Watford Sting Rips Up Mogga Script

By Anthony Vickers on Jan 12, 13 08:43 PM

BORO were stung by a well drilled Hornets side staging a shrewdly scripted counter-attacking display.

Watford soaked up the first half pressure and pounced on a defensive blunder to plunder the lead then, as increasingly frantic Boro chased the game, the visitors broke out sharply and clinically to sealing it.

Well, that wasn't supposed to happen.

And for the first 45 minutes there was no real sign that it would. In the first half it looked like it was Tony Mowbray's carefully prepared plot that was unfolding rather than Zola's.

The Hornets were forced to work hard to resist a dominant Boro who bossed possession and created - but wasted - enough clear cut chances to take control of the game and probably to it win too.

Twice Lukas Jutkiewicz was slotted into the box by perceptive well weighted Josh McEachran passes and twice his first touch was poor and he needed to take an extra step to control before he could unload and his shot flew off target.

Scott McDonald also broke into the area from the right but his low shot was just deflected by the outstretched boot of a Watford defender and it squirted into the side netting.

And in the most frustrating - and typical - moment, Boro missed a golden chance set on a diamond encrusted and engraved silver platter.

Jutkiewicz carried it forward then pushed a ball into the box for McEachran who was free and clear and bearing down on goal but with the target looming and the Boro crowd willing for him to shoot from eight yards, he checked inside for a better angle and a stronger foot and that fractional hesitation gave a defender the chance to nick it away.

He almost recovered and poked the loose ball through to Jutkiewicz but it looped at an awkward angle and the defence was back in place before he could profit. The moment was gone and the danger scrambled away.

Had Boro scored when they were dictating the pace and imposing the shape then the visitors, previously wedded to a deep sitting defensive set-up, would have had to change their mentality and come out from their trenches to open up in a bid to salvage the game.

That would have allowed more space for Boro's fluid, penetrating patient passing and movement to scythe through and the crowd would have hailed Mogga's tactical nous.

Even if the game had remained as an ingrained stand-off going into the second half, Boro still would have looked the more likely to grab a goal.

That was the plan anyway. But the plan was balanced on the pivotal first goal going Boro's way... and that's where it went horribly wrong.

"We stressed the importance of not going behind because Watford are probably the best team in the division in that situation," said Mowbray as he explained how the game had drifted away.

"Away from home they are as good a team as there in this league counter-attacking and if we had to chase the game it would make us vulnerable. They had won eight games and scored more goals away from home than anyone else in this league so it was important not to give them a cheap goal.

"But then we shot ourselves in the foot and did it at the worst possible time."

Now, Boro are no strangers to self-inflicted bullet wounds through their collective size tens but this one was a classic of the genre.

Three minutes into first half injury time a harmless looking Cassetti cross floated in from the right and Rhys Williams - still far from up to match sharpness - nonchalently tried to chest the ball back to keeper Jason Steele without checking his blind spot and his weak touch fell disastrously short leaving alert Mataj Vydra to nip in and stab home.

"That has probably cost us the game because of the nature of the team we were playing," said miffed Mowbray. "You could argue we should have taken one of the chances in first half but that was a frustrating and disappointing goal to lose."

After that Boro were forced to commit more men forward and leave space for sharp Watford to exploit ruthlessly with a string of quick breaks that sent Vydra flying forward.

Had it not been for some superb stops from Jason Steele - and that's been a familiar phrase this season - the visitor's victory could have been far more emphatic.

Naturally the Boro supporters trudged away angry and dejected and the mandatory search for a scapegoat began in earnest: Bailey, out of sorts and out of position as a rickety right-back; profligate Jutkiewicz faced flak for needing six touches; Ledesma's over-elaboration and lack of end product; McEachran's rapid fade out after a bright start; Seb Hines; Ishmael Miller; and naturally wobbly Williams came in for stick.

But there were accusing fingers pointed at Mogga too for getting his tactics and selection wrong, for bring back too many men from injury too soon, and more specifically - and marking out a philosophical opposition - for setting out his team to accommodate Watford's style and shape.

The charge is that Mogga is a Teesside tinkerman who over-thinks his tactics and sets to much store in the opposition, that he spends too much time fretting about the strengths and weaknesses of the other lot rather than settling on a side and style and letting them worry about us.

But that is a simplistic view. The Championship is a tough division where anyone can beat anyone - look at the results any given Saturday - and where being tactical predictable makes you vulnerable.

Unless you are light years ahead of the rest - and Boro are not - it makes perfect sense to look for fatal flaws to exploit and take precautions against match-winning men and moves and give yourself an edge wherever you can, even if it just a few per cent.

That is Mowbray's approach. There were few complaints about it during the 10 game unbeaten run that put Boro in the running. And as the team is still two points off the automatic spots it is hard to argue convincingly argue it is fundamentally wrong.

Mowbray has switched formations, styles, tempos and tactics from game to game since the day he arrived in a bid to get an edge over the opposition and the record over the past two years shows he has got it right more often that he has got it wrong.

There have been times it didn't go to plan, most notably at home to Bristol City this term but even then he put his hand up to the error He understands the risks inherent in the approach. Sometimes you are out-thought. Sometimes you get it right tactically but the team are out-fought anyway. Sometimes it comes down to a mistake. Fine margins.

