Brighton Rocked By Team Spirit As Jose Watches On

JOSE Mourinho turned up at Brighton to spark a pre-match pap pic frenzy and everyone was talking about the number two.

And that is not just his natty new buzzcut hair style.

The presence of the axed former Chelsea boss naturally put the spotlight on his former dug-out apprentice, Aitor Karanka.

Given the emphatic nature of Boro’s 3-0 dismantling of Brighton, Aitor has learned a lot of the better aspects of the Sacked One’s skill set and systematically applied it ruthlessly on the pitch.

Mourinho – now at a loose end on matchdays – made a surprise trip to the Amex Stadium to back Boro and his friend Aitor in today’s top of the table clash against the Seagulls and even popped into the changies after the game to meet the team and give his congratulations on the impressive display.

1Jose

The Portuguese boss formed a strong bond with Karanka while the Boro head coach was his assistant at Real Madrid.

The won the title together while at Madrid and Karanka regards Jose as a mate and a mentor and has frequently mentioned that the pair are in regular communication.

No doubt the phone has been hot this week as the pressure mounted on Mourinho before he was axed at Stamford Bridge yesterday.

But in first appearance since being handed a squillion pound golden P45 the colourful conspiracy theorist and recently recast ‘specialist in failure’ made a beeline to Brighton as a guest of Boro to watch the game.

Ironically, after ‘losing the Chelsea dressing room’ he saw exactly what a well organised team regarded as the best in their league can do when they have a steely team spirit .

He will have seen a strong side battling for each other, for the manager and for the shirt; a single, determined, united entity working to a tactical shape and imposing a collective mentality in clinical fashion. Maybe he was making notes ready for his next time in charge.

And he’s not the only one who have taken note of a terrific team ruthlessly rolling to an emphatic victory

Boro made a massive statement of intent live on television that will have put a chill down the spines of the fans, staff and players of every team in the Championship.

All the promotion pretenders would have been sat in hotels, or on coaches or in stadiums warming up for their own games watching that. And they will have watched a well balanced side finally getting into their rhythm as the promotion race moves up a gear.

1Gerrin

Last year’s meme was that Boro “couldn’t beat the big teams away” (we’ll put to one side the wins at Derby, Norwich and Brentford for the sake of that narrative) and that outlook was reinforced by the dismal displays at Reading and Hull an placed a doubt in the mind of fans.

But Boro have got into their rhythm now and put in an impressively functional display to win 2-0 at Ipswich and now have built on that and blasted previously unbeaten Brighton apart on their own patch.

Boro are starting to look like a real team. They are starting to show their promotion credentials. They are starting to look the team to beat.

They threw a tactical noose over the early pace-setters and joint leaders and then slowly, ruthlessly, tightened it.

It was a perfect away day display combining silk and steel, energy and neatly orchestrated attacking intent, tigerish team-work with flashes of individual magic.

Yes, they scored an early goal and that changed the tactical complexion and set the mood music, but even putting that aside, Boro did almost everything right.

The got the opening goal and then soaked up the pressure, conceded possession 30 yards out and invited Brighton to come forward leaving space behind them to exploit and Karanka’s side twice launched fatal forward forays to seal it with killer goals. 

Even then the boss gave them a half-time rocket for not being more assertive and pushing 

1goalThe back four – six – defended as a unit, worked at a frightening intensity and put down a marker early on flying into some juggernaut physical tackles to show they couldn’t be bullied out of their stride.

They denied space, closed down Brighton players and threw bodies in the way to block shots and cut out crosses and every time a home player got in the box they were swamped by a posse of red shirts.

They grabbed the game by the throat in midfield with the two anchormen ferocious in the tackle and recycling possession quickly and accurately. They never missed a beat.

And up front the attacking unit combined well, supported each other with some intelligent movement and crisp touches and when the chances came they took them.

