Late Leaks: Same Old Story

SHALL I write about the Groundhog day familiar frailties of the frustrating fatal final few minutes (there’s a few other ‘f’ words I could throw in)? Would it reveal anything? We all know that leaky late lapses have become the damaging default, that the red zone vulnerability is deeply embedded in the DNA of the current team.

Even skipper Matty Bates afterwards conceded that “maybe” there was something in the mindset of the team that they start to get the jitters in the closing stages. Tell us about it. How many times is that this season? The wobbles at Doncaster, Leeds and now Preston have all come in what is widely acknowledged as an improved spell – yet in those games we have dominated have only yielded a disappointing two points instead of what should have been a very healthy nine.
Victory today would have lifted Boro three places higher in the table, six points above the drop zone (and 12 points above a poor Preston who we easily beat away just three weeks ago) and it would have cast the five game unbeaten run in a far more positive light. It would have become a significant raised platform instead of a low step.
But we know all that. Most of us would have scripted it that way (although of course we’d have pencilled in Sean St Ledger for the late goal). There’s no point dwelling on it. It’s depressing. Groaaaaann.
Yet, for all the sickening frustrations of the day it is five games unbeaten, it is another small step forward and it was a solid second half display by what is starting to look like a well balanced and well drilled team. There can’t be many Championship teams who have a midfield unit better than that fielded after the break and the defence is growing into a decent unit. Replacing David Wheater with the right man – a physical, experienced, battler with aeriel ability – could ensure the back line stays solid enough to keep us in games.
But the strike force remains a problem. Leroy Lita blows hot and cold and misses too many sitters; Marvin Emnes is tricky and pacy but goes to pieces in the box and is never going to be a prolific striker; Lee Miller was on the bench; and Kris Boyd looks a forlorn and estranged figure with next to no impact on games. That department needs sorting urgently if we are to make any sort of concrete progress.
Some bits and pieces:
Joe Bennett is growing in swagger and with a nice touch, a turn of pace and a good cross is looking increasingly like a very effective player. He’s the future. Get him signed on an improved, longer contract.
Barry Robson got a right mauling. He has a nasty gash above ankle that needed a lot of stitches. And Seb Hines needed patching up and bandaging before he got thrown back on. Nicky Bailey was limping heavily with a dead-leg after the game too. That blank weekend is looking a useful little R&R break now.
David Wheater was hanging around the tunnel before the game, made a quick appearance on Radio Brownlee, nipped down to the dressing room for the pre-match music and team-talk, watched from the seats near his box and then after the game was prowling up and down the stadium. There’s a bloke who doesn’t really want to leave. He’ll be back.
With an all Academy back five plus Taylor in midfield and Grounds, Park, Smallwood and keeper Connor Ripley on the bench it made a total of ten home grown heroes in the 18 man squad. There’s a sign of the times. The Academy has raised £26m in sales in the past 18 months and looks set to produce the backbone of the team over the next few years as the austerity regime starts to bite. It is laudable – but a very risky project.
Hey Mr Tangerine Man: Surprisingly red-faced teak tanned Phil Brown didn’t get a lot of stick from the crowd. There were a few isolated taunts but no co-ordinated chanting over his scurrilous mischief making despite some excellent creative terrace ditties being drawn up.
It was noticeable that he ducked the press after the game though. He would have faced some embarrassing questions about Preston’s proxy apology on his behalf and no doubt would have been left cringing as he explained how he put his foot in his mouth and left his employers back-tracking in his first week in the new job.
But he lost his voice (throatus raspius diplomatica)… probably with all the frantic screaming in an attempt to get Joe Bennet sent off. Welcome back Mr Cuprinol.


59 thoughts on “Late Leaks: Same Old Story

  1. AV: WhatÂŽs the state of play with transfers at the club?
    Window closes in under a week now. Names linked to be going out were Boyd, O Neil, Wheats (clearly gone!), Arca, Miller (who?), Taylor (Watford sniffing) Who and how likely of these guys will still be with us?
    If they are still here I am guessing they will definitely be gone in the summer.
    The Gazette links the German CB – 4 times removed from any serious level of football – to be coming in. What other arrivals could/will/may at a push be coming in?
    **AV writes: There are noises about a possible Boyd loan out and an improved Watford move for Taylor may be too tempting. That – plus the Wheater exit – would free up wages for three or so stop gap loan signings (there is a list of possibles) to get us through until summer when a serious rebuild can begin.
    Realistically the club will welcome a move for O’Neil for book-balancing reasons but despite some tabloid white noise there has been no firm interest on that one.
    Incoming, the German is a strong possibility and contact has been made but how far it has gone we don’t know. I think there will be a defender in quickly then more in as/if people leave.

  2. After reading about Tangoman’s touchline behaviour at the weekend, I can’t decide whom I dislike more, him or his mate Fat Sam.
    Two points dropped but progress is being made and we’re heading in the right direction.
    In Mog we trust.

  3. BoroPhil
    It gets even worse…. I’ve had a look at the replays of the Lita lash up quite a few times now. At first I thought he’d tried to do something fancy when a simple and controlled sidefoot of a cross that already had the pace on it would have done. But after the third or fourth viewing it looks to me as though it hit what would have been his standing leg (had he even raised his right foot) and bounced off him to hit Lonergan who knew nowt about it.
    By the way, Preston weren’t lucky – they just did what quite a few teams have done to us recently. They know (it’s no secret, we all know) if they get to fifteen from the end within one goal of Boro there’s every chance they can get an equaliser – or better – because of our ‘mindset’.
    The execrable Mr. Quorange showed he knew what to do by putting another big lad up front, going 4-3-3 and pumping the ball into our box.
    Not only did the Boro defenders oblige (after the strikers had missed the chances to nail the game and the team had taken their foot off the gas) by ball watching on the cross but Mogga also failed to respond by changing personnel or team organisation. Or even just getting one of the forwards to feign an injury whilst he got Bates over to the technical area to re-inforce what was needed. Anything to break the inevitable pattern.
    They got the point they came for by exploiting our known weaknesses and we threw two away. Again.
    They aren’t the first – and, unless we do something about it, they won’t be the last.

  4. Sky are reporting that Gary O’Neil has agreed to join West Ham on a permament deal.
    As long as there’s a half-decent fee involved (£2m?) I think that would be a good move for all concerned.

  5. So Boro has accepted a bid from West Ham for GON. So it seems he has GONe to Hammers for a two and half year contract.
    Now it’s interesting to see who TM brings in as we need a right sided midfielder or two. I’m not terribly disappointed to see Gary going.
    At the time of writing Boro winning 1-0 against Everton in the FA Cup. Up the Boro!

  6. So O’Neil is off to West Ham again for an ‘undisclosed fee’ In other words the Boro have given him away to reduce the wage bill and don’t want to tell the world the fee.Fair enough, it will be interesting to see how injury prone he is back in the Premiership. It’s risky though with Thompson out for an indeterminate period.Hope the Boro are supporting Mowbray’s back up plan!!!

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