As we head towards the middle of the pack it’s Middlesbrough under the magnifying glass
THEY SAY it takes a manager four transfer windows to get a squad in place which he can rightfully call his own. This is Tony Mowbray’s fourth transfer window in charge of Middlesbrough and the former ‘Boro icon will certainly be looking to kick on to a serious promotion tilt this season as he heads toward his second anniversary at the club.
The 2011/12 season was a case of ‘close, but no cigar’ for the Teesside outfit who finished in 7th, an agonizing five points adrift of a Play-Off spot.
Once again Mowbray has had to re-shape the squad with eight players – and some senior pro’s amongst them – moving onto pastures new. The likes of Matthew Bates and Barry Robson in particular, both big losses.
Strengths: Good squad depth.
Outside of the first XI, ‘Mogga’ will enjoy the luxury of being able to call on any number of talented development players such as Cameron Park, Luke Williams or Richard Smallwood. There are several players for each position and over the course of a 46 game season, that’s crucial.
Weakness’: ‘Boro struggled to score goals last season. Striker Lukas Jutkiewicz scarcely helped, managing just two in 19 following a January transfer. Mowbray is yet to add a forward after releasing Bart Ogbeche.
Best business so far: Signing ex-Boro man Jonathan Woodgate on a free.
Released by Stoke City at the end of the season, the former Leeds, Newcastle, ‘Boro, Real Madrid, Spurs and Stoke centre-half adds genuine quality at the back. How many game the 32 year-old will manage remains to be seen however. A classy performer.
Star man: Marvin Emnes.
The tricky Dutch forward saw his Middlesbrough career revived by Mowbray, some two years after Gareth Southgate first signed him from Sparta Rotterdam.
Pacey, direct and comfortable with the ball glued to his toes, the 24 year-old top-scored for Boro last term with 18 in all competitions.
In: Grant Leadbitter, Stuart Parnaby, Christian Burgess, Jonathan Woodgate, Jorge Emmanuel Ledesma (all free transfers), George Friend (Doncaster Rovers) undisc & Mustapha Carayol (Bristol Rovers) undisc.
Out: Barry Robson (Vancouver Whitecaps) free, Jonathan Franks (Hartlepool Utd) free, Jonathan Grounds (Oldham Athletic) free, Tony McMahon (Sheffield Utd) free, Danny Coyne, Matthew Bates, Bart Ogbeche & Malaury Martin (all released).
wfc123: A lack of goals has yet to be addressed, otherwise you would have to say this a decent squad packed with potential diamonds in the rough. I doubt it will be enough for the Play-Off’s. 10th/11th.
chrisgwfc: Lost their key plaers in Barry Robson in the summer and replace with Leadbitter and Ledesma. Think they will still struggle to score the goals to really push on for promotion.