Buidling Dreams Together


Review of Middlesbrough vs Millwall- Carrick’s Conundrum

A glimpse into life without Chuba Akpom if you’re a Boro fan- here’s the detailed breakdown

Opening day of the season brings optimism and a chance to dream for every football fan across the country. Some would argue that at Middlesbrough, under Michael Carrick optimism can be high but that also can lead to a high level of expectation. Unfortunately today Middlesbrough never got close to those levels of expectation and here is how:

Starting Line up:

1 Dieng

17 McNair

6 Fry

26 Lenihan

22 Coulson

4 Barlaser

7 Hackney

21 Forss

25 Crooks

8 McGree

10 Rogers

On paper this would be a 4-2-3-1 seeing McNair play at RB, Coulson being given the opportunity to cement the LB position. Hackney and Barlaser sitting in front of the back four with Forss from the right, Crooks in the #10 and McGree from the left. Rogers making his debut as a lone striker. In comparison to last season- Smith would usually play at RB but is out injured, Giles (signed to Luton Town) would play LB, Akpom would play #10 behind Archer.

When in possession Boro played mainly with a 3-5-2 formation. When there was no pressure on the ball Coulson would step forward leaving Lenihan, Fry and McNair as a three. During the first half Boro played predominantly down the right hand side, Coulson taking up a position level with Hackney and Barlaser playing almost as a LCM rather than LWB. By taking up this position it allowed Hackney and Barlaser to overload the right hand side of the pitch. This led to multiple crosses into the box, none hitting a Boro forward.

Majority of Middlesbrough’s good play during the 1st half involved Hayden Hackney. Millwall’s tactics were to sit in and protect the middle of the pitch; Millwall were very well drilled and allowing Middlesbrough the opportunity to bring the ball up to the half way almost unopposed. On the odd occasion when Boro managed to find Rogers feet, Hackney would be on the move. It was a very simple ‘up, back and through’ approach- Lenihan/Barlaser up to Rogers, back to Hackney who would look to play Forss or Crooks through. This move leading to a disallowed goal in the 39th minute with Crooks unable to keep the ball in prior to Hackney finishing well.
The 2nd half was very much same again until changes were made. Silvera replacing Coulson in the 67th minute moved McGree into the role Coulson had taken up with Silvera playing ahead of him. McGree in that LCM role gave Boro more quality in the middle of the pitch. McGree having the ability to take the ball on the back foot centrally led to Millwall having to pick him up leaving Silvera 1 vs 1 with McNamara.

Howson entered the fray replacing Barlaser in the 76th minute. Howson tried to inject a change in tempo with his first three passes being forward but unfortunately 3 minutes after coming on Boro were behind.

Millwall’s shape was very much a 5-4-1 when defending then transitioning to a 5-2-3 when counter attacking. As mentioned earlier Millwall were happy to let Middlesbrough move up to halfway without engaging the ball, Dieng even having possession of the ball near the centre circle. Millwall looked to frustrate Boro and their trigger for pressing were square passes. Mainly when Dan Barlaser had possession- passes wide to McNair cut out leading to Bryan switching play to attack the space behind Coulson. Another opportunity would be Barlaser playing slow, square passes towards Hackney- leading to Watmore gaining possession and being direct.

The only goal of the game- McGree throw in to Hackney who loses possession just inside the Millwall half, big switch of play to Emakhu who beats McNair for pace (McNair diving in trying to make the ‘sensible’ foul) then, cuts the ball back to Esse who finds the top left corner from twelve yards.

Day one concerns
Crooks and Rogers partnership– although this is the first competitive fixture of the season too often Rogers would receive possession with Crooks unavailable to link up with. Crooks drifting right and left to try and find room to receive the ball, the timing was off when Barlaser or Hackney were looking to play forward at times.
Full back position– Coulson seems very lightweight often caught in possession whilst McNair was at fault for the goal. Both players lack the athleticism required for the role. Millwall often exploited the space on the counter behind the full backs.

Day one positives
Silvera– A very exciting prospect, similar playing style to Jones- likes one v one situations, very agile and quick. Hopefully for Boro’s sake the end product comes sooner rather than later.
Hackney– All good things from Boro today involved Hackney, bright, positive and looked to play forward when possible.
Fry– Having watched Middlesbrough last season, Dael Fry was a huge miss. It was very nice to see him back alongside Lenihan.

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