Tuesday, 10 April 2012

A Few Thoughts About Boro’s Season So Far

Taken from my Wordpress blog

Firstly this isn't an attack on Tony Mowbray. What it is hopefully is a little dose of realism to where we actually are compared to last season. Now I appreciate that when Mogga took over we were languishing towards the bottom of the league but the recent spell of results we have had is similar to Strachan's poor start, so I feel it fair to compare them currently.


Here's a few stats with regards to our recent form and what is was last season with 4 games to go:
Last season at this stage in the season we had 50 points and were in 18th position.

This season we have 63 points and are in 8th position.

Mowbray won the last 4 games of the season against Hull, Coventry, Cardiff and Doncaster (who all finished 11th, 18th, 4th and 21st respectively) which pushed us up to our final position of 12th.

Our last 6 games form at this point last season was P6 W2 D3 L1 F12 A12 Pts 9

And this season our last 6 games for is P6 W0 D4 L2 F7 A6 Pts 4

In the league at this point last season we had scored 56 goals and conceded 65 (-9) and this season we have scored 48 and conceded 48 (0).

Players who have left under Mowbray:

David Wheater
Gary O'Neil

Willo Flood
Andrew Taylor
Kris Boyd
Didier Digard
Leroy Lita
Maximilian Haas
Tarmo Kink

Players who arrived under Mowbray:

Maximilian Haas
Merouane Zemamma

Curtis Main
Malaury Martin
Faris Haroun
Lukas Jutkiewicz
Bart Ogbeche
Adam Hammill

What really can we deduce?

It is obvious that we our defence has got better. Even with the loss of David Wheater and the loan of Stephen McManus we have conceded less goals. Credit to the manager.

Recently our lack of goals has cost us. This is also clear from the comparisons above and it also coincides with the departure of Lita and Boyd. Boyd was not prolific but Lita did chip in with goals. Scott McDonald has been injured this season which will be partly to blame but Jutkiewicz who has been the lead striker of late hasn't really produced the goods (2 goals & 2 assists in the league from 13 starts and 2 sub appearances). It has been a longstanding problem at Middlesbrough since the departure of Viduka, Yakubu and Hasselbaink.

Last season we were very gun ho and I remember not worrying if we conceded as we would usually score our way out of trouble. This season we are very lacklustre going forward. I think part of this is a much more defensive mindset from the midfielders and this frustrating 'split striker' tactic that is employed. Also the manager does not seem to like throwing players forward, maybe putting 3 up front or allowing midfielders to bomb on. My memories from home games this season is sitting a little too deep.

In Summery

We have obviously performed better this season compared to last season. In four games time though this may be very different as we had gained another 12 points last season in those final games which will drag this seasons performance down. Goals have been a problem, mainly due to not finding a natural and consistent goal scorer. The managers tactics have contributed to this, particularly at home. We seem to have had midfielders sat on the bench and not included and a lack of strikers who can score for the majority of the season. This will need to be addressed.

I do think that playing to a half empty stadium has a slight effect on the team but not as much as to make a considerable difference to cause the slumps at home that we have seen this season. I think this has more to do with the fact that Mowbray has played more expansive and attacking formations away from home earlier on this season, in particular utilising wingbacks with 3 centrebacks.


This is the hard part! For the rest of the season we need to put emphasis on scoring goals. More attack minded formations, utilisation of players who may be a threat up front such as Emnes, McDonald and Ogbeche. Ogbeche needs to start some games or be brought on earlier. Jutkiewicz has had his chance and not produced. I would involve Martin rather than him been benched.

We need a quicker response to now the game is panning out with regards to substitutions. If we concede and we need to win get another striker on, maybe for a defender. Take some risks, if we are going to get beat let's have a go. Our goal difference is less than our competitors so it doesn't matter if we get beat 2-1 or 4-1... We need to have a go at teams.

For next season if we fail to get promoted we need desperately to find a striker who will score 15+ goals a season. We also need to get some cover at the back, and bring some creativity into midfield. Maybe we only need a tinker, 3-4 players out and the same in, we certainly don't need a massive makeover to challenge for the playoffs again. It can be done on a budget. Robson will be going, that frees up wages for a start. Bates will be out of contract and injured so a replacement will be needed. We need to keep Rhys Williams at all costs.

