With Brighton & Hove Albion’s opponents for the 2015/16 Championship season now confirmed, the club’s media team will take a look at the Seagulls’ 23 opponents for the next campaign.
The 15th team to feature in our opposition focus series is Middlesbrough.
2014/15 SEASON REVIEW
Middlesbrough’s season ultimately ended in disappointment following their 2-0 defeat to Norwich City in the Championship Play-Off Final, but manager Aitor Karanka can reflect on a campaign of great progress for the Teessiders.
Boro ended the 2013/14 season in 12th place and eight points adrift of the play-off places, but last season proved that they are now serious promotion contenders.
Karanka’s side had an inconsistent start to the campaign, as three of their first six games ended in defeats to Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Reading respectively.
But Boro bounced back with only two defeats in their next 17 matches in all competitions, including an extraordinary 14-13 loss on penalties to Liverpool in the Capital One Cup with the score at 2-2 after extra-time.
Middlesbrough progressed through to the FA Cup fifth round after a 2-0 win over League One Barnsley in round three before a highly-impressive 2-0 win away at Manchester City in round four. The Teessiders could not repeat the feat against cup holders Arsenal, as Arsene Wenger’s team recorded a 2-0 victory at the Emirates.
In one of the most exciting promotion races in recent years, Middlesbrough’s 3-0 and 2-0 defeats to eventual champions Bournemouth and runners-up Watford respectively proved costly, as Karanka’s team settled for a fourth-place finish.
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Albion ended the season with a goalless draw against promotion-chasing Middlesbrough at the Riverside.
Both sides showed plenty of endeavour without really carrying a goalscoring threat, with the Seagulls having already secured their Championship safety while Boro had already clinched a play-off place.
Young shot-stopper Christian Walton was given another chance to impress in the first team after being handed a start by Chris Hughton, but arguably the most memorable moment of the game came in stoppage time as 16-year-old James Tilley made his senior debut.
Middlesbrough line-up: Konstantopoulos; Tiendalli (Nsue 59), Ayala, Gibson, Amorebieta; Leadbitter, Clayton; Forshaw (Vossen 59), Tomlin (Reach 73), Adomah; Garcia Martinez.
Subs not used: Ripley (GK), Omeruo, Whitehead, Carayol.
Albion line-up: Walton; Halford, Greer, Dunk, Bennett; Stephens, Ince (Calderon 79), Kayal; Forster-Caskey (Tilley 90+5), O’Grady (Mackail-Smith 72), LuaLua.
Subs not used: Stockdale (GK), Bruno, Holla, Best.
After a distinguished playing career including spells at Athletic Bilbao, Real Madrid and MLS side Colorado Rapids, Aitor Karanka became assistant manager to Jose Mourinho in a three-year period at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Mourinho’s departure to Chelsea coincided with Karanka’s departure from the Spanish giants, before his appointment as Middlesbrough boss in November 2013.
The Spaniard secured a mid-table finish during his first season in charge, but subsequently guided the Teessiders to the Play-Off Final - losing 2-0 to Norwich City in this year’s final.
Middlesbrough are already being tipped as one of the favourites for promotion.
Aitor Karanka definitely has a side capable of mounting a serious challenge for automatic promotion once again and it is up to the players to complete the job.
Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford was arguably the player of the season in 2014/15 and his 19 goals were crucial in the previous campaign.
But with a number of Premier League clubs reportedly keen on taking the young prospect, Boro are likely to need a replacement to lead their own charge for top-flight football.
See Albion v Middlesbrough at the Amex plus 22 other opponents from as low as £20.22 per game by purchasing a season ticket for 2015/16.