Chelsea Dagger: Sharp Costa Kills Off Blunt Boro


SO, THAT’S the third clash with red hot title contenders in four games and while Boro never managed to bank a point from this one there were still positives. Boro rode their luck at times but battled bravely to contain Chelsea and stay in the game only to be punished from a set-play just before the break as otherwise quiet ‘argument in an empty room’ merchant Diego Costa showed deadly predatory skills after Boro switched off.

In the second half Boro pressed up more, applied a lot of admittedly scrappy pressure and created a couple of half chances to no avail – but it is telling that both players and supporters came away disappointed not to have got something.


But the team continues to develop, grow into the pace and intensity of the league and they are learning fast. To lose 1-0 to Chelsea is disappointing but not a disgrace and if they can maintain the steady rise performance levels in the bread-and-butter games then Boro will stay ahead of the hot spots.

Here’s my colour bit saying all that in more length and detail. 

Here’s my player ratings from the match. Having watched the game back again, maybe they are a bit harsh on Fabio who was generally comfortable on the ball in his first league start this season and wasn’t always helped out by Ramirez in front of him – although Moses did still have a postcode of space to operate freely in the left-back slot.

And here’s Aitor’s assessment… “almost perfect.” 

Chelsea have been awesome since switching to a 343 – five wins on the spin with an aggregate score of 16-0 – and it is a very effective system…  but there are chinks in the armour that can be exploited. I did a bit earlier in the week you should read looking at Chelsea’s tactical tweak and how Boro can counter it. And I think Aitor did well to contain the most potent elements of Chelsea’s attack and still offer something going forward.




216 thoughts on “Chelsea Dagger: Sharp Costa Kills Off Blunt Boro

  1. Judging by some of the comments on here, Gaston should be dropped or worse.

    Now I will agree he can be frustating and ill-disciplined at times, but please tell me who else have we got that can produce what he does at times. We are very very limited in that department. Maybe January will see Rhodes out and a Ramirez mark 2 arrive?

  2. A good mix of views on yesterdays game. Personally I enjoyed it and thought we were competitive although the odd moment had me choking on my bovril (I can still hear the cross bar reverberating from Pedro’s shot now!). I do think Negredo needs to be ‘rested’ although a bit like AK I am not sure about JR! I do think he gets knocked off the ball a little too easily for me and I would actually like to see Stuani given a chance up front. I agree the third substitution was a little strange but that’s what I like about AK – his unpredictability. Unfortunately I had to sit with 3 jubilant (getting more jubilant after each trip to the buffet car) Chelsea fans who felt that we had been a stern test, they were impressed with Traore and were more than happy with a ground out win given our results against Arsenal and City. Fortunately the noise cancelling headphones did the trick for the remainder of the journey!

  3. AV
    I’m glad that you revisited your thoughts on Fabio. I thought that he looked good on the ball and had an eye for a good pass. Its true that Moses was a big influence but I put that down to Ramirez playing further forward and leaving a gap. I wondered whether this was a calculated risk by AK to give us someone closer to Negredo. Just a thought.

    Watching the game, I thought Boro looked like a quality side but just came up against a better team.

    I agree that Gibson was wonderful but I am really starting to admire De Roon. I think that we have a star in the making. Sadly, I think that something new has to be tried up front. Negredo is trying hard but just isn’t delivering.

    Other than that, it was a great game to watch. Now on to two wins in the next two.


  4. I’m with Selwynoz on de Roon, when he first pitched up I was less than impressed. He seemed rash in his tackling,his passing was poor. Now that he’s had some time to adjust, he has improved a lot. His tackling is great and his positional awareness seems to have improved. He’s adjusting to the pace of the prem and has more time on the ball. That said I thought some of his clearances/passes were poor, they seemed a little too rushed to me and he gave the ball away too easily on occasions. I suspect as time passes and he gets more and more used to the new style of play he finds himself involved in that his passing will improve also.

    I thought Fabio was okay, he seemed to leave gaps behind him on occasion which pulled Gibson out of position, but that may also have been because Ramirez wasn’t covering like Downing would normally do.

    **AV writes: He’s been my new favourite player since before he kicked a ball.

  5. Simon made some interesting points about how AK responds to criticism after Charltongate and Watford. Coincidence perhaps but it seems that when he has been questioned he comes out fighting and ups the ante or at least his Teams performances are upped.

    I understand the concern that if you use all three subs then get an injury you could be exposed but I reckon I can count on one hand the number of Boro games over the last decade that such an incident would have been problematic. Conversely how many times have we been anticipating a Sub to change things and freshen it up but nothing happened and if it did certainly not in a timely manner.

    Valdes has come in for deserved criticism but seems to have responded and upped his game. Maybe it was a fitness or a mentality issue or just becoming accustomed to his back line likewise de Roon looks to be getting to grips with the pace and standard after some average performances, his goal at the Etihad has also probably lifted his confidence along with his International call up. All positives!

    Negredo however isn’t working, hasn’t worked and doesn’t look like working. AK’s system requires a strong physical forward with a poachers instinct and the ability to hold up play, put himself about and run at defenders. AK said of Conte’s 3-4-3 system that you need to have the players to be able to play that way, I agree but the same logic applies equally to 4-3-2-1. Its become clear that AK now accepts that Stuani isn’t the answer on the right to his system at this level in much the same way that Tomlin wasn’t in the Championship.

    For me AK is frustrating with a capital “F”. He is steadily building and growing but seems very reluctant to see and accept the obvious until it becomes almost unbearable and at breaking point. You can argue that the two above examples in Valdes and de Roon counter that by keeping faith and playing through it but he does have form for pushing things to the limit and only then reacting once frustration levels have reached the point of critical.

    We have 4 dtrikers at the club, Nugent is fast and can get behind defences, not particularly tall but seems able to read crosses and gets headers in. Rhodes is an 18 yard box sniffer that has an uncanny knack of positioning himself just where the ball is going to end up next and capitalising. Stuani like Nugent competent at getting onto headers, finds himself with opportuniies a little b

    1. Technical glitch there with my post posting all by itself before I’d finished!

      My point before I had a chance to proof read and finish the post was that out of all our Strikers Negredo unfortunately at this point hasn’t proved to have the requisite skills to play AK’s system.

