Coupon-busting Boro Open Fire On Arsenal

RIGHT. I got home late buzzing and had a beer to calm the nerves. My heart almost exploded when they put the ball in the net in stoppage time. I’ve never cheered an offside flag from the press box before. Great game: a galvanising watershed moment and possible penny drop tactical revelation.

Anyway… I see you have started the debriefing without me. Carry on.

Here’s my on the whistle colour bit about how Petr Cech was the man that ensured that mighty Arsenal were lucky to get nil on a day that could kick-start the season.

Here’s the Gazette digest of the game, tactics, big moments and star players. 

Here’s my ever populat too generous/too harsh* player ratings 

And here’s the best picture of the day – much maligned Spanish shot-stopper Victor Valdes in Arsenal halting action:




190 thoughts on “Coupon-busting Boro Open Fire On Arsenal

  1. ‘Well, didn’t they do well!’

    Excellent result against a Champions League team with tired legs and an opposition that had something to prove ie. that the Boro are more than turgid losers.

    “We love it when everybody writes us off,” tweeted the impeccable Ben Gibson after the game.

    So given the response perhaps the Ultra’s might agree that when things aren’t going well it might be beneficial to lay the facts out as they are and tell it as it is and then the team will respond positively. How now for the absolute faith and trust without a shred of a point to look forward to.

    Where on earth did the ‘tinkering’ with the tactics come from? I’ve searched and searched but no mention has been made or reported. Here is a manager who at his press conference has his newly appointed PR ‘team’ (AV says it’s a Spanish lady, whilst Louise tells us ‘they’ were by his side – oh, and perhaps someone will have the decency to say who recommended such an arrangement months ago) and reports from the Gazettelive were that the responses were ‘feisty’, whist elsewhere they were reported as ‘spikey’ – just a touch of disparate nuance there, sports fans.

    So, at the same press conference we hear Aitor saying categorically that he is 150% sure of his decisions and that he will stick to his formation of, what was it, 4-2-3-1? Come hell or high water he was not for change, yet yesterday change of a radical, not tinkering, nature was upon us. Here we see on the right of the team the change that RR and others had been calling for for weeks. Here we saw that much neglected excellent play from a young player that was devastating for the opposition and instead of backs to the wall incessantly there was an option not only to relieve the pressure but to turn it into a danger. Question, sports fans, how is it that even the most unqualified can see this yet the people with influence apparently can’t.

    I know the mantra ‘Aske ye not Spartak, just be grateful of the beauty of the outcome!’ Well, unlike the many, I’m of a disposition to want to know why things happen and what the expected consequences maybe. I’m not inclined to simply blindly accept that which is dished out so that I become a unthinking follower, easily manipulated by the latest spin or zeitgeist. Call me flawed if you like, but I want to know what’s really going on behind the facade of superlatives and hyperbole.

    Therefore, the crucial question for me is why did we get that ‘tinkering’ that we saw yesterday? Why the change when we were told, and have seen for seasons now, a change when change was least expected? As most if not all of us here from the full spectrum of opinions did not see it coming, who or what initiated it? We may never know. Perhaps it was something that Aitor ate for breakfast different from that we he usually consumes. Perhaps it was the appearance of the mysterious Spanish lady who we know nothing about. Perhaps it was something else entirely.

    Next game against Bournemouth we will see a different dynamic, different challenges from an opposition who are away from home. Can Aitor pull another rabbit out of the hat? Will we concede another sloppy goal and then fail to recover? These are the challenges that managers face week in and week out and to suggest that one type of formation can solve all is perhaps naive. Has Aitor the ability to rise to the challenge. You know my opinion (or is that drivel, Clive), sports fans. The next nutty crunch comes along soon. Meanwhile, we have 7 points from 9 games and by my reckoning we have dropped 20 points and counting and are joint third from bottom on points with four goals scored in what is is… well I’ve lost count.

    Enjoy your Sunday morn sports fans. This is Spartak Boro drivelling from the base of the White Carpathian mountains on a cold but sunny morn, signing off.

    Halas Habibi


  2. I had to laugh at some of the earlier pre match posts.

    The funniest posts were Spartaks at the top of the blog and then his most recent, two different posters surely, after all no one can change an opinion that fast! I think Clive makes a valid point Spartak, your attack on AV was out of order and plain wrong.

    Fantastic result, great performance.

    Mark Schwarzer said Valdes made an excellent save and commanded his area, Wenger said Cech and Valdes are very good goalkeepers.

    Colymore said don’t expect Traore to do that every week, he’s an impact player at best and blows hot and cold.

    Maybe Valdes is the good keeper most of us hoped he would be.

    Same tactics, same formation from Karanka , but more determination, energy and belief from the team and no mistakes.

    More of the same next week please.

    1. Nigel

      I shall ‘attack’ Aitor and poor team performances all the more, with vigor no less, as Ben Gibson tweeted AFTER the game that they love it when people write Aitor and the team off or did you miss that bit?

      More not less is the order of the season not blind faith and trust.


  3. I didn’t plan to stay up and watch but the evening progressed with a good meal and a bottle of wine and good company and suddenly it was midnight…so only an hour to kick-off. I could do that? The wife went to bed and I sat and watched an old movie. I did wonder what I was doing, like most people I wasn’t expecting much and wouldn’t have been surprised at a thumping. But nevertheless I stuck it out.

