If you ever look at the odds before the season starts as to who is always favourites for relegation, you wouldn’t be wrong if you said the newly promoted are always up there.
But not this season.
Led by the ambitious Aitor Karanka, Middlesbrough have been tipped as the potential surprise package this season. Whether they can do what the likes of Leicester have done is yet to be seen, but Boro have really spent in the transfer window and it seems like they wholeheartedly believe they can not just stay in the division, but compete in it too.
Boro’s ambitious summer transfer activity has been epitomised by one signing in particular though, and that is former Real Madrid and Manchester City striker, Alvaro Negredo.
Often lambasted by City fans, the statistics tell an entirely different story as to the success he actually had in England. 23 goals in his only campaign on English soil isn’t bad at all and there would be little surprise if Negredo felt a little sore after he was let go after just one year.
But after two tricky years at Valencia, it is time for the powerful centre-forward to kick on again, this time in a whole different environment to those he may have played in before.
Negredo will be one of, if not the biggest players in Boro’s squad this season coming. A lot is always made of newly promoted sides’ abilities to keep the goals conceded to a minimum but scoring goals can always be as much of a problem. In Negredo, Boro have an out-and-out striker who has scored goals throughout his career, at whichever level he has competed at.
He seems a perfect option for the 4-2-3-1 system that Karanka deployed on so many occasions last season and you’d be hard pushed to argue that either Jordan Rhodes or David Nugent could do a better job.
Negredo brings a bullish aggression and a real ability to hold the ball up. Couple that with the signing of Gaston Ramirez, who has now joined on a permanent deal, and you could have one of the most quietly powerful attacking lineups in the League.
And as aforementioned, add to Negredo the tireless work ethic of David Nugent and the finesse that Jordan Rhodes can display- it’s difficult to see Boro not being able to score goals.
Infact, the hard work looks like it may come at the other end of the pitch but as always, if you can score more goals than your opponents then you will seemingly be okay.
There is little doubt that Negredo will add another dimension to Boro’s front-line that perhaps fans at the Riverside haven’t seen before. If they can get him firing and most importantly, enjoying his football, Boro will have a striker who is as close to an all rounder as is humanely possible.