8:00am Monday 19th August 2013
By Paul Fraser
Match analysis: Middlesbrough 1 Blackpool 1
IT is no secret Tony Mowbray's striker search has stretched far and wide this summer and Middlesbrough's answer could have been under his nose all along.
But how do you solve a problem like Marvin?
Marvin Emnes is not a new-boy settling in, it is five years since Gareth Southgate brought him over from Sparta Rotterdam in a £3.2m deal – and he remains untapped potential.
The hope now is that Emnes' first goal of the season – a stoppage-time equaliser against Blackpool on Saturday – will rejuvenate him on the pitch after a frustrating 12 months.
But Middlesbrough have hoped for that for the majority of his time at the Riverside Stadium, so why will this time be any different?
Emnes, who has started the last two matches on the bench after he was booed off in the defeat to Accrington in the Capital One Cup, thinks the secret is to give him a free role – and to stick with him.
“The best way to get me playing well is for me to play and let me do what I want to do on the ball. If I get the chance to play, people will see what I can do,” said Emnes.
“The system that we play does suit me, playing behind the strikers, in space. I like that, that's me.
“The thing is people always say last season wasn't my season, that I had a lot on my mind. It's not true. I was the same person last season. I'm sick of people seeing me now and asking if I'm OK, or if I have a problem. I'm happy.”
Bids have been lodged for Leeds' Ross McCormack and Malmo's Takelo Rantie in recent weeks and it is hoped there will be an attacking addition before September 2.
And, for the fourth game in a row, it was evident what Middlesbrough's major problem is: Goals.
Despite having the wingers and a powerful centre-forward in Lukas Jutkiewicz, there has not been a player whose instinct is to feed off the striker's link up play in and around the box.
The strange thing is that even if Mowbray brings in a new face capable of scoring 15 goals this season, it is unlikely any arrival will have as much technique as Emnes.
His talent is undoubted and the £6m price-tag on his head 12 months ago after scoring 18 goals in the previous season is an indication of how highly Mowbray values him. But will his second of 2013 lead to a goal glut?
“It was nice to come on and get the goal that got the point,” said Emnes, whose finish cancelled out Sunderland fan Chris Basham's 83rd minute opener.
“Every player wants to play. If you are on the bench, it's different. The manager gave me time to play and impress and I think I did that. It was not that hard because I love to play.
“Everyone knows I can score goals. You have to be patient. It depends on games. If you don't get chances to score goals you will not score, but if I do get chances I will score goals. With the players we have got I think I will score.”
Once again Middlesbrough defended strongly and goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler was steady on his first Championship start for the club in the absence of the injured Jason Steele.
But there was very little threat posed to the Blackpool goal and it was not until Emnes' strike that Middlesbrough recorded a shot on target.
By that time Blackpool – who hardly looked like scoring themselves without the suspended Tom Ince and injured Matt Phillips - had taken the lead. Rhys Williams had sloppily fouled Boro fan Neal Bishop on the edge of the box. When Barry Ferguson's dead ball was blocked, it eventually fell to Basham to roll over the line.
Middlesbrough actually became more threatening then, with Emnes providing a different problem for the Seasiders' to deal with. Jutkiewicz had a couple of shots off target before the breakthrough came.
Albert Adomah's centre was not dealt with by Matt Gilks, who had left his line to try to gather, and Emnes' calmly picked his spot with a first time shot. Despite the timing, he hardly celebrated as Middlesbrough avoided a third defeat from four games.
He said: “I have always been enjoying life. Hard times, good times, even if I am not smiling I am happy. People can see that in a different way, but I am happy.
“I'm happy every day even if I don't smile. Sometimes you can't smile, you don't smile, but I'm happy. When I'm on the pitch I do that too.
“Supporters always want to win games, but it is a tough league. You are not going to be able to win every game. As long as you play hard and work hard then you will win games. A draw was a nice result in the end.
“It's important for me to come and help the team, the way a striker can really help the team is to score goals – and today I scored the 1-1.”
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