LET’S measure those glasses.
The best start for a century, five Championship clean sheets in a row, 14 games undefeated in the league and only the post (twice) and an astonishing double save stopped confident Boro claiming a seventh successive away win… that glass looks well over half full.
Another two points dropped and four games now without scoring as the winning run away from home comes to a halt and the team slide down the table? You need another drink.
Boro’s 0-0 draw at in-form Reading was far from dull. Tony Mowbray’s steely side dug in to defend as the home team roared at them in the opening exchanges, attacking wth pace and width but failing to bring a real save from Carl Ikeme. , then gradually asserted themselves with patient passing. By the end Boro were pummelling a team desperately hanging on.
Boro started slowly and were ragged and tentative and were forced into some frantic defending with Stephen McManus twice needing to make sliding blocking tackles but having weathered the storm they looked increasingly comfortable as they passed and probed, if sometimes they were guilty of over-elaborating on the edge of the box.
Boro had the best chance of the first half as Scott McDoanld’s stabbed shot then a close range volley from Marvin Emnes foreced Reading keeper Adam Federici into a superb double save.
Then as the built up a head of steam through the second half they forced play deep into the Reading half and went close as Emnes put in a header that grazed the outside of the post, then McDonald screwed a sitter wide, then Robson crashed a 25 yarder against the upright. After the game Reading boss Brian McDermott – cousin of mad scientist chef Heston Blumenthal, FACT – admitted he was glad to escape with a point.
Of course, a win would be better and Boro players were rightly disappointed at failing to push home their advantage and take all three points. Looking at the last three results it would be easy to say it was a sticky patch. And it is.
But Boro have played three tough teams in eight days and come through unbeaten, and in truth, looked the better side over all three of those games. They have not been bore draws. In every one of theose games Boro have given it a good crack, played enterprising football and created some good chances,. The goals will come again,. No panic.
And the solidity of the team should not be overlooked. Five clean sheets in a row is not a bad record. And it is not just the defence but the whole team that are digging in, working hard, getting back to block and tackle, track and mark and make it very hard for the opposition.
Three 0-0 draws in a row is not completely unknown. The last time it happened was back in September 1973… just as Jack Charlton’s was beginning to fit the pieces of his promotion winning side into place.Not losing is a very good habit to get into.
Boro have now gone 10 league games unbeaten making it the best start to the season since 1910. That nudges this current team pastthe mark of nine unbeaten set by Bruce Rioch’s 1986-87 team, a side that was captained by Mowbray and also went on to promotion.
It;s been a great start, far and away better than anyone but the most foaming wild eyed optimistic could have predicted in pre-season. Fill your glass. Have a beer. There’s a long way still to go but there’s already plenty to celebrate.