It’s taken me a little while to catch up on the goings on this week as I was away over the weekend. My wife and I took a camping trip and got away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a while. We ended up with some rainy weather but made the best of it, very similar to the Boro game this past Saturday.
I had thought the match againt Stoke City would be a comfortable three points considering the way the lads had performed against Tottenham and Liverpool. The effort still needed to be there but talent-wise I thought the Boro were just better. It was a little disappointing to see us struggle along to a 2-1 win. The obvious turning point in this one was Amdy Faye’s reckless, two-footed challenge on Shawky, for which he was sent off. Stoke lost any momentum that they had developed during that opening 30+ minutes and as one would expect Middlesbrough were dominant from that point on. One has to wonder how the game would have gone had Faye not gotten himself sent off. (Picture courtesy of the Daily Mail match report)
There was yet another own goal in this game — that’s now three in three league matches. A very worrying trend and one that I hope will end soon. Downing’s penalty miss was another lowlight but it’s far from doom and gloom at the Riverside. The three points on Saturday made it Middlesbrough’s best start for nine years and Alves’ goal was pure class. Great to see him get off the mark after looking so clueless in front of goal up to that point.
A few other notes from the week to pass on.
I had been scouring eBay for a Boro jersey and I kept noticing listings for XXL or XXXL Viduka and Yakubu shirts and was wondering……….Nah, you know what I’m not going to go there, it’s too easy!
I was glad to see that unlike other EPL clubs, Boro did not panic buy at the deadline. We’ve got a decent squad, a bit small but at least there should not be too many complaints about not starting or being in the squad. Also glad to see that Mido was not sold as we’re not too deep up front and he’ll be needed over the course of the season. As it turns out Southgate spent his “summer money” in January. The club record fee of £12.7m for Afonso Alves apparently came from the summer budget and it looks like it will be money well spent.
It was good to see a number of the squad involved in internationals this weekend. Downing has gotten another call up for England while Egyptian duo Mido and Shawky, Austrian defender Emanuel Pogatetz and Turkish striker Tuncay will all be in their national team squads. A special mention for defender prospect Rhys Williams, who has got his first senior Welsh squad callup.
I had mixed feelings about the Carling Cup draw. It’ll be fun to have my new team pitted against my old team but it would have been nicer had that happened later in the competition — like the final ! I think we have a good chance to go through if United choose to blood some youngsters in the match and we go in with a strong squad. Southgate has made mention of taking the Cups seriously this season and this will be a test of that conviction.
Until next time, COME ON BORO !