Written by Tom Flight
There’s a saying in Italian football, “If you want to prevent someone eating, stop the chef.” Middlesbrough have a world class striker in Alvaro Negredo, but no chefs, to feed him chances. With the service he’s had this year it’s amazing he’s managed to net half a dozen goals so far. Their loss at White Hart Lane today means Boro have earned just 3 points since Christmas, and now find themselves very much in the thick of a relegation battle.
It’s hard to criticise Middlesbrough too much. You can’t really be expecting to be pick up points away at teams like Spurs, and anyone calling for Aitor Karanka’s head is an idiot. There is no questioning the commitment and effort from the players, and there were no obvious weak links in the line-up today. Calum Chambers is proving to be the signing of the season, defending pretty much the whole right side of the field on his own, while still managing to get forward, and the rest of the back four along with Valdes, were immense today. It was tough on Bernardo, who has had a few shaky moments the last couple games, was the one whose mistake gifted Spurs the penalty that won the match. Other than that Bernardo was flawless.
Adama Traore had a frustrating afternoon. Spurs pressing game was always going to make life tough for the winger, and save an early cross to Negredo in the opening minutes, Traore was never given the space to do much. Martin de Roon, who scored a dramatic equaliser at the Etihad in November, had a chance to repeat his heroics in stoppage time, but dragged his volley wide. After going a goal down Boro again never offered any real threat, Hugo Lloris not having to make a save the entire match.
Karanka was derided by fans in December after Middlesbrough lost 1-0 away at Southampton, where he stressed the importance of “goal difference” as to why he left it late to make any attacking changes. It’s true goal difference is important (Boro clinched 2nd place by goal difference last season), but Middlesbrough’s goal difference is already far superior to their relegation rivals. It might be time for Karanka and his team to start exploring a more aggressive Plan B when they fall behind.
Big home match against Everton next, then a 6-pointer at Selhurst Park. If we don’t pick up points in these two games we are in trouble.
Boro fans, are you worried? Do you share these thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!