We are now in season 3 (19/20) of my my time at Middlesbrough FC after winning promotion from the Championship in my first season we went on to finish 8th in the Premier League and reached the FA Cup Final in my second season at the club. So how have we done in season three? If this is your visit to my blog and you want to follow The Rise Of The Boro you can do so by clicking on the following links: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five. I hope you enjoy.
Pre-Season is always a time that I enjoy because it is when I look back at the previous season and look at what we can do better to make progress building on the last 12 months groundwork. I have mentioned before I always have my book / notes with my list of players for each position that we have scouted for the last 12 to 18 months that I feel can come in to the club and make a difference in improving our 1st team squad. Sometimes things just do not work out for example this time last year I was preparing in exactly the same way that I do year after year and identified that we needed a forward that had Premier League experience who could come in to the club and drop in to our system. I had a number of options and decided to give Danny Ings the nod and paid the £8.75m that Liverpool wanted for the forward.
Just 12 months later I have sold Ings for an initial £10m rising to £13m to our North East rivals Newcastle United were I can tell you Ings scored 15 goals this season in comparison to his 4 for us last season. Sometimes you get a player who just dont click in your system thats football. I also let goalkeeper Nick Pope leave on a free transfer to Manchester City, I could not wait to see the back of him to be honest moan,moan,moan good riddance.
Summer Transfers 2019
I decided to bring five players in to the club in the summer and two additions in the January window 1 permanent and 1 loan. The first player through the door in the summer window was left wing back Jetro Willems who cost £11.5m from German club Frankfurt. The 25 year old Dutch full back is a quality performer with over 200 league appearances in the Eredivise and the Bundesliga.
Now the next signing was on my shortlist of forwards to bring in to the club but I will admit was not my first choice but came highly recommended by Glasgow Rangers supporter and FM Manager Alan Kelly aka @FM_Laudrup who rates this player highly so ‘Enter The Buffalo’ Alfredo Morelos the 23 year old 5ft 10inch Colombian who has scored 48 goals in 74 matches in two years for Rangers. Once the work permit was permitted the £11.75m transfer was completed and Morelos is our man. (More about the Buffalo later)
Player number three to walk in to the Riverside was right back Kevin Mbabu who I have been tracking since the first month in the job at Boro. The 24 year old Swiss joins from Young Boys were he played 74 games. Mbabu was on Newcastle United’s books but only made 3 appearances before loan spells at both Glasgow Rangers and Young Boys before joining them on a permanent deal.
Our next signing 22 year old Scotish winger Oliver Burke joins from relegated West Bromwich Albion for a club record £14.5m and I think he is worth every penny. The Flying Scotsman can push Adama Traoré for that right wing position in the months ahead. I am excited to work with Burke who spent a year in the Bundesliga with RBL before signing for West Brom were he made 28 appearances. Burke is highly rated and comes from the much rated Nottingham Forest academy.
Our final summer signing is another player who I have had an eye on since taking the job at Boro. Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic joins from Dinamo for an initial £6.5m rising to £8.25m with add ons. The 24 year old stopper will be our number 1 keeper this season meaning Darren Randolph will be back up.
January Transfers 2020
I brought in two players to strengthen the squad in the January window, central defender Jesús Vallejo joined from Real Madrid after being listed. We signed him for £4.2m rising to £5.25m with add ons
I also decided to make a move for another forward due to the fact that Ashley Fletcher is just not cutting it when given the chance so I brought in Tammy Abraham on loan from Chelseas until the end of the season which proved to be a good move come the end of the season.
With the additions in to the squad I feel that we have achieved in upgrading the squad with some very good players who I believe can help us achieve our goals on Teesside. The board are happy for us to finish in the Top Half which I have agreed too, however I think we could push for a European place and see this as our priority in the season ahead.
The Season 2019-2020
A debut goal for Oliver Burke got us off to a flyer away at Manchester City were we beat our hosts 4-3 to get the season up and running. Come the end of August we had beat Manchester City and drew against both Crystal Palace and Manchester United in the league and beat Rotherham in the Carabao Cup, but the highlight of the month just had to be Alfredo Morelos performance at Old Trafford were he got his first and second goals for the club after a performance they made me raise my eyebrow. If this is the sign of things to come I will be more than happy.
September started off with a 0-1 defeat at home to Leicester followed by a 1-0 win away at Watford with a Jonny Howson free kick good enough to claim all 3 points. A 2-4 defeat at the hands of Arsenal in the Carabao Cup was the first of a double header against the gunners who we beat 4-2 in the league just 3 days after they dumped us out of the cup. We just seemed unable to get a good run going and I just could not put my finger on it, I was watching games thinking we are doing everything right and then watching games thinking is this the same team. Nevertheless we were now winning games that last season we were drawing so whilst we were losing games against Liverpool, Chelsea, Southampton, Huddersfield, West Ham, Fulham and Manchester City in the first half of the season we were beating Burnley, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Everton, Newcastle and Tottenham which incidentally we hammered 6-1 thanks to 4 goals from Assombalonga and a double from Morelos.
The Buffalo Alfredo Morelos scored in 7 consecutive games after returning from injury totalling 9 goals in a super spell from the Columbian.
Sitting in 6th place after 20 games of the season with nine wins and eight defeats and just 3 draws setting us up with a chance of European qualification come the end of the season.
We had a better 2nd half to the season despite losing 5 league games we manage to win 11 and draw just 2 including a final day blockbusting 5-5 scoreline away at West Ham. In fact we went goal crazy with big wins against Watford 5-1, Liverpool 5-0, Burnley 5-3, Huddersfield 7-2, Newcastle 4-2 and Villa, Bournemouth and Everton all 3-1. We looked good going forward with our attacking players all chipping in with the goals including the January loan signing Tammy Abraham who netted 10 times in 10 starts to compliment Morelos and Assombalonga. Helder Costa also got 10 goals.
A fantastic 5th placed finish that takes us in to the Europa League next season which made the board very happy.
What a signing the Columbian Alfredo Morelos proved to be finishing the season as the Premier League top goalscorer with 25 goals in his first season in England.
Thank you for taking the time to have a look at my latest post tracking my football manager journey. The next update will be available over the next few days that takes the Boro in to Europe.