Often Partisan

Middlesbrough Reflections

Birmingham City were denied a win by 10-man Middlesbrough who fought back and equalised Paul Caddis’ penalty with a goal from Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford. Clayton Donaldson could have won it at the end for Blues but missed with his header condemning Blues to another winless game.

Before the game, I’d have happily taken a draw – indeed, I remarked to the people I was sitting with that I thought 1-1 would be a good result. Bearing in mind I also picked Caddis as first goalscorer I’m actually gutted I didn’t back my instincts fully with the bookies – but these thing happen; its easy to look back and see what you did wrong and I think many Blues fans are guilty of that with this game.

It’s certainly true that Blues allowed Boro back into it; that they took their foot off the gas and that when David Davis went off they lost a lot of strength and shape in the middle. However, I’m not going to take away the fact that Boro are a damn good team – their equaliser came at the end of a fine move that cut through the Blues defence with precision and guile. They used the full width of the pitch to attack us, passed it around beautifully and looked every inch a team that was going to go up.

Blues on the other hand struggled – Cotterill had about the worst game I’ve seen him play; Gleeson looked lost without Davis, and poor Callum Reilly just looked lost. There have been calls to rotate players but I’m struggling to see who can come in, especially if Davis is now crocked for Saturday. Reilly struggled and I don’t think can do the job and I think Blues will have to either put Jonathan Spector or even Rob Kiernan into midfield to cover the former Wolves player; without any new signings Blues will have to look to Reece Brown for bench cover or if he’s completely out of favou maybe even dip to Liam Truslove or recalling Charlee Adams.

I think David Cotterill will have to be benched too, just to remind him his place is not guaranteed with either Dimmi and Lloyd Dyer covering the wings; maybe Lee Novak could go left or even Koby Arthur on the right if Dimmi isn’t fully recovered from illness. I know Rowett does want to bring in players but I never accept they will be in the team until we’ve got them – as you never know how long it will take to bring them in, particularly when you consider just how picky Rowett is about the players he wants.

I never thought we’d make the playoffs and lower midtable is about where I think we should be – I’m not panicking yet about the results and I think we’ll be fine. However, I don’t believe Rowett is immune from criticism either – as much as a believer in the Rowett Revolution as I am, I think the tests are now upon him and he needs to improve as Blues do need points – particularly if we do get hit for a ten point deduction.

I’d like to thank Mike and Nicky for their awesome hospitality last night – it was most appreciated.

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36 Responses to “Middlesbrough Reflections”

  • John Ramsay says:

    A fair summary of the match. No point fans moaning about the players, they try hard but most haven’t got the quality, you can only get what you can afford.
    I agree about Rowett, now comes the big test. I thought Thomas looked dangerous and I am disappointed he didn’t come on earlier.
    Middlesboro might have some decent players but they are a horrible niggly team, taking cheap shots at our players and complaining to the ref all match.

  • Richard Granfield says:

    Blues at the moment are a lower mid table Championship side. This of course is a massive improvement over last season when we looked like relegation certainties.
    When we play promotion chasing teams such as Middlesbrough we need luck to get a result. We got the luck required with the sending off.
    Back in 2011/12 we rapidly sold all our best players. The way back to the PL will be much slower and will need financial backing from hopefully new owners.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I don’t think there’s a whole lot wrong. It just needs tweaks here and there. Certain players, like Cotterill, Donaldson, Gleeson, Shinnie, have all gone off the boil.. and as they’re important to the way Rowett plays, it’s going to affect us badly going forward, as witnessed these last few games. Maybe, as OP mentioned, put Novak in on the left. He’s not the greatest player in the world, but he never gives less than 100% and, defensively, he’s the best left sided forward we have.

    As for Cotterill, he’s the most frustrating player in the squad. When he’s on his game, he’s unplayable.. but when he’s not, omg, he’s pants. It’s time we had an alternative to his free kicks and corners. We’re far too predictable in those areas. Time to give Cotts a rest and play Gray on the right methinks. (Talking of FKs and corners… is Grounds the only player we have who can attack the ball??)

