Lets turn The Riverside into a Fortress.

Fourteen games into the Championship campaign and we are sitting pretty in fifth position,two points off the leaders.I have always believed that twelve or fourteen games into a season, gives you a rough idea as to which direction you are heading, thankfully it is the right one.

Our away form up untill the Wolves game has been terrific, as a unit we are solid, competitive and creative and our set in stone formation works a treat, our counter attack play has also been very impressive on our travels. At home however we continue to huff and puff and at times flatter to deceive. Eleven points out of twenty-one at the Riverside doesn’t make good reading but there is still a long way to go, if we are going to make it back into the promised land (Premier League), it is something that we have to sort out and address.The onus is on us to break the opposition down.To be fair we have scored twelve goals at the Riverside, including four against a poor Brentford outfit.

I have always believed in the saying fortune favours the brave and at home at times, I don’t think we are brave or adventurous enough,we are cautious and hesitant and the formation suits our opposition as much as ourselves.

Lets get this straight I am a fan of Karanka. The people I know within the club rave about his training methods and his overall demeanour . I was in his company for an hour at the start of the season and he came across as bright, intelligent and honest, laced with a bit of charm, I personally like all his traits.

After the Wolves game recently he said publicly that he had got it wrong, referring to the line up, but he did not actually say who or what was wrong.In my humble opinion Tomlin should have definitely started against Wolves, after all he did score his only Championship goal three days earlier against Brighton and yet found himself on the bench. He could have had a slight strain or injury unknown to us, but if he did not, why was he left out?

Scoring a goal gives you a massive personal boost, ignites the fire within and instills a confidence, I can only talk from experience. I can honestly say I can’t recall been left out after I scored a goal, whether we won, drew or lost the game.I have always believed you should be rewarded when you have scored a goal.

On the subject of strikers, despite having Tomlin, Kike, Vossen and Bamford we still lack a fox in the box type striker, a Jonny on the spot, a sniffer, call it what you like.

Against Watford on Saturday the amount of quality balls that went into our opponents box and were not finished off was criminal. I have witnessed that several times at the Riverside this season.

Karanka continues to chop, change and rotate the squad system, I am personally not a fan of this from the outside and certainly would not like it if I was in  the squad, but that is only my opinion. Karankas opinion is the one that counts as he is the manager and up until now, in the main he has got it right, we must congratulate him along with the team for their efforts. Hopefully we can turn the Riverside into a fortress and if we can achieve that we could be looking at a top two finish.

League and Cup double so close.

Saturdays performance at home to Brentford was what the home fans have been craving for a long time, entertainment, excitement, goals, a clean sheet and 3 points.
After an hour it crossed my mind to dial 999 and report a murder taking place at the Riverside.The Championship new boys huffed and puffed, created nothing and totally looked out of their depth. Leadbitter continued his sinsilating form with another fantastic finish and lead by example throughout. On loan spurs defender Ryan Fredericks looked the real deal at right back,obviously it’s only one game but he certainly looked the part and it was great to see Patrick Bamford open his account.

Last night we switched our attention to Capital One Cup action.
Over the years for me the competition has lost a bit of its shine with diminishing crowds, weakened teams and average performances.
Well last night Liverpool v Middlesbrough at Anfield put the shine back into the competition, it had the lot, atmosphere, drama, excitement and just under 42,000 spectators,oh and an extraordinary penalty shoot out.
Each and everyone of the Boro players showed nerves of steel in front of a baying Kop to take their penalties and they all deserve huge praise and credit.
Despite our tremendous efforts, unfortunately we bowed out of the competition.

Now back to league action at Charlton on Saturday, lets hope we can keep our impressive away from going.
Last night Middlesbrough made 6 changes in total from the side that beat Brentford, no doubt Karanka will make more against the Addicks .I have never been a fan of constantly chopping and changing, but so far it’s working a treat.

Apologies for no Bernie does the Boro on Cvfm 104.5 last night, due to extra time and penalty shoot out it was too late.
I will be back this Saturday between 6-7pm so give me a call on 01624 688104.

Sarcastic applause uncalled for.

