Middlesbrough midfielder Matt Crooks has suggested that Boro have enough talent within their squad with players like Martin Payero at their disposal to enjoy a successful campaign under Chris Wilder.
It has been a mixed start to the season for Middlesbrough in terms of their results and performances during their first 17 Championship games. Ultimately that lack of consistency has left them in 14th place in the table at this stage and meant that the club have moved to replace Neil Warnock with Wilder.
After investing in the squad to bring in the likes of Payero, James Lea Siliki, Onel Hernandez and Andraz Sporar in the summer, the hope was that Boro could challenge more closely for the top-six than they have been able to do so far this campaign.
Payero struggled initially to convince Warnock that he was ready to be handed regular game time in the Championship for Boro, despite his ability not really being in question.
However, Payero ended Warnock’s last few games in charge in the team and he was beginning to show the sort of impact that he could have in the long-term at the Riverside. It will be expected that he only continues to improve under Wilder.
Speaking to Teesside Live, Crooks has now suggested that he thinks Middlesbrough have enough quality in their squad to kick on and enjoy a good period during the rest of the campaign. While he also believes that Payero could well be key to any success that comes their way.
He said: “We’ve got some serious talent in this team. Martin is excellent, Andraz has played at a serious level.
“And then the spine of the squad from last season had plenty of ability to be right up there.
“We have got the nucleus there to have a really good season.
“It’s a joy to watch Martin play. He’s a special player.
“He played for Argentina’s Olympic team so it’s obvious he has a lot of ability.
“But yeah, he is a really good player and if we’re going to have a successful season then I’m sure he’ll play a big part of it.”
Despite feeling for Warnock given everything has given to the game it did seem the right decision for Middlesbrough to finally replace him and bring in someone of Wilder’s pedigree. As Crooks suggests there is no reason why Boro’s current squad can not climb the table and perform better than they have been doing now under their new manager.
Warnock deserves some credit for remaining patient with Payero and perhaps giving him that time out of the side when he first arrived to assess what he was facing in the Championship. That approach seems to have enabled him to now come into the side with some hunger to prove himself.
Wilder has shown in the past that he can unlock and maximise the talent of his players and if he can do that with Payero then Boro could have a very exciting player on their hands. It will be interesting to see where he fits in within Wilder’s setup and also if he can maintain his place as a key member of the starting line-up.