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. Werder, now I can see an Ikea advertisement on the blog. I blame you and you only. I don’t need any pysslingar!

    Anyway, I agree that we need a win to get going. I will be in the car driving home while the match is on. I hope to listen to Ali while driving (Boro+ in my mobile and streamed to the car stereo). My prediction is a 2-2 draw. But secretly I hope for the three points.

    Up the Boro!

  2. Well, my blind optimism of the weekend was dashed on the rocks of Fulham’s negative tactics and time wasting (which if the referee had booked the first or first few offenders would have put a stop to it), so I’m hoping, rather than expecting a good performance tonight.
    Really hope he plays Adomah on the right (an absolute no-brainier to me) and Dowing left, with Stuani and Nugent up front.
    Maybe change Gibson at the back, as he looked out of sorts on Saturday. He was part of a defense that kept a clean sheet but looked decidedly unsteady.
    So 0-0, but have a feeling that the great support that makes the 600+ mile trip on a Tuesday night may be coming back with no points!!

  3. Well I was right about the draw against Fulham but I said 1 1 tonight’s game I’ll go for 0 0.

    Hope AK plays Nsue at RB with Albert on the right. Think we also need Forshaw instead of Fabbrini with license to go forward.

    Stuani still not fit but we need to get players into the box to support attacks.

    Fat Bob

  4. As I posted at the end of the last blog, AK may try Albert on the left, never been tried before and it could be a roaring success. Coughs discreetly!!!!

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nugent up front, Albert left, Forshaw central and Stewie on the right.

    Not what I would select but just trying to second guess Aitor.

    Lose tonight and we may well be out of the top six by Thursday. So solid will be the name of the game.

    With a tough game at Wolves coming up we need something from South Wales, my Derby supporting mate thought Wolves looked better than the result at Derby. He also reckons the league is tougher this season, not that the top teams are better but lower down they are stronger and given a chance will do a job on you.

    I predicted a draw Saturday so am going same again though my heart says three points.

  5. I think this has 1-1 written all over it, Boro concede a goal nearly every away game and Cardiff almost always score. Neither side look like they are in gung ho dominator mode, so sadly 1-1 it is.

  6. It doesn’t really matter which team is picked. Lose, and the manager will get slaughtered, win and everyone will be happy.

    Ultimately if the squad is good enough they will achieve promotion. Nothing said on here will change AK’s thoughts or plans.

    But that’s not going to stop us from commenting, because we care about the club and its fortunes. Plus, where else can you have a good old moan in a civilised manner?

  7. GHW

    Do we have to be civilised?

    Picked up Mrs G from a talk at Debry uni where she works and one of her colleagues liaises with local businesses. She spotted me and beamed as she gave me a pressie, ‘I know you like football, here are two tickets for Derby v QPR’. I smiled back and said thank you very much.

    The dentist said if I had gritted my teeth any harder he would have made a fortune capping them!

    A kind thought, it is hard going to a game wanting both to lose but I will go with good grace along with the usual suspects and have some rather good real ale.

  8. I think we need to be at our counter attacking best tonight, that means Albert needs to be at his best on the right, also agree that Nsue as RB.

    One more goal than them.

    ps Is Bellamy still playing for them ?

  9. a couple of comments on Wiggy’s mate’s post on the last thread:

    “What I have seen is a team unable to express themselves due, in my opinion, to managerial constraint and that will not be changing anytime soon.”

    Only 2 teams have scored more than us this season. god help the division if we are allowed to express ourselves!!!

    “My concern remains that the pursuit of dogma prevents the manager using them to best advantage.”
    “Fine margins indeed, but it seems our intention to keep them fine rather than creating a bit of breathing space.”

    Are you actually saying that AK is putting some sort of ideological desire to have tight matches ahead of winning? That he wants the games to be on a knife-edge? This is almost as good as RR saying that the manager was deliberately not making subs in case it made him look bad.

    ” If Church’s effort against the post for MK before Stewie’s goal and McCormack’s late sitter gone in, the table would have a very different look about it. ”

    If, if, if.

    If Leadbitter had scored that chance v Preston
    If Kike had scored his glorious headed chance v Derby / if Adomah had stayed switched on
    If we’d scored any of the umpteeen chances v Bristol City
    If Downing’s shot on Saturday had dipped under the bar

    I could go on. But we’d be miles clear. But no, go ahead and focus on the negative possibilities.

