Robbing Hood? Henderson Hands Controversial Point To Forest

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.


It shouldn’t have come to that. Carayol almost curled in a replica second then Danny Graham first stabbed against the post from four yards then chested down in the box to create a perfect opening only to don his banana boots and screw well wide.The game should have been wrapped up long before Henderson – no stranger to using his fist – got ahead of Gibson to a cross to scoop home.
After the game there was a Teesside tunnel huddle as we all – coaches and press plus Boro TV kingpin Adam Nolan who had the master-tapes – watched it over and over. You can watch it here.
It looked like he’d been caught red handed but in real time and from where the ref was stood makes it a very hard call to make – although it’s fair to say Dimi was convinced. His sprint upfield in pursuit of the ref to remonstrate about the great injustice would have given pre-match medal wielder Richard Kilty – “the Teesside Tornado” – a real run for his money over 40 metres while Ben Gibson was adamant afterwards that it had been steered in illegally.
That was Karanka’s main evidence. “I didn’t need to see the replays… the reaction of my players was enough for me. It is for the Forest player to explain if it hit his hand or not… but I think it was handball, for sure. You could see from the reaction of my players, from Dimi and from Gibbo too that that they thought it was handball. Dimi would not have chased the referee to complain if he wasn’t sure and I trust 100% in these players.”
And it is fair to say too that this picture from the Nottingham Evening Post looks damning.
handy.png-png
As scorer Henderson – who has netted against Boro for Reading, Sheffield United, Millwall and Forest – was wheeled out for a pitchside interview and the first question he was asked was: did that go in off your hand. Cue a shift-eyed, sheepish and guilty sounding response: “To be honest it all happened so fast and I don’t know if it hit my shouldler my thigh, my hand or what part of my body.” No need for a polygraph on this one. If a ball is zipped in you know exactly which part of your body it has hit. Unless that failure to feel and control sensation in his various appendages explains his ineptitude in every other game he plays except against Boro.
At least Sheffield Wednesday keeper Chris “it was miles over the line” Kirkland had the good grace to fess up after robbing Boro in a ghost goal horror at Hillsborough!.
Mind you, you have to admire the honesty of assistant David Kelly (doing the press as perma-seething Billy Davies is under a self-imposed press embargo following his latest banishment to the stands). “Ned” said: “At first look it seems as if he has hit it with his arm but I haven’t had time to ask Darius about it and to be honest I don’t really care.”
That said, Boro have only themselves to blame form the goal. After the best of 12 hours rigid Riverside defending that was a poor one to concede. Varga was too easily beaten down the flank to allow what looked a harmless trundle down the flank to become a dangerous one. Then when the cross came in Handerson too easily got goalside of Gibson – who had otherwise had an excellent game and was one of the better performers – to reach out for the ball. Could Dimi have done better? I’m not sure on that. But he shouldn’t have had to.
As I said, for all the righteous indignation over the moral content of the equaliser, it was a fair result. They could have been behind at the break then having got ahead failed to wrap it up and paid the price. So, a draw. But four points in two games against sides well above us in the league is not a bad return for a team that hadn’t scored for seven games going into the fixtures.
The big blow is missing out on equalling the club record for successive clean sheets. They got within 10 minutes of an eighth successive shut-out at home. Eleven hours and 54 minutes. That is incredible. The Forest goal was the first conceded at the Riverside since the 1-0 defeat to Brighton in mid-December. And it was the first goal from open play home or away since the defeat at Leicester. The only other goals leaked – at Watford and Sheff Wed – were penalties.
All the attention has been on the goal-drought for weeks now and the fantastic record at the other end has gone under the radar even though the watertight back-line could have more long lasting significance for the future shape and prospects of the team.
****
THE EXTENT of the Riverside revolving door was stark when looking at the team sheet from the same fixture in April last year.
The only player who started that match and at the Riverside last night was Mustapha Carayol, who netted the goal in a scrappy 1-0 win that temporarily slammed the breaks on their headlong rush towards the relegation zone.
Of the other the 14 players that featured in that game only Jason Steele, on the bench, was involved while Rhys Williams is crocked. All the others are no longer at the club.
Andy Halliday is on loan at Blackpool and Richie Smallwood is at Rotherham but the rest have gone in a major cull. At the back Andre Bikey and Justin Hoyte have been moved on, a borrowed midfield trio of Keiron Dyer, Josh McEachran and Sammy Ameobi have all been returned to sender and up front ace striker Scott McDonald – former Messiah and stick to beat the boss with – has disappeared into Millwall’s reserves. That is some clear out.
Even the subs used that night are no longer available. Adam Reach is on loan at Bradford, Faris Haroun has been unloaded to Blackpool and ginger human shield Nicky Bailey has joined the former Boro contingent at the New Den.
***
THEIR dug-out may have lacked Billy’s fury but there was still plenty of Forest fire on show.
The short-fused Forest boss was in the stands serving one of his frequent touchline bans but that didn’t take the sting out of the technical area. Assistant David Kelly was suffering from burning ears as he spent as much time answering his mobile phone – and holding it well away from his lug while wincing – as he did pointing and shouting at his players.
Clearly it was the boss on the blower. You could almost see those cartoon squiggles indicating angry shouting radiating at the other end. And it clearly got to Kelly as he became more animated as the game wore on.
At one point in the first half the slight but spiky former striker squared up with Boro’s burly goal-keeping coach Leo Percovic after a tackle by Jamie Mackie almost snapped Jozsef Varga in half right in front of the dug-outs. Staff from either side and the fourth official had to haul them apart.

