While it’s been a bit of a mixed start for Boro, the return to live football has been absolutely brilliant and ‘Boro’s fans have certainly lived up to all of Neil Warnock’s often expressed expectations. Sensational at Fulham, deafening at the Riverside and yet another sell-out at Derby is a great indication of the tremendous support ‘Boro enjoy. That loyalty is hopefully being repaid by Steve Gibson with another couple of signings now in place, more to come and a squad that certainly promises much more depth in almost every department?
The spine of the team has certainly looked much better with Uchi Ikpeazo impressing with both his strength and work rate, and the find of the season so far with sparkling performances from Isiah Jones. That said, there are questions already being asked about Joe Lumley, with two of the QPR goals definitely stoppable! It’s early days though, and Warnock has plenty of time to work with his new look squad to identify the best eleven and the best way to use them.
Perhaps the biggest effect the return of crowds and media has had in our first few games, however, has seen Neil Warnock revert to the ebullient, demonstrative figurehead he has become famous – or should say infamous – for over the years. I have to say that the performance of him – and indeed the entire ‘Boro bench at Fulham left a lot to be desired with attacks on the referee made very early in the game. He followed that up with protests after the QPR game that independents considered somewhat over the top. From a Boro fans’ point of view we obviously want to see our manager strive to get the best results for us, but there have been occasions already this season where his somewhat industrial language and unattractive behaviour have been prominent. That one of those occasions was at the pre-season friendly at Bishop Auckland makes one wonder about its relevance at a time when everyone should simply be grateful for once again being able to visit live football.
But, with forthcoming home fixtures featuring ties against Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers, newly promoted Blackpool where, unlike the cup game they will be facing our first team, and the so far underperforming Sheffield United there is a real chance for a degree of positive consistency. Away fixtures also offer a degree of hope with Coventry, Nottingham Forest and Hull City all coming up in the near future. Boro’s ‘glass half empty’ brigade, however, will probably look on a few of those with a bit of trepidation and perhaps that can only be seen as a good thing because it gives the sort of balanced outlook that should keep everybody’s feet firmly on the ground.
In the meantime let’s continue to enjoy the fantastic return of live football with all its hopes, dreams and – because we’re ‘Boro fans – inevitable disappointments. But let’s be honest, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Have a great month.