If ever a moment defined the problems ‘Boro have faced throughout this most disappointing season it was when midfielder Marten De Roon was injured against Bournemouth and replaced by full back Fabio in a match we simply had to win.
It was bad enough that we started the game with three centre halves and only one striker but being one nil down after just two minutes, being a man down after twenty and then rearranging the team formation into three centre halves, three fullbacks, two defensive midfielders and just one up front when we needed at least three goals suggested the game had already been handed to Bournemouth.
As nice a man as he is, it is difficult to imagine that Steve Agnew could possibly be entrusted with the task of getting us back up next season from what we have already found is the most difficult league in football.
With a record of just 2 points from the possible 24 in which he has been at the helm it’s difficult to see how he could make improvements. After all, he’s been coaching the team all season so he also has to take some of the blame for what went on before he took over.
There has been an awful lot said about Aitor Karanka’s lack of adventure in his preferred formation but the problems that have faced ‘Boro this season have gone much deeper.
His purchases left a lot to be desired with the most baffling – whether he was behind it or not – the six million spent on Patrick Bamford. Equally as bad was the money paid for the hugely underperforming Viktor Fischer, the massive amount spent on De Roon – who simply hasn’t been up to it – and the sums given for Barragan, Bernado and Gestede – none of whom were holding down a first team place at the time.
Add to that the poor performances of Gaston Ramirez in the last three months and It’s quite easy to see why we haven’t been able to compete in the Premier League.
The one shining light in a dreadful season has been the backing of the fans. Supporting the club through poor, bad and worse, they have never given up, even when Karanka berated them against West Ham for asking for a bit more attacking play. Their performance at least, this season, deserved an awful lot more than they got!
So where on earth do we go from here? Steve Gibson has yet another big task to find a manager who can take us on again.
The way this season has played out since December would suggest that unless someone comes in with fresh ideas, an attacking mindset and both knowledge and experience of the Championship the idea that as a team that has just been demoted we’ll be fighting at the top end of the league next season is almost laughable.
Perhaps the most worrying thing is the perception that Middlesbrough is a little town in the freezing cold North East that offers none of the glamour of the bigger cities, so would only really attract people who haven’t made it anywhere else.
So, over to you, Mr Gibson. We wait with baited breath….