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Big January ahead for stuttering Boro - Interview
Wednesday, 12th Dec 2018 08:22 by Clive Whittingham

Ahead of Saturday's game LFW speaks to James Boothby, our regular contributor from Middlesbrough where a lack of pace and width following the summer departure of Adama Traore is hampering their promotion push.

You’re up there, and have lost only three times all season, but are you enjoying it? Is it good to watch?

Being honest, it has been a bit of a grind. We did not get the players we really needed in the transfer window, meaning we do not have any real width or pace in the side. We have set up to be difficult to beat, and pinch results which has in the main worked without being particularly pretty. Worryingly though, our home form has been very patchy recently which has to be a concern.

Little bit of a wobble lately, no win in three, what’s gone on there?

We have struggled at home recently, especially coming up against some direct rivals for promotion with defeats to Villa and Forest without scoring and a draw with Derby. The lack of a ‘spark’ in the team has been evident, and it does feel like we are hoping to get to January still in the mix and then hope to bring in some creative players.

How do you rate the job Tony Pulis has done so far? What sort of regard is he held in by the fans?

In my opinion he has done ok, if anything he overachieved in terms of results at the start of the season. It is undeniable that it has not been pretty to watch though, and there are a good number of fans already fed up with the quality of football on offer. Whilst the results have been good that has not been too much of an issue, but when we go through a wobbly patch those cries become louder.

Stand out players and weak links in the side?

To be honest, we don’t have too many stand out players or weak links. Darren Randolph has probably been the player of the season, when a team does find its way through our defence he has been there to stop them. Two of the younger lads, Lewis Wing and Marcus Tavernier have also had good spells this season, and play with a bit of freedom and creativity that we have been lacking. The main weak link is the lack of width and creativity in the side. No one particular player as such – but we are not really creating a whole host of chances in games.

Any suggestions of January activity in the offing? Any names mentioned?

A number of wide players and strikers have been linked in the last few weeks. We were close to bringing Albert Adomah back from Villa in the August window – and is a move I think we may look at again but he appears to be back in favour there. Luke Freeman is another regularly linked who would fit the bill but is another move I can’t see happening. One thing is for certain, it will be a big January. With the right additions (and departures), it could help us push for top six at least. And without wanting to sound like a broken record, some pace and creativity is needed. Maybe a phone call to Wolves for a certain winger on loan.

Do you think you’ll see promotion through? Who are the main threats?

I think top six is certainly still in our grasp, especially with a good window. Leeds look good, and if West Brom figure out how to defend should go close. Norwich are on fire at the moment and can’t be ruled out, while Dean Smith has got Villa playing well and I think they look dangerous. And there is always one who comes out of the pack.

The Twitter @jamesyboz

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TacticalR added 14:19 - Dec 15
Thanks to James.

So, some pace and creativity is needed?

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