    Fulham had one intention on Saturday, to get a point. It’s incredibly difficult to break teams like that down, regardless of the quality of your players or resources available – ask Mourinho.

    Despite that, we dominated and still had enough chances to win. We either didn’t take them or our final ball was poor. So, we move on. On another day we win 3-0 or 4-0. I don’t see any lack of ambition at all. In a way I’m delighted that we have become such scary opposition to the other teams.

    Tough run of games this week, 4-5 from the 3 games would be about par. So if we could nick a win tonight, we’d be well on our way.

    1. Phil,

      I usually agree with you but the point for me is that with the players we have, we should be doing much better in the last third. Winning teams find a way to overcome unambitious opposition.

      I made a similar point in January as we sat in the top two pointing out that if, as we were then, we were the fourth or fifth top scorers then that is where we would be likely to finish up. That might have been excusable last year but not this. With the resources available nothing less than a top two finish is acceptable in my view.

      Stats can be taken any way you want, but whatever territorial advantage we may have had on Saturday, or how ever many speculative long distance shots we had, I defy anyone who was there to tell me when their keeper made a proper save. Even the best teams have days like that of course but, purely in my opinion its happening one game in three for us and if you want to be in the top two, that ain’t going to do it.

      I don’t imagine that Aitor does tell the team to keep it to one-nil really, but equally, it is clear from his selection of players and their adherence to their roles where his priorities are. Look at Clayton’s scoring record prior to coming here. Clearly there is a player capable of much more, playing to orders.

      My question to you is, do you think that this team are living up to their potential and if not what do you think is holding them back? Apologies in advance for any typos, I’m doing this on a smartphone and would need hands like a pixie.

      1. I don’t think we are yet, and I don’t think we will really until we have everyone available – Stuani, Nugent and Adomah have all been missing for various reasons. I think De Pena-Downing-Stuani-Nugent is probably the front 4 he wants and how many times have they played together? Zero. De Pena is going to take some time to settle as well.

        Clayton is playing a different role though isn’t he? We could play him further forward and have 1 holding midfielder but then we’d lose our solidity. It’s not like he hasn’t had chances though – I remember one of his first games at Huddersfield (of all places), when he had a golden chance to score. He should have had at least 2 this season (including a pen).

        I agree we have to finish top two. But we are top two. And we probably all agree we haven’t hit top gear yet. But it’s a matter of time for me.

  10. BoroPhil

    I think Vic is already drawing up battle lines in case we lose in his What crisis? article.

    If, as I mentioned above, we are out of the top six come Thursday the knives will be getting honed. Lose against Wolves and it will be a bloodbath.

    The one benefit would watching Vic painting it as a success. Not much of a benefit, scant solace.

    Whatever happens it is only football

  11. Hmmm, 2-1 to us tonight, assuming we don’t concede first..

    Ian and OFB, for us none professional footie commentators such as AV and RR, neutral games offer a greater chance to analyse game without the anguish or pain of watching the Boro. Other emotions are available I’m lead to understand.

    I stood on the Kop when John Barnes was thin and watched Liverpool v Blackburn and Spurs. Though not concurrently. I’ve also watched Man City v Spurs in the league cup.
    At Newcastle v Fenerbahce, Ginola’s volley was well worth the entrance fee I didn’t pay. Watching Stoichkov at his demanding peak in Bulgaria v Romania at Sid James was an education.

    None compare to watching our lot of course, but I enjoyed the banter, learned some new songs, compared the facilities and tasted the pies. It’s always worth it.

    1. Shhhh! I know but don’t tell anybody. It is intriguing listening to fans views as a neutral.

      I have seen many a game at Elland Road when the dirties were at their dirtiest.,

      Saw Man City v Liverpool and Hereford v Chelsea, saw Halifax play Bournemouth. Seen a few at Pride Park

      Coldest was Hartlepool v Workington on a Good Friday, the sleet left Jarkko about ten foot off the ground, it had fallen a foot by the time it crossed Sweden, Norway and the North Sea to arrive at the Vic. 88 minutes, 0-0 and we left to drive back in a warm car. Hartlepool scored the winner.

    2. PM

      Know what you mean about being a neutral. Spent two years as a local supporting Seville and Real Betis both teams were doing well when I watched them. Also spent two years I’m Argentina in Buenos Aires and supported Boca juniors. It was quite easy to become an aficionado when you go with the locals. I seem to remember the constant thing was gong home full of wine and beer, some things never change.