    Finally, on to Donaldson. I always sigh at the end of a game and think what might have been. No one could ever criticise his effort and commitment, he has them in spades.. but his finishing, at times, is worse than non-league. Yes, he has 10 league goals in 30 games.. but he’s actually only scored in 6 of those 30 games. We have to have an alternative.. whether that’s playing someone else, or giving Donaldson a partner, because with him, Cotterill Gray and Shinnie not scoring… we’re left with Paul Caddis as our main goal threat.

    Changes are not ideal, but may be necessary.

  • Mineheadblue says:

    I don’t know if it’s just a confidence thing but at the moment Donaldson is costing us. He’s missed a number of chances in recent games that have effected our points total. I know he’s not the only one but HE IS our only recognised striker in the formation that we always seem to play now. Playing people in the hole or midfielders flooding the box only works if they can finish!

    Personally I would like to see two strikers on the pitch and at least the willingness to play 442 if the occasion warrants it. I really hope that GR will try to bring somebody in on loan (you’ve only got to look at the difference loan players made to both Millwall and Middlesborough).

    • StaffsBlue says:

      It’s ok playing someone in the hole, but they need to contribute a few goals too… we can’t just rely on a mis-firing striker. Shinnie plays in the hole most of the time, but has only scored 1 goal in 16 league games. Other than that, Donaldson has 10 goals in 30 games. Gray has scored 4 goals in 15 league games. Cotterill 6 goals in 30 games. It’s not enough.

      • Tony says:

        We need to realize we are not a top championship, side the quality just is not there, whats happened is Rowett had them playing above themselves, that has now settled down to a level still considerably above Clark’s, but we are at best a lower mid table side.
        Main problem is the strikers are just not good enough, how Donaldson missed that header I just don’t know I could have scored it.
        If we can just hang on and maintain a 10 point gap from the bottom three thats all we can ask, then hopefully we will be sold.
        There is a nightmare scenario what if Blackpool by some miracle stayed up and we finished 9 points above them but were relegated because of the points deduction. Thats to horrible to even contemplate.

  • The Francis Fake says:

    The first half was very impressive and we outplayed boro for large periods. The problem against 10 men for Blues is that they are unsure whether to stick or twist. The natural instinct is to sit off and that encouraged boro on. However, I am concerned of the lack of balance between right wing and left in the 2nd half. Everything came down the right and Cotterill had an off night. I wouldn’t drop him though bearing in mind his assists and goals this season. Hardly anything went down the left 2nd half and Gray and Dyer never had a kick. Donaldson is a poor header of the ball unfortunately and rarely wins headers when being challenged, he needs ball to feet.

  • Sheldonman says:

    As you say, as much as we all admire Rowett for dragging us up the table, he should not be immune from criticism, particularly after the recent run of poor results. Our players, whilst hard working, are fairly ordinary, for obvious financial reasons, and realistically they all have to play well for us to stand a chance. If they are not all on song, then we get found out. The one decisive factor with recent results, in my opinion, is the goal scoring form of Donaldson. Again no-one can accuse him of not working hard or getting into good positions, but he has missed a few gilt edged chances, which were winning us games before. I think he needs one to go in off his backside to get some confidence back. With regard to Shinney, am I in a minority who thinks he is not that great ? To me he seems a bit slow and gets knocked off the ball too easily and is a bit of a luxury.
    Finally, to the idiots who sit behind me in the main stand, well done for cheering when Davies went off injured. If you don’t like a certain player (which you obviously don’t based on constant barracking),don’t celebrate when he limps off after giving his all

  • Lee says:

    Our players cost nothing, that’s a major pitfall if your expecting consistency, first half we were decent, amazing how quickly the moaning starts, after we’ve had an unbelievable run and reality sets in, their fans were well made up with the result at the end of the game, maybe a sign of how well rowett has done, we got a good point last night against a very good championship side, Nigel Pearson was there last night watching their goal scorer, put things in context, with a bit f luck we could have nicked that at the death, with that squad things are always going to be frustrating

  • WombourneBlue says:

