You won’t be hearing much of Middlesbrough on Tales from the Top Flight next season as Boro won’t be in the top flight. A defeat away at Hull has almost consigned Middlesbrough to an immediate return to the Championship. So unless they let me start ‘Tales from the second flight’ (not a bad idea thinking about it) I’ll have to find something else to rant about next season.
The 4-2 away loss to Hull put the nail in the coffin in what has been an abject season for the club. We always knew it was going to be a tough season but to be 8 points adrift with 8 games to go is a gap that’s almost unassailable given that Boro have only won 4 games this season. So just what has gone wrong at the Riverside this season?
Firstly, the January transfer window was nothing short of a disaster. It was blatantly obvious that Boro needed some more creativity from midfield, yet all we did was remove our backup strikers and buy a defensive midfielder. Steve Gibson is often lauded as the best chairman in the country, and often rightly so, but he and the team conducting the transfers have a lot to answer for this season. It’s been a huge failure.
Then there’s the management. While I respect Aitor Karanka for what he achieved during his tenure it was time for him to go. We were far too defensive and couldn’t win games that way. Plus he’d alienated the whole dressing room. But that’s not the outrage here. The outrage is replacing him with Steve Agnew, who was already the assistant manager, but has no experience of management in the top flight and represents no real change. Not bringing in an actual manager to salvage the season is a horrendous error.
The players of course have to shoulder a big chunk of the blame. Antonio Barragan has made about 8 foul throws this season, which for a Premier League footballer is nothing short of embarrassing. Players such as Gaston Ramirez and Stewart Downing have decided to have strops for decent chunks of the season, while some players who do play with passion, such as Leadbitter and Stuani, simply aren’t good enough for this level. It’s so disappointing to see a group of players underperform so dramatically. We can only hope for an exciting Championship promotion season next year.