Humberslide: Boro Slip Up In First Big Test

OBVIOUSLY there will be gnashing and wailing and demands for recriminations and a fundamental, far-reaching tactical review because that is the default after a defeat through football now. Something must be done.

People are simmering and smarting and bruised. after the 3-0 defeat at Hull.  The team trudged dejectedly out of the tunnel onto the coach looking morose. The boss was  crest-fallen in the aftermath while among supporters there were sighs of resignation,  demands to know what had gone wrong and  fearful predictions that a repeat of last season was nailed on. Clearly Manchester United had just papered over the cracks.

1Hullwin

Surely this wasn’t the end of the road for a team that had kicked off just a single point of the top and even now are firmly in the mix?  Even Steve Bruce – with the objective perspective of an outsider (albeit a well informed one) – said he expected Boro to still be a title rival. He certainly doesn’t think Boro are a busted flush.

That doesn’t mean we should just shrug defeat off.  It hurts and will fester across the international break. But neither does it mean we should  panic.

The Hull match was never going to be decisive but it was always going to set a bench-mark.  It was Boro’s first big toe-to-toe test against one of the quality quartet shaping up to scrap it out at the summit. And Boro fell short – which will  set off alarm bells among some supporters and raise the spectre of last season’s failings.

The consensus is that Boro’s fatal flaw last season was the inability to match their direct rivals away from home.  They did well at the Riverside against the play-off pretenders but away, when the pressure was on, they buckled mentally and physically.

Hull doesn’t fit in that template. Ye, it was a defeat but it wasn’t the cold start and rapid implosion that characterised  Bournemouth or Watford away last season and the fixture has not come at such a decisive point.

And, whatever the blanket of gloom that the result will throw over Teesside for a fortnight,  the season is far from over. It is a league, not a knock-out.

The important thing is to learn the lessons from the game , and  chiefly that Boro have to make the key moments count.  They can’t wait for things to fall into place, they have to force the issue, make things happen.

But they did compete with Hull.  At first. They started at a high tempo, got stuck in, showed attacking intent and matched Hull for 44 minutes.   And they did create chances.  But they didn’t take them while Hull did .  From the moment the first goal went in the tide of the game turned  and Boro got washed away, quickly lost their shape, momentum and morale and fell through a quality gap.

But it might have been different. They failed to make their early spells of pressure count and what had been a rock solid rear-guard unravelled under pressure when the Tigers turned the screw.  After three Championship wins on the spin and the victory at Old Trafford it was a sobering experience.

For half-an-hour it was an entertaining and enterprising game with no sign of what was to come.  Everyone expected a cagey contest between the two tightest teams in the Football League.  Given the goals against column and Aitor Karanka’s instinct for solidity and a rigid rearguard most pundits were predicting a staid showdown. I know I was.

1Dimi

And with most pragmatic supporters ready to settle for a draw beforehand you could be forgiven for expected a cautious game, a tactically tentative game with two sides eyeing each other up and circling around a risk free mutually beneficially draw.

Forget that. Both went roaring into it it right from the off.  It was a high tempo, full-blooded affair with some early hefty challenges flying in and some feisty battles brewing in midfield and both sets of fans roaring along. It was really enjoyable.

There was no sense that Clayton was walking a disciplinary tight-rope as he clattered Diame high and late and that really deserved a card.  And that was a taster for what was a physical encounter. But it wasn’t dirty, just intense, no quarter given toe-to-toe scrapping all over the pitch balanced by some great, crisp passing football.

Both sides set their stall out early on and attacked with sweeping moves as the game swung from end to end.  And Boro created their moments of potential with two golden chances in that nip and tuck opening phase.

They could have broke the deadlock as Diego Fabbrini slotted a ball down the inside right channel for David Nugent to surge into the box then drill in a low angled shot that flew under the advancing keeper and drifted just wide of the far post. Inches. Fine margins.

Then on the half-hour Boro almost got lucky as banana booted full-back Moses Odubajo – our old friend from Brentford – went to head clear a routine ball forward and inexplicable slipped under no pressure nodding into the feet of Albert Adomah on the edge of the box.  He turned inside looking for an angle to shot but in that fraction the cavalry arrived and he was crowded out. The moment was gone.

Hull had chances too. Dimi Konstantopoulos made a great full length save to claw away a dipping Clucas free-kick heading towards the far top corner.

But then the Tigers made a key moment count: Mo Diame stabbing home after Fabbrini went down very easily, almost theatrically, under a challenge by Meyler and he sent Elohamady free down their right to put in a good waist high ball to the far post.

After that the game swung against Boro. Having been neck in neck, Hull accelerated away with ease in the second half and left Boro spluttering in their slip-stream. Although even then, at 1-0, there was a great chance to level as Stewart Downing picked out George Friend at the far post but his angled effort was saved.

Within a minute Hull had wrapped the game up as they forced the issue and made something happen – Clucas stretching to stab home a shot that was drifting wide. Game over.  The third just confirmed the gap had emerged between the team in the closing spell.