      The others don’t either but Stuani is probably the closest on paper. Rhodes I always felt was a strange signing but given that our system is clearly way beyond Negredo’s skill set then why not play Jordan (or Nugent or Stuani). Either that or change the system the way Conte was brave enough to do, anything but watching the same tactic that offensively means we are playing with ten men.

      Why do the frustration levels have to get to this point before the obvious has to occur repeatedly is perhaps the bigger question.

  6. Hi, RR.

    Many thanks for the acknowledgement. I would build on that by saying the Jekyll and Hyde, darkest before dawn thing is not solely confined to AK. A week after that woeful freeze in the FA Cup against Cardiff that no one will forget, we were five minutes away from doing the double over Arsenal.

    No one would have thought the mess that rolled over against Villa, left a young Catts in tears and inspired a season ticket throw would turn over Chelsea so convincingly.

    Similarly, it took a points deduction and later a lethargic defeat against Sheffield Wednesday to spark Robbo’s class of 1996-97 into life, twice over. And so on. And so on…

  7. I also wanted to bring up a great point made by Plato, about a question asked by Lawro on MOTD2.

    “Why did we defend? Don’t we know that the correct tactics were to go on all out attack, yes, we would have been turned over, big time, but it is the correct thing to do, and there would have been more goals, so there.”

    I think, as fans, we tend to let our hearts rule our head, the desire for goalmouth action, drama and excitement exceeding everything. It’s why games like Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Newcastle (the first one, by the way) linger long in the memory – ditto Steaua – but you can’t really call them great football.

    Rob Smyth, I think, nailed it in his brilliant piece on the Liverpool-Newcastle game…

    1. Tactically had we not had that lapse of a few red shirts playing Mannequin and letting an outnumbered Costa get a toe to the ball it likely would have ended 0-0. Keeping things tight against the possible Champions elect made sense and if anyone is in any doubt just ask Ronald Koeman.

      Lawro and co. would have loved to drool over a 7-0 Chelsea goal fest on a Sunday evening saying we were doomed and looking rudderless etc. As it was we were compact, organised and apart from that moment of hesitation, groggy Keeper and the bizarre corner decision in the first place we nearly got a point.

      Our Players will have turned up for training on Monday disappointed not to have kept a clean sheet and not to have pulled off a treble of results against Arsenal, City and Chelsea. Everton on the other hand would have turned up dejected, gutted and bereft of confidence and belief after their Chelsea debacle. Perhaps their hangover enabled Swansea to get a point at Goodison on Saturday.

      The last 15 to 20 minutes of our second half showed that maybe we could have got something. The fact we didn’t wasn’t a surprise considering the wealth of talent in opposition but the lack of any cutting edge or threat in the final 20 yards was painful. There does not seem to be a tactic to play to Negredo’s strengths and yet nor does there seem to be a tactic for Negredo to play to AK’s system. The two requirements seem at complete odds with one another.

      I’m sure Negredo and Valdes don’t account for 80% of our wage bill but with loan fees and other bits and pieces they will certainly account for a unbalanced wedge of the old Pareto principle. Is that the reason for AK’s reluctance to drop players? Are there unspoken “clauses” in contracts? I have no idea but as things stand (no pun intended on Negredo there) our luxurious Striker is looking very much like a poor man’s Kris Boyd. Whilst he isn’t Diego Costa he is better than what we have seen to date, perhaps not much better but better than Boyd certainly.

      If Negredo were to receive a suspension or worse still an injury (not that I’m wishing that on any player) I doubt if anyone on here or in regular Riverside attendance would be remotely bothered. If Gibson or say even Traore was out for three or more games then there would be a great increase in anxiety levels across the dias Boro. AK needs to solve the dysfunctional Striker scenario and quickly because if we don’t score goals defending our way to survival whilst apparently also relying on GD is a dangerous philosophy in this league. Kike MK 1 looked a far better fit with his mobility, at least he was averaging a goal every 4 games and linked up better in open play.

    2. Simon
      Thanks for the check on my comment.
      Just a thought, when you say we cannot call it great football, I know what you mean. But, and it is a big but, all fans of the great game worship the shootout 4-3 5-4, you get the picture. We know it can only end in tears but still we dream.
      A K is on the right track, falling behind is the way to the championship.

      1. I know, Plato, I know. I think that’s the great football dilemma. It’s like the journos who were split over Italy 4-3 West Germany circa 1970 – half thought it a classic, half a basketball match. Did you read Smyth’s piece?

    1. I think someone should inform Nigel Farage that being photographed with the President elect in front of a door made from old Ferrero Rocher wrappers doesn’t necessarily qualify you to be Ambassador to the US…

      1. Werder

        Its not as if the President elect has the qualifications either.

        Out of the two of them in those respective positions I think I’d settle with Farage as US Ambassador to Trump being US President!

        Could he do any worse a job than the current incumbent and in all seriousness could he boost UK profile and trade as a consequence over there as ridiculous as it may seem? This is the Country that voted trump for President remember.

        Strange bedfellows but sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. I think a well heeled typical landed gentry pompous type Ambassador may not go down too well with the Trump administration. Right now the UK needs to be looking for favourable trading partners, much to the chagrin of many Nigel does seem to have the knack of coming up smelling of roses like him or not and he does seem to be well liked by Donald.

        **AV writes: Protocol is that the government picks the ambassador, not the head of state of a foreign nation.

  8. We really do see things very differently RR. I have to just check I’m not just so used to disagreeing with you that I’m doing it automatically.

    However… I thought Negredo was poor at times in the first few games of the season – he wasn’t getting involved enough (albeit with limited service) and was wasting the chances he had. The last few games though I think he’s been a lot better. On Sunday he produced two sublime pieces of skill – one, a dummy for Ramirez and another when he created a chance for himself and nearly scored. Had either of them gone in (Ramirez should have certainly done better) then he’s a hero. Certainly not like playing with ten men.