    I read the early predictions on this blog. No one seemed very confident. Spartak (bless him) was apparently insulted by something AV had written. Apparently AV had gravely insulted all Boro fans. I must have missed something…I didn’t spot any insults. The game was terrific, one of the best 0-0 draws I’ve seen. I think a fair result but certainly we had the better chances.

    Like Jarkko, I’m thoroughly enjoying the season. For expats it’s fantastic to be able to watch the team on TV every week. Whilst we could have done better I’m not too despondent about how the season has gone so far. There was a bit of a reaction to the Watford defeat but it was a close game and could have gone either way. Around about this time last year we were beaten at home by Bristol City and there was a bit of a fuss on the blog, but it turned out not to be significant.

    Of particular note from watching the TV was listening to the crowd, sounded like magnificent support from the travelling faithful. Well done to all those who travelled and got behind the team. I wish I could join you occasionally and I hope you enjoyed the game.

  4. I agree 100% KookaBoro. This season has been a blast even if the results could have been a bit better. I tried to stay up to watch it live but couldn’t manage and so watched it when I woke up.


  5. “There was a bit of a reaction to the Watford defeat but it was a close game and could have gone either way. ”

    Indeed. and we could have easily lost yesterday (or won). I keep banging on about this, but I’m more interested in how competitive we look – and bar the Everton game and one half of the Spurs game we’ve looked more than competitive so far. And that is nothing to do with ‘blind faith’. It’s basing an opinion on what you’ve seen – which of course others are more than welcome to disagree with.

    1. I agree with BoroPhil: we have yet to be played off the field. Results have often been disappointing, our defence mostly erratic and more error-prone than usual and, despite new recruits, our attack looks no more likely to score than it ever has under AK.

      Nevertheless, nobody has humiliated us. It is not unusual for promoted teams to be destroyed and we’ve seen traumatic scores like 8-0 at times. In the past, we’ve seen teams like Derby and Swindon flounder from the off. There are no signs of that with Boro. Apart from a few poor spells, we have been competitive in every game and, given a few breaks, could have more points on the board.

      A few teams maintain their promotion momentum and start their top flight season like world-beaters – but almost always fade. Far more commonly, promoted teams start off struggling to bridge the gap but then many learn, adapt, improve and ultimately survive.

      Having survived, some consolidate and subsequently make their way into mid-table or even further – witness Southampton, Stoke, Swansea (until recently) and of course, most notably, Leicester. There is every chance that Boro will follow that path.

  6. Borophil

    It is a tough division, easier to get out of than in to.

    Yesterday Everton were playing Burnley off the park then went 1-0 down, they then played them off the park and equalised, continued playing them off the park and lost in the last minute.

    Was it luck? I don’t know but the score reads 2-1 and that is the way it stay be for posterity.

    Whatever, we need some of it, score more than the opposition however we do it.

  7. A bit of perspective is called for here. Yesterday’s game was a vast improvement on what had gone before, yet we still only managed a 0-0 draw. A draw in a game when we were expected to get nothing yes, but just a point nonetheless. Let’s look at it another way. What good is it picking up a point away at Arsenal, when you can’t manage more than a point from games at home to Stoke, Palace and Watford? From memory, SG1’s team managed encouraging performances against the big boys, only to capitulate against the bread and butter teams. We all know how that ended up.

    Yesterday’s game was the equivalent of a free hit in T20 cricket, we might have been clean bowled, we might have hit it for 6. In reality, we scrambled for a single. Why did it take until a match where few give us any chance for AK to finally make the changes that have been crying out to be made for weeks? Has the penny finally dropped, or is there some kind of mental weakness there where only when the pressure is off AK can divorce himself from his totalitarian tactical ideology? Was he expecting defeat anyway, so that he could repeat the ‘I told you so’s’ from starting Rhodes and Nugent at Blackburn last year?

    Back to perspective, anything from yesterday was a bonus. A bonus we sorely needed given recent dire performances and results, but a bonus nonetheless. The performance and actually forcing the opposition keeper into making a save are both long overdue and welcomed. We need to carry it into next Saturday, which is one of those games marked as ‘must win’. If we don’t, yesterday’s result is rendered fairly meaningless. UTB.

  8. The answer is three defensive midfielder’s in front of the back four, plus of course, gibbo and Ayala together in front of goal. Together with our new superfast attacker, it should do the trick.

  9. As BoroPhil and Nigel said, we are yet to be played off the park. We belong to here. See our goal difference. We are not Hull.

    Anyway, we are unbeaten away from home for two visits to London. Not bad in the PL.

    Next step is to get some points from the home matches. So Bournemouth next. Fingers crossed.

    I am not going to worry about things I cannot influence on. So tactics and formations are taken care of by AK. I just support the team. Never ever it has been better to follow Boro than now.

    Up the Boro!

    1. Nah. This is not yet the best time, Jarkko, far from it.

      As well as the obvious ones of 2004 and 2006, my best periods following Boro were the ’67 promotion and afterwards (with the particular added dimension of the birth of the Ayresome Angels); Big Jack’s first 2-3 years; and Robbo’s first season and a half.