There were so many individuals who deserved the Gazette stars we could have done with a bumper Christmas multi-pack: Albert, George, Dani Dani Ayala, Clayton, Stuani, Nsue, Dimi made his customary weekly wonder save at a crucial point.

There were a lot of individuals picking up plaudits but it was the team display that Jose and other watching coaches will have taken note of.

The stats are now looking awesome. Boro have now gone 547 minutes without conceding in the league and since losing at Hull have won five and drawn one.

This season they have scored the first goal 13 times and have won 12 and drawn one. They have lost just once and conceded only two goals at home and are to face most of their rivals at the Riverside.

1Tbale

Before the other games kicked off they were top and a yawning 13 points clear of seventh spot and by the end of the day after Hull had lost, Boro look to be in a strong position, top as the halfway point looms.

It is a good place to be going into Christmas and while Aitor will have the players fully focussed and in training for the festivities we can all allow ourselves a little drink to celebrate.

Especially the magnificent away day army. Boro took 1839 on their longest journey of the season for a lunchtime kick-off on the Saturday before Christmas. They deserve respect.

And they deserve to EIO all the way home hailing their table-topping heroes.

Merry Christmas.

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

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

What we said before…

BRIGHTON:  its time to apply some pier pressure to a side that are joint, top and unbeaten but who have looked vulnerable, have injuries and suspensions  in key positions and have leaked  quite a few goals of lately – although fair play, they have twice battled from behind so clearly have spirited and goals.

Boro have been rock solid of late, have more clean sheets that Brentford Nylons (one for the teenagers there) and should be at full strength for the top of the table televised tussle and could find themselves in a rare position: the opposition may come at them and play football and leave them some space beyond the designated coach parking spaces to actually play in.  It could/should be a decent game. I’m looking forward to it.

I’d take a draw right now. I’d take a goalless draw with both sets of fans booing to be honest and put it down as a strategically important stand-off that would make for a good week’s work on the back of a win over Burnley…. BUT I think Boro can win. We have a good record here, the onus is on the home team to attack and allow a frustrated team to express itself and the squad is at full strength with some key players to come in fresh and with a point to prove. So I’m going for a clinical 1-0 win.

Over to you…. usual drill: predict the score and how the game will pan out and then all back here later to swap notes. Go:

 

 

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234 thoughts on “Brighton Rocked By Team Spirit As Jose Watches On

  1. Happy xmas every one. Today is my birthday, with all the angst that goes with it – one present etc!!! [Those in the know will know}

    Anyway as you may gather with my memories of Stans days – today is 60!! and it looks like being a good year for once in a lifetime.

    So enjoy the season and I’m looking forward to the Sheff Wed match on the telly and of course 3 points at Blackburn,

    Hope Bob gets better and RR gives us a full report form Boxing day.

    2 swallows don’t make a summer and we’re not there yet and remember we are the Boro so don’t expect it on a plate, but . . . . . something tells me this is going to be it!!

    UTB

    **AV writes: Happy birthday mate.

    1. Happy birthday Allan have a great day. I’m out of bed and up on my feet absolutely marvellous. You don’t realise how much you take your health for granted.

      Still can’t go to Boro match for a few weeks but will watch what I can on TV and listen on radio and Internet .

      I have supported Boro since 1967 and I must confess that this season feels like the 73 74 time under big jack when a solid defence was the core on which we won promotion .

      I would still like another striker (who wouldn’t ?) yet we seem to be looking at midfield players. I have absolute trust in our scouting system and we have found some cracking players and more importantly turned existing players into top class performers .

      To all our bloggers world wide merry Xmas and a promotion party in the new year

      FatBob

    2. Happy Birthday Allan!

      I recall a couple of birthdays and Xmas in the land of the vast desert. At one Xmas I lay on a lounger by the pool metres from our villa and one of my youngens brought out a fresh cool juice in a tall glass for me. Well the sun shone brightly and a few birds crossed above (we were on the west of Riyadh near a wadi), but it all seemed too surreal to me.

