Relegation not yet out of the question for shambles Middlesbrough
A goalless draw with second-bottom Peterborough would not normally be deemed a positive result for Middlesbrough, but given their apparent troubles since the turn of the year, it could be vital in them avoiding relegation.
Collapsing at this time of the year is nothing new to Middlesbrough, as they were two points off top spot on New Year’s Day last season and somehow finished one place outside of the play-offs, to the chagrin of those who had their annual leave booked early to avoid confrontation.
However, this latest collapse has signs of being even worse and they have taken just eight points from their 15 games since January 1st, which is less than any of the other 71 clubs that are a part of the Football League.
Obviously, this seems to have curtailed a play-off bid for the second season running as they are now six points adrift of sixth-placed Brighton, but more worryingly, they could still get sucked into an unexpected relegation battle if their alarming slump continues.
Despite their position in the top ten of the Championship standings, they are only eight points clear of the bottom three and enough time remains for this gap to be breached.
This does seem a little far-fetched at 25/1, but a bottom-half finish at 6/4 looks to be great value.
Most of Middlesbrough’s trouble stems from problems created by previous managers, with Gordon Strachan handed most of the blame for spending any spare money on flops including Kris Boyd and Kevin Thomson.
Tony Mowbray’s job has not been easy assembling a squad with virtually no funds, while he has struggled to get rid of the remaining higher earners on the books to reduce wages further.
The fact that Julio Arca and Nicky Bailey are out of contract in the summer will help, while Marvin Emnes and Scott McDonald, who has managed just one goal in eight Championship games, must be allowed to leave for minimum fees.
There have to be doubts about the focus of these players as they know their Riverside careers are drawing to a close and Mowbray will have a better chance of continuing to rebuild his squad next season, assuming he retains the reins.
Boro don’t have the greatest track record in managerial appointments so Steve Gibson must think twice or even three times if considering moving on Mowbray and staying in the division may be enough for him to retain his job for the foreseeable future.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.