The Rise Of The Boro (The Story Of An Italian In The North East)


Welcome to my brand new save with Middlesbrough FC a club based arguably in North Yorkshire or Teeside  England. So why Middlesbrough? Here is an introduction to the save, after reading @FM_Laudrup fantastic blog about Glasgow Rangers I was inspired so much so that I wanted to manage somewere in the North of England or Scotland. I also wanted to takeover a club with an infrastructure that over time will allow me to build a youth academy in the North of England that will mirror the likes of Sporting Club in Portugal who are renowned for their development of technical players  and be competitive in the Premier League, but first I need to get to work on getting the club out of the Championship.

So a bit of background before we get in to the nitty-gritty, who is the new manager of Middlesbrough? My name is Michel Herrera Conti I am a born Italian from Milano who as been working behind the scenes at Internazionale in the youth academy. I am a student of the beautiful game and take a very deep interest in the tactical side of the game. I am very keen on youth development and giving youngsters a chance in the 1st team so you can expect plenty of youth development in this save.


Owner Steve Gibson as taken the brave desicion to appoint me an unknown manager and only the second non British manager after Aitor Karanka to take the reigns. Now Mr Gibson and the board expect us to finish in the playoff positions this season but myself and the players after the team meeting are looking at the promotion places. I feel the squad is good enough to make a quick return to the Premier League. The club have around £23m in the bank with £5m made available for transfers and a wage budget of £639,000 of which we are spending £588,000.  Promotion back to the Premier League is the priority without any doubt.

The club facilities are in good shape and with more investment we can have a top quality environment for our development program. An area that I am looking at improving as soon as possible along with the backroom staff but this will be a gradual process. I have already drawn up a list of staff members that I would like to add to my staff.

Smoggers 4-3-3 

The style of play that I am going to implement will be based on the following principles:

  • Play out from the back
  • Shorter passing
  • Play with width (play wider)
  • Close down more
  • Use tighter marking
  • Exploit the middle


The above graphic shows our first XI in the roles that I have chosen for the system that we will be using from the off. The roles are not set in stone because I like to tweak the roles to give the side a different dimension that allows us to use players individual  strengths within the framework of our system.

I plan to release a more detailed post about the Smoggers 433 once I have got it working how I want it too, so look out for that in the near future.


Looking at the squad I am really pleased with the quality that I have at my disposal. In the goalkeeping department my first choice is 30 year old Darren Randolph who is contracted to us until 2021.  Thirty eight year old Dimitris Konsatantopoulos is one of two back up keepers who is in the last year of his contract with the other being the Spanish stopper 28 year old Tomás Mejías who again is in his last year of his contract. Looking behond the 1st team 19 year old Aynsley Pears looks to be the pick of the bunch coming through our youth ranks. Moving on to the Defence and the right full back position 28 year old Ryan Shotton gets the nod just in front of the versatile Brazilian Fabio who at 26 is both adept at playing in both the right and left back positions, Fabio is in the last year of his contract and will be a useful asset to us this season. The left back slot will be occupied by fans favourite George Friend the 29 year old is contracted to us until 2020, Fabio and Marvin Johnson will cover the left back slot. Our central defence will be marshalled by 26 year old Daniel Ayala who is contracted to us until 2020, the 6ft 3in defender seems to have been around the game for years and will be a major player for us alongside our other first choice centre back Ben Gibson who came through the academy here, the 24 year old is contracted until 2022. Our back up centre backs are 30 year old Martin Cranie who bolsters our backline with 19 year old youngster Dael Fry who looks to have the potential to push for a starting place in the near future, the youngster is another product of the Boro academy who’s contracted to us until 2021. This brings us on to the midfield were we have a good range of versatility when it comes to the roles and first up is former Manchester City academy born Adam Clayton who is contracted until 2021, the 28 year old is a first choice pick alongside 29 year old Championship stalwart Jonny Howson and the on loan Everton midfielder Muhamed Besic who at 24 could be a potential long term target for us. The 31 year old Grant Leadbitter will provide solid competition for a midfield slot with highly rated on loan Chelsea prospect Lewis Baker who spent last season in Holland with Chelsea affiliate Vitesse. If anything I would not mind adding another face to our midfield to give us cover in all positions to allow rotation in game weeks with 2 or 3 matches. In the attacking third the right wing slot goes to Adama Traore the explosive 21 year old provides a direct dimension to our attack, he is currently contracted to us until 2020. Covering Traore on the right wing is Chelsea loanee Jack Harrison however Patrick Bamford is an option who can play in a number of varying roles from the right hand side. Out on the left wing we have Stewart Downing who gives the side a nice balance in a left wing support role, the 32 year old is contracted to us until 2019 and can play a big role in both the dressing room and training ground with his experience. Backing Downing up is 26 year old Marvin Johnson who is adept at playing a number of roles down the left flank, Johnson is contracted until 2020. Leading the front line I have 24 year old Britt Assombalonga the clubs record transfer deal, the frontman offers us a clinical goalscoring option, he is contracted until 2021 and backed up by both Rudy Gestede and Patrick Bamford who both offer something different up top.


With the retirement of assistant manager David Kemp I decided to bring in fellow Italian Pierluigi Casiraghi to be my new assistant manager, I had toyed with the idea of bringing Ajax man Dennis Bergkamp to the club but felt Casiraghi offers me a lot more at the present time. I also brought in both Phil Cannon and Derick Langley to join our scouting team.

On the player side of things I decided to add Leeds United midfielder Ronaldo Vieira to our squad on a season long loan. The promising 19 year old will give us that bit more depth in the centre of the park.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog page and I hope you will return to see how the Boro get on in my first season in England.


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