And it is hard to argue too that he got the tactics wrong against Watford. In fact, the evidence of the first half is that he got the tactics bang on.

Had he gone for the jugular from the off - as some of his critics suggest Boro should do in every game no matter what - the second half sting scenario may have arrived sooner and more brutally with Watford punishing a cavalier approach.

The game plan was sound - it was just undone by individual errors in both boxes.


james cooper said:

Boro still full of Christmas pudding, attack build up was so slow Watford had time to have a cup of tea and a biscuit before we put a cross in.

When we put a cross in, it was always a high ball, even when target man Jutkiewicz was taken off. He is not the man for the job. Does he have his heart on Teesside? Miller once again plodded around. Tell him penalty area Stay!

All in all bad show failed to spark What I mean was they were rubbish. All puff and no go.

Sandy said:

Wotcha guys. Golden opportunity to move into second place, however after watching the match my thoughts are that Boro can forget about promotion 'period'.

The commentator stated Boro have won 5 and lost 5 of the last 10 games, make that lost 6 of the last eleven. That my friends is not promotion form, sorry to burst the bubble rose coloured glasses brigade. Watford murdered us,

Being realistic they should have scored four or five but for the heroics of Jason Steele. Toothless in attack, pedestrian in defence, and these players form the basis of a promotion team, forget it.......

Jarkko said:

I missed the first 30 min of the match on TV but BBC showed that we had 69 % of possession in the first half an hour.

But what I saw from then on, it was very much like the Derby match that I saw live. We didn't worry Watford at their penalty area and Rhys made a bad error again. Our returning players are still a bit rusty and I have to say the the second half was terribly. Watford murdered us.

I must just believe what Mogga said that we were well on top for the first 30 min and up to the Rhys mistake. So I hope we will raise our game at Leicester.

Rhys is still my favourite player. But you can see he's been away for a long time. In was shown in the last two league matches. But why we lost was the final third non-activity with no real goal opprtunies.

We cannot lose many matches any more. We must get back to the two points per match level. So a lot of work to be done as we must collect more points than before Xmas.

Interesting to note that Bristol have dismissed their manager yesterday. Surely this must mean McManus is coming back to us. He is welcome to return but means Mogga has less leeway to oparate in the transfer market. If he chooses to.

Up the Boro!

Forever Dormo said:

Boro didn't play well. It isn't enough to have lots of possession in the middle of the field if you don't convert that into shots and headers on target. Their keeper will not regard that as being the hardest game of his season.

Not many of our team had good games. It seemed as though too many of them had been rushed back when they weren't quite ready, when another week on the training pitch might have been a better idea. And one of the first comments I heard at the stadium was that the manager can't have that much faith in Parnaby if he choses to play Bailey (who gave the ball away several times in the first half) at right back.

I didn't think we really looked like winning at any stage in the game. Not even in the first half when it was still 0-0 and we had possession in their half. We were being very laboured in moving forward, with lovely little triangles in midfield which threatened no-one, but no real THRUST towards their goal.

I thought Steele had a decent game and Seb Hines (more later) but a number of players who normally dominate at this level didn't, this time out. That is not to say Leadbitter and Friend had BAD games, just that there was something they produce most weeks that was not quite there.

Two thoughts: one is that Reach must surely be worth a start? He makes things happen on the field. He runs at players at speed which obviously discomforts defenders - do they dive in and attempt a tackle and risk a yellow card, or attempt to jockey him...but then he might have space to put in a cross? He put their defenders under threat when he came on. Vitually his first act was a first-time shot that was not far wide. That would have changes the game.

We need players to take a chance on goal, like he did. He looks a very good prospect and it was no surprise when he beat the defender to drop a cross onto McDonald's head for our consolation goal at the end. Now, if he had been on from the start...

Secondly, and to show football really is a game of opinions, my mate heard this comment at half-time as we made our way down the stairs to the concourse. "I just want to say two words that sum up that first-half-performance - Seb Hines!!" (spoken in a tone which made it very clear the speaker was unimpressed.).

Although Seb missed the target with a first-half header (has someone ground angles onto his forehead?) I felt that he played reasonably well, doing most of everything that was expected of him in a defensive capacity. That is what centre-backs are primarily there to do, isn't it?

The game lacked atmosphere and seemed almost like a training match. If there were many taking advantage of the friend and family ticket offer, I wonder how many will have enjoyed the experience so much they will want to return?

Not a good afternoon for the players. Not a good afternoon for the spectators. Not a good afternoon for our prospects of promotion. The important question is whether the players and Mogga can turn it around for next week. Leicester away, playing very well at the moment, will be an even tougher assignment than Watford at home.

We flunked a tough A Level exam in physics. Now, can we pass the degree exam? Some revision is needed this week.

Pedro de Espana said:

Any thoughts of an automatic promotion place are just a pipedream, although I still believe we can make the plays offs, but over the two or three games will not have the defensive capability to win through.

As I have said before the defence has let us down and is generally not good enough, Steel aside. For me TM´s big mistake was in signing Woodgate and not a more reliable CH. He seems to be the managers number one choice when fit, but when is he? All this chopping and changing cannot help at all.

At the other end the forwards have let us down also, I accept that, but then they are all the managers players now, excluding the top goal scorer.

