Boro struggling to live up to expectations - Interview
Friday, 19th Jan 2018 11:17 by Clive Whittingham
Things haven’t gone quite according to plan for big spending pre-season title favourites Middlesbrough – Riverside regular James Boothby tries to explain why.
Honestly I thought Middlesbrough would blitz this league this season, why hasn’t it worked out like that?
JB: That is the million dollar question. It could be argued we made too many changes in the summer, and it just took too long for us to make any real progress. Despite spending a lot of money on strikers, we rely massively on Britt Assombalonga to score the goals. Under Garry Monk, there just never really seemed to be a plan of what kind of team he wanted us to be, too many different formations and starting elevens and the players quite often didn't seem to know their roles. That being said, we are still very much in touch with the play-offs so it is not all doom and gloom.
JB: I think most fans, myself included, were cautiously optimistic when Monk was appointed. He tried to play a more expansive style of football but with the players we had it just never worked. We started games too slowly almost every week, and were always capable of a defensive howler or two. A big thing for Monk was that he never really connected with the fans or the area. His press conferences were always bland, stock answers about projects etc. He never really got across his message, and how he would take the club forward. Whilst the timing of the sacking was a slight surprise, it was not a surprise to see him get shown the door.
JB: I think initially it was a 50/50 split between the fans. He has his reputation for 'direct' football, and we all want to see our teams playing free flowing football scoring three every week. However, I think the discipline he brings is something we definitely needed. We now have a system, and all players know their roles. It might not always be pretty, but it is effective. And despite what people may think, it's not been just lump a ball up to Gestede, we have at times played some decent stuff as well.
JB: I think the worst would have to be Ashley Fletcher - £7m on a player we did not need, and in his brief appearances has not really contributed. There is a decent player in there somewhere, but I think his confidence is shot and a loan somewhere will do him the world of good. Assombalonga has scored 12 goals so can't really complain at that, whilst Randolph in goal has been consistently good. Christie was having a good season at right back as well, although seems not be in favour with Pulis. Howson had a slow start, but has now found his feet and is putting in some good performances.
JB: I think money is available, but Pulis wants to trim the squad a bit before bringing anyone in. Would expect more outgoings than incomings, with Fabio already stating a desire to return to Brazil. Can see Adam Forshaw and possibly Adam Clayton also moving on as well as Lewis Baker returning to Chelsea. We could do with another left back to challenge George Friend, and a bit more creativity in midfield. We have been linked with McGinn from Hibs, but been a bit quiet apart from that.
JB: Stewart Downing has arguably been the player of the season, after starting it training with the under 23s. Is at the heart of all our good work and really stepped up this season after a disappointing time last year. And the enigma that is Adama Traore has had a good run of games. He has sublime skills, and frightening strength and pace but the signs are that he is starting to understand the game a bit more and find some end product.
JB: We are more than capable with the squad we have, and I would be disappointed if we finish outside the playoffs. It's a tough league though, and we have given ourselves plenty of work to do.
The Twitter @jamesyboz
Pictures – Action Images
Get two free £10 bets on Stoke City v Queens Park Rangers (or other matches) by opening a new account at William Hill. Place an initial bet of a minimum of £10 and William Hill will give you two £10 bets. You must enter the promotional code ''F20'' when signing up as a new customer.
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 29 bloggers
A Dale Fan Abroad - Reflections on Burton Albion 1 Rochdale 2 by DaleAddict
Lying in bed awake on Friday night I was struck by ‘the fear’. By around midnight it had consumed me, and all of my optimism for the season ahead was gone.
A Dale Fan Abroad - Introduction by DaleAddict
My 11-month old son is taking his afternoon nap. My wife is sunning herself on the balcony of our apartment in Salzburg, Austria. It’s the height of summer, but I have only got one thing on my mind; Burton Albion vs Rochdale.
A Hollywood script plays out in the Spotland sun by AtThePeake
It isn’t always easy being a Rochdale supporter. With the majority of the town’s footballing interest being soaked up by local behemoths Manchester City and Manchester United, the club’s attendances rarely break 3,000 home supporters.
Gylfi Not Irreplaceable- But Not Trying To Directly Replace Him Is Smart by BarneyLW
So the dust has finally settled. In what seemed like the most painstaking saga in living memory, Gylfi Sigurdsson is an Everton player. A man the club were silently resigned to eventually losing has moved on and like so often in the past, the club must plan for life without their star player.
Too many things for a title, but stop with the xenophobia accusations! by waynekerr55
I had planned to write this in a different fashion, but Bob Bradley's departure from the club changes a section of this blog. The conclusion was as expected. A seemingly good man and a tryer who simply wasn't up to the job. In short he should never have been given the job.
Queens Park Rangers Polls