Sunderland v Boro
I was just about to pay for a stream to NOWTV when I got called away by my wife's company. By the time I got back we were 2 goals and 1 man down. I guess I got lucky and saved some money.
I have mentioned before that last year, Mowbray showed the world how to beat Wilder's Boro and, looking back, that was the start of the steep, downward plunge. There were several things going on but Mowbray designed a blueprint to beating us that Wilder never managed to deal with.
Looking at it, he again has shown that we struggle to handle being pressed in midfield. Brighton and Burnley did the same thing to us: pressed Howson and cut off our out balls. Sunderland seem also to have focused on forcing Giles back. (Mowbray managed Giles last year and clearly didn't rate him defensively.)
This time it feels like there is a unity around the club that means, I hope, that this match won't derail our season in the same way as Blackburn last year.
Although it's a classic "don't panic" moment, Carrick & the team do need to reflect and look at what they can do to counter future teams who try to copy this revised blueprint.
It also makes the point that our squad is not on the same level as the teams with parachute payments. We're among the best of the rest but with WBA going on a run that's at least the equal of ours and Norwich showing signs of life with the sacking of Smith, we are going to be really pushed to hang-on to a play-off place.
Anyway, might skip watching the "highlights" this week.
I have had some further time to think about Sunderland v Boro. On reflection, I can see that the use of arms by Fry might easily be seen as a foul by the referee and since he was the last man using his arms to attempt to slow Stewart down or prevent his getting to the ball, I can see why (if it was a foul) Fry would get a red card. But it was never a penalty. Fry made that decision possible for the referee by taking his hand/arm away sufficiently near to the penalty area that Stewart could fall over INTO the penalty area. So it might easily have been given as a sending off with a free kick outside the area, from which there would have been no "guarantee" of a goal. Sadly it went the other way (red card & penalty kick) and when the goal was scored it was difficult to come back from that position even though Boro played at least as well with 10 men as they had with 11.
None of which takes away from the fact that Boro, in my eyes, never looked like winning the game in what turned out to have been both a very disappointing performance and result.
I went to the Murdered Monkey later Sunday afternoon, to watch Arsenal v Manchester United. Incredible game and really exciting to watch as a neutral. If Boro is trying to play that "possession" game, retaining possession with triangles all over the field and players making themselves available for the ball as it is worked eventually upfield (instead of a long pass from defence or a boot upfield by the keeper) then we might have a problem. Arsenal and ManU can do that, and do it at speed and with the tiniest of gaps to thread the ball through to the other players in the triangle. But that is because their players are so much better than ours, indeed better than most other players in Europe. They can made 10-15 passes in confidence that (1) the ball will get to where it was intended and (2) the receiving player will have it under instant control and (3) that player will be able to make a similarly accurate pass to a team-mate in the fraction of a second before an almost equally quick and skilful opponent can put in a block or a tackle to prevent it. Of course it also helps when so many of the players can finish so exquisitely.
Of course we cannot compare apples to oranges. Even Steffen will be modestly paid compared to most of the Arsenal & ManU players. A Passat (I had one, once, a very fine machine) or a Renault Captur would struggle when assessed against a Rolls Royce or a Mercedes E-Class. Another way of looking at it is that the human element is the vital component. Put me in a Jaguar F-type and Lewis Hamilton in a Ford Fiesta for a couple of laps around Silverstone and I'd be AMAZED if Hamilton didn't win our race easily. I'd be using my "talent" at 100% to get as much as I could out of the car and Hamilton would be running well within his comfort zone - I'd be racing and he'd be cruising even if using a nominally slower car. I'd make mistakes. He wouldn't. He'd be going around corners at his car's full speed and I'd be breaking at the wrong time, stuggling to acclerate out of the corners and basically taking the wrong line. I'd be nervous and panicking and he'd be laid back, knowing he could easily power a much faster car around the circuit at times well under the time he'd take that Fiesta around the course. So he'd be well within his capabilities.
It is unrealistic to expect the possession game from Middlesbrough to be played at the same level as the top teams because our team just doesn't have the players who are skilled enough to do it without making regular mistakes which other very good teams can pounce upon. Still, we are generally OK in our own level though much improvement will be needed if we are to move up to the next rung on the ladder. We should perhaps caution against expecting too much, too soon. Remember where we were just a few short months ago, with Chris Wilder directing operations. We are not where we want to be but we are in a much better place than where we were. Let's take a breath, prepare and then go again...
I am not sure what the club can appeal about.
For me it was not a penalty. All of DF's "interference" with Roberts was well outside of the penalty area. Roberts did extremely well to reach out and get his foot on the line before he allowed himself to lose balance (well, for me he more or less lurched at the line propelling himself forward). Regardless of the penalty it has to be seen as a foul. The officials saw that and took action on it. That they may well have made the wrong decision in respect of the where the offence occurred is irrelevant and cannot be undone. To be honest in real time it was a very hard decision to have made. Roberts would have been clear on goal had Fry not impeded him so the decision to award a foul might have been harsh but not really wrong. The rules make a foul on a player that is clean through on goal an automatic red card offence. So any appeal will be deemed to be frivolous and could result in a one match ban getting extended.
