It would take a brave man or a disturbed man to say that Middlesbrough are going to be back in the premier league next season.
Its the first time in years that I have not been overly excited going into the new campaign. With Boyd,Digard, Taylor, Davies, Litre, Flood, Mido and possibly Arca all following Wheater , Gary Oneil through the Riverside trapdoor, our squad is paper thin, as is our finances. We have signed three players over the summer, Malaury Martin an unknown midfielder, Carl Ikeme on loan as goal keeper and Curtis Main from Darlington on a free. Its amazing to think that Portsmouth who have been in administration recently have signed more players than us. What does that tell you?
There is no doubting my old team mate Mogga has got a massive job on his hands. Last season he steadied a ship that was sinking under Strachan. We all know the financial situation makes the managers job harder and if I was a player in the dressing room it would peeve me off that our best players have departed and are not replaced.
Look at some of the teams we are up against this season, Leicester City, Sven Goran Erricson has signed something like nine players and spent a few quid. West Ham made the signing of the summer at this level persuading Kevin Nolan to join them and drop out of the premier league. Forest have brought in the ex Boro boss Steve McLaren, he has had money at his disposal and spent it wisely. Of course having money doesn’t guarantee success, last season we spent five million, were the biggest spenders in the division, bookies favorites and it backfired badly.I would class success as finishing in the top ten this season.
Manager Tony Mowbray has kept the guys at the top happy by reducing the wage bill, he has done other peoples dirty work if you like but Mogga like all managers will be judged by results, not by the money he has brought in, as I have said over the years,its always the managers head that is on the block, not the guys at the top who make the major decisions and call the shots.
My biggest concern about this coming season is not having a big squad, because over the duration of the campaign we will inevitably get injuries, loss of form, suspensions and may be one or two more exits and that certainly makes life more difficult.
But its not all doom and gloom we have managed to hold onto Williams and Bennett who have both come under scrutiny from envious eyes, those two along with McManus, Bailey,Zemmama, Macdonald, Bates and Thompson when fit are certainly good enough at this level. I am still not convinced about the goal keepers, despite us having four, Coyne, Ripley, Stelle and Ikeme, we have no permanent right back as yet, right wing has been a joke position for over fifteen years, ans since Johnson and Downings departures the left wing has a massive whole and is also now a problem position, up front Emnes is good on the eye but not prolific and Miller I personally cant believe he is still here.
Lets hope youngsters like Smallwood, Cameron Park and Johnathon Franks can blossom under Moggas guidance and stamp their authority in the championship.
If we can get off to a good start you never know what can be achieved in football?