1NewTab

The result won’t decide the promotion race. Things remain very tight. But then, that’s the Championship. And we are only a third of the way through.  But it was a set-back and we can’t afford too many of the them.

But the game might teach us a lot. Or at least reinforce what we already knew.  Primarily that if you don’t take your chances then you are hostage to fortune.

And it also taught us that finishes above Hull will almost certainly be in an automatic promotion spot. On that showing  it is hard to argue against the idea that Hull are the strongest side in the Championship.

Of the relegated sides they finished the higher, scored the most goals, leaked the least and over the summer lost fewer key players.  They have a squad packed with quality players, big ticket buys and shrewd signings. They have a  lot of top flight and international experience and a manager who has been promoted from the division three times, twice with Birmingham and two years ago with the Tigers.

And after a slow-burning start Hull inched ominously to the top spot with a relentless, methodical march built on a rock-solid defence.

At kick off the statistics of the sides were incredibly evenly matched on paper.  To find that the gap was so wide by the final whistle should be a massive wake-up call.  Maybe they are not as good as they think they are.

Boro are still fourth and still in what will be a cut-throat pack again and already we are looking to other results – thanks Forest.

But if Boro are to go up and to avoid the play-off casino then nothing can be left to chance.

Boro must take the opportunities. They must make things happen. They must  make their moments count.

 

*************************************************************************************

I HAD a friend who lived in Hull once so I spent the odd weekend there. It was the early 80s. Christ it was bleak. It was before the Housemartins briefly gave the town some cultural cachet with a coupon-busting 4-0 win over big boys London. If was all off-white telephone boxes, a slight whiff of fish from over the river when the wind was in the right/wrong direction and that desolate, parochial end-of-the-line port town sailors DNA tendency to hard drinking to forget and as a prelude to a last orders pub brawl.  I quite liked it.

He used to go to the match. Which was an experience. Hard-as-nails Mixed Martial Arts marksman Billy Whitehurst was the big icon at the crumbling Boothferry Park.  Local hero. He was from  Mexborough or Goole or somewhere  equally glamorous. The phrase “robust” was used quite a lot.

Whitehurst

That was when Hull were a 2nd/3rd tier yo-yo side watched by maybe 6,000 hardy people. They were the third best supported side in the town behind Hull Kingston Rovers and Hull. Their football trivia fact was that they were the biggest town or city in Europe never to have had a football team in their nation top flight. Oh, and there was was always aggro. It was one of those places, like Carlisle, where it was endemic.

Anyway, fast forward to the new era of a new stadium, Premier League cash, idiosyncratic ego-ownership fixated on rebranding to make Hull as big a brand as Cardiff and an FA Cup appearance and – no disrespect – I still can’t  break away from the idea that Hull are a smaller club weighed down by a barren history and with a glass ceiling somewhere in the middle of the second tier. And yet Boro (who historically are probably only a dozen places or so better off, glazing wise) go there as the poor cousins. How did that happen? Am I wrong in thinking that Boro still feel like a bigger club with more potential, more history and more intensity in their quest to be restored to their rightful place?

Hull is probably the first BIG game of the season. Yes, Reading, Sheff Wed, Derby etc etc…  but we are 15 games in now, the table is taking shape and we are going directly head-to-head with a  genuine title contender and a newly relegated gravy train team so this one is under the national spotlight. Especially as Boro have just knocked out mighty Manchester United Nil so are briefly in the eliteocentric consciousness of the media. Boro are going away to the leaders, a team packed with Premier League experience. A real test.

I’d take a draw now. Almost everyone I know would. I suspect both managers would too. And with the top two defences in the Football League going toe-to-toe you would expect them to tactically cancel each other out. Everything points to a goalless stalemate. So get your money on 3-3 of 4-4 then. Seriously: this has nil nil written all over it. That would be a good end to a tough few weeks work. Boro go there with three league wins on the bounce and the laser-powered spot-kick win at Old Trafford behind them so should be in high spirits and determined to go into yet another international break with “a result” – and a draw will do. Even Aitor will be happy. For this reason…

Usual drill – use your Lawro-pundit power to predict the score and how the game will unfold here and now and then after the game it is all back here to swap notes/celebrate/decide on a scapegoat/tell Aitor how he got it wrong.

 

 

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491 thoughts on “Humberslide: Boro Slip Up In First Big Test

  1. Before we move back onto football here are some thoughts on the last week.

    It seems there is no intrinsic truth that will solve the world’s problems as many people tend to think the truth is what they believe it to be.

    We are lucky in the fact that we’ve been brought up as free thinkers in the west and have not been told that we must believe in a certain doctrine. Others are not so lucky, the very act of either following a belief system or even questioning their own cultural belief system may ultimately lead to their deaths.

    In a modern western country, it’s hard for many of us to understand how a belief system is the integral part of daily life – but religion as always is a powerful political weapon that is exercised in many countries as a tool of power.

