A point won or two lost? Pete Sixsmith thinks Wigan were there to be beaten, but pleads for patience as the new-look squad beds in. The crowd of fellow Boro fans Lee Cattermole proudly took to watch him play may not wish to read on. But stand by for a Rob Styles World Exclusive…..
The BBC got it right by making it the last game on Match of the Day and only giving it five minutes.
Chris Kirkland got it right by coming off his line and spreading himself brilliantly to deny Djibril Cissé.
The lady who owns the Balcony Bistro in Lancaster’s Indoor Market got it right by charging a mere £3.75 for a big plate of corned beef hash with red cabbage.
Roy Keane probably got it right by making sure that we came away with a point after losing our last two early season games in Pie Town.
This was an improvement on those performances. Three years ago I had an awful feeling about the rest of the season as Gary Breen and Kelvin Davies conspired to give away a third minute penalty. That feeling was entirely justified.
Last year I sat at Lords watching the Friends Provident Final and receiving text messages charting Wigan’s progress to a comfortable 3-0 victory which acted as a wake up call after the euphoria of the first two games.
On Saturday, we were determined not to lose and sometimes when you adopt that approach, it is difficult to win. I thought that Wigan were there for the taking throughout the game but our mind set was to make sure that we don’t lose and that can stifle creativity..
In the first half we played some crisp one two’s and opened them up on a number of occasions without ever looking clever enough to finish them off. Cissé had a couple of good breaks and flashed one shot across the goal but there was no one there to follow it up.
At the back, we looked well in control and Nyron negated the aerial power of Heskey with a strong and powerful performance while Ferdinand and McCartney settled in well. Ferdinand looks a cool character and should form a good Sarff London partnership with his lifelong mate, Nozza.
Again, the midfield was busy but failed to dominate their Wigan counterparts. Considering that they were a man lighter than us in that area, that is a disappointment and when you consider that one of that four was Cattermole, who is to creative football what Mike Ashley is to sensitive management, it was doubly disappointing.
Up front, Cissé worked hard but a constant second half supply of long, aerial balls does not suit him. He needs it to run onto and if we are considering paying £13m for him, we need to play to his strengths. Maybe he should have scored in the second half, but all credit to the impressive Chris Kirkland, who advanced quickly and spread himself well. With young keepers like him and Joe Hart, Capello should have little difficulty in filling the No 1 spot for the next few years.
So, a point gained or two lost? Let’s be charitable and say that we took a point off a decent Premier League side who look set for a comfortable season. We would have settled for this last year and although expectations are higher, we are still a fair way from having a settled side. Once the new back four is bedded in and we have decided what our best midfield is, we should make steady progress.
Patience is in short supply in football at the moment. The constant need for headlines and “stories” means that success is needed immediately. The Mags have fallen prey to that and if Robinho does not deliver quickly, the press and fans will be grumbling and chuntering by the end of September.
Let’s be constructive in our criticism and not go overboard in our condemnation. Football teams need time to gel. We are good fans who know that our club is not yet in the same league as the top five (whoever they may be) but we can and will compete with Villa, Blackburn etc.