Middlesbrough fail to fire
Middlesbrough fans are a plucky bunch and have put up with a lot in recent years. Relegation from the Premier League in the 2008/09 season was a blow and although their failure to win promotion at their first attempt wasn't ideal, hopes were high that a new look side would dominate the Championship this season.
The number of high profile signings made by Gordon Strachan made the team pre-season favourites to win this year's Championship. Kevin Thompson and Kris Boyd joined from Rangers, and Estonian forward Tarmo Kink and Charlton's Nicky Bailey were also brought in as Strachan looked to build a squad capable of achieving promotion back to the Premier League at the second time of asking, something the Betfair specialists tipped them to do.
The most exciting signing was that of Scottish striker Boyd. The 27-year-old left Scotland as the SPL's all time leading scorer and joined Boro on a free transfer. He has hardly set this division on fire, scoring only once so far this season. He hasn't been the only one not to perform and the club lie in 20th after gaining just four points from their opening five games.
Many people made Middlesbrough betting tips for promotion this season, but the much changed side simply hasn't gelled as Strachan would have hoped. The manager hasn't been helped by the number of injuries sustained already in the season. Willo Flood sustained a serious knee injury in the club's opening game of the season and will be out for much of this campaign and winger Thompson fractured his fibula in Boro's third game of the season, although the 25-year-old may return to action in just two or three weeks.
The biggest loss this season has been Gary O'Neill who has played only once this campaign because of a troublesome knee injury. If Boro are to have any chance of climbing the table and achieving their goal of promotion this season then O'Neill will be an integral part to any success.
When Strachan gets a few of his big players back from injury then Boro should still have enough ability in their squad to challenge this season. They can't afford to let the gap between themselves and the front runners widen much further though.