Writer: Mike Field
Date:Thursday March 13 2008
Martin O'Neill has today said that he has no excuses for the pathetic performance against Boro last night.
Speaking on the official site, he refused to consider the game simply a 'bad day at the office' or any of the other excuse ridden cliches in football preferring instead to question the desire of the team.
That is something he says, he's not had to question too often since joining the club.
'We didn't show phenomenal desire. That's not something I've levelled at the players on too many occasions.
'I just thought we were second for far too long tonight and that was particularly disappointing. Now it's my job to do something about it.
'The players have responded before and now they have to do it again. But last night was the opportunity to put pressure on Everton and Liverpool.'
That's the rub for many fans. Prior to Boro we were 8 points behind the Scouser(s) and we really needed to be looking at taking 6 points from the next two games.
I said previously I didn't personally believe that even 4 points would be enough if we wanted 5th place - and four points is now the best we can seriously look at.
After previous errors against the likes of Fulham, this could be the straw that broke our European back.
'I'm not just going to put this down to a 'bad night at the office'. While it can be a mistake to over-analyse things, I know that we have to do better than that.
'It would be too easy just to brush this to one side - we have to play better. Last night was an opportunity for us, which we didn't take.
'Gareth showed some character from the penalty spot, considering he missed a couple of weeks ago at Reading. I was delighted to have got the goal and was hoping that would be the spur for us to go on and get a victory.
'That didn't materialise and it was a case of more of the same. Throughout the game and particularly in the first-half we didn't create enough.
'You can have spells of 10 or 15 minutes like that in any game, but we just never got going and that was our problem.
'When we did have possession we gave it away too easily and I don't think you can afford to do that in this league.'
Silly, sloppy errors have cost us again. And again it's our lack of consistency that has cost us.
As JF noted in his match report, Young and Maloney starting on wrong sides. Knight starting ahead of Mellberg.
It'll take some effort to bounce back from this and get 5th place now. We need to hope others self implode like we have a few times this season to be in with a shout now.
Date:Thursday March 13 2008
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