Hull Of A Mess At The Back

THAT WAS CRAZY! A failure to kill the game and a string of ridiculous defensive errors almost cost Boro dear. Three nil up and cruising then suddenly the team came all over Norwich away and they were left hanging on nervously in stoppage time.
Sloppy at the back. No sense of urgency. A failure to clear the danger in the box. Dawdling over the ball in the area. No-one picking up runs down the flank. Stupid free-kicks conceded in dangerous positions. Men over in the box. Balls played across the face of goal… it was a masterclass in how not to defend – and if Boro do that against Bolton they will get hammered.


A lot of those problems were there in the first half but went unpunished but at 3-0 up maybe Hull decided they had nothing to lose and Boro thought they were home and dry and suddenly the dynamic’s of the game shifted. Hull gave it a good go and all credit to them. In the first half they did not have a shot but in the second they had a dozen. They could have got something quite easily and it would have been hard to say they didn’t deserve it. Schwarzer made a great save from a free-kick to deny defender Andy Dawson a hat-trick and new Korean signing Young Lee Catt came sliding in to block from Ryan France at the death.
But despite the chaos and jittery finish it was very entertaining. Under Steve McClaren the game would have finished 1-0 (Christie, 79) and we would be moaned about it being tedious then the boss would have annoyed the diehard 8,122 by saying the lads were “magnificent” and the supporters who booed the team off at half-time then left early “needed educating”. It is progress of sorts. It keeps the unbeaten run going and the team have netted ten goals in three games so it is a kind of new golden age. Some observations:
HINES MEANZ GOALZ: That was our suggested headline after the debut strike by Seb Hines, 18. The goal may have been a bit spawny – it took a nice deflection off a defenders calf as he skipped through – but the one-two to get to the edge of the box was neat and it was a sweet finish for the Wetherby lad, the 16th academy graduate in three years to make the first team.
Boro spin doctor Dave Allan had predicted before the game that he would score but sadly didn’t put his money where his mouth was. Hines wasn’t even on the coupon for first goalscorer but I reckon you would have got 66-1 for the football fairytale.
DOWNING IN THE MOUTH? I have been a big fan and ardent defender of Stewy even during the past few weeks when he has been a bit flat because he has long been Boro’s most – and sometimes only – creative outlet an prolific assist king but tonight was a poor show. Repeatedly crosses were being blocked by the first man or flying high and wide, free-kicks were wasted and there was a lack of zest and invention. Possession was conceded cheaply. His body language wasn’t convincing. There was some frustrated sniping at other players.
His night was summed up in the first half just outside the box on the left when in an advanced display of Premiership fancydannery he twisted and turned and did a few stepovers in front of a Hull defender who left him to it for a while then got bored and poked the ball through his legs, a bit like the Christiano Ronaldo stickman flash cartoon that has been whizzing around the internet for a few years. The Hull man skipped off leaving Stewy to chase him furiously and lunge at him in frustration from behind and although only a throw was given it could quite easily have been a booking. There were a few of those incidents in the game.
HULL 4 BORO 0: The away fans were magnificent and made me yearn for the days when we were the underdogs, travelling more in hope than expectation and enjoying every minute. “Where’s the singing section?”, asked Eric loooking towards the North Stand. “It’s over there,” I told him, pointing towards the away end. They were loud, they were passionate, they kept it up for the full 90 minutes. They had some good songs, hijacked the occasional rare Boro chants and threw them straight back louder and prouder. Even at 3-0 down they were singing Pigbag and taunting Boro. “It’s like a library.” “Don’t even sing when you’re winning.” They will have gone home buzzing about it being the greatest game ever.
At the Notts County game the Twe12th Man inspired singing section worked; it was novel and audible and well prepared and set the pace throughout the match. But against Hull it was swamped. The away fans in any game are a far more cohesive unit and are pumped up by the trip and when they travel in numbers they almost always out-do the home crowd. To be fair it was “their cup final” (patronise, patronise) but that should spur a response.
SPOT ON: The Yak is racing ahead in the goalscorer stake – but how many have been penalties? And how cool is it when he casually dinks it like that with the keeper going the wrong way? And do you remember when paranoid Boro fans were set to picket the FA because we had gone 44 games without one? Now we get one every week. Keep them coming… especially the iffy ones. If we defend like that then we need all the help we can get.
Boro’s penalty probably wasn’t as Stewy was trying to get out of the way more than anything. But Rob Styles evened it up soon after because the Hull penalty probably wasn’t either. Both of them landed in thebox but Xavier – who had been hopeless out-paced – made contact with his despairing lunge on or just outside the line. No pen… but on another day it could easily have been a red card. Xavier had a mare – out of position, miscontrolling, missed tackles – and his failure to clear the ball from the six yard box led to another goal.

