When Middlesbrough announced the signing of Ashley Fletcher in 2017, it is fair to say that their supporters were not overly impressed with the news.
A graduate from Manchester United’s academy, the forward made a permanent move to West Ham United following an encouraging loan spell at Barnsley in 2016 yet failed to score a single goal Premier League goal for the Hammers during his brief stint with the club.
With then-Irons boss Slaven Bilic deciding to cut ties with Fletcher, a fee thought to be in the region of £6.5m (via BBC Sport) was agreed with Boro.
After the Smoggies confirmed that they had completed the deal to bring the forward to the Riverside Stadium on Twitter, these supporters expressed their initial thoughts on the move.
Not sure about this? All ready have 3 proven goal scorers at this level and 7mill for someone who got 5 last season is not good business
— Danny (@Danyshaw90) July 27, 2017
£7m? You’re out of your minds. It’s ridiculous transfers like this which prove that football is well and truly knackered! Good player bt £7m
— Thomas Askew (@ThomasAskew88) July 27, 2017
— (@UTB76) July 27, 2017
Well one thing is for sure we will not be short on goals this season utb
— wayne burnett (@wanaldinho) July 27, 2017
Doesn’t look like a winger…
— Vickers (@Josh_Vickers000) July 27, 2017
Why not snodgrass instead, hope I’m wrong but we need someone who can deliver a ball for the strikers we’ve already got
— ronniehorton (@ronniehorton10) July 27, 2017
You misspelled we are signing a centre back
— Dylan hannan (@hannan_dylan) July 27, 2017
Having been purchased for a considerable fee, there was a lot of expectancy for Fletcher to fire Boro into contention for automatic promotion in the Championship yet a slow start to life in North Yorkshire saw him score just once in 16 league games for his new side.
With the likes of Rudy Gestede and Britt Assombalonga impressing for the Teesside outfit, a lack of game-time for the forward resulted in him joining Sunderland on loan in January 2018 where his struggles in-front of goal continued.
Tasked with firing the Black Cats to survival in the second tier, Fletcher ultimately failed to deliver for Chris Coleman’s side who eventually finished bottom of the league standings in what was a horrendous season for everyone associated with the club.
Despite a lack-lustre year in the Championship, Fletcher was given another chance to impress at Boro by Tony Pulis during the 2018/19 campaign and demonstrated glimpses of his talent in victories over Queens Park Rangers and Bolton Wanderers.
Ultimately, however, the fact that he only managed to fire in nine goals in 28 appearances in all competitions for the Smoggies indicates that he may not be good enough to compete at the level that he is currently playing at.
With Boro facing a third successive season in the second tier having missed out on the play-offs last Sunday, they may have to make a decision regarding Fletcher’s future in the summer.
Middlesbrough fans, what were your thoughts when Fletcher initially signed? Join the discussion by commenting below.
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