Result: Middlesbrough 2 – 0 Bournemouth.
Eat a dick Eddie Howe!
I deliberately decided start writing the Real Life Football – Boro blog entries on this match as I was WAY too angry after the Watford match and way too emotional confused after the Arsenal match (#whenfantasyfootballaffectsreallife). sdMoving on from those games, Bournemouth were next up at the Riverside, arriving on the back of a 0-0 with Spurs and also enjoying a lovely little 5 match unbeaten run.
When I saw first the team sheet, I actually scared myself a little as I was pleasantly surprised. I thought I needed to have a rethink about the character I had created as the Pessimistic Boro fan and although the result and the overall performance was pretty tidy, there were still reasons to be pessimistic. Adama Traore starting for a 2nd match in a row over Stuani (Apart from his goals so far he is utter shite), the hugely ineffective Martin De Roon dropped (Though replaced by Downing…) and Chambers returned alongside Gibson were all reasons to be optimistic though. From a defense and central midfield point of view, I believe we had our best Premier League standard players on the field.
Valdes, who I have been massively critical of so far, is finally starting to make some saves (I’m sorry, but that goal he conceded against Watford was not a worldie and he should have done better). It looks like the performance against Arsenal has helped his confidence as he had a solid afternoon with one VERY good save to push a Wilson shot onto the bar.
For central defense, as much as I like Ayala, I think that we have 2 young English centre backs who both have huge potential. Ayala struggles when players run at him but is brilliant in the air. If we were playing Burnley (Fuck off Burnley), I would expect to see Ayala in with Gibson but as it was Bournemouth, Chambers was definitely the right choice. On Gibson, he has been one of our best players so far this season and he’s grown into a much more logical defender. He knows when to smash it into row z and when to take a bit of time and play a simple pass. George Friend is a no brainer (not sure he should be captain mind), what he offers defensively and offensively is a huge boost to the team. Now, as much as I would say Barraghan is better than Nsue for the right back position, I still have my question marks about him. He started the season off very well, I had no doubts. However, time and time again recently he is getting caught out and doesn’t seem to show any tenacity to retrieve the ball. There was one dangerous moment in the match when he lost the ball close to the 6 yard line and then just stood watching King dance around. The fans are with him for now, but if they sniff any hint that he isn’t putting his 100% in they’ll be on him.
There were only a few shaky moments but overall, Bournemouth didn’t offer anything, which is surprising as they’re a decent team.
Defense Rating: 8/10
Clayton and Forshaw are definitely our best choice central midfielders without question. Forshaw is running the show but certainly needs to play some quicker forward passes instead of doing another pirouette like he’s auditioning for Strictly. Clayton get stuck in and adds bite but does get done by pacey. It was good to see Leadbitter back from injury, he’s been our leader on the pitch ever since we signed him back in 2012 though I wouldn’t welcome him back into the starting 11 on a more regular basis.
The interesting part of the team is the 3 attacking midfielders; Downing, Ramirez and Traore.
Downing, albeit was in the right place at the right time for the 2nd goal, does not do it often enough. We barely ever have more than Negredo in the opposition box and the crosses into him are very often lackluster to say the least. Downing is our most experience Premier League player, he needs to shift up a gear and give us more from an attacking sense. Defensively though, you can’t fault the lad. He gets stuck in and clearly Middlesbrough competing in the top flight again means a lot to the lad.
Ramirez is a strange one. He can go missing from games, he can get frustrated and quite often is on the edge of getting sent off but he’s 100% our best attacking central midfielder (Though only because we have no one to replace him with…). His goal certainly shows what he’s capable of but he needs to find more consistency to his game to really help the team.
Traore I was raving about for weeks. It was clear his pace would scare teams and we could use him as our outlet when the pressure was on the defense. His performance last week against Arsenal certainly put himself on the scope of the Match of the Day pundits and journalists around the world as they all decided that they would analyse how quick he was and publish articles galore on it. I was pleased to see him starting… but as I listened to the match something concerned me about him. He has a bit of an attitude problem. He took a knock but got up to 89 minutes, but it was from that moment that his shoulders dropped, his head was down and he suddenly looked a shell of the confident galloping rhino that we saw against Arsenal! So much so that the players during the match would go over to him to try and give him some support to wake him up. It was concerning and I hope we don’t see much of that over the coming weeks.
Midfield Rating: 7/10
Negredo… where do I begin? When we signed him I was excited. Although he didn’t score many for City, I always saw him as a presence that helped the team overall so was surprised when they sold him (And ultimately replaced him with Bony… Good one). I still like him. I think he adds a lot to the team, he’s certainly a presence for Boro, but we also need him to very quickly find his scoring boots. Chance after chance after chance after chance has fallen his way since the first game of the season but he can’t seem to put any away. He either misses the target, takes too many touches and just kicks it straight at the keeper. Every Boro fan seems to bang on about this, but surely Jordan Rhodes deserves more of a chance than the standard 2 minutes he gets. Even as a partner to play off Negredo, something has to change up front.
Striker(s) Rating: 5/10
While there are certainly some issues that need addressing sooner rather than later, it has been difficult to be pessimistic about this performance / result. We finally beat a team that we were targeting for 3 points! Where was this for Stoke, West Brom, Palace, Watford…
Overall performance rating: 7/10
Next up for the Boro is Manchester City, where I predict a 4-0 loss so anything less than that is a bonus.