Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boro Not at Home with Their Tactics

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boro Not at Home with Their Tactics

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

While some sections of the Middlesbrough population have been gripped by this year's X-Factor, it is the fear factor which appears to have Steve McClaren in its grip.

Carl and Andy Pemberton, the two brothers who make up the act Journey South, are through to the final stages of the TV talent show and those fans who decided to stay at home and watch their on-stage crooning on Saturday night made the right choice.

It is a sorry story of a football match when the biggest talking point is the two formations rather than any passage of play.

But the debate over McClaren's tactics has been raging for months on Teesside.

This time, the manager's decision was baffling.

At home against struggling opponents with just one win this season, Boro should not be cautious in their approach.

If injuries had forced his hand, or if the opposition were Chelsea, playing with a lone front man at home could be excused, but with the attacking might of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Mark Viduka on the bench alongside the creativity of Gaizka Mendieta, it is difficult to understand McClaren's thinking.

He said it was done in the search for consistency and to reward the players who had won at Aston Villa before the international break playing in the same formation.

But what works away from home, when sides can be hit by swift counter-attacks and fast midfield runners supporting a lone striker, is far less effective when you are the home side and the visiting team is content to sit deep and strangle any threat.

It had Boro supporters scratching their heads before the first whistle and it had them booing after the final one, as Portsmouth made their journey south with a deserved point.

It was the second home game in succession that McClaren has headed back to the dressing room with the displeasure of his own supporters ringing in his ears following an equally bitter response to the 2-0 home defeat to Sunderland. …

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