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On Your Bike With Neil Warnock

Boro take on free scoring Brentford this weekend at their brand new Community Stadium. Tackling the play off runners up will be no easy mission but Neil Warnock and his Boro team seem to be really champing at the bit at the prospect. Boro fans can pay £10 to watch the game. Saturday 3pm kick off.
Boro take on Brentford for who £10m goalscorer Ivan Toney has scored more goals than the whole of the Boro put together. Thereby hangs a tale and something I put to the Boro boss at the pre-match Zoom press conference this morning:
Fly: Tremendous performance at Blackburn a team with a real attacking threat but I think we had something like 19 free kicks and numerous corners are converting set-pieces something you are targeting?
Well, we have got to score more goals from all areas and set-pieces are a big thing. Unfortunately we haven’t really got one like I had in Sean Morrison at Cardiff. If he was playing with Paddy McNair I think he would get double figures. We haven’t got one like that so we have to work harder to get the space to get an opportunity to score goals and that is what we have been doing this week in particular.
The Community Stadium is only a hefty Steve Vickers clearance away from charming old Griffin Park. But whereas the terraces and stanchions of the old ground was in amongst terraced streets and famed corner pubs the new ground is hemmed into a triangle between a rail line and the Thames. But there are still plenty of watering holes all around it. Just a shame no fans have been able to get acquainted with their new home as yet.
So, it is bound to be a tough task and if we can take a point or three then apart from George Saville and Paddy McNair the rest of the Boro squad will get a well earned rest after such a hectic programme. I wanted to ask the manager about his own plans.
Fly: After this game some of the squad at least get the chance some recuperation which must be very important with a small squad. People have asked me to ask you about yourself and your COVID episode how are you doing? And will you be able to take some rest time?
Yes, I was going to go to Cornwall for the week because my daughter is down there as well, nearby. But I am told I can’t really go to Cornwall with the government guidelines so I am staying put in sunny Darlington. So, your guess is as good as mine if I am going to enjoy it.
Fly: You will.
I might have to get on my bike again and get a bit of warm clothing on. Get on my bike and do a little bit of cycling because it is really nice around here, isn’t it?
Fly: Yes, absolutely.
Northern Echo:
Go fishing.
NW: I know, I thought about that but that is cold. It is cold.
Come On Boro and Up The Boro

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Can Boro Make It a Horror Show for the Tricky Trees?

Nottingham Forest are the next visitors to the sadly empty Riverside tomorrow. Can Boro keep the performances and results flowing and adding up the points on the board? We haven’t lost since the season opener v Watford and would be wonderful to finish October with another win. A treat for Boro and a halloween horror for the Tricky Trees.

Big spending Forest have revived under experienced old hand Chris Hughton. A good safe pair of hands, with a record akin to Neil Warnock at this level, Hughton he has already steadied the rocking ship by turning losses into draws. But we don’t want him getting any ideas of moving on up with the draws into a win. Boro aim to build on their 2-0 victory over Coventry and finishing the month with a flourish.

I asked Neil Warnock a couple of questions at this morning’s ZOOM press conference to test the waters about the atmosphere in the camp and gain any glimmers of his current approach.

Fly: I wanted to ask you about the togetherness in the team, we saw the huddle after Bristol City with the players and staff and then the players huddle before Coventry. Looking at the last game and

Tavernier’s last ditch tackle – it seems they are really playing for each other.

NW: I think epitomises really. I mean Tav getting back in there and not being favourite for that one really. Everybody talks about the goals but I think Tav’s tackle really won us the game the other night. And that is what we want, we want everybody to muck in really and it shows you he can do that. Tav has created at one end and he is helping out at the other.

I don’t think it is just Tav. In today’s game, I watched Harry Cane last week scoring goals and then clearing one off the line at the other end. You’ve got to do it. That’s what team players are for. That’s why he is the captain and that’s why Tav is in the team at the minute because you know what you are getting.

Fly: A lot of fans have been talking about the partnership between Howson and Morsy in midfield, giving us that platform and then driving us forward. Have you been very pleased with the way they have combined?

NW: I have yes and I think it has given Saville a little bit more freedom to get in the box, which I think he can do. I think Sam is a little bit underrated. When you look at Jonny Howson you think wow, what a player, passer and all this, that and the other. With Sam he goes under the radar a little bit. Same for me, I didn’t realise it was Sam’s ball for the goal, a wonderful ball for Assombalonga’s goal. I just thought it was Jonny Howson because that is the kind of thing I expect. I think that just shows you really how because he is underrated he just goes under the radar. But he is manager’s dream really, he is going to get 8 out of 10 every week.

Fly: We have such a small squad and we are playing lots of games in close proximity but also with the very limited close season is this going to mean lots of managers being very careful in managing players and their time on the pitch as you are doing with Patrick Roberts?