      The latter two periods were times when, as well as the successful millennial cup runs, we enjoyed sustained media exposure and national fame. That was new for us Smoggies and we basked in it.

      In contrast, hardly anybody outside Teesside (not yet invented) took much notice of our 60s promotion but it was a highlight for me for several reasons. Firstly, as a teenager, that was when I made the life-changing transition from ‘following’ Boro to it being a DNA thing; the advent of the Angels played a part in this, defining a role and a sense of belonging for us youngsters; lastly, the club had done nothing (other than stagnate) since relegation in ’54 so it was great to have something happening.

      I will do well if I see another of those spells in my time.

      1. Are you my doppelgänger Victor? That is me…1967 and what seemed great games against Torquay Utd eg ( 4 nowt) and in particular, the 4-1 promotion winning match against Oxford Utd featuring Jim Smith I think (att. 243,723 if all those who said they were there are to be believed) leaving an indelible, eternal link to the Boro.

        Gives us a goal John O’Rourke (RIP), He’s here, he’s there Dickie Rooooks and Horsfield is better than Pele…jumpers for goalposts etc…

  10. Sorry for above. I meant Niceboro – not Nigel.

    BTW, I would take Karanka over Mourinho anyday. Man Utd WERE played off the park today.

    More respect to our result of yesterday. Up the Boro!

  11. The bad news is it’s only one point and we’re still five points behind where I expected/hoped we’d be st this stage. The curious disappearance of Rhodes.

    The good news?
    Well, it’s a clean sheet away from home. At Arsenal. There may be an element of after the Lord mayor’s show due to their midweek romp on the European cup, but we can only play the team in front of us.

    The better good news?
    A previous seemingly resistant to change AK embraces a front foot first approach and plays our (only?) player with any pace.

    The great news?
    The return of last years first choice centre back pairing. Young Ben’s form. George’s form. Traore’s full debut, and the chaos he caused. Valdes’s uptick in form. The upturn in morale among the team, bench and supporters as a result of a positive and committed team performance.

    Yes Negredo didn’t score from a couple of decent chances, but as he’s been so starved of onfield company and service this season, I’d forgive him for wondering what the spherical object was for.

    AK surprised me with his team sheet, hopefully we’ll have the same starting 11 and attitude in our next game.

  12. Why didn’t Rhodes feature AV?

    **AV writes: Tactics: AK planned to play with a targetman doing a lot of his work deep and with back to goal. His substitute striker was Nugent.

  13. Borophil

    Yes just a point but most welcome, a point more than expected.

    Talking of points, the key one is till the fact we have dropped points. I mentioned Burnley against Everton yesterday, you can also throw in Burnley against Liverpool, another game they won after being thrashed.

    There are a lot of points to play but we have to gain them.

    I wasn’t being negative just mentioning the situation, I am no chicken runner, we cant get ahead of ourselves. The focus is Bournemouth who will have their own version of charabanc parking. Beware the collapsible Cherry, that is how they got promoted.

  14. Agree it was a good point and, yes, they are all precious.
    We are, however, still short of the point per game average, so it would be good to see us pick up a win or two soon to get us up to speed.
    We need the same intensity we showed yesterday to become the norm and then we can all breath a bit easier.

  15. Isn’t it great to debate over Negredo or Rhodes up front as a lone striker? We have a great squad and it is difficult to believe who we had up-front just three years ago.

    Magnicent. Up the Boro!

  16. Not all points are created equally. I’d rather had taken a point from Watford or Palace, as we’ll be much closer to them than Arsenal come the end of the season. Look at what advantage our record against our promotion rivals last season gave us.

  17. This is exactly the performance the fans wanted to see, nobody had a bad game and I really hoped he would start with Traore throw a curve ball at Arsenal with his pace so it was pleasing to hear the team news, see what happens when we are more positive more forward thinking and forward passes and not the continuous sideways passes then the backwards pass when in the final third that ends up giving possession away and fritters out. Having a huge amount of possession is no good

    Bit puzzled as to why Rhodes was not even on the bench, I can’t help but think if he was up front and not Negredo he would have put one of those chances away, he is a more natural composed finisher but we cannot grumble with a point away to a team that went top with that point, but we cannot get too carried away we must take the momentum into the next game, I would like to see Rhodes start with Traore at home to Bournemouth.

    Headlines Boro Gunner Stay Up? on this evidence yes, but one game at a time.

  18. Nikeboro, I see your point. I started to follow Boro during Big Jack’s era by seeing them on TV. My best era was when I flew over to the UK for the first time in early 1980’s. Terry Cochrane is still my all time favourite player.

    For us unable to buy a season ticket, this is best time to follow Boro. As said earlier, most of us outside the UK can see all matches on TV. Some live but anyway we can see every match now.

    Secondly there is this blog, The Gazette on line, Twitter and other methods to communicate with other fans. Also flying in to the UK to see Boro is cheaper compared to the 1980’s.

    So this is the best time to follow Boro. I hope the success follows us this time around, too.

    I am pretty sure we will survive, and we could even win a cup or two while we’re back in the big league. I believe in Steve Gibson and Aitor Karanka.

    So I am gonna enjoy this season even more than last season. Up the Boro!

  19. AV, do players that don’t make the match day squad ( starting or on the bench) still have to travel, or can they stay at home.

