“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…. ”
That’s the edited highlights of the Gareth Southgate post-match press conference after Boro were taken apart by Chelsea. He said much the same to the cameras. To be fair, there is not much you can add other than say the squad is so thin that it left very few options, tactically or in selections… but we knew that at the start of the season and it was always going to come home to roost at some point.
We started with a young lad drafted in to play out of position at right-back because injuries and suspensions meant our first choice emergency cover there – jet-lag Wheater – was needed elsewhere… then a teenager had to come in to make his debut in that debacle to cover there later on.
We had Johnson starting on the right when we have been told for weeks that Aliadiere and Downing were almost unrivalled as wingers in the league, with the Frenchman moved alongside Mido and the ÃÂ£12.7m record buy sat morosely on the bench, alongside Digard, probably the only midfield spark. Should it have been a five across the middle? And whatever the shape shouldn’t Boro have got in their faces?
The game was lost in the first five minutes but there seemed little will or ability to even manage a damage limitation operation. It puts wobbling Boro in a vulnerable position with the home form disintegrating, the flowing football and flurries of chances a fast fading memory and some hard games coming up. How big a result does the smash and grab and Wigan feel now?