What more do Middlesbrough need to do to prove themselves as a bunch of bottlers? Ever since matchday two of this season in the Championship, they held their ground as a top-six side. However, that went out of the window on the 16th March when they were bested 3-0 by Aston Villa and fell out of the top six, and now they can’t get back in.
Tony Pulis has been well and truly worked out. The Teessiders are in a tough place at the moment as they’ve lost their last five Championship games, and the pressure is building on their clueless manager. At the moment, it looks like Pulis simply has to go and considering they could drop four points adrift of the top six if Derby win their game in hand and promotion is once again looking like a no-go for them.
Middlesbrough fans would have thought that nothing could stop them this season as they pushed towards a top-six place, especially seeing as they managed the feat last season and held their ground in the playoff places for so long this season. However, it’s all gone spectacularly wrong at such a crucial time as they now face seven huge games needing to turn themselves around.
The form table in the Championship over the last five games has Boro joint in 24th with Birmingham. Their tally of zero points from the last available 15 has them mixing it up with the likes of Ipswich, Millwall and QPR, yet their league position of 8th is one that should be highly respectable at the moment, especially considering how tight it is at the top and the fact they made the play-offs last year.
The danger now is that the North East side goes into freefall, undoing all of the hard work that they’ve done this season, even if that work was done by a clueless manager. Pulis is doing a sublime job of proving that his brand of hoofball isn’t welcome in the modern game, and as his side try and nick narrow wins through set pieces, the likes of Marcelo Bielsa, Daniel Farke and Chris Wilder are reaping the rewards of doing it the right way.
Should Boro bottle it this season, an outcome that looks increasingly likely, then a change of manager is certainly needed. The Teessiders face Swansea next, and with another loss pending, Pulis should surely be on his way out, and assuming that Boro do find themselves outside the top six after 46 games have been played, they’ll have a job on their hands to shake the bottlers tag next season.