A Cut And Paste Display… But Not Far Short Of Being A Potent Force

IT WAS A cut and paste display: dominate & create chances, fall behind to a dead ball then bust a gut to claw to one point when three were there on a plate. We’ve that countless times in recent years and three times already this term.
Boro had 22 shots in the 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday, rattled the bar and had a compelling penalty shout waved away. Their keeper made three good saves, a couple of efforts sizzled an inch or two wide, Andy Halliday bounced a free header over the bar, George Friend was over-lapping and weaving and tricking life a man possessed – he did a Cruyff turn and drag-back in his own box at one point – and Lukas Jutkiwiewicz got to wear the weekly head bandage of hour after a battling display in and around their box.
But as with last week at Wigan, and against Blackpool, and against Accrington in the Credit Card Cup Boro couldn’t make it count. All those games should have been out of sight. Boro could have been top of the table by now if only they had a deadly striker to complement the current set-up.. And as in all three of those games Boro got caught napping at a set-play. So that’s two problems. One at each end.

But let’s not trap ourselves into a cycle of negativity and insisting nothing has changed from last season. It has. The team now has a distinct shape and style and solidity that bodes well for the future with a little fine-tuning.
They have a robust, organised and athletic midfield, width and pace going forward, a regular defence that is well organised in open play and the beginnings of a team spirit and confidence that has seen them step up a gear and fight back rather than shrivel after conceding. Four games undefeated. All good things.
This team are just a couple of players from being able to really compete in this division. One of those is an out and out goal-getter, clearly and most urgently. Another is a creative attacking midfielder that can link up the solidity of the engine room, the width and pace on the flanks, the hard work of Juke into a more potent force going forward.
And Boro are working on getting them. And they have the money to bring them in. Again, let’s not persuade ourselves that the world has collapsed because Ross McCormack has opted for Leeds. While Boro’s £2m offer has been on the table at Leeds, the club haven’t been impotently pacing and looking at the phone. In the meantime they have been very working hard on a fall-back position and edged close to two alternatives for that slot and also moved closer to two striking targets, on of who is obviously Becchio. A deal remain on the table for a defender – Ayala – but they have a Plan B for that as well.
After the game Mogga admitted that he has had several bids accepted and been given permission by clubs to talk to those players. And he stressed, they are new names, not the ones already on the press radar. Boro will be working hard on those targets tonight and tomorrow and hopefully one or two they will be tied up on Monday.
If not, the loan market opens seven days later. And free agents can be signed at any time. But we need to get the right players to pull it all together.
As for the game… I enjoyed it. It was frustrating yes, but a different kind of frustrating to last term. Boro remain short of a clinical finisher – we all know that – but at least now they are dominating games, creating chances, stretching the pitch and the opposition and have a couple of players with pace and trickery and the potential to excite.
The last few games have been action-packed. end-to-end entertainment with Boro on top. There is a sense of anticipation creeping in, even a little hint of optimism… there was a couple of ripples of spontaneous applause during the game. Even Marvin Emnes got cheered when he came on. The fuse is spluttering… let’s get a player in to ignite it.


19 thoughts on “A Cut And Paste Display… But Not Far Short Of Being A Potent Force

  1. Spot on really Vic. Cracking game today. Moving on can we play guess the player. Are you able to provide any clues. My starter – Butterfield?

  2. My first game of the season due to holiday clashes and even though we didn’t win I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    The last game I saw was Sheffield Wednesday away sitting with my Wednesday supporting mate in the home end. That day we were outclassed, we were a demoralised shambles lucky to get nil. Today was much much different.
    We were fantastic going forward, Adomah is superb, and the Juke did a great job holding the ball and creating chances. We were certainly better with the Adomah Carayol Juke three up front, Halliday’s introduction blunted our attacking options although Emnes was lively and looks much more like it at the moment. Friend played really well and if he could only shoot on target we would have won easily as he carved out three clear cut chances on his own.
    So I left feeling good. Boro are close to being a really good side. We create great chances regularly. We look solid in defence and the new players are making a real impact. As everyone keeps saying we are missing someone who can put those chances away. Someone who anticipates the cross across the face of the goal, who can create a chance on a through ball, who can shoot hard and accurately on target. That is what we needed today.
    We were by far the better team. Becchio could be the answer to the missing links. I feel optimistic moving forward.
    A quick word about the new ground configuration. I sit on the F of MFC in the east stand. The away fans are virtually next to me now, I don’t like that, and the screen is great but they don’t show replays. They show live action but when there is an incident they don’t replay it (like the penalty shout today) but in the lulls show Ramsdens adverts instead. Who wants to watch live action when you can watch it in front of you? Surely the screen should help enhance fans views of the game, not show them what they can already see.
    Anyway, it’s great to be back. Up the Boro.
    **AV writes: They haven’t got the facilities to show replays. The feed comes live from the one camera filming it for the Football League show and Sky highlights. They don’t have the multi-camera coverage and editing facilities on site that games being shown live and in full abroad have, The screen has been put in place and it is a benefit for team news and adverts etc but as yet it is underused.

