Middlesbrough FC - The banter season to end all others.

Now that the season is *almost* over, and we're *almost* guaranteed survival in the Championship, I thought I'd create an enormous thread of the most incredible campaign in living memory.

Likes + RTs welcome and all that.
14th June 2019 - Jonathan Woodgate is announced as manager of Middlesbrough Football Club. In his first press conference, he makes clear his desire to "win games by scoring goals", employing an "edge-of-the-seat, attacking mentality". We'll see how that goes.
Joining Woodgate in his quest for Championship glory is former Irish international and Spurs striker Robbie Keane. He'll be tasked with getting the best out of a front two bought for a combined £22m.
4th July 2019 - Woodgate announces his first signing - Tomás Mejías joins from Cypriot side AC Omonia and is re-united with the club he left after just 7 (shaky) appearances under Aitor Karanka. He is expected to be third keeper behind Randolph and 19-year-old Aynsley Pears.
20th July 2019 - The undoubted lowlight of the summer, Boro are handed a thumping by Bundesliga 2 side Heidenheim. For reasons unknown, VAR was employed for this match and, in typical fashion, it chalked off a Rudy Gestede effort that would have put us 2-0 up. Heidenheim win 5-1.
26th July 2019 - Woodgate announces his second signing of the summer. Boro pay an undisclosed fee for West Ham forward Marcus Browne, who has impressed on loan at Oxford United. He is described as "direct and attacking-minded", something necessary for Woodgate's philosophy.
28th July 2019 - Boro announce the signing of Blackpool left-back Marc Bola, their third signing of the window. One of the players of the year at the Tangerines in 2018/19, he is expected to challenge the ageing George Friend and young prodigy Hayden Coulson for a place.
2nd August 2019 - Matchday 1 is finally here. The Woodgate era starts with a Friday night trip to Kenilworth Road. In spite of an excellent strike from Lewis Wing to put the visitors 3-2 up, a missed penalty from £15m (!) Britt Assombalonga means Boro have to settle for a draw...
...in part thanks to a goal from a former Boro player, defender Martin Cranie. This will happen a lot this year.
7th August 2019 - The final signing of the window is announced. Charlton right-back Anfernee Dijksteel is snapped up for a fee of around £2m. The move caps off one of the least effective windows in recent memory.
The result:

Mejías - no league appearances, only featuring twice in the FA Cup, mainly to give Lo Celso some much-needed confidence.
Browne - loaned back to Oxford after a turbulent spell.
Bola - loaned out to Blackpool in January after a mediocre period in and out of the team.
The only summer signing to feature towards the end of the season, Anfernee Dijksteel has certainly been the best acquisition, but this isn't saying much - he also missed 8 months of football with a serious knee injury.

A poor first month of football for Woodgate. Boro accumulate just 6 points from their first 6 games. Three or four poor refereeing decisions leave us scratching our heads, but subpar performances against Brentford and Blackburn leave a lot to be desired.
However, undoubtedly the worst moment in August is Boro's exit from the Carabao Cup. Woodgate's side come back from 2-0 down against League Two side Crewe Alexandra to equalise in the 90th minute, only to be beaten on penalties. Who missed a penalty? Britt Assombalonga of course!

Few games were played in September, but it produced arguably the worst performance of the season. A relatively sound 1-0 home win over Reading was soon forgotten when Sheffield Wednesday came to the Riverside and found themselves 4-1 up by the 34th minute.
Once again, a former Boro player was amongst the goals - Chester-le-Street born academy graduate Adam Reach scored Wednesday's third of the afternoon.

Boro find themselves with work to do.

This is where the 'fun' begins. An uneventful 1-1 draw with Preston is followed by Birmingham away. An awful performance in which a 2-1 defeat flatters Boro. A 16 year old does this to a professional midfield https://twitter.com/i/status/1227923115667329024
Two games later Boro draw 0-0 at the John Smith's Stadium with a hopeless Huddersfield side sitting on just 9 points. This doesn't require words.
4 days later, Boro draw 0-0 once again, this time at the Riverside with Fulham. The away side lose goalkeeper Marek Rod√°k to a red card after 17 minutes. Boro do not record another shot on target for the rest of the game.
There have been some ridiculous moments this season, but this probably takes the cake.
Jonathan Woodgate claims that the league table is lying. Boro find themselves goalless in their last 3 games, winless since September 14th and in the bottom 3.
Two days after claiming the Championship table is false, Woodgate’s side are swept aside by Derby. George Saville is sent off early in a 2-0 defeat.

