THEY jinx its all over… it is now!
With perfect timing Boro shattered their long standing Hillsborough hoodoo to take the heat off Aitor Karaka and shore up sagging morale.
Adam Reach netted in a one sided first half that Boro bossed then after a brief Owls revival and deflected equaliser Aitor Karanka made some decisive substitutions and in a final flourish Diego Fabbrini and Cristhian Stuani wrapped up a 3-1 win.
Given the mood around the club – even the boss was prompted to issue a “don’t panic” message in the build up – Wednesday was the last place most Boro fans wanted to go.
Stunned Boro stars can barely believe they have won at Wednesday
Hillsborough is scattered with the debris of broken dreams for us. We never get the lickings of a dog there. Everyone knows that. Even Woody. Boro have lost six of the last seven at the imposing old ground – the win in that run was the night Adam Johnson ran rings around them and Sean St Ledger came on for his debut in a 3-1 victory at the start of what was shaping up to be a promotion season under Gareth Southgate.
Before that you have to go way back almost 20 years to a 1-0 Premier League win in October 1995 to find any EIOing, and that was thanks to a late Craig Hignett penalty.
As well as that it haunts Boro supporters thanks to two painful relegations being sealed there, one with Carlton Palmer stood pointing over a badly injured Jamie Pollock accusing him of feigning.
And then there was the heartbreak of Steve Claridge scoring in the League Cup final replay against Leicester. That still stings a bit.
In fact the first trip to Hillsborough was a 6-1 defeat in the FA Cup in 1895 so it fair to say it has never been a happy hunting ground. As far as Boro are concerned the Indian sign is so powerful the ground may as well have been build on an old native American sacred burial ground.
So who you gonna call? Jinx-busters. Never was there a better time to smash a traditional “typical Boro” hoodoo. Some sections of supporters have started sniping. At new players; at old players; at selection, tactics and substitutions; ultimately at the manager. Things don’t feel healthy. So the win was important politically as much as mathematically.
Fittingly some of the goals came from players who had been hammered between the groaning when the team-sheet came out. Much maligned Adam Reach had a lively first half and got the opener (although admittedly after missing a sitter); Stuani (who”should never be played on the right” apparently) netted; and David Nugent (seen in some quarters as a disappointing signing and transformed the game and claimed two assists in a cultured cameo. Job done.
That’s not right: Cristhian Stuani gets a third goal in a week from the flank
It was a timely and important result that hopefully will change the doom-laden dynamics inside the super-heated Boro bubble.
Boro went into the game under mounting pressure and in desperate need of a result and a performance to shore up seeping spirit. They kicked off with only four league games gone but the mood music has shifted from upbeat August anthem to an ominous funereal dirge coloured more by off the pitch bum notes than results.
One defeat in six was far from a disaster as new players bed in and are instilled with Aitor’s ideology but the bar has been raised by summer spending so there is less room for error while the manager – “the best signing of the summer” a month ago – has invited terrace pressure on himself by putting his ruthless man-management in the public eye.
So, now was a really good time for a sequence shattering result at Hillsborough. Hopefully it will relieve some tension and make the early season stats look far brighter – Boro are two points better off now than this point last year when we had already lost three leagues games. Now Boro can go into the last few days of the transfer window and into the international break in a brighter mood.
Defeat – even if is is historically ordained and was pencilled in by most the day the fixtures came out – would have been a nightmare and sparked two weeks of toxic squabbling and battle lines would be drawn up.