Saturdays home defeat against a poor Reading side was majorly disappointing to say the least.
On the day we created numerous chances and time after time we failed to convert.
Kike and Co could have played until next Saturday and not scored a goal, a mixture of poor finishing and wrong selection of pass were costly.
We now have a two week break to get our act together and get back on the rails.
I am delighted that Patrick Bamford has finally signed, disappointed that its only till January.
I don’t know much about winger Yanic Wildschut, but lets hope he is a hit.
Signing Ryan Fredericks is important for competition in the right back position, but the biggest scoop of all would be getting the signature of Jelle Vossen.
Going back to the game it wasn’t just the result that was disturbing, the sarcastic applause and the odd boo directed at our first team keeper Mejias every time he collected the ball, in my opinion was uncalled for. It’s quite evident that the Lynch Mob are out to get him after his clangers against Leeds and Sheffield and they won’t be happy until he is dropped.
It’s clear that the Spaniard is lacking in confidence and he looks jittery at every opposing attack. But having a go after 5 or 10 mins into a game is totally uncalled for. It’s either a lack of education or too much alcohol on the fans part.
I have been booed myself on occasions and my own personal mentality was, if you want to pay money to watch me and boo me when I’m having a bad time, carry on, it certainly won’t make me play better.
I don’t know the keepers mindset, but he doesn’t seam to be coping very well.
If I am being brutally honest I am surprised he is our first choice keeper and the longer his confidence drains the more it will filter through the team.In fact the uncertainty is evident now.
I have always believed that the fans pay their hard earned cash and are entitled to air their views whenever they feel like it. But no one has ever convinced me of the benefits of having a go at one of your own team after 5 or 10 minutes into a game.
Its interesting to see that Kei Kamara has had his contract terminated.
I was quoted months ago as saying if he put as much effort into his Middlesbrough career as he did on his twitter account, he would end up one hell of a player. Its quite clear he didn’t take note.

No 1 still up for grabs.

There are three occupations in life I have never considered and in fact I would never do, policeman, referee and goalkeeper. Why? All are difficult jobs, you need to make rash decisions, which can be costly and the majority of people don’t like you, well the first two jobs anyway.
There has been a lot of discussions during and after the game on Saturday against Sheffield Wednesday regarding the Tomas Mejias clanger after 6 mins.
That’s one of the downsides of being between the sticks, you can be isolated for long periods throughout the games and when you boob your isolated even greater and hung,drawn and quartered by the critics.
Mejias made a great save not long after his howler, but everyone forgets that.
If I am being honest I am surprised that Mejias is our first choice keeper.Whenever I have watched him, he has looked nervy, uncomfortable and uncertain, with these deficiencies it causes unrest and uncertainty throughout the side as a defensive unit.
To be fair to the lad, when he joined us on loan last season he only played one game and then dislocated a finger in training and was never seen again that would have knocked his confidence.
I was also surprised that Boro made his loan deal permanent and up until now, four league games in, I have seen nothing as yet to convince me he is the chosen one. Of course it’s still early days and he may turn out to be a top class keeper.
Karanka has defended his under fire keeper saying, “Tomas is strong enough for the championship, he is good enough for Middlesbrough and has a big future here. He is a player who grew up playing for Real Madrid and is a strong character.”
The managers reference towards his signing is glowing and I wouldn’t expect anything else, but actions speak louder than words and two clangers in four league games, puts pressure on both the player and the manager.
As far as I’m concerned we continue to search for a genuine replacement for Mark Schwarzer, who departed to Fulham in 2008. In his six year absence we have had a host of keepers, Ross Turnbull, Brad Jones, Carl Ikeme, Paul Smith, Danny Coyne, Jayson Leutwiler, Shay Given, Jason Steele, Dimi Konstantopoulos and now Tomas Mejias. The only one that stood out for me was Shay Given.

Saturdays performance, especially after the fine start to the season was majorly disappointing. The Sheffield duo of Nuhui and May created havoc and mayhem in the back line,with their movement, hold up play and finishing. I still personally don’t like to see Whitehead and Leadbitter start at the Riverside. Adomah once again was off the boil on the right. Tomlin was caught too many times in possession. Kike was isolated for long periods.
The only bright spark for me was Adam Reach on the left.

