For most of us old enough to remember Middlesbroughs first stint in the Premiership – it will evoke fond memories of saucy samba stars Juninho and Emerson slinking their way through the midfield to feed the Silver Fox in the Box Fabrizio Ravanelli. They reached two cup finals in their 2nd premiership season, yet such was their inconsistency they also got relegated. Fast forward 19 years and they’re back for their 3rd crack of the whip. And football romantics among us will draw comparisons to their dealings in the transfer market in acquiring creative talent, most notably in the form of Alvaro Negredo. The former Man City man did well in his time in Manchester and can spearhead the ‘boro attack this term. Under Mourinhos former understudy Aitor Karanka, the teesiders have developed an attractive blend of football – which will be easy on the eye but not necessarily on the points total. A relegation dogfight will have Middlesbrough right at the heart of it, but if Negredo can hit form, it might just be enough.

Key man: Alvaro Negredo

Best signing: Alvaro Negredo

Verdict: 16th

By Darren Wells


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