So, Boro fans want the team to claim all three points in seven days time? Well how about we play out a draw?
Weird suggestion, I know, but let me explain. If we look back from the year 2000, the Boro have won only two of the last eleven opening day matches. If you look back to those two victories the season that followed was an absolute disaster. In 2000 we claimed victory away at Coventry with the impressive Alen Boksic bagging two. How did the season go? We finished fourteenth and Terry Venables saved the day, following an end of season Bryan Robson sacking.
2008? We all know what happened there… relegation for only the second time in eighteen years and Gareth Southgate’s managerial regime running on borrowed time.
The seasons in which we’ve lost the opening game have turned out to be mediocre at best. In 2007 a defeat to Blackburn set the tone for a dire year where Boro flirted with relegation all season long and suffered a embarrassing and lacklustre 2-0 FA Cup quarter final defeat from Cardiff City – which should of seen Southgate given his marching orders earlier than he did. In 2006, we flew into a 2-0 lead against newly promoted Reading only to lose 3-2 after some comedy goals conceded by a Boro defence minus the aforementioned player-turned-manager.
But a defeat at the beginning of the season hasn’t always been a bad thing. Think back to 2003, a 3-2 defeat to Fulham signalled a season that ended in European football and our first ever trophy in 128 years. 2002 was a learning curve after four defeats in the first four games, but there were bright spots such as the 1-0 win at Old Trafford and getting to the semi finals of the FA Cup.
The draws in 2004 and 2005 respectively saw two of the most successful seasons in the Boro’s history. An opening day stalemate with the Geordies saw the Reds gone on to achieve their highest ever Premier League finish of 7th and a little stint in Europe. However it was 2006 where a draw against Liverpool led to our last game of the season being in a little stadium in Eindhoven in some sort of poor man’s Anglo-Italian cup.
Whatever happens on Saturday, nothing will be as disastrous as the start of last season. Wee Gordon brought excitement to Teesside with his own SPL Robbo revolution. The Riverside was bouncing the crowds were back and BANG!,1-0 McDonald, nothing could go wrong. That was until the Reds didn’t turn up in the second half and were beaten comfortably 3-1 by Ipswich – the attendances didn’t recover for most of the Strachan mini-era.
So don’t panic as the Mogganaut surely won’t be as bad as the Strachankite – and let’s hope his men give us the draw we need to ensure a successful season.
Written by Scott Easby, We Are Going Up’s Middlesbrough Blogger
Scott tweets at @SEasby12