Cup action tomorrow against Preston let’s hope we can get back on the rails and progress into the 3rd round.

I will be hosting Legends lounge at the Riverside on Tuesday, my guest will be John Coddington former Middlesbrough first team coach and his son former reserve keeper Matthew, tickets £99 each includes a 3 course meal, match tickets and a free bar, call 08444991234 to book.

Can Kike Be King?

Leeds United result on Saturday was majorly disappointing.
The well documented disallowed goal decision was farcical and the goal we conceded late on in the game was a poor one. Obviously the error by the goal keeper was highlighted but it was a combination of mistakes before hand.We allowed Leeds United to pass it along the half way line without pressurising, when the ball got put into our box and eventually fell at the feet of Tonge we were slow at reacting and Mejias the goal keeper will know that he should have parried it around the post or held onto it, unfortunately he did neither.We are back in action tomorrow against Bolton, lets hope we can get back on the rails.

After only a few games people are already tipping Kike to bang in 20 goals in the Championship. Is this a realistic target?
Of course it is every striker should start the season thinking he is going to grab 20 plus goals and with 46 games to play a decent squad around him and two wingers to supply its certainly possible. Of course to succeed he needs a bit of luck and fortune, stay clear of injuries and hopefully he doesn’t lose form.
The downsides are in my opinion he doesn’t have a direct partner to form a partnership with.

Incredibly it’s 25 years since a Middlesbrough player scored 20 league goals, yours truly grabbed them back in 89/90.
During that time we have had a 10 year stint in this division, these are the stats.
1990/91 Slaven 16
1991/92 Slaven 16
1993/94 Wilkinson 15
1994/95 Hendrie15
1997/98 Beck 14
2009/10 Johnson 11
2010/11 McDonald 12
2011/12 Emnes 14
2012/13 McDonald 12
2013/13 Adomah 12

Having a 20 goal striker or strikers, is what every team is looking for, but it doesn’t guarantee promotion. The year I scored the 20 league goals we had to win our last game against Newcastle United and one or two results had to go in our favour to stay up.
When I bagged 16 league goals in the 91/92 season, we gained promotion and my striking partner Paul Wilkinson grabbed 15.
In 1994/95 season when John Hendrie was our top scorer with 15,we gained promotion and in 1997/98, 14 goals by Mikkel Beck was enough goals to get us back into the top flight.
Sharing the goals around is better than giving one player the burden, responsibility and pressure.

So what have I made of Kike?

It’s still early doors but what I have seen has been encouraging. His movement and hold up play have been good, he has a good work ethic, plays on the shoulder of defenders, he is vocal and points the finger at his team mates if they don’t make the right decision.
2 goals in the opening 3 games is a good start from the Spaniard.
His goal against Oldham was what I call a great goal. He received the ball inside left position, he was 16 yards out, lifted his head and guided, steered and curled the ball across the keeper into the far corner, with the inside of his boot. It was accuracy at its finest and sheer composure.
Against Leeds on Saturday, he was a wee bit hesitant and was looking for that extra touch.
But it’s early days he is still adjusting, but the early signs are encouraging.

I’m on CvFm 104.5 between 10-11pm after the Bolton v Middlesbrough game call me on 01642 688104.

On Friday I will be at the Miners Arms, High Street, Eston from 7.30 onwards tickets are £5 profits going to Alzhelmers society.

Also I will be hosting Legends lounge at the Riverside on Saturday, guest will be former Middlesbrough scout Barry Geldart, tickets £99 each includes a 3 course meal, match tickets and a free bar, call 08444991234 to book.

Team and fans shine in the sunshine.

Boros opening game of the season against Birmingham turned out to be a canter, from the off Boro looked head and shoulders above the Brummies. Defensiveley we were never tested, in fact Tomas Mejias Osorio never had one shot to save on a glorious day at The Riverside he could have got his deck chair out, put on the ambre solaire, his shades and laid back and sipped a glass of wine.

Boro  set their stall out they were direct, creative and possessed a good tempo. With a bit more luck and ruthlessness could have scored 4 or 5.

