Boro To Run Over Brum on Drive To The Top

A FIXTURE clash has ruled me out of the not-as-pivotal-as-it-looked-last-week-but-still-MASSIVE crunch away at Birmingham.  Gutted but it can’t be helped. I’ve got a long standing date in London and the small screen scheduler’s randomiser has caught me out. It’s only the second match missed in five seasons. But I’ll be watching on  the telly-box and tweeting. And I’m sure the rest of the Gazette posse will look after you. Follow them on the live blog and all the usual stuff will be on the web-site straight after the game.

To keep you going here’s the Gazette match preview and there is some top chinwaggery here on the latest Tripe Supper podcast here for you to disagree with on the trip down.  And as we head to the climax here is a bit with us all imagining a dream finish to the cut-throat Championship race. Mine features a little lego tear.

So usual drill…  only I won’t be around after the game so you’ll have to talk amongst yourself. No fighting.  Predict away. I’m going for a 3-0 win to put Boro back on top, pile the pressure on the other son Monday and put promotion – and the title – firmly in Boro’s hands next week. Ramirez first scorer. Jonathan Grounds to give away a penalty. Rhodes to score. And Dani Dani Ayala. Clayton to avoid his booking.  And I think my pre-match meal will be venison with a port and redcurrent reduction and juniper foam.  Hmmmm.



282 thoughts on “Boro To Run Over Brum on Drive To The Top

  1. Ahead of that Leicester City match at Ayresome, I and many others expected us to win against a side with nothing to play for. Instead we were turned over by good team playing positively without pressure.. does that sound familiar?

    On Saturday our opponents will have only one result to play for.. a win. They have lost only 2 matches away from home. Although we won 3-0 at Brighton that was against a side weakened by injuries.

    I think it will suit us to face football playing opponents who will have to come forward at some stage.

    I see no reason to change from the last time out except with George or Husband for de Laet to give us a more attacking options on the left.

    Alll in all, I think we will win.

  2. AV is spot-on with his comments about flares. Although it seems like a bit of fun, I hope it won’t take someone being badly hurt for us to treat it as a serious problem.

    All the Boro fans were searched on the way into the ground at Birmingham, which obviously didn’t work, but maybe an announcement that being found to have flares in your pocket will have some serious consequences (a ban?) would help. Hopefully the CCTV at Boro will deter people.

    1. Sadly there are those in society who are selfish ignoramuses or probably just plain stupid. Stupid is as stupid does as the saying goes.

      As AV points out these flares can reach over 1000 degrees some even reach 1600 degrees. No doubt the neanderthals who throw them have zero intelligence on what temperature human skin burns at let alone what happens to a child needing skin grafts because of burn injuries.

      Skin grafts do not grow like normal skin and tighten as the child grows up necessitating repeated extremely painful and debilitating skin grafts until Adulthood. Thats a great way to celebrate a Boro goal by giving someone a life changing disfigurement but no doubt we are only trying to spoil their fun and we will be labelled as killjoys.

      If a young girl has lacquered her hair before coming to the match the result could be that a flare hitting her or worse perhaps landing in a hood will be instant engulfment all over her head. Injuries would be of the type not suitable for discussion on this or any other board.

      The type of flare used is also open to debate as no doubt they are acquired anywhere and in any way. Phosphorus is often the main “ingredient” in flares and its vapour is extremely toxic. I cringed with fear when I saw the Birmingham Stewards trying to put the flare out on Friday. Hopefully they had been trained to deal with them correctly as if they had inadvertently used water on phosphorus flares they can explode and splatter causing serious burns and injuries.

      The Stewards were wearing Hi Vis Polyester Jackets which will ignite and melt very quickly causing potentially horrific burns as their Jackets are not designed or ever intended for that purpose. Even just with explosive splattering it could have resulted in a loss of eyesight.

      Eventually there will be a Flare incident that regrettably will leave someone somewhere with life challenging injuries or even death, the Club concerned will be heavily sanctioned, punished and made an example of. My cynical guess based upon our “3 points” incident is that if it happens in England the “less important” the club then the likely harsher the punishment especially more so if it is not located in a trendy London suburb or in Manchester.