  3. AV, my question is although we only appear to be one finisher away from winning games, when/if we find this finisher, how will fitting him into the team change the team? To put this finisher in will mean taking someone else out. Who will that be? Will the balance change?
    **AV writes: It depends who it is. Becchio would probably go into the same shape ahead of Juke, a fox in the box would probably slot in behind/off him with one of the midfielders dropped at home. Could also go orthodox 442. Options.

  4. Would just like to say that I think the team are gelling together well now, I agree with what you say. Tony Mowbray has and still is getting his own team together now and we are seeing the results now, well done Tony.
    And I also say Marvin Emnes has been done a injustice over the last few weeks, give the lad a chance. He is playing well now in midfield, watch him fly.

  5. Good game.
    Did boro deserve to win? Yes. However, we are not just a striker short of being a good side in this division. There are hardly any goals in the entire team. Our defenders don’t score, our midfielders wont score and the Juke will never be prolific and even less so when played as a lone striker.
    What was most disappointing today was seeing us set out with one up front again at home. It invites pressure and the Juke has nowhere near enough pace to play this role successfully. For 10 minutes Carayol moved alongside him we scored an equaliser and then bizarrely we appeared to revert back to one up front. Also was completely baffled when varga was subbed thought he was our most creative midfielder in the second half.
    I agree there are glimmers of hope but still think we have underachieved in terms of our current points tally. People may say Mowbray’s hands are tied but it is him who chooses to play one striker up front at home against sides like Sheff Wed who set up with a defensive 451.
    I havent even touched on the issues we will have when injuries kick in!! Dont think im pessimistic would like to think it was more realistic but certainly havent been optimistic for a long time!!

  6. Five games in, and we’re three points off a play-off position and three points off a relegation position, sitting in 15th position. Those that are able to attend are reporting “goodish” performances.
    AV asks us not to compare with last season, which is probably a good idea, as at this stage last time round we were three points better off in 7th spot, just a solitary goal off a playoff position. We were also still in the League Cup, which has a financial benefit and offers opportunities for fringe players to get valuable game time, although arguably has a longer term negative impact on our league position.
    Are we one or two players off being a promotion side, or one or two injuries off being embroiled in a relegation battle? Only time will tell, let’s hope it’s the former.
    Despite all the talk of the need for a striker, I remain surprised and concerned that the club hasn’t focused more of its transfer market energies on the defence. As good as it is to see Woodgate and Williams playing six ames on the bounce, we’re still shipping goals fairly regularly (8 in 6 games).
    It was interesting to hear Steve Bruce’s comments last week about Hull getting promoted last year on the back of their well drilled defence. Hull scored exactly the same number of goals (61) as we did last year but finished 2nd to our 16th. I remain cautious about our prospects.

  7. We definitely do need a clinical finisher, if we don’t get one it will be such a shame, because this year could definitely be our year if we can get a striker to put away the chances. I have every faith in Mogga to get us our man and take us up, but I’m afraid it’s do or die this season for him.
    The two strikers we have at the club just aren’t clinical enough, but we are definitely only two or three players away from being a real force in this division.
    Either way an exciting season ahead

  8. We are now exactly in the middle between a relegation spot and a playoff place. That’s where I expect us to be all season.
    But we’ve got some extremely difficult games coming up. Three of our next four games are away, including QPR and Forest, who are both going well.
    If we’re still within three points of the play-offs after those four games, then I will start to get a bit more optimistic.

  9. Steady progress and the team is very much Baggies Lite.
    The most obvious difference between Mogga’s baggies and our current team is that they had a few more goals in them. Brunt, Morrison and Koren regularly scored to push them to promotion.
    The problem we will have is bringing in players who will do more than the cureent ones and not disrupt the playing style.
    I think 442 is plan B and away from home probably plan F.
    What to do about Juke? His tireless work cannot hide some difficulties, he will be one who suffers if say Becchio comes in.
    We need goals from midfield, Leadbitter appears to be untouchable, so too Whitehead so Varga looks to be the fall guy despite glowing reports.
    If we bring the centre back ‘we need’ then Rhys or Woodie are in peril.
    But what will those changes do to team dynamics and performances.
    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t..

  10. Some positives, coming from behind again shows more committment and desire for me than last season, coupled with the shots made.
    However as Paul said, there are not enough goals from other areas, and this has not improved with buys this year, unless Adomah or Carayol start to click on a more regular basis.
    But considering we have the “best two centre halves” in the division as some profess, how is it we cannot keep a clean sheet? Is it possibly that Steele does not command his box sufficiently, or is it the other players that are not good enough at defending, excluding of course the two best CH´s.
    We keep repeating the mantra, if you do not keep clean sheets, you will win nowt. That is unless you try to be like Newcastle were under Keegan, and win your games 3-2, 4-2. Then we better find at least two more good strikers.