    For me, the most disappointing aspect of last night was that we looked like a Lee Clarke team in the second half and seemed frightened to death to go forward. It was interesting to hear Gary Rowett on Tom Ross after the game taking about the players not being brave enough, because I think in this instance, his failure to make changes when things were clearly not going right, cost us two points. Shinnie and Cotterill were pretty awful thoughout, and Thomas should have been brought on much earlier to inject a bit of pace. I agree with Sheldonman about Shinnie being too lightweight and slow, but we are limited in terms of replacements. The other frustrating thing for me last night was Randolph kicking every ball straight down the middle where Donladson won very little – even if he was winning flick-ons, no-one is in front of him to benefit. Be interesting to see what Rowett does on Saturday – I’d be surprised if it’s the same starting eleven and Davies would be a big loss. Let’s hope for a much needed three points.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I’ve been saying this about Randolph since last season. The days of players like Duncan Ferguson have long gone, so why do keepers persist in the long punt down the middle? It’s no wonder our forwards are always playing with their backs to goal. We need to get it down and play.. and feed the forwards whilst they’re facing the opponents goal, not their own.

  • Dave mann says:

    Totally agree Lee, we made a very good championship side and premiership bound side look very ordinary last night and were a bunch of misfits and freebies and we still should of best them even if they had kept 11 players on the pitch…. From what I saw last night the bench is weak and Thomas was the only one who put a shift in so changes to the first 11 are not the answer IMO … Maybe a change in formation with Thomas and Donaldson up front and play a 4-4-2 because cotterill, gray, shinnie and Davis could adapt to that no problem or maybe glesson who had a descent game I thought but sorry I wouldn’t go near dyer , hardly touched the ball !! Kro

    • henrybloo says:

      What game were you at ? Gleeson had an absolute mare .He was the second worse player on the pitch .That accolade goes to Reilly .

      • Tony says:

        Think we have to cut our losses with Reilly he is clearly not good enough, Im struggling to think of a player with a worse distribution contribution than him, he cant make 3 yard passes.

    • RichardM says:

      At a different game to me Dave if you think Gleeson was OK….

  • raymondo says:

    I think that with the Div ! players that Clark bought into this club we are doing as well as anyone could expect and we’re still capable of getting enough to stay up (even with a 10 pt deduction). If we go down we’ll have a promotion team next season and big crowds. If we stay up we might have the same, if we get new owners. So either way we can have something to look forward to. So look on the bright side! I’d be more worried if I was a Villa fan (god forbid!). They’ve got defeat in the FC Cup and relegation to at least half expect! KRO

  • John says:

    Blues worked hard in the first half and deserved to be leading at the break. Second half, it looked like we had only 10 men, this was because of Boro’s far superior skill levels. This is not the fault of Gary Rowett , or his players. It is the fault of the directors, who have no interest in the club or it’s future. As a consequence of their ineptitude, we have a group of players, who although honest and hard working, are only just about up to Championship standard. With proper financial backing,, I,m sure Gary Rowett would produce a team capable of gaining promotion. After that, well, I,m not sure. Lets hope Ernst and Young, can convince BIHL, that it is in their best interest to facilitate the sale of BCFC. Until that happens and a better standard of players is at Rowetts disposal, I don’t think we should criticise the players, or the manager. They are doing the best they can.

  • Retired&Weary says:

    I think people saying that Blues were the better side in the first half were looking through rose-coloured glasses. Yes they fought back well after another very slow start & took the lead. It was very disappointing then not to win against a team with 10 men. I did fear that Boro would still dominate with 10 men because they were populated by far better footballers than Blues. The Davis loss was crucial as many have said. What on earth has happened to Reilly? Doesn’t even get stuck in or get around the pitch now. I bet GR wishes he had brought on Thomas for Davis & gone 442. Midfield was being missed out anyway.
    I do take issue with the Shinnie criticism; not strong enough, too slow, etc. In my opinion he’s the best footballer we’ve got at the moment, the only one who seems to move in to space when we’ve got possession, & looks to find space to receive from throw ins. The rest are like statues, which is why we keep giving the ball away. Boro have more of that type of player, which is why they had options when they had the ball.
    I agree it is time to give a few a kick up the backside, Cotterill in particular. Spector needs to move in to midfield soon, hopefully in place of Gleeson.

  • Eric says:

    Don’t forget Donaldson got the penalty. This is the former manager’s team as Morrison is sadly injured. Lets be thankful for what we have rather than moaning all the time. Most players are from lower divisions plus youngsters. I am happy we are still mid table and I agree with Dan – lower mid table will do. Then we hope for a sale………………………………..