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27 thoughts on “Hull Of A Mess At The Back

  1. AV – Do you think that Downing is off his game because of all the transfer speculation?
    AV writes: No, I don’t think so. It has never really bothered him before. I think he is having a little dip in form and a maybe a dip in confidence after being monstered in the press over England.
    I think his dip is more obvious because he has been the most creative force for so long and because it is brought to people’s attention so forcibly by the boo-boys who give local lads no leeway at all.

  2. Vic
    As other posters will know I took issue with them over saying that our defence was sound. I know we had a couple of changes yesterday but these are problems that were evident at Charlton on Saturday and have been previously.
    On Saturday we got away with it because Charlton were so poor. So what’s it about?
    I said that on Saturday, Woody looked detached and diffident – almost as though being there, dealing with Charlton sans Bent, D. was beneath him (and it probably was). I was surprised to see Woody on the teamsheet last night with Bolton coming up, maybe he was too.
    Some of that attitude seeps into other defenders of much poorer quality than Woody. That leads to lack of concentration and mistakes.
    Speaking of lack of quality brings us to the Peroxide Portugueezer. The more he plays the more he looks like what he is – an over the hill and not startlingly good full back. Because he has an inflated opinion of his own ability his antics almost dumped us in trouble a few times against Charlton and last night he was at fault for at least 2 of the goals.
    Most notably where he got done for pace against a denizen of the lower reaches of the Championship and then cleverly waited until he had got into our box before suicidally giving away another pen.
    I’m sorry to say this because I can’t fault him for effort, application and grit but Dava isn’t a Prem quality defender. He hasn’t the physique for a central defender in the modern game and lacks the pace to be a full back. Seb Hines – in true The Ex tradition was played out of position.
    In these circs poor defending is pretty well assured.
    Against Bolton, I guess we’ll have Pogo and Tayls back and Woody may well feel they’re enough of a challenge to be on his mettle.
    Returning to lack of concentration and lack of quality – let’s move on to the centre of our midfield. With The Boat or without this season this has been our major Achilles heel. Whoever is there provides precious little cover to our defence so anyone running at them gets a clear passage to the back four.
    But neither are they providing enough forward passing service to our wide midfield or to the strikers.
    The Boat’s form has been patchy this season, to say the least. Catts is The Boat mark 2 and has been very, very good and the opposite – which is exactly what you would expect from a lad his age. He shouldn’t be expected to shoulder the burden week to week. Both are being expected to do too much. They are both trying to do the Makelele role and the Lampard one. That would be beyond either of those 2 players let alone our two.
    Arca is not of Prem quality either as a full back or in midfield. In midfield he is slow, passes only sideways or back, often very riskily, dilly-dallys on the ball and is often dispossessed, won’t chase back and loves that manoeuvre beloved of players of South American extraction who think they are better than they are – the pirouette when he receives the ball. They think it looks classy but all it does is slow up the play – may be fine in Serie A or La Liga but not in the Prem.
    We can trace this right back to the first game of this season when we were 2 up at Reading and Arca and his partner in crime Rocky (not the answer either and can’t play at present ‘cos his heads not straight!?) started tippy-tappy between them and started the rot that got us beaten.
    Unlike the defence there are no better alternatives to come back for Bolton. That’s why we have to strengthen in the window.
    So we’ve got a defence that can be flaky, exposed by a soft centre and sometimes kamikaze midfield.
    Then there’s up front. The Yak and Veruka are as good a pair of strikers as any in the Prem but defend from the front, close down, harry defenders and the goalie? Yer ‘avin a larf.
    But what they give us is worth the downside so we have to account for their shortcomings in midfield.
    Lastly, the coaching and team play. We can produce a team that can either defend dourly or attack all out and lose all concentration on defence and leave us vulnerable at the back. Simply, we have to do both. Surely 2 ideas isn’t beyond out manager, coaches and players? And with Coops, Harry and Gate as our coaches you wouldn’t think we’d lack for how to organise a defence or defensive midfield.
    Then there is how they motivate the team and get them to apply themselves against teams who they regard as inferior (wrongly). Too often that’s tripped us up and it almost did last night when we took our foot off the gas. Once you’ve done that it is very difficult to get it back on again.
    We have improved, we are now scoring, we have won a few and in the cup winning is everything but all the above – on display again last night – is why I still think that our revival is fragile and why I’m still less than sure that we are going to survive this season in the Prem.
    Bolton on Saturday will be a big test and it will be instructive to see how we deal with it.