      As an aside my sons worked with some Americans on Tesside for last two years and they were enthusiastic Boro supporters who never missed a game and they really enjoyed their soccer ( not football)

      It truly is an international game understood by all.

      Just hope the Boro are back in Europe playing one day as the trips I made and the matches I saw will forever live in my memory.


  12. Here I’m going to really upset a few. Since karanka came we’ve been very methodical, hard to beat and won more games than lost and nobody can be upset about that – but its always seemed tight. We haven’t rolled over teams many times and have been boring in games.

    Set in your ways could be good or bad, depending if the full potential of the players is utilized. So sometimes a reality check can help, a change ,a re-evaluation that turns out for the better, gets you out of the clouds. So what could happen if we really got a good hiding of someone, do we need it?.

    It as happened in the past for the better,I wonder how Karanka would react.

    **AV writes: So you think a good hiding would get us out of the rut that has taken us to joint second?

    1. I think we mustn’t confuse a good spanking on the pitch with conceding goals.

      We got a few spankings last season, the 3-0 at Bournemouth was a spanking however you dress it up. Not quite as bad was the 2-0 at Watford but we still got the run around, same at Ipswich, same against Norwich in the final

      They were wake up calls, the effect was we didn’t get an automatic spot, I certainly didn’t feel better for it.

      You can count me out on that one.

  13. Well, here we go. I’m going for 1 – 1, the score draw. I’m not depressed about Saturday’s draw, that will always happen and we’ll lose another at home too. However I was depressed about Brighton’s late goal on Saturday.

    Safe journey to the fans doing that long, long drive.



  14. Not sure what team Bilbao Baggins will select to face the Dragon in his quest for my precious three points – whether the elfin Fabrini will wear the ring of invisibility again is uncertain but he needs to get it right to avoid being attacked by the Orc-ward squad.

    Here’s hoping Boro lord it over the Bluebirds – so I’ll go for a trilogy of goals for us.

  15. Massive foam-handed prediction…

    3-1 to the Boro


    Nsue Gibson Ayala Friend

    Clayton Legbiter

    Adomah Stuani Downing (all in this weeks AK lucky dip positions)


    Downing to find his best form yet and stick 2 in!

    Come on Boro!!!

  16. Boro blanket blanks. Nil nil.

    The random Karnaka team selwctor throws up:

    Woodgate Friend Forshaw Stephens
    Leads Clayton
    Downing Nugent Kike
    De Pena

  17. Downing, Diego and Albert in the three. Suspect Albert on the left Stewie on the right.

    Key thing is not being too rigid, away from home can break and be fluid.

  18. 1-1

    I’d be satisfied with a hard-earned point, and hope we get at least one to soften the long journey home for AV and all of the fans.

  19. Rockcliffe lunchtime menu.

    Tomato Soup
    Fruit juice

    Main courses
    Mince with mash
    Fish Pie

    Rice Pudding
    Ice Cream

    Nothing that requires teeth

  20. PS

    Sorry for the spelling of a dish made of vegetables. The game will take some spinning to get positives, good luck to AV.

  21. For the avoidance of doubt, I should make clear that “Wiggy’s mate” is not a nom de plume for Neil Maddison. Although anyone listening to him tonight would be forgiven for concluding that it is. As Len has wisely observed (Hello Len!) It is foolish to hold too firm opinions on a game you haven’t actually seen but that sounded to me like yet another case of Plan A, if that doesn’t work, try plan A and in extremis, Plan A. Maddo’s comments about players not deviating from the script says it all for me. Discipline is one thing, tactical paralysis is another.

  22. Maybe just maybe the concerns about where goals are going to come from with one striker and three low scoring attacking midfielders are well founded.

    Still think we have the best squad on paper in the league but we are massively underperforming at present and AK needs to change the way we play or the we’ll find ourselves fighting for a playoff place when we should be achieving so much more.

    Looking at the bench I didn’t see many game changers on it. Talking to a Wigan fan raving about wildschutt and kind of think we missed a trick there. Another goal for him tonight!! Surely he’d offer us more off the bench than some of the others.

    Where I am starting to question AK is on his judgement of forward players. He just seems unable to get the best out of them, whether that’s formation or tactics something is not right.


    1. ‘Judgement on forward players questionable!’

      Well blow me down that does ring a bell – maybe from the mid point of last season!

      Still don’t worry there’s still lots of games to go, every team can beat every other in this division, don’t for one moment listen to anyone with a ‘critical’ voice pretending to be a friend, coz the professionals know best and ‘critical friends’ should shut their gobs, like!

