The Opposition View - Middlesbrough
1. What was the expectation of Middlesbrough before the season started? Did you expect to find yourselves mid-table by the end of the season?
After an awful second half to the 2012/13 season which saw us go from promotion contenders to mid table mediocrity with just 3 wins out of 21 league games, expectations were not high. Expectations grew a little with Adomah, Butterfield and Kamara joining the club and the usual 6th place play off aim seemed a bit more realistic. After a poor start to the season, with regret, boro legend Tony Mowbray had to go! Karanka came in, it was a fresh start and exciting to appoint out first ever foreign manager!
Spirits rose and after a mixed start we had a great Christmas period! Play off ambitions may have been in sight! However, shortly after we had that goal drought going 7 games without scoring a goal! Playoffs seemed to far to reach! Recently, we went on a 4 match winning streak with great wins away at Brigton and Burnley as well as home victories over Derby and Birmingham. However, a very poor performance against millwall on saturday has written off any playoff hopes. After a long season mid-table is ok.
2. It`s been over five months that Aitor Karanka has been in charge - how would you assess his first management job in English football and has he asserted a fluid, passing style on the team?
Coming to a different country for his first management job was always going to be tough but I believe Aitor has done a good job in his first half season! He has stopped the leaky defence and clean sheets have been regular - 14 since he was appointed! Goals have been a problem, as they have for years! I think he's trying to get his ideas across to player but some aren't able to put it to plan on the pitch! Passing in the final third isn't great and needs work! Successfully passing between the back four isn't going to score goals... More players need to look forward and play balls forward than side ways and back! Let's see what happens in the summer. Let's see who he brings in and lets go! And let's hope for a successful season next year under Karanka!
3. What current injuries does the team have coming into this game?
It seems like we always have key players out and is currently no different, as shown in the very inexperienced benches we've had to put out recently! Our biggest loss is Muzzy Carayol who has been out for the past month! He has got the pace which is a great asset in this league and out attack is much weaker without him! Another injured attacking player is Kei Kamara! He may not be a prolific goal scorer but always puts in 100% and gets around the pitch, winning headers and is someone different to Graham! Friend has also been missed since suffering a knock recently, especially against Millwall but he should be back for Tuesday night! Hopefully.
4. Who are your stand out players in the side at the moment?
Obvious choices are Albert Adomah and George Friend! Adomah is our top scorer with 12 goals from the wing and assisted many too! He's got the pace and skill to get past defenders and put in a cross or go it alone! I hadn't heard much about Friend when he joined the club a few years ago but he quickly made a great impression with the fans with his 'George Friend runs' down the wing! He could improve on his final ball but he gets the crowd excited and adds to the attack! Also mentions for Dimi Konstantopoulos who was our 4th choice keeper until a few weeks ago and has kept 3 clean sheets in last 5 matches and the lads from Chelsea - Omeruo and Chalobah who are both talented players!
5. If you could take any Reading player at the moment, who would it be and why?
Adam Le Fondre - he score goals!
6. What starting XI and shape do you expect to see on Tuesday from Karanka?
I expect him to go back to 4-2-3-1 which he has used for every game he's been here - apart from the past few games due to injuries and suspensions!
Dimi - Varga, Omeruo, Woodgate, Friend - Leadbitter, Chalobah - Tomlin, Butterfield, Ledesma - Graham
7. What is your prediction for the game?
It's hard to say which team will turn up! The team that won 4 games in a row or the team that got beat at home to Millwall! I'll be optimistic and go with a 1-0 Boro win! #utb