      For those who think it doesn’t happen or couldn’t have a look at these three links:

      Not all flares are the same and some are a lot more dangerous than others of course but strangely I’ve yet to see one recommended for use in crowded places or in close proximity to others.

      After the events of the Justice for the 96 campaign this week those responsible for bringing flares into a football stadium should be banned for life from all sporting arenas and face imprisonment for deliberately endangering human life. If someone attempts to light one around me or my loved ones I would not be responsible for my actions the killjoy that I am.

  3. Having watched how Brum, Derby and QPR – with nothing much to play for – gave everything to win their games against the top three, I’m quite glad to be playing Brighton on the last day to win promotion.

    At least they are playing under the exact same pressure as we are and it also means we don’t need to worry about out-scoring them in order to finish above them on goal difference.

    I think we will start the game going for the win – but with the scores level with 15 minutes to go I suspect it will be hard mentally not to try and preserve the point we need and that would be a dangerous situation.

  4. I would like to clarify some of my previous comments about Derby. My piece headlined ‘Kamikazi Derby sack manager in crazy act of hari-kari’ may have been taken to somehow suggest that I thought Derby are a poorly-run club who don’t have a clue and who should be ridiculed at every opportunity.

    Of course, those words meant nothing of the sort and in fact I recognise Derby to be a fantastic club, superbly run and managed, and employing a team of absolute superstars.

  5. Our record in the league at home this season reads

    WLWWW DWWWD WWWLD WWWWW WD? Goals 33 Against 7

    At least we know Brighton won’t come and park the bus they have to win the game,unless of course they get an early goal. They have though only lost twice away from home but have also drawn half of them.

    I hope Karankas tactics aren’t to sit back and hit them on the break,we should go at them from the start and try and get the early goal. I wouldn’t like to see it 0.0 and defending for our lives for the last fifteen minutes.

    There is the outside chance of the title if Burnley lose or if they draw and we win by three goals. Although promotion is all that matters it would be disappointing to lose the title on GD

    Going to be a long week until Saturday and a long 90/95mins

  6. Many of us remember Liverpool being beaten at home for Arsenal to take the title. I think they could win by losing 1-0 but were cautious and got their just deserts.

    A lesson for us all, the only result you can play for is a win, a draw is a dangerous ambition, or lack of it!

    1. Ian:

      “It’s up for grabs NOW…..!”

      You remember the late, legendary Brian Moore’s commentary, don’t you?

  7. Know Michael well. Lovely man who enjoyed his time at the Boro, and who asks about current Boro developments whenever I see him.

    Forever associated with that goal, however.

    1. I agree, just read the Oborne open letter and it seems David Cameron attempted to smear Labour’s London Mayor candidate Sadiq Kahn for being on the same platform as Suliman Gani, who was claimed attended an event where he spoke in support of Islamic State on the night of the Paris attacks.

      Oborne, checked the video of the meeting in question, which was called ‘Quiz-a-Muslim’ and there was no reference to IS made. Oborne has suggested that by the PM making such a public claim to further party political aims may have put the life of British citizen Mr Gani at risk by the threat of reprisals.

      I suspect we have not heard the last of this and it may well even put Cameron’s position in doubt.

      **AV writes: That would all be standard guilt by association smear politics but it is the misleading of Parliament, refusal to answer perfectly reasonable questions asked through the proper channels and the use of civil servants for party business that should be raised by all those who say they value accountability and honesty in their democracy.

      1. It’s actually worse than a smear of guilt by association – the ‘associate’ has first been smeared by the use of an ‘obviously a terrorist sympathiser’ slur, which uses the general Islamaphobic feeling in large parts of the public to give the story plausibility – incidentally, much in the same way the South Yorkshire Police were able to slur the Liverpool supporters over Hillsborough at the time.

        This has come on top of the Labour ‘guilt by association’ anti-semite claims, which conveniently were put in the public domain just before the elections – with loose cannon Livingstone having his buttons pushed in order to utter something indefensible from his repertoire.

