Middlesbrough Youngsters Struggle For Playoff Place

There is huge gap between Premier League clubs and those in the next English football division down, the Championship.

Chris Hughton –  Middlesbrough bank on youth policy

You just have to look at this season, where Wolves, who won the Championship with 90 points last season, have hardly looked PL class this season and are currently joint second bottom with 24 points from
28 games.

But it doesn’t necessarily follow that Premier League clubs who are relegated come straight back up, and a good example of that this season is the plight of the team Newcastle play this afternoon – Middlesbrough.

While Middlesbrough had a very good start to the season, the side is now in 10th place on 47 points, and are 5 points out of a play-off place for promotion back to the Premiership.

Newcastle manager talked about Middlesbrough this morning:

“What has happened to them shows how difficult it is,”

“It is a very demanding and difficult league. And anyone going down has not got a given right to come straight back up.”

“You have to have a team that has got to show enough of the qualities that you need in this division to do well.”

“So far we have shown lots of that.”

If we do finally get promoted there will be those who will try to downplay the achievements of manager Chris Hughton – there’s just no doubt about that.

And they’ll probably be the same ones who predicted Newcastle would get relegated to League One last summer.

And of course Newcastle still have a huge wage bill, which is almost unheard of in the Championship, still being around the £40M mark, so much more than other clubs in the division.

But the sole reason we are able to maintain that wage bill in the Championship, is simply because Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is helping out the club this season with interest-free loans.

That’s in the hope the club can get promoted at the very first attempt, but it cannot last more than a single season.

Chris talked about that wage bill:

“Is it the case that we should be where we are because of our wage bill? That is a train of thought for a lot of people.”

“They say that with the squad we have got, that is where we should be. But there are a lot of very good clubs that have come down and have found it very difficult.”

“At the end of the day it is not about the wage bill. We must not forget this is the team that got relegated last season.”

“And, when you get relegated, there is no God-given right to be the best team in the lower division, as has been seen on numerous occasions in the past.”

Middlesbrough have looked more to their excellent Youth Academy system, that has brought through so many good players at the Teeside club, and they unloaded so many of their top wage earners during the summer.

Of course in addition to losing many of their good players last summer, one of their top remaining players, Sunderland-born Adam Johnson, who’s just 22 years old, joined moneybags Manchester City in January for a reported £6M.

But it seems the number of youngsters in the Middlesbrough side has played against them this season, because of their lack of experience.

Hughton continued:

“I think you need a combination of qualities.”

“What we were fortunate enough to have was to only lose a few of our players and still have a lot of players who were determined to do well and bring the club straight back up.”

“From a squad point of view, I always said I was happy with the squad and perhaps needed to boost numbers in certain areas.”

“But if you are looking at the moral fibre of the squad, I was always happy with that. I thought that, with the rub of the green, we would always do well in this division.”

“They will still think they are in with a shout of the play-offs. With 12 games left they have a very good chance to get there.”

“Every game is tough in this league but the fact that it’s a derby game and they are fighting for promotion makes it harder.

“The manager has brought in his own players. He’s got some of his players from Celtic and they aren’t playing badly. I’ve seen the game and Cardiff away for them was unlucky.”

After all the talk about this derby it will be soon enough before we find out if Newcastle can indeed extend their winning streak to 5 games.

That will be what Newcastle fans will definitely want to see this afternoon.

Comments welcome.