Neil Warnock promises excitement as Middlesbrough search for the right style

Neil Warnock is still trying to find the right recipe for his Middlesbrough players, but he is happy with the ingredients he has to work with.

DRAMA: Neil Warnock has promised exciting football as Middlesbrough set their sights higher in 2020-21

The veteran manager was parachuted in for the final eight matches of last season with a brief to save the club from Championship relegation, and did so.

This season he has set his sights higher, aiming at the play-offs. The turnaround to Friday's opening match of the season, a League Cup tie at home to Shrewsbury Town, has been short and the personnel changes minimal – only centre-back Grant Hall has been signed so far – but he is happy with the progress.

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“You can only play systems or styles that fit the players so I'm trying to find a style that suits our players and they've done ever so well so far, it's just the numbers we're short of,” he said.

“But I have enjoyed pre-season, I've enjoyed the training session and the way they've got together, watching them from a distance, that comradeship.

“(Jurgen) Klopp said that they (Liverpool) weren't the best team, but they'd got the best team spirit and the best desire and I don't think there's any substitute for that. You put that into good players and you've got a great recipe.”

Warnock has joked that his players will ruin his reputation if they continue to show the quality of football they did in pre-season. His predecessor, Jonathan Woodgate, was recruited to play a style more pleasing on the eye after Tony Pulis's rein.

Warnock was alluding to the fact his sides are more renowned for being combative than pretty, and he has promised excitement but not passing for passing's sake.

“I'm not a fan of 30 passes in my own half, ending up at the goalie, that's not my kind of football and I've no intention of that. I want us to entertain – I want crosses, shots, oohs and aahs, tackles and headers and I'll try to fit a system around that," he said.

“We have to play football that gives our strikers the opportunity to create chances and take them.

“The two strikers (Ashley Fletcher and Britt Assombalonga), what can you say about them? A lot of clubs in the Championship wish they had two striker like we have.

“You can have a system but if it's not working, you've got to be able to change in a game. You've got to work on that in training to say if this is not working, this is what I want, so it's double the amount of tactical training. That's why I'm glad next week we can spend a bit of time on it because you've also got to talk about how you'll play with ten men and things like that so they know what they're doing in any situation.

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James Mitchinson