        This is in danger of back-firing on Cameron at the expense of EU exit – I sometimes wonder if Oxbridge student politics games (and they are games) are being played out in the media, where nobody ends up voting on the issues but on the knee-jerk emotions put into the electorate by a myriad of lies, falsehoods and half-truths.

        The truth is not just the first casualty – it’s the second, third and fourth!

        **AV writes: The lead booted political ineptitude of Cameron never ceases to amaze me – and the thin-skinned red faced fury he greets every challenge with. And he is supposed to be the modern, in-touch, personable, slick face of the Tory party. That is the frightening thing, they think he is a good operator. No, sorry, the frightening thing is that it goes unchallenged by a meek media who have abandoned critical scrutiny and appear to broadly share his agenda.

  8. I *loved* Michael Thomas. He was a more crucial cog in that 1997-98 promotion winning team than he was given credit for. He departed, I believe, when Gazza arrived.

  9. It is like taking the kids on holiday to the south of France, are we there yet?

    No, it is only Tuesday lunchtime!


  10. We often discuss on here how the observed performance compared with the game statistics and whether the team could have done better with the possession they had enjoyed?

    So for those of you like me interested in stats (yes you know who you all are) – I read today that Leicester have the second lowest pass completion rate in the PL with the third lowest possession stats – sounds on paper like relegation form to me!

  11. Werdermouth

    I listened to Steve Claridge yesterday. He was talking about Brighton playing 442. Apparently they have two holding midfield players, the wide men tuck in a bit, the second striker drops off and plays in the hole, the two full backs like to get forward.

    Sounds suspiciously like 4231 to me.

    He also said that having seen the hatful of chances we missed and the disallowed goal he favoured us over Brighton on their performance yesterday

    1. Before yesterdays games all the pundits on 5-live were giving it Burnley and Brighton to go up with Boro in the play-offs. I thought they were quite disrespectful to Derby, who I did think would give Brighton a test.

  12. I think so long as we play to win rather than to draw then we should be OK. We are good enough especially at home to beat Brighton as good as they are. Worse case should be a draw but if we go out to draw then that is what will worry me. Fans will get tetchy, the players will pick up on it and get caught between going for it or holding the rear guard as per instructions.

    We don’t and shouldn’t go gung ho, we don’t need to, just not sit right back absorbing pressure. Brighton have to win, they have to attack, I doubt they will deliberately leave themselves exposed but by the law of averages they will at times overstretch themselves. In those circumstance I hope we see a long ball clearance out from Dimi for Albert and Rhodes/Nugent and Ramirez to run onto. Counter attacking should be our mantra for the day.

    I know long balls are not AK’s preferred style of attack but this is a one off cup tie with no extra time and no penalty shoot out. Oh and can someone please make sure that the Team arrive in plenty of time unlike Wembley!

  13. People who use pyrotechnic flares and lasers at football matches display a sad lack of imagination and empathy.

  14. My only worry is when Brighton start throwing the kitchen sink at us late in the game, we haven’t been as disciplined as last season.
    Maybe Kalas at right back and Nsue right wing if Albert goes left to help out on their winger.

    1. gt

      I hope AK recalls the Wembley game last year where Norwich wanted it so much more than us. So much so and so hungry for it that they effectively killed it off as a contest in the first 15 minutes. I’m praying we don’t witness us sitting deep, hoofing and clearing onslaught after onslaught out of our box with two banks of 5 desperately clinging to 0-0.

      This is another Play Off final with exactly the same stakes to play for. We screwed up last May so hopefully will have learnt a bitter lesson. We get to go again now except this time on our own pitch and with 88% of the fans all Boro cheering them on. We have to approach this as a must win game, no more, no less.

      No “accommodating” or “carrying” half fit players. If George isn’t 100% then he sits it out in the stands, same goes for Clayts if he’s only 90% or any others. Our best, fittest and bravest 11 and that means anyone who is less than capable of a man size challenge needs benching. Half hearted displays will not be in evidence in the stands and will not be tolerated on the pitch. Blood, Guts and Glory and Boro!

  15. Pyrotechnic flares, lasers, kitchen sinks flying around – maybe the Riverside should be a hard-hat zone on Saturday. I’m definitely digging out the body armour I used when the kids were younger.