    **AV writes: For away games quite a few travel because Aitor doesn’t usually finalise his team until Friday afternoon. They are usually just doing some gentle stretching or swimming in the team hotel then. That allows him to make any final tweaks or do late fitness tests and get the latest opposition information from their press conference before making a final decision. For home games it is usually just the matchday 18 who come in together but I think all the other players are at the game anyway. Grant travels home and away with the team. He is in the changies beforehand for the team talk.

  20. Well that was game to watch and as I said at the beginning of this blog a few questions would have been answered and they were.

    So – squads not bad, goalie is up to job, Speedy is fast and defence know what to do. Negredo is either out of position or not up to it.

    Home against the cherry pickers will answer the final question – does AK know what he is doing or was this just a fortunate coincidence?

    I am still unsure, but happier knowing that its only the manager in the spotlight – can he motivate, be flexible and inspirational or is he taking up too much room?

    Only a resounding victory this weekend can answer that.

  21. I’m not expecting any resounding victories this year. We’ll nick a few and have a few nicked off us. We’ll play well and get beaten, we’ll lose a load of games where we looked to be comfortable by making silly mistakes and not taking our chances.

    As long as we see the intensity and play with a bit of pace we’ll have a great season. We don’t look out of place in the Prem, we have enough to build on but I don’t think it’s fair to expect or demand that we get a resounding victory over anyone, and Bournemouth look a good side to me.

    I know it won’t be enough for most, and they’re entitled to their opinions. For me though, a clean sheet against Bournemouth would be fantastic, and anything else a bonus. We need to build from the back, we need to cement the basics. We need to stick to our game plan and not get drawn into Bournemouth space.

    I hate to say it but rope-a-dope looks to me like our best chance against most teams this year, home or away.

    Incidentally I’d love to see Rhodes start but I suspect Negredo is now part of the defensive plan. I don’t see how he’s ever going to score when his main job is holding up play on the half way line, but I doubt we’d have kept a clean sheet at the Emirates if Negredo hadn’t been first choice.

    1. I am usually one of Negredos defenders on here but I have to say that what I saw on Saturday over the full 90 minutes was neither good enough or composed enough. He had good support from Ramirez and Traore who caused Arsenal some serious problems and whilst he can maybe point out that had Traore crossed instead of shooting he may have had even more opportunity but what he did have is as good as it gets at this level and he didn’t impress.

      Defensively Barragan had a better game than of late and considering it was against Arsenal at the Emirates that is no mean feat. I believe the reason why was because of Traore taking pressure off him rather than congesting things at the back. Stuani does get back but not greatly effective defensively (switches off and loses his man) and not really a release or an outlet offensively. Traore’s pace meant Arsenal were nervous and worried about him so they didn’t push on as they knew one through ball out of our defence and they would be toast.

      I think Stuani is more likely to convert than Negredo, no scientific evidence or data for that but Negredo’s one goal came off his shoulder whilst Stuani has had a few goals from his head and feet since arriving. I know it may be painful to swallow that our best striker perhaps isn’t our best Striker after all but Forshaw has forced his way in when the opportunity presented itself I think the same equality of chance should be shown to our Strikers.

      Rhodes buzzes around a lot more and I think is a better match for Traore and Ramirez in linking up, great at taking 6 yard chances but has been suspect on one on ones admittedly. Nugent has the best pace and probably in training the nearest one to Traore on sprints but again on one on ones he has fluffed his lines. Stuani is the best finisher but lacks pace but he can dish it out and after Negredo is the least likely to get pushed around by opposition CB’s.

      Tough call but I would rest Negredo and take him out of the firing line and put in Stuani or Rhodes. I personally would go with Rhodes. Before we signed him I questioned that he is not a Karanka style lone striker but he is here and has nicked some vital goals for us, MK Dons, Bolton etc. Before minds are fully made up I think he should be given the chance to prove that he can (or cannot) do it for us at this level with the same level of opportunity that Negredo has been given to date. To not do so would be both unfair and potentially a seriously rash decision. Traore was considered too rash and not quite the finished product until the Emirates performance.

      Up until Saturday AK had been inflexible and rigid in thought and tactics. He now needs to embrace that same invigorating open mindedness to all areas of the pitch and personnel (AK and invigorating in the same sentence from me takes some doing).

      He got things about as far right on Saturday as he has wrong in a few games (opinions again) this season. If he gets them a bit more right and looks at what let us down in a few areas and improves on it and then what nearly let us down and so on and continues to refine and improve then things should yield better returns. I say “should” but that depends on an open mind, good enough and you stay in, drop below the standard accepted and you drop out, no favours, no egos, no price tags and no favourites.

  22. I would say that apart from one heart-in-the-mouth moment, that was the best game we have seen from Valdes so far, including some good saves.

    Probably the best team display this season and if we had played with that intensity, effort and elan during our other games this term, we’d be higher up the league than we are.

    Gibson and Ayala were good and, on the evidence of this weekend, I’d rather keep Gibson in my squad than have Stones.

    Negredo should have won the game at the end but required two touches when one should have sufficed, which allowed time for the tackle/block to come in. Even then, if he’s pulled the ball back, the tackle would either have missed or we would have had a penalty.

