Middlesbrough Preview & Open Thread

If we win this one, I’ll really start to believe. And win it we should. Middlesbrough are in freefall at the moment, although they haven’t played too badly in quite a few games. Last week against Man City, they certainly deserved something out of the game.

I hope I don’t regret saying this, but it is nearly two months since we put in a bad performance. Even last week, when we lost for the first time in nine games, we played superbly throughout the game. I’d settle for a dud performance and a win today, though. Like all of you, I fancy a trip to Wembley. But I musn’t get carried away.

The rumour is that Valon Behrami will be rested today and be replaced by Radoslav Kovacs. I suspect that if that happens, he will join Scott Parker in central midfield with Mark Noble moving out left and Collison switching to the right. James Tomkins also has a knock. If he had been fit, I suspect he would have been drafted into central defence.

Up front, I’d have though Di Michele would retain his place, although I must admit I’d quite like to see Savio get a full game. Perhaps it is too early.

I’m not sure I expect a free flowing game, or a vintage performance, but if we don’t nick a victory I am sure we will all be devastated.

At 5pm I will post the players rating poll again, so do come back then. I may not be able to get on a computer this evening to do a match report as I’ll be doing the paper review on the BBC sometime between 11.20 and 11.45 so I won’t be going home in between.



98 Responses to Middlesbrough Preview & Open Thread

  1. If not selected I suspect Savio will have a longer run-out this time… maybe half an hour?

    This game could suit Di Michele, since he will probably have more space in which to operate. The ManYoo style was suffocating last week, something which I don’t anticipate Middlesbrough emulating, so I’m looking for Cole and Di Michele to continue forging a decent relationship.

    I have a lot of respect for the way Boro have been playing, and Southgate is a decent manager who will come good… just not today, please!!

    Looking forward to chatting with you stay-at-home guys later. If you’re off to the match let’s hope you have a great time.

    My pre-match timetable includes updating my website with a couple of great videos (click on Graybomeister) and collecting some gym equipment for my lad. Then I’ll pop back on here to see if anyone else is watching a streaming of the match.

  2. Colm says:

    Im so proud of my hammers lately,and I just know they will give us another solid stilish performance today!!!

    I too would love to see savio get a good run out today, anyone going to the match should sing your hearts out for zola and clarke to let them know we really appreciate what their doing for our belovid club!!!!

    I predict our boy Carlton Cole will score at least 9 hatricks today 😉


  3. Tevezgate says:

    Looking forward to a good solid performance today, hopefully 2-0 to us… and a repeat of this would be nice 🙂

  4. Big_Casino says:

    I’d drop Di Michelle for any of our other strikers…. be it Savio, Sears or Tristan….

    We play a diamond in midfield, so if Kovac did come in for Behrami he’d probably play to the right of the diamond, with Parker holding… I suspect that Kovac will be on the bench, and if Behrami is rested, then Savio will come in…. he can either play left of the diamond, with Collison going to the right, or at the top of the diamond, with Noble going to the right where Behrami usually plays….

    I’d go with the following:


    Collins (or Tomkins if Collins not fit)

    Behrami (or Savio if Behrami is rested)

    Sears (or Savio if Behrami starts in midfield)

  5. Big Casino… all valid points, but I hope they don’t tinker any more than is necessary. I really believe that the secret of success is a consistently selected side and formation in which each player instinctively knows each others’ movements.

  6. Dujon says:

    I really hope Savio gets a decent run out there. And our boy sears can at least be on the bench and get some game time.

    Would love to see Cole, Sears and Savio score. (dimichele as well :P).

    3-0 to us would be mint.

  7. DevoDevo says:

    I’ve backed us at decent prices for the cup and fancy us to go a long way.

    I hope GZ doesn’t tinker too much today, Boro are in poor form, but are still a premiership side quite capable of performing well.

    If Behrami is rested I’d like to see Noble on the right, Kovac holding, Parker further forward and Collison left. I’d also give Savio at least half hour for either Collison or Noble depending on the result and where any danger is coming from.

    I also worry about Sears’ future. If Dixon takes off, he sounds like he could be a superstar, that leaves Freddie evn further down the pecking order, not even allowing for the return of Ashton. Hope he gets some time today and scores!

