Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 68: Middlesbrough (with Twe12thman)

Manchester City will be looking to keep next year’s Champions League qualification in their hands with a win against Middlesbrough at the weekend. After a rather disappointing derby day City will be looking to make a statement of intent by claiming all three points against a Boro side facing the real possibility of playing Championship football next season.

We spoke with Middlesbrough Twitter account, Twe12thman, to get their thoughts on the season so far, chances of survival, impressions on Pep and predictions for the game.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us. I think it’s fair to say that it’s been a rough season so far for Middlesbrough with your first league win of 2017 coming against Sunderland in midweek. You currently lie 19th in the table, six points off safety with four games to play. Can you put into words your season so far? Do you think you can stay up?

This season has been a disappointment. After waiting seven years to get promoted we look to be going straight back down with all the hopes and expectations and positivity about the club crushed.

Since the two teams last met in the FA Cup in March, Aitor Karanka has been released from his position as manager and Steve Agnew has taken over as caretaker. In your opinion was the club right to let Karanka go? Has Agnew taken to the role?

We were doing OK until January, but our dealings in the transfer window were poor. Aitor didn’t get his targets, some players struggled to step up to Premier League quality and our most creative player threw the towel in and has been a disgrace since. Some players need to look at themselves and ask “have I done enough?”. Agnew is not the man for next season in my opinion.

On loan, ex-City man, Alvaro Negredo was seen to be a bit of a coup for Boro in the summer with high scoring potential up top. How has ‘The Beast’ fared for you this season? Would you call it a successful return to England?

He is still a very good player. He’s strong, skilful, holds up play well to bring others in but hasn’t been given great service. Our supply to him has been limited but he has done well with what he’s been given.

What have you made of Pep’s debut season so far?

It’s his first season and English football can take some people time to adjust. I know it’s Conte’s first season also but he inherited a better squad of players. City fans must be a bit disappointed that there will be no silverware this year but a top 4 finish is likely.

We’re at the final stretch of the season and for different reasons this game is going to be seen as a must win for both teams. Who do City need to watch out for amongst the Boro ranks?

Hopefully Negredo will get some service and he can trouble your defence. Marten De Roon in midfield has a knack of popping up in dangerous positions and Adama Traore is capable of something magical that even his teammates don’t expect, but he must get his final ball sorted because he seems to freeze when given time to think.

Finally, please could you give us your predicted starting line-up and what you think the final score will be?

I wouldn’t like to predict the team because Agnew has changed formation every game. As for the score I’m obviously hoping for a Boro win (Heart = 1-0) but can see Man City winning (Head = 2-0).

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