“Same old Boro,” the fans chuntered as they left the Riverside Stadium this afternoon, but is that true?
It was not your typical season opener at the Riverside Stadium, played beneath grey skies and driving rain that were reminiscent of winter. Shorn of the preseason expectation that last season’s ‘New Old Firm’ squad brought with them, Middlesbrough began their Championship campaign in relative obscurity.
Large salaries such as Kris Boyd have been moved on and a younger more affordable side was fielded. This is a situation that could be related to by the visiting side, the financial strugglers that are Portsmouth FC.
Boro kept possession well in the early stages and took a deserved first half lead when Marvin Emnes fired home after being set up by Scott McDonald.
Portsmouth captain David Norris equalized just after the break, but seven minutes later, impressive midfielder Rhys Williams fired Boro ahead once more.
However, with injury time ticking down, Luke Varney swooped to round off an entertaining 2-2 draw and leave the home fans disappointed.
The reaction on phone-in’s with Alistair Brownlee of BBC Tees and fans in pubs around Teesside was similar. The ‘late goal’ problem has haunted Boro since the Southgate days and we are now simply cursed.
While there has been an element of truth in that and even this author pondered the issue last season (link in comments section below), have things really not changed?
In Boro’s last 13 games, they have lost only once. Further to that, the team has scored winning or equalizing goals in the last 15 minutes, including some in injury time. That is compared to one goal given up in that time frame.
It certainly proves the theory that negative events are remembered more strongly by fans, but that does not make the “same old” mantra correct in every case.
Mowbray has injected a spirit and energy into the team that suggests while the season could be a fight, it will be met head on.
If you separate emotion and look at the facts, it may not be “same old Boro” after all.
But then you have to ask, when you are talking about a club that has in the last two decades seen promotion, relegation, top 10 Premier League finishes, multiple finals including the UEFA Cup and won its first ever trophy, what exactly is “same old Boro?”
Have things really never changed?