Britt Assombalonga manages to do this.

4 games without a goal.
After a return to the goal column in a 2-2 draw at QPR, Boro find themselves in the driver’s seat against Hull City.

2-0 up in the first half, cruising after some excellent goals. What could go wrong?

Marvin Johnson does this. Boro end up drawing 2-2.
Boro FINALLY get a win in a 1-0 victory over Barnsley at the Riverside - their first in two and a half months.

New signing Anfernee Dijksteel is taken off with a serious knee injury. We won't see him until July 8th 2020.
The worst game of the season. A 4-0 pummelling at the hands of Leeds United. Only the most optimistic (and probably deluded) Boro fans are happy with the job Jonathan Woodgate has done so far.

Boro are one point above the relegation zone entering December.
While December would prove to be Boro's most successful month of the season, it didn't go without incident.

Woodgate sees a 3-1 defeat against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. Marcus Browne and Paddy McNair are both dismissed. This is the start of Browne's fall from Boro grace.
Boro win 4 games in December (Charlton, Stoke, Huddersfield and WBA).

This is the pick of the bunch, however. 3 days before the start of 2020, Boro have themselves their Goal of the Decade.
After their first away win since May 5th at league leaders West Brom, Boro enter the new year as high as 16th. They are just 9 points from a playoff spot.

Could 2020 offer a revitalisation under Jonathan Woodgate?
2020 starts in the same way 2019 ended - Rudy Gestede is FINALLY amongst the goals at Deepdale in a 2-0 win over Preston.

What could the future hold? Boro have an enticing FA Cup tie against Champions League finalists Spurs on Sunday, and the transfer window has now opened.
2nd January 2020 - Just one day later, Woodgate announces his first January signing - mercurial Man City winger Patrick Roberts is recalled from Norwich to go to the Riverside on loan.
(Spoiler alert - it does not get much better from here).

3rd January 2020 - The Man City loan double is completed - German striker Lukas Nmecha is recalled from Wolfsburg to join Boro.

No words can describe how bad this signing has been.
Middlesbrough's FA Cup tie against Spurs is a success. Despite being pegged back by a Lucas Moura header, Fletcher's (offside) opener means 3,900 fans will travel to North London on a cold Tuesday night for a replay. Not even Tomás Mejías could stop Boro (yet).
Back to the Championship for Boro and Wayne Rooney's Derby County are in town.

The hosts find themselves 2-1 up, heading into added time. This would be their 7th win in a month and a half.

Duane Holmes fires a volley from 25 yards. 2-2.
Boro's replay at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is a good day out and nothing more. Mejías gifts the ball to Lo Celso and the rest is history.

Academy graduate Ben Liddle is thrown straight into the fire, making his professional debut against the likes of Moura, Son and Kane.
(correction: Kane was injured)
Just days later, Boro are again beaten in the capital. Fulham run rampant in a 1-0 victory that raises even more questions about Boro's attacking capabilities.
Shithousery alert ūüö®

In a 1-1 draw with Birmingham, the visitors appear to nab a winner but the referee harshly stops play in the middle of the Blues’ attack that leads to a goal for an injury to Marcus Tavernier.

A fight follows that causes Pep Clotet to complain to the EFL.
Before the January window was over, Middlesbrough made three signings - two loans, one permanent:
Macedonian keeper Dejan Stojanovińá joins the Boro midway through the window in a deal worth ¬£1m. He had been first choice goalkeeper at St. Gallen in Switzerland. Aynsley Pears remains the number 1 for the considerable future.
On deadline day, Boro acquired Cameroonian international Harold Moukoudi on loan from French club AS Saint-√Čtienne. The powerful centre-back would be crucial over the next few months.
At the last minute, Boro took a gamble on out-of-favour midfielder Ravel Morrison, signing him on loan from Sheffield United.
Boro had made significantly more waves in the market in January than during the summer, but they still needed results. A boring 1-1 draw vs Blackburn and a defeat at resurging Brentford left Boro in a very important stage of the season.
Their next three games would see them take on all of the bottom three before the end of February - Wigan, Luton and Barnsley.

Boro sit 7 points above the drop zone, so some good results here would relieve relegation worries.
Game 1 - Wigan (a)

Two long-range efforts from Lewis Wing mean Boro have a 2-1 lead going into the late stages.

