It’s no secret that Middlesbrough have not had the best start to the season. Before the season began Boro were favourites to win the Championship and bounce straight back to the Premier League.
They appointed Garry Monk as manager, which at the time, was seen by many Boro fans as a good decision. Boro also spent upwards of £50 mill in the summer transfer window signing 10 first team players.
However, despite the influx of players and a new boss, Boro currently find themselves 7th in the league and 15 points off top spot. A position very few Middlesbrough fans expected them to be in this season.
This has lead to Garry Monk coming under huge criticism from many fans. Especially when this season Boro have only managed to pick up one win against a side in the top 15 of the Championship.
One of the many criticism Monk has faced this season is that he is not giving certain players enough of a chance to shine. Here are three of those players who if given the chance, could help Boro start to put together a decent run of form.
After several seasons of not finding any regular football, Bamford started the 2017/18 season looking like he would finally pin down a first-team place. The forward came back to pre-season early to start a special training programme to ensure he would be at top fitness when the season started.
This clearly impressed new boss Garry Monk as he gave Bamford several starts early in the Championship campaign. In those games, Bamford did not appear to do an awful lot wrong. He played either out on the right or behind two strikers, both positions he looked very sharp in. Bamford actually looked like a creative outlet for Boro which was shown in their game vs Sheffield United when Bamford would assist Boro’s only goal of the game.
However, despite not really making any real mistake, Bamford has found himself out in the cold with Monk. And at times he has not even made the matchday squad. This has perplexed many Boro fans. Especially when someone like Ashley Fletcher has been starting games or making the bench.
So, given that Boro still look like they need more creativity on the side, Bamford could be the man to add a little bit of it. As already mentioned, when he was playing earlier in the season he was linking up play well and making sure the strikers were involved in the play. Plus, if Bamford where to come back into the starting XI, he can also play out on the left, meaning Boro could stop playing Marvin Johnson who has not looked great for some time.
Bamford has already proven in his last spell with Boro that he can be a serious threat in the Championship. So, if Monk gives him a few starts, he may rediscover his old form which would help the Teessider’s out greatly.
Traore is a player who divides Middlesbrough fans. Largely because one minute he can take on six players and whip in a great cross and the next he is giving away penalties in the 84th minute to cost Boro the game vs Cardiff or getting sent off in the 4th minute vs Aston Villa.
But love him or hate him you simply can’t deny Traore possesses the skill and pace no other Middlesbrough player has. If Traore were to become a regular starter for Middlesbrough in the Championship there is no doubt he would cause problems for virtually every defence he plays against. He even did so in the Premier League last season.
Granted his end product was awful 80% of the time last season. But in what little we have seen of the winger this season, you can see his crossing is certainly improving.
Take Middlesbrough’s game vs Bolton as an example. Yes, Bolton are not a great side this season but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that Traore had an excellent game that day. He was a nightmare for Bolton’s defence and he even got two assists. This shows Traore can deliver if given the chance and considering Boro are struggling to break teams down this season, someone like Traore who can take on three players and create a chance out of nothing would certainly help Middlesbrough.
Another problem Boro are facing this season is that their two sitting centre mids are not getting involved in the attacking side of play enough. One player who would certainly fix that is Baker.
Baker has had a run in the side for Boro already this season. But that was at CAM. A position that Baker does not normally play. This was evident as he didn’t excel in the role. When he was playing he did have the most chances created of any Boro player though.
However, Baker is natural at CM. He has played 92 career games their, scoring 30 and assisting 17. This shows that if played in the right position Baker can get forward and help out with Boro’s attack.
Granted he is a bit weak defensively. But if Middlesbrough were to play either Grant Leadbitter or Adam Clayton next to him, they could sit deep and defend while Baker got forward to connect the attacking play.