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Garry Monk seeks Middlesbrough promotion through attacking flair

Saturday 29th July 2017
Netting only 27 Premier League goals sealed Middlesbrough's fate. New manager Garry Monk wants to rectify those attacking woes to lead Boro to an immediate return.

Following Aitor Karanka's dismissal as manager, in March, Middlesbrough won just a single Premier League match, beating even more abject Sunderland 1-0. Criticism for the rather negative play was warranted. Boro managed better than two goals only one time, a 3-0 victory over Swansea at the Riverside.

Chairman and owner Steve Gibson subsequently appointed former Leeds boss Garry Monk, charging him with securing promotion while adopting a more adventurous style. Signing Britt Assombalonga, Johnny Howson, and Martin Braithwaite suggests Monk aims to achieve both targets.

Only 24, Assombalonga represents Middlesbrough's record transfer fee at approximately £14 million. A broken kneecap and subsequent hamstring injuries restricted his appearances during three seasons at Nottingham Forest. Then he netted 14 league goals in 32 appearances last term, five in April and May. If the Congolese striker can maintain his fitness levels this season, he should prove a real asset for the Teessiders.

Braithwaite is expected to join Assombalonga in the ‘Boro attack. A regular member with Ligue 1 side Toulouse for the past four seasons, he rarely missed a game. The Danish international scored 11 league goals in each of the last two seasons. Renowned for his energetic running, Braithwaite should score at this level.

Howson brings experience from Norwich City. The English central midfielder was nominated as player of the year for the Canaries in 2016. He was a consistent performer in six seasons at the East Anglian club following his move from Leeds. Howson's six league goals last term all came before February but he should further bolster a Middlesbrough midfield unit that still includes Adam Clayton and Marten de Roon.
Boro are pushing more chips into the pot with young West Ham striker Ashley Fletcher's reported £7 million capture. Fletcher failed to find the net in 16 Premier League appearances for the Hammers but scored seven League One goals for Barnsley as a teenager. The 21-year-old could regain his confidence at Championship level.

With strikers Patrick Bamford and Rudy Gestede already signed by Karanka in January, the club is well-stocked in the attacking department, although Bamford and Gestede could struggle for game time under new boss Monk.

Whichever offensive formation Monk eventually chooses, it is evident goal-starved Boro fans can expect a bold attacking approach from their team as they seek a swift return to the Premier League.
John Welsh
I am a freelance sports writer specialising in football covering Premier League, EFL and English non-leagues plus top leagues in France, Germany and Italy. I have written for Inside Futbol, Football Weekends plus football previews for Hong Kong Jockey Club, and I’m also the author of book First Touch, a novel covering the exploitation of young African footballers and their experiences in Europe.

Total articles: 31

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