Sunday, 19 August 2012

Banal Boro Find Barn Door Shut On Opening Day

You know what they say about the best laid plans and all that.

All those new signings, all that positive talk and all the creativity we had to choose from, both on the pitch and on the bench, and what did we get? A continuation of the regression that has been going on since the turn of the year.

It would be easy to write the Barnsley defeat off as a bad day at the office, that it was only the opening day, that things will get better. But, as is almost always the case with Boro, the truth runs much deeper than that. Of the twenty-three league games we have played in 2012, we have won just six. And we dare to call ourselves promotion contenders?

This isn't the same Boro that kicked off last season. We are not carrying forward the positive momentum that we could carry from the heady early days of the Moggalution. Back in 2010/11, it was easy to forget we'd finished a very disappointing 11th when we'd won our last four matches, scoring twelve goals. Yesterday, we appeared to be suffering from a "previous season hangover" - the baffling tactics, below par players, injuries and stuttering form that so marred the second half of last season were all in evidence yesterday. It was like watching a Gordon Strachan team full of Luis Suarez's.

But in a way, this has been coming. As creative, solid and determined as our new signings have been, not one of them has looked like providing the penetration and intimidation we require to establish ourselves among the division's leading lights. Worse still, I can imagine that opposition managers enjoy doing a Roberto Mancini on us these days; talk us up as the better side before the game, hence relieving the pressure on their own team's shoulders and helping them to victory. All those new signings and our "near miss" from last season have created a monkey on our back, one that opposition teams will gleefully exploit to their advantage.

But really, our team should have both the organisation and maturity to deal with all of this. And neither quality was in place at Barnsley yesterday.

One really must stand the heat if one wants to stay in the promotion kitchen, so to speak. I guess by this time next week, following Burnley and Crystal Palace, we'll know if Boro truly are contenders or pretenders.

In the meantime, it's back to the drawing board for Mogga...

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