  16. This play off match is a puzzle. It can be played many ways, and most of them will meet with quite violent disagreement, certainly on this blog.

    My suggestion is to leave it to AK. He has as much at stake as anybody. Furthermore Brighton have a strange record away this season, not many defeats but shed loads of draws. That suggests to me that they play the rope-a-dope game, act like a cushion to soak up the opposition, then crash the ball into the opposition box and storm in after it late on.

    On Monday they were given a lesson and beaten easily at all aspects of the game, yet on ninety something minutes up goes the hoist, in charge the heavy mob and bang went the win for Derby. So, I don’t have a hard and fast opinion, just a hope that the team get it right on the day.

  17. Jut one further thought, when push came to shove Brighton when instructed to kick the ball back to Derby late on in the match, didn’t, and with a minute to go got their equaliser. Eternal vigilance is the watchword, these sportsmen leave something to be desired, so all boro players be warned.

    1. Plato

      I recall Tony Parkes’ Blackburn doing something similar in a 1-1 draw with Blackburn in April 1997. 1-0 down in injury time and ordered to give the ball back to Arsenal, they chose not to do so, instead winning a corner and grabbing an equaliser from it.


  18. Its only Tuesday, I think the Leicester thing has helped to take the early nerves off. It is staggering though what awaits if we pull this off, I still cannot quite believe we have this final bite of what has been a rather large cherry. What a season.

    We have had some luck against us, but the Brighton red card from Monday (feels like last week) must be a concern for them.

  19. Speaking to a Derby fan last night and he put some reverse logic on the Riverside Rumble.

    Working backwards, they would be have been pleased to play Wednesday in the play offs, they haven’t lost in ages.

    Happy enough to be playing Hull, really fancy their chances.

    Brighton would be a 50:50 match,

    Pleased Burnley are promoted, wouldn’t want to play us either.

  20. Ian –

    Should the unthinkable happen on Saturday, then I would fancy Boro to regroup and refocus and beat Wednesday over two games.

    Having watched the Brighton v Derby game, it looks like the Rams are almost back to their best and would expect them to get to the Wembley final – so they are the team I’d least like Boro to meet.

    Anyway, that’s just hypothetical as I think Boro have enough to beat Brighton on Saturday.

  21. Two rules that the great Desmond Llewellyn taught us all before he passed on…

    (1) Never let them see you bleed, and (2) always have an escape plan.

    Them being the opposition, and the escape plan being a Plan B, or plan of alternatives as I prefer to call it.

    Wise words.

  22. Debating with myself whether or not to get out the souvenir Boro / Steaua UEFA semi final scarf to wear on Saturday (on the basis that it has only ever been to that one match before, so it must be a luck omen) or to stick with (very) old favorite….

    …three days and 58 minutes

    1. wear them both!

      I’ll be wearing my ‘unlucky’ retro ’74 shirt, which I have only ever wore to one match also and we lost. But the runes tell me reverse psycology is the way forward on this occasion!

      1. Nigel

        Don’t wear it !!!

        I wore my unlucky Boro shirt for Ipswich which I had previously worn at the playoff final and had said never again.

        I mean it this time no Boro shirt for me …


  23. Is this the lull before the storm, I thought we were all pent up, anxious and defacating our undergarments with the fear of Seagull guano splattering all over us on Saturday?

    Surely if this was the case there would be a multitude of posts on here expressing terror and incontinence in equal measure? The silence is deafening.

    Think its now timely that AV pencils an Ironmasters special in the build up to what will be financially the biggest game prize in the history of Middlesbrough FC at either the Riverside or AP to get the creative and argumentative juices flowing again on here.

  24. Tension is unbearable , with the flags it will be a hostile atmosphere for those in yellow ( why you wouldn’t wear blue is surprising) This may be the last time I see Boro on tv in Aussie, because some idiot from Foxtel (murdoch) allowed another telco to buy the rights to the premier league and by all accounts it will be a real ripoff to sign with them. Will have to go back to the radio like the old days.