We have to take it on the chin. If we were to complain about anything, it would have to be the failure of the officials to give a penalty when Akpom was bludgeoned over in the penalty area. But again, that will not change anything and everyone in here is quite rightly saying that Sunderland were worthy winners on the day.
On another day, a questionable decision will go our way and we will be very happy to accept it.
Exmill- if a foul is committed outside the penalty area , say tugging an opponent’s shirt and the foul continues into the penalty area then the Laws say it’s a penalty. Also if the foul happens on the line then that is part of the penalty area and so a penalty.
Clearly this was a close one and many Boro supporters will say the foul happened outside the area but perhaps if it had been at the other end of the pitch then the same supporters would probably said it was a nailed on penalty.
The fact remains that the referee gave it and Boro didn’t play as well as we hoped.
Philip of Huddersfield
@philip-of-huddersfield Yes I agree with your interpretation of the law but it appeared to me that Fry stopped fouling Stewart as they approached the box and then Stewart threw himself down to land in the box, maybe it might be my partisan view and clever play by Stewart. The red card card was correct as Stewart was against the last man, as far as Steffen coming out, on the highlights it shows as Fry/Stewart are racing each other towards the box, Steffen is moving backwards towards his line (as he should) before Stewart over hits the ball so there is no way that Steffen can get to the ball before Stewart, otherwise he would have been crucified for not staying closer to his line to narrow the angle if Stewart won the race.
Come on BORO.
"...Steffen is moving backwards towards his line (as he should) before Stewart over hits the ball so there is no way that Steffen can get to the ball before Stewart, otherwise he would have been crucified for not staying closer to his line to narrow the angle if Stewart won the race."
I am not sure I follow your thinking here. When I used to play in goal, I narrowed the angle by advancing towards the ball. Backing up to the line only gives the striker the full width of the goal to aim at. A goalkeeper advancing on the striker with (or approaching) the ball not only narrows the angle, but can also server to put the striker off his shot. There is a balance to be had, between not leaving yourself too susceptible to a lob, but in the circumstances yesterday, it is extremely unlikely Stewart would have been in a composed enough position to achieve a lob.
For me Steffen should not have started to back track. Had he kept going forward he would have reached the ball in good time to smother it as Stewart might have reached it: and if not smothering the ball, he would have left Stewart with no angle at all to shoot at and given himself (Steffen) the best chance of blocking any shot attempted. Arguably had he kept coming, Dael might not have impeded Stewart quite so persistently.
Its all ifs and buts. At the end of the day it was a penalty because the referee gave a penalty and there is nothing to be done about it now.
Onwards to Saturday now and let Watford be the unlucky next opponents for us.
I did pay £11.99 for Now TV and my rather old computer let me watch the match until the penalty when it decided it had seen enough and I couldn't get the steam running again! It looked to me a rather low key start from Boro, not what was expected for a derby match, while Sunderland were very much up for it. With better finishing Sunderland would have been well ahead by half time and the game would have been over. I suppose we couldn't expect every Boro performance (except against a team like Burnley) to be at the standard Carrick has set in most games since he took over. Hopefully we will be back to "normal" against Watford.
(I did later try Now TV again on my newer laptop and it was ok though I was not interested enough in the Brentford match to watch it right through.)
I checked the price of a hotel room for the QPR match on 18 Feb and decided to book it before it goes up further so now I am hoping that there is no rail strike then. I will probably book early for the subsequent games (and if there is a change I will make sure I am allowed to change the date of my stay) rather than seeing the price go up first.
I really enjoyed your post where you compared us to Arsenal and Man Utd. I loved your fantasy drive with Lewis Hamilton in a Fiesta! You make some great points overall. I agree that we would have a huge amount of work to do and would need improvements in several positions if we were to get into the Prem next season. But while you are right that we can’t expect Boro to be playing at the same level as the really top sides up there, it’s worth remembering that there are also a number of also-rans every season making up the numbers, this season’s Southampton, Everton, and Wolves, for instance. They’re all still probably better than we are currently and have better quality overall, as Brighton illustrated, but most don’t play at the same majestic level as Arsenal or Man City and some of the promoted sides from last year, especially Forest and Fulham, are more than holding their own. Look at the way Brentford have progressed. So I’m hopeful that Carrick can get us there and keep us there. Not easy by any means, obviously, but it’s possible.
David in Cumbria: don’t forget that with steam-driven computers, you have to keep topping up the water every now and again! 😉
@clive-hurren - Very kind of you, Clive.
At least all this endless speculation about football keeps the grey cells working, for the present at least. But I suppose in the final analysis the only thing that counts is what happens (the results). And even then, we can always say "But if he'd only done X instead of Y, the result would have been different." And we'll never know whether that is correct or not, as we don't have an endless number of alternative universes where we can compare the results if, indeed, he did do X rather than Y, or Z rather than Y, or X AND Z rather than Y....