Middlesbrough’s former boss Neil Warnock has admitted Chuba Akpom’s turnaround has ‘surprised’ him but lauded Michael Carrick for his role in the forward’s revival.
Middlesbrough have seen their season turned around by Carrick, taking them from the bottom end of the table all the way to the automatic promotion fight. There have been several standout players in that time, but none have caught the eye quite like Akpom.
The ex-Arsenal starlet’s Boro career was stuttering but under the new boss, Akpom has found the best form of his career. Since moving to an attacking midfield role, the 27-year-old has gone from strength to strength, tallying a stunning 25 goals in 33 games across all competitions.
It has come as a surprise to many, with former Boro boss Warnock admitting he is among those to be taken aback by his revival.
As quoted by The Northern Echo, the now Huddersfield Town manager said Akpom’s form has left him ‘surprised’ but placed high praise on Carrick for helping the 2020 signing find form. He said:
“I think you have to give Michael credit.
“I am surprised, yeah. Chuba up-front didnt work hard enough and didn’t do the right things for the team for me. But where Michael is playing him now is fantastic. Some of his finishing has been as good as any in the world, one or two of the goals.
“He’s a nice lad. He was alright for me. I was disappointed in his performances but Michael has found that area for him and you wouldn’t swap him for the world now.”
How far can Boro and Akpom go?
After a remarkable turnaround for both Middlesbrough and Akpom, it remains to be seen just how far they can take themselves over the final stages of the season. Club and player alike are in top form and with only three points separating Boro and Sheffield United, automatic promotion is not out of the question at all.
The Blades boast a game in hand so if they win that, the gap becomes healthier for them.
However, their form has faltered over recent weeks, so the momentum is certainly with Carrick and co. It is certainly setting up to be a dramatic end to the promotion battle, and if Boro are to sneak into 2nd, star man Akpom will have played a huge role.