Boro are set for long, hard grind in bid to secure promotion
IF Boro are going to win promotion this season, they will have to grind their way to the Premier League.
There’s a tremendous pool of power, mental strength and sheer commitment in Tony Pulis’ squad.
But there isn’t a great deal of the kind of football flair which puts fans on the edge of their seats.
To be fair, this is not Pulis’s fault. He was desperately keen to bring in a couple of enterprising attacking players before the transfer deadline.
While Boro have largely developed as a team in Pulis’s image, the manager had hoped to have more impact players in place in the final third of the pitch.
We knew that Adama Traore would be missed. But maybe we didn’t think the Spanish speed king would be missed this much.
Despite a trend for “winning ugly”, which is a popular phrase now used on social media, it doesn’t mean that Boro won’t remain at the forefront of the push for promotion.
They have got the kind of steel throughout the side which most Championship managers would give their right arms to have.
And Boro also possess a massive threat from set pieces which most other clubs cannot match.
In this respect they are a frightening prospect to face and can put their opponents mentally on the back foot before a ball is kicked.
However, until January at least when the window re-opens, Boro will become a team of grinders, concentrating on wearing down the opposition.
It’s a saving grave that a steady flow of goals will surely come from the back four because – George Saville
apart – Boro are not blessed with a squad of goal-scoring midfielders
No doubt Pulis spends plenty of time looking at the team’s attacking output and how it can be improved.
Clearly Boro don’t appear to be creating anywhere near as many goalscoring chances as they did in games last season.
On the other hand, they are stronger in other areas, particularly in midfield.
Even so, it’s a racing certainty that Pulis will look to bring in an experienced right-winger in January and possibly another forward.
Maybe he’ll have a second stab at bringing back winger Albert Adomah from Aston Villa.
In the meantime, Pulis could yet far as Pulis is concerned comes from the fact that the initial two-way battle for the striker’s position has now expanded to a four-way fight.
Britt Assombalonga virtually had the role to himself at the start of the season while loanee Jordan Hugill was making a full recovery from a hamstring injury.
Hugill has since regained full fitness and is putting pressure on Assombalonga.
However, the battling win at Preston suggested that another two players are now knocking loudly on the first team door.
Rudi Gestede has finally recovered from the injury which wrecked his early season hopes. He is certain to be a contender for a place in Pulis’s lineup.
estede is the big, bustling type of striker which Pulis likes, though he still needs to improve his goals output if he is to re-establish himself in the side.
In addition to Gestede, Ashley Fletcher is also advertising his claims.
The 22-year-old has not always enjoyed the best of times since joining Boro. He also had a largely unproductive loan spell at Sunderland.
There was talk that Fletcher might again be loaned out this season but he has stayed, stuck to his task and suddenly is worthy of consideration.
It’s crucial that the man up front gets a fair number of goals for Pulis’s side, so the manager will appreciate the battle for the shirt which is developing.
At the same time, Boro are unlikely to be the Championship’s most prolific goalscorers.
If they have to grind their way back to the top flight then so be it. find one or two answers from within.
Lewis Wing. has done nothing wrong and was arguably unlucky to lose his place, having made a huge impression in early season.
Wing is a naturally lively player who is comfortable in a wide role, while he usually tends to pass the ball forward. He is also a wizard in dead-ball situations.
The youthful zest of Marcus Tavernier is also worth another chance, especially as the 19-year-old appears to have progressed this season.
Tavernier scored a good goal at Preston in the Carabao Cup last week and will have received a confidence boost as a result.
Maybe the biggest attacking plus as
Lewis Wing of Middlesbrough salutes fans