What Happens To Middlesbrough’s Britt Assombalonga When Gestede And Fletcher Return?
Middlesbrough’s Congolese forward Britt Assombalonga was bought for a lot of money in the summer, and because of that, the jury is out as to whether he has been worth it.
The first thing to mention though is that the fee has nothing to do with the player himself, so 11 goals in 19 games would be a very fair return for any forward in this division. The fault levelled at Assombalonga in the past has been that, much like Romelu Lukaku in the Premier League, he only scores against the weaker teams and tends to struggle against the bigger ones. Is that true though?
The harsh reality is that that has indeed played out this season. Assombalonga has scored his 11 goals against Burton, Bolton, QPR, Barnsley Reading, Hull, Leeds (in defeat) and Birmingham, with blanks against Wolverhampton, Sheffield United, Aston Villa, Fulham, Cardiff and Derby.
For what it’s worth; I don’t think there is a mental block for Assombalonga to get over; it’s simply that he is worth £15million not because he is a spectacular striker, more because he is a strongly consistent one and so he doesn’t go missing against the smaller teams like so many would.
It may sound silly but at 2-1 down against a top side and needing a goal, I’d probably back Rudy Gestede or Ashley Fletcher to possess that bit of magic which could change the game more than I’d back Assombalonga.
With Gestede and Fletcher both recovering from injuries and about to return to first-team action after having played for the under-23’s, the question will be asked whether Assombalonga automatically keeps his place.
I’d say the former Nottingham Forest man definitely will stay in the starting XI for the next few games, with the added pressure on Garry Monk to play him given his £15million price tag. The get out for a manager though is to be able to bring certain players off the bench, which may well mean Fletcher and/or Gestede grabbing more headlines for winning goals as the season goes on.
Monk made the mistake early in the season of playing both of these two forwards out on the left as though to shoehorn them into the side, a repeat of that being something which could take Middlesbrough back by a step.
If it were me; I’d give Fletcher a go up front against a couple of top sides to see if he truly announces himself on the scene.