Select Alves this afternoon and he will score
Gareth Southgate conducts himself really well and I believe he will have a very solid managerial career. I have written before on EFT that I like his footballing philosophy which is best seen in his choice of signings.
Aliadiere, Tuncay, Hoyte, Digard are examples of technically strong and athletic players with a hungry character to succeed. Southgate has said before that we wants his team to play a vibrant style of football and his signings definitely reflect this.
Add that he is determined to follow the Steve McClaren policy of integrating the Boro academy players into the first team and you have some good reasons why I'm interested to follow the development of Boro under Southgate.
His biggest signing is that of the Brazilian striker, Afonso Alves. His scoring record in Sweden was superb and his league scoring record in Holland was awesome: 45 goals in 39 games!
If you check out Youtube videos of his goals when in Holland you will see that Alves is a natural finisher. He has a shooting technique that is repetetive - he drills the ball hard and low. He has a good build and a deceptively strong running style with the ball.
Alves was bought in January by Boro and I think he complements the type of football that Southgate wants to achieve. His two goals against Man Utd last season and free-kick against Stoke this season displayed his potential to emulate his form in the Premier League. Yet after going on a run of games when he got close but ultimately was unable to score goals, he was dropped for the match against Arsenal last weekend.
Southgate's loss of patience would have been a wake-up call for Alves. Yet, if my instincts are right, it should be for the best for the Brazilian striker. It should re-focus him and make him hungry to come back with a bang and show everyone plus himself that he should be the main goal-getter at Boro.
If I was Southgate I'd play Alves against Fulham this afternoon. If Alves has the character I think he has I have the strong suspicion that he will come back with a bang and score. I would be happy for Alves if I was proved right on this. He's a player I rate and I would like to see him get it right.
It would be harsh on Aliadiere who applied himself very well in the centre forward position and scored against Arsenal. But in the long-term best interest of Boro and Alves I think its better for the Brazilian striker to get back in the action as soon as possible and show everyone that he has the character and quality to rebound from a bad period.