BORO will need a lot more of the first half display against Leicester and a lot less of the second half if they are to make a success of this season.
The Championship curtain-raiser was a microcosm of last term: it started in impressive fashion with crisp passing, slick movement and a commanding display of creative zest. But the chances created were not converted and in a pivotal moment missed a sitter then found themselves facing a fierce counter-attack and they wilted.
Boro missed a gilt-edged chance to kill off the opposition. Marvin Emnes – playing with a beaming smile again – danced into the box, skipped past a defender and drew the keeper then checked inside and with the goal gaping he couldn’t unload. He took an extra touch. He tried to find the perfect angle and as he hesitated Grant Leadbitter arrived to crack in a shot by Schmeichel had recovered and somehow blocked it.
As so often last season Boro failed to finish off the opposition when the moment arose. If that goal had gone in it would have been hard to see them coming back.
And as so often the opposition, off the hook, found an extra gear. A half-time rocket from Big Nige and Leicester came out a different side. More direct. More determined. Faster to every ball. Stronger in the tackle. Boro were bundled out of their stride and could not react. Leicester inevitably levelled, inevitably took the lead and could have had two more late on. They stepped up a gear while Boro free-wheeled, wobbled and crashed.
It was disappointing. And painfully familiar, But it was only the first game. Yes, it is easy to say that. And we can’t airbrush last season’s second half slump out of history. But it WAS only the first game. Boro have only won the opener once since the Millenium… 2-1 at home to Spurs – and they got relegated that year. It isn’t the most reliable of indicators. And with 45 games to go it would be crazy to draw too many concrete conclusions.
There is nothing to be gained from picking up last season squabbles and launching into pre-emptive point-scoring now. Boro are nowhere near finished recruiting yet. Albert Adomah could be in by next week. At least one defender. A striker. Bids (plural) are in. And even if they were finished recruiting, one game is hardly a scientific test. Give it six or 10 games to see how it shapes up. Bite your tongue. There’s no need to panic.
We’ll batter Accrington.
NEW for this season….
You can rate the Boro players game-by-game on the Gazette website on a dynamic panel built into the match report. The scores will build up in a neat new interactive graphic that will allow you to track an individual player’s performance over the season or compare and contrast two or more.
Plus, I’m asking for your single sentence match reports on Twitter.Im looking for witty pithy precises of the action condensed into 140 characters with the best, and funniest used in the paper. You can be as scathing as you like but no swearing. Just fine-tune your football fortune cookie report and tweet me including the hashtag #Boro140.