David Cameron Walker

Posts Tagged ‘Tony Mowbray’

‘Boro’s season so far….

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Nine games into the new Championship season and Middlesbrough currently sit eleventh, three points adrift of this season’s target of the play-offs. The season thus far, like last season has some stark similarities, but also some polar opposites.

Last season ‘Boro started strongly, hanging around the top of the table until the New Year with some impressive displays, but injuries to key players Nicky Bailey and Rhys Williams plus suspensions got the better of us. The concession of stupid and late goals cost the club place after place as they ended up just outside the play-offs.

Good away performances and shaky home performances were commonplace. Performances against the teams in and around us were not good enough – the 3-1 victory away at Cardiff and the 2-1 victory at home to Southampton aside. In a season where we would have snapped someones hand off if they offered us 7th at the start, by the end we felt like we had thrown an opportunity away of gaining promotion back to the Premier League. The squad was too threadbare and could not cope with injuries to key players, a good first eleven but very little beyond.

That, along with suspensions meant ‘Boro ran out of steam as we reached the business end of the season, but it was definite progression from the disastrous Gordon Strachan era. Promotion may have been a little soon for what Tony Mowbray was trying to achieve, but the money that would have came along with the promotion would have allowed the club to strengthen a little more. ‘Boro probably would have come straight back down, but the parachute payments would have meant a squad could be built ready for another push.

Before the start of this new season, the squad had been added to and, in parts,  strengthened. Options upfront added by the captures of Emmanuel Ledesma and battering ram Ishmael Miller alongside Marvin Emnes and Lukas Jutkiewicz. Scott McDonald also returned after positive talks with Mowbray.

Muzzy Carayol has made a blistering start, sadly cut short by injury, impressing in his wide role against Blackburn with an endless stream of brilliant crosses, including a perfect ball for Jutkiewicz’s second against Blackburn. Grant Leadbitter adds energy and steel to the midfield left by Barry Robson’s departure, while alongside him Josh McEachran’s ball retention and eye for a pass have added an extra dimension in the middle of the park also. Andre Amougou and the returning Jonathan Woodgate have added vast Premiership experience to a struggling backline and George Friend looks a useful addition at left-back. Add those to the emergence of youth players Luke Williams and Adam Reach and Middlesbrough look capable of fielding two completely different starting elevens, both with enough quality to win a game.

This season has had the aforementioned similarities and differences. So far this season – before last night’s Derby game – the home form has been impressive, with ‘Boro only being beaten once by a Leicester team growing in confidence after a slow start but the away form has not been so good with just one win, even if that was against then top of the table Blackburn with a fantastic showing, aside from a panicky last five minutes.

A direct flip from last season thus far, but the similarities come in the form of leaking stupid late goals and entirely preventable goals at that. A late goal against Leicester cost Mowbray’s men a point. A late goal conceded against Blackburn turned what was a comfortable and impressive 90 minute performance into five of sheer injury-time panic. Wonder goals from Luke Williams and Adam Reach helped the side to a 3-2 win against Burnley which so could easily have been 2-1 – late goals a factor once more.

Wednesday evening’s performance against Derby typified the current ‘Boro squad performance. Brief glimpses of what the team could play like if they click properly, but lacking cohesion for the majority. Frustration at stupid errors late on at the back. Still lacking a midfielder that can play a penetrating ball. The team seemed to be forever going sidewards or backwards when the ball was with the midfielders.

Jutkiewicz was winning everything, but with no Emnes or player of that ilk to play off him – like at Blackburn so effectively - the work is wasted. Jutkiewicz very rarely gets the decisions he should whilst playing as a target man, the referees seem to think he can’t be fouled if he is more than a match for the defenders he is playing against.