    Hope all those lucky enough to be going to the match have a day to remember and we who are flung to the corners of the Empire will be with you in spirit ( or beer). Good luck and raise the roof !

    See you at a Premier league game next season.

  25. Redcar Red

    I keep trying but it gets lonely on here at times, sometimes I struggle to find another red herring to prompt posts.

  26. The trouble with a 12;30 pm kick off at The Riverside is that you have to get up at silly’o’clock in order to get to the match from our bit of Scotland. It is a Saturday after all; what’s wrong with 3pm?. Why the need to have the kick off for the entire league programme to be so early in the afternoon ?

    1. Sky dictates,their live slot is 12.30 so as all the rest have to kick off at the same time the whole league kicks off at 12.30. Plus there are Premier League games kicking off at three and live games can’t clash with them either

    2. Don’t think sky can show games live at 3 when there are other games kicking off at 3,so as the Saturday live slot is 12.30 all the championship games kick off then

  27. I see the curse of the Manager of the Month award is raising its ugly head again for both Chris Hughton and Aitor. Lets hope it goes where it really deserves and is awarded to Neil Warnock at Rotherham. The last thing we need right now is that flippin award to jinx everything, failing that they can give it to Hughton but please not Karanka..

  28. Classic diversionary tactics in the on line comments on AV’s opinion piece on pyrotechnics. It’s along the lines of you might not like flares but I don’t like Mark Page.

    As a debating tactic that’s like saying “you may not like people taking swords into the stadium, but I get annoyed when people leave early, obstructing my view.

    It should be obvious that not everything is a matter of personal preference. There’s a world of difference between actions that can injure and something that annoys.

    As far as AV’s other OP is concerned, yes I have bemoaned the effect of the overplaying of music in all kinds of public areas but especially at football. Music touches us emotionally, I personally react very strongly to being obliged to hear music for which I feel revulsion. I no longer visit some pubs, restaurants and gyms for that reason.

    One of the great attractions of going to a football match is the atmosphere. Even the collective sound of 30,000 people talking is enough to make the heart pump in anticipation. The playing of ” pap” music at high decibel levels isolates us from the crowd and can even preclude any kind of conversation.

    I remember how disappointed I was on my last visit to Anfield to have the sound of the crowd in that grand old stadium smothered by a selection of second string 1960’s pop acts that had rightly remained overlooked by posterity.

    I also think it has impoverished our terrace chant culture. Consider how old many of the tunes are.

    For the sake of letting an atmosphere build naturally, for building a sense of collective will, for more creativity in terrace chants, for less regimentation and for more fun, please, please let’s turn the PA music down to 5 and silence it entirely for 15 minutes before kick-off. Let the fans. turn the atmosphere up to 11 on Saturday. UTB.

  29. I sympathise with Powmill’s earlier dilemma over which scarf to wear – I’m having a similar one over here deciding on which pair of shorts to wear given we’ve been hit by a heatwave for the next seven days with temperatures predicted to hit 26-27C – though I probably won’t be needing a scarf 🙂

    BTW I hope my laptop can handle the heat!

  30. The metoffice is predicting a balmy 9C at kick off with a northerly wind so short sleeve shirt, shorts and fffflip flop?

    Welcome to the North Albion fans.

  31. Powmill

    I don’t think they are allowed to show live games at 3pm, besides which the Championship is not allowed to overshadow the bloated top flight.

    1. I know it is the TV schedule dictating the timings, but doesn’t stop me having a good moan about it.

      I suppose the silver lining is that it is now only 49 hours and 18 minutes to hold breath for, instead of 51 hours and 48 minutes !

    2. I’d like Boro to be one of the super bloated top flight hopefully by Satirday afternoon……….

  32. I am still confident. But on Saturday morning it could be different…

    How I see it we have a good chance. There are four possibilities:
    1. We win comfortably and go up as champions
    2. We win and get promoted as second
    3. We draw and get promoted
    4. We loose and the paly-offs loom. But we will be favourites to win them.

    So it looks good. Especially so as we are at the Riverside. Come on Boro. In Aitor we trust.

    Up the Boro!

    1. ‘In Aitor we trust.’

      Well that’s us for another season in the Championship, then.