    I’ve generally avoided the 24-hour news coverage of the Paris attack as it hasn’t really informed or educated me into what the source of the problems are. Rather than spend a few hours watching a reporter in body armour wait to see if a terrorist will pop out of a house in a French suburb I’ve been reading a few things about the history of Islam – Here is a quick summary if you’re interested:

    Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all Semite religions that derive from the same root – i.e. they all believe in the Old Testament which tell the stories of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses etc – which ultimately lead to their formation with Judaism first around 3000 years ago, then Christianity and finally Islam in 622 AD.

    After the death of Muhammad in 632 AD Islam then underwent various in-fighting over leadership successions, which includes assassinations by all kinds of unsavoury means. It ultimately split into two main factions over disagreement over who was the true successor to Muhammad – Sunni (now regarded as orthodox Islam) believed his Father-in-law Abu was the true successor whereas Shia (which translates as followers of Ali) believe the true successor was Muhammad’s Son-in-law Ali.

    Islam was spread across the world mainly thanks to the Ottaman empire but various sects continued to come into existence with different interpretations of the religion.

    Saudia Arabia for example practices Wahhabi Islam, which is a puritanical form of Sunni Islam created in the 18th Century to try to return to the earlier form of Islamic teachings.

    On the other hand, the rulers of Syria (i.e. Assad) are Alawites, which practice a controversially regarded form of Shia Islam – it even includes some aspects of Christanity such as Communion.

    Iran is also a predominantly Shia Islam country and Iraq is split more or less between both factions and this has lead thousands of sectarian killings.

    So this leads us to ISIS or Islamic State, which is formed from the Sunni Moslems from Iraq and Syria and they are fundamentalists who want a return to the Caliphate system of government that existed in the days of Muhammed.

    For true followers of Islam, the purpose of life is to worship God – it seems that those who wished for a more modern interpretation of Islam have now been sent into the background as the lengths to which fundamentalists will go in order to achieve their aims is hard to contain – the accusation of non-believer is a risk too far for many.

    So if you think the west can intervene and bring some order to the middle east, then it may be worth considering that religious conflicts of this region are nothing new. It’s the ideas that lead to the violence that need to be killed – not the people who find themselves caught up between rebels in a confused cause.

    1. Nice summary Werdermouth, v nice!

      Only 2 points for you:

      1. There is a large community of Shia in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province centred around Dammam, Dahran & further south to Al Khobar – I know coz I was there for a brief time and was honoured by their hospitality.

      2. There’s a good book on the subject if you’re interested. It’s called ‘The Battle for God- Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.’

      We tend to forget, given the nature of current events, that fundamentalism is present in all three branches of Abrahamic religions, raising their ugly heads on various occasions in various places (my father during his national service served in Palestine and saw first hand the effects of terrorism there).

      Finally, I find the subject so interesting that I’m tempted to pursue a masters level course in the future, God willing 🙂

  2. ..and “Jeddah is different.” Historically it practiced a more traditional and tolerant form of Sunni Islam. Salafism came to Jeddah with the conquest of the Hejaz kingdom in 1925. btw, it looks as if “Wahhabism” is regarded as a derogatory term these days.

    1. The ‘Whahhabis’ I have known reject the term themselves insistin that there is only one true form of Islam so no need for derivates.
      Btw. Met a Sufi whilst in Eastern Libya in 08 & durin a discussion that incl a Whabbi Sheik, he said I should beware of Whabbis coz they’ll chop my head off. The Sheik fervently denied it. Can’t say I’m in a hurry to revisit, although I’m still in contact with friends east and west – tooo risky even with my guardian angel watchin over me.
      People I know from Jeddha appear somewhat more laisse faire than their Central Saudi cousins, although it has to be said that Saudi society is facing a more challenging time that simply religious issues at present. There is a massive youth population with their own needs. Check out the night time driving videos in Riyadh on Youtube fe.

      1. Hi Allan,

        The thing that annoyed me was, apart from the nutters driving at 200km plus, the rubber necking and blood spotting at accidents (2-3 a week if not 1 or more a day witnessed). Cursed a poor Saudi man in both languages for the temerity of delaying me and fellow trafficers. He was quite abashed after I ranted at him through the open car windows. Then I gave in later to the same behaviour by taking a photo of a petrol trucks cabin on fire at the side of the road as I slowed to get a good one.

        Crazy days- and I didn’t drink. Well if it ain’t Bushmills 10 yr old, it ain’t good enough!

  3. It’s Thursday in this part of the world so a return to football tomorrow. I would play Clayton and Leadbitter and give Bradley Fewster a place on the bench. I would not be surprised to see Carlos de la Pena play and show us what he can do.

    1. You’ve bought a new player. He’s meant to be exciting and to have a major impact on the attacking abilities of the team. How many chances does he get before you rest him coz ‘he’s got a bad tummy, a tweak of his hamstring or his pet cat died over the weekend’?

  4. They don’t all make an instant impact Spartak. Depends on their personality and the type of football they have been playing. He might have even have been missing his pussy…,(copyright BBC enterprises), perhaps it’s out of quarantine now.

