Boro face Tottenham Hotspur in the 3rd round of the FA Youth Cup on Monday December 2 at Leyton Orient's Matchroom Stadium (k.o. 7pm). A strong MSS contingent will be heading to the game to cheer the lads to victory as we hope to recreate the success of the 2004 team.
Orient have an excellent supporters bar that has agreed to open for the occasion. The bar serves an excellent collection of beers and will be open from 5pm. Entry to the bar costs £1 with CAMRA members admitted for free.
You can find a map and RSVP on Facebook here. The nearest tube is Leyton (Zone 3) on the Central Line.
Thursday, 14 November 2013 21:20 | Written by James Howell |
After two weeks without a permanent man in charge, Steve Gibson has chosen Aitor Karanka. The 40 year old Spaniard was Jose Mourniho's assistant for three years at Real Madrid. Much has been made of the fact and, like the departed Mark Venus, the former centre half wants to distance himself from his former managerial.
One of the reasons that Karanka decided that Boro was the club for him over premier league rivals, Crystal Palace, was that he believe they were at the start of an 'exciting project'. However, before any projects can be started, the task ahead of Karanka has several issues that need attending to.
He has not been left in crisis mode, like his predecessor. Mowbray was dumped with a hideous wage bill funding a team of distinctly average player shipped from north of the border. The team now in relatively good shape, but unable to win football matches, where is Aitor Karanka to start?
One of the nails in Mowbray's coffin was the inability to keep clean sheets or even keep goals out. This season especially has been plagued with sloppy and disorganised defensive displays, with some individual mistakes thrown in for good measure; goals against Bournemouth and Watford stand out particularly. This should be top of Karanka's list if the team are to salvage anything from this season.
Having managed to become a genuine attacking threat, with Adomah and Kamara showing themselves to be excellent additons, the new boss needs to find a consistent back four he likes and can rely on. Jonathan Woodgate, Rhys Willaims, Ben Gibson, Daniel Ayala, Seb Hines and the emerging force Ben Gibson are his main choices for the centre half position, while for full backs he needs to pick his deal two from Frazer Richardson, George Friend, Stuart Parnaby, Andy Halliday, Jozsef Varga and a few of the more versatile centre backs.
The list of defenders has some real elements of class and one of Karanka's biggest challenges is finding them and making it work. If he is to strengthen while the loan market is still open, it will probably be to add grit to a error prone defence.
Clear the decks
Despite having a competitive starting 11, there are too many fringe players. The likes of Haroun, Ledesma, Parnaby, Luke Williams, Main, Park and Bryn Morris need shipping out, either on loan or for good. It is highly unlikely that Haroun in particular will be challenging for a place in the match day XI. If Karanka wants to bring in some fresh talent, he needs to ask what the likes of Parnaby and Ledesma are doing there.
Get the crowds back
This is one is going to be tricky. However, to follow a tried and tested method, if he builds it they will come. After a difficult first game in charge at Elland Road, he's back at the Riverside in front of a reduced-ticket-price crowd. The mantra has always been that if they can get a run together the Riverside Stadum will begin to fill up. This won't happen overnight, but an exciting signing like Aitor Karanka might be be impetus that the club and team need to get the fans back.
If this to be a new, 'exciting' start then this must surely be a long term priority of Karanka and the club. I hope the new manager...I mean Head Coach...is backed by those on Teesside in the game against Bolton.
There have been a lot of ifs in this piece and only time will tell. One thing is for sure, that this club has been bold and adventurous in the appointment of Aitor Karanka. So for once, let this gamble pay off.
By James Howell
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Wednesday, 23 October 2013 15:46 | Written by James Nugent |
Boro play Doncaster in the televised clash this Friday where managerless Boro will be looking to start a new chapter under Mark Venus and kick-start their campaign. MSS invites all London-based exiles to join us at The Sheephaven Bay and cheer the lads on to victory over a few beers. The nearest tubes are Mornington Crescent and Camden Town. Kick off is 7:45pm.