Middlesbrough also missed key players badly, Rhys Williams and Jonathan Woodgate would provide the calmness needed in the backline when entering the final stages of the game. Marvin Emnes is a loss, he is often frustrating but more than capable of moments of brilliance to turn a game. Mustapha Carayol would have been effective with the quality and quantity of balls he puts in the opposition area, food and drink for Jutkiewicz. Merouane Zemmama showed a glimpse of his ability when he played the ball for Jutkiewicz’s second goal against Derby, but his proneness to injury reared its head again as he pulled his hamstring in the build up to the goal. The substitute frustratingly being subbed off himself after less than twenty minutes.

The chopping and changing of the team through injuries and the probable theory that Mowbray is yet to know what his best eleven is, has led to four wins, four defeats, one draw and a decent Capital One Cup run thus far. Jutkiewicz is the player whom most of ‘Boro’s forward play will go through so its key he is kept fresh and given some support with a strike partner playing off him. Carayol is a big miss and the sooner he is back – which is not until new year – the better. At the back Woodgate and Williams could have the desired effect in helping the team shut out games without the need for panic.

It is possibly a bit early to look to the January window, but another winger to ease the burden which will probably be placed on Carayol would be nice, as would a central midfielder with a penetrating final ball. There is currently a lot of blood-and-thunder in midfield in the shape of Leadbetter, Nicky Bailey and Kevin Thomson, but too much onus on McEachran to provide a pass and some creativity.

If ‘Boro cut out the mistakes at the back the play-offs is achievable. If they dont, its going be a long hard slog in the middle of the table and, dare I say it, possibly lower. When Mowbray gets a settled eleven the team can put a run together, but we need to weather this early storm of unfortunate injuries and hopefully pick up some points on the road. A point at Watford would be good before we go into the international break, but ideally three points is needed to restore confidence. A defeat is not a good thing at anytime, especially before a few weeks off. The squad has got to stay strong and stop conceding silly goals.

UTB – until next time

Written by Craig Parr, We Are Going Up’s Middlesbrough blogger

Craig tweets at @CParr85

Seventh Heaven or Missed Opportunity?

Friday, May 4th, 2012

If you’d have said to me at the start of the season these statistics:

- Middlesbrough would finish seventh
- They would still be in with a shout of promotion on the last day
- They would only suffer defeat 12 times all season

I would have bitten your hand off right there. To also win ten games on the road to equal our second best record of away wins in a season, throwing in a win at Elland Road, I would have been more than pleased with the season ahead.

That is all well and good, but it’s these statistics that make the season a matter of what could have been:

- Boro only picked up six wins since the turn of the year
- After winning four out of five in February the Boro would go on a run that would see them not win for another eight games from March 10th till April 21st
- Over the season the Boro would throw 21 points away from winning positions
- On New Year’s Day Boro where second in the npower Championship

In fairness to Mowbray he hadn’t suffered any injuries during the period of August till December, apart from the pre season injury of Kevin Thomson. The turning point seemed to be when Nicky Bailey picked up his injury on New Year’s Eve against Peterborough. Then everyone dropped like flies, including long term injuries over the first half of 2012 to Scott McDonald, Faris Haroun, Rhys Williams and Matthew Bates. Throw in the fact the discipline of Joe Bennett and Barry Robson, including sending’s off to Tony McMahon, Kevin Thomson – twice, Julio Arca and Rhys Williams and the Boro’s squad was bare.

Perhaps the inexperience could be a factor as the Boro fielded eight first team academy players regularly this year in Jason Steele, Bates, Williams, Bennett, McMahon, Seb Hines, Curtis Main and Richie Smallwood as well as appearances for Adam Reach and keeper Connor Ripley.

That being said given their experience of winning the SPL and playing in the Champions League, the likes of McDonald, Stephen McManus, and Kevin Thomson have failed to deliver whereas Barry Robson’s form, which was incredible in the first half of the season, seemed to tail off once he signed a pre-contract agreement with Vancouver Whitecaps in February. Also the return of long term injury victims McDonald, Bailey and Thomson was too late as they failed to rediscover any form that they had experience previous. One more problem was that top goal scorer Marvin Emnes was playing through injury since March, so you can see just what a good job Tony Mowbray has done.