    At the start of Patrick Bamford’s loan spell I remember some people offering to drive him back to Stamford Bridge themselves. Then there was the hero of Old Trafford…

    1. As for Patrick, it is my understanding that once he was given a central playing position he excelled. Happy to be corrected if I’m wrong.

  5. Thanks Werder. As always the problems cannot be solved from outside. And they are not easy. But I learned a lot from your post. Excellent!

    I just wonder if AV ever thought about these subjects when he started this blog. Now he might get greedy and wait until 500 is reached.

    Up the Boro!

  6. “Nurseling” eh Sparkak, was your keyboard getting a bit sticky there? I recommend isopropanol, and a good blast with an air can comes up as good as new.

      1. It can Jarrko, just don’t leave it on for too long it is a solvent after all. It’s widely used in the electronics industry for cleaning all kinds of products. You can buy it on line.. at least in the UK.

  7. It is far too easy to assume it is all our fault. People are involved.

    Before the first gulf war I was speaking to my manager who had spent a lot of time in the middle east. Over lunch I spent some time quizzing over the differences, Werner’s excellent discourse above gives some idea about the complexity.

    As we attacked some apple crumble I asked about the situation concerning Israel. Very complex he replied, if Israel didn’t exist it would have been invented.

    I was in a couple of lectures by a an ex diplomat turned speaker and the thing that came out of it was the diversity of peoples, religious beliefs, customs etc across the arab world. Even the term arab world is incorrect.

    The solution isn’t easy.

    1. The solution isn’t easy!

      Got it in one there Ian. I read an excellent book whilst out in the Eastern Province by an eminent historian. It’s called ‘Jerusalem: The Biography’. by Simon Seabag Montifiore. It’s a history of the place going back to early times when it was a scrap in the ground for a goat herder to sit whist the goats feasted on juniper berries or the like.

      The upshot of it is that the region has always been a internecine mess, each party wanting dominion over place and or wealth. However, if it wasn’t for oil the ‘outsiders’ would leave the inhabitants well alone because it would hardly be worth fighting over. Except of course that the city, Jerusalem, is seen as God’s seat on earth by the Abrahamic types (see Kingdom of Heaven movie).

      Well just to make recent matters slightly worse along comes one of our own in the shapely figure of Gertrude Bell (educated in Redkerr). After the First World War she set about drawing the straight lines that you now see on the map of the Middle East (small world ain’t it). She also designed the flag for the then newly created country of Iraq (even smaller) based on the Abbasid Caliphate (that may ring a bell too). Same one a certain group is hoping to re-create as we write.

      Well to cut a long story short, since time immemorial everyone at some point wants their finger in the pie. As AV said, perhaps it’s time we simply pulled our own finger out. Then maybe we won’t get it burnt or singed or some such. It would appear that the countries surrounding and including the one I’m presently residing in in Central Europe, get the message and aren’t willing to comply. Maybe they understand the benefits of keeping nosey out of the fire.

      Oh and their all nuts about football, The arabs that is.

  8. And then there’s Messr’s Sykes and Picot. Ian and many other Yorkshiremen might argue that Mr Tatton Benvenuto Mark Sykes was also one of our own, having lived in the East Riding.

    1. “Laetare Jerusalem (Rejoice Jerusalem)”.

      Quite apt given my earlier posting. Sykes the Traveller. Couldn’t just sit out a quiet life in the embrace of the rolling hills of the East Riding. I wonder if he supported the Boro or Leeds Utd. Must have known about it through his links to the Green Howards.

      Walloped by Spanish Flu – he and a million others.

  9. Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace…

    1. Nice one Steve!

      I believe the great man who wrote said words was assassinated in downtown New York or such.

      Now where did I put that bucket?

      Ah, there it is!

  10. Spartak –

    The Middle east is one of those subjects that has so many layers that it’s more and more compelling as you start joining all the dots – I think it may well be your calling to be a scholar of Islamic studies or something. If along the way you could discover a way to help the people of the Middle East to resolve their differences then there won’t be enough Nobel prizes in existence to reward you – besides it sounds like you probably already know more than the recently resigned Middle East Peace Envoy, the one and only Tony Blair, who probably narrowly beat George Bush to the post due to his ability to point to it on a map.

    I’m sure part of the problem comes from scholars treating religion as a kind of psuedo-science, which inevitably ends up trying to create the purist form possible by endlessly interpreting texts and attempting to engineer a Utopian-like society where God is the focal point of everything.

    Imagine a physicist who’s dream of finding the grand unifying theory drives them further and further into an abstract world until they suddenly come to the horrible conclusion that the foundations on what everything they thought was built may in fact not be true – although it’s unlikely that a religious scholar will announce that their carefully considered conclusion is that God does not exist – unlike science, theology is not a proof-based pursuit but is rather an intellectual argument of persuasion.

    People who are looking for meaning or indeed recognition in their lives are probably attracted to such doctrines and perhaps something in their heads gets ultimately warped to the point where what to most people seems completely unjustifiable suddenly appears to them to be the most reasonable course of action to take – which is what probably leads some to undertake acts of terrorism.

