Middlesbrough have looked like a completely different animal under Michael Carrick – can they keep up their strong form and win automatic promotion to the Premier League?
While Boro look unlikely to catch league leaders Burnley, overtaking the out-of-form Sheffield United is definitely within their ability. Middlesbrough are currently just four points behind the Blades, but the South Yorkshire team do have a game in hand.
As things stand, Middlesbrough have 13 league games left to play. They have a relatively comfortable run-in during March – in this month they will be playing teams exclusively in the bottom half of the table. All four games are winnable, but of course, it’s easier said than done.
April is the month where the serious questions will be asked. Not only do Middlesbrough play a whopping seven league games in April, they’ll also have to play Burnley, Luton and Norwich. They may also have to win these games if Sheffield United can address their dip in form.
This being said, Boro have a couple of easier games in April, when they take on Rotherham and Huddersfield. It should be noted that while no game in the Championship is easy, some are certainly easier than others.
To catch up to Sheffield United, Boro must rely on them to drop four points from now until the end of the season. If the Blades win their game in hand, Boro will need to gain seven points over Paul Heckingbottom’s team.
But can they do it? Will Boro be playing the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal next season – or will they be faced with another trek down to Hull?