For the past two weeks, I’ve been fervently trying to avoid anything to do with Middlesbrough, simply to avoid having to face the fact that its going to be a long hard season. With our strike force looking worryingly thin, our (depleted) defence leaking goals everywhere, Schwarzer seeming more concerned with getting his buspass than making saves, and our midfield with a complete inability to function, its going to be tough.
I’ll defend the players to the hilt, each one of them is fantastic on their day, but I’m concerned that we’re not seeing that.
So what to do?
Personally, I think its time we went for a full-on formation change. Its not happening at the moment. The attacking midfield is let down by the lack of actual attackers. The (fantastic) defensive midfielders are let down by a lack of positions to fill. The wingers have no-one to cross to. The strikers have no confidence, and neither does the team.
Now, I think appointing Southgate was fantastic. Sure, O’Neill would have been nice, but we appointed the team captain. Someone who definitely cares. And at least we didn’t appoint someone like that Roy Keane. And yes, I have already eaten my share of humble pie because of that.
But I can’t deny the fact that we are playing like a pub team who’ve already had a few. We can’t score goals. We’re making chances, not finishing them, and ultimately being punished. A new manager might just give us that spark of confidence, a new look, and could get us up to the European spots where we belong.
Meanwhile, in avoiding Middlesbrough, I’ve been instead watching Arsenal, and my adopted A-League team, Central Coast Mariners. Pleasingly, both these sides are now happily sat atop their respective leagues. Watching Arsenal is a joy. Its been said many times before, but it simply is. So much for the glorified long-ball game from Manchester United (Ed: erm…what?), Arsenal are playing real football. I’ll even stick my neck out and say that this season they will once again go totally unbeaten, and Kolo Toure will score THREE long-range shots. Arsene Wenger deserves praise for what he has done for Arsenal, and for the sport in general, proving exactly why it is the ‘Beautiful Game’.
Meanwhile, at Central Coast Mariners, things are rosy. After a fantastic start, things have began to slow down somewhat, but they have everything my Middlesbrough don’t. A solid, young goalkeeper, strikers that know exactly where the back of the net is, and frequently find it, and a captain guaranteed a regular place. Ex-Smoggie Tony Vidmar ironically enough.
Looking ahead to the weeks ahead though, I think I’ll have to keep working to avoid the Middlesbrough games. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll support them through thick and thin, but if I have to hear and watch more and more abysmal performances, I’m going to break something. And I’m not sure I can afford another TV.