Middlesbrough made it five wins from six with a dramatic last gasp 2-1 win at Blackpool on Wednesday evening.
Despite having played more than the teams around them, Boro have opened up a four point gap inside the play-off places and they will be looking to kick on as the relentless schedule continues on New Year’s Day with a trip to Sheffield United. There are glaring areas of the squad that are likely to be improved on in January, however it is clear that in the short term, Wilder has been able to get a lot more out of the group of players than Neil Warnock was.
Wilder explained why he had to rotate the squad and leave out senior heads like Jonny Howson and Neil Taylor when he spoke to TeessideLive.
He said: “We had to go without Jonny (Howson), who has been outstanding for us, so that was disappointing. Jonny wasn’t available. We’ll check over the next two or three days and see how Jonny is. We had to adjust. It was a stop-start performance. It wasn’t fluid. But I don’t think it was ever going to be because of the pitch, the attitude of the opposition. They asked questions of us as much as we asked questions of them.
“It’s a tough period of the season. Losing Marc (Bola) was disappointing. Pelts (Lee Peltier) has come in. Neil (Taylor) was on the bench. We just felt from his point of view, playing in quick succession Sunday afternoon, Wednesday night and then having a game on Saturday as well might just be a game too much.”
Lee Peltier has been an excellent utility player since joining from West Bromwich Albion in the summer, slotting in seamlessly to a variety of roles and using his experience to adapt effectively.
Quiz: Can you name which club Middlesbrough sold these 26 players to?
Boro’s squad is bigger than most in the division and in that offers a lot of choice to Wilder in finding the correct personnel to carry out his ideas. However, niggling injuries have made it difficult at times this season to establish some continuity have forced Boro to put square pegs in round holes positionally.
The likes of Sol Bamba, Lee Peltier and even recent contributor Neil Taylor have represented very shrewd pieces of business. A lot of clubs have been looking to promote from within rather than invest in the free agent market this term, but Middlesbrough have struck gold with very little financial outlay to bring in three excellent role models for the rest of the squad.