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28 thoughts on “Robbing Hood? Henderson Hands Controversial Point To Forest

  1. It really is head shaking Vic ,when you think of most of the signings that the club have made for too long, Where are they now?
    Even last night,not one of ex-players at Mllwall in the squad, Haroun and Osbourne on the Blackpool bench, others in the lower leagues. The Scottish players? Well £2m Thomson’s last game for Hibs was against some shipyard team
    I could go on. Its a wonder anyone is going to watch anymore and we are supposed to believe. How many times have we been knocked back by honest journey men like Henderson did last night
    What should the strategy be for next season,maybe stack the squad with half a dozen seasoned veterans. I don’t know anymore (as he shakes his head).

  2. I wasn’t at the game so judging from that footage it’s clearly a handball but: our full back should never have allowed the cross in and Gibson was behind the play – both are capital crimes against defending.
    I’m sure if I’d been there I’d have been seething with righteous indignation and furious with our back line but at this distance I can be more sanguine about it.
    Most seasons I’d be happy with a home draw against the Trees, pre-season and I would have taken it if offered. It also means I can finally and comprehensively stop dreaming of the play offs. Until we win our next game of course.
    I’m impressed with our defensive parsimony, I’m optimistic about our prospects up front.

  3. All I can say is that I am pleased we are well clear of the bottom three. Decisions, or lack of them, at Leicester, Wednesday and home to Forest are the things that separate you from the pack.
    Other clubs get dodgy decisions as well but those are the types of thing that mean you finish in the bottom three rather than just outside or in the play offs rather than automatic promotion.
    If you looked at Leicester’s season closely I am sure the balance of the decisions has gone their way. You finish in the part of the table your season merits, a couple of places higher or lower probably depends on the balance of poor decisions.
    Apart from the fact I hate us not winning the fact we got a point doesn’t disappoint me. It sounded as if defeat would have been unfair on Forest.

