Here come the Clarets
Only 4 points separated Burnley and Boro at the end of the Championship race last season, with Boro enjoying a marginally better home record, only conceding 8 goals in 16 games at the Riverside.
In our last meeting at home against Sean Dyche's side we were victorious as Emilio Nsue grabbed a 54th minute winner, so what has changed in the 16 months to enable Burnely to kick on whilst we have been left floundering near the foot of the Premier League table?
In football you become accustomed to change, one minute you are singing "Ain't nobody, like Ensue" from the stands, and by the time you've realised the lyrics are based on a song by Chaka Khan and have learnt the words off by heart you find out it's all been a waste of time as the player has been sold on to another club.
As a child you must learn this lesson quickly, it's been like a kiss of death this season that no sooner than one of my offspring states they have a new favourite player you hear a rumour that he's soon to be moved on.
First it was Adomah, dear lovely Albert, one can't help but feel we should have stuck with his inconsistency this season if it meant he would pop up with the odd goal or two.
And who can forget his greatest assist of all time, using both eyebrows to knock-down Clayton's shot into the path of Forshaw for him to score the late winner versus Reading last season.
Anyone remember who scored our other goal that day? You Khant? You really Chaka Khant? Yep, it was Emilio Ensue. And what about the goalscorer in our 1-1 away draw against Burnley last season? The one and only Jordan Rhodes, another player who has since been moved on from the club.
I could literally count the days on one finger between my youngest boy getting his new favourite 'Gaston' emblazoned on his away shirt for his birthday and Ramirez popping in his transfer request. You couldn't make it up.
Over in Lankarshire you can't help notice that not too much has changed in those 16 months since our 1-0 home win. The club got 10% more attractive for a period of time, and then Joey Barton returned from his short spell at Rangers.
For all his footballing ability, Joey Barton is one player I would never want to see at the Riverside, even if he's playing for the opposition. What is it they say, 'no redeeming features'?
Anyway, I digress, the point I'm trying to make is looking at Burnley's stability raises the question of has there been too much change at the Boro since our promotion?
One can't help feel Adomah, Nsue and Rhodes weren't really given a chance to prove themselves in the top flight. Ditto Nugent. And oh how I would have loved to have seen Dimi pull on his number one shirt in the Premier League this season.
Yes it's important to strengthen the team, and we certainly didn't do enough of that in the January window, but perhaps the lesson here is we could have done a better job at giving existing personnel a chance, whilst bedding in the new blood.
Perhaps that's something we can learn from as a club if we are relegated this season, it's important to maintain the core of the club and try to keep hold of our best players.
- Is Britt Assombalonga’s time at Middlesbrough coming to an end?
- Lewis Wing’s future at Middlesbrough uncertain
But we have a home fixture against Burnley to think about first, and let's hope we can continue our most recent scoring form whilst returning to last seasons defensive stability. We all need something to cheer about right now.
And if you are willing to take a small piece of advice it would be to never, ever, tell anyone who your favourite player is, just in case....