Can Boro Calm the Nerves and Blunt the Blades?
By Robert Nichols
Tuesday 07 Aug 2018 17:31:00
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Boro open the Riverside account tonight taking on fellow promotion nearlies Sheffield United tonight. Kick off 7.45pm. In a repeat of last season’s opening game, it gives a chance to reflect on all that has happened in the 12 months since we started as promotion favourites. Is a squad depleted of some of its stars still good enough to mount a challenge this term under Tony Pulis?

Boro fans are shell shocked after the exit of the Tees crown jewels Bamford, Gibson and Traore. Talking of accounts we may need to give that cheque book some serious airing in the remaining couple of days of the window. We could do with quality in midfield and down the flanks.

But until then it should be a big opportunity for the youngsters. What a game changing impact Tavernier and Wing made off the bench in those frantic final minutes at Millwall. It was old hands Braithwaite and George Friend that provided the finishing touches but Wing through the centre, Tavernier out wide and also Ashley Fletcher all softened up the Lions defence.

This can be a real opportunity for one or two to show now is the time to bank on them.

Aidan Flint is not going to repeat the nightmares of his debut. But he must now look to anchor that defence with Dael Fry. They have big shoes to step into to replace the departed Ben Gibson and injured Daniel Ayala. But we need them to click immediately. We know we are weak in other sectors of the pitch but we have to count on defensive strength and solidity.

Sheffield United were toppled at home by relegated Swansea in the first game. They will be looking for a big reaction tonight. We must heap the pressure on them. We need to put that first 75-80 minutes horror show at the New Den behind us and instead build on the fighting finish. The way we came back with those two late, late goals was simply thrilling for all that stayed until the end in the away end. Can we pile on the pressure from the start tonight and turn the screw against Chris Wilder’s Blades?

Come On Boro. We may be down on some quality players but we still have the heart and we have some precocious youth determined to make a mark. It is a new age now post Gibson, Bamford and Traore. The new team has not forged its identity yet. No better time and place to forge it than against The Blades.


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