    1. OMG! Werdermouth you have just described a doctorate there in the making (I kid you not). In addition you do me too much honour and have struck at quite a poignant time as my daughter has just messaged me that she has achieved high recognition in an early examination at her university in Belgium where she is studying Theology and Religion. It’s making her old Dad envious of her success and might just be the means of motivating him to get off his fat backside and do something himself.

      Still I think that although I’m one up on a certain Bush Jr. in terms of geography and travel, I think I’ll be waiting some time to even dust off someone else’s Noble Prize. One of the biggest problems is too many cooks in the kitchen or dare I say to many fingers in the pie for a solution to be equitably impemented.

  11. I’ve learnt quite a lot during this International Break thanks to some very knowledgeable fellow bloggers. Many thanks for that.

    Now, at last, the footie is back. Let’s get back on track tomorrow and go on a run that will take us to the summit by Christmas. Go on Santa, please. We promise we’ll be good. UTB

  12. “Religion is opium for the masses”

    I take that to mean that for the majority religion gives people a sense of purpose. It gives people a moral code by which to live their life. I may be wrong but without this I fear things would be a lot worse.

    Personally for me and billions of other religion is about love and respect for other people no matter what creed, race, colour or faith. Apart from Alan Shearer maybe!!

    I think religion is used as an excuse by people for acts of pure evil and insanity. It is suicide but with an incredibly misguided purpose. This is true of a minority of followers of all religions. Look at the fundamental Christians who form a large part of the KKK and would happily kill a man because of his sexuality.

    I never could listen to ‘Imagine’ and enjoy the lyrics. Maybe because he sung it while being a multi millionaire while spouting the virtues of everyone being equal, but primarily because for me religion is a good thing. It’s part of who I am. It has informed my thoughts and actions purely in a positive way.

    On a separate note I remember watching a program on the slave trade and how half the politicians and the PM’s family themselves were against the abolition of slavery mainly because they themselves had slaves. Furthermore, when slavery was abolished they passed a bill to recompense themselves for giving up the slaves.

    Fast forward a couple of hundred years and we have MPs claiming tens of thousands of pounds for false expenses claims.

    Their actions were as immoral then as they are now. The only difference is what is considered improper has changed. The actual people and their weak moral compass still remain and these are the supposed decision makers for our country.

    It is easy to take the moral high ground when you are one of the fat cats and all you need to do is make decisions that enables you to keep it that way.

    What happened in Paris was awful, hideous but the next day nearly 50 (I think!) were killed in a suicide bomb in Nigeria and it was a sub plot on the news.

    Unfortunately, some lives are deemed to be worth more than others and while that remains to be the case I fear that terrorism and extremism will always exist.

    1. Lots of points taken there Paul. Regarding the reports of lost souls in Nigeria, I think for obvious reasons we’re Eurocentric here in this part of the world and thst is strengthened by the media we are exposed to. I wonder if it’s the same there, so that the Nigerian situ took presedence over the Paris incident in their media coverage?

      Not wanting to minimise the importance of the issue but when I was in the Middle East I was a lot more interested in the daily and weekly affairs of the region than I am now and even adopted a local team to follow in Al Hilal FC. Even got to do a bit of coaching but thats neither here nor there.

      1. It hardly got a mention here…. people just seem to be numbed by it all. Google the figures of dead in Nigeria this year, it’s staggering.

  13. Talking of some lives are worth more than others, wasn’t it fellow travellers of Isil who stopped a coach and killed all those who couldn’t recite the Koran?

    Do nothing and you are lambasted, do something and you are pilloried.

  14. If ever a blog deserved to reach 500 posts, this one would be it. Excellent reading and knowledgeable input. Congratulations to all.

    **AV writes: Best crack on because I’ll be writing something new tomorrow…

  15. **AV writes: Best crack on because I’ll be writing something new tomorrow

    Does that mean you’ve finished painting your ceiling?

    I’m seriously impressed with the breadth of knowledge and well written responses on this blog, take a bow all those contributors. The education system in the Boro region did a fine job.

    The game against QPR isn’t going to be that straight forward, heart says a good win, head says a 1-1 draw

    **AV writes: Yes, finished the ceiling. Also done ALL the woodwork. Including the staircase. Going back to work for a rest…

  16. Very interesting reading on the blog lately. I’m currently working in the Eastern Province and have taken an active interest in Middle East matters, mainly due to the fact there is not a lot of things to do to fill in my spare time.

    I am currently watching QT on BBC and I find the level of ignorance from the two elected MP’s on the programme quite staggering.

    It just reaffirms my view that Westminster is run by people living in a cocoon isolated from reality.

    **AV writes: Chancers, careerists, charlatans and wholly owned lobbyists with a spattering of principled people who slipped through the net.

  17. Here’s a question for the readers.

    Let’s turn the clock back to the 1970’s. The IRA have just committed the Birmingham pub bombings.

