Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock has insisted that Matt Crooks is going to establish himself as a fans’ favourite at the Riverside Stadium over the next few years.
Crooks was one of Middlesbrough’s main transfer targets in the summer and they eventually managed to sort out a deal with Rotherham to bring the midfielder into the club on a three-year deal.
The midfielder has managed to score two goals for Middlesbrough so far in his opening 11 Championship appearances. His first helping Boro secure a 2-1 win against Bristol City at the Riverside. While his second goal came during their 3-2 defeat at home to QPR.
The 27-year-old has been delivering some high-energy performances so far for Middlesbrough as he was notorious for at Rotherham.
Warnock has at times asked him to play right off the forward in the number ten position and also asked him to drop a little deeper as well at times.
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Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Warnock has suggested that Crooks is perhaps trying to do a little too much to impress at the moment and advised him to relax at points within games so that he can pick up space.
While he also firmly believes the midfielder’s quality and work rate will make him a fans’ favourite in years to come.
He said: “To be fair, I don’t think I’ve ever had a player do 13 kilometres in a game and he does that regularly. It is unheard of.
“He actually does too much. What is unusual for me is that I am trying to tell him not to do as much as that.
“He could do less and be more penetrable by standing still at times and having a breather and being ready to go again in different positions.
“But he tries to help everybody out and he is a gem. He will be a favourite in years to come.”
Crooks seemed to be a very good signing for Middlesbrough when they brought him in from Rotherham in the summer.
The midfielder is always able to provide an added goal threat from either the number ten position or a little further back and that is something that Boro did need adding to the squad.
Warnock is experienced enough to know how to get the best out of players like Crooks, and he has a point with his comments about the midfielder at times needing to take a breather during games rather than be constantly on the move and trying to close people down.
However, that attitude is perhaps also something that Boro need at the moment because it has not been the best of starts to the campaign for Warnock’s side.
If the rest of the squad can follow Crooks’ lead in terms of his work rate then Middlesbrough will be more of a threat.
You can see Crooks getting better in terms of his output for Middlesbrough and if he starts to add a few more goals then Warnock’s prediction about him being a fans’ favourite will come true.