Words by Jake Evans (@jakeevans_11)
At the beginning of last season, many fans were very confident about our promotion chances. The general consensus was that we would “walk the league” and be back where we belonged in no time at all. After bringing in a new squad of players – and considerably lightening Dr Xia’s wallet in the process – our expectations were mercilessly crushed by teams that we had been foolish enough to underestimate; we were left languishing around the relegation zone after three months of football. Naturally, the manager was sacked and our chances look good once again under Steve Bruce – but we’ve got to be wary of making mistakes this time.
Over the next few days, we’re going to be taking a look at our closest rivals in attempting to gain promotion this season. Today, it’s Middlesbrough.
Manager: Gary Monk
The former Swansea City and Leeds United manager is held in very high regard in English football. After taking over the Swansea City reigns from Michael Laudrup, Monk established the Welsh club as a Premier League force before being sacked in 2015 after a poor run of results. However, he was soon back in management, taking the Leeds hot-seat just over a year ago, and almost guiding them to promotion from the Championship for the first time in over a decade.
0 – 0 v Oxford United (a)
0-2 v Chesterfield (a)
2-2 v Mansfield (a)
2-0 v Rochdale (a)
2-1 v Augsberg (h)
Middlesbrough have so far signed Ashley Fletcher from West Ham, Darren Randolph from West Ham, Britt Assombalonga from Nottingham Forest, George Miller from Bury, Connor Roberts from Swansea and Martin Braithwaite from Toulouse, while selling just the one player – James Husband to Norwich. Not a great deal is known about these new signings and how they will perform in this league, so this could prove to be a shrewd move from Garry Monk and the Middlesbrough board.
Middlesbrough have performed poorly in pre-season; no question about it. But they have signed some fantastic players, have appointed a terrific new manager and will have fond memories of winning this league just 15 months ago. They are going to be very difficult to stop this season.
Coming tomorrow: The run down on Norwich City – could they be about to shock the league by springing a huge surprise?