As we know, Boro are fantastic at holding leads.

Take a bow, Harold.
Game 2 - Luton (h)

Coming into this game, Luton Town have 14 away losses. That's more than Boro's total losses. This is probably the easiest game of the season on paper.

Game 3 - Barnsley (a)

A bounce back is needed. Oakwell has hardly been a fortress for the side bottom of the table, so maybe today is the day Boro find their form?

1-0 Barnsley. Woodgate's side don't have a single shot on target. "You're not fit to wear the shirt" can be heard.
The last game in February is a Wednesday night encounter with Leeds United. After taking just 1 point from the bottom 3 sides, this match is expected to be ugly, and while Boro actually performed much better, they still fail to take a point from the game. It finishes 1-0 Leeds.
Not looking good. Only goal difference is stopping Boro from falling into the bottom 3. Forest (h) next...
Boro draw 2-2 with Forest. They lead in the game for 42 minutes, but again the hosts cannot hold onto it. Aynsley Pears is at fault for some weak goalkeeping against Lewis Grabban. He is dropped.
Now Boro's most important game of the season looms. They have a trip to the Valley to face Charlton (20th) on Sat 7th March, while remaining in the bottom three.

Coronavirus is starting to hit the UK hard and it's touch and go as to whether the season will continue for long.
FINALLY a win! It finishes 1-0 Charlton as Boro climb out of the bottom three. This is their first win since New Year's Day, but somehow this isn't the longest win drought of the season.

We'll see you in 3 and a half months.
*insert 3 months without football while Hull and Charlton implode*
And we're back! Woodgate's side face Swansea at the Riverside behind closed doors, more than 100 days after the Charlton game.

A chance to kick on and forget 2020's shambolic start?

No. 3-0 Swansea. A total disaster of a performance in every area.
23rd June 2020 - The moment most Boro fans had been waiting for. Jonathan Woodgate is shown the door, and grizzled veteran Neil Warnock replaces him.
The Woodgate era is over. Over a year after his appointment promised "exciting, attacking football", he departs having taken just 41 points from a possible 114. Also, Boro are the lowest goalscorers in the division. Unsurprisingly, Robbie Keane departs as well.
Rudy Gestede can't agree a new contract to finish the season. With the Beninese striker set to leave on June 30th, Warnock tells him in the nicest possible way to "fuck off".
Boro win Warnock's first game in charge. 4 centre-backs can't stop Stoke from conceding twice to Fletcher and Tavernier. Nick Powell shithouses his way to a stupid red card. A good start.
Things were looking too good to be true, and they were. Hull City were the next opponents, winless since New Year's Day and left with a Bowen-shaped hole since the fixture at the Riverside in November. 1-0 up after just 3 minutes, surely Warnock's side were sailing?

2-1 Hull.
QPR visit on Sunday July 5th. They had lost their first 3 games post-lockdown, but former Boro player and Boro fan Jordan Hugill was starting for the visitors.

Naturally, he fired a 25 yard volley over the head of Stojanovic, doing his hamstring in the process.

FT: 1-0 QPR.
Change is needed. Boro are 5 games from the end of the season and find themselves again in the relegation zone (not including Wigan's administration point deduction). Millwall will prove a tough test against a much more physical side.
Warnock's new-look 5-3-2 setup works wonders. Boro win the lion's share of the second balls and sail to a 2-0 win.

In other news, Dijksteel returns from injury off the bench - this is the first time since January that one of Woodgate's summer signings has featured.
In Boro's next match, Warnock's 5-3-2 setup does NOT work wonders. Some fantastic Bristol City goals and awful goalkeeping sink the home side to a 3-1 defeat, although Assombalonga scores his 3rd goal in 4 games.

Virgil Van Shotton picks up a knock. His Boro career is over.
Boro are victims of the French Cup final. Saint-√Čtienne cannot strike a deal with Arsenal to keep William Saliba for the French Cup final, so the French side recall Harold Moukoudi from Boro.

Once Shotton's departure is announced on Tuesday, Boro are left with one first-team CB.
At the Madejski, Boro name two left-backs, a centre-back and two right-backs in their starting lineup to face Reading. Patrick Roberts finally leaves the Adama Traoré school of end product by scoring his first league goal. Boro win from behind for the second time all year.
Elsewhere, Hull lose 8-0 to administrated Wigan. Survival is almost confirmed at this point, with Boro requiring a single point to ensure survival in the second tier.
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