‘They are quite fragile’: Ipswich face stuttering Middlesbrough at an ideal time
PUBLISHED: 10:51 07 December 2017
Ipswich Town have the perfect opportunity to take advantage of ‘fragile’ Middlesbrough’s struggles, according to former striker Alun Armstrong.
The Blues sit just two places and three points above Saturday’s opponents, but all is not well at the North East club given they are struggling to meet lofty expectations, following a summer which saw a succession of big-money signings arrive in a bid to secure an immediate return to the top flight.
Armstrong, who moved to Portman Road from the Riverside in December 2000, believes the Blues take on Garry Monk’s side at the ideal time following two good wins of their own, but expects the game between his two former clubs to be a close one.
“I think it will be an interesting game this weekend because Boro need to get back to winning ways and Ipswich seem to have picked up a little bit,” he said.
“It will be tough for both teams but Middlesbrough have such a high expectation on them. It’s expected they will be promoted, end of.
“They need to go up this year and everyone knows how much has been spent on players, in excess of £50million, and in all honesty in that league that should get you promoted.
“They made a statement early on to say ‘we will smash the Championship’ and it’s been far from it. You can get away with it if the performances are good and results not great. Unfortunately they are not getting either at the minute.
“I think it’s an ideal time for Ipswich to come and play Boro. They are quite fragile and I think Ipswich will be right up for it given the results they’ve had last week.”
Armstrong is now the manager of promotion-chasing National League North side Blyth Spartans but still finds time to keep a close eye on both of his former clubs’ fortunes. And he’s been particularly impressed by Blues striker Martyn Waghorn.
“I was really surprised he left Rangers because they are obviously a big club, but there is nothing like the English league at the end of the day,” Armstrong said.
“He’s had a great start to his Ipswich career and is always a threat and a good finisher. He’s be one to watch for Ipswich.
“Then again, you look at Middlesbrough’s attacking force and they have some great players but can’t string anything together. They have (Britt) Assombalonga and he’s caused problems and scored goals, but the overall play hasn’t been great.”