After 10 matches, the Teessiders sit 22nd in the table, and to make matters worse, 23rd-placed Huddersfield Town have a game in hand.
Chris Wilder’s team have picked up just two victories, in addition to four draws and four defeats, and only two sides in the division – Hull City (21) and Bristol City (16) – have conceded more goals than Boro so far this term (15).
On Saturday, they missed the chance to move out of the relegation zone after being held to a goalless draw by Rotherham United at the Riverside Stadium.
West took to Twitter to express his surprise at Middlesbrough’s woes, having expected them to make a promotion push this season, echoing some pre-season Championship previews. He feels that Sunderland should have beaten their local rivals in the recent Tees-Wear derby, which Boro won 1-0.
He tweeted: “I’m staggered at how poorly Chris Wilder is doing at Middlesbrough.
“I really thought they’d kick on and be targeting the playoffs as a minimum this season, but it’s not working at all. Makes our loss at the Riverside slightly more frustrating, for me.”
Part of the reason for West’s surprise may be that Middlesbrough were among the Championship’s highest spenders in the summer. They ranked fourth in the division for total expenditure after shelling out more than £8m on 11 new players.
The only major departure from the squad which finished seventh last season, narrowly missing out on the play-offs, was midfielder Marcus Tavernier, who joined Bournemouth. That makes their current struggles all the harder to fathom.
Wilder took Sheffield United into the Premier League in his last full season in the Championship in 2018/19, but he looks like he has his work cut out to turn things around at the Riverside Stadium – if indeed he is given the time to do so.
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