    On the subject if Ashton, I’m not surprised he has had another op. He never seemed right to me when he made his last comeback, let’s hope the new medical team have got to the bottom of the problem. Make no mistake, with a fit Ashton, Cole (did well in the week), supplemented with Di Michele, Sears & Dixon, we’ll have a strong front line.

    Boro have a dire record at the Boleyn, let’s hope that continues.

    2-0 West Ham.

  8. SJ Chandos says:

    I agree with GBM that the least tinkering the better, but it looks like Berhami could be out so, in that case, they will have to rejig the diamond formation. I also agree with Big Casino’s logic, but the other option could be moving Noble to the right, having Collison at the point of the diamond and bringing in Boa Morte on the left. Yes I know, I do not particularly want to see that either, but it is an option.

    I think that Kovac plays central midfield, rather than wide left or right. So, if he comes in there, perhaps they might move Scotty Parker to the point and have Noble and Collison in the wide positions. Although I am not sure this is the best use of Parker, considering his recent excellent form in the defensive anchor role?

    The other issue is the knocks to Collins and Tomkins, if neither are available then Kovac could debut at centre half? Then the issue is whether Zola goes with that or plays Neill at centre half and brings in Spector at right-back?

    Still, whatever the selection, I be very disappointed if the Hammers do not win this one at a canter. You can never make assumptions about FA cup ties, but I expect West Ham to win by at least two clear goals,
    2-0 or 3-1. Enjoy the game folks!

  9. Is my memory playing tricks or did Noble not play well just behind the forwards at Chelsea?

  10. … sorry ambiguity… I meant I thought that he DID play well in that role. (think)

  11. SJ Chandos says:

    Sorry forgot to mention the striker positions. I think that they will start with Cole and Di Michele. I agree that Boro are the quality of opposition that Di Michele can do well against, so hopefully no problem there. However, I would like to see Sears get some match time in this match, particularly if we are well in control.

    Anyone know what the latest is on Dyer?

  12. Johnboy says:

    Yeah I’d agree with those points Ian. Isn’t it blooming great though to have options (albeit largely untried ones) in certain positions, but have other positions that have dead certs playing there? Would love to see a bit of a marauding Ilunga causing some havoc – would love to see Freddie come on and bang one in, the boy needs some playing, I feel. Those crossed arms of his need another outing if only for the massive buzz it gave me last time. This is the magic of the cup and I want more! All this talk of GZ and Clarkey being linked with the Ruskies this week has given me conniptions I could do without. What I could do with is a healthy run-in and a sweet sweet trip to Wemberley.


    Prediction: 3-1 to the cockney boys

  13. Dujon says:

    I was thinking the exact same about Freddie Sears. Dixon’s description is very similar to sears (a rooney-like player).

    I hope both get chances to prove themselves.

    I agree, i’d take any win but would love to see a 2 or 3 goal victory.

  14. Johnboy says:

    By the way, did anyone read this? Har har har.


  15. Dujon says:

    lol i laughed at the comment

    “he is a very bright player. don’t worry give it a year and we will buy him back for 10 million”

    good luck terry, best wishes here at the hammersss.

  16. Johnboy, thanks for the link:

    ** ‘The thought that we may have thrown away one of our brightest prospects, sickens me in truth.’ **

    … my heart bleeds for them! 😉

  17. richo says:

    Confident bout this one guys and girls…

  18. Johnboy says:

    My pleasure Graybo. Tottenham are our feeder club…

  19. chris says:

    Its a great opportunity to see savio just floating around cole,so lets give him a full game!
    Heard collins is injured,shed any light anyone?
    Hope to see kovac at sometime.
    hope to see.
    cole, savio…Noble,kovac,parker,collinson,ilunga,collins,upson,Me.

  20. chris says:

    ?Dixons nothing like sears,hes twice the player and twice the size.my sons in the west ham youth set up,I’ve seen dixon play and hes a monster.

  21. Johnboy says:

    Your son’s a genuwine hammer? Congrats Chris.

  22. richo says:

    Twice the player of Sears…that is something to get excited about…

  23. Trappisto says:

    Another good comment on that Spurs site:

    “Ah West Ham. Where the terminally crocked go. Don’t worry about it because a) just because he was highly rated doesn’t mean he was ever going to make it and b) West Ham only sign players with injury problems. You can criticise whose decision it was all you like but I actually have faith in the Spurs medics, we are nowhere near as bad as a few years back. Look at Dyer, Ashton, Faubert, Parker. All players with injury problems and Terry Dixon will probably join that list as one of the players always out injured from the first team presuming that he even makes it at all.”