I think Leicester will go up automatically with Cardiff. Then it is more a throw of the dice.

It will be interesting to see how many Wood scores for Leicester before the seasons out, and he only cost the same as Lukas!!!

Mark said:

We are nothing more than a decent championship side that will have good runs and then slumps, good enough to keep us in touch all season and raise our hopes but not good enough to make that final decisive push.

I said the season we came down that clubs that sell all their best players do not get promoted. I also say that clubs that either won't or can't invest will not get promoted

TMs inexplicable refusal to use MacDonald in the first part of the season will haunt him and us at the end of the season. We will not get promoted !!

mickymac said:

Whoever scored the first goal was always going to win the game, and so it proved. Watford were defending with ten men around the box even in stoppage time with a two goal cushion.Poor finishing again let us down, it may have helped to go 4-4-2 second half and have our forwards in the box and not on the wings.

gt said:

Just wanted to say something I'ive wanted to for a while but I kept thinking I must be missing something... this left back we have that everyone keeps going on about, - I'm sorry but he makes Frankie Spraggon look like Roberto Carlos.

Redcar Red said:

Tactical traumas tested our resolve yesterday afternoon.

Bails is one of the best midfield players in this Division, unfortunately he doesn't even cut it as an average right back. No disrespect to him as he gave 110% as ever but he was like a fish out of water defensively and only looked remotely at ease when pushing forward.

With Parnaby on the bench one has to wonder what voices were going on inside Mogga’s head, probably the same self destructing pessimistic over analytical ones which nullifies our ability in an attempt to confuse and compound the opposition (not for the first time this season).

There were too many below par performances yesterday, indeed were it not for Teesside Steele himself it could have been four or five. Injuries and/or a lack of match sharpness and fitness may account for Messr’s Hines, Williams, McEachran and Haroun but Bails at RB and sterility in the final third was too much to overcome on the day.

Halfway through the season it is now clear that we are not scoring as freely or as many as we would like or indeed considering our total dominance for the opening 25 minutes yesterday should be.

I believe that in Scott MacDonald we have potentially the best finisher in the Division bar none. I’m less than convinced about the Juke (who unfortunately is now being labelled as something similar in spelling albeit swapping one vowel for another by some sections in the North Stand).

Then there’s Big Ish who I believe could offer a good partnership with Scotty if only they were not playing out wide and putting balls into the middle where the strikers should be. Interesting to contrast tactics/styles with Vydra who marauded down the middle.

Our attacking tactics are not getting us the returns we require, with most of our games we seem to struggle through with one goal often being the difference. I believe that the Juke’s workrate is up there with the best but as warned by Cov fans at the time he needs five chances to get close plus he needs a few touches to get composed by which time the opportunity has gone.

If he is to improve one of the coaches needs to start analysing how he brings the ball under control, where the positioning of his feet are, the angle of his back and when he hits it is he leaning back, leaning over, hitting with the inside/outside/centre of his foot and then compare and contrast with the best in class. If not he will remain a journeyman striker who never quite reaches his potential. He is still young enough with good coaching to come on leaps and bounds.

Boro as is customary are going through their habitual New Year slump and I’m sure we will improve but there needs to be less over-tactical pessimistic preparation and far greater confidence boosting positivity.

Leicester looms and typical Boro will probably turn up and outfox the Foxes but not with Bails at RB or Rhys struggling to read and anticipate. He needs to be his decisive self as usual and take no chances.

Ledesma needs to prove he has an end product and like Juke needs to compose himself around the 18 yard box. Reach needs to start, thereby providing service, width, pace and a threat to give Nigel some tactical headaches of his own.

lenmasterman said:

Anyone read a good book lately?

Paul said:

I'll start with an apology. I always feel I write something when I am feeling particularly negative. I think it's that depressed feeling that motivates me to type!! (Probably typical of most pessimistic football fans!)

I felt really flat after yesterday's game. The defence had a nightmare. I personally didn't think seb Hines had that bad a game yesterday I felt Rhys had a stinker. However the problem with Hines is that he always looks so indecisive. The one thing a centre back needs is to make a decision and stick to it, whether that's hoofing it long, scything down a player, Hines unfortunately seems to dither both with the ball and positionally. He just never leaves me feeling confident and unfortunately the goals conceded column backs this up.

My next moan was nicky bailey at right back. The guy doesn't move!! When you are playing a midfield with no wingers you must have attacking full backs. I think it's appalling that a sportsman who is payed thousands a week does not have the energy to bust a gut up and down the line. Granted it is not his usual position but surely he should be fitter, more athletic and slimmer than he is.

My other point. Where is the width? We play so narrow everything is tried to be threaded through the oppositions defence. I wouldn't mind but we have a striker who thrives on crosses and instead we play to his biggest weakness which is running onto through balls when he has so little pace it's scary. As soon as we get to the line and whip a ball into the box surprise surprise goal. I think that was the first cross of note of the entire afternoon.

On a positive, Mowbray has improved the squad no end while saving millions. That is impressive. We have players capable of winning matches far more so than last year. If we get carayol fit and play with him and reach on either wing we'll win far more matches than we lose. I think woodgate and bikey should be our first choice pairing. I would have Williams at right back where he plays for Australia and where his engine can be fully utilised. Him and friend on either side with carayol and reach in front would be exciting!

kev B said:

I woke up this morning and discovered the Watford defeat wasn't just a bad dream. I shouldn't have been surprised, I warned of it in the Navi pre match banter.