    Traore (“an impact player….fast but not a footballer”) could not have had a better game unless he had scored. If you are going to have an impact, have one early, and then make the other team worry about YOU, about the pace so they will avoid taking liberties but feel constrained to have one eye on that lightning player who can break so fast as to put the other team under pressure. Only played 361 minutes senior football in his career and 155 of those have been at Boro? That suggests the possibility of rapid improvement after he has played 10 games, 40 games etc, Until he gets a few consecutive starts nobody can say what he will be like later on. Let’s not just assume that he can’t do it – the glass is allowed o be half full. He MIGHT be a massive talent and it wouldn’t be the first time the professionals have got it wrong (eg Beardsley, Ian Wright, Tony Book etc).

    A little left-field sleight of hand from Karanka is always welcome. There are no gold medals issued for stubbornness. Nothing wrong with a change, and this time it worked a treat.

    All in all, an uplifting result but it is only worthwhile if we should go on to show improvement next week as well, and get points against Bournemouth.

  23. My morning paper shows Watford may be in trouble over an alleged fake letter submitted prior to the takeover in 2014. Fine and/or points deduction may result following investigation. There again they may be ok.

    My bad back flared up yesterday so I spent the day horizontal, just caught up to find close to 100 mark. even closer now.

  24. Even closer to the 100 mark.

    I noticed much debate about what the formation was on Saturday. 4141, 4231, 451, 433.

    Doesn’t matter it is the intent that counts as much as anything but I would be wary of playing de Roon, Clayton and Forshaw at home. It will work if someone like Spurs or Everton come, Burnley and Bournemouth showed that last Saturday.

    Bournemouth are the visitors so I expect a similar match to the last meeting at the Riverside where Bournemouth sat back waiting for us to commit footballing hari kari. We refused to do so and it ended in a stalemate.

    They are a very well drilled side with very good footballers, ability to break at pace. The key is the first part of that.

    When they beat us 3-0 the first goal was a hoof down the pitch we didn’t deal with so they are not afraid to go long. When a good footballing side does that it is a long pass, when Wimbledon played the same pass it was a hoof.

    I expect them to sit deep. another 0-0 is not out of the question

  25. Post when you’re losing, you only post when you’re losing.

    Your’e not posting anymore.

    Shall I write a post for you.


  26. This PL business is a bit of a slow burner with just one game a week, plus yet another two-week international snoozefest soon approaching – despite the clocks not changing yet, there are now only eight games before the big geezer in the red onesie with a white beard shows up – though I’m hoping for some early gifts from the opposition in the coming weeks.

    Anyway, I see the blog defence went awol and allowed Ian to walk the ball into the net – I don’t know who’s got the weaker spine, Team Untypical or Ian 😉

  27. Werder

    It is a poor show when I can hobble unmolested and slot home. I am on Co-codamol and Ibruprofen, is that on the prohibited list, should I have got a Therapeutic Use Exemption?

    Talking of prohibited substances, not only did the Ed Stone go missing, so did the invoice! Labour must have got advice on paperwork from Watford.

    1. AV, are there any doping tests on the blog? I know de Roon had one and missed the train recently. Up the Boro!

      **AV writes: I suspect if we did random dope tests there would be lots of posters testing positive.

  28. AV, Superb images on Tumblr but the young man with the child in the door swing looks later than pre-war with that haircut. Definitely not a short back and sides. Keep ’em coming.



  29. Statement by Kinky of the ‘Boro Premiership Journalist Suite’:

    The other girls and I wish to respond to the suggestion that we have banned Vic, Phil, Dom and Jono from discussing football in their suite because we find the subject boring. I don’t see that as what happened at all.

    Yes, the guys did start to use the suite to record a video discussion about recent Boro games, and they got several minutes in, and yes, OK, we did find it absolutely unbearable and were forced to interrupt.

    Where to start? The complete lack of tactical understanding, the farcical misjudgements of players and their performances, the naivety about the oppositions’ game plans, and Jono’s constant agonising over how to rate Roary in marks out of ten. (I don’t know why, as he gives Roary 10 every week, and Mark Page 0, which Pagey says is down to a corrupt relationship – apparently Roary sneaks Jono a steady supply of the kids’ lollipops.)

    To be fair, it would be wrong to say that the guys know nothing about sport. They seem to be extremely interested in horse racing and women’s beach volleyball. But football?

    In the end, we felt we had to point out to them a few of the most obvious deficits in their analysis, until Phil commented on the ‘lack of professional conduct’ of the hostesses, and then Debs said someone would have a ‘lack of front teeth soon’ (and they don’t tend to argue with Debs since they found out she used to be a mud wrestler).

    Anyway, the guys stormed out in a strop saying that they would never make another video in the suite again…

    1. Interesting take on events, Mark – much better than that stuff Ian comes out with (Spartak smiles with tongue in cheek knowing poor OLD Ian is probably still stuck in bed sucking on paracetamols, nursing his poor OLD bad back) 🙂

      Yet I do believe it is just a touch unrealistic due to the fact that if Mrs AV ever found out he’d probably be limping into the Gazette Towers wearing his cajones around his neck as a necklace – then again who knows 🙂

  30. Spartan
    Everything was going well then I asked for some advice from Rockcliffe. Back in bed I am afraid’ two paracetamol and run it off didn’t work.
    I phoned them back and they said it didn’t work for Christies and Thomsons broken legs either.
    Hey ho

    1. Ian

      I recall reading Les Dawson’s autobiography ‘No Tears for the Clown’ (in the days when clowns were not so scary). In it he described a discussion with his wife as they lay sick in bed – the ailments of later years. He said that after all the years of struggle, trials and tribulations that they had finally made the big time but due to old age and ill health they were not able to appreciate the gifts that fame and fortune had given them, or words to that effect. And so it is with most of us.

