Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

It's to Our Credit That Teams Are Setting out to Frustrate; Opposition Tactics a Compliment Say Boro Pair

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

It's to Our Credit That Teams Are Setting out to Frustrate; Opposition Tactics a Compliment Say Boro Pair

Article excerpt

Byline: ANTHONY VICKERS anthony.vickers@reachplc.com @Untypicalboro

AFTER a flying start to the season Boro have been faced with a tactical poser as rival teams shut up shop.

Opposition bosses have set out to match Boro's shape, stifle space and stop them playing.

That is a compliment and par for the course when you are up at the top, says George Friend.

But Boro need to learn to pick the lock when rivals try to put the shackles on.

Full-back Friend and midfielder George Saville both agree that the tactical conundrum of teams sitting deep to soak up pressure will be a feature of this campaign.

"We have had a good start to the season but in some ways it has become a little harder of late, yes," said Friend.

"I think some teams are pre-empting our shape and I think they are changing their own system just for our game.

"Rather than concentrating on themselves they are concentrating on frustrating us so maybe that has made it a bit more difficult.

"But it is aways going to be a challenge when you are Middlesbrough in this league, we are always expected to be up there and teams see us as a scalp.

"Overall I think we've been good and we have dealt with it. We dealt with it against Bolton and Ipswich for example although Forest was disappointing and we fell short of our own standards in that game.

"But if teams are going to change their shape or the way they play against us then that is something we have to deal with.

"It is part of the landscape when you are up there and challenging. It is part of the price of success.

"That is what you get when you are up at the top. In any league. Look at Manchester City, teams will set out to try to stop them but they keep playing their way and keep rolling out results.

"That is what we have to do, keep playing our way, keep hitting our standards and if we do that then I'm sure we'll get the results. …

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