  4. Pretty dire stuff tonight if I’m honest.
    Forest were faster, meaner, keener, hungrier and had more drive, belief and passion. It meant something to them. Our Lads lurned up expecting a stroll I think.
    Varga was skinned on numerous occasions and Manu was, well back to being Manu, headless, chasing in circles but ineffective. Varga in fairness did get a couple of sublime tackles in but he was horribly exposed most of the game. George on the other side was under a bit of pressure himself and was forced into some rushed clearances.
    Tomlin looked to be having a bright game but his early injury put paid to any creativity in Midfield. Grant put a decent shift in and was for me the MOM, Chalobah alongside looked like a teenager at 11.00 am, still in bed half asleep and shocked that he had to wake up and put a bit of effort in. Ben and Ken were really busy as theTrees were flooding down the flanks and charging through the middle seemingly at will.
    Dimi had me edgy and twitchy for the first half hour when he seemed a bit hesitant and anxious but warmed into the game and looked better as the game wore on. At one point in the 1st half Ben was on the floor yelling at Dimi to hold onto the ball and kick it out while he received some treatment but Dimi was oblivious to Bens gesticulations.
    The fact that his CB was on the floor right in front of him and he didn’t hear or see him worried me. Dimi rolled it out to George and put us immediately under pressure, not clever for an experienced keeper in his mid thirties.
    Muzzy was well shackled and neither he nor George enjoyed too much freedom. Danny up front must have put more miles in than anyone on the pitch tonight chasing, charging, harrying but to no avail.
    I was disappointed to see Manu in the line up as I thought his game on Saturday was drifting towards being poorer the longer the game went on. Had Albert been in the same situation that Manu had in the first half when he almost cleared the roof of the South Stand from ten yards out I think we would have had a different game.
    In fairness Forest deserved to win if application and work-rate was the measure so to get a draw wasn’t so bad. The manner was frustrating yet again, we were mugged by “Handerson” with ten to go. That said had Muzzy taken his carbon copy second chance of the night or Danny been three inches further to his right when he hit the post near the end it could have been daylight robbery to the Boro.
    Poor Officiating let us down again, these things don’t even out, just of late there was Leicester, Wednesday and now Forest with dubious decisions all against us.
    For the neutrals it was a decent game with plenty of intent but we never really looked like wanting it enough and that’s something Aitor and Higgy will need to work on. We were second and even third at times to loose balls all night and it never got any better.

  5. I know its probably a futile gesture but does the club have any intention of protesting to the league (with video evidence) about the shocking decisions which have gone against us recently.
    Watching their goal , did the ref and linesman seriously think Henderson somehow let the ball hit his left thigh sending it with speed 180 degrees in the opposite direction? This bloke shouldn’t be anywhere near a football match ever again.

  6. “Forest were faster, meaner, keener, hungrier and had more drive, belief and passion. It meant something to them. Our lads turned up expecting a stroll I think.”
    This is a bit harsh I think, I didn’t see anything wrong with our effort last night – we pressed well generally and on some occasions really pushed them back into their own half. I just think we played a much better team than Ipswich.
    I think we deserved to edge it on balance of play and chances, though we could have easily been behind at half time.
    Their goal though is absolutely ridiculous. It’s blatant cheating and Henderson should be punished with a ban for that. There is no ambiguity whatsoever.

  7. Speaking to a Forest fan who pointed me in the direction of the Nottingham Evening Post.
    Their view?
    ‘Referee: Roger East. Failed to spot a clear handball from Darius Henderson, as he stooped to bundle home a cross from Andy Reid, but Forest will have few complaints about that.’
    Was it worse than diving? Interesting debate.
    If he was on the goal line and stopped a goal he would have been sent off.
    It is one of those things but it is difficult to think of Darius Handerson in the same league as Diego Maradona. More hand of dog!

