Five things Middlesbrough fans can watch out for in the play-offs as Bournemouth, Barnsley, Brentford and Swansea battle for promotion
Middlesbrough won’t be involved in this season’s Championship play-offs – but there will still be plenty of things to keep an eye on in the season-defining fixtures.
With Brentford set to face Bournemouth and Swansea preparing to take on Barnsley in the semi-finals, here are just a few things Boro fans can look out for
Can Jonathan Woodgate reach the Premier League?
Few will have seen this one coming, but the former Boro boss is just three matches away from winning promotion with Bournemouth.
Woodgate was appointed as first-team coach at the Vitality Stadium in February but was made caretaker manager just two days after his arrival following Jason Tindall’s sacking.
Woodgate may have struggled in his first year of management at Boro but has steadied the ship at Bournemouth, winning nine of his 15 league games since taking charge permanently.
That included a 3-1 win over Boro in April.
Fans set to return
Boy have we missed supporters this season.
It really isn’t the same without fans inside the stadium to create an atmosphere and build a sense of occasion.
Yet fans are set to return this week, with clubs allowed to fill 25 per cent of their grounds for the semi-final matches.
Those who watched the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Leicester will have seen how refreshing it was to see actual supporters celebrating as 21,000 attended the match at Wembley.
Will Boro fans get to visit a new ground?
After losing last year’s play-off final against Fulham, Brentford will be keen to take their chance this time around.
The Bees have been playing in the new Brentford Community Stadium, a modernised ground which Boro visited twice, once in the FA Cup, during the 2020/21 season.
Boro supporters will be keen to tick off a new stadium, yet that will depend on what division Brentford find themselves in next season.
After finishing third in the table, Thomas Frank’s side will go into the play-offs as favourites, and have the division’s top scorer in Ivan Toney, who has scored 31 league goals this term.
Can Andre Ayew get Swansea out of the Championship?
Boro fans will be hoping they’ve seen the last of the Swansea striker, who has scored five goals in his last four games against Boro.
Thankfully for the Teessiders, if Swansea don’t go up, the 31-year-old looks set to leave the Liberty Stadium as he’ll be out of contract this summer.
If the Swans don’t win promotion, their meetings with Boro could be lively affairs next season, following the Swans’ controversial win over the Teessiders in March as well as Neil Warnock’s Cardiff connections.
Out of contract players
With several players set to become free agents this summer, their futures may depend on what division clubs find themselves in.
Barnsley’s Alex Mowatt, who has previously been linked with Boro, Bournemouth’s Junior Stanislas, Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard and Ayew at Swansea are just a few of the names who will be out of contract this summer.
Some players will clearly be out of Boro’s wage structure but there may be a bargain they can pick up.