      I found that my initial belief that the man was both hugehly talented, humble and had a great care for people was confirmed upon reading the book.

      He stated that he started his career in a Parisian brothel playing the piano. He said when he played the wrong notes HE would complain to the audience which in turn drew great laughs and thus his true calling in life were discovered.

      Throughout the ages I don’t think there has been a greater service than that provided from the comedian, for they when in the groove can transform what is often, and I quote Hobbs a ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short life’, into one of temporary forgetfulness and merriment.

      Hope you improve rapidly and upon recovery see the error of your ways and vote Corbyn4PM when the time comes – surely sooner than later with the obvious lack of common sense the present PM and her government possess, or not as the case maybe.

      Happy days

      Halas Habibi

  31. There seems to be a determined push from the media to see a Premier League footballer to come out as being gay.

    It would appear this bandwagon is gaining pace and everyone is trying to jump on it.

    We’ve had the Andre Gray ban for tweets he made four years ago and now we have a “survey” saying 8% of fans (based on 2500 polled) would stop supporting their team if they signed a gay player.

    Do fans really care what the sexuality of a player is? Perhaps a small minority would come out with offensive chants, but no more than the racist ones we still have.

    This incessant pressure is having the reverse effect, i get the impression there are more than a few agendas at play here.

    1. If he scored 25 goals a Season for Boro I couldn’t care less about how, who, why, were and what he preferred. If he was useless he would get stick just the same as any and every other player but therein lies the difference. From me and I think all the others on here any angst, frustration or verbals would be because of wearing boots on the wrong feet, cows backsides and banjo’s or barn doors etc.but the “8%” of course would have to vent their spleen and I guess that is what prevents a “coming out” from professionals in the game.

      A players skin shade is something that is obvious and cannot be denied (nor shouldn’t), religious beliefs are usually well known and practised openly but of course unless tabloids are hanging about outside a hotel at 4.00am evidence on preferences are usually speculative at best so keeping the public in the dark is the easiest option. In any case it is absolutely none of our business and most of us are not even remotely interested.

      On another note I note the new “Gazette live” pages are now loading like its 2016, at this rate of speed I may even do them the courtesy of switching off my adblocker.

  32. Statistically reported there are more Sikhs in the UK than gay men. I’d like to know why more footballers aren’t coming out as Sikhs? What efforts are made by the FA and the EPL to encourage young men in the Sikh community to become professional footballers? There are Sikhs in cricket and damn fine players they are – why not football? Any problem with a Sikh goalkeeper playing for England? Not in my book. What counts for me is not colour, race, sexual orientation or religion but ability.

    Just sayin like

    **AV Writes: There has been suggestions (mainly anecdotal rather than hard data) that many socially conservative and educationally driven Asian families don’t encourage their kids to play sports as it would interfere with time when they could be doing homework. Junior football is seen as being time consuming and with little social/economic return.

  33. GHW

    You are right, certain sections of the media are just on the lookout for a story. for whatever reason they would be happy to flush people out and once they have done so will make their lives misery.

    **AV Writes: N in the sports journalist side. We don’t give a monkeys. Tabloid newspapers would only be bothered if it was a big name. They got excited a few years ago when a “star international player at a big name club” was about to be “unveiled” as gay. It turned out to be Robbie Rogers who had played a handful of games for the USA and Leeds and everyone said: Who?” and “So what?” so it was all a bit of a damp squib for them.

    1. I think football is an interesting microcosm to discuss homosexuality. It would be absurd to suggest gay men don’t play football, but the blanket silence within the men’s game is a bit weird.

      On a personal level it’s none of our business of course, but this is a hyper-marketed mainstream entertainment industry now, and the entertainment business has never had a problem with homosexuality. Our wider society moved on long ago too. Football just seems a bit awkward and embarrassed, pretending it’s not there.

      It’s totally different in the women’s game, so football isn’t anti-homosexuality per se. There were many openly gay players at the women’s world cup, and there are tons of gay clubs at an amateur level.

      Football has always been a world of contradictions though. We castigate foreigners for diving whilst screaming for free kicks and penalties whenever anyone touches one of our own players, wherever they’re from. We complain about lightweight fancy dan show ponies whilst millions copy their tattoos and hairstyles. We used to idolise hard men who put in crunching tackles whilst stinking of cigarettes, still half-cut from a bender. Todays footballers have become models, advertising skin cream.

      Anyway, sport has always had homoerotic undertones and don’t get me started on the shared baths and shower rooms! I’m sure half the population was put off sport at a very young age because of the latent sexual threat that preceded and followed the activity itself.

      Sport has been the only ‘condoned’ form of physical contact tolerated between men for generations, and from my experience those who have the biggest problem with homosexuality are usually those with the most latent interest in it.

    2. AV

      Most of the stings and scoops seem to come from news journalists who only seem interested in getting a story whatever the costs, implications and damage then move on to another target.

