Boro gained their first win of the season against Wigan which, despite the result, was not a great performance. Along with everything else that’s happened in the season so far things are not what we’d hoped for, but if anyone examined our first two games in a just and measured fashion they would have to say that it should have been infinitely better. But for a shambles of a penalty and an even bigger shambles of a linesman we should really have started the season with two wins.
Friday nights have been pretty good to us over the past ten years or so and gaining a penalty against Luton with seven minutes to go while already 3-2 up should have continued that success and comfortably put the game to bed. Regardless of Jonathan Woodgate’s attempts to reduce the pressure on Britt Assombalonga after the game the fact remains that a man who cost £15m and is our number one striker should at least have hit the target. That he also failed to do so against Crewe Alexandra is another story… at least in the Wigan game he redeemed himself with a superb finish from Johnny Howson’s excellent cross.
Flick to the following Saturday and at half time we had completely out-performed Brentford, scored two perfectly good goals and should have had the game in our pocket. If the linesman managed to sleep that night he must have a skin like a rhino. Two dreadful decisions gave them the momentum to come out in the second half and really go for it. Whether that would have been the case at 2-0 down is anybody’s guess. So at that point we could have had the perfect start to the season.
The result at Blackburn, I’m afraid, was about as much as we deserved but there will always be downsides to my optimism and that was certainly one of them. On the other hand – and in my usual optimistic manner – I’ve seen a great deal in the games so far to be enthusiastic about the way in which the players are trying to adhere to Jonathan Woodgate’s attacking philosophy. Perhaps their efforts, however, are demonstrating that in some cases there simply isn’t the talent to undergo the huge changes that Woodgate is trying to implement.
One of the main requirements of his new attacking style is being able to pass the ball quickly and accurately which also means good movement all over the pitch so that there is always someone available to take the pass. While the latter has been reasonably good it’s a sad indictment of the team’s overall ability that a considerable number of what should have been straightforward passes keep going astray.
Hopefully, it will get better and Jonathan Woodgate’s insistence that he will continue regardless with this new style should be good news for all of the people who bemoaned the Pulis lack of ambition. Let’s also hope that the players will eventually adapt and be able to handle it to provide us with a season of real excitement. Woodgate has already stated on a number of occasions that ‘it’s a work in progress and it’s going to be a rocky road’ and I for one feel he needs the fans to be patient for it to happen.
Another win against Millwall, who themselves have had a pretty good start, would be a great way to keep the momentum from the Wigan game going. Fingers crossed!