Since their miserable season in the Premier League in 2016/17, Middlesbrough have performed below expectation in their bid to get back to the top flight.
Yes, they finished in the play-offs in their first season after relegation, which is a better achievement than most relegated clubs manage, but with one of the highest budgets in the league they would have expected to have done better, particularly as they failed to score a goal in the semi-final tie against Aston Villa.
That has been ‘Boro’s trouble for too many years now – and Tony Pulis was never the man to solve that issue, their 49 league goals this season is testament to that.
It is therefore crucial to both the club and the fans that the next manager they bring in plays attacking, expansive football. The current favourite is former Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic, and he would be perfect.
He already has two promotions from the Championship to his name with Watford and Fulham, and on both those occasions his teams were the second highest scorers in the league.
Both those sides had pace, flair and attacking imagination. Middlesbrough have good forwards, but lack creativity in midfield and the pace which departed when Adama Traore left for Wolves.
Jokanovic would get the best out of the current players, and that is what Middlesbrough need most. It is useful to have a tactically astute manager, but success is often more dependent on consistent performances. That is what the likes of Neil Warnock and Chris Wilder brought to Cardiff and Sheffield United respectively, and that played a hugely significant role in their promotions.
Another manager who offers similar is Danny Cowley. He is also amongst the favourites for the managerial position, and it is only a matter of time before he is snapped up by a Championship club.
The Cowley brothers already have five promotions under their belt, and will likely challenge for another with Lincoln back in League One next season. It is hard to believe that Danny is only 40. Not only do they get the best out of their players, but they are astute in the transfer market and tactically. Middlesbrough would be a huge step up in regard to the budget and their spending power, but the pair have enjoyed nothing but success in management – how many others can claim that.
Former players Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Reiziger are also on the shortlist. Both hold coaching roles currently, with Woodgate at Middlesbrough. It would be a gamble to give either the job, but as Frank Lampard proved the Championship can provide the perfect platform for a young manager to cut their teeth.