      The supposed 8% of fans who would boycott their team in reality are probably a tiny minority, many people only ‘vote’ on things they have a strong view about. Those who don’t give a monkeys about a sportsman’s personal life don’t vote or fill in the survey.

  34. Maybe some people who go to football grounds are worried that they’ll see grown men hug and kiss each other… err hang on a minute… isn’t that the moment that they are all hoping they are going to see from their team?

  35. The lack of differences of opinions,arguments and debates this week on here just shows what a decent performance can do in terms of galvanising opinions. Its timely that Ben Gibson’s call for the fans to get behind the team comes after that Emirates display. It wasn’t an all out attacking line up to please the purists but nor was it a dour, despairing 0-0 that sucked the life, heart and soul of those masses in attendance and watching from afar.

    We didn’t expect to win the Premiership, win a Cup or qualify for European football but in the words of Ben’s Uncle we did expect to “give it a go”. We haven’t been on the end of any thumping’s but Saturday had predictable “Thumping” all the way through it like a stick of rock yet the opposite happened. All that was needed was a dodgy offside flag or a perfectly good penalty claim to blame the officials and we could have said we wuz robbed. As it happens we weren’t robbed but we did deserve the point and had we nicked it I don’t think many would have complained.

    For the first time this season I saw a performance worthy of the shirt, eerrr maybe not, badge nah lets not go there either but you know what I mean. Free flowing positive attacking football it wasn’t but it was undeniably entertaining and enjoyable to watch as we played with strength, dignity, determination and most importantly of all desire which gave hope.

    Even neutrals enjoyed it as a David versus Goliath type spectacle with the little one emerging unscathed after he was supposed to be battered into submission. Thats all the fans want to see, a Boro side that takes the inevitable blows and cynicism that everyday Teesside life throws at us but like true Teessiders never say die and get back up off the canvas time after time. Spurs at home, 2-0 down but when the substitutions were made and it was clear that we were not going to go down without a bloody nose that day the fans raised the decibel levels to a Riverside Premiership all time high.

    Life on Teesside for many is as tough and probably tougher than anywhere else in the UK none more so than right now. Whilst pampered Southern Bankers worry about how many zero’s are on their post brexit ill gotten bonus checks Steel families on Teesside are going to food banks to try and make what little redundancy they they have left stretch with the thought of another unemployed Christmas looming quickly in the not so distant future. A little bit of miniscule reflected glory on the area does wonders for morale, local pride and the hope that a Teesside seen basking in glory may just tip a boardroom decision somewhere in the world to come here and bring jobs with them. The two are so tightly and intrinsically linked it goes way beyond AK’s tactics, someone missing a sitter or a Ref having a stinker.

    Right now Teesside is as low as it can get, those with “nowt” have even less if that is even imaginable. Anyone who stands tall and proud and fights with all their heart and soul for the area will always be backed, cheered and supported, more so if they go the extra mile. Making the Riverside a cauldron isn’t difficult in an area steeped in mining, chemicals, smog, hot rivets and white molten steel. Shortened life expectancy was and still is the fate of many who have stood on the terraces at Ayresome and in the relative plasticised comfort of the Riverside.

    Memories of generations of Dads, Granddads and Great Grandads with badges of ingrained dirt and sweat earned through their stubborn bloody minded pride at huge personal cost are immortal mental tattooed images for those shouting, cheering, swearing and singing their hearts out for the Boro. If those in Red shirts show the same passion, pride, determination and bloody mindedness on the pitch then what Pochettino witnessed will be eclipsed by a wall of noise and pride. Middlesbrough is a tough audience, the most difficult of nuts to crack, Teessiders have had to be like that to survive but show them willing and honest endeavour and they will give you their hearts and undying support. If Ben wants a cauldron then all the players and AK have to do is continue where they left off on Saturday for 90 minutes.

    1. Brought a tear to my eye Red.

      More of the same on Saturday and everyone will be happy. In a way it’s a shame we’re not playing Man City next. A plucky performance against another of the Big Boys could cement this newfound sense of who they are. I fear Bournemouth will play this one cannily and we’ll end up forcing the game, leaving ourselves exposed.

      As long as there’s a bit of spirit I’ll accept the result whatever it is. I worry many will be expecting a win though and I don’t think that’s as easy as it sounds.

    2. RR

      Stop. Enough, already.

      Must we have this constant whining. The club management(an oxymoron) for many years drove the club into a black hole, what could be done badly, was. Recruitment, man management, selling(it got to the stage that we were glad to get a book tokens for any of our players), development of our youngsters(nonexistent).

      During all this time(years) our crowd melted silently away(aprox. 4-5 years). During all this time, the club and the press with one accord said, and I quote, ‘ it’s because they have no money’. Que some sign of intelligent and reasoned management, and guess what, the crowd was back in short order. To still be playing the beggar on any and every occasion is beyond a joke, and I might say, embarrassing.

      Before I close, just a word on the Steel plant. It has been closed down three times, each time reopened by a chancer who blagged a quick twenty million off the government(that’s us). Each of those chancers ran for the hills after a few years, no doubt quite a lot richer.

      I seems to me that the local authorities should hit the Euro. Parliament for about a billion to raze it to the ground and landscape the damned thing. At least they would be taking charge of their own destinies.

