Well I suppose our run of good form couldn’t last forever, but this was, at times, a painful performance to watch. I can’t remember the last time we gave the ball away so easily (yes, I mean you David di Michele). The last time a centre forward played as badly as Diego Tristan did today, after he came on for the injured Cole, we had Newell and Dowie up front.
The thing is, until they scored we were the better team. In fact, had Lady Luck shone on us – or any of our players had had their shooting boots on – we might have had three goals. But DDM was just totally out of it, even if he did try very hard.
Our poor performance was largely based on the fact that Middlebrough were much better than us at retaining possession and closing our players down. Parker and Noble were totally off their best and boy did we miss Behrami. In many ways, you have to blame Zola’s selection of Boa Morte as Behrami’s replacement. You couldn’t fault his application, but yet again it was all to virtually no effect. Kovacs, or Spector, would have been better bets. Only Collison in midfield was able to distinguish himself, and I’d probably nominate him as my man of the match.
Defensively we also looked far shakier than usual. Collins was at fault for their goal and Upson looked very slow on occasion. I thought Ilunga had a lethargic first half but redeemed himself after half time with an improved second half display.
The best thing to say about our strike force is nothing. Tristan is just not at the races, DDM seems to be a player who has one brilliant game followed by half a dozen terrible ones. Freddie Sears came on after 48 minutes but was almost completely anonymous. Savio looked very bright and must now be pushing for a start at Bolton.
But let’s look on the bright side. Thanks to Ilunga’s goal we now have a second chance. Let’s make sure we use it.
Boa Morte 5
Di Michele 5