By Tony Alvarez
Despite many people writing them off before a ball was kicked this season Middlesbrough currently occupy second place in the Championship table with 18 points from 8 games and lie just a single point behind current leaders Southampton.
As mentioned above many people wrote off Boro’ thinking they had found their level at mid table in the Championship and would not progress much further than that, in my predicted table I put Boro to finish in 12th place.
Of course its still possible for Tony Mowbray’s men to have a slump and finish in 12th or lower but I don’t see that happening, its not just the clubs results that have impressed but the level of performance and the togetherness of the side.
There can be many reasons given for Boro’s upturn in form from a side that frankly were awful at times last season and didn’t look like they were going anywhere, the main reason in my opinion is the shock form of hit man Marvin Emnes.
It is reported that when Emnes signed his new contract at the beginning of the season Mowbray challenged the Dutchman to add more goals to his game and show everyone what he can really do.
This is a challenge Emnes has clearly embraced, after only finding the net a disappointing 5 times last term he has already hit 5 League goals and another 3 in the Carling Cup, in total Emnes record reads 10 starts and one substitute appearance finding the net on 8 occasions.
This spectacular scoring form as well as an impressive level of all round play also saw Emnes pick up the Coca Cola Championship player of the month award for August.
Despite the impressive start which has seen Boro go unbeaten with draws against Portsmouth, Ipswich and Coventry the only blotch on their record things look like they could soon get tougher as they host big spenders Leicester on Wednesday night with Sven Goran Eriksson’s men on a 5 game unbeaten record themselves.
Following that Middlesbrough make the long trip down south to face an unpredictableReadingside who on their day are a match for anyone in the division.
So far the problem for Middlesbrough has been the smaller teams who do not expect to get anything out of the game, they have seen off clubs like Leeds, Burnley and Birmingham with some level of comfort but as mentioned above have struggled with clubs with less ambition in terms of promotion such as Coventry and Portsmouth.
I don’t think Boro are strong enough to keep up this form for the entire campaign and compete for Automatic promotion however having now seen what their squad can actually do I think they will compete for the play offs and should they make it they would have a very good chance of winning it as they can beat anyone in one off fixtures.
The main reason I do not think Boro can challenge for automatic promotion is the depth of their squad is not the most impressive, I am far form saying they are a one man team but without Emnes in the past few weeks they would of struggled and I do not believe he can keep up his present form for long enough to put them in the Championship driving seat.
What are your thoughts? Can Middlesbrough keep up their present form and challenge for the title? Is Emnes the key to their challenge? Can they cope without him? How do you think they will fare against Leicester on Wednesday? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts
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