      1. Plato

        When you live here and see families and proud men broken, some sadly who struggled to handle things and took things into their own hands then believe me it is not whining on any level, very far from it. I’m guessing you haven’t gone through the ignominy of going to a food bank to feed and clothe those nearest and dearest to you after having worked your entire life. I haven’t but I realise how lucky I am compared to others much less fortunate.

        What the Club historically done is an entirely different matter and was self inflicted. Ben has asked for the fans to get behind them, the challenge is in the Club giving the fans something to believe in, fight for and get behind them.

  36. Smog

    If we can score early we stand a chance but I am expecting Bournemouth to be set up to frustrate, as I posted earlier I wouldn’t be surprised at 0-0.

    1. Agreed. I’d settle for a clean sheet. Anything else is a bonus.

      I just worry that’s not enough for most, and if the crowd gets nervous and we lose our shape we will probably go behind.

      That said, another stirring Spurs-type change of plan would raise a few pulses too, of course…

      1. The advantage is that the Cherries don’t know which Boro will line up. Up until Saturday we were as predictable as my dear departed dads Vernons pools coupon, same numbers each and every week and still won beggar all!

        Will AK revert back to the same old format that has failed us in the Premiership apart from Sunderland away and lets face it that is hardly a ringing endorsement. Our away form has been acceptable enough to keep us up, its our Home form where all the problems lie to date.

        AK showed at the Emirates that he will bend and flex if not exactly change but I’m guessing the success of that could encourage another surprise. If Traore starts the cat is already out of the bag now with his speed so I’m certain Eddie Howe will have factored that into their game plan. Either way it means someone (like as not more than one) will be told to keep back and don’t stray too far up the pitch.

        Ramirez wide left again where he enjoyed his best game this season may continue but I’d fancy Downing then to come into the middle with the same mindset as Saturday but with Downing better able to feed our “front 3” and having a marginally more offensive midfield. Suspect it may be Forshaw who loses out centrally.

        Up top Negredo may get a last chance to prove himself with both Nugent and Rhodes on the bench. If he can’t deliver with Ramirez and Downing then Traore on fire and providing the same or an even greater level of intent then he never will.

  37. The weekends fixtures may provide an opportunity to open a gap on some our rivals.

    Sunderland are at home to Arsenal on Saturday lunchtime. Saturday afternoon sees Burnley at Old Trafford, Watford and Hull face each other, West Brom host Man City, Palace at home to Liverpool while on Sunday West Ham are away to Everton finishing off with Stoke v. Swansea on Monday night.

  38. Redcar Red

    As you say, an intriguing set of fixtures. The main part is us doing our job.

    I do hope Forshaw doesn’t give way, he hasn’t let us down. De Roon and Clayton have not played well enough to displace him.

    I hope Stuani doesn’t return in place of Traore, I would settle for a front four of Traore, Ramirez and Downing in support of Negredo.

    I listened to David Pleat on radio 5 and he was asked about the line ups at United v Citeh and his view was it was all about the players doing it on the pitch with the right attitude. Didn’t realise he followed my posts!

      1. I hope to see Rhodes, too. But it’s AK’s job to choose. We don’t see who is fit and what happens in training. We could just wish.

        Up the Boro!

    1. My reasoning for AK dropping Forshaw for Downing is that Forshaw is the more creative whilst the other two (Clayts and de Roon) are more defensive and I couldn’t see Forshaw and Downing in an AK team with only one defensive CM behind/alongside.

      Clayton had a good game at the Emirates and like many of the others de Roon had his best game to date as well.

      Meanwhile I see the Cheeky Chappies have kicked off again tonight with chairs being smashed up and thrown at away fans in the Tax Payers Bowl. Still its only a few boisterous lads enjoying the game and no different to anywhere else apparently in 2016 innit!

      No doubt Uncle Trev will help to sort things out with the suits to ensure no points deductions and probably a measly fine (which the tax payer will end up paying) to make fings all pwoper like!

      Altogether now “I’m forever frowing bottles, pretty bottles in the air.”

      “have you ever seen a Copper in the ground, have you ever seen a Copper in the ground”

  39. Redcar Red and Plato

    Maybe Steve Gibson could bring Bulk Haul fabrication back to Teesside. Too late to replace German steel with British at the Riverside.

    Just a sort of passing comment like.

    1. Ian
      I have no opinions about which factories close and which don’t.
      the whole point of my blog was that all who work in industry are at the mercy of circumstances over which they have no control. Cadbury chocolate workers, great demand for their product, but it made no difference, they still went the journey.
      ICI, a great company making lots of money, simply told their employees that they were leaving the area, end of. And they did.
      the people of the one industry towns do not go on about what happened to them, it is not healthy, they have moved on, all the Dockers who were brutally displaced by containerisation, moved on. And I believe we have moved on, thank goodness.

  40. ‘Until Wednesday’s match, the Metropolitan Police have not deployed officers inside the stadium because the radio system emergency services use to communicate will not be operational until 2017.’

    So there we have it. I don’t know which is worse, having a stadium without a communication system or no police deployed because there isn’t one. What a mess.

    1. Its not a mess, its negligence in the legal sense.

      Foreseeable, expected and preventable but deliberately overlooked/ignored.

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