Middlesbrough came so close to promotion last season… Play-off final, at Wembley, but they blew it. A 2-0 loss to Norwich on the big stage.
A massive part of their journey to Wembley was the form of on-loan striker Patrick Bamford. The striker was on loan from Chelsea for the season and bagged 17 goals, winning Championship Player Of The Year in the process.
Boro wanted to bring him back for the current season but he’s gone on to sign for Crystal Palace and Norwich in the Premier League since he left the club. They ended up bringing in David Nugent to lead the line instead for the first half of the season.
However, coming into January, Boro wanted that big name striker who would fire them to the Premier League. They needed to replicate the success of Bamford. On paper, Jordan Rhodes seemed like the perfect signing. Rhodes is proven in the Championship, he is a 20+ goal a season striker and is a big name for fans to get excited about.
So, Boro finally got their man on deadline day at the end of the winter window for a reported £9m + add-ons. Since coming into the team Rhodes has managed just the one goal in nine appearances. There just seems to be a problem with the forward. He isn’t settling in well at all. I don’t think Rhodes fits into their system.
If you are going to have Rhodes in your side, I think you need another striker to play off. Just look at how well he did last season with Rudy Gestede alongside him. I mean, Rhodes is still going to score some goals for Boro, there is no doubting that. However, his overall contribution to the team is not going to impress many fans.
There were two other strikers that they were linked with that I think would have been far more suited to Middlesbrough’s style of play than Rhodes; Cameron Jerome and Ross McCormack.
Jerome was linked with an £8m switch from Premier League side Norwich City. Jerome scored against Boro in the Play-Off final last season and scored 21 goals in all competitions last season for Norwich. He has been poor this season in the top-flight for the Canaries and so a move could have been a good option for both parties.
I think he would have been more suited to Boro’s style of play due to his constant running and work ethic that served him so well last season in the Championship. Having players like Gaston Ramirez, Albert Adomah and Stewart Downing around him would surely have been a recipe for success. The only problem with that would have been that they would then have needed to sign a replacement for him in the summer as he just isn’t able to cut it in the Premier League.
Then there is Ross McCormack. For me, he was the man Boro should have signed. Maybe the money Fulham wanted was just a little too much. However, it would have been well worth the price. You don’t need him to fit your system because he is just that good on his own.
McCormack creates chances for himself due to his fantastic ability on the ball, coupled with his superb movement off it. He would surely have delivered the good if Boro were to have signed him. They had a £9m bid rejected but just couldn’t agree a deal with Fulham to push a deal over the line.
In conclusion, I think Rhodes will come good for them. However, I think if they went with McCormack then they would have been far better off in the short-term. If Boro don’t go up this season, Rhodes will be key. If they do get promoted then they will need to sign a striker to play up with him, possibly even McCormack, who knows?