This series highlights three of Middlesbrough’s performers from the last game indicating which of those players deserves praise. Points at a player that could be on an upward trajectory and one that will be hoping for a better performance next time out.
Best: Marcus Tavernier
There were a number of Middlesbrough players who deserve praise for their performance against Wycombe. McNair was at his Bentley best at the heart of defence, Akpom did well meeting a number of headers despite not being a natural target man and tucked away his chance nicely. However in this instance Marcus Tavernier deserves the most praise.
Marcus Tavernier has had his fair share of criticism over the past few weeks with some Middlesbrough fans being unimpressed with some of his recent performances and even questioning his place in the team. The 21 year old has made 22 league appearances so far this season, showing how Neil Warnock sees the England born versatile player as a key member of the first team. He has been deployed in wingback, winger and in central midfield during the season so far with varying degrees of success. However, the energy and dynamism that he adds to the team, regardless of the position he was deployed in, cannot be denied it has instead been a question of his end product and role defensively. However his performance against Wycombe has gone some way to calming these concerns.
Marcus Tavernier has been in relatively good form over the last 5 games contributing a goal and assist against Brimingham City and Millwall respectively, while his 26 minute appearance against Preston North End was full of the movement that has helped him gain a number of admirers. So he went into this game as one of Middlesbrough’s more inform players and yet many wouldn’t have expected his performance to be as impressive as it was.
Marcus Tavernier’s heat map suggests that he was playing as a right winger against Wycombe Wanderers with Marcus Browne playing at No. 10 and Marvin Johnson as a left winger. While he often hugged the side of the pitch in the defensive and middle third, sometimes sending an in swinging ball from deeper areas of the pitch, he often moved into the box in the final third where he was a serious threat with his stronger left foot. This meant that Middlesbrough were playing an unsymmetrical system with Johnson almost constantly holding the width down the left flank which helped to destruct the defensive line and create goalscoring opportunities.
Marcus Tavernier was most impressive in front of goal against Wycombe, managing to score a goal and hit the woodwork from a very impressive shot and could have scored even more if he had been more clinical with his four shots. He also contributed by creating opportunities for others having made a total of 3 key passes and 1 through ball during the game, proving himself to be a creative and goalscoring force. Perhaps what summarises his threat the most was Wycombe’s foul record against the England U-20 International as he won 3 fouls during the match, the highest in the team.
He was also involved in distribution from the wide right too though, making a total of 34 pass attempts, at a respectable 70.6% pass success rate (the 3rd best in the team), with his 3 long ball attempts all finding their man. Unfortunately, his crosses failed to meet a teammates head but it wasn’t for a lack of trying as he put 4 crosses into the box too.
Finally, he also contributed to Middlesbrough’s defensive game making the most tackles in the team and even getting a single clearance in showing that he had a strong all round performance against Wycombe Wanderers.
Defensive: 5 tackles (1st), 1 clearance
Marcus Tavernier’s importance in Middlesbrough’s victory against Wycombe Wanderers cannot be understated as his 5.9% possession, the highest of any of the attacking quartet is the most indicative of his importance to the team.
Most Improved: Marcus Browne
There have been a number of questions about Marcus Browne and his role at the club this season with him seeming to inch closer to more first team opportunities before his injury. Now he has returned from injury and available for selection Neil Warnock had no qualms about putting the former Oxford United player in the squad. The former Cardiff manager was also ready to praise the player for his efforts in training so far this season after admitting he wasn’t impressed by his work ethic early on. The biggest praise of all for the player though was Warnock decisions to start him in the starting XI.
Marcus Browne may have made 5 appearances so far but they were few and far between, with all of his appearances coming as a substitute off the bench and as such it is hard to make a judgement on his form this season coming into the game. However his performances as an impact sub have definitely been impressive with the former West Ham player getting a goal and assist in just 67 minutes of game time.
Neil Warnock deployed Marcus Browne in a free role behind the striker causing him to appear all over the attacking line during the game, though he was certainly most impressive when making runs into the box.
Marcus Browne capped his first start of the season with a goal created from his 3 shot attempts during the match showing his active he was in finding opportunities. He also helped creatively though not to the same level as Tavernier making just 1 key pass. Once again his threat to Wycombe can be seen in the 3 fouls he won as he was enough of a threat to force Wycombe to commit fouls. He also made a total of 3 crosses, one of which found a Middlesbrough head, showing his willingness to move out wide to create opportunities.
Middlesbrough fans will fondly remember Marcus Browne’s preseason performance against Saint Etienne last season when there was a general hope around the club that Middlesbrough may have made quite the coup in signing the 22 year old. Unfortunately it didn’t happen for him last season and now a year on, at the age of 23, Marcus Browne may well come good on the potential that every Boro fan saw in him over a year ago and if he does then Middlesbrough will have a great player on their hands.
Middlesbrough’s performance against Wycombe proved to be comfortable with the team being under little threat despite not being at their best. However there were few standout poor performances against Wycombe with Fry’s momentary bad decision to concede early on and Dijksteel’s general lack of involvement the biggest complaints that can be levied against any of the Boro players. However it would be unfair to criticise them for these small niggling issues, particularly since Fry proved himself in a few slightly concerning moments in the early stages of the second half. So this week the ‘worst’ performer goes to no one.