Ashley Fletcher reflects on Sunderland relegation season and how things are different at Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough striker Ashley Fletcher says he learnt a lot from his relegation season with Sunderland in 2018 – but doesn’t believe Boro are in a similar situation.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 6th December 2019, 6:20 am
Striker Ashley Fletcher has made 19 appearances for Middlesbrough this season.
Striker Ashley Fletcher has made 19 appearances for Middlesbrough this season.

The 24-year-old endured a dismal spell at the Stadium of Light and scored just two goals in 16 appearances after signing for the Black Cats on loan in January.

Sunderland were unable to avoid relegation from the second tier, while off-field issues dampened the mood on Wearside.

Fletcher looks set to be involved in another relegation battle this season, with Boro sitting just a point above the relegation zone ahead of Saturday’s important meeting with Charlton at the Riverside.

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Yet the striker insists everyone is staying positive, and that Jonathan Woodgate’s side are well equipped to beat the drop.

“At Sunderland it was so tough and off the field problems weren’t helping and there was uncertainty with players,” said Fletcher, who has netted four goals in 19 appearances this season.

“Here everyone is pulling in the same direction to get out of the problem and it’s just a case of putting the wins together.

“It’s easier said than done because the prime example was Hull came to us on Sunday and we played them off the park and then they went and won 4-0 against Preston.

“Anyone can beat anyone in this league, there’s no easy games so we go into the Charlton game thinking we can beat them and then the Forest game and the Swansea game.”

Despite his struggles, Fletcher believes his Sunderland spell was an important one which helped him develop as a player.

“Obviously it's not nice being relegated and I never wanted to go there and for that to happen,” added Fletcher.

“I learnt a lot about myself and how to cope with disappointment in football because I’d never really had it up until then and that’s when I kind of turned into a man in a way,

“I had to take a lot of criticism which was just and obviously you get criticism all through your life, all through your career and now I know how to deal with it.

“It was a really good learning experience.”