BRIGHTON rocked. Twice. Boro soaked up the pressure – and rode their luck at times – then broke out to score two well worked goals. Keep it clean, take the chances: that is exactly what Aitor Karanka has been working towards. The 2-0 win was a glimpse of a new improved Riverside recipe… now with added goals!
BORO are suffering an existential crisis as the season splutters out into a long tail of meaningless. Football’s self-appointed philosopher-king Joey Barton would have appreciated the atmosphere of alienation and angst when he visited the Riverside with QPR on Saturday.
Boro are a club suffering from a profound sense of dislocation, adrift in circumstances beyond their control and seeming powerless to control their own destiny or even explain their own situation. The match went beyond reason and descended into confusion and the absurd.
For a bright spell in the first half Boro looked to be in charge of their own destiny. Then they were undone in a freak moment of fate beyond comprehension or rational explanation. It was a cypher for a season that has left fans feeling powerless to understand the logic or direction of the world they exist in. It has been a season that for long spells felt like a joke at our expense.
IT WAS SCRAPPY as hell but still entertaining as Boro twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at Huddersfield. After months without an away goal that felt like a decent result.
Sluggish starters Boro were behind in the third minute as former Boro slapstick step-over merchant Adam Hammill scored – naturally – then again as one timed mooted transfer target Nahki Wells dipped in a cracking goal but both times Albert Adomah squared it up, first rounding the keeper then lashing home a sizzler down the middle. That’s 11 now.
The positives were that Boro fought back from behind; that after the break changed the tempo and flow of the game by making an attacking tweak (the direct Tomlin for conservative Chalobah) ;that they scored their first away goals in seven games since the 2-0 win at Blackpool on January 11; that Albert looked a lively and influential figure again as he got his first goals of the year and finally appeared to be back on song after a disrupted start to the year; seeing a bunch of kids on the bench; George was good again; and the fans.
The negatives were a very slow and disjointed start; the frequent sloppy balls that conceded possession in dangerous areas; gifting two goals to a limited side that have struggled to score of late; losing that impregnable clean sheet aura with five leaked in two games ;another ineffective show from isolated Danny Graham; and making Adam Hammill look good;
It was low on quality it has to be said as both sides competed to give the ball away more often and in more dangerous areas as the mistakes piled up. All four goals came from woeful individual errors: poor touches, way ward square passes cut out, ill judged and poorly executed backpasses, cheaply conceded throws… it wasn’t one for the purists. But hey, this is a mid-table Championship dead-rubber between ailing sides. It was never going to be El Classico.
Tired now. More later…
BORO came Acropolis as Dimi suffered a Greek tragedy. A stoppage time bobble blunder handed QPR a 3-1 victory that looked very unlikely when rampaging Friendinho got the opener.
BORO took to a sun drenched pitch wearing a brilliant all white third kit.
I didn’t even know Boro had a third kit, much less that it was white. It was eye-catching and very nice but seemed a strange choice and another unforced change to the line up. The normal blue away strip is far from being a retina burning colour clash with Bournemouth’s red and black.
For a few moments there Aitor Karanka must have felt right at home as the fans whacked on Factor 30, squinted against the dazzling Costa glare and got ready to cheer on their gleaming heroes in bright white shirts.
But if the unfamiliar strip was cunning subliminal psychlogical trickery geared to inspiring Boro’s Galacticos to play like his former side Real Madrid it didn’t work.
OBVIOUSLY I will be a car most of this evening so no time for a blog on the latest exciting episode of mighty Boro Nil’s bid to grind out goalless draws from now until may… 11 in 16 now and 14 for the season.
But you feel free to crack on and I’ll publish as soon as a I can (midnight?)
THERE was plenty of post-match anger and wounded screams of “we was robbed” after Boro’s long time Arch Nemesis Darius Henderson grabbed a point with his Hasselbainkesque handball finish in the 1-1 draw with Forest.
But Boro have only themselves to blame. They weathered an early storm – Dimi made two good saves in the first half as Forest looked sharper and more hungry – and they managed to claw themselves into the lead after the Naughty Step Siblings Albert and Muzzy combined for a well engineered opener… but then they missed a string of golden chances to kill the game off and then got caught cold late on with a sucker punch. Literally.
CEREAL striker Golden Graham wrote his way into the history books as the man who ended Boro’s record breaking goal drought with not one but two tasty goals against Ipswich.. Yes TWO goals. In one game. It’s a new age of entertainment.
He was in the right place at the right time to rifle home the opener and while the floodgates didn’t exactly burst open, we were at least paddling in penalty box potency as a second before the break made it felt like a glut of goalmouth action.
And now, after two months of frigid agony over our on-going EIO deprivation we can do away with the clocks and calculators and record books and get back to more mundane post-match moaning. Thank God.
**Cereal Thriller… Danny Graham image via @ksjunior_junior on twitter
PLAN B? The arrival of Craig Hignett at Aitor Karanka’s No 2 has been dismissed in some quarters as a retreat from the early intention when the new boss was installed to quickly appoint an assistant manager that could help him bridge the cultural gap.
Some people think it is some kind of PR stunt to deaden the impact of a seven game goal drought by bringing in a fans favourite as part of a damage limitation exercise. Worse still, some conspiracists see the arrival of the one time Midget Gem midfielder as the opening move in an elaborate shadowy plot that has the end game of Karanka’s exit.
In fact it is intended to strengthen Karanka’s position by adding to the skill set and knowledge base of the management team. It adds an English ingredient to the matchday mix and an acute awareness of the nuances of both the club and the division. That was always pencilled in. It may be several months later than intended and it may not be the name most expected, but this is Plan A
SUNDERLAND losing the League Cup final at Wembley was by far Boro’s best result of the season so far.
And that is not just a sad, small-minded Schadenfreude. It’s not twisting the knife.
It’s just pointing out that the result leaves Boro still well placed in the delicate balance of power that is the Tyne-Tees bantersphere.