Thursday, 16 February 2012

Boro Finally Fell Tricky Trees And End Weeks - No, Years - Of Hurt

We've been waiting for this moment for a long time. And it was well worth it. A cold city in the north* experienced a mixture of elation, relief and occasional uncertainty this Valentine's Night. But said night ended on a high, leaving everyone very happy and looking towards a brighter future.

No, I'm not talking about Derry and the opening of its new Ebrington Square. Though I could be. Because both Derry and Boro have had their fair share of trouble since the turn of the year. However, as a flicker of hope emerged again in the North West of Ireland, so too did one in the North East of England.

It really is impossible to overstate the value of Boro's victory over Nottingham Forest. We've gotten used to good results since Tony Mowbray entered the Boro hotseat - arguably too used to them. Hence it's easy to forget that before Tuesday night, we hadn't won a league game in 2012 - or beaten Forest in a home match since 1973.

What possibly could have inspired us to break such a hoodoo, one that we would have broken last year but for Dele Adebola's intervention (which still stings)? I have a few ideas.

Every Boro striker has their "Tuncay moment". You know the story - we sign a striker who seems to have quite an impressive pedigree, but either (a) he looks lacklustre on his Boro debut or (b) he goes days, or months, without scoring. It makes you wonder what all the fuss was about. But then, he scores a goal that diverts the course of his Boro career. For Tuncay, it was his equaliser against Reading in December 2007. For Lukas Jutkiewicz, well... it was that equaliser against the Mackems. It had to be. Yes, we lost, but I knew that to score a goal during such a well-attended game, against one of our bitterest rivals, would do the world of good for his confidence. And the Juke has built on that with resilient play, a good touch and another "hugely satisfying" (thank you, Andrew Glover), not to mention crucial, goal. It's too early to tell whether or not he will reach double figures by the end of the season, but at the moment, he is filling the void left by Scott McDonald's unfortunate injury very nicely.

I also have a feeling that the players must have been inspired by the return of Bates and Haroun from injury, as well as the imminent return of Robson and Bailey to first team action. It's kind of reminiscent of that never-to-be-forgotten trouncing of Jose Mourinho's champions just over six years ago, where, even though he wasn't playing to begin with, George Boateng's presence on the bench seemed to give the team an extra "kick". As has Jason Steele's form, Marvin Emnes's goal (deflected, schmeflected - think of what it could mean for his form) and the continuing rise of Curtis Main. (Pity he's from Newcastle.)

Of course, however, it did infuriate me that yet again, we insisted on making things difficult for ourselves. What if Adlene Guedioura's thirty-five yarder had gone in? Then there was Kevin Thomson and his sending off. After the Forest match, it's not hard to see why Thomson would enjoy playing for a club like ours - he never seems to make things easy for himself, nor has he consistently fulfilled his supposed potential. He's a perpetual case of "could do better". In short - Typical Boro!

But hey, since when have we done things the easy way? Ah well. We can only hope things will change for the better! And I'd say that after Tuesday night's result - not necessarily the performance - we have every reason to hope.

Onwards and upwards!

* * * * *

*Yes, I know Middlesbrough is not a city. But we'll call it one for the sake of this analogy. Besides, it could well become one in the very near future.

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