The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE -

I’VE spo­ken be­fore about how a good strike part­ner­ship is the best way to win pro­mo­tion.

But after watch­ing Mid­dles­brough’s 2-0 vic­tory over Derby last week­end, I have to say that their de­fen­sive unit could be the thing that sees them up.

Man­ager Ai­tor Karanka has got the back four re­ally well or­gan­ised and with Grant Lead­bit­ter and Adam Clayton of­fer­ing pro­tec­tion in front, they are a very, very tough side to cre­ate chances against.

Derby are a good at­tack­ing side who score a lot of goals. But they just couldn’t get go­ing be­cause ev­ery sec­ond ball was won by Clayton or Lead­bit­ter.

Mid­dles­brough weren’t great to watch last year. I think Karanka was still feel­ing his way around and try­ing to make the play­ers un­der­stand how he wanted to play.

But they know ex­actly what they need to do and in Pa­trick Bam­ford they’ve got the in­gre­di­ent that was miss­ing last year – a top-class striker with great en­ergy, power, move­ment and, above all, an abil­ity to find space in the penalty area.

It’s a great mix of de­fen­sive and at­tack­ing qual­i­ties and, for me, who­ever fin­ishes above Boro wins the Cham­pi­onship.

TOUGH: Lead­bit­ter

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