What a crazy end to Deadline Day! Right at the death Boro announced SIX different comings and goings. Altogether there have been three new signings and seven departures in January, making it a busy month for Boro. We expected some of them, not so much the others, but now the dust has settled how does Boro’s squad shape up?
The Christie transfer disappointing as he was one of the best players in the first half of the season. I get that Pulis prefers Shotton, but surely Christie could have stayed and been trained to play the way he wants? I guess in the end, the offer came in and Pulis didn’t want to stand in the way of a player who wouldn’t be in the first team for the foreseeable future. Other than that, the defence still looks pretty good. Connor Roberts won’t be missed, Cranie seems a useful backup and Fabio is sticking around for the time being.
Pretty much as you were. We got good money for Forshaw, while Guedioura is not going to be missed. Besic might give us a bit more presence in the middle, but will be interesting to see whether he can get in ahead of Leadbitter and Howson.
Still a weak area, especially on the left. Braithwaite might not have been perfect, but he was still better than anyone else. Jack Harrison is an intriguing signing, but if he doesn’t hit the ground running then Pulis might be relying on Bamford to play in a role that doesn’t suit him. Downing can play on either side, but has been preferred in a central role and moving him out wide creates a whole other problem. The only other option is Marvin Johnson, who does not seem to be rated by Pulis. Meanwhile, on the right, Traore has done well recently, but what do we have in reserve?
If Pulis sticks with the same system, he’s also lacking options in the ‘no.10’ role. Downing has done ok so far, but who comes in as cover? Can Bamford find more consistency there? Does Pulis trust Baker to play? Or can Howson push up? None of the solutions are particularly convincing so it is still a problem area.
In theory we’re well stocked in this department as long as Pulis continues to play one up front. We have Britt and Rudy fighting for the starting spot, with Bamford in reserve. But the strikers have obviously been struggling recently, and an additional option would be useful to improve competition.
All in all, the squad hasn’t changed much in terms of overall quality and balance. The big miss will be Braithwaite. Even though his form had tailed off, I still feel he had quality and an eye for goal. He gave us an extra option out wide, behind the striker and up front.
Of the new signings, Jack Harrison is potentially the most exciting if he can adapt and settle quickly. In theory, there is plenty of talent but a lack of confidence, particularly in the forward positions. If Pulis can get them playing cohesively and the strikers can start firing again, they might have a shot at promotion. Otherwise we’re looking at another summer of upheaval before another long slog in the championship.