Tony Mowbray’s new-look Middlesbrough side claimed their first three points of the 2012/2013 npower Championship campaign on Tuesday night.
Boro put in a spirited team performance and scored three outstanding goals to overcome Burnley by three goals to two – just days after our shock defeat to Barnsley on the opening day.
It was the first opportunity for the Riverside faithful to see Mowbray’s nine new summer signings in action, which includes a few familiar faces, but in the end it was the young guns who stole the show.
Adam Reach and Luke Williams, both 19-years-old, scored fantastic long-range efforts to seal the three points. The England youth internationals, who were part of Boro’s highly-acclaimed youth academy, scored in the 79th and 88th minutes to help Boro get off the mark for this season.
Young Chelsea starlet, Josh McEachran, put in a man of the match performance for Boro just 24 hours after completing his season-long loan switch to the North East. Last year’s rising star Curtis Main also started the game and left the field to a standing ovation as Mowbray looks to find the perfect blend of youth and experience.
Old Boro boy Jonathan Woodgate was at the heart of the defence following his shock return earlier this summer. The Middlesbrough-born defender, who played for Newcastle, Real Madrid and most recently Stoke City, lined up alongside George Friend, Grant Leadbitter and Emmanuel Ledesma, who all made impressive home debuts.
It has been the busiest summer in recent years at the Riverside with Mustapha Carayol, Christian Burgess, Jayson Leutwiler and former Boro right-back Stuart Parnaby also joining the club. The likes of Tony McMahon, Jonathan Grounds and Matthew Bates were among the seven players to leave after Mowbray deemed them superfluous.
His overhaul of the first-team squad has been centred around some of last season’s more successful aspects, when we narrowly missed out on the play-offs. New club captain Rhys Williams, Nicky Bailey, who also scored last night, and Jason Steele, who represented Team GB at the London Olympic Games, are some of the best players in the league this season and have cemented their places in Boro’s starting eleven to make up a good core structure.
Boro are not short of options up-front with Marvin Emnes and Scott McDonald still at the club, despite transfer interest, and £1.3 million signing Lukas Jutkiewicz ready for his first full season. Mowbray is also reportedly interested in signing Nottingham Forest’s Ishmael Miller, who he managed whilst at West Brom, suggesting goals will be easier to come by for Boro this time round, possibly allowing us to go that one step further.
Your guess is as good as mine as to what the final outcome will be and whether or not Boro finally clinch promotion. What you can bet on though is that this is going to be one of the closest, rollercoaster seasons since our relegation from the Premier League in 2009, and that we are better equipped and prepared for the challenge. Up the Boro.