QPR Goal Glut… Typical Boro?

TYPICAL Boro! Squandered a load of chances, rattled the woodwork twice and had two good penalty shouts waved away then got caught cold at the back!
Sorry. Habitual stock kneejerk reaction. But it is a fair point. The historic rampant display at QPR – not only did it break the new broom’s dug-out duck but it was also Boro’s first ever win at Loftus Road – was little different in general complexion from, say, the Preston, Palace or Peterborough games.


Boro weathered an early storm, clawed slowly and surely into the game, they dominated for long spells, they played at a high tempo and pushed high up the pitch, they pulled the opposition defence all over the shop and in a pulsating period of sustained pressure they carved out a string of golden chances.
The key difference this time was that when they were on top they looked hungry, sharp and clinical in front of goal and actually put the ball in the net. Repeatedly. Almost at will.
They played with a swagger and a resurgent belief. And it was fantastic. And maybe more telling, the team showed a mental toughness and a ruthless streak when it really mattered.
Crucially, Boro scored at just the right times: during their first real spell on top after Rangers’ bright start; immediately after the break following the opposition’s chance to reorganise at half-time; and very quickly after QPR pulled one back to kill off instantly any hopes of a revival… or head off any prospect of an all too familiar collapse if you are that way inclined.
What a refreshing change. So often Boro have laboured to get a goal then failed to react when the opposition responded with a more urgent, direct style and retreated meekly to invite pressure and imploded as the inevitable goal came.
This hammering showed exactly what this team is capable of if it plays to its full capabilities and is mentally strong.
They DO create chances. We know that. The need to convert them and turn a narrow lead into an unassailable one has long been the problem. It is what got Boro relegated and what has left us floundering well off the automatic promotion pace this term.
After the disappointment of twice losing the lead at Peterborough loan star double goal getter Dave Kitson declared: “I’m loathe to say it but someone is going to be on the end of a good hiding soon.” And boy, was he right.
Gordon Strachan insisted after the Rangers game that his side had created enough chances since he arrived to win four out of the five games. That sounds a lot more convincing now, after three unbeaten including four points from two games with play-off rivals than it did when a stuttering side had taken two points from 12 and only one from matches against the bottom two.
So where did it all go right? What, apart from score, did Boro do differently?
It is telling that they fielded a team that had a real balance to it, and one that is close to what the gaffer probably regards as his ideal first XI right now.
Emanuel Pogatetz has added solidity and nouse at the back on the left and Rhys Williams in his natural role on the right has brought a touch of calm quality to what has long been a problem position.
Pogatetz neutralised the threat of dangerman Routledge while after a torrid opening 10 minutes Williams got a firm grip of Taarabt to stifle Rangers movement down the flanks.
The central defensive pairing looked stronger than of late with Sean St Ledger’s cavalier attacking tendencies held in check. That solid platform unit was comfortable as Rangers went longer and more direct after their thrust down the flank was blunted.
In the engine room the simple, unfussy short quick passing and constant availability of Isaiah Osbourne has helped Boro retain possession, especially when the opposition up the tempo, and he has quickly developed an understanding with the more creative and dynamic Gary O’Neil.
Between them they closed down quickly, snapped into tackles and stifled movement through the middle pushing Rangers ever deeper and forcing them to bypass the problem by hoofing it long.
Down the flanks Boro were quick and creative. Mark Yeates had probably his best game for Boro as he stepped into Adam Johnson’s role on the left to run at the full-back, get crosses in and drift inside to unleash some fierce shots.
On the other side Julio Arca has taken in the unaccustomed role of right wing with some zest. Despite his lack of pace he has rarely been exposed, he gets back to defend, slots into the middle to cover when O’Neil goes forward and shows creative instinct when he joins the attack.
But the big difference is up front where Kitson has transformed the team. The ball sticks to him. He makes it. He works hard to be available and to make sure he wins it.
And he does it in the box or drops deep to the halfway line making it very hard to mark him. That means he is always available as an out ball for the midfield and he can hold it up and bring others into play.
He has scored three in two games himself but has also brought the best out of Leroy Lita who before was trying to play some of the Kitson role himself and doing his best work 30 yards out and with his back to goal.
Now, with someone doing the spadework, he is bursting forward to use his pace, strength and close control in the box. He has had more shots in the past two games than the rest of his games for Boro put together. The pair of them terrified a good QPR side.
That of course presents a problem. When Kitson goes back to Stoke on December 28th the problem up front will re-emerge. Either the Ginga Warrior must be secured or someone equally adept needs to be brought in so the shape can be maintained.
Of course, one swallow doesn’t make a summer. The five goal romp will count for little unless we beat Blackpool, get something from Cardiff and/or Newcastle and go into the second half of the season with a real momentum.
**This column is also available in old fasioned print format in today’s Gazette.

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19 thoughts on “QPR Goal Glut… Typical Boro?

