Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Boro crash out of Carling Cup

Boro suffered their first set back of the season last night as Nottingham Forest earned a place in the third round of the Carling Cup. Forest won 2-1 after extra time with Polish midfielder Radoslaw Majewski sealing the win in extra time.

Gareth Southgate made three changes from Saturday's side, replacing Tony McMahon, Jonathan Grounds and Leroy Lita with Justin Hoyte, Andrew Taylor and Jeremie Aliadiere. Boro looked good to continue their winning run when Adam Johnson completed a neat move by sweeping past Paul Smith just before half time.

The defence was breached for the first time this season early in the second half. Boro failed to clear a corner kick and Danny Coyne could not keep out Luke Chambers' shot. Forest's influence grew after Billy Davies introduced Nathan Tyson and Dele Adebola. Adebola was involved in the winning goal, squaring for Majewski to score in the 103rd minute.

The Carling Cup exit may yet prove to be a timely reminder of the limitations of Boro's squad after a strong start to the season. It is clear that any additions to the squad can only be made after players have left. There may finally be some progress in this regard, with Southgate confirming he omitted Tuncay from the squad as he "didn't feel he was in the right frame of mind for the game".

There will continue to be plenty of distractions until 5pm next Tuesday. What shape Boro's squad is in by then will dictate how successful a season lies ahead.


Boro's exit was far from the top of the Carling Cup agenda after a night of depressingly predictable violence at West Ham. It is cliched in such instances to point out that the troublemakers represent a minority of West Ham and Millwall fans - in this case that minority is still far too big to be ignored.

A man lies in hospital today after being stabbed. More were injured. Local residents endured a night of terror. For this to happen over a football games isn't just wrong, it is absurd.

Its hard to think of anyone who comes out of last night untarnished. The majority of the blame has been apportioned to the West Ham fans but the visitors are hardly unblemished. There were widespread reports of monkey chants towards Carlton Cole and fights with police and stewards.

As well as widespread violence before and after the game, Hammers fans invaded the pitch on more than one occasion. Junior Stanislas' mindless goading of the away fans after his equaliser is not a moment to be proud of either.

After a traumatic week for the club, there may have been a forlorn hope that some semblance of dignity would descend on the occasion. Calum Davenport's career may well have been ended by a horrific stabbing at the weekend. Midfielder Jack Collison's father died a day after Davenport and his mother were stabbed. The contrast between Collison's quiet dignity and the brainless louts on the Boleyn Ground pitch could not have been starker.

The most depressing result of last night is that the inevitable consequences will hurt normal, civilised people more than the morons who instigated the trouble. Many of those in attendance were already the subject of banning orders and it seems naive to think many of those were even bothered with the match as a sporting contest.

The reasonable bulk of West Ham's fans will be the ones to suffer if their club is penalised by expulsion from the competition or are ordered to play behind closed doors. Wider still, it seems the frequently heavy-handed treatment of away fans will not be going away.

There's few other spheres of social life where the kind of profiling and restriction of movement that travelling fans can face would be tolerated. Such a high profile instance of public disorder at a football game will only encourage a safety first, guilty until proven innocent approach.

Thanks to the actions of some who choose to associate themselves with these two clubs, the rest of us will all suffer. Sadly, you really don't need to wonder if they'll be proud of themselves for very long.

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