Three key areas Middlesbrough's new manager must strengthen to win promotion from the Championship

Middlesbrough look set to appoint a new manager this week – but what will their priorities be once they arrive at the Riverside?

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 11 June, 2019, 10:45
Britt Assombalonga and George Friend were regular starters for Middlesbrough last season.

We take a closer look at the key areas Boro will have to strengthen ahead of next season, after narrowly missing out on the play-offs last time around.

Full-backs - On the left side of defence George Friend has been a wonderful servant for the club in recent years, yet the 31-year-old struggled with an injury in the last month of the season.

Ryan Shotton, 30, regularly operated on the other side of Boro’s backline last campaign, after being converted from a centre-half to a right-back under Tony Pulis.

At the very least, the Teessiders will need cover for their aging full-backs to prevent using players out of position.

Wingers – Pulis regularly talked about his side’s lack of pace and power in wide areas, following Boro’s failure to sign more wingers in the January transfer window.

The Teessiders have already been linked with a couple of wide men this summer in the shape of Dutchman Sheraldo Becker and Cardiff’s Kadeem Harris.

And following the departure of Stewart Downing last month, the Teessiders are desperately short in wide areas, with Marcus Tavernier and Marvin Johnson, who spent last season on loan at Sheffield United, the only recognised wingers in the squad.

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Up front – After spending around £20million on strikers in the summer of 2017, Boro look set to take a different approach with their transfer policy.

It seems unlikely the Teessiders will splash out on another big-money striker this summer but, with Martin Braithwaite unlikely to stay and Britt Assombalonga’s future also unclear, there could be money to reinvest.

If Boro aren’t able to splash the cash, they must find a way to improve the resources they already have, after scoring just 49 league goals in 46 Championship games last season (only Ipswich, Bolton, Millwall and Stoke scored less in the second tier).

Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher showed glimpses of forming a decent strike partnership last season, after both arrived for sizable fees two years ago.

Adding the necessary width and creativity from midfield could also help Boro’s frontmen flourish.