Everyone of the players who took to the field on Saturday can feel more than happy with the level of their performance, but three players in particular stood out; Ryan Donk, Chris Brunt and Pedro Pele. In the case of the first two players they have bben in the team in previously but have not impressed, and some of Donk’s performances were woeful. Pele has barely been selected for two consecutive games since he was signed 18 months ago. Against Boro, all wer excellent. Donk has been thrust back into the first eleven after injury to first choice centre back Jonas Olssen and the incosistently injured Miete – and on this evidence he is now thriving after a very shaky start.
Chris Brunt has delighted and infuriated in equal measure – as with all wingers he can often be completely anonymous. He is possessed of a fantastic ‘wand’ more evidence came of this with his crossing, particularly the ball he delivered for Korens goal. He also has that rare ability to make the pitch seem much wider; this not only allows him room to snake down the flanks but also pulls the opposition defense about, creating room for the rest of our midfield to exploit. If Mowbray can get a good level of consistency out of Brunt he will be a real asset to us.
Pele is a slightly different case, but it looks like he may be in the team for a few weeks featuring some crucial games. His composure was as unexpected as it was refreshing at the back, and I hope he can continue the form he showed against Boro the next time he pulls on the shirt.
Much has been made of how Mowbray has targeted games to win; less so of our switch to a real 4-4-2 which is paying dividends. At the moment any team in the bottom 12 has got a fair chance, and looking at our remaining fixtures I feel the dangerous tendrils of hope & optimism creeping back into my life. The next league game should put paid to that, home to Man Utd next Tuesday.
Musings on Middlesbrough