Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Plug Gaps in Leaky Defence

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Plug Gaps in Leaky Defence

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Paylor

Boro worked their socks off to get themselves back into the game and then shot themselves in the foot. They look miles away from sorting out their serious defensive problems.

IF there is any cash whatsoever in the Boro coffers, then it must be spent on shoring up the defence.

Despite continual claims from within the club that Boro are too good to go down, they will not stop this disastrous slide towards the Championship until they stop shipping goals.

Another three bad goals given away against Wigan Athletic means that Boro have now conceded 40 in 21 games, which is the joint worst record in the Premiership along with Sunderland.

Boro's poor defending is partly the result of the alarming low level of confidence within the dressing room, though too many individuals are not playing well.

Ugo Ehiogu's return will be fully appreciated once he is match fit again, while the sooner Franck Queudrue returns the better.

But if there are no new faces this month, then only by the whole squad rolling up their sleeves can Boro survive this mess.

The return of Stewart Downing, Ray Parlour and Gareth Southgate on Saturday was a bonus to the squad, though the fear of losing which pervades through the team is making it hard for anybody to settle down and concentrate on their game.

Boro made Wigan look like world beaters in the first half, yet proved to themselves what can be achieved with a bit of passion after the break when they had the Latics on the rack.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was the catalyst for the revival and Boro looked the likely winners when Yakubu finished off a strong spell of pressure by grabbing the second goal in the 66th minute.

With the three points within reach, Boro's self doubts then began to appear and the team could not maintain their impetus.

Wigan's last gasp winner was an almighty sickener, though it was not completely unexpected, especially as it came from a corner kick. …

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