A classic counter attacking side, Watford were gifted the most generous of leg ups courtesy of Rhys Williams and the die was cast. We huffed and puffed, but failed.

The results around us can be looked at two ways in this crazy division. Yes, we got away with it, no further behind 2nd place than before (we will never win the Championship will we?) Yet, the feeling that a great opportunity has slipped past us won't go away.

I know, I know that it is the Boro way; that is, to do it the hard way.But with the rest bunching up behind us, and a very difficult match on Friday to come against Leicester, I have a horrible feeling it will get worse before it gets better.

Incidently, I have to say that I was right in my assessment that ticket offers such as the one for this game for season cardholders never work. 17,000 in my opinion is a failure, and Boro need to assess just what to do to get this ground close to full.

The Fiday televised game offer earler in the campaign clearly worked, this didn't. Go back to the previous offer, and if they want to offer something for season card holders (don't think we are made of glass, most of us aren't bothered by the cheap tickets, we just want the ground full!) then make a statement that if Boro get to a major semi or Wembley final, then all card holders will be guarenteed two tickets without queuing, and I think that would be good enough to keep most happy.

timfromsa said:

My late night comments of despair on the earlier thread remains I am afraid.

The pattern forming is so similar to last season it could be a replay.

A huge pity as all but City dropped points we could have gone second with a home win against Watford. No Disrespect to Watford intended at all.They have done what Boro did last year with good away form.

The only saving grace is the top two don't seem to want or are not good enough to pull away from the pack.

Well hoping we can get the fire back because a decent run now could see us back in it when we really should be dead and buried on our current form.

Ian Gill said:


Dug out one of my old paperbacks - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. I wanted something cheery.

John Dobson said:

I am pleased to see that Forever Dormo pretty well agrees with me about Reach.

The boy is of the old school when body swerve left the opposition floundering. He will develop into a top rate player. Just watch this space.I still say we will be lucky to hang on to him

Steve said:

Oh dear is it fair to say Boro's bubble is bursting?

I went on Saturday and I went to the Derby away defeat and it must be said although we had excuses of a massive injury list at Derby on Saturday the same cannot be used.

The major concern and reason for are apart lack of form is we never seem to keep a clean sheet. This has to be down to the constant changing of the back four. You can chop and change front two's and even midfields but its a fact that everyone knows that good clubs are built on a solid back five that plays with each other week in week out.

Ok I know we have had injuries to Friend and Hoyte but it must also be noted the two centre backs almost change weekly. So far the most successful has to be the Woody and Bikey combo. Then Woody gets injured or rested and Seb Hines come in then dropped because Woody is good to go again. Then Williams has to come in because he is the club captain and Bikey is's crazy. Who are the first choice centre half's??

Is it just me or are we conceding more goals since Bikey has been out? I think we do not give him enough credit as he adds a physical element that the others don't. I also think as good as Woody is when he plays can a club like us pay him the wages we are for a player that's going to struggle to play two games in a week?

Bailey at right back? Not sure about that one but hey I trust Mogga....that said what must Parnaby think? I also think Adam Reach has to be given a real run in the side as he is far and away are most direct and exciting player.....young and crazy at times but exciting. I am no tactical expert but let's go back to 4-4-2 at home with skippy actually playing alongside Juke/Ish rather than on the wing.

I know we have no money and wages are tight but when you see Leicester signing Chris Wood for £1.2m it makes my blood boil as the guy's a goal machine.....far better value than Emnes or Juke.

Again I know we have no money and I doubt we will get anyone but for me if we can get some of the wages and bit part players off the books and add a more direct player.

I have a couple of ideas and not bank breakers: Chris Burke from Brum is linked with a move away for around £500k direct and a 'old-school' wide man who I think Juke would benefit from (also always has a blinder against Boro).

Also maybe slightly more but his contract runs out in the summer George Boyd from Posh...a proven champo player who can play in a variety of positions and always hits double figures.

That said a big plus is that Muzzy is on his way back and if he shows the form he did before he got injured he could be like a new signing and a real bonus for us.

It's not all doom and gloom we are 5th but just two points of 2nd but we must start improving soon. Unfortunately for us we have Leicester next but a great place to get going again and make a statement and go second live on TV. said:

Ian -

Great post.

I have little sympathy for Denisovich. He should never have signed for Chelsea in the first place.

Nigel Reeve said:

I'm just off down the library to get myself a good book........

Ian Gill said:

Nigel -

How about The Spire by William Golding? A story about a man building a glorious edifice without stable foundations. A tale of owning football clubs maybe.

I must lie down as I have a meeting with my Leicester supporting accountant tomorrow.

Jarkko said:

Steve -

A good summary of the current situation. We need consistency and especially so at the back. And Muzzy is soon back.

I agree that Reach was lively when he came on but then he disappeared in the 2nd half (until he assisted the goal, that is!).

But I don't thiink our bubble has bust yet. We are there in the mix and can only improve. Hope the injuries are over for a while. Rhys can only get better and Bikey is fit now.

Up the Boro!

