Supporters Star At Big Boro Birthday Party


HAPPY birthday Boro…  Red Faction set the mood for the club’s 140th anniversary with a super set piece spectacular display and the team responded with a great display. The first win of the season put a cherry on the top of a good week that yielded four points and lifted Boro back up to a healthy spot on the point a game survival trajectory. Excellent.

Here’s my colour bit in which I hail the Red Faction and award them the man of the match bubbly. Well deserved. They have been brilliant in the past few years.

And here’s my player ratings for the game. I expected flak for giving my top mark to Victor Valdes but it seems to have met with general approval.  There have been a a few quibbles on one of two of the other marks though. What do you think?


What we said before the game….

BORO have to build on the Arsenal euphoria by beating Bournemouth. They have to cash in the feelgood dividend from fans after a morale-boosting display of steely resolve and *almost* potent counter-attacking punch. Much improved Boro were a whisker away from kick-starting the season with a famous victory. It was a game that hinted at promise if they could only tweak the sharp end a fraction. But now it is time to make that count.

A draw will leave Boro chugging along in the slow lane, watching in the rear-mirror for any one of the strugglers putting on a spurt and scouring other results and making complex calculations and points projections for ‘three teams worse than us’. But a win will catapult Boro back up onto the all important point a game survival curve.


It will take us up to the 10 games mark. It is time to win at home. It is time to kick-start the season. The Red Faction are planning a biggest ever  set-piece spectacular display before kick-off. The fans have been brilliant so far but had little to show for their emotional investment at home up to now. Ben Gibson has urged the supporters to create a hostile atmosphere with a huge Riverside Roar. It is time for the team to provide a spark for that explosive noise and colour with the taste of victory at the Riverside.

Usual drill….. predict away. I’m going for a 2-0  Boro win. It won’t be easy mind.

Meanwhile, here’s a quick flick through some recent Bournemouth battles.




265 thoughts on “Supporters Star At Big Boro Birthday Party

  1. Champion’s League City and Premier League City are different beasts. Let us not forget that Barcelona are the best team in Europe, and as such do not sit deep and flood the midfield, whether they play home or away. Their guile is typically enough to keep the opposition at bay, especially with the tactical fouling at the half way line or in the oppositions half.

    City therefore had acres of space to attack into, and didn’t have a deep bank of 4 with 3 compact midfielders in front. If you replicate our Arsenal tactics you give De Bruyne and Silva far less space to play in, although with their calibre you can never prevent them getting behind you 100% of the time. Also, as De Bruyne showed, they have enough players who can hit a dead ball, or a worldie from 30 yards out, that Valdez is likely to be a busy boy whatever happens.

    The key will undoubtedly be Traore. Fortunately with Ramirez being banned it seems almost impossible that AK would countenance swapping him out for Stuani, which is a major blessing. Who replaces Ramirez will be a question however. Logic would dictate that AK will go for Downing, with De Roon or Leadbitter coming in to the 3rd midfield berth. However I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Fischer or even Nugent (!!!) coming in to that wide berth to capitalise on their pace. It might be too much of a risk for AK to go with two young wingers though, so perhaps Fischer is wishful thinking.

    I am quite looking forward to Traore vs. Zabaleta and/or Otamendi though – if we can get him enough ball I think we could easily see City reduced to 10 men.

  2. AV

    I don’t think Burnley are more attacking, I think they take more of their chances than we do which was the point I was making rather poorly. What is more Heaton is having a storming season in goal

    I had a quick look yesterday but didn’t post because of likely incoming abuse but in games against the ‘top’ league Burnley have played four (Lpool, Arsenal, Everton at home and ManU away), we have played three (Everton and Arsenal away, Spurs at home).

    Across those games Burnley averaged just under averaged 7 shots per game, Boro just under 8. They score one in seven, us one in 12.

    They average 29% possession and us 39%.

    At the other end of the pitch they concede 26 shots per game and us 14.

    Now stats can tell all sorts of pork pies as Doreen Tipton showed in her partly political broadcast but Burnley got seven points out of twelve and us one out of nine. That means we need six points from the Citeh match.

    The truth is we don’t work the keeper enough and we don’t convert enough of the chances we make. Now that is no great surprise to any of us.

