Garry Monk's Middlesbrough backed for automatic promotion

Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Garry Monk and Middlesbrough ahead of the 2017/18 Championship season.

Background

Middlesbrough’s long-awaited return to the top flight was short-lived, with Aitor Karanka sacked in March for failing to trouble opposition defences. Boro ended the campaign 12 points short of safety, scoring the fewest goals in the division, but they didn’t overstretch themselves in the transfer market and their parachute payments should make them a formidable proposition now. Garry Monk has been chosen to lead the charge back to the Premier League following a fine season at Leeds. £15m striker Britt Assombalonga is one of six significant new arrivals.

Personality

Monk’s strong suit is logistics, the ability to break down a style of play into component parts, assign tasks to players that make each one more effective, then put it all back together. When he talks about "putting our performance out on the pitch", that's precisely what he means. With him, everything is black and white. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do anything. Players are held accountable for their own key performance indicators, and excuses won’t be tolerated.

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Verdict

Given that Monk collected 75 points with the squad he inherited at Leeds, you’d expect him to be in the region of 90 with the quality at his disposal on Teesside. Question marks reside over his ability outfox the shrewdest tacticians without the guidance of former right-hand man Pep Clotet but there’s no denying his supreme talent for logistics. His teams operate like a well-oiled machine, always keeping something in reserve, and they often do most of their damage late on in matches.

Prediction: automatic promotion

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