Kei Kamara - Gone but not forgotten
There won't be a huge number of Boro fans who'll be bitterly regretting the departure of 30-year old striker Kei Kamara.
Four goals from 25 appearances isn't a massive return for someone who cost almost £1 million, whichever way you look at it, and the players that have been brought in ought really to make the club's prospects for this season look a little brighter. Those who fancy a punt can keep their eye on the betfair odds for upcoming matches and the season as a whole, so here we'll look at why Kamara left and who we've got to replace him.
Kamara's career began a decade ago after his family arrived in the US as refugees from the conflict in Sierra Leone. It started with a bang as he scored 16 times in 19 games for Orange County Blue Star, a fourth-tier Californian side that's still less than 20 years old. After stints at various MLS sides including several successful seasons with Sporting Kansas City, he was loaned out to Norwich City in 2013. Though popular with Canaries fans, he failed to make a huge impact, scoring just once in 11 games. A flurry (relatively speaking) of goals on arriving at Middlesbrough a year ago promised much, but the one he scored against Doncaster in late October was to be his last.
The final straw, contract-wise, appears to have been his tweet in June in which he criticised MFC for "doing nothing" when he contracted malaria; this didn't go down too well as he was in Kansas at the time. It would be a hard-hearted fan who didn't have some respect for Kamara though; his mother managed to get out of Sierra Leone in 1990, and Kei, her only child, had to wait 10 years while she tried to get him onto a refugee programme. To go from being a child in a war zone to a professional sportsman is not something everyone could manage.
So now the question for Boro fans is - what are our prospects with the new signings? Belgian international striker Jelle Vossen has scored over 100 goals for Genk as well as a couple for the national team, and arrives on a season-long loan; if he does well here he may end up a permanent fixture. However, it's 20-year old Patrick Bamford, on loan from Chelsea until January, who has perhaps most excited fans, having scored almost every other game while on loan to MK Dons and Derby.
The bookies currently have Boro to top the Championship table at about 20/1, and a place in the playoffs is priced around 3/1. One thing seems certain; if Vossen and Bamford can build on their goalscoring records, those odds are likely to shorten.