    Burnley don’t actually play two up front, the second ‘striker’ plays in the five man midfield and occasionally wanders beyond the halfway line.

    I will get my coat.

  3. Blimey I’d be dancing with joy if we get 3pts from the next three. I’m something of a hopeless optimist (which I think qualifies me as an Ultra now?). I have a lot or respect for AK and what Boro are trying to do, and I’m really proud of the turnaround within the club under AK’s leadership (and that of many others behind the scenes of course).

    But I’m not expecting anything from City, Chelsea or Leicester!

    I want to see us put up a fight and match them physically and emotionally. I want to see energy and belief. I want to see concentration and determination. Solid defending with a bit of pace and threat on the counter and I’ll be happy as Larry.

    If we get all that and zero points I will not be too disheartened, though I suspect if we get all that we may scrape a point or two, which would be absolutely fantastic.

  4. My spreadsheet says zero points in November and that we are three points behind the curve at present.

    Hoping, but not expecting, for one win from City, Chelsea or Leicester. Realistically though, I’m with The Smoglodyte and will be satisfied with three spirited displays that provide confidence if not points.

    I wouldn’t rule out a win or a couple of draws though.

  5. Gents, I’m more than happy to put my opinion forward. In general terms its my opinion that AK is doing an excellent job, he’s taken us from the brink of relegation to League one to the Prem in short order.
    He’s done that by creating a defence tighter than a tight thing, which is the starting point from which all the best/successful coaches start from, he’s then continuing to build on that to create a team that can score a few. There is clearly room for improvement (more goals), but these things take time (several transfer windows) in order to build a squad.

    In the Premiership so far Boro have done in points terms pretty much as I expected, there have been disappointing results such as drawing with Stoke and losing to Palace and Watford.

    I don’t blame AK for any of those disappointing results because from what I have seen the Boro players have been responsible due to their collective errors, which to me seem beyond the managers immediate control.

    You will never see me criticising any manager after a run of ‘bad’ results, because as I’ve said before finding a scapegoat is easy, seeing the reality is very different.

    The Boro have improved significantly as far as I can see from West Ham onward, that said we should have won at West Ham, their goal was a car crash resulting from a series of defensive errors from various Boro players, again out of AK’s hands in the immediate term.

    Against Arsenal he altered his tactics/formation and got a good result, but to say the tactics/formation change was the reason for the good result would be wrong. It was also because the team played well and started to believe in themselves. Against Bournemouth he quickly switched to the usual 4231 and we won comfortably, same tactics, same formation, much better incisive belief infused performance from the players.

    What AK has done is given the players a style of play which they know and buy into, a formation they know inside out and now he’s getting them to believe in themselves. He’s also managed to keep us playing tightly and not conceding many which I believe is ultimately what will keep us up. The teams that get relegated are the ones which ship tonnes of goals. That’s why I’d be worried if we were a Hull or Sunderland.
    AK is also brutally fair with his players, there are no stars, its shape up or ship out with him, any under performers are dropped and they all know it. This feeds into a strong team ethic, vital to all successful teams.

    So, to summarise, I think AK is an excellent manager, clearly he’ll make mistakes because he’s human and also inexperienced, but we as fans wont always recognise those mistakes because we’re amateurs and don’t always know what to look for.

    Reference my spats with Redcar, I dislike blame culture, I think its destructive and damaging, which is why when I perceive blame being levelled that I get tetchy. You may also notice that I don’t like opinion written in the style of fact. Those are both my issues to deal with, nobody else’s.

    I’d love to see Boro playing a Barcelonaesque style of expansive football but in order to do that you need Messi, Suarez, Neymar et al in your team, sadly they’ll never play for the Boro.
    Our current style is fine by me, to date this season I’ve seen plenty of attacking football from Boro, I agree seeing the ball go sideways in midfield can be frustrating but all teams do it sometimes. Barcelona v Inter in the champions league for example, sometimes the other team force you in to it.

    As for the City match, my first thought after seeing last nights match was to hide behind the sofa on Saturday, but then Barcelona’s defending was shocking, Boro’s wont be. I expect us to lose, we may lose 3-0 or whatever, but we might not. This is the Premier League, every team has a chance, which is why I don’t believe in points from unexpected sources or indeed points from expected sources.

