Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

In Focus

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

In Focus

Article excerpt

Byline: PHILIP TALLENTIRE

HOW do you solve a problem like Ramirez? The easy answer is you leave him out of the team.

Potentially Boro's match-winner, the 26-year-old is currently a shadow of the player who not so long ago ripped Arsenal apart, who scored a world-class goal to bury Bournemouth.

Even Aitor Karanka, arguably his biggest admirer, is getting fed up, judging by his post-match quotes at Stoke on Saturday.

It was put to him by BBC Tees that Ramirez didn't look happy out on the pitch in the opening 45 minutes.

Karanka responded by saying: "He didn't looking happy? Imagine how I was because we know that to play in the Premier League and to try and play and to try and survive in the Premier League we have to play 150% and the player who is not 100, 150% can't play."

Ouch! Karanka gave Ramirez the half-time hook at the bet365 Stadium, replacing him with Cristhian Stuani.

And, with the club's Premier League status hanging in the balance, the Boro boss has a huge call to make.

Does he ditch Ramirez or give him yet another chance to reach the standards he's capable of? At his best, the playmaker is the first name on the team sheet but, based on current form, he's not worth his place.

And, if Karanka is worried about Ramirez's application and stomach for the fight, there are other players in the squad who do care passionately about the club's future.

Back in January, two senior attacking midfielders wanted to leave Middlesbrough.

One was Stewart Downing who, frustrated with being constantly overlooked by Karanka, briefly considered moving away from his native Teesside for a game of football.

The other was Ramirez, who apparently decided he'd rather play for Leicester City despite penning a lucrative contract with Boro just six months earlier.

Downing soon had a change of heart and knuckled down to try and win a place in the team, despite little indication that his efforts would be rewarded. …

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