To the point
On the positive side, we managed to draw nil-nil and pick up another point in our quest for safety (one to go to be certain lads), and stopped the rot caused by the five consecutive defeats that have firmly ruined our season.
The game itself was largely forgettable with little of the passion normally associated with Tyne-Tees games, and Boro in particular desperately seeking a draw. McLaren leaving Downing on the bench meant the midfield was a closely packed area, and this resulted in little creative space for either side.
With the first half providing few chances at either end (a fairly weak Milner effort being our best chance of the half) the most memorable moment was the sight of Kieron Dyer hobbling down the tunnel to bring down the curtain on a season which had begun with his refusal to play on the right at Boro and subsequently saw him resurrect his reputation on Tyneside with a string of fine performances, only to be involved in a fracas with a team mate and end it with questions abounding over the likelihood of him getting a new contract.
Shola's entrance, as his replacement, five minutes before half time almost bought a goal, with his header from a corner failing to worry the keeper when he really should have done better.
The second half saw a resumption of a match that neither side seemed sufficiently committed to win. We played a bit better than the first half, creating several reasonable chances, the pick of which saw Milner's powerful shot well saved by Brad Jones in the Boro net, and N'Zogbia shoot over in the final seconds following a fine cross from Shearer. For Boro, Hasselbaink's weak chip straight at Given when through on goal may well be a rued opportunity if Spurs finish the season strongly, but both teams will probably have ended the game reasonably happy. For Boro it's their first point on Tyneside in the Premiership, and for us it's an end to a losing streak that has crippled our season and left us worrying more about the teams beneath us than dreaming of glory in Lisbon or Cardiff.
In truth, the end of the season can't now come quickly enough. We need to get rid of some of the overpaid wasters and bring in some players who are hungry for success and won't be more concerned about scoring on the Quayside than on the pitch.
Souness has a major job on his hands, and nothing he'll have seen last night will have convinced him, or anyone else, otherwise.
Other reports: Talk Of The Tyne, BBC, Guardian