Why it didn't work out for Jordan Hugill at Middlesbrough ahead of QPR clash
At the time Jordan Hugill’s return to Middlesbrough in the summer of 2018 looked like a perfect fit.
The Boro-born frontman had proved himself at Championship level since leaving the North East in 2014 but had become surplus to requirements at Premier League side West Ham.
A loan move to the Riverside suited all parties. Boro needed a striker following the departure of Patrick Bamford to Leeds while Hugill required game time and was desperate to play for his hometown club.
Yet 15 months later, the burly frontman is preparing to face Boro with QPR this weekend, following an underwhelming six goals in 37 Championship appearances for the Teessiders.
So why didn’t it work out?
Was it a lack of ability? His performances this season strongly suggest not, and the forward has already netted seven goals in 14 league appearances since moving to the capital.
Hugill has often been deployed alongside fellow striker Nahki Wells by Rangers boss Mark Warburton, with playmaker Eberechi Eze supplying the forward line.
When asked about Hugill’s form ahead of Saturday’s fixture, Boro head coach Jonathan Woodgate said: “He done really well there.
“He got a bit of stick here but he’s shown that if he gets the service he will bang in the goals.
“Why didn’t it work out? Maybe it was how we played at times. He didn’t always have someone up there with him.
“He was a lone striker but now he has got Eze and Wells putting things on a plate for him.”
QPR’s attacking set-up couldn’t be more different to the system Boro deployed under Tony Pulis last season.
There were times when the Welshman’s side started in a 5-4-1 formation with a midfield made up of mostly defensive players.
The lone frontman, whether it was Hugill or Britt Assombalonga, often found themselves starved of service - just four teams in the Championship scored less goals than the Teessiders last term.
Yet Hugill’s change in fortunes will make Boro supporters wonder what could have been.
They may get an untimely reminder this weekend, with Woodgate’s side looking to end an eight-game winless run.