The main issue that has got Boro fans’ backs up is the dreaded home form. The Reds have only won seven at home all season and have seen the Reds win by a two goal margin twice this season. Big games at home have seen the team crumble and incredibly falter in the promotion race. Defeats to West Ham, Cardiff, Burnley, Reading and Leeds, which all ended 2-0, left a bad taste in fans’ mouths. The thing that topped it all off for the Riverside faithful was the drab 0-0 draw against all ready relegated Doncaster that ultimately cost Boro the play-offs in the short run.

With credit to Mowbray, he has acknowledged the fact that his Boro side have faltered this season in terms of where they were on January 1st  and also the fact they have not done enough at home this season, a subject that needs to be addressed not only for Mogga’s tenure, but previous regimes. In five years the Boro have played 110 home games, the number of games won by the Reds – 39. Having said that you can’t ignore the fantastic job he has done since he arrived in October in 2010, in brief he saved the Reds from relegation, was forced to cut the wage bill and still finished seventh the following season.

The consolation for Boro fans is that their team is in a good place, although more cuts are to happen in the summer. Nine players are out of contract including top wage earners such as Robson and Hoyte. With eight people out and maybe the sales of more big earners Mowbray can start to create his own team and show is credentials as a top manager which saw him take West Brom out of this division playing the type of football that was hailed by the national press

Written by Scott Easby, We Are Going Up’s Middlesbrough blogger

Scott tweets at @SEasby12

Home is where the heart isn’t for Boro

Monday, March 5th, 2012

It was an impressive result on Saturday for Middlesbrough as they beat hoodoo team Portsmouth 3-1 at Fratton Park to leap back into the play-offs.

Now the Boro have got two back-to-back home games against Yorkshire outfits Barnsley and fierce rivals Leeds United. We can match both of these teams for desire and fight but the thing lacking is goals at home, and even winning convincingly for that matter.

The last time Boro actually beat a team by two goals at home this season was against the now hugely impressive Birmingham City, way back in August.

In fact the only victories Boro do have at home this season, as well as the Brummies, are against Brighton, Watford, Hull City, Derby and Nottingham Forest. Nine victories away from home are the reason Boro are sat as high as fifth at the moment; if it weren’t for them who knows where the Reds could be languishing.

Of course, injuries haven’t been kind to the Boro this season with key men Barry Robson and Nicky Bailey missing from broken hand and knee ligament injuries respectively. Throw in the long term injury for Scott McDonald and you can see why Boro haven’t been firing on all cylinders.

The main reason for the disgruntled Riverside faithful is that the Reds haven’t been able to get it done against the teams closest to them.

The only victories Boro have managed at home against promotion rivals were against Brighton and Hull City in the golden period of December where Boro picked up 13 points from 15, the two points dropped of course was through conceding a late leveller against Peterborough.

The most disappointing defeats this season lay solely at the Riverside’s Ayresome Gates, as West Ham, Burnley and Reading all came away from the North East with 2-0 victories.

Here are some interesting stats for you:

- Marvin Emnes is Boro’s top goal scorer with 15 goals, but only 5 of those have come at The Riverside.

- Middlesbrough have scored only three goals once at home all season and only scored twice four times.

- Scott McDonald and Marvin Emnes have scored the most goals at the Riverside in the league with five, Barry Robson is next with three. Away from home collectively they’ve got nineteen.

This is grim reading for Boro fans, but Tony Mowbray tends to play counter-attacking football at other Championship grounds, whereas when teams travelled down to the Boro they sit and wait for Boro to break them down which is proving difficult for Mogga’s men.

Mowbray will be hoping the acquisition of Adam Hammill will help the Boro break down his former club Barnsley on Tuesday night.

