Bolton Wanderers are set to make a 250 mile round-trip to Middlesbrough this weekend in the latest league fixture. The 2013/14 Championship season is MIddlesbrough's fifth consecutive year at this level, and has very much been one of transition.
We have a rich history of games against Middlesbrough - the very first fixture being held back in December 1899, with Wanderers recording a 3-0 home win. A notable game between the two will remain the 2004 League Cup Final, which saw Middlesbrough take the trophy in controversial fashion following a 2-1 win in Cardiff.
Unfortunately for both clubs, the glory days of the mid-2000's seems like a lifetime ago now.
Club legend Tony Mowbray began the season as manager of a talented squad, but failed to see out the month of October before losing his job. His replacement was former assistant to Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, the Spaniard Aitor Karanka who became the club's first foreign manager.
Middlesbrough began the season with a 1-2 home defeat to Leicester City before beating Charlton 1-0 at the Valley a week later. A run of two wins in the next seven games put Mowbray under pressure, as their form remained inconsistent. He was relieved of his duties on 21st October and was replaced temporarily by his assistant, ex-Wolves centre back Mark Venus until Karanka arrived on 13th November.
Middlesbrough had won just three league fixtures out of 12, before the sacking, and were eliminated from the Capital One Cup at the first round stage by League Two strugglers Accrington Stanley
A disappointing 3-2 defeat at Barnsley proved to be the last straw for chairman Steve Gibson, who pulled the trigger and called an end to Mowbray's time at the club.
The club had a busy summer with six incoming transfers including former Bolton Wanderers loanee Jacob Butterfield from Norwich City. He was joined by Kei Kamara from Sporting Kansas City, Albert Adomah from Bristol City, Dean Whitehead from Stoke City, Frazer Richardson from Southampton and Dimitros Konstantopoulos from AEK Athens. These permanent transfers were complemented by the loan arrivals of Daniel Ayala from Norwich and Jozsef Varga from Debreceni.
Outgoings included Scott McDonald to Millwall on a free transfer, and a further seven on loan.
This influx of new blood has led to a struggle to integrate, and Middlesbrough's form has been up and down accordingly. Adomah currently leads the goalscoring charts with seven.
Last Five Meetings
19.04.2008 - Middlesbrough 0 v 1 Bolton Wanderers (Gavin McCann)
22.11.2008 - Middlesbrough 1 v 3 Bolton Wanderers (Gretar Steinsson, Matt Taylor, Johan Elmander)
04.04.2009 - Bolton Wanderers 4 v 1 Middlesbrough (Kevin Davies, Gary Cahill, Matt Taylor, Ricardo Gardner
27.10.2012 - Middlesbrough 2 v 1 Bolton Wanderers (Lee Chung Yong)
20.04.2013 - Bolton Wanderers 2 v 1 Middlesbrough (Chris Eagles, Marvin Sordell)
Heart - Middlesbrough 0 v 1 Bolton Wanderers (Jermaine Beckford)
Head - Middlesbrough 0 v 3 Bolton Wanderers (Jermaine Beckford x3)
I think we'll win. I am confident! We are in good form and our opponents are there for the taking.
Beckford is the man - we need to continue to provide the supply and he will do the rest. An away point is always welcome in this day and age, but we should be looking to capitalise on our recent form and take all three.