Monk’s men must be up for the fight

Sunday Sun - - Football -

IT SHOULD amaze none of us that noth­ing ever works out as ex­pected in the game of foot­ball.

If the book­ies’ sum­mer pre­dic­tions had proved cor­rect, Boro would now find them­selves a few points clear at the top of the Cham­pi­onship.

They may still win pro­mo­tion of course. Cer­tainly Boro’s squad is at least a match for any­body else in the league.

Yet if Garry Monk’s men are go­ing to re­turn to the Premier League at the first at­tempt then they must pre­pare for a sea­son­long war of at­tri­tion.

While some fans might have ex­pected the ma­jor po­ten­tial com­pe­ti­tion to come from the like of Hull, Sun­der­land and As­ton Villa, in fact it has emerged else­where.

Re­vi­talised Leeds and Cardiff have hit the ground run­ning, while Sh­effield United, Wolves and Pre­ston also have rea­son to dream of the Premier League.

Monk must cast a wry smile when he looks across at the events at El­land Road.

In­stead of mas­ter­mind­ing the Boro re­vival, he could eas­ily have been lead­ing for­mer club Leeds for­ward this sum­mer.

I don’t sug­gest for one minute Monk has any re­grets about mak­ing his switch to Teesside.

He has thor­oughly com­mit­ted him­self to the job in hand and should feel pleased with the qual­ity of the squad he has put to­gether, in ad­di­tion to its pro­mo­tion prospects.

One thing which Monk can bank on at Boro is a set­tled and sup­port­ive board­room. It’s some­thing he did not have at Leeds un­der Massimo Cellino, who was re­garded as an ec­cen­tric owner.

Cellino has since sold out to An­drea Radz­iz­zani, while new Leeds man­ager Thomas Chris

tiansen ap­pears to have Garry Monk giv­ing in­struc­tions to his Boro play­ers at the River­side yes­ter­day made a big im­pact in the Leeds dress­ing room.

It’s ironic most of Chris­tiansen’s sign­ings have been rec­om­mended by di­rec­tor of foot­ball Vic­tor Orta, who was with the Teessiders last sea­son.

Boro first meet Leeds at El­land Road in mid-Novem­ber. It prom­ises to be an ab­so­lute cracker of an at­mo­sphere.

An­other big threat to Boro’s pro­mo­tion push is be­ing led by Neil Warnock, who has com­pletely re­vi­talised Cardiff City’s for­tunes. Warnock has an un­canny habit of build­ing highly suc­cess­ful teams in the Cham­pi­onship al­most overnight.

The Blue­birds visit the River­side in mid-Oc­to­ber – an­other game which will be seen as a pro­mo­tion six-pointer.

Then there’s the likes of pro­moted Sh­effield United, who have made a light­ning start un­der Chris Wilder, plus mon­ey­bags Wolves and Pre­ston – who out­played Boro at the Riv- er­side two weeks ago. No­body for one minute ex­pects Boro to “smash the Cham­pi­onship”, es­pe­cially fol­low­ing early re­sults. In fact the Teessiders might find the go­ing tougher than in their last pro­mo­tion ex­pe­ri­ence.

How­ever, bear­ing in mind the qual­ity which Monk has amassed, you still wouldn’t want to bet against Boro win­ning a place back in the top flight once this new-look squad has gelled.

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