    Do we get the RAF to bomb Dublin?

  18. I see that The FA have decided that all the weekends premiership games are to be preced by a rendition of; La Marseillaise thankfully they have stopped short of asking all of the supporters who own dogs from bringing their pets to the match with placards around their necks saying “Je Suis Diesel”.

    What’s wrong with just a minutes silence? I find all of this social media inspired mourning a bit disconcerting.

    1. I like the “je suis Diesel”. Singing the Marseillaise is a lot more fun than a minute’s silence or our own royalist dirge. The Marseillaise at Wembley was a statement and a way of showing solidarity between two peoples who are historical rivals. Repetition devalues the original in my mind.

      1. Why not the national anthems of Turkey, Lebanon, Russia or any of the other countries that have suffered acts of terrorism this year?

      2. I would have thought the point is quite clear. Why does it matter which nationalities are suffering terrorism when it comes to showing action or solidarity?

  19. And I thought AV was on holiday. But he seems to have entered the slavery of 2016.

    I do feel we have less spare time than before. Technically more but we feel more tired after work. And time is flying past us.

    Luckily we have hobbies. I love my Boro. Up the Boro!

  20. Just spent the last 7 days on a whirlwind work tour (hence my gap of posts) of the Middle East around Al Khobar and Jubail. The cultural differences with ourselves are huge and contrasting it with say Dubai (just an hours flight away) is unfathomable let alone trying to rationalise the area with our Western beliefs, philosophies and lifestyles. What things are like in IS controlled areas of Northern Irag and Syria is unimaginable. Ideally I agree with AV in that we should respect the differences and leave well enough alone but the problem is that the genie is already out of the bottle and has been for centuries.

    I have to say I find that when I am over there the locals are very nice, friendly and courteous, respectful people, something that our own society could (and should) learn a lot from. I don’t personally agree with a lot of their laws and systems but when in Rome and all that and by conforming I find it is a relatively stress free time apart from as previously mentioned the 200 km/hr driving skills or distinct lack off.

    What was interesting for me was the genuine anger and disgust from many of the locals at what had been carried out in Paris. Complete strangers approached me to tell me that what had happened was not in the name of Islam and that they would be punished for their sins. Our World “leaders” need to be working at bringing people closer together rather than pushing us apart by highlighting our differences.

    Irony for me in all this is that when I left the UK we were on the brink of another cold war with Russia and busy Sabre rattling. Subsequent events in Paris (and the week before in Sharm) has now aligned and allied those who were squaring up just hours previously. Divide and conquer is usually the main objective in conflict yet the leaders of IS seem to have achieved the exact opposite which ultimately is what will lead to their downfall.

    Football like religion polarises views and opinions, (indeed this board has it own split, perhaps not as extreme as Sunni and Shia) people will always have differing views and interpretations. History has shown there will always be be extremists in all walks of life seeking the purest form of whatever faith they follow and blaspheming non believers will always be the object of their bile.

    Bringing things back into a footballing context the display at Wembley was a poignant and symbolic message but playing the French National anthem at tomorrow’s Premiership games is a ridiculous notion. A traditional minutes silence is the traditional way we honour the fallen or a minutes applause in their memory. The faux support for Paris championed by the internet biggies (we all know who they are) who duck and dive via convenient loopholes in avoiding paying the very taxes which go to providing our safety and security makes me retch with their hypocrisy.

      1. Allan

        Unfortunately not, made all the more tantalising by the Causeway being slap bang in front of my hotel for the first couple of nights! Alcohol free beer was of little comfort but I have lost a couple of pounds over the week!

  21. GHW

    I was at Uni in Leeds when the Birmingham bombing took place. The students Union had one of it’s routine lunchtime meetings. As soon as people had left it to go to 2.00pm lectures, labs etc the loony left voted in support of the IRA.

    Two days later around 2,000 students had their own meeting and registered a vote of no confidence in the student union council.

    One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

    Football up next, at the moment 1-1 seems to come to my mind, 20035 Boro fans with 530 from QPR.

    may change my mind later.

  22. GHW

    “Let’s turn the clock back to the 1970’s. The IRA have just committed the Birmingham pub bombings.Do we get the RAF to bomb Dublin?”

    Clearly that is where successive governments of the 1970s and 1980s must have got it wrong. In fact, it took until the end of 1990s before we achieved the Good Friday Agreement. Just imagine how much sooner the IRA would have laid down arms had the UK called on a coalition of NATO partners (an attack on one is an attack on all) to precision bomb all those farms in Co Antrim (other farms and counties are available) where the IRA command and control of the day would assemble.

    Then again ……. maybe not.

    My money is on no snow at the match tonight and Stuani to be on the bench. Boro will cruise into an early 1-0 , but struggle to consolidate that lead until the 70th minute when after Stuani has come on we suddenly look potent again and run out worthy 4-0 winners at the end.

    1. The question of proportionality comes to mind Powmill. It’s clearly disproportionate to blow up people sitting in a pub in pursuit of a the aim of transferring a territory from one democratic european country to another, just as it would be to bomb innocent people in Dublin.

