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Boro v Bolton (A) 3-0 (Britt (2) Johnson)

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For the first time this season Monk picks a formation that the players are comfortable with and we play well.


There's no need to reinvent the coaching manual in this division, we just need to be organised and compact when we defend and have balance at the top end of the pitch.


Hopefully we can settle on this formation, we've got options to tweak things with Bamford able to play as a number 9 or 10 and competition all over the pitch.


I'm delighted for Leadbitter to play and prove people wrong, I've never understood the criticism he gets from a section of our fans on here.


Agree totally. If you pick a balanced team it doesn't need to have all our best players in it but it works. Braithwaite for downing once he's fit and hopefully Howsen gets himself sorted and replaces leadbitter, a fully fit Ayala back in and we should be able to beat anyone in this league.


Fry did nothing wrong today.  I suspect he will play far more games than Ayala this season.

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A few points from me, but won't go over any old ground - Traore excellent, Britt did the business etc, just wanted to make a few points about some of the players who won't get the headlines.


Randolph is a superb keeper. His athleticism to get down to save a last minute shot that would not have affected the outcome of the game had it gone in shows what a buy he was. I feel very comfortable with the guy between the sticks.

Fabio and Christie will face better opponents, but were accomplished in everything they did. Perhaps understandably, playing behind Traore and Downing respectively, Christie was more reserved and Fabio more adventurous. But it was good to see a more defensive side to Christie's game. I'm not ringing the death knells for Friend's place as a first team fixture just yet, but these guys are firmly in the driving seat.


Rumours of Leadbitter's fade into obscurity have been greatly exaggerated. I confess to have been guilty of thinking his days as a starter were over, but he was fantastic today. Him and Clayton have lost none of their mutual understanding.


Downing was playing pretty much the same ole he did under Karanka, left midfield but not bombing on, and coming inside a bit more than Adama did. He looked rusty, but his passing is still up there with the best. Not convinced he should be in the XI every week, but I'm glad we didn't sell him.


It's not quite happening for Baker yet, but I'm not really too worried. Unlike Howson, who doesn't seem to know where he fits in, it's pretty obvious what Baker's role is. When it does click, his though balls for Britt will be a real weapon.


Is it too early to be concerned about Fletcher? While I'm not massively worried, as if Britt gets injured we have Braithwaite and Bamford, his cameo today only added to the feeling that he may be a bit of a dud. When Braithwaite is fit, I wouldn't be adverse to giving Fletcher a few weeks in the U23s to get some football under his belt.


Admittedly, I am not a fan of Downing. But I think you nailed it when saying he was "pretty much the same ole." But to me, 'the same ole (Downing)' is not something I want to see in this team.


 I might be wrong, but he lost the ball so, so many times. Sure, he's great at slowing down the counter attacks, which, to his defense, is sometimes great if we want to keep hold of the ball. But, we have Britt and Traore in that side. Why would we want to put a halt to a potential counter attack playing against slow CBs? 


In the same vein, his crossing and passing is not superior to anyone (bar Traore.. except for today), I really see no point in having him in the starting XI. Perhaps a cameo here and there for the last 10 min, sure.


I can't agree with a word you said there Nics. Downing was constantly moving the ball forward and pops up in different positions across the front left/centre/right confusing opposition.

Do I think he's the answer to our prayers? No I don't but he certainly is a very useful player to have in and around the first team

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Though downing played pretty well today, clearly the best passer on the pitch but did loose it a couple of times. Not sure I'd agree with holding up break aways, it wasn't a coincidence he was at the centre of most of our breaks, but each time the supporting runs were poor.


Fry got lucky on a couple of occasions, that block on the line I don't think he knew anything about. That said he's a lot better with every game and was mostly great.


Leadbitter and Clayton were vintage at their best, controlling the game and winning the midfield.


Britts first touch let him down a fair few times but he was a massive threat and can't argue with the goals.


Traore was unplayable and is clearly getting better.


All around great performance other than a 15 minute or so spell.

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Dunno what more Fry has to do, to convince some people. He's been really good and the lad is only 20. Deserves his place over Ayala 100%.


and shotton


Oh yeah absolutely. I really like the Gibson Fry partnership. They're only gonna get better together.

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Dunno what more Fry has to do, to convince some people. He's been really good and the lad is only 20. Deserves his place over Ayala 100%.


I don't think anybody is critisizing Fry RR, as he has done very very well, but most people know, at this moment in time, Ayala is a better player. His record with Gibson is awesome in this league, and he offers a big goal threat at the other end.


If you look at todays game, the 2 big saves Randolph made were from Madine getting the better of Fry physically, its not his fault as he's still young and slender, but Ayala comes out on top in them battles IMO.


I don't think anybody will grumble if Fry keeps playing, but I think people want to see the Ayala who played in the Championship previously, as he was an absolutely dominant force.

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Does that Ayala actually exist anymore though? He's hampered by injuries to the point he's downright unreliable and while I don't question his strength and quality when he's at his best, we've seen only glimpses of it and rare ones at that since that promotion season. Whatever happened to his ankle, he's never been right since. Personally, I know I'm in the minority here, I'd rather play the fit 20 year old who's probably only going to end up replacing Ayala in the long run anyway.

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