    How many long-term injured players do we have again? Is it 3 now that Dyer is crocked again? We’re far better than we were a couple of years ago now we’ve sorted the medical set-up and we’re buying sensibly.

    Anyway, I fancy us for the win today, and am looking forward to watching the feed (as I live in Edinburgh) – I’m hoping I won’t be watching through my fingers like the last two weeks!

    As an aside, I was looking at our fixtures for the rest of the season and seeing which are realistically winnable. I had us at about 60 points come season end, with a bit of luck on our side. Anyone else ta

  24. SwedeHammer says:

    They are not showing it in LA!! Does anyone have a live feed??

  25. Trappisto says:


    Anyone else taken a look at the fixtures? Or, evenm better, compared them to our rivals for a European spot?

  26. Trappisto says:

    The feeds linked to at the top are generally good, I tend to use:


  27. SwedeHammer says:

    Thanks Trappisto!!

  28. Johnboy says:

    Alright Trappisto, I’m in Edinburgh too. Lovely city, miles away from U.P. 😦

  29. Johnboy says:

    And that Sam at West Ham Process is a legend

  30. Trappisto says:

    I agree about Edinburgh Johnboy! I’m over in Leith so I can’t even wear my West Ham scarf around locally as the Hibs fans think I’m a Hearts supporter and give me nasty looks – I almost didn’t get served in Dominos Pizza once!

  31. richo says:

    You Edinburgh guys think you have it tough, i’m in Wollongong:-(

  32. Johnboy says:

    Richo mate you’ve got about as much chance of seeing the game today as I have, only tomorrow you’ll have sunshine 😉

  33. LBM plays… hope he does well and scores. If anyone could really do with a lift, it’s him.

    Hope the crowd encourages rather than gets on his back.

  34. Johnboy says:

    I go to a few Hibs games – there are similarities between us and them. Top supporters they’ve got, I reckon. I agree though, I wouldn’t be wearing me colours down Easter Road! I was at Hampden when Hibs won the cup a couple back. When they played Sunshine On Leith at the end it was a moment I can tell you. Now let’s hear Bubbles at Wembley mate!

  35. matthew says:

    richo,.. wollongong is good, kiama beach is lovely, good pub too! been there loads of times.

    just seen sky sports, Valon out, lbm in, mmmmm…..

  36. richo says:

    Johnyboy, I watch on pay tv, hopin’ to get over to the UK soon (probably durin next season)to watch a home game.

  37. richo says:

    Yeah Matt awesome place to live, was at Kiama beach last week

  38. Johnboy says:

    Yes mate. Last time I managed to get to U.P. we did Boro 3-0. I’m a student with 4 kids so it was a financial gamble! Hope yours pays off too, it’s a long way (and wait)

  39. richo says:

    Thanks for those feeds, just realised there’s no FA cup games on Setanta what a joke

  40. richo says:

    Gee Boros team has changed a lot recently aint it?

  41. Trappisto says:

    Here we go – good luck to the boys!


  42. Wake up, Hammers!!!

  43. Brilliant Upson to the rescue… we seem to be letting Boro

    Well done LBM feeding Collison… he’s got great feet for a tall lad.

  44. richo says:

    That was more like it

  45. Richo shouldn’t you be in bed? Are you staying up just to watch this or are you on a night shift?

  46. richo says:

    I’m always up for West Ham games mate, dont work on sundays, mind you the missus aint a fan of my weekly sunday sleep in

  47. Trappisto says:

    Good grief.

  48. fair play to them… they just look more direct when they go forward

  49. richo says:

    Lucas bloody Neill

  50. richo says:

    plenty of time

  51. Boro are going to grow in confidence, that’s the danger.

  52. richo says:

    were looking good up front just missin Valon in midfield

  53. All a bit flat and aimless for us this first half.

    People need to step up and take responsibility. I wonder if the guys thought this one was a gimme. Hope Clarke reads the riot act at half-time. Deffo missing Valon.

