Monday, June 23, 2008

The off-season: Middlesbrough

The Boro are a strange team. They are too good to be relegated but don't have the quality to challenge higher up the table. Most fans will be hoping they can get some pot luck in the cup competitions because that is the only way they will get success.

GK: Brad Jones, Ross Turnbull

Southgate has made a good decision in trusting the remaining keepers after Schwarzer left for Fulham. Both Jones and Turnbull both have sufficient quality and experience to excel as a No. 1. If both don't fulfill expectations during pre-season, Southgate can always recruit another goalkeeper (which will be expensive).

RB: Luke Young, Anthony McMahon

I've included McMahon since he made an impact on the team a few years ago. However injuries have left on the sidelines for the past two seasons and the team will be hoping he can recapture that form and provide suitable back-up for Young.

LB: Emanuel Pogatetz, Andrew Taylor

With Taylor coming through the ranks, Southgate had to slide Pogatetz into central defence to accomadte the emerging left-back. Jonathan Grounds is also making an impact.

CB: Robert Huth, Chris Riggott, David Wheater, Matthew Bates, Seb Hines

Boro have enough good players in this department but they do lack experience. They were also hindered by injuries, especially to Huth and Bates. I don't think Southgate will recruit any more centre-backs but he must keep everyone fit.

WG: Gary O'Neil, Stewart Downing, Adam Johnson

With the threat of Downing and Johnson leaving, Southgate will definitely ponder bringing in some attacking players over the summer. Unfortunately funds will be tight and he will be forced to use them wisely. No big names have been linked so it might a unknown entity heading towards the Riverside. Southgate will also consider bringing Aliadere or Tuncay on to the right flank.

CM: George Boateng, Julio Arca, Mohamed Shawky, Lee Cattermole

Another area where Southgate will consider reinforcing where Boateng has considered leaving. Southgate needs to bring a midfield enforcer to help protect his young backline.

FW: Mido, Jeremie Aliadere, Tuncay Sanli, Alfonso Alves

I'm sure Southgate will allow Alves more time to settle in at the Riverside, so I don't think he'll reinforce during the summer. In the winter he may consider dipping into the transfer market if none of the strikers are firing.


In: Winger x 1, Central Midfielder x 1
Out: Riggott, Boateng (Downing, Johnson)

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