Sunday Roasted: Boro Burnt By Leeds

WELL that ticked ALL the “typical Boro” boxes:
Other results go our way setting up golden moment of opportunity if only we are brave enough, strong enough and good enough to take it … tick. Live on TV with chance to show the watching world and potential Teesside ticket buyers exactly what they are missing… tick. Manage to turn out a really strong looking starting XI when up against a side with a poor recent record who haven’t scored in three… tick
Then fail to turn up from the whistle, start scrappily, get torn apart by an average team we make look like world-beaters, descend into jittery, clunky chaos at the back and gift them stupid goals with schoolboy defending… tick
Slump into dysfunctional self-destructive individualism, lose discipline and shape in every department…. tick. Get a stupid costly red card…. tick. Pick up a couple of injuries…. tick. Leave crowd demoralised and flat (despite being fourth) with a meek and scared display that lacked fight, invention, nous or any hint of belief… tick.

Boro were battered. They were second best in every department for the full 101 minutes. In truth, we were lucky to keep the scored down to two. After a sluggish and nervous start Boro sheepishly handed the initiative to a fired-up Leeds side that were given so much time and space in and around the Boro box that even they were embarrassed.
Despite having a first choice engine room of Williams and Bailey Boro were bossed and pushed around in the middle by Clayton and White and they failed completely to get to grips with the passing triangle of Becchio, Snodgrass and McCormack. The defence had a collective mare with repeated runs into the box going untracked and Leeds winning every knockdown. Up front it was just as bad with Emnes having an off day, Jutkiewicz barely getting a touch and Hammill tricking and jinking to no effect.
The dye was cast by the self inflicted first goal that summed up the problems: under pressure Bennett failed to deal with a high ball and after a littloe nudge he weakly headed at the feet of White who cut into the box unopposed then squared for Snodgrass to burst unchallenged from outside the box to drill a low effort that somehow squirmed through Steele. It was awful defending.
The second if anything was worse. Becchio and McCaormack were allowed to cut through the entire defence with an excahnge of passes that left them bamboozled. Then a ball was slotted into the box that Hoyte should have deal with easily. All he had to do was hoof it out for a throw. But he took a swing at it and failed to make full contact, glancing it weakly into the path of McCormack and leaving him free to square it.
Now it is easy to point the fingure at Hoyte – he has put his hand up and apologised on twitter which I suppose is admirable, he could easily have logged off and buried his head under the pillow – but what were the others doing? When the ball was squared both centre-backs were ambling towards goal, neither bothered to look behind to see if there was any in-coming danger and both were effectively out of the game when Becchio strolled through unmarked to stab home completely unhindered. Shocking.
After that Boro chopped and changed, switched shape several times and tried to claw it back but they had nothing to offer that could hurt Leeds. They were trying to play through a massed defence. Several times Emnes tried to physically run through them. It became increasingly scrappy and disjointed and as heads went down, individuals were trying to dribble through. Boro only had one shot on target, a couple of headers wide and a few half-hearted despairing late lurches into the box that rarely threatened.
Thomson lasted 17 minutes – who had that in the sweep? – before being clattered. How unlucky can one man be? I’m guessing that at some point he swerved to avoid a black gate and drove his car through a mirror shop window. Owned by a gypsy. Or possible built on an old sacred Indian burial ground.
And Barry Robson? Sheesh. Yes, he was ‘unlucky’ that the ref didn’t blow earlier when Clayton had him in a half-Nelson but his self-destructive default fury is a liability. He’d already won the free-kick! What was the point of lashing out? Save it and give him a sly equaliser later on if you must but don’t risk leaving the team a man short.
He has 13 yellow cards this season already and how many of those have been for dissent, petulance or stupidity? He is a big player for us but is powered by sheer anger and when we are under pressure that bubbles over. He will miss three games now – including biggies at Birmingham and West Ham – and that is a big blow. Two more yellows when he comes back will see him break the FA’s bad boy barrier of 15 and trigger another three game ban. He could miss six of the last 11 easily. And then be back just in time to get sent off at Wembley!
Grrrrrrrrrr. Still, it may be a disappointment, a frustrating surrender and big set-back but it is not a disaster. Boro are still fourth and well placed. Boro’s fate is still in their own hands. Birmingham and West Ham up next…. a pivotal period: back-to-back games that will decide if we extend our season into May. We must bounce straight back and get something in those. At least they are away…


62 thoughts on “Sunday Roasted: Boro Burnt By Leeds

  1. What is the worst thing that can happen to Boro this season? That they win promotion and become the whipping boys of the Premier League for one season before being relegated once more.
    The team that played or should I say was on the field against Leeds was a total disgrace to the club.The manner of their play was back to the 1940=1950 era. Slamming balls up to the attackers at every opportunity is not how modern day football is played.
    The game cried out for a skilled mid fielder who had the confidence and skills to hold on to the ball before making a decisive pass to a team mate. The only one on the bench who was capable of this sort of play was ARCA so why was he not given the opportunity to bring some skillful play into the Boro team.
    I am a Mogga Fan but some of his team selections and tactics make me shudder.

