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[Archived] Middlesbrough Vs Rovers Preview

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Hopefully Sam will learn his lesson from the Bolton 'game of two halves', and that is playing football should always win out rather than relying on hoofing Nasa satellites into orbit whilst trying to negate the opposition's tactics. Having players that can actually win headers (Roque), a midfield that can actually stop the opposition, and an element of creativity wouldn't be asking too much either would it? I hear Dunny wanted to play against Bolton but Sam wanted to give him more time to get rid of his Monty Python 'Fake Beard' before being seen in public; hopefully will be back on Saturday :rolleyes:

So, Rovers take on the mighty Boro this coming Saturday, our 5th visit to the North East this season. A few bore draws with Sunderland apart, we generally have a good record in the North East & have managed to pull off some good results there over the years.

Seems that Rovers & Boro share some close parallels:-

  • appointing an ex-England captain as manager before he had coaching badges;
  • a sensible, widely-respected chairman;
  • Pace-setting financial investment & inspired signings early in their Premiership history, settling to a leaner spend in recent years.
  • a star winger seduced by Spurs fluttering their eyelashes;
  • hoping to rely on an Academy to produce squad players rather than transfers;
  • A good UEFA cup run seemingly a distant memory;
  • A bad winless streak meaning relegation is a clear & present danger rather than mid-table obscurity;

So, I asked two staunch Boro fans - Chris of the fanzine "Fly Me to the Moon" & Shaun of the Boro Mania blog http://www.boromania.com/ - a few questions.

1. What were your hopes for this season? Do you think Boro will stay up?

SHAUN - I started out quite confident of a decent finish this season, my only hope now is Premiership survival! I think we can definately stay up, mainly due to the fact that the league is so open this season it could be 3 from a whole host of teams to go down. We must start picking up points though and the game against Blackburn is one in which we have to come away with something, preferrably the win!

CHRIS - I'm pretty convinced Boro will stay in the division but, to be honest, we were all expecting a lot, lot more this season. The team are looking devoid of confidence and Southgate has recently admitted his job is on the line. It's all a far-cry from chief executive Keith Lamb and Southgate claiming we could well be heading for the top four this season. I think most 'older heads' predicted mid-table, however, and I think that's where Boro will end up.

2. Downing - is he all that? Should you sell? Will he still be a Boro player on 01 Feb?

SHAUN - On his day he is top class and his delivery of the ball from the left wing can be superb. He hasn't been at his best this season though and I think we'll see him move in the summer, he will definitely be here on 01 Feb. To be fair I think it is about the right time for him to move on to further himself, I just hope it's not to Spurs and Harry Redknapp!

CHRIS - When Downing performs, he's superb. But those performances don't come along all that often. I'll be happy for Downing to stay with the club, if he wants to be here. He's a local lad but was prepared to jump ship recently after handing in a transfer-request. To be fair, the club seem to have dealt with the situation well and Downing has actually been performing better recently.

3. Boro have a fantastic record of continually bringing Academy players through into the first team. Who should we be looking out for on Saturday?

SHAUN - There'll be quite a few Academy graduates in the team I would expect. David Wheater and Adam Johnson are two to look out for. Johnson in particular has the ability to be an excellent player for us if he can improve his final ball. We have a few more younger lads in and around the first team squad, Josh Walker looked good up until an injury recently and Nathan Porritt is another highly rated youngster who could be ready to make the step up.

CHRIS - Adam Johnson's an excellent prospect from midfield. Hopefully Downing can have one of his better games too!

4. Marlon King - better than Mido and Alves? Who is your best forward these days, Tuncay?

SHAUN - Ability wise probably better than neither but at least he will be available for Southgate to pick which is more than can be said for Mido. Alves is still the best forward at the club and I'm a firm believer that he will come good when Boro learn how to use him better. He is in a decent run of goal-scoring form at the minute and hopefully it will continue.

CHRIS - The arrival of King took me by surprise a bit. I don't think Mido has fulfilled his potential at the Riverside but he clearly wasn't happy by a lack of first-team opportunities so it's perhaps best for him to head to Wigan. Tuncay's only bagged four goals this season, Alves has seven. Hopefully, King can add some spark as we're really not scoring enough goals this season.

5. Who do you think is Boro's best player this season? Who should we look out for in the match?

SHAUN - Hard to say really, we've been pretty poor. My player of the year so far is probably Ross Turnbull who has come into the side to replace Schwarzer and looked very good. A few mistakes but on the whole an extremely promising season. If Tuncay can get back some of his early season form he can be a match winner but his form has been poor as of late.

CHRIS - Gary O'Neil has been on pretty good form this season, but it's difficult to pick out too many star performers. We've underachieved massively in almost all departments.

6. Mido's gone to Wigan on loan - glad or sad?

SHAUN - Good riddance, hopefully it gets made permanent.

CHRIS - Mido's someone who never fulfilled his potential with the club. I'd be surprised if he ever plays for Boro again as he's not too happy at the Riverside. Suspensions and a series of injuries have held him back. The move just hasn't really worked out.

