Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Deserve's Got Nothing To Do With It...

I guess if there's one thing I learnt tonight, it's that "We Shall Overcome" - incidentally, a popular song among us Derry people - is an equally popular song amongst the Boro lads and lasses for good reason. But more on that later...

It doesn't seem so long ago that no-longer-marvellous Marvin Emnes was everyone's favourite player, and Nicky Bailey was deemed indispensable. Heck, I even called him Boro's Roy Keane. Yet during tonight's game, against Ipswich, fans were repeatedly calling for Emnes to be substituted. And before the match, there were calls for sicknote Thomson to start instead of Bailey! What is this world coming to?

But hey, we're Boro fans. And as much as the team tends to flip flop, I guess we like to flip flop too. Here's a team that can run Sunderland extremely close with an injury hit side and then surrender to Leeds with a virtually full-strength team. Only we could have strikers that play like Wayne Rooney one minute and then Michael Ricketts the next (and not just Emnes - Aiyegbeni Yakubu, I'm talking about you!). And only fans like me could urge other fans to stay positive one minute and then lament about the team's conservatism the next.

And of course, the moment I, or any other fans, join the ranks of the boo boys, we produce a performance that is totally out of keeping with our recent form. One that fits the "We Shall Overcome" mantra to a tee - a triumph over both idiosyncracy and injuries to claim a moral victory, if not an actual one.

The Ipswich match was a game of many heroes, particularly Jason Steele, who silenced the boo boys once and for all with a vital penalty save, and Lukas Jutkiewicz, who bounced back from a horror miss to get us all believing again with a crucial goal. But perhaps the most credit should be reserved for Tony McMahon and Nicky Bailey, who performed admirably in their roles as makeshift centre backs against a side renowned for outstanding home form. It would appear that, as was the case with the Sunderland match, injuries to important players gave us the extra motivation to battle against adversity. To play above ourselves.

Alas, Grant Leadbitter ensured the evening didn't have the fairytale conclusion we hoped for, but considering everything - Ipswich's home record, our very poor form, further unfortunate injuries - it was a good result. Reminiscent of last season's 3-3 epic, too, in that injuries paved the way for unexpected heroics - for Halliday last year, read McMahon (or if you prefer, Jutkiewicz) this year.

There are those who will argue that on recent form, we don't deserve to be in the play off places - but, as the legendary Clint Eastwood once put it, "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."

The fact is, we are in the top six, and we are more than capable of consolidating ourselves there until the end of the season. We've proven it tonight.

Now all we have to do (!) is find a way to recall Stephen McManus and Jonathan Grounds back from their loan spells...

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