  2. Is the bottle half full or half empty?
    Looking back at the last 10 Championship home games and the Boro have W4 D2 L4. We have a total of 14 points from a possible 30. Just about half way I’d say and perhaps that’s indicative of why Boro, in part, are where we are given the performances of those around us.
    Do we have a team with a manager who can storm the league and advance into the Premiership where all but the top 5-6 will await in trepidation? No! What we have is a team that can hold their own against most of their peers when we have a level playing field.
    I have said (sometimeago) that we were at best headed for Wembley and the play-offs. The times when we could have gone into the automatic playoff positions were squandered.
    So what’s left to debate? Well same old same old really; the structure of the team, the management strategy and tactics. I have already voiced the opinion that we desperately needed a creative force in the centre of mid-field. I believe I made this point sometime before Xmas.
    The January transfer window came and went and now the loan window is reaching its conclusion and still this crucial deficit has not been addressed. Zemmama’s in the wings but for whatever reason he’s not had a decent run. Which is of course no excuse because without someone with ability to drive down the centre or slip diagonal passes to quick moving strikers in space you’re left with pressure football and hoping someone can put the ball in the net at some point in the scrum.
    (Note to Leeds supporters: that’s what you’ve now got and when the opposition comes along with the same pressure football you accumulate a lot of home draws and losses. I’m happy for Michael who to describe such a strategy as ‘Brilliant’ must in part be feeling relief after watching a lot of poor football in the none to recent past. Remember one swallow a summer doth not make.)
    I have a certain sympathy with Robson who puts in a hard working shift, gives it his all and finds the wall isn’t going to crack. “Mr. Robson, some walls will and some won’t. It’s in the nature of the variety and quality of the opposition’s ability to keep their shape and how hard they work to close the opposition down.”
    My own personal hometown hero Mogga has in his mind how he thinks he can achieve most with the resources he has at his disposal. He (I believe) sees the division as a war of attrition between the vast majority of teams who are much the same in quality. Who am I to disagree?
    When you haven’t the financial resources to buy big style super quality players then you make the best of what you have. Lambert has received the accolade of Championship player of the year and Southampton have remained in an auto spot most if not all of the season. They struck lucky in combination with momentum and hard work.
    My only criticism would be that we have played to one vision without the ability in the long term to change style and tactics where and when necessary. We have at times plenty of energy but little or no finesse (that showed against Leeds along with two gifted goals). That has been our problem for some time and will continue to be.
    When playing away it can work because the opposition need to win the points and they can/do leave space for the fleet of foot to exploit, but it doesn’t work at home. I only hope it doesn’t spoil our chances of remaining in the play-off positions.
    My big fear is that (and I’ve said this sometimeago) the Boro team at home don’t have confidence in themselves and don’t believe they have what it takes to win against well organised opposition. Nicky Barnby said it all when he went away without a win with Hull, but felt as though his team were better and were robbed of the points.
    Change needs to come by necessity or we are going to continue to see the same poor performance as we did against a ‘Brilliant’ Leeds. You can’t keep expecting to rush the opposition out of the points time and again. It works sometimes but not enough.
    In conclusion, I think it’s going to be a white knuckle ride right to the end- so hang on to yer hats!

  3. Can’t help but think TM is trying to make a place for Thomson in the team.
    That is all well and good if he could play ten games on the trot and put the ball about as we all know he can. But he is not finishing matches.He is always injured and looks like he going to continue in this vane while he remains a Boro player.
    Call it bad luck or whatever you like but it is no good tinkering with the midfield ie putting Robson out on the right etc if Thomson is not cutting it. I think a fit and in-form Thomson would be TMs captain and one of the first names on the team sheet. But he isnt. So put him out on loan, get the midfield with regulars in every week and the team will settle down.
    Sorry Thommo, probably not your fault but you need come right somewhere else we cant afford it.

  4. The most outstanding feature of our team is the lack of fitness. We all know that we were outplayed but we were also outrun. In every department over many of the recent games we have not been able to keep up. How many times have we threatened in the first half but run out of steam in the second?
    We assume that the players must have enough skill or they wouldn’t be able to command a place in a championship team. So fitness must be the key. I don’t believe that sitting back is a strategy, it is an inevitability. What else do you do when you’ve run out of puff? I despair at watching every team in the league outrunning us and for longer as the games go on.