    Personally, I’m loving being back in the Prem, its great and sometimes I don’t understand why everyone isn’t, again my issue.

    Sorry for such a long post!

    1. Agree Nigel, when opinions are presented as facts it detracts from the post.

      Personally when I come across ” as I said previously” or ” see my post of …” I tend to stop reading and skip to the next commenter.

      We seem to be getting bogged down lately with in depth analysis to try and prove certain positions.

      I much preferred the light hearted irreverent blog of the past.

    2. NR
      a great post,i could go on at some length but a few observations to be going on with.
      first, the manager, if you listen to his statements it’s possible to get some idea of his mind set.
      when being interviewed, and the subject of relegation being raised, he said,’ we will not be relegated’ end of quote. I found that very reassuring, no flannel about how tough it all was, great.
      study the work going on in the transfer market, great volumes of players, both coming and going, endless sifting and sorting, who saw Traora coming? and more important, how good is he?
      I had my doubts about the keeper, I was wrong.
      I think Negredo is worth his place, and possibly better than that.
      that’s enough to be going on with.

  6. The Premier League is tough and it does not come tougher than Man City away. But it also shows how far we have come.

    We know what is our first eleven at the moment. But how do you feel we would do in the Championship with the following “second” team:

    Dimi (or Guzan)
    Husband, Espinosa, Ayala, Nsue
    Leadbitter, Clayton (de Sart)
    Nugent (Pena), Fisher, Stuani.

    I think our second team could do quite well in the Championship. And they are all good enough as back-up at the PL now.

    Just shows how good team we have. Just saying, like.

    Up the Boro!

    1. I am not convinced that de Pena is good enough for the Premier League though I am more than happy for him to prove me wrong, and he might be good enough for a top Championship team. And I am told that Espinosa “limps when he runs” which doesn’t sound very promising but suggests he is a permacrock.

      That apart, I think your second team would put up a good show in the Championship. I suspect Rhodes would score quite a few goals there, but we may not get to see how many he would score in the Premier League, through lack of opportunity.

  7. We’re only two points where I thought we’d be, with a sum of zero points predicted from the next three games.
    If we get three points form the next three then happy days indeed as we’ll be a point ahead of the season’s curve. Though three points from three games may see us drop into the bottom three, the important reaction will be not to panic. Frankly even a point from our next three games will see me celebrating.

    1. Same here, my quantum interactive ever changing spread sheet now shows us 2 points ahead of the 36 prediction – mainly due to those results against teams who have now drifted upwards.

      So 38 is looking good.

  8. Chris

    I would be pleased at three points but you never know.

    It will be intriguing to see how we line up on Saturday without Ramirez. My guess would be similar to Arsenal but Stewie on the left to replace Ramirez.

    I don’t expect to see Stuani starting.

  9. I have us 2 points behind my predictions so far and had predicted 1 point that we will gain in November. So if we do get 3 points out of the month, it will put us right back on the (my) curve.

    I’m quietly excited about Saturdays fixture. Not sure if we will deliver the coupon-busting shock, but I am really looking forward to see if we really have acclimatised to the Premier League and take on Citeh as equals, regardless of the outcome. Performance and attitude are far more important in this game to me than the result – even if we win.

    Here is hoping the Barca result will go to City’s collective head and they kick off believing that victory against Boro is their’s by right, just for having got to Maine Road (sorry I meant the un-spell-able Commonwealth stadium) in time for kick off.

  10. I’d like to see Nugent start on the left, leave Downing more central and the rest of the team unchanged. My brother suggests Downing will revert to the left with Forshaw pushed up and with Grant stepping in.

    I do worry about Grant’s pace. I have no doubts about his attitude.

  11. Man City had just returned from warm weather training in Abu Dhabi or something last time we robbed them at their place in the FA Cup 0-2. Remember Kike scoring?! Genuinely heart warming.

    Anything could happen here. We could lose an early goal and watch the wobbles come back into a side that was genuinely struggling only a few games ago. We could easily lose by 3 or 4 and end up fighting with each other again. City are awesome. Aguero is amazing. If they could keep him fit he could be the difference every year at the top of the table. I never had much time for Sterling but he’s a different player under Pepe. De Bruyne? Top class. Oh and Silva.

