Could Bamford and Baker be the creative sparks we need
Boro lack creativity. It’s a sentence that haunted the club last season and it’s something that Steve Gibson admitted he was looking to add this summer.
Despite the excitement that Adama Traore provides with his blistering pace, it can’t be said that he’s the creative force that Boro need given that he rarely finds a team mate with his cross and claimed just one assist last season. And that was a wayward shot that was turned home by Alvaro Negredo.
At the end of the season, the one creative spark that the club had was Gaston Ramirez. The Uruguayan maverick was brilliant in his initial 6-month loan spell with the club and showed in spells last season what he could do, but his petulance in wanting to leave meant that new boss Garry Monk couldn’t rely on him.
Say what you like about Ramirez, but his departure has left the club short of a playmaker, something they were desperately short of anyway.
Boro are still in the market for players, with a centre-back and a winger reportedly on their shopping list, so the search for added creativity has not stopped yet.
Lewis Baker joined on loan from Chelsea and his creativity cannot be doubted. Anyone who has seen his displays at England youth level or on one of his many loan spells can see that he has an eye for the spectacular.
Baker made a cameo against Sheffield United on Saturday but he’ll be hoping for a bigger chance to impress against Burton as he looks to show that he doesn’t just have impressive stats in the Eredivisie.
One man that will likely block his path to the starting XI on Tuesday, and potentially for the rest of the season, is Patrick Bamford.
Although he was signed as a striker, Bamford seemed to operate mostly as a number 10 against the Blades and excelled in the position, earning plaudits from the fans and the national media.
He was a constant thorn in the side of the Sheffield United defence and most of Boro’s promising attacks came through or involved the former Chelsea man. In a time when Boro need someone to step up and provide some creativity, Bamford did just that as he looked confident taking the ball down, taking on his man and finding space for a shot or to lay on a team mate.
The Boro goal was fortunate in that the defender hasn’t cleared his lines properly, but Bamford’s beautifully lobbed ball created problems for the Blades defence and keeper Jamal Blackman who was caught off his line when Gestede headed goalwards.
He looked exhausted by the end of the match as he’d run himself into the ground and with performances like that for the rest of the season, he’ll quickly become a crucial player for Garry Monk and he’ll be high in the goals and assists columns this season.
Burton will provide a different challenge to Sheffield United. The Blades attacked Boro and went for it whereas the Brewers, who are still looking for their first win of the season, could come, sit back and look to hit Boro in the break.
With opposition players camped in the Burton half, it’ll be harder for the likes of Baker and Bamford to find space and create chances, so this will be their first real test of their creativity as they look to provide the spark against a resolute Burton side.