      Onto the next game please, plenty left (rummages around in his draw in desk marked ‘Open only in event of managerial emergencies’, finds scroll of parchment marked ‘Succession Plan Mark 1). What do you think Jarkko, in Aitor we trust? How was thetrip back AV- plenty to ponder? Foam hands safely tucked away in the boot of the car?

    1. With the greatest respect Phil, that sounds like you are you are divorcing the tactics from the result? How does that work then? The tactics and just as importantly the attitude account for most of the result. Luck plays a part too but that, apparently, evens itself out over the season, so tactics and attitude it is then. Put it this way, what do you think Bournemouth would have done to the leek guzzlers? Their goal would have been a late consolation greeted by a smattering of boos from the remaing thoudand or so home fans. That’s a promotion team, and we are miles away but shouldn’t be.

      Still, at least Aitor had the decency not to fall back on “I do not recognise this team”, well son, you bought them, coach them, micromanage and pick them so you bloody well should do!.

      **AV writes: At this stage last season Bournemouth were 11th. They drew 1-1 at Cardiff away last year in MArch when they were 2nd,

      1. I’m not – what I’m saying is we can talk about tactics until we are blue in the face but it isn’t good enough to go three games without a goal. But these are the same tactics that got us 7 wins in a row. Were we complaining then?

        And – let’s look at those three games – one freak early goal, one freak late goal and one good performance in the middle where we could easily have won.

        It isn’t a time to panic – let’s see what happens on Saturday. Win and it has been a decent week.

        (oh and there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest luck does even itself out over a season)

  23. Favourites? Pah! More like Derby last season, after the Lord Mayor’s Show. Three games, two defeats and no goals says it all really. And not only that, nary a good performance, save Bolton at home.

    All this ‘talent’ at our disposal and the season going south already. Another term in the Chumps for us I reckon, unless K (he’s forfeited his ‘Special’ soubriquet for now) can find a way to make a goal scoring team out of these individuals.

    Despondent, and so early… Wolves away? (visible shudder) – we didn’t slay the dragon this evening, but I fear the Wolves will blow our house of straw down…and by the way, we’re not second any more…

  24. Don’t get me wrong and I don’t think I’m out in left field here but Karanka has set himself up in a very good position regarding his job. He’s good because he never looks within, its always the players, he’s surrounded himself with a lot of personnel that if a change was made those players may not respond to let say a home counties man so it would be foolish to do it. I only say this because we are where we are despite of our scrappy performances,teams that go up win games they should and win and usually easily, they also win the ones coming from behind, we don’t.

    On another note and I’ll keep at it talk tonight on the radio,our build up is too slow. Fabbrini giving up possession, in our formation the number ten is very important, he is the outlet or QB, and that’s why Downing should be in that position. H is quick and sees the field immediately,and can get the ball through,

  25. I certainly agree that Downing has to move into the no.10 slot. That’s why we signed him – AK has moved him around because he is versatile but we aren’t getting the best out of him. Fabbrini started off amazingly and that didn’t help strangely. But who plays on the left? Is De Pena ready? was it a bit rash getting rid of Reach, who despite cries to the contrary did very well for a lot of last season.

  26. Downing at 10 to dictate proceedings please if not then give Forshaw a go. I think we will be out of the top six tomorrow, Derby seem to have so many striking options and are allowed to express themselves.We need a plan B real quick.

  27. That was a long journey back.

    Only themselves to blame for the defeat,Albert fluffed a couple of good chances,and Ayala headed wide when he should have buried it.

    Bringing three subs on in the last ten minutes doesn’t give them time to make an impact.

    Nugent puts in so much effort,endless running and needs someone up there with him,Fabbrini is not the answer,he can’t continue to warrant the number 10 role on his debut wonder goal. Try playing Stuani or Kike there or even Forshaw there. Add in Nsue for Kallas and Forshaw for Leadbitter just hope Karanka stops being so stubborn and changes it around.

    Team looked flat tonight, nothing in the final third that hurt Cardiff, another game that was there for the taking and we got nothing. In a month we’ve gone from seven wins on the bounce and a point off top to no goals no wins, seven points off top and most likely out of the top 6 after Derby play tomorrow night.

    Needs addressing ASAP or the crowd at the Riverside will be disappearing as fast as they came back and down to 16,000 again.

    As for Old Trafford next week I dread to think!!