  • DoctorD says:

    Let’s not forget Rowett’s league record stands at playe 17, won 7, drawn 7, lost 3. I think we have done exceptionally well since the new boss came in and, now that things are slowing down a bit, we’re annoyed as we had started getting a bit greedy. But what an improvement over the Clark era.

  • Sheldonman says:

    Although there are degrees of happiness, I am happy with mid -table, happy to have Gary Rowett in charge and happy with the commitment shown by the players. My point about Donaldson was that he has obviously lost confidence in front of goal. Against Fulham he missed 2 or 3 good chances, against Millwall he missed one before they scored and last night he missed a real good chance at the end of the game. I realise others should chip in and strikers go through these periods, but as our main striker you would hope that some of them would go in.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I don’t think for one moment we’ll be close to relegation… not even with a 10 point deduction. I don’t think people are really moaning, because really, we’ve done well the past few months. We’ve had a few chances to crack the top 10 in the last few weeks, but have squandered those chances. It’s not moaning or complaining to be a bit disappointed with some of the results.

    • Hillfield blues says:

      Agree 100% staffs. It’s the very nature of a football fan to want more and to see how far we can go off the back of a bit of success.To me what GR has done already is pretty amazing from what he inherited when he arrived and we need to look at the bigger picture. Mid table security will do very nicely thank you very much!

      • StaffsBlue says:

        It’s not as though we’re getting well-beaten in these games. For the sake of a bit of luck here, a risk there, maybe a bit more bravery when we have the ball… we could (and should) be 9 or 10 points better off now.

  • liam says:

    Have to remember most of these players are free transfers and play like it at times

  • andy says:

    Donaldson’s goalscoring record has always been impressive, his workrate for the team is excellent but if he was sticking chances away every time he got one he wouldn’t be playing for Birmingham.

  • Shirley Blue says:

    I think one problem area is central defence. If we had Morrison back and another good centre back we could push up 10 yards as a team. Gleeson is sitting just in front of Spector and Robbo to screen them but it gave Boro a lot of space in midfield. For most of the first half we were the better side and that takes some doing against a very good side with some cracking players. Yes Cotterill had a poor game but if the alternative is Dyer then Cotterill has to play. Bringing Dyer on pretty much lost us our man advantage as he did not get involved. Reilly looked like little boy lost. Hope Davis is ok because we have nobody to replace him. Very quiet home crowd last night. Given what GR and this team have achieved to get us mid table I don’t know why.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Absolutely agree about the defence and centre midfield. That’s why we seem to have reverted to our old habit of sitting far too deep. For me, Robbo, as captain, should be urging the midfield to move forward and bring the defence up with him. He’s experienced enough to know that sitting that far back will always invite the opposition to attack.

  • Bluenosesol says:

    We really need E&Y to make quick progress as I suspect that their eventual clarification of finances will dictate whether or not we get the 10 point deduction. If we get it now, it will serve as a motivating stimulus and we will pull clear of the relegation zone. If the current run continues and we continue to fail to score and win for the next few games, then we could be hit with a delayed 10 point deduction which will put us firmly at the bottom and a mountain to climb. So come on E&Y pull your fingers out and earn them megabucks!!!

    • RichardM says:

      I think the dealine is March 26th, if after that date the FL decide to deduct 10 points it has to be next season.

  • andy says:

    I agree with reminding Cotterill that his place in the team isn’t a forgone conclusion and that giving Koby Arthur a chance is a good option. Cotterill was poor last night no doubt about it but as Rowett once pointed out, he is capable of executing a brilliant finish to win a game for us even when he plays poorly.

    • Shirley Blue says:

      I think people forget we got Cotterill for free from Doncaster Rovers. At times he has been brilliant. If he could do that every week he would be in the Premier League. Be careful what you wish for. It’s got to be better than watching Lee Novak trundling around creating nothing which we did for two years.

  • Adiedee says:

    I think Cotterill is one of those infuriating wingers, that can stink the place up for 89 minutes, but can produce one piece of skill that will produce a goal out of nothing. Therefore he is a player that it is dangerous to take off because he is playing poorly, as it might be 30 secs before the good move and goal he would have created had he stayed on!


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