The left side duo of Friend and Reach for me was the highlight of the day. Friend was his usual energetic self, driving forward, creating havoc and having a couple of efforts at goal. Adam Reach showed us what he is all about, kept his shape well, gave the team a nice balance, had good close control, was direct and skilful and whipped in several terrific balls. Personally I am delighted for Reach. I don’t know the lad from Adam if you pardon the pun.

Last season via my Gazette column, website and radio, I was fighting his corner, hopefully this season he stamps his authority and is in the starting 11 on a regular basis.

I was delighted for Kike his movement and hold up play were very good, he had several chances and put 1 of them away. To open your account on the opening day especially for a striker is a dream start. Hopefully there are many more to come.

For me the only thing that didn’t click on the day was the right side. Hines was out of position, failed to give Adomah the service and back up he required. In saying that Adomah looked lethargic and lacking in ideas when he did get the ball.

All in all a terrific opening start, 2 goals, a clean sheet, 3 points on the board and it was great to get over 18,000 fans witnessing it.

I personally thought the fans generated an excellent atmosphere which was led by the drummer.A word of caution, its important not to get carried away, its 1 game and in my opinion we are still 4 players short. No doubt Karanka is aware of this and is working his socks off to get them in. I say it every season, we will have injuries, loss of form, suspensions and when those occur its important to have a beefed up squad with able replacements.

A quick word on my Legends lounge debut as a host. I thoroughly enjoyed it,thanks to my guest Gary Pallister and it was great meeting big John Hickton and several former players. The room was full and there was a good atmosphere. Hopefully they all return for our next home game against Sheffield Wednesday.

If you want to book the Legends lounge its £99 which includes 3 course meal, match ticket and free bar call 0844499 1234

 

You can also listen to me and phone in after every Boro game on CVFM 104.5FM  to phone, call 01642 688104, so listen tomorrow from 10-11pm.

If you have a child aged 5-7 bring them along to Redcar and Cleveland Community Heart between 1-2pm on Sunday 17th August for a free coaching session with myself and ex Boro coach Mark Proctor.

Great to be back.

Over the years there have been a number of former players hosting the hospitality lounges at The Riverside and for whatever reason I had always been over looked, rightly or wrongly.

Some put it down to my strong and forthright opinions, my character, some accused me of being over critical.For years the rumours have been flying around that I had been banned from the Stadium, that was purely fabricated and utter nonsense.

Recently I received a call from the football club asking if I could go in and have a chat with them.
On the way there I was thinking surely they are not going to ask me to play? Im 53 years of age have a bad back and dodgy knees.
Thankfully it was nothing to do with the footballing side. It was an offer to host one of the lounges. I was half expecting to be told you can’t say this and you can’t do that, but I can honestly say all that I was asked was to be myself.

I am honoured, privileged and pleasantly surprised to get the opportunity.
I think that it’s ironic that the Legends Lounge,where I will be present every match day, is where I had my last public appearance and picture with my late great father. I’m sure he will be looking down and smiling at my appointment.

Over the course of the season, I’m hoping to entertain, give opinions on performances and have a bit of fun. I will also have a guest every week. My first guest for the opening game against Birmingham will be former Middlesbrough and Manchester United centre half Gary Pallister.
People have been on the social media saying I will last a week, what’s your money on?

If anyone would like to book a table on match day, ask a direct question or give me some verbal abuse, feel free.

You can buy seasonal places or match by match, which is £99 and includes a 3 course meal, match ticket and a free bar.
Please call 08444991234 to book.

Pre Football Academy

Myself and former Middlesbrough 1st team coach Mark Proctor are going to start coaching 5-7 year olds every Sunday at the brand new football facilities in the Redcar Leisure Centre, starting on Sunday August 3rd between 1-2 pm.
As its the opening day we are putting on a free session.
If you would like to bring your child along for and introduction and a bit of fun please call 01642 771070 or 07476747442.

As we all know early development is essential, it is our goal to help your child on their way.

We both hold UEFA B and Pro Licence qualifications.
We are both DBS checked.
We have clocked up over 1,000 proffessional games, scoring over 270 during our football careers.

We look forward to seeing you all on the day.

UTB.

LEGENDS AIM TO GIVE PARKY A WORLD CUP BOOST

BERNIE Slaven and Mark Proctor aim to give former Boro team-mate Gary Parkinson a World Cup boost when they hold a Riverside Stadium dinner.