It's still possible this season to reach the playoffs. Fingers crossed!! Come on Boro!!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Peterborough v Middlesbrough 24/8/11

Peterborough 0 - 2 Middlesbrough
Robson 4
Hines 27

Boro recorded their fifth consecutive win on a night which saw Barry Robson and Seb Hines propel the team in to the 3rd round of the Carling Cup.

Robson struck on 4 minutes with a low strike from a Joe Bennett through ball and Seb Hines made it 2-0 heading home a McMahon corner.

In the second half Danny Coyne was impressive keeping the home side at bay.

Boro Man of the Match - Danny Coyne
Attendance - 5,012 (782 Boro)
Game Highlight - Another away win!
Boro Team - Coyne, Bennett, McManus, Bates(c), McMahon, Hines, Bailey, Robson, Haroun, Emnes, Martin (subs) Ripley, Kink, R Williams, Arca, Main, Franks, Smallwood

Thanks for reading, and as always comments (good or bad) are always appreciated. Keep a look out on Twitter (@MFCFacebook) and check the links section of this blog for the Facebook MFC Fanpage.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Middlesbrough v Birmingham City 21/8/11

Middlesbrough 3 - 1 Birmingham City
Robson 48
Haroun 69
Martin 72

A strike in the first half from Barry Robson, his second goal in as many games, provided the spark for a memorable comeback at The Riverside Stadium.

Boro went behind in the 36th minute as Carl Ikreme was judged to have brought down Chris Burke with Adam Rooney slotting the visitors resulting penalty past the Boro stopper.

Not disheartened Boro pushed on in the second half with goals from Faris Haroun on debut and Malaury Martin (69 & 72 mins respectively) who Tony Mowbray brought on from the bench midway through the second half.

Overall a brilliant comeback from Boro and a further extension to their unbeaten streak.

Boro Man of the Match - Barry Robson
Attendance - 17,567
League Position - 2 (P 4, W 3, D 1, L 0, GD 5 Pts 10)
Game Highlight - Goal on debut for Faris Haroun
Boro Team - Ikreme, Bennett, McManus, Bates(c), McMahon, Williams, Bailey, Robson, Arca, Emnes, McDonald (subs) Coyne, Haroun, Hines, Martin, Smallwood

Thanks for reading, and as always comments (good or bad) are always appreciated. Keep a look out on Twitter (@MFCFacebook) and check the links section of this blog for the Facebook MFC Fanpage.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Barnsley v Middlesbrough 15/8/11

Barnsley 1 - 3 Middlesbrough
McDonald 11
Robson 13
Emnes 44

Written By Steven Byrne

Just Like Watching Brazil…

Boro travelled to Oakwell full of confidence following their 1-0 victory over Leeds on Saturday. An expectant 1879 Boro fans made the trip to South Yorkshire knowing that a win could see them top the table. Boro lined up as expected with Julio Arca coming in take the place of the suspended Tony McMahon with Justin Hoyte moving to right back. Rhys Williams moved to centre back alongside Matthew Bates and Stephen McManus as Boro adopted a 3-5-2 formation.

The game started at a high tempo with Boro looking to take an early lead so it was a bit of a surprise then when on 4 minutes McManus turned a cross from Barnsley winger David Perkins into his own net. A year ago Boro would have collapsed and it would have been game over. However, this is Tony Mowbray’s Middlesbrough and we will fight to the end.

Boro’s heads never dropped and soon after a Barry Robson corner was met with a glancing header by Scott McDonald for Boro’s equaliser on 11 minutes. Then just 2 minutes later McDonald repaid the favour and turned provider with a perfectly times cross from the left for Robson to bundle the ball over the line to make it 2-1.

Boro controlled the rest of the first half playing some mesmerising football and it was McDonald again on 44 minutes who played a clever through ball to Marvin Emnes who kept his cool and grabbed his 6th of the season and made it 3-1 to Boro.

Barnsley, who despite passing the ball well lacked any real quality, and never threatened Carl Ikeme’s goal. Boro were unlucky not to extend their lead by more in the second half which saw the travelling army of Boro fans mock the near silent home fans with chants of their own terrace favourite from years gone by of ‘it’s just like watching Brazil’ as Boro passed the ball around with style and ease.

