Bolton Wanderers Opponent Bio: Middlesbrough

Who says you need badges to coach - Bryn Lennon

On the back of three straight wins, Dougie Freedman’s Bolton side head up to the North East looking to make it four-in-a-row. Boro recently sacked club legend Tony Mowbray and replaced him with former Real Madrid defender Aitor Karanka. Let us have a closer look at ‘The Smoggies’.

Formed in 1876 and after flirting with the idea for some years, Middlesbrough turned permanently professional in 1889.  The club quickly established itself as a top division professional side. Finding home at Ayresome Park, much of their pre-war era was comfortable mid-table finishes in the top flight. Boro also had two players contributing to the national side in their early years, Wilf Mannion and George Hardwick.

The Post-War Era saw Middlesbrough slump, relegation in 1954 marked the beginning of a 20-year exile from the top-flight for The Smoggies. The first six of which saw the emergence of one of the town's most famous sons, Brian Clough. During his time with his hometown club, striker Clough scored 197 goals in 213 Boro appearances, this included 40 or more goals in 4 consecutive seasons. His lethal form was justly rewarded with International recognition. In 1961, Clough left Boro to join rivals Sunderland for £55,000 and without Clough's goals, in 1966, the club dropped to the third tier for the first time in their history.

During the 1980's, in addition to battling in the lower divisions of the English Football League, the club had severe financial difficulty. Middlesbrough needed to borrow from the PFA merely to pay players' wages. The club seemed doomed with costs mounting and Ayresome Park closed. However, a consortium led by board member Steve Gibson saved the club at the eleventh hour and with investment changed its fortunes completely.

With their off-the-pitch matters more secure, Middlesbrough flourished on-the-pitch. Immediately after the takeover, Boro achieved successive promotions to rise to the top tier of English Football, albeit for one season. The club was once again competing at the top-end of the Football League ladder and in 1992 were one of the founding members of The Premiership. They continued to flutter between the top two divisions (which in a lot of ways defines their history). Manchester United and England legend Bryan Robson took charge of the club as player-manager in 1994. Under Robson's stewardship, remembered for marquee signings such as the charismatic Italian Fabrizio Ravenelli & Brazilian Juninho Paulista, Boro made both domestic finals, each for the first time in their history, losing both. Boro's misery was compounded with their relegation in the very same season.

After 7 years of mixed success, Bryan Robson departed and was replaced by former Manchester United assistant and dutch translation expert Steve ‘Schteve' McLaren. McLaren turned the The Boro into a notoriously difficult to beat side and won their first major trophy with a Carling Cup Final victory over our beloved Bolton Wanderers, including a magnificent Bolo Zenden penalty which was so good, he kicked it twice.

Under McLaren, Boro also experienced success in Europe.  A last 16 appearance in what was then called the UEFA Cup followed by a run to the final saw McLaren pip our own Sam Allardyce to the England job. Needing to replace arguably their most successful manager of all time, Boro famously turned to the under-qualified Gareth Southgate. England's most famous scapegoat steered Boro to consecutive mid-table finishes before being relegated in 2009, Southgate was sacked later that year. Despite the efforts of Gordon Strachan and later Tony Mowbray, Boro have remained at Championship level since and are dreaming of a return to the top flight under the management of the exotic Aitor Karanka.


MAJOR HONOURS:

League Cup: Winners 2004 Runners up 1997, 1998

FA Cup: Runners up 1997

UEFA Cup: Runners up 2006


STATISTICS:

FORM: LDLWL

TOP SCORER: Albert Adomah 7

DISCIPLINE: Grant Leadbitter 4 YELLOWS

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