    I could see any scoreline from from 4-0 to 0-2 if we play a blinder and they fall for the same trick again. But we’re in decent form, spirits seem high, no-one expects us to land a punch and they’ve just got back from an emotional Champs League game. It’s a good a time to play them as we’re going to get.

    This is the reward for all that hard work getting out of the Championship. We should just enjoy it for the show case it is.

  12. From what I saw last night De Bruyne is the danger man, then there are the other ten……

    I remember being at the Riverside a good number of seasons ago to watch Boro play Utd when Utd were in their pomp. I watched Cantona, Scholes etc warm up and thought jeez we’re going to get slaughtered.

    We won 3-0, you just never know.

  13. It is a “shot to nothing” game for Boro. If we lose, everyone would say that was absolutely what was expected. We don’t paddle in those luxurious Champions League waters and a defeat would not harm our survival prospects as nobody would have factored in any Boro points from the fixture. If we lose by 2 goals we are as good as Barcelona (!!).

    On the other hand a draw would be a great result and a win would be an unbelievable bonus which would make people turn their heads and recognise that we really have turned the corner. Premier League survival would not be guaranteed but we would all feel much more confident about it in those circumstances.

    We have all to gain and nothing to lose. All the pressure will be on City, and there might be a little bit of “after the Lord Mayor’s Show” about it following their result and performance last night against Barca. Let’s hope so. These are the games we wanted to be in the Premier League, to see.

    So, with a healthy bit of trepidation but leavened with a tinge of hope, “bring it on”! At least I hope that is what the manager and players are thinking.

  14. Absolutely. I wish I was there. I love the away games like this, they’re easier to watch in a lot of ways. You can just have a beer and enjoy the football, even if it’s all them.

    I don’t expect a result, but three more good performances and most of us will be delighted, and agree that we’ve turned a corner.

    Of course, all the noise in the press will say that we’re struggling for form, on a slide of straight defeats. They never put much effort into the context.

    I’m already dreading the international break.

  15. On Tuesday man city had a titanic game, they toppled a giant, but not easily. Will they show any aftereffects on Saturday?
    I watched the match and was enthralled, every cliché was played out for real. Both sides were out on their feet at the end De Bruyne was staring straight ahead like a man in a trance.
    will there be changes? I think there will, Company for one.

  16. Following the Barca triumph, the phrase ‘Citeh away’ sounds quite a scary one to me – though not as scary as the phrase President Trump I may add.

    But I’ve been impressed with Boro’s recent return to the ‘thou shalt not pass’ defensive shield – though perhaps for those of a nervous disposition ‘thou shalt not pass’ should be extended to include ‘…out of defence when being pressed by mobile opposition forwards’ – or a cry from Ben of the Riverside that ‘my punt over yonder Row Z doth overfloweth’ should avoid a Shakespearean tragedy at Eastlands.

    So the omens may be good for Boro – Downing has just scored his first top flight goal for Boro since our 8-1 demolition of Citeh, back in the day when 4-2-3-1 was just Sven’s dyslexic countdown to launching rocket up their bargain backsides. Plus it maybe the day old boy Negredo shows Citeh what they are missing (other than a billion quid spent on buying success).

    Anyway, I expect Pep ‘don’t call me Gladiola’ will be blooming mad if his team fail to beat Boro after seeing off Barca – perhaps he’s already working on how to stop Adama burning up the Etihad – but AK will no doubt counter that perceived thought by simply benching him in favour of Stuani.

    My gut (wrenching?) feeling is a 0-0 draw but maybe we’ll sneak it with our own style of tika toka, turn-back-the-clock, Downing’s driving a Delorian as Negredo turns into the new Alves?

    Hopefully that all makes sense…

  17. Talking of the scary thought of President Trump – if you’ve not seen any of Peter Serafinowicz’s clips where he’s overdubbed Trump’s speeches by using the exact words but in a rather camp voice it’s worth checking out – quite funny and I’ve forgotten it’s not real.

    1. Werder,

      Great stuff. Many thanks.

      Incidentally “Thou shalt not pass” used to be my old school’s unofficial motto.

