Bamford’s left-midfield performance
However, Patrick Bamford’s performance on Saturday showed that although he is no natural winger, he can do a job in that position. There was a fluidity about Bamford against Reading, often drifting inside and linking up play between the holding-midfielders and the forward line.
He hasn’t set the world alight since joining Middlesbrough just over a year ago, and is far from replicating his 2015/16 season performances with Boro. But he has often been played out of position, in a number ten role, as a wide-man or in a two up-front.
Bamford’s natural position is as a lone-front man. This is how he managed to secure the Championship Player of the Season and end the season as the club’s top scorer in 2016.
He is a completely different player to the opposite winger Adama Traore, and this means that Boro have different avenues and different ways to play. Bamford can be a key part of that.
As a left-winger he showed that his footballing brain and intelligence allows him to play in a variety of positions. Pulis obviously likes Patrick and his run in the side can only be doing his confidence the world of good, having not played a lot of football before re-joining Middlesbrough.
Play-offs could be on the cards for Boro
Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis said in his post-match press conference that there is no pressure on his team, and that no one is talking about Boro in regards to play-off places.
But with the gap now only four points between them and sixth, the play-off race is surely not over for the North-East side. Important games against Cardiff and Leeds await Boro in the next few games, and could be key to their promotion push.
Bristol, Derby, Cardiff and Preston all dropped points on Saturday, and Boro’s win meant the points difference as reduced significantly. With pressure building as the season comes to a close, Pulis’ experience could be vital in terms of picking up results in the coming weeks.