  1. No really, please don’t thank me, I did nothing really. Well I may have had the reverse Samson cut on Thursday night, and was in the Boro on Saturday afternoon prior to the big move this weekend. But could I really be the reason for a stunning 5-1 away victory?
    Just a slight note of caution after West Brom rattled five in at the Riverside they didn’t win again for a while.
    Anyway listening to the highlights on the radio on Saturday night it was great to hear all the other cheers, presumably from the press box. AV was that you, shouting Yeeeeeeeesssss, several seconds before Brownlee launched into his samba esque ‘Gooooooallllllllll’? And as always the travelling fans sounded magnificent well done lads and lasses.
    What a great feeling it was on Saturday night. High fiveing Smog Jnr whilst running around the house. He must have thought ‘what’s this? Dad’s happy on a Saturday night?’
    This is why we support a football team; this is why we love the boro.

  2. That was a fantastic display and win… but it did leave me feeling a little bitter and frustrated about the points (two at Preston, one v Plymouth, three v Palace, two at Peterborough) we chucked in the bin in the preceeding five games. It just means we’ve got it all to do now!
    AV: do you think its a coincidence that we had our best result and best perfomance this season without our “best” player in johnson?
    Football is a funny game and is it the case that we played in a more balanced and rounded way and thus were more effective without johnson in the team? It’s a tough one to judge, but of course would be tough to leave him out with his goals and assists record
    **AV writes: The absence of Jonno was a factor I think. Firstly because it forced Boro to mix-up their approach and theer was far more passing to feet through the middle for Lita to run on to rather than bursts to the byline for the crosses that defenders seem more comfortable dealing with than pace and touch.
    And secondly it would have caught QPR on the hop a bit. They will have spent all week preparing to deal with the Johnson threat and then had to readjust on the hoof when they saw the team.
    It doesn’t mean we don’t need him but it does suggest there is life after him when (or if) he departs in either January or the summer.

  3. Good to hear Kitson has an open mind about his future as his signing could be as good as getting two players. As said earlier Lita is now free to do what he does best score goals and not holding up the game.
    Hope GON is fit any more news on that one.

  4. AV
    As John Powls says it comes down to graft and craft, you dont need ‘Northern’ as such but you do need atleticism in central midfield.
    Arca is best suited to being a nuisance outside their box rather than ours.
    Osbourne appears better alongside O’Neill because as you rightly say, our Duracell Bunny is energetic and dynamic. And his finish from the rebound was as good tecnically as anything you will see.
    Kitson and Lita look good and the defence sound.
    But, all that has to be transferred to the Riverside against teams that are not as attack minded as QPR. Roll on Blackpool.

  5. So, Dave Kitson now has an open mind about his future. Sounds like an open invitation to me. Let’s see how the club reacts?
    Note to DK, Silver crucifix’s and garlic are essential when negotiating!

  6. Reading some of last weeks posts I was thinking how we would do without St Ledger, who leaves soon, but also about a comment GS2 made sometime ago about not relying on Johnson so much, which I thought the team did.
    So it was refreshing to see a Jinky-less Boro do so well. As you say AV it augers reasonably well for the future should the boy leave.
    But this is only one game against four disappointing results, and we’ve been here before ‘after the lord mayors show’ so I’m not getting too upbeat yet. But it’s nice to see us back in the top 6, with a home game to come (we’ve been her before too I might add).
    As GS2 said at the weekend “Our target has been to get into the top six and if you can do that, you can then see if you can catch the big boys.” Sort of brings home the truth really, but maybe that’s been some of the problem, we think we’re bigger than we really are, and maybe some of the players have been thinking that too.

  7. I suppose the added bonus of the emphatic win without Jonno may make it more likely that Boro ‘cash in’ in January.
    That said despite the convincing win, one result doesn’t prove too much. At least it gives us a feel good factor for a while. Lets hope we nail down another win tomorrow although five goals again may be asking for a little too much!

  8. News update: info from mfc.co.uk
    On loan striker Marcus Bent missed the trip to QPR after tweaking his hamstring in training on Friday. (Not that I was bothered)
    Meanwhile, striker Caleb Folan has been allowed to return to parent club Hull City after making just one substitute appearance during a three-month loan spell.
    The loan was due to end in the middle of the month but the Republic of Ireland international, who suffered a groin tear in training at the start of October, is now back at the KC Stadium.
    (Why has this taken so long?! As soon as the club knew the extent of the injury he should have gone back)

  9. It seems BORO have denied any fresh talks with Adam Johnston, the offer that has been on the table for months remains the same,Caleb Folan has gone back to Hull and BORO have withdrawn the half season ticket money back offer.
    Great away win against an inform side, lets hope we can carry the confidence forward to the riverside, two hard games coming up which should show if we have turned the corner or just a flash in the pan.

  10. Two posts on the same subject? Oh well, it isn’t often we win 5.1 away .. or 5.1 at all! Maybe our replies to the 1st post should be cut and pasted across to this new one Av…?

  11. So, some of our small-minded fans have had the club’s half-season ticket offer removed.Truly pathetic.
    Ah well, at least when I’m sat next to my empty seats on boxing day v Scuthorpe I’ll be happy in the knowledge that no bugger will pay less than me and be sat next to me. Some of our fans really make me ashamed at times.

