Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Palace Power Hour Points The Way, Despite Jitters

"The whistle's gone, we won 2-1. Lots and lots of positives." - Tony Mowbray

What Mogga had to say following the Crystal Palace match sounded like poetry. And sure enough, this win was poetry... for fifty-five minutes, at least.

It is clear now, more than ever, that the Barnsley match has served as the wake-up call Boro needed. The Palace Power Hour, as I'll now call it, was the second of two superb all around attacking performances in the space of four days. Six points, five goals, exciting football and plenty of promising individual displays. Can we officially proclaim that "there's no place like home" again?

Almost. That "killer instinct" - the one thing that will solidify Boro as promotion contenders - is still missing. As Jason Mellor said in The Sunday Times, "Middlesbrough supporters are resigned to the way their team have been unable, in recent times, to finish opponents off." And we shot ourselves in the foot again after Josh McEachran, who otherwise had a terrific game, needlessly conceded a penalty which Jermaine Easter put away without any difficulty. Hence we were left hanging on during the final half-hour of a game that we should have already put to bed by then. It's enough to make you truly envy the scintillating form of Tom Ince and Blackpool at this moment in time.

Look, I'm not saying we have to hammer teams every week. But for the love of God, can we win the easy way next time, please?*

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Still, as Mogga said, there really were lots and lots of positives from the Palace game. For starters, we achieved that win without at least eight recognised first team players (McDonald, Emnes, Parnaby, Woodgate, Bennett, Bailey, Thomson and Carayol). And while some fans may still be at a loss to explain Justin Hoyte's recent excellent displays, they're really not all that baffling. My theory is that both Hoyte and George Friend are thriving on the manager's trust in them, especially now that the fans can no longer clamour for the return of Tony McMahon. And while I may take flak for this, letting both Joe Bennett and Marvin Emnes go might not be such a bad thing. Bennett, and to an extent Emnes, have been in decline for some time, while Boro have a plethora of left-sided players (Friend, Park, Halliday and Reach) and strikers (Jutkiewicz, Miller, Main and Luke Williams) to choose from**. The heady days of 2011, where Bennett was staggering us with his jinking runs and almost everything Emnes touched turned to goals, are long gone. With this, and Mogga's new policy of playing Ledesma or Zemmama behind a solitary striker, would a bid of £6 million for Marvin really be that difficult to accept, no matter how "marvellous" he can be?

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*Apparently not if Charlie Lee has anything to do with it - read this.

**I didn't think Scott McDonald was worth a mention. He's so much of a non-entity in our squad these days.

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