Michael Carrick must start 24-year-old as Middlesbrough prepare for huge Sheffield Wednesday clash: Opinion | OneFootball

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Football League World

·19 September 2023

Michael Carrick must start 24-year-old as Middlesbrough prepare for huge Sheffield Wednesday clash: Opinion

Article image:Michael Carrick must start 24-year-old as Middlesbrough prepare for huge Sheffield Wednesday clash: Opinion
  1. Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday are both desperate for a win in tonight's game, as they sit at the bottom of the Championship.
  2. Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick needs to start playing Riley McGree more, as his technical skills and intelligence can contribute to the team's success.
  3. With a talented midfield, Middlesbrough has the ability to defeat Sheffield Wednesday and turn their season around, but they need to perform under the pressure.

Middlesbrough take on Sheffield Wednesday this evening in a game that already feels massive for both clubs.

Middlesbrough seeking first win of the season

Michael Carrick’s side had started the campaign as one of the favourites for promotion following his outstanding work after taking over last season, which saw them reach the play-offs.

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However, they haven’t hit the heights expected so far, picking up just one point from six games, meaning they sit bottom of the Championship.

Yet, they are coming up against a Wednesday side with the same record, and a nervy Hillsborough crowd will demand a response from their side as they seek a first three points since their return to the second tier.

Riley McGree must start for Middlesbrough

In hindsight, the expectation around Boro this summer was perhaps unfair.

Carrick lost some key players this summer, with Ryan Giles and Cameron Archer returning to their parent clubs, and Ajax signed top scorer Chuba Akpom.

With Boro reinvesting in youth, patience was always going to be required, even if the start has been a lot worse than anyone could’ve expected.

But, when you dig a bit deeper, it’s easy to have sympathy for Carrick, as the performances do warrant more. Boro are not getting outplayed, and they are creating chances, so you would back them to come good.

Having said that, the manager isn’t helping himself in some cases, and that certainly applies with his use of Riley McGree.

The Australian was an important player last season, and he brings a lot to the team, yet Carrick has been reluctant to play him, as he has only started once since the opening day.

McGree may be suffering from the fact he can play in multiple positions. The 24-year-old is comfortable in a midfield two, he can play attacking midfield, and also out wide, so he hasn't nailed down a clear place.

Most fans would like to see the former Birmingham man in an attacking midfield position, but whatever happens, he needs to be in the team.

McGree is extremely comfortable in possession, and that will be critical against Wednesday.

As mentioned, the hosts are under pressure themselves, with the fans unhappy with owner Dejphon Chansiri, and they are far from convinced about boss Xisco Munoz.

Therefore, it’s going to be an anxious stadium, so Boro need to do all they can to turn the crowd on their own side, which will be done by controlling the play.

Not only is McGree technically sound, but he is very intelligent with his movement. He will pick up spaces that will allow Boro to dominate, and, crucially, he will be able to contribute in the final third.

This is a player that scored six times last season, and his left foot is a major weapon for Boro if they can get him in the right positions.

With Lewis O’Brien joining Hayden Hackney and Jonny Howson, it’s fair to say that Boro have a talented midfield, and they need to show what they’re all about in this high-pressure encounter.

There’s certainly enough ability in the Boro squad to get a win against an Owls side that were in League One last season, but it’s now about walking the walk.

Carrick is sure to make changes from the side that lost at Blackburn, and McGree has to be a beneficiary.

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