Promotion Hopes Off The Blumen Menu?

WORD leaked out in the press room that Reading boss Brian McDermott was the cousin of chrome-domed overly inventive TV chef Heston Blumenthal (snail ice cream? have a word….) and there’s no doubt he has served up a revival recipe for the visitors.
For Boro though, the play-offs could now be off the menu after this hard to swallow and stodgy Riverside stalemate.


Three games in a row Boro have let slip commanding leads and ended up with disappointing draws. Those six squandred points would have put them in the play-off places. As it is they remain five points adrift – although Cardiff have two games in hand.
It was a dismal first half; scrappy, laboured and uninspired and without any indication that there was so much at stake. It felt like an end of season contractual obligation of the sort that fits neatly into Mrs O’Neil’s travel plans.
The second half started with a flurry as galvanised Boro came out fighting after a rocket and they got the goal and in a lively spell had chances to seal it. But that soon fizzled out. And once they blew themselves out Reading came back strongly, got the leveller and had some good chances to snatch it late on.
After the game Colin Cooper admitted that Boro had huffed and puffed and beavered away but were not good enough to win. That is a fair assessment. Boro’s failure to take the opportunity – not just here but also against Newcastle and Derby – has not been because of any lack of effort. They are just not good enough. Since Cardiff Boro have had three good chances to claw themselves into the play-off frame but wasted them.
In truth Boro were always going to struggle today. With McManus out the defence was always going to need tweaking but to change four of the back five was a massive gamble. Pogatetz was clearly well short of fitness and was played in his flawed full back role while Taylor was dropped, Naughton was on the bench although clearly fit enough to come off the bench and – the riskiest of all – Coyne was on punishment details after a costly fumble at Derby with boo-boy favourite Bard Jones returned.
To be fair Jones made two cracking saves, a couple of routine ones and looked solid enough … although palming the free-kick high into the air late on caused a scare before he tipped it over the bar when it came back down.
And he deserves credit for playing well in the face of audible widespread pre-match derision. Yes, there is a consensus that he is not good enough and an assumption that he is on his way out, and yes, he scares some supportrs and at times it seems his team-mates too but what people think is to be gained by booing a Boro player in a concerted bid to further destroy his confidence before kick-off escapes me. His first clean take was greeted by a noisy round of the most sarcastic clapping ever.
Now Boro’s hopes are on a knife-edge. We have eight game left and probably need to win six and/or go unbeaten until the end of the season if we are to barge in – and there has been no indication that this team has the tools, the mentality or the desire to do that. The players are still talking about mathematical possibilities and we can cling to hypotheticals but realistically a couple more draws and a defeat and it is all over.

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53 thoughts on “Promotion Hopes Off The Blumen Menu?

  1. It’s all about next season now – and it’s probably going to be Boro’s most important season for 25 years.
    This is the last year of parachute money and given reports today that PL money is set to increase on average by £13m per season per club – with parachute payments also set to jump to £16m and extended beyond two seasons.
    Also, failure to achieve promotion next season will see the wage bill trimmed to championship affordability and any player capable of playing in the PL won’t be hanging around on reduced pay.
    So, it’s vitally important that the club assembles a promotion winning team this summer – Strachan must get the players he needs and everyone must back him – it will serve nobody to have another season of splits and negativity.
    The reason we are where we are now is primarily down to bad decision making over the last couple of years by those who run the club. For the failure to remove Southgate when he was struggling instead of removing him when he was riding high, then Gibson must take the rap.
    Talking of which, Perhaps SG could look for a rapper to help fund next season’s push by Wee Gordy – P Diddy (Palace) and JZ (Arsenal) seem already taken – though maybe KL has already acquired 50 pence to help with the finances?

  2. Neil and Ian Gill:
    I certainly hope you’re right that Strachan is all for the youngsters. The stats don’t show it, but I hope you have some inside info that I dont. And Neil, you seem to know something about the closeness of Strachan and Parnaby, thats nice.
    But Ian Gill, the “didnt we cover this point before?” and your somewhat strange logic that we cant use reserve team players because the reserve team in itself doesnt beat other reserves… That’s just strange.
    Anyway, I hope you finally come to see the fact about the “strengthening” of the team, with adding the scottish “men” and selling young talents. (Digard being the most sad example, a stunning talent at his best.)
    The “weak”, young team of Gareth were at the top (second place) of the table, Im I wrong? How then can you still insist on the need for “strengthening” with “men”, and changing of tactics.
    I made an argument about “young local lads, fast football with a couple of brazilians”. Anyone is free to laugh about this, but I know you all see the point. And see the difference between Robson and McClaren, and the difference between Southgate and Strachan. You dont have to like them, but there are screaming obvious differences in the tactical approach. To
    But Ian Gill, you dont WANT to see it. Your remark: «Robson’s teams were largely workmanlike, the only ‘exciting’ team got us relegated.». What??? Do you believe your own words. Do I have to make a list of players for you? Do I Have to send you footage of the games?

  3. Ian always harps on about the results of the reserves and the youth team, but aren’t we always told that results are utterly irrelevant at that level?
    Of course winning is a good habit, but I really don’t think you can say that reserve team wins = reserve team players good and vice versa. We’ve had plenty of goalscoring reserves over the years (Peverell, Arnold, Freestone, Craddock) who have had zero Boro careers.
    And square peggism is back. Rhys Williams has proved himself to be a perfectly good midfielder and deserves to be recognised as such. In fact, the one game I do rememeber him playing at right-back this season, he was awful. I will also remind people that versatility is not a crime.

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