Forever Dormo said:

Jarkko -

Reach came on as substitute with just over half an hour of the match to go.

It is now snowing in the UK. About 2 inches (5 cm) on the ground. Expecting icebergs to appear in the mouth of the River Tees very soon.

lenmasterman said:

Wonder how much the experts at the SFA are getting paid? The ones who made the inspired decision to appoint Strachan as Scottish coach. I feel deeply sorry for all Scots. At least the decision gets the wee man off our screens as a TV pundit.

**AV writes: It is a reflection of the diminished status of Scottish football. Every one of the candidates the SFA want - Fergie, Moyes on the A list then probably Mackay, Coyle and even McLeish on the B list - won't touch it with a bargepole while they still have a functioning club career.

Richard said:


Did "the Authorities" factor the threat of iceberg migration into the Redcar offshore wind farm risk assessment? Or is it assumed that the lowered freezing point of water and any hot condensate thermal currents in aqueous effluent streams from the Tees estuary will somehow act as a Jason Steele style, East-West defence against some form of one-in-nine-point-six-million titanic incident?

GS2 for the Scotland managers job, eh? Not a lot one can say to that. But I'm sure many will! (Or at least be very tempted!)

jiffy said:

Basically what you are saying AV is that Mogga's tactics were absolutely spot on IF Boro had got that all important breakthrough and preferably two or three up.

OK but what about Plan B if we went behind? It seemed he had no idea what to do in that situation. Given how rarely we keep a clean sheet a Watford goal at some point in the game was a nailed on certainty.

And relying on the likes of Juke to get our noses well in front is pure fantasy.

**AV Writes: What I am saying is going into the game the set-up and approach was tactically astute and we had the players to make it work. It was the "right "solution to the problem presented by Watford, even if in the end it didn't work out.

Plus, a considered game-by-game approach to games is generally a good thing and that it has worked more often than not. So don't panic and demand Mogga throw the baby out with the bath-water because of a set-back.

Smoggy In Exile said:

If it looks like a typical Boro January slump.

If it feels like a typical Boro January slump.

It is sounds like a typical Boro January slump.

Is it time to start calling it a typical Boro January slump?

I partly jest, as we've only had two games so far in the league this year, but the results do not look good reading. Given that we only have one more league game before the end of the month, Leicester could either leave us waiting until February for the first points of 2013, or give us a welcome kick up the backside. I've got a sneaky feeling it may be a gritty draw.

I'm hoping that we are not seeing the repeat, super-extended 7 inch remix of last years calamitous January capitulation, but you can never be sure. Surely there were "lessons learned" from last year, and despite an injury crisis this season, the squad certainly seems more balanced. Perhaps we just lack that little bit of quality to mark ourselves out as a top-two side?

I also am an occasional subscriber to the view that Mogga out-thinks himself from time to time. I understand his thinking, RE Watford, but once we went down the tunnel a goal down it was surely the time to change things up immediately, bring on Reach and change the shape? To wait a further 15mins gave Watford some time to settle in to the game and didn't ask any questions that they hadn't already answered successfully.

A painful defeat, which could perhaps have been avoided, and hopefully not symptomatic of a deeper malaise. Let's hope for some points, and even better "doing a Watford", against Leicester on Friday.

Grove Hill wallah said:

In light of the opposition manager I feel a letter coming on...


Dear Tony,

If it aint broke don't fix it. If you have a recognised right him! Stop messing about and overegging the puddings (the first team squad).

Football is a simple game, the team that scores the most wins. Play your best team and (injuries permitting) stick with it.

Spartakboro said:

Dear All,

the wins or the losses, the up's or the down's, as of GS1/2, TM and as all who went before, the buck stops at their manager's door.

They're the ones that ride the highs, they're the ones who help us reach the skies.
Yet when it goes wrong and it surely will, we're the ones who swallow the bitter pill.

Whoever it is they decide to play, that decides whether we go or stay. Success for them you can be assured, will transfer to us to be procured. But fail as ultimately they will do, leaves us all right in the ****.

Who would put their house on the line that Boro will get auto-promo this year? Not I said the fox.

UTB (written more in hope than expectation).

Ian Gill said:

AV -

I have avoided criticising Mogga over the Watford game because the team went out to impose themselves and did. The fact we were undone by a mistake happens.

There is a difference between adapting your tactics to doing what happened against Bristol City.

I even remember yourself not so long ago talking about getting on the front foot rather than sitting back in one of your blogs or maybe someone else wrote it when you werent looking.

The fact Watford scored from their only chance in the first half shows we approached the game in the right way.

Friday is loomimg and points from unexpected sources wouldnt go amiss.

Forever Dormo said:

Richard at 11.23am -

I suspect one thing "the Authorities" didn't factor in to the erection of offshore wind turbines at Redcar, was the eyesore effect that will be apparent from the beach or the Esplanade when all the windmills are up and funtioning.

I am sure they will have taken into account the chances of marine collision from boats/ships in the locality during adverse weather conditions. But both Redcar & Coatham piers were struck by shipping during stormy weather and (1) there were only two of them and there are lots of windmills in the course of construction (2) the windmills are much further out from the beach and nearer the shipping lanes (3) the paddles on the windmills move and might (?) be vulnerable from high-sided container and other ships as they pass. Could be interesting.