  12. And just before it is time to switch off….I agree with the people who have asked why it has taken the club so long to send Folan back.
    Fistly he was clearly not wanted at Hull and was almost pushed out of the door there when a loan to Boro was suggested. Secondly, whatever his actual footballing abilities, he was injured virtually as soon as he arrived at the Boro and would have remained injured until it was (almost) time to go back. The loan period would have been a complete waste of time.
    What would you guess his weekly wages to have been AV? A ballpark figure?
    For the past month or so I would have been more use on a football pitch than him. I thought we were a club with very little spare cash. If our club really thinks it is sensible to pour money down the drain like this, then why not spend it on someone who cares about the club, who will be here next week, next month and the month after that.
    You might as well pick out half a dozen season ticket holders and divide the money between them (it would still be a considerable amount and would be gratefully received). Or add it to the money offered to Adam Johnson.
    Can we please just get the obvious decisions right? He never had a future at the Boro. It was like setting fire to a pile of banknotes to continue to pay him. He should have been on the first bus back to Hull (if his injury prevented him from driving back).
    Now – back to business. We need to win tomorrow to show that 1-5 at QPR was not a fluke, but a genuine change in fortune for the club. It should have given the team some confidence, but Blackpool are no mugs especially going forward.
    IF we beat Blackpool and then Cardiff, then firstly it will give the home fans something to cheer about for a change and might arrest what seemed like an inevitable decline in attendance figures. Secondly, whilst we would still probably remain several points behind the top two, we might at least start to close the gap and build up some momentum.
    One swallow doesn’t make a summer. But if we see a flock of victories, we might feel a little warmer inside and, even though the odds might be against it, we could still get up there. Come on, lads!
    **AV writes: My best guess is that he wasn’t sent back because Hull were paying most, if not all of his wages. As you say, Brown was desperate to get Folan out of the club so I can see that arrangement. For Boro, when he was injured there was no urgent need to ship him out and so they were happy to just suck it and see, let him get fit and leave it to Strachan to decide..
    When asked about Folan Strachan said it was disrepectful to talk about shipping him out while he was injured and treating him like cattle.
    I think what is more significant is that in the past week or so Folan has returned to training and that more importantly Strachan has firmed up his plans for January in terms of who he wants and who he doesn’t , who may be coming in and who is going. Once the gaffer made up his mind the club has acted.

  13. Well done that small minded section of the Boro crowd that have seen off any chance of new fans buying tickets at Christmas and any chance of the club trying any cut-price offers to put bums on seats of the half empty stadium you are always moaning about.
    Two for £20. BOGOFS. Family tickets. KId a quid. Whatever. The club need every penny they can get. The team can onlt benefit from having a good crowd behind them. And we all benefit from a better atmosphere.
    But no, you self righteous whingers have made your message clear to any one thinking about buying a ticket: YOU ARE NOT WANTED!
    And to the club: FORGET GETTING PEOPLE IN THE GROUND UNLESS THEY PAY MORE THAN ME!
    So well done on seeing off the cheap skate glory hunters who might have signed up to see Swansea, Barnsley and Scunthorpe for the same price as you. Next we need to stamp out those free loading pensioners

  14. I’m surprised the club doesnt have a notice on season tickets that. they reserve the right to offer any unsold tickets at prices higher or lower to home or away fans at their discretion,then season ticket holders couldn’t complain when they do.

  15. It’s not like Tees Exile to complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner (dictionary definition of whinge) – although he does sometimes come across as smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others (dictionary definition of self righteous).
    Though I very much doubt that the now withdrawn offer made by the club would have had many queuing up in expection of watching Boro for free for half-a-season.
    Anyway, perhaps some people are giving too much credit to the protesting fans – The offer was clearly withdrawn after Boro won 5-1 at QPR and no doubt the club were seriously worried that they now might be in danger of paying out!

  16. What made Saturday’s victory all the better was that at last Boro looked semi-decent in that kit. All red with white trim….much smarter, much more Boro than all that woofy white.

  17. Tees Exile
    I didnt think the offer was particularly well thought out but it was an effort.
    There will always be problems with incentives or ticketing arrangements, some group will always be disadvantaged.
    What goes around, comes around. I had enough stubs for the Carling Cup final but couldnt get a ticket because of the way the club tried to distribute its allocation. Many season ticket holders gave their stubs to friends who hadnt been to the cup matches but got to Cardiff.
    The tickets for Eindhoven caused resentment amongst long standing season ticket holders with so many getting into the ground without being S and T holders.
    It is possible some of those unlucky long standing holders may have given stubs to their friends for the Carling Cup final.
    The club has moved on with its database so hopefully we can overcome such difficulties but whatever it does it will always upset some fans. At times you almost think they enjoy doing it!
    It is a shame the club have had to announce the withdrawal of the scheme because it doesnt reflect well on the club and fans.

  18. “Gutted”- let the fans ride on the empty team bus you say? Boro fans can’t be trusted and I’m sure players would love the smell of beer and vomit when it was next time for a bus trip.

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