  3. Yet again our team nearly collapsed and our defence got showed up.
    Anthony, got some real stuff for you to look into and report on. In the guardian they are claiming boro will pay 3M will to an agent for signing yakubu. I thought Gibson said we dont pay fees to agents anymore. Might be a good story to have on the back page.
    **AV writes: We are aware of that. I think the story is more complex than it seems. The £3m is based on various performance related escalators and on Yak staying the full five years. It is very high payment but a normal one – as far as anything relating to football finances can be normal.
    But yes it is very interesting, not least that he was ‘the only agent involved’ in a complex deal that involved three clubs. It is also interesting that the club comment distances Steve Gibson from the mechanics of the deal.

  4. John when I read your posting for a moment I thought I must be a Watford supporter! That said I agree with the comments re the midfield. Its the weak part of the team no question.
    I stick by my assertion that the defence is good, the facts do not lie. Boro’s defensive record is the ninth best in the league and if you took the most recent ten games is even better. The defence isn’t perfect but then we aren’t Liverpool.
    I agree with you re Mr.Xavier he’s another has been who should be on the plane to America.
    GS is currently moving from a defensive to attacking style of play, it will take time to bed in and in the meantime there will be times when the defence will be exposed.
    As for Stewie, he’s had a tough season, a lot has been expected from him in the early part of the season when the team was performing badly, also as AV points out being used as an England scapegoat must take its toll.
    Also he trained and played over the Summer with England so like a lot of world cup players that has probably caught up with him a little. As the saying goes form is temporary class is permanent. He’ll be back to his best soon enough I’m sure.

  5. I was out and about last night for the first half – wife and lost her car keys – but got back for the second half on the internet. Knew we were one up and celebrated the 3-0 scoreline.
    Brilliant, a strong team putting away a lower league side. Confidence building ready for Bolton. Time for a beer, off to the fridge, 3-2? No, 4-2!!!! 4-3!!!!!!!
    I didnt think it was possible to listen to Ali and Bernie with hands covering your eyes but I managed it.
    As JP says the recovery is fragile, we still cant manage 90 mins of action and are still suspect in centre midfield and the back though I think the latter is affected by the former.
    There must be an element of job done afterwards but Bolton will be a different matter. Big Sam’s team will come here and be up for the game. I expect a back four of PP/Dava, Pogo, Woodie, Taylor.
    The worry is the prospect of the way Bolton play with diagonal balls out to Mr Elbows on the right wing being marked by young Taylor and Anelka running the channels on left side against not the paciest full backs in the world.
    It could be an occasion to play 3-5-2 but that would be a risk given that Bolton tend to play three up front.
    I share Johns concerns about PP, his career has been littered by brainstorms on the pitch. Must be the bleach.
    As for Downing, he is as entitled to have a bad spell as anyone else. If nothing else people tend to double mark him which frees up space. Those of us longer in the tooth will remember Giggs in the similar stage of his career where the safest place to be when he crossed was the six yard box. There was more chance of row Z getting on the end of a cross.
    Those Stewiephobes, please dont post saying Downing is not a Giggs, I am talking about the fact players go through these spells.

  6. I think a rule should be introduced that football clubs can not pay anything to agents and only the player can pay the agent out of his own money.
    ALso tighten up the rules on when the agent can get involved. ie only when the club accept an offer or when the club accept a his transfer request or when the club are ready to open negotiations over a new contract.
    How many season tickets would 3M get you?

  7. Nigel
    Is that the Watford who beat us 2-0 in their only win?
    Ian and I were at that game and there’s been an improvement but not enough.

  8. we have had an easy run of fixtures recently. so lets wait until end of march to see how we really perform. wins against charlton(twice) sheff utd (poor team away) and hull (near bottom of championship) , we havent turned the corner yet. we have some tough away games.
    I read about the £3m the agent is getting from boro. Add that to the £15m massimo cost overall,ugo wages,mendietas wages,rockembach fee and wages,parlour wages and you wont get much change out of £30million. £30million down the drain.