      All the best for the festive season.

  2. Bamford is an instinctive, natural scorer. He wants to take responsibility, to be the one who takes the shot because he’s sure he can score. He tends to put the ball where the keeper can’t reach it, including from headers. He has a calmness and assurance, and also a touch of arrogance about him. For example, if clean through he can calmly take the ball round the keeper before rolling it in.

    My nightmare is Nugent and/or Stuani suffering injuries, Kike has to play every week as the main man, and we lose points in tight games because he doesn’t manage to take chances, as happened last year. It was no accident that AK ended up playing Bamford half-fit, rather than Kike, in the Wembley final. AK had drawn the inevitable conclusion from what he saw during the season.

    I suspect it might take Bamford a little while to get up to speed again, as he hasn’t been playing at Palace, but after his goals last year he is as near a sure thing as we could possibly get.

    I don’t know if there would be a loan fee for Bamford, but otherwise Steve Gibson would only need to pay his wages, no doubt they are significant but I’m sure he would find that money. Rhodes or McCormack would cost a lot of money and would then need to get to know the team and learn how to play in our system.

    Having said this, I think there may be an issue over how many loan players we can have, and it would be nice to have one loan place still available in case Dimi gets injured.

  3. Sorry, one other point is that although we are by general agreement stronger this year, Nugent for all his effectiveness otherwise has not matched Bamford’s strike rate. For me Stuani does not look quite as lethal either, although to be fair we haven’t seen him centrally, so we don’t know what he could do there, and he is only just getting a sustained run in the team. There could be a front two option with Stuani as central striker and Bamford on the right, and maybe that would be prolific?

    I suspect that if Bamford came back he would end up as a first choice player in one role or another, but the key point is to have enough firepower available to cover for injuries.

    1. Maybe Kike and Stuani could be prolific given the opportunity. Kike has never got a run in a settled and established side and nor has Stuani. Not seeing the wood for the trees, just saying like!

  4. After a couple of weeks of family demands on time the best Christmas present of all, after Brighton of course, would be beating Blackburn, even if the team end up doing an impersonation Cousteau playing football underwater.

    AV thanks for the reports and the brilliant pictures of Teesside. And Redcar Red, your reports are excellent too and much anticipated, thank you. OFB, good to hear you are improving and hopefully you can have a beer at Christmas. Grovehill I hope the shed is decorated with Boro coloured lights. I hesitated to write red lights because that could mean something else!

    To the all of you other more prolific bloggers on the site, thanks for the entertainment, banter and good humour. Merry Christmas to you all.

    UTB,

    John

  5. Bamford had his chance to stay and decided to move on. I don’t understand why he is being touted to come back. Besides he is no better than what we have right now. It would be disruptive and we don’t need that just as we are getting settled.

  6. I was a gnats whatsit away from being able to be home for the Sheff Weds match, didn’t quite work out. So my Mrs and my little Exiles will be enjoying Christmas and cheering on the Boro from this side of the pond.

    Wanted to wish all a Merry Christmas. OFB, enjoy your pint.

    UTB.

  7. An Australian, an Irishman and a bloke from Grove Hill (a suburb of Middlesbrough) are in a bar.
    > They’re staring at another man sitting on his own at a table in the
    > corner.
    > He’s so familiar, and not recognising him is driving them mad.
    > They stare and stare, until suddenly the Irishman twigs:
    > “My God, it’s Jesus!”
    > Sure enough, it is Jesus, nursing a pint.
    > Thrilled, they send him over a pint of Guinness, a pint of Fosters and
    > a pint of bitter.
    > Jesus accepts the drinks, smiles over at the three men, and drinks the
    > pints slowly, one after another.
    > After he’s finished the drinks, Jesus approaches the trio.
    > He reaches for the hand of the Irishman and shakes it, thanking him
    > for the Guinness.
    > When he lets go, the Irishman gives a cry of amazement:
    > “My God! The arthritis I’ve had for 30 years is gone. It’s a miracle!”
    > Jesus then shakes the Aussie’s hand, thanking him for the lager.
    > As he lets go, the man’s eyes widen in shock.
    > “Strewth mate, the bad back I’ve had all my life is completely gone!
    > It’s a miracle.”
    > Jesus then approaches the bloke from Grove Hill who says,
    > “Back off, mate, I’m on disability benefit.”

