The Championship 2011/2012 Season Preview – Middlesbrough

Club Name:  Middlesbrough

Last season in brief:  Pre-season expectations were very high, we had two of the SPL’s top goal scorers in modern history in Boyd & McDonald and on paper looked like a very good hard working team and of course all of this under the guidance of the ‘wee ginger man’ Strachan.

The bookies fancied us, the wee man had been given the customary financial backing by the ever reliant Steve Gibson. What could go wrong?

Strachan had invested in players from a league that was to be fair, no better than league one standard. They didn’t gel, we got some unlucky injuries i.e. Willo Flood on the first day of the season and Strachan was persistent in attempting to make ‘his’ players and system work some times to the detriment of our own promising younger players, a good example of this would be young Joe Bennett who he nearly destroyed when subbing him when he’d came on as sub then farming him out loan.

So left flirting with relegation and facing a real possibility that it could happen, Strachan did the decent thing and admitted defeat walking away without a severance package from the club.

Once the fans had heard that ‘mogga’ Tony Mowbray was in the frame to take over, there was no going back. Mogga was and is a cult icon hero amongst theAyresomeParkregulars during the 80’s.

So in came Mowbray who tried to influence his footballing style on a rigid and poor performing team. In short, Mowbray did bring stability and at times fans could see the attacking football that he is has promised.

He wasn’t afraid to blood the youngsters once relegation was avoided, with young academy products such as Joe Bennett catching the eye and showing promise for the future.

2010/2011 Final Finish: 12th

Who’s New: Malaury Martin 22 year old French midfielder on the books atBlackpool, however injury put pay to any impact, capped at every level Martin could be a real interesting addition.

Curtis Main, released byDarlington, Mowbray offered the 20 year old striker a trial and was impressed enough to offer him a contract.

Who’s Out: Boyd to a Turkish league team I’m not even going to attempt to spell- Free.

Finally Digard has got his permanent move to Nice-Nominal Fee.

Andrew Taylor to Cardiff- Free

Who to Watch: Young Joe Bennett, after being shot on the proverbial football scrapheap by the ‘ginger’ one, ‘Mogga’ came in and rejuvenated the player who in turn repaid the faith showed in him to put in some classy performances which in turn attracted the attention of a number of premier league clubs.

Merouane Zemmama he maybe no Juninho, but hopefully this season he can wave his magical wand and conjure us up much needed victories. I suspect that if fit, most of the play will be coming through this little Moroccan.

Who’s going up: It’s hard to look past Leicester & West Ham really, though I think McClaren will be there or there abouts with Forest. But I think I’ll plumb for Leicester.

Who’s going down: Peterborough, Doncaster and Bristol City.  For no particular reason but to just pick 3 teams I feel will struggle.

Where will you finish: Heart: 2nd, Head: 10th. If we are pushing for a playoff space come late May, I and many other Boro fans will be delighted.