Boro ended on a high
What a rollercoaster of a season it has been for Middlesbrough fans. The optimism of last summer’s spending spree soon turned to despair, as Gordon Strachan’s managerial reign turned into an expensive train wreck. The team looked disjointed and the players often looked confused and disorientated as the side slipped into the mire. Strachan’s team of trusted ‘winners’, largely recruited from north of the border, failed to gel and seemed to lose the stomach for battle. The little Scotsman did the honorable thing and offered his resignation – without claiming any compensation for the remainder of his contract.
Tony Mowbray was the overwhelming fans favorite to take the hot seat and Steve Gibson wasted no time in making ‘Mogga’ his new manager. It was a hugely difficult task facing the new boss. The club seemed in disarray, with a misfiring team and no money to spend on replacements. Could Mowbray steady the ship and stop the club slipping out of the Championship?
The answer turned out to be a resounding yes! He slowly brought a sense of togetherness and team spirit back to the club and gradually got that misfiring team to start producing more resilient displays. As the season progressed, players who had looked lost under Strachan began to grow in confidence, McDonald, Arca, Bailey, Emnes, McManus. Confidence began to return and the team started to show some self belief and attacking flair. There were some painful moments along the way as the team struggled to overcome the long established habit of conceding late goals but there was no doubt that the tide was turning.
As the season drew to a close the sun began to shine again on the Riverside and it’s long suffering fans. Twelve goals scored in four successive victories saw the season end on a high note that we Boro fans could only have dreamed of during those dark winter months. Well done to the manager, full marks for his successful mission to halt the slide.
What then for the future? It seems Mowbray will not have much cash to spend in the close season and will need to get rid of a few more high earners but that need not dampen the gathering mood of optimism. The manager will look to build on Middlesbrough’s rich history of youth development while continuing to get the most out of the remaining experienced players he inherited. My dream for next season is a return to form and a 1986 style revival built on the foundations of strong management, youth development and adventurous attacking football.