Boro are set for long, hard grind in bid to se­cure pro­mo­tion

Sunday Sun - - Football -

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

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