With several high-profile departures from the squad during the previous twelve months, the loss on a free of long-serving Australian international goalie Mark Schwarzer led Gareth Southgate to make a brave decision to allow his two remaining keepers to battle it out for the number one jersey.
The early season results were reasonable but Boro soon embarked on a catalogue of defeats which saw them slide down the table. Boro’s main failure appeared to be an inability to hit the net and record signing Afonso Alves spectacularly failed to live up to his own billing. With rumoured unrest in the squad and continued speculation on the future of the likes of Stewart Downing did nothing to reduce the level of tension being felt on Teesside.
The drop into the bottom three appeared only a matter of time as once there Middlesbrough did not look like a team that believed they could climb out. Whist they were not on the receiving end of a string of heavy defeats, losses by the odd goal where the odd goal was the only goal resulted in Boro being the lowest scorers in the entire football league.
Relegation was not confirmed until the final day but it had become inevitable for a while. Southgate may retain his position with the most loyal chairman in the league but whether he retains the services of Downing, Alves, and Tuncay, who came out of the season perhaps with more credit than most, is yet to be seen.
Tags: Mark Schwarzer, Gareth Southgate, Afonso Alves, Stewart Downing, Middlesbrough