This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Regular Punter‘ series, where we gather original opinions from select, passionate fans of the clubs concerned on matters surrounding their team and share them with a wider audience…
Football League World’s Middlesbrough fan pundit Phil Wrightson has suggested that a change in tactics to provide more protection to the backline could help turn the club’s fortunes around.
Middlesbrough have made a disappointing start to the season after appointing Jonathan Woodgate in the summer and currently sit 20th–just two points above the relegation zone.
The North East club had the tightest defence in the Championship last season but appear to have surrendered that due to Woodgate’s search for attacking fluency.
Boro added two new full-backs, Marc Bola and Anfernee Dijksteel, in the summer and sold centre-back Aden Flint to Cardiff City, but Wrightson suggested the change in defensive form was not due to that business.
He said: “Our turnover of players in the summer was not sufficient to account for us going from one of the best defences in the league to one of the most leaky.
“Dijksteel has shown flashes of his defensive competence and looks a good prospect when going forward but playing a 4-3-3 formation means that there is no cover coming down the flanks and every opposition manager has targeted this as our weakness and gained considerable rewards for themselves.
“It’s not a personnel change we need, it’s a change in tactics. If we were making a boatload of chances because of our cavalier approach to defending there may be some justification in our formation but we aren’t, so there isn’t.
“We need to revert to 4-4-2 with defensive cover on the wings and not go trawling through the Scottish leagues for panic buys like we did under Strachan.”
Due to the international break, Boro have 10 days until their next game and you imagine Woodgate will be looking to make the most of that time with the players who aren’t on international duty.
The Teessiders face a tough run of games after the break, with league leaders West Bromwich Albion, on-the-up Huddersfield Town, and Fulham, who have arguably the best squad in the division, their next three opponents.