Behind Enemy Lines: Middlesbrough

MILLWALL’S four-game winning streak came to an abrupt end as they were defeated by Blackburn last Saturday evening in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Neither side had played particularly well and the game looked to be heading for a dull 0-0 draw before two late Rovers goals handed the three points to Tony Mowbray’s side. The defeat saw the Lions drop to 20th in the Championship table, five points above the relegation zone.

Middlesbrough sit fifth in the table having lost just five games all season, but having shared the points in 10 of their 27 matches, leaving Tony Pulis’ side with some work to do to close the gap to the automatic promotion spots.



The sides played out a controversial 2-2 draw in August when George Saville started for the Lions before moving to Teeside in a club-record sale.

Lucas Ball spoke to Boro fan Josh Auckland ahead of the game.

Twitter: @josh_utb



Why do you support Middlesbrough?

I’ve supported Boro most of my life, they’re the club my dad supports and I couldn’t imagine following another team up and down the country.

What’s been your favourite season supporting Boro? 

My favourite season has to be 2004-05. It was our first-ever season in Europe, we finished seventh in the Premier League, beating some of the best teams in the league and a 90th-minute penalty save secured a second European campaign. Unreal.

And the worst?

The worst has to be our Premier League run in 2016-17 (one win in the final 21 games). We were just dreadful from December onwards. Didn’t look like scoring many goals. Only 20-odd goals all season. Awful stuff.

Do you think Tony Pulis is the right man for the job?

I’m not a Pulis fan whatsoever. I can’t stand the bloke and the way he has his teams playing football.

But I can’t argue with the results. I’m the one looking silly when he has us within touching distance of the top two

What are the expectations this season?

It’s got to be promotion with the squad we have. Anything else is an abject failure.

What do you need in January?

We need a creative attacking midfielder and another winger. Simply lacking in those two areas.

The sides drew 2-2 in August – what did you make of Millwall then?  

I made of Millwall then what I did last season and every season I’ve taken notice of them. They’re a very difficult team to play against and we got extremely lucky.

A good side who play for the badge on the shirt which is more than can be said for some of our players.

Given that performance, are you surprised they’re so low in the table?

Very surprised. I know Saville has been a bit of a miss for you guys but I thought you’d be lurking near the play-offs.

Who do Millwall need to be wary of on Saturday?

Lewis Wing has been our best player all season. Not bad considering he was in the ninth tier two years ago. Some player and achievement.

How has Saville settled on Teeside?

Saville has started slowly but is growing into our style of play. I do like him. Solid player but I can’t blame your lot for giving him some stick – shown no loyalty.

Which Lions players are you most worried about?

Jed Wallace and, weirdly, Steve Morison.

The latter always looks like causing us a lot of problems every time he plays against us. A wily old veteran.

What’s your opinion of Neil Harris?

Neil Harris is someone I’d love as my best mate but be petrified if he was my enemy. Demands and gets the respect he deserves. Wish we had our equivalent in charge.

Which Millwall player would you like Boro to sign?

I'd take Jed Wallace all day long. Fantastic player and probably hasn’t hit his peak yet. More to come from him.

What’s the likely Boro line-up and formation this weekend?

Knowing Pulis we will play a 4-5-1 formation:

Randolph; Shotton, Ayala, Flint, Friend; Clayton, Besic; Van La Parra, Wing, Tavernier; Hugill

Will you be there?

I will be there, I'd imagine. Sitting next to the away fans is always fun when Millwall are in town. Very vocal bunch. Love that.

Finally, what’s your prediction?

My heart says 3-1 to Boro, but I have this sneaky suspicion that Millwall will nick a 1-0 win.

Graphic: @ShedCreative

Staff

(@NewsAtDen)