A lesson in the dark arts from Colin's men, but City move on with a fairly decent point given the context.
We looked well on top for the first ten minutes. Other than that, not much to go on other than some very admirable defending after going down to ten men to hold on for the point. Fortunately, doing all the hard work and being six points clear at the top allows you to make the odd fuck up. As long this isn’t the start of a habit (aka, a classic late season Norwich collapse), we should still be ok and keep HMS Along Come Norwich away on the horizon.
Even though at the end of the first half, Sky’s commentators noted that Middlesbrough looked “really comfortable” in the first 45, there was a moment early on where the Boro defence fell asleep and allowed Mario to waltz through the middle of the penalty area, only for him to hook the shot well wide. This was a rare example of Warnock’s team falling apart defensively and, if (when) we go up again, these are the sort of chances we really need to put away.
Moment of the Match
Well that probably keeps Arsenal away for this transfer window at least. Referee directive seems to state at the moment that any player who screams in pain is the one that has been fouled after a 50/50 ball – especially if it’s in the team in the attacking side’s own half.
But I don’t blame bias or refereeing standard for such a decision. Referees do not make decisions like this in isolation. Instead directives and interpretations are put down from the powers that be, and for some reason going for a 50/50 challenge now must end up with someone being yellow carded. You will probably see 5 or 6 similar decisions over the course of the next week, but we may as well ban slide tackling completely if you’re going to get booked despite pulling out of the tackle.
With Emi banned for the next two games, Millwall and Swansea will now have to be completed in hard mode.
The Grant Hanley Award for Random Star Performer
Todd Cantwell. The zenith of which was a lung busting track back at around the 55 minute mark after Hanley was sloppy in possession which finally put to bed any lingering questions about his commitment – from fans or manager.
The decision to drop Sørensen raised a few eyebrows amongst City fans on the virtual concourse that is Twitter, despite the fact we now have a fit left back, with additional disappointment aimed at other players who are now on the bench as a result of players returning from injury. At the end of the day, you can only pick 11 players to start and, in a congested season, squad rotation will happen. It’s impossible to play the best starting XI every match. Rotation is a part of the game in most other team sports, it’s about time football got over it.
That being said, Farke probably did his old trick of not bringing a sub on at the precise moment that one was probably needed. Boro were well on top in the first 20 of the second half and were looking on top. Some of our usual suspects got frustrated and…well we all know what happened next.
Imagine being a Middlesbrough fan and seeing Warnock being cock-a-hoop and being the darlings of Don Goodman for playing and shithousing like that. It was a disappointing result, but remember where we are and how we are there. It’s going to be fine.