Thursday, 3 November 2011

It's Not The End Of The World As We Know It... And We'll Be Fine

As I get this blog up and running, it looks like we Boro fans can afford to smile again. We made a very welcome return to winning ways on Tuesday night.

But is this really a return to form after Saturday's reality check, or is this only a temporary respite? The way things are going at the minute, I'm thinking it could be the latter.

Nothing from last night's victory convinced me that (a) our momentum hadn't gone and (b) we might not be strong enough for automatic promotion after all. Painful as it is to admit, the 3-0 scoreline on Saturday flattered us. But for Steele it might have been double that, or worse. Matthew Bates was a shadow of the leader we know he can be. What exactly was he doing in the run up to that third goal? And our attacking "prowess" brought back memories of the worst of the Strachan days. Let's just say that at the moment, McDonald's to goal-scoring what his namesake is to fine food.

It's tempting to say that the Moggalution has merely brought us back full circle from the final days of Gareth's reign, if not worse. The stats are frighteningly similar: Five wins out of the first seven games, followed by 2 league wins in the next 8 (okay, it was 2 in the next 6 two years ago), low attendances, a thin squad, over-reliance on one player in attack (for Johnson, read Emnes), a sobering hammering from fellow "promotion challengers"... it gives you a bit of deja vu, doesn't it?

But that would be a disservice to all the good work Mogga has done in restoring our faith in the team. (I don't need to discuss that here - this says it all.) No, all the Saints game illustrated is exactly what the West Brom thrashing illustrated two years ago - we're a good side, we're just not quite as good as we think we are.

It's really a bit like Northern Ireland, isn't it? Inspired by David Healy's unexpectedly rich scoring streak, they ran the heavyweights Spain and Sweden right to the wire in qualification for Euro 2008. Now thanks to a similar streak from Emnes, we're doing the same to Southampton and West Ham regarding the automatic promotion places.

And alas, like Northern Ireland, running them close is probably all we'll be able to do. Can we boast a fluidity, or home record, to match Southampton's? And do we have the resources, or the fan base, to lure the Kevin Nolan's, John Carew's and Carlton Cole's of this world to play in the Championship? While it's true that West Ham's inconsistency gives us a bit of hope, there's surely too much quality in their side for them to miss out on the top two.

Of course, only time will tell if I'm right. Onwards and upwards.

* * * * *

There's little I can say about Doncaster's Billy Sharp that hasn't already been said, both eloquently and poignantly, by the Evening Gazette's Anthony Vickers in his own blog.

But if I was to find words most appropriate for the tragedy, they would come from a Facebook status update, tipped off to me by Liam Marshall on the MFC Facebook page. I'll paraphrase slightly.

"Look at Carlos Tevez... £250,000 a week, refuses to play because he doesn't feel up to it. Now contrast him with Billy Sharp... £10,000 a week, yet played two days after the tragic loss of his two day old son. We need more footballers like the latter and less like the former."

It's at times like these you realise football is only a game.

RIP Louie Sharp.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

Good stuff Si. Saw that Tevez/Sharp tweet the other day and thought the same - Billy Sharp is a man among boys in terms of maturity and professionalism...