BORO’S Brazilian out-shone Robinho as he nailed his place in the history books. Afonso Alves – a comparative cut-price signing at just ÃÂ£12.7m – took charge in a moment of collective hesitation over the penalty and shrugged off the claims of regular taker Stewart Downing and eager beaver Tuncay to grab the ball and stroke home a delightful spot-kick. It was Boro’s 6,000th league goal.
LET the hysteria begin. Juninho has fluttered his eye-lashes, offered a sentimental step-over for old times sake and said he wants to come home and an army of usually emotionally armour-plated macho former steelworkers and dockers have gone wobbly-kneed in mushy anticipation of a tear-jerking reunion.
Cynics may suggest that it is just an unemployed ex-player looking for one last pay-day, that millionaire mercenaries have no feeling for the club and that had he cared that much for Boro he could have returned of his own volition at any stage over the last few years during one of his injuries to take the plaudits or even just to draw the half-time raffle – but they should be wary of doing so. With Juninho the normal rules do not apply. The Little Fella is beyond criticism and can not be judged by any of the normal jaundiced criteria.
“HUMILIATED…. humbled…. like rabbits in the headlights…. we lacked belief… never really got at them… everything that could go wrong did go wrong… our weaknesses exposed live on national television… an horrendous day… their class exposed us…. we were poor and there are no excuses… we weren’t in the same league as them today… they have injuries but so did we only the people they can bring in and the people we can there is no comparison… it’s a young team and it showed because they couldn’t do anything to change what was happening on the pitch… a massive gulf in class… we were poor, we know that…. ”
BOSS Gareth Southgate has rightly had a pop at England for whisking David Wheater off from England Under-21 action Villa Park to bundle him on pointless night flight to Minsk – just to watch the seniors play Belarus live.
With an already patched up back line Boro need the strongest defence possible against Chelsea – yet the key man in that unit was sent scurrying across the continent on the milk train to get a taste of the senior set-up when he should have been recharging his batteries at home. If he needed to rub shoulders with the big boys why couldn’t he have done that before the game against Borat’s boys? Had he been needed on the bench there may have been a case. But just to rack up his air miles? Crazy.
AS A nation we are hitting the boos big style. Booooo. Feral trackie-bottomed bile on Jeremy Kyle; Boooooo. Co-ordinated jeering by the militant saddos gathered outside the Big Brother House with ‘look at me’ placards; Booooo. Hand-picked idiots eagerly barracking to order on the X-Factor as pantomime villain Simon Cowell tells another tone deaf wannabe to stick to karaoke. It is becoming second nature.
Booing was once a very un-English thing, heard only in the most extreme cases of moral outrage when the traditional strait jacket of reserve was cast aside and collective public disapproval was demanded. Now it seems to be the default setting. It is the soundtrack to our cultural decline. So why commentators are surprised that Ashley Cole got a Wembley roasting is beyond me.
TEESSIDE steel! That was the key as industrious Boro forged a first away win of the year and a first clean sheet this term. It was far from pretty but after weeks of aesthetically pleasing but frustratingly fruitless football – and relentlessly mounting political pressure – even the hardline purists were ready for a bit of rough.