No doubt in a few years observers will note that the rust streaked objects on the horizon seem to be still, rather than rotating, for a large percentage of the time. We will see...

Len -

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the Scots' decision to employ GS2 as manager. This may not go down too well on this blog, populated as it may be by a large number of England football followers, but my wife is Scots and I have a warm spot for Scotland. I hope in a few years they will not be vying with the Faeroe Islands for a place near the foot of the football table.

Jiffy & AV -

I think we can agree that Mogga gives very detailed analysis to the teams we play, their tactics, the ablilty of their players and their preferred method of operating etc. Sometimes if you are confident in the ablilty of your team, there is much to be said not for going "gung-ho" but at least letting the other side worry about YOUR team, rather than the other way about.

I suspect Hungary in the 1950's weren't worried about England's method of play or their previously "unbeaten by foreigners" home record, not their defence away from home. They knew they had the better players, so the players went out and played.

I guess the same is true of Real Madrid in the 1950/60s, Barcelona and Spain now, Brazil in several eras and, on the domestic front, Liverpool in the 1970/80s and Manchester United since the Premier League opened its turnstiles. I won't mention Rangers and Celtic in their century-old tango in Scotland (because, as we know now, it takes two to tango and one of the partnership has gone missing from action).

When teams are good, even very good like Barcelona are right now, they cannot be certain to win (as against Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final last year). But if they had played Chelsea 10 times, I think they would probably have won at least six, drawn maybe two and lost no more than two. And that is against Chelsea!

never give up on Boro said:

Boro need to find some consistency quickly and stop shooting themselves in the foot. Every time we get the chance to move into second place they blow it. Too many defeats and another hard game coming up on Friday!

If we don't get up this season then we can kiss good bye to the likes of Williams, Friend, Steele and make it even harder to get out of the Championship.

Two points from second but with the points we threw away against Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds and Watford we should be challenging Cardiff for the top spot!

Time for the players to stand up and be counted and prove they have the desire and ability to get into the premiership!!

peterboroangel said:

Keep your head up folks.

There are going to be a lot more downs before the end of the season, but anything could still happen.

Forever Dormo said:

"Time for bed", said Zebedee. (And he was right).

timfromsa said:

Interesting talk on tactics deployed by the Boro on the blog.

What tactics for Friday then? With the Foxes the form team in the league at the moment and scoring goals for fun what to do? Put five across the middle to check them will hardly boost our chances of winning but possibly the right thing for Mogga to do against this team.

Or go for the win which we all think we can do knowing that another setback will bring the chasing pack ever closer.

The back will be exposed as like Saturday and we will no doubt leak a goal or two.
Not as easy as it sounds due to the quality of the opposition we are playing.
I will be very very happy if we get a draw in this one not everyone will be.

Ian Gill said:

As I get ready to grit the road outside my house the words of wisdom come from Rafa. He has been looking at the stats and Chelsea are scoring goals and not conceding many and he is putting their improvement down to this.

So there, it appears the answer is to score more than the opposition.

Jarkko said:

By the end of this season, it will be more than 40 years since the Wearsiders won their last major trophy.

I don't even remember when Newcastle won anything at all. So we are by far the most succesfull team in the North East this century.

Boro must now get promoted and hopefully win the FA Cup. But promotion must the the main target - otherwise all the "local" teams will be in the Champioship next season.

Up te Boro!

jarkko said:

About last Saturday. We needed to score a goal in the first half after the 69 per cent of possesion. But didn't. So let's not blame the defence only. A team game.

Up the Boro!

Nigel Reeve said:

Ian and I dont always agree on mogga's tactics etc but on this occasion we're on the same page. Against Watford Mogga's team selection and tactics resulted in Boro being the dominant team.

The fact his strikers couldn't take the chances when they came and that players will always make mistakes is out of the managers control.

We're heading toward the sharp end of the season now, we'll know by the end of the month whether or not we're going to be automatic promotion contenders or heading for the play offs.

Looking forward to the Leicester match, you never know......

lenmasterman said:

Good evening and welcome to another edition of Knee-Jerk Corner, the place where you can over-inflate our prospects after a good result, and prophesy plague and pestilence after a defeat.

This is the 33rd edition of the programme this season, coincidentally exactly the same number of games that the Boro have played.

As usual we have invited manager Tony Mowbray, and distinguished journalist, Anthony Vickers, to take part in the show, but they have declined. Make of that what you will.

At the moment, of course, we are on an unstoppable downward spiral, a condition which will almost certainly be exacerbated on Friday evening when we meet high-flying Leicester City, a team unaccountably on the same number of points as we are at the moment.

Well, that's enough from me, let's get on with the show and hear from our next contributor, who is.........

CroydonBoro said:

Even taking onboard everything you've said AV, playing Bailey at right back with Parnaby on the bench seems willful at best.

If Parnaby wasn't carrying a knock what must he have been thinking?
And bless Bailey, he's many things but a natural fullback isn't one of them.

That said, he is a trier and I can't fathom why anyone would want to barrack him when played so badly out of position. (The numpty squad aside that is.)

