Millwall 1-5 Middlesbrough ~ Pitchside Ponderings

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I am at a loss as to where to commence this latest missive. I usually write this nonsense in a way that sort of cajoles you, dear reader, into a a bit of a make believe scenario whereby I assume you don’t know the result and need to read up on what happened and how the Lions might cover their selves in untold glorification.

After the debacle we witnessed on Saturday, there is no way to sweeten the pill, is there? We were fucking right royally thumped by a superior side that simply tore us a new arsehole, repaired the wound then ripped it open again at will.

A 1-5 reversal at home is, unfortunately, not a rare occurrence, but it is something you cannot accept or get used to or even rationalise, you have to take it on the chin and then vent your spleen against the world in general until the next game comes along giving you a chance to banish the horrendous feelings conjured up by the useless fuckers who caused you the grief in the first place.

It really doesn’t help when you have a managerial team that look like a win double on paper but in reality is looking about as useful as tits on a bull.
Look, let us be honest here, this pasting has been on the cards for some time, the truth is that we have been getting away with murder in clawing back draws for 2 or 3 goal deficits, the alleged ‘spirit’ of the team is basically a smokescreen by said management team to obfuscate and befuddle things to create a smokescreen around the fact that we are a bit of a shambles and have no real identity as a team whatsoever.

Mr Holloway has a problem. In fact, he has several and unless he gets things in some sort of order then pandemonium will ensue and we will drop out of the championship like a damp squib.

Does he know what his best eleven is? What is his preferred formation with his best eleven? The side he put out against Middlesbrough was another example of him just hitting and hoping and yes it easy to say that with hindsight but how many of us groaned inwardly (or even outwardly) when we saw he really was going with a 3-5-2 against a slick, professional outfit like Middlesbrough?

The starting eleven was yet again changed, Forde in goal, Dunne Webster and was it Malone or Wilkinson as the third musketeer? Who knows? Anyway, either one will do and the other can go in the midfield with McDonald, Williams, Upson and Powell with Fuller and Gregory as the two up front.

The Middlesbrough team looked once, looked twice and simultaneously gave each other a knowing wink, hardly daring to believe what they were seeing. We on the other hand knew exactly what we were seeing, yet another half arsed attempt at making some obscure tactical ploy that probably works on championship manager.

The game started and we looked vulnerable from the off, the visitors went about their business in a professional like manner whilst we resorted to blind panic and adopting that oh so familiar headless chicken mode. No leadership out there at all and nothing coming from the bench as Middlesbrough just lined up chance after chance.

The game was only minutes old when Vossen got a free header in that beat Forde but hit the inside of the post and from where we were looked to have crossed the line comfortably but Forde hooked it out and the officials just waved play on.

The same man then found more room than he would have in the Albert Hall but this time Forde’s outstretched leg kept the scores at 0-0.
His third attempt in as many minutes was a complete let off as he again found acres of room in the middle of our area but his shot went wide of the goal.

The relief was temporary, those of us who are a little long in the tooth could see where this was going, it was lambs to the slaughter, and when the first goal went in, and to be honest, it was a corker; you just knew it was the first of many. A lovely volley by Vossen, but why he was allowed to get near the ball is a mystery.

Mr Holloway then sent frantic messages out onto the pitch which had the undesired effect…the lads now went from incompetent to clueless in one fell swoop. 3-5-2 gave way to a more subtle 2-3-5-1 whilst morphing in and out of 5-1-1-2-1 and then settling on 2-1-2-1-3-1…

Obviously it soon got worse, the shambolic tactics were just adding to the pitiful performance and goal number two duly arrived after more slick attacking and inept defending saw a simple tap in for Bamford, our defence looking like a terracotta army scouting party, our manager looking like a bemused bumpkin.

Of course, the crowd were not too pleased with this situation, the vocals commenced with harsh suggestions emanating out from all sides of the ground but by now the players had seemingly switched off completely and looked incapable of even going through the motions.

The third goal saw Vossen grab his second after another simple but devastating move that saw him slot home from close range. It was hard to watch, like a favourite actor turning up in Eastenders, it was mesmerizing and not in a good way.

Willing half time to arrive to save our boys from further punishment, it was a truly abysmal half of football and just when it looked like we had made it to the sanctuary of the half time whistle the bastard Gods of football deemed it necessary to interfere and Vossen gleefully snatched his third and their fourth as our defence went on the missing list yet again.

The whistle ended the half soon after and the catcalls and jeers naturally rang out.

The second half saw a change and this was not a huge surprise to us poor saps watching, Webster being replaced by Shittu and Powell being replaced by Gueye but it was just superfluous tinkering as clearly Middlesbrough were not looking to do anything drastic and were clearly just going through the motions, which really emphasised the chasm between the two teams as we were going full tilt with very little reward.

Gueye was probably our most dangerous player, he looked lively enough so why on earth he was kept in reserve only Holloway knows but it was as I say, all a bit vague and redundant.

The visitors were creating chances almost by default now and if I didn't know better I’d say they were not really trying to score, clearly feeling the embarrassment of the lackluster Lions. Adomah must have used all his skill and know how to miss an open goal from about ten yards out.
With about ten minutes left of this torturous fixture we had the audacity to score a goal. Gueye fashioned a free kick that found its way into the box and McDonald had two bites of the cherry before seeing the ball safely into the back of the net.

We, of course, knew what was coming next and as if to teach the naughty Lions a lesson, Middlesbrough went straight up the other end and bagged a fifth goal.

We learned a lesson there and made an unwritten promise not to score any more and so the last ten minutes petered out as the crowd did likewise. The final whistle invariably heralded the cries of “Shit” and Holloway out etc but in truth even the protesting was half hearted such was the crestfallen feeling around the place.

This wasn't just a defeat; it was a total uncompromising defeat that will take some shaking off. The honeymoon is well and truly over now with Holloway and he needs to start realising that he can’t live off historical achievements. It is all about the here and now not past glories and if he is to make a go of it at Millwall then now is a good a time as any to stop fucking about and get a settled side and stop the rot.

Make no mistake, we are relegation fodder once again, the party, if there ever was one, is over and the next round of games are going to telling indeed.
Brighton away on Friday is a proper relegation game and it doesn't look good, does it?

Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes. Oscar Wilde
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