7. That Boro fan that fell asleep during a game at the Riverside a few seasons ago, is he still banned?

SHAUN - I honestly don't know!

CHRIS - His name was Adrian Carr. Thankfully, he's got his conviction overturned by a judge who was a Boro fan. The club claimed he was "paralytic" but Carr said he was just tired after working 75 hours in nine days.

8. Anyone else thrown any season tickets at your manager? Seem to recall Boro went on a good run afterwards. Tempted to try it?

SHAUN - Not yet but a heavy home defeat at the weekend may just see it happen again!

CHRIS - I reckon there's a few who'd try it. We haven't won a league game since November 9th so perhaps it's worth a go.

9. Which Boro player do you rate will the biggest threat to Rovers on Saturday, and which one is the biggest threat to Boro's credibility?

SHAUN - Stewy Downing will be the biggest threat if he sees enough of the ball and I think Alves will get on the scoresheet. Our central midfield is our biggest weakness right now and we need to bring players in replace sub-standard players like Shawky and Arca.

10. What's your opinion of Southgate? Keep him in the job or put him back to advertising pizzas? Would you rather have the 'brolly Wally' back, or is Nigel Pearson the next likely candidate for the Boro hotseat?

SHAUN - I'm a fan of Southgate, he's had it rough this season after losing a lot of experienced players in the summer and not being able to splash cash to replace them. He's made mistakes and I've questioned his judgement at times but I think he will come good if he's given time. Nigel Pearson is a favourite of mine and I'm glad to see he's doing well in management now.

CHRIS - Southgate's got to turn things around pretty quickly. The fans have been patient but there were certainly a few calls for his head down at the Hawthorns. He's not instilling much belief on the terraces at the moment although, after that Croatia game, I don't think McClaren would be much better although at least he could do his Dutch impersonation for Marvin Emnes. Pearson's doing very, very well at Leicester. Worryingly, we could even play them next season!!

11. Do you wish Allardyce have stayed at Newcastle longer to do more damage, or will they continue to self-destruct anyway?

SHAUN - I'm interested to know the Rovers opinion on Allardyce because some of my Geordie supporting friends hated his guts whilst he was up there. To be honest I think Joe Kinnear can do just as bad a job for them as Big Sam! {{ IMO I still think Allardyce is the Antichrist, was never keen although the Paul Ince saga forced people to manage their expectations & fickle up somewhat, the situation really was that desperate. But, it's about results and he's doing the business on the whole - ed!}}

CHRIS - Sadly, I think they'll stay up. But Joe Kinnear isnít going to take them back in Europe, I'm pretty sure of that.

12. Which Rovers players (if any!) do you rate? Any you would rather didn't play on Saturday?

SHAUN - Roque Santa Cruz is someone I would like to see miss out. A player I always rated but does not seem to feature too much is Matt Derbyshire, he always looked a threat when he played us. The big lad at the back, Samba, is a good player too.

CHRIS - Benni McCarthy looks the kind-of player who could tear us to shreds on his day. After the performance at West Brom, however, anyone who can kick a ball straight in this division is a threat to us.

13. Will there be any more 'handbags at dawn' incidents during/after the game now that Boateng & Savage have left?

SHAUN - I doubt it, Boro seem to lack any sort of aggression on the pitch with Cattermole and Boateng moving on. I can't really see Gary O'Neil or Stewart Downing getting into a ruck with the opposition!

CHRIS - Emanuel Pogatetz can cause a stir and he may be involved for this one; but I reckon the handbags may stay hidden away.

14. How do you see the game panning out? Relegation six-pointer with committed tackles, plenty of passion & goalmouth action, a bore draw or a scrappy one-nil better suited to the radio?

SHAUN - A lot may depend on the Chelsea result, if we get turned over at Stamford Bridge it could really knock the confidence but a decent performance may just spur them on for the weekend. I think it'll be a decent game with a few goals and hopefully a 2-1 victory for Boro. A bit of passion and bite from Boro wouldn't go amiss either.

CHRIS - Hopefully, we can produce a decent-enough performance. When we turn up, we can play some quite nice football but we've also had some stinkers recently. We've just beaten Wolves second XI in the Cup, and hopefully by the time we play Rovers we'll have nicked a point at Stamford Bridge!! I'm going to go for a 2-0 home win.

Thanks Shaun & Chris for you wise & witty comments, very much appreciated - hopefully readers of this thread will check out their fanzine/sites/blogs - "Fly Me To The Moon" & Boro Mania before the game on Saturday- well worth a read! Good luck for the game & for rest of the your season.


