Saturday, 11 August 2012

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling...

Forget the Olympics.

No, seriously. I've enjoyed Team GB's success (and Ireland's, of course) but I've become a little fatigued.

This is the sport we've been waiting for.

For Boro, the new season gets underway today, away to Bury in the Capital One cup. And I, for one, can't wait. We've had more than our fair share of in's and out's this summer, some exciting (Woodgate), some interesting (Carayol), some headscratching (Hoyte), some unfortunate (Bates), and some not really welcome at all (McMahon). But judging by pre-season results (Scunthorpe excluded), not to mention significantly reduced spending on agents' fees, we are in great shape going into the new season. With a manager who clearly seems to know what he's doing, and with the added bonus of a new captain.

But is it really a bonus?

The captaincy has always been a double-edged sword at Boro. While some players have used it to their advantage, elevating not only their importance to the team but also their own game (see: Pearson, Southgate, Huth, even Bates) it has shown itself to be irrelevant (see: Arca, Pogatetz) or even a burden (see: Boateng, Wheater) to others. George Boateng was never really the same player once he took the captain's armband on a permanent basis, was he?

Hence, even though I am pleasantly surprised to see the Boro captaincy handed to Rhys Williams - alright, Rolls Rhys - I must admit to having my doubts. There's every chance that being club captain will add maturity to his game, and help everyone else to "dance to his tune", so to speak. Imagine how much more driven and energetic Boro could become. On the other hand, it's equally likely that being captain might make him more responsible, more restrained - and therefore less effective. More organised, but less inspirational. I couldn't see the same thing happening to Nicky Bailey, who has proven himself to have both organisational and inspirational skills in abundance.

Then again, we said similar things about Boateng before we took the captaincy. So who knows?

Ah, "who knows". The two words that just about every Boro fan approaches a new season, or even a new game with nowadays. With so little money and with attendances very rarely topping, or approaching, the 20,000 mark, we seem to approach every game with more hope than expectation really. It's as if our promotion dreams are built entirely in our hearts and not in our minds.

And yet, one is entitled to feel optimistic. Despite my concerns about the imbalance of our squad, it is hard not to agree with Woodgate when he talks about the massive potential at Boro. The creativity in the team seems limitless, with Zemmama, Emnes, Rhys Williams, Luke Williams, Halliday, Ledesma, Leadbitter, Carayol, Haroun, Park and Reach all capable of creating something out of nothing. One also looks forward to seeing if Scott McDonald, Curtis Main and Lukas Jutkiewicz (when fit) can establish themselves as dependable goalscorers - they're certainly capable of it - in addition to Parnaby and Woodgate competing in a Boro shirt again, Jason Steele continuing to improve, and Justin Hoyte possibly proving his critics wrong.

Of course, pride comes before a fall, and memories of how we fell short when it really mattered last season are all too fresh in the mind. Potential is one thing, results (and goals) are another, and all this talk will mean nothing if we don't deliver. But let's just take it as it comes for now, right?

Starting with Bury.

Here's to an enjoyable season.

* * * * *


1 - Jason Steele, 2 - Justin Hoyte, 3 - Joe Bennett, 4 - George Friend, 5 - Merouane Zemmama, 6 - Stephen McManus, 7 - Grant Leadbitter, 8 - Kevin Thomson, 9 - Marvin Emnes, 10 - Nicky Bailey, 11 - Emmanuel Ledesma, 14 - Rhys Williams, 15 - Seb Hines, 17 - Lukas Jutkiewicz, 18 - Andy Halliday, 19 - Mustapha Carayol, 20 - Julio Arca, 21 - Stuart Parnaby, 22 - Luke Williams, 23 - Curtis Main, 24 - Cameron Park, 25 - Adam Reach, 27 - Scott McDonald, 31 - Connor Ripley, 33 - Richard Smallwood, 38 - Faris Haroun, 39 - Jonathan Woodgate

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