Proven championship talent of the top class. That seems to be the order of the day at Riverside as Middlesbrough look to push their way into the play-offs.
In Chris Wilder, Boro has arguably the best tactician in the EFL. A man with no fewer than five promotions on his resume. Could he make it to a sixth in the next 11 months? With Middlesbrough supporting Wilder to the hilt in a busy summer of comings and goings, don’t be surprised if the North East side are at least one better than sixth place last season.
Boro has already secured one of the Championship’s best middle halves in Darragh Lenihan after the former Blackburn Rovers skipper left Ewood Park for nothing. Lenihan’s height, strength and passing range mean the Ireland international is perfectly suited to life as one of Wilder’s three centre-backs.
Lenihan’s arrival fills a void left by Sol Bamba’s departure.
Ben Davies, meanwhile, would provide a much-needed left-footed option at the back. According to that Liverpool echo, Boro is keen to land the Liverpool outsider two years after Wilder tried and failed to bring him to Sheffield United. A back three with Dael Fry, Lenihan and Davies would rank among the best in the division, at least on paper.
A case for the Middlesbrough defense
Ryan Giles, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, also feels tailor-made for Wilder-Ball. The 22-year-old delivers like postman Pat after a liter of Red Bull, and provided ten assists in 2021/22 for Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City. Giles, much better suited to a full-back role than the outgoing Neil Taylor, should fit in easily on the left side of Wilder’s 3-5-2 formation.
Middlesbrough boast two of the best crossers of a ball in the entire Football League in Giles and Isaiah Jones, who appear to be staying on course after an outstanding breakthrough campaign. Matt Crooks in particular can only benefit from such an outstanding service.
Jones in particular was so impressive last season that few on the banks of The Tees questioned the decision to send Djed Spence on loan to Nottingham Forest. Spence in talks with Tottenham Hotspur, per The sunand could fetch Boro around £15m.
A windfall of £15million
Wilder promised’big name‘ Signings have a real wow factor and Spence’s forthcoming move to the Premier League should free up funds – with all due respect to that incoming David McGoldrick – some really high-profile arrivals.
Take Karl Darlow for example.
The Newcastle United benchwarmer knows the Championship – and the North East – like the back of his hand. Per the athlete, Daniel Iversen of Leicester City is another goalkeeper target. And both would represent significant improvements over the underwhelming Joe Lumley. Northampton Towns Player of the Season 2021/22 Liam Roberts, 27, is expected to play between the posts as a replacement for a more proven second tier side.
Additions are also needed at the other end of the playing field. Particularly after Wilder opted not to trigger the £7.5m call option in Andraz Sporar’s contract (Northern Echo). Dwight Gayle, Adam Armstrong and Cameron Archer, three players on Boro’s wish list, would be welcomed with open arms.
However, Gayle’s salary demands could pose an issue since Archer is a cheaper acquisition. The Aston Villa youngster made a huge impression during a previous loan spell at Preston North End.
Hamza Choudhury is another high profile player who could be available at short notice. The echo claims Middlesbrough have held talks with Leicester City. The England Under-21 international is raw, rough around the edges but would bring tough competitiveness and ball-winning skills.
Boro has also been linked to the likes of John-Paul Boetius, Scott Twine, Ross Stewart and Harry Toffolo. But as things stand, it seems unlikely that all four will arrive.
In other news, Romano says Chelsea ‘really’ want Liverpool ‘dreams’ of signing.
https://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2022/06/25/how-middlesbrough-xi-may-look-on-opening-day-lenihan-and-7-signings/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-middlesbrough-xi-may-look-on-opening-day-lenihan-and-7-signings What Middlesbrough XI could look like on opening day; Lenihan and 7 signings