Me and Middlesbrough’s Aitor feeling the pressure
After every away game, as I leave the ground, I always phone an old friend of mine. He won’t thank me for the use of the word old in terms of his age although we are old friends in that we’ve known each other for more than forty years.
He doesn’t do away games now and so is left to either watch on television, when the game is televised, or listening to commentary on local radio. It was after the Brighton game when he said to me: “It’s putting years on me,” relating to the stresses of watching a team at the top end of the table. I suggested that, at 77, he can’t afford to put too many years on.
I understand exactly how he feels. When you are there it is far easier to deal with the stresses of it all but at Preston last Friday, for example, I felt as if a weight had been lifted when Kevin Friend blew that final whistle.
It’s the pressure of the situation and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Pressure at the bottom of the league is far, far worse and having nothing to play for in mid-table means no pressure but often is just about fulfilling the fixtures and no more.
That takes me on to last night’s game between Birmingham and Middlesbrough at St. Andrew’s. I opted to forgo the two episodes of Coronation Street, which, of course, I will catch up on today, to watch this game and it was, at times, like torture.
I sighed with relief when Jordan Rhodes missed two early chances and that soon became over excitement with Stephen Gleeson’s opener for Birmingham. I had my concerns over the home side’s defending though and a horrible piece of goalkeeping led to Rhodes actually getting a goal before half time leaving me deflated.
It was looking like the expected Middlesbrough win once they’d gone in front because of more bad defending, and having seen him twice recently I am very relieved we didn’t sign Ryan Shotton.
By then I was calm; very disappointed that Middlesbrough were going to win, but calm. Then, and I blame David Davis, things changed. I’m not blaming him scoring Birmingham’s equaliser, far from it, but for the remainder of the game I was almost shaking.
My friend Mikey wasn’t able to watch the game; that sounds like a Friday night drinking session to me. He was confused when I let him know that Daniel Ayala had seen a goal ruled out, the app he was checking was reporting the score at 3-2.
Was it offside or not? Does anyone think I actually care? All I was bothered about was the fact that it hadn’t counted. By the last few minutes I was screaming at referee Simon Hooper, who I thought had a good game, to finish it and as that final whistle blew there was some air punching followed by sheer relief that Boro had dropped points.
I felt shattered, absolutely drained by then and I could certainly not have sat and written this last night as I tried to calm down and get my heart rate back to normal.
I think most people know how highly I rate our manager Sean Dyche and when the cameras showed Aitor Karanka last night it made me feel even more smug that Sean is our manager and we haven’t got him. He hardly inspires does he? He looked like a beaten man towards the end of the game.
I don’t like him. I thought his comments about us a couple of weeks ago were disgraceful and I do have to say that I think the England manager’s pronunciation of his surname is just about right.
Even so, I was staggered with his comments after the game. He was far from happy with the disallowed goal but it really does have to be the pressure he’s under to make such a ridiculous comment as: “The thing that makes me a little bit concerned is that there have been a few mistakes against us at the end of the season and I feel we are not playing under the same conditions as other teams.”
What’s he doing here? Is he accusing match officials of cheating? I would think and I would certainly hope The FA will take a look at these words.
Of course he’s just making excuses for the fact that his team hasn’t won, although he added: “I don’t want to say anything else because I do not like excuses, especially when we have the team we have.”
It turns out that he isn’t happy with Christian Stuani having received a recent retrospective three match ban for an elbow in their game against Preston which was picked up by Channel Five’s highlights programme. Maybe he might wish to ponder that if Stuani hadn’t elbowed Greg Cunningham in the first place, there would have been no ban.
Karanka added: “Are we being harshly treated? Yes, a lot, but it’s not the day today to say anything. Today it was a goal, three weeks ago it was a player suspended for three games. For that reason, it is my concern, not just that mistake today.
“I know the explanation and the explanation will be that they (the officials) saw the offside. For that reason, I don’t need an explanation from them and I don’t think they are going to say anything. The only thing is I want to play with the same conditions, like the other teams.”
The one bit of sense that did come from the under pressure manager who not too long ago walked out on his club, was the fact that they will be promoted if they win their last game of the season next week against Brighton.
The point they did win last night has taken them to the top of the league again with 88 points with Burnley and Brighton on 87 points. It’s still so damn tight so I’d better prepare myself for another stressful day on Monday while Aitor relaxes and spouts more rubbish.Share this page :