    “AK’s system requires a strong physical forward with a poachers instinct and the ability to hold up play, put himself about and run at defenders. ”

    Sounds like the perfect striker – good luck finding one of them!

    What the system certainly does require is someone who can play with their back to goal, hold it up, and bring others into play. Negredo fits that bill, and Nugent/Rhodes don’t. They offer a plan B. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see us try and sign someone Negredo-like in January to give him some competition.

    de Roon and Valdes were always going to need time to settle. We discussed on here how de Gea struggled at first in the PL. Players from Holland/Italy will always take time to get used to the pace. If you are lucky they adapt immediately – and both Valdes and de Roon had injuries to deal with to. I don’t know why some of our fans are so quick to make judgements.

    1. BP

      Likewise I sometimes have to check that I’m not deliberately looking for a counter discussion point between the two of us. At least we agree on something 😉

      Earlier in the Season I thought Negredo looked the part, big, strong and could hold the ball up but he then seemed to wilt under every aerial challenge from a CB looking for sympathy from the Referee. When sympathy and free kicks were not forthcoming he seemed to roll on the floor rubbing his head ruefully and has lost his way ever since.

      On Sunday the way he controlled the ball from Traore (I think) to get a shot off was sheer brilliance, no argument on that score but once in 5 or 6 games and still no goals doesn’t cut it.

      The “Perfect Striker” was exactly the point I was making. There are probably only a handful of those players globally that can perform at this level and I doubt we can afford one. I think I heard or read somewhere that Pat Nevin was saying something like only Costa can play that lone role in his view in the Premiership. I agree with him and probably only Drogba before him. I think Stuani is probably the best of our lot.

      Nugent has pace which may work better with Ramirez and his movement and of course Traore’s blistering speed. Rhodes has always got goals in his career but usually as a pairing. When Negredo has got goals he has had quality support around him, perhaps the answer is to go two up front because we haven’t the quality to play the lone Striker but unlikely to happen under AK I know.

      Fans judgement is made on the basis of what we have available versus what we see. Valdes was dire up until Arsenal and even then he flapped and nearly gifted them the winner after challenging de Roon and Ayala. I’m still not convinced by him and would look for an upgrade in the Summer but he has undoubtedly improved and happy for it to continue in an upward trajectory.

      de Roon has only recently started to look like he “might” be a decent player but in all honesty would I pick him ahead of Forshaw, Clayts or fit again Grant? I’m not so sure. Again so long as there is a gradual improvement than we can be optimistic so here’s hoping.

      The question for me is that we knew (as does everyone) that surviving in the Premiership is tough, very tough indeed. Why did we go out and sign players that “might” come good and in doing so sacrifice points in the first quarter of the season. That is one heck of a gamble that may yet prove extremely costly and one that isn’t entirely to be laid at AK’s door. Traore, Espinosa, de Roon, Fischer, et al were all a gamble, ironically only Negredo had proven pedigree at this level albeit for half a season.

    2. BP
      I agree, I’ve expressed doubts over Valdés, but I was wrong, he is happy here and seems quite a strong lad. I think that we now have at least six very good players and more may make the great leap up to a new level.

    3. BP –

      Amongst all the solutions to our lack of goals, I think we must accept that the entire team, even when dominant and playing with confidence, will not shoot instantly, will not use the angled shot into the far corner of the goal (I recon that 25% in the premiership come from this shot) will not try for the header one yard in front of the near post at corners,(hoping the keeper will miss the ball is a non starter, it ain’t going to happen) and most certainly we do not shoot low and hard amongst the ankles of a crowded penalty area.

      Even on Sunday we had at least two situations when we had a player on the ball front and centre of the box, unmarked, on each occasion they took a quick look, a slow backswing, and then had to rush their shot, each one was of course ballooned over the bar.

      It was noticeable that the Chelsea players made plenty of attempts to try the shot into the far side of the goal(thanks to ben they had no luck getting their shot away).

      You will not have seen any of this replayed and analysed and discussed on match of the day, after all we were the only match on to be discussed.

      I think we had better get used to few cameras, trainee cameramen, worn out commentators with nothing to say, and forget any close looks at debatable refereeing. Oh, and forget the camera burrowing into a pile of bodies to see the split second trip that proves the penalty.

      I reckon we could sue the BBC for the money we spent on upgrading our ground, it was completely wasted on drivel served up on Sunday night. I left the ground wanting to see the decision on the corner, which decided the match, I got a view which was fleeting at best, worthless at worst(the keeper was a million miles from touching the ball). As for a serious look at Ben pocketing the big striker? I am as wise as I was when I walked into the ground. Is it a plot to keep Ben’s price down.

      Or, perhaps to keep Stone in the England team.

  9. Listened to Mathew Paris promoting his new book, Scorn, on radio 5.

    One of my favourite insults was Noel Gallagher about his brother, Liam, he’s like a man with a fork in a world full of soup

  10. We’re now only one point behind my predicted curve, with a vicious run of games behind us. Although Negredo’s goal return is very poor, it is very much a symptom not a disease. I’m open to persuasion as to the value of replacing him with Stuani in our current system. Alternatively, AK could go with a plan B of throwing Rhodes up front alongside him. Cue much hollow laughter from various bloggers. Including this one.

    I’m much more relaxed about this season than I was four games ago.

    Do we know how long George is out for? I wasn’t convinced by Fabio before we signed. Hopefully he’ll be able to step up as George did.

  11. AV….you got a mention in the Daily Record ! The reporter wrote about Gordon Strachan and how he has become a failure as manager of Scotland and the SFA deciding to stick with him , here is the snippet :

    ” It follows that here, with our limited purview, Strachan is an outstanding manager who had a very successful four years at Celtic. We don’t look much further than what has been in front of our face. It’s a different story down south.

    At Middlesbrough, for example, where locals described his tenure as “a nightmare year, a bleak year, a year that most of us have tried to airbrush out of history”.

    Journalist Anthony Vickers sent a shiver of recognition down this Scottish spine describing Strachan as “an unpopular boss who alienated fans and sent the team into a frightening nosedive of shapeless mediocrity” Sound familiar? ”

    **AV Writes: Fame at last!

  12. Everyone…

    The question that keeps bugging me is, why does the opinion of certain players in the eyes of fans seem to increase so dramatically when they’re not playing?

