Middlesbrough talking points following Coventry City win
Tuesday, 27th Oct 2020 22:42 by Phil Spencer
Middlesbrough continued their fine run of form by recording a 1-0 victory over Coventry City on Tuesday night.
That result made it seven games without defeat and moved the Teessiders to within touching distance of the top six.
Neil Warnock's side dominated for long spells but failed to break down a stubborn Coventry defence.
Middlesbrough kept plugging away and got their reward in the 81st minute when Britt Assombalonga latched onto Sam Morsy's wonderful pass to break the deadlock.
That was followed up by a first goal for Djed Spence who wrapped up the points with a composed finish in injury time.
Here's how we rated the Boro team.
A well-oiled machine
What can you say about this Middlesbrough team?
After last season when the team was painfully easy to carve open, it seems that Neil Warnock has transformed things.
A previously shaky-looking defence now appears to be as solid as a rock, while a patchy midfield is now being seen as one of the most feared in the Championship.
Middlesbrough are asserting their dominance on every opponent and retaining control of each and every match.
Creating goalscoring opportunities is still an area that needs improving, but based on the the club's defensive record it isn't much of an issue.
One goal conceded in the last four is an impressive record and that takes the heat off the forward line.
If Middlesbrough are keeping clean sheets more often than not it means that just one goal scored will likely result in three points.
That's why the points are racking up and Middlesbrough are starting to look up the table instead of over their shoulder.
The best bit is that it's hard to see this form falling away any time soon.
A new role for Marcus Tavernier?
He's a player who is probably the most frustrating that I can remember watching in recent memory.
Thankfully, things might be about to change for Marcus Tavernier.
The 21-year-old is one of the most talented players to come out of the academy in recent seasons, but he's struggled to really kick on in the first team.
Question marks over what is his best position have been prominent in recent seasons, and it seemed that this could prove costly for him under Neil Warnock this season.
But based on his performance against Coventry it seems that Tavernier may have found a new role.
Playing at left wing-back, Tav enjoyed his best performance in a long, long time.
He showed real attacking intent from the off as he used his dribbling ability and direct play to tee up some of Middlesbrough's best opportunities on the night.
He even put in some real graft to deny the visitors a goal in the second half.
Of course Tavernier will face greater defensive challenges than that posed by Coventry City but based on that display he may just have found his ideal role in Warnock's new-look side.
The Patrick Roberts conundrum
What a player this lad is.
We saw it in glimpses last season and Patrick Roberts is already showing that his performances last term were no fluke.
But we need to urge caution.
The year 2020 has been a rough one on Roberts who has endured some real injury woes.
It disrupted his loan spell at the club last term and meant that he was only able to play a bit-part role in the season's run-in.
His match fitness was way off in those games, and since then he's been rotting in the reserves at Manchester City.
Put bluntly, when Roberts arrived at Middlesbrough he was not in good nick.
A player who is susceptible to muscle injuries, the focus for the Teessiders has to be on keeping him fit.
There's no debating that he is Neil Warnock's best creative force by a country mile, but he's no good in the medical room.
That's why Warnock is easing him into the first team fold by limiting him to one match a minute and only playing 60-75 minutes.
In time he'll be ready to play every match, but for now it's essential that Middlesbrough fans understand the need to ration his qualities, otherwise we may live to regret it.
Isn't it full picking up points every week?
That's what some supporters would have you believe.
After the experiment of playing expansive football under Jonathan Woodgate you'd think that some would learn their lesson.
But instead they criticise Neil Warnock's side for being 'boring' and 'lacking creativity'.
Tell that to the league table.
Middlesbrough may not be smashing four and five goals past opponents each week, but we're winning games.
A solid defence is the foundation to good results, and as discussed previously, it's this rock-solid back line which means that we only need to score one or two goals to get a result.
It might not be high octane stuff, but I'd take playing out a comfortable 2-0 win over an 'entertaining' 4-3 defeat.
In my opinion I'm happy that Middlesbrough are so boring to watch - in fact, the more boring we are the better.
Just keep bringing those sweet, sweet points and you won't find me complaining.
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