  9. Nigel
    Even if our first choice defence were playing unless the centre of midfield is secure then they are vulnerable.
    The last thing you want to happen is for attackers to be one on one with a defender on a regular basis. If the defenders arent pacey they are in real trouble.
    John talked about the Reading game, they werent getting a kick until Rocky and Arca started the fancy dan stuff, eg sideways pass whilst looking the other way, passing into space – sadly behind Downing, trying to beat men just for the sake of it. Boat was his usual self.
    John and I just shook our heads and sure enough their attackers were all over our back four like a rash and the game just got away from us.
    Saturday will show the true extent of our progress. We know we have better players than Charlton, Sheffu etc. Have we got players who can battle with Bolton?

  10. When Boro are about to play a team at the bottom of the table the pessimists come out in force and tell all that we will lose cos we always lose against the bottom teams.
    If Boro beat the bottom teams the pessimists come out in force and tell all that we have only beaten rubbish teams that anyone can beat.
    Wait until we play a decent side they shout, then if Boro beat a decent team the pessimists come out in force and complain that Boro only try against good sides.
    It is a never ending circle, why not just enjoy the entertainment that we got last night and in the second half at Charlton. I for one would much rather see a game like last night than the dross we have had to put up with over the last few seasons.
    After all we only have to score one more than the opposition to win the game.

  11. Ian, answering your question , the fact that we drew 0-0 at the Reebok suggests we do have the players to battle with Bolton.
    Never Happy, I’n all for enjoying the moment too.
    AV writes….? (re Never Happy)
    **AV writes: I was going to point to the irony that while called Never Happy he is actually usually pretty much an optimist in the wider scheme of things.

  12. Nigel,
    Too true but I think we played essentially a holding team that day, may be trickier if we set out 4-4-2 and being more progressive at home.
    Since then we have seen mixed performances though things are improving to the point affairs are well and truly in our own hands. With Boat missing it is always difficult to know what we will do.
    I would rather us go down trying than going to hold on and hope for the best then simply fold when we go 1-0 down and are unable to raise the tempo.
    I will stick to my view that there will be plenty of ups and downs before the seasons end but that if they put the effort in we should be safe.

  13. AV – Having started supporting the Boro in the boys end at Ayresome Park, what Boro have acheieved since Steve Gibson took the helm has been nothing short of miraculous.
    If I only started supporting the Boro since the Riverside was built my pseudonym would have been Bloody Delerious.
    In my opinion every season we spend in the PL is a good season, and any cup run is a bonus.
    Onwards and Upwards with MFC

  14. A couple of nights that puts our Hull performance into perspective.
    Hull have done well in the Championship in the last few weeks and gave us a fright although it should have been game over at 3-0. They beat Wednesday who were a bit unlucky not to get a result at Citeh. Fulham 3-1 down won 4-3 against Leicester who are in poor form. Spurs beat Cardiff who have imploded. Last but not least Toon lose 5-1 at home against Brum.
    I am not going to gloat because we need the Toon players to give a good performance against the ‘Ammers at the weekend, it is nothing more than the fans, manager and chairman deserve, titter.
    No musnt.
    Smirk.
    Come on man grow up, it is only a football match.
    Guffaw.
    At the end it looked like the south gare in January. I genuinely feel sorry for the true fans. Honest!
    The problem is I know it may come back to haunt me but the sight of Roeder sucking a lemon at the end was a mixture of amusement and feelings we have felt too often.

  15. I see premier league has announced another tv deal for next season which means more money for clubs.
    Its a chance for the clubs to give something back for the fans. If the money doesnt go back into ticket price reductions i feel that it will just go into agents and players back pockets and even more wasted on hiogh trasnfer fees abroad.
    If it doesnt get passed on to the fans i can see attendances falling.

  16. I notice today that fetchemback is refusing to play for boro ever again.Surely this is breaking his contract and grounds to stop his wages?
    He is attempting to force boro into a bad financial deal on him maybe even a free…..i hope they stop paying his wages and hold onto his contract so he cannot go anywhere else….tactics like this should be stamped on!!!!
    **AV writes: I think you mean his dad is saying it.
    If he refused to play cash-strapped Boro could claw some readies back to finance the Lion KIng deal by repeatedly fining him two weeks wages.
    They shouldn’t sack him because then the can walk away on a free… which is presumably what he wants.
    The ill-fated deal is another indictment of the scouting system.

