This has not been an easy year for Middlesbrough – certainly not as easy as many predicted when they were cited as title favourites before the season started. Having won just 13 of their 46 games under Gordon Strachan, and with Steve Agnew losing his first game in charge this week, the club are currently 21st in the table after 12 games. They have yet to win away, have a negative goal difference and, perhaps most alarmingly, crowds at the Riverside are falling sharply.
Although Boro fans have endured a difficult time of things following their return to the Championship, they should be wary of sitting back and accepting that this is the level they should expect from their team.
At this point of the season it was widely expected Middlesbrough would be leading the Championship and Kris Boyd would have a handful of goals to his name. This hasn't happened and Boro fans have had every reason to be a little concerned about the state of things at the Riverside.
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.
Following their defeat in the Carling Cup and an indifferent start to their Championship season, Middlesbrough fans are already beginning to fear that this term will be another that fails to see them gain promotion back to the big time.
Steve Gibson’s decision to cast Gareth Southgate aside and bring Gordon Strachan into the Riverside hot seat while Boro were sitting just a point off the Championship’s top spot may have seemed strange to the neutrals, but it could prove to be a master-stroke in the long run.