    When Rhodes was finding his way in March, and – to be blunt – firing blanks, comparisons to Afonso Alves floated around the Twitterwaves. So when he delivered at Bolton I was exceptionally happy. I felt we had another Andy Cole story on our hands – the goalscorer who struggled to adjust in a new role after a big money arrival but survived the setbacks to re-invent himself spectacularly. (The much lauded Yorke-Cole partnership happened, allegedly, by circumstance – Cole was arguably fourth choice at the start of 1998-99!)

    No one likes it when a great story like this is interrupted by a shiny, high profile new arrival – and so I have a feeling that, like Andy R did about Dimi, this is less about playing ability than him being hard done by.

    Thoughts welcome.

    1. I don’t think that Rhodes has increased in ability in his absence, more like he can’t be any worse than what we have at the minute and in all likelihood just as good and maybe, just maybe better. Very worse case scenario is the “same as” but on a third of the wages.

      On being hard done by, undoubtedly this is a factor. Rhodes has been hard done to as has Nugent and lately arguably Stuani even (although not on the right wing please). Now if Negredo had 5 or 6 goals to his name then that changes the picture entirely and as hard done to as Rhodes and co have been they would just have to suck it up. Personally I would never have bought Rhodes as he doesn’t fit the system but as we don’t have anyone that does actually fit the system why not try him?

      Anyone on here willing to put a tenner on Negredo reaching double figures this season?

  13. It’s a pity that reserve football seems to have disappeared these days. Ordinarily a player would have the chance to get valuable game time, and stake a claim to a first team place on their performances.

    If Rhodes was banging them in for the reserves there would be an even bigger clamour for him to be given a chance. The writing is on the wall for him and surely he will be leaving in the January transfer window.

    1. I attended a certain reserve game way back when at Ayresome park. They only opened one stand but it was chocker block. I think it was for a newly arrived Andy Peyton. Anyhow on his first appearance he scored and we all went bananas as you do when you think that eventually we’ve got the real deal – wouldn’t you know it but he went off injured soon after. More disappointment 😦

      Just sayin like

  14. Though RR the obvious difference between Nigel Farage and Roses is that Roses grow on you – anyway, I don’t know about alt-right but this is becoming alt-reality!

    Though seriously if the UK ends up with Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary and US Ambassador Nigel Farage then it may as well change the national anthem to the theme tune to Laurel and Hardy – because the mess will more than fine.

    We are definitely in the age of the Charlatan if the world is being run by self-righteous populists who are the self-proclaimed voice of the dispossessed in the self-deluded idea that they offer any kind of solution to the problems facing the world.

    And Talking of deluded people – Tony Blair is even contemplating riding back into town on his high horse to save the people from their bad decisions – Whatever next!, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a plan somewhere to make a hologram of Margaret Thatcher and elect her as the first virtual PM.

    Forget the alt-right – we need a ctrl-alt-delete so we can reboot our democracy without all these bugs in the system – there surely must be someone out there who’s capable of making sense and cutting through all the BS and has a coherent plan to back it all up.

    1. ” A ctrl-alt-delete so we can reboot our democracy without all these bugs in the system”

      If you could bottle that you would be a billionaire (and then who knows maybe even President one day)!

  15. RR, Negredo has definitely disappointed with his goal return. I know he hasn’t had hundreds of chances but off the top of my head I can think of three – Sunderland, Bournemouth and Arsenal that he should have buried. I think we expected him to be more clinical.

    1. Of course against Sunderland and Bournemouth, our only two wins, Negredo laid on the decisive goals with two wonderful set-ups that required simple tap-ins.

      He showed exceptional quality on both occasions, not least because almost any other striker in the midst of a goal drought would have gone for goal himself.

      Negredo didn’t. He showed great awareness of what was happening around him , created the easier chance and unselfishly allowed others to take the glory. He was instrumental in getting us the six invaluable points from those games.

      He turned the game at Man City. His amazing strike from the halfway line gave the whole team their first inkling that something could be gained from the game and we never really looked back from that point.

      One goal so far does not do justice to his overall contribution.

      1. Len
        I agree with you, we should avoid at all costs starting the blame game with Negredo, I may be in a minority of one in thinking that he works his socks off in his ordained role as the front(hold up) man, furthermore he is very good at stopping the(very good) centre back from quietly heading a stream of balls straight back into our defensive area. It’s not romantic but it gives our defence time to keep themselves organised, and that is our strength, god help us if we abandoned it in pursuit of lots of goals. Our tactics will be tested in the next three games, if they are correct we will get five or six points, if not then we can discuss it further.

  16. I don’t think the issue is which striker do we play, it’s more about goal scoring opportunities. Negredo isn’t missing easy chances is he?

    As Borophil says he played a brilliant dummy on Sunday and created a decent chance for himself with a sublime piece of skill. He played well against City , almost scoring from the half way line. He can’t be judged by his (non) goal scoring against Arsenal, City and Chelsea, previous to that we weren’t playing that well offensively, but we are improving in attacking play now.

    Negredo needs to be given a good few more games yet.

    To take up Redcars question, he may hit ten goals this season, I wouldn’t expect anymore, I wouldn’t have expected anymore if I’d been asked in August. such strikers don’t play for bottom third teams.
    Nugent isn’t the answer, he isn’t a premiership striker, never was.

    Rhodes isn’t the answer, if he was a premiership striker he’d have been playing in the premiership seasons ago.

    Stuani isn’t the answer either, he’s a lesser striker than Negredo.

    I also think we will buy another striker in January and wouldn’t be in the least surprised to see both Rhodes and Nugent move on then. We’ll take a loss on Rhodes I reckon.

  17. I listened to the latest Tripe Supper and in the middle was a sponsorship advert.

    The worst part is that Vic took part. Socialist principles down the pan.

    There again, if there is a trough available someone will have their trotters in it. What can you expect from members of the Murdoch Group. Oops, make that Trinity Mirror.


