An alternative title to this piece could easily have been Stumbling Block. Right across Europe teams that either had to win to maintain pressure on the league leaders bottled it or table toppers suddenly looked as though they don’t like the limelight anymore and just want to spend some time in mediocrity. Perhaps the most astounding of these was Middlesbrough looking fairly convincing in a 2-0 win over Liverpool at the Riverside, the first time they have managed this for five years. To put some perspective on how long it has been since Gareth Southgate’s boys managed to do anything right I was watching their away win over Aston Villa while in Shanghai, over 8,000kms of land travel ago. If you are reading this at the end of a day’s work think that you’ve just spent that whole time playing football and not scored a goal in that whole time, that being the time between Alfonso Alves putting the ball in the net against Sunderland and Xabi Alonso statuing the ball in for an unfortunate own goal.
Here are some other things that were going on the last time Middlesbrough won:
– UK #1 single they would be listening to – X Factor Finalists – “Hero”
– New Zealand were not yet rugby league World Cup winners.
– Australia were still the best ranked one day team in the world.
– Liverpool were top of the table.