By Guy Bailey
Well it’s November and we’re still in there. I’ll admit, I had us down for sixth to eighth so third, only a point behind West Ham and still only six behind surprise leaders Southampton. We’re five points up on Leeds in seventh, which isn’t much but gaps will spring up soon enough and we need to make sure that we are on the right side of them when they do.
November sees us entertaining last years Premiership Novelty Act Blackpool before visiting other boro, Peter, and then ending the month with an already critical looking match against pre-season promotion favourites West Ham.
By Guy Bailey
The break has probably come at the right time for us. Not the team, which has been resiliant, dogged and determined as usual, if not the free-flowing musketeers of the first six weeks of the season; but the fans. Reading some of the forums and listening to some of the grumbling and griping pouring fourth from the spiritual sons of the Chicken Run, I had to do a double take.
I know we play in red shirts, but seriously folks, that’s where our similarity to Manchester United begins and ends. Ipswich Town are full of canny Championship level campaigners like Bullard and Bowyer and the 0-0 suddenly looked a lot better four days later when the Tractor Boys went to Upton Park and came away with all three points. Similarly, Reading gave us a good shoeing the last time we were there only six months previously. Jason Steele went off and Connor Ripley got a debut he would never forget as we got throughly pummeled 5-2. If it had been a boxing match it would have been stopped at half time but the only team clinging on for dear life this time were the rocking Royals. Another tangible step that we are a different team and club from the one that meekly surrendered as a matter of course over the past two years.
The other typical Boro reaction to our current run of form is the lack of recognition and praise coming forth from the national media to our rebirth but this was scotched too as we continued our 100% record in the player of the month competiiton with Marvin handing his prize across the dressing room to Matty Bates and Mogga receiving due for entering the witching season without tasting the nettle of defeat yet.
Great to see some more prodigal sons from the Class of 86 returning through the Ayresome gates this week too. Colin Cooper returns to work with Academy after his constitutional at Bradford and Gary Gill becomes our eyes and ears on the continent as Mogga rebuilds the scooped-out scouting team. This frees up another vacancy in the commentary booth next to Alistair whcih will be ably filled by Teesside’s favourite Scouser, Craig Hignett.
The other MFC return to the Riverside on Saturday, victorious last season but without top scorer Steve Morrison and facing a different Boro into the bargain too. Apart from the initials, we have a lot in common with the Lewisham Lions. Unglamorous, patronised and generally overlooked for our unfashionable surroundings and tough, industrial followers. Neither of us has needed the approval or acclaim of our needier local rivals – we are both products of our respective areas – functional and essential – we get the job done whether it be Millwall docks or Smiths dock.
Following the fraternal knees-up we then get a trip to the suddenly McClaren-less Nottingham Forest but still get to make acquintance with Jonno Greening and my personal favourite player from the McClaren years – George Boateng. If every Christian was like him and church was a cross between the UFC and rollerball then there’d be a few more attendees.
Here’s hoping he’ll be needing to forgive us this time next week.
UTB from the ATL.
So the #Mogganaut grinds its gears slowing down for the tricky bend at Palace and we finally lost. Feels like a shock doesn’t it? Well now you know how it feels to be a Man Utd fan when every defeat requires a three day post-mortem because it is so shocking and unexpected.
We always seem to have a thing with tricky wingers don’t we? Last year it was Jimmy Kebe from Reading and this year it’s Zaha of Palace. Mind you, if we were going to split the series as Baseball watchers over here say, I’m glad we’ve got three points in the bag rather than a chance to welcome Arsenal’s or Man Utd’s reserves.
Good to see a striker brought in on loan – Alex Tchuimeni-Nimely; hopefully Alex for short. He looks quick and powerful, the type of player Mowbray fancies up front, mobile rather than static. It would be nice to see a couple more come in because if one thing is going to derail our nascent promotion bid, it’s going to be injuries and suspensions.
Ipswich come to town on Saturday with some more of our old pals – Michael Chopra, Lee Bowyer and Jimmy “whiff of the scrapyard” Bullard. It looks like they’ve just woken up at about the right time so it will be a tough undertaking for the breathtaking Boro. Quickly followed by big-spending Sven and Leicester City on Wednesday. A couple of good performances and points to match will be a big statement of intent on our part and pessimistic/realistic as ever, if you offer me 4 points now I’d take them.
It might not be the champagne invincibles we’ve become used to but Man Utd week is over – it’s back to being the Boro.
By Paul Todd
Manchester City forward Alex Nimely has joined Boro on a three month loan deal.
By Guy Bailey
Well I was wrong about Burnley and never more happy to be so. They are one of the uncompromisingly tough teams, in a division full of them, that can equally play football or mix it if given the chance and exactly the same sort of team that had our number in the previous three seasons. In fact, only five months ago we were given a lesson, the only time under Mogga, in what happens if you fail to match an opponents intensity and will to win.
By Guy Bailey
So we’ve had our rest and while some might argue that it will impact on our momentum, I think it’s come at a perfect moment for us. With only two operating strikers, it is imperative to keep them happy until the loan rangers arrive and with McDonalds injury, Barry Robbo all bug-eyed intensity and strawberry-blond fury, stepped up to the mark with three in four but striker he is not and going against some of the bigger boys in this division this month – Burnley, Ipswich, Leicester and mebees Palace twice – we need all the help we can get. Jukiwicz may or may not arrive, as may Roman Bednar whose name keeps appearing in dispatches. We may probably see somebody whose name we haven’t seen mentioned yet – a surplus from the 25 man Premiership squads. No matter, in Mogga we trust and I am certain that as Proc is speaking to the media about this very issue, then it comes with the bosses approval.
By Guy Bailey
Andy Warhol said that everybody would be famous for 15 minutes. Well, the Boro achieved the footballing equivalent on Saturday when we hit the top of the Championship for that long until Juskiewitz grabbed a spawny equalizer for the Sky Blues.
Whilst the Boro may not have much cash to splash on new signings…well us over at Boro Offside don’t either but we’ve have opened our account in the transfer window.
We are delighted to welcome Guy to our ranks, he is a target we have been looking at for a long time now and we feel he can help us take a step towards the next level.
Have a good look through our latest signing’s history and how he is still Boro through and through from a fair distance…
(or when was the last time we played three teams nicknamed The Blues within a week?)
By Guy Bailey
A lot of Boro fans will have been thumbing the record books this week or the modern equivilant, spinning the mouse wheel, to find when we recently enjoyed such a run of good form. One of the joys of writing for a Boro publication is that I don’t have to explain or go into unnecessary detail – you know the results – but I was wracking my brain as to when we were so dangerous away.
Finally!…Finally the new season is here! It might come a little bit early for a thin Boro squad, but to have back the beautiful game after a summer of football draught is great.