Rover And Out: Laboured Boro Swept Aside At Rainlashed Blackburn

ANY hopes of a football fairytale unfolding for Mark Venus ended as Jason Lowe’s sizzler curled in. It wiped away the Doncaster dividend and left Boro looking as just as fragile on the road as they were before the axe fell on Tony Mowbray.
Not that Boro’s 1-0 defeat at Blackburn fell into the Barnsley category. It didn’t. It wasn’t a woeful display. It wasn’t even particularly bad. It was just a bit flat and ordinary and after the high of the ‘Spirit of Teesside’ it felt like Boro had lost some fizz and momentum.


The team had a couple of changes with shaky George Friend returning at left-back, perhaps unfairly for Ben Gibson, and Jozsef Varga in for one of last week’s heroes Muzzy Carayol to firm up the midfield for an away game. That may make sense in tactical terms but changing the team that dismantled Donny was always going to be a hostage to fortune.
Boro worked hard enough and closed and tackled ferociously in midfield and high up the pitch and tried to pick their way through patiently but it was creaky and laboured. And there was little end product. Apart from a Kamara header that was fumbled around the post in the first half, their keeper never had a serious save to make. Boro never had any real bite.
In contrast Blackburn were far more direct and got the ball forward very quickly and but for three very good saves from Jason Steele – and a good header after he dashed out of his box – Boro may have been in far more trouble. There were good last ditch tackles from Friend and Williams too plus an amazing second half go-go-gadget telescopic leg as Ayala snaked out a foot from behind Rhodes to somehow scoop away.
Yes, the goal was “a worldy” – but on the balance of play Blackburn threatened more, were more successful in imposing their style and tempo and the game and played the rain-lashed conditions better. It was a fair result. Still, worked hard and it came down to Mogga’s “fine margins.” Boro almost held out for a draw and what would have been a good point – they have now taken just two points from the last six games on the road – and apart from some scary moments (there should have been a penalty) look a bit more solid and organised at the back.
But once they were behind they never looked like salvaging anything. They huffed and puffed and made some positive substitutions – Carayol and Jutkiewicz who tortured Blackburn came on as Boro switched to 442 and went a bit more direct but still never really threatened. Then in the closing stages Jacob Butterfield added a little bit more guile but to no effect. That was disappointing. For all the late pressure Boro did not look like scoring, not normally the problem.
The result has took some of the wind out of the sails of the Good Ship Venus but probably hasn’t changed the bigger picture. A win would have been great but wouldn’t have sealed the succession. A defeat is a blow but won’t force Steve Gibson to change his timescale.
A quick word on the supporters… the best part of 2,500 Boro fans made the trip and were fantastic. Again. None stop racket for the full 90. That the real Spirit of Teesside.

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56 thoughts on “Rover And Out: Laboured Boro Swept Aside At Rainlashed Blackburn

  1. Yes AV I’m sure the club are still looking to recruit in a few key positions but how much does that then leave in the budget for getting in a new manager and any changes to the backroom staff? I suspect not enough to pay wages in the region of £1m+ that a ‘top’ manager would expect.
    **AV writes: I got the distinct impression there was. We’ll see.

  2. Nigel –
    A lot of players were not available when Mogga took over, many were out with injury or came back and played a couple of games then disappeared again.
    Just from memory Williams, Taylor, McMahon, Flood, Thomson, Bates were all long term awol. McManus, Robson, McDonald, Hoyte were in and out. Emnes was away with fairies.
    Things did not turn round until February/March when Mogga was able to pick from a fittish squad. Barry Robson was asked why the turnaround in form and said the manager could pick from a fit squad.
    That is just from memory but I am certain we only had three players get over thirty games that season. It wasn’t all due to injuries.
    At least any new man has a largely fit squad so has a chance.

  3. Great story about Boro linking up with Atletico in todays paper.
    Good news for the club and well done to the guys who set that up. Hope the lads that go over make the most of it.
    Clearly it should have been done years ago with many different clubs but lets not stop a good story getting in the way of some overly harsh criticism!

  4. It’s dull at the moment.
    Managerless, the club is in a state of limbo as we lumber on, a little aimlessly, towards the next match not knowing what to expect for the future.
    I need something. Something to get behind. I need to hear we have a plan and what it is. What the goals are and how we’re going to get there.
    Gibbo should take all the time he needs to get it right but this waiting… ugh.

  5. Andy R
    That is the problem with modern media, we expect to have wall to wall news.
    And we have an international snore fest coming up.

  6. A difficult time for Steve Gibson. Apart from Karanka, about whom I know little, none of the managerial candidates so far discussed possesses the kind of background, experience, philosophy, intelligence, and affinity with the area of the man we have just sacked.
    I fear for the next few months. Since lack of leadership on the pitch has been one of our major problems this season, uncertainty surrounding the managerial (and other?) positions, followed by a necessary period of bedding in, can only exacerbate our difficulties.
    Nikeboro voiced my own sentiments precisely. Half-time at Barnsley definitely felt like a tipping point. Something was afoot. The manager did not leave his seat in the dugout throughout the first half as goal after goal went in. It seemed as though he had already relinquished the reins. AV, do you have any explanation for this?
    Yet I have seen Boro play worse than that – at Forest, for example -and go in leading at the interval. We pressed Barnsley high up the pitch, looked in no danger and missed an absolute sitter. But there followed an excellent individual goal, a terrible deflection, and a penalty, and even Barnsley fans could not believe the scoreline.
    Whatever the extenuating circumstances, we were 3-0 down to the bottom team. Funnily enough I did not believe that the game was yet lost. An early goal and we would be right back in it. But the game was up for Mowbray, though the violent abuse hurled at him by some supporters was inexcusable, given his commitment and hard work, to say nothing of his iconic place in the club’s history. A shameful episode all round.
    Mr Venus seems like a pleasant enough chap and I wish him well. His interviews so far have lacked conviction, however. He seems to be uncertain that he is the right man for the job. He is not a natural communicator, and is uncomfortable in front of the cameras. These are not peripheral skills, as some believe. Motivating your staff and supporters by communicating your ideas clearly and with passion are going to be central to the team’s future success.
    In the past Steve Gibson has done brilliantly in his choice of managers. I say this because, at the time the decisions were made, the successful candidates all seemed to me to be probably the best available options on the evidence available. This is all that one can ask. But it does fly in the face of the general tendency to judge decisions with the benefit of hindsight. Such judgements are neither fair nor justifiable, and should themselves be judged with the scepticism they deserve.
    For myself I see no outstanding candidates on the horizon. I do not envy Mr Gibson his task. But on past evidence he may do something that will surprise us all.
    As Boro supporters we should understand the constraints under which he is working, support to the hilt the decision he makes, and not look to be slinging mud if things do not immediately go according to plan. After all, the uncertainties of our current situation were actively produced by criticisms of the previous manager that were long-standing, and all too frequently intemperate and ill- informed.
    Good luck, Steve.

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