  8. Happy birthday Allan and great news Bob that you are on the mend. Merry Christmas to all on here, realists, pessimists, ra ra’s, foamee’s, Karankanites, Mogganauts, depressionista’s, or whatever label is applied as and when for expression of our passions and emotions. Let’s enjoy the league table it’s been the best part of 6 years in coming!

  9. Kike had plenty of chances last year and didn’t really deliver, but to be fair he looks a different player recently. Not sure what it is, or even if it is just his haircut but he looks more determined and less concerned about scoring. Bought into the team ethic more. Last season he looked like he was always desperate for a goal.

    Also, don’t really see how Bamford would be a disruptive influence, unless he would expect to play every game. He clearly loved his time here.

    I think the Boro youth team were on the train back from York today following their Christmas party. Harry Chapman appeared to already be making a name for himself with the ladies, signing autographs etc…hope it isn’t going to his head already!

    1. BoroPhil

      In fairness to Kike his opportunities last season coincided with a lot of other new players arriving, just finding their feet and/or starting to settle in.

      He didn’t pull up tree stumps early days but neither did for example Nsue or even Clayton to a lesser degree early on (or Forshaw for that matter since he arrived). The Team now is much more of a “Team” with far better understanding of individual roles, rules, positioning, tactics etc.

      Kike done OK against Man City when he had his opportunity and since Nugent’s suspension I think he has done very well and against Brighton he led the line as well as anyone has since AK’s time in charge. On present form I think Nugent should have to fight for his place (might help him keep his frustration in check as well).

      Kike’s current efforts is down to his ability but also that the “Team” around him is a lot better than the early stages of last season when most of his opportunities came. If we take the Birmingham opener last season, Mejias, Hines and Reach were selected and Ayala and Gibson hadn’t developed their vault like mentality. That wasn’t a terrible side but the understanding and tactical nous then to now is incomparable.

      When Bamford arrived it took him a while to settle and find his feet but when he did he was off and running, no arguments at all on that score. His lack of competitive game time now though may mean that he takes 6 to or so games to get up to match fitness and speed. Can we afford that luxury? Of course if he hits the ground running and takes up where he left off last Season then fantastic but I think the team has changed, evolved and improved since then and he might have to re adjust a little as well as get fit.

      If he comes he definitely wouldn’t be an intentional disruptive influence, quite the opposite but we may go slightly backwards while he settles back in. He could even end up back at the Bridge for the rest of the season based upon their current plight and the question marks over Lukaku and how he was allowed to leave.

  10. Happy Christmas one and all. Happy birthday Allan. Continue the recovery OFB. However, Xmas is our half-season (sort of) to say thank you mostly to AV.

    Vic, though I’m sure you’ve got the general picture by now it’s important you understand how valued this blog is. Thank you for another wonderfully entertaining and insightful half-season. I look forward to the next few months on the blog equally as much as the next few months on the field.

    **AV writes: No problem. It’s all part of the service.

    1. “Vic, though I’m sure you’ve got the general picture by now it’s important you understand how valued this blog is.”

      I think that’s a bit of an understatement Andy. Without it Alcoholism and Divorce rates on Teesside would have probably gone through the roof not to mention those of us who would (and probably should) have been sectioned along the way.

      A decade of acute social care from AV coming up in February 2016!

      **AV writes: Blimey! Doesn’t time fly?

  11. Happy Christmas one and all. Happy birthday, Allan, and happy recovery OFB.

    Reading this blog every day keeps me sane. Many thanks to all concerned, and especially to you AV for maintaining it for so long at such a remarkably high standard and for all your tremendous insight into all things Boro.

