Tuesday, 5 March 2013

It's Not All About Bad Luck...

Hull City 2, Middlesbrough 1 (2008). Burton Albion 2, Middlesbrough 1 (2011). Manchester United 1, Real Madrid 2 (2013). And now Huddersfield 2, Middlesbrough 1 (2013).

All games that will probably live in infamy for the fans of the red-shirted teams beginning with the letter "M", as, regardless of whether or not their teams have actually played well, they're left scratching their heads in agony afterwards, wondering, "How the hell did we lose that game?"

It matters not whether your team has shaded or dominated the match - as was almost certainly the case in the Burton Albion and Real Madrid games. When you're in a winning position, and a win is there for the taking, you've got to take it. This is what separates the good sides from the bad ones.

The Hull City defeat wasn't particularly deserved, with Ross "I'm too good for Boro" Turnbull's mistake turning the game before Geovanni won a penalty in an offside position - leading to an unjust sending off for David Wheater and allowing Marlon "I only score when Boro don't want me to" King to clinch the points for the home side. An equally, if not more unjust sending off turned the game against United tonight, and when we played Burton, they scored with their only two shots on target after we had bossed nearly the entire match - and had a perfectly good goal ruled out.

On to Huddersfield tonight. And we were a shadow of the team that beat Cardiff, with the Terriers dominating possession for virtually the entire match. Still, you would thought we'd have been inspired enough by Scott McDonald's late-ish opener to cling on to a vital victory. Instead, our marking at set-pieces came back to bite us in the proverbial rear-end four minutes from time, before the inevitable injury time sucker punch - we're used to it by now - knocked us down to eighth in the table.

But ask yourself this question - is the problem really the goals or refeering decisions, or is it the team's inability to deal with said goals or refeering decisions? The weak, "Why Always Us?" mentality (Mario Balotelli would be proud!) that enables us to make the "turning points" - late goals, admittedly awful decisions - easy scapegoats for eventual defeats is doing us no good whatsoever. The "strongest" teams at the top of any league have no right to call themselves "strong", if they consistently use disallowed goals, unjust red cards or regular concession of important goals at the end of matches for their lack of progress. It's something we ought to remind all our players about if we are to stand a legitimate chance of going up this season.

And realistically, the way things have gone so far in 2013, would you even want to?

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