    **AV writes: And you get to say that on my free-to-air labour of love platform.

  18. I notice that Farage is a story nearly more distanced from the Tories than Socialism from the Labour party. I suspect only Trump could be involved with such a Charlatan. There again UKIP seemed to get their votes from Labour areas.

    The next thing will be Vic appearing on a Tripe Supper with an advert in the middle. Thankfully a man with such good socialist principles wouldn’t be involved in such a Murdochesque charade.

    Back to the F word and Leicester had to battle against Bruges to get through. Some intensity wouldn’t go amiss this coming Saturday

    **AV writes: You’d think up to now my work had been appearing on ad-free platforms on-line and print.

    1. AV

      Been away all day but the blog is thankfully a sponsor free zone and that is greatly appreciated by all of us. The problem is with the Gazette and other outlets, not on here.

      Who pays for the Trabbies?

      **AV writes: Newspapers have always been funded by advertising. As late as the 60s they were all over the front page. There has never been a pristine platform uncluttered by grubby commercialisation. Some of the best journalism in the world has appeared with a 3v8 box in the corner selling Domestos or Atora. It has always been the way. To complain about it while demanding more and better free news now is delusional. And to criticise the journalists as if they sell the ad space or design the website code is churlish. You may as well berate the driver for the advertising on the side of the bus.

  19. Oy, Spartak and Ian! Lay off the criticism of AV. He is the brilliant Boro blogmeister, the wizard of the written word, the final word on all things Boro, as far as I’m concerned. I think we’re incredibly lucky to have him. And all for free, and all because he loves the blog and Boro. Let us never forget that AV doesn’t have to provide this fantastic service. I’m sure it’s not in his contract. And I, for one, would be absolutely devastated if AV packed it all in.

    **AV writes: The bottom line is journalism has to be paid for. By buying the paper. Or by ads. By sponsors. In association with. And we hacks have no say whatsoever in how it operates or what ads go on the pages our copy is on. I’m sure it’s the same for anyone low down the food chain in any industry. Criticising me because an ad pops up when you read my stuff for free is just bizarre.

  20. With Almeria Negredo scored 32 goals in 73 Appearances, with Sevilla he hit 85 in 182 Appearances, with City he hit 23 in 48 but then things took a nose dive with Valencia where he only hit 18 in 74 Appearances and as we know with Boro now 1 goal in 12 Appearances.

    Those Stats are impressive up until Valencia where he fell out with the Manager Santos over tactics and as a consequence placed on the naughty step until Gary Neville took over. Like Valencia my opinion is that the problem is tactics with him, he doesn’t fit the role Karanka requires and as I said earlier the type of Striker required to play that role isn’t freely available or likely to be cheap.

    My guess is that Negredo was brought in on the basis that historically his form might yield the ratio of goals from earlier in his career and if so would have been a brilliant coup. It hasn’t materialised or worked for us and nor does it remotely look like working any time soon.

    Its perhaps worth noting that when Valencia took him on loan from City there was a clause in the loan where they had to buy him. Is a similar “agreement” obligated upon Boro which may indicate why AK is flogging this particular dead horse in the vain hope that eventually something will happen by accident rather than by his tactical design?

    Stuani has had 8 Appearances in the Premiership this season and scored 3 goals and that was being played in a position that I don’t believe is his best position. Negredo isn’t a bad player but AK’s tactics and formation doesn’t suit him in much the same way Santos’s tactics at Valencia didn’t suit him, that is not all the players responsibility. It should have surely been identified by our statistical researchers and scouts before signing him (ditto Rhodes).

    All goals usually come as a result of someones contributions, its the nature of the game. I agree that arguably one goal perhaps doesn’t do Negredo justice for his other contributions but there have been far too many games with little or none of those contributions. His lob at the Etihad is perhaps more indicative of his frustration and isolation than a reflection on him being a success in that lone role.

    That lob was the closest he has come to scoring since the opening day (bundling into the Everton Keeper apart). Either AK changes tactics to bring Negredo into games more and gives him a fair chance or we need an alternative skill set to be given that chance. Stuani’s 3 goals in 8 (all of which were scored away from home) indicates to me that he is possibly the most suitable alternative. The Rhodes “treatment” doesn’t help to build belief that it is a level playing field considering Negredo’s lack of goals or that the Manager is going to improve our Offensive play anytime soon.

    Our shots per game average is down there with the worst of them, a moderate improvement in that area would make a massive difference to our final placing and survival.

  21. Shame on you AV, taking wages from an employer who gets their filthy lucre from advertisements.

    Seriously though, where do people get off with their indignation? I’m surprised you don’t tell them where to get off, your restraint is admirable.

    1. GHW please delete the plural ‘people’ and insert with the singular ‘person’.

      One person has mentioned this ad point twice – thats it! To read the comments you’d believe there was a whole posse up in arms with pitch forks at the ready chasing AV down Linthrope Road – their not!

      As for me like, I couldn’t give a monkey hangers if AV was advertisin tampons as ear defenders. All I’m interested in is gettin to skinny on wots goin on down with the Boro. I’m here because I have the expectation that the be all and end all of wot happens will be exposed by AV and the lads at Gazette Towers. If anything annoys me its finding that a piece of the jigsaw that mayb pertinent has been reported elsewhere 3 years ago but we read nothing about it here. We’re left to fill the vaccum with imaginings and that leads to error and lookin like Shreks donkey on a bad day.

      My idealistic vision of a Jorno is one who reveals truths to the unwashed masses who would be in eternal ignorance if the truth were not revealed by these bastions of the written word, thus I hold them in such high esteem. Its only when I get the feeling I’m being kept purposely in the dark that I become unhappy.


      1. Thought you were from the Boro? “Some people ” is a phrase that can refer to one person. As in…….”Eeee, I don’t know, some people”

    1. A walk through Albert Park nowadays is tantamount to taking your life in your hands. The actual Town Centre i.e. the main shopping precinct around Binns and the Cleveland Centre is fine for the size of Town but with out of Town shopping outlets there is a downturn in more affluent shoppers which doesn’t help the “ambience” but its no worse than every other High Street across the UK which are now becoming defunct from their original intended purpose. Bedford Street although extremely welcome (and desperately needed) in isolation will not turn the tide.