NW: I think we are going to have to, yes. I am going to have to use my experience. When I look at the training to see if who is a little bit fatigued, who needs a rest, who doesn’t need to do as much one particular day in training. They will never say never, they will never say can I come off, gaffer. It has got to me that tells them because they want to do everything, every day. I have to be looking around at who I think can do with a rest even it is pulling somebody off to have a chat with them because really I have pulled them off because I don’t want them to train any more. It is that type of management, I think in the next few months anyway.

Fly: When we had Steve McClaren here and we were playing in Europe he talked about the importance of rest days. You talk about the importance of rest as well as training. If a player has a hard game on a Saturday you have talked about him resting on a Monday..

NW: Well, unfortunately the games are thick and fast now and we might well work on tactics on a Monday so we can’t do that. But I think rest is important. I don’t think any manager gives the players more days off and time off than me. I am a big believer in that. Like you say I think it is just as important as training at times. I don’t think we have ever had a period in a season like this before, in my time, anyhow. I don’t think any of us know or realise yet what is going to happen in the next few months because the number of games there has got to be a large influx of injuries I think. I am just crossing my fingers that we don’t sustain them.

OK here’s hoping we can finish October with another win and give Forest a horrific Halloween horror show.

Come On Boro and Up The Boro

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Warnock Pre Coventry at home

Boro take on Coventry City tonight at an empty Riverside. Can we kick on and get a positive result? I asked Neil Warnock a few questions in the pre-game press conference yesterday. The answers are below. Kick off 7.45pm. Available through for season card holders and on the SKY red button.

In the light of fmttm message board posters sponsoring midfielder Lewis Wing I wondered what the immediate future holds for Lewis and others such as Hayden Coulson currently not in the first team plans.

I asked.

Fly: Will there be opportunities for players on the fringes? Some of my message board members have sponsored Lewis Wing. Does he and others still have chances to make the team? You haven’t got that many players in the squad of course.

NW: No I haven’t Robert. But unfortunately tell your message board that I can’t really pick him because they have sponsored him (sound of laughter from Boro end of line – from Neil Warnock and media team).

He is training well and I am trying to look at the whole squad. We will need everybody.

Fly: I guess it is the sort of situation where someone could come on as a sub and score or make an impact and a door might open?

NW: Or in training, Robert. One or two lads have changed my mind on team selection by the way they have trained. I had a chat with Bola pre-season. He couldn’t get in Blackpool’s squad last year. I had a long chat with him, I told him I had offered good money for him but obviously Middlesbrough went a lot higher than offered but he knows that I rated him and we’ve coached him on both sides of the defensive and attacking and he’s listened and he’s changed our mind and got in the team and I think Marvin Johnson did that last year for me. Djed (Spence) is capable of anything in his own mind that is down to Djed really. I think there is a lot more to come from him and people like that. So, we just have to keep going.

Fly: Contrary to reports back from Cardiff I thought for two games in a row teams have just hit the ball forward to test us in the air in our box.

NW: You can’t say that though, journalists don’t say do they. The last couple of minutes at Bristol was like the second half of Cardiff, wasn’t it? Everything was knocked long to the strikers and second balls.. unless it is me doing it, nobody mentions it. We say heyho and get on with it.

Fly: But it should be a very different game against Coventry, shouldn’t it?

NW: And Forest, they play some good football. So two entirely different games. Giving us different problems they are and we have got to be on top of our game.

Fly: This has been a big test for Dael Fry as the senior centre half against the aerial bombardment. And he has done so well, hasn’t he?

NW: I won’t go into details but we have helped him. But certain things that we do, where we defend free kicks and corners etc. I think the whole team are happier as we are. And if it hadn’t have been a block on Saturday I think we would have come out with all the points.

We are all trying to improve, on the staff as well as the players. And I think we are doing so far this season.

Let’s hope we improve to collect 3 points this evening and push on up the table.

Up The Boro

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Bristol City Next Up

Out of the frying pan and into the fire for Boro. Having stopped 100% Reading in their tracks with a 0-0 draw at the Riverside, Neil Warnock’s team must take the long road south west to try and tame league leaders Bristol City and possibly prevent them continuing their unbeaten start.
It is a tough run of fixtures for Boro but if we could bring back some spoils from Ashton Gate it would represent a major boost. Especially after we failed to add any forwards to the team picture before transfer window deadline last week. Whether we will be able to even afford to invest in a free agent is a new question. But with Ashley Fletcher facing a long time on the sidelines can we afford not to?

Bristol City were pinned back late doors to a 2-2 draw at Barnsley at the weekend. Hopefully this has planted a seed of doubt in their minds that we can exploit. If we can get back to the amazing away form that saved our Championship hides in lockdown then we could give the Robins a real test.
Kick off tomorrow at Ashton Gate will be 7.45pm. The match is free on the red button or through