Wins in the next two home games are imperative in the promotion battle as the Teessiders see their hardest test to date coming up with trips to Birmingham, West Ham, Brighton and the rearranged game at Ipswich Town in a manic March. The other fixture in the month is a home game against struggling Bristol City…what could possibly go wrong there?!

Hopefully in a months time I will be writing about maximum points home and away and a consolidated place in the play-offs…maybe even the automatic positions!

But this is Boro we’re on about here; we will probably finally crack it at home and gather maximum points at the Riverside for March…but then go on to lose all our away games. Typical Boro – we wouldn’t want it any other way!

Written by Scott Easby, We Are Going Up’s Middlesbrough blogger.

Scott tweets at @SEasby12

‘Boro transfer dealings crucial in promotion push

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Middlesbrough are in poor form, no one can hide the fact. Most people will try to blame the Manager of the Month curse upon Tony Mowbray, but it goes further than that.

Its a truth no Boro fan wanted to acknowledge when we where flying away from the pack. The truth in the matter is, the Reds squad is too small.  Mowbray needs to strengthen, but in order to do that he has to keep the financial balance right.  This why I feel Mogga has been a bit hit and miss in his transfer dealings since arriving at the club.

Looking at the pros and cons of his transfer dealings, you compare his freebies of Maxi Haas, Batholomew Ogbeche, Malaury Martin and Faris Haroun. The latter, Haroun has been outstaning for the Boro, whereas Haas was a massive flop. The jury is still out for the other two.

Mowbray’s loan acquisitions have also been a bit topsy-turvy. He brought back old boy Andrew Davies to not much avail as well as the anonymous Alex Nimely who was never given much of a shot. For goalkeepers he can’t be faulted. Carl Ikeme and Paul Smith where outstanding for Middlesbrough during their short spells with the club.

Hopefully the signing of Lukas Jutciewicz will state Boro’s intention in the January transfer window as Boro look set to keep adding. Jutkiewicz joined the club on an emergency loan last week, made his debut against Burnley at the weekend and was signed permanently on Monday for a fee in the region of £1.3 million.

To give Mowbray some credit, he is still trying weed out some of Gordon Strachan’s rejects, with Tarmo Kink being the latest to be linked with a move away from the club. Stephen McManus meanwhile has been linked with Championship strugglers Ipswich Town and Bristol City in the last few days.

The 2-0 defeat to Burnley at the Riverside opened the recycled discussion on the lack of depth in the squad, as 18-year-old rookie goalkeeper Connor Ripley had to start in place of the injured Jason Steele and Danny Coyne. Also, with hardman Nicky Bailey injured and lynchpin Barry Robson serving a suspension the Boro look lost without their key men.

Now with Scott McDonald and Bart Ogbeche carrying knocks as well as Jutkiewicz not allowed to play next week, due to a gentlemen’s agree between Boro and his old club and next opponents Coventry, the Reds are looking really short for options up top.

Boro fans will be hoping there are still some coppers left in Gibson’s wallet as Mogga will need to build on his side if they are to gain promotion.

Written by Scott Easby, We Are Going Up’s Middlesbrough blogger

Scott tweets at @SEasby12

Dare we dream yet?

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

The 2-0 defeat at the Riverside to West Ham United three weeks ago had everyone on the typical Middlesbrough bandwagon. Another defeat to a team that are in and around ‘Boro in the Championship table, to go with a loss to Southampton back in October.

Yes you may argue Middlesbrough beat teams such as Crystal Palace, and Derby County were defeated when they where in and around the play-offs, but against teams that are serious main stayers at the top, the Boro have floundered so far this season.

At Southampton Tony Mowbray’s side were outclassed and at home to the Hammers they looked frightened, as a men against boys comparison was set.

Flash forward three weeks later and didn’t Boro learn from these defeats?

Everyone had Cardiff City down for another undefeated game against the Reds, and it looked like it would happen when Aron Gunnarsson put the Bluebirds 2-1 up at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday.