      Well done Jarkko!

  33. In light of the number of sleeps or sleep deprivation before the match here is something I have borrowed from BBC. It is in an article for getting a good nights sleep before an exam. Hopefully it will help us be in top form for Saturday.

    ‘A heavy meal too close to bedtime can interfere with sleep, so try to have your last meal at least three hours before you go to bed. Then have a small snack such as a bowl of high-fibre cereal like porridge just before bedtime. If you need sweetener with cereal, go for dried fruit rather than sugar.

    What should you drink at bedtime?

    Avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as tea, coffee, cola and chocolate, for least four hours before going to bed. Be aware that some people who are very sensitive to caffeine can still feel the effect 12 hours later. A warm glass of milk can help you sleep better.’

    I have been trying beer and wine to get to sleep but I wake up thinking about a linesman’s flag and what to do with it.

  34. Ian – Hopefully your ‘linesman flag’ nightmare will disapear as we all line up behind Aitor as he leads us out of the wilderness back to the Promised Land…………..

  35. I had a dream last night and Nugent scored an early goal. But I can’t remember what happened after that. Aaaaarrrggghhh!!!!!

    **AV writes: We won 3-0. It was great.

    1. SteveH: “…and Nugent scored an early goal.”

      Now, that had to be a dream. We all know that he will be on the bench till at least the 80th minute!!

  36. There is going to be a slightly surreal atmosphere at the end of 90 minutes whatever happens. One set of fans are going to be positively jubilant to the point of wetting themselves whilst the others will be broken, dispirited, gutted and downright broken despite having just qualified for the Play Off’s!

    It would be great to think that whoever is the victor their fans respect the emotional turmoil and trauma of their opposite numbers who have just as many hopes and dreams for their own club.

    Hopefully it will be Boro fans who are ecstatic but if so just have a thought for those Brighton fans who have made the long trek North and like as not will be kept in after the final whistle and (similar to Brentford on the second leg last year) would want to show their appreciation to their players at the end.

    My hopes are that the minority do not spoil it for the majority. By the minority I really mean the few flare throwing, pitch invading, shirtless, drunken, unemployed, northern in breds rather than the thoroughly posh, polite, well educated and thoroughly decent employed chaps from the south coast that the tabloids and media have stereotyped.

    1. At the end of 90 minutes RR we will just about be getting ready to celebrate the winning goal.

  37. I have always found Middlesbrough crowds to be genuinely appreciative of the opposition – unless the opposition and their support play it in bad spirit. Somehow I can’t see a Chris Hughton side, nor the travelling seagulls fitting that category.

    I really hope that this will be another opportunity to show a certain motor-mouth what a hot bed of football is really all about.

  38. I must say it all feels a bit surreal at the moment as I sit my garden on what is a public holiday over here in Germany (Himmelfahrt), the sun beating down with the throng of the blackbirds in the background, the Magnolia tree has all but shed all it’s flowers and the half-a-dozen oak trees are just about starting to show their leaves.

    It’s all very calm and relaxing – can’t believe Boro could well become a PL team in less than 48 hours after I bear witness to a couple hours of what promises to be stress turned up to eleven.

    Still haven’t decided on which shorts to wear – perhaps the camouflage ones would be appropriate for the battle that lay ahead?

    1. I’d be extremely cautious with the shorts Werdermouth especially if Brighton take an early lead, there’s no telling what effect Himmelfahrt could have then. Best go for the longest ones although perhaps camouflage is not a bad shout after all!

  39. RR
    I share your wish, whatever the outcome on Saturday, that rival fans respect the opponent’s feelings but I do fear that the morons will want to have their “celebration”, particularly our own.
    I hope I’m wrong. I believe it’s a unique situation, so who knows?
    Is it still only Thursday? Talk about the longest day. This has been the longest week in history.

  40. Werder, we also have a day off today. It is around +20 degrees here in Finland, too. The first summer day. So the footy season will be over soon – in days.

    I hope the Boro players are off to holidays after Saturday. I am sure of it. And then let’s enjoy the sun (if you are outside of the UK, that is).

    Up the Boro!

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