  11. So another team is let off the hook due to the continued lack of precision in front of goal. Still not many complaints bearing in mind only one win so far – plus despite nine dropped points, no calls for Mogga’s head (other than the usual trolls) and a general belief that this team will eventually come good.
    It seems Juke’s game is pretty good except for that goal scoring bit, which may indicate he’ll be warming the bench should a new striker arrive.
    Though should a goal-scoring midfielder arrive then surely Leadbitter will revert back to a more defensive role and Varga will also take his place on the bench – though once the games come thick and fast midfield rotation is likely to commence.
    If Mogga is content with the 4-2-3-1 to 4-5-1 oscillation then Boro will need a more prolific attacking midfielder – is Stephen Ireland that man? he did seem to have an eye for a goal before several of his grandmothers passed away and were subsequently resurrected.
    Then the problem of someone to deliver a dead ball and others that are willing to get on the end of it. I was expecting a tough central-defender with no regard for personal safety to be part of the incoming – Ayala doesn’t sound to be that person and he has to decide whether being on the front row of the bench in the Championship is preferable to being on the second row of the bench in the PL.
    At least if we do manage to get two or three incoming Mogga will have genuine options to consider – at the moment this rather threadbare team picks itself and would not be as effective once a few key players are missing.

  12. Groundhog Day it was but the positives remain the same despite the disappointment of another draw. Result aside the value for money factor was definite and I left not begrudging my £25 admission.
    Juke put in a never-say-die performance and lesser men would have had to leave on a stretcher let alone have his blood soaked bandage and shirt changed and carry on his lone battle. Friend pushed him close for MOM and had he crossed instead of shooting into the side netting Juke would have had a certain goal. Hoyte was restored presumably because of the pace threat from Wednesday on the flanks and didn’t put a foot wrong in a very competent and effective display.
    The Wednesday goal was frustrating from yet another predictable set piece, Antonio was left to Steele to mark and once open play commenced nobody picked him up. With Leadbitter and Steele on the line from my seat I think if Jason had stood tall rather than dive, the ball would have stayed out but hindsight and “if onlys” are wonderful retrospectively. There were three black shirts totally unmarked in the Boro box including Antonio and that is a big worry for me.
    Leadbitter adds a lot of craft and graft in the middle but he is not going to get eight to ten goals a season, Gerrard or Lampard he isn’t, the same applies to Varga and Whitehead.
    We started the first half brightly but then became muddled in the middle and also made some bizarre set piece free kick decisions. In the 13th minute we took a free kick that instead of punting it into the danger zone we passed backwards into our own half and passed it sideways and dangerously lost possession. The entire move looked completely unplanned and chaotic and it wasn’t the only free kick that had the North stand scratching their heads.
    Grant offers a lot in his game but set piece delivery (not the first time pointed out on here) is a weakness and despite his ricocheted free kick which nearly caught the keeper out in the 2nd half is largely unproductive.
    Our overall performance was entertaining but we are now at fine margins. We could and should have had two or three more. Leadbitter whistled one past the upright, Juke cracked the crossbar and Halliday glanced his header wide when on target was easier.
    Those fine margins are getting bodies in the box (I believe that Smallwood offers more in this respect if we are to carry on with three in the middle), Set piece delivery, looking up and seeing opportunity when in wide positions but ultimately we need a more positive midfield player (Emnes or Ledesma) and/or a strike partner for Juke.
    For the non attending stayaways despite the draws and the above niggles you are missing out. This Boro has the looks of the start of something and at the final whistle there was applause not boos and the players and fans both reciprocated.
    As mentioned in some earlier posts about the ground changes, on the subject of atmosphere ,is there any need to be literally deafened by the volume accompanying the TV screen? Without a hand held sound meter I’m pretty sure it would contravene or be borderline noise levels in a factory environment.
    The strained speakers sound like a 1.2 Corsa at the traffic lights with a £30 sound system. It kills atmosphere it doesn’t create or add anything, too loud and in your face, likewise the music played after the run out simply doesn’t work and needs binning. Keep it simple, less is more!
    **AV writes: I’d bin the music completely 10 minutes before kick-off bar the Power Game when the teams run out.