  28. I honestly don’t see us winning on Saturday, does anyone at the moment?
    aitor needs to quickly make a few decisions or it could be to late. I really hope he can.


  29. 7 on the bounce but unfortunately only 5 of those were in the league. What I wouldn’t give for those 2 to have been in the league at the moment.

    Feeling very apprehensive.

  30. John Powls assertion has been “top 6 but not top 2”. I’m inclined to agree with him. For all the talk of a much vaunted complete reworking of the front end of the team, the net result appears to be the same. I’m not basing this on just the last 3 games; you can add PNE, Derby & Bristol to the list. If we are all in agreement that the front 4 this season are superior to last, were does the problem lie?

    There’s a lot of fustration over Forshaw & rightly so. We are told that AK’s Boro is a meritocracy. Who ever performs keeps their place in the team. This doesn’t seem to apply to Forshaw.

    Add to this the curious case of Yanic Wildscutt, who got an assist at the weekend and a goal last night. Apparantly he doesn’t play the way AK wants him to. This conjures up an image of Yanic sweeping past defenders in training, slamming the ball into the back of the net, only to be ticked of by AK for not being in position 30 yards behind. It would be great to have a player with Yanic’s pace on the bench last night, instead we had a lack of genuine alternatives. Instead we had De Pena untested and not settled, Nsue yet to convince in an attacking position.

    Hopefully AK will be forced to think about why little has changed since last season despite the summer investment and adapt accordingly. Perhaps a dissenting voice is required amongst the back room staff to spark some creative fiction. On to Saturday for what now looks like a massive game.

    **AV writes: Yes, five leagues games with blanks – but more total goals than last season, so when Boro do score they tend to come in twos and threes. Which suggests the issue is about consistency rather than an inability to score. The danger is in seeing all those games as the same when they weren’t. The complexion of the Reading game (stalled and never got going) was completely different to last night where Boro realistically had three great chances to score. People say “they were playing with the brakes on” but that’s just not true – Boro were throwing bodies and the ball into the box, putting crosses in and going for it but they just couldn’t find the final touch. That is not a tactical question.

  31. It is only football but it provides a diversion for many of us.

    Early in the season but this mini run could define our season if it continues for much longer simply because if you keep dropping points you make the task harder.

    We had the wobble debate last season and for all the protestations it wasn’t a wobble we ended up out of the top two. This is a little wobble that is all, if it morphs in to anything longer automatic promotion becomes tricky.

    You could argue that the shortage of goals actually extends into the Leeds game because apart from the first minute Nugent strike we didn’t look like troubling their keeper and were grateful for presents.

    Reach, Yanic and Muzzy are out on loan so we can forget about them for now other than watching their progress. We must remember they have gone out to play and hopefully one of them will come back in flying.

    The solutions lie within the current squad, if they don’t do it then we have a problem because not much can be done until January.

    Football is like all sport, one moment of fortune or misfortune, one piece of sublime skill for or against you changes the course of a game.

    If the ball bounced off George to safety it would have been a draw, something to build on for the Wolves match. It bounced in so that deflates everyone.

    We may be out of the top six by the end of the games tonight but who is to say Blackburn wont beat Derby.

  32. Well there was no precious points for Bilbao Baggins after his long journey away from the Rivenside in Middle-earth to the land of the dragon in an attempt to escape the wilderness.

    His earlier frequent encounters with Goal-erm have long since passed and his failure to use the ring of invisibility wisely has left many of his charges unable to find each other when it most matters.

    He is now faced with being attacked by the Trolls from the ether, but his survival may depend on whether the wizard Stuani can recover after his long quest from a land far away in the Misty Mountains and put on his magic boots once again.

    Now Bilbao must prepare himself to face the Wolves beyond the Black Forest and hope that the score-sheet doesn’t continue to display ‘loads of the rings’ next to the name of his mighty Boro – three is more than enough! – the quest continues…

    **AV writes: Excellent work. YOu can get a ‘precious’ in there too I would have thought.

    1. The problem is that whilst we have Aragorn up front we have Frodo, Merry and Pippin as the three support attackers with Sam Gamgee and Gimli in midfield.

    2. Thanks AV, but without sounding too precious, stare long at the first sentence and it will be revealed to thee… though maybe it’s invisible to the reader?

      **AV writes: To be fair, I’ve haven’t got a clue what you are Tolkien about.

      1. Werdermouth,

        Brilliant stuff, as ever.

        Such creativity isn’t everything, of course. AK would have sent it back to you with a query over whether your final dash might have more correctly been a full-stop.

