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Media view: Middlesbrough-eye view of Saturday's Vitality Stadium match

Posted: Thu 20 Apr 2017

We get the view from a Middlesbrough journalist ahead of Saturday's game in the Premier League

Middlesbrough travel to Dorset to take on the Cherries on Saturday and we get the north eastern view on the match from a local journalist. 

Paul Fraser from the Northern Echo filled us in on the recent managerial change and going ons at the Riverside Stadium.

afcb.co.uk: It's a big game for Bournemouth on Saturday, but just how big is it for Middlesbrough?

PF: It's huge. The team have got two games coming up against Bournemouth and then Sunderland next Wednesday and after they've then got tough games against Manchester City, Chelsea, Southampton and Liverpool.

That makes the first two games ones where they've got to pick up points and get victories because it's hard to imagine too many points coming after that.

I keep saying that they're playing better under Steve Agnew but it's the fact that they haven't won since before Christmas that's the real problem, though there have been improvements.
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afcb.co.uk: Do the Boro fans still think Premier League survival is possible?

PF: It's a tricky one because the fans were split and large sections of them were still supportive of Aitor Karanka up until he left the club and there were doubts that it was right decision for him to go.

Agnew has come in and deserves his chance, he's got the respect of the players and has bought improvements.

After the Arsenal game - which they quite easily could have won - the atmosphere in the Riverside was really positive and that's given the fans a little bit of belief that they could get something out of Bournemouth and Sunderland.

If they can then that will give everyone a lift because they have got good players but the morale and the confidence has been sapped out of them because of the awful run of form.

afcb.co.uk: How have Middlesbrough got on in the pressure games this season?

PF: They had a really big game in February against Crystal Palace; they went down there but lost 1-0.

That was a pivotal fixture and they followed it up with another defeat at Stoke City. Those two games were where Karanka really lost the support of the majority of the fans and the dressing room.

You would argue that they didn't really show up for those games. Since Agnew's come in they have played better but in the high pressure games they've disappointed, including in the 4-2 loss at Hull recently.
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afcb.co.uk: How has the style changed since Steve Agnew took over the reigns?

PF: Well, he's had five games and he's had four different systems, so he has really tried to mix it up and before he was given the job they struggled to create chances though they were really resilient at the back.

Agnew has encouraged them to get forwards, which has opened them up a little bit at the back. But they are trying to get the ball into the box a lot quicker and move the ball a lot quicker.