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Club News

PRESS PREVIEW: MIDDLESBROUGH

26 January 2018

REX/Shutterstock
George Friend celebrates his goal at Loftus Road.

Dominic Shaw from the Boro Gazette gives us the lowdown on Saturday’s opponents – who are now under new management and aiming for a return to the top flight.

The side currently sit eighth – two points off the play-off positions – what would be your assessment of the season as a whole so far?

If you had said that the side would be in this position before a ball had been kicked they would have probably been disappointed because the ambition before the campaign was to go up automatically, as they’d spent a lot of money in the summer. 

They broke their transfer record and they wanted to go back up at the first time of asking. There was a bit of a hangover from the latter half of the last campaign and they went down. 

Gary Monk struggled to get going and didn’t find his strongest team and although he insisted they were going to win promotion they were only in the top six once or twice.

Tony Pulis has won three out of five matches – two losses have been 1-0 home defeats so what do you make of the side under him so far?

There are signs that the side are clicking into gear and you can see the improvement and I think teams in that top six will recognise their strengths.  

There was a bit of a transformation in the summer and Monk found that difficult – it’s a month since Pulis was appointed and there’s a lot more clarity now in the side and players seem to be happier with their roles.

You can already see his stamp on the side – they’re well organised and keep things simple at the back and they look stubborn too. But he’s also getting the best out of players going forward now as well.

No arrivals yet this month – are they needed or has the squad got the quality required to achieve their ambitions?

Pulis came in and said he wanted to trim the squad as soon as he came in, and it is a big one.

He says he might bring a couple of loans in but I think the squad is good enough, maybe they’re a bit short on the left-hand side of midfield. He’s tried a few of them in that position and it’s not desperate but there’s not a desperate need to strengthen. 

Where does this competition rank amongst priorities this season? 

In the game against Sunderland in the last round he played a very strong side and he emphasised that he loved the history of the competition.

The only thing to bear in mind this time around is that the side have Sheffield Wednesday in the league on Tuesday evening, so that may impact his thinking slightly.

He might make one or two changes to freshen it up but he sees the squad as big enough to cope and it’s another chance for his players to take in what he’s trying to implement.


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