NEIL WARNOCK insists that he has always trusted Andraz Sporar’s finishing ability, and the Middlesbrough manager has backed his club’s new star striker to continue in his goal-scoring debut against Nottingham Forest last night.
Sporar scored his first goal boron Warnock’s side has been kicking off since he moved from Sporting Lisbon to Teesside on a last-day loan change, with a spectacular first kick as he piled more misery on low-pressure Forest boss Chris Hughton in a comfortable 2-0 win.
Sporar hit the ball in the first half after Marcus Tavernier left him behind the Orman defence, adding 18 minutes and a second as summer partner Onel Hernandez took away rival goalkeeper Ethan Horvath before returning home.
Boro’s last-day signings made an immediate impact, with James Lea-Siliki also making a successful debut in the heart of the midfield, and Warnock was delighted to see that, having had to overcome a series of hurdles to sign Sporar. Slovenian continues his championship career.
“I thought you could score a goal,” said the Boro boss. “He hasn’t really played a lot of minutes in the last 18 months, that’s going to be good for him. I told him ‘Get ready for Saturday’ because it’s a different game then. But it will be very good for him to score such a goal and get the crowd behind him.
“He doesn’t need any more confidence – I’ve never seen such a confident lad. That’s what happened in practice – at the end of such great balls.
“He gives us something a little different, but it’s tough in the Championship. I don’t know if we can play him like that without Crooksy (Matt Crooks), because that takes a lot of pressure off him. He’s not going to get us ball in the air, but we decided to try him out and he’s great at finding the gaps. The goal was typical for him. He found the difference, a great ball from Tav and what a great result.”
Criticizing his team’s appearance as they were beaten at Coventry over the weekend, Warnock felt that last night’s performance represented much more of what he wanted his team to be like.
“It was a good response and the Championship is about that,” he said. “You have to get over your disappointments quickly. I thought it was more like a Neil Warnock suit. We really worked for each other, put on shifts, but we also played good stuff from time to time and created good luck.”
With the woods side at the bottom of the table, Hughton was teased by his own supporters in the closing stages, but Warnock, while sympathetic to his manager counterpart, insists there is no room for sentimentality on the pitch.
“It’s a tough time for Chris,” she said. “Managers can’t feel sorry for each other – it’s a dog-eating dog-and-selfish game.”