Places remain available at The Three Legends World Cup Dinner when Slaven and Proctor will be joined by Newcastle legend Malcolm Macdonald to mark England’s opening World Cup match against Italy on the night of Saturday, June 14.

Taking place in Middlesbrough FC’s Legends Lounge, the event includes a three-course meal, Three Legends question-and-answer session and an auction and raffle to raise funds for the Gary Parkinson Trust.

The former Boro defender needs 24-hour care and is unable to move, speak or swallow since suffering a stroke that left him with Locked-in Sydrome.
With a late bar until the early hours, guests can watch England’s big match against Italy – which has an 11pm kick-off – on a big screen and six smaller screens in the company of the Legends.
During the meal guests can also watch a live screening of the game between England’s group rivals Uruguay and Costa Rica.

Boro legend Slaven, who was part of ex-Boro boss Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland squad at the Italia ’90 World Cup, said: “It promises to be a cracking night, with plenty of debate and banter about club and international football before the screening of England’s big match with Italy.
“If we can give Parky’s fund a good boost then so much the better. As former team-mates of Parky’s, me and Proc feel that it’s the least we can do.
“We’ve got some fantastic items for the auction and the raffle, so we’d simply ask those who attend to be generous.”

Proctor, the former Boro and Sunderland player, is standing in for ex-Black Cat Dickie Ord, who is to undergo a knee operation just days before the dinner.
Newcastle legend Macdonald, who scored five goals for his country against Cyprus in one of his 14 England appearances, added: “Fans can enjoy a great night of food, beer and banter, with plenty to discuss and debate on the club scene as well as the World Cup. Then it’s fingers crossed for England’s big match.”

Tickets for The Three Legends World Cup Dinner are priced £35 each or £330 per table. Please contact events@mfc.co.uk or call the Events team on 01642 757672.

Organised by former Boro media manager Dave Allan of DNA PR & Publicity, the dinner starts at 7.30pm with reception from 7pm. Dress code is casual and football shirts are encouraged (no ripped denim).

Join The Three Legends For World Cup Dinner

THE Three Legends are to reunite at the Riverside for a special dinner to mark England’s opening World Cup match against Italy on the night of Saturday, June 14.
It was recently announced that The Legends radio show had come to an end after a 14-year run, but Bernie Slaven, Malcolm Macdonald and Dickie Ord are back with a special live performance.
Appropriately held in Middlesbrough FC’s Legends Lounge, The Three Legends World Cup Dinner includes a three-course meal, raffle, auction and Three Legends question-and-answer session that Slaven promises will be “full of our usual irreverent straight-talking with lots of banter thrown in too”.
With a late bar until the early hours, guests can then watch England’s big match against Italy – which has an 11pm kick-off UK time – on a big screen and six smaller screens in the company of the Legends.
During the meal guests can also watch a live screening of the game between England’s group rivals Uruguay and Costa Rica.
Boro legend Slaven, who was part of ex-Boro boss Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland squad at the Italia ’90 World Cup, said: “We may now be off-air but the Three Legends live on through our live shows.
“This will be a unique event and a cracking night, culminating in the screening of England’s big match with Italy.
“Ahead of England’s opening fixture – and with seven games having already been played by then – there’ll be plenty to debate and discuss, while the three of us will be happy to dissect all things Boro, Newcastle and Sunderland too.”
Newcastle legend Macdonald, who won 14 England caps and once scored five goals for his country in a 5-0 victory over Cyprus, added: “We’re looking forward to a night of great football banter with a World Cup theme. The late bar and the big screen make it the perfect way to watch the England match at the end of what promises to be a memorable evening.”
Tickets for The Three Legends World Cup Dinner are priced £35 each or £330 per table by sending a cheque to Three Legends World Cup Dinner, c/o DNA PR & Publicity, Boho 4 Gibson House, Cleveland Street, Middlesbrough, TS2 1AE. For further details call 07711 025009.
Organised by Dave Allan of DNA PR & Publicity, the dinner starts at 7.30pm with reception from 7pm. Dress code is casual and football shirts are encouraged (no ripped denim).

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