Opposition view: Boro fans surprised by positive start to the season
- Credit: PA
Chris Cassidy from Middlesbrough fan site Boropolis answered our questions ahead of Norwich City’s showdown at the Riverside this afternoon.
Q Neil Warnock has had a huge impact at Middlesbrough since his arrival but he seems to have adopted a different management style hasn’t he?
A Yes, he kept us up last season and this season has sort of been a shock that we have started so well obviously. Warnock has got a great record in the Championship but with respect we don’t really have a great squad and what he has done is pretty much unbelievable. He keeps on mentioning it in his press conferences that our squad is so thin, probably it has been a complete opposite to you guys but, yes, our squad is so thin and to go 10 unbeaten against, obviously, we have played I think it is four out of the top six as well, so to get them results against those teams has just been fantastic.
Q How is Warnock dealing with what is a young squad at Boro?
A He talks about the average age quite a lot. Jonny Howson is pretty much our senior player now and apart from that there are a few sort of 27, 28-year-olds but the rest are earlier side of 20 and some of them even below that. We have got a few exciting young players; we have got Patrick Roberts on loan who was also at Norwich and he hasn’t actually featured as much as probably the fans would have hoped for but it is a young squad and despite Warnock having a bit of a reputation for having boring football or sort of basic football we have played some really good stuff.
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Q What has Warnock changed at Boro since his arrival?
A He’s made us a lot harder to beat. Obviously last year wasn’t a great season for us and since he has come in even towards the back end of last season we were still shipping goals but then this season it has all been change. I think the start is we have only conceded one goal from open play and this season. We do struggle to score - that is probably our weakness but the games we have won it has been 2-1 or 1-0 but defensively we just look solid and we haven’t been letting teams really dominate us. It has always been more sort of us not scoring rather than them getting lucky blocks or things like that.
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Q What’s gone wrong at Boro in the past few seasons?
A Obviously with Garry Monk after the job he did at Leeds he was sort of deemed as this exciting, young manager and obviously that went wrong and then Steve Gibson quickly scrambled and thought well we have spent this amount of money we need a quick fix. Tony Pulis came in and it didn’t really work out and then we went back to square one with Jonathan Woodgate and there was sort of an outpour of PR spin that it was going to be a local lad and he had worked in the academy, knew all the young players and it was to be the start of something fresh and obviously it didn’t quite unfold like that. It was a very disappointing reign as manager, probably up there with the worst we have had and now it is back to the tried and tested and Warnock. I think it got to the stage last season where Middlesbrough fans just wanted a bit of hope because it looked like a team that was going to get relegated, what, two years after getting relegated from the Premier League and spending all that money.
Q How has Jonny Howson’s time been?
A I remember the first season, especially under Monk, when he came in and obviously he got these brilliant reviews from Norwich fans and everywhere else he has been and it just didn’t seem to click for him for whatever reason. He had been at Norwich for quite a long time and I don’t know if it was just a case of him settling in but it just didn’t seem to click and then since Pulis came in it has slowly got better and then last year under Woodgate, he was moved back to centre half because of an injury crisis and won player of the season playing in defence. Ever since then he really is now a fan favourite. He has literally probably played in every position on the pitch apart from in goal which I am sure he probably would give a good go if he was given the chance. But as you say since Warnock has come in he has moved back into that sort of traditional role that Norwich fans are more used to him playing in midfield, maybe he is a little bit more defence orientated and he has been outstanding this season, every game is a seven or an eight from him, he is a massive fan favourite now.
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