Monthly Archives: February 2014

Shot-stopping Scapegoat Steele Stepping Into Shay’s Shadow?

SHAY Given has left some pretty big gloves to fill. When Boro go to Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend the keeper will be playing under a massive shadow.
A staggering 10 clean sheets in 16 games with fans’ favourite Given in goal has raised the bar to Premier League levels. And raised expectations too. The shut-out success of Shay’s stay will heighten the intensity and volume of the stinging criticism that will be no-doubt fired in from all angles at his successor.
Welcome back Jason Steele.

Continue reading Shot-stopping Scapegoat Steele Stepping Into Shay’s Shadow?

Record Breakers: Blunt ‘Boro Nil’ Planning Open Topped Bus Parade

DAMN you Jack Butland! Three good saves from the on-loan Leeds keeper condemned Boro supporters to another bout of self-flagellation and angst after yet another goalless draw. Three on the bounce now at home now. That Zen of Boro Nil thing is really coming along nicely
In isolation it wasn’t a bad display. Not the worst anyway. The defence was rock solid and the Championship’s top scorer and one time Boro transfer target Ross McCormack was safely tucked in Woody’s pocket for most of the game while Shay never had a save to make (bar the one he tipped onto the post after the whistle had already gone).
And Boro created a couple of great chances: Adomah chested one down in the box and whacked it straight at the keeper, Graham put in an overhead shot that bounced kindly into Butland’s hands after Kamara had spooned one from close range when he failed to connect cleanly and there were a couple that went high or wide. And the keeper did well to tip over from Butterfield and make a great reflex save to prevent an own goal when defender Warnock almost stabbed in a Friend cross.
But of course, it isn’t in isolation. It is now a record breaking six games, 615 minutes, TEN AND A QUARTER hours without a goal. A whole month. I’ve seen every minute of that and believe me it feels like a whole lot longer. Had it been filmed in moody black and white it would have felt like one of those arty existentialist movies about the unremitting pain and suffering and mundanity of everyday life, With Basque sub-titles. You could cry.
Record-breaking Boro eased to the all-time league non-scoring record after just two minutes as they passed the 527 minutes of empty ineptitude of Gareth Southgate’s relegation bound side in 2009. Then after 68 minutes they made it a limp double, claiming the all competitions record too as they cruised beyond the 593 minute mark of John Neal’s side in 1978.
You’ve got to take the positives so I’m looking forward to the open topped bus parade after that double record breaking display.
That said, Boro now look rock solid and that is a positive. As well as not scoring they are not leaking. Boro have conceded just one goal at home under Karanaka and ten clean sheets in 16 games is a concrete platform to build on next term – if the boss can address the business end as successful as he dealt with the fragile rearguard.,
They created chances today (especially but not only after the introduction of Adomah) and that is a positive too. It is not true to say that Boro are completely toothless. They had three good opportunities blocked and a couple spurned.
And there were some very good individual displays – Woody, Friend, Omeruo, Chalobah and Butterfield were all excellent. It is nice to have a headache in dishing out the coveted Gazette stars.
But that will be a hard sell to people who barely remember a goal.

Boro’s Shot Shy History Makers

TWO minutes from history…. as discussed previously, mighty Boro stand on the verge of an unwanted record. The current bunch of shot-shy wasters have forced us to endure a 525 minute goal drought and have closed in on Gareth Southhgate’s relegation-bound faint-hearts who managed 527 minutes (a mark reached with a 0-0 draw with Wigan – the day Cattermole crocked Digard – on this very day in 2009 incidentally).
If they can manage to not score before 68 minutes, then they will take the all time all competitions record of 593 minutes set in August and September 1978.
Anyway. let’s have a sweep stake.

Continue reading Boro’s Shot Shy History Makers

Blunt Boro Two Minutes From History

IF BLUNT Boro don’t score straight from kick-off against Leeds they face the prospect of being branded the most shot-shy side in our long and not always glorious history. And let’s be honest, there is plenty of competition.
By popular demand – well, a couple of pleading e-mails from people outside Gazetteshire anyway – here’s my Bigger Picture column on a toothless team on the verge of an unwanted limp landmark.
The clock is ticking…

Continue reading Blunt Boro Two Minutes From History

Karanka’s Watford Woes: Blunt Boro Flashback To Familiar Flaws

POSSESSION doesn’t win games. Goals win games. And mistakes lose them. That was an angry Aitor Karanka’s verdict at Vicarage Road after blunt Boro went down 1-0 in a flashback to an old frustrating fragility. He was seething that after edging the game, the
stalemate was broken by a self-destructive spot-kick slip-up of the kind he thought had been eradicated.
“We lost the game, we lost a player, we lost our identity, we lost a lot of things. Some players maybe think they’re better than they are,” he said. “The problem is the mistakes. It’s not the mentality or the capacity of my players because we played at 100 per cent.but 11 players, 10 players, when we don’t play like we can it’s difficult to win.”

Continue reading Karanka’s Watford Woes: Blunt Boro Flashback To Familiar Flaws

Bum Note: Boro Fall Flat At Doncaster

WELL that was a soul-sapping, shot-shy no-show by a toothless team struggling against the shackles of tedium.
The trip to Doncaster was another dismal goalless grind, another bout of frustrating, fruitless, sweaty labour. And with an eager Red Army ready to respond to a rousing display, it was a massive anti-climax.
But that is the Boro way. We should have known. It is ingrained in the club’s genome sequence: Whenever Boro travel in numbers, naive enough to expect success, events have a habit of kicking us in the teeth.
I suppose we should be grateful Boro didn’t lose.

Continue reading Bum Note: Boro Fall Flat At Doncaster