By Thomas Reyer
Boxing Day 2017 saw Middlesbrough FC appoint a new manager in Tony Pulis, following the departure of now Birmingham City manager, Garry Monk.
Spanish winger Adama Traore sporadically played during Monk’s tenor. However, when he did, he would often produce a moment of magic and a woeful mis-judged error all within 30 seconds of each other.
It was evident to see that Traore had the ability to beat any player with his lightning pace and deadly dribbling. He just lacked the end product that could make him the complete winger.
Clearly, this frustrated Monk and it subsequently led to Traore finding himself on the bench more often than not. Traore had endured a similar experience under previous Boro managers, Steve Agnew and Aitor Karanka.
Middlesbrough Season Card holder of 50 years, Colin Crawford said: “Every time he picks up the ball you hold your breath. You always believe he is going to create a goal-scoring opportunity no matter where he is on the pitch.”
Adama Traore made another appearance for Spain U21s – albeit a brief one. He played the final three minutes of the win over Estonia. #boro
(📸 via MARCA) pic.twitter.com/FADFn5aZAe
— EverythingMFC (@EverythingMFC) March 27, 2018
Therefore, the arrival of Pulis last year indicated to most Boro fans that his time as a Middlesbrough player could be coming to an end. It would be fair to say that Pulis is not renowned for favouring players like Traore. He is explosive, powerful and undeniably excites fans, but when Pulis arrived, he was unreliable, unpredictable and inexperienced.
However, Pulis placed his trust in him the winger, who has now become the first name on the team sheet. Traore has repaid that faith ten-fold already. The Barcelona academy graduate has been simply unplayable at times in the past few months and has been the key figure behind Boro’s late promotion charge.
Dom Brown, who runs the website Views from the Holgate, had this to say about the Spanish winger:
“Who would have thought Tony Pulis would be the manager to turn Adama Traore into a world beater? Not me for one. I was a huge critic of Traore, and part of me wanted to cash in in January.
“I’m so thankful Pulis kept has put his faith in the young Spaniard and he is quietly becoming the best player in the division.”
Most successful dribbles – Championship 2017/18:
Adama Traore – 174
Luke Freeman – 107
Jeremie Boga / Ollie Watkins – 104
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) March 20, 2018
Traore went 42 games without a goal for Boro, but has five in his last 11 games alongside multiple man of the match awards. His recent form earned him his first Spain U21 call-up.
He came on as a substitute in both of Spain’s U21 matches. However, Middlesbrough face table topping Wolves on Good Friday and Traore’s focus will return to ensuring Boro make the play-offs come May.