Seb Hines replaced Justin Hoyte on 75 minutes, with Mowbray stating after the match that he had gambled on Hoyte’s fitness – a gamble that had paid off. Julio Arca then left the pitch to a standing ovation on 78 minutes to be replaced by Richie Smallwood, whose first contribution was to win a free kick on the edge of the box. It would have taken a brave man to try and get the ball off Barry Robson, and he was unlucky when his pile driver came back off the Barnsley wall.

The final whistle brought to an end one of Boro’s finest performances for a long time and it is all down to Tony Mowbray and what he has instilled in this team - togetherness, spirit, and belief. Barry Robson, Julio Arca and Nicky Bailey ran themselves into the ground whilst Emnes and McDonald created enough chances and the latter was unlucky not to be taking the match ball home with him. Boro’s defence coped with everything that came their way and Carl Ikeme had very little to. A satisfactory nights work saw the Boro players leave the field to a chorus of ‘we’re Middlesbrough’ but not before the modest Mowbray headed down the tunnel to the loudest cheer of the night from the grateful travelling fans.

Southampton continued their perfect start to the season with another victory which meant that Boro would have to settle for 2nd spot, but I think every single Boro fan would’ve taken that 2 weeks ago.

Bring on Brum! Boro are back!

Boro Man of the Match - Barry Robson - never stopped running and deserved his goal.
Attendance - 10,603 (1,879 Boro)
League Position - 2 (P 3, W 2, D 1, L 0, GD 3 Pts 7)
Game Highlight - 4th away win on the bounce
Boro Team - Ikreme, Bennett, McManus, Bates(c), Hoyte, Williams, Bailey, Robson, Arca, Emnes, McDonald (subs) Coyne, Kink, Hines, Martin, Smallwood

Thanks for reading, and as always comments (good or bad) are always appreciated. Keep a look out on Twitter (@MFCFacebook) and check the links section of this blog for the Facebook MFC Fanpage.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Leeds v Middlesbrough 13/8/11

Leeds 0 - 1 Middlesbrough
Emnes 67

Middlesbrough visited Elland Road on the back of a good victory in the Carling Cup and looked to further extend their unbeaten run in the Championship against a Leeds side who have struggled in the first two games of the new season.

Boro started the match looking for their third win in four visits to Elland Road, and set up with the same team that started against Portsmouth, albeit with Joe Bennett switching to left back.

Middlesbrough started slowly, succumbing to Leeds pressure with forced Carl Ikreme into making two great early saves. Leeds had Max Gradel was sent off on 27 minutes for two yellow cards. Immediately after the Leeds keeper Andy Longergan needed to make a good save from a Marvin Emnes effort - Boro's first real chance of the game.

A 50 yard effort from Adam Clayton forced Ikreme into another great save and helped the crowd become even more raucous. Minutes later Boro have another good effort, this time from Hoyte, saved.

Just before half time under pressure from the Leeds captain, Jonny Howson, the referee gave Tony McMahon a second yellow card for a soft shrug off highlighting what a poor game he has had up to this point. The challenge had nothing to do with Howson, and the referee was weak when he decided to even the game up, realising the mistake he made earlier sending off Gradel.

The assistant indicated 3 minutes of extra time to bring the first action packed half to an end, with the score remaining Leeds 0 - 0 Boro and the referee having to be escorted off the pitch by security.

Leeds started brightly again and within the first five minutes of the second half forced Ikreme into yet another outstanding save to keep Boro in the game.

Leeds swapped Brown for Nunez in an attacking substitution in the 57th minute closely followed by the Assistant Referee being substituted due to injury - unfortunately it was not the referee!

Howson pulled down Marvin Emnes on the halfway line, who would have been clean through on goal, and saw his second yellow card of the game. Justice as Howson in the first half berated the referee into sending off McMahon.

The sending off saw Boro press on and McDonald have a effort cleared off the line in the best chance of the game so far. Boro then substituted Justin Hoyte for Julio Arca and Mallaury Martin for Barry Robson as they pushed on for victory in the final 25 minutes.