      What would have been proportionate, if it had been possible, would have been to have made the people involved collect all the body parts with their bare hands. Take them to the relatives and explain in the presence of the mute mouths of the open wounds why it was worth it.

      It would be great if we could send a couple of Bobbies to Raqqa, have them walk up Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri say, “your nicked sunny” and take him off in handcuffs to face trial. Unfortunately that’s not an option. As I wrote elsewhere I don’t think bombing Raqqa is a particularly appropriate response. Destroying IS’s oil production, refining and transportation infrastructure might be a good way of reducing their threat however.

    2. Powmill

      There again what if the IRA had called upon the USA to help it rid British Soldiers from Ireland after a Foreign oppressive Army using military force invaded and subjugated its peoples over centuries, starved them at one point to the extent that 50% of its population was either wiped out or emigrated (today’s Refugees?).

      Interesting to note that the IRA during the 60’s was the “Official IRA” which consisted of geriatric pensioners and it was British politics and blatant religious gerrymandering of votes which effectively created the Provisional IRA for Catholics seeking a voice and protection after British Soldiers were naively sent in to keep the peace but under the influence of the then RUC (which was the Loyalist equivalent to the KKK to Catholics at the time).

      The troops were in fact initially welcomed into Republican areas and seen as protectors. The local ruling powers that be at the time soon put paid to that as it threatened their domination and subjugation of the white catholic trash. The rest was history.

      Just saying like!

  23. Werner

    What to do for the best?

    The problem wont go away, Hotel in Mali now under siege.

    I just cant see these people sitting down and having a nice chat with Jeremy Corbyn and living happily ever after.

    It is easy saying don’t do this and don’t do that, What do you do?

    1. Ok Ian, you can stop that right there! Corbyn does not stand for a passive chit chat over tea with terrorists that have hands dripping fresh from a recent kill. He stands for the rule of international law because although not all things to all men in a bucket on yer head world, it’s all we got from allowing those with the most weaponary and most ruthless leaders from plunging the world into bloody chaos.

      Just sayin like!

    2. International law – it’s the difference between a ‘civilised’ country & barbarian couldn’t care less about you, yer grandma, grandda, Aunty May, Cousin Tommy or anyone else but ourselves and wot we want when we want it, so take that bomb, bullet or hatchet in the head coz we can like.

      Thats why we have bobbies on the beat, courts, judges, prison officers and prisons to keep law and order from those who dont want it. If it can work local make it work global. It mihjt be long in process and ponderous but it says Mohammed, his wife Hammida and their 3 kids from dying because a missile missed its target.

  24. Werner, at the risk of being accused of poor taste, surely it’s “Your’re nicked sunni”?

    To return however briefly to football, y’know, the point of the blog and all that, did anyone else hear Warnock on Radio Brownlee last night? Wow, bullet dodged.

  25. It was mentioned earlier in the thread, but sadly it is in mankind’s nature to want dominion over his fellow man. No matter how the future will pan out in respect of this current nastiness fomenting in Syria and Iraq, but also in bedrooms across the West and elsewhere, it will in due course be succeeded by some new and possibly equal (or greater) monstrous movement. While ever there are inequalities in the world, there is always the likelihood (even certainty) this will happen. And, there will always be inequalities in this world.

    1. He claimed that he had asked his agent on many occasions to get him the manager’s job at Boro, “’cos I love Steve Gibson me”. My blood ran cold at what might have been.

      If this blog has been an enjoyable polarised debate on results versus performance, suggesting an underlying philosophical difference in the appreciation of effectiveness versus beauty (I am firmly with Socrates – the Brazilian one, I don’t think the Greek ever played at a senior level), then his appointment might have broken the internet.

      1. Oh yes. That was not new news. Bullet dodged maybe, but it must be said, he is/has been very effective at getting run of the mill 2nd Division sides in the 1st Division

  26. Football. Bloody Hell.

    Or, indeed, anything other than football. If AV is looking for his Journalist awards entries, then this blog will have to be well up there. A meandering discussion on recent international events, followed by a reasoned and scientific analysis of the Middle East!

    I bet you don’t get that on many football forums!

    As someone else above said, clearly the Middlesbrough education system, allied to the hard-working culture which led many to seek the opportunities the area sadly lacks in lands far-flung, has created a living, breathing thinking entity of people, joined together in (dis)harmony by the common pursuit of a joyous goal – seeing Leadbitter smash a 30 yarder into the Oppo’s net and right down Warnock’s smug grill!

    Up the Boro, up Teesside, and up independent thought!

    In other news, I’ve just dropped a slice of hot buttered toast which landed butter side up. I’m taking this as a good omen for tonight and predicting a 2-1 victory, with the aforementioned 30 yard screamer included.

  27. As we’re on TV tonight, will La Marseillaise be played/sung before kick off? I’m very much in agreement with RR as to it’s appropriateness at the Prem games. Other than the Wemberley match where a clear argument could be made for it’s inclusion, I’m far from convinced footie should be pursuing it’s involvement with events in Paris and elsewhere.

