‘Boro sit – not very proudly – in 16th position in the Championship with two wins, three draws and three defeats from our first eight games. The two fixtures following the international break could not have offered a more contrasting outlook with the apparent new dawn of the somewhat rare victory at Nottingham Forest being rudely squashed by the home defeat against Blackpool. In hindsight the result in Nottingham was probably more an indication of the complete lack of quality in the ‘Forest side than it was the strength in ours even though the new recruits all played an important part and showed they could have a great deal to offer. In contrast, though, there was a number of worrying ‘if onlys’ in the Blackpool reverse.
For instance, had the two superb efforts from Sporer and Payero that both hit the woodwork sneaked in, the result could have been much more positive. Instead, after a first half that should have seen us well ahead at the interval it was the injury to Anfernee Djiksteel that changed the course of the game and was proof if needed of the continuing lack of depth in the fullback department. Blackpool took full advantage, of course – helped when a number of dubious refereeing decisions went against us – but even then their winner came from a Grant Hall own goal that could – and should – have been headed to safety. Another ‘if only.’
Optimism should still be there, though, as we have Marc Bola and Paddy McNair to return from injury and further strengthening a possibility with out of contract players being examined. The likelihood of finding one that could have the impact of Duncan Watmore last season, however, is probably remote.
But with the new signings looking as if they will definitely strengthen things once they get fully up to speed, our position could certainly change. Andraz Sporar has already shown he has the ability to get quite a few goals this term, while both Onel Hernandez and James Lee Siliki look like real players. Hopefully, the same might possibly be said for the likes of Martin Payero and Toyosi Olusanya once they get their chances! So there’s still a long way to go and despite our 16th position the important statistic is that we’re still only four points outside the play-off positions. One or two consecutive wins could change the picture dramatically.
That said it was quite interesting to hear our new Head of Football Kieran Scott’s first interview in which he began by saying that everything he could possibly need is already in place at the club to help him make a success of his new role. ‘It’s all there,’ he said, ‘it maybe just needs a bit of life putting back into it.’ He would obviously be present both for the Forest and the Blackpool games and I really can’t see how he could imagine putting any more life into the performance of the fans because in both games they were once again magnificent. Add to that the fact our academy is still considered one of the best in the country and it looks as if he has got himself a fairly enviable position. Time will tell with perhaps his main influence centred round future recruitment and I for one look forward to seeing how things change in that department. There’s not a lot he can do immediately, but we’ll see what happens in January and whether the hard work he has promised us is going to pay off. We wait with baited breath!