What Middlesbrough can learn from previous promotion winners Norwich and Sheffield United
If you looked at the Championship table this time last year, eventual champions Norwich City had endured a difficult start to the season.
Six games into the new campaign, following their 1-1 draw against local rivals Ipswich, there were some reports asking how long manager Daniel Farke had left. How quickly things can change.
The German was appointed at Carrow Road in May 2017 and his first full season in England yielded a moderate 14th-place finish.
Crucially, though, that campaign gave Farke time to assess his squad and assemble the foundations before mounting a serious promotion challenge.
Of course every club and scenario is different, yet another promoted team from last season, Sheffield United, also found success after years of building under Chris Wilder.
The end result is something Championship owners crave. Promotion. Yet, with the Premier League cash flow higher than ever, many are looking for a quick fix.
Middlesbrough went down that route by hiring Tony Pulis in December 2017, a manager renowned for getting results by hook or by crook.
The appointment of Jonathan Woodgate back in June marked a significant change of approach, a decision made with the long-term plan at the fore.
Some may question Woodgate’s managerial credentials or disagree with the decision to appoint him in the first place, yet some of the clamour following Saturday’s defeat to Blackburn seemed over the top.
Obviously social media doesn’t always tell the whole story. “I know I’ve got 80 per cent, 90 per cent of the fans behind me,” said Woodgate last week.
Yes the performance at Blackburn was poor and there are clearly areas which need to be addressed with the way that Woodgate wants to play.
But Boro could quite easily have nicked a point at Ewood Park after Marcus Browne hit the post late on, or won the game at Luton, or against Brentford for that matter.
There’s no doubt the first win is important, though, and if it doesn’t come in back-to-back home games against Wigan and Millwall the pressure will only build.
Even so, Woodgate will get time to implement his own ideas at the Riverside, with 43 league games still to go this term.