  12. As ever, I am eight hours behind those of you in the U.K. as I post this, but esconced here in my comfy chair in Western Canada with a glass of Gordon & MacPhail Glenrothes 1997 Reserve Single Malt and seeing the Boro up there at the top of the league, I could say my glass is more than half full; and the virtual glass most definitely is. The Glencairn glass only has an ounce and a half! (Side note to whisky enthusiasts; Yesterday, I bought a bottle of Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye that Jim Murray, author of the “Whisky Bible” nominated as Whisky of the Year and I really enjoyed it, not least because it was about 1/3 to 1/5 the cost of many of the whiskies that I would like to buy.)

    Thanks in particular to AV for putting in so many unpaid hours stewarding the blog and moderating where necessary and thanks to the bloggers whose posts I enjoy.

    OFB did a wonderful job in naming many of the regular posters, but I’ll avoid that as I’ll be up ’til you lot get up in the morning, if I start about it.

    Bearing in mind that this is a blog about Boro, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Manager, our team’s director and inspiration. As far as I am concerned, he has done a great job since he arrived. Thank you Aitor. I cannot comprehend why anybody would think otherwise. Really, people are STILL complaining???? Time to get a life or a different hobby.

    Thanks also to all of the team and let’s include the youngsters here, the up and coming crop. Without the players, we would have nobody to cheer on. Well done lads – and keep it up.

    Lastly, a big thank you to Steve Gibson whose passion for the game and our team in particular together with his steadfast determination to keep putting his hand in his pocket, has kept the team going. Doubters and naysayers be gone.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy prosperous New Year to all.

  13. On November 27th I posted:

    “We are 8th in the Form guide for the last 8 matches home and away
    We are 3rd in the form guide for the last 8 matches at home (behind Hull and Brighton)
    We are 9th in the form guide for the last 8 away matches”

    those stats now read:

    We are 1st in the Form guide for the last 8 matches home and away
    We are 2nd in the form guide for the last 8 matches at home (only on GD of 3 from Derby in 1st as we both have 20 points)
    We are 3rd in the form guide for the last 8 away matches (2 points from Derby in 1st)

    On a shorter time span of 4 games on the 27th:

    “We are 3rd in the Form guide for the last 4 matches home and away
    We are 4th in the form guide for the last 4 matches at home (behind Hull, Derby and Burnley albeit GD is a factor)
    We are 16th in the form guide for the last 4 away matches”

    those 4 game stats now read:

    We are 1st in the Form guide for the last 4 matches home and away
    We are 3rd in the form guide for the last 4 matches at home (Forest in 1st, Derby 2nd albeit only on GD of +4 goals to Derby)
    We are 2nd in the form guide for the last 4 away matches

    In just a month I think that is significant progress but it does highlight that if we sneeze or splutter Derby are also on an upward trajectory at the moment so we need to keep it going.

  14. Hi AV.

    I have been trying to post a festive ditty (free of expletives, cricket and Yorkshire) that seems to disappear into the ether.
    Are you able to see it at your end, or has it truly disappeared like the ghosts of Christmas past ?

    **AV writes: There is nothing at all in the holding pen.

  15. Loans? Loans from big clubs, of very good players? It’s a problem. No matter that the club say they are not guaranteed a place, nevertheless it is expected.

    Which leads us to Bamford, what if we are five points clear when he arrives, we play him, rusty, and lose two games in a row. From a position of strength we are suddenly in a jam, people are saying he is getting fitter each match he plays, what do we do?. We are suddenly in a lose lose situation. I think it might be better if we carried on regardless, only recruiting permanent additions to our playing staff thus avoiding side issues, ie third parties wishes.

    Wishing all bloggers best wishes for the season with particular mention of Av including thanks for your insistence on a no swearing policy. I find other blogs are unreadable because of vile language, so thanks for that.

