Middlesbrough have made a solid, if unspectacular, start to the season under new manager Jonathan Woodgate, with Boro sitting in 15th place in the Championship table having collected nine points from their opening eight fixtures.
However, Middlesbrough have so far this campaign been guilty of lacking quality in terms of creating and taking opportunities, which has meant they have only secured two wins so far, with three draws and three defeats in their other matches.
Woodgate’s side have managed to register just eight league goals so far, which is fewer than all of the sides currently above them in the table, and that is made even more concerning by the fact they scored three of those goals on the opening day of the campaign in a 3-3 draw at Luton Town.
Middlesbrough supporters would have left that game against Luton feeling that perhaps Boro would be able to show much more attacking intent this term, with the Teessiders only managing to score 49 goals last term, which was a major reason the club missed out on the play-offs and parted company with manager Tony Pulis.
It was perhaps a little too much to have expected Woodgate to come in and transform Middlesbrough into an attractive attacking side straight away, and the former Boro defender has instead had to build on the foundations of his side’s strong defence.
Last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Cardiff City highlighted that Woodgate still has a way to go before he fully solves Boro’s issues going forwards, and the 39-year-old will undoubtedly need more time to get his side playing the way he would like them to once they are familiar with his methods.
However, one player that has so far seen his involvement limited, especially in terms of starts is summer signing Marcus Browne, who arrived at the Riverside from West Ham United having enjoyed a very impressive season at Oxford United last term in League 1, where he registered six goals in 34 appearances and cause a lot of problems for opponents with his direct running at defences.
Browne has started just two Championship matches for Boro so far, and was brought off at half time in both of those games which suggests that Woodgate is yet to fully convinced by the 21-year-old, and it will be interesting to see whether he can manage to play his back into his manager’s favour over the course of the campaign.
It is a real shame for Middlesbrough that so far Browne has failed to find his best form and a consistent run of games, because the attacker offers something different from the rest of Boro’s attacking options, which is that raw unpredictability which can often allow a player to create or score a goal out of nothing.
Given Middlesbrough’s struggles in front of goal Browne could well be a player that could come into the side and provide that extra spark, but he must first earn the trust of Woodgate by showing his quality and having the right attitude on the training pitch, if he can do that then Boro could well reap the rewards.