  54. Poor CC, such a good midweek showing and now this… doesn’t look too much of a long-term injury, though.

  55. I still think we will win, though.

  56. Richo I admire your dedication. I think I’d have given this one a miss if it were a choice between a match that didn’t look as though it would be a classic… or bed.

  57. Trappisto says:

    Yeah, hopefully we’ll get through to half time without conceding again, then they can get some sense knocked into them by Clarke. We had that good bit of pressure earlier so the players just need to keep their heads up and concentrate.

  58. richo says:

    Yeah if we don’t score in the first ten or so minutes after ht i’m gonna hit the pillow

  59. richo says:

    cos this is just frustrating

  60. richo says:

    What a joke Neill is… Collins havin to run out to cover his flank

  61. richo says:

    I think we just witnessed why Tristan aint been playin…

  62. Trappisto says:

    CC would have put that one away 😉

  63. It’s not going to be one of those days, is it? On this showing I wouldn’t even fancy Noble if we won a pen.

  64. Paul M says:

    woefull finishing, gotta get it sorted or we’re out

  65. richo says:

    Here we go come on Freddy

  66. C’mon, Freddie… show us what you’re made of. Let’s get some boys out wide and start stretching them. Ilunga and Neill need to push on

  67. Really missing Behrami… Boro have got so much time on the ball. Valon’s the one who seems to get everyone else fired up and steaming into the tackle.

  68. Richo’s hit the sack, by the look of it. Don’t blame him… I think I might go for a run. If I come back and discover that we’ve won 2-1 I’ll be happy.

  69. richo says:

    sadly i’m still watchin’ clinging on to hope

  70. Trappisto says:

    We’re still giving the ball away all the time. I’m still hoping too mind – we’ve looked very fit of late, so perhaps Boro will start fading soon and we’ll get a bit more time on the ball?

  71. richo says:

    i’ll be happy with 1 goal and a replay that’s the best we could hope for at the moment

  72. richo says:

    doesn’t seem to be any urgency

  73. richo says:

    Johnson has just scored a quality goal for Pompey against ManC

  74. Trappisto says:

    Reckon we could swap him for Neill?

    We’re getting forward a bit now, but it all seems overcomplicated at the moment.

  75. richo says:

    Yeah were trying to walk the ball into the net but it’s all Boro at the moment

  76. Trappisto says:

    A goal each for Savio and Sears then?

    I can but dream I guess…

  77. richo says:

    One last roll of the dice by Zola come on Savio

  78. richo says:

    That miss by DiMichele looks very bad on replay

  79. Tevezgate says:

    shocking stuff, we need to get rid of di mMchele & Tristan asap

  80. Trappisto says:

    Yeah, seemed like DiMichele had a pretty much open goal.

  81. Trappisto says:


    Annoyingly though, I’m watc

  82. Trappisto says:

    watching the bottom feed on onyahead and the comments told me in advance we scored!

  83. richo says:

    yessss Ilunga you are a legend

  84. Tevezgate says:

    GET IN THERE!!!!


  85. Trappisto says:

    I’d take the draw – we’re far far better than we’ve showed today, so hopefully we’d make a better job of a replay!

  86. richo says:

    showin the forwards how its done

  87. Tevezgate says:

    And as for these w******s commentating on Setanta… SO biased it’s pathetic

  88. richo says:

    For sure Trappisto i’m with ya on that still 5 mins though

  89. Paul M says:

    lucky there boys

  90. Paul M says:

    thats the poorest we have played under GZ not sure why. Can only get better for the replay

  91. richo says:

    Very lucky

  92. Trappisto says:

    Well, after sitting through that I’m happy with the draw – it was tough in the final third with the number of men Boro put behind the ball.

    On the downside Lawro was right with his prediction of 1-1, which is slightly galling.

    And on the plus side, LBM went off injured.

  93. richo says:

    To put in such a shabby performance and still get a replay is fortunate, hopefully CC is fine and Behrami comes back, like you say Paul can only get better

  94. Trappisto says:

    Seen the other scores? There’s going to be a lot of replays…

  95. Paul M says:

    pompey done citey and bellend got booked – shame

  96. brookingsbonce says:

    Not very impressive today…poorest we’ve been under GZ… but where still in it, hopefully get berhami fit and cc for replay and give them the smoggies the hiding they deserve!!!!

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