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Looking at the second half yesterday I was thinking that maybe we could use the formation that cropped up in the latter 45 minutes. It was a bit bizarre but worked really well as Grella and Tugay provided a platform to move the ball forward to the three stirkers, and McCarthy picked up the space between the forwads and the midfield in a free role. He also used the width of the pitch really well. Essentially we looked like this:







It is a very feasible argument that we were mainly able to use such an unorthodox way of playing because Bolton utterly refused to go out of their own half. Boro on the other hand, who are now fighting for their lives, will be at home, and possess a decent set of attacking players will maybe be able to exploit the weaknesses in the set up, particularly the exposure down the flanks which will make it hard to double up defensively....

On the other hand there is absolutely no doubt with Grella and Tugay anchoring things, and McCarthy dropping to collect the ball, we will be much more able to retain possession and be more inventive. We also have a lot of options going forward with Roberts pace and power, Cruz's movement and McCarthy's trickery.

My only alteration to yesterdays set up would be to drop Andrews, and bring in Dunn if he is fit (I have heard whispers he is seriously injured), or if not potentially Pedesen to play a more central role. Failing that Givet could come in at left back and Warnock move to midfield.

I wonder whether anyone thinks this is a route we should pursue, or whether sensibility and a flat 442 makes more sense, particularly away from home?

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Another good preview!

After the Notlob first half, the huge question for this game and the rest of the season is David Dunn. He is critical to the club's chances unless of course we have signed Spit.

Anyway, both clubs will look at the table and ajudge this a MUST NOT LOSE. Ironically if Boro set themselves up to grind out a draw, Rovers will win.

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Nice little read.

After the initial 45 minutes versus Bolton I was distraught.

After the second 45 minutes I was distraught that we hadnt nicked it but happy with a point.

As we now approach the last 90 odd hours fo the transfer window I am slightly concerned about Hughes's tactics in trying to lure RSC away from our club.

For me, this game is vitally important.

A win takes us up and away from Boro and WBA, it may even take us above Newcastle who have the barcode/red stripe derby to contend with.

Rovers to take it by an odd goal in 3.

Rovers must not play Andrews in central midfield.

Rovers must not play Ooijer at right back

4-4-2 formation should be ample enough to take 3 points against a Boro outfit on their bottoms.

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Hopefully Sam will learn his lesson from the Bolton 'game of two halves'

It's strange that the last 2 home matches have been like this. The Opta stats here:


show the league table based on both first half performance and on second half performance. On the basis of second half results only, we are rock bottom!

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It's strange that the last 2 home matches have been like this. The Opta stats here:


show the league table based on both first half performance and on second half performance. On the basis of second half results only, we are rock bottom!

Interesting to see Bentley with the most crosses in the PL again even though he has spent so much time out of position/substituted/dropped.

I don't want to cast a pall of apprehension about the Boro game but on current form you have to say Stoke and West Brom have winnable games.

If we lose at Boro, we could find ourselves 2 points adrift in 20th place tomorrow.

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This is our biggest game for years. If we win we're on our way. If not it's scary. The team on the day will be the thing. If Dunny plays we'll win. If not - Gulp! RSC on the right, Benni and Roberts down the middle from the off!

Let us prey.

on whom? Young girls? Old ladies? It's pray.

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Another good preview.

Not sure about Grella but Dunny is out according to the official site. Spit hasn't signed in time to play luckily.

I'd expect to see the defence changed after their poor showing against Bolton, could just be Ooijer out for someone, although Givet may find his way in somewhere. I certainly don't want to see Ooijer playing though.

Who knows if Roque will play, guess it depends what happens with him in the next 24 hours.

Big game for us though, a win could be crucial.

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Yeah...because that would really suck, wouldn't it? <_<


Read somebody else on another thread scoffing over the potential signing of Peter Crouch! A recognised international striker!

A lot of Rovers fans seriously need to wake up, we are in a relegation battle with limited funds, yet we are still buying and being linked with players of calibre. If we did go down, we would inevitably only be in the market for journeymen from the lower league merry go round, the days when the mention of Peter Crouch would be followed with <_< will be a distant memory.

Anyway, I'll be up there, lets get an early goal, the crowd will undoubtably turn and we can get a vital 3 points

Up the Rovers.

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Read somebody else on another thread scoffing over the potential signing of Peter Crouch! A recognised international striker!

An inferior striker to Roque and a recognised international striker only because England's striking options are crap. No thanks to Crouch.

In terms of the Boro game i've got a feeling we can win this today as Sam will put some fire into the team and expect a far better performance than the first half we displayed against Bolton.

2-0 Rovers.

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Dunn on the bench!

1413: TEAMS Middlesbrough v Blackburn

Middlesbrough: Jones, Wheater, Riggott, Huth, Pogatetz, Adam Johnson, Bates, Walker, Downing, King, Sanli. Subs: Turnbull, Hoyte, Emnes, Alves, Shawky, Arca, McMahon.

Blackburn: Robinson, Ooijer, Nelsen, Samba, Warnock, Emerton, Andrews, Grella, Pedersen, McCarthy, Roque Santa Cruz. Subs: Bunn, Kerimoglu, Dunn, Villanueva, Givet, Simpson, Roberts.

Benni and Roque start up front.

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