  28. Why “Je suis Diesel”, I wrote.
    Isn’t that a little bit like “Ich bin ein Berliner”? (grammatically speaking)

  29. Digressing again onto Footballing matters briefly there is an interesting insight or opinion on AK here:

    http://www.fansnetwork.co.uk/football/queensparkrangers/news/41108/?

    It goes some way into perhaps explaining why he prefers Stuani wide right than Albert along with some other tactical insight like preferring his Full Backs to be not just mere Full Backs but also Wingers (as oppose to just English style attacking Full Backs). The ever presence of George Friend perhaps epitomises his philosophy and indicates that he wants the same on the Right but gets defensive skills with Kalas and attacking skills with Nsue but can’t quite get the balance right between the two of them unlike George on the left who seems capable of both.

    We see Albert as a Right Winger, AK seemingly sees the position as something totally different and that he perhaps doesn’t want or need a conventional Right or Left winger in his side set up at all. I suspected something similar but the above piece adds interesting infill to the theory.

  30. It is interesting that tonight is the only first class match being played in England and yet there is absolutely no coverage of it in The Guardian. today. You have to dig a little to find something on the BBC page, but at least it is there. How is it in other of the Nationals I wonder. Is this more typical media failure to acknowledge Boro that is going on?

  31. Powmill

    The Grauniad!

    We are not close enough to Islington or Highgate to interest Guardian readers, too many working class socialists for their liking.

    1. Given we are for the most part Eurocentric by birth in the majority. Would it not be appropriate to play the European Anthem by Ludvig Van Beethoven no less!

    1. Kick off will be delayed by the playing of the national anthems of all the countries that suffered terrorist attacks this year… or at least the ones where we could be sure that the attacks didn’t occur with the complicity of at least part of their own political elite.

      I think the difference with the France was it was also very clearly a direct threat to us and our way of life as well. The singing of the Marseillaise was from my point of view not only away of showing solidarity with our neighbours, (black, blanc, beurre), but also a way of showing defiance in the face of that threat. In other words, your murder of people lying on the floor of a concert hall did not work.

      France stands not only for western democracy but also for the republican values of liberte, egalite and fraternite. Those are values I support.

      Compare and contrast with Russia, (the most dangerous place in the world to be a journalist), Turkey, where we can’t be sure who in the government is complicit with terrorists and who poor old Lebanon where the Syrian civil war is being played out on its streets.

      There’s a bit of 6th form debating society about this but no, there is no equivalence between civilian deaths caused by armed forces involved in a conflict and the deliberate shooting of defenceless people. It’s a bit like the difference between a Luftwaffe pilot targeting a steelworks and hitting an air raid shelter and a concentration camp guard herding people into a gas chamber and throwing in the Zyklon B.

      To take the 2nd world war parallel a little further. What would be the difference between the participants in the bomb plot to kill Hitler and a gameboy warrior seeking to kill Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri using a drone?

  32. Werner.

    I think I agree in one sense,that is that we have to take a standpoint that we are in the right to defend the way of life that we choose to live, or to believe in. In that sense to try and eliminate this that are a real and present threat to that (like Hitler in your analogy) has to be supported once reasonable attempt to dissuade by diplomacy or reason has been tried and failed. Even though to do so flies in the face of what we believe in (ie democracy, the right to life etc etc etc).

    It is an interesting paradox and equivalent to the paradox of neutrality. As a neutral do you stand by and let two unequal antagonists battle it out when clearly the bigger and stronger of the two will prevail? Or, do you try to even things up by helping the weaker party? Euther way you are making a choice that either supports the big guy (by doing nothing) or the little guy (by doing something).

    In other words in order to defend and enable what we truly believe in as right sometimes requires that we act in way that is absolutely at odds with that belief.

    1. Yes Powmill and it’s an horrific choice to have to make.

      BTW I was not advocating assassination, basically because I dont’ think it would work. A bit like trying to decapitate the Hydra.

      It’s much more likely that the way to disable IS would be to destroy its oil production, refining and distribution ability and most unglamorously, go after it’s bank accounts and internet presence.

  33. and yes, I think the singling of the Marseillaise at Wembley will be devalued by repetition at the Riverside tonight and at Premiership grounds tomorrow.

  34. Werner.
    Yes (re cut off its finance) but as discussed earlier, that too has its implications for local populations , immediately and also into the future.

    Above all else, we are so very lucky not to be people having to make such decisions while having the freedom to be able to discuss like this ….

  35. I must be getting repetitive in my old age Powmill. I agree, and what’s more we have the luxury of having the time and the opportunity to discuss the world’s finest football team, (according to a number of subjective criteria that is).

    1. With a Blogmeister who inspires us with his original works and has the good grace to let the rest of us follow whichever flight of fancy we care.

      Have to check my Sky Sports subscription with BT before KO.

      Come on Boro
      Allez les rouges

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