Football Season Guide



Marten de Roon(mid) (Atalanta), Viktor Fischer(mid) (Ajax), Antonio Barragan(def) (Valencia), Gaston Ramirez(mid) (Free), Bernardo Espinosa(def) (Free), Victor Valdes(gk) (Free), Brad Guzan(gk) (Free), Alvaro Negredo(att) (Valencia - Loan), Jordan McGhee(def) (Hearts - Loan)


Jonathan Woodgate(sp)(def) (Released), Rhys Williams(def) (Released), Connor Ripley(gk) (Oldham Athletico - Loan), Michael Agazzi(gk) (AC Milan - End of Loan), Kike Sola(att) (Athletic Bilbao - End of Loan)

Seven years after they were relegated to the Championship, Middlesbrough are back in the Premier League and seem to be the best equipped of the three promoted sides to put up a successful fight for survival. Middlesbrough finished second in the Championship last season but it has been the work of Aitor Karanka that has put them in a good position to avoid relegation, with the Middlesbrough coach preparing his side for promotion over the last couple of campaigns by steadily building up the quality available when they finally secured their place in the Premier League. Though Middlesbrough did not thrill their fans in terms of attack, they were solid enough at the back and a tight defense will continue to be the basis on which Karanka will hope to launch a successful survival bid this season. Karanka though has been busy building up the quality of his side in the summer and has spent the most of the three promoted sides. Middlesbrough registered the highest number of cleansheets last season in the Championship with Dimitrios Konstantopoulos in particularly excellent form but the keeper is likely to be third choice for Middlesbrough this season after Karanka signed two new keepers in Victor Valdes and Brad Guzan. Gastón Ramírez had his loan move from Southampton turned permanent after chipping in with seven goals while Antonio Barragán and Bernardo Espinosa have also been brought in to strengthen the defense. The hugely talented Viktor Fischer has also been snapped up from Ajax and pre-season outings suggest that he could play a more central role for Middlesbrough this season despite making his name on the wings at Ajax. Boro made their biggest acquisition in Marten de Roon with the player signed from Atalanta to provide some steel in the midfielder but it is in the attack that they have snagged a coup with Karanka managing to convince Alvaro Negredo to move to the Riverside Stadium and the striker is expected to provide a sharper edge to what had been Middlesbrough's weakest area last season as they scored the least number of goals among the teams who finished in the top six of the Championship last season. An encouraging set of results in the pre-season has further bolstered hopes of the fans of a successful season and with Boro boasting of a stronger squad compared to other teams tipped to finish in the lower end of the table, Karanka will be optimistic of securing safety this season


With the board backing him heavily in the transfer market, Karanka will be aware that survival from relegation is the least that is expected out of him this season