How Harold Moukoudi and Ravel Morrison could solve multiple dilemmas for Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate

Jonathan Woodgate says Middlesbrough could play with a back three or a back four following the arrival of Harold Moukoudi.Jonathan Woodgate says Middlesbrough could play with a back three or a back four following the arrival of Harold Moukoudi.
Jonathan Woodgate says Middlesbrough could play with a back three or a back four following the arrival of Harold Moukoudi. | JPIMedia
Middlesbrough completed two new signings on transfer deadline day – and the arrivals of Ravel Morrison and Harold Moukoudi should help solve multiple problems for head coach Jonathan Woodgate.

Boro’s squad has been glaringly thin since the start of the season, meaning some players have operated out of their natural positions in recent weeks.

The Teessiders have found a compromise this season, though, predominantly starting with a back three and wing-backs to shore up their backline.

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Defensive injuries to Dael Fry, Daniel Ayala, Ryan Shotton and George Friend have forced Woodgate to use Jonny Howson and Paddy McNair as makeshift centre-backs.

Howson and McNair have performed admirably at the back, yet it’s clear the latter would be better suited to a central midfield role.

Moukoudi’s arrival should allow that to happen, and the 6’3 defender looks like a perfect fit to play in the heart of a back three.

Boro’s new signing could also allow the Teessiders to switch to a back four, like they did in the second half against Blackburn on Saturday.

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“He can play in a two or a three,” said Woodgate when asked about Moukoudi over the weekend. “But I’ve got that option to play as a two now because I’ve got that natural centre-back. That means we can move McNair forward.

“As you could see, when we went to the four, we attacked better. It’s just difficult to start with a four because we haven’t got that natural defender and you need to stay in the game as long as you can.”

Boro also appear short of options at right wing-back, with teenager Djed Spence the only natural fit due to Anfernee Dijksteel’s long-term knee injury.

Yet another option at centre-back could free up Howson to move back out wide, a position he occupied earlier in the campaign.

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Further forward, Morrison will also provide alternatives in the attacking third, with the ability to play as a central midfielder or just behind a striker.

Unlike a couple of months ago, Woodgate has options at both ends of the pitch.