However Mowbray’s men look to be made of sterner stuff as their character grows. A sensational second half performance on Saturday saw Boro fight back to win 3-2 and take all three points, to move three points off top spot. They sit two off second and two clear of fourth, with fourth place currently occupied by Nick Barmby’s in-form Hull City, who the Reds host on Boxing Day in what will be another stern test against fellow promotion hopefuls.

Now can we start to believe please?

“No!” exclaimed Tony Mowbray, and who are we to not listen to the ‘Boro gaffer?

The side’s character has passed tests in recent weeks with two 1-0 victories, which is what champions do when they don’t look on their game. Boro have won by that margin five times already this season.

There will be harder tests to come next year with away trips to Blackpool, Birmingham and West Ham in the offing, plus the return fixure against the Saints at home, which will be the second to last league match of the campaign.

Until the team passes those tests, I will not count on promotion for Middlesbrough just yet this season.

Written by Scott Easby, We Are Going Up’s Middlesbrough blogger

Scott tweets at @SEasby12

The Chase Begins

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

For two consecutive weeks now, Middlesbrough have leaked equalisers in the last 10 minutes and it doesn’t do the promotion chances any favours…

Victory at London Road on Saturday against Peterborough would have seen the Reds six points clear of Leeds, who are in fifth. That would have been the cushion Boro needed to practically confirm they were to start off the turn of the year in the play-offs.

The popular belief amongst fans is if Boro are still there by January, chairman Steve Gibson will find the cash to splash…Although we all know what can happen to any team’s form in six games, especially in the Championship.

The Boro do have a lifeline on Tuesday night as they face second place, and almost out of sight, West Ham United. Victory at fortress Riverside would see the gap between the two teams drop to just two points.

“Typical Boro” never make it easy for themselves however. Tony Mowbray’s men have consistently been in a position to finish top of the league after the weekend’s fixtures, only to blow it 10 minutes from the end.

Take the last two games for example. If Boro could have kept their 2-1 lead against Blackpool, they could have been sitting pretty in the top three. By Tuesday night they were looking down from fourth. This Saturday was a chance to consolidate our position in the play-offs and keep looking above, but now we stay fourth and are looking over the edge of a cliff where the rocks are slowly breaking.

So here comes the dreaded December and teams like Birmingham, Hull and Blackpool will all be sniffing around below us waiting for some scraps to pick up, and if Boro are not careful they could be swallowed up by mid-table mediocrity for a third successive season.

On the plus side however, with a game in hand on Cardiff and an impressive win this Tuesday it could see the Teessiders looking up and chasing the Hammers throughout Christmas when Boro play Brighton, Hull and Peterborough at the Riverside.

The decider could yet be at the River Taff though, as Boro travel to Cardiff in three weeks time on the 17th December. The Teessiders may be somewhat ‘out of sight’ from Cardiff if the luck goes with them between now and then and if they use their game in hand against West Ham successfully.

December will be a big month for Middlesbrough, both positionally and financially.

Written by Scott Easby, We Are Going Up’s Middlesbrough blogger

Scott tweets at @SEasby12

Nightmare before (and after) Christmas

Friday, November 18th, 2011

One famous northern philosopher once wrote: “so here it is Merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun.”

Well that is certainly never the case when Middlesborough turn over their November calendar page.

As soon as that page is turned all of ‘Boro’s hard work and playing well as a team suddenly disintergrates.

It is associated with the club’s history as much as the transporter bridge when Boro fans hit the height of November 30, then it takes someone to say: “We never do well in December!” the town is deflated. It’s a yearly event, I think Boro fans should write it in each others Christmas cards!

Stretching back as far as the era of Big Jack Charlton as Middlesbrough manager in the seventies, where the club were sitting pretty in the top three of Division One. Only for their form to tail off by Christmas and the players to stock up on turkey and Cameron’s Ale (as was seventies culture… I think) where after December they began to slide down the table and ended up finishing halfway.

