Boro boss looking for more quality

THERE is no disguising that Middlesbrough’s problems in front of goal have cost them an even stronger start to a season that could end in promotion.

The sheer fact that that goals have not flowed as often as they would have liked, though, has prevented them from taking the Championship by storm and they sit two points shy of leaders Leeds ahead of today’s visit of Wigan.

Pulis has hinted he is looking to make additions during the January transfer window, and that is likely to be in wide areas as well as a new frontman.

But for the time being he wants the players he already has at his disposal to grab hold of the situation and dictate they should be starting.

Britt Assombalonga is the leading scorer with five, while Martin Braithwaite has three. Below that, Jordan Hugill, Rudy Gestede and Ashley Fletcher have not got off the mark.

And while all of those players have track records for scoring, Pulis insists it is not always as simple as that when it comes down to repeating form in the penalty area.

He said: “I think coming into the club even last year we were playing teams and playing games where you are thinking ‘that should have been that and that should have been this’.

“So, yes, it’s been a little bit repetition from me but I think what happens is people start to look at it and the king is supposed to be wearing a silk suit and that silk suit isn’t really there and I think the little boy who’s very naïve actually opens his eyes and says that’s not a silk suit he’s wearing he’s actually got no clothes on at all.

“But it took a little boy to see that because the rest of them had been hood-washed into thinking that there was something else there. What we’ve got to do is wash all that nonsense away and everybody has got to work a little bit harder and be more clinical in that final third.

“The rest of it I don’t think it’s bad at all. I think we played some good football at Stoke the other day. Hopefully the goals will come.”

But Pulis does not feel blame for a lack of goals shouild rest on his forwards, as his team head into the visit of Wigan with a Boro player failing to score in any of the last four home dates.

He said: “Listen, we play with one person in midfield who sits with the two centre-halves and we get Mo Besic and Jonny Howson to get forward. Jonny hasn’t scored which is amazing, he’s played really well this year and even Saturday against Stoke there were two opportunities where we could have played the ball into him where, again, he’s got a great opportunity and we don’t.

“So those opportunities and those chances are there, we’ve just got to be better in the final third and keep working at it and working at it and if it doesn’t come then … make sure it does.”

And he thinks last weekend’s goalless draw at Stoke highlighted issues in the opposition’s box.

He said: “The disappointing thing is not just the strikers, it’s the set plays, even Saturday against Stoke, Dael Fry gets in the way of Danny Batth, Danny scores if Dael doesn’t back into him. If Dael pulls out of that position then Danny heads one in with four or five minutes to go. So there’s stuff going on that we have to make better.”

Boro have the best defensive record in the division. Fry has been in and out of the side but he could be set for a run at right-back after impressing last week in the absence of Ryan Shotton.

Pulis said: “It was a real tough game for him, for a kid who hadn’t trained because he had the flu and had that stomach upset. To come in and take Shotts’ place.

“The thing is with Dael is, he’s got to believe in himself a little bit more because he’s very good on the ball. When he runs through the pitch he’s got the ability to do that, he’s a very talented, talented boy.

“Dael could be as good as he wants to be. He’s quick, he’s got two great feet. He could work a little bit more on his heading but he’s got great pace and technically he’s a very, very good player.”