The Tony Gale Column

Friday 25 October 2019 13:00

I’ve said it time and again, but Wednesday night showed once more than we’ve got the best centre forward in the Championship. We saw against Luton Town that if we get balls into Mitro, he will score goals. That’s his first hat-trick at club level, and he’s now a few goals out in front in the race to be top scorer. It was a predatory hat-trick, he’s definitely a Premier League player and he’ll be anxious to get us back up there to prove he’s the real deal.

The Championship is so competitive this season. The fact that only five points separate 1st and 10th says it all. This is a good thing, though. Results went our way in midweek, seeing Nottingham Forest lose at home, West Brom only drawing to Barnsley, so our win put us right back in amongst it. We’ve just got to keep picking up results because, if we do, then we’re going to be in a great position to capitalise on the fact that nobody is running away with it. It’s such a tight league this year, so we just need to start stringing together the wins that will put us in the top two.

We saw Marek Rodák make his first league appearance for Fulham on Wednesday. Marcus Bettinelli will of course be disappointed but he’s got a good character and will respond in the right way. He’s a quality keeper, so it shows that nobody should take their place for granted. It was a bold move by Scott, but it shows the faith he has in Marek who’s clearly a very good goalkeeper as well. Marcus will get to grips with it, keep working hard in training, and he’ll be back again stronger. It’s a squad game and we’re going to need everyone between now and the end of the season.

It’s fatal to think that any game is easy, but looking at the run of fixtures coming up, I want us to be heading into the international break with some decent points. Whilst on paper the next three games look quite appetising and I’m hoping we can get seven or nine points, that mindset can be so dangerous in a league that’s got hiccup written all over it. Middlesbrough are having such a tough time of it at the moment that they’re going to focus on making it as hard for us as possible. Hull had a great win at Forest in the week, and Birmingham are one of those floating sides who can always spring a surprise.

First we’ve got Middlesbrough on Saturday. Their match against Huddersfield on Wednesday wasn’t a great spectacle. You can see what they’re trying to do, they want to grind results out, so they’re going to be dogged at the weekend.  They’ve got some very good players, with a fledgling young manager in Jonathan Woodgate who’s finding his way. He’s a Boro lad but you need more than that to be successful in this line of work. He’s played at the highest level, he was a top player who represented Leeds and Real Madrid among others, but it’s tough making that transition to manager. Their two wins this season have both come at the Riverside, and we’re going to have to be wary of the many threats Boro have at their disposal.

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