  8. I’ve got to start with the controversial moment: Henderson’s goal.
    Seeing the reply rams home how shocking it is that neither the referee or his linesman managed to spot such a blatant handball. However, I don’t think that should scoop some of the blame away from Dimi (I’m not going to even attempt his surname) as he should have got his body behind it and saved it. You can blame amazement or surprise at the volleyball shot at him, but I still think it should never have beat him.
    But yeah… Handball and injustice!
    That brings me to something else: how does an ex-Hartlepool (no disrespect) free agent keep a player like Jason Steele out of the squad? People have their own opinions about Steele, but he is a player who has the potential to be Boro’s No.1 for the next 10+ years. I would love to see what Dimi does in training to keep Steele out of the squad.
    Steele’s absence from the squad raises a concern I have surrounding this reported overhaul of playing staff that is supposed to happen during the summer: an ousting of our own players for Spanish or other untested foreigners. Karanka comes across as a man who will not settle for anything less than what he wants. If people like the newly appointed Hignett don’t advise him well, I fear another Strachan-like squad rebuild.
    In Boro’s ranks are a few of talented young players: Steele, Smallwood, Reach, and L. Williams to name a few. It’s clear that Karanka likes Williams, but for the others who are out on loan, it could be a hard summer.
    Smallwood, part of the first team for the first half of the season playing quite well, is now at Rotheram; Reach, a player who has obvious talent and I believe should be on our bench instead of the inconsistent Ledesma, is away at Bradford. Karanka has already surprised a youth followers with his attempted sale of Matty Dolan. I just hope the players he ends up selling ate the deadwood, not the ones who are yet to reach their potential.
    I will state now that I am an extreme pessimist – every time I see a butterfly I fear it’s wings flapping could awake a dormant super-volcano. This is just what the deepest, darkest parts of my mind conjure up; I could, and hope I am, completely wrong.
    Having said all that, I cannot fault the way Karanka has this Boro side playing. Solid at the back, a midfield that is capable of controlling games, wingers in Adomah and Carayol who are possibly the best in the Championship, and Graham up front who, although is struggling of late, is a proven goalscorer. That balance of solidity and attacking threat make us very impressive; proved by the fact the first goal we’ve conceding in an age comes from a disgraceful bit of foul play.
    I love a good moan and have my fears about the future, but Boro are certainly on the right path.

  9. Not much to add really. We started poorly, with Forest pressing high up the pitch causing us endless problems, but after the break I thought we did enough to win it. We certainly created the chances and with a good striker .. next season could, just could be very promising.
    Terrible decision on the handball, it was easily spotted from my position in the West Upper, but the standard of officiating in the Championship is very poor. no point in complaining to the Football League .. they’d probably dock us 10 points….

  10. It all feels a bit like drumming up enthusiasm to comment on pre-season friendlies at the moment – I don’t even think George Friend will be talking up our chance of making the playoffs now.
    We’ve been on the wrong-end of bad decisions too many times to think a ten-game winning run is within the realms of possibility – so it’s unlikely that functional football will get many fans rushing to the Riverside on the off-chance of observing a entertaining game of football.
    I’m sure Karanka will keep everyone honest but I’m not expecting any surprise emergence of the unknown talents of one of our existing players.
    Graham may well score a few more but will equally miss as many sitters – he won’t be with us after the next ten games so his role is probably support at best . Hopefully Tomlin can settle in and avoid another prolonged absence though injury.
    It must also be Steele’s turn in goal now. I think Boro missed the opportunity to start with four different keepers in four consecutive games to get the national pub-quizzers scratching their heads and crying impossible.
    Anyway, I’m booked in to catch the Barnsley game when I’m over next – I hope it’s not going to be a eleven vs eleven in a pre-beach holiday training kickabout.
    I think we need to thrash someone soon otherwise will counting clean sheets replace counting sheep as the bedtime routine for insomniac Boro fans – dream on.

  11. Werdermouth –
    I am also going to come and see the Barnsley game (ant also the two previous games). How about a Beano before the match, AV?
    I comletely missed the Forest game due to business commitments. But was hoping for a result to keep our faint play-off dream alive.
    How is Tomlin now, anyone?
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: What do posters think? Anyone fancy a pint with Jaarko?

