Boro must learn from defeat at Brum.

THE way Boro lost at Birmingham on Friday night was a joke. A very bad one.
The first half was total domination in Boro’s favour. It looked like they were playing with an extra man.

So to see the way we huffed, puffed and struggled in the second half – and ultimately lost 3-2 – was majorly disappointing.

The three goals were soft.

They came from poor schoolboy errors – “ridiculous” according to Boro boss Tony Mowbray.

It was interesting to hear Mogga say afterwards that we don’t concede cheap goals when Jonathan Woodgate plays.

How will the other defenders, like Seb Hines, react to that?

Mogga must know Hines’ make-up and know that he will react positively to it. Some more sensitive players wouldn’t, but whenever Bruce Rioch criticised me publicly during my time at the Boro I would always want to prove a point in the next game.

It was disappointing to see that Mogga’s double substitution didn’t pay off at St Andrew’s when he brought on Ishmael Miller and Richard Smallwood.

We were looking for a spark after they had brought it back to 2-2, but it never arrived.

Marvin Emnes didn’t feature and apparently he was unwell.

But if he is fit enough to be on the bench, surely he is fit enough to play some part in the game?

Stability is king and three points out of the last 12 doesn’t make for good reading.

Mistakes happen and you suffer defeats, but it’s how you bounce back from them that counts.

Birmingham were terrible and so were Bristol City, but Boro lost to them both. But we rebounded with three goals and a clean sheet against Huddersfield after the Bristol defeat.

And if there is any game where it’s vital to rebound, it’s Peterborough on Saturday.

They are bottom of the Championship and it’s not because they are a good side.

Darren Ferguson is under big pressure at London Road.

Posh have picked up just one point from their last seven games and have won only four times all season.

If Boro score an early goal, that pressure on the Peterborough manager increases.

The flip side of the coin is that Boro are now in a position where anything other than a win at London Road will probably be questioned.

Can we get back on a winning or unbeaten run? Have Boro got what it takes to go the distance this season?

We could badly do with getting some momentum going heading into the festive period, because the archives show that this time of year can be a struggle even before the Christmas lights are down.

Finishing in the top six at the end of the season is what counts most, but you want to stay in contention to build belief and confidence.

EVERYBODY has been raving about Josh McEachran since he has been at the Boro, and rightly so.
There is no doubting his talent. He has got amazing ball skills, he is a creative player and he has got good control.

Like the rest of the team, he faces a big challenge over the course of the busy Christmas schedule.

He is a young lad making his mark in the game and looks sublime when Boro are passing it around, like they did in the first half at Birmingham.

When it becomes to a scrap he can seem to struggle a bit, and as it gets colder and the pitches get heavier, there will be some battles ahead.

But he has just got to roll his sleeves up and get on with it, and the experience can only toughen him up.

And surely it’s just a matter of time before he breaks his goalscoring duck for the club?

JASON Steele has been getting some stick for letting Birmingham’s second goal beat him.

He would probably say himself that he should have saved it, but let’s keep things in context.

Goalkeepers make errors. Ali El-Habsi made the ball look like a bar of soap playing for Wigan against Newcastle the other night.

And watching Match of the Day on Saturday night, I’d never seen so many keepers with handling problems.

Crosses and shots were being spilled and fumbled left, right and centre.

But Josh McEachran and Nicky Bailey both gave sloppy passes away which led to goals.

Neither of them were Steele’s fault.

He is a talented keeper who has grown in stature as the season has gone on.

His lapse in concentration for Wade Elliott’s volleyed second goal for Birmingham – and he will probably never hit a ball quite like that again, by the way – at St Andrew’s was out of character and he will bounce back.

CORRECT me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this new Under-21 development league supposed to be about giving young players a taste of big games in big stadiums in big atmospheres?

By all accounts, the mood at Boro’s 3-2 defeat to Chelsea on Monday night was more like one man and his dog stuff.

That’s no disrespect to the loyal fans who went there in the cold. Hats off to them.

It’s more an observation of how these things are marketed.

The games don’t have much profile and seem to fly under the radar.

Surely there can be some way of getting bigger crowds to attend, a hook to reel them in?

At least that way, there would be some sense of occasion for players, rather than it feeling like a behind-closed-doors game.

I’VE been saying it for years that referees know the rules of football, but they don’t know the game.

Newcastle’s match against Wigan on Monday night was a case in point.

Latics defender Maynor Figueroa was sent off early doors after he brought down Papiss Cisse in the box.

It might have been a red card offence going by the letter of the law, and the referee can only give what he sees fit.

But there didn’t look like there was much in it and officials have got to show some common sense.

It’s a televised game, Wigan’s fans had travelled up to Tyneside to watch it, and more often than not 11 against 10 doesn’t make for a competitive spectacle.

Newcastle fans won’t be bothered – their team went on to win 3-0 to end a barren run – but that’s exactly what happened.

We have all had something to say about referees and assistants at some point or another, but we also know they have a difficult job at the best of times.

Saying things is one thing – and there is a line to be drawn between complaints and abuse, which is unacceptable.

But physical attacks are something entirely different and beyond the pale.

They cannot be condoned in any way, shape or form.

What happened in Holland at the weekend, when a linesman was fatally attacked by three Under-16 players in a game his son was playing in, is absolutely unbelievable.

Sport is supposed to be an escape from every day life, and football is somewhere you can go and have a pie and a pint, or a bet, and forget about your every day worries.

So for a linesman to lose his life at what amounts to a meaningless kids’ game is mind-boggling.

But the world is full of nutters these days. You can’t pick up a paper without reading about some sort of crazy attack or another.
It’s depressing.

You could say that you can’t legislate for incidents like the one that happened in Holland.

But a junior club should know the make-up of its players. The club should be thrown out of the game forever. Banished, gone. Simple as that.

Killing someone is as bad as it gets, and all for a game of football? Shocking.

Thanks to Evening Gazette.

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