Some things in life are inevitable even though we desperately hope they’ll never happen.
In the 1973/74 season ‘Boro won the league by a record 15 points (a statistic that will never be beaten because in those days it was only two points for a win) and I travelled down to Nottingham Forest hoping to see ‘Boro’s current 10 match unbeaten run be maintained. Duncan Mackenzie put paid to that with four goals in a 5-1 defeat. Since that day we have met Forest 47 times and only won 6 so in a season in which the only thing that has been consistent about ‘Boro has been their inconsistency a win for Forest was the most predictable result of the Easter Monday fixtures. And so it sadly proved.
Six consecutive defeats during a dismal March had been followed by three consecutive wins – albeit pretty unconvincing ones – so we could probably be forgiven for thinking we’d turned the corner and were now back in the box seat for the play-off position that up until the end of February had looked a certainty.
Now, amazingly and despite that 3-0 surrender to Forest – we are still in with a chance with two games against lowly Reading (H) and Rotherham (A) still to come. If we have any promotion aspirations neither should be considered too difficult, but this is ‘Boro we are talking about so literally anything can happen.
Whatever happens though, there is no way the season can be considered any kind of success. It started well enough but since Christmas has tailed off alarmingly with all the previous comments on failure to score goals being the most obvious reason. And anyone who was at the Stoke game could clearly see the reason why. A really good goal following a wonderful pass from Mikel to Howson who followed up with a superb cross to Assombalonga gave us a great platform in only the second minute to go on and improve our goal difference.
What actually happened was a drab rearguard action that only worked because Stoke’s finishing was as bad as ours has been all season. The performance was pretty awful and not something any of us wants to see repeated next year. The answer – regardless of what may have happened in those two final games – is to start again with a new manager who at least realises that you can only win games if you score goals. A strong defence is a wonderful attribute but it should never be at the expense of positive attacking play.
Who knows what a different attitude might do for the likes of Fletcher and Assombalonga because after their performances this season I can’t see anyone eager to take them off our hands to enable us to recoup the substantial transfer fees they cost us. Fortunately, Jordan Hugill, and dare I say it Mo Besic are only on loan so their unconvincing services can be dispensed with anyway. And if the miracle happens and we do succeed in the play-offs there are very few on the books who would be capable of bridging the enormous gap to the Premier League.
The only sensible conclusion is to hope that someone, somewhere can come in and create organisation, excitement and positivity around the first eleven. Season ticket sales have already been good for next season but even hardcore fans will only put up with so much.
Things simply have to change! Have a great Summer.