DEPRESSING. But very familiar. I can’t be bothered to do any in-depth analysis of how and why Boro lost at Norwich. Nine hours travelling for 90 minutes of predictable tedium.
And we all know the script by now: Boro played well in spells; good crisp possession and neat triangles in the middle third; worked hard enough but lacking the creativity, pace and penetration to get into the box; very few real chances; looked vulnerable at the back to quick breaks; disjointed leaked sloppy goal in lapse of concentration; gradually fizzled out into ragged unimaginative flapping. Go home deflated.
If you really want to twist the knife with a lengthy discourse of the weakness in the team and the dynamics and exactly how the recurring nightmare unfolded just cut and pace any random away game report over the past year.
What must a prospective manager watching that think? It isn’t a one off. If they think that they are in for a shock. That game was a carbon-copy of the 1-0 midweek defeat at Forest. Anyone who had illusions that the problems stemmed from the personality or tactical rigidity of Gordon Strachan and a wave of “hey ho the witch is dead” relief would galvanise the team must surely be thinking again.
Adventurous Steve Agnew has twice tried to be far more enterprising than Strachan would ever countenance but to no avail. He went 4-3-3 at Forest and played three strikers and a couple of midfielders pushing on. You don’t get more assertive than that. He played 4-4-2 but with a midfield diamond at Norwich and tried to push forward and use the pace of Luke Williams to link midfield and the front two. Nope, nothing. And that is with them really trying too. It is not from lack of effort.
Watching Boro labour with such little result is soul-destroying. They pass it so sweetly and neatly but so ploddingly across the middle and the opposition defence fall back and defend their 18 yard line patiently until Boro fail to pick their way through, fail to get wide and behind and then their nerve snaps and then panic and the ball is either lobbed into the box to be nodded routinely away or it bounces harmlessly into the arms of the keeper or out or play and behind for a goal-kick. The lack of imagination, of zest, and as the game goes on of belief, is really quite disheartening. This team is toothless.
And it is in trouble. One draw in seven away games… that is ONE point from a possible 21! That spells trouble. Boro are in the bottom three not because of any flukes, freaks or injustices. They are there because they can’t hurt teams, especially away from home. And they know it. You can see the morale draining away. They know if they concede the game is over. They know they can’t score. Two goals away and one of them an oggie.
I’m not writing any more. I’m just depressing myself. We need an immediate spark. A new boss needs to be in place for the two massive six pointers basement battles that are looming at home. And we must win them or we are deep, deep in trouble.