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Chris Wilder reveals reason behind tactical change in Middlesbrough’s 3-1 victory against Stoke City

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Middlesbrough faced Stoke City yesterday and were able to come out on top with a 3-1 win which means Boro’s Championship play-off hopes stay alive for another week and will now go down to the final day. 

Matt Crooks scored twice for Middlesbrough either side of a Lewis Baker own goal but it was Marcus Tavernier who earned the praise from manager Chris Wilder after providing an assist for one of the goals.

Wilder had to make some changes to his squad yesterday with Paddy McNair missing out through injury but one of the changes he did make that was purely tactical was shifting Tavernier to left wing-back rather than Marc Bola.

This allowed the Boro boss to keep both Tavernier and Riley McGree in the squad as they have both been playing brilliantly recently as well as giving an attacking threat down the left hand side.

Explaining his tactical decisions yesterday, Wilder told Teesside Live: “They [Dael Fry and Crooks] showed their importance. With Sol [Bamba] I think the two games in four days wasn’t ideal for him.

“That would have been a tough decision to make, but we made it because of age and the games. Dael coming back was good.

“I wanted Crooksy back in the side because he’s an important player for us and today he showed that in both boxes. We had a decision to make there.

“Riley McGree has been excellent so we didn’t want to take him out of the side and I thought the balance of the team is good.

“Tav is Tav. He played on Wednesday when he shouldn’t and then I asked him on Thursday if he’d do a job for us at left wing-back.

“I know some players who would have said no I want to play my position, that’s my position. But he always does a job for the team.

“Sometimes when people talk about Tav they don’t always see the side of him where he plays on Wednesday when he shouldn’t have, or plays anywhere you ask today. I just thought it epitomised what Marcus is all about.”

Quiz: Which club did Middlesbrough sign these 24 players from in the 1990s?

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Steve Vickers

When asked why he made the decision to move Tavernier, Wilder said“It was just wanting to keep Tav and Riley in the team but get Crooks back in. I think Tav and Riley have been excellent recently. Crooksy has been excellent for us as well, as has Jonny Howson.

“So it’s trying to sort those dynamics out. I knew Tav could play in that position and give us an attacking threat down that side as well. Marc Bola hasn’t played many games, so for him to play Saturday-Wednesday would have been a big ask.”

The Verdict: 

Wilder has been given the best problem for a manager to have this week in that he has had too many options to choose from when putting together his line-up.

You can totally understand why the manager was eager to keep Tavernier and McGree in the team at the same time as bringing Crooks back into it and it paid off for the manager given they were able to contribute to the goals.

Boro face Preston North End on the final day of the season and will need to win the game whilst hoping either Sheffield United or Luton slip up to get them to the play-offs.

Wilder will have another headache when choosing the line-up to head into that game but at least he knows he will also have the options to switch it up should he need to.


Passionate football fan supporting Barnet FC and Newcastle United. Currently studying a masters at UCFB alongside writing for Football League World.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Chris Wilder reveals reason behind tactical change in Middlesbrough’s 3-1 victory against Stoke City

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