oneBoro take a look at the job in hand for Middlesbrough next season and just where they might need to strengthen on their return to the Premier League.
Middlesbrough’s promotion on the last day of the season has seen Teesside enjoy its finest summer in many years. But with the new Premier League fixtures being announced next week the size of the task being faced is becoming a lot more real.
Aitor Karanka’s men were massively consistent last season with a real solidarity in the set-up and personnel, but what impact will this summer’s dealings have on the club’s fortunes against the big-boys?
No doubt the early signing of the previously-dubbed wonderkid Viktor Fischer has brought real excitement to the club, with one key area for development being in the attacking third- especially with fans calling out for an increase in pace and power on the attack.
With this in mind, one player who would be greatly received would be the signing of Gaston Ramirez. After an outstanding second half to the season, the previously forgotten man has seen his stock rise significantly in the close season and this has seen his advisors playing hardball to ensure the best deal for the classy No. 10. This has seen Steve Gibson and the Middlesbrough hierarchy pull out of negotiations after admirably taking a stand against being taken for a ride during negotiations. Whether negotiations will restart remains to be seen, however Middlesbrough fans will be hoping a deal can be done for a player whose quality can be spotted a mile off.
Another potential area for development is in defence. Despite having a solid first-choice back four for the majority of the season the club has seen its cover diminish with the release of Rhys Williams, Jonathan Woodgate and Damia, as well as the loan spells of Richie De Laet and Tomas Kalas coming to an end. This only leaves the likes of youngster Dael Fry as back-up, meaning it is likely to be an area in need of strengthening.
Meanwhile, one element definitely missing from the side is proven Premier League experience. Bar the likes of Stewart Downing and David Nugent, it is a noticeable deficiency in the team with many players having never played above Championship level. Despite the current players earning the right to prove themselves in the top flight, the experience which a proven Premier League player could bring to an up-and-coming squad could prove to be priceless in what will no doubt be a difficult season.
Adam Reach, James Husband and Adam Forshaw will be looking to make an impact this season. Reach and Husband had outstanding loan spells at Preston and Huddersfield respectively and were unfortunate to not get a chance in the team due to the outstanding form of the likes of Ramirez and George Friend at left-back. Forshaw is another player who has been hugely unlucky being in competition with the unstoppable partnership of skipper Grant Leadbitter and Middlesbrough’s player-of-the-season Adam Clayton. He is no doubt a hugely talented player who has a slightly more offensive approach to his play and would certainly not be out of his depth in the starting XI.
Teesside is certainly an exciting place to be this summer and with the Premier League season just over two months away, the debate is still wide open on where Middlesbrough’s focus should be.
Boro fans – where do you think Middlesbrough need to strengthen? Do we need a new keeper as competition for Dimi? Are we strong enough going forward? Or is getting cover in defence more important? Let us know your thoughts.
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