Middlesbrough finished 5th in the Championship in the 2017/2018 season, which meant they qualified to the lucky dip which is the play-offs. Having faced Aston Villa over the two legged semi-finals, it wasn’t meant to be for Boro, losing 1-0 on aggregate which denied them promotion back to the Premier League.
However, can Boro find a way to get promotion from the Championship next season?
The possibility of that is very high. Boro were going through a bad spell under Garry Monk at the start of last season and found themselves 9th in the table in December 2017. That is when Tony Pulis was appointed as the manager replacing Monk. In the middle of the season, he became the manager and turned things around for the club guiding them to a respectable 5th place finish by the end of the season. He got the best out of Adama Traore, who has been in fine form playing under Pulis. Pulis has a reputation within the game for achieving solid results on small budgets, utilising a solid defence and using the long ball style of play. Now that he gets a summer transfer window where he has the time to buy or sell the players he desires, Middlesbrough can turn thing around to gain promotion next season.
According to the bookies, the odds for next season's Championship have Boro as fifth favourites to win the title and joint fourth favourites to go up. A summer of correct recruitment will be crucial for Boro’s chances but many online betting sites believe they will be fighting at the right end of the table come May 2019. Boro are only behind the three favourites, Stoke City, West Brom and Swansea - the three teams that were relegated from the Premier League.
In the interest of getting promoted, Pulis has to pull off an amazing transfer window and spend very wisely. There are the latest transfer speculations around the league, where in-form striker Aleksandar Mitrovic could join Boro. However, Fulham have been eyeing a move for him as well.
According to the Mirror, Tony Pulis is looking to bring in Premier League experienced defender, James Collins. This would be the perfect kind of signing for Pulis because Collins possesses a lot of experience and can thrive in the defensive set-up at the club. He will add depth to the centre-back position as Boro currently only have three main options for the role: Ben Gibson, Daniel Ayala, and Dael Fry.
It’s no secret that, Middlesbrough have been very weak in midfield. Other than Adama Traore and Steward Downing, others have been struggling very much throughout the season. Pulls should go for a midfielder who can take control of the game and create clear chances.
Tony Pulis can face problems next season if he can’t keep hold of his star players, as Traore is reportedly wanted by Aston Villa and Newcastle United. Other than Traore, Everton and Southampton are set to make a move for England U21 defender Ben Gibson. On the other hand, Ashley Fletcher, Adam Clayton and George Friend are players who Tony Pulis could off-load if they don’t prove themselves in the pre-season.