After 24 matches, Middlesbrough sit at the top of the Championship table. Ever since they were relegated back in 2009, supporters have been waiting for the day that Boro return to the top flight and face north east rivals Sunderland and Newcastle United on a regular basis once again.
While it may be too early to say that Aitor Karanka’s men will achieve their ultimate goal of promotion, the signs are promising and fans should be excited at their chances this season. We take a look at just why Middlesbrough will go on to win the Championship and secure a return back to the Premier League.
So far, Boro’s defence has been absolutely sensational. They have conceded just 12 goals so far this season – which is by far the best record in the Championship. The Riverside Stadium has been a fortress throughout the opening half of the campaign and Boro haven’t conceded a league goal at home since 15 September.
Despite their immense defensive record, it would be naive to label Karanka’s side as conservative. In fact, Middlesbrough have scored league goals this season – the joint-third highest amount in the second tier. At the time of writing, Coral price Boro at 1/2 to win the Championship and many will be placing a football bet on Boro to do just that.
In addition, Middlesbrough have an exceptional, experienced squad and have match winners both on and off the field. Boro have enough knowledge and nous to manage the psychological side of a title challenge but must remain focused on the next game rather than the bigger picture.
They currently have a four point advantage over nearest rivals Derby County but cannot afford to get too carried away. There are still plenty of points to play for and Boro could easily slip out of the automatic promotion places if they take their foot off the gas. The best way to ensure promotion is by piling the pressure on the other leading candidates.
Prior to the beginning of the season, many tipped Middlesbrough to finish on the head of the Championship table and placed a football bet via online bookmakers such as Coral. However, the job isn’t done yet. Karanka’s men have a tough, gruelling Championship schedule ahead of them and it would be foolish to think that a four point lead at this stage is unassailable.
Can Boro do it? Well, if they maintain this form throughout the remainder of the campaign then there is absolutely no reason why not. Karanka’s men are soaring and it’s difficult to see the likes of Brighton and Burnley keeping pace at the top of the division. Hull and Derby are likely to be the main threats but, with a bit of luck, Boro will fend off any challenges and achieve their ultimate goal of promotion.