        Just to give you a bit of encouragement.

        In the pursuit of excellence and incremental improvement.

  33. Phil, perhaps “reversion to the mean” is a more accurate description than luck evening itself out. That would mean that in the long term we would on average have about as many random events working in our favour as against. However it would also be quite unlikely if we had exactly as many in our favour or against over a single season.

    Smoggy, isn’t AK simply giving Wildschut the opportunity to get some time on the pitch to improve himself? If he does sufficiently well AK is likely to give him another opportunity in our team.

    I have the feeling I am being wise after the event here, but for all his skill, Fabrini does seem a bit too wasteful in possession. I assume AK hasn’t failed to notice that.

    Whether this is a blip or a crisis depends on your mood and how selective you choose to be with the data. We are by no means out of touch with the leaders there remain 71 points to be won from the next 34 games.

    Over to AK and his team to resume normal service with a 2-0 win at Wolves.

  34. I have no idea what sort of performances Cardiff were putting in back in March but in October on the evidence of last night, it’s fairly clear that they are a club in crisis, riven with internal dissent and only an early goal away from implosion. A team with aspirations of winning the league would be licking their lips at the prospect. Our safety first mentality stops us being that team.

    **AV writes: Yes, they got booed off at half-time and their manager admitted afterwards they got lucky but it wasn’t me who brought in hypothetical results against other teams. I don’t think Boro had a safety first mentality last night. They got lots of bodies and balls into the box, crosses, full-backs bombing on. They just didn’t score. I don’t think that was a tactical issue.

  35. A front four including Downing, Nugent and Adomah are as good as anything in the division at playing football. Whoever the fourth is should just add to the mix. But with Stuani out, other than Nugent and maybe Kike, you wouldn’t bet on anyone in the entire squad scoring from open play.

    There is no magic cure for goal shy footballers.

    Where is Gandalf when you need him?

        1. I’m afraid it’s good news and bad news – see AV’s comment on your ‘100’ post – I think they’ll need to be a recount.

  36. Apart from the Untouchables, Dimi, Ayala, Clayton and Leadbitter I get the impression players are reluctant to risk the wrath of AK when it comes to strictly following playing orders.

    Yes we are in a handy position, but is it a false one? How many clear cut scoring opportunities are created each game? Not many.

    Successful teams are the ones who can shift the ball quickly thereby having their opponents either on the back foot or running around tiring themselves out. I find our present style ponderous and predictable, players afraid to make a mistake making it easy for the other side.

    Downing was brought in to provide the creative spark, but sadly hasn’t had the desired effect. I know it’s sacrilege and anathema to the manager but perhaps a change of formation is required to 4-4-2.

    At the moment there is only one striking option, perhaps Nugent would benefit from a strike partner, Kike or Struani for example. Midfield could be Clayton,Leadbitter, Downing and Forshaw. A bit narrow maybe, but we are hardly tearing teams up down the flanks at the moment.

    With two outlets up front it gives Downing and Forshaw more options for forward passes.

    I’m not an ex player so by default I know nothing about football. But as an experienced spectator I recognise a team that is struggling to find its way.

  37. No point in worrying yet, we dropped 4 points at home against Bristol and Fulham but we are a point ahead on our away form, so we are only 3 points away from our 90 point target.

    What is worrying is that Brighton are streaking ahead so we are all scrapping over 2nd place already.

    Should be an exciting season.

    Reassuring that typical Boro are back with a bang, season looked like getting boring.

  38. What epitomises our performances is the fact that Clayton keeps getting the MoM. ‘another tireless performance’ was one headline.

    Now that is an admirable trait but nonetheless, working tirelessly must yield some end product, not something that the sideways and backwards feature of K’s formation and tactics are liable to produce.

    As for Leadbitter, I really don’t understand what has happened to him this season. If Forshaw can’t get into a team that’s dishing up such mediocrity, then I’d be dusting my CV off ready for January if I was him…

  39. GHW –

    ‘very diverse audience’

    Blow me down with a feather, GHW, seems you’re right. I’ve just heard J Corbyn on PQM’s say the government doesn’t have any industrial strategy for the country and it’s just like I explained it in my open letter to SG in the comments to AV’s last piece. Looks like J Corbyn reads Untypical Boro.

    I’ll be more careful now forthwith with my comments about people propelling their fingers up fictional female characters anal orifices- you never know it could end up on next days PQM’s or anywhere for that matter.

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