Last season, Michael Carrick’s men were among the second-season’s most enthralling and expansive attacking outfits, and they were only denied potential Premier League football by the intense chasm of the play-offs, instilling understandable hope and expectation that they caWn even better that feat this term.
But they’ve done anything but that.
Boro are currently rooted at the bottom of the standings after failing to win any of their first seven games, five of which were losses.
Dropping points against Huddersfield Town, QPR, and Sheffield Wednesday – all of whom are expected to struggle this season – has added to the Riverside’s tense atmosphere.
pressure also unsurprisingly beginning to mount upon Carrick from supporters. It would make perfect sense if Carrick was sweating.
However, the former Manchester United stalwart has maintained a refreshingly positive and proactive stance on proceedings, reiterating that, from his view, there are plenty of plus points for his side to take despite the way that they’ve started the season. When quizzed about the toll of Boro’s current predicament, Carrick told the Northern Echo: “Honestly, it does not affect me. I come to work and it is not even work, it is something I enjoy,”
.”I am fortunate enough to be in a position that I can do something that I love doing, and I never take that for granted because not everyone can do that.
“So that is one thing for me, coming in every day, appreciating where I am. So it is what it is. I just treat every day like that and enjoy what I am doing.
“There’s no hiding from the fact it becomes more challenging and difficult, because we’re trying to find solutions. But there aren’t sleepless nights.
“My mood is good. Obviously, I’m not happy with the points total and I accept the position we find ourselves in, but that doesn’t change my mood or my behaviour around the place or with the players. “They all know what we expect and the biggest thing I can ask for is effort, the right attitude and application,” he continued.
“In many ways, we are getting that – I can’t question that. If anything, sometimes you can want it so much that it can go in the other direction and hinder you a little bit. I think we saw that on Tuesday evening (against Sheffield Wednesday) when we second-guessed things.
“Sometimes you have to take a deep breath and trust and believe in yourself. I know what they’re capable of and I certainly believe in them 100%.”
Why have Michael Carrick’s Middlesbrough struggled in the Championship?
Many rightly attribute their sudden descent to the club’s inability to replace last season’s stars.
Carrick had a group of highly promising Premier League players on loan at his disposal in the form of Ryan Giles, Aaron Ramsey, and Cameron Archer, who all played key roles in their run to the play-offs but have since gone on.
Chuba Akpom, on the other hand, is the true elephant in the room.
Akpom was a true revelation under Carrick, banishing earlier inconsistencies and suddenly soaring to stardom by scoring 28 times last year, a form that earned him a move to Ajax.
Removing such a large number of goals from a team without a viable substitute is always going to be difficult, as Boro have discovered.
Carrick was active on the other end of the spectrum, bringing in new bodies, albeit many of them look to be long-term visionaries, and it has to be seen how much of an impact they can have in the here and now.