Perhaps the most relevant comment to make as this season winds to a bit of an anticlimax is that we have suffered once again with a complete lack of consistency. Rarely this season have we won consecutive games (only three times actually) but when we have they’ve been followed by poor performances in games we probably should have won. The latest example was Milwall, where an unfortunate own goal put us on the back foot early on and we weren’t able to come back from it. Perhaps the most telling and disturbing aspect of that game, however, was Neil Warnock’s post match suggestion that not enough effort had been shown by his players.
So, barring some kind of miracle in the last eight games, it looks as though we will end up with mid table safety, and while at the start of the season many people would have been happy with that sort of outcome, it’s actually disappointing because the team has hovered around something much more exciting for much of the season. The dreadful run after Christmas obviously brought an end to any hope of automatic promotion, but there have been times since when the possibility of the play-offs still existed. But that failure to put a consistent run together has obviously been the big disappointment, especially when you look at the players Warnock brought in during January to most certainly improve both the depth and the quality of the squad.
Going back to this time last season, though, we were really struggling, mainly through the pitiful strike rate, but Warnock worked a minor miracle and kept us up. That goal scoring situation has at least improved this season, but once again you can look at the strikers in the squad and realise there is nobody who can be considered an out and out predatory goal scorer. Fortunately, though, goals have been spread across the team. That means that come the August transfer window, we – like every other team in the country at whatever standard – will be looking for someone just like that to take us to the next level. But let’s be honest, it’s really a game of chance with some players seeming to fit into one system much better than another and quite a number of multi million pound signings failing to live up to their price tags
As examples, there are a couple of names on the current goal scoring charts who most ‘Boro fans would never have believed could show the kind of performances they have this season. Who among us, for instance, would have expected Patrick Bamford to have lit up the Premiership as he has with Leeds, with a lot of recent talk even suggesting his possible inclusion in the England squad? To most ‘Boro fans his dismal performances in our last Premiership season make that look like some kind of sick joke. But then drop down a league and you find former ‘Boro cast-off Charlie Wyke scoring for fun at Sunderland with 22 already this season. Compare them both to our top scorer and it’s Sunderland’s cast-off Duncan Watmore with just six. All this really does put the fifteen million pound Assombalonga price tag into perspective!
But with Warnock committed to another season and promises already made to improve the problems everybody knows we have, we can only hope that once we can all get back to normality we can show Neil Warnock the value of a packed Riverside. We should also pray that his previous fantastic record of promotions from this league can be maintained.