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5 Things: Middlesbrough v Reading

After the biannual madness of transfer deadline day, we're back to usual service with Dave McCormack's 5 Things from Middlesbrough.

Karanka rues his side's lack of Cox
Karanka rues his side's lack of Cox
Richard Sellers

1. Akpan not rated?

With Norwood and Kuhl starting ahead of him, Akpan must be wondering if he has a future at Reading. It's obvious that Adkins feels that it he is a little cumbersome and to be fair his first touch isn't the greatest. However, what he does add is a little solidity and given that Norwood and Kuhl were trying to do the same job on Saturday (break up play and stop Boro passing), maybe he potentially would have been a better choice.

2. Positional play

I am still not convinced about Taylor as a winger. As he has for most of this season, he tried hard on Saturday and although I wouldn't question his effort I would question his effectiveness. He is increasingly dropping out of the game for long periods of time and even when he is engaged he offers little that could change the game. This same is true for Obita at the moment. His centre midfield experiment hasn't work. Whether he wants to play full back or not in the long term, Obita has proved he has the capabilities to be a very classy player in this position, so I say leave him there! We seem to be plugging holes and yes we have an injury crisis, but leave our best players in their best positions where we can to at least give us a fighting chance in games.

3. Transfers

The day after the transfer window is always interesting and gauging fans' reactions I would say that there is a 60/40 split on whether people are happy or not. This is a good subject for a future talking point and more detailed one which I am sure we will see.

However, even with a full team we still look lightweight in some areas. We really needed someone in centre midfield who can bully the opposition. With everyone fit, we don't have the players with the ability to do this and although we have tried Hector and Akpan in this role, they never have been able to boss a game. Against Boro it was painfully obvious that our midfield was getting bullied.

4. So what did we need based on Saturday's performance?

Going through the team from Saturday; goalkeeper - no worries! We won't miss McCarthy and looking at the reserves/juniors we are incredibly well stocked in this area. Hector and Pearce are adequate CBs for the Championship, and Pearce will help to develop Hector/Cooper, but given the fact Pearce has the turning circle and pace of a large supertanker, I think a little more experience in there though would have taken the pressure off him and helped us become a more solid unit.

Midfield is lightweight and lacks any creativity: Williams/Guthrie may offer a little more when they return however we really needed an enforcer to help us dominate opponents - look at the job Leigertwood used to do for us.

Our forward line deficiencies are obvious: we needed someone with pace who can offer a real goal threat up there and Murray coming in should help us in that area as long as we keep him fit!

5. August thoughts

A bright start in week one has been followed by poor performances against Huddersfield and Forest that left us sat just above the relegation zone. Even though we are still in the cup, being realistic how many fans who went to Boro were expecting anything of this game?

Ignoring my tongue in cheek prediction that we would win this one at a canter 5 minutes before kick-off, I, along with most of the fans who trudged up to Boro, would been very happy to come away with a draw. So apart from the Huddersfield capitulation you could argue that we are on track. The Boro result will give us a massive lift before the international break and the major positive is the reaction of the fans this season to so many of the youth players coming through and not being overawed at this level. The main plus coming in the form of our David Luiz lookalike, Aaron Kuhl - I hope we don't have to cash in on him too soon!