**AV writes: Absolutely. Bails at right-back was bizarre one. He had played there and done well at Watford and I think he may have slotted in for the last 20 once or twice but he is far from being a specialist. I think Parnaby is carrying a bit of a knock but even so Mogga said he preferred a more defensively minded player there and that is quite an indictment of a specialist full-back.

Ian Gill said:

Nigel -

I must admit my view is to do what you do best. We seem to be better when we pass, move and press especially at home.

At times over the last season or so we have looked as if all we have been bothered about is countering the opposition. We have seemed guilty of waiting to see what transpires, Moggas own words and even AV has commented the same.

I am sure the players go out to put on a good performance. As the season has progressed we appear to have been on the front foot more often. Occasionally you get stung.

Despite the incorrect view that some of us believe we should be going for the jugular all the time there is nothing to stop you being positive.

4-5-1 can be used positively. That depends on whether the orders are to spring in to space or dont advance beyond the half way line.

Percypieblocks said:

The first question Gordon Trashcan was asked after being installed as Scotlands new manager was:
How do you think you'll perform with 11 Scots in your team? As the last time you tried it, it didn't go too well did it?.
Still waiting for the reply.
(To be fair I do hope he does ok).

Redcar Red said:

On Friday Mogga needs to play Bails in front of the spluttering centre backs (perm any two from four). Hopefully Bikey will be back as despite his occasional lapses he is tougher, stronger and more determined than Woody, Hines or Williams.

Parnaby must return at RB with Ledesma in front of him and Reach in front of Friend on the opposite flank. That leaves Leadbitter as the ball winner in the middle and I would play McDonald in there just with him as he can and will track, scrap and tackle plus push forwards to support the Juke when opportunity permits.

McEachran presumably is struggling so dont risk him, Faris hasn't done enough for me for a start in the line up and Big Ish has a Hammy apparently. One of Woody or Hines on the bench if Bikey plays and perhaps Halliday if he is up for it. Tommo is due another sub role along with Zemmama leaving Leutwiler with perhaps Luke.

There should be enough craft and graft along with pace and trickery on the flanks to catch the Foxes on the break and who knows Juke may be able to turn and shoot on target just once or twice to nick it!

Typical Boro will probably upset the form book but we need Bails to cut out runs down the middle and them getting into our centre backs without being cut up first.

lenmasterman said:

How to kill a lively discussion in one easy lesson.

Apologies all round.

Tosh said:

Talk of returning players ie Rolls Royce Williams being ring rusty is just being in denial of the truth that Williams was just as an ineffective defender prior to his lay off, as he is proving to be now.

He returned in the second half against Blackpool when we were 2-0 up and we conceded two (nearly three, missed pen) in the 2nd half. We conceded three against Derby (Steele kept it to 3) 2 against Watford with Steele being man of match again.

We were told that injuries to key players would mean that on their return results would improve even further; on this evidence the opposite is happening.

Rhys Williams may have potential to become a Rolls Royce of a footballer in another position, but he has not got what it takes to become an effective no nonsense, resolute, cunning, crafty and gritty central defender that succeeds at this level.

In other words, is he a square peg in a round hole that lacks physical and mental toughness to carry out the role asked of him? He appears to reflect the character of the whole team - a Mr Nice Guy flattering to deceive.

Further; you can analyse the flaws of the opposition till the cows come home but it's pointless if you are unable or unwilling to recognise the fundamental flaws in your own team.

The pattern of performance has been remarkably predictable for two seasons - stuck in a groove, of pointless, pedestrian possession, punchless up front, with a proclivity of giving soft goals away at the back due to lack of organisation, concentration and determination.

A lack of nous at exploiting and defending set-piece situations is also a glaring weakness. As we know this division is wide open and it's probably the teams that acquire these capabilities most effectively that will succeed.

Unfortunately, it has not been evident yet at the Boro, so one can be forgiven for feeling that it probably will not happen any time soon.

Would love to be proved wrong.

Ian Gill said:

Redcar Red -

There has been debate about someone watching the shop for some time. I am sure using someone like Bails or Smallwood in front of the back four has been a regular feature of John's Boro Banter pieces.

It will be intriguing to see if the match goes ahead, there is forecast to be lots of snow tomorrow

Nigel Reeve said:

I hope to see Bailey playing in front of the back four tomorrow and hopefully a rigth back playing at.....right back. Maybe we need to do a Watford to Leicester, that would be nice.

len -

Don't apologise, it was an excellent and amusing commentary, my concern isn't the one defeat, it is the run of form over the last ten games. Have a look at the BBC website. We need to pick up our form asap if we're to have any chance of a top two finish.

Redcar Red -

Bikey tougher than Woody? I don't think so. He may look it but don't judge a book by its cover, toughness is in the mind. Woody is a genius at defending, his awareness and anticipation are superb, he's in a different class to the second best centre back in the championship and on a different planet to Bikey.

Geordie la Forge said:

Knee-jerk corner? Bipolar world more like. In my view we need more satire Mr Masterman. Have you ever considered taking over presenting the Boro hour?

I was struck by the comment in TV's the Championship that that there had been five fitness tests before kick-off at the Riverside.

You can expect things to go wrong if you have too many enforced team changes. Bearing in mind we have nothing like the settled teams that featured in our promotion seasons, I think current position, just two points off an automatic place is highly satisfactory.

The most memorable book I have read recently is Don Winslow's "the power of the dog".

