Saturday, 27 April 2013

It Will Take More Than That, Boro...

Exactly seven years on from that 4-2 win at the Riverside that everyone talks about, Boro recalled something resembling the Spirit Of Steaua to salvage a dramatic point at home to Charlton Athletic.

For most of the match, this had looked almost impossible as Boro had appeared to be sleepwalking to another damaging home defeat; that is, until Scott McDonald and Emmanuel Ledesma entered the fray.

Suddenly, Tony Mowbray looked like he had a Plan B after all. His decision to substitute Curtis Main and Adam Reach did not backfire, and both McDonald and not-very-marvellous Marvin Emnes made their points - and earned one for Boro, consigning the Addicks' play-off hopes to the dustbin.

But it will take more than a highly unlikely and rather fortunate comeback to convince people to hop on board the Moggalution again in 2013-14.

Now, for a long time, I have pleaded with my fellow Boro fans to be patient with Mogga. Towards the end of last year, I went as far as saying that I would have no one else in charge. Here is a man who, on an extremely limited budget, re-established the communal feel that virtually died under Gordon Strachan, restored both pride and spirit to the club, dealt with adversity admirably and made Boro exciting to watch again. He gave Boro their identity back, and much more. All in the space of six months.

And better followed... despite a free fall of sorts in the second half of 2011-12 (I say "of sorts" because we still managed to stay in touch with the play-offs until the very end), the Boro Army had full faith in Mogga's abilities at the end of 2012. One point off automatic promotion, with a superior goal difference to second-placed Hull, and ten points clear of then seventh-placed Nottingham Forest.

What a difference a truly horrible freefall makes - to the mentality of both the fans and the team.

Regardless of today's eventual outcome, it only takes a glance at the teamsheet to spark off at least a handful of anti-Mogga tweets before a match has even started nowadays. And the team producing a first-half home performance of the season that was as insulting as this one - Charlton could and should have been out of sight long before Emnes' goal - is more than offensive. It's downright wrong.

Today's "great comeback" and the three single-goal home victories we have achieved in 2013 have been, and still are, no more than temporary respites from the seemingly endless gloom beside the River Tees and in every Boro away end around the country so far this year. No amount of small mercies and minorly improved performances can disguise the fact that there is still much work to be done, or the uncertainty over whether Mogga really is the right man to do it.

We know Mogga's passion for the club still remains, but has he the drive and energy to inspire a third Boro promotion campaign? More significantly, will he have the time and resources to do so? To restore the drive, organisation, morale and leadership that has been almost always absent from the club since another famous 4-2 win?

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