      There are immediate surrounding areas within 1/2 mile literally which have become Ghettos unfortunately and have been very poorly managed in terms of Town planning and I use the word “managed” in the loosest possible sense. The run down state and low housing costs as a consequence have been a magnet for those with very little which means a mix of the vulnerable and the poorest and of course that also means a lot of migrants who come to the UK with literally nothing in many cases. It also presents “commercial opportunities” for those of a certain set of morals and who see abusing people physically, mentally and socially as fair game.

      Attempts to investigate, arrest and prosecute by a Police Force with diminishing resources doesn’t seem to result in custodial sentences any more with many cases routinely reported in the Gazette as having 20, 30 and upwards of 50 “previous” convictions. Self perpetuating and ever decreasing circles with overcrowded Prisons and overstretched Prison Warders one of the main reasons.

      Social deprivation is unfortunately very high on Teesside and unlikely to change until and unless there is significant investment in opportunity for gainful meaningful sustainable employment for those who in previous generations would have worked in factories or large Industrial sites. Of course the same applies to many other northern towns and conurbations who continually find themselves in tabloid headlines for all the wrong reasons.

      There are many similar Towns across Western Europe and North America with a similar fate to Middlesbrough, too many, far too many and history seemingly hasn’t taught our politicians anything be they the EU, UK or US political elite.

      1. We woz, the Boro town like, ignored by the money grabbin politicos of all persuasions for decades. Monster Maggies waltz around the Stockton wastelands for the photo opportunity summed it all up.

        Whats the problem? Well the chiefs of influence simply don’t care till there’s a crisis and even then they are clueless or at least have been. Whats more the general majority are easily swayed by politico BS (Trump is already back peddling on promises and he aint even POTUS yet) and their own fears and predujdiceses.

        Whats the answer Spartak? Well IMHO Teesside is stuffed, so there may not be an answer. The only thing I can think of is gross autonomy to the point of the best next thing to independence. Work out local issues with local people who are there for the good of the community not the money trough. Gettin such people in positions of influence is the biggest problem because the unwashed are driven by name recognition first and foremost. Having people from outside the area imposed by political parties based in London, regardless of their best intentions, is not a solution.

        So people who are local and can prove beyond reasonable doubt that their principles and values are unquestionable ie not a Blair or a Mandleson.

        Happy days

            1. Its about the quality of the people involved (see above). Old colleague of mine mentioned the sayin about cream and scum both rising to the top of the milk. Unfortunately the people of Teesside and the UK have had to many of the self interested vote for the self interested for too long. Only when you hit rock bottom will serious change come about. Bit like a drug addick when they go to rehab as a last resort.

  22. I’ve been watching a young Dane called Kasper Dolberg playing for Ajax, he’s only 19 yet has played for his country and is banging in goals for Ajax for fun. At 6′ 1″ he looks everything Negredo should be but only faster, and everything Rhodes wished he was, big, strong and can sniff a chance from anywhere and not just inside the six yard box. Before I get slammed for proposing yet another “project” for the Boro, rumours are that Koeman and Everton are sniffing around for the January sales, not a bad recommendation.

  23. I’ve been watching a young Dane called Kasper Dolberg playing for Ajax, he’s only 19 yet has played for his country and is banging in goals for Ajax for fun. At 6′ 1″ he looks everything Negredo should be but only faster, and everything Rhodes wished he was, big, strong and can sniff a chance from anywhere and not just inside the six yard box. Before I get slammed for proposing yet another “project” for the Boro, rumours are that Koeman and Everton are sniffing around for the January sales, not a bad recommendation.

  24. Spartak –

    not sure if advertising feminine products on the Tripe Supper will necessarily be the way to go as it could be fraught with danger…

    Dominic: Hello, I’m joined by Philip Tallentire and Anthony Vickers for this week’s Tripe Supper – but first a few words from our sponsor…

    [Anthony and Phil struggle to keep their feet as they move gingerly around on roller-skates (as it is a prerequisite of their new advertising contract) and slowly get into position before breaking into song.

    Phil: Ooh Bodyform…

    Anthony: …Bodyform’s for you-oo-oo

    Dominic: Thanks fella’s – so what do we think about Jordan Rhode’s chances of some pitch time this week…

    [A loud crash is heard as Phil slips over backwards knocking the pints over]

    Dominic: Cut!

    **AV writes: It’s funny ’cause it’s true.

    1. Werder

      Can you imagine the countless posts from BP and myself arguing about the absorbency, statistical flow rates and merits of said products!

      Comfort zones would take on a new meaning, we could rename it Typical T….. nah lets not go there.

    2. What’s that AV it’s all true? First Post-Truth Politics now Post-Fiction Satire – It’s becoming quite difficult to parody real life these days – barely has the virtual ink dried on a post before reality ups the ante – I posted an ealier one-liner in this blog about Ambassador Nigel Farage and Ferrero Rocher and within 24 hours he’s photographed holding a bloody tray of them.

      No wonder the public are having trouble distinguishing between real stories and fakes ones…Whatever next? We’ll have a football team escaping relegation and winning the PL the next year only to be relegated the following season…

      Does all this mean I’m literally living the dream?

  25. Peasepudin, Dolberg is certainly a hot prospect but I’d reckon we would be looking at probably the cost of two Jordan Rhodes. His age and experience may be a bit of a gamble but as the saying goes if you’re good enough you are old enough!

    If Rhodes is sold to Villa as an example and perhaps Nugent moved on in January and the “Neven Subotic money” (assuming it still exists) may be better spent on this lad. Still think we missed an opportunity with Anichebe who I think could have performed the lone Striker role better than any we currently have at the club.

    1. RR,

      Apparently some of the big guns, Barca, Man Utd, Chelsea etc. have also been thrown in to the equation, but at aged 19 if Dolberg were to go to any of those clubs he’d be bench warming waiting for the establishment to either move on or retire. I’m also a great believer in the “old enough, good enough” mantra as well, but this lad has an old head on very young shoulders.

