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Phil Brown delivers verdict on Middlesbrough’s top-six chances under Chris Wilder

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Former Hull City and Southend United manager Phil Brown believes Chris Wilder could guide new club Middlesbrough to a play-off position by the end of January after taking over at the Riverside Stadium, speaking on the BBC’s 72+ Podcast.

The 54-year-old was appointed on Teesside last Sunday, being announced as the second-tier side’s new manager shortly after predecessor Neil Warnock’s departure and being tasked with making them eventual promotion competitors.

Despite investing in 12 new additions during the summer, Boro have endured a mixed start to their 2021/22 campaign and currently sit in 14th place after going winless in their last three league matches.

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Things could be a lot worse for a side that won just three of their opening 11 league matches.

But after climbing into the top six following their 2-0 away win at strugglers Cardiff City last month, their subsequent losses against Birmingham City and Luton Town have pulled them back down into an average midtable position.

With this, Warnock’s departure was confirmed after their away tie against West Bromwich Albion last weekend, despite winning a very respectable point at The Hawthorns against a side that have been unbeaten at home in the league this term.

Under new management and with a few changes, ex-Hull manager Brown believes Boro are sufficiently equipped to break into the top six when 2022 comes around.

Speaking on the BBC’s 72+ Podcast, he said: “You’ve got to look at Middlesbrough’s situation and it isn’t a car crash by any stretch of the imagination.

“I had Trevor Hemmings (at Preston North End), one of the best chairmen or supporters of a football club you can get, similar to what Middlesbrough have got.

“So there were lots of things to look at but the most important one is where they are in the league table.

“It’s not a car crash and with a little bit of tweaking and a new manager coming in, as we all know what happens when a new manager comes in, there’s an upturn in results.

“They could be in the play-offs by the back end of January and looking at promotion again.”

The Verdict:

The ingredients are there for a potential promotion push after investing in their squad during the summer. Not only were they able to add quality to their squad, but also a considerable amount of the depth and the latter will be especially key if they want to retain consistency.

With the inconsistencies of other teams around them, this will be key in securing a place in the top six because just a few wins on the bounce secured their temporary place in the play-off zone last month, a remarkable turnaround after looking doomed following their 2-0 loss against strugglers Hull City before the previous international break.

After operating with three at the back at times this term, the adaptation to Wilder’s previous formation at Sheffield United should be reasonably quick if the 54-year-old decides to adopt a similar system.

However, the January window could be vital in making sure this switch is successful, with the potential to recall Djed Spence from his loan spell at Nottingham Forest.

The wing-back has thrived at the City Ground this term – and could be a key figure in Wilder’s plans for the second half of this season and beyond.

However, they could also benefit from the addition of another centre-back to provide added depth at the heart of defence, something that will be needed with likely injuries and suspensions throughout the remainder of this campaign.


A 21-year-old Reading FC fan and writer who graduated from the University for the Creative Arts in the summer with a degree in Journalism and Media Production. Other topics written about include politics, mental health and education.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Phil Brown delivers verdict on Middlesbrough’s top-six chances under Chris Wilder

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