An improved performance against Watford on Saturday (I said improved, not amazing, world-beating or anything like that!) might well serve to give the Forest squad the confidence to go one better at Boro. Well, it might. Whilst of course we are near the bottom of the form bragging order, Middlesbrough have stalled in what had looked to be a promotion bid – they have yet to notch a league win in 2012, something even we’ve managed – just!
With the news from the Black Country of Mick McCarthy being relieved of his duties at Wolves, it’s to be hoped that this doesn’t result in a recall for either Elokobi or Guedioura – with the latter putting in an eye-catching performance at the weekend, and the former being our only left-back cover what with us extending Freeman’s loan to Notts County and with Cunningham still being out injured.
The only change in available personnel for us is the availability of Marcus Tudgay who missed the Watford game through illness. Given Steve Cotterill’s favour of the striker, and the not-exactly-impressive showings from either Harewood or Miller then he might well find himself back in the side. Personally I’d like to see him revert Gunter to right-back, and pop Wootton in the middle at the expense of Chambers – can’t see it, though.
Boro haven’t won in their last six league games – three defeats, and three draws. Not a daunting record, although more so when you consider ours – having said that, we have won one of our last six, we’ve drawn one too – of course – and lost the rest. So in terms of ‘who has lost most’ then we are worst off, although have amassed a whole one more point over that period in the league.
They are missing Danny Coyne with a calf problem, and Zemmama and McDonald who are also both out suffering injuries. We’ve picked up no additional injuries, so it’s just Moloney and Cunningham who are likely to remain on the sidelines alongside long term victim Chris Cohen. Suddenly we seem to have quite a few selection options, I wonder how long it will be before the manager complains about too much choice in his post-match interviews?
If I were inclined to have a bet then a low-or-no-scoring draw seems likely. I would dearly like to think that we can kick on and continue to improve our performance levels after the weekend, but I’ve been bitten by optimism before so am a little more cautious now. I’m not even cautiously optimistic and that’s something that makes me feel really rather sad – because I can usually muster a bit of cautious optimism at least.
Elsewhere in the football news Portsmouth are being handed parachute payments early to help ease their financial burden that is likely to see a point reduction should they enter administration again. After some initial confusion over the likely punishment in such an event it’s a ten point deduction that would be handed out. That would put them on level points with us, but (obviously) a better goal difference.
Ordinarily I’d be sorry to see it come to this – but when you patently fail to manage your circumstances despite being handed millions a year to ‘compensate’ for a lack of top flight action then something needs to happen. If anything there is too much leniency being shown. And that’s not just me being bitter because not only did they land us with Steve Cotterill, they made us bloody well pay for the privilege!
Anyway, I digress – a tuesday night trip to the Riverside Stadium isn’t what anyone wants, and both sides stand in need of a change in form for different reasons. It’s difficult to formulate a cogent argument for it being us that does so, maybe Middlesbrough fans feel similarly pessimistic – either way, I’m sad to say that I fear a draw would be seen as a success here. Then it’s on to Coventry at home which, basically, if we can’t win then we are down.