  16. I would take Bamford back in a heartbeat. We can speculate that it may not work out just as easily as we can speculate that it will work wonderfully.

    My questions would be: will the squad be stronger with him in it? If so, will the difference be enough to justify whatever costs are involved. And does he actually wants to come?

    A selection headache for AK or the risk of upsetting Chelsea if Bamford doesn’t play often enough doesn’t matter to me. I’m sure Karanka is strong enough to deal with those situations as he will also be if Bamford’s arrival upsets one or two other players.

  17. AV,

    that building in the background in the “Boys from the Blackstuff’ picture on your bit.ly album looks a bit like the old Jordisons Printers building over the border.

    Merry Christmas and as always,

    UTB,

    John

    **AV writes: I was told the picture was taken round about where the Dragonara is. Does that fit in?

  18. On the third day of Christmas our Aitor gave to us, three more goals,
    two points clear,
    and a clean sheet from Dimi in goal.

  19. On the fourth day of Christmas our Aitor gave to us, four defensive Scrooges,
    three more goals,
    two points clear,
    and a clean sheet from Dimi in goal.

  20. On the fifth day of Christmas our Aitor gave to us, Steeeve – Gib – son!
    Four defensive Scrooges,
    three more goals,
    two points clear,
    and a clean sheet from Dimi in goal.

  21. On the sixth day of Christmas our Aitor gave to us, six rotations weekly,
    Steeeve – Gib – son!
    Four defensive Scrooges,
    three more goals,
    two points clear,
    and a clean sheet from Dimi in goal.

  22. On the seventh day of Christmas our Aitor gave to us, seven thousand fans at Blackburn,
    six rotations weekly,
    Steeeve – Gib – son!
    Four defensive Scrooges,
    three more goals,
    two points clear,
    and a clean sheet from Dimi in goal.

  23. On the eighth day of Christmas our Aitor gave to us, commentary by Brownlee,
    seven thousand fans at Blackburn,
    six rotations weekly,
    Steeeve – Gib – son!
    Four defensive Scrooges,
    three more goals,
    two points clear,
    and a clean sheet from Dimi in goal.

  24. On the ninth day of Christmas our Aitor gave to us, nine points out of nine,
    commentary by Brownlee,
    seven thousand fans at Blackburn,
    six rotations weekly,
    Steeeve – Gib – son!
    Four defensive Scrooges,
    three more goals,
    two points clear,
    and a clean sheet from Dimi in goal.

  25. On the tenth day of Christmas our Aitor gave to us, ten days of heaven,
    nine points out of nine,
    commentary by Brownlee,
    seven thousand fans at Blackburn,
    six rotations weekly,
    Steeeve – Gib – son!
    Four defensive Scrooges,
    three more goals,
    two points clear,
    and a clean sheet from Dimi in goal.

  26. On the eleventh day of Christmas our Aitor gave to us, eleven-reds-a winning,
    ten days of heaven,
    nine points out of nine,
    commentary by Brownlee,
    seven thousand fans at Blackburn,
    six rotations weekly,
    Steeeve – Gib – son!
    Four defensive Scrooges,
    three more goals,
    two points clear,
    and a clean sheet from Dimi in goal.

  27. On the twelfth day of Christmas our Aitor gave to us, Untypical Boro,
    eleven reds-a-winning,
    ten days of heaven,
    nine points out of nine,
    commentary by Brownlee,
    seven thousand fans at Blackburn,
    six rotations weekly,
    Steeeve – Gib – son!
    Four defensive Scrooges,
    three more goals,
    two points clear,
    and another clean sheet from Dimi in goal.

    Merry Christmas one and all, I hope you all have the best of times.

  28. That’s the most creative way of hitting the double ton in all the years on here – you deserve a Lada!!

    Thanks for the birthday wishes.

