Can the cup cheer Boro up? Dan Gilgan hopes so…
Another hugely disappointing result on Saturday. Twice in front against bottom-of-the-league Peterborough but once again we let victory slip through our hands.
OK, there were some positives to take from a decent attacking performance, including Dave Kitson’s double strike, but it’s starting to look like a bleak mid-winter ahead. Defensive frailties are showing no signs of abating (despite the new management) and Newcastle United’s charge towards the title seems unstoppable.
It seems like we have only gone backwards since Gordon Strachan took charge and it would be easy to feel despondent, but let’s remember that it takes time to affect change at a football club.
Pressure is on to get results and keep in touch with the league leaders and while I know automatic promotion was the aim, we have to remember the the play-offs keep this league alive right up to death.
Patience is the key for fans, management and players alike. Let’s remember, it’s a sprint not a marathon; there’s no prize for being top of the league in November. That said, our current winless run is becoming a major concern for even the most grounded of Boro fans.
As the league season trundles on towards the Christmas period, I felt a sense of nostalgia at the draw for the FA Cup third round. Drawing Man City at home took me right back to my childhood days when the Boro were always struggling at the wrong end of the Second Division.
Long dour seasons played out in front of pitiful crowds were brought to life by local derbies and FA Cup ties against the big boys. Memories of Malcolm Allison’s team beating Arsenal in front of a bumper crowd of 17,813 at Ayresome Park came flooding back. The chance to see international stars such as Charlie Nicholas, Kenny Sansom and Tony Woodcock was a once-in-a-season experience back then.
It was January 1984 and Boro rose to the occasion in thrilling style on a cold January afternoon. Goals from Gary MacDonald, Paul Sugrue and Mick Baxter were enough to see off the high flying Gunners that day. Sugrue was all over the park and fully deserved his man of the match award.
Charlie Nicholas equalised for the Gunners in the second half before Baxter headed the winner past Pat Jennings, avenging our defeat at Highbury in the previous season’s competition. I can remember walking home thrilled to bits; not only to have seen Arsenal’s stars but to have watched Boro knock them out of the FA Cup.
Steve Gibson’s tenture as chaiman has seen us elevated to a level we could only have dreamed of back in the 80’s. We have gotten used to top-flight football and are accustomed to watching international superstars at the Riverside.
Manchester City’s visit in January will see the likes of Robinho, Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez back in town. With our poor run of form since Strachan took over, I can’t help but wonder how long our exile from the top fight is going to last and how long it will be until we see such great players back on Teesside on a regular basis.