      1. Thanks Len, it’s nice to have an aspirational school motto 🙂 though it sounds more suitable for a Mastermind rather than a Masterman…

  18. Terrific posts from both Nigel and RR.

    That’s the glory of the blog. People putting counter-balancing views, and arguing their points coherently and with plenty of supportive evidence.

    As with many of our discussions, I don’t necessarily see opposing views as being right or wrong, but as pointing up real tensions and contradictions in the situations being analysed.

    So what you get from the blog isn’t simply a confirmation or refutation of your own opinions, but a real sense of the complexities of the issues involved.

    So I happen to agree with both Nigel and RR. The relationship between their arguments is not so much oppositional as dialectical. They represent strands of a more complex set of arguments about AK’s Boro, arguments which can embrace contradiction and the kind of tensions articulated so ably by both Nigel and RR.

  19. I’m guessing Guardiola will be expecting a similar Boro set up the Arsenal game, so maybe something slightly different from AK, although I expect to see de Roon, Clayton, Forshaw and Traore on the pitch at kick off.
    Valdes to have a blinder against his old boss and a ‘nailed on’ goal from Negredo would be a good afternoons work, the result will be what it will be.

  20. I’ve just read AV’s City article, a couple of things strike me.

    At the top of the piece there is a photo of Guardiola wearing a poppy pin badge, I’m pretty confident that the average Spaniard has no idea that a poppy is a symbol of remembrance for British war dead, I hope he hasn’t got a pr person telling him wearing one is the right thing to do.

    Secondly, Stones playing the ball out of defence is a potential weakness because he gives the ball away at times, a straw to clutch at?

    1. Guardiola is not yer average Spaniard, in any sense of the term. He is a multi-lingual, multi-trophy winning international football manager, who has played in a number of countries and has 47 caps for Spain. He has intercultural experience and understanding.

      The wearing of the Poppy.

      This symbol of remembrance when worn by non British nationals could be viewed as their message and understanding for the culture and peoples with whom they live. It could be suggested that they are saying I understand and , in case of the Poppy, associate closely with your sentiments.

      And what’s the problem with that? I would suggest none. However, some people enjoy creating an issue to support their own agenda/affliations and promote it with gusto, regardless of truth or evidence.

      I am an ex-serviceman. So is my brother. Our family have served our country for generations. My maternal Grandfather and an Uncle served in the Scots Guards. An uncle of my mother spent many of his last years in Winterton Hospital due to the devastating effects of shell shock. Too many serving members and ex-servicemen suffer from mental health issues due to the effects of having served. A great too many end up in prison or homeless.

      I have a poppy. I keep it year round in a prominent position in our families living room. For me and my family it is there not just to remember those who gave their lives but also to not forget those whose lives are less in quality because they served and still live.

      Yet, I am not a patriot. I don’t recognise the nationalistic tendency. I am both British through birth and upbringing but I also recognise my place in a wider Europe – lest we forget ordinary men and women were caught up in wars not of their making and lost their lives who were citizens of Germany, France, Italy, Russia and so many more. It is not widely recognised that many Catholic Irishmen volunteered to serve in British regiments during both world wars and indeed the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Black men from North Africa served with the French during the 1st WW, whilst men and women from the Commonwealth answered the call from what was then recognised as the ‘Mother Country’.

      Personally I believe people should be made to stop and reflect on the anniversary of the 11/11 across the whole of Europe and the British Isles. Factories and businesses should cease work. Hospitals and institutions should also hold a fixed period of silence and all shops should close for 30 mins. Silence and remembrance should reign. Vehicles in traffic should halt, trains where ever they are should stop for at least 10 mins. Why? Not simply to remember our own loss but the losses of millions of lives across the globe due to war. Delegations should be sent to commemerate the losses of nations other than our own and a list provided by law in all news publications. And most importantly, greater delegations should be sent to those countries with whom we disagree the most – the USA’s triad of evil countries for example, Russia in particular and why not North Korea. These delegations should be those that first and foremost promote peace and not become an excuse to celebrate war.

      Senor Guardiola, I believe would recognise the sentiments I have shared here in this post and I would like to believe are the reasons he wears the Poppy. I know that they are the reasons I wear one.

