Boro’s promotion campaign hasn’t exactly got off to the start we all expected it to. With only 16 points from a possible 33, scoring only 13 goals in our 11 games, it is clear for all to see that something isn’t quite right with Garry Monk’s current setup.
Here are the 3 things I think the team needs to fix, so that we can get back on track and challenge for those automatic promotion places.
This has been Boro’s achilles heel this season so far. No top-half side has conceded the first goal in the game more than Boro. We have seen this in the games against Norwich, QPR and Brentford, where some sloppy defending or a lethargic start has lead to us conceding an early goal.
This gives the team a mountain to climb when trying to equalise and then further to win the game, especially when the majority of teams we play will sit back with 10 men behind the ball and park the bus. Furthermore, not only do Boro’s slow starts usually result in us conceding the first goal, but it also allows our opposition to gain confidence and to build their way into the game.
Right from the off, the Boro must make sure they know their roles, they impose themselves on the game and do not allow the opposition to build their way into the game and gain confidence.
Pick a System
3-4-3, 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, which is it? All of these have been used at one point or another so far in the season and the frequent change of system raises a lot of questions for Monk.
Why doesn’t he know his best system? Why doesn’t he know his best 11? In addition to this, if Monk keeps swapping and changing his system, can this team really gel and fulfill its potential? In Boro’s 2015/16 promotion winning campaign, Aitor Karanka established his 4-2-3-1 system throughout the season, changing it rarely.
In doing this, key partnerships were formed which were essential to our success, such as Gibson and Ayala, Clayton and Leadbitter and Nsue and Adomah. They all knew how to play with the other and when to cover one another, which lead to great play in these positions.
Perhaps Monk should follow this concept, establishing a primary system which the team will use and allow the players to get used to playing that said system. Monk must also find his best starting 11 and quickly! This will allow them to gel together, maybe even forming key partnerships to allow more fluid play.
Obviously, Monk must prioritise finding his Plan A first, but must soon after find a suitable and efficient Plan B. If Boro find themselves behind in a game or struggling to break a team down, they must have a good Plan B to resort to, to try and claim the 3 points.
At the moment, Monk just seems to throw strikers on and hope they can find a way of salvaging the game. From a fan’s perspective, there doesn’t seem to be any shape or structure to this and it seems they are just thrown on with no set position. In future games, if the game is falling out of Boro’s reach, they must switch to an effective Plan B which gives the team a better chance of winning the game.
When Rudy Gestede returns from injury, he would be an excellent option to fit into a Plan B. More crosses need to be put into the box and with his fantastic aerial ability, he would surely thrive upon this service. I’m sure Monk and his coaching staff have the knowledge and the ability to come up with a suitable alternative that suits the players at his disposal.
Despite some positive signs and displays, I think we all know that Boro have much to work on and improve if we are to challenge for promotion this season. But with 35 games left to play and 105 points left to play for, I’m sure Monk and his coaching staff have the means to change our season for the better and give us a fantastic chance of bouncing back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.