1995-96 was a great season for ‘Boro. New stadium, Juninho and Robbo’s revolution, fourth come December. Then eleven games without a win saw the club again finish twelfth. The dizzy heights of Europe flirted with us supporters and led us on until finally settling for a different team. Christmas heartbreak once again.

2004-05 now, and again Boro are flying high in fourth – this time the Champions League was in sight! Whisper it quietly though, its November. Suprisingly December came and Boro battered Aston Villa 3-0, but that was a false dawn as the team lost ground again with a point at relegation-threatened Southampton and defeat from Manchester United deterring Boro from any hopes of unrealistically playing Real Madrid. Fortunately the club did finish 7th and gained automatic qualification for the UEFA Cup.

In December 2005-06 an already struggling Middlesbrough lost to Blackburn in the league and where knocked out of the cup by them. A draw against Tottenham and Manchester City saw Boro stay closer to the bottom then there usual midtable tendencies.

Under Gordon Strachan in 2009 Boro had just hammered QPR at Loftus Road 5-1 and optimism was high, with a game to come Blackpool at home and the thought that the team may have finally blended under Strachan. Cue St. Ledger and Brad Jones – ‘Boro suffered four straight defeats with defeats to Blackpool, Cardiff City and rivals Newcastle United. The club eventually slid from fifth to twelfth to miss out on promotion, which looked so promising under Gareth Southgate.

Last year Boro had a mixed December as they picked up important wins against promotion chasing Cardiff as well as a 3-1 win at fellow strugglers Preston North End. Defeats against Doncaster Rovers and Swansea City soon put a dampener on proceedings though.

However ff there is anyone who can banish the Christmas hoodoo it is Tony Mowbray, the Messiah Mogga. He has worked miracles for the team in the last year, turning them from relegation battlers into promotion chasers either side of cutting the wage bill. I think I speak for all Boro fans when I say that all we want for Christmas is the Reds to still be in the play-offs still come January 1st.

Written by Scott Easby, We Are Going Up’s Middlesbrough blogger

Scott tweets at @SEasby12

Mogga is clever in the Transfer Smartket

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

What a turn around on Sunday….

But, more importantly, what an impact from our new acquisitions!

Tony Mowbray is turning out to be very clever when it comes to cheap and affordable players within the budget – a situation he seems to be thriving under.

Last year he managed to persuade Stoke City boss Tony Pulis to let him take Andrew Davies on loan. The Stockton born centre half proved vital experience when Boro where seeing out games, something they had struggled with during January and February. Eventually Boro were holding on to one goal leads and battled away from the relegation zone.

Another signing who, due to injuries, hasn’t had time to make an impact is Moroccan Merouane Zemmama who came from Hibernian. The Marakesh Express to his credit has shown little glimpses of his talent that is highly rated by Mogga and his former Easter Road backroom staff Mark Venus and Jack Watson. Hopefully when he returns in mid-September he can overcome his injury worries and show the Riverside faithful his dazzling speed and skills.

German defender Maxi Haas did come in for a short stint from Bayern Munich’s reserves but looked out of his depth and departed the Riverside before his English football career even began.

When Mowbray was shedding Boro’s heavy wage bill in the summer only one player arrived, Blackpool’s French maestro Malaury Martin. The former AS Monaco talent was an unknown quantity in England, but he spent last season at Bloomfield Road’s Premier league side. Unfortunately for him a serious knee injury ruled him out for the season and he was subsequently released by the now Championship outfit.

But what was Blackpool’s loss was Boro’s gain as Mogga took him on trial and signed him to a one year deal. He started well in the cup at Walsall as he set up Marvin Emnes’ first goal of his hat trick. On Sunday Martin turned up the volume as he thumped a brilliant curler past Boaz Myhill to announce himself to the Riverside faithful.

BBC Tees’ Ali Brownlee said the French had smashed the net so hard, it was sent to Redcar and, as I am going to work there today, it is my goal (no pun intended) to find the stringy remains of Martins destruction.