  5. In case anyone disputes the poor state of our home record: we have won 7 of 19 home games and scored 1 goal per game.
    In the Premiership you get 19 home games and twice (under Rioch and Lawrence) we have been relegated with 8 home wins.

  6. SpartakBoro –
    Part of the problem with Robbo is in his own head, cant do much about that but the fire in him needs harnessing.
    All his best games have been in central midfield or a free role where he can drive
    the team forward and maraud, rattle cages and score goals. Oddly that is when we have been most effective.
    I would be intrigued to see what %age of his bookings have been when stuck on the right wing compared to central midfield.
    Putting hime on the right wing is totally counter productive. He is not Arjen Robbem or Jinky Johnson. I disiike putting players where there are not in their best position but even Tony Mac on the right with Robbo central with Bails, Hammill left would be a far better option.
    Robson would have give Leeds central midfield something to think about rather than having Bails and Williams largely shielding (or not) the back four. It would also have moved us further up the pitch.
    Instead we revert to the new orthodoxy of left footed player on the left. Robbo hasn’t got the pace or patience to play that role effectively. He loses his rag too easily so you have two choices.
    1. Play him in the best position for him and the team and reap the benefits.
    2. Be clever, play him on the right, get him frustrated and booked, have no drive in central midfield, play like a set of table football players in rigid lines, surrender the initiative to the opposition, hack off all the home supporters.

  7. So, as Mogga puts it, Boro are ‘far from the finished article’ then is the finished article an achievable objective or merely an aspiration to work towards.
    It’s clear that the standard of the players that have replaced the outgoings in recent years is lower – but can that trend be reversed when income is set to further decrease if promotion is not acheived.
    I don’t see our future activity in the transfer market being able to bridge that gap so surely it would make more sense to start giving the promising academy players preference ahead of the players who continue to fail to make an impact.
    Also, it’s also upto Mogga to setup the team to play to the level they’re capable of and not necessarily in a way he hopes they can manage to achieve.
    Also why were players pumping long balls forward towards an isolated Emnes against Leeds – if we must adopt a long ball strategy then its up to the manager to organise the team to do this sucessfully with forwards playing closer together.
    It’s the last quarter of the season and the games will come thick and fast – so maybe enthusiastic youth with energy and no baggage would serve us better in this average league.
    You can’t blame the players if the manager is saying they’re are basically not good enough and have exceeded expectations.

  8. Still suffering an awful sense of bitter disappointment. Not so much that we lost, but it was the manner of losing that is upsetting. It really was a team going nowhere, with apparently no drive let alone invention to be able to hurt an ordinary (sorry “brilliant” lol) Leeds side.
    All the same, we are 4th and two away games coming up where typical Boro can once again upset the pundits and dent both WHU’s and B’ham’s promotion hopes. Several of the teams around us still have to meet as well.
    I can’t and don’t want to dwell on Sunday. I want to forget it and quickly. This season has still got a lot to play for. To be honest, I don’t think you can predict yet who is going to be in the top two, let alone the top six come the end of April.
    And for the doom-merchants predicting a quick return to the Championship should we actually get promoted this year. Then, that in itself will be fine as we will benefit from an extended parachute system that will help TM put together a team to take back up and to stay up.
    So, Spartakboro, for me the glass is still very definitely half-full!

  9. Ian Gill –
    I was referring to the 2-0 defeat to WBA in April 2010 which was the last time we were live on BBC. Recall we had a very slight chance of getting in the play offs, though on their “performance” the players did not think so.
    As you say, could have been referring to a number of displays against WBA. The January 2009 defeat was when I realised our PL days were coming to an end.

  10. A disappointing result, another home defeat by a team of second division journeymen. Too often we see games where we fail to impose our will on the opposition and press them in their third of the field, in which our forwards play disconnected from each other and give the opposition time and space to organise.
    I agree with TM that the team is a work in progress and I also support letting the academy boys have their time. Who was it said that you don’t win anything with kids? And remember how wrong he was shown to be (and still is).
    I don’t want to sound like a Jonah but I hope that we don’t get promoted this year as I fear an immediate return to the Champs after a season of grind amongst the Prem’s dead men. Where’s the glory or fun in that and what does it do for the morale of the club and town? Build a side around the youngsters, let them mature for a season and then watch us go.
    A team built on local talent will have its day soon, when the whole Premiership house of cards folds after the formation of the European Super League and all the smart money and footballing mercenaries move to clubs in Russia where ownership is even less regulated than here.
    Sorry to sound full of doom and gloom, and I do actually think that we’ve a had a pretty good season so far, but I hope for that seismic tactical shift that will take us into another league (literally), when teams fear a visit to the Riverside and the players show the confidence and arrogance that comes with a winning mentality.

  11. What about Mullins from Pompey? By all accounts he’s available on loan. And the type of player we are looking for. Any thoughts?

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