Middlesbrough have been stuck in mediocrity since their relegation from the Premier League in 2017, but since the appointment of former Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder in November last year, things are looking up for the Teesside based team.
Wilder joined the side in the midst of a relegation scrap and ended up losing out on the playoffs in the final game of the season. Now with his first full summer transfer window well under way. He’s looking to make the changes needed to make the push for promotion back to the Premier League.
Wilder’s priority this summer was clear, a new goalkeeper was needed desperately. Joe Lumley was Middlesbrough’s number one last season, but after an atrocious season, the 27 year old was loaned out to Reading as soon as the transfer window opened. His replacement is CONCACAF Gold Cup winner Zack Steffen, who has joined on a season long loan from Manchester City. A brilliant shot stopper who has the potential to be one of the best ‘keepers in the Championship is a brilliant piece of the puzzle.
Middlesbrough’s main issue towards the end of last season was balance. They found a young star in their squad with Isaiah Jones quickly making his mark as one of the best right wing backs in the Championship. But after a very impressive start to the season, a lot of the attack flowed through him. Teams worked this out quickly, and the left side was very weak in comparison, this has been quickly sorted in this transfer window with Middlesbrough bringing in Ryan Giles, arguably the best left wing back in the Championship last season, on loan from Wolves. Now with the perfect balance on either side, Boro will be creating chances left, right and centre.
Boro have also brought in experienced Championship centre back Darragh Lenihan on a free transfer from Blackburn to fill a much needed gap in the defence. One underrated bit of business from Wilder’s side was selling their backup right back, Djed Spence, to Tottenham for £12m and replacing him with Tommy Smith, a quality, ex Premier League starting right back on a free transfer from Stoke.
With midfielder Marcus Tavernier departing for Bournemouth for £10m, Middlesbrough have plenty of money to spend on upgrades still, but with time winding down before the start of the season, it may be a slow start for the Teessiders.
The main issue with Middlesbrough is their strikers, or lack of strikers let’s say. It’s all good creating chances but with Duncan Watmore and Josh Coburn as the main attacking options, it’s not going to come to very much. However this could change before Saturday’s opening game against West Brom, with not one, not two, but three new strikers possibly arriving into Teesside. Rodrigo Muniz, Marcus Forss and Matthew Hoppe are all reportedly expected to join Middlesbrough from Fulham, Brentford and Mallorca respectively, with the latter two being permanent deals. Three talented strikers who can all bring in plenty of goals between them.
If Middlesbrough can bring in those three strikers, another creative midfielder to replace Tavernier and some defensive depth, the team has the potential to fight for automatic promotion, especially with the Championship being as open as ever this season.