Middlesbrough lost their first game of the season last weekend as they were defeated by Norwich City 1-0 at Carrow Road, and many are now questioning if Boro’s midfield three are working.
Adam Clayton, Jonny Howson, Muhamed Besic, George Saville, Grant Leadbitter, Lewis Wing, Paddy McNair and Julien De Sart are all competing for a starting berth at Middlesbrough, and with only three spots available in Boro’s 5-3-2 or 4-3-3 preferred formations, it means two or three of these players are usually left out of the 18 altogether on a match day.
However, although it is promising there is competition for places in the centre of the park, it can sometimes feel as though the preferred midfield three of Clayton, Besic and Howson isn’t working as well as it could.
Clayton is a little different to the others competing for places, as he bridges the gap between defence and midfield, often mopping up in front of the back four and distributing passes to get the team going forwards.
However, both Howson and Besic are similar in the fact they are not defensive midfielders, and they like to carry the ball and float around the edge of the box. Somebody like George Saville or Paddy McNair would provide more of a box-to-box type midfielder that could’ve been crucial in a tight game like the one at Norwich.
Lewis Wing provides more of an attacking intent than both Besic and Howson too, and can also be very good over a dead ball, with his deliveries from corners posing a real threat in the first few games of the season when given the nod.
Bolton are doing well this season and currently sit in 10th position with 11 points in seven games, and they will be no pushovers.
But given Boro’s performance at Carrow Road, the game on Wednesday night should be the perfect opportunity to try something different in central midfield, and Pulis should opt for Clayton, with either Besic or Howson, alongside either McNair, Wing or Saville.