Please share with fellow Boro exiles and RSVP on Facebook.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 19:55 | Written by James Howell |
The situation was desperate and action needed to happen. But now it's happened, we are left a bit stunned - staring into the abyss.
For all his fighting spirit and determination to do right by his hometown club, Tony Mowbray was relieved of his duties. On Monday evening following a normal day of training, Mowbray was summoned by Chairman Steve Gibson and was sacked from his beloved club. Who knows what Mowbray is feeling right now, but after the dust has settled, how will he be marked down in Boro history.
His last game in charge at strugglers Barnsley, must have been the final straw for Gibson after a first half deficit of three goals was met by travelling fans deciding they'd also had enough. This final straw had been placed on a stack of defeats and inability to turn dominant, exciting performances into points on the board.
Mowbray has received his condolences from past manager such as Bruce Rioch and Gareth Southgate, however the words they've used to describe him gives some clue to the derailment of the Mogganought. The man of 'integrity' has lived and died by his footballing philosophy. It is undeniable that at points over the past three years the team played some extraordinary football under his stewardship. Passing, free flowing and, only this season, the team seem to be scoring nearly every game, but defensively we are as impermeable as a wet paper bag.
Mowbray's task was near impossible - make us a title challenging side while you trim this tartan cloth. While staving off relegation from the car crash of a team we were before he took over, he worked some magic. In his second season, the post Christmas bug caught us and we drifted away from the top 6, missing out with a few games to go - a scoreless draw at home to Doncaster sticks in my mind. In the third season, before Christmas, we were something to behold. A mean, solid squad, with Mowbray taking the plaudits he deserved. However, the second leg of the season was far worse than we could have imagined. And it seeped into this season.
One of the issues with Mowbray's management was that he could never keep all the plates spinning. We'd lack goals and maintain a sturdy defence, then with little tinkering Boro would start bothering the back of the opposition's net, but only for the once solid defence go to pot. This was perfectly summed up by the two runs of four nil nil draws in 2011-2012.
Off the pitch, Mowbray must be given credit for addressing issues like the wage bill, conditioning of the players and the scouting network. We were all in at tatters after the departure of Gordon Strachan, Mogga had to dispense of players like Boyd, Thomson and McManus who offered little and took home a lot. Managing to pull in freebies and bargain buys such as Grant Leadbitter and Faris Haroun, Mogga kept turning the ship in the right direction, not without is mistakes like Adam Hammill or Maxi Haas, but ever steadying and simultaneously steering.
Overall, Mowbray's three years at Middlesbrough FC will be remembered as a time of failure. Nobody wanted it to happen this way. Everything was set for 1986 Mark II but Gibson's gamble did not pay off. Mowbray was sure that his tactics would carry him through, but they didn't, and his three years must be considered a failure in footballing terms. But the work he has done over the past few years cannot be understated. The state the club is in a far superior position to what it was when he came in. A more positive, attacking and talented team, with the ability to win matches with the right guidance. The question is now, will Gibson appoint the right man to take over from our Mogga?
By James Howell
Friday, 27 September 2013 13:10 | Written by James Nugent |
Boro head to promotion hopefuls QPR this Saturday.
There are limited away-friendly grounds in the area but the Met. Police have recommended Walkabout on Shepherd's Bush Green. Shepherd's Bush Green is well served by underground and overground trains and is within walking distance from Shepherd's Bush, Shepherd's Bush Market and Goldhawk Road - all of which are in Zone 2. Visiting fans from Teesside are advised to buy a Zone 1-2 travelcard at Eaglescliffe or Darlington station to avoid the queues at Kings Cross.
Walkabout isn't the greatest pub in the world but it serves beer & food, has Sky TV, is big enough to host us all and only a short walk from the ground. We'll be meeting here from 12noon and returning to celebrate a victory after the game.
