Welsh Raretrip: Boro 'Defeat' Shock & Mooted Move For Stewie
OKAY Boro lost. That's a set-back but far from a disaster. A run of nine undefeated and seven on the road - the last away defeat at Blackpool seems like a lifetime ago - has piled up the points, pushed Boro right into a contention and has raised expectations but this is still the crazy championship and every game comes down to fine margins. We lost.
But as anyone watching on Dodgyvision will tell you, Boro totally bossed the game, had a decent team that had won eight home games in a row on the back-foot and created a string of good chances. It was a good perfromance. After a scrappy start with a lot of misplaced passes and a sloppy leaked goal from a set-play, Boro tightened up and grabbed control. set the pace, imposed the shape and asked all the questions. They just couldn't score on the day. It happens.
Some cynics will have been waiting (for a long time) to say: see, the bubble has burst. We'll see. There are games when you drive home from a 1-0 defeat and feel gutted because you have been roundly beaten, didn't compete and didn't give it a crack, But this wasn't one of those. This drive home was a head-scratching exercise: how on Earth are we coming home empty handed after that? Boro dominated. The shot count, possession stats and any neutral objective view would surely have concluded the away team were better, slicker, sharper and more creative. We can leave with heads high, counting the positives and looking forward to the next game.
Cardiff are rated as one of the best teams in the Championship, they are well resourced, have a strong squad and excellent home form. But on that showing Boro are a 'better' teaam. Cardiff are effective with Whittingham's dead-balls and solid in defence but showed little else to terrifiy anyone. And, not to mince words, they are rubbish away.
So let's take the positives. Boro had to lose some time (put it down to the boss gong curse if you want) but that defeat was narrow and came in a game they controlled and arguably should have won. It was far from demoralising.
Now it is time to start another 10 game run, starting with two winnable home games (while Cardiff have three out of their next four away, and they are woeful on the road) and hopefully taking in another away day victory over a top flight side in the League Cup. Why not?
BORO may be ready to gamble on an audacious big money move for Stewart Downing if they think he can help secure promotion - but the mooted loan move from Liverpool will not happen this week.
That was the indication from within the club today. There has been speculation over the weekend that a loan move before Thursday's deadline was looming but Boro sources insist that is a non-starter.
However, that idea of ending Stewie's internal exile at Anfield when the window opens in January has been bubbling away for weeks - but for it to become a realistic prospect a lot of pieces would need to fall into place first. So don't buy that replica shirt just yet.
MEANWHILE here's a few things to chew on while we wait for the chance to bounce back from Cardiff with two winnable home games:
Is Stewie Downing the best Teesside talent of his generation? Is he the best, most consistent product of the Academy? And if not, who is?
Will you boo Matthew Bates? I know it is the done thing to vilify anyone who leaves and now seems obligatory but has he really done anything to offend? I will be advocating a respectful clap for an ex-player who deserves respect for, if nothing else, battling back from five cruciates - but after that he is just an opposition player. I hope he has a mare, gives away a penalty and scores an own goal.
[*NOTE: Football Inevitability Drive has been activated. I'll be having a daft quid on him as first scorer in a 3-1 and/or 4-1 Boro win*]