Mind The Gap
By Rob Nichols
Tuesday 09 Oct 2018 10:18:00
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Two weeks until another game means the shockwaves will continue to reverberate following the deeply damaging 2-0 home defeat to Nottingham Forest. Aitor Karanka returned and did a real job on us. Such was the gravity of the defeat that it has planted big seeds of doubt in Boro fans minds that will fester until we get back to action at Hillsborough. But that is not until a week on Friday. Plenty of time for those seeds to germinate and really take root.

There was the growing feeling that Boro had been going one step forwards and two steps back ever since the last international break. No longer did we seem to have that superior fitness that helped account for so many late goals. Midfield superiority was not necessarily translating to creativity and the forward line was struggling to punish opposition. The bottom line is we weren't scoring nearly enough goals.

You could say we have been paying for the transfer window. How could you begin to replace Adama Traore? Probably not possible but having only one winger, in Stewart Downing is giving us far too few options in games. Stewy has been our best player game after game, certainly going forwards. His man of the match performance at Ipswich was a game winner but he probably played even better still at home to Forest. That we weren't even close to converting the myriad of gilt-edged chances is an indictment of the forward line and midfielders for not getting into the box and converting.

We are suffering for the loss of Patrick Bamford. I know, I know he is injured anyway but we have not replaced the goal threat we saw from him at the back end of last season when he threatened Bernie Slaven's goal spree record.

Ironically, Martin Braithwaite looked far sharper before being subbed on Saturday although still not up to the standard we saw before he slammed in a transfer request at the end of the window. His form downturn has been significant because he was the one player always looking likely to score.

Then there is Britt. When will the true Britt step forward again? His first touch from Howson's set up was sublime, the finish timid and tense. We know the big man can bully defenders and score goal after goal, we desperately need to find a way for those goals to flow again.

It is obvious that Tony Pulis got it wrong on Saturday and yet that same team bossed Ipswich and coasted to a 2 goal victory. Where Mo Besic floundered at the Riverside he was imperious at Portman Road. George Saville was like a box to box Robbie Mustoe in Suffolk but all at sea versus the Tricky Trees where we really missed Clayton's face. As for Ryan Shotton, he will bounce back he is that sort of character.

Two weeks then to sort things out and hope to see more consistency again from individuals and the team. Lewis Wing has to be knocking on the door again, his abilities to unlock defences could prove invaluable once more. Rudy Gestede may have his knockers but he certainly looked fit enough at the close of the Forest game to be given a chance to show he can be a big disrupter of defences again.

Two weeks then to ruminate. We must not get too downhearted yet. Then again the players have to learn from these last weeks. We must bounce forward after the break.




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