5 Things We Learned From Middlesbrough’s First Game of the Season

Middlesbrough will look back in disappointment on Friday’s 1-0 defeat to with Garry Monk’s side squandering many chances at Molineux.

There were plenty of lessons to be learned from what was a difficult afternoon in the West Midlands.

Games Are Decided by Fine Margins 

Coming into this opening weekend, this was a game that many people were looking forward to seeing the outcome of. Both clubs have spent heavily this summer with two new managers in the form of Monk and Nuno Espirito Santo being backed significantly by those above them in the transfer window. It was always going to be an early indication to who had spent their money most wisely.

Ultimately, there was very little to separate the two sides, and the game was settled on one huge mistake from Boro centre back Daniel Ayala. The 26-year-old defender’s sloppy pass was intercepted by Wolves’ striker Leo Bonatini, who is on loan from Al Hilal. Bonatini then went on to slot home a pass from Darren Randolph to claim the game’s only goal.

Spending Big on Strikers Does Not Automatically Result in Goals

One of Middlesbrough’s main issues last season under the management of both Aitor Karanka and then Steve Agnew was finding the back of the net. Admittedly, the Premier League is a step up in class, but scoring just 27 times throughout the whole of last season is not good enough for any side. This was why signing a striker was high on Monk’s list of priorities for this transfer window.

Monk has signed three strikers so far this summer in the form of Britt Assombalonga, Martin Braithwaite and Ashley Fletcher. However, despite spending this amount on reinforcing their striking options, Boro were still not able to find the back of the net at Molineux despite a significant amount of chances.

Monk Will Take Time to Find His Best Starting Line-Up

It always takes time for managers to find their best starting line-up when they move to a new club. However, you get the impression that Monk will have less time than most. Boro chairman Steve Gibson has backed Monk heavily and has put all his trust in the former Leeds United manager taking Boro back to the top flight at the first attempt. If he feels Boro’s chances of gaining promotion are under threat at any point, then Monk will, without a doubt, be under considerable pressure.

Need to Maintain a High Level for 90 Minutes

Monk stated post-match that he felt one of the main reasons for Boro’s defeat was his side’s failure to get up to speed in the first-half and how they allowed Wolves to gain a foothold in the game. The second-half was totally different as the away side came back into it and were unlucky not to come out with at least a point.

The 38-year-old manager told Boro’s official site: “In the first half, we made too many simple mistakes with the ball and the second lesson is that how we played in the last 25 minutes, with that urgency and level of intensity, is how you need to start games in the Championship.”

It Could Turn out to Be One of Boro’s Hardest Games

It is straightforward for supporters to take results early on in the season far too seriously. It must be remembered that teams are still getting up to speed with new managers and players settling into their new surroundings and the demands of Championship football.

One thing for sure is that not many teams will come away with three points from Molineux this season, due to the amount of quality they have added to their squad including the £15 million signing of Ruben Neves from FC Porto. Monk will know this better than anyone, and will already have his mind set on preparing his side for their next game in an attempt to bounce straight back.


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