      For me if we can move on Rhodes and Nugent and even with the Subotic money aside, I reckon we could afford him and take a punt. A few years here along with team mate Fischer could possibly be a better attraction to him and an opportunity to put himself in the big shop window, as opposed to being a potential Bamford in the making by pledging to a top side with a galaxy of already established stars.

      Time to get Steve over here for a chat with the lad, you know it makes sense.

      1. I heard from a trusted source at the club that Sir Gibson has a new sofa. There must be a few million pounds in somewhere. We need quality, not quantity now.

        Up the Boro!

  26. RR GHW

    Theres a great article that has just as if by magic been posted up on the front of the Guardian by George Monbiot. He addresses the challenge of change from Industrial culture to a new Techological/Computer robot age. He talks about threats to peace and tranquility on a global stage but it seems to me that serious plans need to be made to allow people to leave dying work skills and grasp opportunities as they arise. The worst thing you can do is abandon whole communities to rot.

    1. Monbiot done an excellent piece a few weeks back on neoliberalism and how Maggie was heavily into Hayek’s “Constitution of Liberty” and how a disenfranchised backlash against todays politicians turned to virulent anti-politics leading to Brexit and Trump.

      The irony is that Donald Trump is exactly the type of man Hayek would have loved.

  27. As they have qualified for the group stages of CL, will Leicester now be more focussed on getting things right in the PL?
    Here’s hoping they’re a bit tired from their midweek exertions and save any upsurge in their fortunes until after we’ve played them.

  28. Final thought on adverts.

    I can cope with adverts on the website, irritated when you click on the article and get redirected to sundry partners.

    I can cope with each video starting with an advertising trailer.

    Poor Dominic having to advertise some product halfway through tripe supper was a bit of a shock.

    With Leicester coming up I will do some phoning around.

  29. Ian
    I agree with the PM’s observation that FIFA need to be educated regarding the significance of the wearing of the Poppy.
    The craziest element to me is punishment related to fans wearing them.

    Common sense seems to have gone out of the window but, then again, Football authorities and common sense have always been strangers.

    **AV writes: The rule the FA are now charged with breaking was proposed and lobbied for by, er, the FA. It rules out any personal statement by players. They were concerned at individuals revealing t-shirts with slogans (Robbie Fowler and Dockers, Sasa Curcic denouncing NATO during the Balkans War) and wanted to head it off before it seeped into the international arena. Imagine if Argentina wore a symbol about the Malvinas on a shirt against England? The ban is right and proper. The row is just populist hot air whipped up a point-scoring press and Parliament with an agenda.

    1. Argh!!! You used the words “right and proper”. I accept that it’s a bit of a minefield in terms of setting precedents and it’s become a battle of wills, so we’ll have to wait and see what appropriate punishment is applied.

  30. A shout for Vic’s latest “On Reflection” piece on Mr. Huth.

    My biggest memories of Huth are twofold.

    Holding my head in despair during his – and everyone’s – horror show at Bolton in early 2009.

    Then leaving for Stoke the very moment he began looking like the player we paid for.

    I point you to this brilliant line, from Vic himself…

    “With Boro’s Berlin Wall removed the clean sheet record and unbeaten start followed.”

    That was a real kicker.

    I’d remember it less, I suppose, if Gate’s friend David Walsh of The Sunday Times hadn’t used it as a stick to beat Gibson with as he defended his pal following his sacking.

    1. As I remember it Huth arrived here from Chelsea with a mystery foot injury which we took three seasons to bottom.
      We, of course, had no idea that we had sorted the problem, cue departure for pastures new, and cue return of the brilliant centre back who Chelsea had purchased from the continent. From that moment Stoke have had an established defence, and have risen in the football world, and Huth is still one of the best centre backs in the premiership, and shows no signs of flagging.
      Players, doncha love em?

  31. Simon

    I suppose gate didn’t help his cause with the recruitment of the Donkey St Ledger.

    I do have some sympathy with Gate when left holding the ball as the other members of the Unholy Trinity exited stage left.

  32. While St. Ledger was at Boro, he scored his first international goal, which nearly got Ireland a win over Italy.

    He also scored in one of Southgate’s wins. He may have scored in another had it not been for Leon Best. Then there was that defence splitting pass in the 5-1 win at QPR.

    It’s probably why I think of him more highly than I ought to. Amazing how a few stats can put a spin on things.

    1. I had always rated St Ledger whenever I had seen him play before joining Boro. When he joined us I thought (despite it being a loan with a hefty wedge up front) it would turn out to be very shrewd business.

      By the time he departed I would have happily driven him myself to the opposite end of the Country (make that any European Country) free of charge. I don’t think I recall a more disappointing Boro signing! Well that is apart from Reiziger, Boksic, Boyd, Parlour, Aliadiere, Dong Gook etc………………………..

  33. Can’t agree with Boksic being in that list. One of the best players I’ve seen in a Boro shirt. I know all the arguments about his salary but how else do you get a world class player to the Boro?

    The season Venables ” saved” us I venture that most of the praise should go to Boksic, it was his goals that arguably kept us up.

    1. GHW

      Sick note was unrecognisable after Venables arrived and there are many “stories” floating around the Boro as to why, what happened and what was said.

      He was the main reason in keeping us up undoubtedly but for me he was also the main reason why we were down there in the first place.

      To a lesser extent the same could be levelled at Viduka, anyone else recall the fantastic effort and performances as his contract was ending, strange coincidence.

  34. Redcar Red

    Dong Gook is near the top of any list, or is that near the bottom? His distant cousin, Fook, from Sunderland is pretty close in the list of infamy

  35. Lee Dong Gook – the much maligned.

    Age 37

    Plays for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC

    K League South Korea

    Appearances 244 Goals 124 Avg 2:1+

    Question being for a player so greatly lambasted how is it that he he manages to have a 1 goal per 2 games played average?

    Another question is how did Negredo score so many goals for Man City in the EPL but he has a well below average now at the Boro?

    Perhaps we should consider the dynamic and playing style of the club before criticising the player.

    Just saying like.


    1. Didn’t Guisborough Town have a prolific goal a game Striker in their league? He later signed for a league club I think and then absolutely nothing. Same goes for Dong Goaless Lee, he simply found his level in South Korean Football.

