Goal-crazy Boro have FanZoner Dan jumping through Hoops
After weeks of false dawns and near misses, Gordon Strachan’s tenure as Middlesbrough manager exploded out of the starting blocks in West London on Saturday.
This was the performance we had been waiting for to kick start our promotion push and blow away the winter blues. The shot-shy team of recent weeks was nowhere to be seen as we banged in five away goals for the first time since 1994.
And all this came at Loftus Road, a ground at which, amazingly, we had never previously won! Memories of that 6-1 thrashing on the plastic pitch in 1983 and the 5-0 blip in the ’98 promotion season were exorcised and forever banished to history.
Dave Kitson looks a top-class performer at this level and proved it with a classy first-half finish to open the scoring. Let’s hope Gordon Strachan can persuade him to extend his stay beyond January as he could provide the guile and firepower we have often lacked of late.
Kitson’s presence seems to have inspired Leroy Lita back to form as the former Reading teammates looked a force to be reckoned with on Saturday. Lita’s powerful running and determination put the fear of God into the QPR back line.
He scored one goal from open play, one penalty and it was his cannon shot that rebounded off the post for Gary O’Neil to prod home Boro’s fourth of the afternoon. At long last it seems we have a forward line that can terrorise opposition defences!
O’Neil bossed the middle of the park with his usual energetic running and Mark Yeats had his best performance in a Middlesbrough shirt, scoring a fine solo effort in the dying minutes. Even Julio Arca, who spent long spells last season wandering around the pitch like a little old man, started to look like real creative force as the afternoon went on.
How Strachan must have loved every moment; this was his watershed match where everything clicked into place. All those frustrating missed chances of recent games now flew into the back of the net, the sometimes disjointed performances of previous weeks turned into flowing football and even the defensive lapses, that have been so costly of late, were nearly eradicated – although David Wheater did lose his man for the QPR goal.
This was an early Christmas present that Boro’s away following had deserved for their fantasic, noisy support all season. Let’s hope we can take this new found form into the upcoming home games against Blackpool and Cardiff and bring some of that atmosphere back to the Riverside.
I wonder if, come May, Saturday, Decemaber 5th, will be remembered as the day the tide turned for Gordon Strachan’s Middlesbrough?