WELL that was a pretty comprehensive kicking. Five goals and it could easily have been more. Boro started a point behind the Baggies but by the end the teams looked leagues apart. They were out-muscled and out-played but more worrying after the second goal lacked any belief that they could claw it back.
After a bright start they ran out of ideas and after leaking a “controversial” opener they lost their shape and concentration and started to go increasingly long, a move that played into the hands of West Brom’s defence and is far from Boro’s strong suit. By the end Boro were in disarray in every area of the pitch and were not playing as a team.
GIven the importance of the game, the burning need to keep the momentum going and the importance of avenging what were two costly defeats last term we were told the players were up for the big test. There was little evidence of that.
Does anyone come out of it with credit? Apart from a brief flurry of individual efforts from Adam Johnson in the second half Boro had nothing to offer at all. Lita and Folan barely had a touch when they came on while Emnes again showed great pace but struggled to deliver the final ball and Aliadiere was back to base metal.
Without Gary O’Neil the midfield looked flat and laboured. After three good games Julio Arca was found wanting as his lack of pace was exposed and Mark Yeates had what could most generously be described as a bad day at the office. He was dashing about like a daft terrier chasing cars, drifted out of position and left Boro wide open down that flank – poor Tony McMahon had a torrid day – and he made a string of woeful passes to concede possession in dangerous areas.
Danny Coyne didn’t have much chance with the opener but followed up a poor kicked clearance for the second goal with a couple of poor punches and never looked comfortable on crosses. That could open the door for the return of Brad Jones.
And poor Sean St Ledger. What a home debut for a defender. His first real touch was to make a mess of a high ball to Bednar although to his credit he chased back and tidied up and won generous applause. He played some neat balls under pressure, put in a couple of good blocks and was sound positionally but it wasn’t a great game to judge on.
I don’t fancy being Eric and picking a three, two, one. It was a no star performance and a major psychological blow plus a very disappointing crowd. Given the stakes and the recent form plus the buzz around the town from the Wednesday it should have been one that dragged the pick and choosers out in their masses.
But, that said, it was only one game – against a very good side – and there are plenty more to go. Boro can – must – bounce back at Coventry to get the ball rolling again. If they don’t the renewed low levelling muttering will burst into the foreground again.