Whatever the answer was going into a vital campaign everyone needed to be on the same page and creativity needed to be restored to Boro’s languid forward line.
Despite some promising pre-season signs from Gaston, rumours circulated about Ranieri’s Nantes being keen, then Betis came in looking for a deal. After much speculation, Gaston was spotted in some rather dodgy gear at Gatwick looking to conclude a move back to Serie A, the place where he made his name.
So, with that transfer debacle sorted for Gary Monk the next issue to sort was who would be supplying the firepower to the likes of Gustede, Assombalonga, Bamford or Braithwaite. Would it be Howson? An olive branch for Downing?
Against Wolves, a game separated by a horrendous error from Ayala, many fans were worried again by the lack of a playmaker. The best chance of creating something of any meaning was coming from Friend and Christie in the wing back areas, Assombalonga hustled and Braithwaite struggled with the pace of the game making for frustrating viewing. Until a cameo from a previous hero…
Arise Sir Patrick of Bamford, Bamford made a big effort over the summer by coming back early to train to get in the best possible shape. You sense the criticism he has received from the likes of Dyche, Neil and Pardew has really given him some fire in his belly…which may prove to be our gain. It’s a big season for Patrick at 24, he’s no longer a promising youngster and after some wilderness years, this is the moment he’s been waiting for.
After a lively cameo against Wolves, he started against Sheffield and once again was a thorn in the side, dropping deep into pockets (a role we’d of hoped Braithwaite would slot into) and being the architect of Gestede’s opener.
Burton he was no different, pulling the strings from a slightly deeper role and putting through-balls into Assombalonga to chase onto. It's very early days, but the link up play between Assombalonga and Bamford looks very promising indeed. The only thing he lacked was a goal for himself, flashing a curling effort and a header both wide.