Season Review: Middlesbrough

Last updated : 02 June 2009 By Robert Nichols

How did your season go? Did Middlesbrough finish where you expected them to?
It was an absolute disaster. It all unravelled from the end of November onwards like a hideous nightmare. We started so well - Southgate got manager of the month for August and we lost at Pompey the day it was announced. It was like a horror film after that.

Who was Boro's player of the year?
Tuncay won FMTTM, supporters and players awards. He is a phenomenal player and will be much missed by supporters as he is certain to leave this summer. We didn’t always harness him for the team. Against Pompey as he hared around the field the fans chanted "we’ve only got one player."

Who were the best players you saw play against Middlesbrough?
Everyone looked impressive against us as we back-pedalled in the opposite direction. Steve Gerrard never gives up and shot us down in the last minute at Anfield. He never gives up until the final whistle sounds. Diarra and Defoe looked a class apart at Pompey. Lampard and Chelsea were awesome. Shay Given left Newcastle but was still our nemesis and will haunt Alves ever more after an unbeatable display for Man City - what a keeper.

What did you make of Hull City?
You had great spirit and were a breath of fresh air at the start of the season. Your legs fell off as Boateng’s did by the start of the winter. You were extremely fortunate to stay up. Like Sunderland there was nothing to choose between you and Newcastle and ourselves. We were all far too poor for the top flight. I wonder what would have happened had Wheater not been wrongly red carded and a penalty wrongly awarded for you at the KC Stadium in December. It was by slim margins that we went and you stayed.

Where do you need to strengthen this summer?
Everywhere. The squad was suicidally thin last term, hence our disappearance from the Premier. We need experience between the posts, in defence and especially in midfield. We also need some guile and scoring instincts in attacks. We need to score far more and concede less. We need to play with more fight and play as a team.

Who'll be on their way out?
Once fit, Downing will leave for a very big fee. He deserves it and people will then see just what a fantastic player he is.

Tuncay will go for 5 or 6 million, total profit as he was a free transfer signing.

Gary O’Neil will leave, maybe back to Pompey.

Matt Bates will stay in Prem on a free, keeper Ross Turnbull by the same method and possibly one or two others like Adam Johnson and Robert Huth. Thus we will have to get very busy in the market.

Middlesbrough's best 11 of the season?
Difficult one this as we chopped and changed so much and with so little success:

Brad Jones
Tony McMahon  Emanuel Pogatetz  David Wheater  Andrew Taylor 
Didier Digard  Gary O’Neil  Stewart Downing
Jeremie Aliadiere  Afonso Alves  Tuncay Sanli

Robert Nichols is editor of Fly Me To The Moon