Powmill said:

Apologies that this is totally off the thread(s) but I see that Suarez has admitted diving against Stoke. I believe Liverpool have said they will discipline him, but I wonder if the FA will take up the matter.

Personally I think football is a team game, so for anyone seen to be deliberately cheating in this manner, I think the retrospective penalty should be against his team. After all, it is the team that gains the advantage, not the individual. One point deduction for every case of diving would very soon cut out the problem.

BTW, agree Bailey in front of the back four please ..... how far way is Caryol from putting in an appearance?

And Len, nothing to apologise for. The youth of today have no idea what a privilege it is to have an online blog after every match. Luxury, why, when I was a lad you were lucky if you got to read Mitchell in the Saturday night pink edition, through the grease of yer chips on a Monday tea-time. Luxury.....

**AV writes: Carayol is running and doing light training. Starts contact work next week I think. Maybe two or three weeks away.

Ian Gill said:

I may have misunderstood but reading the report on the main site there is a few paragraphs about young Neil Lowry coming over from Ballymena United for a trial.

Here are the words of his manager

“At this moment in time I don’t think Neil is quite ready for (our) first team but I think he’s too good for the reserves so we talked about sending him out on loan to one of the top Championship teams to give him more playing experience at a good level,” added Ferguson.

At first reading that puts us behind an Irish league team! Eighth out of twelve in the Danske Bank Premiership.

He must mean playing for our reserves surely!

**AV writes: Boro have trialists like this all the time but they usually go under the radar. This one has gone public because Ballymena have made a noise about it at their end. I think they they think they have got the new George Best. We'll see, He is coming for a trial so Dave Parnaby and Mogga can have a good look.

Boro are thinking of him as being more like a Christian Burgess signing to be slotted into the U21 side rather than as a first team signing.

Redcar Red said:

Nigel -

On his day Woody is probably the best CB in England, the Premiership and Terry and Ferdinand et al included. That however is my problem with him as he simply doesn't have many days and its minutes on the pitch defending that's of more practical use to me (and Mogga).

That's why I prefer Bikey, you can't build unless you have solid foundadtions and if Woody starts we are all wondering how long he will last and if he does last the 90 minutes we are unlikely to see him again any time soon and all the shuffling with the central pairing is one of the causes of our goals against column.

As much as I rate Woody I think Mogga dropped a clanger bringing him back. Rhys and Seb historically have poor injury records so we couldn't afford the luxury of a part time classy CB to join them on the treatment table.

A fully fit Woody would be great but I have only seen glimpses of the player he once was which is fine but we can't afford cameos in my opinion. So for me Bikey is the most resolute and dependable (including his wayward moments).

Anyway tomorrow may be a non event judging by the weather forecast which ironically may be a good result for us considering all the fitness and injuries we still have.

Forever Dormo said:

I imagine that, whatever the weather, Leicester will be absolutely desperate to ensure the match will be played - they won't want to lose the Sky money and there is no certainty that, if the game were to be postponed, it would be televised on the rescheduled date.

As we speak there will be people laying warm blankets on the pitch, whilst others put their 50 pence coins in the meter to power the undersoil heating...

**AV writes: I spoke to the Leicester Mercury Foxbot today and he was adamant the match was in no danger whatsoever... undersoil heating.... roads well gritted... good access.... close to motorway... no snow in the area.... club determined to get the game on now when in top form... pressure from Sky to play no matter what etc

But then there is the encroaching #SNOWMAGGEDON

Major heavy snowfall and widespread disruption expected in East Midlands from 3pm and temperatures about -2 after dark (plus winchill) and more light snow later on. I'll be checking before I set off. We'll see.

Ian Gill said:

An inch covering of snow here in Derby which started last night. The main falls due to come pm. It looks like Derby will get more than Leicester but that can easily change.

The Foxes have a free pie and pint offer on tonight and the fans I speak to expect the game to go ahead.

Percypieblocks said:

I think (think) that the championship he was talking about is the division under the one they are themselves in.

Percypieblocks said:

AV -

Any truth in the stories doing the rounds regarding Emnes and Bailey in talks with other clubs?

**AV writes: Not that I've heard. My understanding is that the club are not actively trying to shift anyone other than McManus but would consider sensible offers for a few of the bigger earners.

They club wouldn't stand in the way of a Bailey exit as he can leave in the summer on a free anyway and they could then spend the wages elsewhere. Can't see them getting anything other than a nominal fee though. Emnes would only be available if someone offered real money but Mogga likes him - on his day he offers a bit of trickery no one else can - so would prefer to keep.

Grove Hill wallah said:

Southampton sacking Nigel Adkins is a big shock. I think the directors have just signed their own relegation death warrant.

I think a postponement tonight would be in our best interests. It will give our injured players much needed time.

**AV writes: It shows a very skewed view of where the club have come from over the past three years. Even they go straight back down he has still done an incredible job. They are now faced with disruption at a crucial point.

Ian Gill said:

Pay on the gate is now ruled out as I cant get out of my gate never mind get to Leicester.

I must tell the truth, I would get out of my gate then end up sliping down to the bottom of the hill and park up next to railings that stop us joining the road that runs around where we live.

My three local matches come and gone but a point by the Trent, priceless.

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