  12. Would have loved see Jaarko again, and to meet and have a pint with everyone, but am out of the country , unfortunately. One day…

  13. Not alot to add to the above comments but I do agree with Redcar Red that Forest were
    “Faster meaner keener hungrier and more drive belief and passion.”
    We started slow but got better as the game went on but too many times we gave the ball away far too easily then struggled to get it back,Forest were much better at retaining possession and passing it around and at times we made it unnecessarily hard for ourselves.
    The hand ball goal was a disgrace,should have been spotted by one of the officials,everyone else saw it! Are they not accountable for their mistakes? I find the standard of officials very poor,every week there are talking points from the game where blatantly obvious wrong decisions are made.
    And not just in our games but in others too. The two recent ones against us – the goal at Sheffield Wed that wasn’t given and the one against Forest – have cost us four points. If we had been abit higher up the league those four points could have been the difference between 6th and 7th place.
    Having said that on Tuesday we had enough chances to win that game before Forest equalised i.e Carayol and Graham!
    If they had taken them then we wouldn’t be talking much about that hand ball goal,too many times we have failed to see teams off and paid the penalty late on.
    Now to Bournemouth who have won three in a row!

  14. On Jason Steele – Maybe after the bromance with now boro legend Shay Given, Karanka has taken the decision that not playing Steele offers him a degree of protection. Imagine if he came straight back into goal, probably not fully fit, and dropped a clanger. The Steele haters would be shouting from the roof tops ad his confidence would be shot.
    Potentially not playing him now may prove to be a masterstroke whilst he regains full fitness and comes back absolutely firing. However, there is also the possibility that AK just doesn’t rate him.

  15. Don’t let the handball incident overshadow the real story of Tuesday night.
    An injury ravaged Forest team, in the midst of a bad run and running low on confidence pretty much played us off the park for long periods of the game. They did so, not by “pressing” or “defending from the front”, but by passing and keeping the ball much better than we did.
    It would have been a travesty if they’d gone home pointless and if they’d introduced Henderson and Reid earlier they would almost certainly have won.
    None of this is remotely surprising given that Forest have a substantially bigger wage bill than us and are fighting for promotion. They are in the top eight teams in the Championship while we are in the middle eight- quintessentially average and humdrum, capable of easily beating an equally mediocre Ipswich having an off day, but not good enough to challenge the elite.
    In our 11 games this season against the current top eight we’ve won just two. Not because of cheating strikers or unsighted officials but because we aren’t that good. It’s the harsh reality of where we are at the moment. Distictly mediocre, not able to manage more than 35% possession at home against a depleted Forest team.
    Whether Karanka can transform us to promotion contenders remains to be seen. If he’s going to, he would do well to learn the lessons that successful teams in this league teach us.
    We’ve talked previously about a significant core of key first team players that good championship teams possess. This season Leicester have used 11 players who have made more than 25 league appearances, Burnley 10; Boro can only boast five( Friend, Leadbitter, Whitehead, Adomah and Carayol). That’s nowhere near enough, in fact, no more than we had last season when the paucity of solid reliable pros was noted by Gibson and others in the now legendary boardroom chat.
    Increasing the hard core should be a main priority of Karanka. It will involve him buying players he trusts but he also needs to learn from the mistakes he’s made.
    Key players in a promotion team aren’t always the blokes who train the hardest. Did Paul Merson bust a gut day in day out? Was Bobby Murdoch king of the bleep test? I doubt it. Did they conserve their energy during the week so they could last a full season in a tough, demanding league? Most probably. Were they vital members of the team and pretty much irreplaceable? Damn right they were.
    I am sure our best players keep something in reserve in training , I certainly hope so else they’ve got no chance of lasting a 46 game league season. Are Leicester’s hardcore of 11 always the best 11 in training, of course not, but they are picked consistently because they are best 11 and consistency of selection breeds understanding, teamwork and confidence. Karanka’s training obsessed selection myopia can only do the opposite.
    You will also struggle for consistency if you max out with loanees. They are semi-detached with divided loyalties and potentially a bit half-hearted ( see Chalobah). For every good un (see Omeruo) there’s 5 duck eggs and successful teams at this level usually don’t have many. Again, see Leicester and Burnley for the proof.
    We have far too many loanees to the extent that we had the ludicrous situation of having to push through the Tomlin deal so we didn’t have too many in our starting eleven.
    Far better in the summer to concentrate on a couple of long term loans and to add 3 or 4 permanent transfers to those. I hope the mass cull and huge influx AV predicts doesn’t happen. That is very unlikely to produce the settled side we need. Once again we can learn from the current top two who did relatively little business in the summer opting for selective additions to build on steady foundations.
    Having made us difficult to beat I hope Karanka is sensible enough not to let misplaced dogma get in the way of further progress.

