams where we have dropped points against

    There is a lot of expectation for this season,look at how many more fans are at the Riverside,crowd is up by nearly 6,000 on last season,if results aren’t more consistent then they will drop again.

    Karanka sets the team up not to get beat instead of to win and we’ve been caught out with poor results just as we have been fortunate with some of the wins

    1. Never Give Up –

      I’m not sure about your not being sure about de Pena! It’s hardly fair. The lad’s only just arrived in a foreign land, unused to the weather, the style of football, the language and the Parmos. He’s only had a few minutes’ game time. Give him a chance.

      I trust AK. Why would he engage in a game of hot pursuit half way around the globe to bring de Pena here if he doesn’t see something really brilliant? Why the frantic calls to Juninho?

      And let’s not forget. Uruguayan football is hardly for the faint-hearted. Stuani has already proved that – ‘the Battering Ram.’ I’m sure de Pena will get stuck in once he settles.

  20. I just love this blog.

    AV throws down the seeds and instantly they grow.

    They posts from the likes of RR, Werder, Len, Ian and many others are so eloquent, far better than I could imagine delivering. They make this blog what it is. Brilliant!!!!!

  21. Clive –

    The Championship is a hard league to get out of as we all know.

    I think AK would have been wiser to invest in a player with Championship experience rather than put his trust in a player who needs to get used to the English game and barely older than our Academy players who he doesn’t think are ready for the first team yet.

    I know it’s unfair to judge De Pena but on his games against Wolves in the cup, Reading and Fulham I don’t see anything that’s “amazing” to warrant him playing and sending out Carayol,Reach and Wildshult on loan

  22. By the way, lads and lasses, all this airy-fairy talk about the way we set up, tactics, the lack of pace, Stewy in the wrong position, Forshaw to start and so on is all theoretical nonsense.

    There is one cause – and one cause only – of our recent slump. The Manager of the Month curse!!

  23. I see AK has blamed the Cardiff defeat on his frustrated mood. That perhaps is an indication he is learning that levels of intensity need to be managed and used appropriately.

    “After Fulham I was really frustrated. I wanted to motivate them for Tuesday’s game by showing them my frustration and that I was down, they took it the other way and went to the game in the way that I had been, so it was my mistake.”

    A Leaders role is to inspire and motivate, there is a very fine balance between geeing up an individual or group of individuals and putting them on edge and becoming overly anxious.

    A few of us have been saying there appears to be a lack of creativity, pace, speed call it what you will. Maybe the pressure to retain possession rather than risk a speculative long ball played out wide invites the tippy tappy sideways stuff stifling pace and speed.

    Amorebeita however seems quite happy to play a 30 yard ball out of defence. Is it that there is less of a language barrier and he understands the nuances and therefore doesn’t take AK literally or is it a combination of language with age bringing wisdom and confidence?

  24. There appears to be a groundhog type glitch with three posts (two from GHW and one from Werdermouth) from mid blog continuously appearing at the bottom.

  25. Redcar Red

    Your comments about AK’s comments possibly reflect the way he wants the team to play. Most of his career seems to have been spent where you defend for your life and attack with gusto, that is the history of Real Madrid.

    Defenders are defenders and they can help attack but first of all they must defend. For the life of me I cant see any manager setting his team up to concede!

    Attackers attack but must help defend, even Wenger wont say to Walcott just let the defenders run free, don’t track back.

    Having heard the sad news about Cruyff prompts the memory of the team he played in. Total football. Attack when you have the ball, defend when you don’t.

    1. Yes, the ‘good news’ was that I seem to have briefly managed a way of posting that escapes the confines of the space-time continuum. The ‘bad news’ is that I wish I’d managed to say something a bit more profound.

      Anyway, I’m sure AV knows what to do to sort it all out as I think he went on that WordPress Super-user course a while back – though if he’s forgotten I’m sure GHW and I would be willing to let him delete those last three posts to avoid confusion.

      Now that’s done, time to start work on having that constant 100 post…

  26. As a diversion we maybe should be celebrating the U19’s progress in the Champions League, my son (who is far more diligent than me), tells me they were 5-3 down after the first leg after being 5-1 down at one stage. In the second leg it was 0-0 going into the last 15 minutes and we ran out 3-0 winners, winning 6-5 overall.

    Was a relative of Massimo’s playing up front!!?

    Conceeding five over the two legs suggests the young guns aren’t taking too much notice of the bosses defensive philosophy!!

  27. Nigel

    Some of us show due diligence, I think I posted shortly after the final whistle, I did try and see if there was any commentary on MFC but there wasn’t. There was a live blog on the gazette website.

    The problem is that Werder doing his Mrs G impersonation seems to be confusing the posts.

  28. Aitor Karanka: ‘If you worry about every game and every result you would end up at the psychiatrists’

    Or on this blog

    1. Aitor Karanka: ‘If you worry about every game and every result you would end up at the psychiatrists’

      Or on this blog
      How very true!

      1. Nah. This is the place where emotions are purged. The cathartic high road to good mental health. The kind of talking cure that has to be more beneficial than having everything you say endorsed by your goalkeeping coach.

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