By Dom Brown
I, like many of you, have been a fan of Middlesbrough Football Club since I was a child. I remember watching Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Szilard Nemeth and Mark Viduka wheeling away to celebrate after scoring for Steve McClaren’s side, before I was even ten years old.
Away from football, though, I remember I would struggle getting to sleep before school. I would stay awake and think ‘Why can’t I just sleep?’ My mother, when I was upset about a sleepless night, would tell me ‘Don’t worry Dom, it’s about quality and not quantity.’
This is a phrase commonly used in life, or in mine at least, but it can by applied to many different subjects.
If you’re thinking ‘Why or earth are you going on about your childhood sleeping patterns? I clicked this article for you to bash Tony Pulis, not to hear about how you were tired for Literacy at 9am!’
Well I tell you that story to say this. ‘Quality not quantity’ is a phrase that Middlesbrough’s boss should take more seriously at this point of the season.
NO BORO DON’T BORE ME TO SLEEP…
After Boro’s most recent defeat at home to Bristol City, the fourth loss in a row for the Teesside team who have only one point from the previous 15 on offer, Pulis said how his side have had “40-odd efforts on goal” in the last two games.
Looking at the two 1-0 home defeats Middlesbrough have suffered this week, the reds have had a total of 40 shots at the goal. Out of those 40, 13 have been on target (32.5%.) Add to that that at least another five to eight were easy saves for the goalkeeper and you have a total of around 15-20% of Boro’s shots that could have actually resulted in goals.
Secondly, if you try to think back to how many of those shots actually should have been goals then you have even fewer. I can think of Daniel Ayala’s free header against Norwich, along with the goalmouth scramble and George Saville miss when Bristol City won at the Riverside. (This is without counting miscues from Britt Assombalonga and Jordan Hugill, one coming in each match.)
YOU CREATE YOUR OWN LUCK
A common phrase in football, but one which seems to be evading Middlesbrough. Walking back to my car from the game, I thought it was clear to anyone watching the match that Bristol were the better side. Even though Boro dominated possession, they hardly tested the resilience of the City defence.
If you set up like Middlesbrough do at home, then any ‘luck’ that can be given to you by the ‘Footballing Gods’ is taken away. Ryan Shotton looks to be a good player when he is at centre back, but if he is your best attacking threat down your right flank then you are admitting defeat. Jonny Howson played very well when he started on that side.
Not to mention Middlesbrough have an exciting young English winger in their ranks. You know? The kind of player that Manchester United are currently writing a £100 million cheque for, or the player starring for England’s national side? Now I will qualify that by saying I don’t know Marcus Tavernier will ever be as good as Jadon Sancho or Callum Hudson-Odoi, but how will we know if he isn’t started?
SHOULD HE GO OR SHOULD HE GO?
I could go on. About a lack of any sign of attacking work on the training ground. About how fans have seen two free-kick routines all season (and neither have gone towards the head of Ayala or Aden Flint.) About Pulis’ attitude towards his players at the start of the year, calling them not good enough – and then not having the ability to secure any replacements in the transfer window.
Today the Evening Gazette have said that Steve Gibson is reluctant to get shot of the Welsh coach. In my opinion that is the wrong move.
When Gibson sacked Gareth Southgate in 2009, he said how the fans had voted with their feet, and had no confidence in the former Boro captain. I struggle to remember that feelings around Teesside were worse then than they are now.