Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Downing Showed His Expected Class in the No. 10 Slot, but There Were Plenty of Other Lessons We Learned

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Downing Showed His Expected Class in the No. 10 Slot, but There Were Plenty of Other Lessons We Learned

Article excerpt

Byline: Dominic Shaw Sports writer

MUCH of the post-match talk was unsurprisingly centered on the absence of Lee Tomlin and of Christian Stuani's paperwork but Aitor Karanka was instead keen to focus on the positives of the win over Getafe.

And there plenty of them. So often we look back on a game of numerous chances and no goals, yet the win over the Spanish top flight side was a case of the complete opposite: the one genuine chance Boro carved out, they finished.

And it was a touch of absolute class from Stewart Downing to make it.

True, you lose Downing's ability to swing in the perfect cross from the left when he's played in a central role, but in doing so you give him the opportunity to pick a defence-splitting pass much like the one that offered Kike the chance to grab the only goal of the game.

It wasn't exactly the moment Downing will have dreamt of, the triumphant return of the hometown hero who walks out to make his first Riverside appearance since 2009 in front of just 6,107 fans.

There's every chance there will be almost that many Teessiders at Deepdale next week.

Given the fact it was only a pre-season friendly, a ticket offer would have tempted a few more fans in, no doubt, but after a summer of spending and three months to get over the Wembley heartbreak, attendances at the Riverside will undoubtedly be on the up this year.

And a win over an established La Liga side is certainly an impressive enough way to bring pre-season to a close. Here's what we learnt from the win over Getafe: Question marks over Lee Tomlin The boss was insistent that Lee Tomlin's absence from the Boro bench yesterday was due to a stomach complaint, rather than a complaint from the player that he'd been left out.

Word quickly spread pre-match that Tomlin had been seen driving away from the ground.

He was named on the bench but he wasn't on the bench, replaced by newcomer Jack Stephens who was brought on to make his debut for the final seconds.

Despite Karanka's insistence that there was nothing more in it, Tomlin's whereabouts on Saturday raised even more question marks about his Boro future.

There was already slight uncertainty. The debate about where last season's No.10 will play following the arrival of Stewart Downing has rumbled on all summer.

And reports have done the rounds of rumoured interest from elsewhere this week, namely Bournemouth.

There's certainly been no suggestion of dissent from Tomlin's camp. He started and played the first half at Doncaster last week, although it was a frustrating 45 minutes for him.

And even taking into account Downing's arrival, how many times have we heard Karanka talk about his desire to have two players competing for a place in every position? A delight to watch and a matchwinner on his day, frustrating when he's not at his best - time will tell as to whether Tomlin has a pivotal part to play for Boro this term or whether he'll be behind the wheel again and heading elsewhere. …

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