      1. RR
        You’re being a bit cheeky there I think with yer comparison. Guissy Town ain’t the South Korean 1st Div. I’m no expert on football SE Asian like but whatever level yer at a ratio of 2:1+ shouldn’t be mocked IMHO. Take a bit of time to scan thru the stats of the UK leagues and I doubt you’ll find many if any who can get near it.

        Just replyin like.


        1. Kris Boyd scored a sackful of goals in Scotland and didn’t score many for us and Forest, still scored more than the hapless Dong Gook though he failed to score in the top flight and Germany.

          1. Perhaps t Boro are cursed like wot the American NFL team wos, like!
            Maybe Cloughie cursed them on his way out to the Mackems or maybes it was a SE Asian curse wot did it from Gooky coz of all the stick he got from ‘fans’?
            Well, we haven’t had a 20 goal a season striker since the Yak (waitin to be corrected). So, maybes it’s an East African witch doctor’s curse that can only be lifted by the pegging out naked on the pitch at the Riverside Torygraph reader, whilst covered in marmite and forced to sing God save the Queen in Swahili – do we knows anyone of that ilk, Ian?


            1. Just off to the news agent to change my morning paper, cant be the Grauniad because I don’t want endless anagrams.

              The Times it is.

            2. Much maligned, the Gook. I will remind fellow bloggers that I am one of the few to have seen DGL score in a Boro shirt. It was at Mansfield in the FA Cup. Boro won 2-0, I think. The Gook was on fire, as we sang when he scored. Unfortunately, whatever spark had lit his fire failed to reignite after that. The words ‘squib’ and ‘damp’ come to mind. I may be wrong, but I don’t think he ever made the first team again after that.

              Interesting, following on AV’s On Reflection piece on Huth, that the only other major talking point from that game at Mansfield was Huth launching himself two-footed into the chest of their centre-forward. Somehow, the ref only pulled out a yellow card. These days he would have got a red for certain and probably a four week ban to boot (pun intended).

              **AV writes: Chest? Wasn’t it the throat?

  36. Spartak
    You’re right. There are numerous cases throughout Football history ( in my lifetime anyway) where a free scoring striker or ace defender changes club and becomes a “duffer”, so it is difficult to label a player useless without considering all the factors which might affect performance, the exception being Ian’s favourite, Mr. Kinnel, where I think we are unanimous.

    1. Steely

      Fernando Torres fits that description perfectly, just what Boro need right now, an ageing lightweight Striker who used to be good, lost his mojo, hardly played in two years, comes for a huge salary and delivers precisely beggar all.

      He speaks Spanish too apparently which will be a huge plus when he shouts to the midfield defensive three “Qué se supone que debo hasta aquí por mi cuenta?” none of whom will understand a word of it!

  37. It’s got a bit shirty at Helsingborg (That’s Danish 1st Div RR). They’ve taken the fastrack to relegation and woofley yanked the shirt off of their No9, one Larson Jr. Larson Sr has threatened to set the dogs on the woofeyens if they come round his house and chucked his job as manager to boot – vacancy there for any interpid types- you up for it Werder?

    By the by, got into a bit of a disagreement with a Danish biker chap in days of my youth whilst on a brief soujourn to the hggy country. Local police said it was bestvI leave town coz although it ended me 1 biker type 0 he be around next day with the other 50 of his mates all tooled up like. Given I thought discretion was the better valour and all that, I legged it , lol.
    Tell us how yer got on with yer application Werner.

          1. Always thought it strange that a bridge (incredible piece of engineering) was built between Copenhagen and Malmo but not between Helsingor and Helsingborg which is a far shorter distance. Lovely part of the world, I used to spend a lot of time over there with work a few years back.

  38. Just referring to AV’s comment re the FIFA rules and the Poppy, to my mind the Poppy isn’t a political symbol/statement is it? If the Argentinians wanted to remember their war dead fair enough, if they wanted to remember those killed in the Falklands/Malvinas war that’s different.
    isn’t it also true the Irish wore a symbol referring to the Easter rising, or am I mistaken?

    As for Negredo, I’m with Spartak, he isn’t scoring goals because he isn’t good enough, he isn’t scoring because the team isn’t creating enough chances for him or supporting him enough. Its an area of play that needs work and I’m sure AK is on it.

    1. It’s not going to alter that radically, Nigel -AK has his defensive ways and that’s all there is to say about it – Negredo is doin the job AK is tellin him to and so the story continues. There mayb a blip of a 2 or 3 goal win but they’ll be a rarity – mind u I hope I’m wrong.

    2. Nigel
      I share the same view re- the poppy and recognition of war dead.
      I live in hope that AK is indeed working on the Negredo goal scoring problem.

  39. A disappointing time as more on abuse emerges in football. I suspect it isn’t just football, dreadful that it has taken place.

    I doubt it isn’t just in the UK either.

    Depressing is the word that springs to mind.

    1. Ian

      I doubt we have even seen the tip of the Iceberg just yet sadly and it will snowball rapidly.

      Like you say it will not have been in just the UK nor will it have been confined to just football. You can just imagine how many “coaches” from the world of swimming, gymnastics, dance, rugby, basketball, baseball and “soccer” etc. will be twitching nervously.

  40. as there is so much press about Jordan Rhodes ( he should start Saturday ) I would like the club or JR to end any speculation about his future at Middlesbrough…

    1. Never mind ending speculation, I would like AK to end our lack of attempts in the opposition 18 yard box, not bothered if its with Negredo, Rhodes, Stuani or Nugent.

      That said its far more than just simply replacing the Striker. Alone, isolated and with little service and support even the above mentioned Henrik Larsson in his prime would struggle to score in this side.

  41. Elsewhere, that learned journal The Lancet informs us that damage is being done to families mental health around this time of year.

    Telling our children of the impending arrival of a portly gentleman with a white beard and ill fitting red suit creates an atmosphere of mistrust amongst young ones later in their childhood.

    As a family we will be leaving out a tot of Laphroaig, mince pie and carrot on the 24th.

    Bugger the Lancet. There are more things to be concerned about.

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