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Is now the time for Boro promotion?
- Date: 22 Dec 2011
When Middlesbrough were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2008-09 season, few expected them to stay down long.
With one of the finest academies in the country producing some of the brightest talent in the game, and memories of having reached the 2006 UEFA Cup
final under Steve McClaren, it almost seemed a joke amongst mobile poker
pundits that they should suddenly be plying their trade in the second tier of English football.
Admittedly their manager at the
time, Gareth Southgate was not one of the most experienced in the game, but with the plethora of talent and top flight experience at their disposal,
it seemed that their sabbatical from Premiership football would last no more than one season.
Chairman Steve Gibson decided to stick with
Southgate at the start of their first season back in the second tier, despite calls from many of the fans for him to be axed following the club's
relegation the season before.
And it looked as though his faith would be rewarded, as in the early stages of the campaign, the club looked to
be adapting well to life in the Championship.
But then suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, Southgate was gone. For some reason, the board had
decided enough was enough, despite the club sitting comfortably in fourth place in the table. They had other ideas though, and soon after, Gordon
Strachan was appointed manager.
Under his guidance, the club plummeted from promotion favourites to mid-table also rans – but he did have
the excuse that none of the players were his own, and that next season he would turn them into the promotion team everyone had been
That looked likely too, after a summer of spending. It seemed that most of the SPL's talent had been shipped into Middlesbrough,
while some of the under-performing players were sent packing. It was a huge shock, then, when Boro lost their opening game 3-0 to Ipswich.Strachan eventually tendered his resignation as manager
, and Tony Mowbray was duly appointed. Mowbray had experience of
promotion, having taken West Bromwich Albion up just a few seasons before hand – and he did it in style.
This season, he appears to have
got Middlesbrough playing in a similar way. They goals don't stop coming, while the defence has become the stingiest in the division, leaking just 19
So will they be able to finally get the promotion that is so long overdue? Well, who knows, but the half term report looks good.
They sit third in the table, and within touching distance of the summit. If they can build on their early performances during the second half
of the campaign, perhaps we could be seeing them re-united with the North-East rivals Sunderland and Newcastle in the Premier League.
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