St James Park
By the time our match came onto Match of the Day I`d like to think I wasn`t the only black and white catching up with my beauty sleep (Ed - stop laughing). After 90 minutes of what can`t even be described as mid-table mediocrity I wasn`t really in the mood to sit through an extra two minutes worth of the same shower at 11:55pm. The afternoon`s suitable summary of what the two teams have become doesn`t augur well for either us or Boro for the remainder of the campaign on the evidence of the show Roeder and Southgate`s staff put on.
Listening to Bernie Slaven and Malcolm Macdonald on the Three Legends on Friday night saw both men, regardless of the result, just hoping for a decent game of football. They, like many others, will have been left disappointed by the quality on display. As forwards both former players will have sympathised with the lack of supply the two sets of forwards got from the men behind them.
From a personal point of view GR made a massive cock up - the four man midfield with the link player in Dyer really didn`t work for me at all in this situation. It seems a decent enough tactic when you`re playing Man Utd at Old Trafford, Chelsea at the Bridge or Arsenal at the Emirates but when you`re playing Boro at home it doesn`t exactly work in your favour. This negative thinking immediately put us on the back foot before a ball had even been kicked in anger, coupled with Duff missing out with a bug, continuing his annus horribilis in a NUFC shirt. Having laboured in a similar fashion against Zulte-Waregem it was Groundhog Day all over again.
In all fairness Boro offered nothing. I think they mustered the sum total of one shot all game which pretty much summarised their ambitions. Having watched them here I`d expect nothing less than a ritual humping against the Mancs come next weekend. That said, it`s a good point earned by Southgate and they`ve now managed an impressive haul of 4 points against us this season, whereas our head-to-head against sides has gone right down hill.
Working comparatively we`ve now lost points on last season`s total against Boro, Fulham, Bolton, Sheffield United (in place of Sunderland) and Everton, and picking them up against Liverpool, Spurs and Man Utd. Looking at that it seems we`ve got the Boro bug of raising ourselves for the big games and struggling against the supposed minnows.
In terms of having chances to win the game, Milner came by far the closest, crashing a freekick off the bar early in the second half. Parker also had a chance to win it at the death but Schwarzer earned his corn and kept the Burra in it with a smart save from our captain`s header. That's pretty much a sum total of a 90 minutes that probably could have been spent doing a million and one more productive things.
NUFC: Given, Solano, Onyewu, Bramble, Taylor, Milner (Sibierski 78), Parker, Butt, N'Zogbia, Dyer, Martins.
Subs n/u: Harper, Huntington, O'Brien, Carroll.
MFC: Schwarzer, Parnaby, Woodgate, Pogatetz, Taylor, Cattermole (Morrison 59), Boateng, Arca (Euell 84), Downing, Viduka, Yakubu (Lee 64).
Subs n/u: Jones, Xavier.
Booked: Pogatetz, Woodgate, Taylor.