  16. Sounds like a good shout Jarkko – if the players can have an end of season dinner then I think an untypical end of season pint is in order – beachwear is optional I presume?
    Ian, I’d imagine Karanka’s strict regime probably wouldn’t allow for a player to have swift pint before kickoff – then again if our strikers could see two goals would they necessarily manage to find one of them?
    Though if he allowed it we could well end up with a fluid attack that included Lee Tumblin, Mustapha Carryout and Albert Oedema – which may create more than just selection headaches.
    **AV writes: Jozsef Vodka?

  17. Reading Paulista Park’s comments…
    ,
    On the one hand he states we are not good enough (midtable at best),and then blames Karanks training methods,
    I do agree with his assessment of the overall ideal of a promotion outfit but surely the least we should expect is a commitment to fitness and focus? Ii think one thing PP is missing is ,and Karanka indicated this,they are not Merson or Murdoch, far from it,and they arent good enough to dog it

  18. Paulista –
    The one thing that strikes me about your comments is that a lot of it could be levelled at Mogga but I don’t recall you posting in the same vein.
    Suddenly anything Karanka does is wrong and Moggs’s ‘legacy’ airbrushed from history.
    You mentioned league position and appearances, I recall being sat on the naughty step by an award winning journalist for posting the same idea as we went on that great run under Mogga after rescuing us from the Strachanite revolution.
    I agree with a lot of what you say but it appears you punish Aitor with stuff Mogga got away with.

  19. I completely agree with PP that a core of consistent, hard-nosed, Championship-experienced pros will get you a long way in this league. Eleven Grant Leadbitters will deliver more than eleven Chalobahs, regardless of the difference in potential and skill though a balance is always preferable.
    Finances will play a part though. Loans and inexperienced players are usually cheaper than the proven real deal.
    I disagree on his training/selection point. I think a manager’s system should dovetail with his methods. As Karanka is clearly insistent on work rate then I think he is right to select those who have earned it most in training.
    A consistency of selection can be important, but so is a consistency of the standards for selection and competition for places is always healthy. We have seen with the multiple changes at the back that chopping and changing doesn’t have to be counter-productive.
    I remain concerned about the quality of entertainment on offer, but equally I remain supportive of Karanka whilst he has had not a chance to fully implement his vision.

  20. I’m finding it difficult to whip up interest. I even forgot we had a mid-week game. We’re at the fag-end of a season with nothing to play for and only a mediocre team to watch.
    What did interest me was seeing the team and tactics take shape for next season. At least, it would if I could see it. About the only pattern that has emerged, from the outset, is that AK likes to keep things tight and play a pressing game.
    He made the defensive bit work pretty quickly (amazingly so, considering how porous and fragile we had been) but it’s difficult to see much else developing. We all know the approach has failed to produce goals.
    Similarly with the players – who’s in and who’s out? Hard to say – I’d be pushed to name anybody that’s nailed on to play next season. Several players have been picked consistently but, with the talk of a big clear-out, I find it hard to name anybody who’s safe. I can’t help thinking that any player on an above average wage and/or who could raise some money is at risk of being moved on, especially if a cheaper and/or better foreign player is available.
    So there’s nothing to play for; no discernable tactical pattern is emerging (other than the game plan that was established immediately); and I can’t see players grabbing the chance to ensure they’re here next season. Ho hum … sorry guys, my interest is drifting along with the season.
    What very much does interest me is a pint with my mate Jarkko. We’ve have yet to meet but I sense the vibes of a kindrid spirit emanating across the North Sea. I might have a longer journey than him but, if I can make it, I will. Count me in.

