Thursday, 9 February 2012

Class Tells - But Let's Accentuate The Positive

"You've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and latch onto the affirmative. Don't mess with Mr. In-Between!"

-- Johnny Mercer

So, Martin O'Neill has outfoxed us in the cup again, just like he did fifteen years ago. Only this time, there is no reason for us to feel devastated. In fact, fans are proud of the team tonight. And why shouldn't they be?

Yes, man for man, Sunderland were technically superior to us, so you could argue that it was only a matter of time before class told, even as we played out of our skins. Yes, they were swifter and sharper. Yes, they were less sloppy with their passing. And yes, when we left a couple of gaps open for them, they had players - on this occasion, Colback and Sessegnon - waiting to exploit them ruthlessly. It's enough to leave you wondering how different things might have been if we'd had a full team available.

Or if we'd wrapped up the game when we had the chance, at the Stadium Of Light.

But then, if we'd done so, we wouldn't now be hailing one of the most gallant cup performances from any Boro side in recent times. And I think that was very much due to the communal nature of the display, which saw eight academy graduates - plus a teenager signed on a free from Darlington - take to the field during the course of the evening. The all round strength, spirit and understanding among these players helped them all to play above themselves. In particular, Jason Steele's confidence, the sight of Joe Bennett running with the ball like he used to, Curtis Main's grafting and Adam Reach's crossing can only leave one optimistic.

Better still, our attack may not now be as much as a problem area as I feared it would be. Marvin Emnes is looking like his old self again, despite his lack of fitness, and Main was unlucky not to score. But, most significantly, Lukas Jutkiewicz finally got on the score sheet in a Boro shirt - and it was well worth waiting for. What a well taken goal it was - and it was scored live on national TV, in front of a big Riverside crowd, at a time when I wondered how we would possibly get back into the game. This could be an unprecedented boost for both The Juke's own confidence and the whole team's. (Indeed, I'm not ashamed to admit I over-celebrated a little when the goal went in. But didn't you?)

See, it pays to "accentuate the positive". Now, how about another listen to that song?


Anonymous said...

How can you say Emnes is looking like his old self. He was shocking. Its been months since he had a good game. Cant seem to find a red shirt with any pass. Overall though you are so right. We need to look at the positives here and plenty of them. Curtis Main was great. Bennett running at players like he used to and great performances from williams and smallwood. Adam Reach also looks like he is going to be a hot prospect.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I admit I probably got a little carried away regarding Emnes. I was just happy to see him causing some sort of a threat by running fearlessly at defences once more. That, and from what I saw, he didn't seriously put a foot wrong. I was also willing to cut him some slack, I think, because he wasn't fully fit. Perhaps "showing signs of his old form" might have been more appropriate?