This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Neil Warnock faces a massive game in his first match in charge of Middlesbrough on Saturday as they take on fellow strugglers Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium.
The game is pivotal for both sides with Middlesbrough sitting perilously in 21st position, whilst Stoke only sit two points above them in 18th.
After Swansea’s humiliating 3-0 loss to Swansea last Saturday was the final nail in the coffin for Jonathan Woodgate, Warnock is expected to tweak the side to ensure a repeat of that display does not materialise.
With that in mind, do you expect Warnock to change Boro much personnel or tactics wise? What would you change from Boro’s shocking 3-0 loss to Swansea last time out?
The team here at FLW offer up their thoughts….
There are so many changes that he could make but I’d like to see them revert to a 4-2-3-1 system.
I don’t really think that Boro have the players to suit a five-at-the-back system, and their wing-backs have been largely disappointing both going forward and defending this term.
Reverting to a back four is something I can see Warnock implementing, where his wide players will be so important and their service will be integral for Ashley Fletcher up top.
You know what you’re going to get with Warnock, and he’ll turn Boro into a solid side based on defensive set-up and organisation.
I’d back them to stay up now.
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Honestly, as surprising as this might seem, it’s hard to imagine Warnock changing too much.
We might see a slight change in shape and maybe a 4-4-2, but the personnel has a chance of being quite similar, just set up in a little bit more concrete way.
Jonny Howson could well move away from right-back and into the midfield, with Ryan Shotton a player that could cover him at full-back, whilst you’ve got to imagine that someone like George Saville, to offer bite in midfield, might appeal to Warnock.
Then, in attack, Warnock simply has to get goals into the side. A simple change to a two-man attack gives the side a better chance of doing that.
He’s old school, but his hands are tied in some respects with the players he’s got. Tightening them up and giving them bodies at the top end of the pitch will be his aim.
I think he’s going to make Boro nice and solid and hard to beat and then they’ll look at getting themselves a result against Stoke.
Warnock has been brought in to fight the fire on Teesside and the thing he needs to do first is get them tight at the back, then they can move on.
I’d not be surprised to see two holding players in the middle of the park in front of the back four, and he’s surely going to call on some of the more experienced players to come into the spine of the side.
We’ll see the youngsters getting a chance but, for me, he’s going to take it back to basics this weekend, get a result from the match and then confidence will build from there.