TWO quick ones to mull over that may well be closely inter-linked: the club’s financial projections based on promotion and Gordon Strachan’s performance as he tries to shape a team to achieve that.
SOMETHING is fundamentally wrong, admitted Gordon Strachan to the sound of a giant penny dropping but while he has now recognised there is a deep-seated fatal flaw in the team the non-plussed gaffer can’t quite put his finger on it.
Great, there is a massive problem causing regular cataclysmic collapses but the manager doesn’t know what it is. Or if he does he is not prepared to outline it to supporters.
Let’s hope he tells the team quickly or this season is over.
GORDON Strachan said it was “a stunner”. He’s not wrong.
The boss said it was a bad 20 minutes. He’s wrong on that though. It was a complete and utter shambles. A shapeless mess. A goal down after 17 seconds is a disaster. What was worse was the complete failure to respond to that early blow. With Watford piling forward to press home their early advantage Boro simply imploded. And folded.
Three down in 20 minutes and game over, yes – but don’t think the other 70 were much better. They weren’t. And what is deeply worrying is that the offending 20 minutes weren’t a bolt from the blue abberation. Looking at the the whole of the awayday horror show this term, they were the norm.
WHAT A difference a week makes. Smiles. Enthusiasm. Peopel digging scrumpled up betting slips out of the bin. The gallows being knocked together going into the Burnley game has been dismantled and hastily reshaped into the foundations for Fortress Riverside: back to back wins over strong sides and three wins in a row at home.
WHAT a strike. What a hero. What a result. What a team. What a masterstroke of a substitution. What a jammy get. What a fantastic feeling when the thunderbolt streaked home. What a crucial watershed moment. What a galvanising goal. And it didn’t even rain.
Dismantle the gallows. Two late strikes from Tarmo King got Gordon Strachan off the hook and kick-started the season. Who ever doubted them? I can’t wait for Reading now. Bring it on. Anger IS an energy.
HOW IMPORTANT is this powder keg game? And how explosive will the atmosphere be tonight. You dread to think what dark corrosive emotions will be unleashed at a volatile Riverside if Burnley score first.
THE PRESSURE on Boro has just been ratcheted up ten fold. With two home games this week there will be no hiding from a frustrated fan-base for the team or the boss if they do not deliver. There will be no hiding for the powers that be either. If Boro do not win and win well on Tuesday they will hear the depth of the rising discontent.
Boro were pre-season favourites. We were the biggest spenders in a poor division where even a little outlay can make a big difference. And crucially Gordon Strachan got the players he wanted. He got all his A-list of targets in – and he got them in early – and he got his final piece of the jigsaw in the shape of Kris Boyd, the man supposed to convert the chances. This is now undoubtedly his team. And it is fatally flawed.
After five games his team has four points, it has won just one game – and that in the most uninspiring fashion – and scored just two goals. An insipid side that lacks width, pace, creativity and a spark has been out-worked and out-fought by better organised, fitter and more motivated teams. It can not hurt the opposition. It doesn’t win the physical battles. It doesn’t score goals and when it concedes it looks as fragile and demoralised as anything that Gareth Southgate turned out. Promotion looks light years away.
MY FAVOURITE game. Maybe. Probably. I’m on a nostalgia trip so the gritty dues serving nights on the Holgate are edging the easy if undeniably brilliant glories of Cardiff and Europe at the moment. And of all the fantastic nights on the Holgate, this was the best: struggling Boro beat title chasing Aston Villa to book an unbelievable first ever trip to Wembley. Fantastic. Even now, 20 years later, I still shudder with the memories of that night.