      1. Bang on Spartak, a truly meaningful post. Like your family mine served too. Grand father gassed and lost a leg at Paeechaendale, dad and two brothers in the RAF my father badly injured, an uncle killed at El Alamein. Like you there is a poppy in our kitchen and both of the cars have poppy stickers back and front. Lest we forget.

        Perhaps the sponsors of England and Scotland should give their space on the shirts to the British Legion, and some sponsorship money too. Any designer worth his salt could sort those shirts for one match. What could FIFA do? A fine?



  21. Nigel

    As with AK buying in to Teesside I am sure Pep will understand the significance of the poppy. It isn’t a glory symbol but a remembrance of people who lost their lives.

    I find it difficult to respect FIFA whose tournaments are awash with sponsorship but…

    We went on a cruise that sailed through the Dardanelles and as we slowly transited the straights the words of the then ruler of Turkey were read out. In essence he said that whoever died there were loved by the people of Turkey, they were looked after as their own, they were their children.

    Very moving indeed. When the sneers arrive on here about the poppy I would like people to reflect on those sentiments. Whilst we look on the remembrance as to do with our own people it also reflects on many people from many countries across the world.

    Respect, please. No mealy mouthed comments, I don’t mind people not wearing the poppy, that is their choice.

  22. AV

    I keep getting a warning about the security certificate for this website, anyone else getting the same?

    **AV writes: I don’t know how it works under the engine. It is a third party off the shelf system and I am a mere user. You’d have to email WordPress and ask why. Is it a works server? Sometimes they are overly sensitive to commercial sites.

  23. I know it is off topic but just saw AV tweet and had a chuckle….

    “Good news for #Brexit campaigners – an independent British court has ruled that Parliament is sovereign #TakingBackControl”

    Both sides are claiming victory…..what a world.

    Now all we need is our back 4 to take control of the Etihad . . . .

  24. Now that it has been confirmed that ‘Parliament is sovereign’, or I believe ‘The Crown is sovereign in Parliament’ is the correct phrase (maybe), the government intends to appeal to the Supreme Court in order to attempt to overturn the ruling that Parliament decides when and how Article 50 is triggered and therefore I assume also the terms of the Brexit negotiations, if prime minister May loses in the Supreme Court will she then go to the European Court in an attempt to get that ruling overturned?

    How perverse would that be?

  25. Good post, Spartak.

    I appreciate the perceptiveness and lateral thinking that lie behind many of your posts. They are an important part of the blog. However, these qualities can sometimes be masked by the cod more-Boro- than-thou (to say nothing of your more recent cod American) style that you sometimes favour. I thought that your most recent post was all the more effective for the elegance of and lack of affectation in its expression.

  26. AV be careful there’s a certain Mr Hoyte on the warpath for you..!!! Twitter is going into meltdown 🙈 By the way I thought your piece was bang on the money

    **AV writes: We’ll see. It’s a fair opinion. And not even particularly strong I didn’t think.

  27. While we’re on the subject of the importance of diversity of opinion, if you’re interested in such things go and read Robert Fisk’ piece in todays Independent on the Poppy.

    It’s powerful, passionate stuff, you may not agree with it, but its worth a read.

  28. Justin Hoyte

    One of several products of the Arsenal academy who never quite made it but he has had a decent career out of it.

    Arsenal are not unique in that, we can all think of many pf our own who didn’t fulfil their promise as can supporters of all clubs.

    I think he was tarred by the infamous clear out that cost us our place in the top flight, he was typical of the weakness of the squad to cope.

    Hope he finds another club.

  29. Nigel
    Agree with your comment re- Len.
    He is the wise elder statesman of the blog (hope he is not offended by this accolade).

  30. I like Spartak’s contributions. Haven’t a clue what he’s on about half the time but the blog is all the better for his participation. I like to be entertained as well as discussing all things Boro and he’s a great entertainer.

  31. Steely

    Which part do think Len would be upset about, wise or elder?

    I am sure he will settle for both, a sort of Yoda to a class of Luke Skywalkers.

  32. I’m sure Len is more good looking thanYoda, always fancied myself as a Jedi, now where’s that light sabre?

    May the force be with you.

    Just sayin like.

  33. Ian
    You have (I think) the advantage of knowing Len personally, so I thank you for the reassurance.
    I would never cast a slur on any contributors, whether or not I agree with their views.