  17. AV if Rockie can get himself the move that he wants because his Dad says so does that mean if I get my Dad to ring my boss I’ll get a pay rise?!….maybe not….
    I hope that the new overseas football money is used wisely by keeping ticket prices down and investment in youth development etc but I suspect its a forlorn hope.
    I personally don’t have a problem with sportsmen earming huge wages but for the latest injection of cash to go straight to the players and agents would be a travesty.
    JP I’m sure you’re right there will be a lot of ups and downs between now and May, lets just hope it ends on an up…..
    Despite Boats patchy form of late if he misses the Bolton match that will impact on our ability to get a result. We need his physical presence in that game more than any other. If he’s not there it will be down to Catt to hold it together and that is a lot to ask of such an inexperienced player.

  18. Rochemback’s true colours have finally come out.
    He was always a showboater on the pitch, full of fancy passes with the outside of his foot when a simple pass with the instep would be fine.
    He thought he came to boro to be one of the main men but had his nose taken out of joint by southgate. he was never a team player and played for himself on the pitch and drifted all over the pitch.
    Now the team is winning without him and looking better as a unit, he is now licking his wounds and using his dad to repair his reputation and try to get boro to cave in and let him go on a free to sporting.
    The sooner he leaves the better. if we can get 1 million for him i wil be happy. he is becoming too disruptive

  19. Rochembach was constantly played out of position by MaClaren and has fallen out of favour with Southgate.
    Selling him seems the best option if we can get someone to buy him. However surely loaning him to Lisbon and getting him off the wage bill has to be better then paying him to do nothing.
    Boro need to learn from the Mendi, Parlour, Maccarone and Ugo fiasco’s that have gone on for far to long.
    Is this another example of Keith Lamb’s ineptitude / stubbornness when it comes to dealing with players and their contracts. As others have already said most fans do not want the Viduka contract talks to fail in the same way as Zendens did.
    I know players contracts can be very complicated, however removing a player who is doing nothing from the clubs wage bill when the opportunity arises has to make economic sense.

  20. why is it always lambs fault, doesnt the manager tell him he wants him for anothr few years or the chairman agrees to it?
    \with regards to zenden, we offered him an excellent package he decided to move the then european champions. no money would have changed that.
    Anyway zenden signed a 1 year contract with boro for a reason. so he could pick a club the following summer. nothing boro could do about it.

  21. Never Happy
    I’m with you, mate! I thought the Hull replay was brilliant entertainment and well worth the trouble of my 240 mile round trip. I went home happy.
    As you say, we only have to score 1 more than the opposition – though I have to say that I don’t want to see us defending like that too often. Terrible for the blood pressure.
    Funny, it reminded me of Kevin Keegan’s tactics. Even funnier though, as the Geordies managed to score 4 less than their opposition !!

  22. Dave
    Why is it always Lamb’s fault?
    Well, the same behaviours that have seen us make the same mistakes in the transfer and contract market – as well as much else wrong with the commercial development of the club – have persisted over time.
    Managers have come and gone, so have players, backroom staff etc. The only constants are 2 – Messrs Lamb and Gibson.
    I am quite willing to believe what I hear – that despite his saint-like qualities in other ways, Gibbo is not the easiest person to work for but no-one is arguing that he’s that close to the detail of the deals done.
    So if it’s not Gibbo at fault – who does that leave?

  23. Maybe you should focus your blame at steve gibson as he is the one who hires and fires people like Lamb.
    Maybe steve Gibson thinks mr LAmb is doing an excellent job. I think Gibson is in a better position to judge than people on a blog

  24. Dave
    Maybe I should! And Gibbo is better placed, so maybe I’m questionning his judgement.
    All I judge by are the results that are evident to anyone who has followed the club for any length of time and can apply some analysis, thought and logic.

  25. All this debate about whose fault it is for any transfers that dont work or where there seem to be messy contracts misses one key point.
    We dont know who does what and when from any of the parties involved. The explosion in communication has made a huge difference with people leaking information that may or may not be true, is being floated to check responses. The media are involved to differing extents.
    AV is closer to this than most of us bloggers, there is a possibility that one of us is a plant (ok I’m a cabbage but that is different) putting out information to suit the club or other interested parties.
    All we can do is look at what is in the media and make a judgement.

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