Talking points: Jittery Boro uninventive; Ighalo axe a Success

Date published: Sunday 16th October 2016 2:35

George Friend: Talks tactics with Aitor Karanka

Middlesbrough need to change their formation and try something more inventive if they’re to lose their predictability, while the decline of Odion Ighalo is also pondered following Watford’s 1-0 win.


Boro feeling the jitters – and it’s worse on home soil

Middlesbrough’s fans are among some of the most demanding in the country. I mean, don’t get me wrong, every football fan wants to see their side do well – especially on their home patch – but the Teessiders are a proud bunch, who, more than most, demand nothing less than 100% of their players.

Produce less and there’s a fair chance you might see the odd season ticket chucked on to the pitch in disdain…

Sunday’s 1-0 setback to Watford means Middlesbrough are yet to win at The Riverside in the Premier League this season – and it looks like a long old season ahead unless they can sort out their home jitters quickly. It’s a poser Aitor Karanka will be all too aware of – and one he needs to get to the bottom of quickly.

Goalscoring also looks like a major problem for the Teessiders. Having spent big wages to bring Alvaro Negredo to the club from Valencia on a season-long loan, the Spaniard only had one goal to his name so far this term – that on his debut against Stoke.

Since then, the former Manchester City man has now gone seven games without registering….but he’s not alone in struggling for goals.

In total, Boro have scored just seven times in nine matches played – with just Cristhian Stuani (three) netting more than once.

Boro started out in the all-too uniform 4-2-3-1 formation regularly used in the Premier League these days. Perhaps it’s time Karanka opted for a change in formation and went with the brave decision to pick the unpredictable Adama Traore – maybe even in a free role – from the start.

Sunday’s defeat means Boro have now lost their last three home encounters – Crystal Palace and Tottenham were victors here in their previous games – and having won just once in the Premier League all season, it looks like very much a season battling the drop for Middlesbrough – unless Karanka tries something new. It’s clear what’s being offered right now simply isn’t working.

And how long before that first season ticket is lobbed pitchside in disgust….?

Ighalo no longer Watford’s main man

Odion Ighalo: Linked with WBA

“This is your chance – now go take it,” was Walter Mazzarri’s pre-match explanation to Isaac Success when explaining his decision to hand the Nigerian a place in Watford’s starting line-up.

The 20-year-old – a club record £12.5m summer signing from sister club, Granada – has certainly looked impressive during his fleeting appearances for the Hornets so far, and earned his chance on the back of his goalscoring appearance off the bench against Bournemouth two weeks ago.

Although Success’ appearance from the start against Middlesbrough raised plenty of eyebrows before kick-off, it’s probably not that much of a shock given the man he has replaced, Odion Ighalo, has drastically seen his form decline over a number of months.

In January of this year, the Nigeria international was being mentioned as a possible target for both Arsenal and Manchester United on the back of a run that saw him score 13 goals in 19 appearances.

However, whether Ighalo started to believe his own hype, whether defenders started to work out his game, or whether his initial run was simply one of those purple patches, the player can no longer claim to be a first choice at Watford, let alone a reported transfer target for the big boys.

Antonio Barragan: Challenges Isaac Success

A run of just six goals in 31 appearances throughout the calendar year has seen Ighalo’s star drastically fall – but Mazzarri’s decision to drop him on the bench, could be beneficial to both his long-term ‘Success’ and that of the club’s seemingly new first choice.

The Nigerian pretender may not have scored at the Riverside, but he was a thorn in Middlesbrough’s side all afternoon and was justifiably named Man of the Match on the back of a lively performance.

Ighalo will still have a part to play for Watford this season – but winning back his place looks the immediate target for the once-revered hitman.


James Marshment

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