  34. Steely

    I know him only as someone who went to school where he taught, I don’t know him personally though I believe John Powls does. I am sure he was a keen cricketer and bowled a mean line and length. Oops a c word moment.

    I mentioned Yoda because of his resigned tolerance and advice. I would say I disagree on occasions with his views when they don’t match my well thought out and perceptive observations. Cough!

    Just saying like.

  35. PS Steely

    I sometimes wonder if Spartak knows what he is on about especially when he disagrees with my well thought out posts.

    To mangle a phrase, every time I type some fool posts!!

    Just typing like.


    1. I can confirm that Sir Len is equally erudite in the flesh and a most delightful person with whom to watch the Boro in action.

  36. De Roon picked up an injury Forshaw played and has arguably been the success story of the season and alledgedly on the verge of an England call up

    Had De Roon not picked up an injury Forshaw could now be playing in the championship at Wolves which was his rumoured destination pre season.

    A career changing “Sliding Doors” moment for him.

    1. Yes it makes you wonder about Forshaw and AK, especially last season. Many on here were championing his inclusion in the start line-up, but to no avail. As Never said would Forshaw have been out of the door if not for de Roon´s injury and of course Leadbitter´s long term one.

      AK has always bigged him up, but hardly ever played from the off. Easy to say now what a good player he is.

      1. Two years Ado Forshaw was still young. I think he is 24 now. At least this project got over the finnishing line. All smiles in here. UTB!

  37. Thanks for the pen picture of Len folks. It’s as expected.
    Ian: it goes without saying that I recognise your genius and enjoy your interesting exchanges with Spartak. I just love this blog.
    Am hoping for a repeat of our Arsenal heroics tomorrow but that may be a big ask. Will be happy if we put in a plucky effort regardless of the scoreline (hope that’s not too negative).

  38. In this week of great constitutional significance, I would like to register my vote for a Borexit out of Manchester with all three points in the ballot box on Saturday. However, quite what our approach to this Borexit will be is being kept under wraps, as our leaders continually refuse to discuss the details of their strategy openly in the hallowed pantheon of democracy that is “Untypical Boro” prior to actually triggering Article Footy at 3pm on Saturday. All we are being told is that Borexit means Borexit and it is going to be hard, come what “May”.

    Despite all our expectations of free access into and through the ECC (Etihad Centre Circle), City will no doubt restrict our freedom of movement to such an extent that we shall rarely be allowed entry into their territory. Many people will have had to Remain at home having been unable to get the right Visa (card) to use in the free market that is the Ticket Office, and in any case numbers being granted any access on Saturday have been badly impacted by the strict closed-border controls in effect, allowing a quota of only 3,000 to enter.

    There are a significant number of untypical followers that simply do not believe a Borexit (with all three points) under any of these terms is genuinely possible on Saturday. They predict it will only be us to lose out, leading to calls for a second independent ref (or IndyRef2 as we like to call it in Scotland) to change the decision after a dubious penalty decision against us will fall on deaf ears. This is sure to lead to a General Relection over the next several days as un-elected bloggers in their hundreds dissect the events amid growing unease that the wishes of the majority of the minority that actually posted have been totally disregarded. However, the result on the day will be binding and there is to be no right of appeal against the outcome however unfair the final score may seem to be.

    After all that, no doubt the right result on the day will be a low scoring draw, 0-0; and I’d be very happy with that 🙂 COB

  39. I think most of us expect a similar sort of line up as at Arsenal, if so the key thing is the three attackers.

    You would think the inevitability drive is being polished at this very moment ready for Negredo to score at his former club.

    Traore looks to be a shoe in on the right and that leaves the slot occupied by Ramirez.

    Do we unleash Fischer in that role or use Downing?

    Fischer would be an unknown as far as Citeh are concerned but would Downing’s ball retention and range of passing be of more use?

    It is a tricky call but I think Stewie will get the nod, his ability to switch play with long range passes in behind defenders to exploit spaces will tilt judgement in his favour. He will also bring some top flight nous to the team

    With Fischer there would be the risk of losing ball easily but countered by the fact he has plenty of pace and there will be open spaces to exploit.

  40. I very much doubt we will have three attackers at The Etihad.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stuani ( if fit) replace Traore and De Roon for Ramirez.

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