It’s been quite the 10 days since the international break. The drab 0-0 draw with Preston before the break left Boro fans frustrated and a bit tetchy about a mediocre start to the season.
Then the transfer window concluded without the eye-catching signing some fans were crying out for, and there was a little bit of uncertainty about how the season might unfold.
But in the 10 days since, Boro have flexed their muscle and shown off their attacking strength, making a mockery of claims that there is not enough flair and creativity at Monk’s disposal.
First, Adama Traore lit his burners and blitzed through a terrified Bolton defence to set up two goals for Britt Assombalonga before ‘underwhelming’ new signing Marvin Johnson scored on his debut.
The 0-0 draw at Villa was frustrating because they are clearly a beatable side, but the team did well with only 10 men for the whole match.
Against QPR, Boro scored 3 more goals. This time Marvin Johnson was the architect, with two new goalscorers in Lewis Baker and Ashley Fletcher, and that man Assombalonga again.
— Channel 5 Sport (@Channel5Sport) September 16, 2017
To cap off the week Patrick Bamford, who had barely featured in the previous 3 games, reminded everybody that he’s a pretty useful backup option with both goals in a 2-0 cup win at Villa.
4 games, 8 goals, 5 different goalscorers, 6 different providers…are people still concerned about a lack of goals or creativity in the side?
The opposition was not the best, and the performances were not perfect, but what these last few matches have proven is that Boro have several players who can make a difference.
Monk has plenty of different options to call upon when needed, and even when making 10 changes for the cup tie still fielded a strong organised side who won comfortably.
Some fans seem to think that we should be playing free-flowing, attacking football creating endless chances and magical goals, but this is not what happens in the Championship.
Yes we want some goals and entertainment, but the season is a real slog. The best teams in this division are those who can grind out results week after week against limited but stubborn opposition.
Where Boro will have an upper hand in this regard is in the strength in depth of the squad. Arguably no team in the division can match the options we have on the bench. This will be crucial later in the season when fixtures pile up and games get tougher, as any number of attacking players can come on to give us extra impetus.
There are currently 6 teams ahead of us, but looking at these sides, I would be very surprised if most of them last the course. Among them are surprise packages, unknown entities, and teams that traditionally fall away after a strong start.
I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of for Boro, who should still be seen as one of the favourites for the title. It won’t always be easy or pretty, but I personally can’t wait to see what happens in the next 38 games.