As the Championship play-off semi finals enter their second legs in the coming days, Middlesbrough are likely to be the side more than any other in the division watching on with a strong sense that they should still be competing in the end of season promotion deciders.
But for a run of six straight defeats from the end of March to the start of April it is likely that ‘Boro would now be battling for a place in the Premier League, though the fact that they are not now looks set to cost manager Tony Pulis his job.
That’s according to The Teeside Gazette, who claim that Pulis will not have the 12 month option on his contract taken up when he meets with chairman Steve Gibson this week, bringing an end to his 18 month stay at the club.
With his time at The Riverside set to end, it is hard not to feel that ‘Boro have made the right decision in in chosing not to renew Pulis’ contract.
While Pulis’ unwavering loyalty to a more defensive style of football allowed the North East side to end the season with the joint lowest number of goals conceded in the division, only three teams: Stoke and the bottom two Bolton and Ipswich, found the net on fewer occasions than Pulis’ side.
As impressive as that defensive record is, ‘Boro are proof that that alone cannot get you back to the Premier League, because even a smattering of errors during that run of defeats have cost ‘Boro heavily in their quest for promotion.
It is too much to expect defences to go a whole season without making one or two errors, and if there is no attacking outlet at the other end, then very little is ever going to be made of a season, something the ‘Boro hierarchy seem to have realised with Pulis, which will surely go down well with the fanbase.
For some time now, ‘Boro fans have been far from happy with the way Pulis has got their side playing, and you feel that having him there at the start of next season would have had a damaging effect on the mood in the stands at the Riverside, which wouldn’t have helped the players pushing for promotion back to the top flight.
It may seem ironic given Pulis has never been relegated as a Premier League manager, but you feel that ‘Boro’s decision to let him go may have done chances of getting back to the Premier League a world of good.