  13. I left the stadium feeling relatively content, having seen an exciting game in which the Boro pressed for a winner but somehow just couldn’t make those chances count. That will have been said several times in 2013.
    I felt the line up was exactly what might be expected, if we had been playing away from home.
    We are constantly reminded that “football is a results business”. We need better than two draws at home – two points out of the 9 available – if we are to make progress in this league.
    I mused, on my walk back to the car, whether I’d have felt MORE than merely content if the team hadn’t played well-ish, if we hadn’t deserved any more than we got, but if we had been lucky to scrape a 1-0 win. I came to the conclusion I’d have preferred that. We’d also be higher in the league table.
    I agree that to do well, we need to keep clean sheets, but we find that very difficult, and we are prone to giving away corners and free-kicks in dangerous places, from which we then concede goals. If you have a tight defence, you can get away with not scoring many goals. Keep a clean sheet and the worst you can do is get a draw, but if you poke one in at the other end, three points beckon.
    Good defenders are cheaper to buy than good goalscorers.
    Still, I’ve got the bottles of malt whisky, some wine and some beer (whichever takes my fancy as the hour approaches) ready for Monday evening’s Transfer deadline scramble…. No crisps, I note, and not many snacks in the fridge. So forgetful when doing the shopping yesterday….

  14. Like many exiles, I rely on twitter and reports to get a feel for how things are going.
    There is clearly improvement in several areas since the latter part of last season – let’s face it, it would be difficult to do worse. The consensus seems to be that team cohesion and balance looks better and we’re very close to having a decent team. The missing few pieces of the jigsaw are well known.
    That’s why I think the next 30 hours will be pivotal for this season.
    Boro played some good football in the early months of last season – probably better and certainly more consistent than so far this term. It all crumbled after Christmas. The common view is that injuries took their toll. That cannot have helped but, in my opinion, the lack of goal power was the biggest factor that undermined the team.
    As is happening now, I watched Boro in so many games in which they looked great, dominated the game, failed to capitalise and then folded to a sucker punch (17 games watched and not a paltry, single point). The game at Cardiff was a classic example. I believe that eventually took its toll on team spirit and self-belief. You’d have to superhuman not to let that get to you: ‘it doesn’t matter how well we play, we can’t kill them off so they’ll score eventually and beat us.’
    If anything, so far this season we’re not playing as well. Yes, we look better balanced, tighter at the back (except to set pieces) and more combative in MF. We’ve got more pace and width with two wingers. BUT WE STILL CAN’T SCORE. We still can’t capitalise on all that domination to kill the game off.
    For all his faults, at least Scotty weighed in with goals, especially in the first half of the season. The previous season, he was joined by Emnes who for a while looked the real £3.5m deal. There is nobody in the current squad that you’d fancy to get even into double figures.
    Unless we sign a consistent scorer, preferably two, all the good work of the closed season will come to nothing. Without a 15-20 goals forward, preferably purchased but a loanee if necessary, everything else will be window-dressing. The players (and us) will sooner rather than later go through the same demoralising, disempowering process that they did last year.
    Having said that, I fully agree with the view that we’re not far short. Give us a predator, a playmaker and preferably also commanding CH and we will be in the mix at season’s end.

  15. The first half was painfully predictable. The line-up, formation, tactics, inept defending of a set-piece; everything was easy to predict and Sheffield Wednesday had us figured out before the game even kicked off.
    The second half, however, was a massive improvement. I don’t know what Mowbray gave the players during the break, but I want some of it. After going in at half time looking dejected and out of ideas, they re-emerged for the second half looking inspired, eager and full of confidence.
    Finally being able to capitalise on our complete control of the game, Boro created numerous chances and made the game ooze excitement. It’s just a shame Carayol decided to lay down where the ball was going to land blocking Leadbitter, the referee wasn’t interested in giving a pretty clear penalty, Friend wasn’t more composed after jinking his way to goal, the crossbar wasn’t a few inches higher, and Halliday couldn’t manage to direct his otherwise perfect header into the net. The chances were being created and that is promising.
    A lack of striker on the bench hampered our chances. The Juke of Refereeing Injustice was a beaten corpse before the end of the game but had to battle on due to us lacking a replacement.
    I understand Main’s need for regular first team football, but I don’t understand the timing of his loan. Main is a player who isn’t fazed by a knock. He’s quick, powerful, direct and determined. His presence would have made Wednesday’s bulldozers of centre halves cry. Especially amid all the crying out for a new striker, why loan our only back up centre forward out before a replacement is brought in?
    The lack of a fresh target man/centre forward was the only disappointment for me. Everything else looks as if it is coming together nicely. Boro are looking like a force to be reckoned with and it’s pleasing to see. Hopefully a couple of new faces will come in to sure up the squad and help us become a dominant force for the rest of the season.

  16. Main gone to Shrewsbury along with Reach? As the Meadow is less than an hour from me, I might become a regular.
    I went to see Reach’s debut for Shrewsbury. He looked a class apart for much of the game. Somebody commented that, if Boro can afford to loan him out, they must have some damn good players.
    However he did fade in the last half hour, which was probably understandable for a youngster’s first game for a new club. He has the potential to terrorise this division, akin to what Downing did with Sunderland all those years ago.

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