    3 points n Boxing say please

    1. I only posted it like this because the 4 times I tried to post it as one it disappeared in the ether ! I did think of you when I was posting it line by line though 😉

      Merry Christmas.

  29. Uniquely brilliant way to bring up the Christmas 200, Powmill.

    Sincerely hope, in the midst of all of this creativity, that you didn’t neglect your defensive duties, or Santaranka may have you rotated to a bit of sleigh-pulling.

    Belated Happy Birthday to Allan.

    Merry Xmas to everyone who contributes to making this the best football blog around and a daily must-read.

    And to AV- brilliant scribe, wit and fount of inside knowledge on all things Boro.

    And to Aitor and the lads. Our thoughts will be with them as they train on Christmas Day.

    Aitor’s achievement has been monumental,but I sense that this is only the start.

    Thrashing the only undefeated team in the Football League, and on their own midden, will give the lads the kind of confidence boost that no team talk could ever emulate. They will fear no one from here on, home or away.

    Nigel, Borophil ,Jed and others are right to stress that our current success has been a couple of years of hard work in the making. You cannot replicate the kind of accumulated knowledge and experience that has made our tightness and organisation second nature Nevertheless the Ipswich second half and Brighton performances do represent an incremental step forward in terms of the attacking intent and the swagger and confidence that this has given to the whole team.

    We have looked to be in a mix of five teams for promotion for most of the season. In the mix, but no more than that. Since Ipswich, for the first time since we came down, we are playing like Champions and look like a team that would not be out of place in the Premier League.

    Our Wembley defeat may have been a blessing in disguise. We may have found the Premier League a struggle this season. Now we look ready.

    My own view is that we will pull away from the play-off contenders from this point. Now that Clement has twigged that he has been wasting a seriously under-performing Ince by isolating him out on the wing, and has played him as a No 10 with stunning effect, we may well pull Derby along with us.

    Derby or no, we’ll get automatic promotion, and none of us on here, including Spartak, will need any encouragement to enjoy the ride.

    Have a great Xmas, everyone.

    Can anyone suggest a possible place to meet and say hello to fellow bloggers at Blackburn?

    Boxing Day weather report for the North West is horrendous, including an Amber Storm Alert.

    Pack your waterproofs, gentlemen.

    Make your car burglar-proof, AV.

    Blackburn 0 Boro 1

    And I hope that Boro fans give Jason Steele a warm reception. He was with us from the age of 9, give us splendid service, and remains a fine keeper in whom the Boro and its academy can take a great deal of reflected pride.

    1. Len

      I’ve been racking my brains to think of somewhere to meet. In the corner between our stand (the Darwin End) and the main stand – I mean outside the ground- there is a kind of L-shaped recess which contains some kind of a memorial (War memorial? Is it up on a wall?) I should have the best knowledge of anyone, I suppose, but my precise memory is very hazy.

      Anyway, that corner might be a good place to meet briefly, though if the apocalyptic forecast turns out right it will need to be brief! I’ll aim to hang around there for about 15 minutes from 2.15 unless anyone can suggest anywhere better?

      1. On reflection I may be mistaken about the memorial, but I’ve looked at some pics of Ewood Park and there’s definitely a kind of bridge structure across the corner between the Darwin End and the main stand (again, I stress that this is outside the ground.) Not sure whether it’s an actual bridge or just something structural. Anyway, that’s the corner where I’ll wait. I’ll have my red Boro hat on , and if it’s truly horrendous weather I may even be forced to wear the all-red Boro poncho I bought myself recently for just such an occasion.

        Beware, lads and lasses. East Lancashire is noted for horizontal rain! Anybody remember the cup game we played there a few seasons back when even the players needed swimming trunks and flippers there was so much water on the pitch? We lost, of course, by two lengths to one.

  30. “Our Wembley defeat may have been a blessing in disguise. We may have found the Premier League a struggle this season. Now we look ready.”

    That’s a good point Len.

