Boro Need Mido's Touch.
MIDO is set to be thrown straight into battle as Boro go to Fulham tomorrow desperate to kick-start the season. The ÃÂ£6.8m Egyptian targetman - physical but with a deft touch and good in the air - may not start but he looks certain to be blooded in a crucial clash at Craven Cottage .
With a makeshift defence, the main creative force on the left carrying a knock and the Yakubu not in the squad - draw your own conclusions on that one - the stage is set for a hero and the former Spurs striker is the only proven Premiership predator at Gareth Southgate's disposal.
I want Mido to dominate and sparkle and score a last gasp winner - if only so we can use a banner back page headline screaming: "He Sphinx It's All Over!"
Boro need something to lift the gloom after a shambolic and demoralising defeat at Wigan and set the scene for the upward progress we all hoped for. Fulham may not yet be a "must win" game but defeat would leave Boro looking very vulnerable and will have the Hurworth heirarchy reaching for the panic button in the 13 days left until the transfer window slams shut.
It is early days but the table already has an ominous look and if Boro are dumped in the basement now it will be a long grind to escape - and will make it very difficult to attract the quality players needed to beef up a fragile looking squad.
And as much as a result Boro need a good performance, as individuals and as a unit. They need a fighting display that oozes pride and passion and burning desire to make all the big talk in pre-season count. Wigan was marked by a bright start and a slow slide to surrender that rightly brought widespread condemnation from supporters and pundits - and hopefully the boss too - and it can not be allowed to happen again or the entire tone of the season will shift.
Millionaire's son Mido arrives with some baggage. The much travelled marksman has had seven clubs in seven years before joining Boro and has fallen out with his coach at every one and had a quite spectacular on-the-pitch bust up with his national coach Hassan Shahata in the semi-final of the last African Nations Cup leading to him later making a grovelling public apology and watching the final victory from the bench.
But he also has qualities that have made him hot-property and ensured his CV has giant clubs like Ajax, Roma and Marseilles on it. Strong, quick, direct and commanding in the air, he has scored goals at the top level across Europe whenever he has been a first team fixture. He netted 21 in 37 in his only full season at Ajax and 11 in 27 when he was a regular at Spurs, although his strike ratio and overall contribution was far less impressive after Martin Jol's rotation policy started to kick in.
And those strengths could be just what Boro need. Boss Southgate has already pointed out the tasty prospect of the potent aeriel threat that Boro could pose with Mido attacking the pinpoint crossing from the left, while his strength on the ball and movement of it would offer the possibility of linking up with Tuncay and Aliadiere in a way that never quite worked with Yakubu.
Boro could still do with one more proven striker as if Yakubu leaves - which looks ever more likely - the squad looks lightweight up front with no-one else able to fill in as the targetman or strong front-runner type. An injury to Mido - or an extended run by Egypt in the African Nation Cup in January and February - would leave Boro with Lee Dong Gook and Aliadiere up front, hardly the most prolific or intimifdating pairing. Laugh if you like but I'd consider a robust, indudtrious niggley figure like Paul Dickov figure to cover in that role.
Much rests on Fulham though. Victory would ease the pressure and make it easier to attract players while the sale of Yakubu wiould release funds to fine-tune the squad in other areas and encourage the switch to open, attacking football. Defeat could make recruitment far more problematic and force the boss to become more solid and defensive and the chance to shape a new mindset will be lost for another season.
Come on Boro!