Then we come to Faris Haroun, Mogga had been in pursuit of the Belgian international the moment he was released by his side Beerschot. Although he missed out at Barnsley, Mowbray finally got his man and he went straight onto the bench for the Birmingham game.

Haroun made an immediate impact as he gave Boro the lead aswell as supplying Martin for his goal. He was tall and imposing with quick feet or, as my Dad described him, ‘he was like Bambi on ice’. Whatever way you described him Haroun looks the business and you can see why Mowbray looked and sounded so delighted when Faris put pen to paper.

Since Tony Mowbray arriving there has been the departures of Kris Boyd, Gary O’Neil, Didier Digard, Willo Flood, Andrew Taylor and David Wheater with only the aforementioned players coming in.

Overall I feel there is only Tony Mowbray who could deal with the financial disasters Boro had in the summer and with this week being 25 years since Boro where saved from the brink of extinction, the message is the same – it is time to rebuild.

Written by Scott Easby, We Are Going Up’s Middlesbrough blogger

Scott tweets at @SEasby12

So Far So Good for Boro….

Friday, August 19th, 2011

So with the first week of the Championship over I thought it would be a good time to start this blog for Middlesbrough FC. The Boro have kick started the season hopefully as they mean to go on with 2 wins and a draw (one win in the League Cup). This leaves us sixth in the league and hopefully we can remain in and around that area maybe even having a cheeky push for promotion.

That been said it hasn’t been entirely plain sailing. I raise the issue that has been bothering me for the whole of the last season. WHY CANT WE KILL TEAMS OFF! It hasn’t been as much of an issue since Mogga (Tony Mowbray) came in but this season is looking suspiciously like last in the way that we spurn a hatful of chances then find ourselves in added on time and hanging on for dear life (and in the case of the Portsmouth match being punished for it.) Based on the match against Pompey the main issue I could see (except for our wasteful finishing) is how deep we seem to drop entering the 90 min mark. The midfield starts to look tired in the last quarter of the game and this leads to the rest of them dropping further and further back which invites pressure. A simple answer to this has surely got to be introducing the subs a lot earlier in the game. A few changes around the 70 minute mark would make all the difference and help to keep the pressure off. The stats would suggest that I am being too picky as we have won in our last four consecutive away games however it is a problem that has followed on from the Gordon Strachan era.

However now that I have got that rant out of the way I can comment on the outstanding player who, as one of my mates put it “has become like the second coming of Jesus to our fans.” Marvellous Marvin Emnes. It has to be said that I had my doubts about our hero of the last week with his meagre goal scoring and at times quite frankly abysmal touch however five goals in his last three games has certainly put me in my place. He has linked the play exceptionally and shown great awareness in the pass. The goal against Leeds was nothing short of brilliant, the composure to touch it past his man then rifle it in the top corner was excellent considering the amount of pressure he was under to put it away; Sky Sports News even gave it goal of the weekend. I hope that he can keep up this kind of form and continue to prove me wrong throughout the season.

The thing that has come to my immediate attention this week has been our lack of activity in the transfer market. We have let players such as Kris Boyd, Didier Digard and Leroy Lita go over the course of the summer and these must have been among the top earners in the squad. With that in mind I would love to see at least another two bodies in. A big striker that can offer a different threat to that already posed by Scott McDonald and Marvin Emnes and cover for the left back position because I in no way rate Jonathon Grounds as a left back (or any kind of professional footballer). These signings would give us the boost that I certainly feel we need if we are going to keep on pushing for the automatic promotion places. We have already brought in an unproven midfielder in Malaury Martin and goalkeeper Carl Ikeme on loan from Wolves for a month. The latter was absolutely outstanding against Leeds and fully deserved his clean sheet. A keeper was something that was in sore need of addressing based on our pre season game against Darlington where our current number one Danny Coyne had a torrid time dealing with the aerial threats that were posed by the non league side.