  21. PP –
    it’s the first post in a long while where I agree with most of what you have said.
    OK others will be able to assess the players overall performances better than I could and decide on who is going to be able to take us into that top eight group next season.
    But we know Karanka wants to play a possession based game and that will require players who are comfortable on the ball and can retain the ball and pass accurately on a consistent basis.
    Though obviously the point of retaining possession of the ball is two-fold – it stops the opposition from threatening your goal and (unless you’re a few goals clear and seeing out the game) ultimately creating chances to score.
    Also our players will need to be fitter to be able to execute for 90 minutes a pressing game when Boro don’t have possession – so players of a Merson disposition will no longer fit our desired profile anymore. However, our players will soon run out of energy if having worked hard to regain the ball they then lose possession too often through bad passing.
    The question still remains for me whether Boro can sign enough core players with our budget who are able to make Karanka’s La Liga methods come to fruition – it may well mean signing 4-5 normally unaffordable quality loanees who have the skills but still lack first team opportunities in the PL.
    If goal scoring opportunities are going to be of a premium, are the forwards at this level going to be clinical enough? Or are Championship level footballers always going to struggle to execute what is essentially a Champions League level method of playing?
    We really need to see some indication that keeping clean sheets is not achieved at the expense of creating chances as unless Boro acquire a true finisher it may be unlikely that we make any possession advantage during a game count.
    So given our season is effectively over Boro at least now have ten games to find out some of the answers and enthuse the supporters that we are on the right track – and not hopefully demonstrating we’re attempting a new dogmatic approach that is hard to execute effectively, which may continue to leave us short again next season.

  22. Haven’t seen the last few games, so I cannot, and should not presume to, comment upon them. But after the experience of McClaren, I’m a bit surprised that there has not been a little more scepticism about clean-sheet fetishism, its connection to the impotence of one of the most free-scoring attacks in the division, a failure to keep possession of the ball, a lack of imagination and creativity all round, and a general reduction in entertainment value. After all we have seen it before.
    I suspect that, as usual, Paulista Park has probably got it just about right.

  23. Andy R –
    Eleven Grant Leadbitters, as hard working as he is, would get you nowhere near the promotion places. They would just not deliver enough.
    There also appears to be more (are they the pro TM gang) against AK, than for him, on here at the moment?

  24. Pedro, count me as pro-AK.
    Mind you, I was a fervent supporter of TM (I loved the idea of Teesside manager, chairman, MD and backroom staff), even into this season, until enough was irretrievably enough. I was even keen on GS2 and was hopeful that the influx of Jocks would work out (internationals, record scorers – can’t fail, can it?). So I suffer from a lethal combination of loyalty and gullibility.
    AK of course is about as far as you can get from an all-Boro setup. Nevertheless he has my support and I live in hope that he will deliver the goods next season. He has already shown what he can do and made an impact. He quickly corrected the long-standing defensive weaknesses and, hopefully, the unbeaten run was a glimpse of what might lie ahead.
    However I share len’s concern. Has the defensive improvement been achieved only at the cost to our previously productive attack? I also think Werdermouth’s point was well made (you can feel the anxiety welling up, can’t you?). We know from elsewhere that the approach can work very well but it does require players of the right calibre and profile.
    After all, accurate passing and ball retention are not natural attributes of British footballers. As Werder points out, if you can’t hang onto the ball, you spend your time chasing it. At this level, and on our meagre budget, can we import enough quality to implement the plan effectively? We are going to find out just how good are AK’s contacts and SG’s new friends. It’s worth a try.
    I like AK’s clarity, organisation and disciplined approach (Muzzie soon responded). I believe there’s every chance we’ll be pushing for promotion by Xmas and he has my support until, like TM, such time as the experiment has failed and it is clear it cannot be made to work.
    **AV writes: “A lethal combination of loyalty and gullibility” …. that sounds like the natural state of most football fans. Throw in a bit of romance and/or cynicism and Bingo!.

  25. Lets face it another season in the championship,players not up to it and a mansger without experience.Another fine mess you’ve got us into Mr Gibson.

  26. Pedro –
    It wasn’t a literal suggestion. The point is that hard working, consistent performers take you further in the dour league.

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