    Dimi
    Kalas Ayala Gibson Friend
    Leadbitter Clayton
    Downing Nsue Adomah
    Kike

    Nugent Forshaw Amorebieta

    None of those players would be out of place in the Premiership. This is a squad that has been prepared to compete in the big league and not just to survive. The new and improved professional MFC can take a bow.

    Merry Christmas to all who contribute here from around the DiasBoro.

    Boro Fans, none better.

  31. Given that Bamford was here last year, and his scoring record, I’m really surprised that a few people do not seem to rate him or want him. I don’t know what other criteria could be better in making a judgement on a prospective signing than what we saw with our own eyes.

    As I said, it would take him time to get fully up to speed, and no-one is suggesting that he would have to play all 90 minutes in every game from the instant he came through the door.

    Also, we can’t ignore the point about injuries and suspensions, that’s when the additional striker becomes very, very useful, and could be the difference between getting an automatic slot or not.

    Kike has come in and done well, but I’m not sure he is able to carry the burden of playing every game and scoring the goals we need to be promoted.

  32. Bamford would strengthen the squad, without a shadow of a doubt. He’s exactly the type of player we need to compliment Downing’s vision. His movement up front and his clinical coolness in front of goal is one of the only areas we can improve in.

  33. Merry Christmas everyone. We already have our present and I’m hoping for another tomorrow.

    Having a very quite morning in wet and cold Bahrain, thanks goodness for LEGO!!

  34. Merry Christmas and thanks to everyone for making this blog should a delightful refuge.

    Thanks to AV for writing ‘proper stuff’ and, above all, thanks to Steve G, AK and everyone else for being a club that I’m proud to support.

    A great 2016 to everyone. We’re going up.

    UTB

  35. My comment on Bamford is that I would rather have a similar player to him but on LEFT. Wemhave Stuani on the right, possibly centre, too. And then there is Albert on right, too.

    As Bam Bam is a loanee – OK, he would be interested to stay here next season, too – I would be interested in concentrating on the left.

    But as said earlier, all we might need is Reach. But again, I trust Gary Gill and Aitor know better than any of us.

    It’s Christmas morning and I wait for Boxing Day. An early flight to Manchester and then a short drive to Blackburn. Clive and Len, we try to make there for a meet. I have met both of you earlier but if it rains as you have mentioned, I hope still to find you.

    I am hoping for a 0-2 win but will be happy with a 0-0 result, too. Does anyone know why we have so few draws unders Karanka. Mind, I don’t mind the current form with 90% of match winning but it very few drawn matches under Karanka. Any reason as a 0-0 could be the norm with our defensive record.

    Up the Boro!

  36. Did anyone take on board ak’s statement re: Xmas training, footballers duties/responsibilities. Mind blowing.” No one forced me to join this club” ” I knew when I came here that Xmas was football all the way”( I paraphrase) ” my players know that they are professional footballers and will be training over Xmas to be fully prepared for boxing day’s match, and I love it.” Phew, I think we struck lucky with this man.

  37. Clive,

    Thanks for all of your research.

    Will be at the War Memorial/ Bridge/ or Some Kind of Structure at 2.15 on the dot. Don’t hang around if it’s wet, though I’m not sure whether it’s out in the open or not. If it is I’ll wait for 10 mins under the nearest shelter. Black bobble hat and long blue scarf. Hope Jaarko and any others who may be around can make it.

    Should be a cracking game, weather and conditions permitting.

    Look forward to meeting you.

    UTB

  38. Will AK go nap on Saturdays match and make changes for Boxing Day, or what? It’s a tricky decision, one that can lead to glory or the grave ( sorry, that’s from an epic poem) but you know what I mean. Who’d be a manager?

  39. Merry Christmas everyone!

    I think AK may well go with an unchanged team and make some changes on Monday but we’ll see. I’d consider rotating Leads or Clayton for Zuculini or Forshaw. But to be honest, I don’t really mind these days, whoever plays should be good enough.

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