Middlesbrough Might Be Missing A Settled “Number 10”: Do They Really Need One?

One of Middlesbrough’s biggest problems both this season and for much of last season is their lack of goals.  Last season they managed just 27 goals in 38 Premier League games which were a big part of why they were relegated. This season, in the Championship, Boro are scoring more goals as they have dropped down a league. But they are still lacking in the goal department.

So far this season the Teessider’s have scored just 38 goals in 30 league games. Considering Boro are supposed to be pushing for promotion, this is simply not good enough. Especially when you look at the teams currently occupying the promotion spots. Wolves and Derby who currently occupy 1st and 2nd spots have scored 54 and 47 goals each. Then the four teams in the playoff spots, Aston Villa, Cardiff, Fulham and Bristol City have scored 46, 44, 51 and 42 respectably. This shows that Middlesbrough’s lack of goals is a big part of why they are currently not in a playoff spot.

Their defence is still pretty solid, although it’s not what it once was under Aitor Karanka. But despite this Middlesbrough’s 28 league goals conceded this season is less than both Fulham and Bristol who have conceded 33 and 35 and just one more than Villa who currently occupy the 3rd place. Therefore, it is quite clear Middlesbrough’s attacking threat needs to improve if they are to earn a playoff spot.

Karanka did try to replace Ramirez as Boro showed interest in the likes of Bojan, Jese Rodriguez and Robert Snodgrass. However, none of these deal came to anything. Ramirez then left Boro in the summer and it was now Garry Monk’s job to find a replacement number 10.

Monk’s only sort of number 10 he signed was Lewis Baker. And Baker isn’t even a proper attacking midfielder as he is naturally a centre mid. This left Boro with several other attackers to fill the role of a number 10. Stewart Downing, Martin Braithwaite and Patrick Bamford have all played some games there throughout the course of the season.

Tony Pulis is now tasked with fixing Middlesbrough’s lack of creativity. However, he only took over on Boxing Day. This meant he had little time to assess the squad before signing any players in January. This has lead to Pulis signing just one attacking player in January in the form of Jack Harrison. However, Harrison in naturally a right winger and it is unlikely he will possess the creativity Boro need in at the number 10 spot.

So, Pulis has instead tried to make Adama Traore Middlesbrough main attacking threat. Credit where credit is due, Pulis has got Traore playing some of his best most consistent football at Middlesbrough. But Traore is still young, learning and prone to the odd mistake. Meaning he should not be relied upon to provide the lacking creativity that has plagued Boro’s squad for over a year.

Traore’s improved form is also clearly not enough for Middlesbrough up front. Because in Middlesbrough last four league games they have failed to score in three of them losing 1-0 twice and drawing 0-0 once. They also lost 1-0 to Brighton in the FA Cup after dominating the game. This shows that while Pulis may have steadied a shaky defence, the lack of creativity in the attacking third is hindering Middlesbrough’s goal-scoring opportunities and it is something they need to address sooner rather than later.

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