On 67 minutes Marvin Emnes tears out the back of the Leeds Utd net with a spectacular goal finishing off a great passing move involving both Martin and Arca.

As the game progressed into the final ten minutes Boro took control of the game and the Leeds fans chanted for Ken Bates to leave their club. Boro piled on the pressure, with two corners in as many minutes, but despite the posession only resulted in a Bennett shot comfortably saved by Longergan. Boro did look for the second goal but despite having numerous chances could not extend their lead.

The assistant indicated 5 added minutes and saw Arca narrowly miss a chipped effort and Longergan going up for a Leeds corner. A needless free kick given away by Boro resulted in a Leeds free kick which again saw Longergan go up as a makeshift striker, but they could not profit. Seb Hines came on for Rhys Williams who was suffering from cramp.

The referee ended up playing 6 minutes of extra time but despite another close effort from Emnes the full time whistle went and Boro collected all three points.

Boro Man of the Match - Marvin Emnes
Attendance - 25,615 (2,337 Boro)
League Position - 6 (P 2, W 1, D 1, L 0, GD 1 Pts 4)
Game Highlight - Marvin Emnes scoring his 5th goal in 3 games, and a good performance from Carl Ikreme
Boro Team - Ikreme, Bennett, McManus, Bates(c), Hoyte, Williams, Bailey, Robson, McMahon, Emnes, McDonald (subs) Kink, Hines, Arca, Martin, Smallwood

Thanks for reading, and as always comments (good or bad) are always appreciated. Keep a look out on Twitter (@MFCFacebook) and check the links section of this blog for the Facebook MFC Fanpage.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Walsall v Middlesbrough 9/8/11

Walsall 0 - 3 Middlesbrough
Emnes 17, 37, 52 Pen

Boro demolished League One Walsall in the first game of their Carling Cup campaign of 2011-12 with a hat-trick from Marvin Emnes.

Walsall found themselves down to 10 men when Adam Chambers went in two footed on Ritchie Smallwood which did nothing to help their plight against Boro's early dominance.

Emnes struck in the 17th minute with Malaury Martin's scuffed shot falling to him who turned and drilled the ball home for his second goal in two games. Marvin doubled his tally on 37 minutes volleying a Justin Hoyte cross into the back of the net. Boro went into the break 2-0 up having been completely dominant.

The second half was much more of the same with Enmes third goal coming by means of a penalty awarded as Smallwood was brought down in the area. The rest of the game played out with no real threat from Walsall and unfortunately no further Boro goals.

With Leeds Utd to face on Saturday the game provided a welcome gentle run out that would no doubt boost the teams confidence going into that match.

Boro Man of the Match - Marvin Emnes
Attendance - 3,564 (602 Boro)
Game Highlight - Marvellous Marvin's first Boro hat-trick

Thanks for reading, and as always comments (good or bad) are always appreciated. Keep a look out on Twitter (@MFCFacebook) and check the links section of this blog for the Facebook MFC Fanpage.

Middlesbrough v Portsmouth 6/8/11

Middlesbrough 2 - 2 Portsmouth
Emnes 24
R Williams 54

A solid Boro performance was enjoyed by 18,194 Boro fans for the opening game of the season at the Riverside Stadium.

Marvin Emnes was first to strike in the 24th minute with him latching on to a Scott McDonald pull back which let Boro lead at half time and looking by far the better team

A lapse of concentration in the first 90 seconds of the second half saw David Norris equalise for the visitors much to the disappointment of the players and the home fans. Boro's heads did not go down and they fought back. In the 54th minute Nicky Bailey played a sublime through ball to Rhys Williams who calmly slotted the ball past the Portsmouth keeper.

Boro controlled the football well as the game entered its final stages but failed increase their advantage which resulted in a Pompey shot deflecting off Matty Bates chin and falling to the feet of Luke Varney to equalise for the second time.

Boro Man of the Match - Rhys Williams
Attendance - 18,194
League Position - 10 (P 1, W 0, D 1, L 0, GD 0 Pts 1)
Game Highlight - Excellent performances from Williams, Emnes & Bailey

Thanks for reading, and as always comments (good or bad) are always appreciated. Keep a look out on Twitter (@MFCFacebook) and check the links section of this blog for the Facebook MFC Fanpage.