Monday, 09 September 2013 19:40 | Written by James Howell |
After a nail biting finish the Transfer Deadline Day, Boro managed to make some final additions to its small squad. The 11th hour signings of Kei Kamara and Jacob Butterfield were key acquisitions in another promotion push. However, much like on the field, the story is of one of missed opportunities. Missing out on signings like hitman Jelle Vossen from Belgian side Genk and ex-Leeds forward Luciano Becchio may prove costly further down the line.
Jacob Butterfield was a last minute addition, who has yet to play in the Red and White. However, many Boro fans will have seen the Bradford-born midfielder in action for Barnsley and during his 15 minute cameo during Boro’s battering at Selhurst Park last season. Often being touted as an attacking midfielder with a creative edge, he was described by Keith Hill during his stint in South Yorkshire as the ‘best midfielder in the league’. Until he pulls on the Boro shirt next time speculation might be harsh, but for a rumoured £500k for a young and talented midfielder seems like an excellent bit of business.
As for Kei Kamara, he remains an unknown entity. The 6 foot 3, Sierra Leonan can operate as a wide man or forward, although no one is quite sure how he will be deployed. On loan at Norwich last season, he was sent with impressive reports from over the pond. However, Boro fans are not that easily fooled after countless players who were supposed to set the world alight and never quite cut it. What can be said for Kamara, and what has really impressed me, is his positivity. Growing up in surroundings few of us can even begin to imagine, Kamara oozes enthusiasm and a passion for playing football, something that isn't often seen in the senior side. Hopefully, this never say die, stars and stripes mentality will rub off on the rest of the squad and breed some positivity amongst the squad.
Jozsef Varga came to Boro with just the tag of terrifying looking, Hungarian international centre midfielder. However he has quickly established himself decent partnerships with, fellow newbie, Dean Whitehead and Grant Leadbitter. His ability to cover the centre of the park quickly and launch himself in tough tackles and come out with the ball show promising signs for the future. Varga is only on Teesside on loan for the season, but I’d like to see him sign permanently.
Dean Whitehead is a player who has done the rounds. While he is by no means passed it, he has proved himself an great addition to the squad. The ex-Stoke midfielder has brought experience to the team. Signed on a two year deal, Whitehead has rekindled a partnership he held at Sunderland with Leadbitter and has been seamless in joining the team. Mowbray and Boro fans know he is the definition of a Ronseal player. With two promotions already under his belt, let’s hope he can make it a hat trick at the Riverside.
A recurring themes is that if we can sign a player that is always going to score against us, we can rule out that possibility. First it was Jutkiewicz, then Leadbitter, now it is Albert Adomah. A million pound signing from relegated Bristol City looks to be a good buy. Experienced at this level, Adomah has established himself on the opposing wing to Muzzy Carayol. His impressive traits are listed as pace, trickery, the ability to beat a man and chip in with the odd goal. This removes the pressure on Carayol, who has at times last year was struggling to adjust to the step up. At 25 years old, he will be entering his peak and as such should prove to be a problem to full backs up and down the country.
Frazer Richardson is another player in the similar vein to Whitehead. Experienced, solid and knows what it takes to get out of this league. Southampton fans believed him to be one of the key players that saw them trounce the league two years ago, and Mowbray and Boro fans will hope he can be as consistent. Richardson has already established himself as a threat to Justin Hoyte’s spot at right back who has remained unchallenged since Luke Moore.
The other underwhelming signing was a keeper who must remain way down in the pecking order but offers a pair of hands in case injuries hit. Dmitri Konstantopoulus was an unannounced signing who was probably unneeded and fans are struggling to see what he is doing at the Boro.
In summary, what must be said is that although we have lost a lot of players, what they have been replaced with look extremely promising. Players like Adomah and Butterfield offer genuine quality at this level and can hurt teams. While players like Whitehead and Richardson are bringing experience and quality to the side before they are past it, criticism of some of last years additions.
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