The return of Julio Arca has certainly been a positive as I feel we would have missed his creativity in the midfield and the balance he brings with that left foot of his. Keeping him should prove to be a key signing. Another key player for us is our utility man Rhys Williams who in my opinion doesn’t get the credit he deserves. At his best in the centre of midfield he is strong in the tackle and has an eye for a pass. If we can keep hold if this player who is attracting attention from the likes of Bolton Wanderers we could look at that as one of the defining moments of the current transfer window. Having said that I understand the loss of the parachute payment scheme will leave us with a sore need to slash the wage budget so patience may have to be key.

Attendances are another issue which has blighted Middlesbrough FC for the last few seasons since our relegation. It has led to the closing of the South Stand for the home support as we fail again and again to draw in the crowds. The football under Gordon Strachan was terrible with people leaving the stadium disappointed and dejected with no hope for the team but under Tony Mowbray we look a rejuvenated side that can certainly go places. The football is fast paced and exciting, very rarely have I left the stadium feeling disappointed about our manner of football. Our fans have to let go of the fact that we were not so long ago European qualifiers and accept where we are and the good work that is going on at our football club to take us in the right direction.

Overall I feel that although we have a long way to go, we have started the season positively and Tony Mowbray has us playing the kind of football that should start to draw in the crowds. In Mogga we trust.

Written by Stephen Wright, We Are Going Up’s Middlesbrough Blogger

Stephen tweets at @stealdon

Mighty Marv

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Marvin Emnes is giving every Boro fan a reason to walk 500 miles to see him at the moment…And rest assured they will walking 500 more to witness magic from the dynamic Dutchman.

Emnes’ stock has risen ten-fold on last year. Nearly a year to the day when he was an unused sub at Chesterfield in the League Cup (the only time Gordon Strachan involved him in his squad) he bangs a hat-trick in at Walsall to become Mighty Marv.

This is a prime example as to what Tony Mowbray has done with Emnes.

The Dutch international was signed by Boro boss Gareth Southgate from Eredivisie outfit Sparta Rotterdam for £3.2 million and, as Southgate described it, was signed as a ‘project’. Emnes scored on his debut in a 5-1 cup demolition of Yeovil Town, which was at the start of a season so full of promise that led to Boro in the bottom three with three games to go.

Southgate called on his project for his league debut in a relegation battle against fierce rivals Newcastle United; despite Emnes’ impressive performance he still couldn’t prevent Boro losing 3-1 and eventually, two games later, from being relegated.

Emnes kicked off Boro’s first season in the Championship the way he started it with a smashing goal against Swansea…but Emnes’ creator and designer Southgate was sacked two months later with the team second in the league.

Then the nightmare began…

Gordon Strachan arrived and Emnes became Marv the Magician as he disappeared off Boro teamsheet.

Strachan told Emnes he would never played for the Boro as long as he was here and was shipped to Swansea City on loan.

Fortunately for Marv (and Boro) Strachan left during his time in Wales. In stepped the Mogganaut (Tony Mowbray) who licked his small lips at the acquisiton he was getting back.

Mowbray then changed him into Miracle Marv as he put on his new squad number of 32. He even scored against Swansea, which meant at that point, the only goals he had scored in England still consisted of Swansea competing in each game.

A bright end of the season, with a goal against Leicester City and a few assists, saw the Swans come back for Emnes.

Mowbray sacrificed second top goalscorer Leroy Lita in a bid to keep his vast improving winger/striker. Mogga got his man just a day before the kick off to the Championship as Emnes signed a long term contract to become S..Moggie Marv (okay…I’ll stop trying!).

As soon as he signed his bright boots started to spark and since then the magic has been produced as he has scored 6 goals in 4 games.

As long as Marvin is fit, the Boro look set for a bright season and with his blossoming partnership with Scotty McDonald, Emnes can expect a goal rush this season.

Written by Scott Easby, We Are Going Up’s Middlesbrough Blogger

Scott tweets at @SEasby12