Middlesbrough are facing an enormous period over the next few weeks as Chris Wilder takes over from Neil Warnock and looks to improve results and stamp his authority around the Riverside.
Boro expected to be challenging a lot closer for the top six than they have been able to do so far this season and inconsistent results, in the end, led to the need to part ways with Warnock.
Wilder is a manager with a lot of pedigree at Championship level and he did an excellent job at Sheffield United to get them promoted from League One to the Premier League.
It is therefore anticipated that he will have an immediate impact on the current squad at the Riverside and help them to climb further up the table in the next few weeks.
The run-up to the January transfer window also needs to be on Wilder’s mind and he will need Boro’s hierarchy to help him identify and then bring in some key transfer targets.
You would not have expected the former Sheffield United manager to take this job if the club had not given him some assurances over support in the transfer market.
To that end, the latest report from The Mirror revealed that Wilder watched Arsenal forward Folarin Balogun in action for England’s under-21s during their 3-1 against the Czech Republic at Turf Moor this week.
That suggests that Boro are very much one of the sides that are potentially keen to sort out a loan deal with the Gunners for the talented 20-year-old.
Balogun himself said that he would be open to the prospect of making a move away from the Emirates Stadium during the January transfer window as he prioritises game time during the second half of the campaign.
It is believed that Balogun’s situation has also alerted West Ham and the Hammers are interested in making a loan move for the forward.
That comes with David Moyes’ side needing find some extra cover for Michail Antonio up front as they chase a top-four position this term.
Boro could do with some extra firepower up front and Balogun has all the makings of an excellent option for them to pursue in the winter window.
The forward has been enjoying a prolific season with Arsenal’s under-23s with him firing home nine goals in eight games in Premier League 2 Division One so far this term, and the 20-year-old has also managed to make two Premier League appearances for the Gunners as well.
The forward is too good to be playing reserve football for the rest of the campaign and he needs to get some more first-team experience, with him having been handed a number of chances by Arsenal in the last few seasons but he has yet to be handed an extended run in the side.
Wilder could be the ideal manager to unlock the best form from Balogun in the second half of the campaign and the forward has the quality to make a major impression in the Championship if handed regular service.
Considering West Ham are also keen on Balogun, it would take a lot for Boro to secure this loan deal.
However, the hope would be that Arsenal might not want to strengthen a rival for the European places and also Middlesbrough might be able to offer him a better chance of regular game time.
Boro’s hierarchy can show Wilder that they are serious about backing him and challenging for promotion by going all out to convince Arsenal to loan them Balogun.
It would be a very impressive first signing for Middlesbrough under their new manager if they pull it off.